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Total number of comments: 1324 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:38)

Bill

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  • Rep. Steve King, White People and 'Civilization'
    • "The internal colonialism of the Americas, pre-Columbus, was no less thorough than in Europe. "

      The Aztecs (known as the "Mejica") were no less imperialists than were the Spanish. They conquered surrounding groups, exacted tribute, slaves, and sacrificial subjects. Cortez conquered the Aztecs with the assistance of some 30,000 Tlaxcalan and Totonac warriors who were happy to throw off Aztec dominance.

      The Apache and Navajo both arrived relatively late in the Southwestern U.S., arriving in the 14th and 15th centuries. Migrating from Canada, they proved hostile to the Pueblo Indians who had dwelt in the area for centuries, mounting raids, stealing, and killing.

      And the Plains Indians had a long history of hostilities among themselves. Imperialism and dominance over conquered peoples is not a phenomenon unique to Europeans.

    • " Stop trying to impose moral equivalence on America’s lopsided history of injustice."

      No one is "imposing moral equivalence on America's lopsided history of injustice." The question revolves around the invented categories of color and race, something Professor Cole pointed out and anthropologists have known for decades. Pierce is indeed just as guilty of using such invented categories to support his opinion as King is in support of his. Invented categories are invented categories, period.

    • "There are lots of basic things wrong with King’s statement, even just starting with his category of ‘whiteness’. Whiteness is not ‘natural’– it is an invented category."

      Your observation about "whiteness" being an invented category is spot-on, Professor Cole. But if it was wrong for King to use it in his statement, it was equally wrong for Esquire's Charlie Pierce to use it in his statement quoted below.

      “If you’re really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, its public face,” Pierce said. “That hall is wired,” he continued. “That hall is wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

      Pierce is just as guilty of using color and racial categories in support of his opinions as King is in support of his.

  • Nice, France, Attack: A Gandhian Response to Serial Killers
    • Your statement that the U.S. has never established a democracy is what is counterfactual. The U.S. occupation of Japan and the Joint U.S.-British-French occupation of Germany led to firmly established democracies in those countries. More recently, the U.S. led the effort to create an independent Kosovo. And the present-day democracies in Central and Eastern Europe were largely the result of the U.S. and the West applying the Containment policy against the Soviet Union, which had them under its totalitarian hegemony.

      China is most definitely asserting its illegitimate adventurism in both the South China and East China Seas. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague just found China in breach of international law in a case brought forth by the Philippines. China's claim with their "nine-dash ling" encompassing practically the whole South China Sea has no basis in history or international law and has practically all of Maritime Southeast Asia welcoming continued U.S. presence.

      Of course there are disagreements within NATO from time to time, but the 28 members of NATO have held steadfast since 1949, a remarkable period of time. The U.S. didn't "buy" NATO members off; they willingly participate.

      You would do well to steep yourself in a little history and not automatically fall for the knee-jerk anti-U.S. screed. The U.S. has made mistakes, but just imagine what the world would be like had the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or Maoist China been the hegemonic power for the last 70 years. I guarantee that you would not have survived writing your screed above without suffering prison or worse.

    • "left the US the most despised and anti-democratic nation in the world’s history."

      The above statement is not only irresponsible, it represents ahistorical hyperbole. Those who know something about history could easily satirize it by comparing the "most despised and anti-democratic" U.S. with history's paragons of virtuous love and democracy: Medici Florence, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Stalinist Soviet Union, communist Eastern European tyrannies, China under Mao, North Korea, and others throughout history.

      Moreover, I doubt you could convince many present-day countries that the U.S. is "the most despised and anti-democratic nation in the world's history." Certainly the 27 European and Canadian members of NATO who have chosen to ally themselves with the U.S. do not think so. Nor do the countries of Southeast Asia--Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and the Philippines--who want the U.S. presence in their waters to offset Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea.

      Nor do Japan and South Korea, who have longstanding alliances and friendly relations with the U.S., and who appreciate the U.S. shield protecting them from North Korean and Chinese adventurism.

      But of course all of the aforementioned countries have an understanding of history. Moreover, they understand that the U.S. has provided balance and protection for a world order that since 1945 has provided for increased trade, freedom of navigation, economic benefits, and relatively free societies within most of them. Not a bad record, on balance.

    • "And give John Kerry the backing and the resources to bring the Syrian civil war to an end."

      John Kerry, even with backing and resources, is in no position to bring the Syrian civil war to an end. Bashar al-Asad is in a relatively strong position vis-a-vis the various rebels (a few legitimate, most salafists or worse). Moreover, Russia is in the driver's seat and has been since Obama and Kerry abdicated any real American role and the Russians stepped in.

      Kerry's mission to Putin and Lavrov (executed much as a supplicant) with a plan to share intelligence and coordinate air strikes will suit Putin as long as it knocks out al-Asad's opponents. But don't expect anything that impinges on Russia's interests, such as bringing al-Asad to the table to negotiate his own demise. What's more, I don't know why it would be in the U.S. interest to get rid of al-Asad, given the strong possibility of the chaos or worse that likely would follow. Do we want another Libya? Iraq? Yemen?

  • Is Iran winning their Mideast Cold War with Saudi Arabia?
    • That there are certain Iranian officials and entities on the U.S. sanctions list does not prevent European banks from engaging with Iran. All major banks, European or otherwise, have legal departments to work on such matters. The fact is, with the sanctioned exceptions, European banks are free to deal with Iran.

      Regarding displeasure in Iran as a result of economic improvements, that is primarily a result of Iran's own internal politics and internecine fighting among various factions. Foreign investors are reluctant to put large amounts of money into a country with as much uncertainty as Iran exhibits.

      To name just two: Iran does not have a great reputation for courts enforcing contracts in cases involving foreign entities. Likewise, Iran (primarily via the Revolutionary Guards) has a history of holding and imprisoning foreigners without reason. Neither of these likely instills confidence in foreign investors to put both funds and personnel at risk.

    • Please describe how the US is preventing European banks from dealing with Iran. The British newspaper "The guardian" reports, "Iranian banks will soon re-establish connections with the European financial system, and private firms can now pursue business opportunities without fear of western punishment." How is the US, as you state, "stopping European banks from dealing with Iran."? Please provide evidence for your assertion.

  • Obama to Send 4000 US Troops to Bolster NATO Force Against Russia 'Aggression'
    • Poland and the Baltic states are members of NATO, a defensive alliance, and they have requested a greater NATO presence in their countries to counter the Russian buildup along their borders.

      The last time I checked, Mexico and Canada are on friendly terms with the United States, have a trade agreement (NAFTA) with the United States, and have no need for a defensive alliance with Russia or China. Thus, no need for Russia or China to "contain" the United States along the Mexican and Canadian borders.

      Yours is a false equivalency that bears no relationship to reality.

    • Poland did not begin the actual fighting. Between August 26 and August 30, 1939, on Hitler's orders three million men, 400,000 horses, 200,000 vehicles, and 5,000 trains advanced toward the Polish frontier. On August 30, Hitler gave the attack order.

      At 8:00 PM on the evening of August 31, there occurred the German-engineered event that you refer to, which had nothing to do with the Poles but provided the pretext for the German invasion. Sturmbannfuhrer Alfred Naujocks of the German Sicherheitsdienst (security service) led a party dressed in Polish uniforms, including a dozen convicted criminals, in a mock assault on the German radio station at Gleiwitz in Upper Silesia.

      Shots were fired, Polish patriotic slogans were broadcast, the "attackers" withdrew, and SS machine gunners then killed the convicts. Their bodies were displayed in Polish uniforms as "evidence" of Polish aggression. With this pretext in hand, the German invasion of Poland began on September 1.

      This German "assault" on the radio station in Polish uniforms has long been known as the "fig leaf" that served as the flimsy pretext for the German invasion.

    • You might not be so glib in your condemnation of the U.S. and NATO reinforcing their presence in Poland and the Baltic states if you bothered to review a little history. Poland and the Baltic states are requesting a greater NATO presence because they, unlike you, have not forgotten that history.

      Under the terms of the Secret Protocols of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Agression Pact, signed August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland between them, and the independent Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were ceded to Russia. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded and occupied its assigned portion of Poland. On September 17, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east and occupied its portion, thus wiping Poland off the map.

      In early August 1940, the Soviet Union, under the terms of the Secret Protocol, incorporated Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as constituent republics of the Soviet Union. Like Poland, the Baltics lost their independence.

      It has been a history of Russian aggression against Poland and the Baltic states, coupled with a large Russian buildup along their borders today, that has driven the increased NATO presence. The U.S. and NATO response is a perfectly legitimate defensive measure in light of the history of Russian aggression.

  • H. Clinton and Ed Snowden: Some Animals are more Equal than others
    • Her misuse and violations of State Department regulations regarding E-mail use was vastly greater than those of her predecessors, i.e., former Secretaries of State. None of her predecessors had their own personal servers in the basement of their residence. Magnitudes greater.

    • The subject is your suggestion that Bush committed treason. I suggest you better inform yourself by looking up Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution.

    • If you think the Bush Administration was guilty of treason, I suggest you read the Constitution and its definition of treason, as you don't appear to know what it is. Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. Whatever the Bush Administration is guilty of, it is not treason.

    • I have my facts. Had you read my comment more carefully you would have noted that I didn't say what she may have done is a crime. I wrote, "Her misuse and violations of State Department regulations regarding E-mail use was vastly greater than those of her predecessors, i.e., former Secretaries of State.

    • "Did he give anything to Putin that he did not give to the American Public?"

      He didn't have to. By ensuring the release of the highly classified information via the media, Snowden ensured that Putin, China, and every terrorist organization working against us had the information, now in the public domain, and could alter their communications to avoid NSA capturing it.

    • While other Secretaries of State occasionally used their private E-mail accounts to conduct State Department business, Hillary Clinton's use was magnitudes greater. Unlike other Secretaries who occasionally used their private accounts, Secretary Clinton actually had her own server installed in the basement of her residence and used it as her primary conduit for State Department E-mails. Her misuse and violations of State Department regulations regarding E-mail use was vastly greater than those of her predecessors.

    • Hillary Clinton did not accuse Snowden of "being careless" with government information. As you note in your piece, Clinton stated, “He broke the laws of the United States . . . He stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands. So I don’t think he should be brought home without facing the music.”

      Moreover, the statement that, "she should have the decency to admit that she put persons of conscience like Snowden in a position where they had to risk their lives to let Americans know that the National Security State had repealed the Constitution." way overstates the danger Snowden faced. He hardly "risked his life" by taking highly classified information and handing it over to the media for public dissemination.

      There is no equivalency between Clinton's and Snowden's respective actions regarding classified information. While Clinton certainly was wrong in setting up a private E-mail server that sent and received classified information, she did not intentionally release classified information for public dissemination. Snowden, on the other hand, was not "careless" in his handling of classified information. He deliberately passed classified information to media elements with the intention that it be made public.

  • Buddhist Mob Burns Down a Muslim Mosque in Myanmar Village
    • What is particularly disgraceful is Aung San Suu Kyi's response to Buddhist attacks on Burmese Muslims which is...to do nothing. A Nobel Peace Laureate who spent 15 years under house arrest, now that she heads the ruling party as State Counselor, her moral courage has abandoned her. In May she even advised the US Ambassador to cease calling the Muslims in Rakine State Rohingya. She, like the Buddhist attackers, consider them Bengaiis who belong in Bangladesh. She really has blotted her copy book on this issue.

  • Putin's Winning Hand in Syria, as Turkey Apologizes and Obama Deals
    • "Whatever al-Asad may be, and no doubt he is pretty bad (and damned by us as he is not “Our SOB” any longer)"

      Bashar al-Asad was never "Our SOB." For 45 years, under Hafez al-Asad and his son Bashar, Syria has been first a Soviet then a Russian client state. Frankly, the U.S. managed our interests in the Near East without much difficulty from Syria under al-Asad rule. Syria was never a friend of the U.S., but it didn't strenuously oppose our pursuit of wider interests in the region either. But, to be sure, the al-Asad family was never "Our SOB."

  • Are ISIL's attacks the desperation of a Cornered Rat? The Kerry-McCaul Debate
    • Or we could go further back to the Barbary pirates, along the North African coast, and their trade in European slaves dating between the 17th to the late 18th century.

    • "As long as the causes of terrorism (i.e., regime change, invasion, occupation, assassination, drone wars, missile strikes, etc.) remain unaddressed"

      Islamic terrorism predates all of your "causes" cited above.

      Some examples:

      A. The 1993 bombing in the garage of the World Trade Center. And the blind sheik behind it.

      B. The plot broken up in 1996 to bomb six trans-Pacific airliners.

      C. The 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

      D. The bomb-laden boat that exploded and damaged the USS Cole in Yemen.

      There are others too numerous to mention, but all predate the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the U.S. and Western response to terrorism.

  • How can Americans prevent an Israeli-Iranian War? Dump the Squatter Settlers
    • Mr. Buonomo may consider himself a "Geopolitical Risk Analyst with expertise in Middle East Affairs," but he offers up pretty thin gruel, both in his analysis and in his prescription.

      First, Mr. Buonomo states, "...Iran continues to expand its military presence in Syria and Lebanon in pursuit of its decades-long goal of annihilating the state of Israel." Iran uses proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and others to maintain and expand influence in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. In spite of Iran's occasional rhetoric, however, Iran's goal is not "annihilating the state of Israel," as Mr. Buonomo suggests. Iran seeks a hegemonic role in the Near East.

      Iran knows Israel possesses nuclear weapons. Iran also knows that if Israel faced an existential crisis the United States would come to its defense. In spite of Its belligerent language, Iran's leadership is not about to risk destruction of the Islamic Republic by engaging in war with Israel.

      Mr. Buonomo's prescription, that Americans must "hold US legislators accountable for their unconditional support for Israel and voting out of office those who continue to enable its expansionist policies"; that "If Americans took a strong moral stand on this issue, it would demonstrate to Iranian officials that a serious constituency for peace exists in the US and it would enable Iranian advocates for peace to implore Iran’s foreign policy decision-makers to moderate Iran’s policy toward Israel, which has for the last 35 years has been unconditionally hostile," completely misunderstands both the American political system and Iran's leadership.

      The idea of "voting out of office" American politicians who support Israel and its settlement policy is a complete non-starter. It is hardly worth putting forward as a proposal. And the idea that Americans taking a "strong moral stand" on this issue would have any effect at all on Iranian officials is naive beyond belief.

  • The Greater Middle East Reacts to British Exit from EU
    • "One of the major reasons Britons voted out was because of fear of migration, especially non-European and Muslim migrants."

      The above-cited quote is simply not true. The over-riding anti-immigrant element of the "Brexit" was against those immigrants from EU countries taking advantage of "free movement" within the EU, primarily Poles, Bulgarians, Rumanians, Hungarians, etc. Non-Europeans, including Muslims, who are not citizens of a member of the EU had no right to immigrate to Britain.

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    • South Carolina and the South seceded from the Union primarily over the question of whether or not slavery was to be extended into the territories and new states. It was over slavery, not race as we understand the issue, and slavery has nothing to do with Britain today. Secondly, the United States was a unified nation-state when the South seceded. Britain and all other members of the EU are separate, unified nation-states who voluntarily formed the EU as an organization, not as a unified nation-state. I see little similarity between the two events.

  • Can we stop the Mediterranean from becoming a Refugee Graveyard?
    • What is or is not "in my book" (to use your phrase) has nothing to do with my comment. The point is there is a very precise, legal definition of "refugee," and if we begin to fudge the definition to include illegal economic migrants and those fleeing generalized violence and poverty by trying to circumvent host nations' legal immigration laws and regulations, we do a grave disservice to those who truly are refugees. You will expand the definition to the point where it has no meaning.

    • This piece repeats a serious misunderstanding of who the people attempting to reach European shores are. To call them all "refugees" just muddles the situation. The term "refugee" has a well-defined, precise definition under international law. In the case of those attempting to reach Europe, as well as those in similar situations in other parts of the world, they are illegal migrants until appropriate authorities determine that they qualify for refugee status.

      The formal, internationally recognized, definition of a refugee is set out in the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees which came into force in 1954. That definition follows below.

      "A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it."

      The definition of "refugee" does not include those who are fleeing generalized violence not directed specifically at them. Nor does it include those who are seeking to reach a destination for a better life, better job, or to escape poverty.

      Many of those attempting to reach Europe, particularly from various African countries, as well as many from Afghanistan and other places, are not refugees. They, understandably are seeking a better life, and their cases will have to be sorted out by appropriate authorities, usually representatives of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees. European countries cannot, and should not, be expected to be the final destination of illegal migrants who are not refugees, and many will no doubt be returned to their home countries. The status of "refugee" should not be diluted; it should be reserved for those who truly meet the definition.

  • Israel approves $18.6 mn in new funding for Squatter settlements in Palestinian West Bank
    • Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, in part: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

      Israel has been in violation of international law from the time the very first settlement was established on the West Bank.

      Moreover, the United States has always considered the settlements illegal, even though it has done nothing to make Israel remove them. On April 21, 1978, Legal Adviser of the Department of State Herbert J. Hansel issued an opinion, on request from Congress, that creating the settlements "is inconsistent with international law," and against Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

      Hansel found that "While Israel may undertake, in the occupied territories, actions necessary to meet its military needs and to provide for orderly government during the occupation, for the reasons indicated above the establishment of the civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law." This opinion, "has neither been revoked or revised", and remains the policy of the United States according to Hansel, The Washington Post, and the Rand Corporation's Palestinian State Study Project. The Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations all publicly characterized the settlements as illegal.

      Too bad little to nothing has been done to force Israel into relinquishing them.

  • Did the FBI Tell Orlando Shooter's ex-Wife Not to reveal He Was Gay to Media?
    • "The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation told the former wife of the Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, Sitora Yusufiy, not to speak of his homosexuality or the fact that she, his family and others believed he was gay, Yusufiy’s current fiance, Marco Dias, told a Brazilian TV channel in an interview."

      The above-cited quote from this piece, concerning the fiance of Mateen's former wife telling a Brazilian TV channel during an interview of a supposed exchange between the former wife and the FBI is a pretty thin reed upon which to make any assumptions. Talk about third-hand sourcing with no evidence!

      The FBI is a very professional law enforcement organization, and I seriously doubt that investigators would tell the former wife to withhold or cover up information she may have had regarding Mateen. This piece represents unprofessional journalism (if one can even call it journalism) at its worst, assuming information from a third-hand source as true without any corroborating evidence.

  • British Trumpism? Anti-Immigrant "Britain First" White Terrorist kills Member of Parliament
    • "In contrast, Liberal politics (in the 19th century sense that includes both US conservatives and liberals of today) believes that universal suffrage can extend the nation to all citizens of all backgrounds. Liberal politics is inclusive, not divisive and hateful. And, Liberal politics holds that things can be improved over time despite momentary setbacks."

      Classic Liberalism (of the 19th century European variety) emphasized not only inclusiveness and expanding the franchise, but also free markets in economics, freedom of religion, and secular government. It was a driving force for modernity and a major reason for Europe's advance over other regions of the world at the time.

  • Obama: Hating on Muslim-Americans makes you an ally of ISIL, & Unamerican
    • It is meaningless because were ISIL to be defeated tomorrow, we would still face the threat of radically-directed or inspired terrorism, either from abroad or at home. President Obama would have us believe that advances against ISIL equate to advances against terrorism. Such religious and ideologically inspired terrorism will not stop with the defeat of ISIL.

      Moreover, as others have pointed out in other threads, just because someone like Mateen was not conversant with all aspects of Islam--Sunni or shia--does not mean there is not a religious component motivating his actions. Many people act without fully understanding the religious principles that in whole or in part justify their actions, in their own minds at least.

      Mateen was clearly a very troubled man, but it would be folly to pawn his actions off as merely being a manifestation of nihilism or homophobia without any religious component driving them.

  • Should President Obama have Apologized to the Victims of Hiroshima?
  • Top 7 ways to tell if Someone is lying about being a 'Salafi Jihadi'
    • I would not rule out Islamic influence as a factor in his killing spree. There is a strong element of homophobia in Islam, and if he had homosexual tendencies, they may have conflicted with his understanding of how forbidden it is under Islam and, therefore, led to a double-bind of self-loathing that led to his egregious act of slaughter of gays.

      Moreover, his father, via Islam, may have influenced him regarding reports from school mates who have stated that at the time of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, he celebrated and cheered right in class as they watched it on TV. He would have been 14 years old, and it is unlikely that his cheering of this horrible event was self-generated. It is much more likely that he had heard his father (or both parents) at home criticize the "infidel" U.S. Why else would he cheer such an event at such a young age?

  • Omar Mateen and Rightwing Homophobia: Hate Crime or Domestic Terrorism?
    • It is too early to suggest in any meaningful way what motivated Mateen. We will know a lot more about his motives and what influenced him when authorities have investigated his computer, cell phone, and other data.

      The right wing and evangelicals are fair game regarding their homophobia. But it is one-sided to just beat up on them, much as they deserve it. There is an equally strident strain of homophobia that runs through Islamic society and culture as well. Muslims should not be exempt from criticism of their own brand of homophobia.

  • Is Tel Aviv Mayor Right that Israel is unique in Occupation & denying Civil Rights?
    • "Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan rebuked Huldai, saying “I want to remind him that there was terrorism here 100 years ago, and in 1929 Jews were murdered [in a massacre in Hebron] and there was no State of Israel."

      Defense Minister Ben-Dahan has a selective view of terrorism and needs to be reminded that there was terrorism in Palestine much later than 1929, when "there was no state of Israel." During the period 1947-1948 Jewish terrorism, led by many of Israel’s founders, including Menachim Begin (a leader of the Irgun Zvai Leumi) and Yitzhak Shamir (a leader of the Stern Gang), as well as others, were willing to shed anyone’s blood who they perceived stood in the way of their goal. They killed Arabs (Deir Yassin) and British officers (the King David Hotel), as well as Count Folke Bernadotte, the UN Representative. Both Begin and Shamir went on to become Prime Ministers of Israel.

  • UN: Return Saudi-led Coalition to ‘List of Shame’ Secretary-General’s De-Listing Opens Door to Political Manipulation
    • "[The United States] is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

      Thus spoke Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in 1821, replying to those who would have the U.S. intervene on behalf of Spain's Latin American colonies fighting for their independence. Not too different from George Kennan's comment quoted above. And still relevant today.

      The U.S. should actively intervene only when our vital national interests are at stake. We accomplish little by intervening when vital national interests are not in play, whether to attempt to overthrow dictators who pose no threat to us (Saddam Hussein, Bashar al Assad, Muammar Ghadaffi) or out of humanitarian impulses (Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo).

      We accomplish nothing by hectoring countries on democracy, human rights, corruption, etc. Countries only sustain a level of political, economic, and social maturity when they reach a certain critical mass consisting of, inter alia, a sizeable middle class, a reasonable standard of living, and a respect for rule-of-law. We cannot do it for them.

  • EU: Israeli Squatter Settlements in Palestine could Lead to all-out War
    • We will just have to agree to disagree on this issue.

    • Alexander's army most certainly was not facing defeat, and it never was defeated. He turned back because his generals decided they had conquered enough and did not want to continue the march. It was not because they feared defeat from an adversary. That is well-documented.

      Iran was never part of the British Empire. Britain had some influence, but Iran was neither a British colony nor was it affected by the Sykes-Picot Agreement you mentioned.

      In light of past history, your observation that the various Arab entities "will mostly get along," is highly problematic. I would suggest it is unwarranted optimism.

    • One further comment regarding your paragraph on "Weapons Technology." Israel has vastly superior weapons technology--ground, air, and sea--than that possessed by its Arab neighbors, as well as by Iran. But more importantly, Israel has the tactical know-how, intelligence capability, deception skills, and over-all ability to use these weapons that is far superior to that of its potential adversaries. There is no reason to believe it will not maintain this lead far into the future.

    • Whether Israel has a long-term future or not is debatable. I suspect it does have a long-term future. Nevertheless, your reasons for doubting Israel's prospects for a long-term future are as debatable as the question itself.

      Regarding "Arab unity," that has about as much likelihood as the secular states of Egypt and Syria did when they unified as the United Arab Republic under Nasser. It didn't take long for them to split and return to their previous status as separate nation-states. Whether or not the Arab states shed their Sykes-Picot frontiers and evolve into a different pattern, there will be too many differences with varying agendas to ever hope for one vast, unified Arab World. In my opinion, Israel has nothing to fear from so-called Arab unity. And what do the Iranians (Persians in your piece) have to do with it? They were in no way affected by the Sykes-Picot Agreement. To think that Arabs and Iranians will unite on any issue long enough to make a historic difference is a mirage.

      Your statement: "Note that in the last 10,000 years of history exactly ZERO military have not suffered complete, humiliating defeat," is refuted by the very history you invoke. The army of Alexander the Great, for example, never "suffered complete, humiliating defeat." Alexander conquered the known world and got as far as crossing the Indus River before turning back. He died in 323 BC in Babylon, and his empire was divided among his officers, eventually consolidating into the Antigonid Dynasty centered on Greece, the Seleucid Empire in Asia, and the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt. Alexander's army, however, never suffered a major defeat.

      The other points you raise are debatable and may or may not come to pass. But my understanding of history suggests one would be ill-advised to place bets on the two you mentioned that I have addressed.

  • Hillary Clinton roasts Donald Trump on Foreign Policy
    • I wish Clinton had spent more time on her foreign policy and less time attacking Trump. She is beginning to sound like Trump, Rubio, and Cruz when they did nothing but attack each other. No point in getting down to Trump's level.

    • The problem with Hillary Clinton's "foreign policy" speech is she spent most of the time roasting Donald Trump. She is beginning to emulate Trump. Instead of detailing her positions on issues, she sounds no better than the three Republican candidates (Trump, Rubio, and Cruz) trashing each other. Sheeeesh!

  • On Memorial Day, US Troops at War with ISIL near Mosul
    • The Korean War was not just a "confrontation against socialism." U.S. involvement was to repel an attack on the South by a Soviet sponsored aggressor, the North. To suggest that the U.S. defense of South Korea was equivalent to the North's Soviet-sponsored attack is to set up a false equivalency.

      MacArthur indeed wanted to cross the Yalu River and take the war to China. That, however, was not U.S. policy. You may recall that MacArthur was recalled and fired by Truman for his insubordination. the upshot is MacArthur's move was the work of a rogue commander. It was not U.S. "imperialist" policy.

      Regarding Vietnam, I stated that it was a misapplication of "containment" and a mistake to get involved. It is wrong, however, to claim the rest of Southeast Asia was not concerned. At the time, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia were very concerned about communism spreading to their countries.

      Moreover, "containment" as a policy was not propaganda in the larger sense. It is in large part what finally led to the demise of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Applied correctly, it worked.

      And Kennan never repudiated his policy of containment. He held to it. If you read Kennan carefully you will note that what he repudiated was the U.S. Government's over-militarization of the policy. He never repudiated the concept itself.

    • The Korean War was initiated by North Korea, under Kim Il Sung, after Stalin gave the green light for the North's attempt to invade and conquer the South. The demarcation line separating North and South Korea was a legitimate frontier, and the United States had every right to defend the South against the North's aggression.

      The Vietnam War was a mistake for sure, but it was not about "colonial exploitation." The U.S. involvement in Vietnam had everything to do with the policy of "containment" of communism. The doctrine of "containment," first enunciated by the diplomat George F. Kennan, was meant to counter Soviet moves at various points that would endanger U.S. interests. Kennan later acknowledged that the U.S. policy exceeded what he intended. Vietnam was a perfect example of a mistaken application of "containment."

  • Modern Mongols: Sunni Arabs outraged at Iran role in Iraqi Gov't Fallujah Campaign
    • Once again you miss my point, Anon. I never stated others were not attempting to engage in hegemony in the Near East. I am well aware of Saudi Arabia's role and ambitions in the region. And as I stated above, the U.S. debacle in Iraq resulted in an open door for Iran's influence in that country.

      If you had read my comments carefully you would have noted that I stated that Iran is an "aspiring" hegemon in the Near East, and that, inter alia, it is using Shiite militias, Heazbollah, and the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force to achieve that hegemony.

      Moreover, Iran is doing just what one would expect a major player in the region to do. Anyone with the slightest understanding of the "Realist" school of international relations would recognize the phenomenon.

    • One further thought on Iran fighting ISIS, it is not a contradiction for Iran to fight ISIS and simultaneously aspire to extend and cement it's hegemony in the Near East. The two activities are not mutually exclusive.

      In fact, it serves Iran's hegemonic aspirations to deter ISIS from becoming the governing authority over large parts of Iraq and Syria. Were ISIS to prevail, it would represent a Sunni roadblock to Iran's regional aspirations. Iran's interests in the region--both aspiring hegemony and fighting ISIS--are in alignment.

    • "As for Iran being a regional hegemon, there is scant evidence to back that position. Iran has not illegally invaded any country in the middle east in recent history. "

      Regional hegemony does not necessarily require illegal invasions of other countries in the region. In Iran's case, as I noted above, Iran is served well in its drive for hegemony by its surrogates operating in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Shiite militias, Hezbollah, and the special forces arm of the Revolutionary Guards known as the "Quds Force" have all been involved in advancing Iran's interests in these countries.

      Hegemony can be achieved via several paths that don't involve "illegal invasions." Sometimes just the threat of power projection is enough, especially when surrogates are operating on the aspiring hegemon's behalf.

    • Long before ISIS became a problem, Iran had extended its influence in Iraq, Syria, and much of Lebanon. It doesn't need to exercise "hard power." It is enough, and it has worked well for Iran, to support elements in all three countries (Shiite militias, Hezbollah, and the like) that advance Iranian interests.

      It is what one would expect of a country like Iran that aspires to be a regional hegemon. Any student of the "realist" school of international relations would recognize the phenomenon. And, yes, our installation of a Shiite Government in Iraq played into Iran's hands.

    • Agreed. But it is equally absurd to think Iran's involvement in Iraq and Syria is anything other than an attempt to extend and cement it's influence in the Near East.

    • Iran's role in backing Shiite militias in Iraq has nothing to do with "culturing and moderating" Sunnis. It has everything to do with extending and cementing Iran's influence in Iraq and the wider Near East.

  • Obama in Hiroshima, Memorial Day and the Iran Deal
    • The United States and Russia have negotiated arms control agreements over the years that have reduced stockpiles on both sides. Reagan and Gorbachev sealed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement in 1987 that rid Europe and the (then) Soviet Union of Intermediate-Range Missiles and warheads.

      In 2010, Obama and Medvedev signed the "New START" treaty that resulted in a 30 percent reduction in deployed warheads and lower caps on deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, submarine-based missile launchers, and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons.

      These negotiations take time, but we are far better off than we were during the Cold War. Were the United States to unilaterally allow its nuclear arsenal to deteriorate and become inactive, Russia (and probably China) would be very much emboldened to be more aggressive in their respective regions. To think otherwise is to ignore history and entertain a fantasy.

    • The idea is to maintain our nuclear arsenal in operational condition unless and until we can get Russia and other nuclear powers to disarm their nuclear forces as well. To allow our nuclear force to deteriorate while potential adversaries maintain operational nuclear forces is to invite intimidation to gain influence (by Russia against our European allies, for example) as a best-case scenario and a potential attack as a worst-case scenario.

  • US Spec Ops Troops on Front Line in Syria with Leftist Kurdish Insignia: AFP
    • U.S. Special Ops Forces are assisting YPG units to target ISIS. They are not targeting Assad. The U.S. backed off making Assad's departure the primary goal a couple of years ago, talk of a negotiated transfer of power notwithstanding.

      Bottom line: From the U.S. point of view, there is no "strategy" for filling the vacancy left by the demise of Assad because Assad's demise is far from imminent.

  • Israel: Netanyahu replies to Officers' charges of Fascism, makes far Right Lieberman their boss
    • "This incident, and the extremist Israeli attacks on Palestinians, so alarmed deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan that he went so far as to liken the “sickening” processes he saw taking place in Israel to Nazi Germany in the 1930s (note: not the 1940s, when the Holocaust took place)."

      Major General Golan did not have to reach back to Nazi Germany in the 1930s for his example. He could just as easily have cited the activities of Jewish terrorist organizations operating in the 1940s in the British Mandate of Palestine.

      Frankly, the Israel of today would be very recognizable and compatible with the vision of many of those fighting for an independent state of Israel in the 1940s.

      It should be noted that the rosy picture of a group of innocent, beleaguered, plucky, Jewish settlers fighting for an independent Israel was always a myth. Just as the Zionist call for “A land without people for a people without land” was a myth foisted upon a world that had little knowledge of the area. Many of the founders of the state of Israel were terrorists, plain and simple. The Sterngang, the Irgun Zvai Leumi, and other entities were certainly terrorist organizations, assassinating both British officers and Arab inhabitants of the British Mandate of Palestine.

      Yitzhak Shamir, a future Prime Minister of Israel, was a member of the Sterngang. Menachim Begin, Another future Prime Minister, was a leader of the Irgun Zvai Leumi. On July 22, 1946, the Irgun carried out the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing several British officers. On September 17, 1948, members of the Sterngang assassinated Count Folke Bernadette, the UN Representative in Palestine. Just five months before the assassination of Count Bernadette, on April 9, 1948, the Irgun massacred some 150 to 250 (the figure has never been satisfactorily confirmed) Arab men, women, and children in the village of Deir Yassin.

      The purpose of the Irgun and Sterngang’s attacks on, and massacres of, Arabs was to create a climate of fear among the population so that they would flee. Some 700,000 Palestinian refugees fled Israel before and after its establishment. Some fled because of Arab broadcasts to leave before the invasion, but many had already fled as a result of Irgun, Sterngang, and other Jewish terrorist acts designed to intimidate them into leaving. It was clearly a form of ethnic cleansing.

  • Trump's Politics of Whiteness and the CIA tip that Jailed Nelson Mandela
    • You correctly note the one colonial possession of the U.S.: The Philippines. That's pretty small beer compared to the European powers carving up Africa, the Near East, and Southeast Asia. And the U.S. granted the Philippines independence in 1946, long before the European powers divested themselves of their imperial/colonial possessions.

      Gary Page is correct. Historically, the U.S. has been anti-colonial.

  • Top 3 Signs Bill Clinton didn't kill himself to "give" the Palestinians a State
    • While there was no doubt an anti-semitic cast to the State Department at the time, that was not the primary reason for the recommendation against recognition of Israel. State Department Near East specialists, almost to a man, advised against American support for a Jewish state on geo-political, national security, and economic grounds.

      Loy Henderson headed up State's Near Eastern Bureau after World War II, and his primary concern was that American support for the Jewish state would turn the Arab population against the United States and open up the Near East to Soviet influence.

      Moreover, American oil companies had broken into the nascent Saudi oil industry in 1933, and by World War II, the extent of Saudi reserves made it a national security priority. In order to placate the Saudi ruler Ibn Saud, the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA) placed an Arabist, William Eddy, in charge of cementing Ibn Saud's confidence in American intentions. Eddy gained Ibn Saud's confidence, even staying in the royal tent on excursions to various tribal areas.

      It all culminated in Secretary of State George C. Marshall's recommendation to President Truman against recognition of Israel. Truman rejected Marshall and the State Department's advice, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    • It has always been a source of wonder how little most people understand of the strong Soviet support for Israel in its establishment and early years of existence. Stalin believed Israel would be a socialist state in the Near East, more aligned with the USSR and its Eastern European satellites than with the West.

      Unwavering U.S. support for Israel really only began after the 1967 Six-Day War. And we should not forget that Eisenhower openly condemned the joint British-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1956.

    • "From Truman to Obama, Israel has been a creation of USA and no amount of posturing can hide it."

      The statement quoted above is simply not true when considering Israel's establishment and the early years of its existence. When Britain decided to give up its Palestinian Mandate, the Soviet Foreign Minister, Andrei Gromyko, announced in May 1947 and again in November, that his country supported the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947 calling for the creation of two states, one Jewish and the other Arab.

      At midnight on May 14, 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel proclaimed the new State. On that same date, the United States, in the person of President Truman, recognized the provisional government as the de facto authority of Israel, but de jure recognition was only extended by the U.S. on January 31, 1949.

      Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was the first state to recognize de jure (on May 17, 1948) the establishment of Israel and its Provisional Government. This was eight months before the U.S. extended de jure recognition.

      Moreover, The Soviet Union, primarily via Czechoslovakia, was a significant arms supplier to Israel in its early years. From May 1947 until 1949, the Soviet Union supplied Israel with tanks and fighter planes which were used against the Arabs in the 1948 war.

      In its early years, Israel received far more support and arms from the Soviet union than it did from the United States. Of course, that all changed later, but it is a part of history that is largely forgotten today.

  • 100th Anniversary: What did the Sykes-Picot Agreement mean for the Middle East?
    • This is a succinct summary of Sykes-Picot and the making of the modern Near East. The only thing I would add (and for some reason Mr. Pascoe omits) is that after Faisal was removed from the Syrian throne, Britain placed him on the Iraqi throne, thus making him King of Iraq.

  • Surges, Mission Creeps & Drones in the Mideast: America's Forever War
    • The point is Mr. Engelhardt failed to mention the Clinton military interventions at all. None involved U.S. national interests. The Somali intervention did not have to morph from a humanitarian mission into "nation-building." The war against Serbia did not have UN imprimatur. There was no UN resolution, which made it just as illegal as Bush's invasion of Iraq.

      And while the air war was "low impact for the U.S., it certainly was not for Serbia. Finally, both the Bosnian intervention and the Serbian war really should have been Europe's to handle, if they felt it was in their interest to do so.

    • Mr. Engelhardt's account of the post-Soviet implosion of 1991 and how the potential "peace dividend" turned into a "war dividend" jumps right to the Bush administration and conveniently omits the Clinton administration's interventions and wars of choice. In December 1992, President George H.W. Bush intervened in Somalia, with UN backing, for the purpose of opening a corridor to get humanitarian goods to the people most needing them. It was President Clinton who turned that strictly humanitarian mission into an effort to topple the Somali Warlord, engage in "nation-building," and subsequently pull out after the "Blackhawk Down" incident.

      In the mid-1990s, President Clinton intervened in The Bosnian crisis. Here was a situation that was in Europe's Southeastern backyard, and the Europeans were paralyzed. the did nothing. Bosnia and its discontents entailed no U.S. interests at all. None. James Baker correctly opined, "We do not have a dog in that fight." Yet Clinton and Secretary of State Albright intervened militarily. It ended with the 1995 Dayton Accords that stopped the fighting but did not create a viable state. Bosnia-Herzegovina today is just as politically and socially fragmented as it was then.

      In 1999, President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright went to war against Serbia. Serbia had been ethnically cleansing and forcing the removal of Kosovar Albanians. Again, this was a European problem. The U.S. had no national interests in Kosovo. None. Yet the U.S. under Clinton waged a 78-day air war against Serbia, bombing Belgrade and inadvertently bombing the Chinese Embassy as well.

      So while there are plenty of reasons to criticize the Bush administration for it's interventions, wars, and misguided attempts at "nation-building" in Iraq and Afghanistan, let's not overlook the Clinton administration's interventions, wars of choice, and failed attempts at "nation-building" that had nothing to do with the U.S. national interest.

  • Is Donald Trump at War with the Republican Party?
    • You appear to have missed my point entirely, Grumpy. My point is that we often criticize the mainstream media (MSM) for "creating" Trump by placing so much focus on him. Yet, we are emulating the MSM by placing just as much focus as the MSM does on everything he does and says.

      My reference to "stones and glass houses" suggested we should be careful in criticizing the MSM for focusing on Trump if we (Informed Comment contributors and readers) are just as guilty of it. The reference had nothing to do with Trump himself, as you seem think.

    • There has been a lot of talk circulating about how the "mainstream media" has created Donald Trump by focusing on him. Yet this piece is the fifth article on Donald Trump to be featured as an Informed Comment piece since May 2. Informed Comment appears to be just as enthralled with Trump as the Mainstream Media. Let's be careful about how we emulate those whom we condemn. Remember stones and glass houses.

  • Sadiq Khan and Trump: Why KKK Donald's values are Unacceptable
    • He is news. That's why they do it. That does not equate to endorsement, tacit or otherwise. It may be difficult for some to understand that distinction, but it is a distinction that must be made.

    • "This bigoted and deceitful person-of-wealth, Donald Trump, is what corporate-controlled media wants us to believe we should elect as our next President."

      I beg to differ. I challenge you to name one major newspaper or media outlet (other than perhaps Fox) that has endorsed Trump. I have not seen one endorse him, but I have seen many question his lack of knowledge and policy prescriptions.

      Please name major media outlets that you have seen endorse trump for President.

  • Sadiq Khan: Is London's first Muslim Mayor the ultimate weapon against Radicalism?
    • The Mayor of London has absolutely no authority to intervene in the Assange case. Sweden's extradition request was granted by the UK High Court, and Assange violated the terms of his bail when he requested asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy. The UK High Court, not the mayor, has full authority to detain Assange should he attempt to leave the Embassy.

  • I Blame the US Media for Donald Trump
    • "I demand that more Republicans de-register as Republicans, as many have been doing since the announcement came through, because your party is now officially backing racism and bigotry. I demand that the U.S. media actually give a fuck, because we can see right through your bullshit. I demand that you take responsibility for the state of this nation because you have allowed the exploitation of Black and brown bodies to result in today’s political landscape."

      If you would actually make a cogent argument supporting your position instead of making shrill demands punctuated by four-letter words, someone might listen to you. As it is, your shrill rant simply serves to emphasize the lack of supporting evidence in your position. Making "demands" is no substitute for a well-reasoned argument.

  • Trumping Terrorism with Torture?
    • You are correct in the long-term strategic sense of winning the war or keeping Algeria. But in the two cases I mentioned, it had value in providing actionable intelligence in the tactical sense of rolling up resistance cells. Of course, it takes much more than that to prevail strategically. And the Germans in France and the French in Algeria were not going to win given the opposition they eventually faced in each case.

      And it has been noted, by Alistair Horne in his book, "A Savage War of Peace," about the Algerian War (among others) that torture did as much damage (psychologically) to the torturers as it did to their victims.

      My point is that, tactically, torture has worked in some cases, and it is dishonest to shut the debate down by saying it never works. Torture should be condemned on moral and ethical grounds, not by shutting off debate.

    • "Torture not only violates the U.S. Constitution – but is of questionable effectiveness."

      There is ample evidence that torture does work. It does not work all the time, and it does not work on all people. But it works often enough to suggest that those who say, “Torture doesn’t work because those undergoing it will say anything,” are simply wrong.

      To cite two examples: There is a great deal of evidence that during World War II the Germans in occupied France tortured captured members of the French resistance and elicited information that often led to the breakup of resistance cells. And during the Battle of Algiers in 1957, both sides have acknowledged that torture resulted in the French capturing Algerian resistance leaders and decapitating FLN cells, and that it was a crucial factor in the French prevailing in that battle.

      This is not an argument in defense of torture, but to cut off all discussion by categorically stating that “torture does not work” is intellectually dishonest and simply wrong. Torture should be banned based on moral and ethical considerations, not by cutting off the debate by denying it can be effective.

  • Al-Qaeda Everywhere: US support for Oppressive Gov't's made Bin Laden's Killing Moot
    • Whatever one thinks of U.S. foreign policy since World War II, the point is that countries lacking the elements of a modern democratic political, economic, and social system will not advance until the critical mass mentioned above is reached. Until that happens and the people demonstrate sufficient social capital and begin to demand a modern democratic society, they will remain mired in their dystopian morass. So-called "nation-building" cannot do it for them.

    • Professor Cole’s post drives home the futility of “nation building.” Underdeveloped countries that lack mature political, economic, and legal institutions are “built” into viable, mature nations only when a certain critical mass within the country is reached that spurs such development. That critical mass includes, but is not necessarily limited to, a standard of living that creates a reasonably-sized middle class; a respect for and trust in the rule of law; and the prospect that individuals can engage in economic pursuits of their choice with the reasonable expectation that contracts will be enforced. All of these act as a catalyst for a country’s population to demand greater political participation and leadership accountability. Without such a critical mass, for outsiders, including the U.S., to engage in "nation-building" is a fool's errand.

      In spite of all the effort put into “nation building” in Iraq and Afghanistan by the United States, we have failed to create viable “nation-states.” The reason is the Iraqis and Afghans lack the elements essential to reaching that critical mass that becomes the catalyst for becoming a modern nation-state with a mature political, economic, and legal system on its own. No amount of money thrown at it; no amount of hectoring on human rights; no amount of building a number of girls’ schools; no amount of police trainers; and no amount of “advisors” in various Ministries are sufficient if the Iraqis and Afghans themselves are not fully engaged and up to snuff, as clearly they are not.

      Regarding counter-insurgency, It is nothing new, and it has nearly always failed. The only truly successful counter-insurgency operation was that spearheaded by the British in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency, an effort that lasted from 1948 to 1960. The Malayan Communist Party was terrorizing both the British and the local Malayan population at the time. The British fielded a combined counter-insurgency force of sufficient numbers to reach the ratio of 50 per 1,000 of the local population. It was not all military. It included intelligence experts, police, and others, as well as British Army personnel.

      Nevertheless, just reaching the ratio of 50-to-1,000 probably is not sufficient in itself. The British were in control of Malaya and governed it, so they could have their way. Additionally, they erected "new villages" and moved much of the population into them in order to deprive the "Communist Terrorists" (as they insurgents were called) of the ability to demand support and "taxes" from the local population. The combination of British counter-insurgency maneuvers and depriving the insurgents of a base of local support resulted in defeat of the insurgents. Nevertheless, the conditions under which the British operated were unique and clearly could not be replicated in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • Trump's Foreign Policy is just GOP Boilerplate, only more Confused
    • "Riiiiiiiiight. If NATO folded and the US Army left Europe then the inevitable consequence of that would be a rush by Russian conventional forces towards the English Channel in order to “handily” subjugate all of Europe?"

      Your desperate attempt (quoted above) to suggest that my reference to the potential Russian threat to very specific countries bordering Russia actually meant subjugation of "all of Europe" is risible and won't wash. If you wish to make the case for dismantling NATO, do so on its perceived merits, not by transparently misstating a position with which you disagree.

    • "Without the use of nuclear weapons NATO could defeat Russia in 20 minutes."

      You could not be more wrong. Last year Rand Corp. war-gamed a Russian invasion of NATO's Baltic members and the NATO response. With its superior numbers of both ground and air forces stationed across the border from the Baltics, the Russian forces overwhelmed NATO forces and occupied those countries.

      Nevertheless, in a backhanded way, you have made the case for a continued NATO presence in Europe binding us in a mutual defense treaty. Putin knows that were he to make such a drastic move, the NATO alliance would consolidate and eventually prevail. Were the NATO alliance to dissolve, there would be nothing to prevent Russia from invading Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, just as it did under Stalin in 1940.

    • Ironically, your entire comment, with your "points" such as they are, point to the reason NATO has been the most successful security alliance in history. It successfully kept the Soviet Union at bay during the period of Containment, and it continues to reinforce security today against potential Russian adventurism in a way that individual European countries, particularly the Baltics, could not. NATO continues to justify its existence in terms of United States and European interests.

    • "Riiiiiiiiight. If NATO folded and the US Army left Europe then the inevitable consequence of that would be a rush by Russian conventional forces towards the English Channel in order to “handily” subjugate all of Europe?"

      If you had actually read what I wrote you would have noted that I was speaking of the NATO Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. It helps to read and understand before responding.

    • "I am finding ideologues of the left as unrealistic as ideologues of the right. One says the US can do no wrong, the other says that the US is to blame for everything that goes wrong. Nuance be damned."

      This phenomenon can be found in populist demagogues on both the left and the right, dating back at least to the 1930s, and particularly in foreign policy. The left thinks America is not good enough for the rest of the world, and the right thinks the rest of the world is not good enough for America. Both are laughably unrealistic.

    • Were NATO and the U.S. to abandon Europe, nukes would be unnecessary. Russian conventional forces would be more than adequate to accomplish the job handily.

    • To state that NATO countries "are under no conventional or nuclear military threat whatsoever..." demonstrates a lack of geo-strategic awarness. The three Baltic states--Estonia, Latvia, and Estonia, as well as Poland, have all been threatened by Putin. The Baltic states in particular were once a part of the Soviet Union and part of what Russia now calls its "Near-Abroad." Without a strong NATO presence, Putin would be sorely tempted to bring them back into the fold.

      There is also Turkey, which has always had friction with Russia and the former Soviet Union. Without NATO backup, Putin would not necessarily invade Turkey, but he would most certainly apply strong pressure to bring Turkey under Russian influence.

  • Winning in Losing: How Sanders pushed Clinton to the Left
    • I have studied the history of Europe in the 20s and 30s in depth. I am very much aware that fascism was a right-wing phenomenon, and that liberalism as used in Gramsci's manifesto was not the U.S. "liberalism" of today.

      In the European context, "liberalism" basically adhered to the tenets of John Locke, Adam Smith, and others who valued political freedom (such as it was defined at the time), free markets, and the individual.

      That Italy and Germany became fascist was not due to "liberalism." It was primarily due to weak institutional structures within each country; and in the case of Germany, the crushing reparations demanded by the Treaty of Versailles and rampant inflation in the 20s. Liberalism as such had nothing to do with it.

      Gramsci, of course was a communist and viewed liberalism and fascism both as obstacles to attaining his vision of a "Sovietized" Italy. Thus his manifesto, "Neither Fascism Nor Liberalism: Sovietism!"

    • Antonio Gramsci did not say, "Liberalism paves the way for fascism." What you may be referring to is his 1924 manifesto entitled, "Neither fascism nor liberalism: Sovietism!"

      In 1924 Italy was already fascist under Mussolini, and Gramsci was stating that liberal attempts to replace fascism, if successful, would result in a system no better than fascism.

      In his clarion call for "Sovietism," Gramsci was calling for a Soviet style regime, run by committees of workers and peasants, "Soviets," which would, of course, be led by a "Vanguard of the Proletariat."

      We see the horrors that led to when the Soviet Union, with its Leninist totalitarianism, was inflicted on the Russian people. Surely you are not suggesting that as an appropriate form of "government" for the U.S. or any other nation.

    • You really do want the Republicans to win, don't you?! If Sanders bolts the Democrats for the Green Party, he will split the Democratic vote, taking his followers with him, just as Nader did in 2000. A recipe for a likely Republican win.

  • US finally acknowledging al-Qaeda factor in breakdown of Ceasefire
    • No one is "talking rubbish." We are talking about precision in language use, something that apparently was lacking in the gentleman's comment when he referred to the U.S. wanting to "maintain the world's last monarchies." If he was specifically referring to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, he should have so stated.

      Lack of precision in language use is responsible for many misunderstandings, not only in the U.S. but in the world. Thank you for making my point.

    • "we also want to maintain the world’s last monarchies."

      Which, in addition to those in the Near East, include the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Japan, Lesotho, Malaysia, Swaziland, Thailand, and Tonga.

  • Why Burqa Veils Are Illegal In Some Countries
    • "The idea that every tradition of every culture needs to be respected is bull."

      This is especially true of those who choose to immigrate to countries with a culture very different from there own. I have spent many years living and working in Muslim countries, and I always observed and respected their culture in terms of conduct and dress. When Muslims choose to immigrate to Western countries, they should be equally sensitive to the culture of their host country.

      We in the west do not completely cover a woman in a veil, whether with a burqa or a niqab. It is not considered appropriate to hide one's entire face behind such a facade. It could almost be termed rude. When Muslims, or any other group, immigrate to the West, they bear the burden of accommodating themselves to Western culture and values; it is not up to the West to bend its values and culture to accommodate the culture and values of the immigrant.

  • The Future of the Mideast: A decentralized, Networked Pan-Arabism transcending Sykes-Picot?
    • I am well aware of the difference between pan-Arabism and nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire. It was Mr. Khanna, in his piece above, who wrote, "Arabs-— not just Turks-— speak yearningly of the Ottoman Empire."

      I have no nostalgia for the British and French Mandates in the Near East. I was simply comparing their short-lived existence to the four centuries of Ottoman rule over the arabs.

    • Pan-Arabism? Nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire? These are hardly bets to place your chips on. The Pan-Arabism implicit in Nasser's United Arab Republic (the union of Egypt and Syria) accomplished nothing, and it broke up after a short-lived existence.

      As to European colonialism in the heart of the Arab World and any nostalgia for the Ottoman Empire, the Ottomans were imitators at best. As the West increased its knowledge in all spheres, the Ottoman world remained static. While the West continued to advance, the Arabs and all other Muslim subjects of the Ottomans were victims of an Islamic—not Western—empire’s bureaucracy, regulations, corruption, and consequent failure to modernize, leaving them ill-equipped to meet the Western challenge when it did come. Compared to the Ottoman legacy, the post-World War I British and French Mandates in the Near East were short-lived and hardly the impediment to development that they are often portrayed to be.

      It would be folly to place your bets on the Arab World coalescing and finding common cause in another Pan-Arab enterprise, this time writ large.

  • Jailed without trial for Life? Guantanamo's Lawlessness may outlast the Obama Administration
    • In a report dated January 15, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) noted that 647 detainees had been transferred from Guantanamo. Of these, 116 (or 17.9 percent) were confirmed to have reengaged in terrorist or insurgent activities and another 69 (or 10.7 percent) were suspected of having reengaged.

      That's a pretty high percentage of recidivists. As to guilt, some probably attaches to the U.S. for transferring at least some for domestic and international PR, but I would suggest that the countries which accepted the transferred prisoners bear the greatest responsibility, as they were supposed to ensure they did not return to terrorism or the battlefield.

  • Top 7 Reasons Israel must give back the Occupied Golan to Syria
    • You are spot-on Collins. Both Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties and established diplomatic relations with Israel. It is not to let Netanyahu off the hook for his bull-headedness and intransigence to suggest that Syria might consider discarding its bull-headedness and intransigence by signing a peace treaty and establishing diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for a return of the Golan Heights to Syria. It does take two parties to negotiate these deals, and both Israel and Syria would have to be willing parties.

  • Syria won't have Peace until there is Accountability for War Crimes
    • No, not like in the US. To compare the situation in Syria with the situation in the US demonstrates a lack of understanding of both.

  • Dilemma of the Left: How to be anti-racist, anti-War and yet oppose Radical Islamism?
    • "How to oppose violent Islamism without contributing to Islamophobia?"

      Can we please stop using the term "Islamophobia" to describe critics of certain elements of Islam? Every religion, including Islam, has elements that can be legitimately criticized. But "Islamophobia" has become a mantra every bit as insidious as "anti-Semitic" is to describe critics of Israeli policy and West Bank settlements. Both are used frequently to silence critics or paint them as bigots. Neither term should be employed lightly. Distinctions should be made instead of painting all critics with the same broad brush.

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates
    • "What do you call it when STATE actors use violence against civilians to achieve a political aim (for example, the fire-bombing of Dresden or the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki)?"

      ...or the Nazi bombing of Coventry and the Japanese Rape of Nanjing?!

  • One Nation, under SWAT: The undemocratic Militarization of the Police
    • Interesting that the police sent "chills up and down your spine," but, apparently two internal terrorists bombing innocent Americans did not.

  • The Deep State is Vulnerable to People Power
    • "Regarding the “love it or leave it, USA Number One” narrative..."

      That certainly has never been my narrative, although it appears to have been the narrative followed by the likes of Edward Snowden.

      "The rate of emigration appears to be increasing, for some reason(s)"

      A drop in the bucket compared to the rate of immigration by those all over the world who view the United States' freedoms and opportunities much preferable to those in the lands from whence they came. (More than one million a year legally immigrate here, and the number would be much higher if we did not place numerical quotas on each country.)

      "the Chilean milito-oligarchs that killed Allende"

      Still buying into the old Leftist myth I see. It has long been established, even by those who opposed the coup, that Allende committed suicide in the Presidential palace, using the rifle given to him as a gift by Fidel Castro.

    • "The entire Washington, DC establishment of amoral power players is among the greatest obstacles to an enlightened and civilized nation."

      What makes you think the "entire Washington establishment" is filled with "amoral power players"? How many do you know? How many have you any idea of their biography? I doubt that you could name the "entire Washington, DC establishment," much less provide evidence that they are "amoral power players." You are probably against essentializing various ethnic, religious, and racial groups; yet you apparently feel completely free to essentialize many in Washington, DC of whom you know nothing about. That says more about you than it does about those whom you rail against with your lack of evidence.

  • The GOP, Race and Ted Nugent: If you won't Denounce Nazi Insults, What does that Say about You?
    • I don't think "Well, Basically" was criticizing the author's free speech right to criticize Nugent. What he criticizes is the charge of "treason," which is a very well-defined term under the Constitution and law, and which Nugent clearly has not committed.

  • Racializing Politics: We don't say "Slav" Democracy troubled in Ukraine, why Talk about "Arab" Failures?
    • Nice try, Joe. But your shift from suggesting I used World Wars I and II as examples to finessing it as if you had asked the question originally is too transparent. Now, back to the issue at hand, the Balkans.

      The Balkan War of 1913 was a discrete historical event that I used to follow up on your original comment about the Slavic World (which I took to mean the Balkans of the 1990s).. I used it as an example of much ethnic bloodletting and cleansing in itself. That is a fact that was brought out in spades by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Commission's report in 1913, to which I referred in my comment.

      That the Balkan conflicts were part of the mix that went into the start of World War I is common knowledge. But we weren't discussing the origins of World War I; the discussion centered on ethnic strife, killings and cleansing in the Balkans. I prefer to stay on topic.

    • "Bill, ethnic and religious strife, killing, and cleansing has a long history everywhere. You bring up World Wars I and II as examples…okay, so why don’t we hear that old trope applied to France and Germany, who did a great deal more killing than anyone in the Balkans in both of those wars?"

      Pay attention to what I wrote, Joe. Nowhere in my comment did I bring up World Wars I and II as examples. I specifically referred to the Second Balkan War of 1913. And I kept my comment specific to the Balkans because I was responding to your posting regarding the "Slavic World," although in referring to the 1990s, you must have meant the Balkans, since it was in the Balkans, not the wider Slavic World, where the ethnic strife, killing, and cleansing occurred.

    • The overnight truce between protesters and the Ukrainian government has been broken, and the violence has ratcheted up. Can Senator Mcain's call for the US to establish a "No-Fly" zone be far behind?

    • The division between those who want to throw their lot in with the West and those who want to throw their lot in with the Russians follows the religious demarcation line between the Uniate western part of the country (which recognizes the Vatican and Pope as supreme, but practices the Orthodox faith) and the Eastern Orthodox eastern part of the country.

    • Actually, the Slavic World is much larger than the components of the former Yugoslavia. What people were referring to in the 1990s regarding a history of "killing each other" was specifically the Balkans.

      In fact, ethnic and religious strife, killing, and cleansing does have a long history in the Balkans: Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria, experienced ethnic strife, violence, and killing during the Second Balkan War in 1913 that could have been taken from the headlines of the 1990s.

      In 1913, with the outbreak of the Second Balkan War, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace established an international commission to establish the facts in the conflict. The noted diplomat and historian George F. Kennan describes the commission's report and compares the Balkan crises of 1913 and the 1990s in his article, "The Balkan Crises in 1913 and 1993," originally published in the New York Review of Books, edition of July 15, 1993. The affected peoples were not living in idyllic harmony in 1913, any more than they were in 1993. It was Marshall Tito (a Croat, by the way) who kept the lid on the disparate ethnic, religious, and national groups, and he did it with an iron fist. Without the iron fist, the place fell apart.

    • "For the life in me I can not figure out why they think that if their country became part of the EU they would end up living like Germans and not as Greeks."

      If they were to become a member of the EU, whether they lived like Germans or like Greeks would depend largely on whether or not they ran a disciplined economy: foregoing a bloated, overpaid state bureaucracy; foregoing subsidies; the government collecting, and the public paying the full amount of taxes owed; etc.

  • Bill Nye Science Guy to Debate GOP Rep Gohmert on Gravity
    • Satire it may be (and it is very good!), but, David Gregory aside, there are all too many politicians (and voters!) who fit the image of Rep. Louie Gohmert. Think of all the climate-change deniers, all of the creationists and intelligent-designers who don't believe that evolution is settled theory, all the conspiracy theorists who don't believe the US landed a man on the moon in 1969, and on it goes. These rubes don't know the difference between theory and hypothesis.

      Churchill said: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except all other forms that have been tried from time to time." I agree with him that democracy, warts and all, is best, in spite of the fact that one must accept the ignorant along with the intelligent. But sometimes I long for rule by a benevolent philosopher-king, without the rabble interfering with settled science and inserting their crackpot ideas into school text books.

  • Three Years Later: Can the Libyan Revolution Succeed?
    • "Oddly enough, Bill, the Libyan people don’t seem to agree with you that they were better off under the vicious oil dictator."

      That's a non-sequitur, Joe, because I did not claim the Libyan people were better off under Gaddafi.

      "There is a notable difference between Libya and post-Saddam Iraq..."

      Yes, but that does not address my point, which is that in both cases there was no thought given to what would follow our intervention.

    • Actually, I should thank you for the link to that chapter of the book, Mr. McPhee. I don't think you read it very carefully, as it describes in spades the Soviet efforts to culturally and psychologically twist the Germans (and other Europeans) view of the United States and the West in the post-War years. The author does a fine job of describing why the circumstances prevailing at the time made it necessary for the CIA and other US government organs to use culture, art, and letters in the battle to counter the Soviet propaganda (Agitprop, again).

      The Soviets were pouring rubles into the Communist Parties of France and Italy, as well as others, in an effort to win votes. That effort on the part of the Soviets, coupled with their propaganda machine, made it imperative for the US to counter it with our own effort (including the successful Marshall Plan), an effort that, thank goodness, resulted in Western Europe remaining free of Communist tyranny.

    • Ms. Whitson has succinctly described what, in her own words, is a state "teetering on the brink of failure." After two and one-half years, it has developed none of the institutional marks of a coherent state in control of its destiny: No rule of law; no functioning legal and judicial system; no security forces--police and military--accountable to the government; and on it goes.

      In some respects, it reminds me of the U.S. toppling Saddam Hussein and creating the wreckage that is Iraq. Those who supported the intervention to depose Gaddafi and his government apparently gave no thought to what might follow, any more than the Bush Administration gave thought to what might follow in Iraq.. Well, now we see what followed, and in both cases it isn't pretty. Perhaps we should think long and hard before deciding to intervene, whether on the basis of false information or on humanitarian grounds. If there is no U.S. interest at stake (and there was no U.S. interest advanced in the cases of either Iraq or Libya), perhaps it is best to stay out of it.

    • Human Rights Watch does not always get it right, but it is a lot more objective in its reporting than the ideological, anti-U.S. screed from NACLA linked above. It reads at the level of Soviet Agitprop during the period of the Comintern and the Third International.

  • The Day the 5th Amendment was Droned to Death
    • "Did “the US” not KILL the younger al-Awliki?"

      The point is he was not the target. He was with the target when the drone struck.

    • The answer, Ms. Marshall, is that it is well known that Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was not the target of the drone attack. The target was an AQAP operative named Ibrahim al-Banna. The younger al-Awlaki was with al-Banna at the time of the drone strike. It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The U.S. did not, repeat did not, target the younger al-Awlaki.

  • Dear GOP: Top 5 Biblical Marriage Moments far worse than Gay Marriage
    • "Not only does the Bible authorize slavery..."

      The Qur'an condones slavery as well, but it also suggests that manumission is an act of goodness.

  • How Iraq Vets against War & Peace Groups stopped Senate bid to derail Iran Talks
    • "I am encouraged to see that the men and women that actually put their lives on the line see the difference between actually defending their country, and serving as an enforcer for the imperialist designs of Bush Cheney."

      Perhaps you haven't noticed, but the events under discussion regarding Iran are occurring under the Obama-Biden Administration. Bush and Cheney left office five years ago, and it would be unwise to suggest that they are still responsible for "imperial designs."

  • Saudi Valentines elude Puritan Morals Police
  • CAR Muslims Risk Ethnic Cleansing: What if Thousands of Christians were forced out of a Muslim Country?
    • "It is ironic that these horrible crimes of ethnic cleansing, by murders and attacks on poor, unarmed, civilians, go unnoticed in the world, especially in the US?"

      Especially in the US? What evidence do you have that leads you to conclude the U.S. is more indifferent to ethnic cleansing than other countries in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere?

      "A new article in Juan Cole shows Americans do not have favorable opinions about Muslims, which explains why they are indifferent to what is going on."

      Is that the explanation? Then how do you account for the United States putting a stop to the killings and ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia via the Dayton Accords in 1995? Or the U.S.-led NATO war against Serbia over the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Kosovo in 1999?

    • Even more than the United States, it was the Europeans who did nothing during the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia, and it was happening in the Europe's backyard. And don't forget it was a Dutch commander of United Nations forces who stood by and did nothing as 7,000 Muslims were slaughtered in Srebrenica.

      It was, in fact, the American diplomat Richard Holbrooke who hammered out the Dayton Accords that ended the fighting. The U.S. was slow to get involved, but did more to end the slaughter and ethnic cleansing than anyone else.

  • Putinism in Cairo? The Rise of the Russian Model
    • " What in particular is our interest in Egypt “not turning to Putin”. It should be articulated so that we can assess it. If it’s got something to do with protecting Israel from additional pressure to settle with the Arab World and Iran it will be exactly what we should be considering."

      Our interest in Egypt, the most important country in the Near East, has little to do with Israel and everything to do with our overall interests in the region. Your constant hobbyhorse appears to be your fixation on Israel. That is not America's only interest and never has been. Israel has an outsized influence on U.S. policy, but it does not control our entire policy. You need to stop looking through the wrong end of the telescope and realize the larger U.S. interests in the Near East, which includes the Arab World writ large.

    • Everyone calls for "democracy," Joe. That is the mantra of the age. The fact is, however, there is a lot more support for the current secular authoritarian government in Egypt than there was for the Islamist authoritarian government under Morsi.

    • "Apparently, your understanding of history ends in 1992...May we learn from the history of September 2001?"

      The year 1992 has nothing to do with divergent interests of Russia and the United States in the Near East today. That dog won't hunt, Joe.

      What you apparently fail to understand is the Egyptian political architecture had nothing to do with the Al-Qaeda attacks of September 11, 2001. It may be comforting for you to think the attacks would not have occurred if only we there were democracy in Egypt at the time. That, however, was not, and is not, what Al-Qaeda and the various Jihadist groups are all about.

    • "Libya has cash, Tunisia has expertise, and Egypt has a huge labor poor and networks of state-owned factories. Put it all together and the Maghreb will blossom."

      Egypt is not considered part of the Maghreb. The Maghreb includes Northwest Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya) lying west of Egypt. That said, the idea of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt cooperating on a development program is a pipe dream. They would never agree on priorities.

    • "If the Egyptian economy starts humming along nicely, who’s going to look back on the Morsi years with nostalgia? (In case it isn’t clear, I’m not saying I would support or agree with such a response, just that it is easy to predict.)

      The Egyptians have made a rational choice to support a secular authoritarian government over an Islamist one. It is a perfectly rational choice, and whether one agrees with it and supports it or not is irrelevant.

    • "The Cold War is over. If Obama’s efforts to promote democracy “lose Egypt” to Russia…so what?"

      So what? If you think it does not harm our interests having the most important Arab country aligned with Russia, you need to apply yourself a little harder to the study of the history of American-Russian relations in the Near East. I guess for you it is not enough to have Russia working against us in Syria and other issues. You apparently see nothing wrong with Egypt working against our interests as well.

      As I stated in my original comment, "We should have learned from history (but, unfortunately often we don't)." You have just confirmed my point.

    • Back to the future! It appears that General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi views the United States' unenthusiastic relationship with his government much as Gamal Abdel Nasser did during the period 1955-56. Nasser wanted arms from the U.S., but we sent mixed messages via the "back-channel" diplomacy of CIA officers Kermit Roosevelt and Miles Copland on the one hand, and "front-channel" diplomacy via Ambassador Henry Byroade on the other. Ultimately, the U.S. insisted that any arms deal include U.S. military officers accompanying the arms. Nasser objected, turned to the Soviet Union, and the Soviets arranged a deal to supply Nasser with Czech arms.

      With the Soviet-Czech arms deal, Nasser turned increasingly anti-U.S. As a result, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles withheld the financial aid promised Egypt to help build the Aswan High Dam. Once again, Nasser turned to the Soviet Union for help, and the Soviets provided much of the financial aid to build the dam. From that point until Nasser's death and the assumption of power of President Anwar Sadat in 1970, Egypt was openly hostile to the U.S.

      We should have learned from history (but, unfortunately, often we don't). General al-Sisi may not be the poster-child for democracy that we would like, but he is in control of the most important Arab country in the Near East. If he turns to the Soviets due to our short-sighted policies of withholding arms and aid, and our propensity to publicly hector him over democracy and human rights, we will have only ourselves to blame. There is a place for advancing democracy and human rights in our toolkit, but it is best accomplished through quiet diplomacy. On the larger issue of our overall relationship with Egypt, it is in the U.S. national interest to maintain it in such a manner that Egypt sees it in its interest to rely on the U.S. and not turn to Russia, as Nasser did.

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