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Total number of comments: 88 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:58)

Rudolph

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  • 8 Plutocrats out-earned 3.6 mn Working Poor & 7 Other Headlines You won't see in MSM
    • Which political leader said the following? “We had to struggle with the old enemies of [domestic] peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hatred for me—and I welcome their hatred.”

      Answer: The above was spoken by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the eve of the 1936 presidential election. Rich Americans had good reasons to hate FDR. His New Deal imposed a heavy tax burden on corporations and the wealthy, fostered the growth of unions, and oversaw a narrowing in income inequality (that included a substantial fall in after-tax incomes at the top).
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Christian Sharia Law: Iowa Governor’s Proclamation Destroys Separation Of Church And State
    • Here's a question US Christian fundamentalists should consider: How many times does the word “God” appear in the US Constitution?

      Answer: Zero.
      The First Amendment to the Constitution does refer to religion but not in a manner that fundamentalist Christians desire. The First Amendment does not privilege Christianity; rather, it reads in part that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” As well, “Article 6, Section 3 states explicitly that federal officials ‘shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.’ The addition of the word ‘affirmation’ is significant because it meant that officeholders could not be compelled to take an oath on the Bible….[T]he founders, who did in fact live in an era when the states were peopled almost entirely by Christians, thought to include freethinkers and non-Christians…in their basic laws.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • US sent CIA Director as Ambassador to Tehran after CIA overthrew Iran's Democratic gov't (US now Complaining about Hostage-Taker Amb.)
    • According to David Crist, a historian for the US federal government, President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, "began backdoor conversations…with hard-liners inside the Iranian government about a possible military takeover. In an October 28, 1978, meeting at the White House with CIA Director Stansfield Turner, Brzezinski asked the CIA to look into developing information that could be used to undermine the opposition and strengthen the shah.” While the shah could be kept in power in the short term, in the long run, according to CIA analysts, he “needed to move more swiftly to establish a democratically elected civilian government.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Poof! John Kerry Blames Israeli Squatting in E. Jerusalem for breakdown in Peace Talks; Bennett: It's Just Zionism
    • It appears that Norman G. Finkelstein is correct: As the US lacks the necessary domestic or geopolitical motivation to pressure Israel, a nonviolent, mass movement by occupied Palestinians --a third intifada -- is most likely necessary to compel Israel to deal fairly.

      If the US has thus far “not compelled Israel to terminate the occupation, it is because of the efficacy and ruthlessness of the [Israel] lobby. Were it not for the pressure exerted by the lobby in the electoral arena and on public opinion, Washington might well have joined the international consensus supporting a full Israeli withdrawal…[However,] Washington will not order Tel Aviv to withdraw until and unless the occupation becomes a major liability for it.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Will the US side with Saudi or Qatar in the Great Gulf Civil War?
    • “Qatar is ruled by an emir who has been very adept at using Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, to promote his country’s interests and bolster his own domestic legitimacy. The success of this policy has materialised in the coming to power of Islamists in Tunisia and Egypt [for a period of time], and in Qatar’s ability to turn the Palestinian Islamist organisation Hamas away from Syria and Iran. The influence of Islamism within Qatari society and politics has been very limited, however, which highlights the pragmatic and instrumental use of this ideology and movement by the regime in Doha in the pursuit of regime survival.” “[I]t is certain that some members of the royal family are Islamist in orientation and deeply religious….[H]owever, these members of the family have been sidelined politically and are not allowed to manage the relationship with the Islamists. This illustrates the general observation that Qatar is ruled by non-ideologically driven policies, i.e. by pragmatic ones. This underscores that Qatar might one day abandon the Islamists and Islamism if the cost of patronising them become too burdensome.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Whether Princesses or Paupers, Long Road to Saudi Women’s Rights
    • -“[I]n Saudi Arabia the law actually enshrines the principle that the male knows better than the female. A woman may not enroll in university, open a bank account, get a job, or travel outside the country without the written permission of a mahram (guardian) who must be a male blood relative...”

      -Twitter and similar “social-networking sites are alive and well in Saudi Arabia. But anyone who posts anything the regime deems offensive risks being arrested.” “That Saudi Arabia allows so much freedom on its pan-Arab Al Arabiya satellite channel and Al Hayat newspaper while continuing to imprison writers and activists at home is especially hypocritical and abhorrent.” “[T]he United States says little or nothing publicly about human rights abuses in the kingdom, apart from its annual State Department human rights report.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israel Guilty of Apartheid, Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians: UN Rapporteur
    • In July 1948, Ben Gurion gave orders “for the operations in Lydda and Ramleh: ‘Expel them!’ he told Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin — a section censored out of Rabin’s memoirs, but published thirty years later in the New York Times.”

      During the 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

  • “Normalizing” Suicide Bombing: What the Assassination of Abu Khaled al-Soury Says about Jihadism Today
    • It is worth noting -- for an American audience in particular, which is subject to the MSM's relentless demonization of Shia Iran -- that there is not a single known instance of an Iranian suicide-bomber since the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

      In fact, the “most comprehensive, data-based study of suicide terrorism carried out to date determined that there has never been an Iranian suicide bomber. Iranian support for paramilitary groups that the United States considers terrorist organizations or threats to American forces -- Hizballah, HAMAS, Shi’a militias in Iraq -- has been focused in theaters where the United States, Israel, or Sunni states allied to Washington are seeking to undermine important Iranian interests.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • A New Arab Cold War: Saudi Arabia Pressures Qatar on Muslim Brotherhood, American Think Tanks
    • -Due to the highly personalized rule of Sheikh Hamad (who handed over power to his son in 2013), “the country’s foreign policy has an idiosyncratic and unpredictable quality. The emir should not be seen as firmly adhering to any particular religious or political ideology. He is driven by the motivation to secure his dynasty’s rule and the independence and autonomy of his tiny, but very rich country. Much larger and politically aggressive countries, such as Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, surround Qatar and the emir has to accommodate the military presence of the U.S. in the Gulf, which provides Qatar and the other Gulf Co-operation Council countries with protection from both Iran and eventually a resurgent, Shia-dominated Iraq. Qatar has had a long history of contending with imperial and regional hegemons, and this has made its rulers non-ideological and practical in their outlook and in the policies they pursue. But unlike its smaller neighbours, such as the United Arab Emirates or Kuwait, for example, Qatar has chosen a hyperactive style of diplomacy and foreign policy, acting as a mediator and financial supporter whenever and wherever possible in an attempt to make itself valuable to all sides. Qatar’s success overseas, moreover, translates domestically into greater popularity and legitimacy for the ruler and his family: success abroad has made the regime more popular at home. And when it comes to foreign affairs, rarely has Qatar adopted a position from which it cannot reverse direction.”
      -“The Qataris, like the Saudis, welcomed members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were persecuted by the nationalist and socialist regimes of Jamal Abd al-Nasser in Egypt from the mid-1950s onwards and later by the Baath regime in Syria from the late 1970s (culminating in the massacre at Hama in 1982). Many of the Muslim Brothers became teachers and public servants in the religious institutions of both host states. [The Muslim Brotherhood was anti-communist and anti–Arab nationalist: two threats to the Saudi Royal family.] The Saudis, however, broke their ties to the Brotherhood after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait when [the Brotherhood] sided with Saddam Hussein. The Saudis also never forgave the Brotherhood for politicising their youth, who became radicalised against the regime in Riyadh in the 1990s, culminating in al-Qaeda’s attacks against the regime.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Massive Protest by Israel's Ultra-Orthodox against Conscription
    • It has been Israeli government policy that has created the ultra-Orthodox "problem". At Israel’s founding in 1948, ultra-Orthodox “society ‘was very different…It was a normal working society,’ similar to the rest of the Jewish population. The fertility rate was about the same….To get married, a man had to leave yeshivah [religious school] and find work. Rather than being a diorama of traditional Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust…Israel’s present-day version of ultra-Orthodoxy is a creation of the Jewish state.”

      Ultra-Orthodox males from an early age are instructed to obey their revered rabbis in every aspect of life. And, the ultra-Orthodox rabbis, unlike their pre-1948 forefathers, do “not need to interpret Jewish law pragmatically…for the sake of a working laity. [Thus, every] strict ruling become[s] the norm…Rather than seek to sanctify life in the modern world, ultra-Orthodoxy [has] tried to build a sacred preserve…”

      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.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • A $9 Trillion War? Top 10 Reasons Americans will Regret it if GOP Derails Iran Negotiations
    • Americans need to understand the assumptions and objectives of Aipac and the neocons.
      Consider the failures for the US of pursuing a neocon agenda. If the goal of sanctions was to retard Iran's nuclear program, then sanctions were clearly not effective. Ten years ago Iran had approximately 200 centrifuges, and now it has nearly 20,000.
      If the goal of America's aggression in the Middle East was to increase its power then it was a failure. Before the Iraq invasion, the US had firm allies throughout the Middle East and Iran's power was more tentative. Now, the US carries less influence and Iran more.
      The US's acceptance of Iran as an enduring, independent and legitimate regional power, is not something that Aipac and the neocons can accept. However, the sooner Americans understand the agenda of Aipac, the neocons and their friends, the sooner the US will improve its world standing and the world will be a safer place.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Bad for the Jews: Israeli Annexation of Palestinian West Bank, Scarlett Johansson and BDS
    • Two factors have changed the Middle East landscape for the occupied Palestinians: (1) US foreign policy in the Middle East requires major adjustments -- see current Iran efforts -- primarily due to its epic failure in Iraq; and (2) Many in the US have become more aware of the blatant apartheid exercised by Israel in the Occupied Territories, where Palestinians are essentially under military occupation while Israelis enjoy the rights of Israeli citizenship.
      Pragmatists in Israel and the US realize that the time is right to impose a settlement on the Palestinians. The latter's leadership is divided, corrupt and weak, and thus will accept nearly any offer that removes sufficient Israelis from the West Bank.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Ariel Sharon's Legacy for Israel and the Middle East
    • In 2005, the government-commissioned "Sasson Report," which provides the most detailed description of state involvement in the building of illegal outposts, identified at least one cabinet minister who was apparently directly involved in supporting rogue activities: Ariel Sharon.
      There is much blame to share throughout the Israeli political system for illegal settlement activity, however, Sharon and Shimon Peres deserve special recognition.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State
    • It's important to note that, according to the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Palestinians were not required to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. However, beginning in 2011, Israeli leaders -- for various reasons, some mentioned in Juan's excellent piece -- have insisted that Israel be recognized as a Jewish State.
      Sari Nusseibeh convincingly argues that rather "than demand that Palestinians recognise Israel as a ‘Jewish State’…Israeli leaders [should] ask instead that Palestinians recognise Israel…as a civil, democratic, and pluralistic state whose official religion is Judaism, and whose majority is Jewish. Many states (including Israel’s neighbours Jordan and Egypt, and countries such as Greece) have their official religion as Christianity or Islam (but grant equal civil rights to all citizens) and there is no reason why Israeli Jews should not want the religion of their state to be officially Jewish. This is a reasonable demand, and it may allay the fears of Jewish Israelis about becoming a minority in Israel, and at the same time not arouse fears among Palestinians and Arabs about being ethnically cleansed in Palestine.”
      Gershom Gorenberg pushes Nusseibeh's arguments further by stating that rather than promoting a Jewish State, Israel should be working to end all forms of discrimination against Arab Israelis. "In some realms, affirmative action is needed to make up for past injustices…[For example,] Universities should actively seek to recruit Arab students; [and] the civil service must enlist Arab staff and actively seek to advance them in the hierarchy. [Also,] state land must be equally available to all citizens. Admissions committees and other techniques of housing discrimination against Arabs should be assigned to history books.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Obama Era a new Gilded Age, with Rich Getting Richer, Poor Poorer
    • The article, while important, fails to identify the essential causes of gross income and wealth inequality: Changing norms and institutions not technological change or globalization. The latter forces have affected every advanced country, however, many countries have not experienced US rates of inequality growth. (As an example of the significance of norms and institutions, consider that Denmark’s Gini Index was 24.7 in 1992 and 24.8 in 2011(est.) while the US’s respective numbers were 43 and 47.)
      “[W]hen economists, startled by rising inequality [in the early 2000s], began looking back at the origins of middle-class America, they discovered…that the transition from the inequality of the Gilded Age [1870s to the beginning of the 20th century] to the relative equality of the…[post WWII] era wasn’t a gradual evolution. Instead, America’s postwar middle-class society was created, in just the space of a few years, by the policies of the Roosevelt administration…”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • A Delegation of Congressional Christian Zionists to Israel
    • John 8:44 (As, I suspect, you well know)

      The fact that many knowledgeable bible readers agree with my interpretation of John 8:44 makes my initial point: One can find what one wants in the bible. (In other words, you will only be making my point by providing me with a different interpretation of John 8:44.)

      To understand most people's reasoning process, I'd recommend reading "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt.

      Brian, do you agree that "dominionists" (not all Christians) believe “that Jews who do not convert are damned and will be destroyed in the fiery, apocalyptic ending of the world.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

    • It is ironic (and telling) that most US evangelicals have never demonstrated the slightest interest in the welfare of Palestinian Christians who live under Israel’s harsh and illegal occupation. In contrast, in 2012 “the United Church of Canada [the largest Protestant denomination in Canada]…voted to boycott products exported by Israeli settlements on the West Bank."
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com
      It is also banal to add that one can find what one wants in the bible. For example, “Hatred of Jews and other non-Christians pervades the Gospel of John…Jews, he wrote, are children of the devil…” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Saudi Internet Activists face Crackdown
    • 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 is only condemned when it comes 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.
      US President Eisenhower wrote the following in 1956: “Arabia is a country that contains the holy places of the Moslem world, and the Saudi Arabians are considered to be the most deeply religious of all the Arab groups. Consequently, the King could be built up, possibly, as a spiritual leader. Once this were accomplished, we might begin to urge his right to political leadership.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Syrian Christians Menaced by Extremist Sunnis, Slam Lack of Lebanese Support
    • The article reminds us once again not to equate Sunni fundamentalists with Shia Hezbollah or Shia Iran. For example, westerners “think of images of demonstrations and chanting crowds and assume (encouraged by our news media) that Iranian Shi’ism is a dangerous, uncontrollable, fanatical force. But in truth the religious hierarchy that Iranian Shi’ism has developed means that religious Iranians are more controlled, more subject to religious discipline and the guidance of senior clerics (most of whom are pragmatic and moderate...) than Sunni Muslims, who since the dissolution of the Caliphate in the 1920s have lacked that kind of structure. Some experts have pointed to that lack as a factor in the rise of radical, theologically incoherent groups like Al-Qaeda."
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • The 1% is Hogging so much of our Income that it's Holding the Economy Back
    • What's missing from this article is the crucial role government can play in reducing excessive wealth and income inequality. The life of patents and the tax rate on capital gains are not laws of nature. Consider:
      Question: True or False: Rising income inequality is simply the result of impersonal economic forces that have affected the US and the rest of the advanced world.

      Answer: False. “The sharp rightward shift in U.S. politics is unique among advanced countries; Thatcherite Britain, the closest comparison, was at most a pale reflection. The [impersonal] forces of technological change and globalization, by contrast, affect everyone. If the rise in inequality has political roots, the United States should stand out; if it’s mainly due to impersonal market forces, trends in equality should have been similar across the advanced world. And the fact is that the increase in U.S. inequality has no counterpoint anywhere else in the advanced world. During the Thatcher years Britain experienced a sharp rise in income disparities, but not nearly as large as the rise [in the U.S.]…, and inequality has risen modestly if at all in continental Europe and Japan.”
      “[T]he forces of technological change and globalization have affected every advanced country: Europe has applied information technology almost as rapidly as we have, cheap clothing in Europe is just as likely to be made in China as is cheap clothing in America….In terms of institutions and norms, however, things are very different among advanced nations: In Europe, for example, unions remain strong, and old norms condemning very high pay and emphasizing the entitlements of workers haven’t faded away….There is…a…case for believing that institutions and norms, rather than technology or globalization, are the big sources of rising inequality in the United States.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Young Israelis Emigrating Abroad Roils Politics in Tel Aviv
    • Many people are confused about religious Jews in Israel -- some are anti-Zionist and some are super-Zionist.

      At least “two major camps can be generally identified among religious Jews in Israel–the Orthodox (typically National-Religious) and the ultra-Orthodox (or Haredim), each with its own subdivisions.” During the early 2000s, religious Jews “constituted about 17 to 20 percent of the Jewish population” of Israel. Laws favoring religious Jews in Israel have led to an astounding growth in the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox population—and in the spread of religious practices and attitudes. “From the early 1950s to the mid-2000s, the [Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox] have grown from approximately “10 percent to at least a quarter of the [Israeli] Jewish population, about 1.5 million people.” The percentage of Jewish citizens who “would choose halakhic [religious] law over any competing democratic standard” approximates 35 percent. Interestingly, the same proportion wants the state “to support the emigration of Arab citizens” and “would have Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, pardoned.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Top 10 errors in Netanyahu's Speech Demanding Iran give up 'Genocidal' Policies
    • Netanyahu is doing what he does best: fear-mongering to imbecilic supporters.
      While the Iranian regime deserves condemnation for its behavior toward domestic critics, the conflict the US and Israel has with Iran “springs from the exigencies of geopolitics rather than ideology: Iran’s age-old ambition to be recognized as a–or the–regional hegemon versus the determination of the U.S. and Israel to foil its ambition and preserve their regional preeminence. Many informed Israelis freely acknowledge” this reality. For example, according to Eliezer Tsafrir, former head of Israeli intelligence in Iran and Iraq: “However ideological and Islamic, everything Iran was doing was nationalistic, and even similar to the Shah”.
      Fortunately, saner elements in the US have come to accept the need of Iran's help in "organizing" the Middle East and Aghanistan. Iran has already demonstrated its rational management of regional affairs at the Bonn conference, etc.; all Iran expects is to be treated as the regional power it is.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • GOP: No Climate Change because, Bible
    • -“[E]vangelicals have been notoriously uninterested in environmental preservation. If Jesus is going to return soon to rescue the true believers and to unleash judgment on those left behind, why should we devote any attention whatsoever to care of the earth, which will soon be destroyed in the apocalypse predicted in the book of Revelation?” President Reagan’s evangelical secretary of the interior echoed this belief when he “remarked to stunned members of the House Interior Committee, ‘I don’t know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns.’”
      -Georgia Republican Representative, Paul “Broun, who sits on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee,” made the following “comments in a videotaped Sept. 27″ 2012 speech: “God’s word is true….All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior….” The sad reality is that Rep. Broun’s views are not “radically out of whack with other Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Sunni-Shiite Tensions soar in Lebanon; Hizbullah accuses Saudis in Iran Embassy Bombing
    • Hezbollah should not be equated with Sunni Salafis. Consider:
      -"In the June 2009 parliamentary elections, Hezbollah and its allies…decisively triumphed in the popular vote, denying Saad Hariri and his backers an opportunity to trumpet the election as a great victory for the moderate axis….Of the roughly 1.5 million people who voted, 54 percent voted for Hezbollah and its allies, and 46 for the governing coalition. In June 2011, Lebanon’s new prime minister, Najib Mikati, announced a government dominated by members and allies of Hezbollah."
      -“Hezbollah draws unrivaled reserves of power from the total devotion and trust it has won from its constituents, most of Lebanon’s estimated 1 to 2 million Shia. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese from other sects, including non-Muslims, have allied with Hezbollah, despite widespread hostility on the part of moderates and secularists toward the Party of God.” However, regardless of election results, “Hezbollah…established that it wouldn’t let any coalition rule the country without giving the Party of God veto power. It had the street power to back its demand.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • The Coming Drone Wars: Iran Unveils its own Drone, with a 1200-mile Range
    • You are grossly underestimating Iran's scientific infrastructure. Consider:
      “Which country’s scientific output rose 18-fold between 1996 and 2008, from 736 published papers to 13,238? The answer – Iran – might surprise many people, especially in the western nations used to leading science. Iran has the fastest rate of increase in scientific publication in the world. And if political relations between Iran and the US are strained, it seems that the two countries’ scientists are getting on fine: the number of collaborative papers between them rose almost fivefold from 388 to 1831 over the same period.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Scrooge Republicans prefer Pentagon White Elephants to Food Stamps for Poor Children
    • Institutional changes are an important element of addressing growing poverty. Consider: ”The sharpest increases in wage inequality in the Western world have taken place in the United States and in Britain, both of which experienced sharp declines in union membership.” Imagine how different worker pay would be in the US if “Wal-Mart employees were part of a union that could demand higher wages and better benefits…[While] retail prices might be slightly higher…the retail giant wouldn’t go out of business—and the American middle class would have several hundred thousand additional members.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • The American Quagmire in Afghanistan by the Numbers (21,565 US Troops Dead or Wounded)
    • According to the late Michael Hastings, “The simple and terrifying reality, forbidden from discussion in America, was that despite spending $600 billion a year on the military, despite having the best fighting force the world had ever known, they were getting their asses kicked by illiterate peasants who made bombs out of manure and wood.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Saudi Arabia forces Women to Cancel Driving Protest, Asserts Authoritarianism in Region
    • -“[I]n Saudi Arabia the law actually enshrines the principle that the male knows better than the female. A woman may not enroll in university, open a bank account, get a job, or travel outside the country without the written permission of a mahram (guardian) who must be a male blood relative—her father, grandfather, brother, husband, or, in the case of a widow or separated woman, her adult son.” “Since 9/11 women have the right to work in the private sector, but like any other activity outside the home, they can do it only with the written permission of their…male guardian.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israelis again impose Collective punishment on Palestinians of Gaza
    • As Norman Finkelstein has persuasively argued, probably the best tactic for Palestinians is to engage in massive civil disobedience, and suffer significant televised abuse (similar to Blacks in the US South, to attain progress.

      It is almost universally understood that Israel is the problem. For example, a 2009 study by an official U.S. government agency concluded that “Although peaceful coexistence between Israel and Hamas is clearly not possible under the formulations that comprise Hamas’s 1988 charter, Hamas has, in practice, moved well beyond its charter. Indeed, Hamas has been carefully and consciously adjusting its political program for years and has sent repeated signals that it may be ready to begin a process of coexisting with Israel. [And,] As evidenced by numerous statements, Hamas is not hostile to Jews because of religion. Rather, Hamas’s view toward Israel is based on a fundamental belief that Israel has occupied land that is inherently Palestinian and Islamic.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Dear Tea Party: The Gov't Shutdown is Hurting White People, Too
    • The politics of (manipulating) race is at the heart of US Republican politics: “[S]omething has allowed movement conservatism to win elections despite policies that should have been unpopular with a majority of the voters.…[That something] can be summed up in just five words: Southern whites started voting Republican.”

      After the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, President “Johnson told…a presidential aide [Bill Moyers], ‘I think we’ve just delivered the South to the Republican Party for the rest of my life, and yours.’ He was right…The changing politics of race made it possible for a revived conservative movement, whose ultimate goal was to reverse the achievements of the New Deal, to win national elections—even though it supported policies that favored the interests of a narrow elite over those of middle- and lower-income Americans.”

      “Ronald Reagan began his 1980 [presidential] campaign with a states’ rights speech outside Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three civil rights workers were murdered; Newt Gingrich was able to take over Congress entirely because of…the switch of Southern whites from overwhelming support for Democrats to overwhelming support for Republicans.”

      Movement conservatism’s “pandering to a subset of white voters by catering to their fear of blacks (and other non-whites such as Hispanics)…has less electoral impact as the US becomes less white and as many whites become less racist.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Netanyahu and Iranian Jeans: Ironies of Modernity and Tradition
    • Excellent post. I'd just like to clarify on the demographics of Israel's religious population:
      -Two major "camps can be generally identified among religious Jews in Israel -- the Orthodox (typically National-Religious) and the ultra-Orthodox (or Haredim), each with its own subdivisions.”
      -Laws favoring religious Jews in Israel have led to an astounding growth in the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox population -- and in the spread of religious practices and attitudes. “From the early 1950s to the mid-2000s, the [Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox] have grown from approximately “10 percent to at least a quarter of the [Israeli] Jewish population, about 1.5 million people.” The percentage of Jewish citizens who “would choose halakhic [religious] law over any competing democratic standard” approximates 35 percent. Interestingly, the same proportion wants the state “to support the emigration of Arab citizens” and “would have Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, pardoned.”
      -The Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox communities have very different histories. The Orthodox "community never shrank from assuming power in any form, first in the Zionist movement, then in the state.” As a result, the Orthodox “have blended more or less comfortably into [Israel]; they acquired advanced degrees,…took management jobs…, and served in the army.”
      -The ultra-Orthodox communities "kept mainly to themselves while Zionism was taking shape….Dressed distinctively in black caftans and rounded hats...they remain pietists connected to Diaspora sects..."
      “[I]sraeli Jewish society continues to advance, paradoxically, in two contrary directions: The majority is moving toward a more open, secular, Western lifestyle and polity; and the (growing) minority is moving backward, toward a medieval, obscurantist life, attentive to what are perceived as God’s wishes and commands. This ambivalence mirrors the development of the region’s Arab societies -- except, of course, that in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and the rest -- in which it is the backward-looking fundamentalists who are in the majority and increasingly in the saddle.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Day of Division in Middle East: Bloody Clashes in Egypt, Iraq
    • Excellent comment, John. It is important to recognize that Iraq experienced zero suicide bombings before the 2003 US invasion. However, as you and Juan state, Shia elite must make meaningful accommodations to Sunnis.
      Yet, to repeat, violent sectarianism is a tragic consequence of the invasion, and not due to Islam or Arab culture. When do massive US reparations start flowing to Iraq (and Vietnam, etc.)?
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Iran's Leader "Optimistic" about Rowhani's US Diplomacy, but Skeptical of Washington, Israel
    • According to Foreign Affairs (September/October 2013), it appears that Khamenei has sound reasons for questioning US goodwill. Khamenei, “repeatedly claims that the stated rationales for U.S. policies are meant to mask more sinister motives. As he put it in [a] speech in August 2011, ‘Although the excuse for the sanctions is the issue of nuclear energy, they are lying. ... Perhaps you recall that the first sanctions against this country were enacted at a time when the nuclear issue absolutely did not exist. ... Thus, the enemy’s goal is to hurl the Islamic Republic to the ground.’ Khamenei bases such arguments partly on what he sees as two failed attempts by Iran to compromise with the United States. The first was during Khatami’s term as president, when the government suspended its uranium enrichment for two years as a trust-building measure. Khamenei believes the Western governments were not interested in trust building, only in making the pause in enrichment permanent. The two-year suspension resulted in no achievements for Iran — not the lifting of sanctions, nor the release of frozen Iranian assets in the United States, nor any other reward. ... Khamenei then went on to remind his audience that despite Khatami’s willingness to compromise, his kind words for Americans, his cooperation in toppling the Taliban and in the subsequent Bonn negotiations to install a pro-American government in Afghanistan, U.S. President George W. Bush had still included Iran in his ‘axis of evil.’ The second experience he draws on is Libya’s 2003 decision to give up its nuclear ambitions, which nevertheless did not prevent Muammar al-Qaddafi’s violent removal through NATO military involvement. ... Khamenei suspects that even if all of Iran’s nuclear facilities were closed down, or opened up to inspections and monitoring, Western governments would simply pocket the concessions and raise other issues — such as terrorism, human rights, or Israel — as excuses for maintaining their pressure and pursuing regime change. To Khamenei, when it comes to nuclear weapons, the Iraqi and Libyan cases teach the same lesson. Saddam and Qaddafi opened their facilities up to inspections by the West, ended up having no nuclear weapons, and were eventually attacked, deposed, and killed. Major compromises by Iran on the nuclear front without significant concessions by the West, he believes, could end up leading to similar consequences for the Iranian regime.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israeli Nuclear & other Arms compared to Iran's
    • The following indicates that Netanyahu should be given very little respect by serious US policy makers:
      -During the Clinton administration, Aaron David Miller “saw Bibi [Netanyahu] as a kind of speed bump that would have to be negotiated along the way until a new Israeli prime minister came along who was more serious about peace. In the words of Miller’s boss, Dennis Ross, ‘neither President Clinton nor Secretary Albright believed that Bibi had any real interest in pursuing peace.’ But every time the Clinton administration tried to drag Netanyahu in the direction of a viable Palestinian state, Netanyahu rallied American Jewish groups and conservative Republicans to his defense.” Netanyahu has remained consistent in his vision. “In 2005, he resigned as Sharon’s finance minister to protest Israel’s dismantling of settlements in Gaza.”
      -In negotiations with the Palestinians in 2010, Netanyahu “refused to discuss the borders of a Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, or the problem of refugees. Just about the only major issue he would discuss was the security arrangements that would accompany a peace deal.” By November 2010, “the negotiations were officially dead.” The US under Obama would not pressure Israel on the Occupation. The American political reality superseded the costs of Palestinian suffering.
      -In January 2013, Yuval Diskin, chief of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency from 2005 to 2011, “said Netanyahu squandered the gains made by Israel’s security forces by not using a period of relative quiet over the past few years to move toward peace with the Palestinians….Diskin criticized Netanyahu’s lack of movement on peace talks and said there is a chance another Palestinian uprising could break out. ‘The role of the security forces is to create conditions so the political echelon will know what to do with them, and the quiet which was achieved in the last few years is an opportunity that the political echelon should not have missed,’ Diskin said.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Is Iran out of the US War Queue? The Twilight of the Hawks
    • Iran has demonstrated that it can be an effective “ally” of many dimensions of US foreign policy. For example, Iran aided the US in freeing hostages in Lebanon during the Bush I administration; in getting arms to Bosnia’s Muslims during the Clinton administration; and, in defeating Al-Qaida and the Taliban after 9/11 and having the Bonn conference a success during the Bush II administration.
      Once the US accepts that Iran is a regional power that is deeply concerned about its national independence, relations should continue to improve. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Why Ted Cruz Should sit down and Shut Up: Countries with Social Safety Net Happiest
    • A sharp focus on inequality is crucial to understanding many social ills. “[T]here is overwhelming evidence that as inequality grows a country becomes nastier. [R]ates of violent crime and racism tend to be higher where the gap between rich and poor is greater. So firmly established is the link between homicide rates and inequality…that many criminologists regard it as more important than any other environmental factor….[I]n some countries inequality reduces the life expectancy of the poorest by as much as 25%. We are talking about the effects not of absolute poverty but of inequality – which apparently leads to acute anxieties and insecurities, and a chronic lack of social trust.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Is Iran Ready to do a Deal with Obama over its Nuclear Program?
    • Juan, would you agree with the following:
      1. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, Iran is entitled to enrich uranium to low levels for domestic power consumption and medical treatment.
      2. If the United States would recognize Iran's right to enrich uranium, Iran would agree to far more transparency.
      3. The US hasn't agreed that Iran has the right to enrich, and this is the main block to moving the process forward.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Is Hamas Finished? Facing a Youth Rebellion and Egyptian, Iranian Hostility
    • While I don't deny your claim that Hamas is in an extremely difficult situation, I wonder if your characterization of Hamas as essentially hopelessly extreme is unfair. Consider:
      -A study by “an official U.S. government agency [concluded that] Hamas ‘has, in practice, moved well beyond its charter…has been carefully and consciously adjusting its political program for years and has sent repeated signals that it is ready to begin a process of coexisting with Israel.’”
      -Ethan Bronner, the Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times, had this to say concerning Gaza under Hamas in early 2009: “Honestly, the idea that this is some totalitarian spot where you can’t write honestly is not true….Hamas is not al-Qaeda….I can’t tell you whether they are going to accept Israel. What they basically say…is if we can go back to the ’67 borders and we can deal with the question of a right of return and all Palestinians agree…we won’t stand in the way….[A]s a broad observation, it seems almost impossible to imagine that there could be a Palestinian state that doesn’t include Hamas as part of a political structure. And if that’s true, then Israel will not have the security of being a Jewish democratic state, not an occupier, without some relationship with the Hamas movement.”
      -According to an October 2012 New York Times article, “Hamas…is working to suppress the more radical Islamic militant groups that have emerged [in Gaza]. The jihadist extremists, known as Salafists and inspired by the ideology of Al Qaeda, are challenging Hamas’s informal and fragile cease-fire with Israel.” After the 2006 elections, “militant jihadists began attacks against Israel and also against Internet cafes, restaurants and women’s hair salons in Gaza, places they saw as being at odds with their deeply conservative interpretation of Islam.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israeli Troops attack European Diplomats on Aid Mission
    • Two pieces of information neatly encapsulate the reality Israel has become:

      -In 1937, Ben-Gurion wrote the following in a letter to his son, Amos: “My assumption is that…a partial Jewish state is not an end but a beginning…and it will serve as a powerful lever in our historical efforts to redeem the whole of the country.” And, “In June 1938, Ben-Gurion explained to the Jewish Agency Executive that he had agreed to the partition plan [of the Peel Commission] ‘not because I will make do with part of the country, but on the basis of the assumption that after we constitute a strong force after the establishment of the state we will annul the partition and expand through the whole Land of Israel.’”
      -According to Peter Beinart, "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

  • The Hubris of the Syria Interventionists
    • You were overly kind not to repeat your 22 April 2003 writing on Paul Wolfowitz's great ignorance: "Religious Shiite parties and militias in Iraq have recently stepped into the gap resulting from the collapse of the Baath Party, especially in the sacred shrine cities. This development must have come as a shock to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who in early March preferred Iraqis as US allies to Saudis, saying that they are secular and 'overwhelmingly Shia, which is different from the Wahhabis of the peninsula, and they don't bring the sensitivity of having the holy cities of Islam being on their territory.'" link to merip.org

      Also, the following question is revealing: How many suicide bombings had Iraq experienced before the 2003 US invasion?
      Answer: None. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Top Ten things Americans need to Know about Syria if they're going to Threaten to Bomb It
    • A critical factor to the Syrian conflict's growth is that the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq has shifted the regional balance of power toward (Shiite) Iran. Saudi Arabia, for example, has now seen the rise of (Shiite) Iraq along with past rises of (Shiite) Hezbollan and Iran. It was inevitable that outside players, with conflicting agendas, would greatly add to the Syrian civil war.

      One partial solution -- which would require the US to sacrifice influence and therefore won't occur -- is for the US to realize that Iran is the state it should be working closely with -- not Israel or Saudi Arabia. Iran, for example, has proven its effectiveness to the US by the assistance it provided after the US invaded Afghanistan. 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

  • American Jews Divided on Syria Strike, Many Oppose AIPAC
    • "There is a clear split between the bulk of Jewish Americans, who are largely liberal-democrats, and the main lobbying arms of the Jewish community which promote neoconservative foreign policies. In 2005, three-quarters of American Jews said they supported U.S. pressure on both Israel and the Palestinians if it would help bring a peace deal. Those numbers have held steady in the years since. In the 2008 presidential election, Obama won 78 percent of the Jewish vote, a remarkable testament to the gulf between American Jewry and many of its communal leaders. In 2012, Obama won approximately 70 percent of the Jewish vote."
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

      What benefit does the US derive from Israel's brutalization of the Palestinians?

  • Is the US Government the Managing Committee of the Pirate Banks?
    • The source of the problem is widely known and obvious. Fixing the problem requires a crisis that significantly threatens elites. It's unsettling to think how big a crisis that will require. The problem: “Thousands of lobbyists plus billions of dollars equal access and influence out of the reach of ordinary Americans….In 2009, more than 13,700 registered lobbyists spent a record $3.5 billion swaying government policy…double the amount lobbyists spent as recently as 2002….And that is just the money corporate America is spending on lobbying. Millions more are given directly to politicians and the political parties….Over the past two decades, [the financial sector] was the top contributor to political campaigns….[T]he bankers’ money rained down [to both Democrats and Republicans]…The investments paid off…with the rollback of…financial regulations that had kept the worst excesses of corporate greed in check since the Great Depression…The results for corporate America: record profits, record pay packages, and record bonuses. The results for the rest of us: the savings and loan crisis, the corporate scandals of the Enron era, and the [current] economic collapse…” The US “spent $182 billion to bail out AIG ($12.9 billion of which went straight to Goldman Sachs)…this amount alone would be more than enough to close the 2010 budget gap in every state in the Union.” “[One] effective means of restoring the integrity of our government is through the full public financing of political campaigns….[This is] the one reform that makes all other reforms possible….If someone’s going to own the politicians, it might as well be the American people.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Defecting Saudi Prince: Royal Family in Panic at Arab Revolts, Thousands imprisoned
    • History repeats: In the early 1960s a group of Saudi princes, led by Prince Talal, flew to Cairo and called for constitutional democracy for Saudi Arabia. Talal even wrote a proposed constitution for Saudi Arabia which would have created a constitutional monarchy and expanded civil rights. Talal later returned to Saudi Arabia and became a rich businessman. In 2007 he again advocated for a more liberal Saudi Arabia.
      There is no reason to expect much change in Saudi Arabia as the same forces -- wealth to finance a welfare state, strong US support, an extreme clergy, a conservative ethos -- persist.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israel's Newly Multi-Cultural Army Stirs Controversy: Ultra-Orthodox Jews & Palestinian-Israeli Christians (Goldman)
    • At Israel’s founding in 1948, ultra-Orthodox society was very different from what it is now. "It was a normal working society, similar to the rest of the Jewish population. The fertility rate was about the same....To get married, a man had to leave yeshivah [religious school] and find work. Rather than being a diorama of traditional Jewish life in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust...Israel’s present-day version of ultra-Orthodoxy is a creation of the Jewish state.” In 2000, the Israeli 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.”

      The longer Israeli leaders permit the state to finance the ultra-Orthodox, the more distorted Israel’s democracy and ultra-Orthodoxy will become, and the more difficult it will be to adopt and implement corrective policies. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Syria: Attack on Sayyida Zainab Provokes Sunni-Shiite Tensions in Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan
    • Juan, would you have the time to "compare and contrast" the Syrian civil war to Lebanon's?

      In Lebanon in the 1970s, "Religious coexistence gave way to estrangement… Waving holy banners, neighbor railed against neighbor. People seized upon their communal identity in a desperate effort at self-preservation. The state of war pushed people into their sectarian bunkers and turned an open, tolerant society into a jungle.… Christian fundamentalism, which was xenophobic and supremacist, fed into parallel tendencies in the Muslim camp. More than a hundred thousand people perished in the Lebanese Civil War. A million people—a third of the country’s population—were displaced.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Detroit's Bankruptcy and America's Future: Robots, Race, Globalization and the 1%
    • 1. My comment stated "advanced" (i.e. developed) states.

      2. How do you explain, as an example, that Denmark's Gini Index was 24.7 in 1992 and 24.8 in 2011(est.) while the US's respective numbers were 43 and 47?

      We should not ignore the important role of institutions and norms when we discuss income inequality.

    • The common refrain of linking technology and globalization with rising inequality may be largely wrong. It is not disputed that the impersonal forces of technological change and globalization have affected all advanced states. However, "If the rise in inequality has political roots, the United States should stand out; if it’s mainly due to impersonal market forces, trends in equality should have been similar across the advanced world. And the fact is that the increase in U.S. inequality has no counterpoint anywhere else in the advanced world. During the Thatcher years Britain experienced a sharp rise in income disparities, but not nearly as large as the rise [in the U.S.]…, and inequality has risen modestly if at all in continental Europe and Japan.” “In terms of institutions and norms, however, things are very different among advanced nations: In Europe, for example, unions remain strong, and old norms condemning very high pay and emphasizing the entitlements of workers haven’t faded away….There is…a…case for believing that institutions and norms, rather than technology or globalization, are the big sources of rising inequality in the United States.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Top 10 Reasons Americans should Dismiss Israel's Netanyahu on Attacking Iran
    • An alleged nuclear weapons program is the pretext, not the context, for the US's aggression toward Iran. According to David Crist, a historian for the United States federal government...“Hard liners in Iran reject the status quo of American supremacy in the region....While in this conflict the United States remains largely the good guy, it has not always been the perfect guy. Both Bush administrations dismissed Iranian goodwill gestures and refused to accept any dialogue that addressed Iran’s legitimate security concerns. The United States supported Saddam Hussein and his Arab bankrollers in a bloody war against the Islamic Republic that killed several hundred thousand Iranian soldiers. The mantra of regime change remains a frequent slogan in many quarters in Washington. Unfortunately, Iran’s response to these trespasses has invariably been to use the tools of the terrorist: an exploding car bomb on a crowded street...Iran’s quest for nuclear technology has heightened the stakes and the tension but it has not been a catalyst for the conflict.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israel's District 9: Its Biggest Ethnic Cleansing since 1948
    • Imagine the outrage in the West if Iran singled out a significant portion of its Jewish population (of approximately 25,000) and relocated them for "their own good". Meanwhile, unbeknownst to most westerners, the Jewish community in Iran continues to run kosher shops, Hebrew schools and synagogues, and has guaranteed representation in parliament.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Seven things you can learn from Mandela's Life (CNN Video)
    • Americans should know that it was only in 2008 that “Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress party [were] removed from the US terror watch list….Ronald Reagan had originally placed the ANC on the list in the 1980s….Prior to the removal of his name from the watch list Mr. Mandela had to get special certification from the US secretary of state that he [was] not a terrorist in order to visit the country. Mr. Mandela won the Nobel peace prize in 1993, and was president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.” The grace, modesty, and wisdom of Mandela provide a model for any political leader.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • The Syrian War comes to Lebanon as Sidon Explodes into Violence
    • The curse of Saudi- and US-supported Sunni fundamentalists continues to haunt the Middle East and surrounding region. While the US, Europe, and Israel continue to point to Iran as the key destablizing actor in the region, the absolute dictatorship of Saudi Arabia cannot tolerate quasi-democratic, anti-Royalist political currents.

      Let's hope the past does not repeat:
      “By the end of September 1996 the Taliban had conquered Kabul and had extended their rule to twenty-two of the country’s thirty-one provinces. They announced that their godly government would be known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and while most of the world prudently stepped back and waited, three countries granted this unusual entity official recognition: Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates—and Saudi Arabia.” The Taliban began issuing prohibitions: “no kite flying, no pool tables, no music, no nail polish, no toothpaste, no televisions, no beard shaving…[T]he Taliban also…closed all girls’ schools and colleges, and banned women from working…These draconian regulations were enforced by religious police squads…that were built directly on the Saudi model of fundamentalist vigilantes and drew support from Saudi religious charities.” Not for the “first or last time, Saudi favor to Islamic purists had helped give birth to a monster…” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Sunni-Shiite Conflict Spikes as al-Qaeda Massacres 60 Shiites, Gulf States Sanction Hizbullah
    • In a world of difficult choices, it is not hard to choose between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda-types. Consider:
      - "When Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, it left behind thousands of collaborators, including men who had beaten and tortured Hezbollah fighters on behalf of the Israelis. Nasrallah ordered his followers to keep their hands off all collaborators, leaving their judgment to Lebanese courts. Nasrallah emphasized that there would be no retaliatory killings or revenge attacks….In fact, following the withdrawal, there was a remarkable degree of calm….Overall, that time will be remembered as a remarkably orderly and humane period, especially when measured against the history of internecine violence that scarred Lebanon for much of the preceding few decades.”
      - "Hezbollah engages in a vast range of public services and infrastructural projects — from which Christians and Sunnis, not just Shiites, often benefited — such as hospitals and schools, cut-price supermarkets and pharmacies, low-cost housing, land reclamation and irrigation. In some areas it has assumed responsibility for most of the water supply, electricity, refuse collection, sewage disposal and policing."
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • How the US Can Facilitate Peace in Syria: Talking to All Sides including Iran (Lawson)
    • Juan, would you agree that while Iran deserves condemnation for its repression of internal dissent, it has shown that it can be an effective "ally" of many dimensions of US foreign policy. For example, Iran aided the US in freeing hostages in Lebanon during the Bush I administration; in getting arms to Bosnia's Muslims during the Clinton administration; in defeating Al-Qaida and the Taliban after 9/11 and having the Bonn conference a success during the Bush II administration. It can be argued that while Israel is a source of problems for the US, Iran could be an important source of assistance.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • President Obama and Counter-Terrorism: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
    • It is good to read that the US may more effectively address the following common tactic of "revolutionary" groups:
      Bin Laden, in a 2004 videotape, described his strategy of luring the US to self-defeating battle: "We, alongside the mujahideen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat...We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.... All that we have to do is to send two mujahideen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written 'al-Qaeda', in order to make generals race there and to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations..." As predicted by Bin Laden "Washington, goaded by [neo-conservatives and other hawkish groups], also deployed forces - or drone missiles at the very least - to virtually wherever al-Qaeda or its alleged affiliates raised its flag, often at the cost of weakening local governments and incurring the wrath of local populations, particularly in Somalia and Yemen."
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Guatamala's Montt guilty of Atrocity; but what about Ronald Reagan? (Democracy Now!)
    • The following piece of information results in absolute disbelief when told to "properly educated" Westerners:
      "In the Cambridge History of the Cold War, John Coatsworth [a historian of Latin America and the provost of Columbia University] recalls that from 1960 [by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags] to ‘the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those in the Soviet Union and its East European satellites.’ But being nonatrocities [since committed by US-supported regimes], these crimes, substantially traceable to U.S. intervention, didn’t inspire a human-rights crusade.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

      The above is important to understand because what is often reported as aberrations in US foreign policy concerning "non-Whites" (Vietnam, Abu Ghraib, etc.) are not aberrations.

  • Hawking joins Academic Boycott of Israel
    • It does not take a moral philosopher of the level of Kant to understand that if "Israel" (within the Green Line) is boycotted then supporters of Greater Israel can rightly point to hypocrisy in the treatment of Israel. Likewise, it should be obvious that a boycott of the occupied territories should be supported.

      A boycott of settler products is supported by prominent Israelis and the Palestinian Authority. An effective boycott won't challenge Israel’s legitimacy within the green line; rather, it will enable many Jews and non-Jews to work together. BDS is a tactic for justice; it is not a categorical imperative. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • On how Rightwing Israel-firsters don't actually like Jews: Glenn Beck's Nazi Bloomberg
    • It is telling how quickly US conservatives (and liberals) came to see Israel as a strategic asset once it decimated Egypt's army in the 1967 War and, along with it, Nasser's aspirations for meaningful Middle East autonomy. (Increased US financial and military support followed soon after that war.) It's now hard to believe that "In 1961, an article in the pro-Israel US periodical Commentary cautioned Israel to submit its new reactor to international controls as soon as possible and concluded that an Israeli atomic bomb would be a terrible thing because it would show that nothing at all has been done to prevent the spread of that weapon.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Israeli, Hizbullah Proxy War in Syria
    • Hezbollah is one of the very few regional actors that can seriously inhibit Israel's hegemony in the Middle East. Therefore, it is only to be expected that Israel will exploit any pretext to "degrade" Hezbollah. Consider:
      “In leaked testimony to the Winograd Committee investigating Israel’s mismanagement of the summer 2006 Lebanon war, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert admitted that the war had been carefully planned at least four months ahead of time…Facts such as that Hezbollah fired no rockets into Israel until after Israel’s savage aerial attacks…had begun, or that Israel had left unresolved for years the bitter issues of Lebanese prisoners of war and the occupation of the Shebaa Farms region, only generate more questions when one considers how easily negotiations could have defused growing tensions.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

      It is also a recurring trend for Israel to heighten tensions whenever a meaningful US or Arab effort is made to promote peace in the region. Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon is just one example.

  • Drone Strikes are the Face of America to Yemenis: al-Muslimi
  • Report: Highest US Officials Responsible for Use of Torture (Plus Daily Show Video)
    • The US's torture regime should have been expected to lead to retail terrorism. In addition to our common sense and the findings of evolutionary psychology, it is well documented that revenge is an important cause of terrorism. "The University of Toronto sociologist Robert Brym carefully studied all 138 suicide bombings between September 2000 and mid-July 2005 [in Israel]. He concluded that in the vast majority of cases the suicide bombers themselves—whatever their ideological predispositions, or the groups that claimed responsibility—had lost a friend or close relative to Israeli fire. They acted, he wrote, ‘out of revenge’.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • CNN Fail: Imaginary "Dark Males," "Accents," and "Arrests" Haunt Reporters
    • The mainstream media has an important role to play in dispelling myths and, thereby, promoting informed opinions.
      Accordingly, the media should be stating that American Muslims are "less likely" than other Americans to endorse terrorism. In fact, in the US, “Islamist terrorism remains rare: the number of Muslim-American terrorism suspects and perpetrators apprehended each year averaged around 14 annually between 2001 and 2008…” (The actual average “is probably lower because these numbers include acts of terrorism…that have no apparent Islamist or Jihadist motives, but happen to have been committed by Muslims.”) In 2010, the US suffered “20 non-Islamic terror attacks…(most of them right-wing).” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism
    • Whenever I am in a conversation with an uninformed person concerning "terror and Muslims", I simply ask: How many suicide bombings had Iraq experienced before the 2003 US invasion? The answer: None. "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."
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Eyeless in Gaza: When will Israel let its People Go?
    • Juan, you write that "What Israeli authorities seem unable to understand is that the Palestinians will never disappear and will never get used to their prison. The F-16 air strikes on a pitifully weak people...But they just fuel more violence..." But that is the policy: Israel wants an angry weak Gaza; otherwise Israel would have to enter good faith negotiations and it's the only party that would have to give up anything of worth. We know from past events that when the Palestinians provide goodwill gestures, the Israeli response is to ratchet up the violence to avoid having to deal fairly. For one of many examples, consider: "In June 2008, Egypt had ­brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas…­[that] was a success: the average number of rockets fired monthly from Gaza dropped from 179 to three. Yet on 4 November Israel violated the ceasefire by launching a raid into Gaza, killing six Hamas fighters.” (We all know the rest of that horrific event.) link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Viral Video on America's Incredibly Skewed distribution of Wealth
    • Data and statistics on income and wealth inequality in the US is useful. However, such information needs to be constantly supplemented by the the underlying causes of the inequality.

      It is common to hear the refrain from the center-Right and Right that inequality is largely caused by the impersonal forces of technology and globalization. However, “The [impersonal] forces of technological change and globalization...affect everyone. If the rise in inequality has political roots, the United States should stand out; if it’s mainly due to impersonal market forces, trends in equality should have been similar across the advanced world. And the fact is that the increase in U.S. inequality has no counterpoint anywhere else in the advanced world. During the Thatcher years Britain experienced a sharp rise in income disparities, but not nearly as large as the rise [in the U.S.]..., and inequality has risen modestly if at all in continental Europe and Japan.” “[T]he forces of technological change and globalization have affected every advanced country: Europe has applied information technology almost as rapidly as we have, cheap clothing in Europe is just as likely to be made in China as is cheap clothing in America....In terms of institutions and norms, however, things are very different among advanced nations: In Europe, for example, unions remain strong, and old norms condemning very high pay and emphasizing the entitlements of workers haven’t faded away….There is…a…case for believing that institutions and norms, rather than technology or globalization, are the big sources of rising inequality in the United States.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Pakistan, Iran defy US Sanctions to Inaugurate Gas Pipeline
    • The world continues to see that despite sanctions--and the desires of the Sunni Gulf states and the US--Iran, for many reasons, is a dominant player in the region. While the mainstream media relentlessly points to its supposed obscurantism, that same media continues to ignore elements of its modernism. Consider:
      “Which country’s scientific output rose 18-fold between 1996 and 2008, from 736 published papers to 13,238? The answer – Iran – might surprise many people, especially in the western nations used to leading science. Iran has the fastest rate of increase in scientific publication in the world. And if political relations between Iran and the US are strained, it seems that the two countries’ scientists are getting on fine: the number of collaborative papers between them rose almost fivefold from 388 to 1831 over the same period.” "In 2012, Iran has the twenty-fifth-largest economy in the world according to the CIA and the IMF. With a per capita income of roughly $11,000–comparable to that of Brazil, South Africa, and several former communist states in Central and Eastern Europe–its status as a middle-income developing country is well established.”
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Mission Accomplished: Iraq as America's biggest Blunder (Van Buren)
    • Thank you for your insightful comment. I'd appreciate your opinion on the developments of Egypt's "Arab Spring". Here, unlike Iraq, an autocrat was removed by internal, peaceful means.

      Also, with respect to Syria, where it isn't reasonable to have expected an Egypt-like "Arab Spring" process due to sectarian realities, what role, if any, do you see for (non-US)outside parties? Economic sanctions, etc., led by the UN?

  • Muslim Opposition to the Muslim Religious Right Grows, from Egypt to Bangladesh
    • Juan, would you say that one key to understanding the "Religious Right" in the Arab and Muslim world is that it was largely "created" as a response to western imperialism and colonialism?

      Therefore, for example, the Egyptian Brotherhood largely resulted from British imperialism and colonialism.

  • "Argo" as Orientalism and why it Upsets Iranians
    • It's important to note that when President Carter allowed the deposed Shah to enter the U.S., Iranians remembered that when the Shah fled into exile in 1953, CIA agents working at the embassy had returned him to power.

      Thus in the fervor of late 1979, the US's welcoming of the hated Shah seemed to confirm to Iranians what was suspected: the US was plotting against the revolution and was planning to replicate the 1953 coup. (In January 1979 President Carter did send a US general to Iran to determine, as one American official put it, "if the Iranian military had the stomach to attempt a coup and suppress the revolution."

      The hostage taking was in part meant to preempt such a possibility. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Ahmadinejad: US must Cease Militarily Targetting Iran before Direct Negotiations
    • Juan, as usual your analysis is clear and convincing (and deserves a NYT op ed. Just one question: Do you believe that closer ties between Iran and the US must come at the expense of tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia?
      According to David Crist's recent book on the US-Iran conflict, The Twilight War, "[T]he Iranian Revolution had added a mission as the new defender of the downtrodden Shia across the Middle East and, by extension, all Muslims resisting the West and Israel. Starting in Lebanon, facilitated by the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and most recently in Yemen and Bahrain, Iran provided a steady stream of military and economic support to these movements. This puts Iran squarely at odds with both Israel and the Sunni governments backed by the United States.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • On How the visit of Iran's Ahmadinejad to Egypt was a Dud
    • Since Egypt is essentially a client of the US and Iran is essentially in a state of war with the US, it is inevitable that there will be clear and tight limits to the degree of intercourse that can develop between them.
      However, Iran's measured moves toward Egypt should probably be seen as a further example of Iran's impressive use of soft power to secure its interests in the region.
      Along with its use of "proxies", such as Hezbollah, Iran has created linkages with peoples and states in the region to make it more difficult for the US to take even more aggressive military or diplomatic action.
      For example, a country like Bahrain, which has deep military connections to the U.S., must be cognizant of the meaningful cultural ties of its largely Shi'a population to Iran. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Lawmakers Threaten Brooklyn College for Event on Boycott of Israel over Settlements (Democracy Now!)
    • Public shaming can be effective and it should have been used as well in 2004. In 2004, after the World Court issued an advisory opinion condemning Israel's security Wall, 361 members of the U.S. House of Representatives backed a resolution supporting the Wall.
      Free speech condemned. International law condemned. What's next?
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Syria: Rebels take Aleppo Airport Road; NYT: Obama Nixed Clinton/Petraeus Plan to Arm Rebels
    • Juan, How can the Syrian opposition be assisted without the "Islamists"--who are a small but important element of the opposition--also being assisted?

      Are not the contradictions in US foreign policy creating a dilemma for it? To paraphrase from Robert Lacey recounting 9/11: America was the ‘far Satan,’ in Osama’s eyes, because it was the patron and supporter of the Al-Saud, the ‘near Satan’ that was the ultimate target. Few Americans could see that it was through the selection of contradictory friends (i.e., Islamic extremists in Afghanistan and allying with the House of Saud while also supporting Israel at the expense of Arabs) that successive US governments had picked themselves this lethal foe. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Obama's Inaugural and the Danger of an Iran War
    • In both 2001 (after 9/11, particularly at the Bonn Conference) and 2003 (after the US invaded Iraq), Iran showed a clear willingness to enter meaningful negotiations with the US. In both cases, it was the US, working from neocon-type reasoning, that shunned Iran. Therefore, when the US later did send positive signals toward Iran, Iranian leaders didn't trust the US. (It should not be hard to understand that Iran has conflicting groups in its leadership. Thus when the US shuns Iranian overtures, those elements seeking better relations with the US are compromised.)

      Iran needs some clear, tangible gestures from the US such as an easing of sanctions. Then, Iran will also require to have its legitimate security needs in the Gulf region respected. Once such moves are made there is a real possibility for better relations.

      Iran is not Saudi Arabia. Iran has a flawed democracy, rights for women, and an impressive scientific community. Its revolutionary days are long gone. If the US is looking for long-term allies in the Gulf, Iran is a good choice.

      In fact, when Israel finally gives up its abhorrent goal of Greater Israel (and much that goes with it), Iran is a natural ally for it as well. Israel and Iran “have not always been rivals, nor are they natural competitors. They do not have territorial disputes. They do not compete economically. They have traditionally maintained distinct regional zones of interest (the Eastern Mediterranean for Israel and the Persian Gulf for Iran). Their shared geopolitical interests led to years of cooperation before and even after Iran’s 1979 revolution. Arab governments have regarded both countries with great suspicion, while both viewed Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as the greatest obstacle to their national security interests." link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • The Afghan Sk8ter Girrls of Kabul (Video) - (Female Literacy has Tripled in Afghanistan)
    • It's worth remembering that Saudi Arabia and the US were critical in promoting extreme fundamentalism in Afghanistan. While other factors are undoubtedly relevant to Afghanistan's culture--Pashtunwali, for example, is more determinative of behavior than religion--the following is worth noting: “By the end of September 1996 the Taliban had conquered Kabul and had extended their rule to twenty-two of the country’s thirty-one provinces. They announced that their godly government would be known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and while most of the world prudently stepped back and waited, three countries granted this unusual entity official recognition: Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia." The Taliban began issuing prohibitions: “no kite flying, no pool tables, no music, no nail polish, no toothpaste, no televisions, no beard shaving…[T]he Taliban also…closed all girls’ schools and colleges, and banned women from working…These draconian regulations were enforced by religious police squads…that were built directly on the Saudi model of fundamentalist vigilantes and drew support from Saudi religious charities.” Not for the "first or last time, Saudi favor to Islamic purists had helped give birth to a monster…” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Let's also Remember the 176 children Killed by US Drones
    • The lack of mainstream media coverage of drones is critical as it can leave many American surprised and angry--and thus willing to support neocon-type legislative and military responses--when an anti-American terrorist act occurs. According to a September 2012 report by the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School and the Global Justice Clinic at New York University School of Law, “publicly available evidence that [drone] strikes have made the US safer overall is ambiguous at best. The strikes have certainly killed alleged combatants and disrupted armed actor networks. However, serious concerns about the efficacy and counter-productive nature of drone strikes have been raised. The number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low—estimated at just 2%. Furthermore, evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups, and motivated further violent attacks. As the New York Times has reported, ‘drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.’” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • European Human Rights Court finds CIA Guilty of Torture
  • Wagging the Dog in Gaza: Netanyahu's Skirmish of Fear (Sternfeld)
    • It is important to remember that Israel has a long record of exploiting pretexts to commence aggressive action. It is only later that the real causes of the aggression are determined (and integrated into mainstream accounts). Besides the obvious 1956 Suez War, where Israel conspired with France and Britain, consider the following two cases of Israeli invasions of Lebanon:

      (1) “Israel invaded Lebanon on June 5, 1982, following an eleven-month cease-fire with the PLO, which Israel claimed had been broken by the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom Shlomo Argov…It made little difference to the Israelis that the assassination had been carried out by a renegade Palestinian group led by the infamous Sabri al-Banna…, a blood foe of the PLO. The invasion gave Ariel Sharon, then the Israeli defense minister, carte blanche to pursue his own dream of destroying the PLO as a political force in the region [thus consolidating Israel’s hold of the Occupied Palestinian Territory] and putting in place a pliant government in Beirut that would become the second Arab state, after Egypt, to enter into a formal peace agreement with Israel.

      (2) “In leaked testimony to the Winograd Committee investigating Israel’s mismanagement of the summer 2006 Lebanon war, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert admitted that the war had been carefully planned at least four months ahead of time…Facts such as that Hezbollah fired no rockets into Israel until after Israel’s savage aerial attacks…had begun, or that Israel had left unresolved for years the bitter issues of Lebanese prisoners of war and the occupation of the Shebaa Farms region, only generate more questions when one considers how easily negotiations could have defused growing tensions.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Drone, Sanctions affecting Medicine, Intensify US-Iran Tensions
    • Is it generally agreed that if Europe acted with true independence (from the US on Middle East issues), the EU would not support harsh sanctions on Iran? Yet,if this is so, how do we explain the EU's contradictory stand on labelling products coming from the Occupied Palestinian Territory?
      For example, In May 2012, due to the illegality of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Denmark announced that it will begin marking Israeli goods originating in the West Bank "with a special label…In an interview [the] Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal said, ‘This is a step that clearly shows consumers that the products are produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also European governments, do not approve of. It will then be up to consumers whether they choose to buy the products or not.’ Sovndal added that the measure was part of EU support for the Palestinians and the solution of two states for two peoples.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Real Petraeus Issue was Evaluation of Afghanistan
    • Useful response, Susan. However, is the problem US-specific or inevitable due to the nature of an occupation? Can you point me to situations where the absence of American "cowboys" resulted in considerably more success with COIN?

    • Juan, would you agree that counter-insurgency has been a loser policy wherever it has been attempted?

      As Michael Hastings has reported: Afghanistan experts have been arguing that negotiations, not an increase in military operations, are the best way for the US to get out. "The simple and terrifying reality, forbidden from discussion in America, was that despite spending $600 billion a year on the military, despite having the best fighting force the world had ever known, [the US was] getting their asses kicked by illiterate peasants who made bombs out of manure and wood.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Why Bill O'Reilly is Wrong about Minorities 'Wanting Things" & the Election
    • CORRECTION: JUAN, PLEASE DON'T POST EARLIER COMMENT BY JABO POST THE FOLLOWING ONE:

      The following is to remind your readers of an honest (and entertaining)statement made during the 2012 Republican National Convention. At the Convention, “Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, commenting on the rising proportion of non-white voters, had this to say: ‘The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.’ Sen. Graham’s concern for Republicans is valid as Exit polls from 2008 showed that 90 percent of GOP voters were white, a homogeneity that has been consistent for more than 30 years, even as the percentage of the electorate that is white has fallen.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

      Part of the Fox News mandate has been to focus legitimate anger at the wrong targets.

  • Romney: "Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of Iran War" (Goulka)
    • It is important to know Romney's foreign policy advisors. It wasn't a surprise that Obama followed Bush's policies towards the big banks as Obama essentially had the same economic advisors as Bush. While I may object to various elements of Obama's foreign policy--such as his use of drones and his failure to pull out of Afghanistan--he has not been as destructive as Bush.

      With respect to the rationality of Iran's leaders mentioned in the article, it is useful to bear in mind the following 2004 quote by Martin van Creveld, former Distinguished professor of military history and strategy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem (and a conservative pundit): “Even if the Iranians are working on a bomb, Israel may not be their real concern. Iran is now surrounded by American forces on all sides — in the Central Asian republics to the north, Afghanistan to the east, the Gulf to the South and Iraq to the west…. Wherever U.S. forces go, nuclear weapons go with them or can be made to follow in short order. The world has witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy. Though Iran is ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, most commentators who are familiar with the country do not regard its government as irrational….[I]t was Saddam Hussein who attacked Iran, not the other way around; since then Iran has been no more aggressive than most countries are. For all their talk of opposition to Israel, Iran’s rulers are very unlikely to mount a nuclear attack on a country that is widely believed to have what it takes to wipe them off the map. Chemical or other attacks are also unlikely, given the meager results that may be expected and the retaliation that would almost certainly follow.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Iran still Suffers from the illegal Diplomatic Hostage-Taking of 1979 (Azad)
    • The significance of the hostage crisis is that it clearly showed the point at which Iran left the orbit of U.S. control. Since then Iran unlike, say, Saudi Arabia, acts independently and thus compromises U.S. power.
      "The conflict the US and Israel has with Iran springs from the exigencies of geopolitics rather than ideology: Iran’s age-old ambition to be recognized as a–or the–regional hegemon versus the determination of the U.S. and Israel to foil its ambition and preserve their regional preeminence. Many informed Israelis freely acknowledge this reality. For example, according to Eliezer Tsafrir, former head of Israeli intelligence in Iran and Iraq: 'However ideological and Islamic, everything Iran was doing was nationalistic, and even similar to the Shah'”.
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Brandeis U. Owes Jimmy Carter an Apology: Israelis agree they run Apartheid State, as Far Right Wing Coalition Emerges
    • While it isn't an Arab country, Iran's Jewish population of 25,000 could move to Israel--indeed it has been encouraged to do so by Israeli officials--yet it finds conditions in Iran just fine.

      -"It is one of the many paradoxes of the Islamic Republic of Iran that this anti-Israeli country supports by far the largest Jewish population of any Muslim country. After the 1979 Islamic revolution, thousands of Jews left for Israel, Western Europe or the U.S. fearing persecution. But Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s first post-revolutionary supreme leader, issued a fatwa upon his return from exile in Paris decreeing that Jews and other religious minorities were to be protected thus reducing the outflow of Iran’s Jews to a trickle."
      -"The Jewish community in Iran dates back over 2000 years, continues to run kosher shops, Hebrew schools and synagogues, and has guaranteed representation in parliament."
      link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Romney's Major Flip-Flops in the Third Debate
    • It would have taken uncommon journalistic courage for the following question to have been asked at the debate: Who 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.”

      -The answer: Madeleine Albright: U.S. Secretary of State, 1997 – 2001. link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

      -The American people are not fools. They know the US has worked against democracy in many instances in the Middle East. Having the answer to the above question widely known could possibly change the temperature on Iran and lead to positive results.

  • Top Ten Republican Myths about Obama and Iran
    • I am with Juan on this issue. Consider the following:
      -From 1985 until its withdrawal in 2000, Israel maintained its ‘security zone’ in southern Lebanon which comprised 10 per cent of all Lebanese territory and 6 percent of its people. The Israelis set up a 2,000-man South Lebanese Army (SLA) that was overwhelmingly Maronite-officered, and Israeli ‘advisers’ remained in the security zone to oversee it. “If the situation in the South quieted, as it did periodically, Israeli officials held up the zone as a success that could not be safely terminated. When the situation became hotter, the zone became a necessity. [Hezbollah officials reasonably argued] that, without effective…resistance…Israel would have little incentive to consider withdrawing…” (The Egyptians in 1973 and the Palestinians in 1987 came to the same conclusion.)
      -Israel’s general strategy in Lebanon from 1985 to 2000 was two-fold: “militarily to smash the guerillas themselves, their bases and their personnel; politically to persuade the Lebanese state and people, by punishing them too, to turn against Hizbullah, and then to make a final peace with Israel independently of Syria.” For an example of civilians being punished, consider Israel’s 1996 “Grapes of Wrath” campaign which caused “some 500,000” Lebanese to flee north. During the 16-day campaign “25,132 artillery rounds and 2,350 air sorties” resulted in killing only thirteen Hizbollah fighters. “Once again…it was Lebanese civilians who bore the brunt; 165 died, compared with not one Israeli, military or civilian.” link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  • Cole on PBS 'Need to Know'
    • Try to find some time to counter the neocon chickenhawks who have been hyping the Iran threat.

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