Friday, August 06, 2004

Fall of Rome

An Islamist magazine from Algeria, Al-Jama'a, proposing a list of targets for Islamic attack, includes a number we are familiar with because they outline the Islamic empire at its greatest extent - places which Muslim thought can plausibly identify as already "given" to Islam and due to be retaken: Constantinople, Andalus, Tours (the "Pavement of the Martyrs"), Vienna. Rome, however, has never been taken (nor even approached, as was Vienna) by Islamic forces, and its presence here therefore begs the question: why is it listed?

The answer, I'd suggest, is to be found in the hadith or tradition of the prophet quoted in the second "bead" of this doublequote: the fall of Rome has been promised to the believers by their Prophet, as an event which will take place before the returning Christ's war against the Dajjal (the Islamic Antichrist).

This in turn raises the broader issue of Tradition and Strategy, or the degree to which intelligence aanalysts are reading the hadith of the Prophet with an eye towards their possible strategic interpretation. In an analytic piece that I am currently putting together, I hope to show that predictions of the Mahdi's activities may be of importance in understanding bin Laden's strategic objectives.


It is worth mention that in the interpretation of apocalyptic texts, place names are sometimes used in a purely symbolic manner, as when Martin Luther remarks "The papacy is indeed nothing but the kingdom of Babylon and of the true Antichrist" -- associating Babylon (as named in the Book of Revelation) with Rome.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

War Games

It is not, perhaps, that much of a coincidence if Arquilla and Ronfeldt's Networks and Netwars and Tom Barnett's The Pentagon's New Map, two recent attempts to rethink the nature of conflict, should each use a games metaphor to describe that newness – both chess and go are war games, and mentioned in a previous DoubleQuotes, soccer has itself been both a casus belli and a suggested means for transcending conflict.

Arquilla and Ronfeldt's choice of Go as the "new game" exemplar begs the question of whether things have changed since the time of Chairman Mao, as depicted by Scott Boorman in his Protracted Game: A Wei-Ch'i Interpretation of Maoist Revolutionary Strategy -- but it is Barnett's choice of soccer (a non-obvious comparative for chess) which is intriguing, sparking our interest in the differences and likenesses not between chess and soccer so much as between soccer and go.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


I am very curious about Sheikh Palazzi, featured in the quote accompanying the image of young Palestinians in suicide kit: he tells some very brave truths. The first quote is replete with irony, too: the doll being a work of agitprop, yet costing more than $1,000 -- with the proceeds going to Amnesty.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Soothing Musics

[One of the reasons I wanted to post this particular item is that it illustrates the possibility of these doublequotes encompassing visual as well as verbal information. I also find Ms. Jacobsen's image quite lovely, and can imagine the possibility that if she smiled at me, I might be a little shaken and not be able to meet her eyes. Finally, I wanted to get the cluster of links available below on record, because I think Ms. Jacobsen's story is interesting as a phenomenon, and that later developments with regard both to the Federal Air Marshals and Mr. Mehana's band are important in understanding the whole picture.]

Terror in the Skies, Again?

The Syrian Wayne Newton:

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Martial Musics:

Thus far, I've posted these doublequotes without any commentary of my own, without active links to the sources quoted, and without offering comment or feedback opportunities to my readers. I have now discovered a way to include comments and trackback, so those features will be available here from now on.

My latest doublequotes entry is an intriguing one, I believe, raising issues about warfare and the arts in a somewhat allusive manner:

The URLs, for anyone who wants to read the quotes in context, are as follows:
Musicians call-up is not playing well in Congress
Terror in the Skies, Again?

Bagpipes, anyone?

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Sporting Chance


Wednesday, June 09, 2004