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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 thing about a carrier strike group and John Bolton

Friday, May 10th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — strategy / metacognition — here’s an easy to feel, hard to conceptualize notion: the threat to Iran is a human+carrier-group threat, not just a carrier-group threat, okay? ]
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The U.S. Navy’s Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group includes guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf, and missile destroyers USS Bainbridge, USS Gonzalez, USS Mason and USS Nitze. Photo by MCS3 Stephen Doyle

As the son of a captain RN, I can’t resist images like this:

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Aside:

Let me start by noting that MSNBC’s Richard Engel today mentioned that North Korea expresses varying levels of frustration by exploding underground nukes when “really, really angry” — and then in descending order firing off ICBMs and then short-range missiles — the stage we’re at this week, indicating “moderate displeasure — but why? — And Engel suggests the Kim regime is signalling that it “wants to get back to the bargaining table”..

So the firing of missiles, albeit into the Sea of Japan, an act of aggression on the face of it, and plausibly a bit of a threat — an example of “saber-rattling”, as Engel goes on to say — can carry a message of tghe wish to negotiate, if not for actual reconciliation.

I mention this merely to indicate that threat — along with such related categories as exercise, deployment, war-game, &c — is a polyvalent matter.

But that’s just to open our minds to the matter of The thing about a carrier strike group and John Bolton…

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Main point:

John Bolton just announced that the USS Abraham Lincoln was hastening to the Persian Gulf “to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force.”

That’s a threat.

Presumably, as far as Bolton is concerned, the threat in this case is the Lincoln strike group and accompanying bomber wing — the deployment of massive lethal force.

I don’t think that’s the threat — or to put it another way, I think that’s only half the threat, or more precisely, it’s y in the threat xy.

What I’m getting at is on the one hand patently obvious, and on the other, conceptually difficult to handle: that the threat is in fact John Bolton force-multiplying the carrier strike group..

John Bolton is a hawkish hawk — Trump himself said today with a laugh that he’s the one who has to “tempers” Bolton, rather than the other way around — Bolton, if I may say so, is somewhere between a rattling saber and a loose cannon. He may be in complete control of himself, full of sound and fury purely for effect, and far more cautious in purpose and action than he lets on. But his hawkishness is unpredictable, and it’s that unpredictable bellicosity — multiplied by the lethality of the carrier group — that constitutes the real thread.

It’s easy to feel that, particularly if you’re an Iranian honcho — but not so easy to think about it or discuss it strategically, because there’s no such conceptual category as a human-warforce hybrid.

We need that category.

Because the threat to Iran is a human-warship threat, not just a warship threat. And when the human is John Bolton — watch out!

Next up, a most miscellaneous miscellany

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Camerom — no longer spending much time scanning for chyrons, but there’s still plenty of interest in my feed — note the great quote from A Man for All Seasons ]
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Unbelievable!

From Trump’s 2020 campaign manager:

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Less bogus religion, more mundane reality:

Stunning: Clint Watts offers an “life imitating art imitating life” (and I quote) instance on Meet the Press — a short, sharp overview of how Putin trolls the US electorate with malicious intent:

That interview was shot a while back, but is worth revisiting today. Omn May 1st, Watts spoke of a “war game” and it was in searching (unsuccessfully) for that clip that I stumbled on this one.

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Let’s follow that up with a tweet-repeated ouroboros chaser:

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Somewhere I saw:

The flase narrative got out of the gate long before the truth did ..A tic-tac-toe pin for all of the games played by Mnuchin, Barr and Trump ..
impeachment is an explosive undertaking and can ricochet in all sorts of complicated directions ..
Mehdi Hasan: The Democrats bring a knife tom a gun-fight, the Republicans bring a rocket-launcher ..
Charlotte Alter: Buttegeig speaks Democratic with a Republican accent..
Mike Barnickle (re Biden): It’s hideously early in the campaign. I mean, it’s not even spring training, forget the exhibition games that have yet toi be played. It’s very early, so he’s got a big bounce from name recogmnition ..
Rick Wilson: It’s an interesting play (for Dems). I think if they camn draw the arc from nationalism to populism to statism to authoritarianism to Trumpism, they’ve got something there ..
Flannery: We have a crime syndicate in the west wing ..
I think they could have hammered him and sickled him to death ..*****

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I’ll not bother to load the video clips themselves, but for the record, here’s Trump inviting Russia to hack Hillary’s emails, and Hillary inviting China to hack Trump’s tax returns — a DoubleQuote, albeit an obvious one — structurally equivalent to a cinematic flashback. But here’s another DQ, just a little less obvious perhaps:

Chris Matthews, incidentally, is on a roll comparing William Barr‘s situation to that of Roper in A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. Thomas More reproves Roper for his infidelity with the words:

For Wales? Why Richard, it profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. . . but for Wales!

That’s the same Will Roper to whom More addresses his celebrated speech:

nd when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

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That William Safire-Barr business, from Cover-up Attorney General Bill Barr strikes again — one of those crucial rhymes:

Back in 1992, the last time Bill Barr was U.S. attorney general, iconic New York Times writer William Safire referred to him as “Coverup-General Barr” because of his role in burying evidence of then-President George H.W. Bush’s involvement in “Iraqgate” and “Iron-Contra.”

— and another Barr quote, from The Complicated Friendship of Robert Mueller and William Barr:

Figliuzzi described the dynamic between Mueller and Barr as one of “a boy scout” (Mueller) versus “a street fighter” (Barr). … “Mueller is a guy who plays by the rules, and he was playing by the rules in this report,” Figliuzzi told me. “He kind of trusts that the system will take care of itself, and he kicks his report over across the street to DOJ. That’s where things go south.”

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Another tweet:

Certainly a striking formulation, that — “Love, in public, is justice..” I heard that too, and had to chew on it, which is why I googled and found this tweet: the one thing this isn’t is conflict-avoidant.

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Okay, here’s a John Bolton triple:


Dexter Filkin
‘s a must-read — but his current NYorker piece leads us back to two other striking Bolton headers:

Bolton is hardly my favorite, but drawing the attention of Filkins, Gourevitch and Robin wright is surely a mark of honor of some kind.

Sources:

  • Dexter Filkins, John Bolton on the Warpath
  • Philip Gourevitch, What Is John Bolton’s Bully-Pulpit Attack Really About?
  • Robin Wright, John (“Bomb Iran”) Bolton, the New Warmonger in the White House
  • It’s snowing metaphoric chyrons, ignore unless interested 3

    Friday, February 15th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — further gleanings in the fields of MSNBC, my dialysis entertainment ]
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    Butterflies, no comment.

    Hoawk, ditto.

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    Feb 12 Nicolle:Wallace:

    Brand new reporting suggests that special counsel Robert Mueller may have evidence of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and that the investigation into a conspiracy or quid pro quo between Donald Trump campaign and the Russians is alive and kicking. Testimony from one of Miller’s top deputies delivered behind closed doors and in front of a judge in Paul Manafort’s case is akin to a unicorn sighting. It’s a rare transcript of a Mueller prosecutor describing in his own words one of the investigative theories around the question of conspiracy.

    Note reference to a unicorn sighting at top of that screen-grab

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    MTP 2/13/2019
    DJT: We haven’t gotten it yet, we’ll be getting it, we’ll be looking for landmines, because you could have that you know, it’s been known to happen to people ..
    ChuckT: The landmines he’s referring to aren’t real landmines in front of his wall, I think he’s meaning political poison pills {metaphor for metaphor!!] ..
    ChuckT: Kasey, it seems as though everyone is playing a little political kabuki theater here ..
    It’s a sort of security blanket, rhetorically ..
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    Melber 2/13/2019:
    42 Rep Hakeem Jeffries: While Paul Manafort and others who were formerly associated with the Trump campaign continue to play checkers, while Mueller is playing 3-dimensional chess ..
    45 Rep Hakeem Jeffries: This is an Ari Melber freestyle that I’m doing right now — appropriate on this show, by the way
    47-8 Rep Hakeem Jeffries: That’s not the Hakeem Jeffries playbook, that’s the James Madison playabook .. *****
    this was a split decision — if this was a boxing match ..
    54: you’re talking about a double back-flip ..
    56: he’s the quarter-back of the [] .. who’s calling the play? ..
    59 triangular (check this) ..
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    Hardball 2/13/2019:
    14: david corn: you have to believe there’s aa lot of nodding & winking going on in that [cigar room] meeting and afterwards ..
    what they [russians] mean by peace is they win, you lose ..
    32: Chris M: many of the President’s Republican allies — is that what you call them, allies? stooges sometimes ..
    I represent West Point: that’s $250m that’s been appropriated, not contracted — so when Kevin McCarthy talks about a tool in a toolbox, he’s talking about a hammer to smash the new science buildings for those cadets, their new dorms — that’s the next generation of military leaders ..
    36/7 it’s a game — it’s a game to hide a failure when he could have had a good deal earlier ..
    55 Up next, a Trojan Horse in the White House .. [see War Hawk chyron above] *****

    All In Chris Hayes 2/13/2019
    06: Why is Trump’s campaign chairman, the guy who’s quarterbacking his campaign, taking some time out to meet with Konstantin Kilimnik who, according to court papers, is somebody the FBI has identified is somebody associated with Russian intelligence .
    19-20 rep jeffries: .. a russian operation to affect or interfere ith our elections, and that was a full courtr press. But what we also see is that there was a full court press of human intelligence agents or people with connections to the Russian intelligence agencies, who were obviously targeting the Trump campaign to get something out of them ..
    35 barbara boxer: if this is the way he plays, he should take his marbles and go home ..
    36: he’s cruising for a bruising ..
    37: you [jim manley] said mcconnell was basically ready to go to war ..
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    Rachel Maddow 2/13/2019:

    In that case, the case of Mike Flynn and his abrted sentencing hearing, you might notice a little melody, a little tune that recurs, that is becoming sort of a theme song for all
    When we look at these cases, when we can now see, over time, with all of these cases and all these dozens of indictments and dozens of
    .defendants, we can now see a little bit of a recurring melody, a little theme that you can recognize in how judges react when they hear about, when they see evidence about the alleged or confessed crimes of the people who have been caught up thus far in this investigation ..
    We also see that tune, all over today’s news, in multiple cases ..
    That same theme, that same little melody seems to be applying when it comes to the new case of Roger Stone tune ..
    But in the middle of all these things, the theme, the melody, is not quite recognizable. I mean, who has won, going up against the Mueller investigation ir any of the related prosecutions?
    That theme, which we can hear is running threrough all of these different cases and all of these different stories that bre in today’s news, is its loudest and clearest tonight when it comes to the President’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort ..

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    Bryan Williams 2/13/2019:
    Is it fair to cast this in Hannah-Barbera terms and say that the folks on Capitol Hill are anxious to maybe just gently pull the pin out of this grenade, get it passed, and toss it down Pennsylvania Avenue?
    You really need to go for this .. to the mat ..
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    Nicolle Wallace 2/14/2019:

    Because being at war with Nancy Pelosin will feel like a walk innthe park compared to the subversive, quiet, silent, sneak attacks from Senate Republicans. I mean, Nancy Pelosi is a master tactician, a master strategist, and a brilliant public sort of leader band general of her troops. Mitch McCaonnell is, sort of, plays cloak-and-dagger, and this White House won’t see his attacks coming ..

    Velshi & Ruhle 2/14/2019:

    All we can try and do is to ride the bucking bronco of change as it happens .. *****

    Pelosi 2/14/2019?:

    The President making an end-run around Congress ..

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    Two Bolton tweets:

    Of Note: Tim Furnish, & Trump’s National CT Strategy

    Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — and a few ppl whose views on trump’s strategy document I’d also like to read ]
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  • Tim Furnish, Trump’s New Counter-terrorism Strategy: The One-Eyed Man is Still King
  • Trump, 2018, National Strategy for Counterterrorism
  • Obama, 2011, National Strategy for Counterterrorism
  • Tim Furnish, Sectsploitation: How to Win Hearts and Minds in the Islamic World
  • **

    I wanted to draw your attention to our blog-friend and sometime contributor Tim Furnish‘s post, which offers a lucid introduction to the Trump administration’s National CT Strategy paper, situating it in contrast to the Obama admin’s version, and linking it to a very helpful breakdown of what we might call (remembering William James, but in mostly lower case) the varieties of Islamic experience.

    Let me just say that from my POV:

    1) Tim Furnish has a way superior understanding of the said varieties than John Bolton ever will have — plus he has a taste for pop culture asides!

    2) that the key issue to be further explored could be expressed in terms of the overlaps, Venn diagram-wise, between “literalist”, “mainstream” and “authentic” Islams.

    That’s a project I’ve been circling for more than a decade, and the closer I get, the more subtleties arise to be considered. Still circling in..

    Thomas Hegghammer, JM Berger, Leah Farrall, Adam Elkus, Will McCants and John Horgan are others whose varied voices and opinions regaarding the new CT Strategy text I’ll be watching for.

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    Tim’s essay and associated matters: Warmly recommended.

    Zen — pray chime in.


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