Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blog offers a bit of Socratic dialogue about COIN ROE

Hat Tip to WOI for this one. Interesting post , part of an ongoing discussion of the relative merits of the stringent ROE of COIN vice less stringent alternatives, more or less clearly defined. The post includes a nice bit of dialogue, a funny example of being led into a Socratic trap. The Socratic trap is actually an attempt to make a logical point. Socrates would regularly wield this mighty weapon, attempting to show interlocutors that they has not fully thought out the implications, and possible contradictions inherent in claims or positions they held. Socrates, (who by the way was a not-to-shabby warrior himself) would be proud.

Now, if Plato, the man who best preserved the memory of Socrates for us, had handled this dialogue he would have no doubt, placed the characters sitting in the warm Attic sun, on the porch of the Strategeion, the meeting place of the 10 Generals of ancient Athens, a sort of Joint Chiefs. This meeting place was conveniently located in the Agora, within walking distance of great restaurants.

As we join the conversation, :

“War is War”-ior: What we need to do is avoid winning hearts and minds and focus on killing the enemy.

MC: Well, don’t we kill the enemy?

“War is War”-ior: Yes, but we need to kill more of them.

MC: How do you do that?

“War is War”-ior: By getting better intelligence.

MC: Well, how do we get that?

“War is War”-ior: By convincing the population to support us.

MC: You mean win their hearts and minds?

“War is War”-ior: Well no, not winning their hearts and minds, but having them support us.

End scene.

Socrates: Heh.

Tonight: Navy Midshimen and SDSU Aztecs to inaugurate new sport! Water-Football. To rival Water Polo in popularity.

San Diego is wet. Cue the universal everything explainer NOW.

Phil Harris, Alice Faye Christmas Show: Phil tries to find a Santa for the Kids

..and Remley is shocked that Phil is going to all that trouble when "the real one" is going to show up.

Phil ends up with Jack Benny as Santa Clause 1948-12-19

As Phil might say, listen or download Clyde.

Very interesting article on Christmas's appeal in a secular world.

The piece by Carson Holloway of the Witherspoon Institute suggests that the story of Christmas, indeed the fundamental tenants of the Christian religion, have appeal because it embodies certain value judgments that lay at the core of Western Civilization; the fundamental equality of worth of every human being, and the dignity of the individual, regardless of societal status. It sees in the person of Jesus, a strong affirmation of that belief:

The celebration of Christmas has been a powerful teacher of the dignity of the human person. For Christians, Christmas is the feast of the Incarnation—the celebration of the moment when God became a man in order to live among men. It shows that God thought of human beings as worthy of being saved, and that he sought to save them by taking on humanity in a perfected form, thus opening the way to their own perfection. Christian belief in the Incarnation is thus inseparable from belief in the objective, and even transcendent, value of the human race as a whole, and of each human person as an individual.

And such beliefs lie at the core of, and give form to our Western way of governance:

I would suggest that the ethical core of Western Civilization—or at least a key principle by which it distinguished itself from what it regarded as savagery and barbarism—is respect for the dignity of humanity and of the individual human person. This is the moral principle underpinning the more obvious institutional characteristics such as the rule of law, constitutionalism, limited government, and division of social authority among various centers of power. All of these expedients share a common aim: limiting the power of some people over others, and especially limiting the power of the strong over the weak. This aim in turn is informed by the sense that all people deserve such protection, that they all possess a certain dignity that ought not be abused.

There is an at least metaphorical affirmation of this proper function of the state as protector of individuals against tyranny in the story of the baby Jesus, (a God who had intentionally incarnated as a helpless infant, a being powerless and in need of protection), being secreted away to Egypt by his parents, those charged by nature with the responsibility of protecting him, even as King Herod's infanticidal order was being carried out back in Bethlehem. A complex metaphor this, perhaps contrasting legitimate and illegitimate authority, vis the vulnerable charges of authority.

The article also takes note of the fact that God chose to incarnate, not in a setting of great pomp or circumstance, but as the child of a humble man of little means, property or status and his wife. Also, Jesus maintained that fealty to the 'little guy' and gal, throughout his life. Once again, a very humble God.

There are related unique aspects of the Christian religion, that set it apart from the world's other religions, which (because they speak to or profoundly reflect the human condition) also account for its influence on Western culture, and the universal appeal of Christmas and the other major Christian holiday, Easter.

Consider the overarching theology:

Having its roots in the Jewish tradition, a tradition within which God is conceived not only as powerful, but morally demanding, a moral force frightening in many respects, and in many cases so demanding of his creatures as to bring down the hammer for moral failings, or intellectual befuddlement at seeming divine injustice (Think Job here) we can see Christianity as showing the compassionate side of this moral force.

Christianity in its theological tenants is describable as being reflective of 'God the father's' parental recognition of the unavoidable frailty of the human condition vis the demands of morality. Not one human being meets the stringency of the demands, but fails in some way or another, multiple times throughout his or her life. God sees this, just as human parents see similar traits in their children. Yet, no more than human parents, God does not forsake his charges. That would be cruel.

So, as a recognition of the seeming unfairness of requiring a level of performance of beings that are not constitutionally equipped to so succeed, we see in Christianity, a story according to which, God in a way takes on the responsibility for the moral failings, indeed the guilt associated with moral failings, quite literally as his own, in the person of a being that can suffer, a fellow human being, who began life as we all do, in the most vulnerable of circumstances, as a babe in a manger, hunted by a ruthless King.

Jesus who was born explicitly for the purpose of quite literally taking on the sins of human beings, those failings we all invariably have, and suffering and dying for them, is now a person, a vulnerable suffering human being, quite literally taking on not only the guilt for moral failings, but the consequences of those failing. He takes them upon himself, freeing human beings, his charges, his children, from that burden.

In short, we have a very appealing and paradoxical God at the heart of Christianity, a God of love, at one and the same time, powerful, and vulnerable, morally suffering, yet perfect. Each year Christmas celebrates that gift.

Philipe Karsenty on the Al Durah Hoax, a modern "blood libel"

A fascinating story of media malfeasance of the most repugnant kind, and the near decade long legal battle of Karsenty, who refused to let it stand, a battle wending its way through the French courts, the end result of which was that France 2 had to admit to the hoax. In the process we see detective work Sherlock Holmes would envy as Karsenty unearths the details of the active and willing conspiracy of press stringer Talal Abu Rhama, and local Gazans, as they created the "modern blood libel."

Philippe Karsenty - The al Dura Hoax from CJHS on Vimeo.

Hat tip: Solomonia