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Moral Degeneration in the Crucible of War

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

 

The recent post on Is 4GW Dead? stirred a great deal of interest, so I would like to extend the discussion on a point that that is critical not only for those who have responsibility for conducting military campaigns, but for statecraft and policy as well.

One of more important tenets of 4GW was the importance of “the moral level of war”, drawn from Colonel John Boyd’s thinking on the strategic impact of a combatant’s behavior, immoral  or exemplary, on all observers – belligerents, civilian noncombatants, neutral third parties, the media, the combatant’s own soldiers and citizens back home. Here is Boyd:

Morally our adversaries isolate themselves when they visibly improve their well being to the detriment of others (allies, the uncommitted), by violating codes of conduct or behavior patterns that they profess to uphold or others expect them to uphold.

· Morally we interact with others by avoiding mismatches between what we say we are what we are and the world we have to deal with, as well as by abiding by those other cultural codes or standards we are expected to uphold.

In a Reader’s Digest version of Boyd,  heroic, noble and magnanimous  behavior is admirable and attractive while hypocrisy, cruelty and cowardice are repulsive and antagonizing characteristics. While the former won’t guarantee your victory and the latter, unfortunately, won’t ensure your defeat, they will be a significant factor in ameliorating or generating friction.  The impression given by an army impacts the will of the enemy to fight, the morale and discipline of the soldiers, the restiveness of the civilians, the loyalty of allies and the goodwill of neighbors.

Boyd developed his thinking about the moral level of war in Patterns of Conflict  all the way up to grand strategy and above. The rub about the moral level  is that war is a crucible that puts every “cultural code” or “standard” to the test, as well as the character of the men fighting it and their leaders upon whom great responsibility rests.  Even with the best of intentions in policy and careful generalship in the field, the horrors of war can erode moral fiber and military discipline in an army, in a company or in the heart of one man. Nor does every army begin with good intentions and effective discipline – some fighting forces are scarcely to be regarded as “armies” at all while others embrace the darkness as a matter of policy.

In terms of warfare, let us define “moral degeneration” as a degraded state of moral decline where a belligerent has effectively abandoned the operational and tactical restraints on conduct mandated by the Laws of War (i.e. war crimes are SOP) and in some instances, the vestiges of civilization.

A textbook example of this kind of moral degeneration came to light a few weeks ago when a jihadi lunatic in Syria, a rebel commander Khalid al-Hamad, who goes by the name of “Abu Sakkar”, cut out the heart of a (presumably) dead government soldier and ate it on video. Charles Cameron expounded at length upon this minor atrocity here. I am not, to say the least, a fan of radical, revolutionary, transnational Sunni Islamism but I cannot honestly say that its proponents like Abul Mawdudi , Sayid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden and their ilk ever openly advocated cannibalism. It is much more likely that Mr. al-Hamad’s behavior is explained by the ferocity of the civil war in Syria eroding customary norms of the combatants than  it is by Islamist ideology.

Moral degeneration in war seems to spring from two directions:

a) As a calculated act of Policy, from the top down, enforced by the leadership by military discipline and bureaucratic control.

b) As a spontaneous reaction by soldiers or fighters, appearing from the bottom up, without orders and frequently, in spite of them, possibly due to a breakdown in the chain of command, an erosion of discipline or sheer mutiny for the age-old purpose of reprisal, pillage and rapine.

The first category often occur with war as a convenient cover rather than a cause of grave crimes against humanity that leaders and  ideologues had long wished to carry out. The Armenian Genocide, as John Keegan wrote, belongs properly to the history of Ottoman imperial policy than it did WWI; in truth, the Genocide was the greatest and worst in a long succession of vicious pogroms that the Ottomans had launched against their Armenian Christian subjects during the reign of Abdul Hamid and the Young Turks. The Holocaust (which had some inspiration in Hitler’s mind, from the fate of the Armenians) was more closely tied to the evolution of  Nazi war policy but once Operation Barbarossa opened up the vast spaces of Soviet Eurasia, “the East” in Nazi parlance, the war itself increasingly took a backseat to expediting Hitler and Himmler’s ghastly and murderous racial priorities. This is a pattern of a priori planning, an escalating ideological radicalization of society that tends to be present with most of the large scale democides and genocides. It is the organizational powers of  coercion utilized by the state, or a mobilized faction of , it that makes the enormous scale of death possible, not the war.

What is different and also dangerous about moral degeneration from the bottom-up, is that it is cultural evolution driven by the psychological effects of extreme violence at work and, unlike an act of policy, more likely to be diffused widely across society as a permanent change for the worse. Too many German soldiers in WWI, former peasants and artisans and boys from middle-class families, returned from the Western Front morally coarsened and addicted to the adrenalin rush of combat and became in succession Freikorps paramilitaries, Communist streetfighters, Nazi Stormtroopers and SS men. The World War also gave Russia the men of the Cheka, the Red terror and the first Gulags on the Bolshevik Left and brutal and mad warlords on the White Right.

In more recent two decades, the break-up of Yugoslavia unleashed atavistic passions of ethnic hatred and atrocity, while organized society in Western African states and central Africa broke down entirely in transnational regional civil wars with unrestrained massacres and mass rape. As a result, there is little that is political but much that is primeval, at this juncture, to explain Joseph Kony’s motivations; he resembles nothing so much as a 21st century Kurtz. Mexico too is degenerating from the escalating violence of cartel insurgency and narco-cultas – there is not much tactical or strategic value in pagan death cults or human sacrifice but it is spreading:

…Our impression is that what is now taking place in Mexico has for some time gone way beyond secular and criminal (economic) activities as defined by traditional organized crime studies.3 In fact, the intensity of change may indeed be increasing. Not only have de facto politicalelements come to the fore-i.e., when a cartel takes over an entire city or town, they have no choice but to take over political functions formerly administered by the local government- but social (narcocultura) and religious/spiritual (narcocultos) characteristics are now making themselves more pronounced. What we are likely witnessing is Mexican society starting to not only unravel but to go to war with itself. The bonds and relationships that hold that society together are fraying, unraveling, and, in some instances, the polarity is reversing itself with trust being replaced by mistrust and suspicion. Traditional Mexican values and competing criminal value systems are engaged in a brutal contest over the ?hearts, minds, and souls‘ of its citizens in a street-by-street, block-by-block, and city-by-city war over the future social and political organization of Mexico. Environmental modification is taking place in some urban centers and rural outposts as deviant norms replace traditional ones and the younger generation fully accepts a criminal value system as their baseline of behavior because they have known no other. The continuing incidents of ever increasing barbarism-some would call this a manifestation of evil even if secularly motivated-and the growing popularity of a death cult are but two examples of this clash of values. Additionally, the early rise of what appears to be cartel holy warriors may now also be taking place. While extreme barbarism, death cults, and possibly now holy warriors found in the Mexican cartel wars are still somewhat the exception rather than the rule, each of these trends is extremely alarming, and will be touched upon in turn.

The crucible of war either tempers a people or it breaks them.

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The easy way or the hard way?

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron -- thinking more in terms of challenge than of threat, and skipping via Chicago Law, Everest, and Handel's Messiah to a Venn diagram of the workings of conscience ]
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Well, I don’t always read the Chicago Law Review cover to cover, or even at all to be honest — but I confess I did like this opening paragraph from George Loewenstein† & Ted O’Donoghue†† (love those daggers after your names, guys):

If you ever have the misfortune to be interrogated, and the experience resembles its depiction in movies, it is likely that your interrogator will inform you that “we can do this the easy way or the hard way.” The interrogator is telling you, with an economy of words, that you are going to spill the beans; the only question is whether you will also get tortured — which is the hard way. In this Essay, we argue that much consumption follows a similar pattern, except that the torturer is oneself.

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Here’s the easy vs hard contrast I was thinking about as I googled my way to the Law Review — as you’ll see, it has nothing to do with interrogation:

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So, a little background. Jason Burke has been covering Everest for The Guardian lately, since it has been almost exactly sixty years since Hillary and Tenzing were the first to “conquer” the highest peak on earth — and one of his reports caught my eye — Everest may have ladder installed to ease congestion on Hillary Step:

It was the final obstacle, the 40 feet of technical climbing up a near vertical rock face that pushed Sir Edmund Hillary to the limit. Once climbed, the way to the summit of Mount Everest lay open.

Now, almost exactly 60 years after the New Zealander and his rope-mate, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, stood on the highest point in the planet, a new plan has been mooted to install a ladder on the famous Hillary Step, as the crucial pitch at nearly 29,000ft has been known since it was first ascended. The aim is to ease congestion.

That’s what the upper panel, above, is all about — and I think it contrasts nicely with the bottom panel, which shows a rurp. Should you need one, you can obtain your own Black Diamond rurp here.

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Rurps are awesome. Here are two descriptions of them, both taken from the mountaineering literature, and neither one of them focusing in too closely on the poetry of the name…

Steve Rope, Camp 4: Recollections of a Yosemite Rockclimber, p. 107:

Chouinard’s “rurp” was obviously something special. An acronym for “realized ultimate reality piton,” this ludicrously small fragment of heat-treated steel opened our eyes to untold possibilities.

and Chris Jones, Climbing in North America, p. 273:

It was about the size of a postage stamp. The business end was the thickness of a knife blade and penetrated only a quarter-inch into the rock. With several of these Realized Ultimate Reality Pitons, or rurps, Chouinard and Frost made the crux pitch on Kat Pinnacle (A4). It was the most difficult aid climb in North America.

Chouinard named this postage-stamp-sized thing the realized ultimate reality piton (RURP) because if you willingly and literally hang your life on that quarter-inch of steel, you’re liable to realize, well, ultimate reality.

Zen — yours for $15 and exemplary courage.

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Here’s my question: should we make the hard way easier?

When is that a kindness, and when is it foolish?

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In its own way, of course, a rurp is an assist — it makes the hard way a tad easier for the serious climber.

As indeed would the proposed “ladder” on Everest: here’s why it might be not-such-a-bad idea:

This year, 520 climbers have reached the summit of Everest. On 19 May, around 150 climbed the last 3,000ft of the peak from Camp IV within hours of each other, causing lengthy delays as mountaineers queued to descend or ascend harder sections.

“Most of the traffic jams are at the Hillary Step because only one person can go up or down. If you have people waiting two, three or even four hours that means lots of exposure [to risk]. To make the climbing easier, that would be wrong. But this is a safety feature,” said Sherpa…

Besides, the idea is to set it up as a one-way street…

Frits Vrijlandt, the president of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA), said the ladder could be a solution to the increasing numbers of climbers on the mountain.

“It’s for the way down, so it won’t change the climb,” Vrijlandt told the Guardian.

Ah, but then there’s human nature to consider:

It is unlikely, however, that tired ascending climbers close to their ultimate goal will spurn such an obvious aid at such an altitude.

Bah!

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Shouldn’t we just level the top off, as Handel and Isaiah 4.4 suggest, and as we’re doing in the Appalachians?

A little mountaintop removal mining, a helipad, and voilà — even I could make it to the summit!

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But to return to Loewenstein† & O’Donoghue†† — their paper’s full title was “We Can Do This the Easy Way or the Hard Way”: Negative Emotions, Self-Regulation, and the Law — how can a theologian such as myself resist a diagram such as this?

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The Battle of Algiers / Black Friday koan

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron -- a tale of two films, two conflicts, two cities ]
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Are these two positions — take one side, take both sides — reconcilable?

That’s the koan, the paradox that’s facing me, after seeing two terrific films by these two directors again, this time back-to-back. The two films their respective directors are discussing are Gillo Pontecorvo‘s Battle of Algiers and Anurag Kashyap‘s Black Friday.

Elie Weisel triggered this set of reflections for me when I saw his stark statement of the “one side” position:

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Let’s turn to the films.

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Pontecorvo’s Battle for Algiers is a rightly-celebrated classic, and it’s opening shot confirms the director’s claim to show compassion for both sides:

That’s an unexpected question from torturer to the victim he has just “broken”, and speaks volumes about the director’s intent — as does this quote from the french paratroop commander, Col. Mathieu, speaking of Larbi Ben M’Hidi, a leader of the National Liberation Front (FLN) whom he has captured and questioned — and who in “RL” was in fact murdered, though his death was reported at the time as a suicide:

Pour ma part, je peux seulement vous dire que j’ai eu la possibilité d’apprécier la force morale, le courage et la fidélité de Ben M’Hidi en ses propres idéaux. Pour cela, sans oublier l’immense danger qu’il représentait, je me sens le devoir de rendre hommage à sa mémoire.

For my own part, I can only tell you that I had the opportunity to appreciate Ben M’Hidi’s moral strength, his courage and his loyalty to his own ideas. On that account, and without overlooking the immense danger he represented, I feel obliged to salute his memory.

That reads to me as the respect of courage for courage.

The Pentagon, FWIW, held a screening of Battle for Algiers in September 2003, issuing a flyer indicating their reason to be interested in the film:

How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film.

Yes indeed, it does sound a tad familiar.

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I’ll represent Kashyap’s Black Friday visually with a pair of images, the top one showing the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya / Oudh, which was leveled in December 1992 by an angry Hindu mob who claimed it had been built on the birthplace of Lord Rama, the avatar of Vishnu whose story is told in the Mahabharata

while the lower one represents Muslim rage at that event, making use of voice-over and that remarkable phrase, “martyred our sacred mosque”, to good effect.

Kashyap, then, can understand the feelings behind the horrific series of terrorist bombings that shook Bombay — as well as those of the bombed and terrorized population of that city. As Oorvazi Irani explains in her commentary on the film, Kashyap’s own views are expressed in the voice of DCP Rakesh Maria in the “chapter” on the interrogation of Badshah Khan:

Badshah Khan very proudly takes credit for the bombings and says Muslims have taken the revenge for the atrocities done to their Muslim brothers. That’s when Kay Kay Menon who plays the cop says and speaks in the voice of the director “…Allah was not on your side, on your side was Tiger Memon. He saw your rage and manipulated you. He was gone before the first bomb was even planted. ..he fucked you over. you know why? Because you were begging for it. All in the name of religion. You are a fucking idiot. You are an idiot and so is every Hindu, who murders one of you. Everyone who has nothing better to do … but to fight in the name of religion is a fucking idiot.”

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Can there be a right side and a wrong side in a game? There can certainly be a winning side and a losing side — but a right side and a wrong side?

I ask, because the connection between wars and games is an ancient one. Can there be a right side and a wrong side in war? Looking at World War II, which was almost certainly the war that Elie Weisel was thinking of, the answer is pretty obviously yes. But what about the reasons given for “our side” being the right side?

Is our cause just because God is on our side? Because might makes right, and the big battalions are on our side? Or simply because it is our side — my country, right or wrong?

And then there is civil war to consider — for all wars are civil wars, when seen within the context of that greater “nationality”, the human race.

Abraham Lincoln, from his Second Inaugural:

Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. … Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. … The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes…

The whole issue of the just war — or of jihad, its Islamic approximate equivalent — revolves around the question of whether there can be a wrong side in war.

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If there can be a wrong side, it may be shredded. As Mark Twain once prayed:

O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it — for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

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There are things to be said for being on the winning side of a conflict: you get to write history. There may be things to be said for being on the losing side: you gain the sympathy that accrues to the underdog. There are things to be said for supporting neither side, for being on the sidelines to pick up the pieces.

Then again, as Buddha observed in the Dhammapada, there are disadvantages to being on either side –

Victory breeds hatred. The defeated live in pain. Happily the peaceful live giving up victory and defeat.

while Christ muddies the simplicity of the whole business with a further contrarian note:

love your enemies.

Peace is not a bad side to be on, but perhaps love is more nuanced.

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To bring us full circle, here’s another statement of the Elie Weisel position, this time in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor and theologian involved in the plot to assassinate Hitler and executed in one of the concentration camps — together with a response to the question I’ve been posing for myself here which may perhaps providinge some measure of reconciliation, this one from a contemporary Zen Buddhist, someone for whom the appreciation of koans is a way of life:

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When does music become noise?

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

[ by Charles Cameron -- a little rock criticism with military, political and theological overtones ]
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When does music become noise?

  • When it annoys you.
  • Even when it’s Nancy Sinatra.
  • And FWIW, much the same can be said of prayer.

I say this, because there’s currently a battle of the noises in Jerusalem. Or should I call that a battle of rock music vs the call to prayer?

Noise, in any case. That’s what the people who don’t like it call it.

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It may be that you’ve sought out events with “strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music” — they’re called concerts when you volunteer for them, but torture when you have no choice…

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The New York Times piece quoted above brings us a legal opinion that the practice at Gitmo constituted torture, and a hint of the playlist:

David Sheffer, a senior State Department human rights official in the Clinton administration who teaches law at George Washington University, said the procedure of shackling prisoners to the floor in a state of undress while playing loud music – the Guantánamo sources said it included the bands Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine, and the rapper Eminem – and lights clearly constituted torture. “I don’t think there’s any question that treatment of that character satisfies the severe pain and suffering requirement, be it physical or mental, that is provided for in the Convention Against Torture,” Mr. Sheffer said.

It also tells us what impact of the “strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music” had on the Gitmo prisoners, who had to put up with it for fourteen hour stretches:

Another person familiar with the procedure who was contacted by The Times said: “They were very wobbly. They came back to their cells and were just completely out of it.”

How does being shackled to the floor compare with being in a compound inside an FBI cordon — how does “Nancy Sinatra songs, shrieks of dying rabbits, Christmas carols and Tibetan monk chants” compare with “strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music”?

I’d say there are significant similarities and significant differences.

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For one thing, David Koresh, the “sinful messiah” of Waco, was a guitarist-songwriter himself:

How shall I put this? That’s not what I expected…

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But hey, Manuel Noriega.

You remember him? It is perhaps worth recalling that when Gen. Noriega was holed up at the Panama City residence of the Papal Nuncio — a place where one can imagine the Angelus bell modestly calling the faithful to prayer thrice daily, but I digress — “American troops directed loudspeakers his way in an attempt to blast him out“.

Happily for those of us interested in the musics of siege and torture, the National Security Archive associated with George Washington University has posted a copy of the playlist of songs requested by US troops to regale the General.

One can only imagine how much a man of his discerning taste must have enjoyed listening to Jimi Hendrix’ high-tweakin’ guitar on one of Rolling Stone‘s top 500 songs evah — Voodoo Child:

Oh, and so much more besides. For the full playlist, see here and here and here. Those selections are drawn from USSOUTHCOM’s After Action report on Operation Just Cause.

The Papal Nuncio’s residence would in essence be a diplomatic extension of the Vatican, wouldn’t it? Can you imagine the berobed monsignori tapping their feet to Electric Spanking of War Babies by the Funkadelics — or, with subtle religious overtones, War Pigs by Black Sabbath?

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So, onwards to Jerusalem.

Today’s adhan or call to prayer in Jerusalem / al-Quds would have been sung out by the muezzin at 4:11am (Fajr) and again at 12:47pm, 4:27pm, 7:47pm and 9:17pm.

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Under the title Mosque’s Loud Prayer Generates Mega-Decibel ‘Battle of the Bands’, the Jewish Press reports:

After the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem has decided to play very loud music, in defiance of the volume and disturbance of the sound of the muezzin at the mosque in nearby Al-Issawiya, two additional Jewish neighborhoods, Pisgat Ze’ev and Har Choma, have announced that they, too, will take up a similar approach. French Hill also decided to go with hard rock, and not Mediterranean tunes, as had originally been planned, because, as they put it, hard rock is more likely to deliver the message.

According to Yediot Jerusalem, the French Hill neighborhood has recently approached an amplification company with an order for four huge speakers to be directed at Al-Isawiya. As soon as the village muezzin will start his exceedingly loud prayer, it will be responded to with ear shattering Rock n’ Roll, letting local Arabs understand how disturbing the loud prayers have been to their Jewish neighbors.

French Hill, according to Wikipedia:

French Hill (Hebrew: HaGiv’a HaTzarfatit, Arabic: at-tel al-faransiya), also Giv’at Shapira is a neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem. It is located on territory occupied during the Six-Day War in 1967, later annexed to Israel under the Jerusalem Law in 1980. The United Nations Security Council declared this law a violation of international law, and states that the Council will not recognize this law, and calls on member states to accept the decision of the council. The International Court of Justice stated in its 2004 Advisory Opinion that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem and therefore also in French Hill) have been established in breach of international law. The European Union considers French Hill to be an illegal settlement in East Jerusalem.

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Noise is in the hearts and minds of the hearers and beholders.

Or beauty, as the case may be.

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A House of Horrors for Autistic Children but Cash for Democratic Pols

Monday, June 4th, 2012

This may rank among the most bizarre and appalling education stories I have ever heard in twenty years as a professional educator. And I have heard quite a bit.

You may have caught a blip about the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights calling in to question practices at some institution in America and read no further. I didn’t. Unfortunately, it turns out, the UN is right. There’s a taxpayer supported independent school in Massachusetts run by a radical B.F. Skinnerian cult called the Judge Rotenberg Center that makes a practice of giving frequent and intense electric shocks to severely autistic children in order to moderate their disruptive or self-isolating behaviors.

To be clear even under “enhanced interrogation” methods approved by the Bush administration, this could not be done to al Qaida captives.  We would never do it to the most hardened convicts in the Federal prison system. Yet taxpayers are footing the bill to do it to disabled students. Sometimes for hours on end.

Having worked with such students in my classroom, words fail me.

Steve Hynd, the progressive blogger at The Agonist and Newshoggers.com did some digging and discovered The Judge Rotenberg Center has deep and exclusive financial ties to a powerful coterie of Massachusetts Democrats:

Electro-Shock Torture School Donates Exclusively To Mass. Dems 

….I noted at the time that there must be some heavy political juice behind the Judge Rotenberg Center, which declared earnings of over $52 million in 2010, 99% of which came from “Fees and contracts from government agencies”. Now, The Agonist has seen information which shows a pattern of donations by directors and officials to Massachusett state Democrats – and exclusively to Democrats.

To date, the Center has spent over $16 million on legal services according to Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-MA), spending which has been very successful in keeping the school open and operating. Earlier this year the man at the head of the Center, psychologist Matthew Israel, “agreed to step down rather than face trial for his alleged role in destroying tapes showing a night in 2007 when two teenagers wrongfully received electrical shocks based on a prank phone call.” Meanwhile, Mass. Governor Deval Patrick’s administration passed new legislation that stopped the Center practising its voodoo psychology on new admissions – but didn’t stop “aversive therapy” treatments for as many as two thirds of the existing students.

The cash-rich Center certainly hires the best when it comes to protecting its ability to torture autistic children. It’s PR firm is Boston heavyweight Regan Communications Group, where it’s file is handled by Crisis Communications head and former spox for the Boston P.D. Mariellen Burns. Regan Communications was started by George K. Regan, former spokesman to Democratic Boston mayor Kevin White. Their legal firm is Bracewell & Giuliani (yes, that Giuliani) of New York. Their lobbyists are the firm of Malkin & Ross, a company headed by Donald K. Ross, the chair of the board of Directors of Greenpeace USA. In 2010, they were Malkin & Ross’ fifth largest client, paying $112,200 to, among other things, lobby the U.S. Congress to stop a bill that would have outlawed their treatment methods.

It also donates to the local Democratic Party. The Agonist has seen an email alleged to be from the Center to it’s legal and lobbyist firms, dumped on pastebin by the Anonymous collective in March of this year. The email seems to comprise information sent to those firms as part of an exercize in damage control. If it’s the real deal, then the Center’s directors have made personal donations totalling $13,305 to Massacusetts Dem heavy-hitters since 2008. The recipient list is a who’s-who of powerful local Democratic players, and there is not a single Republican on the list.

The alleged list of recipients:

Deval Patrick, currentGovernor of Massachusetts, who served as an Assistant United States Attorney General under President Bill Clinton.

Timothy Murray, Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts.

Salvatore F. “Sal” DiMasi, former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives indicted and found guilty 2011 on 7 of 9 Federal charges, including conspiracy to defraud the federal government, extortion, mail fraud and wire fraud.

Patricia A. Haddad, current Speaker pro Tempore of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Robert A. DeLeo, Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

James Vallee, Majority Leader of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Harriette L. Chandler, current Majority Whip of the Senate and the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health.

Joan M. Menard, Senate Majority Whip 2003-2011, now vice president for work force development, lifelong learning, grant development and external affairs at Bristol Community College.

Steven Tolman, Dem member of Mass. State Senate to 2011, now president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

Michael Morrissey, Dem member of the Massachusetts State Senate until 2011, now Chair of Massachusetts AFL.

Steven Panagiotakos, State Senator 1997 to 2011, was chair of Ways and Means Committee. Now Vice Chair, Massachusetts AFL.

Barry Finegold, Massachusetts Senate.

Garrett Bradley, Massachusetts House of Representatives.

Kathi-Anne Reinstein, Massachusetts House of Representative

Would this “school” stay open without this kind of impressive political clout behind them? How do these guys sleep at night? What is happening at The Judge Rotenberg Center seeminglyviolates Federal Law and international law. Where is the FBI?

Steve, who has always put his principles above partisanship, has a FOXnews video about the Judge Rotenberg Center’s “aversive therapy” via electro-shock [warning graphic].  The Center attempted to keep this material under seal but failed.

Massachusetts has the reputation of being the most liberal of liberal Democratic states but her pols are protecting a school whose philosophy makes Benito Mussolini look like a libertarian.

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