Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Importance of Josh Being Earnest

I read this after hearing it on CNN but I wanted to be sure my ears weren't playing tricks on me:

“The shelling of a U.N. facility that is housing innocent civilians who are fleeing violence is totally unacceptable and totally indefensible,” Earnest said. “And it is clear that we need our allies in Israel to do more to live up to the high standards that they have set for themselves.”

That Earnest is Josh Earnest, named White House press secretary less than two months ago.

Josh, The Importance of Being Earnest, we should recall, is subtitled "A Trivial Comedy for Serious People".  So, while you have an important job, let's keep to being serious rather than trivial.  And it deals with the escaping of burdensome social obligations.  One aspect is the change of names (and the title is a play of words) and on that is this exchange which sounds quite pertinent to what you said:

Algernon.  ...Why are you Ernest in town and Jack in the country?
Jack.  My dear Algy, I don’t know whether you will be able to understand my real motives.  You are hardly serious enough.  When one is placed in the position of guardian, one has to adopt a very high moral tone on all subjects.  It’s one’s duty to do so.  And as a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one’s health or one’s happiness, in order to get up to town I have always pretended to have a younger brother of the name of Ernest, who lives in the Albany, and gets into the most dreadful scrapes.  That, my dear Algy, is the whole truth pure and simple.
Algernon.  The truth is rarely pure and never simple.  Modern life would be very tedious if it were either...

Josh, is the conclusion that since even in being correct and moral, moreso than even the United States, Israel is criticized by an arbitrary "high set of standards", that we should scale back to the norms?  And in relating to Israel in an attitude which places our country in a unique position to which no other country is held, your words were immoral.



Mr. Earnest on August 4:

Q    Thanks, Josh.  The State Department put out a statement over the weekend on the latest Israeli attack on a U.N. facility, and it was about as tough as this administration gets publicly with the Israelis.  I'm wondering if you can give us a sense of the administration’s and the President’s, in particular, level of frustration with the Israelis and the amount of civilian casualties we're seeing...

MR. EARNEST:  Well, Julie...The tragic loss of life that we've seen on both sides of this conflict needs to come to an end.  That tragic loss of life includes the many innocent Palestinian civilians who have been killed.  It also includes the Israeli civilians who have been killed by Hamas rockets that have been aimed squarely at them...

...Q    Can we go back to the State Department’s statement over the weekend?  As I said, it was as tough as this administration gets when publicly discussing Israel.  What went into that decision-making?  Did you feel like it was necessary to take that tougher line publicly?

MR. EARNEST:  Well, let me say a couple things about that.  There have been a number of reports of the shelling of U.N. facilities in Gaza.  I think that there have been seven or so reports of that taking place.  And we have, over the course of time, expressed our concerns about the necessity of the Israeli military to live up to their own standards when it comes to protecting the lives of innocent civilians, even Palestinian civilians who are caught in the middle of this conflict.  What that statement from the State Department made clear is that the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.

He does add,

Now, as you know, Julie, there have been reports of Hamas using innocent civilians as cover to protect their weapon stockpiles or even to protect Hamas fighters.  That is a deplorable technique or strategy, and it is one that we have strongly condemned and continue to condemn.  What we have also been clear about, and as that statement laid out in very plain terms, that suspicion that Hamas fighters are operating in the vicinity of innocent civilians does not justify taking strikes that put the lives of those innocent civilians at risk.

Actually, international law and military manuals do permit action in such circumstances

Here (via JDwyer):

US rules of engagement under Obama are actually worse (more dangerous for the soldiers and the mission).  That’s the point that needs to be hammered if a comparison is made: not that the US has a double standard, but that the Obama standard (a) ignores the latitude national militaries are properly afforded by the Geneva Convention, and (b) increases combat AND (often) civilian casualties, and reduces effectiveness. See:​​ Here. Here. Here. Here.  and Here. 



sarahmahammad said...

I would like to ask a question please: Is Joshua Earnest "The White House's Press spokesman" just an American citizen, who believes in Judaism because he has been raised as a Jewish, or he's an Israeli Jewish, or he's one of those Zionist Christians who support The illegal Israeli Occupation on the land of Palestine???? Thanks for answering my question.

YMedad said...

I really do not know and, in any case, I doubt that nay of those categories makes a difference to you. Thanks for stopping by.