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Here is a word, maybe even a sentence, in the language of menace

Monday, May 20th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — behold Abraham Lincoln of the USN sending a signal to Iran, the IRGC, and various Shia militias of dubious reliability ]
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Here is a word, maybe even a sentence, in the language of menace:

It looks even more menacing in the full-sized image as I found it, thanks to Julian West, in the Guardian. – hit the link to see it, it’s too large for the Zenpundit format!

Now imagine how menacing that word or sentence becomes when it’s not a photo but a carrier strike group sailing your way..

And now think how menacing that carrier group becomes when John Bolton‘s the one who may be — pardon the pun — calling the shots

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Let’s go back to the image up above for a moment, and pray there are no unfortunate accidents, and that the carrier strike group seen here as a sentence in the language of menace doesn’t become anyone’s death sentence..

The deliciousness of snakes that bite their tails, &c

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — continuing my miscellaneous collections, with metaphor, paradox &c a specialty ]
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Two recent headers caught my eye:

and:

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You can see why I like those two — there’s something very attractive about the way those headlines double back on themselves.Writers know this self-referential form — the serpent biting it’s tail, or ouroboros — I’ve been suggesting for some time that it’s also a useful heuristic marker of matter of special interest, worth particular attention by intel, natsec and geopolitical analysts.

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Okay, another item — a double number his time — for the collections series:

This is from about a week ago, I think, and belongs in my war as metaphor category.

Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, or perhaps said, “The world is so full of a number of things, I ‘m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” I’m that happy, I have to admit, though I’ve no idea whether kings themselves are — hey, given that Shakespeare himself wrote “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown…”

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Gov. Northam‘s predicament is one I won’t comment on, but Rev Al Sharpton had a few comments I found worth noting:

  • This (KKK outfit) is a terrorist uniform .. a terrorist, racist outfit ..
  • You’ve got to be consistent if you’re going to take a moral stand ..
  • Clan robe is a terr– Clan represents lynchings, murder, bloodshed; there’s no way to act like you didn’t understand ..
  • When Sharpton didn’t feel the Northam had sufficiently plumbed the depths of black dismay at the confluence of KKK and blackface on his page, the Rev — at least to my ear — put considerable emphasis on the concept of terrorism — the KKK as home-grown, native-born, internal, domestic, normal, pretty much, right-wing terrorists.

    And they’re still around:

    Georgia, 2016

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    Anyway, I’ll continue dropping visuals in here, and relegate most of my text collections to this and other comments sections.

    The map borders on the territory? Turkey, Palestine

    Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — maps as records, as wishes, as hints, as silent threats ]
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    Interesting things, maps. Models and descriptions, too, but it’s maps I’m thinking of here. Two examples:

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    Turkey:

    turkish-map

    From my point of view, the most striking paragraph in the Foreign Policy piece titled Turkey’s New Maps Are Reclaiming The Ottoman Empire was this one:

    At first glance, the maps of Turkey appearing on Turkish TV recently resemble similar irredentist maps put out by proponents of greater Greece, greater Macedonia, greater Bulgaria, greater Armenia, greater Azerbaijan, and greater Syria. That is to say, they aren’t maps of the Ottoman Empire, which was substantially larger, or the entire Muslim world or the Turkic world. They are maps of Turkey, just a little bigger.

    Map bloating & boasting is obviously bigger business than I had fully realized.

    Also of interest was the comment:

    On two separate occasions, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the Treaty of Lausanne, which created the borders of modern Turkey, for leaving the country too small. He spoke of the country’s interest in the fate of Turkish minorities living beyond these borders, as well as its historic claims to the Iraqi city of Mosul..

    Mosul, okay, noted — but what interests me more is the parallelism with Putin‘s attitude to the Ukraine:

    “Novorossiya” or “New Russia”: Putin only briefly mentioned that term during a five-hour, televised question-and-answer session this month. But his revival of that geographic title for southern and eastern Ukraine—territory won from the Ottoman Empire in the late 18th century by Catherine the Great—is resonating among Russians today.

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    Palestine:

    One other recent map controversy caught my eye…

    google-map

    The claim was made that Google had eliminated the name Palestine from Google Maps. Google denied this:

    “There has never been a ‘Palestine’ label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for ‘West Bank’ and ‘Gaza Strip,’ ” the company said in a statement. “We’re working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.” It is unclear if that bug played a role in spurring the online outrage.

    Elizabeth Davidoff, a spokeswoman, said in an email that the company had also never used the label “Palestinian territories” on its maps. The bug affecting the words “Gaza Strip” and “West Bank” persisted on Wednesday, but when Google Maps functions properly both areas are labeled and separated from Israel by a dotted line to signify that their borders are not internationally recognized.

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    Dotted lines in the sand..

    On targeting as a mood this electoral season, 1

    Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — the only virtue I can see in this darkness is that the light contrasts with it ]
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    I find this frankly horrifying:

    This, at a supposedly Christian university?

    Feh.

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    Mark you, I think targeting an individual — any individual –in this way is very different from targeting contested seats in an election. I can understand both Democrats and Republicans using the imagery of targets or cross-hairs to suggest where they’d like their supporters to get active, get out the vote and win seats..

    acceptable-or-not

    I said as much in On sneers, smears, and mutual sniping:

    Neither “targetting” political adversaries nor “having them in your crosshairs” equates to killing or there would have been a whole lot more attempted assassinations — just the one was bad enough.

    Have some proportion, people.

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    However, as an inveterate DoubleTweeter I have to say that pinning targets or cross-hairs on individual leaders in highly charged political disputes speaks a wholly different language, and presents a far higher threat level, than targeting districts on an electoral map:

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    For the record, I find this no less offensive:

    trump-target

    Downward Spiral as a pattern in conflict — do we study it?

    Friday, October 21st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a thoroughly impertinent riff on that saying of von Moltke ]
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    Hw many places could this sentence be applied to?

    But the latest attacks, which appear to have been several months in the preparation, threaten to draw the entire population into a downward spiral of deadly confrontations, violent crackdowns by the security forces and toxic relations between local communities and the authorities.

    It happens to come from an article about the Rohingya, Richard Horsey‘s Reality bites for Aung San Suu Kyi amid surging violence from the Nikkei Asian Review.

    But how many other places might such a sentence apply to?

    I ask this because we tend to focus on certain words in a sentence like this: attacks, preparation, threat, population, deadly confrontations, violent crackdowns, security forces, local communities, the authorities. Those are the forces in play, if you will. But their play follows the rules of a certain game, and that game is also named in the sentence.

    Its name is downward spiral.

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    vatican-spiralSpiral staircase, the Vatican, Rome

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    What I want to suggests that we might learn a great deal if we shifted our attention from attacks, preparation, threat, population and the rest, and thought about spiral.

    Spiral is the form that the attacks, preparation, threat, population and the rest — here and in those other places — takes, and as such it’s an archetype that underlies them, not just among the Rohingya, their Buddhist compatriots and Aung San Suu Kyi, but across the globe and through time itself.

    Spiral as a pattern in conflict — do we study it?

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    If, as I suppose, von Moltke can be translated as saying, “no operating concept survives contact,” it would seem we may need to conceptualize contact, ie the complexity of relations, rather than operations, which are far more focused on us — how we “will prevent conflict, shape security environments, and win wars” — than on conflict and wars, both of which are minimally two-party affairs.

    And I’m not trying to say anything so terribly new here, just to give fresh phrasing to Paul Van Riper‘s comment:

    What we tend to do is look toward the enemy. We’re only looking one way: from us to them. But the good commanders take two other views. They mentally move forward and look back to themselves. They look from the enemy back to the friendly, and they try to imagine how the enemy might attack them. The third is to get a bird’s-eye view, a top-down view, where you take the whole scene in. The amateur looks one way; the professional looks at least three different ways.

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    sintra-castle-spiral-credit-joe-daniel-price-740x492Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal, credit Joe Daniel Price

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    The sentence immediately preceding the one from the Nikkei Asia article I quoted above will hopefully illuminate hope in a pretty desperate situation:

    The majority of this community and its religious leaders continue to eschew violence.

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    Image sources:

  • Both spiral images from the Top 10 Spiral Architecture page

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