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Jessica Dawson on Relationships with God and Community as Critical Nodes in Center of Gravity Analysis

Friday, April 13th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — An important article, meaning one with which I largely, emphatically agree ]
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Let me repeat: Jessica Dawson‘s piece for Strategy Bridge is an important article, meaning one with which I largely, emphatically agree — a must-read.

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Prof Dawson writes:

There is a blind spot in U.S. joint doctrine that continually hinders operational planning and strategy development. This blind spot is a failure to account for critical relationships with a person’s conception of god and their community, and how these relationships impact the operational environment.

Let’s just say I was a contributing edtor at Lapido Media until its demise, writing to clue journos in to the religious significance of current events:

  • Lapido, Venerating Putin: Is Russia’s President the second Prince Vlad?
  • Lapido, ANALYSIS When laïcité destroys egalité and fraternité
  • Lapido is essentially countering the same blind spot at the level of journos, and hence the public conversation.

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    I haven’t focused on the relationship with community, but I have written frequently on what von Clausewitz would call “morale” in contrast with men and materiel. Prof Dawson addresses this issue:

    Understanding religion and society’s role in enabling a society’s use of military force is inherently more difficult than counting the number of weapons systems an enemy has at its disposal. That said, ignoring the people aspect of Clausewitz’s trinity results in an incomplete analysis.

    Indeed, I’ve quoted von Clausewitz on the topic:

    Essentially, war is fighting, for fighting is the only effective principle in the manifold activities designated as war. Fighting, in turn, is a trial of moral and physical forces through the medium of the latter. Naturally moral strength must not be excluded, for psychological forces exert a decisive in?uence on the elements involved in war.

    and:

    One might say that the physical seem little more than the wooden hilt, while the moral factors are the precious metal, the real weapons, the finely honed blade.

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    And Prof Dawson is interested in “critical nodes” and the mapping of relationships, vide her title:

    Relationships with God and Community as Critical Nodes in Center of Gravity Analysis

    :

    This too is an area I am interested in, as evidenced by my borrowing one of my friend JM Berger‘s detailed maps in my post Quant and qualit in regards to “al wala’ wal bara’”:

    That’s from JM’s ICCT paper, Countering Islamic State Messaging Through “Linkage-Based” Analysis

    Indeed, my HipBone Games are played on graphs as boards, with conceptual moves at their nodes and connections along their edges, see my series On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: twelve &c.

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    My specific focus, games aside, has been on notions of apocalypse as expectation, excitation, and exultation — in my view, the ultimate in what Tillich would call “ultimate concerns”.

    As an Associate and sometime Principal Researcher with the late Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, I have enjoyed years of friendship and collaboration with Richard Landes, Stephen O’Leary and other scholars, and contribuuted to the 2015 Boston conference, #GenerationCaliphate: Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad

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    I could quote considerably more from Jessica Dawson’s piece, but having indicated some of the ways in which her and my own interests run in parallel, and why that causes me to offer her high praise, I’d like quickly to turn to two areas in which my own specialty in religious studies — new religious movements and apocalyptic — left me wishing for more, or to put it more exactly, for more recent references in her treatment of religious aspects.

    Dr Dawson writes of ISIS’ men’s attitudes to their wives disposing of their husbands’ slaves:

    This has little to do with the actual teachings of Islam

    She also characterizes their actions thus:

    They are granted authority and thus power over the people around them through the moral force of pseudo religious declarations.

    Some ISIS fighters are no doubt more influenced by mundane considerations and some by religious — but there’s little doubt that those religious considerations are anything but “pseudo religious”. Will McCants‘ book, The ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy, and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic Stat traces the history of ISIS’ theology from hadith locating the apocalypse in Dabiq through al-Zarqawi and al-Baghdadi to the loss of much of the group’s territory and the expansion of its reach via recruitment of individuals and cells in the west.. leaving little doubt of the “alternate legitimacy” of the group’s theological claims. Graeme Wood‘s Atlantic article, to which Prof Dawson refers us, is excellent but way shorter and necessarily less detailed.

    On the Christian front, similarly, eschatology has a role to play, as Prof Dawson recognizes — but instead of referencing a 2005 piece, American Rapture, about the Left Behind series, she might have brought us up to datw with one or both of two excellent religious studies articles:

  • Julie Ingersoll, Why Trump’s evangelical supporters welcome his move on Jerusalem
  • Diana Butler Bass, For many evangelicals, Jerusalem is about prophecy, not politics
  • As their parallel titles suggest, Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem — which received a fair amount of press at the time that may have mentioned such a move would please his evangelical base, but didn’t explore the theology behind such support in any detail — has profound eschatpological implications.

    Julie Ingersoll’s book, Building God’s Kingdom: Inside the World of Christian Reconstruction, is excellent in its focus on the “other side” of the ceontemporary evangelical right, ie Dominionism, whose founding father, RJ Rushdoony was a post-millennialist in contrast to La Haye and the Left Behind books — his followers expect the return of Christ after a thousand year reign of Christian principles, not next week, next month or in the next decade or so.

    Sadly, the Dominionist and Dispensationalist (post-millennialist and pre-millennialist) strands in the contemporary Christian right have mixed and mingled, so that it is hard to keep track of who believed in which — or what!

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    All the more reason to be grateful for Prof Dawson’s emphasis on the importance of religious knowledge in strategy and policy circles.

    Let doctrine (theological) meet and inform doctrine (military)!

    Not a target, squared — plus one

    Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — Putin, Mueller, Trump, and Nada Bakos ]
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    IMO it is a pure coincidence that these two barely related headlines popped up on the same day:

    That’s “not a target” squared. Not that I generally believe in coincidence — I favor synchronicity, but admittedly switch between magical and naturalistic worldviews as suits the moment.
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    Sources:

  • The Week, Report: Mueller named Trump a subject, not criminal target
  • NY Times, For Russia, Trump Was a Vehicle, Not a Target
  • **

    while we’re on the subject of targets, here’s the Targeter par excellence, Nada Bakos, whose can’t wait book is currently targeted for redaction by the relevant CIA publications review office::

    Hers is the definitive al-Zarqawi-ISIS story.

    Signs in the skies II, for Richard Landes

    Sunday, October 4th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — supplementary material on 2030s apocalyptic, including dominionist postmillenialism ]
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    Richard Landes, talking with Terry Gross on NPR in 1997, said:

    I’m willing to predict right now that Christians will redate after 2000 to 2033, and that we can expect another wave of Christian apocalyptic expectation and messianic hopes and so on around 2033.

    I noted Richard’s presentiment that millennial expectation wouldn’t die down after the failure of the year 2000 to provide us with the End of Days in Armageddon: if you can’t hasten it, maybe you can dodge it? and illustrated the idea with a graphic from the Passage through the Veil of Time video in Simply so much.. 02. And in my first Signs in the skies piece, I briefly alluded to the Four Blood Moons theory which some Christians — and even some Mormons, but more on that shortly — have been viewing as indicative of the End Times or Latter Days.

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    In light of that, here’s another view of the blood moons, this time from the postmillennial side, as represented by the Christian Reconstructionist (see *Note below) Dr. Joel McDurmon, writing in the October 2nd issue of American Vision:

    What to do before the NEXT Four Blood Moons (yes, there’s another coming….)

    I won’t belabor the beating of this dead horse too much, but you should be aware that there is indeed another “Four Blood Moons” to occur within our lifetime (God willing!)—one almost identical to the one we just lived through the past two years.

    As previously posted, the so-called “Blood Moon” prophecy was impossible from the beginning, but that did not stop Hagee (and others) from Pontificating. Hagee now owns the label of false prophet, and they are all trying to rationalize their failed predictions.

    What they never told you is that this event was really not even that unique. In addition to the good amount of fudging historical events to fit previous “tetrads” into an eerily precise narrative, the 2014–2015 cycle is not the last to come. Yet if you listened to all these prophecy pundits, this is God’s final warning.

    Well, not if you look ahead on the calendar. When this September passed without event, just as I predicted, I then look ahead just to see how far out the next cycle of prophecy shyster book sales could be expected. I expected it to be hundreds of years before such a rare event would occur again. But I was surprised.

    The next “Four Blood Moons” event is only 18 years from now: 2033–2034. Lord willing, I’ll only be 59 years old when it starts. You, too, will probably live to see it. And yes, this tetrad of lunar eclipses each falls directly on the Jewish Passover and Feast of Tabernacles for those two consecutive years, and is split half way by a solar eclipse. ..

    This is only the first one I found. There are almost certainly others yet to come if you search through the NASA charts of lunar eclipses, and compare then to the dates of the Jewish feast days.

    You can probably bet there’ll be a whole new crop of anxious Christians comprising a ripe market for a handful of unscrupulous rapture mongers. They will have forgotten how the last blood moons hype came and went as a farce way back in 2015.

    *Note: Christian Reconstructionism is one of various terms used to describe different facets of the movement initiated by RJ Rushdoony to implement Biblical law (including the civic stoning of disorderly & recidivist children) in thr US and eventually throughout the world — other terms include theonomy, dominionism, kingdom now theology, etc.

    Resources:

  • Julie Ingersioll, Building God’s Kingdom: inside the world of Christian Reconstruction
  • RJ Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law

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