Blogroll Me!

Back to the Main Page

JWT BLOG 2007Archive (2005)Archive (2004)

Book ReviewsAlliesJWT-Shirts

JWT BLOG (News, Uncatalogued Links, & Editorial Reflections):

12/28/06: In what could be a mattter of days, the execution of Saddam Hussein is very likely to exacerbate the Iraqi insurgency because Baathists are vowing to retaliate. No surprise there. What advantage is to be gained from executing Hussein? Is the plan to deter other world leaders from siding against the U.S.-British-Israeli alliance? Or is this move part of a diabolical plan to fuel the insurgency with just the right mix of ineptitude and corruption to ensure that militarized corporate welfare profits will continue to soar so long as the dollar remains standing? You have to wonder.

12/12/06: "Washington D.C., December 12, 2006 - As Chile prepared to bury General Augusto Pinochet, the National Security Archive today posted a selection of declassified U.S. documents that illuminate the former dictator's record of repression. The documents include CIA records on Pinochet's role in the Washington D.C. car bombing that killed former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his American colleague Ronni Moffitt, Defense Intelligence Agency biographic reports on Pinochet, and transcripts of meetings in which Secretary of State Henry Kissinger resisted bringing pressure on the Chilean military for its human rights atrocities. "Pinochet's death has denied his victims a final judicial reckoning," said Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Archive's Chile Documentation Project. "But the declassified documents do contribute to the ultimate verdict of history on his atrocities."

12/11/06: Well beyond the "brink" that is still often mentioned in the U.S. media, Iraq has been in the midst of a slow civil war for a couple of years. If any nation state in the Middle East is on the brink of civil war, it's Lebanon.

12/7/06: Major Donald E. Vandergriff's new book, Raising the Bar: Evolving Army ROTC with the Changing Face of War, recommends sweeping changes in the way that military officers are educated. In his approach to officer education, he emphasizes professionalism and flexibility, character-building as well as tactical proficiency; and accordingly, he is appropriately wary of military "Taylorism." For a foretaste of the book, see this article from last January.

11/30/06: In "Bush in Viet Nam," Richard A. Clarke enumerates "the real lessons of Viet Nam that could be applied to Iraq." In general, "The US interventions in Viet Nam and Iraq are in many ways different, but they are alike in that in both wars the US Administration in power let Americans go on getting killed even though they knew that those deaths would not bring about success."

11/18/06: Blood-Pouring Anti-Nuke Clowns Sent to Prison, Weapons of Mass Destruction Protected: "...What does it say about our society that personal sacrifices to go to war to kill people in war are praised, while personal sacrifices for peace are condemned?..."

11/14/06: "Human Rights groups seek criminal investigation in Germany of Rumsfeld and other high-ranking U.S. officials for authorizing torture in the “war on terror?. War Crimes Complaint Filed on Behalf of 11 Iraqi Victims and a Guantánamo detainee under Doctrine of Universal Jurisdiction. Rumsfeld Resignation Means He Can No Longer Claim Immunity..." Read all about it...

11/10/06: I'm pleased to announce two noteworthy local events scheduled for next Monday. First is Oakland University's inaugural Global Security Forum. Fred Pearson of Wayne State University will talk about prospects for regulating the global small arms trade; Brad Roth of Wayne State University will address the Detainee Treatment Act and the Military Commissions Act; Brian Orend of Waterloo will examine the ethics of post-war nation building; and Richard Falk of Princeton/UCSB will act as an informal discussant. The forum is open to the public. Date / Time: Monday, November 13, 2006, 3 - 6 p.m. Location: Oakland Center Lake Superior Room. Hosted and Sponsored By: Academic Affairs, The College of Arts and Sciences, the International Studies Program, and the Departments of Philosophy, Political Science, and Rhetoric, Communication and Journalism. Second is the annual Richard J. Burke Lecture in Society, Religion and Philosophy, to be given by Richard Falk. Falk's lecture on "The Moral Architecture of the Planet" will examine the moral dimensions of globalization with emphasis on such themes as human rights, the accountability of leaders, and the future of citizenship. The lecture will be held on November 13, in Banquet Room B of the Oakland Center (upstairs) at 7:00pm. It is also open to the public. Admission to both events is free.

11/10/06: In "Donald Rumsfeld: The War Crimes Case," Jurist, November 9, 2006, Marjorie Cohn argues "that although Donald Rumsfeld is resigning as US Secretary of Defense, steps should be and will be taken to hold him accountable for breaches of international law and even war crimes sanctioned in Iraq and Guantanamo during his tenure..." Thanks to Mike Sevilla for forwarding this piece.

11/9/06: The International Crisis Group (ICR) reports today that "Street battles between thousands of pro and antigovernment protestors broken up by police billy clubs and tear gas in the central square of the capital this week illustrate dramatically that Kyrgyzstan is on the verge of political breakdown and possible civil war..."

11/8/06: The United Nations Environment Program finds no evidence that Israel used depleted uranium weapons in southern Lebanon, though they have found evidence of artillery containing white phosphorus. Also in UN news, yesterday Kofi Annan called for a ban on the use of cluster munitions in areas populated by non-combatants.

11/7/06: A draft of David Kinsella and Craig L. Carr's The Morality of War: A Reader (scheduled for publication with Lynne Rienner, March 30, 2007) is available on the www. It contains a lot of useful introductory materials. Instructors may wish to review the draft here and consider adopting the book for future courses in moral/political theory/philosophy of warfare.

10/28/06: In "The Mystery of Israel's Secret Uranium Bomb," The Independent 10/28/06, Robert Fisk sounds the "alarm over radioactive legacy left by attack on Lebanon." If confirmed, the use of DU munitions in Lebanon would seriously undermine the credibility of any argument purporting to justify Israel's second Lebanon war as a necessary means of degrading Hizbollah's operational effectiveness. The longterm harm to civilians associated with environments in which DU weaponry has been used are clearly not justifiable as proportionate means of achieving Israel's stated security aims. The Israeli government has challenged the credibility of this report.

10/27/06: "On Thursday, a vast majority of delegates to the U.N. General Assembly's first committee endorsed a resolution calling for the establishment of a treaty to stop weapons transfers that fuel conflict, poverty and serious human rights violations. As many as 139 countries voted in favor of the resolution while 24 abstained. The United States, the world's largest supplier of small arms, was the only country that opposed the resolution..." Read on...

10/22/06: In "Fear and Money in Dubai," New Left Review, Volume 41, Sept/Oct 2006, Mike Davis explains with signature dystopian flourish how 'the financial hub for Islamic militant groups' turns out to be one of the leading beneficiaries of the post-9/11 war economy.

10/22/06: "Pace Law School is proud to announce the second annual International Criminal Court Moot Competition November 10-12, 2006. The event is open to the international law school community, welcoming law schools from disparate legal traditions to compete against one another in the context of a hypothetical criminal trial to be argued before the International Criminal Court."

10/21/06: Christopher Bray muses over military life on the outskirts of the war in Iraq in "In My PowerPoint War Zone, It’s Hurry Up and Kuwait," The New York Observer, 10/23/06. "Serving in a rear area during wartime is like serving in an insurance company, or the department of motor vehicles. Outside of work, life is whatever can be managed on a big square piece of dirt, ringed with gun towers and concertina wire and looking like a medium-security prison somewhere outside Barstow." In this context, the recipe for military effectiveness is a constant diet of soft-serve ice cream and tee vee.

10/21/06: In "The New Middle East," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2006, Richard N. Haass argues that "The age of U.S. dominance in the Middle East has ended and a new era in the modern history of the region has begun. It will be shaped by new actors and new forces competing for influence, and to master it, Washington will have to rely more on diplomacy than on military might."

10/15/06: The next section to be added to my main page will be about transitional justice, which is an important just post bellum consideration. Although transitional justice takes place within various international contexts, it is too often theorized as a problem of relatively isolated and autonomous domestic regime change. The international dimension of transitional justice is philosophically underexplored at the moment, as Julio Rios-Figueroa duly notes in reviewing Retribution and Reparation in the Transition to Democracy, Jon Elster ed., Cambridge University Press, 2006. Many of the problems of domestic transitional justice reappear in international post bellum contexts.

10/9/06: In "Fair War," The New Republic, 7/20/06, Michael Walzer adroitly defends Israel's second Lebanon war and outlines the conditions under which lasting peace might be maintained in the region. "Since Hamas and Hezbollah describe the captures [of Israeli soldiers] as legitimate military operations--acts of war--they can hardly claim that further acts of war, in response, are illegitimate. The further acts have to be proportional, but Israel's goal is to prevent future raids, as well as to rescue the soldiers, so proportionality must be measured not only against what Hamas and Hezbollah have already done, but also against what they are (and what they say they are) trying to do..." Read more...

10/8/06: In "The End of the 'Summer of Diplomacy'" (The Century Foundation, 9/18/2006), Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner "warns that some in the Bush administration are making the case for air strikes aimed not only at setting back Iran’s nuclear program, but also at toppling the country’s government. He says that these officials are undeterred by the concerns of military leaders about whether such attacks would be effective."

10/7/06: The D5 missile project is part of the U.S. strategy for contending with Iran's nuclear ambitions. The plan is to remove nuclear warheads from "as many as two dozen" ICBMs that could be launched from Trident submarines for the purpose of penetrating the bunker complexes of Iranian nuclear facilities. The problem with this strategy, according to Ted Postol and Pavel Podvig, is that the launch of these ICBMs "will cause an automated alert of the Russian early warning system ... [which] ... will greatly increase the chances of a nuclear accident involving strategic nuclear forces." Read more...

9/29/06: The movement for presidential impeachment appears to be gaining steam even as potential expansions and immunities of executive powers of detainment ("disappearance"?) are currently working their way through Congress. Impeach the President: The Case Against Bush and Cheney, by Dennis D. Loo & Peter Phillips, from Seven Stories Press, sounds like a brave and timely monograph. I haven't read it, yet. But it comes with some weighty endorsements: “A looming, new totalitarianism--that is the warning here. Citizens who feel uneasy owe it to themselves to read this important book and think about how to exercise their responsibilities. Citizenship, truth be told, isn't easy, nor free.? -George Kenney, former State Department Official... "This important volume, contributing powerfully to the campaign for impeachment, must be welcomed by anyone concerned for peace, justice, and a truly democratic nation." -Howard Zinn, from the introduction... "An airtight case for impeaching Bush and Cheney for war crimes and domestic malfeasance. It's high time for legal regime change!"-Marjorie CohnPresident-elect, National Lawyers Guild... Thanks to Mike Sevilla for passing this along.

9/27/06: Dr. Emile A. Nakhleh, former Director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program, spoke with Harper's Magazine last week about the war in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and more...

9/27/06: The French may be on to something in their absurd aproach to counter-terrorism: "French Intellectuals to be Deployed in Mideast to Convince Fundamentalists of Non-Existence of God

United Nations Peace Keepters revealed plans to airdrop a platoon of crack French existentialist philosophers into strategic trouble zones to destroy the morale of zealots by proving the non-existence of God.

Elements from the feared Jean-Paul Sartre Brigade, of 'Black Berets', will be parachuted into the combat zones to spread doubt, despondency and existential anomie among the enemy. Hardened by numerous intellectual battles fought during their long occupation of Paris's Left Bank, their first action will be to establish a number of sidewalk cafes at strategic points near the front lines.

There they will drink coffee and talk animatedly about the absurd nature of life and man's lonely isolation in the universe. They will be accompanied by a number of heartbreakingly beautiful girlfriends who will further spread dismay by sticking their tongues in the philosopher's ears every five minutes and looking remote and unattainable to everyone else.

Their leader, Colonel Marc-Ange Belmondo, spoke yesterday of his confidence in the success of their mission. Sorbonne graduate Belmondo, a very intense and unshaven young man in a black pullover, gesticulated wildly and said, "The Zealots are caught in a logical fallacy of the most ridiculous kind. There is no God and I can prove it. Take your tongue out of my ear, Juliet, I am talking."

Marc-Ange plans to deliver an impassioned thesis on man's nauseating freedom of action with special reference to the work of Foucault and the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

However, humanitarian agencies have been quick to condemn the operation as inhumane, pointing out that the effects of passive smoking from the Frenchmen's endless Gitanes could wreak a terrible toll on civilians in the area."

Thanks to Kate Wininger for passing this along.

9/25/06: Yesterday's Boston Globeincluded this Q & A with Niall Ferguson, author of The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West.

9/20/06: The F-22 Raptor is a notoriously flawed and overpriced machine designed to fight the last war. The more effective F-16 costs a small fraction of the price. Yet, even at a time when domestic social services are being slashed, U.S. congressional representatives voted to mass produce the F-22 at a cost of $61 billion. Oh, and by by the way, leading congressional representatives who supported the funding bill for this pricey underperformer happen to receive massive campaign financing from the people who will be paid big bucks to produce the thing. Also, the controversial "independent study" upon which congressional supporters of the F-22 rested their case just happens to have been conducted by a research group whose president is a board member of an F-22 subcontractor. Um, can you say "political corruption"? Good. How about "militarized corporate welfare fraud ring"? Read all about it from Rolling Stone...

9/19/06: Symposium announcement: "Judgment at Nuremberg," 29-30 September - 1 October 2006. A symposium on international criminal law; commemoration of the trial of the major German war criminals at the end of the second world war and its impact on international law, the judicial system, world peace, and order; and a special commentary and documentary presentation. Presented by the Whitney R. Harris Institute of Global Legal Studies, Washington University Department of Philosophy and the Washington University School of Law in collaboration with the Robert H. Jackson Center and the American Society of International Law (ASIL Regional Centennial Conference). For more information, see the symposium website.

9/14/06: Here's the latest letter from Senator Carl Levin: "On September 8, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a portion of the Intelligence Committee’s inquiry into pre-Iraq war intelligence, known as Phase II. The released report looks at what we have learned after the attack on Iraq about the accuracy of prewar intelligence regarding links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. In light of your previous correspondence with me, I thought you might be interested in my remarks on the Senate floor.

The bipartisan Intelligence Committee report found that the prewar intelligence assessments were right when they said that Saddam and al Qaeda were independent actors who were far from being natural partners. The report found that prewar intelligence assessments were right when they expressed consistent doubts that a meeting occurred between 9-11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and a senior Iraqi intelligence official in Prague prior to September 11th. And it found that prewar intelligence assessments were right when they said that there was no credible reporting on al Qaeda operatives being trained in Iraq.

Nonetheless, the President and his Administration repeatedly cited a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda in an effort to convince the American people. President Bush said that Saddam and al Qaeda were “allies? and that “[Y]ou can’t distinguish between al-Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.? The bipartisan report directly contradicts that linkage, which the President and others in the Administration have consistently made in the effort to build public support for the President’s Iraq policy. Nevertheless, the Administration continues to this day to assert such connections.

Three weeks ago, the President said in a press conference that Saddam Hussein “had relations with Zarqawi? the recently killed terrorist. But the Intelligence Committee’s report demonstrates that statement to be inconsistent with the intelligence. The Committee report discloses, for the first time, the CIA’s October 2005 assessment – that’s nearly a year ago – that Saddam’s regime “did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates.?

With regard to the alleged Atta meeting, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report says “no such meeting occurred." Nevertheless, just two days ago, before a nationally televised audience, the Vice President was asked whether the meeting occurred. The Vice President replied “We don’t know.?

The intelligence assessments contained in the Intelligence Committee’s unclassified report clearly contradict the Administration’s attempts to link Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda. But portions of the report, which Intelligence Community leaders have kept from public view, provide some of the most damaging evidence of misuse of intelligence by the Administration.

Much of the information in the report that remains classified would not jeopardize any intelligence sources or methods. I believe the public is entitled to the full picture. Unless more of this report is declassified, the full picture will continue to be obscured. Those sections of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report should be declassified.

My complete remarks can be found on my website."

9/10/06: In a 5/29/04 interview with In Motion Magazine Chalmers Johnson discusses the emerging shape of America's increasingly privatized and de-nationalized military corporate complex, and sounds several important alarms. As he sees it, the structure of corporate interests in U.S. militarized public welfare programs "are probably closer to state socialism than anything that is going to be called capitalism because these corporations have only one customer." In a section on "Empire Building and Bankruptcy," Johnson suggests that Soviet-style collapse may not be far off: "It is not fully appreciated what militarism is doing to us... The United States today has the largest governmental and trade deficits in recent economic history. At some point, all economic theory tells us, countries that run those kinds of debts see their currency collapse. Meanwhile, we’re probably going to get disaster anyway simply because the money spent on defense is approaching 3/4 of a trillion dollars a year. That is $750 billion. This is going to lead to bankruptcy... As Herbert Stein, when he was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in a Republican administration, rather famously put it, “Things that can’t go on forever, don’t.? Our budgets are not being financed by us but by savers in East Asia. All that would have to happen is, one day, for the minister of finance of China to decide that the European Union is working and that, the Euro now being a much more valuable currency than the dollar, China’s foreign assets ought to be invested mainly in Europe. The day that happens the American stock exchange collapses and inflation goes off the chart because if we are now going to finance America’s debts ourselves, we’re going to have interest rates of 22%, or something like that, to get people to save that much capital in this country. At 22% it would be quite profitable to put your money in the bank as a CD and let the government use it. There would be a howling depression around the world for a couple of years, and the United States would never quite recover from it." For this and more about our "robber barons" in chief, read the complete interview... Thanks to Don Mayer for bringing Johnson's interview to my attention.

8/30/06: I come across a lot of significant works in JWT that just don't fit into the limited categories on my main page (which I've contemplated radically overhauling for at least two years now). Here are a couple of very good examples: Michael Byers, "Pre-emptive Self-defense: Hegemony, Equality and Strategies of Legal Change," The Journal of Political Philosophy, Volume 11, Number 2, 2003, pp. 171-190; & Jeff McMahan, "The Basis of Moral Liability to Defensive Killing," Philosophical Issues, Volume 15, 2005, pp. 386-405.

8/29/06: "To those of us who still retain an irreconcilable animus against war, it has been a bitter experience to see the unanimity with which the American intellectuals have thrown their support to the use of war-technique in the crisis in which America found herself..." However timely this complaint may sound, it comes from Randolph Silliman Bourne's The War and the Intellectuals (New York: American Union Against Militarism, 1917), one of the many anarchist pamphlets now available online from the University of Michigan's Labadie Collection.

8/18/06: Our political gadfly, Noam Chomsky, has a funny way of asking us to "recall the facts" that we probably didn't know in the first place: "On June 25, Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured at an army post near Gaza, eliciting huge cries of outrage worldwide, continuing daily at a high pitch, and a sharp escalation in Israeli attacks in Gaza. The escalation was supported on the grounds that capture of a soldier is a grave crime for which the population must be punished. One day before, on June 24, Israeli forces kidnapped two Gaza civilians, Osama and Mustafa Muamar, by any standards a far more severe crime than capture of a soldier. The Muamar kidnappings were certainly known to the major world media. They were reported at once in the English-language Israeli press (Jerusalem Post, Ha'aretz English edition, June 25), basically IDF handouts. And there were indeed a few brief, scattered and dismissive reports in several newspapers around the US; the only serious news report in English that day was in the Turkish press. Very revealingly, there was no comment, no follow-up, no call for military or terrorist attacks against Israel." Chomsky is also not shy about rendering judgment: "The paired events, a day apart, demonstrate with bitter clarity that the show of outrage over the Shalit kidnapping was cynical fraud. They reveal that by Western moral standards, kidnapping of civilians is just fine if it is done by 'our side,' but capture of a soldier on 'our side' a day later is a despicable crime that requires severe punishment of the population."

8/15/06: In "Clausewitz and World War IV," Armed Forces Journal, July 2006, Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales (ret.) argues that we are in the midst of WWIV in which "psycho-cultural" forces will be decisive. With a view towards winning the Global War on Terror, Scales calls for massive mobilization of social scientific understanding. Particularly important will be our capacity for "understanding and empathy." Read it here...

8/3/06: Jimmy Carter denounced the strategems of both Hezbollah and Israel in yesterday's Washington Post, and he pointed out that the complete absence of U.S. diplomacy in the region is also partly to blame. If the U.S. government wanted a ceasefire, there would be a ceasefire, and if it truly wanted peace in the region, even that might be within reach. But that, of course, would forestall the end of the world.

8/2/06: Steve Coll talks with The New Yorker this week about the international market for nuclear weapons technologies and the ongoing trial of Gotthard Lerch. Among the noteworthy points is his assessment of the effect of recent indictments. Question: "In your article, you quote President Bush saying of the A. Q. Khan network, “We put them out of business.? How much of an impact has this series of arrests and disclosures had on the international trade in nuclear technology?" Answer: "There’s no reason to think it’s reduced the international trade in nuclear technology. Iran, for instance, is still trying to acquire materials for its nuclear program, according to prosecutors and investigators in Europe. The network of businessmen who worked closely with A. Q. Khan has been disrupted, but there are reasons to doubt that it’s been eliminated." Read more...

7/31/06: In the pages of last Friday, Mitch Prothero debunked the "myth" of civilian-embedded Hezbollah fighters: "Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection. But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been..."

7/29/06: Mainstream U.S. media are giving serious airtime to questions of eschatology these days. Are events in the Middle East to be understood as signs that Armageddon, the Great Tribulation and The Rapture are at hand? For proponents of Christian Zionism, the answer to these questions is a very enthusiastic ‘yes’. The political problem presented by this brand of Christian fundamentalism is that its biblical predictions become self-fulfilling prophesies when they are coupled with active political campaigning designed to ensure that political chaos and violence in the region will be unrestrained. The global war on terror is starting to appear less like a "clash of civilizations" than like a clash of bad theologies.

7/29/06: For an interesting discussion of the principle of proportionality, see the blog of Stephen Bainbridge. Ed Morrissey raises the familiar objection that it makes no sense to restrict oneself to the same or proportionate means of violence available to one's enemies, because such a restriction would rule out the possibility of justifiably gaining any technological military advantages. Bainbridge counters by arguing that this objection misconstrues the traditional principle of proportionality, which requires not meeting force and violence with equivalent forms of force and violence, but rather measuring the severity of just military action against the gravity of the offense to which it is a response. The upshot is that the principle of proportionality belongs to the logic of punitive warfare. I agree. Arguably, however, it is for this very reason that the principle is such a poor guide to ethical judgment in the present confict between Israel and Hezbollah. Can either side credibly claim to be exercising a right of legitimate retribution in a context marked by interminable and intergenerational tit-for-tat? I can't see how. To my mind the natural right to punish can only be said to belong, at this point, to the global community as a whole, or to such internationally authorized bodies as the UNSC or the ICC. And as Louise Arbour rightly pointed out last week (see 7/21/06), such bodies are likely to find punishable offenses on both sides of the present conflict.

7/24/06: Just war theorists have largely neglected the issue of sexual justice in the conduct of warfare. This neglect is becoming increasingly glaring in light of recent accounts of sexual harrassment and rape of women within occupied Iraq and within the ranks of the U.S. military. The rape/murder case of Mahmoudiya is so appalling that it has generated no noticeable controversy. But it should make us concerned about the fact that the U.S. army is lowering psychological assessment standards as a stimulus to recruitment. Within U.S. ranks, the case of Suzanne Swift has generated some lively discussion in the electronic public sphere. Yet the academic literature has for the most part been surprisingly silent on gender issues. To my mind, the time is ripe for just war theory to encounter theories of sexual violence in general and feminist theory in particular.

7/21/06: Louise Arbour, the UN High Commissioner for human rights and chief prosecutor for the Rwanda and Yugoslavia tribunals, has declared that both Hezbollah and Israel may be legally culpable for ongoing war crimes. John Bolton, the U.S. ambassdor to the UN, responds by calling international human rights law "simplistic." He states, "I want somebody to address the problem how you get a cease-fire with a terrorist organization." How sad that he wants someone else to address this problem when he should be addressing it himself, not by taking sides, but by means of the time-tested methods of constructive multilateral mediation.

7/19/06: Today's New York Times reveals that just war theory has once again risen to the level of international dialogue as the mounting civilian death toll in Lebanon places the issue of proportionality at global center stage. Employing the (highly problematic) doctrine of double effect as cover for disproportionate force tends to ring hollow. Hezbollah deliberately designs its shrapnel-filled missiles so that they will cause the greatest possible harm to Israeli civilians. In response Israel declares an intention to target arms and capabilities, gives advance warnings, but predictably kills ten times as many civilians. Neither side can credibly lay claim to the justice of their cause or their conduct at this point. More honest voices speak of displays of dominance and resistance as purely strategic interests: "Referring to complaints that Israel was using disproportionate force, Dan Gillerman, Israel’s United Nations ambassador, said at a rally of supporters in New York this week, 'You’re damn right we are'." Khamiz Essaid in Gaza adds for the other side, "We have to resist any way we can." For the conversation of just war theory to make any sense in this context it must quickly move forward to consideration of the jus post bellum. Enough is enough. The world community is literally sick to death of this conflict. What Bush said to Blair at the G-8 on Monday was half right. Iran and Syria need to pressure Hezbollah to knock it off. But the other side of the story is that the U.S. needs to pressure Israel to do the same.

7/18/06: When I saw it on the Daily Show last night I could not believe my ears and thought perhaps Jon Stewart and friends had taken some creative license with the editing. But no, the Commander in Chief of the greatest war machine on earth really did half-jokingly threaten Russia with a future invasion of regime change. That is the only way to construe this exchange at yesterday's G-8 press conference/heads of state roast:

BUSH: "I talked about my desire to promote institutional change in parts of the world, like Iraq, where there’s a free press and free religion. And I told him that a lot of people in our country would hope that Russia will do the same thing. I fully understand, however, that there will be a Russian-style democracy."

PUTIN: "We certainly would not want to have same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq, quite honestly."

BUSH: "Just wait."

7/18/06: Rush Limbaugh's purely partisan diatribes are rarely judicious, informative or socially valuable. But he recently raised an important issue, supposing against the grain of experience that the figures he cites are at least not complete distortions.

"I think the vast differences in compensation between victims of the September 11 casualty and those who die serving our country in Uniform are profound. No one is really talking about it either, because you just don't criticize anything having to do with September 11. Well, I can't let the numbers pass by because it says something really disturbing about the entitlement mentality of this country. If you lost a family member in the September 11 attack, you're going to get an average of $1,185,000. The range is a minimum guarantee of $250,000, all the way up to $4.7 million. If you are a surviving family member of an American soldier killed in action, the first check you get is a $6,000 direct death benefit, half of which is taxable. Next, you get $1,750 for burial costs. If you are the surviving spouse, you get $833 a month until you remarry. And there's a payment of $211 per month for each child under 18. When the child hits 18, those payments come to a screeching halt. Keep in mind that some of the people who are getting an average of $1.185 million up to $4.7 million are complaining that it's not enough. Their deaths were tragic, but for most, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Soldiers put themselves in harms way FOR ALL OF US, and they and their families know the dangers. We also learned over the weekend that some of the victims from the Oklahoma City bombing have started an organization asking for the same deal that the September 11 families are getting. In addition to that, some of the families of those bombed in the embassies are now asking for compensation as well. You see where this is going, don't you? Folks, this is part and parcel of over 50 years of entitlement politics in this country." Limbaugh continues by criticizing disparities between retirement benefits for federal legislators and military personnel, which is a separate issue.

The question of casualty compensation has become increasingly important in recent years in American politics and law. Yet, if not wholly unexplored, it is philosophically underexplored. (Readers, please let me know if you are aware of theoretical literature specific to this topic.) Do the families of soldiers killed in combat deserve less than the families of civilians killed while engaged in non-combatant occupations? If so, why? What ought to be the purpose of federal casualty compensation? Should it be to fulfill a federal duty owed primarily to citizens who do not waive their rights to full casualty compensation by consenting to enter military service? Can voluntary military service truly be understood to involve such a waiver? What difference would a compulsory draft make? Or, alternatively, should the purpose of federal casualty compensation be to reward citizens for the sacrifices they make in service to the common good? I doubt we can adequately conceive of just conduct in warfare without a theory of just casualty compensation that answers these questions. Thanks to Angele Wright for sending me the Limbaugh quote.

7/15/06: For photos and a perspective on "Israeli terrorism in Lebanon" that you won't find in mainstream U.S. media, check out the Angry Arab News Service, a blog by As'ad AbuKhalil that has been getting some high profile press lately.

7/15/06: Ken Silverstein examines "The Myth of al-Qaeda" for Harpers and argues (I think reasonably) that "'Al Qaeda' is [now] less of an organization than it is an impulse."

7/5/06: Lecture announcement: "Philosophy for All & the Mary Ward Centre are pleased to announce a Public Lecture: PROFESSOR TED HONDERICH (Emeritus Grote Professor of Philosophy of Mind & Logic, UCL) will talk on "Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War: Palestine, 9/11, Iraq, 7/7" on Saturday 8th July at 2 pm at the Mary Ward Centre, 42 Queen Square, London. (nearest tube stations: Russell Square and Holborn) Ted Honderich has been a controversial figure since the publication of his book "After the Terror" in 2002. He asks what terrorism tells us about ourselves and our obligations, and defends a morality of humanity that requires us to think about our lives, and to act up against our democratic governments. The format of the lecture will allow much more time for questions and discussion than is normally the case, so come along and discuss this highly significant topic with one of Britain's leading philosophers. Admission free, all welcome.

7/5/06: I've just returned from the annual conference of the Association for Legal and Social Philosophy (ALSP) at University College Dublin. Jurgen De Wispelaere, Graham Finlay & Carlos Bruen are to be congratulated for organizing an outstanding event. A good number of papers were presented on issues relating to terrorism, security, torture, and humanitarian intervention. Authors presenting papers of particular interest to JWT readers included Maureen Ramsay, Robert Imre, Lene Bomann-Larsen, Joshua Kassner, Avia Pasternak, Jovana Davidovic, and Glen Newey. To request copies of conference papers, contact the authors at the e-mail addresses provided in the conference program.

6/24/06: As Fox News reports, "The United States has found 500 chemical weapons in Iraq since 2003, and more weapons of mass destruction are likely to be uncovered, two Republican lawmakers said Wedneday." According to an unclassified overview provided to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the weapons discovered were "pre-Gulf War chemical munitions" containing "degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent." Given the incredibly broad meaning of "WMD", critics of the invasion of Iraq cannot simply say that "no WMD have been found." But neither does discovery of these WWI & WWII era chemical munitions give any credence to the pre-invasion arguments that Colin Powell presented to the United Nations, which were all about high tech mobile facilities for the ongoing production of far more serious anthrax-based biological WMD. It is exceedingly unlikely at this point that such biological weapons facilities will be discovered to corroborate Powell's pre-war "intelligence", which other pieces of evidence suggest was "fixed" around a policy unofficially adopted on other grounds.

6/19/06: Conference announcements:

"Politics of Mass Murder Conference, 22 June to 23 June 2006, 09:00 to 19:00, Knights Park, Kingston University." Featuring Helen Bamber, Norman Geras, Robert Gellately, Linda Melvern, and others. For full details, see the conference website.

The World Peace Forum 2006 "is an international gathering of individuals, groups and civic governments from cities and communities to envision a living culture of peace and sustainability in our lifetimes." It meets in Vancouver June 23-28. For full details, see the conference website.

"The 2006 annual conference of the Association for Legal and Social Philosophy on 'Social Justice in Practice' . . . takes place in UCD Dublin on 28 June - 1 July and features around 150 papers on a variety of topics within the broader theme. Plenary speakers include Russell Hardin, Philippe Van Parijs, Doris Schroeder, Jonathan Wolff, Avner de-Shalit and many more." The ALSP conference includes several panels on issues relating to terrorism, security and warfare. For full details, see the conference website.

Mu'tah University's International Conference on Security, Democracy and Human Rights poses the question of "whether improved security will safeguard democratic values and human rights and vise versa." It meets July 10-12, at the Kempinski Hotel Amman, Jordan. For full details, see the conference website.

"Combating and Preventing Terrorism in Africa . . . August 29-31, 2006, at The Castle Kyalami, Midrand, Gauteng, South Africa." For full details, see the conference website.

6/17/06: In an interesting conflict between state and federal authorities in the U.S., New Jersey has issued subpoenas for corporate data on phone surveillance in order to ensure that citizens' constitutional rights to privacy are protected, and the Feds have responded by filing suit to block the subpoenas.

6/12/06: Yearbook 2006 of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute is now available online, and it details what is increasingly becoming a one-nation global arms race. Included in chapter 8 of the report are these astounding facts: "World military expenditure in 2005 presents a real terms increase of 3.4 per cent since 2004, and of 34 per cent over the 10-year period 1996–2005. The USA, responsible for about 80 per cent of the increase in 2005, is the principal determinant of the current world trend, and its military expenditure now accounts for almost half of the world total... The USA is responsible for 48 per cent of the world total, distantly followed by the UK, France, Japan and China with 4–5 per cent each." Consider also the following post-Cold War development as described in chapter 9: "The arms industry has become increasingly concentrated, nationally as well as internationally. The share of the top 5 companies in the total arms sales of the SIPRI Top 100 increased from 22 per cent in 1990 to 44 per cent in 2003."

6/10/06: Carefully researched and impartial recommendations for WMD non-proliferation policies are now available online from the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, an independent, international group launched by the Swedish Government in 2003 and chaired by Hans Blix.

6/8/06: One of the prima facie paradoxes of just war theory is that success is sometimes better than failure even for wars waged without just cause. Given the humanitarian costs of war, an unjust campaign that achieves a speedy peace is sometimes better than one that drags on against capable opposition. So, although critical of the war in Iraq, I'm not one who cheers all its failures and condemns all its successes. Case in point is today's news. The world is better off without Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He had it coming from a swarm of enemies largely of his own creation. We should be wary, however, of bloated or premature claims about the strategic importance of Zarqawi's death, which probably does not signal a substantial turning point in counter-insurgency efforts. Has Al-Quaeda been penetrated and shown to be more vulnerable than previously imagined? Perhaps. But I doubt it. The question seems to rest upon a misunderstanding of the nature of an "open-source" guerrilla network. As John Robb surmised two summers ago, the success of Zarqawi and others in seeding both a foco insurgency and a low-level sectarian civil war has already created an Iraqi "bazaar of violence" that may outlast the occupation. In this context Zarqawi's death may signal little more than that the price for his life was met. If his death is to become a significant gain for government and occupation forces, it will likely be through his apotheosis as the insurgency's leading martyr. Given Zarqawi's record of violence against Iraqi Shia, his elevated symbolic status could help to alienate Shiite insurgents and convert them to the government's cause.

6/8/06: Here is the penultimate draft of the U.S. offer to Iran in ongoing negotiations over their nuclear enrichment activities. ArmsControWonk, Jeffrey Lewis, thinks that it is a remarkably sweet deal. He also wonders whether it signals that continued construction of the Arak reactor is now being viewed as acceptable; and if so, why? Another question worth raising here is whether Iran is genuinely willing to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Today's IAEA report is mixed at best.

6/7/06: Building upon Sam Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations" model of international affairs, Arnold Beichman's commentary on "The Politics of Vengeance" in last week's Washington Post argues that the primary concerns for the next 40 years of U. S. foreign policy will be (1) preventing the free transnational flow of funds to sub-state terrorist organizations, (2) learning to cope but not necessarily cooperate with a "senescent" and increasingly Islamic Western Europe, and (3) preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

6/3/06: Michael Sallah, an expert on My Lai, examines the similarities and differences between the most famous killing spree of the Vietnam war and the Haditha massacre in this interview with Spiegel.

6/2/06: Media coverage of the Haditha massacre includes this video from ABC and this one from ITN. The use of images in these videos is misleading because they both feature interior footage of the same house as if it were the setting for the two different stories told by these two different girls. In fact, the two Iraqi girls are cousins who lived next door to one another at the time of the house-to-house slaughter. In light of a flurry of similar reports and evidence of a general increase in Iraqi civilian casualties, it seems that it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain this occupation by means that conform to the laws of armed conflict. Michael Walzer famously argues in Just and Unjust Wars that jus ad bellum and jus in bello considerations are logically independent. It is possible, in other words, to fight an unjust war by just means, in part because troops fighting a war that lacked just cause at the outset may still be able to discriminate in their use of force between combatants and non-combatants. Although this may be conceptuallly true, the analytic distinction should not occlude perception of the deep intimacy between the injustice of one's cause and limited opportunities for achieving success by just means. Unjust occupations tend to breed the kind of widespread opposition that blurs the lines between enemy combatants and innocent non-combatants. If not conceptually impossible, then it is at least generally improbable that an unjust occupation can be maintained by just means. Moreover, every misdeed in the conduct of an occupation widens the opposition and narrows future opportunities for discriminate engagement with clearly isolable enemies. When little girls become our enemies, is there any way to "Keep our Honor Clean" except by renouncing the cause and withdrawing?

6/1/06: I just read David Albright's testimony before the Subcommittee on International Terrorism & Nonproliferation of the House Committee on International Relations, and I'm wondering why the U.S. government has repeatedly declined to cooperate with Swiss efforts to prosecute key "Kahn network" players in the international black market for nuclear capabilities. On July 12th, 2004 Bush called the Kahn network "one of the most dangerous sources of proliferation in the world." Yet, his administration has since refused to cooperate with ongoing legal efforts to combat this threat. What's up with that???

6/1/06: Marine Commandant General Mike Hagee is currently in Iraq to address concerns within the ranks over recent war crimes allegations and investigations. His speech "On Marine Virtue" rededicates the troops to observance of "the Law of Armed Conflict, the Geneva Conventions and the Rules of Engagement." In the words of the Marine Hymn, Hagee invokes the need to "Keep our Honor Clean."

5/29/06: The Veterans For Peace recommend ten ways to observe Memorial Day.

5/22/06: Issue 1 of the International Political Theory Beacon has now launched. Tim Hayward, Darrel Moellendorf, et. al. are to be congratulated for putting together a wonderful website. The IPT site is a discriminating web portal for research and instruction in this burgeoning interdisciplinary field, and it features the IPT Beacon, a new open-access quarterly with a distinguished editorial board. In addition to publishing its own peer-reviewed articles, the IPT Beacon hosts selected articles from a wide array of other related journals. In this last respect, it resembles The Philosopher's Annual.

5/19/06: "Beyond the Clash of Intolerances" is Ramin Jahanbegloo's impassioned plea for "moderation, tolerance, and non-violence." It seems that Jahanbegloo was arrested 4/28/06 at the Tehran airport on suspicion of crimes relating to "security and spying." Scholars worldwide are calling for his release.

5/12/06: As I've suggested before, increased privatization of U.S. military operations raises troubling issues about the amount of public trust that can be placed in multinational corporate mercenaries and profit-seeking arms dealers. Case in point is Ian Traynor's report in yesterday's Guardian about a secret gun deal gone awry. (See the full Amnesty International report here.) In short, more than 200,000 Kalashnikov machine guns purchased by the U.S. for Iraqi security forces have gone missing. Although this may only be a minor scandal, it does seem to merit coverage in the American press. Yet, I've found none so far. That's too bad. The sooner this sort of problem is addressed the better. It's important to start thinking now about how to erect better institutional safeguards against the various ways in which profit motives can come into conflict with security concerns. Failing to address minor scandals now could lead to major scandals later. If you thought the Enron scandal was bad, imagine what the military equivalent might be like.

P.S. It appears that Aerocom, the "blacklisted" Moldovan transport company that may have been responsible for the Kalashnikovs, is suspected of being owned and operated by Victor Bout, a former KGB man and notorious arms dealer whose exploits were recently examined in a New Republic article by Douglas Farah and Kathi Austin. Aerocom has in the past also been known to be a subcontractor for a subcontractor for KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton. Hmm. The plot thickens. Thanks to Ruud Leeuw for compiling information about Aerocom and Bout.

5/12/06: Jakob Kellenberger, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, met yesterday with Condoleeza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld to discuss "access to persons held in undisclosed locations." The ICRC was once again denied access. Can we effectively address the problem of international terrorism while transforming ourselves in the eyes of the world into yet another rogue nation? I think not. To my mind U.S. citizens should urge their congressional representatives to call for measures requiring that the executive branch should submit its detention practices to appropriate international oversight.

5/1/06: Returning to the theme of my 4/25/06 blog entry concerning just war theory, legitimate authority, and privatization of the military, it's worth noting this interesting snippet from Harry Kreisler's 1/27/06 conversation with Stephen D. Biddle:

Biddle: "I could imagine, in fact, that twenty or thirty years from now, the most challenging opponent of the U.S. military might be not some ragtag military of a rogue regime somewhere but a private company with access to the kinds of equipment, and the kinds of skills, and the kinds of training that money, on the scale it's currently available, with the liquidity of the international financial system, can provide."

Kreisler: "We always think of the threat to the state in terms of international capitalism, the multinational corporation, the corporation that is global but has no real home, and so on, but we're beginning to see an environment in which military organizations fueled by either legitimate or illegitimate money could become an equally powerful entity."

Biddle: "Oh, yes. The mental models we carry around with us on this are very unsatisfactory. We tend to think of war as fundamentally a government activity. You can privatize trash collection or you can privatize dog catching, but at the end of the day, the one thing that's inherently public, so people suppose, is the military and the provision of military force. That's the way the world has been since certainly the beginning of the twentieth century. It's not the way the world has always been. At various times in history military soldiering has been essentially a private undertaking where companies were formed to provide the service, individuals were recruited or not to go into some other line of work or into this line of work, the whole thing was done by market mechanisms." The rest of this "Conversation with History" is available online courtesy of the Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley.

5/1/06: "Occupations and Withdrawals: Japan, Europe, Palestine and Iraq" is the title of a conference to be held at the University of Glasgow, May 11 - 13, 2006: "By placing contemporary practice in Iraq and the occupied Palestinian territories within this historical context, and taking into account subsequent developments in international legal doctrine (especially the development of human rights standards), the conference has the objective of identifying “good? occupation practice, and to evaluate the current state of international law with a view to informing both academic debate and foreign policy development."

5/1/06: Should the Middle East become a "nuclear weapons-free zone" as Iran, Egypt and Jordan have proposed? Or should the U.S. exercise "the right to unilaterally decide which countries get to have nuclear weapons and which ones do not"? These and other options are examined in Steven Zunes' concise report for the International Relations Center on "The United States, Israel, and the Possible Attack on Iran."

4/26/06: In today's International Herald Tribune former U.S. National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski elaborates "four compelling reasons against a preventive air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities." Follow this link for a dose of Brzezinski's refreshing brand of political realism.

4/25/06: An increasingly important area of inquiry and reflection in just war theory concerns the relationship between the military command structure and private military contractors. Officers of the former swear public oaths not only to their commanders but also to the constitution, they have institutionally ingrained codes of honor that many take seriously, and they are trained to recognize our nation's sworn commitments to public international law. The latter, however, are driven entirely by profits. Can there be such a thing as a just "military industrial complex" Perhaps. But only on condition that the public military establishment effectively subjugates its private contractors to the rule of human rights law.

In 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Dear alert and knowledgeable citizenry, it may not be too late to heed Eisenhower's wisdom, and mesh our industrial and military machinery with peaceful methods and the goal of promoting human freedom. With this goal in mind, I applaud General George W. Casey Jr. for ordering "sweeping changes for privatized military support operations after confirming violations of laws against human-trafficking and other abuses by contractors involving possibly thousands of foreign workers on American bases."

It's troubling that we cannot rely upon the Whitehouse for such leadership. As a consequence, U.S. military leadership is increasingly in revolt. Consider, for example, the words of the latest military officer to step forward and condemn the Bush administration's post 9-11 policies. In an op ed piece published in Sunday's Baltimore Sun, Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, wrote the following: "As Alexis de Tocqueville once said: 'America is great because she is good. If America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.' In January 2001, with the inauguration of George W. Bush as president, America set on a path to cease being good; America became a revolutionary nation, a radical republic. If our country continues on this path, it will cease to be great - as happened to all great powers before it, without exception. From the Kyoto accords to the International Criminal Court, from torture and cruel and unusual treatment of prisoners to rendition of innocent civilians, from illegal domestic surveillance to lies about leaking, from energy ineptitude to denial of global warming, from cherry-picking intelligence to appointing a martinet and a tyrant to run the Defense Department, the Bush administration, in the name of fighting terrorism, has put America on the radical path to ruin. Unprecedented interpretations of the Constitution that holds the president as commander in chief to be all-powerful and without checks and balances marks the hubris and unparalleled radicalism of this administration. Moreover, fiscal profligacy of an order never seen before has brought America trade deficits that boggle the mind and a federal deficit that, when stripped of the gimmickry used to make it appear more tolerable, will leave every child and grandchild in this nation a debt that will weigh upon their generations like a ball and chain around every neck. Imagine owing $150,000 from the cradle. That is radical irresponsibility."

4/14/06: In case you're wondering, Iran does NOT pose an imminent nuclear threat to its neighbors according to the most intelligent of the intelligence reports. Check out the Carnegie report or the Isis report to see what credible experts have to say. Nevertheless, as Seymour Hersh's piece in the New Yorker on "The Iran Plans" suggests, the U.S. may rush to bomb hundreds of targets in Iran before the next election.

4/11/06 &4/13/06: Yet another recently retired General, Marine Lieut. General Greg Newbold, who was once the Pentagon's top operations officer, is calling for Rumsfeld's ouster and for more outspoken military criticism of Bush administration policies. The decision to invade Iraq, Newbold writes, "was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions — or bury the results." Newbold retired in opposition to the invasion but has remained silent until now. (Possible Presidential bid on the horizon?) "I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat — Al Qaeda." This kind of open dissent within the ranks of officers is a military duty for the following reason: "Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution." It's worth adding that this duty of allegiance to the constitution extends also to the President as Commander in Chief and to every congressional representative. Follow this link to read the full text of Newbold's remarkable statement...

3/23/06: In "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" (3/13/06), John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt argue that "The centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy is its intimate relationship with Israel. Though often justified as reflecting shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, the U.S. commitment to Israel is due primarily to the activities of the 'Israel Lobby'." This paper detailing the influence of pro-Israel lobbyists is already garnering a lot of attention. For those with little time for all the details, a shorter version appeared today in the London Review of Books. See also Chris Bertrams' blog entry in Crooked Timber for further commentary addressing the question of whether the authors' arguments are unfair to the legitimate interests and activities of Jewish Americans.

3/21/06: I'm glad to see so many visitors this semester from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and I hope the cadets won't be shy about sending me suggestions for links to new materials that they find on the www. I visited the USAFA a few years ago, and I highly recommend that anyone passing through Colorado Springs should stop by to see the chapel. It's an architectural marvel designed by Walter Netsch.

3/20/06: Local (Detroit) exhibit gives new meaning to "the art of war." "War/Not War", reviewed here by Nick Sousanis of The Detroiter, will be showing Wednesday-Sunday, noon-5:00 pm, untiil April 1st, at The Scarab Club. It features various forms of collage art on war related themes. Award for best titled work: “How is my bombing? Call 202-456-1414.?

3/18/06: Conference announcement: "The Centre for Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy of the University of Leuven cordially invites you to a workshop with Prof. David Miller (University of Oxford) on: Nationalism and Global Justice. Respondents: Veit Bader (University of Amsterdam), Wilfried Hinsch (University of Saarland), Roland Pierik (Tilburg University), Robert van der Veen (University of Amsterdam), Toon Vandevelde (University of Leuven) and Leif Wenar (University of Sheffield). Place: Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven. Date: March 24, 2006. Participation is free of charge, but registration is required." For information and registration check out the conference website.

3/16/06:According to mainstream media reports there have been over 8,000 cases of desertion from U.S. military service since the beginning of the war in Iraq. In an effort to increase the level of legal deterrence, the government is now more aggressively pursuing Vietnam war resisters more than a generation after their refusal to serve. Follow this link to read or listen to Amy Goodman's interview with Ernest "Buck" McQueen, "a Vietnam war resister who was arrested in Fort Worth in January", and Tod Ensign, "a lawyer and director of Citizen Soldier, a GI and veteran rights advocacy organization."

3/15/06: U.S. military plans to make insect cyborgs By SHAUN WATERMAN, UPI Homeland and National Security Editor... "Facing problems in its efforts to train insects or build robots that can mimic their flying abilities, the U.S. military now wants to develop 'insect cyborgs' that can go where its soldiers cannot.

The Pentagon is seeking applications from researchers to help them develop technology that can be implanted into living insects to control their movement and transmit video or other sensory data back to their handlers.

In an announcement posted on government Web sites last week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, says it is seeking 'innovative proposals to develop technology to create insect cyborgs, by implanting tiny devices into insect bodies while the animals are in their pupal stage..." Read more...

3/9/06: Call for papers: Muslim Media and the ‘War on Terror’, 6-7 July 2006, Department of Politics, University of Bristol. "Although there has been considerable research, particularly since September 11, on media representations of terrorism, the war on terror, anti-terrorist security policy, Islam, and so on, these analyses overwhelmingly focus on the mainstream Western press. In this workshop, and the edited book to issue from it, we shift attention explicitly to the analysis of Muslim media and their representations. Papers are welcome on a wide range of topics relating to Muslim media* and the ‘war on terror’." Learn more about it here...

2/24/06: David Horowitz thinks he can revive the spirit of McCarthyism just enough to make the best seller list, and he's probably right. His latest book designates the "100 most dangerous academics," and now you can vote on the most dangerous of the dangerous here. I have to admit I felt a little out of the loop when I had to Google Michael Berube, the #1 vote getter, in order to find out who he is. Can a literature professor at Penn State really be a serious menace to national security and the American way of life? I don't know. Maybe. His BLOG does reveal him to be a fanatical devotee of the NY Rangers. But everyone knows the Detroit Red Wings are America's team, right? So, there must be something subversive about the guy.

2/21/06: Followers of homophobic Reverend Fred Phelps believe that God is killing American troops in Iraq as punishment for the U.S. government's failure to hate gays and lesbians as much Phelps does. These people like to demonstrate at the funerals of fallen U.S. troops carrying signs that thank God for the military effectiveness of the Iraqi insurgency. Now a group of bikers calling themselves the "Patriot Guard Riders" have begun showing up at these funerals to counter-demonstrate. Read about it here...

2/21/06: As an expression of dissent against the U.S. occupation of Iraq members and friends of Voices for Creative Nonviolence will be gathering until March 20 for daily vigils, demonstrations, and civil disobedience in front of the Capitol, White House, Pentagon, and IMF. Click here for details.

2/14/06: Making love, not war, is the official purpose of Valentine's Day. Yet, Roger Alford of Opinio Juris suggests, "if you look behind the history of the holiday you may conclude that Valentine's Day has less to do with love than war..." Read on...

2/9/06: NPR's Teri Gross talked to Joseph Cirincione about "The New Brinksmanship: Iran's Nuclear Threat" in yesterday's installment of Fresh Air. Thanks to Peter Bertocci for bringing it to my attention.

2/9/06: Now that the "intelligence" agencies of the U.S. government have been substantially converted to bureaus of propaganda, it's hard to find authoritative critical analyses of conventional judgments about foreign regimes. Case in point: Iran. The conventional wisdom, as Ali Mostashari succinctly describes it in "Iran: A Rogue State?", MIT Center for International Studies, Audit of the Conventional Wisdom, September 2005, is that Iran is a rogue state because it "exports its radical Islamist revolution, supports Hezbollah and Hamas and actively opposes the Middle East peace process, is building nuclear and biological weapons capacity, was involved in the bombings of the Jewish center in Buenos Aires and the Khobar towers in Saudi Arabia, provides Al-Qaeda with safe passage and refuge, helps insurgents in Iraq, assassinates its own dissidents and oppresses its people." Yet, according to Mostashari, a closer look at each of these issues yields a very different image of Iran. "Iran’s nuclear strategy in particular seems to suggest rationality rather than rogue behavior. If that is the case, then it is time for Washington to change its assumptions in dealing with Iran."

2/1/06: Stephen L. Esquith of neighboring Michigan State University discusses his wonderfully innovative course in the political philosophy of warfare, as well as the philosophy of philosophical education behind it, in "War, Political Violence, and Service Learning," Teaching Philosophy, Vol.23, No.3, September 2000.

1/30/06: "An Exotic Tool for Espionage: Moral Compass," New York Times, January 27th, reports on a recent conference in the emerging field of intelligence ethics: "Is there such a thing as an ethical spy? ... A group of current and former intelligence officers and academic experts think there is, and they are meeting this weekend to dissect what some others in the field consider a flat-out contradiction in terms..." Read more...

1/16/06: Activist-artists Sally Marr and Peter Dudar, in coordination with the Santa Barbara chapter of Veterans for Peace have produced "Arlington West," a compelling documentary film that every American patriot, student, family, civic group, congregation and congressperson should see and discuss. Whether you support or decry the invasion and occupation of Iraq, you should watch this film, pay tribute to those who have died for the cause, respect the mourning of those who have lost loved ones, and acknowledge the sacrifices of those who have returned physically or psychologically wounded.

1/14/06: UNESCO's Executive Board recently declared that philosophical education "encourages one to judge for oneself, to confront all sorts of arguments, to respect what others have to say, and to submit only to the authority of reason." For this reason, "the teaching of philosophy contributes to the development of free citizens." If we want to promote freedom and democracy, then perhaps we should buy fewer arms and hire more philosophers?


The opinions expressed on are my own and do not represent the views of Oakland University or its affiliates. Please send your critical or supporting comments to Mark (at)

Back to the Main Page.....JWT BLOG Archive.....Book Reviews.....Allies & Links.....JWT-Shirts

Locations of visitors to this page

Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006 Mark Rigstad