[ by Charles Cameron — behold Abraham Lincoln of the USN sending a signal to Iran, the IRGC, and various Shia militias of dubious reliability ]
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
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..
[ 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? ]
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:
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…
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!
[ by Charles Cameron — inter alia, a micro-essay on the Passions of Christ and Hussain, and AOC feeling “physically ripped apart” by the effects of her recent fame ]
How can I resist a title like Passsion Plays?
Okay, that sent me on my way..
I was at Oberammergau, age seven, in 1950:
And besides, in 1971 I witnessed a troupe of flagellant youths, very disciplined, inside the circular road that surrounds the shrine of the Imam Reza in Mashhad, Iran. They may well have been celebrating Ashura, the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar, commemorating the martyrdom of Hussein and his offspring at Karbala — a celebration often accompanied, though I did not see one myself, by one or more Ta’zieh or Passion Plays.
Memorializing the massacre of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet and a highly venerated figure in Shi’ite tradition along with his three hundred or so companions, is indeed a grievous matter, comparable — for comparative religious, cultural anthropological and depth psychological purposes, my purposes — to the Passion of Christ as memorialized in the Catholic Stations of the Cross — it is said that one tear shed for Hussein washes away a hundred sins.
The devotional mind-and-heart — may we call it soul, to give that word a less diffuse meaning? — the devotional soul finds in grief plumbed to its depths an antechamber to the heights of joy. This we find in Oberammergau‘s celebration of Christ‘s final week in Jerusalem, his Last Supper, his agony in the garden, his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension… and likewise in the spirituality of the passion of Hussain. Let me quote from an earlier post of mine, Ashura: the Passion of Husayn:
Annemarie Schimmel, the great Harvard scholar of Islamic mysticism, has a fine essay on the poetry of Ashura, encompassing both Sunni and (strongly Shia-influenced) Sufi traditions, Karbala and the Imam Husayn in Persian and Indo-Muslim literature. The mindset is very different from contemporary secular westernism, seeing death itself — and the grief that accompanies it — as a prelude to resurrection, and thus part of the timeless love-play of God with those who love him:
In having his beloved suffer, the divine Beloved seems to show his coquetry, trying and examining their faith and love, and thus even the most cruel manifestations of the battle in which the ‘youthful heroes’, as Shah Latif calls them, are enmeshed, are signs of divine love.
The earth trembles, shakes; the skies are in uproar;
This is not a war, this is the manifestation of Love.
The poet knows that affliction is a special gift for the friends of God, Those who are afflicted most are the prophets, then the saints, then the others in degrees’, and so he continues:
The Friend kills the darlings, the lovers are slain,
For the elect friends He prepares difficulties.
God, the Eternal, without need what He wants, He
That is not by any means the spirit of Larissa MacFarquhar‘s New Yorker piece, Passion Plays: The making of Edward Albee — but it’s the spirit of passion plays as best I can understand it, drawing on my first and fourth decades of life, and on both Catholic Christianity and Shi’ite Islam.
If we are to understand grief — both passionate and compassionate — we might care to ponder such matters.
How’s that for a mini-essay, as promised?
Nicolle Wallace 3/12/2019:
Guy needs a new stump speech. Democrats effectively check-mating Republicans in Congress by saying, We will only move toward impeachment if there’s evidence of criminal conduct, and practically daring the GOP to say they’s let crimes committed by the President slide…
We’re spending so much time trying to decide whether what we have seen publicly reported that may be 5% of what Bob Mueller has, is enough to impeach, is enough to charge somebody with obstruction, with a cover-up, I mean, that’s like sitting here and talking about whether after the first inning of the baseball game, we can predict with 100% confidence which team will win [..]
So for us to debate whether we have enough to begin impeachment proceedings, whether we might have enough to bring a criminal charge against the President or his family members is really folly, it’s folly that we enjoy, and it’s important … but you know, this is still the first inning, with respect to this game, and it may go into extra innings before we know who wins and who loses ..
I think he’s done a remarkable job of holding his cards tight to the vest, his office doesn’t leak, much to our frustration, we do not know things until he’s ready for us to know them, and it’s very possible that just when he finally shows those cards, he has a lot of things there that we don’t know anything about.
And on top of all of that, the, heh, out of control, spinning carousel of scandal around this President is about to enter one of its most kinetic and dramatic periods yet ..
And on top of all of that, authorities in New York State, interestingly, in both the legislature and in law enforcement, in the Attorney General’s office, they have started, today, to turn their own state-level law enforcement resources on this President and his business, and they’re starting to do it like they’ve got him in a tractor beam.
Alec MacGillis, The Tragedy of Baltimore Since Freddie Gray’s death in 2015, violent crime has spiked to levels unseen for a quarter century. How order collapsed in an American city.
In Baltimore, you can tell a lot about the politics of the person you’re talking with by the word he or she uses to describe the events of April 27, 2015. Some people, and most media outlets, call them the “riots”; some the “unrest.” Guy was among those who always referred to them as the “uprising,” a word that connoted something justifiable and positive: the first step, however tumultuous, toward a freer and fairer city.
Ocasio-Cortez admits that the sudden fame has been disorienting. “At first, it was really, really, really hard. I felt like I was being physically ripped apart in those first two to three months,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
If our toes were our fingers, everyone would instantly notice the difference..
— accompanied by various shortt clips of feet serving various functions of hands, see above.
I’ll talk about fingers and toes, okay, if you’ll tell me about Pyongyang and Tehran, deal?
This is the first ad — or for that matter, mass media mention — I’ve seen of the hands / feet comparison, and that’s significant in itself because, along with day / night, sun / moon, fingers / toes must be one of the earlier comparisons on which we base all future comparisons / parallelisms / oppositions, and thus analogies, and by extension, metaphors.
Fingers and toes, then, are an early matrix for us, but that matrix gets abstracted into the decimal counting system, no small matter in our culture and many others. And from decimals we can go to the Dewey Decimal System used in, Wiki informs us, 200,000 libraries in at least 135 countries — and that’s just one of the branches of the tree whose roots are in fingers and toes — our fingers and toes, not the toes of a three-toed sloth or woodpecker…
And of course, the day / night, sun / moon and other dual contrasts arguably derive some of their power from the duality hands / feet, which also gives us left / right, sinister / right, right / wrong and the entire range of moral judgments, based on the two sides of the body and extrapolated from there. We seldom think of these things, unless perhaps in early education, but as Jung and others have noted, they hold great significance for psychology and cultural anthropology.
Using decimals, we can represent irrational numbers — impossible to represent as fractions, pi and the square root of minus one foremost among them — a notion so disturbing tto the purist Pythagoreans that Tobias Dantzig, in Number: the Language of Science, quotes Proclus as saying:
It is told that those who first brought out the irrationals from concealment into the open perished in shipwreck, to a man. For the unutterable and the formless must needs be concealed. And those who uncovered and touched this image of life were instantly destroyed and shall remain forever exposed to the play of the eternal waves.
Irrational, or just plain crazy? And those waves — a metaphor for randomness, chaos, or for the universality (via Fourier transforms) of the sine wave?
Oh. And when a zen master wants to set a student a problem that cannot be solved by our binarily inclined minds, he gives them the koan “what’s the sound of one hand clapping?”
Okay, that’s enough about about hands / feet — now let’s hear about the Pyongyang summit and the Iranian nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. I’m sure you have plenty of thoughts on the matter — your turn, please..
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