Member Profile

Total number of comments: 188 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:04)

Philosophical Ron

A long time truth seeker, I was awarded "Highest Honors in History" for my B.A. in History from UCSC 12-74, and worked for over 9 yrs. FTE as a researcher-ghostwriter. Including that and other ventures, have been self-employed in micro-business 38 out of the last 40 years. A long-time advocate of small-d democracy, I have also been active in local politics off and on since the 60's, and I believe an op-ed of mine ten years ago actually caused local government to change its plan for re-developing our neighborhood, for the better. I remain active as a writer, a summary of my next book is up on my website, my old book still has original signed editions available. The website also has interesting ruminations on such topics as why Plato was wrong, how we shouldn't be waiting for the next "Mandela", how the American advertising industry can be controlled using current Supreme Court consensus, and how to effectively organize in American left-wing politics, among other topics.


Showing comments 188 - 101

  • ISIL feint toward Kirkuk defeated, but Kills hundreds in Mosul
    • philosophical ron 10/23/2016 at 6:39 am

      Turks vs Arabs over who controls Mosul, wasn't that like the story of the 1917-1922 period as well, until the Brits settled it in favor of the Arabs?

      On the face of it, America seeming to set an edge to let the Turks back into the discussion would seem to give credence to tales of Obama administration foreign policy stupidity. To give them credit, they may have to be working a very sticky wicket in getting the Iraqis to allow some available and ready troops into the effort, because of Iraqi Arab sensitivities precisely about keeping anything Turkish out of Mosul.

  • Trump Campaign: The Donald's 5-Point Plan to Defeat Islam
    • philosophical ron 10/21/2016 at 5:01 am

      You write -- truthfully and artfully -- "The best five point plan to defeat Muslim radicalism would be to stop using Muslim radicals (as the US is still doing in Syria) and to stop screwing Muslims over.

      But those steps wouldn’t be the Trump Way."

      I won't say that "... using Muslim radicals (as the US is still doing in Syria) and to stop screwing Muslims over ..." is exactly the policy that Barack Obama and/or Hillary Clinton would prefer. (Perhaps I need them to be better than that.)

      However, these things are certainly the policies that our American national defense and "intelligence" agencies (which Obama and Clinton variously do, have and will formally supervise) do actually engage in.

      I'm not one with the critics who emphasize the cynicism of "it's all corrupt and conspiratorial" and have no suggestions to offer to better the situation. I'm more like, now it's time to lobby Hillary (and your local Democrats) that we expect the new administration to challenge the spies and the generals more than Barack ever did, and get some better policies in place. Most likely these policies will have to be most subtle, more possibly contradictory of each other or some national myth in some way, more difficult perhaps to explain , yet worth the effort in the long run.

  • Russia and Turkey Make up: What implications for Syria, Kurds?
    • philosophical ron 10/11/2016 at 4:58 am

      I'm an old fart going deaf (I loved the LA and SF music scenes too close to the speakers) but I can hear it, can you hear it too?

      It's the sound of the geo-tectonic plates of the world military-power states shifting.

      Depending on billions of variables -- how we as a global so-called "civilization" evolve and shift with the changing times -- all our lives and progress hang in the balance.

  • Whose Fault is Trump? Top 7 Culprits
    • philosophical ron 10/03/2016 at 4:43 am

      Dear Juan,

      You are so completely "right on" in all your 7 points, yet I would like to re-emphasize Point 5, the replacement of "news" by "infotainment." As you put it so well at the end of your point,

      " But it has been pointed out that this media system we now have is actually a security threat, since it doesn’t inform the citizens of a democracy about pressing issues on which they have to vote, and isn’t acting as a sentinel in investigating potential threats."

      A democracy is only viable to the extent that the intelligence of its citizens is involved in civic life. Our grandparents and great-grandparents in the 30's and 40's of the last century mostly did it. Because of the failures of our media (and the elitism and insider-ism in our political culture in the last few decades,), both our intelligence (individually and collectively) and our involvement in our civic life have been greatly reduced.

  • How the JASTA override on Saudi could Bite Americans in the Ass
    • Thank you again , Juan, for your analysis. You close with some very strong words.

      The stupidity and shortsightedness of the American "political consensus" is great enough, at times, that it can never be underestimated. But if the threat to the financial structure is so clear, why weren't all the hedge fund guys and other financial industries talking against this? Do they buy into the generalized American ignorance of the Middle East so much that they cannot see any threat to their livelihoods from JASTA?

  • Obama: End terrorism like that in New York by Destroying ISIL in Mosul, Iraq
    • philosophical ron 09/20/2016 at 5:53 am

      Talking with American friends (uneducated in History) about the Middle East, all they see is a muddle; it's all confused, all those people are so difficult to understand. To heck with 'em all.

      My analysis (also see my writings on other sites) would be that the political-military structures of these states and communities have been dominated by men -- it's always men -- whose psychologies & philosophies have been twisted into a "leadership" that begins with dictatorial control over the political expressions of their community/state population group, in general we Americans should be sympathetic to the hopes and aspirations of the less-political majorities of these communities, while working against the tendencies towards authoritarianism that occur in both the Middle East and in America.

      Back in the day, there were suggestions (based in international state agreements) which considered an "international status" for Jerusalem (which was of course never implemented by powers on the ground).

      If I recall correctly, Mosul was also proposed for an "international status" at least once or twice by Historical actors. And if there was ever a city which would benefit from any sort of an "international agreement" over any sort of "international status" that could actually protect civil peace within the city limits, that city would be Mosul.

  • "This Parrot is no More": The 2016 Presidential Election did not Take Place
    • The mass media's choices of what to promote, and what to ignore -- always understanding that this"promotion" and "ignorance" is a matter of proportions and of emphasis -- do seem to be strongly in favor of "superficial coverage of the controversy of the day," as opposed to "deep analysis that illuminates our understanding of why people are making the choices they seem to be making in this situation."

  • The Millenarian Dimensions of the Attempted Coup in Turkey and implications for Muslim Modernism & Traditionalism
    • philosophical ron 09/16/2016 at 5:35 am

      Thank you, Dr. Nuruzzamen, for this perspective and this analysis. It deserves to be remembered and considered as we receive further information on the important effects and counter-effects that the July 15 coup attempt has had on Turkish politics, Turkish society, and the Turkish economy.

  • 15 Years after 9/11, can we Recover our Republic?
    • philosophical ron 09/11/2016 at 4:32 am

      Thank you for this presentation & analysis, Juan.

      As someone who's been an activist about something (or many things) in every decade since the '60's, it's all long term work.

      In America, everyone has an opinion on the ideal President and/or favorite politician/celebrity they would like to see as President.

      No one cares about state legislature races, hardly anyone cares about city?county council races.

      Change comes from working on the big ideals and also working as painstakingly as possible on the small details simultaneously, for as long as possible.

      And for what it's worth, I have a "resume bullet" of having proposed and co-moderated a (very successful) workshop on "Avoiding Burnout in Political Work" at a big lefty gathering on the Left Coast back in the day.

  • Florida: Politicians in Big Oil's Pocket Beware, The People want their Solar
    • philosophical ron 09/01/2016 at 4:57 am

      Haven't been there, but the reports are that fairly large areas of expensive near-ocean/bay neighborhoods are regularly being flooded by rising sea levels.

      I grew up with the gasoline economy that has powered our American (and world) prosperity, but which must now end forthright if we are to avoid climate catastrophe.

      I live in a suburban American environment in which a high proportion of families continue to choose 3-ton vehicles capable of seating 6-8 passengers but which are generally used with 1-3 passengers, despite the fact the many of these family's designated drivers are incapable of conducting their vehicles with any efficiency or effectiveness on the roads and parking structures of our suburban landscape.

      It's an ugly, and anti-hopeful picture I confront nearly every day. It's good to see that Florida residents and voters see that they have to DO something to make a change.

  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias
    • philosophical ron 08/28/2016 at 5:50 am

      There was a famous old science fiction short story, by one of the classic authors, I'm guessing 1948-54. (Sorry, I'm not trying to look it up, but I read it at least half a dozen times.)

      It chronicles the struggles of a secret US Army expedition to the Moon -- only to find that other humans have beaten them there ! Who could these enemies be? The punchline was, it was the US Navy.

      Of course both hands of a huge bureaucratic entity (the institutions of our American military/"national security" apparatus) are eventually going to be found at odds with each other.

      If you want to generalize about human nature and/or typical human predicaments, this kind of bureaucratic self-hypnotism is one of the few things about which I'll agree with you.

  • ISIL sends families out of Mosul as Kurdish, Iraqi Army Forces advance
    • philosophical ron 08/26/2016 at 9:13 am

      Nationalist and militarist-imperialist tendencies among the varied Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen populations and interest groups of the region have long maneuvered towards a "final showdown" over which of them might be able to secure an uncontested victory of political-military supremacy in Mosul.

      (However, in actual practice, the American-European Allied victory in World War I and the subsequent regimes that have existed, largely within the boundaries written by outsiders, have prevented such a battle from ever taking place.)

      Now it appears that such a battle, involving already-armed and organized state forces and militias among the three major population groups in the area (Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen) and other minority populations, at a time when boundaries appear more liable to change than they have for a hundred years, may actually be forming up.

      As historians we know this means highly unpredictable results.

      It seems a good time to reflect on a key truth in human history: military conquests seldom result in actual economic growth and prosperity on their own. True prosperity over generations in an area is usually identified with peaceful urban centers in which different ethnic identities and economic interests can live productive lives, under a power structure that recognizes it must make use of all population segments, rather than aggrandizing some segments over others. (In other words, the power structure doesn't have to be "democratic" necessarily, but it must be coalition-based and ultimately inclusive of the vast majority of population segments and sub-segments.)

  • Dragon Rising? China seeks Closer military Cooperation with Syria
    • Dear Juan,

      You copy reports that say, " Beijing intends to strengthen its military relationship with the current Syrian government. At the same time he affirmed that China would avoid involvement in the civil war."

      That's a really neat trick if they can actually do it.

      Do they accomplish it by giving equal diplomatic visits to the rebels?

      Or by shutting their eyes, covering their ears, and having an assistant pinch their nose, so that they can claim that they are somehow not cognizant of the civil war that will be intensified by their policy of " ... intend (ing) ... to strengthen its military relationship with the current Syrian government ... " ???

  • Monsters to Destroy: Top 7 Reasons the US could not have forestalled Syrian Civil War
    • philosophical ron 08/14/2016 at 1:50 am

      Thank you Joanna, I am in much the same shoes. It must have been '82-83-ish, when I ghostwrote some
      Saudi student's thesis on the recent history of the Arab-Israeli wars, I laid it on the Assads in sardonic academic language and the client loved it.

      In the meantime I have been developing my own vision of a serious history student's take on "all lives matter" since '78-79, and I did mean that to be inclusive of, and telling the stories of, all the forgotten women of all colors, places and times who have actually built human society.

      And I have come to much the same conclusions as you in your "only wish" (but with watching the history for many decades, able to remember all the totally unexpected things and keep some optimism).

      I do believe that Obama caved in that initial meeting with the national-security gurus that occurred on 1-20-09,. and I do carry some optimism that Hillary very well have the experience, as Sec. of State, and the personal relationships, and the "stones", to be able to say on 1-20-17 "NO, gentlemen, we are going to do things somewhat differently, my way."

  • The Economic Crisis of Greying World: 30 Countries have more Elderly than Children
    • The author is sincere, and his data seems to be soundly based.

      But sorry, I'm not making, or trusting, any projections out to 2075 based solely on current trends. The many many factors of unexpectedness, possible advanced technology, probable and likely climate-change-related extreme weather events, the question of whether human beings are more intelligent than rats -- will we seek to escape an environment that we're poisoning with our own waste products? -- all these things will interfere to ensure that 2075 is not just an extrapolation of current trends.

  • Google Sparks Outrage by Abolishing Palestine on Maps
    • philosophical ron 08/09/2016 at 5:34 am

      I could write a very long article on the many ways Google continually demonstrates that they do not understand what is supposedly their core competence, advanced digital technology.

      Google Analytics can't return useful data, GMail has the most unfortunately designed user interface, Google Maps are worthless because any touch of a mouse anywhere near them sends them careening from way-too-close scale to way-too-far-away scale and in and out of focus on the desired location, with no apparent way to find a middle ground, and pointing these complaints out to them has no apparent effect.

      This consumer is not at all impressed with the so-called "intelligence" of the Google (now Alphabet) corporation.

  • Looming Aleppo Battle indicts both sides of Civil War for breaking Cease-Fire
    • philosophical ron 08/09/2016 at 5:22 am

      In the sixth paragraph, which begins with "Saudi Arabia, Turkey and apparently John Brennan of the CIA want the rebels to take East Aleppo, ...", it seems possible from the context that an error of transposition was made there, that the sentence should instead read "Saudi Arabia, Turkey and apparently John Brennan of the CIA want the rebels to take West Aleppo ... " even though such a result would likely result in more misery for the Syrian population, by sheer volume, than the competing outcome of a regime takeover of East Aleppo.

      Let us hope (and, as possible, work to ensure) that your conclusion "Now it seems the Syrians are doomed, like actors in that Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” or Tom Cruise’s “Edge of Tomorrow,” to living the same scenes over and over again ..." is also too pessimistic, that the various peoples of Syria may find a way out of the nihilistic competition of corrupt power structures and towards a government reflecting the long-term interests of those quite various populations.

  • Mike Pence on the “American Heartland” and the Holy Land
    • philosophical ron 07/24/2016 at 4:21 am

      The discussion of Ultra-Christian commitment to the ultra-right vision of an "unalloyed" Israel is OK as far it goes, however I do prefer it to be capped off with the point that the fundamentalist commitment to the state of Israel is because it seems to jibe with of the ravings of John of Patmos in the Biblical book of Revelations of the Jews gathering together before their state is wiped out in Jesus's final return -- in other words, a completely fantastical, circus-like political stance that would not be welcomed by your intended ally if its full purpose was understood.

      The repeated references to "Gov. Spence" undermine whatever confidence we might otherwise have in the author's understanding of the situation.

  • Arab nationalist press Reacts to Erdogan's Crackdown with cries of "Dictator!"
    • philosophical ron 07/21/2016 at 5:43 am

      Dear Juan, you report that

      "In Egypt, Husain Yusuf of al-Yawm al-Sabi` (The Seventh Day) lambasted Erdogan. He said that the president’s interview on Wednesday on Qatar’s Aljazeera was intended to whitewash his dictatorial actions. Yusuf says that Erdogan is attacking everyone he perceives as an enemy, violating human rights, and pursuing a politics of exclusion. He slammed Erdogan as “Turkey’s Hitler.”

      Hmmm, Erdogan as Turkey's Hitler. That sounds about right to this outside observer, as of today ... and if Erdogan and his supporters don't like such a description, please, please, let them prove that such a description is all wrong.

  • Turkish People Power foils attempted Coup
    • philosophical ron 07/16/2016 at 12:51 pm

      Remarkable developments, which will certainly have long term after-effects.

      The position of the opposition parties is especially commendable -- this is what civilization and maturity looks like in practice. I'm sure many will be holding their breaths to see if Erdogan can be gracious in victory, or whether he will be using this as an excuse for further "witch hunts" against (real or imagined) domestic oppenents. Nevertheless, broad segments of Turkish society have shown much more intelligence than certain segments of the American electorate, and very much more intelligence than certain segments of American journalistic "pundits" and sensation-seeking internet writers.

  • What the carnage at Istanbul's Airport tells us about Europe
    • philosophical ron 07/04/2016 at 3:54 am

      So sorry for the Turks. The choices are desperate and perilous, and there is little that outsiders can do in the short or medium terms to alleviate their suffering.

      Glad to see that the author allows at the end that this flailing boat called "civilization" may be, possibly, by our utmost efforts, eventually "fixed."

  • Dissing Progressives, DNC Platform Backs Fracking, TPP, and Israeli Occupation
    • I have gone back and forth on Cornel West a bit, over the years, yet "good on him" is what I have to say for this one.

      Cornel is correct, if Hillary's chosen reps all vote pretty much straight corporate line on fracking and TPP (I _know_ they won't bend on Israel/Palestine), they won't even bother to try to find a glimmer of hopeful wording for all of us grass-roots who've been pushing this stuff (and more!) for years, that is truly a poor development that reduces my enthusiasm for Hillary.

      And I am one of the few people around, I guess, who tends to like her as a person most of the time.

  • $206 Mn. to Hate Groups to Promote anti-Muslim Sentiment
    • philosophical ron 06/26/2016 at 4:36 am

      To clarify my thoughts, there is also a category of "takeover of group institutions by persons and/or sub-groups who wish to gain institutional privileges (and/or institutional domination and corruption) for themselves, without actually innovating or revolutionizing anything," and in my opinion these types of folks don't get to count on the "innovation/revolution" side of the ledger in human affairs.

    • Prejudice against neighbors, prejudice against "others," prejudice against the unknown. This is close to the basis of tradition, perhaps the strongest force in human culture.

      The "other hand" is that, especially now in in 2016 when most of the chaos either is "breaking out," or already has "broken out," tradition in modern human culture is often, and often assiduously, opposed by strong forces of reform and innovation/revolution.

      IMHO, such conflict between "tradition" and "innovation/revolution" appears to be eternal in human affairs, see my writings in other places.

  • Pyrrhic Victory? As Iraq rolls back Daesh, can it stay together as a Country?
    • The ultimate revenge of Sykes-Picot. The artificial boundaries invite the revolt/attack, yet quelling the revolt excites the separatist tendencies which brings on the majority dictatorship which prolongs the artificial boundaries.

  • Despite Terrorism fears, 59% of Americans Welcome Syrian, Iraqi Refugees
    • philosophical ron 06/16/2016 at 4:58 am

      Thank you very much again, Juan, for helping focus our attention on this relatively positive and hopeful information, so welcome in today's climate over the interwebs.

  • America's First Communal Muslim Funeral: Muhammad Ali
    • philosophical ron 06/11/2016 at 3:44 am

      My dad and I had already listened on the radio, to Floyd Patterson's title victory over Johansen and his two title losses to Liston, so we eagerly anticipated Liston vs. Clay, also on the radio (in Los Angeles). Liston, according to popular information, had killed a guy and served multiple prison terms, plus he had a knockout punch; this little mouth-off squirt Clay didn't stand a chance.

      And then the fight went on and on, and he was standing a chance. And there was no knockout punch. And then Liston didn't come out for the seventh round, and Clay had won !!

      With that, for me. the cultural revolution was ON, big time. It turned out later that both he and I were found guilty of refusing to be drafted into the Vietnam War Machine, but that was more coincidental. It was that victory over the bully Liston, totally unreasonable and unexpected, that cemented my allegiance to the successful walk on the wrong side of "mainstream" American culture that Muhammad Ali represented so well.

  • As US/ Kurdish force Moves on ISIL at Manbij, Turkey goes Ballistic
    • philosophical ron 06/02/2016 at 4:01 am

      If it is correct, that as you state " Despite Turkish oral offers of assistance, the US Pentagon has clearly decided that the YPG Kurds are the only game in town if the goal is to defeat Daesh in its lair of al-Raqqa ... ", this must certainly be recorded as a positive development in the great-power/client relationships of the Middle East. The Turkish state is in full-scale transformation into a Mussolini-Franco-Peron model, while the YPG may actually be instituting radical forms of democracy and female empowerment.

      Is it possible that for once America is actually supporting the more popular/less authoritarian side in a local dispute?

  • Modern Mongols: Sunni Arabs outraged at Iran role in Iraqi Gov't Fallujah Campaign
    • If the majorities of populations in these lands are indeed absorbed in possibly participating in Sunni-Shi'a intra-Islamic civil wars -- on top of all the other wars in the region, from the over 80-year-old Arab-Israeli one which does so much to define the modern Middle East as a region of lack of hope and progress, to all the other inter-governmental wars going on, and the various multi-factional civil wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya Yemen and others --
      then the future of our so-called "civilizations" in that region is destined to be tragic.

      To the extent that the many, highly diverse people and generally intelligent people of the many majority cultures and sub-cultures that make up the region can learn from the failure of the military models in the region (and elsewhere), and begin to reject old models and learn how to build new more sustainable models, as I believe they can, there may be hope for our region and for our world.

  • New Turkish PM Firmly Behind Erdogan on Executive Presidency
    • What would be surprising would be that if the new Prime MInister, selected unanimously by the ruling party, was in any way opposed to Erdogan's project for a complete dictatorship under his rule.

  • Top 4 Reasons Iran will stand by Syrian gov't despite High Casualties
    • philosophical ron 05/08/2016 at 4:15 am

      Are you stating or implying that Iran and Saudi Arabia consider their rivalry with each other as a more important goal than just about anything else -- such as the welfare and future economic satisfaction of their own populations, the prospects for the region as a whole, or the developing/possible problem of human civilization literally suffocating in our own waste products?

      That would be a terrible thing if it were true, and holds the potential to ensure that the most negative projections for us all come true.

  • Saudi Arabia's Vision: Cut Subsidies to Workers, Middle Class, put Women to Work
    • philosophical ron 05/04/2016 at 5:30 am

      From the 1980's through the 2000's, the former USSR and the 17 or so "republics" that have devolved from it, faced an incredible challenge in moving from a Stalinist-command economy to a more sustainable system.

      They have generally failed in this task, and in the 2010's it seems the various USSR successor-states are stuck with the various (dictatorial rentier-economy states) they have evolved.

      Saudi Arabia's transition from an "Abdel-Azizian command economy" to a more sustainable economic system may be even more difficult and more constrained by cultural/political considerations, than the Soviet/post-Soviet economic transitions have been.

      For the record, I have many hundreds of words on how economic systems are based on how people define and articulate their ideas of what is a "value" and what is not a value, and also on how "good" economic systems are based on people "taking in each other's laundry" and other mundane, boring tasks, and also on how it may be most useful for individuals, in being successful in their possible futures, to be able to learn how to earn "values" within many different economic value systems that may present themselves within one's cultural/economic environment (or in one's possible future cultural/economic environment). in my writings in other places.

  • The End of American Iraq: Poor Shiites invade Parliament over corrupt Spoils System
    • philosophical ron 05/01/2016 at 4:39 am

      The whole thing will, I am sure, in due time, get ample attention from Iraqi and global historians, and from novelists, poets, artists of all sorts.

      In the meantime, "what a long strange trip it's been," with America's organized 'conservatism-with-a-capital-C' winning and then losing a foreign war, completely degrading nearly all American patriotic-speech values in the process, and neither the conservative political elites or masses, or the media or the general cultural conversation apparently being able to learn any thing at all from the experience.

  • US finally acknowledging al-Qaeda factor in breakdown of Ceasefire
    • The fog of _really_ knowing _anything_ in almost any situation is so dense, what with people's commissions of un-truths and regrettable actions, and their omissions of truths and righteous actions, and their overall unwillingness to come clean about any of this, that in a multi-factional actual military battlefield such as Syria has become in recent years, we can almost envision a situation in which no individual in society is trustworthy as a source of reliable information.

      And even if there were one such person, the situation could change tomorrow, invalidating the knowledge they could provide.

  • What GOP New Yorkers just voted for: Torture, Syria Intervention, murder of innocents
    • philosophical ron 04/20/2016 at 3:56 am

      The man can barely speak a coherent phrase in the English language, that reaches up to the standards of millions of ordinary Americans, without displaying tremendous narcissism _and_ tremendous ignorance about human/institutional relationships.

      I would contend that he also displays massive stupidity in failing to understand the intelligence of others, in the pitifully weak, mendacious, pettifogging excuses he makes when called on any of his many areas of ignorance.

      He reminds me of the heroin addicts of the '70's: willing to say any and every crazy thing if if might get him towards his fix. How all the culturally-conservative "tough guys" on the right, with their SUV's and their guns, cannot see thru Donald's bullshit, seems to show how completely that ignorance and racism are the foundations of their "thinking."

  • Saudis warn they will withdraw $750 Bn. from US economy if 9/11 Bill Passes
    • philosophical ron 04/17/2016 at 4:17 pm

      Let's get the report first, then worry about "holding people responsible."

      And just to quibble, can we/will we ever get a full understanding of the deliberate negligence of the Bush administration in the days before 9/11 ?? Juan has done a good job on how they blew off the warning of the one expert (Clark, if I recall correctly), but there's so much more. The exact details of how the FBI and CIA didn't collaborate/coordinate or even inform each other. The question of whether there were, or were not, military training exercises with simulated attacks scheduled for 9/11. We could "hold responsible" a lot of Americans before we go trying "hold responsible" the Saudis.

      Another quibble. The Treasury has issued the bonds, they received the payment from the purchasers long ago, and are paying out the dividends to the owner of record on the dividend dates. If the Saudis sell huge amounts, the price will drop just because of the friction inherent in matching sellers and buyers, if the price collapses, someone with money to invest will get a great bargain -- but where is the blow to the U.S. economy? Who stops going to WalMart and Taco Bell because of this? How does this affect my meed for duct tape and paper towels today? There might be a lot of hyper-ventilation among commentators, I'm looking for the actual blow to the U.S. economy. On the other hand, if the Saudi dump collapses the price, they will indeed suffer a loss.

      And one more quibble. Every day a wide variety of citizens of all nations are jailed and punished for various crimes. Yet considering the vast array of injustices and outrages that the various governments and leading economic entities of our modern world perform every day, it would be comical if it were not so tragic, how little the powerful persons on our globe are ever "held responsible" for the messes and deaths they have directly and indirectly committed.

  • Saudi's King Salman in Turkey signals thaw in Ankara-Riyadh Tensions
    • philosophical ron 04/12/2016 at 3:46 am

      Very interesting analysis, professor.

      You write: "They want their clients, the fundamentalist militias fighting against the regime, to have a place at the peace negotiations and in the resulting government. They want al-Assad gone. And they want to reduce Iranian influence in Syria."

      But what if those positions are un-representative of strength on the ground, and fundamentally unsustanable in the long-term process of creating an effective, truly civil Syrian governent ?? More failed and stale processes tying up state actors for years, and more stagnation on the ground imperiling any happiness for civilian populations.

  • If ISIL falls before November, how will it affect the US Election?
    • Auto-correct at work? In the third to the last paragraph, "delivering the coup de grace to the phone caliphate of Daesh" should undoubtedly be "delivering the coup de grace to the phony caliphate of Daesh."

      Otherwise, very good, very wise for all involved -- and that would be all of us -- to be looking ahead to new possibilities. Thanks again Juan for your excellent work.

  • Syria: Al-Assad Family's Massive Stolen Wealth in Panama Papers helps explain Revolution
    • philosophical ron 04/06/2016 at 4:25 am

      Thank you so very much, once again.

      This is exactly the sort of historical narrative that we miss so very much in this era of the internet dominated by SEO principles, which gives us context-less and irresponsible listicles and supposed "shokers."

      As someone who has tried to assess how societies are always both unifying and fragmenting at the same time (though sometimes one of the processes may seem to predominate in a particular place and time in the story of all people on earth), I am ready to argue that at least the english-language American-based internet of the last few years has become an unprecedented force for the fragmentation of social bonds, promoting mass ignorance and unsocial attitudes, far more than anything that resembles helping us learn to solve our problems working together, with all the inevitable compromises that entails.

  • Fall of Palmyra: Syrian regime races to take ISIL's 'Berlin' and forestall 'Partition'
    • philosophical ron 03/28/2016 at 4:40 am

      A very interesting analysis, thank you very much Professor Cole.

      I would like to hear some alternative views from other credentialed analysts, yet you present a very convincing case.

      If things do pan out in Assad's favor as you suggest, i.e that the tradition of very strong central government continues in a newly-negotiated regime in which the populations supporting Assad (Shia Muslims, Alawites and other religious minorities, secular Sunnis) remain in the ascendant (whether or not Assad himself remains in Syria) it will mean that the Assad family's military legacy will be that the only victory they could win, was against their own population who were seeking a more democratic and responsive government.

  • Bravest man in Politics: Bernie Sanders harshly criticizes Israeli Occupation: 'Absurd' Settlements, 44% Unemployment
    • I was so scared of what Richard Nixon might do/stumble into, I trained myself to sleep without a mattress or a pillow back around '71-74. It was good for me. I lost the ability to sleep on concrete/rocks somewhere around age 50, but I still don't sleep with a pillow and I'm sure it's partially why I don't have backaches at the old official retirement age.

      The early 00's put a heavy fear of Republicans into my radical soul, and I say the main objective has to be to _prevent_ any Republican from winning, Trump Cruz Kasich or whatever other stooge they can muster, they must be defeated for the Presidency, and reduced as far as possible in all the other seats at stake. Democrats have won the popular vote in the last 5 of 6 elections, it has to be kept up.

      Sanders speaks the truth on Israel/Palestine, because he is an idealist who sees the vision. Hillary goes to AIPAC and does her best to rub their rear ends with Shinola, because she knows she needs to avoid the s&*%storm that would come if she did anything else, because supporting AIPAC on Israel if kind of what has defined people as being "establishment Democrats" for the last 25 years, and she's played the game this long, she's gonna play another hand of it just because she knows certain donors and certain media vehicles would raise hell if she did otherwise. Pragmatic and practical, don't annoy people you may need and whose opposition would be tough, still having total freedom of action when in office.

      So for me, although Sanders position on Israel/Palestine is far superior to Hillary's, I have to say, please, Bernie-berners please get ready to support Hilary if she prevails, and Hillary-supporters please get ready to support Bernie if he can pull off the upset. Hillary does need the vision and the revolutionary enthusiasm of Bernie and his people, and Bernie does need the pragmatism and the knowledge-of-fighting-dirty-GOP-tricks-and-crap-for-25-years-and-more that Hillary and her people remember.

      And in the end, if we keep pushing, there will be an evolution in American policy in the Middle East. Hopefully before climate change suffocates us all in our own waste products.

  • How not to talk about Muslims after a Fringe Terrorist Group attacks
  • Turkey's Erdogan: Democracy Has 'Absolutely No Value Any Longer' given war on PKK Terrorism
    • philosophical ron 03/20/2016 at 3:46 am

      It is so easy, once you have power. It's so easy to slide into the stance of needing absolute power. You've just got to have that last bit of it, then everything can be brought into line.

      Of course, we will always suspect that for Erdogan, democracy ceased having any value as soon as he was able to manipulate it into giving him power.

  • Syria's Kurds to declare Federal Province
    • Without hitting the books, I'd have to say "yes." There were minor adjustments, and Mosul was left undecided in the original discussions, yet overall, the current lines of Syria and Iraq reflect the maps made by Sykes and Picot in 1915-16 more than they reflect any other historical or then-current cultural/ethnic considerations.

    • Is this the end of Sykes-Picot boundaries imposed on the region in the various Post-World-War I treaties?

      Ultimately, will we feel that this is something we should cheer or something we should mourn?

      As ever, it's usually hard to declare "today is the day" as these grand historical questions roll towards a resolution, with the hub-bub of daily life going on.

      I'm pretty sure I've sounded off on federalism as a good thing in the region previously in this space, I'd also like to add that I've been on record since 1980 for an eventual world federalism, and the end of national sovereignty.

      It was a lot easier in 1980 than in 2016 to foresee a peaceful future for the working out of what I also made part of my proposal, "3 or 4 generations" of increasing education & activism towards this goal.

      Unfortunately, education has definitely under-performed over the decades, while tendentious civil wars, ruthless dictatorships, and corrupt oligarchies have over-performed compared to what I thought was possible.

      Now it seems pretty clear. We - global humanity - have maybe "one generation" of time, maybe 16 or 23 years or maybe a lot less, before climate change and stupid governments allow us to suffocate in our own waste products.

      So it all seems so much more urgent now. Will humanity prove to be smarter than rats? Will we make efforts to save our societies from becoming overloaded with our own waste products (and I definitely include the social & intellectual pollution caused by toxic, ignorant and profit-seeking media of all sorts, traditional and hi-tech, as one of our most poisonous waste products) ???

  • What is Political Revolution and Can Bernie Sanders Deliver?
    • philosophical ron 03/14/2016 at 6:19 am

      The good professor has not spent nearly enough time making cold phone calls to raise money for a third party. I have. Even with a list of people who've signed your own petitions at events or on street corners, to actually get money out of 1 in 15 is doing pretty well.

      Everybody has a favorite celebrity they'd love to see as President. Most everybody has a prescription for the two major political parties. But hardly anybody cares about their own darn state legislators, and nobody cares about a different state legislature race if they're ten feet outside the district.

      I am a radical who was mugged by reality, back in '00 I had spent a lot of hours in Green Party meetings, for me it was just about shoving the Democrats to the left. We got our state up into over 10% polling for Nader, we got gob-smucked by a wave of Democratic Party pushback. For everyone of our people, there were ten people bashing us. Two people in my social circle did a blatantly dishonest thing claiming to be Greens who were now backing Gore, and got stories all the biggest papers in our state -- papers that had been ignoring our press releases for five years.

      And then, in my opinion, both we Greens and the Dems -- who I expected to win and wanted to win -- failed to see how much the R's were ready to steal the election if necessary. And the Dems spent the first part of 2001 harping and wailing on how the Greens cost the election, leaving us all adrift when 9-11 came thru, enabling Bush's worst excesses.

      By 2004 I was walking my precinct for Kerry, but still trying to push the Dems to the left. And those people in my social circle, they've had their ups and downs, and so have I, and there's a reason we're still in the same social circle and see each other at events, and darn it, I can genuinely be glad to see them.

      2016 has unleashed a lot of anger. I spent the '90's trying to slime the Clintons, but today I am surprised at the anger of some Bern-ers against Hillary. Yes she's made every compromise over the years, but I do understand, from decades of trying to sell activist positions on issues and how hard it is, that if I had ever achieved power I would have become much more centrist too.

      So Hillary's people do need Bernie's vision, and Bernie's people do need Hillary's commitment to the long slog against ignorance and muck. Work for your third party! Great for you if you get anywhere! It really is OK for different types of people to do different types of work, pushing both "politics" and activism to the left, and pushing the overall culture to the left, as far as they think they can push. Let's have a consciousness of all pushing together in the same general direction, and avoid the consciousness of "my way to do things is the only possible way."

  • Which Protest-busting Dictator is Trump most Like?
    • And on second thought, although I haven't studied their speeches, Mussolini and Peron were probably able to speak in coherent sentences in their languages. They were actively engaged in the party politics of their times, and so I assume were able to make actual arguments on matters of governmental policy, without falling into an ignorant braggadocio of grammatical incoherence.

      Maybe I'm wrong in this, maybe Benito and Juan were just as incompetent in their basic speech, and as uniformed about how their governments actually worked, as Donald is. But he really does seem to be "sui generis," a new and novel formation of psychologies, philosophies, politics and economics in the story of people on this planet.

    • I'm going with Mussolini and Peron, the appeal to a masculine authoritarianism aligned with the national culture is just too obvious.

      I'm trying to think of others, there were a lot of slimy characters in Eastern Europe just before World War Two, and lot of slimy Asian and African characters after World War Two, but there was a lot of reformatted-traditional nationalism going on, as well as a lot of ideology going on too, a lot of Marxism-Leninism but also local inventions. Nothing quite seems to fit.

      I read a lot of Napoleon III back in the day, the self-admiration may have been comparable to Trump, but my fuzzy memory sees him as more slimy, with a few extremely lucky turning points going well for him, not as emotionally connected to his base as Trump, Mussolini and Peron.

  • Top 6 Signs Trump is wrong & Islam doesn't 'Hate us'
    • philosophical ron 03/10/2016 at 4:18 am

      Thank you once again for sharing this very true and necessary perspective for us. Your Muslim-world readers don't need these reminders, so much, I'm guessing. Yet your American readers most certainly do.

      Contemplating Trump and American idiocy in general, in recent days, I am focusing on the television industry as a very important factor. I've known this industry for 50+ years, I've gotten some laughs and some emotional satisfactions from it. And I do have one corner of it I can watch purposely to try to turn off my usual intellectual pre-occupations -- yet when I do that, I start thinking and daydreaming on all sorts of things, and often fall into sleep within 20 minutes.

      The products of the TV industry, really are created to make us more stupid. The more of them one watches, the more stupid one becomes. I haven't watched one minute of it, yet apparently Fox and CNN and probably MSNBC and almost-certainly all the local stations in all the TV markets in America have given something like 80-90% of their national-political coverage to Donald J. Trump. So of course we have all become more stupid.

  • Can non-violent Revolt actually Change practical Politics?
    • philosophical ron 03/07/2016 at 10:57 pm

      As a matter of history, the voting rights act was pushed through Congress by the President and his majority party, it had been in the works, and was signed Aug. 6, 1965. The Watts riots broke out Aug. 11th, on local issues.

      And to segue to what I'd like to talk about, that was after I had begun my career of political interest and involvement, at the age of 14, in a 1964 initiative campaign in California, for "fair housing," which was basically sponsored by the black civil rights leaders and enlisted many sympathetic whites.

      I've been involved in various sorts of activist causes in every decade since then, including a 14-year long march of unsuccessfully trying to establish the Green Party as something positive in American politics, during which I led a local initiative coalition of local businesses and environmentalists to keep out a Wal-Mart (we only lost by 200 votes and cost Wal-Mart $2.5 million bucks), and later was a state official in Green Party, we were saying everything Bernie is saying now but we had no visibility or money. And we got clobbered by the Dems in 2000 and blamed for Gore's loss, and now it's dwindled into nothing, but darn it, it did make a difference, it did contribute to the overall evolution which is occurring. It does make a difference, I have had the experience that one column of mine in a local newspaper got the county government to change an urban renewal plan in more citizen-friendly directions.

      And darn it, even when you fail at your immediate purpose, both the long slog and the revolutionary vision are necessary and desirable. And they do make a difference, because the America of 2016 is mighty different today than the America I remember from 1960, and every little thing I (and millions of others) did to indulge ourselves in cultural and political gestures "against the man" did contribute to a massive cultural revolution in attitudes and behaviors.

      We need to do a better job of seeing how it's good that different activists are doing different things and forming coalitions, instead of thinking "they're doing it wrong" and insisting that social and political change comes only in one way. Social and political change has always been an evolutionary chaos, and rational history rejects the view that "the establishment" -- whatever establishment you like to conceive of, in any place or time -- "controls everything" and that only violence is effective.

  • As Coasts Flood, why isn't the Corporate Press asking Candidates about Climate Change?
    • philosophical ron 03/03/2016 at 5:24 am

      Thank you very much for this information, Juan.

      That's an excellent and humorous point make point you make at the end. Both our economic leaders yet I think even more so, our political leaders, are the greatest obstacles to the actual implementation of the collective human intelligence we so desperately need to see made real.

  • Iran Election Results Show that when US rewards Pragmatists, they Win
    • philosophical ron 02/28/2016 at 5:46 am

      In my experience, actual political work consists of communicating with persons who do not necessarily share your opinions, and learning from that how to better present your own arguments to them in an agreeable, amenable fashion.

      It's a very long hard road, yet my experience shows no other path to long-term success.

  • Black, Brown and Progressive: A New Voter Majority in the US?
    • philosophical ron 02/22/2016 at 4:59 am

      How come no other poling articles I see come up with this " 23 percent of eligible voters are progressive people of color, and 28 percent are progressive whites, according to Phillips. That means 51 percent of the electorate ..." ??

      I'd love to see it be true. I'd love to see the Bernie and the post -Bernie revolutions take place, sooner the better, however some of you wonderful young persons are going to have to be running for city councils and state legislatures, like NOW.

      And IMHO, see my other writings. the "long term organizing" and the "deeper cultural changes that propel the long term organizing" do need be combined with the "constant pressure on all fronts in the sphere of electoral/legal politics." This will happen with different strokes being done by different folks, yet y'all need to appreciate each other, not snipe at each other.

  • Could a post-Scalia court restore Campaign Finance Sanity & pull back from Plutocracy?
  • Top 5 Scalia Rulings that helped Progressives
    • OK, maybe I don't HAVE to hate Scalia and his accomplices in turning the Supreme Court into a highly -politiczed and too-often-severely-retrograde institution in the American polity, perhaps as you point out, among the likes of Thomas, Alito, Roberts and Kennedy, he was the most human. humane and the most willing to follow his principles even when they went against his political allies.

      But if this crew manages to stymie just the beginning of our cooperation with the Paris climate agreement, and tries to deliver a sweeping ruling against Presidential initiative, and if all this crap the right-wing five on the Supreme Court have been engaged in, is seen in ten or twenty years as key points in the climate change disaster, I think I will still hate him.

      Things are very different this year, and I am going to have to re-write my big political article to account for the Trump, Sanders and other revolutionary phenomena. such as the oil price slump. I'm willing to go along with whichever Dem can win the primary, read my old articles, I was twenty years ahead of Bernie, so I can't deny his revolution if it really happens, but we've got to WIN the Presidency with whatever D against whatever R, to save the planet and give our grandchildren a fighting chance at a decent life. And all you folks who support Bernie now will also have to keep coming out in the streets for him, if he is the nominee, for the next 5 years at least.

  • Muslims in Europe: A Crisis of Liberalism, not a Clash of Civilizations
    • philosophical ron 02/14/2016 at 6:20 am

      Thank you, thank you, thank you very much, Professor Preville, Mr. Harbin and especially Professor O'Brien, for a very illuminating discussion.

      However, give yourselves credit. You did not actually "deconstruct" the problem as the teaser indicated; hearing that word, I expect a situation to be obfuscated and drawn into confusion.

      Instead, I found Professor O'Brien's three most significant types of ideological conflict to be very well-grounded in historical reality, leading to a particularly clear and cogent analysis and discussion of the situation.

  • Russia Warns of 'World War' as Saudi Plans Syria Intervention
    • philosophical ron 02/12/2016 at 4:51 am

      Very interesting, very interesting steps in the maneuvering of states in geopolitical/military conflicts.

      Are the Saudi's finally ready to put their money, and their blood, where their mouth has been, against ISIS/Daesh? Or is this really against Assad and Shi'ite minorities? Or is this all carefully timed to be cancelled by the possible international "cessation of hostilities" announced by Sec. Kerry today?

      And about that "cessation of hostilities," who is going to enforce that on Daesh?

  • Did Bashar al-Assad win New Hampshire? Trump & Sanders Mideast Policies
    • This does seem to be a year of upset and upheaval, and I have under-estimated the ability of Sanders to become the phenomenon he has now become.

      A small reason I still haven't signed on to the phenomenon so far: in my imagination, the crucial moment in any presidency comes about on the afternoon of January 20th, when the new President is introduced to the national security/CIA leaders, who attempt to scare him into not challenging their power in any way. In my view, Obama failed this challenge and has been completely in their thrall; Hillary knows all these people already, on one hand she probably agrees with them already, on the other hand she may just be familiar enough to know how to fight back on various issues. Bernie, I could see him either misunderstanding their challenge, or getting in a pissing contest that hurts our (the progressive people) goals of significant reform in the longer term.* So that's my fear in the situation.

      My intellect in the situation would be that great and middle powers tend to change their basic foreign policies slowly, even if their administrations are taken over by significantly new regimes. Their have been exceptions, such as the "reversal of alliances" in 1756, when the previous Austrian/Prussian alliance against France was switched for an Austrian/French alliance against Prussia, and the Hitler-Stalin alliance of 1939, but those situations occur when major nations are desperate for advantage. We still have a few years of upset and upheaval to go until such conditions are realized, IMHO, but I guess I'm ready to be surprised by revolutionary developments in my old age.

      *And Trump, of course would sign onto and urge the intensification of whatever the spymasters proposed.

  • Obama Condemns hatred of Muslim-Americans, Affirms their Importance to Nation
    • philosophical ron 02/04/2016 at 5:01 am

      You eloquently write, "Above all, it was a decent speech, which restored some decency to our public discourse at a time of casual racism and unchallenged fascist sentiments being spouted by lesser men, by demagogues and psychopaths, who threaten our society with division and the creation of second-class citizens and a new Jim Crow. Obama is a symbol of how we got past the original Jim Crow. We will not be dragged back to that, no matter how many billions proponents of such reactionary politics may have.

      I hope and pray that you are right.

  • The "Democracy" of Billionaires & the Most Expensive Election ever Bought (Except for Bernie Sanders)
    • philosophical ron 02/02/2016 at 4:27 am

      I'm writing after the Iowa caucuses showed Hillary and Bernie in an extremely close race with a few votes still outstanding. I'm also writing as one who has been involved in American activism since 1966 (check my bio at my site), the experience of which has helped teach me that BOTH the daily, dedicated small-step work and struggle, AND the revolutionary vision of mass mobilization, are necessary parts of a victorious campaign.

      So, let me be the first to say it. Whoever wins between Hillary and Bernie, in the finals of the nomination contest, should pick the other for VP.

      Yes it's crazy, yet it may also be brilliantly necessary. And since it will inevitably come up as internet meme sooner or later, i just want to get my claim out there. I see the good and bad points of both, I am genuinely torn, it's the best solution.

  • Rhetorical Terror: GOP Candidates Pledge War Crimes, Carpet-Bombing, Asian Land Wars
    • Thanks for the comparison of Daesh barbarity with the Khmer Rouge.

      I studied this all at the time, but now it's growing faded, isn't it true, if I recall correctly, that the Reagan and Bush I administrations diplomatically supported the remains of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in all world forums, as part of a strategic alliance with China and against Russia & Vietnam? I won't claim to be an expert here.

  • Top 5 Ways Putin has won big in Syria and why Europe is embracing him
    • philosophical ron 01/28/2016 at 4:50 am

      Take a larger view of American culture. Obama is not a dictator, and I did not say it was he specifically being influenced.

      I see it more as the American culture and especially the big TV and Print media which, among other mythologies, clings tightly to the pro-Israel lobby -- and go into any synagogue in America and talk about politics, this is not just a few people in Washington. Both the American populist right and the populist left dislike the Assad regime, from different news sources and prejudices.

      And as for Obama not fighting too directly with Netanyahu and the Israel Lobby (or with the Saudi Lobby either), he sits with his advisers all day and they are all very convinced that for their political futures, it is not worth opposing either the Israelis or the Saudis in the ways you might wish him to do so. It's a compromise (that doesn't prevent them from taking other less public actions and attitudes), it's not a conspiracy.

    • Thank you very much for this astute analysis, I for one appreciate it very much.

      As for judgements, I'm trying to hold back. Despite the violence and repression the Assad regime has demonstrated against its own population, it never projected that in the military realms of the international balance to any great degree. So it was actually very little of a threat to the US or Israel (or anyone else). The US has become fixated on the threat posed by "Islamic terror" in general and Daesh in particular, and has been influenced by a global human-rights movement to become fixated on the Assad regime as something to be opposed (while the cooler temperaments among the American foreign policy community have so far prevented any kind of outright call for regime change).

      For Russia, I was taking it at face value that they opposed Daesh for reasons of large Muslim minority in Chechnya and other regions of their own territory. But perhaps I was wrong, and the motives of supporting a traditional ally while slapping the figurative faces of Obama and Erdogan reign supreme in the Kremlin.

      In any case, much interesting maneuvering among the greater and lesser powers awaits our breathless attention, as many of us worry that so-called "modern civilization" is most threatened by our failure to think and act better than rats, who will not soil their own nests with their toxic waste products, if given any alternative to do so.

  • Dragon & Phoenix: Khamenei Lauds New Sino-Iranian 'Strategic Partnership'
    • philosophical ron 01/24/2016 at 5:08 am

      For anyone who has studied modern international diplomacy, this development is entirely predictable and ordinary.

      The extent to which the promises that "the Dragon" and "the Phoenix" are consummated in actual human behavior will depend, of course, on millions of other future unknown variables, such as the future behavior of/cooperation from/antagonism with, that China and Iran may experience with Russia, the USA, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc. etc., , and the decisions that the future political leaderships of China and Iran may make regarding whether they have the resources to follow their own particular desires "no matter what," or whether they live in a threatened world human society which requires all actors to cooperate if any are to have any chance at survival, and other such basic future variables that human actors may decide to change their thinking on, at any time.

  • Fearing the Bern, Billionaire Bloomberg Threatens to Buy Election for Establishment
    • As a veteran of third-party efforts (and one who could write a long article on how Nader wasted and shredded Green enthusiasm and practical organizing in the 1996-2004 era), I would like to raise the practical questions of a Bloomberg run, no matter who it may be aimed at.

      Most states have definite requirements for placing a third party/independent candidate on the ballot in November -- and from what I remember, unless Bloomberg is _immediately_ ready and organized with cadres of lawyers, to be circulating petitions, and/or taking over existing third parties, he's already missed the ballot deadlines on about 10 or more states, and if he doesn't get on it with real resources by mid-March he's lost at least 20 or more states. And a "write-in" campaign in the era of easily manipulated (by insiders) voting machines is a joke, that's not gonna make it. What are the odds right now that Bloomberg can mount an a campaign on the ballot in 45 states? I say at least 3 or 4 to 1 against.

  • Netanyahu demands more billions from US after Iran Deal, insults US Envoy, Steals more Land
    • philosophical ron 01/22/2016 at 4:42 am

      Thank you very much, Juan, for another "right on" observation.

      Not sure at all that, as you say, their shoplifting that land requires that we American taxpayers give them extra billions.

  • US–Saudi relations and the search for leverage
    • philosophical ron 01/14/2016 at 2:12 pm

      America needs to have good, normal relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. (And with Israel and Egypt and Syria and Turkey and Kurdish groups and everybody else in the Middle East, of course.)

      We don't need to be giving any of them huge quantities of top-end armaments that help separate military/political elites from their ordinary citizens of their own lands, and that help divert resources from these countries from helping the development of their own people. And we certainly don't need to be supporting any of them in their desires to carry on quarrels with their neighbors.

      And it would be a lot easier to have good relations with these nations if leaders of Middle Eastern nations actually cared about cooperating with us against modern-day pirates and thugs who pose a threat to all global citizens who want to see their leaders building a better world.

  • Prince of Araby: The reckless power behind the Saudi throne
    • philosophical ron 01/13/2016 at 5:33 am

      Sorry, I messed up in the editing process, I was trying to change the sentence of the 5th paragraph to end with a more proper grammar of "... which becomes a danger to all as hostile forms of nationalism _are_ practiced by all."

    • philosophical ron 01/13/2016 at 5:26 am

      The author notes, and I tend to agree, that "Shouldn’t Britain and America, supposedly ‘developed’ countries claiming to be beacons of progress and democracy, be brokering the rapprochement between these two extremist regimes that is key to regional peace, and a political solution to the Syrian crisis?"

      A key part of this work, as our host Juan noted in his latest post, is to point out the fallacy of the analytical/political myth that Sunni-Shi'ite conflict is somehow a primary characteristic of the historic Middle East.

      Yes, there was a conflict back in the day (when London and Paris were still hoping to become overgrown villages), the Muslim world in its first hundred-plus years after their Prophet had brought his revelations was divided over which branch of the Prophet's family tree should inherit the political leadership of the secular empire that had arisen, through the swords of Arab horsemen, on the momentum of the Prophet's achievement in the religious/philosophical/ideological sphere (as we would call it today).

      There were factions, there were battles, and basically the Sunni faction won, and got the empire, and political leadership in the Arab and Arab-influenced lands (i.e., not Iran) has basically remained in Sunni hands ever since.

      But the crucial point is, that these battles have NOT been continued in the Arab world over centuries, but have only re-awakened as deadly political battles in the last 50 or fewer years, under the pressures of un-relenting modernism affecting all aspects of Arab & Middle Eastern society, especially including the deletrious aspects of the urge towards "nationalism," which smaller and smaller communities become engaged in as an effort to protect themselves, yet which becomes a danger to all as hostile forms of nationalism is practiced by all.

      Again, the outcome of the Sunni-Shi'a battles of the early Caliphate period was NOT a tendency towards hatred, hostility, and continued violence. The Sunnis took the capital cities, but there were NO massacres of local populations who happened to prefer the Shi'a explanations and tendencies. Instead all the historic Middle Eastern empires allowed a pragmatic "federalism' in which each local area maintained its own local hierarchies, who protected their local citizens in their particularities of belief and practice, and who cooperated in the larger goals of maintaining trade and promoting the respective survival of their various communities and thus the survival of the current over-arching empire. The history of the Arab and other lands of the Middle East, before the colonial period, is NOT one of ever-brewing Sunni-Shi'a conflict. It is much more a pragmatic story of neighboring communities protecting their mutual interests with civil peace and negotiation of conflicts, while all submitted to various over-arching empires.

      When those over-arching empires went through their times of overthrow and re-establishment by a new elite, these events were generally carried out, with the great exception of the Mongol invasions, with relatively little civilian bloodshed and practically no disruption of local community fiefdoms.

      In my opinion, the history of the pre-colonial Middle East is an example that both "Western" and "Eastern" political leaders should be urged to imitate, and should not be twisted into a way of blaming Middle Eastern conflicts on local populations which cannot, in the mythmakers twisted ideology, think for themselves or change for themselves.

  • Top 7 Middle East Foreign Policy Challenges in 2016
    • philosophical ron 01/01/2016 at 6:04 am

      The ending of Point 1 is a truly brilliant summation of the actual historical situation created by milliions of independent human actors, thank you once again Juan.

      " It is clear now that neither side is likely to win a complete victory and years more fighting are unlikely to turn rural Sunni religious people into Baathists or Alawite Shiites into Salafis. Only by a negotiated end to the civil war and national elections can Syria be restored to order. Previous such conflict zones have been able to transition, if not to order, to a much less parlous situation, and there is no reason Syria cannot. Obama needs to put enormous pressure on Riyadh/ Ankara and on Moscow/Iran to get them to the negotiating table. It isn’t his instinct to buck a close ally or to put his own prestige on the line, which is why his Israel-Palestine diplomacy never went anywhere, but Syria is an even bigger threat to global order and indeed, to our civil liberties because of the terrorism emanating from it."

      Everyone interested in helping humanity survive the multiple crises we may have to face in coming decades, should be jumping on, and pumping up, Juan's point that "Only by a negotiated end to the civil war and national elections can Syria be restored to order."

    • I'm loving it so far, however a quick note about a typo in Point 1? I think you did what I always do at first, insert an opening parentheses and not follow it up with the closing parentheses.

      In this sentence: "But the Saudi-Turkey plan of turning multicultural Syria (maybe 14%-18% Shiite and 5% Christian and 10% leftist Kurds and 60% secular Sunnis) into a Taliban emirate is also impractical (and monstrous, since the other half of the population would end up ethnically cleansed. "

      there needs to be closing parentheses, I was taught that it should go after "cleansed" and before the period.

  • Rare victory for Freedom of speech in Turkey, as Pianist allowed to quote Omar Khayyam
    • philosophical ron 12/29/2015 at 5:52 pm

      To bring in a news flash I saw on BBC today, Turkish PM Erdogan's harsh reaction to a call by Kurdish activists for local government autonomy in the southeast Kurdish regions seems to be an extremely unhelpful development.

      When a leading Kurdish-identified politician repeated the call of a grassroots conference for eventual autonomy in Kurdish regions -- not demanding it immediately, just trying to bring up the issue for discussion -- Erdogan said the politician was committing "treason" and that he would be "taught a lesson."

      Most people and institutions that have survived their problems will say, in retrospect, that it is much easier to solve problems if you can at least discuss them.

      Which seems more likely: that Erdogan can learn something from this appellate court's judgement, or that Erdogan and his party will make sure the appellate court's decision does not stand?

  • What Islamophobia and ISIL/ Daesh have in Common: The Political Use of Fear
    • philosophical ron 12/13/2015 at 5:08 am

      Thank you very much for this cogent analysis, Prof. Buruma. It is very much appreciated.

      Fear is an important human behavior to focus on, as it operates on several different levels. Obviously it is a psychological behavior, tying into basic personality structures. Fear is also shaped by our explanations, our scientific and/or religious and/or philosophical explanations of what we think the world is all about. Fear also operates at the economic level, affecting our sense of economic values, and fear of course affects the political level of human behavior, majorly or minor-ly affecting our willingness to give respect, honor and status to some people over other people.

      So in all of these ways, fear is an extremely important factor in shaping the behavior of individuals and nations, when it becomes a deeply felt experience in a society's self-awareness.

  • If Defeating ISIL/ Daesh is so imp't, why isn't Ramadi Campaign all we're talking about?
    • philosophical ron 12/10/2015 at 6:26 am

      Another excellent report on the current state of reality among human beings, thank you so much Juan, your donation is coming. (I have realized that I have to pay for better media to continue to exist in the current environment. Do support your favorite web publishers on the political and cultural left!)

      Asking for "US cable news" to "bother... to notice that out there in the real world" actual news actually exists that viewers might actually be interested in, must, unfortunately, be counted as an act of folly. American mainstream media of all types have proved over and over that any story lines not approved by the politico-corporate masters will be ruthlessly ignored and unmentioned.

  • Roof, Dear and Tashfeen Malik: 'Self-Radicalized,' 'Terrorism,' 'Lone Wolf' and Double Standards
    • philosophical ron 12/05/2015 at 5:48 am

      Of course there is a firm and generally unchalenged double standard, both in official treatment and statements, and in media coverage, which seems to be at the root some especially American late 20th-early 21st Century institutional dysfunction.

  • How Turkish President Erdogan went Wrong: Dividing and Not Ruling
    • philosophical ron 12/04/2015 at 3:34 am

      Thank you, thank you once again, Juan, for this excellent original analysis of this difficult current historical situation.

  • Did Turkey send a deliberate message to Russia & was the US involved?
    • philosophical ron 11/28/2015 at 4:55 am

      And the point that I wanted to get to in my previous comment, was that both sides (but especially Turkey) have so much more to gain by eventually cooperating in a global culture of "we've all just got to get along, so we can solve serious problems that threaten us all."

      In addition to the challenges of possibly quite literally suffocating in our own waste products on a swiftly-warming planet, I do count the modern nation-state system that allows and excuses authoritarian and totalitarian nation-state governments (of all backgrounds and types) to exist and waste resources and lives as a serious problem that threatens us all.

      Obviously such ideals won't be easy or quick to achieve, hopefully we can at least get a start on before widespread environmental disasters thrust the necessity of cooperation between "ordained enemies" such as the Turks and the Kurds, or between American whites and American non-whites, ruthlessly in front of our faces.

    • philosophical ron 11/28/2015 at 4:29 am

      I'm 8000 miles away and I've always been 8000 miles away, however I've read a lot of history.

      The historical empires of ethnic Turks, culminating in the Ottoman empire, were never recorded as being particularly focused on, or bothered by, speakers of the Kurdish language. Militarily, they just rolled over all of their neighbors in their times of success. Also, it's important to remember that in history there were many, many small language-groups, local societies unconnected with any others, Central Europe alone had over 600 language groups as recently as the 1400's and 1500's, who were later gradually absorbed into Frenchmen, Germans, Poles, and so on. While I don't know any specifics about Anatolia, I suspect that today's Turks are almost certainly, and today's Kurds are probably highly likely to be, the results of a similar process.

      The modern Turkish state, in the last 40 years, has apparently become ultra-focused on opposing all possibilities any Kurdish success, anywhere, out of the fear of an eventual Kurdish seccession from Turkey. Yet like many other imperial-political-ethnic-conflict type situations around our world, it does seem that the intensity of that fear, and the steps taken to ward it off, become the primary cause of the eventual evolution/revolution.

  • Against Trump: 9/11 Muslim Candlelight vigils Sympathizing with US
    • philosophical ron 11/24/2015 at 4:53 am

      Thank you, very much, for helping spread this information.

      Is there any chance American TV networks ever mention this??

      NO. It really does seem that they are deliberately trying to make Americans more and more stupid, in both their choices of which "news" items to cover, and in their presentation of "entertainment" programs. I mean really, a guy takes a pill, and he's a super-dooper genius? The Devil is a real being, and he takes a corporeal form and hangs out in LA, being cool while all possible computer-generated chaos of property destruction happens all around him??

      They really are trying to make Americans more and more stupid all the time.

  • 'Very Soon' US forces will Arrive in Syria; Russia bombs near Turkey
    • philosophical ron 11/23/2015 at 6:24 am

      Count one involved aware American citizen very much in favor of Obama sending his special forces to work with the relatively left-wing -- and relatively enlightened in allowing female participation and leadership in their own social/military organization -- Kurds of the YPG grouping in Iraq and Syria. To the extent that they are NOT carrying out bombings within Turkey, they are a very positive local development in a region that is, to most outside observers, quite lacking in positive developments.

      Kurds and Turks, Sunnis and Shias, Arabs and Americans, all there groups are going to have to find a way to "all just get along" -- or we all going to be swept away by the "climate catastrophe" of suffocating in our own waste products, which I am increasingly convinced is quite upon us already.

      I retain my natural optimism, because I must, but unless we all start working together and not "against," CO2 is now at 4 % of the atmosphere when it was at 2.8 when I was a kid learning these things, we're not proving the "evolutionary advantages" of our so-called "Western Civilization." And Trump is close to Hilary in the polls. We're not that smart, and we may well be going down.

  • Dragon v. Eagle: China & the US compete for Eurasia
    • philosophical ron 11/23/2015 at 6:41 am

      Dear Pepe Escobar, thank you for an article with a possibly optimistic conclusion. (Sorry, I've come to view you as a pessimism-monger, a conspiracy-monger, after some of your past work.)

      If Americans are ready for a future leader who welcomes a future with "the G-20 as a multipolar global mechanism for coordinating a common development framework" and that "Within it, Washington and Beijing might sometimes actually work together in a world in which chess, not Battleship, would be the game of the century," I'm here, tanned, rested and ready.

  • Is Daesh/ ISIL a modern Raiding Pirate state?
  • Splintering World: Looking Back on the Great Collapse from 2050
    • philosophical ron 11/12/2015 at 2:00 pm

      I'll give it a B+ for dystopian speculation. In my own work, however, I prefer to focus on how the great trends of both greater unity and cooperation in human affairs, and of disunity and fragmentation in human affairs, are usually occurring simultaneously, starting at the most personal level of our basic choices (and tracing how these choices do in fact create our psychologies, our philosophies, and the political and economic aspects of our human societies).

      It is very difficult to track all this at the individual level, yet it can be done if we care. And of course all these individual choices do end up aggregating across societies, to produce the grand historical trends that historians like to point to. Feffer presents an interesting picture, I suspect the actual "working-out" of the future will be even messier, with trends and counter-trends exploding in all directions, for those who are trying to see them.

  • Iran's Attendance at Syria talks in Vienna marks its Emergence as Regional Power
    • philosophical ron 10/29/2015 at 4:22 am

      A very positive summary of what I, for one, consider a very positive development in world affairs.

      Nothing may come of it quickly, but at least they are talking, and I absolutely favor whatever political/diplomatic sausage-making is necessary to getting to goal of avoiding massacres of civilian populations being the primary result of any non-negotiated, one side victorious ending of the Syrian Civil Wars.

      Or should we call it the Syrian descent into the Anarchy of A Thousand Militias? One things the powers could do to help the way forward, would be to offer a $10 billion fund to buy up guns at high prices in the region, how many frustrated tired soldiers might go back to a more civilian life with the promise of some cash n hand?

      And is it too soon or too cheeky to give credit for the willingness of the Powers to congregate in the face of cross-continental crisis, to a more assertive public involvement, thanks to a global penetration of some sort of "internet culture?"

  • Does Obama have a Syria Strategy? Putin Does.
    • philosophical ron 10/12/2015 at 4:42 am

      You write, " So the US is irrelevant to the major military development on the ground in Syria in the past year!"

      From the viewpoint of this US citizen, that's OK!

      The Defense Department of the U.S. may feel a need to be "relevant" to the Syrian civil war; yet I would love to develop the argument that ordinary citizens of the US have no interest in being, and no need to be, "relevant" to the Syrian civil war.

      You note that Russia may be getting itself into a "long run ... quagmire," yet also write that Russian efforts to defend regime territory are an "achievement."

      I would love to know the innermost thoughts of all Syrians, of all factions and grouplets and clan fragments, on whether foreign powers need to be seeking "achievements" in the on-going civil war. I'm guessing the majority would not see much need for such "achievements."

      At this point, the only red line in any eventual settlement (whether achieved by internal Syrian forces or by regional and/or global power intervention) must be "No Massacres of Any Civilian Population." All other items in any eventual settlement are negotiable. It would be great if such a settlement could be reached (mainly or only) by Syrian actors , but what ordinary citizens of all lands need is some sort of effort towards a settlement by anybody and/or everybody.

  • Deal with Saudis? Why does the US care if Russia bombs al-Qaeda and its Allies in Syria?
    • philosophical ron 10/03/2015 at 4:45 am

      You write, "Saudi Arabia and Turkey support the Army of Conquest, which is heavily al-Qaeda."

      Two of America's 'best allies' in the Middle East apparently believe that an ideological commitment to Sunni forms
      of Islam over Shi'a forms of Islam (including murdering people who disagree with you over these preferences) is a good basis for policy. And thus end up supporting people with guns who would also wish to overthrow their own regimes in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

      Many of the people in the Middle East, and most of the people in the rest of the world, are intelligent enough to see the foolishness of this path. They will need much help to develop and grow a local-based political consciousness that rejects the strongly authoritarian governments that exist throughout the region -- the governments which are
      keeping conflicts going, on and on, and on, just because it might benefit some local elite class, some day in some way.

      And American political activists will have to work harder to make sure that even Democratic presidential administrations do NOT get sucked into supporting one side or another in such ancient religious conflicts in faraway lands.

  • Syria: Is Bashar al-Assad winning the Diplomatic War? Rebels Fret
    • philosophical ron 09/28/2015 at 4:11 am

      " oonnved" is not in my dictionary. You were going for "connived, perhaps, or "maneuvered" ?

  • Iranian Activists Call On Iran To End Support For Syria's Assad
    • philosophical ron 09/27/2015 at 1:02 pm

      This stance by Iranian activists, some of whom know exactly the type of repression they face for it, is a true act of political courage.

      Comparing their action to US Senator Ted Cruz in another posting here today, it shows that he is nothing but an irresponsible, irrational demagogue, fomenting international strife for his own narrow (and very short-term) advantage

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