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Archive for January 24th, 2006

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006


A very meandering post:

I have been reading and re-reading for the critique of 4GW which has impacted my blogging time somewhat and this process is likely to result in lighter, shorter, postings this week. I had hoped to finish everything by Sunday but I was hit by a nasty cold on Friday, aggravated by an extended bout of snowman building and snowball fighting with The Firstborn and the Son of Zenpundit on Saturday. The virus impacted my general energy level for writing and much of that which remained was consumed by designing a powerpoint presentation for work as well as a frank and very interesting exchange with John Robb over the “Lind Review ” of Dr. Barnett’s ideas. A discussion picked up by others as well.

Dan of tdaxp is off on a controversial tangent about liberal education, which at this point, I think still requires further clarification and expansion. Liberal education can be subversive of established orders that rest on static assumptions. Dynamic societies require liberal education – or some other process that approximates the same cognitive result in a plurality of the population – in order to retain their dynamism and creativity. As Dr. Chet Richards suggested to Dan:

“You raise an interesting point, and you are right that there are states that would be weakened by liberal education. But for us – the US and the democracies – what’s the alternative? Illiberal education?

If exposing people to a wide range of ideas and teaching them to think for themselves is causing us to be vulnerable to 4GW, then we have problems much deeper than even Bill Lind’s fertile imagination can conjure.

Any state that is vulnerable to a liberal educational system deserves to disappear (take a glance around the Middle East …) After all, a state is just a human construct – it serves us, not the other way around, or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

A fair question would be how liberal is American education these days ? A liberal education is certainly available in the sense of being possible for those students who take some intiative, if you accept a broad definition of the term, but even so there has been, at all levels of education, a retreat from that ideal in the public sphere. There we see movement toward required indoctrination of multicultural-leftist attitudes or rote mastery of facts without a concomitant critical analysis ( in some schools, both at once). And of course some private institutions of education have always explicitly rejected that model in favor of indoctrinating rival, usually authoritarian, philosophical values. Students receiving this kind of education represent a tiny fringe of the population, even amongst those educated privately or homeschooled.

Ninety percent of all Americans are educated in the public schools. What happens there matters a great deal.

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006


An interesting web-exclusive piece from Foreign Policy on internal French policy toward terrorism. While a judicial rather than military policy in nature – French anti-terror magistrates have been granted a set of extraordinairy powers that differ from the common Anglo-American understanding of the descriptor ” judicial”:

” France was caught largely unprepared when a series of deadly attacks shook Paris in the mid-1980s. The new terror wave, allegedly ordered by Iran and Syria, involved a geopolitical dimension that the antiquated French police and justice systems were in no position to counter. That prompted the adoption in 1986 of a comprehensive antiterrorism law, which set up a centralized unit of investigating magistrates in Paris—led by Marsaud and later by judge Jean-Louis Bruguière—with jurisdiction over all terrorism cases. Unlike normal French criminal proceedings, terrorist trials in France are judged only by panels of professional magistrates, without the participation of juries.

In the French system, an investigating judge is the equivalent of an empowered U.S. prosecutor. The judge is in charge of a secret probe, through which he or she can file charges, order wiretaps, and issue warrants and subpoenas. The conclusions of the judge are then transmitted to the prosecutor’s office, which decides whether to send the case to trial. The antiterrorist magistrates have even broader powers than their peers. For instance, they can request the assistance of the police and intelligence services, order the preventive detention of suspects for six days without charge, and justify keeping someone behind bars for several years pending an investigation. In addition, they have an international mandate when a French national is involved in a terrorist act, be it as a perpetrator or as a victim. As a result, France today has a pool of specialized judges and investigators adept at dismantling and prosecuting terrorist networks.”

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