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Total number of comments: 344 (since 2013-12-09 08:30:46)

Hunter Watson

Showing comments 344 - 301

  • With Iran deal, & Russia in Syria, is Israel being Boxed In?
    • Hello, Mr. Bickel. Attached is a nearly contemporary letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch from Grant F. Smith, Director of Research at IRmep.

      As you can see there has long been a defense raised that Israel's Zionist-American political agents are exempt from the Foreign Agents' Registration Act. It's illogical and it's also clear that it wasn't the intent found in the original version which was passed in 1938, before Israeli independence. That's declared in the government's FAQ on the statute. *Every* agent for a foreign principle is governed by the law unless specifically exempt, and violation is a felony.

      For what it's worth I've never found a word in the statute which provides special exemption for Israel's American agents. If it is there it must be so finely written that it will need the Federal Judiciary to sort it out. The quicker the better. The prospects for the Lobby don't look good to me. So I ask, "Why should we we shrink from enforcing federal law?" Let the chips fall. It's a matter for the courts.


      Calvert Station
      P.O. Box 32041 Washington, DC 20007

      Phone: 202-342-7325

      Loretta Lynch Attorney General US Department of Justice
      950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001

      Dear Loretta Lynch,

      In 2009 IRmep, a not for profit public policy research organization, filed the enclosed complaint. It substantiates why the American Israel Public Affairs Committee should be registering as the foreign agent of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

      I urge you to take action to enforce the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act where your predecessors and subordinates have failed! Please also kindly confirm receipt of this public interest complaint.

      Grant F. Smith, Director of Research
       Research  Awareness  Accountability
      PS: I understand that there is no express exception to prosecution for Defendants for Defendants are American.

      Hunter Watson

    • For what it's worth my view is that the pivot to the Pacific was motivated partially to give the Israelis an alert to the arrival of a new era in their relations with the U.S., one in which our actual interests and responsibilities as a very great power come first and that Israeli access will decline in direct proportion to her behavior vis a vis the United States and actual American allies in Europe.

    • Netanyahu is simply an arrogant Zionist politician. He needs to be pastured and to write his memoirs so that we may go through them from the point of view of the American interest and alleged responsibilities.

      As a politician he was created by the Israeli people. They bear responsibility. Israel does after all have some quasi -democratic characteristics. It is the Israeli electorate which must be brought down to earth. It will be simple enough to do and to do legitimately. American and European interests call for it and the power to get it rolling lies in the hands of every American President. Our Congressional leaders fear the prospect of doing the right thing.

      Sanctions on Israel, probably European, prosecution of the malefactors who lobby our Congress feloniously, more sanctions regarding her nukes, refusal of privileged access at all government levels and the opening of a frank national conversation on the necessity for doing such things is also required. No more taboos.

      So, why not?

    • The commentary here is pretty uniform. The consensus seems to be that Israel will get away indefinitely with flagrant misbehavior---that the western powers are frozen in fear due to her Lobby's brutal methods, the Holocaust and the nuclear weapons, to say nothing of America's unique and historic failure of leadership so far as Israel is concerned.

      Yet we have a President who has stood up to this opportunist troublemaker more effectively than any since Eisenhower. Why should he stop simply because he's a lame duck? These problems are all soluble. Take the creation of a State of Palestine for example. The Europeans and more particularly the French have paved the way. It's the hang-fire UNSC Resolution recognizing the nation of Palestine and setting forth a realistic formula for determining borders.

      I've been traveling since August 10th, but as of then he U.S had asked that the vote be postponed, not cancelled. If it passes it will constitute international law and will be a legitimate basis for economic sanctions at the national and international basis. The Europeans are fed-up. I doubt that we'd even have to join in them. Presumptively the pressure would be as intense as is necessary to get the job done.

      Our Administration is said to be pondering whether to change its policy of automatic veto of UN initiatives disliked by Israel. The Iran nuclear negotiations are now successfully concluded. That's a great success. There is no reason why the same technique can not be used to deal with her nuclear weapons.

      In the U.S. lobbying for a foreign country without registration is a felony. We just haven't had the guts to prosecute it.

      In the new era when these Israeli transgressions are just a memory we will wonder why it took so long to set them straight.

  • How Iran Deal Could Change the Middle East
    • Where is Jon Stewart when we need him?

      I actually wrote President Obama yesterday for the third time since he was first sworn into office. That's probably excessive but these are interesting times and I believe that in the light of time professional historians will see him as a great leader working successfully under very difficult circumstances.

      Where are the French just now? There was a postponement at our behest of their Resolution formalizing a Palestinian State, declaring the procedure for determining its boundaries and imposing a deadline in the UNSC. I raised that question with the President. I hope he is inclined to take care of it.

      When will we elbow AIPAC aside? The 20-40 million dollars being raised by Zionist superpacs to be used to subvert our Congress on behalf of Israel requires firm counter-measures. I raised that with Mr. Obama too. After all it is just a matter of enforcement of the criminal law. Our political leaders are bound to that in any event. So much is at stake. And after all it was just a postponement.

      This continuing crisis would have been resolved long ago had it not been for the illegal Israel Lobby and our vetos in the UN on her behalf which made progress impossible.

    • It was only after I finished reading Tua's article that I realized it had not been written by Professor Cole. No wonder, look at that resume.

      Fine work.

  • How Likely are the GOP Presidential Candidates Top 10 to drag us into War?
    • Graham is, indeed, a reservist. More particularly, he's a military lawyer. Based on that experience he demands that our young men and women pacify Iraq and Syria.

  • Top 5 Ways Obama's 'All of the Above' Politics led to Sanders & Trump
    • "Politics is the art of the possible and we need to remember that the GOP set out from the day he was inaugerated to oppose every thing Obama did."

      Obama's Middle-Eastern policies will have to be judged against the nature and quality of his Congressional opposition; it has been reactionary, neither classically conservative nor justified as in our interests in its neo-conservative form. The former, goes back to Burke, grudgingly tolerating gradual, carefully considered and necessary change, and the risks associated with it, while the latter is clearly a painfully recent theory *primarily* tailored, soto voce, to benefit another country without admitting it openly. Most neo-conservatives display serious conflicts of interest and will rail against those who point out their influence and associated taboos in public. They need to be brushed aside in the interests of the American people. Any President has the executive power to do it.

      Mr. Obama's patient stewardship is looking good at this point. It seems as though he may have prevented a fourth or fifth war in the region which, presuming success, will be seen as a triumph. One of the tools he crafted in this effort is the Iran agreement. He seems to also be successful in related matters in the UNSC. The deal has been ratified by the Council and is now international law. I see no way that the U.S. Congress can back that up and believe that that matter will be over.

      There is only one major step left in his pivot away from a policy of allowing Israel to wield our veto regarding peace negotiations of global significance. The French Resolution will require only a refusal to use the veto and an "Aye" vote. We may then stand back, not interfering with the subsequent measures which the international community and the Europeans will choose to take. I'm going to use the acronym: Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions at national and international levels. I doubt that we would even have to participate.

      For what it's worth, I think it will not take long for Israel's business class to conclude that cooperation is in her long term interest. Its power is unquestionably equal to the task. There will be a settlement pursuant to the Saudi Plan.

      The next step, probably to be left for the next Administration, is to work on a nuclear free zone.

  • Is this how the Establishment takes down Outsiders like Bernie Sanders?
    • They are bright but awfully young and inexperienced. I'm sure they think he is not electable. They may be correct about that as the entire country has moved right over a few decades now. The dynastic candidate had better not make many more mistakes. She has already lost her chance at a coronation.

      A few more stumbles by the dynastic candidate

    • One thing which would help him is refusal to let the malevolent types get away with labeling him a socialist and thus some mild version of a Marxist.

      Bernie is a Social Democrat of the Scandinavian persuasion. That's not socialism which is a universe and hundred million dead apart from it.

  • Why the Arab Gulf Oil Monarchies should Welcome Iran Deal
    • Congress Boils Impotently at Being Outmaneuvered at the UN Security Council.

      link to

    • It is that, indeed. But it is also designed to deter Israel from starting a war against Iran.

    • Why it Doesn't Matter What the Monarchies Welcome.

      Again, this is informed by ancient memory as a cursory search didn't find anyone who is working it. I'll quote Al Monitor and then state my personal understanding of what's just happened regarding the the Iran nuclear agreement. I'll be happy indeed to be straightened-out by my friends here should I have erred.

      Al Monitor:

      "The congressional debate over the Iran agreement is one of the most crucial debates in recent American history. At stake here is not only the Vienna agreement, but mainly US international posture. It could even touch upon its identity as a liberal country."

      The outcome of the congressional debate must be moot and therefore a victory for our President as it is an attempt to exceed the power of the Legislature under the Constitution. The fact that the President signed the legislation authorizing a Bill of Approval doesn't make it constitutional. They got what they asked for but not what they wanted.

      For what it's worth I have little doubt that it would be seen otherwise in the courts. It is not an issue of first impression. The Judiciary has visited it in the past. It has approved Executive Agreements as within the Executive's power. I'm not sure what the origins of the doctrine were, but it could even have been a mere matter of efficiency allowing the Executive to streamline interaction with other countries.

      The agreement has been signed by all the parties' executive proxies. According to Supreme Court precedent, It is not a treaty which requires ratification by the Senate in order to become a part of international law. Sure, it could be repudiated by the next President but it's in place now and the Security Council had every right to act upon it. Once it did the matter was over. It's the law of nations. It's not subject to after the fact whims of American legislators though I can imagine a subsequent Security Council revoking it if all fifteen members were chosen by a single little country in the Middle East.

      It is an executive agreement which does not require ratification by the Senate. There are hundreds of them in the files of the State Department. What turned this particular executive agreement into international law is that it has been adopted as such by the United Nations Security Council, unanimously. That included the USA.

      That unity represents a fundamental change of American foreign policy. In the past the UNSC declaration would have been vetoed by the United States at the *demand* of a single, tiny Asian country. What especially gratifies me is that we did not take the timid position of abstention out of fear of the Lobby. We voted for it. A new era is dawning.

      It's not going to change as the result of some comic opera diktat from the American Congress. Who, after all, do those ladies and gentlemen think they are? A global legislature, perhaps?

      If the agreement is ostensibly disapproved by our solons, President Obama will veto it because it exceeds the the constitutional powers of the Legislature. If the veto is overridden the matter will go to our tenured federal court system which unlike our Congress is free from conflicted and illegal outside pressure.

      If the courts decide that they can retroactively delete the American Executive's signature from an Executive Agreement after the fact, what would be the effect? Nothing. It's already become international law. It is a fact accomplished.

      The Security Council does not submit to national demands that it reverse its position on important matters of international politics. It has its own hierarchy. It's certainly not going to do so upon the demand of a mere branch of government in such a situation.

      Presuming I am correct, these realities are going to be percolating about in Congress and the enthusiasm among the reactionaries for facing the next election cycle having been proved ignorant of the Constitution they swore to uphold will have an effect on how they vote on this so called Bill of Approval. At minimum they won't want to look like herd of jackasses before their own constituents, voting their ideology instead of the American interest which is NOT, repeat NOT, an American war against Iran on behalf of a tiny Asian state whose interests diverge fundamentally from ours.

  • Israel's Netanyahu & Iran: Even former Intel Officials think he's Unhinged
    • What AIPAC and the Big Givers Want

      There is a giant political row going on in Washington about the Iran nuclear deal. It's so intense that even a disaffected former AIPAC official has spoken out under a promise of anonymity:

      Former AIPAC Official on Iran’s Importance to AIPAC

      by Jim Lobe

      Chris Nelson writes and publishes a private daily newsletter (The Nelson Report) that’s considered must-reading for everyone from Washington think-tankers, lobbyists, administration officials, and congressional staff to foreign embassies and multinational corporations. He closely follows events and developments affecting East Asian geo-politics and –economics and is as well-connected to D.C. policy circles as anyone I know. His access—based on his many decades of Washington experience, his fairness, and his discretion in protecting sources—is probably without parallel, at least among journalists who cover the region and beyond.

      So it was pretty compelling Thursday when The Nelson Report quoted a “former AIPAC official” on why the legendary lobby was so heavily invested in persuading Congress to reject the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1. I’m posting it here with Chris’s permission. Here’s what the unnamed former official told him:

      Chris, here’s 5 reasons why AIPAC thinks it’s right on Iran (i.e.,to keep targeting Iran)

      Iran has been the group’s raison d’être for 2 decades and it doesn’t know what else to do; its troops are trained to attack Iran and the lobby can’t afford to admit failure lest it lose supporters.

      Iran has been an enormously lucrative fundraiser for AIPAC; just look at what they’re spending on this campaign alone. It needs to keep the issue alive for institutional imperatives.

      Until this agreement was signed, AIPAC never had any competition. Everyone wanted to bash Iran. (It’s today’s replacement for the Soviet Union, Apartheid South Africa and Qadaffi.) Even with this agreement, Iran will continue to act in ways that make it an inviting target. The Ayatollahs aren’t smart enough to stop chanting Death to America and stop threatening to wipe Israel off the map, practices which are a boon to AIPAC.

      Without this cause AIPAC and this Israeli government as well as their Republican allies may have to focus on more critical issue, like peace with the Palestinians.

      So Iran-bashing’s what Bibi and their big givers want…

    • Netanyahu:

      “I feel it’s my obligation as the prime minister of Israel to speak out against something that endangers the survival of my country, the security of the region, the security of the world.”
      Source: CBS News (19 July 2015)


      Mr. Netanyahu is a one trick illusionist. He actually retails nothing but unqualified fear of a second genocide. He asserts it will be imminent and inevitable if Iran joins the nuclear club. Inevitable!

      But his naked assertions and obviously conscious omissions shed a baleful light on his motives. He ignores the unique historical role of nuclear weapons. He ignores the fact that no power has ever attacked another when the latter possessed them. He denies the essential rationality of the Iranian People whose civilization is at least as old and brilliant as that of the Jews and no more radically religious than are the Orthodox themselves. He never mentions deterrence in his analysis of the Iranian motives.

      I don't think Netanyahu and the Israeli right actually have coherent strategic objectives in the Middle East, objectives consistent with peace. They are short term, self-defeating and violent. How, for example, do they use us but to instill fear and to make the neighborhood's rubble bounce? How do they behave themselves? The same way. What are their borders? They won't say.

      They have turned a project designed originally to put an end to anti-Semitism into one which generates it and, unfortunately, does so on a nearly global scale. In the process they've driven themselves into a corner with no exit other than fundamental compromise, something they can not bring themselves to do.

      Accordingly, the U.S., Europe and the international community have no choice but to see to it that they do it anyway.

  • Iraqi Government halts al-Anbar Campaign over Sectarian Fears, US Pressure
    • What's next?? When did it become less than obvious? A very determined, multi-lateral 'encouragement' of Israel to get out of the West Bank and to end the blockade of Gaza on the basis of the Saudi Plan. The Caliphate fellows haven't changed that. They've just provided encouragement for the United States and Europe to get it done without further nonsense from the guys whose G-d once described them as 'stiff-necked'.

      Another way to look at it is to similarly encourage Israel to give up its dreams of a de facto empire in the region based on the threat of the use of force. It's unrealistic, unsustainable and grossly conflicts with American and European interests. It conflicts with the fact that we are now there involuntarily and would dearly love to get out.

      We can't be certain of the result, but it is likely to diminish radical ardor. Even ISIL boys entertain thoughts of home and hearth, victory parades, etc. After all, the first cause of instability in the region was the Zionist-European intrusion back at the turn of the 20th Century. And the second cause was the American intrusion in support of it after WW II.

  • Trump Swiftboats McCain the Way W. Swiftboated John Kerry
    • Trump hasn't the slightest chance of success in politics. He's toast and this is just the tip of the iceberg:

      link to

    • From Wiki:

      Late in the Second Indochina War on December 22, 1972, a string of American bombs intended for nearby Bach Mai Airfield missed their target and struck the hospital instead, nearly destroying the building and killing 28 hospital staff members.[1] The hospital was subsequently rebuilt, largely with private donations from the United States.[2]

    • In my day the favorite tattoo in the Corps, other than the inexplicable bulldog in a helmet smoking a cigar, was 'Death Before Dishonor'. That's a bit more broad than 'No retreat".

      McCain was a U.S. Navy carrier pilot who flew multiple missions in a very dangerous combat environment. Regardless of his detractors that has to be respected. He's had his detractors, but they are petty next to accomplishments. I subscribe to Juan's view.

      By the way, not only was his father a senior Admiral but also his grandfather who served in WW II in the Pacific.

  • Iran Deal: Why doesn't US Media interview Real Allies on American Policy?
    • I suggest that we all send copies of Dr. Cole's article to ten of our friends.

    • John, you imagine a garden variety scenario which doesn't fit the the substance of the article.

      If "conflict increases viewers" then the routine response of owners to the divergence of Euorpean and American views is likely to generate just that. Accordingly, in this case the MSM is rejecting profit on the altar of something else.

      It's most likely that that other consideration is the protection of Israel's political power in the United States by reinforcing American provincialism and overall ignorance between the two coasts. I don't know about you but I'd see conspiracy written all over the fact that they seem to have done it in unison.

      Do you deny that the MSM ownership have any obligation to provide coverage which is in fact fair balanced? And if you say "no", don't you think the American nation has an obligation to do something about it?

    • The answer to your first question is found in an old maxim of trial lawyers. Never ask a witness a question at trial to which you do not already know the answer.

    • The hasbara manuals sent over here for the use of Zionists on campus advise them that when you can't respond on the merits, you change the subject or make jokes.

    • "What I don’t like is the unquestioned spin that is placed on Israel’s opposition to this agreement, which is this: Our Very Special Friends The Israelis Don’t Think This Is A Good Deal, So Maybe It Isn’t A Good Deal.

      "There is an alternative, which is that this unrelenting opposition brings into question exactly how “special” this “friendship” actually is."

      One thing is certain. The nature of the relationship is nothing akin to friendship. It is not even what one might expect among colleagues. All the smoke and mirrors about that have been stripped away. It makes one think of Trotsky's notorious article, "Their Morals and Ours", which justified the standards of Marxist/Leninist totalitarianism as against those which had risen over thousands of years naturally as a product of the human experience.

      We know what our interests and those of our European allies are. They include but are not limited to questions of war and peace. They obviously diverge fundamentally from those of the present right wing regime in Israel. None of us should shrink from acknowledging it. It's not Israel per se which is at issue, but the ideological nature of Israeli politics and foreign policy along with her grip on our Congress.

      Though I dislike Netanyahu's banal term, the overall question is whether the Iranian agreement is a good deal for the Western Hemisphere. More particularly the question is whether it is a good deal for the United States. The idea that Israel's Israel's regional ambitions must trump our interests is simply too hard to stomach.

    • The "special relationship" is coercive, imposed upon us by the brazen scofflaws of AIPAC and the rest of the Zionist Lobby. It's our scarlet letter. It's special alright. Every time it's mentioned we are humiliated afresh, reminded of our servile status and of eternal obligations which never existed and still don't.

      We're closer now to being freed of it than we've ever been thanks to President Obama. There is only one major event left to turn the tide and reverse the the pressure. That's the long awaited French resolution in the UNSC. If the Israelis continue on their present course it will become a platform for governmental and international BDS, joining that of civil society.

      The deal with Iran is in our interests and in those of our actual allies. That's what matters.

      By the way, one heartening thing about this horrendous mess which Zionist Israel has made for us is the role of our young people, essentially of our current college generation. They and their predecessors have pulled our foreign policy chestnuts out of the fire for us three times now. They ended the Vietnam War, led the struggle against South African Apartheid with governments trailing along behind and are now shaming us again into action in the Middle East. It gratifies this old man to see them keeping our compass working generation after generation.

    • I understand that the BBC is again under existential threat in the UK.

    • May we be mindful of Greece's persistent failure to protect her economy from collapse with just a bit more discipline, or is that forbidden?

    • We should dismantle the oh so subtle Zionist press oligopoly.

    • If Dr. Cole is correct it looks more like a covert MSM conspiracy to control the dialogue on Israel and Palestine here in the United States. If true it's not frivolous to be concerned about it. It impacts matters of war and peace and involved a near national bankruptcy which set us back for many years. You can't just blow this off as if it's insignificant. That's exactly what the MSM ownership appears to be trying to accomplish to say nothing of the Lobby as a whole. It is certainly worth investigating. Ha! Imagine the mainstream media having to cover itself on this question.

    • The following is from ancient memory.

      Journalism is one of the great quasi-independent professions. In addition to some regulation by statute, they are subject to internal codes of ethics recognizing their obligation to the public. This is especially important as to the scribbling class and to our television talking heads because the accuracy of their work is critical to the public's ability in a democracy to "get it right" in an objective sense. Aren't they members of the fifth estate with obligations to the people?

      The journalism ethical codes are admirable in the black letter, but weak in practice as they are not applied to owners, the main source of self-interested distortion in what's given to the public. There is no separate system for disciplining the mainstream media owner class other than their own codes of ethics. Why shouldn't they apply? They forbid conflict of interest.

      If only based on Dr. Cole’s article above, most of the ownership and senior management of the MSM are acting out ethnic conflicts of interest on the subject of Israel and Palestine and on the nature of our relationship with Israel too. Conflict was forbidden in the codes of ethics when I last looked at them. There used to be several of them on the internet. They should still be there.

      Inside their particular news organs the investors with the conflicts seem not to fear running afoul of their own codes . Yet they are in a position to determine all major, sensitive assignments abroad. Sending senior reporters to Europe to inquire of opinion at high levels is likely to elicit unwelcome candor. So the reporters are not sent by any of them. Have they no obligation to the American people on matters of war and peace? Certainly the journalists themselves do.

      So, conflicts of interest being acted out *in unison* triumph over exploration of a very important news source, but they don’t tell their readers of that decision. Sins of omission can be as manipulative as lies. What we need is “the truth and the whole truth”. And our demand that they deliver both is both reasonable and ethically legitimate.

  • No, Mr. Netanyahu, Iran isn't trying to Take over the world & it isn't ISIL
    • Of course you are spot on, Bob. Not only does the nature of the relationship deny us immense opportunities and cost us huge and irretrievable out-of-pockets, it is flat-out humiliating. At the end of World War II we were the acknowledged global leader and the greatest of great powers. Today we struggle and we've done it to ourselves. We've thrown away both our substance and our self-respect.

    • Were we to change our underlying foreign policy convictions from the use of force at pretty much the first resort based on something akin to a missionary calling (most recently of the neoconservative type) what proportion of our military budget could be cut without courting disaster? Half?

      Were we to make that cut, can you imagine that it would result in an invasion and colonization of North America? I think not and doubt than anyone here does. So why the hell are we appropriating it without much debate on underlying principles, year after year?

      And why is it that the faction we describe as conservative supports this monstrous mulcting of the American people without a question? Have they an interest which demands it which is different from that of the rest of us?

      So what is it about our perception of the American mission which is so fundamentally screwed-up?

    • One is not to confuse or conflate any country's *perceived* interests with the real McCoy. It was Ben-Gurion who oversaw both the ten years of planning and the execution of the Nakba.

      There are limits to what one may think of as justified by love of country. The ideological rigidity which he was utilizing to justify a massive ethnic cleansing was not in fact justifiable.

    • Yes that's the event.

      All one needs to reevaluate that awful moment is to recall the video taken on the bridge of the US Navy ship which shot it down with a surface to air missile. At the first moment the men are jubilant at having done their wartime duty successfully, but almost immediately they hear over the radio that it is a civilian airliner. The expressions change instantly to those of shock and something akin to grief. No contorted explanations after the fact would ever work for those men.

  • Jeb Bush Thinks You Don’t Work Hard Enough
    • I don't know where Cenk Uygur came from or even who he is, actually. I suppose I'll have to look it up, but his work is an immense contribution here. Thank you, Juan, for introducing him here.

  • Donald Trump, Dumpee: Forgetting to use the GOP racial dog-whistle is an Expensive Mistake
    • I'm a Democrat, yet I could happily live with a Rand Paul style of non-interventionist foreign policy, realist rather than Messianic.

      Where are we going to get that from among this or any cycle's politicians who spend their professional lives on the subtleties of getting into office and staying there whether it's good for the country or not?

      How about some grass roots noise for drafting a Stephen Walt at the convention? Or Dr. Cole. Or Dr. Mearsheimer. Since WW II our most serious and debilitating problems have been in the field of foreign policy, not domestic politics. Almost all of our major debilitating crises for over seventy years have been in that field. It's our interface with the outside world which obsesses most of us when we think about the Presidency yet it seems not to occur to us as a people to do anything about it.

    • There have been massive street demonstrations in the capital against the current regime's corruption for the last six Friday evenings in a row. Attached is an interesting article from Harvard Politics tracking the situation from the time of the 2009 coup to the present. It raises the question of a policy divergence between Secretary Clinton and President Obama at that time which is depressingly familiar.

      link to

    • We spend half the year in the west-central Mexican State of Jalisco. Among the many attractive qualities working class Mexicans display is is a very old, unwritten code of dignified, almost courtly manners. Another, equally old but more intense, is a sense of solidarity within the extended family. They stay in touch even with those who live in the United States.

      The morning after the Donald's fiasco, our gardener, Sr. Zamora, who appears to be related to most everyone in the Village, asked me what I thought of Mr. Trump. He agreed with my assessment having heard about it narrated in Spanish on TV.

      What Trump said was deeply insulting to these proud people. I don't think the view from the home front is going to stop at the border.

  • Is it the US that isn't stepping up to fight Daesh/ ISIL?
    • We've entertained super-abundant foolishness in the region since early in the first Cheney-Bush Presidency. It could even date back to the famous suitcase with $2,000,000 in cash and the sentimental reluctance to listen to General Marshall, the State Department and the Pentagon.

      Today, as if in a dream state, we seem to be reduced to evaluating each microcosmic move made by the parties and western politicians in hopes that they might lead somewhere or add up to something. In the end when we emerge from the forest it will no doubt appear to have been elementary and we will be able to speak of it with some confidence.

      So, the first step in sorting it out is to follow something, right? Domestic pressure? No, we simply can't face THAT, so we have to turn to something else. The money? Not that either. It's greatest potential is to cause artificial political problems which conflict, for example, with the mundane, our laws and Constitution. How about the roots of the decisions to renovate Afghan and Iraqi cultures? Could there have been anything so ridiculous? All it should have taken is a little reading about the UK in Iraq in the 1920s and the same Imperial apparat in Afghanistan in the 19th Century. What is it? Is it standing right in our faces yet invisible? What went wrong and why is it that we can't right the wrong? Could it be something as elementary as a failure of courage? Then why can't we articulate it? The point at which we right it will be remembered as another Fourth of July. But we can't get out of it until we face it and nothing else until we've resolved it.

  • Cole: Iraq's Ramadi falls to ISIL as Shiite Gov't refuses to Arm Sunni Tribes
    • Why shouldn't the reintroduction of an offshore policy serve the tattered remnants of our "interests" over there? Other than 'protecting Israel' not one of the people we're in touch with can articulate our strategic goals at this point. Of course they are not specialists, but 'degrade and destroy'? Is that a policy? Or is it a revisit of Vietnam's body counts and decent intervals?

  • Netanyahu slips, Reveals reason for Opposition to Iran Deal
    • So happy to see it said up front and out loud.

    • super390 2015.04.08 04:26 Reply

      It’s easy to be hardline when you demand Washington do all your killing for you. Iran doesn’t have any friends like that right now – maybe we should not put it in a position where it must find some.

      Exactly, but no one should have friends like that as a matter of principle. And we aren't even close to being in that category with Israel. You and I know it. All of us here know it. Congressmen taking AIPAC's money pretend not to. Joe Sixpack is capable of knowing it but he's got to have courageous leadership.

      Regarding Israel this distortion as been the result of the American people's status as provincials and political victims. For example, we don't have to be delicate about the impact of the Israel Lobby on American policy regarding matters of war and peace. To the extent that we've done awful things for Israel in the Middle East, they have not been due to friendship. We all know that. That's the most bogus idea floating about in the ocean of lies and misleading propaganda which the American people are subjected to. In fact those violent acts of "friendship" have very largely been accomplished through unprecedented political brutality and manipulations in the mainstream media in the United States. Everyone here has seen aspects of it described lucidly by Professor Cole. Everyone here has read it in an irrefutable monograph by political Scientists Mearsheimer and Walt, and by respected public intellectuals all over the country. Until now, no American government since Jack Kennedy's has been capable of acting upon these obvious truths though legal pathways, eg., the inernational community and FARA. It's a matter of guts and principle. Defending Israel as she should be defended in our discretion is the easy part.

      We will have far greater long term respect and improved relationships with almost every country when we stand up in public and tell the truth about the destruction of our ability to pursue our actual national interests in the Middle East, precisely how that has happened and what we are going to do to change the situation decisively. The applause will be thunderous.

      I believe it would indeed be a decisive moment in the 2016 election cycle and a good moment. Its equivalent in terms of candor and political courage will never have been seen before. And think of the effect it would have on Ms. Clinton, she of the Brooklyn headquarters, who is also legacy conscious and must be seen as both principled and courageous.

    • Your silent and deadly search for foreign policy substance is not a sin, my son.

  • What if US & UN Sanctioned Israel over its Nukes as they did Iran over Enrichment?
    • The Party is an unnatural coalition of corporate aristocrats holding their noses and self-righteous red necks. When moderates want a change they shouldn't have to swing to right radicals.

      And yes, we're dealing with world-class egos.

    • Page: 3
    • Brooklyn? Her headquarters should have been in Virginia or perhaps Texas.

    • Ha! It glows in the dark. There has never been anything like it. Thanks, Juan.

  • The von Moltke Fallacy and avoiding another World War, with Iran
    • Yes, they got it right, and the determined joint effort by Sherman and Kerry was admirable, but as Bill suggests it really solves little regarding the sources of the region's chronic problems. The substance of the agreement as opposed to what it symbolizes pales in importance next to the fact that it provides context for the denial to Netanyahu of his new war, and for a stare-down Administration victory for Obama/Kerry over the Republican and Israel Lobby war mongers, temporary as they may be.

      What is more important is that President Obama has executed another pivot. He has kicked Mr. Netanyahu to the curb on the literal basis that he is not a partner for peace. That's even a bit funny. And he has turned to the United Nations and to the Europeans, both of which have stood ready to help for years now, waiting for us to make the decision. American policy regarding Israel is changing. Its timorous qualities are vanishing.

      What is it which the UN and the EU will do which we have not? Everything which the absence of a swarming Israel Lobby makes possible. Like incorporating the French or American Plan for Palestine into a UNSC resolution which sanctifies the Green Line and sets a binding deadline for withdrawal, which resolution will be the basis for EU measures of many kinds including boycotts and even sanctions ala Iran if it is violated.

      In the US, a matter which is completely in the hands of the Administration is the enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act against all senior AIPAC officials and all of its garden variety lobbyists who knock on doors on Capitol Hill. Send them all cease and desist notices effective immediately with a registration deadline 30 days later. Free at last Oh Lord, free at last.

  • Israel's Netanyahu jumps Shark with “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen” axis barb
    • Pursuant to the wisdom of the American people he is not just a Senator, but the Senate Majority Leader.

  • Who Has A Stake In Yemen Fight?
    • I'm a night owl. I wrote the post above hours ago. After returning from dinner with friends, I accidentally clicked on Dr. Cole's auto-biography and then decided to actually read through it. It answered a central question I was trying to think through earlier in the comment immediately above:

      Juan was opposed to the Gulf War in 1990-1991, favoring the use instead of economic sanctions. He was quoted in Newsweek to that effect as the war gathered:

      “The worldwide boycott of Iraqi oil is even more damaging to Saddam– ‘It is the only important embargo,’ says former French Defense minister Andre Giraud. Gaining the Kuwaiti oil fields means little if Iraq can’t sell the product. Saddam has also used oil revenues to pay off restive internal factions. ‘If you take away this regime’s ability to throw patronage around, then the next time there are riots, how is it going to deal with it?’ asks University of Michigan Middle East historian Juan Cole.” (“The Case against War,” Newsweek, October 29, 1990).

      He was also quoted in “The Gulf War: The International Front Saddam: What’s in a Name?” Los Angeles Times, 13 Feb 1991: 8.

      Cole later admitted that he had been wrong in this approach, both because economic sanctions probably could not have gotten Saddam Hussein’s Iraq back out of Kuwait and because the Baath regime manipulated the sanctions so that they mainly harmed ordinary people. But at the time, he still had pacifist leanings. He wrote some opinion pieces for newspapers but could not get them published, for the first time discovering that being the modern Middle East historian at the University of Michigan might be prestigious in the academic world, but that it meant nothing as a credential to newspaper editors. At a town hall televised on Ann Arbor’s community television station, Juan warned that if the US went in to the Gulf militarily, it would ipso facto become the successor to the British Empire in being an imperial power there, and probably would not be able to extricate itself from Gulf affairs in succeeding decades. This intervention, he warned, would bring with it further, deeper entanglements for the United States in a volatile region, making the Middle East central to US foreign policy over time. He explored attempting to get up an anti-war movement, but faculty who remembered the early Vietnam War period warned him that it would be very difficult at that stage. As it happened, the war was short. At a teach-in in spring of 1991, Juan argued that the social inequities between very wealthy Gulf oil monarchies and the poorer but much more populous Arab republics was part of the conflict, angering the students in the audience from the Gulf.

    • rightofreturn 2015.03.29 09:23 Reply

      "Hunter Watson, US is involved anyway."

      Of course we're involved, and Yemen is just an example, but what national interest do we have there which requires intervention in her Civil War? Can you articulate it? Has anyone outside of government done so? What more are we getting ourselves into and why?

      For the sake of the argument I say there is no American interest in the country. So why are we active in subduing it? If not for ourselves, for whom are we doing it and why? What overall strategic goals are we following in the region as a whole if they aren't ours either. Have we committed ourselves to the maintenance of order in the entire region with no sunset provision?

      And then there is the vexing question: who is primarily responsible over all for the turmoil in the region since WW II? By counting the dead I conclude that it is the US and Israel. Where does that lead in terms of American policy?

    • Where in Yemen lies a significant American interest?

  • How GOP threats against Iran have Guaranteed end of European Sanctions
    • A thoughtful post as always, Travis.

      I'm looking forward to a corner being turned soon in the UNSC . Netanyahu's rookie blunder has denied him another time consuming round of fruitless negotiations. We shouldn't be begging to go back to THAT until we've prepared the ground so as to change the rules. The President adeptly shifted to the alternative forum, one in which actual pressure can be applied liberally prior to negotiations.

      Nothing matters but pressure. The French are forging ahead. A clear legal basis for various types of sanctions based on a recognition of Palestinian sovereignty beyond the green line would do the job. And then there are the EU and individual states and even NATO to follow through.

      I trust President Obama to get this done. He has mobilized his staff to push back at the Israelis. That is a decision! There is no reason to do that and to then take the foot off the gas before it's finished.

      By the way, I haven't seen anyone writing about the incentives to settle represented by offers of reciprocal amnesties for both side's war criminals, the Lincolnesque approach. That's real hardball. And at the same time it is conciliatory.

  • What's Religion Got to do with it? German Co-Pilot as Terrorist
    • I had the impression that the co-pilot had not disclosed his mental illness to his employer. If True he couldn't have been allowed "back in".

    • Perhaps one should focus on the rights of the passengers.

      Mary Nikelsberg:

      "Would I want to fly.....knowing the pilot in command was taking psychotropic drugs for mental illness? No. "

      Mary comes down on a personal right to know what should be known by the employer before putting her life in danger. Shouldn't that be true of any actual danger extrinsic to routine aviation operations---even if remote---whether it has an ethnic component or not? Actual known dangers are listed on medicine bottles and lawnmowers. Why not on boarding passes?

      It's a policy question. IF the co-pilot was depressed or was taking psychotropics, doesn't the employer have an obligation to know, and if he is still to fly to disclose the facts to the passengers?

      IF he took time off from his training and spent it hanging around a "radical mosque" in Bremen (which I doubt will be borne out), doesn't the employer have an equal obligation to discover that too? And in either case, mental illness or concern about the concrete history of airline terrorism, don't passengers have a right to disclosure and to change their schedules? Who should bear the burden here, the passengers?

  • Obama-Netanyahu Tiff worsens: US won't rule out using UN to create Palestine
    • A "need", support for a need? That's only advisory; it's essentially a cop out. What's actually needed is a Declaration of Statehood based on the green line and an invitation to join the United Nations. It would declare that the occupation is a breach of international criminal law, but should Israelis be withdrawn from the new state within six months, both parties will be favorably considered for amnesties.

    • Let's do it, indeed. Now that the path is clear and in our control, we need see no serious impediment. For years we have been stiff-armed by Israeli politicians, but now we've been stiffed by the Israeli electorate itself. Yes, let's do it.

    • John, you have no basis for the talk of the President settling for bantustans and concentration camps. Obama has never said a word justifying such a thing, i.e., a betrayal of the Palestinian people. He has worked very hard over two long periods to give the Israelis a chance to do the right thing.

      I think he is going to deliver-up a peace for the Israelis, in other words whether they like it or not, in the form of offers they can not refuse. He may have waited until his second term for political reasons and and conflicting domestic agendas, but now is the obvious time for a multi-lateral, institutional, hard ball approach, and for what it's worth, the judges of his presidency are waiting with pens poised.

      As individuals our Legislativel class are neutralized by the brutality of the Lobby, but neither President Obama nor the Europeans nor the EU/UN/Nato are caught in our mess. I was only initially a bit depressed at the reelection of Netanyahu. Upon reflection I don't feel that way at all.

  • Jerusalem a Tinderbox that could Explode: EU Report
    • Why should that EU Report not have been in the public domain from the time it was first submitted?

  • Mideast Reacts with Horror: "Israel has elected Extremism and Racism"
    • I'm not sure that Netanyahu's reelection is all that negative.

      It should accelerate the application of pressure on him and the second level leaders who have been complicit. It looks as though the US is now going first to the UN instead of to renewed negotiations which he will frustrate anyway with more time being lost. Once there is some sort of UNSC declaration of Palestinian sovereignty beyond the green line and the criminal nature of the occupation, it should be fixed in stone that coercive measures by the international community and at the state level can go forward. It should also demonstrate to the Israeli people that they will never take title to the West Bank.

  • Top 5 ways Netanyahu sabotaged US and Israel Interests
    • Can he even BE 'covered,' i.e., taken at his word? This is how Netanyahu backs and fills when he is caught in a fundamental contradiction:

      “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that [in light of] the situation that has arisen in the Middle East, any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremism and terror organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will be no concessions or withdrawals; they are simply irrelevant.” - See more at: link to

      There is, of course, no reason why a two state solution can not include security for the borders of a new Palestinian state. And then there is his thoughtless use of the word 'irrelevant'.

    • American officials are not naive. They are afraid for the future of their careers and social situations. Being accused by Jews of being anti-Semitic is a kiss of death in the United States.

    • What good would it do to make that suggestion to "Republicans". They are not democratic by nature.

    • Mr. Allen,
      Such a distinction might be useful in genuinely democratic countries, but in the case of Israel it is not so easy. Behind the green line she has institutionalized racism in the form of fifty statutes which discriminate against a despised ethnic minority (Adalah explains it) and beyond the green line is an occupation which is looking more and more totalitarian and is obviously intended to be permanent even though the senior leadership never comes clean with its plans for the imprisoned Palestinian people. It is sui generis and can't be be seen as analogous to the U.S. or any other western democracy. It is better described as a rogue state.

  • Should US policy toward ISIL be Containment?
    • Bill notes that, ".....simplistic notions would have us believe."

      ".....Washington usually ratchets toward the macho and the simplistic.

      And where do these conceptual absurdities arise? In the unspoken and therefore untested assumption

  • ISIS to US: We'll drown you in Blood; beheads US Journalist, Holds Tikrit
    • Perhaps someone can explain why the Middle East is of such great particular significance to the United States when it seems not to be so anywhere else I can think of? The Brits gave up on it in the late 40s on the ground of bankruptcy They don't repent that decision today? Isn't that a valid precedent?.

      Why can't we, especially as we have no critical need for controlling the region's oil? The Europeans are getting on with their lives despite a little lip service now and then. The Chinese are nowhere near ready yet to take over from us on the global hegemony front.

      Here, in my view, on a largely academic blog, it seems to resolve itself to a single question, why there is there no systematic, reasoned debate on the nature of the American interest there. We could certainly get our teeth into that. Yet we just can't bring ourselves to do it. In short we can not do it.

  • Middle East Crisis: Juan's "Ask Me Anything" at Reddit Discussion
    • Dear Dr. Cole,
      Is there any reasonable hope that the United States can revert to the "realist" off-shore policy of the pre-WWII era so far as the Middle East is concerned?

  • Is Russia a "Regional Power" or "Geopolitical Threat"? Obama argues with Romney from the Hague
    • "While I appreciate your optimism, political realities do not allow the US to bring appreciable pressure to bear on Israel."


      Lincoln wasn't a fatalist. He promulgated the Emancipation Proclamation and suspended Habeas Corpus during the Civil War. FDR exercised broad executive authority, especially in the manufacturing economy during WWII. It can not be denied that the situation in the Middle East is emergent and has been with varying degrees of intensity since 1967 when Israel occupied the final 22% of Palestine and expelled enough additional Palestinians to make the total a million since 1948. Subsequent to 1967 Israel has neither defined her proposed goals nor borders nor released us from our Lobby-enforced unwritten obligations to her. That's inexcusable.

      There are vital American interests in the region and some are global in scope. As the U.S. is a global superpower and Israel is a tiny regional power, our interests and responsibilities are profoundly divergent. The presumption that we must follow Israel's interests there at the expense of our own is an insult and a humiliation and is also in derogation of our our duties as a world leader.

      The present negotiations with Iran regarding nuclear weapons presents a clear example of those global American duties. Mr. Netanyahu's almost daily struggle to stymie and frustrate the negotiations demonstrates that Israel's perceived interests lie in the pursuit of regional hegemony through repeated violent assaults on Muslim States in the region, and thus that they are profoundly contrary to ours. We've been there and done that. And everyone here knows how it unfolded.

      The same is true of Israel's attitude toward her occupation and annexation of various additional Arab/Palestinian territories. Israel is determined to keep the West Bank irrespective of the fact that our single most important interest in the region lies in founding a Palestinian State there. The divergence is profound and fraught with very unpleasant consequences for the United States if we fail.

      This matter is a head to head conflict. Unless we take control of the situation by defeating the Israel Lobby and reversing the nature of our relationship with the so-called Jewish State we will be in thrall there indefinitely. That's a miserable fate as history has already shown and it must be avoided.

      Yes to BDS. Overt endorsement of it on Sunday talk shows by Administrative officials. Greenlight the Europeans. But don't you think we should begin drafting a proposed Presidential Declaration of a Foreign Policy Emergency complete with various measures and sanctions designed to change the nature of the relationship? Did the new sanctions on Russia require a new Act of Congress?

    • "Russia without hydrocarbon resources to sell would be lumped in with the Less Economically Developed countries at this point."

      There is a difficulty with this lumping: hydrogen bombs.

    • Meeting with Israel's enemy in private does not bring the credibility of the U.S. into question. It reinforces it as a clear sign of autonomy. It means we're at the point where such such demands on us clearly no longer matter. In fact it is quite the opposite. Demands that we have no contact with the "terrorist" enemies of Israel have been a routine part of the oppression imposed upon us for decades by both the Lobby and its client. What the change means is that our statesmen are no longer inhibited by it. This is a subtle but very important change which sends messages not only to the Israelis but to the Europeans who are ready to assist us on a large scale.

      Yossi Mekelberg says that ignoring the demands of the Israelis undermines U.S. credibility and that of the peace process itself, which we all know never existed if it depended on Netanyahu. We know the man. It is useless to deny it to each other.

      Surely the Administration knows that Netanyahu will destroy the negotiations if he can get away with it just as he did the Oslo process. That's not really the question. It's the existence and nature of the President's Plan B which matters. Personally I believe that when the negotiations have already failed, the United States having made a comprehensive good-faith diplomatic effort, that the Administration will have to begin making offers and statements of fact and demands which Israel can not long resist----and seeing to it that the situation becomes common fare on the Israeli Street.

    • Mr. Dillard,

      That Russia today is only a regional power and relatively weak is a fact that requires pointing out as the American public are not well informed on that geostrategic reality and the usual right-wing suspects are again beating the drums. The American people need not blow the Crimean matter out of proportion. The truth tends to deflate propaganda and misinformation. Shouldn't it be our default setting if at all possible?

      Mr. Obama's Nobel Peace Prize was premature. He is not to blame for that. And certainly it does not limit his freedom of action as President of the United States. I suggest that he be judged on the same criteria after the end of his term when the historians have done their work.
      As to any given use of a drone, I suggest that you demonstrate your claim that International Law was violated. The War in Afghanistan continues. We are leaving the country and the drone strikes are essentially rear guard actions keeping the enemy leadership off balance so that we may complete the departure in relative serenity. Would you deny our men that degree of protection?

      The war was begun by George W. Bush. Our invasion of Afghanistan was perfectly legitimate as 'hot pursuit'. Where Bush blundered was in taking the the advice of neoconservatives in his government and turning hot pursuit of bin Laden into a nation-building neighborhood-improvement crusade on the order of that in Iraq. As to Americans killed by drones, I suspect that the rationale was that whomever they were they they had become enemy combatants and were continuing to engage in combat against us.

      Do you deny the massive intransigence of the Republicans? Beyond massive it has been absolutely unprecedented and is clearly racist.

      Obama was supportive of NSA in the early Snowden aftermath. That's not too surprising, but he is now making new changes which is an implicit admission that they are needed.

      As to climate change you exonerate Bush because of his stupidity. Obama has been calling for new climate measures from the beginning. His only window of opportunity was during the first half of his first term. Do you fault him for choosing health care? He would never have gotten both through Congress at the same time.

      Politicians succeed when they are politic. They must recognize reality. You hold him to standards no President could meet.

  • Climate Change is hitting us Now & will only Worsen: When will We Start Acting Like Adults?
    • Progressives and intellectuals are always in a minority except when the US is in the midst of a giant existential crisis. It doesn't yet seem existential to the lumpen and provincial classes. They distrust us and don't read. When they do believe it will be too late.

      The key, of course, is to mobilize governments as it was done under FDR in WW II. It took Pearl Harbor and the Nazi declaration of war against us a few days later to accomplish that.

      Of course we've got to do it on our own even if others just ignore it. What choice is there?

    • My guess is that humans will make some marginal progress against emissions over twenty or thirty years and then muddle through in the filth and heat for a long time watching the last of what was beautiful shrivel and die. Air conditioned gardens until the ground water is all gone?

  • Egypt Shocks the World with Plan for Mass Execution of 528 Muslim Brothers
    • What do you suppose would be the effect of cutting off the war toys and money being sent to the Egyptians? Might it have an effect on the Israelis' calculations of their own interests?

  • The other Face of Putin's Olympics: Pussy Riot Whipped, Beaten for Protest Song at Sochi
    • I wanted to just reply: "Nonsense". But I knew Dr. Cole would send it to the dustbin of whatever. So, I'll say, "would you please be so kind as to document you conclusion as to the NYPD. Thank you so much, sir."

    • Nope, not quite 20 million, the current extremely conservative estimate, or the 60 million found in "Lethal Politics".

    • Absolutely shameful. Russian regimes come and go but Mother Russia remains no more capable of real liberalization today than she was in 1825 or in the 1840's. Beyond paranoid, violent, unassimilable within the western world, for all our faults she should have left the Olympics to Switzerland, or better to Bavaria.

      I've been "hoping against hope" that she could make it work but there is no redemption for the land of Solzhenitsyn and the Gulag Archipelago. They have no experience with decent governance. For me it's now "hope abandoned."

      The sheer guts of these young women was astounding. They knew the police were there and were running to the chosen location so as to get set up before the brutes arrived and they didn't want to give up even as the blows rained down. Putin, the current KGB Vozhd, is going to regret this, but only in private, whatever he might say openly nothing will actually change.

  • Dear GOP: Top 5 Biblical Marriage Moments far worse than Gay Marriage
    • Dr. Israel Shahak nutshelled it in the title of his book "Jewish History, Jewish Religion, The Weight of Three Thousand Years".

      In terms of social philosophy or political ideology, Christian adoption of the Jewish Bible/Torah was a terrible mistake, if only because Christ's major departure from Judaism was inclusive and largely humanist.

      Here is another example of the suffocating baggage the Christian tradition assumed:

      link to

  • How Iraq Vets against War & Peace Groups stopped Senate bid to derail Iran Talks
    • Bush and Cheney (with help from Sharon) put in motion the wars which Obama faced when first elected. They created those "facts on the ground". Obama's role has been to react to them. This is indisputable.

  • Race Inequality in America by Graph, from Crime Sentencing to Income
    • Hello Mark:

      "There are....variables other than discrimination that may be at play here."

      True indeed. As to the major ghettos today, the eternal white urge to discriminate has been mugged by a reality providing fewer opportunities. The intractable problems also defeat the best of unfettered "liberal" intentions. Even gentrification becomes very difficult because it is not economically feasible and there is no solution for the people uprooted.

      "One is that the death penalty is not even available or is rarely imposed in many states that have high percentage of white population e.g. Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, Oregon and Utah."

      The death penalty is theoretically based on the chimera of deterrence and the "ignobility" of revenge. As deterrence it *does not* work. We've known that for well over fifty years. Generation after generation of legal system professionals review the literature in the universities but the political reality doesn't change much. Some of the best give their entire lives to efforts at revocation of the death penalty. Professor Alan Clarke of Utah is a remarkable example, but the revenge-focused interests representing, it seems, an Old Testament Wrath of God, have been too atavistic and powerful.

      "Secondly, blacks very often have inadequate legal representation due to poverty."

      True, and there is a long history of both individual and systemic failures to achieve justice for whatever reason. They don't disappear over time, but change their form. (The classic on the quasi systemic side, awarded the Bancroft Prize, is N. R. McMillen's "Dark Journey" on the Jim Crow era in Mississippi.)

      The greatest problem arises when the death penalty is involved. It should be eliminated. There is no up-side to it. As a nation we can only gain from transcending it.

      On the professional side it is also true that when one does defense work and is committed to it, it's a bit of a let-down when the realization comes that almost all defendants are in fact guilty. Prosecutors are pragmatic and very busy. As a general rule they don't like to burden themselves with marginal cases when the standard for conviction at trial is proof "beyond a reasonable doubt". Their statistic is the conviction rate.

      "Thirdly, the rate of criminal recidivism is higher among the black population and this is a legitimate basis for a judge or jury to impose the death penalty."

      We should seek to legitimize the death penalty? I don't think so. The legitimacy arguments are deterrence and revenge, ineffective and ignoble. Clinging to them is redolent of thousands of years of human savagery to say nothing of being grossly inefficient economically. There is no discernable up-side for the country and that is what we should be searching for.

      "It also should be noted that areas of high black populations e.g. Detroit, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, the government is often dominated by liberal Democrats at the prosecutorial and judicial levels and this leads to leniency in prosecutorial discretion at the charging and plea-bargaining levels and also leniency by judges during pre-trial rand trial proceedings and during sentencing.

      How can you speak of liberal leniency when in fact Dr. Cole's statistics prove that it doesn't exist?

    • The question is pedagogical.

      Many people enter voting booths without the slightest understanding that they are voting on matters related to their personal economic futures and those of their families and class. Many of them think that elections are about the Second Coming, the Second Amendment and abortion and supporting Israel because of having been told that it's the quickest way to get to Heaven (and to send most Jews to Hell).

      So how are the Great Unwashed to be convinced to open their minds. And who is to teach them?

    • It's talked about because of its volume which adds to the overall misery of life in the American urban ghettos. That's perfectly legitimate.

    • "One is that the death penalty is not even available or is rarely imposed in many states that have high percentage of white population e.g. Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, Oregon and Utah."

      Permit me to add a little Michigan chauvanism. We have not executed anyone since ending capital punishment in roughly the first third of the 19th Century. I recall one effort to reinstate it, but it gained little traction. By and large we seem to be content not to be tainted by killing people in response to them having killed other people. We have't succumbed to the voyeurism stimulated by the death penalty. If we could just ban it nationwide I think there would be great sighs of relief eventually---even in Texas.

    • Equality before the law is what the Constitution promises us.
      But that same Constitution enshrines loosely bridled individualism and competition and therefore guarantees economic inequality. So the use of the latter term when speaking of relative income, net worth, etc., is a bit suspect. We don't do economic "equality" in the U.S.

      I'm convinced that the gigantic disproportion in the rate of incarceration is more than anything a function of poverty which in turn is directly related to crime rates. People who exercise the sacred right to sleep under bridges risk the commission of far more serious crimes than those with jobs and a nest eggs. They are especially sensitive to downturns in the economy. Would that there were a graph depicting relative desperation levels.

      The legal system is a human institution, not a machine. It has faults. It also faces realities not so well understood, especially in densely packed urban areas where Blacks are penned into ghettos by their economic situation. If the economic circumstances of African-Americans and European-Americans were reversed one can hardly doubt that there would be a giant spike in the crime rates of the latter.

      So the primary problem whether we like to hear it or not is one of social engineering though I have no idea as to how it can be done. We tried the welfare solution for a long time. We still have some affirmative action programs. I used to wonder about a housing approach to breaking up the ghettos and dispersal, but have concluded that it is impossible.

      Black on Black crime is an immense problem which urban judges have in the backs of their minds regarding sentencing. How do the interests of middle and lower middle class ghetto residents factor in against the background of attempts to pacify the Baghdad of South Chicago?

  • Beyond the disappointment of Marines: What's Really going on in Fallujah?
    • The article I commented on was about Falluja and Anbar Province in Iraq, not Syria. I have seen a lot of video taken in Syria, however; it's a blood-soaked mess.

      We have a large measure of responsibility for every war in the region at least since 1967. What we've done there is inexcusable including what we've done to ourselves. We need the lowest of profiles feasible in the region. And we need to reassess the supine nature of our relationship with Israel from the bottom up. She needs to be leashed tightly with the alternative being to go it alone. You should have put me in the White house, JT. I'd have done these things by now.

      As to the Middle East this is something of a blog for policy wonks. I'm probably the least of them. Have you any suggestions on those lines? Concrete suggestions?

    • There is an interesting article about Anbar and Falluja here:

      link to

    • Cool, measured and pretty comprehensive on the spot journalism. All of a sudden we actually know something of what's happening in Falluja. This article ought to be mirrored to the MSM, but of course it won't be. Thank you.

      By the way, I've been poking around in the trove of alternative sources you have provided us. It's extremely useful. Its existence can't be known much outside of scholars and government people. Thanks again.

  • More Solar Workers in US than Coal Miners, and Solar doesn't Poison Drinking Water
    • So the majority of the people in northeastern Wyoming will vote against climate change?! That's what fighting tooth and nail means? They already vote Republican so it means nothing.

      And when the jobs go they will still leave, right? Just as happened in White Pine and Calumet and Butte. So much for "tooth and nail". ..

      You should be giving your neighbors better advice. Another industry is expanding while yours is contracting. They will just need to move to where economic opportunity exists. In the meantime you are shooting yourselves in the feet by voting Republican. You fail to consult your own interests. When the lights go out in White Pine they are turning on somewhere else.

    • I take it you believe there is no such thing as perpetual motion?

  • Putinism in Cairo? The Rise of the Russian Model
    • Bill said:

      "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....we will have only ourselves to blame."

      Blame? Who could possibly blame us for snookering Putin's Russia into assuming our idiot 'responsibilities' for paying-off Egypt on behalf of Israel? The geostrategic considerations of the Cold War evaporated 23 years ago and the USSR was bankrupt years, even decades, before that. The rump state lurks about the fringes remembering the glory days of her imperial past, but she is not really a player in the Middle East and has neither the wherewithal nor the geographical location to become one any time soon.

      " There is a place for advancing democracy and human rights in our toolkit, but it is best accomplished through quiet diplomacy."

      Is giving Egypt over a billion in weapons every year "quiet diplomacy"? We all know what it is for. It's akin to a Mafia protection racket.

      "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."

      Seriously? 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.

  • Israel to Implant 9-Storey Ultra-Orthodox Seminary in Palestinian East Jerusalem
    • I couldn't agree with you more. The problem is Israeli expansionism and the ideological nonsense which underlies it.

      If readers believe that Abbas is the obstructionist, they should read this:

      link to

    • To take a page from the settlers' book the Palestinians would have to be individually armed as were 18th Century militiamen. They would also have to be protected by a standing army and police. But as you say, they are helpless. They can only be assisted from the outside, most particularly under the leadership of the United States. But the U.S., under far greater political pressure than is Israel, remains at the stage where even civilian boycotts must be labeled as "unhelpful." And this, as if the application of any pressure at all on Israel were out of the question given the ferocity of her Lobby.

      In the words of Ilan Pappe, the Palestinians have been reduced to the status of "hostile aliens in their own homeland." ('The Forgotten Palestinians')

  • Can Obama make a grand bargain with Iran over Syria?
    • I see the Syrian problem as but a part of an overall crisis and believe that it should be dealt with in its entirety, not piecemeal.

      To quote myself:

      "In whose interest would omitting Iran, Hezbollah (the P.A.) and Hamas from the negotiations be?"

      And then: "Are all the necessary parties involved in both of these negotiations?"

      I've got a bit of a conflict here, and I'd like to avoid this professional conceit, but those who have looked at it systematically know that the Anglo-American common law system is the greatest monument to common sense ever compiled. It is so vast that it is hard to find significant situations not yet addressed and built upon. And when an *experienced* practitioner comes upon a set of facts unique to him, intuition often leads correctly to a solution once he opens the books and consults the authorities. I operate below simply by analogy, but I think it is elegant and very powerful.

      The Hamas and Hezbollah resistance movements and the more domesticated authorities on the West Bank obviously have stakes in the outcome in the region and in Syria particularly, and the way in which the overall problem is resolved will be incomplete and probably useless if they and Iran are excluded from the process.

      The courts have encountered so many analogous situations and have resolved them in light of simple justice and pragmatism that the rules generated long ago by judges have been codified. They are found in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, rules 18 and 19 on "joinder". Of particular pertinence is the material on "compulsory joinder" in FRCP, Rule 19.

      There are many reasons why the legal system requires every interested party to be before the court if it is at all feasible. First, they want the results at trial to be final. What could be more important to the interminable conflict in the Middle East? The key to finality is that the results to comport with justice and law. This is often impossible when interested parties are denied access.

      I believe it obvious that in terms of finality in the practical sense this principle should be applied rigorously.

      The Israelis hate the idea. They are in the business of labeling individuals and movements on the theory that justice delayed is justice denied. All the significant participants should be parties to the negotiations and others permitted some sort of observer status so their input is factored in. To get it right it's going to have to be comprehensive and perhaps more complex than than it was at Versailles after WW I. It can be done and done right. It's just not going to be easy but the process has begun.

    • joe from Lowell 2014.02.14 11:56

      "It is because of Iran’s efforts to boost the Assad regime, in order to bolster its regional power, that Iran’s cooperation in necessary to get to a peace deal. Iran needs to knock that off, and work to push the Syrian government to deal, in order for there to be any chance of success."

      Was not Iran supporting both the Assad regime and Hezbollah too?

      Doesn't telling Iran to stop supporting Assad mean also that the two of them must stop supporting Hezbollah? That's a bit of a hard one.

      In whose interest would this be? Are all the necessary parties involved in both of these negotiations?

      I know we were talking to Hezbollah indirectly via the British last November and December. It would seem inefficient at best for them not to be in this loop.

      By the way, the indirect negotiations with Hezbollah were necessary because of American legislation preventing direct negotiations with designated "terrorists". Could AIPAC have drafted that legislation as an aid to our hard working Congress? If so why do we let such things happen instead of enforcing FARA?

      We always make peace with our enemies. That’s why it’s called “making peace.”

      Of course, but is Hezbollah a part of either set of negotiations? Isn't sorting that out necessary? How is peace to be made on the Palestinian/Israeli track without all these issues being dealt with simultaneously under one umbrella?

    • Change Iran Now wrote:

      "Iran continues to build a ring of supporters in Iraq , Syria, Lebanon and Egypt built on cooperation with terror groups and dictators that massacre their own people. The future of any peace deal in Syria cannot have Iran involved if there is any hope for a future without terror, human rights violence and the imposition of yet another radical Islamic religious theocracy."

      Your post repeats Israeli propaganda:

      Erection of a "ring of supporters" is a garden variety effort at containment and balancing the power of a very dangerous, self-declared enemy of Iran, Israel. It is also an irregular counter-offensive against European colonialists. What more justifications might be required?

      The familiar "terror groups and dictators" epithets has no more operational significance than did "Hun" and "Bosch" during WW I or "The War on Terror" today. Israel has a terrible human rights record and its supporters understandably wish to detract attention from it.

      "Massacring their own people" isn't one whit different from massacring neighbors and occupied people. So what's the purpose?

      The claim that "The future of any peace deal in Syria cannot have Iran involved...." is both baseless and counter-intuitive unless it is meant to be deceptive. Iran has national interests in the region. If she can not serve them by entering into an agreement, one is hard put to explain why she should bother. You neither address that fact nor do you acknowledge that the powers working on a settlement with Israel's enemies despite her constant obstructionism have their own interests in this matter. They differ from what Zionists think are theirs.

      A cooperative Iran can only bring "..... terror, human rights violence and the imposition of yet another radical Islamic religious theocracy." But a hostile, isolated, bomb-building and sanctioned Iran will be somehow better for all concerned? Would that nostrum apply to Israel, a heavily religious colonial ethnocracy?

      Your post contains the indicia of current Israeli propaganda and Mr. Netanyahu's attempts to shift attention from what he is doing in the West Bank to Iran.

  • Abraham Foxman To Step Down as Anti-Defamation League Chief
  • 8 Unsustainable Delusions of the American Way of Life
    • Our business and government people have never assumed the full costs of their operations and passed them on to the public in the form of higher prices and taxes. They have always had to face competition from domestic and foreign dumpers. This worldview is probably ineradicable.

      My generation, the one born as WW II was beginning, was the first to rebel against it on a mass level. It really became quite obsessive. We understood each other, coast to coast. Many of us also raged against the Vietnam War. They were often shared causes which added to the nearly unfunded exhaustion.

      Eventually it became apparent that though we won many very fine individual victories all over the country we could really only slow down the retrograde process, not reverse it. We had to win them all to avoid falling behind. That just wasn't possible, for us anyway.

      And now environmental problems are understood to be global and deadly in the short to medium term, a major additional discouragement.

      I gradually fell away from the movement and put my full efforts to making a living in the fashion of normal people.

      Does anyone here believe that the price we will have to pay to arrest and correct these degenerative developments at the global level is anything less than the imposition of totalitarian systems?

  • Brokers of Deceit: Massive US Aid to Israel has Enabled a Colonial Project
    • But this is a very good sign, indeed.

      link to

    • With all respect you've got it wrong, Mr. Dillard. Israel said "no". And that was all that mattered, advantage having been taken of weaknesses in our political system. The U.S. did pretty much whatever Israel said--until recently anyway.

      If this President doesn't follow-through he will have been a failure unredeemed by successes such as health care, and the nation will continue to suffer mightily for it. It's do or die for him. And for the rest of us too. The Lobby is the enemy. We must go straight at it. We must first cure ourselves. And I seriously doubt than many Europeans will differ here.

      Resist the tendency to lump Israel and the U.S. together. They represent very different pathologies.

      Why shift it to a court system which is not even an arm of government and can't enforce its decrees? We as a nation owe it to ourselves to impose our interests upon the Lobby and thus the Israelis. You might as well turn it over to the Vatican and expect something decisive. But any American President can do it.

    • "A separate peace that neutralized the Egyptian military and allowed crushing of Palestinians?"

      No question mark required. That is exactly what it did!

  • Top 10 Reasons Rand Paul's Lewinsky Gambit Can't Obscure GOP War on Women
    • That's an excellent article, Bill. I've been worried about her for several years. Of course I'll vote for her over any Republican, but I'm not confident that she will contribute to bringing the Lobby to heel on behalf of the American people.

  • In midst of Alleged Peace Talks, Israel Announces Hundreds of new Squatter Homes in Palestinian East Jerusalem
    • And so, the negotiations must continue without interruption, and for every Israeli provocation there must be a more than equal punishment, openly described as such.

  • A $9 Trillion War? Top 10 Reasons Americans will Regret it if GOP Derails Iran Negotiations
    • In paraphrase the forty Senators from Tel Aviv have been told by AIPAC to back away from the new sanctions bill because it should be bi-partisan and the Republicans should not have to take all the heat politically for a collapse of negotiations. It looks for the time being that the White House has a victory.

      I hadn't known the Iranian web site existed. Thank you.

      I agree for what it's worth with you assessment of the candor displayed in it.

    • "Iran gave up too much in the current talks already; what more do they want?"

      The Iranians seem to have decided that irrespective of the outcome of the talks and relief from the sanctions it is in their best interests to be forthcoming on the nuclear issue. For what it's worth I believe they are right. Coming clean with the IAEA will put an end to any legitimate criticism, vastly diminish the threat of attack and leave Netanyahu alone, digging the hole he is in deeper and deeper.

    • The war tax is a great idea. So is the draft with its own catch 22: sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of Legislators who vote for a war of choice to be the first drafted. No education or parental exemptions. All draft physicals done blindly.

    • Bill,

      You seem to be up to snuff on the naval side of a new war in the Gulf. Can you articulate a rationale for keeping capital ships and extensive naval bases in and on those enclosed waters? They look to me to be sitting ducks of dubious military value. Is there really any reason other than to provide a modicum of anti-missile defence for Israel?

      On the other hand if we withdrew them and sought blue water it would I think have a salutary effect on the Israelis. And the latter is something we need more than anything else.

      At present I am having difficulty with the prospect of losing a single additional American life for that regime and think that the sooner they know it the better.

    • Hello Rudolph,

      Everything we touch over there turns to dreck, especially those things we touch with boots.

      That's also true when we confuse what's good for us with what Israel thinks is good for her.

      Accordingly we must be doing the wrong things, or touching them anyway, and keeping bad company. That's inescapable, no?

      So, might the answer be to touch nothing and cease consulting the Israelis? I think we should try that. It's an off-shore policy sort of like that being used by Iran right before our eyes. Thanks to Professor Cole we know that she is currently showing the Iranian flag in or near the Atlantic Ocean off, perhaps, Namibia. It's a DD, not a BB, but that flag flutters proudly at the masthead and everything western will remain at peace. As a result we will have a new best friend and ally which will be a lot easier to get along with.

      So what do you think?

    • JT,

      Don't you think that most Congressional people must detest AIPAC? They watch it corrupting an institution they are no doubt proud of having risen to. Even Presidents have to attend its annual Conventions to be shown off as if trophies with smiles frozen to their faces.

      My guess about the human nature factor is that they cave under threat and must be humiliated by it. It must be made worse that the people representing the threat are committing crimes under FARA every day? I should think it's akin to helplessly submitting to a Mafia protection racket or suffering the daily humiliation of being a prostitute. To survive professionally they must violate their oaths and self-respect and support policies they know are contrary to the interests of the American people. That's got to be an unpleasant price to pay for the campaign bribes.

    • I'm glad you are here, Spyguy. And want you to be the real thing.

    • Not closed, perhaps, to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps if somehow it really, really comes to matter, but the Oceanic Oil Transport Insurance Industry will see to it that the Straits are closed to commerce and thus to catastrophic claims at the first whiff of cordite. And if that risk isn't currently insured, the owners will do it.

      If push really comes to shove I'll be surprised if that last nuclear carrier and its high tech support group steaming around in circles in the confined waters the Gulf don't seek blue water before a war actually begins. How do we benefit by losing them to showers of anti-ship missiles as nothing more than a demonstration of American courage?

      Oh well, I just now read Chet's comment. I'll post mine anyway. Sorry, Chet.

  • Let's See: Major Droughts in Drying West; Fracking a Water Hog and Causes Drought...
  • Iraq says recoverable oil reserves stand at 15 billion barrels
    • I went to Azzaman. "15" billion is a typo. It's 150 billion, up from 120 billion.

  • NSA's Zero Day Exploits: Paying $800 mn. to Hackers so they Can Spy on You
    • What it is boiling down to is an unaccountable accumulation of potentially vast power featuring government and industry combined against us as individuals.

      We are atomized on this electronic frontier and stand before these interests as soon to be self-muted and powerless individuals. Our representatives in Washington display no sense of history and almost no concern for the critical necessity of privacy in a democracy. Privacy is a source of legitimate power which is being denied us.

      Your adversaries in combination have this power. You as an individual will soon have none. There is no way you can threaten them. And it looks as though it may be true that you will have no way to combine in turn against them.

  • Camel Bones and Jerusalem: Archeology Shows Bible written Late, Full of Errors
    • "... the Exodus story has authentic Egyptian elements suggesting that it is a reworking of some historical event."

      There was no such reworking of events. Instead there was contact through trade between Egypt and other parts of the region. So of course there were authentic Egyptian flavorings in the fables. There were also Egyptian invasions of the Levant. Those armies were living Egyptian elements. Men from the Nile Delta were a familiar phenomenon. But there is no basis whatever for crediting myth which has no archaeological or historical basis whatever. That's especially so when it is used as justification for naked aggression in the 21st Century.

      No one here wishes to deny you the Torah, but there is certainly great resistance to the use of it to justify war crimes and territorial aggression in the 21st Century.

    • I hadn't heard of that interesting tidbit, but there was a conference of Bishops held in the Levant about three centuries after the death of Christ which decided what the Christian Canon was going to consist of. It was then that the Old Testament was grafted upon it. One shudders when thinking of the impact of that.

    • Naw, we're just enjoying ourselves.

    • That's right. Those two are capable of only a single opinion.

  • Broken Democracy: Republicans poised to take Senate, Americans Reject their Platform
    • Hello, Brian.

      Surely elections are the ultimate polls as they are decisive.

      But, a vote is not necessarily an informed expression of a person's legitimate *interests*.

      The Republican Party has two wings, yours and that of the corporate interests. The corporate guys' extremely counter-intuitive political marriage to you folks is one of convenience only, not principle. Without you they would never be elected. They don't take you seriously at all because in fact the two of you are as different as oil and water. Their women will always have access to abortion and contraception. Their gay kids will always be protected and comfortable, and you will never know the history of their failure of actual commitment and loyalty to your personal values. For them such matters will always be private. And you will never know anything about them.

      The fact that voters can be easily led to vote against themselves has been understood by social scientists and studied systematically by political operatives since the 1920s. The techniques used to accomplish it are carefully cultivated and kept rigorously up-to-date.

      It is easy for professional political operatives to finesse the dialogue away from what people need, e.g., occasional periods of peace, health care, employment and decent wages, retirement, education, opportunity and a level playing field. If you don't care about such things the Republican Party is just right for you. It doesn't either.

      You use the term "values" without reference to "interests". A person's values are just that, personal, and must remain so if we are to continue as a free people. You may recall, for example, that our Constitution separates government and religion.

      There are respectable differences of opinion and it is coercive to impose values congenial to you upon others. You can promote your values in day to day life encounters with others. But to attempt the imposition of them is coercive and demeaning. In short, other peoples' values are none of your business. American Liberties are senior to your personal values.

      How can you "tolerantly and lovingly" deny to others the right to live their lives according to their values? That after all is what your alliance with the Republicans actually means. It's an opportunity for an imposition. When you take your personal values to the political level this is exactly the intent you signal.

      "I believe you support homosexual marriage, Dr. Cole, because you don’t know what’s at issue."

      What's at issue? How about individual liberty in a world without arbitrary discrimination? In WW II gays were murdered by governments They are still discriminated against almost everywhere. Aren't these things at issue? How about your inability to imagine a world wherein the institution of heterosexual marriage is not put at risk by the fact that it co-exists with a right of gay people to marry too?

      "I cannot fathom why you support killing humans just before they are born."

      I won't dignify that with a response.

      "You seem so smart on issues in your core competencies."

      What is it which makes these issues somehow within your core competence? Have you evaluated that closely? Is it a "traditional value" to have no access to health care or to be driven into bankruptcy when you get sick? Is it a traditional value that there are no full time jobs and that the part time ones are minimum wage and have no benefits? Is it in support of traditional values that the American working class must send mothers into the work force to make ends meet when they should have the opportunity to be nurturing their children in the home? If any of that stuff troubles you at all, you're in the wrong party.

  • Islamic State of Iraq & Levant too Extreme for al-Qaeda (Not the Onion)
    • Excellent. A window on reality. Thank you for this.

    • Paraphrased:

      "My “book on warfare”... is “Catch-22.” From other reading, I try to understand what’s really going on and illuminate the idiocy of the whole Pentagram thing."

      "Just because we CAN go to war...does not mean
      we should."

      Hello, McPhee.

      I served in a cushy USMC posting on an aircraft carrier in the peacetime late 50's. So there is one unbridgeable difference between our experiences, combat. But as we lawyers come to know almost everything anyway it probably doesn't matter. And the solution is institutional anyway.

      One of the things I have come to know is that diminishing returns accrue when one focuses on a single aspect of any complex problem.

      Another is that the Inter-Galactic Office For American Imperial Assessments and Military Interventionist Planning has no phone number or street address. Its product is deep state stuff with lots of rubber stampings unavailable to mere earthlings until decades after the damage is done. We don't know what interests are consulted or the personalities involved. Mere fodder will be called upon to fly and hump the "missions," but it will know little to nothing about how and why the whole thing came about. That would "endanger national security" to say nothing of the peddlers of undue influence.

      We don't understand the input, the factual presumptions, the judgments, the full motivations, the most relevant history; and they are never written about or discussed in public by the ACTORS in timely fashion. The identity of most of those actors is not even made public. Worst, the inside evaluation of actual American interests in the various regions to be assaulted, the cost-benefit stuff, is not disclosed in the open either. We have little opportunity to evaluate them ourselves in real time and no resources for accomplishing it either. We natter on the Net through succeeding decades, still pissed-off, some even as profoundly pissed-off as you, while the trove of evidence lies secured in locked files and the witnesses die off or suffer dementia, it eventually no longer seeming to matter.

      Plans for "projected-power" interventions are not questioned by America's best and brightest as would befit their importance, much less by the Americans impacted in myriad ways by the wars.

      Something's wrong when the most important and dangerously freighted processes are matters to which we have no access. The men who pass down "the word" are as if Gods, but Gods which nevertheless have the moral fiber and basic humanity of George Bush and Dick Cheney and the reliability of those Wolfowitz and Feith operatives for a hostile foreign country whose first names I seem to have repressed.

      So why not craft an exception to the rules around national security to include the principle that "just trust us, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to whom we testify in confidence, and the 13%-approval-rated-Congress too" doesn't cut it on matters of war and peace, and that public disclosure of everything in advance is nowhere near so dangerous as is being misled or lied into catastrophic wars which we can then not even reconsider and put to an early end?

      The system reeks, it's stacked, my friend. But no matter how nearly impossible it will be to change it, the result would be an impediment to what now are essentially flim-flammed wars of choice of immense stupidity such as we have experienced in the Middle East.

  • The Cheapening of American Politics: Why did Obama reward O'Reilly with an Interview?
    • "You can’t condemn Fox for being a tool of the Republican Party....."

      What!? Quite the opposite, the Republican Party doesn't even exist in an objective sense. It is illusory, a mere sack for receiving and disbursing political contributions. We're very free to condemn it while humming something from the soundrack of the Wizard of Oz. IT, the Republican Party, IS Fox and its ilkish interests. The Party is a mere husk, a front, a vehicle which people think represents reality. It is not even remotely a movement. It goes out of business every four years and then is re-constituted in time for the next electoral contest. Think about that for a minute. And who owns Fox? The Republican Party? Ha! Think about that too.

      MSNBC was created as part of a *counter-offensive* against Fox and has always been much more responsible even though it is no more a news channel than its opponent. There is more editorial and spin than news and they waste a lot of time on their domestic causes, e.g., race related criminal cases, etc., which are not the nation's greatest problems at the moment.

      It's primary faults are two and three "heads" talking at once and its failure to cover the Middle East along with the related political problems in Washington AT ALL. So it too is conflicted though it's hard for liberals not to like the Rev Al, Chris, Rachel and crew.

      Though the format is conventiona., a real travesty is CNN which, though able now to test the wind, still can not bring itself to cover Israel's criminal policies honestly. It's time for the ownership to retire the oh so sad and sensitive and delicate and deeply conflicted Wolf Blitzer, the sympathetic biographer of Jonathan Pollard.

    • Yes, thanks Juan, until the internet has become so compromised by the deep ones that you have become a cherished but distant memory.

    • "Conservatives" were once a respectable political breed with an intellectual heritage going back to the 18th Century.

      They harbored a concern for long-term stability. They viewed change with suspicion and wanted its necessity tested carefully in advance.

      They were not reactionary, but they were definitely hostile to the various terrors of the French Revolution and supported private property as a bulwark against such indignities.

      They may not even exist today. They have died-off because they were too cautious and responsible for the modern era. That's why there is a certain nostalgia here for men such as Barry Goldwater, honest, decent, principled conservatives.

      Today their successors are of two factions, one ignorant, reactionary and provincial in the worst sense, unwittingly working to destroy the future of their own southern fried people, and the other, nearly silent in public, deeply manipulative and hard at work shaping the future so as to own it even at the risk of bringing the totalitarian temptation back into good repute.

      How many here are are even remotely comfortable about the future of the country or even of mankind? Probably not too many.

    • "Bill" doesn't interview. He's there to interrupt, to intimidate ands to trap the people he interrogates. He's there to prevent them from being heard. It's not journalism. It's gutter politics.

    • Bill Bodden 2014.02.03 01:08 Reply
      “Why give Fox that boon? Why give it to a serial killer of the truth like O’Reilly?”
      'Because there was a perception that there was something in it for Obama.'

      The question is more likely what you imagine is in it for yourself in asking vacuous rhetorical questions meant actually to be insults.

  • Israeli Pols attack Sec. Kerry over Boycott Remarks: "Can't negotiate with a gun to our Heads"
  • Now Peace Talks, John Kerry, are "Anti-Semitic" in Eyes of Israeli Far Right
    • I'm not a scholar, just an obscure old guy deeply concerned about these inhuman travesties now for decades. This wonderful thread by serious, knowledgeable people all in one place makes me believe that I will live to see a just resolution.

  • Christie, Clapper and other Officials who should be in Jail instead of Snowden
    • This is for Joseph and anyone who was following the exchange on the Soviet Union and the containment doctrine above. It is a C-Span interview of Dr. Judy Shelton, author of The Coming Soviet Crash. I watched it live the year her book was published and immediately thereafter bought it. It still serves to inform students of Soviet history as to how the system worked or more particularly how it failed to work. It features a woman who is, perhaps, the most charismatic economist since Adam Smith.

      link to

    • If they let up on Snowden they are admitting culpability, even admitting crimes. There is also the real struggle here between government hard-liners and the White House: implicit and probably real threats of mass resignations, leaks and various goings public which would tend to focus on what the President knew and when he knew it. He is a prisoner of the security state.

    • The dangers were in fact grossly underestimated for lack of access to the tightly held information. That's because they they included the deaths of captive civilian populations. Between 1917 and the mid-1980s Marxist regimes murdered or otherwise caused the deaths of a hundred million people, not including deaths in warfare, so there is context at least if not justification for the six million deaths in Asia you mention above. (The Black Book of Communism, put together by four French scholars whom I understand to have been of the left)

      The U.S. IS an imperialist nation in the post-colonial sense. Who could deny it. Just look at our behavior in the Middle East since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    • Hello Joseph. Thanks for the response.

      I agree, there is still a lot of anger about Vietnam and will be at least until after that generation has passed from the stage. There are many reasons for it and you touch a few, all but one of which are extraneous to the point I raised.

      Here's what I said: They (Vietnam and our Middle Eastern wars) aren’t easily evaluated side by side, but the formal rationale for Vietnam at least made superficial sense. Our entanglements in the Middle-East have been crack-pot from the beginning.

      I used the phrase "the formal rationale". Yes, that was the doctrine of containment set forth in Foreign Affairs a couple of years after the end of WW II by "X", George Kennan. It became something of a Western ideology during the Cold War justifying political and military blocking of the expansion of Marxist/Leninist, Stalinist, and Maoist regimes and their minor spin-offs. It had an applied history, substance, and a clear meaning. Yet you say: "The US mass media and politicians of gold sourced the pressure to “contain communism”, a notion with no history or means of success."

      It had a history at least as old as the nation state and balance of power politics supplemented by formal alliances and military establishments, and far from having no means of success the measures it justified did in fact achieve major successes through those systems whatever might be thought of them politically. Two can be said to have been the liberation of Eastern Europe and the Baltics and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1991, respectively. Another was the expulsion of the Red Army from Afghanistan by Charlie Wilson and his charming lady friend, both from Texas.

      And so, the formal rationale for Vietnam, containment of Marxist/Leninist/Maoist-type totalitarian systems at least made superficial sense. They were prima facie coherent. Our entanglements in the Middle-East since then have been crack-pot from the beginning as is proved by their formal rationale, the totally illogical "War on Terror".

    • "It isn’t mind-boggling at all. Our national justice (sic) system is corrupt and based on Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” Some are just more equal than others."

      Too cynical. It has many faults which few with experience of it would be foolish enough to deny, but it's the cleanest of the three branches. That is because of its structure, its professionalism and relative discipline.

    • "The long war on terror even after only a decade will probably be viewed by historians as the worst foreign policy debacle since the era of the Vietnam War"

      They aren't easily evaluated side by side, but the formal rationale for Vietnam at least made superficial sense. Our entanglements in the Middle-East have been crack-pot from the beginning.

    • The vast, vast bulk of Americans have no idea what we're talking about, no concern whatever.

    • Some don't appear. The award is given anyway.

      I'm sure he could use the cash for day to day expenses.

    • "2nd level priority is industrial/corporate/economic"

      Who are the clients? With whom do the clients compete? What is the quid pro quo with NSA? How are the Israelis involved--they receive the raw data too.

      This appears to pretty much define "rogue".

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