Recent Comments

  • Why Can Europe have Climate Targets but not the US? Corruption (5)
    • What thuggish behaviour concerning natural gas on the part of President Putin?

      Thuggish behaviour like expecting payment? The Ukraine owes €5 billion to Russia past due on natural gas. In addition, the Ukraine - in the middle of genocidal bloodletting of its large Russian minority - is demanding preferential pricing (about half of what Europe pays). In the middle of this Russia and President Putin are trying to build South Stream to be able to supply Europe reliably. Russia is doing everything to be a reliable partner to Europe, while the US is working to send Europe and Russia into depression by disrupting trade ties - even at the expense of a major war in Europe and possible nuclear apocalypse.

      Thuggish behaviour indeed but not on the part of President Putin or Russia but rather the United States. I'm surprised to see you of all commentators falling directly into the trap of this modern day Operation Mockingbird.

      While European politics are marginally less corrupt and less beholden to corporations but the US State Department is doing everything its can best to remedy this. I implore you not to abet them in this mission.

  • Is Egypt's Sinai going the Way of Syria? 30 Troops Killed by Militants (1)
    • Doesn't the US have troops in Sinai monitoring the border?

      Regardless, one can only expect "boots on the ground" given the relationship between the US and Egyptian oligarchies.

  • Why Can Europe have Climate Targets but not the US? Corruption (5)
    • Its partly to do IMHO with being part of the Anglosphere. The US, Canada and Australia all have climate denial as a significant part of politics. Even in the UK (which installed almost as much solar as the several times larger USA last year btw), has Cameron trying to slow wind development. Could it be because the Murdoch owned media empire has significant media ownership in these English speaking countries.

      Meanwhile China and India are getting pretty aggressive about renewables. China even reduced its coal usage for the first time ever.

      The one thing that didn't phase me however was the year on year increase in US emissions. Emissions are fairly noisy, depending among other things upon the vagaries of the weather; a cold winter in a populated part of the country will increase demand for heating for instance, and a drought will reduce hydro-power. You have to use a time series longer than a year or two to demonstrate rising/falling of emissions.

  • Double-Edged Sword: Can US overcome its Feelings of Exceptionalism? (6)
    • Makes on wonder if non-white
      people of the USA have that
      exceptional feeling when trying
      to vote, buy or rent a home,
      and other everyday exceptional

  • Iraq: Are Senior ISIL Commanders already Defecting in Mosul & Tikrit? (4)
    • American bombs convinced 'em to defect ASAP. ISIS is destabilizing large parts of the Middle East and become too big of a problem. We'll keep bombing ISIS until they no longer have so much muscle or revenue.

  • Why Can Europe have Climate Targets but not the US? Corruption (5)
    • Putin's "thuggish behavior?" How about that of the US, overthrowing a democratically-elected government as part of an encirclement of Russia? Aided and abetted by some of the EU states, now perhaps a bit sorry....

      As for the US not having any carbon-reduction goals that mean anything, the USG is far too excited about fracking making the US the dominant country in energy supplies to consider seriously trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Who cares what our grandchildren will think is apparently the motto. The Exceptional Country indeed....

  • Iraq: Are Senior ISIL Commanders already Defecting in Mosul & Tikrit? (4)
    • Gee, could it be that the dynamic of pursuit of self- interest that is endemic with the species and particularly in Byzantium and bazaar- land is just showing a little around the margins? I imagine the Caliph is maybe a little surprised at his success, like a vulture capitalist who is amazed at how easy it was to steal assets and bankrupt the firm after looting the pension accounts. What I read about the sociopolitics of afghpakistan indicates that shifting loyalties, so called, are all part of the mix, which our sneaky petes are happy to use and encourage. While selling the idiot fraud that this is a cowboys vs Indians drama. Well, the cowboys part seems right at least. ...

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • Back to differ. Assad is just another dictator fighting to retain power, while the Kurds fight to gain national sovereignty.

      Only IS made it clear that they intent the genocide of the Yezidi people (as well as the murder of all Shia they encounter).

      As a German I take it serious if some political actors announce a planned genocide, and have the means to accomplish this. All too often they tend to follow through.

      If you take this as a Western obsession I'll happily subscribe to it.

    • JTMcPhee, your post detailing Serena Shim's reports of ISIS fighters using WTO trucks from Turkey as well as her subsequent fatal car accident were key factors.

      Shim worked for Iran's Press TV.

      Today, there are reports of ISIS using chemical weapons in Kobani. The Guardian posted some pics of the victims. Politicos and the media might have a field day with this.


  • Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition (16)
    • Isn't this just giving interested parties pieces of Iraq? Saudia Arabia wants something, Qatar wants something, Iran wants something, Turkey wants something. Seems they "work" with the US in return for something.

  • Could ISIL be Put on Trial? Challenge for International Law (6)
    • I must agree with Quax. If 5 men surround a man, hold him down, two men hold his head steady while the rest pummel him yelling forsake Christianity and embrace Islam. Then they give him one more chance he says no so they cut off his head! That is murder not terrorism. The police should be called immediately, you don't stand around philosophizing.

  • Double-Edged Sword: Can US overcome its Feelings of Exceptionalism? (6)
    • I'd go with aristeides. "My country right or wrong, and whatever my country does (even if it eventually kills us, individually and as a country) is always right!" In the meantime, those who learn the skills of vampires and tapeworms and cancer cells become the truly exceptional, in the Cheney/Bush and ObamaDrone sense -- no law applies to them, they never face any consequences for the harms they do to others, and they get to own everything and rent it back to the rest of us who built it and paid for it too.

      Even some "conservatives" are getting a little nuanced, and thinking about what the doctrines and behaviors they have invented and fostered have catalyzed:

      "The End of American Exceptionalism:
      The very attributes conservatives say make America special—religiosity, patriotism, and mobility—are ones they've inadvertently [!] undermined. Is it any wonder millennials are less impressed with their country?" link to

  • Why Can Europe have Climate Targets but not the US? Corruption (5)
  • Double-Edged Sword: Can US overcome its Feelings of Exceptionalism? (6)
    • Oddly we also use the word exceptional in a highly positive context. "That student is exceptional", is usually interpreted to mean high praise for unique or rare accomplishments.

      I also note that the analogy of the family to the nation as applied to macro-economics leads to the disaster of austerity applied to recession. Though as recent history shows, Europe which doesn't make the same sort of claim to exceptionalism seems more afflicted with this than the USA.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • Something to remember, as we personify and attribute personalities to nations/states as entities that we glibly attribute as acting as some unitary thing: Whether it's our Empire, with all its little active violent greedy parts (CIA, individual armed service "intelligence" and special ops, the pieces of the State Department, the "White House", corporate grasping and killing, etc.) or "Pakistan" with all its separate conflicting also idiotic actors, or broken geographies like "Iraq" and "Syria" and soon "Israel," let's remember that it's not just "Iran," with the many parts that make up its rulership and effectives, that can and always do play several games at once. Reductionist attributions of simplistic motivations to fit an equally simplistic Game of Risk! (tm) model don't do us much good in trying to understand the flow and complexity and figure out how to protect our simple ordinary selves from being trampled.

      Too bad the moving forces that determine the direction of play and display and determine the aim of the game have little to nothing to do with stability, sustainability, decency and the welfare of all us general ordinary schmucks that fund all the Really Serious Peoples' idiocies.

  • Why Can Europe have Climate Targets but not the US? Corruption (5)
    • "Europe is less politically corrupt". I assume you exclude Greece, Italy and Spain from Europe? And possibly Portugal, and maybe Ireland. France? Belgium? As for UK, well..........

  • Iraq: Are Senior ISIL Commanders already Defecting in Mosul & Tikrit? (4)
    • ISIS disgusts the entire world.
      Even Assad knows enough not publicize his regime's mass rape (with few limits) in his hellhole Security Centers, to fill the MASS GRAVES with no photos released.
      Russian influence is claimed as a reason for the meticulous documentation of thousands of men tortured and murdered before the trip to the mass graves.

  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable (18)
    • "Did that mean Iraq was not a state in 2003?"


      (1)Iraq had many its own citizens supporting the toppling of the Baathists.

      (2)The U.S. did not re-settle hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens in Iraq;

      (3)The U.S. did not prolong military occupation for decades after 2003 but established an interim government;

      (4)The U.S. did not try Iraqi citizens in U.S. military tribunals.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
  • You'll be Surprised which Congressmen get Most Campaign Money from War Industry (1)
  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • So has the plan of the PNAC crowd always been to destabilize the region? How has Israel played a role in Kurdistan's power growing as a sub state? Oil pipelines?

  • Double-Edged Sword: Can US overcome its Feelings of Exceptionalism? (6)
  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • Sorry, but I think you misunderstood. There was never a question of the UN going into the African War and somehow taking a side. Once the sides wore themselves out, the UN was welcomed. The parties involved agreed to have the UN monitor the withdrawal of foreign troops. Subsequently, UN troops were used to monitor human rights, militias etc. The UN has been relatively successful in protecting civilians from militias and sometimes even taking on militias. They were able to do all this despite having limited air support, less than 25,000 soldiers drawn from a multitude of nations, without heavy equipment. It has been estimated 3,000,000 civilians (!) died in the Great African War.

      Fighting ISIS is a Western obsession. Again, using the lesson of the African War, trying to classify one side as the "bad guys" is naive. Although some parties in the African War were more vicious than others, viciousness knew no side. And MILLIONS died with barely a mention on your nightly news.

      The Syrian and Iraqi conflicts are civil wars. Civil wars are routinely vicious, with civilians being the major victims. There is little new in this conflict. In the last 25 years, there were vicious civil wars in Turkey, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied territories all claiming 10s of thousands of lives.

      There was an article in the Dec 2013 Current History called "Can Iraq Avoid a Civil War?" ISIS may have surprised the US admin and press, but it did not surprise experts on the region. ISIS is the culmination of Sunni resentment over being ruled by non-Sunnis. They are vicious, but the vicious tend to do well during civil conflicts.

      Remember the Khmer Rouge? Their viciousness was legendary, and their path to power was paved by foreign (US and Vietnamese) interference.

  • Double-Edged Sword: Can US overcome its Feelings of Exceptionalism? (6)
    • Excellent article an English professor. Appreciate the analysis of the term "exceptionalism" and its evolution to currently be used as a positive term as part of the ongoing justification (or should I say propaganda) for our wars, our torture, and our surveillance state. I am sending the article to several friends.

      It seems so long ago that a Liberal Arts education was essential for citizenship.

      Here is a book that is just out which also effectively uses language and could play an important part in a liberal arts curriculum and to educate citizens about non violent revolution in the US. The language and reasoning of the founding fathers come across in this readable book about a pivotal time in US history when the choice was between monarchy of government given back to the people.

      There is a description and acknowledgements on or Here is the title and one interview on Thom Hartmann's show.

      The American Revolution of 1800: How Jefferson Rescued Democracy from Tyranny and Faction - and What This Means Today
      by Dan Sisson (Author), Thom Hartmann (Contributor)

      The American Revolution of 1800
      link to

      There are two more interviews that can be found on Thom's

    • American exceptionalism is an interesting subject, and this article is interesting as well, although not quite accurate as to the original meaning. Exceptionalism as applied to the US had a European Christian origin. The notion was that although empires and countries and monarchies grow and decline, there might be exceptions to this cycle: those which are inspired by divine grace will be an exception to this rule of growth and decline: birth, growth, and continued growth as opposed to decay. What mattered is the extent to which the Word Of God was followed, thus the British colonies in the New World must be as "a city upon a hill." England had become corrupted, the argument went, and now it was in the New World that the exceptionalist pull would be found. As the US became more secular and as the methodologies of the Enlightenment became pervasive, exceptionalism lost its religious content to be replaced by "nature' and "natural law," such that the US would be and remain an exception to the rule of decay if "natural law" were to guide its citizens behavior. In short, science became the new religion and decay could be avoided if Americans lived in accordance with nature as determined by the "new" sciences which were developed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Should all of this occur, then American exceptionalism would be assured, and the US would not decline.
      More might be said, but in this limited space, the concept has been pervasive in the popular imagination since the earliest days of British colonialism. I suspect that exceptionalism will remain with us for a very long time.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • Hello all,

      Sorry for being a little off topic but with regards to the need to help the Yazidis and free their women and girls enslaved from the cruel militia ISIS, please note that there is a demonstration at the White House today at 2 pm. I just saw tweets by Matthew Barber @Matthew_Barber Please see below and convey to all and please retweet this.

      Matthew Barber @Matthew__Barber · 7h 7 hours ago
      Please RT: Everyone concerned for #Yazidi future—& women enslaved by #IS—can join tomorrow’s (Fri 24) demonstration at the White House, 2 pm
      0 replies 30 retweets 19 favorites
      Reply Retweet30 Favorite19
      Matthew Barber @Matthew__Barber · 7h 7 hours ago
      Yazidis will demonstrate at the White House at 2:00 pm tomorrow to call for protection for #Sinjar & action to free enslaved women
      0 replies 28 retweets 16 favorites
      Reply Retweet28 Favorite16

    • Spot on! And they can play several games at once.

  • Renewables & the Future of India: IT Center Bangalore goes Solar to avoid Brownouts, High Electricity Bills (4)
  • Top 4 Things we can learn from War on Terror in "War on Ebola" (6)
    • Think about that a minute. Fear can get in the way of effective action and isn't necessarily that productive, but it can provide needed concentration on very real problems and threats. Getting past fear may be a first step but it does nothing to address real, objective problems. Magical, positive thinking is effete and fatal.

      To paraphrase what the Chairman said, and is often incompletely quoted, the US is a paper tiger, but its bombs and guns are very real.

  • Iraq: Are Senior ISIL Commanders already Defecting in Mosul & Tikrit? (4)
    • Infiltration should be fairly easy for intelligence services since IS apparently lets any yahoo join who can recite some lines from the Qur'an and is willing to swear fealty.

  • Could ISIL be Put on Trial? Challenge for International Law (6)
    • Prosecution would send a clear signal that the world embraces due process and human rights, and that in due course this will always trump the make believe universality of an extremist ideology.

  • Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition (16)
    • Just learning about all this... I know there are Iran-aligned militias in Iraq, but does Iran actually have its own military (Revolutionary Guards, etc.) fighting against ISIS in Iraq currently? Has that specifically been requested by Iraq?

      If this Shiite coalition does come into being, what kinds of specific things could Iran do against ISIS, say, in Syria? Send troops? Or are we talking about diplomatic steps?

  • America didn't learn the Lessons of Tribes & Counter-Insurgency in Vietnam, Leading to the Iraq Quagmire (12)
    • And what are YOU saying? Hard to make out.

    • Not saying that at all. But. Please to reflect on the gentle nature of what WE have done there and what replaced the Taliban in Kabul and how successful our coalition nation building counterterrorism activities have been. And I hear it's another record opium harvest this year, and the Taliban thing, was that defeated by a trillion bucks and all that bought? Evil is all around. Don't be falling for Narrative illusions.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • UN troops to take down IS would require a fighting mandate, don't see how this could get through the security council. Although it would be great if this could be accomplished.

    • When fighting IS it is definitely a step in the right direction.

    • The way the Iraq Kurds organized their sub-state they are a far cry from just another bunch of warlords.

    • Well condensed and probably inevitable.

    • I'll give it a shot...

      Last weekend, Press TV's Serena Shim reported ISIS fighters were using World Trade Organization trucks to travel from Turkey into Syria. Press TV is Iran's English news broadcaster. Later on Sunday, Shim was killed in a traffic accident under murky circumstances. Some time later, Erdogan said Turkey would allow Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to cross from Turkey into Kabane so they could fight ISIS.

      Iran suspects Turkey's odd moves are really aimed at taking down Assad, not defeating ISIS. So, Iran countered Turkey's moves by proposing an alliance with Lebanon and SYRIA to fight ISIS. That way, Iran protects Assad while claiming to fight ISIS.

      The Persians did invent chess. Iran ALWAYS has one more move.

  • Renewables & the Future of India: IT Center Bangalore goes Solar to avoid Brownouts, High Electricity Bills (4)
  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable (18)
    • Well, here's a classic example of how delusional Israel's leadership is: "Libya was a new creation, a Western creation as a result of World War I. Syria, Iraq, the same — artificial nation-states — and what we see now is a collapse of this Western idea"

      That the Israel Minister of Defence proclaiming the inevitable end of all the Middle East states that were created as a result of the decisions made by the colonial powers in the aftermath of WW1.

      He does so without - apparently - understanding the irony of that proclamation as it applies to his own state.

  • Climate Treaty Follies: How Inaction is Endangering the World (1)
    • Although we may already be past the point of no return to stop global warming before its consequences are serious I wish you fantabulous felicitations and many blessings for your Birthday.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • National sovereignty is not just dying there. A recent poll shows secessionism growing in the USA:

      link to

      A substantial number of Americans will never accept sharing real power with people of other races, religions or gender orientations. And that implication that secession is necessary to protect "real" Americans is really the implication that the only real nation is a "pure" tribe; the rest of us are just conquered subcreatures fit only to serve.

      They, like their jihadi counterparts, are fighting to undo the Age of Reason. At least nationalism gave us a legitimate basis to evolve democracy. Without it, even the slender fantasy of equality between peoples goes down the toilet. The last time democracy failed, it took 2200 years to get it going again.

    • Sorry, hit "Post Comment" a bit early. Just wanted to add that a small UN force successfully oversaw the withdrawal of foreign troops from Congo, and to this day, the UN force has been relatively successful in bringing security to Eastern Congo. Maybe someday the UN can bring peace to the Middle East.

    • I agree. It reminds me of the so-called "Great African War" involving Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Angola, etc and various militias in said countries.

      It would be interesting in using the progress and aftermath of that war as a possible future for the middle east. Congo is still weakly governed, and its resources were widely looted by militias and foreign soldiers.

    • You certainly need a 9-dimensional roadmap to follow it. I think it's something like - Turkey hates and opposes the Kurds. Turkey also is occasionally attacked by ISIL, whom they oppose as well. If Kobane falls it'll be bad for Turkey, so even though it'll help the Kurds, Turkey wants Kobane not to fall. Turkey doesn't want to help directly, but they'll let someone else help.

      Or perhaps that's not right at all. My head hurts.

  • Could ISIL be Put on Trial? Challenge for International Law (6)
    • Yes, we should punish those who were created by those who now feel betrayed. When you create the conditions for monsters, you have no right to assert any authority over their actions when they attack you.

  • Top 5 Good News Solar Energy Stories Today (15)
    • Once Morocco gets those plants built, Morocco could then demonstrate a solution to the "storage problem" by using electricity to electrolize water and store the hydrogen just like natural gas till sundown and then after sundown re-oxidize the hydrogen to get back the energy invested in electrolyzing the water. The energy "get-back" could be extracted as electricity.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • Of course your basic premise in nonsensical. What we are seeing in ME is the end of STATE sovereignity, not NATIONAL one; since neither Iraq nor Syria are nations. They are in fact oppressive states where some national groups (Kurds) are oppressed by others (Arabs, initially Sunni, nor Shi'ite).
      On the other hand, the involvement of Kursdish troops from Iraq in aid of their national compatriots in Syria speaks, to the contrary of your premise, to establishment of national (in this case Kurdish) sovereignty across artificial borders, lines in a sand which are a relic of colonialist machinations.

  • Could ISIL be Put on Trial? Challenge for International Law (6)
  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • The US, and our huge corporations, ignore or recognize national sovereignty at their arbitrary pleasure. So do all the other players. Nations form and dissolve all the time. link to Czechoslovakia? the Soviet Union? Ukraine? Almost, even, the United States? There's nothing apparently sacred or reliable about nation-state-ery, nor any protections in that legalism for ordinary people just trying to make their way in an increasingly dangerous world.

  • Renewables & the Future of India: IT Center Bangalore goes Solar to avoid Brownouts, High Electricity Bills (4)
  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • The end of national sovereignty didn't begin with the Kurds. ISIL has been operating with no regard for sovereign borders for some time. (And I seem to remember an invasion in 2003 which had little regard for Iraqi sovereignty.)

  • America didn't learn the Lessons of Tribes & Counter-Insurgency in Vietnam, Leading to the Iraq Quagmire (12)
    • What is different between the French in Vietnam and the Americans in Iraq is that The French were the government, the US was not. The reason we were there so long was that we let the Baathist army keep it's weapons. The French didn't do that.

    • It all goes back to the aftermath of the "First" Gulf War, where we encouraged the people to rise up, and when they did, we let them get mowed down by the tune of a quarter million.

      Why would anyone trust us after that?

    • North Vietnam was a colonial fief of the Soviet Union which the US didn't invade and therefore let it be for the most part.

    • Are you saying that the Taliban and the Commies were NOT evil?

    • Are you saying that South Korea is a complete and utter failure? Are you saying that there is an ongoing insurgency in South Korea and that the US is not doing enough to stop it?

      Are you saying that Kim Jong UN is the rightful ruler of South Korea?

  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable (18)
    • Max Weiss flags a blip of apparent sanity in the recent, largely un-noted pronouncement of the Likudnik Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin:

      At a conference earlier this week, Rivlin, Israel’s president, said “It’s time to admit honestly that Israeli society is sick.” He went on to suggest that his country’s Jewish citizens have “forgotten how to be decent human beings." link to, and link to

      Of course the message is also that "both sides" are equally at fault, but maybe, having found they are walking themselves into a cul-de-sac with an IED at the end of it, and hearing footsteps and seeing lots of movement in the shadows and doorways, and hearing ever more weapons being locked and loaded all around, some of the Likudniks are sensing their vulnerability... The sharp move, of course, would be to try to "freier" the Palestinians into "making nice first." link to

      Of course, there's always that nice cache of 200 or 400 or 600 nuclear weapons on constant alert. link to, giving the vicious old Likudniks a nice "Samson Option." You have to wonder what their Rulers' personal escape plans are... link to

      I wonder: Israeli espionage on "us" has given them access to all our Single Integrated Operational Plan and CONPLAN 8022 documents. I wonder if our battlespace managers have had equal access to the Israeli "National Target List" and operational plans? And what, particularly, the Xtianists and Rapturists in the US Air Force have in mind, if they do?

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
    • Dr. Cole,

      I'm not sure if you're aware of the various theorists about fourth-generation war (with the beginning of the first generation marked at the Peace of Westphalia), like Martin Van Creveld, William S. Lind, etc. They enjoyed a surge of popularity (in some circles) after Sep 11, and particularly after the Iraq war tuned into a guerrilla conflict.

      One of the hallmarks of fourth generation war is that it is often conducted by non-state forces such as militias, gangs, terrorist groups, etc. Martin van Creveld positions this within a general "decline of the state."

      One of the predictions that came out of that camp is that, having destroyed the Iraqi state, it would be very difficult for anyone to put it back together again. Obviously, recent events have provided dramatic support for these theories.


    • The idea of substates sending militas into other countries to conduct wars does not sound like a step forward.

    • There is a big difference between sovereignty in law and in reality. In theory, international law requires that a sovereign state effectively control its territory. In practice, many "states" are recognized that have no such effective control, while many states that do control territory go unrecognized. Put another way, the law defines a state by recognition by other states, whereas political science defines it as any entity having an actual, effective monopoly on violence within a particular area. As a political fact, there has been no state of Syria since 2011, and no state of Lebanon since the seventies.

  • Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition (16)
    • True, but in principle, there is no negative connotation to the historical symbol of the swastika. WWII pitted the allied forces against the axis forces and GWB ( or more accurately his speechwriter) coined the term " axis of evil." I was just wondering.

  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable (18)
    • Please refresh my memory: Wasn't there a humanitarian boat that left Ireland a few years ago to bring medication, food, and other products to Gaza before or after the Turkisk ferry Mavi Marmara's target of attacks and piracy in international waters by Israel?

    • Einstein was quite upset at the idea of the creation of Israel following the Zionist plan, which he called fascist in a December 4, 1948 letter to the New York times co-signed with some 27 other NY Jewish intellectuals, and asking the US president not to meet Menachem Begin and not to support the creation of Israel.

    • Import duties could work, but only depending on the importing country's goverment agreement to do so. The actual trick for evading not possiby duty fees but rather boycott of Israel's products is the one initiated by Canada's best friend of Israel, prime minister Stephen Harper, who changed the labelling requirements for produces sold in Canada by not having the companies obliged to use “Made in...”, “Produce from...” Instead it's now “Prepared in...”, “Packaged in...” So, thanks to Harper and his electorate and friends from B'nai B'rit, Israel is laughing at the face of Canadians who would like to boycott that shameless land and freedom stealing country.

  • Could ISIL be Put on Trial? Challenge for International Law (6)
    • "And, with Iraq currently in a state of armed conflict, certain violent acts that are forbidden during peacetime become permitted under international law, so IS lawyers could claim that peacetime rules no longer apply."

      From WikiPedia's article on 'chutzpah':

      Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines chutzpah as "gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts', presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to". In this sense, chutzpah expresses both strong disapproval and condemnation. In the same work, Rosten also defined the term as "that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan".

  • Renewables & the Future of India: IT Center Bangalore goes Solar to avoid Brownouts, High Electricity Bills (4)
  • Could ISIL be Put on Trial? Challenge for International Law (6)
  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable (18)
    • It is unlikely that Israel has even another 10 years before it is forcibly dismantled. Although many still believe the myths of the "mighty Israelis warrior," the hard truth is Israel is trying to paddle up the waterfall with an obsolete paddle There are several unstoppable trends that mean that either Israel will negotiate a FAIR agreement within the next few years or it will have a fair agreement forcibly imposed on it shortly thereafter.

      (1) The Israelis supporters outside Israel are literally dying off - that is they are growing very old and the replacement humans have zero sympathy for Israel. This is happening all over the globe. Even in the US, the generation change is happening and soon not even the congress critters will stay bought.

      (2) The world is awash in weapons equal to any weapon Israel has or will ever have. In fact, many nations (Iran, China, etc.) have invented whole new methods of warfare that almost ensure an Israeli defeat. Tens of thousands of low cost, reasonably accurate missiles easily trump very expensive aircraft and pilots and very expensive anti-missile systems. Also, now every soldier has automatic weapons (per CJ Chivers there are well over 100 million AK-47 and equivalent weapons on earth with thousands more being made each and every day). Tom Friedman is very, very correct that the world is flat when it comes to technology and that also applies to war technology.

      (3) After Israel loses the USA, no other country on earth will protect Israel because it is no value to any other country. Israel has no natural resources and only a miniscule part of its intellectual property is unique and all intellectual property can easily be stolen or revere-engineered.

      There are many other reasons why Israel has no future, but unfortunately, Israelis are so delusionally deep into their myths, they have no ability to understand just how bad their future will be if they don't make the best deal they can today.

      The MAJOR problem in Israel today is there is NO ONE with the political clout and military power to make Israelis understand just how limited their future will be if they continue on the same path. Israelis are quite simply walking blindly over the cliff.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria (29)
  • Top 4 Things we can learn from War on Terror in "War on Ebola" (6)
  • Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition (16)
    • Have a Happy Birthday, Juan.

    • On October 10th, Iran warned Turkey not to intervene in Syria. Over the weekend, Erdogan flip-flopped and joined Obama's coalition against ISIS but taking down Assad's regime is still their main goal.Today, Iran's proposed an axis against ISIS that also includes Syria.

      Tomorrow, Rouhani and Ergodan will get together and sing "WE ARE FAMILY" in Farsi and Arabic.


  • America didn't learn the Lessons of Tribes & Counter-Insurgency in Vietnam, Leading to the Iraq Quagmire (12)
    • One of the striking things in both Afghanistan and Iraq was how very much the relationships area under the "command" of coalition partners -- the British and the Dutch come to mind specifically -- were in fact qualitatively different. The reason usually given was that these troops were not combat, although they did operate in self-defense, sometimes often.
      The Americans inability to "buy friends" particularly in Iraq, and the extraordinarily poor quality of partners we enriched with little to show for it again suggests boobish mismanagement. In Afghanistan our inability to track and follow up on contracted was exploited furiously -- and I believe the same was true in Iraq. Whether it was true incompetence, confusion/resentment of 'the mission' or simply a refusal to risk personal safety at all, confuses me -- or yet more hopeless chain-of-command failure.
      My impression, repeatedly, was that American boorishness and frank racism made enemies quickly and indelibly -- still it would be interesting to revisit the British occupation of Basra and the various sectors not-under-US authority in Afghanistan.
      It would appear, based on this thesis, that the reason Afghanistan has been spared the blood-letting "insurgency" of Iraq is that the Taliban never really went away, so regardless of the incompetence or corruption in Kabul, life did go on -- miserably poor and without much improvement. (I recall the irony that American roads opened up to the attack any number previously safe remote "forgotten" villages -- and competition to local producers -- until the roads fell into disrepair and the price of those goods rose precipitously as transportation costs added to purchase prices.
      I've wondered if the European colonial experiences resulted in a better mindset, a different sort of racism or orientalism, an acquired "talent" for dealing with foreign, occupied populations that Americans were clueless about.

  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable (18)
    • Mark: "Depends on who you ask, however it is not much of a “state” if the IDF controls the sea, air, land and population there."

      Yeah, but the point I am making is this: Israel **isn't** the arbiter of that question, and Israel standing up and shouting "No! No Way! Not Unless I Say So!" that doesn't form the definitive answer.

      Mark: "however it is not much of a “state” if the IDF controls the sea, air, land and population there."

      The same was equally true of Iraq in 2003.
      Did that mean that Iraq wasn't a state in 2003?

      And as for your three conditions, well, there is another way.....

    • Agreed, Theodore Herzl, the primary founder of modern Zionism, was heavily influenced by a Christian minister.

      Later, the impetus came mostly from highly-organized and effective Jewish public relations networks based in the U.S.

      In its beginning in 1945, the American Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC) booked Madison Square Garden, ordered advertisements, and mailed 250,000 announcements - the first day. By the second day, they had organized demonstrations in 30 cities, a letter-writing campaign, and convinced 27 U.S. senators to give speeches.

      Grassroots Zionist action groups were organized with more than 400 local committees under 76 state and regional branches. AZEC funded books, articles and academic studies. Millions of pamphlets were distributed.

      Purely viewed as a public relations effort, the level of organizational efficiency and ultimate effectiveness were nothing short of astounding.

      Today, AZEC is largely forgotten, but is the spiritual ancestor of the vaunted Israel Lobby of today.

      The Israel Lobby today in the U.S. has been described by a University of Michigan professor as "six times as large and 100 times more organized" as its Palestinian-American counterpart.

    • There were influences in U.S. Congress in 1948 that led to Israel's creation, including New York's Emanuel Celler and Jacob Javits.

      There were also 26 pro-Zionist U.S. senators that made foreign aid dependent on a commitment that those recipients' representatives at the United Nations vote in favor of the November 29, 1947 Partition Plan. Many of the nations were still rebuilding after WWII and badly needed the funding from the U.S. State Department.

      It also should be noted that the U.S. gave only de facto recognition to Israel in 1948 and de jure recognition did not come until 1949.

      1948 was an election year and Truman's advisers recommended his support of a Zionist state due to the fact many swing states, such as New York and Illinois had substantial Jewish populations and his opponent, New York's Thomas Dewey, was about to declare his support for an independent Israel.

  • America didn't learn the Lessons of Tribes & Counter-Insurgency in Vietnam, Leading to the Iraq Quagmire (12)
    • I'm a political scientist not an anthropologist, but it seems to me that the Middle East is much more fractured than Vietnam. Middle Eastern countries, with some exceptions like Egypt and Iran, are largely artificial constructs dating from the aftermath of WWI, where boundary lines were drawn by colonial powers who pretty much ignored ethnic and tribal groups. Vietnam has much more of a history as a separate entity with a distinct language and culture. Also, it seems to me that the religious differences are much more stark in the Middle East than in Vietnam. In short, the shortcomings of our Vietnam policies are magnified greatly by the more difficult situations in Iraq and other ME countries.

  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable (18)
    • Seanad [Irish Senate] calls on Government to recognise Palestine

      Wednesday 22 October 2014 22.16

      Fianna Fáil senator Averil Power tabled the motion Fianna Fáil senator Averil Power tabled the motion

      The Seanad has passed a motion calling on the Government to recognise the state of Palestine.

      It is unlikely to change policy but the decision is the latest boost for Palestinian authorities campaigning for international recognition, coming after a similar move by the British House of Commons and Sweden's decision to recognise a Palestinian state.

      The motion called on the "Government to formally recognise the state of Palestine and do everything it can to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that citizens of both states can live in peace and security".

      It had cross-party support and passed without a vote.

      Tabling the motion, Fianna Fáil senator Averil Power said Ireland should "make it clear that statehood is a right of the Palestinian people and not a bargaining chip for the Israelis to play in further sham negotiations.

      "In doing so, we will help increase pressure on Israel to pursue a genuine peace process that has a real prospect of delivering peace and justice for both Israelis and Palestinians alike."

      The Government is unlikely to follow the motion but Ms Power said Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan would visit the Seanad in November to discuss the issue.

      "It was great that we didn't have to have a vote as we had cross-party support, which sends out a strong message," she said.

      Ahead of the vote, the Israeli ambassador to Ireland, Boaz Modai, said he had contacted all senators to urge them to vote against the measure.

      "Stunt gestures such as recognising 'Palestine' unilaterally are counter-productive because they only give excuses to those on the Palestinian side who hope to achieve their goals without talking directly to Israel," the embassy said in a statement.

      But the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign called the move an important expression of support for Palestinian statehood that would "increase diplomatic pressure on Israel to end the occupation".

      link to

  • America didn't learn the Lessons of Tribes & Counter-Insurgency in Vietnam, Leading to the Iraq Quagmire (12)
    • America has not learned, and America refuses to learn. I guess the name for this "illusion" (or delusion) is hubris. One would think that America would have learned from Korea and Viet Nam that overseas entanglements were not worth the price of blood and treasure. We still have not learned, even after Afghanistan and the many, many years of Iraq.

  • Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition (16)
  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable (18)
    • Despite Obama's ramblings to the contrary, it is a complete myth that Jews longed for a homeland for 2000 years.

      During the 2000 year period, the numbers of Jewish pilgrimages to Palestine was minuscule compared to the numbers of such Christian pilgrimages.

  • Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition (16)
    • I have to admit, my head is spinning from the bewildering machinations of the Middle East. This proposed Shitte coalition is fine by me. More of a recognition of an existing, if fragile, alliance than anything else.
      link to

      Speaking of fragile alliances, today Erdogan is criticizing the U.S. airdrop to Kobane because a palette may have found its way to ISIS. He says the U.S. has aided ISIS. Kinda funny. On reflection, a predictable cheap shot given the international criticism he's under.

      With friends like Pakistan and Turkey, who needs enemies?

  • America didn't learn the Lessons of Tribes & Counter-Insurgency in Vietnam, Leading to the Iraq Quagmire (12)
    • Speaking of parallels, another book by an actual participant points up (unintentionally, mostly) more of what's sick and deformed about the US empire. "First In: An Insider's Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan," by CIA paramilitary field operative Gary Schroen, somehow made it past the CIA censors, to lay out many braggadocio bits of the Great Defeat of the Evil Commies and Taliban by the "Northern Alliance" of the same kind of self-interested warlords.

      The book showcases "Policy" put into motion by the Great Wise Beltway Bubbleheads, uniformed, uninformed, or frockless, blessed with certain skill sets and lots of money and materiel to throw around, cursed by micromanagement to be consistent with "doctrine" that had to meet the jot and tittle of the Narrative and turned and pivoted not on any kind of consistent war plan but only the ascendance of one little group of "policy" people or another inside the Bubble. Schroen was well aware of and happy to use the corruptions, "shifting loyalties" and predilections of warlords to do the kinds of "regime change" and "interventions" that they do so much of, in service to some idiot vision or other or maybe just out of idiot habit and momentum, or because the gain personally from, or get off on, the Game. He apparently informed his bosses about the complexities of Afghan sociopolitics, to the extent that only idiots or perverse people could press ahead with the stratagems that led to where "we" are now: Used, screwed, bled and universally scorned and hated.

      What's the goal and endpoint of all this? Just more of the same, until the carbon is all burned, and a very few are left to contend over the canned goods and safe drinking water? Do "we" (or those of us who create the wealth that pays for all this, fills the ranks of soldiers, all that, have to keep it up, putting up with Rulers who keep manufacturing and/or exacerbating war-able divides, just to keep themselves and the Brass in comfort and ego-satisfaction? Just curious... It seems like such a silly structure.

  • Defying Turkey, US airdrops arms to Kobane Kurds (21)
  • Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition (16)
  • Top 5 Good News Solar Energy Stories Today (15)
    • Rolf, I have no idea if your numbers are accurate or not. But the one thing that astonishes me is how few nuclear advocates acknowledge the credibility issues that nuclear has these days.

      Nevertheless, one major advantage that solar has is scalability. Large gigawatt solar facilities can be built but many of the poorest families in Africa and Asia can also gain access to small scale solar. But another major advantage is that the cost of solar is rapidly dropping and will continue to drop for years to come.

      Solar also has a sales advantage: people can visualize solar panels on their roofs — but not a nuclear reactor.

  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable (18)
    • "Is Palestine a state or merely a territory?"

      Depends on who you ask, however it is not much of a "state" if the IDF controls the sea, air, land and population there.

      "What will it take for Israel to agree to end the occupation?....."

      (1) a UN Security Council resolution;

      (2) a final status agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions;

      (3) a unilateral Israeli pullout - as occurred in Gaza in 2005

      Another 66 years could pass before Israeli "peace negotiations" bear any fruit.

  • Top 5 Good News Solar Energy Stories Today (15)
    • That is a bit misleading. You are forgetting four things.

      1. Cost of water cooling nuclear can be very high especially where water is a scare commodity.
      2. Ongoing maintenance, which is much higher for a nuclear plant which is very complex when compared with a solar array.
      3. Damages in case of a failure. If you are engaged in risky behavior you are required to buy insurance. This is like buying a house but not buying home owner's insurance. What happens when there is a failure in a solar energy plant? Nothing. What happens when there is a failure in a nuclear plant? Please visit northern Ukraine or Japan for your answer.
      4. Where do you store the nuclear waste. We still haven't figured that out in the US. What is the cost of storing nuclear waste for 10,000 years?

      Levelized cost of nuclear is 96, for solar it is 130. Given its advantages I would prefer to pay the the 130

  • If Baghdad & the Kurds are allied against ISIL, why is Baghdad Starving Kurdistan of Money? (5)
  • Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition (16)
    • "Another source of friction between Baghdad and Tehran, al-Zaman says, is that some of the Shiite Iraqi army officers who abandoned their posts in Mosul in the face of the ISIL advance are known to be close to Iran, and al-Abadi’s new Sunni minister of defense is already making noises about punishing and purging them." What's with the "already"? I can't believe that they haven't been sacked yet! WTF?

  • America didn't learn the Lessons of Tribes & Counter-Insurgency in Vietnam, Leading to the Iraq Quagmire (12)
    • The US has long suffered from the illusion that human nature is the same everywhere and our culture is the ultimate aim of all mankind. Local cultures are simply irrelevant or at least subject to the mind bending manipulation by advertising and propaganda that has has characterized American culture and worked so well for the elite here.
      Actually, success or failure overseas is not important since it can always be spun by the media. What is important is how much money can be made along the way, and who gets to make it.

  • Iran Proposes Axis against ISIL to Iraqi PM Abadi as alternative to US Coalition (16)
    • How about a history of European violence over the last 20 centuries? Maybe overlap that with a review of wars and empires in the Mediterranean basin over the last 5 or 6 millenia, including of course Messypotamia, and the traditional recitations of Israelite history in the Pentateuch?

      And "we," not the royal or editorial form, but the pretextual presumption that those in communication with us are in comity and communion with us too, "WE" pretend or accept that it's this comfortable frame, all nice and packaged into Good Guys and Bad Guys, the Enemies du Jour vs. US, and it's supposedly about "Our National Interests Uber All..." Add the complexity of corporations bigger, wealthier and more powerful than most states, pursuing whatever THEIR interests are (mostly just MORE FOR THEM and their bigwigs?), and what do you get? Stuff like "At the same time, US and coalition fighter jets continued to fly missions against ISIL on behalf of Baghdad." Nothing but unguided wildly propagating mercenarialism... You think those other players don' be gettin' a really good old belly laugh at "us?" They can even slap us in the face, again and again, while "we" ladle out cubic kilometers of weapons and money to them, to "buy influence and loyalty to our cause"...

    • I am intrigued by the headline. Did Iran use the Farsi word for "axis" or " " alliance" ? Was the use of the word "axis" with its negative connotations a deliberate choice?