Monday, May 09, 2011
Chomsky inked a column describing his reaction to the news that Osama bin Laden is dead. It's a good example of his sophism.
Chomsky is by training a linguist. When I objected to a particularly egregious and damaging usage of words - the same phrase meant the opposite thing in two cultures, but the same op-ed was intended for both - he replied that it was "all part of The Game." "The Game" - stretching words to their limits so their individual use may be technically correct but their application in context adds up to a falsehood - is what he does for kicks.
He snows people because not everyone grasps (as Chomsky does) that different words can describe the same thing but only apply in particular contexts. By using the word inappropriately he compels the unwary reader to change his or her characterization of an act. For example, he refers to the 1944 Normandy landings as "the U.S. invasion of France". This is technically true, but contextually and emotionally false: France had already been invaded by the Nazis and was under Nazi occupation; furthermore, the French did not consider it a hostile invasion ("hostile" is usually implied when the word "invasion" is employed, but that's a cultural not linguistic truth, get it?) but instead as liberation.
But if you listen to Chomsky and you didn't truly understand events or context you might be convinced that the U.S. was an aggressor in WWII and the Nazis (and French) mere victims. He's recognized as a dishonest academic; that's why he couldn't get a lecture hall when he visited my campus and had to lecture in the coffee shop instead.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
“# Saudi Jawa Said: May:02:2011 - 14:13 What an interesting story. Not only in the developing details, but on its impact on the world. Americans are (understandably) celebrating, but the effect on Saudis (and Muslims in general) is curious indeed. Most Saudi and Muslims I’ve talked to seemed kind of shell shocked at the moment. While most of them did not agree with his acts, OBL had become a symbol of the Anti-American Muslim. Its an often used tactic when debating how powerful the US is by saying: “They can’t even find OBL!”. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Che Guivara style postmortem worship cults to arise. Expect to see conspiracy theories breed like rabbits.
# Solomon2 Said: May:02:2011 - 14:31 “Most Saudi and Muslims I’ve talked to seemed kind of shell shocked at the moment. While most of them did not agree with his acts, OBL had become a symbol of the Anti-American Muslim. Its an often used tactic when debating how powerful the US is -” So for “most Saudis and Muslims” OBL represented a never-dying ambition for domination over all others? A goal they feel is suppressed only by the power of non-Muslim nations? And thus these Muslims feel shocked and depressed by the demise of this symbol of their hope, whose tactics they disagreed with but whose publicly-declared goals they shared?”
“Saudi Jawa Said: May:02:2011 - 15:32 ”
“In a word; yes. A lot of Muslims still harbor the fantasy of the “Mulsim Umma” coming back as a super power. To most, the main obstacle in that road is the “Great Devil” AKA the USA. So a lot of them cling to any Anti-US symbol. I mean look at the level of hero worship Saddam got after he was executed. All his evil past deeds were forgotten, and he was elevated to the level of a celestial hero who got his face imprinted on the moon. The moon for chrissakes! A lot of them are hiding their shock under the guise of “speak no ill of the dead”, but it’s not particularly hard to spot.”
“Solomon2 Said: May:02:2011 - 19:27 “A lot of Muslims still harbor the fantasy of the “Mulsim Umma” coming back as a super power. To most, the main obstacle in that road is the “Great Devil” AKA the USA. So a lot of them cling to any Anti-US symbol. I mean look at the level of hero worship Saddam got after he was executed. All his evil past deeds were forgotten, and he was elevated to the level of a celestial hero who got his face imprinted on the moon. ” Jawa, do you agree with the words of one commentator: “Year after year, since 9/11, Osama Bin Laden was at the top of the list of most admired figures in the Islamic world, along with Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat, especially in mostly Sunni nations, but even in Shi’ite ones. That’s because he “did it” to America…sure sounds like Bin Laden is an Islamic leader to me. To deny that is simply more Obama Osama politically correct Islamo-pandering. Muslims loved Bin Laden. In a world dominated by conspiracy theories, they wanted it both ways, insisting that the Jews, the CIA, the Bush Administration and the Mossad did 9/11, not Bin Laden; and yet at the same time cheering on and admiring Bin Laden for murdering 3,000 Americans, because they knew he really did it…Osama Bin Laden was not only AN Islamic leader, he was THE Islamic leader.””
“Saudi Jawa Said: May:02:2011 - 23:27 @Solomon2 Hmmm. While I do agree in principal with the comment (where is it from BTW?), I’m not sure about the strength of the feeling he describes in Muslims. While it is true a lot of them admired OBL, I would say very few *loved* him. And I am not sure I would agree with the “THE Muslim leader”. He was definitely influential, and the lack of other strong Islamic figures around its easy to make that assumption. But I think that enough Muslims disagree with the lengths he went to that only a radical few would consider him in that light. An interesting thought exercise is to imagine what would happen if Bin Ladin had restricted his actions to purely non-Muslim targets.”
“Solomon2 Said: May:03:2011 - 13:43 S2: “Muslims loved Bin Laden. In a world dominated by conspiracy theories, they wanted it both ways, insisting that the Jews, the CIA, the Bush Administration and the Mossad did 9/11, not Bin Laden; and yet at the same time cheering on and admiring Bin Laden for murdering 3,000” SJ: While I do agree in principal with the comment (where is it from BTW?), I’m not sure about the strength of the feeling he describes in Muslims. Source: lawyer and movie reviewer Debbie Schlussel.”
Read more about Usama Bin Laden Dead | Crossroads Arabia on:
The emperors’ clothes
...Some do try and clutch at straws. Maybe they didn’t know. Maybe they’re so daft they didn’t really take this whole business of
pursuing Al Qaeda seriously. Maybe they just didn’t think it was their problem.
But those voices, unconvinced by their own words, quickly trail off … They knew. They knew he was there....
...Why would they do it? What did they hope to gain? Pakistan has nothing in common with Al Qaeda. They serve no purpose to us; there is no confluence of interests that can be imagined.
Did we think we could produce him like a rabbit out of the hat when we needed to? Did we think if we turned him over, the American attention span would lapse and they’d move on, leaving us unable to suckle at the teats of the superpower?
Or, assured in our assumptions about the world around us, did we simply think we could get away with it?
It makes no sense. And yet, perhaps there was an inevitability to this. Did the 1965 war make any sense? It was hard to find any sense to it then, even less so today.
Did Kargil make any sense? Not then, not today.
Did hawking nuclear paraphernalia on the international market make any sense? Buying did perhaps, but selling? And now we
have the world’s most-wanted terrorist recovered from the bosom of the Pakistani security establishment.
So maybe it does make sense after all. The establishment has flirted with irrationality in the past. Now it appears to have
Where do we go from here as a country?
As long as national security and foreign policy remain in the hands of a cabal of generals — unaccountable and untouchable, a
lay unto themselves, and in thrall to their own irrational logic — what future can this country have? Surely, not much of a
Is self-correction an option? Good luck trying to find anyone in the homeland or beyond with even a modicum of knowledge
and understanding of the institution who believes it is capable of reforming itself.
What you will find are retired officers who will tell you what it feels like to be the masters of the universe, part of the inner core
of the establishment. How your feet leave the ground as the world gathers beneath you, bowing and scraping for crumbs
thrown their way. The view from the inside, the inner core, is of limitless power. The view from the outside is of a perch almost
designed to abjure humility and rationality.
What you will find are bureaucrats with decades of experience who ultimately concede that peace with India is unacceptable to the army on any terms. What you will find are diplomats who scoff at the possibility of Musharraf being able to seal a deal on Kashmir with India. Being Numero Uno at home requires having Enemy No 1 across the border.
Zia’s army, Musharraf’s army, Kakar and Karamat’s army — it may seem difficult to reconcile the differences. But while they were very different men, the strategic orientation of the army has more or less been the same. Some addressed the strategic imperatives from a religious angle, others from a more secular angle, but it has always been the army’s angle.
Can anything be done?...
...It is unlikely that Osama was being hosted by Pakistan as a matter of policy. Shielding Afghan Taliban leaders or India-focused militant leaders, however misconceived, is still understandable as part of a warped strategy to promote our defined strategic interests. Hosting Bin Laden or other Al Qaeda leaders isn’t.
Further, the assumption that our military and the ISI must have known of Osama’s presence in Abbottabad is the product of a narrative that projects our national security establishment as extremely capable, effective and omnipresent. This narrative has been conjured up by the national security establishment itself and mercilessly fed to the nation.The masses buy into it for lack of an alternative narrative and a misplaced sense of nationalism. The political class and the media buy into it because they remain subjects of the ISI’s intrusive gaze, being followed, wiretapped, photographed, interrogated, cajoled and coerced. But hard facts do not back this narrative.
Washington Post: In Killing Osama, U.S. had the law on its Side
Dawn: U.S. Intervention: Was it Legal?
...Any statement from the UN welcoming this intervention would strengthen the argument for future interventions. The UN has thus cautiously avoided weakening the norm of ‘non-intervention’, which is one of the most respected principles in international law and politics...Intervention of this nature becomes legitimate only if it is authorised by the UN or a competent regional entity or if it is carried out pursuant to the consent of the state where it has taken place.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Bush didn't become a hero because the U.S. defeated Saddam, did he? Obama became a hero because he dared greatly and without perfect knowledge to successfully accomplish his goal. Look at this photo the White House released. The professionals are calm, Hillary is horrified, but Obama, as one commentator put it, looked like a guy watching a sporting event immediately after calling his bookie. Who knew?