Over 100 Danish jihadists have gone to Syria and Iraq, one of the highest rates per person in Europe.
Over 100 Danish jihadists have gone to Syria and Iraq, one of the highest rates per person in Europe.
Ah enfin Shlomo Sand speaks on the attacks in Paris and as almost always adds much needed perspective to the debate:
Some of the caricatures I saw in Charlie Hebdo – long before the shooting – seemed to me to be in bad taste; only a minority made me laugh. But that’s not the problem. In the majority of the magazine’s cartoons about Islam that came to my attention over the last decade, what I saw was manipulative hatred, mainly designed to appeal to its (obviously, non-Muslim) readers. I thought Charlie’s reproduction of the cartoons from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten was deplorable. In 2006 – yes, already back then – I thought that the drawing of Mohammed wearing a bomb as a turban was a pure provocation. It wasn’t so much a caricature attacking Islamists, as a stupid reduction of Islam to terrorism; it’s a bit like identifying Judaism with money!
Some say that Charlie took on all religions indiscriminately, but what does that really mean? Certainly it did mock Christians and sometimes Jews. All the same, neither the Danish paper nor Charlie would go so far – fortunately enough – to publish a caricature presenting the prophet Moses as a crafty usurer loitering on a street corner in a kippah and tassels. It’s a good thing, indeed, that in what people today call ‘Judaeo-Christian’ civilisation it’s no longer possible to spread anti-Jewish hatred in public, like it was in the distant past. I am for freedom of expression, but at the same time I’m against racist incitement. I’ll admit that I’m happy to go along with the ban on Dieudonné publicly expressing his ‘critique’ and his ‘banter’ about Jews. However, I am absolutely opposed to him being physically assaulted, and if by chance some idiot did attack him, I would be very shocked… but then again, I wouldn’t go as far as waving a placard around bearing the words ‘Je suis Dieudonné’.
This mistake in James D. le Sueur article's on the terrorist attacks,in Paris at the Walrus irks me because it isn't innocent:
French Muslim comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala—who already had established himself as a controversial figure—now faces up to seven years in prison for using Facebook to declare his apparent solidarity with the Kosher-market murderer (“Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”). The arrest seemed hypocritical for a nation seeking to reaffirm its protection of speech—even highly irreverent speech.
Dieudonné isn't Muslin and is as French as Sarkozy. Thus, I wonder why his frenchness is always questioned when both his brand of 'humor' and his antisemitism are very French!
Great stuff from Alexander Stille's must-read on Free speech in France:
Although the French are in no mood for compromise at the moment, they might want to reflect on the fact that America’s Muslim minority, which is free to wear headscarves or not, is far more integrated into American life than France’s. The immediate response in France to the recent massacre has been more forcefully to push its “our way or the highway” form of assimilation, which has, frankly, not been working. This past week, when the French school system enforced a minute of silence for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack (generally under “Je Suis Charlie” signs), incidents were reported at some seventy French schools—mostly ones with large Muslim populations—where students resisted the observance. While many French see this as siding with the terrorists over the victims, this is not necessarily so. The French state was, in fact, forcing those students to pay homage to a publication that had, in their view, mocked their religion. If it is legitimate for Charlie Hebdo to publish offensive cartoons, it must be legitimate to object, peacefully, to its doing so.
Dark times are ahead and yes, I am afraid and not optimistic!
Hilarious stuff from Ingrid Robeyns:
In Baga, [Nigeria] world political leaders will soon gather to demonstrate in defense of freedom and against terrorism. They will mourn the loss of 20,000 Black Africans. It is expected that these events will lead to intense media exposure and public debates worldwide.
Que dire ? Aesthetics matters more than anything in politics and activism; black still isn't beautiful...enough...
I agree with Teju Cole on this:
Western societies are not, even now, the paradise of skepticism and rationalism that they believe themselves to be. The West is a variegated space, in which both freedom of thought and tightly regulated speech exist, and in which disavowals of deadly violence happen at the same time as clandestine torture. But, at moments when Western societies consider themselves under attack, the discourse is quickly dominated by an ahistorical fantasy of long-suffering serenity and fortitude in the face of provocation.
One if my core beliefs is that we are all Westerners now and that the West cannot separate itself from the rest. From that perspective, the attacks in Paris aren't solely about the ills of French society but rather a reminder that il n'y a plus de frontiéres ..
It is no longer possible for any country to behave as if the world doesn't matter. That's said they are all going to try and to act as if our age is still the one of Manifest Destiny.
I agree with Paul Woodruff on this:
Torture is a sign of hubris–of the arrogant feeling that we have the power and knowledge to carry out torture properly. We don’t. The ancient Greeks knew that the antidote to hubris is reverence, a quality singularly missing in modern American life.
I agree with Juan Cole on this:
Criminals and gangsters should not be fetishized as “terrorists.” It is just a way for them to inflate their egos. People are violent and sadistic because they are violent and sadistic, not because they have any particular ideology.
I agree with Jonathan Hafetz on this:
(...) herein lies the Torture Report's central paradox. It is because the Senate report provides such devastating details into the Torture Program that the stakes for the rule of law are now so high. By demonstrating the depth and degree of America’s lawlessness, the Torture Program shines the light even more brightly on law’s absence in addressing the crimes of the past.
From James Meek:
The Taliban’s credibility had been low when they were driven out in 2001: they’d failed to deal with a drought, they’d mysteriously banned the cultivation of opium but not its sale, they’d built nothing for the people except madrasas, and they were operating an obnoxious system of conscription. It took the coming of the Americans and the return of the mujahedin commanders to make the Taliban look good by comparison.
Shallow thoughts from Ross Douthat:
Ferguson is turning into a poor exhibit for the policy causes that it’s being used to elevate. We will never know exactly what happened in the shooting of Michael Brown, but at this point the preponderance of the available evidence suggests that this case is at the very least too ambiguous, and quite possibly too exculpatory of the officer involved, to effectively illustrate a systemic indictment of police conduct. Meanwhile, while I continue to believe that the looting and vandalism in Ferguson do not, by their mere existence, prove that a full-metal-jacket police response to the protests was wise or productive — quite the reverse;
I am reminded of Donald Rumsfeld affirming during the looting in Baghdad and elsewhere during the 2003 Iraq war that freedom was untidy.
Sugary excerpt from last week's Ta-nehisi Coates must-read article on Obama and Ferguson:
Hope is what Barack Obama promised to bring, but he was promising something he could never bring. Hope is not the naiveté that would change the face on a racist system and then wash its hands of its heritage. Hope is not feel-goodism built on the belief in unicorns. Martin Luther King had hope, but it was rooted in years of study and struggle, not in looking the other way. Hope is not magical. Hope is earned.
From Jelani Cobb, one of the best thing I've read on what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri so far:
From the outset, the great difficulty has been discerning whether the authorities are driven by malevolence or incompetence. The Ferguson police let Brown’s body lie in the street for four and a half hours, an act that either reflected callous disregard for him as a human being or an inability to manage the situation. The release of Darren Wilson’s name was paired with the release of a video purportedly showing Brown stealing a box of cigarillos from a convenience store, although Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson later admitted that Wilson was unaware of the incident when he confronted the young man. (McCulloch contradicted this in his statement on the non-indictment.) Last night, McCulloch made the inscrutable choice to announce the grand jury’s decision after darkness had fallen and the crowds had amassed in the streets, factors that many felt could only increase the risk of violence. Despite the sizable police presence, few officers were positioned on the stretch of West Florissant Avenue where Brown was killed. The result was that damage to the area around the police station was sporadic and short-lived, but Brown’s neighborhood burned. This was either bad strategy or further confirmation of the unimportance of that community in the eyes of Ferguson’s authorities.
America has a central problem with race; yet, it is still waiting for a magician ( it used to be Obama) with easy solutions (beautiful slogans and speeches).
(...) it is somehow odd for a Western politician to be telling anybody, however horrible and unworthy of respect: "You don't understand your own religion, but I do..."
I agree partly with Juan Cole on this:
The US was very good in the Cold War at containing Stalinism but very bad at defeating a guerrilla group like the Vietcong. It was the former that mattered in the end.
Unfortunately, the logic in Washington usually ratchets toward the macho and the simplistic. Obama at first admitted that the US could only degrade ISIL, not destroy it. But then on Wednesday the chorus of critics pushed him to say that his goal is eradication of the organization. But the tools he announced for his effort, including Yemen-style drone and fighter-jet attacks, were not sufficient to the task of eradication. Containment is doable. It isn’t clear that an air war is.
Obama wasn't pushed, he jumped!
Sugary excerpt of the summer from the great Judith butler:
Prisons too continue the legacy of slavery, acting now as the institutional mechanism by which a disproportionate number of people of colour are deprived of citizenship. The fact that the death penalty is disproportionately applied to people of colour implies that it is a way of regulating citizenship by other means and, in the case of the death penalty, concentrating state power over questions of life and death that differentially affect minority populations.
From Ayaan Hirsi Ali :
I am often told that the average Muslim wholeheartedly rejects the use of violence and terror, does not share the radicals' belief that a degenerate and corrupt Western culture needs to be replaced with an Islamic one, and abhors the denigration of women's most basic rights. Well, it is time for those peace-loving Muslims to do more, much more, to resist those in their midst who engage in this type of proselytizing before they proceed to the phase of holy war.
It is also time for Western liberals to wake up. If they choose to regard Boko Haram as an aberration, they do so at their peril. The kidnapping of these schoolgirls is not an isolated tragedy; their fate reflects a new wave of jihadism that extends far beyond Nigeria and poses a mortal threat to the rights of women and girls. If my pointing this out offends some people more than the odious acts of Boko Haram, then so be it.
I find Ali's predictability scary for it shows that she has stopped growing and thinking. Oh well, she is adapting very well to the American Western modern contemporary intellectual terrain.
Sugary excerpt of the day from a must-read but incomplete article plagued unfortunately by a lack of nuance and a comprehensive vision on the Central African Republic from Graeme Wood:
The French arrived in what’s now CAR in the late nineteenth century, and their history suggests they wish they had never come at all. They initially tried enslaving the population and turning the country into a cotton producer. But that didn’t work. CAR ended up being the place where the French sent their dumbest colonial officers, and when French colonies gained independence in the early ’60s, Paris wasn’t sorry to see this one go.
Still, perhaps out of colonial nostalgia, the French have continued to interfere in Central African politics. CAR provided a station for French troops during the 1980s and 1990s, and prominent French politicians acquired stakes in gold and diamond interests. (French President Giscard d’Estaing did not visit Emperor Bokassa merely to hunt bongo and sample the imperial charcuterie.)
All of which explains why Paris treats the presence of anti-French elements in Bangui as a stick in the eye. The French are uncomfortable with the rise of Rwanda—a locally grown power whose regional significance has waxed just as theirs has waned. They are keenly aware that Bangui’s Muslims, whom the Rwandans protect, killed two Sangaris and now tag their neighborhoods with “NO TO FRANCE, THE DOGS OF EUROPE” graffiti. And the French have loudly condemned Rwanda’s alleged sponsorship of rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and assassination of political opponents. (Those opponents turn up dead with actuarially improbable frequency: At least one was shot dead in Bangui earlier this year, and Rwandan soldiers are rumored to have been responsible.)
From David Cole:
On Monday, The New York Times reported that “the Senate has quietly stripped a provision from an intelligence bill that would have required President Obama to make public each year the number of people killed or injured in targeted killing operations in Pakistan and other countries where the United States uses lethal force.” National security officials in the Obama administration objected strongly to having to notify the public of the results and scope of their dirty work, and the Senate acceded. So much for what President Obama has called “the most transparent administration in history.”
Quelle surprise !
Worrisome sugary excerpt from Nick Turse:
A new type of expeditionary warfare is underway in Africa, but there’s little to suggest that America’s backing of a former colonial power will ultimately yield the long-term successes that years of support for local proxies could not. So far, the U.S. has been willing to let European and African forces do the fighting, but if these interventions drag on and the violence continues to leap from country to country as yet more militant groups morph and multiply, the risk only rises of Washington wading ever deeper into post-colonial wars with an eerily colonial look. “Leveraging and partnering with the French” is the current way to go, according to Washington. Just where it’s going is the real question.
This is a country that likes trials of the century—a couple of them a year, if possible. We’ve also, as politicians remind us, been convulsed as a nation by the September 11th attacks, which are supposed to have changed our expectations of everything from Presidents to airplane rides and privacy. The one thing that the memory of 9/11 hasn’t had the power to do, strangely, is get us engrossed in the actual judicial proceedings involving members of Al Qaeda. When it comes to bringing terrorists to justice in a courtroom, we seem to get bored.
<div><iframe width="480" height="270" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" src="http://player.canalplus.fr/embed/?param=cplus&vid=1023017"></iframe></div><div style="width:472px;font-size:11px; background:#EBEBEB; border:1px solid #D6D6D6; margin-top:5px; padding:4px 0 4px 6px; font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; -moz-border-radius:3px; -webkit-border-radius:3px;"><a target="_blank" style="text-decoration:none; color:#666;" href="http://www.canalplus.fr/c-divertissement/c-le-grand-journal/pid6298-les-extraits.html?vid=1023017&sc_cmpid=SharePlayerEmbed"><span style="color:#000; font-weight:bold;">Appel de BHL sur la situation en Ukraine</span> - Le Grand Journal du 18/02</a></div>
Sugary excerpt of the day from Malise Ruthven:
Drones, for all their horror, are just the latest instruments by which powers based in urban centers (and not just those linked to the United States) beat into submission the peripheries—what Morocco’s rulers used to call the “Land of Insolence.”
I almost agree wholeheartedly with Patrick Cockburn on this:
The four wars fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria over the past 12 years have all involved overt or covert foreign intervention in deeply divided countries. In each case the involvement of the West exacerbated existing differences and pushed hostile parties towards civil war. In each country, all or part of the opposition have been hard-core jihadi fighters. Whatever the real issues at stake, the interventions have been presented as primarily humanitarian, in support of popular forces against dictators and police states. Despite apparent military successes, in none of these cases have the local opposition and their backers succeeded in consolidating power and establishing stable states.
I agree with Alex Massie on this:
All jihadists may be muslim; it is grotesque to suppose all muslims are potential jihadists. But treating them as though they may be is one way to increase sympathy for the real jihadists. Denigrating someone’s sense of identity is one sure way of ensuring they will have less time for your point of view.
Just the facrs from Chris Dillow:
The fact that a terrorist is likely to be a Muslim does not mean a Muslim is likely to be a terrorist. Even if we assume that there are ten terrorists walking the streets for every one inside, then 99.988% of Muslims are not terrorists. To put this another way, there's only around a one in 8000 chance of a Muslim being a terrorist; it's 16 times more likely that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will name their child Wayne. Given all this, why does anyone think terrorism is a Muslim problem?
Foreseeable crap from Eugene Kontorovich:
Russia only succeeded in suprresing the Chechen Islamists with extremely brutal tactics that would never find support in the U.S – essentially leveling the Chechen capital. Yet dealing with such a threat would also be impossible with a politically correct approach to counter-terror that, for example, turns away from talking frankly about the terrorists profiles and motives.
Yeah let's transform America into Russia, it won't be too difficult for Obama has at least one thing in common with Putin.
Is it possible to wait to now more facts before advocating ideological measures in the name of security?
I agree with Corey Robin on this:
During the Vietnam era, liberals and leftists believed not only in social justice but also in mass protest. Whether the cause was democracy at home or liberation abroad, men and women afflicted by oppression had to organize themselves for freedom. Yes, some of yesterday’s activists were blind to coercion within these movements, and others joined elite cadres bombing their way to liberation. Still, the animating faith of the 1960s was in the democratic capacities of ordinary men and women, making it difficult for liberals and leftists to believe in conquering armies from abroad or shock troops from on high.
Many liberals, and some leftists, no longer hold these views. Their faith is guided not by the light of justice but by the darkness of evil: by the tyranny of dictators, the genocide of ethnic cleansers and the terrorism of Islamist radicals. Despite their differences—some of these liberals and leftists support the war in Iraq, others do not; some are partial to popular movements, particularly those opposing anti-American governments, while others favor constitutional regimes, particularly those supporting the United States—theirs is a liberalism, as the late Harvard scholar Judith Shklar put it in a pioneering essay in 1989, that seeks to ward off the “summum malum” (worst evil) rather than to install a “summum bonum” (highest good). Reversing Augustine’s dictum that there is no such thing as evil—evil being only the absence of good—today’s liberal believes there is only evil and progress is measured by the distance we put between ourselves and that evil.
Ah good intentions and the obsession with evil...
Great stuff from Mukoma Wa Ngugi:
For western journalism to be taken seriously by Africans and Westerners alike, it needs Africans to vouch for stories rather than satirizing them. I am not saying that journalism needs the subject to agree with the content, but the search for journalistic truth takes place within a broad societal consensus. That is, while one may disagree with particular reportage and the facts, the spirit of the essay should not be in question. But Africans are saying that the journalists are not representing the complex truth of the continent; that Western journalists are not only misrepresenting the truth, but are in spirit working against the continent. The good news is there have been enough people questioning the coverage of Africa over the years that Western journalists have had no choice but to do some soul searching. The bad news is that the answers are variations of the problem.
Michela Wrong, in a New York Times piece shortly before the Kenyan elections, debated the use of the word “tribe.” She acknowledged that the word tribe “carries too many colonial echoes. It conjures up M.G.M. visions of masked dances and pagan rites. ‘Tribal violence’ and ‘tribal voting’ suggest something illogical and instinctive, motivated by impulses Westerners distanced themselves from long ago.” But she concluded the piece by reserving her right to use the term. She stated that “When it comes to the T-word, Kenyan politics are neither atavistic nor illogical. But yes, they are tribal.” The term tribe should have died in the 2007 elections when Africanist scholars took NYT’s Jeffrey Gettleman’s usage of the term to task. To his credit, Gettleman stopped using the term.
If you have Wrong insisting on using a discredited analytical framework, you have others who position themselves as missionaries and explorers out to save the image of Africa. But their egos end up outsizing the story.
Well, the problem starts with the simple fact that Africa is not a country and that therefore Kenya is neither Mali or Cote d'Ivoire and vice versa.
From Paul Barrett:
The reason why we can’t learn much in a practical sense from other countries is that we’re not other countries, and we’re not going to become other countries. We’re not going to have Australia’s society with Australia’s values and Australia’s attitudes toward firearms.
If your desire is to have a society that is more like that, it would be much easier for you to move to that society than to transpose that society onto this 300 million-person, 3,000 mile wide, incredibly complex, culture-of-many-cultures country.
Well d'oh or may be not!
From the great Stephen W. Smith:
The bigger question is not why France decided to intervene but why America has held off. Is it simply imperial overstretch and war-weariness? That seems a little thin, given the hue and cry in Washington about ‘ungoverned spaces’ and ‘terrorist safe havens’. After all, the Sahara is six times as big as Afghanistan and Pakistan combined. And why sink money into the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership – more than $1 billion since 2005 – or foot the bill for Operation Enduring Freedom Trans-Sahara, if at the end of it all al-Qaida is allowed to march on Bamako? Why would Obama order more drone strikes than his predecessor against the leaders of Somalia’s al-Shabaab, a group with relatively weak links to international terrorism, but not lift a finger to stop AQIM from taking over Mali? Unless, of course, in addition to a division of labour with the French, the point is to ‘disaggregate’ the multiple terrorist threats in Africa, tackling each individually rather than addressing any common denominator, and so deny jihadism a chance to coalesce. In this regard, even if the French were drawn into the quicksand in Mali, Nigeria would most likely remain the region’s focal point for the US: with 150 million inhabitants, it is the most populous state as well as the biggest oil producer south of the Sahara, and has an active homegrown salafist-jihadist group, Boko Haram (‘Westernisation Is Sinful’). When I put these thoughts to a US military staffer involved in anti-terrorism in Africa, he replied tersely: ‘What we’re doing in Africa is a sort of Whac-A-Mole’ – a reference to an arcade game in which players force moles back into their burrows by hitting them on the head with a mallet. He went on to quote the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams: ‘America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.’ Well, not any longer perhaps. But France has done precisely that.
THIS can't end well!
From Brendan O'Neill:
What the current instability in north Africa really reveals is not that Islamists are taking over the world, but rather that Western governments are utterly incapable of acting in their own interests on the international stage these days. The chasm that now separates what is in the West’s interests and what the West actually does in global politics is enormous. So determined were the British and French to score some PR points by bombing Libya in 2011 that they didn’t give a moment’s thought to the potential consequences – and now the French military, backed by Britain, is getting stuck into the Libyan fallout in Mali, and both governments are panicked by what is happening in Algeria. The true danger on the world stage today is not a global Islamist conspiracy to demolish Western values, but rather the fact that international affairs is now overseen by immature, narcissistic showboaters who know nothing of realpolitik, nothing of diplomacy, nothing of blowback, and nothing of history.
The trouble with hubris and incompetence is that they lead to a stubborn blindness that makes results inconsequential for the emphasis is placed on feeling good rather than on doing what works.
This from Gregory Mann is worrisome:
Mali differs from Afghanistan in important ways.
Mali is not (yet) a deeply militarized society — although in the months since Tuareg fighters returned from Qadaffi’s Libya that is changing rapidly.
Mali is not (yet) a narco-state. Northern Mali has become a lucrative zone for drug smuggling, which finances al Qaeda franchises worldwide. Yet none of those drugs are produced in Mali, where Afghanistan’s poppy growers have no parallel. Faced with stiffer surveillance and interdiction, smugglers will go elsewhere.
Finally, Mali is not (yet) a failed state. True, it is grievously weakened, and its army is in disarray. But the government continues to function in the territory it holds. Children go to school, civil servants go to work, and people go about their business.
I have the sinking feeling that most people are guessing when it comes to Mali just as they were about Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and that more often than not their guesses are not even educated, but based on hubris and wishful thinking.
I agree with Kweli Jaoko on this with the usual caveat that I don't agree with the west/rest division:
The banality, say, of tweeting and hashtagging, is part of the socio-historical through which misogyny becomes reflexive. Banality becomes the training we put ourselves through to make misogyny reflexive. What might it mean to understand misogyny through the kind of training that produces reflexes? Certainly the banality of tweeting and hashtagging labors to traffic the misogyny of #TeamMafisi and pass it off as ordinary, everyday, as part of the affects and intensities exchanged through the internet, and therefore something one must put up with. The fallacy is that misogyny is slightly inconveniencing.
As Western media deploys an Orientalist lens that locates rape and misogyny squarely in India—meaning, in the Global South, outside the West, and, yet again, as the need to save brown women from brown men—I would like us to think locally. Misogyny is not just a problem in India; in Kenya; or on Twitter. It is a problem everywhere, including here in the West from where I write.
Well it is always easier and satisfying even to criticize the barbarians rather than to recognize the world has, how should I put it, a woman problem!
Quote of the early morning from Karen J. Greenberg:
Hollywood, that one-time bastion of liberalism, has provided the final piece in the perfect blueprint for the whitewashing of torture policy. If that isn’t a happily-ever-after ending, what is?
Hollywood has never really been about liberalism as much as it has always been about triumphalism. It embraces torture through Zero Dark Thirty because it has no memory (it gets in the way of good and fluffy stories and of the romanticization of history) and believes that everything did indeed changed after 9/11 including what is permissible and forbidden.
Best thing I read about the Newtown tragedy so far from Bill Benzon:
Remember the story of the Emperor's New Clothes? The Emperor parades before the town proudly display his costly and gorgeous new outfit, NOT! For, as everyone sees, he's naked. But no one says anything for fear of displeasing the Emperor. And then one little boy blurts out "he's bloody naked!" and the whole delusion collapses.Everyone saw what the boy saw, but no one knew that their neighbor saw the same thing. Everyone was quaking in their boots in fear that they, and they alone, couldn't see the Emperor's fine raiment. Therefore, there must be something terribly wrong with them. But there wasn't. Their eyesight was fine. The little boy's cry showed them that.These terrible gun tragedies are like the little boy's cry. Now we all can see IT. But what is this IT that we can see, and why do we so quickly forget that we saw it? Why does seeing IT seem to make this failure of vision even worse? For that's what it does: "But after moments of healing, the partisan divide in attitudes toward guns has seemed only to accelerate after similar past events, as in Columbine, Colo." Just what is it that's been polarizing the American body politic over the last forty years?
From Arundhati Roy:
What good are weapons if they aren’t going to be used in wars? Weapons are absolutely essential; it’s not just for oil or natural resources, but for the military-industrial complex itself to keep going that we need weapons.
Today, as we speak, the U.S., and perhaps China and India, are involved in a battle for control of the resources of Africa. Thousands of U.S. troops, as well as death squads, are being sent into Africa. The “Yes We Can” president has expanded the war from Afghanistan into Pakistan. There are drone attacks killing children on a regular basis there.
Well, America and the world for that matter love charlatans who are solely great orators!
Two quotes that show that the American normal when it comes to guns is peculiar:
The first from Ann Althouse:
I'm seeing a lot of post-Newtown proposals for more gun control — and resistance to these proposals. It's not surprising that each new massacre becomes an occasion to restate positions on gun control, with redoubled enthusiasm.
But why isn't there more talk about institutionalizing the mentally ill? Adam Lanza's mother needed to be home with him? What 20-year-old needs pervasive supervision from his mother? I suspect the mother, who is now dead, had very serious problems of her own. I can't understand her keeping those 3 weapons — pictured at the link — in the home along with a 20-year-old man who — in her view — required her stay-at-home motherhood.
We're so sympathetic to children, and now we're distracted by our sympathy for the dead children, but what about all the deeply troubled young people? Why are we so sympathetic to them up until the point where they act? Or... I mean... why does our sympathy toward the mentally ill take the form of regarding them as socially awkward and weird and leaving them alone?
The second one from Eugene Volokh:
So it appears that civilians armed with guns are sometimes willing to intervene to stop someone who had just committed a mass shooting in public. In what fraction of mass shootings would such interventions happen, if gun possession were allowed in the places where the shootings happen? We don’t know. In what fraction would interventions prevent more killings and injuries, as opposed to capturing or killing the murderer after he’s already done? We don’t know. In what fraction would interventions lead to more injuries to bystanders? Again, we don’t know. Finally, always keep in mind that mass shootings in public places should not be the main focus in the gun debate, whether for gun control or gun decontrol: They on average account for much less than 1% of all homicides in the U.S., and are unusually hard to stop through gun control laws (since the killer is bent on committing a publicly visible murder and is thus unlikely to be much deterred by gun control law, or by the prospect of encountering an armed bystander).
Just one comment, well no two: only in America, is it possible to ignore the obvious when it comes to gun violence to focus on fluff and peripheral issues (God, prayer in school, evil, the mentally ill, etc...)! That said, gun control advocates aren't very good, they are terrible and condescending!
Sugary excerpt from Stephen W. Smith must-read post on Congo and Rwanda on the London Review of Book's blog:
The post-genocidal regime in Rwanda has time and again been able to raid and plunder its Congolese neighbour with no, or little, risk of punitive sanctions. Britain finally seems to have reservations about the validity of washing away a genocide with a torrent of crimes against humanity, and the UN Security Council has demanded an end to outside support for the M23 rebels, but the United States is still shielding Kagame from blame. Thanks to American support, Rwanda is about to take up a two-year seat as a non-permanent member of the Security Council. (...)An estimated 700,000 Congolese have been driven from their homes during the last bout of fighting in the east. Tens of thousands of unarmed civilians have been killed by Rwandan forces in eastern Congo. An estimated five million have died as indirect victims of warfare, from hunger, displacement or disease. The combined charges against all the warlords so far indicted by the ICC, from the former Liberian president Charles Taylor to the M23 commander Bosco Ntaganda, a.k.a. ‘The Terminator’, fall short of the war crimes committed by President Kagame and documented by the UN. But the ICC doesn’t seem to know.
The trouble here is as always that the people who could make a difference refuse to see the situation in ordinary terms and instead 'africanize' it. Doing so dehumanizes ordinary Congolese for the insistence that Africa is a country condemns very different olaces on that continent to remain the heart of darkness/blackness.
Scary stuff from the Economist's Democracy in America blog:
Murder rates are about four times higher in America than in western Europe. And guns are not the only reason; murder by stabbing and clubbing is higher, too. The murder rate is higher among blacks, but American whites are more violent than European whites. The South is America's most violent region; both blacks and whites in the South are more violent than those in the northeast. In other words, the murder rate is highest in those states that most disdain the sovereign ("government") and champion self-reliance.
The dumbest statement I have read this week so far from Francois Heisbourg of the Foundation for Strategic Research via the Washington Post:
This is like Afghanistan 1996. This is like when Bin Laden found a place that was larger than France in which he could organize training camps, in which he could provide stable preparations for organizing far-flung terror attacks.
Comparaison n'est pas raison. Comparing Mali to Afghanistan is as smart and as appropriate as comparing Cap-Vert to Monaco. Wrong similes and metaphors in international politics are always signs of impending doom.
From Glenn Greenwald:
One of the primary reasons war - especially protracted war - is so destructive is not merely that it kills the populations at whom it is aimed, but it also radically degrades the character of the citizenry that wages it. That's what enables one of America's most celebrated pundits to go on the most mainstream of TV programs and coldly justify the killing of 4-year-olds, without so much as batting an eyelash or even paying lip service to the heinous tragedy of that, and have it be barely noticed. Joe Klein is the face not only of the Obama legacy, but also mainstream US political culture.
I'm not sure this is just an American 'thing' for it has to do with power and the complacency that comes with a sense of entitlement.
I agree totally with Tony Junod on this:
We have been told, many times, that each killing carried out by the administration is accompanied by vigorous and even agonized debate about its legality, advisability, efficacy, and morality. That debate, however has remained staunchly internal — has remained secret — and it has become clear that the only way to find out what our two presidential candidates think about the implications of the Lethal Presidency is to ask them, tonight, at the debate in Florida. President Obama has limited his comments to all but the most self-serving circumstance, and Governor Romney has spoken only through inference and through the often confounding comments of his foreign-policy surrogates. Bob Schieffer should know that if he does not ask a question about targeted killing tonight, he is — we are — unlikely to get another chance.
Unfortunately,the main concern of most journalists and of most Americans is to protect America by whichever means necessary. Thus, until Americans feel secure, they are going to be willing to let the president do whatever it takes to keep them safe even if they sense that the means used are wrong and will mean apologizing and regretting them in the future.
The following words from Hugh Roberts make me uncomfortable:
The reason Muslims have been demonstrating from Tunis to Jakarta is not that they are exceptionally thin-skinned and liable to throw tantrums at the drop of a hat, nor even that US policy has given them plenty of other grounds for grievance over the years. It is that Islamist movements now collectively dominate but nowhere monopolise the political field and are bound to mobilise their supporters to the hilt whenever any of their rivals begin to do so. This is what the eclipse of the modernist nationalist tradition has led to, and Western – and by no means solely American – policy is responsible for it. The result is growing anarchy in the region from which Americans and American interests cannot realistically expect to remain immune.
Do we really live in a world where there are masters who act freely and slaves who submit and suffer from the actions of the all-powerful?
Former National Intelligence director Dennis Blair on the use of drones by the Obama administration:
It is the politically advantageous thing to do--low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.
Boy did Obama punk the Norwegian Committee which gave him the Novel Peace Prize believing that he would be a worldly American president because he asserted that he was a citizen of the world!
The sugary excerpt of this Monday morning is from Adam Hochschild whose book King Leopold’s Ghost is a must-read:
We tend to think of wars as occasions for heroism, and in a narrow, simple sense they can be. But a larger heroism, sorely lacking in Washington this last decade, lies in daring to think through whether a war is worth fighting at all. In looking for lessons in wars past, there’s a much deeper story to be told than that of a boy and his horse.
It is frightening to come to the realization that war or the use of force through drones or other means is becoming the preeminent method for the United States to conduct its foreign policy.
The point here isn't Ron Paulian for the issue isn't about putting America first, but about whether wars can be won everywhere and achieve policy goals even when they deal lethally with immediate threats, which may not be the most dangerous ones.
The Arab League, President Obama and NATO have been vindicated in their decision to forestall the massacre of eastern Libyan cities such as Benghazi. The region’s remaining bloodthirsty tyrants, who have not scrupled to massacre non-combatants for exercising their right of peaceable assembly and protest, should take the lesson that mass murder is a one-way ticket for them to the sewage drain of history. As I told the NYT today, ““The real lesson here is that there is a new wave of popular politics in the Arab world… People are not in the mood to put up with semi-genocidal dictators.”
I don't agree with Juan Cole or rather with the way he chooses to phrase the issue for two reasons. The first is that I don't think that death of Qaddafi or of any dictator is the measuring stick as to whether American intervention in the country was successful. If it were the case, Iraq would be a success.
The second reason is that long term matters especially when the policy before intervention whether it was direct or not was to interact with Qaddafi's regime. In short, my problem is that Cole is solely moralizing the issue because he agrees with the policy instead of judging it on its merit, which is what happens on the ground.
I have to admit that because I lived through the capture of Saddam Hussein and his death, there is something about these flashy events that unsettle me while I hope that everything ends well and while I know the conclusion will depend on acts not on good feelings and intentions.
Glenn Greenwald on the death of the American Born Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki by American drones (Kenneth Anderson must feel that he is winning the argument on the necessity and effectiveness of drones):
Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President's ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki -- including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry's execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists -- criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed.
From an authoritarian perspective, that's the genius of America's political culture. It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process). It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.
I'm going to munch on Greenwald's words, but it is pretty clear that in the so-called war on terror (I have to come to hate that term because it implies that war is the only way to fight terrorism), the end justifies the means and as a long time Camusian that fact bothers me.