“Walking Dead” Leadership And Israel’s Iran Nightmare

You call this "escapist entertainment?"

You call this “escapist entertainment?”

For some reason, last night’s “mid-season finale” (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” caused me to think about what lies ahead in Iran-US-Israel relations. Can’t imagine what that reason is….

In this cataclysmic episode of the zombie apocalypse drama, the psychopathic character called “the Governor,” full of bloodlust and vengefulness and determined to press his conviction that the group of competing survivors “led” by Rick Grimes has no legal right to exist, confronted the alleged good guys’ leader in the abandoned prison they call home with an army, a tank and a demand that they surrender their shelter or die. Rick, who has repeatedly shown a flat learning curve in basic leadership skills and has already gotten many people killed by trusting the Governor rather than taking him out, despite ample evidence that the Guv is exactly as trustworthy as Vlad the Impaler or, say, Iran, engaged this murderous madman in a full-bore, Rodney King, “Can’t we all get along?” plea.

It was futile, of course, and only some lucky turns (an unlikely escape by the one individual who could turn the tide here, a well-aimed hand grenade there, and an unexpected rescue by sure-shot, gun-toting little girls elsewhere) prevented a bloody slaughter with the Governor’s objectives fully realized. Our feckless hero Rick, however, was obviously not willing to do what he had to do to prevent the carnage of an attack, and was going to depend on hope, passiveness and a refusal to be proactive to keep a proven predator at bay. Yet his approval percentage with his core constituency inexplicably still hovers in the 90s.

Ironically, Washington Post editor Fred Hiatt chose today to assemble his time-line of President Obama’s Rick-like handling of Syria, which you can read here. (Hiatt is a card-carrying liberal Democrat, like the rest of the Post’s editorial board.)

I wonder if they show “The Walking Dead” in Israel? It’s scary enough here, but I bet, given our President’s leadership similarities to Rick Grimes, it would be absolutely terrifying there.


46 thoughts on ““Walking Dead” Leadership And Israel’s Iran Nightmare

    • Amusingly, The Walking Dead is how I found Ethics Alarms.

      Last night’s episode had me suspending so much more disbelief that usual right from the get go and straight through to the end that I was half dissatisfied. I accepted however that the producers realize the Governor’s recent story arc would slow down the show, and knowing a year-long examination of the Governor’s new fief would not fly with the viewership, they had to wrap things up in a sloppy 60 minute long deus ex machine. Now they can reexamine Rick’s upcoming lapse into darkness, with arguably the only Thinker in the group dead.

      Of course, he has to be replaced. No core group in any literary tale is missing the “Old Mentor”.

      Given the haphazard chain of events from last night’s episode, it’s hard to glean a lot of ethics from it.

      I do disagree with Jack, I think Rick’s extension of the olive branch was necessary to buy time and foment dissension in the ranks of the Governor’s new army…. what the hell, I can’t do this.

      How the HELL does the governor have a NEW ARMY anyway???

      Hey, new village: when a stranger shows up to your village and 2 days later your key leader and his primary Lieutenant are dead and the stranger says he wants to be your leader……

      HEY STUPIDS, are you STUPID???? Not a coincidence!

      How the hell does this new and DUBIOUS stranger then go on to convince you that belligerent and lethal operations are necessary against a group of people YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW???

      You don’t know their strengths, size, disposition, capabilities, and you don’t even know why you are fighting for your new and DUBIOUS leader’s crusade! Other than 3 minutes of semi-flowery rhetoric.

      Maybe this is an allegory of modern America.

      Oh, here’s an Ethical takeaway: In post-civilization, where proficiency with a firearm is KEY to survival, then it is UNETHICAL to not AIM your weapons or NOT be proficient in marksmanship. The only ethical person in that whole firefight then was Darrell.

      I can’t keep going.

      • Especially cheesy was the director’s brief and unconvincing fake-out that a little humanity had crept into the Guv’s soul as he had old Herschel kneeling, head ready to be severed, and a sword cocked. Come on. And that was sure a great time to try the olive branch one more time with a guy who had proven beyond any doubt that 1) he didn’t do olive branches and 2) thought Rick was a weenie, which of course he is. Did anyone NOT guess that Machone would save Rick? (If it had been “the Magnificent Seven,” it would have been Carol. That would have been better, but I guess the gun-toting little girls were her agents).

        • Gads. I didn’t want to get into any of this, given how much the episode was just a big, “let’s resolve a whole lot of crap as sloppily as possible, while simultaneously establishing the next set of conflicts/dilemmas/problems for the group”.

          I still think Rick’s olive branch was the right choice: I think he knew a fire fight was inevitable, I think he knew the Governor’s perfidy and non-intention of allowing anyone in Rick’s group to survive. Rick’s offer spread dissension amongst the Governor’s ‘people’, which, barring the Governor’s rash upping the ante, could have aided in further delaying talks.

          I don’t care if the Governor has a tank. Rick, his group, the prison, and their intimate knowledge of the prison and its surrounding terrain affords them *complete* superiority in a direct, conventional fight, even with a tank attacking them.

          I’ve run down all sorts of options in my mind, all of which do not allow for Herschel and Michonne’s survival, which given the context is pretty dang low anyway:

          1) quick snipe the governor, then quickly eliminate immediate threats to Herschel and Michonne and popping the Tanker, while rapidly attempting to ceasefire and call a truce. This doesn’t work out: Michonne and Herschel… probably dead. Even if a truce could then be rapidly achieved, assimilation between those parties would then be improbable.

          2) give into the Governor’s demands and move out. With all likelihood being the governor will shoot every last one of you once he’s inside and you’re trying to leave. Michonne definitely dies, and Rick also. The Governor will never allow them to survive.

          3) Given the Governor’s incompetent disposition of his own ‘troops’, another, my preferred, option is to feign giving in to the Governor’s demands and, while packing up, actually prepare an ambush. Post members of the group at various strong points in the prison, assign each one a target at the initiation of the ambush. Take another cluster of group members out the backside of the prison, wide around and sneak through the bush to the Governor’s rear, mindful of possible rear guards. Once an assault position is established (based on a preset time), the prison ‘platoon’ initiates fires as nearly simultaneously as possible. That eliminates half or more of the governor’s group, ideally targetting High Payoff and High Value Targets 1st — Gov, tank commander, people in immediate vicinity of Michonne and Herschel. Once the survivors are suppressed, the maneuver element can easily mop up the remainder. Easily. Problem with this: Michonne and Herschel’s survival is still low.

          There are other resolutions to all this, but I don’t see how any of them don’t involve a shoot out, unless they are based on a miracle of the Governor not being a psychopath. Knowing that likelihood, and knowing that the Prison has not only the moral value of being their home and must be fought for, it has an insurmountable tactical value, which a tank will not overcome, Rick was in the right to buy time and spread dissension.

          Ok, that being said:

          Why don’t people aim?

          Why does Daryl think a cross-bow is effective in a gun fight? Even medieval Europe quick using bows and arrows when guns showed up.

          Why don’t people aim?

          Why the hell don’t they turn right around and reoccupy the prison? They cleared out MORE zombies, with FEWER people the first time they moved in!

          Why don’t people aim? Correction: aiming is difficult when scared….. why don’t people try to find decent cover and concealment as opposed to making themselves wildly open targets…. targets of which there is no excuse to not hit on the first shot. This isn’t paintball people….

          Why does Rick lose a fist fight to the Governor despite pummeling Tyreese (=5 x Governor) earlier in the season?

          Why didn’t….. ok…. I’m done.

          Other than the wild inconsistencies, why’s and suspensions of disbelief, it was a fun episode to watch.

          • Even medieval Europe quick [sic, “quit”?] using bows and arrows when guns showed up.

            No, you’re a century or so ahead of yourself. Archers remained in the system well into Tudor times, a Cornish archery troop was sent into the Civil War on the royalist side (granted, faute de mieux until it could be re-equipped), and it was seriously suggested that archers be revived during the Naploeonic Wars for the sake of their higher rate of “fire”. That last proposal didn’t fail from being ineffective but from the long training needed; arquebuses and muskets only displaced arbalests and longbows because arbalests have too low a rate of “fire” and longbows needed too much training and practice to be effective.

            • Got it tiger. It’s a generalization. An accurate generalization.

              I knew you’d be pompous enough to comment. I even thought about making a caveat just for you because of this… But I didn’t care. I knew I should. That was my only mistake.

              I stand by my comment in light of the fire power wielded in The Walking Dead. So I don’t care about your know it all factoids. I’m well read in medieval and early modern European history.

              My generalization. Is still accurate. Firearms replaced archery.

              Just like light bulbs replaced candles… Even though people in some places didn’t have electricity.

              • Now that my attention has been drawn to your remarks, it may be worth telling readers that oversimplifying, or even simplifying to provide a more helpful illustration, is not what the process of generalisation is, even if what results is actually a generalisation – and that that there is certainly not an accurate generalisation, for the simple reason that it is inaccurate. All I corrected was the part that was wrong, i.e. the date, and stating accurately that archery was replaced is no refutation of a point I never asserted.

                Should I take it that someone who is well read in the area is familiar with Oman’s The Art of War, and knows about technical details like just how the Swiss fought and so on, that are part and parcel of the military scene of that period? That, therefore, it makes sense and is in fact polite to discuss things with such a person in terms of those technical details because it is talking his language?

          • “Other than the wild inconsistencies, why’s and suspensions of disbelief, it was a fun episode to watch.”

            Yes, because the show’s premise -animated corpses- doesn’t require suspension of disbelief. But here are a few logistical questions for the armchair tacticians:

            Why didn’t the zombies immediately follow the governor’s horde into the courtyard and overwhelm them?

            Why mount a full frontal assault against the strongest, most heavily defended part of the prison? That has previously kicked the gov’s @ss?? (Recall: Tyreese’s group found their way in – seems to me the gov could have done the same) Which segues to the next point:

            Everyone seems to mischaracterize the gov. He’s not a psychopath; he’s a psychotic with delusions of grandeur…by which I mean, he has a conscience, but his values have been overridden by his need for vengeance.

            “Why does Rick lose a fist fight to the Governor despite pummeling Tyreese (=5 x Governor) earlier in the season?”

            Easy. Daryl was holding Tyreese

            plus,I wouldn’t describe Rick’s fight with the Gov as a “fist fight;” considering that he bit off Merle’s fingers I was kinda surprised the Gov didn’t try to rip out Rick’s throat with his teeth.

            • “Yes, because the show’s premise -animated corpses- doesn’t require suspension of disbelief.”

              Of course it is understood that suspending disbelief in Zombies is a central necessity to follow a fictional account based on the fictional premise that zombies exist. For any fiction, central themes that are unrealistic or impossible necessitate the initial suspensions of disbelief. However, once those characteristics are accommodated, one should expect the rest of the show to flow realistically and believably in the fictional world.

              According to your logic — that we ought to be cool with everything that requires suspension of disbelief as long as a few central themes require it — then you ought to be cool with an episode in which Rick defeats the zombies with fireballs and lighting bolts from his hands as he rides atop a flying unicorn.

  1. Sorry to not comment on Israel’s Iran nightmare.

    Very good analogy Jack. In short, Israel’s Iran nightmare is not wholly our fault… but we certainly have given Iran every reason to assume Israel has no friends in the region.

  2. The show is a total joke. First they have a 40 year old tank , and second when Carl Grime talks about just finishing it by shooting the Governor in the head, which is what any smart human being would do, Daryl makes a stupid comment about not doing it because its 50 yard away. If you cant hit someone in the head from 50 yards away with a rifle , you should turn it around , stick it in your mouth and pull the trigger.

    • Which is certainly an easier shot.

      I actually thought of you when Daryl said that. It made no sense at all. Now if he had said, “No, Carl, it’s against the show’s rules to kill the Governor when it’s the obvious thing to do and there’s an easy shot. Haven’t you been paying attention?”, THAT I would have bought.

      • 50 yards is such an easy shot, and Carl was supposedly ttraining so it should be a real easy shot. Hell I bet I could hit him in the head from 50 with a pistol. lol

        My Marine Corps buddies and I joke that in real life Marines would be slaughtering the zombies by the thousands without even working up a sweat.

        • I wouldn’t trust Carl with that shot. Review the episode… prop guys didn’t get Carl a rifle with a rear sight. He’d be about as effective as firing a Brown Bess. Daryl made the right choice there.

          However, Daryl himself had a state of the art AR-15 with a close combat optic that has a precise floating red-dot aim point… I had one that I had sighted with pin point accuracy to 300+ yards. Daryl could have made the shot with little effort. Daryl made the wrong choice there.

          • I did not notice the rear site was missing. After doing a little research it seems that that is a common mistake on this show. Lots of weapons missing rear sites or have the wrong one installed.

            • It’s those small things that will suddenly leap out unexpectedly and a viewer will think “hey wait a minute”, then the viewer has to remember… oh yeah… its just a TV show. Of course you are right now that I think about it….even without a rear sight, a 50 yard shot with a rifle isn’t that hard. Definitely not with the Governor’s big melon.

    • I am reminded of the reputed incomplete remarks of a Confederate general observing a battlefield during the U.S. Civil War: “Take cover? They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist.”

        • WAIT. Did you seriously come back an hour after a mocking response calling PM Lawrence “pompous” for correcting your trivia, jeeringly saying you didn’t even bother reading his response… and then do the exact same thing? Really?

          One might suggest that he doesn’t care for your know-it-all factoids, that he’s well read in Civil War history, and that his comparison. Is still accurate.

          • For what it’s worth, I wasn’t wrong just there at all; I very carefully put in the word “reputed” because I had only heard it somewhere and not checked it. I provided hearsay, and accurately reported that I had heard it.

          • I see my delivery was too subtle.

            Surely you see the irony?

            Please peruse about the past 3 months of dialogue where I’ve made a general statement, very descriptive and accurate as a generalization only to have Mr. Lawrence pop off with some little trivium that doesn’t add substance but notionally ‘corrects’ something.

            I see my subtle tit-for-tat (#7 on the rationalization list) didn’t translate.

            To answer your question. Yes. But not seriously.

  3. Since neither Iran nor Syria is showing up at our gates with a tank and demanding we flee our homes, even in metaphorical terms, is there an analogy to be made?

    What are the ethics of dealing with someone else’s war? It’s tempting to say the only ethical thing to do is to feed and house the refugees and prevent it from spreading. “Prevent it from spreading” can mean incurring all the evils of joining the war, though, as we found in the 1940s. There is a rich field for discussion there.

    When are the risks of intervention justified? For example, when would it be all right to invade the territory of a nuclear-armed state to kill or capture someone under their protection? Mitt Romney argued that it was not worth massive expenditures to bring Osama bin Laden to justice and disapproved of calls for operating in Pakistan without their government’s permission (2007 speech). Was he wrong? If so, why? Was he right?

    • It’s a complex analogy as far as I can read it.

      2 analogies of note-

      Prison vs Governor = Israel vs Iran

      Rick interactions with Governor = Obama’s foreign policy… Haphazard, accidental, sloppy, vision-less, lacking statesmanship, lacking proportion, set of inconsistent and terribly prioritized values

      It shouldn’t be *our* problem to deal with. Israel is the lone liberal* democracy and commercial republic in the region. All the other liberal democracies and commercial republics shoul want to defend Israel in some form or another; it should be all of our problems when a rogue state like Iran wants to obliterate anothe state for reason other than “we hate Jews”. It’s *our* problem because we are the last one to have given a damn about Israel. But now we seem to be goin the route of the spineless and conciliatory Europeans and abandoning Israel.

      *classica liberal

      • Abandoned = isolated = cornered.

        It doesn’t take much education, or thinking, to realize what a cornered entity will do with whatever powers it has. Iran has “done” for years. (Just saying – I am not choosing to side with Iran.) Israel shall do as Israel is.

  4. I don’t watch those shows. So why isn’t it Iran’s Israel nightmare? Seems like there are many, many more nightmares in store for many countries. The world, it seems, is determined to tempt itself at becoming ever more indifferent to nuclear holocausts. So maybe it is long past time to thin the human herds…makes me also wonder…what a favor humanity might be doing to the planet and to any survivors, by doing its own such thinning.

  5. Based on all ethical systems, from absolutism to utilitarianism and from Kantian to Neiczhean ethics, it IS unquestionably unethical to advertise to texagg04 a deep post civilization thriller exploring human values in a vicious world but then broadcast to texagg04 an episode about teenage angst….

  6. HA! As she sent the little homicidal maniac to the flowers, I said to my wife, “Hey! She’s going to do a Lenny!” Clearest direct steal from a play since “ER” killed off Mark with the end of “Mister Roberts.” If you’re going to steal, steal the good stuff.

    [Rick, of course, would have taken the little killer out to the flowers and then lost his nerve and brought her back for a vote.]

    • Safe to assume then that the ethics of sentencing juveniles separately from adults is out the window in non-civilized land.

      Of course, when Carol told Tyreese to take Judith and psycho away, I was sure she’d give him a subtle nod of, “I see 3 of you walking away, hope to see you shortly with Judith, Tyreese….” Wink wink…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.