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Double & SingleQuoting Syria

Friday, April 7th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — who like Ryan Evans has more questions than answers ]
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This, for the use of the DoubleQuotes format:

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Okay, undeclared warfare has clearly been declared, if it hadn’t been already: maybe someone should tell Congress —

In the meantime, consider:

together with:

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Reaction from the furthest right in two tweets:

together with:

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And just for the sheer fun of it — no DoubleQuote here!

Rwanda cognition – and a *key* question

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron –the key question arises from the final quote ]
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[source page unavailable ]

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Mark Gilchrist, the Australian serving officer who brought us Why Thucydides Still Matters, has a new post — the first of three — up at Strategy Bridge in which he explores The Twilight Between Knowing and Not Knowing — an appropriately liminal title — specifically, the difficulties involved in recognizing genocide. It’s a fascinating if harrowing article, and I’m going to cherry-pick some quotes for your attention..

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the world’s diplomats were accustomed to dealing with wars – they were not, and did not try to become, accustomed to the requirements of dealing with genocide.

So, between politics and (its continuation) war, at least ne liminal condiciton: genocide.

You’ve got to sow the seeds of hysteria in the population, and that takes time…

How far back can we date the current wave of hysteria in the population — from a liberal and from a conservative perspective, or other?

Dallaire deployed without knowledge of the history and culture of Rwanda or relevant intelligence about the stakeholders, agendas or general situation on the ground. This inhibited his ability to understand the massacres that occurred

Ooh, anthropology, and — dare we say it — (dark) religion.

it failed to recognise the importance of the rise in anti-Tutsi rhetoric in the Rwandan media, which was instrumental in furthering the extremists’ genocidal aims through the psychological preparation of the Hutu population.

Are we monitoring the rise of anti-x rhetoric (foreign and domestic)? How’s it going?

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Here’s the stunning cognitive takeaway!!

The scale of the barbarity was almost incomprehensible to Western observers – UNAMIR troops included – which resulted in eyewitnesses often finding themselves in denial about what was unfolding around them. The troops made themselves believe that high-pitched screams were gusts of wind, that the rabid packs of dogs were feeding on animal remains and not human carcasses, that the smells enveloping them emanated from spoiled food and not decomposing bodies. Barnett argues that this fantasy is reminiscent of Primo Levi’s observation about the Holocaust that ‘things whose existence is not morally comprehensible cannot exist.’ This is particularly so for Western troops who are trained to think and act within the bounds of a moral and ethical behavioural framework that can obscure their ability to recognise the evil that others may be capable of.

Blindness, denial. The grand question raised by this article and by the Rwandan experience goes way beyon Rwanda to our cognitive incapacities and their potentially disastrous repercussions in general.

No worries, ma — it’s only a gust of wind.

Talmud for today?

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — two brief surface readings in Talmud, with a request for deeper understanding ]
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As someone brought up with more of a focus on the Beatitudes than the Torah (I know, a huge question with many potential shades of answer opens up when I say that), I was not familiar with this Talmudic aphorism until the drone strikes that killed Anwar al-Awlaki and shortly thereafter his son Abdulrahman brought it to my attention:

Ha-Ba le-Horgekha Hashkem le-Horgo is a teaching of increasing popularity among Israelis. Taken from the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 72:1, its most precise translation is: ‘If someone comes to kill you, get up early to kill him first.’

I imagine it also has relevance to the (presumed) Israeli targeted killing of (eg) Imad Mughniyah..

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Yesterday I came across a second such Talmudic phrase, based on Genesis 50:

The sages derived a principle from this text. Mutar le-shanot mipnei ha-shalom: “It is permitted to tell an untruth (literally, “to change” the facts) for the sake of peace.” A white lie is permitted in Jewish law.

This aphorism may be of interest to bear in mind in the context of Israeli peace negotiations — but more directly (and literally) “it is permitted to change the facts” carries a sidelong resemblance to the concepts of alt-facts & faux news currently infesting our politicians and media…

Sources:

  • Jewish Quarterly, Kill him first
  • Rabbi Sacks, When is it Permitted to Tell a Lie?
  • ^^

    Knowing the Talmud to be deeper and richer than my own understanding by many orders of magnitude, I’d like to invite commentary on these or other aspects of Talmudic thought that may play, directly or indirectly, into national security issues.

    Atwell Zoll?

    Thursday, July 28th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — query re his quote on an American dictatorship ]
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    Can anyone give me a source for this quote from Donald Atwell Zoll?

    One of the reasons why many Americans do not fear a domestic dictatorship is that they assume dictatorship would take some exotic form similar to those they have observed in Germany, Japan, or Russia, and they cannot imagine such conditions as an indigenous set of arrangements and customs. An American dictatorship would be no more like Nazi Germany in style than it would resemble the Zulu empire of Chaka — it would be dictatorship American plan, complete with George Washington, Valley Forge, the Stars and Stripes, the “home of the brave,” the World Series, Captain Kangaroo, and Mother’s insipid apple pie. It would appear to be the apotheosis of democracy — and, of course, in a sense, it would be.

    Old Hat — I was on my way to DoubleQuote Trump & Clinton

    Thursday, July 14th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — folks you might not entrust with your secrets ]
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    I was on my way to DoubleQuote two Presidential candidates that some people wouldn’t want to entrust with secret briefings from the Intelligence Community — Trump & Clinton — citing Shane HarrisSpies Worry Candidate Trump Will Spill Secrets piece from The Beast and Brent Scher‘s Former White House Counsel: Hillary Clinton Should Not Get Intelligence Briefings at the Washington Free Beacon — old stories, both of them, but they just now clicked together for me —

    But why worry, when Kristina Wong at The Hill has done it for me?

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    Trump Clinton and IC briefings

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    This is all old hat, of course — Wong’s piece was posted more than a month ago — but still, as she said..

    Some U.S. intelligence officials are worried about providing a routine intelligence briefing to Donald Trump once he becomes the official Republican presidential nominee, according to a report.

    Eight senior security officials told Reuters they were concerned that Trump’s “shoot from the hip” style could pose national security risks, as they prepare to give him a routine pre-election briefing for presidential nominees.

    They also cited his lack of foreign policy experience, and his little known team of foreign policy advisers.
    “People are very nervous,” one senior U.S. security official said.

    However, the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss a political domestic issue, said they would not deviate from the usual “Top Secret” briefing format, to avoid any appearance of bias.

    Current and formal officials also expressed concern over briefing Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, according to Reuters.

    They cited the scandal over her use of emails when she was secretary of State and her handling of sensitive information. She is currently facing an FBI probe over whether she compromised security and broke laws over her use of a private email server for government work at State.

    “The only candidate who has proven incapable of handling sensitive information is Hillary Clinton,” Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, told Reuters. “If there is anyone they should be worried about it is Hillary Clinton.”

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    And all of this brings me to my Totally Impractical Question — which if anything gets more interesting as the weeks go by:

    If someone has loose enough lips — or email servers — to be unworthy to receive Top Secret briefings as a candidate, do they really suddenly get a whole lot more reliable, once they’re elected?


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