When I was sixteen I used to make a really great argument that free will doesn’t exist. I’d be sitting in the car next to my friend and we’d have a conversation that went something like this:
Max: “There’s no free will, dude.”
Friend: “What are you talking about, man?”
Max: “No, dude. Seriously, man, you think there is, but really there isn’t.”
Friend: “Dude, of course I have free will!”
Max: “Okay, dude. If you have free will then run this red light and drive down that one-way street.”
Friend: “Dude! I can’t do that!”
Max: “Exactly, dude.”
I’ll admit it’s a pretty sophomoric argument, but at its heart there was an important truth. Free will only exists within the parameters that society has established for action.
Anyway, I thought of this whole thing when I went to the Daily News Egypt website this morning and saw the headline on the latest story about Egypt’s underground wall that is supposed to prevent smuggling. The headline reads, “Gaza barrier a ‘sovereign right’: Egyptian state-owned daily”.
“Egypt, which protects its sovereignty, has the right to develop the barrier separating it and Gaza. It has a right to have a wall that is strong and not subject to collapse.”
The editorial is the closest Egypt has so far come to officially confirming it is building the underground barrier to stem smuggling into Gaza through underground tunnels.
“Sovereignty” here reminds me of free will in my old argument.
Smuggling tunnels into Gaza are really not a threat to Egyptian security. However, they are a problem for Israel’s blockade on Gaza. And the US, which backs both Israel and Egypt, has the power to stop them.
There is every indication that the underground wall is a project undertaken at the behest of the United States. Some newspapers have even reported that the US Army Corps of Engineers is helping to build the wall.
So what does “sovereign” really mean here? Seriously, dude. Think about it.