how was i not paying any attention to this? meanwhile on the world stage we have never stopped congratulating ourselves for our freedom, contrasting the us in this respect to whomever we are ragging on at the moment. thanks, adam.
how was i not paying any attention to this? meanwhile on the world stage we have never stopped congratulating ourselves for our freedom, contrasting the us in this respect to whomever we are ragging on at the moment. thanks, adam.
it surprises me that the government of the netherlands didn't send, say, a commando unit to secure the crash site in ukraine, but rather sat there watching the corpses being neglected or mistreated, the possessions of their citizens strolled off with, evidence about what happened to them contaminated. possibly the netherlands has no commando units? or maybe they thought like this: well, if we do that, we might have more dutch deaths. but it's hard for me to picture those separatists attacking a group of dutch soldiers on the ground, if they were made aware of who they were. and i'd say you should do that even if you took casualties. there needs to be some basic pride, some basic gesture of self-defense and outrage.
so i'd like to know whether hamas really has a systematic policy of using human shields. but the idea that anyone would believe israel about this, or that they would believe hamas, is very silly. really, people can look right into the eyes of someone with the world's most obvious motivations to lie, and actually apparently believe them, or just join right in. seriously, if you find yourself repeating the lines of either side, you've merely discredited yourself. any person with a shred of rationality or any commitment at all to speaking the truth could not possibly accept what either side is saying about something like that.
the american foreign policy establishment (represented by madeleine albright this morning on cnn, e.g.) is still saying 'there must be a two-state solution', that's the only hope etc. if that's the only hope, there is no hope. the idea that israel ever was going to or ever will permit a palestinian state to emerge is false, whatever they may say. anyway, why isn't that just a formula for more and worse war? so if you can't come up with any new ideas, we're going to recapitulate this thing ad infinitum.
really, defining states ethnically/religiously cannot not lead to violence. it's just a wee bit as though we defined the united states as a white nation, for example. i think the only possible solution would be a fully multi-ethnic full democracy. but israel will never permit that either, because then it would have destroyed its own purpose and definition. so i would see this situation persisting for the next, say, century, with periodic outbreaks of slaughter.
a hundred years on, and no one even yet has any idea what caused wwi. oops! oh dang. really, if it weren't for the millions dead, the thing would be pure entertainment: keystone cops run europe. it's more or less the inexorable illogic of statism, which in essence is: let's pick out a power-mad dolt and do whatever he says. rape me.
a deep truth is that in something like the current iraq/syria disaster, all pundits and politicians look for a sentence that they can say together, each producing it like it was his/her/its own idea. right now the mechanical commonplace is that maliki, in order to get military assistance, will have to come up with a set of power-sharing political arrangements. and i agree that a pluralistic government would be desirable. but say he offers to re-write the constitution or whatever, introducing explicit power for sunnis. well, then they would have won those concessions on the battlefield, yes? and the conclusion you'd draw if you were a sunni in iraq is that if you want anything from the state or for that matter the obama admninistration, you're going to have to kill people for it. so i wouldn't see this approach, deployed right now, as a formula for anything except more war.
as it turns out, probably the biggest single mistake that the us made in both afghanistan and iraq (as well as, for example, vietnam) is that the governments we imposed under occupation turned out to be some of the most corrupt and criminal in the world, or even the very most. and as i've said before, one of the few things that could make you want to be governed by religious fundamentalists is that they seem to have some sort of principles other than 'i'ma get mine' or 'i deserve to rape you'. that barack and hillary threw their lot in with karzai after he stole the election in 2009 makes all their professions about democracy merely parodic. i do think more or less the same thing that is happening in iraq will happen there, probably a few minutes after we pull out.
it would take an inspiring patriot indeed to lay down his life for nouri al-maliki's bank account. i'd be taking off my uniform and handing my weapons to the insurgents to.
barack is going to figure out an approach to the iraq situation in 'the next few days'. i'm not sure he has a few days. you could ship the government of iraq sophisticated weapons. these have two possible ultimate destinations: isis, and iran. they are already operating with our materiel. there ain't a damn thing we can do short of re-occupation, and the only scenario in which i could see maliki surviving is if there is a substantial incursion by iran to prop him up.
i suppose the idea is to be 'realists'; iraq isn't going to be a jeffersonian democracy, as they said again and again (well, the united states is certainly not itself a jeffersonian democracy). but actually the ethical side has got to be attended to or you're just imposing evil on people who will henceforward hate and try to kill you.
dana milbank (no right-wing flak) explains some of the reasons benghazi keeps hanging about, and why the press - which is not just fox - is getting quite irritated and suspicious. he then goes on to emphasize that there's no problem, and the white house "unwittingly" broke the "get-it-all-out-there"-kerry washington principles of scandal management. but why does he insist there's nothing there? the way they're behaving certainly suggests that there is. what? well, at a minimum i think it's pretty obvious that the white house shaped susan rice's talking points and that there was only one goal: no political fallout before the election. essentially, it's the same thing that motivates, say, the government of malaysia to just issue confused, contradictory crap: because they don't want to be blamed for incompetence etc, and their image is all they care about, far more than, say, human lives.
now, i also feel that underneath this there may be some pretty awful truths about what, exactly, a knot of cia agents was doing in benghazi, and how they came to be under attack and why. obviously it's just a suspicion. but then, if you're not suspicious you're not conscious, and that the cia was engaged in something deeply embarassing, deeply stupid, or deeply evil: this is not an arbitrary hypothesis based on no data. so what if it was a torture facilty? what if they were secretly funding one militia against another, who kicked their ass? for that matter, what if their own people kicked their ass? stranger things have happened.
don't make the mistake of thinking that, because fox is obsessed with benghazi and the republicans in the house are launching a probe, there is no real problem. that itself would just be a mirror image of fox's partisanship: you already know what happened, not in virtue of knowing anything about what happened, but because you hate fox news and love hillary clinton, which has absolutely nothing to do with the truth or falsity of any particular account of the events. it is a mess, and the initial and continuing response of the administration reeks of cover-up and raises many suspicions. the way they acted immediately after the event appears incomprehensible, and there has been nothing since that would justify anyone in thinking they are doing anything but obfuscating. lord knows why; if the events are anything like the admin is picturing them, all they had to do was say what actually happened and express regrets and reflections; this sucker would have been over.
i want to say that i like a partisan press in some ways, as long as there is also a less-partisan press. in a democratic administration, we need fox, and you should watch it. and of course in a republican admin we need msnbc. fox has raised many of the basic questions. the way they admin has released and failed to release the info is ridiculously suspicious. it's not only fox, as witness this devastating exchange between jon karl of abc and jay carney, pressing on the crap the admin has put out on the 'talking points'.
one should maintain awareness of the extraordinarily brutal regime that is emerging in egypt, which flows toward both judicial and extra-judicial massacres. they're another group who has taken to calling all opponents terrorists, including excellent reporters. it's sad what has happened to the arab spring. the middle east has many problems, but looking at the thing squarely, government is exponentially the worst of them. think about the regimes in syria and egypt, but also the amazing peacemakers running israel, or the forces of iran and saudi arabia, who are prosecuting an armed conflict throughout the region, blowing outwards from the death-bound insanity that is syria. the whole region teeters on the edge of armed conflagration, and then i think too each country will consume itself from within (as syria already has), partly under the sponsorship of the others. but surely al-sisi has left the muslim brotherhood no possible alternative except armed resistance. i would think his behavior makes perfect al-qaedaish propaganda: who, really, is trying to repress islam? people who call themselves muslims.
speaking of the practice of calling anyone you disagree with a terrorist, harry reid calls bundy and the 'militias' that have rallied in his support 'domestic terrorists'. on morning joe this morning, mike barnicle waved around a dictionary, defined 'terrorism' and asserted flatly that reid was perfectly right. barnicle was obviously wrong, even by the inadequate definition he quoted. no one is a terrorist without committing any actual acts of violence, no matter how you cut it. 'they're resisting our government', said barnicle, showing exactly who he is, the goddamn commie. no wait! he's a fascist. he's a monphysite, i tell you, a blanquist, a witch. anyway only an embezzler or a jacobin quotes webster's dictionary in defense of his monstrous positions, like osama with the koran.
this phenomenon of using 'terrorist' completely indiscriminately to mean whomever you don't like is self-consuming: the word is meaningless in these doinks' mouths, and all they are trying to do is manipulate their followers, if any, into a rage. i hear that in dc, people are tossing the term around in marital spats. i'm sure bundy calls reid a terrorist too. we need higher standards both of terrorism and of meaningfulness. if i were a terrorist - and i'm sure i am by barnicle's or reid's or assad's standards etc - i'd be getting pissed off. geez y'all count anyone as a terrorist these days! christ i had to earn that shit by blowing people to smithereens; now all you have to do is wave the wrong sign or get tased. what is the world coming to? we used to have standards.
more and more, i'm grooving on the way governments use the word 'terroriist'. e.g. the government of the ukraine, such as it is, is calling their largely hypothetical actions against russian separatists 'anti-terror operations'. oh, bashar assad is another who calls any disagreement with himself terrorism. i assume vlad putin is calling the gov of ukraine terrorists; he calls everyone a terrorist. i get the propaganda value, i suppose, though surely that is fading fast as the word loses all meaning, in the manner of words in the mouths of government officials from time immemorial. what they are showing, however, is that they regard any disagreement with themselves as terrifying, the little pussies.
relentless tributes by all great americans to lyndon baines johnson. well, i do remember when he was president. voting rights are good. now, there were some little drawbacks: e.g. hundreds of thousands of people killed in vietnam; oh all the regions defoliated with agent orange, the napalmed villages, the utterly indiscriminate bombing, the constant lies lies lies about what was happening, indeed the big lie to get us in in the first place. how many black guys killed or wounded in a war fought for no discernible reason, which ended in complete defeat? maybe he should have fought for the voting rights of corpses.
“Clapper lied in the name of security, Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy,” Paul said, adding that the intelligence director “should be tried for perjury" (ruth marcus this morning). it is, i say, astonishing and encouraging that such a person is a united states senator. and again, i predict a scandal around him in the next few weeks, lobbed to fox by clapper &co. he is saying this about people who have all his communications for the last decade. guts, son. if he and everyone around him is clean, which would make them very unusual humans, then i'd worry about debilitating illness or extremely non-foul-play death. or they'll send squads of agency hookers with webcams, etc., for they have sworn a scared oath to protect the american people!
one thing about a hierarchical organization based on coercion, incorporating an ethic of obedience, such as a military: it's a rape factory, more or less by definition. if people didn't want other people to be raped - or indeed to rape &/v be raped themselves - they wouldn't tolerate this sort of organization.
that dianne feinstein is issuing broadsides against cia hacking is truly remarkable. no member of the senate has been as enthusiastic for secrecy, surveillance, and in general the national security state. for god's sake she had better let this make her think again about the whole kit and kaboodle, for this is happening to all of us. one thing i would certainly infer from the clarity and directness of feinstein's attack: she is clean: no affairs, addiction, tax evasion, significant campaign finance violations, delinquent children, embarassing internet searches or diseases. otherwise she would have been silenced. the idea that the intelligence services (or, as i prefer to think of them, syndicates) are subject to the oversight of anything or anyone is obviously ridiculous. they are the overseers.
i define 'terrorism' as military-style action directed primarily at non-combatants. by that standard, both allied and axis "strategic" bombing campaigns in ww2, culminating in dropping atomic bombs on japan, constituted terrorism on an extreme scale. (just for the hell of it, with regard to the approach of monuments men, it would be worth thinking about the great works of art and cultural treasures of various sorts that were destroyed by allied bombing, such as dresden. i think the total would be far more than the germans stole.) one theory that would fully justify such action would, believe it or not, be basic statism: hobbes leviathan, for example, or rousseau general will: the state is really all of us as a single individual: we all have one will, etc etc. why are you paying taxes, whether for food stamps or stealth bombers? because you're paying taxes to all of us together, because we're all in this together. well then if you're at war with 'germany' the average peasant woman who just wants to forget about politics and war is as legitimate a target as goering; indeed they are the very same person. if you feel that 'america' is messing up your region or your religion, you should kill any american you can: your flying airplanes into skyscrapers is as valid as your complaint against the 'nation'. if you're in a total war with 'japan', then your goal is kill japan, i.e. on this excruciatingly wrong theory absolutely every japanese person qua single agent. and it's not just nationalism/statism, but collective consciousness: oh what shall we do about 'the jew'? 'the jew' is all the jews as a single person. oh well, annihilate them all, no matter the differences and distances, no matter how irrelevant to any actual grievances a particular cell in the giant jew organism is. what shall we do about the negro? here's an individual: the bourgeosie: liquidate that individual. you should think about this every single time you effortlessly deploy any collective, group, or national identity.
meanwhile, hillary, zbig and many others are using hitler in the 30s to understand putin now, or rather to pursue some propaganda aim that is rather hard to fathom. surely the only possible idea in going all hitler/appeasement is to mobilize europe for war. is that your idea? because if not what you're saying is idiotic. now, it's easy to think that if you want to deal with the present you have to know the past, if you forget it you'll repeat it, you have to learn the lessons of history, and a dozen other cliches. but really history blinds as much as it reveals: some dude on al jazeera was saying putin's stuck in the 30s, but he was himself just doing that 30s hitler thing. people pull out things like 'sudentenland' first of all to establish their credibilitty by bewildering non-historians, and second to have various manipulative propaganda effects. you think if you place what's happening now in 1937 or 1856 you'll understand it. no, you'll just be talking about 1937, and not even that. you'll blind yourself to what is happening in the unique now. you want a slot to stick it in, no matter how badly it fits: you're trying to understand what's happening now a priori without engaging it at all. it's all ideological blinders; it's all digression, distraction, misdirection.
kerry says that putin is engaged in a 19th century act. obama says that putin is on the wrong side of history. many's the time i've said this: this is a completely ridiculous structure of thought. history has no particular goal, and if it did it would not be the contemporary welfare mega-state or however obama of hollande envision it. no, you can't turn time around and commit nineteenth century acts. really the complete conceptual impossibility and anti-empirical a priori horseshit of this basic stance has got to go. if obama is sure that he knows the direction of history, which is for the world to become whatever he thinks it should become, this would be described in other contexts as psychotic. time runs in one direction at one pace and history, as far as we can tell, could end up anywhere or nowhere at all.
really, i have not taken sides on ukraine so far, and in the first post where i sort of predicted an invasion (feb 27), i speculated that the us, faced with a similar situation, would consider military intervention too. but now let me point out a few things about putin. he consolidated his power and established his reputation with the chechen genocide. people claimed to be worried about security at the olympics, but there is no one you'd rather be handling your security if you don't care how it's done. he used tried and true techniques: rounding up the young man of, e.g., dagestan, torturing them, and dumping their bodies in shallow graves. he may be the richest man in the world, with all the feeling of impunity such a status bequeaths. he has no significant internal opposition, or threat to his political status; by a hundred techniques he has eliminated or isolated opponents. i don't regard him as a classic semi-cracked conqueror a la hitler or napoleon; but he is cagey and extremely aggressive and brutal when he wants to be. there is liable to be again something well-described as an empire when he is done.
yesterday at the white house: meeting of the joint chiefs, defense secretary, cia, etc. what were they discussing? ww3 scenarios, baby. and as they did so, i imagine them sort of sobbing, etc, not because they're sad about the suffering caused in a war, but because they have no realistic way to respond, and to say that the eu is a decadent quasi-state is an understatement; they're drafting capitulation documents right now, which is probably the main contingency plan recommended by the joint chiefs too. you can judge this by the weapon they actually launched, temporarily suspending g8 summit preparations.
meanwhile ban ki moon urges in his riveting style that calm should be restored to the ukraine. oh that is exactly what putin will be doing over the next few days.
it is absolutely amazing how sluggish the hawking teds are on this. yesterday experts were still doubting, even as the obvious invasion had been in process for a day, that there would be an invasion. a british diplomat on cnn this morning: the solution is for the kiev government to assure its russian-oriented citizens that their interests will be taken into account. by my calculation they have 17 minutes to accomplish that. he says he doubts the russians will go further than the crimea, and he doesn't think they want to annex it. they have already annexed the crimea and the same thing is happening in east/south ukraine that happened there: mysterious armed men, russian flags being raised. i wonder if western experts will notice anything that happens over the next few days, or continue to deal with a reality of their own imagining.
so while i'm in prediction mode: yes, there will further incursions into ukraine, possibly rolling into kiev. no there is no possibility of military resistance. but i'm grooving on the biker gang angle.
'anti-government,' as in the lax shooting, is routinely used to mean violent insanity. here's what, as an anarchist, i demand from the fcc. every time there's a story about a war, i want both sides described as 'pro-government.' every time you mention assad, for example, describe him as a 'pro-government activist.' 'new leaks reveal that pro-government extremists have angela merkel under surveillance'. 'today, china's pro-government regime warmed its hands at a bonfire of uyghurs'. tim mcveigh might have been an anti-government extremist, but he was also a mere amateur of murder. obviously, history's greatest mass murderers, from hitler to pol pot, have all been pro-government extremists. historians speculate that the people who developed chemical, biological, and atomic weaponry harbored pro-government beliefs. worse yet, pro-government people may well be responsible for the failure of the obamacare website.
it may be hard for reasonable, normal people like us to understand how someone drifts to a pro-government position. i imagine there are pro-government tracts lying around james clapper's house, or wherever violent oppressors and excruciating intellectual mediocrities congregate. seriously, everyone should be on the lookout for warning signs among members of their family and their friends. like say, for example, you notice a copy of rawls' theory of justice casually tossed in the backseat, or hear someone casually saying that he intends to vote or something: put two such factors together, and you may have a very dangerous fuckwad indeed. science is beginning to demonstrate what is really happening: research shows that under scanning, the capitulation region of the amygdala or stupid bit manifests enhanced activity in such persons. astonishing? perhaps. yet that is what the research shows. pfizer's working on it.
unlike anti-government extremists, pro-government extremists always appear in groups, herds, flocks, swat teams, gangs, armies, parties, forces, agencies, or murders, and so whereas anti-government extremists pick off a poor sucker here or there, pro-government extremists and their tiny unanimous followers are always industriously digging mass graves. there is much to be said, qua murderer, for the disgruntled loner. real violent extremism - real, genuine evil - exists, and we should study how people drift to pro-government positions and how this can be prevented. i think they lack self-esteem, and you know, when people tell a kid that she can belong to a big powerful group, such as a cult, and tell her she is worth something because she belongs, she'll inform on her own mom.
true, the syrian regime has engaged in monstrous acts of mass murder. but they do have some skills! seems like they brought down the nytimes site for a bit, and now they messed with a u.s. marine recruiting site. they posted this:
“Obama is a traitor who wants to put your lives in danger to rescue al-Qaeda insurgents,” according to the posting on the website, marines.com. “Marines, please take a look at what your comrades think about Obama’s alliance with al-Qaeda against Syria.”
now you have to admit that's pretty clever, putting right-wing obamaphobes in alliance with assad. throw in far-left anti-americans, and you have got an amazing coalition. somehow i feel it won't hang together, though.
once more on syria. of course i called for a cruise missile through assad's window at the outset. and i'd still support such a step, which would be both 'punitive' and 'strategic.' but i also share my fellow war-mongers(krauthammer, e.g.)'s irritation that you'd proceed by publicly promising for day after day to do x, y, and z, and everyone in the regime has surely spent the time running for cover, even as obama's promising not to target or remove him. i would have tried to assassinate him the next day.
just to try to establish the slightest credibility on this: i was squawking about how ridiculous the pseudo-intelligence was on iraq from the go, in print. that colin powell performance at the un was pitiful; i will never take him seriously again. i do not believe they got the intelligence wrong and believed it; i think they manufactured intelligence and sold it like a used car. now, as far as such things go, what kerry (who i just tried to rip to shreds in 2004; the worst presidential candidate i ever saw; he never even managed to take a position on iraq) presented today was comparatively convincing. however, if you were waiting for the u.s. intelligence to weigh in in order to make up your mind, you're kind of screwed both ways around, because (a) you should never believe what intelligence people say publicly on the sheer grounds that they said it (nothing is better-established ever in the whole wide world), and (b) the evidence was already as convincing as it could be, in the nature of something like this; you should already have known.
i just don't think there is any real room for doubt about what happened. it's frigging obvious. he has the gas and the rockets to deliver it. he did his massacre in a center of resistance to his regime. the on-the-ground vids and accounts from aid workers and ordinary people have more credibility than any cia memo. there just is no plausible alternative explanation unless you absolutely insist that you will only believe what would support your idea of what ought to be done even as the reality is staring you in the face.
i am aware of the tension of this with anti-statism. but also people like me are - or surely ought to be - incredibly repulsed by murderous tyrants. i have an autonomic response of violent hostility; they, and not whoever irritated keith olbermann today by disagreeing with him, are the worst people in the world, and definitely the worst boyfriends. i don't think you get any very clear guidance on this from the sheer fact of being an anarchist.
the question has arisen, here as elsewhere. i guess the first thing to say is that every killing technique kills people and also wounds and injures people; that's what all these things are for. so i'd sort of go piecemeal, and it would be silly to say that chemical weapons are the worst sort of weapons in every respect. but, chemical weapons are, first, entirely indiscrimate: they just kill or wound everyone in a given area, which is why they are grotesque when applied to, say, neighborhoods or inhabited regions. and they can't even be confined to the area you want to target even if you hit it, because they waft at the whim of the winds. and they are cheap and easy to make, so it is especially difficult to stop their proliferation. it's a task for the mullahs or the beloved leader to make a nuke and deliver it, or even a biological agent; i could probably whip up poisonous gas in my basement. of course the sorts of injuries and deaths inflicted by sarin are excruciating and horrific; you die slowly in one of the most painful ways possible. you can imagine a situation in which whole cities or regions could be gassed in a horrifying genocide; you turn a whole city into an instant auschwitz; saddam (with cia assistance) came close to this, but it could even be worse, and assad has the stuff to do it.
but if you're considering whether it would better to have your neighborhood gassed or napalmed, for example, you would face a difficult decision. if assad were napalming neighborhoods, i hope people would have the same reaction, and for god's sake i hope they'd be outraged and want to do something about it. the firebombing of dresden or tokyo, the nuking of nagasaki: right, these weren't any more wonderful or less indiscriminate than it would have been to use gas. now, cruise missiles actually are somewhat better in my opinion (look, we are moraly distinguishing ways of killing people, which always is going to look rather grotesque), for example, as is anything that on a good day can be reasonably precisely targeted so that you could try to limit their use to actual military targets. obviously, even in a best case you are liable to kill and injure innocent people. but still, there is a moral distinction between a weapon you can (if all goes well) drop right into the military command center, and a weapon whose nature forces you, if you use it at all, to take out the command center by annihilating everyone in its whole region.
oh my. well that unbelievable story (cia helped saddam gas the kurds) comes along on the right morning to make lisa's and el mago's point, and rather to turn our red line into the scribbling of a psychotic. what the hell are we going to do about this thing we live inside?
but i do think that the assad regime has been soaking children in sarin, and lisa, the people reporting that are not cia; it's activists and human rights people on the ground posting their own videos to youtube, etc. you really really should not take bashar's propaganda seriously. that's obvious. and i think anyone who can do something to stop it is morally obliged to try, even if they are themselves war criminals or whatever it may be.
i do not think that the obama admin has been looking for pretexts to attack syria. they have been looking for pretexts not to, for very good reasons starting with self-interest, and there's little popular support here for any action. human rights people and others on the ground in syria and also the governments of great britain and france have been trying to force them into something. the cia or whomever is more likely to say it's not clear what happened or something than that we must attack.
i am, however, going to withdraw that thing i said about the us never having tortured on the scale of assad. i shouldn't have said that. we have no idea.