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Total number of comments: 14 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:21)

William deB. Mills

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  • Jahanpour: As US and Iran Confront Each other, where is the Diplomacy?
    • This is a useful article, but I find it dangerously misleading to make the kind of remark that was cited in it to the effect that Iran must be offered the opportunity "to climb down." Rather, it is Israeli and U.S. war party ideologues who need to climb down.

      First, it is Israel that, with a decision made in madness, introduced nukes to the Mideast. Second, it is Israel that has a foreign policy based on superior force rather than diplomacy designed to create positive-sum outcomes. Third, Iran is, so far, doing no more than North Korea, Pakistan, India...and of course far less than Israel. Fourth, Iran is under threat and has every reason to believe such threats would not end no matter how transparent its nuclear policy. Fifth, Iran has been under threat from (in order) Russia, Britain, the U.S., and Israel for most of the past two hundred years, so regardless of the facts, it is quite understandable that Iranians might perceive threats.

      Just take one example: Iran would like nothing better than to sell its oil, so it is never going to buy Washington's statements that the U.S. naval armada is off Iran's Persian Gulf coast to protect international oil tankers. If the U.S. would permit peaceful oil trade by all nations bordering the Persian Gulf, who would threaten it? Certainly not Iran.

      This is not about nukes. It is about the right of countries to pursue independent foreign policies. No surrender is called for on either side; no one needs to suffer defeat. The contest is about being allowed to take a different path. It is Washington and Tel Aviv that need to "climb down" from their insistence upon special privileges for themselves. At that point, the glimmer of a negotiated solution would magically appear through the mists of hubris and propaganda.

  • Bombings Roil Iraq as Sunni Arabs Re-arm
    • Americans of a certain persuasion always like to build Iran up as the bogeyman justifying all manner of extremist behavior on the part of The Empire. In the current Iraqi case, however, Iran is surely not the source of arms pouring into Iraq to arm the Sunni. It would seem fairly obvious to me that arming the Sunni for revolt is not exactly in the best interests of US national security.

      Do you have any indication of who is supplying such arms?

  • Suleimani: The US Decline in the Middle East
    • JTMcFee,

      Suleimani made several good points that many in Washington still do not seem to understand: the extraordinary violence brought by Washington to the Mideast, the harmful impact on the U.S. economy, the rise in regional hatred of the U.S.

      Compare these points with the propaganda we hear constantly from Washington about the wonderful job done by our forces, not to mention the continuing lust for new wars...

    • American readers will have to filter out a lot of words that just amount to the Persian way of speaking. Once they take the effort to do that, they should see that Iranians can be pretty clear-headed analysts.

      I wonder if we provincials could possibly bring ourselves to start paying attention to what they are saying?

      Thanks for a very useful report.

  • OWS under Pressure: Banks Bailed out, People Sold Out
    • Excellent post, but reality is even worse than you describe it in a fundamental way: you are comparing punishment of institutions (banks) with individuals. The banks have at least paid a few fines, albeit ones that imposed no hardship whatsoever on those rich institutions. But if one compares the treatment of individuals kicked out of their houses, often not just unsympathetically but fraudulently (e.g., based on fake bank paperwork) with treatment of bank officials (not even brought to trial for alleged fraud), then one can see the real contrast: the super-rich have a "get out of jail free" card courtesy of Washington regardless of the severity of crimes committed, while anyone from the 99% who engages in democratic action faces police brutality, hospitalization, and jail time even if they break no law.

  • Gingrich Called for Jail for Politicians with Freddie Mac Ties
    • During all the years we have been inflicted with Gingrich's presence on the national scene, it has been extremely difficult to identify any useful comment made by the man...until he called for the jailing of the Washington pols whose corruption helped to bring on the endless financial crisis (lifestyle?) suffocating this country. Finally, Newt and I are in agreement; may he be so lucky as to lead the march to jail.

      Could we not take just one of the brave policemen in New York who are today protecting the uber-rich criminals of Wall Street from the rage of democracy protesters to offer Mr. Gingrich his day in court?

      As for the protesters, when are they going to learn: democracy protests are for Arabs; if Americans do it, they get the Mubarak Treatment.

  • UNESCO Palestine Vote Isolates US Further
    • Contributing to UNESCO has long been a traditional practice by individual Americans. What reasonable person could oppose its mission of promoting the rule of law and international peace? Whatever one may think of the politics at the General Assembly, UNESCO reflects American values.

      It seems to be time for American citizens to vote with their checkbooks and donate to UNESCO.

  • Karzai: Afghanistan would Side With Pakistan in War with US
    • Someone should inform Senator Graham that it makes no difference (legally, morally) what the military wants. We live in a democracy, and the military's job is to take orders. If he wants to let the military make policy, then perhaps he should resign from a position obviously beyond his competence.

      On the broader issue of how to clean up the Afghan mess, however, I have this question: Can a positive-sum outcome to the endless mess in the Pakistani-Afghan theater be negotiated?

      The core U.S. goal in Afghanistan is, presumably, to avoid a terrorist attack on the U.S. The second most important U.S. goal should arguably be constraining heroin exports and the third escaping with the shirt on our backs. These goals constitute minimal U.S. interests.

      Putting these three modest and non-threatening goals on the table as U.S. requirements while offering to negotiate everything else, might Washington be able to entice cooperation out of Kabul, New Delhi, Islamabad, Tehran, and the Taliban? That group is probably the smallest set of negotiating partners that will have to be included to achieve a workable compromise, with success being premised above all on convincing them that the U.S. will truly be willing to walk away in return for some measure of local peace and justice--giving up control, military bases, and oil rights.

      This minimal goal set should reassure all the many who fear U.S. imperialism, the irritation of U.S. troops on the ground, heavy-handed U.S. efforts to remake the world in its own image whether the recipients want such help or not, etc. This goal set would open the door to serious consideration of how the conflicting interests of the other parties might be redefined. How that can be accomplished is not clear, and the U.S. role should perhaps focus simply on encouraging them all to get together and define a smooth exit strategy for the U.S. (keeping in mind that al Qua’ida may well focus on preventing the U.S. from escaping).

      Three points seem unavoidable: 1) the frame of mind that all the above-mentioned negotiating partners have legitimate interests that will require consideration, 2) that all will need to be included in the dialogue, and 3) that the U.S., as the outsider, should expect to gain the least (a degree of modesty not common in superpowers). The first step is to set the tone by adopting the perspective that attempts to achieve one-sided (zero-sum) victory must give way to a positive-sum outcome.

  • Greater Middle East Turns More Dangerous for US
    • Israel attacks Palestine at will; Turkey attacks Iraqi Kurdistan at will; Pakistan seems to be exercising the right to attack Afghanistan at will; Saudi Arabia started with Yemen and then Bahrain; the U.S. "reserves" the right to attack as needed and exercises it continuously.

      One could argue about who is winning any particular fight, but I am more worried about the underlying shift in global behavior: a trend toward disregarding international law and international borders is distinctly visible on the horizon. The Israeli right-wing approach to international relations (e.g., Lebanon 1982, Lebanon 2006, Gaza 2009) is rapidly being learned by others. One can only wonder who will be next. Such a trend cannot be good for a (relatively, these days) comfortable society like American society that has a great deal to lose from a return to the rule of the jungle.

  • Palestine, Bahrain and US Hyprocrisy
    • No one in Washington cares about Palestinians (and how could they be expected to, given their attitude toward Americans?). However, Egyptians are preparing for a vote. I wonder how all those Congressmen who kowtow to Israeli expansionists (ignoring the views of Israelis concerned about the long-term survival of their democracy) will view a Muslim Brotherhood victory in Egypt!

  • Muslim Brotherhood Rebukes Erdogan for Advocacy of Secularism
    • Hmmm, does this mean that a range of opinion exists within political Islam? Were the Arab Spring really to take hold, might we all experience a truly healthy public debate in the Muslim world about the role of religion in a democracy?

      Gee, I dare say that we Americans might benefit from such a debate as well.

      Kudos to Erdogan for encouraging Egyptians to promote the open marketplace of free speech and, implicitly, for encouraging the military to get out of politics. Now what might it take to convince Washington politicians that this is a trend in the best interests of the U.S. to encourage?

  • Turkey Crisis Provokes Israeli Army Anger at Lieberman
    • The Turkish-Israeli spat has many levels, but for me the elephant in the room is the embarrassing inability of the U.S. to solve problems in the Mideast. With Israel firmly committed to a hardline stance and Washington wavering (regardless of the party in office) between violence and incompetence, any other regional leader worth his salt will be looking for opportunities to fill the Mideast leadership vacuum.

      Bin Laden tried to offer a radical, Sunni fundamentalist Islamic solution; Ahmadinejad is offering an Iranian nationalist plus radical Shi'i fundamentalist solution; Erdogan is offering a moderate reformist Islamic solution. Given the history of the past decade, this may be the best offer from the Mideast that Americans will get for a long time.

  • Iraq Adopts Iran's Backing of Assad
    • How ironic indeed. If Washington had in fact pursued Iraqi democracy rather than Iraqi submission, then the door might not have opened for al Qua'ida in Iraq to emerge or for Iranian influence to expand. That would have been an Arab Spring for Iraq. Colonization is no "Spring," however. "Spring" means independence plus power to the people (rise of civil society). That would likely have produced a strongly anti-rightwing Israeli expansionists, mildly pro-Iranian neutral, relatively pacific state (sound like Turkey under Erdogan??). Such was hardly the goal of Washington empire-builders.

      Iraq may yet get its Spring, once the U.S. military and, very importantly, the enormous force of U.S.-run mercenaries, depart (if ever).

      I wonder what the Mideast with Erdogan and the somewhat empowered Egyptian people might look like were the U.S. military to stop fanning the flames?

  • The Audacity of the Gaza Flotilla
    • From the perspective of US national security, Washington's support for extreme right-wing Israeli politicians who want to use violence against peace activists, even in international waters, is dangerously self-defeating. The US needs the international rule of law but, regarding Israel, is promoting piracy - there is no other word for military attacks on vessels in international waters.

      US official reaction to Israel's murder of Syrian protesters along the Golan border was another troubling example of Washington irresponsibly making exceptions for Israel, allowing it to get away with criminal behavior. Shooting unarmed demonstrators across international borders, like attacking ships in international waters, is criminal behavior that sets precedents that are sure one day to harm US interests.

      If we say piracy by Israel is OK, then piracy will become standard behavior for all others who see an advantage in it. If we say that Israel can kill demonstrators who are in another country, then some adversary of the US will sooner or later follow that precedent.

      When Washington bows down to violence-prone right-wing elements in Israel, it makes the world a less civilized place, thus harming American security.

      International law starts with the willingness of the most powerful to follow rules even when those rules happen to be inconvenient.

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