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Armageddon: if you can’t hasten it, maybe you can dodge it?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — plus a date-setting video, awaiting The End in 2031! ]

Armageddon. Even if you can’t hotwire it..

SPEC Paz Schindler

you may still be able to dodge it..


From the late Israeli analyst, Reuven Paz:

Jihadi apocalyptic discourse, either by Jihadi-Salafi scholars, clerics, or supporters of global Jihad is one of the main innovations of the Jihadi-Salafi discourse that followed the September 11 attacks. Waves of what may be termed apocalyptic discourse are not new in the modern Arab Islamic world. They accompanied almost every major war or disaster that occurred in the Arab World in modern times. Such major events were the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the last Muslim Caliphate in 1922-24; The 1948 war with Israel — the “catastrophe” (Nakbah) in Arab and Palestinian eyes — which resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel; The 1967 war — the calamity (Naksah) in Arab and Muslim eyes — which resulted in Israeli occupation all over Palestine, Jerusalem, and Al-Aqsa mosque, and marked a humiliating Arab defeat; and the first Gulf war in 1991, following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, which marked the first round of America’s massive military involvement in the Middle East. These wars, and some additional minor events such as the “Triple aggression” in the Suez canal in October 1956; “Black September” and the sudden death of the most admired Egyptian President Gamal Abd al-Nasser in September 1970, The Islamic revolution in Iran in February 1979; The Israeli-Egyptian peace// agreement the same time; The Iran-Iraq war between 1980-88, or the Soviet collapse in 1990-91, created waves of apocalyptic discourse.

From John Schindler:

Fifteen years ago I authored a piece for Cryptologic Quarterly, the National Security Agency’s in-house classified journal, about how close the world actually came to World War III in the early 1950s. Although this was little understood at the time, the North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950 was a dry-run for the Kremlin, which was obsessed with silencing Tito’s renegade Communist regime in Yugoslavia. Had the United States not strongly resisted Pyongyang’s aggression, a Soviet bloc invasion of Yugoslavia would have followed soon after.

Of course, President Harry Truman did send U.S. forces to defend South Korea in the summer 1950, resulting in a conflict that has never formally ended. More importantly, he saved the world from nuclear Armageddon, as my CQ piece laid out in detail. Lacking much Western conventional defenses in Europe, any Soviet move on Yugoslavia would have resulted in rapid nuclear release by a hard-pressed NATO. I cited numerous still-secret files and as a result my article was classified TOPSECRET//SCI.

However, NSA has seen fit to declassify and release my article, minus some redactions, and even post it on the Agency’s open website. They have omitted my name, perhaps out of fear UDBA assassins will track me down decades after Tito’s death, but I’ll take my chances.

You can read the article here — enjoy!


  • Reuven Paz, Hotwiring the Apocalypse: Jihadi Salafi Attitude towards Hizballah and Iran
  • John Schindler, Dodging Armageddon: The Third World War That Almost Was, 1950
  • **

    None of which precludes date-setting — something that both Christian and Islamic scriptures suggest is futile.

    I can’t embed MI7 Agency‘s Passage Through the Veil of Time, but it’s an intriguing entry into the prediction stakes, and the first I’ve seen that confirms Richard Landes‘ contention that Christian millennial movements will be with us at least until the second millennial anniversary of the death and resurrection of Christ in the 2030s — and no doubt through the start of the next Islamic century in 2076 AD since, as Tim Furnish has also reminded us, “Mahdist expectations increase at the turn of every Islamic century.”

    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.

    Simply so much.. 01

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — an experiment in blogging — morality transcending laws, the pope, battleships, jellyfish, & Catholic politicians ]

    There’s simply so much going on that I need to try a few way of sifting and posting my daily catch. So here’s my experiment. Each day I’ll open a Simply so much post at the start of the day, adding things that catch my eye as I go, and posting either late in the day or the next morning.


    The right to migrate trumps politics as usual:

    The granting of asylum does not fall within the usual logic of statecraft in which a policy is considered from the perspective of the political interests of a governing party, taking into account how it will play to popular prejudices, how it fits with internal party disputes, its consistency with budgetary and other manifesto promises, its influence on the viability of other policies the government wants to pursue, and so on. None of these have standing in the face of the moral emergency of aiding refugees to regain their lives.

    DoubleQuote that with Pope Francis: Government workers have ‘human right’ to deny gay marriage licenses:

    It is the “human right” of government officials to say they cannot discharge duties that they believe go against their conscience, Pope Francis told reporters aboard the papal flight back to Rome on Monday.

    “I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection,” the pope told reporters on the plane. “But, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right.

    “And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right.”

    See also the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (my emphasis):

    On the most widely accepted account of civil disobedience, famously defended by John Rawls (1971), civil disobedience is a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies. On this account, people who engage in civil disobedience are willing to accept the legal consequences of their actions, as this shows their fidelity to the rule of law. Civil disobedience, given its place at the boundary of fidelity to law, is said to fall between legal protest, on the one hand, and conscientious refusal, revolutionary action, militant protest and organised forcible resistance, on the other hand.


    in the Remarks by His Majesty King Abdullah II at the 70th Plenary Session of the United Nations General Assembly, we find the following description of IS:

    I am here representing Jordan, and as a God-fearing, God-loving human being. I am here as a father who wants his children, like yours, to live in a compassionate and more peaceful world.

    Such a future is under serious threat from the khawarej, the outlaws of Islam that operate globally today. They target religious differences, hoping to kill cooperation and compassion among the billions of people, of all faiths and communities, who live side-by-side in our many countries. These outlaw gangs use suspicion and ignorance to expand their own power. Worse still is the free hand they grant themselves to distort the word of God to justify the most atrocious crimes.

    That phrase, the outlaws of Islam, nicely finesses the ongoing dispute as to whether IS should be termed “nothing to do with Islam” or “Islamic”.


    Three variants on the meaning of Man of War:

    The British Man of War, c 1750


    The Portuguese Man of War:


    GF Handel‘s The Lord is a Man of War, from his oratorio Israel in Egypt, 1739:


  • The British Man of War
  • The Portuguese Man of War
  • Handel’s Lord is a Man of War
  • Hm, that would have made a great post all by itself!


    Great Andreessen-style DoubleQuote:

    And that’s a really interesting nested question right about now, eh?

    Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists

    Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — what color does a chameleon turn in a hall of mirrors? ]



    There’s an interesting ascetic aesthetic in photography which prefers black and white to full spectrum color, but the black and white in question has a rich spectrum of its own, a continuum of shades of grey between black and white poles. Not so with black and white choices of the sort President Bush proposed when he said:

    Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.


    Some of the nuances to consider:

    David Kilcullen on this video at 48.55:

    A lot of families in Afghanistan have one son fighting with the government, and another son fighting with the Taliban. It’s a hedging strategy.


    In Syria, many families face a terrible dilemma

    In recent months I have noticed a trend of some families sending at least one of their children to join ISIL because that was the only way for them to generate an income in the family.


    And then this:

    U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Afghan Allies’ Abuse of Boys

    Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.



    Is the CIA undercounting civilian deaths from drone strikes?

    Determining the number of civilian casualties under such circumstances is a difficult task — even for the human rights groups that devote significant resources to doing so. If the CIA is simply counting zero civilians killed in operations where it can’t say for certain who the agency is even firing at, that doesn’t inspire much confidence in their numbers.
    assumed to be combatants.


    And then there’s the paradox, found even in scripture:

    The Synoptic Gospels attribute the following quote to Jesus of Nazareth: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30), as well as its contrapositive, “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:50; The Synoptic Gospels attribute the following quote to Jesus of Nazareth: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30), as well as its contrapositive, “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Luke 9:50; Mark 9:40)


    As I said at the top of this post —


    Planning and doing, mapping and going

    Monday, September 28th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — still catching up with unfinished posts — here, wicked problems & John Henry Newman ]

    I’ve just been re-reading Jeff Conklin‘s Wicked Problems and Social Complexity, which includes these two diagrams:


    — so I was struck by this tweet:


    There’s a similar sense of a jagged path in the final verse of Bl John Henry Newman‘s great hymn, The Pillar of the Cloud, better known by its first line, Lead, Kindly Light:

    So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
    Will lead me on,
    O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
    The night is gone;
    And with the morn those angel faces smile
    Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

    It is sung here at the Hyde Park vigil on the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI‘s visit to the United Kingdom, with a final verse added by an Anglican Bishop of Exeter, Edward Henry Bickersteth:


    The first two items appeal to my intellect, whereas Newman’s hymn can bring me to tears.

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