Plato's Guns

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Month: April, 2016

The Cowards’ Wars – Luciana Bohne/CounterPunch

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As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods.

They kill us for their sport

— Edgar in William Shakespeare’s “King Lear”

[The condemnation of Radovan Karadzic to forty years of imprisonment by the International Crime Tribunal-Yugoslavia occasions these reflections.]

They come; they see; people die. They laugh. Or say it was worth it. Their maps are not a territory inhabited by living beings; they are military targets. They bomb from safe altitudes, no lower than 15,000 feet (Yugoslavia, 1999, for example) to protect their own volunteer warriors. In 38,000 sorties and 22,000 tons of bombs in three months (Yugoslavia, 1999), they never lost a plane. They promise the people their bombs will not harm a hair on their heads; then, they bomb markets and bridges at noon, when people are at their thickest; the say they are as careful at noon as they are at midnight. They claim they have nothing against the people—only against their leaders; then they bomb water supplies, electrical grids, schools, hospitals, churches, libraries, museums. They hold civilians in their power, hostages to their air force, their cluster and phosphorus bombs. They poison the land with depleted uranium and raise whole crops of human cancers for generations. They send drones. They fund, train, and arm cutthroat armies. They terrorize civilians for their political ends. They are the humanitarians of the “international community,” and they have nothing to envy the conquistadores, the exterminators of native people, the enslavers, the imperialists of times gone by. They are the agents of collateral genocide.

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Why I’m for Bernie Sanders – Oliver Stone/HuffPo

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When fear becomes collective, when anger becomes collective, it’s extremely dangerous. It is overwhelming… The mass media and the military-industrial complex create a prison for us, so we continue to think, see, and act in the same way… We need the courage to express ourselves even when the majority is going in the opposite direction… because a change of direction can happen only when there is a collective awakening… Therefore, it is very important to say, ‘I am here!’ to those who share the same kind of insight. — Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk, The Art of Power

I’ve been in deep despair these last few months about our political landscape. This quote from Thich Nhat Hanh recently elevated my spirit, and I share it with you. Because I am — we are — still here! Though it’s clear that the die is cast and that Clinton will win — that is, if you believe in numbers and materialism, but I don’t, not completely.

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The Facade of Israel is Cracking – Robert Fantina/CounterPunch

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For many more years than any intelligent person would want to count, Israel was the sacred cow of the United States. From its violent, bloody, genocidal inception that involved the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians, and the murder of another 10,000, right through to the illegal, immoral occupation of the West Bank and blockade (aka occupation) of the Gaza Strip, Israel, in the view of U.S. governance and politics, could do no wrong. Anyone who dared to criticize Israel’s many crimes was accused of anti-Semitism; as Dr. Norman Finkelstein said, “whenever Israel faces a public relations debacle, its apologists sound the alarm that a ‘new anti-Semitism’ is upon us”. In the past, if a Jew, such as Dr. Finkelstein, was critical of Israel, Zionists raised the cry that he was ‘a self-hating Jew’, and U.S. politicians bought that ridiculous line. As a result, Israel became the beneficiary of the bulk of U.S. foreign aid, and has relied on the U.S. for years for protection from international accountability for its crimes, with the U.S always happy to veto any United Nations resolution condemning Israeli violations of human rights and international law.

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April Pow Wow – The Hour of Blossom

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Once again, hardly any ‘new’ news today, and generally speaking, there’s no ‘action’ of any consequence going on right now, not stateside and not globally  –  the media is, as per usual, full of regurgitation and variations on old themes, the hasbara factory is same-same-same (oh tedium!); plus I have a house full of visiting Brits this weekend so my computer time is limitato (that’s Italian for ‘limited’).  I will still endeavor to post up the good stuff that I have time to read on the interwebs… and I also have a half finished new article that I’ll resume working on again once my guests depart and the farmhouse is nice and quiet again – I could have finished this article a couple of days ago but man the weather has been so utterly gorgeous here after a long month of March rains that I’ve ended up instead chilling in a citrus grove on a lush carpet of springtime flora and reading Hart Crane – so drunk on the heavy scent of orange blossom and birdsong that I simply couldn’t be bothered with the world or even with my writing.  Peh.  It’s just the way it is with me.

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R.I.P. Zaha Hadid: Visionary Iraqi Architect – Tegan Bukowski/NewYorkTimes

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London — WHEN I was still an architecture student at Yale, I got stuck in New York City traffic with one of my professors, Zaha Hadid, and her chauffeur. I asked her whether she had any advice for me, a young female architecture student graduating into a depressed market dominated by men. She simply said, “Come work for me.”

I told her, “O.K., but only if I get to design shoes.”

She replied, “If you work for me, you can design anything.”

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The Ultimate Trial of Israeli Society – Yoav Litvin/CounterPunch

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Last Thursday, March 24th, an Israel defense force (IDF) soldier was filmed executing a wounded Palestinian man alleged to have carried out a stabbing attack against IDF soldiers in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron. The videographer responsible for the filming is Imad Abu Shamsiya, a Palestinian shoemaker who has since received death threats and intimidation from extreme right-wing Israeli settlers with the prospect of a potential lawsuit. Though the incident is part of a wave of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians carried out by Israeli soldiers, this particular case is different. Here, the film unambiguously shows that the wounded Palestinian man did not present a danger to his surrounding. Quite shockingly, not only does the film implicate the executioner; it also shows his IDF comrades as completely unfazed by the incident, including medical personnel. What’s more, the soldier has received a wave of public support that politicians from the right-wing have seized as an opportunity to further erode the moral fabric of Israeli society in a bid to serve their political and ideological interests.

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Robert Parry Discusses Aipac

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Controversy Erupts Over Anti-Israel Group at Columbia University – Paul Miller/Observer.com

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Anti-Israel Group Breaking the Silence accused of collecting classified information

On Thursday evening, approximately 50 Columbia University students came out to see the Israeli non-governmental organization Breaking the Silence at the Kraft Center for Jewish Life (Hillel). Off limits to the press, the event was sponsored by J Street CU and The Human Rights Graduate Group at CU.

According to their website, “Breaking the Silence is an organization of veteran combatants who have served in the Israeli military since the start of the Second Intifada and have taken it upon themselves to expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories.”

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Legislating Against BDS Is the State Speaking Freely – Robert Garson/Observer.com

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BDS activists confuse freedom of speech for an unfettered license to shout louder than anybody else

As a short man with an outsized personality, I have always reveled in contradiction. So when being questioned on how a proponent of free speech can idly stand by when BDS is being silenced across the nation, I am troubled by the fact that I don’t care. It might be because of a genuine sense of hypocrisy, or my passionate apathy toward the those spouting complete nonsense. The law, however, is a curious mistress. She gives the right to be offensive, misguided and wrong, and fails to protect that person from the inevitable consequences arising out of exercising such a right.

For example, a professor is perfectly entitled to personally boycott Israeli research, despite it being the intellectual equivalent of sticking fingers in your ears and singing. However, should that professor decline to teach students the fruits of one of the most intellectually forward countries on Earth, such a stance is an abuse of authority and a dereliction of duty sufficient to warrant termination. If a college tolerates such a practice, it should be defunded by state or private donors.

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Comedy: Donald vs. Bernie

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My Biochemistry Made Me Do It: Confessions of a Genetic Subroutine – Fred Reed/The Unz Review

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Ages ago I read Hare and Cleckley on psychopaths, they then being canonical on the matter. Psychopathy tended to be somewhat vaguely defined but usually included lack of empathy, remorse, conscience, and the like. Today, it seems to be detectable. For example, say researchers, if you put a normal person on a polygraph and read him words like bread, tree, mountain, torture, dogs, and sidewalk, there will be a sharp response to “torture” but not to the neutral words. Psychopaths don’t have that response. This would seem to tie in with a lack of empathy.

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Case for ‘Irrationality’ in Israeli Nuclear Deterrence and Defense Strategy – Louis René Beres/US News

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In an increasingly chaotic Middle East, Israel may sometime best deter its foes by feigning irrationality.

In complex matters of nuclear deterrence, some suggestions may first appear counterintuitive. One such suggestion: Appearing “too rational” in the face of certain adversaries could be a liability. A too-conspicuous rationality, it is supposed, might sometime undermine stable nuclear deterrence. This ironic and seemingly eccentric argument must apply especially to an imperiled country of limited mass: the state of Israel.

Back in the pre-nuclear 19th century, Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz already understood that in war, and also in corollary preparations for war, “mass counts.” Significantly, Israel, a country smaller than America’s Lake Michigan, remains beleaguered on all sides by assorted state and sub-state enemies. Some of these enemies, as Jerusalem well understands, could sometime choose to feign irrationality – a strategy selected to get a jump on Israel in any ongoing competition for escalation dominance. Also still plausible, these very same enemies could decide to actually be irrational.

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Colleges have become hypersensitive to racial prejudice. Why not anti-Semitism? – Lawrence H. Summers/The Washington Post

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It has seemed to me that a vast double standard regarding what constitutes prejudice exists on American college campuses. There is hypersensitivity to prejudice against most minority groups but what might be called hyper-insensitivity to anti-Semitism.

At Bowdoin College, holding parties with sombreros and tequila is deemed to be an act of prejudice against Mexicans. At Emory, the chalking of an endorsement of the likely Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, on a sidewalk is deemed to require a review of security tapes. The existence of a college named after a widely admired former U.S. president has been condemned at Princeton, under the duress of a student occupation. At Yale, Halloween costumes are the subject of administrative edict. The dean of Harvard Law School has acknowledged that hers is a racist institution, while the freshman dean at Harvard College has used dinner place mats to propagandize the student body on aspects of diversity. Professors acquiesce as students insist that they not be exposed to views on issues, such as abortion, that make them uncomfortable.

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