Jenin: Collating the Wages of Death

The steady habit of correcting and completing his own opinion by collating it with those of others, so far from causing doubt and hesitation in carrying it into practice, is the only stable foundation for a just reliance on it: for being cognisant of all that can, at least obviously, be said against him, and having taken up his position against all gainsayers…he has a right to think his judgment better than that of any person, or any multitude, who have not gone through a similar process.

–J.S. Mill, On Liberty

In my last two posts, I’ve been discussing the rising tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Events are taking place too quickly for me literally to blog them as they happen, so if you’re after a real-time chronicle, or event-by-event commentary, you’ll be disappointed. That’s not something you’ll find here, at least in my posts. Continue reading

Jenin Under Attack

I’ve been receiving videos from Palestinian friends, of Israeli military actions taking place, not just in Jenin, but across the length and breadth of the West Bank. I so far have seen no indication from the mainstream American press that Israeli military occupations have extended beyond Jenin. But while nine Palestinians were killed in Jenin, one was killed in Ar-Ram (so Israeli military actions are obviously not confined to Jenin). Since then, there have been two widely-reported Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets as well, one in the settlement of Neve Yaakov, the other in a location that The New York Times vaguely describes as being “near a settlement in East Jerusalem.” Continue reading

“A” Is for Occupation

In a post I wrote back in 2020 explaining the A-B-C system that structures the Israeli occupation of Palestine, I described Area A, the area supposedly under Palestinian control, as follows: 

Area A covers Palestinian urban centers, supposedly under full Palestinian control, both “civil” and “security” related…Area A is under “full” Palestinian control–except when Israeli military forces enter such an Area, as they often do, in which case “full” control becomes non-control for the duration.

Current events in Jenin illustrate this. Jenin is squarely in Area A. Area A is under full Palestinian control. But at the moment, Jenin is precisely not under Palestinian control. Apparently, some control is fuller than others.  Continue reading

Love Afar, Spite at Home

Thy love afar is spite at home.

–Emerson, “Self-Reliance

The United States is currently sending billions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine, prolonging the war there, and increasing the probability of escalation or even nuclear war, for a country that has zero bearing on our own national security. Our security was not threatened when Ukraine was a part of either the Soviet Union or the Russian Federation, and was not appreciably enhanced by Ukraine’s exit from the latter. None of this seems to figure in the calculations of those in favor of US intervention: intervention is for them an imperative, however inscrutable the reasons for it. Continue reading

Chomsky on Ukraine

I’ve previously plugged John Mearsheimer’s views on Ukraine here, with generalized agreement but many misgivings. I have fewer misgivings about Chomsky’s views, which are in the same anti-interventionist ballpark as Mearsheimer’s, at least as regards Ukraine, but without the problematic realist baggage. This interview with Nathan Robinson in Current Affairs seems the best of the bunch that I’ve seen.

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The Lessons of 9/11: Twenty Years Later

I post this every year around 9/11, so here it is again with some revisions.

Today is the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from two decades of perpetual warfare. I offer them somewhat dogmatically, as a mere laundry list (mostly) minus examples, but I have a feeling that the lessons will ring true enough for many people, and that most readers can supply appropriate examples of their own.

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The JBMDL Afghan Account

I was sitting in my cubicle mid-day when an email with an odd subject line tumbled into my inbox: “JBMDL Afghan.” It was from a bona fide sender, so I opened it and took a look. It turned out to be an email from the director of financial services at a major hospital system, making reference to a new medical services “payor,” as we spell it in the trade. It was, in other words, the Joint Base McGuire Fort Dix Lakehurst Afghan payor, i.e., the payor of medical services for Afghan refugees housed at McGuire Air Force Base/Fort Dix Army facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Otherwise known as the US military.

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Afghanistan: So Worth It

Frederick Kagan in The New York Times, on the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban:

Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of keeping American military forces in Afghanistan indefinitely, even at very low numbers. I and others have argued that the investment, including the risk to American personnel, is worth it to prevent militant groups from once again overrunning the country.

Maybe, after Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, it’s time to ask what it means when people say “it’s worth it” to fight wars. What’s worth what, to whom, how and why? Anyone who wants to go and fight for Kabul or Kandahar is free to go and give it another 20 years of their life, on the model of the Lincoln Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. But that doesn’t mean it’s worth another 20 years of ours.

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AUMF 2001 and the Militarization of the American Mind

This article mostly chronicles good news, but one sentence in it deserves to be memorialized and savored for expressing the nonsensical essence of American foreign policy in 32 economical words.

“Unlike declarations of a major conflict like World War II, authorizations for use of force are typically intended for limited use for a specific mission or region like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

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9/11 + 19: Lessons

I post this every year around 9/11, so here it is again with some revisions. Though it isn’t up yet, Chris Sciabarra’s annual 9/11 series is always worth reading, and like this post, goes up at midnight on 9/11

Today is the nineteenth anniversary of 9/11. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from nearly two decades of perpetual warfare. I offer them somewhat dogmatically, as a mere laundry list (mostly) minus examples, but I have a feeling that the lessons will ring true enough for many people, and that most readers can supply appropriate examples of their own. Continue reading