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Total number of comments: 20 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:53)


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  • Wikileaks on Israel, Iraq and the Iranian Specter
    • What is being implicitly referred to is the expectation that if the Middle East turns even more dangerous for Israelis, such that they lose their status as the sole nuclear regional superpower, then Israeli Jews may well simply emigrate in large numbers.

      Good point, although we don't need Wikileaks to tell us that (it came up frequently in that essay written by Jeff Goldberg a few months ago).

      I think it goes beyond just the Iranian nukes. It's that Israel has made its military dominance more or less the sole guarantor of its psychological and physical security, and a key element of that is that the military must be able to prevent attacks from happening. Iranian nukes change that, if Israel is incapable of stopping them - suddenly, Israel can be wiped out in a day.

      At which point, reality comes crashing into the Tel Aviv bubble, a whole bunch of Israelis get an extra reminder of how dangerous it is, and many of the ones capable of migration to a safer country (whom Israel depends upon for its economy) get out. I know I probably would.

  • The Closing of the Zionist Mind
    • It is so weird dealing with people who are supposed to be critical thinkers by trade who, when it comes to Israel, suddenly exhibit all the originality of a mynah bird.

      It's definitely strange, although that's common when you deal with ardently religious people (and by "religious", I don't just mean in terms of believing in God, etc - I mean a way of thinking). They've got this enormous emotional investment in something, and that means that they'll just keep rationalizing and rationalizing anything that contradicts or comes against that.

      So Zionists (Israel nationalists) are increasingly suffering from Failing Nationalism Syndrome, and it is causing them to flail about saying the strangest things.

      It kind of reminds of the American South in the decade before the American Civil War. Even as support was building to undermine slavery, they just grew more and more shrill and hysterical about it.

      Glick let slip at the end what is really going on. She is a cultist, who sees the world as black and white, good and evil. She and her movement are pure good. Those who oppose anything it does, including Apartheid, are evil.

      Exactly. She's split the world into Supporters of Israel/Jews, and Enemies. Since you aren't uncritically pro-Israel, you must be an Enemy, and Enemies (and therefore anti-semitic in Glick's view).

      It's like that appalling Jennifer Rubin bit a long while back in Commentary (or was it National Review?), about how you either "support Israel or are enabling her enemies."

  • Turkey Forbids Israeli Military Overflights
    • And so Israel's stabbing-itself-in-the-foot process continues.

      What stinks is that this is probably going to just make them even more needy and dependent on the US to cover them and help prop up the remaining alliances they have in the region. It's like having some needy, constantly insecure girlfriend or child.

  • Turkey Shelves Israeli Cooperation,
    Considers breaking off Ties;
    Israel Lobbies in Congress denounce Ankara
    • Good lord, this irritates me. Israel can't even bring itself to apologize for killing 8 Turkish nationals? Never mind allowing another international inquiry (they're probably afraid of Goldstone Mk.II).

      And for the above, they're antagonizing a major ally. Unbelievable.

      Congress should be careful not to over-reach in this intervention against Turkey on behalf of the Israel lobbies.

      You can bet they probably will over-reach. Turkey is "just a country" to most of them, albeit a US ally. Whereas Israel (and its US lobbies) are ever-present voting, lobbying, and fund-raising threats.

      I'm half-shocked that Congress hasn't passed a 420+ vote resolution condemning Turkey for "persecuting" Israel or what not.

  • The Hypocrisy of Netanyahu
    • The Israelis have the same chance of ultimate success that the British and French empires had once local people began mobilizing socially and politically, which is to say, none. The French polished off several hundred thousand people during their futile resistance to Algerian independence,

      But therein lies your problem. French control of Algeria ended not with the FLN successfully breaking the back of french control, seeing as how the French government was able to brutally suppress the group. It ended when the French themselves were no longer willing to push for it, and allowed Algeria to have a referendum on independence.

      Do you see that happening with Israel any time soon? Support for the Gaza Blockade, and restrictions like the Wall in the West Bank, is high in Israel.

      Khaled Mashaal, Netanyahu’s intended murder victim, recently declared that if the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza ended, so would the resistance to it.

      Not exactly. They say things like "If you withdraw from the Occupied Territories and allow all of the descendants of the original 1948 refugees to immigrate to Israel proper, we'll strongly consider doing a ten-year truce afterwards." That is not helpful.

      Already, a plurality of Norwegians is eager to boycott Israeli products over what they see as Israel’s Apartheid policies toward the Palestinians.

      True, but Norwegians already had less positive views of Israel than much of western Europe due to that unpleasant fiasco of an assassination in Lillehammer.

  • Pakistan's Social Media Ban Endangers Economic Growth
    • The rallies were called for and planned by the fundamentalist Jama’at-i Islami and its student wing.

      I figured these guys would be protesting.

      The Pakistani Court's reaction to the "Draw Mohammed Day" has been totally moronic. The best way to make stunts like the above go away is to ignore them, but they've done the exact opposite, and practically guaranteed that there will be another such day in the future.

  • Top Ten Other Gratuitously Offensive Draw-a-Cartoon Days
  • Palestinians Observe Nakbah or Catastrophe Day, raise Hopes of Unity
    • so the the war in gaza and the deaths that it caused was not necessary.

      The problem, of course, was that Israel broke the ceasefire, and it returned to the usual pattern for a couple of months before the Gaza War. Perhaps they figured that getting a second truce without extensive military action against Hamas in Gaza was unlikely.

    • No matter how one spins it Israel’s politics in Palestine is wrong, and morally reprehensible. Those legal justifications and supposed loopholes convince no one but the perpetrators.

      The problem with that is that critics of Israel frequently raise the issue of "war crimes", either in reference to Israel's current actions or past ones. "War Crimes" has a specific set of legal definitions, and if an action doesn't meet that definition (or the state in question is not party to the agreement), then it's not technically a "war crime" regardless of how morally reprehensible it is.

    • Really? Which parts? I just read through both and found nothing touching on either of the points I criticized.

    • 1947-48 in Palestine was a civil war of sorts between the two major populations under British rule there. But most of the 700,000 Palestinians made homeless were not politicized nor were they fighters, and permanently depriving them of their property with no compensation is illegal (not to mention immoral).

      Under what law? I presume that when you say "illegal", you are referring to the Geneva Convention - but the Fourth Geneva Convention, which dealt with issues of protecting civilians and preventing population transfers, wasn't adopted until 1949 (and Israel was not party to its rules until 1951).

      And although a subcommittee of the UN had proposed a partition of Palestine, the UN Security Council never voted on the plan and it was openly rejected by the Palestinians and privately rejected by Zionist leaders like Ben Gurion (who wanted a ‘Greater Israel’ than was on offer from the UN).

      Of course. That's why the UN discussion on Partition is mostly interesting as a historical note, seeing as how Israel was truly created by a combination of facts on the ground established in conflict and widespread recognition in the international arena (although not including its neighbors).

      This blockade is a war crime since it targets civilians; indeed, half of Gazans are children, so it is depriving children of food, electricity and other needs.

      Under what law that Israel is bound to observe is the blockade illegal? If you are citing the Geneva Convention, then remember that Israel is only party to the 1949 Convention Treaty, and has not ratified Protocols I and II.

      Israeli actions were intended to dislodge Hamas from Gaza just as it had been overthrown in the West Bank, but the Israelis failed to achieve this goal.

      They did, however, manage to successfully reduce the frequency of Hamas attacks, just as the 2006 conflict greatly reduced the number of attacks coming from Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

      Unfortunately the Palestinian leadership, both of the PLO and Hamas, has not shown the moral character and fiber to resist this divide and rule strategy, and sometimes PLO and Hamas fighters have fought skirmishes with one another, which reminds one of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.

      This is why the Palestinians have repeatedly lost in the conflicts they've been involved in, from 1947 onwards. Even with the potential loss of much of what remains of Palestinian land in the West Bank to Israeli squatters and settlers, their leadership can't even come up with a lasting unified front to die under ever since Arafat died.

      Which makes me wonder why so many of us outsiders think they'll pose a threat to Israel as is, whether through violent or non-violent resistance. They're divided and mostly ineffective even with the latter, to a far greater degree than with more successful movements like the African National Congress in apartheid- and post-apartheid South Africa.

      Saturday’s rally was jointly sponsored by the PLO and Hamas, and raised hopes that the two would resume talks toward presenting a common front in proximity talks with the Israelis.

      Yes, they'll probably have talks to present a common front, and everybody will get their hopes up about it. Just like in 2009. And 2008. And 2007. There have been multiple attempts on the part of the two organizations to create a unified front, and they've all fallen to pieces (and since they've mostly annihilated each other's presence in their respective territories - the PLO in the West Bank, and Hamas in Gaza - it has become even harder).

      Another sign of new determination on the Palestinian side is an effective Palestinian boycott of the Israeli setter-industrial complex and its products.

      That's nice, but settlement goods sales to Palestinians are relatively minor in the economic scheme of things. I'd be much more inclined to see it as a strategy that could affect Israel if it was a boycott of all Israeli goods, but that will probably never happen unless they somehow manage to wean themselves off both that and employment in either Israel or Israeli businesses in the Occupied Territories.

  • US Troop Withdrawal in Iraq on Track
    • Professor Cole, you are absolutely correct that USA was never an empire like British, Spanish or French those plundered the resources of their colonies. British looted India so much & liked the word loot to the extent that they even took the word “Loot” with them and added it in the English vocabulary.

      I'd argue that. The US more or less ruled the Phillipines and Puerto Rico directly as a colonial power, and dominated Cuba and several other islands in the Caribbean that it took as spoils from the Spanish-American War imperial-style.

      As for the British, they both added to and detracted from India. Some of the things they did, like ending the wife-burning thing, building a major railroad system, and the civil bureaucracy, were highly beneficial after British Imperial rule ended.

      Though we advocate and beat drums of democracy, USA & our poodle Britain has overthrown democratically elected governments like in Iran, Chile & Guatemala to name a few.

      It's annoying, isn't it? The British used the whole "white man's burden" type of justification before the US, and the US uses the "promoting democracy" type. I've never liked either - I'd much prefer that we simply say what we're up to, and state the obvious in public: that our national interest is at the bottom line of our diplomacy and foreign policy.

      Think of how the Chinese make commercial and arms deals with several of the African countries - there's none of that annoying, cloying propaganda.

      As for Iran, the US-British effort was actually a failure - the Shah fled the country. * It was action by the Shah's supporters shortly thereafter that got him back in power (and the fact that Mossadegh had become increasingly authoritarian and unpopular), although the US recognized the regime after the Shah took his throne.

      * It's a fairly common misconception, mostly because Kermit Roosevelt's account of the whole thing has more or less become the "official" version of it, and he was a tireless, massive self-promoter.

      Again according to Stephen Kinzer, Middle East map & politics would have been looked much different if Dr. Mussaddiq’s democratically elected government would have not over thrown by CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt & British intelligent.

      I think you are vastly under-estimating the capabilities of the pro-monarchist forces in Iran at the time when the Shah was restored, seeing as how they were the ones that restored him to power after the US-British coup fell on its face.

      As for Mossadegh, he was a dead man regardless of the coup. If the monarchists hadn't toppled him, either the Tudeh (Communists) or the religious faction in Iran would have done so, seeing as how he'd become increasingly unpopular and weak near the end of his regime.

    • Popular mobilization in places like India raised the cost of empire, making it unpopular.

      That had more to do with the post-World War 2 economic realities than the issue of cost itself, since none of the late 19th century empires actually gave out more money that they swallowed up in costs, and before World War 2 they'd put down some serious and bloody revolts (the 1920s revolt in Iraq, and an earlier revolt in India).

      I agree that the idea that they'd lost the will to keep the empires is weak - both the UK and France, for example, made major efforts to hang on to their empires after World War 2. What really got them to stop, other than financial problems, was that both were in the circle of influence of the US, and the US (and particularly the Eisenhower Administration) were pushing them to give up their empires. *

      * It wasn't out of any real sympathy for local nationalist movements in the empires - the US government was worried that trying to hang on to their empires would bankrupt its western European allies, leaving them more vulnerable to communist infiltration.

    • Yeah, but those are the Marines - seizing coastal territory for amphibious landings is a major part (and one of the original reasons for) of their mission and existence.

      Ask the Army, which is much more dependent on bases for supply and logistics efforts, and you'd probably get a very different answer. Same with the Air Force.

    • Whether Iraq will remain in the US sphere of influence is not clear.

      They'll have to be if they want to keep access to supplies and parts for the equipment they're buying from us, like the planes mentioned for 2013. Otherwise, the US won't trust them not to sell the technology and equipment illicitly to Iran.

      Iraq is also clearly eager to develop strong ties with China, which will likely be a superpower by 2020. If the US is too overbearing, the Iraqis could migrate east in their political alliances.

      That's certainly a possibility, although the Chinese tend to be more concerned with commercial ties than strategic defense ones. They'll get investment in the oil fields, and maybe arms, but not security coverage.

      He was wrong, in this as in everything else, because empire was ended by popular mobilization in the global South, and mobilization is actually easier now than ever before. Empire dispenses with spheres of influence, because direct rule makes the latter (and the hard diplomatic work they entail) unnecessary.

      It was one of the factors, but just as important (if not more important) was pressure from the United States on Great Britain and France to back off from most of their empires, plus the general inability on the part of those states to really handle the perpetual money drain that their empires were, after said states were devastated in World War 2.

      Of course, that didn't stop the two biggest powers of the Cold War from doing the imperialism thing indirectly, via client states, funding, and even direct military support (the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe).

      In the absence of empire, the US can only hope to remain influential in the world by being a good and trusted friend to others and being seen to abide by and champion international law.

      The first part is correct, although I'd quibble on the definition of what a "good" friend entails. Not so much the second part.

  • Suspect Arrested in Times Square Bomb Plot; Afghan anger at NATO Grows
    • That's a strange looking map on the Youtube video. Considering the location of the "explosion" thingies, does that mean that Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, and northern Arkansas are gonna get it?

  • Massive Offshore Windfarms to Power Green Germany
    • When the wind is high, or domestic usage is low, the existing wind turbines can power all German households for a part of the day.

      Yes, when the wind is high. Those are the key words, and also the major problem with wind power - it's intermittent, and even less reliable than solar power in its intermittency. During the "low wind" periods, they'll presumably be burning imported Russian natural gas, or buying electricity from the heavily nuclear French.

      Even the conservatives in Germany are against building any new nuclear power plants and don’t see nuclear as significant to their future.

      Which is a terrible policy that will help them steal the dubious title of Europe's largest energy importer from Italy.

  • Obama hints that Two-State Solution may be Impossible
    • a treaty that King Abdullah II says he is beginning to regret.

      I'm not sure what else he could have done. The Israelis would just be doing the same thing they are doing now, and Jordan really, really needed to get back into the graces of the US back then (they picked the losing side of the First Gulf War).

      One problem Obama faces is that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a coordinating body for the Israel lobbies, has successfully mobilized both houses of Congress against him with regard to putting further pressure on far rightwing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to stop building settlements. Congress decides on how much money to give Israel annually, and how many weapons to sell it. Obama cannot effectively threaten Netanyahu with a reduction in the billions of dollars a year in aid, trade privileges, loan guarantees, and military equipment sent to Israel by the US. Those goods are in the gift of Congress, and Congress typically yields to AIPAC and its colleagues.

      Obama could threaten to veto this and force them to pass it over his head (unfortunately, the support might be broad enough to do this), but that would be political capital burned that he presumably wants to save for domestic political issues (not to mention that it is an election year in Congress).

  • Englehardt On Bombing People from the Air
    • Alas, it isn’t American, it is just industrialized warfare.

      The trend towards greater distance in warfare has been on-going since the 16th and 17th centuries, which is why I always found it bizarre when people complain about it.

      Moreover, even "precision weaponry" isn't 100% precise. It's much, much more precise than what came before though - just look at the number of sorties and bombs it took in Vietnam to destroy targets, compared to those in the First Gulf War.

  • Turkey, Brazil Come out against new Iran sanctions at Security Summit
    • But apparently that would be too big a carrot for Washington to offer.

      Nobody knows exactly what such a "carrot" would be. Full diplomatic recognition and an end to the US sanctions (both of which I'm in favor of)? Money? It's tricky to do this, particularly since the "cleric"-side of the government benefits from US pressure in terms of politics.

      It's a side-comment, but I love the format of this site now. It's been a while since I've been here, but the old format was a major turn-off to reading it.

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