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Unequal equations

Friday, January 18th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — math, modeling and mapping, in that strange zone where beauty meets understanding ]
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The upper equation — Euler‘s — gets as tight and definitional as one can get, yet is profound in the way the greatest haiku are… while the metaphorical “equation” mentioned in the lower panel is a very rough model indeed of the intricate and constantly shifting forces at work in and on Pakistan.

**

I’m interested in mapping these sorts of influences at a level of detail that the human mind can assimilate and comprehend — and the graphical news-map in the video below will give you an idea of what one approach to such a mapping would look like.

This particular example is drawn from a mapping of web-based news items related to President Obama over the course of 2009, but it should give you some idea of the constant flux of tensions and motion of “nodes” involved in tracking political issues, at home or abroad — the beginning is a bit slow, but from about the 23 second mark on is just amazing:

Now is that art, or technology — or a beginning of something fascinating that by its very nature melds both?

**

Sources:

  • FB Ali, Interesting times in Pakistan on Sic Semper Tyrannis
  • Recorded Future Index video

  • Bouleversé by forgiveness

    Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — not just “thinking outside the box” — how about upending the whole thing and seeing what shakes out? ]
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    FWIW, this isn't the world, nor is it upside down -- it's just a rather different map, eh?

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    A celebrated stanza by the Indian poet-saint Kabir — beloved of both Hindus and Muslims — asks:

    Is there any guru in the world wise enough
    to understand the upside-down Veda?

    There’s a style of poetry used by Kabir and others to describe experience of the divine called “ulatbamsi” or the “upside down language” — and Linda Hess, Kabir’s great translator, writes of it as a language “of paradoxes and enigmas” — not too dissimilar, perhaps, to the koans or meditation paradoxes often encountered in zen training.

    **

    Boom! The French have the word “bouleversé” to cover the way we feel when suddenly our whole world seems turned upside down.

    Maybe it’s a modern idea? Bob Dylan, I’m delighted to say, no longer belongs to Robert Zimmerman except for purposes of copyright — his songs have entered the cultural bloodstream. Here’s his version:

    The battle outside ragin’
    Will soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’

    The world often seems upside down, our values are often quite the reverse of what they might be if we had the kind of clarity that is implied in Samuel Johnson‘s celebrated quote:

    Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

    And then there are those great ones for whom our world is manifestly unjust, manifestly topsy-turvy — or “through the looking-glass”, if you prefer.

    I mean, what else can being “in the world, but not of it” be all about, if it’s not about a major shift in perspective?

    **

    I’m writing about this at such length because I just read one of those paragraphs that turns my own world upside down. It came in the middle of a long piece on “restorative justice” and it focuses on the power of forgiveness.

    This particular paragraph describes how an Indian-American woman, Sujatha Baliga, came to see the unexpected power of forgiveness, and for her it occurred in a Buddhist context — but the power itself is beyond the boundaries of specific religions:

    Baliga had been in therapy in New York, but while in India she had what she calls “a total breakdown.” She remembers thinking, Oh, my God, I’ve got to fix myself before I start law school. She decided to take a train to Dharamsala, the Himalayan city that is home to a large Tibetan exile community. There she heard Tibetans recount “horrific stories of losing their loved ones as they were trying to escape the invading Chinese Army,” she told me. “Women getting raped, children made to kill their parents — unbelievably awful stuff. And I would ask them, ‘How are you even standing, let alone smiling?’ And everybody would say, ‘Forgiveness.’ And they’re like, ‘What are you so angry about?’ And I told them, and they’d say, ‘That’s actually pretty crazy.’ ”

    **

    I like the dark blue “sky” and the “clouds” at the top of the map I began this post with — but then, I’m a mostly vertical human who seldom stands on his head, so it looks “natural” to me. But that’s simply a matter of my point of view.

    I imagine maps like that one must please our friends “down under”.

    **

    A hat-tip to Hadar Aviram, whose California Corrections blog first pointed me to the article about Sujatha Baliga.

    Cross-grain thinking, 2: mapping the jihadist mind & AQ’s #3 spot

    Sunday, November 11th, 2012

    [ by Charles Cameron — the different types of “leaders” should give us an idea of the different mental operations in play in the individual minds of the led, as well as the “mind” of the organization — plus fun ]
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    credit for mind map aspect of composite image to valdis krebs

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    Okay, I made my basic point here quite nicely in that little tag-line that gives you the brief overview of each of my posts right next to my name, so I’ll just repeat it here, very slightly amplified for focus:

    The different types of “leaders” we identify in AQ should give us an idea of the different mental operations usually in play in the individual minds of jihadists, as well as within the “mind” of the organization itself.

    I tried to show how cross-grain thinking in general, and thinking that includes both “subjective” and “objective” realities specifically, might play a considerable role in understanding some pressing contemporary issues in my recent post on Mozart — a figure so removed from those problems that some of you may have skipped it. Here’s my ending, with the Mozart details safely removed:

    I think we should track that pattern, know as much as we can of that pattern, write the biography of the way in which some piece of music weaves between inspiration and thought, composer and instrument, mind and matter, performer and audience, studio and home digital music center…

    Then, perhaps, we could begin to map other patterns – in some ways simpler and more urgent ones.

    The sorts of “simpler and more urgent” patterns I was thinking of there include:

  • how discussions become deliberations and deliberations decisions
  • how scenarios are built and understood and sometimes poorly configured to our later detriment
  • how foreign policy plus feedback loops can create blowback and how to minimize it..

  • and specifically,

  • how the “jihadist” radicalization process moves from floating frustration and shame, via identification of a plausible “other” to rage against, to commitment, then via theology (!!) (for divine sanction of otherwise unpalatable acts) to the recognition of a binding moral obligation (fard ‘ayn in AQ terms) — and thence to camps for training in weaponry and the requirements and subtle limitations on Quranically sanctioned war…

  • **

    That last one has been an interest of mine, sitting in the back of my mind as an unanswered problem, quietly gathering data and forming insights for a while now, under a rubric along the lines of the question:

    Can we figure out a rough map of the workings of the “typical” mind of a potential jihadist as it radicalizes?

    It occurs to me that the leadership of an organization likely maps well to the organization’s functions, and those functions to the thought processes in which members are involved so a map of the aspects of leadership may well give us a rough draft of a mind-map for the individual member, including the passage from uninvolved observer to active participant: the process of radicalization.

    This may seem pretty obvious to some of you, but it’s a fresh idea for me, and to me it’s important because we already map communications networks and organizational flows, but the mind — the individual mind is one place we don’t seem to go.

    So I’m thinking in terms of sketching the mind of a “person” who is in some ways AQ as a whole, considered as if it were one sensate human-like being, filled with the usual variety of thoughts and emotions, ideals and pragmatisms, hopes and fears, hunches and hard data, clarities and confusions.. And I’m thinking of doing this by treating “leaders” as though they were distinct but coordinated processes in a single mind.

    We track and map people and their connections, we track and map groups and their connections, we track and map communications and their connections — are we tracking and mapping memes as such? ideas and their connections? minds?

    If we are already tracking ideas and minds — or if we aren’t doing that yet, but could — I’d be on the lookout for possible positive and negative feedback loops within the system, some that enhance the overall operation and could be disrupted, and some that fragment and damage it and could be amplified.

    So that, among other things, God willing, we could learn better ways to dampen some of the oscillations of hate…

    **

    I was looking at a comment in the recent ICSR report, Al-Qaeda at the Crossroads [h/t @azelin], and ran across this quote which struck me from an oblique angle:

    About ten core leaders have been subsequently killed, including Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, Samir Khan, Anwar al-Awlaki, and Abu Yahya al-Libi.

    Let’s take a look at these folk: Atiyah Abd al-Rahman was reported via Bill Roggio at Long War Journal as al Qaeda’s “operations chief” and a major planning a major attack on the US for the tenth anniverary of 9/11, as AQ’s “general manager” and bin Laden‘s “chief of staff”. Abu Hafs al-Shahri was another “operations chief”. Samir Khan was a publicist, the editor of the English-language magazine Inspire. Anwar al-Awlaki was a minor theologian with a talent for publicity and a decent understanding of his American audience…

    And as for Abu Yahya al-Libi, here’s an excerpt from an NYT piece about him:”I call him a man for all seasons for A.Q.,” said Jarret Brachman, a former analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency who is now research director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. “He’s a warrior. He’s a poet. He’s a scholar. He’s a pundit. He’s a military commander. And he’s a very charismatic, young, brash rising star within A.Q., and I think he has become the heir apparent to Osama bin Laden in terms of taking over the entire global jihadist movement.”

    On that telling, al-Libi alone would be almost enough for my purposes — but let’s go with the whole list. The AQ mindset involves courage, poetry, scholarship, punditry and command and control. Specify that the scholarship needs to include theology (AQ at one point sent al-Libi to Mauretania for advanced Islamic studies) as well as strategy and guerrilla warfare (think Abu Mus’ab al-Suri, who was well-read in Taber’s The War of the Flea, Chairman Mao, Che Guevara, and Vo Nguyen Giap), and the significant influences on the jihadist mind begin to swim into focus.

    **

    See, I’m nudging my way to something fairly close to the Lincoln mention in Fred Kaplan‘s Slate piece about Petraeus the other day:

    Toward the end of the war, as the senior planning aide to Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Marshall, Lincoln realized that the Army needed to breed a new type of officer to help the nation meet its new global responsibilities in the postwar era. This new officer, he wrote to a colleague, should have “at least three heads—one political, one economic, and one military.” He took a demotion, from brigadier general to colonel, so he could return to West Point and create a curriculum “to improve the so-called Army mind” in just this way: a social science department, encouraging critical thinking, even occasionally dissent.

    How would we map these mental processes? How would we map the jihadist’s equivalent?

    **

    While I was fishing around for AQ leadership lists in search of an education, I ran across Robert Mackey‘s amusing piece on his NYT blog back in 2010, titled Eliminating Al Qaeda’s No. 3, Again, in which he mentioned as killed or captured claimants to the #3 spot Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, described as “a top financial chief for Al Qaeda” and quotes a colleague as saying “many of Mr. Yazid’s predecessors in Al Qaeda’s No. 3 slot” – from the Bush years alone, he lists Abu Zubaydah, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Abu Faraj al-Libbi, Hamza Rabia and Saif al-Adel.

    Okay, we should definitely add “financial chief” to my list above.

    The humorist and the artist in me often lead the more serious analyst in me to insights I’d not otherwise have access to, and since I’m worrying away at the notion that analysis needs to feature both “interior” (mind, heart) and “external” (world) realities, I keep the artistry and humor in my analyses, and hope that makes them more rather than less accessible — so let’s run with the AQ#3 nonsense for a bit.

    Mackey’s is a slightly tongue in cheek treatment of a reasonably serious topic. On Twitter the humor gets more incisive, with Andy Borowitz claiming 9,000 AQ#3s have been killed, and AQ#3 in person setting up a twitter account and tweeting merrily away for a while, see the two sample tweets in this SPECS graphic:

    My sources for those two tweets were Bupbin and AlQaedaNumber3.

    To be honest, I find the AQ#3 business both irritating — since it shows how little depth our popular understanding of who we’re dealing with really has — and amusing — because it’s so very ripe for satire…

    **

    I’ve been working at this post so long I’m mentally cross-eyed, so feel free to fill me in or chew me out…

    Cross-grain thinking, 1: Mozart and how music reaches us

    Thursday, November 1st, 2012

    [ by Charles Cameron — tracking a single pattern back and forth across the Cartesian divide between “inner” (subjective) and “outer” (objective) realities, and why ]
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    From God’s lips, figuratively speaking — via Mozart‘s mind and hand onto paper and out to musicians’ eyes and into their minds, then back out through their lips and hands and instruments and air — to your ears, and beyond? One pattern across a variety media.

    We study Mozart’s biography. We study the “chunking” techniques a pianist typically uses to become proficient. My friend Wm. Benzon writes about how the brain’s oscillatory circuits can be internally synchronized through sonic activity and much more. We study how musical tastes correlate with education, or wealth, or class. What we don’t study nearly so intently, it seems to me, is the entire sequence by which a musical pattern makes its way from a composer’s initial thought to a listener’s delighted experience.

    And what makes me want to talk about that is my sense that it requires thinking across the grain — across disciplines, across silos, across assumptions and languages and expectations.

    It helps that I love Mozart. And I’m interested in the way patterns work. And perhaps most significantly, I believe that analytic mapping that doesn’t concern itself with both “inward” subjective experience, thought and emotions as well as “outer” realities, people, processes, and so forth will have us firing on only 50% of our cylinders at best. As I said in an earlier post on Anders Breivik:

    A lot of our maps and models move between one quantity and another, and a lot of our thinking, correspondingly, has to do with materiel rather than morale — but nowhere is there a map or model of how quantity and quality affect each other, or how morale “force multiplies” materiel — even though “real life” moves seamlessly between (subjective, qualitative) mind and (objective, quantifiable) brain.

    We have no map to walk us through the hard problem in consciousness — except our own insight.

    And x-rays do not an insight make.

    Let’s simply call this an early attempt to think about a stretch of the border between subjective and objective worlds, taking Mozart — a reasonably innocuous subject compared with Breivik — to start with.

    **

    There’s a phrase of music in Mozart’s head: it is a pattern – we shall see it later as a pattern in ink on paper, a pattern in keys depressed on a keyboard, on strings struck and vibrating, as a pattern in acoustic waves in air and a pattern of impacts on the ear drum, then of electrochemical activity in the brain, of “Mozart” in the mind – and perhaps in a tapping of the feet on the floor, and from thence, onwards…

    Perhaps Mozart got it, this pattern, consciously or unconsciously, from the starling he wrote a poem to, and gave a burial to when it died [1, 2] … No doubt something of that pattern would have been in the starling’s brain as its throat muscles moved, and in the air that moved and he sang…

    **

    Something goes on with this pattern “inside” Mozart, and he composes, which is itself a hugely complex business involving various parts of his brain — and mind? Just brain, or brain and mind, or mind-brain? That’s the “hard question in consciousness” right there, and it applies as much to the starling, and the eventual listener, as it does to Mozart…

    That “something” going on inside him has been variously described, in any case, and the historian William Stafford has written an enlightening piece comparing the myth of Mozart’s genius (Mozart himself used the term a couple of times in the classic sense of an intuitive guide, much as Socrates too would use the term) with the practicalities of musical skill and concentration.

    **

    Thus there is undoubtedly a romantic “Mozart the genius” slant to the account given by Mozart’s earliest biographer who, working with Mozart’s widow, described his process of composition in these terms:

    Mozart wrote everything with a facility and rapidity, which perhaps at first sight could appear as carelessness or haste; and while writing he never came to the klavier. His imagination presented the whole work, when it came to him, clearly and vividly.

    This idea is even more vividly expressed in the letter, purported to be Mozart’s own words but now widely considered a later effort by the publicist Friedrich Rochlitz and “attributed” to Mozart himself in the spirit of the times:

    When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer — say, travelling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not; nor can I force them. Those ideas that please me I retain in memory, and am accustomed, as I have been told, to hum them to myself. If I continue in this way, it soon occurs to me how I may turn this or that morsel to account, so as to make a good dish of it, that is to say, agreeably to the rules of counterpoint, to the peculiarities of the various instruments, etc.

    All this fires my soul, and, provided I am not disturbed, my subject enlarges itself, becomes methodised and defined, and the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statue, at a glance. Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, but I hear them, as it were, all at once (gleich alles zusammen). What a delight this is I cannot tell! All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing lively dream. Still the actual hearing of the tout ensemble is after all the best. What has been thus produced I do not easily forget, and this is perhaps the best gift I have my Divine Maker to thank for.

    When I proceed to write down my ideas, I take out of the bag of my memory, if I may use that phrase, what has been previously collected into it in the way I have mentioned. For this reason the committing to paper is done quickly enough, for everything is, as I said before, already finished; and it rarely differs on paper from what it was in my imagination…

    **

    In start contrast to this romantic picture, Stafford himself writes in his paper Mozart and Genius, and more briefly in his essay in the Cambridge Mozart Encyclopedia:

    We must suspect a large element of myth-making in all of this, a construction of Mozart and his life in accordance with preconceived ideas.

    and:

    The real Mozart expressed pride in his craft, in the compositional skills he had learned from other musicians and taken to a high level. Much recent scholarship has emphasized the relationship of his creativity to his social milieu. In place of an unreflective genius who composed in a dream, it has given us, as in Konrad Kuster’s recent biography, a musician of the highest technical competence for whom composition presented a series of intellectual and aesthetic challenges that could only be surmounted with considerable effort.

    **

    I suspect that Stafford, too, is giving us his “construction of Mozart and his life in accordance with preconceived ideas”.

    To my mind, it’s just that our own contemporary preconceptions have shifted the emphasis from the “inspiration” to the “perspiration” factor in understanding great works and the exceptional minds and mind-sets that produce them. In my view, both accounts have something to offer us – that what we retrospectively term “genius” happens when a prepared mind (meaning Stafford’s “compositional skills” and so forth) lets go of its controlling urgency, and a deeper, richer mind emerges — an emergence which takes places classically in reverie (Gaston Bachelard) or after some similar disengagement of the active will, from whence we get the phrase “let me sleep on it” in response to the posing of a tricky problem or dilemma

    **

    But the pattern.

    No doubt there are a thousand ways in which Mozart differs from Beethoven, Beethoven from El Greco, El Greco from Einstein, Wittengenstein from Heraclitus, and Heraclitus from the Heraclitus who stepped into “the same river” a while ago…

    What seems to be more stable is the pattern that Mozart wove, as it traveled from the throat of his starling through the intricacies of his own knowledge and practices, his friendships and tastes, his needs and longings and out onto paper, to a pianist or orchestra, and through instruments and voices into concert halls and magnetic wave forms and curious spirals engraved on discs, into sub-woofers and tweeters and full-range drivers..

    And into our minds and hearts, our memories – our quiet hummings to ourselves on long autumn drives between motels.

    **

    I think we should track that pattern, know as much as we can of that pattern, write the biography of the way in which some piece of music weaves between inspiration and thought, composer and instrument, mind and matter, performer and audience, studio and home digital music center…

    Then, perhaps, we could begin to map other patterns – in some ways simpler and more urgent ones.

    Coming up shortly: Cross-grain thinking, 2: AQ’s #3 spot and mapping the jihadist mind. One thing you can be sure of: it will be different.

    An army in Sham, an army in Yemen, and an army in Iraq

    Thursday, November 1st, 2012

    [ by Charles Cameron – uh-oh, it’s Mahdi time again.. giving a little wide-angle context, then passing along a hadith of possible current interest — also an aside about an end-times Shiite trinity ]
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    a ShiaChat map of one end times scenario: the Sufyani will attack Iran, black banners come from Khorasan

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    We live, as everyone pretty much agrees, in some place called “here” (although that shifts) at a particular moment called “now” (although that shifts too) in a medium often called “spacetime” in honor of Albert Einstein.

    The Game-changing Coming Ones of many religions and sects – and even their secular variants, the Game-changing Coming Ideologies and Leaders) – are situated in another area of the same “spacetime” continuum for their respective believers: next up after “wars and rumors of wars” or “come the revolution” or “when the Mayan Calendar runs out” or “next year in Jerusalem”…
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    When:

    My old friend Stephen O’Leary suggests there’s a shifting “window of opportunity” for people who preach “soon comings” – if you warn people that the world will end in a couple of thousand years, or with the heat death of the sun, or even that sea levels are liable to rise precipitously over the next few decades unless remedial action is taken, the view is long-range enough to seriously diminish your impact. Conversely, if you announce the end of the world will occur three minutes from now, nobody has time to get scared or prepared – or to propagate your message.

    So “soon coming expectations” generally predict the coming is a little ways around the corner, close enough to matter but no close enough to sell all that you possess and climb Mt Ararat this week.
    .

    Where:

    The “where” is interesting, though. We have news cameras focused 24/7 on the Mount of Olives to catch the Second Coming of Christ, although most observant Jews won’t be expecting that Christianity will be finally vindicated as the true inheritor of Judaism’s mantle there any time soon, and many Muslims expect he’ll descend at one of the minarets of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.

    And the Mahdi? Two popular points of anticipated arrival are beside the Kaaba in Mecca, or out of the well behind the Jamkaran mosque, not too many miles from Qom.

    But Islamic apocalyptic geography doesn’t end with either place – it extends, minimally, from Khorasan (Iran or Afghanistan) to Jerusalem, with a possible side-expedition to India (the Ghazwa-eh-Hind) and with possible tributaries from Africa and who knows where else… and in at least some Shia strands of apocalyptic thinking, the city of Kufa in Iraq will be the Mahdi’s seat of government.
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    And now, the hadith:

    All this is simply to provide some context for a specific hadith that my friend Aaron Zelin pointed to me today, as recorded yesterday on the Kavkaz Center webpage:

    Hadith about Syria, Iraq and Yemen

    Publication time:
    30 October 2012, 14:58

    Sham – the territory of Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon

    Abdullah ibn Hawalah [Allah's blessings be on him] narrated from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that he said:

    "Matters will run their course until you become three armies: an army in Sham, an army in Yemen, and an army in Iraq".

    Ibn Hawalah said:

    "Choose for me, O Messenger of Allah! in case I live to see that day".

    The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

    "You should go to Sham, for it is the best of Allah's lands, and the best of His slaves will be drawn there!

    And if you refuse, then you should go to the Yemen and drink from its wells. For Allah has guaranteed me that He will look after Sham and its people!"

    (Imam Ahmad 4/110, Abu Dawud 2483. Authenticated by Imam Abu Hatim, Imam ad-Diya al-Maqdisi, Sheikh al-Albani and Sheikh Shu'aib Al-Arnaut).

    Department of Monitoring
    Kavkaz Center

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    Further reading:

    For more on this, see especially J-P Filiu‘s Apocalypse in Islam, noting in particular his account of “the revelation of Abu Musab al-Suri” (pp. 186-193), including specifically his discussion of “Sham” in a paragraph on p. 189.

    *****

    And an intriguing aside:

    And since were talking Yemen and the greater Sham here, it may be worth noting as an aside, the presence in Islamic apocalyptic traditions of a figure known as the Yemeni — sometimes identified in Iranian Shia apocalyptic as Hezbollah’s Hasan Nasrallah. Filiu writes (p.156) of:

    Shaykh Nazrallah’s transformation into the apocalyptic figure of the Yemeni, completing a very political trinity in which Ayatollah Khamenei served as the standard bearer of the Mahdi and Ahmadinejad as the commander of his armies.

    Filiu’s book was published in France in 2008, but the same trinity can also be found in the fairly recent video The Coming is Upon Us attributed by Reza Kahlili to circles around Ahmadinejad. I’ve taken this account of the video and the trinity as it reports it from the Counter Jihad Report, because their version succinctly draws together the strands that most concern me here:

    A little-noticed documentary titled “The Coming is Upon Us” was produced by Ahmadinejad’s office last year and it lays out the regime’s beliefs and planned path forward, much like Mein Kampf did. And it debunks the notion that the U.S.S.R. and the Iranian regime are equivalent. The film makes the case that the regime’s leaders are the incarnations of specific End Times figures foretold in Islamic eschatology.

    Iran is the “nation from the East” that paves the way for the Mahdi’s appearance. Supreme Leader Khamenei is Seyed Khorasani, “the preparer” who comes from Khorasan Province with a black flag and a distinct feature in his right hand. Khamenei’s right hand is paralyzed from an assassination attempt. Khorasani’s commander-in-chief is Shoeib-Ebne Saleh, who the film says is President Ahmadinejad. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah is the incarnation of Yamani, a commander with a Yemeni ancestry who leads the Mahdi’s army into Mecca.

    These three “preparers” wage war against the Antichrist and “the Imposters”-the U.S., Israel and the West’s Arab allies. The film also mentions that a figure named Sofiani will side with Islam’s enemies. Former Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer Reza Kahlili, who leaked the film, told me that the full-length version identifies him as Jordanian King Abdullah II.

    The film lists various End Times prophecies that have been fulfilled to argue that the Mahdi’s appearance is near. The 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran; the invasion of Iraq from the south and subsequent sectarian violence and death of Saddam Hussein; the Houthi rebellion in Yemen; the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the increasing amount of open homosexuality, cross-dressing, adultery and women taking off the hijab are correlated to specific Islamic prophecies.

    As to the video’s authenticity and provenance, I can only express my ignorance and keen interest — but whatever the case, it seems likely that the split between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, together with the latter’s “soon going” from office, renders that particular strain of prophecy moot.

    Particular prophetic timelines may fail, and indeed do so repeatedly — the apparatus of apocalyptic hope simply incorporates new figures and events into its calculations, and moves its sense of urgency a little further up along the timeline…


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