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Total number of comments: 802 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:39)

Travis Bickle

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  • 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.

    • Page: 8
    • 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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