Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘terrorism

Limits of Discourse: Discussion of Noam Chomsky and Sam Harris

For decades, Noam Chomsky has been one of the most prominent critics of U.S. foreign policy

The further left one travels along the political spectrum, the more one feels his influence. Although I agree with much of what Chomsky has said about the misuses of state power, I have long maintained that his political views, where the threat of global jihadism is concerned, produce dangerous delusions.

In response, I have been much criticized by those who believe that I haven’t given the great man his due.

Last week, I did my best to engineer a public conversation with Chomsky about the ethics of war, terrorism, state surveillance, and related topics.

As readers of the following email exchange will discover, I failed. I’ve decided to publish this private correspondence, with Chomsky’s permission, as a cautionary tale.

Clearly, he and I have drawn different lessons from what was an unpleasant and fruitless encounter. I will let readers draw lessons of their own.

–SH

April 26, 2015
From: Sam Harris
To: Noam Chomsky


Noam —

I reached out to you indirectly through Lawrence Krauss and Johann Hari and was planning to leave it at that, but a reader has now sent me a copy of an email exchange in which you were quite dismissive of the prospect of having a “debate” with me.

So I just wanted to clarify that, although I think we might disagree substantially about a few things, I am far more interested in exploring these disagreements, and clarifying any misunderstandings, than in having a conventional debate.

If you’d rather not have a public conversation with me, that’s fine. I can only say that we have many readers in common who would like to see us attempt to find some common ground.

The fact that you have called me “a religious fanatic” who “worships the religion of the state” makes me think that there are a few misconceptions I could clear up. And many readers insist that I am similarly off-the-mark where your views are concerned.

In any case, my offer stands, if you change your mind.

Best,
Sam

 

April 26, 2015
From: Noam Chomsky
To: Sam Harris

Perhaps I have some misconceptions about you.  Most of what I’ve read of yours is material that has been sent to me about my alleged views, which is completely false.  I don’t see any point in a public debate about misreadings.  If there are things you’d like to explore privately, fine.  But with sources.

 

April 26, 2015
From: Sam Harris
To: Noam Chomsky

Noam —

Thanks for getting back.

Before engaging on this topic, I’d like to encourage you to approach this exchange as though we were planning to publish it. As edifying as it might be to have you correct my misreading of you in private—it would be far better if you did this publicly.

It’s not a matter of having a “debate about misreadings”; it’s a matter of allowing our readers to see that conversation on difficult and polarizing topics can occasionally fulfill its ostensible purpose. If I have misread you, and you can show me where I’ve gone wrong, I would want my readers to see my views change in real time. (I doubt we can change our view in real time)

It would be far less desirable for me to simply report that you and I clarified a few things privately, and that I have now changed my mind about X, Y, and Z.

Beyond correcting our misreadings, I think we could have a very interesting conversation about the ethical issues surrounding war, terrorism, the surveillance state, and so forth. I’d be happy to do this entirely by email, or we could speak on the phone and have the audio transcribed.

In either case, you would be free to edit and refine your contributions prior to publication. My only request would be that you not go back and make such sweeping changes that I would have to totally revise my side of things.

While you’re thinking about that, I’d like to draw your attention to the only thing I have ever written about your work. The following passages appear in my first book, The End of Faith (2004), which was written in response to the events of 9/11.

Needless to say, the whole discussion betrays the urgency of that period as well as many of the failings of a first book. I hesitate to put it forward here, if for no other reason than that the tone is not one that I would have ever adopted in a direct exchange with you.

Nevertheless, if I’ve misrepresented your views in writing, this is the only place it could have happened. If we’re going to clarify misreadings, this would seem like a good place to start.

Best,
Sam
Leftist Unreason and the Strange Case of Noam Chomsky

Nevertheless, many people are now convinced that the attacks of September 11 say little about Islam and much about the sordid career of the West—in particular, about the failures of U.S. foreign policy. The French philosopher Jean Baudrillard gives these themes an especially luxuriant expression, declaring that terrorism is a necessary consequence of American “hegemony.” He goes so far as to suggest that we were secretly hoping that such devastation would be visited upon us:

At a pinch we can say that they did it, but we wished for it. . . . When global power monopolizes the situation to this extent, when there is such a formidable condensation of all functions in the technocratic machinery, and when no alternative form of thinking is allowed, what other way is there but a terroristic situational transfer.

It was the system itself which created the objective conditions for this brutal retaliation. . . This is terror against terror—there is no longer any ideology behind it. We are far beyond ideology and politics now. . . . As if the power bearing these towers suddenly lost all energy, all resilience; as though that arrogant power suddenly gave way under the pressure of too intense an effort: the effort always to be the unique world model.40

If one were feeling charitable, one might assume that something essential to these profundities got lost in translation. I think it far more likely, however, that it did not survive translation into French.

If Baudrillard had been obliged to live in Afghanistan under the Taliban, would he have thought that the horrible abridgments of his freedom were a matter of the United States’s “effort always to be the unique world model”?

Would the peculiar halftime entertainment at every soccer match—where suspected fornicators, adulterers, and thieves were regularly butchered in the dirt at centerfield—have struck him as the first rumblings of a “terroristic situational transfer”?

We may be beyond politics, but we are not in the least “beyond ideology” now. Ideology is all that our enemies have.41

And yet, thinkers far more sober than Baudrillard view the events of September 11 as a consequence of American foreign policy. Perhaps the foremost among them is Noam Chomsky.

In addition to making foundational contributions to linguistics and the psychology of language, Chomsky has been a persistent critic of U.S. foreign policy for over three decades. He has also managed to demonstrate a principal failing of the liberal critique of power.

He appears to be an exquisitely moral man whose political views prevent him from making the most basic moral distinctions—between types of violence, and the variety of human purposes that give rise to them.

In his book 9-11, with rubble of the World Trade Center still piled high and smoldering, Chomsky urged us not to forget that “the U.S. itself is a leading terrorist state.” (All surveys admit this premise)

In support of this claim he catalogs a number of American misdeeds, including the sanctions that the United States imposed upon Iraq, which led to the death of “maybe half a million children,” and the 1998 bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceuticals plant in Sudan, which may have set the stage for tens of thousands of innocent Sudanese to die of tuberculosis, malaria, and other treatable diseases.

Chomsky does not hesitate to draw moral equivalences here: “For the first time in modern history, Europe and its offshoots were subjected, on home soil, to the kind of atrocity that they routinely have carried out elsewhere.”42

Before pointing out just how wayward Chomsky’s thinking is on this subject, I would like to concede many of his points, since they have the virtue of being both generally important and irrelevant to the matter at hand.

There is no doubt that the United States has much to atone for, both domestically and abroad. In this respect, we can more or less swallow Chomsky’s thesis whole.

To produce this horrible confection at home, start with our genocidal treatment of the Native Americans, add a couple hundred years of slavery, along with our denial of entry to Jewish refugees fleeing the death camps of the Third Reich, stir in our collusion with a long list of modern despots and our subsequent disregard for their appalling human rights records, add our bombing of Cambodia and the Pentagon Papers to taste, and then top with our recent refusals to sign the Kyoto protocol for greenhouse emissions, to support any ban on land mines, and to submit ourselves to the rulings of the International Criminal Court. The result should smell of death, hypocrisy, and fresh brimstone.

We have surely done some terrible things in the past. Undoubtedly, we are poised to do terrible things in the future.

Nothing I have written in this book should be construed as a denial of these facts, or as defense of state practices that are manifestly abhorrent.

There may be much that Western powers, and the United States in particular, should pay reparations for. (With over $20 trillion in sovereign debt, the USA is blackmailing other States for reparation for defending their independence and sovereignty)

And our failure to acknowledge our misdeeds over the years has undermined our credibility in the international community. We can concede all of this, and even share Chomsky’s acute sense of outrage, while recognizing that his analysis of our current situation in the world is a masterpiece of moral blindness.

Take the bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceuticals plant: according to Chomsky, the atrocity of September 11 pales in comparison with that perpetrated by the Clinton administration in August 1998.

But let us now ask some very basic questions that Chomsky seems to have neglected to ask himself: What did the U.S. government think it was doing when it sent cruise missiles into Sudan? (Or lately into Syria?)

Destroying a chemical weapons site used by Al Qaeda. Did the Clinton administration intend to bring about the deaths of thousands of Sudanese children? No.

Was our goal to kill as many Sudanese as we could? No. Were we trying to kill anyone at all? Not unless we thought members of Al Qaeda would be at the Al-Shifa facility in the middle of the night. (You mean a very few Al Qaeda members?)

Asking these questions about Osama bin Laden and the nineteen hijackers puts us in a different moral universe entirely.

If we are inclined to follow Chomsky down the path of moral equivalence and ignore the role of human intentions, we can forget about the bombing of the Al-Shifa plant, because many of the things we did Not do in Sudan had even greater consequences.

What about all the money and food we simply never thought to give the Sudanese prior to 1998?

How many children did we kill (that is, not save) just by living in blissful ignorance of the conditions in Sudan?

Surely if we had all made it a priority to keep death out of Sudan for as long as possible, untold millions could have been saved from whatever it was that wound up killing them. We could have sent teams of well-intentioned men and women into Khartoum to ensure that the Sudanese wore their seatbelts.

Are we culpable for all the preventable injury and death that we did nothing to prevent? We may be, up to a point.

The philosopher Peter Unger has made a persuasive case that a single dollar spent on anything but the absolute essentials of our survival is a dollar that has some starving child’s blood on it.43 Perhaps we do have far more moral responsibility for the state of the world than most of us seem ready to contemplate. This is not Chomsky’s argument, however.

Arundhati Roy, a great admirer of Chomsky, has summed up his position very well:

[T]he U.S. government refuses to judge itself by the same moral standards by which it judges others. . . . Its technique is to position itself as the well-intentioned giant whose good deeds are confounded in strange countries by their scheming natives, whose markets it’s trying to free, whose societies it’s trying to modernize, whose women it’s trying to liberate, whose souls it’s trying to save. . . .

[T]he U.S. government has conferred upon itself the right and freedom to murder and exterminate people “for their own good.”44

But we are, in many respects, just such a “well-intentioned giant.” And it is rather astonishing that intelligent people, like Chomsky and Roy, fail to see this.

What we need to counter their arguments is a device that enables us to distinguish the morality of men like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein from that of George Bush and Tony Blair. It is not hard to imagine the properties of such a tool. We can call it “the perfect weapon.” (Like using weapons of mass destruction on Iraqi people)

Perfect Weapons and the Ethics of “Collateral Damage”

What we euphemistically describe as “collateral damage” in times of war is the direct result of limitations in the power and precision of our technology. (Bullshit)

To see that this is so, we need only imagine how any of our recent conflicts would have looked if we had possessed perfect weapons—weapons that allowed us either to temporarily impair or to kill a particular person, or group, at any distance, without harming others or their property.

What would we do with such technology? Pacifists would refuse to use it, despite the variety of monsters currently loose in the world: the killers and torturers of children, the genocidal sadists, the men who, for want of the right genes, the right upbringing, or the right ideas, cannot possibly be expected to live peacefully with the rest of us.

I will say a few things about pacifism in a later chapter—for it seems to me to be a deeply immoral position that comes to us swaddled in the dogma of highest moralism—but most of us are not pacifists.

Most of us would elect to use weapons of this sort. A moment’s thought reveals that a person’s use of such a weapon would offer a perfect window onto the soul of his ethics. (What is that crap again?)

Consider the all too facile comparisons that have recently been made between George Bush and Saddam Hussein (or Osama bin Laden, or Hitler, etc.)—in the pages of writers like Roy and Chomsky, in the Arab press, and in classrooms throughout the free world.

How would George Bush have prosecuted the recent war in Iraq with perfect weapons? Would he have targeted the thousands of Iraqi civilians who were maimed or killed by our bombs?

Would he have put out the eyes of little girls or torn the arms from their mothers?

Whether or not you admire the man’s politics—or the man—there is no reason to think that he would have sanctioned the injury or death of even a single innocent person.

What would Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden do with perfect weapons? What would Hitler have done? They would have used them rather differently.

It is time for us to admit that not all cultures are at the same stage of moral development. (They didn’t develop nasty weapons in order to confront USA ethical challenges)

This is a radically impolitic thing to say, of course, but it seems as objectively true as saying that not all societies have equal material resources. We might even conceive of our moral differences in just these terms: not all societies have the same degree of moral wealth. (You mean Moral Entities as in multinationals?)

Many things contribute to such an endowment. Political and economic stability, literacy, a modicum of social equality—where such things are lacking, people tend to find many compelling reasons to treat one another rather badly.

Our recent history offers much evidence of our own development on these fronts, and a corresponding change in our morality. A visit to New York in the summer of 1863 would have found the streets ruled by roving gangs of thugs; blacks, where not owned outright by white slaveholders, were regularly lynched and burned.

Is there any doubt that many New Yorkers of the nineteenth century were barbarians by our present standards?

To say of another culture that it lags a hundred and fifty years behind our own in social development is a terrible criticism indeed, given how far we’ve come in that time.

Now imagine the benighted Americans of 1863 coming to possess chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. This is more or less the situation we confront in much of the developing world. (Exported by the developed colonial powers?)

Consider the horrors that Americans perpetrated as recently as 1968, at My Lai:

Early in the morning the soldiers were landed in the village by helicopter. Many were firing as they spread out, killing both people and animals. There was no sign of the Vietcong battalion and no shot was fired at Charlie Company all day, but they carried on. They burnt down every house. They raped women and girls and then killed them.

They stabbed some women in the vagina and disemboweled others, or cut off their hands or scalps. Pregnant women had their stomachs slashed open and were left to die. There were gang rapes and killings by shooting or with bayonets.

There were mass executions. Dozens of people at a time, including old men, women and children, were machine-gunned in a ditch. In four hours nearly 500 villagers were killed.45

This is about as bad as human beings are capable of behaving. But what distinguishes us from many of our enemies is that this indiscriminate violence appalls us. (Because a few media displayed and covered the story?)

The massacre at My Lai is remembered as a signature moment of shame for the American military. Even at the time, U.S. soldiers were dumbstruck with horror by the behavior of their comrades.

One helicopter pilot who arrived on the scene ordered his subordinates to use their machine guns against their own troops if they would not stop killing villagers.46 As a culture, we have clearly outgrown our tolerance for the deliberate torture and murder of innocents. (What about Guantanamo torture and detained people in other countries by order of the US administration?)

We would do well to realize that much of the world has not.

Wherever there are facts of any kind to be known, one thing is certain: not all people will discover them at the same time or understand them equally well. Conceding this leaves but a short step to hierarchical thinking of a sort that is at present inadmissible in most liberal discourse.

Wherever there are right and wrong answers to important questions, there will be better or worse ways to get those answers, and better or worse ways to put them to use. Take child rearing as an example: How can we keep children free from disease?

How can we raise them to be happy and responsible members of society? There are undoubtedly both good and bad answers to questions of this sort, and not all belief systems and cultural practices will be equally suited to bringing the good ones to light.

This is not to say that there will always be only one right answer to every question, or a single, best way to reach every specific goal. But given the inescapable specificity of our world, the range of optimal solutions to any problem will generally be quite limited.

While there might not be one best food to eat, we cannot eat stones—and any culture that would make stone eating a virtue, or a religious precept, will suffer mightily for want of nourishment (and teeth).

It is inevitable, therefore, that some approaches to politics, economics, science, and even spirituality and ethics will be objectively better than their competitors (by any measure of “better” we might wish to adopt), and gradations here will translate into very real differences in human happiness.

Any systematic approach to ethics, or to understanding the necessary underpinnings of a civil society, will find many Muslims standing eye deep in the red barbarity of the fourteenth century. (And what of the 1,000 years they shined civilization to Europe?)

There are undoubtedly historical and cultural reasons for this, and enough blame to go around, but we should not ignore the fact that we must now confront whole societies whose moral and political development—in their treatment of women and children, in their prosecution of war, in their approach to criminal justice, and in their very intuitions about what constitutes cruelty—lags behind our own.

This may seem like an unscientific and potentially racist thing to say, but it is neither. It is not in the least racist, since it is not at all likely that there are biological reasons for the disparities here, and it is unscientific only because science has not yet addressed the moral sphere in a systematic way.

Come back in a hundred years, and if we haven’t returned to living in caves and killing one another with clubs, we will have some scientifically astute things to say about ethics.

Any honest witness to current events will realize that there is no moral equivalence between the kind of force civilized democracies project in the world, warts and all, and the internecine violence that is perpetrated by Muslim militants, or indeed by Muslim governments. Chomsky seems to think that the disparity either does not exist or runs the other way.

Consider the recent conflict in Iraq: If the situation had been reversed, what are the chances that the Iraqi Republican Guard, attempting to execute a regime change on the Potomac, would have taken the same degree of care to minimize civilian casualties? (None?)

What are the chances that Iraqi forces would have been deterred by our use of human shields? (What are the chances we would have used human shields?) What are the chances that a routed American government would have called for its citizens to volunteer to be suicide bombers? (They would have)

What are the chances that Iraqi soldiers would have wept upon killing a carload of American civilians at a checkpoint unnecessarily? You should have, in the ledger of your imagination, a mounting column of zeros.

Nothing in Chomsky’s account acknowledges the difference between intending to kill a child, because of the effect you hope to produce on its parents (we call this “terrorism”), and inadvertently killing a child in an attempt to capture or kill an avowed child murderer (we call this “collateral damage”).

In both cases a child has died, and in both cases it is a tragedy. But the ethical status of the perpetrators, be they individuals or states, could hardly be more distinct.

Chomsky might object that to knowingly place the life of a child in jeopardy is unacceptable in any case, but clearly this is not a principle we can follow. The makers of roller coasters know, for instance, that despite rigorous safety precautions, sometime, somewhere, a child will be killed by one of their contraptions.

Makers of automobiles know this as well. So do makers of hockey sticks, baseball bats, plastic bags, swimming pools, chain-link fences, or nearly anything else that could conceivably contribute to the death of a child.

There is a reason we do not refer to the inevitable deaths of children on our ski slopes as “skiing atrocities.” But you would not know this from reading Chomsky. For him, intentions do not seem to matter. Body count is all.

We are now living in a world that can no longer tolerate well-armed, malevolent regimes. Without perfect weapons, collateral damage—the maiming and killing of innocent people—is unavoidable.

Similar suffering will be imposed on still more innocent people because of our lack of perfect automobiles, airplanes, antibiotics, surgical procedures, and window glass.

If we want to draw conclusions about ethics—as well as make predictions about what a given person or society will do in the future—we cannot ignore human intentions. Where ethics are concerned, intentions are everything.

(Sounds like a mea culpa of Sam Harris for publishing his book and wanting Chomsky to forgive him by forcing upon him a re-edited version that is worse than the original?)

Andrew Bossone  shared and commented on this link.

A very interesting non-exchange, though the title given by one of the authors involved may be misleading:

rather then the “limits of discourse”, why not “the limits my own thinking when moralising others”?

Sam Harris and Noam Chomsky attempt to have a conversation about the ethics of war, terrorism, state surveillance, and related topics–and fail.
samharris.org|By Sam Harris

Clear policy in dealing with terrorism/fundamentalism

Let us go through some deep and rigorous logical thinking which would lead us to a clear policy in dealing with terrorism/fundamentalism.

TWO QUESTIONS, one easy one hard (the second –more uncomfortable– one should come next post).
So step 1 (the easy one).
QUESTION ” Would you agree to deny the freedom of speech to every political party that has in its charter the banning of freedom of speech?”


One step further, “Should a society that has elected to be tolerant be intolerant about intolerance?

This is in fact the incoherence that Goedel (the grandmaster of logical rigor) detected in the constitution while taking the naturalization exam.


I wrote about idiots asking me if one should be “skeptical about skepticism”, using a similar answer put to Popper about ” if one could falsify falsification”.

Please answer. People who agree may not like the next question.

Nassim Taleb on FB

TRIBUNE « Terrorisme, une focalisation excessive » par Pascal Boniface

Pascal Boniface. 15/02/2016 

Pour Pascal Boniface, directeur de l’Iris (1), la menace terroriste ne saurait constituer le seul horizon de la réflexion stratégique et de l’action politique.

Car il existe bien d’autres causes de mortalité qui doivent aussi nous préoccuper.

TRIBUNE « Terrorisme, une focalisation excessive » par Pascal Boniface ZOOM

AFP

La menace terroriste est devenue le centre de l’horizon médiatique, politique et stratégique français. Pourrait-il en être autrement ?

Les attentats des 7 et 9 janvier 2015 et ses 15 morts, le plus grand nombre de victimes du terrorisme depuis cinquante ans sur le territoire français, avaient frappé la nation au plus profond. Elle avait fait face avec près de quatre millions de citoyens manifestant leur refus de céder à la peur.

Mais le 13 novembre, c’est 130 personnes qui perdirent la vie du fait d’attentats. Une escalade dans l’horreur, et dans les réactions qui ont suivi.

C’est devenu le sujet numéro un pour les médias qui ont vu leur nombre de téléspectateurs, auditeurs et lecteurs fortement augmenter et pour les responsables politiques qui doivent répondre à une demande de protection et de sécurité du public.

Dans l’ensemble, les Français ont réagi avec une très grande dignité à ces drames. (dignite? what’s that crap?)

Mais ils sont anxieux et ont besoin d’être rassurés.

Ne pas tomber dans le piège qui nous est tendu

On peut cependant se demander si, malgré l’intérêt marqué du public, on ne parle pas trop du terrorisme ?

Et si, ce faisant, on ne tombe pas dans le piège qui nous est tendu ?

Dès 1962, Raymond Aron écrivait que « les effets psychologiques du terrorisme étaient hors de proportion avec les résultats purement physiques ».

C’est encore plus vrai à l’heure des chaînes d’informations permanentes parce que c’est exactement ce que recherchent ceux qui ont frappé et veulent encore le faire : marquer les esprits et prendre le leadership sur l’agenda.

Ne risque-t-on pas alors de susciter un effet de galvanisation chez les terroristes, qui vont crier victoire au vu de l’ampleur des réactions qu’ils suscitent ? Cela leur permet de consolider leurs recrutements.

Ne crée-t-on pas un effet d’imitation ou d’entraînement pour des esprits faibles qui pourraient, par mimétisme, essayer à leur tour de tenter de commettre un attentat ?

Ne risque-t-on pas de nourrir un climat anxiogène qui pèse sur le moral de la nation et l’activité économique, à vivre dans l’angoisse de nouvelles frappes qui peuvent survenir à tout moment ? Et du coup de donner une victoire symbolique aux terroristes qui seront parvenus à marquer les esprits ?

La vigilance, pas la panique

Il ne s’agit pas de ne pas prendre en compte la menace. C’est indispensable. Mais faut-il en faire à ce point un élément du débat public ?

Ne pourrait-on pas agir avant et en parler moins ? Par ailleurs, à trop se focaliser sur le terrorisme, n’oublie-t-on pas de réfléchir aux grandes évolutions mondiales, à la place de la France dans le monde, à ses marges de manœuvres qui ne peuvent se résumer à la lutte contre le terrorisme ?

Il y a d’autres facteurs de mortalité qui ne suscitent pas la même mobilisation.

Il y a 130 personnes par jour qui meurent à cause de l’alcool.

L’an dernier, 412 personnes sont mortes de froid dans la rue et 3 500 autres ont été victimes de la route, certes par accident, mais en grande partie par la délinquance routière.

Chaque année, 150 personnes meurent de violences conjugales.

Deux enfants meurent chaque jour sous les coups de leurs parents. Ces morts ne suscitent pas la même mobilisation.

Sans doute parce que ces morts ne sont pas le fait d’une action politique volontaire qui veut s’attaquer aux bases de notre société. Il y a une acceptation sociale beaucoup plus grande pour ces types de violence qui pourtant font chaque année, et depuis des décennies, beaucoup plus de victimes.

Les terroristes peuvent frapper en tous lieux et à tout moment. Il faut non pas s’y résigner mais s’y préparer, vivre avec ce risque comme nous vivons avec d’autres (maladies, accidents, etc.) en étant vigilants mais pas paniqués. (And most importantly, stop bombing other countries in revenge and Not for a any viable cause)

J’habite et travaille dans le 11arrondissement de Paris, où ont eu lieu les attentats de novembre. J’ai plus peur pour mes enfants s’ils doivent faire de longs trajets de voiture que s’ils partent boire un verre dans le quartier.

Pour horribles qu’ils soient, ces attentats ne menacent notre société que si nous cédons à la peur.  (Only dead brain people would Not scared in their heart and mind)

Il est contre-productif de se focaliser de façon excessive sur ce défi stratégique, au risque d’occulter tous les autres. Cela reviendrait à céder au spectaculaire et à l’irrationnel et ne pas voir le structurel et le rationnel.

(1) Institut de relations internationales et stratégiques.

 

PARENTS OF KILLED U.S. NAVY SEAL

TELL OBAMA

”YOUR COWARDLY LACK OF LEADERSHIP HAS LEFT A GAPING HOLE’

YOU ARE NOT UP TO THIS JOB. YOU KNOW IT. WE KNOW IT. THE WORLD KNOWS IT.

After finally choosing to view the barbaric, on-camera beheading by ISIS of freelance war correspondent James Foley, I have been left with a level of rage known only to those of us who have sacrificed unspeakable offerings on the altar of world peace.

My offering was my only son — Aaron Carson Vaughn.

Aaron was a member of SEAL Team VI. He was killed in action when a CH47D Chinook, carrying thirty Americans and eight Afghans was shot down in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011.

aaron-carson-vaughn-navy-seal-team-6

Many times over the past three years, I have been asked what drove my son to choose his particular career. What made him want to be a Navy SEAL? My answer is simple.

Aaron Vaughn was a man who possessed the courage to acknowledge evil. And evil, once truly acknowledged, demands response. Perhaps this is why so few are willing to look it in the eye. It is much simpler — much safer — to look the other way. (Time to describe Evil in terms not related to religion or cultural ideosyncracy)

That is, unless you are the leader of the Free World.

As Commander-in-Chief, your actions — or lack thereof — Mr. President, cost lives. As you bumble about in your golf cart, slapping on a happy face and fist-pounding your buddies,your cowardly lack of leadership has left a gaping hole — not only in America’s security — but the security of the entire globe.

Your message has come across loud and clear, sir: You are not up to this job. You know it. We know it. The world knows it.

Please vacate the people’s house and allow a man or woman of courage and substance to seize the reigns of this out-of-control thug-fest and regain the balance we, America, have provided throughout our great history.

Thanks to your “leadership” from whatever multi-million dollar vacation you happen to be on at any given moment, the world is in chaos. What’s been gained, you’ve lost. What’s been lost, you’ve decimated.

You’ve demolished our ability to hold the trust of allies. You’ve made a mockery of the title “President.” And you’ve betrayed the nation for which my son and over 1.3 million others have sacrificed their very lives.

But this should come as no surprise, since your wife uttered a vile statement on Feb. 18, 2008, during the primary campaign — one that speaks volumes of your true convictions.“For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country,” she said.

I am sure my deceased son thanks you for that, Mrs. Obama. Oh, and you’re welcome.

Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such despair and such growing fear that the world’s last best hope, America, has finally been dismantled. Perhaps the better word is transformed — fundamentally transformed. Come to think of it, it’s become difficult — if not impossible — to believe things haven’t gone exactly as you planned, Mr. President.

barack-obama-michelle-traitors-killed-aaron-carson-vaughn

Amazingly, in five short years, your administration has lurched from one disaster to another.

You spearheaded the ambitious rush to end the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan — with no plan on how to do so effectively. Also, the release of “the Taliban five” in exchange for one American — without consulting Congress — is also on your shoulders.

You have been at the helm during unprecedented national security leaks — including, but not limited to the outing of SEAL Team VI on the Bin laden raid, the outing of the Pakistani doctor who provided the intelligence for that raid, the outing of Afghanistan’s CIA station chief, and the outing of your personal “kill list” to make you look tough. In addition, 75% of American deaths in Afghanistan and 83 percent of Americans-wounded-in-action have occurred on your watch, according to icasualties.org.

And now, we have this recent, heinous event: the beheading of an American citizen by a barbaric organization you foolishly referred to as “the JV team” in your statements to the New Yorker magazine in January.

You, sir, are the JV team. It’s time for you to step down and allow a true leader to restore our honor and protect our sons and daughters.

Note: Obama speech on the US strategy to defeat ISIS was not convincing either.

If your allies are the ones who funded and supported ISIS, how can you convince the world community that your objective is actually to confront terrorism?

America has always been exceptional. And she will be again. You, Mr. President, are a bump in our road.

USA attacked by drones: Sooner than expected…

By 2020, it is estimated that as many as 30,000 drones will be used in US domestic airspace

Drones on domestic surveillance duties are already deployed by police and corporations. In time, they will likely be fitted with missiles and weapons, and hovering over US skies

I have a question. What operations are far less complex and cheaper to execute:

1. Sending kamikazes in commercial airplanes, or

2. Dispatching drones fitted with powerful missiles, and controlled from outside US territories, and targeting  sensitive sites like nuclear centers, depots of chemical weapons, depleted uranium bombs, electrical communication centers….

If your answer is that the second option is far easier to plan and execute, then why Obama is intent on giving ideas to these extremist jihadists, by targeting their potential leaders with drones every week, and using double tap tactics to kill the rescue teams?

 published in the guardian.co.uk, on Dec. 21, 2012 under: ”

The coming drone attack on America”

“People often ask me, in terms of my argument about “ten steps” that mark the descent to a police state or closed society, at what stage we are.

With the importation of what will be tens of thousands of drones, by both US military and by commercial interests, into US airspace, with a specific mandate to engage in surveillance and with the capacity for weaponization – which is due to begin in earnest at the start of the new year – it means that the police state is now officially here.

In February of this year, Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act, with its provision to deploy fleets of drones domestically. Jennifer Lynch, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, notes that this followed a major lobbying effort, “a huge push by […] the defense sector” to promote the use of drones in American skies: 30,000 of them are expected to be in use by 2020, some as small as hummingbirdsmeaning that you won’t necessarily see them, tracking your meeting with your fellow-activists, with your accountant or your congressman, or filming your cruising the bars or your assignation with your lover, as its video-gathering whirs.

Others will be as big as passenger planes. Business-friendly media stress their planned abundant use by corporations: police in Seattle have already deployed them.

An unclassified US air force document reported by CBS (pdf) news expands on this unprecedented and unconstitutional step – one that formally brings the military into the role of controlling domestic populations on US soil, which is the bright line that separates a democracy from a military oligarchy.

(The US constitution allows for the deployment of National Guard units by governors, who are answerable to the people; but this system is intended, as is posse comitatus, to prevent the military from taking action aimed at US citizens domestically.)

The air force document explains that the air force will be overseeing the deployment of its own military surveillance drones within the borders of the US; that it may keep video and other data it collects with these drones for 90 days without a warrant – and will then, retroactively, determine if the material can be retained – which does away for good with the fourth amendment in these cases.

While the drones are not supposed to specifically “conduct non-consensual surveillance on on specifically identified US persons”, according to the document, the wording allows for domestic military surveillance of non-“specifically identified” people (that is, a group of activists or protesters) and it comes with the important caveat, also seemingly wholly unconstitutional, that it may not target individuals “unless expressly approved by the secretary of Defense”.

In other words, the Pentagon can now send a domestic drone to hover outside your apartment window, collecting footage of you and your family, if the secretary of Defense approves it. Or it may track you and your friends and pick up audio of your conversations, on your way to protest or vote or talk to your representative, if you are not “specifically identified”, a determination that is so vague as to be meaningless.

What happens to those images, that audio? “Distribution of domestic imagery” can go to various other government agencies without your consent, and that imagery can, in that case, be distributed to various government agencies; it may also include your most private moments and most personal activities. The authorized “collected information may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent”. Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told CBS:

In some records that were released by the air force recently … under their rules, they are allowed to fly drones in public areas and record information on domestic situations.

This document accompanies a major federal push for drone deployment this year in the United States, accompanied by federal policies to encourage law enforcement agencies to obtain and use them locally, as well as by federal support for their commercial deployment. That is to say: now HSBC, Chase, Halliburton etc can have their very own fleets of domestic surveillance drones. The FAA recently established a more efficient process for local police departments to get permits for their own squadrons of drones.

Given the Department of Homeland Security militarization of police departments, once the circle is completed with San Francisco or New York or Chicago local cops having their own drone fleet – and with Chase, HSBC and other banks having hired local police, as I reported here last week – the meshing of military, domestic law enforcement, and commercial interests is absolute. You don’t need a messy, distressing declaration of martial law.

And drone fleets owned by private corporations means that a first amendment right of assembly is now over: if Occupy is massing outside of a bank, send the drone fleet to surveil, track and harass them. If citizens rally outside the local Capitol? Same thing.

As one of my readers put it, the scary thing about this new arrangement is deniability: bad things done to citizens by drones can be denied by private interests – “Oh, that must have been an LAPD drone” – and LAPD can insist that it must have been a private industry drone. For where, of course, will be the accountability from citizens buzzed or worse by these things?

Domestic drone use is here, and the meshing has begun: local cops in Grand Forks, North Dakota called in a DHS Predator drone – the same make that has caused hundreds of civilian casualties in Pakistan – over a dispute involving a herd of cattle. The military roll out in process and planned, within the US, is massive: the Christian Science Monitor reports that a total of 110 military sites for drone activity are either built or will be built, in 39 states. That covers America.

We don’t need a military takeover: with these capabilities on US soil and this air force white paper authorization for data collection, the military will be effectively in control of the private lives of American citizens. And these drones are not yet weaponized.

“I don’t think it’s crazy to worry about weaponized drones. There is a real consensus that has emerged against allowing weaponized drones domestically. The International Association of Chiefs of Police has recommended against it,” warns Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU, noting that there is already political pressure in favor of weaponization:

“At the same time, it is inevitable that we will see [increased] pressure to allow weaponized drones. The way that it will unfold is probably this: somebody will want to put a relatively ‘soft’ nonlethal weapon on a drone for crowd control. And then things will ratchet up from there.”

And the risk of that? The New America Foundation’s report on drone use in Pakistan noted that the Guardian had confirmed 193 children’s deaths from drone attacks in seven years. It noted that for the deaths of ten militants, 1,400 civilians with no involvement in terrorism also died. Not surprisingly, everyone in that region is traumatized: children scream when they hear drones. An NYU and Stanford Law School report notes that drones “terrorize citizens 24 hours a day”.

If US drones may first be weaponized with crowd-control features, not lethal force features, but with no risk to military or to police departments or DHS, the playing field for freedom of assembly is changed forever. So is our private life, as the ACLU’s Stanley explains:

“Our biggest concerns about the deployment of drones domestically is that they will be used to create pervasive surveillance networks. The danger would be that an ordinary individual once they step out of their house will be monitored by a drone everywhere they walk or drive. They may not be aware of it. They might monitored or tracked by some silent invisible drone everywhere they walk or drive.”

“So what? Why should they worry?” I asked.

“Your comings and goings can be very revealing of who you are and what you are doing and reveal very intrusive things about you – what houses of worship you are going to, political meetings, particular doctors, your friends’ and lovers’ houses.”

I mentioned the air force white paper. “Isn’t the military not supposed to be spying on Americans?” I asked.

“Yes, the posse comitatus act passed in the 19th century forbids a military role in law enforcement among Americans.”

What can we do if we want to oppose this? I wondered. According to Stanley, many states are passing legislation banning domestic drone use.

Once again, in the fight to keep America a republic, grassroots activism is pitched in an unequal contest against a militarized federal government.

Note: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/consistent-trend-in-us-drone-strikes-tweeting-reports-very-disturbing/

Part one.  Let’s make sense: “How can I win war on “terrorism”? (Jan. 28, 2010)

            Terrorism is winning by default: people waging war on terrorism failed to make contact with people who have plenty of common sense: The players failed to communicate to people with common sense why they are fighting them; they failed to make sense for peace, security, working civil administration, freedom of opinions, and opportunities to learn and work.

            You are reading me: that’s good enough to me.  You have plenty of common sense, regardless of your inherited opinions gathered from your close community and the discrimination tendencies that you are subjected to. 

You have the luxury to read; if what you read make sense then you are doubly fortunate: You have the opportunity to connect, gather intelligence, dialogue, and discuss.  You are on firm ground to believe that mankind has the potential to think rationally when emotional weighty issues are respected as part of community heritage. 

            You read: you are very fortunate as an individual and fortunate that you live in a society that connects you with the outside world.  If you can transfer your imagination to remote rural regions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia then we are set to commune common sense.  

You are living in a region with no schools (at best religious schools teaching you how to read a Book); no presence of any State civil administration, no infrastructure for clean potable water coming to homes; no waste discharge facilities; no means to communicate with the outside world in your own language.  You are living within a close-knit tribal and clannish community that extends survival means and protection.  Are you with me so far?

            One morning, a drone drops bombs and missiles targeting “a terrorist” leader in your tribe, killing countless civilians.  How would you react?  The sky is conspiring to destabilize your peace and security; a “foreign” enemy is blatantly provoking you to kneel and submit to an idea or power that were not communicated to you:  all you know is what your community “preacher” has told you and who taught you at school.  Why should you submit to an opinion that you have no idea what it is and that does not relate to your current way of life? 

You do have plenty of common sense, but your “ghost” of an enemy is not revealing to you that he is endowed with any common sense.

            Your enemy (US military power) is a coward savage that cannot speak: he can only make war from a distance.  Hell, the sky is conspiring with an enemy that you have never seen his face or heard his voice.  There is total failure of communication.

Even if you care less about religion and the value system of your community you cannot help it but to fight this coward enemy playing ghost to frighten the bejesus out of your mind.

            Islamic extremists are winning by default: they are on the field and the enemy is in the air.  The enemy is setting foot on the moon and exploring the genesis of the Big Bang but he is scared to making eye contact with you: he is fighting you but failed to show up:  The enemy has no decency to tell you why he is fighting you; he could at least warn you or declare war!

            War on “terrorism” is a mental attitude: You cannot win this war if the people on the field are disconnected from the outside world.  If you failed to communicate in the language of the land, to learn the customs, and win first of all the State civil administrations, how can you start military campaigns of intimidation?  If the State civil administration is backward, corrupted, ignorant, and not willing to set foot in remote area then who is to communicate with tribal communities?

            The “terrorist” people didn’t declare war on you: you are doing what suits your ego trip as a superior race.  Time to differentiate between terrorist organizations and those poor and wretched people succumbing to internal obscurantism and external barbaric western military machine.

Part one set the foundations; part two will venture into details.  As I wrote in a previous article “The devil is Never in the details”

No food, no medicine, and no oil for Gaza:  just exploding bombs (December 30, 2008)

 

So far, the genocide air bombing of Gaza by Israel has left 400 dead and over 1900 serious injuries; the toll is climbing by the minutes and the Israeli navy is participating. The UN has admitted that 70 civilians died (not counting the injured). The only two leaders who support openly the Israeli genocide are Bush Junior and Germany Merkel; their excuses is that stopping a few artisanal missiles sent by Hamas is worth a genocide and crime against humanity for one million and half Palestinians living in a squeezed strip of 300 square kilometers with no friendly borders. Gaza is the most densely inhabited place on Earth. The European leaders are lambasted for going along with Bush Junior, as they did after the US unilaterally invaded Iraq; no wonder that the Arab and Moslem populations have no faith in the western State leaders.

 

Nasr Allah delivered another speech at a mass gathering in Beirut and urged President Suleiman of Lebanon to convene the Arab foreign ministers to discuss Gaza predicaments.  Israel is threatening to invade Gaza by land but my impression is that Israel is calculating the potential escalations and the intervention of Hezbollah.  Even without Hezbollah intervention the Zionist colonies, 40 miles around Gaza, are in shelters; subjugating  hundreds of Jewish colonies in the north to flee to shelters for a long duration would result in a disastrous internal difficulty or what is called “Home Front”.

I was watching the evening news on December 28 and it was pre-empted because Hassan Nasr Allah was delivering a speech from 8:15 to 9 p.m.  Nasr Allah started by reminding us of the battle of Karbala where Hussein (the grandson of the Prophet Muhamad) was slain. It is Ashoura for the Shiaa Moslem sect.  Nasr Allah declared tomorrow a day of mourning for the Palestinian martyrs in Gaza; it coincided with Ashoura. He asked for a mass gathering in Dahiyeh tomorrow starting at 3 p.m. 

Nasr Allah declared that the war in Gaza is a carbon copy of the July War in 2006 against Lebanon.  The difference is that Gaza has no open borders to friendly States like Syria. (The Egyptian dictator, President Moubarak, has been planning with Israel and the US for an all out war on Gaza simply because Palestine Hamas is believed to support the Egyptian opposition party of the “Moslem Brotherhood”.  Boubarak participated in the complete blockage of Gaza for two months and had closed the only exit out at the Rafah Gates)

Nasr Allah encouraged the Egyptian people to demonstrate by the millions to demand the opening of the Rafah gates for all kinds of supplies to the imprisoned population in Gaza.

Ehud Barak and Levny of Israel are categorical: that this prolonged campaign of terror is to open a new era of peace and prosperity in the region; a carbon copy of the statement of Condo Rice during the terror campaign in July 2006 on Lebanon! The failed hopes of Bush Junior to re-arranging the “Greater Middle East” according to his limited brain power resulted in the onset of the financial crash: investors had stopped in August 2006 believing in the worthless paper transactions of the financial multinationals and the rate of investment had reach a plateau. The Bush Administration decided then on the timing of the inevitable financial crash!

The case of Gaza is both a revenge of the Bush Administration for July 2006 fiasco and also for putting the squeeze on President elect Barak Obama to declare his positions on the Middle East problems before he swears in this coming January.  Most probably, the US wanted to deflect the financial problems for a while by focusing the attention of news media and world community to a bloody and harrowing genocide. The media are certainly thankful because wars are more interesting than attacking problems of economy and poverty and joblessness!

Israel might have the potentials, offered by the US militarily and financially, to wage wars of genocides but the backlash is going to be of a long-term nature for Israel, the US, Germany, and Egypt.  Embassies and consulates would be attacked and burned around the world for many months and Hamas would re-gain more supporters and dominate Palestinian politics.  Israel and the US should certainly be asking the hard question “What next? Where to after Gaza?”


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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