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


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  • The Ugly American: Donald Trump is our Mirror, not an Outlier
    • Donald Trump represents the confluence of several shallow and ignorant social forces that have heavily influenced American thought and culture. Think of the entertainment field alone and how much of it is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

      Think of the "reality" show "Duck Dynasty" and the so-called family "patriarch" Phil Robinson who looks and acts like something out of the movie "Deliverance." Think of the idiotic fascination with the "Kardashians." Think of the so-called "rappers" who refer to women as "ho's" and "bitches." Think of the "Real Houswives of (Orange County, New Jersey, Potomac, etc.)."

      The above examples, and a hundred others, represent the infantilization and lack of seriousness of large segments of the American public. And it can't be blamed on the entertainment industry. It is simply catering to a public demand for such drivel. Again, the lowest common denominator.

  • Syria: Russia warns of Mideast Apocalypse if US attacks al-Assad's military
    • We have never claimed we "don't kill innocents." We have claimed, correctly, that we do all we can to avoid killing innocents. But measures taken to avoid killing innocents are not 100 percent effective, and some inevitably are killed. The U.S. has acknowledged that.

    • If you had read my comment carefully you would have noted that I did not refer to any particular group as "terrorists." I stated: "Not only the Russians, but also quite a few comments on this blog indicate the contributors ludicrously think the U.S. is deliberately supporting the terrorists among the rebels."

      It was the Russians and some contributors to this blog that referred to U.S. support of "terrorists." In fact, I suggested that it was ludicrous to state that the U.S. deliberately supported terrorists.

      It helps to read comments carefully before responding.

    • "Moreover, people in Washington are understandably upset that the Russians are openly saying they think the US has sloughed off in the fight against Syria’s al-Qaeda, or are secretly allied with it."

      Not only the Russians, but also quite a few comments on this blog indicate the contributors ludicrously think the U.S. is deliberately supporting the terrorists among the rebels. But then there are people who think the moon landing was "staged" and never really happened. And that "Area 51" is secretly keeping captured aliens in vats of formaldehyde. Conspiracy theorists will always be with us. Nothing ever just happens. Everything happens by deliberate design.

  • Syria Quagmire: Has Russia Accomplished anything in a year of Bombing?
    • "Russia should probably bring 10k soldiers in & win the war."

      Sure, just like they did in Afghanistan. Good thing you are not advising the Russians, as you really would have them mired in a quagmire.

  • How the JASTA override on Saudi could Bite Americans in the Ass
    • An agreement between Saudi Arabia and China regarding currency conversion is just that, nothing more. It has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia's dollar-denominated investments, both in the U.S. and around the world.

      The agreement does not mean the Saudis are going to replace the dollar with the Renminbi (Yuan). In fact, although the Yuan is used in the basket of currencies by the IMF, that is because China has become a major trading partner. Nevertheless, the Yuan is not even fully convertible against many of the world's currencies.

      It will be a long time, if ever, when the Yuan replaces the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

    • The Saudis are not going to pull their investments out of the American market. It was empty talk to try and influence the Congressional veto override vote. The Saudis are astute and smart enough to know that their national interests lie with the American dollar.

      The Chinese Renminbi (or "Yuan" as it is commonly called) is nowhere near becoming a world currency worth investing in. And China is far from becoming the world's preeminent financial superpower. The Saudis realize this and know where their national interest lies.

  • Israel Apartheid Wall Is the Muse to Trump's Mexico Border Wall
    • The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem was first established in 1844, but for several decades now it has held a unique position among U.S. diplomatic missions. Its jurisdiction includes only Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. It does not fall under the direction or Jurisdiction of the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. It reports directly to, and falls under the jurisdiction of, the Department of State.

      In effect, the U.S. Consulate General's jurisdiction over Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, as well as its independence from American Embassy Tel Aviv's jurisdiction and direction, make it the "de facto" (if unofficial) diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in those areas.

      It establishes important contacts, performs political and economic reporting, and provides consular services. As a result of its mission, the Principal Officer (Consul General) and his staff have often been accused by the Israelis of harboring a "pro-Palestinian" stance. It has served us well as a conduit for contact with the Palestinian leadership and people.

  • Syria, Russia push to take East Aleppo pocket as airstrikes kill 66, wound 200
    • U.S. interests would have been far better served had we not become involved in Syria at all. Instead of bold, empty talk of "Assad has to go," we should have told the rebel groups not to expect any assistance from the U.S.

      Assad may be an SOB, but we managed our interests in the Near East for 45 years without much interference from either the old man, Hafez, or his son Bashar. They have run a secular, authoritarian state, which in my opinion is far more in our interest than would be a hostile religion-based authoritarian state, which any successor government is likely to be.

  • Why the Boeing & Airbus Sales to Iran are a Big Effing Deal
    • Along with the UN sanctions, the UN authorized an "oil for food" program that allowed iraq to sell oil for food that it could distribute to its people. From the moment the oil-for-food programme was introduced in 1996, Saddam concentrated all his energies on attempting to subvert it. The complex oil-for-food programme was introduced so that the profits from UN-supervised Iraqi oil sales would pay for essential healthcare supplies.

      But Saddam skilfully worked the system so that the profits were diverted to fund his regime rather than feed his people. An important element of this fraud was that a significant percentage of the funds was diverted to set up a voucher system that could be used to bribe a wide network of international politicians who could be counted upon to do Saddam's bidding.

      Far more than the sanctions was Saddam's subversion of the oil-for-food program that was responsible for the half million Iraqi children's deaths.

  • George Clooney Report Ruffles Feathers in South Sudan
    • Mr. Clooney suggests that we deal with South Sudan now rather than later, yet he offers no solutions or courses of action himself. This is typical advocacy for "humanitarian intervention," of which Mr. Clooney is a staunch proponent.

      It was evident from the beginning that South Sudan lacked even the most elementary conditions for establishing a viable nation-state: no middle class to speak of, no standard of living of any consequence, no tradition of Rule of Law, and no experience whatsoever in democratic governance. From its very inception It had all the ingredients for a failed state. What the international community, including the U.S., thought it was creating when it midwifed South Sudan is suggested in the lofty language at the time. The reality, as anyone could have predicted, is very different.

      So goes "nation-building" when a nation-state cannot come close to the institutional critical mass necessary for political, economic, and social development.

  • In Massive Intel Error, US Kills 80 Syrian Troops, Helps ISIL Advance
    • One final note on the Guardian article cited. The author can't even get the NATO Secretary General correct. He refers to Wesley Clark as "retired NATO Secretary General." This is risible. Wesley Clark Was SACEUR commander. The NATO Secretary General is always a European. So much for accuracy in reporting.

    • Syria's oil production is negligible and certainly has nothing to do with U.S. intervention, as was suggested by the comment above.

    • That there are differences over policy between the State Department and the Defense Department is nothing new. But the President makes the final call. To suggest that such internally debated differences "can explain the latest bombing as a deliberate act by the Pentagon to make a point to Kerry and to undermine his efforts" represents the intellectual level of the average conspiracy theorist.

    • We seem to have many armchair military analysts here who think they know everything about battle, apparently secure in their "knowledge" that intelligence is never faulty, and that United States targeting failures must always be deliberate. I wonder how many have actual military experience, or even read any military history?

      One of the truisms of war that is just as valid today as it was when he coined it is Prussian Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke's (von Moltke the Elder) observation: "No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy." That observation applies not only to the operational tempo of a campaign, but also to the inevitable mistakes that will be made in carrying out the operation.

      War is a messy business in the best of circumstances. That the use of GPS coordinates and "smart" weapons increase precision today does not mean mistakes are not made. There are men and women under stress interpreting intelligence and, inputting coordinates, and making targeting decisions. Mistakes will be inevitable.

    • "oh, wait, there is no oil there"

      No oil in Syria either.

  • The Green Current: A Superhero
    • Professor Cole is just having a bit of fun. Harmless, entertaining, and it relieves the tedium of constantly engaging with weightier subjects.

      I say "bravo" Professor!

  • "Pigs! Crusaders!": US-Backed Fundamentalist Militias drive US Commandos out of al-Ray, Syria
    • Laughable! Radio Free Europe is far more objective in its news reports than RT, which is primarily a propaganda voice for Russia.

    • "The result most likely would be a Wahhabi dictatorship that will export radical terrorism throughout the region (I predict Lebanon is next), but one that would allow the pipelines, oppose Iran, and generally do what America wants."

      First, as has been demonstrated over the last few years, the interests of Saudi Arabia and the United States are often not in alignment.

      Second, were Assad to be removed, the result would likely not be a Wahhabi dictatorship. The result would much more likely be chaos on the order of Libya, an ungovernable, failed state.

      Third, to state that the resulting government would likely "export radical terrorism throughout the region" but "would generally do what America wants" is so self-contradictory it does not require comment.

    • Syria has always opposed Israel. But for 45 years the U.S. has managed its interests in the Near East with the Assad family in power, first Havez then Bashar, without any interference to speak of. Were Assad to be replaced, it would almost certainly be by something far worse in terms of U.S. interests. Our interests are best served by not getting involved in attempting regime change.

    • One more example, if any were needed, of the folly of the U.S. getting involved in Syria in the first place. We have no interests in Syria, and were Assad to fall, his replacement would likely be worse in terms of U.S. interests. We should have told the rebels to begin with not to expect U.S. assistance in their campaign against Assad.

      Nevertheless, for RT to crow about this incident is laughable, given Russia's active support of Assad and his vicious bombing campaign that has created so many displaced persons and refugees. Perhaps Ms. Phelan should be pressed to explain why Russia is not taking in the bulk of the refugees it has so callously helped to create. Let's not condemn the EU or the US regarding refugee acceptance before holding Russia and Putin up to world condemnation for helping to create them and then refusing to take any in.

  • "This Parrot is no More": The 2016 Presidential Election did not Take Place
    • I couldn't agree more with your comments on the use of "believe" vs. a statement of "fact." It is the same with those who state "I feel" vs. "I think." On important issues I don't care how you "feel." I care about what you "think."

      More evidence of the sloppy use of imprecise language.

    • The 2016 U.S. election is the electoral version of "Schroedinger's Cat."

  • As Truce Starts, Russia Tells Free Syrian Army to Stop Fighting Kurds
    • If this truce even gets off the ground, it will be a matter of days before it breaks down. For reasons that have been discussed endlessly here and need not be repeated for fear of boredom, Russia's interests in Syria are almost diametrically opposed to those of the United States. Even the idea of a joint U.S.-Russian coordinated air campaign will run afoul of which rebel groups to target.

      The sad fact is that Russia has been in the driver's seat ever since President Obama laid down "Red Lines" when Assad used chemical weapons, and then pulled the rug out from his threat to send cruise missiles into Damascus, using the excuse of letting Congress decide. Both Obama and Kerry, and consequently the United States, looked weak and feckless. They violated the first rule of international relations: You don't make threats you are unprepared to follow through on. To quote Napoleon, "If you say you will take Vienna, take Vienna!"

      In fact, the U.S. has no interests in Syria and should never have become involved in the first place. for 45 years we managed our interests in the Near East while the Assad family--first Hafez then Bashar--ruled Syria. Both were SOBs. But just as Saddam Hussain was an SOB who at least maintained a stable country and provided a bulwark against Iranian adventurism, so, too, until the recent internal and external turmoil, have the Assads provided stability. If the Syrian people (or at least a segment of the population) wanted to rise up, so be it. But the United States had no obligation to engage in "humanitarian" intervention. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams' statement in 1821 has never been more applicable: "[The United States] is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

  • What did we buy with the $5 Trillion that the Iraq & Afghanistan Wars have cost us?
    • Take a look at those countries that have succeeded in establishing democratic, economically viable societies and those that have not. You will find that those that succeed do so because they possess certain cultural characteristics and have reached a level of critical mass, mentioned above, that leads to sustained development.

      South Korea and Taiwan are good examples of those that succeed. They were poor in 1960. By the 1980s they had transitioned to democratic nation-states with booming economies. They did it as a result of their own efforts, not as a result of U.S. aid and hectoring about human rights.

    • "No decent human being would mention the number of dead concentration and death camp guards before they mentioned the number of holocaust victims."

      No, he wouldn't, because he would recognize that comparing concentration camp holocaust victims and their camp guards to Iraqi deaths and American troops is to compare apples and oranges.

    • The U.S. is not unique in this regard. Every nation, whether it be Algeria, Togo, Russia, or Zambia, if engaged in hostilities will always be more concerned about its own casualties than those of its opponent. that is just the nature of the beast.

    • Not for lack of trying. ISIS has attempted to influence home-grown terrorists to do its bidding. There is no better definition of hostility against the U.S.

    • You need to study your Near East history. To say that ISIS is the same as Saddam Hussein reveals a huge lack of knowledge.

    • No, most of U.S. foreign aid has not been in the form of subsidies for U.S. industries. Do some research on U.S. aid around the world since World War II, and you will find most has been in the fields of health, governance, and infrastructure. The reason it hasn't resulted in modernity is stated in my comment above.

      And we are not talking about just Iraq. We are talking about U.S. aid world wide over a long period of time.

      Finally, I would be very careful if I were you about who you are labeling a "racist." You know nothing about me or anyone else, and that you would label someone a "racist" says a lot more about you than it does about your intended target.

    • "WHy do people always mention the number of dead and wounded American soldiers before they mention the number of dead Iraqis?"

      Because we are the United States, not Iraq.

    • "what makes isis so much worse than saddam?"

      ISIS attacks the United States. Saddam did not. Crucial difference.

    • The U.S. has spent billions of dollars in foreign aid to underdeveloped countries since the end of World War II. The problem is not U.S. largesse; the problem is the countries receiving it have not developed the critical mass (Rule of Law, middle class, standard of living) that only they can achieve. We cannot achieve it for them. The suggestion that we can engage in successful "nation building" is a fraudulent argument. Nations are "built" when the population decides it wants to do so and the critical mass, described above, is reached. Otherwise, aid money contributes very little to long-term, sustained political, economic, and social maturity.

  • Is Modern Israel a Right Wing Project?
    • Jabotinsky was not among the major founders of the state of Israel. Most of the "founding fathers," such as chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion, were left wing socialists. That israel has embraced right-wing ideology now has no bearing on the majority of founders who were left-wing socialists.

    • "Immediately following the formation of Israel, a sizeable percentage of kibbutzes were ideologically Stalinist, but by the 1960s, most of these collective farms were no longer operated by Communist adherents."

      I would disagree with the above-cited statement. While most of the kibbutzes were indeed Marxist in orientation--socialist and communist--that is a far cry from being Stalinist. To say they were "Stalinist" is to imply that any deviation from "orthodoxy" within the kibbutz would be met with imprisonment or death.

      There certainly were no "show trials" that resulted in "confessions" and executions, as there were under Stalin. Much less were there attempts to eliminate an entire class, as Stalin attempted in the case of the Kulaks.

      If one disagreed with the socialist-communist orientation of the Kibbutz, one might be forced to leave it. But that is hardly resorting to "Stalinism."

    • Israel was founded not by right-wing ideologues but by very left-wing Eastern European Marxists-Socialists. In face, that is the reason the Soviet Union was the first country to grant Israel "de Jure" recognition at it's establishment in 1948. The author seems to think that only "right-wing" governments engage in ethnic cleansing, bombing other countries, touting nationalism, etc. He would do well to educate himself on the history of the Soviet Union, its Eastern European satellites, Maoist China, and a dozen other examples.

  • Saudis Should Not Run Hajj Pilgrimage: Iran
    • "Pilgrims from Iran will be unable to attend hajj, which starts on Sept. 11, this year after talks between the two countries on arrangements broke down in May."

      Let's be clear. It is Iran that is preventing its own citizens from attending the hajj. And it is doing so as a political statement, not because it fears for the safety of Iranians who would make the hajj. This is a cynical move on Iran's part designed to elicit support in its opposition to Saudi Arabia.

  • Most US Networks slight coverage as US & China join Paris Climate Accord in key Turning Point
    • To proclaim the United States and china's signing on to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as a "show of unity," symbolic or otherwise, is pretty thin gruel. There is no mechanism to enforce the goals, and China does not even intend to begin reducing emissions until 2030.

      The fact is, the United States failed to gain any traction on the major issues with both China and Russia. Aside from the disdain with which Chinese officials treated our personnel accompanying Obama upon landing in China, Xi Jinping refused any talk of moderating its aggressive stance on the South China And East China Seas issue. And Russia's basic goals in Syria remain at odds with the U.S.'s goals. Once again, a hapless Secretary of State Kerry had to get in front of the camera's and microphones to advise that there were "obstacles" to reaching agreement.

      Unfortunately, the United States has demonstrated its almost total impotence in the face of Chinese and Russian goals that contradict those of the U.S. To suggest that the Climate Change Accord is a major victory, while ignoring U.S. strategic losses where it really counts in terms of national interest is to put lipstick on the proverbial pig.

  • America's Shameful Record on Syrian Refugees
    • The United States should never have become involved in Syria in the first place. We should have told the rebels initially, in no uncertain terms, that whatever their goal, they can expect no assistance from the U.S.

      We managed our interests in the Near East for 45 years while the Assad family ruled Syria. Neither Hafez al Assad nor Bashar al Assad were our friends, but neither did they actively thwart our interests in the region. Since 1970 Syria has been in the Russian orbit, so not much has changed. Looked at from the perspective of national interest, we have none in Syria. We never did, we do not now.

      Our involvement in Syria, like our involvement in the overthrow of Gadhafi in Libya, demonstrates the futility of "humanitarian intervention." Libya has descended into chaos, and that would be the likely result were Assad to be removed, either that or a far worse Islamist regime replacing him. U.S. intervention should be an option only when U.S. interests are at stake. So-called "humanitarian intervention," like so-called "nation building," is a fool's errand.

      There is an old saying that seems to be repeated with our (and others') actions time and again: "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception
    • Actually, U.S. immigration policy is primarily based on nuclear family reunification, i.e., spouses, children, parents, unmarried sons and daughters. It is not designed to benefit corporate and global South elites.

      Regarding refugees, they fall under a different program and are not considered part of the immigrant mix. I would agree that U.S. acceptance of genuine refugees, as opposed to those illegal immigrants who are seeking better economic opportunity, is problematic and could be improved.

    • "it increased sharply with the Immigration Act of 1990 to just over one million after 2000. I will accept the DHS figure."

      "But this is not generous, it is a tiny fraction of what other developed nations accept. You have not argued your point."

      For someone who thinks I have not argued my point, I am pleased to see that you accept my figure of one million legal immigrants per year, as DHS statistics demonstrate. Your next task, if you want to accurately understand immigration statistics, is to check on those for other developed countries. I assure you, you will find other countries do not come close to the one million per year accepted by the U.S.

      Regarding your apparent belief that the U.S., through humanitarian assistance, could have "lifted half the world from poverty," it demonstrates a significant level of misunderstanding of both what the U.S. has done and the requirements for development. The U.S. has provided a huge amount of development assistance through the Agency for International Development and other organs. But development requires commitment and reforms within the underdeveloped world itself. We cannot do it for them. They must create the conditions within their own societies that lead to permanent, sustained development.

    • The United States for years has taken in approximately one million legal immigrants per year under our immigration law. You can check statistics with the Department of Homeland Security (under which immigration falls). If you think the U.S. takes in only a "fraction" of that, you had better check your source's validity. It is wrong. Filipinos, Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, Mexicans, Brazilians, and scores of other nationalities are admitted as immigrants each year under our immigration law.

      Your claim that a nation does not have the sovereign right to determine who enters the country is simply your own fantasy. It has always been the sovereign right of a country to determine who may enter. The United States indeed has a very generous immigration policy. But it is not obligated to accept every person seeking better economic opportunity to enter illegally.

    • Two points need to be emphasized here.

      First, the United States has a very generous immigration policy, one based primarily on family reunification. Any U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident may petition for the appropriate member of the petitioner's nuclear family. Each year the U.S. takes in over one million legal immigrants based on these family relationships. And that does not count the number of refugees that are accepted via the U.S. refugee program, which, as they will eventually become Legal Permanent Residents and citizens, puts the eventual total much higher. That figure of one million legal immigrants exceeds the total of legal immigrants taken in by all other countries combined.

      Second, I have been to Nogales and seen the fence separating Mexico and the United States for miles. The fact is, the U.S., like every other country in the world, has the sovereign right to determine who enters the country and under what circumstances. There are significant measures taken besides a physical fence: drones, sensors, the Border Patrol covering certain segments, etc. This has led to many more illegal immigrants attempting to cross the hot, arid Arizona desert. But that is their choice. The U.S. has publicly tried to discourage illegal border-crossers. That they continue to make the journey is not the fault of the U.S. That they cross in spite of warnings of the danger and often suffer the consequences is due to their own decision and choice.

      Stories such as the author's above about the illegal immigrant before the judge are of course sad. But the U.S. cannot be the final destination for every unhappy person seeking a better life, either in Latin America or the rest of the world. The U.S. carries its share of legal immigration and has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

      The 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country must be brought out of the shadows and allowed to apply for legal status. The cannot, and should not, be deported. Nevertheless, the U.S. must do a better job of controlling its border and seeing that those who have been granted a temporary tourist visa depart on schedule. What is really needed, though, is a very tough sanctions program, one that is rigidly enforced, against those employers in the U.S. who hire illegal immigrants. That would cut off the magnet that draws illegals to the U.S. in the first place.

  • It Could Happen To You: How Trump Could Make America Less Democratic
    • I already have, above, by citing examples of regimes that manipulated and propagandized their populations magnitudes greater than anything we in the U.S. have experienced.

    • "The US is the most propagandized, manipulated people the world has ever known."

      Your statement cited above is so ahistorical as to hardly warrant comment. You obviously know nothing about the Stalinist Soviet Union or today's North Korea under the Kim dynasty. Not to mention a host of others: Nazi Germany, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Mao's China, etc., etc.

      Read a little history and inform yourself before making such nonsensical, ahistorical statements.

  • The Short-Lived Russia-Iran Axis
    • Correction in my last sentence: "interoperability" vice "inoperability."

    • "Iran and Russia enjoy a level of interoperability that will never be extended to the U.S."

      No, Iran and Russia do not enjoy interoperability. Interoperability requires that both sides possess the same armaments--ground forces, aircraft, naval vessels--and more importantly, that both have a high level of joint training in not only the use of weapons, but also in Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence. Russia and Iran share none of these requirements. I'm afraid you lack an understanding of just what inoperability entails.

  • Juan Cole, "The Idea of Peace in the Qur’an" (Kluge Center Blog)
    • One further thought on the subject, Professor Cole. While, as you state, the Hadith are very problematic for the reasons mentioned and historians don't view most of them as reflecting the ideas of the Prophet Muhammad, they have had a major impact on, and have been incorporated into, Islamic thought and belief. With all due respect (and I hold the historian's profession in the highest regard), Western historiography does not determine Islamic world view and belief.

      I do look forward to publication of your book on the subject.

    • I understand that the Qur'an does not make a distinction between the "Dar al Islam" and the "Dar al Harb," and I didn't write that. I stated: "And don’t forget that one of the primary tenets of Islam has always been that the world is divided between the “Dar al Islam” (House of Islam) and the “Dar al Harb” (House of War), i.e. between Islamic believers and infidels."

    • "the Qur’an has verses about war as well as peace, but those on peace have been insufficiently appreciated."

      Granted, that the verses in the Qur'an on peace have been insufficiently appreciated. But there are plenty of verses in the Qur'an whose meaning of "Jihad" is clearly war or armed conflict. and don't forget that one of the primary tenets of Islam has always been that the world is divided between the "Dar al Islam" (House of Islam) and the "Dar al Harb" (House of War), i.e. between Islamic believers and infidels.

      In discussing the obligation of "Jihad" as Holy War, classical Muslim Jurists distinguish between offensive and defensive warfare. And for most of the fourteen centuries of Muslim recorded history, Jihad has been waged via armed conflict either to advance or defend Muslim power.

      In order to understand Islam, it is crucial to understand all aspects of the Qur'an, the Hadiths, and Shar'ia Law, including those on peace. But it would be a distortion to act as an apologist for Islam by omitting those aspects that clearly suggest the need for Jihad as war and armed conflict.

  • Near-War: US Planes almost tangle with Syrian MiGs, which bombed area of US troop Embeds
    • At the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution the U.S. had approximately 21,000 advisors in Vietnam. That number had held consistent since 1963.

    • Of course the Taliban did not ask the United States to come in and fight al-Qaeda. Mullah Omar and the Taliban were instrumental in offering Bin Laden and al-Qaeda sanctuary to run the terrorist enterprise, including training camps, out of Afghanistan. This made the Taliban complicit in the Act of War represented by the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

      The initial decision to attack Afghanistan and root out Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban who gave Al-Qaeda a privileged sanctuary and training facilities from which to wage war against the United States and the West, was correct and necessary. We had been attacked in an Act of War, and the perpetrators and their enablers had to be dealt with militarily.

      Article 51 of the United Nations Charter clearly applied in this case. To argue, as some might, that Article 51 did not apply because the Taliban did not "pull the trigger" or request the U.S. to come in is risible in the extreme.

  • Merkel: Migrants did not bring Radical Terrorism to Germany
    • Is the average American any more ignorant of Muslims than the average German? The average Frenchman? The average Brit? I doubt it, unless you can produce evidence demonstrating that American ignorance exceeds that of European countries.

  • Five truths about the Hijab (Muslim Veil) that need to be told
    • Having spent many years in Latin America, I can surmise that your happiness in growing old in multi-cultural Peru is a function of your European ethnic heritage. Peru is "multi-cultural" only in the sense that there are those of European (primarily Spanish) heritage and indigenous Indian heritage living within the same borders. Peru has one of the most stratified divisions separating those of European descent and those of Indian descent in the world. Were you one of the Indians living in either the Andean highlands or the Amazonian lowlands, you would most certainly not be enjoying the life you now lead, wearing traditional clothes notwithstanding.

      Consider that until very recently the statue standing in Lima's Plaza de Armas was of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conqueror of the Incas. compare that to Mexico's much more accepting response to its Indian heritage, exemplified by the statue of Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec emperor, in Mexico City's Zocalo.

      That Peru allows its Indian population to wear traditional clothes is nice, but more importantly it helps to keep them in their place. In America we allow our Indian population to wear traditional clothes as well. All you have to do is visit the Navajo and Hopi in Arizona to appreciate that. But that does not mean they have been "multi-culturally" accepted by the larger society. We have, however, done a better job of it than has Peru.

    • Here is a sixth myth that the author seems to believe, that the Hijab is equivalent to the "Muslim Veil." The Hijab covers the hair and ears, leaving the face exposed. The veil, such as the niqab, covers everything except the eyes. One wonders where the author learned about Islam?

  • Dragon Rising? China seeks Closer military Cooperation with Syria
    • Chinese arms sales to the Syrian military, thereby making a profit on the Syrian civil war and ingratiating themselves with the Russians in an attempt to gain greater Russian support for their illegitimate island and reef grabs in the South China and East China Seas. Otherwise, the Chinese have no interests in Syria.

    • Nothing new under the sun. The Concert of Europe represented the Balance of Power that was institutionalized at the 1815 Congress of Vienna after the defeat of Napoleon. Initially, the major players were Austria, Prussia, Russia, and Great Britain. France was added later. It managed to keep Europe relatively peaceful for a century until 1914 and the outbreak of World War One.

      We have seen the Balance of Power in international relations play out as recently as 1971-72, when President Nixon and Henry Kissinger engineered the rapprochement with China. This was a classic Balance of Power move, with both the United States and china seeing it in their interest to move toward each other in opposition to the perceived threat from the Soviet Union.

      Whether something similar will occur with regard to China and Russia combining in joint opposition to the United States, in Syria or elsewhere, remains to be seen.

  • Does this Change Everything? Russia's first strikes on Syria from Iran Airbases
    • "Bush the elder came up though the CIA – that is never mentioned, is it?"

      No it is not, because the statement is patently false. Bush the Elder served as CIA Director for one year, January 1976 to January 1977. He did not "come up through the CIA."

      Bush the Elder's career included Texas State Republican Chairman, Texas Congressman, Republican National Committee Chairman, UN Ambassador, Envoy to China, Vice President, and President. And one year with the CIA as Director.

  • Trump and Extreme Vetting of Muslims
    • Under the 14th Amendment Trump, having been born in the US, became a US citizen at birth and unfortunately can spout off as he wishes. Ironically, his "birther" stance attempted to deny President Obama the very constitutional guarantee that he himself enjoys. The irony would no doubt be lost on Trump.

  • People in Syria's Manbij Rejoice by Shaving, throwing off Veil as ISIL fighters Flee
    • Speaking of heads buried in the bloody sand! We are not at war with Iraq. We are assisting the Iraqi army in its fight to retake territory from ISIS. We are not "bombing Iraq incessantly." In fact, it is Russia who is doing most of the bombing in its campaign in Syria.

      The first Gulf War in 1990 against Saddam Hussein's Iraq was wholly justified. Iraq had invaded and occupied Kuwait, and it posed a threat to Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. After the US-led coalition (34 countries, including Russia and Hafez Assad's Syria!) succeeded in pushing Iraq out of Kuwait, we ceased hostilities. The UN Resolution was followed to the letter.

  • Monsters to Destroy: Top 7 Reasons the US could not have forestalled Syrian Civil War
    • On what do you base your apparent belief that the U.S. could have "expanded the Security Council permanent membership and done away with the P5 veto" on its own. Do you think the U.S., or any other country, can just have its way in the U.N.? Why would it have been in the U.S. interest to do away with the P5 veto in any case? And even if the U.S. had tried to implement your suggestion, Russia would have (you guessed it!) vetoed it.

    • Actually, James Monroe was President, and John Quincy Adams, as Secretary of State, delivered the speech to which you refer on July 4, 1821. The line you quote, "But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy." is followed by an even more prescient line that we would be well advised to heed today: "[America] is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

      Would those who call for intervention and regime change in Syria want another Libya on their hands? That likely would be the result. Countries that lack mature political, economic, and legal institutions are “built” into viable, mature nations only when a certain critical mass within the country is reached that spurs such development. That critical mass includes, but is not necessarily limited to, a standard of living that creates a reasonably-sized middle class; a respect for and trust in the rule of law; and the prospect that individuals can engage in economic pursuits of their choice. All of these act as a catalyst for a country’s population to demand greater political participation and leadership accountability. We cannot do it for them.

  • No, Obama did not found ISIL, Mr. Trump: That was the GOP
    • How do you propose Obama could have acted to arrest the conditions that fostered the growth of ISIS? Are you suggesting that he should have deployed U.S. forces in Iraq without a SOFA? The Iraqi parliament refused to approve a SOFA in spite of Obama's attempts to get one approved.

      When the U.S. establishes military bases in and deploys troops on behalf of a sovereign ally, we always do it under the auspices of a SOFA. If the U.S. cannot protect its forces from local legal jurisdiction of a country we are there to assist, then the country is not worth our assistance.

  • Trump threatens Sec. Clinton with Gun Nuts, imitates Tinpot 3rd World Regimes
    • "My own guess is that Trump is trolling the Obama Department of Justice and hoping to be harassed by the DoJ so that he can claim persecution and martyrdom in front of the public."

      You give Trump too much credit for having tactical forethought. I think it was his usual reckless behavior, only this time he went way beyond bounds by threatening Hillary Clinton with potential assassination by his gun-nut followers.

  • On 71st Anniversary of Hiroshima, the Fear of a Nuclear Trump
    • It has never been U.S. nuclear doctrine to use nuclear weapons only if attacked with nuclear weapons. The United States has never adopted the doctrine of "No First Use," and NATO has always reserved the right to use nuclear weapons in case of a Russian invasion of NATO countries in order to compensate for the overwhelming superiority in conventional forces enjoyed by the Russians.

  • Nagasaki, 1945: “The world did not need your experiment”
    • Japan was not in "peace negotiations" with the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was not a belligerent party as it had not declared war on Japan, and in fact it refused to act as a negotiating intermediary. The USSR was not as yet a member of the allied effort against Japan and had no standing to act on the allies' behalf.

      Scholarship over the last two decades, MAGIC decrypts of Japanese diplomatic traffic, and the evidence we have of the final deliberations of Japanese officials and the emperor indicate that The Japanese were not ready to surrender. They put out feelers to the Soviet Union, hoping to get better terms, but they offered no concrete terms themselves.

      Moreover, we know that what the Japanese had in mind was more an armistice rather than a surrender. It included no allied occupation of the Japanese home islands, no allied war crimes trials (which if conducted at all would be conducted by the Japanese themselves), and continued Japanese occupation of Manchuria (Manchukuo, as they called their puppet state). This would have been a case of the vanquished dictating terms to the victors and was unacceptable, particularly given that the Japanese initiated the war and the atrocities they committed in its execution.

    • You are correct, dmol. "Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire," by Richard B. Frank is well researched and conclusively establishes that the atomic bombs ended the war and saved hundreds of thousands of lives, both American and Japanese, that would have been lost had an invasion been necessary. Two other books I recommend to counter the "revisionist" narrative that was overtaken by scholarship at least 20 years ago: "The Most Controversial Decision: Truman, the Atomic Bombs, and the Defeat of Japan," by Wilson D. Miscamble; and "Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-1945," by the British military historian Max Hastings.

  • Obama not only did not pay Iran Ransom, he denied Iran Billions it had Coming to It
    • Something similar occurred, but under different circumstances, with regard to the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan in 1989. Pakistan had bought and paid for 28 F-16s to the tune of $464 million. The funds had been transferred but the planes had not yet been delivered when The shipment was blocked -- and the planes placed in escrow in the Arizona desert -- after President George H.W. Bush declined to certify that Pakistan was free of atomic weapons and Congress, concluding Pakistan had lied about its nuclear program, imposed restrictions on arms exports as required by the Pressler Amendment.

      This issue festered for ten years--the U.S. kept Pakistan's money but blocked delivery of the F-16s. The Pentagon had used the money to pay Lockheed and the planes were in the Arizona desert. Pakistan, logically enough, wanted either the F-16s or the money returned, noting that it was an issue of fairness. There were attempts by the U.S. to sell the planes to both the Philippines and Indonesia, but both deals fell through for various reasons. Finally, in 1999, President Bill Clinton reimbursed Pakistan the amount due, thus removing a major irritant in U.S. Pakistani relations.

  • Donald "Dr. Strangelove" Trump and some of the Times We almost had a Nuclear War
    • A couple of other original black and white films that could never be improved upon, both in their cast and in their director's touch. 1942's "Casablanca," starring Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and the incomparable Dooley Wilson as "Sam," Rick's pianist and singer. There are no actors today who could come close to those magnificent performances.

      And 1949's "The Third Man," directed by Carol Reed, and starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton. If anyone were to attempt a remake of "The Third Man," he should be summarily executed by firing squad at sunrise.

    • "I have long wondered why no one in Hollywood has remade Stanley Kubricks’s 1964 “Dr. Strangelove: Or How I learned to Stop worrying and Love the Bomb.” They’ve remade almost everything else from the 1960s, but that classic Peter Sellers film languishes in black and white and I’m not sure most Millennials have seen it."

      Some films should not be remade because the original, in black and white, cannot be improved upon, and 1964's "Dr. Strangelove" is one. An example of a classic that was remade is1962's "The Manchurian Candidate," filmed in black and white, and starring Frank Sinatra, Lawrence Harvey and Angela Lansbury. It was remade in color in 2004, starring Denzel Washington, Liev Shreiber, and Meryl Streep.

      The 2004 remake of "The Manchurian Candidate" was not nearly as good as the original. The stars could not match the acting of the original cast, and the black and white original, with its shades of lighting, was far more atmospheric than the remake. I'm afraid a remake of "Dr. Strangelove" would be just as disappointing.

      Both original films, by the way, are shown on Turner Classic Movies from time to time, and anyone, including Millennials, can see them. (That is, if Millennials are capable of tearing themselves away from their ubiquitous "social media" long enough to watch a great movie.)

  • Dear Trumpists: Khizr Khan is not 'Muslim Brotherhood' and it wouldn't matter if he Were
    • I completely agree with your analysis and conclusion regarding why a moderate Pakistani Muslim would not be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. To suggest it is just further evidence of the intellectual vacuum in which Trump and his ilk operate.

      Nevertheless, I would take issue with the attempt to paint the Muslim Brotherhood as a benign, mainstream organization that supported democratic elections and "won" a majority in parliament. It is in what happened after Mohammad Morsi assumed power that this portrait of a benign political organization begins to unravel.

      Mohammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have only themselves to blame for their downfall and the Egyptian military’s assumption of political power under al-Sisi. It was clear from the beginning that the MB had not changed its stripes, and that it wanted to impose an Islamist government on Egypt. They showed their hand early-on by stating they would not run a candidate for president and would not contest seats in the upper house of parliament, and then reversing themselves and doing both. It was an obvious bait-and-switch ploy to soften the image of their Islamist history and undermine the wariness Egyptians held regarding the MB agenda.

      We can be spared laments about the democratic process being subverted by the military. It was Morsi and the MB who began subverting the democratic process by ensuring a majority in the upper house of parliament and by ramming through an MB-inspired constitution that was heavily Islamist in content. Democracy is a lot more than just winning an election. Many groups, and I suspect the MB is among them, are quite willing to use the democratic election process to attain power, and then, having attained it, attempt to impose an undemocratic regime on a nation.

  • Are the Muslim Khans better Americans than Donald Trump?
    • It is amusing that those like Trump and his ilk who are quick to criticize John McCain's character and courage as a POW have never faced anything more dangerous than a pimple on their butt.

    • If you wish to continue channeling Donald Trump in your dismissal of John McCain's obvious courage and character in his conduct while undergoing torture for years as a POW and his refusal of release until all were released, please carry on.

      You give yourself away, however, in your last sentence: "I might consider reading the biography of McCain before I read the one about Joseph McCarthy." Your attempt at creating a false equivalency between John McCain and Joseph McCarthy reveals an inability to make important distinctions between courage and character on the one hand, and a complete lack of both on the other.

    • I have no idea what you are talking about. It certainly was a demonstration of character and courage on McCain's part to refuse release until all were released.

      And what McCain's decision as a POW to remain with his comrades has to do with Russian and Iranian military officers is beyond me. They are not even mentioned in this thread.

      Nevertheless, I don't think you have a clue what Russian or Iranian military officers would do given the same predicament. But whatever they might or might not do does not detract from John McCain's courage and convictions regarding his fellow POWs at the time.

      By the way, you know you sound just like Trump.

    • "I don’t think you had to agree with the Vietnam War or want to serve in it to be a patriotic American (I didn’t, either). But I do think that not having served should make you cautious about making blanket criticisms of those who did and do. Trump dismissed Sen. John McCain’s sacrifices as a POW on the grounds that he was captured (implying that McCain is a loser.)"

      Your quote, cited above, is absolutely spot-on, Professor Cole. Both those who serve in the armed forces of the United States and those who choose not to deserve respect for their decisions. Neither can, or should, claim moral superiority over the other.

      Regarding Trump's dismissal of John McCain's well-deserved status as a hero for having spent years as a POW in North Vietnam after being captured when his plane was shot down, there's more to the story. When the North Vietnamese found out that John McCain's father was the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Command (CINCPAC) they offered to release him. John McCain refused to be released until all American POWs being held by the North Vietnamese were released. Now that is a supreme example of character and courage, something Donald Trump would not recognize if it stared him in the face.

  • Palestinian FM asks Arab League to help sue UK over Balfour Declaration
    • You may depend on Wikipedia, and you are welcome to it. I have never depended on Wikipedia, as it is often wrong, but more often it offers incomplete summaries of the subject matter.

      I gain my knowledge and insights from an extensive library I have maintained for decades. What I have written above is historically correct. Nevertheless, if you wish to challenge my points, I am up to the challenge. Feel free to do so.

    • The Balfour Declaration, dated November 2, 1917, declared British support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It did not "pledge to create a Jewish state," as stated in the piece above. There is a distinct difference between a "national home," which is ambiguous and could take several forms, and a "state," which is rigidly defined in international law.

      The piece does not state in which legal venue the Palestinian Authority would sue Britain, nor does it state what the charges would be. The Balfour Declaration had no legal basis. It was simply a letter stating that the British Government would support the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people. At the time, Britain and the allies were at war with the Ottoman Empire, which exercised authority over Palestine.

      The text of the Balfour Declaration follows.

      "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

      The piece above is incorrect in stating that the Declaration "was not made public until several years after World War I, in 1920." It was made public in "The Times" on November 9, 1917, one week after its November 2 formulation.

      The Palestinian Authority should be focusing on measures to enhance its status today, not trying to engage in what would no doubt prove a fruitless exercise bringing suit against Britain based on a one-hundred-year old letter that had no legal authority when it was devised. Moreover, the Ma'an News Agency in its piece above has done such a shoddy job of presenting its so-called "facts" regarding the Balfour Declaration that one is tempted to suggest a brush-up on journalistic tradecraft might be in order.

  • Arab Street Shocked as Saudi Delegation Visits Israel
    • Hegemony does not necessarily involve the equivalent of "Nazi Germany" (an overused analogy in any case). Nor does it necessarily involve invasion. Hegemony can be accomplished by simply becoming the dominant influence in a region, and this is what Iran aspires to. Becoming the dominant influence in the Near East.

    • A non-sequitur. The question is not whether or not Israel possesses nuclear weapons. The question concerns the original poster's totally unfounded assumption that the Israelis and Saudis are cooperating as a result of "obedience to US and Israeli demands." They are operating on the basis of their own perceived national interests vis-a-vis Iran. The US is not the puppet-master of either the Israelis or the Saudis. Very poor analysis and conclusions in the original article.

    • "It seems that the whole Arab world has forsaken the cause of the Palestinians in obedience to US and Israeli demands. This trend will be sadly accelerated under the next US Administration."

      General Anwar Eshki's visit to Israel and increasing Israeli-Saudi coordination have absolutely nothing to do with "obedience to US and Israeli demands." Such a superficial interpretation ignores the true motive of both the Saudis and the Israelis which is to stem the hegemonic rise of Iran in the Near East. It is the same motive that drove the US and USSR to ally against Germany in World War II.

      That Saudi Arabia and Israel may coordinate actions to halt Iran's goal of hegemony in the region is simply a matter of "realpolitik." A solid grounding in history teaches that a nation's perceived national interest trumps ideological differences when it comes to alliances against a common adversary. Nothing unusual here.

  • Rep. Steve King, White People and 'Civilization'
    • "The internal colonialism of the Americas, pre-Columbus, was no less thorough than in Europe. "

      The Aztecs (known as the "Mejica") were no less imperialists than were the Spanish. They conquered surrounding groups, exacted tribute, slaves, and sacrificial subjects. Cortez conquered the Aztecs with the assistance of some 30,000 Tlaxcalan and Totonac warriors who were happy to throw off Aztec dominance.

      The Apache and Navajo both arrived relatively late in the Southwestern U.S., arriving in the 14th and 15th centuries. Migrating from Canada, they proved hostile to the Pueblo Indians who had dwelt in the area for centuries, mounting raids, stealing, and killing.

      And the Plains Indians had a long history of hostilities among themselves. Imperialism and dominance over conquered peoples is not a phenomenon unique to Europeans.

    • " Stop trying to impose moral equivalence on America’s lopsided history of injustice."

      No one is "imposing moral equivalence on America's lopsided history of injustice." The question revolves around the invented categories of color and race, something Professor Cole pointed out and anthropologists have known for decades. Pierce is indeed just as guilty of using such invented categories to support his opinion as King is in support of his. Invented categories are invented categories, period.

    • "There are lots of basic things wrong with King’s statement, even just starting with his category of ‘whiteness’. Whiteness is not ‘natural’– it is an invented category."

      Your observation about "whiteness" being an invented category is spot-on, Professor Cole. But if it was wrong for King to use it in his statement, it was equally wrong for Esquire's Charlie Pierce to use it in his statement quoted below.

      “If you’re really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, its public face,” Pierce said. “That hall is wired,” he continued. “That hall is wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

      Pierce is just as guilty of using color and racial categories in support of his opinions as King is in support of his.

  • Nice, France, Attack: A Gandhian Response to Serial Killers
    • Your statement that the U.S. has never established a democracy is what is counterfactual. The U.S. occupation of Japan and the Joint U.S.-British-French occupation of Germany led to firmly established democracies in those countries. More recently, the U.S. led the effort to create an independent Kosovo. And the present-day democracies in Central and Eastern Europe were largely the result of the U.S. and the West applying the Containment policy against the Soviet Union, which had them under its totalitarian hegemony.

      China is most definitely asserting its illegitimate adventurism in both the South China and East China Seas. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague just found China in breach of international law in a case brought forth by the Philippines. China's claim with their "nine-dash ling" encompassing practically the whole South China Sea has no basis in history or international law and has practically all of Maritime Southeast Asia welcoming continued U.S. presence.

      Of course there are disagreements within NATO from time to time, but the 28 members of NATO have held steadfast since 1949, a remarkable period of time. The U.S. didn't "buy" NATO members off; they willingly participate.

      You would do well to steep yourself in a little history and not automatically fall for the knee-jerk anti-U.S. screed. The U.S. has made mistakes, but just imagine what the world would be like had the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or Maoist China been the hegemonic power for the last 70 years. I guarantee that you would not have survived writing your screed above without suffering prison or worse.

    • "left the US the most despised and anti-democratic nation in the world’s history."

      The above statement is not only irresponsible, it represents ahistorical hyperbole. Those who know something about history could easily satirize it by comparing the "most despised and anti-democratic" U.S. with history's paragons of virtuous love and democracy: Medici Florence, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Stalinist Soviet Union, communist Eastern European tyrannies, China under Mao, North Korea, and others throughout history.

      Moreover, I doubt you could convince many present-day countries that the U.S. is "the most despised and anti-democratic nation in the world's history." Certainly the 27 European and Canadian members of NATO who have chosen to ally themselves with the U.S. do not think so. Nor do the countries of Southeast Asia--Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, and the Philippines--who want the U.S. presence in their waters to offset Chinese adventurism in the South China Sea.

      Nor do Japan and South Korea, who have longstanding alliances and friendly relations with the U.S., and who appreciate the U.S. shield protecting them from North Korean and Chinese adventurism.

      But of course all of the aforementioned countries have an understanding of history. Moreover, they understand that the U.S. has provided balance and protection for a world order that since 1945 has provided for increased trade, freedom of navigation, economic benefits, and relatively free societies within most of them. Not a bad record, on balance.

    • "And give John Kerry the backing and the resources to bring the Syrian civil war to an end."

      John Kerry, even with backing and resources, is in no position to bring the Syrian civil war to an end. Bashar al-Asad is in a relatively strong position vis-a-vis the various rebels (a few legitimate, most salafists or worse). Moreover, Russia is in the driver's seat and has been since Obama and Kerry abdicated any real American role and the Russians stepped in.

      Kerry's mission to Putin and Lavrov (executed much as a supplicant) with a plan to share intelligence and coordinate air strikes will suit Putin as long as it knocks out al-Asad's opponents. But don't expect anything that impinges on Russia's interests, such as bringing al-Asad to the table to negotiate his own demise. What's more, I don't know why it would be in the U.S. interest to get rid of al-Asad, given the strong possibility of the chaos or worse that likely would follow. Do we want another Libya? Iraq? Yemen?

  • Is Iran winning their Mideast Cold War with Saudi Arabia?
    • That there are certain Iranian officials and entities on the U.S. sanctions list does not prevent European banks from engaging with Iran. All major banks, European or otherwise, have legal departments to work on such matters. The fact is, with the sanctioned exceptions, European banks are free to deal with Iran.

      Regarding displeasure in Iran as a result of economic improvements, that is primarily a result of Iran's own internal politics and internecine fighting among various factions. Foreign investors are reluctant to put large amounts of money into a country with as much uncertainty as Iran exhibits.

      To name just two: Iran does not have a great reputation for courts enforcing contracts in cases involving foreign entities. Likewise, Iran (primarily via the Revolutionary Guards) has a history of holding and imprisoning foreigners without reason. Neither of these likely instills confidence in foreign investors to put both funds and personnel at risk.

    • Please describe how the US is preventing European banks from dealing with Iran. The British newspaper "The guardian" reports, "Iranian banks will soon re-establish connections with the European financial system, and private firms can now pursue business opportunities without fear of western punishment." How is the US, as you state, "stopping European banks from dealing with Iran."? Please provide evidence for your assertion.

  • Obama to Send 4000 US Troops to Bolster NATO Force Against Russia 'Aggression'
    • Poland and the Baltic states are members of NATO, a defensive alliance, and they have requested a greater NATO presence in their countries to counter the Russian buildup along their borders.

      The last time I checked, Mexico and Canada are on friendly terms with the United States, have a trade agreement (NAFTA) with the United States, and have no need for a defensive alliance with Russia or China. Thus, no need for Russia or China to "contain" the United States along the Mexican and Canadian borders.

      Yours is a false equivalency that bears no relationship to reality.

    • Poland did not begin the actual fighting. Between August 26 and August 30, 1939, on Hitler's orders three million men, 400,000 horses, 200,000 vehicles, and 5,000 trains advanced toward the Polish frontier. On August 30, Hitler gave the attack order.

      At 8:00 PM on the evening of August 31, there occurred the German-engineered event that you refer to, which had nothing to do with the Poles but provided the pretext for the German invasion. Sturmbannfuhrer Alfred Naujocks of the German Sicherheitsdienst (security service) led a party dressed in Polish uniforms, including a dozen convicted criminals, in a mock assault on the German radio station at Gleiwitz in Upper Silesia.

      Shots were fired, Polish patriotic slogans were broadcast, the "attackers" withdrew, and SS machine gunners then killed the convicts. Their bodies were displayed in Polish uniforms as "evidence" of Polish aggression. With this pretext in hand, the German invasion of Poland began on September 1.

      This German "assault" on the radio station in Polish uniforms has long been known as the "fig leaf" that served as the flimsy pretext for the German invasion.

    • You might not be so glib in your condemnation of the U.S. and NATO reinforcing their presence in Poland and the Baltic states if you bothered to review a little history. Poland and the Baltic states are requesting a greater NATO presence because they, unlike you, have not forgotten that history.

      Under the terms of the Secret Protocols of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Agression Pact, signed August 23, 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland between them, and the independent Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were ceded to Russia. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded and occupied its assigned portion of Poland. On September 17, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east and occupied its portion, thus wiping Poland off the map.

      In early August 1940, the Soviet Union, under the terms of the Secret Protocol, incorporated Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania as constituent republics of the Soviet Union. Like Poland, the Baltics lost their independence.

      It has been a history of Russian aggression against Poland and the Baltic states, coupled with a large Russian buildup along their borders today, that has driven the increased NATO presence. The U.S. and NATO response is a perfectly legitimate defensive measure in light of the history of Russian aggression.

  • H. Clinton and Ed Snowden: Some Animals are more Equal than others
    • Her misuse and violations of State Department regulations regarding E-mail use was vastly greater than those of her predecessors, i.e., former Secretaries of State. None of her predecessors had their own personal servers in the basement of their residence. Magnitudes greater.

    • The subject is your suggestion that Bush committed treason. I suggest you better inform yourself by looking up Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution.

    • If you think the Bush Administration was guilty of treason, I suggest you read the Constitution and its definition of treason, as you don't appear to know what it is. Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them Aid and Comfort has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. Whatever the Bush Administration is guilty of, it is not treason.

    • I have my facts. Had you read my comment more carefully you would have noted that I didn't say what she may have done is a crime. I wrote, "Her misuse and violations of State Department regulations regarding E-mail use was vastly greater than those of her predecessors, i.e., former Secretaries of State.

    • "Did he give anything to Putin that he did not give to the American Public?"

      He didn't have to. By ensuring the release of the highly classified information via the media, Snowden ensured that Putin, China, and every terrorist organization working against us had the information, now in the public domain, and could alter their communications to avoid NSA capturing it.

    • While other Secretaries of State occasionally used their private E-mail accounts to conduct State Department business, Hillary Clinton's use was magnitudes greater. Unlike other Secretaries who occasionally used their private accounts, Secretary Clinton actually had her own server installed in the basement of her residence and used it as her primary conduit for State Department E-mails. Her misuse and violations of State Department regulations regarding E-mail use was vastly greater than those of her predecessors.

    • Hillary Clinton did not accuse Snowden of "being careless" with government information. As you note in your piece, Clinton stated, “He broke the laws of the United States . . . He stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands. So I don’t think he should be brought home without facing the music.”

      Moreover, the statement that, "she should have the decency to admit that she put persons of conscience like Snowden in a position where they had to risk their lives to let Americans know that the National Security State had repealed the Constitution." way overstates the danger Snowden faced. He hardly "risked his life" by taking highly classified information and handing it over to the media for public dissemination.

      There is no equivalency between Clinton's and Snowden's respective actions regarding classified information. While Clinton certainly was wrong in setting up a private E-mail server that sent and received classified information, she did not intentionally release classified information for public dissemination. Snowden, on the other hand, was not "careless" in his handling of classified information. He deliberately passed classified information to media elements with the intention that it be made public.

  • Buddhist Mob Burns Down a Muslim Mosque in Myanmar Village
    • What is particularly disgraceful is Aung San Suu Kyi's response to Buddhist attacks on Burmese Muslims which do nothing. A Nobel Peace Laureate who spent 15 years under house arrest, now that she heads the ruling party as State Counselor, her moral courage has abandoned her. In May she even advised the US Ambassador to cease calling the Muslims in Rakine State Rohingya. She, like the Buddhist attackers, consider them Bengaiis who belong in Bangladesh. She really has blotted her copy book on this issue.

  • Putin's Winning Hand in Syria, as Turkey Apologizes and Obama Deals
    • "Whatever al-Asad may be, and no doubt he is pretty bad (and damned by us as he is not “Our SOB” any longer)"

      Bashar al-Asad was never "Our SOB." For 45 years, under Hafez al-Asad and his son Bashar, Syria has been first a Soviet then a Russian client state. Frankly, the U.S. managed our interests in the Near East without much difficulty from Syria under al-Asad rule. Syria was never a friend of the U.S., but it didn't strenuously oppose our pursuit of wider interests in the region either. But, to be sure, the al-Asad family was never "Our SOB."

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