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Vlahos: violence is the magical substance of civil war

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — Vlahos is a mighty analyst warrior poet –used to teach at the Naval War College and Johns Hopkins Advanced Academic Programs, and I wouldn’t mind at all if the poet came towards the fore in some future works ]
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Here’s the key sentence from Michael Vlahos, Civil War Begins When the Constitutional Order Breaks Down — staggering title, that — published November 4 2019:

Violence is the magical substance of civil war.

You might think magic is nothing, a whisp of imagination good for fantasy novels with hair and silks trailing in the wind — but Ferdinando Buscema, the Institute for the Future‘s New Magician in Residence would disagree, the erudite >Erik Davis too, Hannibal Lecter, and Ioan Couliano, author of Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, as would Dumbledore, Gandalf and Merlin, and notably the poet and practicing magician WB Yeats, and before him Queen Elizabeth‘s Dr Dee — but that’s far enough back, King Arthur‘s Merlin and Queen Elizabeth‘s Dr Dee between them should give you pause for thought.

Magic is imagination. And imagination is power.

Shakespeare‘s Prospero:

It was mine Art..

**

Michael Vlahos is not unaware of the power of imagination, or morale as it is often, shape-shifting as is its wont, called on the field of battle. Indeed, Vlahos has written brilliantly about the magical properties of dreams, discussing UBL‘s dreams before 9/11 in Terror’s Mask: Insurgency Within Islam:

Usama bin Laden: “He told me a year ago: ‘I saw in a dream, we were playing a soccer game against the Americans. When our team showed up in the field, there were all pilots!’ He didn’t know anything about the operations until he heard it on the radio. He said the game went on and we defeated them. That was a good omen for us.”

Shaykh: “May Allah be blessed!”

Usama bin Laden: “Abd Rahman al-Ghamri said he saw a vision, before the operation, a plane crashed into a tall building. He knew nothing about it.”

Shaykh: “May Allah be blessed!”

You remember those dreams? What’s stirring in the unconscious is always potent as motive.

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Vlahos, therefore, on violence as the necessary in civil war:

Violence is the magical substance of civil war. If, by definition, political groups in opposition have also abandoned the legitimacy of the old order, then a successor constitutional order with working politics cannot be birthed without violence. Hence violence is the only force that can bring about a new order. This is why all memorable civil wars, and all parties, enthusiastically embrace violence.

Think on that, in our present context, or read his whole article — and one that preceded it:

  • Michael Vlahos, Were Americans Made for Civil War?
  • Eve of Destruction, eighteen years ago today

    Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron ]
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    A quick reminder.

    It’s the title of Barry McGuire’s song, not it’s Vietnam era, nuke, and Jordan River contents, that concerns us here, reminding us that eighteen years ago to the day was the Eve of Destruction of the Twin Towers in NYC — an infant born eighteen years ago tomorrow would tomorrow be eligible for military service without seeking parental consent.

    **

    What a choice: to jump to one’s death, or burn alive in a kamikaze’d building.

    **

    McGuire‘s song.

    Usama bin Laden is long gone, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried, if he still lives, in 2021.

    We remember the fallen, and honor our first responders and all who serve and save.

    Like father, like son

    Monday, March 18th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — a commonly-used rule / algo for one type of DoubleQuote, not always obeyed in practice, but on occasion it is.. and then some heart-led considerations ]
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    Each generation of the bin Laden family seems to have many sons, not all of whom turn to terrorism — nor should they be tainted needlessly with guilt by association:

    Compare:

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    The outcome of the chase for bin Laden père:

    and:

    **

    See also Osama bin Laden’s last message to his children:

    Osama bin Laden dead: I’m sorry for neglecting you – a final message to his 24 children

    The al-Qaeda leader also told his offspring not to join al-Qaeda and ordered his wives not to remarry. [ .. ]

    The instruction to his 24 children not to fight jihad cites a precedent from the Islamic texts. Omar bin al-Khattab, the successor of the Prophet Mohammad as Islam’s leader, also left written instructions to his son, Abdullah, not to wage holy war.

    Bin Laden Tells Children Not to Join al Qaeda:

    What does the will of a terrorist mastermind say? There are some surprises: Osama bin Laden apologizes to his children for neglecting them and instructs them not to join al Qaeda. The four-page document, published in a Kuwaiti newspaper, is focused on justifying bin Laden’s jihad against America and Israel and there is no mention of possessions. Bin Laden inherited an estimated $30 million fortune from his father. “You, my children, I apologize for giving you so little of my time because I responded to the need for jihad,” the will states. As justification for not having them join al Qaeda, bin Laden cites an Islamic text that instructs the Prophet Mohammad’s son to not to wage a holy war. As for his wives, they are instructed to “not consider” marrying again and instead focus on raising his children. The Kuwaiti paper says the will dates back to 2001.

    **

    Of great importance in thinking through the broader question of the children of jihad is Leah Farrall‘s series of posts, collected as Children, jihad, agency, and the state of counter terrorism

    :Below is a seven part series I wrote on a number of issues stemming from a twitter dispute I had with @CChristineFair over her labeling of bin Laden’s children as “terror spawn.” The series seeks to delve into the broader issues our dispute raised, such as the status of children born into jihad; agency and the difficulties of walking away. The series of posts can also be found on the blog, but owing to their length I thought it better to put them all in the one place. This was written on May 29, 2012.

    Read and ponder.

    What’s so significant here is heart.

    It’s snowing metaphoric chyrons, ignore unless interested 15

    Sunday, March 3rd, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — a bit of a hodge-podge, also known as an olla podrida — i hope you’ll find it tasty! ]
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    Headlines, no chyrons:

    You know, I think this is the first bazooka metaphor I’ve seen since I started looking:

    **

    Game, war-game and game theoretical references, as you know, are always of interest to me, but the addition of a nuclear component makes such references irresistible:

    Sample paragraph:

    As Trump sought to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons, enticing his young “friend” with visions of a disarmed North Korea as an “Economic Powerhouse,” India and Pakistan were trading blows in a case study of what conflict looks like when countries successfully obtain nuclear weapons despite international opposition.

    Latest on that:

  • BBC, Abhinandan: Crowds gather for Indian pilot’s release
  • Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said the pilot would be released as a “peace gesture” on Friday. India’s military welcomed the move.

    Ali Minai comments on FB:

    Not only the right and mature thing to do, but also a great tactical move. The Pakistan government- the PM, the opposition, and the military – have handled the situation with great skill – a benefit of “unified command and control”. Even the media in Pakistan has not gone completely nuts – though the same can’t be said for some of the Indian media. Both sides seem to have de-escalated, but it is too early to breathe a sigh of relief given Pakistan’s fragile economic state and the temptation of the electoral benefits of belligerence on the Indian side.

    **

    And then there’s this:

  • Small Wars Journal, US offers $1 million reward for information on Hamza bin Laden
  • There’s an obvious DQ there with his father’s wanted listing with a bounty on his head.

    **

    I thought this was an eye-catching description of doctrine, used as an epigraph to the UK Doctrine of War:

    I cam by it via a War on the Rocks piece, Mal Craghill‘s Thinking about thinking in the Royal Air Force, which pointed me to the UK Doctrine document. I syuspect that document may be worth a post exploring the conceptual and moral components of war (the physical component is not in my bailiwick), and in particular how the moral component and morale are related. TBD.

    **

    Back to politics, US:

  • WaPo, House Democrats exploded in recriminations

  • Fighting words, if that ain’t a contradiction in terms:

    House Democrats exploded in recriminations Thursday over moderates bucking the party, with liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatening to put those voting with Republicans “on a list” for a primary challenge.

    In a closed-door session, a frustrated Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at about two dozen moderates and pressured them to get on board. “We are either a team or we’re not, and we have to make that decision,” Pelosi said, according to two people present but not authorized to discuss the remarks publicly.

    But Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election.

    **

    That’s enough for now. I’ve a blizzard coming..

    Oh, the Trumpian DoubleQuotes I’ve missed!

    Friday, June 23rd, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — praise of Bruce Hoffman’s review of The Exile (ie Osama bin Laden) — interrupted by Trumpist verbal pyrotechnics ]
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    Saif al-Adel, key AQ operative

    **

    War on the Rocks has a tremendous review by Bruce Hoffman of Cathy Scott-Clark and Adrian Levy, The Exile: The Stunning Inside Story of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Flight, a must-read.

    Never mind that, I’ve been missing tremendous DoubleQuote opportunities, as I discover now I’ve seen Kathryn and Ross PetrasTrump’s Elements of Style in McSweeney’s. Consider some of my options:

    I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth.
    — interview, Sean Hannity, 4/13/16

    I think nobody knows more about taxes than I do, maybe in the history of the world. Nobody knows more about taxes.
    — interview, AP 5/13/16

    I know more about ISIS [the Islamic State militant group] than the generals do. Believe me.
    — speech, 11/12/15

    There is nobody who understands the horror of nuclear more than me.
    — speech, 6/15/16

    And then:

    I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks.
    — TALK1300 radio interview, 4/14/11

    I have a great relationship the Mexican people. I love them, they love me!
    — MSBNC interview, 7/8/15

    I have a great relationship with the people of Scotland and an unbelievably good relationship with the people of Aberdeen.
    — press conference 6/8/15

    And, for good measure, assuming you can stretch this far:

    What I like is build a safe zone in Syria. Build a big, beautiful safe zone, and you have whatever it is so people can live…
    — campaign rally, 2/13/17

    We’re going to have beautiful clean coal.
    — CPAC address, 2/24/16

    And then again:

    I have had tremendous success.
    — interview, ABC News, 7/30/16

    I am worth a tremendous amount of money
    — interview, CNN 6/26/15

    I have a tremendous income.
    — presidential debate, 9/26/16

    I pay tremendous numbers of taxes
    — presidential debate, 10/9/16

    I have to admit, those last four — besides being a tremendous source of potential DoubleQuotes — is and are beautifully consistent. But do yourself a favor, unless I’ve displeased you, and go read the whole of the McSweeney piece.

    **

    I believe I mentioned Bruce Hoffman’s review of The Exile for War on the Rocks? One among many items of interest in that book would appear to be the significant role played by Saif al-Adel (see illustration above). Hamid Gul and Qassem Suleimani likewise. A key para:

    This tale of Iranian connivance provides additional evidence debunking the popular misconception that extremists do not cooperate across sectarian lines. Rather, it demonstrates how when interests overlap, they have repeatedly shown a remarkable ability to cast aside their otherwise rigid differences to work together. The ancient proverb that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” has long characterized the shifting and sometimes inexplicable alliances formed across the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia since the war on terrorism commenced 16 years ago. In this instance, the intensity of the shared enmity between Salafi-Jihadi Sunnis and Shia militants against the United States can never be prudently forgotten.

    A tie strong enough to bind Sunni and Shia together — their joint hatred of America? For those of us who take a keen interest in religion and love America, that’s a notion that may take quite some time to digest.


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