#Daesh

IS or ISIL or ISIS or Daesh as “existential” threat

My comment today at “Ordinary Times” (first in more than a year): You think you want to live in a world where the murder of Americans as Americans, or politically, could be broadcast to all, in connection with the rescue

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, Political Philosophy, War Tagged with: , , ,

Chastising Their Insolence

It is hard to imagine a world in which acts like the murders of James Foley and Steven Sotloff simply as Americans, in connection with an American decision to rescue others from imminent annihilation, did not produce among Americans a demand for punishment as both practical and moral necessity. Yet there is a tendency even among many would-be supporters of President Obama, or of his plans to “degrade and ultimately destroy” “the group known as ISIL,” to diminish and disdain politically aggravated homicides as actual and compelling bases for a specifically American reaction.

Posted in Featured, The Exception, US History, War Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Collateral Casualty of the War against War

Carl Schmitt might have been amused by the criticism John Kerry has received for declining to characterize operations against ISIS as “war”: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday would not say the United States is at war with

Posted in Political Philosophy, War Tagged with: , ,

Eve of Containment

Summary: A year ago, Americans were being asked to kill non-enemies because it was abstractly right; now are being asked to kill enemies at war with us.

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, notes, War Tagged with: , , ,

IS/ISIS/ISIL/QSIS/Daesh-related links 2014.8.20-9

…plus a few observations as tweeted. I’m sure I missed a few good pieces (possibly while I was busy yesterday, for instance). Please feel free to link anything interesting or useful in the comments.

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism, Twitterei, War Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Essential Threat

In light of the ritualized sacrifice of a single man, on the altar of what we cannot help but believe – no possible justification – the many may be revealed to us as allies, as “with us,” perhaps first symbolically, but now also practically. Put simply, Foley’s death marks if it does not itself restore American re-engagement on behalf of those we had all but abandoned in the region.

Posted in Featured, Neo-Imperialism, The Exception, War Tagged with: , , ,

Fact, Value, and the Destruction of Daesh

Not very long ago, “Islamic state” might have referred to a Western stereotype of “Mohammadean” passivity and fatalism. Today, while the West sometimes seems to have been overtaken by the condition or some version of it, the phrase now stands

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, War Tagged with: , , ,

From the Featured Archives

Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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