Nasser and Sadat in the eyes of Kissinger

Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 1/23/2014

From Henry A. Kissinger's Years of Upheaval:
On May 16, Nasser withdrew recognition from the government of Chiang Kai-shek, and established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. This was a direct rebuke to the United States but especially to Dulles, who was deeply committed to Taiwan. In June, the new Soviet Foreign Minister, Dmitri Shepilov, came to Egypt with a Soviet offer to both finance and build the Aswan Dam, enabling Nasser to engage in his favorite pastime of playing the superpowers off against each other.
Sadat was determined to end Nasser’s legacy. He would reestablish relations with the United States as quickly as possible and, once that was accomplished, he would move to friendship. Formal diplomatic relations required some pretext, however, before the Egyptian public and his Arab brethren would understand the steps. He would wait for some tangible diplomatic success. But the delay was purely tactical and connected largely with inter-Arab politics; it was not intended as blackmail. He was prepared to announce his intentions immediately — upon the conclusion of our meeting, in fact.

Tractatus Translations

Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 1/23/2014

The German expression ‘Tatsachen’ is rendered in both translations as ‘facts’, but the German expression ‘Sachverhaltes’ is translated in Ogden as ‘atomic facts’ and in the Pears and McGinnis as ‘states of affairs’. The philosophical cash value of the different treatments of ‘Sachverhaltes’ is that since atomic facts seem to be a subclass of facts, and since facts (whatever is the case) are of the actual world, Sachverhaltes are also of the actual world. This suggests that Wittgenstein’s ontology encompasses only what is actual and does not include merely possible facts. By rendering ‘Sachverhaltes’ as ‘states of affairs’, the Pears and McGinnis translation accommodates an understanding of Tractarian metaphysics according to which there are merely possible worlds, i.e. worlds composed of states of affairs, which are merely possible facts.

One complication is that Wittgenstein frequently talks of the existence and nonexistence (Bestehen and Nichtbestehen) of Sachverhalten. For example, 2.06 Das Bestehen und Nichtbestehen von Sachverhalten ist die Wirklichkeit. (Das Bestehen von Sachverhalten nennen wir also eine positive, das Nichtbestehen eine negative Tatsache) We may follow Black (1964, p. 39) and render Bestehen and Nichtbestehen in this context as the holding and non-holding states of affairs. Against the Ogden translation, it is natural to regard a “fact that doesn’t exist or doesn’t hold” as no fact at all.

The Art of War

Posted by Ali Reda | Posted in | Posted on 1/03/2014


All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him. Hiding order beneath the cloak of disorder is simply a question of subdivision; concealing courage under a show of timidity presupposes a fund of latent energy;masking strength with weakness is to be effected by tactical dispositions. Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. By altering his arrangements and changing his plans,he keeps the enemy without definite knowledge. By shifting his camp and taking circuitous routes, he prevents the enemy from anticipating his purpose.

Play your opponent

If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. Rouse him, and learn the principle of his activity or inactivity. Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots. A clever general, therefore, avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return. This is the art of studying moods. When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.

How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy's own tactics—that is what the multitude cannot comprehend. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven- born captain. Therefore the good fighter will be terrible in his onset, and prompt in his decision.

Calculation of all outcomes

Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory. Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is FOREKNOWLEDGE. In respect of military method, we have, firstly, Measurement; secondly, Estimation of quantity; thirdly, Calculation; fourthly, Balancing of chances; fifthly, Victory. Hence in the wise leader's plans, considerations of advantage and of disadvantage will be blended together. The skillful tactician may be likened to the SHUAI-JAN. Now the SHUAI-JAN is a snake that is found in the Ch`ang mountains.Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both.

Choose the right moment for you

He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are. Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy. Therefore the clever combatant imposes his will on the enemy, but does not allow the enemy's will to be imposed on him.  Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.

Attack Preparations

If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected. Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength, from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us. If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch. All we need do is attack some other place that he will be obliged to relieve.

The Supreme General

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting. Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy's troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.