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Monday, January 29, 2007
 
Listening to the VP, or you're head asplode

I wanted to go back and follow on to previous post. After the Presidents state of the Union speech I thought of Prof. Telhami's Lebanese opinion poll 2006 University of Maryland/Zogby International public opinion poll) and in particular of a poll question on whether Iran is in fact engage in trying to build an nuclear weapon. "Do you believe that Iran is: Conducting research for peaceful purposes?, Trying to develop a nuclear weapon? "(p.15) The results are not close, across the board they believe Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Another question in which there was clear and unambiguous opinion: "What do you believe would happen in Iraq if the US quickly withdrew its forces? The situation will not change, Civil war will expand rapidly, Iraqis will find a way to bridge their differences (p. 10). What would they have us believe? I don't even know who they are. They who would have me believe what no one in Lebanon believes. It is still possible to make things in Iraq and with Iran worse then they are, This can be done simply by over reacting one way or the other to the situation as it stands. There are some opinion setters in other gulf states, who I am aware speak softly the old argument: The only thing they (insurgents, shiite militias) respect is strength, brutal force. What some would have us do: bring in the B 52s bomb Sadr City kill hundreds or thousands of people. Flatten the rebellion, and sign our name not theirs, indelibly, imperially to the deed.

From the point of view of web logging on our dear leaders. Cheney's technicolor alternate universe Dan Froomkin - The Unraveling of Dick Cheney - washingtonpost.com beats Bush's resigned grey scale world - for this round. I know its been excerpted many times but once more Dick "strongbad" Cheney's interview on CNN with Wolf Blitzer:

CHENEY: Well, you know, this is a argument that there wouldn't be any problem if we hadn't gone into Iraq. Now -- BLITZER: Saddam Hussein would still be in power. CHENEY: Saddam Hussein would still be in power. He would, at this point, be engaged in a nuclear arms race with Ahmadinejad, his blood enemy next door in Iran --
[and later]... CHENEY: Wolf, the entire sanctions regime had been undermined by Saddam Hussein. He had -- BLITZER: But he didn't have stockpiles of weapons of -- CHENEY: -- corrupted the entire effort to try to keep him contained. He was bribing senior officials of other governments. The oil-for-food program had been totally undermined, and he had, in fact, produced and used weapons of mass destruction previously, and he retained the capability to produce that kind of stuff in the future. BLITZER: But that was in the '80s. CHENEY: You can go back and argue the whole thing all over again, Wolf... Vice President Cheney on CNN - washingtonpost.com

So what is he saying? The fact that the Weapons of Mass Destruction could have been there is as materially real as if they were there. Metaphysics. It was a coin toss, a matter of the first soldier stepping off with the left or right foot or starting the invasion at five of rather than five after the hour, they could just have easily have then been there. Random reality-altering facts on the ground. And given that being and nothingness are pretty much the same to Dick Cheney ; the war is justified on the basis of the arms race in the region that might have taken place if Saddam had been left in power. The absence of which seems to have been lost on Iran anyway. It has always appeared that the administrations core interests survive a fair amount of chaos so there is every chance that this situation just doesn't look that bad - to them The Bait-and-Switch White House - New York Times.

Now Iran is misbehaving Iran May Have Trained Attackers That Killed 5 American Soldiers, U.S. and Iraqis Say - New York Times (although what happened here is far from clear). Iran has fallen into the pattern of a semi-governed state, centralized yet apportioned. Multiple power centers: none accountable, none speaking from a majority base, yet holding power in absolute terms. Iran's interest in Iraq has gone beyond activities designed to stabilize and protect co religionist and engineer a non-threatening Iraqi state Are the Iranians Out for Revenge? -- Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007 -- Page 1 -- TIME. As our reaction turns from "catch and release" to eye for an eye Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq. . I wouldn't assume Iran's left hand knows what its right hand is doing. Then the 'they only value strength' argument returns. And some argue we need to starting identifying and shooting Iranians, to gain their respect. However; that is dogs, who supposedly will come meekly to heel if whipped hard enough, they are thinking about, not people. Human reaction is always a return show of force, or resistance for force. Its derigour, human culture will always reward this. Besides if you are only flailing about with your Iron Fist you won't leave much of an impression on them in any regarde. This fascination with a metaphor of dog training speaks volumes about realities of the neoconservative world view.

Both sides betray a seeking for a causus belli. Iran and the AEI. Mondays AEI guest on the Diane Rehm Show was trying to play it casual but by the end of the show he had brought up the sad neccesity of action against Iran so many times it seemed to me that for whatever reason the AEI is desperate for this U.S. Policy Toward Iran. As though the clarity they believe in and desire can only be found in glorious war against obvious evil. I would rather leave this to the professionals Admiral Calls for New and Different Approach in Iraq - New York Times. Who may have a better sense of what wars they will need to finish they are willing to start. Their job is to parse the limits of the ways military action can aid diplomacy, the art of the possible David Ignatius - Rice's Strategic Reset - washingtonpost.com. At least it wasn't Adm Fallon who used the line Battleship Diplomacy. He did respond to Senator Warner that the "whole idea" [of creating a ring of deterrence around Iran] was "most appealling" given that we have ongoing combat operations in the area already Centcom Pick Warns of Iran Influence in Gulf Region - washingtonpost.com centcom.He went on to talk about the balance that must be observed rewarding helpful behavior, challenging unhelpful behavior. An axis of modifiable evil.


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Wednesday, January 24, 2007
 
Still Screaming

 The American media does unintentional irony. There were two stories in the papers last weekend which illustrate how things can coexist within dot connecting distance of each other and resist lines drawn. One was a documentary dealing with 20th century genocides in the Washington Post style section Voicing Their Outrage - washingtonpost.com. The other concerned the murder, the blatant political assassination of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink Murder of outspoken journalist tests Turkey's democratic gains | csmonitor.com. His crime: mentioning the Armenian Genocide in public Police: 2 Confess in Journalist Killing - washingtonpost.com. The Turks main problem these days is Kurds and Kurdistan. They don't have an Armenian problem, not anymore at least. The Turks do not admit to this genocide which occurred at the end of world war I or even allow it to be discussed. The U S for whom Turkey has been an important ally through the cold war and into the war on terror [tm] does not officially acknowledge it either. Our position: "genocide deniers"

 Documentary on the Armenian genocide recapitulating the history of 20th century genocides is titled Screamers. It was made by the former BBC journalist Carla Garapedian. It takes its name not only from the existential reaction of a truly comprehending mind to to the reality of genocide but also from the band System of a Down, who also are Armenian-Americans with personal ties to the Armenian genocide. I don't have any System of a Down in my iTunes, not that I can recall ever hearing anything by them I didn't like. But I like forever comes today era Flesheaters too, so it's difficult using what I think to prove much. The film follows System of a Down around who  champion awareness of these mass war crimes as a primary cause. One of messages of the film is how the Armenian situation in 1918 cane be seen as a model and forerunner of Genocides to come. The small town in eastern Massachusetts where I went through middle and high school had a number of Armenian families so I can't remember ever not knowing of this grim historical pass. My high school principal I recall was Bedrose Kamitian, the vice principal was Robert Avakian, our class student president was Rick Hosepian. There was a math teacher named Garabedian, similar to the filmmaker's name Garepedian. I never had him as a teacher, he taught AP classes. I don't believe I was ever in the same hall as an AP class.  My schooling was ever of a different, more remedial, nature.

 All this goes towards revealing the general distance between principle and the American Agenda however handled by it's various primaries: politicians, commentators and news relaters. Things unseemly, inconvenient, unhandsome will remain unspoken, out of sight, under the rug. It leaves me screaming.



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Friday, January 19, 2007
 
Biking in Winter

 I hate biking in the winter. Even in the warm semi-tropics of Washinton DC. It still gets cold when the sun goes down. Your nose freezes (I blame the snow miser, give me mr. Heat Miser anytime). And frankly my right shoulder is only gradually coming back round to normal usefulness after crashing the bike back in November. I find I still can't throw a football around. I can barely comb my hair. I get home I find I'm to tired to write, read or think clearly. It's so much easier to succumb to television narcolpsy.

 I feel bad for all the other parts of the country that are buried under snow at the moment. I haven't seen the first flake here yet. Although the seasons young. It doesn't matter; though, the strange winter inter-session at U. Maryland will soon be over, they will fire up the shuttle bus fleet and I won't have to bicycle to work if I don't want to. There still is the problem of Safeway closing (!) the Adelphi store leaving me without a neighborhood grocery. Tran reminded me this week that I have told her that I will at some point - soon I think was the impression I left her with -  set myself to learning to drive a car and then buy one. It's just that I've avoided it for so long. I wish she understood this. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, cars

 I have nothing against cars. I just have nothing much for them either. Yes the cold winter rains stay on the outside, you don't have to keep pedaling on hills to keep from rolling backwards. There are these things. I've thought; that, if it were the other way round, if I had a car, that would be an inducement to learn to use the thing. This is the approach I used with the guitar, with the camera, the computer here... Well this is the approach I've used with most things. I buy the car, all shiny and full of well-fed horses, arrange for it to be placed where I could see it. Bobs your uncle. You can't let a lot of things like this get abstract on you.


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Tuesday, January 16, 2007
 
Hezbollah believes

Hizballah believes in linkages. That's a term for the idea that everything in the middle east depends on something else that must happen before after or with it. Hizballah believes in a Palestine Settlement, or maybe just Palestine because they don't believe in Israel. Some in Israel believe in linkages too, that its all about Iran Is Iran driving new Saudi diplomacy? | csmonitor.com. But not the folks in the U S: 'linkages, what linkages?' This at least is the thesis put forward last month in a Washington Post column by Robert Satloff - Forget the Domino Theories - washingtonpost.com who proclaims: "The wise men (and woman) don't know their history. In boldly suggesting that "all key issues in the Middle East are inextricably linked," the authors of the Iraq Study Group report seem stunningly indifferent to the past 25 years of Middle East politics." It's true, I think, the Israel-Palestine situation rarely, if ever, comes up in middle east political discussions.

The bigger question is does anyone know or care what Hizballah thinks? Does anyone know or care about Arab public opinion in general? Shibley Telhami does. Telhami who professes across the way at the government department at Maryland does public opinion research with Zogby polls in the middle east. It is a project which does ongoing polling in six countries over an extended period. In early December he released the most recent Lebanon portion through the Brookings Inst. Lebanese Public Opinion Amidst a New Cycle of Violence (for the graphs. 2006 University of Maryland/Zogby International public opinion poll) I had seen a Kuwaiti news service piece on this, had saved it and typed a few notes up, then set it aside. Ironically when I picked it up again to write this post I see Laura Rozen has it up in her web log War and Piece Via Marc Lynch, a new Zogby International poll (.pdf) co-released by Shibley Telhami . I would feel scooped, but I don't get paid for this. I have ground the Kana Article through Apple's OS X summarizer and extracted a few sentences to give you the sense of it

Analysts of a recent annual public opinion poll taken in Lebanon said they were struck by how emboldened the Shia appear in Lebanon and the region, and how the confrontation between the United States and its allies in the region, versus Iran and its allies in the region, is coloring the attitudes of people of all sects and religions.
...David Ignatius, a Washington Post columnist and Mideast writer, said his conclusions, based on the poll results, are that the Shia-dominant Hezbollah in Lebanon, who are backed by Iran and Syria, believe they are winning in the region, that Israel is weaker, and they feel no need to compromise on a two-state solution in the Palestinian Israeli conflict -- an idea which he described as "consistently the most dangerous" one in the Middle East.
...One of the most lopsided findings among all the poll questions, showing up among all Lebanese, was the agreement that the step the United States could take that would most improve their views of the U.S. would be if America would broker a comprehensive Mideast peace with Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders and establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Kuna site|Story page|Analysts of poll in Lebanon struck by Shia rise in...12/1/2006
Some earlier comments from Prof Telhami are also illustrative. From a forum held last summer and reprinted in the September Middle East Policy :
... who cares about Arab public opinion. We have a lot of people in this town who say, what does it matter? Public opinion in the Arab world really doesn't matter much. ... you have in this case is a huge gap between public opinion and governments, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and others that have been very bold in a way in going against that tide and taking the position that Hezbollah is at least in part, if not mostly, to blame for the Lebanese crisis.
...All of the discourse that followed 9/11 was initially about the political systems in the region: the absence of democracy is correlated with the strength of anti-American terrorism. It was conventional wisdom. When you look at this environment in which we operate, you see that our policies are widening the gap between governments and publics. Try to imagine how the Saudis or the Egyptians or the Jordanians tomorrow morning are going to be able to open up their political system when they have a strongly opposed public opinion
...the first casualty of all of this most certainly will be any idea that democracy or a more participatory kind of political system will emerge as a consequence of this widening gap that can be addressed in the short term by insecure governments only through increased repression. Blackwell Synergy - Middle East Policy, Volume 13 Issue 3 Page 1 - September 2006 (manually cherry-picking the quotes)

In Lebanon Hizballah has been able to leverage the border war with Israel to undergo a transformation from being merely a representation of Lebanese public opinion at odds with official state opinion to being the Government. Aided in part by the degree it has already usurped common public services among the Shia'a. Part of the disinclination the the US and allied goverments have with according any degree of legitimacy to Hizballah is that it is not seen as behaving as a government: organizing and apportioning a societies resources to its public needs. But as a distributor of some other entities largess and not disinteresdly. This can be seen as a distortion of the political economy of Lebanon. One that prevents a close accounting of Hizballah's leadership and aims. The end of the year was also full of articles concerned with the collapse of the Cedar revolution, as Hizballah tries to force the the current government to step down

In a very general way this is true for Hamas as well. Hamas coming to political power within the Palestine authority seemed to catch the Administration off balance, Now it seems some took it as an unendurable affront. A post in Conflicts Forum posited a link between the recent accidently discovery that Israel was moving large arms shipments to Fatah Israel Confirms Arms Shipment Sent to Aid Abbas - New York Times and the State Department specifically that Elliot Abrams may be trying to deliberately facilitate a civil war within Palestine 'Elliot Abrams' uncivil war - Conflicts Forum. This is the wrong appraoch. Though it fits with Secratary Rice's new realpolitic based foreign policy free of the least moral anchor Waking Up to Reality: Condi makes nice in the Middle East. - By Fred Kaplan - Slate Magazine. If you can conjecture or at least frame Hamas's attraction to Palestinian voters, beyond its own base Old allegiances crumble in battle for Palestinian hearts and minds | Israel and the Middle East | Guardian Unlimited, is based on frustration and represents a desire to send a message then it is possible to return a message that this represents a costly tangent off the road to a lasting settlement.

It was a little surprising to read that talks of some kind were occuring between Israel and Syria regarding their issues Syrian, Israeli backdoor talks now emerging | csmonitor.com. While it was unclear what sort of talks these were, I tend to think that truly independent conversations among academics is so unremarkable that it would never get written up in the papers; therefore what we saw described here probably was low level back-channel diplomacy. One thing that seemed clear about this, that it was over when it was sent public.

This brings up the question of just how much leeway does Israel really have in exploring avenues such as this, Rozen's War and piece web log brought up the subject of the "American Veto" which seems centered largely in the vice presidents office Cheney kept abreast of Israel-Syria talks. One can only hope such oversight extends as much to initiating war as it does to wayward peace talks.


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Thursday, January 11, 2007
 
Seymour Lipset radically American

 I want to point to a Washington Post obituary for for the Political Scientist Seymour Lipset  Political Scientist Seymour Lipset, 84; Studied Democracy and U.S. Culture - washingtonpost.com. I was very taken by his writings and have mentioned him in a couple of posts. Mostly his work dealt with the particular development of America's stabilizing middle class, and why the United States never developed a socialist party or even a true labor party. Trying to understand what the nature of America's essential idealism is. What makes up what is called American Exceptionalism, the title of one of his books and the subject of others such as "It didn't Happen Here". You should be able to look over a fairly complete list of his published monograph works by checking with Worldcat  Search results for 'Seymour Lipset'.  For all the journal and journalistic work, interviews he did, that's between you and your librarian ( Seymour Lipset - Google Scholar).

 The Washington Post said he was president of both the American Sociological Association and the American Political Science Association, at different points. That's a hard working man right there. The Washington Post also quotes Larry Diamond as praising his "belief in 'reason, moderation, tolerance, pragmatism and restraint as the bedrock values of democracy and decent society . . .'" I had no idea Mr. Lipset was such a dangerous radical.  Another thing I didn't realize was that he lived here in the DC area. For some reason I always figure interesting people live elsewhere; like California, New York, or the Hub itself: Boston. Lipset was born in New York, but since 1990 lived in Arlington, VA.


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Monday, January 8, 2007
 
Admiral Fallon

I wanted to be the first, well one of the first, at least not the last, to congratulate Admiral Fallon on his new position as Centcom Adm. William J. Fallon: An Experienced Naval Officer, and a Diplomat - New York Times. A career which has taken him from the Ra5c Vigilante and the RVAH squadrons down in Key West. This was one of my little corners of the military when I was in. I believe he had left by the time I came through RVAH 7 but I'm sure he would remember base features such as the Fleet Hanger (particularly that long hallway with the windows that overlooked the inside of the hanger), Nipstrafac and the base dining-hall (I loved that dining hall). He has been made the new commander of US Central Command, whose area of responsibility includes parts of east africa, the middle east, and parts of central asia United States Central Command - Wikipedia. Regarding the picture accompanying the NYT article : when a guy with a crew cut and a mustache follows you around with a M4A1 you know things are serious.

There are a few potential meanings you could read into something like this. First to pick a commander offering a sense of gravitas. Combining authority and diplomacy in a package compatible with his immediate subordinate, General Petraeus, the theater commander in Iraq Bush to Name a New General to Oversee Iraq - New York Times, underscores the importance of the position. This dovetails in with a desire to seek a commander with a big picture view. The Navy historically has had a greater sensitivity to strategic integrated operations. Another set of viewpoints which have been raised by people like Laura Rozen in her web log War and Piece and her pieces in TAP and elsewhere (these are listed on her weblog) is that picking a senior Navy commander for this position is telegraphing that this may turn into a wider multi-operation war before it stabilizes War Could Last Years, Commander Says - New York Times. Acknowledging that sea interdiction may be  key to wider anti-terrorist operations, as opposed to narrower anti insurgent operations. It is also possible to read in this a view that a war with Iran is considered possible with attendant major theater force projection and sea control operations in the Gulf. It is no great coincidence that Israel "leaks" plans for a nuclear weapons assault against Iran at this time Revealed: Israel plans nuclear strike on Iran - Sunday Times - Times Online. A go-it-alone approach that would seek to succeed where a conventional weapons air campaign, even an extended campaign jointly by the US and Israel together is seen as likely failing to accomplish more then a temporary degrading of Iran's capabilities. After such a strike to the US Navy would fall the repercussions of keeping our oil fueled economy alive in the reaction to follow.

This as good as time as any to point to a little history from the Iran Iraq war: Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). This article from Global Security.Org distills a book length treatment by the US Army war college Lessons learned : the Iran-Iraq War. I 'll outline here for those unlikely to follow these links.

Early events of the conflict include Ayatollah Khomeini being expelled from Iraq in 1977 after fifteen years in An Najaf. Saddam Hussien becomes ruler of Iraq in the years following this. After assassination attempts on Tariq Aziz and another Iraqi official, the Iraqis rounded up "members and supporters of Ad Dawah and deported to Iran thousands of Shias of Iranian origin." In the summer of 1980, Saddam Hussein ordered the executions of Ad Dawah leader Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Baqr as Sadr and his sister. These were the father and aunt of today's Moktada al-Sadr. The disarray in Iran, the (literal) dismemberment of the pre-revolution Iranian military lead Hussein to attempt a war of territorial conquest. After a brief initial success Iran recovers, the war stalls. For the next eight years Iraqi cannot figure out how to get the attrition rates down low enough to make a break through offensive possible. Although with chemical weapons (mustard and nerve gas) they can keep casualties low enough to avoid giving the war up. During the war Iran and Iraq attack each others advanced weapon (nuclear) facilities. Iran attacking Iraq's Osirak complex 30 Sep 1980 (Israel attacks the same target 07 Jun 1981). And Iraq attacking the Bushehr facility in Iran several times during the course of the war.

It wasn't until the phase of the hostilities known as the Tanker War, that gradual international involvement came to the forefront. On 17 May 1987 an Iraqi cruise missile attack on the USS Stark, I believe with French Super-Etendard combat aircraft and an Exocet, killed 37 sailors. The US Government began a reflagging operation to allow the US and allied navies to escort oil tankers through the gulf. This was Earnest Will (Operation Earnest Will - Wikipedia) the first of several Pentagon code-name operations starting from 24 Jul 1987. This was twinned with Operation Prime Chance - Wikipedia a proactive operation mostly aimed at Iranian assets by US special forces. In September 1987 the US seized the Iran Ajr an Iranian mine-laying vessel. Then came Operation Nimble Archer - Wikipedia. After an attack on one of the reflagged tankers on 16 Oct 1987, special ops forces attacked two Iranian oil platforms being used as shipping attack command and control posts on 19 Oct 1987. Things finally culminated with Operation Praying Mantis - Wikipedia. On 14 Apr 1988 a mine explosion severely damaged the USS Samuel B. Roberts, This lead on 18 Apr 1988 to a large scale counter-attack against the Iranian Navy, and other gulf oil platforms it was using. Things ended that day with one large Iranian surface combatant sunk, and another severely damaged. These were destroyer-sized ships and primary units of the Iranian navy. A cruise missile firing patrol vessel appears to have been destroyed as well, and 4-6 smaller tactical craft. Later that summer (03 Jul 1988) the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 killing all 290 people aboard the airliner, while trying to bait bog-hammers (a name for speed boats outfitted with machine guns, recoilless rifles, RPGs and the like the waterborne equivalent of a Technical) to attack it.

The Iranians will recall that the above two events occurred concurrently with a renewed major Iraqi offensive that lead the Iranians to finally agree to a cease fire and end the war. All this was prior to 'Gulf War I' which didn't involve the Iranians except to the extent they saw their enemy defeated, then spared to avenge itself on the Iraqi Shia. This is one reason that they have involved themselves so heavily in Iraqi affairs now. A circumstance that figured into the decisions of 1991.

Iran does not perceive the U S as ever being truly neutral during the 1980's war - which cost 300,000 Iranian lives. U S strategic interests in the region have never amounted to more than to never let the Arabs or Persians agree to anything more among themselves than to sell the west oil and gas unhindered. On this U S neutrality balanced. As the U S contemplates a more confrontational posture with Iran It should be acknowledged that the Iranians have spent as much time thinking of ways to shut the Straits of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf down as we have of keeping it open. There are no cake-walks here.


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Wednesday, January 3, 2007
 
Cordage company

Now it happens that in the first of the towns I grew up in, a town called Plymouth located on many maps at the edge of all land, there was on the north side of town a factory called the Cordage Company. Another factory that made sails was represented only by a stove-in-roofed building and a pit where a water wheel once spun by the side of the yard where I lived, on the south side of town. The Cordage Company sold to a broader market.

I write today of a hanging Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | The trials of occupation. Saddam Hussein's hurried execution Rush to Hang Hussein Was Questioned - New York Times. Who's needs, what purpose was served here. I read it backwards from the undignified actuality, a jeering leering chaotic lynching. I ask: was this a perfectly good hanging ruined or was it what was intended, or at least allowed A Scaffold's Dark Portrait of Iraq. Who cares, what of it? One is tempted to ask. I was sorely tempted. We all do, or ought to, because death is profound and that can not be taken away from it. "[f]or a hanged man is accursed by God" What occurred was not an execution in best practice, but a spectacle which admittedly is what public executions tend towards. I could point out that this was not intended as a public execution, but it obviously became one. A brief look the next few days through Megite and Tailrank showed that the usual assortment of right wing web logs were posting the uncut "cellphone" version of the execution and appeared to be intimately familiar with it. I read one comment I think from an Iraq official who characterized the hanging as a gift to the id of the nation It was unclear whether he meant it as the identity of the [Iraqi] nation or to the id in a Freudian sense - which it more closely fits - to all nations and those that need it.

I am not in favor of death penalties, though not passionately and my concern runs through the laws of Maryland and the other assorted and vaguely united states and their federal government. Capital punishment rests on three weak pillars. The first is the authority of the state by which aegis execution is penalty and not murder. But this presumes the validity that a states monopoly on coercive force gives it. This concept is refined but fragile and artificial, given the longer established regime of tribes and other alternate communities of interest through which vendetta flows. It risks validating what it proscribes. As well such punishment test the limits of human, that is imperfect, knowledge. Even in the old testament guilt seeks to know what is in the mind, what is in the heart what can be known. Just the facts ma-am. It comes to the edge of the subjective / objective divide, a core existential divide and mutely stands there. The third leg is the benefit, the practical. To prevent further transgressing acts by the executed. To communicate this message to a wider audience, prevention by example. To deliver satisfaction. the demand of the people. Somewhere at the back of all this is a further consideration: to achieve justice.

There is a universal aspect to our ideal of justice, that it assesses and encompasses all things. This is in stark counterpoint to our mechanical imitation of justice. It is at end merely a committee vote, what actions does this allow us? The editorialist of the Washington Post would dispense with even this process and procedure of justice, jurisprudence. As long as the sense of injustice and presumption of guilt is felt strongly enough - carry on A Death Sentence Affirmed - washingtonpost.com. What need for justice when you have fire. Another aspect of the universal nature of justice is the notion of universal balance of justice. That justice not made true is injustice, is metaphysical imbalance.

There is an important point here in the grey between justice and vengeance, that of standing. There is a universal standing for true justice, it concerns everyone. This is not commonly held so for vengeance which is a private matter. We can be sympathetic with vengeance not concerning us, but not empathetic. Vengeance does not involve reason. At best it might be considered a primitive rigid rule-based approximation of justice. It is a trap. God as we have our sense of what God expects from us would have us give up, to God, our sense of being wronged, indignation, resentment. "You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people" (Lev 19.18). "Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip." ( Deut. 32:35) And reiterating this in the new: "Beloved, never avenge yourselves but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the lord." (Rom. 12.19). Vengeance is said to possibly be part of justice, a facet of justice. I believe it is something apart. The farmer's dog may look a little like the wolf, walk like it, even sound like it. They may even be in the same yard together, but do not try to tell the hen or the lamb they are the same.

After the expediencies of the moment have run through it there is little left of anything but the bare and practical. In this manner of death Iraq Plans Inquiry Into Hussein Execution - New York Times Hussein grasped some meaning he never earned in his sorry life, something not entirely founded of sheer brutality. An axle to set a cycle of violence and vengeance on. To this wheel we turn and as always there's plenty of rope left.


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