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Total number of comments: 18 (since 2014-04-25 01:30:40)


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  • Charlie Hebdo & French 'Secularism': Does it really just privilege White Christians?
    • I am not sure if Professor Cole wants us to get into this discussion on his message board, but I'll take the bait and let him decide. I will keep it short and say two things. First, I am not sure that the materialist and the theist are making the same assumptions, i.e. the only assumption the materialist is potentially making is that the universe is rationally intelligible. Second, the materialist is not invoking special pleading or shifting the burden of proof, i.e. God can accomplish the impossible, you cannot disprove God, etc.

    • "This worldview holds that nothing exists beyond what science can catalogue, prove, or deduce. It has never been proved to be true, yet it is never held up to examination by academics ."

      Logical Positivism was an influential theory from about the 1920s to 1960s. It was critiques from academics that led to its demise. Some of its principles live on. (Those principles existed before the theory was formulated and are not exclusive to Logical Positivism.) Broadly, as it relates to religion and the proposition of an entity or reality/existence outside of space and time, i.e. known reality/existence, it begs the question, how do you determine the entities/realities/existences that exist outside of known reality/existence? Religion has never provided an answer to this question. And until it does the secular worldview remains the worldview that has the highest probability of providing an accurate description of reality/existence.

  • Iraq Intervention? More like Ceaseless Escalation
    • A couple of points to add:

      - Based on comments from Cameron and Sarkozy, the FSA and Syrian rebels (the Syrian working class primarily) believed NATO would assist them in a fashion similar to that of Libya so they escalated there resistance. But because the euphoria over Libya was short lived and it became a complete disaster that assistance never came.

      - In addition to intel and training, the United States was directly involved in providing the rebels arms bought in Eastern Europe, flown into Jordan, and then transported into Syria.

      - The Islamic Front existed in name only – the frontline soldiers had no allegiance to each other. Furthermore, similar to the junior ranks of the Pakistani military not wanting to fight the Taliban under Musharraf, younger fighters within the rebel groups did not want to initially fight ISIS or al-Nusra but rather Assad’s forces.

      - The FSA is incredibly incompetent: they consistently lost battles to Assad’s forces and to Hezbollah. And even when they defeated Hezbollah the resources expended made the gains worthless. Additionally, one of the primary reasons ISIS was able to gain a foothold in Syria was that they promised to provide law order when the FSA would not.

      - It was only around the New Year when John Kerry and the State Department realized what a disaster the Syrian war had become. Saudi assurances (your good friend Prince Bandar principally) concerning al-Nusra and ISIS had not been realized and ISIS controlled a swath of land about the size of the UK. Since then the situation has become significantly worse.

      - The US precondition that any agreement with Assad had to involve him giving up power meant that the Geneva talks were always doomed to fail.

    • I hope that the Americans are successful in rescuing the Yazidis. The world will thank those members of the US military and intel who take part. But please do not expect us to forget that the United States is an Imperial power and that the current suffering in Iraq/Syria/Kurdistan/ISIS “Caliphate” is a direct result of the American invasion and occupation of Iraq and the American support of the proxy war fought in Syria and American drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, et al.

      I will repeat what I have said before: leave us - that is the overwhelming majority of the world – alone. We do not want your navy in our docks. We do not want your air force using our air fields and air space. We do not want your soldiers stationed in barracks in our towns and cities. We do not want your intel officers roaming our streets. We do not want your bombs falling on our families and friends. We do not want your modernity to be based on the exploitation of our natural resources and labour.

      We would like a relationship based on mutual respect and cooperation.

  • Mother Of Murdered Israeli Teen Condemns anti-Palestinian Violence
    • I agree. There is no justification for murdering children. It is not the children's fault that their parents support ethnic cleansing. And while I abhor all those who take part in military occupations, no parent should have to bury their child.

      (I will concede though that I think Christopher was speaking more to power dynamics and the chickens coming home to roost.)

  • It’s come to this: Fox News brings on NFL’s Terry Bradshaw for Benghazi analysis
    • Four Americans die in an Embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya; President Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton must be held accountable. Three-thousand Americans die in terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC; President Bush must be reelected.

      President Obama and Hillary Clinton lied to Americans about the Benghazi Embassy attack for political reasons; President Obama and former Secretary of State Clinton must be held accountable. President Bush lied to Americans about Iraqi WMD and links to al-Qaeda to start a war; President Bush must be reelected.

      These people are amazing. To paraphrase Heathcliff Huxtable: they are afraid that if they actually think, their brains may blow up and ooze out of their ears.

  • Cons of Going to War against Iraq (Cole, Jan. 2003)
    • A great power decides to overthrow the government of Quebec in 2014 because it has a brutal dictator and WMD and supports the world’s most famous terrorist group – even though the great power formerly supported the brutal dictator and the province does not have WMD and does not support the world’s most famous terrorist group. Experts on the region – those with tenure and those on the tenure track are not consulted. The province is defined along sectarian lines – Francophone, Anglophone and First Nations. Francophones are given power. First Nations get autonomy. Anglophones are excluded. Montreal and Quebec City are razed to the ground. The entire infrastructure of the country is destroyed. There is no planning – the occupying force is breathtakingly incompetent. There is no water or power or health care or security. Law enforcement and Canadian forces are disbanded. Members of the Federalist parties are told they have no place in society, as are public sector workers. Criminal organizations – the various ethnic mafias and Hell’s Angels – take over neighborhoods. Foreign states support militias. Psychotic Anglophones from across Canada flood the province to defend their brethren. Local militias take on the occupying force. The leader of the occupying force declares victory. Prisoners are tortured and abused. Soldiers raid homes. Civil disobedience is met with force. Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec is attacked. A civil war breaks out. The civil war is ending; the Anglophones accept defeat. The leader of the largest militia declares a cease fire. The leader of the occupying force decides that the civil war, which is ending mind you, cannot continue and tasks the Chosen One with resolving the situation. A surge is ordered; troops are increased. The occupying force buys off some militias and hires others to form assassination squads. The Chosen One is declared a genius for ending the civil war. No reconciliation has occurred; Quebec is bitterly divided. 250 000 people have been killed. Anglophones have been ethnically cleansed. The media focuses on the loss of prestige and blood and treasure and blames Quebecers. After 8-years the occupying force leaves.

      Does anyone believe that by the mid-2020s Quebec would be a functioning democracy?

  • 7 Myths about the Radical Sunni Advance in Iraq
    • Al-Qaeda has disassociated itself from ISIS. ISIS has been fighting Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, in Syria. This goes back to Al-Qaeda commands concerns about Zarqawi and AQIs behavior in Iraq. Much of ISIS are former AQI. The leader of ISIS, Abu Dua, lead AQI in 2010. They share a similar ideology but compete with each other for influence. Al-Qaeda views ISIS tactics as extreme. The LRB had a good review some months back concerning Al-Qaeda and the calibration of violence, i.e. not too much violence so as to turn off the local population but enough to make the government and potential supporters take them seriously.

  • The seven people who need to STFU about Iraq right now
  • When will they ever Learn? America on Brink of another Military Engagement
    • So only the United States is allowed to advance its interest? Other countries cannot? Countries should align themselves with America and not China or Russia?

      China and Russia are expanding their military technology due to US free trade with them? Really? Did Israel not try to provide high-end technology to China precisely because the US wouldn't provide it? And was Israel not chastised for this? China and Russia combined spend about 30-40% of what the US spends on their military. (It depends where you are getting the numbers from.) China cannot even make their own jet engine - they are reverse engineering old Soviets fighters.

      What borders is China enhancing? It does have disputes with its neighbours, but it makes sense for China to allow these disputes to linger and solve them in the future as their power and influence will only increase. For its neighbours, Japan in particular, it makes sense to solve them now. Which is why Japan has been instigating the disputes. China's mistake has been responding aggressively - which is principally for domestic consumption anyways. As far as I can recall, China has not invaded and occupied countries.

      With respect to Russia, what did you think would happen if NATO and the EU kept expanding eastwards? (Especially after it was agreed between Gorbachev and Baker & Bush that there would be no eastward expansion.) Would the United States accept a scenario in which Mexico and Cuba joined an economic and military alliance with Russia? Is anything that Russia has done in Crimea or South Ossetia (where Bush and Cheney were complicit) compare to what the United States has done in Afghanistan and Iraq? Shall we compare the number of dead? Injured? Refugees? Is Russia sending drones and destroying villages? Putin may be an autocrat and thug, but his bloodiest moments came in Chechnya, and the US completely backed him then.

      Putin could do nothing as the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq or as missiles were placed in Poland. The USS George Washington took part in military drills with South Korea; US fighters were within bombing distance of every major Chinese city; China could do nothing. Neither Russia nor China could stop the overthrow of Gaddafi.

      China will have a huge worker problem by the mid-2020s due to the one-child policy. Additionally, the Communist Party has failed in increasing domestic consumer spending, as the savings rate hovers around 50%. 21st-century economies will centre around nano and bio technology and quantum computing - China lags sorely behind the US in these areas. Russia is a de facto rentier state whose economic outlook is very grim.

      Where is this parity you claim coming from? The United States remains the only country with global power projection capabilities. And this will not change in the foreseeable future.

      It is the United States who has tried to dominate the rest of the world. To claim, as you are, that the world will need protection by the United States from Russo-Chinese aggression is absurd. We would actually be quite relieved if the United States left us alone.

      (I'm not in the mood to get into the straw man you presented in the first half of your posting, needless to say, you missed the point concerning American aggression and expansion. And no, not every state behaves in this manner. Regardless, you cannot abdicate responsibility for your behaviour by childishly pointing at others.)

  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • In the run-up to the destruction of Iraq, the US/UK governments told the world that, in addition to WMDs, there was a link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, in some instances intimating that Saddam Hussein was involved on the September 11th attacks. The US/UK destroy the infrastructure of the country in a bombing campaign. There is no post-war planning. No electricity. No water. The army is disbanded. Complete chaos. (Apparently this is not the fault of the war leaders; rather “freedom’s untidy”.) The US military and private contractors commit abuses. Prisoners are tortured and sexually humiliated. Crowds of protestors come under fire. Sunnis are left out of the political process. The US/UK Iraqi leaders of choice are corrupt and incompetent. Unions are banned. Foreign fighters flood the country. Iraqis take up arms. Abu Dua, an Iraqi preacher, sets up a militia to resist the invaders. (Dua is later captured and spends 4-5 years as a US prisoner.) Sadr calls for an immediate withdrawal of US/UK forces and condemns the CPA. The Mahdi Army and Sunni rebels engage US/UK forces in Basra, Najaf, Ramadi, Fallujah, and other cities. Zarqawi and AQI engage in a terror campaign that causes pause even amongst Al-Qaeda command. Zarqawi is killed. The Golden Dome is bombed. A vicious civil war breaks out. The Shi’ites win. Iraqi cities are divided into fortified neighborhoods run by criminal syndicates. Sadr cannot even control his own fighters; they are told to stand down. Later they go on to engage in a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience. The Sunnis realize their mistake and are brought into the political fold; some militias are paid off; others join with the US to form assassination squads. No political reconciliation occurs. AQI is in decline; Abu Dua takes over. The date for withdrawal of US forces approaches; Obama attempts to gain immunity for US soldiers so that troops can remain. He is rebuffed. The Iraqi government cannot provide power or water or security. Iraqi security forces engage in torture and kidnappings. There is a paucity of health care professionals. The country is a mess. (9000+ die from terrorism in 2013. 2014 averages over 1000+ a month. But fear not Bush, Blair, Hitchens, Cohen et al will be vindicated by history.) AQI has evaporated. ISIS forms; led by Abu Dua. Al-Nusra forms. Both enter the Syria. Libyan fighters in Iraq return home and join the rebels opposing Qaddafi. (West Point study confirms that per capita the most foreign fighters in Iraq came from Libya.) NATO is authorized by the UN to implement a no-fly zone in Libya and ensure that no massacre of Libyan civilians takes place. NATO bombs Libya for 7 months. Qaddafi is killed. Libya is controlled by some 1500 militias. 240000 militiamen roam the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi; they are on the government payroll but are loyal to their commanders. NATO refuses to investigate civilian deaths as a result of their 7-month bombing campaign. US embassy in Benghazi is attacked. NATO disassociates itself completely from Libya. Libya stands on the brink of civil war. The Syrian Civil War escalates; Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia back Assad; Turkey, the Gulf dictatorships, and the US support the rebels – FSA, blue collar Syrians, and moderate Islamists. Al-Qaeda confirms Al-Nusra as its official affiliate and breaks ties with ISIS. The US assists the Gulf dictatorships in supplying arms to the moderate Islamists. Assad concentrates on the FSA and blue collar groups. The Islamists fight amongst each other. Sarin gas is used against Syrian civilians. The majority of intelligence agencies, experts, NGOs point to Assad’s forces. Obama concludes red line has been crossed. US intelligence leaks put into question Obama’s claim that Assad is to blame. Further leaks confirm that the Pentagon does not want to enter the Syrian conflict. David Cameron loses a motion in the British House of Commons authorizing the use of force against Assad’s regime. Russia convinces Assad to give op chemical stockpile. ISIS makes gains in Syria. The US expresses concerns that the Saudis, Bandar Bush in particular, have lost control of the situation in Syria. (This assumes they ever had control to begin with.) The FSA is a spent force. The moderate Islamist coalition – the Islamic Front – exists in name only. Arms meant for the Islamic Front end up in the hands of Al-Nusra and ISIS. ISIS controls a swath of land in Iraq and Syria the size of England. ISIS makes incredible gains in Iraq. The US considers re-entering the Iraqi arena.

      At what point will Americans reign in control of their leaders and military? All this misery and death has been justified in your names (Joe Klein, a liberal mind you, claimed it’s either American babies or their babies) and using your money? Those of us who are secular, progressive Muslims (disclaimer: I am an atheist) are finding it incredibly difficult to stem the tide of anti-Americanism. We need your help. Even the Iraqi Communist Party supported the invasion partly because of what they saw as the impotence of the left to influence events in the West. (They opposed the principle. And they opposed Bush. But they accepted the reality of the invasion. And even then there was a split in the party. Hitchen’s always misrepresented their position.)

      Even if one removes the moral component for a moment and examines this purely from the perspective of empire (or imperialism of hegemony or whatever): what are the power elite in the United States doing?

  • Iraq: Looming War of Shiite, Kurdish, Extremist-Sunni Militias
    • If I am not mistaken Kirkuk was/is a point of contention between Erbil and Baghdad? Will they return control of the city to Baghdad or attempt to absorb it into Kurdistan? How would al-Maliki and the Iraqi Parliament respond?

      On another note, I have been perusing the comments sections of various news sites and the Iraq War supporters and anti-Muslim bigots are out in full force. Apparently the current crisis is the result of psychopaths and a fundamental flaw in the Muslim character; a wonderful gift was bequeathed to the Iraqi people but they preferred to slaughter each other because democracy and freedom and liberty are anathema to Muslims. Within this narrative the US/UK invasion and occupation, shock and awe, Abu Ghraib, the Battles of Fallujah, assassination squads, stoking sectarianism, disbanding the army, government corruption and incompetence, etc. have no relation to current events.

  • The Fall of Mosul and the False Promises of Modern History
    • What is frightening about the 2nd map is that the potential Sunni state would be an arena in which Salafi Jihadi groups, the Gulf dictatorships, Iran, Turkey, and their respective global allies would vie for influence, i.e. infuse with cash and arms. It is unlikely that Turkey would allow a Kurdish state on their border or that Lebanon and Jordan would not see a massive influx of refugees. (Considering Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, Lebanon would most likely also see increased fighting.) We should all be thankful that the men and women who advocated and oversaw the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq no longer retain power and influence and that President Obama has implemented a much more nuanced and humane policy…

    • I recall a discussion that took place at the Frontline Club earlier this year in which the panelists stated that we do not have a very good understanding concerning the composition of ISIL, Al-Nusra, the Islamic Front, and other parties engaged in Iraq and Syria. In particular, the feeling was that we are underestimating the number of local/regional members.

  • Top 3 White Terrorist Attacks in America this Week
    • The disease has infected us in Canada. Last week a 24-year old, Justin Bourque, shot five RCMP officers in the Eastern Atlantic city of Moncton. Three were killed and the other two seriously injured. This of course was the work of a lone, deranged individual whose race, religion, and ethnicity are irrelevant.

      When Justin commits a crime, it’s Justin’s fault; when Abdullah commits a crime, 1.5 billion Muslims bear responsibility…

  • Dear GOP: The US has negotiated with Terrorists and Amnestied Them all through History
  • When Bibi Meets Modi: Israel and the Indian Elections
    • "But it was because of a conflict in Gujarat, rather than an economic boom, that Modi gained his popularity among Hindu nationalists (Hindus are 80% of the population) and his notoriety among Muslims and secular liberals."

      This is a very important point. In my conversations with many Hindu NRIs - I am Canadian - I have been told that: (1) my family should have left India after partition; (2) Modi had nothing to do with the Gujarat riots; (3) Modi knows how to deal with the "Muslim problem". The latter two remind of the scene from True Believer, when as part of their punishment for a hate-crime, a group of Neo-Nazis meet with Holocaust survivors. One of the young men claims that Hitler never killed any Jews. Ryan Gosling's character, a Jewish Neo-Nazi, responds (and I am paraphrasing here): “Then why do you like him so much?”

  • The New York Times Criticized for Submitting to Israeli Censors
    • So you would agree then that the United States government could have interrogated American journalists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan? And that a gag order could be issued forbidding American newspapers from covering the story?

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