U.S. News and World Report
Originally published 07/08/2013
Louis René Beres is a professor of Political Science at Purdue UniversityAll of America's national security strategy on counterterrorism is based, in part, on a single core assumption: that our terrorist enemies are plainly and uniformly "abnormal." Significantly, however, such presumptively stark polarities between normal and abnormal, good and evil, represent a debilitating caricature. In order to better understand and combat these enemies, we must first learn to acknowledge that even "normal" individuals can sometimes do us great harm.What does this mean? By definition, at least, psychopathology and normalcy would appear to be mutually exclusive. Yet some of our most insightful thinkers have reasoned otherwise. In these examples, they have willingly looked beyond the seductive veneers of orthodox psychological investigation.Sigmund Freud wrote about the "Psychopathology of Everyday Life" (1914) while tracing some intriguing connections between "the abnormal" and "the normal," and was genuinely surprised to learn just how faint the line of demarcation could be. More precisely, in exploring parapraxes, or slips of the tongue, a phenomenon that we now conventionally call "Freudian slips," he concluded that certain psychopathologic traits could occasionally be discovered in normal persons....
Originally published 06/25/2013
Louis Rene Beres is a professor of International Law at Purdue University. Born in Zurich, Switzerland at the end of World War II, he is the author of many major books and articles dealing with world politics, law, literature, and philosophy.From the beginning, the state of nations has been the state of nature. Always, states and empires are poised for war. Normally, in order to secure themselves within this condition of protracted peril, they have fashioned assorted written agreements under international law. These formal codifications, expressed as treaties, have sought to smooth over the dreadfully harsh realities of anarchic world politics.Still, on a fragmenting planet, law insistently follows power politics. Throughout history, more or less grievous problems have arisen whenever particular signatories had determined that lawful compliance is no longer in the "national interest." The overriding takeaway here is that treaties can be useful whenever there is a conspicuous mutuality of interest, but they can also become worthless whenever such mutuality is expected to disappear.
Originally published 04/23/2013
Louis Rene Beres is a professor of International Law at Purdue University. Born in Zurich, Switzerland at the end of World War II, he is the author of many major books and articles dealing with world politics, law, literature, and philosophy.Where there were great military actions, there lies whitening now the jawbone of an ass.–Saint-John PerseI am in Vietnam, wondering just how any U.S. president could ever have imagined a purposeful American war in this part of the world. My considerable wonderment has as much to do with the obvious vacancy of 1960s and 1970s-era conceptual justifications (Vietnam as a threatened "domino" was the preferred metaphor) as with patently overwhelming operational difficulties. Notwithstanding the carefully cultivated and contrived images of an indispensable conflict, this was a war that never had a single defensible raison d'etre, and that never displayed any conceivable way of being won.Never.Lately, it was Iraq, although now already officially ended, at least for us. In Afghanistan, a war is still ongoing, even for us. Allegedly, at least for us, the Afghan war will soon be over. For the Afghans, however, it will be status quo ante bellum.At best.
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