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Total number of comments: 10 (since 2013-11-28 16:32:50)


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  • Egypt's Waco
    • The numbers cited point to society wide feelings of betrayal by the Brotherhood. Trust was given through their legitimate election, but then instead of addressing and adapting to Egypts continuing economic problems Morsi miscalculated that Egyptians would allow him to act like yet another junta dictator by suppressing free speech and peaceful assembly. Once the trust was lost, so began disproportionate anger and pre-emptive violence that we've seen the past few months and especially this week. It's not right, but it's what happens when the losing side didn't have humility upon being elected to begin with and still don't have it in their overthrow.

      But the military needs to keep its disproportionate responses properly targeted, or again widespread trust may be lost in the military and that would be hugely destabilizing for Egypt. The polling data implies they haven't yet crossed that line, but I think it's a fine line in the imaginations of Egyptians right now, sensitive to being betrayed by those who have power.

  • Under Punitive Israeli Blockade, Gaza Unemployment among Worst in World: UN
    • I think it's well overdue for a case being made that Israel should be subject to trade sanctions, until it gets its domestic issues in order. Zionism itself isn't immoral, but nor is it moral. It immediately becomes immoral as it requires the self-dispossession, expulsion, or ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population. While South African apartheid was by no means "kind" to South Africa's blacks, because blacks were an integral part of the labor economy, they were better taken care of than Israel treats their natives - which is pretty much like the boogers they can't flick off. They don't want to have anything to do with Palestinians, including complete denial of any responsibility for them no matter the circumstance.

  • Japan Nuclear Threat, Libya Oil Crisis, Highlight Need for Renewable Energy
    • It's funny how free-market Republicans support nuclear power, when it requires such significant government intervention to provide for the raw material, and effectively insure such an undertaking. No private insurance company would, or could, fully insure such a project from liability. Imagine a private insurer needing to evacuate 100,000 people from their homes, let alone a million or more. Talk about a severe market distortion. There would be no such thing as private/corporate nuclear power without massive government involvement. The only way nuclear power happens is through corporatism, where businesses get the government to con the public into supporting what is clearly not in their vested self-interest.

  • Repression Fails as Thousands Demand Mubarak Departure
    • The protesters set a deadline, but there are no consequences. This is at least the 3rd F.U. that Mubarak has sent to the people. This is like a Chilean/Peruvian junta merely changing heads on the snake. The likelihood this goes democratic from 30 years of autocracy is low (statistically). Most likely is it remains autocracy with a temporary new leader, while the chief intelligence spook (the VP) acts like a new leader, and really is rounding up protesters, having them interrogated, tortured to give up their friends, and then disappearing them.

      There's no way this apparatus is going to just disempower itself. It could go to oligarchy, but that still would be a group of people who will want to disappear their enemies over the next six months. There's a reason why the U.S. sends its enemies for questioning, who they don't want back, to Egypt rather than Syria or Jordan.

      It all comes down to legitimacy. The protesters and the people, if they aren't going to go down the road of violent revolution, will have to stick it out for the long haul and refuse the premise that a government run by even the VP is legitimate, let alone this ridiculous idea reported in the NYTimes:

      “None of this can happen if Mubarak is at the center of the process,” said one senior administration official. “But it doesn’t necessarily require the president to leave office right now.”

      I'd like to hear from Professor Cole on the importance of this Egyptian cultural need for saving face and going out gracefully. I keep reading about it, as though maybe the Egyptian people are inclined to give him an opportunity to "save face" by sticking around in an purely figurehead role. Is this true? Or are they really fed up with him at this point? Or is that the question we don't know the answer to yet?

    • link to

      Article 82 says the VP takes over temporarily and only in the event the president is unable to carry out his duties. It is delegation of authority.

      Article 84 says the president of the assembly fills in any presidential vacancy. This leaves out Suleiman, if the constitution is followed. So if Suleiman is claimed (by the U.S., by himself, by Mubarak, etc) to be the next guy, that in my view, is retention of the autocracy, and not a good sign for constitutional authority or democracy.

    • I agree. I think if it doesn't go to an outsider like ElBaradei, which there's no real mechanism to do so that's an issue, then to have legitimacy, power needs to go to the Speaker, which is what is prescribed in the constitution. The emergency law needs to be suspended and follow the constitution. Seems like the position of VP is pointless?

  • Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu
    • OK well this is stupid because you first ask questions about not even knowing about a 1967 oil embargo, and a link is provided about it, and now you just quote from it. And then you ignore Jewish campaigns to export Arabs prior to 1948, and then Israeli campaigns to take even more land from occupied territories in conflict with both the UN Charter and Geneva Conventions explicitly making it illegal. And then propose a majority of Arabs "left" what became Israel voluntarily: majority and voluntarily both being false, and irrelevant if they want to return to their homes, they do have that right and that is Israel's responsibility.

      So I think your posts amount to trolling. If it's not, and you want a source other than Juan Cole, try Norman Finkelstein's book Image & Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict. And if you want something free as well as a more general background in middle east history and the U.S. role in it, including how this affected events between Israelis and Palestinians, "Ancient History": U.S. Conduct in the Middle East Since World War II and the Folly of Intervention by Sheldon L. Richman.
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    • phud1:
      These things are very easy to research, I don't understand why you would ask in this particular venue such admittedly basic facts.

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      Suggesting "arab" countries are obligated to accept non-national refugees does not compute. It's like suggesting France would be obligated to accept Spanish refugees (if there were any). That Palestinians were stateless does not grant any right of expulsion. There are very basic things that we were supposed to have learned from Nuremberg. It is unethical and illegal to use exportation of people to solve problems. While criticism of neighboring countries' specific policies toward Palestinian refugees may be valid, does not grant license or excuse Israel from exporting people from their homes or refusing them a right of return. I leave my house from time to time and do not expect to find people in it when I decide to return.

    • OK so why do we do this? I know this defies any one particular explanation, because it's a complex set of scenarios. But I would like Juan's opinion on say a top five for why American foreign policy appears to be so contrary to a thinking American's interest? He makes that case that our behavior is hideously unethical and it makes us unsafe. So why do we do it?

      My partial list:

      1. Stability. Real or imagined, the American political apparatus which extends throughout both parties, perceives that without autocrats in the middle east, those countries would be more unstable. I include in this the threat of communism previously, and now reactionary Islam. We seem to overstate the problem, overreact, and then totally miss the real aspects of the problem. It's like we don't even understand it.

      2. Corporatism: Markets like stability, predictability. And a certain portion of that market is the military industrial complex and they are selling lots of materials to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and other autocratic countries in the middle east. So in other words, it's good for business. And both parties have largely sold out to business.

      3. Israel: There's a long standing relationship between the U.S. and Israel: the conflation between criticism of Israel and anti-semitism has conditioned most American politicians and its citizens to consider non-support of Israel basically racist; America and Israel share a similarity in the manifest destiny delusion: this notion that America and Israel are civilized and the "others" are barbarians or nomads, civilized people take care of the land and therefore lay claim to it, that a deity favors us and not the others, etc.

  • Mubarak's Basij
    • If the protesters back down, and if the government and army are as duplicitous as it's starting to sound, there will be reprisals in the coming weeks and months. The government will disappear all of the top people who tried to topple the government, to pave the way for the chief former military spook to take over the country and maintain the dictatorship.

      I'm hard pressed to think of an example where there was a successful revolution without the support of a country's military against an autocrat. If the military leadership, other than Mubarak and friends, really see the military as the best solution for leading Egypt, then they have no incentive to relinquish control to a civilian government. The protesters need to get the army on their side or this has no chance and the autocracy is preserved.

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