the War on Terror

We Are Not Speechless, but Dumb before Terrorism

July 20, 2012

. I had it in mind to offer today a series of many quotations on terrorism. I thought some collection of insightful commentary on the phenomenon might be of momentary worth. What provoked the thought, it may not surprise, was yesterday’s suicide bombing in Bulgaria. The U.S is now confirming its belief, in agreement with [...]


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Discussing Drones: the Right Way, the Greenwald Way

June 11, 2012

. Last week, in response to “Glenn Greenwald’s Mitt Romney Surrogacy,” a commenter defended Greenwald by describing his work as “independent non-partisan scholarship.” Not that very long after the laughter faded, I read at the Boston ReviewDavid Luban’s “What Would Augustine Do? The President, Drones, and Just War Theory.” If you don’t have the time [...]


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Obama, Holder & the Altered Paradigm of War

March 9, 2012

. There is no better way to keep an argument going – that is, to halt any progress in the exploration of its critical ideas – than to simply ignore the claims of one’s opponent. At the very least, to acknowledge and contend with particular and supporting claims is to focus the field of dispute [...]


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9/11/11: Home

September 18, 2011

. (The last in a thirteen-part series.) What was the response to 9/11 on the political left, the direction from which was quickly drawn the historical cover of the “squandered sympathies” meme? There is no single answer. The “left” is not a unitary political tendency. It is stalwart, mainstream Democrats in the U.S. and the [...]


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9/11/11: The Stylus Avenger

September 17, 2011

. (Twelfth in a series) It had been possible in the countryside of so many nations, on another continent, always in transit, to leave the palpable sense of 9/11, if not our emotions, behind. The last day, at Charles de Gaulle Airport amid intense security, and three weeks after the attack, Julia and I rejoined [...]


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9/11/11: Chomsky Nation

September 16, 2011

. (Eleventh in a series) On October 18, 2001, five weeks after the 9/11 attack, Noam Chomsky gave a talk at MIT, still available on the web in video and transcript form, entitled “The New War against Terror.” He employed the same slippery rhetorical constructs and argumentative ploys as were on display in his half-hearted [...]


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Little Sympathy to Squander: the American Left & 9/11

September 15, 2011

. (Tenth in a series) The antipathy to the U.S. voiced in the Guardian, on Question Time, from Baudrillard and Zizek – not merely despite 9/11, but in political sympathy with it, if not advocacy of it – found voice in the U.S. too. No small amount of it emanated from The Nation, perhaps the [...]


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9/11/11: a “Good Terror”

September 14, 2011

. (Ninth in a series) When it came to 9/11 sympathies too absent to squander, Slavo Zizek actually beat Baudrillard to the text. On September 14, 2001, only three days after 9/11, he first posted to the internet “Welcome to the Desert of the Real,” which he revised and extended several times. Later, like Baudrillard’s [...]


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9/11/11: Goering’s Defense

September 13, 2011

. (Eighth in a series) In the matter of “squandered sympathies,” let history not lose the record that as early as November 2, 2001, fewer than two months after 9/11, Jean Baudrillard notoriously produced in Le Monde, under the title “The Spirit of Terrorism,” a logically homeless piece of postmodern theory-talk that evinced the equally [...]


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9/11/11: Squandered Sympathies

September 12, 2011

(The seventh in a series) The squandered sympathies meme states that the United States, as a consequence of 9/11, was the recipient of widespread international sympathy and good will. The meme was born as soon after 9/11 as some people began to anticipate U.S. action in Afghanistan, which is to say as early as those [...]


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Left Bereft: September 11, 2001 and the Politics of the Moral Imagination

September 11, 2011

(9/11/11: the sixth in a series) I have met them at close of day Coming with vivid faces From counter or desk among grey Eighteenth-century houses. I have passed with a nod of the head Or polite meaningless words, Or have lingered awhile and said Polite meaningless words, And thought before I had done Of [...]


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9/10/01: “Ere the sun Swings his noonday sword”*

September 10, 2011

. (9/11/11: fifth in a series) That much I can give you of these hours.  That much only,  fists and blossom forged by salt, trellising your wounded helixes against our days.  Tell us how to live for we are shades, facing, caged, the chastening sun.  Our eyes are scorched and lidless.  We cannot bear your [...]


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Nine Hundred and Thirty-Five Years before 9/11 (and Fifty-Seven, too)

September 8, 2011

  (9/11/11: third in a series) The Landing at Normandy When, after a brief return to Paris, I arrived in Normandy – a couple of days after leaving Julia behind in Provence – it was with the expressed purpose of making a first visit to the landing beaches, and to some of the countless fields [...]


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Nine Days before 9/11

September 7, 2011

  (9/11/11: second in a series) Before I made my way to Normandy, I stopped back in Paris, which Julia and I had left on September 9. She now remained behind in Provence to teach a photo workshop. My first arrival in Paris had been ill-omened, but then the connections between our personal lives and [...]


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“Lawyering Up” in the War of Words

May 10, 2010

Journalist pundits are not the most interesting thinkers around. (Radio and talk show host pundits are not even thinkers – they’re talkers. They talk very well.) Their job is to master the conventional thinking of the worlds they cover – to be ignorant of a current conventional thought is to prove oneself inexpert – and [...]


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The Open Mind IV: Riposte

January 8, 2010

I thought it might be hard this time around. I had gathered ShrinkWrapped and I shared a fair measure of agreement about what Norm Geras at Normblog has designated FKATWOT: the War (Formerly Known As The War On Terror). Fear not. I have found in The Open Mind IV: Synthesis the space between us. Then [...]


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