Завтра начинается Сегодня

Posts Tagged ‘war’

In history, philosophy, politics on August 10, 2013 at 19:30

“Whereas the hard power of bullets and bayonets can win battles, it is only soft power that can win wars” – A. C. Grayling

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2012 at 08:39

We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That’s it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.

Sam Harris

Iran Leader: We Must Prep for ‘End of Times’ Reza Kahlili (“WND,” July 9, 2012)

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2012 at 11:38

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s supreme leader, for the first time, is telling his nation that it must prepare for war and “the end of times” as it continues to develop nuclear weapons.

State-owned media outlets, in a coordinated effort, all ran a similar story Friday highlighting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s message on the coming of the last Islamic messiah.

Until now, the Iranian media would mostly quote clerics from seminaries on the issue of the last Islamic messiah to avoid the regime being labeled messianic. However, the wide publication of Khamenei’s statements on a need to prepare for the end of times as it confronts the West over its illicit nuclear program is alarming to Western leaders.

“The issue of Imam Mahdi is of utmost importance, and his reappearance has been clearly stated in our holy religion of Islam,” Khamenei said. We must study and remind ourselves of the end of times and Imam Mahdi’s era. … We must prepare the environment for the coming so that the great leader will come.”

Shiite theology holds that great wars must engulf the Earth, during which one-third of the world’s population will die in the fighting and another third from hunger, lawlessness and havoc. Israel is to be destroyed, and only then will the 12th imam, Mahdi, reappear and kill all the infidels, raising the flag of Islam in all corners of the world. more: http://wwrn.org/articles/37668/?place=iran

An interesting article on Syria:

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2012 at 11:34

Sectarian Violence Undermines Syrian Regime

Posted on Jun 17, 2012

By Juan Cole

The Syrian upheaval has gone through several stages. It began with relatively peaceful protests by crowds in a handful of small and medium-size cities outside the large metropolitan areas of Damascus and Aleppo. Severe repression by the national regime led some revolutionaries to turn to guerrilla tactics. The ruling Baath government subjected the quarters held by the Free Syrian Army to heavy artillery and tank assaults. More recently, as the rebellion continued to spread in small towns, the military has provided cover to death squads that have massacred civilians in an attempt to scare them into submission. The most frightening thing about this spiral of ever greater violence and brutality is that some of the now-hardened lines have been sectarian.

The Syrian army assault on the rebellious Sunni village of al-Haffa in Latakia province, which has left it a ghost town, exemplifies this move toward religious war. Latakia is heavily Alawite, and protecting members of this religious group from Sunni dominance is one of the latent functions of the regime. The upper echelons of the ruling Baath Party and its officer corps are dominated by the Alawite sect of Shiite Islam. Only about 10 percent of Syrians are Alawite. On the order of 70 percent of Syrians belong to the rival Sunni branch of Islam. (Many Syrian Sunnis are secularists.) The car bomb that recently damaged the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zaynab in Damascus may have primarily targeted nearby Intelligence Ministry buildings, but those who detonated it may have been happy enough to hurt Shiite religious sensibilities.

The death squads, Shabiha, deployed by the regime against the towns of Houla and Mazraat al-Qubair in recent weeks are drawn from the Alawi sect. Many of the Sunnis being targeted have been organized by the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. Houla and Mazraat al-Qubair are largely Sunni hamlets surrounded by powerful Alawi towns.

The black-garbed Shabiha, or “ghost gangs,” began as criminal organizations in the Alawite-dominated port of Latakia in the 1970s after the Alawite Assad family came to power in Syria, and some of its members are drawn from the Assad and related Deeb and Makhlouf clans. Although the groups were curbed in the 1990s after they became too arrogant even for the Assads to countenance, they re-emerged in 2011 as paramilitary adjuncts to the army and security police. In Alawite areas, they have been accused of detaining Syrians with Sunni names at checkpoints and doing away with them.

The Baath Party was founded in the 1940s by two Christian intellectuals who advocated a secular Arab nationalism. In some ways, the “Resurrection,” or Baath, party was to resemble the Communist Party, but instead of championing the working class and being universal it would uplift ethnic Arabs and unite them to throw off the vestiges of Western, colonial domination. This attempt to subvert socialism with an appeal to essentially racist themes made the Baath an odd hybrid of fascism and Third-Worldism. Non-Arab minorities in Baath-ruled countries, such as the Kurds, often faced discrimination or worse.

Baathists came to power through coups in Syria and Iraq in the 1960s. Ironically, the Baath one-party state became a vehicle for well-organized minorities to take over the government. Thus, in Syria the Alawite Shiites dominated the Baath regime from 1970, whereas in Iraq control of the ruling Baath party was held by a Sunni clan from Tikrit (that of Saddam Hussein).

Syria’s Baath Party has lasted so long and attracted the loyalty of so many Syrians over the decades in part because it aided Syria’s transition from a rural, peasant country to an urban one. It carried out a land reform that redistributed land to peasants and liquidated the old big-landlord class. The Baathists built dams and irrigation works for farmers, earning the gratitude and support of many rural Sunni clans. Largely rural depot towns such as Deraa in the south near the Jordanian border were among the biggest beneficiaries of these Baath programs, and so were known as strong party backers, producing several high regime officials and officers.

Rural Syria has had a prolonged and severe drought, and the Baath government has not been good in this decade about managing water resources. Rural Sunni clans have suffered most from this water crisis.

A majority of Syrians now live in towns and cities, and their needs are different from those of their farming parents. The Baath Party’s reduction of fuel and other subsidies and encouragement of unaccountable big business have angered the urban population. (These policies, pushed by international banks and elites, are generally referred to as “Neoliberalism.”) Largely Sunni towns have seen high unemployment, especially in slums on outskirts full of former farmworkers forced to seek jobs in the cities, often unsuccessfully.

At its heart, the Syrian crisis is a conflict that pits the urban metropolises (Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia) that benefit from government largesse against the medium-size cities and rural towns that have suffered from drought and Neoliberal policies. It so happens that this divide also aligns, if unevenly, with sectarian cleavages, with the provincial cities and towns being mostly religiously conservative and Sunni, and the big-cities bastions of minority power and secular Sunni business classes dependent on the regime.

The Syrian government’s resort to Alawite death squads in recent weeks, however, has threatened the big-city alliance that has allowed the Baath to survive. The sight of Sunni women and children massacred by the Shabiha in Houla and Mazraat al-Qubair drove Sunni shopkeepers in the capital to instigate a general strike. Protests and small insurgencies are now taking place even in Damascus.

The regime of Bashar Assad squandered whatever good will it had in rural and small-town Syria by its heavy-handed repression of the protests. Among its few remaining assets was the support of Christian, Alawi and secular Sunni middle classes in the large cities, groups that fear the rise of Sunni fundamentalism, are disturbed by the decline of security for property, and benefit from Baath government licenses and contracts. The deployment of Shabiha death squads, however, has clearly pushed many of these former supporters into the opposition. It is now the regime that is threatening public security and fanning the flames of sectarian hatred. If the Syrian revolution finally succeeds, it will be because the Baath regime betrayed its commitments to secularism, socialism and public order, becoming in the eyes of the public just another sectarian mafia.

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 20:13

…religions could never have got started, let alone thrived, unless for the influence of men as fanatical as Moses or Muhammad or Joseph Kony, while charity and relief work, while they may appeal to tenderhearted believers, are the inheritors of modernism and the Enlightement. Before that, religion was spread not by example but as an auxiliary to the more old-fashioned methods of holy war and imperialism

Christopher Hitchens

In Uncategorized on April 12, 2012 at 06:34

Why do I stay silent, conceal for too long
What clearly is and has been
Practiced in war games, at the end of which we as survivors
Are at best footnotes.

It is the alleged right to first strike
That could annihilate the Iranian people—
Enslaved by a loud-mouth
And guided to organized jubilation—
Because in their territory,
It is suspected, a bomb is being built.

Yet why do I forbid myself
To name that other country
In which, for years, even if secretly,
There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand
But beyond control, because no inspection is available?

The universal concealment of these facts,
To which my silence subordinated itself,
I sense as incriminating lies
And force—the punishment is promised
As soon as it is ignored;
The verdict of “anti-Semitism” is familiar.

Now, though, because in my country
Which from time to time has sought and confronted
Its very own crime
That is without compare
In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also
With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares
A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,
Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence
Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,
But as a fear wishes to be conclusive,
I say what must be said.

Why though have I stayed silent until now?
Because I thought my origin,
Afflicted by a stain never to be expunged
Kept the state of Israel, to which I am bound
And wish to stay bound,
From accepting this fact as pronounced truth.

Why do I say only now,
Aged and with my last ink,
That the nuclear power of Israel endangers
The already fragile world peace?
Because it must be said
What even tomorrow may be too late to say;
Also because we—as Germans burdened enough—
Could be the suppliers to a crime
That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity
Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.

And granted: I am silent no longer
Because I am tired of the hypocrisy
Of the West; in addition to which it is to be hoped
That this will free many from silence,
That they may prompt the perpetrator of the recognized danger
To renounce violence and
Likewise insist
That an unhindered and permanent control
Of the Israeli nuclear potential
And the Iranian nuclear sites
Be authorized through an international agency
By the governments of both countries.

Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,
Even more, all people, that in this
Region occupied by mania
Live cheek by jowl among enemies,
And also us, to be helped.

What Must Be Said by

Gunter Grass

Persona non grata in Israel

In Uncategorized on April 11, 2012 at 09:39

FM Lieberman says German author who labeled Israel ‘threat to world peace’ would be willing to ‘sacrifice Jewish nation to sell a few more books.’ Yishai: His poems fan the flames of hatred against Israel

Attila SomfalviPublished:

04.08.12, 12:35 / Israel News  

Interior Minister Eli Yishai declared Guenter Grass Persona non grata in Israel, this after the German Nobel literature laureate published a poem in which he criticized Israel’s nuclear program and labeled the Jewish state a threat to “already fragile world peace” over its stance on Iran.

 Yishai’s move means that Grass, 84, would not be permitted to enter Israel if he asked to do so. “Grass’ poems fan the flames of hatred against Israel and the Israeli people, thus promoting the idea he was a part of when donned an SS uniform. His distorted poems are not welcome in Israel and might receive a following in Iran,” the minister said.

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2012 at 21:01

As for the citizens who held moderate views, they were destroyed by both the extreme parties, either for not taking part in the struggle or in envy at the possibility that they might survive.

Thucydides, the Peloponnesian War

Steven Pinker: ‘Artists used to gush about the beauty of war. The First World War put an end to that’

In Uncategorized on November 10, 2011 at 08:01

Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the psychology department at Harvard University. This newspaper said of his work that “words can hardly do justice to the superlative range and liveliness of Pinker’s investigations”. His latest book The Better Angels of Our Nature argues that humans have never been less violent than we are now. Clint Witchalls asked him to explain:

Clint Witchalls: You say that, over the centuries, violence has been declining, yet most people would view the last century, with its pogroms, death camps and nuclear bombs, as the most violent century. Why was it not?

Steven Pinker: You can’t say that a particular century was the most violent one in history unless you compare it with other centuries.

The supposedly peaceful 19th century had one of the most destructive conflicts in European history (the Napoleonic Wars, with 4 million deaths), the most destructive civil war in history (the Taiping Rebellion in China, with 20 million), the most destructive war in American history (the Civil War, with 650,000), the conquests of Shaka Zulu in southern Africa (1-2 million), the most proportionally destructive interstate war in history (the war of the Triple Alliance in Paraguay, which killed perhaps 60 per cent of the population), slave-raiding wars in Africa (part of a slave trade that killed 37 million people), and imperial and colonial wars in Africa, Asia and the Americas whose death tolls are impossible to estimate. Also, while the Second World War was the most destructive event in human history if you count the absolute number of deaths, if instead you count the proportion of the world’s population that was killed, it only comes in at ninth place among history’s worst atrocities.

I think few people would disagree that the medieval times were tortuous and bloody, yet most imagine primitive tribes living in Edenic bliss. But you claim that these tribes are far from the noble savages portrayed by Rousseau. How homicidal were they?

Steven Pinker: Tribal groups show a lot of variation, but on average around 15 per cent of people in nonstate societies die from violence. This is the average I got from signs of violent trauma in skeletons from 21 prehistoric archaeological sites, and from eight vital statistics from eight hunter-gatherer tribes.

Hunter-horticulturalists and other tribal people have even higher rates of violent death – around 24.5 per cent. By comparison, the rate of deaths from all wars, genocides, and man-made famines in the world as a whole in the 20th century was just 3 per cent. Even the famously peaceful tribes, such as the !Kung and Semai, have homicide rates that rival those from the most violent American cities in their most violent periods.

Why is violence declining? What are the main civilising influences?

Steven Pinker: I identify four major forces: (1) The Leviathan – a government and justice system that deters people from exploiting their neighbours and frees them from cycles of vendetta; (2) Gentle commerce – an infrastructure of trade that makes it cheaper to buy things than to plunder them, and makes other people more valuable alive than dead; (3) Technologies of cosmopolitanism, such as reading, travel and cities, which encourage people to see the world through the eyes of others, and makes it harder to demonise them; (4) Technologies of reason, like literacy, science, history, and education, which make it harder for people to privilege their own tribe’s interests over others’, and reframe violence as a problem to be solved rather than a contest to be won.

Humans are very good at ignoring the big problems: climate change, overpopulation, dwindling resources. Won’t it be a matter of decades before the next global conflagration hits us?

Steven Pinker: Maybe, but maybe not. For one thing, it’s not a certainty that human will and ingenuity will fail to rise to the challenge. For another, the connection between war and resource shortages is tenuous. Most wars are not fought over shortages of resources such as food and water, but rather over conquest, revenge, and ideology. Nor do most shortages of resources lead to war.

For example, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s didn’t lead to an American civil war (we did have a Civil War, but it was about something completely different); nor did the tsunamis of 2003 and 2011 lead to war in Indonesia or Japan. And several studies of recent armed conflicts have failed to find a correlation between drought or other forms of environmental degradation and war.

Climate change could produce a lot of misery and waste without necessarily leading to large-scale armed conflict, which depends more on ideology and bad governance than on resource scarcity.

In Better Angels, you describe Pepys witnessing a man being hung, drawn and quartered. Afterwards, clearly unperturbed, Samuel Pepys goes to the pub with his friends. Fast forward a few centuries and people are being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after witnessing the 9/11 attacks on TV. Do you think a long peace might be detrimental to the robustness of humankind and hence might be our undoing?

Steven Pinker: That’s the least of our worries. A century ago artists, critics and intellectuals gushed about the beauty and nobility of war, with its fostering of manliness, solidarity, courage, hardiness, and self-sacrifice. The First World War put an end to that. Better a little PTSD, I say, than the kind of indifference to the lives of men that resulted in the Battle of the Somme.

Nor has the Long Peace turned us into a civilisation of selfish wimps. However traumatic 9/11 may have been to some small number of people, it didn’t stand in the way of heroic rescues, the rapid clearing of Ground Zero, and (for better or worse) a quick and successful invasion of Afghanistan.

‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Decline of Violence in History and Its Causes’ by Steven Pinker is published by Allen Lane (£30).

Prevention is better

In politics, relationship, religion on October 25, 2011 at 07:26

The thing which can prevent “the ugly sisters” (religion, nationalism, ideology) to completely take over peoples’ minds is a good broad education. Not that there couldn’t be a well educated “monster” but in majority people become wiser when learned and are less liked to get their minds scrambled. Even more important is the possibility of free interaction with people of many different opinions and sets of mind. Then its obvious that other people, not sharing imposed on you worldview, are quite normal, kind, happy, not some strange evil creatures as may be pictured by “ugly sisters'”propaganda.

Of course a radical communist, a racist or a religious fanatic could look nice, clever and kind on the surface too. But I think after a wile and after some “digging” the difference between a free thinker and an affected person will be obvious to anybody. There are millions of people in the world mildly affected by one or all three of “ugly sisters”. They are OK. For the moment. But I have a feeling there is always a possibility of them moving towards a fanatical end.

I’m not normally in favor of military intervention by any country unless its absolutely necessary to prevent a genocide. I think if anybody want to help people living under tyranny, cruel law and with closed minds they should help to educate them, to broaden their minds. Invite lots of them into your universities, broadcast to them, send your teachers to them. And then the bloodshed may not be needed at all.

%d bloggers like this: