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Total number of comments: 1233 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:38)


Showing comments 1233 - 1201

  • 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.

  • We're all Living in the World Dick Cheney Made
    • 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 ample 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 the late 1950s, both sides acknowledged that torture resulted in the French capturing Algerian resistance leaders and probably 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.

  • Can Obama make a grand bargain with Iran over Syria?
    • If you really think Obama reversed course from threatening cruise missile strikes to suddenly taking the issue to Congress for a vote was all done deliberately to give the "diplomatic" track more time, I've still got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you, sight unseen.

      Obama's dithering and indecisiveness is what led the Russians to insert themselves and take the lead. The Russians pulled off what Obama's "Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight" could not. Red Lines and lots of talk.

    • Page: 12
    • Still, pretty hard to determine if it was a typical Kerry gaffe or a face-saving attempt to allow the Russians to take the lead after Obama reversed course from lobbing cruise missiles to taking it to Congress for a vote, which he surely would have lost.

  • Assassination by Leak: US floats Trial Balloon of Droning an American to Death
    • "Violating other countries’ sovereignty is a violation."

      Not if that country is harboring an Unauthorized Enemy Combatant and does nothing about it. The United States then has the right to pursue the Enemy within said country's territory.

    • If this is an Administration attempt at "transparency," it is sadly mistaken. Those who oppose drone strikes will not be swayed. And all it accomplishes is to notify the intended target of a potential strike.

      The Obama Administration is well within legal limits to target the American Jihadist, both under the terms of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force and under the terms of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. American citizenship does not grant anyone a shield against targeting if he is actively engaged in the Al-Qaeda war against the U.S.

  • Top 10 Reasons Rand Paul's Lewinsky Gambit Can't Obscure GOP War on Women
    • "A recent poll gave Hillary and Biden a combined total of 85 points out of 100 for the 2016 presidential polling. Both were prominent warmongers for the war on Iraq. Apparently, that didn’t register with many people responding to that poll."

      It is a bit arrogant to assume that Clinton and Biden's initial positions on the Iraq War did not "register" with many who responded to the poll. There are many other factors to consider--not just their stance on the Iraq War--when determining what candidate to support.

      "And Biden was a prominent leader in pushing the Bankruptcy Act and overturning Glass-Steagall. What kind of electorate is this?"

      Obviously an electorate with which you disagree. That does not mean that either you or the electorate have a lock on ground truth.

  • A $9 Trillion War? Top 10 Reasons Americans will Regret it if GOP Derails Iran Negotiations
    • "All the rah-rah from delusional Americans is NOT going to keep the US from being defeated."

      Speaking of "rah-rah delusional" talk. You apparently have no idea of counter-measures developed as a result of the cavitation torpedo, which is a derivative of the Russian Shkval. I assure you, the U.S. is not going to be defeated by Iran, in the Persian Gulf or anywhere else.

    • By the way, your use of WORDS IN ALL CAPS in no way enhances the validity of your points.

    • "especially knowing their 5000 year old culture."

      I, too, know china's 5,000 year old culture. They are not about to join Iran in a war against the U.S. It would be of know value to them at all to engage in such folly.

    • "Yes the Saudis have nuclear weapons in country. They purchased them from Pakistan and put them on some extremely old (and unreliable) missiles pointed at Israel and Iran."

      There is absolutely no evidence that the Saudis have nuclear weapons in-country, obtained from Pakistan or anywhere else. The Saudis partially bankrolled the Pakistani nuclear program, and, as a result, it has always been thought that they have a claim on Pakistani nuclear weapons should they ever see a need (e.g., if Iran were to successfully develop a nuclear weapon.)

      What you may have seen are certain "intelligence reports" that the Saudis have nuclear weapons obtained from Pakistan. I put "intelligence reports" in quotes because it has long been known that they originated in Israel. Such "reports" are simply an attempt by Israel to sow fear and apprehension regarding Saudi capabilities. In spite of the fact that such "intelligence" (manufactured by Israel) has fooled some into believing the Saudis have nuclear weapons, there is no basis or evidence for believing it. To do so is to fall into the Israeli Narrative they would like everyone to believe.

    • Iranian super cavitation torpedoes are derivative of the Russian Shkval. United States Defense and Naval analysts and operational weapons and counter-weapons officers are well-aware of them and their capabilities.

      It is not a given at all that there would be no defense against such a torpedo attack against a U.S. carrier strike group operating in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. has developed counter-measures to defeat an attack incorporating such torpedoes.

      "If the US attacks Iran, it will lose very badly and have permanent, severe economic damage to the US."

      I do not think the U.S. will start a war with Iran, regardless of what some in Congress, as well as in Israel, may wish. Nevertheless, should there be a war, it will not involve U.S. ground troops and occupation. Moreover, it is a bit over-the-top to state that the U.S. would "lose and lose badly." Wars are hardly ever "won" or "lost" by the U.S. anymore. The idea would be to degrade Iran's nuclear and military capability, which certainly is within U.S. capability to do.

      I am not advocating such action. I am just saying that the U.S. would not necessarily "lose" in the conventional sense of the term, in any such encounter, given the objective of degrading Iran's nuclear and military assets.

    • "Per the US military’s own manuals (FM 3-24.2 – available on the web for you to read), a quick rule of thumb for invading and holding an area with a WILLING population is one US soldier per 20 locals."

      The ratio of one soldier for every 20 local inhabitants has been standard counter-insurgency doctrine since the British succeeded with just that ration in defeating the Communist insurgents in the Malayan Emergency that lasted from 1948 to 1960. It is the only successful counter-insurgency program in modern annals, and it was not just the ration of British forces to local inhabitants that led to success. Malaya at the time was a British colony, and the British were in charge of all government organs and could make decisions without reference to other elements.

      "Not only will China not lend the US any money, but they just may join Iran in the war, then things will get really bad for the US."

      There is not a chance that China would join Iran in a war against the United States. There would be absolutely no gain for China, as China realizes that it's interests lie in cooperating in certain primary areas with the U.S. We have differences with China, but none that China would see in its interests to go to war with the U.S.


  • Congress to CIA: Provide US Drone Victim Count
    • "And hence, the administration’s willingness to use force in response to the chemical attack, and its willingness to abandon such force when the chemical issue was solved."

      Once again, you are ignoring inconvenient time-lines that don't fit your narrative. The Obama Administration did not "abandon such force when the chemical issue was solved." It abandoned the use of force when Obama decided to take the issue to Congress for a vote before the issue was solved. Only after the Russians stepped in, after Obama backtracked on the use of force to take the issue to Congress, was the issue solved.

    • "but the idea was nixed when it was determined the U. S.. had no compelling policy interest in Syria to justify drone use there."

      The United States has no compelling national interest in Syria to intervene with drones, Tomahawks, or the provision of weapons to the rebels either. It would be one more "fools errand" to involve ourselves in the civil war when we have no idea if the opposition would be any more in our interest than the current regime, which we have lived with for 40 years while managing our interests in the Near East.

      The only thing the U.S. should do is provide a share of funding for maintenance of the refugees created by the conflict. Otherwise, the best thing we could do is let the Assad regime and the rebels fight it out until one side or the other eventually prevails. Let the Russians, Saudis, and Iranians take sides and provide arms to their respective clients. No reason for us to do so.

    • " pooh-poohing hearts-and-minds justification given by many administrations, with wise belated observation that same were not ours to win or lose in the first place."

      There is nothing "belated" about my observation. I have never bought the "winning hearts and minds" justification, whether in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else. The U.S. national interest is its own justification for our involvement. (Whether that involvement is wise or not is another question.) But Lord Palmerston's observation still applies: "There are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests in international relations."

    • The reason we have vastly diminished the drone campaign in the FATA is because it has worked. Al-Qaeda commanders and operational leaders have been decimated and are not that easy to replace. The same will eventually prove to be the case with AQAP and other associated entities.

      By the way, the drone campaign has not been a substitute for intelligence and law enforcement; it has been complementary. But it has been the essential element in hard-to-reach places like the FATA and the rugged country in Yemen where there is no law enforcement., local or otherwise.

    • "The long war on terror is, for all practical purposes, over and done."

      Not quite yet. We have succeeded in degrading the Al-Qaeda command and operational leadership in the Pakistani FATA, largely thanks to the drone campaign. The drone campaign has been a success, and it has resulted in far fewer civilian, non-combatant casualties than had we inserted Special Ops Forces to engage the Unlawful Enemy Combatants using the FATA as their refuge and headquarters.

      As to "losing hearts and minds," that term has always been pretty much a myth propagated by both the Right and the Left in the American commentariat. Their "hearts and minds" were never ours to "win" or "lose" in the first place.

      There remain dangerous elements of Al-Qaeda and its associated organizations, particularly in Yemen, but in other regions (parts of Africa) as well. It is too early to call the war against terrorist organizations that would attempt to harm the U.S. and its interests over just yet.

  • Camel Bones and Jerusalem: Archeology Shows Bible written Late, Full of Errors
    • Now if the vast majority of Muslims who literally believe the Qur'an is the Word of God as conveyed to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel would start to question their beliefs and admit that such beliefs are just as much myth as is much of the Bible, we might begin to find secular common ground. The piece below on the "Death of God" in Iraq is a promising beginning.

  • The Death of God in Iraq: 32% of Iraqis not Sure God Exists, 11% think Not
    • "The Death of God in Iraq"

      Islam meets Nietzsche, and Nietzsche prevails. That's progress!

  • Broken Democracy: Republicans poised to take Senate, Americans Reject their Platform
    • This apparent contradiction in voters' policy choices vs. voting behavior does not represent a "broken democracy" so much as it represents a schizophrenic electorate.

  • Billionaire Victimology is the Worst
    • I have no time for Tom Perkins' "The Rich as Victims" whining. Nevertheless, the constant lambasting and whining about the "one percent" as being rapacious drones who contribute nothing to society is just as ludicrous.

      Federal Government figures for calendar year 2010 reveal that the top one percent in terms of income, earned 17 percent of all income but paid 37 percent of all federal income tax collected. The top ten percent in terms of income, earned 43 percent of all income but paid 71 percent of federal income tax collected. The bottom 50 percent paid practically no federal income tax at all--just two percent.

      Whether or not the top one percent and ten percent in the U.S. in terms of income should pay more in federal income taxes is debatable. It is pretty clear, however, that they pay the vast lion's share of federal income taxes collected.

  • The Cheapening of American Politics: Why did Obama reward O'Reilly with an Interview?
    • He will score no more points with O'Reilly's viewers than he would with MSNBC's Chris Mathews viewers.

    • Bill O'Reilly doesn't interrupt his guests any more than does MSNBC's Chris Mathews. both are disgusting in their attempts to stifle views with which the disagree.

  • Director Steven Spielberg speaks at UN Holocaust Remembrance Day: "There are no Bystanders to History"
    • According to the military historian Max Hastings, U.S. losses in World War II totaled 418,500. That number includes members of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps fighting in the European, Mediterranean, and Pacific theatres.

    • Spielberg was speaking about the Holocaust before a UN Holocaust remembrance group. There was no need to bring up the Palestinians.

      The Palestinian issue is a legitimate topic of discussion in many fora, but it need not be brought up at every forum, lest it become just one more "default" topic to check off.

  • Christie, Clapper and other Officials who should be in Jail instead of Snowden
    • "The U.S. IS an imperialist nation in the post-colonial sense. Who could deny it. Just look at our behavior in the Middle East since the collapse of the Soviet Union."

      Where in the Middle East is the United States exercising imperialist hegemony? Egypt? Libya? Tunisa?

      Oh, I get it, you must mean Iraq, where we cannot even remain with troops because the Iraqis will not approve the Status of Forces Agreement we wanted them to approve. Or could it be Afghanistan, where we are stymied by Mr. Karzai's intransigence in approving the Security Agreement? Could it be Israel, which would seem to exercise hegemony over U.S. policy as applied to Israeli interests? If this is imperialism,. it is surely the weakest form of it that I have ever seen, either now or in the past. Some imperialism indeed.

    • "Many say, for example, that Stalinism and the Soviet Union could not have avoided “failing” much longer; like our own Empire, they were exquisitely corrupt, and also bled out internally — and the rag about Reagan spending them into oblivion is just bunk.

      You are wrong on two counts. First, we in the West were not nearly as corrupt and venal as the Soviet Union. To think otherwise is just ignorance of how the USSR was ruled. Second, the USSR did not collapse as a result of Reagan outspending them, but you are wrong to think many actually believe that. It collapsed as a result of 45 years of ontainment applied by both Republican and Democratic administrations, as well as our NATO allies.

      You probably do not realize the final irony of the collapse of Communism. If you remember your Marx, he postulated that Capitalism would collapse as a result of its own internal contradictions. Instead, it was the internal contradictions of Communism that ultimate caused its collapse. Containment worked because it forced the Soviet Union to deal with its inherent contradictions.

    • " Yes, that was the doctrine of containment set forth in Foreign Affairs a couple of years after the end of WW II by “X”, George Kennan. It became something of a Western ideology during the Cold War justifying political and military blocking of the expansion of Marxist/Leninist, Stalinist, and Maoist regimes and their minor spin-offs."

      I would not call the policy of containment an "ideology." It was a practical response to Communist, particularly Soviet, attempts to expand and undermine Western and other non-Communist countries. That it was misapplied at times (the leading example being Vietnman) does not undermine containment's basic premise. And in the end, with the collapse of Communism in the USSR and Eastern Europe, it proved its worth. In the final analysis, it worked.

  • La Follette's Anti-Imperialism is Still Controversial at the Wall Street Journal
    • To correct my sentence above.

      Such individuals as Richard Perle (once an aide to Democratic senator Henry Jackson), Paul Wolfowitz, Irving Kristol (father of Bill Kristol), Jean Kirkpatrick, and others turned from being Democrats and liberal-centrists to being conservatives during and after Carter. Thus, the term NEOconservative.

    • The term "Neoconservative" has taken on a generic definition now, as you point out in your post above. Originally, however, "Neoconservative" was the term applied during the Carter Administration to former Democrats and liberals who thought Carter showed a lack of spine and fiber in dealing with the Soviet Union in particular and in defending U.S. interests in general.

      Such individuals as Richard Perle (once an aide to Democratic senator Henry Jackson), Paul Wolfowitz, Irving Kristol (father of Bill Kristol), Jean Kirkpatrick, and others turned from being Democrats and centrists to liberals during and after Carter. Subsequently, as noted, the term has taken on a generic definition far removed from its beginnings.

  • Don't Break up Syria: WW I-Style Imperial Divide & Rule is a Failure
    • Mr. Dekki passionately protests against Balkanization of Syria, offering tired cliches in support of his position ("The time has come to oppose tired neocolonial paradigms that only benefit hegemonic powers.") Of course, it's fun to employ the jargon of Post-Colonial literature ("Neocolonial paradigms", "hegemonic powers"), but where is his solution to the Syrian problem? Mr. Dekki offers nothing.

      Does Mr. Dekki think intervention under a UNSC resolution advisable? Does he support arming the rebels against Assad advisable? Does he think the world should simply let the civil war proceed without any intervention until one side or the other prevails? He doesn't say. He seems to be up on his history of Sykes-Picot, but to suggest that the creation of ethnic/religious enclaves of self-rule in Syria is equivalent to Sykes-Picot (with "hegemonic powers" ruling) is stretching the analogy beyond usefulness. It would have been interesting had Mr. Dekki compared the likely result of "Balkanization" to the result of other potential solutions being discussed. Unfortunately, he has left that for someone else to tackle.

  • US Pivot to Asia Should Deploy Soft Power, not the Marines
    • "Much of the Pentagon’s future in Asia has been focused on “Air-Sea Battle,” a joint Navy-Air Force integrated plan that made its debut in 2010 with the specific aim of denying adversaries (read: China) access to the seas and skies of the region."

      The above cited quote completely misrepresents the reasoning behind the strategy of "Air-Sea Battle," making it seem like an aggressive US posture designed to "deny China access to the seas and skies of the area." In fact, "Air-Sea Battle" was designed in reaction to the developing Chinese strategy of "Anti-Access/Area Denial" (A2/AD), which would deny the US access to maritime areas it now has free access to enter under international and maritime law. In other words, rather than the offensive stance Mr. Feffer suggests, "Air-Sea Battle" is a defensive strategy to be used should China attempt to deny the US the right to access it now enjoys under international and maritime law.

  • Dovish SOTU: Obama will Veto AIPAC Iran Sanctions, Pledges Afghanistan Wind-Down
    • "The article I linked to from stripes dot com goes into the current state of the debate within the administration."

      Exactly, but it is an element being debated. It is not "off the table."

    • That VP Biden wants a far smaller residual force than does the military brass does not mean the possibility of 10,000 troops is "off the table." It just means there are differing viewpoints within the Administration. In the end, Obama will make the call.

    • "US wanted to keep up to 10, 000 forces in Afghanistan not few hundreds. I don’t know where your sources are.”

      "That’s been off the table for some time."

      It is not off the table at all. If a SOFA were to be concluded that exempted US forces from local legal and judicial jurisdiction, the total of 10,000 US troops is the likely number who would remain in Afghanistan.

      The US commander in Afghanistan, General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., has recommended that the stay-behind U.S. force total 10,000 troops, complemented by several thousand more from NATO allies.

  • Syria: Trapped Women of besieged Homs decline evacuation, fearing for their Men
    • A discriminating mind need not accept propaganda of either the Assad regime or the armed opposition.

    • Let's up the ante, Professor. Added to your bridge I'll thrown in some oceanfront property in Arizona.

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu faces Zionist Racism from Son dating Norwegian
    • "The pre-eminent proponent of Zionism, Theodor Hirzl (sic)...never set foot in Palestine."

      In face, Theodor Herzl visited Palestine in October 1898, traveling from Port Said by Russian steamer to Jaffa, and then on to Jerusalem. Herzl timed his visit to coincide with a visit to Palestine by Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II, and the two met twice, on October 29 and November 2.

      Herzl's meetings with Kaiser Wilhelm were attempts to get the Kaiser to intercede with Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II and press for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Kaiser, however, refused Herzl's request to intercede with the Sultan.

    • "My first thought is a question: excluding the realms of disease and famine have there been any greater scourges wrought upon humanity than politics, religion and ethnicity?"

      One answer to your question is that politics, religion, and ethnicity are not in themselves, and by definition, scourges. Rather, it is the approach to each by human beings that is the scourge. Human beings, acting "en masse" and irrationally, create the scourge.

  • Despite Reform Pledges, Rouhani's Iran remains Human Rights Nightmare
    • How do you suggest we could have changed the behavior of the Soviet Union and Maoist China: both ideologically driven and implacably hostile to the United States at the time you mention? We cannot even change regimes such as those of first Morsi, then al-Sisi in Egypt and other countries around the world with the "soft" power I presume you are suggesting we use. And they are small beer compared to the old USSR and China.

      Particularly in the case of China, how do you think we could have done anything about Mao's horrible programs that killed the 30 million to which you refer? The United States had no leverage over Mao that could have come close to competing with his ideologically driven programs.

    • " but neither Israel nor AIPAC bear any consequences for violating FARA or in Israel’s case for running a huge espionage effort against their 'ally and closest friend.'”

      And why don't they suffer consequences for their actions? Because the highest levels of the Executive branch (which has the authority to impose consequences) acquiesces in and enables Israel and AIPAC in their nefarious activities that run counter to US interests. You have just made my point for me. Until officials in our Executive and Legislative branches demonstrate the courage to stand up to Israel and its supporters, nothing will change. Walt Kelly and "Pogo" still have the last word: "We have met the enemy, and it is us."

    • US interests in Iran, the Arab World,, as well as any number of other issues, could be pursued if our leaders in the Executive and Legislative branches demonstrated the courage to stand up to Israel and AIPAC. Contrary to what you write, I do take the "circumstances" into account. What I do not do is let our leaders off the hook by absolving them of blame because they place their careers above the US interest. The US interest is the number one element of their job description!

      To place all of the blame on the perpetrators--Israel and AIPAC--and absolve the Executive and Legislative of responsibility because they fear for their "careers" is to misplace the blame. If enough of them demonstrated the courage to stand up to Israeli interests, the "circumstances" (your term) would change.

    • I know that you would love to feel as "oppressed" as the East Germans were under the Stasi. It is a longing expressed by many who live freely in the U.S. but wish they could identify with the repressed in authoritarian countries. Such individuals would be throwing up in the streets if they ever faced a real authoritarian government.

    • Censorship is by definition implemented by governments. The U.S. government is not enforcing censorship. News organizations are free to report as they see fit. That you may disagree with them does not mean that they are victims of "censorship."

    • "I was unaware that the United States had 'heavy censorship.'”

      That's because you are much more astute and aware than the person who claimed it has, Joe. As you are aware (as the originator of the comment is not!), there is no "heavy censorship" in the United States. One more delusional individual longing to feel "oppressed" by the non-existent "Stasi" of East Germany. Oh, to have the jackboot on my neck!

    • "With whom must we struggle most violently within the confines of our own government to create conditions for that liberalization? Israel, of course, and her unregistered American lobby including AIPAC.

      I agree with the sentiment you attempted to express in your comment, cited above, Mr. Watson. Nevertheless, I disagree with your conclusion. Israel and AIPAC are not the elements with whom we must struggle within the confines of our own government. Israel and AIPAC are just acting in what they see as their interest, and they are succeeding. The real struggle within our own government is with our own politicians in both the highest levels of the Executive Branch and in Congress who acquiesce in and enable Israel and AIPAC in having their way.

      Many years ago (some may be old enough to remember) Walt Kelly produced a comic strip called "Pogo." The salient phrase that appeared in that strip applies in our relationship with Israel and our acquiescence in policies that go against our own national interests: "We have met the enemy, and it is us." I find it difficult to place all the blame on Israel and AIPAC when it really should be placed on our enabling politicians that allow it to happen.

  • Only post-Snowden did FISA Court even Consider if NSA Bulk Phone Collection is Legal
    • "The executive should simply dismiss judges in large numbers for right wing histories and conduct like that of FISA and Citizens United and the GW Bush election scam, to mention just a few. That is equally in accordance with the Constitution and much needed."

      The Executive dismissing judges in large numbers because of their perceived ideological stance is in accordance with the Constitution? Afraid not. There is something called the separation of powers that would prevent that from happening. But even if it were possible, would you be just as sanguine if a Republican were elected president and he began dismissing liberal judges in large numbers appointed by Obama?

  • Why Tunisia's Transition to Democracy is Succeeding while Egypt Falters
    • Way too early to consider Tunisa a democratic success. Democracy is more than elections. Let's see if and when rule-of-law, a judicial system that honors contracts without bribery, and a pluralistic society are institutionalized. Then we might consider it a success.

  • China Installed More Solar Power in 2013 than the US has in its Whole History
    • And yet, recent evidence suggests that China has become the world's most massive source of pollution. Studies have shown that ten percent of the pollution on the United States' West Coast originated in China and reached the U.S. airborne over the Pacific. The irony, of course, is that most of it was caused manufacturing products for U.S. consumption.

  • Perennial US Rush to War: Syrian Chem issue was too Foggy to Justify Bombing
    • "“Notwithstanding” the fact that the administration was pursuing exactly this diplomatic solution, it was naive to handle the crisis in a manner that allowed that solution to succeed?"

      Bismarck is purported to have remarked that "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America."

      It certainly applies in the Syrian chemical weapons case. The situation resolved itself successfully (thanks to Russia stepping in) in spite of Obama's amateurish, feckless about-face to take it to Congress, not because of it.

    • And, in fact, in terms of the sequence of events, the Russian plan was presented after Obama called off the attack in order to take it to Congress for a vote. I guarantee you that calling the attack off to take it to Congress was not part of the "diplomatic track," and it had nothing to do with "public" vs. "private" talks with the Russians. That is simply naive.

    • "Presented publicly. As we all now realize, the diplomatic track that resulted in the Russian offer to destroy their client state’s arsenal was being discussed at both the Foreign Minister and Presidential throughout the crisis, including at the G8 summit."

      Notwsithstanding any talks, President Obama's amateurish "volte face" to call off the strikes and take it to Congress demonstrated a naive approach and was what gave the Russians their opening. Nothing can put a smooth face on that amateur piece of "policy," if it can be called that.

    • " President Putin offered a way out, getting President Assad to agree to destroy the Syrian governments store of chemical weapons."

      Putin's and the Russians' plan was presented after Obama called off the immediate attack and, in an about face, pronounced he was taking the plan to lob cruise missiles to Congress for an up-or-down vote. It was only after Obama called off the attack that the Russians presented their plan. It was Obama's dithering that gave the Russians their opening to take the lead.

  • Syria Conference Roiled by Shouting Matches, Insults
    • "…right up until they work."

      Except empty talk, demands, and threats rarely if ever accomplish the goal if they are not followed up with action. Demands that are not backed up are just viewed as hollow, Joe, by friend and foe alike.

    • "Secretary of State John Kerry demanded that President Bashar al-Assad step down in favor of a transitional government acceptable to all sides."

      Just as President Obama said Assad "must go" a couple of years ago and several times since. Empty talk. Assad is in a stronger position than he was then. Demands and threats with neither the means nor the will to back them up just makes us look impotent.

  • Gates worries Pakistan Violence blocks Polio Eradication, But is CIA Partly to Blame?
    • If you can't get the most rudimentary facts straight, why should anyone believe the observations that follow?

    • "And while we are talking about the CIA in Pakistan, how about its role in setting up and training their ISI"

      The CIA had nothing to do with "setting up" the Pakistani Directorate of InterServices Intelligence. The ISI was established in 1948 and was the brainchild of Australian-born British Army officer, Major General Robert Cawthome, then Deputy Chief of Staff in the Pakistan Army. In those days, the British provided much of the support and training for the Pakistani military. The CIA only got heavily involved under President Zia Ul-Hak when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

  • Unbalanced: 85 Super-Wealthy own as Much as Half the World's Population
    • "Concentrated wealth is concentrated power; concentrated power is tyranny."

      Does your dictum above apply to someone, say, like George Soros?

  • Massive War Crimes: Syrian Regime Tortured, Starved, Murdered 11,000 Prisoners
    • "The US has allegedly threatened to militarily attack the Hague if it prosecutes US personnel for war crimes."

      this is a new one for me. Please cite your source for such an allegation.

  • NSA Surveillance is about Control & Leverage, not Security
    • We can debate the details of her circumstances at the time she was exposed, but I agree with you wholeheartedly that she should never have been outed, whether as a former case officer overseas or as an analyst in Washington. It was an egregious act and those responsible should have been punished.

    • "Bill, Valerie was in fact a NOC, undercover. And she did operate extensively overseas."

      But not at the time of her exposure (by Richard Armitage, by the way, not by Karl Rove, as her husband at first insisted).

    • Valerie Plame was not a case officer, not operating overseas, and not operating under cover.

      Your statement that there is "more than enough evidence that what they do is not actually in the national interest," unsupported by a shred of evidence, speaks for itself. Just another unsubstantiated claim to support the Narrative.

    • "the CIA operatives were not behind enemy lines, so the physical danger to them may not have been that serious."

      Case officers operating under cover always face potential danger when they are exposed.

    • "Victor Marchetti, Philip Agee, and James Bamford also had been targeted for “persuasion” after they were about to – or did – go public with books revealing groundbreaking information on the U.S. intelligence community."

      Philip Agee does not belong in the same company with Marchetti and Bamford. Agee did much more than just reveal "groundbreaking information on the U.S. intelligence community." He, in fact, revealed the names of U.S. case officers in place at overseas stations, putting their lives at risk and damaging Intel operations at the same time. Agee committed an egregious act of endangerment to his former colleagues in the Intel community, and he deserved the prosecution he, unfortunately, never got, having lived out his years in self-exile in Cuba.

  • US Intel Officials keep Talking about Killing Snowden, then say "trust us with your data"
    • How many people contributing to various blogs and fora said the same thing about George W. Bush during his presidency? In the heat of discussion when emotions run high, many people have expressed similar sentiments about someone with whom they vehemently disagreed. But they did not mean it, any more than the anonymous individuals quoted by Mr. Masnick meant it regarding Snowden. This piece is a desperate attempt by Mr. Masnick to try and show how "dangerous" members of the intelligence community are. It won't wash.

  • Israel Tries to Bully Europe over Criticism of Planned 1800 Squatter Units on Palestinian Land
    • But that would take a majority in Congress with the guts to face down Israel and its supporters. "All it would take...?" I think your phrase misreads the likelihood of "all it would take."

    • "Israel will neither be supported on her terms as is the case now, nor without firmly enforced concessions so far as our national interests are concerned. The present situation is a pathetic humiliation of a great nation and we must put an end to her overreaching."

      Far easier said than done, given the pathetic, obsequious behavior of our leadership (both parties) toward the Israelis and their cat's paws in the U.S. for the last 47 years.

    • Mr. Koroi is absolutely correct. The French constructed the Maginot Line in the 1930s in response to the static warfare of the First World War. In 1940, the Germans simply outflanked the Line with their blitzkrieg attacks through Belgium, the Ardennes Forest, and the Low Countries. As a result, the Maginot Line has come to symbolize an ineffective defensive setup, something no one would want to emulate.

    • "Right now, Pollard has already served 28 years of that sentence and his release would be a good bargaining chip that the U.S. could play toward obtaining a final peace agreement with Israel on the Palestinian issue."

      Israel has put pressure on the U.S. to release Pollard because of their chutzpah and the fact that they have nothing to lose by doing so. That doesn't mean they will jeopardize their position on something as important as any final peace agreement by "bargaining" for terms of an agreement for Pollard, however. The U.S. would be foolish to even consider using Pollard as a "bargaining chip," as the Israelis would not allow his release to interfere with their hardline position, and they would throw the fact that we even considered using Pollard as a "bargaining chip" in the negotiations right back in our face. It's a nonstarter.

    • Israeli officials have not experienced half the offensive behavior that they have shown others. Defense Minister Yaalon's offensive remarks about John Kerry and Netanyahu's earlier studied offensive behavior when meeting with Obama are just the latest in a long history of rude, crude behavior against the United States and others.

      One particular irksome and offensive Israeli attempt to have its way with the U.S. is the pressure put on each new American president to commute Jonathon pollard's life sentence and allow him to settle in Israel. It will be recalled that Pollard spied for Israel (and others), giving Israeli officials highly classified information while working for the Naval Intelligence Command. Israel has even granted him citizenship! Now that is really offensive, given that Pollard has shown himself to be a turncoat and spy against the United States on behalf of Israel. Pollard deserves his life sentence, and so far it looks like he will serve it, no thanks to Israel.

      The 1967 attack on the USS Liberty has been discussed in detail in earlier comments. It, too, is an example of Israeli disregard for even its closest ally. And, unfortunately, it appears that U.S. officials have been complicit with Israel in not placing blame where it belongs.

      As far as I am aware, the only high-ranking U.S. official who has shown the guts to put an Israeli in his place was James Baker III, Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush. in 1990, Baker was working with the Israelis and Palestinians for an acceptable negotiating framework. The Israelis (then under Shamir) rejected it, and then-Deputy Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted as saying, "It is astonishing that a superpower like the United building its policy on a foundation of distortion and lies." Baker, in his book "The Politics of Diplomacy," writes, "His language was unacceptable for a senior diplomat from a friendly country. I promptly banned him from the State Department." Baker demonstrated he had cojones, something not many of our officials have shown when dealing with Israel.

  • Assange on Obama Speech: "Embarrassing," Dragged Kicking and Screaming to Reform by Snowden
    • A final thought on your snide suggestion that I should not be commenting on "Informed Comment," Mr. Levine. To an agile, active, and intelligent mind, there is nothing more boring or less satisfying than preaching to a choir of like-minded individuals who nod their heads in stupifying unanimity to comments with which they all agree. No person with high intellectual qualities would willingly subject himself to such lemming-like behavior, in which he considers thoughts and opinions with which he disagrees to be "ignorant.".

    • My dear Mr. Levine,

      I found my way here long ago because I appreciate Professor Cole's blog and the fact that he has no problem with opinions that occasionally differ from his own. Unlike you, he does not consider opinions with which he disagrees to be ignorant. Unlike you, Professor Cole recognizes diversity of thought and opinion as healthy.

    • What is patronizing is Assange holding forth on Obama's speech. President Obama's policies and method of execution are not always what I would like to see, but he is leagues above the likes of Assange. What a farce! Assange doesn't think that a public advocate on the FISA Court will have any effect! Assange doesn't even know how it would operate with a public advocate as a member, and he is already pontificating as if he were an insider. It is a travesty that any network would consider Assange's comments worthy of news.

  • America Black Ops Wars in 134 Countries
    • "Bill seems to presume that the U.S. is going to be in the business of micro-managing outcomes militarily in poor countries for the indeterminate future as if our natural default setting must be a form of out-back neoconservativism."

      And you are presumptuously assuming something I didn't write, Mr. Watson. My comment was simply to point out the absurdity of Mr. Turse's over-the-top, exaggerated statement that U.S. Special Operations Forces are engaged in "Black Ops Wars in 134 Countries." They are not. I meant nothing more and nothing less. That the vast majority of SOF troop deployments are for training purposes seems to have eluded Mr. Turse, and my comment was meant to point that out. We can have a discussion about when and where, or even if, SOF troops should be deployed, but your attempt to use my observation on Mr. Turse's exaggeration to flog your own views (that have nothing to do with what I wrote) is not the way to do it.

    • "America Black Ops Wars in 134 Countries"

      The sensationalist headline of Mr. Turse's piece notwithstanding, U.S. Special Operation Forces are not engaged in "Black Ops Wars in 134 countries." In most cases, they are on training missions, working with local forces to train them up on techniques, as well as to establish a degree of interoperability should it be necessary in the future.

      Breathless statements such as the above simply serve to undermine the credibility of some of the observations made in the piece.

  • Dubai Calls for End to Iran Sanctions, Says no Nuclear Threat
    • "A diplomatic solution, and overall diplomatic thaw, is the Holy Grail for the latter group, but a mortal threat to the agenda of the former."

      Unless I have misread your comment, Joe, shouldn't the two groups be reversed in your above-cited quote?

    • The interim agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran on initial steps to be taken by Iran regarding its nuclear program and the partial lifting of sanctions, to go into effect January 20, is a good first step. The tough part will be the negotiations for a final agreement that is acceptable to both the P5+1 and Iran.

      Sheik Mohammed al-Maktoum's confidence that Iran is not developing a nuclear weapons capability notwithstanding, an end to all sanctions against Iran should be contingent upon a final agreement acceptable to both parties. It is interesting that when Sheik Mohammed al-Maktoum asked former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about the possibility of an Iranian atomic bomb. The Iranian leader replied, “how many Palestinians would I kill?” in a hypothetical nuclear exchange between Iran and Israel. "Moreover," he said, "the US and the Europeans would nuke Iranian cities in reprisal attacks." This is an old rhetorical ruse that suggests there is no nuclear weapons program without actually denying that one exists. President Reagan's bottom line in negotiating an agreement with the Soviets, "Trust but verify," applies equally when negotiating an agreement with the Iranians.

  • NSA Bulk Surveillance has had no Impact on Fighting Terrorism
    • Treason is very specifically defined in Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution as "levying War against [the United States] or in adhering to [its] Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

      Neither Snowden nor the NSA is guilty of treason.

  • "Fox was Romney's War Room"; GOP being run by Fox News: Zucker & Gabriel Sherman Agree
    • I wrote that between Fox (right) and MSNBC (left), CNN is the closest (emphasis on "closest") thing we have to centrist news on cable. I would not think this need be said, but the news consists of much more than just reporting on the Near East and Israel.

    • With Fox on the right and MSNBC on the left, CNN really is the closest thing we have to centrist news on cable.

  • Ariel Sharon's Legacy for Israel and the Middle East
    • "Sharon’s most illustriuous moments came as a field general durng the 1973 Yom Kippur War when the troops largely reversed the gains made by the Egyptian Army after the IDF’s Bar-Lev defensive line had been overrun and he commanded a division that crossed the Red Sea and held a significant area of Egyptian land on its eastern bank while keeping the Egyptians at bay during artillery duels."

      Crossed the Red Sea??? He wasn't Moses, Mr. Koroi. He crossed the Canal.

  • Fox News: Christie Scandal Coverage pretext to Ignore Gates Revelations
    • "The difference is that Fox is a thousand times more powerful than Huffington"

      I believe Kathleen was referring to content, not the number of viewers and listeners. And in terms of content, she is spot-on. Huffington Post, MSNBC, and others of that persuasion are just as biased on the left as Fox is on the right. The news media, both cable and internet, both left and right, exist to advance an agenda, not report as unbiased and objectively as possible. That one or the other may have more adherents is irrelevant regarding the sorry state of the content, whether it be Fox or Huffington Post.

  • Top 5 US Government Decisions that put Troops more at Risk than Snowden Did
    • "There’s no point in a quixotic imprisonment under a Stalinist government with no rule of law when you can get out, which he did."

      To suggest that the United States is governed by a Stalinist" regime reveals how little you know about the Soviet Union under Stalin. Laughable! Utterly risible!

    • "He should have gone to some other country. Russia is not my idea of refuge especially under Putin."

      He should have remained in the United States and faced the consequences of his actions like other dissidents, whistle-blowers, and those who exposed what they perceived to be U.S. wrongdoing. Individuals such as Henry David Thoreau, Daniel Ellsberg, and Bradley Manning, to name just three of many, did not expose what they perceived to be wrongdoing, only to hide and cower behind the borders of another state.

      Snowden, on the other hand, has shown himself to be a poltroon, unable to stand on his own two feet and defend his actions in a court of law, and lacking the courage of his convictions (such as they are). That he skipped first to China and then to Russia just demonstrates what little regard he really has for combating what he no doubt terms "surveillance societies." Snowden could have shown some integrity and courage. As it is he has demonstrated that he lacks both.

  • Gatesgate: Why Obama was right to Distrust his Generals on Afghanistan
    • "That (extraterritoriality) is a provision which no foreign government will ever agree to under any circumstances."

      Well, no, Nathaniel, that is not the case. The Exemption from local jurisdiction of U.S. Forces not only applies to Germany and Japan, it applies to Korea, Belgium, the UK, Djibouti, and any where we have deployed forces. You should check the SOFAs for all countries where US forces are deployed, and you will find the exemption.

    • For the difference in Truman firing MacArthur and Obama firing McChrystal, see my reply to Hunter Watson above. The two acts of insubordination, and the context within which they occurred, could not have been more different. MacArthur's firing was much more important than McChrystal's, given the stakes involved during a "hot" Korean War that defined the Cold War at the time.

    • "And, like in every other government endeavor, the formal authority an actor may have is but one factor that comes into play in determining his behavior."

      But the president's formal authority as head of the Executive branch and Commander in Chief gives him the determining vote after taking in the advice of his Cabinet and advisers. He can choose to exercise that vote make a decision or he can stumble along, perhaps form a "commission" to study the problem. Or, worst case, he can act as Obama did during the run-up to the Russian plan for divesting Syria of chemical weapons: lob, don't lob, take it to Congress, stage left-"enter Putin."

      However the president chooses to act, it is ultimately up to him, for better or worse. Thus, the buck really does stop at his desk. Can't escape it.

    • "This makes no sense. It’s BOTH. Had Obama not made that request, Malaki’s inability to get it approved would have made no difference."

      But Obama did make it a condition of any SOFA that would take effect, as he should have. That Maliki could not budge his parliament does not mean Obama should have acquiesced. The Iraqi's chose their hardline position regarding exempting US forces from local jurisdiction. They knew we would not agree to negotiate away such an exemption. This is one case where I back Obama to the hilt. We won't suffer as a result of no approved SOFA and no troops in Iraq. We are better off for it. It is the Iraqis who come crying for help in suppressing the militants in Anbar. They could have chosen differently. That they maintained their position on the exemption provision means they will have to live with the consequences of their choice.

    • I repeat, Mr. Watson, Obama had a choice. He chose endless war and counter-insurgency. He could have pursued Joe Biden's strategy of counter-terrorism without getting bogged down in a ground war and "nation-building." It was Obama's choice.

      And Obama firing McChrystal for "les majeste was not in the same league as Truman firing MacArthur for insubordination during the Korean War. MacArthur's insubordination during a hot war that defined the Cold War at the time cannot compare with McChrystal's indiscretions and those of his drunken staff. Both should have been fired, but they do not compare in terms of importance.

    • "Though I’ll give you that given the history of the fate of a lot of CinCs in a lot of other Empires would give a person with a knowledge of that history and stuff like the “Business Plot” some pause in doing any “deciding.”

      I'll give you this, Mr. McPhee, by mentioning the "Business Plot" you managed to reference MG Smedley Butler without even mentioning his name. Kudos to you, and I really mean that. It appears we do share some interests, although I doubt we would agree on many conclusions. But I honestly liked your indirect reference to Butler.



    • "The previous SOFA of 2008 only passed parliament because the legal immunity clause was specifically limited to the end of 2011. There was never any prospect that parliament would extend it."

      I take your point, Professor Cole. It may well be that Maliki did not have a chance of getting the 2012 SOFA approved with the provision in question. But to place the blame for the failure on Obama for not negotiating away the provision exempting US forces from Iraqi legal and judicial jurisdiction is to misplace blame. No responsible US president would agree to a SOFA that did not exempt US forces from local jurisdiction.

      In the end, Maliki will have to live with the parliament's decision. We are better off not having US forces stationed in Iraq.

    • If by "impossible request" you are referring to the provision that U.S. forces be exempted from Iraqi legal and judicial jurisdiction, Obama could do nothing less. When U.S. forces are deployed, whether garrisoned in Germany, Japan, Djibouti, or other places; or whether in active combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, the provision exempting U.S. forces from local jurisdiction is standard in all SOFAs. Obama understood (as apparently others cannot) that that is a non-negotiable provision when U.S. forces are deployed.

      Maliki knew this, as the previous SOFA negotiated under the Bush Administration in 2008 contained the same provision. That Iraq would not approve the SOFA re-negotiated in 2012 is a reflection on Maliki and his inability to impose his political will and expend political capital within his own government. It is not a reflection on Obama making an "impossible request."

    • This is not "politics," as if Obama should be in campaign mode. This is national security, and "observer" is correct in noting that in these matters President Obama, as head of the executive branch and Commander in Chief, can accept or reject recommendations, or he can send them back for a further work-up. Likewise, he can retain or fire Cabinet secretaries, depending on how he views their recommendations and responses to his executive program. And that applies to his generals as well. The buck does indeed stop at the president's desk.

    • "It is now forgotten that Obama came into office in January of 2009 undecided about what course to pursue in Afghanistan."

      The notion that Obama was "boxed in" by his generals, and acquiesced in the counter-insurgency-"nation-building" project as a result sounds like a White House-Obama apologia and excuse foisted on the press at the daily briefing by Jay Carney. Obama had a choice. Joe Biden represented a clear choice with his idea of pursuing counter-terrorism wherever and however necessary to root out Al-Qaeda and its Taliban enablers, but not to get bogged down in an endless ground war and counter-insurgency program. Obama chose endless war and counter-insurgency. He did not have to acquiesce, but he did. It was his choice. The Commander in Chief cannot blame his generals. The buck stops at his desk.

      And his past remarks demonstrate that he really believed the war in Afghanistan was worth pursuing as a war. There are many instances where Obama indicated he felt the war in Afghanistan was worth pursuing. That he didn't have a clear idea how to proceed indicates his "community organizer" mindset, not the value of the pursuit itself. The following is extracted from an August 17, 2009 speech at the annual VFW convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

      " But we must never forget: This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity."

      Can you imagine Harry Truman blaming his generals for "boxing him in"? Hell no. Harry fired them!

  • Top Ten Things Bob Gates was Wrong about, Some Criminal
    • "Also, we haven’t won a war since Korea, despite having such an amazing military."

      We certainly prevailed against Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War by pushing him out of Iraq, which was the limit of our mandate. That was clearly a success. Some argue we should have pursued Saddam all the way to Baghdad, but that was never the intention or goal of the war; it was to restore Kuwait, and it was a success.

    • 1. Obama would not have made the speech had he not had high expectations that it would begin the process of a "reset" with the Muslim World. I think it demonstrated a lack of understanding of what drives the Muslim World's view of the U.S. Do we have greater influence in the Muslim Word today than we did in 2009? The question answers itself.

      2. The naivete regarding his initial demand that Israel cease building settlements was demonstrated by his thinking it might be effective. He would have not made the demand otherwise. It was clear to anyone who knew something about Israel that Obama's demand would be rejected. Everyone save Obama, of course.

      3. His response to Syrian chemicals did not lead to a straight-line elimination of those weapons. It was his indecisive bumbling, culminating in his daft idea to take it to Congress, that enabled the Russians to intervene with their plan. The Russians saved Obama from his own incompetence. Your continuing effort to call it an Obama success story is touching, though.

      4. About Obama's "reset" with Russia, it sure is going swimmingly isn't it? Putin sure works with us on issues of importance. It's just that, as is the case with Syria, he does it when he can further entrench his friend Assad in power. He has kicked out U.S. AID and various civil society NGOs. Some reset.

      But I do admire your persistence, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, in attempting to put a shine on Obama's legacy to date.

    • "'I am convinced' is the worst possible evidence one could possibly cite to back up an argument."

      It is not "evidence to back up an argument." The reason I was convinced, however, is because Obama and his team were so filled with hubris when they assumed power, and so sure that their "change of course" would result in a different perspective on the US by the Muslim World, that they thought the power of their words alone would sway history as much as it enthralled themselves. They brought no understanding of the international arena, much less the Muslim World, to the table, and the overall response of the Muslim World to Obama is what one would expect. No favors please.

      "As for Syria, as usual, you have to misstate history for your argument to make sense."

      My comment on Syria illustrates a timeline and an indecisive backing-and-forthing that is on the public record. The sequence I stated is exactly the sequence as it occurred. I know you want to believe it was Obama's plan all along. It was not. It was his and Kerry's indecisiveness (Lob missiles, don't lob missiles, take it to Congress) that enabled the Russians to advance a plan. And while Obama did not cite Assad's ouster as a "Red Line," he did cite Assad's ouster as a "must," and he did so on several occasions. And if you think Assad is not in a stronger position to maintain power now than when the brouhaha over chemical weapons began, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you!

    • "The failure of the U.S. and its allies was in neglecting to establish a stable government and civil infrastructure to help a devastated Afghan citizenry following 1992...."

      Sorry, Mr. Koroi, but you make the same mistake in analyzing events in post 1992 Afghanistan that both Presidents Bush and Obama made in their counter-insurgency and "nation-building" programs subsequently. There is no way the United States and its allies could have established a "stable government and civil infrastructure" in Afghanistan during the Clinton Administration, any more than they could or did during the Bush and Obama Administrations. The fundamental flaw in your analysis and conclusion is to assume that the United States could have accomplished the task without the Afghans having reached a certain level of development.

      History has shown time and again that "nation-building" from the outside always fails. It is only when the population of a country reaches a certain critical mass of a standard of living, middle class, political maturity, and higher level of sophistication that they bring pressure to bear on their structure to begin the process of political and economic maturity. Nothing can do it for them if they have not reached that critical mass that leads to the catalyst moving them forward.

      This old line that Afghanistan turned into a failed state because the U.S. abandoned it after the Soviets left is stale bread. It would have turned out no differently had we stayed, just as it has not advanced in any significant degree even after we have stayed there for the last 11 years, This is a false argument.

    • I agree with you, Mr. Watson. My reply was a response to "Bob h's" original post, which seemed to cynically suggest that only "Republicans" want to write books and cash in.

    • "Karzai is not just a wild card, he’s a double dealing two faced oriental puppet who needs to be put in his place. The British knew how to do this."

      They did? Have you read anything about the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842), when the British marched to Kabul with 4,500 officers and men, and 12,000 camp followers, in order to depose Emir Dost Mohammed and restore Shah Shuja to the throne? The failure of their mission, the retreat from Kabul, and the resulting slaughter of all save one British Army surgeon (Dr. William Brydon) is considered one of the worst catastrophes ever to befall the British. Afghanistan appears to be unique in that no outsider has ever been able to subdue or control it for very long.

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