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Total number of comments: 847 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:39)

Travis Bickle

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  • Now that SecDef thinks Israeli Occupation is Apartheid, will the Lobby Blackballing Fail?
    • Mathis wasn't the only senior military person who dared to speak to this obvious truth, as military people who pay the price have to deal objectively with such cold, bloody realities. Seems to me David Petraeus said something very similar in a similarly matter of fact way.

      It will be very telling whether these two putative leaders-of-men, along with their Commander-In-Chief, are going to be ready to go against this particular power, or whether they will all be brought to heel.

      If these three people cannot stand up to the Lobby, they will have shown themselves as the spineless creatures they really are, effectively deferring their judgement and the best interests of the US to the desires of another country and/or its agents.

      A very fine case could be made that Israel and its agents operating here, directly or indirectly, represent the single biggest danger to US national security this country has.

  • 5 Trump Headlines more outrageous than the "Hamilton" Tiff
    • Regarding the charges against Bannon of anti-semitism, the fellow is actually an ardent Zionist.

      You see, for a significant segment of the alt-right movement its all about ethnic nationalism and purity (of essense?) In the same way that those in the alt-right have a White Christian vision for American, so does Bannon respect and emphatically support the agenda of the Israeli Right for an ethnically pure Zion. This has become a wonderful way for Bannon et al to have their cake and eat it too.

      What this means for Jews in America I don't know, but they should think again. They probably think they can manage 'them' through 'him' via Kushner, as alluded to above. Ah, the hubris.

  • Will Trump do a deal with Iran or try to Overthrow its Government?
    • It seems like I heard Iran is exporting that heavy water, which is allowable and it's never been a secret, nor has it been objected to on that basis. It seems to me this sort of alarmist, planted 'news,' is what we have come to expect from the WSJ.

    • This comment reminds me of one I made about Obama some time ago, seeing him as a smart outsider who'd finesse the various players all (so very obviously) out to manipulate him. Especially after the Generals early on boxed him in on with their 'options' in Afghanistan it seemed he'd learned his lesson and would go all rope-a-dope with the Usual Suspects. (Maybe that's what happened, at least in FP, where he's endeavored with some success to not do any stupid s--t.)

      Another poster memorably derided my thinking, that Obama was playing some sort of 3-dimensional Vulcan Chess with those guys. It occurred to me that I wasn't wrong, but that he was more right.

      In business, especially the Big-Ego, Super-Entrepreneurial milieu he inhabits, the Players (as they fancy themselves) operate out of power, constantly dancing and weaving, looking for an opening to strike, not unlike a boxer. Trump has never used that metaphor, but he has spoken of attacking in negotiations from a position of power, pressing on every front, making up new ones as possible, never giving on any point until you get the deal you want. Great article on the psychology he has demonstrated over the years from Dan McAdams at Northwestern link to theatlantic.com

      Anyway. His appointments will be telling, but established advisors (Kushner et al) more so than those like Christie, who he will certainly throw under the bus whenever it becomes expedient. Compared to his own role, none of these other guys will even register. In an joint appearance some months ago, Trump's contempt of Christie was palpable. Trump may be an actor, but that was no act. And when it gets right down to it, outside of (maybe) his immediate family, nobody really registers that highly.

      Ultimately, it seems to me, for The Donald its all about The Donald. He's going to be doing this thing by Zen, just like he has run his businesses. It will be for better or worse, and the odds given his preparation and those posed against him, are for far, far worse.

      Whatever the case, as McAdams holds, he's the type to swing for the seats, better thinking be damned, so we need to hold onto our own.

    • This comments remind me of one I made about Obama some time ago, seeing him as a smart outsider who'd finesse the various players all (so very obviously) out to manipulate him. Especially after the Generals early on boxed him in on with their 'options' in Afghanistan, it seemed he'd learned his lesson and go all rope-a-dope with the Usual Suspects. (Maybe that's what happened, at least in FP, where he's endeavored with some success not to do any stupid s--t.)

      Another poster memorably derided my thinking, that Obama was playing some sort of 3-dimensional Vulcan Chess with those guys. It occurred to me that I wasn't wrong, but that he was more right.

      In business, especially the Big-Ego, Super-Entrepreneurial milieu he inhabits, one operates out of power, constantly dancing and looking for an opening to strike, not unlike a boxer. Trump has never used that metaphor, but he has spoken of attacking in negotiations from a position of power, pressing on every front, making up new ones as possible, never giving on any point until you get the deal you want. Great article on the psychology he has demonstrated over the years from Dan McAdams at Northwestern link to theatlantic.com

      Anyway. His appointments will be telling, but established advisors (Kushner et al), more so than people like Christie, who he will certainly throw under the bus whenever it becomes expedient. Compared to his his own role, none of these other guys even register. In an joint appearance some months ago, Trump's contempt of Christie was palpable. Trump may be an actor, but that was no act.

      Ultimately, it seems to me, for The Donald its all about The Donald. He's going to be doing this thing by Zen, just like he has run his businesses. For better or worse, and the odds given his preparation and those posed against him, are for far, far worse.

      Whatever the case, as McAdams holds, he's the type to swing for the seats, better thinking be damned, so we need to hold onto our own.

    • This comments remind me of one I made about Obama some time ago, seeing him as a smart outsider who'd finesse the various players all (so very obviously) out to manipulate him. Especially after the Generals early on boxed him in on with their 'options' in Afghanistan, it seemed he'd learned his lesson and go all rope-a-dope with the Usual Suspects. (Maybe that's what happened, at least in FP, where he's endeavored with some success not to do any stupid s--t.)

      Another poster memorably derided my thinking, that Obama was playing some sort of 3-dimensional Vulcan Chess with those guys. It occurred to me that I wasn't wrong, but that he was more right.

      In business, especially the Big-Ego, Super-Entrepreneurial milieu he inhabits, one operates out of power, constantly dancing and looking for an opening to strike, not unlike a boxer. Trump has never used that metaphor, but he has spoken of attacking in negotiations from a position of power, pressing on every front, making up new ones as possible, never giving on any point until you get the deal you want. Great article on the psychology he has demonstrated over the years from Dan McAdams at Northwestern link to theatlantic.com

      Anyway. His appointments will be telling, but established advisors (Kushner et al), more so than people like Christie, who he will certainly throw under the bus whenever it becomes expedient. Compared to his his own role, none of these other guys even register. In an joint appearance some months ago, Trump's contempt of Christie was palpable. Trump may be an actor, but that was no act.

      Ultimately, it seems to me, for The Donald its all about The Donald. He's going to be doing this thing by Zen, just like he has run his businesses. For better or worse, and the odds given his preparation and those posed against him, are for far, far worse.

      Whatever the case, as McAdams holds, he's the type to swing for the seats, better thinking be damned, so we need to hold onto our own.

  • Neofascist Trump Appointee Bannon: "Anger is a Good thing" "if you're Fighting to Take this Country Back"
    • "Chief Strategist", would mean the Vision Guy. Or more aptly, given his recent history with the Trump campaign, the guy who serves to translate it into actionable tactics.

      To anticipate what that will entail for the country going forward, look to these people's past behavior and the strength of their commitment and focus.

      We all need to back up, take a deep contemplative breath, and then look very coldly at the reality of things. It could be possible that everything Trump has said and done to-date has merely been to manage and channel the anger of the right in order to get elected. It could be that his intention is to rebuild an inclusive society in the best interests of all, following a conservative America-First agenda (versus a more liberal and idealistic one). That would be to misread Trump, and the commitment, focus and vision of those he is empowering.

      Even people who do not label themselves as 'progressives' assume a more or less liberal or conservative path forward. Anyone can look back over history and see how things have progressed and improved to this point (more or less, with the inevitably ebb and flow of the economic tides). This is hardly a given, however, and it would be an especially naive expectation in this case.

      Trump will have the opportunity to repack the courts in a far more 'conservative' mold, more than is needed for his agenda, given the absolute power he will soon consolidate over the legislative and executive branches. We can expect him to choose the youngest, most ideologically pure and driven supplicants that Bannon et al can dredge up for several SCOTUS replacements. To expect him to water-down his choices to reflect the face of America or to maintain some philosophical balance is delusional: he wants to remake America in a way that CANNOT be changed. So, ask yourself what he will do: this is not a guy with a modest, inclusive vision. If anyone thinks his general vision is anything other than what he has consistently presented they are delusional. To pursue anything else, for him, would be pointless.

      Look to the facts (which I don't know for sure), about shifts in the state legislators which could give Trump an opportunity to remake the Constitution itself.

      But, whats really needed to confirm the realities here is to look closely at these early hires. The political appointees will take a few months after inauguration to find their offices, then weed & re-staff them, before doing anything dramatic. So, there should be a little time when you can read the writing on the wall by looking at the behavioral history of this gang. But it should be very evident, and is clear from these early picks. Don't kid yourself, a next shoe will drop and it's going to drop hard.

  • As Der Donald-inspired Hate Crimes grow, US Universities at Risk
    • The fundamental economic issues really are what's at stake with this election, and that ultimately becomes a matter of values and whether the vision for the contribution of a school like Michigan can even be recognized.

      R1 schools have to balance books by becoming R&D outsources, with profs chasing grant dollars to pay their own way. That's making them 'prove their worth like a business'. A far more difficult proposition if you're a history prof, I'd imagine, than for a cousin in zoology who gets those big fat easy DARPA dollars for research into animal hibernation that might (somehow?) be applied to stabilize bleeding wounds in battle, for example.

      So, foreign students are a profit center, along with profs/administrators with rain-making and grant-development skills. If you're interviewing a prospective asst with those skills, who needs to vet their research or teaching? Without THOSE dollars coming in the school has to become more 'market sensitive' in other ways, perhaps competing with the more purely vocational schools for the those who see universities as just a place to learn a trade. And they're not wrong: think of those big new business and engineering buildings.

      One always serves ones constituency. When there's an elite with a balanced view things work out for everyone far better. With the values of a neoliberal plutocracy you're asking problems; going to the other extreme doesn't improve things. This business of representative democracy really needs to be rethought.

  • How can Progressives get through the Next 4 Years? Organize!
    • Checked-in after a weekend tear, we now receive news of Trump's first two hires, declared as co-equals, in Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus. Since cabinet nominations must wait until inauguration and Pence is already on-board, let's review Trump's most telling and critical first moves (e.g., core-staffing):

      BANNON, is a leader of the alt-right, a White Supremacist movement, and he is to be 'chief strategist.' That would be the Vision-Guy.

      PRIEBUS, waffled diplomatically throughout the campaign, leaving himself just enough room to take this post. As a back-bench politician, Power is evidently his ideology. What's telling is Trump's choice of him for COS, clearly as a tool to identify and co-opt those in the GOP who can and will help him. It's a purely utilitarian hire.

      PENCE, as VP (and COO designate), is a proven and proud Christian Supremacist. Trump earlier said he had no more intention of directly managing the USA than he would any other organization he controls. Such policy and administrative work, he says, will go to someone with appropriate political experience and dispositions, and Pence is to be that man, in charge of Domestic AND Foreign policy.

      In fact, Trump also says he will be watching the operation closely to keep things on-track. But his statements and actions are all fully consistent with how any decent CEO consolidates an important new acquisition. And as EVERYONE with any real corporate experience knows, after the hiring and orientation of new executives phase is complete, the next step is the deep purge and restructuring.

      Get ready. There's nothing here that hasn't been seen with great consistency post-election in many other countries.

      Not to put too fine a point on it, and I don't know the details (tell me I'm wrong, please), but I gather that GOP wins in 35 state legislators is putting them within constitutional amendment passing range. Add to that the legal support they'll receive if its needed in passing more accommodating laws, by having someone in Scalia's seat on SCOTUS who isn't so liberal (!)

      Of course, Trump may not really want to do all that he says. But, does anyone want to bet on that, when he has the power to do every bit of what he says and more?

      This isn't do go all The Sky Is Falling in effete helplessness, but rather for everyone to simply sober-up, smell the coffee, and look as objectively as possible at the facts. Within a couple weeks we will all need to begin to execute on appropriate planning of our own.

    • PS::::

      Just to get all practical about this practicality, in case anyone here is disposed to try their luck (tempt their fate?).

      This guy Micah Lee at the Intercept has a number of indispensable technology self-defense articles for aspiring activists. Drill down into their website for related articles; I don't know that its 'all' one would need, but it would be a good start.

      Take good notes; the game is very much on, and it is a serious one.

      link to theintercept.com

    • See my comments above. It doesn't take a weatherman to see which way the wind is blowing.

      Actually, the breeze started some time ago: arguably 16-25 years ago (citing Juan's neoliberalism argument). The storm is only now rolling in. I was thinking it'd be mid-spring before Trump's appointees were in place to begin doing what their wont, but this is wrong: at the local level any number of well-equipped and highly-motivated forces are already ready to go at the slightest excuse. That would be...now.

    • And, what this presages for 2020 is what's truly scary. Trump was limited by his capabilities in this campaign to the media; next time around he'll have the whole national security apparatus at his fingertips, and he'll have proven and reliable stooges in place, like Guiliani and Christie, who will be just aching to use it.

      If his efforts aren't showing promise, he can arrest whomever he wishes for material support of terrorism, or twist some other half-forgotten and disgraced law to suit his purposes (e.g., the Espionage Act of 1917), following the direct precedent set by Obama in squelching whistleblowers.

      The playbook for aspiring Presidents For Life is well-known and developed. The traditional (first) move that comes to mind would be a 'state of emergency' on some pretext, delaying elections indefinitely. The options that follow that will all be rather straightforward. All that is needed is his disposition and the infrastructure for broad scale suppression, and he'll have all that In Spades. All we can really hope for is a (sufficiently) undisputed natural death beforehand, and a lack of sufficient disposition/competence on the part of Pence to carry on his work.

      Have a nice day.

      It's not at all the case that we're in uncharted territory here. If one really feels the need to get all intellectual about it, what'd be interesting is a historian's comparison and contrast of how other authoritarians managed things when they got to power, and some ideas of how to finesse and manage these historical tendencies.

  • Why the White Working Class Rebelled: Neoliberalism is Killing Them (Literally)
    • Getting back to the neoliberal economic policies that have been moulding the US and the world for a few decades, now finally coming home to roost...

      This election should be seen and taken in context of other rebellions, namely Brexit and the recent Greek elections, as well as how the politics are shaping-up for elections in Italy, France, and Germany. All are trending similarly. It may actually all be for the best, notwithstanding pain Trump promises to bring, not just on the US, but the world.

      Below is a link to a Q&A with a couple profs at Brown that's incredibly worthwhile. Mark Blyth has been sounding the alarm on neoliberalism and bankster looting for years; Wendy Schiller is your classic Democratic apologist ("our messaging was all wrong," etc), whose pleating is painful to watch in its meandering cluelessness. Especially so when sitting next to her is a guy who so cogently lays out the realities of things: why the results of this election were no surprise and are part of something larger. It's a telling juxtapositioning.

      link to youtube.com

      Schiller blathers on-and-on, which is painful, so you may want to just go to Blyth's remarks (roughly at 13-19;33-43)

      Especially, his summary at about minute 19 is striking, where he notes that in 2015, total bonuses to Wall Street (NOT SALARIES), totaled $28.4B, while the total SALARIES paid to minimum wage workers totaled $14B. Its a rather telling factoid, but listen to everything he says...there's not a wasted word and its a powerful off-the-cuff indictment.

    • This assumption/issue is at the heart of what is in store for the world going forward. No one was less compromised coming into the office than Obama, at least in modern history, and he was hamstrung from the word go; Trump will be even less encumbered and doesn't give a flip for making nice. That's the good news.

      An accompanying question will be how well Trump manages to re-orient himself from a screw-them-all campaign which he didn't (really) think he'd win, to a presidency he'll take seriously, making decisions in the best interests of the country (by whatever lights).

      It's a HUGE assumption he'll make that adjustment at all. At which point we'd finally get to your point. Only then do we get to contemplate the true agenda and its very real ramifications, should he seriously and effectively begin to follow through on his many very, very significant threats.

      An awful lot of assumptions, and an awful lot of downside.

    • So, let's get at the elephant in the room.

      Intellectualizing the 'why' is a first step toward reconciliation with the evident reality of things, but it ignores the underlying issue and premise of our thinking:

      Can the people, through a democracy of this nature, responsibly care for itself?

  • Die-Hard Trump Supporters want to *be* Trump
    • OK. But you still haven't explained why his followers at this point still extend well beyond the red-neck and wannabe set. HRC has her own significant demerits. And, has been noted, empowering someone who will prove ineffectual in office may be better than giving the job to someone who can implement their vision. Burrrr.

  • Whose Fault is Trump? Top 7 Culprits
    • Your top three are symptomatic of media irresponsibility. It'd be useful to pick at that subject a bit: it seems to distill down to basic capitalistic (human?) instincts that may be irredeemable.

  • The Presidential Debate that did not really Happen
    • Having made the conscious decision not to watch or listen, I wonder if the net effect on the undecided was acquiescence to The Bully.

      I gather T was able to dominate through the lameness of Holt's "moderation." Had he actually been able to bray longer and louder and talk over H, he'd be perceived as a winner. The substance of the matter simply does not matter.

      This is the way the lizard brain works, and I suspect those able to transcend this impulse have long, long ago thrown in their lot with HRC.

  • Colonial Slow Genocide: Palestinian Leader Abbas asks Britain for "Balfour" Apology
    • It's great that you are, once again, raising this issue. A review of the rather damming historical context is especially apt and I know you can (because you have) gone quite a bit deeper, since the usual suspects have practiced answers (albeit hasbara) to all this.

      It's worth adding that they're counting on the world just forgetting whats going on. This is evident in how the pace of settlement encroachment ebbs and flows with the amount of distraction provided by current events.

      Hence, throwing a spotlight on whats going on when NOT provoked is the way to go.

  • Why the Boeing & Airbus Sales to Iran are a Big Effing Deal
    • There is a domestic role for certain sizes of airliner in a country as large and (under) developed as Iran, in addition to a external role connecting it commercially with the rest of the world.

      It was interesting to note Iran's recent decision to pass on acquiring the "heavies" designed for the latter role, presumably leaving that job to existing world carriers.

    • It's an illuminating insight that politics at this level is distinguished from mafioso coercion by nothing more than a more polished and self-righteous style coupled with an abiding concern for the optics of public relations.

      Still, recognizing that, it is a reality that if, especially through insistence over time, you can create a reality. Those who dispute you lack the same sense of destiny, have other things to do, and their increasing silence ultimately communicates consent.

      Note, as a prime example, the relentless consistency with which Israel has managed its colonization of the WB. The transparency of their strategy and tactics doesn't obviate their strength or efficacy. Where would you place your bets?

    • I think we can guess with some confidence. It'll be another clue to a greater threat to US national security and interests than Iran.

  • "This Parrot is no More": The 2016 Presidential Election did not Take Place
    • Bolstering the unreality of the reality of things, Trump has a VERY real chance of winning this thing via the electoral college:

      link to politico.com

      While this article shows the plausibility of a Trump pathway to victory, the mechanics of how things would unfold over the next 6-odd weeks is quite real, given how it'd play to the weaknesses of the system's design.

      Politico's swing-states voting laws will vary, but by district, precinct or country there are winner-takes-all accounting practices that could lead to a winner-take-all allocation of electoral votes. Hence, by strategically appealing to a relative handful of critical voters in the right areas of the right states, Trump might well be able to tip the balance in his favor against the majority of the voters in that state.

      This would be nothing more than a more consciously and strategically implemented scenario than what we saw in Florida in 2001. Campaign strategists have always taken this approach, but at this point in time the technology allows allows for executing such a strategy far more deliberately.

      HRC is of course free to combat him using the same tools and techniques and she is undoubtably doing so. The point, however, is that this election is not necessarily going to be about whether the people overall want to choose Trump, but rather the decision may go to who maneuvers the legalities of the contest with the most guile. And on that basis its a very, very open question of who will prevail.

  • Clinton: No US ground troops in Iraq, Syria; Trump: Steal Iraqi Oil
    • The more I think of it the more I think there's something to this. The way Trump is alienating people he wouldn't be able to get as much as a reasonable ham sandwich out of the White House kitchen. Assuming the institutions, including the kitchen as a very legitimate example, retain their self-respect, he stands to be totally hamstrung by the foot-dragging and mis-understandings. It's also true that the only "real" power, approaching the sort of dictatorial stuff falsely attributed to the presidency, resides around extreme executive action/foreign policy action, but he'd have to find and empower enough well-informed and experienced supplicants to even pull that off. OTOH, Hitler managed adequately with the German general staff, so Trump's election would hardly be a reason for complacency.

      Before this thread closes, I notice how HRC bailed on a 911 event for....Pneumonia???? Don't think this thing is in the bag for her just because everyone agrees The Donald is a buffoon. The lesson of history, world and personal, is that in circumstances involving the heaviest of stakes and the strongest of wills seeking to manage events, absolutely anything can happen within the space of 60 days.

    • HRC is bright, incredibly well-connected and well-prepared, at least in the sense of being bought and paid for. So, its no surprise her talking points could've been written by Bibi and Salman: they effectively were. The same is impossible not to see with the issue of financial reform, albeit she is being managed with a more subtle hand. In fact, a fine case could be made that she is the most compromised and fettered presidencial candidate we've ever had, certainly in the last 100 years.

      OTOH, Trump is nothing other than that rich, belligerent blow-hard down at the end of the bar.

      Here's a thought: HRC knows the system. She can and will work it for her masters (notice the effectiveness of Obama, possible the LEAST compromised president in memory). Trump is not so compromised. He questions assumptions; he'll shake things up, but only to the extent he can, and that's key. Because the checks and balances of the various bureaucracies CAN effectively neuter or otherwise manage someone that uninformed and inexperienced.

      First, do no harm. Institutional momentum can be dangerous, but when effectively managed by someone who is as totally comprised as HRC?

      Once you get past how appalling Trump is as a person and representative of the US in the world, the actual prognosis of his presidency may be better than with Clinton.

  • Saudi Bigot-in-Chief Declares Iranian Shiites "Not Muslim"
    • The historical development of religions offers the power of legitimacy to politicians who exploit it with the most skill. So, while your comments are well-taken the evolution of these conflicts has always stood to managed.

      This seems a classic case of the Saudi's working to exploit an existing crack for their own selfish geopolitical purposes. These differences are real, but to a great extent they seem to have been exacerbated.

      What seems to be new here is how transparently self-serving the rhetoric has become. Is the Saudi clan getting close to going over the top, to the point it will become counterproductive to them?

  • The Plague of Karimov's Rule in Uzbekistan
    • And as it inevitably goes south given all the combustibles created over the decades, it will present yet another opportunity for HRC's not-so- latent Methodism-inspired humanitarian inclinations. This is not to mention its geopolitical positioning on the underbelly of the Russia or the special relationship with the US you mentioned, which at some point we "cannot betray."

      In a nutshell, it's a classic trap in the offing. The good news seems to just never stop coming.

  • Near-War: US Planes almost tangle with Syrian MiGs, which bombed area of US troop Embeds
    • I don't know whether its your point, but the AUMF would have to be stretched with some talent to cover the scenario cited by lester. When you do seek legal cover, lawyers can be found to deliver: think John Yoo. My thought is that "legality" often amounts to contrived rationalizations to gain moral high ground.

    • If the Syrian SAM system lights up US aircraft? Make that if it's the Russian system. Way too much room not only for error but serendipity. One junior officer on either side pushes a button and a number or other buttons will be pushed within seconds.

      Tonkin Gulf was contrived and in a literal fog as I recall, and no US servicemen where killed. In this case the whole 10 seconds will be captured.

  • Sanders: Aetna's Obamacare threat shows what Corporate Control Looks Like
    • One has to stand back and perhaps simply recognize that things like public utilities and basic universal healthcare provide a rudimentary and fundamentally necessary basis for overall economic development.

      Otherwise we inevitably get the predictably monopolistic behavior of the US healthcare industry. The cost/benefit results achieved by the US trail every other country in the developed world, putting us on a par, in terms of longevity, at or slightly behind Mexico. As the demographics skew increasingly toward the elderly, the drain on the US economy will only get worse.

      One of the problems is that many of those who have come to have influence in the GOP are psychologically invested in our health care system. Driven by zero-sum mindsets based on a sense of scarcity, depriving others is the only way to scratch the itch of their insecurities. See Trumpism. Another problem is Americans attitude toward mortality: better health habits along with not trying to prolong the misery of old age, once people get to that point, would reduce an incredible amount of the costs now being run up.

      That it is in Americans own enlightened self-interest to observe the examples of the rest of the developing world is a hard idea for many to get their heads around, much less when it comes to following someone else example.

  • A Sucker is born Every Minute: Our Election From Hell
    • You might try reading Matt Taibbi. Like Thompson, he's found a friendly outlet in the Rolling Stone. Some folks like Pepe Escobar, but he really isn't nearly as discerning or perceptive and Taibbi's analysis usually runs a bit quite deeper, the considerable quality of his rhetoric aside. He somehow makes you laugh at the sheer profundity of current events.

  • Google Sparks Outrage by Abolishing Palestine on Maps
    • .....Thanks, I really did need that.

    • . . . The deletion would not have been the direct action of middle level executives or producers, as is the case of slanted coverage in day-to-day media productions, but more likely a matter of sincere "concerns" voiced over cocktails with wealthy benefactors and other would-be patrons at some social function or the other.

      Senior executives on the make in organizations like Google, The WSJ or McGraw-Hill, have gotten to their positions due to their sensitivity to the concerns of those who can do their careers good. When the most subtle of such concerns are raised about this or that map or coverage there is no real discussion; they are merely observations that these executive supplicants know precisely how to respond to. After all, its no skin off their nose to throw the interests of Truth or the Palestinians under the bus when the potential for their career with such a new-found friend is at stake. Returning to their offices, these guys make similarly subtle observations to their aspiring middle managers and voila, things happen.

      Money, as a vulgar reflection of the operative underlying power these people yield, talks. You can kiss that map, or any other element which so eloquently makes its case, good-bye.

  • The Bernie Sanders Miracle: American Crowd in Brooklyn Cheers Palestinian Dignity
    • I really like the green graphic showing the growth of Israel, which speaks very eloquently. It's small wonder you've used it several times in posts like this, which go far to educate people to the realities on the ground.

      It may be a bit off-topic, but notice how less than a month ago Zionist apologists managed to have McGraw-Hill scrub this very graphic out of a major textbook.

      link to consortiumnews.com

      The point here is how well-organized these people are, and they are relentless. It would be a mistake to underestimate their power or the lengths they intend to go to have their way.

  • How Turkish President Erdogan went Wrong: Dividing and Not Ruling
    • Thinking this over, it seems increasingly clear that when you're a country like Turkey, in proximity to the vital interests of a country like Russia, you need to move very, very carefully. They may no longer be a Superpower, but Russia as a country isn't about to let some punk do something like this to them.

      Speaking of hubris and his old friend nemesis, Erdoğan seems to have been too big for his britches for a while now. Not necessarily internally, but in terms of his overall ambition and arrogance. There are others like Franco who have managed to keep such a game going, but their actions with stronger powers showed appropriate humility.

    • An interesting take from the chessboard perspective, although things here may be a bit more nuanced yet (this is Byzantium, after all). Still, methinks there's a lot of truth in the picture you sketch: Recep Bey is nothing if not a shrewd and opportunist guy. And, most importantly, he is also arrogant enough at this point to have had that plane shot down. But arrogance unleashes comeuppances, and he can only hide behind NATO's skirt tactically.

      What's interesting is how this gambit stands to backfire on him, and massively. Putin's own situation requires him to be tough, as a reflection of the Russian peoples growing pride. To have Turkey do something like this on the heels of the Sinai shutdown is intolerable, and Russia will have satisfaction. But, having mulled the matter over, and factored in its critical geopolitical interests here—which are massive—Russia may have must decided to have that dish served cold.

      MAYBE Putin intends to get even with Erdoğan, and address Russia's longer-term best interests, by working actively and aggressively to see him disposed. Turkey's current politics are not what Russia would prefer, and enfranchising the Kurds certainly would be.

      Turkey is a country whose importance to Russia cannot be taken lightly, and I don't think the current moves from Russia against Turkey will be their last.

  • Abortion Clinics, White Christian Terrorism and GOP Candidates
    • Its all always been about Power.

      And in a practical sense nothing defines your power other than whether others have more/less than you do.

      With exceptions, women are socialized to seek the protection of men, with relatively more Power, whether it was from lions and tigers and bears, or not having enough money to send "their" kids to good schools and otherwise live the life to which they are accustomed (or would like to become accustomed: ambition is another, not unrelated topic). Men respond to this same need in their own way, due to their own exigencies.

      Whether we're talking about division of labor, or just who is the parasite, whenever a man and woman come together you will have a certain type of conflict; when any two men come meet there is another type. What matters is how these things are managed. This extends to relations between states when you think about it, and it's at the heart of what motivates people (individually or collectively) to do all the counter produce and irrational things they do.

      Because, its all about Power. And even at that, it doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense.

  • Netanyahu taps Squatter who called Obama Muslim hate sympathizer, as he demands $5 bn./yr. from U.S.
    • You forgot to mention how he'll wave around that $5B he shook the the US down for, in return for Israel's acquiescence on the Iranian deal.

      As you say, it's all a rather transparent show.

  • Bush Sr. Blames Neocons for Ruining W.'s Presidency: Is he Warning Jeb?
    • Pt 2 — I'm glad Prof Cole has gone ahead and delicately nudged up against the edge of the Jewish-American link to all this perfidy. It's difficult to do given the skill and alacrity with which "anti-semeticism" and associated memes are deployed by this small cabal of informal conspirators as a defense. It is astonishing how powerful such a small group of easily observed and nameable individuals can have.

    • Pt 1--- If you say something with enough adamance and for long enough, for decades if necessary, it will become the common wisdom. In minor matters with less actively associated dispute this sort of dissimulation may only take a few weeks. Therefore, as the neocons have learned, you can indeed make your own reality, at least as far as how history is commonly viewed.

      These guys have learned the same phenomena can be applied toward the present with a eye toward shaping events in the future. Managed correctly this process is a matter of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. If bungled, go back to twisting history and try again, which we've seen since the events of 2003.

      Hence, the importance of putting-up that statue of Cheney, and the endless rounds of GOP-driven Reagan Worship we see that fly in the face of the real history of his record. Realists will fight some battles, but they cannot be everywhere, so the neocons approach their little problem with a subliminal stream of background distortions to frame perceptions to the benefit of their long-term agenda.

      Unless the other side of the story puts at least as much energy into their own narrative of events on each and every possible point of contention, over time the warped view becomes the reality.

      Actually, I think it was Hitler (often mis-attributed to Goebbels) who first came to understand how things worked along these line. For more about how closely the neocons are to fascism take a read here:

      link to consortiumnews.com

  • With Iran deal, & Russia in Syria, is Israel being Boxed In?
    • A couple comments: one in agreement to the much under-recognized reality that Bibi must indeed be speaking for the Israeli people. Even if their support is tacit, they are still effectively supporting him. That the Likuk is ruling as part of a coalition doesn't diminish this, as shown in the polling to which Bibi responds very adroitly.

      I could be wrong, but my understanding is that the various foreign agent control laws (lame though they are) are finely written so as exclude Israel.

    • I find that thoroughly consistent with Israel's subtle use of what is basically nuclear blackmail. It's the leitmotif of Israel's influence over the US, with all due respect to AIPAC.

    • A boxed-in Israel does appear to be where we may be heading. And in that context Netanyahu's remarks may make a bit of sense as he speaks to reassure.

      In your link, he is only noting that Israel has always been maintained from a position of strength. The money quotation being, “In the face of this changing world, Israel must be a power. Not just a regional power, but in some spheres, a world power,” the key part being..."in some spheres."

      It's possible a single person is crazy, but Israel as a whole is not. And its strength must be to leverage what power it does have. In terms of return on investment, this means having developed the intelligence assets to shape the foreign policy of nameless countries which are indeed more powerful. Its most powerful agents will in many cases be nominally unwitting and totally legal, by virtue of the good work done by others to shape the laws allowing a freedom of action not enjoyed by other services.

      More blatantly, this means developing a big arsenal of sophisticated thermonuclear weapons; not just the nukes that could be used defensively to destroy an airbase or column of armor, but those needed to vaporize major cities.

      In addition, develop ICBMs to deliver these weapons around the world; not just the intermediate range missiles to reach Tehran or Karachi, but world capitols like Washington and London. link to en.wikipedia.org

      Speak softly and carry a big stick, or as the need arises be a little less diplomatic about your capabities behind closed doors. You know, just to let your "friends" know how you're feeling.

  • Aqsa Crisis: PM Netanyahu wants Israeli Forces to use Live Fire against Rock Throwing Demonstrators
    • I really hate to take the bait and respond, but encouraging the world to tune-out and let them have their way is clearly what Israel is seeking and part of their plan.

      Note two things:

      One is how Israeli actions along these lines are modulated, ebbing and flowing depending on world attention at the moment. It is not unlike the way a Boa Constrictor will pause to wait for its victim to relax just a bit before reasserting itself.

      The second is deployment of the magic word terrorism™, which you can count on being used to shut up third parties, like this website, when Israel shortly (and predictably) begins to actively target and kill the rock throwers.

      If you haven't been listening critically to the background noise, there have been a series of semi-subtle Israeli government statements recently in preparation for "defending" themselves against such resisters. You have to admit, blaming it on terrorism™ should work, in that it obviates the need for any sort of proportionality and due process (what? against terrorists?)

      Like I said, the strategy, as it were, is to get people like readers here to tune-out in disgust, or otherwise "just get used to it." Another contributor here once used that phrase in reference to Arabs/Palestinians coming to accept the Israeli presence, as though that were all there were to it. It strikes me this is now a well-rehearsed general purpose line we can also expect to hear a lot more of.

      Lie, Distort, Smear, Conquer; Squeeze and Repeat.

  • Islam Hysteria: 14 yr old Muslim Student Invents Digital Clock, is Arrested
    • Here again you have some interesting factoids that could be highly relevant if they and a little encouragement make their way into the right ears.

      Namely, if you have a couple links about how this kid's options have been cut-short, that would create a harm that someone like ACLU could use to sue and push back at such craziness in the courts.

      If there is to be progress along these and similar lines (I'm think of the Stephen Salaita case), it is more likely than not to come through litigation leading to a relevant and substantial judgement.

      Whatever we might have to say about there being too many lawyers, they're the people with the wherewithal to hope to do much nowadays.

      Rolling things back through progressive politics? Dream on.

  • Is the Obama Admin. pressuring CIA to paint a Rosy Picture of War on ISIL?
    • My point would be, having only read how these orgs work, that analysis is what it is at any one level. Each level adds to it, including the (hopeful) wisdom of policy makers, who have to read it in context of their own plans, based on relationships with foreign policy makers and what have you.

      When analysts are leaned on, that's one thing; when their work is put into a broader and more pertinent perspective by other analysts or policy makers that's another. The cherry-picking and abuse of analysis back in 2003 was a disgusting sin; but that's different than good-faith bad judgement or incompetence. In the case of Bush and Co, they were guilty of everything.

      On reflection, I wonder if the publicity surrounding this isn't a tactical move by GOP operatives in preparation for 2016, to bolster the "everyone does it" case when people bring up 2003. This complaint apparently arose from the ranks, and my third point was based on having met a few of these people, who tend to be proud and sometimes a little bit narrow.

  • Whether Jewish Refugees in '30s or Syrians today, USA Falls Short of own Ideals
    • Mention of Germany, and the repercussions on them with a population of some 80 million taking in 800,000, makes me wonder about Turkey.

      Turkey is about the same same size as Germany, with 75 million people, and the UN has documented about 1.5 million refugees so far. These are drawn heavily to the big population centers to the west of the country. I am told those UN figures do NOT reflect people who didn't register at major crossings. Although only anecdotal, the conventional wisdom is that the true number is closer to 3 million. In these major western cities it feels like 50% in a typical working class neighborhood.

      This plays into Erdoğan's politics in various ways. He is doing a variety of things to integrate these people, often it is felt to the detriment of native Turks. Recently the minimum wage was cut, for example, which is attributed to a newfound excess of labor.

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  • Obama 1, Netanyahu 0, as Dems & Public rally to Iran Deal
    • The history of the relationship with Israel, at least since 1967, has always been that of a huge and ongoing shake-down.

      Along these same lines, the money Israel "paid" in compensation for those they killed on the USS Liberty in 67 was also, indirectly, US tax dollars.

      Some underemployed economist out there ought to do some Present Value calculations of how much each US citizen has paid, depending on their age, for our largesse over the years. Not saying it'd every be published, realities being what they are, but it'd be an eye opener and it might get posted here as a guest piece....

  • Egypt's al-Sisi and Putin Pledge Common Front against Terrorism
    • There we go with the "T" word again. That would be Terrorism™, in case anyone hasn't noticed.

      So, let's try to get our arms around this slippery little pig once again. "People we don't like," or perhaps "people who make us (the status quo/establishment) uncomfortable."

      Or better yet, lets not even try. Anyway it's defined could either be used to reflect on us (a state institution, as al-Assad is now finding), or fail to apply to someone else we want to delegitimize.

      When its necessary or useful to inflame people or otherwise manipulate hoi polloi, just have our person say the magic word in an over-loud, wavering tone, preferably with bug-eyes and a little spittle, to make sure everyone Gets It.

  • Is Israeli military using Barak in struggle w/ Netanyahu over Iran Deal?
    • We may all be too enlightened to hunger for a fight the way neocons do, but you'll notice how tough it is to avert your eyes and thoughts from what simply will not happen as long as even half-sane heads prevail. (Big caveat there, I know, and on countless occasions responsible people have been known to put too many combustable materials in the wrong place, unconsciously inviting totally unnecessary, that a then inevitable, initial implausible disasters happens.) These sort of natural apprehensions create opportunities: in fact, over time trillions of them.

      The THING to watch here then, and why there is all this HOT, anxious air, is MONEY. As I commented on this blog a long time ago, all this noise coming out of some gulf states and Israel is about SHAKING-DOWN the US, consistent with their entire history. With the gulf states there will be money to be made by US industry, but the concessions they'll press for (and stand to get, as this wasn't a plan they just cooked-up a month ago) will be qualitative. Ditto for Israel, but they'll want it essentially for free. Seems like I read where there was talk of Israel now pressing for B-52's.

      No. This deal is going to go through, because it will hurt the US even more than Israel (that is, their way of Doing Business) if it doesn't, and the World will make the deal work as long as Iran can hold up its end. What remains is for the various third parties to take the US for every dime it can, and these people know how to play this game (review the history of how much the US paid for the "success" of Camp David, which was in both Egypt and Israel's best interests before they decided to shake down the US to "make it possible").

      Still, pay attention to the positioning now underway to extract INCREDIBLE amounts of money from the ever pliant congress, in return for "allowing" just enough votes for Obama's veto to hold. They'll take all those concessions AND use the next president (of whatever party) to threaten the agreement, at which point they'll shake us down for more.

      This is a long-standing and consistent pattern of behavior.

    • I agree about the ingeniousness of these leaks. Barak is a relatively subtle guy and this appears to be part of a larger game. It all rather reminds me about how he orchestrated the process at Camp David II with leaks.

    • We have to be careful to appreciate how little their differences may be outside of the conflict between their styles, personalities and ambitions. There may be generals who have an enlightened perspective of what is in Israel's best interests, but underneath the veneer of conflict over the Bibi's crudeness I'm not sure they are in that much disagreement. Isn't it as a matter of political expediency that Barak has always positioned himself immediately to Bibi's left?

      Barak in his actions has shown the same ruthlessness as Bibi, although he seems to have a slight appreciation of subtlety (Bibi setting a low bar). His withdrawal from Lebanon, for example, seemed to be a rather cold tactical calculation for its affect on Camp David II. One can actually argue that Bibi has been more effective, the question being about the longer run.

  • Barak-- Netanyahu was on verge of Attacking Iran 3 Times 2010-12 (Why Listening to him on Iran Diplomacy is Daft)
    • Here's a thought worth polishing and spreading:

      That the concern of the US and the world (although they cannot say so) is not so much that a nuclear armed Iran might someday attack Israel and further destabilize the ME, but that a nuclear armed Israel is now ready, able, and rehearsing their plans to attack Iran with even more dire fallout.

  • "The Iranian Threat": Who Is the Gravest Danger to World Peace?
    • That Cruz is a smart guy there's no question, as shown by his honors graduation from Princeton and Harvard Law, and from clerking at the Supreme Court. He has the tools to make a compelling case and rally support from any position he chooses.

      The side he has adopted, it strikes me from his words and deeds, is the one calculated to accrue to himself the most personal power. For some people that's what its all about.

      The modern GOP is based on the manipulation of resentful, uneducated and backward people, and Cruz has the intellectual background (in spades) to lead such natural born followers.

  • No, AP, Iran doesn't get to Inspect its own Nuclear Facilities under Deal
    • Correcting an inaccuracy issued in Good Faith is one thing, but this strikes me as an example of indirect Bad Faith manipulation. I'd call a spade a spade. If one did a forensic examination of what led to inaccuracies in the AP story I suspect it would not be due to simple careless reporting. My criticism here is that you're being too polite, but maybe that's to the best...

      This seems like a good place to leave a positively affirmative post from a prof at Tufts about the Iran deal:

      link to dissidentvoice.org

      It boils down to observing how if the deal is torpedoed and the US duly manipulated into bombing Iran, it will have irredeemably consolidated the rest of the world (due to cold, hard, economic interests), against its blatant and totally irresponsible imperialism. This case will be merely the limb that breaks the camel's back. At the end of the day it'll work out for the best.

      If the deal is successfully implemented it'll be the end of Business As Usual for Israel, and the other way it'll be the end for the US as well.

  • New Poll: only 1 in 4 in US want more American involvement abroad; Cuba & Iran lower on List
    • The news that needs to be faced here is that with JEB you may very well be looking at the next POTUS. Just saying.

      The good news is that having seen him in action for years, one cannot help but be impressed by his political skill, brains, humanity, and a bunch of other stuff you want to see in a President. (I suppose we need to make the caveat here about just how much a President can really effect things, given the momentum of events, political pressure, etc. Starting wars is easiest thing they can do. See how much Obama has really been able to do). So, in theory there is hope.

      Other good news is that all hopefuls have to play to their base for the primaries. For the GOP that includes kissing Sheldon Adelson's ring. As an experienced Pol he's saying what he has to do and doing what he has to do, trying to leave enough room so he (hopefully) can squirm out of whatever he may say.

      The real problem here is that after a couple years repeatedly saying what he must say, and thinking what he must think to create an effective reality for others and himself (the first person the salesman must sell is himself), he starts to believe his own BS.

      At that point he becomes the New JEB, adapted and refined for the purpose of his betters in 2016, and the personal ability to make a real....difference.

  • How the Israel Lobbies hurt U of Illinois-UC & 1st Amendment (Salaita Case)
    • Finklestein didn't get fired. He was denied tenure due to a campaign, not unlike the one against Salaita, led by Israel's chief apologist/lawyer, Alan Dershowitz. Hence his career in the US was effectively ended, and he decided, like Salaita apparently, to seek employment away from the long arm of the lobby, in Turkey.

      NF was a trouble-maker since his PhD program at Princeton, and unmasking what Israel has been up to put a big serious bulls-eye on him. It was a wonder he lasted as long as he did.

      For the full story see:
      link to en.wikipedia.org

      VIEWS themselves can be tolerated as long as they aren't heard or don't have any impact, and mere comments won't get you the star treatment he received. The trouble was that he was articulate, in a position to be heard, and applied facts, evidence and scholarship compellingly. What he did was a lot more than a few inflammatory tweets. He got to like sticking it to them early on, and became quite good at it. Prof Cole is a paragon of restraint compared with Finklestein.

      If you must choose one of his works, try Beyond Chutzpah:

      link to amazon.com

    • You're touching on an important point, or should I say tactic?

      If you pay attention during the credits of indie films, and especially documentaries and political films such as Michael Moore's, you'll see a surprising credit in many of them: The Koch Foundation. "Why" you may ask?

      Any topic or endeavor, much less something that is not politically mainstream and harmless, must be managed by other means. If you are in development work for such a venture you take the "gifts" where you find them, no strings attached, right?

      But budgets, expectations and plans become based on these people's largesse: you become accustomed to the Koch money. This did not happen accidentally. When the timing is right (for them), you can expect a very polite telephone call, where concerns will be shared.

      At UI-UC there were would've first been some polite concerns expressed through the donors contact in the university's development office. Then the powers that be within the administration would've had concerns shared directly ("in passing") with them at social functions. Administrators are nothing if not sensitive to their various constituencies, so that would usually suffice. It's only when these actions didn't get the expected traction that you will begin to see all those calls and emails.

      The point here being that most management of this sort is accomplished successfully with a softer hand. For every Salaita there are any number of others who have been eased out, or back into line, without their (or our) awareness.

    • The best thing for the plaintiffs, and for all of us really (given how this case represents only one tentacle of influence), is to under no conditions settle. Settling would allow the various miscreants to slither back into the shadows, safe from the unmasking they now face. The more this whole dirty mess is exposed the better, and it appears the rot runs deep.

  • If it's going to push us to War, is it time for AIPAC to register as foreign Agent?
    • A fuller post would be better. But, in short, if US cannot back this deal for whatever reasons, and then continue to back it, then even if Iran lives up to its part, it will be far easier—very arguably inevitable—for you-know-who to manipulate us into "surgical" air strikes, and whatever unpredictable events that follow.

      Especially after the next election the US President (whomever) WILL have been totally bought and paid for by who-know-who, and the camel will have his nose, as well as his head and most of his body well into the tent. Even in the best case scenario this is going to be a closely-run thing.

      Read the text of Obamas speech at American University for a coldly diplomatic, and pretty convincing assessment.

  • Obama Says Netanyahu’s Interference in American Politics “Unprecedented”
    • Me thinks smoked salmon has an agenda. Without quibbling on these posts, I'd refuse the bait. It is worth remarking how much of full-court press is emerging against this deal; and it doesn't strike me as grassroots.

  • Obama: Opponents of Iran Deal are Warmongers
    • You know, Obama may have gotten to the point where he simply decided to finally Speak-To-Power, as they say when refering to more obvious mortals.

      He does have a superior soapbox, and he stands to yet do a lot of good by calling the various Players out directly. You'd hear a very telling conversation if this sort of tactic were done right.

      Contrast, for example, the perspective and impact of the above post by Dr. Cole, with the one below: link to examiner.com

  • Iran Deal: The Calculus of Power in the Mideast just Changed Forever
    • Now, re-reading this and other posts and thinking about it more, doesn't this perhaps represent a genuinely real existential threat to Israel.....that is, Israel's traditional way of doing business?

      With the enormity of what is really at stake, and Israel's political momentum and record of action, we have to ask ourselves to what lengths they would go (perhaps aided and abetted by the KSA) to stop this deal.

      And be prepared.

    • In the spirit of "Iranian Relations with the US for Dummies," this is terrific. The thing about the Dummies series is how well they get to the essence of their subject.

      Here, the usual problems with communication are compounded by extraordinarily smart, committed, and well-connected people doing everything they can to confuse what's going for reasons having nothing to do with peace or the best interests of anyone, except the right wing of Israel and the Gulf oligarchs.

      Quibbles might be made on the margins, but overall the time put in to produce this was a real service.

  • Turkey's new "war on terror" mainly targeting Kurds
    • This is the conventional wisdom of the educated left: he's aiming to provoke the kurds, which would allow him to more fully mobilize, and probably extend the reach of, the AKP. Even if they don't take the bait, Erdoğan knows how to sell red meat.

  • Trump Swiftboats McCain the Way W. Swiftboated John Kerry
    • Oh, I'd say this was really more of a garden variety slur, without the calculation, guile, creativity or chutzpah of a Rovian assault. After all, where was the third-party follow-up and what would his intention have been? Trump is just another spoiled child, who has learned that raising his voice and being outrageous draws attention. That's as far as his aspirations really stretch.

  • Your Fourth of July and My Fourth of July
    • People WILL proliferate, somehow, through some sort of adaptatıon, to a poınt anyway. Nature really ıs very objectıve and ıt has all the tıme ın the world. But that's another subject. Adaptıng to some vısıon of past balance and harmony I can buy, and wıll. But I'm goıng on to ıt, not back to somethıng that never really was.

    • Yeah, yeah, yeah. But neither you or I has a sense of all this stuff beyond such nostalgia references.

      Not to say I don't share your pain at the way things or going versus the balance that was, but this vision really is nothing more than an abstraction for any of us. And whatever nostalgic memories you or I may have for some better time are just that, and they're not terrible accurate either.

      People will adapt and proliferate as they always have. And those countless teenagers of today who have no sense of any environment other than the island of a faceless mall in a ocean of cheap track-homes are no less content than their great grandparents who may have had all of nature outside their backdoor.

      There are practical things that stand to be addressed so the following generations can have a reasonable life by some reasonable definition, and pining for such old days that never really were is not only effete, but pointless.

  • Michael Oren, Neo-Orientalism and the Ghost of Edward Said
    • Speaking of needing an enemy.....the very next post gets at the quandary of choosing one. Should it be Russia or China; ISIL or AQ? There seems to be no possibility of rationality when it comes to mobilizing a constituency.

      link to juancole.com

    • Orientalism was a dense book, a lot like this posting, where its worth getting to the heart of what Said was trying to say. The clip is the best distillation I've encountered.

      Its more important, however, to back-off and look at the criticism Brumberg is making of Oren's criticism of Said. Creating an "other" to oppose, as a bête noire, is indispensable in helping people to define themselves (WE are not like THEM), and on a larger scale it is what empowers Imperialism. This is a strategy that empowers things as inconsequential as small town football rivalries, but it is also a key tool for Zionists, which people like Oren have mastered and wielded relentlessly over the decades.

      However many years ago Said died, and however few people actually slogged through his book, it does attempt to expose the realities of how even a small nation is able to divide and conquer through fear of the unknown. It's extraordinarily telling when a guy like Oren now resurrects Said's book to create a straw man, in order to indirectly manipulate the people who now advise Obama.

  • The Great Wall of Turkey? Ankara imagines DMZ w/ Kurds, ISIL
    • Good point. I've heard estimates of up to 3 million Syrians in Turkey, which Recep Bey has gone out of his way to accommodate in terms of social services, student access to universities at the expense of native citizens, etc. This, in a nation of roughly 75 million.

      Recep's history and commitment to Islam is long and open to be judged. He was jailed back in the 1990's and while he may be some flavor of Islamist, he couldn't be further away from having a Salafist vision (IMHO).

      I read today there are hints of a coalition forming, following the repudiation of the AKP in the recent elections. If this becomes a relationship viable enough to allow for pursuing the objective best interests of the country, short of empowering anyone's particular vision, it would be almost too much to hope for.

      Turkish waters run deep. Due to its geopolitical positioning as well as its cultural nuance, it'll be hard to overestimate its regional potential. Especially if Turkey chooses be become more active—in its own self-interest.

      This what kills me about the US, and comments from various quarters about Turkish policy. None of these characters has the wherewithal to second-guess what Turkey is choosing to do and why, and its ridiculous to confuse it's best interests and those of the US, of all people. Aside from this posting's scenario, which isn't that bad, the comments I generally see are appallingly ignorant.

    • There was a rather dramatic Turkish foray into Syria a month or two ago to retrieve that old Ottoman tomb (nothing to do with Atatürk), which was on a Turkish enclave island, some 20-odd miles inside Syria. A footnote, as I recall, from Sykes/Picot. Anyway, the Turks were in and out in a matter of hours and re-interred the guy in territory adjacent to the border.

  • It isn't Israel that is being "delegitimized" but the Occupation of Palestine
    • This response reflects a superficial understanding that borders on childishness. In fact, your first paragraph made me initially think you were just being sarcastic. True hasbara is far more nuanced and educated generally, so I think your comment is a sincere one.

      Combined with your knee-jerk supposition that your post had been deleted, it seems to me what you really want and need is to be educated respectfully.

      With that in mind, you should search this website for its many posts discussing the facts of the history to which you allude. Don't put so much weight on opinions unless you understand the biases of the people speaking/writing. That is, you shouldn't just swallow what the Israeli or Arab media feed you. You should base your understanding on FACTS taken from primary sources. There will still be shadings of gray but the patterns of behavior on all sides has been very, very consistent. If you are able to approach this little study with an open-mind, as "an anthropologist from Mars," you will reach some very unambiguous conclusions that are different from the opinions you are now clinging to.

    • Delegitimizing the occupation ipso facto delegitimizes those who implemented it. Discourse along those lines really is an existential threat to Israel.

  • Donald Rumsfeld Blames Bush For Iraq Democracy Fail
    • The problem with these guys is that they're presenting nothing more than righteous invective: they're not doing/saying anything to change anyones mind or unmask the truth.

      What they (and others) need to do is stitch together a few succinct, in-your-face videos, which will put the lie to the mealy-mouthed doublespeak we can expect to see much more of as we get into this election cycle.

      The neocons could at one time get away with this sort of thing by insistently repeating their lies. A simple, well-produced 30 second ad (or video) showing what people like Rumsfed said then, and what they're saying now, could stop them cold.

  • Fighting for Privacy, Two Years After Snowden
    • The distinction, such as it is, is how the INTENTION of the governmental is to development systems to target individuals, depending on the policy or whim of the moment (Obama's very phrasing regarding the use of these tools, along with drones, by policy, effectively dispels any notion that they are governed by law).

      While at some point private industry could do the same thing, personally we simply do not mean anything to it. All that matters to business is how they can manipulate us, and those sharing our profile, as a group. Unlike governments, they have absolutely no interest in developing the systems to abuse their access to you personally, or to devote the exorbitant amount necessary to do so. In the worst case, they are not going to sic a drone on you. (?.....)

      Now, if you consider where these two sets of interests overlap, namely in managing elections, and you really do have the Mother of all Nightmares.

  • Adelson Tabloid slams Obama for Listening to 'Court Jews' in Questioning Israel's Credibility
    • Maybe his intention was to rhetorically build on that old chestnut about "self-hating jews" who don't get with The Program.

  • Thank you, Edward Snowden: An End to General Warrants as so-called PATRIOT Act expires
    • The older emails they can just shuttle over to the British, where a quickly written subroutine can then let them access it indirectly. You know the respect these guys have for the letter of the law, let alone its intent.

      This particular episode is meaningless in itself. What stands to hopefully make a difference on the margin is the awareness of what this all portends, once it fully sinks into the consciousness of supranational elites outside the beltway.

    • I am far less sanguine: this is all pretty much eyewash. The NSA will bend the law and its intent to do what IT wants, because they are "the good guys" (in their eyes, which is all that matters). Rand's theatrics and this particular sunset are really just symbolic of something irrelevant: they are only serving to make the people think something has been accomplished, as illustrated by the upbeat tone of this very posting, when nothing has really changed.

      For a realistic assessment about how meaningless this development really is, see the various coverages at Techdirt:

      link to techdirt.com

  • Why does the Iraqi Army Keep Running Away from ISIL?
    • Doesn't your question really beg the issue of motivation?

      It seems to me that small groups of highly motivated fighters operating under the flexible direction (or something short of direction) of creative and entrepreneurial generals, would run circles around whatever cut n' paste, by-the-numbers army might be "stood-up."

      "Stood Up" is the actual phrase used internally amongst those responsible for fielding the Iraqi army, and it seems to inadvertently speak volumes.

      There is a place for organization and planning, but it always boils down to fighting and dying for something.

  • Who does Jerusalem belong To?
    • I suppose its just the wacky, starry-eyed idealist in me, hoping that while our politico's will need to be practical and do whatever their masters tell them, they really do know better and will do what they can to hold back on this one symbolic thing....

    • Important point, since changing the embassy's location would be a final tacit acquiescence to the obvious Israeli agenda. In negotiations Israel brings to the US for more substantive things (money, arms, pardoning Jonathan Pollard), they will usually introduce this issue as a bargaining chip. It's an apparently unimportant and innocuous item, but keeping the embassy in Tel Aviv serves as a way for the US to demurely defy the authority the Likud otherwise exercises over US policy and actions.

      America does not rule Israel by fiat

  • Death Sentence for Morsi: Egypt's Junta takes another step toward being N. Korea
    • "Fast becoming an international pariah...."?

      That may be an interesting supposition and phrasing. To the extent Israel has already succeeded in making itself a pariah in the eyes of most of the world, and is full well getting away with it. All with the complicity and support of the US.

      Without the diplomatic and financial support of the US, indirectly including the absolute necessity US politicians must prop-up Egyptian autocrats, the internal contradictions here are mind-boggling.

      How much US assistance for additional security, as well as propping-up of the Egyptian economy, will be needed to offset their backwardness? All of which is necessitated by these other.....obligations....of the US.

  • HUGE WIN FOR PRIVACY! Court Rules NSA Spying Is Illegal
  • Bush blames Obama for lack of Wars ('Follow-Through' on 'Threats')
    • The pathologies that could be explored here are too deep, messy, and altogether too depressing to get into very far. He'd be a fine subject for one of those forensic psychologic profiles the Intelligence Community has done on foreign leaders by 26 year-old graduates with undergraduate degrees in psychology and a crash 6-week course administered by some retired military policemen cashing-in on their security clearances as contractors.

      In fairness we'd first need to excuse the unhealthy Daddy Issues driving Dubya, which are shared by pretty much anyone of ambition. For the purpose of this display, simply note the stark projection of his own inadequacies.

      As he slunk off to Texas the Boy's shame was evident in the skulking posture of his rounded shoulders. It's still there in this clip, as he visibly holds himself up to deliver what is a transparent piece of grasping self-validation, consistent with his remarks about how only history could judge him, and how the jury was still out on George Washington's presidency.

      This whole business is Pathetic. Better not too look, but to just flush and forget.

  • How U.S. will monitor Iranian ships in Yemen
    • The presentation has a degree of nominally impressive technology but is short on any sort of critical substance. It's an example of spoon-feeding that must, pretty much by definition, reflect the audience it is purporting to inform.

    • For the uninitiated, this is a reference to how the USN Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Buried below the main story is a fitting epilogue for American Exceptionalism, with details of how the Captain and crew not only were excused but rewarded for killing 290 civilians in what was one of the deadliest disasters in aviation history.

  • Khamenei: US invented nuclear Myth; Iran will Never Invade another Country
    • What's good for the goose is good for the gander:

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Iran's formal answer to your question would be the same as Israel's: they're for launching communications satellites.

      The fact is that neither of these countries can be trusted. Unless, of course, one subscribes to the notion of responsible white races that can be entrusted with such things versus the Mud Peoples. File that dubious assumption to a number of others under Israeli Exceptionalism.

      No. Even history cannot be trusted, much less the word of any one person (or a policy position) which can be changed on a whim. But that doesn't mean you don't pursue a meaningful agreement that is less than perfect.

  • Juan Cole: Syria, Yemen Conflicts only seem to be about Sunni-Shiite from 30,000 Feet
    • Great article! Worth passing on to anyone susceptible to sound-bites and MSM oversimplification.

      Is there a link to the post/article you wrote noted early in this interview, "Could the Arab World live with the Iran Nuclear Deal"?

  • Iran: Putin Explains to Israel's Netanyahu: Air Defense System is, like, Defensive
    • It would be more true to say nothing can be "purely" defensive if it serves to frustrate an opponent's plans and limits their options. Not that I have any special sympathy for Iran, or Israel.

      It's also more than hair-splitting to differentiate between "defending" the possible development of a nuclear weapon and "facilitating" the path to a weapon's development.

      Words make a difference if you're in the reality business. Nudge the shading of a word here, and one on the next line there, and you can develop some rather breathtaking scenarios and rationalizations. For example, just listen critically to pretty much anything Netanyahu says.

      The fact is Israel has always had plenty of options for dealing with its neighbors and its rather threadbare legitimacy, which could have been better enhanced over the past 50+ years if it had not pursued its offensive options, empowered by twisted rhetoric, with such enthusiasm.

    • Thanks for catching my mistake. Amend that to read: "anti-semitic™".

    • Methodology makes all the difference, I agree. We'd hope the polling being used by decision makers is better, assuming their actions should be driven by polls at all.

    • That was early nineties, immediately post Gulf War I. At the time the American administration was so flush it even tried to push Israel around.

      With all due respect to Wolfie, he I believe he also said he thought they'd have 5-10 years to get the job done. This atmosphere seems to also have generated the clean-break memorandum and all the glory that was to follow.
      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • It's hard to say any one Glenn Greenwald posting is more exceptional that the others, but todays was a doozey:

      link to firstlook.org

      It is a discussion of a new poll showing how many Americans would put the interests of Israel BEFORE those of the US.

      It's hard to get more profound than that. With the logic that drives this fealty it isn't hard to imagine how Iran improving its defenses could easily be sold as an existential threat to Israel.

      Color me anti-Semitic, but I think there really is a serious national security threat to the US in the Middle East, and it isn't Iran.

    • From a strictly pragmatic POV, however, these missiles might significantly impede the or-else provisions of a potential agreement. This adds significant power to the arguments of those trying to destroy a deal.

      As I understand it, a properly drawn agreement would give the West a year to "do something," before Iran could come up with a weapon. Notwithstanding other Iranian defensive capabilities, this deployment might effectively neuter the kinetic options the Usual Suspects are so fond of.

      Russia really doesn't need this deal, having a realistic and balanced view of the Iranian Threat (sic), unlike the US, which will sacrifice its self-interests to those of third-party nationals. It also serves Russian interests to have the US pre-occupied with Iran, if not bogged down in direct conflict, as they pursue genuinely critical interests they have in the Ukraine.

  • President Hillary Clinton's Middle East Policy: Interventions, Wars, More of Same
    • Good point.

    • The problem with Hillary is that she wants the job so very much for reasons of her own silly little ego. All these people have enormous egos, but I think many are also fueled by a driving desire to do the right thing. For the top job that may make them better qualifying than their ostensible platform.

      In her case, however, its all intellectual. Breaking barriers. She's a high class sycophant, who isn't so much driven by groupthink as defined by it. For true leaders, politics is their milieu and success comes from being able to manage it. My sense is that she has approximately 0% of the character needed to do that job, completely aside from her vision and values.

    • Whatever the labels, the practical fact is that Hillary is totally compromised and would have severely limited freedom of action. Still, we have to consider what she may have learned over the last 10 years.

      There were many bight and well informed people who thought the the Libyan move was good and necessary, who've since learned about unintended consequences (although history is thick with such examples). So, what has she really learned either from direct experience or from watching WJC or Obama contend with things? Faced with a Syrian moment in a place like the Ukraine, would she be able to calmly back-off? Would she be able to lay down the law EFFECTIVELY when given limited, unsatisfactory options, as Obama was by the generals in Afghanistan?

      I'm no republican, but I think there may others with a better prayer of doing less harm, which is about all you can hope for.

  • Iran: What did Khamenei really say about the Lausanne Agreement, and Why?
    • In a way, a degree of melodrama seems to be necessary whenever two parties want to do a deal but cannot let it appear to be too easy.

      Here we have to consider just what the parties would really be giving up. The utility of a weapons program for Iran could only be defensive and/or as an (expensive) bargaining chip. On the other hand, maintaining sanctions is costing the US/EU an enormous amount in direct and indirect opportunity costs. It is easier to have sympathy for the Iranian side, given their relative vulnerability, but maintaining the status quo is for both sides a loser.

      Not that this is going to be an easy deal to negotiate, to the point of agreement or in its implementation, but rather that the non-substantive political factors appear to be thornier.

    • Great analysis, as well as extremely pertinent.

      It seems to me what we have is a informal plan which hopefully will lead to a formal plan, whose completion could easily and naturally be delayed. Whatever formal plan we may agree to implement over the course of the next X years is really more of a process, which may need to be modified due to contingencies we can only hope to anticipate.

      A formal signing is nothing more than a milestone, after which it will be easier to shame the other side, and empower their own next steps if they renege, assuming the understanding is drawn tightly enough to do so.

      I'd very much look forward to a post from you or a contributor with a chapter and verse summary of relevant agreements entered into and broken. Both sides will have their rationalizations for doing so, but the basic facts presented in a historical context would provide a critical perspective on the issue of trust that seems to be so central.

  • After Israel elected 78 MPs opposed to 2 States, what can Palestinians Do?
    • I share your exasperation. And Israel would, despite what apologists on the left would say, go along with this scenario were it not for the practicalities which have always dictated their actions.

      1-They need more settlers for the WB.
      2-They want/need to keep the money/support of the US, to empower their readily apparent agenda..

      The ebb (there is no flow) of settlements into the WB has been modulated due to these factors alone.

      The WB has not been cleansed over the last fifty years due to these constraints, with the tide of settlements correlating tightly with available settlers and diplomatic cover they have at the moment. This means what other events are in the news and how tight their grip is on the US at that moment.

      Remember when Baker had the temerity to hold up 10 BILLION in loan guarantees at the same time they had that big influx of Russian jews in the early nineties? It was the only time anyone really put the arm to them, and it at least got the semblance of respect. However, I suspect it could also have made the difference in Poppy losing re-election.

    • One of several major things that has stood between the Palestinians and whatever workable future they might have, has been wishful thinking about the viability of Oslo, which has been effectively dead for many, many years.

      Since nobody can look-up at the clock, like a doctor in an ICU unit, and pronounce the 2-state solution dead, those many who could not look at this reality in the face, have clung to hope. An understandable and entirely human tendency, but useless and pathetic in any setting.

      This election, including these MP's, makes clear what has been plain for a long, long time. There will still be those that want to believe Israeli back-peddling, because they need to for personal or financial reasons. While this is also understandable and predictable, it is also useless and pathetic.

      People need to wake up and smell the coffee, evidenced unambiguously by Israeli behavior and facts on the ground. The only way forward will be the application of power, in whatever form is available and appropriate, given the tactic advantages and underlying illegitimacy of the status quo..

  • Lausanne: Is there really much Disagreement between US, Iran on those Talking Points?
    • This appears to be deal that conceptually both sides very much want and are willing to reach for their only self-serving reasons. This would be the foundation for not only a good deal but a deal that is inevitable.

      The drama and the extended negotiations are hardly extreme in the history of arms control talks, such as between the US and USSR.

      The real obstacles in this case seem to be those constituencies on both sides who want to see a deal scuttled for personal reasons beyond the good of their countries or their people in general. Perhaps most importantly, this surfaces in the distrust that is being inflamed and stoked by these parties.

      Aside from the inevitable politics of selling what may be a very good deal, the actual negotiating points being chewed over seem to be centered on addressing an earned distrust inflamed by a rich history of duplicity.

  • Netanyahu slips, Reveals reason for Opposition to Iran Deal
    • You're right. He's a smart, articulate and impressive, even in English. On Al Jazeera and a (very) few other places there are people as eloquent, but they're non-existent in the US. On the other hand.....

      Zarif is hardly someone those running things are going to allow to speak directly to Americans aside from perhaps a prudently selected and edited sound bite here or there.

  • Do GOP Frontrunners have an Iran policy besides Sanctions and Bombs?
    • A useless, if not downright dangerous US congress has been developing for some time, which is incapable of fixing itself. Yet, sometimes things need to get done.

      We have to be very careful with this line of thinking. It leads directly toward support of some sort of Unitary Executive, to transcend the weaknesses of unrepresentative representation.

  • What if US & UN Sanctioned Israel over its Nukes as they did Iran over Enrichment?
    • Thanks to you and MK for your links!

      Based on what I've already learned its hard to imagine the US relationship with Israel being more sordid, or their abuse of it being more profound. However, the more you learn the worse it gets, and the seediness seems to have no bottom.

    • Have a credible link or reference for this story?

    • Twenty years sound plausible, since fate is bound to soften up Israeli over their years and it'll take at least that long for sufficient electoral reform to stymy AIPAC etal .

      We also have to consider whether Chelsea beats Michelle for POTUS or maybe she's VP.

  • The von Moltke Fallacy and avoiding another World War, with Iran
    • This got me thinking. Based on Israeli actions historically, and the pride they've developed through fond memories of those prior bold actions, it wouldn't be beyond Bibi etal to contemplate a False Flay provocation of some sort, to scuttle the deal and salvage the status quo.

      All it'd take would be a limited number of "patriots" in the military who were totally committed to his cause and perspective, and a certain boldness (chutzpah). Hardly a tall order, and when designed with appropriate Plausible Deniability in case things went sideways, they might well do it.

      The alternative, given how this deal promises to be strong enough to endure other countermeasures, would indeed be an existential threat to Israel's current relationship with the US.

    • There's are several things worth noting here:

      One is that a good dose of flinty-eyed realism, or call it outright negativity, is essential to survival, when (as Mearsheimer would put it) there is no 911 to rely on.

      Another is that this perspective, in any healthy, mentally balanced organism, has to be keep in its proper place. When paranoia runs amuck and drives actions, it's visions become self-fulfilling, are self-destructive, and become the very definition of pathological.

      Effective leadership exists to keep things in such a balance and to act in a societies self-interests. Sometimes putative leadership exists only to enrich themselves and forgets this; sometimes they simply become corrupted. Either way, the system is not functioning as it should, when, as in this case, there's really very little with which to argue against the Lausanne deal as now sketched.

      In fact, in and of itself, the real and compelling need for even having such dramatic negotiations is kind of thin to begin with. Aside, of course, from the need to support and enable some third-parties neurosis, which represents yet another social pathology.

      Even Israel knows this, apart from Bibi's grandstanding. These comments about the US backing into a war with Iran seem a little over the top: it cannot and won't (or at least shouldn't) happen for a very large and one-sided set of very good reasons and realities. And Bibi is not so stupid as not to know the score. So, what's really going on?

      It's just politics, as has always been apparent. Bibi has nothing else to sell, so he's scrapping the bottom of the Fear barrel. And let's give him credit for understanding how a deal here does stand to set a net paradigm for US relations in the region, which really would be an "existential" threat to Israel's historical way of doing business. So, what can we expect from him if this deal jells and sticks?

      It strikes me Bibi is setting things up to shake us down for a very big bill, in terms of additional grants and aid, to assuage his many fears and forebodings. In return for his final acquiescence, he might just be angling for his recent remarks made-in-passion to be forgotten, and for a blind-eye to be turned on the NEXT bit of WB territory Israel predictable will be gobbling-up. This is the real game with him.

      Final point, purely domestically: success for Obama here would be a major and far-reaching accomplishment, since it would serve to recast the region in a way such that the I/P conflict might actually be effectively addressed.

      So, is the GOP, and American as a country, ready to not cut off its nose to spite its face, and to let a Black Man have that success?

  • War with Iran, by the Numbers
    • All this talk about neocons begs a bit more elucidation. Here's a great summary article that presents them and their perspective in context of their fearless intellectual leader, Leo Strauss.

      link to consortiumnews.com

      I'm no historian, but from the intellectual genesis of the movement it seems like it'd be better thought of as "neo-facism." As a descriptor, "neo-conservative," really rather misses the mark. Maybe if people started referring to these guys as neo-fascists, others would be able to better recognized what is really going on from their readily evident words and behavior.

  • Israel's Netanyahu jumps Shark with “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen” axis barb
    • Not all congressmen are equal, and when someone wants to control the US they compromise the appropriate politicians strategically. It takes better than average knowledge, contacts, and leverage in general, but there are plenty of people who have what it takes to take care of themselves.

      When these characters are unsuccessful it doesn't appear to so much be due to congressional integrity, but rather to competing lobbyists asserting their priorities more strongly. As far as those who bring-up the low-end of priorities when it comes to being taken care of, that would be the ⅔ you cited.

  • How GOP threats against Iran have Guaranteed end of European Sanctions
    • This is really what it all boils down to. Not to mix metaphors too much, but this is going to be some tough medicine to take. There's going to be blood, such as we're now seeing. Too bad it's real people who'll bear the brunt: withdrawal effects from a history of imperialism.

    • The more you think about it, the more far-reaching the ramifications of establishing a reasonable relationship with Iran would be. Especially over time, as unnaturally stunted relationships with Iran's neighbors and the West become more balanced.

      It would, as many people have observed, drive a change in our relationship with everyone in the region. The screaming against a deal here is hardly against a nuclear deal of some sort, but against ANY type of deal (e.g., change).

      So many of these relationships with the West are so deeply invested in backward values and priorities, and are so deeply entrenched, that the screams could get really loud. And a good deal of suffering would have to be expected as well, as there is such a deep commitment to the status quo.

      Those in power regionally, who've been feeding off their current relationships—particularly with the US—for generations, simply will not be able to take this quietly.

  • What's Religion Got to do with it? German Co-Pilot as Terrorist
    • There was also Egyptair 990, which went down off after 911, and a highly political investigation/cover-up that followed.

      Lufthansa and Turkish Air have developed a extremely elaborate system for screening pilot training candidates. I wonder if this guy slipped in before it was instituted. In fact, they prefer to build new pilots from the ground-up and often pass on ex-military types, largely due to personality concerns. Highly focused personality screening is a big and central part of this process.

      You have to wonder about the miracles of modern psychological testing, along with the whole engineering approach to managing human behavior. This has become endemic in business, largely for the panacea that quantifying the process offers more traditional HR departments. But minds are notoriously fickle things.

  • Obama-Netanyahu Tiff worsens: US won't rule out using UN to create Palestine
    • I don't know about the attack on the Cole, but I'd say an appropriate relationship with Israel was knocked off-track when the US allowing Israel to away with its attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 link to aljazeera.com

      Until that time there was certainly a political relationship in flux, as there will always be with any number of other countries.

      When Israel got away with what they did, however, a precedent was established that has harmed genuine US interests in the region enormously ever since—indirectly and directly— for nearly 50 years.

  • Obama with Drama: Translating his comments on Israel's Netanyahu from the Vulcan
    • It's really true. Netanyahu is just the face of the problem, in that he is the politician in Israel at the moment most sensitive to the situation, and the most able to giving the people there what they want.

      If he had a stoke and died tomorrow, his successor would have to respond to a nearly identical set of circumstances. They would not come with the baggage Netanyahu has accumulated in the course of his career, which which give them a nominally better situation with which to work, but only nominally better.

  • Tom Friedman & funding ISIL: Israel/Iran Derangement Syndrome
    • .....for this strain of Zionism, the Middle East has to be in flames and broken up by constant American military invasions and special ops covert actions and coups in order to keep Israel from having any peer...

      And, as you later point out, this is what most Middle Easterners understand Israel hawks (and I'd argue, the rest of Israel, liberal handwringing aside) want and need. But, its not just a matter of what they prefer: to divide/conquer/maintain has been implicit in Israel's demonstrated behavior since its 1948.

      The more interested point now is how the various Israeli/American and neocon Opinion Molders have begun to come out of the closet with their core arguments, and their real agenda. Last week there was this guy from his perch at Johns Hopkins: link to washingtonpost.com

      and now Friedman. In frustration, they have beginning to show what is really driving their angst over ANY deal with Iran.

      As in many traditional, backward societies, they are beginning to boil over with green-eyed jealously as it become apparent their girlfriend may be developing a significant relationship with someone else.

      If they are no longer the center of their objects world, then who else will they have to buy them all the things they could otherwise not afford? Who else will they have to manipulate in order to feel better about themselves? Who else will they be able to abuse and otherwise beat-up publicly to convince the world of their legitimacy? And worst of all, who else would be able to shield them for the consequences of their actions?

      The consequences of Israeli hubris have always been inevitable, but the reality of their agenda and motivations becomes ever more clear as fate closes in.

  • Mideast Reacts with Horror: "Israel has elected Extremism and Racism"
    • Well, yes.

      Bibi will, once again, just say what needs to be said, and most importantly, what his (temporarily) disenchanted supporters want to hear. They'll hear what they want to hear as certainly as they have only seen what they want to see when viewing Israeli behavior over the years.

      This is illustrative of how people get away with abusing others everywhere: we have all seen this sort of thing play out in other settings, however mundane.

      The offender here will simply say he was caught up in the moment and all is well. Bibi will reassure everyone that he is a Man of Peace, and that if he only had some Palestinians who were ready to make peace, we'd all have a merry christmas. Then he'll trot out those market tested tropes: Israel has a right to exist; they live in a very tough neighborhood; etc, ad naseum.

      He'll speak out sincerity on one hand, and have the stick of the anti-Semitic label ready on the other, if anyone responsible says he's proven himself to be full of s---.

      Then there is the cognitive dissonance that has been mentioned on this blog before. For the supporters of Israel in the congress who really are too stupid to have seen through the facade of Israeli good faith, or too compromised to do anything else, his reassurances will be all the lip service they need.

      Remember, this is only something he SAID. Israeli actions over the years have been consistent and unambiguous, if one simply looks at the facts.

  • The Palestinian-Israelis' Selma Moment?
    • And breaking news is that the administration is reevaluating things with Israel in light of how Bibi handled himself. The question now becomes what can/will they be able to do any differently?

      Bibi may even have considered whether this move would further compromise his relationship with the US. But he either calculated that he didn't care or that he had the US firmly in hand (as evidenced by his demonstrated control of Congress).

      I rather suspect both are true.

    • You know Bibi (and by extension, Israel in general), has turned an important corner. Or, perhaps we should say, crossed an important bridge.

      It seems to have even caused some second thoughts with the ever-loyal Jeffrey Goldberg:

      link to theatlantic.com

      Bibi won by consolidating his base in the most blatant way, with the sort of people who shoot when they loose. He had to be pressured into this experiment, but Bibi now knows which votes really matter.

      By acquiescing to their likes the rest of Israel is tacitly saying what it really stands for.

  • The Impotence of the Big Dick strain of American Nationalism
    • I'm also put off by the cheap shot, although maybe even apt, at tired old men's compensatory behaviors. But the issues are more complex and there's more than a little naiveté shown when you allow yourself to get caught-up in your own rhetoric.

      There is indeed, a Tragedy in Great Power Politics, a really fairly simple observation developed more fully in a thin book by John Mearsheimer by the same name. When there is no 911 to call, countries have to rely on themselves, and at bottom they cannot totally trust anyone or anything but overwhelming force. We might argue on what he said since I haven't read it in awhile, but you get the drift.

      The problem is how you keep that reality in balance: why aren't we invading Canada for the nukes THEY are secretly developing in a cave? Remember Condee's mushroom cloud? And she was a Woman!!! Penis envy I suppose. Which may even be true, but it misses the point, which is the point.

      Politicians HAVE to go with the worse case scenario, but as long as you've got Iran as a threat you don't have to invade Canada. Iran was a side show (except for 1979-80), as long as you had the USSR as a bogeyman. Security, and the inevitable lack of it—which is as enduring as our individual mortality—is the underlying problem. As usual, it becomes a question of balance.

  • The Letter: Top 5 Similarities of GOP and Iran Hard Liners
    • Even at that, note the treaty—duly approved and incorporated into the Law of the Land by congress—having to do with Torture. See how that turned out.

    • A very fine post on todays IC by Iranian FM Zarif goes directly to this point of congressional ignorance and obstructionism, and the prospects of a deal between Iran and West:

      link to juancole.com

      It gives hope to how an agreement's implementation may yet be finessed past the yahoos. I cannot help but think that any number of congressmen are not so much stupid as spineless in the face of the AIPAC et al, and they just need a way out.

      The realities of things might provide not just the cover for a deal to stand, but for our congress to make whatever statements they need to make before moving onto other things.

  • Iran FM Zarif Schools GOP Senators on Int'l Law: This is a UNSC Resolution
    • A remarkably balanced and informative statement about the potential of the talks, nothwithstanding the best (worst) efforts of the obstructionists.

  • Treason of the Wonks: How to Create a National Insecurity State
    • Putting aside the irony of this coming from another professor, at least he has heard the sound of a gun fired in anger.

      The fact is that we do need smart, thoughtful, and well informed people to weigh options and come-up with new ones. Universities are the single place I know of to find them. The problem is in the selection. And we do DESPERATELY need new blood.

      What happens is that with anything of any significance, the realities of how things will unfold is impossible to predict: it'll always be a matter of guessing. Especially under the pressure of cicumstances, the winners in these discussions are typically the tallest and the loudest. Those whose thinking is ideological-driven are especially strong, since this allows them to discard other thinking and to concentrate on proving their own point (really just a vision).

      It becomes a ego thing: the root source of downfall. Finding people with a little less ego, or (perhaps the key in practicality) those who can keep it in check, might be a good starting point. Add to the list: experience in the messy realities of actions, intellectual honesty.....others?

  • Syria: As al-Qaeda defeats 'moderate' US allies, will US ally with al-Qaeda?
    • This gets somewhat at what seems to be the core of the problem: policy driven by reactionary shortsightedness for (largely domestic) political reasons. If there were a coherent and well thought through strategy it would need to include looking ruthlessly at whether we do, in fact, want to back the strongest of the local thugs. Pursuing that approach, the long-term viability of that particular option should dismiss it. But its the process that is most important: I don't get that there is such a process, or if there is that it can survive the political realities.

      The reality is that policy cannot be made and implemented in a non-political vacuum, and if you think too much along these lines you end-up shacking-up with the unitary executive theory.

    • It seems to me that whenever the US meddles, the momentum of effective resistance immediately shifts to back the other side.

      It's as though defeating the US, and whomever then becomes its evident local stooge/collaborator, is the greatest single motivation and goal for those who are genuinely committed and effective.

      It's impossible politically to just abandon the situation, and serious security problems would inevitably germinate in a safe haven for groups like AQ or ISIL. But, maybe we should be playing things here with a bit more subtlety.

  • Why Netanyahu's Congress Speech will Fail: Iran Can't be Stopped, only Monitored
    • You know, of course, that the Israelis pride themselves on being nothing if not cynical, flinty-eyed realists and peerless America manipulators. So, whatever other games and odds they will be playing with the forthcoming Congressional Show, you have to consider their longer game.

      In the immediate term there is the sheer theatre as the Likud plays to their local base in the run-up to elections. But, it is also apparent how this show can serve to strengthen and even extend their power in the US. You can argue they're overplaying their hand, and at some point soon their abuse of this one-sided relationship will become too blatant and just collapse, but for now I'd take the other side.

      Looking at the history, I'd suggest they're also playing events for what they are worth in terms of simple $. You can see where if some sort of "disaster" occurs and an agreement is reached with Iran, they will be in an excellent position to shake down the US for untold (more) billions.

      In all these matters we have to recognize the longer-game being played, where they rely so exclusively on being able to shape US policy/actions. Iran moving to get out of its box can easily be undone in the next administration (where they may well own the President as well as the congress). Until then their position can be shored up, and stands to be capitalized on in a variety of other ways.

  • Jeb Bush on Foreign Policy: Peddling old Iraq Myths Again
    • The sad fact is that sheer insistence and repetition of mythical assertions such as these can create a reality all their own. We have too obvious painful examples of this.

      The real news here, and one that people should recognize and try to address, is that we are looking at a guy who may very well be your next President. He is a smart, well-connected, and a relatively qualified guy, while the other putative contenders (e.g., Christie? Scott Walker) are complete empty suits. Frankly, I'm not that impressed with Hillary's entitlement and it isn't as though they've got any depth on their bench (Warren?). Objectively, as a politician, Bush showed far more true competence and success as Governor of Florida than his brother did in Texas, and in the world of the GOP he's about as moderate as it gets.

      The thing to do here, thinking of the venn diagram of advisors shown in the clip, is to get him some better advisors: these are the people who shape the options, and it was these guys who managed the Shrub into the Iraq debacle.

  • Just when you thought they Couldn't be Worse: ISIL trafficking Human Organs
    • Doesn't this seem just a little too over-the-top dastardly?

      It harks back to those days when Saddam was taking babies out of incubators. They do seem to be a nasty group, for whom it wouldn't be too much, but doesn't this seem to stretch credulity?

      After all, it there that hug of a pent-up demand for organs? Assuming as we can, that their evil knows no bounds, it'd be as probable that they are selling these delicacies into dog food.

      But, then again, it wouldn't hit the those Intervention-Now buttons quite so well.

  • Is ISIL's 'Shock and Awe' more Awe-ful because One Victim?
    • The current alarm re lone wolf terrorism relates to this one as well. link to juancole.com

      The thing to let sink in is how a few guys, or one "lone wolf" leveraged with simple technology, can be so asymmetrically effective.

      There is a fight shaping up between the Machine and the People, and this conflict is only showing the tools at work. Each person stands to make an enormous difference today, and once a system emerges that honestly and properly serves the people, the more fascist pretenders will drop away.

  • Israel and Lebanon: Is a 3rd War in the Offing?
    • We can split hairs over Netanyahu's "warmongering", but the fundamental behavior of the Right-Wing in Israel (and everywhere, thinking of the Conservative mindset), is to push the people's External Threat button especially hard around Election Time.

      I rather think killing that General was an oops moment, given how Israel should want like to play off AQ and Hezbollah. Still, attributing good long-term judgment and thoughtfulness to Israeli actions isn't a particularly useful exercise. Which, come to think of it, may have been the point.

  • 5 Top Reasons Romney ought to have Withdrawn
    • Not being a specialist, I do know enough to know that someone truly knowledgable could amaze you with the tax and accounting shenanigans afforded by uninsured/indigent ER visits.

      Apparently, part of the game here is to use these visits as a write-off. I once chose to do some physical therapy out-of-pocket, but was accidentally billed their "rack rate" until corrections were made. Whereas they were happy to have me as a cash-client for $350, for insurance (legal acct.?) purposes my treatment would've been billed at over $6,500.

      Go figure. No....don't.....

  • Netanyahu & Boehner: How Israel went from being a Democratic to a Republican Project
    • This post is, as usual, useful, but it's illustrative of the problem in communicating the importance of such things in that it demands too much focus (if not background). Not to be too critical, but analogizing between Netanyahu and Barzani or Franco, detracts hugely from the simple eloquence of your first paragraph.

      The accepted science on these things in cognitive psychology is that when presented with too much new or contradictory information, brains default to their pre-existing prejudices. The threshold at which human's mental "fuses" blow, whether they be progressives OR conservatives, is really rather low (depressingly so). Which is why this website, as well as ones like Red-State, have such big Amen Choruses. People wittingly or unwitting triggering this phenomena goes far to explain the increase in political polarization over the last decade or so.

      There are, of course, critical readers of all stripes who may divert the mental voltage necessary to appreciate your point more fully. But it strikes me that it would be possible to be more effective by being simpler and more direct.....without going all simplistic.

      Otherwise, Amen Brother.

  • How Stable is Saudi Arabia?
    • Looking at KSA closely you see a regime based on guile and cunning, and the power & flash of its oil only distracts from the Saud's underlying lack of legitimacy.

      In fairness, they've kept this up for a long time, but in perspective 100 years is nothing, and some less-clever Prince will inevitably come to power. It's like Israel in some ways: hoping to dance and manipulate a way past their perfidies forever. But absent the legitimacy afforded by considerately managing relations with the totality of their peoples, as well as their neighbors, the fates of both regimes is sealed. We can only guess at how the details will unfold, but it's a foregone matter (e.g., Mussolini, Gadaffi, et al).

  • Netanyahu Imported by GOP to ensure Iran War
    • This counterpunch article really is superb, mainly in how quickly Fantina takes apart the thoroughly predictable Israeli lines.

      Far too often commentators go overlong, out of outraged exasperation and inadvertently hurt their cause. The truth here is far simpler, and more effectively addressed by brevity. In addition to their use of an increasingly transparent bundle of "Big Lies," Netanyahu etal have two other major tactics, emotional ad homimen smears and dust-kicking. Both tactics are designed to obfuscate what they are up to, and to allow their "substantive" arguments to work.

      The lesson for those commentators with the better soap boxes is to keep very calm and patiently, and focus on the real issues and their underlying simplicity. The answers to this conflict may not be easy or apparent, but at least it should be possible to get past the lies and draw attention to the truths involved

    • Without taking the time to try to explore this myself, do you have a source handy for the assertion of 100,000 medium range missiles in Iran?

  • Hezbollah's Surprising Denunciation of Paris Attacks: is it Courting the West?
  • Did Drought and Climate Change cause Middle Eastern States to Collapse in 2014?
    • "Climate" is synonymous with context, which is essential for a usable perspective. Not quite the same thing as a cause/effect relationship, but critical nonetheless.

  • Psychologists, who Took $81 mn. to Advise, Practice Torture, betrayed the Profession
  • Why the Founding Fathers thought banning Torture Foundational to the US Constitution
    • Ahhhhsoooooo........

      My words, forced from me under duress (aka torture), cannot be used against me in court, BUT the act of torture itself may well be permissible if some hot-headed highway patrolman thought (sic) I might be withholding information that could save lives (or protect property, ensure his safety, etc, etc).

      That would be....tortured logic....but when sufficient force is applied to any situation it generally yields.

      There was plenty of CIA reform back in the 1970's, which included the FISA courts, which at this point can only be considered a rubber-stamp. But organizations like CIA only function well (relatively speaking) when they are fueled by self-righteousness. Combined with their insularity, that CIA would backslide was a given, and if any reforms come of this, by nature they will NOT last.

      In terms of genuine reform, there is an interesting bureaucratic initiative to take away CIA Operations and put that function under the military, where we can hope the over-achieving eager beavers normally drawn to CIA can be properly managed with military discipline. This would leave CIA with its original mission from 1948 for "centralizing" the analysis of intelligence.

      This move would go far to make CIA culture a cross between that of a good university and a reporting organization, encouraging rigorous observation and good thinking rather than political manipulation, which frankly, is its current raison d'etre.

  • UN General Assembly Demands Israel Mothball its Nuclear Arsenal
    • Okay, Okay, this is the fair thing to do and it'd be the single best step that could be taken toward sorting out things in the region, were it only plausible to see it happen. But in the real world this statement is nothing more than a gesture to highlight Israel's hypocrisy.

      Whatever other pieces of hasbara come out of Israel, the reality is that they have dug themselves so deeply into a hole that the nuclear trump card really is their only insurance, such as it is. Give up the nukes and they really would be sunk. This speaks to the dearth of genuine support and true legitimacy they have bothered to develop with their neighbors. e.g., nil.

  • Iran Leader Khamenei: We are not Opposed to Nuclear Talks, Will Accept Just Deal
    • Or, can Israel/KSA accept such a deal?

      This could be seen as a test or whether the US is capable of putting its own self-interests above that of a couple other nations who have proven to be very good at manipulating it.

      What is a stake is whether Israel/KSA etal can keep Iran from becoming a bigger factor in the region, completely apart from this business of nukes, to their detriment and to the benefit of the US.

  • "Iran too big a fish for Israel to fry" - Former IAEA Head Hans Blix on Nuclear Talks
    • And, of course, you're right. Rational policies are often developed, but once an issue takes on real importance, or draws the attention of other-than-rational agendas, the best thinking is often either adapted to the unreal realities of the politics or is stuck in a drawer.

      Still, in the wake of Gulf War II, the NIE estimate from the US intelligence agencies essentially derailed the war then being got-up on Iran, so its really not such a black and white and hopeless situation at all.

      There is no case for surrender; we just need to recognize THESE realities and work with them. Those susceptible to one set of fantasies can as easily be deflected or directed by another.

      The irony and proscription for rational people is that one shouldn't get too hung up on the facts, unless you're dealing with individuals willing and ready to engage them. My hope and perhaps my fantasy is there are people in authority dealing with things at this level. Its our only hope.

  • 3rd Possibility: Coming Civil War in West Bank/ Jerusalem?
    • There's a long-standing line amongst Israeli leadership, which gets out to the West often enough if you listen, that THERE IS a Palestinian State, and its called Jordan! Problem solved.

      This has all transparently been the case since 1967, at least, when the process of colonization was discreetly, but explicitly entered into by the government. It has been proceeding apace ever since. There have been two constraints. One has been political: how much can Israel get away with at any one time, given the need to keep up a impressions and indirectly get someone else (e.g., the USA) to pick up the bill, and 2) demographically: they need settlers.

      In the early nineties, after the Gulf War 1.0 and the Fall of the Wall, you had an interesting confluence, where Israel had a ton of immigrants but it lacked the political cover from Washington, since Bush 41/Baker had it in their heads that the US could follow another course. Bush/Baker's truculence led to the need for the facade of sincerity at Oslo.

      No, this post is pretty realistic. The question is in the timing and the ferocity with which the inevitable will happen. "Civil War," kinda overstates it, IMHO, but it will be ethnic cleansing, however much kinder and gentler a form it takes.

    • Your observations are generally good, but its a matter of how far you stretch them and the conclusions reached. For example, Hersch may have been a bit overblown with his book, The Samson Option, but there is that small thing.....

      Defensively Israel has got things wrapped-up for the foreseeable future, and as long as the Arabs can be manipulated into remaining in their current disarray nothing is going to happen to them. But the long-range futility of their actions that is compelling. A new generation of SAMS will be overset by a new generation of ECM, but the underlying economics, as well as the demographics, are all stacked against Israel and they're only getting worse.

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