Recent Comments

  • Is Iranian power on the rise? (6)
    • The Iran arms sale was legal - however the diversion of funds from that sale of arms to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua violated the Boland Amendment of the Defense Appropriations Act of 1983 which forbade such assistance to the Contra cause.

      Check the criminal indictments of Oliver North, John Poindexter and the rest of the persons indicted at the request of the independent counsel and none were for selling weapons to Iran - they generally were for obstruction of justice or related crimes or else related to the wrongful diversion of government funds .

      Further the Boland Amendment itself had no criminal penalties itself incorporated into it.

  • BP Defends Tar Balls still washing up in Gulf (1)
    • Not that the substance of the story isn't troubling... But that BP spokesman was a former spokesman in the Obama administration, (WH or State) here we have on display the revolving door and the spin continues with a different logo.

  • Syria: Al-Qaeda takes Jisr al-Shughur, threatening Key Port (5)
    • There is no evidence that the U.S is supplying the al-Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, or ISIS - however there are credible reports that the Israeli government has a cooperative relationship with the al-Nusra Front.

      The CIA has been reportedly involved in the distribution of weaponry to pro-democracy rebels in Syria such as the Free Syrian Army.

      There have been some reports that Turkish intelligence has had a positive relationship with ISIS and also that Turkish border guards have been bribed to allow passage of ISIS recruits into Syria.

    • The great debacle committed by the Obama administration was to suspend supplying the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as they were about to topple Assad in 2013 because an FSA arms depot was raided by Islamic militants. This suspension caused many fighters to defect from the FSA to Islamic rebel organizations.

      At that time the Baathists were also close to having their overland logistics route between the Mediterranean coast and Damascus severed by FSA rebels. Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate within Syria and ISIS were had minimal presences as far as being military forces against the Baathists.

      Today ISIS and the al-Nusra Front are the two most powerful rebel groups within Syria opposing the Baathists. The Assad regime is now applauding the bombing sorties flown by the U.S. Air Force against these two Islamist opposition organizations.

      Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford has been a bitter critic of the Obama administration's handling of the Syrian situation.

      The Obama administration has snared defeat from the jaws of victory in Syria.

    • We should all be grateful that our intelligence (sic) and security (sic) agencies under the glorious leadership of Dubya and Obama decapitated the heads of Al-Qaeda; otherwise, said al-Qaeda would be creating real problems in the Middle East today.

  • Is Iranian power on the rise? (6)
  • Syria: Al-Qaeda takes Jisr al-Shughur, threatening Key Port (5)
    • Hmm, if you look on the map you'll see that both Idleb and Jisr al-Shughur are North-East of Latakia, but the supply routes out of Latakia run South-East to Damascus i.e. in the other direction.

      So these developments don't indicate that the Assad government is about to be cut off from resupply any time soon, nor that the Alawite-dominated area around Latakia is about to fall - again, a look on the map shows why.

      There is a flat plain between Idleb and Jisr al-Shughur, so their advance from the former to the latter faced little in the way of difficult terrain.

      But there is some quite mountainous territory between Jisr al-Shughur and Latakia, so a further advance to the sea will be much, much more difficult - there's pretty much only one route they can take.

    • It seems rather likely that the US is supporting these groups via Turkey in order to deny the port of Latakia to Russia. Is this known, and if so is the rationale the same as in supporting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan against the USSR, ie., simply making them an enemy, under any pretense that they might become a threat?

  • Obama "I've aged so much Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak at my Funeral" (1)
  • Iran: US, Israel dare not attack us; anyway if they could have, they would have (2)
    • She tends to long-windedness, but a certain amount of skepticism would be a good thing if practiced by American journalists too. Of course, RT does not always have the best reputation for holding Russia's leaders feet to the fire, but here she actually does question Putin's statements and actions. You can't fault her for that.

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • Obama and his spooks must be perplexed if they assumed their demonstrations of drone warfare would have persuaded their perceived evildoers the game was up and it was time to surrender. Instead, it appears that a "mushroom cloud" has formed over the region in the form of human brigands.

    • Something I thought about and want to add is that mistakes in warfare are all too common. So-called friendly fire can be destructive. The Gulf War had a large number of incidents for the length of the conflict. 24% of the combat deaths in the Gulf War were due to "friendly fire." This is about the same percentage as civilian to militant deaths due to drone strikes. Also, almost as many coalition soldiers were killed by friendly fire and accidents combined as were killed by the Iraqis (190 compared to 189).

  • Rand Paul: GOP Hawks are Obama's "Lapdogs;" McCain: Paul 'Worst Candidate' (16)
    • Does America really need to be involved in African and Asian power struggles?

      America is involved in Africa and Asia because the corporations and other lobbies that own the government want the US government and its military, if necessary, to make those regions places where they can do business profitably. Only the geography has changed since Smedley Butler said "I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers."

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • I also see no major legal issues.

      You also apparently don't see any moral issues here or the potential blowback that can come from questionable and incompetent use of drones. We are involved in the Middle East/South Asia chaos today because previous administrations since World War 2 didn't see any legal or moral issues or considered blowback when they overthrew the democratically-election prime minister of Iran in 1953 and installed the despotic Shah and his Sawak. As Chalmers Johnson and Gore Vidal and others have demonstrated that modus operandum continued for decades culminating in the Big Blowback of 9/11. And the policy continues.

  • Rand Paul: GOP Hawks are Obama's "Lapdogs;" McCain: Paul 'Worst Candidate' (16)
    • Does America really need to be involved in African and Asian power struggles?
      America should lend a meeting room and a table for all factions to sit down and talk it out. But the American method of offering arms, military advisers, strategic bombing, boots on the ground, and all out conquest---these interventions seldom if ever work. In the meantime, America wastes its treasure and blood, where it could be researching the causes of disease, natural disasters, and how to make the world a better place. Is bombing and conquest the best way to make friends and to be an influential example for the world?

  • 115 Children Killed: Saudi Arabia's War on Yemen by the Numbers (4)
    • Rookie question... what marked the houti rebels worthy of Saudi intervention yet ISIS can only generate a " meh". As the rookie I want to say that maybe the average saud and the avg ISIS see eye to eye. As a western secularist I've rooted for the non fundamentalist and non oil company backed people. And I know the houtis are not them. Yet I don't see how the houtis, in Saudi eyes, can be more dangerous than Isis even to the house of said. Thanks!

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • A lack of "legal issues" limiting drone use is more an indictment of the low level of moral comprehension of in current law than an obstacle of legal restraint. If there are no legal issues there can be no objection whatever to the targeting of US soil or representatives anywhere by enemy drones, 'enemy' specifically not inferring a national entity. Military limitations on weapons usage and continual weapons development essentially do not exist. The sky's the limit, or used to be before the weaponization of space. In the US at least civilian leadership is supposed to supply what moral deficiencies are in herent in the military. The distance between arguments on this very page illustrates the large and growing gap between societal comprehension of moral issues being continually expanded by military development. And unfortunately the ever widening societal gap of moral comprehension is not limited to military development.

  • 115 Children Killed: Saudi Arabia's War on Yemen by the Numbers (4)
    • Since the Saudis are considered 'allies' to the US they won't be questioned or scrutinized by the mainstream media, and of course, outright supported by the US govt and politicians.

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • Just to add and note, except for some of the population and views of specific targets, overall the US drone program is more unpopular with the masses in Pakistan.

  • Gallipoli: Prince Charles, Prince Harry in Turkey Honor 130,000 War Dead on Both Sides (3)
  • Blood Money? After Bombing Yemen, Saudis offer $274 mn. in Humanitarian Aid (2)
    • The US has its evil hand in the Yemen mess and, once again, a lot of civilians especially children, pay the ultimate price. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Guatemala, does it ever stop? And now, the insidious drones rein death from the skies above. What kind of karma is America building for itself? Our future suffering will be something else.

  • Gallipoli: Prince Charles, Prince Harry in Turkey Honor 130,000 War Dead on Both Sides (3)
  • A Letter of Apology to My Grandson: A Pox on Twenty-First-Century America (1)
    • sadly Tom's letter to his grandson doesn't cop to the biggest flaw in his theoretical letter. "i have done nothing to ameliorate the situation, I am trying to impress upon you the fact that I have no idea of what is, for certain, the future"

  • 115 Children Killed: Saudi Arabia's War on Yemen by the Numbers (4)
  • Iran: US, Israel dare not attack us; anyway if they could have, they would have (2)
  • Double Standard: Petraeus Avoids Prison, But Whistleblowers Not So Lucky (2)
  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • Civilian casualties in the drone war are secondary characters in a violent video game.

      The only way to stop the killing is to humanize the victims - show their pictures, tell their story's, hear from their devastated family's.

      The US media is not interested in airing those stories.

  • 115 Children Killed: Saudi Arabia's War on Yemen by the Numbers (4)
    • So sad...however thanks since no one is talking about this. Still to this day we hear little to nothing about the numbers of dead, injured, displaced in Iraq directly due to the U.S. invasion. Americans seem to like it that way

  • Tensions Boil Over After Baltimore Police Call Protesters "Lynch Mob" (1)
  • Gallipoli: Prince Charles, Prince Harry in Turkey Honor 130,000 War Dead on Both Sides (3)
    • Every person is significant, every person deserves to be remembered in the story of all human lives, the story of history ..

      I may have made many mistakes on specific historical questions, lord knows, and in general I think I've forgotten more history than you may ever know unless you study a lot, however I will claim precedence, since 1980, in arguing for a theory of history which regards EVERY PERSON as being important.

      We can't get there for the past, but that's what narrative historical art is for. However for the present and the future we can begin to fulfill that ideal, of having every person's thoughts and actions recorded for history.

      The NSA is on it, but getting access to those files and whatever shape they're in is pretty uncertain.

      We can, if we put our minds to it and work hard, begin to do the good parts of that work ourselves ... on the way to creating a global movement to improve politics and economics around the world, by building a culture of love, peace and understanding, or whatever else it's gonna take to get us thru the dangerous future that apparently lies ahead ...

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • Much as I usually agree with Juan, I have to say I'm in disagreement here. If those numbers are correct, and around 80% of those being killed by drones really are militants of some kind, I have to say that looks like a pretty fair ratio to me.

      Yes, you would like it to be better. But this is a situation where there are often are no "good" choices. Sometimes you have to choose the best of the bad choices.

      And to me, it seems that drone strikes have possibly been the single most effective tactic that has yet been employed against Al-Quaeda and associated militants.

      I also see no major legal issues. As for US law, this was clearly authorized by Congress in the 2001 AUMF, and I see no chance the Supreme Court would find it unconstitutional. As for international law, there is little protection there for non-state actors like Al-Quaeda, so as long as Packistan is either allowing the strikes, or is unable themselves to prevent Al-Quaeda from using their territory as a base, then who is going to have a valid legal complaint?

  • Is Iranian power on the rise? (6)
    • Came to mind from this fine article that the region may evolve into many new states.
      The (mostly) singular sectarian model already includes Israel, Gaza, Iran; why not allow Kurdistan and Sunnistan (East Syria and West Iraq)?

      These states can cooperate in massive solar generation/production and still sell lots of energy.

      Hope the Saudi and Persian "players" can figure out a way to fight each other less. A family feud continues still for centuries? Will the MO ever change? Hope so.

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
  • Rand Paul: GOP Hawks are Obama's "Lapdogs;" McCain: Paul 'Worst Candidate' (16)
  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
  • Rand Paul: GOP Hawks are Obama's "Lapdogs;" McCain: Paul 'Worst Candidate' (16)
    • How was a nationwide armed rebellion against Gadafi an "ordered environment"? Oh, you mean the environment that would have been restored after Gadafi exterminated the rebels. Well, then have the decency to embrace extermination on the grounds that Arabs are too "backwards" to handle freedom.

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • If innocent Afghans, Iraqi or Pakistani civilians are killed, it is simply called "Collateral Damage".

      Why this incident of innocents killing is not Collateral Damage? Or, more appropriately as west calls it “friendly Fire”. Similarly during World War II had some British Collateral Damage when London was bombed.

    • They are much better than the 'precision' bombing that the US engaged in during WW2. The Allied air forces killed over 60,000 french civilians in WW2 - and those were our allies.
      Still, the drone program is badly in need of reform. At a certain point, most of these strikes are not against high-level targets. It is time to reserve drone strikes for only the most significant of matters - and with the goal of going to zero.
      We need a return to normalcy.

  • Why Gaza Casualties were so High: Israel relaxed rules re: high-explosives in populated areas (2)
    • I guess we shouldn't be surprised. During the bombardment of Gaza, Israeli spokes were on all the news media, touting the IDF's pinpoint accuracy and surgical strikes, and how terribly careful they were to protect Palestinian civilians, even notifying them before their homes were bombed.

      This, in retrospect, should have been the tell that they were actually doing just the opposite.

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • Would a Republican president use drones for surveillance or whatever to disperse these "lynch mobs?"


      America would turn into an Arnold film.

    • But it was the militant kidnappers' compound, which included 2 Al Qaeda leaders. That was the intelligence and they don't take into account surrounding civilians to get to them. The only other solutions would have been boots on the ground, like done for OBL, which too is/was controversial and had its difficulty and risks, or continuous negotiations with militants who constantly threatened an Al Qaeda/ISIL spectacle if no ransom.

      It reminds me of the ethics in targeting Baitullah Mehsud. Intelligence knew his wife and child were in the vicinity, but killed them anyways. He was wanted so badly by the Pak govt and public for his atrocious bombings against civilians in Pakistan that they were willing to cross that line to kill him, and he was killed. Unfortunately the terrible Hakimullah Mehsud took over briefly, but too also got killed by US drone to most of the Pak public's glee, except for some sympathizers.

    • All of this technical lingo says in so many words, that these WW2 terror weapons, share very little similarities with drones.

      Their express purpose was creating terror in the civilian populations. Whereas the line of sight, and command of control nature of drones allows for much more precise engagements.

      Obviously the US is executing this very poorly and tolerates abysmally high numbers of civilian casualties but this doesn't equate this to Hitler's indiscriminate bombing campaign.

    • Correction with regards to the jet type: As can be taken from the wikipedia entry you linked to, the German word "Staustrahltriebwerk" translates to pulsejet, and while that shares some similarities with a RAM jet, the S in the SCRAM acronym specifically stand for "supersconic", and the V1 was never designed for that speed.

    • Not very different. If you could hear them, it meant their engine had not yet cut out, causing them to fall to earth and explode. The British used captured German agents to transmit false information back to Germany, giving the impression that these primitive cruise missiles were falling short of the target. The Germans duly increased the fuel load, with the result that the missiles landed well north of London.

      Bombing generally is a much overrated tactic. Hugely inaccurate in WW2, it caused huge civilian casualties (and a horrendous casualty rate among the attacking aircrews) with very little to show for it - a marginal reduction in Germany's industrial capacity until the final few months of the war.

      Current use of drones seems to be following that pattern. If the aim (no pun intended) is to "decapitate" guerrilla groups, then that is ineffective, both because of replacement leaders always being in waiting, and because of the near certainty of significant collateral damage. Add the factor Pres. Obama touched on in his speech - that intelligence is simply not good enough to ensure you aim at the right general area where the bad guys might be lurking, and you have a strategy that is simply not worth pursuing.

  • Blood Money? After Bombing Yemen, Saudis offer $274 mn. in Humanitarian Aid (2)
    • The indiscriminate bombing, and then throwing of money, shouldn't come as any surprise...none of these countries are champions of human rights, the US included...

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • It was the V2 that you couldn't hear coming because it was the first supersonic weapon. The V1 had a primitive scram jet engine that made it faster than most plans at the time, but it did not break through the sound barrier. The former was simply a terror weapon, how much more terrorizing can it get than being pulverized by something you can't even hear coming?

      The V1 was designed to be a mass produced weapon system and kept as simple as possible to that end, but Germany's industrial capacities were already depleted when the system was ready for deployment. The original idea was to be able to launch a swarm of V1s so that they could overcome the air defenses and to get the control system sufficiently accurate that strategic areas could be hit with sufficient precision.

      Near the end of the war Hitler wasn't interested in implementing this, but used the V1s in a scattershot fashion as yet another revenge weapon.

      This also allowed the Allies to learn from these attacks, and war documents that were unclassified in the nineties showed that they pulled together a weapon system based on radar, a simple analog computer and the most advanced anti-aircraft artillery at the time to automatically track and shoot down the V1.

      (My grandfather was an aviation engineer in the V1 Penemünde division as a technical lead, and by the end of the war 2nd in command).

  • Is Iranian power on the rise? (6)
    • Anything is possible...Iran although a paper tiger,can still hold sway over shite populations in Arab nations ...who are paper lambs ...Iran needs to stay clear of the US or Israel who have teeth and can bite...therefore the Obama deal...seperating Israel ...then who knows ?

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
    • What are the alternatives?

      This is the reality that so many folks ignore when they complain about the drone program.

      "Official countries" are NOT the only entities that can and will attack the USA and when the countries that are "hosting " the belligerent entities will not do anything (Pakistan in this case) what is the USA supposed to do?

      Should the USA attack the "hoisting country?" We did that in Afghanistan and it didn't really solve the problem. In fact we have tried to do that in several countries (Somalia anyone?) and it has never turned out very good.

      How would a war on Pakistan help? Especially when they are a nuclear power (without ICBMS, thankfully).

      From a pure cost/benefit analysis, directly targeting the belligerent entities with a method that endangers the fewest Americans, is probably the best choice.

      Inserting Americans in any of the areas where the belligerent entities hide would quickly find the Americans being killed by both the belligerent entity and the "hosting " country.

      The belligerent entities are essentially "lawless bandits" and all throughout history "lawless bandits" have been killed on sight.

      If anyone can explain to me a "better " way to deal with "lawless bandits" please do so.

      Yes "innocent" people are going to die, BUT if the USA does nothing, "innocent" people will die, possibly in larger numbers.

      So, since we know there are non-state belligerent organizations, that some states are "hoisting" whether they want to or not, What is the best way to deal with them?

    • As someone who has read quite a bit of military history, I would like to present a contrarian and probably unpopular view. Since the mass warfare of WWI and later, civilian deaths, have often numbered even greater than combatant deaths. With the rise of air power, it rose exponentially. How many civilians were killed in the liberation of France? I don't know that we will ever know and it wasn't really that much of a concern. It certainly wasn't a concern about the number of German or Japanese civilians killed by the allies and even now it is given short shrift. Even during Vietnam I don't remember there being as much focus on civilian deaths as is the case now and the death toll then was pretty astounding. This is not to say we shouldn't be concerned about the issue and it is good that it does get more attention. But it needs to be put in perspective. Drone strikes are probably the best way at this time to minimize civilian casualties. Certainly in the areas they are used, the only real alternative that is better is to do nothing at all. Regular air strikes and ground troops are certainly more destructive. Remember the Pakistani Army attacks in the Northwest areas a few years back? I don't recall the numbers, but I'm sure it was magnitudes more deadly and destructive in both lives and property. As to the legality, that requires a longer monograph. While I think targeting US citizens is clearly illegal, attacks carried out against foreigners in the territory of another state, with the approval of that state, is likely legal. Despite the official fiction of denials, we all know that the drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen have been carried out with the approval of those governments (Yemen, now, of course, is another story).

    • I grieve for Warren, an old and beloved friend, and for our country, which has lost its moorings.
      According to the NY TImes account, the White House said the operation that killed the two hostages “was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies” but nonetheless the government is conducting a “thorough independent review” to determine what happened and how such casualties could be avoided in the future.

      "How such casualties could be avoided." I'll save them the price of an "independent review"…STOP these drone strikes!!! Mission accomplished!

    • Contrary to assurances given by President Obama a couple of years ago.

      Who, we might usefully ask, bought those assurances?

    • ... something which will bring sorely needed scrutiny to this clearly illegal and reckless extrajudicial assassination drone program.

      Mark: I'm an appreciative follower of your comments on this website, but to put it in the kindest of terms your statement quoted above is not up to your usual standards. If there is any scrutiny by the miscreants involved it will be about how to not get caught again.

  • Rand Paul: GOP Hawks are Obama's "Lapdogs;" McCain: Paul 'Worst Candidate' (16)
    • Anon: You express the global inconsistencies very well, thanks. It is especially contrary to logic for the West to support the overthrow of Assad in Syria. Who will benefit? Mr. Chaos! Who will offer retribution to the millions of innocent Syrians caught in the crossfire of foreign irregulars? The entire miasma ought to enter "freeze frame" immediately, and everyone ought to join hands to reconstruct a destroyed country. Yeaa! And the angels ought to descend en masse and collect all weapons and intolerance, too. I believe the U.S. ought to seek a UN resolution calling for a total halt to the violence and for the rebuilding of the country. Perhaps the UN can even serve as the acting government. Wait! What would Mr. Assad say? do?

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone (28)
  • Why Gaza Casualties were so High: Israel relaxed rules re: high-explosives in populated areas (2)
  • Rand Paul: GOP Hawks are Obama's "Lapdogs;" McCain: Paul 'Worst Candidate' (16)
  • Double Standard: Petraeus Avoids Prison, But Whistleblowers Not So Lucky (2)