Tuesday, September 30, 2014

 Michael Scheuer's  Dilemma: Which fallacy serves me best?

 1. Bait-and-switch is a form of fraud used in sales but also employed in other contexts. First, customers are "baited" by merchants' advertising products or services at a low price, but when customers visit the store, they discover that the advertised goods are not available, and the customers are pressured by sales people to consider similar, but higher priced items.

2.  An association fallacy is an inductive informal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association. The two types are sometimes referred to as guilt by association and honor by association. Association fallacies are a special case of red herring, and can be based on an appeal to emotion


From a conversation between CNN's Michael Smerconish and Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's Bin Laden desk:

SMERCONISH: Before you leave me, give me the plan. So if Michael Scheuer were dictating that which the United States should be doing, it would be what?

SCHEUER: Close the southern border so we don't end up fighting using the U.S. military inside the United States. Begin to put together the excel pipeline, build it, drill offshore, get us energy sufficient so we can dump those tyrants that are part of our coalition now. The Saudis, the Kuwaitis, the Emiratis. They are the people that should be getting killed in this, not Americans. And finally, we need to separate ourselves from Israel. It's an enormous drag on American - it's a cancer on American foreign policy.

SMERCONISH: You know that people will hear this and find those words objectionable and say they are our only friend in the Middle East, the only democracy, the only people we can trust in that part, why would we ever turn our backs on the Israelis?

SCHEUER: I find it objectionable to send my college age kids to fight and die so Mrs. Mohammed can vote in an Afghan election and then after all of those kids died to run away and leave the country t go back to the Taliban. I'll take the abuse if people can explain what in the world this political elite is doing to our young people.


Please note the following two points:

1. Scheuer's description of Israel as "an enormous drag on American - it's a cancer on American foreign policy."

2. In Scheuer's response to Smerconish's question about this pronouncement, Israel disappears:

"I find it objectionable to send my college age kids to fight and die so Mrs. Mohammed can vote in an Afghan election and then after all of those kids died to run away and leave the country to go back to the Taliban."

What can be the meaning of this?

Is it a bait-and-switch deception in which  "Israel is a cancer" the bait and  "Mrs. Mohammed" of Afghanistan the switch?
Is it association fallacy, in which Afghanistan and Israel are implied to share the same inherent qualities, and the nasty characterizations of Israel as a cancer and the Afghan woman as "Mrs. Mohammed" are intended to arouse the same disgust in certain kinds of viewers? Despite the fact that these two places and entities are completely irrelevant and different to each other?
Any which way you wish to parse this odd discourse it stinks of bad faith and ill-will, either towards Israel, that is indeed as Smerconish stated, "the only people we can trust in that part," or the Afghan woman whom Scheuer sneeringly refers to as "Mrs. Mohammed" or both.   

Friday, September 12, 2014

West is the sole enemy of humanity and its bludgeon is the United States of America

It is always enlightening to climb into the mind of a bona fide Arab intellectual writing to an audience presumed to be of like-minded inclinations. This is one of those articles where it is laid out, ironically with some European garnish, without any attempt at concealing its raw message. What interests me is the contempt for international law and legitimacy openly declared here which makes it clear that those most likely to pass condemnations upon Israel presumably based on International Law are exactly those who have no use for such law.

Also interesting is the conclusion that the tyranny of non-western powers would be more tolerable because it will an nakedly honest tyranny based on unfeathered And untethered economic interests and such.

You have to read to believe:

"The late thinker Hadi al-Alawi had a negative view of the essence of the West, that is, he argued that there was something inherently “evil” and belligerent at the core of Western civilization, culture, and historical development. Alawi further described the West as “the sole enemy of humanity, whose bludgeon in its sustained assault on humanity is the United States of America.”
Reconciliation with the United States, for example, means that we should forget about Palestine and liberating it,
In the past two decades, the hegemony exercised its influence, and waged its wars and invasions under universal legal and humanitarian pretenses, which always portrayed its actions as the embodiment of international legitimacy, justice, and public interest. Naturally, many elites in the Third World reproduced these concepts about “international legitimacy” and “international community,” bought into them, and incorporated them into their own cultures and worldviews. However, with the decline of Western power, these “principles” and norms have started to unravel, in parallel with the decline of the dominant power.

The late Hadi al-Alawi assumed that the demise of Western hegemony was enough, per se, to change the course of human civilization, and open new possibilities for human life that are less materialistic and more liberal. But in line with our aversion to essentialism, we will assume that people are similar everywhere, and that there is no guarantee the new world being formed today would be better and more moral than the old world. Indeed, at some level, dealing with countries like Russia and China is not radically different from the relationship with the Western powers. The Russian, Chinese, Iranians, and others are not ultimately that different from the West in their pragmatism and quest to fulfill their interests, and in their ability to assault and do harm. But when they do so, at least, they will most probably not impose it on us in the name of justice, legitimacy, and civilization."

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Selective Radical Anarchist

  Prof. AbuKhalil admires Chomsky:

It amazed me when I came to the US in 1983 to discover that Noam Chomsky's name is far bigger outside of the US than in the US.  But then again, it is the US. 

Here he is on record as being quite pleased when  Chomsky suggested he was somewhat familiar with him:
 Saturday, February 27, 2010

Noam Chomsky on Angry Arab

Mahmood sent me this (I cite with his permission): "In case you care, a friend of mine asked Noam Chomsky what he thought of your work, and he said this: "I've read some of his work, and liked it. Didn't know about his anarchist inclinations. Should become more familiar with him." "

"Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful,[1][2] or alternatively as opposing authority and hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations.[3][4][5][6][7][8] Proponents of anarchism, known as "anarchists", advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical[3][9][10] voluntary associations."



"I don't like flags, and I don't like nationalisms but for Palestine and the Palestinians, everything and anything. "

Imagine No'am Chomsky saying something like the quote, with one tiny alteration:
I don't like flags, and I don't like nationalisms but for Israel and the Jews, everything and anything.

This is how much Prof. AbuKhalil either admires Chomsky or understands what a genuine anarchist is. To untangle this cognitive dissonance it would be useful to read about some of AbuKhalil's fantasies: