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Total number of comments: 10 (since 2013-11-28 16:38:26)


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  • Grand Alliance against ISIL: Can Putin come in from the Cold?
    • "He wants to resurrect the glory of the Soviet victory in World War II; and he wants to bury the humiliation of the Soviet defeat in the Cold War."

      What a load of nonsense. This is tired old western
      narrative about Russia/Putin wanting to bring back
      "days of glory" - it's willfully ignorant & reduces
      Russia's legitimate strategic concerns to caricature. Why is it that only the west has legitimate strategic concerns but not Russia? This has nothing to do with any nostalgia for "glory" and everything to do with preserving the Syrian state so that it does not devolve into chaos like Libya & Iraq did after the US destroyed those countries.

      Putin brutally assaulted Chechnya to destroy that
      country's insurgents, who in their later yrs began to
      practice Qaeda-like terrorism. That is his concern. Putin's actions in its "near abroad" are exactly what the US' would be if it was being encircled by Russian economic and military provocations. There is much to criticize Putin for domestically but his international actions are based on real strategic concerns--not any desire to bring back the glory days of the USSR.

  • Omar Sharif didn't have to Play a Terrorist
    • This is a terrific piece about Omar Sharif from Prof. Cole.

      But there is another aspect to the period in Hollywood he's writing about that goes unmentioned.

      Sharif acted in Hollywood films during the last era in which it was easily accepted for actors to play ethnic or even races they were not themselves. Sometimes it worked great - Sharif playing a Russian poet in Zhivago & a Jewish conman in Funny Girl works fine. Sometimes it didn't - famously Mickey Rooney as a Japanese man in Breakfast at Tiffany's or Alec Guinness also as a Japanese (diplomat) in A Majority of One -- both were dreadful.

      But until the last couple of decades - it was no big deal to see Cary Grant (an Englishman) playing Americans or Frenchmen. Or Burt Lancaster - an American - playing a French anti-nazi resistance fighter.

      Today it's not as easily accepted. It still happens but not to the degree it used to. And audiences & Hollywood filmmakers had no problems making those casting decisions.

      Sharif benefited from that. And in some ways, yes, it was a healthier time for it. After all, generations of Americans grew up embracing foreign actors on their Hollywood screens like Charles Boyer, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Leslie Caron, Ronald Colman, Cesar Romero, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Fernando Lamas, Lupe Velez, Ricardo Montalban, Curt Jurgens, Cantinflas and so many others.

      I don't see that so much today. It hasn't disappeared entirely--but it's just not as common.

  • The Arab Political Crisis: It isn't a Matter of Civilization and it isn't Unique
    • this is indeed a terrific post, Professor.

      I see some posters still use the "it's the fault of Islamic civilization" nonsensical trope.

      I may be accused of oversimplifying (& I'm open to the accusation) but I've always understood the current (by "current" I mean from a historical lens--which includes the past few decades) turmoil in the region this way:

      Islam is only 1400 yrs old. Look at Judaism and Christianity at that age. Full of internal and external strife-infighting, purges, fighting with neighbors, unbelievable violence and savagery. Hell, the pope was a military leader himself, smiting challengers all over Europe and leading crusades against infidels. Just read the Books of Joshua and Judges to see what Judaism was up to at that age. The problem, of course, was that there were no nuclear weapons when Christianity & Judaism were undergoing their difficult transitional phases (which lasts centuries).

      I also look at what happened to the Roman empire during its decline and after its fall: Europe was plunged into "darkness," -- chaos, constant fighting, wars between competing mini-kingdoms, etc. What we're seeing is the aftermath of the fall of the Ottoman empire. Except that Europe had the benefit of no outside colonial powers coming in and colonizing it for decades. Europe was allowed to find its own way - and it had to go thru centuries of bloodshed and turmoil to find it.

      So-except for the outside colonizer aspect-there is indeed nothing historically unique about what's going on with Islam or the region's political/social/cultural development.

  • The Cruel Jest of American "Humanitarian Aid" to Iraq
    • oh boo hoo -- Prof. Cole's "tone" hurts your precious wittle feelings.
      Grow up. The prof. is absolutely correct in pointing out the immense hypocrisy of this so-called "humanitarian" mission and of the tragic amount of destroyed lives that the US is responsible for. In fact, Prof. Cole omits the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives the US murdered as a result of a decade of merciless sanctions long before the 2003 invasion.
      The incredible arrogance on your part to whine about Prof. Cole's "tone" in the face of the depth and breadth of the US' destruction of Iraqi lives and Iraqi society is astonishing.
      Americans like you need to learn some humility.

  • Is Zionism/ Jewish Nationalism a Political Cult? The Salaita Firing
    • The question to ask when thinking about this incident is "Would Salaita's job offer been withdrawn if he'd posted 'nasty' or 'uncivil' tweets defending Israel and zionism?"

      Of course not. In fact, he could've tweeted FAR FAR worse "uncivil" comments defending Israel and zionism and he'd be on his way to securing tenure at the University of Illinois right now.

      They're just hiding behind "incivility" to excuse this disgusting action against Dr. Salaita.

  • Egypt's Waco
    • Prof. Cole does not address the role of plainclothes organized thugs deployed by the police and military to pose as MB "terrorists" (just as they posed as "violent protesters" a year ago, i.e., posing as young pro-democracy protesters committing violent acts) - charges have been made that some of these thugs have attacked Christians & burned down churches. While there was a curfew in most parts of Cairo on the first day of the military assault, there was none around the churches, for example.

      I am not denying MB responsibility for at least some of the church attacks but the Egyptian military and police have a long widely known history of the use of these organized paid thugs committing violence and posing as members of the group the authorities are repressing.

  • Answer to Glenn Greenwald
    • This article in the Telegraph makes it clear that (as many commentators had already speculated) there was a clear connection between Bahrain and the Libya intervention:

      link to

      A deal was done between the US and Saudi Arabia. The US promised the Saudis to mute any criticism of the Bahrain government attacks on its own citizens (plus Saudi intervention on behalf of that govt) in exchange for Saudi cooperation in the Libya intervention. Which is now a war, actually - the CIA has been there for weeks and Obama has started arming the rebels despite any UN legality issues (as if that would stop the US govt, under ANY president, from arming anyone).

      In other words, the US intervenes only against its enemies - while its friends can go on massacring at will. Rewarding friends for atrocities, punishing enemies for the same.

      And pontificating about human rights and morality along the way.

      You have been entirely dishonest in every single thing you've written about this Libya intervention, glossing over pertinent facts and refusing to take up serious questions made by a variety of people from all sides of the political divide.

  • Top Ten Accomplishments of the UN No-Fly Zone
    • Mr. Cole,

      Your portrait of this operation is dishonest.

      You keep portraying this action as if the Arab League is completely on board and that the US/Europe merely responded to a request for a no-fly zone from them.

      I would like you to please read the transcript of Phyllis Bennis' appearance on Democracy Now (scroll down) in which she explains the sequence of decision-making in the White House:

      link to

      Please respond to it. She makes it clear that it was the White House that first went to both the Arab League & the African Union for something stronger than a no-fly-zone. The African Union refused to cooperate while the Arab League was convinced to go along with a vague NFZ operation.

      If this was merely to save the people of Benghazi, that was done on the first day. Why then did the bombings continue? This has now turned into a regime change operation.

      I find these two articles (surprisingly from the New Republic) far more thoughtful than your own writings on this issue:

      link to

      link to

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
    • "The United States did not take the lead role in urging a no-fly zone, and was dragged into this action by its Arab and European allies"

      This is SIMPLY NOT TRUE:

      link to

      (scroll down for Phyllis Bennis' remarks)

  • Eyewitnesses Say Israelis came in with Guns Blazing
    • Prof. Cole, I'm Brazilian (living in NYC) and I subscribe to the TV Globo channel thru satellite TV. I've been watching Globo's coverage of this incident (not a helluva lot better than US coverage, just a little less sycophantic to Israel). On their nightly Jornal Nacional yesterday they had an interview with a Brazilian citizen who was on the ship. She's a Brazilian of Japanese descent. She too testified that the Israeli soldiers started shooting even before they came on the ship and were in full combat mode before anyone on the ship had reacted.

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