zenpundit.com » terrorism

Archive for the ‘terrorism’ Category

It is the Nine Eleven Century

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

[by Mark Safranski / “zen“]

Thomas Wade, long time ZP reader reminded me this morning of the post I wrote on the 10th anniversary of September 11. If anything the world has changed for the worse. Will we change course?

I don’t know.

The Nine Eleven Century?

nineleven2.jpg

Ten years ago to this day, almost to the hour of which I am writing, commercial jetliners were highjacked by al Qaida teams armed with boxcutters, under the direction of Mohammed Atta, were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, believed to be headed to the US Capitol building, crashed in Pennsylvania when passengers led by Todd Beamer heroically attempted to stop the highjackers. The whole world watched – most with horror but some with public glee – on live television as people jumped out of smoke-engulfed windows, holding hands, to their deaths. Then, the towers fell.

From this day flowed terrible consequences that are still unfolding like the rippling shockwave of a bomb.

We look back, sometimes on the History Channel or some other educational program, at the grainy, too fast moving, sepia motion pictures of the start of World War I. The crowds wildly cheered troops with strangely antiquarian uniforms that looked reminiscent of Napoleon’s day, march proudly off to the war that gave Europe the Somme, Gallipoli, Passchendaele and Verdun. And the Russian Revolution.

After the armistice, the victors had a brief chance to reset the geopolitical, strategic and economic patterns the war had wrought and in which they were enmeshed. The statesmen could not rise to that occasion, failing so badly that it was understood even at the time, by John Maynard Keynes and many others, that things were being made worse. World War I. became the historical template for the short but infinitely bloody 20th century of 1914-1991, which historians in future centuries may simply describe as “the long war” or a “civil war of western civilization”.

There is a serious danger, in my view, of September 11 becoming such a template for the 21st century and for the United States.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, as we remember the fallen and the many members of the armed services of the United States who have served for ten years of war, heroically, at great sacrifice and seldom with complaint, we also need to recall that we should not move through history as sleepwalkers. We owe it to our veterans and to ourselves not to continue to blindly walk the path of the trajectory of 9/11, but to pause and reflect on what changes in the last ten years have been for the good and which require reassessment. Or repeal. To reassert ourselves, as Americans, as masters of our own destiny rather than reacting blindly to events while carelessly ceding more and more control over our lives and our livelihoods to the whims of others and a theatric quest for perfect security. America needs to regain the initiative, remember our strengths and do a much better job of minding the store at home.

The next ninety years being molded by the last ten is not a future I care to leave to my children. I can think of no better way to honor the dead and refute the current sense of decline than for America to collectively step back from immersion in moment by moment events and start to chart a course for the long term.

McCants explains the Saudis, Quantico rebukes them

Friday, August 26th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — Saudi-sourced jihadism, the FBI, Baader-Meinhof — hey, it’s all about terrosism ]
.

Will McCants explains [upper panel, below] how the Saudis are and are not promoting terrorism —

Tablet DQ 600 arsonist

— while a screen-cap from episode 9 in the first season of Quantico explains just why such an approach is logically bound to be defective.

**

Oh well, not to worry. It’s just another example of the illusion colloquially known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. I wouldn’t want to go all irrational on you, so I’ll let RationalWiki explain:

The frequency illusion (also known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon) is the phenomenon in which people who just learn or notice something start seeing it everywhere.

Except that — well, there it is again — Baader-Meinhof — it’s all terrorism!

Whole lot of DoubleQuoting going on..

Friday, July 29th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameroncompare & contrast is a very basic mental practice, and one I’d like to sharpen into the cognitive tool or mental app I term DoubleQuotes ]
.

This may well be the most significant DoubleTweet of the day — the very fact of its doubleness placing the issue into the category of Who Knows?

— both tweets, as you see, come to us courtesy of Mike Walker, former acting SecArmy & deputy FEMA director — and since this is Friday, let me say #FF him at @New_Narrative.

**

A French-language DQ worthy of note and our support:

**

A Trump trumps Trump DQ:

— hat-tip to @pourmecoffee.

**

Another Trump on Trump, this one caught by Adam Serwer:

FWIW, I’m sure there are Clinton on Clinton DoubleTweets too..

**

An entire, detailed NYT comparison between the two election campaigns demonstrates the power of extended compare and contrast thinking, aided and abetted by the graphical ease of digital capture and analysis —

NYT e;lection DQ article

— but you’ll need to click through and read it to get the full effect.

**

And while we’re on the subject of patterns, here’s a great quote which I got via Jessie Daniels:

A fine use of the ouroboric form to hammer home the significance of an observation — and also a powerful contemporary creation myth!

Zengi can be Zangi and Zinki, among others

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — besides horror at the beheading, there’s an analytic note that needs to be heard ]
.

abdullah issa 600
Abdullah Issa fighting, and wounded — soon to be savagely beheaded

The ferocity of the beheading has been blurred out in most versions of the video, though ZeroCensorship is still showing it, and YouTube has a version that stops short of the beheading but appears to record Abdullah’s final wish — to be shot, not slaughtered.

That devastating final wish goes way beyond Shakespeare‘s “to be or not to be, that is the question” — it may well be the most terrfying depiction of a choice made at death-point that I have ever heard.

**

I commented recently to a post by Ehsani2 titled The Boy Beheaded by Zinki Fighters, Abdullah Tayseer, Who Was He? on Dr. Joshus LandisSyria Comment blog, noting that the piece used the names Zanki and Zinki without commenting on the difference between them, and asking for clarification. I’d like to thank Dr Landis for a graciously email in response, and am happy to note today that my concern regarding the discrepant names used in the article is not without cause — as Kyle Orton just made clear in his own post on his Syrian Intifada blog, A Rebel Crime and Western Lessons in Syria:

One of the first complications with al-Zengi is the sheer variety of ways to transliterate the group’s name. Nooradeen can be Nooridin, Noorideen, and Noor/Nur al-Din/Deen; Zengi can be Zangi and Zinki, among others. Harakat means “movement,” though sometimes the organization is referred to as kataib (brigade) instead. Nooradeen refers to the twelfth-century Seljuk atabeg of the Zengid dynasty, whose life’s project was the reunification of the Islamic community.

No wonder I was confused.

**

My point, as so often, cuts against the grain of the conversation on Ehsani2’s post, which is largely about the horrible event itself and the group that performed it, one time support from the US included, and not the ways in which lack of languahger skills can cause confusion where clarity would be preferable — and that’s fair enough. My point, hiwever, is the linguistic one, and I think it’s important in a way that’s perhaps better suited to discussion here than on Dr Landis’ blog.

My plea is for analysts with special knowledge of places, groups or languages to bear in mind when writing, that there will be some in their interested audiences who may not share those specialities but are still worth reaching — and in particular that non-specialists, while inherently weak in local detail, may nevertheless contribute significant insights from outside linguistic or area-specialist silos, precisely by virtue of not being in the echo-chambers that such forms of specialism themselves tend to erect.

Zen has from the beginning of this blog stressed the mutual virtues of what he terms “horizontal” and “vertical” modes of knowledge — see his series:

  • Understanding Cognition: part I: Benefits of horizontal thinking
  • Understanding Cognition: part II: Benefits of vertical thinking to horizontal thinkers
  • Understanding Cognition: part III: Horizontal and vertical thinking and the origin of insight
  • I came to my own interest in that topic by being a primarily analogical and only secondarily linear thinker, by hearing Murray Gell-Mann at CalTech speak on the importance of generalist “bridge-makers” who perceive analogical links between otherwise unrelated disciplines, and by my twenty- to thirty-year effort to devised a playable form of the great analogical game loosely described in Hermann Hesse’s brillian (nobel-winning) novel, The Glass Bead Game.

    In prepping a proposal — as yet unfinished — for DARPA or IARPA last year, I formulate my basic message as a sort of motto, thus:

    Out of the box, out of the silo, out of the discipline, out of the agency, out of the explicit known into the “unknowing” — where the future takes shape…

    I could — and in the finished proposal will, God-willing — go far further on this topic, describing the ways in which complexity is far better modeled for us humans by analogical than by linear thinking, by cross-disciplinary than by silo’d thinking, by visual rather than verbal thinking, by human scale (7, plus or minus 2 datapoints) visualization than by big-data viz, and so forth. But let’s make it simple:

    Quirky thinking has a better chance at creative insight than routine thinking, individual contrarian passion than in-group agreement.

    Okay?

    **

    Thanks again to Dr Landis, and back to business..

    Unfortunate tweet sequence

    Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — keeping a wary eye on algorithms, with the sting in the three links at the end ]
    .

    Here’s a tweet alerting readers to a newspaper piece on the Munich terror attack:

    Here, entirely by chance, is the tweet that followed it as I scrolled down my feed:

    That tweet, for what it’s worth, was promoted.

    **

    I’m sure the people doing the promoting wouldn’t have chosen to have me read it immediately after reading the newspaper tweet just above it, but that’s the sort of things that happens when “thought” gets automated. It reminds me of the time I was researching al-Awlaki on the pro-jihadist site Revolution Muslim, and some algorithm suggested I’d like an add offering “bold Christian clothing”:

    Awlaki-and-ad

    No sale there, I’m afraid.

    **

    It gets more serious, though:

  • 3 Quarks Daily, Algocracy: Outsourcing governance to Algorithms
  • WSJ, Google Mistakenly Tags Black People as ‘Gorillas,’ Showing Limits of Algorithms
  • ProPublica, How We Analyzed the COMPAS Recidivism Algorithm ProPublica

  • Switch to our mobile site