Can the Government Keep Us Safe?

Can the Government Keep Us Safe?
Mises Institute Daily Articles / Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

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By: Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
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Here we go again. The United States has been rattled to the core by an unspeakable act of evil perpetrated by a hater of humanity. A quiet, wealthy loner rented a hotel suite in Las Vegas, armed it with shooting platforms and automatic weapons, knocked out two of the windows, and shot at innocents 32 floors below. Fifty-nine people were murdered, and 527 were injured.

The killer used rifles that he purchased legally and altered illegally. He effectively transformed several rifles that emit one round per trigger pull and present the next round in the barrel for immediate use (semiautomatics) into rifles that emit rounds continuously when the trigger is pulled — hundreds of rounds per minute (automatics). Though some automatic rifles that were manufactured before 1986 can lawfully be purchased today with an onerous federal permit, automatic weapons generally have been unlawful in the United States since 1934. Even the police and the military are not permitted to use them here.

I present this brief summary of the recent tragedy and the implicated gun laws to address the issue of whether the government can keep us safe.

Those who fought the Revolution and wrote the Constitution knew that the government cannot keep us safe. Because they used violence against the king and his soldiers to secede from Great Britain, they recognized that all people have a natural right to use a weapon of contemporary technological capabilities to protect themselves and their liberty and property. They sought to assure the exercise of this right by enacting the now well-known Second Amendment, which prohibits the government from infringing upon the right to keep and bear arms.

When the Supreme Court interpreted this right in 2008 and 2010, it referred to the right to keep and bear arms as pre-political. “Pre-political” means that the right pre-existed the government. It is a secular term for a fundamental, or natural, right. A natural right is one that stems from our humanity — such as freedom of thought, speech, religion, self-defense, privacy, travel, etc. It does not come from the government, and it exists in the absence of government.

The recognition of a right as fundamental or natural or pre-political is not a mere academic exercise. This is so because rights in this category cannot be abrogated by the popular will. Stated differently, just as your right to think as you wish and say what you think cannot be interfered with or taken away in America by legislation, so, too, your right to own, carry and use arms of the same sophistication as are generally available to bad guys and to government officials cannot be interfered with or taken away by legislation. That is at least the modern theory of the Second Amendment.

Notwithstanding the oath that all in government have taken to uphold the Constitution, many in government reject the Second Amendment. Their enjoyment of power and love of office rank higher in their hearts and minds than does their constitutionally required fidelity to the protection of personal freedoms. They think the government can right any wrong and protect us from any evil and acquire for us any good just to keep us safe, even if constitutional norms are violated in doing so.

Can the government keep us safe? In a word, no.

This is not a novel or arcane observation but rather a rational conclusion from knowing history and everyday life. In Europe, where the right to keep and bear arms is nearly nonexistent for those outside government, killers strike with bombs and knives and trucks. In America, killers use guns and only stop when they are killed by law-abiding civilians or by the police.

The answer to government failure is a candid recognition that in a free society — one in which we are all free to come and go as we see fit without government inquiry or interference — we must be prepared for these tragedies.

We must keep ourselves safe, as well as those whom we invite onto our properties.

Surely, if the president of the United States were to have appeared at the concert venue in Las Vegas to address the crowd, the Las Vegas killer would never have succeeded in bringing his arsenal to his hotel room. Government always protects its own. Shouldn’t landowners who invite the public to their properties do the same?

Add to government’s incompetence its useless intrusive omnipresence. In present-day America, the National Security Agency — the federal government’s domestic spying agency — captures in real time the contents of every telephone call, email and text message, as well as all data sent over fiber-optic cables everywhere in the U.S. Thus, whatever electronic communications the Las Vegas killer participated in prior to his murders are in the possession of the federal government.

Mass surveillance is expressly prohibited by the Fourth Amendment, but the government does it nevertheless. It claims it does so to keep us safe. Yet this exquisite constitutional violation results in too much information for the feds to examine in a timely manner. That’s why the evidence of these massacres — from Sandy Hook to Boston to Orlando to San Bernardino to Las Vegas — is always discovered too late. At this writing, the government has yet to reveal what it knew about the Las Vegas killer’s plans before he executed them and executed innocents.

This leaves us in a very precarious position today. The government cannot keep us safe, but it claims that it can. It wants to interfere with our natural rights to self-defense and to privacy, but whenever it does so, it keeps us less safe. And in whatever arena it keeps us less safe and falsely fosters the impression that we are safe, we become less free.

Reprinted from LewRockwell.com.

Original Article: https://mises.org/blog/can-government-keep-us-safe

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Israel’s Role in the Cataclysm to Come

Israel’s Role in the Cataclysm to Come
New Eastern Outlook / Фил Батлер

Finally, the skeleton is out of the Arab Spring closet via an article in Foreign Policy written by Jonathan Spyer. Israel has been at war for total dominance in the Middle East and, according to the senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center (Rubin Center) and Jerusalem Post columnist, Tel Aviv is about to engage in Syria to confront Iran.

All I can say is, if the director of one of Israel’s research centers located at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) is right, then the kickoff to Armageddon could be around the corner. For some months now my research and reporting on Syria and the wider crises has revolved around Israel’s role in world affairs. So, with this revelation it seems clear that the gloves will soon come off where Israel as the instigator of crises is concerned. Bibi and Trump meeting in Washington, the role of AIPAC in pressing for sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea, and the provocative geostrategic role the Netanyahu government has played equal overwhelming circumstantial proof of the tiny nation’s responsibility for Middle Eastern chaos. Quoting Speyer:

“Israeli officials believe that Iran is winning its bid for dominance in the Middle East, and they are mobilizing to counter the regional realignment that threatens to follow. The focus of Israel’s military and diplomatic campaign is Syria.”

From my point of view, I cannot decide which facet of this news is scarier, the apparent fact that top Israeli analysts now don’t care about public opinion or the possibility that Israel really might go nuclear against Iran. The Foreign Policy article also reveals Israeli motives that have driven international incidents. For instance, with regard to the United States’ initial psychotic episode over chemical weapons that the Assad government was supposed to have used against its own people, those “weapons fears” had nothing whatsoever to do with Syrians. Spyer takes special note of Israeli missions against chemical weapons facilities at Masyaf. Let’s face it, Israel does not fly missions to rescue endangered Arabs. But the acute problem for the Israeli regime is not Assad anymore. Since the Syrian Army with Russian and Iranian assistance has nearly eradicated ISIS, Tel Aviv is worried about the aftermath of the Syrian mess. And about their precious Golan Heights. Quoting FP again:

“Iranian forces now maintain a presence close to or adjoining the Israeli-controlled portion of the Golan Heights and the Quneitra Crossing that separates it from the Syrian-controlled portion of the territory. Israel has throughout the Syrian war noted a desire on the part of the Iranians and their Hezbollah clients to establish this area as a second line of active confrontation against the Jewish state, in addition to south Lebanon.”

The Israeli expert goes on to assert that “Syria hardly exists today”, and proclaims Iran and Russia the “masters” of the war-torn country. The Foreign Policy article lays out in no uncertain terms the essential mindset and strategy Israel has deployed against neighboring enemies and allies alike – even though the author did not intend to do so. By showing what Israel fears most, and in listing in convincing form the geopolitical and military counterweights of Tel Aviv, Spyer betrays the actual intentions of Israel. Read how Israel has worked with rebels inside Syria:

“Israel has developed pragmatic working relations with the local rebel groups who at the moment still control the greater part of the border, such as the Fursan al-Joulan group. This cooperation focuses on treating wounded fighters and civilians, and providing humanitarian aid and financial assistance. There has also probably been assistance in the field of intelligence, though no evidence has yet emerged of direct provision of weapons or direct engagement of Israeli forces on the rebels’ behalf.”

Finally, scanning reports and propaganda from the Rubin Center’s website one finds the Israeli group not just focused regionally. First, we find this Spyer fellow with eyes on Ukraine and the Jewish community there in a piece for Jerusalem Post portraying pro-Russian factions as Nazis. Next, I find it interesting that the Caucasus and Georgia are covered in depth. A story by Mahir Khalifa-zadeh (a veteran of the Kosovo OSCE mission in 1999) from September of 2014 entitled “The South Caucasus: Obama’s Failed Russia “Reset” and the Putin Doctrine in Practice” betrays Israeli geostrategy in the heart of that more distant calamity. A pragmatic person might ask the question here, “Was Israel against a reset of US-Russia relations?” The answer there leads us to new ideas on just “who” is behind the current west-east divide. Quoting from the report:

“Since 2009, under President Barack Obama, the U.S. has pursued a “Russian reset” policy, promising a fresh start to previously tense relations. Yet this policy has failed to improve American interests, particularly in the South Caucasus region, which is strategically important for both Israeli and U.S. policy towards the greater Middle East and the post-Soviet space.”

This report from the Azerbaijani expert touches on US and Israel “energy security”, which also reflects the core catalyst for crisis in these regions. We don’t often read or hear about the so-called Contract of the Century between Azerbaijan and the big oil heavyweights in the west, but this quote frames the issue well:

“The discovery of the Azeri, Chirag, and Guneshli oil fields in that region significantly energized U.S. policy and diplomacy to transform the area into an important source of non-Middle-Eastern energy. Huge Azeri oil and gas reserves also raised the issue of energy transportation routes to bypass Russia.”

Bypassing Russia and Iran, cutting Syria off as a gateway for delivering energy, destroying any semblance of resistance to Israeli power in the region, shoring up America’s dominance in the global scheme – these deals and strategies show tradeoffs that have created massive crises. And the Zionists that run Israel are smack in the middle of all of them. This is no longer arguable. The question remains, “What can we do about it?”

The answer to the question is not a positive one, for in the west the game is pretty much rigged. Citizens are either distracted by local crises, or they are uneducated and apathetic toward global geopolitics. In short, we’re ill prepared to do anything at all. This is one reason why we see globalist magazines like Foreign Policy, and even leading politicians, unafraid to simply lay out the plans. These revelations we are seeing are a consequence of our own indifference, and the solutions to Israeli or US encroachments are not easy for people to accept. Where Tel Aviv is concerned, the only mediation that will get its attention is force. In my opinion, until the international community (or Russia perhaps) slaps Israel down (and hard) these crises will only escalate. Israel had the key role in Arab Spring, and in the regime change targeting Assad and Syria. As a result, millions of people are now displaced or worse. It’s high time that these Zionist autocrats face the music. The alternative will be a cataclysm.

Original Article: https://journal-neo.org/2017/10/07/israel-s-role-in-the-cataclysm-to-come/

Come, You Masters of War

Come, You Masters of War
Mises Institute Daily Articles / Matthew Harwood

By: Matthew Harwood
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[America’s War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew J. Bacevich (New York: Random House, 2016; 480 pages]

America’s military involvement in the Middle East began in classic imperial fashion, according to military historian and retired Army colonel Andrew J. Bacevich. They had something we needed, and we made sure we had access to it. “Oil has always defined the raison d’être of the War for the Greater Middle East,” he writes in the first paragraph of his magisterial work, America’s War for the Greater Middle East. “Over time, other considerations intruded and complicated the war’s conduct, but oil as a prerequisite of freedom was from day one an abiding consideration.”

By 1969, oil imports already made up 20 percent of the daily oil consumption in the United States. Four years later, Arab oil exporters suspended oil shipments to the United States to punish America for supporting Israel in the October War. The American economy screeched to a halt, seemingly held hostage by foreigners — a big no-no for a country accustomed to getting what it wants. Predictably the U.S. response was regional domination to keep the oil flowing to America, especially to the Pentagon and its vast, permanent war machine.

The Middle East was now a U.S. military priority, and the pursuit of direct American domination of the region came from none other than the supposed peacenik, Jimmy Carter. Before him, Richard Nixon was content to have the Middle East managed by proxies after the bloodletting America experienced in Vietnam. His arch-proxy was the despised shah of Iran, whom the United States had installed into power and then armed to the teeth. When his regime collapsed in 1979, felled by Islamic revolutionaries who would eventually capture the American embassy and initiate the Iranian hostage crisis, so too did the Nixon Doctrine. That same year, the Soviet Union rolled into Afghanistan. The world was a mess, and Carter was under extreme pressure to do something about it, lest he lose his bid for a second term. (He suffered a crushing defeat anyway.)

Furies beyond reckoning

The result was the Carter Doctrine. Delivered to the American people during the 1980 State of Union Address, Carter started America’s War for the Greater Middle East. Months earlier, in his infamous “malaise” speech, Carter asked Americans to simplify their lives and moderate their energy use. Now he declared America’s right to cheap energy. “Let our position be absolutely clear,” he said. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

Analyzing the Carter Doctrine, Bacevich writes that it “represented a broad, open-ended commitment, one that expanded further with time” — one that “implied the conversion of the Persian Gulf into an informal American protectorate. Defending the region meant policing it.” And police it America has done, wrapping its naked self-interest in the seemingly noble cloth of democratization and human rights.

It is illustrative, and alarming, to list Bacevich’s selected campaigns and operations in the region since 1980 up to the present, unleashed by Carter and subsequent presidents. Let’s go in alphabetical order by country followed by the campaigns and operations:

Afghanistan (Cyclone, 1980–1989; Infinite Reach, 1998; Enduring Freedom, 2001–2015; Freedom’s Sentinel, 2015–present); Bosnia (Deny Flight, 1993–1995; Deliberate Force, 1995; Joint Endeavor, 1995–1996); East Africa (Enduring Freedom—Trans Sahara, 2007–present); Egypt (Bright Star, 1980–2009); Iraq (Desert Storm, 1991; Southern Watch, 1991–2003; Desert Strike, 1996; Northern Watch, 1997–2003; Desert Fox, 1998; Iraqi Freedom, 2003–2010; New Dawn, 2010–2011; Inherent Resolve, 2014–present); Iran (Eagle Claw, 1980; Olympic Games, 2007–2010) Kosovo (Determined Force, 1998; Allied Force, 1999; Joint Guardian, 1999–2005); Lebanon (Multinational Force, 1982–1984); Libya (El Dorado Canyon, 1986; Odyssey Dawn, 2011); North/West Africa (Enduring Freedom—Trans Sahara, 2007– present); Pakistan(Neptune Spear, 2011); Persian Gulf (Earnest Will, 1987–1988; Nimble Archer, 1987; Praying Mantis, 1988); Saudi Arabia (Desert Shield, 1990; Desert Focus, 1996); Somalia (Restore Hope, 1992–1993; Gothic Serpent, 1993); Sudan (Infinite Reach, 1998); Syria (Inherent Resolve, 2014–present); Turkey (Provide Comfort, 1991); and Yemen (Determined Response, 2000)

While Bacevich deftly takes the reader through the history of all those wars, the most important aspect of his book is his critique of the United States’s permanent military establishment and the power it wields in Washington. According to Bacevich, U.S. military leaders have a tendency to engage in fantastical thinking rife with hubris. Too many believe the United States is a global force for good that has the messianic duty to usher in secular modernity, a force that no one should ever interfere with, either militarily or ideologically.

As Bacevich makes plain again and again, history does not back up that mindset. For instance, after the Soviet Union’s crippling defeat in Afghanistan, the Washington elite saw it as an American victory, the inauguration of the “end of history” and the inevitable march of “democratic capitalism.” They didn’t see that the U.S.-armed Afghan mujahideen also believed they were the victors and that they had every intention of resisting America’s version of modernity as much as they had resisted the Soviet Union’s. (America’s self-destructive trend of arming its eventual enemies — either directly or indirectly from Saddam Hussein to ISIS, respectively — is a recurring theme of Bacevich’s narrative.)

Over and over again after 9/11, America would be taught this lesson, as Islamic extremists, both Sunni and Shia, bloodied the U.S. military across the Greater Middle East, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. History cannot be controlled, and it had its revenge on a U.S. military and political elite who somehow believed they could see the future and manage historical forces toward a predestined end that naturally benefitted America. As Reinhold Niebuhr warned, and Bacevich quotes approvingly, “The recalcitrant forces in the historical drama have a power and persistence beyond our reckoning.”

Yet across America’s War for the Greater Middle East, presidents would speak theologically of America’s role in the world, never admitting the United States is not an instrument of the Almighty. George H.W. Bush would speak of a “new world order.” Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright would declare that America is “the indispensable nation.” George W. Bush’s faith in this delusion led him to declare a “global war on terrorism,” where American military might would extinguish evil wherever it resided and initiate Condoleeza Rice’s “‘paradigm of progress’ — democracy, limited government, market economics, and respect for human (and especially women’s) rights” across the region. As with all zealots, there was no acknowledgment by the Bush administration, flamboyantly Christian, that evil resided inside them too. Barack Obama seemed to pull back from this arrogance in his 2009 Cairo speech, declaring, “No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.” Yet he continued to articulate his faith that all people desire liberal democracy, even though that simply isn’t true.

All in all, American presidents and their military advisors believed they could impose a democratic capitalist peace on the world, undeterred that each intervention created more instability and unleashed new violent forces the United States would eventually engage militarily, such as Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Bacevich explains that “this conviction, deeply embedded in the American collective psyche, provides one of the connecting threads making the ongoing War for the Greater Middle East something more than a collection of disparate and geographically scattered skirmishes.”

War and diplomacy

Another piece of connective tissue, according to Bacevich, is the belief that war is not the failure of diplomacy but a necessary ingredient to its success. The U.S. military establishment learned this “lesson” in Bosnia when U.S.-led NATO bombing brought Serbia to the negotiating table at the Dayton Peace Accords. “The proper role of armed force,” writes Bacevich, “was not to supplant diplomacy but to make it work.” Gen. Wesley Clark was more succinct when he called war “coercive diplomacy” during the Kosovo conflict. U.S. military force was no longer a last resort, particularly when technology was making it easier to unleash violence without endangering U.S. service members’ lives.

This logic would run aground in Iraq after 9/11 during what Bacevich calls the “Third Gulf War.” In an act of preventive war, the Bush administration “shocked and awed” Baghdad, believing U.S. military supremacy and its almost divine violence would bring other state sponsors of terrorism to heel after America quickly won the war. “Vanquishing Saddam Hussein and destroying his army promised to invest American diplomacy with the power to coerce.” Although the Bush administration believed the war ended after three weeks, Bacevich notes, “the Third Gulf War was destined to continue for another 450.” The people on the ground, as the D.C. elites just learned in November, have a way of not going along with the best-laid plans made for them in the epicenters of power.

There was hope that Barack Obama, a constitutional professor, would correct the Bush administration’s failures and start to wind down America’s War for the Greater Middle East. Instead, he expanded it into Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and West Africa through drone warfare and special-operations missions. Without “any unifying aim or idea,” according to Bacevich, the Obama administration’s “principal contribution” to America’s War for the Greater Middle East was to expand its fronts.

Now this war is in the hands of Donald J. Trump. If there is any upside to a Trump presidency — and I find it hard to find many — it’s the possibility that the intensity of American imperialism in the Middle East will wane. But I find that likelihood remote. Trump has promised to wipe out ISIS, which means continued military action in at least Iraq, Syria, and Libya. He has also called for more military spending, and I find it hard to believe that he or the national-security establishment will increase investment in the military and then show restraint in the use of force overseas.

As Bacevich clearly shows over and over again in his narrative, the men and women who make up the defense establishment have a fanatical, almost theological, belief in the transformational power of American violence. They persist in this belief despite all evidence to the contrary. These are the men and women who will be whispering their advice into the new president’s ear. Expect Uncle Sam’s fangs to grow longer, his talons sharper, his violence huge.

Bacevich, himself, is not hopeful. In a note to readers that greets them before the prologue, Bacevich is refreshingly terse with his assessment of America’s war for the Greater Middle East: “We have not won it. We are not winning it. Simply trying harder is unlikely to produce a different outcome.” And to this it’s not hard to hear Trump retort, “Loser!” And so the needless violence will continue on and on with no end in sight unless the American population develops a Middle East syndrome to replace the Vietnam syndrome that once made Washington wary of war.

That lack of confidence in the masters of war can’t come soon enough.

This article was originally published in the July 2017 edition of Future of Freedom.

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Original Article: https://mises.org/blog/come-you-masters-war

Ann Quin’s Passages

Ann Quin’s Passages
Brit Lit Blogs / no-reply (Vertigo)

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“A new order of space.”

Ann Quin’s Passages (1969) is a brilliant blur of a novel. When you are done with its 112 pages, you will know you have been on breathtaking roller coaster of a journey, but you won’t know where you’ve been or remember much of what you witnessed on the way. A man and a woman (both nameless) are traveling through some vaguely Mediterranean country. Part of the time the couple appear to be searching for the woman’s missing brother, who might already be dead. There are fleeting rumors of torture, a firing squad, detention camps, a sinister right-wing government, suggesting that they are most likely in Greece, which came under the rule of a military junta in 1967. The two suspect they are being followed. At one border crossing they are told their papers aren’t in order; a bribe is paid and suddenly they are told it’s “a case of mistaken identity, let’s say.”

In Passages, Quin’s narration alternates between two very different formats. One is a somewhat straightforward third person indirect prose narration, except the perspective can shift between his and hers—sometimes in successive sentences. The writing in these sections disconcertingly omits the usual signposts that tell us who, where, when, why. Only the what counts. There is almost no reporting from inside his or her mind in these sections, only what they (or one of them, at least) see, do, hear, say.

We walked down to the beach, and sat against drift wood. I watched his cigarette light up a part of his swollen face. Track of light the moon made on the sea. Three hundred yards the beginning of that where she could life both feet up and walk on water. Grains in wood his fingers traced, she entered. Land many oceans spilled into. The way landscapes entered a room. Rooms she went through, corridors. Doors she opened onto carpets that grew towards trees, branches through walls, windows. Soft green light she touched, and was touched by. The scuttling of a crab or some other sea creature passed between them, over the wood. Movement under sand. Shifting of sand in front, behind. Flying fish between waves, those that fell out of the sea, fell back. These she listened to. And the sound of insects.

You can almost follow what is happening, but, as in cinematic montage, there are no laws to Quin’s sense of space or time. Both can become compressed, extended, or reassembled at will. The writing is elliptical, suggestive. “Dislocated from moment to moment” or “connected yet not connected in parts,” as Quin’s narrator puts it. There are frequent references to the act of vision, to what it looks like when we see the world without bothering to narrate the different images in our mind into a coherent story. Nevertheless, there is a powerful logic to Quin’s seemingly confusing prose. Take this example, which occurs when the man and the woman are seated next to each other on a train. When Quin writes “He took out a photograph, passed it to her. I looked at it,” you realize that the “her” that the “I” is referring to is the woman’s own reflection in the train’s window.

This kind of narration alternates with sections of the man’s daily journal, which cover the same time period as the prose portion it follows. But even the journal is bifurcated, containing both the daily entries and occasional annotations written in the margin. He observes her, thinks about her obsessions and what he calls her “madness,” and he ponders his own obsessions and his nightly dreams. His journal is very much concerned with the questions of why? and what does this mean? Many of the marginal notes are descriptions of the imagery on the sides of kraters and other ancient Greek vessels. At times, it’s tempting to think that Quin is using the man’s journal to observe someone very much like herself. It’s the way in which Quin deliberately distances the female character and then analyzes her. In one entry he writes: “She says she knows no limit in/for herself.” And elsewhere:

She cannot live without sensations. She will like some sorceress shape them out of air itself it seems and then present them as if they were the most natural events. But oh beware the man who accepts them as such, then she will carve out his mind and heart, leaving him to cope with the remains.

One entire page is given over to a poem-like listing of her qualities.

Quin Passages page one

The focus of Passages is on the couple’s relationship. They are not in love, they are lovers. “I love all men,” she says, “how can I ever be tied to one man for the rest of my life?” He writes of himself that “he makes love, non-committed on both sides” and “the problem is to discover whether I can live with this woman’s demons without forfeiting my own.” What draws them together, perhaps, is their ability to push themselves to take more risks as a pair. The aura of political violence that continually hangs in the air seems to make them more attuned to what they see and hear, taste and smell. They want to live nearer the edge, senses afire. This is best seen in the hunger, role-playing, sensuousness, and occasional violence that they bring to their flirting and lovemaking. “She risks with her body, her imagination (her heart/mind?)” He and she both make love with strangers on at least one occasion, while the other watches.

Afternoon spent with naked bodies, sunlight and hashish. She fell in love with her own sensuality.

When she saw him make love with another woman she became aware for the first time of his body, as a physical thing.

In the dark woods, on the moist earth, I found my way only by the whiteness of her neck.

The auricle of her ear felt fresh, cool. A shell to the touch on the tongue.

I did not feel jealous until she asked me if I was.

Passages is a remarkable experience. It is the third of the four novels that Quin wrote in a span of less than ten years before committing suicide in 1973. Dalkey Archive brought out new editions of Three, Passages, and Tripticks over the years 2001-3.

Original Article: https://sebald.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/ann-quins-passages/

It Seems that ISIS has No Intention of Surrendering Deir ez-Zor

It Seems that ISIS has No Intention of Surrendering Deir ez-Zor
New Eastern Outlook / Александр Орлов

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It’s no secret that the latest success achieved by Syrian troops near Deir ez-Zor, where they have managed to break the blockade of the city and liberate the better part of its outskirts from the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), may turn out to be a temporary success. The situation on the ground remains difficult due to the fact that Damascus was required to take troops from other fronts using the most combat capable units in order to make this breakthrough possible, weakening the defenses of its flanks in the ongoing struggle with militant terrorists. In spite of a number of positive statements made over the last couple of months by Syria’s officials, it’s still too early for celebrating. This has been proven by the unraveling military crisis near Deir ez-Zor which occurred at the end of this month.

As Damascus relieved Deir ez-Zor, various military experts suggested that an easy victory achieved in this city occurred largely due to a change in the tactics employed by ISIS. And they were right. ISIS simply withdrew all of its elite combat-ready units from the city, leaving behind local militia and mercenary units. The withdrawn forces would then block the advancement of Syrian-Iranian-Russian troops, preventing them from reaching the settlement of Abu Kamal on the very border with Iraq. This city is instrumental in Tehran’s plan of supplying Damascus with weapons across Iraq. But the advancement was stalled due to this ISIS resistance which was also supported by forces dispatched from Raqqa, which is now also being defended by local ISIS-aligned militias. Yet, the pro-American SDF forces are still unable to capture the city. Apparently it will take them at least 2-3 more weeks.

All this led to ISIS militants launching an offensive across a broad front from Palmyra to Deir ez-Zor at the very end of September, targeting Syrian communication lines in a bid to cut off the main Syrian military supply route – the Palmyra-as-Suhna and then the as-Suhna-Deir ez-Zor supply lines. According to various reports, hostilities in the as-Suhna area alone resulted in at least 100 men losing their lives, while Palmyra found itself under attack too. In fact, a 20 mile long stretch of road that supplies Deir ez-Zor fell into the hands of militants. ISIS releases reports about dozens of killed Syrian servicemen. High casualty numbers on the part of the Syrian armed forces are hardly surprising, since all of the combat capable forces of the Syrian army have been sent to Deir ez-Zor, with their rear being covered by units of hastily trained soldiers unprepared to fight elite ISIS forces. It’s clear that ISIS is planning to occupy as-Suhna in the coming weeks if allowed. If their offensive is not stopped we may see Palmyra besieged yet again. For ISIS, Palmyra represents a major prize, since after its liberation Damascus rebuilt and restocked massive supply and ammunition depots in this city.

It’s only natural that under those circumstances the confrontation with local Kurds militants groups attempting to capture Syrian oil fields becomes secondary. The Syrians are not able to fight at once with two opponents, especially while its forces suffer losses, for instance, the loss of at least 4 tanks during the Deir-ez-Zor assault.

It’s clear that Washington, aiding in no way as Russia and Syria struggle against ISIS militants, is secretly hoping that Moscow deploy a massive airborne task force to prevent the situation on the ground from becoming disastrous. However, such a move could be potentially catastrophic, since in spite of its ability to handle virtually any situation, Russia’s paratrooper forces may suffer serious casualties, which will mean that Russia will be drawn deeper into the Syrian war, triggering a possible Soviet-Afghan War scenario, which would be highly beneficial for Washington.

The fact that the situation is getting worse is evident in reports from Palmyra stating that local defense forces are already engaged in firefights with ISIS militants. Moreover, the shelling of the city also has allegedly begun.

On September 29, a number of media outlets began distributing reports that as-Suhna has allegedly fallen to ISIS militants. Damascus was quick to send reinforcements to support the forces trapped in the city, but they were ambushed on the Palmyra-Deir-ez-Zor highway. Allegedly, 40 servicemen of the Syrian armed forces lost their lives in this ambush, including officers. In total, no less than 180 Syrian soldiers lost their lives at the end of September, including the Chief of the Syrian Military Intelligence, General Abu Ibrahim al-Zabraoui who perished in a downed helicopter together with its pilot.

ISIS militants have also claimed the capture of the town of Shula at the crossroads leading to Deir ez-Zor from the desert. If the statement is true, then Syrian forces defending the city are completely surrounded. This fact doesn’t mean anything on its own, since in order to secure their recent successes ISIS needs to significantly expand the area they are currently controlling. However, how many more men they can deploy on the battleground is a mystery. However, the withdrawal a few weeks ago of all elite units from Deir ez-Zor can offer hints that they are preparing a strike at the rear of the Russian-Syrian task force operating in the city.

The situation in Deir ez-Zor is aggravated further by the counterattacks launched by Jabhat al-Nusra militants and other armed groups. Russian warplanes have been hitting armed groups in Idlib for days to prevent them from launching an assault on Deir ez-Zor. Now Damascus discusses an armistice in this area in order to prevent the pontoon ferry across the Euphrates (to the left bank) built by Russian military forces from being destroyed and progress there set back.

Therefore, it’s no wonder that discussions between Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan were mostly concentrated on Syria. Right now Turkish armed forces play an important role in the situation on the ground, especially regarding Idlib, since Damascus is in urgent need to transfer elite Syrian units from there.

Alexander Orlov, Political Scientist and Expert Orientalist, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

Original Article: https://journal-neo.org/2017/09/30/it-seems-that-isis-has-no-intension-of-surrendering-deir-ez-zor/

Destruction of Last Chemical Munition in Russia Is ‘Historic Event’ – Putin

Destruction of Last Chemical Munition in Russia Is ‘Historic Event’ – Putin
globalresearch / Sputnik

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The last kilogram of Russia’s 40,000-tonne stockpile of chemical warfare agents, which was contained in two artillery shells, was destroyed on Wednesday at the Kizner facility in Udmurtia.

Attending the event via video link, Putin said that it is “a …

Original Article: https://www.globalresearch.ca/destruction-of-last-chemical-munition-in-russia-is-historic-event-putin/5611133