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  • Iran Deal: Why doesn't US Media interview Real Allies on American Policy?
    • Here are some other pertinent issues. Why does even MSNBC mostly interview politicians or other journalists on this issue? They bring in Colonel Wilkerson who is a sensible voice, but even he is a Republican. How about someone like Professor Cole or Professor Bacevich? Why don't they talk to real foreign policy experts? As far as our allies and the deal, here's something that has gotton very little notice. The sanctions aren't effective without Russia and China and there is no deal without effective sanctions. So, it is really the position of Russia and China which drove this to fruition. Here's the important question. Why was Putin willing to cooperate on an Iran deal, which helps the US, but does not do that much for them, since they could trade with Iran and ignore the sanctions? I think upon reflection people should be amazed that we got Russia to go along at the same time that we are imposing sanctions on them over Ukraine. I cannot think of a similar situation in history. This is diplomacy of the highest order by Obama and his team. My guess is that we are holding back vis-a-vis the Ukraine in exchange for Russian cooperation on Iran. There has to be some quid pro quo and I think it is a smart choice by Obama to make such a trade-off.

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL?
    • What makes you say that? Since the US saved them from Saddam they have been close allies of the US and they have opened up Kurdistan to private development.

    • They will fight fiercely to protect Kurdistan. They have no reason to fight for the Shiite government in Baghdad.

    • We've had success in training the militaries in Central and South America. Unfortunately, that training has most often led to the slaughter of ethnic minorities and civilians in the name of fighting terrorists and/or giving impetus to top officers to overthrow civilian governments in coups. They get all this US training and they think it qualifies them to run a country. They very rarely are.

    • If one thing should be obvious since WWII, it is that even major powers are very limited in how they can control and/or change events in other countries. For every successful outcome, there are probably ten unsuccessful ones. One's attitude, wishes, or hopes cannot change that.

    • For a government to be successful, especially in a developing country, the government must be seen by the populace to be legitimate and effective. It is obvious that in Iraq large parts of the population don't see the government as being either one of those things. Most governments are overthrown not because the opposition is strong, but because the existing government is so weak and not popular.

    • Guerrilla forces cannot beat tanks. Traditional guerrilla forces are best used in areas with a lot of cover where only small arms can be employed. The only downside of a tank in an urban environment is if the streets are too narrow for the tanks to maneuver in. Also, guerrilla warfare is usually fought by small groups using ambushes. What ISIS is doing is not traditional guerrilla warfare. War In The Shadows by Robert Asprey is a two volume history of guerrilla warfare and it provides what are the necessary conditions for successful guerrilla warfare and what you need to defeat it.

  • The Middle East Policy of President Bernie Sanders
    • Gee, Bernie Sanders is not a perfect progressive. And who is? In following 50 years of politics, I have found only one person I totally agree with--myself and I have changed positions on issues over the years. Yes, Bernie is not very good vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine, but what national candidate is better? Which national candidate is better overall in foreign policy? My only concern about Bernie Sanders is that he could not win either the nomination and if he did, he couldn't win the election. Pol;itics is the art of the possible and the most important thing is that the Republicans don't win, or we will see another disaster domestically and/or in foreign policy within a few years after they take power.

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone
    • Something I thought about and want to add is that mistakes in warfare are all too common. So-called friendly fire can be destructive. The Gulf War had a large number of incidents for the length of the conflict. 24% of the combat deaths in the Gulf War were due to "friendly fire." This is about the same percentage as civilian to militant deaths due to drone strikes. Also, almost as many coalition soldiers were killed by friendly fire and accidents combined as were killed by the Iraqis (190 compared to 189).

    • As someone who has read quite a bit of military history, I would like to present a contrarian and probably unpopular view. Since the mass warfare of WWI and later, civilian deaths, have often numbered even greater than combatant deaths. With the rise of air power, it rose exponentially. How many civilians were killed in the liberation of France? I don't know that we will ever know and it wasn't really that much of a concern. It certainly wasn't a concern about the number of German or Japanese civilians killed by the allies and even now it is given short shrift. Even during Vietnam I don't remember there being as much focus on civilian deaths as is the case now and the death toll then was pretty astounding. This is not to say we shouldn't be concerned about the issue and it is good that it does get more attention. But it needs to be put in perspective. Drone strikes are probably the best way at this time to minimize civilian casualties. Certainly in the areas they are used, the only real alternative that is better is to do nothing at all. Regular air strikes and ground troops are certainly more destructive. Remember the Pakistani Army attacks in the Northwest areas a few years back? I don't recall the numbers, but I'm sure it was magnitudes more deadly and destructive in both lives and property. As to the legality, that requires a longer monograph. While I think targeting US citizens is clearly illegal, attacks carried out against foreigners in the territory of another state, with the approval of that state, is likely legal. Despite the official fiction of denials, we all know that the drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen have been carried out with the approval of those governments (Yemen, now, of course, is another story).

  • Turning Point: 2015, the Year the World turned to Renewables and saved itself
    • One thing not mentioned in the article relative to developing countries is that use of fossil fuels requires a well developed infrastructure. You have to build a power plant and then power lines to the customers. You also have to deliver the fuel to the power plants. With solar power, all you need to do is to distribute solar panels and other system requirements and avoid all that other cost and time required to put in the infrastructure needed with fossil fuels. It's the ideal situation for villages in underdeveloped countries.

  • Netanyahu slips, Reveals reason for Opposition to Iran Deal
    • A lot of good points here to which I would like to add a few things. Perhaps one reason why Zarif isn't interviewed is that he would be an excellent spokesman in destroying the Israeli propaganda. Interestingly, Zarif went to San Francisco State for his B.A. and got a Phd. at University of Denver. Since they have an excellent school of international relations (Maedeline Albright's father taught there), I assume Zarif has his Phd. in that subject.
      Secondly, re progressive policies, Iran has certainly delivered more to its populace than has Egypt under its dictators, yet Israel had no problem entering into an agreement with Egypt, even after 3 conflicts between the two. Nor has Egypt's regressive dictatorship stopped the US from giving them billions in aid every year and maintaining a close friendship.
      Regarding Hezbollah, that organization exists solely because of the Israeli incursion into Lebanon. Iran had nothing to do with its creation and it did not exist until Israel had laid waste to Lebanon. Israel created the terrorism against itself through barbaric policies.
      Netanyahu is like an American neocon. He craves political power above all else, favors a permanent war economy and foreign policy and thinks nothing of impoverishing millions. He will lie in order to spread fear to gain support.

  • Do GOP Frontrunners have an Iran policy besides Sanctions and Bombs?
    • The American media seem to think that journalism consists of providing two sides to a story. If one side is made up of lies, well, see rule # 1--provide both sides of an argument and you have done your job.

    • China and Russia by themselves are enough to seriously undermine the sanctions. Since Russia is already under sanctions from the US and Europe, I'm sure they would love to have a vigorous trade with Iran and anyone else they can. Also, it has been reported that many of th3e advances for the Iranian nuclear program came via the Khan network. With the failure of negotiations, help from russia, China, and the Khan network, Iran could probably have a bomb within 6 to 12 months if they decided to go full speed ahead. So sanctions as a way to prevent development of a bomb just won't work. If they achieve a bomb anyway, then a lot of countries will probably figure that continuation of sanctions is meaningless.

  • Obama to Train 75,000 Solar Workers in 5 Yrs, Including Veterans
    • I have always suspected that Obama had a grand strategy and it is becoming more and more apparent. By committing to green energy you not only create jobs and help on climate change, you reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Once that is done, then we can begin an orderly withdrawal from the Middle East. Without oil, the Middle East has no strategic value to the US. If we are independent of their oil, then the area is not important to us. Withdrawal of US interest and influence would then reduce the threat of terrorism.

  • The von Moltke Fallacy and avoiding another World War, with Iran
    • I want to address a common misperception about diplomacy and agreements. The right wing has been pushing this myth that we can't do deals with nations we don't trust. This is nonsense. Could we trust China when Nixon established relations? After all, China had killed tens of thousands of Americans in the Korean War and had threatened the US repeatedly during the Vietnam War while being the main supplier of North Vietnam during the conflict? Could Israel trust Egypt and Sadat and vice versa after both countries had engaged in unprovoked wars against one another over the span of a half dozen years? And who knows what a nation's intentions are since they can change from one leader to another? The key to any successful agreement is arriving at an agreement that is in the national interest of the parties to the agreement. If it is their national interest, then trust is not an issue. Not only does Iran want the sanctions lifted, but it should be clear now that they want to join the community of nations. Terrorism can only get you so far and is a sign or weakness. I think their leadership has realized that a thriving economy, peace and patience are the best way to proceed. If Iran develops economically, their resources, population, and location will make them a regional power if they are patient.
      Finally, I want to address the issue of North Korea which conservatives use to show we can't enter into a workable agreement with Iran. About 10 days ago the Washington Post ran a good fact check on this issue. In short, the agreement was entered into with the Clinton Administration in 1995. In 2001, when Bush took over, shortly thereafter they accused North Korea of violating the agreement by covertly continuing work on a bomb. they said this was based on US intelligence. Considering that the same US intelligence said that there were definitely WMD's in Iraq, I think we shouldn't accept this charge at face value. The Bush Administration followed up this charge by cutting off shipments of fuel oil to North Korea, an important part of the agreement. North Korea followed by rejecting the agreement and beginning to work on a bomb full speed, which was completed in 2006. So, it was actually the Bush Administration which took the first concrete step which violated the agreement with North Korea.

    • That was the role we wanted them to play when the Shah was in power. It won't happen any time soon, but with a future moderation of the Iranian regime, a muted friendship is not out of the question. Iran will likely become a regional power whether we like it or not, best to adjust to it and see that our interests are aligned as much as possible. Barbara Slavin's book, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies does a good job of showing how our two nations have come close to a rapprochemont over the last several decades. Robert Fisk is one of the best M.E. correspondents out there and anyone interested should read his books.

    • Israel engaged in a pre-emptive war in 1967 and in a war of aggression in 1956 and also attacked both Syria and Iraq at separate times in a pre-emptive way. We should not be surprised if they do it again.

  • Netanyahu on Iran Deal: threatens ‘survival of Israel’, ‘horrific war’
    • Today I was listening to a report from NBC correspondent Ann Curry and I thought I heard her say that after 9/11 Iran had offered to reduce its centrifuges to 100, but the Bush Administration wasn't interested. It is pretty well known that Iran made a number of feelers during the year after 9/11 toward normalizing relations but were ultimately rebuffed because of hardliners in the Administration. Coincidentally, one of the main Iranians involved in this effort was Zarif, who was the chief negotiator for Iran during these recent talks. Curry's reference was the first I heard about Iran offering to make adjustments to their nuclear program during the early 2000's. I spent about 30 to 45 minutes on Google, trying various search terms, but was unable to find anything about this. Does anyone know if what Curry said can be verified?

  • War with Iran, by the Numbers
    • Not only do the insane idiots pushing for war ignore costs that Professor Cole enumerates, they all assume that Iran will sit back and do nothing but wait for an invasion. Iran could easily mine the Straits of Hormuz, attack shipping, bomb Saudi oil fields and plunge the west into a deep depression. If they think terror attacks are bad now, how about if Iranian supporters like Hezbollah start widespread terror attacks? It will also inflame other terrorist groups. The unpleasant fact is that an Iranian bomb is actually not as bad as war with Iran would be. And only invasion and occupation would guarantee no bomb.

  • Obama goes to Congress on Syria as his International Support Collapses
    • A great analysis by Professor Cole,since it agrees with my thinking. I think it will be a close vote which will be determined if AIPAC takes a position on it. If they support, it will pass, if they oppose, it will fail. Neutral and it could go either way.

      I have read a lot of criticisms on Obama's policy on Syria,but the fact is that any number of criticisms can be leveled at any policy decisions made regarding this issue. Like most issues in the Middle East, there are no good choices, only bad, wrose, worse still, and worst of all and it isn't always easy to sort out which is which.So much of the criticism is over blown, IMO. It's clear to me what is intended--make it more painful to the regime in losses than anything gained by using poison gas. That's all that is intended, and that is all we can hope to do.

    • There are also serious questions as to whether the President is legally constrained by that resolution. Even when they have followed it, prior presidents have stated that they weren't required under the Constitution to follow it and I personally believe they are correct.

  • Top Ten Republican Myths on Benghazi that Justify Hillary Clinton's Anger
    • Thanks to Professor Cole for bringing up the CIA mission. This has been totally ignored by the press and I can't help but wonder if this didn't have a lot to do with what happened. For so many agents to have been there so close, many of them obviously ex-military, it indicates that a relatively major operation was in the works, probably with the approval of the Libyan government, such as it is.

      The criticism of the Republicans about the original reports is just politicking, plain and simple. It was years before it came out what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin and those at the scene didn't really know what they were firing on.

      What's is unusual about this attack is not that it happened. It's that it doesn't happen more often. Especially the mortar attack that is practically impossible to stop.

    • To imply that somehow we could control the Arab Spring shows a vast misunderstanding of how the world works. Syrian rebels have complained that the US has not supplied them and news reports indicate that their arms are coming mostly from the military bases they have overrun. What gang of 8? Most of what you write is pure speculation on your part.

  • Obama's Inaugural and the Danger of an Iran War
    • Sounds like you have read David Bergamini's book. Unfortunately, a lot of important archival material was destroyed by Japanese authorities before the US occupation. If you haven't read it, I suggest Blix's Hirohito biography.

    • Despite the caveats from Professor Cole, this is the most hopeful development in at least the last 12 years in US foreign policy. His remarks regarding Iran were especially heartening.

  • How Torture Misled the US into an Illegal War: What Zero Dark Thirty Really Leaves Out
    • Having a background in international relations and having been in military intelligence for a while, I knew almost immediately that the Bush campaign to invade Iraq was a load of crap. After his Cincinatti speech in October, 2002 when he first made the case for war, I told someone the next day that I had never heard a president give a speech so out of touch with reality. If anything, Professor Cole understates the stupidity, mendacity, and venality of the Bush administration and the ineffectiveness and immorality of torture. Space and time limits all I could say about this, but history is replete with the futility and inhumanity of torture. It is a crime under US law, a war crime, and a crime against humanity. Anything which does not condemn it, IMHO, loses all credibility and is worthless as a piece of opinion or argument.

  • UN Security Council Condemns Further Israeli Squatting on Palestinian Land, with Rogue State US Vetoing
    • To addition to the other comments, the Palestinians who left their homes were forced militarily or threatened by Iraeli authorities; they did not go of their own accord. This was confirmed by UN observers on the ground and a subsequent UN report. See Ch. VI of TYhe Arab Israeli Dilemma by Khouri,. Robert Fisk's The Thousand Year War (I think that's the titl;e since I can'[t find the book right now) among many sources. Read objective history instead of Israeli propaganda some times, you'll be better off for it.

    • Begin was the leader of the Stern gang that blew up a Jerusalem hotel and killed scores, one of the worst terrorist attacks in history up to that time. Plus Sharon was at least partially responsible for the massacres in the refugee camps of Chitala and Sabra. Many top Israeli leaders have had a lot of innocent blood on their hands.

  • Why our Hair is not on Fire about Cutting Emissions, and what to do about it (Giesen)
    • And reasons why things are worse than most people realize: synergism, feedback loops, and unintended consequences. Example of synergism--rising temperatures release methane from permafrost and methane is even a worse greenhouse gas than CO2 (20 times worse), increasing warming even more. Feedback loops--as more ice melts, less albedo effect speeding up warming, melting more ice, and so on. Unintended consequences--Climate change will most likely change deep sea currents affecting such things as the gulf stream, possibly bringing cooler, more unstable weather to places like the British Isles. These are just a few things we can consider likely, there may be other things even worse we can't even yet suspect.

  • How America is Filling up itself and the World With Guns
    • About 30 years ago I read a book about conventional arms sales and the US was #1 back then, but the USSR wasn't too far behind. With the demise of the USSR, we now have the field pretty much to ourselves. Selling weapons has become one of the major exports of the US, just as making weapons and other materials of war have become a major part of our domestic economy. What a sad commentary that making and selling arms is important to our economic growth.

  • Avoiding the Nightmarish "Four Degree World" of 2060: We must Act Now (Giesen)
    • I share the pessimism of many here. I think that it is likely that we will see a vast diminution of world population--i.e., billions of people dying. It could actually be much worse than that if and when vast quantities of methane are released into the atmosphere from thawing permafrost. We have already seen that deleterious effects have increased even faster than originally predicted. Meanwhile, the politicians fiddle while the poles thaw. On the plus side, the fabled Northwest Passage will become a permanent reality.

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