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Total number of comments: 120 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:50)

steerpike

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  • Israel Econ. Minister's West Bank annexation plan a wake up call for the West
    • I would be interested to see Bennet explain the difference between his vison of subservient Palestinians living in an area "short of a state" and the Bantustans planned by apartheid era South Africa.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria
  • Defying Turkey, US airdrops arms to Kobane Kurds
    • When you have three or more sides in a conflict there is usually a temporary understanding as to who is the main enemy and who is to be left alone or become secret allies, however messy or immoral the situation. The US is now helping Assad and the Turks are using ISIS to keep the Kurds down so NATO allies are now effectively opposing each other.

  • Turkey bargaining with base for US, wants no-fly zone in Syria
    • Of course the US has another ally in the region just as close as Turkey is to the ISIS forces. It also has airbases suitable for bombers and an advanced air-force and its troops face ISIS at the Golan Heights.
      Of course this ally can not get involved as it would inflame the situation- which rather begs the question of why spend billions on an ally which will not and can not help you?

  • The Last Days of Kobani Loom as ISIL Closes in on Syrian Kurds with Murder on its Mind
    • So basically the Americans don't trust the Kurds enough to give them a laser pointer - even though a Kurdish city is about to be massacred. Their Nato ally the Turks are sitting a kilometer away from the same city and watching developments because they don't want to help Kurdish separatism. The Iraqi army has yet to make progress because much of their equipment has been stolen by their corrupt officers and sold - probably to ISIS. Iraqi politicians are too busy bickering to unite in responding to the threat and Shi'ite militias are killing Sunni civilians with more enthusiasm than confronting ISIS. Iran, Hezbollah, and Assad's Syria have effective fighters and hate ISIS but can't be in the same fight. A force of only a few thousand fighters have conquered half of Iraq and Syria and hold several million inhabitants under their control, and are pushing back Kurdish peshmerga while absorbing Western airstrikes. The Free Syrian Army appears to be totally missing but if we put in 1% of the billions spent on the Iraqi army , they will sort this whole mess out.
      What has Bush/Obama dragged the US into?

  • The Yasukuni Shuffle: China and Japan duke it out via T.V. Serials on the Wrongs of WW II
    • On May 5 1985 President Reagan also took a stroll in a park. The park was Bitburg Military Cemetery which contains the graves of 49 soldiers of the Waffen-ss. No American President has ever repeated this mistake as it was seen as siding with the perpetrators of WWII mass killings.
      Yet the Japanese Leaders persist in visiting a shrine to war dead which contains war criminals who organized massacres. Jewish and other leaders were justifiably outraged by Reagan's visit - why can't the Chinese show the same reaction?

  • Palestine goes to UN Security Council to Demand Israeli Withdrawal by 2016
    • Depressingly accurate. After the drawnout Kerry peace progress, Palestinians head for the UN even though the US must have privately told them they will veto any progress. Then in a couple of years - maybe - the ICC. All the hallmarks of timewasting.

  • US strikes ISIL oil fields in Quest to Defund it: But will it Replace oil with Fracking?
    • ISIS are landlocked so the oil must be passing through either Iraq, Iran, Turkey. Israel or regime controlled Syria. Does the extensive US spy network- who appear to know the refineries location, output and selling price - have any idea who is buying this oil and helping to fund ISIS? Or is disclosing the allies of ISIS politically sensitive?

  • Shock & Awe In Syria: It never Works
  • Elon Musk's Nevada Gigafactory may Save the World
    • The question that needs asking - how long is the life of a battery? Most battery powered appliances - notebooks. mobile phones - would never make the five year mark and their battery life drops until many laptops become only useful plugged in.
      An internal combustion engine lasts decades and does not decrease in efficiency. Any comparison of costs has to include costs of replacing batteries and since the range of a fresh battery is still marginal, any drop in performance is going to have an impact.
      Incidentally, Chinese cities ban motorbikes and the streets are full of e-bikes. I suspect this will be the driver for electric vehicles as 100 million cheap electic scooters outweigh a few thousand exotic sportscars.

  • Israel's Gaza Campaign Endangers US Security: Why Obama & Kerry are Furious
    • Just one question - is the US supply chain replacing Israeli munitions as fast as they are being dropped on civilians?
      That would be a more accurate way of knowing the degree of pressure being applied to stop this killing than any public statement.

  • As a Sakharov laureate and a mother, I call on the EU to help save Palestinians – and Israel
    • The US has claimed a sole leadership role in this conflict since the days of Nixon and Kissinger. At the same time it has supplied weapons and vetoed every resolution criticising Israel. Even when it requests a halt to settlements it is publicly ignored. A reasonable question is - what has US leadership acheived for Palestine?
      Perhaps after 40 years of failure it is time to step aside.

  • Gaza War Devastates Israeli Tourism Revenue, Points to Fragile Apartheid Future
    • I had thought the rockets were a sign of desperation, an ineffective and counterproductive activity. Yet these rockets have sent millions of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters, forced the mobilisation of tens of thousands of troops, and created massive disruption to the Israeli economy - the closing of the airport being the latest indication.

      In addition Israeli troops have had little option but close quarters urban fighting in a crowded city - the very worst option for a technologically advanced army. In a city their overwhelming firepower creates civilian casualties while they blunder into prepared defences.

      The paradox of the Gaza missiles is their ineffectiveness in killing is their strength. Netanyahu has not a single "telegenic dead Israeli child" to display to the world while the world media displays picture after picture of dead Palestinian children. Yet he can not ignore the missiles.

      No wonder the Israelis are bemoaning the failed ceasefire. and Kerry is keen to intervene. Hamas can string the Israelis along for weeks to come - or step up their resistance against the Israeli stranglehold at any time.

  • Gaza: Netanyahu, Goaded by Israeli Far Right, Risks Breaking Int'l Law
    • No significance in breaking international law at all. The US will always protect Israel, both at the UN and through pressure on allies. The US protects a state which conquered territory in a pre-emptive war, which occupies the territory without granting citizenship, denies the right to return, plants settlements to squeeze out the landowners and bombs the unhappy occupied masses. Perhaps the ultimate cynic Putin can now agree with the US it that this is an acceptable policy and apply the same tactics to Ukraine - for a start.

  • Israel's search for missing settlers shines light on depth of the West Bank’s occupation
    • Looks like the only sensible option is to abandon the idea of Palestine as a separate state. Israel now stretches to the River Jordan. Recognise facts on the ground.
      Stop calling yourselves Palestinians. Call yourself Israelis and demand your full civil rights of a vote, family unification, free access to anywhere to live in Israel and an end to race based discrimination. The bantu state of Palestine serves only Israeli interests.

  • The seven people who need to STFU about Iraq right now
    • "In direct refutation of this [Glen's] portrayal," Powell concluded, "is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent."
      Major Colin Powell, Vietnam 1968, in response to allegations of a massacre in My Lai by the Americl Division.
      How can you put a blot on a record like that?

  • Egypt, Syria, Libya . . . . What is the Appeal of Phoney Elections in the Middle East?
    • Being unable to create a parliamentary majority as in Iraq is certainly a problem but it is a little hard to blame it on the election. The result presumably mirrors deep divisions in the country and an electoral system which creates a majority government from one minority would not be an improvement.

      A vote of no-confidence, followed by fresh elections - repeated if necessary - may be the only way forward if voters tire of obstruction and intransigence from a party. With the biggest party only getting 25% of the vote, surely many different coalitions are possible.

  • Georgia Courthouse is shot up by Sovereign Citizen after GOP backs Bundy, Open Carry
    • I think the argument the US has so many of these incidents due to lax gun control is only partly true. Many other nations also have high gun ownership, although very few would have as many handguns or assault rifles.
      Something in the way Americans relate to and treat each other seems also to blame. In reading blog comments all over the web elements of mean-spiritness, assertions of unbridled rights, violent threats, and contempt for others appear disproportionally from those in the US - and not only from the right.

  • The NSA Effect: China tells its banks to remove IBM servers as Spyware
    • A little hard to take it seriously though. Software is a bigger spyware risk than hardware and Windows is still widely used in China. Back in 1999, Red Flag Linux was touted by the Chinese Government as their replacement for foreign controlled operating systems. Red Flag was wound up early this year with unpaid wages although a usable alternative could easily have been built giving the state of Linux and Chinese resources.

  • Second Libyan Upheaval, this Time Against Political Islam, Extremist Militias
    • NATO mainly bombed some regime arms depots and a few armored convoys.

      NATO launched over 26 000 sorties. Not every aircraft flight was a bombing mission but multiple targets can be hit by a single mission. That figure doeds not include drone strikes or ship launched missiles. They must be a remarkably inefficient military force if all that was required for arms depots and a few convoys.

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  • Dear GOP: Here are Some Basic Real Questions to ask about Benghazi & CIA
    • For real consequncwes in acting as as a front for the Central Intelligence Agency, see the use of polio vaccination teams in Afghanistan. We were so close to eliminating this crippling disease. Now healthworkers are shot as spies and the pool of infection may result in new polio cases spreading around the world.
      Blowback indeed.

  • Boycott, divestment, sanctions movement seeks justice for Palestinians
    • It is more sensible to focus only on the illegal settlements. Opponents will paint this boycott as antisemitism - to which the perfect answer is "We are not boycotting Israel"

      If it is clear the BDS supports Israel's right to existence within secure borders, it can not be demonized and marginalized.

  • Falk: Edward Said was the Palestinians' Nelson Mandela
    • One difference - Mandela did not advocate self determination for the Bantustans but a unified multiracial state where every citizen was equal. The fragmentation of Palestine has rendered a two state solution impossible. Call it Judea and Samaria and admit a couple of million more Arabs to the Israeli democracy. After all, can Hamas be any worse in the Knesset than the right wing parties of hatred?

  • A $9 Trillion War? Top 10 Reasons Americans will Regret it if GOP Derails Iran Negotiations
  • NSA's Zero Day Exploits: Paying $800 mn. to Hackers so they Can Spy on You
    • The files on my computer are my intellectual property and accessing them is theft. If the NSA decides it can steal my property - using Microsoft, Google, Apple and others as its partners in crime - it can hardly be surprising I might take a similar view on accessing American intellectual property without payment.

  • Broken Democracy: Republicans poised to take Senate, Americans Reject their Platform
    • Maybe Republicans are in the majority in the 55% of Americans who get out and vote?

      So many Americans claim they should not be held responsible for the attack on Iraq, NSA spying, climate change denialism and other hallmarks of the Republicans. Time to stop blaming Fox news and start blaming lazy liberal voters.

  • Perennial US Rush to War: Syrian Chem issue was too Foggy to Justify Bombing
    • Joe
      Read the article again and the implications that the rockets were likely to have been fired from non-regime controlled areas and that - once again - in justification to declaring war on a Mideast nation the Secretary of State has made false statements.

  • Apple: We didn't help NSA put the Dropoutjeep Backdoor in our iPhones
    • We had a valuable asset thanks to Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman - a Linux/Gnu open source Linux where every line of code was open. Backdoors could be found and you could even compile everything from readable code.

      Somehow we were seduced by shiny android and apple phones. An open source linux phone may not be as sexy but I think we need one rather than a spy in p=our pockets.

  • India Flap derives from America's Gulag Practices and Far-Right Supreme Court
    • What is really bizarre about this case is how US demands not just its diplomats but also all armed force members overseas have the immunity from local prosecution claimed by the Indian deputy consul,

      American serviceman have raped, murdered and massacred and have had evaded local justice and frequently any accounting for the crime. Whole armies have been withdrawn under the fear US personnel could be arrested by local police. Yet when someone underpays the maid, US justice must come first even when the alleged criminal represents a foreign government.

  • Has a European Boycott of Israeli Colonies in the Palestinian West Bank Begun?
    • It looks as if the Europeans are making a move without waiting for leadership from a US Senate which gave Netanyahu 29 standing ovations. The US needs to be sidelined and defied in this if any progress on Palestine is to be made. Boycotts in Europe - of cultural; ties, trade and air movement - would force change.

      The US is the paralysis since it inserted itself in 'peace making' with ever President since Nixon. Obama is no different - his failure to stop settlements under pressure even while the US Vice President was visiting Israel marked him as a weakling

    • Following the passing of Mandela, perhaps it would be interesting to look back on how the original apartheid state ended. There were boycotts. particularly sporting and cultural but I am not sure what real effect the absence of rugby teams had on white South Africans. The regime looked rock solid and the ANC were dismissed as incompetent terrorists in the early eighties.

      Yet fall the regime did. Perhaps the boycotts worked because they convinced South Africans they were universally regarded as greedy racists who were depriving their fellow citizens of economic and democratic rights.

      There must have been common decency in South Africans to give up economic privilege and allow all citizens to share equally. This decency seems to be lacking in Israel. Perhaps international revulsion might start Israelis on a PW Botha journey.

  • Karzai, Pakistan Protests against US Drone Strikes may force US out
    • Certainly all armies have a reputation for ' killing, raping, looting, pillaging' which is why strong discipline is required. Most Western countries - including those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq - are signatories to the International Criminal Court and their occupation forces and leaders could be prosecuted for war crimes if their own disciplinary procedures are inadequate or not followed.

      The US has vigorously avoided any possibility of their war criminals being judged either internationally or by the host country. Cover ups, bungled investigations and the dropping of charges show the US has no intention of holding its armed forces responsible for war crimes - unless publicity makes mass murder impossible to quietly sweep under the carpet.

      That is the reason the US left Iraq - to protect war criminals from real investigation. The fact is the US armed forces can not operate without immunity for war crimes and that sums up the nature of a US occupation.

  • Scrooge Republicans prefer Pentagon White Elephants to Food Stamps for Poor Children
    • ' perhaps we’ll get a new and more robust progressivism that will change the nation and the world.

      What's up with this obsession to lead the world?

      The US is the most conservative least progressive nation in the Western world. You have yet to manage universal health care or standard holiday entitlements. You have a government of two right wing parties which deadlocks over finance and can't keep to a budget.

      You still measure in feet and pounds, a system dropped decades ago by everyone else. The rest of the world has long since stopped looking at you for leadership.

  • Saudi Arabia in Unprecedented Withdrawal from UN Security Council over Syria, Palestine
    • Being the world’s biggest oil exporter and being one of the most repressive nations on Earth are the Saudi's only claim to fame. With a population of only 30 million, half are not permitted by law to drive or even leave their house without male permission. Religious freedom is specifically prohibited and gays can be executed. The Arab Spring has not touched the foreign imposed royal family who continue to siphon off incredible riches. Indeed, the Saudi military, armed to the teeth by the US and universally regarded as a laughable military force, finds its role in shooting protestors in Bahrain. The Saudis can not even pump their own oil out of the ground, relying on millions of foreigners to do the work for them. Meanwhile they sponsor violent extremists and terrorists.

      The Saudis are on the same track as the nation of Nauru. Why should anyone care what this theocracy does - beyond pumping oil out of their rapidly diminishing natural resources?

  • The American Genocide Against Iraq: 4% of Population Dead as result of US sanctions, wars
    • Tony Blair said in July 2004 that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves, quoting from a USAID website. The same website stated: 'If these numbers prove accurate, they represent a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot's Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.'

      Blair was forced to admit on the facts he was once again far from the truth and with 55 out of 270 mass graves identified, the confirmed toll was 5000. On his opinion though I agree - 400 000 Iraqi deaths are a crime against humanity comparable to Rwanda. Pol Pot's slaughter, and the holocaust. And you, Mr Blair, are one of the prime architects of the slaughter.

  • Top Ten Ways the US and Iran could avoid a Catastrophic War
    • Surely Iran has only to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it has signed? No one has yet shown they have breached any of their obligations.

      The NPT is often seen to be based on a central bargain: “the NPT non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and the NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals”.

      So the states pushing for war are one nuclear armed state that refuses to sign the NPT and another nuclear armed state which refuses to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at their ultimate elimination?

      What is the point of this piece of international law if states in compliance can be threatened by non-compliant states?

  • Now the NSA has your Little Black Book
    • Once upon a time the US claimed to be the defender of freedom and human rights including these as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

      Article 5.

      No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment

      Article 10.

      Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

      After Guantanamo Bay, the US no longer upholds these rights.

      Now Article 12 has been rendered obsolete by the defenders of freedom.

      Article 12.

      No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

      Eleanor Roosevelt will be turning in her grave.

  • Club Dead: EU immigration laws turning Mediterranean into Graveyard- Malta PM
    • I can see the problem but I can’t see a solution.

      The median age in Ethiopia and Somalia is around 17 while in Europe it is close to 40. There are tens of millions wanting to escape to a new life but it will not improve conditions in their home country as they leave as the high birth rate simply replaces them. Several nations – including Ireland – have exported several times their population without having a noticeable change in home country population or living levels. Beyond these countries are a host of others, all with high birth rates and enormous social problems.

      The impact on Europe of millions of migrants will have a massive environmental cost. Europe’s population is not currently increasing and this allows energy use to switch to renewable sources. The growth in human population is the major threat to the remaining wild areas, the quality of air and water, and food security itself.

      How then to prevent illegal migration? Australia tries to intercept boats but is then left with mushrooming internment camps. What can Europe try to do differently – intercept and dump back on an African beach?

  • Snowden: Federal Spying makes us Less Secure
    • I regard my emails, communications and files as my intellectual property. The US government demands I respect the intellectual property of US corporations - while rifling through my intellectual property at will. The spying in Brazil shows a strong suspicion of commercial espionage, using the NSA to favour US commercial interests - so the NSA is not just about protection from terrorism.

      Why should I respect the property rights of US corporations while the US government blatantly steals my property?

  • Libyan Prime Minister Abducted, released by Armed Group
    • During the Libyan conflict the anti-Gaddafi forces were referred to as the Free Libyan Army or the Free Libya armed forces. This terminology is very similar to the Free Syrian Army which is now claimed to be the opposition to Assad.

      The Free Libyan Forces always sounded like a real army with leaders and a chain of command. The present instability of Libya seems to reflect the Free Libya armed forces may have been a collection of militias, each with different aims, and there will be a power struggle for years to come. That may result in a national army and unified state after crushing the militias, a patchwork of warlords, or a negotiated single or multiple states.

      That does not bode well for the Free Syrian Army, as Syria is far more religiously divided than Libya. Has a complex situation been oversimplified again?

    • Cubana de Aviación Flight 455 was bought down in October 6, 1976 causing the death of all 78 on board. Luis Posada Carriles was convicted by a Venezuelan court of planting bombs on a civilian airliner but fled to the United States. Both Cuba and Venezuela have sought Posada's extradition under the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation but the US refuses to extradite a self-confessed and convicted terrorist.

      America protects war criminals and terrorists on American soil if they have killed civilians in a deemed enemy nation, Not so different from after all.

  • World Bank: Israelis strangling Palestinian Economy
    • The Palestinian statehood vote in the UN shows support for Israel confined to the United States and a handful of nations likely to be supporting the US rather than Israel.

      The question is - why does the US continue to blindly and unconditionally support a nation which ignores international law? As you so often document, there is little to admire in this aggressive Middle Eastern state but America's entire foreign policy appears to be dictated by a tiny bunch of religious fundamentalists half a world away.

  • Militant Secularism in the Middle East?
    • You can't create a democratic society operating under the rule of law through a military coup of a democratically elected government. However much you detest Morsi, he remains the only Egyptian Leader chosen freely by the people in a 5000 year history.

      That is why it is an Egyptian winter moving from democracy - however imperfect - to a military regime which mows down hundreds of protestors with machine guns and locks up political prisoners.

      Morsi won at the ballot box. He should have lost at the ballot box, and I remain unconvinced his continued rule would have been worse than the present regime. The claims he was attempting to subvert an election and head a constitutionally illegal government was not true at the time of the coup.

      The coup has probably saved the Brotherhood. Saved them from a crashing defeat at the election where even strong supporters came to realize the Brotherhood were a bad choice to govern. That is democracy - not just electing a government but respecting the votes of others and working to change the next government by voting.

      So now we have an underground organization, stabbed in the back by powerful and undefined forces. Given Egypt's often violent past and an understandable aversion to democratic methods, the coup is a disaster for Egypt and Arab democracy.

  • Top Ten Things Ted Cruz did to the NSA and other Security Agencies that Edward Snowden Couldn't
    • So arms dealers, NSA spies and the CIA have all been curtailed?

      Long may the shutdown continue!

  • Would Israel's Netanyahu really Drag US into war with Iran?
    • An attack by Israel on Iran would be illegal under international law and would make a mockery of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty where a signatory country in accordance with the treaty and verified by international inspection is attacked by another country which has never signed the NPT.

      Of course illegality has never worried the US in the past but world public opinion is changing. The General Assembly vote on Palestine showed how truly isolated the US and Israel are while the intentional support for the US bombing of Syria came down to Syria and the odious Saudi regime. I suspect even less support for backing Israeli attacks.

      Putin played a shrewd hand last time around and in the UN the criticizer of the Russian veto will have to veto any resolution condemning Israeli aggression while facing near unanimous criticism in the General Assembly. Iran could tough it out, knowing there will be no invasion and facilities can be rebuilt. Has US thought through the consequences of a decade long war alongside Israel?

    • I see one of the paths crosses Turkish airspace. If Turkey defended its territory and shots were fired, could Turkey call on fellow NATO members to protect itself from aggression?

  • Why Israel's Plan to Bomb Iran is more Dangerous to Israel than Obama-Rouhani Diplomacy
    • The threat from Israel to attack Iran was always hollow. The plan was always to get the US to attack and take on the risks and considerable costs of a war so as to weaken an enemy of Israel. Perhaps if the US had not been led down that particular path before it may have worked.

  • Israeli Troops attack European Diplomats on Aid Mission
    • I can't see how France could have a diplomat roughed up without seeing it as an attack on France itself. The Israeli Ambassador in Paris should be called in and asked to explain himself and if failing to provide abject apologies, sent home. I suppose an alternative is for a couple of machine toting gendarmes to drag a female Israeli diplomat out of her car and kick her around a bit but France is, after all, not a thuggish state.

  • Iran's Rouhani: Not Seeking the Bomb, Willing to show Flexibility
    • Destroying Iran's capability to enrich uranium would not be easy. Reinforced bunkers, dispersion of targets, overflying sovereign nations and long distances to cover are only the start - as Israel discovered in Lebanon, the first strike could be the start of a decade long war as new facilities are built.

      The chances of Israel striking on its own are low - which is why they want the US doing it. Perhaps they could drag the Americans into a conflict by starting a war but recent events makes this look risky.

  • The World after the Kerry-Lavrov accord on Syria
    • Surely the big winner is the United Nations and small nations everywhere now the concept that wars can only be launched in legitimate self-defence or with the agreement of the Security Coucil has been re-asserted?

  • Arguing with President Putin
    • Putin sure seems to have hit a raw nerve judging by the emotional responses from the US. He has challenged a central tenet of American identity - the notion of exceptionalism, that the US stands alone as a shining city on a hill, a moral beacon for the rest of humanity, and that its sacred goal is to lead 'coalitions of the willing' in forcing other nations to be more like America.

      In this view of the world, America can do no evil but can always be relied on to point out the this year's evil dictator while glossing over the actions of its friend of the moment. Perhaps the definition of evil changes - the KGB's all pervading spying on citizens and holding people for years without trial used to be regarded as human rights abuses when the Russkies did it but turned out to be just good practice for any responsible government. Torture as carried out by the Assads and Gaddafis of the world used to be evil as well, until the US started waterboarding and even sending prisoners off to Syria and Libya to be tortured by true experts. An attack on the city of Falujah using tanks, aircraft, attack helicopters and white phosphorus shells was an exercise of US restraint where civilian deaths - if caused by US bombs - was dismissed as 'collateral damage'. The Western press, embedded and censored within the military, never showed a child's corpse in Iraq or Afghanistan but now compete to show rows of bodies in Syria.

      The Nobel Peace Prize Winner has been shown that not every problem can be solved by bombing it. The vote by the UK parliament may be seen in the future as a watershed moment - even the US's closest ally no longer automatically backs the moral judgements of the US and its violations of International Law on aggression.

  • Syrian opposition may attack Israel with chemical weapons, Asad tells Russian TV
    • "Syria has accumulated since the 1980s a stockpile of approximately 1,000 tons of chemical weapons, stored in some 50 different cities, mostly located in the northern part of the country close to the Turkish border," according to the Israeli based Centre for Counter Terrorism. Yet it is not plausible any of these sites have been captured.

      Thousands of Syrian soldiers have defected - yet it is not plausible even one of these defectors has been trained in launching CW strikes.

      There are stocks of poison gas in Libya, the remains of Gaddafi's stockpile. Yet it is not plausible munitions have been smuggled in with other arms shipments. Nor is it plausible that Iraqi veterans from the war from Iran with experience in launching gas attacks have found their way to Syria.

      A small Japanese sect made and released sarin - yet it is not plausible any of the Syrian opposition forces have the same ability. Nor is it plausible one of the Opposition groups are sufficiently ruthless to carry out such an attack and drag the US into attcking their bitter enemies.

  • President Obama's Doubtful Grounds for Military Action against Syria
    • It also did not display much concern when on November 23, 2012 Victoria Nuland, of the US State Department said in an apparent allusion to Israel that Washington would not support a conference (on a Mideast nuke-free zone) in which any regional state would be subject to pressure or isolation.

  • How Putin Saved Obama, Congress and the European Union from Further Embarrassing themselves on Syria
    • This looks to be a major setback for Obama. After claiming for months we 'had to do something' and the only possibility was to drop bombs, Putin has blindslided him by proposing something that actually deals with chemical weapons and leaves 'Bomber Barack' with little option but to bluster and go along.

      The fishhook is that it will take international inspection and actual boots on the ground to enforce control over chemical weapons. The US won't want its troops to be in Syria under UN control but these are plenty of nations that will step up. Maybe we will see Russian or Chinese troops under a UN flag guarding arms dumps and supervising transfer and destruction of CW.

      The precedent of an International Team with non-US troops and independent verification as a solution to banned weapons will also hamper any aggressive attack on Iran. Game, set and match to Putin.

    • That was the question I was also pondering. When two narratives are put forward by the same players which contradict each other, suspect the stories are justification for previously determined positions.

  • How US Grand Strategy in Syria led to the idea of Missile Strikes
    • 'The chemical attack in Ghouta seems likely a military response to these Jordan-trained, Deraa-based guerrillas coming up into Rif Dimashq.'

      Seems likely? Obama should rush to start a war in defiance of International Law on what seems likely? Surely going to war requires definite proof and some evidence. The recordings of the conversations supplied by Israeli intelligence are an example - where are they? There is not even a transcript. Where are surveillance photographs of chemical units moving into position? And why are we so keen to assign responsibility we can't even wait for the UN inspectors report - even when the team obligingly cut short that inspection under pressure fron the US?

  • On Obama's attack on Syria: Donohue/ Bacevich
    • If Chemical Warfare has been treated as a special horror, a war crime above and beyond ordinary means of war, for 90 years, where was the condemnation when Iraq gassed Iranian teenage transcripts thirty years ago? The evidence then was the West was assisting in providing information on troop concentrations to aid the attack. In Fallujah, the US used White Phosphorus not as a smoke screen but for its ability to chemically burn - an accusation it initially denied.

      Strange also how a claimed breach on International Law on chemical weapons justifies a breach of the International Law on waging war without a Security Council Resolution or a credible claim for self defence.

  • Obama goes to Congress on Syria as his International Support Collapses
    • "We saw with the example of Libya how such a zone is introduced and how such decisions are implemented. We do not want a repeat of this in respect to the Syria conflict. I think that we will not permit in principle such a scenario," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.

      As reported in alarabiya on Monday, 17 June 2013 under heading of "Russia 'will not permit' no-fly zone over Syria"

      After the idiocy of Bush and Iraq was revealed, Obama got a Security Council Resolution and International backing to bomb Libya. It is the actions on Libya, not Iraq, which have prevented action on Syria.

    • How does a local colonel manage to mix too much sarin into crowd control gases?

      Sarin is a highly toxic gas and the process of mixing it with other agents or adding it to rockets or shells is unlikely to be done on the front line and within a regime controlled neighbourhood of Damascus. Surely this is done within a chemical weapons factory by chemists within controlled and ventilated areas and the munitions delivered to the front line?

  • Invoking International Law Against Obama: Old Europe, New Europe and NeoCon Fail
    • This whole fiasco of being unable to deal with possible chemical warfare has been caused by Obama who has painted himself into a corner with his 'red line' and his self-imposed deadlines.

      There are mechanisms for dealing with chemical warfare. There was an attempt to declare a WMD free zone in the Mideast where the US torpedoed further meetings as late as Nov 23 2012, stating the presence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons should be negotiated by regional states. Israel, not a signatory of the NPT was being protected by preventing arms control in the region.

      The UN is presently investigating if the attack did indeed occur. This needs to be impartial, painstaking and absolutely conclusive. Following that, the pressure would be on Russia and other Security Council members to deal with undeniable and illegitimate chemical warfare.

      Obama is shackled by the stupidity of the Iraq invasion. The UN has a similar problem, as the UN declared 'no fly zone to protect civilians' in Libya was interpreted by the West to be carte blanche to be the rebel air force. The Russians were caught on this last time and will be very wary this time around to avoid Western bombing and an aim of regime change in a civil war. Any target needs to be firmly under the control of all five permanent Security Council members.

      The UN has been undermined and manipulated time after time by the west. If we really want a world run on international law the West is going to have to accept limits on its actions. Starting with telling Cowboy Obama to pull back, wait for the UN report, and work WITHIN international law.

  • Military-Ruled Egypt Opposes US Strike on Syria
    • Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama has already bombed Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya and has both Syria and Iran in the gunsights. If the Egyption leaders are paranoid about being just another Muslim state to be bombed, perhaps they have good reasons.

  • Kerry signals US Intervention in Syria, but to What End?
    • If the Assad regime is close to losing the capital it is hard to see how even a few hundred rebel fighters killed in a gas attack would alter the momentum of the battle. It would have to be true desperation as any NATO bombing would prevent troop reinforcements and allow each regime area to be isolated and overrun.

      On the other hand if the war is stalemated and largely off Western television over the last few months, a gas attack blamed on the regime which pulls in NATO is just what the rebels need.

  • Top Ten Things that don't Make Sense about NSA Surveillance, Drones and al-Qaeda
    • 'Yet the terrorist "chatter" level was on the rise again. Electronic intercepts from tapped phones and spy satellites suggested that Al Qaeda operatives around the world were planning something'

      What I can't work out is how levels of chatter tell of an impending attack. If you know terrorists are making more phone calls I can see the reasoning -but if we know terrorists are making calls, then surely we know exactly where the terrorists are and are already monitoring their calls.

      So why are billions of other communicatiuns eavesdropped on?

  • Egypt: Elbaradei, al-Azhar, Leftist Youth Condemn Excessive Force
    • Perhaps a military which overthrows an elected government, calls for street protests and then delibarately kills dozens of street protestors has also over-reached and perhaps even engaged in illegal activities?

  • Dear Royal Baby: We Americans apologize for our Revolution; please be our Absolute Monarch
    • Wasn't the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which attempted to restrict colonial expansion beyond the Appalachian Mountain a major cause of the Revolution? Being held back from all that tempting Indian land was just too much. Kind of hard to admit the slave owning land of liberty was really established so Indian land could be stolen.

      As a reluctant monarchist, I appreciate how a Head of State with no power and an appointed Prime Minister who can be discarded at any time is a better system than American's devotion to your Imperial Presidents. I am asure the Poms could lend you a spare royal -they have a regular plague of them.

  • Detroit's Bankruptcy and America's Future: Robots, Race, Globalization and the 1%
    • A hundred years ago, a large house employed dozens of servants. Some scrubbed and cooked, otherswere for show - lackeys to stand around serving dinner or opening doors to show how rich and important their owners were. Maybe Downton Abbey is really our future.

  • Aljazeera's Conspiracy Theory about Obama and Egypt is Brainless Mush
    • Hasn't Foreign Military Financing from the US to the Egyption military been running at about $1.3 billion annually since 1987?

      The military,from the Mubarek era through to their latest coup are supplied and paid for be the US. Even their overthrough of a democratically elected government won't stop the flow. A few million funnelled to 'democracy activists' is chickenfeed when you are bankrolling the corrupt Egyptian armed forces

  • Middle East Regional Contention over Egypt's New Government
    • No real suprise the Baath government of Syria. the conservative Gulf oil monarchies, an the PLO who have suspended elections since Hamas won are all in favour of an overthrow of democracy. Meanwhile Turkey and Tunisia, both democracies, are critical of the military coup.

      Isn't that the pattern - tyrants for the coup and Arab democracies against?

  • Has NSA Spying Killed US "Cloud" services, Email in Europe, Brazil?
    • Switching from US companies is a good start but we all need to start protecting ourselves. We don't write personal letters on postcards,and we need to enclose email in the same way - by encryption. All cloud data needs to be encrypted as well and IP addresses need to be hidden using a VPN. The free email accounts have a privacy cost and Facebook and other social media need to be dropped.

      Too hard? In a few years,we will wonder why we were so naive. Governments will not stop spying - indeed it gets cheaper and more effective for them every year.

  • Why Cheney is the Traitor, and Why we Can't Believe Obama on Safeguards (The Ultimate Clip of Gov't Lies)
    • So which part of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution prevents the NSA from monitoring every communication originating or ending in Gaza? Or from pulling files or webcam shots from Gazan computers?

      What stops the NSA from passing everything to Israeli intelligence tohelp with arrests and planned killings?

      Foreigners have no protection.T his isn't a domestic story, it is about the global reliance on US technology and how we foreigners must move away from it. The cloud is a poisoned chalice.

  • Its the Corporations, Stupid: Why we are 2nd Amendment Fundamentalists but the 4th Amendment doesn't Count
    • I am not so sure this won't hurt US corporations.

      I am a foreigner and so all my communications can be snooped on by the US govt without restriction. Most governments, corporations and individuals are not in the US but we use American supplied software, servers, services and internet routes. In IT, the US still rules the world.

      Nearly every foreign commercial and government communication is going through a US corporation and they will hand it over to their government without a qualm.

      I think the rest of the world is now thinking this through. Everything we touch can be examined and stopped by a foreign government which at times has been both paranoid and vindicative.

      I expect to see the dominance of US IT (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Skype) to be challenged over the next few years. We simply can't trust the US.

  • Israeli Gen. Charges Syria Chem Weapons Use: Is Israel Allying with Sunnis to overthrow Alawites, cut off Iran?
    • Would Dr Cole like to recap the 15 year Lebanese civil war for his readers and explain why the Syrian conflict will not be as long, bloody, destructive or pointless?

  • Did the Boston Bombing Hurt the Syrian Revolution? Obama & Putin Confer as Rebels Allege Regime Massacre
    • The US had a civil war once which by and large was left to the United States to sort out.

      Perhaps you great gamers might speculate how things might have worked out if European powers had decided to back the Union or the Confederacy - perhaps towards their own goal of creating two weaker nations to be played off against each other?

      Would this foreign backed US civil war be less or more blood drenched? Would one side be more or less accepting of their defeat if imposed by foreign troops? Is there a case to be made for letting a nation find its own solution?

  • Report: Highest US Officials Responsible for Use of Torture (Plus Daily Show Video)
    • Easy to spot the disasters of the past. How about the present mistakes?

      Like supporting the overthrow of a secular Syrian government by an opposition which includes Al-Queda and hoping for the best a free and democratic government emerges out of the bloodbath?

  • Syrian Revolution even Bloodier in March, with record 6000 Dead
    • How about enlightening us on who is supplying both sides of these internecine ethnic conflict despite an arms embargo?

  • Israel Spy Scandal and Press Censorship
    • If you ever thought Mossad were smart, you should read how one of their agents tried to steal a New Zealand passport. They choose a living person who had never left the country, a severely disabled man in care, a despicable action in itself.

      The agent - complete with thick Israeli accent - then tried to pass himself off as someone who had lived all his life in New Zealand. The Police caught a whole nest of them and the Israeli Ambassador - protesting his innocence - was asked to clear off.

      Sadly the embassy is back - and back to old tricks if a report on an Israeli tourist killed in an earthquake has any foundation.

  • America is officially a Center-Left Country (Young Turks)
    • If gay marriage and pot smoking is left wing, why weren't they widespread and legal in the Soviet Union and its allies in the seventies?

  • In Rebuke to Obama, Netanyahu-- Much of Western Europe to Support Palestine as UN Observer State
    • The US did all it could up to the very last minute to keep this from happening. The vast majority of the world ignored the threats and bribes and declared it is not up to the US to control the Israel-Palestine standoff. Since Nixon at least, the US has channeled all talks and by backing one side, has made the situation worse.

      The US is the barrier to peace and progress will not be made until the US stranglehold is broken. The "International Community" has spoken and want the conflict to be resolved through the UN.

    • Leader of the Opposition Mark Latham once said: (Prime Minister) 'Howard has got his tongue up Bush's clacker that often the poor guy must think he's got an extra haemorrhoid'. At least the Australians have moved to the moral confidence of abstaining so as not to offend their 'ally'.

  • Drone, Sanctions affecting Medicine, Intensify US-Iran Tensions
    • Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

      Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

      --60 Minutes (5/12/96)

      Half a million children is seen as a small price to pay for US military domination of the Middle East, as long as the children are foreigners.

  • Top Ten Coming Disasters: Romney's America 2016
    • I really do not care who gets elected.

      Four years ago, most people in my country were excited about Obama and could hardly believe the Americans could elect such a reasonable and liberal candidate after the despised former President.

      What a disappointment. The withdrawal of the troops from Iraq was signed by Bush and the game was clearly up in Afghanistan as well. Guantanamo remains open, the drone war has been stepped up, and after a speech in Cairo, Obama surrendered any criticism of Israel and fell in line with Netanyahu over the state-organized theft of land as soon as any pressure was applied. He has not bombed Iran but that is mainly due to the US Armed Forces recent hard lessons on the limitations on imposing their will on the Middle East.

      We were conned. Far better to have a man like Bush, a US President who galvanised worldwide opposition every time he opened his mouth than this smooth talker with virtually identical policies.

  • Tired of Bronco Bama & Mitt Romney: Sensible but Cranky Little Girl in Colorado (video)
    • I don't live in s swing state but in a country where an election lasts one month every three years. After the world's longest election in the Western country with the greatest number of possible candidates, the Americans finally choose George W Bush. Twice!

      That is hardly a ringing endorsement of your electoral system.

  • A Letter from Benghazi on Crappy Republican Talking Points
    • As an English speaker who is not American, it strikes me that resident of Benghazi uses distinctively American phrasing. Does everyone on Benghazi write as if they come from California or just this common friend?

  • Top Seven Errors President Obama has made on the Middle East
    • "Obama is preventing Iranian banks from interfacing with their counterparts and making it hard for other countries to pay Iran for the petroleum they buy from it."

      The blowback from that policy is to show the US controls the banking system and can attempt to throttle any other nation's trade at any time. That is a threat hanging over many other nations and if Iran can find alternatives to a US controlled system, other nations would be wise to partly follow Iran's lead. Perhaps China could step up to provide finance for international trade.

  • Why they Hate us: Romney Secretly Plots to Screw Palestinians over Again
    • At leaast Romney comes out and says what he intends to do - throw the Palestinians under the bus.

      That has been the undeclared policy for every US President since Carter. The enemy of Palestine is Israel, and time after time US politicians have declared they fully support every action of Israel.

      And Obams is just the same - he simply caved in when the Israelis stood up to him on their contining theft of Palestinain land.

  • Romney & Bush Disappearance (Bill Maher Poster)
    • At least you Americans had a chance to decide if Bush was suitable for President. Most of those of you who bothered to vote supported him. When he launched his crusade of aggression the vast majority of you Americans cheered him on. The thousands of Americans who have died fighting his stupid wars were not conscripts and many volunteered knowing they ware to be part of an occupation army.

      Those outside the US had no such choices. Some drove through streets where trigger happy US troops and contractors shot anyone who may have got too close. Others became 'collateral damage', blown up in their own homes or strafed by sky robots. Nearly everyone outside the US suffered as the greed and incompetence of Americans drove the world into recession.

      So I do not have much sympathy for Americans. You are to blame for the Bush Presidency.

  • Tutu Slams Tony Blair for Illegal Iraq War, boycotts Leadership Conference
    • Among those Nazi war criminals was Luftwaffe Commander Alexander Löhr, whose war crime was the bombing of the city of Belgrade which killed between 5,000 to 10,000. The fire bombers of Dresden and Tokyo and the nuclear bombers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were heroes - Löhr was hung.

      War crimes are only committed by the losing side.

    • Ahh, the International Criminal Court.

      Only last week Hilary Clinton in her usual arrogant and hypocritical style 'mentioned several situations that are under ICC jurisdiction, such as Libya, Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire, and Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Notably, she mentioned the International Criminal Court when she described how the Administration was acting on its commitment to the prevention of genocide and atrocities.

      But of course the US Administration's 'commitment to the prevention of genocide and atrocities' does not extend to allowing its own officials and citizens to be indicted. At least to the credit of the UK Bliar could face prosecution.

  • Romney in the Land of the Anglo-Saxon Uncertain Olympics: Not Ready for Prime Time
    • As a member of the free world. I can't recall ever being able to vote for its leader.

      What is the technical term for someone who claims to lead millions of people who are totally unable to vote them out of office?

  • Could Syria-Turkey Conflict Pull NATO In?
    • If the plane was in International waters when shot down, it would have to be at least 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the Syrian coast. Given the total failure of Iraq and Libya to shoot down Nato airplanes even when hundreds of missions crossed their coast, how were the Syrians able to down a NATO fighter capable of Mach 2.2 at a range well over 20 km?

  • Washington Actions on Palestine don't Differ from Gingrich's Words
    • Perhaps Gingrich is right in saying there are no Palestinians. There were in the past and there was a Palestine - but continued Israeli seizure and occupation may have made Palestine as a self governing territory impossible. The Palestinians have tried violence, negotiation, even a UN vote to create their own state but all have failed.

      Perhaps time to give up the concept of Palestine. Perhaps it is all Israel, from Sinai to the Jordan. That would make everyone in that area an Israeli citizen. Let us readjust our terminology according to Newt - the Gaza War for instance was not an attack on Palestinians but the bombardment by the IDF of a rebellious Israeli city, much as happens in Syria.

      We could stop calling Israel an apartheid state as well. Apartheid relies on 'bantustans', nominally independent homelands for the ethnically different. No Palestine means all live in Israel proper and denial of voting rights, rights of movement and settlement, and family re-unification based on a citizens ethnic background would be closer to a nineteenth century former slave-owning nation.

      The more I think about it, I can't see much worse for Israel than a couple of million Palestinians insisting on full Israeli citizenship. The "Greater Israel' have a solution - ethnic cleansing. Gingrich needs to be asked - what happens to the people formerly known as Palestinians?

  • Fox Viewers think Mubarak Still runs Egypt
    • Would the same ignorant viewers be the most likely to believe Iran must be bombed?

  • McCain Plays Politics with Obama's Iraq Withdrawal
    • There are non-US troops stationed in different countries as peace-keepers and support for local forces. I could give Bouganville, East Timor and the Solomon Islands as examples in the Pacific alone where troops could face a more serious situation than a bar brawl.

      I believe many of these foreign troops are liable to prosecution under the International Criminal Court as well as local laws where a war crime is alleged. Is there anything about the US military which makes such a situation impossible?

  • The Little Iran Nuclear Report that Couldn't
    • The process of creating artificial diamonds mimics the natural process - heat and extreme pressure converts carbon into a different crystalline structure. One way to do this is an implosion, using shaped explosives to apply pressure inwards rather than outwards using a containment vessel. The expertise of this scientist appears to be in this area of mathematics and geometry rather than nano-technology

      An ability to create a controlled implosion is also useful in creating the critical mass necessary to trigger nuclear fission - in other words, to create an nuclear weapon.

      Iran may indeed be moving towards acquiring nuclear weapons but this is not our problem. There is no reason for Iran to bomb Europe and it and the US are both well out of range and could retaliate with overwhelming force.

      Israel has a problem but not an immediate one as Iran is not silly enough to launch a strike on a nation with a reported 200 nuclear weapons. However, capacity for nuclear retaliation by Iran will limit the capacity of Israel to bomb and bully other nations of the Middle East at will.

      Nuclear obliteration of Tel Aviv and Tehran is no-ones interest. Israel is working overtime to get the US and Europe to attack Iran and it is in our long-term interest to lower the risk of a nuclear war.

      Israel has the problem and before we lift a finger to pull them out of the fire their belligerence has caused, we should be setting a few conditions.

      First, Israel must sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and submit to IAEA inspections - as Iran always does.

      Second, Israel must freeze all building in occupied Palestine, agree to secure borders and other issues in this festering standoff so as to create a viable Palestinian state.

      Do that and we will gladly help with any pressure, sanctions and even a bombing campaign on Iranian nuclear sites. Give us a call when you are ready , Bibi.

  • Perry's Lapse likely owing to Bad Faith and Destructive Politics
    • Outside the US, we are wondering how the largest first world nation with an enormous pool of talented individuals and an election which takes up eighteen months every four years can consistently came up with such a bunch of incompetents.

      Even worse, you elect one of them and ten declare him to be the 'leader of the free world.

  • Netanyahu a "Liar": Sarkozy
    • Netanyahu claimed to be supporting the Oslo Peace Progress while undermining and destroying it in a secretive and underhand manner.

      How is that different from Obama claiming to be supporting statehood for Palestine while undermining and destroying it in a secretive and underhand manner right now?

  • Kabul Bombing of US Bus Leaves 13 Dead
    • Am Afghan news agency with a perceptible pro-Taliban bias? Perhaps they should be bombed as Al-Jazeera has been in the past?

      How fortunate we are in having a fair minded and unbiased news source like the NYT who have already assigned responsibility to Pakistan's Haqqani network, described as “a criminal clan, like a Sicilian family clan, who are into criminal activity of all types, drug dealing, smuggling as well as insurgency.”

  • Justin Bieber on Sen. Klobuchar's Criminalization of the Internet: She should be put away in Cuffs
    • One of the conditions of the Australia - USA 'free trade' deal was Australia had to extend the copyright expiration period from 50 to 70 years after the author’s death.

      The push to discourage innovation and creativity by US corporations is worldwide.

  • Is Syria in Civil War?
    • 1,000 battle-deaths per year in an internal conflict in India would be barely noticed while a hundred a year in the Solomon Islands or Timor-Leste would be a major conflict. Surely population has a role in determining what is a civil war?

  • Panetta Slams Israeli Isolation; Is Israeli Policy Destabilizing US Allies?
    • 'take 11% of world production off the table, and the price rise wouldn’t be serial, it would be exponential. (I.e., the price wouldn’t go up 11%, it would go up to like $500 a barrel, compared with $79 now for West Texas Crude).'

      It would not happen because there would be an invasion force in there within a week. That is why the US does not care what the Arabs want - at the worst, they can seize their oil. It would not even require a large force as only the oilfields and terminals need to be seized.

  • Palestine, Bahrain and US Hyprocrisy
    • The last US President was hated around the world and the election of Obama was greeted with such relief he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for no obvious reason.

      As the same old line om Israel, Palestine and the domination of the Middle East is followed, the rest of the world is starting to realize the problem was not and is not the President of the United States, it is the US itself that is the problem. The situation where the 'honest broker' and 'leader of the peace process' stands against the international community to deny statehood to Palestine shows the hypocrisy of the leader of the twentieth century.

      Abbas stood up against "warnings" from the US. Let us hope a few more countries show the same courage.

  • Tripoli Surrounded, Cut Off
    • If NATO are restricting their targets away from garrisons and supply routes to active attackers, television stations, command centres and military hardware, the concentration of those 50 or so sorties per day on the few targets left must be overwhelming. How many more months until there is nothing worth bombing?

    • What is hard to determine in all this is how much of the fighting is actually been done by the Free Libya forces and what motivates Government forces.

      Estimates of Libyan armed forces were 50 000 under arms in 2009, It is hard to estimate present Qaddafi forces - some will have fled, others changed sides, more have been conscripted or volunteered but 50 000 is a reasonable number. NATO strike sorties - that is, a single plane on a single mission which may deliver zero or multiple strikes - number 7 000. Therefore, there has been a NATO strike for every 7 enemy soldiers by aircraft such as the Tornado which has a total bomb load of 9 000 kg and which can let loose with 360 27 mm cannon rounds, missiles and laser guided or cluster bombs. Feel free to correct my estimates of these military forces.

      The open terrain, the presence of spotters and the sophistication of NATO forces would make the air strikes fairly effective, A casualty rate of 30% is regarded as enough to break even a highly motivated force, yet the fight goes on.

      The NATO strikes alone should have destroyed any concentrations or resupply of garrisons. Scattered, short of supplies, and demoralized, this war should have lasted days or weeks, not months as the French Foreign promised on March 24. When the words do not match what can be plainly seen on the ground, distrust the words.

      What is really going on?

  • Rebels claim Leader of Feared Khamis Brigade Dead
    • Your points one to four appear to be in order of increasing probability, and the country is already effectively partitioned between the forces. A partition may eventually lead to a united country but examples through history - Korea, Vietnam, Germany - show unification can take decades, the process can be bloody, and the weakest and most repressive nations can be most resistant to change.

      The example of the Balkans looks increasingly irrelevant to Libya, even allowing for the fact the Yugoslav War aimed to break up rather than unify. After months of warfare, the rebel forces still look a disorganized force. Effective fighting unit are based on discipline, rigid adherence to command structure and the belief those fighting around you will not flee and leave you exposed. The rebel forces act like the mounted irregulars of earlier warfare. leaving the attack to NATO planes, swooping in as bombed government forces flee, and then withdrawing from a determined attack. The population is there to provide the manpower, the weapons are available but the leadership and unity of purpose is lacking. The march to Tripoli is looking increasingly unlikely.

      The chance of this turning out well is not looking good when the best prospect is a military coup. The tragedy of Libya is how the unity of the vote to protect civilians, a milestone in UN resolutions, has been squandered by those who seized the opportunity to pursue quite different aims.

  • Toothless UNSC Condemnation of Syria shows Russian, Chinese Clout
    • The current impasse over Syria is a direct result of the earlier Libyan intervention. An arms embargo and a resolution to protect the death of civilians has become an excuse for regime change, the supply of weapons, and six months of being the air force of one side of a rebellion. The Russians have made it clear this was not what they expected.

      The Russians now are more cautious where their actions will provide an opportunity for NATO to overthrow governments, The Syrian protesters are the victims of Sarkozy and Cameron pushing the limits of Security Council resolutions.

  • Zakaria: Tea Party Tactics Immoral, Dictatorial
    • I am afraid those of us from a parliamentary system struggle to understand the US system. Blocking of budgets and preventing supply of government finances is considered perfectly democratic and legitimate in a Parliament. However, as soon as the Government fails to ensure supply of finance through a vote, the Prime Minister is sacked and the opposition is asked to supply a new government to provide supply. If they can't, Parliament is immediately dissolved and then we have a election. Those who blocked spending then have to explain their actions.

      How long can one group in the US system block the spending of government money?

  • Controversies over Younis assassination in Libya
    • I don't think a former Minister of the Interior in charge of Gaddafi's security forces will be missed or mourned.

      The question is - who killed him? Did Pro-Gadaffi forces manage to kill the Free Libya Head of Staff? Or was his death ordered by rivals in an internal power struggle?

      The double agent theory may be true -in which case he may have been only the most high ranking double agent. Or perhaps Gaddafi has planted that rumour and got rid of an experienced military commander and is throwing suspicion on others.

  • Is the Arab Spring Coming to Palestine?
    • I have often wondered what would happen if Palestinians accepted Greater Israel as 'facts on the ground' through Israeli expansion has hopelessly confused borders. Gaza and the West Bank - plus the parts of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and anywhere else Israel wants to annex - all part of Israel.

      In return, every resident in these areas gets the same rights as any other member of this Middle Eastern democracy - an Israeli passport, the freedom to travel or live anywhere in Israel, the rights to return and live as a resident to their family home, the right to reunite their family, the right to vote and decide on the future of Israel.

      How would Israel feel about 4 million new Arab citizens?

  • Can Bookstores be Saved?
    • When Gutenberg first printed books I am sure there were many who saw this as a shames. Compared with books individually written and illustrated by scribes, the mass produced and identical books were not as aesthetically pleasing and many skilled artisans would have lost their jobs.

      Printing lowered the price of books, making them readily available to many more people. I suspect those bemoaning the loss of book stores live in larger towns and cities as most of the world does not have access to such a store. Now everyone virtually everywhere has access to books which used to be available only to the urban middle class.

      After years of books piling up in my house, most have gone to a charity book stall. I use an ereader for nearly all my reading and with the ability to change font size and obtain nearly every book I want, I don't miss the piles of paper at all.

  • Today's Top 5 Crises in the 2011 Arab Revolutions
    • I thought Gaddafi's forces would scurry back to the protection of friendly cities within a week of air-strikes starting. They must have adapted, dispersing and camouflaging themselves - or NATO is not half what it is cracked up to be.

      Three months in and it is becoming clear what the situation is, Al Jazeera reports a heart warming story about volunteers making pizza - the real news is the pizza reaching the front line from Misrata is still hot.

      Gaddafi will survive this. The rebels are waiting for the air strikes to overthrow him and NATO is waiting for the rebels.

      Every armed force in peacetime has a stock of weapons about to expire and which must be fired or dumped, Once these are gone, it starts to get expensive. Expect some to pull back soon - that is the reason for the backpedaling.

  • 10 Ways Arab Democracies Can Avoid American Mistakes
    • I think the type of government structure largely determines success or failure. A Presidential system where one man is Head of State and political leader has often led to a tyranny. A monarchy or a titular Head of State with a Prime Minister and cabinet selected by parliament has a better distribution of power and appears to have greater success on providing representation.

  • The Audacity of the Gaza Flotilla
    • 'if the United Nations Security Council tells a government to cut it out, and the government continues to kill, the UNSC has the authority to remove that government from power. All this is inherent in the various treaties and instruments signed as treaty obligations by UN members.'

      But the system is flawed because five nations have the power to veto any resolution. That means some war crimes are punished, some ignored and some actively protected. The various conventions are being used to provide justification for attacking and overthrowing smaller nations while other nations can ignore the possibility of Security Council action.

  • House Libya Vote: Anti-War or Just Anti-Obama?
    • The claim is Muammar Qadhafi has personally ordered his troops to rape. The Observer reports:

      "Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty, who was in Libya for three months after the start of the uprising, says that "we have not found any evidence or a single victim of rape or a doctor who knew about somebody being raped".

      She stresses this does not prove that mass rape did not occur but there is no evidence to show that it did. Liesel Gerntholtz, head of women's rights at Human Rights Watch, which also investigated the charge of mass rape, said: "We have not been able to find evidence."

      We have been here before with WMD in Iraq, reported as claimed by politicians, verified by experts, and so an undeniable fact. Those who report such a claim have a responsibility to set the record straight when the story is discredited.

    • From your 10 June blog
      "The International Criminal Court not only has evidence that Libyan soldiers have been using rape as a way of punishing and humiliating rebel populations, it has credible evidence that the policy was ordered by Muammar Qadhafi himself, and that the soldiers were provided with viagra to make them better rapists. "

      Are you going to comment on the report fron both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that after three months by a Libyan- based investigator, there is no evidence of organized Viagra fueled rape and the claim comes back to one Doctor who can not substantiate the allegations?

      All wars are surrounded by clouds of lies. Do you wish to refute those claims shown to be without foundation or do you wish to spread propaganda?

  • Top Ten Mistakes in the Libya War
    • As I am sure you are aware, there are two types of UNSC members. The five permanent members have veto rights which the elected 15 do not have and can block any resolution.

      Are you proposing veto rights for new members such as India, Nigeria and Pakistan? That would make international cooperation on these matters more difficult.

    • I also find it incredible that Qaddafi could roll tanks across the open desert and then concertedly shell noncombatants in cities without it being possible to intervene aerially. If I heard the NATO spokeswoman correctly. there have been 5 000 attack sorties and 20 000 missiles fired in open desert under clear skies by the world’s most technologically advanced air forces over nearly three months.

      That is leaving a credibility gap between claims and common sense. If the tanks are there, why can’t they be destroyed?

      There are credibility gaps all over this war. How long does it take to destroy command and control centres in a nation of 4 million people? Why do Gaddafi’s forces still have the morale and capability to attack after three months of aerial attack? How much actual fighting are the rebels doing and how does it compare with 5 000 aerial strikes?

      If Professor Cole could bridge these gaps, perhaps more of us would feel better about this war.

  • Qaddafi Using Cluster bombs on Civilian Areas
    • If you want a link to cluster bomb usage and the damage they do in civilian areas try link to usatoday.com

      10,800 cluster weapons were fired by U.S. artillery and aircraft outside Baghdad as U.S. forces approached the Iraqi capital on April 7 and their British allies used almost 2,200. One anti-war group calculates that cluster weapons killed as many as 372 Iraqi civilians.

      And the US, along with Libya and Israel, is yet to sign the Convention on Cluster Munitions and does not agree to the ban. With a US stockpile reported at more than 740 million cluster bomblets, one can understand the reason for the US reluctance.

    • From the manager of the UN's mine removal centre in south Lebanon, Chris Clark:

      "Israel fired up to 6,000 bombs, rockets and artillery a day into Lebanon during the 34-day conflict."

      He also claimed "Up to a million cluster bomblets discharged by Israel in its conflict with Hezbollah remain unexploded in southern Lebanon"
      link to news.bbc.co.uk

      To compare a handful of mortar shells fired in Libya with the Israeli onslaught is stretching it a little. While the Israeli attack was going on, both the US and the UK opposed a ceasefire - until Hezbollah's militia had been disarmed or removed from southern Lebanon.

      According to the nations currently bombing Libya, cluster bomb attacks are sometimes a war crime. sometimes self defence.

  • Benghazi Rejects AU Plan to Leave Qaddafi in Power
    • "According to Dr. Muhammad el-Fortia, who works at Misrata Hospital, medical facilities have recorded 257 people killed and 949 wounded and hospitalized since February 19, 2011. The wounded include 22 women and eight children, he said."

      Actually - Dr. Muhammad el-Fortia reports 257 killed but does not report a single civilian death. Of the wounded and hospitalised, just over 3% were women and children.

    • "257 people killed and 949 wounded and hospitalized since February 19, 2011. The wounded include 22 women and eight children"

      In a city of 300 000 shelled indiscriminately for 2 and a half months, only 30 civilian deaths? Roughly one civilian every three days - that sounds about the everyday and years long level for Gaza.

      And does the term 'human shield' only apply when they are blocking our bombs?

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