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Total number of comments: 64 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:16)

Jabo

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  • Montazeri recording surfaces condemning mass killings that Haunt Iran's Revolution
    • Montazeri was a great man. However, how can we explain (not justify) the regime's hardliners' unacceptable brutality to those they deem "dissidents"? It comes down to Iran's modern history of outside domination and, therefore, lack of true sovereignty. The West's support of Iraq during the horrific Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s only confirmed the hardliners in their extreme worldview. Consider the following explanation for the current behavior of the hardliners: One explanation for the Iranian regime’s brutal treatment of those it deemed dissidents, is that some influential hard-liners saw “a world laced with malevolent conspiracies, one in which journalists [and others], both domestic and foreign, were operatives in an international web of spies determined to bring down the Islamic Republic. [While such] claims were outsized [they were] not altogether incredible in a country that understood itself to be beset by powerful enemies. The United States under President George W. Bush had invaded two neighboring countries and declared Iran a member of an ‘Axis of Evil.’ It had also adopted an explicit policy of ‘regime change’ in Iran and expressed a desire to distribute money to Iranian opposition groups. What preoccupied Iranian hard-liners most of all were the bloodless revolutions in former Soviet satellites, where opposition forces, sometimes overtly or covertly supported by Western foundations and government affiliates, had succeeded in removing repressive regimes unfriendly to American interests. The Islamic Republic was not wrong in imagining itself a potential target of such efforts. But the determination to stave off a ‘velvet’ overthrow would become both paranoid fixation and carte blanche for internal repression.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israeli forces evict Palestinian family in East Jerusalem to make room for Israeli Squatters
    • Separate and Unequal: “What the government of Israel calls its eternal, undivided capital is among the most precarious, divided cities in the world….[The Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem] have separate buses, schools, health facilities, commercial centres, and speak a different language. In their neighbourhoods, Israeli settlers and border police are frequently pelted with stones…Balloons equipped with cameras hover above East Jerusalem, maintaining surveillance over the Palestinian population. Most Israelis have never visited and don’t even know the names of the Palestinian areas their government insists on calling its own. Municipal workers come to these neighbourhoods with police escorts.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • The Plague of Karimov's Rule in Uzbekistan
    • Thanks for your cogent analysis Juan!
      As you write, kleptocracies breed extremism. In fact, their dictators prefer to have extremists as opponents so they can justify dictatorial behavior.
      What do you expect to happen to Karimov’s daughter, Gulnora Karimova, the Queen of corruption?
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Arab Street Shocked as Saudi Delegation Visits Israel
    • The lack of genuine Saudi Royal concern for Palestinians is an old story. (An Islamic absolute monarchy is challenged by democratic secular movements. And, like any country, its first priority is regime survival.) Consider: “Dealing with Arab and Israeli leaders on the Palestinian issue must have been eye-opening for…president [Obama]. Publicly Arab rulers pressed him on Palestine, but privately all they wanted to talk about was defanging Iran (the same is true of the Israelis)….When Obama met Abdullah in Riyadh in June 2009, most of the hour-long meeting was taken up with a royal lecture on the Iranian threat. The Saudi king wanted America to fix the Iranian problem, not the Palestinian one, and he did not want any linkages between the two issues. In that, the king and Netanyahu were on the same page.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Nice, France, Attack: A Gandhian Response to Serial Killers
    • Cynthia Mahmood, a scholar who studies militants, says that “they are more ‘regular’ human beings than we would like to admit, and that we purposefully isolate and exoticize them because we don’t want to think they are anything like us [nor that] we are [likewise] capable of terrible behavior… In fact, we know that the suicide bombers in Paris were French or Belgian citizens; they were people’s neighbors and schoolmates.”

      “[W]e need to recognize that part of the reason that militants do what they do is because of the asymmetrical power structure that differentiates us from them. We are powerful, they are not….We need to ask the question, what brought them to the point where they think that they are so powerless that they need to amplify their voice through atrocious acts, like beheadings, to get attention? It’s an extreme alienation…They have a way to get our attention and inspire fear in us.”

      “[W]e have to play the long game, and [accept] that a solution will only come when we engage the Muslim community in a positive way….By shedding the concept of ‘terrorism,’ and looking at the driving forces behind specific militant acts, we can get at root causes and address them.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Is Iran winning their Mideast Cold War with Saudi Arabia?
    • In addition to the valid points in the article, an enduring existential "threat to Saudi Arabia from Iran is not that it is ‘Persian’ or Shia, but that it is simultaneously Islamic and republican—that it seeks to integrate principles and institutions of Islamic governance with participatory politics and elections while maintaining a strong commitment to foreign policy independence.” Saudi royals, in contrast (and for obvious reasons), preach to their citizens the necessity of coupling an absolute monarchy and Islam. (For the same reasons, Saudi royals see the Muslim Brotherhood as a serious threat.) link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • How ISIL's attacks on Saudi Arabia aimed at Undermining the Monarchy's Legitimacy
    • ROYAL BLOWBACK, IN PART: Let's remember the invasion and occupation of the Grand Mosque in Mecca on 20 Nov. 1979 by five hundred Wahhabi fanatic salafis; the rebels were products of Wahhabi mosques. What was the Royal response to the Grand Mosque attack? Granting more authority to the ulema and tightening religious restrictions on Saudis. What was the result of the Royal response? ... link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israeli Land Theft: 440% Increase in 2016
    • Is the following accurate? "[J]erusalem’s Applied Research Institute has reported a population of some 766,000 Israeli settlers residing in illegal settlements scattered across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem."
      According to a highly reliable source, by 2010, the number of illegal Jewish settlers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) was approximately 500,000 (see question 15 of the link, below). It is highly unlikely that this number has increased by over 250,000 in five years. If someone has credible information, please provide a link. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Top 3 Signs Bill Clinton didn't kill himself to "give" the Palestinians a State
    • After Camp David failed, Barak said Israel had no partner for peace and Clinton echoed Barak's claim. The result of these condemnations--by ostensibly left-leaning leaders--of Palestinian leadership was to enable right-wing Likudniks to sideline any calls for peace negotiations.

      The condensed story: According to respected historian, Ahron Bregman, in mid-June 2000, President Clinton "reported…to Barak that he had found a very suspicious Arafat, complaining that what the prime minister [Barak] sought was to trap him into coming to a summit, at the end of which Clinton would blame him for its inevitable failure. Clinton explained that he had promised Arafat that should he call a summit and it failed, under no circumstances would he place the blame on Arafat..." However, after the failure of the peace talks, Clinton publicly blamed Arafat even though we now know most of the blame rested with Barak. In fact, Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel's lead negotiator at Camp David, publicly stated the following: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.”

      The remaining portion of the story can be summed up in one word: Netanyahu. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Can Europe compete with China in post-Sanction Iran? Will the US Let it?
    • It may surprise some to learn that “An annual report delivered [in early 2015] to the US Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, removed Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats, after years in which they featured in similar reports. The unclassified version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities, dated February 26, 2015, noted Iran’s efforts to combat Sunni extremists, including those of the ultra-radical Islamic State group, who were perceived to constitute the preeminent terrorist threat to American interests worldwide." (“[I]ran and Hezbollah were both listed as terrorism threats in the assessment of another American body, the Defense Intelligence Agency.”)
      Such "terrorism" lists are political tools; however, they seem to indicate some tension within the Obama administration over the proper approach toward Iran. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Pulitzer Prize-Winner Michael Chabon Slams Israeli Occupation of Palestinians
    • Israeli Jews need to heed the words of the late Yeshayahu Leibowitz. This Orthodox Jewish intellectual, very soon after the 1967 War, confidently predicted that Occupation would lead to a culture of racism that would consume Jewish society. He later recognized that "Jewish-Israeli" values were becoming like those of fascist states. (It's not surprising that an Israeli prime minister stated that “If I were a young Palestinian, it is possible I would join a terrorist organization.”) link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • US Slams Israel over Extrajudicial Killings, Torture & Racism then Meekly offers extra Billions
    • Israel has essentially legalized torture. “Over the years, [Israeli] investigators routinely beat Palestinian detainees, occasionally to death. After two major Shabak scandals in the 1980s, a government commission banned some interrogation methods but allowed investigators to exert ‘modest physical pressure’ on suspects – including shaking them violently and keeping them tied up in stress positions for hours. To Israeli and international rights groups, these ‘special procedures’ still amounted to torture.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Palestine: It's not the Economy, Stupid
    • Liberals must stop assigning equal blame to each side. Israel is a free country which is using force to keep millions of Palestinians unfree.
      Furthermore, it completely misses the point to write "that both Palestinian intifadas erupted (in 1987 and 2000) at times of relative prosperity". Rather, with respect to the second intifada, for example, “[A] close look shows that the peace process had…worsened the conditions under which [Palestinians] lived. When the Oslo process was launched in 1993, the Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip numbered 3,000, and in the West Bank [excluding East Jerusalem] 117,000; while on the eve of Sharon’s visit to Jerusalem, in 2000, there were 6,700 settlers in Gaza and 200,000 in the West Bank [excluding East Jerusalem]. This was a substantial increase and deeply upsetting for the Palestinians; after all, if the Oslo process was all about Israel relinquishing land for peace, then one would expect it to stop settling even more Jews and erecting new settlements on this land. The construction of new settlements also led to more inconveniences in the daily lives of Palestinians, as security measures were put in place to protect the settlers, and they exploited more resources, notably water, to serve their needs. These frustrations among the Palestinians all added up to create a powder keg, waiting for just such a spark as Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount to set it off…” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • "Investigate Israel's Extrajudicial Killings:" Sen Leahy, 10 other Congressmen
    • Should they not also consider whether Israel has legalized torture? Consider: “Over the years, [Israeli] investigators routinely beat Palestinian detainees, occasionally to death. After two major Shabak [Israel Security Agency] scandals in the 1980s, a government commission banned some interrogation methods but allowed investigators to exert ‘modest physical pressure’ on suspects – including shaking them violently and keeping them tied up in stress positions for hours. To Israeli and international rights groups, these ‘special procedures’ still amounted to torture.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Iran Unleashed: Rouhani's Triumphant European Tour
    • A 2004 task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and chaired by former CIA director Robert Gates and former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was prescient as it stated that “It is in the interests of the United States to engage selectively with Iran to promote regional stability, dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, preserve reliable energy supplies, reduce the threat of terror, and address the ‘democracy deficit’ that pervades the Middle East…” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Top 10 Signs the US is the Most Corrupt Country in the World
    • "Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992 and raised $62 million for that campaign, a record at the time. The new money in the Democratic Party ended up yielding $1.07 billion for President Obama’s reelection in 2012: money given directly to his campaign, to the Democratic National Committee, and to outside, unaccountable super political action committees…”
      Unsurprisingly, research shows that politicians respond to their funders, not voters. It's fairly clear that most Trump supporters have suffered from pro-big business political policies. Consider how trade deals enable the outsourcing of steel and auto jobs, but continue to protect doctors, lawyers, and other highly paid professionals. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Are 2,000 Gulf fighters in Syria a terrorist threat to . . . the Gulf?
    • Jeffrey Rudolph 11/12/2015 at 6:39 pm

      It seems the US is a very slow learner: In an August 2015 interview, “former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn confirms to Mehdi Hasan that not only had he studied the DIA memo predicting the West’s backing of an Islamic State in Syria when it came across his desk in 2012, but even asserts that the White House’s sponsoring of radical jihadists (that would emerge as ISIL and Nusra) against the Syrian regime was ‘a willful decision.’…Hasan himself expresses surprise at Flynn’s frankness…While holding up a paper copy of the 2012 DIA report declassified through FOIA [Freedom of Information Act], Hasan reads aloud key passages such as, ‘there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.’ Rather than downplay the importance of the document and these startling passages, as did the State Department soon after its release, Flynn does the opposite: he confirms that while acting DIA chief he ‘paid very close attention’ to this report in particular and later adds that ‘the intelligence was very clear.’” “[T]he declassified DIA report is now confirmed to be a central and vital source that sheds light on the origins of ISIS, and must inform a candid national debate on American policy in Syria and Iraq.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Palestinians in own city of Hebron live in Fear of Israel Squatters, Soldiers
    • Israel's late Prime Minister Rabin was evolving into a great leader. However, one critical error he made was not evicting the relatively few Jews from Hebron after the Jewish fundamentalist Baruch Goldstein entered the Tomb of Patriarchs in Hebron and massacred twenty-nine Palestinians. The 1994 terrorist attack by Goldstein, who acted precisely to derail the peace process, "helped trigger a wave of bus bombings by the extremist Palestinian group Hamas in 1995…” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • American Hypocrisy: Against Muslim Sharia law at home, Calls it "Moderate" in Syria
    • Juan, Thanks for the excellent analysis -- it should be a NYT op-ed. One question: Without funding and organizational support from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, could the "fundamentalists" fighting Assad still exist as a meaningful force?

  • Martin Kramer's "Modest Proposal" for starving Gazans into having fewer Children, 5 Yrs Later
    • Juan, I imagine that Kramer would have applauded the following piece that you reported on. In 2012 “An Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, sued in Israeli courts to force the release of a planning document for ‘putting the Palestinians on a diet’ without risking the bad press of mass starvation, and the courts concurred. The document, produced by the Israeli army, appears to be a calculation of how to make sure, despite the Israeli blockade, that Palestinians got an average of 2279 calories a day, the basic need. But by planning on limiting the calories in that way, the Israeli military was actually plotting to keep Palestinians in Gaza (half of them children) permanently on the brink of malnutrition, what health professionals call ‘food insecurity’.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Autopsy confirms Palestinian infant was 'burned alive' by Israeli Squatters
    • This horrific behavior is expected from some people who are taught by fundamentalist clerics.
      Consider question 22 of the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Quiz: Who, in a 2009 book widely discussed in the Israeli press, declared it religiously permissible to kill gentile (non-Jewish) children because of “the future danger that will arise if they are allowed to grow into evil people like their parents”?
      Answer: In 2009 two rabbis from the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva located in the settlement of Yitzhar near Nablus, Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, published a book called “The Law of the King.” “The book’s repeated themes are that a Jew’s life is worth more than a gentile’s, and that for a Jew to kill a gentile is a lesser sin than killing another Jew….Indeed, they claim, there is even a basis in religious law to argue that [gentile] children may be intentionally targeted, ‘if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us [Jews].’…" (Apparently, ultra-Orthodoxy is premised on racism. As a result, the ultra-Orthodox are raised on hatred of the gentile—with an Arab being the ultimate gentile.) link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • No, Mr. Netanyahu, Iran isn't trying to Take over the world & it isn't ISIL
    • Worth adding that Iran’s military is designed for defense not offense. Even the U.S. Defense Department acknowledges this as a January 2014 Pentagon report states that Iran’s military doctrine is defensive. It is "designed to deter an attack, survive an initial strike, retaliate against an aggressor, and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities while avoiding any concessions that challenge its core interests.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Lone Wolves and Soft Targets: Or how our Press, Politicians are being Played by ISIL
    • The Gulf states are suffering blow-back; just as Saudi Arabia experienced during the 1990s. One source of the current blow-back is that “By undermining the [Muslim] Brothers as a vehicle for expanding Sunni political engagement, Saudi Arabia and its allies leave jihadi groups like al-Qaida and the Islamic State as the only options for Sunni Arabs dissatisfied with the status quo. They make things worse by building up violent jihadis as alternatives to the Brothers—in Libya, Syria, and, Yemen—with Washington’s collaboration, and with disastrous humanitarian and political consequences.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Saudi Arabia Lashing Blogger Reveals What Religion Fears Most
    • Saudi Arabia, an Islamic absolute monarchy, has enjoyed extremely close relations with the United States, a constitutional republic. This relationship highlights the gross hypocrisy of US foreign policy: fundamentalism and dictatorship in the Arab world are only condemned when they come garbed in anti-Americanism. In fact, Saudi Arabia makes Iran—the target of sanctions and regime change by the US for over 30 years—look relatively progressive. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • The China-Pakistan trade corridor and its implications for regional security
    • The main driver of China's naval ambitions is not hard to discern. “China’s economy relies on the continued safety of seaborne trade – something which has been guaranteed since the end of the Second World War by the navy of the United States, the country which the Chinese elite mistrusts the most (with the possible exception of Japan). Like other great powers before it, China is building a navy to take to the high seas because it does not want to outsource the security of its economic lifelines to someone else.” History demonstrates that during wartime blocking access to trade is a tool used by states to achieve victory. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Gaza Strip 101: World's Largest outdoor Prison
    • Occupied people have the legal right to resist occupation. It should be appreciated that in December 2014, “A European Union court…removed the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from its terrorist list…Hamas appealed a 2001 decision by the E.U. to place it on the list which followed similar actions by the United States and Israel. The E.U.’s General Court found the decision was ‘based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet.'” Nevertheless, the E.U. is keeping Hamas on the list until an appeal process is complete. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Tom Friedman & funding ISIL: Israel/Iran Derangement Syndrome
    • Juan's clear statement of Israel's "realist" objectives are plainly revealed by considering Israel's evolving policies toward Iran during the 1980s and 1990s.
      During the 1980s, Israel was “not at all concerned about Iran’s nuclear program [nor] about many of Iran’s other activities that [Israel] now profess[es] concern about. In fact, in the 1980s, the United States wanted to impose [sanctions] on Iran for…[its] connection to the [1983] bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut. [T]he then Israeli government, in a live interview by the then Minister Ariel Sharon, said that Israel would oppose sanctions being…imposed on Iran. [Nevertheless, the US did impose sanctions in 1984. However, Israel reversed its position] not because of any change in Iranian behavior, but because the Iraqi military was [routed by the US after Iraq’s 1990-1991] invasion [and occupation] of Kuwait…[Hence,] in early 1992, you have the first visit to Washington by then Prime Minister Rabin [who] started to raise concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and the prospect of sanctions. And…in 1995…the United States first imposes its comprehensive economic embargo on Iran. So [Israel has long been concerned] about the rise of Iran in the region, [as Iran can potentially] check Israel’s…reckless impulses vis-à-vis its neighbors.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Iran and America's Memory Hole
    • In case a reader has some lingering doubts concerning the Coup, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made the following address on March 17, 2000: “In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran’s popular prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs.”
      (How can the U.S. repair some of the harm it has caused Iran? What about providing the opposite of harsh sanctions?) link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Iran Reformers - Talks will Succeed: Netanyahu 'not Influential,' like Iran Hardliners
    • Iran has proved itself a reliable partner for the U.S. However, the reverse has not been true. Let's hope the U.S. can learn from history. Consider: After the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on September 11, 2001, the US “requested help and Iran’s diplomats and Revolutionary Guard quietly provided extensive intelligence and political assistance to the U.S. military and CIA, to improve targeting the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. [And once] the Taliban was ousted in late 2001, Iran again proved crucial to getting the victorious Northern Alliance to accept a limited number of cabinet posts and Hamid Karzai as the new president – a critical step toward immediately stabilizing post-Taliban Afghanistan. Iranian diplomats made clear their interest in expanding contacts with the United States….[However,] any remaining chance of reconciliation evaporated in early 2002, when George W. Bush declared Iran part of his Axis of Evil. Iranian officials considered it a slap in the face, and it had grave consequences for President Khatami and his beleaguered reform movement. The U.S. denunciation became ammunition for hard-liners, who used it as final proof of American mendacity – and of reformist naïveté.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Top 5 Reasons Palestinian-Israelis Could shape the Israeli Election
    • There is a cultural wall that must be flattened before an Arab-backed party can play a full role in Israel's flawed democracy. Consider:
      “In Israeli political discussions, the standard explanation for the ultra-Orthodox parties’ [typical] clout is that they hold the balance of power in parliament: since they can sell their support to a coalition of the left or of the right, they can drive up the bids from both sides. This description is misleading....The real foundation of [ultra-Orthodox] strength lies elsewhere—in the exclusion of Arab-backed parties from power. In 1992, when Rabin was elected, two parties drawing their votes mainly from Palestinian citizens of Israel won a total of five seats in parliament. By 2006, three Arab-supported parties held a total of ten seats. The meaning of Labor’s 1992 election victory was that together with the Arab parties and another left-wing party, it won a majority in the Knesset. The same was true of Kadimah’s victory. But the iron rule…is that Arab-backed parties are not candidates for the coalition and cabinet. The most polite explanation is that as long as the Israeli-Arab conflict continues, Arab-backed parties cannot be trusted with sharing responsibility for national security. The less polite explanation is that much of the Jewish majority does not see a government resting partly on Arab votes as legitimate. Coalition building is like shopping: the major party must pay its smaller partners in some political coin. If there are several potential partners, each must set a lower price for its support. Because the Arab parties are eliminated, the ultra-Orthodox can charge more.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Hidden Dragon: China quietly becomes a Major Player in the Middle East
    • While I do not deny that China is an important economic player, it is important to keep its foreign direct investment in perspective -- it is still far behind the west. Consider:
      -“Everywhere you go in the world, the beliefs about the scale of Chinese investments are greatly out of line with reality. Highly informed people in Africa are convinced that China is the top investor in the continent – in reality it is No. 4.”
      -“[T]he vast majority of [China’s] imported minerals and metals (90 percent plus) comes from direct purchases from suppliers or from international commodity markets. Its share of, and control over, global production resources (e.g., mines) is really minuscule compared to those of national governments and leading international corporations….[Hence,] the often-heard accusation that China is trying to lock up international mineral production is far from accurate.”
      -“When China had to evacuate 35,000 civilians from Libya in 2011, it had to rely completely on leased ships, ferries, and civilian aircraft from neighboring countries – as it did not have the air or naval capacity to deploy that far and did not possess military base arrangements in the Mediterranean region.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Why Obama is Right to avoid double standard about Modern Christian Atrocities
    • In a 2009 book widely discussed in the Israeli press, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira declared it religiously permissible to kill non-Jewish children because of “the future danger that will arise if they are allowed to grow into evil people like their parents.” However, many rabbis work for a viable peace between Israel and Palestine, so racism is not intrinsic to Judaism. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • The Boehner-Obama Struggle over Iran Nuclear Talks has gone International
    • According to Iran experts, Flynt and Hillary Leverett: “The world has...seen what happens when America and its European partners demonstrate bad faith in nuclear diplomacy with Tehran -- Iran expands its nuclear infrastructure and capabilities. When Iran broke its nearly two-year enrichment suspension in 2005, it could run less than a thousand centrifuges; today, it has installed 12,000 centrifuges, more than 9,000 of which process uranium gas to produce enriched uranium. In February 2010, Iran began enriching uranium to the near-20 percent level needed to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) after the US and its partners refused to sell the fuel; Iran consistently offered to suspend near-20 percent enrichment if it could obtain an adequate fuel supply for the TRR. After Obama torpedoed the Tehran Declaration, Iran accelerated production of near-20 percent uranium and began indigenously manufacturing fuel plates for the TRR.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • New Republican Majority Wants to intervene in Obama's Iran Talks
    • According to Flynt and Hillary Leverett: “The world has...seen what happens when America and its European partners demonstrate bad faith in nuclear diplomacy with Tehran — Iran expands its nuclear infrastructure and capabilities. When Iran broke its nearly two-year enrichment suspension in 2005, it could run less than a thousand centrifuges; today, it has installed 12,000 centrifuges, more than 9,000 of which process uranium gas to produce enriched uranium. In February 2010, Iran began enriching uranium to the near-20 percent level needed to fuel the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) after the US and its partners refused to sell the fuel; Iran consistently offered to suspend near-20 percent enrichment if it could obtain an adequate fuel supply for the TRR. After Obama torpedoed the Tehran Declaration, Iran accelerated production of near-20 percent uranium and began indigenously manufacturing fuel plates for the TRR.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Despite rising racism, European Muslims embrace democratic values
    • Concerning the purported (and false) connection of "Muslims" and "terrorism", that so scares many Westerners, it is useful to know that there have been “a number of major studies of [Western Muslim terrorists’] beliefs and motives in recent years, and what is clear is that almost none of them are motivated by religious faith or a desire to impose their beliefs on the world around them. Quite the contrary: it has repeatedly been shown that more religious Muslims are the least inclined to terrorism, and that those drawn to extremism are propelled by political, territorial and very often personal motives unrelated to faith. Not only that, but those Muslims who are living in tight-knit, religious-conservative communities and Islamic ‘ghettoes’ are the least likely to go into political extremism or terrorism: Extremism tends be the preserve of fairly wealthy, educated Muslims who are isolated from other Muslims in relatively well-off neighborhoods. It’s not the ‘Muslim tide’ that is creating extremism, but rather the political beliefs of a few middle-class loners.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris
    • I'd argue that the record clearly shows that Israel has sought "pretexts" since the late 1970s to invade Lebanon. Thus, it is a major mistake to say that Hezbollah has provoked Israeli reprisals. For example, consider Israel's 2006 invasion: “Since Israel’s withdrawal in 2000, Hezbollah and Israel had clashed sporadically….Nasrallah had said again and again that Hezbollah’s primary military goal was to secure the release of Lebanese prisoners held in Israel and the return of Lebanese dead. The way forward, he said, was to seize Israeli captives and trade them. [In a typical incident, Hezbollah fighters] attacked an Israeli military post in an attempt to capture soldiers. The Israelis fended them off, and not much came of the incident.” Nevertheless, Israel exploited a successful Hezbollah operation to justify its 2006 invasion of Lebanon. On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah commandos succeeded in capturing Israeli soldiers; the commandos had tried similar raids in the past without success. Nasrallah expected that Israel’s response would be similar to past experience. Hezbollah had negotiated a January 2004 prisoner exchange with Israel. And, “when its fighters attacked an Israeli army unit on July 12, 2006, and captured two soldiers, Hezbollah announced it would exchange them for…Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in Israel.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

    • This vile tactic was exploited in the late 1990s: “[B]in Laden, Zawahiri, and company were pursuing bigger ambitions [than other jihadists]—waking the Muslim community from its slumber.…In a secret 1998 letter to another militant—recovered in 2001 from captured Al Qaeda computers in Kabul—Zawahiri points out that Al Qaeda had escalated the fight against ‘the biggest of the criminals, the Americans’ to drag them for an open battle with the nation’s masses…” Bin Laden and Zawahiri “expected a Muslim response similar to that following the Russian invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Their goal was to generate a major world crisis, provoking the United States…; American attacks on Muslim countries would reinvigorate and unify a splintered, war-torn jihadist movement and restore its credibility in the eyes of [Muslims]…” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Palestinians ready next Move as UNSC rejects end of Occupation
    • Apparently, the 2004 World Court advisory opinion has been erased from history. That opinion “found that, based on Article 2 of the United Nations Charter and numerous U.N. resolutions barring the acquisition of territory by force, Israel had no title to any of the territories it captured during the June 1967 war.” As well, “the Court cited U.N. Security Council resolutions that, based on Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israeli settlements ‘have no legal validity’ and constitute a ‘flagrant violation’ of international law…" link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Iran Honors Its Fallen Jewish Soldiers
  • 3 Problems Pakistani Politics has to Resolve after Grisly School Attack
    • The following is from "Magnificent Delusions" by Husain Haqqani: United States “aid for military regimes in Pakistan had not only undermined Pakistani democracy; it had also inadvertently helped foster religious extremism….Pakistan had become a rentier state: it lived off payments from a superpower for its strategic location and intelligence cooperation rather than on the strength of the productivity of its economy.” A preferred “option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan” and pursue normal economic development. Just “as China did not give up its rights over Taiwan” as it engaged in commerce with Taiwan, “Pakistan need not give up its claim on Kashmir” as it engages politically and economically with India. “In the case of Afghanistan, Pakistan should befriend the government in Kabul instead of trying to impose one of its choosing.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Enter the Dragon: China offers Iraq Aerial Strikes on ISIL/ Daesh
    • China has a long way to go before its ability to project power matches the US's. Consider: “Despite the impressive progress in its military modernization in recent years, it should be remembered that China’s global military footprint actually remains very limited. It has no foreign bases or troops stationed abroad (except under UN auspices)…Other than cyber warfare, its space program, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, it has no global power-projection capabilities. To be certain, these are not insignificant capabilities, but China’s air and ground forces cannot operate away from China’s immediate periphery, and the naval forces have very limited deployment capacity beyond China’s ‘near seas’.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Two Different American Futures: With an Iran Deal & Without
    • Let's remember that Iran's nuclear program is not the source of its tension with the US and Israel. Rather, the critical issue is Middle East influence. Consider:
      -According to David Crist a historian for the U.S. federal government and an advisor on Middle East issues, “Iran’s quest for nuclear technology has heightened the stakes and the tension [with the US] but it has not been a catalyst for the conflict.”
      -Even if Iran had nuclear weapons, it would never consider a first-strike on Israel since Israel would always be able to retaliate with its submarine-based “nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.”
      -It’s plainly rational for Israel to try and maintain its monopoly of nuclear weapons in the Middle East as such allows it to act practically without any restraint against its neighbors.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israel Squatters Chop Down Dozens of Palestinian Olive Trees Near Nablus (800,000 since 1967)
    • In recent years Israeli leaders have begun to recognize the problem of terrorism by radical Jewish settlers against Palestinians, the IDF, and mainstream settler leaders. In 2011, “the Israeli general in charge of the West Bank, Nitsan Alon, described the violence by radical settlers as ‘terrorism’ and urged the IDF to ‘do much more to stop it.’…And following settler vandalism of an IDF base in the West Bank, the Israeli ministers of defense, legal affairs, and internal security discussed officially designating [such radical settlers] as a terrorist organization.” likewise, in 2014, Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon, branded settler attacks as “outright terrorism.” What does Obama have to say?
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Ben Affleck on Bill Maher's Muslim Problem
    • Juan, I'll start watching TV for news when you get a weekly show. As you have cogently pointed out in the past, some “groups deploy terrorism as a tactic more at some times than others. Zionists in British Mandate Palestine were active terrorists in the 1940s,…and in the period 1965-1980, the FBI considered the Jewish Defense League among the most active US terrorist groups. (Members at one point plotted to assassinate Rep. Dareell Issa (R-CA) because of his Lebanese heritage.) Now that Jewish nationalists are largely getting their way, terrorism has declined among them.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • In 1948, Jewish Forces in Palestine outnumbered Palestinian and Arab Fighters
    • During the 1948-49 war “Zionist forces committed abuses so terrible that David Ben-Gurion…declared himself ‘shocked by the deeds that have reached my ears.’ In the town of Jish, in the Galilee, Israeli soldiers pillaged Arab houses, and when the residents protested, took them to a remote location and shot them dead.” According to the Israeli historian Benny Morris, “the Jews committed far more atrocities than the Arabs and killed far more civilians and PoWs in deliberate acts of brutality in the course of 1948.″ link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • The PLO-Hamas Unity Agreement: an Opportunity for the United States and Israel
    • Even senior IDF officers recognize that Hamas is reasonable. Consider:
      In March 2014, Hamas militiamen continue to “find and stop renegade militants inside Gaza from firing rockets into southern Israel in violation of the ceasefire declared after the end in November 2012 of Operation Pillar of Defence, in which about 150 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed….Israeli officials share the assessment that Hamas is working actively to contain militants from firing into their country. ‘Today we can describe Hamas as a much more…responsible organisation than it used to be a decade or two decades ago — this all in light of their statehood experience,’ says a senior Israel Defence Forces officer…”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Massive increase in Israeli Squatter settlements in West Bank blamed for Collapsing Peace Talks
    • It's important to appreciate what it means when settlements such as Ariel are further consolidated.

      Ehud Barak’s “final offer at Camp David [in 2000]…proposed that Israel annex the 9 percent of the West Bank that included the largest settlement ‘blocs’ while offering in return an area one-ninth as large inside the green line. Nine percent may not seem like much, but as some Israel officials have since conceded, annexing settlements like Ariel, which stretches thirteen miles beyond the green line, would have severely hindered Palestinian travel between the northern and southern halves of the West Bank. It also would have left Israel in control of much of the West Bank’s water supply." In the words of former Barak aide Tal Zilberstein, “[T]here are still people who say, ‘We gave them everything at Camp David and got nothing.’ This is a flagrant lie.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Cole @ C-Span: Egypt and the Birth of al-Qaeda (video lecture)
    • Juan, Can non-students gain access to all the lectures from the course? Your courses would be very popular MOOCs.

  • The War on Terror Jumps the Shark as Everyone in the Mideast accuses everyone else of Terrorism
    • In 1982, Saddam Hussein was taken off the terrorism list “so the United States could provide him with agricultural and other support that he needed.” The US supported Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War so, by definition, Saddam could not be a terrorist — even when, for example, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Could Ulra-Orthodox Conscription issue bring down the Israeli Government?
    • ◾Young ultra-Orthodox couples, with little wealth and plans for large families, “are desperate for inexpensive apartments….At the end of the 1980s, the government began using that [desperation to draw them] into the settlement enterprise.” In 1990, 350 ultra-Orthodox settlers moved into Beitar Illit and for apartments paid “$60,000, with the government providing a $50,000 interest-free mortgage. Four years later, the first residents arrived in what would become the town of Modi’in Illit, east of Tel Aviv. The two communities grew faster than any other settlements in the West Bank. By the end of 2009, they were also the two largest settlements, with a total of 81,000 residents…[Unsurprisingly,] the internal growth of the communities was stunning….The government designated additional developments for [ultra-Orthodox] within settlements elsewhere in the West Bank. Virtually every extended [ultra-Orthodox] family in Israel now has members living” in occupied Palestinian territory. Therefore, they have “a vested interest in the territories” and have been converted to the extreme right by government action. (Yet, it must be added that the ultra-Orthodox party Shas has indicated a willingness to trade land for peace.) link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

    • ◾It is important to note that in 1948 the great bulk of Jewish Israelis were confident that religious Jews, already marginal to the state, would only continue to diminish in significance. (In fact, after World War II the European center of ultra-Orthodox “culture was gone. In Palestine, their schools were few and starved for funds…”) This is one reason Ben-Gurion accepted several compromises with the religious parties. “No one imagined, for instance, that by financing [ultra-Orthodox] schools, the state would transform ultra-Orthodox society” and so augment its power.
      ◾In 2000, the newspaper Ha’aretz published pictures showing ultra-Orthodox men at work in New York. “For the Israeli audience, photos of gainfully employed [ultra-Orthodox] men — a private detective, a truck driver,…a welder — were news on the level of man bites elephant.”
      ◾Considering the effects of National-Religious Orthodox young men in the IDF, progressives may want to ponder the implications of bringing in the ultra-Orthodox.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • New Light on the CIA Coup in Iran on its 60th Anniversary: Why "Argo" Needs a Prequel (Sternfeld)
    • US policy makers and political elites are familiar with the outlines of the 1953 Coup. The goal of progressives should be to inform the US public of the following:
      1. The US and UK organized the overthrow of an elected Iranian prime minister because he nationalized Iran's oil industry (i.e. he acted independently).
      2. The result of the coup was autocratic rule by the Shah and close US-Iran ties (because the Shah served US interests).
      3. The Shah's brutal rule led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
      4. The US is not even against Islamic dictatorships (Saudi Arabia); it is against independent rule in general (post-1979 Iran, Venezuela, Bolivia, etc.).

      Thomas Carothers, who was “director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment” published a book “reviewing the record of democracy promotion by the United States since the end of the Cold War. He finds ‘a strong line of continuity’ running through all administrations, including Bush II: democracy is promoted by the U.S. government if and only if it conforms to strategic and economic interests.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Netanyahu Emerges Weakened, But Most under Israeli Apartheid were Disenfranchised
    • I'm sure you wouldn't denounce Mandela because he used terror as a tool of liberation.
      The past informs the present but it is also true that the present informs the past. We now view Mandela as the great man he truly is because of how he acted once liberation was achieved. We rightly denounce the heirs of Revisionism because they continue doing criminal acts after they have achieved Zionism's goal.
      Even Ehud Barak said the following in 1998: “If I were a young Palestinian, it is possible I would join a terrorist organization.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Michigan Workers now have Right to "Work for Less" (Granholm Video)
    • The key difference between Sweden and the US, which accounts for the former's much greater equality of opportunity and outcomes, is Sweden's generous welfare state. In fact, "before taxes and transfers, income distribution" in the US and Sweden is "more or less the same". It's also worth noting that a generous welfare state can be consistent with impressive economic growth. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • In Rebuke to Obama, Netanyahu-- Much of Western Europe to Support Palestine as UN Observer State
    • While Abrams is a neocon he is basically rational and realizes that the sooner Israel enters into good faith negotiations with the Palestinians:
      (1) the less disruption there will be to US interests in the region;
      (2) the less disruption there will be to Israeli society; and,
      (3) the more control the US will have over the process.

      The main obstacle to a reasonable settlement is the right-wing (~fascist) bloc in Israel's Knesset. This bloc is growing and, like some elements in the US Republican Party, is impervious to rational arguments. Abrams and many other right-wing Americans are concerned by this trend.

      When a formerly right-leaning commentator on Israel (Beinart) can write the following in his recent book, we know matters have reached a new stage: As painful as it is for "Jews to admit that race hatred can take root among a people that has suffered so profoundly from it, the ground truth is this: occupying another people requires racism, and breeds it. It is very difficult to work day after day at a checkpoint, making miserable people bake in the sun, or to blow up a family's house as they watch, or to cut off water to a village in the Jordan Valley because Palestinians are barred from living in most of that section of the West Bank, and still see the people you are dominating as fully human." American Jews should "distinguish between supporting the State of Israel and supporting whoever happens to be in the current, transitory government of Israel." link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Let the Palestinians have their “Kaf-Tet Be’November” (Sternfeld)
    • Israel works to deny more international status for Palestinians as such can increase the range of international bodies they can exploit (for example international juridical bodies). Until the US decides that its interests rest with a fair settlement, the Israel-Palestine conflict will drag on for a long time.

      On the issue of the 1947 Partition Resolution, "The Zionist leadership did formally accept the partition plan. Many Zionist leaders objected, but were persuaded by Ben-Gurion to agree to the official acceptance. However, in several secret meetings Ben-Gurion made it clear that the partition borders were unacceptable and must be rectified at the first opportunity. The minutes of these meetings are there for all to read.”

      Also, while it is argued that “the Palestinians are to be blamed for what occurred to them since they rejected the UN partition plan, this allegation ignores the colonialist nature of the Zionist movement. It would have been unlikely that the Algerians, for instance, would have accepted the partition of Algeria with the French settlers – and such a refusal would not be deemed unreasonable or irrational. [Accordingly, Palestinian rejection] should not have justified the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians as a ‘punishment’ for rejecting a UN peace plan that was devised without any consultation with them.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Gaza's Health Crisis and Israel's Crimes Against Humanity
    • It's worth remembering that one of “Israel’s early acts of retaliation [during the first intifada] was to deport the Palestinian-American pacifist Mubarak Awad of the Center for the Study of Nonviolence.”

      When the arena is one of violence, Israel wins. When good faith negotiations occur, Israel can only lose since it is the occupier. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Palestinian Civilians imperiled as 500 Israeli Strikes hit Gaza (Democracy Now!)
    • Let's always bear in mind three categorical truths to ensure that there is no confusion between victim and victimizer:
      1. Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land;
      2. Occupied people have the legal right to resist occupation; and,
      3. Palestinians are the only occupied people to suffer international sanctions (while Israel enjoys significant economic, military and diplomatic support from powerful states.

      Remember that Israel has a long history of using violence to avoid negotiations to end the Occupation. For example,
      Ariel “Sharon and his top advisors said…that the [2005] Gaza evacuation was meant not to create a Palestinian state, but to forestall one. By 2004, the second intifada had fizzled, Arafat was dead, and America’s sequel to Oslo, the Road Map, was going nowhere. Into the breach came two initiatives. The first was the offer, drafted by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the entire Arab League, to recognize Israel if it returned to the 1967 lines and negotiated a ‘just’ and ‘agreed upon’ solution for the Palestinian refugees. The second was the Geneva Accord, a model peace agreement signed by former Israeli and Palestinian negotiators that would have required Israel to dismantle major settlements like Ariel. These moves terrified Sharon, a lifelong opponent of a Palestinian state who feared international pressure to agree to the kind of deal that Clinton has proposed in December 2000.”

      It is clear that Hamas (not Salafi extremists) are ready to deal. This "terrifies" supporters of Greater Israel.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • NYC Hospitals Lose Power Once; in Gaza, it is a Constant Crisis
    • I agree with Pabelmont. Juan, you have been a consistent voice for bringing attention to the plight of Gazans. Consider that Peter Beinart (a once-neocon) has finally come around to seeing reality. The following is from his recent book: "As painful as it is for Jews to admit that race hatred can take root among a people that has suffered so profoundly from it, the ground truth is this: occupying another people requires racism, and breeds it. It is very difficult to work day after day at a checkpoint, making miserable people bake in the sun, or to blow up a family’s house as they watch, or to cut off water to a village in the Jordan Valley because Palestinians are barred from living in most of that section of the West Bank, and still see the people you are dominating as fully human.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Egypt President condemns Israeli Air Raids on Gaza
    • It is banal to state, but as more of the countries in the Middle East become more democratic this will lead to governments that primarily answer to their domestic populations, not foreign patrons.

      Needless to say, the Egyptian population has been overwhelmingly disgusted by Israel's brutal treatment of Gazans. Thus it can only be expected that Morsi will reflect such disgust.

      Turkey likewise demonstrates that when a Middle East country becomes more democratic, it finds it more difficult to cooperate with Israel and the US on policies that dispossess Palestinians or harm Muslims. In fact, “Turkey only began shunning the Jewish state after Israel’s 2009 war in Gaza, and after Israeli troops killed eight Turkish militants who tried to break Israel’s blockage of the strip in 2010.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Mourdock, Rape as a Gift of God, and Islamic Sharia
    • Why the bulk of the Christian Right has strongly adopted conservative economic policies is also perplexing to many (especially as Jesus strongly identified with the poor and as the great majority of evangelicals are not rich).
      One important reason is as evangelicals have experienced political success, they have had to make important compromises. Thus it has been commonplace to hear evangelical preachers peddle Republican myths of trickle-down prosperity. While evangelicals over 50 years of age grew up hearing a lot of sermons about the perils of wealth such is rare today. It is much more common to hear leaders of the Religious Right speak on the miracle of supply side economics. Is it mere coincidence “that the so-called ‘prosperity theology,’ a kind of spiritualized Reaganism, flourished among evangelicals during the 1980s?” According to the prosperity gospel, wealth, fame and power are manifestations of God’s work, proof that God has a plan and design for believers.

      Also, it's important to remember that Christian Fundamentalists "are not biblical literalists, as they claim, but ‘selective literalists,’ choosing the bits and pieces of the Bible that conform to their ideology and ignoring, distorting or inventing the rest. And the selective literalists cannot have it both ways. Either the Bible is literally true and all of its edicts must be obeyed, or it must be read in another way.” While the Bible (Leviticus 18:22) says that a man who has sex with another man is an abomination and should be killed, a “literal reading of the Bible [also] means reinstitution of slavery…Children who strike or curse a parent are to be executed…[M]en are free to sell their daughters into sexual bondage…” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Muslims are no Different, or why Bill Maher's blood libel is Bigotry
  • Why they Hate us: Romney Secretly Plots to Screw Palestinians over Again
  • Top Myths about Iran's Nuclear Enrichment Program

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