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Total number of comments: 43 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:12)

Billy Glad

Informed Comment supporter

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  • Pakistani family testifies to empty room on Hill about US Drone that killed Granny
    • Wondering if you have thoughts about al-Maliki's op-ed plea for Apache helicopters in the NYT this morning. Seems to me that going to the Times readership for support is about as hat in hand as it gets. Wouldn't he have better luck getting helicopters and other weapons from Iran?

  • Obama's Syria Strike Part of 'Broader Strategy' (Germanos)
    • So what is in America's "national interests" in Syria and what really poses a threat to America's security? It seems to me that if we really believe chemical WMD falling into the hands of our mortal enemy al-Qaeda is a threat to our security, we should be telling Assad to destroy his chemical WMD and we'll team up with the Russians to help him kill al-Qaeda in Syria. That would send a message to the ME that's consistent with American policy since 9/11. You can't make and keep WMD and you can't harbor al-Qaeda. Of course, such a solution to the crisis in Syria is unthinkable. But we need to understand why it is.

  • Israeli Press on Syria Delay: History will Mock Obama (OSC)
    • I can never decide if ME regimes really don't understand the destructive power of the US military in a desert war, or if they only pretend to not understand. Or maybe Gaddafi's fate made a lasting impression.

  • Westbrook: Half-Measures in Libya will Fail
    • To get some background on the Bradley Manning flap, I was watching The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009) last weekend, and I was struck by an audio clip of Richard Nixon, urging Henry Kissinger to think outside the box and support a plan to nuke Hanoi.

    • "Either our fight is worthy, and should be publicly espoused and prosecuted with vigor, or it is not worthy, and we should not engage. Hence my rule of thumb: if we are serious, we should be willing to put troops on the ground and fight."

      Who wants that? There aren't many people still alive who were of age in 1941, when the United States last went to war, but there are plenty of serious people who can imagine what it was like back then and what it would be like now if the United States waged war with what you call vigor. I don't think anyone in the world wants to see that. Or did you have something less vigorous in mind?

  • Questions for Glenn Greenwald on Libya and the end of NATO
    • These on-line dialogues often remind me of pro wrestling matches. Entertaining if you don't take them too seriously. I'm guessing this round ends with Professor Cole -- the title holder -- trying a flying head-butt and crashing into the ringpost when Mr. Greenwald steps aside. First fall to Greenwald who only needs to notice that, if what NATO -- or any other organization -- is doing is immoral, the US has no unqualified obligation to support it. As for going along to get along, one might argue that those who act out of conviction are more moral than those who act out of expediency. Following one's conscience is probably never a bad idea. I wouldn't count on Greenwald throwing round two, by the way.

  • Defections, US Withdrawal Point to Political Solution in Libya
    • Interesting perspective. I take one point to be that the goal of intervention to protect Libya's armed "rebels" might be limited to creating an environment in which non-violent resistance could take place without the demonstrators being slaughtered. In other words, NATO would attempt to create conditions under which the rebels could lay down their arms and organize politically, effectively ending the violence from both sides. That would be something to see.

  • Torpey: Support the Libyans but Don't Arm Them!
    • It's exciting to see what I'd call a kind of enlightened nationalism emerging at Informed Comment. It's a welcome relief from the denial of the validity of any kind of nationalism I usually encounter in the so-called progressive blogosphere. Lately, we've seen Dr. Coles "credentials" challenged from the left for precisely that reason. He seems capable of envisioning an American national interest of some kind that is actually worth fighting and dying for. I'd say this column furthers that meme. I first became aware of Dr. Cole and his work through his Senate testimony during the Iraq occupation. I find it difficult to imagine the people who are now attempting to read him out of the "progressive" movement testifying in front of a Senate subcommittee about anything. (Well, maybe as a Saturday Night Live skit.) We've all experienced the echo chambers that get erected around this or that blogosphere personality and the way they treat deviant thought. It was just this week that I realized how like an echo chamber the entire progressive blogosphere has become, and how quickly it can turn on anyone who dares suggest that nationalism isn't necessarily a crime.

  • Answer to Glenn Greenwald
    • That's certainly a saner and more respectful answer than I would have given Mr. Greenwald, and I oppose support for the Libyan rebels, because I believe non-violence is the answer in places like Palestine, and intervening on the side of violence -- not matter how justified it may seem at the time -- only delays he adoption of non-violence by liberation movements. The problem with jesuitical questions like Mr. Greenwald's is they never reflect the world as it is. Except in polemics land, no one gets to volunteer for just one fight. Once you're in, you belong to the major, and he can do with you as he wills. Mr. G often overlooks simple facts of life like that.

  • Former CIA Official Ray McGovern Defends Assange
    • To understand an issue, you have to get the language right, to literally know what you're talking about. Assange is no journalist, but he is a publisher who should have the same protections -- no more and no less -- that other publishers have. The Swedish charges are a separate issue entirely. Sex shouldn't be a death-defying act. Forcing women to have unprotected sex or to continue sex without protection endangers their lives. What if Assange is HIV positive? I can see why two women, comparing notes on a guy they've just found out is promiscuous, would be pissed off if he'd forced both of them to have unprotected sex.

  • Fareed Zakaria Destroys Beck on Lunatic Islamophobia
    • Thanks for a video that deserves to go viral. We went down to Chicago for a couple of days last Christmas and landed in the middle of the MAS-ICNA convention at the Hyatt. I shudder to think what that would have been like if Glenn Beck's numbers were anything more than a figment of his overheated imagination. How many Muslims were at the Hyatt? Say 5,000. That means I was surrounded by 500 terrorists! And when we crowded into an elevator with 10 or 20 Muslims, we were standing right next to 1 or 2 terrorists. My knees go weak, thinking of the danger we were in without knowing it. No wonder Juan Williams gets scared on airplanes. Glenn Beck probably shared those amazing statistics with him.

  • Obama Should Let the UN apply Economic Sanctions to Israel
    • @Adam
      Did you read Roger Cohen in the Times today on The "Real Jew" Debate? I'm sorry if it offends you to hear that someone thinks Americans may start thinking of Israel as "just another Middle Eastern country," but maybe you should consider the behavior that might bring Americans to think that. If you've been to Israel, you may have noticed the younger Israelis aren't as European as their parents or grandparents were. Or did you?

    • I doubt AIPAC would let him do that. I think someday Americans are going to realize that Israel is just another Middle Eastern country, not a bastion of Western culture and democracy in the Middle East. When that happens -- and not until then -- we may see some balance in our treatment of the various factions.

  • Why our Afghanistan War Dead don't Seem to be News
  • Demonstration outside US Base in Afghanistan against Quran-Burning Turns Violent
    • It's tempting to think of the demonstrators who have bought into Taliban propaganda as ignorant peasants, until you remember Palin, Beck, Murdoch and the Tea Party.

  • Afghans Demonstrate Against US Quran-Burning That Never Happened
    • The ability to turn out a protest on short notice might be a good indication of the strength of political organizations in the area of the protest. It takes time to make those signs.

  • Top Ways 9/11 Broke Islamic Law
    • From the AP this morning re the proposed community center. "Muslim prayer services are normally held at the site, but it was padlocked Friday and would be closed Saturday, the official end of the holy month of Ramadan. Police planned 24-hour patrols of the site until next week. Worshippers on Friday were redirected to a different prayer room 10 blocks away." Depressing.

  • Top Stories More Important than Quran-Burning Nut Job
    • Seriously. The US has a secular government. Do demagogues like Palin and Beck use religion? Of course they do, but Johnnie doesn't go marching off to war under the banner of Christ anymore, and any American president or Congress that tried to launch a religious war would have a net thrown over them fast. Bush's idea that he had been "called" to lead America at the time of 9/11, a meme echoed by Jones, never got much traction here. And I can't think of a single influential American who has not condemned Jones. No, I haven't read the blogs you read. I don't read the ones that enumerate so-called Muslim atrocities either. Frankly, one of the drawbacks to blogs of all kinds and to citjour in general is knowing whom to believe about what. But I'm not talking about what I believe or what you believe, I'm talking about how most Americans perceive the way the Taliban, Iran, and "extremist" Islamic groups or terrorist organizations use religion.

      Even the Terry Jones outrage is instructive. Salon, for example, makes the point that General Petraeus' comments, which set off the media feeding frenzy in the US, were only made because the Jones story was sweeping through the Muslim media and blogosphere already. I completely agree with your point that religion and the use of religion has to be seen in context. I'm just suggesting that Muslim leaders accept their fair share of responsibilty for the fact that religion and politics are too conflated in the Muslim world. The impact on American public opinion of state-imposed floggings and stonings, justified by religious law, for example, should be obvious, as should the fact that anti-American statements coming out of the Muslim world are constantly cast in religious terms. Dr. Cole often points out, persuasively, that the real reasons for the 9/11 terrorist attacks had nothing to do with religion. I wish most Americans read Dr. Cole and other writers who try to keep the Muslim world in perspective for the rest of us. But they don't.

    • All good points, especially about the real grievances our opponents in the Middle East have. And you're right, of course, to mention Palin and Huckabee. Although they denounced Jones, they're just as blatantly provocative in their own ways -- as is Glenn Beck. Yet, I can't escape the thought that Western countries like the United States have managed to evolve beyond the limits of the religions on which they were "founded."

      I think you have a better frame of reference than most Americans, whose exposure to the Middle East and Islam is mainly in the context of the occupation of Iraq, will ever have.

    • I think it's almost impossible for Americans to ignore the fact that religion is being used against us throughout the Muslim world. There is no doubt that American soldiers have killed innocent Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they don't shout "In the name of Christ" or "Christ is great!" while they do it. Imagine if, in the leaked video of Apache helicopters gunning down Iraqis, the gunners had been chanting about the grapes of wrath and God's swift sword. And, at the state level, it's hard to separate the nationalism of a theocracy like Iran from the Shiite version of Islam, not because we conflate the two, but because they constantly do. The insistence of Muslims on conflating nationalism with religion makes all of us vulnerable to the insanity of misfits like Jones.

  • They used to Burn Catholic Churches, now they Burn Mosques
    • It seems to me the First Amendment is more concerned with making sure the Congress can't interfere with religion than with making sure we don't burn each other's churches down. There are plenty of state laws punishing that crime. I suppose if there were some states that refused to prosecute mosque burning, the federal government might step in and prosecute for violation of civil rights. But we haven't even gotten as far as banning burquas or minarets, let alone organizing to burn mosques. I'm not sure fire-bombing a piece of construction equipment at the site of a mosque quite reaches the level of "mosque burning." Book burning is bad enough, though, and you are right to notice that people who are willing to burn books may be just as willing to burn people.

  • Was Amiri a Double Agent who Hyped Iran's Nukes?
    • I think most observors appreciate the sophistication of Iran's intelligence agency, but tend to underestimate the CIA and other US agencies' talents when it comes to the back and forth of gaming scenarios at a desperate level. Personally, I suspect the ultimate invasion of Iran and replacement of its Shiite regime was planned well before the invasion of Iraq. Without those plans in place and a high level of confidence in them, Iraq might not have been invaded. It's always tempting to think of the CIA as fools who didn't realize the most likely outcome of the Iraq invasion would be Iranian dominance of at least Southern Iraq. My take is they knew it would happen, but considered that outcome to be "temporary." The end game is now at hand.

  • 7 NATO Troops Killed;
    as Karzai is Said to Dicker with Insurgents;
    and Panetta Scoffs
    Taliban Rejoice in McChrystal Firing
    • I had an old Toyota SR-5 pickup that developed some electrical problems, so I got the repair manual and studied the schematic of the electrical system -- then I opened the hood and was confronted by the most confusing and impossible to follow mess of wires I ever saw. The real world under the hood looked nothing like the schematic in the repair manual. Most sources feed us the schematic. More and more I appreciate the fact that you give us a peek under the hood in places like Afghanistan.

  • Public Souring on the Afghanistan War
    • For a long time now, I've advocated pulling out of Afghanistan completely and seeing what happens. To be completely honest, I don't have any idea what will happen if we do that. And I don't recall anyone else who advocates pulling out having a very clear vision of what will happen next, either. I'd be interested in knowing what you think will happen over the next couple of years if we pull out of Afghanistan completely. I already know what is likely to happen if we don't pull out, so I'm not asking about the likely consequences of staying engaged in Afghanistan either to pursue the so-called COIN strategy or the counter-terrorism alternative. What I really want to know is what you think will happen if we come home.

  • Lessons of Petraeus' Iraq for Petraeus' Afghanistan
  • McChrystal Drama is Sideshow;
    Can Obama define a realistic Goal?
    • "where the officer corps gets its promotion-worthy combat cred"

      Quite a valuable insight. The CIB is of immense value to the officer corps.

      As far as realistic goals go, I think the one achievable goal is keep Afghanistan from degenerating into a Somalia-like failed state. The problem is, the only realistic way to do that is to stalemate the Taliban. But that could lead to a 100 year occupation ala John McCain, and I doubt the American electorate is ready for that yet. Maybe they will be if Afghanistan ends up divided like Korea, with American troops garrisoning one part and the Taliban in control of the other. We seem to understand that kind of arrangement.

    • Well, McChrystal got it all in on his way out. Not enough troops, arbitrary deadline imposed by the President, Eikenberry stabbed Karzai in the back to cover his own ass, and Biden is stupid. Obama will have to give Petraeus a better hand to play. Question is: Will he get more troops or a flexible timeframe to work in? Will Obama ditch Eikenberry? Petraeus is probably stuck with Biden same as we are.

  • Obama's MacArthur Moment? McChrystal Disses Biden
    • This could be very interesting. As you know, when Truman fired him, the country gave MacArthur a ticker-tape parade and Congress gave him a forum to criticize Truman's policies. McChrystal is not the national hero MacArthur was, of course, and firing him should be a no-brainer that doesn't involve much political risk, except for the fact that the Republicans are bound to start bellowing "who lost South Asia and the Middle East?" as soon as Southern Iraq falls to Iran and the Taliban return to power in Afghanistan. McChrystal has been recalled to DC to "explain" himself. I think that people who advocate the Biden plan for Afghanistan may be missing the possibility -- in fact, the probability -- that we will follow up on the targeted strikes with muscle on the scale of "shock and awe" if the Taliban regain control of the country.

  • US Strike Kills Civilians in Khost,
    Bombings Rock Helmand Capital
    UN: Roadside Bombings Double
    • On the other hand, the UN report says most victims of the increased violence in Afghanistan continue to be civilians, and the proportion of those killed by the Taliban, rather than the government or its NATO allies, rose to 70 percent from mid-March through mid-June. In the previous three months, the United Nations blamed insurgents for 67 percent of civilian deaths.

      The report depicted a concerted effort by insurgents to deliberately single out civilians. “Insurgents followed up their threats against the civilian population with, on average, seven assassinations every week, the majority of which were conducted in the south and southeast regions,” it said.

      The difference between the war on terrorism and previous wars is that -- rightly or wrongly -- we view the populations of the countries we're fighting in as "hostages" to tyrannical regimes and are attempting to "liberate" them at the same time that we kill the tyrants.

      I imagine most of us are aware of the irony inherent in that view of the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      I think we should just come home and start over. See what happens. But I suspect we'll end up in the same dilemma again, sooner rather than later.

  • Twin Oil Disasters: BP and Iraq
    Bloody Friday in Iraq Leaves 27 Dead, over 80 Wounded
    • I keep thinking about your Senate testimony at the beginning of the occupation. Anyone reading that, and I'm sure the Bush administration did, would have realized that the outcome of the occupation -- in the South, at least -- was going to favor Iran. I think Bush and company knew that going into the invasion. One of the analysts at the Center for American Progress told me back then that Cheney was actually advocating knocking Iraq down and letting someone else pick up the pieces, but Bush chose a nation-building strategy instead. So I think the chess game is more complicated than it seems. Maybe the end game will be designed to control Iraq's oil, but I see the invasion as a gambit in a strategy designed to bring down Iran. We're offering Southern Iraq as a pawn Iran can't afford to take.

  • Turkey Shelves Israeli Cooperation,
    Considers breaking off Ties;
    Israel Lobbies in Congress denounce Ankara
  • Obama Launches Green Equivalent of Moon Mission
    • The comparison of Obama's Green initiative to Kennedy's space initiative is a telling one. What, I wonder, would have happened if Kennedy had tried to reach the moon using tax incentives loans to the private sector? The Kennedys understood the role of government in a way Obama does not.

  • Big Oil's Predations are not Your Fault
    • The market economy was created in England in the early 1800's with the repeal of the Speenhamland laws. The industrial economy emerged even later, around 1850 or so. Neither markets nor industry as we know it have been around long enough for us to guess how permanent they'll be. In the history of the world, less than 200 years is a fleeting moment. Time heals all wounds.

  • Meh story about $1 Trillion in Minerals in Afghanistan
    • What interests me about the valuation of Afghanistan's mineral deposits is the timing of the announcement and the fact that General Petraeus was involved. The report follows close on the heels of the London School Of Economics report that publicized Pakistan's continued support for the Taliban in Afghanistan just as the Kandahar offensive is getting underway. The revelation of the fact that Pakistan has been playing both ends against the middle in Afghanistan is likely to erode support for the occupation by reminding the American public once more how complicated and difficult the task of nation building in South Asia really is. As you may recall, General Petraeus contended in his famous Counter Insurgency Manual that it was a failure of the will of the American people that caused us to give up on Vietnam. My guess is Petraeus is trying to put some iron -- and some gold and lithium -- into our spines.

  • Palestinians Need a State: Loosening Blockade is not Enough
    • I can't express this precisely, but I can imagine the West Bank as an independent state or as a state or region in Israel, governed by the Palestinian Authority, but I can't envision the same relationship between Israel and a Gaza, governed by Hamas. I think the problem for me is that Hamas never maintained the same separation in fact or in the imagination of the world between it's political wing and its military wing that the Irish maintained between Sinn Féin and the IRA in Northern Ireland, for example. Difficult for me to see how Israel tolerates an independent Gaza or incorporates Gaza as a state as long as it is governed by Hamas.

  • Tel Aviv Rally Against Gaza Blockade;
    Wave of Protests, Gov't Condemnation
    • But, surely, that's the whole point. It is the brutal suppression of non-violent protest that passive resistance seeks to provoke. It might help if Islamic religious leaders would put death in non-violent resistance on the same level as death in violent resistance. What doesn't help is counseling Palestinians to give up on non-violence because it provokes exactly the response from the Israelis it's supposed to provoke.

    • I'm sorry. Make that 3 years ago for Lowenstein's article. I guess time flies when you're having fun.

    • I agree that "If the Palestinian leadership can restrain the radicals among them and go on cultivating non-violent tactics like the growing boycott of goods made by West Bank colonies, and preferring to import Turkish goods, they may finally have a winning formula." I'm just not sure what they can win at this point.

      I am constantly reminded of the Palestine-Israel Action Group (Ann Arbor Quakers) map you published in March. You wrote: "The Israelis have steadily and determinedly usurped Palestinian territory throughout the last nearly a century, and by now it is highly unlikely that what is left of the Palestinian West Bank and the besieged, half-starving Gaza Strip can plausibly be cobbled together into a ‘state.’"

      And, it was two years ago that Jennnifer Loewenstein, wrote Brothers In Arms, The Triumph of US/Israeli Policy in Palestine, her thought-provoking CounterPunch article about Israel's strategy in Palestine. (I believe I followed a link from Informed Comment to the article.)

      In the article, she writes about the apparent Hamas "victory" in Gaza: "While no one can foresee all of the events that might take place in a region as volatile as the Middle East, Hamas' takeover in Gaza will ultimately benefit Israel and the United States. It will benefit Israel by giving it a free hand to destroy Hamas, permanently sever the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, and re-'negotiate' with its newly appointed 'partners' the remaining islands of economically unviable territory that will soon be entirely encircled by a concrete and barbed-wire wall, cut off from their supplies of water and fertile land, and separated internally by 'Arab-free' roads.

      Isn't that just what has happened?

  • Eyewitnesses Say Israelis came in with Guns Blazing
    • "With four commandos captured by the aid activists and with boarding the ship now difficult, Israeli commanders appear to have authorized the use brute force."

      The problem with violent resistance, no matter how it may have been provoked, is it muddies the water and gives our oppressors a way to justify their own violence. In this case, the Israeli commanders can argue that they authorized the use of brute force because their commandos had been taken hostage.

      If the activists had been strictly non-violent, if they had chained themselves to the rails and wheels of the ships, for example, Israel's responsibility for any violence would have been indisputable.

      This in no way excuses the brutality of the Israelis. If American commanders can risk American lives in Afghanistan by following rules designed to protect Afghan civilians, the Israeli commanders should have the courage to follow rules that protect the lives of people protesting Apartheid in Gaza. But, in my opinion, the Palestinians' best hope for isolating Israel from the West is non-violent resistance.

      It will be interesting to see what happens on the Rachel Corrie this afternoon.

  • The Hypocrisy of Netanyahu
    • This is useful in so many ways. I wonder what would happen if Israel and all of the Arab states surrounding Israel offered the Palestinians a path to citizenship. I suppose that would kill the two-state solution, which, for some reason, all of the actors appear to want to keep alive. Thank you for one of your best articles.

  • Eyewitnesses Confirm Israeli Gunplay;
    Egypt's lifting of the Blockade likely Temporary
    • As one of the "white kids" who was there, I beg to differ. It was Dr. King's courageous decision to put little black kids in front of Southern police dogs that turned American public opinion around -- yours excepted apparently. If there is a lesson there, it's a lesson for the Palestinians.

  • World Condemns Brutal Israeli Assault on Humanitarian Convoy
    • The condition of our democracy is certainly degraded, and you're right about the msm's dependence upon think tank interpretations of reality, but university researchers, like all historians, generally depend on first-hand reports, including news reports, to provide the factual basis for their analysis as well. I think the gradual shift from professional reporting to citizen journalism is more significant in the long run than the dominance of right wing analysts like Krauthammer, for example, on so-called news shows. Citjour on the web is providing historians and news analysts of all kinds with a fresh look at the real world.

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