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Total number of comments: 341 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:47)

Spyguy68

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  • Pakistan as Hong Kong West: China's New Silk Road & US Failure
    • Note that China already has lots of engineering experience with building at very high altitudes, so building rail lines from western China to ports in Pakistan should be fairly "easy." Note also that the new "Silk Road" rail system from China to Europe could also connect with the China to Pakistan route in western China giving Pakistan access to Europe via land as well as sea.

      Over time, China's "Silk Road" rail system is going to be a major game changer for both China and all of Asia.

      BTW - The Chinese "Silk Road" rail system could also be extended to Iran , allowing Iranian trade with most of the world via China. That is, European and American goods can be "laundered" in China for transfer to Iranian customers and Iranian products could become "Chinese" and sold to the world. Of course, China profits from all this trade (as does most of the rest of the world for that matter). The only group that does not profit is the USA because of its super weird global policies.

      Note that most of China's passenger rail and freight rail systems will be fully electric by 2030. Only some lines such as the Himalaya line that is difficult to electrify will remain as diesel powered.

  • If U.S. Bombed Iran What Would Actually Happen?
    • No war declaration against Iran possible and IF Obama can listen to the military and ignore Bibi and congress there will be no attack on Iran.

      So far the record of congress critter actions is not good . . .

      - Libya - the Congress critters avoided any war declaration. Obama did that on his own and I think learned a valuable lesson when the congress critters yelled and shouted, but did not actually do anything.

      - Syria - Obama started this on his own, but backed off and forced the congress critters hand by telling them to vote on a war resolution. Notice that no war resolution has appeared even though years have gone by. McCann and other fake warriors still blow hot air, BUT none of them will actually do their job and introduce a war resolution.

      - ISIS - The congress critters yell every chance they get about how bad ISIS is, BUT has even one of them tried to get a war resolution passed? Every time a congress critter opens their mouth, it should be pointed out that one of the perks of their job is they get to write and introduce bills about anything they want, INCLUDING starting wars.

      - Iran - notice that all we have is lots of hot air. If the congress critters really want to "bomb Iran" all they have to do is pass a bill and over-ride the POTUS veto (and try to avoid all the people in the streets looking to tar and feather them).

      Obama just needs to SAY NO to war and every time he has a microphone in front of his face, he should point blank ask the American public if they want their kids to die in the middle east and if they don't, they should yell and scream at the congress critters telling them to shut up and let Obama do his job.

  • Australia's new Super Solar Cells Double Efficiency
    • Efficiency does not mean anything.

      The real VALUE is what technology has the lowest cost per kilowatt-hour of energy.

      This is why China is producing lots of low efficiency solar panels for very low cost. Sure, more panels are needed to convert the sunlight to the energy needed by a house or business, BUT if the total cost per energy used is the lowest possible, then it does not matter how efficient the panels are.

      This is the classic engineering myopia to drive to perfection regardless of cost. This myopia is what killed Solydra. The Solyndra system was super efficient, but was also super expensive. For very low cost a business could get equal energy from lots of cheap solar panels made with low efficiency silicon.

      In the real world, the cost per energy delivered is what matters and so far all these theoretical super technologies fail to deliver while China cranks out millions of kilowatts of real usable energy.

      When any of these "gee wiz" technologies can deliver solar energy for close to zero dollars, I will get excited, but until then they are just toys in a lab.

      And as a technologist myself that has brought some "interesting " products to real markets, I have learned to be extremely skeptical of the egotistic claims of laboratory dreamers. Show me real production, in large quantities, that delivers real profit for a low consumer price and I will be impressed, but until there is a real commercially successful product I will ignore the noise.

  • Has the World's Rush to Recognize Palestine come too Late?
    • No I am not Palestinian.

      But I have seen just how poorly they are treated by the whole world and as humans they deserve at least some actual help instead of pious rhetoric.

      - Right now there is no economically viable contiguous land for a Palestinian state.

      - Israel has been allowed to take all the land. Now Israel just needs to clear the land so they can use it.

      What will Israel do to clear the land? So far they have concentrated millions into Gaza where Israel can keep them in sub-human conditions.

      - The solution to Gaza is simple. All those 80% that "support" Palestinians have to do, is park their war ships off Gaza and start unloading all the material the Gazans need. Sure Israel will complain, but if enough big war ships are there, Israel will be forced to back down. Do you see any nations actually helping gaza?

      I really hate to see brutal bullies "win," but the power differential is so huge, that there is no way for Palestinians to fight Israel, at least right now. In a few years maybe, but they have to stay alive in the interim.

      Exactly who on earth will actually do anything for the Palestinians other than speak hollow words? Right now all the money that was pledged for Gaza is vaporware.

      Those 80% could easily take a figurative baseball bat to Israel if they wanted to, but no one will beat up Israel.

      Rhetoric is extremely cheap. I see no one taking any ACTION to help the Palestinians or to hurt Israel. The entire world is giving Israel a pass for their terrible actions.

    • The HARSH reality is, it is now physically impossible for there to be a Palestinian state anywhere on earth. All the land is defacto "occupied" by some other state and no one is going to physically remove other humans to make room for a Palestinian state.

      While 80% of the world's population my wring its hands over the statelessness of Palestinians, NONE are going to forcibly remove the Israelis from the land that is needed for there to be a real Palestinian state.

      The world should have beat up the USA and Israel many years ago, but now the damage is irreversibly done and pious rhetoric does nothing.

      This is why I think the Palestinians should just confront the world about their plight and ask the countries on earth which ones are going to take all the Palestinian refugees before the Israelis kill them all.

      If the world actually cared about the Palestinians, it would sanction the USA and Israel until they capitulated and Israel and the USA forcibly removed all the settlers.

      But that is not going to happen. There are ZERO people in Israel that will forcibly remove the settlers (and force is what would be needed - many of the settlers will fight to the death, they are that fanatical). The USA will protect Israel from any attempts by others to force Israel to capitulate.

      I am very pessimistic about the plight of the Palestinians. Israel wants the land and will do whatever it takes to "cleanse" the land for Israelis including mass killings if they think they can get away with it.

      I hate to see Israel's massive belligerence be rewarded, but I also feel that the best thing for each individual Palestinian is for the rest of the world to resettle them with enough resources to start a new life. Israel and the USA should be forced to cover the entire cost of the resettlement.

      Israel has won their brutal ethic cleansing. They will get away with it for a while.

  • After Israel elected 78 MPs opposed to 2 States, what can Palestinians Do?
    • The Palestinians should publicly admit defeat, disband the PLO and tell the USA since Israel will now slaughter them, the USA and Europe should absorb every non-Jew that wants to leave before the Israelis exterminate them.

      This will put the Americans, the Europeans and the other Arab nations on the spot because all of a sudden there woudl be millions of stateless refugees that the world would have to deal with as Israel shoved them off the land.

      While it is probable that tens of thousands woudl die, eventually the globe would focus it wrath on Israel because it would be good local politics in the USA, EU, etc. to beat on Israel rather than take in millions of refugees.

      The two-state "solution " is completely dead and the Palestinians should work now to either find new homes or force Israel to give them FULL Israeli citizenship.

      It is sad that the Israelis might "win" by ethnically cleansing the area, but the reality is over time the Israelis will actually lose everything, especially as the younger generations discover that they can live better lives outside Israel, and as China dwarfs Israel in innovation.

  • Netanyahu slips, Reveals reason for Opposition to Iran Deal
    • No country on earth has any "right to exist." Counties simply exist until they don't.

      The USA has no "right to exist."

      The UK has no "right to exist."

      Russia has no "right to exist."

      China has no "right to exist."

      Just like every other country on earth at this moment (it will change over time), Israel has no "right to exist."

      It is generally accepted that INDIVIDUAL HUMANS have a "right to exist," but that does not apply to the groupings that those humans may adopt time to time.

      It is easy to turn Israel's vapid argument on it end and then demand that Israel MUST agree to that Palestine and Iran have a "right to exist," but Israel will never agree to that.

      Over the last 50000 years humans have created thousands of city/states and most of them have disappeared (for example the Hebrews ceased to be a state thousands of years ago - that is just what happens throughout history).

    • While Tom Friedman gets a LOT wrong nearly 100% of the time, but he is VERY CORRECT that the world is flat when it comes to technology. When very efficient 32-bit computers cost US$35 and 64-bit multi-core computers will soon be less than US$100, and most of the earth is tied together by a very efficient digital communications network, every part of the earth has access to all of mankind's technology and information. There are no secrets.

      Since all weapons are based on science and technology, that means that everyone on earth has pretty much the same weapons and the same battle knowledge.

      This means the natives that used to be at a disadvantage compared to the "global" powers are no longer at a disadvantage. The locals can now very effectively kill the invaders with AK-47s (currently there is one for every 50 humans on earth) and IEDs (you would be amazed at what people can do with stuff from Walmart).

      This is the problem the "global" powers (and Israel) are hitting like a brick wall. The USA, Israel and other invader nations are at their limits and can no longer win even if they are willing to kill all of their own citizens in the process.

      This is where the delusions of the neocons and Israelis is so dangerous. They really believe they can still "win" and therefore do extremely foolish things. Even after losing very decisively in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans still think they can win the next war. I do not know just how badly the USA is going to have to lose before Americans understand they are only a small part of the globe and can not push other nations around.

      Unfortunately it appears that the Israelis egos are far too large, the hubris far too extreme and the delusional myths are so in grained, that Israelis will not give up until they lose everything.

    • Look down-wind of Iran.

      Israelis can be really dumb sometimes, but I suspect if they think about it, they will realize what countries are downwind and how they will react to having Israel contaminate their citizens and food supplies with radioactive debris from attacking Iran.

      Hint: China has nukes and the missiles to deliver them to Israel. India has nukes and the missiles to deliver them to Israel. Pakistan has nukes but no missiles to deliver them to Israel, BUT they woudl find a way to retaliate against Israel.

      In REALITY, first strike nukes are ONLY good for one thing . . . committing suicide.

    • FYI - "Iron dome" is more like "rust dome."

      ALL anti-missile systems are very limited in functionality and capacity with terrible economics.

      An "iron dome" battery consists of three launchers with 20 missiles each for a total of 60 per battery and an acquisition and control system. Each battery costs about $50 million, while each of the Tamir interceptors cost as much as $100,000. After the 60 missiles are launched, the battery is worthless until it is reloaded several hours later.

      Basic physics determines that about 75% of the iron dome missiles fail.

      Of course Iran has a simple solution to Iran dome and similar anti-missile systems - make thousands of very inexpensive but reasonably accurate missiles and "swarm" (overload) the defensive systems.

      Israel has 10 iron dome batteries which means, with extremely optimal conditions (never possible) it can stop a maximum of 600 incoming missiles. This means that over 49000 of the missiles the IDF says are pointed at Israel would get through. The situation in Saudi Arabia would be no better.

  • Do GOP Frontrunners have an Iran policy besides Sanctions and Bombs?
    • I do not know of any "journalist" that is willing to call a "guest" a liar to their face (which is what should be done).

      Of course I am a firm believer in "skin the rascals alive" type of journalism. I think public figures should be treated like scum every chance there is such that they dread running for political office.

    • Except that while countries can pretend to agree with the USA, they can simultaneously look the other way and plead innocence. I noted my own experience with trade embargoes that did not work here:

      link to juancole.com

      Actually the USA has almost zero leverage over third-party sanctions, especially as the Chinese international trading bank comes on-line because it will hide all financial transactions from the USA. It is very, very easy to create shell companies around the globe to shield international companies from USA retaliation. All they have to do is show that they sold to the shell company in good faith and promise to never sell to that shell company ever again (real easy to do because the shell company had served its purpose and had long disappeared). All the USA will be left with is egg on its face.

      So how do you set up a "reasonable" shell company you ask? First find a company that has existed on paper someplace on earth for several years. The company just has to exist for a reasonable amount of time without having any legal problems. Then you buy it for a reasonable price. You may even keep it running. then buy stuff from American companies and have it shipped to your long standing address. Then it gets "stolen" from your location. After it is safely out of the country, you may even report it to the police so that you can continue to buy for American companies. After all,there is a LOT of theft in your country (especially of American stuff that sells well on the "secondary" market), so you can't be responsible for stuff that gets stolen. Note that the American companies get paid, so they have no complaint, they just have to cover their rears from the US government.

      As you can see there are LOTS of ways to get around anything the USA congress critters try to prevent. This is because as long as political entities have been trying to regulate trade, the traders have come up with ways to totally ignore the restrictions which means the smugglers and money launders WIN EVERY TIME.

      The bottom line is there are ZERO ways for the USA to enforce third-party sanctions in the real world. For example, Iran recently purchased FOUR brand new American made helicopters along with all the spare parts by using the old shell company trick.

      Also as I noted, option "A" is highly;y likely not because the other countries want to have a trade war with the USA, but have been waiting for a plausible excuse to cripple USA companies in their country in favor of local companies. If he USA gives a country a handy way to kick Google out, all the better.

      Americans are pretty egotistical and have no clue how much other countries would love to shaft the USA while wearing a big friendly smile.

    • Every time a republican opens their mouth, every journalists should loudly point out that republicans have NO SOLUTIONS. It is really down to this deal or no deal and Iran does what they want.

      Every republican should be repeatedly asked HOW?

      - HOW can the USA put any further direct sanctions on Iran when all the possible direct sanctions were put in place in 1979?

      - HOW will the USA keep third-parties from dropping most of the existing sanctions? USA laws are meaningless outside the USA.

      - HOW will the USA convince China, Russia, India and most of the rest of the world to increase sanctions on Iran when most woudl rather drop the sanctions that are now in place (they will not put new ones in place, no matter how much the USA begs).

      - HOW can the USA use the global banking system as a bludgeon when most countries on earth are joining the Chinese global banking system because they are angry about the USA control of the current banking system?

      - HOW soon after most of the earth switches most of their financial transactions to the Chinese banking system will the USA dollar drop through the floor, taking the USA economy with it?

      - HOW soon will they actually pass a declaration of war on Iran over a POTUS veto? (considering they are afraid to pass a declaration of war on Syria or ISIL, it may be a while).

      - HOW many dead Americans are they OK with when the USA attacks Iran?

      - HOW soon will they authorize a draft to triple the size of the USA military so it is comparable to Iran's current active military? (this ignores the 25 million military capable humans in Iran that have a 50:1 advantage over the USA)

      - HOW soon will they triple the taxes for the wealthiest Americans to pay for the war with Iran?

      - HOW soon after the USA loses the war will they apologize for being so stupid?

      basically the republicans are delusional about the real world. They appear to think all we have to do is snap our fingers and the world will obey blindly, whereas in the REAL WORLD countries like China, Russia, India, Japan and even many in Europe will do what they want, when they want and will defy the USA and there is ZERO the congress critters can do about it.

      Journalist should do their job and point out how delusional republicans are, but given how meek most journalists are, I do not expect very much. For example, Bibi's interview this weekend was basically an uncontested rant full of lies.

  • What if US & UN Sanctioned Israel over its Nukes as they did Iran over Enrichment?
    • Not as fictional as many might think.

      Israel is facing a huge generational demographic time bomb around the globe. The humans born during and just after WW2 are rapidly retiring and becoming less active in national power dynamics and even more important, they are dying off due to age related causes.

      To the population born in the late 1960s and later, WW2 and the establishment of Israel is ancient history and given all the strife caused by Israel, many consider Israel to be a bad nation. The younger population is also much less religious than the older generations and tend to discount any discussion points based on religion.

      As the younger generation moves into positions of power around the globe, Israel's standard messaging is going to fall on deaf ears and attitudes about Israel will shift, slowly at first, but once it reaches a tipping point, Israel's future will become very dark, very quickly.

      I suspect that Bibi will be the last Israeli leader to have any audience outside Israel because the USA republican party is also facing the same demographic time bomb. The weird thing is some of the republican leadership knows they are facing a dark future but can not figure out how to move the party away from the extremely disliked values the party currently has. Even though the social conservatives are a declining part of the USA population, the republicans can't figure out a way to tell them that they can no longer set the republican party agenda and they will just have to learn to live in the 21st century.

      While the scenario will probably not play out as Mr. Cole writes, I think Israel is going to have some rude shocks in the near future and will discover that 7 million people eventually have to bow to the will of 7 billion. Yes, Israeli egos are going to take quite a hit.

  • Elon Musk: Solar Energy, Electric Cars will avert Wars for Oil
    • If we can bring the cost of non-hydrocarbon energy down far enough, we can easily use that energy to make usable fresh water from the oceans.

      Right now nuclear ships and subs "make" their fresh water from sea water using electrical energy from the reactors. The process is fairly straight forward, but it uses energy. So cheap non-carbon energy would allow us to "make" fresh water and pipe it to wherever it is needed.

      Using low water usage farming could yield more than enough food for the entire globe.

      Yes, we would pretty much have to rebuild the global water and food infrastructure, but it is very doable with current technology.

  • Netanyahu on Iran Deal: threatens ‘survival of Israel’, ‘horrific war’
    • Per The Nuclear Threat Initiative (nti.org) there are some nukes that are "missing" from the global inventory. NTI is a reasonably balanced view of the global nuclear situation.

      Then there is the Pakistani entrepreneur, AQ Khan, who sells nukes to pretty much anyone (Pakistan "promised" he wouldn't do that). The Saudis went shopping with him when they needed something to put on top of their brand new DF-21C MRBM they purchased form China (DF-21c is a quick-fire solid fuel missile with a 30 meter accuracy - of course who needs that much accuracy when it is topped with a nuke). If the Iranians were not so paranoid about sourcing weapons from third parties, they could have had a nuke long ago.

      As others have pointed out, Israel is a target for many REAL WORLD nukes (Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and possibly India, Pakistan, the UK or France), so why is it so worried about Iran, which does NOT actually have a nuke yet?

      Yes, I know people will see that list and say I am smoking something, BUT all of those are probable. Far too many Israelis think the "Samson Option" is a great idea. Israel has developed ICBMS that can reach all of Europe, Russia, ME and parts of China. Therefore, Saudi Arabia and Russia are obvious. China always targets known threats and Israel is a threat. It is also reasonable to think the UK and France have target plans for a rogue Israel. India certainly has the nukes and the ICBMs to nuke Israel, but unless Israel's actions harm India, it is unlikely to nuke Israel. Currently Pakistan's MRBM can not quite reach Israel, but the next version probably will (or Pakistan can simply buy ICBMs from NK) and Pakistan certainly has the nukes.

      So yes, the "problem" of Iran someday getting a nuke does seem to be over blown. The real reason probably has to do more with balance of power in the ME. Israel can not survive very long if they can't scare others and Iran having nukes would take away the scare factor. There are many in the USA that are still angry that our Iranian puppet was thrown out by the people of Iran and "our oil" was sold to China and others. And of course the Saudis have made a terrible deal with ultra extremist Muslims, so they have to oppose the "other Muslims." In reality this is more about who has the bigger male sex organ than about nukes.

    • How does Bibi think the USA can get a "better deal?"

      Lets pretend Bib succeeds in using the USA congress critters to derail this negotiation, what does he think will happen?

      - More sanctions? - China and Russia have very publicly said there will be no additional sanctions. In fact if the USA congress derails the negotiations, China and Russia will drop all their current sanctions. In addition, while most European countries may not "officially" drop sanctions, many will turn a blind eye to any infractions and when the USA complains act like Sgt Schulz on the US TV show ("I know nothing ...."). Once most of the sanctions are gone, the USA will have zero leverage over Iran and no partners to help.

      - More banking restrictions? - The Chinese are very angry about USA control of the global banking system. This is one of the reasons the new Chinese trade bank has zero USA participation and does not use the USA dollar as the trading currency. The new bank is designed to provide an alternative to the USA controlled banking system. The new bank will NOT have any restrictions on financial transaction with Iran and will hide any such transactions from the USA. It will very effectively launder all Iranian transactions. The more the USA congress critters try to use the USA controlled banking system as a club, the more countries will abandon the USA system in favor of the Chinese system. The USA has zero leverage over China, who will simply tell the USA to go suck an egg. BTW - The Israelis are so naive about this bank, they are trying to join, indirectly helping Iran.

      - More trade retaliations by the USA against other countries to get compliance? - Sure, congress critters could try to punish non-USA companies, BUT that works both ways. There are many countries that would love an excuse to punish USA companies and favor local companies. They have avoided this to keep from starting a trade war with the USA, BUT . . . if the USA starts it, they will be glad to go along. Very quickly, USA companies and products will be under financial attack around the globe and those USA companies will know exactly who the beat up - the congress critters. Once started, this would be hard to stop and even when the congress critters tried to undo the damage, they might not succeed. This would of course ensure no one listened to the USA about Iran.

      - Military force? - As noted elsewhere in Dr. Cole's very valuable site, this would be catastrophic for Israel and the USA and has a 90% chance of failure. Obama is very aware of the consequences of attacking Iran and is doing all he can to avoid that. He is actually being helped by congress since none of the congress critters want to actually vote on any more war. Congress has avoided voting on a Syria war and an ISIL war. It is doubtful that congress critters would vote to attack Iran, especially given that two governors that recently made unpopular decisions were forced to publicly back down in humiliation (sure they tried to put a nice face on it,but they felt the humiliation). I suspect that even with the Knesset, Bibi could not get a war authorization either, which is why he is trying to get the congress critters to do it.

      So the bottom line is, this is the BEST deal Bibi is going to see and anything he does to derail it will be terrible for Israel. Just getting this deal has used up all the political capitol the USA has and the world will not listen any more if this falls apart.

      Bib has LOST and he should just accept it.

  • War with Iran, by the Numbers
    • The DF-21D has a range of only about 800-1000 miles, so USA carriers are "safe" as long as they stay that far away.

      Of course that does cause a "slight" problem for the aircraft based on the carrier, because the jets have a very limited flight range, especially when carrying a heavy bomb load. This means that the carrier will have to also launch a lot of refueling aircraft or have the USAF launch a lot of refuelers from "safe" (and distant) land bases. In either case, this just increases the cost of each mission by 5x to 10x and wears out the pilots at a very fast pace. In-flight refueling is routine by now, but still increases the stress level and fatigue of the pilots and fatigued pilots make lots of mistakes.

      Of course that long distance flight path gives the S-400 systems (range ~ 200 miles) guarding the borders lots of time to acquire and destroy the incoming jets. Note that Iran and China have refined the S-400 design so it is not only more accurate , BUT also easier and less expensive to manufacture. This is key to the Iranian concept of "swarming." That is, target each attacking device with enough counter measures to over load the defenses and ensure that the incoming attacker is destroyed. To do this the Iranian weapons must be very inexpensive but reliable, which they are.

      As far as I know, China is not selling the DF-21D to anyone, BUT China and Iran have an informal agreement to share weapons technology. Both China and Iran have benefited from this arrangement with Iran giving China some nice improvements to several designs in return for China giving Iran the initial designs. So there is a very good chance that Iran will be able to develop their own version of the DF-21D, if they have not already done that.

    • Trying to blockade Iran would cause the USA huge harm economically and most of the rest of world would side with Iran.

      Yes, tankers would stop traveling in the ME areas, BUT Iran has pipelines to many other places and some oil will flow (mostly to China).

      BUT the bottom line is, the USA power has been checkmated by Iran.

      As for your rosy invasion scenario, are you going to be one of those cannon fodder you are so willing to send to their death in Iran?

      The number of ways to kill Americans has been very well refined over the last 20 years (thank you GWB). Plus there is the "little problem" that Iran's ACTIVE army is well trained, well equipped, very loyal and lead by battle tested generals. It is also three times the size of the US army and marines combined. Remember that Iran is currently beating ISIS in Iraq and Hezbollah is doing OK against ISIS in Syria. Then there is the other "slight" problem that Iran has 25 MILLION military capable people who will gladly kill every American they can find. It is highly probable that American invaders would not get anywhere close to the key nuclear facilities let alone dismantle them.

      You have fallen into the classic trap Sun Tzu told us about over 3000 years ago - vastly underestimating the opponent combined with extreme hubris about your own strength - A guaranteed and historically proven way to lose.

      You will NOT like the results of any USA invasion, nor will you like what happens to you if the USA tries to blockade Iran.

    • Iran wants a decent deal and Israel has no ability to attack Iran without committing suicide.

      The IDF has already explained this to Bibi many times and he still opens his big mouth while ignoring the IDF advice.

      No one in the IDF or Massad want any war with Iran. In fact on 31 Mar, the IDF publicly warned that war with Lebanon would be very deadly for Israel and everyone in Israel is freaking out that the IDF would even say such a thing.

    • It is even worser than you think.

      - To stop shipping, all Iran has to do is torpedo any ship in the Persian gulf. While a tanker would make great video as it burned, keep in mind that any USN ship in the gulf is a sitting duck for Iranian subs, because the subs are equipped with super-cavitating torpedoes for which the USN has no defense, especially in the narrow gulf. Once one ship is sunk, all the marine insurance policies will be canceled and no ship owner will want to risk losing a multimillion dollar ship. Tankers will evacuate the gulf overnight.

      - If Iran thinks the Saudis are a danger, they will blow up all the Saudi oil terminals causing KSA to lose most of their revenue for at least two years. Oil production infrastructure is all hand built in place. There are no "spare" infrastructure just sitting in a field ready to replace stuff that gets blown up. Of course with KSA oil off the market and with the USA no where self sufficient in energy, the USA economy would collapse.

      - As for the USA invading and occupying Iran, that would require a MINIMUM of 3 million USA troops (big draft) and the death rate for the USA troops would be a minimum of 1% a month. I am sure the American public would be "thrilled" about both the death rate and he huge financial cost (between the energy costs and the war costs, the USA would be bankrupt very quickly)

      Iran has been planning for a USA attack for 35+ years. They have looked for every weak point the USA has and have developed technology and strategies to exploit those many weak points. An attack on Iran will be terrible for the USA and the USA will retreat in defeat very quickly as the costs escalate.

    • Anyone worried about "loose canons with nukes," should keep in mind that Pakistan ALREADY has nuclear weapons and has the Shaheen III MRBM with a range of up to 1700mi, which could enable it to reach deep into the Middle East. The next version will be able to reach Israel. Of course, Pakistan could just buy Taepodong-2 missiles from NK and easily reach Israel. Note that China will probably not sell Pakistan any DF-3, DF-4 or DF-31 because they would not trust Pakistan to not use them on China.

    • The USA neocons have never met an opponent like China who they are VASTLY underestimating.

      China alone has over 20% of the global population and will do what ever it takes to protect them, including beating the USA to a bloody pulp. China is NOT afraid of the USA, but because Americans have zero understanding of the 5000 year old culture, they miss-read China's traditional polite subtle messages for weakness. China has a very deadly iron fist inside that velvet glove.

      SCO is not going to be broken up, but will get stronger much to the detriment of the USA.

      Once again the USA lack of real world knowledge about other cultures combined with extreme hubris, is going to blow up in the USA face.

    • Who is to say Iran hasn't already purchased one of the many "lose nukes" that are floating around the world? Per NTI.org, there are some nukes "missing" from the global inventory.

      The Saudis did buy their nukes instead of building their own, just like they purchased the DF-21C MRBM to put them on. AQ Khan is a busy man and still selling nukes even after Pakistan "promised" he would not do that.

      Iranians are so paranoid they insist on designing and building their own war toys - Saudis just buy their war toys from the many global suppliers.

    • It is impossible for the USA to occupy Iran for more than a few months. The death rate for Americans would be huge. As i noted above, the ratio is 50 Iranian fighters for each American.

      Then there is the problem that Iran supplies about 10% of China's energy. I suspect that China would not be happy about the USA stopping that flow. In fact they just may severely punish the USA. possible by driving the US dollar through the floor and bankrupting the USA. Yes that would also hurt China, BUT a lot less than losing the Iranian energy.

    • As I pointed out here . . .

      link to juancole.com

      Israel and/or the USA would quickly deeply regret attacking Iran.

      Some things to remember about Iran:

      - It is pretty much self sufficient in weapons design and production. They are just as advanced as the USA in weapons design, except Iran knows how to make very effective weapons for a tenth of the cost of the USA.

      - Iran has spent the last 35+ years trying to make an inevitable USA attack as painful as possible for the USA. Iranians, remembering their history, are sure the USA will once again attack Iran, just like they have in the past. Iran is very prepared.

      - Iran has figured out that thousands of inexpensive, reasonably accurate missiles easily trump a single very, very expensive aircraft. Keep in mind that a single USA carrier only has 60 or so aircraft and each aircraft has less than five munitions hard-points on each aircraft and those hard-points can only support several hundred pounds each and for every pound hanging on a hard-point the distance the aircraft can fly drops substantially. This means the pilots must often refuel multiple times for each mission leading to pilot fatigue. Missiles don't get fatigued and make deadly mistakes. Note that Iranian missiles are so inexpensive, Iran can easily afford to fire two or three at each incoming aircraft making it almost impossible for the US pilot to survive. This is the "swarm" technique Iranians like so much.

      - Once the air war fails, the US will be forced to either withdraw in humiliation or escalate to a ground war. Iran is well prepared for this also. Iran has carefully taken notes on how the Vietnamese, Afghans and Iraqis defeated the USA ground military and has developed even better techniques.

      - Iran has over 25 million military capable humans and the personal weapons to support them (Iran makes thousands of AK-47s every month and can easily buy more on the global market). The entire USA land fighting force is less than half a million, so they will be vastly outnumbered (~50 to 1) by Iranians. Most Americans will die rather quickly. Of course the congress critters could restart the draft but may not like the reaction they get from the voters.

      Then there is the "slight" problem in that both Russia and China have said very plainly that they would be extremely unhappy if the USA or Israel attacks Iran and they have the ability to make American and Israeli lives very BAD.

      The bottom line is the USA would be extremely foolish to attack Iran. As Dr. Cole points out, the basic numbers are terrible for the USA for any attack.

  • Ted Cruz Thinks Non-Christians Have Too Much Power
    • Over my 25+ years political discussion, I have tried very carefully to avoid invoking "Godwin's Law." BUT . . .

      Ted Cruz's methods just strike me as very similar to the techniques another famous psychopath used to gain power in Germany in the1930s.

      Cruz is no dummy and he carefully crafts his image and messages to trigger all the hate-filled responses possible. I suspect he knows the messages he sends are internally inconsistent, contradictory and unworkable in the real world, but they trigger the responses he desires.

      Unfortunately critical thinking is in very short supply in the USA (and around the world for that matter), so he will be able to get a fair number of people to follow him over the cliff.

      While most of the republicans are simply mindless clowns, Cruz may be more dangerous since he seems capable of using the rubs to gain power.

  • The rise of the Israeli far right & the future of Palestine
    • The key problem for Israel is in your last line . . . "will continue to occur as long as the majority of Americans tolerate their government’s inaction and indifference toward the human rights of Palestinians."

      While it is true that Israel has literally gotten away with mass murder for over 50 years, the global conditions that allowed them to do that, are changing fairly quickly.

      - Power is inevitably shifting away from the USA (the USA could never retain the power it had after WW2 - that is just how the global power shifts constantly).

      - The generation that lived through WW2 and the immediate aftermath is dying off and all their memories are fading into oblivion.

      - The next generations in the USA, Europe, Asia and the ME have vastly different views on Israel - mostly very negative.

      - The entire globe is awash in weapons that are equal to anything Israel will ever have. Israel has lost its military edge (as has the USA, no matter how much we spend on F-35 white elephants).

      So, yes Israelis can do all the things you list, BUT . . . in the long term, it will only cause them to have a more massive and painful failure.

      As I noted above, humans have a terrible habit of fighting the inevitable loss of power, no matter how much damage they do to themselves in the process. Very few humans will accept defeat gracefully. So unfortunately the path to the future will be really ugly and ultimately very painful for Israelis.

    • My desire would be for Israel to undergo social change via economic persuasion and social action., BUT (there is always a but), as a realist, I think the change will be because of violence. Humans just do not give up power willingly, they always fight to the death for it. Jewish people have wanted lots of power for thousands of years and now that they have a little bit, they do not want to give it up. It is that very egotistical delusions of power that drive Bibi to lecture the POTUS and the UN.

      In another article on Dr. Cole's site he imagines a war in the un-holy land. While I quibble with the details, the broad outlines are probably what will happen.

      It is sad that humans so badly screw up their own lives just for the delusions of power.

    • Sadly, there is no possibility of a Palestinian state.

      The settlers have got their wish of Israel having all the land west of the Jordan River. There is no possibility that any Israeli leader would start a civil war to remove the settlers from the area needed for Palestine.

      But Israelis have painted themselves into a corner with a future that is going to cause them lots of pain.

      Now that Israel has all the land, their next delusion is they can severely oppress the non-Jews and the non-Jews will simply flee the area.

      Of course their delusion glosses over the fact that the non-Jews living west of the Jordan River have no place to flee to. What other place on earth is going to take millions of very poor, angry humans? Certainly not Jordan, Egypt or Saudi Arabia. The Saudis may have a lot of wealth, but they have no desire to share it with Palestinians. The USA is so racist when it comes to Muslims and is so lacking in jobs, it will never take the non-Jews.

      When ever I ask Israelis where the non-Jews are supposed to go, I get blank stares or they say Jordan and when I ask what happens when Jordan refuses to take them I get more blank stares.

      The REALITY is the non-Jews living west of the Jordan river are NOT going anywhere and will not allow themselves to be oppressed forever.

      this means that eventually Israel as a "Jewish" state will cease to exist, being replaced by a secular state with a very large Jewish minority.

  • How GOP threats against Iran have Guaranteed end of European Sanctions
    • But it can also improve the individual economies of those that are assigned to monitor the sanctions.

      there is lots of bribe money flowing, which is why sanctions are a farce.

    • It is a leader generation problem.

      Most of the current leaders in Europe were born just after WW2 and still have memories of that period.

      Once the current leaders transition to the next two generations, things will very probably change very rapidly.

    • The Mideast desperately needs to go through a de-colonization and power restructuring to get rid of the last of the French/UK/USA empire garbage.

      Until that happens, the area will continue to be unstable and unable to move into the 21st century.

      It is long past time that the European drawn borders are restructured and the Sunni/Shia power alignment fixed.

    • I have already experienced the end run around US laws . . .

      Many years ago, I was the customer care manager for a company whose products were restricted from being sold to China, BUT . . .

      I soon discovered that many of our products were actually being used in China (I got the support questions).

      So how did our products get to China you ask - by the ancient techniques of smuggling and money laundering. I was able to trace some of the serial numbers and discovered that we had sold our products to companies in Asia that appeared to be legal, fully functional companies and they paid in US dollars through legitimate Asian banks. We shipped to legitimate addresses in Asia. Then our products "fell off the edge of the earth." That is, our products "disappeared" from the ship-to address and some time later "magically" appeared in China.

      In reality, our USA company had no way to really verify which companies in Asia would violate USA law and forward ship our products to China.

      Even if we quit selling to all of Asia (causing us a loss of a lot of profit), we could not guarantee that some customer, some place else on earth would not also trans-ship our products to China.

      In the end, to cover our own rear ends, we reported the "illegal" transfer" of our products to the US government, stopped sales to the companies that appeared to have done the transfer and moved on.

      Of course, all the smugglers did was create lots more "legitimate" companies (often by buying a company that had existed for many years and turning it into a front), who purchased our products until they were caught. Wash, rinse and repeat.

      When I was at another company, we had customers in northern Mexico that preferred to buy our products direct from us in San Diego, CA USA and "transport" the products across the border instead of dealing with our reseller in Mexico because the reseller had terrible customer service. Again the USA company did nothing "illegal," it was the customer.

    • Americans are very ignorant about the rest of humanity, but especially ignorant about Asia and China in particular.

      China has a 5000 year history of mercantilism. This is why there are significant Chinese communities all over Asia.

      Americans appear to only vaguely know the last 200 years of Asian history when the Europeans expanded their empires, but for thousands of years prior to the European empires, China would be considered a "regional power" in our modern way of thought.

      One of the things the Chinese learned over their 5000 year history is conquering and trying to control people is very costly and it is usually less expensive to co-opt people economically.

    • Americans do not appear to understand that humans have spent the last 10000 years coming up with ways to circumvent trade restrictions put in place by tribal rulers. In the end the tribal rulers ALWAYS lose the the smugglers and money launders ALWAYS WIN.

      You are correct that the congress critters will rant a lot and lose big time in the end (as will Americans that want jobs).

    • Not only will most, if not all, third-party (non-US) sanctions disappear, but by using the US/UK sponsored SWIFT banking network as a club, the USA has inadvertently helped China to bring their alternative to SWIFT on-line quicker. China now not only has membership commitments from most of Asia, but also many European nations. Within a few months, there will be two parallel banking systems on the earth. One mostly controlled by the USA and one mostly controlled by China. The SWIFT network uses the US dollar as the trading currency, BUT the Chinese equivalent uses a basket of currencies (but NOT the USA dollar).

      If most of Asia and Europe decides to move most of their trading to the Chinese system, to avoid dealing with the USA treasury, the US dollar could be hit hard and many USA multi-national companies may decide to use the Chinese system to hide most of their trade transactions from the USA government (but not the Chinese government).

      As a result, while the congress critters can make thousands of laws trying to control the rest of the earth, USA companies and non-USA companies will simply evade US rules by using the Chinese system. The congress critters can huff and puff all they want, but they will accomplish nothing except making lots of other people angry at the USA.

      Someone should remind congress critters that over the last 10000 years, as political leaders have tried to control trade and money, humans have devised ways to smuggle goods and launder money for fun and profit. The congress critters simply can NOT win at this game. They can only lose or lose really, really badly.

      The congress critter egos are going to take a BIG whack up side the head real soon.

  • Old GOP Realist James Baker's hard Ride among Neocons
    • Violent racism by a minority against a majority can only work for a limited amount of time. In the end the oppressed majority always gets their revenge and I do not know of any oppressed majority that has been gentle when they finally take power.

    • BUT . . . the white Evangelical Christian segment of the USA population is rapidly decreasing in size because, as their members die off due to age, they are not being replaced replaced by younger members. In fact, All religions in the USA (and Europe for that matter) are decreasing in size. Even those people that profess to be "religious" usually do not actually practice their religion. Only a very small part of the USA population attends church per the attendance numbers of the churches themselves. this is why many of the Evangelical Mega Churches have had to consolidate or close.

      This is the BIG problem the republicans have. All their core constituencies (Evangelical Christians, white racists, elderly, social conservatives, misogynistic men, etc.) are decreasing in size and the constituencies that are increasing in size strongly dislike the republicans ideals. Right now, republicans tend to have lots of vacant land, but very few people, whereas the democrats tend to have the population centers. For an example of where this leads look at California.

      There is a very good reason why the rural counties of California want to form their own (poverty stricken) state. The rural counties are powerless because the population centers which trend democratic now have enough population and wealth to control the entire state mechanism. As the rural areas of the USA further de-populate a similar thing will probably happen in the USA, no matte how gerrymandered the districts are.

      Israelis are stupid to align themselves with the republicans because the republicans are sitting on a demographic time bomb that will blow up in their face.

  • Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories ‘must end’ – White House chief of staff
    • It is long past time for the USA government to be honest.

      A "two-state" solution is no longer possible. There is zero contiguous land west of the Jordan River available to form a new nation. All of the land has been populated by Israelis and there is ZERO chance anyone in Israel will ever clear enough space for Palestine. For the Israeli government to clear enough usable land, would require a very bloody civil war.

      Obama should go on national TV and flatly state that the peace process is dead, that there is no land for a Palestinian state. Then he should say that the USA will work with the UN to make every human west of the Jordan River a FULL citizen of Israel.

      Every human with half a brain on earth KNOWS that the "two-state" solution is 100% dead and buried, so why keep up the fiction?

      Obama should make Americans face the truth.

      If that upsets Israelis, so be it. They have screwed themselves with their settlement policy and will just have to live with it.

      Israelis CHOOSE to take all the land, ignoring the FACT that the humans came with the land. Now they need to treat the non-Jewish humans exactly the same as the Jewish humans.

      Why drag this out for a few more decades? Lets end the farce and get the non-Jews living west of the Jordan river the human rights they deserve..

  • What exactly have the US & EU been doing to Iran's Economy?
    • Sanctions are only as good as the enforcement and lately enforcement of sanction on trade with Iran have been getting more lax by the day.

      It should be remembered that one of the oldest human activities has been avoidance of restrictions on wealth accumulation and open trade for fun and profit. Smuggling and money laundering are as old as mankind and exactly ZERO governing organizations have been able to stop it over the last 50000 years.

      In fact, Iran recently purchased five American made helicopters and parts even though the USA has had strict trade restrictions for over 35 years.

      Right now, the Chinese and SCO sponsored Trade Bank is coming on-line, with most countries on earth becoming members. Once it is fully in operation, it will be easy for Iran to trade openly with most countries on earth and in secret with the few countries that will still enforce trade restrictions.

      Regardless what the USA wants and regardless what some European leaders want, the European trade sectors are going to trade with Iran because there is so much profit in it. And the European countries are going to look the other way because their trade sectors add to the country's wealth. When the congress critters rant, the European leaders will pledge to try to "fix" the problem and then promptly do what their own citizens want, which is to increase their wealth by trading with Iran.

      Quite frankly I am surprised that the trade sanctions have even worked as well as they did for as long as they did, but the defacto end of Iran sanctions is near regardless what the P5+1 do.

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  • Obama might stop vetoing UNSC Resolutions re: Israel after Netanyahu rejected Palestinian state
    • The BEST thing the USA delegation to the UN could do every time anything having to do with Israeli is on the UNSC or UNGA agenda, is the entire delegation should simply declare it is "hotdog and coffee time" and leave the building. That is, simply do not show up. There would be no recorded vote, veto, abstention or anything. Let Israel deal with the rest of the world all on their own. Israelis will quickly discover just how powerless and insignificant Israel is.

      Will the rest of the world really beat up on poor little Israel? probably, but that is just the way global power structures function. If Israelis want to try to tell the rest of the world what to do, they should expect that the rest of the world will push back, HARD.

  • Mideast Reacts with Horror: "Israel has elected Extremism and Racism"
    • Once again , Israelis have shown they can not think more than one hour into the future.

      Apparently no one in Israel is capable of understanding that the current situation can NOT be sustained. No One seems to be capable of asking "So what happens tomorrow when the global power shifts and the entire world has the same military capability as Israel?"

      Do the Israelis really think they will be able to oppress the non-Jews forever? What happens when they are no longer able? Already Hezbollah and Hamas have the ability to cause massive damage to the heart of Israel and the situation will only get much worse as weapons improve AND decrease in cost. Israel has no "magic weapons."

      Do the Israelis really think the USA will protect Israel forever? What happens when the USA either does not have the ability nor the desire to protect Israel? The USA has many internal problems, in particular the transfer of power from the old white minority to others in the population. The USA population is going to be internally focused for many years as it sorts out power. There will come a time when Israel is more pain than it is worth.

      Do the Israeli really think some other country will replace the USA as its protector? Who? Israelis frequently mention China, but all China wants to do is strip-mine Israel for Intellectual Property and leave it a dried up husk. China may play nice for a short period of time, but will not be hesitant to "whack" Israel if it needs to do that. China has learned a lot over the last 5000 years (a lot more than the Israelis).

      Do the Israelis really think they can somehow avoid economic damage from their largest trading partner, Europe? Who will replace Europe if Europeans decide to boycott Israel? Over 75% of Europeans were born after WW2 and they feel zero guilt about WW2, even the younger Germans. To most Europeans, Israel is just a huge pain in the rear and soon it will be very easy for Europe to just quit trading with Israel. This will not hurt Europe at all, but will cause massive economic problems in Israel. Asia will NOT fill the gap because Israel produces nothing that is not also made in Asia for much less cost.

      No one in Israel seems to understand the path they have chosen and how painful the end will be.

      I suspect that over the next year, Israeli citizens are going to discover how much of a mistake they have made and I will not be surprised if there is a large exodus of the "best and brightest" to the many places on earth where they can live very nice lives with minimal fear of war. Why should very talented people stay in a war zone with very high cost of living, when they can live so many other places? Sure, the emotional attachment is strong, but over the last 5000 years many, many people have broken similar bonds and moved for better lives. Just look at all the millions that have left their homelands with nothing but their clothes, to come to America.

      this is not going to end well for Israel.

  • Contrary to Israeli PM, alternative to realistic Iran Nuclear Deal is *no* Deal
    • "Fun Fact" to think about . . .

      Attacking Iran (population ~75M and technologically only slightly less than USA), would be similar to the USA attacking:

      - Germany - population ~81M and slightly more technologically advanced than Iran and like Iran does NOT have nukes, or . . .

      - France - population ~66M and slightly more technologically advanced than Iran and has nukes, or . . .

      -UK - population ~65M and slightly more technologically advanced than Iran and has nukes.

      BTW - the last time the USA attacked Germany, the USA had to draft millions of Americans and spent a lot of the USA wealth - it will be very similar with Iran.

      Does that provide a slightly different perspective?

    • As Professor Cole has pointed out in other articles, the current polling data shows over 50% of Americans are willing to go to war with Iran.

      The problem with these polls is they are basically "feel good" polls which ask pretty meaningless, low detail questions and never get into the probable consequences of any action.

      This is similar to the polls that show "support" for Israel. After all, who would ever admit to not supporting that "wonderful country?" I suspect that if all the consequences of supporting Israel were ever included in the questions, the support for Israel would fall a lot.

      These major poll mistakes is why I said that the congress critters could pass a declaration of war and a majority of Americans would be thrilled for a short time. BUT when all the extremely terrible consequences started making American lives very miserable, Americans will turn on the congress critters seemingly overnight.

      Of course, by then the avalanche will be rolling downhill and even if the congress critters tried to stop the war, the US would still suffer major if not catastrophic damage.

      Once the war starts, Americans are so f***ed.

    • Mr. Graham is very correct that the USA has ONLY three options:

      - Sign a UNSC compromise agreement, or

      - kill the talks and ignore Iran, or

      - kill the talks and go to war with Iran.

      Since both Russia and China have said publicly that there will be no further sanctions, killing the talks means the USA will have to choose to ignore Iran or attack Iran. Those will be the ONLY two options.

      As I have pointed out in detail in other postings, a US attack on Iran will FAIL and be extremely costly for the USA. Note that in my other postings, I was only discussing Iran and the USA. I conveniently ignored the fact that Russia and /or China may actively HELP Iran repulse any USA attack.

      Right now the US MSM has succeeded in raising the public desire to attack Iran without clearly showing the consequences. I suspect that the congress critters could pass a declaration of war on Iran today and the public would be OK with it, for a few weeks. But, as the consequences hit home, the US public would probably be back-peddling very quickly. It would not take the public very long these days to turn on congress.

      I wonder if congress critters realize the dangerous box they are putting themselves in?

      I suspect this is going to get real ugly before it gets better.

  • The Letter: Top 5 Similarities of GOP and Iran Hard Liners
    • If I remember correctly, BOTH Russia and China have said there will be no additional sanctions and both appear to more than willing to drop all their existing sanctions on Iran if the USA causes the talks to fail.

      This is the problem for the USA with indirect third-party sanctions. If the third-parties decide to ignore the USA, the USA has almost no leverage to get compliance. In fact because so many USA companies are multinational, the third-parties have many ways to punish the USA.

      There are more than a few countries that would like to stop USA companies from doing business in their countries in favor of local companies.

      Yes it could ignite trade wars, but the USA is at a major disadvantage because it voluntarily gutted its manufacturing capacity and can not rebuild it overnight.

      For example, what options would Apple have if the Chinese government decided to slow the shipping of Apple products for several months for "quality inspections?" Slow delivery would quickly sink Apple's stock and possibly the whole USA stock market.

      The USA is just as vulnerable to economic blackmail as every other country and in some cases even more vulnerable.

      BTW - China is quietly working very hard to get enough other nations on earth to build an alternative to the USA/UK/EU SWIFT banking system so the USA will not be able to control global banking any longer and the US dollar would be just one of many trading currencies. Any USA attempts to further use the SWIFT system to retaliate would just lead to its demise that much quicker.

      From what I can tell, the US administration is well aware of what is at stake and how limited USA options are, but the congress critters have no ability to understand the nuances of global interaction.

      Once the brown stuff hits the fan and USA companies are beating up on the congress critters everyday, the congress critters may figure out just how badly they screwed up. In some ways I feel sorry for the companies because they are sure not getting what they paid for.

  • Bombing Iran: What would Happen if the Hawks got their Way?
    • I see this as more a post-colonial power restructuring than a religious war.

      Eventually the restructuring will be finished, THEN they will turn their anger on the countries that oppressed them for over 200 years (primarily UK, France USA and Israel - I think Turkey will escape major retribution).

      Basically the "religious war" will not last very long because the younger generations want to live good lives and are only marginally religious. The religious zealots will die off quickly and the "moderates" will settle things with negotiation. I can easily see a younger Saudi leadership and an Iranian leadership coming up with a power sharing agreement that benefits both societies in a competitive world with large economic blocks.

      The bif losers in the ME, just as in the USA and EU will be the religious conservatives that will be marginalized at best and severely persecuted at worst. In EVERY country on earth religion is declining as part of everyday life.

    • Like many, you discount Iran's engineering and manufacturing abilities far, far too much.

      Both Iran and China got Russian S-300 systems through "alternative channels," then promptly reverse engineered them and vastly improved them. Then China and Iran swapped improvements so now the systems each country manufactures is equal to or possible better than the Russian S-400 system (maybe even on par with the prototype S-500 systems).

      Look up the specs for the S-400 and then tell me that US aircraft will have a nice day. The S-400 can easily knock down both fighter bombers and high altitude strategic bombers like the B2 and B52. Remember that Russia designed the S-300/400/500 to specifically destroy ALL US aircraft.

      Note also that in addition to the S-400 long range systme, Iran has two more layers of defense. Medium range BUK system (the ones that are knocking aircraft from the sky in Ukraine) and many different short range systems. Iran is bristling with anti-aircraft capability, such that American pilots will not have a good chance of surviving.

      As for the Iranian subs, I have seen pictures - they are not as high tech as American subs but are very well designed for the area they operate in. They are more than a match for any US ships in the Persian gulf.

      Any US aircraft or ships that get too close to Iran will be in mortal danger from day one and Iran's defenses will only improve over time as Russia and China use it as a test bed for anti-American weapons.

    • While there are lots of people that would be willing to waste huge amounts of US tax dollars trying to defy physics, the laws of physics are pretty strict.

      Supercav torpedoes go over 200 MPH meaning in the narrow parts of the Persian gulf, it takes very little time to get from a sub to a target, giving counter measures very little reaction time. And remember that Iranian subs are designed specifically to function very well in the Persian gulf, especially the shallow sections.

      The DF21D drops nearly straight down on a carrier at mach 10 and the precision of anti-missile systems is not that good.

      But the bottom line that Iran has figured out is a redesign of the old Nazi sub "wolf pack" concept. defense system on ships are naturally limited as to how much they can defend against and all Iran has to do is overload the USN defense systems and the n+1 attack will be very successful. The Iranians call this a "swarm," and it is very effective. All Iran has to do is make lots of inexpensive devices and overload the USA. BTW - this is the same thing the USA did with "liberty ships" during WW2. only a portion of the ships had to get through the Nazis wolf packs to be successful.

    • Unfortunately, the very first USA or IDF jets that approach the Iranian border will be dealing with the Iran clone of the Russian S-400 and the Iran clone of the Russian BUK. Then there are all the short range anti-aircraft missiles that back up the S-400 and BUK.

      Iran has been extremely paranoid about a USA attack for over 35 years and has had the wealth to invest in world class defense weapons, so attacking Iran is a very losing proposition.

      One byproduct of Saddam's attack on Iran is Iran became determined to be self sufficient in production and deployment of the most deadly defense weapons the world has to offer. So, now Iran has a huge stockpile of very deadly defense weapons.

      Iran has also very carefully analyzed the US military (especially after the show the USA put on for them in Iraq and Afghanistan) and designed defense systems that hit the USA in all its weak points. For example, Iran realized that the USA had no way to defend against a swarm of incoming weapons. Sure, the USA might get one of the incoming munitions, but the second one will score. Also Iran figured out that thousands of very inexpensive, reasonably accurate missiles easily destroy a few hundred multi-million dollar aircraft (aircraft carriers only have about 60-80 operational aircraft).

      All in all, flying toward Iran should scare the brown stuff out of any USA pilot.

    • Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), the organizer of the letter warning Iran, openly advocates for "regime change" in Iran.

      He apparently is an Iraq war vet that has not yet learned the lessons of the Iraq war or any wars in the Mideast.

      HINT: any time the US tries to change the regimes in the Mideast, it ends up with a new government that hates the USA even more than the previous one. But only after the USA wastes huge amounts of American lives and USA wealth.

      Just like Cotton would fiercely resist any nation that invaded the USA, Iranians will do the same and contrary to popular belief, the USA does have very strict economic and manpower limits on its ability to fight wars. Eventually the USA runs out of cannon fodder, war toys and wealth and has to stop the war. Just like Russia was a "bridge too far" for the Nazis, Iran could prove to be just as bad for the USA (much to China's joy).

    • Any USA ships in the Persian gulf are sitting ducks.

      Iranian subs are equipped with supercavitating torpedoes that give any ship in the gulf less than 30 seconds to say their prayers.

      Then there are all the anti-ship missiles on portable launchers that line the coast of Iran. While the USAF might get a few of the anti-ship systems, most will be missed.

      Then there is the high probability that Iran has at least one DF-21D "carrier killer" with a range of over 800 miles. This means that USA carriers have to stay at least 800 miles from Iran and means that every USA attack aircraft has to be refueled before it reaches the Iranian coast and after any bombing run, all while hoping Iran does not fire a long range S-400 antiaircraft missile at it.

      Note the US navy has NO defense against supercavitating torpedoes, anti-ship missile swarms or the DF21D "carrier killer."

      So basically the US navy would be the fish in a barrel shoot.

    • From a practical point of view, if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, it will checkmate the USA and Israeli power. Israelis will know that any aggression against Iran will ensure the end of Israel. Since Israelis are no more suicidal than Iranians, it would force Israel to re-think their belligerence. In other words the Israelis egos would be deflated a lot. Israelis have a big fear about losing power.

      The basic reality about nukes that no seems capable of understanding is they are only good for two things . . . committing suicide or keeping the USA from attacking you.

      The thing I find amusing about the whole demonetization of Iran by Israel and the USA is Israel has much more deadly opponents that they ignore.

      - Pakistan already has nuclear weapons and the ability to build or purchase missiles to deliver them to Israel and AQ Khan is selling nukes to many countries, including Saudi Arabia.

      - Saudi Arabia already has very accurate, nuclear capable, solid fuel (instant launch) DF-21C MRBM. Sure some are pointed at Iran, but the rest are pointed at . . . Israel. I wonder where that nuke is that the Saudis paid for?

    • As I noted in other comments about Iran, the USA is not even capable of a sustain bombing of Iran, let alone putting "boot on the ground."

      A large number of any USA or Israeli aircraft sent to bomb Iran would not survive the encounter because Iran has very substantial anti-aircraft capability. Sure the USA could easily blow up a bunch of stuff (but not the nuclear facilities that are hardened against all but a nuclear bomb) and kill lots of Iranians, but the cost to the USA woudl be very high.

      A substantial number of the world's oil terminals are within easy distance of Iran and once they are destroyed, it literally takes years to replace them, during which very little energy flows to the world. The USA is NOT self sufficient with oil and Canada woudl get much better prices for their oil from the rest of the world than the USA.

      As for "boots on the ground" keep the numbers, 25 to 30 million in mind. This is how many military capable people has (basically 75 million minus the too young and too old). Even if each one only killed one US soldier while being killed, that would destroy the US military, but the reality is each Iranian woudl probably kill more than one American. As CJ Chivers has noted in his excellent book "The Gun" there are over 100 million AK-47 (and equivalent weapons) on this earth at this moment with thousands being made each and every day, including in Iran.

      Iran has more than enough "war toys" to make Americans deeply regret attacking Iran. When the dust settles, the USA will have lots of dead and mangled people, huge debts and possibly a destroyed economy. Iran will also have lots of dead and destroyed economy, but it will also have nuclear weapons.

  • Israel's Squatter Settlements on Palestinian Land Undermine its Security
    • Israelis in their greed for land have cut their own throats.

      It is now impossible to remove the settlers, which would have to be forcibly done by the IDF or a UN force, resulting in the deaths of some of the settlers. And the settlers will not live under Palestinian rule.

      As a result, the "two-state" solution is completely dead.

      As for the non-Jews living west of the Jordan river, they are NOT going anywhere. Israel does not have enough wealth to spare for Jewish citizens (most of whom are deeply in debt with no chance of ever getting out) let alone enough wealth to "pay of" any non-Jews so they would leave the area.

      Basically, Israelis have only TWO OPTIONS left (1) attempting mass genocide, which will trigger massive war that they will lose, or (2) absorb all the non-Jews and make them full citizens of a secular (non-Jewish and non-Muslim) state.

      The result of Israeli short-sighted policies is that they will end up with a "one-state" solution, which over time will consist of a small Muslim majority and a large minority Jewish population ( probably something like 50% Muslim, 48% Jewish and 2% other). Because of basic human behavior, the minority is going to have to surrender much of their power. Minorities can not rule over majorities for very long unless they are extremely benevolent and Israelis have amply demonstrated they are incapable of being benevolent.

      In the long term, this will NOT turn out very well for the European and Russian invaders.

  • 4 Things more Dangerous to Israel than Iran's civilian Nuclear Enrichment
    • There is a "slight" problem with the theory that having the Shia and Sunni fighting each other just keeps them from bothering Israel.

      One of these days, the people of the Mideast are going to solve their post-colonial power restructuring and when they do, Israel will be screwed. By that time, the Mideast will be unified against Israel, have lots of battle-hardened troops, very good military officers and lots of modern weapons with the knowledge on how to use them most effectively.

      Basically these power restructuring wars are a great training system to ensure that the Arabs resoundingly defeat Israel when the time comes.

      One of these days, the Saudis will have a leader that understands that fighting with Iran is stupid and that with careful negotiations, Iran and Saudi Arabia can share power in the Mideast like the countries in Europe mostly share power (and when Europeans disagree, they negotiate).

      As for those that believe the myth of IDF "superiority," they should consider how poorly the much better US military did in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and how poorly the extremely brutal Soviets did in Afghanistan. Israel does not have and will never have any "magic" weapons. All weapons are based on basic technology and as Friedman has correctly noted, the world is flat when it comes to technology. Every nation that wants technology can get it.

      Israelis are totally lacking in any long term perspective. I think it is because if they are forced to think long term, their short term actions become very bad and it causes them to feel bad.

  • 5 Surprising Ways Iran is better than Israel
    • No country has a "right to exist."

      It is generally agreed that individual humans have a "right to exist," but that does NOT extend to whatever groupings they choose to form at any particular point in time.

      Political boundaries (AKA countries) simply exist until they do not. Over the last 10000 years thousands of political entities have come and gone. The current 200 or so "countries" are just convenient lines drawn on maps, often by distant empires and are subject to change all the time.

      Israel has no more "right to exist" than any other country on earth. Does the USA have a "right to exist?" NO. Israel and the USA will simply exist until some day they are replaced by different lines drawn on the land.

      Note also that the rhetoric about "wipe them out" is NOT about killing all Jews on earth nor even just the Jews in Palestine but actually applies to removing invaders from their land.

      Many Arabs view Israel as just another European crusader invasion , but with Jews this time instead of Christians. This situation started with an invasion, not as a religious war.

      BTW - human behavior over the last 10000 years shows that you either learn to get along with your neighbors or they eventually remove the irritant. If Israel does not learn to get along with their neighbors, they will be removed. Nothing to do with religion, just basic bad neighbor removal.

    • If you actually look at the political "law" in Lebanon, you will discover that the French empire, like the British empire, heavily skewed the rules to allow the Christian minority more power than the Muslim majority. In a fair distribution of power, the Muslims would control Lebanon. Even under the current skewed power structure, Hezbollah is actually a significant part of the government.

      If the USA had not been extremely biased against majority Muslim rule, it would have supported Hezbollah instead of Iran providing the support.

      Although the USA talks a great deal about "majority rule," it has consistently supported "minority rule," often by brutal means, by the governments put in place by the previous empires. That is, the USA has just the old empires of the British, French, Spanish, etc. with a newer USA empire.

      The USA should not be picking "winners" but should let the locals sort out their power structures and then work with whoever ends up being the leader. The USA does not like the power structure of China, but due to the size and power of China the USA is forced to deal with the Chinese government. The USA should do the same for every other country on earth.

      The bottom line is Iran is meddling in Lebanon a whole lot less than the USA has meddled in both Lebanon and the rest of the world.

  • Massive win for Internet Liberty as FCC Mandates Equal Access for All
    • Some things to keep in mind . . .

      - Every nation on earth uses the same exact broadband technology and pays almost the same wholesale price for the technology, USA networks just make much more profit with it.

      - Several hundred feet of twisted pair and coax both support over 100 MBPS, so it is not necessary to put fibre in every home and business, just get the fibre close enough.

      - Fibre terminal ports cost less than US$50 each, one time cost. That is, after the first month of a typical USA network bill the port is paid for.

      - The coax and twisted pair that goes into over 95% of all homes and businesses has been paid for. In some case as much as 100 years ago.

      - The modem devices in the homes cost less than US$15 on the global wholesale market - they consist of a very inexpensive ARM computer running free open source software and a few inexpensive broadband protocol chips.

      - The extensive twisted pair and coax distribution networks built over the last 150 years have been replaced by fibre terminal distribution networks because the fibre networks lower maintenance costs so much, they pay for the "upgrade" within three years. The telcos and cable companies replaced their old distribution networks, not to "improve service" (which it did), but to vastly increase their profits by inflating the cost of replacement and ignoring the huge savings.

      - Over 90% of the fibre/coax/twisted-pair networks installed before 2010 in the US have been completely paid for, at least once but in most cases, two or three times over.

      - The actual cost to provide broadband service in the USA is less than US$5/month (including the CEO jet usage).

      - Most other countries have separated transport from content providing and require the transport networks to lease the network segments at wholesale prices with a low guaranteed profit to any content provider. This competition for the transport service has yielded very low cost and high speed broadband. In the USA, this woudl mean Comcast and ATT could either provide transport to all vendors or provide content using other's transport network but could NOT do both. Shareholders do not like transport because the profit potential is fixed at about 5% (but is guaranteed).

      The bottom line is the USA political process and ideology is causing Americans to pay far, far too much for really , really bad service. This is another case where "socialism" really is better than the mess Americans have.

  • Why Netanyahu's Congress Speech will Fail: Iran Can't be Stopped, only Monitored
    • B2 bombers are not as "stealthy" as everyone assumes. In fact the Russians, Chinese and very probably the Iranians can "see" them fairly well. Then there is the problem that the B2 non-nuclear bomb load is not all that large. I think the B52 is the only bomber with the lift capacity for a MOAB, which is the only thing that might do a little damage to the Iranian nuclear sites (but not destroy them).

      Israel does not have any non-nuclear Jericho missiles, so they would be triggering their own annihilation.

      The bottom line neither the USA nor Israel has the non-nuclear firepower to do anything more than make Iranians very angry and if either the USA or Israel uses nukes, all bets are off and most of us will have the fun choice of:

      - dying of radiation poisoning (nuclear blast debris reaches the US west coast about 5 - 7 days after the blast in Iran making all the food grown in the US west and quickly the Midwest inedible).

      - dying of starvation (what will you eat?)

      - dying by freezing in nuclear winter.

      All "fun" choices.

    • It is not that technically hard to build and operate an alternative to the SWIFT network (all financial transactions these days are electronic) and replace the US Dollar with a basket of currencies. Once that happens, the US loses most of their economic power and becomes just another country.

      China wants to decrease the ability of the USA to control the world economy and the USA is currently giving China all the ammunition it needs to make that happen.

      Note that China does NOT want to take over the world. They tried that in the past and are all too aware of the massive downsides to that. China just wants a playing field that is slightly tipped in their favor.

      One of the benefits of 5000 years of history is China has tried and failed at a lot of things and has somewhat learned from their past.

      I think, over time, there will be "natural" trading blocs

      - Europe (although Germany appears to be trying to tear that apart)

      - USA and Canada

      - Mexico and Latin America - they all have the same bad cultural problems that they either are incapable or unwilling to deal with.

      - Africa - many of the same post colonial cultural problems of Latin America.

      - China, Asia & Australia - The Aussies have finally figured out they are an Asian country not a European country.

      - The Mideast except Israel - They only have two resources - oil and human brains and need to develop the humans with the oil wealth.

      - Israel - In reality, Israel provides very little the world can't get someplace else for lower cost and usually higher quality. Israel is not self sufficient in food and energy.

      Of all the blocs, Asia, Europe and the USA will be roughly equal and if the Americans can control their egos, all the blocs can do well.

      IF (big IF) the Israelis were smart, they would give up lots of land, water, cash for compensation and apologies to the Arabs and start to get along with their neighbors. There is a very good economic fit between the intellectually rich Israel and Iran, the low cost workers of Jordan, Egypt and most of Saudi Arabia and the investment wealth of the Saudis and Iranians. If the Israelis could get over their egos and work with the Arabs and Persians, they could form a vary viable economic bloc. But emotionally, the Israelis can't do that, so they will be the (definitely ) odd country out.

    • @rtbl - I hope the USA will not totally collapse, but agree with Lincoln that if it does, it will be due to internal decay, not external aggression.

      The biggest problem Americans have is a hugely overinflated ego, which is not sustainable. The next path of the USA will be determined by what Americans do when their egos get deflated. Will they strike out in fury (something many empires have initially done) or will they gracefully accept that they are not kings of the world? If Americans can manage the deflation, the USA will do well.

      In some ways human emotions are tied very directly to how nations rise and fall. The many failings of humans over the last 10000 years are very well documented, yet we humans still make all the same ridiculous mistakes. BTW - I find it ironic that some of the best documentation of human failings due to emotions are found in "religious" texts that humans pretend to revere, yet mostly ignore.

      As for Israel, the Israelis appear to be both extremely egotistical and very delusional, a very bad combination. Israel has very limited resources and will eventually lose the blank check from the USA. When Israel no longer has a sugar daddy, its debt will increase overnight impoverishing the nation. As for Israel being punished, there are many examples throughout history where nations have acted emotionally instead of rationally (the end of WW1 is a fine example which we tried to avoid at the end of WW2).

      I do not think we can separate human emotion, egos and basic behavior from the flow of history. Humans mostly act irrationally.

    • While the USA might replace some of the aircraft, the USA itself does not have all that many "spare" aircraft due to the extremely high cost of modern aircraft. Note also there is a limit to how much money Americans will spend on non-Americans and once Israel hits that emotional point, the money machine will stop overnight. This is the danger that Israelis face - sudden poverty. Whiel right now Americans have been willing to fund the "wild child," there will be a point whre Americnas stop - count on it. Remember that over the last 200+ years, the USA has screwed over each and every "strategic partner" they have ever had and Israel will eventually suffer the same fact, only more so.

      For example, right now the republican governors are cutting every service the state provide including education to cut taxes for the wealthy. But society needs those services and eventually those republican governors are going to be severely punished. Israel has been bleeding USA wealth for decades and one of these days, they will be punished. I don't know how quickly that will happen, but it will happen not too long from now.

      The lesson all grifters learn very quickly is don't bleed the mark too quickly. Israelis have never learned that lesson.

    • Yes, the congress critters are bought and paid for, BUT . . . they still need to get elected and over time, as the US demographics shift due to conservatives and Israeli supporters dying off (2000/week currently), Israel will lose support. I suspect that like many other issues, there will be a sharp break point where the shift will appear to happen overnight and will surprise and shock Israelis. Once the break point is reached, there will be no going back. Bibi is just ensuring that break point occurs sooner than later.

    • So what happens if Bibi succeeds in screwing up the negotiations?

      - Iran will go back to enriching uranium and possibly get a nuclear weapon (Since the Saudis have purchased at least one from AQ Khan, Israel has hundreds, and the USA has thousands, Iran may as well have at least one)

      - The USA and Israel will probably not attack Iran because both the US military and IDF are extremely worried just how bad their losses would be because they KNOW there is no possibility of "victory," even if the politicians can't seem to understand that. From what I have read, there have been at least three game simulations of war with Iran and in all three, the USA and Israel suffered massive defeat. The generals are well aware of the tremendous downsides to war with Iran. Note that Obama also appears to understand that war with Iran will be terrible, which is why he is trying to get the best deal he can before the rest of the world get tired of the war rhetoric form the USA and Israel.

      - The USA direct sanctions imposed over 35 years ago will continue and they will continue to be totally worthless because of the ancient tradition of smuggling and money laundering. Since the USA has no direct trade with Iran, there are no further direct sanctions possible.

      - Most of the third-party sanctions will simply disappear. Third-party sanctions only work when third-parties are willing to do what the US "requests." Once the third-parties decide to tell the USA to go "jump in a lake." there is NOTHING the USA congress critters can do. The congress critter can threaten the third-parties, but the third-parties can counter threaten USA companies with onerous taxes and even outright business prohibitions in favor of local companies. Many countries would welcome a convenient excuse to shut down USA company operations in their countries. If for example Apple can't legally sell their products in a country, the local population can gain wealth by buying Apple products on the global black market and smuggling them into the country. In the process, Apple gets very little profit and the locals get a lot. Then there are the trademark knock-offs and patent infringements that the "punished" country will ignore to the detriment of the USA companies. It probably will not take very long for the USA companies to start beating up the congress critters.

      - The current SWIFT banking network restriction will become meaningless very quickly. There is a lot of profit in money laundering (think about how rich Switzerland got doing this), so it will not take long for the SWIFT restrictions to be negated. Then there is the BIG problem that China wants to degrade the use of the USA dollar as the global transaction currency and the current SWIFT restrictions give China a HUGE argument in favor of a new transaction currency. To keep the USA dollar as the world transaction currency, the USA will have to remove the banking restrictions to minimize the influence of China.

      The bottom lines are

      - The USA and/or Israel can not attack Iran

      - If there is no agreement , the USA and Israel are dead in the water because the rest of the world will tell them to shut up and go away.

      As the USA has learned over the last 50 year with Cuba, when the rest of the world decides to ignore the USA, the USA is powerless.

      The congress critters are NOT going to like the result of screwing with the POTUS because they will lose the battle.

      Iran has won - the only thing left is to negotiate the terms of agreement.

    • So air attack is a loser. What about a land attack?

      That is even more of a loser. Per the US Army Counter insurgency manual

      link to fas.org

      most invasion and hold operations require a minimum of 1 US soldier for every 20 people that the USA wants to "influence." If the local population is armed and dangerous, that ratio changes to 1:10. I suspect that the US military would find that Iranians would be armed, dangerous and extremely angry.

      If we assume that only 50% of the Iranian population (over 75 million) is military capable (old enough but not too old, etc.) and crunch the numbers, that means it woudl take a MINIMUM of 1.5 MILLION US soldiers to take and hold Iran for a year and the casualty rate would be very high. Of course, the cost of the adventure woudl be in the trillions of dollars.

      Per CJ Chiver, there are over 100 million AK-47 (or equivalent) weapons available today with thousands more being made each and every day, so Iranians would have plenty of weapons and ammo to make the short lives of the American invaders very terrible.

      So the USA can not attack by air, attack by sea or attack by land without paying an extremely high cost. What can the USA do?

      Quite simply - reach a reasonable agreement with Iran.

      It appears that Bibi is extremely frustrated that he is an impotent leader of a small powerless nation and is hoping that he can incite some stupid person to pick the fight he can't. The USA woudl do well to tell Bibi to just shut up and go sit in the corner like the bad boy he is.

    • There is a very good reason Israel has not attacked Iran - Israel will FAIL miserably.

      Iran is currently producing and deploying a clone of the Russian S-400 long range anti-aircraft system. Iran and China got tired of Russian restrictions on S-300 purchases, so they revere-engineered the system and vastly improved it. The Iranian and Chinese versions are now equivalent to the S-400 and very deadly, even for so-called "stealth" aircraft and cruise missiles.

      Iran is currently producing and deploying their own version of the Russian BUK short range anti-aircraft system (the one that is knocking aircraft out of the sky in Ukraine).

      In addition to the S-400 and Buk, Iran has numerous other anti-aircraft system which make the skies over Iran very deadly up to very high altitude for any aircraft that enter Iranian air space. One estimate I have seen is that Israel would lose over half the aircraft that attacked Iran. Given the size of Israel's aircraft fleet, that is a significant number. Replacing the lost aircraft would take Israel many years and probably bankrupt the country.

      Then there is the practical munitions load problem. Fighter-bombers have only a small number of munitions hard points (often only two or three) and those hard points have very stringent load capacity limits (typically several hundred pounds). This means that Israel has no capacity to do any damage to Iran's hardened nuclear production sites. Yes, Israel could bomb Iranian cities and kill lots of people (if they made it that far), but that woudl only make Iranians mad with no tangible result.

      Note that the USA aircraft woudl not do much better. Sure the USA could use B-52 aircraft for heavy lift and high altitude capacity, BUT . . . B-52 are very vulnerable to both the S-400 and BUK systems. The USA has only a small number of active B-52 and the loss of one or two would be extremely expensive. Recently the USA had to replace a destroyed B-52 from its reserve fleet - It took almost two years and many millions of dollars to do it.

      The bottom line that both the USA military and the IDF know is that it is a fools errand to attack Iran. Iran has spent the last 35 years building a very deadly defense system.

      Note that I left out the ship defense systems Iran has such as supercavitating torpedoes that give any ship in the Persian gulf that is targeted about 15 seconds to say their prayers, plus all the anti-ship missiles that are all along the seashores. PLUS there is a very high probability that Iran has at least one DF-21D anti-carrier missile with over 800 miles of range, meaning US carriers need to stay over 800 miles from Iran to avoid being sunk. The USA has no defense against the DF-21D.

      Attacking Iran is very, very costly and neither the USA nor Israel can afford the cost.

  • Modern Silk Roads and China's Brave New World
    • China is building for the future.

      - China is building a nation-wide high-speed (200+ mph) passenger rail system from scratch.

      - As the passenger rail system is de-loaded from the freight rail system, the freight rail system is being upgraded to allow 100 MPH freight trains. And China is subsidizing the shipping cost so goods produced in the interior of the country have the same shipping costs as goods produced on the coasts when the goods are shipped by sea. As the Silk Road to the Mid East and Europe improves, the shipping time from the interior of China will be days shorter than the shipping times from the coast, giving the interior of China an economic boost.

      - Only the high altitude Tibet line and some extremely rural lines will continue to be shared by the passenger and freight rail systems (The Tibet line can not physically be expanded to allow separate passenger and freight - the single track is an engineering marvel).

      - Right now Russia and China use different rail gauge. China uses the global standard gauge of 1435 mm but Russia uses their own gauge of 1520 mm. This causes massive delays at the borders because the undercarriages of each rail car must be changed. Russia will need to rebuild much of their rail system to allow free travel of international shipments. Russia needs to do this anyway but has no resources to do it.

      - China is electrifying as much of their passenger and freight rail systems as they can to minimize both the pollution and costs of using diesel to power the rail systems.

      - China wants to have the most efficient passenger and freight rail systems on earth by 2030. Japan and Europe will not be far behind with eh USA near the bottom. The only real progress in the USA is BNSF and Union Pacific are investing heavily on double tracking the mainlines from SF to Chicago (the old transcontinental line) and the LA to Chicago (the old Santa Fe line). Double trackign allows passenger and freight trains to have a few as 15 minutes between trains since all the trains are traveling in the same direction. This leads to tremendous additional capacity. Other than that, the US systems are still shared passenger and freight with diesel power - A long way from where the USA needs to be.

  • Netanyahu urges Europe's Jews to move to Israel
    • It is very, very well documented that humans are terrible at analyzing abstract risk, but given the historical record for the last 100 years, why would any Jewish person opt to move to a known hot war zone called Israel and leave the relatively much safer and economically viable Europe. Or if Europe is too "risky" why not opt for the USA or Asia which are know to be very safe for Jewish people? Also there is the "slight" fact that thousands of younger Israelis are rushing to leave Israel for much better lives in . . . wait for it . . . Europe (also the USA and Asia).

      Based on an admittedly small sample of people I know that have moved after retiring, it takes at least three to five years to integrate into a new community and a fair number regret ever moving.

      That being said, a number of people will move to Israel and some may actually stay.

  • When you've Lost Bernie Sanders: How Netanyahu destroyed the Israel Lobby
    • "Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate" - Thomas Jones (1892 - 1969)

      Once Israel accumulates enough enemies and loses enough "friends" it is gone. Israel is tiny and does not have enough resources (cannon fodder, war toys and wealth) to avoid losing a massive war.

      In reality, the world is awash in war toys equal to or better than anything Israel has or will ever have and Israeli military leadership is no better than any other on earth.

      Note also that EVERY military that has ever existed on this earth has eventually suffered massive humiliating defeat and the same will happen to Israel.

      The myth of the "magical" Israeli warrior is just a myth with no basis in fact.

      Israel can and will be defeated if it does not drastically change its behavior - count on it.

      BTW - If Israel ever uses any of its nukes it is guaranteed to disappear - that is, it will be committing suicide, and suicide is the definition of giving up in defeat.

    • Disenfranchising a young, non-white majority only works for a short time, then it backfires big time as many "leaders" throughout history have learned too late to save themselves.

      In the short term the republicans can indeed suppress the majority, but in the long term, they will not only lose power but suffer dire consequences for their short term behavior.

      This the BIG problem with short-term thinking - the rewards are temporary and the damages are severe and long lasting. In the long term, the majority always wins.

    • Demographics, demographics, and more demographics.

      Like many people, Bibi appears to be thinking the future will be just like the past, but it will not. As a result of invalid thinking, Bibi is alienating the exact people Israel will need in the near to long term future.

      Right now, over 60% of the US population is under 45 (per us census data) and most of those tend to skew democratic, whereas the population over 50 is decreasing by the day due to age related deaths. The older population tends to skew toward republicans.

      Then there is the race situation where republicans tend to be white and the rest of the varied population tends to be democratic. The white population is decreasing as a percentage of the population.

      So Bibi is playing a very bad short-term game that will make Israel's future very dim. Especially since many of the tricks that worked in the past no longer work:

      - those under 45 just do not care about the Holocaust or WW2. It is meaningless ancient history to them and not even a little part of their lives. Sure the people in Israel are soaked in the mythology every day, but not those outside Israel. Invoking the Holocaust or Jewish persecution outside Israel gets a "I don't care" response.

      - Except in certain areas with a large Jewish population, it no longer hurts to question Israel and in fact may be a plus in many areas, especially when coupled with strong American populism talk.

      The bottom line is Israel no longer has a hold on the American population. The "feel good" "no consequences" questions on the polls already show a steady decline in support for Israel. If the polling firms every asked real questions about Israel and its consequences for Americans, the "real" support for Israel would scare the heck out of Israelis (it would be that low).

      Although the Israeli PR machine is slow on the uptake, I suspect that American opinion will sharply and swiftly shift over the next few years, leading to much less support for Israel.

  • Iran's Khamenei throws support to a Practical Nuclear Deal with West
    • Iran should worry more about Saudi Arabia than Pakistan.

      It has been confirmed that Saudi Arabia purchased and deployed DF-21C MRBM from China (1000 mile range) These are designed to carry a fairly large warhead - either conventional or nuclear.

      Saudi Arabia has also reportedly purchased at least one nuclear weapon from AQ Khan. No one seems to know where that weapons is, so it is possible it could already be mounted on a DF-21C.

      Note also that Pakistan is more militaristic than religiously weird, so they care more about what India is doing than disagreeing with Shia.

      On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has some of the weirdest religious nuts on earth.

    • I think the Iranians have concluded that if the USA is unwilling to reach a reasonable compromise, the sanctions and banking manipulations will just disappear anyway because the USA will be seen as the "bad guy."

      The Iranians may be reading the international mood very well. Many countries are very upset with the US being an economic bully. Third-party sanctions and banking restrictions ONLY work when the third-parties are willing to go along with the restrictions. If other countries decide to not cooperate, there is absolutely NOTHING the USA congress critters can do. Any attempts to punish countries that trade with Iran will simply lead to massive punishment on USA companies. Many countries would love to restrict USA companies in favor of their own local companies and any further third-party actions by the congress critters would give those countries a handy excuse to whack USA companies.

      I can easily see a large number of USA transnational companies yelling and screaming at the congress critters and forcing them to back down. Then there is the historical fact that smuggling and money laundering have existed for thousands of years and the USA has no way to stop it.

      As for war against Iran, given the reluctance of the congress critters to authorize war against Syria or ISIL, war against Iran would be difficult if not impossible, especially given the mood in the USA.

      I think, in the end, Obama will get the best deal with Iran he can get and tell the congress critter and Israelis to shut up and sit down.

  • The Lone-Wolf Terror Trap: Why the Cure Will Be Worse Than the Disease
    • No matter how repressive an organization becomes, it can NOT protect its members from random acts of violence.

      During WW2, the Nazi were extremely brutal, BUT they were still not able to prevent the resistance fighters from randomly killing Nazi soldiers.

      "lone wolf" killers can NOT be "prevented," only dealt with after the fact. Yes, that means that humans will die, but every day of the year thousands of humans die because ALL humans eventually die. Death is just the cost of living.

      This is the deep fallacy of "security." It is 100% IMPOSSIBLE for any human to be "secure" because death lurks around every corner. This is why it is a huge waste of energy to worry about how death may come. All humans can do is be reasonably cautious, and then go on with life, enjoying every moment they get.

      As for me, I don't worry about "terrorists," but I get really nervous walking across the Walmart parking lot because of how crazy most of the drivers appear to be with their careless driving.

  • GOP's Scott Walker: Pitches possible Syria War to make us Like Him
    • Either I am misreading the American public or Walker and the other war chicken hawks in the republican party are misreading the American public and I think I may be more correct than the clown car guys.

      I just can not see the American public being at all happy with any more war draining the country of wealth and blood.

      Then there is the whole manpower (AKA cannon fodder) problem. Due to sequester and the "end" of the Iraq and Afghan wars, the number of humans in the US military has decreased. So where are we going to get the cannon fodder unless we start a draft. Even if we use mostly contractors (mercenaries) and we pay them a lot, the numbers available are actually quite small both because of the cost and the number that are willing to take the huge, well known risk. Not only were a lot of US military killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but so were a lot of "contractors."

      On top of the cannon fodder problem there is the whole "we can't want it more than the locals" problem. If the locals are not willing to focus on defeating ISIL, then there is nothing the USA can add.

      I have spent more time in combat zones than I have ever wanted to, but I suspect that Walker has never been to war and has no concept about what real war is like. I suspect that people that had to keep themselves alive for an extended period of time in a war zone are much less willing to start a war.

  • War Is the New Normal: Seven Deadly Reasons Why America's Wars Persist
    • Every time Lindsey Graham opens his mouth, everyone in the room should remind him that he is a member of congress and one of the privileges that come with that job is the ability to write and put before congress a declaration of war to be voted on by both houses of congress and signed (or vetoed) by the president.

      Instead of spewing nonsense, he should just write the bill and find the votes.

      I can even help him with a basic outline of the bill:

      - Restart conscription with NO EXCEPTIONS. That is, EVERY human (both male and female) in the USA between 19 and 25 becomes cannon fodder. No exceptions for college, marriage, religion or anything other than already being dead.

      - Raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for the cannon fodder, the war toys and the long term care of the cannon fodder. A tax of 80% on all income over $1 million a year should be enough. If not, then just keep raising the taxes until the war is paid for without impacting existing programs that actually help Americans. All war toy makers should also be taxed at 100% of more than 3% profit.

      - Declare war - after the cannon fodder are rounded up and the costs are covered then lets get ready to rumble!

      Of course there is the "slight" problem that if Lindsey Graham did propose a war bill, he would get laughed out of congress, since the other congress critters want to keep their very lucrative jobs.

    • Even after 10000 years of extensive documentation, it is a little weird that humans still haven't figured out that wars are ALWAYS a tremendous WASTE of resources. Every war requires three things:

      - Cannon fodder - Even today, lots and lots of cannon fodder is required. That is, lots of humans to "die for the cause" (what every that nebulous thing is).

      - War toys - Lots of very expensive war toys are needed to "project power." During the course of a war, most of these war toys are destroyed. That is, goods are produced that serve no societal purpose.

      - Wealth - the cannon fodder and war toys must be paid for, as well as all the infrastructure that gets destroyed. Most war end up bankrupting the waring parties.

      The bottom line is war just depletes social resources for no real gain other than a few egos get inflated for a short period of time.

      Humans are just weird and stupid.

  • GOP Pres. Candidates warn Iran Nukes can hit NYC (despite No Nukes, ICBMs)
    • While the Israeli Jericho-3 has a shorter range than other ICBMs and it may not be able to reach the USA, Israel still has the nukes on the subs. I was being a little facetious, but it does appear that Israelis may still have anger issues with Europe and Russia.

    • Obama has been extremely negligent by not pushing back HARD against these lies.

      Only the USA, Russia, China, India and Israel have land-based ICBMs (and all have nuclear weapons - I wonder what countries Israel wants to nuke so badly that they developed ICBM capability - USA and Europe maybe?). No other country has this capability and Iran certainly does not have the capability.

      As for submarine launched ballistic missiles, again there are the usual suspects - the USA, Russia, China and India along with the UK and France. And again, Iran is NOT on the list. Note that Israel's subs are equipped with nuclear tipped cruise missiles but their range is less than 500 KM. Israel currently has five active subs.

      So the REALITY is, while NYC or LAX could be nuked by Israel, Russia, China. India, the UK or France, they can NOT be nuked with Iran's nonexistent bombs that have no way to get to NYC or LAX. Therefore, the US public needs to be told this repeatedly.

      Obama needs to forcefully rebut the nonsense from the chicken war hawks. Why is Obama so afraid to publicly bash these idiots? Especially when most Americans have zero desire for any more war, so Obama would be singing to the choir.

  • With US Tanks, are Iraq's Shiite Militias getting stronger than the Army?
    • All of which begs some questions:

      - Why is the Iraqi military so short of war toys and why doesn't the leadership just match the pay and benefits of the non-military? Labor is the ultimate "free market" and when employers want the best results, they have to at least match the competitive pay and benefits. Why would this be so hard to do?

      - What is wrong with the military leadership such that many in the army are cowards, yet the militias don't have as big a problem?

      - If the militias can be successful without US training, why does the US need to "train" the Iraqi military any more? And given how poorly run the Iraqi military is, exactly what has the US military been teaching the Iraqi military? Certainly not how to stand and fight against a much smaller and weaker force.

      This also begs the question of why hasn't the USA told Turkey to go pound sand and massively armed the Kurds? As Professor Cole has pointed out, Kurdistan is defacto a separate country that Turkey, Syria and Iraq can do nothing about. I think it is long past time for the US to follow our VPs lead and start recognizing the new borders in the ME.

      If the Iraqi military will not stand and fight, then we should just walk away like they have from all the fights up until now.

      As has been pointed out since Vietnam, the US can NOT achieve anything if the locals don't want it enough to fight for it.

      This is why the fight against ISIL is not going well in Syria, the locals just do not care enough and the few that do care are fighting each other and the Syrian government rather than ISIL.

  • Netanyahu & Boehner: How Israel went from being a Democratic to a Republican Project
    • Given the current and probable long term political make up of Israel and the probable long term make up of the USA, Israelis in for a very, very bad future.

      Currently the USA has a deep divide between the rural people who have lots of land, but a small part of the population and the suburban/urban people that have only a small part of the land, but over 75% of the population.

      The rural people still believe the myth about "frontier self reliance" (they are not actually "self reliant and need big government just like everyone else). Whereas the non-rural need all the services that governments can provide (along with taxes to provide those services).

      The rural are predominantly white and profess to be "christian" (although few actually practice the principles of Jesus Christ). The non-rural are a mixture of races and religions.

      Right now the rural whites have been able to maintain more power than they deserve, but as California has demonstrated, eventually the large population centers will simply yank power away from the rural areas and relegate them to powerlessness (This is why the rural parts of California want to form their own state, even though ti would be bankrupt the day it started).

      That is, over time the republicans will become a fragmented, almost powerless political party in the USA, especially as most of their core ideas are proven in the real world to be down right crazy (Kansas is proving that as I write).

      Basically demographics are against the republicans:

      - the boomers are dying off at a rate of about 2000/week and over the next 20 years most will no longer be voting (hard to do when they are dead).

      - Most of the voters and potential voters under 40 do NOT care about social issues like gay marriage, abortion, etc.

      - Younger voters want the services that government provides. They grew up with those services after WW2 and expect them to continue. the Republican idea of eliminating services does not sit well with the younger voters.

      - All religious groups are rapidly declining (Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, etc), with the steepest decline in conservative religions (Catholic, Evangelicals and Mormons - The LDS church shows declines in the USA and slight increases outside the USA).

      - While Racism is still deeply ingrained in some parts of the USA, for the most part it is declining overall, especially with the white population decreasing as percentage of the USA population.

      - The middle class is decreasing, especially the white middle class. As a result, as Romney correctly pointed out, almost half the people in the USA will no longer respond to the republican mantra of low taxes for the rich, especially since 75% of the population is non-rural and need the services government provides.

      The bottom line is the old republican constituency of white, racist, rich, angry white MEN is rapidly decreasing in size, meaning that over time, no matter how they try to rig the books, the republicans will lose power, meaning that Israel has tied their future to a losing team and alienated the winners.

      Bibi has broken the old Israeli model of buying every USA politician, no matter where they were on the political spectrum and has misread the American population (republicans have a long history of being delusional).

      If Israelis really want a long term relationship with the USA, instead of insulting Obama, they should be trying to make nice with Obama and every other politician they can while ignoring the deep divide in the USA. It is foolish to get sucked into the partisan politics of the USA.

  • New Saudi King to Obama: Lower-price Oil Policy won't Change
    • While low prices do effect Russia and and Iran, they also severely effect Canada and USA production.

      The actual cost to pull oil from the ground in Iran is about the same as in Saudi Arabia, so they have about the same profit margin.(both are still profitable at $50/bbl - they just have less excess cash)

      The Saudis spend most of their money on the "high life" for the thousands of princes and to buy off the oppressed Shia and non-princes.

      Iran spends most of their money on designing and building defensive weapons because of their extreme paranoia since 1979 about the US attacking them.

      The cost of production in Russia is higher than Saudi Arabia, but not that much higher. If I remember correctly Russia can still make a profit at $50/bbl, but not as much as they need to fund their otherwise non-productive economy. Putin and his cronies have failed to invest the surplus cash over the years in new business ventures in Russia. Like the Saudis, a good portion of the cash went to the high life for the ruling class in Russia.

      The big losers in a prolonged low price are the producers in USA and Canad which have very, very high production costs and can not continue to develop new production at $50/bbl.

      BTW - As Russia, China and most of the world walk away from the sanctions on Iran, Iran will be in increasingly better shape even at $50/bbl. The sanctions will not continue no matter what congress does, so Saudi Arabia is not really doing itself any favors.

    • Even the "religious" enjoy the good life of booze, women and music.

      The brutal reality is exactly zero humans are as "religious" as they pretend to be and Saudi princes are no different. Why cause a physical confrontation with the USA or Israel which would severely disrupt their good life, when they can spew some meaningless rhetoric and continue to enjoy their toys and mistresses..

      All humans are basically selfish and self-centered and Saudis are just more so because they have the wealth to be that way.

      Power and wealth does really corrupt all humans.

  • Obama Win: Dem Senators Flip-Flop, Delay Iran Sanctions Bill
    • From a practical point of view, the congress critters have already shot their entire wad and further attempts at sanctions or manipulating the global banking system will not only FAIL miserably but could make it very hard for US companies to operate on a global basis.

      From this point on, the only thing the congress critters can do that would have any meaning would be to declare war on Iran. Given the extreme reluctance congress critters have with having a public vote to authorize war on ISIL, it is unlikely they would ever vote to go to war with Iran, especially when the US military and US intelligence services are adamantly against it.

      The political cost of declaring war on Iran would devastate the republican party in 2016. Only Rand Paul might have a chance if he guaranteed to stop the war overnight (because by 2016 the war would be going very,very badly for the USA).

      Maybe the US military explained to Mendez that Iran has huge military strength. For example:

      - Total Population: 79,853,900
      - Available Manpower: 46,247,556 (1)
      - Fit for Service: 39,566,497
      - Reaching Military Age Annually: 1,392,483]
      - Active Frontline Personnel: 545,000 (2)
      - Active Reserve Personnel: 1,800,000 (2)

      (1) More than enough people to kill every American that invades Iran - This is ~15% of the US population - Will the US want to dedicate 15% of its population to war with Iran?

      (2) Bigger than US military unless the US re-starts conscription

      - Iran has put in place an extensive antiaircraft network consisting of multiple layers of ;

      - S-400 equivalent long range missiles (very deadly)
      - BUK equivalent medium range missiles (very deadly)
      - ManPad short range missiles

      Iran has enough to target each incoming aircraft with multiple missiles, making the lives of most invading pilots very short.

      Iran also very probably has DF21D "carrier killer" missiles, so the US fleet has to stay at least 800 miles from Iran and can not get anywhere near the Persian Gulf. Then there are the supercavitating torpedoes that Iranian subs carry that give any ship in the Persian Gulf less than 30 seconds to realize they are about to get blown up.

      Given that the US will NOT be able to get any "partners" to help fight the war, the US will be totally broke within a few months.

      Maybe the real world finally got through the massive delusion Mendez appears to have.

  • Extremist Lieberman: Unified Palestinian-Israeli Party a threat to Israel as 'Jewish State'
    • The harsh reality is, if Israelis really want an all Jewish state, they are going to have to give up lots of land, water and cash to make it happen. Israel can not try to displace any more non-Jewish without either causing a massive war they will lose (and lose everything in the process) or become a large minority in a secular state.

      The situation in the area west of the Jordan river is actually fairly simple:

      - the land area is bounded - that is, it can not get any larger because Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt will not let it expand. While Israel might have been able to win militarily in the past, it can not longer do that. The countries around Israel are just as well equipped and have as many capable military leaders as Israel. Israel has no magic weapons (nukes don't count, because if Israel used their nukes, they would be committing suicide).

      - With a situation where two distinct groups want the same bounded land, there are ONLY THREE long term solutions.

      - DIVIDE the land such that both groups are only moderately unhappy. For this to happen today, Israel would need to have a civil war to forcibly remove over 500,000 Israelis from land that would need to go to the Arabs. Given the current leadership in Israel, this is almost impossible.

      - SHARE the land such that every human in the bounded space is equal. This is very doable, BUT . . . it would mean that there would be no "Jewish State." The state would be secular with no religious basis. All the religions would need to be relegated to non-political status.

      - Ethnic cleansing where one group drives the other group out of the bounded space. This is what the Israeli have been trying for almost 100 years, but they have now reached a brick wall. They can not longer quietly get away with it and any further attempts to ethically cleanse the area will simply lead to massive war, which the Israelis cannot win.

      The bottom line is the Israeli have simply hit the end of their ability to use force to achieve their goal because the Palestinians have nothing left to lose.

      The Israelis are in a terrible box of their own making and there are no easy nor pleasant solution to their self-created problem. BUT .... if they don't find an acceptable way to resolve it fairly quickly, the world is going to impose a solution on Israel that they will definitely will not like and the US will NOT be able to protect Israel.

      I get so frustrated with the blind arrogant hubris of Israelis. They appear to believe their own myths so strongly that they are totally blind to the real world and the lessons of history (including their own religious documents that REPEATEDLY warn about the sin of pride).

  • Obama, blindsided by Boehner, Snubs Netanyahu
    • The people of Israel are not going to like how this plays out over time. Bibi is vastly miss-reading the US population. Already less conservative republicans are coming to realize that the extremely conservative stuff they tried in the past will no longer work because they now have to actually deliver good government rather than rhetoric. The general population of the US is NOT as conservative as congress and as the Boomers die off and the population centers assert their control, the population will move to the left. All of the sub-groups that republicans rely on for power, including the racists, are declining.

      - The populations in the rural Midwest and south are decreasing due to lack of economic opportunity (it takes very few humans to make all the food the US needs).

      - the religious conservatives are decreasing because all religions are decreasing rapidly.

      - the boomers are dying off to be replaced by generally liberal younger generations.

      - The ratio of white voters to the entire population is decreasing.

      Then there is the reality that Americans are very anti-war right now and no matter how much Bibi tries to whip up more anti-Muslim racism, it will not over-ride the majority that do not want war.

      In the long term, this stunt will probably sour a lot of Americans on Israel and will lead to further problems and isolation for Israel.

      Bibi does NOT appear to understand (nor do many Israelis) that Congress has very little power when it comes to international issues. The congress critters can huff, puff and grandstand, but can actually do very little other than declare war and vote yes or no on treaties or ambassadors. And even when they reject treaties or ambassadors, the administration can continue to function, albeit at a lower level of functionality because of the many powers they have under the Constitution.

      It is unfortunate that no one in Israel appears to understand just how much Bibi is endangering the future of Israel - The HARSH REALITY that no one seems to understand is eventually the US is going to throw Israel under the bus and stunts like this just hasten that day. Over the last 230+ years, the US has thrown EVERY partner it has ever had under the bus when it was in the best interest of the American public and Israel will not be the exception. Bibi is betting Israel's future on a non-existent "love of Israel" in the US.

  • Poll: Americans support Obama on Negotiating with Iran
    • What Obama fails to mention is any interference by congress critters will cause most of the existing sanctions to disappear and the further sanctions the congress critters try to put in place will be ignored.

      Congress has ONLY three non-military weapons in their quiver:

      - Direct economic sanctions on Iran by the US - All the possible sanctions were put in place in 1979 and have proven to be ineffectual because of the ancient professions of smuggling and money laundering. There are no more direct sanctions the congress critters can put in place.

      - Third-party sanctions where the US tries to punish other countries for trading with Iran. These have somewhat worked over the last few years but are being ignored more and more every day because there is a huge profit to be made by trading with Iran. so as the existing sanctions disappear, any further third party sanctions will be ignored from the start and any attempts by congress critter to punish other countries will just boomerang on US companies. Many nations are looking for an excuse to cripple US companies so their local companies can thrive and further sanctions will simply give those countries a handy excuse. Very quickly Google, MS, IBM, HP and a whole bunch of US companies will be ready to strangle the congress critters.

      - Manipulate the global banking system and the US dollar. While this can make trade with Iran painful, it also highlights to the world, why the US dollar should not be the reserve currency and why the US should not be able to manipulate the banking network. China wants to get rid of the dollar reserve and create another global banking network that the US can not control and stunts like these just give China more leverage with the rest of the world to dump the US dollar.

      So the bottom line is the congress critters can not do anything real, but can give Iran and the rest of the world to ignore the US and increase trade with Iran.

      The "all powerful" US Congress is actually pretty impotent.

  • Netanyahu Imported by GOP to ensure Iran War
    • @Jack

      - Bibi definitely wants the US to go to war with Iran because his military has already told him it would be an unmitigated disaster for Israel to go to war with Iran. Any Israeli war on Iran would just get lots of Israeli killed and destroy the Israeli economy. Since Bibi wants to be "king" forever, he has to get someone else to pick a fight with Iran, so he can cheer-lead but not damage the Israeli economy too much.

      - Neocons do indeed fault Rummy for not having enough boots on the ground, but Rummy was constrained by the fact that he did not have any more boots to send. To get more boots on the ground, Rummy would have had to have congress restart conscription which would have stopped the war dead in its tracks.

      - Actually "modern" wars have the same constraints all wars have. (1) There is a limited amount of cannon fodder and when one side runs out, they lose. This is a big problem for the USA especially as the economy improves. Without conscription, the amount of cannon fodder is very low. (2) the amount of "stuff" that can be destroyed in the process is limited. Sure the US war production machine can produce a lot, but because of the way the US makes war toys (complex and expensive) the production is slow and costly. Note that Iran is different in that they have gone for "good enough" low cost technology and can make lots of "good enough" stuff for what it costs for one US aircraft. (3) wars cost money and all waring states eventually run out of money, even the USA. Whether the congress critters put the war "on the books" or hide the cost in fake bookkeeping, the actual cost of wars eventually sinks the state. Over the last last 10000 years more states have lost war because of lack of resources than for any other reason. Wars ALWAYS drain resources from a state causing the eventual collapse of the state.

      There can NOT be a perpetual war because the USA simply does not have the resources, especially with global political power and economic power shifting away form the USA. There is NOTHING the USA can do about the shift, but it can minimize the costs of the shift by spending its resources wisely (that is, internally rather than on war).

    • Although Mr. Cole can speak for himself, I thought you might like some help on correcting your basic (but huge) misunderstanding of history.

      - UN inspectors have total, complete and unrestrained access to EVERY nuclear facility in Iran. And just like the USA, Russia and China, Iran does restrict access to their NON-nuclear sites. There is NOTHING in anything Iran has signed that means they have to provide access to every place in Iran. Therefore you are FACTUALLY WRONG.

      - People draw lines all the time and then later change their minds. This is just part of being realistic about goal setting. Note that throughout history, people that "drew lines" and foolishly refused to re-think those lines when reality changed have proven to be losers. If you are saying that Obama should not have drawn lines, you would be correct, but to fault him for dealing with reality on a rational basis, you are FACTUALLY WRONG.

      - Whether Iran is in the "driver seat" remains to be negotiated, but keep in mind that Iran is just trying to protect their country from massive oppression by the USA. The USA is the historical "bad guy" here.

      - No one "controls" Yemen, not even the locals. While Iran may have some influence over some of the locals, it remains to be seen how the whole civil war plays out. What is highly probable is the US will have no influence in Yemen, which is what should happen Only people of Yemen and the surrounding countries should determine what structure the country takes.

      - As far as Iraq, can you please explain just how 10,000 (or even 50,000) US troops could have prevented Iraqi political leadership from being fools? and how the US troops could have prevented massive cowardliness of thousands of Iraq troops? and how US troops could actually do anything but try to keep themselves alive? Your rant about staying in Iraq is based on nothing but FICTION. As shown in Vietnam and many other wars the US has LOST, the US can not achieve what the locals can not (or will not) achieve. If the locals want to live under ISIL, there is absolutely NOTHING the US can do about that and trying just gets Americans killed for no good reason.

      You do NOT get to tell others how to live and they have every right to kill you for interfering.

      It is long past time for the US to shut up and sit down and let others sort out their lives however they want to.

      You may not like Iran, but you have no right to do anything but voice that opinion and then go away.

    • Bombing only works when your aircraft and cruise missiles can stay in the air and your carriers are still floating. Iran is currently making Chinese/Iranian engineered anti-aircraft systems (Bavar 373) that are equivalent to the newer Russian S-400/500 systems. These systems even find "stealth" aircraft. Not only that, but it is very probable that Iran has Chinese DF21D "carrier killers" that force US carriers to stay at least 800 miles from Iran forcing the aircraft to be refueled before they can even reach Iran, but well within the range of the Bavar 373/S-400. In addition to the Bavar 373, Iran has a second layer of medium range Raad anti-aircraft systems based on the Russian Buk (the system that shot down multiple aircraft over Ukraine). All in all, any pilots flying toward Iran have a very high probability of not making it home. BTW - Iran can build one heck of a lot of anti-aircraft missiles for the cost of ONE US Navy fighter, so they can easily afford to target two or three on each incoming aircraft, making it highly probable that none make it top their bomb run. BTW - all of the antiaircraft systems are portable and quickly set-up so the satellite photos will not be accurate. The bottom line is Iranian technology is just as good as US technology, but costs a whole lot less.

    • Per the US military own planning manual, for "hostile" areas they need to have one US soldier for every ten people they want to oppress over an extended period of time. For Iran that would men the US would need to have 7 MILLION US soldiers on the ground. There is the possibility that Iranians may be more subservient and the US could get by with ONLY 3.5 MILLION, but I suspect that Iranians don't do subservient very well. Note that all of the US military is less than 0.5 million, so there would need to be some sort of conscription.

    • Sorry, I did not mean to imply the missiles pointed at Israel are all in Iran. Per the IDF as reported in Jpost, Haaretz and Ynet, ther are a total of 100,000 missiles pointed at Israel from the areas surrounding Israel. I generally discount that number by 50% because it was published during budget negotiations.

    • Israel has no way to affect the Iranian civilian nuclear program (the CIA and Mossad have said there is no military program). Israel aircraft and missiles could do nothing more than make the Iranians angry.

      Even US B-52s dropping so-called "bunker busters" would do little damage to the Iranian civilian nuclear program. Note that only HEAVY bombers can lift the bunker busters - fighter bombers wouldn't even make it off the ground.

      THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "TACTICAL NUKES!"

      All nuclear bombs function in the same manner. they produce a thermonuclear explosion in the air above a target causing massive death and destruction from the blast, heat and radiation as well as sweeping tens of thousands of tons of radioactive dust particle into the upper atmosphere which will eventually rain down over the entire earth (INCLUDING the USA food production areas), contaminating every human on earth as well as all food production. There is a very good reason why ALL nations on earth stopped above ground nuclear blast testing - the global food contamination levels were increasing rapidly.

      Note also that current atmospheric modeling shows that nuking as few as FIVE medium to large cities could trigger nuclear winter where you will have the choice of whether to die of radiation poisoning, freezing to death or starvation because there would be no food production.

      Any person that advocates for any nuclear weapons is basically advocating for suicide.

    • Iran has over 25 MILLION military capable men and women who will kill every American that reaches their soil. The country would become one big kill zone for Americans. People that have to defend themselves against American invasions have learned a lot from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and the US military has run out of ways to avoid getting killed.

      It is important to note that Iran has been paranoid about a US invasion for over 35 years and has carefully prepared many deadly traps for the Americans.And since the US supplied Saddam with chemical weapons and no country would help Iran defend themselves against Saddam, Iranians have become super paranoid and redoubled their ability to defeat any invasion. Iran has completely re-thought the whole concept of war and found many ways to defeat the US (for a lot less than the US spends).

      The American public is NOT going to like this war or the results in the US (but it could ensure that no republican ever gets elected again).

    • Iran already has the capacity to make most of Israel a pile of rubble with just conventional HE (high explosives). Per the IDF, there are over 100,000 reasonably accurate HE missiles pointed at Israel right this minute. That is more than enough to end the Israeli economy. Note that Israeli anti-missile technology can only stop about 5% of that.

      Iran is playing a chess game where they will not be the first to strike, but will make life terrible for those that strike Iran. Not even the US veto in the UN will protect the US and Israel if either or both strike Iran - it will be the US and Israel against the other 7 billion people on earth.

      Any strike on Iran will NOT end well for the US and Israel - Iran is a lot stronger militarily than American and Israelis politicians give it credit for (on the other hand US and Israeli military leadership know just how dangerous Iran is and are working hard to rein in the politicians).

  • Obama to GOP: More Iran sanctions lead to War (& 7 other Foreign Policy points in SOTU)
    • Obama needs to be blunt with the American public and ask they point blank questions, like:

      - Do you want war with Iran which will gets lots of Americans and Iranians killed while wasting trillions of dollars?

      - Are you OK with Iran maybe winning?

      - Are you willing to see your sons and daughters die for Israel?

      Obama needs to make it very, very real for Americans what war with Iran will be like and force the GOP and Democratic war hawks to defend their position.

      That is, Obama needs to be much more aggressive with the war hawks (unfortunately, Obama has not shown any capacity to actually fight for what he believes - Oabma will flake out on this just like he has every other issue)

  • Is the NSA Responsible for N. Korea's Hack of Sony Pictures?
    • Any technology manager worth anything knows all too well to never use commercial encryption software because the probability that commercial encryption software has been compromised is close to 100%.

      The best encryption software to use is from the Open Source community where the source code is readily available and openly discussed. Any attempt to sneak in a "back door" is quickly discovered and eliminated.

      This is why all the governments on earth hate for non-governmental organizations to use open source encryption (but the governments themselves do use it to ensure their own secrets are kept secret). Once Google discovered that their private fibre links between data centers were being read by the NSA, they put very strict open source encryption in place to keep their data private.

      The best encryption software comes from outside the USA where people have a justifiable fear of their own governments - US companies trust the US government too much.

  • Israeli Squatters chop down 50 Olive Trees in Palestinian Village (800,000 since 1967)
    • Israelis are indeed "arrogant, entitled, abusive, selfish and controlling, and play the victim at every turn," as well as being delusionally paranoid, BUT . . .

      their days of getting away with all that are coming to an end due to global power shifts and simple demographics.

      - Power is shifting away from countries that are somewhat positive to neutral about Israel (currently the US and parts of Europe) to countries that are mildly to very anti-Israel. There is nothing Israel can do to change this fact and no amount of "charm offensive" will endear them to the newly powerful nations. For example, China only wants to strip-mine Israel for intellectual property and once they have turned Israel into an intellectual husk, they do not care what happens to Israel and if it can help them get resources from the Arabs, the Chinese will gladly help behind the scenes to make the lives of Israelis terrible (especially if there is a nice profit for the Chinese)..
      .
      - Supporters of Israel and the gullible that can be persuaded to believe Israel's myths, are rapidly dying off due to old age. The gullible include the Christian Zionist, whose churches are losing members at huge rates as their "true be;livers" die off and they can not get any of the under 40 crowd to listen. Multiple mega-churches in the US have already had to merge to survive.

      The bottom line is, although virtually no Israelis realize it, Israel's best days are behind it. As the US generation changes flow into the politics (it is happening, but mostly hidden by current events) and the US loses global power, there will come a day when the US not only will not protect Israel but will actively oppose Israel. And once Israel has lost the US, it will get that smirk knocked off their face.

      Israelis are NOT going to like their future and by the time they figure out 99% of the world is slightly;y to very negative toward Israel it will be too late to avoid the consequences of their behavior.

      I really wish Israelis would WAKE UP, but my experience with egotistical, arrogant bullies is they never wake up until they are brutally forced to.

  • Will the next Israeli Gov't be even more Far Right & Colonial?
    • From all appearances, most Israelis seem to be delusionally paranoid. That is, their world view is extremely distorted and full of irrational fear. If one looks at the range of Israeli media, there is no sane discussion about the real world and how Israel should interact with it.

      As a result, it is highly unlikely that any sane leadership is possible in Israel and Israel will continue on the path to their destruction

      The BASIC REALITY is:

      - Israel does not have a military advantage and can not continue to use force to get its way. The IDF can and will be humiliated and defeated if Israel keeps trying to use force. Remember that over the last 10000 years ALL armies have eventually suffered humiliating, total defeat - there is zero chance the IDF will be any different.

      - Basic game theory says Israel has ONLY three options going forward (1) DIVIDE the land and water fairly - Now TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE to do without a massive civil war in Israel and the settlers have access to all the weapons the IDF has. (2) SHARE the land equally with every human a full citizen with full rights - This is what will most probably happen over the next few years - Israel will become a secular (non-religious) state with a slight Muslim majority - In other words, no longer Jewish. (3) A fight to the death between the Israelis and the Arabs - As I noted above the Arabs now have the ability to defeat the IDF and will do so if Israel tries to forcibly ethnically cleanse the area west of the Jordan River. Israel can no longer win a major war and once the population sees the IDF losing, over half the Israeli population will simply invoke their secondary citizenship and leave Israel. So if Israel wants to survive, it really has ONLY one long term option - SHARE.

      - Global demographics are against Israel - Most of the world population is under 40 and for them, Israel has been a major pain in the *ss their entire life. They have no emotional tie to Israel and often consider Israel to be a major global problem. This is just going to get much worse for Israel as the boomer population in the US and Europe dies off (currently at a rate of 2000+/day). Outside the US and EU, even the boomer population has neutral to negative feeling toward Israel. So, over the next 10 years as the generations change in the US and Europe, Israel is going to lose most of the support it currently has. Israelis will view this as the world becoming antisemitic when the reality is the guilt over the Holocaust will simply be disappearing and Israel will start to be treated like any other pain in the *ss country.

      - Global power is shifting back to China (For all but 200 years of the last 5000 years, China was a major regional power). As power shifts from the US to China, even if some Americans still support Israel, the US will not have the ability to help very much (and as I noted above, fewer and fewer Americans will even care to waste the power they have, to help Israel). Of course there is a lot of magical thinking in Israel that China will welcome Israel with open arms, which is completely void of any reality. Yes, China will be "friendly" to Israel for a while, but that is only so China can more easily strip-mine Israel for intellectual property. once Israel is a dry husk, China will simple throw it away. Israel has nothing that China can not easily duplicate and improve.. Best estimates are China graduates between 300000 and 500000 engineers per year. that is, every ten years, China graduates more engineers than Israel has in total population. And these engineers are no less intelligent than Israeli engineers.

      So the basic bottom line is unless Israel drastically changes its behavior, it very probably has a very bad future, BUT currently there does not appear to be anyone in Israel that understands this.

      As a result, Israel will continue on the path it is on, getting more and more paranoid and violent, until it finally loses everything.

      Of course, If israelis ever did understand how bad their behavior is and negotiated in good faith, after giving up lots of land, water, cash (for compensation) and apologies for their behavior for the last 100 years, they would find that working with the other nations of the ME, they could create a very nice iconic block that would be a viable trading partner with the rest of the world.

      I am not holding my breath.

  • UN General Assembly Demands Israel Mothball its Nuclear Arsenal
    • In the real world, Israel's nukes are worthless for anything but committing suicide.

      Who is Israel going to nuke that would not cause Israel to (1) contaminate its own people, water and food sources, (2) have an economic meltdown in Israel when brutal sanctions were applied, or (3) cause it to be nuked in return?

      If Israel nukes one of the close countries (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, West bank or the Egyptian Sinai) , the very nature of nuclear air bursts means they will contaminate and probably kill some of their own population.

      If Israel nukes further out, they will either be hitting a country with nuclear bomb capability (UK, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and possibly several others including Saudi Arabia) or will be contaminating a country with nuclear bomb capability (see above plus the USA).

      Yes, any nuclear weapon exploded in the ME or Europe will contaminate US food production within a week - you are going to really like that radioactive food.

      Then, there is the "slight" problem that current atmospheric models have shown that nuclear air bursts over as few as FIVE cities could easily trigger Nuclear Winter where most humans would have the "fun" choice of dying of radiation poisoning, freezing the death or starving to death.

      Israel can not ever use any of its nukes for the same reason the US, Russia and China can not use any of their nukes - it would be suicidal, and I do not believe that most Israelis are suicidal. no matter their past history (Masada).

      A note about Saudi Arabia - It has been verified that Saudi Arabia has purchased multiple Chinese DF-21 solid fuel (quick launch) medium range missiles with an accuracy of 30 meters. Supposedly the missiles are equipped with conventional HE warheads, BUT . . . it is possible to remove the conventional warheads and replace them with nuclear warheads (China does this). Then there are the un-verified (but very credible) reports that Saudi Arabia has paid AQ Khan of Pakistan to design and build nuclear warheads for the DF-21. Some of the reports indicate that at least one of the warheads is complete, but no one seems to know WHERE it is. It could very easily have been transported to Saudi Arabia without media knowledge. For these reason, I count Saudi Arabia as a nuclear nation. I find it ironic that Saudi Arabia simply used its wealth to BUY its way to being a nuclear nation whereas Iran still isn't because they used their wealth to try to build the infrastructure internally.

      But the bottom line is no one (not even Israel) can actually use nukes without committing suicide. Nukes are the ultimate non-playable bluff.

  • Iran-Iraq War 2.0? Iran Flies bombing Raids on Extremists in Iraq
    • FYI - From my technology perspective, I think the Iranians have the better war toys strategy because reliable, decently capable war toys technology is so cheap these days.

      I think the US and Israel are fools to spend a single more dime on the F-35, when the money being spent could be used to upgrade the avionics on existing aircraft much more efficiently.

      I think that a few years down the road, both countries will deeply regret the huge pile of money they wasted on the F-35.

      I do not want Israel to attack anyone nor for it to be attacked, but I can see where they are short changing their future by continuing with the F-35. As Iran has shown, the money would be better spent on anti-aircraft type systems and better defensive weapons.

      BUT . . . in these days of very inexpensive, reasonably accurate missiles, anti-missile systems are a waste of time and money. For every anti-missile that Israel can build, hundreds to thousands of attack missiles can be built. simple economics says that Israel can not win.

      As I have pointed out before, pretty much every nation on earth with the money and the will is equal to every other nation in terms of war toys and cannon fodder. It is no longer possible for wars to determine the outcome. That is, every situation MUST end in negotiation, not "victory."

    • Iraq has two major problems in its fight with ISIL:

      - lack of motivation by the Iraqi troops (although the threat to their families might change that).

      - Very poor military and political leadership (the same problem the US found in Vietnam and why North Vietnam eventually won after the US pulled out with its tail between its legs - invaders can't simply put good leadership in place, since good leadership will typically hate the invaders).

      Iran brings a much better military leadership to the situation and has a better ability than the US to improve the political leadership.

      The reality is Iraqi troops do ** NOT ** need anymore training but need much better leadership.

      Note that US military troops only get about 10 to 16 weeks of training (3 to 4 months) before being assigned to a combat group. Virtually all Iraqi troops have had much longer training periods and ISIL troops get much, much less training. With modern personal weapons (AK-47 or equivalent), not much basic training is needed. What the US teaches its troops is how to avoid ending up dead too quickly, whereas groups like ISIL just send the new cannon fodder right into battle where the quick learners survive and live to kill another day and the not so quick, end up dead to be replaced by more cannon fodder..

      This experience will help the Iranian military further improve their leadership, improve their ground forces and their air forces. Since Iran is NOT looking to control Iraq as an invader, it should also help improve the Iraqi military and leadership.

      Unfortunately for Bibi, this experience will make the Iranian military even better at defeating the IDF when Israel attacks. I wonder how long before the Israelis figure out Iran is NOT a nation they want to tangle with and learn to keep their mouths shut?

    • The F-4 was originally designed for carrier operations. As such, it is a darn rugged aircraft with a very reliable power-plant. Enough were made and sold world-wide there is still an OK parts supply. Since Iran has a good technical sector, it is not at all surprising that Iran has several hundred still in operation. Note that Iran has over 500 older, but reliable combat aircraft and three air tankers for inflight refueling. More than enough to attack ISIL.

      Note, for defense against US and/or Israeli attack, Iran plans to use its extensive and deadly multi-layer anti-aircraft network, not their older aircraft. Iran has long range S-400 equivalent anti-aircraft missiles, medium range hypersonic anti-aircraft missiles that are a hybrid of the best features of Russian, Chinese and Iranian design and short range MANPAD type missiles. Iran believes in the swarm technique of defense. That is, overload the defense features of the attackers and go for multiple possible kills. Iran has chosen to have lots of inexpensive, reliable and deadly missiles instead of using super high-tech stuff (which often fails in spectacular ways).

      "Fun fact" - during the Vietnam war, the USAF would try to recover all the F-4s that got shot down or damaged in any way and ship the pieces to Hill AFB in Utah. Every few months the technical crews at Hill would collect the pieces they needed to re-build an aircraft. After mixing and matching pieces, they would have a refurbished aircraft which would be test flown over the Utah desert then returned to the fleet with a new ID number (so the pilots would not know it was made from bits and pieces instead of the normal assembly line). The recycling helped keep the number of active aircraft in the range the war needed. The crew at Hill did a very good job and I do not know of any refurbished aircraft that had any structural failures (some did get shot down)..

  • Far-Right Israeli FM Lieberman: Offer Israeli Arabs Money to Move to [Non-Existent] Palestinian State
    • I find it ironic that Israel can not afford to sustain their military nor provide basic social services to non-settlers, yet somehow, it is going to come up with the money to convince Arabs to give up their homeland and move someplace they are not wanted. I can see the big IOU that Israel will try to give to the US to finance this little venture and also how few people will accept the "offer" (actually threat).

      My guess is Israelis are going to try every delusional fantasy they can come up with and fail miserably every time, before they finally hit the last brick wall and realize they can't have all the land and water and have to treat their neighbors better than they treat Jews.

      Unfortunately if they wait too long to try to get along with their neighbors, the Arabs will simply forcibly take back their land and water, driving all the Jews out of the mid east for another several thousand years.

      And before anyone pops up and says how the IDF can never be defeated, I would like to ask a simple question . . . over the last 10000 years how many armies have avoided complete, humiliating defeat? Hint: the number is zero. The IDF can and will be defeated if Israel does not figure out a way to get along with their neighbors.

  • Oil Price Fall: Saudi Arabia targets US Shale Oil, Iran, Iraq, Russia
    • Given the wealth of Saudi Arabia, they could easily have all internal energy usage to be non-petroleum well before 2030, BUT . . .

      Saudi Arabia has MAJOR social problems that will hold it back:

      - almost 60% of their human resources are not usable due to extreme religion. That is, almost none of the women nor the Shi'a men can have positions of leadership and contribution, thus wasting a huge part of their basic resources.

      - Many of the Sunni men have chosen to not actually participate in the economy, leaving most of the work to "hired hands." As a result, Saudi Arabia has not built a very big pool of capable, entrepreneurial leaders.

      If Saudi Arabia actually wanted to, it could easily build very large solar energy harvesting systems and use the energy to convert sea water into hydrogen which could be exported for use as portable energy. Or they could additionally invest in harvesting CO2 from the air and combining it with hydrogen and making artificial hydrocarbons. So far they are not doing anything major.

  • Iran: US War Hawks go on Offensive after Nuclear Energy Talk Deadlines are Postponed
    • There are several "slight" problems with a US and/or Israeli attack on Iran . .

      - Iran is a modern state with modern weapons, so the US will suffer major damage from any attack. It is very, very important to understand that Iran has been paranoid about a US invasion since 1979 and even more so after the US gave Saddam chemical WMDs during the Iraq war on Iran. As a result of that paranoia, Iran has carefully studied the US military weapons and tactics and set out to defeat the US at its own game. Iran has many layers of defense which will severely damage US attackers. An attack on Iran will cost the US a lot.

      - Iranians are substantially united in their support of the nuclear program and their resistance to US attacks. Unlike Iraq, which the British made up by lumping together three very diverse groups, Iran has been a mostly coherent nation state for thousands of years.

      The bottom line is attacking Iraq could very well completely end the USA empire, driving the US out of the ME and possibly most other parts of the globe as Americans recoil from the human and economic costs.

      As for Israel trying to grow their empire, that will unite the Sunni, Shi'a, Kurds, Persians and the rest of the ME like nothing else in the world.

      What Israel seems to be unable to understand is that every person on earth has access to the same personal weapons (AK-47 and equivalent) and the world is awash in "war toys" (missiles, etc.) equal to or better than anything Israel has or will ever have. It is NOT 1967 any more and the war technology and information is vastly different these days. As such, Israel no longer has any conventional military advantage and if it uses WMDs, they will simply be committing suicide because the world will severely punish Israel for any use of WMD. Although Israelis like to think of themselves as powerful mega warriors, in reality Israel is a very small, almost powerless nation that can not survive if a majority of the world decides to punish it.

      While Israel will continue to rant and rave, in the end it is as powerless as the congress critters they own to actually do anything. More and more countries are seeing the Israeli oppression of Palestinians as more dangerous than Iran.

    • The simple reality is that eventually the Iranians are going to get so tired of the garbage from the US they will just tell the US "f*** it" and walk away. The Iranian government will tell their people they tried everything, but the Americans simply hate Iranians (and all the hate speech from congress critters just documents that very well). The Iranian government will then warn the population that the hatred is so strong in the US that an attack is very probable. At that point, the rest of the world will be scrambling to prevent war and will be very angry at the US and Israel. As the article notes, the existing third-party sanctions will disappear and congress critters will be even more angry at how impotent the US is.

      I think in the eyes of a significant part of the world, the US and Israel are the "bad guys" in this mess, not Iran.

      After the sanctions fall apart, congress critters will have no real options. War is extremely iffy and after initial heavy US losses, the American public will quickly lose any appetite for war, leaving congress critters far out on the limb.

      I think congress critters are going to soon find out just how powerless they are.

  • Top Five Washington Assumptions on Mideast that Are not True
    • REALITY, particularly long term rational thinking based on REALITY, is almost non-existent in most parts of the world.

      - Americans suffer from delusions of empires, while they fail at trying to keep the old British (ME), French (Vietnam & ME) and Spanish (Latin America) empires from completely de-colonizing and restructuring.

      - Israel is trying to replicate the failed colonial experiments of the old collapsed empires and can't figure out why the locals fiercely resist them. Israelis can not seem to understand that the locals have thousands of years of history and resent another bunch of European "crusader" invaders.

      - The Saudis may now understand they have made a "deal with the devil" by letting an extremely anti-human religious cult control the population, but they do not appear to know how to get rid of the religious nuts and move the country forward.

      And the list goes on with virtually no grouping of humans not suffering from massive delusions.

      A rational USA would tell most of the people on earth they are on their own and would return most of the US military might to the US.

  • Will GOP Congress block an Obama Iran Nuclear Deal?
    • In the long term it is to China's advantage to come up with an alternative to the US dollar. While China would like to control the base trading currency, they will settle for depriving the US of that power. It is important to remember that China's culture is over 5000 years old and they have had massive power for much of that time. They have learned a thing or two that the US has not even thought about yet, so it would be a mistake to discount China.

      As for money laundering, it simply makes all the US manipulation of the financial system worthless and ineffective.

      The bottom line I was trying to convey is while the congress critters can wastes hours of TV time spewing hot air, they will not be able to accomplish anything and some of the things they might try, would end up hurting the US far more than they will hurt Iran.

      basically the US has reached the limits of its power and life in Iran will get better each day no matter what the congress critters do short of war.

      While the congress critters can legally start a war anytime they want, the results of that war will very probably be extremely damaging to the US future.

    • While the congress critters keep rattling their paper sabre, in REALITY there is NOTHING they can do. The US has no other tools to use.

      - The US has already imposed all the direct sanctions it can on US and Iran trade, and Iran has successfully ignored them. Just this month, it was revealed that Iran successfully purchased four US made helicopters.

      - The US has already imposed all the third-party sanctions that other nations will allow and those sanctions are completely falling apart. Any attempt by congress to impose any further third-party sanctions will be met with very FIERCE opposition from every country on earth. Other countries will gleefully use congressional sanctions as an excuse to cripple US companies and remove them as competitors on the global stage (Hint: Germany is trying to cripple Google right now).

      - Money laundering is a hugely profitable business, so any attempt by congress critters to further restrict the global banking system will simply be ignored. Not only that but China wants to remove the US dollar as the global trading currency and any further meddling in global finance by the congress critters will just make China's job easier.

      The bottom line is the congress critters can rant and rave all they want and make all the threats they want, but their gun is out of bullets.

      I suspect that many in Iran realize the US has "shot its wad" and will bargain hard at the negotiating table. The US will NOT get anywhere close to what congress wants and the congress critters are going to have to swallow that bitter drink.

  • Two Different American Futures: With an Iran Deal & Without
    • Iran has been able to pull it off for several reasons:

      - Iran has a natural resource that earns them a nice profit to fund weapons development.

      - Iran has a highly educated population so they have the engineering talent to create new weapons and/or improve existing weapons. They have done such a good job of improving weapons that China has paid them for many of the improvements that Iranians have made to already good Chinese weapons.

      - Iran has completely re-though the concept of defensive weapons and developed a new tactical strategy that overwhelms the attacker with inexpensive but very reliable, deadly and accurate weapons. Wars simply cost Iran much less than the US. Iran gets much more "bang for the buck" than the US.

      - While the US spends trillions of dollars trying to create super weapons (and failing) Iran invests (a lot less) in improving what already works well.

      Now, no US blue water ship can get withing 500 miles of Iran without being in danger of being sunk. Nor can US aircraft fly over Iran without being in extreme danger of falling from the sky.

      The Iranian defensive weapons are formidable and deadly, which is why the US military has zero desire to attack Iran.

    • One slight "flaw" in Mr. Recknagel's article - The US has zero ability to keep the current third-party sanctions in place, let alone put any more in place.

      Right now the US is trying to pull three levers of power:

      - Direct US sanctions on Iran/US trade. These have been in place since 1979 and as the recent helicopter situation shows, are dubious at best.

      - Third-party sanctions where the US tries to keep other countries from trading with Iran. These are mostly gone by now and no more will be imposed because other nations gain more from trade with Iran than doing what the US wants. No matter how much the congress critters yell, they will simply be ignored.and if they try to punish other countries, the other countries will savagely punish US businesses like Google, HP, IBM, GE and the list goes on. The congress critters can NOT win this game.

      - Manipulation of the global finance system (SWIFT). This is being defeated by simple greed around the world since there is a very nice profit in laundering money for Iran. Also if the US goes any further, the US will just be helping China convince other countries to dump SWIFT and create a new banking system that the US can not control and abuse, while also conveniently for China, delegitimizing the US dollar.

      So the bottom line is if there is no agreement, there is nothing further the US can do besides lose another war in the middle east with massive loss of American lives and American wealth.

  • 3rd Possibility: Coming Civil War in West Bank/ Jerusalem?
    • I for one would be thrilled if the Israelis would wake up from their delusions and fairly negotiate with the Arabs. I do not want to see the destruction of Israel, BUT . . .

      I also know that based on 50000 years of human history that the path Israelis have CHOSEN (and they have a choice) is one that will lead to their destruction.

      In the long term, Israel can NOT win the game they are playing.

      If israelis really want to have a "Jewish" homeland that is "safe," it is very well documented what they will have to do . . .

      Give up lots of land, water, cash (for compensation) and apologies for all their past actions.

      In other words, they will have to give up all their myths of superiority and their delusions and face the real world.

      The problem I see is the Israelis are so deep into their delusions, they will only spiral downward to the end.

    • Both aircraft and tanks are sitting ducks for modern weapons. The Iranians, Chinese and Russians have spent the last 50+ years coming up with many ways to make US and Israeli aircraft and tanks in to pieces of metal sculpture and all those weapons are readily available to all modern armies (they are a nice source of revenue for China and Russia).

      The bottom line, as I have tried to explain elsewhere, is the IDF is no where as "wonderful" as all he myths portray.

      There are very good technical reasons why the "powerful" US military LOST in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Arabs learned a lot from the US defeats and will cheerfully apply the lessons on the IDF.

      There are also very good reasons why Israel no longer controls southern Lebanon and it isn't because they felt an obligation to return the land to Lebanon, but because they got driven out militarily. There is also a good reason why Israel abandoned Gaza, staying was too costly militarily (this is why all those saying Israel should retake Gaza are just having delusions - the IDF leadership knows how high the cost would be and Israel can not tolerate the very high cost).

    • ECM does not work very well when the aircraft is targeted by a swarm of self controlled missiles (real cheap to do these days with Android Linux running on cheap ARM single board computers). basically the days of expensive, high-tech aircraft are numbered.

    • Any viable plan will have to destroy many Israeli myths and dreams, which is why Israelis fight so hard against any viable plan.

      Dreams die hard and only after every delusion has been forcibly stripped away.

    • Keep in mind the Jordanian military has all the same weapons as Israel and is equally as trained. The only problem Jordan will have is they share a warfare philosophy with Israel and the US (lots of expensive war toys), but Jordan just may have allies that have lots of inexpensive weapons.

      After Israel starts their next big war, they are going to discover that a lot has changed since 1967 and they are going to have many very, very bad surprises.

      BUT . . . I think the IDF leadership very well understand that they no longer have military superiority, which is why there are indications the IDF is trying to rein-in the politicians. The rhetoric from the IDF is vastly different from the political rhetoric.

    • Reportedly, over half the Jewish Israelis are dual nationals, holding two passports (mostly US, European and Russian) . Often these people continue to have financial assets in their "former" country, so even if they have to flee Israel in a hurry, they will have a second home and resources.

      Keep in mind that Christian conservatives (and all religions) are a rapidly declining part of the American population (that is one of the reasons they are so vocal - they resent losing power), so they will lose the power to hurt the US over time.

      The US is stubbornly trying to continue the UK, French and Spanish empires. Just as the US has lost the fight in Asia (remember Vietnam) and most of the rest of the world, it will eventually admit to losing the ME also and quit fighting the Arabs and the Persians.

    • There are no "magic" weapons. Israel has no "secret super-duper stuff." All weapons are based on science and the science is very well known to everyone on earth. You name any "magic" weapon you think Israel may have and I will explain the science that says you are full of sh*t.

      Every nation on earth that is willing to spend a little money, can buy weapon systems equivalent or better than anything Israel has or will ever have.

      This is the basic problem Israel has, it no longer has any weapon superiority and in fact because of their warfare philosophy, they are actually behind many of their potential opponents. Israel (and the US) still relies on every expensive high-tech war toys, BUT many others have figured out that hundreds to thousands of inexpensive but reasonably deadly weapons work even better.

      As for WMDs (nuclear biological and chemical), Israel does indeed have those in large quantities, BUT if they use any of them, they will be, at a minimum, committing economic suicide and quite probably actual suicide. Those types of weapons can not be contained to a single area, but will spread over the earth causing massive hatred for Israel that not even the US will be able to protect Israel from. So yes Israel could kill lots of humans (far more than the Nazi did), but it would lead to their destruction.

      A majority of the US supporters of Israel are boomers who are dying off at a rate of over 2000/day - that is just how life and demographics work. Also, the number of fundamentalist Christians is rapidly declining as generational power shifts younger. A huge majority of Americans under 40 do NOT support Israel. Just as the republicans have a large looming demographic problem, so does Israel. While the present congress is owned lock, stock and barrel by Israel that will not continue.

      basically Israel is on the wrong end of a large cannon that will soon ruin their day.

      Past is not prolog, but general lessons from the past can provide insight.

      - ALL empires die (including the Israeli one)

      - All armies suffer a final .humiliating defeat. In the last 50000 years exactly ZERO armies have avoided massive defeat. The IDF will suffer the same defeat eventually.

      - Other than the European invasion of North America, the invaders are ALWAYS driven out or assimilated and israelis are invaders.

      Take an unbiased, long term view of history and you will be able to see all the MAJOR mistakes the Israeli are making and why the many myths about Israel are all wrong.

    • While the leaders of Saudi Arabia do indeed like their "wine, women and song" more than they want war, there are lots of very low cost ways to make very expensive aircraft fall from the sky.

      The Russian S-300/400/500 long range (200 KM) missile systems are especially deadly, particularly when they are fired in swarms. That is, firing multiple missiles at each aircraft from multiple launch systems. Virtually no aircraft can escape a swarm. There are hundreds of surplus S-300 systems available because Russia is now deploying S-400 systems and early S-500 systems. In addition, there are the Chinese and Iranian re-engineering of the S-300 (HQ-15) which is equivalent to the S-400.

      Then there are the medium range missile systems like the Russian Buk (recently used to bring down multiple aircraft in Ukraine) and the Chinese HQ-16B (which may be even more deadly) and the Iranian Ra'ad .

      And finally there are MANPADS (human launched small, fast missiles).

      Basically the world is awash in very, very deadly anti-aircraft systems that many countries have purchased and deployed (including Jordan and Egypt). Iran is especially deadly because they have all three layers (S-400 equivalent long range systems, the medium range Ra'ad, and lots of MANPADS). This is why the IDF and the USAF have zero desire to fly over Iran.

      When a country couples the firepower with things like passive radar (large numbers of emitters spread over a large area with a separate large "billboard" receiver array), even "stealth" aircraft are extremely vulnerable.

      And the economics heavily favor the missile folks. For the cost of a single aircraft and pilot, thousands of anti-aircraft missiles can be built, so even if the aircraft avoids one missile there will be many more to blow the aircraft from the sky.

      In the world of very low cost, reasonably accurate missiles and drones, aircraft and carriers are a huge, huge waste of money.

    • I do not think the Israelis would be successful trying to ethnically cleanse the Arabs and in fact could very well lose the war they started.

      Israel is NOT as militarily capable as the myths say.

      The Arabs currently have more than enough war toys, cannon fodder and leadership capability to defeat Israel. The ONLY thing keeping a lid on is the current leadership in the ME prefers to enjoy the benefits of living the high-life to a messy war.

      Once the Arab body count got high enough west of the Jordan River, Israel would be in the fight of their life.

      And Israel can not really count on the US to protect it forever. I suspect that if the polling groups asked honest questions about Israel, the Israelis would NOT like the answers. Questions like . . . Are you willing to have your kids killed for Israel?

      Israelis can not grasp that a majority of their US supporters are dying off at the rate of over 2000/day.

      Israelis are making a BIG mistake if they think they can ethnically cleanse the Arabs without losing everything.

      Note also if they do succeed in "transferring " all the Arabs, that just means all of Israel would be a free-fire-zone for the hundreds of thousands of inexpensive, but reasonably accurate and destructive missiles the Arabs have. And it would not take long for Israel's 400 or so aircraft to fall from the sky.

      When Israel ignites the next war, they are NOT going to like the result because it is not going to go the way they imagine.

  • Should Iran and the US accept a Good, but not perfect Nuclear Deal?
    • The problem is Iran has already tried to do the "purchase" thing. Both France and Russia took their money and promptly did not deliver.

      Iran has been screwed on so many LEGAL transactions with other countries they now want to fully control their own energy production.

      Also during the Iraq attack on Iran, Iran also got screwed on weapons purchases - again multiple countries took their money and did not deliver. This is why Iran has built a very viable weapons industry.

      Given how many times Iran has tried to "do the right thing" and has gotten screwed, how can anyone blame then for not trusting the "west?"

    • Actually the sanctions are temporary and are falling apart as we speak because there is a nice profit in smuggling and money laundering.

      I used to be the customer care manager for a hardware company and was quite surprised one day many years ago to get a phone call from a person asking for some help on our product. The surprise was because we did not export our product to China. It took me several weeks and lots of digging to discover that many more than one of our products were also in China because the product was a very good solution for a specific situation and the Chinese customers had simply purchased the hardware through a front company in Asia and arranged for our product to "magically" appear in their business in China. Smuggling and money laundering has been going on for thousands of years, so why would anyone expect the US third-party sanctions to survive in the real world?

  • Saudi Arabia at the G20: Is it waging Econ War on Iran, Russia and N. Dakota?
    • While the average cost of most US production is now quite high, the average production costs in Russia and Iran are much less than the US and only slightly more than Saudi Arabia. As a result, only the high cost producers (US & Canadian shale oil, deep ocean drilling, etc.) are hurt by the probably short term decline in prices.

      Note also the decline in demand is caused by continuing global economic problems, such as massive inequality of wealth. If countries were to strip the wealthy of part of their wealth and infuse that wealth into the general population, overall economic activity (and therefore oil prices) would increase. Yes, socialism is good for everyone, including the wealthy.

  • Stealth Drone Proliferation: Iranians Reverse engineer captured US Spy Drone
    • If Americans are foolish enough to waste trillions of their wealth on war toys, why shouldn't the rest of the world just "borrow" the technology?

      BTW - given the physics, chemistry and other scientific limits, there are really few possible alternatives to the designs, so it is perfectly reasonable that even independent designs will be very similar to US designs.

    • Iran has a strong high-tech sector and the wealth to finance it, so many other technological advances should be anticipated. Note that Iran has an entirely different warfare philosophy than the US and Israel. Instead of very, very expensive aircraft and pilots and other very expensive offensive weapons, Iran has focused on having lots of inexpensive, but reasonably effective and deadly defensive weapons. Even this stealth drone is defensive as it will be used by Iran to know more about its opponents (US, Israel and Saudi Arabia), rather than an attack weapon. If the US, Israel and/or Saudi Arabia start a war with Iran, I suspect they will receive some very unpleasant surprises and heavy defeats. Iran has been extremely paranoid about a US invasion for over 35 years and has expended a LOT of resources to make that invasion as painful as possible for the US. I think US military leadership understands just how dangerous it would be to attack Iran, but US politicians are not listening.

  • Top 5 Disasters If GOP Senate derails Iran talks
    • As i noted above, virtually all the sanctions will be gone by the end of 2014 no matter what the congress critters do.

      Basic commerce theory documents that blockade running and money laundering are very profitable for everyone concerned, especially since Iran has a valuable thing to sell and a huge market of over 75 million.

    • First of all, there is no such thing as "tactical nukes."

      ALL nuclear weapons function the same way. The only very slight difference is whether the nuclear weapon destroys hundreds of thousands of hectares or millions of hectares. So any use of a nuclear weapons will be catastrophic and contaminate all the land down-wind of the explosion. BTW - After less than a week, due to global winds, the US west coast agriculture would be contaminated. Of course US troops in Afghanistan and Japan will be contaminated much sooner.

      While Israel does have "smallish" nuclear weapons mounted on sub launched cruise missiles, the flying range is less than 500 KM, so the subs would have to be close to Iran.

      Iran will not back down - they will take the nuke attack and use the global outrage to make the US impotent and severely punish Israel. Israel will be forced to disarm.

      Note that If Israel uses a nuclear weapon, it will be committing, at the very least, economic suicide, but quite possibly literal suicide. Down-wind of Iran are THREE nuclear powers, all of which have the delivery systems to nuke Israel in return. None of the three are afraid of the US and all three will be extremely angry having their populations contaminated by Israel.

      BTW - Here is a "fun fact" for you - Per the latest simulations, as few as FIVE nuclear air bursts over medium sized cities would very likely cause Nuclear Winter where all humans on earth would have the "fun" choice of whether to freeze to death or starve to death.

    • The blockade hurts Iran less every day - There is huge profit in the smuggling trade and the money laundering trade (has been for thousands of years). Basic economics says that the world will profit from US ego-driven stupidity. Granted the situation with Cuba not so much, but Iran has resources that the rest of the world wants, so there is a lot of profit.

    • Netanyahu may huff and puff, but he has already been told by the IDF leadership that any Israeli attack would be a big failure where Israel might lose over half the aircraft in the attack (Israel has less than 500 active combat aircraft) and once the IDF air capability was reduced, it would be vulnerable to attack itself. Note also that Israel has no heavy bomber capability so its bombs would be completely ineffective against Iran's hardened sites. Then there is the HUGE problem of using nuclear weapons which would probably cause, at a minimum, huge economic damage to Israel if not physical damage from retaliation. Netanyahu hates that he is actually impotent, but there is nothing he can do except incite the congress critters in hopes they will be extremely stupid and ignore the US military.

    • While the congress critters may want to punish Iran in a fit of false superiority, I suspect that they will just get their egos heavily bruised because Iran is actually in a much stronger position than it was several years ago.

      - Iran's military has a formidable array of defensive weapons, many improvements on Chinese and Russian designs. In addition, thanks to the US and ISIL, the Iranian military leadership has lots of actual combat experience. Any attack on Iran would be very deadly for the attackers. An attack that did not put millions of US soldiers on the ground, would just wound Iran and make it more fearsome. Remember that Iran has been driven by two strains of paranoia for over 35 years . . . (1) the US will invade to put their own puppet back in power and (2) they must be self-sufficient in weapons design and manufacturing so they have all the weapons they need to defeat the US. MOST US military leaders know that without a massive US draft and trillions of dollars of funding, war with Iran is a guaranteed loser and they want no part of it..

      - While Iran is not getting the optimal price for their oil, they are making very reasonable profits that allow them to finance their country. Given that smuggling and circumventing trade restrictions has been a human endeavor for many thousands of years, as time goes on the US embargoes (both direct since 1979 and indirect) become completely ineffective. By the end of 2014, no matter what congress critters do, most existing embargoes will be meaningless and any embargoes congress critters try to enact, will be ignored. There is far too much profit for everyone involved with Iran trade for anything congress critters do, to matter.

      - Even if the congress critters try to further manipulate the global banking system, they will be thwarted because there are large profits to be made by helping Iran launder their global financial transactions and giving everyone involved reasonable deny-ability.

      So, I expect congress critters to rant and rave about Iran for months, but in the end they will not be able to actually do a single thing - no real financial damage to Iran and no military attack because the rest of the world does not care what congress critters rant about. And because of US intransigence, Iran just may decide to build nukes to keep the US congress subdued. Note that Iran could have easily paid Pakistan for nukes (like the Saudis) but wanted to build all the expertise in the country.

  • Israel Econ. Minister's West Bank annexation plan a wake up call for the West
    • Israel has, at the most, another 20 years.

      The global conditions are rapidly going negative for Israel:

      - The US is losing power to Asia (who do not care one bit about Israel other than to strip-mine it for intellectual property).

      - Israel has lost (and will NEVER regain) military superiority. The world is awash in war toys equal to or better than anything Israel has or will ever have. There are no "magic" weapons. Also, the Persians have adopted a military philosophy of lots of inexpensive, but "good enough" weapons which easily trumps the Israeli (and US) philosophy of relatively small numbers of expensive high-tech stuff.

      - US supporters of Israel are a declining part of the US population. A large majority of the people born after the Vietnam war are neutral to negative about Israel and the older supporters are dying off (~2000/day).

      - The Arabs have had a "peace plan" on the table for over 10 years. Since it forces Israelis to give up most of their grand dreams (actually delusions), Israelis have chosen to ignore it.

      The bottom line is Israel can NOT win the next war and would be stupid to try (I think that most of the IDF leadership knows this reality, but NONE of the politicians appear to understand). Eventually, Israel will come under extreme economic stress due to isolation. As a result, the political leaders in Israel will eventually be forced to fall on their swords and make a deal with the Arabs which will make Israel give up lots of land, water, cash (for compensation) and apologies for Israel's past actions.

      If Israelis were not so delusional, they would get a better deal today, but the political leaders are so craven and the population so delusional, the worse deal will not happen until all the dreams die.

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu Is a National Security Risk—And Washington Knows It
    • While Bibi is a SHORT TERM "winner," he has Israel on a LONG TERM losing path. Many coming shifts in global power and demographics are going to cause future Israelis a LOT of very painful and possibly deadly problems.

      - Israel is no longer militarily superior. The world is awash in war toys equal to or better than Israel has or will ever have. Also many nations have realized that thousands of inexpensive weapons, completely trumps a few high-tech, very expensive weapons. For example, when anti-aircraft missiles are both inexpensive and reasonably accurate (as they are today), shooting multiple missiles at one high tech aircraft ensures the high-tech aircraft ends up in a flame ball. The multiple anti-aircraft missiles simply overwhelm the very expensive pilot and the aircraft defense systems. Note that Israel has, at the most, less than 3000 anti-missile projectiles, which means that even with 100% effectiveness (impossible), there would still be 47,000 to 100,000 enemy missiles landing on Israel destroying infrastructure and causing panic (that 50,000 to 100,00 number is from the IDF!)

      - Global demographics are against Israel. Globally a lot of humans were born about the same time as Israel and for 20 years they were fed a high concentration of the Israeli myth BS that most absorbed without question. BUT that generation is dying off and being replaced by humans born after the Vietnam war and many other terrible events..These later humans have no emotional attachment to Israel, ZERO. The humans under 40 have a strong skepticism about Israel and many view it as a trouble maker. As these people gain political power, Israel will have a much rougher future, even in the US.

      - Global shift in power. After 200 years of European and US suppression of Asia, once again Asia is re-taking its place on the global stage (most people do not realize that China has been a global power for most of its 5000 years of existence). The only thing Asia cares about Israel is to strip-mine it for intellectual property and then throw away the dead husk. Over a few years, China graduates more engineers than Israel has total population and those engineers are just as smart as Israeli engineers.. With the shift in power from the US and Europe to Asia, Israel loses even more in the process because Asians have ZERO need for Israel.

      The bottom line can be summed up . . "friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate." Israel is losing friends and creating enemies such that its future is very questionable.

      A REAL LEADER in Israel would give up lots of land, water, cash (for compensation) and apologies for past behavior to put together a middle east economic block in partnership with the Arabs. The middle east has all the components to make a viable economic block similar to Europe, USA/Canada, Asia, etc:

      - Intellectual property capability in Israel and Iran

      - Wealth to fund development in Iran and Saudi Arabia and to a less extent Israel

      - Labor force throughout the region

      - Local consumers throughout the region. One of the things needed for a viable economic block is a robust local economy. Create products to sell in the region then export the surplus production for additional profit.

      Israelis need to understand that they are NOT a European country but a middle east country, just like Australians had to finally figure out that even though a majority of the population came from Europe, Australia is actually economically an Asian country.

      Short term thinking dominates in Israel and long term thinking is derided and delusion abounds.

    • Congress critters are easy to identify because they share many similar characteristics:

      - Extremely fearful of anything that moves, especially anything that would separate them from their luxurious lifestyle.

      - Complete lack of any capacity to think, let alone think rationally.

      - Herd mentality. That is, whatever BS they have been fed spreads throughout the herd almost immediately.

      - Lack of a BS detector -congress critters are unable to know when they are being buried in BS.

      - Belligerence - they always react to any perceived threat with extreme belligerence causing them to send their minions to die on their behalf.

      I wish I could say that congress critters are an evolutionary reaction to past congress occupants, but unfortunately 200 years of history shows that congress critters have been with us since day one. The only thing we can do is have a rational population that regularly severely punishes the most ugly of the congress critters.What has changed is the population has become much more irrational and un-thinking.

    • Bibi is going to be deeply disappointed with the congress critters on Iran. Other than declaring war on Iran, there is absolutely NOTHING the congress critters can do about Iran.

      (1) Direct sanctions on US/Iran trade were put in place in 1979 and are now totally worthless. There is nothing left that the congress critters can directly do to Iran.

      (2) Indirect, third-party sanctions on trade between other countries and Iran are falling apart and no matter what congress critter weep and wail about, the third-party sanctions will continue to disappear with no new ones put in place. Other countries just do NOT care what congress critters think. If congress critters try to enforce the third-party sanctions by punishing countries, the other countries will simply fiercely retaliate against US business interests. HP, Google, and a wide variety of US companies are extremely vulnerable to economic pressure. The big US companies will scream at congress critters when European, Middle East and Asian nations brutally retaliate.

      (3) Manipulation of the global banking system can not go any further without severely damaging the US dollar, especially when there is a nice profit in laundering money for Iran. Iran and its many trading partners have figured out ways around the US control of the SWIFT banking network since ALL countries deeply resent the US using a basic banking tool for political revenge. Right now, China is trying to get the rest of the world to drop the US dollar as the reserve currency and come up with a different way that avoids US control. The more the US tries to use the global banking system as a tool of political revenge, the better the Chinese proposal looks to an increasing number of countries. If the congress critters push any further, the rest of the world will simply build a banking system to compete with SWIFT that can not be controlled by the US. Once a sufficient number of countries move to the competing system, the US dollar is done for because for US companies to survive, they will need to move to the other banking system. US companies care more for high profits than anything congress critters want.

      (4) War - While, per the US Constitution, any congress critter can introduce a bill declaring war on Iran and a mere 67% of the congress critters can vote to do it over a POTUS veto, it is unlikely that any bill declaring war will be introduced and even if one were to reach the floor of the Senate and House, that it would not pass because American voters would skin alive any congress critter that voted for it. Americans are in no mood for a war, especially one that would be so devastating to the US economy. While the PR machines could try to convince the public that war with Iran would be"painless," I do not think the public would fall for it after the sad experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, this is why the congress critters are loath to have any vote about what to do with ISIL

      I think, in the end, the US will get the best deal it can with Iran, the congress critters will waste hours of talking head time on TV and Bibi will have to rant but do nothing, because the IDF leadership has already been told him the IDF can NOT do anything to Iran, only the US military has enough cannon fodder and war toys to waste in a needless war with Iran. Any Israeli attack on Iran would devastate the IDF and possibly cause Israel permanent harm or even end the state.

      Basically, Iran has checkmated Bibi and it is all over except the ineffective shouting.

      BTW - After Bibi loses the Iran fight, Israel will probably be in even worse shape vis-a-vis the US public. It appears that Israelis have not figured out (or do not want to believe) that, just like the republicans, have a demographic and age problem, so does Israel. As the boomers die off, Israel is losing support that no amount of PR can fix.

  • EU Foreign Affairs Head: A Palestinian State or Endless Conflict
    • The conflict will not be endless.

      Right now the Arabs have the capacity to destroy Israel, but the existing Arab "leaders" much prefer their luxurious lives to the deprivation of war, so they have kept a lid on the populations. BUT . . .

      Over time the de-colonization of the Arab counties will take place and the current leaders will be replaced by leaders that are more in tune with the populations.

      On top of that, Israelis have shown a remarkable inability to avoid doing the exact things that most inflame their opponents.

      As a result, eventually there will be a mid east war that will destroy Israel.

      At the end of the war, most Jewish people will have left the middle east and those that remain will simply live as a minority in Arab countries. There will be no massive attempt to "kill all the Jews." this is a Jewish paranoid delusion.

  • When will US admit Boots on Ground in Iraq (3000 Troops)?
    • There were three anglo-afghan wars (1843, 1879 & 1919) during which the Brits were only able to achieve partial control after the second war and suffered major losses in all three wars. All of which still begs the question, after a long history of people, INCLUDING the US colonials, of defeating supposedly much better military WITHOUT formal training, HOW exactly is US training going to make any difference against ISIL if the locals do not care enough to fight. Note that the Kurd are doing OK against ISIL even though they are severely handicapped by Turkey and are not getting adequate supplies from the US. The difference is the Kurds care about remaining independent. If Obama had any balls, he would strong arm Turkey big time to get the Kurds every modern weapon they wanted including short range missiles. Kurds will fight (without "training") whereas the Iraqi Shia and Sunni are wimps when it comes to fighting ISIL. Nothing the US can do will transplant a backbone into the Iraqis.

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