Steve Paulson: Roger Penrose On Why Consciousness Does Not Compute – Nautilus

Like many others, Penrose struggled with the weirdness of quantum theory. “As Schrödinger clearly pointed out with his poor cat, which was dead and alive at the same time, he made this point deliberately to show why his own equation can’t be the whole truth. He was more or less saying, ‘That’s nonsense.’ ” To… Continue reading Steve Paulson: Roger Penrose On Why Consciousness Does Not Compute – Nautilus

What Do Top Legal Experts Say About the Syria Strikes? – Just Security

Stephen Pomper, former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, National Security Council: Thursday night’s missile strikes have the potential to be enormously consequential, not just for Syria and the other countries to whom the U.S. government is trying to send a signal, but for the… Continue reading What Do Top Legal Experts Say About the Syria Strikes? – Just Security

The Deep State vs the Derp State (OAG #10)

Writing recently in Foreign Policy, Brookings Fellow Shadi Hamid, author of several books, numerous articles, and thousands of tweets on Islam and democracy, managed to apply some difficult political-philosophical thoughts – on the nature of liberal democracy as a mixed system, or on liberal-democratic politics in the philosophy of world history – to current events and specifically to the presidency of Donald J Trump. That Hamid helps to explain Trumpism as a phenomenon, a force, and a set of ideas without rancor or aggressive defensiveness – and even while at one point implicitly comparing the typical ground level Trumpist to an Islamist taxi-driver on hashish – further recommends the piece.

In a more informal effort in The Atlantic focused on the question of unelected, nominally non-partisan officials mounting a successful resistance or “soft coup” against the President, Hamid again puts himself in the Trumpist’s place:

If I was a Trump voter, I can imagine being frustrated at this sort-of-deep state working to block or undermine Trump’s agenda. I’d say: Well, I voted for that agenda, and not necessarily some vapid, unthreatening version of it. Presumably, if Bernie Sanders, or someone like him, had won the presidency and decided to radically re-orient U.S. foreign policy, there would be elements within the military and intelligence services that would attempt to “block” him. For these state institutions, it wouldn’t only be a matter of democratic legitimacy but also of something as fundamental as national security. Does that mean that presidents, regardless of what a plurality of voters might want, simply cannot act radically when it comes to foreign affairs or national identity? To what extent are Americans comfortable with that—and are we willing to apply whatever standard we come up with consistently?

Needless to say, not everyone discussing this issue has the benefit of Hamid’s long experience dealing with reactionaries – his specialty having been Middle Eastern religious reactionaries, including the above-referenced cabbie. When, for instance, I recently sought to explain how an intelligence operative might view the illicit exposure of damaging information about a mad or criminal or mad and criminal president as the very soul of duty, a longtime internet friend called my statements “disgusting.”

Shadi Hamid: The End of the End of History – Foreign Policy

We are now condemned to live in exciting times. Boredom is, quite clearly, underrated. At the same time, I must confess that as Trump’s victory settled, my despair was coupled with a rush of blood to the head. I felt my fear, including for my family, giving me a sense of purpose. I at least… Continue reading Shadi Hamid: The End of the End of History – Foreign Policy