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The Ping-Pong Possibility

Monday, January 6th, 2020

[ by Charles Cameron — Soleimani’s death prospects — does my title sound like the title of a Ludlum novel? Good! ]
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I’ll do this all, or mostly, in tweets — things are happening fast enough that just watching my twitter stream is keeping me pretty busy.

Okay: there’s a whole lot of mirroring going on. Commenting on the assassination of IRGC commander Qassem Soleimani, President Trump tweeted:

Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have…..

….targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!

To which a senior IRGC officer just responded:

“If [US President Donald] Trump retaliates to Iran’s revenge, we will strike Haifa, Tel Aviv and wipe out Israel,” said Mohsen Rezaei.

About Mohsen Rezaee.

In both cases, we have threats, which we might say fall half-way between words and deeds, and which may also be pure bluster. It’s a thriller, to be sure, given President Trump‘s propensity to exaggerate in both speech and action.

More mirroring, as commentator Wajahat Ali tweets:

Trump promises to blast 52 Iranian sites for the 52 American hostages held over 40 years ago. Does Iran respond by threatening 53 US sites for the US backed coup of Iran’s democratically elected leader Mossadegh in 1953?

On the other hand, as Evan Kohlmann teeeted, there are more reasoned voices on the Iranian side

Iranian military official Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan: “We will not enter into an all-out war with America under any circumstances and we will respond appropriately to the U.S. strike. Iran’s response will be based on wisdom and reason and will be deterrent and influential.”

No mirroring there — no ping-pong, no tit-for-tat, just restraint — an “appropriate” and “restrained” response.

And breaking symmetry completely

Former Ambassador John Limbert, one of the 52 Americans taken hostage by Iran in 1979, says “I for one want no part of the president’s posturing about Iran.”

**

As Jenan Moussa tweeted:

:Expelling American troops from Iraq was a main objective for #Soleimani.

Cynically what Soleimani couldn’t achieve in life, he might well achieve it by his death.

Iraqi lawmakers have indeed voted for US troops to be expelled from Iraq.

But look, there’s more going on there — there’s death mirroring life. And if you’ll take a moment to break from national security concerns, death mirroring life is precisely what Jean Cocteau shows us in his great film Orphée:

Cocteau’s porophetic. There’s more death mirroring life in this quote from Soleimani himself, as reported in this tweet from the FARS news agency, August 2015:

“Soleimani has taught us that death is the beginning of life, not the end of life,” one militia commander said.

And that may be the wisest mirroring comment of all.. though Soleimani surely intended it in the context of that other quote I cited yesterday:

The war-front is mankind’s lost paradise. One type of paradise that is portrayed for mankind is streams, beautiful nymphs and greeneries. But there is another kind of paradise. … The war-front was the lost paradise of the human beings, indeed.

Mirrorings found, but paradise lost, I fear — not Soleimani‘s war-front, but its mirror-image, the paradise of hoped for Middle Eastern peace. That’s a mirror undone, when you consider the letter from Soleimani to the Iraqi PM that Brasco Aad tweets about:

raqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi: “Hadj Soleimani was in Baghdad at my invitation. He was scheduled to visit me and carried a letter with him from the Iranian leadership on how to de-escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.”

**

Okay, further reading:

  • New Yorker, Where Will U.S.-Iran Tensions Play Out? An Interview with Iraq’s President
  • Orchids and Butterflies

    Monday, September 30th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — just passing along what the New Yorker passed my way this last week ]
    .

    The New Yorker‘s regular emails pointing to past stories offered up a pair of very interesting writings this last week:

    The first is the piece by Susan Orlean which was later developed into her book, The Orchid Thief, and again by Charlie Kaufman into the script for the Spike Jonze film, Adaptation. Just the screenplay would be enough to capture my interest, for its inherent ouroboros:

    I’ve written myself into my screenplay.
    That’s kind of weird, huh?

    But that’s my obsession, far less erotic than orchids, I concede.

    **

    The second is Vladimir Nabokov‘s account of his own obsession, you might call it, with butterflies:

    **

    Here are the pieces — enjoy reading!!:

  • Susan Orlean, Orchid Fever
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Butterflies

  • Elif Batuman, Vladimir Nabokov, Butterfly Illustrator
  • Potent possible parallelisms?

    Friday, September 13th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — you know I’m fascinated by parallelisms and analogies — here are some I’ve noticed recently — enough for three fine posts, and you get three in one ! ]
    .

    Parallelisms of interest that have surfaced in my reading recently include:

  • between Trump speeches and the Crusius El Paso manifesto
  • between Trump’s and Hitler’s uses of language
  • between AQ’s Sami al-Uraydi and French revolutionary Saint-Just
  • between ISIS strategy and use of social media and western Neo-Nazi terrorism
  • between Christchurch and El Paso
  • between the Gildead of Margaret Atwood and the Family of Jeff Sharlet
  • between the Family of Jeff Sharlet and the Muslim Brotherhood
  • between 11 Sept 2001, NYT, and 11 Sept 1683, Vienna
  • oh, and on a different note altogether, there’s:

  • between the arts of architecture and cartooning
  • **

    El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language:

    At campaign rallies before last year’s midterm elections, President Trump repeatedly warned that America was under attack by immigrants heading for the border. “You look at what is marching up, that is an invasion!” he declared at one rally. “That is an invasion!”

    Nine months later, a 21-year-old white man is accused of opening fire in a Walmart in El Paso, killing 20 people and injuring dozens more after writing a manifesto railing against immigration and announcing that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

    Sources:

  • NY Times, El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language<
  • Intercept, After El Paso, We Can No Longer Ignore Trump’s Role
  • **

    A professor of German history explains the true horror of Trump’s response to Charlottesville

    We haven’t had a Reichstag blaze, nor a Kristallnachtnot even close!!! — still, if we consider rhetoric alone, there’s food for thought:

    “You look at what is marching up, that is an invasion!” he declared at one rally. “That is an invasion!”

    Nine months later, a 21-year-old white man is accused of opening fire in a Walmart in El Paso, killing 20 people and injuring dozens more after writing a manifesto railing against immigration and announcing that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

    Source:

  • RawStory, A professor .. explains the true horror of Trump’s response to Charlottesville
  • **

    Here’s a nice one observed by jihad-scholar Cole Bunzel:

    Looks good, though one wonders whether the parallelism comes from the translator’s memory-store rather than al-Uraydi‘s?

    Wikipedia quotes St-Just thus:

    Those who make revolutions by halves do nothing but dig their own tombs.

    and gives the date as January 1793 and the source as Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 414.

    **

    Here’s the Stratfor analysis:

  • Stratfor, What White Supremacism and Jihadism Have in Common
    .
    Like jihadism, the various ideologies driving white supremacism are not going away any time soon, and comparing the two can provide valuable lessons for understanding the ongoing threat. [ more.. ]

  • I’ll have a separate post on whether white supremacists as well as jihadists should be classified as terrorists — a matter on which opinions are divided..

    The other piece referenced in the DoubleQuote above:

  • Rantt, White Supremacist Terrorists Operate Like ISIS, Trump Shrugs
  • And here’s an impressive, alternative contrast by Tim Furnish:

  • Stream, White Terrorists vs. the Sultans of Slaughter
  • **

    There’s something akin to a waterfall of manifestos on the supremacist, arguably starting with Breivik, and thence to Christchurch and El Paso:

  • WaPo, Christchurch endures as extremist touchstone
    .
    In the days after a gunman killed 51 people in March at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, analysts warned the attack could become a rallying point for extremists.

    It was a high-casualty attack, intended to be imitated by others, live-streamed on social media, accompanied by the release of a white supremacist manifesto decrying immigration and immigrants.

    On Saturday, a similar manifesto appeared online, with similar grievances. The author opened by expressing “support” for “the Christchurch shooter.” Within minutes, a gunman opened fire at a shopping center in El Paso, killing 20..

  • The second quote in this above DoubleQuote says what it needs to say in the subtitle: “the more oxygen these manifestos get…”.

    Onwards. Here’s a rather more disturbing aspect of the El Paso > Christchurch parallelism:

  • WaPo. Two mass killings a world apart share a common theme: ‘ecofascism’
    .
    Before the slaughter of dozens of people in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso this year, the accused gunmen took pains to explain their fury, including their hatred of immigrants. The statements that authorities think the men posted online share another obsession: overpopulation and environmental degradation.

    The alleged Christchurch shooter, who is charged with targeting Muslims and killing 51 people in March, declared himself an “eco-fascist” and railed about immigrants’ birthrates. The statement linked to the El Paso shooter, who is charged with killing 22 people in a shopping area this month, bemoans water pollution, plastic waste and an American consumer culture that is “creating a massive burden for future generations.”

    The two mass shootings appear to be extreme examples of ecofascism — what Hampshire College professor emerita Betsy Hartmann calls “the greening of hate.”

  • **

    On the existence of “so much similarities between the family and Muslim Brotherhood: praying groups“<:

    OK dear friend I have done a full thread to that in Arabic. I’ll try to make it in English:

    First major similarity is the refusal to be organised with official presence. The founder and up tell now calling it “Al-gama’a”… And they call each other “Brother”..

    [ thread ]

    **

    The Family: More Gilead than Godly:

    In both Gilead and Virginia, men in inner circles have been anointed by God to lead. Conversely, those women chosen to be of service remain in the background where they respond to these godly guys’ commands with a heavenly “blessed be.”

    **

    A stunner:

    Here’s from the London Review of Books review of Lawrence Wright‘s The Looming Tower:

    Wright offers the sense among the jihadis that America was the centre of Christianity, and that the Christian world had been winning the battle of faiths since the Islamic host began to be beaten back from the gates of Vienna on 11 September 1683.

    I’d be interested if anyone has evidence connecting 2001 to 1683 in the mind of UBL

    Timothy McVeigh, after all, timed the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City to coincide with the date set for the execution of Richard Snell, who had earlier plotted to blow up the same building, also the date of the final holocaust of the Branch Davidians in Waco two years earlier, the 220th anniversary of the Battle of Lexington and Concord — the “shot heard ’round the world” –and the start of the FBI’s siege of the Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord compound in 1985. Quite an impressive concatenation of anniversaries!

    Anniversary dating, indeed, is not solely a white nationalist phenomenon. According to Hussain S. Zaidi‘s Black Friday: The True Story of the Bombay Bomb Blasts, the principal suspect in the 1993 bombings, Tiger Memon says:

    Friday, 12 March, is the seventeenth day of Ramazan. It will be the day when the Holy Prophet fought the first battle of Junge-Badr against the heathens of Mecca and forced them to retreat. The auspicious date will help us achieve success.

    Or as Anuraga Kashyap‘s film Black Friday has it:

    Tiger‘s memory reaches back to 624 CE.

    **

    And for a sunnier thought..

    Here’s a parallelism between architecture and cartooning, courtesy of Bill Benzon:

    Scotland, Wales, Ouroboroi and DoubleQuotes

    Thursday, September 12th, 2019

    [ By Charles Cameron — a sprinkling of intriguing pieces ]
    .

    Wales:

    That’s a comparison, by Chris Roberts — Brexit Party rally [left] vs Welsh independence rally [right].

    A fine DoubleQuote in images, and rich food for thought.

    **

    Scotland:

    Advisers to the Scottish government recommended canceling protections enjoyed by wandering sand dunes in Aberdeenshire

    Sand dunes as an endangered species? — again, food for thought!

    Indeed:

    **

    Wordage:

    On the topic of words, these came up in a discussion on Twitter: fict, fact, fuct — the latter from Ali Minai, for a statement claimed to be factual by Trump — and fiction, faction, faketion — the latter from Cynthia, for a fiction Trump claims is true?

    **

    Strategy:

    “Even Frederick II of Prussia, who was in the enviable position of being strategic thinker, supreme decision maker and commander-in-chief in one, could not implement the Strategy of short, sharp wars that he himself thought most desirable.”

    That’s from Beatrice Heuser, The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present, via PR Beckman posts it..

    **

    Now, how about a couple of ouroboroi?

    I hope a school child did this one, not a too-clever adult..

    And:

    That’s from the film Mississippi Grind. The character cries, “It’s a sign, it’s a sign.”

    I told you ouroboroi were significant signifiers.

    Border crossing: Mexican folk religion, meet American pop culture

    Monday, August 5th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — this should really be a Sunday Surprise, but you probably won’t see it till Monday, so why not wait and post it in the morning? ]
    .

    A DoubleTweet killer: The Mexican cult of the skeletal sacred, Mictecacihuatl or Santa Muerte depending what century you’re looking at:

    :

    **

    Saint Death, to whom one might pray, or Holy Death, which one might pray for, with an implied positive afterlife — Santa Muerte can be translated, or understood, either way, or perhaps better, both.

    The idea that that Titanic ending love-image can be translated into a muerte santa tableau illustrates the imaginative power of the santissima muerte tradition — liebestod, lovedeath, if you love Wagner — or in Hilaire Belloc‘s version of Tristan and Isolde:

    My lords, if you would hear a high tale of love and of death, here is that of Tristan and Queen Iseult; how to their full joy, but to their sorrow also, they loved each other, and how at last they died of that love together upon one day; she by him and he by her.

    **

    Wagner, Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde, sung by the impressive Nina Stemme, and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by (I believe) my nephew Daniel Harding:


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