Category Archives: Uncategorized

Making Democracy Safe for the World

Stalin once said “One death is a tragedy. One million is a statistic.”

The current American – Wilsonian era concept that we are “making the world safe for democracy” is tantamount to a type of neo-imperialism. We need to move past the theory that we can export democracy. It doesn’t work and not another American soldier’s life, nor the blood of another Arab, Israeli, Turkmen or Kurdish man or woman needs to be sacrificed to either prove or learn that lesson. F. Scott Fitzgerald summed it up perfectly when he wrote the following at the end of his novel, The Great Gatsby, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning– So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Please do not misinterpret my intention. My service to the US Army following the events of September 11, 2001 is an unsurpassable point of pride for me. But having spent the last several years trying to justify the deaths of friends in the long war, it has become clear to me that our intent has an historical precedent that is rooted in economic interest and regional influence that is not worth the price of a single human soul. God bless our military and hold our lost comrades in your arms.

Advertisements

Globalization is not equitably, mutually beneficial

The issue is not ISIS but regional allies, and influence. Although not opposed to the destruction of the Islamic State, Russia fears the ultimate target of American intervention is the Syrian military and the Assad regime itself, a traditional ally of Russia. Israel, a U.S. ally, shot down a Syrian fighter jet for the first time in 3 decades. Turkey is not a part of the lauded coalition providing support for the airstrikes, denying the use of its bases for military intervention. And Egypt suggests targets should not be confined to Iraq and Syria implying a desire for an escalation of the offensive to include militants (read Muslim Brotherhood, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis) in Egypt and neighboring Libya. The U.S. led operation in Libya to oust Gadhafi was also denounced by Moscow, while describing the U.S. as adopting missile-bomb democracy. Saudi Arabia has pledged to allow the training of Syrian rebel forces opposed to the Islamic State at bases in its territory, but as of 14 September, no country in the region had offered concrete military support. However, as of 22 September, two U.S. defense officials identified participating partner nations as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. One official described them as “full participants” in the airstrikes in Syria but did not give further details, saying it was up to those countries to fully disclose their roles. I have a feeling Qatar did not participate directly although the use of a U.S. airbase there and Qatari airspace is considered support for the operation.

From David Blair, The Telegraph article US launches air strikes against Isil in Syria:

“Five Arab countries are supporting the US air campaign against Isil targets in Syria, according to the Pentagon. But only Jordan has confirmed that its aircraft have actually carried out air strikes. All of the others have kept silent, raising doubts over whether they are flying bombing missions, or confining their role to offering bases and opening their airspace.”

From The Telegraph article US launches air strikes against Isil in Syria: 

“But Jordan’s participation comes as little surprise. Of the five Arab states named by the Pentagon as supporting the offensive, only Jordan is directly threatened by Isil fighters. The terrorist movement has captured the area of Iraq along Jordan’s eastern frontier. Hence King Abdullah can argue that Jordan’s participation is essential for national security.”

But why would the regional powers back the offensive if they were not ultimately in support of it? Because the development of ISIS can be linked to a proxy war by the Arab States against Iran and the Shi’ite majorities in the north in an attempt to destabilize the region and prevent the evolution of a Shi’ite Crescent power base. It is MY OPINION that these countries have provided the U.S. with the illusion of a multilateral campaign with little buy-in. It is also MY OPINION that this conflict will ultimately lead to a restructuring of the Middle East with boundaries drawn along demographic and ethnic lines versus the current artificial borders set up according to the Versailles Treaty, Sykes-Picot (which Russia had little to no impact on) agreement and subsequent conflicts in the region.


U.S. Airstrikes in Syria

This is the result of a lack of the American commitment to a sustained presence in Iraq. Whether or not you agree with the reasons for entering the country 11 years ago, the fact remains the history of our military intervention has proven that significant change can only be successful if a sustained presence for at least a generation is achieved. We as a country or an economy did not have the stomach for a military presence in the region for a long period of time. For that reason we probably shouldn’t have gone in in the first place. But now we have created a wider conflict that could engulf the region and greater powers, Russia included. With our ongoing animosity towards Moscow this could get out of hand quickly.

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/u-s-launches-airstrikes-syria-against-isis-targets-n209286


Expectations

In response to questions posed at a group therapy session:

I have come to the conclusion that my issue with the therapy program as it is presented in its current form lies in its stance on expectations and the validity of my expectations in particular, as well as the effectiveness of this method in dealing with the real problem.

I am enrolled in this therapy program because I failed to meet a specific societal expectation encoded into law. As a result of my behavior, I am dealing with the consequences prescribed by that law. Failing to meet expectations (in this case breaking or violating a social contract) will inevitably result in consequences. My expectations are rooted in a belief system centered on a distinctly Western social perspective. And yet I am being told that, even though my expectations are not unique, within that perspective they are now considered inconsequential.  What has changed? Am I no longer a citizen or member of the society under that social contract? Am I considered unreasonable and therefor my expectations are no longer valid? Or is it that my reaction to the violation of my expectations has been deemed unreasonable and therefor requires alteration? Either way this determination is based on a solitary incident used to define my entire psychological and sociocultural disposition in a negative light. As a reasonable person I would say I have a right to certain expectations of the behavior of others living under the same social contract. Those expectations amount to the “underlying should” often referred to in these sessions.

In today’s society we tend to place violations of the social contract on a scale of seriousness, the reaction to which is also graduated. From what I have heard so far in the course, I gather that in general, my reaction to violations of expectations have been deemed inequitable to the seriousness of the violations themselves; that I was arrested for driving under the influence being indicative of this supposition. I think this is an unfair assessment to make based on one incident with the law and I have reservations about the effectiveness of this type of program with regards to the real problem; i.e. that an intoxicated individual is able to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive. The problem I have with this is that it is counterintuitive to say we are punishing you for your lack of decision making abilities when the act was committed under circumstances involving a drug that negatively affects those abilities. If the capability to choose not to drive under the influence of alcohol, or other drugs for that matter, is in any way damaged, then the consequence should be with regards to the decision to drink in the first place (with certain parameters applied). But we have tried that (prohibition) with minimal effectiveness to say the least. The other option is to make it impossible for inebriates to operate a vehicle at all. For example, I cannot practice medicine even if I wanted to. Lack of education, access to drugs and authority to prescribe medication are just a few of the limiting factors. But this is not an infringement of my constitutional rights because practicing medicine is a privilege assigned to qualified individuals. Driving is a privilege and not a right. A person under the influence has no more right to drive than I have to practice medicine, and if the system was serious about eliminating drunk driving, they would make it impossible for the driver to do so. But unlike practicing medicine without a license, the system benefits from the revenue stream associated with DUI offenses. This seems a little hypocritical.

As for isolation, I am sure you are aware Freud had a theory that it is a defense mechanism. Whether its pathological isolation or solitude, I think defining it in terms of a defense mechanism still applies. If I am dealing with the intellectual origin of specific emotions or behaviors, then my isolation is consider solitude and therapeutic. If I am defending against an emotional result or behavioral consequence of a particular thought, then my isolation is pathological – timeframe of isolation also being a factor in diagnosing pathology. However, if I redefine isolation, not in terms of an asocial or anti-social state but one in which my expectations of human behavior (thoughts) are removed and replaced with justified true beliefs (expectations consistently upheld over time; knowledge) such as would be the case with close family and friends then I can no longer be considered unreasonable in my belief about how those people will behave. With that said, violations of my expectations in this kind of isolation are minimal, and when they do occur, I am better prepared to understand the reasons behind those violations. In addition, I am more confident and I feel comfortable with my ability to be open with these people and secure in my expectations of their reactions.

You (as the therapist) assume and maybe rightly so, that I have an underlying fear of surprise or disappointment when my expectations of human behavior are not met. You attempt to discover what it is that I am afraid of (rejection, ridicule, abandonment, etc.) and reframe my perceptions in order that those fears are eliminated or are at least diminished and that my reaction to the violation of my expectations is on par with the violation itself. However, the assumptions are that I would be happier if this apprehension were removed and that my reactions are inordinate; again based on a single data point – the DUI. I don’t necessarily believe that all people fit this particular model of the balanced, healthy human being. To say that the extrovert personality type is more desirable than the introvert is to assume that the interior environment of the introvert is destructive, which is not always the case (what is the reason for isolation). As an introvert (or in isolation) I reserve my personal interaction with people I am familiar with, whose reactions I can anticipate. Strangers are kept at a psychological distance until my expectations of their behavior can be validated. I don’t think this is an unhealthy method for operating in the world nor do I believe it constitutes some form of psychological disturbance.


Trust

File:Almeida Júnior - Saudade (Longing) - Google Art Project.jpg

Saudade: José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior (1850–1899)

The rationality of a particular person’s emotional response to a stimulus is what is being presented as the alleged inability of a person to elicit an emotional response from another person. It is generally accepted that there are basic emotions (anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise; Paul Ekman, 1972) whose existence surpass the bounds of culture and literacy. In essence they are not learned behaviors. Emotions such as the schadenfreude in German and saudade in Portuguese are commonly expressed as emotions in their respective languages, but lack an English equivalent.

Take the Portugese word saudade, often interpreted as “the love that remains”. The argument that a person can choose to have this particular emotional response to a loved one’s passing has no basis in reality. The event of that person’s passing whether in death or otherwise, affects a response. The emotional investiture of your relationship with that person can determine the sociological rationality for a particular response to that event. In fact, the lack of a sociologically acceptable reaction by a person who has experienced something that should cause an emotional response is considered a pathology (blunted affect, alexithymia) . The reaction to that emotional response is a choice, suicide, closure, etc. But the emotional response itself is real and uncontrollable, it is not a learned behavior or a choice. The choice comes in our response to the effect of the event that caused the emotion. If you subscribe to the Lovheim cube of emotion then the emotional response is derived by the release of three signal substances (dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin) resulting in eight basic emotions (shame, contempt, joy, fear, distress, surprise, excitement, and anger). In other words you can no more control the emotional response to an event than you can choose to release a particular neurotransmitter from a set of neurons in the autonomic nervous system. What does affect the transmission of these chemicals into a person’s system is that person’s physiological and psychological state at the time the event is experienced. There may be a level of choice in these characteristics of a person’s state.

With respect to trust, yes there are strings attached. Of course there are strings attached. The definition of trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. Trust is a heuristic approach to dealing with the problem of stability in a relationship. It is based on the belief that a person will behave within a set of expectations resulting from one’s experience with that person or thing, or things of a similar nature. If I said “I don’t trust that dog” what I mean is I believe it is unpredictable – it is difficult to anticipate its behavior; its behavior is unexpected. The same goes with people. If I say I don’t trust people, what I am trying to say is that, in my experience people do not behave the way I expect them to. In that sense, expectations could be called strings. And they are my expectations, which may differ from another person’s expectations. But there are society wide expectations that are applicable to everyone who, by virtue of living in that society are bound by that society’s social contract. Social morays are one example. These expectations may change over time as evinced in our own day and age.


Introduction

saddle-horn2I have wanted to start a blog for several years and have held off due to a feeling of anxiety over what people might think of what I had to say.  In the end I guess it doesn’t really matter, but I’m disappointed to find out that I’ve constrained myself so much by the opinions of others.  I’m writing despite my own anxiety so if you have a comment, be gentle.

I have too many hobbies to really be able to label any of them hobbies.  Overall I just enjoy being outside with my family.  I enjoy dirt bike riding, horse back riding and any outdoor activity that involves working with dogs.  A while back we bought a fairly decent camera and I’ve  had fun pretending to know how to use it.  I hope to have some photographs included in upcoming entries, like the one attached here.  There seems to be a lot of help on the Internet for amateur photographers so if the first few pictures are not very good, there’s still hope.

Lately I’ve been looking for a place just to write down some thoughts in a setting a little more formal than what I have done in the past (I have several journals and notebooks).  Most of what I write on will likely deal with history, society, politics, religion, and physics. I enjoy learning about physics and attempting to apply its concepts and laws to other arenas of life. In the case that the post is not covered by one of the above topics, it will likely be concerned with nothing in particular. Nothing in particular may include horse back riding, dogs, coffee, the joy of living with my family on the plains of eastern Colorado, or the general oddity of life.  I don’t expect a lot of readers.  But I appreciate the opportunity to have a place to collect my thoughts.   I look forward to writing again.  Until later…


Falling off the shoulders of genius – Part 1

Do you ever feel like you’re position in life is so precarious its as if you were perched up on someone else’s shoulders. Someone who really has no business holding anyone up but themselves to begin with. I have that feeling a lot. Except the position I am describing is intellectual and my supporters, giants! Continue reading