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Total number of comments: 337 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:40)

sherm

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  • Gates & NATO: Misery Loves Company
    • Maybe Gates just need s fall guy, and NATO is handy. After all he was at the Defense helm for the past four and a half years with little, or negative, progress in Afghanistan. Not only that, he's legacied in at least three more years in that venue, thus eluding the "Who Lost Afghanistan" list. His partner Petraeus will also dodge the list by hiding out in the CIA.

      He might even be worried about getting on the "Who Lost Libya" list - making NATO a twofer.

      How does Gates earn so much respect for accomplishing so little?

  • Qaddafi Accused of Systematic Rape, War Crimes by ICC, UN
    • Seems to me that the "protection of civilians" is the Libyan equivalent of Iraq's WMD.

      But unlike Iraq, once the evil dictator is gone, there will be no residual malice between the various tribal and political factions. Libya will be a lump of freedom loving, greed free, altruistic modeling clay, fully ready for the West to shape it into a democratic oasis in an otherwise troubled Arab world. At least that is how I read Minister Jiminez.

      In my view the flaw in this enterprise is that once Qadhafi is gone, and it turns out that there are nasty worms in this lump of clay, the West will be helpless to do anything about it other than pursuing the classic Iraq/Afghanistan "boots on the ground" occupation. We all know how well that works.

      Reading the headlines, NATO (aka Britain, France, and the US), is upping the aerial violence and doing its best to kill Qadhafi. NATO is determined to win this civil war, and when it does it will learn once again that it is very difficult to control a headless chicken.

  • Our News and their News
    • Then best thing that could happen right now is for Weiner to stand his ground and stay in office. Just say "SO WHAT" to the babbling media and the holier than thou politicians.

      (If the Democrats can capture the philanderer vote in 2012, they will lock up the Presidency and both houses of Congress.)

      When enough well placed, power SO WHAT's are directed at the media, I think it will get serious. Jellyfish can't move against the current.

  • Time to Begin Leaving Afghanistan
    • "And after nearly 10 years since the overthrow of the Taliban, it is legitimate to ask when and how exactly local troops can be expected to take up this slack?"

      We operate as though it's a given that the Afghan forces we are equipping and training will automatically assume the same objectives and adversaries that we are focused on. We are confident that they will be as indifferent as we are to killing and maiming their fellow countrymen and women. And on a personal level we are convinced that an Afghan soldier will put his life on the line because the Pentagon and the Administration want him to.

      For lack of wars between nation states, our military/industrial/war-lover complex has found civil wars to be habitats of convenience, even if the "complex" has to initiate the civil war, e.g. Iraq and Afghanistan. Initiation was not required for Libya.

      Once we are in we codify who the good and bad guys are, then do our best to portray a similarity between the civil war and a war between nation states.

      The survival of the "complex" is at stake if the troops go back to the barracks. Thus until there is a comfortable alternative to Afghanistan we will not leave.

  • Pakistani Military between Rock and Hard Place
    • James, evidently you are not aware of the USA "doctrine of limited sovereignty".While the USA has absolute and total sovereignty within its borders (and Guantanamo Bay), the sovereignty of any other nation exists at the pleasure of the USA. Basically we operate under the assumption that we can intrude at will when it suits our "national interest". The good old days in Latin America were filled with exercises of the doctrine, now the Middle East is learning its intricacies.

  • Obama right not to Release Usama Photo
    • The entire special forces saga is kept a total secret until something positive like this happens. What have they been doing all through the two wars? It seems we are expected to assume that they are very smart, brave, and cunning, in the absence of any evidence that it's true.

      Politicians and the military are almost genetically incapable of saying anything that is not self serving. The blanket of military secrecy makes it much easier to get away with distortions and lies. We've seen countless pictures of innocent dead Iraqis and Afghans, killed in the name of "collateral damage", so what's the problem with showing a picture of this dead bad guy - they all look pretty much the same.

      I think that in the name of transparency and perspective, we should be told how many failed "kill/capture Osama missions" have been undertaken in the past, either by special forces, drone strikes, or whatever else a 500 billion a year military apparatus could throw at him. My guess is that they have been numerous. The only well publicized one was the 1997 cruise missile attack on his camp in Afghanistan - 70 missiles but the target lived on.

  • Obama and the End of Al-Qaeda
  • Syrian Army Splits over Deraa Repression
    • Question for Prof Cole:
      When these dictators sustain their power with an extensive security apparatus, how much autonomy do they have to change or reverse direction, e.g. establish democratic rule, without the consent of the security apparatus? And how much power do they have in running the day to day suppression of revolts?

  • Birth Certificate just Jim Crow all Over Again
    • Based on anecdotal experience, my view is that a visceral dislike of blacks is very common throughout the US. Walk into almost any bar and join a group of white males, make some disparaging jokes about blacks, or say jokingly that you just ran over one in parking lot, and you'll get a free beer.

      Just anecdotal, other experiences may vary.

      I think the South's experience was more like that of a colonial society where the relationship between the whites (colonials) and the blacks (natives) was based on a rigid economic and social structure. No need for racial hatred because absolute racial superiority, was satisfying enough.

  • Misrata Reprieved
  • Free Libyan fighters exult in small Victories, as US begins Drone Strikes
    • OK, Qaddafi, his sons, his chums, and his palace guard flee the country, and the gov't forces return to their barracks. Almost by definition this is the rebels', NATO and US notion of victory. NATO goes home, war's over.

      Then the rebels proclaim they are in charge because they earned it by blood, sweat and courage. On top of that they have a formidable arsenal - a gift from their Western allies. So they can squash resistance to their assumption of leadership.

      Is there any reason to expect that the rebels will have blueprint for peacefully subduing political, tribal, and geographical rivalries that will bloom when Qaddafi et all are gone? Is there any reason to expect that the rebels will have the widespread respect needed to lead the country? Is there any reason expect that the rebels, unlike any such movement in the past, will be willing to share power, or relinquish power? Will they welcome with open arms returning ex-patriots claiming to have the wisdom and gravitas to build the new Libya?

      Maybe the answers to all these questions is yes. Personally I think the horse is along shot, but I'd like it to finish in the money.

  • Bush's Pre-War Iraq Oil Deals Alarmed BP
    • Excrpt from Wash Post article about Libya reveals similar mindset:

      “It is bizarre to suggest that NATO and the rest of the world lacks the capacity to deal with Libya — it does not,” Biden said. “Occasionally other countries lack the will, but this is not about capacity.” He said that U.S. efforts were better concentrated on Egypt.
      “Should we be spending more time knowing everything there is to know about the make-up of the opposition in Libya,” or should the United States be devoting its efforts to “what’s going on in Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood?” Biden said. “It’s not even close.”

      Pardon the loose connection, but Biden's words on Egypt have the same "it's not about them, it's about us" feel as the Iraq oil theft. Just what efforts are we devoting to Egypt and the Muslim brotherhood. My guess is, that like in Iraq, we want to control the outcome so it is favorable to our "interests". The Muslim Brotherhood is our on location boogey-man.

  • Israeli Soldiers' Brutality at Prison Camp for Palestinians
    • Palestinians are stateless and without citizenship, and therefore have no sure title to property and no guarantee against being treated harshly and arbitrarily by the Israeli military authorities who rule over them. The so-called ‘Palestine Authority’ has no control over the land, sea or air of Palestine, which is itself disappearing into large Israeli colonization projects. The Palestinian noncombatants in Gaza are under an illegal blockade intended, according to wikileaks cables, to keep them on the edge of starvation without actually letting them die of lack of food.

      Yet the Cliche Stream Media always seems to always find a symmetry between the Palestinians and Israel. The boot on the throat is no worse that the crushed adam's apple. Gaza rockets that rarely hit anything, or do any damage, are more devastating than the powerful Israeli air force that never fails to do lots of damage. All the massive imbalances so well described by Prof Cole are trivialized by our politicians, punditry, and media.

      That absurd cliche "Middle East Peace" implies that a) the most important violence in the Middle East is whatever concerns Israel, b) the Palestinian resistance to their subjugation by Israel is a form of war, and c) only Israel is entitled to have a (self serving) history. The Palestinians must forever live in an ad hoc world where their every action is judged as a stand alone event.

      If I were Rupert Murdoch, I tell every one of my media outlets to Find every instance "Middle East Peace", and Replace with "Palestinian Sovereignty".

  • Qaddafi Using Cluster bombs on Civilian Areas
    • Human Rights Watch on US cluster bomb usage in Iraq:

      The widespread use of cluster munitions, especially by U.S. and U.K. ground forces, caused at least hundreds of civilian casualties. Cluster munitions, which are large weapons containing dozens or hundreds of submunitions, endanger civilians because of their broad dispersal, or "footprint," and the high number of submunitions that do not explode on impact. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that it used 10,782 cluster munitions,[2] which could contain at least 1.8 million submunitions. The British used an additional seventy air-launched and 2,100 ground-launched cluster munitions, containing 113,190 submunitions. Although cluster munition strikes are particularly dangerous in populated areas, U.S. and U.K. ground forces repeatedly used these weapons in attacks on Iraqi positions in residential neighborhoods. Coalition air forces also caused civilian casualties by their use of cluster munitions, but to a much lesser degree.

      Given that the US has used cluster munitions liberally in the past (also Afghanistan, Yugoslavia), and apparently has no intention of joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions, we don't have great standing to express outrage at Qaddafi's use - its what we might do (and have done) in similar situations. But as The Worlds Most Heavily Armed Nation, whose to argue with us.

      Depending on what's on his dance card, I expect that within the next few day Obama will announce that, because of Qaddafi's intolerable use of cluster bombs, we have to step back into the fray. Simultaneous with the announcement will be the sea launch of a big bunch of cruise missiles, hundreds of fighter bomber sorties, and several those fire breathing C-130's will go on station. (I may be completely wrong - I'm just going by that tired old script.)

  • Allies Insist on Qaddafi departure
    • French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and US President Barack Obama Op-ed

      The regime has to pull back from the cities it is besieging, including Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zintan, and its forces return to their barracks.

      However, so long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds.
      and:
      For that transition to succeed, Colonel Gaddafi must go, and go for good. At that point, the United Nations and its members should help the Libyan people as they rebuild where Gaddafi has destroyed — to repair homes and hospitals, to restore basic utilities, and to assist Libyans as they develop the institutions to underpin a prosperous and open society.

      I think this is as clear as it gets. Regime change, regime change, and regime change. Even if the Qaddafi forces return to their barracks, NATO will keep pummeling them until regime change. A bit foggy as to what civilians NATO will be protecting if the Qaddafi forces are back in their barracks. Certainly those living close to the barracks will be in jeopardy. NATO has one card to play - military violence delivered from the air and sea. (This explicit doctrine will make it easier for the US to get back in the fight after wimping out a couple of weeks ago.)

      After regime change the UN (which didn't advocate regime change) will rush in and help the new Libya rebuild, primarily because Sarkozy, Obama, and Cameron (aka the "SOCS") say it should. I don't see much movement to rebuild Iraq, and I doubt that a few billion are in the Obama/Ryan budget to rebuild Afghanistan. But this is a new "Groundhog Day".

      Does the Arab world welcome having the SOCS running the Libya show? And does anyone believe that there will be quick and happy ending?

  • Wisconsin is not Broke, "Budget Crisis" a Fraud
    • Please forward to Obama speech writers. Let them add "My fellow Americans", but that's it. I think a little populism right now would break the spout right off the tea pot.

  • AU proposes Ceasefire, NATO protects Misrata, Ajdabiya
    • Is the term "loyalist" still an accurate characterization of the forces fighting the rebels?

      The fact that these forces are fighting and persevering against the rebels in the face of total NATO air superiority, and immense firepower, must indicate a certain degree of patriotism, other than pure fealty to Qaddafi.

      I would think that when soldiers in the anti-rebel forces see there comrades blown to bits by NATO, and keep on fighting, coupled with tribal and regional antagonism toward the rebels of the east, there many be enough animosity generated to keep the civil war going even if Qaddafi steps down.

      Isn't it a bit arrogant for the rebels to make non-negotiable demands that can only be backed up by having the NATO forces decisively defeating the Qaddafi regime? Accepting that Qaddafi is a tyrant deserving of being tossed in a cauldron of molten lead, and the rebels are the essence of free market, egalitarian, democracy, I doubt that NATO(-US) will decide to accept that mission.

  • Al-Sadr Threatens Mahdi Army Revival if US Troops Stay
    • I suppose only the most naive, bleeding heart, lefty would think this way, but instead of wanting to leave forces with guns, artillery, tanks, and attack aircraft behind, wouldn't it make more sense to leave behind a large well financed AID operation to help the Iraqis put their destroyed country back together.

      Since Desert Storm, continuing through sanctions, then the invasion/occupation, our true investment in Iraq has been the destruction of that nations viability. The forces Obama would like to leave behind have one function - create military violence on command, just like in the good old days.

      Iraq now has huge military and police forces whose only real role is internal security, and they all speak Arabic. If they can't handle security, I doubt very much that our forces would be of much help. After all, Iraq was at its most insecure when we were warring the most, with our vast resources.

      Muqtada al-Sadr has understood since day one of the invasion that our only interests in Iraq were our own "national interests". That's why we tried like hell to kill him and his followers, e.g. the "Surge" on Sadr City.

      It must be a lot more fun to be a neocon, never having to be bothered by outcomes, and being devoid of the empathy gene. But since Obama is moving the left rightward on a daily basis I might live to find out how it feels.

  • UN Allies Strike Convoy near Brega as Rebels begin Oil Exports
    • Rebel Leader Slams NATO

      Similar to what Socrates quoted above.

      Here is very good example of the the stark differences between interpretations of the UN resolution. Turkey, acting in accordance with UN arms embargo, prevented resupply of rebels at Misrata. The rebels are incensed because they read something into the resolution that is simply not there, i.e. NATO will do everything possible to aid the rebel mission of regime change and conquest of Tripoli. Of course that is exactly what USAnato was doing until last Saturday. But it looks like EUROnato is acting in accordance with the UN resolution (is that wrong?).

      Here's the Alice in Wonderland story. The US wants to pound the Libyan military, plus backup the rebels, for as long as it takes to get regime change, and until April 2 that is exactly what it was doing (and putting a few CIA Gucci's on the ground). On April 2, without announcing any change in objectives, the US silenced its weapons and leaves EUROnato as the main violence agent. But EUROnato seems to take the UN resolution literally, embargoing rebel arms replenishment, and defining the no fly zone rules to include rebel aircraft.

      The utterly and justifiably confused rebels want to go directly to the UN to complain, but how is the UN supposed to respond to a complaint that EUROnato forces are acting in accordance with the UN resolution. I suppose the UN could just tell the rebels to follow that yellow brick road, and Obama will second it.

      On Tuesday morning, the Turkish navy, acting under NATO command, refused to allow a private ship carrying weapons, ammunition and medical supplies from the rebel capital of Benghazi to land at Misrata. The Turkish forces inspected the ship, which had been chartered by private citizens in Benghazi, then, citing a United Nations-imposed arms embargo on Libya, the captain to surrender the arms or turn back, according to Gian Micalessin, an Italian journalist who was aboard.

  • Libyan Rebels Aspire to Democracy
    • Stuff like this would would quickly be labeled, in the US, a fascist, commie, pinko, socialist, liberal agenda - hide the kids. If the rebels want our support they better get some talking points from the American Enterprise Institute. "strong and productive public sector", those are fighting words.

      o Developing the national economy on the basis of knowledge, programming, and planning so that the people would benefit from national resources and correct the influential economic establishments in order to put an end to poverty, unemployment, and inflation, and to move toward the society which enjoys health, clean environment, abundance, and welfare.

      o Establishing the state of the real economic partnership between a strong and productive public sector and a free private sector that is self-motivated, and a supportive and active civil society that confronts corruption and the exhaustion of resources.

  • Questions for Glenn Greenwald on Libya and the end of NATO
    • I think I could agree with your position if the "leader of the free world" wasn't such a double-talk artist, and had the character to honestly to state his goals and strategies. But given the fact that he put CIA boots (sandals, flip-flops?) on the ground well before he told us we were pursuing humanitarian obligations, and given that our military quickly switched from no-fly to no-walk to no-exist, it's hard to grasp the "values" at work.

      Then there is this to contend with:

      “ 'His military, at a certain point, is going to have to face the question of whether they are prepared over time to be destroyed by these air attacks or whether they decide it’s time for him to go,' Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee."

      Gates isn't saying that aerial attacks will continue until Qaddafi stops hurting civilians. He is saying that NATO has declared war on his regime, and the war will end when the regime is gone. And, by the way, Libyan citizens, NATO and the West are diligently working on a replacement regime for you.

      It is a bit weird that having decided on regime change by force of arms, Obama has removed the US contribution to that force. Has non-US NATO agreed to the military objective of continuing air attacks on the Libyan military establishment until there is regime change (to a regime that meets our approval)? I'd like to see that in writing.

      Glenn has every right to be skeptical of any Obama rhetoric or claims. Obama has be so consistent in taking actions that contradict his rhetoric, that skepticism is the best approach.

  • Torpey: Support the Libyans but Don't Arm Them!
    • From Washington Post
      "'His military, at a certain point, is going to have to face the question of whether they are prepared over time to be destroyed by these air attacks or whether they decide it’s time for him to go',Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee."

      So, the strategy is regime change by aerial death and destruction. From our safe haven in the sky, and out to sea, the coalition of the un-endangered will rain down missiles , bombs, spent uranium bullets, and whatever else they can come up with, until Qaddafi is dead or gone. Basically a death warrant has been issued for the entire Libyan military regardless of what activities they are engaged in, other than giving Qaddafi the boot or the shiv.

      And with Qaddafi and his military out of the way, let the real civil war begin. There will be enough east vs west vs south vendetta to last well through Obama's next term.

      I figure it took Gates about ten seconds to sum up the US strategy, in words we all can understand. Obama's speech was 28 minutes long, but I don't believe he took the ten seconds out to say what Gates did.

  • Answer to Glenn Greenwald
    • I think it's safe to say that the projected massacre has been avoided. Benghazi is safe. So now what?

      According to the news, the CIA boots have been on the ground since almost day one. You know they can't sit still.

      NATO is attacking the Libyan military wherever it happens to be and whatever it happens to be doing. An occasional wild round hits Qaddafi's house.

      Close air support for the rebels, and for further destruction of Qaddafi's forces, is now in being.

      Clinton says NATO will keep at it until regime change.

      Considering the feebleness of the rebel forces, the only role they play is to march into towns where NATO has destroyed the Qaddafi forces. So why even call it a civil war. We can just use Clinton's own position statements to define this military activity - the mission of the NATO forces is regime change. Oh, and Clinton also mentioned that the UN has no say so in this action.

      Being that's what it is, all the debate and arguing should be focused on the pros and cons of regime change, and the quantity of death and destruction we are willing to meat out to achieve it (Iraq and Afghanistan could be used as baselines, because we know our capacity for inflicting remorseless death and destruction is quite ample).

      My recommendation to the leadership is that Obama toss his copy of "Doubletalk for Dummies", and Clinton go through the trash to find her copy of "Diplomacy for Dummies".

      Most of the "kinetic" action will take place hundreds of miles to the west of the peaceful city of Benghazi and its safe civilians.

      The impending 100% inevitable massacre got our foot in the door, then defense of the hapless rebels got the door open, and now regime change will keep us going for quite a while.

  • Obama on Libya vs. Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich and Carrot Top
    • NYT Washington in Fierce Debate on Arming Libyan Rebels

      Mr. Obama pledged on Monday that he would not commit American ground troops to Libya and said that the job of transforming the country into a democracy was primarily for the Libyan people and the international community. But he promised that the United States would help the rebels in this struggle.

      In London, Mrs. Clinton and other Western leaders made it clear that the NATO-led operation would end only with the removal of Colonel Qaddafi, even if that was not the stated goal of the United Nations resolution.

      Mrs. Clinton — who met for a second time with a senior opposition leader, Mahmoud Jibril — acknowledged that as a group, the rebels were largely a mystery. “We don’t know as much as we would like to know and as much as we expect we will know,” she said at a news conference.

      Interesting three paragraphs. Obama says its up to the Libyan people and the international community to transform Libya into a democracy.

      Then Clinton (whom I suppose speaks for the administration) says the NATO-led operation would end only with the removal of Colonel Qaddafi (aka regime change), UN be damned. She made it clear. Funny, Obama didn't make that clear Tuesday night.

      Then Clinton acknowledges that not much is really known about the folks we'll be giving the keys to Tripoli, after regime change.

      There's also a lot of talk in the article about al Qaeda's role in the Benghazi Brigade. No one seems to know much on that subject either, but its obviously scaring some people.

      Is it only us lefties that can't chew gum and walk? Just based on the above, I'd say that the Obama administration can't sequentially operate gum machine and put on its shoes.

    • US may be taking a back seat, but evidently in a vehicle controlled from the rear.

      WASHINGTON — Even as President Obama on Monday described a narrower role for the United States in a NATO-led operation in Libya, the American military has been carrying out an expansive and increasingly potent air campaign to compel the Libyan Army to turn against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

      My read of this NYT article leads me to the conclusion that Obama has told the military to do everything possible,without "putting boots on the ground", to destroy Qaddafi, his regime, and his military forces. Not regime change, regime incineration.

      The "speech" was just another Obama fig leaf bouquet. NATO is simply a loose leash on the American pit bull.

  • Women's Rallies in Libya Protest Rape
    • Getting closer to ownership.

      The regime still vastly overmatches opposition forces militarily,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, the ranking American in the coalition operation, warned in an email message on Monday. “The regime possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. Coalition air power is the major reason that has not happened.

      Do we pave the road to Tripoli with Qaddafi's charred soldiers and equipment, then provide the rebels with close air support/special-forces/whatever to take the capital? Will the siege of Tripoli be then defined as a "humanitarian" enterprise, (or maybe a Fallujah)?

      Is the alternative politically bearable, i.e. letting the rebels advance on their own without air support, then get decimated? This is problem for even the most competent double talking politician. Maybe Obama will call in sick tonight.

      Seems to me that the most humanitarian thing to do now is declare an ad hoc east-west truce line.

  • All Hell Breaks Loose in the Middle East
    • Maybe switch to a "Mustn't Lose Zone"

      Extract for Washington Post article:

      Obama did not directly call for Gaddafi’s ouster, as the administration has done repeatedly in the past. But he said the Libyan dictator must stop attacks against civilians and pull back his forces. He added that Gaddafi had “lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to rule.”

      The administration has in recent days been discussing with its allies the possibility of supplying weapons to the Libyan opposition as coalition airstrikes failed to dislodge government forces from around key contested towns, according to U.S. and European officials.

      France actively supports training and arming the rebels, and the Obama administration believes the U.N. resolution that authorized international intervention in Libya has the “flexibility” to allow such assistance, “if we thought that were the right way to go,” Obama spokesman Jay Carney said Friday. It is a “possibility,” he said.

      Gene Cretz, the recently withdrawn U.S. ambassador to Libya, said that administration officials were having “the full gamut” of discussions on “potential assistance we might offer, both on the non-lethal and the lethal side,” but that no decisions had been made.

      The coalition has stepped up its outreach to the opposition, inviting one of its senior leaders to a high-level international conference in London on Tuesday, called to determine future political strategy in Libya.

      Even if one accepts that every word coming from our/NATO/Rebel side is true, and every word for Qaddafi's side is false, its becoming clear that what we/NATO/Rebels have in mind is military victory that eliminates Qaddafi. The Rebels make it clear that they are helpless without air support, and our side is beginning to make clear the no-fly-no-drive-no-logistic support operation has its limits, if the objective is victory (rather than just stopping the massacres of civilians}.

      So we'll have to dig into our limitless arsenal and figure out how to massacre Qaddafi's forces. If only they would lay down their guns and run, we wouldn't be forced to massacre them, but they don't have our respect for human life.

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
  • How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed

    • A military official said Air Force B-2 stealth bombers flew 25 hours in a round trip from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and dropped 45 2,000-pound bombs.

      Its all so mechanical. Well we've got these planes in Missouri, so why not use them. We've cruise missile cruisers and submarines, throw them in. Don't forget the fighter bombers, we've go hundreds of them, plus what France and Britain can come up with.

      No doubt the CIA and special forces are chomping at the bit for a piece of the action (if not already doing their part), and the NSA is listening to every phone conversation and reading every e-mail originated in Libya.

      As far as the rebels are concerned, they just acquired loan of the best military violence machines on the planet.

      Once those machines are put into use, you've got to show some good results beyond just rubble, but that may take a while (ten years after the rubble phase in Afghanistan, it's still a patient wait).

  • UN Allies Bombard Libya to protect Protesters
  • French Jets Defend Benghazi
    • This is the "ducks in a barrel" phase. Our cruise missile ships can hit hundred of "military" targets without breaking a sweat. Our planes can launch smart bombs and missiles from high altitude, far from the targets, and out of range of Qaddafi's air defenses (which will vanish in a few days).

      The forces needed to do this have been idle because the Taliban doesn't have tanks, planes, and armored personnel carries. This is what the Air Force and Navy have been waiting for.

      Interesting that despite all the pomp and rectitude we hear about using military violence, our leaders have given no clue about what come after all the ducks are dead. We had a "ducks in a barrel" phase in Afghanistan and Iraq - might offer us some clues.

  • Qaddafi Bombards Rebel Cities, Defies UNO
  • The UN to the Rescue in Libya: Is it too Late?
    • So if Qaddafi stops military action, it will be proper for some activity operating at the behest of the UN to arrest him (and his regime)and turn him (it) over to the World Court for a war crimes trial. Preventive detention is a must since he (it) has all the resources necessary to skip town.

      If he continues to fight, the military forces operating at the behest of the UN will first destroy his air power, then decimate his ground forces, or anything with a similar appearance. I'm sure Qaddafi himself will be a prime target. Our country will probably get to apply its cruise missile cruisers and submarines that have been of so little use lately.

      Then comes the rebels part - establish an egalitarian democracy. This should be piece of cake given the recent successes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      And just when the UN tidied up Libya those rebels in Bahrain will request the UN do a repeat performance against the Saudi Royal Family.

      Sounds like "Shock and Awe" to me. Or to use that trite metaphor, driving a bulldozer through the Pottery Barn.

  • Arab League Requests UNSC to Impose No-Fly Zone
    • I remember when there was a no fly zone over Iraq, there were almost weekly reports of the fighter jets, enforcing the zone, attacking ground targets. Would the enforcement aircraft, and the commanders controlling them, have the self discipline to, say, refrain from hitting a Qaddafi tank column heading towards the rebels?

      Implementing a no fly zone during an active war would clearly make us a military ally of the rebels - and on our way to another "pottery barn" episode.

      Purely hypothetical, but would taking sides with the rebels in Libya mean that we would take a similar a similar position if mayhem broke out in Saudi Arabia? My guess is that we'd find some way to keep the Royal Family in control and out of danger.

  • Rebels Take, Hold Key Oil Cities in Fierce Libyan Civil War
    • Prof Cole, is it too early to attempt to characterize the political and social beliefs of the rebel military force, and its view on future governance, should it prevail?

  • The World Oil Politics of the Libyan Revolt
    • This is link to an article about Robert Gates' recent speech at West Point. IMHO a very historic speech because Gates says:
      "In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined"

      Well, I think there are a few nutcases around that are licking their lips to take a shot at liberating Libya. Dumb politicians and smart bombs make a scary combination - the bombs miss and in comes the land army.

      link to nytimes.com

  • Popular Army to March on Tripoli, as Qaddafi Massacres Protesters
    • You've got to wonder whose side we are on. The US is taking that eminently gravitas action - sanctions. Sanctions will hurt the protesters far more than it could would hurt Qaddafi, or make him ponder his options (see Iraq/Hussein).

      However, if it's reported that, because of sanctions, Qaddafi is forced to eat pet food and sleep in a car, I'm likely to change my opinion.

  • Communique No. 5 Suspends Constitution, Prorogues Parliament
    • I think that generals like promotions, discipline, respect, and no talking back. Hard to perceive these guys sitting across the table from young revolutionaries and bouncing around ideas about the political and economic transformation of the country. And the only bargaining chip the revolutionaries have is to call out the crowds - an action the generals could squash like a bug, then simply ignore the tut tuts from the somberly outraged heads of state.

      If the generals are sincere maybe the UN could provide negotiating assistance, and fill in the holes in the skill sets of both sides.

  • Egypt Protests Spark Confrontations in Yemen, Algeria
    • In today's news the Egyptian military dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution. You can't get any more in charge than that. But so far the state of emergency is still in effect and the prime minister says that "security" is the number one priority. That is sort of strange since the opposition forces were quite peaceful - no security issue.

      Of course OUR real concerns are the Muslim Brotherhood and the treaty with Israel. We've made the Muslim Brotherhood into a ready-in-case-we-need-it bogeyman regardless of their intentions or actions. The treaty worship tells the Egyptian populace that that foreign policy of the New Egypt has certain limits, and tells the Army how to keep that 1.3 billion coming in each year. Egypt's poverty, hunger, and unemployment are not something we plan to worry about (maybe dispatch some three piece suits to lecture on free markets and free trade).

      This is all OK with the Obama's mantra of talk big but don't carry a stick. In my view what he should really do is give Hillary a tent and some rations, then tell her to camp out in Tahrir Square until it is perfectly clear that the Army is going to give the country back to the people. And tell the Military that the 1.3 billion is on hold until Hillary leaves the Square.

  • Scenarios for Egypt's Future: How Democratic Will it Be?
    • The West, especially the US, will be watching very closely the attitudes of the newly vocal (hopefully newly powerful) opposition towards "Free-Markets". It seems we always link political freedom to market freedom. Free-Markets without political freedom has always been OK, but political freedom without Free-Markets has to be challenged and disrupted.

      Pervasive unemployment,poverty and hunger seem to be the underlying energy feeding the unrest, but you don't hear much about mechanisms in to alleviate this distress. "Free Market Capitalism" means that owners of capital are free to do anything they want to make more money (examples abound), wealth distribution from the rich to the poor has seldom been a tactic.

      Unfortunately it is political suicide to even hint at socialism. But political freedom cannot be considered an end in itself when the real problems are unemployment,poverty and hunger. Somewhere along the line the pink flag will have to show itself.

  • Wael Ghonim vs. Barack Obama: Change we Can Believe in, Yes we Can
    • Obama is the self made President without a constituency. He not only ignores the Left, but criticizes it for thinking progressive, and questioning his sucking up to the Right.

      Meanwhile the Right is having the time of its life tearing Obama down - no insult to egregious. This is made so much easier because the Left, the Right's customary adversary, can't find compelling reasons to defend him.

      And through all this Obama is convinced he has a divine right to a second term.

  • Egypt: I ask Myself Why
    • The "political theory of everything": Wealth concentration vs wealth distribution.

      The only way Egypt can approach an egalitarian goal and help its hungry poor, is to find where the money is hidden and start passing it out in the form of services and social support. What could be scarier to us concentration worshipers?

  • Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu
    • We are the Angels of Death. How can our words possibly mean anything to those who know of our deeds? Netanyahu and Mubarak can spit in our faces because they know we are no better than they are.

      We have a history of unprovoked violence and destruction that makes their own extravagances seem like child's play: the Desert Storm obliteration by bombing of Iraq's physical infrastructure, followed by eleven years of putting Iraq on starvation rations via sanctions, then outright destruction of anything that happened to be left over via invasion and occupation. Add to that perpetual war against Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the mayhem our glob trotting, throat slitting "special forces" do in secret. Who can top that in the "really destructive behavior" category?

      I don't think we can hope to lead until we can face our own reality, but that is not in the cards.

  • Zewail's 4 point Plan for Egypt
    • Seems to me that it will take massive (enlightened) dictatorial forces to rearrange the distribution of wealth and improve Egypt's institutions. Obviously the ruling and and wealthy classes do not have any inclination to do so and will fight any changes that reduce their status (and they bring a lot of weaponry to the fight).

      As Prof Cole points out, fair elections do not necessarily lead to wise and competent legislatures and effective administrations. A purple finger is often just a purple finger. As obscene as it sounds, maybe only Mubarak has the power and control to make the changes the people want. Might need the enlightened to point a gun at his head to get him to go along, but at least he knows what strings to pull and what heads to bash.

      Ah, that's probably as Alice in Wonderland as voting in geniuses at country building.

  • White Terrorism
    • Of course the article itself does not contain a bullseye, just the word, buried in a lengthy discussion by Democratic supporters about choices in the 2008 Democratic primaries. I don't think Democrats yelling at Democrats about primaries would raise much visceral hate and anger.

      link to dailykos.com

  • Iran's Oily Revenge on US Drivers, US Troops
    • Devastation is in the eye (and stomach) of the beholder. The Big Rich that runs the Teapublican party is not worried by global warming, since it figures it will always have the wealth and power to move itself to more pleasant surroundings.
      To paraphrase that famous bleeding heart: Let them drink saltwater and eat sand.

    • I agree totally with "Economist". We would be launching a "preemptive" double Shock and Awe against Iran if that country ever dared to do unto us as we do unto them.

      If Wikileaks ever gets a hold of the top secret stuff, we'll have better idea of the clandestine damage we are inflicting on Iran, and I doubt that it is petty.

  • Collateral Damage in Pakistan: Cloughley
    • "with massive propaganda advantage to insurrectionists,
      extremists, thugs and anarchists of all descriptions" Any room in
      that nasty collection for normal innocents who are rising to
      rebellion and action because they are being bombed and killed? Just
      a question.

  • Iraq has a Government: Can we Please Come Home Now?
    • Sorry so late but I just read the piece by John J. Mearsheimer. He seemed to make alot of sense till I got to this paragraph:

      "In general terms, the United States should concentrate on making sure that no state dominates Northeast Asia, Europe or the Persian Gulf, and that it remains the world’s only regional hegemon. This is the best way to ensure American primacy. We should build a robust military to intervene in those areas, but it should be stationed offshore or back in the United States. In the event a potential hegemon comes on the scene in one of those regions, Washington should rely on local forces to counter it and only come onshore to join the fight when it appears that they cannot do the job themselves. Once the potential hegemon is checked, American troops should go back over the horizon."

      This, combined with later comments on the need to keep China in its place, seemed to me to be a call for American imperialism in an absolute way. And provide the military with a rationale for ever increasing growth by simply marking sovereign nations as "potential hegemons". How would China be expected to react to such a doctrine? Or any other country for that matter. Neocons can live with this quite well.

    • Isn't it a shame that the last 50,000 to leave are soldiers rather than utility engineers and contractors? When they leave our consciences will clear as the purest air, and any subsequent malhappenings in Iraq we be blamed on their lack of American style exceptionalism.

      But it's best they go quickly because if they fire their weapons or drop their bombs, it will not be in the cause of freedom, governmental integrity, altruistic distribution of wealth and services, and infrastructure refurbishment. Rather it will be to add some muscle to the to the very large Iraqi military, whose sole purpose is internal security for the powers in office (or to just take over), aka marshal law on demand (or coup).

      A common phrase used by anti-evolutionists is that "evolution is as improbable as having tornado roar through a junkyard and create a 747". Likewise is the probability that a hellfire missile or a 500 pound bomb aimed at a "building of interest" will produce an electric generator or an honest politician.

  • Lawsuit over Drones in Pakistan forces CIA Station Chief to Flee
    • If not for Pakistan......This article is magnificently self-serving for the military-imperial complex. If only Pakistan would wage total war on whomever we finger in western Pakistan the Afghanistan war would be over in a heartbeat. Its hard to understand why Pakistan is hesitant to engage in a civil war for our benefit.

      Why can't we at least throttle down the two way infiltration. If there is any gadget on earth that can detect every sort of movement on the ground, we have warehouses full. Why can't we spend a few more billion to drastically reduce infiltration? Maybe because we don't want to - then we'd have a hard time painting the "if only..." picture.

      The military-imperial complex has captured the headlines, and is slowly but surely trying to get the public to accept that Pakistan is our real enemy, and that country really does have WMD.

  • Paul Defends Wikileaks: Neocons Don't Like Losing Grip on Empire
    • He put it in a nutshell. It would be great if he mustered the Libertarians and their energy to his views.

  • Wikileaks and the New McCarthyism: Maybe we Just Need a More Open Government
    • "The State Department seems to be trying to scare young people in international relations fields off from reposting wikileaks cables at their Facebook pages, warning them it could harm their future job prospects with the government."

      Excuse the paranoia, but doesn't this imply that the Government has the means to obtain or retain historical records on Facebook entries by individuals? EG Mr Smith puts some Cable links on his Facebook page, keeps them there for a few months, then deletes them. Five years later he applies for a State Dept job and is turned down because of the Cable links. For this to happen Big Brother must really be Infinite Brother (aka NSA). But that's just paranoia talking, maybe there will simply be a place on the application form to list Wikileaks Cable links placed by the applicant on his/her Facebook.

  • The Karzai Problem in Afghanistan: Wikileaks
    • "Gen. David Petraeus is quoted as admitting that Karzai is “weak” but saying it is better to leave him there. "

      I may be reading something into this, but it sounds like Petraeus is implying that removal of Karzai is at the discretion of the US, but not now. Might that make Karzai a bit paranoid?

      Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
      Just sat there and sat there refusing to fall.
      But all the king's horses and all the king's men
      Knew that a fall could mean their end.

  • Jahanpour: US following Israeli 5-Point Plan on Iran: Wikileaks
    • Last sentence of my post above should read "brass" not "bras". Probably had some fleeting "don't touch my junk" type of thought when I typed the latter.

    • "Another Munich". I think those two words have buried whatever good intentions of every American President has had since WWII.

      Taiwan, the Koreas, Cuba, Israel, Grenada, Panama, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, 9/11, the Cole, all gave Presidents the challenge of choices at one time or another. But once the key adviser whispered the magic two words into the Presidential ear, the Secretary of State was sent on a three week tour of Tiera Del Fuego, and the SECDEF was called in with his bras and their "not a problem" briefing charts.

  • Gaza as Israel's Gimp
    • Surely in those 250,000 cables made public by WikiLeaks there must be at least a few that remark on savage treatment of the Gazans. But maybe not, since our most serious "diplomatic" effort seems to be oriented towards getting a consensus to deliver the same sort savagery to the Iranians. Of course our tactics are intended to only affect the ruling class, so any killing, maiming, dislocation, and starvation of the rest of the Iranian populace would be collateral damage, a.k.a. noble self sacrifice by the victims in order to advance the altruistic goals of the USA to make the world a better place.

  • Palin: "We must support our North Korean Allies"
    • I'm sure an expert, thorough, and careful examination of Sarah Palin would reveal the extent and causes of her behavioral and intellectual shortcomings, and note that such shortcomings are not unusual in the general population.

      However, a much more urgent inquiry is needed to determine how, in a modern, sophisticated, nuclear armed nation such as the USA, Mrs Palin could attain enormous political strength and be a politically viable choice for the Presidency. I'm guessing that that the answer to that riddle is that there is no connection between political popularity and the capacity to govern (please put the other half of my governor term in a doggy bag). We'll be slipping and sliding on snake oil till we can insert some interdependency.

  • Southern Afghans Have Never Heard of 9/11
    • This gives the Republicans a chance to do us some good. There will be little argument now that Afghanistan is Obama's war, and I don't think "2-0-1-4 - and then maybe a few more" will resonate in a positive way with the public, but it is a catchy phrase for the opposition.

      The Tea Party Republicans have a ready made good cause that can help them disown their campaign nonsense - get us out of Afghanistan in the foreseeable now. Obama has taken all the fight out of the Democrats, and the legacy Republicans will be busy choking on their contradictions (pay down the deficit with a tax cut), which leaves the Tea Party to break loose from the pack.

      In my view the Petraeus Pentagon sees its self preservation dependent on never returning to the barracks, and Obama is helping along by providing a minimum of three more years of deployment time. It will take a ferocious political effort bring the troops home, and the only raging bull around with any political power is the Tea Party.

      Just a speculative thought not based on the fossil record.

  • Afvietnam
    • You can teach a foreign army how to fight, but that doesn't mean you can teach it who to fight. Like in Iraq we are attempting to develop an indigenous military force that will assume our military, security and political objectives, yet we have trouble enunciating them ourselves. But it must be pretty transparent to the Afghans that our objectives are almost always based on USA self interest.

  • Species Loss Threatens Humankind
    • Its amusing to contemplate what paleontologists, in a civilization 50 million years in the future, would conclude from the fossil record they exhume. Assuming our civilization and its history are long dead and buried by that time, they will have to construct a theory based on natural phenomenon to explain the drastic elimination of so many species and the concurrent appearance of new species (genetic engineering) over a period of just a few thousand years.

      A few crackpots will theorize the existence of a materially sophisticated society that found little reason to co-exist with any species that was seen to be competing for resources or was a pest of some sort. Such species were quickly eliminated. Species of material value were simply consumed in toto. The strange new species that abruptly appeared during this era were more puzzling, but did not staunch the crackpots. Their pet theory for this phenomenon was simply that the society created them. The term "Intelligent Design" caught on.

  • Shimkus Pwned on 2 Percent Climate Claims
    • I think there is a subliminal political message that the anti warmers are on to. We as a nation really don't care what happens to the rest of the world (apparently Israel is the exception).

      When the recent floods devastated a large segment of Pakistan, Prof Cole noted how little media coverage there was. The lead stories were concerned with how the natural devastation might impact and interfere with our own minor drone devastation in Waziristan. Since we have no drone program there, global warming induced tidal devastation of Bangladesh would pose less of a concern. We know from our reaction to the extreme political violence in Africa, that any Global Warming devastation will probably be blamed on the Africans, and be of no consequence to us.

      The quick destruction of Iraq and the slower destruction of Afghanistan made no dent in the aggregate American conscience. And do what you want in Yemen and the "Horn of Africa", we don't really need or care to know.

      If the case was made that Global Warming would favorably impact North America with a more temperate climate, longer growing seasons and adequate precipitation, the unspoken thought might be "bring it on", or " damn the carbon- burn baby burn".

      For a rich and heavily armed nation such as ours, a simplistic "what, me worry?" political message has legs.

  • Cole in Tomdispatch: Asia Rising, American Hessians
  • Gates, the Adult in the Room, Rebuffs Israeli, Republican Warmongering on Iran
    • From the "sane" wing of the Republican Party????????????
      "So I would disagree that only a credible military threat can get Iran to take the actions it needs to end its nuclear weapons programme…"

      Here is the Secretary of Defense, aka Mr Gravitas, stating that Iran has a nuclear weapons program.

      So the matter that "Two National Intelligence Estimates in a row, 2007 and 2009, have assessed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program" has been resolved. Mr Gates, with total access to all intelligence and who works for Mr Obama, has cleared the air - discard all you have heard or read about Iran not having a program. This statement certainly gives Lindsey Graham and the other war (more accurately nation demolition) lovers all they need rev up the violence machine.

      Mr Gates is just saying give sanctions a chance. That's plan A. But since Iran has a nuclear weapons program, if A doesn't work, there is always plan B.

  • Bachmann Harms US Economy, Security with Scurrilous Charges about Obama in India
    • A little of topic but in the same swamp.

      "In an interview with National Journal out this week (last week), Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was asked what his party's main political job will be after next week's election. He gave a surprisingly stark answer: 'The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.' " (Quote from Oct 29 Wall Street Journal)

      Definition: trea·son
      –noun
      1. the offense of acting to overthrow one's government or to harm or kill its sovereign.
      2. a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state.
      3. the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.

      Now, one need not parse Mr McConnell's words to understand his meaning. He is dedicated to destroying the Obama presidency regardless of the substance of Obama's actions in office, and regardless of the needs of the nation. Though no one, other than those who write dictionaries and the maniac left, would characterize Mr McConnnell's remarks as treasonous, it might be useful to ponder how his remarks might be a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state, or the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.

  • On How War with Iran might Destroy the United States
    • Mr Broder is a good student of the American conscience. He knows that preparation for war against Iran will incur no popular uprising here, and that, should the war proceed, there will be little domestic grief over the killing of Iranian men, women, and children, destruction of families and communities, starvation and disease, and whatever other horrors are visited on that country by our "recession cure".

      I'm sure that a war with Iran would follow the "classic" model of Desert Storm, where we bombed Iraq back into the stone age before our foot soldiers crossed the border. With drone technology much more advanced now, we could delay sending in the troops forever, their proxy being a blanket of lethal drones that destroys any object on the ground that gives off the slightest aura of "enemy combatants".

      Of course, a war without American casualties does have a down side. It will be so easy to ignore that the public will have lots of free time to notice that the recession is still with us, and the deficit is growing faster because we certainly would not raise taxes to pay for the war. "A drone in every garage, and a Hellfire in every pot" may loose its attraction.

      But, "war is swell" does have a nice ring, its upbeat.

  • Ted Nugent vs. Jon Stewart: Fumigating the Democrat Rats vs. Can't we all Get Along?
    • I agree wholeheartedly everything you say about Ted. It would be difficult to come up hyperbole about his speech.

      I think Jon really missed it. David Brooks could have written the speech. In my opinion the main fault is confusing routine with substance. Yes, we do all the mundane things day-in day-out, but so do the poorest people in the poorest countries. Everywhere there is routine. The poorest might visit the the local trash heap every day to find some food, bath daily in filthy water, and live in a makeshift sheds, but among themselves there is continuity, they tell jokes, smile occasionally, and probably bitch less than we do (even with the local oil well leaking into their water).

      But politics is supposed to be about the substance of our routines, not simply their existence. And the Republican are not about that substance, the Democrats are (or are supposed to be). Rugged individualism does not provide clean water, safe food, and comfortable habitat. The guiding hand of competent government is needed do things like that.

  • Saudi Arabia Saves Chicago Synagogue from al-Qaeda Bomb Plot
    • Our definition of aggression: A violent, or intended violent, attack on the USA and its outlying entities (including elements of the armed forces) by any Muslim nation or organized Muslim group. Prior violent interaction between the USA and the party attacking the USA has no relevance to the determination that aggression has occurred - there is never a justification for aggression.

      Our definition of retaliation: The USA's violent response to any act of aggression. The scope and duration of the retaliation is wholly independent of the source and location of those committing the aggression - although such factors are considered when formulating acts of retaliation and coincidence can occur.

      Note that with the exception of Israel, these definitions are solely applicable to the USA.

  • Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar Walk out on O'Reilly's Muslim-Baiting
    • Jesse is right to point out that free speech is free speech. But I think that Whoopi and Joy set a great example by walking out on O’Reilly (which in no way diminished his right to speak freely) .

      Considering the absolute nonsense we are hearing during this political season, I wish more public/media figures would pull a Whoopijoy (new word?). Actually the reverse is more common. when Christine O'Donnell opens her mouth, the mass media goes on super alert, powers down cell phones, and get set to turn whatever nonsense comes out into a lead story or news video. I don't even know the name of her opponent but I doubt he's a125 hitter too.

  • Update on German Terrorist Plot
    • "It can be said that such operations are hard to forestall and that also they are a comedown for al-Qaeda, since they don’t accomplish anything at all. You will note that Mumbai is doing just fine and PM Manmohan Singh declined to take the bait and go to war with Pakistan, as the Lashkar-i Tayyiba had hoped. "

      I'm afraid that the US would not react with India's restraint should a Mumbai type operation occur in the US. I would guess that the first thing to happen is an overhaul of the Patriot act to erase any pretense of constitutional protections. FISA would be scrapped and the NSA would get cart blanch and tons of money to make Big Brother a lot bigger. Then we'll start a new war somewhere. Needless to say the media/political IQ will shrink from the size of a prune to the size of a raisin.

      For bin Ladin - mission accomplished.

  • Netanyahu Blows off US; Mahmoud Abbas pleads for Settlement Freeze
    • Is what we caused in Iraq so much different than the Palestinian misery inflicted by Israel. This testimony by Refugees International is a depiction of the of the plight of the Iraqi population that is eerily similar to the plight of the Palestinians. Although the raise and burn politics are quite different in each case, the human miseries are very much alike.

      Obama, the political animal, knows that when the votes are counted, remorse and empathy for the downtrodden are not advantageous attributes for a candidate. If the people, the congress, and the political parties lose little sleep over the destruction of Iraq, why should the President fall on his sword defending the Palestinians and the UN resolutions.

      Obama's position on Israel has always been "my ally right or wrong, nevertheless my ally", and "till death do us part". This incident will pass, and as the saying goes "when you have egg on your face, make an omelet".

  • Rumsfeld, Bush and the Supreme War Crime
    • You can get sizable portions of the US population emotional about "death panels", "non-ground zero-non-mosques", lying under oath about sexual encounters, Obama's true religions affiliation and place of birth, busing school children, and a myriad of other issues, but its hard to get up much emotion about making war on weak defenseless countries, once a bogeyman, or racial/ethnic/religious inferiority, is successfully established in the public mind.

      Of course we get emotional about American servicemen getting killed and wounded, but that only reinforces our desire to inflict more pain on our opponents.

      Indicting Rumsfeld et all for war crimes would resonate as an inferential indictment of a large portion of the population, a majority of congress, and the mainstream media. So it won't happen because We the People are manning their barricade.

  • 1 Dead, 45 Wounded in Kabul anti-American Protest
    Kabul Bank Taken over by Government
    • "reports say that 35 police officers and 10 protesters were injured"

      Hmm, I wonder if it counts against us that one of our major missions is to train and equip the internal security forces, which, of course, are under the control of the central government, which, of course, is terminally corrupt.

      Not altogether dissimilar to our "training" (and bombing, only because they have no bombers yet) mission in Iraq.

  • Schama: Islamophobia Recalls anti-Catholic, Anti-Jewish Nativism of America's Past
    • Mr Schama gave the Islamophobia entrepreneurs a pass. Sarah Palin even got sort of a pat on the back for opposing the Koran burning - a nuttiness to far even for her.

      I think it's a little too simple to blame the hysteria on hard economic times. Regardless of George Bush's soothing words right after 9/11, he quickly began two wars based on the premise that Osama Bin Ladin and his al Qaeda goons were out to conquer the United States and turn it into a fundamentalist Islamic state. The assumption was that he had hordes of radical Islamists at his beck and call.

      Times were economically good when the wars started, but the public and congress had nothing but enthusiasm for destroying Iraq and Afghanistan, and a fair amount of enthusiasm for adding Iran to the list.

      In short we've spent a decade building up a hatred for Muslims, and giving scant value to their lives and institutions.

  • Shiites Choose Adel Abdul Mahdi as PM Candidate
    • “The security is worse than they say it is. There are no public services, no jobs. You can’t drink the water. There’s no electricity and the politicians are only interested in themselves. There is only so much you can tolerate."

      I'm curious, are the politicians vying for power discussing these realities, and advocating policies and programs to make things better? Is it part of the arguments and debates between all the contestants? I haven't seen anything in the media on this subject.

      Professor Cole?

  • Dems Reluctant to Allow Taxes on Rich to Rise
    • I will vote for every Democrat on the ballot, and not a single Republican.

      And I would gladly inject steel into Democratic spines. But I'm afraid that Obama has deftly removed the spine from the liberal-progressive-fix real problems with real solutions animal. Glenn Greenwald pretty much sums up the anatomy of the spinectomy.

      Who'd have thought that this was the "change" Obama was talking about during the campaign? And how many generations will it take for evolution to work its magic and slide the backbone back in.

  • Olbermann: Wave of Religious Intolerance Sweeps US
    • If the Republicans are using the GZM issue for political gains, exactly what are their politics? Easy answer, regardless of Lincoln's party affiliation, they are aligned with the dark but authentic American realities.

      The saintly, all knowing Founding -All men Are Created Equal -Fathers did not bequeath to future generations a communal DNA rich in altruism, fairness, honesty, empathy, and the notion of equality. If they had, 70 years of legal slavery - hiccup - 100 years of legal Jim Crow, the Indian Wars, and other unpleasantries would have been unlikely. But the Founding - minimize popular suffrage - Fathers were no more capable of doing so than any other group of leaders and politicians, in any other country, at any other time in history. And I doubt they intended to.

      So the Republican politics and philosophy are grounded in the real history of American behavior. And that real history does not offend a majority of Americans. The approximate 200,000 non-combatants deaths in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were music to our ears. The 350,000 sickness and malnutrition deaths caused by the 11 year sanctions on Iraq, never made the front page, way to unimportant.

      When it comes to religious bigotry, how dearly we always embraced it. Regardless of the Holocaust, antisemitism was in full bloom after WWII. Interestingly I remember a popular slogan that went "guns for the Arabs, sneakers for the Jews". (I suppose one could read into that "finish the job".) When the US Government says and acts as if Osama bin Ladin and his corp of cave dwellers intend to make the US a radical Muslim country, one must assume he can't do it without the help of millions of Muslims, so every Muslim is a potential enemy, and bigotry against them is patriotic.

      I agree with what Keith Olbermann said , but the only way it could make a difference would be if President Obama said the same thing at prime time from the Oval Office. Without such a showing of courage (at least by Obama standards), I'm afraid this November will be "guns for the GOP, sneakers for the Dems".

  • What would Martin Luther King Say? Mosques and the New Jim Crow in America
    • 9/11 was a tactical operation by al-Qaeda that leveraged meager resources and apparatus, plus design peculiarities of the WTC, to cause a stunning loss of American life. This was an act initiated by Bin Ladin as an expression of his personal geo-politics. At the time, as I recall, the pejorative emphasis on the bad guys was that they were radical Arabs, not that they were Muslims.

      But our responses to 9/11 have been so broad and so encompassing, that we are at war with large populations that are Muslim, but not necessarily Arab. And we can hardly wait to start up with Iran, Muslim but not Arab. In WWII we fought Germans and Japanese, not "radical" Germans and "radical" Japanese. So the notion that there is no such thing as a good Muslim, is quite supportive of our agenda for war without end in the Middle East.

      Of course that notion is also quite supportive of Bin Ladin's desire set the Muslim world against the US. It is simply amazing what he has done with a few clever operatives, some flying lessons, and an armory of box cutters.

      But, what an opportunity it is for us to leverage some building permits into a swift kick in Osama's groin, if we just let the Islamic center be built as planned.

  • Bolton was Contradicted by Bush on Iran's Bushehr Reactor
    • Whenever I get repulsed by all the clamor to attack Iran, I tell myself not to be so bothered. The Iranian people are of the same species as the Iraqis, and that species is not made of flesh and bone like us, it is what's known as an "abstraction species" So when an Iraqi or Iranian "life" is taken, or a"limb" blown off, it's a passionless event, sort of like a cloud disappearing from the sky.

      All that "war is hell" stuff really doesn't apply when you bomb a country inhabited by an "abstraction species". The non-us media may show some grisly scenes of dead and severely wounded babies, blocks of houses destroyed, tattered, hungry and thirsty men, women, and children wandering about in a daze. But those people are not like us. We feel pain and loss - they don't.

      A useful leaning tool is the Vietnam War. We were responsible for the deaths of several million members of an "abstraction species" during that war, yet, when it was over we felt fine. No brooding guilt, no wish to console the survivors, no need to think about that country and its people at all - except for the 2500 US POW/MIA's . Unlike the Vietnamese, the POW/MIA were real people (dead or alive) whom we spent years fretting about.

      On the other hand my gut tells me the right thing to do is establish a pact with Iran that states that any non-provoked attack on Iran will be considered an attack on the US, and we will respond with all necessary force. There is a very good precedent for taking this position in the Middle East - Kuwait (maybe no written pact).

  • Abedin: The Illusion of a ‘limited war’ against Iran
    • We are at once giving Iran a plausible rationale for a Manhattan Project, while at the same time daring (and hoping for) them to start one.

      With the counter insurgency tactics and paraphernalia faltering in Afghanistan, and Iraq's disappearing demand for US war fighting activities, attacking and warring with Iran gives the military-industrial-complex justification for new hardware, more planes, bigger bombs, and, of course, more inflation of the intelligence community.

      War, as far as the US is concerned, is no longer "hell" - it's now "swell". Just like sharks have to keep swimming for their gill to work, the MIC must keep warring to maintain its health. I'm sure the plans for North Korea are in their umpteenth revision.

      The Nobel Peace Prize committee members must be so embarrassed that they wear burkas whenever they leave home. Its becoming clear that Obama's comfort zone is within the Pentagon, and any expectation of humanistic tendencies are for naught.

  • Dispute over Civilian Casualties Roils US-Afghan Relations
    • What about the wounded civilians? If we only grudgingly accept civilian kill numbers, wounded civilians are truly invisible.

      Time's gruesome cover picture of a mutilated lady is supposed to shock us into realization of Taliban cruelty, but surely the victims of US military violence must have unpleasant marks to show.

      We know the wounded aren't whisked off to Walter Reed or some super hospital in Germany. And it goes without saying that if don't acknowledge the wounded's existence, we certainly have no obligation to care for them.

      As for wounded Taliban, I'm sure we would destroy any ambulance or hospital we could vaguely identify as being theirs.

  • Dems Souring on Afghan War as 25 Killed by Roadside Bomb in Nimroz
    • Disappearing the Dead
      An interesting read (long, but even an interesting skim). Though published in Feb 2004, it is totally relevant to the current civilian casualty situation, and the military's response thereto.

      The scary thing is how predictable the Military's mistakes and faulty strategies are, and how helpless it is to try and change anything.

  • Repubs Plot Israel-Iran Apocalypse and the Collapse of the US Economy
    • When you think about it, the "Manchurian Candidate" was fictional child's play compared to bin Ladin's real life " pinch the elephant's ass" tactic. Why rely on the fortunes of a single political candidate when you can activate an entire political party (the wealthiest one at that) to carry out your plans. From the cave's mouth, the view of the sun setting in the West must be truly spectacular.

      And yet, why do the Chinese leaders have that Mona Lisa smile?

  • The Orientalism of Israeli Troops Dancing
    • Washington Post Milbank article about Obama-Netenyahu press appearance says it all.

      Here is an excerpt that is particularly relevant:

      Obama didn't even mention Israel's settlements until a reporter inquired -- and then he declined to say that Israel should extend a moratorium on settlements that expires in September. Avoiding any criticism of Israel, he instead directed Palestinians not to look for "excuses for incitement" or "opportunities to embarrass Israel."

      Netanyahu celebrated victory. "To paraphrase Mark Twain," he said, "the reports about the demise of the special U.S.-Israel relationship aren't just premature, they're just flat wrong."

      So in Obama's view, the Israeli treatment of, say, the Hebron Palestinians could not possibly be a rationale for incitement or justify the embarrassment of Israel. And that's exactly Netenyahu's understanding of Obama's view.

      Obama's message to the Palestinians is that their suffering is acceptable to the United States, and they have no freedom of action to escape their suffering. Him and Netty just don't give a s--t.

      On the other hand Barry gave Netty the go-ahead to get incited anytime Israel feels like it. Of course, Israel would never embarrass the Palestinians. Not when its so easy to bomb, bulldoze, imprison and starve them.

      The next time us liberals go looking for a candidate, lets make sure a spinal x-ray is part of the vetting process.

  • On Fourth of July, Let Iraq Go
    • Why lug all that stuff home and abandon our magnificent bases when the plan is wage the next preventive war right next door in Iran? If we can stick around in Iraq for another few years, use our clandestine forces to insure that the present corruption level is sustained, or hopefully enhanced, and substantially bribe the Iraqi military and civilian leaders, then we can have the banana republic we always wanted - one that would be a friendly launching pad for our inevitable victory in Iran. It is unfortunate that the main objective of the "Surge", to eliminate al Sadr, failed. He may not fit the corrupt and bribeable profile we prefer.

      Being a warrior nation means you never have to say:
      Sorry.
      Please.
      Any radiation sickness?
      Was that a wedding we just hit?
      Can I have permission?
      Are you hungry?
      Are your kids malnourished?
      Are you living in misery?
      Do you have a job or a place to live?
      And so on..........

      So leaving Iraq is not only going to make the Iran war more expensive, it will also show a weakness that is inappropriate for a warrior nation, especially the World's most heavily armed, barracks-averse, warrior nation.

  • Petraeus confirmed Quickly by Committee;
    Seminary rioting, Jalabad Airport Bombings
    • "He won the croix but not the guerre"
      Petraeus is another one of those congress-worshiped heroes who have a knack for collecting croix after croix in spite of their record on the guerres. Allan Greenspan, George Tenet, and Robert Gates also come to mind.

      The General's promise to do more to protect his troops, i.e. less bodily exposure, more firepower-from-a-distance, is absolutely in harmony with congressional and public sentiment. Also it is consistent with his (and most commanders') desire to frame the start of his command as D-day. All things past don't count.

      The military-industrial-complex is a self-impregnating species. Obama's 2011 withdrawal from Afghanistan is a dastardly attempt to slow down semen transfer.

  • Lessons of Petraeus' Iraq for Petraeus' Afghanistan
    • It would be comforting to imagine that the failure (in terms of Mc Crystal's strategy) of the Marja campaign would kindle a notion in Obama's head that we are chasing our tail in Afghanistan. More comforting, but somewhat conspiratorial in construct, would be the notion that the clever and shrewd Obama was providing the military all the kings horses and all the kings men to determine once and for all if there was something to all the clever weaponry, theories, and strategies.

      So far Obama, by his post McCrystal statements, still has his eye on the tail. Gen Petreaus, an expert at the fog of war, will work to make sure that doesn't change.

      In my view, we are confronted with a military - industrial - political complex that will do everything in its power to keep from returning to the barracks. A return to the barracks would mean a drastic reduction in defense spending, and loss of front page visibility. The perpetual enemy is the key (and nine years in Afghanistan, if not perpetual, is is in the ballpark).

  • Limited Israeli Easing of Gaza Blockade Greeted with Dismay
    • "The blockade kills employment and investment, guaranteeing malnutrition in children. In famines, people do not starve because there is no food. They starve because they cannot afford to buy food suddenly become expensive. Likewise, the 10% of Palestinian children in Gaza who have experienced stunted growth are just in families where the breadwinner has been unemployed for a long time and in which relief aid doesn’t quite go far enough."

      And from our President down to those making tea, who cares. I just got home from seeing the movie "The Most Dangerous Man in America" about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (a terrific movie), and one of the saddest points is that, in the end, the vast documentation of political deception and lying that braced the public support for the Vietnam War had little impact on the public - Nixon got reelected by a landslide (and Ellsberg, a true hero, was reduced to a non-entity). I'm afraid that similar revelations about the Iraq War, the Afghanistan fox hunt, the eagerness to throw some military violence at Iran, and our baseless fondness for Israel, would get the same yawn as the Pentagon Papers. We are who we are.

  • Turkey Shelves Israeli Cooperation,
    Considers breaking off Ties;
    Israel Lobbies in Congress denounce Ankara
    • It can't hurt that a respected country is reacting seriously to Israel's deeds rather than to myths about its singularity. The US is too deep in that singularity, and strangled by embracing Israel's animosities as its own.

      Although the AIPAC trained symmetrysts will go on characterizing Gaza's hunger and poverty with "let the punishment fit the crime", Turkey has opened the door to assessing Israel's crimes - and contemplating punishment. Also Turkey diplomacy has shown that you don't have to "dispatch a carrier task force to the troubled area" every time you get mad.

  • Big Oil's Predations are not Your Fault
    • Perfect!
      For too long we have accepted capitalism as fundamental to organizing our society, as opposed to its real, and essential, function which is to provide goods and services.

      Capitalism has only one guiding principle - make as much money as you can, any way you can. Nothing wrong with that as long as societies can establish limits to prevent harm to the common good. Lobbying and legislative capture are profoundly correct practices for corporation and industries if they lead to making more money, as are cost savings that result when pollution is substituted for containment and treatment.

      Maybe the spill will change our perspective and give our legislatures the guts to work for the common good. But most likely we will have to wait until the Republican Party can empathize with the working population, or when pigs fly - whichever comes sooner.

  • Historic UNSC Condemnation of Israel, and of Gaza Blockade;
    World Body Demands release of Aid Activists, Ships
    • "But the Obama administration refused to endorse a statement that singled out Israel, and it proposed a broader condemnation of the violence that would include the assault by passengers of the Israeli commandos as they landed on the deck of the ship."

      From 6/1/10 NYT article about the UN resolution. There go those symmetrists again. I guess it's an act of violence to stop an Israeli bullet, get stung by an Israeli taser, or get hit on the head by an Israeli rifle butt.

      My Israel right or wrong, but nevertheless my Israel. This incident says a lot about Obama's instincts and core values. The instinct is to retreat, and the core value is articulateness, and clever turn of phrase are next to godliness.

  • Israeli Commandos Kill as Many as 10-16 Aid Activists,
    wound over 50 as they Board, Capture Gaza Aid Flotilla
    • This will be an interesting task for the symmetrists, those that always find an equality between Israel's power and wealth, the Palestinians weakness and poverty. But surely the menace of a flotilla carrying 600 civilians and 10,000 pounds of aid, threatening to microscopically improve the conditions of the Spartans of Gaza, provides a good starting point.

  • Kirchner: Bush angrily said War would Grow US Economy
    • When the Bush camp says war is good for the economy, one has to consider the economy he is talking about. Its the economy of the well to do. And the primary way to improve that economy is to do things that concentrate wealth.

      Bush's wars gave him a means to exercise extensive control over Federal expenditures. Just being a Republican "war president" is enough to weaken the knees of the opposition. Bush the "war president" had the automatic support of rich and powerful, who completely understood what "good for the economy" meant when GWB said it. He was able to sluice vast sums t0 the military-industrial complex, and more specifically to friendly corporations.

      His war rhetoric, as suitably amplified and ratified by the mass media, reduced the left to sporadic hand wringing. There was no possibility for the left to push any program or policy that remotely suggested wealth distribution.

      So in Bush's time the poor got poorer, the rich got richer, with help from the wars, and that means the economy HE was concerned about got better. That's why we haven't heard a single apology from this man who left OUR economy in the dumpster.

  • Petraeus Memo Widens scope of US Military Covert Operations in ME
    • Same old doctrine: The only truly sovereign nation is the USA. All others have limited sovereignty, with limits to be determined ad hoc by the President of USA in consultation with the military-industrial complex. (Not just the Mideast, remember the CIA grabbing a guy off the streets of Rome It).

      The Petraeus Memo is a classic example. "Gathering intelligence" is just inserted to give the operation a benign look. After nine years of non-stop violence, our military is hardly going to take a pass on a target of opportunity - in the hope that one more kill will behead the enemy.

      Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Nobel Peace Prize committee announced that it had had a serious lapse in judgment, and was retracting the award to Obama? Maybe give it to Juan Cole.

  • Pakistan's Social Media Ban Endangers Economic Growth
    • I suppose one could make a counter argument by presenting a graph with two lines. One line shows the per-capita bandwidth in the US over the past thirty years, and the second shows percentage of total financial wealth (net worth minus real estate holdings) owned by the lower 80% of the population. Of course the bandwidth line will streak upward at an astounding rate, but wealth curve will show a decline from about 9% to 7%. Its not clear that our TTT (text, twitter, talk) revolution has had an impact on other aspects of our community - certainly the intellectual content of our political discourse has not been elevated.

      I think the "draw Mohamed" reaction should be seen in the context that we are bringing, or have brought, substantial lethal harm to Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. And a significant, powerful, political element in the US would like to add Iran to the list. Maybe its not easy to take a joke the same time you are taking incoming fire from the same source.

  • Angry Tea Partiers are not the Moral Equivalent of Compassionate Democrats
    • And the day before the oil catastrophe in the Gulf, the Right was bitching about too much government regulation and the horrors of the "nanny state". 24 hours after they were bitching about the lack of government (Obama's, not Bush's) oversight, regulatory control, and adequate response. Their, dreamed of, tiny government would have no problem coping with the disaster, "what's a few dead turtles?".

      Heads I win, tails you lose

  • BP Trashes Apollo Astronauts, Parrots Sarah Palin; Oil Godzilla heads for Coast
    • The blame game seems to be surpassing the intensity of the spill itself. But it will not clean up one drop of oil. In today's political climate, where winning is the only thing, the blame game might actually hinder the effort to clean up the oil mess. Political Gang A will will be averse to Political Gang B getting any credit for good works and vice versa.

      There is plenty of time to fix blame and administer punishment. If Exxon Valdez is any example, this party will be going on for twenty years or so - lawyers will make sure of it. The most important thing for Obama to do now is tell us that he will use every power at his command to make the Gulf whole again, and mean it - unlike that Texas brush cutter and his Katrina promises.

  • Police: Shahzad has no Links to Taliban; Clinton Remarks Produce Firestorm in Pakistan
    • I think Clinton is just a mouthpiece for the administration's tough-on-terrorism PR campaign. Same with Holder. They are following the Bush paradigm: We have nothing to fear but the absence of fear itself, and always be on the lookout for a useful fallguy.

      It be nice if the administration informed us (and not via anonymous sources) the full story of the Times Square bomb itself. What was the likelihood of it actually detonating, and what damage could it do? Was the bomb plot a serious attempt to kill people or just another successful ploy to drive us deeper into the cave, and give our database experts nervous breakdowns?

  • Why Economic Sanctions on Iran will Fail
    • I remember the arguments made prior to Desert Storm. Some were arguing for sanctions (I think Biden was in that group) But the opposing chant was "sanctions won't work", only a military attack on Iraq will work. Father Bush was purely on the attack side, and brought the nation along. We pummeled Iraq's infrastructure from the air for forty days or so. Then, having forced Saddam out of Kuwait and decisively destroying his military and economic capability, we imposed eleven years of sanctions followed by an invasion.

      Your very well reasoned argument how sanctions won't work is really the kind of fodder the neocons, Israel, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama, need to justify a military attack on Iran. Once "sanctions won't work" becomes the common media and Beltway mantra, bombing Iran naturally rises to the only viable option - the last resort is the only resort. we can't just do nothing .

      I doubt that 95% of Americans can factually finish this sentence: Iran is our arch enemy because.... (I know I can't.) But our inherent enthusiasm for using military violence, when prospects for US casualties are low and the recipient of the violence has been suitably monsterized, will insure that no peace movement will break out of the coffee shops. Americans will go along quite reasonably. (We bombed Serbia for thirty days and the only big media story was the the shooting down of one American pilot.)

  • Obama hints that Two-State Solution may be Impossible
    • This is classic Obama - never take a stand if it might offend the Right. The expedient notion of symmetry saves the day. There is an inherent equality between the strong and rich, and the weak and poor, the boot on the neck and the neck.
      ‘ The two sides “may say to themselves, ‘We are not prepared to resolve these issues no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear,’”

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