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Total number of comments: 201 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:41)

john caddidy

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  • The New York Times Criticized for Submitting to Israeli Censors
    • Can't share your outrage on this one. The "journalist" returns from a hostile state that's at war with Israel and the authorities detain him for interrogation. Nothing unreasonable about that. The NYT is complying with local law. Should they ignore the law, the paper would be vulnerable to sanctions. The fact that they waited a couple of days to publish - hardly a big deal.

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  • Obama White House Operatives Plumping for Hillary Clinton over Joe Biden (TYT)
    • Never understood the contempt and cold hatred some in the Democratic base have for her. Always thought Hillary would make a great president. I voted for Obama but he was my second choice.

  • Ukraine Crisis Shows Urgency of Green Energy: Russian Nat'l Gas Blackmail
    • Well, I don't think any reasonable person wants a rekindling of the Cold War. But Putin and the Russians violated international law and if this phony plebiscite over Crimea passes the rump legislature put together over there in the last week, it will mark another triumph of might makes right and the hell with international law. Yes, the Russians ARE the heavies in this drama. I think Obama's calibrated responses are proper and fitting. Nobody is talking about a military confrontation but the US and the rest of the international community is well within its rights to hit Moscow with economic sanctions.

  • The Crimean Crisis and the Middle East: Will Syria & Iran be the Winners?
    • If there's one benefit to this latest geopolitical crisis, it's that we've seen just how much of a propaganda tool RT really is for Putin's regime. They've surrendered any pretense of being a reputable news-gathering organization. link to buzzfeed.com

  • Not to Reason Why: A New Crimean "War"?
    • If there's to be a new Crimean War, it will be the fault of Czar Vladamir. They have already begun beating the drums:

      link to online.wsj.com

      Let's hope they don't act precipitately. Given Russia's history of imperialism and intervention in Eastern Europe, it's hard to have much faith.

  • Camel Bones and Jerusalem: Archeology Shows Bible written Late, Full of Errors
    • Look, no offense. You're free to believe what you want to believe. But I think the comedian Bill Maher makes a very good point about these assorted stories and everyone's tribalistic itch to proclaim "my team's better than your team" based on whatever special pipeline you believe your side has to the Almighty. If folks want to believe so deeply in fairy tales, that's their right. But it gets in the way of more mundane policy making and attempts to try and resolve what ought to be fairly straightforward territorial disputes.

    • I can't get as excited over this paper's publication as some of the folks posting here. The Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran -- you seriously want to believe in them literally? Yes, there are archeological sites which offer evidence to early Jebusite, Cananite and Jewish settlement in the land within the old British Mandate. It's clear enough that the evidence from the 3rd Century BC is sufficient for scholars to reach their own conclusions. But if you want to believe that some guy walked on water or that another guy flew on his horse from hundreds of miles away to Jerusalem and then ascended to heaven - ok, whatever suits you. But please, let's get away from this holy war nonsense. There's no way out of this to reach any kind of resolution. Papers like these and the polemics which inevitably follow are simply boring and take everyone off point.

  • La Follette's Anti-Imperialism is Still Controversial at the Wall Street Journal
    • And, of course, I mistakenly referred to Gould in the first reference in my above post. Obviously, I meant Crane.

    • Outside of the cat fight between writers, can someone address the substance of Gould's sentiments regarding Jews. Arguing on behalf of Louis Brandeis' candidacy for the Supreme Court isn't revealing one way or the other. Brandeis was a brilliant jurist and his appointment was a no-brainer. Tell us more about Crane and what he said and wrote on the topic.

  • Don't Break up Syria: WW I-Style Imperial Divide & Rule is a Failure
    • Sounds like an assumption in search of an argument. I haven't read about any major international push to orchestrate such a break-up. But the bigger question is whether the modern state called Syria is sufficiently organic to exist as a single polity. I express no opinion here as this ought to be the decision of the people who live there. But the ethnic fragmentation of what is an artificial entity cobbled together by colonial European powers is manifesting itself in the ugly bloodletting we see now. Would a breakup be worse? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Think about that.

  • Turkey Purges Officials in Bid to Quash Corruption Probes
  • Sunni-Shiite Tensions soar in Lebanon; Hizbullah accuses Saudis in Iran Embassy Bombing
    • "On top of all that, a Hizbullah military commander was assassinated on Tuesday. Hizbullah blamed Israel, this time."

      Typical.

  • US-Iran War Averted by Agreement to Negotiate on Nuclear Enrichment
    • Kerry deserves kudos for his hard work. Obviously, this is just a first step but it's an important first step. Bibi predictably is going bananas. But I think the real Israeli perspective is nicely summed up by this Haaretz analysis. Worth a close read:

      link to haaretz.com

      "Even from an Israeli perspective, it is actually a reasonable deal. Maybe even a good one."

      That's the clincher. All the rest is posturing.

  • Commemoration of Kristallnacht in Berlin
    • Oh please. For once, leave your politics in the bottom drawer and observe the solemnity of the moment, as per Juan's post.

  • France Crashes the Geneva Party, Scuttles Iran Deal
    • No, that's a very narrow reading of the issue. It's not unreasonable for the US, Israel, France - or any other state with an interest in the outcome of this negotiation - to voice deep concern about what Iran is doing with the Arak facility. This is a heavy water reactor and its byproducts could be used to build a plutonium nuclear bomb.

  • It wasn't Arafat who was Assassinated but the Palestinian People
    • "That the Likud government of Ariel Sharon in Israel was behind the assassination is not much in doubt."

      Actually, it is still in doubt. The Swiss report cannot offer evidence to support your conclusion. Also, Suha Arafat tonight told the BBC that she cannot pin the blame on Israel as Arafat had many enemies.

      More investigation is needed to reach a valid conclusion. All the rest is simply speculation.

  • Why the US needs Electric Cars: Saudi Arabia threatens Pivot away from US
    • We bought a Nissan Leaf, not a Volt a few months ago. Love it. Installed the charger in our garage and are in the midst of the process to install solar panels on our roof.

      Our one big complaint with the electric car is the range. Depending on what features we access, the maximum distance we can go on a single charge is 90 miles, give or take. That's good enough to tool around the city as a second car but the battery needs a lot more to turn EVs into a mass market item. Still, if you figure that the batteries will improve by 6% per annum - that's an estimate offered by Tesla -- the problem will ameliorate in coming years.

  • Why Israel's Plan to Bomb Iran is more Dangerous to Israel than Obama-Rouhani Diplomacy
    • Much ado about nothing. Israel pulled whatever levers it had available and pressured the international community -- and the US, particularly -- to squeeze Iran. We're seeing the fruits of that effort with the Rouhani-Obama talks. Don't believe the headlines because they don't even come close to the story. The IDF wasn't about to launch a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities. In the end, though, Israel may likely get what she wanted all along. If so, that would be a laurel Bibi can claim - though he won't.

  • Iranian President Rouhani acknowledges Holocaust as Crime against Jewish People
  • Iran's President Rouhani and the New Hopes for Diplomacy (Sternfeld)
  • Iran's Rouhani: Not Seeking the Bomb, Willing to show Flexibility
    • The most interesting part of this story is watching this play out on social media. The NYT had a good story up earlier about this. Starting with Rouhani's Rosh Hashana greeting -- can you ever imagine that knuckle dragger who preceded him in office doing that -- as well as his dismissal of holocaust revisionism. There's a clear opening here and Obama's been smart to reciprocate. Who knows? Maybe there'll be good news to report out of the MidEast sooner than we think. That would be a welcome change.

  • UN Report Conclusive Sarin used on wide Scale, Points to Syrian Regime
    • @McPhee: Not sure about your point. You're making light of a documented war crime. Bad form.

      The question now - as before -- is the US response. Juan, you suggested that Treasury now close off the financial spigots. But wouldn't that also entail cracking down further on Iran, which supplies the regime? What with the first glimpses of a rapprochment with the new leadership in Tehran, that makes the task that much harder.

      The Turks are running around with their hair on fire as Erdogan looks for a way to push his agenda (yesterday's shootdown of a Syrian chopper was telling.) But absent US-UN-NATO intervention in Syria, the likely scenario seems more fighting for the foresseable. How many more hundreds of thousands of Syrians will die - that's anyone's guess. But it's going to be a lot.

  • The World after the Kerry-Lavrov accord on Syria
    • Re: My final comments in above post. It was Reagan, not Gorby who often said "trust but verify." Still too early on Sunday to think straight.

    • My reaction in brief:

      1) Don't look a gift horse in the mouth: Defanging Assad and the Ba'ath by getting their stockpiles of non-conventional weapons makes this a better world.

      2) Sometimes it's better to be lucky than smart: Obama and the W.H. fumbled the ball a few times but they came out with a deal they can celebrate. Carrying out the provisions of the agreement in the midst of a civil war sounds like Mission Impossible, but let's see how this unfolds in coming weeks. If the deal results in the destruction of these foul weapons w/o bombing, that's a political plus for any administration. As much as Senators McCain & Graham might delight in yet another US-MidEast adventure, most Americans think we have better things to do.

      3) Yes, Putin is a bastard. So what?: Vlad got involved to rescue his client state, not to promote peace, love and justice. Whatever. Russia grabbed the opening left by Kerry's "seemingly" off-the-cuff remark (still waiting for the inside story about that.) If Russia's interests and America's coincide, why not work constructively.

      4) Republicans continue to inhabit a bizarro world: The other night Bill Maher had it right: If this wasn't President Blackenstein, the GOP would be hailing this deal from every mountaintop. Fact is that a good chuck of the GOP opposed Obama both when he seemed ready to launch cruise missiles and when he announced the accord.

      5) It ain't over till it's over: Assad is a liar and a tyrant. He'll do his best to exploit any lopphole to evade his responsibility to destroy his chemical weapons.
      As Gorbachev said on many an occasion, trust but verify.

  • Iraqi Government Rejects US Strike on Syria, Fears Civil War
    • I'd be interested in a future post by you exploring further the Sunni-Shis divide over Syria and its regional implications.

  • Invoking International Law Against Obama: Old Europe, New Europe and NeoCon Fail
    • Leaving aside the question whether a strike against Assad is legit or not, this much is clear: US foreign policy is paying a very heavy price for Bush's folly. How long this will hang over us - hard to say. But it's for now and the foreseeable future.

      Heckuva job, Georgie!

  • The Ghost of Iraq haunts Obama on Syria as British Parliament Defects
    • Everything has context. Bush's war and its aftermath has forever set the intelligence bar higher. Cameron, a mindless tool, overshot and got outmaneuvered. Hopefully, it won't be long before the electorate dumps him. Now Obama has to get Congressional approval. If he can't get the UN's backing - Russia and China remain obdurate -- it's up to him to enlist as many allies as possible. Even then, any attack will be viewed as illegitimate unless the Arab League switches gears.

      Which means we're back to square one. More diplomacy? Sure. Whatever. I'm all in favor of diplomatic ways to resolve the crisis but good luck with that. Edward Luttwak's piece the other day probably sums up the likely scenario for the foreseable future: More fighting ahead.

      Side comment: I don't know the right course but allowing a scummy tyrant to drop gas on people he doesn't like to get away with it is a scary harbinger.

  • Rush to Western Strike on Syria slows, but does not Stall
    • I think we can all agree that Assad is a brutal and horrid leader and his fellow Ba'ath acolytes are part of a scummy regime that we can only hope disappears soonest. But what if Assad and/or his higher-ups did not give the order to deploy chemical weapons against the rebels? What if the orders came from officers further down the military chain of command? Obviously, that's still reprehensible but it would also complicate the story and weaken the West's storyline.

      Let's hope our military takes the extra time to verify what's going on before letting the missiles fly. We've waited this long to act. I'm sure that we can wait a few days more.

  • Obama's Limited Options: Bombing Syria unlikely to be Effective
    • I don't like the idea of US intervention but I also dislike the smug nature of the comments on this board. Fact is that civilians are dying by the thousands - whether the result of chemical & biological weapons or just gut old gun shots to the head, knives to the privates or rifle butts to the head. And so what do we - we, as in THE WORLD - do about that?

      Nothing? OK, but then don't come whining three years from now when some do-gooder organization publishes the final body count of civilians massacred by this barbaric regime.

      It's a lousy situation and maybe we're just fated to watch the two sides bleed each other white. Another 30 Years War scenario, perhaps? No worries, there's the World Cup next year to look forward to.

      Human beings. What a disgrace.

  • Syria: Will Killing of Hundreds with Sarin Gas force Obama's Hand?
    • Let's be careful, very careful, about verifying this claim. If it pans out, then perhaps the Soviets, um, Russians might decide to participate in real sanctions. But let's be honest: The U.S. has no direct interest in Syria and we aren't going to send our boys into the midst of their civil war. Nor ought we.

  • Egypt's Revenge of the Leftovers: Mubarak to be released, Muslim Brotherhood leader Badie Arrested
    • "Neither bodes well for civil liberties in the Middle East in the coming decade, and the backlash from the religious right, which could well be pushed into actual, not just rhetorical, terrorism, could be extremely destabilizing."

      Yes, quite right.

      Obviously, this remains a fluid situation, both in Egypt and Tunesia. Meanwhile, Lebanon is on tenterhooks with Nasrallah threatening to import the war from Syria. So given the region's history of the last couple of years, however, is it still too soon to offer an interim judgment on the durability of the "Arab Spring?"

  • Has Military Suppression of Political Islam ever Worked?
    • I have a separate question. Since 1952, Egypt's military has exercised an outsized influence on the national stage. Yes, there were "civilian" administrations but dressing Nasser, Sadat & Mubarak in suits didn't turn them into democrats (small d.) As in Turkey, the military views itself as a national guardian, ready to leave the barracks when necessary. Is there any combination of circumstances in which that sort of influence and control disappears?

      As to the point of Juan's column, yes, the track record is clear about the failure of repression over the long term. Unfortunately, repression seems the order of the day. I doubt that the MB demonstrations will beat back the military, now or in the future.

  • It's not about Democracy: Top Ten Reasons Washington is Reluctant to cut off Egypt Aid
    • You need to do more serious reading and consideration of the region's history and politics. Cheap cynicism isn't worth much. As another poster here noted, read today's NYT piece (link is here: link to nytimes.com )

      The fact is that Israel and Egypt have not gone to war in four decades. Whatever your political bias, even you must admit that has been a huge benefit for everyone in the region. Or are you one of those armchair strategists who believe a return to violence and bloodshed without stop is preferable?

    • Um, sure. Bill, did you bother to read Juan's post in full or are you so steeped in conspiracy theory that other facts are irrelevant? Yeah, thought so.

  • Egypt's Waco
    • I'll offer another explanation. The Middle East is one region of the world where you can get away with murder. Literally. It's hardly a stretch to believe that the military took a gander at what Assad is doing in Syria and concluded that they, took, would face relatively little blowback if they decided it was time to settle scores with the Brotherhood. And they can always say - with justification - that returning Morsi to power would only lead to continuing bloodshed. So what's the solution? So far, I have not read anyone who has a persuasive idea about how to turn the page. By nature, I'm an optimist but there's nothing about the Egyptian situation which doesn't force me out of the pessimist's camp.

  • Egyptian Police Clear Brotherhood Sit-Ins, at cost of Scores of deaths, injuries
    • Obviously, a very sad situation for civilians - who always pay the heaviest price in this social explosions.

      From a 30,000 foot perspective, the (so-called) liberals in Egypt are now on the horns of the proverbial dilemma. They are all in, given their support of the military's ouster of Morsi. But how does the brutal measures taken by the security forces gibe with their "liberal" notions of civil society? They can't get off that tiger. And unless the Ikwahn backs down, this has all the makings of a fight to the death.

  • India, China Defy US Congress' War on Iranian Oil
    • The Libery? Seriously? Given how the lunatic fringe has seized upon what serious historians long ago explained as an accident, I doubt that you'd be persuaded by any evidence that it was not a Jewish-Israeli conspiracy to stifle the truth.

    • No, I don't believe Juan's blog is monochromatic. In fact, I enjoy his writing and agree with his POV most of the time. But I don't subscribe to the devil theory in history where well-connected plotters push their narrow agenda at the expense of the larger polity. Especially when it comes to US history. Israel long ago became the punching bag for left and right conspiracy-mongers. Things are a lot more complicated. What's more, the debate in Israel among policy elites shows far sharper divides about how to treat Iran than some here suggest.

    • Since the Iranian hostage crisis, several administrations - Republican and Democratic - have been at loggerheads with Iran. Pinning much - all? - of that on a pro-Israel cabal pulling the levers behind the scene is risible. Foreign policy formulation is hardly so monochromatic.

  • Top Ten Ways Bradley Manning Changed the World
    • " His leaks show that then Senator John Kerry pressed Israel to be open to returning the Golan Heights to Syria as part of a peace negotiation. This item suggests that Kerry might be more of an honest broker in the current negotiations than some observers give him credit for."

      Apropos of those always-present "some observers," I'm awfully tired of their cliche' sniping. Let's give Kerry some credit already. The peanut gallery has been on his case from the get-go. It's cheap cynicism and entirely unjustified. We're only at the start of his term. Give the man an opportunity before unloading the big guns against him.

  • Egyptian Backlash against Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi's Call for foreign Intervention in Egypt
  • Egypt: Elbaradei, al-Azhar, Leftist Youth Condemn Excessive Force
    • Here's the latest from Mohamed Ibrahim. I haven't laughed this hard since seeing my first Marx Brothers film:

      His officers “have never and will never shoot a bullet on any Egyptian.”

      Must have been Mossad.

  • Egyptian authorities release CCTV Footage of Muslim Brotherhood Attack on 6 October Bridge
    • And so the PR nonsense begins. He said, she said, etc. etc. and son on. At this point, who cares? The bloodshed is only getting started. The situation is fast spiraling out of control. Think Indonesia and the communist purge. All the ingredients of a rock em, sock em bloodletting are in play: The Ikwahn are fanatically convinced they possess the truth and won't back down. The military, now that its out of the barracks, will protect its privilege, has had enough. The worst is yet to come.

  • Egypt's Revocouption Part Deux: Dueling Crowds leave 30 Dead
    • And it will get worse. Egypt is a failed state in the making. They are paying the inevitable price for the corruption and incompetence of its various ruling classes in power since 1952.

  • Top Ten Things Anthony "Carlos Danger" Weiner has said that are worse than Sexting
    • Harsh comments here. Let's cut the brother a break. He's hardly evil incarnate and he worked hard on behalf of working people when he was in Congress. Some of you are so quick to turn and so hard. Who among you is so innocent, cast the first stone.

  • A Tale of Two Bombings: Libya too Weak, Egypt too Strong
    • True. But let's also examine the institutions which emerged in India over the course of the late 19th and 20th centuries compared with what transpired in Turkey during the same period. What was the Ottoman legacy compared to the British colonial legacy as it pertains to creating the conditions, however imperfectly, for representative government?

  • Remembering Syria: Homs 'Ghost Town' Under heavy Regime Bombardment
    • Was thinking much the same these last couple of weeks. Interesting how quickly our attention wanders - quick, did you see the latest about Justin Bieber?

      Sigh.

  • Egypt: Over 50 dead in Brotherhood-Army Clash; Baha-al-Din proposed PM; Thousands support Gov't
    • Not good. Not good at all. Last body count is over 40. The Egyptian military acted according to my low expectations. Poorly led, poorly trained, they hardly resemble the professional force one would assume after being supplied & trained by the US so handsomely. This massacre - and that's what it was - is a horror show. Where's the international outrage? Outside of some per-forma tut-tutting, the sound of (relative) silence is astonishing.

      The Islamists are poison for Egypt and everything needs to be done to help the people who are not fanatics. But this bloodshed is exactly what the religious radicals want. Why do these stories end up so badly?

  • Gil Scott-Heron Explains 'The Revolution will not be Televised'
  • Egypt: One Soldier Dead, 3 Wounded, as Muslim Brotherhood Clashes with Army, Secularists in Provinces
    • @Tahar: Fact is that Morsi was useless, but the point of democracies is that you wait until the next election and vote out useless leaders.

      Stepping back from the day-to-day and looking at the bigger picture, Egypt's outlook is bleak. The economy is a basket case and the socio-economic divide is as wide as it's ever been in recent memory. And there are ever more mouths to feed - and population growth is not likely to ebb given local tradition.

      A personal aside: I visited Cairo in 1980 and then in 2010. Whatever existed from the 'old Cairo' is long gone. Its charm now only exists in dusty photos with once charming green spaces replaced by concrete, buses, cars, roads and ugly cramped apartments. I doubt that situation has reversed in the last three years. Hot, crowded and filthy with an economy fast-approaching basket case status - and millions of dissatisfied citizens, to boot - does not inspire optimism about the future. Leaving the military in charge is not going to dramatically improve that dismal picture.

  • Fourth of July Comes a Day Early to Cairo after Fundamentalist President is Removed (video)
    • Much of the commentary here by the commenters is entirely misplaced. People, this isn't about America; it's about Egypt and the Egyptians. Save your pet conspiracy theories and biases for another day.

      Right now, the question is whether Egyptian civil society will be able to repair itself after the blows suffered over the last several years. I am not optimistic about Egypt's future but sometimes history surprises us pleasantly. We'll need to see how the Islamists respond. Will they resign themselves to the new status quo or will it be something along of the lines of Algeria, after the military takeover sparked a bloody civil war.

      Throw in an already fragile - and bloated - economy with an at best mediocre bureaucracy and I'd say the Egyptians have their work cut out for them.

      Ah well, maybe they'll take a page out of Turkey's AKP party and blame the Jews (link to thinkprogress.org)

  • Brazil Protests (In the Eye of the Storm Video)
    • Unfortunately, this is in large part the rotten legacy left over by Lula, who turned out to be a huge disappointment. My personal beef with Lula was his casual, almost blase' disregard of environmental issues, especially the ongoing clearing of the Amazon region to make room for agri-business. But these demonstrations are more immediately linked to the culture of corruption which only worsened during the PT's time in office. Dilma's a good woman but she's done little to reverse that trend. And corruption spells arrogance and leaves its mark on a society.

      The upshot: the rich live in gated communities and luxury high-rises and the rest have to deal with absurdly high street violence, poor social services and dirty and dangerous streets - I won't even mention the roads which are veritable parking lots. Just try and get from Garulhos airport to downtown on any given day. It's a joke. And just wait until the World Cup! There's no such thing as urban planning. In Sao Paulo, new buildings go up all the time but mass transit doesn't get a nickel. But that's OK because the contractors get rich and they pay off the preifetura and the other politicians whose palms need greasing.

      People have had enough. And so the explosion. I doubt this will lead to a lasting social movement, though who can really predict? But at least it sends a wake-up call to the political establishment. Now it's on them to draw the proper conclusions.

  • Egypt's Morsi Calls for No-Fly Zone over Syria: A step toward regional Sunni-Shiite War?
    • Nothing good can come of this.

      But here's my question: Is Morsi's statement just for show? Seems that only the US and NATO is capable of enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria. I don't suppose he's going to ask Israel to do the work :)

  • An Outbreak of Reasonableness in Tehran: Top Ten Conclusions from Iran's Early Election Returns
    • This is potentially very good news. I suppose we ought to assume that the State Department is reaching out through channels at this moment. Maybe even the Israelis? We'll see.

      My question has to do with Khamenei. How much will he allow to change and does the election alter the previous constellation of power?

    • Numbers still coming in but if he fails to get over 50% does Khamenei have the incentive - or confidence - to increase the level of support for a candidate more to his liking. Thinking back to 05 when Ahmadinejad received 19 percent but then took the second round with about 60 percent of the ballots

  • Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria
    • Well, I'm familiar with Hitchens' work and with all due respect, you're quite wrong. Hitchens was entertaining and a fine polemicist. But his political insights often turned out to be laughably wrong. There's no "good Hitchens - pre-Iraq" and "bad Hitchens - post Iraq." There's just Hitchens. Clinton's record is not perfect and deserves criticism for mistakes he made. But Hitchens anti-Clinton jihad reached the point of obsession, especially during the impeachment controversy. At that point, he became a caricature. If you look harder, there are any number of serious journalists & scholars who have written about the Clintons. Hitchens does not number among them.

    • I appreciate what Bill Clinton did for the country during his terms in office but this isn't our fight and we don't need to get involved in that quagmire. If the US wants to work through a larger coalition and let the Europeans more actively assist the rebels, fine. Assad's a horror and the sooner that he and his thuggish regime disappear, the better for all. But let's think twice and even three times about who we will be supporting and what sorts of people take over after the Ba'ath get pushed out. Syria is an artificial state, seething with bitter sectarian rivalries. And now Islamists from outside Syria are getting involved. In short, it's a mess that's only going to get worse.

  • Turkish Opinion Poll Finds Majorities Slam Erdogan policies on Alcohol, Syria
    • This image from the square, with a disabled man bravely prodding an armored vehicle with his crutches, resonates powerfully.

      link to instagram.com

    • And now the latest: Erdogan is hinting that foreign actor(s) may be behind the protests.

      link to hurriyetdailynews.com

      He's also quoted saying that the growth in per capita income has had made some “jealous.”

      The crisis has laid bare Erdogan's autocratic & thin-skinned approach toward governing. The Justice and Development Party considers itself special but its bet on unilateralism is historically not very different from previous regimes. It is on a collision course with history.

  • Syria needs a dozen S-300 batteries to protect itself - Russian general; Kerry Denounces Plan
    • The Russians like to boast about the technological capability of their weapons, but let's take this with a grain of salt. First, ss Janes has noted, what we're talking about is a collection of vehicles. You have a launcher, radar and a command and control vehicle. You need all of that working together. How long will it take Syrian ground personnel to master all that? What is their proficiency? Those are key questions.

      Also, the last time there was prolonged combat between Israel & Syria, the IDF blinded Syrian (Russian) defense systems, obliterating their systems on the first day of fighting. That was 1982. Israel is now a technological superpower with a high-tech industry that's leagues ahead of Russia's.

  • Egyptian-Ethiopian Conflict Spikes as Addis Ababa dams Blue Nile
    • Oh, Hugh. Really? Now Israel ought to somehow be held responsible for Ethiopian domestic policy? Sorry, but not this time. The broader question is connected to Egypt's self-inflicted misery as a result of managerial mismanagement, horrid pollution and waste of resources and - most importantly - spiraling population growth. It's the latter which will doom Egypt. Maturing societies generally see their population growth rates moderate. Let's see whether this trend makes a substantive difference in Egypt. The religious establishment generally opposes attempts at birth control so I am very pessimistic this situation will improve very much.

      If this were a stock market play, I'd be short Egypt.

  • The Coming Israeli-Russian War?
    • I don't understand why people are hyperventilating. A Russian-Israeli war is not at all in the cards. The Russians are sending a message to Europe & the U.S. not to interfere - and they're backing their words up with the (unwise) shipment of anti-aircraft weaponry in the form of S-300s to Damascus. Israel is keen to maintain its air advantage over Syria and is jawboning. But neither Israel nor Russia has any national interest in turning this into an armed conflict, despite the worst-case scenarios now being floated.

  • Israel at 65: Welcome to the Neighborhood (Map)
  • Eyeless in Gaza: When will Israel let its People Go?
    • Ahem, let's stick with the facts in the field. Olmert has not been Israel's PM for years. Your claim that the missile firings are a response to "Israeli abuses" makes little sense. There was a cease fire both sides agreed to. If there's ever to be a lasting resolution, then each side has to act like grown ups and control itself. Raining missiles on Israeli kibbutzim and moshavim because of the latest sense of grievance is a ridiculous excuse and only will lead to more escalation.

    • This misses the point entirely as the Israelis did not ignite the latest flareup. When rockets and mortars suddenly fall on your land, any nation has the right to respond. The Israeli response was proportionate.

  • Nuke'em: Russia's Plan to Nix Meteor Danger
    • Oh Lord, no. The last people I'd trust on this are the Russians. Nuclear bombs? Despite their early successes in space, they have an uneven track record when it comes to technical achievements.

  • Top Ten Ways Pope Francis heralds the Emergence of Global South
    • Brazil, a country I dearly love, is choking on its newly-found prosperity. The political class is more corrupt than ever, the poor - and they are desperately poor - continue to grow in numbers with little hope they can break out of a decades-long rut. Good luck to Dilma but she has her work ahead. Lula was pretty much of a disaster and most of Brazil's good economic fortune can be attributed to the reforms put in place by his predecessor, Henrique Cardosa. The same structural challenges which faced Brazil when he took office remain.

  • After Benedict: Religions have to Democratize if they are to Survive
    • Fat chance of that every happening.

      Organized religions are set up that way with self-perpetuating bureaucracies whose less-than-heavenly goal is to well, self-perpetuate.

  • "Argo" as Orientalism and why it Upsets Iranians
    • Nothing wrong in Juan's narrative but it's terribly besides the point. There's nothing "Orientalist" about the film, which is simply an action thriller pegged to an actual event which took place in Iran. Does the CIA get too much credit and do the Canadians and/or Brits get short shrift? Maybe but so what? It's a film.

      And whether the mob scenes are reflective of Iran circa 1979-80 is of borderline importance. Film makers and verisimilitude? When did that become the judging criteria we use? Something "based on a true story" isn't necessarily a true story. It's Hollywood, for Pete's sake.

      The fact is that a mob invaded the US Embassy and held American diplomats captive. A plan was devised to extricate them and happily, operatives got a handful out of that hell. If some of the regime's too tender feelings are disturbed for that portrayal, too damned bad.

  • Syria: Rebels take Aleppo Airport Road; NYT: Obama Nixed Clinton/Petraeus Plan to Arm Rebels
    • Good discussion in the Empire roundtable clip, though a couple of things left me annoyed.

      Bishara continually cut off people in mid-thought. Yes, I know the job of a good moderator is to move the conversation along but his repeated interruptions broke up what otherwise might have turned into interesting observations. He did it with each participant.

      Secondly, Stephen Starr came off like so many other self-styled experts, who live in a place for a few years, write a book and then get trotted out as experts. How he could sit there and smugly claim that Assad could remain in power even if Damascus came out to demand his ouster left me speechless. Someone - it may even have been Juan - correctly noted that we've heard similar declarations about previous regimes which were armed to the teeth. Didn't matter in Iran, the USSR, Romania, or Libya. Each situation is different. For Starr to argue otherwise reveals an astonishing blind spot.

  • Chuck Hagel Mauled in Bizarro World of US Senate
    • My fave' - as always - is the amazing Jeff Sessions. With all due respect to any of my southern brothers out there, but this putz is the poster boy for dumb, ignorant crackers. He's also a congenital liar. Let's turn back the clock to the Senate Judiciary hearings for Kagan & Sotomayor. He offered up and repeated specious arguments, saying he'd keep an open mind and judge the candidates by their answers. When they each answered the questions fairly , intelligently, and comprehensively, it mattered not. He voted like the petty poison political hack he is.

  • Russia slams Israeli bombing of Syria as Violation of UN Charter
    • Oh Al, with all due respect, give us a break, will you? There's no NATO encirclement of Russia. Rather, Putin's Russia is showing many of the paranoid - and rather nasty - traits of its Soviet predecessors. Despite the relentless evidence of one atrocity followed by the next, Moscow's support of Assad remains unstinting. Everyone can make their own call but I describe it as cynical and disgusting. If the Israelis or any other actor can further help destabilize the regime in Damascus, I say more power to them.

  • Egypt: Morsi invokes Emergency Law in 3 Cities, is Slammed by Opposition
    • Question for Juan:

      If the fighting escalates and things appear to get out of hand, where might the military side? Would it be more likely to side with the Brotherhood or the more secular-mindied opponents of the regime?

  • Jon Stewart on the Israeli Elections: 50% of Israel is "anti-Semitic" since they rebuked Netanyahu
    • Thanks for the Jon Stewart post, Juan. As always, he's great. @Mark Koroi, thanks for your reply in the earlier post regarding Begin, but your post remains inaccurate. While Begin was in overall charge of Irgun, he was not physically on the ground at the time of the attack. That was Benzion Cohen, who was the commander on the ground. It may be a nuanced distinction but it's an important one.

  • Netanyahu Emerges Weakened, But Most under Israeli Apartheid were Disenfranchised
    • @Mark Korori: You wrote in your post that Menachem Begin commanded the Irgun attack on De'ir Yassin. That's inaccurate. Benzion Cohen commanded the unit.

  • Bombings in Pakistan Kill over 100, as Shiites are Targeted
    • Question: Is the uptick in cross-border violence with India linked to the escalating sectarian fighting in Pakistan? Finding a foreign scapegoat to take peoples' minds off a domestic mess perhaps?

  • Egyptian Left/Liberals Confront Pres. Morsi with Rallies, Demos in 8 Provinces
    • The Arab Spring lives in Cairo's streets and Morsi won't be able to snuff it out, whatever his authoritarian penchants. Maybe he'll win support for the power grab from the Ikhwan, but that's not the a majority.

  • Top Ten Steps that are Necessary for Lasting Gaza-Israel Peace (or, Good Luck!)
    • My reply above to "MyComment" applies to you as well. Israel is not a "war crime." That's so deep into the darkness that it doesn't even deserve a response.

    • Surely you don't seriously believe that, do you? If so, then get ready for lots more bloodshed. And yes, there is a way to get their rights: Stop all violence immediately, renounce a rancid, racist charter which demonizes Jews and open full negotiations with Israel on a final status agreement for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank & Gaza. That's the only way out of this mess. Sorry but Israel's not going to allow its citizens to serve as punching bags for someone claiming "grievances." Violence only leads to violence. I can't believe that I actually have to belabor the obvious here.

    • Juan,

      You ought to have included in your list the obvious requirement that the Palestinians stop shooting missiles across the border into Israel. The US press didn't bother until this latest flareup in violence but the missile launches against Israeli cities have been going on for months. That sort of blatant terror must cease.

  • Top Ten Wish List Progressives should Press on President Obama
    • Yes, yes, and yes.

      I doubt very much he'll move as aggressively as you suggest. But any movement in that direction would be greatly welcome.

      If the slow improvement in the economy continues, that would give him more political leeway to tackle some of these other issues. Job growth remains his top priority; once capital stops its strike and private investment gets going, that would free Obama up to pursue a more progressive agenda. Otherwise, the wingnuts on Fox will hammer him hard.

  • Egypt President condemns Israeli Air Raids on Gaza
    • For fairness' sake, it sure would have been nice to hear Morsi also say something about the idiots in Gaza who decided that it was fine & dandy to fire close to 90 projectiles at Israeli civilians between Tuesday and Wednesday.

  • Some blame Syria's al-Assad for Bombing in Christian Beirut that Kills Top Lebanese Security Official
    • Juan,

      You forgot to add Syria's rubout of Bashir Gemayal in 1982 to your list. These guys are brutal thugs and they don't have an hesitation to act like the Corleone crew when it comes to protecting what they see as their interests. Hard to see how Lakhdar Brahimi will be able to succeed where Kofi Annan couldn't.

  • Air Massacre in Maaret al-Numan, Syria as Fighting Intensifies
    • And it's spreading into Lebanon - fast. Check out this: link to reuters.com Payback against Wissam al-Hassan. Clearly, Syria and its Hezbollah allies are the obvious suspects.

  • Colbert Report: Obama's Ottoman Conspiracy
    • Missed this one but OMG, is this unbelievably funny or what? Also unbelievably pathetic. Do his constituents know how dumb Louie G really is? Monica Crowley & Hannity who appear in the clip - OK, they're paid shills and it is what it is. But Gohmert is involved in passing legislation and the guy is simply dumb, stupid, a mar-oooon.

  • President Obama's Speech to the UN General Assembly
  • Muslims are no Different, or why Bill Maher's blood libel is Bigotry
    • not voting for obama? oh, that's brilliant. then here's to mitt and the GOP. you think things will be oh so much better under the republicans? think again. it's like the runup to bush v gore. we can thank all the precious perfectionists who threw away their votes on nader. anyone not happy with what we did in iraq? too bad; you helped put that crowd into power by not voting for gore. now some want to repeat that mistake with obama.

      amateurs.

    • kathleen,

      c'mon, get real.

      you can criticize maher if you disagree with his political statements. but your repeated references to his "judaism" - his "precious judaism" was the winner - strike me as rancid racism. first off, he was brought up catholic and had no knowledge of his mother's ethnicity until he was an adult. but that's an aside. attacking jews as jews simply is despicable, no matter how you try and dress it up as part of some enlightened political critique of us mideast policy.

  • Romney Poses, as Militants Burn Benghazi Consulate, killing Ambassador, 3 staffers, & Demonstrate in Cairo, over Islamophobic Film
    • Regarding the myriad allegations about the backer's ethnic & religious affiliation, a caution not to judge before all the facts are in.

      Already, there are questions about who this guy really is (See link to theatlanticwire.com and link to nytimes.com

      What we do know is the involvement of Terry Jones and Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-American Copt. To be continued.

  • Science Fictional Despair in Deraa, Syria (Photo)
  • Was the Rachel Corrie Verdict the end of Israel's Judicial Credibility? (Marlowe)
    • I feel enormous empathy for the Corrie family but Marlowe's journalistic treatment of the story - and particularly its sensationalist headline - is utterly misleading. She doesn't address the evidence submitted to the court by the two sides or the nature of civil jurisprudence in Israel. You may not like a particular court decision but it's flat wrong to blame a losing argument on political bias in the domestic court system. Israeli civilian courts have ruled for and against the sides and they are fiercely independent and professional.

  • What Cable News didn't Tell You: The Non-Aligned Movement Meeting Strengthened Iran's Hand vs. US, Israel (Azad)
    • Azad is engaging in wishful thinking with his suggestion that we ought to downplay Morsi's criticism of Syria. Iran is obviously quite concerned and stands to suffer a major strategic defeat if Assad falls. He can spin it however he likes but aligning with the regime is going to cost Iran and its client Hezbollah dearly.

  • Islamic Shariah & Todd Akin/ Paul Ryan on Abortion & Legitimate Rape
    • Akin's comments are woefully ignorant but there's a bigger problem the views of a particular evangelical. How is it that folks cut from the same cloth manage to win positions of political power - in increasingly large numbers - in the last three decades? Fact is that there is a huge number of deeply conservative/borderline reactionary Americans infused with a fundamentalist understanding of Christianity. I don't know that the Democrats have any idea how to deal with this cohort.

      Change comes slowly and it will take quite a while before these folks stop sending hard right-wingers to Congress.

  • Putin, Pussy Riot, Hooliganism and the Syrian Bloodbath
    • Ugh. That's a very backward-thinking - and IMHO silly - way to judge Putin. There's a very valid reason to explain suspicion of Putin: The man is a nasty authoritarian who has a cracked down on domestic dissent. Not much to admire there, pal.

  • Syria and the New Great Divide in the Greater Middle East
    • A request: At some future point, can you riff on the likelihood of the country fragmenting into Alawite-Christian and Sunni sub-states - as well as the implications of any such fragmentation.

  • Syria: The Battle for Aleppo Begins as Rebels Retreat
    • Obviously, it's going to be a protracted struggle. Even if it gets pushed out of its strongholds within Aleppo, the resistance can still melt into the general population. Assad's mukhabarrat will find it harder this time to root out the opposition.

  • White Terrorism at Oak Creek: The Paranoid Style in American Violence
  • Top Ten Most Distasteful things about Romney Trip to Israel
  • Syrian Baath Escalates, Uses Jets to Bomb Aleppo
    • Meanwhile, the world finally gets official confirmation that this horrid regime has been stockpiling sarin nerve agents, mustard gas and cyanide, as per Jihad Makdissi's statement earlier this week. In the past, they denied they were doing anything of the sort. It's now clear to even the most devoted apologists that Damascus lied about this - as it lied about plans to develop a nuclear capacity. As bad as the current situation, just think how much worse it would be if this band of Baathist murderers also had their mitts on a nuke.

  • Top Ten Implications of the Damascus Bombing
    • I'd like to propose a different scenario in No. 8. Nasrallah has identified so strongly with Bashar's murderous regime that the damage to future Syria-Hizbullah relations are likely to be far more than temporary. Memories in the region are long and whomever takes over in Damascus will not forget Hizbullah's betrayal of the Syrian masses. We'll see how long Hizbullah can function as an alternate-state/military power inside Lebanon once its chief source of arms dries up. Hizbullah is not Lebanon and the other confessional sects would like to see its power cut down to size. That would be all for the good of the state.

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