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  • If N. Korea is the Threat, Why is all the War Talk about a Weak Iran?
    • These two adjacent articles point up a curious parallel: Israel is to the US what North Korea is to China!

      * Both have Israel and North Korea have governments driven by insane ideologies.
      * Both states may trap their sponsors into wars that the sponsors don’t want.
      * Both countries would rapidly collapse if not for the support of their sponsors.
      * The logic of these relationships is incomprehensible to outside observers.
      * Both have brutally oppressive governments.
      * Under normal circumstances you would expect that the sponsor state would dictate to the client state, but here the roles seem oddly reversed.
      * Such situations end eventually, but they both seem to be headed for an especially bad ending.
      * Israel has an excellent PR (public relations) machine in the US. The North Koreans must have an equally effective PR (private relations) machine where it matters: the Chinese leadership.
      * Both sponsor states seem trapped in these situations for largely historic reasons while the current situation has changed enormously.
      * These relationships are very costly to the sponsor nation and provide almost no benefit.

  • Eyeless in Gaza: When will Israel let its People Go?
    • There will never be "a Palestinian Gandhi". The Israelis know that such a person is far more dangerous to the Jewish State than a thousand terrorists. The terrorists are self-defeating and Israel will slaughter them. The Israeli PR machine will manufacture another “Israel as Victim” story and the US will cheer them on and supply more money and weapons. It is a reoccurring theme.

      A Palestinian Gandhi would destroy all that. The idea of the Jewish State would be at risk. Such a threat must be dealt with early before they can gain any stature. Israeli death squads are very efficient. They travel the Palestinian territories and the wider world and do their dirty work. They are even glorified in a movie; “Munich”.

      A Palestinian Gandhi would be the end of Israel. He must be stopped at any cost!

    • "right to respond"? No you don't! Oppressed people have the right to resist. Oppressors do not have the right to oppress.

      This logic may make the Israelis feel somehow justified. Perhaps they need it to sleep at night, but it will not bring them peace.

      If Israelis want peace then treat the Palestinians as you would have Israelis treated. Turn Israel into a country of equal rights. Turn it into a civil society.

  • Instead of offering to Buy East Jerusalem, the Arab League should invite Israel to Join It
    • I always cringe when I hear the term "viable Palestinian state". Surely you must know the meaning of the euphuism "viable" in this context? The Palestinians and Arabs surely do.

      Will such a Palestinian state have free and open borders with all its Arab neighbors? Will it be allowed to have an army able to stand eye to eye with the IDF to protect it from Israeli incursions? Of course you know the answers to those questions, everyone else does.

      There will be no viable Palestinian state because Israel will not allow it no matter what they say or treaties they sign. The only solution to this problem is to fix Israel. A country that denies its minority population basic human rights will never have peace. Let us not lose sight of that ugly fact in pursuit of gimmicks that we think (hope) will work.

  • Kerry Cajoles Afghanistan and Iraq, as Bush's former colonies decline to Toe the Line
    • I like to speculate about alternate history. What if the US instead of hanging Saddam had rather proposed this deal: if you follow orders from the US and Israel you can continue as you had before. Oppress your people, live a grand lifestyle but you must answer the phone when the boss calls.

      This is the "right" way to run colonies. Get a good strong leader from the local population and give him free reign as long as he knows who the real boss is. The British had this system working very well.

      Today we would be told that Iraq is a shining example of democracy in the Middle East. George Bush would be hailed as a genius of foreign policy. Cheney and the neocons would be planning their next masterstroke.

  • Israeli Right: Obama Undermined Netanyahu, Endangers Israel with Call for Palestinian State
    • They don't want a two state solution, neither should we! The policy of the US toward Israel should be to help them transition to a country of equal rights! We will not need to argue over borders, water rights, or any of those impossibly contentious issues. All problems get collapsed into one. Let us focus on that one issue, equal rights.

  • What we Lost: Top Ten Ways the Iraq War Harmed the US
    • Concerning #4: the “Two State Solution” is no solution; we should stop talking about it. Even if it came to pass it will leave an unreformed Israel with 20% of its population as second class citizens. Whatever happened to “all men are created equal and all are endowed by their Creators with certain inalienable rights”? Is “transfer” going to “solve” that problem?

      It will have two Palestinian Bantustans under Israel’s thumb. This is not peace because it is not reform. Anything less than an Israel based on equal rights just continues the struggle against oppression.

      Many on our side are persuaded by the argument, “the Israelis will never accept …” If we had listened to that logic in America we would still have segregation. We do have the power to convince them. We need to make them see that security comes through equality and civil society and not brutality and oppression. Let us, on the left, not be complicit in this continuing horror.

    • You are, in general, absolutely correct. However I see the same events from a different perspective. That is: times are changing.

      The era of American domination of the Middle East is drawing to a close. This is not so much America’s doing as the Arab/Islamic awakening. Is America any less competent at running Middle Eastern monarchies and dictators now than we were in the 50’s and 60’s? I would argue not.

      Is Israel’s interest in keeping compliant Arab governments in power any different today than it was back then? Israel’s power to shape American foreign policy in the Middle East may be stronger today than half century ago but there has never has been much separation between the two. We both want corrupt compliant Arab governments; we want cheap oil, the Israelis want to prevent competent organized resistance.

      This is nothing but history repeating, or rhyming with, itself. The British Empire followed the same trajectory. Were the British any less competent in running their empire in its waning days as they were at its peak a century earlier? We should learn from the British and the French, Belgians, Spanish. Etc. That is, the waning days of empire are pretty grim and should be concluded as rapidly as possible.

      At least the British got great uniforms out of their Empire. They have turned the trappings of empire into wonderful spectacles of pageantry. Go see the Horse Guards parade, Empire on display! The British have turned the wreckage of Empire into a very profitable tourist attraction. I doubt that we will be so lucky!

  • Top Ten Ways Pope Francis heralds the Emergence of Global South
    • A small nit to pick; this north vs. south division is not very useful. Most of Africa is in the north! India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines are all in the north.

      Perhaps the old dividing lines specified by "the first world", "the second world", and "the third world" are more useful here. The third world is coming on strong. The second world is transforming. The first world looks tired!

  • Everybody Leaks in Washington: What the Bradley Manning Trial Tells us about a Broken System (Schanzer)
    • This is an excellent analysis of the Bradley Manning situation. I do have a few comments;

      Bradley Manning is a hero, perhaps not a First Amendment hero, but a hero nevertheless for forcing the necessary discussions contained in this article.

      It is probably unreasonable to expect that any reformed Freedom of Information Act could solve the problem of openness in government in any permanent way. Those desiring maximum secrecy will always find a way. We do need a periodic “shock to the system” such as the Manning leaks provide if for no other reason than to re-examine how the system is working.

      In a time of war, even the fake adventures that we are now engaged in, access to information gets clamped down. “War” makes some policies seem necessary that would be rejected out of hand in times of peace. One weapon or war is lies, perhaps necessarily so. These lies are corrosive to democracy. Manning is a hero for openness and truth.

      Manning did break the law, as did Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame, and should be punished. A couple of years in prison seems reasonable. But he is also a hero of convictions and his convictions are shared by many.

  • Obama & Brennan Brought GOP Filibuster on themselves by Extreme Secrecy on Drones
    • Over the past decade the Pentagon has always reported on the state of the war as “we are making steady progress but it is reversible”. The Pentagon has blown their credibility. Does anyone believe the Pentagon? We, the American public, need an antidote to the war happy talk. We need a source of information that does not have an iron in the fire. We need an independent source of intelligence. That should be the CIA.

      However the CIA seems to be operating as a secret army. They run drones, black ops, and God knows what else. They have become operational rather than an unbiased gatherer of information. This of course makes their information suspect as well.

      You might remember that before the Iraq war the CIA issued a report suggesting that the Iraqis did not have weapons of mass destructions. Well, the Bush administration soon fixed that. There would be no more reports questioning the need for war from the CIA.

      Now that the CIA is “operational” and with damaged credibility is there anything Brennan can do? I am not so sure. I think that we need a full investigation of the CIA like the Church Committee after the Vietnam war. We need to return the CIA to being a CIA.

  • Mission Accomplished: Iraq as America's biggest Blunder (Van Buren)
    • We may have caused it but it was coming anyway!

      Ever since I lived in the Middle East in the 1970's, I have closely followed events over there. Before 9/11 I would read analyses who would discuss the situation in one country or another. They generally concluded their article with a statement to the effect that the situation was untenable and was bound to blow up. Obviously their conclusion was naive, the situation continued on the same year after year. This was not unlike the analysts who had predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union and had been doing it for decades.

      Did we break things? Yes, of course, but they were going to blow apart anyway. We just hurried them along.

  • Austerity and the threat to Democracy, in the US, Europe and the Middle East
    • A bad as the sequester is, there is a silver lining. The sequester is forcing a cut in the Defense Department budget. Already the deployment of another aircraft carrier to the Middle East has been postponed. They no longer talk of staying in Afghanistan forever. Perhaps the sequester will force a more rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan. Hopefully there will be no war with Iran if, for no other reason, we can't afford it.

      This has caused a curious split in the Republicans. The fiscally responsible Republicans have split from the warhead Republicans. I much prefer the former to the later.

      Sometimes the worst of times forces you to do things that you should have done anyway. That is, unfortunately, human nature.

  • Hagel Confirmed, but Bloodied by American Nationalists Seeking Wars & World Dominance
    • I always wondered about the finance of empire on the national level. I would assume that in the early days, an empire can be enormously profitable to a nation’s coffers. The empire, as a whole, runs in the black. The people at the top become enormously rich.

      Often empires are built through manipulation, trickery and back stabbing and not through massive overt force. This is very cost effective at the national level. You rule the locals by creating an army of locals, put them in fancy uniforms and appoint a viceroy to oversee the operation. This worked very well for the British in India and Africa. The British probably learned it all from the Ottomans.

      Then, as time goes on, the empire requires more force to maintain. The locals begin to recognize the game and become non-cooperative. They no longer love the British monarch quite like the British do. They really do not want to fight for “Queen and Empire”. The seeds of collapse have been sown.

      Maintaining the status quo begins to require more force and the locals are unreliable. The force must be applied from the home country. But force is expensive and the national balance sheet slides into the red. Eventually the creditors come calling and the empire collapses. Think of the British Empire or the Ottoman Empire, called “the sick man of Europe” in its dying days.

      It seems that we are on the back side of empire. After WWII we ruled the Middle East through various puppets and other manipulations. No viceroys for us, we believe in democracy! However this does not affect the finances of empire. In the early days it was enormously profitable. Now that the puppets are falling and control can only be maintained by American forces the balance sheet of empire has slid far into the red.

      We should act like hard nosed business men and shut it down before it bankrupts us all.

  • "Argo" as Orientalism and why it Upsets Iranians
    • Perhaps you are right. I wonder if the initial "data dump" explaining the US involvement in bringing the Shah to power might be a revelation to most Americans. Even that small history lesson might be useful.

  • Bad Precedent: Obama's Drone Doctrine is Nixon's Cambodia Doctrine (Dietrich)
    • The ever squishy “American Interests”! American interests in the Middle East include propping up monarchies in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states, thuggish regimes in Mubarak Egypt and Israel or any government that the US finds useful. These are all American interests and warrant a violent American response if threatened.

      Of course people trying to overthrow these oppressive regimes become “Unlawful Enemy Combatants”. People denouncing oppressive governments and advocating their replacement become “Unlawful Enemy Combatants”. People supporting such “Unlawful Enemy Combatants” such as taxi drivers, family members, neighbors, etc, also become “Unlawful Enemy Combatants”.

      War creates a moral swamp where such logic starts to make sense. We not only need to fight such logic we also need to end the war.

  • On How Americans are being Gouged and Made more Unequal by the Internet Monopolies (Moyers Video Interview)
    • Whatever happened to the notion of regulated monopoly and the idea of a natural monopoly? It used to be that AT&T was one. We had an excellent phone system with universal coverage. Rates were set by public utility commissions. AT&T was allowed to supply dial tone but no services beyond that.

      Today many power companies operate under such a system; a regulated utility that owns the distribution network with rates controlled by the government. The power generation part of the system operates in a competitive environment. This system seems to work well.

      The internet should be structured the same way. A regulated utility would own the fiber with rates set by the government. The utility would not be allowed to provide content i.e. the web, phone service, and video.

      Such a structure works well and has a long history in America. It is time to apply it to the internet.

  • Top Ten Surprises of the Brennan Hearing on CIA Torture and Drones
    • For some time these wars have devolved into body count wars. The notion of who actually is the enemy is getting ever more vague. Any notion of victory has long since evaporated. Strategy, what strategy? When will it be over? God knows.

      The purpose of the drones is to make the war safer for us. We can ramp up the ratio of them killed to us killed. If we can’t win then we can at least make it more efficient!

  • Lawmakers Threaten Brooklyn College for Event on Boycott of Israel over Settlements (Democracy Now!)
    • In talking with ardent Israeli supporters I have often had them say; “If only the Palestinians would protest peacefully they would be more successful”. “If only they would stop bombing busses and firing rockets then we could reach a peace agreement”.

      Now when the Palestinians are gaining some success with peaceful approaches, (honest discussion of Israel, successful votes in the UN) they want to shut them down. Israelis and their supporters know that an honest discussion of Israel in America is more damaging to Israel’s legitimacy and ultimate survivability than all those rockets. That is why there is such a panicked reaction. The fact that they are getting exactly what they asked for is quite irrelevant.

  • Top Five Objections to the White House's Drone Killing Memo
    • This illustrates the risk that waging war has for a democracy. During war there are few constraints of what a president can do. That is probably necessary in a time of emergency. As long as the emergency is limited in time, the legal excesses can be reigned back in after the emergency passes. That is why “emergency decrees” are so popular with dictators.

      The only way this system works is if the wars are limited in time. Terrible damage to the US legal system was done during WWII and previous wars but after the wars ended things returned to normal. This war at 10+ years is causing damage at an ever increasing rate. One wonders if the damage can be undone.

      You illustrate the problem; an ever widening war in geography, an ever vaguer idea of who the combatants are, and no notion of what victory is. Of course this is all covered with ever mode vague “laws” and secret “laws” too! This is clearly a downward spiral. The only way to stop it is to end the war which will then break the logic that drives us ever downward.

    • You make the statement: “Al-Qaeda consists of criminals, not soldiers…”. They are (mostly) not criminals. They are insurgents or revolutionaries; they are fighting for a cause. After 10+ years of fighting this war we can’t even acknowledge this fact. The thousands of fighters that fight for Al-Qaeda are not doing it to get rich! They have joined a cause and will likely pay a terrible price. And yet they still come. We should probably ask why.

      Now, of course, there is more than one component to their “cause”. Some fight to drive out foreign domination. Some fight for the spread of Islam. Some fight for their tribe. Some fight for glory. Of course some fight for money. Killing these people is not a particularly effective way of defeating their cause. Defeating their cause is the only way to stop the steady stream of recruits. Ultimately, that is the only way to win.

      Curiously, we do not want to examine their “cause” too closely. Some elements sound too close to things that we might fight for. Fighting for independence or fighting oppression sounds good to us. Examining their cause might make us examine our “cause”. We must not do that: no. no. no.

      Other facets of their cause are not going to happen so we needn’t worry about them. Some in Al-Qaeda fight for an extreme form of Islam. This is not going to happen. The best people to fight that battle are other Moslems who mostly reject extreme beliefs. This little different battle that we face in the US with our home grown Christian extremists. That is to say, that it is an on-going battle of ideas and sometimes violence. In the Islamic world, it is Moslems that understand this battle, we are clueless.

      To dismiss Al-Qaeda as just criminals short circuits any attempt at understanding this war. It makes us think of it as a war of weapons and not a war of ideas. That makes it a war without end. It need not be so.

  • Paranoia Strikes Deep: A Cowering America still Haunted by Bin Laden's Ghost (Engelhardt)
    • War breeds paranoia. Paranoia makes you do stupid and insane things. In WWII think of the internment of Japanese Americans on the basis of no evidence. In WWI we hounded German Americans. In the Cold War we hounded those suspected of “Communist tendencies”. War is like that. When those wars ended the paranoia subsided. No one worries about communists hiding under your bed anymore.

      You might forgive the WWII generation for their excesses; they faced a real enemy, an enemy that was indeed capable of defeating the US. Today the paranoia is so great because the stakes are so small. Even if the worst terrorist attack that the delusional security establishment can imagine actually occurs, the US will not be defeated. It will be terrible blow but the US will still stand. Something quite unlike what we faced in WWII or even the Cold War.

      I hope that when we are out of Afghanistan the war fever will subside and with it the paranoia. I am sure that during WWII Americans wondered if the world could ever be normal again. I grew up in the “duck and cover” era and am still amazed that the Soviet Union crumbled without a major war. That is not how we thought it would end back then.

      Call me an optimist but I think that this too will pass, if only because we can’t afford it.

  • Malala Yousafzai nominated for Nobel Peace Prize, Starts Foundation for Girls' Education
    • It is a stark contrast between these two adjacent stories. There is the story of Malala through whose efforts, and many others like her, may lead to the defeat of religious extremism.

      Then there is the story of the American drone campaign which serves to legitimize the religious extremists by showing that they are the most effective force at driving out foreign domination. They are the ones willing to spill their own blood for independence.

      Which force is more powerful? I don’t know. I know who I am rooting for.

  • Obama Closing the Office that Had been charged with closing Guantanamo Bay (Colbert Report)
    • We need to give Guantanamo Bay back to the Cubans. It will remain an eternal temptation to do something wrong. For America, Guantanamo Bay is the same thing as the guy trying to give up smoking but who keeps a pack of cigarettes hidden away. As a country, we are not mature enough to deal with that temptation.

  • Why the Senate should Confirm Chuck Hagel as SecDef
    • Israel knows that it must eliminate any reasonable and not co-opted Palestinian negotiators. Israel is happy to negotiate with Abbas. He can be strung along, paid off, and made to dance to whatever tune is called by Israel and the US. Abbas gets to be called “responsible” and a “partner for peace”. Even when he is called “not a partner for peace” it does not matter, it is all part of the show.

      What really scares Israel is something else: Israel knows that the rise of a Palestinian Mandela would be far more dangerous than even the most effective terrorist. A Palestinian terrorist will never get sympathetic hearing on the world stage. A Palestinian Mandela would. Anyway, Israel can do terrorism far better than any Palestinian. Negotiating an honest peace with Israel is probably more dangerous than firing missiles into Israel.

      A Palestinian Mandela could change the whole game. Israel’s few remaining supporters would start running. Even America, in due time, would have to follow along. That is why any Palestinian that does not conform to Israel’s idea of a “fair” peace ends up lost in Israel’s gulag or dead.

  • UN to look into US Drone Program, but the Biggest Victim is Democracy
    • Almost all revolutionaries are non-state actors; the current vogue term is “Unlawful Enemy Combatants”. The American Revolution was fought by non-state actors against the British Empire using non-conventional tactics. The American Revolution was fought mostly (see John Paul Jones in the Irish sea) on American soil.

      That we cannot come up with a reasonable definition of who we are fighting is an indication of our befuddlement.

      Let’s call them revolutionaries fighting in their homeland (mostly) to end foreign domination. They are fighting against empire just like we did. We have no problem defining the players in the American Revolutionary Way, why are so befuddled about who the players are in this war.

    • It is called the end of empire! It is pretty ugly but has happened before. There are lots of precedents. What ended the British Empire? Terrorism. Look at Kenya, or Malaysia. What happened to the French Empire? Look at the final days in Algeria. The Belgians did not have a happy end in the Congo.

      How did all this terrorism end? The answer should be obvious: the end of empire.

      How will all this terrorism against American “interests” end? It will end with the end of the American Empire! More subtly, the terrorism will end when our interests are brought into closer alignment with those of the local people rather than American business interests or Israeli interests.

      You tip your prejudice with the comment “I don’t see any better way of managing things”. The Middle East is not ours to manage. They are fighting against our management. Their weapon is terrorism. That is the weapon of the weak against the strong. We don’t like it because it works. Of course what we do to them cannot be defined as terrorism, oh no! It is called “management”.

  • Netanyahu Emerges Weakened, But Most under Israeli Apartheid were Disenfranchised
    • You have given your most powerful argument yet against the "two state solution". It is a sham, a sop thrown to liberals to distract them from the true nature of Israel and its government. Until we fix Israel there can be no peace. The two state solution is just a way for Israel to get rid of its unwanted population while leaving Israel unreformed.

  • Obama's Inaugural and the Danger of an Iran War
    • Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni monarchy. Sunnis’ are a minority in Bahrain, Shiites are the majority. When the Shiites rebelled a short time ago they were accused of being a cat’s paw for Iran. They were brutally suppressed by the monarchy with help of the Saudi military. The US said little and probably approved the operation. Our base remains secure for the time being.

    • Curious, what do thousands of staff do at the US embassy
      in Bagdad? That sounds like a lot more than just
      processing visa applications.

  • Was Aaron Swartz a Cyber-Criminal or a Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Internet? (Thompson)
    • That is the standard misconception about non-profit corporations; it
      is true that they do not have shareholders expecting a
      good return on their investment. But it is also true that
      they often have handsomely paid executives that are very
      competitive in protecting their domain. In that they
      are no different than regular corporations.

      You might remember the scandals at United Way a few
      years back. Those at the top lived very well. There are
      non-profits that have volunteer staff but I doubt that
      JSTOR is one of them.

      I am hardly surprised that JSTOR vigorously protects
      their slice of their "market". However, what they
      do can be done by other internet entities. This was
      not true in the past but is certainly true now. They
      may do an admirable job but the business model has
      changed. What they do has been replicated on the
      internet for free in other areas. They are like a library
      but they think that they own the knowledge in the books.

    • Perhaps the notion of "dirty hands" should apply here. Those organizations claiming "we were wronged!" are hardly innocent. The activities that drew these protests should be looked at.

      It is also true that the only weapon available to protesters is something of a scatter gun. The lone person who has access to information exposing wrongdoing rarely has the resources, time or ability to carefully craft the information he releases.

      Bradley Manning could hardly have filtered the enormous quantity of information that he released. To his and Wikileaks credit they seem to done the best possible job given constraints they had. The US government, in its wars in the Middle East, clearly has dirty hands.

      Aaron Swartz in his protest against monetizing publicly funded research results probably had no other way of publicizing the issue. JSTOR does not care about who actually "owns" the information, they just want their profit stream to continue. Dirty hands again.

      When PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard cut off payments to Wikileaks they were engaging in a political act. They are rather hypocritical is complaining about a political DDoS attack. Did they violate their own “terms of service”? Dirty hands? Of course a DDoS attack is a scatter gun attack but what else would have gotten their attention?

      Stratfor is one of those dirty little organizations that the darker parts of the US government seem to find useful. More dirty hands hit by a scatter gun.

      It is time that we take the notion of dirty hands into account before we throw the book at people who protest the handy work of those with dirty hands.

  • Top Ten Surprises of the Obama-Karzai Meet on Afghanistan's Future
    • The GreatGamers know that the stakes are higher than just the defeat in Afghanistan. After the defeat there and Iraq and the failure to subdue Iran we are on the downward slope in the Middle East. Remember we did not just lose in Vietnam but not long after we lost our military bases the Philippines. So the loss was all of Southeast Asia, not just Vietnam, as a military sphere of influence. Once the ball starts to roll it is hard to stop.

      The same thing is progressing in the Middle East. Defeats in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran will be followed by the loss of our base in Bahrain and quasi bases in Saudi Arabia. The GreatGamers want to stop this progression anyway they can. They know that Israel is also on that list.

      This one fact prevents them from even thinking rationally about it. At least in SE Asia they could do a cost – benefit analysis and come to a rational decision. People on our side become insane when even thinking about the ramifications relating to our “special relationship”.

      I suspect that the end game of this Great Game will be a good bit uglier than it was in SE Asia.

    • We do learn these lessons. You might remember that after Vietnam no American politician would even imply sending American troops overseas. That national revulsion of war lasted for a decade and then slowly dissipated until it was gone.

      We do learn but then we forget, unfortunately!

  • UN Security Council Condemns Further Israeli Squatting on Palestinian Land, with Rogue State US Vetoing
    • Would you be so comfortable with the current situation if it were Jews that were being oppressed?

    • Why do we continue to talk as if the "Two State Solution" is somehow a solution or a path to peace? It is not and is an easily proved fallacy.

      A little thought experiment will suffice: assume that the Two State Solution worked! The West Bank and Gaza are separate from Israel and do not represent any threat to Israel. Problem solved! Israel is at peace! Right?

      No, of course not, Israel would remain a country that denies equal rights to its religious and ethnic minorities. Israel would remain a brutally repressive country for Moslems while situated in the middle of the Islamic world. The struggle against oppression will continue. It will never gain “acceptance” as the Israelis are always claiming to desire.

      Nor should it be granted acceptance; there is no place in this world for such an ethnically and religiously purified country. All peoples and particularly Jews are safest in a world that accepts ethnic and religious diversity. An un-reformed Israel should be anathema to all.

  • What Happens in Langley Doesn't Stay in Langley Anymore: How our Spies Came out of the Shadows (Engelhardt)
    • Our panic and paranoia are so great because the stakes are so small. During the cold war we had an opponent who wanted to, and was plausibly capable of, taking over the world. The threat was real!

      Today we are in a panic over some guys blowing themselves up to get us out of their countries. Britain and the Soviet Union lost their empires and survived. We too will survive the loss of our empire if our secret government does not destroy us in the process.

  • Israel's Apartheid Deepens (Cole at Truthdig)
    • Israel could put all these accusations of apartheid to rest by making the new housing open to all; Jews and Palestinians! (Not holding my breath on that one.)

  • President Obama needs to get us Out of Iran, too-- not Just Iraq (Escobar)
    • Perhaps a more likely darker outcome will result at least in the short term:

      The US withdraws under fire in Afghanistan as did the Russians: an undisputed loss, unlike Iraq which can be argued about. In time, Bahrain explodes and the US base becomes untenable. Other client governments fall.

      Domestically we start a "who lost Afghanistan", "who lost the Middle East", and a "who is throwing Israel under the bus" argument. The American public becomes sick of any discussion of the Middle East. We pull out.

      As a result, terrorism against the US subsides. We are no longer the bad guy. We become energy self-sufficient through conservation and domestic drilling. We are spectators as the continuing instability in the Middle East becomes the problem of China, India, and Russia.

      In a generation, we begin to create respectful relations with the new governments in the region, a la Vietnam. The Middle East is transformed, it is nobody’s playground. Israel accepts its minorities and becomes a country of equal rights and is at peace.

      Not a bad future to look forward to even if it is painful between now and then.

  • Palestinian Legal strategy against Israel: The Real Prize is Europe
  • Israeli Reaction to UN Vote: Politicians Burn Palestinian Flag, Pundits fear International Criminal Court
    • I wonder if some Israelis are getting a nagging feeling that it is all coming apart. That the enormous facade of a moral and righteous Israel is just a house of cards that is in the process of crumbling. Notice that no one talks about Israel as a light unto the notions any more.

      Perhaps this realization will bring them to a realistic peace based on equal rights. Surely some Israelis must realize that Israel is a country that oppresses Arabs while situated in the middle of the Arab world and that such a country will never have peace no matter the delusions that they build for themselves.

  • Egypt Polarized as 200,000 Tahrir demonstrators and Crowds in other Cities protest Morsi's "Temporary Dictatorship"
    • Curious, are the people in the "dark basement" and upstairs happy with the Arab Spring? Has it impacted negatively the old arrangement of compliant dictators, monarchs, and thuggish regimes? Do you think that those in the dark basement might be working to bring back the old happy days?

      When the Arab Spring started Washington did not seem all that pleased. Why is that?

    • What might be the secret US interest be here? Ignore the happy talk about democracy. In that dark basement in Washington where the dirty work is planed, what do they want?

      Could it be that they want Morsi to be become a dictator like Mubarak? As a dictator he becomes more dependent on the military and hence more compliant to US wishes. As a true democratic leader the US would not be first among his constituents. Can we allow that?

  • RT's Abby Martin Accuses Israel of War Crimes for Targetting Journalists
  • Top Ten Steps that are Necessary for Lasting Gaza-Israel Peace (or, Good Luck!)
    • Do the Palestinians have a peaceful venue for venting their grievances? Can they march on the Knesset and be heard? Can they peacefully march in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for equal rights? Or are they forced into violence?

    • This is a good starting point; Hamas should accept Jews in Israel and Israel should accept Palestinians in Israel. No cleansing of either population.

      You have another good point about holy books. The Palestinians should stop quoting the Quran in support of their crimes and Israel should stop quoting the Bible in support of theirs.

      There is one biblical quote that we all should follow: do unto others as you would have done unto yourself.

      If Israel started talking about becoming a country of equal rights all other problems would be well on their way to being solved.

    • It does little good to condemn Israel for doing bad things in the hopes of stopping Israel from doing bad things. Israel has gotten away with it in the past will continue to get away with it in the future.

      Rather, let’s ask what drives Israel to do these things and why they think that it is OK to do them. In essence, let’s discuss the moral issue. Israelis like to think of themselves as a moral people. Why is that?

      The answer is in the founding ideology of Israel; Zionism, the idea that Israel should be a purely Jewish state. Zionists will not compromise on this goal. They may occasionally work some strategic compromise but their end point remains the same. They may accept one step back in order to gain two steps forward. It is a strategy that has worked brilliantly. They see no reason to change.

      It is Zionism that must be defeated. The idea of creating an ethnically pure state should be anathema to everyone especially Jews. For much of history it is this thinking that was used to target Jews. Now the Palestinians are the victims.

      The fact that those in the peace camp talk about "moderating" Israel is only playing into their strategy. It is accepting the Israeli world view. This is what we must reject. We rejected that type of thinking when Segregation and Apartheid were defeated. Let us reject the same thinking when it emanates from Israel. As long as Zionism rules Israel there can be no peace.

  • Morsi Emerges as Key Power Broker in Gaza Conflict
    • "seems rather stupid" aptly describes US foreign policy in the Middle East.

      With Israel attacking Arabs, would it not be difficult for the Egyptian military to act against Morsi and not be accused of being in the pocket of the US and Israel? Would the Egyptian population stand for a military coup given the current situation?

  • Could a Gaza Land War lose the Middle East for America?
    • One thing that I do not see discussed is at what point does Hezbollah enter the war. What would happen if they unleash their missiles? What is the relationship between Hezbollah and Hamas? Can Israel fight a 2 front war?

  • Blaming Gen. Petraeus for the Wrong Mistakes: Remembering Afghanistan (Cook)
    • Petraeus was a windbag and a stuffed uniform, more a politician than a military leader. Now that he has popped, all this flapping around is an impressive thing to see.

      Why would the author think that unleashing the military would be successful? Was that not the Soviet strategy in Afghanistan? How well did it work for them? The choices are: kill lots of people and see if they are subdued or try to win their hearts and minds and see if they are subdued. Both have been tried and failed. Does the author have any other strategy to try?

  • Iran Sanctions may be 'Crippling,' but they are not 'Working' (Cher)
    • The US should pursue a policy of convincing the Iranians that they do not need nuclear weapons rather than convincing them that they desperately need them, which is the result of current US policy. Sanctions and threats of military attack would convince any country that they need the most powerful weapons that they can get for their defense.

      We should change tactics if we want a good outcome. This can be accomplished thusly;
      1) The US should guarantee that Iran will not be attacked by the US or Israel.
      2) The US should begin talks on a nuclear free Middle East.

      When we crank down the threats, Iran will feel less threatened. I would have hoped that would have been obvious.

  • Top Ten Myths about Israeli Attack on Gaza
    • They are supposed to agree to second class rights in Israel? Isn't that asking a bit much?

      If Jews are entitled to a "Jewish State" does that mean other countries can declare themselves Christian states and treat Jews the way Israel treats the Palestinians? Isn't that the history of Jews in Christian Europe? Do you really want to give validity to that argument?

      Jews are most secure in countries that have equal rights. Israel is the prime example of the opposite: i.e. no equal rights and Jews are insecure.

    • Proof yet again (as if we needed it) that the Two State Solution is a ruse. Can you imagine a "viable" Palestinian state next to Israel? Ponder the true meaning of the word "viable" in this context.

      Let us, those on the side of peace and human rights, not be fooled by those on the Israeli left that a Palestinian state is the solution. One wonders how different is the Israeli left from the Israeli right? Their enlightened position seems to be "oppression lite", i.e. more humane oppression, not equal rights.

      The solution is to re-make Israel: one state with equal rights. End the idea of a state where one type of people are on top and the rest are ground into the dirt on the bottom. The terms "Jewish State" and "Jewish Democracy" should be recognized for what they are.

  • The Arab Reading of the Petraeus/Allen Affair: Jill Kelley is Gilberte Khawam, a Lebanese
    • I am a little concerned with those on the left who say that since the affair was not illegal that those at the top should not be removed. He broke the rules and should have been fired.

      The obvious reason is the vulnerability to blackmail. If you are not going to enforce this for the top guy how can you enforce it for the rest of the organization? How would the CIA or military operate if many members were being blackmailed? This is the mark of rot in an organization and should be cut out.

      Petraeus should have been fired for this.

  • The Tesla S and World Peace: Can American Green Energy End the Gulf Oil Wars?
    • This is very good and something that we should do but: the US will not get out of middle eastern wars until we fix Israel. As things turn worse for Israel they will be sure to make their wars into our wars. Israel is a country that brutally oppresses its minorities; it will never have peace until that ugly problem is fixed.

  • On Malala Day, Pakistani Girls chant "I am Malala"
    • Washington should watch closely: this is how the Taliban will be defeated, not through military attacks and assassinations. It is simply the people rising up and demanding change.

      Of course that is not what Washington wants to have happen because the people are also rising up and demanding other changes. These are not good days for invaders, dictators, monarchs, or Israelis.

  • Real Petraeus Issue was Evaluation of Afghanistan
    • By "wide ranging" I mean across the Islamic world. I quite understand that the numbers have been small compared the populations involved, hundreds of millions. My point was that people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, to the horn of Africa (who next?) do not know when death from the sky will hit them. Terror on an enormous scale.

      Of course your statement: "The degree of angst and attention focused on the targeted air strikes is completely out of proportion to their scope and significance" applies to us Americans. We are not (yet) in the crosshairs of this horror. We are quite comfortably numb.

    • You are too kind to Petraeus. Petraeus was always more the politician than a military leader. You must remember him on the news answering the "how is the war going" question. His answer was always; it is going well but send more troops. The press always lapped that up yet it was a clear indication of failure.

      A general should always report the facts to the public or stay silent. Leave the lies to the politicians.

      More broadly, as a military strategist he was a failure. Remember his widely touted counter insurgency manual. Mostly simple stuff like; don't shoot the civilians. It was the plan for the hearts and minds campaign. How did it work out? Was there any chance that we, the foreign invader, were going to convince the local population that we were the good guy?

      Further, isn't the current wide ranging assassination plan a complete repudiation of the hearts and mind strategy? Did we want Petraeus in charge of the CIA, the implementer of this death from the air campaign?

      There should be no admiration for Petraeus. At least McChrystal spoke the truth on occasion with his assessments of the war. If only Petraeus had been so honest.

  • America's Coming Space Wars (McCoy)
    • It seems that we have crossed the point where are weapons have become smarter than the leaders that use them.

  • How US Drone Assassinations all Began (Woods)
    • "Unlawful Enemy Combatants" I love it! They are Afghans fighting a foreign invader. How, pray tell, did they become "Unlawful Enemy Combatants"? Bonus question: who gets to decide who is an "Unlawful Enemy Combatant"?

      Another great one, "matrix for determining" sounds like war by spread sheet. No wonder we are losing, we don't even know why we are fighting.

      How about this; isn't a militant just someone who thinks militant thoughts or says militant things. He is not necessarily a combatant. Do we kill people for thought crimes now?

      Hasn't the rationale for this war become quite insane?

    • How did the CIA morph from an intelligence gathering organization to being a secret army of assassins and torturers?

      I read somewhere that during the Cold War, not a single KGB or CIA officer was assassinated by the other side. Each side realized that their opponent was equally capable of an assassination campaign so they chose to not cross that boundary. Of course third parties were not protected by that covenant.

      As an intelligence organization you collect as much information about your opponent as possible, carefully sift and assemble what you have, and get the best possible picture of the facts. It takes a lot of brain power and carful work to produce a useful result. It also produces a deep understanding of the other guy. We operated this way for half a century.

      Now things are much easier. Someone says that someone might be a militant so you assassinate him. No need for brain power there!

      The old way was hard and did not always produce pleasing results, it did however avoid WWIII. The new way produces pleasing amounts of blood, but for some reason we are not winning. We are told that this will have to go on for a long time and then we might “win”.

      The most important thing gained from the old way was the understanding of your opponent. Now we quite deliberately do not attempt to understand our opponents. We never ask: why are they fighting? The only answer that we might hear is: because they are terrorists. A comforting non-answer.

      What if we understood them better? What if we realized that they are fighting to be free of foreign domination? What is their cause was entirely logical and reasonable? What would happen to our rationale for these wars?

      Best not go there, best stick with: they are fighting because they are terrorists!

  • Big Brother is looking for a Cyber-Attack Pretext to Crack Down (Greenberg)
    • Part of the solution to this is encrypt all communications; encrypted email, https everywhere, encrypted phone calls, and TOR where needed. Of course the government does not want this; then they couldn't spy on us. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. They want the same "features" (flaws) that the attackers depend on!

  • A Post-Mortem on Muslim Rage: What did the reaction to the Islamophobic Trailer Really Tell Us? (Abootalebi)
    • That the West's understanding of the Islamic world is shallow is hardly surprising. It is quite deliberate and has been longstanding. It serves those who's "interests" have become America's "interests". It also serves the supporters of Israel. How many times have we heard "They never have accepted Israel" asked as a serious question? As if those oppressed by Israel must accept their oppression.

      I doubt that this will change. More likely we will withdraw from the Middle East while grumbling about their ingratitude after all that we have done for them. This outcome will be good for us and for them.

      It has taken 20 -30 years for us to come to a more nuanced understanding of the Vietnam war; its history and our part in it. Likely it will take that long for us to gain such an understanding of the Middle East; but first we must go.

  • The Pentagon's Imperial Overstretch and Victory Culture (Engelhardt)
    • Empire does not feel so great; virtual strip searches at the airport, government surveillance, high taxes to fund the wars, broken legal system if you are brown, degraded democracy, etc. But then perhaps these are the benefits of empire. I liked it the old way!

  • Romney's Five Wars
    • We need to stop thinking that the "two state solution" will solve anything. An Israel that discriminates against its minorities will never be at peace. This is true no matter what happens in the occupied territories. The term "Jewish State" describes the problem; a country with one type of people on top. Israel must become a country where all people are treated equally. There is no other path to peace.

  • Top Seven Errors President Obama has made on the Middle East
    • Did the British efforts matter? Is Malaya part of the British Empire? It was a victory without consequence. Did the French victory in Algeria matter? Algeria and Malaya like Kenya were going to get independence anyway, the British Empire was through. The French Empire was through. The British fought to preserve empire, not for colonial independence. There is a famous Winston Churchill quote: "I have not become the Kings First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire." The British were living in the past.

    • Surely the Israelis are dictating US policy on Syria. What do they want? Do they view Assad as the best of all possible (bad) outcomes?

  • Tom Ricks and The Generals: Why the US succeeded in WWII but not Since
    • I am struck by the way American generals present themselves on American TV. They are constantly complaining about IEDs, green on blue attacks, or some other insurgent tactic. They seem quite annoyed that the Iraqis and Afghans are not playing the game right: “they should stand up and fight!” (Don’t they teach history at West Point?)

      When each new strategy is announced; "take and hold", "government in a box", "train them so they can take over" anyone (even me) can come up with an effective counter strategy. It is as if these guys cannot think how each new strategy will play out. It is as if the new strategy is conditioned on what will sound good back home.

      American generals act like they are children playing at war. They get frustrated when these “backward people” prove that they are smarter and more dedicated than we are.

      I worry that the enormous size of the American military has engendered complacency at the top. You do not need to be smart if you have enormous fire power. It also causes you to see fire power as the solution to every problem.

      A wise and courageous military leader would recognize the current situation in Afghanistan and the wider Middle East as un-winnable and recommend withdrawal. A thoughtful leader realizes that you don’t win them all. I don't think that such wisdom will be coming from any American general or political leader anytime soon.

  • Alice Walker: Palestinians face Oppression Much worse than Jim Crow of Old South
    • The difference is that America enables Israel's persecution of the Palestinians. It would stop immediately if America embargoed Israel in the way that we finally embargoed Apartheid South Africa. If we simply announced that American policy is to help Israel become a country of equal rights, the oppression would soon end.

  • It's Psychological Warfare, Stupid: Why Netanyahu Really wants to Destroy Iran
    • I wonder if Netanyahu is playing the endgame in a battle that he knows is lost, desperately shooting for a near impossible victory. Israel was no doubt pleased with America's invasion of Iraq. However they must be horrified by our defeat there. They would have no reason to doubt that an American war on Iran would also end in another messy defeat.

      Why would Israel want America to suffer another defeat in the Middle East? Surely that would expedite our exit from the region. Why would they want to risk such a thing?

      The only logical explanation is the reason a drowning man grasps at anything that might float. Israel is left with few, mostly bad, choices for the future. As America begins to see through Israeli propaganda, the Israelis find themselves in a race for time. When America finely sees the reality of Israel and the cost we incur in supporting Israel we will begin to re-think Israel. At that point Israel is done. That was the fate of Apartheid South Africa.

      But, what to do? An American war with Iran is not likely to come out well. But, those long odds are the best odds of any other choices for Israel. So, for Israel, war is the best policy!

  • Demonizing Muslims and the New McCarthyism (Bacevich)
    • I think Andrew J. Bacevich nails it. The question becomes where do we go from here? Do we press on until the ultimate defeat or do we realize that we are on the wrong side of history and pack it in?

      I suspect that we will do like we and others have done in the past. It took a miserable defeat in Vietnam to change American policy in South East Asia. We then went through a period of self pity, i.e. "Those miserable Vietnamese, look at what we sacrificed for them". We are beginning to hear that same talk about the Islamic world.

      Of course we will leave, either in a miserable manner or through a sudden blaze of enlightenment, but we are on our way out. We will likely go through a period of self pity yet again. Then, after perhaps a generation, we can have respectful relations. It is sad to have to watch the cycle repeat. Why does Santayana have to be right?

  • President Obama's Speech to the UN General Assembly
    • It seems that the speech was of two opposing parts; an American foreign policy of ideals and the dirty actual policy. If he had just stopped before he mentioned the "Jewish state of Israel" the speech would have been something that we could be proud of. We should not support any state dedicated to the supremacy of one group over another.

      He should not condemn countries that we dislike for doing the same things that our "best friend in the region" does. Few will miss the hypocrisy of that!

      It is unfortunate that he missed a chance to signal a change in American policy. Rather, the world is going to get more of the same. Perhaps he is attempting to get the same reception that his Cairo speech got. The cheers that speech got will not likely be repeated. The hopes that speech created were soon dashed. The shards of that dashed hope cannot be reassembled.

  • Muslims are no Different, or why Bill Maher's blood libel is Bigotry
    • Be careful with surveys of oppressed people, you may not understand their priorities. For example; it you had surveyed African Americans in 1950 about their concerns. It is likely that lynching and fair treatment under the law would be their top issues. Well down on the list would be voting rights. At the bottom of the list would be sitting at the back of the bus and separate lunch counters. Sitting at the back of the bus doesn’t count for much if you might be lynched at the next bus stop.

      The genius of martin Luther King was in realizing that they were all the same thing. White people might have said that we will fix the worst excesses of segregation and thereby save segregation. King knew segregation cannot be fixed and must not be saved but rather it must be eliminated.

      We are recycling these same arguments with the “two state solution” which is just separate but equal by another name. Do most Palestinians want the two state solution? Sure, if it means an end of Israeli oppression in the occupied territory. They also want and end to oppression within Israel and they want to go home.

      The only solution is to fix Israel. Israel must become a country of equal rights. We must not accept separate but equal now anymore than we did back them. We must not see ghettoizing the problem as the solution. We hear people say “the Israel will never accept equal rights”; clearly an echo from our past. Our past civil rights struggles should be a guide to Israel’s future.

  • Fury Unbound: the Muslim Dilemma (Majid)
    • I have a little trouble with these types of comments that are in essence; "Why can't you be more like us?" The speaker seems to forget that once we were like "them". We became like "us" after much blood.

      But are we not like them, right? Do we react violently after some insult or incident? Try to make a joke about lynching to African Americans. Do they laugh? Does some incident in America spark a violent reaction all out of proportion to the provocation? Consider the Rodney King incident and the LA riot of 1992. Perhaps, under the veneer, we are not so different.

      Incidents like we are witnessing arise out of un-healed wounds. We are not yet over the legacy of segregation. Likewise in the Middle East we have 60 years of bad blood to overcome. We have not yet begun heal this wound, indeed we are still stabbing at it.

      When we are gone from the Middle East and they have come to their own accommodation with their own history then the healing can begin. Only then can we have respectful relations. I hope this process can begin soon.

  • Why they Hate us: Romney Secretly Plots to Screw Palestinians over Again
    • We on the left need to stop talking about the "two state solution" as well! Is the solution to get rid of the Palestinians? Is shoving them off into a desert ghetto acceptable to us? We should know that a "Palestinian State" next to an un-reformed Israel will be no different to what they have now.

      Israel is a country that brutally oppresses its Palestinian minority. That is the essential problem to be solved. It will not have peace until it becomes a country of equal rights. Let us not be party to any scheme that attempts to finesse the problem. We do the Israelis no favors by playing along. It is only we that will be fooled, the struggle will go on.

  • Netanyahu in 1992: Iran close to having nuclear bomb
    • Another factor; with America's announced "pivot toward Asia", Israel probably feels the need to pin us down in the Middle East with another war. Clearly American dominance of events is waning. We can not longer keep a series of compliant puppets in power the way that we used to, the cost is getting too great.

      How much longer can the Saudi's and Jordan hang on? When will our military base in Bahrain become untenable? We are not being defeated; but rather we are unable to manage the chaos.

      The Israeli's can surely see this trend. The only strategy for them is to stir the pot ever more vigorously. More threats, more war! But in the end it will all collapse. Let’s hope we can at least manage the end game with a reasonable exit. But first we need to recognize that the end game is upon us.

  • Mitt Romney's coming War on Iran: A Tale of Two Conventions
    • That "one Iranian bomb" does change things; it constrains Israel and the US. That is not a bad thing.

      Currently the US or Israel could attack Iran and not have much worry about the consequences. The US would be embroiled in another un-winnable war but that is OK. No elites die in such adventures. And, there are profits to be made!

      If Israel attacked they would probably take some hits. However the Israelis don't seem to care about their own deaths so long as they kill more of the others. They will pobably cry a lot and expect us to join in.

      One Iranian bomb changes that whole equation. Even without a launch vehicle, that bomb will disappear after an attack. Where will it re-appear? That is the question.
      Even insane policy makers can understand that!

    • It is clear that US foreign policy in the Middle East collapsing. This is not a bad thing; it was a bad policy. We seem to have come to the point where war is answer to all foreign policy dilemmas.

      Do you see any new thinking in Washington in this regard? Any adjustment for this new reality? Will we move past seeing everything through the Israeli lens?

  • South Africa: Label West Bank Squatter Products; Israel: You Apartheid State!
    • We need to stop making the distinction between Israel "proper" and the West Bank. What Israel is doing in the West Bank is what was done in Israel itself: driving Palestinians out of their homes to make way for the "Jewish State". It has been a consistent policy since before 1948.

      The solution is not to accept the results of this policy but to fix Israel. Israel as a country with one people on top and the others at the botton. We should reject that. Such a country will never have peace. Let us advocate for a solution and not be party to the problem.

  • Mr. Romney, Here's why Your Tax Returns Matter
    • Perhaps both are right! Romney did pay more than 13% taxes. He may also have paid $0 taxes. After all 13% of 0 is 0.

  • Ayatollah Cameron Threatens to invade Ecuador Embassy re: Assange (or, Whitewashing Iran for the US National Security State)
    • Bravo Ecuador!

      Wars, the US proping up thugish regimes, Israeli oppression, US government paranoia; when will it all end?

  • Chinese telecoms giants are taking over the world. Should we be scared? (McClenaghan)
    • There are two worrying sides to this; spying and the remote kill switch. Two different things.

      The spying can be countered (imperfectly) by using encryption and shadow networks like Tor.

      On the kill switch; isn't the US government looking into that for American networks? Perhaps it is already there. The solution seems to be (imperfectly again) open source code and hardware.

  • US Drone Strikes Undermining Pakistan Democracy (Woods)
    • You may be right about the sorry state of Pakistani democracy but that is not for us to fix. The decision for us is; do the drone strikes make the environment for Pakistani democracy better or worse? The answer to that should be obvious.

      Just like Pakistani democracy is not for us to fix so to is the Pakistani security forces not ours to fix. Of course we can trash both as is current policy.

      It is our mind set of "we can fix them" that is the real problem.

  • Dear Mr. Romney: Palestinians are Poor Because You Stole from them and Kept them Stateless
    • I say thank you Mitt Romney! Perhaps his ignorant
      comments have sparked an honest discussion in America
      about the true situation of the Palestinians under Israeli
      oppression.

      Mitt Romney's ignorance is hardly unique, it probably
      rpresents the view of most Americans. This long overdue
      discussion should dispel some of that ignorance.
      Or maybe not!

  • Tripoli, Libya: Martyr's Square (Photo)
    • I have a question about the women in the picture. I lived in Tripoli in 1975 for about 1 year. At that time adult women wore a white cloth over the head that extended to the ground and they held it so that only one eye was showing. It was not tailored to form, just a sheet. That is how almost all Libyan adult women appeared in public. It was called a baracan (phonetic spelling). Western women in reasonably modest western clothes were not bothered, i.e. no head scarfs.

      School aged girls wore school uniforms much like the students at Catholic girls schools did in America but with the addition of long pants under the dresses.

      The women in the picture would have been scandalous to the Libyans of 1975. Has their society changed that much? Is it because of the revolution or just natural change over the 35 years?

  • The Three Lies Michele Bachmann Tells about American Muslims (Saunders)
    • History’s echo;

      "It’s not the “Muslim tide” that is creating extremism, but rather the political beliefs of a few middle-class loners."

      Was it not the comfortable middle class that spawned the Communist insurgencies of the past? Che Guevara was a medical student. Lenin was a law student. Mao attended college and was a school head master.

    • I have a problem with the expression "Islamic terrorist". Do we say Christian terrorist or Jewish terrorist when it is factually true? They are terrorists who happen to be Muslims.

      Is there cause religious or political? Is this not parallel to what happened when Africa and elsewhere as they threw off the old European colonial powers 50 years ago? In India it was “Hindu extremists”, in Africa it was “Communist revolutionaries”. The Islamic world has long been held down and not always by the West. Indonesia too has its “Islamic problem”.

      Let’s recognize that what is happening in the Middle East is the natural throwing off foreign domination. They are using their most powerful motivating ideology. In this case it is Islam, in the past it was Communism.

      The Communists who did take over are looking a lot less like the Communist bogyman that we grew up fearing. Some Islamic revolutions are already looking less Islamic than we feared.

      If we are smart, when it is over we can have proper cordial relations with these new governments in much the same way that we have good relations with the bogymen of old.

  • Top Five Reasons Israel is Losing the Public Relations Battle
    • The problem goes deeper; it is the notion of the "Jewish State" that is at the core of it all. A state that defines itself as for one privileged class of people must necessarily have another class of people who are held at the bottom.

      We Americans should recognize this, we had the same thing. We had segregation, “separate but equal”, “Jim Crow”, and all the informal “back of the bus” mechanisms that kept blacks at the bottom. We even had “tokenism” that was used to prove that we were not racist.

      Israel has all of these and worse.

      Condemning oppression without also condemning the logic behind it will solve nothing.

  • Cole's Opposition to Iraq War in January, 2003
    • I think that you missed the overall point.

      The neocons are telling lies about you: I would expect nothing less!

      But let us examine the lie: they are using support for the war as a smear. Thus they are admitting that spporting the war was wrong. Their smear is your vindication. It is a badge of honor. Wear it proudly.

  • Letter to President Obama on Yemen: More Aid, Fewer Drones, Please
    • I was a close call. How often have we called the Muslim Brotherhood extremist? Now we may have to live with them. No doubt there is a lot of gagging in Washington!

    • I worry about the use of the word "extremist" in discussing the Middle East. It seems mean anyone who disagrees with us. We label someone an extremist, and then we can discount his point of view and put him on the kill list.

      Is someone who wants to replace the government of Iran an extremist? Or Jordan? Or Israel?

      Extremist seems to be one of those words like “terrorist” that gets thrown around when you want to avoid looking at the underlying issues. Examining legitimate grievances is hard, easier to apply a label and be done with it.

      On the other hand; will anyone in Washington read a document on the Middle East without "extremist" and "terrorist" liberally sprinkled throughout?

  • The Secret Army inside the Army (Bacevich)
    • Are we admitting that we have lost? America fielding international death squads seems an admission that we have lost the moral high ground as well as having lost the war. Can a strategy of assassination defeat a movement that has some popular support? Are the people that we label "terrorists" viewed the same over there? Does this strategy make their movement weaker or stronger? Does this make us stronger or weaker?

  • Iran, UNSC talks have the effect of Averting War
    • I do not hear Iranian negotiators ask "What is the US plan for a nuclear weapons free Middle East" every time they get before a microphone. It would need to be a public campaign, not something mentioned privately at the negotiating table.

      One wonders what the Middle East would be like if the Iranians were as good at PR as the Israelis.

    • I don't understand why Iran doesn’t announce that a "nuclear weapons free Middle East" is the basis of their negotiation position. Of course, some western countries will fume and sputter but the reality of the situation will finally get discussed. Why do the Iranians participate in the conspiracy to ignore the elephant in the drawing room?

  • Romney wants to Fight Whole Muslim World, not Concentrate on Bin Laden
    • Obama blew the aftermath of the Bin Laden assassination.
      It was the perfect time to declare victory and leave.
      Instead he continues a policy of propping up a corrupt and
      unreliable dictator. Karzai is a bad puppet but an excellent con man. (Haven't we learned anything in
      the last 50 years?)

      Obama still talks in terms of fixing Afghanistan.
      Afghanistan is not ours to fix and we have no idea how
      to fix it anyway. We are just spilling blood and burning
      money.

      They talk as if 911 was caused by poverty or bad government
      in Afghanistan. No one even suggests that 911 was caused
      by misguided US foreign policy in the region. Every
      blowback event, every disaster, in the last 50 years
      seems to come as a complete surprise.

  • Rubio Calls for War on Iran, Syria-- as Israeli Army Rejects Strike
    • Perhaps this is similar to the run-up to the war in Iraq.
      Cooler heads in the Pentagon advised against war.
      However they were all fired, the intelligence was all
      cooked, and off to war we went!

      Could it be that the IDF is more sensible than the
      Pentagon? For Israel such a war would be real, for
      us it is just part of the Great Game redux.

  • Top Ten Reasons Israel tried to Censor Bob Simon's Report on Palestinian Christians
    • I saw that 60 Minutes report and thought WOW! This is the
      first time that I have seen any honest discussion of
      Israel in the main stream media.

      Even the occasional articles in the New York Times by
      Palestinians are carefully selected so as to not question
      the basic principles of the Israeli narrative. Is this
      the first crack in the Israeli propaganda machine? Can
      Israel as we know it survive an honest look?

  • Drones, Drones Everywhere, and now we've given them to Iran
    • Further, the drones are an admission of defeat. Drones may be a valuable weapon for an attacking army like bombers and conventional missiles. But once the invading army has been defeated and is withdrawing, drones will not turn a defeat into a victory. They are no more effective than booby traps and land mines left behind, nothing more that pot shots as you head for the door.

      Drones also say something else; the defeated army has lost the will to fight. The leadership is no longer willing to shed their own blood for victory. The "enemy" clearly sees this even if we don't.

  • Amnesia and Awakening: Israel and the Nakba (Weiss)
    • Not so long ago Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick traveled to Israel to on a trade mission. I wonder what was going through his mind as he traveled through a country that so brutally oppresses its minorities.

      What does Barak Obama think when he supports the "Jewish State" knowing how it treats its Palestinians?

      Certainly they are both politicians first and foremost, and therefore must keep their private thoughts in check. It is sad to see, this is surely politics at its most hypocritical!

  • The Afghanistan Syndrome (Engelhardt)
    • There is another interesting echo of history. Back in the days of the USSR and the cold war we were battling the Russians for world domination. A common theme for pundits at that time was that the Soviets were a one trick pony. Every problem had only one solution; violence. They made excellent weapons but lousy shoes.

      Their impressive arms industry supplied revolutionaries around the world. The AK47 became the symbol of revolution. Their ideology, Communism, supplied the slogans for those revolutionaries. But when the revolution was won, the people wanted something else.

      America’s soft power ended up winning the war after the fighting was over. People wanted refrigerators and cars not slogans. The empty shelves of the Soviet block countries failed to attract.

      How the world has changed. Now it seems that we are the one trick pony!

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