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Total number of comments: 342 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:40)

sherm

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  • Afghanistan: The End of America's Longest War?
    • "By the end of 2014, only a few thousand U.S. troops will be left, and they will mainly supply close air support to the Afghanistan army when it engages in combat."

      Isn't that our main use of force now? My guess is that the US "close air support" force will not be Karzai's "bomber command". Rather I suspect it would be another tool to be used by the US in pursuit of its own objectives.

      And close air support using our ostensibly super accurate weapons could mean anything from helicopter gunships and drones to ship and ground launched cruise missiles launched far outside of Afghanistan. I also think that the "few thousand troops" will be augmented by double that in US contractor personnel. We never go half way.

  • Good News for Planet: Wind Power tax Credits Renewed in 'Fiscal Cliff' Deal
    • Yes, the US is the twelfth highest per capita carbon dumper, but the populations of 1 through 11 are tiny in comparison to the US - Australia, the largest of the 11, has about one fifteenth the population of the US.

      In our continuous search for bogeymen, the media prefers the nation-state comparisons instead of per capita comparisons. With this standard we can always say "What about China and India?" when the carbon finger is pointed at us. This argument won't bare the light of day when per capita numbers are used.

      China is number 78 on the list with a per capita figure that is about one third of ours. India is number 145 on the list with a per capita figure of about one tenth of ours.

      The MIC and the neocons like the nation-state comparison because it implies a sense of symmetry between us an them - thus making them rivals to be dealt with (marines in Australia, love, kisses (bases) for Myanmar).

  • Rupert Murdoch, in midst of Hacking Scandal, tried to entice Petraeus with Presidency: WaPo
    • Liftoff. The leaking of the conversation gives Petraeus a firm foothold in the Right Wing establishment. Having lost the CIA and young love, he must be hard at works finding a new pedestal. For all practical purposes the tape confirms his True Believer status, and makes him a "made" member of the Murdoch/Fox clan.

      The tape is also a boon to Murdoch/Fox because the re-election and the hacking has taken some wind out of their sails. Now they have an all-inclusive war hero/chick magnet on their team. With a calculated slow role, two or three years is plenty of time to mold an attractive 2016 candidate.

      And if Obama continues emasculating progressive/liberal political power, as he has done in his first four years, by 2016 it will be Murdoch vs Murdoch Light, so why not just go with the real thing.

  • In Rebuke to Obama, Netanyahu-- Much of Western Europe to Support Palestine as UN Observer State
  • Top Ten Steps that are Necessary for Lasting Gaza-Israel Peace (or, Good Luck!)
    • Riddle of the day:
      When is the number "5" much higher the the number "150"?

      Answer: When the former is the number of Israeli "war" deaths, and the latter the number of Palestinian deaths.

      It's not the hobnail boot on Gaza's throat, it's the annoying wiggle of that adam's apple.

      Wake up and smell the symmetry.

  • Iran Sanctions may be 'Crippling,' but they are not 'Working' (Cher)
    • We like to hurt bad guys, and we have a high tolerance for collateral damage. In this context if sanctions are "crippling", then they are working.

      This way the politicians are relieved from being expected to transform the bad guys into good guys, since this never happens. Applying physical and economic hardship to eighty million Iranians is as good as it gets, and is quite consistent with our need to codify "might makes right".

  • Drone, Sanctions affecting Medicine, Intensify US-Iran Tensions
    • Remember when Obama took office in his first term he started right away making cabinet choices that left liberals nervous. Within a year or so he basically turned his back on his electoral base. Well, the base came back anyway, so it's time to repeat the process. Liberals were a pain in the ass to him in 2009, and they still are in 2012/13.

      Obama is who he is. There is a lot more instant gratification from starving Iranians, droning Taliban and al Qaeda brass, and establishing a base in Australia, than working on the safety net.

    • When properly motivated, our capacity for inflicting cruelty on weak nations is quite robust. And since this is an area where the President has significant decision making autonomy, if the spiked boot fits....

  • Real Petraeus Issue was Evaluation of Afghanistan
  • Top Ten Wish List Progressives should Press on President Obama
    • I can't see any symmetry between the radical right and the radical left. The radical right owns the Republican party, the House of Representatives, and most of the industrial, commercial, and media substance in this country. I don't think the radical left owns so much as a pretzel kiosk.

      To the members of the radical right, "moderates" are the radical left. Things as non-political as adopting the metric system or transitioning to a dollar coin, would be beyond the pale for the radical right unless blessed by its industrial/commercial arm.

      For all practical purpose, in order to get anything done, Obama has think and operate as a radical - new term: "radical moderate".

      Of course, when it come to militarism and military violence, Obama is the radical right's secret poster guy.

    • Emphatically yes!!!

      Spells out a legacy to be proud of.

  • Top Ten Coming Disasters: Romney's America 2016
    • On the other hand, consider Romney - the "ambition", rather than Romney - the "candidate".

      On day one of his fantasized administration (if not before) "ambition" will be plotting his "four more years" strategy. He'll sit with his amoral political advisers (aka Etch-a-Sketch Grand Masters) and review the substance of "candidate's" positions, so well articulated in today's blog.

      The conclusion of course is that there will be no "four more years" if "candidate's" positions are implemented. At the end of the huddle "ambition" gives the order: "Etch to left, move the neocons from the VIP list to the no-allowed-here list, and go see if Dennis Kosincich (domestic) and Ron Paul (defense, foreign policy) are available for consultation. Oh, and let's tax the crap out of the rich."

      Personally I'll choose spineless ambition, Obama, over the spined variety because I might be totally wrong.

  • Syrian Regime flies 60 bombing Raids against Rebel City Quarters
    • Without giving credit to Assad in any way, I wonder what control he actually has over the ferocious war his armed forces are waging. Could he put a stop to it if he wanted to?

      Does the Arab Spring have a faint resemblance to post Tito Yugoslavia?

  • Romney's Major Flip-Flops in the Third Debate
    • What is your take on the extreme fealty to Israel that both men repeatedly expressed in the debate? Does this build the good will necessary for us to somehow convince the Muslim nations to become more moderate, per our definition of moderate of course? Also what about Obama's comment that Egypt's abrogation of the treaty with Israel would be a red line? Does that mean drones and sanctions?

      I was amused by Sheiffer's hypothetical question about what the candidates would do if Iran attacked Israel. It produced the the quickest knee jerks of the night, they both promised unyielding military support for Israel (we have their back). But the not-so-hypothetical of Israel attacking Iran, or both candidates promising, in so many words, US military violence if Iran got close to a nuclear weapon, was never discussed - just mentioned.

  • Romney's Five Wars
    • New verb: Romney - to change positions at random on any issue without any substantive conviction regarding prior and revised views.

      But I think Romney is less naive about foreign affairs than one thinks. Bain was quite an operator in the Russia's privatization program (not pretty). Bain and Russian cigarettes

  • Top Ten Things Mitt Romney Gets Wrong about US Middle East Policy
    • It's not occupation, it's "bombcupation". I'm sure the bomb factories have not been idle. Like McCain sang "bomb, bomb, bomb________bomb, bomb Iran.

      Whatever horror bombcupation creates (and there will be horror), it will not interfere with our shopping and social networking. No US casualties - what, me worry?

  • Surprise: US Drones Kill Civilians, Provoke Hatred (Woods)
    • You hit the nail on the head. Obama knows exactly what droning brings, and knows that he alone has the power control or stop it - no fight with congress required.

      This is Obama's violence pure and simple. Though he may be, he can't claim as an excuse to be intimidated by the Pentagon and CIA.

      Probably his reluctance to bring to justice any prior commiter of war crimes was based on his own intention to sustain the "kinetics" status quot.

      But since Romney is portraying himself as a nastier and more aggressive kinetics advocate (Iran yes, yes ,yes), and Ron Paul is not in the race, I will end up voting for Obama - with evils being the operative word in "lesser than the two........"

      Diverging, if I may, to the "blasphemy vs free speech" debate, didn't we pay Mubarak and his military billions of dollars a year to suppress free speech and political speech in Egypt for 30 some years? And didn't Hillary Clinton say that the Mubaraks "were just like family" to the Clintons? I may be missing something.

  • Top Ten Likely Consequences of Muslim anti-US Embassy Riots
    • Here's few days of relevant reading - cables from the Libyan embassy with Stevens' name on them. Hard to find any indication that Gaddafi is viewed as a bloody, viscous, brutal, demented dictator. In fact the prevailing view seems to have been that he had active progressive plans to improve the health of the country and the lives of the populace.

      If he was a brutal dictator (as seemingly so), it's not hard to imagine some anger at the US for kissing his butt for some US business interests while his relentless ruthlessness was ongoing. embassy cables

      Here is an interesting one about human rights.
      political prisoners

    • Meant to include this link:
      Guardian article

    • Joe, droning for commanders has been a small part of our military violence in the region. Iraq, until a few years ago, and Afghanistan have been on the receiving end of daily made in America ordinance.

      But even in the droning for commander operation, there seems to be extensive evidence of civilians being killed an wounded.

    • "However, no one in the United States will know that Yemen ever existed or that the embassy was attacked, or that the US is pursuing a policy of drone strikes in that country."

      So we could drone Yemen back to the stone age, and the American public might not be in the least bit interested, especially with new I-Phones and I-Pads coming out every few months. Maybe the Yemeni protestors know that, but the film is a better focused trigger for their actions.

      It's a shame that the angry people in the Middle East can't distinguish between their unacceptable street violence and the benign "kinetics" we send their way.

  • Romney Jumps the Shark: Libya, Egypt and the Butterfly Effect
    • The US and its NATO allies flew 10,000 sorties during which a weapon was launched. Is it inconceivable that at least a few Libyans were enraged by the bombings and the losses they caused? Couldn't a few swear themselves to blood vengeance?

      Or must we assume that any ill feelings by Libyans, no matter their personal suffering from the air campaign, are improper, and indicative of militant/terrorist tendencies? When we do our military violence, we never feel the recipient's pain. Quite the contrary, we convince ourselves that such pain does not exist.

  • Romney Poses, as Militants Burn Benghazi Consulate, killing Ambassador, 3 staffers, & Demonstrate in Cairo, over Islamophobic Film
    • As always, an insightful peak at reality. And as usual the (quite large) "militant" wing of the US political establishment, and its extremist followers, will launch a suitably sized tsunami to wash away any reality based tendencies.

  • Dear Democrats: If you do That you have to do This
    • My construction of this is that Obama had two main political objectives after his election: suck up to conservatives, and emasculate progressives. His cabinet appointments were devoid of strong progressive personalities, and he couldn't find competent Democrats for Defense secretary or ambassador to China. No problem putting ex-generals on his payroll.

      The great debates of Obama's term were between him and the GOP. Democrats in congress were relegated to simply agreeing with the master.

      The only way the progressives could have had a voice, especially in national security and surveillance state issues, would have been to challenge Obama in the Democratic primaries just to give these issues public visibility, and scare the President bit.

      Obama's bet is that the public will detect the spiraling insanity of the right, and see him as less demented. Having been emasculated, the progressives will have to adopt. Find some raging Tea Partyers, turn them, and bring them into the family. And Ron Paul could be great help. Rage wins.

  • Tutu Slams Tony Blair for Illegal Iraq War, boycotts Leadership Conference
    • If, in 2003, there had been rational concerns that Iraq had WMD, then the increasing evidence of absence revealed by the inspectors should have triggered a rational re-examination of those concerns. But, rather than startle the political establishment (and the mass media), this evidence was an annoying reality that had to be smothered.

      An easy smothering tactic was to denigrate the UN. Claims of UN incompetence are readily accepted by the US public and the politicians. But feeding our blood lust vengeance for 9/11 was the most effective way to trivialize the inspection results. At the time we collectively wanted Arab blood (Taliban blood was too vague to satisfy our lust).

      As much as it didn't matter that the inspectors were making fools of our intelligence agencies, it also didn't matter that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Bush and his court will never be tried for war crimes because they swam in a sea with millions of co-conspirators.

  • White Terrorist Plot to Assassinate the 'Commander in Chief'
    • It will be interesting to find out if the FBI ever considered aiming a sting operation at these guys. If it was a group of angry Muslims, we know where the $87,000 in weapons would come from, along with dam blowing and apple crop poisoning training.

  • Romney Hood and his Merry Band (Cartoon)
    • Of course Obama steals from everybody and gives it to the joy stickers and throat slitters, aka the Military Industrial Complex.

      I know I'll end up voting for him, but it's a choice between a very dim candle and total darkness.

  • Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others
    • We should be thankful that the FBI steers their potential terrorist sting targets away from the most mundane, economical, and highly productive tactic: buy a gun and some ammo, pick a location, and start shooting people.

      But still, if the Muslim terrorist threat is so ubiquitous in the USA, why haven't we seen a plethora of "grab a gun and start shooting" events conducted by the Muslim terrorists?

  • Romney, Reid, Taxes and the Un-Macho
    • I imagine that Romney's team is working furiously to find out who the leaker is, so he or she can be zombied, stripped of reputation, fired, and banned.

      And does a true patriot avoid paying taxes when the nation is at war? (As I recall, Nixon did.)

  • Romney in the Land of the Anglo-Saxon Uncertain Olympics: Not Ready for Prime Time
    • "If Romney couldn’t get the UK right, you wouldn’t want him leading the free world."

      The only significant vetting process for the "leader of the free world" is verification that the candidate is a native born citizen who is at least 35 years old.

      The selection process is centered the candidate's ability to mislead the voters into thinking that he or she actually possesses the intellect, judgement, and temperament to assume one of the most difficult jobs in the world. The few people that actually have those qualities don't don't seem to be interested in running. (My favorite in this category is George Mitchell.)

      Romney is just a talking cigar store millionaire who couldn't make it through a nanny vetting. Obama might get the nanny job.

  • How Long will We let the National Rifle Association and Corrupt Politicians Kill our Children?
    • A strange truth rarely described so clearly. Beautiful.

    • "Blowing people away" is such a common and entertaining element in movies, TV, games, and mass media depictions of military operations, that it must influence the mind set, in of a few of us at least. I've seen in many "manly" forums how gun lovers brag about their uninhibited intentions to "blow away" any bad guy that comes across their path. Of course the braggers have rarely actually killed someone. Call it the "make my day!" syndrome.

      Maybe the best lessons about the realities of armed violence can come from the thousands of soldiers who spent the last eleven years killing, and know the severe mental anguish and its affects on their lives. These soldiers have the public respect to out muscle the NRA, no other entity has.

      I think the mission has to start with deglorifying the gun. The intense media coverage of the Aurora massacre provides a good dose of the bloody realty inherent in "blowing people away".

  • Letter to President Obama on Yemen: More Aid, Fewer Drones, Please
    • "The US has a fundamental strategic interest in Yemen to address several key objectives: combating AQAP and other armed groups; ensuring Red Sea stability for oil transport and shipping routes; and preserving regional security while minimizing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In each of these areas, Yemen’s stability is critical to achieving the United States’ core strategic interests."

      The notion that the US would, or could, embark on an overarching altruistic effort to transform Yemen into a modern prosperous democracy in order to achieve narrow self-serving "core strategic interests" is beyond reason.

      We starved Iraq for eleven years, then invaded to destroy Saddam Hussein's regime. Try to find some regret among American voters and politicians about what we did to that country.

      We invaded Afghanistan and dispersed the Taliban because they hosted Al Qaeda. In a couple of years we'll leave that poor country, just about as destitute as we found it, and a ruling blend of the Taliban and ubiquitous corruption. Try to find sympathy in the US for spending any further resources to help develop a stable, modern democratic state.

      Then there is our subtle approach to "minimizing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran". Extreme economic sanctions,covert military and cyber attacks, and the ultimate threat of overt attack directed against Iran are the tools of our trade. Do these actions sound like tension minimizers?

      I'm sure the Yemenis understand that any trickle down from the US pursuing it's "fundamental strategic interests" will put very little food on the table, and encourage banana republic style leadership. The stability of Egypt under Mubarak, or royal family rule in Saudi Arabia and the Emerates, is our kind of stability, and the Yemenis know it.

      Besides, we're pivoting towards the Pacific. Time to get to work on Myanmar, and deploy some tension minimizers to Darwin.

  • Libya's Problems will be Solved by more Democracy, not Less (Hilsum)
    • I think for democracy to work there has to be an overarching value system that assures citizens fairness under the law, and a reasonable standard of living.

      The West would find such a value system antagonistic to its private sector objectives of unfettered access to Libyan markets and natural resources. The West wants to be at the table when Libyan wealth is sliced and diced. An economic model that supports wealth and power concentration is well suited to Western needs.

      I'd guess that the rebels' assessment of the current situation is influenced by understanding how fast corruption can syndicate itself throughout the country, and how quickly it can become an overarching value system that pays little attention to the needs of the people. The rebels didn't put their lives on the line to protect the institution of bribery.

      Maybe a look at the very early Gaddafi era could offer some ideas - free medical care and universal education can't be all that bad.

  • How Obama changed definition of ‘civilian’ in secret drone wars (Woods)
    • What's the strategy? Aside from the cold brutality of droning, what is it meant to achieve? Do we have a model of al Qaeda that indicates a finite leadership cadre which, once destroyed, leaves the organization harmless?

      If all the reports over the years are accurate we have killed a huge number of key al Qaeda leaders. If this is true, al Qaeda (and the Taliban) must be more top heavy than the Pentagon. Personally, I don't think decimating the Pentagon brass and brass-ike civilians would have much impact on our ability to wage war, but we're convinced that it would on the other side.

      Like in Vietnam, we refuse to to accept that there is some overarching substance to our enemies - not just a finite collection inherently evil and violent beings. Recent news articles report that the drone strikes have made Yemenies more favorable to al Qaeda than to the US. Doesn't seem like getting to the bottom of the "kill list" will be a US victory.

  • Minority Births the Majority? On how the whole idea of White People is Made Up
    • It would be wonderful if this essay could be presented in every classroom in the US. There's no substitute for clarity.

  • Legalize Pot, Save Public Education, and end Student Indebtedness
    • I agree 100%. I'd add the necessity to repatriate the drug underworld felons,kings, and pawns. When prohibition ended we had all these mobsters siting around with there machine guns and organizations with no way to make money, until they did some creative thinking. Voila, perpetual organized crime.

      Getting out of prison in this job market can hardly expect to be a leavening experience. Should we be handing them a set of burglar tools at the gate, or maybe an apprenticeship at a hedge fund. One way or another if crime stops paying, someones got to pick up the tab.

      Do I think this problem will be at all contemplated, not as long as we'll have all those empty prison beds - refill, refill.

  • Romneynejad: We didn't have gays in the 1960s
    • I'm not a Romney fan, but I hate to see him tarred for something he did as a teenager. Life would be miserable if we could not escape the stupid things we thought and did at that age.

      On the other hand it's easier for Romney's operatives to beat this issue down (and maybe find a few Obama playmates that smoked dope with the future president)than it is to paint a pretty face on the Leonardo Da Vinci of etch-a sketch. So they may keep it alive just as a means to ridicule the opposition.

      Besides, if you are looking for the bully in contemporary Romney, look no further than his "I like to fire people" statement.

  • Omar Khayyam (117)
  • Iran's Forbidden Nukes and the Taqiya Lie
    • Since lying and deception are near physiological traits of our political class, I can understand the skepticism about the integrity of the Iranian pronouncements. If they are telling the truth, what lies are they trying to hide?

  • China hopeful Iran will compromise with the UNSC
    • "This is not difficult – U.S. guarantee of no attack plus support for Russian air defense missiles might suffice."

      During the Cold War we passed out nuclear weapons to all the NATO nations. They were under US control until hot war broke out, at which time the NATO nations would go operative nuclear.

      So why can't we put a couple of nukes under US control in Iran, to be used to deter an Israeli strike? Answering my own question:That's totally insane, because even if Israel made an unprovoked attack on Iran, it can be excused because Israel has fairer elections than Iran. Of course from Israel's point of view, unprovoked/unproshmoked, we've been doing it for years so why stop now?

    • We've spent trillions of dollars punishing without getting much in return, but we keep at it. I guess we just like doing it. Sorry Iran.

  • Why Romney is Lying about the Causes of high Prices at the Pump
    • "China and India are far more efficient in their use of petroleum than the US."

      How true. China's per capita oil consumption is about one tenth that of the US, and India's is about one twentieth. I think framing oil consumption in terms of nation state vs nation state creates a political tension that can only lead to unproductive adversarial relationships.

      And, in our current culture, adversarial relationships seem to be the prime political currency.

  • Medvedev slams Romney for "Number one Enemy" Slur
    • Correction to earlier comment:
      One has to wonder if the skills needed to make money by buying and selling companies are transferable to any worthwhile human endeavor.

    • One has to wonder if the skills needed to make money by buying and selling companies are transferable to any other human endeavor.

  • US Public Wants out of Afghanistan as 3 Western Troops Killed by Afghan Troops
    • Isn't it just possible that some Afghans don't like to kill other Afghans just because the US military tells them to. And isn't it just possible that some members of the Afghan army might see the Taliban as a preferable alternative to Kabul. And if you piss off enough of these gun toting soldiers, a few will change sides before our troops have a chance to duck.

      "Kill for Kabul" might not be a viable battle cry. And "kill for the USA" might really be counterproductive.

  • Changing Iran's Nuclear Calculation with Green Energy: Buonomo
    • But the overarching bottom line is always that Iran has no hope of self determination with regard to its nuclear future. And the overarching rationale to compel this status is the notion that Iran is intrinsically evil (a charter member of the "Axis") - the evidence being that the US and Israel have repeated this so often and for so long that it must be true.

      Demonization is the prelude to hurt. If "crippling" sanction don't hurt enough, we have the willingness and an infinity of weapons to move to the next level. Any diplomatic activity that ameliorates Iran demonization is almost as bad as the Iran bomb itself.

  • Obama slams GOP for casual war talk re Iran, stresses Costs
    • Thomas, it's called "the Doctrine of Limited Sovereignty". While the USA has total absolute sovereignty, the sovereignty of other nations is not absolute, especially if our "national interest" is in harms way(an ad hock determination made by the President, in conjunction with the Greek Chorus, I mean Congress). Exceptionalism has its perks.

    • My guess is that military action against Iran will be to rubblelize it, like Desert Storm did to Iraq in 1991. Bomb it back to the stone age. Why risk traumatic brain injuries, when an endless supply of cruise missiles and smart/dumb bombs can satisfy our blood lust. Our responsibilities as civilians will be to shop, pay down mortgages, and curl up with Facebook on our Ipads.

      Obama is so proud of his "crippling sanctions". He wants to convince Americans that he is not inhibited when it comes to inflicting severe pain on a nation of 75 million people.

      And with all his wordiness Obama won't tell us specifically how Iran has to prove it won't do something in the future that it's not doing now. The final conclusion about Iraq's WMD program was that it terminated in 1991 - prior to eleven years of "crippling sanctions" and no fly zones, and an eight year military occupation.

      Our passion for hurting Iran is skillfully developed and manipulated by Israel along with its political forces in the US. What Israel wants is a neutered, helpless Iran, not just an absence of nuclear weapons. It can't attain that goal without our help - make is seem macho enough, and we're in.

  • Khamenei Takes Control, Forbids Nuclear Bomb
    • Iran was attacked by Iraq, like the US was attacked by Japan. So conquering Iraq was to some extent vengeance driven, kinda like Hiroshima/Nagasaki on our part.

      Of course Khomeini might also have had second thoughts when the US started to help the savage brute who started it all, Saddam Hussein.

      It is comforting to know that in our country a "flip-flopper" would never aspire to high office.

    • What an incredible opportunity for Obama to prove he does not need a spinal implant. Putting, Israel, AIPAC, and the left and right neocons on notice that the US will not support or condone an attack on Iran, and that such an attack will have consequences for the attacker, he will earn the respect and admiration of Arab (oil) world, and the American people(if he uses his speech skills to present the facts Prof Cole has laid out here).

      The people who hate him will still hate him regardless what he does. But to unloose the conflagration and blood vengeance that an Iran attack will bequeath to the world, will mark him as miserably failed leader.

      If you look in the wake of of our recent military adventures, you'll see basket cases bobbing up and down as far as the eye can see: Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and last but not least, Libya (granted, formative stages). There is more than ample evidence that the people in charge have nothing but a "did not finish" track record. But they all set to start the next race.

      And the crowning action for Obama will be to go to Iran and have an eye-to-eye with Khamenei.

  • Dear President Obama: On Iran, Listen to the Israelis, not the Likud
    • Too bad one of the questions wasn't: Do you think that attacking Iran is morally justified?

      For the US and Israel, every concern about violent action against an adversary is tactical - the resultant maiming, death and destruction are of little consequence. For both countries military violence, or the threat thereof, is the beginning and end of diplomacy.

      But wait, consider that through sanctions we might be able to destroy the Iranian economy that supports 75 million people. If we're fortunate, like in Iraq, the sanctions could cause the premature deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians (primarily young children) due to malnutrition and the breakdown of health care. We never looked back at those consequences in Iraq, so "What, me worry?" about a repeat in Iran.

      Hmm, there is an alternative to military violence after all. And the State Department might be just as ghoulish as the Pentagon, but it just takes longer to see the results.

  • Five Things Rick Santorum Could have Learned in College
    • "When it comes to feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, visiting prisoners, and doing to others as you would have them do to you, it is actually Ayn Rand style conservatism that is incompatible with Christianity."

      Seems like we have quite a few closet atheists in the Christian tent,and quite a few closet Christians in the atheist tent, if fundamental values, rather than dogma and tribalism, are the determining factors.

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu attacks Gen. Dempsey as Servant of Iran
    • No use looking for a "Profile in Courage" moment from Obama.

      He's troubled that his actions to destroy the Iranian economy, and cause misery to the 80 million Iranians, has not satisfied Israel. Not enough hurt?

      “I don’t think a wise thing at this moment is for Israel to launch a military attack on Iran…” So, if Dempsey is the servant of Obama, the message is that there is no moral objection to attacking Iran, just tactical considerations like timing. And implicit in that statement is: if the timing is right, we'll be there to help - because then it would be wise. To paraphrase - "War, me worry?"

      The all volunteer military is being corrupted into a palace guard, and the palace is in Jerusalem.

  • Ring of Iranian Bases Threatens US
    • Iranning is a lot easier way for the oil companies to make money than deep well drilling, Keystoning, and Arctic Wild Life Refuge lobbying. Just keep the "uncertainty of war" level scary enough to keep the do-gooders off the backs of the futures traders.

      The holy rectitude of the price of a barrel of crude, no matter when, (unless when too low) is the backbone of the energy wealth.

  • Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Rejects while Obsessing about Birth Control
    • About Paul, the exception I was thinking about related to his beliefs, rather than his ambitions (which are a mystery to me). I think he does believe in what he says, while I do not think the others do.

      Not a Paul supporter but I do agree with his foreign policy and defense posture. If he was given both the State and Defense portfolios in the next Obama administration, we'd be better off. If isolationism means putting the troops back in the barracks, I'm all for it.

    • This may be a bit of a scatter-gun oversimplification, but my observation is that the only thing these politicians believe in is the rectitude of their own ambition (other than Ron Paul). There can always be some sectarian frills added to their public persona, but only to the extent that it furthers their ambition. E.g. God told Bush Jr to do some Shock and Awe.

      One question I'd like to ask Santorum: If the Iranians stated that they are placing trays of thousands of zygotes in there nuclear facilities, would you still want to bomb them?

  • The Generals try to stop an Iran War
    • I think a lot of the depressing uncertainty in this situation is due to Obama's lack of, or disinterest in, leadership.

      War would be another national tragedy for the US, and a massive crime against humanity perpetrated on the eighty million inhabitants of Iran. But Obama has never struck me a someone who would save the day by making a clear declaration that the US has no intention of attacking Iran, and that an attack by Israel would not be supported by the US. But he is the only person that can make and enforce such a declaration, and short of such a declaration there is enough blood lust here and in Israel to drag us into war.

      It is in Obama's hands. If he wants "four more years", a singular act of true courage could win it for him. He doesn't deserve four more days if war with Iran breaks out.

  • Romney: "I'm not concerned about the very poor."
    • If I were poor I'd be very frightened about politics developing out of the 1% vs the 99% mantra. It carries the implication that families that are quite well off, and those who are comfortable with what they earn, need to be thrown a rope.

      For politicians like Romney and Obama, this give a nice opening to swoon over the plight of the heavy voting rich and comfortable instead of over the misery of the light voting poor. Romney can sit among the "Occupy....." and pretty much take up the challenges facing the 99% (at least a nice portion of them) while ignoring the poor entirely, because its not about the helping the poor.

      Its easy to dream up ideas to help the middle and upper class because they really don't have to work - the targets are fine as they are. The dreaded thing is being move over to the poor column - which, as pointed out by Prof Cole, is a relatively common occurrence. So instead of making promises they have no intention of keeping, the big shots should be making this country a more comfortable place to be poor (like creating universal health care).

  • Graphic of World Military Spending (Iran's too Small to Show up)
    • I may be out of line, but since we are at war with the Taliban, it would seem important to know their spending. That's if relative spending between opposing forces has a relationship to battlefield performance - it might not.

  • Israel: No Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program; Barak: Any decision to Strike Iran "Far off."
    • To the US and Israel Iran is a rabid dog, and our policies are based on that presumption. Should we just leave it in its cage, starve it to death, or maybe put it down?

      The well being of Iran's 75 million citizens is really not a factor should we attempt to starve the country with ever more overarching sanctions, or should we decide to bomb what would inevitably be a large collection of targets, given our shock and awe history.

      And heaven forbid that Iran should construe our (US and Israel) policies as baldfaced threats to its well-being, independence, and sovereignty. Such an attitude only reinforces our notion of Iran's danger to the world. I mean our President has been awarded the Nobel Peace prize, and Israel holds open elections.

      If taken out of the context of US and Israeli exceptionalism, I'm sure the military and national security wisemen would recommend that Iran get a "bomb" as quickly as possible if it wants to be left alone, aka the "North Korean Gambit".

  • Top 5 Foreign Policy Challenges for US, 2012
    • "The low-key war between the US and Iran could be ratcheted up by legislation just passed by Congress that targets the Central Bank, based in Tehran."

      A few details about the "low key war" would be fascinating since the Administration has give no indication to the public that it exists. What are we doing to Iran, and almost more importantly, what is Iran doing to us?

  • Iraqis Celebrate being Free of US Troops, Fear US Meddling
    • Bill, I didn't mean to imply that the US was the only nation doing this stuff, I am sure you are right that there are others. However, we are accountable for our actions an must take responsibility for them.

      I believe that our very secretive forces are very active in conducting violence against individuals and small groups. And I think the violence is so secretive because much of it could not be justified in the light of day by a "rule of law" nation.

      Of course I'm not privy to the secret operations, but there is enough in the news, especially about drone operations, to conclude that we are very busy and well equipped in that part of the world, and we're not shooting blanks.

    • "As for the US, it should be celebrating not being at war anywhere in the Arab world for the first time since 2003. Happy New Year."

      Maybe "war" is not the the proper term, but I'm sure that somewhere an Arab is getting his or her throat slit, or droned, by our top secret, invisible, unaccountable, lavishly funded, truly "special" palace guard (what else would you call them, since they act on the orders of the President alone, no approval by congress requested, encouraged, or respected?).

      In 2012 I doubt the Arabs will find us any kinder. And the Iranians certainly increased their target value by threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz. They should know better than to threaten retaliation against hostile acts by the US, especially when so may of us would like to annihilate their country on the slimmest rationale.

  • No War Crimes Trial for Bush/Cheney, While Chirac Convicted on minor Fraud
    • In the 1980's we, or should I say the not-so-lib Reagan administration helped Saddam with the war he started with Iran in 1980, which had a population of about 50 million at the time. This was naked aggression by Saddam and his band of killers.

      Then in 1990 Saddam made the mistake of attacking Kuwait, an absolute monarchy with a population of about 2 million at the time. The mistake was to assume that if the US supported Iraq with its Iran aggression, then the US would not be overly concerned about the invasion of Kuwait. He should have known that The US never met a filthy rich oil country monarch it didn't like. Desert Storm was inevitable, and had nothing to do with whatever vile actions Saddam had taken against his own people.

      Likewise the sanctions were not intended to restrain his beastly tendencies, except towards the Kurds. The sanctions were additive to whatever suffering the Iraqis had at the hand of their rule. Hundreds of thousands of child deaths are attributed to the sanctions.

      The bloody civil war that occurred in the years following the 2003 invasion was not orchestrated or lead by Saddam, he was out of power and in hiding.

      Sure, Saddam was a bloody vicious dictator, but the 21 years of punishment we doled out to the Iraqi people and their society was done at our choice, and with our might. I suppose that doesn't bother the conscience of a conservative.

    • There is a bright side to this. By "looking forward", as opposed to looking back at the war crimes of Bush and Cheney, we can all be more comfortable ignoring what we did to Iraq in the last 21 years.

      Desert Storm bombed Iraq's infrastructure back into the stone age. Not satisfied, we (wearing our proud UN hat)imposed crippling sanctions on the country for eleven years. And during the sanctions we regularly bombed Iraqi "security" targets, which were probably selected to enhance our success in the invasion we were "looking forward" to.

      But Desert Storm and the sanctions just did not punish Iraq enough. Of course, the Iraqi people, men women and children, had to stand in as punishment proxies for our real punishment target, the hated beast, Saddam Hussein.

      Since Saddam refused to expose himself to certain death by having a picnic lunch in the center of a soccer field, or leading a parade, the only way to inflict more punishment was to inflict it on the proxies again. So in 2003 we blew the dam. We let loose all the tensions, the tribal and religious hatreds, the personal vendettas, the greed and its bedfellow - corruption. We gave the proxies an eight year tour of hell.

      So in the end Bush and Cheney's freedom is also our freedom to forget the horrors we brought to a country that in no way threatened us. And the "don't look back" creed keeps us in the right state of mind for present and future use of casual military violence.

  • Britain Closes Tehran Embassy
    • I think it would help if we knew exactly (or even approximately) what secret violence we are committing in Iran. Its safe to say that any such operations would be labeled terrorism if they occurred in the US, and severe retaliatory action would vigorously applauded.

      Of course we may be Boy Scout innocent and virtuous. That would sanctify our criticisms and threats to Iran. On the other hand if Obama has let the special forces and the CIA have their way with Iran, we really have no standing to criticize that country for acting bad and spreading harm.

      For some reason I can't explain, my conspiracy theory infected mind suspects that the special forces and CIA are very busy doing physical harm to Iran. If so, the Terrorists 'R Us.

  • Empire by the Numbers
  • Serri: Iran's UN Inspectors are Repeating the Iraq Mistakes
    • I remember a Blix comment on the CIA's Iraq WMD intelligence. Something close to this: How can you be 100% sure WMD exist, and have zero knowledge of their location?

      The US did have 100% knowledge of everything the UN inspectors did and found, so if there was some objectionable nuance to the UN's output, the US could effortlessly filter it out. The only nuance the US objected to was the implication (backed by absolutely no correlation between CIA intelligence data and realities on the ground) that there are no WMD in Iraq.

  • Police Crackdowns on OWS Coordinated among Mayors, FBI, DHS
    • OWS has got to be a Right Wing/Obama conspiracy. Otherwise how can you explain why so much liberal/progressive energy is being expended defending the "right to occupy". All that energy is being channeled, by the conspirators, toward the most inconsequential exercise.

      My suggestion is that the squatters all move their asses to Massachusetts and try to convince Elizabeth Warren to challenge Obama in the Democratic primaries. Might raise 100 million for the campaign before the MA cops can don their riot gear.

  • GOPers Promise you War on Iran & Torture & Poverty
    • If Iran's leaders were listening to the debate, how could they help but conclude that most of the potential candidates for the GOP nomination, and thus the potential President, are anxious to do extreme harm to their country.

      They might also conclude that "not having a bomb" would not deter US military violence against them. Saddam Hussein had no WMD from 1991 on, but that did not deter the US from organizing and enforcing eleven years of harsh sanctions, followed up by a full invasion.

      On the other hand "having a bomb" has served North Korea quite well in keeping US Shock and Awe at bay. An argument might be made that Iran needs a few nuclear or atomic bombs (not nearly as many as Israel has), and a reliable delivery system, in order to maintain Middle East peace.

      Change subject. When it comes to foreign policy and national security, I think Ron Paul is the most sensible major politician in the US, Democrat or Republican. This country might be better off if the next President gave him two portfolios, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense. He is quite unique in that he has humanity, just what those two departments can use a dose of.

  • Why a No-Fly Zone won't Work in Syria
    • Questions for Prof Cole.
      Can Bashar al-Assad turn on a dime even if he wanted to? Does he have the power (not statutory) to order the security force back to their barracks or is he himself to some extent a prisoner of the security forces he unleashed?

  • If American Land were Distributed the way American Wealth Is
    • Wealth concentration is inevitable if we worship the free-market and capitalism as the basic ideology of our communal society. Both are proven to provide goods and services efficiently, but the underlying principle is very simple: make as much money as you can, any way you can.

      Buying politicians, judges, presidents, and whatever other appendages of officialdom that seem advantageous, is quite consistent with the underlying principle. And stock holders can get quite mad if the principle is not adhered to.

      Moving a profitable factory to China to increase profits is virtually a mandatory action for the pure of heart capitalist. As is cutting wages, cutting or denying benefits, outsourcing, deceptive advertising, ... the list goes on. Eliminating jobs is always the mark of good CEO (watch the next day stock price), but he or she better have damn good reason for adding jobs.

      Pleading with Wall Street to stop wealth concentration is like asking a shark to become a vegetarian - it's a shark, stupid. To keep the 90% from backing into the Rio Grand, it will take a bunch of social and business legislation, a bunch of tax changes and tax increases, and and a bunch of restrictions on the "any way you can" part of the underlying capitalist principle. Unfortunately, Obama will probably just invite the Shark down to the White House for a beer and fish dinner.

  • Karzai: Afghanistan would Side With Pakistan in War with US
    • Can anyone think of an American politician that would do a better job than Karzai? Any of the Republican candidates strike your fancy? Obama have the kind of backbone it would take? How about the Wall Streeters and the big bank executives? Maybe a four star general - oops, we already tried that a few times.

      Afghanistan is a snake pit we helped to dig and populate. I'm not sure God could do a better job than Karzai. If he's stashing money,then he's just betting against the US plans for his country, like Goldman Sachs bet against the mortgage boom it helped build.

  • Qaddafi's People's Temple
    • Interesting how a UN initiative to protect innocent civilians culminated in the triumphal killing of Qaddafi. An event that that never would have occurred without NATO's modest contribution of 26,000 air sorties. Soon after the UN initiative, it became very obvious that NATO (US included) established regime change as the objective.

      Once "protecting civilians" changed to "regime change", Qaddafi's demise became inevitable - if not on October 20, then at some later date and a few thousand more NATO sorties. Now starts the war for economic and social egalitarianism, a battle for which NATO and its key Pentagon member have not so much as a cap gun to bring to the fray.

      Qaddafi won't be missed, but its better than even money that ten years from now, today's new Libyan leadership won't be missed either.

  • This is the Way the Iraq War Ends, with Bangs and Whimpers
    • Off topic but within genre. McClatchy headline (typical of all MSM headlines on story):"Obama sends troops to Africa to track Lord's Resistance Army leader"

      Read more: link to mcclatchydc.com

      I should be surprised at the total "ho-hum" response to this event. But of course the "don't look back" creed puts the matter in perspective. This adventure into Africa comes as a clean sheet. Why on earth would one suspect that the insertion of 100 US troops into a decades-long violent quagmire, could be anything but sufficient and successful. Maybe all hundred are in drone crews, which, if one doesn't look back, is a virtual guarantee of success.

      But my pessimism is so politically incorrect, being tainted as it is by looking back (even if only to today's superb Cole blog).

  • Palin was Right About those Government Death Panels
    • Maybe it's just a natural outcome of our love for the 2nd amendment. What's the point of having all these weapons, but not "blowing someone away".

      We're like the predator that tasted human blood and decided it was good. If Obama went in front of a joint session of Congress and announced that the CIA has just killed al-`Awlaqi, the standing ovation might last into the wee hours of the morning.

      Obviously Obama is a lost cause when it comes to controlling the breadth and scale of military violence (and just about everything else). And "Four More Years" is the accepted course for whatever...

      So that leaves the ACLU and the courts. The courts seem as politicized as the Congress and Administration, and are subliminally expected to be so. That leaves the ACLU (and Glenn Greenwald). For some reason I can not figure out, the Right hates the ACLU, while professing to love individual freedom. Droning that isolated organization is certainly not necessary when the national security apparatus has many ways of choking its life out, legal shmegal.

      One aspect of all this is the affect on the all volunteer military. After years of warfare against such ephemeral enemies, does "when in doubt, take it out" become the common doctrine that is being inbred from private to general, and reinforced by the high paid "civilian" warriors?

  • Lindsey "Dr. Strangelove" Graham & War with Pakistan
    • "Abruptly turning on such a complex ally and starting yet another war is madness."

      Yes it is, but the Graham genre it trying to protect our doctrine of limited sovereignty - we can do whatever we want, to whomever we want, whenever we want. The doctrine must be reinforced occasionally with military violence, which to Graham is merely a mechanical process, devoid of any emotion.

      Unfortunately Graham's views, mad as they are, are quite acceptable to a large segment of our population, and Congress. And that means that President Obama will never take forceful stand against the madness.

  • Helman: The Palestinians Seek UN Recognition
    • To me, the very term "Peace Process" throws a fog over the situation in Palestine. It implies a symmetry between the two antagonists, and a state of war. If it were simply called what it is, an unlawful occupation and control by Israel of the hostile indigenous population of Gaza and the West Bank, then maybe all that gravitas peace process blarney could be replaced by deliberations of how to force an end to the occupation.

      The resistance of an occupied and brutalized population is not an act of war, nor is the expansion of Israel into the occupied territories an act of war, it's what the powerful do all the time to the weak. Seems to me that granting statehood to the Palestinians should be welcomed as adding another layer of legitimacy to UN resolutions declaring the illegality of the occupation.

      As for any position the US takes, it's not born out of rational deliberations, it's based on a simple principle: "My Israel right or wrong, never the less my Israel."

  • Ten Years after 9/11, Do the Arabs value Democracy more than We do?
    • Do you suppose today's celebration could be the mother of all fig leafs, intended to hide from ourselves the massive death and destruction we unleashed on Iraq and Afghanistan in retribution? (not to mention Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan)

      Tom Engelhardt present a very bold view of the anniversary proceedings that I think complements this blog.

      In the end I think the difference between bin Laden and us is that he was comfortable with ruthless violence but had a tiny secretive force, and we are comfortable with ruthless violence but have a huge, multifaceted, superbly financed and supported force that inflicts death and destruction with ease and little risk.

  • China offered Qaddafi Armaments in midst of war
    • By that criteria Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Emirates should also be worried. More so since they would be pushovers, and have all that oil.

    • Almost as funny as the US bombing Grenada because it was having its runway lengthened by Cuban construction workers. Not quite so funny was the destruction of an occupied nursing home (collateral damage).

      There must be some humor in the bombing and invasion of Panama - something about dealing a death blow to the drug trade.

  • Qaddafi was a CIA Asset
    • So we, as represented by our elected government, liked Qaddafi enough to trust him to torture our renditionees, and helped him go after some of his own troublemakers. The fact that he was a very mean dictator could hardly trump his "torture on demand" relationship with our palace goons. Whatever he did to his subjects was really an internal affair.

      That relationship did a 180 in March 2011 when the armed rebellion started. The fact that we kinda liked this nasty despot before we hated him was smothered with the mass media and governmental refrain that he was a non-stop ruthless dictator for 42 years.

      The rebellion has succeeded, and hopefully will provide better governance than Qaddafi provided. But, in my view, the greatest concern for Americans, is that we come to realize that, as a nation, we have supported despots and ignored their ruthless treatment of the subjects as long as we (the CIA is part of we) got some useful payback, no matter how narrow in scope. If that's what we prefer, then the global war on any mosquito in our radar will never end.

  • Rick Perry and the Hucksterism of the Rich
    • Perfect! The earlier the real Perry is introduced to the public, the better.

      If you analyze the job of the President you see an incredible web of diverse demands, all requiring intellectual comprehension, ability to analyze courses of action, leadership to implement required actions, and the communications skills to sustain public awareness and support.

      Yet when you look at the nominating and electoral process, none of these attributes are under examination. It's just personalities, personalities, personalities, and personal trivia. It's like a baseball team hiring a player without ever looking at his past batting and fielding stats.

      If one of these personalities is going to be the leader the free world, and the worlds most powerful head of state, then maybe we ought to let the rest of the world participate in the voting. Might get a better outcome.

  • Paul, Santorum and the Sixth War (on Iran)
    • Just considering the Ron Paul's quotes presented here, I'd say he makes a lot more sense to me than any other national politician. That Ron Paul can state positions on Iran that are so contrary to those of his party, most "moderate" Democrats, and our right of center President, yet retain such strong loyalty from his base, and a tangible level of national respect, should tell us something.

      When liberals say the same thing as Paul, they are completely ignored, except by other liberals. Maybe a liberal/libertarian coalition going against the national security state, and it's diet of war without end, could make some headway. And maybe when these parties are in the back room they'll find a significant confluence of their humanity.

  • Top Self-Defeating Moves in the Middle East
    • "Seldom does one man have the chance to save so many lives and prevent so much suffering as Qaddafi could, if he would just recognize the inevitable and go into some sort of exile. But Qaddafi is one of the world’s great egoists, and he’ll fight to the last child in Tripoli."

      The potential for the eastern massacres, that so riveted us several months ago and begot "shock and awe junior", has diminished significantly. In its place is a robust civil war.

      Must the suffering be inevitable as long as Qaddafi remains in power? If framed as a fight to the finish then one could hardly say Qaddafi alone is responsible for all the carnage. Seems to me that if suffering is really a concern (it not always is, eg Iraq), then a little truce making diplomacy might make a difference.

      And I don't recall reading anywhere that Benghazi brigades will be showered with flower petals when they reach Tripoli. They might be, just haven't seen words to that affect.

  • Can Bookstores be Saved?
    • Some time in the future, could the term "book" become just an abstract notion of a large retrievable text/graphics file sitting on server somewhere on the Internet, and the author an equally abstract originator of these files?

      Blogs and on-line news media conjure up a notion of predictable content by their viewers, but a book is sort of a mystery that one must actually read to know what's in it. I don't know if "downloading a large text/graphics file" will ever have the allure of "grabbing a book", but (not too) future generations will find out.

  • 32 Nations Recognize Free Libya
    • How about Christian Bush, Christian God, and Iraq, and Afghanistan?

      Let's put it this way, George Bush, the Christian President, "has claimed he was on a mission from (the Christian)God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq". When we speak of radical Muslim tendencies, the only measuring point is violent threats to our security and interests. We hardly care a whiff about their "tendencies" if there is no such threat. I don't recall recall any of the serious establishment people calling the king of Saudi Arabia a radical Muslim, even though his country practices a radical version of Islam, compared to other Muslim countries.

      So let's leave out your A, B, C, and D and use the same measure of radicalism that we apply to Muslims - violent threats to security and interests. By that measure Christian Bush invading Iraq and Afghanistan on a mission ordered by the Christian God far exceeds the radicalism, in terms of total endurance, violence and destruction, of any Muslim group. And I don't recall a huge public outcry about Bush's statement - no call for impeachment, no clamor about separation of church and state.(And, by the way, A, B, C, and D didn't really give a damn either.)

      God wasn't his co-pilot, God was his commanding officer. Now that's Christian radicalism pure and simple. I suppose A, B, C, and D could fit under the Christian radicalism umbrella by virtue of their acquiescence and support to the "mission".

    • "Qaddafi brigades have expressed remorse for how they were deceived by the regime (they are told that the Free Libya forces are al-Qaeda foreigners)."

      Good grief! Sounds like Qaddafi is trying to mimic Bush and the Neocons.

      Does recognition of the TNC mean that now Qaddafi's forces are considered insurgents?

      I'm probably just being too pessimistic, but something just doesn't fit. Could be that rosy outcomes in situations like this are confined to works of fiction.

  • On Panetta and Defeating al-Qaeda
    • 9/11 was planned by its leader, Mohamed Atta, and others in Germany and the United States at a very leisurely pace. I think the total funding of the operation was estimated at about 500k. The whole thing could have been financed by credit cards,paying the minimum monthly amount. Atta sure as hell did not need control of Afghanistan to pull the job off.

      There was nothing about 9/11 that took extensive skills or expensive equipment - just some cleverness, a willingness to die, and enough on board muscle. I've read that the al Qaeda leaders themselves were surprised (pleasantly) by the fall of the towers. They anticipated far less damage.

      In my view finishing off al Qaeda down to the very last man and woman doesn't mean that the capacity for terrorist enterprise on any scale has been diminished. The results of 9/11 were horrific, but the details of the operation, and nature of those who carried it out, were mundane and replicable (of course not in the same, now heavily protected, venue). Just look at the frequent, bloody terrorist bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan - but that's there, not here.

    • Obviously al-Qaeda is the drug of choice for the military-industrial complex. A few snorts and it's
      load, lock, and fire at any "precise" target in an ever growing list of Muslim countries. Without the 10 or 20 "capable" leaders on the loose, the complex wiould have to go cold turkey.

      But not to worry. when it gets down to "3 or 4", or "1 or 2", the Pertaeus/Panetta team will somehow convince us that we must carry on. Unfortunately by this time the "extremely pissed off" (don't know the words in Arabic) will have grown to mind boggling proportions, and the P/P team can reset the monster count to a few thousand again.

      I don't know if I'm a "Western Libertarian or Trotskyite", but I think Gates' hesitation about getting involved in Libya was because is doesn't fit into the "go there and stay there" strategy. Given the fact that we were really starting to love Gaddafi until we started to hate him a few months ago, the Libyan people might not trust our motives.

      Slightly off topic, NYT article talks about the fear Afghans have for the super secret special forces night raids, supposedly pinpointed at the Taliban. It's interesting that after one of these raids,everyone in the target village knows exactly what happened, what building(s) was attacked, and who was killed and wounded. but that information is TOP SECRET to anyone outside the village, including the American public.

  • 10 Ways Arab Democracies Can Avoid American Mistakes
    • Wow! That pretty much covers it. And nothing that would be considered too radical in the US 40 years ago. But today it's enough get the FBI over to your local library to see just what you've been up to.

      I think there is one other consideration that can help or harm the others - creation and distribution of wealth.To flourish, a new democracy must have a means to provide economic comfort to the population. Probably the hardest part is finding a way to create wealth with all fierce global competition, and the money men are always there to channel as wealth as possible into their own pockets.

  • Rebels offer Qaddafi Libyan Retirement
    • I'm probably not much of a researcher, but when it come to Gaddafi and terrorism all I ever come across in the Google World are three significant events:

      1. Gaddafi's goons set off a bomb in a Berlin night club, killing three, including one Americans, and injuring several hundred.

      2. US retaliatory bombing raid on Gaddafi's residence, killing his adopted daughter, and 15 civilians.

      3. Lockerbie

      There must be more, but its certainly not very prominent.

      href="http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1194766,00.html#ixzz1EiMSh3nu">This 2006 Time article about the binding of Bush'e friendly relationship with Gaddafi, clearly indicates that his murderous, brutal treatment of his subjects is no cause of serious concern to the US. Here's an interesting excerpt from the article:

      In citing Gaddafi as a model, Rice has signaled the Administration's priority for security over the cause of freedom that both Gaddafi and Bush love to talk about. Even though Gaddafi has done little to loosen his dictatorship, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, among other statesmen, have already visited Libya to signal the West's pleasure.

      It seems that nothing changed in these relationships until the Arab Spring. So going into the violent suppression of the uprising, Gaddafi probably figured he still had "security over the cause of freedom" in the bank, and maybe, being rather detached, he thought the US had his back.

      There is no plausible defense for what Gaddafi is doing to suppress the uprising, but the swiftness with which we convert angels to devils, and vice versa, to suit solely our own purposes might be worth a look. (e.g. Nice Iraq invading Iran, Attila the Hun invading Kuwait)

  • Qaddafi, son, indicted by International Criminal Court
    • href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/06/29/116743/libya-mission-becomes-a-burden.html">This McClatchy article brings in some reasonable expertise on the side of the Libyan doubters. (Some serious students of military affairs, I think) Excerpt:

      Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a series of exit interviews ahead of his retirement, has begun to describe the U.S. involvement as payback to NATO nations — which depend on Libya's oil reserves — for joining American troops in fighting in Afghanistan, which was mainly a war about U.S. strategic interests.

      "These allies, particularly the British and the French, and the Italians for that matter, have really been a big help to us in Afghanistan. They consider Libya a vital interest for them. Our alliance with them is a vital interest for us. So as they have helped us in Afghanistan, it seems to me that we are in a position of helping them with respect to Libya," said Gates, who opposed U.S. involvement in Libya from the beginning, last week on the PBS NewsHour.

    • Joe, being a liberal I do read a lot of liberal commentary and the first time I heard the words "that NATO strikes are indiscriminately slaughtering civilians in Libya" is from you.

      I will give you this, the US military can destroy any physical target it chooses to, in those pipsqueak countries it ventures. And it can generally do this without breaking a sweat, or even setting foot on the ground.

      When pondering leaving Iraq, I think liberals might ask just what a trillion dollars, 4,000 dead Americans, and maybe a few hundred thousand dead Iraqis, accomplished. We did give the Shiites considerable help in their civil war against the Sunnis. And since they won that war decisively, I suppose someone deep into military affairs, could call that a plus for the US. On the other hand, we are leaving behind an impoverished, violent, vengeance riddled nation, with pervasive corruption and crime. We blew the dam and it not a pretty flood.

      I'll admit that I'm not well versed on the military details in Afghanistan. I suppose my negative conclusions about the US effort are based on the facts that the war is expected to last at least 13 years, there is no articulated vision of what that country will be like when we leave, our enemy has no air power, few motorized vehicles if any, no artillery, no Medevac, no drones, no high tech multi-billion dollar intel and communications systems, and not even that many troops, maybe third as much as we do. It just doesn't seem like there is much to brag about, but then I'm not deep into military affairs.

      Anyway, I read Informed Comment and TomDispatch regularly and I don't recall them being wrong very often - as opposed to any remarks by a general.

  • Kukis: Leave Iraq, Too
    • I think leaving a "small" force of 15,000 is deceiving. Wherever there are US troops there is massive air power and logistic support readily available. We can easily get back into droning and smart bombing should we perceive some sort of threat to our troops - its what we do.

      The notion of the US military as an arbiter does not ring true. You can't bomb corruption, sectarian feuds, dirty politics, street violence, poor services, etc.

  • DemocracyNow! On Bush/CIA Spy Mission against Juan Cole
    • This may be none of my business, so please ignore if so. Is the Yale professorship issue connected?

  • Pakistan Arrests CIA Informants in Bin Laden Case
    • If Pakistan can't accept our military-industrial-intelligence-exceptionalist doctrine of absolute sovereignty for the USA and limited (per USA determination) sovereignty for all other nations, then they should just throw us and our droning out - please.

      Of course Yemen never stood a chance. We're taking advantage of their civil strife to have our way with drone attacks for any hot tip that happens to end up in the CIA's in-basket.

      Somalia....

      Imagine our reaction if Mexico sent special forces teams into the US to find and eliminate gun dealers and runners supplying Mexican drug cartels with weapons. They could make a good case that our fealty to the 2nd Amendment prevents us from taking vigorous action to halt the transactions.

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