The Thucydides Roundtable

October 13th, 2016


  1. Announcement, by T. Greer
  2. Marching Orders, by Mark Safranski
  3. Panel of Contributors, by Mark Safranski

Book I:

  1. An introduction, by T. Greer
  2. Fear, honor, and Ophelia, by Lynn C. Rees
  3. The Broken Reedby Jim Lacey
  4. How Group Dynamics Brought Sparta and Athens to War, by Joe Byerly
  5. It Would Be A Great Warby Cheryl Rofer
  6. Knowing Thyself and Knowing the Enemyby Marc Opper
  7. Political Rhetoric in Book I: Truth or Action?, by Pauline Kaurin
  8. Failed Visions of Strategic Restraint, by Mark Safranski
  9. Reflections in a Beginner’s Mindby Charles Cameron
  10. Reflections from a Clausewizian Strategic Theory Perspective, by Joseph Guerra

Book II:

  1. Beware Greeks Bearing Faulty Assumptionsby Pauline Kaurin

Book III:

Starts October 31, 2016

Book IV:

Starts November 7, 2016

Book V:

Starts November 14, 2016…

Book VI:

Starts November 21, 2016…

Book VII:

Starts November 28, 2016…

Book VIII:

Starts December 5, 2016

Concluding Analysis:

Starts December 12, 2016


A survival kit for all time

Other Sources:

A survival kit for some time

Trump’s candidacy ‘spells end of American religious right’ — my latest just up at Lapido

October 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — plus a link to Dr Moore’s Erasmus Lecture yesterday ]

My latest for LapidoMedia concerns Trump and the religious right, and centers on some remarks by Dr Russell Moore. It begins:

DONALD Trump’s presidential bid is dividing not just of the American people but American religious opinion.

Evangelicals and Catholics alike are deeply split on his candidacy.

What’s at stake is both individual conscience and the future of American religious politics.

Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy office, says ‘the Donald Trump phenomenon … is an embrace of the very kind of moral and cultural decadence that conservatives have been saying for a long time is the problem.’

Read the rest on the Lapido site


Dr Moore gave the 2016 Erasmus Lecture yesterday, after my article went to press: Can the Religious Right be Saved? for First Things [link is to video, I don’t have a transcript]. I am by no means an Evangelical, but I find him very impressive.

Two more tweets of interest from Elijah Magnier

October 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — angels as force multipliers for ISIS, and the cross restored ]

I used a tweet from Magnier in Prophetic dreams, Dabiq now, Mosul back then, and another in my comment on The map borders on the territory? Turkey, Palestine. Here are two more..

The first updates us on the Qur’anic concept of angels, rank on rank, supporting the Muslims at the Battle of Badr (Qur’an 8.9):


And before I show you the second, let me remind you of this, from November of last year:


Now the situation is blessedly reversed:

Prophetic dreams, Dabiq now, Mosul back then

October 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — two dreams of the Prophet attributed to al-Baghdadi, one just now, one a year and a half ago ]

Another response to the failure of a prophecy is to claim the Prophet foretold it. That at least is the claim made recently about the ISIS retreat from Dabiq:

However, we should note that something very similar was reported back in March of 2015!



Dreams were important to Muhammad and his Companions, gave guidance to both bin Laden and Mullah Omar, and are important to ISIS. They are among the “soft” aspects of jihad that we overlook at our peril (cf Thomas Hegghammer).

For a quick overview, see Iain R Edgar‘s pieces, Islamic State and Dream Warfare from September, or his earlier The Dreams of Islamic State. The second edition of his book, The Dream in Islam: From Qur’anic Tradition to Jihadist Inspiration includes material on ISIS.

Tests, trials, temptations, tribulations

October 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — overstatement & correction in a Foreign Policy subtitle, more ]

I believe it was the science fictioneer James Blish who first brought the idea of testing up to breaking point, but not beyond — or shall we call that, testing that’s asymptotic to one’s breaking point? — in Black Easter and Day after Judgment.

In those two novels, Blish describes a concordat between angelic and demonic forces, in which the devils can claim no soul for their own if they have tested that soul beyond its capacity, nor can the angels claim any soul for their own unless that soul has been tested up to that limit..

It’s a fascinating premise, and one that finds echoes in both the New Testament and Quran.

In the New Testament we read, for instance:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. [James 1:2-4]


God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able.. [Corinthians 10:13]

Similarly in the Qur’an we find:

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.. [Qur’an 2.155]


Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease. [Qur’an 65.7]


Bearing all of which in mind, observe the subtle change in subtitle observable between this Foreign Policy tweet (“scouring”):

and the subtitle as it now stands on the FP page itself (“digging through”):



Cole Bunzel‘s article deserves your attention — it’s just that subtitle I’m a bit annoyed by.

It really doesn’t take must “scouring” of the Qur’an to discover that trials and setbacks are part of the divine plan — and that faith, patience, endurance are what will get one through them.

To my way of thinking, ‘digging through” is a clear improvement on “scouring” — but what’s really happening here is that ISIS propagandists are swapping out more immediately optimistic quotes for quotes that are better adapted to the long haul.

That, I think, is what Bunzel is getting at here, just as that is why the IS English language magazine is no longer called Dabiq, but Rumiyah instead.

It’s not a big mystery — they’re just picking their scriptural quotes to fit the changing situation.


Edited to add:

I’m happy, but in no way surprised, to report that the subtitle in question was an editorial one, not the work of Cole Bunzel.

The map borders on the territory? Turkey, Palestine

October 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — maps as records, as wishes, as hints, as silent threats ]

Interesting things, maps. Models and descriptions, too, but it’s maps I’m thinking of here. Two examples:




From my point of view, the most striking paragraph in the Foreign Policy piece titled Turkey’s New Maps Are Reclaiming The Ottoman Empire was this one:

At first glance, the maps of Turkey appearing on Turkish TV recently resemble similar irredentist maps put out by proponents of greater Greece, greater Macedonia, greater Bulgaria, greater Armenia, greater Azerbaijan, and greater Syria. That is to say, they aren’t maps of the Ottoman Empire, which was substantially larger, or the entire Muslim world or the Turkic world. They are maps of Turkey, just a little bigger.

Map bloating & boasting is obviously bigger business than I had fully realized.

Also of interest was the comment:

On two separate occasions, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the Treaty of Lausanne, which created the borders of modern Turkey, for leaving the country too small. He spoke of the country’s interest in the fate of Turkish minorities living beyond these borders, as well as its historic claims to the Iraqi city of Mosul..

Mosul, okay, noted — but what interests me more is the parallelism with Putin‘s attitude to the Ukraine:

“Novorossiya” or “New Russia”: Putin only briefly mentioned that term during a five-hour, televised question-and-answer session this month. But his revival of that geographic title for southern and eastern Ukraine—territory won from the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century by Catherine the Great—is resonating among Russians today.



One other recent map controversy caught my eye…


The claim was made that Google had eliminated the name Palestine from Google Maps. Google denied this:

“There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip,’ ” the company said in a statement. “We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.” It is unclear if that bug played a role in spurring the online outrage.

Elizabeth Davidoff, a spokeswoman, said in an email that the company had also never used the label “Palestinian territories” on its maps. The bug affecting the words “Gaza Strip” and “West Bank” persisted on Wednesday, but when Google Maps functions properly both areas are labeled and separated from Israel by a dotted line to signify that their borders are not internationally recognized.


Dotted lines in the sand..

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