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Total number of comments: 1481 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:38)


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  • The Generals try to stop an Iran War
    • No, Orville, Malaysia is not an "ethnic tenderbox." Your statement makes me wonder if you have ever set foot in the country. I lived there for four years and have followed it closely. Have you ever been to Malaysia?

      Malaysia is not perfect, but it is a pretty good example of a multi-ethnic country that has made a go of combining various ethnic groups in a reasonably working political and economic system.

    • Read my post above carefully, Mr. McPhee, and you will note that I did not tie the "one-to-twenty" counter-insurgency ratio to Iran at all. I have never suggested and do not favor a land-war in Iran. My comment was in response to SpyGuy's contention that U.S. Army counter-insurgency doctrine "requires one US soldier for every 20 humans to be oppressed.” His statement reflects his own ideological preconception, not U.S. Army doctrine. "For every 20 humans to be oppressed" (emphasize on "oppressed")is pure ideological spew.

      The one counter-insurgency asset for every twenty members of the local population is a ratio that has been recognized since the Malayan Emergency. I think I made it clear that the British operated under special circumstances that contributed to their victory over the Malayan Communist Party insurgents. These circumstances included controlling the colonial Government of Malaya and developing "new villages" to separate the local population from the insurgents.

      Again, if you read my post carefully you will note that I did not suggest any land war or occupation of Iran. I was addressing SpyGuy's misleading (to put the best face on it) description of U.S. Army counter-insurgency doctrine.

    • "So, Iran is a huge scary existential threat to our very existence, but we can take them out with a few well-placed smart bombs.

      They’re somehow a monster and a pushover at the same time.

      Is it just me or is the cognitive dissonance really loud in here?"

      It's just you Keith. There is no cognitive dissonance, loud or otherwise. No one has called Iran an existential threat to the United States. Concern about a potential Iranian nuclear weapons program is based on the threat it could pose for U.S. interests, not on the continued existence of the U.S.

      And your statement implying that there are those who think "we can take them out with a few well-placed smart bombs" is way over the top. No rational "Experienced Player" (to borrow a phrase from Mr. McPhee) has ever suggested that Iran could be "taken out" with a "few well-placed smart bombs." Even those who advocate bombing Iran's nuclear facilities mean just that, targeting the nuclear facilities, not "taking out" Iran itself. Your hyperbole completely undermines what might have been a reasonable argument.

    • "Per the US Army’s own planning documents, a fairly submissive population requires one US soldier for every 20 humans to be oppressed."

      Your statement, cited above, is misleading at best and false at its worst, SpyGuy. The U.S. Army's Counter-Insurgency Handbook does not contemplate a one-to-twenty ratio of counter-insurency assets to total population in order to subdue and "oppress" an entire population, submissive or otherwise. That ratio is meant to subdue an insurgency that is not only operating against U.S. forces, but also attempting to gain control by terrorizing the local population as well.

      It is nothing new. The only truly successful counter-insurgency operation was that spearheaded by the British in Malaya during the Malayan Emergency, an effort that lasted from 1948 to 1960. The Malayan Communist Party was terrorizing both the British and the local Malayan population at the time. The British fielded a combined counter-insurgency force of sufficient numbers to reach the one-to-twenty ratio. It was not all military. It included intelligence experts, police, and others, as well as British Army personnel.

      Nevertheless, just reaching the ratio of one-to-twenty probably is not sufficient in itself. The British were in control of Malaya and governed it, so they could have their way. Additionally, they erected "new villages" and moved much of the population into them, in order to deprive the "Communist Terrorists" (as they insurgents were called) from the ability to demand support and "taxes" from the local population. The combination of British counter-insurgency maneuvers and depriving the insurgents of a base of local support resulted in defeat of the insurgents.

      Great Britain granted Malaya its independence in 1957, at a time when the insurgency was reeling. Today, Malaysia is a thriving, multi-ethnic country, due in no small part to the British success against the Malayan Communist Party's insurgency.

  • The Way Forward in the Middle East -- Peled & Peled
    • "But then I’m just a dilettante observer, not an Experienced Player…"

      As evidenced by your posting above.

    • "The Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” that aims at the establishment of two independent states, Israel and Palestine, bounded, more or less, by the 1967 borders, is totally bankrupt."

      "The solution to this problem is simple, although deeply controversial: establishing one secular, non-ethnic, democratic state with equal citizenship rights to all in the entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River."

      While it does appear that the "Peace Process," in its many iterations, that was supposed to lead to a two-state solution is bankrupt, the solution proposed in this post has no chance of being seriously considered, much less being wrapped up in a "process." It would be Dead On Arrival. More to the point, it would not even arrive; it would be Stillborn.

      To think that Israel would even consider this solution is to engage in a fantasy. I am not making a value judgment on the proposed one-state solution. In principle, a case can be made for it. But Israel would never give up its claimed raison d'etre of being a Jewish home and state. And I seriously doubt that either side, Israelis or Palestinians, would be willing to make, and live with, the compromises that would be necessary.

  • Béji: "We are all Tunisian Jews"
    • "I think we women have allowed men to make the mess we are in today, and those bigots and racists who continue to besmirch the name of humanity as if usurping the second syllable of the word need to be overpowered by the rest of humanity so they keep their hatred to themselves, turn it inward and shut up."

      Strong words, Sydney Levine. But I do not think your quote, cited above, holds up under historical scrutiny. It is true that most of the "mess we are in today" has been the work of men, but not because men are inherently greater "bigots," or "racists," or that they resort to war more often than women. Rather, it is because throughout history men have been the rulers and leaders, far more than women, and thus have had many more opportunities to exhibit those qualities and inclinations than have women.

      Let's look at some of the women who have been rulers and leaders and see how they relate to your claim.

      Golda Meir was Prime Minister of Israel from 1969 to 1974. She was a very hard-line leader and was quoted as saying, "There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist."

      Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister of India twice. During her first time in office (1966-1977) two things stand out. First, she was responsible for a program of forced sterilization as a population-control measure, a program that was cruel and resisted by much of the Indian population. Second, During the Indo-Pakistan Ware in 1971, she was largely responsible for using the war as a pretext to dismember Pakistan and transform the former East Wing of Pakistan into Bangladesh. It made good strategic sense, but it hardly demonstrated that a female had any less sense of geopolitical advantages for her country than a male.

      Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain (1979-1990), broke the back of the British labor unions (which was not such a bad thing, as British labor unions held the British public hostage with their interminable strikes). Most notably, she presided over the Falklands War, after Argentina, against international law, invaded the Falkland Islands, which had been British since the early 19th century. She won a resounding victory over the Argentines.

      In each of the cited cases, women showed themselves to be every bit as willing to do what they felt was necessary to secure their nation as men, including going to war. And as for racism and bigotry, I have yet to see a male leader top Golda Meir's remark about Palestinians.

      Women as greater peacemakers and more tolerant than men? I don't think the historical record supports such an assertion.

  • SOTU and a Destabilized Middle East
    • "Is that an unsupported assertion, on a really breathtaking scale, straight out of the dead end that is the Great Game of Risk!?

      China claims the entire South China Sea? Which part of “China?”

      If you had any knowledge of China and Southeast Asia, JTMcPhee, you would know that it is not "an unsupported assertion." Chinese maps show a dotted line encompassing the entire South China Sea, and a recent Chinese statement listed the Southe China Sea as a "core interest," putting it in the same category as Taiwan.

      Of course, I wouldn't expect a sophisticated analysis of the situation from one who obviously ignores the old adage: "It is better to keep one's mouth shut and have people think one ignorant, than to open it and remove all doubt."

    • "his rhetoric regarding military buildup in the Pacific and confrontation with China."

      The U.S. pivot toward Asia is not to engage in a "confrontation with China," Bill H. Rather, it is to provide a balancing force in the region, a force that most countries in Asia Welcome. Among other things, China claims the entire South China Sea, a claim that has no basis in international law, and one that has Southeast Asian countries nervous.

  • South Carolina & Gingrich, Egypt & the Muslim Brotherhood
    • SUPer390,

      In any nation you get the wing-nuts, whether of the Right or the Left. That certain groups are working to impose their version of "history" or "religion" or any number of other political or economic "isms" is nothing new. Look at the "Occupy" movement in many U.S. cities. Many of them (probably a majority) state that they want to dismantle capitalism (what they plan to replace it with is usually muddled and unclear), rather than reform it. They are just as nutty as the religious crowd in their own way (unless, that is, you agree with them, in which case you will think their argument makes perfect sense).

      To date, the courts have done a pretty good job of protecting Americans from religious zealots, and I expect they will continue to do so. No, the sky is not falling!


    • Charles,

      The rights that Americans enjoy are precisely a result of the Constitution and the law. You may not like the "Citizens United" decision, but when you state that it is an "example of the complete contempt with which this court regards the law," which law are you referring to? Specifically, toward which law did the court show contempt? Or are you really just saying that you disagreed with the decision? I responded only to your comment on the "Citizens United" case because the rest of your rant is just that, a rant.

    • "The result of this difference in approach is that it is implicitly deemed illegitimate for Egyptians to be religious or vote for a religious party. But it is legitimate for South Carolinians to be religious, to vote on a religious basis, to seek to impose their religious laws on all Americans."

      You have created both a straw-man and a false equivalency in your comparison of reporting on the election results in South Carolina and Egypt. The media have not "deemed [it] illegitimate for Egyptians to be religious or vote for a religious party." That there is concern should the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists form a coalition is not just found among Western media; that concern also very much exists among many Egyptians themselves.

      Your attempt to equate fear of a Muslim Brotherhood-Salafist coalition in Egypt with fear of South Carolina religious voters seeking "to impose their religious laws on all Americans" is specious reasoning. In Egypt, there is a real possibility that such a coalition could impose their religious views on all Egyptians. In the United States, the Constitution's separation of church and state forbids it, a proposition that has been upheld many times by the courts.

  • God's Way of Teaching Americans Geography
    • Judging from Cynthia McKinney's pathetic performance as a former Congresswoman (she was a pretty dim bulb), I don't doubt she came up with something like you suggest.

    • "...reminding one of Ambrose Peirce’s dictum that “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.”

      I believe your are referring to Ambrose Bierce (not Peirce), who wrote, among other works, the Devil's Dictionary.

  • Schmidt: The Freedom and Democracy Struggle in Syria
    • "Shame that the neocons haven’t noticed those OWS protestors downtown demanding those same things in America."

      Well, now, SUPER390, in comparing the OWS protestors to those demanding the most basic rights in Syria, you must be referring to all the OWS participants who, like those in Syria, have been killed by the security services in various U.S. cities; who have been absolutely muzzeled from any political speech in the U.S.; and who have been denied any legitimate expression upon fear of death. But the OWS protestors courageously move forward, like their Syrian brethren, in the face of death. Such bravery!

    • "Excellent depiction of Neoconservative point of view on Syria, thank you very much!"

      Could you expand on your comment, Henry James? You seem to disparage Mr. Schmidt's observation on what is and is not inspiring Syrians today in their struggle against the regime. Why do you call it a "Neoconservative" point of view, and why do you (apparently) think it is wrong?

  • SOPA & PIPA Blackout Day
    • Why this rush to claim the internet is in danger because of SOPA and PIPA? I would appreciate reading responses from those who think these bills place the internet in danger. Specifically, I have two questions:

      A. Do those who are opposed to the bills think that online piracy and theft of intellectual property should be a right of anyone who can download music, literature, art, or any other type of copyrighted material or intellectual property? Do they think that musicians, authors, and artists do not have a right to collect the royalties they otherwise would have collected had their work not been pirated or downloaded without payment?

      B. If those opposed to SOPA and PIPA agree that copyrighted material and intellectual property should be protected, and that piracy should be discouraged and even punished, what is it about these two bills that is so objectionable?

      I am not trying to start an argument, but I would be interested in the responses from those opposed to the bills.

  • Petition against the Murder of Iranian Scientists
    • Exactly, David, that is why I stated above: "Those who think they are the work of the U.S., though, are engaging in totally unsubstantiated finger-pointing." The U.S. most definitely is not involved in it.

    • These targeted assassinations may well be the work of Israel, using the Mujahedin e Khalq (or others) as the instrument of choice. Those who think they are the work of the U.S., though, are engaging in totally unsubstantiated finger-pointing.

      Before everyone continues on the course set by the herd mentality ("It is Israel," "It is the U.S.," "It is the green light given by Obama for re-election," however, let me suggest that these assassinations might be the work of the Mujahedin e Khalq acting on its own.

  • Obama warns Israel against Iran Strike, Cancels Joint Military Exercises
    • "And it’s tied to America’s crawl-down from threatening Iran lately. Including withdrawing an aircraft carrier from Hormuz right out from under the skirts of the last Iranian military exercise."

      The carrier battle group to which you refer, AA, was scheduled to depart at the time it did so. Iran's military exercise had nothing to do with it; it was not a "crawl-down."

    • "Romney will be the one who will want to began a war."

      What is your evidence, Debbie?

  • Will Pakistan's Crisis affect US in Afghanistan
    • "The people giving orders would have a hell of a time creating any wealth if they didn’t have any workers."

      No one disputes the point that workers ("ordinary schmucks" in JTMcPhee's memorable phrase) are necessary. The point I'm making is that the military and the Feudals who control Sindh and the Punjab have owned and controlled the major businesses in Pakistan since its establishment in 1947. Each has tried to reign the other in, with the military being the more successful of the two. The "ordinary schmucks" have never been a part of that equation and have never had such control taken away from them because they never had it in the first place. This is not a value judgment; it's just stating a historical fact.

    • From the time of Pakistan's establishment in 1947 to the present, the control of business has been in the hands of the military, and to a fair extent, the so-called "Feudals," the wealthy families who run the provinces of Sindh and Punjab. It has never been in the hands of JTMcPhee's "ordinary schmucks." Thus, it was never taken away from them.

    • "I find it curious however that you didn’t talk about the Gwadar port. I thought that was supposed to be really significant?"

      There is some thought that Gwadar may be significant because the Chinese may use it as a naval refueling and refitting station, much as the U.S. has access to Singapore for the same activities. If so, this would enable the Chinese to maintain a significant naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

    • "So as in areas all across the planet, “the military” ends up being part of the Kleptocracy, jealous of any attempt, by the ordinary schmucks who create the wealth that makes their parasitic and predatory fiefdoms possible, to rein them in."

      Your statement quoted above, JTMcPhee, illustrates how little you know about the military in many countries. In Pakistan, just as in Indonesia and many other countries, the military, in fact, controls many of the businesses that create the wealth. In Pakistan and many other countries, your "ordinary schmucks" do not create wealth because they do not control the businesses that do; it is the military that controls those businesses. Please do a little research (and I do not mean quoting "Wikipedia") before making categorical statements that brand one as an Encyclopedia of Misinformation.

  • Ahmadinejad in Latin America
    • A self-described "pedant" who sums up the accomplishments of the Roman Empire with one aspect--slavery--and compares it unfavorably to the Dark Ages, is an oxymoron--a contradiction in terms. No serious pedant would make such a statement. Anyone who believes such twaddle has to be operating from an ahistorical frame of reference, completely divorced from the historical reality.

    • "Faith," touching or otherwise, has nothing to do with it, JTMcPhee. I have spent a career, and then some, in the fields of Foreign Affairs and National Security, and I know of what I write and stand by every word. And if you do not think that many categories of U.S. immigration law are oversubscribed for years, you simply display your ignorance of the subject.

      You speak of my "sense of self"? It is your sense of self you should be questioning. Ascribing to others "touching faith," "Iranian (and other) bogeymen," "pig-brigands in suits," etc. reveals a deep well of what psychologists call "Projection." It is a condition in which someone, recognizing inadequacies and insecurities in himself, attempts to project those very inadequacies and insecurities onto others. I suppose a psychologist would define it as a defense mechanism that, unfortunately, precludes the individual from correcting the problem in himself. He is constantly projecting it onto others.

    • America and its republican form of government will be around long after Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and the other Iranian tyrants (who seem to disagree with each other as much as they disagree with the U.S. and the West) are gone. If your question, "Who cares about Rome anymore?" is meant to reflect America's future, you obviously are unaware of or ignore the phenomenon that the rest of the world votes with its feet in an attempt to gain entry into the U.S. The U.S. is oversubscribed for immigrant applicants for years in the future. And with good reason, as it is a country with some of the fewest restrictions on individuals pursuing their own self-interest and happiness.

      "...the U.S. will be gone.." Not a chance, and the world is better off for the fact that it will still be around long into the future.

  • On the end of Newt Gingrich's Campaign
    • With Newt Gingrich out of the campaign, there will be one less gas bag polluting the air with oral methane.

  • Iraqis Celebrate being Free of US Troops, Fear US Meddling
    • Well, Mr. Van Houcke, please provide the evidence to substantiate your claim that "most of the Americans are in one way or another, knowingly or unknowlingly, connected to the CIA, or one of the numerous other American intelligence oraganizations." I look forward either to your confirming evidence or to your admission that your claim is just hot air.

    • "Maybe “war” is not the the proper term, but I’m sure that somewhere an Arab is getting his or her throat slit, or droned, by our top secret, invisible, unaccountable, lavishly funded, truly “special” palace guard (what else would you call them, since they act on the orders of the President alone, no approval by congress requested, encouraged, or respected?)."

      Perhaps the "throat slit" is being accomplished by the regime of Bashir Al Assad, the regime in Tehran, or any number of other Near Eastern despots intent upon eliminating any opposition to their rule. Why do you assume it must be the U.S. Government behind it? That is, unless you harbor an irrational sense that only the U.S. Government is capable of such atrocities. History proves otherwise, and only the ideologically blinkered would think otherwise.

  • 2011: End of US Hyperpower & its War with Islamdom
    • I didn't say Arabs should be grateful. My point was we should exercise some balance. I said nothing about what Arabs should or should not do or think.

    • And let's not forget that Islamic terrorism did not begin with the 9/11 attack against the U.S. There was the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the bombing of the American Embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998, the attack against the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, plus numerous other attacks and provocations such as the Al Khobar Towers bombing.

    • And the U.S. deserves no credit for the actions it has taken in support of Muslims since 1991, as noted in my post? Where is the balance?

    • The U.S. was hardly looking for a "bogeyman" after the fall of the USSR in 1991. It didn't need to, as it was the sole super power at the time. And it certainly wasn't preparing for a war against "Islamdom." In 1991 George H.W. Bush sent U.S. forces into Somalia for the purpose of clearing a way for food and supplies to reach those in need. Under Bill Clinton the mission morphed into a conflict with Somali warlords who were preventing supplies from reaching the population. After the "Blackhawk Down" incident, the U.S. withdrew, hardly the action of a "hyperpower" throwing its weight around. In the mid-1990s the U.S. entered the Bosnian conflict to protect Bosnian Muslims against Serbs after the Europeans demonstated complete paralysis in the affair. That conflict ended with Richard Holbrooke's Dayton Accords in 1995. In 1999, the U.S. led the NATO war against Serbia to protect Kosovar Muslims from ongoing ethnic cleansing. These are hardly the actions of a country attempting to turn Islam into a "bogeyman."

      The U.S. had no choice but to attack Afghanistan and remove the Taliban from power after Al Qaeda's attack against the U.S. No country can expect to be immune from the consequences of harboring forces that attack another country, and Afghanistan was no exception.

      To concentrate on only those U.S. actions that one perceives to be a U.S. "War with Islamdom" and ignore all the actions the U.S. has taken in support of Muslims is disingenuous, one-sided, intellectually dishonest, and unworthy of a serious scholar and commentator on international affairs.

  • 2011 Revolutions and the End of Republican Monarchy
    • The specific topic I was addressing, Super390, was "graft, favoritism and nepotism" as they existed under Arab socialism and as they exist under the current system (which has yet to sort itself out, but indeed entails less regulation.) The "revolutions" and "our turn" are irrelevant to the topic being addressed.

    • " From the 1990s, the Arab states were beginning to adopt Neoliberal (laissez-faire, anti-regulatory) policies after a long period of socialism. Privatizing public economic resources created enormous opportunities for graft, favoritism and nepotism."

      The above-cited statement might lead one to believe that "graft, favoritism and nepotism" did not exist in the Arab World under socialism. Such a conclusion would be wrong. Under socialism, graft, favoritism and nepotism were every bit as prevalent as they are today. Privatization might have created opportunities for greater gain from graft, favoritism and nepotism, but these activities were every bit as prevalent, if not more so, under socialism.

  • Christians in a Changing Arab World are Making their own Destinies
    • "Arab" is both an ethnic and a linguistic term. It is true that citizens of France are "French" and of Germany "German," regardless of ethnicity, but the same applies to Morocco. Arabs, Berbers, and others are "Moroccan," but Berbers, for example, are not "Arabs" just because they may speak Arabic; they remain ethnically "Berbers" who happen to be Arabic-speaking Moroccans.

      Regarding Christians in the Middle East, the press may be playing up the negative effects of and fears over the Muslim fundamentalist gains in Egypt (in particular), but that does not mean there are no negative effects and reasons for Copts to be concerned. There is evidence of attacks on Copts and Coptic churches. Additionally, the number of Copts seeking political asylum in the U.S. has increased since the fall of Mubarak and the rise of Muslim fundamentalists in Egypt. Let's not overstate the threat, but let's not attribute it to "Orientalist's" seeking an objective "other" in need of saving either.

  • Christian Hate Group Targets Peaceful Muslim-Americans
    • Yusuf, what is it about Jihad (struggle) and the Islamic divide betweeen the Dar al Islam and the Dar al Harb that you fail to understand? Do you simply ignore history?

    • To those with limited intellectual capacity (and with too much time on their hands), everything appears to be "deep."

    • I do not have it backwards, Nick. It is you who appears not to understand the multiple meansings of Jihad. Jihad means more than just defending Muslim territory against infidels. It also means advancing Islam through physical (armed) struggle. Why do you think Islam divides the world into the "Dar al Islam" (House of Islam) and the "Dar al Harb" (House of War)?

    • Jihad has different interpretations and meanings, Yusuf. Yours, above, is one of them. The Qur'an also uses the term in the sense of "holy War" against infidels. I can understand how your task in explaining your relationship to Jihad is not made "any easler," because the Qur'an does not make it easy to do so, given its own multiple interpretations of the term.

  • Saudi Woman executed for Witchcraft: A Struggle over Gender Power?
    • To conclude that it appears the woman was "actually accused of serial medical fraud," based on unnamed "Arabic sources," is a huge stretch. In your attempts to try and balance out so-called Islamophobia, you appear to be an apologist for the worst interpretation of Shar'ia Law. By all means, let's oppose unwarranted biases against Islam where they exist. But let's not fall prey to whitewashing those aspects and interpretations of Islam that deserve to be condemned.

  • Hizbullah Leader Condemns Syrian Opposition
    • How about the possibility of Nasrullah acting as a mouthpiece for Iran, who would like to see Assad remain in place.

  • Kepler 22b and Climate Change: Instead of Obsessing over Earth-Like Planets, lets Try to Keep this one Earthlike
    • The late Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin gained fame (and, in some circles, notoriety) for awarding his "Golden Fleece" awards to projects that he considered the epitome of wasteful Federal Government spending. One of his finest awards went to the project that attempted to find radio transmissions from outer space that might indicate intelligent life. Senator Proxmire's comment accompanying the award was: "Why are we searching for intelligent life in the universe when there is none to be found in Washington?"

  • Pakistan and the US: Quarrel or Divorce?
    • I do not disagree with your catalogue of US actions that Pakistan perceives as Washington "dragging it through the mud." Circumstances being what they are, from a Pakistani viewpoint, it is understandable. But Pakistan's grievances only tell one side of the story. The split between Pakistan's civilian leadership and strong elements of the military is very real, they often don't agree on the same agenda, and they sometimes work at cross-purposes.

      Let's acknowledge that the United States has a few valid grievances of its own against Pakistan. For one, Usama Bin Laden was living among a Pakistani military establishment in Abbotobad in plain sight (figuratively speaking). No serious observer can think his presence was unknown to important elements of the Pakistani military. And no serious observer can honestly believe that if the US had told Pakistan of the mission to get Bin Laden that US Special Forces would have found him the night of the raid on his compound.

      Mike Mullen's accusation that Pakistan was complicit with the Haqqani Network was on the mark. Mullen's statement may have been undiplomatic, but it was true. There are important elements within Pakistan (mainly in the Army) that are complicit with and protective of the Haqqani Network.

      It is fine to point out those actions by the US that Pakistan finds objectionable. We need to know them in order to understand what makes Pakistan tick in this relationship. But in determining how valid Pakistan's grievances are, we shouldn't just accept Pakistan's perceptions and version of events. For our own understanding of events, we should not hesitate to point out those actions by Pakistan that the United States has legitimate reason to find objectionable. In other words, let's present a balanced picture of the strains in the relationship.

  • Theocratic Dominance of the New Egypt may be Exaggerated
    • "Egypt’s ElBaradei: Liberals “decimated” in vote."

      The precise, primary definition of "decimate" is to reduce by, or to take, ten percent, which is hardly the case in the Egyptian elections.

  • Senate Bill Allows Arrest of Americans by Military Anywhere
    • Joel Grant-Your statement, "It is not at all clear that torture “worked” in Algeria. This is a claim that does not stand up to scrutiny. This article by Darius Rejali, an expert on torture, discusses Algeria and concludes the French sucess was not due to torture," itself does not stand up to scrutiny. Darius Rejali is well-known for his anti-torture stance (not a bad thing) and his skewing of evidence to support his position (not a good thing).

      Historians without an axe to grind (unlike Rejali), who have studied the Algerian War (including Algerians who supported the FLN), are unanimous in their conclusion that torture did indeed work in the Battle of Algiers and enabled the 10th Paras to locate and decapitate terrorist cell leaders. You can side with Rejali if you wish, but you place yourself squarely in opposition to all leading historians of the conflict.

    • Read my post carefully, JTMcPhee, as your first attempt failed to register my point. The subject was the statement, “If torture could defeat terrorism and insurgencies, the French would still be ruling Algeria,” and I suggested it was a non-sequitur. Why? Because, as I stated, I know of no one who has made the claim that torture defeats terrorism and insurgencies. It is a tactic used to gain information, sometimes successfully and sometimes not.

      Your statement that "the purpose of torture is torture" is simply wrong. Torture was one of the primary tactics used to gain information that led to the French winning the Battle of Algiers. That they eventually lost Algeria was due to strategic factors that I discussed above. You must really learn the difference between tactics used to gain information and strategic factors that lead to victory or defeat.

    • Warren, the Battle of Algiers (January-March 1957) was not designed to win the "hearts and minds" of the Algerians. By the time of the Battle, few if any Algerians were inclined to support the French anyway, regardless of the 10th Para's tactics. Thus, there were no "hearts and minds" to be won over. General Jacques Massu, commander of the 10th Paras, meant to decapitate the FLN terrorist leadership of the various cells, and through the use of torture, he was largely successful. This was a case of winning the battle but losing the war, not because of the battle tactics used, but because of larger, strategic factors at work.

      My point was that torture may be successful in certain tactical situations, but it is a non-sequitur to state that "If torture could defeat terrorism and insurgencies, the French would still be ruling Algeria.” No one that I know of has made the claim that torture can defeat terrorism and insurgencies. It has always been used in an attempt to gain tactical information, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. In my opinion, the French loss of Algeria was inevitable because of the French political situation at the time and because of the FLN's persistence and strategy. In spite of a group of officers and pied-noirs almost mounting a coup d'etat against de Gaulle, the majority of the French no longer had the stomach for it.

    • "If torture could defeat terrorism and insurgencies, the French would still be ruling Algeria."

      The above-cited statement is a bit of a non-sequitur. Actually, the French did win the Battle of Algiers largely through the use of torture. The 10th Paras used brutal torture and successfully obtained the information needed to locate and decapitate the leadership of various cells operating primarily out of the Casbah. That the French lost Algeria in 1962 had a lot more to do with strategic factors such as the French political situation and the stamina of the NLF than it did with the the tactical use of torture.

  • Iranian Students attack British Embassy
    • "Nuke 'em back to the Stone Age," JTMcPhee? Another of your non-sequiturs, I presume? Your rant reveals a lack of understanding of the benefit Iran would derive from adhering to international rules of diplomacy.

    • "One big question: If the regime was behind it, why have police teargas them and try to break the rally up?"

      Why, indeed. Because the police allowed the initial group, who did all the damage, to enter the Embassy. They did nothing to stop them. It was only after a sufficient number had entered the Embassy to destroy it that the police went through the motions of attempting to rein in the remaining mob on the outside. That another mob entered the British compound and took six hostages argues for a coordinated effort.

      This is one more outrageous example of the Iranian Government failing to follow even the most elementary rules of international diplomacy. Host governments have the responsibility for protecting foreign diplomatic missions in their respective countries. Iran deliberately failed to do so in the case of the U.S. in 1979, and in the case of Britain yesterday. It is no excuse to cite as "context" some "conspiracy" theory that Britain is behind every "plot" against Iran. If the Iranians don't want the British, they should break relations. If they do not want to break relations with Britain, they should observe their responsibilities under international law. As it is, they seem to want it both ways and do neither.

      And the tired old chant of the Embassy being a "den of spies" doesn't wash either. Every country maintains intelligence officers in their Embassies abroad, including Iran. If the Iranians want to be treated as sophisticated players on the international scene, they should begin behaving accordingly.

  • Army vs. People in Egypt
    • No, Watson, I do not think you are a fool. I do think, however, that you have no understanding of the role NATO has played in maintaining security since its inception. You ask what I think of NATO's bona fides? They are absolutely, 100 percent on the mark valid.

    • Your statement, "I was using ‘ NATO’ as a metaphor for the Western establishment, which I think you understood because you refer to Panetta, who is not a NATO official," is absurd on the face of it. Leon Panetta is the Secretary of Defense for the most powerful member of NATO. Moreover, your statement that NATO is the military arm of the 1 percent is equally absurd. You obviously lack a historical framework from which to view NATO, its origins, and the part it has played in maintaining security for more than 60 years. And if you really think that if Panetta had "pressed" the Egyptian military to drop the emergency laws they would have done it, you fail totally to understand the changed situation in Egypt.

  • Libya Should Turn Saif over to the Int'l Criminal Court
    • Professor Cole hardly needs me to defend him, Andreas, but your statement, "Also it is telling that you need to go all the way back to WWII to find precedence for a positive intervention" assumes that he "needed" to go back that far. Professor Cole may have used WWII as an example because it is a pretty clear-cut one, but it doesn't necessarily mean he could not have offered more recent ones. For example, many people consider the NATO war against Serbia, in defense of the Kosovars, a positive military intervention. I, myself, did not support that war, not because it lacked UN authorization (which it did lack), but because I saw no United States national interest involved. Nevertheless, even though it was a European concern, the Europeans were paralyzed and NATO stepped in (without UN imprimatur), with the US flying 80 percent of the sorties and the UK flying most of the remaining 20 percent. Unlike me, most people, even on the Left, consider it to have been a worthwhile intervention.

      You may, as you put it yourself, "never be sure that the price was worth it." If your moral gyroscope is so far out of alignment that nothing is clear cut in your mind, that is your prerogative. But it is also why we are fortunate that others with a greater grasp of both the US national interest and of the need for humanitarian military intervention are in charge. (And, again, I say that as one who thought we should not have intervened in Serbia on behalf of Kosovo.)

  • Muslim Brotherhood and Liberals Confront Military Rule in Egypt
    • I think you meant "like Turkey has in Ankara," which is the capital, rather than Istanbul.

      But to the point about Indonesia being a possible "model" for the Arab attempt to establish democracy. I agree with you up to a point, but only up to a point. When Sukarno declared the Indonesian Republic in 1945, he established it with Pancasila as the official governing philophy. Pancasila (from the Sanskrit: Panca-five, Sila-principles) consists of: Belief in one God, humanitarianism, nationalism, social justice, and democracy. Thus, from the beginning as an independent country (although they fought the Dutch for four more years), Indonesia did not recognize Islam as a state religion, or even as the primary religion.

      Moreover, Islam came late to Indonesia, arriving in Northern Sumatra in the late 13th century, and in Java only in the 16th century. Prior to that, for centuries Java was in one form or another a Hindu-Buddhist state. Thus, Islam in Indonesia has absorbed the remnants of Hindu-Buddhist culture, and is a very syncretic religion, even today. This is a far cry from Islam in the Arab World.

      Although there are some calls for an Islamic state and the national introduction of Shar'ia Law in Indonesia, the vast majority of the population reject it. I think that by keeping Islam at bay, and treating it as one religion among others, has benefited Indonesia greatly, and is one reason that it has been able to make the transition from authoritiarianism to democracy without the clamor of fundamentalists and Salafists. I'm not sure that the Arab World is capable of making the transition as easily as has Indonesia. Their histories and cultures are really very different, and one cannot necessarily be the template for the other.

  • Police Crackdowns on OWS Coordinated among Mayors, FBI, DHS
    • "‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ ..
      George Santayana, Life of Reason Vol.1"

      Santayana's dictum is so stale and over-used by every sophomore and third-rate hack writing a research paper, that one longs for a little more imagination. One would expect a little more language creativity from someone who wildly imagines that the U.S. Government is following the path of Hitler's consolidation of power. One more example of how the Left and the Right resemble each other: Apply the specter of Hitler and the Nazis to anything one finds objectionable. The all-purpose analogy for the lazy intellect.

    • Are we condemned to having you repeat your posts until someone replies, John, A Swimmer? Are you so infatuated with your own ideas that you consider the rest of us dolts for not replying? I suppose your statement, "Here’s my full comment of yesterday which is worth a read and may encourage many of you to action or at least to share it with others..." answers my question.

      Well, here is a reply, with the hope that it satisfies you and forestalls a third repetition of your post.

  • NYPD Attack on OWS and the End of the First Amendment
    • I am no one's flunky, Super390. I think for myself.

    • Interesting conspiracy theory. Could the Rosicrusians and Freemasons (not to mention the remaining elements of the Knights Templar) also be involved?

    • The Occupy Wall Street participants were not denied their right to "assemble peacefully and to petition for redress of grievances." They "occupied" Zucotti Park for two months and had plenty of time to make their grievances known. Moreover, in doing so, they "occupied" a privately-owned park which they had no constitutional right to take over, even though they were allowed to remain for two months at the sufferance of the owner and the city. In the end, the owner and the city had every right to finally remove the OWS from the park.

      It is amusing how closely the Left mirrors the Right in their approach to such situations. The Right is constantly and forever finding "Socialist conspiracies" in any attempt to use government as a tool to better people's lives. The Left, conversely, is constantly and forever finding "Faschist authoritarianism" in any attempt by government to enforce the law and protect private property.

  • The Little Iran Nuclear Report that Couldn't
    • For those who are so certain that Iran's nucclear activities have nothing to do with weaponization, you offer no more evidence than those (like the IAEA) who claim that Iran is working on nuclear weaponization. In fact, the IAEA offers a bit more evidence to support its claim than anything I have seen here taking the opposing view.

      As for the tired mantra that the "debacle in Iraq" is somehow applicable to Iran, I would offer the thought that in the 1991 Gulf War, it was found that Iraq was much further advanced in its nuclear capability than was originally thought. It seems to me that anyone who takes the categorical position that those (including the IAEA) who claim that Iran shows evidence of working on nuclear weaponization are somehow stooges of the US and the West, are themselves stooges of their own ideological predisposition.

  • Political Pluralism breaks out in Tunisia
    • Read my post a bit more carefully, Abadass Tehrani, and you will see that I made no such claim that all Islamist movements are fundamentalist and non-democratic. That is your blinkered statement, not mine. I simply stated that it is not unheard of that movements use the democratic system to gain power, then, once in power, use it to thwart democracy. I applied it to the possibility of Muslim fundamentalist parties acting in such a fashion. I did not say they would. Methinks you doth protest too much.

    • I could not agree more with the proposition of watching a Muslim fundamentalist party take power, actually govern, and then face the voters in the next election. But that assumes that the Muslim fundamentalist party in power will not change the constitution to place obstacles in the way of anyone but a Muslim fundamentalist from running for high office. It is not unheard of in history to use the democratic system to gain power and, once in power, to use it to force through measures that end up thwarting democracy.

  • Sefat: Top 10 ways OWS can Excel: Counsel from Iran's Green Movement
    • Your comment may or may not have validity, but it does not address my claim that the OWS movement is small in numbers, in many cases is barely articulate, is presumtuous and arrogant in claiming to represent 99 percent of the population, and will fold up when winter sets in.

    • Despite occurring in several cities and getting television coverage, the Occupy Wall Street movement is small in numbers, barely articulate in many cases, and cetainly does not represent 99 percent of the American public. Just because one does not fall into the One Percent does not automatically translate into OWS representing one. It is not that black and white, and it is presumptuous and arrogant for the OWS to claim to represent everyone who does not fall into the One Percent. When winter sets in, they will fold their tents and go home.

  • Islamic Law not a problem in Bush's Afghanistan & Iraq, but a Problem in Libya?
    • Much of what Ivet described is cultural, Yusuf, but much of it (even much of what appears to be cultural) is derived from and based on Shari'a law. It is simply not true that Islam promotes all the things that Ivet mentioned prevailed in Libya. Women are not free to divorce in the same way that men are. Women may only inherit half of what a male sibling may inherit. Women's testimony in a Shari'a court is only equal half that of men's testimony. These are but a few examples. I could go on, but the point is that it undermines your attempt to present Islam as equally tolerant as secular societies when you try to equate all good attributes to Islam and all bad attributes to culture. Islam is more than a religion; it is an all-encompassing culture. That is why Islam makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular.

  • US out of Iraq, but Peace remains Elusive
    • "US sanctions on Iran are becoming so severe as to constitute a blockade, which in international law an act of war."

      The above-cited quote is incredible, coming from one who considers himself a scholar, an expert on history and international relations, and who, most egregiously, refers to international law. To suggest that U.S. sanctions on Iran "are becoming so severe as to constitute a blockade, which in international law is an act of war," reveals a complete misunderstanding of sanctions, blockades, and international law.

      Sanctions are legal and legitimately applied by countries such as the U.S., the EU nations, and others in cases such as Iran, Burma, North Korea, and other nations that flout basic human dignity and international law. A blockade is most often maritime in nature, preventing ships from entering or leaving a country's ports, but can be applied to aircraft as well. Blockades are indeed acts of war under international law. Under internation law, however, there is a clear distinction made between sanctions, which are not acts of war (regardless of how severe) and blockades, which are. To conflate the two is to seriously mislead the readers of this piece.

  • Ballen: Terrorism Can't be Taken out and Shot
    • Mr. Ballen is correct that The role of the United States must be to take a back seat to the wider religious, cultural and political debate occurring throughout the Muslim world. That debate must be settled by Muslims themselves. But I think he has created a straw-man here, as the United States has not injected itself "front and center" in that debate among Muslims.

      I would argue that the Muslim World taking the lead in that debate and the United States' targeting of the leadership of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), are neither incompatible nor mutually exclusive endeavors. They, in fact, are complementary. As to the charge that targeted killings of the leadership are short-term, tactical successes, I can only suggest that every long-term strategic success in history that I can think of was built, in part, on short-term, tactical gains. This is not breaking news in terms of doctrine. Furthermore, Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have been degraded because so much of the leadership has been taken out by drones and para-military activity. The pool of competent leaders with the necessary intellectual, organizational, and planning skills has been vastly reduced.

      Finally, the thrust of Mr. Ballen's argument seems to be that the foot-soldiers, suicide-bombers, and other Jihadists drawn to terrorist organizations are attracted because they want to be (in their version) good Muslims, not because they were "inspired" by the likes of Usama Bin Laden or Al-Awlaqi. But note that Mr. Ballen concentrates on the foot-soldiers and suicide-bombers, i.e., the cannon-fodder. The drones and targeted killings are not directed at these Jihadists. Rather, they are directed at the leadership of Al-Qaeda, AQAP, and other Jihadist organizations, not because the leadership necessarily "inspires" young Jihadists (although in some cases it may), but because it plans overall strategy and specific operational attacks against the United States and its interests.

  • Tawakul Karman, Yemen mother of 3, among winners of Nobel Peace Prize
    • "Karman is a member of the Islah Party, which is made up of a number of competing factions, but it has a general orientation to a moderate Muslim fundamentalism."

      It is indeed heartening to see a woman in the vanguard of protests supporting Arab transition, especially in Yemen. (I prefer the term "transition" to "Spring," since we don't know what the ultimate result will be in these countries. If the result ultimately turns out truly moderate and democratic, "Spring" will have been justified. If not, then not.)

      I have a question for you, Professor Cole. How do you define "moderate Muslim fundamentalism," cited in the quote above from your post?

  • Palin was Right About those Government Death Panels
    • The evidence is in the Geneva Convention itself, Yusuf. Read the article defining Lawful Enemy Combatants, and then determine for yourself, given his leadership role in AQAP, whether or not Al-Awlaqi meets the definition of "Lawful" or "Unlawful" Enemy Combatant.

    • JTMcPhee, the national interest of the United States, like that of every other country, is determined not only by the political leadership, but by the entire arch of history that informs that leadership. As to defining "national interest," I am surprised you would even ask the question. There are core national interests (freedom of navigation is a good example), but in any given situation, it would depend on the situation itself as to how the U.S. (or any other country) should best respond in its national interest.

      I served in the U.S. Air Force for four years. And your snide little attempt at insult about "crossing my fingers" when I took the oath reveals more about your character than it does about mine.

    • "so people with a more, maybe “humane” set of yearnings"

      JTMcPhee, There is nothing "humane" about making excuses for and performing mental gymnastics in order to justify the actions of an Unlawful Enemy Combatant like Al-Awlaqi. As a leader in AQAP who planned attacks against United States interests, as well as others, how many times must it be said that he was a legitimate target?

    • Super390, there is a huge distinction to be made between Jan Fonda (a dissenter) and Al-Awlaqi (a leader of AQAP, directing hostile operations against the United States).

    • Yusuf, the war in which we are engaged against Al-Qaeda and its affiliates is a true (though asymmetrical) war in the classic sense of war. The "war on drugs" is a metaphor that has nothing to do with actual war. The two are not comparable.

      Al-Awlaqi was killed, not for what he said, but for what he did. He was a leader of AQAP, which had planned and carried out attacks against United States interests. As a leader of an organization that had engaged in war against the United States, he was, as I stated earlier, fair game and a legitimate military target.

    • "Yeah, actually, for US officials to commit what some would construe as murder with a military attack on a civilian in Yemen outside any SOFA could in fact expose them to legal action.

      No worries, this was not an attack on a "civilian" in Yemen. Al-Awlaqi was an Unlawful Enemy Combatant under the Geneva Convention, and the United States had every right to take him out.

    • No, it is not "When in doubt take it out," and neither the Generals nor the Privates adhere to this fraudulent doctrine. It displays a naive and uneducated view of how the United States responds to attacks against its national interest. As to "highly paid civilian warriers," I would ask, have you served in the military? If you have, you have earned the right to criticize the professional military. If you have not, you have no basis for criticizing our military forces. You would just be recognized for your lack of knowledge of the professional military.

    • "And whom is it that we trust to make that distinction, exactly, and what oversight is there to forestall abuses or punish them after the fact?"

      Very simple, our national security establishment. So far, it has done a pretty good job.

    • "Makes me wonder what would happen if Jane Fonda were to go and play with the Al Qaeda boys like she did in North Vietnam a few years back. Wonder if there’d be a nice little missile with her name on it?"

      No, there would not be a missile with her name on it. As treachorous as her action was during the Vietnam War, she did not direct actions against the United States (as did Al-Awaqi); she simply registered her disagreement with the u.S. in Vietnam.

    • Before you categorically state (as you do in the lead to your post) that "Palin was Right about those Government Death Panels," you should at least attempt to corroborate the Reuters report. News organizations have been known to get it wrong.

      But even if the report is correct, it seems to me that your inability to understand how Al-Awlaqi's killing was "legal or constitutional, since Al-Awlaqi was deprived of his 6th Amendment rights to a trial" is a result of your inability to accept that we are in a war. The fact is we are in a war (an asymmetrical war, but war, nevertheless), and AQAP (of which Al-Awlaqi was a leader) as well as Al-Qaida and its other affiliates, have attacked the United States and its worldwide interests. The United States does have the right of self-defense, and in a war, the enemy leadership is fair game.

      That Al-Awlaqi wore civilian clothes does not make him a "civilian" in the normal sense of the term. In fact, under the Geneva Convention, he would be labeled an Unlawful Enemy Combatant, since he has engaged in war without adhering to the Convention's precepts for engaging in lawful combat: Wearing a uniform, displaying rank, not attacking civilians, etc. By waging hostilities against the United States as an Unlawful Enemy Combatant, Al-Awlaqi forfeited his "right" to a trial, even for treason. As an Unlawful Enemy Combatant, he engaged in hostilities against the United States on a worldwide battlefield. Under the Law of War, the Constitution, and the United Nations Charter (Article 51), the United States had the right to kill Al-Awlaqi.

  • Steve Jobs: Arab-American, Buddhist, Psychedelic Drug User, and Capitalist World-Changer
    • "Given time, Jobs would have questioned capitalism."

      Don't bet on it. Steve Jobs was the very embodiment of the entrepreneurial spirit inherent in Capitalism at its best. He owes his success to that spirit.

  • Al-`Awlaqi Should have been Tried in Absentia
    • "Congress authorized war in Afghanistan in 2002, not Yemen."

      We are not at war with Yemen. We are at war with Al-Qaeda.

  • Cole on the 9/11 Aftermath at AskM
    • Excellent interview, Professor Cole. I have two comments.

      A. As you state, Al-Qaeda has been vastly degraded. This is a result of the Predator and Reaper drone attacks against key individuals in Pakistan's FATA, as well as other actions taken by the United States in concert with its allies. It is often said that killing the leadership and key individuals is fruitless because there is always someone else to take their place. This is false and demonstrates a lack of understanding of the structure of terrorist (and other) organizations. There is a limited pool of individuals with leadership skills and strategic vision. As you kill more and more of them, there are fewer and fewer with the capacity to continue at the same strategic level of engagement.

      B. Having spent a lifetime dealing with foreign affairs and U.S. national security (U.S. Air Force and U.S. Foreign Service), I can vouch for your observation that professional policy-makers must depend on the reserve of historical knowledge and functiional expertise they bring to the job. The pace of work and the unpredictable nature of events that require immediate attention do not allow for "on the job" learning and training. Whether or not the political leadership acts on the observations and recommendations of the professional Foreign Service and National Security Council, I can assure you that these professionals do bring a wealth of historical knowledge and functional expertise to the table.

  • Turkey, Egypt and Israel
    • "You do realize that the US has bombed Iraq. A lot."

      I thought the subject of this post was Turkey. What the US has done is irrelevant, a non-sequitur.

    • To say that "Israel is by its intransigence driving Turkey into the arms of the Arabs" is ludicrous and suggests that Turkey has allowed the actions of one country (Israel) to be the determining factor in a complete shift in foreign policy. Turkey is not being driven "into the arms of the Arabs," by Israel or anyone else. Erdogan would have acconmplished this shift away from a Eurocentric policy to a more balanced one vis-avis the Arabs with or without an Israeli apology because, rightly or wrongly, he sees that as being in Turkey's national interest.

  • Top Ten Good News Green Energy Stories
    • "Muslim architects have for centuries been masters at using courtyards and fountains to cool buildings naturally."

      Not to mention wind towers, or Malqafs.

  • China offered Qaddafi Armaments in midst of war
    • I repeat, the 1964 coup in Brazil was a homegrown affair. The U.S. supported the junta, as I stated earlier, but it provided neither planning nor the weapons mentioned in your cited source. It was unnecessary. And the "unmarked" submarine plan was never implemented. Your own source tells the story: "Such U.S. military support for the military coup proved unnecessary; Castello Branco's forces succeeded in overthrowing Goulart far faster and with much less armed resistance then U.S. policy makers anticipated. On April 2, CIA agents in Brazil cabled that "Joao Goulart, deposed president of Brazil, left Porto Alegre about 1pm local time for Montevideo."

      I'm still waiting for you to provide evidence to substantiate your claim that the U.S. has intervened "in every country in South and Central America."

    • "Just one question…do you think NATO would have intervened if Libya did not have oil?"

      So is that why NATO intervened and conducted a war against Serbia over Kosovo? Was it because of the enormous reserves of oil and natural gas in Kosovo? I was under the impression that NATO intervened in Kosovo against Serbia because the Serbs were committing mass ethnic-cleansing. Little did I know that it was over the vast oil and natural gas fields now being exploited by NATO countries in Kosovo. Or at least so it would appear in the imagination of those who think NATO only intervenes over oil.

    • " the USA has intervened in Brazil in the recent past. And in every other country in South and Central America.

      If you are referring to the 1964 military coup in Brazil, it was home-grown. The U.S. supported Brazil after the military came to power, but the U.S. did not "intervene" to cause the coup. As for the U.S. intervening "in every other country in South and Central America," that is nonsense. The U.S. has, of course, intervened in certain countries, but your statement is wildly inaccurate. If you have evidence of U.S. intervention in "every country in South and Central America," please present it. Otherwise don't make a blanket statement that cannot be supported with evidence.

    • "Drones are entirely the response of a weak, cowardly democracy to a public that has deliberately kept so ignorant of foreign affairs that it is reluctant to sacrifice anything for any reason. They won’t be worth a damn in a Great Power war, just like all the other weapons we’ve developed since Vietnam started. They look equally useless in a battle against a mass revolution based on modern communications and decentralization."

      The above-cited quote about drones not being "worth a damn in a Great Power war" is a total non-sequitur. They were not meant as field weapons in a Great Power war. They were meant precisely for the purpose to which they are being applied (very successfully) today--to target high-value leaders in an environment where they can be used both for reconnaissance and killing the target. As for your comment about China's ability to manufacture drones, it is ludicrous to think the U.S. will use drones to kill millions of Chinese. Again, that is a total non-sequitur that demonstrates a lack of understanding of the purpose of drones in the type of warfare in which the U.S. is engaged today against al Qaeda.

    • "Would you care to comment on the humanitarian drones your beloved democracy-loving Pentagon has dispatched to every corner of the Muslim world?"

      I would be glad to comment on it. Are you speaking of all those drones targeting Malaysia? or Indonesia? or Bangladesh? or Morrocco? or Algeria, or Mauritania? or Saudi Arabia? or Qatar? or the United Arab Emirates? or Egypt? or Tunisia? or Oman?

      "Every corner of the Muslim World," indeed! Get a grip. Your nonsensical hyperbole undermines everything you wrote.

      I'll tell you something about the U.S. military you obviously either don't know about or refuse to acknowledge. During the great tsunami that ravaged Aceh in Indonesia, a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group diverted from its mission to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance to Indonesia and Aceh. And one stood by to provide humanitarian assistance to Burma when that country was ravaged, but the xenophobic Burmese government refused all outside assistance. The U.S. military is much more than the cartoon version of your narrow imagination.

  • Libya: Oil Bids on Basis of Capacity; World releases $15 bn in Assets
    • All well and good Professor Cole, Kat, and News Nag. Nevertheless, as I stated above, "green" energy development will not gain any significant traction until it demonstrates that it can pay for itself. To date, it has not done so, hydrocarbons in the atmosphere notwithstanding. This is not a defense of traditional enerby sources; it is simply a recognition of what the public and politicians consider self-sustaining energy development.

    • "When will the USA wake up and transition to clean green energy?"

      Easy to say, harder to implement. So-called "green" energy has to first demonstrate it is a viable business before it will take off. To date, it has failed in that effort. Just this week Solyndra, a Fremont, California based solar-panel company abruptly went out of business. This was a company that Mr. Obama touted as an example of the future. It employed 1,100 employees, and it had received more than $1.6 billion in federal and private funding in recent years, including $535 million in taxpayer money from the Department of Energy. So much for the future.

      Spain has been held up as an example of a country going heavily in the direction of "green" energy development, but, again, it exists primarily at the largesse of government funding, and we all know where the Spanish economy stands. And, of course, China is always used as an example. Two things must be said about China: A. An authoritarian government can put money anywhere it wants, and B. Whatever work China may be doing on "green" energy, China will be using traditional sources of energy for decades to come. That is why China is scouring the world, snapping up contracts and locking in sources for oil, gas, and minerals.

      "Green" energy development will not gain traction in the United States, or anywhere else for that matter, until it demonstrates that it can pay for itself.

  • What the UN Can and Cannot do for Libya
    • "China and some others have been pushing for a strong United Nations role in Libya, presumably in an attempt to forestall a continuation of the NATO mission in that country or the placing of European troops on the ground. Not just China, but everyone should be concerned that the NATO air intervention, which is likely now winding down, not turn into infantry on the ground."

      No serious person should think that China's objection to a continuation of the NATO mission or to the possibility of troops on the ground stems from a principled position of non-intervention or a concern for Libyan sovereignty. China has demonstrated time and time again that its national interest is paramount. In the case of Libya, China may well see an opportunity to increase its reach for oil, just as it has in so many other cases where China has been concluding deals and locking in natural resources to keep its economy humming. There is nothing wrong with this. All powers (as well as non-powers) act in their national interest. But we should not view the Chinese as somehow more principled than NATO powers because of their objection to continued NATO action.

  • New Libya, Welcomed in Mideast, Rejects NATO Bases
    • "The Saudis are a vulgar lot. They sold out the Muslim and Arab people by dealing with American and British companies in the 1930s."

      Oh, now there's a clever thought. Apparently the poster of the above-cited quote wanted the Saudis to remain in their bedouin tents, with Ibn Saud carrying the entire Saudi treasury in trunks on camels. I love the way some people want to keep traditional societies freeze-dried in amber and prevent them from entering the modern world, which, of course, requires commercial contracts with states and companies.

  • Top Ten Myths about the Libya War
    • "Had it been a country without any important resources, this type of intervention would have never happened."

      I am truly indebted to you for dropping the scales from my eyes over why NATO went to war against Serbia over Kosovo in 1999. I had always thought it was because the Serbs were committing ethnic cleansing and atrocities against Kosovars. Reading your trenchant analysis, a portion of which is cited above, I now know that it was to secure a lock on the enormous oil production and reserves in Kosovo, as well as their huge reserves of natural gas, and to lock in oil and gas service contracts. How naive of me to think otherwise.

    • Of course the U.S. wanted Allende out, and you mention "our wishes and interests" in the matter of Allende, but that does not add up to our assisting in the planning and execution of the coup. You offer not one iota of evidence to back up your assertion. The Church Committee of 1975, which conducted a thorough study of the coup, found no U.S. involvement. I know something about it, having spent three years at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, and the facts I cited are just that, the facts. You really need to distinguish between "wishes and interests" and execution. And when you throw around the usual unsubstantiated claims, you might want to be a bit more discerning. I would be particularly careful about using Christopher Hitchens as a source. Last time I checked, he was nowhere near Santiago before, during, and after the coup. And Kissinger's phone logs prove nothing more than the U.S. wanted Allende out. What's new?!

    • "A fine summary, but does the United States, in general, greatly concern itself with “a lawful world order”? That looks doubtful if you run down the list of illegal and immoral acts we have committed, from Chile to Iran."

      I am amused by those who present a kneejerk list of supposed U.S. misdeeds throughout history and around the world. No need to justify their examples with actual details of what happened. Just whip out the list to demonstrate one's Leftist bonafides, as demonstrated by the quote cited above.

      Take Chile, for example. I'm sure the poster above is "certain" of U.S. misdeeds in Chile. I'm equally sure that there is a 90 percent probablility that he does not really know what happened and has never done any research other than read the same, tired Leftists tracts on the subject.

      One of the Left's enduring myths is that the United States was behind the planning and execution of General Augusto Pinochet's 1973 coup in Chile that overthrew the government of Salvador Allende. As was brought out in Senator Frank Church's 1975 Senate hearings on the CIA's intelligence activities, the CIA did provide $8 million over a three-year period to various opposition groups in Chile to keep them going, including labor unions, the anti-Allende newspaper El Mercurio (which Allende was attempting to shut down by having the nationalized banks withhold credit for newsprint), and others. Nevertheless, the U.S. provided neither funding nor assistance in the planning and execution of the coup itself. Although Embassy officials had evidence that something was afoot, they were not privy to the timing and actual plan itself.

      Anyone who has served in Chile and studied the 1973 coup would find it laughable to hear someone insist that the Chilean military would need assistance from the U.S. The Chilean military was based on the Prussian model, was (and is) a very professional military, and was perfectly capable of planning and executing the coup on its own.

      That the United States was glad to see Allende overthrown is undeniable. It does not follow, however, that the United States engineered the action that led to his overthrow. As in the case of the Greek colonels' coup, the Left's narrative of General Pinochet's coup in Chile is one more example of the mental and ideological prison in which it dwells.

    • Whoa, folks! Let's not drink the Kool Aid yet. There are news reports that Saif al-Islam was seen speaking to crowds at the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli. This is the same Saif al-Islam that the rebels said they had captured. It brings into question the veracity of the rebels' claims to control 80 percent of Tripoli, as well as their other claims.

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