Recent Comments

  • Parenting in Fear: Leaving a Climate Apocalypse to our Children (3)
    • If we were as smart as we should be at this time there would be a five year moratorium on children being born.In the meantime there should be a worldwide,voluntary,free sterilization program with substantial cash incentives .I have three great grand children and I am virtually scared shitless.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • I agree we must avoid being ahistorical. As an historian, don't you think some mention should be made of the role that draught played in Syria, and the role the CIA has played throughout the region, or the role that Turkey has played in facilitating the entry of foreign fighters, or the role that the Gulf states have played in funding the jihadis? I am sympathetic to those who view the Assad regime as a brutal thuggish autocracy, but there should be some recognition that his government also has a mass base. And for those who believe Assad must go, please explain to me what would follow. Who or what kind of regime would fill the void? What would become of ISIS, al Nusra Front and other religious fanatics? How Syria could avoid what has happened in Libya? How a blood bath could be avoided when the Sunni extremists and war lords go after the Alawites, Christians, Kurds and Druze? This is not a defense of Assad but a request for thoughtful analysis that looks beyond the demand for Assad to go to what follows next.

  • As Russia Strikes, Arab Twitter Wars over call for Jihad against "occupation" of Syria (9)
    • If Twitter is going after war mongers things must be serious. It's nuts: Israel aligned with the Saudi and the US supporting al-Qaeda. Unbelievable. We're going down the tubes here at home while the government is spending money on the same groups that did 9/11. It's like living in a parallel universe. One of those really messed up ones.
      A friend of mine suggested that our leaders are aliens brought here to destroy humanity before the invasion from planet Xixx Xaxx. I'm starting to believe him.

  • Syria: Russians volunteering to fight ISIL alongside Leftist Kurds (3)
    • If they are fighting in Syria on the side of the Kurds, then peshmerga is the wrong name. You mean YPG.

  • What is Russia's Strategy in Syria & Why does Egypt Approve? (8)
    • As the old saying goes, the only 'moderates' fighting the Syrian government are those who have run out of bullets. Fortunately, the Russians are not fooled by pretenses and promises and we see the effectiveness of their actions so far. The same people in the US administration who actively participated in undermining the Syrian state are still in their world of delusions in the State Dept.

    • My take is that once the Russo-Syrian-Iraqi-Iranian-Hezbollan forces defeat IS-Al Qaeda terrorists, Syrians will find a way to reclaim their nation.

  • Far Right wing Israelis rally for more Land Theft, destruction of Palestinian homes (2)
    • Yes spyguy, I see an apartheid situation approaching, already manifest in the West Bank. This together with the rocketry Hezbollah and Iran have in abundance [Hezbollah claim to have 100,000]. Nasrallah said there is no area their rockets could not reach in Israel. Of course any concentration of fire power into the Tel Aviv Metropolitan area including Ben Gurion airport would destroy the Israeli economy. Maybe they are banking on the Samson option.

  • How much Palestinian unrest is work of Undercover Israeli Agents? (4)
  • What is Russia's Strategy in Syria & Why does Egypt Approve? (8)
    • These four years and whatever follows before Syria is quiet will surely have had a profound effect on al~Assad and his wife and family. By all accounts he was quite happy as an ophthalmologist and only came to this role because his brother died. His father was a man few would defy, including family. My, albeit vague, recollection is he never wanted the job in the first place and it's perfectly possible he will be more than happy to hand over when there is an alternative pleasing to the majority of Syrians. Originally he may have taken comfort rehearsing the potential for reform but found himself swept along, if not enslaved, by a deeply rooted structure established by his father over 30 years, a structure of self-perpetuating, interlocking loyalties he couldn't break, and which his father may have built up for exactly that reason, particularly if he felt his son might not have it in him. I don't seek to mitigate the horrors under his rule which were a continuation of those under his father, merely to suggest he might welcome a coherent exit.

    • U.S. warmakers are closely observing and analyzing Russian military actions and capabilities and folding this current information into its own strategic and tactical assessments of Russian power estimates and projections. The U.S. wastes no opportunity to turn lemons into shrapnel. This has nothing to do with the military/political goals of Russia in Syria - for now.

    • An interesting, and accurate analysis, though the unfortunate wording does make Damacus into the asshole of Syria...when Assad already has that job.

  • How much Palestinian unrest is work of Undercover Israeli Agents? (4)
    • Samuel Gladstone 10/08/2015 at 9:47 am

      Demonstrators? So if I hop outside and start throwing rocks at Boston PD, does that make me a "demonstrator"?

      You won't catch me defending much of Israel's policy regarding its treatment of Palestinians any time soon, but surely you can't be serious in calling these mouth-breathers "demonstrators"? It takes a special kind of idiot to initiate violence against any group of armed individuals (police or otherwise) and then to consider themselves victims after that group retaliates.

    • Perfect question indeed! That's exactly what I was thinking, after seeing the undercover agents beat young Palestinians...

  • Parenting in Fear: Leaving a Climate Apocalypse to our Children (3)
    • Ms Berrigan may think zombie movies when she contemplates the future, but I think of a public service ad from England that came out, literally decades ago. In this stark b&w video, a mother and father wake their children in the middle of the night and bundle them into the family car. They drive through the night, past factories belching vast clouds of smoke, past a polluted landscape, far out into the country.

      Then the car stops, they get the children out - and leave them there alone, bewildered and abandoned, driving rapidly off into the darkness.

  • What is Russia's Strategy in Syria & Why does Egypt Approve? (8)
    • Juan,
      Does this mean you are changing your position on the famous 2012 DIA assessment? You argued before that it did not imply that the US was among the powers to which it refers supporting AQI. Here you allow that perhaps some high officials do support them.

    • Words have different meanings to different people. This is what you said meant to me. I really really do not want the Baathist regime in Syria to be able to stay in power. I really really really do not want any of the current Islamic groups fighting the Baathist Regime to be able to achieve power.
      What this secretly means, and it could be so secret that you do not want to admit it to yourself, is that at least for a while longer you want the Baathist regime to stay in power. I am qualified to say this based on my training at H&R Block income tax school.

  • Far Right wing Israelis rally for more Land Theft, destruction of Palestinian homes (2)
    • I do not think Israelis have thought this through.

      What are is the Israelis end-game?

      There are historically very well understood possible outcomes to the Israelis actions , ALL of which are terrible for Israelis:

      (1) Israel ends up with half the population west of the Jordan River (non-Jews) being subjugated by the other half (Jews). This is NOT sustainable and as history has very well documented, this will explode causing massive deaths for both groups and eventually driving most Jews out of the ME (the Jews are physically unable to win a massive war to the death - for those that don't understand this I will answer any questions posted here).

      (2) All of the humans west of the Jordan River become FULL citizens of a SECULAR Israel where Jewish and Muslim religious leaders lose power. Since no group of humans willingly give up power, the ultra religious on both sides will cause massive social unrest, but given that most of the population just want to live OK lives, the religious extremest will eventually be suppressed. Long term, this is probably the best that Israelis can hope for.

      (3) Israel tries to round up all the "usual suspects" (non-Jews) from the area west of the Jordan river and expel them. That is, create millions of refugees. Israelis should NOT think about trying this, since we have an on-going example of how the world will react to Israel trying this (Syrian refugees). The world will NOT take Israel's "rejects" and will quickly punish Israel economically. For some reason, Israeli do not understand just how interconnected their economy is with the rest of the world nor how fragile it is. If Europe and Asia decide to put economic sanctions on Israel, the economy will sink like a stone. Note that the USA will NOT be able to protect Israel, will not take any refugees and might even join the sanctions regimes.

      (4) Israel has now completely eliminated any possibility of a "two-state solution," because it is physically impossible to remove all the land squatters from the West Bank without massive, bloody civil war in Israel. It took the Arabs over three decades to finally figure this out, but it appears they are finally facing the facts.

      Basically it appears that Israeli have been extremely delusional during this entire land squatter process, never thinking beyond the end of next week, even though there is 5000 years of history that says what they are trying to do will fail miserably and leave them worse off.

      As the older generations die off in the USA and Europe, attitudes will go massively against Israel. As a result, I think Israeli will face an extremely BAD future and I suspect that many of the young people in Israel will see better futures outside Israel and will simply leave, gutting the economy.

      Without a drastic re-think in Israel, I do not see a very nice future for Israelis.

  • What is Russia's Strategy in Syria & Why does Egypt Approve? (8)
    • The policy - of overthrowing Assad - was not achieving its goal and that third party state sponsorships and its proxies had become the ante of continued stalemate of Syria's civil war. Russia's policy of military intervention - with self interest - is to torque the ante. Ultimately, Syria's development towards democratisation should be the underlying goal.

  • As Russia Strikes, Arab Twitter Wars over call for Jihad against "occupation" of Syria (9)
    • The Russians call all Terrorist Daesh, but they promised to only use "moderate" bombs on "moderate" Terrorists.
      What's the problem? ;-)

  • Citing NSA Spying, Euro Court of Justice Forbids Auto-Sharing of Personal Info (1)
    • Government spying on EVERYONE notwithstanding. The private sector is MUCH WORSE.

      Once the previous maladministration ABOLISHED PRIVACY in these United States in 2004, the hounds of uncontrolled eavesdropping were unleashed. The precedence was established.

      The private sector who provides the government with their listening tools decided to embark of this endeavor themselves. Data aggregators have become very big and highly profitable businesses.

      Everything anyone does including little children via an electronic transmission is recorded, collected, aggregated and disseminated without restriction or PERMISSION.

      Since the RIGHT TO PRIVACY is downplayed in importance in 2015, how will collected and aggregated information be used in 2020? Or 2035?

      Worried about government spying? There is much more to fear from those who document virtually every daily event in life and SELL that information on an open market.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
  • As Russia Strikes, Arab Twitter Wars over call for Jihad against "occupation" of Syria (9)
    • Here is the Arabic translation. Russia is bombing both Jabhat al nusra an extension of al Qaeda and supported by Saudi Arabia and gulf states and Daesh (Isis). In Maarat Al-Nuuman in Idlib they bombed weapon workshop and a command center in khan Shaykhum. Remember back in April an AFP reporter and 300 Kurdish civilians were kidnapped by what turkey called al nusra fighters. ( Reuter ). At that time 200 Christian ( Assyrian Christians ) were kidnaped by Isis. Both groups are fighting each other's closely on the ground. So call these groups whatever name but everyone fighting in Syria is not really directly fighting the Syrian army unless they try to intervene. They are killing, torturing, burning, raping innocent Christians and Kurds and anyone that stand in their way. And remember that the rebels trained by U.S joined al- nusra. Refer to senate meeting last week.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • "Without an intervention, likely Libya would have become Syria."

      Is this a typo? I'm confused by your arguments here.

      you're talking about dictator remaining in power vs. outside (i.e. NATO) intervention vs. local uprising? Whose air force and tanks and heavy artillery produce a social apocalypse?

    • Juan: I think that you both are wrong. Trump, never mind, but you write about the different dictators and what they did. The USA is the culprit here. Supported Iraq against Iran. Then "allowed" Iraq to invade Kuwait. And after being rejected by West forces the Kurds were left alone for another massacre by Hussein. The USA deposed via Coup the elected man in Iran and put the Sha there. I mean you mentioned history but history is moved and written by the powerful and the victors.......granted these dictators were murderers, as was Pinochet but the USA had a lot to do on all those in the Middle East and in Latin America.

    • Depends on the context, being an absolutist on such an issue is unwise.

  • As Russia Strikes, Arab Twitter Wars over call for Jihad against "occupation" of Syria (9)
  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
  • As Russia Strikes, Arab Twitter Wars over call for Jihad against "occupation" of Syria (9)
  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • Trump has never studied history or foreign policy. His purpose in the GOP race is ego gratification (a rich man's game to relieve boredom) and also to make Bush et al seem "moderate" in comparison (there was a good article on climate change the other day that compared the GOP candidates to conservatives in other countries. Bush's policies are far to the right of almost all of them, but might be too "moderate" for US Republicans).

    • And the enforcement of “iron law” would fall to what authority?

      Looking through the piece by Professor Cole, Donald Trump and his lack of historical relevance is the topic.

      A helpful tip - Displaying ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome) is easier if a keyboard macro with our President’s last name is programmed. Using this method, only one key is necessary. Assign it to F1. Saves time and wear-and-tear on the keyboard.

  • As Russia Strikes, Arab Twitter Wars over call for Jihad against "occupation" of Syria (9)
    • The translation is indeed obscure but I wonder how some of the White House doublespeak sounds in Russian. I suppose from a Russian perspective anyone attacking Syrian regime forces is impeding their purpose and needs be encouraged to back off. The US etc. are the ones in the business of overthrowing the Syrian regime, not Russia whose strategy is to use precisely those Syrian forces to tackle Daesh.

    • From my media (I'm not a tweeter) it looks as though a majority (maybe slim) of Americans are pretty wary re US intervention (one level or another). The record of it in this theater doesn't seem to make much sense. Good to know there are Muslim tweets out there recognizing that opposing our no-sense-interventions wouldn't make sense either. That shows Muslims are aware of what's happened in Afghanistan, and are concerned about it. That they're being realistic about it.

      Doesn't seem like such a wonderful prospect opening up a port to al-Qaeda or the Army of Conquest. If it's true, as it's said Putin claims, that rebel troops defect hither and thither for better pay...then the lines sort of blur. If Turkey really does shut its southern border (which seems to be hard to get information on), then Daesh's source of recruits are the aforementioned...again, if Putin said what he said and if it's correct.

      All these elements are like gangs in the hood. Actually, they're like the gangs of San Salvador forcing folks out of their homes and off to other countries, but on a much more colossal scale.

      IMO Russia should go ahead and name the groups. Most likely we could handle it.

    • We need a program to keep the players straight. Maybe at some point Prof. Cole or another contributor could give us (or guide us to) a Who's Who in Syria.

  • Netanyahu's Tango with the Ayatollah: Why Israeli & Iranian Hardliners Need Each Other (2)
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/07/2015 at 8:03 am

      It is absolutely true that the hardliners in Iran and Israel feed off one another. The Israeli leaders would very much like to have an Iranian president such as Ahmadinezhad than a moderate or reformist president such as Mohammad Khatami or Hassan Rouhani. In the controversial 2009 presidential election in Iran that resulted in Ahmadinezhad’s return to power, the Israelis and the American neo-conservatives were quite pleased with the result, because it was much easier to demonize him rather than a reformist candidate such as Mir-Hoseyn Mousasavi. Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin Sadat Center at Bar Ilan University, said: "Just because Moussavi is called a moderate or a reformist doesn't mean he's a nice guy. After all he was approved by the Islamic leadership. If we have Ahmadinejad, we know where we stand. If we have Moussavi we have a serpent with a nice image." Mossad’s then Chief Meir Dagan told a panel of Israeli lawmakers: "If the reformist candidate Mousavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem, because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat."

      The same is true about Iran. If by an unlikely chance a moderate and reformist who is genuinely in search of making peace with the Palestinians and with Israel’s neighbors comes to power in Israel, the hardliners in Iran would find it much more difficult to demonize him.

  • Parenting in Fear: Leaving a Climate Apocalypse to our Children (3)
    • charles haggerty 10/07/2015 at 7:35 am

      hi Frida,I've just read your essay in which you try and describe the indescribable.I think it is entirely reasonable to conclude that if we,as a species,continue doing-what-we're-doing;we are within a generation or so,of the beginning of the end of our species.Strong words for sure,but for the life of me,I cannot see it any other way.It's not just climate change,it's how we treat the oceans,it's the chemicals we pour onto the land,it's our rotten,undemocratic political systems,it's our corrupt financial system ect. ect. ect. Really it's about how we treat each other! So where do we start? IMO,we,as a species,must recognise that we need nature;but,of course,nature does not need us! We really are disconnected from nature,in a way,that up to just a couple of hundred years ago our ancestors were not! So,IMO,one of the REALLY BIG QUESTIONS is;how do we reconnect to nature? And I believe that an obvious answer to that question is:through feminism.By recognising the simple fact that it is women who bring life into our human world,we must surely also see that women are closer to nature,in a way that no man can be? Women,in the most general terms,must have a different psychology from men? And this 'different psychology' must be centred around the genetically hard-wired existential understanding of the need to respect and cherish human life and nature! That basically,is my rational for my belief that;if we are,as a species,to face the challenge(s) which you describe above,then feminism must be at the centre of any realistic solution(s).What do you think?

  • Netanyahu's Tango with the Ayatollah: Why Israeli & Iranian Hardliners Need Each Other (2)
    • I'm a little bit surprised about parts of this article, I've never heard of Rafsanjani's suggestion to Rouhani to resign in case negotiations weren't approved by the supreme leader. Khamenei's criticism of the negotiations (not the whole idea, to some of the details) seems to be a simple natural reaction to me, he doesn't want to display his total approval of the deal, i.e. Iran's willingness for it. Are you sure of your sources on this?

  • Deal with Saudis? Why does the US care if Russia bombs al-Qaeda and its Allies in Syria? (33)
  • Kathleen Turner: The Real Target of the Planned Parenthood Attacks (8)
    • 100% total misogynist BS.

      Women are humans with FULL equality and reproductive rights are part of that equality.

      Birth control is extremely expensive and just like male health services, should be 100% covered by health insurance and public services.

      Religious people have NO RIGHT to say anything about any other human's behavior and if they are participating in public transactions they can NOT use their religious misogyny to discriminate against other humans.

      Religious people have a simple choice:

      - participate in a multicultural society without discrimination, or

      - If they are unable to get over their extreme prejudices, they should withdraw from society and live in religious enclaves.

      If you want to live in society, follow society's rules and do not discriminate.

      Women are humans too and deserve all the rights men have.

  • As Russia Strikes, Arab Twitter Wars over call for Jihad against "occupation" of Syria (9)
    • Syria into another Afghanistan war? unbelievable Daesh is blowing up mosques and blaming the damage on Russian air strikes.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • Spiral007 10/07/2015 at 4:33 am in reply to Chris

      Chris, there is a difference..Russia has been invited by a legal UN recognized govt,, whereas us and the west has intervened illegally. If we follow your logic US and NATO should be out of Europe, GCC countries...etc. as should Russia out of some central Asian countries.

    • The moderate center does not ever seem to hold in Middle Eastern countries. Too much "my way or the highway" attitude in the culture.

    • After last weeks shooting Trump showed he was a fan of the 70's vigilante movie "Deathwish" where Bronson turns from a victim of a mugging into a one man death squad targetting anyone who resembled his racist profile of a mugger.
      By calling the Iraq invasion illegal but nevertheless a good thing you are also taking the position of a vigilante, someone who is judge, jury and executioner. tyrants are propped up, some are bombed, new tyrants take their place but the decision is always made by the vigilante.
      I believe your analysis does not take into account the chaos vigilante action has caused. Case in point: Syria is stalemated because the opposition is holding out for outside vigilante intervention. A political settlement will not be reached if the rebels think they can march into Damascus behind US tanks.

  • Palestine – The Exception To Free Speech In The U.S.?" (1)
  • Facing ISIL Propaganda, Russia Denies its Syria Campaign is a "Holy War" (19)
  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • The Libyans were being killed at a fair clip under Gaddafi. Read the article. You've never heard of Abu Salim, have you?

    • Obama has no business intervening in Syria's affairs and neither does Putin.

      There needs to be an iron law that no country can ever violate the sovereignty of another under any circumstances.

  • Kathleen Turner: The Real Target of the Planned Parenthood Attacks (8)
    • This would be the perfect opportunity for women all over this country to dig into their own pockets and come up with the funding rather than go to the government. It would simultaneously cut the Republicans off at the knees and show everyone how women can "do it". All it would take would be the cost of one Starbucks Latte.

      The problem is that women will never pay for anything as long as they think they can get a man to do it. We would have better luck getting them to pay alimony. Hypergamy means that they would rather force religious people of good conscience to fund THEIR private parts even thought they know it would only cost them ONE Latte. Start buying your own drinks and we will all be better off.

  • The Young Iraqis Promoting Darwinism and Rationalism To Save Iraq (5)
    • Who thinks that Stenger or Carrier have done anything important? They're populist atheist proselytizers, nothing else. No academic will recommend them in any science or philosophy or history course. Grayling isn't much better either, certainly in that area, and he's mocked even in the UK as an myopic elitist.

      It's almost as if in avoiding the obvious culprits like Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris, you think people are naive enough to miss the fact that these people have little to do with some sincere quest for science and reason, and are instead part of the increasingly ridiculed New Atheist movement, which, coincidently, lends itself to a neo-colonial vision whereby Arabs are supposed to feel so inferior as to have white science-kings in the holy lands of the West, tell them what to believe and how to live, and how they should hate their heritage and societies.

      Why is it that every time intellectual hopes in the Middle East emerge, they have to conform to the most ridiculous caricatures of what reason and science demand of us?

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
  • Red Crescent: Israeli forces injure Nearly 500 Palestinians in 3 days (2)
    • The news black-out in corporate-controlled media regarding Israeli actions against the Palestinians is DEAFENING!

      • Look at the New York Times? It’s Syria 24/7. Two irrelevant articles, not comprehensive or definitive.
      • Los Angeles Times, nada, zip.
      • Washington Post, zzzzzz.
      • Reuters, crickets.
      • BBC, a well-written pro-Israeli snob job.
      • UK Guardian, more crickets.
      • API has a few articles of interest but subdued and after SYRIA!! OMG!
      • CSM World, one item about Israel blocking Palestinians from Jerusalem’s Old City.
      • AL JAZEERA, two interesting pieces.
      • Jerusalem Post is surprisingly limited and muted.
      • XINHUA has some comprehensive coverage.
      • And Informed Comment. Not to pander but coverage here is broader than most.

      Of course, coverage will ebb and flow but info played to the U.S. is scant EXCEPT in the foreign press.

      Adopt the use of a RSS “newsreader” like Vienna, Thunderbird, Reeder or Newsflow and start there. Lots of RSS aggregators out there. Many browsers have limited but useful capabilities They take some effort to set-up but if really concerned, they are a very good place to start and compare.


  • Facing ISIL Propaganda, Russia Denies its Syria Campaign is a "Holy War" (19)
    • Correction: About 10% of Syrians are (were) Christians. But they aren't all Eastern Orthodox, and thus direct co-religionists of Russian Orthodox Christians. Some would be Oriental Orthodox, some might recognize the Pope under Eastern Rite provisions, others might recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople, a few might be Protestant converts, etc.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
  • Syria: Russians volunteering to fight ISIL alongside Leftist Kurds (3)
    • These days in the Middle East a centrist is an armed salafist with a blank check from Saudi Arabia, a right-winger is ISIS until something more extreme comes along to soak up the despair, and a leftist is the entire rest of the universe. Too bad that majority rule =/= the rule of the guy with the biggest gun.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • The big question here is, what does Trump prescribe based on his statement? Is he saying:

      a. no more overseas interventions
      b. his interventions will be HUUUUUGE and be so successful that your head will spin?

      That's kind of a huuuuuge difference. And it's the first time that a Republican candidate with serious numbers (meaning not surnamed Paul) has dared to question the idea of American hegemony since the Cold War began. Even an ignorant lout, it seems, can see that we don't know what we're doing overseas. But can an ignorant lout author a process for extricating ourselves from our commitments in over 130 countries and define a National Interest in non-superpower terms?

      This could be the most important development of the 2016 campaign if Trump is rebuked by the GOP establishment and, as usual, keeps fighting back and provoking the rank & file into discussing what it all means.

    • The issue is not NATO influencing the outcome, but the anti-war culture's conspiracy theories that there was no genuine uprising at all or that it did not represent any significant number of Libyans. Bombers do not equal popular legitimacy.

  • Facing ISIL Propaganda, Russia Denies its Syria Campaign is a "Holy War" (19)
    • Yeah, Right 10/06/2015 at 5:19 pm in reply to super390

      S390: "The Russian Orthodox Church was the state church of the Czarist regime."

      That would be a Czarist regime that no longer exists, right?

      You may as well claim that the Kaiser's obsession with creating an Imperial High Seas Fleet tells us volumes about Merkel's view of Germany's role in NATO.

      S390: "Stalin rehabilitated it during WW2 into a submissive puppet."

      Yeah, and his regime is also long-gone.

      You would have just as much relevance arguing that Mao's whacky ideas regarding Great Leaps Forward gives us insight into Xi Jinping's current economic plans.

      S390: "The fall of the Soviet Union"....

      ...oh, you noticed that, did you?

      S390: ...."began a process of restoring the Orthodox Church as the favored religion of the nationalistic government,"....

      A meaningless statement. I have a favourite pop star, but that doesn't mean that Taylor Swift is my spokesperson.

      S390: ..."which in turn is increasingly a dictatorship...

      Well, apart from those inconvenient elections that Putin keeps winning.

      S390: "To put this in context, when the Archbishop of Canterbury, during World War 1, called for the extermination of the Turkish people in retaliation for their genocide of Armenians, do you think the British government was free of responsibility?"

      Why, yes. Yes, I do.

      Unless you want to argue that the British Government is in the habit of including the Archbishop in cabinet meetings, or that one of the responsibilities of being the head of the Church of England is that of running the Foreign Office.

      S390: "What secular reason could Putin possibly have for his massive gay-bashing crusade?"

      Niiiiiiice Red Herring you got there.

      S390: "Sounds like he’s doing a quid pro quo for the Orthodox Church on that one."

      No, it doesn't sound like that at all.

      It *sounds* like Putin doesn't bother consulting with church officials when it comes to military strategy and foreign policy decisions.

      Which would rather suggest that these two church leaders are speaking out of ignorance on topics over which they have no authority to speak, and are doing so in a venue that is utterly inappropriate.

      Or, in John McCain's words describing Sarah Palin: She's Gone Rogue!

      It happens. It is the despair of every political leader when it does happen, but it's not their fault nor is it their responsibility.

      The *responsible* answer from the leader is to disassociate themselves from those who have no authority to speak out of turn.

      Oh, look, Putin and Lavrov have done exactly that.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • Your conflation of Tito's Yugoslavia with the DDR is unfortunate and inaccurate. Tito managed to unify and integrate what had been a rather cumbersome and artificial multi-ethnic state, partly due to his internationalist ideology, and established economically a semi-successful development state, in which workers had significant rights and input in management. And certainly the overall political atmosphere in Yugoslavia was much freer than in any Soviet bloc state. It, of course, all came apart a decade after his death when IMF "shock therapy" was imposed on the country,-(there was a balance of payment crisis and inflation reached 1200%),- which destroyed the self-management system, resulted in mass industrial unemployment and shattered the legitimacy of the government, leaving a power vacuum in which ethno-centric extremists opportunistically emerged. It seems like an instance of the very sort of inverted and fallacious historical "reasoning" that you are otherwise criticizing.

    • And you think Gaddafi was predictable? People in Libya complained bitterly they never even knew tax rates from one month to the next; impossible to run a business.

    • Outside forces (Nations) have no right overthrowing a dictator or any leader.

      This is were you fail miserably, in not acknowledging this crime.

    • Ask Somalis was Somalia a better place after Siad Barre? It is certain that Somalis after thinking a while of what followed: decades of violence, no order, poverty, death, militias etc would answer "probably not". During Saddam's rules start Iraq developed with giant steps until Saudis and USA conned him to attack Iran. However Saddam, Gaddafi and Assad could provide order and security for their people. Not democracy or no secret police, but compared to the pro-US kings, presidents and PMs in Middle East they were no better or worse. From the viewpoint of Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians the world would be a better place and more stable without Israeli prime ministers, past and present. It depends what we mean by "better place and stable" and from whose viewpoint we estimate that.

    • If Donald Trump meant that Iraq and Libya would have been more stable today had the US/West left their constitutional evolutions to work themselves out, he could well be right. However, things are not that simple. The actions of the US/West in the ME over the last 15 years have been stages in their own evolution on the global stage. The whole 'what if' business is simply an attempt to write alternative history based on what didn't happen.

    • Seems to me that, for the common citizen, stability is day to day predictability. That at least gives the citizen the ability to best adapt to the local environment. If a brief, possibly bloody, surge of instability results in a predictable, but better life for the citizen, then I would have a positive feeling about it.

      The US and its allies have spared no wealth and action in the Middle East to generate trasformative instability, but long term instability, with no notion of what the final form will take, is what has resulted.

      I don't think we have yet seen a recent result that proves Trump wrong.

  • Facing ISIL Propaganda, Russia Denies its Syria Campaign is a "Holy War" (19)
    • Two columnists at Asia Times differ from the mainstream media peddlers in Washington on Putin - a sign the former probably know what they are talking about:

      "Grading the Putin school of international affairs": Codevilla By Angelo Codevilla - link to


      "Russia outflanks Turkey in Syria" By M.K. Bhadrakumar - link to

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • Very well put. Change has to come from within a country.

    • […] No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn’t be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators Juan Cole […]

    • Regarding NATO's role in the overthrow of Gaddafi:

      (1) agreed that Mistrata was bravely defended by rebels for months without outside intervention;

      2) Benghazi was being invaded by Gaddafi's forces and his son announced the eventual fall of the rebel movement within a few weeks as the Libyan army had been rolling victories along the Mediterranean coast on the way to Benghazi - until French jet bombers struck against regime forces and drove them back in a long retreat that resulted in the fall of Tripoli;

      (3) U.S. cruise missiles destroyed Libyan government communication facilities which not only hastened Gaddafi's fall, but were welcomed by the Libyan populace.

      Without NATO intervention in Libya, the Arab Spring revolution there may have failed or at least been delayed.

  • The Young Iraqis Promoting Darwinism and Rationalism To Save Iraq (5)
    • I think this author is exaggerating this idea that there's no science in Iraq except for what they bring to it. But then I take what NIQASH says with a big grain of salt anyway...

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • So true, Juan, and mostly overlooked by politicians, pundits, think-tankers and the like (many of whom have not read your latest book). It is a conservative mantra to glorify the past, thus abrogating their adult and personal responsibility to create and maintain a free, lawful and fair present, and prepare their offspring to carry this into the future. Many American neocons remain adolescents, enthralled with their adult toys of destruction and/or pleasure, but never accepting the responsibility for the misuse or over indulgence of them.

  • Syria: Russians volunteering to fight ISIL alongside Leftist Kurds (3)
    • The Peshmerga are not "leftist Kurds". They are affiliated with the mainstream Kurdish leadership largely controlled by the Talabani and Barzani clans and been around for many decades.

      The Peshmerga are cooperating with the U.S. Central Command as part of an anti-ISIS coalition under Operation Inherent Resolve.

      There is a leftist Kurdish organization - PKK - that is Marxist in orientation that the U.S. State Department and the Turkish government has designated as a terror organization. They are fighting ISIS in northern Syria - with a large percentage of female fighters. PKK has been led by the imprisoned Abdullah Ocalan.

  • Alabama Requires Photo IDs for Voting, Then Shutters DMV Offices in Black Counties (8)
    • Read your missive but there is a somewhat different take regarding the SCOTUS and the overt racism of the extremist Justices. So, bear with this?

      The nibbling at the ankles by extremists of long-standing law and the PERSONAL opinions blurted by a few Justices nominated by a moron court-installed President changes nothing. Some of whom have gone so far as to call our President, a gentleman of color, a liar to his face while sitting as audience in Congress. These racist ticks embedded in positions of power, trust and authority BRING DISGRACE to each and every one of us and our once great country as they suck equality and decency from our laws.

      Voting rights for citizens are still universal. Law forbidding hate crimes still exist and housing cannot be denied on the basis of color. The fact some of these laws have recently been weakened is another clear indication that overt racism is still very much part of the American condition.

      No matter what corporate-controlled media would have us think.

  • Red Crescent: Israeli forces injure Nearly 500 Palestinians in 3 days (2)
    • While I abhor violence, I noted that you did not quote any Israeli source re: the incidents you reported on. Fair reporting? I think not!

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • You lost me now, Dr. Cole, the No_Fly_Zone turned out to be a Nato bombing range, but that made no difference?
      Gaddafis weapons were transfered to Syria, but made no difference?
      I suppose we should flood Saudi-Arabia with guns in order to "stabilize" them too?
      I don't like Trump either, but this makes no sense....

    • Trump said those countries would be "more" stable, not "stable." He is right.


    • in sharp contrast with JC consider the words of the former UK ambassador to syria: "cameron got it wrong; russia got it right... the fall of assad regime would be a disaster" the sky news video interview is clear and compelling
      link to

    • Professor Cole,
      Surely you're aware of the reports that from the beginning of the 2011 uprising there were armed (weapons supplied by whom? Islamic extremists within the ranks of the protesters, and that thereafter their numbers steadily increased? As for NATO not having seriously influenced the outcome in Libya, your opinion contrasts sharply with media stories at the time which talked about the rebels being on the verge of annihilation by Gadaffi forces. Didn't sound then (assuming the reporting was accurate) that the insurrection had much of a chance.

    • Trump will be out of the Republican primary race before the New Year ball drops.

      The corporate-controlled media will have to find another diversion.

    • The unnecessary Iraq war alone cost 200,000 dead including 4491 US soldiers, 2.2 Trillion+ and counting. And Iraq is a mess today.

    • Had the US not invaded Iraq, Syria wouldn't be in the mess it is currently. @realDonaldTrump has a point. Middle East at it's worst

    • Donald Trump is running for President, not for chairman of the History Dept. Trump is making a radical and important point: recent Middle East interventions by the US have not had a stabilizing effect-that is, they have not furthered US interests.
      Is this post arguing that these US interventions served US interests or not?

    • Let's not forget the local joke about Bashir's father: huwa kan labwa qabel assad. He was a bitch before a lion.

  • Facing ISIL Propaganda, Russia Denies its Syria Campaign is a "Holy War" (19)
    • On the subject of foreign fighters and their motivation; Let us recall the Abraham Lincoln brigade in the Spanish civil war, 2,800 Americans and the government had no objection. We may find idealism misplaced but it's not necessarily crazy.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
    • This is why I visit this site everyday for your "Informed Comment." To me, the non middle east scholar, Trump's remarks sounded rather enlightened. I should have considered the source.

      Maybe I wanted to believe that Bush/Cheney and their chickenhawk advisers, all of whom I detest with every fiber of my being, are completely to blame for the current turmoil throughout the middle east, a position I'm not prepared to completely abandon.

    • Thanks Juan for explaining all of this. It is unfortunate that celebrities like Trump or ill informed politicians try to become history experts and formulate bd policy on millions of people.

    • Changes in Iraq and Libia could have come from within. Outside forces, whose motivations have been very questionable, obliterated the possibility of any domestic political discourse.

  • Education for refugees can help save Syria's lost generation (1)
  • Kathleen Turner: The Real Target of the Planned Parenthood Attacks (8)
    • The republicans are extremely foolish to side with the anti-abortion, anti-birth control MINORITY.

      In the medium to long term, the anti-abortion MINORITY can NOT WIN and in fact will lose everything due to some basic facts:

      -For over 50,000 years human females have used birth control to minimize pregnancies. The only difference between then and now is we now have much safer and effective technology.

      -For over 50,000 years human females have terminated pregnancies. The only difference between then and now is we now have much safer technology.

      Human females will NOT change this 50,000 year behavior.

      - No matter how draconian the laws become, abortion and birth control will continue. Recently RU-486 "abortion" pills were sent via balloons over the border into a country that has strict antiabortion laws.

      - When the laws become draconian enough, the republican party will be almost wiped out.

      - almost half the women in the USA know at least one woman (themselves of a close friend or relative) that has had an abortion and most will not tolerate restrictive laws.

      - The younger women are waking up to the fact that they need to use their political power to defeat the antiabortion folks once and for all. The republicans will NOT get any of those votes.

      The bottom line is while the republicans may be able to use abortion to get some votes right now, in the mid term they will have to either completely throw the antiabortion folks overboard with an anchor around their neck or suffer massive defeat.

      Just who do the republican think is the constituency for antiabortion laws? As I try to count the numbers I can't get over about 25% of the population.

      From a purely practical point of view, the republicans should tell the antiabortion folks to shut up and go sit in the corner and never bring up any more antiabortion laws because the topic is a mid term loser.

  • Deal with Saudis? Why does the US care if Russia bombs al-Qaeda and its Allies in Syria? (33)
    • Keep in mind that the REPUBLICAN congress has CHOSEN to not authorize active warfare against ISIS. They will NOT even discuss it.

      While Putin, as a virtual dictator, can just order up war any time he wants, the POTUS has very limited war making ability. Per the USA Constitution, Congress MUST authorize and fund ALL war making that the USA engages in.

      The reason the USA has not been able to accomplish very much is the POTUS has no leverage and the so-called coalition is not really interested in stopping ISIS and in many cases (Saudi Arabia and Turkey) are actively helping ISIS.

      Obama is NOT the blame for the situation with ISIS. Most of the lack of action rests squarely on Congress.

      That being said, the congress critters have a very valid reason for not even discussing ISIS - If congress authorizes war on ISIS, most congress critters will lose their job and a few might even be strung up on the nearest light post.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators (44)
  • Facing ISIL Propaganda, Russia Denies its Syria Campaign is a "Holy War" (19)
    • With Jaw-droppingly tactless and unthinking friends like these, Putin doesn't need enemies. They are neck and neck with the GOP hopefuls in the stupid stakes

    • Qatar, Iran and Russia all have a common cause in Syria. Over 90% of Professor Cole’s “Phony Caliphate” is composed of non-Syrian fighters led by those who want control of the same “common cause” in Syria and Iraq.

      The very complex relationships and motivation can be found here in excruciating detail:

      link to

      Russia has the on-tap fire power to perhaps determine who eventually gains control. President Obama predicts another quagmire situation for Russia. Hopefully, the next U.S.President will not draw our country into this quagmire, as well? A Republican President will with certainty.

      Sure is funny how religion falls by the wayside except for motivational purposes of the less-educated devout when the actual “common cause” becomes obvious?

      Greed trumps any God every time.

  • Afghanistan's Elite Special Forces led in Recovering most of Kunduz from Taliban (3)
    • A U.S. AC-130 gunship fired on the hospital for approx. 30 minutes. There had to be an American “tactical air controller” working with Afghan forces on the ground directing the gunship.

      This would be a very opportune time to completely withdraw from Afghanistan. Besides, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline, discussed for more than 20 years, is finally under construction, the Pentagon Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO) works are complete and the last CIA opium crop is in.

      Time to go.

  • Facing ISIL Propaganda, Russia Denies its Syria Campaign is a "Holy War" (19)
    • At this point, who really cares which way the Daesh goons twist things? We already know these cockroaches will twist any words and situations to fit their sick narrative that anybody but them must die.

      Ultimately, it's becoming clear that Daesh is really run by a handful of hard and insane criminals left over from Saddam's regime, who have used this jihadi holy war narrative to lure in thousands of duped young men who will all be used as cannon fodder for their goal of power at all costs. We should be thankful they are still pouring in. Having them all in one place makes them easier to crush. Just like cockroaches.

    • Hardly a "holy war" by the Russian government.

      It is estimated that about 60% of Russia is atheist or otherwise classified as "non-religious".

      Russia's ties to Syria are primarily economic as opposed to purely military presence.

      Russia is a supplier of billions of dollars in military hardware and other war materiel to the Assad regime. Russia has an even deeper relationship with Syria economically with development and maintenance of Syria's infrastructure. This relationship has existed for decades between the two countries.

      That said, the Russian Orthodox Church undoubtedly has concerns over the those Syrian-rite Orthodox adherents who may be endangered by ISIS.

  • Aided by Climate Change, ISIL wages Water war on Shiites of south Iraq (1)
    • "ISIS" isn't just composed of bunches of jihadists. In Iraq at least, it has been led and organized by some of Saddam's old Iraqi Army soldiers and officers and Baathist secret police. Fighting ISIS will require fighting them too. And the Shia Supremacist regime in Baghdad isn't up to the task and probably never will be.

      If the Shia Supremacist regime in Baghdad wants to get some of the water flowing again, it will have to reduce some of its Shia Supremacism and offer a real and sincerely-meant fairness-and-equity deal to the Sunni Arab tribes. If they become convinced of the Shia regime's sincerity ( a tough achievement after al Maliki's doublecross of the Sons of Iraq), then enough of the Sunni Arab tribes might withdraw enough support from ISIS to make it possible to fight ISIS within Iraq itself. If the Shia supremacist regime in Baghdad refuses to do that, the Shia supremacist regime in Baghdad will continue to see the downriver Shia go thirstier and thirstier and thirstier.

  • Can anti-Muslim Bigotry Help Donald Trump Or Ben Carson Win The Republican Race? (5)