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Archive for January, 2011


Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Dr.David Ucko at the excellent Kings of War blog has his story and he is sticking to it:

The Weather Underground: a different approach to political violence

I recently watched The Weather Underground, a 2002 documentary on the eponymous radical organisation active within the United States during the 1970s. The film may be of interest to those studying radicalisation, insurgency and political violence, as it effectively explores the rise, evolution and demise of a revolutionary organisation. It also raises some semantic/ethical questions about ‘who is a terrorist’.

….The use of violence for political messaging may be viewed as ‘terrorism’, and this is typically how the Weather Underground is understood. But is this accurate? Terrorist groups deliberately target civilians to scare or terrorise wider populations into a certain political behaviour. The WUO refrained from such action: they used violence against buildings rather than people, to symbolise their discontent with specific policies and actions, but without killing those held responsible. It was ‘propaganda of the deed’, but without the bloodshed. Accordingly, none of WUO’s attacks resulted in casualties (the one exception has not been definitively linked to the group), and for this reason alone, it is difficult to call WUO a ‘terrorist’ organisation.

Uh, no it isn’t. As the commenters at KoW are busy trying to inform Ucko, this narrative does not fit the facts of the history of the Weathermen.

David, I suspect, is not trying to romanticize the Weathermen here so much as force-fit them into his theoretical model of terrorism, possibly influenced by a tactical turn that was undertaken by the IRA to drive up financial costs for the British government while minimizing the bad press that and damage to their public image that had been growing from earlier, bloody, IRA bombings.

The Books Keep Arriving

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Hey….all right….who keeps ordering these things anyway? 🙂


Michael Collins: The Man Who Made Ireland by Tim Pat Coogan

The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld  by Herbert Asbury

Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy by John R. Hale

Lighter fare, than usual. The last, on the connection between Athenian thalassocracy and Athenian democracy was a recommendation by blogfriend Eddie.

I really need to call a halt to the manic book-buying until I address the question of….more shelf-space!


Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

To the men of Battle Company, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington for RESTREPO receiviong a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

From blogfriend HistoryGuy99:

Restrepo Earns a Well Deserved Nomination

The filimakers, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington spent 15 months off and on with the soldiers capturing the essence of men under fire and how they reacted to the mundane and the profane. During the filming, an action took place that saw the Medal of Honor won by Sgt Sal Giunta the only live soldier since the Vietnam War to receive the award.No mention of this fine film would be complete without mention of a new blog friend who besides being an Army surgeons wife, writer, and blogger, was the film’s promoter who was instrumental in getting it shown across the country. Kanani Fong deserves praise for her time and devotion to supporting the troops as well as organizing efforts to assist returning veterans and the families of those deployed. This morning after the nomination Kanai posted this about the film.

Making the film was the hard part. Promoting it was easy (at least for me). Because for those of us with loved ones in the war, Restrepo was always personal. I mean, for me… my husband was the surgeon in Asadabad. The Korengal was a hop, step and a jump away.

In the long, dusty corridors of war with its stale smell of punditry, assumptions, and stereotypes along came this film. It helped us put our thoughts about war into some kind of order. Finally, we saw where our loved ones where, it added texture to what we already knew. I was the smallest cog in the PR machine, which if you must know –wasn’t that big. Think of it as a small, efficient machine, with all the parts working to bring this film into the bosom of the American public.

It is well worth a few minutes to visit and read Kanani’s whole post and the heart felt thank you from the filmmakers.

“We heard the news this morning about the Academy Award nominations – and wanted to thank you all for your support for Restrepo. While the nomination is a recognition of the movie, we hope it’s a fitting tribute to those who have fought and died in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. We made this movie because we wanted to bring the war into people’s living rooms back home. We hope the nomination will continue to promote an open and constructive dialogue about the war. Thanks again for all your continued support in making the movie a success.

-Tim and Sebastian

Of Anwar al-Awlaki and Bold Christian Clothing

Monday, January 24th, 2011

[ by Charles Cameron ]

I am, admittedly, very interested in religion, and Christianity has been the mother-lode for me of the imagery, gestures and profound words that can move heart, soul, mind and imagination into a greater depth.

Advertising, on the other hand… well, let’s just say that the best of it plays on imagination, too, but it is generally more of an intrusion upon – via billboards on landscapes, via commercials in movies, or via irritating jingles and catch phrases that subvert my best attempts at quieting the mind – than an experience of the kind of depth that religion at its best can offer.

But if you are interested in religion, and click online in enough of the right places, advertising that has “religious” content will be targeted to you.


And so it is that I went online this morning to check out something about al-Awlaki on Islamic Awakening, an American jihadist forum, and found myself invited to consider, instead, wearing some “bold Christian clothing”.

This was while I was researching al-Awlaki, right? the Muslim jihadist preacher?


a site with its own curious graphics…

And looking closer at that logo, isn’t that some sort of triumphalist armored vehicle I see?


Well, never averse to a pretty girl, and noticing the one in the Bold Christian ad, I thought I’d taker a look at Bold Christian Clothing to find out what sort of fashion sense was popular among the younger Christian set just now, and found I could obtain t-shirts with such comforting images as these…

— this one’s symbolic of our relatively new century, I guess…

or this:

which I am praeternaturally fond of since my online moniker is hipbone, with its veiled reference to the Valley of the Dry Bones in that very same chapter 37 of Ezekiel…

and then there’s this masterfully supremacist rendering of a part of the Lord’s Prayer:

which I must admit isn’t the image of Thy Kingdom Come that springs to mind when I personally hope and pray for heaven on earth.

What exactly is it, you may ask? According to the manufacturer, it’s

The Lord’s Prayer — “Thy Kingdom Come” with an Angel holding the cross, Horses, skulls under the horses, and palm trees (with Shield and Pacific Oracle cross logo added)

It’s also “the softest, smoothest shirt we sell” … “made from combed cotton for your added comfort” and gives “a flattering and stylish fit to virtually any body type”.

I on the other hand think it looks more like a photoshopped variant of the Quadringa statue in London that celebrates Wellington’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo:


In light of all this, I do believe I’ll just wear white – although even that could be misinterpreted, I guess.

Cameron Guest Posts at Jihadology

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Charles Cameron ventures forth to conquer new blogworlds:

GUEST POST: Hitting the Blind-Spot- A Review of Jean-Pierre Filiu’s “Apocalypse in Islam”

Jean-Pierre Filiu’s book, Apocalypse in Islam (University of California Press, 2011) makes a crucially important contribution to our understanding of current events – it illuminates not just one but a cluster of closely-related blind-spots in our current thinking, and it does so with scholarship and verve.

Al-Qaida’s interest in acquiring nuclear weapons – and Iran’s – and the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear materiel – and the situation in Jerusalem – depending how you count ‘em, there are a half dozen or so glaring world problems where one spark in the Mahdist underbrush might transform a critical situation. And yet as Ali Allawi put it in his talk to the Jamestown Foundation on Mahdism in Iraq a few years back, Mahdists ferments still tend to be “below our radar”.

People are always talking about unintended consequences: might I suggest that blind-spots are where unintended consequences come from – and offer some background on apocalyptic, before proceeding to discuss Filiu’s contribution?

We already have a tendency to dismiss religious drivers in considering current events, having concluded in many cases that religion is passé for the serious-minded types who populate diplomatic, military and governmental bureaucracies world-wide – and we are even more reluctant to focus on anyone who talks about the Last Days and Final Judgment, despite the presence of both in the faith statements and scriptures of both Islam and Christianity. We think vaguely of cartoons of bearded and bedraggled men with sandwich boards declaring The End is Nigh, and move along to something more easily understood, something conveniently quantitative like the number of centrifuges unaffected by Stuxnet in Iran, or purely hypothetical, like the association of Taliban and Al Qaida in Afghanistan.

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