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Total number of comments: 273 (since 2013-12-09 08:30:46)

Hunter Watson

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  • 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."

      Joseph,

      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 dwindlinginunbelief.blogspot.mx

  • 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 azzaman.com

    • 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 forward.com?

    • 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 prnewswire.com

    • 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 c-span.org

    • 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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