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Changing Mind and Fact

by on August 23, 2011

“It is a time for watching and waiting to see how things are going to turn out. It is a time to think how we are going to assure the security of Israel’s citizens in the southern part of the country from daily rocket attacks, and make sure that those living in the north and the center of the country do not share their fate,” writes Moshe Arens, former member of the Knesset (Likud). In 1982, Arens became the Israeli ambassador to the United States for a year, before returning to Israel to become Defense Minister. Arens served as Foreign Minister from 1988 to 1990. Arens became defense minister again between 1990 and 1992, retired from politics, only to return in 1999 to the same portfolio.

Moshe Arens is a rational voice with a rational argument – “let’s wait and see how things are going to turn out.”  However, I’m not sure I could disagree with him more – not because he makes a states a sensible conservative philosophy, but because he argues that “It is a time to put away the placards calling for ‘Peace Now’ and ‘An End to the Occupation.’ It may be the time for those demanding ‘social justice’ for the “middle class” to fold their tents.”  So it’s the middle class of the tent cities, the advocates for peace, that are the distraction from enhancing the national security state.  It’s a fascinating political philosophy that says “we’ll be safer if we just beat a few more people up.”

Even more than dissuading the middle class from protesting cost of living and quality of life, Arens is writing about a changing world.  He begins his introduction to this changing world by mentioning that “John Maynard Keynes, the great economist, once said in a debate: ‘When the facts change I change my mind, what do you do, sir?'”  The world is changing.  We’re talking about a world where Egypt is transitioning from dictatorship to democracy, a civil war in Libya is ending to ensure the same, and the dictatorship of Syria has been unable to shoot and bomb its own people into silence.   Yes, the world is changing.

What I have not seen is that ‘when the facts change I change my mind, what do you do, sir?’.  I make no pretense that a change in fact will change my mind, or that my mind will not change without seeing a change in fact.  It is understandable, but not sensible, to me that Arens would speak of changing his mind when the facts are changed.  The facts have been changed; he documents this clearly.  His mind has not been changed, a mind that says only security state, security state, security state.  How you secure the state is another matter.

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