The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Nice Attacks

A truck has plowed into a crowd at a Bastille Day celebration. Reports suggest about 60 casualties.

This is a tragedy.

It is not any more of a tragedy than the US attack on an MSF hospital in Afghanistan.

It is not more of a tragedy than the deliberate targeting of the Iraqi sewage system during the Gulf War.

The blood and pain of people who are not like you is not one whit less important than the blood and pain of people who are like you.

The number of people hurt and killed is important. Less death and pain is preferable to  more death and pain.

Every single person killed or harmed by ISIS is the responsibility of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, along with the governments and militaries who backed them. There is no ISIS without the Iraq war. (It’s unclear if ISIS will claim responsibility, but the point remains that this terrorism is the result of the Iraq war.)

Causality is important when dealing with ethics. The consequences of invading Iraq were forseen by everyone with even the slightest amount of sense. Even the CIA and British intelligence called the consequences correctly.

Until people get their ethical reasoning straight, they will continue to create hellscapes.

I feel great sympathy for those in Nice who have lost someone. I feel no more sympathy for them than for all the Iraqis who have lost someone.

We are either all human, or we aren’t. A world where we aren’t is Hell.

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Let Us Speak of Hope for the Future


Turkish Coup Attempt Fails


  1. Bill Hicks

    Well said. It is ironic that the horrific recent attacks have been against France, which refused to participate in the Iraq War. But that’s one of the big problems with terrorism, it always seems to hit innocent people rather than the criminals who committed the war crimes for which the terrorists are striking in retaliation.

  2. Some Guy

    “It is wisely ordained by nature, that private connexions should commonly prevail over univeral views and considerations; otherwise our affections and actions would be dissopated and lost, for want of a proper limited object. Thus a small benefit done to ourselves, or our near friends, excites more lively sentiments of love and approbation than a great benefit done to a distant commonwealth: But still we know here, as in all the senses, to correct these inequalities by reflection, and retain a general standard of vice and virtue, founded chiefly on a general usefulness.”

    David Hume

  3. V. Arnold

    I second Bill Hicks; well done.
    I can’t help but to think of the profound effects on societies across the so called, free world. Everything is being weaponized and rather than defy the terrorists; France has chosen to cancel all public events planned for the present and near future. The terrorists are winning and the people cower…

  4. The Little Teapot

    N i c e.

    Do you follow Chuck D on Twitter? You familiar with this?

    Read along:

    Speaking of terrorists winning and the people cowering, speaking of those who are defying the terrorists …

    The state-sponsored ones in the U.S. continue to rock out with their glocks out in full force, giddily brutalizing and murdering away. (Brace yourself: I’m a little teapot … ) Black Lives Matter. Brown Lives Matter. My solidarity with the movement isn’t even honorable because *drum roll for self-interest* …

    I’ve been brutalized and harassed by these overstuffed terrorist assholes enough times — and by “enough times,” I also mean I was intimidated by them just today — to feel like I need an elephant tranquilizer to get myself to sleep. The bad circus just won’t stop here for people like we. You don’t want to know how many Trump supporters have been threatening me with rape and murder lately. You don’t. I don’t want to know it, either.

    “Until people get their ethical reasoning straight, they will continue to create hellscapes.” “We are either all human, or we aren’t. A world where we aren’t is Hell.” Yes. Welcome to the Terrordome.

    (I maybe should not have read your sparring with Vinay because my brain almost exploded. I dug it, though.) (Yes, I dug my brain almost exploding. It’s preferable to wanting to stab myself in the hindbrain due to experiencing reality as unintentional satire.)

    I would love to read your thoughts on this interesting development:

    But I’m not the boss of you. Do as thou wilt.

    With any luck, I’ve created a coherent comment. Back to the land of music for me while I wait for sleep to come.

    And as always, thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  5. 84 at last count. Picts still being guarded.

  6. NRG

    Every day, on average, 153,000 people die. The deaths of several dozen people can be both tragic and, in context, representative of every other day.

    Most days, some of those 153,000 die due to the US drone bombing them to death. The drone assault approach maintains the illusion that the US and its allies can act with impunity, without repercussions. Pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan maintains that illusion as well. That illusion is in the process of being shattered to bits, as it should be. Wrecking stable countries has repercussions. Destroying an entire region’s infrastructure, effectively denying water, electricity, medicine and the other necessities of life will result in people there getting extremely angry. It will result in rational, sane people vowing to get revenge on those who ruined their careers, killed their families, and drove them out of their homes. We, the West, took away the futures of millions of Iraqis, Syrians, and others. We put them into a desperate, horrific situation. Desperate people in horrific situations tend to. . . strike back at those who put them there.

    None of this is intended as a justification for killing civilians, which is not morally justifiable. It is intended to explore motivations in an attempt to avoid further inflaming the situation. If a foreign power had treated the US, or any western power, in the way that the west has treated Iraq, the reaction would be. . . very extreme and violent. Western leaders seem not to be able to understand this simple fact of human nature, preferring to pretend their counterparts are crazy, irrational religious fanatics. While some may be, there are plenty of other, more rational, reasons for taking extreme actions in response to that kind of provocation. In other words, we are all human, with all that entails.

  7. Effem

    I disagree in one major respect. Out of sheer necessity, humans have a greater obligation to those with closer proximity. It is 100% justifiable to save a family member even if you could save 2 a few towns over. It is completely justifiable to give to a charity to help homelessness in your country even though that same amount of money could save a life in Africa. Any other conclusion would cast doubt on most any human action. Anyone living with any luxuries is guilty of murder when that money could have easily saved in life in some far-off place instead. Simply not plausible.

  8. @Bill Hicks: It probably should be mentioned that France led the way in the recent destruction of Libya (while America “led from behind”) and has a long history in North African occupation. Think Algeria.

  9. Shh

    I keep hearing this argument that, of course we’ll treat those closer to us better than everyone else. I still don’t see how that justifies treating others like shit.

    The west created and continues to perpetuate a totally different set of values for treatment of “non-western” countries. We exploit them for luxuries with ruthless abandon and take umbrage when the complain. We destroy what little civil infrastructure they have and demand the adopt our ideals.

    When they adopt our ideals – ruthlessness – we wring our hands and emphatically declare that the worst among us are the best. We consistently choose the path of greatest cyclicality and reinforce the shitty self serving idiocy that started the whole ball rolling.

    Until and unless we can look in the mirror and say “fuck, look at all the blood on my hands, perhaps I should change” then all is lost. It is anyway because they same short sighted easy rationalizations have left our biosphere in a state of certain collapse. This is merely the opening act.

    To Ian’s point about having an equivalent horror at every act of terrorism, whether US bombing of weddings or lone wolf attacks in Dallas or Nice, perhaps the attacks in France will become so common they are no longer news, as happened in Iraq.

    I am not Charlie. Charlie was a racist fuck who blamed the victim for his own trauma.

  10. ThePanzer

    I wonder if this will be enough to finally dissuade France from supporting the various Jihadis fighting in Syria. This belief that the west can use these lunatics as cat’s paws to remove ME governments they don’t like is just an obviously bad idea.

    As Turkey is also finding out, you never, ever, ever, support armed religious radicals. They can and will turn on you every time.

  11. Peter*

    The tendency to oversimplify and fixate on Bush et al when these reprisal attacks occur is getting old and serves no useful purpose other than political sour grapes. The West created the conditions for the rise of political Islam over a hundred years ago and all our presidents and European leaders have fanned the flames of Jihad to greater and lesser degrees, Eisenhower was in the greater group along with Bush. Few people seem to recall that there would be no al Qaeda if not for the Russians invading Afghanistan which attracted the first organized flow of Jihadists into a conflict.

    OBL explained very well why there are no innocent civilians anywhere especially in the West and so long as people in the West don’t rise up and stop their civilization from murdering the people of the Muslim world they will pay a dear price.

    France opposed the Iraq war for mercantile reasons and quickly returned to their bloody imperialist ways in the MENA for mercantile reasons. They are now the prime target for reprisal attacks and they won’t be allowed to celebrate their freedom while they try to bomb people in the Muslim world into submission.

  12. hvd


    In response to:

    ” Few people seem to recall that there would be no al Qaeda if not for the Russians invading Afghanistan which attracted the first organized flow of Jihadists into a conflict.”

    It seems that actually the flow of jihadis preceded and at least in part induced the Soviet invasion to support the Afghan government. See:

  13. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    OBL explained very well why there are no innocent civilians anywhere especially in the West and so long as people in the West don’t rise up and stop their civilization from murdering the people of the Muslim world they will pay a dear price.

    Did OBL entertain the delusion that the Western nations are truly the democracies which they claim to be, so that we peasants could command the Malefactors of Great Wealth (h/t Teddy Roosevelt) to order their tame pet States to cease attacks on neo-medievalists who resist the MOGW’s global plutocracy (on behalf of something that, if realized, would be even worse than that plutocracy)?

    Or was OBL referring to actual rebellion? If the latter, the average Western peasant is far more likely to get killed by the uniformed goons of the MOGW and their tame pet States if s/he rebels against them, than s/he is likely to get killed by some lone-wolf nut for not rebelling against the MOGW and their States. For the average U. S. resident, the actual odds of being killed by a jihadi terrorist are tiny, at most.

    But that’s one of the big problems with terrorism, it always seems to hit innocent people rather than the criminals who committed the war crimes for which the terrorists are striking in retaliation.

    Exactly. The terrorists never kill any of the Malefactors or their high-ranking servants in the States. They never kill their true enemies. They only kill the slaves of their enemies. The MOGW don’t care, because they literally have over a billion more slaves where those came from.

  14. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    We are either all human, or we aren’t. A world where we aren’t is Hell.

    No, we are all human, and that is why the world is Hell.

  15. Le temps des Cerises

    Ivory Bill Woodpecker, why are you here? You are a smart man and not without insight, but you seem to have embraced cynicism and defeat and surrendered to your own powerlessness and to the darkness in our hearts, rather than defying them and trying overcome them. If you think the Malefactors of Great Wealth cannot be stopped by any means, then why do you bother hanging around here?

  16. Peter*


    An insignificant number of Arab fighters had joined the large local tribal resistance to the godless commie vassal regime in Kabul before Russia invaded. These fighters and what much later became AQ never played any significant role in that war but they offered their support to the cause of Jihad against the Russian infidels.

  17. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Cherry Times (I remember that much of my high-school French, anyway) asks a serious question; I’ll try to provide a serious answer.

    My cynicism proceeds from observation of the actual results of “successful” revolutions–reigns of terror, dictators fouler than the ones they replaced, gulags, killing fields, et cetera, ad nauseam.

    “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss”–how could it be anything else, when the new boss(es) belong to the species Homo sapiens, just like the old boss(es)?

    I attribute the “dark side” of human nature as a set of regrettably necessary adaptations to the exigencies of survival in the amoral and pitiless biosphere, “red in tooth and claw”, in which our species had the misfortune to evolve. The dark side is not equally expressed in every one of us, but it does exist in even the saintliest of us.

    I prefer the devils I know to the devils I do not know, whereas you lot wish to conjure up the devils you do not know, in the mistaken belief that they are unfallen angels.

  18. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    An unlucky few of us will pay Osama’s “dear price”, but the vast majority of us never will, and so I like my odds.

  19. scruff

    The terrorists never kill any of the Malefactors or their high-ranking servants in the States. They never kill their true enemies. They only kill the slaves of their enemies.

    It’s almost as if their terrorism is actually about the authoritarian Islamic rule they keep telling us it’s about, rather than the theories American lefty theoreticians keep telling us it’s about.

  20. Shh

    I sure hope my opinions are sanctified satisfactorily pious to evade evisceration, although I too see very little reason for optimism of the sort that denies exigent realties. Light and shadow are always in balance and always in opposition. Reality is only distinguished through apprehension, and who can say what degree of volition imparts cognizence? ergo, let the man speak.

    No thing will alter the course of events unless it is so.

  21. Peter*


    You’re correct about a direct threat to your person but that isn’t necessary to dismantle your sense of isolation and safety and our lovely government will use that fear to continue to strip citizens of their liberty so there is no escaping the blowback from our imperialism and wars.

    People who babble on about the ‘terrorists’ not attacking the malefactors don’t seem to remember the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon or that the powerful malefactors are well protected now. These new individual and small group attacks not necessarily directed by the IS are and will continue to be an effective tactic, they are almost impossible to stop.

  22. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    How many of the MOGW could be found in the Twin Towers or the Pentagon when they were attacked? Even generals and admirals are mere high-ranking servants to the MOGW.

    The 9-11 attacks were not another Pearl Harbor, but another Little Big Horn–a freakish victory by the technologically inferior side over the technologically superior side, due to incompetent leadership on the technologically superior side. One of my nicknames for Dubya was “President Custer”.

    Thanks a f**king heap, Supreme Court Five, and all of the stupid white people who voted for Reagan and the Bushes. You vacuum-skulled knuckle-walkers make me want to paint myself green or purple or something, so I don’t have to admit to being white, lest I be mistaken for one of you.

    As for you, Asterisk, do please continue prophesying the doom of the Wicked Woodpecker; you’re just so kawaii when your face turns purple and steam comes out of your ears. 😈

  23. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Such tactics will be “effective” only if they actually force the MOGW to quit trying to dominate the traditionally Islamic regions of the world for profit. Has that happened yet?

    As long as the free-lance ISIS sympathizers/losers throwing lethal tantrums because they can’t get laid (you say to-MAY-to, I say to-MAH-to) only kill the slaves of the MOGW, the MOGW will continue their depredations. Again, the MOGW have plenty of slaves. Will the MOGW run out of slaves before ISIS runs out of recruits and sympathizers?

    If the slaves become angry, they will become angry at ISIS and its sympathizers. The MOGW-owned media will see to that.

  24. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Sowwies, Ian; I keep having afterthoughts.

    It’s almost as if their terrorism is actually about the authoritarian Islamic rule they keep telling us it’s about, rather than the theories American lefty theoreticians keep telling us it’s about.

    Yeah, weird, isn’t it? It’s almost as if, why, there are no good guys, because all the combatants on all sides belong to the same species, saddled with a constellation of nasty traits which were necessary to survive in a nasty biosphere (one of that species’ major religions calls that constellation “Original Sin”, IIRC)–so that all conflicts between tribes and other factions of that species are just conflicts between different degrees and flavors of evil. Hmmm…

  25. Le temps des Cerises

    “Le temps des Cerises” is a very famous French song that was popular in the Paris Commune, and became a revolutionary song.

    Thank you for your serious answer, IBW. I consider it an unsatisfactory one, but that is because I still dream of a world better than this one. I am not satisfied with merely accepting the lesser of two evils, with living with the devil I know. Perhaps one day I will think like you and see the folly of the idealism I hold now, but your way of thinking seems far too much like resignation. It asserts that we cannot really improve ourselves. It also seems to me for all the world like an excuse for sitting back and doing nothing.

    Moreover, it seems to me that according to your line of reasoning, we should all commit suicide right now. If there is nothing that can be done, as you assert, then what is the point of carrying on? Better, as the Greeks said, to have never been born at all.

  26. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Cherry, my animal self-preservation drive remains too strong for me to consider “the sport of chumps, suicide”, as Frank Zappa called it.

    Camus said that the only truly serious question was whether to kill yourself or not; Yotsuba-chan speaks for me.

    Besides, the Proprietor of the afterlife is said to disapprove strongly of checking oneself in early, to the point where doing so might lead to a reduced quality of accomodations.

  27. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    I don’t need hope to continue trying to survive.

    I am a talking ape, genetically programmed by millennia of evolutionary pressures to seek to preserve my life as long as possible. That is enough for me.

    I suspect I would shun suicide, even if I were convinced that there was no afterlife–I was an agnostic for roughly nine years, and I don’t recall ever giving serious thought to suicide even then.

  28. nobody

    I’m Charlie, and fucking proud of it. To borrow some sentences from Justin E. H. Smith:

    I have cringed over the past few months every time someone, in false presumption of agreement with me, has cited that apocryphal quotation from Voltaire about defending to the death your right to say what you say, while hating what you say. I’m not defending Charlie Hebdo’s right to exist; I’m defending Charlie Hebdo. I’ve been thinking about this in relation to what I read some years ago from Arthur Danto in The Nation, back during the hubbub about Serrano’s Piss Christ. He didn’t say: I understand why people are upset, but we need to defend the right of artists to… etc. He said: With the stunning golden light filtering over the cross, Serrano pays homage to, and joins, the great crucifix painters in the history of art. Danto looks at the Mapplethorpe triptych of a man ejaculating in another’s mouth, and says: What a profound examination of the theme of communion! In parallel fashion, I want to shift the discussion of Charlie Hebdo away from ‘offense’, and towards a greater awareness and appreciation of the venerable tradition of satire. The magazine has a mixed record; Charb in particular, of a younger generation and from a different world than the original équipe, had an unhealthy preoccupation with radical Islamism, and got caught up in a sort of flame war with the Islamists that eventually cost his colleagues their lives. By contrast the body of Wolinski’s work, I believe, shines with humanity and sensitivity: virtues that are rooted in his experience as a Jew in France in the ’68 era, and for which he was assassinated. Honestly, I read Wolinski and I do not think of the Front National. I think of Gargantua, and the Decameron, and Don Quixote: works that face up to the absurdity, fragility, and grotesquerie of human existence and of social life, rather than trying to screen these out, as authoritarians do. I’m an anti-authoritarian, and in this I take myself to be defending a particular strain of leftist politics. I think by contrast that the dominant strain of leftist politics at present, at least in the anglophone world, is frighteningly authoritarian, and deeply misguided.

    And again:

    I think this is precisely what happened…: some old ‘68ers got knocked off—let us not forget, along with some Jews—and the conservatives and neo-Stalinists alike were happy enough to see them go. So now, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the early Soviet avant-garde and Diogenes the Cynic and Rabelais and the Vienna Actionists, and sundry old hippies and libertine goats, and Art Spiegelman and R. Crumb and Joan Didion (who is at home in the space of moral ambiguity) and Susan Sontag (“What do we have from the past? Art and thought. That’s what lasts.”), and the Arab storytellers who told the raunchy stories that became the Decameron that planted the seed of European humanism versus ISIS and the National Front and Andrei Zhdanov and sotsrealizm and the Vatican and Putin and the online social justice warriors and the North American academic self-styled progressives who are bending over backwards to see the murder of some old cartoonists as anything other than a serious blow by the forces of illiberalism, literal-mindedness, and dogma against subtlety, doubt, imagination, playfulness, and, yes, freedom.

  29. Blissex

    «Every single person killed or harmed by ISIS is the responsibility of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, along with the governments and militaries who backed them»

    That is ascribing too much power to those people. And there is a big difference between direct responsibility, that of the people who directly order and carry out the killings, and those who might have indirectly contributed.

    «Causality is important when dealing with ethics»

    Either you believe comes primarily from individual free will, or you believe in “objective” responsibility or even “collective” responsibility, which are typically totalitarian positions.

    Magnifying the responsibility of those who merely contributed indirectly to an action not only absolves the those who actually committed the action, but creates absurd chains; for example the massacres of WW2 could then be called the original responsibility of the UK and French governments of 1918-1919, and JM Keynes even warned them of the «economic consequences of the peace» they were about to create. Without a peace of that type there would have been no Weimar and no far right reactions.

    PS some people have also noticed that there are no blood stains on the truck that pulped 84 people.

  30. Lisa

    Looking more and more like Orlando or many other mass killings, a very troubled person snaps, picks a target and kills a lot of people.

    Naturally others will use it for their own political purposes, both Govt and terrorists.

    ‘Why France’, someone asked? Well compared to the US France (or anywhere else ) has had very few mass killings. But as French and other societies crumble and shatter due to unrelenting economic and social pressures they will catch up. Basically as other countries become more US like in economic and societal terms they will suffer more US like mass killings, moderated only by access to mass killing tools.

    Much better gun control has kept many countries relatively free from the insane levels of the US, but tragically as Nice shows …you don’t need a gun to kill a lot of people.

    Normally without the ‘human killer’ types of guns (automatics, assault rifles, etc ) people like this only kill at most a very few and disappear into the normal murder statistics. Give them the tools then they kill more. But they happen all the time. Someone, nearly always a male, usually with some sort of mental health and perhaps criminal history, their lives a mess, snaps.

    Looking at it ‘big picture’ these are the flip side of the increasing death rates in mostly poorer males (unusually in the US females as well) we are starting to see (US leading of course) a slow repeat of what happened in the collapse of the USSR. Some of those will decide to take others with them rather than just shuffle off quietly.

  31. highrpm

    “I don’t recall ever giving serious thought to suicide even then.”

    your quaint/ lame quips show you haven’t given the subject much serious thought.

    and its a serious issue. to be treated with respect, not the MSM – driven adolescent knee jerk dribble “oh, he’s so selfish” .

    for anyone who’s interested, arthur silber’s written some good musings on suicide. psychic pain is as real as neuropathic and cellular inflammation. don’t slight it.

  32. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    If it be a crime or a sin to lack sympathy for losers who decide to “prove their manhood” by committing massacres, and then killing themselves (either directly or “suicide by cop”), I cheerfully plead guilty. I prefer to save my sympathy for their victims.

    As for people who only kill themselves, those matters lie between each such individual and the Proprietor of the afterlife. S/He knows their pain–and/or brain disorders–better than I do; if S/He chooses to forgive them, well and good.

    I simply don’t think I have ever suffered enough to have an excuse to self-destruct.

  33. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    Now, if we’re talking about someone who is terminally ill and/or suffering intractable pain, I don’t think the Proprietor, or anyone else, would blame that unfortunate soul.

    However, much “intractable” pain would become tractable if doctors did not need to be afraid of being stripped of their licenses and/or prosecuted for prescribing painkillers which are actually strong enough to kill the pain. [The stupid and evil War On (some) Drugs strikes again.]

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