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Total number of comments: 360 (since 2011-12-12 02:03:48)

rbtl

Website: http://www.betweenlinesblog.com/

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  • The Shameful Politicization of the Benghazi Consulate Attack
    • So who was Stevens? State or CIA? Or does it even matter?

    • Not sure. Some reporters saying that demonstrators had never heard of the file. Some, if not most of these, seem like opportunistic protests. That does not mean the film didn't offend a broad section of Muslims, just that the protests were like flashes, indicating a more provocateur genesis.

    • "that the media likes to see themselves as the forth branch of government that services as a checks and balance toward are three branches of government. But how can that be when they do not inform, but direct the American masses in an uninformed way."

      Nice way to portray the problem. Lost of commentators, like Fallows at The Atlantic are criticising 'false equivalence' : the media always has to get two views even if one of them is against facts and reason. The 'checks and balances' argument cuts through this problem

  • Obama set precedent with Drone Killings for Romney to become Terminator-in-Chief (Ross)
    • Excellent point. The only thing I can think of is that the hubris is so great among US military planners that they believe they are far ahead in technology to be able to produce anti-drone drones in short order! hmmm... Sort of like anti-ballistic missals, only smaller... Wasn't there a Rick Moranis or Eddy Murphy movie about tiny space wars going on it someone's head? Maybe "Honey, I Shrunk the War" or something.

  • Is Paul Ryan right that Obama's Foreign Policy is Blowing up in Our Faces?
  • Surprise: US Drones Kill Civilians, Provoke Hatred (Woods)
  • Muslims are no Different, or why Bill Maher's blood libel is Bigotry
  • Tunisian Muslim Leader Warns of Dangers of Violent Fundamentalism
  • Fury Unbound: the Muslim Dilemma (Majid)
    • To my mind, it is incomprehensible that they would be murdered, and the Consulate and surrounding property would be damaged and destroyed just because some jerk made an awful movie that no one would watch, or wants to watch.

      The Libyan government and many Libyans have condemned these killings and mourn them. From what I've read, it appears that the attack was carried out by what Clinton called a small and 'savage' fringe group linked to the mastermind of the '93 WTC bomb. Whether they instigated the protests or came in later and took advantage of them to launch the attack is irrelevant. Was this about the film? I don't think so. THe radical Islamists want to bring down the governments in Egypt and Libya which are headed by more moderate Islamic leaders. One way weaken those new, but democratically elected governments, is sow division between those new governments and the US to put international financial support in jeopardy.

      I'm not an expert, but I think this is the only way the 'incomprehensible' can be comprehended.

  • Calm Muslim Berates Violent Muslims for Defaming Islam and being Suckers
  • Tax Deadbeat Romney Calls Working People Leeches
    • First, SS funds are often used for the general fund. They are not, no sequestered by law.

      Second, by his own admission, Romney paid 'not less than' 13% in taxes the last ten years. He said if charitable contributions are included, it is close to 20%. Unfortunately, the IRS does not count charitable contributions as part of one's tax obligation.

      "Only Mr. Romney’s corporate dividends and capital gains are subject to the lower 15% federal rate, all the rest of his income is taxed at the ordinary rate schedule (municipal bond income may also be exempt if he has them). BTW, anyone can buy these things and enjoy the same benefits if they choose. And why the low rate on corporate dividends and capital gains? Because the companies themselves are paying 35% on the same income!

      Third, partners in private equity firms pay 15% on dividends and capital gains, they claim no earned income like the rest of us. So what is 'all the rest of his income'. I dont think Mr. Romney has a day job that pays him wages or a salary, which would be taxable.

      Fourth, corporate taxes are part of a company's expenses, not an individual. The individual is getting a return on investment which is less or more depending on his/her knowledge of how to play the markets.

      Fifth, it is my understanding that corporate and personal is taxed according to brackets. If a corporation is subject to a nominal tax of 35%: 1) that does not mean all its income is taxed at 35%, just the income that is above the next closes bracket. 2) with all the deductions and special exemptions that are now in the tax code, I wager that few corporations, if any, pay the 35% on any of their income.

      That is the problem. There are many provisions written into the tax code that allow corporations and wealthy individuals deductions and exemptions that others can't use because they don't make enough money to use them. Personally, I'm financially ok. But that wasn't always the case. I'd rather see someone making $30,000/year benefit with the earned income tax credit (that lifts him/her into the middle class) than Romney keeping his actual tax rate at 13%. Right now the tax code is biased in favor of the wealthy. The tax code, even with repealing the Bush cuts for those making over $250,000/year, doesn't come close to 'soaking the rich' - not with the deductions and exemptions they currently enjoy.

  • Top Myths about Iran's Nuclear Enrichment Program
    • I agree with your points, except your first, mainly because Iran not having made the 'decision to weaponize' is a key aspect of Obama's policy. Obama, at one point, said the US would know when that decision (to weaponize) is made. US intelligence certainly knows a lot more than they say. It may be true that US intelligence is inside Iranian computers and could pinpoint when the technology takes a turn that is indisputably to weaponize. Obama is very confident in his position. Netanyahu saying the Iranians are 90% there means nothing without saying what the other 10% is.

    • It would be easy for the Sunday morning anchors to name the Israeli defense and intelligence officials who are on record opposing an attack on Iran. "Mr. Netanyahu, do you discount these warnings?" They are very similar to warnings given to the Bush Administration in 2003 by experts in Middle East politics that were ignored but materialized anyway: sectarian violence, refugees and most importantly, chaos.

    • For those who forgot, a link to today's NYTimes:

  • Netanyahu in 1992: Iran close to having nuclear bomb
    • I read "Inferno" and thought it was genius: action, satire, political critique and am sure it's literary quality is even better in Italian instead of translation. I couple of years later, I read "Purgatorio' and "Paradiso". By the time I got up the mid-way point of the hierarchy of heaven, I thought if I hear one more example of light, I'd tear my hair out. Boring. Boring. Boring.

  • Top Ten Likely Consequences of Muslim anti-US Embassy Riots
    • This is so much bigger than the dam film. The only people the Salafis hate worse than the US is moderate Muslims, especially those ELECTED in Libya and Egypt. BTW, years ago the Brooklyn Museum came under siege for and art show in which the artist put dung on Jesus Christ. Protests, etc. It appears the museum in in hot water again over an artist who painted the crucified Christ with ants crawling all over him.
      link to radio.foxnews.com

    • I think his screeds are consistent and have a certain literary quality. I miss him when he doesn't post for awhile. I dont agree with everything he says, sometimes I don't even understand it!, but I know from what he says, he lived and survived the foolishness of Vietnam - and all the other foreign policy adventures the US has undertaken since. That's why I take him seriously.

    • Which is why Google should have taken it off the internet -

  • Obama Plays Hardball and Egypt's Morsi Folds
    • I don't think the implication was that Mr. Morsi is a lap dog at all. In all his statements in the last few day, his emphasis is Egypt's commitment to protect other countries' embassies, property and tourists. He put it in terms of the Muslim duty/ethic to provide hospitality/safety for guests and travelers. This may have been for a domestic audience. But it's a great way to educate a global audience on Islamic ethics and values as well. Something Mubarak would never do.

    • If I were Juan, my dream would be that the majority of comments were as informed and relevant as yours. As a reader, my dream too.

    • Clinton's first statement on Tuesday night condemned it.

  • Romney Jumps the Shark: Libya, Egypt and the Butterfly Effect
    • To me, you miss the point. The purpose of the embassy statement was to reduce the building tension. It was clearly made within the context of upholding free speech. The embassy is not obligated to pontificate on free speech every time it upholds it. On the contrary, I think the embassy excercised free speech by disagreeing with the sentiments of the film makers who were also exercising THEIR free speech. What could speak better of the first amendment.

  • The West Will Have to Compromise on Syria (Schmidt)
    • Yep, you said it all.

    • I agree. The relationship of the Syrian regular army to Assad is much different than the Egyptian military to the Egyptian nation. This article seems like it is putting forward that does not match the reality of the situation. Also, there were huge demostrations against Assad at first. Granted they did no encompass a big cross-sectarian spread, but it was the Assad government - not necessaril the splits in the opposition - that broke up the large protests with rifles, motors and armored trucks.

  • America's 9/11 response subverted our values, liberties (Cole @ Detroit News)
    • Wrong. By referring to 9/11 as an act of Islamic terror, the US took on the entire Islamic world. The perpetrators of 9/11 were a bunch of anarchist dead-enders, cut off from any mass base. Even Iranians marched in sympathy with the US in a candlelight vigil the day after the attack and the Iranian government shared intelligence. America had the sympathy of the world. Had it isolated Bin Laden and gang as murderers pure and simple, we would even have garnered more support for his capture from the Islamic world. Islam condemns the killing of innocents. But once the entire Middle East got slimed with the Al Queda label and a public debate about Islam being a fake religion, we got Benard Lewis' dream come true, the 'war of civilizations. Linking AL Queda to a secular Saddam Hussein sealed the image and reality of US overreach. The US had every right to defend itself by uprooting the camps in Afghanistan and the government that supported Al Queda. Then, instead of keeping the target to punish narrow, we widened it and opened up the hornets' nest. Very strategically stupid. Maybe even criminally stupid '

  • Dear Mitt: *You* Don't Get to Say That
    • Did you notice that in the second part of Mitt's famous quote about paying not less than 13% in taxes, he said it approached 20% if you counted charity! Wow, does that reflect what you just wrote! Mixing up taxes and charity. The safety net should be the domain of charity only. It's ahistorical. The New Deal came about because capitalism was in crisis, not because of some theory of the state.

      In the '50s, the pillars of the US economy (auto, steel, transport) were booming. Workers negotiated defined benefit pension plans and generous health care coverage. When companies can't or won't continue these benefits, ones that propelled the American economy to new heights, what happens? That's what's happening. Republicans are dumbing down the standards of what it means to be middle class today.

      Remember Adam Smith's 'linen shirt'. Smith said the free market should compensate workers according to the standards of the day. According to Smith, workers needed to dress to the standards of the day to get a job. A 'linen shirt' was a necessity, not a luxury. It's true that because of savings in production, many consumer items (including high tech electronics) are available to more people today than ever - and required in an information age economy. That only leaves retirement and health care! If the private economy won't or can't provide them, who does? After all, other industrialized countries provide both - the 'linen shirts' of today.

  • Top Ten Ways we are Better off than in January 2009
    • "Democrats...have been disturbingly modest and reticent..' You are much too kind. They've abdicated the national narrative to Republicans. Obama should have fired the whole communications and most of the political staff when Emanuel (part of the problem) left. I have a special hatred for politicians like Dukokis who betray their supporters by letting a 14 point lead evaporate and for an administration that couldn't figure out how to take credit for what they did. It is really the worst thing about Obama's governance.

  • Tutu Slams Tony Blair for Illegal Iraq War, boycotts Leadership Conference
    • Knee-jerk reactions from both sides, unfortunately, is the order of the day. As Clint implied, they are all clowns.

    • Thanks. A failure indeed.

    • Read "Dereliction of Duty" by H.R.McMaster about lead up to Vietnam 1960-1964.

    • But, to use the Republicans favorite term: it's a slippery slope. There are exceptions to the rule, but the rule should be non-intervention. The UN and whole international order are predicated on non-intervention and respect of sovereignty. That was the lesson coming out of the urber-destruction of the World Wars. In Japan, Germany/Britain, the US was not the aggressor. I don't remember if the Khmer Rouge invaded Vietnam first, but even if they didn't, crushing Pol Pot was certainly appropriate. (good example of exception) The American Revolution was a different era.

    • It's impossible to believe that Saddam Hussein could have killed 110,000 Iraqis between 2003 and 2007. And that's what we're talking about: how to fix international problems with the LEAST NUMBER OF PEOPLE maimed and killed. That is also the basis of a non-interventionist foreign policy. Aggression, meddling or humanitarian intervention by another state is more likely to inflame internal conflict and cause more death than not.

  • Top Ten Clint Eastwood Empty-Chair Falsehoods
    • one of my top 10 movies. sin - redemption - sin again - unable to be redeemed. like a lot of politicians.

    • Why doesn't everyone lighten up. I suspect Clint wanted to even the playing field after everyone thought he did the NFL Chrysler commercial for Obama. Or maybe he was high.

      The entire episode was irreverent towards the political process as a whole. It was grossly irreverent to the RNC commercial. He got his 'talking points' that Romney's staff gave him into his 'speech' but in a wildly subversive way. It upstaged Romney and became the talk of the town right before it began. So much for Romney getting the attention he needed on Twitter to make a play for younger voters.

      I suspect Eastwood thinks all politicians are clowns, and his new movie is about an old may going senile!

      As on commentator said, Clint did this for Clint.

      Besides, he Afghan comment was a slap to Romney, too. Obviously, Eastwood supported bringing the troops home 'tomorrow'. The lawyer comment was sly - Romney is a lawyer, too. Most of what he said had another edge.

      Anyway you look at it, the off-color joke was totally inappropriate. That's why he did it.

      Romney's staff looked like fools. Nothing in Eastwood's history has him very much involved in national politics. You don't just willy nilly ask Eastwood to do you a favor without being prepared. He's too in charge of his own life and doesn't need 'good' publicity. But 'bad' publicity is another story....

  • Mitt Romney's coming War on Iran: A Tale of Two Conventions
  • Tampa Area Republicans terrified of Tea Party, Ryan (Guzzo)
    • I think this article is confusing. I sounds like an opinion piece. It has no direct quotes whatsoever and no particulars that validate it as actual reporting on the Hillborough County Republican party. It doesn't even spell out what Hillsborough County consists of and then uses Pinnellas (spelling?) county as an example of one of the points. I think the Republicans interviewed were mouthing off. No doubt some observations are legit but it adds nothing to the understanding of politics and the motivation of people who vote for the Tea Party to conflate the entire movement into racists and kooks fighting world government conspiracies.

  • Anonymous Billionaires are Stealing Your Election with Attack Ads
  • Ayatollah Cameron Threatens to invade Ecuador Embassy re: Assange (or, Whitewashing Iran for the US National Security State)
    • I think it's outrageous that you claim Cole's original post implies the 'underlying bare allegations are meaningless or illegitimate.' Where did you read this or get this impression? Cole analyzed the charges under American, British and Swedish law. THAT was germane to his key point about what the British threat could mean for international relations. Stick to the issue at hand instead of using this space as a soapbox.

  • Chinese telecoms giants are taking over the world. Should we be scared? (McClenaghan)
    • I find this article the opposite of 'investigative journalism'.

      First, it makes a lot of accusations without backup, then goes on to even admit that! It's main (if not only) SECONDARY source of information is the "Economist". I don't call myself an investigative journalist because I can read and interpret the "Economist". Why should this writer?

      Second, it feeds directly into the China bashing meme so popular with American business and political elites these days. At least one reader got it right: isn't the US doing the same things as it prepares for an era of cyber war that none of us really know about or understand?

      All in all, it reads like those insidious NYTimes 'fishing' articles that say nothing but invite others to fill in all hte blank spaces their own reporters couldn't. Some that stood out were in the early days of the Cordoba Temple 'controversey', the Turkish Flotilla, and John McCain's lobbyist 'mistress'. If there is nothing to report, don't sqeeze juice from a lemon.

  • Revolutionaries in Syria Claim 60% of Aleppo as UN Condemns al-Assad
  • The Collapse of the Climate Change Contrarians and the End of Coal
    • I think Sceptonomist identified himself as someone who does believe in climate change. I thought he was impeaching the reliability of Muller but said climate change is proved by many more besides him.

    • I loved the movie. What a way to die! With your little circle of friends who are disintegrated along with everything else on earth at exactly the same minute. No use worrying about what the world will be like in 100 years. No use worrying about death cause there won't be any life.

  • Dear Mr. Romney: Palestinians are Poor Because You Stole from them and Kept them Stateless
  • Top Ten Most Distasteful things about Romney Trip to Israel
    • The fundraiser in Israel is probably for ex-pats living there. But that doesn't contradict Dr. Cole's points. Every premise of American foreign policy and so-called 'national interest' is in shambles when it comes to Israel.

  • Could Syria-Turkey Conflict Pull NATO In?
    • In the first few months of George W. Bush's presidency, the Chinese intercepted and forced a US plane to land, claiming it had crossed into Chinese territory. At first Bush issued furious comments as if China had shot it down! It was turning into an incident. Cooler heads (maybe sent from his father's administration) prevailed, the rhetoric stopped and a week later the Americans were home.

      Lesson? The Chinese knew just how far to push. THe Syrians didn't.

  • Egypt's Zombie Revolution: Dead and Alive (Chase)
    • Thanks for your and Juan's dynamic snapshot of the fast-moving forces at play here. Your writings are beacons in the fog.

  • Egypt: Fundamentalist President + Junta = ?
    • Professor Cole is noting dynamics and nuances within a complex, still-unfolding series of events and their possible influence on how the Egyptians move forward from here. In these type of pieces, he leaves aside the ‘chicken little’ outrage and predictions of doom. The Egyptian state in in upheaval. Things are moving fast and fluidly. The democratic, Islamic, reactionary and other Egyptian players certainly aren’t packing up their marbles and going home. A year from now, massive protests may have forced a new election, the MB may be pushed underground, the SCAF may have further consolidated its hold. Who knows? Cole assiduously avoids coming to premature conclusions. That’s what separates IC from many other blogs. Politics as an art is closer to understanding chaos than the reading of linear events.

  • Egypt: An Election within a Coup within a Coup
    • I find your analysis naive. How do you expect the 'people' to stage a real revolution and overthrow the generals? Are they strong enough to split the military's allegiance? Or to stage an armed insurrection? Obviously, the Egyptian opposition rejected that path. You nullify history. The Egyptian military was a force for national independence against colonial powers. But all the Arab national struggles were compromised by the autocrats who took over. The "arab spring' seeks to complete the post WW2 struggles for independence by codifying popular participation in the political life and future of the country.

      Therefore, the Egyptian movement is fundamentally a reformist movement that is still playing out. It remains to be seen if the Egyptian organizers are right in renouncing violence or if power will flow more easily to the Libyan opposition, which called in international military support, or the Syrian opposition, which continues to be hammered unrelentlessly by Assad but seems willing to accept arms from other countries..

      I don't think we can understand the Egyptian situation without understanding how Egyptians view what's going on. That is the benefit of Informed Comment. It is informed. This is not Russia, 1917 or China, 1949. Nor is the nature of the struggle of Egyptians today the same as the fight against colonialism. Juan is right. Read his post again. It deals with on-the-ground dynamics, not theory.

  • Top Ten Reasons Romney Shouldn't Arm Syrian Rebels
    • True as far as you go. But the key reason for their support lies in Revelation, which says that Jews must return to Israel before the second coming of Christ. After that, either they will convert to believe in him or be dammed in hell.

    • Since when does everything he's said and done limit Romney's freedom of action to do the opposite? It did not limit Obama's.

  • How Obama changed definition of ‘civilian’ in secret drone wars (Woods)
    • "Klaidman describes a world in which the CIA and Pentagon constantly push for significant attacks on the US’s enemies. In March 2009, for example. then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen reportedly called for the bombing of an entire training camp in southern Somalia in order to kill one militant leader.

      One dissenter at the meeting is said to have described the tactic as ‘carpet-bombing a country.’ The attack did not go ahead."

      The use of drones and everything around it is finally exploding into a major national issue. The controversy will get ugly.

      In an otherwise informative piece, the two paragraphs quoted above are sloppy at best and sensational at worst. First of all, the US has been bombing whole 'terrorist' training facilities for years, beginning with Al Queda under Clinton and that became the very reason for the Afghan war. So Mullen was proposing nothing new or shocking.

      It is really not credible to quote someone as saying Mullen's request was 'carpet-bombing'. It severely belittles the Vietnamese villages destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians that were killed in the very intentional military policy of 'carpet bombing' that became a key tactic during that war. Bombing the bejesus out of a radical training camp does not meet the common understanding of the term.

      Facts are facts and bad enough. No need to exaggerate or add rhetorical flourishes.

  • The Secret Army inside the Army (Bacevich)
    • Yes, but look at it this way. We and the nations affected have paid dearly Cold War assassinations and coups (Iran, Vietnam, Congo, Chile, etc.) and US backing of corrupt dictators from Chile to Indonesia to South Africa. During the Cold War, what was one country's national struggle was a communist conspiracy to successive US governments. That is the problem about picking who to kill with drones. Most Americans, including myself, are not going to cry for Queda operatives hit by drones. And a case can be made that the number of civilians killed in drone attacks is no more than those killed in more traditional operations.

      The problems are 1) one country (even one president!) making those decisions all over the world; 2) the antiseptic nature of drone warfare in which the attacker can attack at will with no damage to itself; 3) the proliferation of drones throughout the world, which governments can use against regime protesters; 4) possibility of drone attacks on leaders of other countries the US doesn't like; etc. Fundamentally, the proliferation of drones will not only change and lower the cost ofthe tools of warfare, it will ultimately localize and decentralize fighting, put powerful weapons in the hands of free-lancers (who wants a suitcase bomb when you can use a drone) and introduce a new level of chaos to global security.

  • New Israeli government likely won't launch Iran attack
    • This is the only coherent analysis I've read about Kadima joining the Netanyahu coalition.

      If you don't see the significance of this analysis, you'd have to dismiss the last few months of prominent Israeli military and intelligence leaders facing off against Netanyahu because this expanded coalition is the (but not the only) political reflection of the divisions in Israeli society over Iran.

      I think some commenters don't see that political dynamics plays out in many ways. The pull against bombing Iran within Israeli society ended up checking the war seekers.

      Ihose in the vanguard of criticizing Diskin were Likkud hacks. Netanyahu and Barak have been strangely quiet, even though two months ago, Israeli newspapers were floating the idea that Israel would be able to absorb Iran's response to an attack.

      Those who say that Israeli policy on peace is set in stone are just wrong. The PM before Netanyahu had 36 neetings with Pres. Abbas seeking a 'final status' solution.

      At some point Netanyahu has to respond to his Iran critics. This was the best face-saving way for him to do it.

      The real problems will start if Iran doesn't give something to the Western negotiators that takes the threat of attack away. Then Obama (or god forbid, Romney) will be calling the final shot.

  • Romney wants to Fight Whole Muslim World, not Concentrate on Bin Laden
  • Saudi-Egypt Crisis Points to Conflict between New Democracies, Old Autocracies
  • Israeli Spy Chief Condemns Netanyahu for Iran Hype, Messianism
    • This story was broken by Haaretz, a liberal Israeli newspaper Saturday morning. The NYTimes covered it Sunday. It is very significant.

    • The political noose is finally tightening around Netanyahu.

      Americans love the Iranian people!

  • Biden to Romney "Dude, you are so 1975" and "If you Plan war with Iran, tell us Now"
    • This is getting hilarious. If the democrats are smart, they'll pick up the 'you're stuck in the Cold War.." theme and run with it. It is an image that the American people can quickly absorb. Obama could have been the first genuine 'cold war' President. Clinton was a placeholder on FP; Bush took us straight backwards. Obama hasn't totally abandoned the Cold War attitude himself: if it's not Russia, it must be China that we're against!

  • "Smile" - Tamer Hosny and Shaggy's Feel-Good Arabic Music Video
  • Why Romney is Lying about the Causes of high Prices at the Pump
  • Medvedev slams Romney for "Number one Enemy" Slur
  • The US Congress's UNESCO Problem: Daily Show
    • But can anyone shed light on why people like Wexler let themselves get into these situations with Daily Show and Cobert? Is it that they don't recognize their own glib, cavalier attitude? Or the illogic of everything they say?

      Some enterprising political science graduate student should analyze this for a thesis.

  • US Public to Israel's Likud: On Iran, Negotiate or you are on Your Own
  • Afghans to US Military: Be at Least a Little Ashamed
  • Changing Iran's Nuclear Calculation with Green Energy: Buonomo
    • Energy is only part of the equation for Iran. For one thing, they want to make isotopes for medical use which means enriching to 19%. But Iran's main concern is its independence and geopolitical strength. That is much more than an energy issue and won't be solved by alternative energy. In fact, I think its a bit pie-in-sky to suggest alternative energy as a solution to an issue that is so wrapped up in politics and power. The problem with American policy is its short-sightedness. We should solve the problems from 1979. THe US does not recognize the Iranian government as legitimate and has no diplomatic relations with it. If this isn't an antiquated policy, I wouldn't know what is. It is absurd. There is no possible way Iranian and American diplomats, much less Iranian and American physicists can interact normally except perhaps an occasional conference or meeting outside both countries. Recognition of Iran, security garurantees to it and trade deals that respect its importance to the region would be good places to start.

  • Top Ten Dangers for Obama of Iran Sanctions on behalf of Israel
    • I don't understand your reply. I did not suggest Ross is a 'fair' intermediary. I think Ross should have been put out to pasture 20 years ago, after Bush 41. His book, however, illustrates not only his own flaws and biases but also how non-serious the Clinton Administration took Arab/Israeli peace until the very last moment. Obama made a big mistake bringing him into his administration. He is the one who advised Obama to back off of demands that Israelis suspend settlements as prelude to negotiations.

    • Ross's book, The Missing Peace, covers his time in the Reagan, Bush and Clinton years as chief negotiator. It's a great read because it delves into the dynamics and personalities of all parties. Most of all, it documents (unintentionally) the half-hearted starts, stops and renewed starts in the peace process, 1992-2001. No one road herd on the Israelis or Palestinians to come through with what they promised during the process, like maps and demographics, much less 'confidence building' measures. Ironically, Ross saves his nastiest words for Netanyahu's behavior when he was PM: hesitant, opportunist, ill-behaved.

  • Khamenei Takes Control, Forbids Nuclear Bomb
    • Well said, Kathleen. The fact that the world is 'fluid and dynamic' is exactly what conservative politicians do not want the American people to consider. They want people to see world dynamics as static and fixed. Israel is always right, but Israel, by opposing peace, is its own existential threat. Hamas will never change, even as Hamas changes before our eyes. The dynamics, not the word choices, determine reality.

  • Israel - Iran Military Comparison
  • Top Ten Differences Between Rick Santorum and JFK
    • You're kidding, right? If not, lighten up.

    • I'd take some issue with secrecy. Among other things, the CIA tried three times to knock off Castro in secret assassination attempts and worked closely with Belgium, one of the most brutal of colonial regimes, to capture and assassinate Patrice Lumumba in 1961. People all over Africa mourn together on the anniversary of his death.

      One of the more enlightening books about Vietnam beginning in 1960 is "Dereliction of Duty" by General H.R. MacMaster. He may not shed as much light on Kennedy but reveals the depth of corruption of McNamara and Bundy, which they took inside the Johnson Administration.

  • Five Things Rick Santorum Could have Learned in College
  • Afro-Asia, Global South Reject Boycott of Iran
  • Ring of Iranian Bases Threatens US
    • I grew up during the Cold War. Contrary to conventional wisdom, and despite all the complaining about Europeans'depending on the US' in the 70s and 80s, whenever Europe began taking about building up strictly European defenses, the US iced the idea ASAP. US policy makers feared an independent European military that it could not control much more than footing the bill for NATO.

  • Santorum Hypes Iran 'Threat'
  • Active Nuclear Arsenals and Iran's Absence
    • CORRECTION Panetta quote:

      "Panetta, the former CIA director, said U.S. intelligence shows that Iran is continuing its uranium enrichment program. “But the intelligence does not show that they’ve made the decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon. That is the red line that would concern us and that would ensure that the international community, hopefully together, would respond,” he said.'

    • "He certainly hasn’t written anything of the sort lately. Take a look at this post; he’s been arguing quite forcefully that Iran is absolutely not engaged in any work towards nuclear weapons capability – indeed, he seems to find it quite important that the most powerful politician in Iran has said that they aren’t – and keeps denouncing such a suspicion as baseless."

      Right. Lately Cole has been pushing back hard against a media blitz suggesting that Iran is building a nuclear bomb. I won't argue semantics over 'capability' vs. 'capacity' or the timing of remarks. What is the thrust of the two opposite approaches to dealing with Iran? What backs each up? This is what Sec. Def. Panetta said in Congressional testimony today, quoted on NBC and in WaPo online:

      "Panetta, the former CIA director, said U.S. intelligence shows that Iran is continuing its uranium enrichment program. “But the That is the red line that would concern us and that would ensure that the international community, hopefully together, would respond,” he said." Panetta, too, is saying Iran is not engaged in work towards a nuclear capability and openly says Iran has not made that decision, although an independent enrichment program for radio-isotopes would run parallel to enrichment needed for a nuclear weapon.

      Panetta once again botched the Administration's communications on a major issue of war and peace. Last week he announced Israel is thinking of bombing Iran in the Spring. That fed the war hysteria. He backtracks on that and goes father today to push back on the hysteria he helped whip up. The Administration also downplayed Iran's big nuclear announcement today. It didn't change anything. Iran is enriching Uranium, almost to 20% but is nowhere near the 95% enrichment to make a bomb. Its ballistic missile program was seriously damaged by the recent explosion.

      So far the sanctions are against what the US believes the Iranian leadership intends to do, although "intelligence does not show that they’ve made the decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon."

      Talk to people. Many think Iran HAS a nuclear weapon already. Many think that weapon is a danger to the US as well as Israel. Many are sick of hearing how dangerous Iran is night after night on the news and, although it's not their main priority, would passively support air strikes against Iran - without considering the consequences.

      In that situation, those who differ need to strip down the facts to their basic, hard elements. Even Panetta does: his 'red line' is based on material developments, while Netanyahu bases his conclusions on what he believes Iran intends to do - the subjective side.

      One of two things is going on:
      1. Obama is using sanctions to keep Israel from bombing Iran.
      2. Obama is playing out all options before giving a 'green light' for Israel to attack.

      At last Congress is beginning to give the President some political cover. See Ellison (d-MN)-Jones (r-NC) letter.

    • I've been reading some of your posts, both later and earlier than this one because they are good. However, I just have to say that I think Informed Comment has been very consistent in its views of the situation in Iran. Juan Cole has written many times that Iran seems to be going for the capacity to build a nuclear bomb but will most likely stop just short of that. I understand there are other countries, including Japan, that are in that position.

      So the issue is very particular around this country at this time. I comes down to whether the US and Israel and Western Europe can live with the ambiguity that 'capacity' vs. 'deployment' requires, an ambiguity that to me seems less dangerous then the fact of Russian ICBMs targeted at US cities, and vice verse, in the Cold War (and still posing significant risk). And whether the risks of a pre-emptive strike against Iran are more or less harmful. I'd also point out that the whole Middle East is asked to accept Israel's refusal to sign the non-proliferation treaty or to verify/deny its nuclear arsenal of scores or hundreds of nublear armed missiles.

      I think these things explain Iran's plans to fortify their facilities. It would be naive to think Iran does not seek the capacity to build nuclear weapons, and it is clear that Western policy leaves no room for this. As Israel says, there is a point of no return beyond which it will not let Iran go. But it is exactly that point where compromise between 'equals' may have the best opportunity to succeed. The West could offer incentives, such as US diplomatic recognition, to maintain that 'capacity' status quo vs. actual deployment. In the meantime, after Iraq and Syria and a sanctions regime imposed when even American intelligence says Iran has not made a decision on deploymn, it would be irrational for Iran not to decentralize and fortify its nuclear facilities at this point.

      I think this responds to part of the back-and=forth between you and Cole, although I didn't necessarily think the intent of your comments on Iran was to 'change the subject.'

      Finally, I don't think you can underestimate Iranian nationalism and Western fear of it. After all, the 1953 Mosaddegh coup came in the wake of the democratic post-war Iranian government's attempts to nationalize the oil industry, a goal overwhelmingly supported by the Iranian people that was finally fulfilled only with the 1979 revolution. 99% of Americans probably don't know that the CIA sponsored that coup. But it's part of Iranian history: Iranians learn about it in elementary school.

  • Syria: Crimes Against Humanity in Homs
    • From reports out of Syria the last 12 months, it seems that the protests began as non-violent, Assad repressed them, they kept going beyond Assad's expectations, more repression, and then some of the Syrian military began to defect and defend the rallies with armw. This raises the issue of what 'non-violence' is. All of the Arab Awakenings had violence of one sort or another. That's what 'revolution' (or radical reform movement like we've seen the last year) bring: reaction (violence) from defenders of the status quo. In a situation like Syria, protester violence begins as defense against the regime's onslaught. How could anyone equate that with violence by the regime itself? There is a lot of controversy about the 'right or duty to protect' as justification for outside intervention. But certainly the right to defend yourself and fellow citizens from massacre is the more immediate moral imperative.

  • How an Israeli Strike on Iran could radically weaken Israel
    • 11. Iran would likely retaliate against the US and has more resources than Al Queda ever did. Global crisis like nobody (including Israel) has seen.

  • Syria Veto and the Revenge of the BRICS
    • I agree it was a temper tantrum and embarrassing. The UN suffers nothing by not having a unanimous SC resolution. The Syrian opposition already refused foreign intervention and those who are arming them or whatever are doing it anyway. Clinton just wants the Russians to cave.

  • Lyons: Islam, Women and the West
    • "By the early twentieth century, the institution of veiling had for the most part supplanted the more exotic harem as the focal point of Western attention....a “sexualization” of the Western view of Islam....Islamic civilization are (sic) too often reduced to Western...assessment of the male–female dynamic."

      What an insightful article! This is something I've long believed but never seen addressed in such a clear and explicit way. A young Iranian-American hairdresser I know just returned from a visit to Iran. Everyone else was lamenting that she had to wear the habib, as if that defined Iranian society. Her view: didn't bother her at all, she wore whatever she wanted (whether pjs or party dress) under it. It's embarrassing to even have to talk about how Americans focus on the trivial.

  • The Generals try to stop an Iran War
    • It's a good point: if Israel does bomb, will the US have 'no choice' (politically) to back them up. Although Obama has caved into Netayahu's strategy on settlements, etc., intentionally bombing Iran despite US warnings would cross a line even Bibi wouldn't cross. It's one thing to build illegal settlements, quite another to start a war, endanger US lives and ruin a presidency.

    • In 2010, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote an alarming piece in The Atlantic that an Israeli attack was imminent. Others pushed back on it immediately. Today's debate is deja vu. The Lukid and other parties are in the midst of electing their leaders and Netanyahu may call for early elections this year. So domestic Israeli positioning is in high gear. That has to be considered in assessing the situation.

      And remember Bill Gates' parting words: anyone who wants to start another war in an Arab country would be insane. Lastly, George W. Bush had himself and his entire cabinet pushing public opinion towards war. Compared to the actual war preparations under Bush, the Republican push today is meaningless.

  • Marsh on Obama: The Party's Over
  • Can Obama Prevail against a Romney-Netanyahu Ticket? - Robertson
    • I think the answer to the question is yes, Obama can and will 'resist'. He has no intention of condoning an Israeli attack against Iran. Iran and Israel are not big issues to the general population. The toughness of the Obama sanctions cover him nicely from Republican attack on this issue, and many FP people believe the sanctions are fending off any Netanyahu action.

      In analyzing world events, it's just as important to not overestimate your opposition as it is to underestimate them. Johnson and Bush used overestimation of Vietnam and Iraq to sell those respective wars. Obama isn't that stupid, despite his caving on settlements.

  • Assassinating Dreams in Egypt: Amr
    • Just analyzing the dramatics around setting election dates would be interesting for readers to see. SCAF reneged on the 6 month time frame for elections but the military made it a non-issue by knowingly scheduling them too soon for the secular groups less organized than the Brotherhood, at least as I've read about it. That, the Israeli embassy take-over and running over Copts, indeed, were orchestrated brilliantly to divide domestically and scare internationally at a distance, with 'clean hands'.

      One unexamined event was the taking of the Iraeli Embassy which seems about as credible as the Iranian Used Car Salesman Plot. What was te Administration's role? DId the US really 'wake up' the Egyptian generals that the embassy was under attack from soccer thugs?

  • Top Developments in the Arab Spring Today
    • Where is Obama on Egypt? Giving mixed signals. First Clinton says delay in elections is 'appropriate', now scolding SCAF. All US Presidents in last 40 years scolded Mubarak but stood right beside him.

      There is no way the AMerican and Egyptian military are NOT in constant communications. SCAF is the cause of instability and the Administration knows this.

      What are they willing to do?

  • Notar: Syria and the Palestine Card
    • I don't think the Palestinian issue has been a motivating factor in any of the Arab uprisings, including Syria. Much has been made in Western media about Syria encouraging Palestinian protesters to surge against the Israeli border with Syria. Yet that has not softened Assad's internal opposition. Palestine is not a primary issue in the revolts. However, the Arab Spring benefits the Palestinian cause anyway. The 'interim government' in Egypt opened its check-point because it is responding to the sentiments of the Egyptian opposition. I think Western analysts were way off. Perhaps the PLA feared losing Egyptian support when its 'friend' Mubarak was overthrow. Just the opposite occurred: Egyptian support has increased in significant ways. Mubarak was impotent in pushing a peace settlement through, if he ever really wanted to. The role of the Arab autocrat was to mouth off against Israeli aggression and bought off by funding from the US. Hopefully, those times are past. But it is only the popular will being exercised in more democratic Arab states that will ensure this, not the other way around.

      Assad is finished.

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
    • I have been on the non-intervention side of this argument and feel like I've been taken by the shoulders and shaken to come to my sense, although I'm still skeptical. I have been trying to go over exactly how this violence began. This is the key point you bring up. The country was 90% taken by the rebels peacefully. Quaddafi provoked them into taking up whatever 'arms' they had. This was a violation of the nature of the Arab uprising; even Yemeni officials are now turning against the violence of the government.

      You are the only commentator I know who lays this out so objectively and politically without milking the humanitarian issue emotionally. Marc Ambinder at Atlantic was also a thoughtful defense of the action.

  • Pressman: “Coup with a mass(ive) twist”
    • Thank you, Professors! This exactly what I have been blogging. You know the politics internally but it also just makes sense the way things are going. The cronies arrested, the constitutional committee appears the real thing. What interest would the military have in upsetting its plum position. How not to upset it: make a deal or 'deal' with the democrats.

  • Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu
    • James Speaks: I think Obama is getting pressure from the old-line realists of the first Bush presidency. James Baker, lover of oil and Mid-East monarchs, was on TV yesterday morning. After genuflecting a few times to 'democracy' and the protesters 'just demands' he went into an uncharacteristic tirade about the danger of Islamic extremism taking over Egypt. The nite before, Bush Senior spoke of his 'old friend' Mubarak. Haven't found any speculation on what he said.

      These people are much smarter than the neocons and they play hard-ball. They will throw Obama under a bus to keep the Middle East 'stable' and protect the interests of the current regimes. This is warfare against THEM, as well as Mubarak. Obama has been whiplashed and out-done by Mubarak and the realists.

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