teamwork in the heart of the country: fun with guns

Everything is a “price tag” policy. It keeps the Macbeth pot boiling letting the passionate vapors intoxicate the kooky from vandalizing cars in annexed East Jerusalem, rustling goats and sheep in the West Bank, war crimes in Syria, Francois Hollande bowing in Saudi Arabia to Wahabis that couldn’t pass a grade seven reading test, to Abbas of the Palestinian Authority shilling for Israel, everyone seems to be drunk with passion of some sort. In some sense the strange brew is the side effects of feeding bourgeois democracy spoon by spoonful and what is required to help digest the falsehood without giving rise to complete insurrection and civil disobedience, though maybe the option is equally messy.

When Israeli President Shimon Peres hails Mahmoud Abbas as a courageous partner for peace on Saturday for his support for a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, you know that the bi-national solution is the least violent and most beneficial. How could a self respecting leader with the goal of righting injustice and searching for national self-determination posit a view that negates a right to return to pre-1948 lands, burying any reference to the Martin Buber vision and ensuring more conflict, naturally pleasing Shimon Peres who terms Abbas “a real partner for peace.” Ick.

Going back to the 1930’s Walter Benjamin presented a utopian view which he called positive, which did not reject political violence, but rather placed it within a negative context, almost to judge the sturdiness of its foundations. He saw a struggle, almost a holy war, a struggle between the mythical and the divine as the basis of political struggle and one which by necessity has an antagonistic relationship with the law. This framework of law, of rules, of canonized ethics, does not exist to ensure and enhance justice, but is rather emblematic, in its bourgeois nature, of representing, incarnating, the violence and destruction that instituted the law from its inception and created the apparatus, bureaucratic to enforce it.  Intuitively, Benjamin could see the inutility of backing relatively simplistic revolutionary demands for justice which meant a substitution of existing laws with new ones that would ostensibly be more just, but effectively do little, perhaps move the needle without a quantum leap. He asserted that such demands are simply mythical and violent contentions, as opposed to divine ones, the former being what foreign policy of the world powers seeks to impose on Syria, Libya, the Palestinians etc.

To Benjamin,  the divine alone enables us to speak of “justice.” which is outside the purview of secular history and thought, ultimately leading to an overthrow of history as we know it; he referred to this dimension as messianic, a utopianism that sought to transform the utopian project which now, conceived within a new context, sought to eliminate what he saw as the classic vanity of the mythic force, its ego led dimension that confronted the messianic. it was strange, appropriating the idea of redemption and the messianic of marxist thought and re-jigging it within a kind of spiritual framework to arrive at an idea of kick-starting the utopian tradition on a new more realizable tangent….

( see link at end) …Syrian actor ‘killed by rebel forces’

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that a Syrian actor has been killed in Damascus. It says:

Rebel fighters assassinated the Syrian actor Mohammad Rafei after kidnapping him at midnight of Friday-Saturday from the Masaken Barza neighbourhood of Damascus. Activists from the area tried to justify this assassination by saying that he gave information about protesters and rebel fighters to the Syrian security. Read More:

Jacques Louis David. Title
English: The Intervention of the Sabine Women
Date 1799
Medium oil on canvas—WIKI

(see link at end)…”We need the application of the law. The problem is we have extremists and they have their own laws. They want the application of Islamic sharia, but not a moderate sharia,” says the legal expert.

”There are few of them, but they are increasing.” He says the drawn-out conflict is increasing the influence of extremist armed groups, while their more plentiful resources are an added draw. Even among the rebel groups who do not adhere to an extremist ideology, only a fraction of them are “good,” says the legal expert, who calls most of them thieves. “To stop their influence, we have to support civilian institutions. We need courts, and police with uniforms and weapons and salaries.”

Subway. Artist: Jean Dubuffet
Completion Date: 194

/>Style: Art Brut —Read More:

A fledgling police force in rebel-held Aleppo is good, “butthey’re also weak,” he says. “Because there is no support. No weapons, no uniforms, or cars.” Read More:

(see link at end)…DRONES are hardly synonymous with harmony. But in the last election debate neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney disagreed over what is now America’s main tactic in fighting the long war on terrorism: ever-greater use of armed drones for targeted killings in the tribal areas of Pakistan, the badlands of Yemen and Somalia, and, no doubt before long, north Mali, where an al-Qaeda affiliate has recently taken root. Just a few days before the debate, the CIA’s director, David Petraeus, reportedly asked the White House for a big expansion in the agency’s fleet of missile-carrying drones. It is part of the agency’s decade-long evolution from an intelligence organisation to a paramilitary one….

Charles Le Brun. Le Chancellier Seguier, 1660. Source: WIKI

In Djibouti, an impoverished mini-state on the Gulf of Aden, America has turned a former French Foreign Legion outpost, Camp Lemonnier, into the most important base for drone operations outside the war zone of Afghanistan. According to an investigation by the Washington Post, Predator drones take off round the clock on missions over nearby Somalia and Yemen. Their pilots are in Creech, an air force hub 8,000 miles away in Nevada. The Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) runs Camp Lemonnier; the CIA is believed to have a more secret site elsewhere in the Arabian Peninsula. Aircraft from both bases often work together, as in the attack last year that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who became an al-Qaeda planner and propagandist.

—From an aesthetic standpoint, the Allegory of Wealth is one of Vouet’s most outstanding compositions. A monumental seated female occupies a large portion of a classical setting, her wings and billowing drapery forming an arch that swoops down toward a Venetianized putto who stands beside her and offers her a handful of jewels. Another putto snuggles comfortably on the woman’s lap and points toward the heavens. At her feet are an opened book and gold and silver objects, including a vase embossed with the legend of Apollo and Daphne. Vouet consulted Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia in depicting the most salient details of the figure, including her gold colored draperies, the jewels being offered to her by the putto, and the vase at her side.—Read More:

…After Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans do not want to spend blood and treasure in fighting big insurgencies on the ground. So drone strikes seem certain to stay the centrepiece of counter-terrorism efforts for many years to come and may well increase in reach and scale. America will invest $1.4 billion on new construction at Camp Lemonnier alone. Hugely enlarging the scope of drone operations (see chart) has been politically useful for Mr Obama. The ruthlessness of the campaign, plus the killing of Osama bin Laden, blunted Republican charges that he is soft on national security.

Because drones can loiter over potential targets for hours before firing their missiles, they are more discriminating than either fast jets or helicopter-borne special forces. Read More:

(see link at end)…ISTANBUL — The Obama administration’s decision to drop its recognition of the Syrian National Council as the leading Syrian opposition group and propose creating a new umbrella organization surprised and puzzled close U.S. allies, diplomats said Friday.

The U.S. government gave no advance notice of its intention to renounce the council as the lead umbrella group, diplomats of three countries said. They said their governments learned about the initiative from news accounts.

Diplomats criticized Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for using what they called inappropriate language in describing the council as made up of people who haven’t been in Syria for decades; many of its members, the diplomats said, left the country only after the uprising against President Bashar Assad began 19 months ago.

“We have recommended names and organizations that we believe should be included in any leadership structure,” Clinton said Wednesday in announcing the administration’s break with the council, a move that, unusually, was made public in a statement to reporters who were traveling with her, after a meeting with the president of Croatia. “We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition.”

Read more here:

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that Washington was embarking on its most aggressive effort yet to reshape the Syrian opposition. It has withdrawn support from the Syrian National Council, which was established last year by exiles who have lived abroad for decades, in favor of a new structure that would have heavy representation from Syrians actually fighting in the war. Hundreds of opposition figures are supposed to meet in Qatar next week to discuss this idea.

The Americans’ frustration with the Syrian National Council is understandable. Most of its members are out of touch with what’s really happening in the country. They have been hopelessly divided, incapable of making decisions, and have failed to persuade Syrians that they offer a viable alternative to Mr. Assad.

Since the war began, scores of new local opposition organizations have sprung up in Syria. They are much better positioned to help the United States and other donors direct humanitarian and other assistance. They also offer a better chance of reaching out to those who still back Mr. Assad — especially the military — and persuading them to abandon him in favor of a new order. Mrs. Clinton has acknowledged that she has recommended individuals and organizations to be part of the new leadership structure. But there is a risk that the new group could be seen as an American-made entity. The rebels would have more support if they committed to marginalizing the jihadists who have joined the fight. If there is a deal in Doha, the United States and its partners are prepared to help quickly carry out assistance projects. Congress should support the administration in this effort. Read More:

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