a blog full of magic

Vanunu and Snowden

Here is an interesting piece in The Guardian that argues for parallels between Edward Snowden (and Daniel Ellsberg) and Mordechai Vanunu. The article also links to some related, previous pieces.

While it seems to me that disclosing the existence of nuclear weapons facilities is almost certainly morally justified, it’s not obvious to me that the Snowden/Vanunu cases are strictly parallel. There is a clear violation of what many people intuitively take to be their privacy rights in the Snowden disclosures. But it’s not as clear in what way the existence of nuclear weapons facilities violates anyone’s rights per se (especially, say, the rights of the British, to whom the details were initially revealed). That being said, the act of disclosing the existence of nuclear weapons facilities is nevertheless almost certainly morally justified, because human beings should generally be aware of salient threats to their existence, and states that radically elevate those threats should, at the very least, be subject to public scrutiny; this principle is not exclusive to Israel, of course.

Speaking of Israel, however, one might think that another potential consequence of revealing nuclear weapons facilities is that it could make Israelis safer – I wonder, but don’t have enough interest to Google, whether anyone has examined this connection in the Vanunu case.

Strangelove: …Yes, but the… whole point of the doomsday machine… is lost… if you keep it a secret! Why didn’t you tell the world, eh?
DeSadeski: It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises.

Hypocrisy about tyranny

Great headline from Greenwald at The Intercept, here.

Putin/Crimea and Reagan/Granada

Here is an article comparing Putin’s reasons for invading Crimea to Reagan’s reasons for invading Granada.

Carter on pardoning Snowden


Greenwald on a past – and future – case study in Democratic hypocrisy

Here. The past case is Democratic support for the Obama administration’s decision to release photos of abuse against Iraqi and Afghani detainees, followed by Democratic support for the Obama administration’s subsequent decision not to release photos of abuse against Iraqi and Afghani detainees. The future – and soon to occur - case is Democratic support for the Obama administration’s decision to bulk-collect American metadata, which will be followed by Democratic support for the Obama administration’s (currently reported) subsequent decision not to bulk-collect American metadata.

UPDATE: This isn’t really an update, but it’s related. Here is a brief two minute clip of Jimmy Carter talking about the NSA, and his support for reform.

Philosophy limericks

Here, from a fellow graduate student.

Searle on his contemporaries

What do you do differently from the everyday person? Do you get up early and read texts by ancient philosophers?

John Searle: I don’t watch television very much … I think it is clear that the media have had an enormous effect on our sensibility. It’s very hard to know what the long-term effect of this is, but I think there’s no question that we’re getting an impoverished sensibility as a result of overexposure to electronic media. I don’t read much philosophy, it upsets me when I read the nonsense written by my contemporaries, the theory of extended mind makes me want to throw up … so mostly I read works of fiction and history. I love reading history books and I love reading works of fiction, there’s just an enormous amount of great stuff written.

The rest of the interview is here. H/T Brian Leiter.

Mobsters, foreign policy, and eternal damnation

Suppose you accepted both this thesis and this thesis?

Amnesty International wonders…

whether Obama will ask the Saudi government about women’s rights.

Does Israel recognize Israel as a Jewish state?

Some commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute over the “Jewish state” here. The title of my post was inspired by this paragraph:

Even Israel has not officially defined itself as a Jewish state. Lawmakers have proposed bills over the past three years to define Israel’s nature as a Jewish state, including how that applies to the 20 percent Arab minority. However, wide disagreement on the issue prevented any of the bills from becoming law.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.