View 843 Friday, September 19, 2014
“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009
Chaos Manor Reviews is back.
After 36 months I have restarted the column. My managing editor is posting it in parts, one part a week, but with luck I’ll get well ahead of him. The entire September column is done, and I intend to have the October column done in the first two weeks of October.
You may also comment at Chaos Manor Reviews. I’ll read the comments, but I am not the editor of that section. I may have comments of my own. The intent is to have rational discussions, which sometimes happens on the Internet, but all too often they degenerate into something else; we intend to prevent that. The policy on letters here at View continues unchanged: send me mail. I post some of it.
You will note that we try to keep politics out of Chaos Manor Reviews, which is mostly about using technology although we do have discussions of its effects.
A Strategy for Defeating the Caliphate
Now that the column is done, edited, rewritten, and generally fussed with, I’ve time for the strategy theme.
I have been opposed to US involvements in the territorial disputes of Europe and the Middle East. There were US interests involved in the defeat of the Taliban, and that was done in a matter of weeks once the US committed to that goal. After that came the fantasy of nation building and constructing a liberal democracy in a country that needs a Charlemagne or an Akbar. See Chapter One of John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty.
Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion. Until then, there is nothing for them but implicit obedience to an Akbar or a Charlemagne, if they are so fortunate as to find one.
J.S. Mill On Liberty
The one thing that unites the Afghan people is the sight of foreign armies in their land. Anyone with any familiarity of the history of that land, from the time of Alexander the Great to the present, would know that.
We were equally foolish in taking sides in the Balkans, where two factions sought to eliminate the presence of the other. When we stopped the ethnic cleansing practiced by one faction, we gave the other its shot at the same practices. At no point was there a US interest.
And the failure of America in Iraq needs no discussion.
The Caliphate does form a threat to the Unites States, and must be dealt with. Fortunately we have the means to do that, so long as we set rational war aims.
More on this next week.
I’ve just come back from almost 20 days in Israel including the first two days of this (so called) truce, I say so called because in the last three days well over 60 missiles have been launched against the border towns in Israel and the IDF has mostly responded.
Life in Israel does go on, people go to work, school is out so there’s the problem of what to do with the kids, where is it safe for them to go, nevertheless you noticed much lower traffic levels and people sticking to doing exactly what they needed to do. In a large country like the US it may be difficult to understand the moral impact of the deaths of those 63 men had. To gauge it properly one would have to have a kid in the army or to be stand at the central station in Beersheba (when the weekend ends and busses and trains arrive bringing the soldiers in) everyone of those soldiers is someone’s son, and while this may seem trite it is a powerful truth at the most basic levels in Israeli society. This in turn, together with a keen acknowledgement of the suffering experienced by southern communities (which have been showered with mortars and missiles for years, but out of sight etc.) have led to a new position among many Israelis. There has to be a solution, but there is strong resistance to any kind of proposal that will leave Hamas armed and able to replenish its stores. Meanwhile the fact that the Jewish state did not roll over and play dead does not sit well with many governments, not only Erdogan in Turkey said that Jews should condemn Israel, many Latin American governments, supposedly democratic ones, have followed Brazil’s lead in attacking Israel. And that in turn when taken with the very public declarations made by officials all over the place is driving anti-Semitism to levels unseen in 50 years (since the Eichmann trials). Please note, this is not impromptu anti-Semitism, when someone takes all night to pay anti Jewish signs along 3 miles of highway it speaks of an organization with a lot of people willing to do such work. And history teaches, clearly, what follows. Latin American governments see nothing wrong in Iran, ISIS, the slaughter of Nazarene Christians in the Middle East and the extinction of ancient communities, but they will solidly stand with the political and ideological blood brothers (and I mean blood in the literal sense as Hamas has hounded and persecuted Christians in Gaza for quite some time) of such barbarians. Evidently the left leaning governments of the region believed there is no risk in promoting these anti-western parties. It may well be that they will find out they were wrong, but by then it’ll be way too late.
I’m no authority on sin, but despair is not an option, my grandparents survived the Zar’s (and his Cossack’s) pogroms, we need, as a civilization, to find a way to stand up to this new crop of culture killers. Upon reading about their cruelty and ruthlessness I’m inclined to believe the story about the burning of the Alexandria library authorized by an Arab chieftain who said "the Koran is enough".
The ISIS jihadists believe they are doing God’s will. As did the Crusaders who shouted God wills it! And the language of the Koran is plain and clear (of course I have comprehended only translations, and the Koran explicitly states that it cannot be translated, but bilingual frie3nds tell me.)
‘What he and later modern historians of early science found is that the Enlightenment myths of the Middle Ages as a scientific dark age suppressed by the dead hand of an oppressive Church were nonsense.’
The constitutional issue was resolved in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, 542 U.S. 177 (2004). If a police officer has reasonable suspicion (note–this is not the same as probable cause) to believe a criminal offense has been committed, he’s entitled to demand identification and arrest someone who refuses that demand. A complaint, even an anonymous one, is probably sufficient for reasonable suspicion. The demand for identification is part of a policeman’s investigation of a possible offense, and refusal to provide it is (or may be, at least) obstruction of a police officer in the performance of his duty. The Nevada case was founded in part on a Nevada statute that authorized stop-and-identify but only upon upon reasonable suspicion. Absent such a statute (does CA have such?), it would appear that the officer has no such right.
It is more a question of what is law. There was once a view that took law more seriously, and legislation was more a matter of discovery than of creation. We have lost that view. Note that the Caliphate does not have that problem. For them there is no bad law, because bad law is no law at all, but mankind usurping the role of God.
One need not go that far to question whether rules and procedures created by politicians necessarily deserve the respect and reverence that Americans once had for The Law (Lincoln’s famous speech on that was once a highlight of a visit to Disneyland; this was intentional on Walter Knott’s part.)
We will discuss this again in future: but I do point out that rule of law is a key concept in American history and is usually credited with American success; and there has long been a strong American intellectual defense of the notion that Law is more than the mutterings of a legislature. Does one have a moral obligation to obey and defend bad law made by politicians in their own interest? Do the police and army?
For another time.
And for those who didn’t see it:
For one thought about the implications of 3D printing, see the short-short story by Mary Lowd at http://dailysciencefiction.com/science-fiction/robots-and-computers/mary-e-lowd/pegacornus-rex It takes almost no time to read, and it has a point.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.