Sam Harris Should Read Bernard Williams

In Shame and Necessity (Sather Classical Lectures, University of California Press, 2nd ed., 2008, pp. 68-69) writing on the ancient Greeks’ conceptions of responsibility and human agency via the tale of Oedipus, Bernard Williams writes: [T]here is another aspect to responsibility, which comes out if we start on the question not from the response that the publicContinue reading “Sam Harris Should Read Bernard Williams”

Dickipedia Was Invented For Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney‘s continued existence, his persistent and unconscionable consumption of space, oxygen, and sundry precious natural resources, has long been an airtight argument against the existence of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient God. To wit, does such a God know of his existence? If not, then he is not all-knowing. If God does know of his existence,Continue reading “Dickipedia Was Invented For Dick Cheney”

Waterboardin’ Brothers: The ISIS And The US

Over at The New York Times, Rukmini Callimachi writes on the inhumane treatment the ISIS meted out to those they held hostage (some of whom, like James Foley, were subsequently beheaded). Of particular interest to all Americans should be her descriptions of their torture techniques: The story of what happened in the Islamic State’s undergroundContinue reading “Waterboardin’ Brothers: The ISIS And The US”

Robespierre On The Iraq War(s)

Robespierre, in a speech to the Jacobin Club, which began on 2 January 1792, and concluded on 11 January, responding to the Girondins call for war: [T]he most extravagant idea that can arise in the mind of a politician is the belief that a people need only make an armed incursion into the territory ofContinue reading “Robespierre On The Iraq War(s)”

Why Get Arrested? Why Perform Civil Disobedience?

A Facebook friend of mine asked in response to my posts and photos about yesterday’s protest at the Israeli mission to the UN: It seems as though you all knew you were going to get arrested and almost seem proud of that? Isn’t there a way to protest without being arrested? This is a veryContinue reading “Why Get Arrested? Why Perform Civil Disobedience?”

Christopher Hitchens: Pro-War, Anti-Death Penalty

A few days ago, Corey Robin wondered on his Facebook status: Something I never understood about Christopher Hitchens: how such a fervent opponent of the death penalty could be such an avid supporter of war. Supporters of the death penalty, of course, are notoriously fond of war (they also tend to be ‘pro-life’ in theContinue reading “Christopher Hitchens: Pro-War, Anti-Death Penalty”

Iraq and the Pottery Barn Rule: Don’t Break It Any More Please

As turban-wearing hordes ride down on their stallions from the hills, their sharpened scimitars gleaming in the bright Mesopotamian sunshine, threatening to add to the steadily growing mound of heads separated from their now-twitching bodies, should the United States saddle up, lock and load, and ride out to meet them? Should  it crush its enemies, see them drivenContinue reading “Iraq and the Pottery Barn Rule: Don’t Break It Any More Please”

RIP Norman Geras

Norman Geras, prolific blogger and professor emeritus of politics at the University of Manchester has passed away at the age of 70. He had been suffering from prostate cancer. Norm was best known as a political theorist whose oeuvre included books on Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg and Richard Rorty. (He also served on the editorial boards ofContinue reading “RIP Norman Geras”

The ‘Historic’ Statue Toppling That Wasn’t

In his essay ‘The Toppling: How the media inflated a minor moment in a long war‘ (The New Yorker, January 20, 2011), Peter Maass provides, by way of context and background, a useful deflationary account of the famous toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square on April 9, 2003. The statue’sContinue reading “The ‘Historic’ Statue Toppling That Wasn’t”

On Meeting a Veteran

I have lived in New York City through the ten years that the twin wars of our time, the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been waged. In that time, I’ve met a few members of the armed forces who have served in those operations. (Their willingness to talk about their experience has varied: someContinue reading “On Meeting a Veteran”