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Total number of comments: 1253 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:38)

Bill

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  • Trump's Foreign Policy is just GOP Boilerplate, only more Confused
    • "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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