In “No Country Is an Island” [Critical Mass], Lawrence M. Krauss describes the probable apocalyptic effects of a postulated nuclear war between India and Pakistan. After tensions escalated in the late 1990s, the two countries set up a “hotline” and various dialogues aimed at avoiding catastrophe. And despite much mutual animosity, neither India nor Pakistan denies each other the right to exist, in principle and a priori.
Yet many do not appreciate the far greater threat now looming between Israel and Iran. Israel is believed to have hundreds of warheads, with second-strike capability. Moreover, it faces explicit existential threats from Iran and other extremist entities, which are edging closer to nuclear capability. Alone of all peoples, those of Israel have faced attempted extermination in recent history and believe themselves to be under a renewed threat. There exists no logical route whereby dialogue or hotlines could be set up between two enemies in a conflict where one side refuses point-blank to recognize the other’s right to exist per se. Nor would Israel, if faced with certain genocide, have any reason not to take the rest of humanity with it to the funeral pyre.
Whereas there are many reasons to dislike Israel’s obdurate and often ham-fisted foreign policy, the wider interests of humankind are ill served by demands for Israel to be isolated or removed from the planet.
HOW BABIES REALLY THINK
In the Key Concepts for Alison Gopnik’s “How Babies Think,” the wording and perspective are not quite correct: “Children learn about the world much as scientists do—in effect, conducting experiments, analyzing statistics and forming theories to account for their observations.” I believe you meant to say: “Children learn about the world much as scientists do—smashing things to smithereens, staring in wonder at the results and then breaking out in giggles.”