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The Shoehorn — two into one won’t go

Monday, July 18th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — these things are multi-factorial, and can’t truthfully be shoehorned to fit two categories — “terrorist” or “deranged” — as realtors might say, it’s nuance, nuance, nuance ]
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Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt have an interesting piece in the NYT today, titled In the Age of ISIS, Who’s a Terrorist, and Who’s Simply Deranged? It hinges on a comparison of two similar events in France, two years apart, in Dijon and Nice.

Here, I’ve presented them as a DoubleQuote. The Dijon article (upper panel, below) comes from an NYT report dated December 23, 2014:

Tablet DQ 600 Terrorist or Deranged

The Nice report (lower panel, above) comes from Mazzetti and Schmitt’s piece today.

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Mazzetti and Schmitt point out that shortly before the Dijon attack,

In September 2014, the spokesman for the Islamic State put out a call for the group’s followers to attack Westerners by any means possible, and to do so without awaiting further instructions from the group’s leaders.

“Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him,” the spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, said during a 42-minute recorded statement.

The whole Mazzetti and Schmitt piece is worth your reading. Categorization, as they explain, is changing —

“A lot of this stuff is at the fringes of what we would historically think of as terrorism,” said Daniel Benjamin, a former State Department coordinator for counterterrorism and a professor at Dartmouth College. But, he said, “the Islamic State and jihadism has become a kind of refuge for some unstable people who are at the end of their rope and decide they can redeem their screwed-up lives” by dying in the name of a cause.

Mr. Benjamin said this also led the news media and government officials to treat violence like the Nice attack differently from other mass attacks, like shootings at schools and churches that have been carried out by non-Muslims.

“If there is a mass killing and there is a Muslim involved, all of a sudden it is by definition terrorism,” he said

— and this has impacts far beyond the horrific crimes themselves.

For instance, here’s one conclusion with significant foreign policy implications:

But terrorism experts caution that because the Islamic State seems to have broad appeal to the mentally unbalanced, the displaced and others on the fringes of society, there are limits to how much any military campaign in Syria and Iraq can reduce violence carried out in other countries on the group’s behalf.

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As Will McCants puts it in a Time piece titled The Difference Between ISIS and ISIS-ish:

The pattern is tragically familiar: a troubled youth with a criminal past attacks in the name of ISIS. Charlie Hebdo, Orlando, San Bernardino and perhaps now Nice. They are not ISIS, exactly, but ISISish men and women who have no organizational ties to ISIS but murder in its name.

And Heraclitus:

No man ever steps in the same river twice.

Soundbites and hasty headlines don’t chew what they bite. Each case is its own case — sui generis. Classical philosophy used to posit four types of cause: formal and material, efficient and final. In terms of acts of sudden violence, we may want to consider a variety of contextual influences, subconscious drives (James Gilligan‘s work on violnce and shame is deeply relevant here), overt signalling by perps including claims of bayat, methods employed and their history in previous actions and inspoirational or technical literature, and post-action claims by known terrorist groups

Life does not pretend to be simple. Convenience is no substitute for careful analysis.

Meanwhile, back in Nice..

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — from blessed peace to brutal war ]
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Yesterday:

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Today:

Or as they say on Twitter, #FridayFollow Rukmini Callimachi.

Who am I? I am my motto!

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a curious similarity between the courtroom appearances of the Orlando and Jo Cox killers ]
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The Orlando killer’s court appearance is featured in the upper panel below, the appearance of Jo Cox MP’s killer in the lower panel:

I am my motto DQ

Sources:

  • WSVN, Orlando shooter’s partial 911 transcript
  • Reuters, Jo Cox murder suspect says name
  • **

    It is generally true that one’s name stands for one’s entire identity — which in my own case would include my personalities as a father, friend, poet, blogger, game designer, analyst of apocalyptic, lover of the beloved. To give an ideological response — a motto — repeatedly, when asked one’s name would indicate an uncanny degree of single-mindedness, of focus, of purpose.

    Scott Atran‘s work, eg his paper, Devoted actors sacrifice for close comrades and sacred cause, would be of interest here:

    Studies across cultures suggest that the strongest forms of primary group identity are bounded by sacred values, often in the form of religious beliefs or transcendental ideologies, which leads some groups to prevail because of nonrational commitment from at least some of its members to actions that drive success independent — or all out of proportion — from expected rational outcomes. For such “devoted actors,” rightness of in-group cause often leads to intractable conflicts with out-groups that become immune to the give-and-take common to “business-like” negotiations.

    Thus, our interviews with United States officials familiar with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (now self-proclaimed “Caliph” of the Islamic State) and his close circle, including General Douglas Stone, who commanded Camp Bucca where they were held, suggests absolutely committed “purists,” completely devoted to their idea of Sharia and the Caliphate, and willing to do anything for it, to use violence to instill blood lust among their followers and terror among enemies, who were no match for them. Unconditional commitment to comrades, in conjunction with their sacred cause, may be what allows low-power groups to endure and often prevail against materially stronger foes: since World War II, revolutionary and insurgent groups (e.g., the Islamic State) have beaten armies with up to an order-of-magnitude more firepower and manpower because of devotion to comrade and cause rather than typical reward structures, like pay and promotion (e.g., Iraq’s army).

    All of which ties in with what I was saying four days ago in Firefights, breath, & meditation about “tightly focused” vs “wide-angled” awareness.

    Echoing Ginsberg?

    Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — the Holland Tunnel arrest and the beat poet’s Howl — a note on semiotics ]
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    160621-holland-tunnel-truck-embed
    A Dodge SUV registered to Higher Ground Tactical sits in the Port Authority impound yard near the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City on June 21, 2016. Photo: Chad Rachman/New York Post

    The SUV is somewhat eye-catching, to be sure, and the photo presumably good for clicks — but is using the image also a sort of dog-whistle, for or against those who decorate such vehicles, train with such guns, etc? I certainly posted it here to add color to the page.. and to raise such questions.

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    So there was an arrest outside the Holland Tunnel, and reports variously claimed Group Caught With Weapons In Holland Tunnel Claimed To Be On Vigilante Mission and No link to terrorism is suspected, also Man Stopped in Gun-Laden Truck Was on ‘Mission to Help Other Families’ After Daughter’s Drug Death, Friend Says. Different strokes for different folks?

    Here’s a brief rundown:

    Heavily armed and angry about the heroin epidemic, the owner of an Upper Milford gun range who said he was on his way to rescue a teenage girl in New York City was stopped by police Tuesday at the Holland Tunnel.

    John Cramsey, 50, of Zionsville was one of three people in a truck decorated with anti-drug dealer and pro-gun logos and banners from his business, Higher Ground Tactical.

    Around 7:40 a.m., Port Authority police stopped Cramsey’s truck on the New Jersey side of the tunnel after spotting a cracked windshield.

    Police found weapons in the vehicle — five pistols, an AR-15 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun — as well as marijuana and a marijuana pipe, according to a news release from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Authorities also found body armor and knives.

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    Here’s what caught my attention, and what it reminded me of:

    John Cramsey DQ Ginsberg Howl

    Ginsberg and an anti-drug crusader?

    These details are of interest to those who track and analyze “signs” — likewise the two place names, Emmaus and Zionsville, both of them Biblical, likewise the name Higher Ground Tactical, with “higher ground” having both metaphorical (moral) and military meanings — and likewise the vivid imagery of the SUV itself, with its decals & detailing.

    We speak with our gestures and the imagery we use, not just with the plain literal sense of our words.

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    DoubleQuote Sources:

  • The Morning Call, Emmaus area gun range owner stopped at Holland Tunnel
  • Allen Ginsberg, Howl
  • Guest Post: Why the United States cannot put Boots on the Ground to Fight ISIS

    Saturday, June 18th, 2016

    [Mark Safranski / “zen“]

    Today, I’m pleased to offer a guest post by LtCol. Bob Weimann, USMC (ret.) .  Weimann is the former Commanding Officer, Kilo Co., 3/1 and Weapons Company 3/1. He also served as a Marine Security Force Company commanding officer, an infantry battalion Operations Officer and the Executive Officer of 1/6 during Desert Storm. A frequent presenter at the Boyd & Beyond Conferences, Bob is on the Board of Directors of UAP (United American Patriots) and a contributing editor to www.defendourmarines.com . UAP is a non-profit charity that aids military service members to help defray expenses for an adequate and fair legal defense. See What UAP Believes here: http://www.unitedpatriots.org/ .

    Why the United States Cannot Put Boots on the Ground to Fight ISIS

    By Bob Weimann

    The expression “boots on the ground” has an extended military-jargon history…The term is used to convey the belief that military success can only be achieved through the direct physical presence of troops in a conflict area … The term is particularly applied currently (2010) to counter-insurgency operations.[1]

    The expression “boots on the ground” basically means we need to send in ground troops, grunts, warriors, dog-faces, jarheads, combatants…those shifty eyed fowl mouth two fisted go for broke Soldiers and Marines that close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver in order to kill the enemy. These are the folks that must place the front site of their rifle on an enemy and pull the trigger. These are warriors brave enough to step through the doorway of an enemy occupied house, detect and disarmed an IED, engage a treacherous enemy that does not take prisoners and an enemy that does not hesitate to torturer and murder innocents. Our warriors are the sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers, neighbors, and acquaintances from every community, town, city and state across this country and one of the greatest representative cross sections of patriotic American citizens in existence.

    Our warriors are a different generation but they possess the same spirt America’s warriors have establish and exhibited since the Revolutionary War. For over 240 years these folks have never let us down and have volunteer for the nasty, dirty, immoral, brutalizing effects of combat. You can say we lost in Viet Nam, Somali, Iraq and Afghanistan but the scary truth is we lost those wars strategically after we won them tactically. The unfortunate reality is that the strategic always trumps the tactical. Tactical is all about the troops; strategy is all about the generals.

    The other scary fact is that since 2003, we have seen an unprecedented number of courts martial that the media labels “war crimes” … more “war crime” legal cases since 2003 than in all the battle history of all the United States war’s combined. How can this be possible when we have fielded to today’s battles the best trained, best equipped, smartest warriors in this country’s history?

    The issue is not the troops, the issue here is the senior military leadership, the general officers that have forgotten they are warriors and exhibit the traits and leadership characteristics of politicians. Today’s general officers understand careerism but do not understand the Laws of War that should be their stock and trade.  They hid behind lawyers and Rule of Law equivocations that cannot co-exist on a battlefield.

    For this reason, we cannot put combat boots on the ground because the troops are being used as political cannon fodder. Over and over again we see American combatants thrown under the bus for the sake of justifying a policy objective of executing a bad military strategy.  Names like Lt Ilario Pantano, Sgt Larry Hutchins, SSgt Frank Wuterich, Sgt Michael Williams, Sgt Jose Nazario, 1Sgt John Hatley, Sgt Derrick Miller, Capt Roger Hill, Lt Michael Behenna, Major Fred Galvin, Major Matt Goldsteyn, PFC Corey Clayett, GySgt Timothy Hogan, SPC Franklin Dunn, SSgt Osee Fagan, SPC Michael Wagnon, and Lt Clint Lorance are the more notable cases. You can be certain that the list will continue to grow not only with the recent Afghanistan Kunduz Hospital Airstrike[2] but also any combat actions against the terrorist in Iraq and Syria.

    Military campaigns are always based on a “kill or capture” strategy, however, our leadership does not believe in a kill strategy nor do they believe in a capture strategy. Our military leadership believes that our Soldiers and Marines are in combat to die for the “greater good”.[3] Instead of capture, we have a “catch and release” program that continually frees known enemy combatants and terrorist to again kill, not only our service members, but also civilians. “Catch and release” is nothing more than a treachery award program for the enemy. Our generals believe that our combatants have no right to self-defense on the battlefield.[4] The idea that our warriors are there to make the enemy die for their cause is a lost priority in our general officer’s politically correct minds.

    We cannot put boots on the ground because our generals do not trust our Soldiers and Marines to show the initiative necessary for successful combat operations. The generals have forgotten how to fight and win. They have forgotten how to support our warriors by setting the correct strategic policies to allow them to fight. We no longer have combat commanders. The Washington DC political cronies continue to dedicate failed policies that undermine and kill our warriors in order to acquire political curry and favoritism.

    War is not a moral exercise. There is no morality that can justify the slaughter of war. War is the ultimate competition that is won by killing the bad guys and bringing our warriors home alive. Collateral damage is an unescapable reality. Yes, collateral damage considerations are important but collateral damage must be weighed against military necessity. The Laws of War principle of military necessity allows for a rigorous war; a rigorous war is a short war; and a short war minimizes civilian casualties. Mixed into military necessity is the idea that field commanders have a responsibility to bring home alive as many of our warriors as possible. Sending them to Leavenworth is not part of the “bringing them home” equation.

     

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boots_on_the_Ground

    [2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunduz_hospital_airstrike

    [3] http://www.wnd.com/2012/03/sacrifice-marines-for-the-greater-good/

    [4] http://newsok.com/article/3690397


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