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Target: innocence

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — the DoubleQuote as déjà vu, and as moral contrast and comparison ]

The targeting of innocence seems particularly reprehensible —

SPEC DQ format

but in this instance, the Islamic State is only following in the footsteps of the Soviets in Afghanistan.


Perhaps someone can help me understand whether training young boys to kill

SPEC DQ killer or killed

or killing children — is the more heinous crime.

Or sin?



  • Armament Research Services, Islamic State employs improvised explosive devices
  • Christian Science Monitor, The Afghan child and the bright red plastic truck

  • Daily Mail, ISIS release shocking new video of child soldiers from Kazakhstan
  • We Write What We Like, Defying the media lies about Syria – finding truth
  • KILO TWO BRAVO – The Teaser Post

    Saturday, October 31st, 2015

    [by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. “zen“]

    Friend of ZP, Kanani Fong sent me early access to watch and review Kilo Two Bravo, due to be released November 13th. It is the true story of a platoon of British paratroopers who are caught in a minefield by the Kajaki Dam in Afghanistan’s deadly Helmand Valley. As I have just finished a monumental, six month long, project from Hell, this weekend seems to be a timely moment to settle down and watch. Looks intense. Review pending.


    The Ideal and the Real? Or: Doctors got there first

    Sunday, October 11th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — together with a hypothesis about sanctity and insanity ]

    SPEC Ideal and Real

    Either way, I don’t really find the idea of attacking hospitals appealing.



  • Alex Tabarrok, The Atlantic, The Case for Getting Rid of Borders — Completely
  • Tim Craig et al, Washington Post, By evening, a hospital. By morning, a war zone

  • Médecins Sans Frontières
  • Hypothesis:

    When the pent up energy of the ideal releases into the real, the impact is somewhat analogous to that of thunder and lightning: the shock-wave gets the human conductor of the discharge labelled “insane” while the flash of illumination gets the same person acclaimed as “a saint”.

    One significant differences is that here the shock-wave almost always precedes the flash of light — which can take quite a while to become generally visible..

    Eternal recurrence

    Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — from the Iliad via hadith to Afghanistan, 2011 ]

    Daniel Mendelsohn, Battle Lines: A slimmer, faster Iliad, in The New Yorker:

    The August 22nd issue of Time featured, on its “Briefing” page, a quote from a grieving mother about her dead son. The mother’s name is Jan Brown, and her son, Kevin Houston, a Navy SEAL, was one of thirty-seven soldiers killed in a rocket attack in Afghanistan this past summer. What she said about him might shock some people, but will sound oddly familiar to anyone who has read the Iliad:

    “He was born to do this job. If he could do it all over again and have a choice to have it happen the way it did or work at McDonald’s and live to be 104? He’d do it all over again.”

    The Prophet, on the authority of Masruq, in Sahih Muslim, 4651:

    The souls of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds who have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. Once their Lord cast a glance at them and said: Do ye want anything? They said: What more shall we desire? We eat the fruit of Paradise from wherever we like. Their Lord asked them the same question thrice. When they saw that they will continue to be asked and not left (without answering the question). they said: O Lord, we wish that Thou mayest return our souls to our bodies so that we may be slain in Thy way once again.


    We sometimes think of the jihadist would-be martyr as motivated by the belief that paradisal life after death trumps this life and its shallow attractions. If the parallels I am seeing here between the theology of martyrdom in Islam, the heroism of the Iliad, and that of the Navy SEAL in Afghanistan do in fact represent a deeper current common to all three, it may be that we should also look at the reverse premise: that even the delights of paradise may be trumped by the exhilaration of battle in a righteous cause.

    An ill-favoured thought — one quite possibly ill-favoured enough to be labeled “counter-intuitive” — but mine own.

    Official policy targeting weddings?

    Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — as if in brutal proof that “the bed waiting inside belongs to death” — that bridal and burial veils are one ]

    Does the Coalition have an official policy targeting weddings?

    Sorry to be so blunt about this, but I get déjà vu these days when I read about Coalition attacks on wedding parties.


    Today, for instance, WaPo has this headline:


    I believe that headline is only in white on a black background because that’s the “style” for WaPo’s “video channel” pages — but it’s suitable, really, eh? Funereal?

    Lest we forget, let’s see, now, Wikipedia has entries for:

  • Deh Bala wedding party airstrike of July 6, 2008
  • Wech Baghtu wedding party airstrike of November 3, 2008
  • **

    Then there’s December 12, 2013, reported by the admirable Greg Johnsen:

    Greg Johnsen

    If I’m not mistaken, that was also the occasion of these two headlines from Conor Friedsdorf:

    Friedsdorf 02

    Friedsdorf 01

    Stunning, those headlines. Of course there may have been other funereal weddings that I’ve missed.


    Oh, and there’s always the money to consider:

    more than $1 million


    Headline sources:

  • Air strike on Yemen wedding kills
  • Sorry our drones hit your wedding party
  • If a drone strike hit an American wedding
  • The Wedding That a U.S. Drone Strike Turned Into a Funeral
  • Yemeni victims of U.S. military drone strike
  • Gregory Johnsen’s piece is beautifully written as always. Conor Friedsdorf’s title alone — The Wedding That a U.S. Drone Strike Turned Into a Funeral — deserves high praise.


    Déjà vu? If these things keep on happening, I’ll have to call them flashbacks.

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