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User ID: 1218

I disagree that this is about moral value, or even specific to sex.

Instead, I think people are unhappy because they've noticed that time has passed. They haven't built the life they imagined. And they're starting to notice doors closing to them, simply because of the march of time.

This feels like a betrayal because society "promised" them that the opportunities of youth would always be open to them. People were free to dabble at different life paths for as long as they liked. There would always be time to choose later.

The key quote, for me, is from Sylvia Plath:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.

One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet

Plath's idea is that all of the options are good. They're just mutually-exclusive. Picking one means giving up on the rest, if only because people only have so many hours in a day, and only so many years in each season of our life.

Society's lie was that women never had to pick one option. They could do it all. They could devote themselves to a career AND build a warm home with kids. They just had to do the career first and the kids could come later. They could spend decades dating AND enjoy a life-shaping marriage. They just had to do the dating first and the commitment would come later.

The problem is simply that humans are mortal. Time passes. We age. Options go away.

The anger we're seeing now is that women who wanted to raise families put it off. This is probably partly because commitment is scary, and partly because every major outlet in society has spent the last 20 decade celebrating women-with-careers and single women.

I'll certainly agree that a woman in her mid-30s faces a tough dating market, especially if she wants to have kids in the near future. But I think it has relatively little to do with the number of partners, and simply has to do with the ticking of a biological clock, and the pool of partners.

To show why I think this is "Time" and not "Number of Partners," imagine 3 similarly-attractive female friends. One traveled and worked an intense job; she'd have a one-night-stand every couple months. Another did serial dating; her relationships lasted 2 or 3 years a piece. The third married; she and her husband had a happy, if childless, marriage until he died tragically a few years ago.

Assuming the women are now 35, the first woman might have had 90 partners (a one-night-stand every couple months, over 15 years), the second woman would have around 6 partners (a new boyfriend every 2 or 3 years, for 15 years), and the third would have had 1 partner. This is vastly different dating experience.

If "Number of Partners" mattered, I'd expect them to have very different experiences when they all started their search for a potential husband. While there might be small differences, I think they'd all find the dating market to be pretty challenging and certainly harder than it was when they were starting out in their 20s. So, time seems like the most important thing.

To apply this to a couple items from @JarJarJedi's list:

There is a concerted sustained multi-generational effort from the leftists in academia, entertainment and other institutions to subvert and transform Western society to undermine traditional Western values and make the society accept Marxist values instead. Identity politics, political correctness, and other culture war phenomena are part of this effort.

This is a great example of the "Low Status" prong.

Can I find groups of academics who support Marxism, coordinate to advance Marxist interests and object to many traditional Western Values? Sure. These groups exist. Many of have websites.

If this were an in-person conversation, I'd wryly notice that the alternative to the "Conspiracy Theory" sounds even more conspiratorial and crazy:

Lots of people say that our institutions have been moved towards Marxism by the hundreds of Marxist Student Associations and thousands of Marxist professors who've been active in political advocacy in universities since World War II.

But the truth is that these people were NOT making a sustained multi-generation effort to transform Western Society. They might have claimed that this was their goal, but they were all independently lying; Marxist societies do not communicate or work to promote Marx and are instead all secretly apolitical.

(NB: The above passage describes a secret-history and would be low-status to believe. It feels right to call it a "conspiracy theory" even though it's a claim that there's NOT a conspiracy.)

During an in-person conversation, I'd expect my conversation partner to roll their eyes at this and explain that, sure, obviously there've been hundreds (or thousands) of pro-Marx groups on University Campuses. And, obviously, there'd have been ten-thousands or millions or informal discussions by colleagues who supported Marx and talked about how to vote on various faculty issues. And, obviously, these people would be supporting Marxist values.

But, OBVIOUSLY, that's not what the conspiracy theory is saying.

Except, if we spell it out like that, what exactly is the conspiracy theory?

We could say that the difference between the mundane belief (hundreds or thousands of pro-Marx groups existed, promoted Marxism for decades and have been more-or-less successful at winning policy objectives) and the "conspiracy theory" is one of scale. The conspiracy theorists is implying that the Marxists are responsible for a LARGE fraction of the change in universities, while the non-conspiracy-theorist is only attributing a small fraction of the cultural change in universities to Marxists.

Except, I don't think that magnitude-of-change is really important. For one thing, neither the Conspiracy Theorist nor the other faction have offered any specific percentage, and the conspiracy theorist would still feel like a conspiracy theorist if they lowballed the number and said, "actually, those marxists sucked at getting stuff done; they've been trying for a long time to minimal effect."

Instead, the difference seems to be purely about vibes. The conspiracy theorist is adding a vibe that these meetings are shadowy and secret and bad. The other side of the conversation is likely using the "That didn't happen. But, if it did, it would be normal and good." approach.

So, to me, the difference between the "Conspiracy Theory" version of this belief and the mundane version is mostly about the status someone wants to attribute to Marx-sympathetic professors.

Obama have been born outside the US and his birth certificate was faked, and this fakery is supported by government officials for partisan political reasons This is a secret history. It's low status now, so it's a conspiracy theory. If we find that Obama's records were described in an office fire in 1983 and the PDFs released by Hawaii were reconstructions by a Hawaii official, then this belief will cease to be a secret history.

North Steam gas pipeline has been blown up by Ukrainians or the CIA (or both in collusion) Secret history, but not low status, so not a conspiracy theory.

DNC emails were leaked by somebody from inside of DNC and not stolen by Russians, but Russia was blamed in service of the political narrative. Secret history. This becomes a conspiracy theory in-as-far as the believer makes themselves seem kooky.

Epstein did not kill himself This would be a literal conspiracy; multiple people would have met in secret and coordinated the commission of a felony to make this happen. But it's not a low-status belief, and I'm not sure it even counts as a secret history.

I'd translate "Conspiracy Theory" as "Low Status Secret History."

Notably, the secret history doesn't need to involve an actual conspiracy. The idea that Ancient Aliens built the pyramids is low-status and offers a secret-history account of the pyramids. So, "Ancient Aliens Built the Pyramids" is a conspiracy theory, even though no one is accusing the Aliens of meeting in secret.

Similarly, there are actual conspiracies. The 9/11 hijackers met in secret, planned to commit a criminal act, and then took steps to commit that act. That's a criminal conspiracy. But, "Hijackers Did 9/11!" isn't a conspiracy theory because it's not a low-status belief, nor a secret-history explanation.

Finally, "Conspiracy Theory" is a bit of a sneer. The Russel conjugation is that I'm a skeptic. You believe in an alternate history. He's a conspiracy theorist. So, calling something a conspiracy theory is me implying that it's status-lowering to believe.

This is how some beliefs ("Epstein Didn't Kill Himself" / "COVID-19 very likely came from an animal in a Wuhan Lab") can count as conspiracy theories, or not, depending on the social circle and the time frame. There was a while where it was low-status to think that COVID-19 came from a lab, so that was a conspiracy theory. Now, we haven't gotten much new evidence, but the tribal politics changed, so it no longer counts.

I'd break this into 3 different scenarios:

  1. Israel uses an actual nuclear weapon
  2. Israel uses conventional bombs and openly abandons any attempts at targeting.
  3. Israel uses conventional bombs. Lots of conventional bombs. Gaza burns to the ground. Israel makes reasonable attempts at PR.

Scenario #1 would be unthinkable. As @Stefferi says, "tak[ing] the nuclear genie out of the bottle" is a huge deal.

Scenario #2 would be very bad, but probably survivable for Israel. The problem with thinking about this scenario is that an Israel that openly abandons any attempt at targeting is making some very strange PR decisions. If Israel is openly admitting that they're trying to kill civilians en-mass, would they still be trying to maintain normal diplomatic relations with the US?

Israel would likely face a lot of sanctions. I don't think the issue would be the act itself. Lots of countries have killed lots of people, to minimal consequence in the international stage. But, countries have to maintain the pretense of caring about civilian life. Removing that pretense is -- like firing a nuclear weapon -- a dangerous first step.

That said, I don't think this would lead to a war, simply because I don't think any of Israel's neighbors have the ability to fight Israel and win. Given that, I don't think Israel's neighbors would be motivated enough to pick a fight that they'd lose.

Scenario #3 would generate some nasty headlines, but I don't know if it would actually change geopolitics. The issue comes down to the modern version of "Fog of War;" the news outlets that oppose Israel would publish anti-Israel stories. But Israel's opponents have been accusing Israel of genocide for decades, so I don't know that they've left themselves room to increase the intensity of their rhetoric.

Even setting journalistic dishonesty aside, I'm imagining a friend trying to convince me to change my opinion of Israel based on the new bombing campaign. I'd like to think that I'm following the conflict more closely than other people. But I couldn't tell you how many bombs Israel launches in a day. So, if my friend told me that Israel launched 1,000 bombs into Palestine is that a lot? Maybe they'd frame the situation as Israel launching 100x as many bombs as they did last week. But, again, is that a lot?

Scope insensitivity is very much a thing. I can understand the tragedy of an individual death. I could see photos of an elementary school getting bombed and feel more tragic. But, once we get past ~40 victims, the statistics just start to feel like numbers. The 2011 Tohoku Earthquake resulted in 18,000 people dead, but is that better or worse than the 2023 Earthquake in Turkey?

Similarly, the New York Times can put a photo of a bombed building on a their front page and imply that it's a bombed hospital, and that's sad. But could they present a bombed region in a notably more sympathetic way?

…what if the “sovereign, successful Palestine” doesn’t materialize?

Israel can guarantee a sovereign Palestine. A successful Palestine would be nice-to-have but not really a strategic requirement.

Say Israel kills every card-carrying Hamas member, and no one else. I don’t think that makes the problem go away. There will still be young, angry men looking to avenge their friends and family. There will also still be outside powers interested in pushing the infidels out of Jerusalem. [...] Would another siege and another piece of paper be any different?

I think I'm proposing two material changes.

The first is that, by withdrawing, Israel can close its borders with the now-sovereign Gaza. Israel would be within its rights to completely block the movement of people and goods between two countries. So, that would limit the extent to which Gazas residents have an opportunity to damage Israel. Israel has, until recently, not closed its borders.

The second material change is that I'm suggesting Israel treat the current conflict (and any future conflicts) like wars rather than police actions in an occupied territory. The rules for a war against a hostile state are much less restrictive than the rules for a police action in an occupied territory. Gaza might start another conflict, or a third. But realistically, a state can only lose so many wars before they run out people who are able and willing to continue a conflict.

Kinoite's Strategic Plan: A Legal War and a Heartless Peace

Last week, I wrote a post about the Geneva Convention and Israel's obligations to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza.

This week, I'd like to present a strategic plan for the Israeli side of the conflict. My proposal is that Israel should† do everything possible to avoid getting into an extended occupation or police action. Instead, Israel should frame the current conflict as a war. It should use the laws of war and the rules of Westphalian diplomacy to force the Gaza into a two-state solution.

Part 1: The Strategic Landscape

I've talked to a number of people who see Hamas' tactics as not merely cruel, but pointlessly cruel. Those people argue that Hamas has no path to victory; Hamas' rockets will never win a military victory, and Hamas makes no diplomatic demands that could ever be reasonably met. So, the continued conflict accomplishes nothing of strategic value.

I agree that the attacks are cruel, but see a cold logic behind them; Hamas' best chance to destroy Israel is by preventing Israel from negotiating a two-state solution. And Hamas' best chance to prevent a two-state solution is an endless, simmering conflict.

To use a passage from Freddie DeBoer:

Palestine is a Chinese finger trap; the more forcefully Israel acts, the more tightly the conflict will grip the country. The only way out is through de-escalation and the only permanent de-escalation is through formal legal recognition of Palestinians in the territories as full citizens in a democratic system. This might come from the establishment of a Palestinian state, or it might come with the absorption of the territories into a secular state of Israel-Palestine that extends perfectly equal legal and political rights to all people within it, as liberal values require.

Freddie is basically correct. The Palestinians cannot remain stateless residents of an Israeli-controlled territory forever. Israel might be able to keep Palestine as a separate-but-not-sovereign territory for another generation or two. But, eventually, there will be mounting pressure to tear down the walls that separate Israel from Palestine. Free movement will, in turn, would lead to pressure to give the Palestinians full citizenship and voting rights.

If Israel extends full citizenship and voting rights to Palestinians then Israel will cease to exist as a Jewish state.

The other possibility is an independent Palestine. If that happens, the pressure will mount in the other direction. A sovereign, successful Palestine might be able to press its land claims for a generation. Or two. But, eventually, land disputes become historical trivia rather than a live conflict and nations are pressured to accept peace.

Given the above, I think some amount of aggression served Hamas' goals. But the latest attacks were a massive overreach and a fatal strategic blunder.

Part 2: A Legal War

For my friends, everything; for my enemies, the law.

Israel cannot win an occupation so, instead, it should win a war.

In the short-term, Israel could successfully occupy Gaza. Certainly, Israel could blockade the region, move in ground forces, hold territory, and attempt to impose law-and-order on the population. I don't believe Israel could eliminate fighting completely. There are too many insurgents and the region seems too hostile. Worse, in-as-far as Israel spends time occupying Gaza, Israel is bringing itself ever closer to a one-state solution by default.

In addition to this, occupation creates a number of obligations on Israel:

ICRC: Occupation and international humanitarian law: questions and answers

What is occupation?

Article 42 of the 1907 Hague Regulations (HR) states that a " territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army. The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised." [...]

When does the law of occupation start to apply?

The rules of international humanitarian law relevant to occupied territories become applicable whenever territory comes under the effective control of hostile foreign armed forces, even if the occupation meets no armed resistance and there is no fighting.

The question of " control " calls up at least two different interpretations. It could be taken to mean that a situation of occupation exists whenever a party to a conflict exercises some level of authority or control within foreign territory. So, for example, advancing troops could be considered bound by the law of occupation already during the invasion phase of hostilities. This is the approach suggested in the ICRC's Commentary to the Fourth Geneva Convention (1958). [...]

What are the most important principles governing occupation?


  • The occupying power must take measures to restore and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety.
  • To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation.
  • Collective or individual forcible transfers of population from and within the occupied territory are prohibited.
  • The destruction or seizure of enemy property is prohibited, unless absolutely required by military necessity during the conduct of hostilities.
  • Cultural property must be respected. [...]

[NB: I made some formatting changes and omitted a significant number of obligations]

Those obligations are quite large, especially in the context of Israel's fight against Hamas. If Israel occupies Gaza, then Israel becomes responsible for providing food, medical care, hygiene supplies and the like to the "fullest extent of the means available" to Israel. That obligation would continue to exist, even if Hamas tried to capture food, or destroy civilian infrastructure.

In addition to creating an affirmative burden to provide for the people of Gaza, an occupation limits Israel's use of force. During an occupation, the destruction of property is forbidden unless "absolutely required by military necessity." In effect, occupation turns a conflict from a classic war into the sort of law-and-order problem that countries face when dealing with domestic terrorism. This is an extremely bad position for Israel as they try to police a region where they'd intensely opposed by the civilian population.

So, rather than occupy, Israel should simply treat the conflict as a war. They might have the capability to move ground forces in Gaza. But they have no obligation to do so. And, as long as Israel's forces are not holding territory, then the conflict is a military siege of an enemy-occupied city. That has vastly different obligations.

Relevant is Article 70 of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions.

Article 70 - Relief actions

[1] If the civilian population of any territory under the control of a Party to the conflict, other than occupied territory, is not adequately provided with the supplies mentioned in Article 69 , relief actions which are humanitarian and impartial in character and conducted without any adverse distinction shall be undertaken, subject to the agreement of the Parties concerned in such relief actions. [...]

[3] The Parties to the conflict and each High Contracting Party which allow the passage of relief consignments, equipment and personnel in accordance with paragraph 2:

(a) shall have the right to prescribe the technical arrangements, including search, under which such passage is permitted; (b) may make such permission conditional on the distribution of this assistance being made under the local supervision of a Protecting Power;

Israel should exercise its rights under 70.3a and 70.3b. That is, they should let aid come into the country, but only after a search and some ofter technical arrangements and only if the aid is distributed under the supervision of a protecting power. Put another way, Article 70 gives Israel an obligation to allow aid into Gaza but also lays out how a country can conduct a siege of an opposing force.

The "Protecting Power" piece is interesting. In this context protecting power is a third party country, nominated by Israel and accepted by Hamas, that has permission from Hamas to enter Gaza and oversee the distribution of aid. The relevant part of the Geneva conventions is:

Article 5 - Appointment of Protecting Powers and of their substitute


[2]. From the beginning of a situation referred to in Article 1 , each Party to the conflict shall without delay designate a Protecting Power for the purpose of applying the Conventions and this Protocol and shall, likewise without delay and for the same purpose, permit the activities of a Protecting Power which has been accepted by it as such after designation by the adverse Party.

[3]. If a Protecting Power has not been designated or accepted from the beginning of a situation referred to in Article 1 , the International Committee of the Red Cross, without prejudice to the right of any other impartial humanitarian organization to do likewise, shall offer its good offices to the Parties to the conflict with a view to the designation without delay of a Protecting Power to which the Parties to the conflict consent. For that purpose it may, ' inter alia ', ask each Party to provide it with a list of at least five States which that Party considers acceptable to act as Protecting Power on its behalf in relation to an adverse Party, and ask each adverse Party to provide a list of at least five States which it would accept as the Protecting Power of the first Party; these lists shall be communicated to the Committee within two weeks after the receipt of the request; it shall compare them and seek the agreement of any proposed State named on both lists.


The idea here is that Israel doesn't have an obligation to feed Hamas' fighters. Israel does have to feed civilians, but isn't expected to accept Hamas' word that civilian aid is going to civilians once it crosses into the territory controlled by Hamas. Israel is explicitly within its rights to ask that any aid be delivered to Gaza under the supervision of a protective party.

In Israel's position, I'd use my rights under 70.3.a to insist that aid shipments should only enter Gaza if they're accompanied by a military force that's large enough to reasonably defend the aid against bandits and thieves.

There are a few reasons to do this. The first is that the "protective party" clause would force other first-world nations to actually involve themselves in the conflict or admit that they don't particularly care. Next, Israel is being clear about Israel's obligations. Israel doesn't have to provide aid shipments. It simply has to allow food aid provided by other people.

Strategically, the goal of the siege is the same as the goal of any siege: Israel is pressing Hamas to surrender

With an occupation, all of the obligations fall on Israel. Hamas has little-to-no incentive to surrender during an occupation. Instead, they'd be incentivized to draw things out as long as possible, to better bleed Israel of funds and military forces. Any cease-fire during an occupation would work to Hamas' advantage.

With a siege, time would be on Israel's side. The longer a lawful siege continues, the longer first world nations (outside of Israel) are obliged to commit their forces to overseeing aid shipments. And, delays would serve to starve out Hamas' fighters.

Eventually, I think a siege would end with Hamas surrendering, if only via a claim that they no longer hold Gaza, or the conflict cooling enough that Israel is pushed by the international community to declare victory.

Part 3: A Heartless Peace

Part 3 of my suggestion is relatively simple. When Israel "wins" their siege of Gaza they should appoint a new government and do everything in their power to get out of the region as quickly as possible. From there, Israel should take the position that the newly-formed Gazan government holds sovereign control over Gaza.

From there, Israel should fall back to Westphalian Diplomacy. Questions like "Should Gaza and the West Bank count as a single country or two countries?" can be answered (by Israel at least) as "that is an internal matter for the government of Gaza."

Similarly, the newly-formed Gazan government might recognize Israel as a country, or not. Either way, Israel's reply could be "that is an internal matter for the government of Gaza." The newly-formed Gazan government might issue passports for its citizens, or not. Israel's reply could be "that is an internal matter for the government of Gaza," and so on.

I'm calling this "Heartless Peace" for two reasons.

The first is that, under the rules of international diplomacy, countries have very few obligations to one another. It's certainly kind and praiseworthy if one country sends aid to a starving neighbor. But, it's not required. It's generally good if countries issue visas so foreign nationals can cross their border for tourism or work. But this is not required. Israel would be within its rights to close its borders to Gazan residents, just as Mexico could decide not to issue tourist visas to Swedes.

In Israel's position, I'd close the borders to this newly-formed Gazan state, pending mutual recognition and a diplomatic process. This would mean that Gaza might have to import food and water via its ports and its land border with Egypt. That would certainly be inconvenient but, ultimately, not something that Israel is directly responsible for fixing.

The second reason I'm calling this a "Heartless Peace" is that I wouldn't expect it to last. Certainly, Israel should hope that this attempt at peace is the one that ends the long conflict with Palestine. And if that happens, Israel should be very happy. More likely, attacks would re-occur in a few years and Israel should be prepared.

If attacks happen, Israel should look to Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Article 51

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security

The rules of Westphalian diplomacy aren't particularly concerned with proportionality, as it applies to wars. Instead, the rule is that, when one nation attacks another, the second nation can go to war. So, if Israel is attacked by the newly-formed nation of Gaza, is should go back to the siege listed previously.

To some extent, this all might seem like legal-wordplay. The status quo is still that Gaza would periodically launch an attack on Israel, Israel would respond, destroy things, and eventually withdraw. I'm expecting basically that pattern to repeat, but with different labels.

My position is that these labels matter. If a country repeatedly bombs an occupied territory (or even civilian centers in its own territory!) to fight domestic terrorists, then that really is a human rights violation. The country that's killing occupied civilians seems to be in the wrong, even if the terrorists are also immoral. In contrast, if a country repeatedly attacks its neighbor, is bombed, and surrendered only to re-attack, then the country that's re-igniting the war seems to be in the wrong.

So, given the options available, I think Israel should step away from the status-quo where the Palestinian Territories are neither really occupied nor really sovereign in favor of a new status-quo where the Palestinian Territories are sovereign and operating under the relatively bright-line rules afforded by international diplomacy.

† I dislike the word "should" since it seems to smuggle in a lot of assumptions about goals. Within this post, an unspecified 'should' assumes that an actor has Israel's general interests in mind. These include the preservation of Israel as a majority-Jewish state, peace, and resolutions to diplomatic disputes that are as favorable to Israel as feasible.

If the supplies showed up at the border today, I'd expect Israel to claim something like:

We have good reason to believe those supplies will go missing. The area is nearly lawless. Medical supplies could be stolen or sabotaged for any number of reasons.

Then, they might also lean on the (omitted-for-space) passage in Article 23 which reads:

The Power which allows the passage of the consignments indicated in the first paragraph of this Article may make permission conditional on the distribution to the persons benefited thereby being made under the local supervision of the Protecting Powers.

Such consignments shall be forwarded as rapidly as possible, and the Power which permits their free passage shall have the right to prescribe the technical arrangements under which such passage is allowed.

It wouldn't feel that cynical for Israel to ask to have the neonatal incubators delivered by a neutral third party. Israel would want to have witnesses who could confirm that the incubators arrived intact and functional, if only so Israel could protect itself from accusations of wrongdoing.

Going by the spirit-of-the-law, Israel should make reasonable efforts to move quickly and find a neutral State that's willing use its military forces to deliver aid to the West Bank. When that happens, Israel is obliged to let the aid go through.

Going by the letter-of-the-law, Israel could probably drag the "Protecting Power" selection process out a fair bit. Israel has 2 weeks to give the Red Cross a list of "at least five" states that Israel would accept as a neutral third party. Hamas would need to approve a state from the list and the Red Cross would have to convince that state to get a detachment of military forces to the West Bank.

So, I don't think Israel would have an obligation to let the incubators in today. They'd have to let them in eventually, but the organization could take a few weeks if everyone's being reasonable and considerably longer if everyone's being unreasonable.

For #7: Israel has a legal obligation to allow humanitarian supplies, but only when there are controls in place to ensure that the food goes to civilians.

To investigate, I started with the Red Cross's articles: "Access for Humanitarian Relief to Civilians in Need" and "Starvation as a Method of Warfare"

These mostly reference rules from the Geneva conventions, specifically "Geneva Convention (IV) on Civilians, 1949", "Additional Protocol (I) to the Geneva Conventions, 1977" and "Additional Protocol (II) to the Geneva Conventions, 1977"

The 4th Geneva convention draws a distinction between nationals of a state that's signed on to the conventions, and nationals of other states Article 4, reads:

Article 4

... Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it. Nationals of a neutral State who find themselves in the territory of a belligerent State, and nationals of a co-belligerent State, shall not be regarded as protected persons while the State of which they are nationals has normal diplomatic representation in the State in whose hands they are. ...

Palestine hasn't agreed to follow the conventions, which matters when we get to Article 23, the first article referenced by the Red Cross:

Article 23 - Consignment of medical supplies, food and clothing

Each High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its adversary. It shall likewise permit the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases.

The obligation of a High Contracting Party to allow the free passage of the consignments indicated in the preceding paragraph is subject to the condition that this Party is satisfied that there are no serious reasons for fearing:

(a) that the consignments may be diverted from their destination,

(b) that the control may not be effective, or

(c) that a definite advantage may accrue to the military efforts or economy of the enemy through the substitution of the above-mentioned consignments for goods which would otherwise be provided or produced by the enemy or through the release of such material, services or facilities as would otherwise be required for the production of such goods.

This article imposes two obligations. Countries must:

  1. Allow aid targeted at children (under 15) and pregnant women, regardless of their nationality.
  2. Allow aid targeted at civilians - including adult civilians - if those civilians are nationals of a party that's following the conventions.

But Israel only needs to allow this aid in-as-far as Israel believes the aid will get to where it's supposed to go.

So, before Israel gets an obligation under Article 23, Hamas would need to commit to making sure that any aid shipments reached their intended recipients and didn't get used by non-civilians. If Hamas made that commitment, Israel would be obliged to feed kids and pregnant women.

Israel would only get an Article 23 obligation to allow aid targeted at adult civilians if Hamas (as that party controlling the Gaza strip) additionally agreed to follow the Geneva conventions.

But, the international community expanded these protections a bit in the additional protocols. The ICRC also cites Additional Protocol I, Article 70 - Relief Actions, which says

Article 70 - Relief Actions.

If the civilian population of any territory under the control of a Party to the conflict, other than occupied territory, is not adequately provided with the supplies mentioned in Article 69 , relief actions which are humanitarian and impartial in character and conducted without any adverse distinction shall be undertaken, subject to the agreement of the Parties concerned in such relief actions. Offers of such relief shall not be regarded as interference in the armed conflict or as unfriendly acts. In the distribution of relief consignments, priority shall be given to those persons, such as children, expectant mothers, maternity cases and nursing mothers, who, under the Fourth Convention or under this Protocol, are to be accorded privileged treatment or special protection.

  1. The Parties to the conflict and each High Contracting Party shall allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of all relief consignments, equipment and personnel provided in accordance with this Section, even if such assistance is destined for the civilian population of the adverse Party.

  2. The Parties to the conflict and each High Contracting Party which allow the passage of relief consignments, equipment and personnel in accordance with paragraph 2 ... (b) may make such permission conditional on the distribution of this assistance being made under the local supervision of a Protecting Power; (c) shall, in no way whatsoever, divert relief consignments from the purpose for which they are intended nor delay their forwarding, except in cases of urgent necessity in the interest of the civilian population concerned.

Israel doesn't currently occupy Gaza. When it does, Article 55 - Food and medical supplies for the population would kick in and oblige them to feed the occupied population. Until then, rule 70 seems to apply.

This rule, like the previous one, wants to allow humanitarian aid, but is concerned about it being seized for use in war. So, this rule introduces the notion of a "Protecting Power", which is a state that's not involved with the conflict.

Assuming the Geneva Conventions apply to Israel, then Israel does have an obligation. In the next two weeks, Israel has to give the ICRC a list of countries that Israel would trust to distribute humanitarian aid in Gaza. Hamas will try to find a country on the list that they find mutually agreeable.

When that happens, then Israel needs to let humanitarian aid come in under the supervision of a Protecting Power. But, until Hamas and Israel agree, there's no process for making sure that civilian aid actually reaches civilians, so Israel is within it's rights (under Article 70, anyway) to block humanitarian shipments that might help Hamas' war efforts.

Moving on, to ICRC's next article, "Starvation as a method of Warfare" I found two major citations. The first was "Article 54 - Protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population" of Additional Protocols 1, and the next was "Article 14 - Protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population" from Additional Protocols II.

These are pretty similar, and the relevant text reads:

Article 14 - Protection of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited. It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless, for that purpose, objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works.

This specific rule is about the destruction of objects so doesn't seem directly relevant to blockades.

Obviously, this post is only looking at one source of international law. However, I think the 1949 convention makes it clear that the international community is aware of loopholes like "demand humanitarian aid and use it to feed a military" and will write treaties accordingly.

Being unemployed is seen as a moral failing because someone has to provide for you

Partly. But not completely. A trust fund kid might have enough money to provide for him for the rest of his life. But, I'd still judge him if he decided to spend that life playing video games on a couch.

Is it his legal right? Sure. But I'd be applying a moral judgement, not a legal one.

Ultimately, we're judging people for not living up to (anything close to) their potential. That's why we'd judge the lazy-rich-kid, but not the mentally disabled kid, even if both of them lived superficially similar lives.

Failure stings when the person is failing at something they should be able to accomplish.

This seems silly and self-aggrandizing.

I don't believe that otherwise healthy people are putting engineering-degree levels of effort into learning to hold down basic retail job. If someone's telling you that they spent thousands of hours, with engineer-student level focus, and can't hack it at Payless Shoes, then I think they're lying to you.

We don't think there's something morally wrong with our hero because he can't sell shoes, or because he's a short, clumsy guy that sucks at basketball.

Competence and self-direction are virtues in men, so we expect men to get attainably competent at things that are important to them.

Our hero might not start as an amazing shoe-salesmen. But, I'd expect him to get good enough to hold down a retail job at a shoe store, especially with a few years of trying.

Applying that to dating: The background belief is that it's not that hard for an otherwise healthy guy to get into a relationship, or at least go on some dates.

So, if a guy isn't dating, then the assumption is that he has a lack-of-ambition issue (he's not asking anyone out), a lack-of-skill issue (every woman rejects him), or a lack-of-interest-in-adult-women issue (... what is he interested in?). None of those are especially flattering.

There's some strategic ambiguity in premises #1 and #2.

Consider "we have an obligation to not select our friends based on sex."

That could have two meanings. One meaning is that if Eve and I hit it off and are on track to become great friends, I shouldn't go "Eww! You're a girl! You have cooties!" and reject her based on sex alone.

The other, more controversial meaning is that I have an obligation to pick my friends via some process that doesn't have a disparate impact based on sex. Just as a corporate recruiter could be criticized for recruiting at tabletop war games, I could be criticized for making friends via tabletop war games.

That controversial take is hard to support. It is fine to make friends with people who share a common interest, even if that interest isn't equally distributed between the sexes.

Then, the implication for dating is that it's fine to only date people who are attractive to me, even if "attractive to me" isn't equally distributed between the sexes.

(Compare also: Ages. It's unlawful to refuse to hire old people. And it would be strange to reject a friend for being old. But it's normal to have things in common with people your own age, and to not be attracted to crones)

From there "heterosexual" is just a time saving descriptor rather than a vow or moral commitment.

It's philosophically possible that I could be attracted to crones, or men, or aliens. But, in practice that's not the case. So I say that I'm looking for partners who are adult human females. When that reality changes, the descriptor can change.

I wouldn’t link an progressive to the original source for that idea, but I'll include it for completeness.


The counter argument I like:

Politics is the coordinated use of power to overcome human opposition.

With an explanation:

Building a dam is not politics, because it is collective power against natural forces. Deciding to build the dam is politics, because no dam is in everyone’s interest—implying some human opposition that the pro-dam collective must overcome.

So, applying that idea, my private support for (as an example) animal rights isn't political. Private support is just a feeling.

Donating to a cat shelter isn’t politics because there's no human opposition.

Joining an argument in hopes that other people will be shamed into supporting animal rights is a political act because I'm hoping to overcome the apathy or antipathy of the opposition.