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Phoenix Woman

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  • Dozens Killed by Regime Barrel Bombs in Aleppo, half of them Children
  • Top Five Wind Energy Successes Today
    • Meanwhile, the Solar Roadways people are putting the finishing touches on their solar parking lot test bed:

      link to facebook.com

      Just replacing currently paved roads with Solar Road panels would, in the US alone, generate enough power to run the globe three times over. (And that's assuming only 4 hours of usable sunlight per day.)

      Go check them out here: http://www.solarroadways.com

      They may be what saves us all.

  • "Argo" as Orientalism and why it Upsets Iranians
    • "The difference between “Argo” and Stone’s “Untold History” series is “Argo” does not purport to be history"

      But you, I, and the people who made it know full well that the people who go to see it will consider it to be history.

  • Dear Rick Perry: Would Teddy Roosevelt have extended Medicaid to all? (Poster)
    • Most people of TR's time were if anything far more racist than he, and imperialism was celebrated openly as "manifest destiny". Judged by the standards of his day, TR was just this side of a Socialist -- and as far as Standard Oil was concerned, he *was* a Socialist.

    • Simon: Most people of TR's time were if anything far more racist than he. This was a time when lynchings were done in broad daylight in busy public squares: link to kganu.net By comparison TR was a bleeding-heart liberal.

  • Mideast Twitter: Gulf Giants, Arab Spring Midgets
    • A lot depends on the Tweet content. In my admittedly limited experience, most Arab Spring countries' Twitter users that I've seen don't sit around chatting about their cats all day -- they talk politics.

  • Top Ten Differences Between Rick Santorum and JFK
  • The Difference between Romney and Obama (Picture)
    • Yes, the Xcel Center is a hockey arena. Obama still filled the thing to overflowing.

      The other thing to notice is how, with the exception of South Carolina where the anti-Mitt vote coalesced behind Gingrich in a massive effort to keep Romney from steamrollering his way to a gimme nomination, the primary turnout in 2012 has either been similar to or markedly less than that of 2008.

      The Republicans don't like the Clown Car of GOP candidates, either.

  • Marsh on Obama: The Party's Over
    • Actually, most of the PUMA/"Hillary would have given us single payer by now" folk generally dislike FDL because they think FDL was and still is in the tank for Obama, even as the pro-Obama folk keep claiming FDL was always in the tank for Hillary.

      The truth is that FDL institutionally wasn't in the tank for anyone. Different writers had different preferences -- mine was for Edwards, and we saw how that turned out (yick).

      As for whether there's a dime's bit of difference between Hillary, Barack and Joe: Far from being the Great Left Hope, she wouldn't be in Obama's Cabinet if she didn't match up with him ideologically. In fact, it was the influence exerted by longtime friend and paid shill for fascists and dictators, Lanny Davis, that led to her and Obama's deciding not to do anything concrete to save Manuel Zelaya from being overthrown by a vicious corporatist coup for the "crime" of daring to raise Honduras' minimum wage; Obama was going to step in to save Zelaya, but then Lanny cleared his golpista-subsidized throat and suddenly Zelaya was on his own.

  • Top Ten Myths about the Arab Spring of 2011
    • It's precisely because the world has been put on high alert about the plans to bomb Iran -- and particularly Netanyahu's and Lieberman's (Avigdor, not Joe, though they do seem interchangeable) trying to get the US to do their dirty work for them by playing the "we'll do it if you don't" card -- that Iran hasn't been bombed. Yet.

      Of course, bombing Shia-dominated Iran by either Israel or the US would mean that the life of any US citizen in Shia-dominated Iraq would be forfeit. The main reason that Iraq didn't become Corregidor on steroids for the US was because of the truce upheld by Moqtada al-Sadr, for which he was thanked by being demonized by the neocons and their media shills.

  • Post-American Iraq by the Numbers
    • Here is your project for the evening:

      1) Go to link to riverbendblog.blogspot.com and start from the beginning.

      2) Notice that the frequency of posts starts to drop off.

      3) Notice that problems with electricity and water, almost nonexistent prior to the invasion, come to rule everyday life even for wealthier families like hers.

      4) Notice that the author, a female Baghdad resident of a mixed Sunni-Shiite family, went from being able to take the bus safely to her job as a computer programmer, while wearing jeans and listening to her Walkman, to losing her job, her ability to wear jeans, even her ability to go outside without heavy covering or an escort of male family members.

      4) Notice that they tried to leave once, had to come back, then left yet again for Syria.

      5) Notice that the last blog entry is October 22, 2007.

      I strongly suspect Riverbend is no longer alive -- or is living a life so hellish she either cannot document it or would not want to document it.

      Now what was that you were saying about blaming the US for Iraq's troubles?

  • Hizbullah Leader Condemns Syrian Opposition
    • The best thing at this point would have been for Nasrullah to have kept his mouth shut. But I'm sure Assad's been demanding something from Hizbullah in exchange for all the patronage Assad has given them over the years.

      Now that Hizbullah has shown itself to be opposed to the Arab Spring, at least in its Syrian manifestation, it will be interesting to see what happens. If this had occurred six months ago, it might have meant the end of the movement. Now, I suspect it might eventually lead to the end of Hizbullah.

  • Wagging the Dog with Iran's Maxwell Smart
  • Top Ten Good News Green Energy Stories
  • Free Libya plans Tripoli Uprising as Doha Conference Urges More Help to Civilians
    • Gaddafi wasn’t “narrowly targeting” them until NATO stepped in:

      link to democracynow.org

      By the way, what do you call starving a whole city: rebels, civilians, everyone? Is that "narrowly targeting" rebel fighters?

      From Juan's post above, just in case you didn't read it:

      In the meantime, the pro-TNC cities had some better news on Wednesday, as they pushed pro-Qaddafi attackers back from the downtown area in Misrata, and those in the besieged city of Zintan attacked the enemy position on a hill nearby. Qaddafi had massed tanks outside both western cities and made an attempt to invade and reduce them, as he had Zawiya and Zuara on the western cost. NATO airstrikes on the tanks and other heavy weaponry and on government weapons depots have slowed or stopped the deadly advance of Qaddafi in Misrata and Zintan. While the action has saved hundreds or thousands of lives, it has not stopped the bombardment of civilians or halted the siege of the two urban areas. Qaddafi has cut off water, food and medicine to Misrata in hopes of forcing it to surrender to him. These measures, applied to a civilian population area for purposes, are a crime against humanity.

      UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in the meantime, said that a humanitarian crisis looms in Libya. Nearly half a million Libyans have been made refugees by the regime’s attacks on urban areas already, and over time over half of Libya’s 6.5 million people may need urgent humanitarian aid if the fighting continues.

  • Questions for Glenn Greenwald on Libya and the end of NATO
  • Afghan Protests against Qur'an-Burning cause Deaths
    • The mainstream media, in fact, stopped giving this guy coverage after his stunt last year, in the hope that word of his antics wouldn't reach those Middle Eastern extremists willing to use him as a pretext for their actions.

      Once again, the extremist Terry Jones and the extremists in Al-Qaeda are acting as each other's best friends, to the detriment of every one else.

  • Answer to Glenn Greenwald
    • Gaddafi, Mubarak all the other Middle Eastern dictators extant at the start of the year have fought against the Arab Spring tooth and nail. They have strong shared interests. link to blogs.cfr.org

      That's why the Saudis wouldn't do what Obama asked of them and supply arms to the Libyan rebels, even though Gaddafi tried to kill King Abdullah not that long ago. That's also why the Saudis sent troops to prop up Bahrain's authoritarian government.

      If Gaddafi goes down -- he, who is dug in hard and who (unlike Egypt's Mubarak, who had to be careful not to utterly destroy Egypt's lucrative tourist trade) has little reason to want or need approval from the outside world, so long as he has his friends in Russia and Venezuela -- then even someone like Syria's Assad could fall. And the leaders of Yemen and Bahrain, who are far less dug in and far less likely to do things like make bombing runs against largely unarmed and peaceful protesters, are far more likely than Assad or Gaddafi to fall without outside help.

    • So in other words, because we didn't intervene in Rwanda we shouldn't intervene in Libya?

      By the way: Libya only has 2% of the world's oil. Between the Saudis' ability to boost production and Japan's disaster-induced cutback in oil usage, it's not going to be a game-changer if that oil's taken off the market.

    • Unfortunately, by the time March 2003 rolled around, the AUMF had long since passed and the invasion wasn't going to be stopped by anything short of physically removing Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz and Andrew Card from their respective offices. (I myself thought it a bad omen when Paul Wellstone, who strongly opposed the invasion plans, was killed in a plane crash in late October of 2002, a week before the election. Wellstone was winning in the polls despite the "conventional wisdom" that opposing the Bush invasion was political suicide; even though the Authorization to Use Military Force had already passed earlier in October, he may have actually slowed if not stopped the invasion plans long enough for Joe Wilson to provide the full debunking of the "Saddam caused 9/11 and has WMD" nonsense.)

      Dunno how Prof. Cole feels about this over eight years later, but to me, the quote above, written when the coalition troops were already on their way and aerial bombardments started, sounds very much like what I'd heard coming from a lot of military families at that time: They protested strongly and loudly in the weeks and months up to that point, but once the invasion started they felt it was their duty to support it, or at least their sons and daughters and other loved ones involved in it.

      Furthermore, the people who like to cite the March 19, 2003 statement of Prof. Cole's don't seem to like citing one he made on March 24, 2003 -- less than a week later (emphases mine):

      *As usual in war reporting, I already have to take back some of what I said yesterday. It seems increasingly clear that the Bush administration rushed into war with Iraq before its military was really ready. ...

      [...]

      ... The war is already interfering with the harvesting of winter crops and the planting of spring ones. Some 60% of Iraqis are dependent on outside food aid because of the “food for oil” program under UN sanctions against Saddam.

      *An estimated 70,000 marched against the US war in Lahore, Pakistan (vastly exaggerated numbers ten times that were floated by the organizers, though AP said it was 200,000. Crowds are easy to over-estimate). The fundamentalist religious leaders denounced the Iraq war as a crime against humanity and a plot against Islam. The Iraq war is universally unpopular in Pakistan, as in most of the Muslim world. The difference is that with the return to quasi-parliamentary government, Pakistan has not attempted to prevent these demonstrations, which so far have been peaceful. If 200,000 Egyptians or Jordanians could come out for rallies, they certainly would. There are two big dangers here. One is that the fundamentalists will parlay their leadership of the protests into genuine national political standing and ultimately manage to come to power. (These people are unrepentent supporters of the Taliban and al-Qaeda). The other is that anti-Americanism will become so widespread and vehement that the Pakistani government will find it difficult to continue cooperating in the war on terror. The Rumsfelds and Wolfowitzes think you can have your cake and eat it, too. I am not so sure.

    • That was back in April of 2002, back when the plans were first announced and most persons were still willing (thanks to 9/11) to give Bush the benefit of the doubt on military issues (and the news media was largely trumpeting without question the "Saddam caused 9/11" canard that many Americans believe to this day).

      But Prof. Cole was a good deal less sanguine by January of 2003, two months before the invasion was launched:

      Those who support an Iraq war argue that the potential negative fall-out consists of improbable scenarios that are no more likely to come to fruition than did the dire forecasts about overthrown Arab regimes in 1990. They argue that if we can get a genuinely democratic, modern Iraq out of the war, its beneficial effects will radiate throughout the region. They may be right. But it is worth remembering that we were promised a democratic Kuwait in 1991 and a democratic, stable Afghanistan in 2002, and have yet to see either.

    • David Swanson also is against war in general -- yes, even the "good war" of World War II. From his War Is A Lie website:

      “David Swanson has taken the mantle of AJ Muste, who had the guts and the audacity to declare World War II to have been unnecessary and wrong. Swanson takes Muste’s argument further to make the audacious claim that all wars are not just unnecessary, but a crime. He is correct, of course. Just as no good outcome (whether the ouster of a tyrant or the freeing of captive nations) can compensate for the death of millions of innocents, which of course is the argument made in defense of calling World War II a ‘good’ war, no good (whether the ousting of a tyrant or the claimed improvement in the rights of oppressed women) can compensate for the death of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq or of tens of thousands of innocents in Afghanistan. This is a book that every American should read, especially those who think the United States is the good guy.” — Dave Lindorff , journalist, author of The Case for Impeachment, and founder of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening!

    • Yeah. As bad as it's got in Yemen and Bahrain, it's an order or two of magnitude worse in Libya. It's so bad that the UK and France fear massive waves of refugees, which may well be the key reason they've pushed so hard for military action.

  • Cole/ Van den Heuvel on Libya: Nation Podcast
  • Women's Rallies in Libya Protest Rape
    • Ah, but condoms can be excused because they keep the man from getting disease, you see. It's why they aren't quite as frowned upon by religious authorities as are things like diaphragms and birth control pills. (The first condoms were created not to protect women from pregnancy, but men from disease.)

    • Meanwhile, speaking of ultranationalist Serbs -- guess who they're rooting for? Yup, Milosevic's old ally, Gaddafi: link to rferl.org (That's right, folks: Milosevic was buddies with Gaddafi before Gaddafi was "cool" as a reborn "anti-terrorist".)

      And of course who's lurking in the background in Serbian affairs, enabling their ultranationalism? Why, the country of that cuddly old KGB head, Vladimir Putin: link to rferl.org

    • Posting atrocity stories is a cop-out? I thought it was documenting what was happening. If he didn't post them, you'd probably be saying "see, you're not posting any evidence of Gaddafi's misdeeds, so he must not be making any".

      And yes, there are atrocities aplenty -- nearly two thousand in the week from February 17 to February 25 alone:

      link to democracynow.org

  • Rebels take Back Oil Centers as Tripoli suffers Gasoline Crisis
  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • The honest ones admit that's it not about oil or Al Qaeda or because we haven't done the same for Bahrain or Yemen or Ivory Coast -- it's because of the money and the fact that it will be used as an excuse to slash more of America's social safety net. (Which is indeed a real concern, and why if I were in Congress I'd try to push for undoing the Bush tax cuts so we can pay for it. Never before Bush has the US ever cut taxes during a war.)

    • Heh! Funny, does that mean Michael Gerson's a lefty? Try again, sir.

      As Jon Stewart showed recently, the US conservatives were agitating for a no-fly zone only so long as they thought Obama was going to resist calling for one. When he finally acquiesced to France and the UK's persuasions, they suddenly all did 180s or attacked him for letting furriners lead the effort.

    • And the group, LIFG, that's usually waved about like a banner by anti-interventionists as "proof" that Al Qaeda controls the rebels, is not the only rebel group -- there are over twenty of them. It's not even the acknowledged leader of the rebel groups; that would be <a href="link to phoenixwoman.wordpress.com National Front for Salvation in Libya, which was formed in 1981, well before Osama bin Laden ever dreamed up Al Qaeda.

    • Thanks for showing that the straw men aren't people that Prof. Cole allegedly invented.

    • That's likely part of it -- perhaps at the root of it. But in American opposition to involvement, as was pointed out below, another factor is the very real likelihood that rather than do something sensible like raise taxes to pay for the intervention, it will be used as a pretext for more cuts in the already hacked-to-ribbons social safety net in order to "fix" the deficit.

      Of course, saying that "we can't afford this war" out loud, while popular among the right-wing opponents of intervention, is comparatively rare among those opposing it from the left, probably out of fear that admitting to it makes one look callous and cruel. I suspect that's why one's far more likely to see lefty opposition couched in terms of worrying that Al Qaeda runs the rebel movement and will turn it over to bin Laden tout de suite, even though the main opposition group cited as having Al Qaeda ties isn't the only opposition group or even the most powerful one.

    • That's an interesting take, especially as various people insist that Egypt and the Saudis are funneling tons of arms to the rebels:

      link to upi.com

      link to associatedcontent.com

      I've never been able to understand why the Saudis, who fear the spread of the Arab Spring so much that they've sent troops to Bahrain to crush it there, would be willing to aid the Libyan rebels carrying the Arab Spring virus -- and sure enough, they've so far refused to do so even though they despise Gaddafi intensely:

      Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a "day of rage" from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington's highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago.

    • In fact, one of the reasons that France and the UK pushed for the NFZ is because they feared being overrun by an influx of tens of thousands of Libyans fleeing the Gaddafi crackdown.

    • What do you think's been happening to dissidents in Iraq in places he controls? Google "Gaddafi crackdown thousands" sometime to see what's been happening just since February 17.

    • Thanks for your honesty. It is definitely a valid reason, perhaps the most valid reason of all that are given, but not many people dare admit to it openly as it's not as noble-sounding as, say, opposing aiding the rebels because you think they're led by Al Qaeda.

      Which reminds me -- the group that is invariably pointed to as evidence that Al Qaeda runs the rebels is not only not the only Libyan rebel group, it's not even the most powerful, oldest or most respected. That honor belongs to the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, one of whose members, Khalifa Hifter, is the rebels' military commander:

      link to phoenixwoman.wordpress.com

    • "1. There is no singular left or progressive position in opposition to going to war in Libya. Don’t try and justify it by reference to artificial constructs about opposition to the war, and then argue against them."

      Except you then go on to show that at least one of his "artificial constructs" (and very likely all three) is indeed being espoused by at least one anti-interventionist lefty, namely you. (Unless you're really a Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan libertarian, which I somehow doubt.)

      As for other real-life, non-straw examples of all three of his "artificial constructs", go here.

    • Please feel free to list them -- one of the big arguments the anti-interventionists on the left are using is that the Republicans are all for it and so that automatically makes it wrong. (In fact, most Republicans and conservatives like Michael Gerson are pretty much for any old war, and seem to object mainly to the idea of letting France and the UK lead the coalition; though as Jon Stewart pointed out last week, it's amazing how many Republicans that were bludgeoning Obama for not backing a no-fly zone have suddenly changed their stance once he did start backing it.)

    • "There is a reason why Cole doesn't directly mention Bahrain and Yemen."

      Actually, there are likely two (2) reasons: #1 -- doing so would make an already-lengthy blog post into a novella, and #2 -- He's already mentioned them at length recently.

      Example #1, Bahrain, 03/14/11:

      Bahrain police abruptly broke up a peaceful demonstration in downtown Manama on Sunday, deploying tear gas and rubber bullets at close range.
      Despite warnings by US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates that half-measures are insufficient, the Sunni Bahrain monarchy has found itself unable to offer any substantial concessions to the Shiite citizen majority.

      [...]

      The Guardian goes further and reports that the Bahrain government may ask Saudi troops to come in to quell the protests. This step would be a game-changer in Bahrain, and it is hard to see how the Sunni monarchy could retain any legitimacy at all among its Shiite subjects if it took this desperate step.

      Example #2, Yemen, 03/19/11:

      Thousands of protesters in Yemen mounted a massive protest in the capital of Sanaa on Friday, but ran into a trap set by government forces, which fired on them from rooftops and killed 46, wounding some two hundred. It is alleged that the troops set tires on fire and created walls of flame with gasoline, trapping the crowds and allowing snipers to fire into them as though they were fish in a barrel.
      Thousands of protesters nevertheless stood their ground at what they have dubbed ‘Maidan at-Taghyir’ (Change Square, a pun on Cairo’s Tahrir or Liberation Square). Some invaded government buildings and laid hands on the snipers.
      As news of the massacre spread throughout Yemen, thousands of protesters came out in provincial cities, as well.
      President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared a state of emergency, as a member of his cabinet resigned in disgust, the first to do so.

    • Actually, the arguments deployed by the anti-interventionists have been worse than that: The chief one, similar to the "Kosovoar Muslims are all skanky drug dealing mobsters who beat their women" argument from 1999, has been the "Libyan rebels are either all hardened Al Qaeda fighters who have killed many US troops or are led by hardened Al Qaeda fighters", when in fact the most effective military commanders have been former officers in Gaddafi's military, many of whom defected when Gaddafi started executing officers for failing to attack their own people.

    • Except that he did explain why he thought it bizarre -- you chose not to listen.

      Here is what he wrote right after he wrote "This argument [that it's all about the oil] is bizarre:

      The US declined to do oil business with Libya in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s, when it could have, because it had placed the country under boycott. It didn’t want access to that oil market, which was repeatedly proffered to Washington by Qaddafi then. After Qaddafi came back in from the cold in the late 1990s (for the European Union) and after 2003 (for the US), sanctions were lifted and Western oil companies flocked into the country. US companies were well represented, along with BP and the Italian firm ENI. BP signed an expensive exploration contract with Qaddafi and cannot possibly have wanted its validity put into doubt by a revolution. There is no advantage to the oil sector of removing Qaddafi. Indeed, a new government may be more difficult to deal with and may not honor Qaddafi’s commitments. There is no prospect of Western companies being allowed to own Libyan petroleum fields, which were nationalized long ago. Finally, it is not always in the interests of Big Oil to have more petroleum on the market, since that reduces the price and, potentially, company profits. A war on Libya to get more and better contracts so as to lower the world price of petroleum makes no sense in a world where the bids were already being freely let, and where high prices were producing record profits. I haven’t seen the war-for-oil argument made for Libya in a manner that makes any sense at all.

    • Exactly. We have to go into this with clear eyes, and not as the Bush people did as a pretext to find cushy gigs for otherwise-unemployable ideological hacks (see also: Paul Bremer, CPA).

      But this argument cuts both ways: The same people that, for instance, brush off troubling evidence of Hugo Chavez' less-than-stellar commitment to democracy (and I say that as someone who admires what he's done for the poor majority in his nation and cheered when he beat back the coup attempt against him) cannot then go and put the Libyan rebels under the microscope they refused to use on Chavez.

    • Oh, really? Want some examples? Here you go:

      1. Absolute pacifism (the use of force is always wrong) --

      David Swanson, author of War is a Lie, about which a favorable review from Dave Lindorff states "David Swanson has taken the mantle of AJ Muste, who had the guts and the audacity to declare World War II to have been unnecessary and wrong. Swanson takes Muste’s argument further to make the audacious claim that all wars are not just unnecessary, but a crime."

      (I'm a little surprised that Nicholson Baker of Human Smoke infamy hasn't shown up to try and worm his way back into polite society with a similar argument, but I guess he might need a little more time and preparation.)

      2. Absolute anti-imperialism (all interventions in world affairs by outsiders are wrong) --

      Hell, I don't even have to go outside the comments in this thread for examples of that one.

      3. Anti-military pragmatism: a belief that no social problems can ever usefully be resolved by use of military force.” --

      Again, I don't even have to go outside the comments in this thread for examples of that one.

      So it looks like the straw men you say you see are actually clothed in flesh and blood.

    • Thanks for mentioning Rwanda. One of the reasons former president Bill Clinton has cited for intervention in Kosovo was because the US and the rest of the world, stung by Somalia, didn't intervene in Rwanda until it was too late and over 800,000 had died. But you never hear the words "Rwanda" or "Kosovo" brought up in these discussions much lately, perhaps because they dilute the intense efforts being made to make "Libya" equate exactly with "Iraq".

    • Ah, so you're saying that Iraq and Libya are exactly the same?

      How did you feel about Kosovo? Or World War II, for that matter? Take your time, I'll wait.

    • How about Kosovo 1999? You know, where we intervened militarily to save Muslims with air power alone and it worked?

    • Oh, indeed. If I were in Congress, I'd be pushing this as why we need to repeal the Bush tax cuts and slap on a surtax. Never before the Bush years has America ever cut taxes during wartime; under Bush, they were cut not once but twice. But of course if I'd ever made it to Congress, any such ability to think outside the box like this would have likely been beaten out of me.

    • If it's about reducing the supply and driving up the price, then it's not working very well: The price has dropped nearly twenty cents a gallon in my neck of the woods since the war started -- largely as a result of the Japanese triple disasters taking down a big chunk of Japan's industrial output for at least the next two years, if not longer.

      But that's a refreshingly different theory. Usually, the theory's that the great powers are doing it to keep oil flowing cheaply, not more expensively. (Though why the great powers would want to further endanger their already-tottering economies by forcing up oil prices is something this "make it more pricey" theory doesn't explain.)

    • "Where are all the demonstrators chanting ‘we are all Libyans, Yemenis, Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese(and on and on)now?’"

      They're all telling each other that the Libyan rebels are simultaneously deadly nasty highly skilled/committed Al Qaeda bombers and incompetent hacks numbering fewer than a thousand.

      It's Kosovo redux, with the same old "it's all about the oil and the victims are icky Muslim scumbags anyway" arguments being made; all that's been done, it seems, is that the old-anti Kosovo rants are dusted off and edited to have "Libyan rebels" replacing "Kosovar Muslims" and "Al Qaeda suicide bombers" replacing "gangsters and drug dealers".

    • Oh, exactly. One can back military action that was made necessary by the failure to act non-militarily, and still lament its necessity.

    • But the price of oil is dropping already, in large part because of the huge hit the quake, tsunami and nuclear disasters have inflicted on Japan's people, factories, and electrical grid, which has resulted in a severe drop in oil demand from a major oil user.

      In addition, the nuclear disaster at Fukushima has spurred the nations you mention into working ever harder to transition to renewables and away from coal, oil and nuclear power. Angela Merkel, in a complete turnaround from her previous stance and in what has turned out to be a failed bid to stave off election defeat in a key German state and Conservative Party stronghold, promised last week to work to wean Germany off nuclear power and onto wind, solar and geothermal energy as soon as possible.

  • Libyan Liberation Movement Strikes Back as NATO Comes to the Rescue
  • Top Ten Accomplishments of the UN No-Fly Zone
    • Ah, you remember that too? I thought I was the only one. Republicans alternated between screaming "Wag The Dog! Wag The Dog!" and claiming that air power alone couldn't dislodge Milosevic. (That is, when they weren't wondering out loud why US Christians were fighting for icky Serb-Croatian Muslims: link to glypx.com)

    • At least 1400, possibly as many as 2000, just in the week from February 17 to February 25:

      link to presstv.ir (the 1400 figure)

      link to democracynow.org (the 2000 figure)

      Meanwhile, despite state-run media claims of huge death tolls from coalition airstrikes, there's scant evidence (if any) to back this up: link to csmonitor.com

    • The War Powers Act requires Congressional approval for troops to be deployed for more than 60 days, with a 30-day period allowed for withdrawal. And considering that the same Republicans such as McCain that were egging Obama on are now pretending they opposed it from the start, it's highly unlikely that they'll give their approval.

    • As the neocons never tire of reminding us, the US had to be dragged into this by France and the UK. As Robert Fisk pointed out weeks ago, Obama wanted to get the Saudis to give arms to the rebels so he wouldn't have to get involved militarily, but the Saudis have so far refused as they want Libya to be where the Arab Spring dies out before reaching them.

      As for Libya, it only has 2% of the world's oil. Granted, oil is a lucrative enough commodity that even 2% of world production has allowed Gaddafi over forty years to put together an immense personal fortune -- even after freezing nearly $30 billion of his US assets, he's still left with around $6 billion in gold bars stashed in Tripoli, enough bars to keep paying his mercenaries for a while -- but 2% is an amount the Saudis, for instance, can easily make up by increasing production. In addition, with Japan's industrial production curtailed as a result of their earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, their demands on Libya's oil will be correspondingly decreased, making Libyan oil less important. (Notice how prices at the pump are already creeping down from their highs of a few weeks ago?)

    • From Democracy Now!, one week after Gaddafi started cracking down on February 17:

      link to democracynow.org

      JUAN GONZALEZ: Sure. Well, we’ll turn to Libya first. On Thursday, as fighting intensified around the capital city of Tripoli, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi planned al-Qaeda and hallucinogenic drugs for the uprising in the country. Fighting between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces appears to be the most intense in al-Zawiya, 30 miles west of the capital. Clashes have also been reported in other parts of the country, including in Misurata, Libya’s third-largest city.The Obama administration has said the situation in Libya "demands quick action." The U.N. Security Council is meeting today to discuss possible sanctions as the violence in Libya continues. Some rights officials estimate the death toll could be as high as 2,000.According to reports, protesters are preparing for their first organized demonstration in Tripoli today. The New York Times reports residents have received text messages informing them of a protest throughout the city. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera Arabic reports Gaddafi’s security forces are deployed around mosques to prevent protests after Friday prayers.

      Up to two thousand people in the space of a week. And that was a month ago.

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
    • Please send this to Michael Moore. He's been trying to imply that the Libyan rebels are icky 'cuz some of them (some of the slim minority who actually know how to use rifles, much less operate tanks or planes) may have been part of Al Qaeda!!! In Iraq!!! (He glosses over the fact that Gaddafi's been importing mercenaries from Chad and elsewhere, and the fact that the Taliban, Al-Qaeda's best buds, have denounced both the rebellion and the aid given by the West to the rebels.)

  • French Jets Defend Benghazi
    • I don't think that'll happen, for the simple reason that there are two things in Libya that didn't exist in Iraq: A strong popular support (verging on begging) for outside military intervention, and a growingly-cohesive rebel government made up in large part of former Gaddafi officials who couldn't stomach him and his sons any more. It's not just Ahmad Chalabi whispering in Doug Feith's ear about flowers and candy.

      Go follow Mona Eltahawy on Twitter. You'll soon see.

    • 1) You haven't been reading Prof. Cole much, it would seem. Or if you have, you haven't exactly learned a lot.

      2) As for whether Gaddafi's officers will turn: A lot of them already have; that's why the rebellion wasn't put down three weeks ago. Hell, most of his diplomatic corps has -- and they can't come home now until they know he can't kill them.

      Outside of the ones in his own tribe, his main officers are there mainly because a) he and his sons have a few billions of dollars between them, and they pay well; and b) they're afraid of what might happen to them should they turn. But with Europe and the US now neutralizing his planes and tanks, suddenly what looked like a sure win for them two days ago has flipped the other way.

      By the way, during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US' initial job was made a lot easier when a lot of generals, persuaded by money offered them by the US (link to pakdef.info), surrendered rather than fight to the death. It would not surprise me in the least to see if Gaddafi's remaining generals might wish for similar handouts in order to minimize bloodshed.

  • What if? and the Meltdown Threat
    • Hell, there are all sorts of alternatives to nukes.

      Scott Brusaw's "Solar Roadways" concept (www.solarroadways.com) regularly gets mocked by people who have no idea of what glass can do, yet a version of it, independently designed and invented, is being installed on Dutch bike paths right now:

      link to egyptianfish.org

      For the price of a single nuke plant, we could have a few thousand test miles of solar roadways up and running today. Wherever there was pavement, there'd be power -- for home use, industrial use, transportation.

  • Top Ten Accomplishments of Egypt Demonstrators
    • They feel they have no other choice, no other options. They know full well that they either win now or die trying -- Mubarak, if allowed to stay in power, will not let them live, much less live peacefully.

      But the longer this drags on, the more it hurts the businessmen whose financial backing Mubarak needs. Egypt's economy is being hit by the exact equivalent of a massive general strike. The thugs beating up the protesters are doing so because they're paid to do so; what happens when they're no longer paid?

    • This is where Mubarak's indiscriminate harassment of the foreign press has backfired; setting thugs on FOX camera crews is not a good idea if you want America's conservatives wholeheartedly on your side.

      CNN's coverage in particular has been -- at least on the issue of Egypt -- been affected by the wholesale attacks on its staff, to the point where it now tells the story straight, emphasizing that the lion's share of violence in Egypt is coming from, and resulting from, attacks by pro-Mubarak forces, most of whom are paid to do what they're doing. CNN's become nearly as indispensable as Al Jazeera English, with the added advantage that most US cable and satellite TV providers haven't banned it.

    • Not at all. They knew they were marked for death the moment they entered the square. Every one of the persons who joins them -- and thousands do so every day -- know this.

      They know perfectly well that they are dead if they leave Tahrir. Only the removal of Mubarak and his associates can allow them to live.

      But the longer the uprisings in Tahrir and elsewhere continue, the longer Egypt's economy stays stopped. It's a general strike now, and the business community wants it over. Violence has been tried, and all it does is make more people join the protesters.

      Now the régime and its business partners are trying fake reforms, but the protesters aren't fooled. They know they're dead anyway, they may as well make their deaths meaningful -- and in fact doing what they're doing is their only possible route to survival, much less freedom.

  • No News is Good News (for Them)
  • White Terrorism
    • Yup. Compare the dozens of examples of right-wing-fomented hate attacks, many resulting in deaths, over the last two and a half years, to the one (1) example of lefty naughtiness the righty blogs (and their good friend and fellow GOP/Media Complex tool Matt Bai) have been waving about as Proof That Lefties Do This Sort Of Thing Too (So Quit Picking On Us): an obscure former Giffords campaign worker and Daily Kos diarist who wrote a diary washing his hands of Giffords after she voted against Nancy Pelosi to lead the House Democrats, only to pull it down yesterday after hearing she'd been shot.

      This is beyond mere "false equivalence". It's in a whole different universe of wrongness.

    • Oh, really? That's not what a Republican senator says:

      A senior Republican senator, speaking anonymously in order to freely discuss the tragedy, told POLITICO that the Giffords shooting should be taken as a “cautionary tale” by Republicans.
      “There is a need for some reflection here – what is too far now?” said the senator. “What was too far when Oklahoma City happened is accepted now. There’s been a desensitizing. These town halls and cable TV and talk radio, everybody’s trying to outdo each other.”

      Note that the senator didn't dare openly criticize the GOP leadership or its base. Can you imagine Mary Landrieu or Ben Nelson being too afraid the Democratic leadership or its base? Of course not -- any Democrat who wants to bash other Democrats is given a warm welcome at every major radio and TV network and at most papers as well, and can do so knowing they won't suffer so much as a hand-slap. Yet no Republican dares to openly backtalk his or her party heads or base voters. They know what would happen to them would not be pretty.

  • The Closing of the Zionist Mind
    • Kenneth Atkinson of the Biblical Archaeology Review watched that NOVA program, and his interpretation of it is interesting. Reading between the lines, he seems to be saying that there really isn't much hard evidence for most Biblical claims, but he knows he doesn't dare say so for fear of attack from those with a vested religious interest in saying that there is:

      Unlike many similar documentaries, “The Bible’s Buried Secrets” does not begin with the book of Genesis or the Patriarchal period. Rather, it opens with the problematic issue of whether it is possible to establish a firm and reliable chronology between the Bible and archaeology. It uses Sir William Flinder Petrie’s 1896 discovery of the “Merneptah Stele” in Thebes, Egypt, as an illustration. This monument, carved in 1208 B.C.E., recounts the military victories of the son of Ramesses the Great—the king many believe was the Pharaoh of the biblical Exodus. One line of this text reads “Israel is laid waste, its seed is not.” Egyptologist Donald Redford suggests this passage is the earliest evidence that a people called “Israel” existed. William Dever—a familiar name to BAR readers—examines the problem in correlating such artifacts with the Bible, which is primarily a theological document. He suggests that we are on firmest ground when we find intersections between science and Scripture. Unfortunately, as he and many experts stress throughout the show, such correspondences are rare, and often subject to multiple interpretations.

      [...]

      The producers have done a magnificent job summarizing over a century of biblical archaeology and biblical scholarship in two hours. The film strikes a balance between the old-fashioned biblical archaeology approach, which tried to prove the Bible’s historicity, and the extreme skepticism of some minimalists, for whom the Bible contains little factual history. The documentary reflects the view of most mainstream biblical scholars and archaeologists, namely that the Bible, although a theological work, does contain some historical memories of the ancient Israelites. Scholars will lament the lack of a more critical analysis of some of the film’s claims, especially the proposed identification of David’s palace. The special often gives the impression that there was a single “Bible” in antiquity, and fails to acknowledge that many different versions of each biblical book existed. Nevertheless, viewers of this show should gain a greater appreciation for the Bible’s complexities, and gain some understanding of why it is difficult to correlate this theological text with the historical and archaeological record.

    • FOX News Sunday. (Yes, it amounts to the same thing.)

    • On the one hand, it means that the ultra-Orthodox have finally got their wish, the imminent destruction of the last shreds of secularism in the state they now effectively control. On the other, it means that even with the efforts to encourage ultra-Orthodox women to become mindless slaves and baby machines after the manner of the "Quiverfull" Christian conservatives in the US, the replacement rate is still negative.

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