Warfare and Conflict

A Second Look: the End (of History, War, the Enlightenment, and Western Civilization) Or Not

November 18, 2013

My recent posts on Syria were argued against a more global backdrop: considerations of war and how it is entered into, with what achievable (or other) ends in mind, and, more specifically again, how the United States engages in it. In focus were questions of American empire and the nature of victory and whether it [...]


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Reflections on the Spirit of Resistance

November 22, 2012

. Paul Newman’s 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, the apex of journeyman Stuart Rosenberg’s directorial career, imbued popular culture with many iconic scenes and memorable lines. (“What we have here – is failure to communicate.” “Sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand.”) Among the famous scenes is that of the prison camp boxing match [...]


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Not So Random Questions, Facts, & Observations about Gaza & Israel

November 17, 2012

. If forces in Mexico – drug cartels, for instance – were firing rockets and missiles into an area roughly covering 25% of the United States this is what it would look like. If the U.S. equivalent of one million Israelis were under threat of this bombardment on a daily basis, running for cover, hiding [...]


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The Mystery of Terrorism, Revealed

July 26, 2012

. Cross posted at The Times of Israel. When I wrote the other day about our dumbness before the phenomenon of terrorism – so often the wanton and random killing in large numbers of those who must by any non-self-justifying reason be considered innocents – I was invoking the mystery of the moral self that can rise [...]


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Tenth Anniversary of a Lie

April 16, 2012

. The Battle of Jenin was waged between April 1-11 2002. Recently, Myrrh, at Harry’s Place, took note of that anniversary by surveying the historically malicious and misinformative coverage of the conflict by England’s Guardian. But the Guardian‘s campaign of hysterical distortion constituted only a part, if a prominent one, of a campaign of lies and anti-Israel calumny [...]


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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: 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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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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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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Twenty-Five Hundred Years before 9/11

September 9, 2011

(9/11/11: fourth in a series) Van Gogh’s Eyes Before my drive to Normandy and my second stay in Paris, I had left Julia in St. Remy-de-Provence, where she taught a photo workshop to the eight students who had braved their fears to fly there less than two weeks after 9/11. I stayed a few days [...]


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Defense Secretary Gates on War and Society

November 12, 2010

At some point soon, Bob Gates will be ending his long career of public service. Though once a subject of deep suspicion on the Left because of his service in the equally suspect CIA of the Reagan-Bush 41 years, he will end his career as a rare figure of public integrity, who was devoted to [...]


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The Long, Steep Descent of Noam Chomsky

November 10, 2010

“The explicit and declared motive of the [Afghanistan] war was to compel the Taliban to turn over to the United States, the people who they accused of having been involved in World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist acts. The Taliban…they requested evidence…and the Bush administration refused to provide any,” the 81-year-old senior academic made the [...]


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The Problem with J Street

October 11, 2010

The problem with J Street is that it doesn’t make sense. It is conceptually self-implosive. This was never really very hard to see. Last year, during the 2009 J Street Conference, Jonathan Chait wrote. The problem, though, was that J Street had loosened the definition of “pro-Israel” to the point where it had virtually no [...]


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Ten Questions for Monday

August 2, 2010

No more weekend. Work time now. Do the citizens of a nation bear any individual moral responsibility for the wars fought in their name, and the consequential death and destruction? If so, does that responsibility have any practical meaning beyond a purported burden of conscience? Does a claim of the war’s justness relieve that responsibility? [...]


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This Is the End (of History, War, the Enlightenment, and Western Civilization) Or Not

July 30, 2010

Andrew Becevich is appropriately critical of the American impetus to hegemonic empire that grew out of its post World War Two ascendency and the commitment to communist containment. That was the subject of his 2008 The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. Essential to any continuing practicability of this American role, he argues [...]


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The Argument: Defense is Offensive

July 23, 2010

We know the adage: the best defense is a good offense. Generally speaking, that was the argument for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. That is the doctrine of preemptive attack. That is what Israel did in 1967. That is not the argument I mean to address. Perhaps coincidentally – or maybe not, after consideration I [...]


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The Liberal Conscience

June 10, 2010

There is much else I would like to be writing about besides Israel, other kinds of writing I would like to be posting – and I’ll continue to try – but now is an urgent moment. One point I will make repeatedly is the necessity for liberal supporters of Israel to stand up against the [...]


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Politics as a Continuation of War by Other Means

June 9, 2010

Clausewitz has been upended.  In On War, he famously wrote, War is not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means. However, he also said, The aim of war should be the defeat of the enemy.  But what constitutes defeat?  The conquest of his whole [...]


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Jews Denied Entry

May 18, 2010

Good. I got your attention. Yesterday we got the double whammy – fodder for the BDS (Bias, Deceit, Sensationalism) movement – of news of Noam Chomsky’s denied entry to the West Bank and Peter Beinart’s lamentable New York Review of Books article buying into the prevailing Left narrative of the American Jewish leadership’s moral decline [...]


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