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Total number of comments: 21 (since 2013-11-28 16:32:35)

Bill

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  • Pakistani family testifies to empty room on Hill about US Drone that killed Granny
    • The October 31 edition of the Washington Post has a very interesting article on drones, noting that, "The Pakistani Government said Wednesday [October 30] that three percent of the people killed in US drone strikes since 2008 were civilians." The article continues: The number, which was provided by the Defense Ministry to lawmakers, is much lower than past government calculations and estimates by independent organizations." According to the Ministry, 317 drone strikes have killed 2,160 Islamic militants and 67 civilians since 2008.

      This latest estimate coming from the Pakistani Government has thrown Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Raporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, into a bit of a tizzy, as it differs from the much higher figures given to him by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry. This could serve to blunt Mr. Emmerson's little vendetta against the United States, and he has called on the Pakistani Government to explain the discrepancy.

  • Rights Groups: Some US Drone Strikes are War Crimes (Oldroyd)
    • Mustapha Qadri appeared on the PBS News Hour this evening and continually flogged the killing of the 68 year old grandmother, Mamana Bibi. She was the only named example he used, and he acted as if he were certain her killing was a "war crime." Qadri offered no possibility that her death was a mistake or that the drone was meant for a terrorist and inadvertently hit her.

      Amnesty's report suggests that those that were interviewed wanted to reveal the killings, thus indicating that they were a self-selected group with an agenda. In short, Mr. Qadri and the Amnesty report cannot be considered completely unbiased, and the killing of the 68 year old grandmother alone is a pretty thin reed upon which to base a charge of a "war crime."

  • Saudi Arabia in Unprecedented Withdrawal from UN Security Council over Syria, Palestine
    • "Well, it's kinda in the interests of the milliion or more Bangalis serving there as de facto slaves, isn't it?"

      Not only Bangalis, Brian, but Filipinos, Indonesians, and others serving as indentured servants and near "de facto slaves," as you put it. The flaw in your argument is assuming that the situation exists because of the royal family. It does not. Saudi Arabs are probably the most arrogant of all in the Arab world. It has nothing to do with the royal family. It is a result of an attitude that they are the heartbeat of the Arab World and the keepers and protectors of Islam's two most holy sites. That attitude, and their sense of superiority toward other "lesser beings," would exist without the royal family.

  • The Hubris of the Syria Interventionists
    • "Try John McCain and Lindsey Graham; that is, the people who were calling for direct US intervention for years before the chemical weapons attack, and continue to call for it today."

      John McCain and Lindsey Graham notwithstanding, Bill H makes a very important point in that both Susan Rice and Samantha Powers have long been supporters of intervention for humanitarian purposes. Both have been critical of the US for not intervening in Rwanda, and both have made the case for intervening in Syria. They are what are known as "humanitarian hawks," i.e., they place a high premium on intervention if it involves humanitarian goals, even if it does not involve US national interest.

    • The United States has many times provided military assets and manpower to assist in humanitarian disasters overseas. None of them had anything to do with "military victory."

      After the 2004 Tsunami that wreaked havoc in Sumatra, Indonesia, the US initially dispatched P-3C Orion patrol aircraft and an aircraft carrier to assist with relief operations.

      After the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, the US military provided helicopter support to deliver relief supplies to the victims, as well as a MASH type field hospital to assist the wounded.

      There are many more examples of the US providing military assets to assist victims of disasters worldwide. It hardly requires a "military victory" to justify these activities.

  • The World after the Kerry-Lavrov accord on Syria
    • "Mine revolves around the pursuit of concrete ends, and has very little to do with the sort of language one might use when discussing a fashion show or an erectile dysfunction medication."

      Mine involves the pursuit of concrete ends as well, Joe, but with a clear plan of attack to reach those ends. Obama lurched from one tactic to another, forward and reverse, seemingly unsure how to proceed in his "strike" against Syria. That he did reach the current agreement with Russia is due as much to the Russians pulling his irons out of the fire as to his own initiative.

      Obama's approach to Syria in this affair, coupled with Russia's entering into the minuet with him, reminds me of nothing so much as Bismarck's comment:

      "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America."

      God no doubt was looking over Obama's shoulder during this affair.

  • Bradley Manning in a World of Cheneys, Hadithas, and NSA Domestic Surveillance
    • "Still a form of total surveillance..."

      More accurately, perceived total surveillance, rather than the reality of total surveillance.

  • Greenwald Partner falsely detained as Terrorist: How to Create a Dictatorship
    • "What about if the NSA stole the documents from us in the first place?"

      First of all, I don't think any of us knows what was on the thumb drive that Greenwald's partner was carrying, so we don't know if it was "ours" or not. Second, to "steal" something is considered theft, and theft is unlawful. To my knowledge, the NSA's metadata collection and Prism program have not been deemed unlawful by an legal authority or court, and therefore the material cannot be considered "stolen."

    • "In awarding Miranda his liberty after nine hours, the UK had no right to confiscate any of his possessions..."

      Wrong. You have that exactly backwards. It was Mr. Greenwald's partner who had no recognized "right" to transit the UK in the possession of highly classified intelligence that was unlawfully passed on by Snowden. UK intelligence obviously, and correctly, works with US intelligence, and for the UK to intercept a "courier" for Greenwald was legitimate. And don't use the "journalist" defense, as Greenwald's partner was not recognized as a legitimate journalist or member of the media. He was a courier for Greenwald, and he was caught with unlawfully obtained, highly classified intelligence.

  • Top Ten Things that don't Make Sense about NSA Surveillance, Drones and al-Qaeda
  • Gitmo comes Home to America: Torture, Gag Orders and Legal Dirty Tricks have Corrupted the System (Brittain)
    • "They...prevent defense lawyers from speaking about their clients. It was for a breach of these special measures in relation to her client, the imprisoned blind sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, that lawyer Lynne Stewart was tried and sentenced to 10 years in prison in the Bush years."

      Lynne Stewart was indicted and convicted for a much greater offense than just "speaking about her client." Stewart had accepted the condition that, in order to be allowed to meet with Abdel-Rahman in prison, she would not use their meetings to pass messages between third parties and Abdel Rahman. According to a federal grand jury indictment, Stewart along with interpreter Mohamed Yousry, an adjunct professor in Middle East studies at York College CUNY, passed messages between Abdel-Rahman and his supporters in violation of the SAM.

      Stewart was accused in the indictment of passing Abdel-Rahman's blessing for a resumption of terrorist operations to Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya members in Egypt. According to video surveillance of Abdel-Rahman’s cell Stewart, Yousry and Abdel-Rahman had been tricking the guards into believing that Stewart and Abdel-Rahman were having a routine conversation relating to his case, when Abdel-Rahman was dictating statements to Yousry with Stewart joking that she should get an award for acting. Stewart knowingly aided and abetted Abdel-Rahman's terrorist activities and, as a result, received the conviction she so richly deserved.

  • How America Became Orwellian: A Short History of Big Brother Sam (ProPublica)
    • "In the past, the government has taken a dim view of disgruntled former personnel who have disclosed confidential matters or criticized the Agency. The Department of State in 1981 won a case in the U.S. Supreme Court against former CIA officer Philip Agee, who authored “Inside the Company: A CIA Diary” to revoke his passport. He eventually died in Cuba."

      Philip Agee did not just disclose confidential matters and criticize the Agency. Agee disclosed the names of CIA case officers and agents operating overseas, putting their lives in danger.

  • Republicans not liked, even by 25% of . . . Republicans
    • "It turns out that 25% of Republicans don’t like their own party."

      Reminds me of that great line by Groucho Marx:

      "I would never join a club that would have me as a member."

  • Chuck Hagel Mauled in Bizarro World of US Senate
    • I support Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense and agree with most of his basic positions. (Although I disagreed then and now with his 2007 characterization of the "Surge" in Iraq as "the greatest foreign policy blunder since Vietnam.")

      Nevertheless, I thought he performed poorly at the hearing. Yes, he was under fire, but he appeared hesitant, backtracked occasionally, and at times seemed much less sure-footed than I would have expected. I just did not think he appeared to be well-prepared for what he must have known would be some rough questioning.

  • Russia slams Israeli bombing of Syria as Violation of UN Charter
    • "Firstly, I do not believe that Western powers abandoned Russia following the Nazi invasion of Poland -Britain and Canada immediately declared war on Germany in 1939. America set up a supply line to the Soviets via Murmansk."

      Some history is in order here. Britain declared war on Germany after Germany's 1 September 1939 invasion of Poland because it had a defense treaty with Poland, not in solidarity with the Soviet Union. Since 23 August 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany had (cynically!) been signatories to the Nazi-Soviet Non-agrresion Pact. In fact, pursuant to the Pact's secret protocols, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the East on 17 September. Hitler and Stalin were in this together at the time.

      America did not set up a supply line to the Soviets via Murmansk after the Germans invaded Poland, as the Soviet Union and Germany were partners in territorial aggrandizement under the above-mentioned Nazi-Soviet Pact. It was only after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, thus abrogating the Nazi-Soviet Non-agreesion Pact, that Stalin became an ally of the Western Alliance, and America (and Britain) began the supply line to Murmansk. Prior to that, Stalin and Hitler were allies (although much like two scorpions in a bottle).

    • "then the Western encouragement of the White Russian counterrevolution against the October Revolution of the Bolsheviks that sparked civil war,...as well as Western unwillingness to help the Soviet Union oppose the expansionist Nazi Germany both before and after the German invasion of Poland"

      Two comments on the above-cited quotes from your post.

      A. Western opposition to the Bolsheviks was a reaction to the very real program of Lenin and the Bolsheviks to encourage a communist revolution in Europe and the West. Lenin thought that it was necessary for European-wide revolutions to occur in order for the Soviet Union to succeed as a communist state. This program of encouragement of revolution in the West and subversion of European governments was imbedded in the Communist International (COMINTERN), led by Moscow. It would be a misreading of history to view this period as a poor, beleaguered Soviet Union being a victim of the West. They brought it on themselves through their active program of attempting to subvert Western governments.

      B. Regarding Western unwillingness to help the Soviet Union oppose the expansionist Nazi Germany both before and after the German invasion of Poland, you are operating from a flawed premise. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact on 23 August 1939. It was a non-aggression pact that included secret protocols that granted to both Germany and the USSR their territorial ambitions. On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and on 17 September 1939, the USSR invaded Poland from the east, in accordance with the secret protocols. Subsequently, the Soviet Union annexed the Baltic states and Bessarabia and Bukovina from Romania, also in accordance with the secret protocols of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Thus, from 23 August 1939, until 22 June 1941, when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, a period which includes periods before and after the German invasion of Poland, the Soviet Union and Germany were complicit in the invasion of Poland and expanding both countries' territorial ambitions. It makes no sense to suggest that the West was unwilling to help the Soviet Union oppose the expansionist Nazi Germany during this period, as both were parties to a pact that each saw in its own interest.

    • "The Kremlin can keep changing the flag every few decades, but Russian foreign policy will always be Russian foreign policy."

      Spot on observation, Joe. It has been thus since the early 19th century, from the time of the Czars, through the Soviet era, and continues today. Russian foreign policy has been remarkably consistent throughout. The Soviet period simply added an ideological component to it.

    • "Israel’s motivation may well have been to put Iran on notice not to try to take advantage of the Syrian chaos."

      I fail to see your logic in assuming there is some advantage that could accrue to Iran as a result of Syrian chaos. Iran's interests lie in the opposite direction, in a stable Syria under their ally Assad.

  • Al-`Awlaqi Should have been Tried in Absentia
    • "It isn’t a war, folks. Stop pretending it is."

      Your are wrong, Professor. It is war. See my post above. Wars are, and have been through0ut history, conducted by both state and non-state actors.

    • You, as well as Professor Cole and 90 percent of the respondents on this site, are wrong and don't even realize why you are wrong. You needn't feel any remorse that Al-Awlaqi was killed, without a trial, by a hellfire missile.

      A. Al-Awlaqui was not some thug who knocked off a Seven-Eleven convenience store; he was an unlawful enemy combatant who did not follow the Geneve Conventions on War. Even as an American citizen, he did not have the right to be convicted in a court of law before being put to death for his unlawful acts in a time of war, when he was fighting on the enemy's side. It has been a principle in the Law of War that an unlawful enemy combatant, even if an American citizen, does not have special rights.

      B. To those, including Professor Cole, who think that non-state organizations and entities do not wage "war," you are simply wrong. The "state" as we know it only came into being with the Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years War in 1648, yet war existed long before, stretching back centuries before the Common Era. Al-Qaeda and its
      affiliates constitute organizatins that certainly qualify as entities capable of waging war against5 the United States. They make no excuses for it and freely admit it.

      C. Congress authorized action against those who wage war against the Unite States. That Al=Awlaqi was taken out by a Hellfire missile was entirely legal and appropriate. Those who argue otherwise simply do not understand the laws of warfare.

  • Saudi Women's Vote: Does it Go Far Enough?
    • "Islamic law gives women extensive property rights (unlike in Europe, women did not lose control of their property to their husbands when they married). The real question is whether the Gulf societies can, after 1400 years, catch up to the rights granted women in Islam."

      Let's not get carried away regarding the rights of women under Islamic Law. Consider the following:

      A. Women may inherit only one-half of that inherited by their male siblings.

      B. In Sharia Court, the testimony of two women is required in order to equal that of one man.

      C. Perhaps most egregiously, if a woman is raped and wants to bring charges in Sharia Court, she must produce four male witnesses to the rape. (It is as if rape were a spectator sport!) If the woman cannot produce four male witnesses, she herself is charged with adultary.

      Islam has a considerable distance to go before it can be considered modern and equal in its approach to women.

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