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Archive for July, 2006

Collateral Damage

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 31, 2006


Collateral damage is a military euphemism that was made popular during the Vietnam War (Army Technology). But the euphemism has now been in use so long that it is accepted as a correct and proper term within military forces, meaning “unintentional damage or incidental damage affecting facilities, equipment or personnel, occurring as a result of military actions directed against targeted enemy forces or facilities. Such damage can occur to friendly, neutral, and even enemy forces” (USAF Intelligence Targeting Guide). Note that this definition is not concerned with what is major or minor, lawful or unlawful (war crime), civilian or military, legitimate or not. The only thing relevant is if the damage was intended by those causing it. If it was targeted, it is not collateral. Even if it were enemy forces, if it was not targeted it is collateral. Etymologically, the expression “collateral damage” is a construction so convoluted that it probably was originally used as military doublespeak rather than a euphemism, as the adjective “collateral” doesn’t seem to have been used as a synonym for “unintentional” or “accidental” earlier. “Collateral” comes from medieval Latin collateralis, from col- ‘together with’ + lateralis (from latus, later- ‘side’ ) and is otherwise mainly used as a synonym for “parallel” or “additional” in certain expressions (“collateral veins” run parallel to each other and “collateral security” means additional security to the main obligation in a contract). However, “collateral” may also sometimes mean “additional but subordinate,” i.e. “secondary” (“collateral meanings of a word”), and that specific meaning of a rather obscure word in the English language seems to have been picked up and broadened by the military in the expression “collateral damage.” (from Wikipedia)

I do not like the term “collateral damage”. The way it is used implies both a premeditated intention or calculation and an fatalistic acceptance of loss of civilian life, casualties and material values. We all know that in war civilians suffer, get hit and killed, but knowing this and deliberately calculate with actual “acceptable numbers” of civilian casualties are two completely different and diametrically opposed things. The former is a matter of insight and common sense – the latter is nothing but crass, cold-hearted and dehumanizing cynicism. Collateral damage is just another way of reducing human life to a dispensable nuisance.

The term collateral damage is even more sinister when it is used, openly or in attitude, about one’s own civilians. Most countries do their best to protect their citizens during war – it’s a natural response to threat, to want to move the civilians out of the way. That is the job of the Army and Leadership of a country – to safe-guard the civilian population.

So what do we say about “soldiers” and “officers” who deliberately move the civilians close to military posts or stop them from leaving/fleeing the area with the intention of them getting hurt or killed? How is that even conceivable?

Loss of life can never be acceptable. Every death, even that of an enemy soldier, should be lamented as a tragedy.

Shalom!

Posted in Human Rights | 2 Comments »

Better News

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 31, 2006


Moshe Reads an Arab Newspaper

A story is told of a Jewish man who was riding on the subway reading an Arab newspaper. A friend of his, who happened to be riding in the same subway car, noticed this strange phenomenon. Very upset, he approached the newspaper reader.

“Moshe, have you lost your mind? Why are you reading an Arab newspaper?”Moshe replied, “I used to read the Jewish newspaper, but what did I find? Jews being persecuted, Israel being attacked, Jews disappearing through assimilation and intermarriage, Jews living in poverty. So I switched to the Arab newspaper. Now what do I find? Jews own all the banks, Jews control the media, Jews are all rich and powerful, Jews rule the world. The news is so much better!”From Belief.net

Shalom!

Posted in General | Leave a Comment »

Bad Moves: False dichotomies

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 31, 2006


By Julian Baggini

“Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” George W Bush, 20 Sept 2001.

You couldn’t get a starker demonstration of a false dichotomy than President Bush’s bold statement, made shortly after the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. A false dichotomy presents two options as though these exhausted all the possibilities, when in fact there are other choices available. In this example, one alternative to Bush’s choice is to oppose terrorism but also to oppose America’s preferred methods of dealing with it. A person or country that adopts that line is not with President Bush, but nor are they with the terrorists.

On a charitable interpretation of Bush’s speech, he wasn’t really trying to suggest that the choice was so stark. He continued by saying, “From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbour or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” This suggests that not being “with us” requires acquiescence with terrorists and not just failure to support US policy.

Indeed, when Bush repeated the dichotomy a few weeks later, in the context of a crackdown on terrorist finances, again the main message seemed to be that turning a blind eye to terrorism counted as being against America in its fight against it.

However, if this is true, why did Bush not only choose these particular words but also to repeat the same formulation again? The answer could be that as a description of the facts, the dichotomy is false. But as a description of America’s intentions, they sent out a clear message. As a matter of fact, you may be with neither the terrorists nor America. But if you choose not to be with America, America will view you as being against her. America makes the untruth of the false dichotomy true by deciding that it will treat all those who are not with her as being against her, whether they see themselves in that way or not. This is one reason why many Europeans have accused Bush’s administration of adopting a bullying attitude.

Whichever way you interpret Bush’s words, it is clear that taken literally they are just false. Yet the rhetorical trick of presenting a false dichotomy (or false set of more options than two) is very popular. You often see a version of it in Christian evangelical literature. Christ, they say, claimed to be the son of God. He must have been telling the truth, lying or mad. There is no evidence that he was a liar or mad, so therefore he must have been telling the truth.

Of course, the problem is again that the options presented don’t exhaust the possibilities. Jesus may well not have claimed any such thing – the Gospels may be unreliable. He may also have meant something more metaphorical. After all, in Genesis it is said that “When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.” (6:1-2)
So clearly being the son of God isn’t a unique achievement and may mean something less than it is usually taken to be. Whichever way you look at it, there are more than the three options presented.

If we were to be too strict in our policing of false dichotomies, we would be robbed of some great quotes. “Life is either a great adventure or nothing,” said Helen Keller. Well, no, but I see her point and it wouldn’t have quite the same ring suitably qualified. Ditto Anthony Robbins’ maxim, “In life you need either inspiration or desperation.” Better still, Max Lerner’s warning, “Either men will learn to live like brothers, or they will die like beasts,” is no less forceful for being literally false.

The false dichotomy is a great simplifier. It cuts out all the complexity of an issue and presents just two choices, take ’em or leave ’em. There are times when rhetorical force justifies this wilful simplification. But we have to remember that it is simplification. If we accept such dichotomies too easily or at face value, then we are in danger of imagining the world is all black and white and we will miss the critical shades of grey.

Julian Baggini is editor of The Philosophers’ Magazine.

Shalom!

Posted in False dichotomies, President Bush | Leave a Comment »

In War, Truth is the first casulty.

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 30, 2006


They say that in War, Truth is the first casulty. Nowhere is this so graphically illustrated as in the on-going Verbal War between the supporters of either Israel or the Arab Palestinians. Anything presented by those of more moderate minds is blatantly disregarded as “Zionist propaganda” or “Terrorist Propaganda” – posters are refered to as massmurderers, Nazis, by implication/insinuation compared to infamous Nazi doctors and had their intelligence insulted.

Every coin has two sides – and while those of more moderate minds tend to strive for balance in discussion – i.e present “the other side” when the other “other side” seem to present nothing but malicious propaganda – which is the case here. The actual FACTS are either buried in inflamatory rhetoric or attacked as lies.

The truth is always somewhere in-between two extremist points. The problem is that in this case the moderates are considered “extremist” by the Extreme Extremists… so the middle-ground is pushed and shoved at as if they were the “Extreme Other Side”.

That is not fair, nor is it conducive to a fruitful debate.

If we claim that we want a fair and just resolution to the conflict in the Middle East, ALL have to step up and stop being extremists.

Extremism is the complete opposite of Truth – it always have been it always will be. Extremism, whether Right or Left.

The Left-wing Extremism and Anti-Semitism is really no diffrent than the Right-Wing Dito – both are hard at work with Assasinating Truth, Justice, Intellectual Honesty and Objectivity.

Shalom!

Posted in War | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Peace Plan for the Middle East?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 27, 2006


A friend asked me to, in one sentence explain what is needed by Israel and in this case Lebanon to avoid the erradication of the next generation.I wrote this down as a response to her:

“To answer your questions – I ‘ll give you one-liners I think is pertinent for a true and peaceful solution.

1. Israel needs to stop settling out-side the borders of 1948.

This includes removing the wall where it intrudes on Palestinian territory – if Israel wishes to let its border be marked by a Wall around all of Israel, for protection – that is its prerogative, it is also its prerogative to have check-points with whatever kind of control mechanisms it thinks necessary along said border – like any other country.

2. The Arabs, including the Palestinians, need to accept Israel within the borders of 1948. This includes stopping any violent actions against Israel as a Nation or Israeli civilians and military.

3. The International Community needs to take control of areas of religious contention.

That includes the entirety of Jerusalem and any other religious sites that are of significance to the Abrahamic Faiths. Those areas should NEVER be controlled by any of the parties to the conflict, Jewish, Muslim or Xian.

4. The Palestinians need to stop whining about pieces of land that were lost fair and square in the 1948 war.

This means concentrating on doing what the Jews have been doing for 100 years in the area – building a fertile country that can and will sustain their population.

5. The Arab Nations, rich with oil and loaded with money, need to stop spending their money on weapons to terrorist organizations.

This means starting to actively aid the Palestinians build a fertile Homeland within the Palestinian borders of 1948.

6. Mrs Arafat’s bank accounts need to be seized by International Law-Enforcement. That money need to be distributed to the Palestinians, as the money was originally meant for them.

Harsh? Yes. But it is a fact that The Arabs lost the war in 1948 – just like Finland lost Karelia and Petsamo in 1944. Israel was military on an equal footing with the Arabs at that time, or let’s say they were, not to embarrass the Arabs. The Arabs had every chance to expell the Jewish People – they failed. The division of the area in two parts, one Jewish and one Palestinian is a fact. The Arabs need to accept that. That is the only way there is ever going to be peace.”

Shalom!

Posted in Israel, Palestine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nazis in the US Army…

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 12, 2006


“An article in the National Alliance magazine Resistance urged skinheads to join the Army and insist on being assigned to light infantry units.

The Southern Poverty Law Center identified the author as Steven Barry, who it said was a former Special Forces officer who was the alliance’s “military unit coordinator.”

“Light infantry is your branch of choice because the coming race war and the ethnic cleansing to follow will be very much an infantryman’s war,” he wrote. “It will be house-to-house, neighborhood-by-neighborhood until your town or city is cleared and the alien races are driven into the countryside where they can be hunted down and ‘cleansed.’ ”

He concluded: “As a professional soldier, my goal is to fill the ranks of the United States Army with skinheads. As street brawlers, you will be useless in the coming race war. As trained infantrymen, you will join the ranks of the Aryan warrior brotherhood.” (New York Times)

Nothing in this surprises me – what does surprise me is that the Bush Admin is letting it past the printers. This story only confirms what the rest of the world already knows – that Bush and Co. and Hitler and Co has a lot more in common than what the average Amrican knows and will admit.

Let’s not be duped – Aryan Nation and National Alliance may be called “neo-nazis” and “white supremacists” by the press – those labels are misleading – there is nothing “neo” about their Nazism – it’s just the plain old stuff wrapped in a nicer paper by the press, so we won’t think that those good American boys are REAL Nazis.

News Flash!: They are. They always have been. Bush and Co are just the Upper and Middle Class version of it, so no wonder they go about recruting grunts from the lower tiers in Society, grunts make good cannon-fodder.

Shalom!

Posted in Neo-Nazis | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Old Habits Die Hard

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on July 11, 2006


Last Week’s Parasha – Chukkat
Ok, so I am bit slow, I admit. I just had to mull this over for a bit.Bamidbar/Numbers 20:6-12

“Moses and Aaron moved away from the assembly to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, and they fell on their faces. [Then] the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Take the staff and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and speak to the rock in their presence so that it will give forth its water. You shall bring forth water for them from the rock and give the congregation and their livestock to drink.” Moses took the staff from before the Lord as He had commanded him. Moses and Aaron assembled the congregation in front of the rock, and he said to them, “Now listen, you rebels, can we draw water for you from this rock?” Moses raised his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, when an abundance of water gushed forth, and the congregation and their livestock drank. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Since you did not have faith in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly to the Land which I have given them.” (translation from Chabad.org)

Why did Moshe use his Staff and not his Voice? One reason I can see is that old habits die hard. For almost 40 years had Moshe been striking rocks for water so the people could drink – and now G-d decides to change the MO – it really isn’t fair to Moshe, but there it is – “Do it Differently”. Tough luck Moshe, that you, like the rest of us, are human and follow what you KNOW to be effective, rather than follow directives…for most of us it’s about throwing away “extra” screws or forgetting the salt when assembling IKEA furniture or making Chopped Liver – it can be fixed, no real damage done – but for Moshe it meant the end of a Dream. Old Habits Die Hard.

Another angle on this story focuses on the entirety of the Freedom March that starts in Shemot and ends in Devarim – on that of Generations. The Generation that left Egypt to become Free is at this stage dying off, one by one – Miriam is gone, Aharon is about to go, and it’s time for Moshe to turn his staff over to Joshua. It’s a matter of a Shift, from Action to Words. Each step of the way, the old Generation had trusted the tangible signs brought by Moshe’s Actions – but now, as the new Generation takes over, new methods to impart faith and loyalty are required.

Why? Because, the old Generation stood for that which is Revealed – The Torah Covenant on Sinai – the new Generation stands for that which is Carried – The Torah Itself.

For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?” Rather,[this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it. (Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:14.)

For that shift to take place visually, Moshe needs to do it the old way, despite the directives from G-D. That which worked in the Desert will not work in the Land – perhaps Moshe recognizes this need for a shift, and deliberately disobeys G-D, to so-to-speak, get rid of himself, for surely he knows that direct disobedience will result in punishment, in that case, what Moshe does is a very brave thing – like Avraham before him, he risks angering G-D to rescue his People

And Abraham approached and said, “Will You even destroy the righteous with the wicked? Perhaps there are fifty righteous men in the midst of the city; will You even destroy and not forgive the place for the sake of the fifty righteous men who are in its midst? Far be it from You to do a thing such as this, to put to death the righteous with the wicked so that the righteous should be like the wicked. Far be it from You! Will the Judge of the entire earth not perform justice?” And the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous men within the city, I will forgive the entire place for their sake.” And Abraham answered and said, “Behold now I have commenced to speak to the Lord, although I am dust and ashes. Perhaps the fifty righteous men will be missing five. Will You destroy the entire city because of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy if I find there forty-five.” And he continued further to speak to Him, and he said, “Perhaps forty will be found there.” And He said, “I will not do it for the sake of the forty.”
And he said, “Please, let the Lord’s wrath not be kindled, and I will speak. Perhaps thirty will be found there.” And He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” And he said, “Behold now I have desired to speak to the Lord, perhaps twenty will be found there.” And He said, “I will not destroy for the sake of the twenty.” And he said, “Please, let the Lord’s wrath not be kindled, and I will speak yet this time, perhaps ten will be found there.” And He said, “I will not destroy for the sake of the ten.” And the Lord departed when He finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.(Bereshit/Genesis 18:23-33).

Moshe is Playing Chess with G-D and he wins – one would think that G-D ought to have learned from Avraham – “never argue with dedication…”

Shalom!

Posted in Torah, Weekly Parasha | Leave a Comment »

 
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