As far as I'm aware, I'm the originator of the expression "premature extrapolation" to describe the tendency to base sweeping assumptions about the future on isolated events or current trends.
I first used it when reviewing Chris Laidlaw's second book on our national game. Over the course of the four decades separating the first (Mud In Your Eye) and the second (Somebody Stole My Game) Laidlaw made the all-too-familiar transition from youthful iconoclast to middle-aged curmudgeon.
Thus book two is an extended harrumph about the awfulness of professional rugby which includes the lament that lawyer Conrad Smith and engineering graduate Anthony Boric "may go down in history as the last tertiary-educated All Blacks. That is a scary thought".
One month after the book came out Benson Stanley BCom and Victor Vito BA made their All Black debuts.
The death last December of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes prompted a number of commentators to predict dramatic changes in the conduct of the game at the top level. When the Aussies were as hard-nosed as ever in the subsequent series against India, they were condemned for failing to bear out the commentators' assurances that "things will never be the same again", the mantra of premature extrapolators.
At the risk of engaging in both premature extrapolation and wishful thinking, I'd tentatively suggest that the US and Israel are a little less joined at the hip as a result of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint session of the US Congress this week.
At the invitation of the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, Netanyahu went before Congress to pour scorn on President Barack Obama's patient diplomatic efforts to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.
Bar the governor-general taking leave of his senses, our unicameral parliamentary system means something similar couldn't happen here, but this is what it might have looked like: before the Lange Government introduced the 1987 New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Bill, US President Ronald Reagan went before Parliament at the invitation of Opposition Leader Jim Bolger to tell MPs they should do everything in their power to prevent it becoming law.
That the Republicans could collaborate in this breach of American sovereignty confirms there's no gambit too reckless or contemptible for the purposes of their campaign to undermine Obama. The rapturous reception they gave Netanyahu's speech confirms their black and white worldview and frightening eagerness to contemplate another war in the Middle East.
Netanyahu's argument boils down to this: the Iranians hate us and can't be trusted so we shouldn't negotiate with them. He didn't need to spell out the implications: that the only way to make absolutely sure Iran doesn't acquire nuclear weapons is to destroy its capability and change the current regime. Sound familiar?
If successive US presidents had taken this approach to the Soviet Union ("they don't like us, we can't trust them, therefore we won't talk to them"), there wouldn't have been any nuclear arms control treaties and we'd probably be living - i.e. dying - in a post-apocalypse nuclear winter.
Despite - or perhaps because of - Netanyahu's moral and intellectual bankruptcy, several Republicans embraced his analysis to the extent of comparing Iran to Hitler's Germany (Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies, anyone?) and Netanyahu to Winston Churchill. For the record, Churchill's most famous pronouncement on international relations is "to jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war".
The cynics believe the whole exercise is first and foremost about the upcoming Israeli election. As Obama's former political adviser and campaign manager David Axelrod tweeted, Netanyahu's speech "is more about an 'existential threat' to his own electoral prospects".
That Netanyahu could play politics over such a grave issue is depressing, but this cloud may have a silver lining.
His behaviour has infuriated the Democrats. House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said she was "near tears ... saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States and the condescension towards our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation".
For those who have long despaired at the influence of the Jewish lobby in Washington and America's tendency to be led by the nose by Israel in the Middle East, the episode provides a ray of hope that at least some of America's leaders are starting to question this self-defeating lockstep.
And where there's hope, there's life.
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