“Past experience proves that international condemnations, exposure to the horror, demonstrations and political protests have a cumulative influence, but those are countered by feelings of tribal unity, moral superiority and self-righteousness. One would expect that the price of the bloodshed from the continuing violence would lead to a rational calculation of the value of human lives versus the goals for which they are killed. But communities that grow used to calculating their steps according to absolute values do not do so according to pragmatic assessments of cost and benefit. Even making the comparison between the cost in human lives and its purpose is problematic: The most costly price has already been paid in human lives and the need to justify it requires inflating the value of what they were paid for.
“Leaders who inflict great sacrifices upon their people cannot let it be known to all and sundry that they were wrong, so they make the goals absolute: ‘A war for our homes’ or ‘a war for our existence’ — goals with infinite price tags. The issue of the relationship between the goal to its price is decried as irrelevant, and raising rational arguments is considered blasphemy, an attempt to quantify something that has no price.”
The rest of the op-ed piece is here.