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Total number of comments: 45 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:09)


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  • Downgraded US Credit Rating: What comes of Coddling the Super-Rich
    • ...The US doesn't have a debt crisis...
      ... Yes inflation means the creditors get paid back with money that has less value than what they loaned ...

      Just wait for some more months. The US debts is largely in foreign hands. Do you believe that they are soil ing to pay for US overspending and for illegal costly wars ? The Chinese are owning 60% of the US debts, add the rest of Asia (Japan, Korea, etc..) plus the petro monarchies and I bet that about 80% of the US debts are owned oversea. The only reason why the US has low interests rate is because the dollar is a reference money. However, it will soon be loosing that status. There are ongoing discussion at the IMF in order to establish a new reference for international transaction. It won't be a single currency any more, but a choice of 5-6 strong currencies. The dollar will be one of them, but njotthe only one. Printing more dollar and let it go down to unheard lows is only hastening the process. Once the dollar is evaluated like any other money and once all the defavorable elements are taken in account, you can bet that the interest rates will get higher and here you'll have your debts crisis.
      Keyneysianism is a good thing in hard times : the state spends more money, giving work to jobless people and contracts to other wise failing companies, this increases consumption and economical growth.
      The problem with the US are twofolds :
      1) Military Keyneysianism : you made debts to finance illegal and unfair wars, which did'nt increase the buying power of the masses, only the profits of the military-industrial complex, which doesn't increase internal consumption that much.
      2) You didn't reimburse part of the debts when the economy was blooming. Instead, you allowed taxes cuts on the riches. Now of course, when more Keyneysianism is needed, you won't be able to get it, or only at higher rates.
      The US is living on the back of the rest of the world. I feel for those with lower income, who will have to pay for the riches and powerful corporations, who are also cashing on their backs.

      I think that the collapsing of the communism was a very bad thing for the lower classes : since the upper classes don't fear it anymore, we have been slipping back to wild capitalism : that is what the Gini coefficients of prof. Cole are showing. European social democracies which were long seen as a wall against communism are taken down piece by piece, like the few social measures taken by the Dems in the US.

      Capitalism may collapse, just like the former USSR, but I don't know what will come then; I don't see many reasons to be optimistic, given the political situation of the left parties.

    • The dollar has long been seen as a reference money. International transactions were made in dollars, because it was considered a stable money. This has long allowed the US to get very low interest rates, lower interest rates than countries having a similar situation with respect of the ratio debt/GDP. When you consider this ratio + the economical growth, the US is not in a much better situation than Greece or Portugal, yet those have to cash for two digits interest rates.
      S$P and other Us notation agencies have used double standards in their notations, but this is coming to an end. The Chinese Dagon agency has lowered its US note one semester ago. They are are gaining more and more credit and had very harsh words against the US yesterday, stating that the US should stop living on a higher standard than its means and let the rest of the world cashing for it.

  • Dear Foreigner-Haters: Immigration is Good for You
    • Do you really trust this source concerning jobless workers in Germany ?
      From the govermental statistcal agency, they reached a mean of 8.1% in 2009 and came down to 6.1% last month.
      I've not been able to find figures for the Turks, but I'd be really surprised if the Germans were discriminated against the Turks in their own country. That doesn't make sense. However, considering global data for Germany may give a false image. Indeed, the länder of former East Germany knows a much higher rate of jobless workers (maximum over 18% in the worst case in 2009). In the mean time strangers and Turks are mostly located in West part of Germany. So Turks may well be discriminated in the länder where they live, while at the same time, the global results mostly influenced by the situation in the East won't show it.

  • O'Reilly's Muslim-Hatred and Christian Terrorists
    • That he is a major voice on American television tells you how weird the media environment is in the US.
      Here we hear a more subtle discourse : that he was a deranged mind and that like all those type of killers would look for any rationalisation to wrap up his bad instincts into something more palatable to his eyes, that this kind of persons can take left wing, right wing or even environmental pretexts, whichever doesn't matter, but it has nothing to do with the ideology they support, but with their madness.
      You have eminent psychiatric experts telling so in the more serious papers.
      I think that it is an easy way to discount the nastiness of those right wing ideologies.

  • White Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism in Norway
    • Those groups are nomore active since tens of years. Plus they never targeted a crowd indiscriminately. It was later discovered that the bombing of Bologna which was falsely attributed to the Brigate Rosse, was in fact set up by the far right in order to accuse the left.

    • While pacifism is an important value of the left.

    • You are only partly right, when it comes to the past.
      But nowadays, the far right is much more dangerous than the left fringe which won't target crowds indiscriminately. Left fringe and environmental activists have targeted buildings or other material goods at the utmost, aka physical symbols of the powers they are fighting against.
      Meanwhile, the far right has targeted immigrants and refugees centers and innocent crowds.
      Also, you can't compare dictators inebriated by their power with the actual left in the EU, even with the more radicals. And you can't ignore the fact that the glorification of force is more intimately connected with the right wing ideology, while

  • Japan Nuclear Threat, Libya Oil Crisis, Highlight Need for Renewable Energy
    • I wonder if Russia doesn’t play a hand in Germany’s anti-nuclear stance, when Chancellor Schroeder lost office, he got a nice new job – at Gazprom, the Russian state owned oil and gas conglomerate !

      This is ridiculous. The Anti-nuclear movement has absolutely nothing to do with Russia ! They are part of the Green movement, the ecologists, aka those who advocates for renewable energy (solar, hydrolics, winds etc..) and for drastic diminution of the use of energy. They are no friends for the gaz and oil producers either. Further, the Green movement sometimes made alliance with Social Democrates, but for the most part they are not fervent supporters of social democrat politician of the kind of Schroeder. For your own information, Oskar Fischer, the Green foreign minister who opposed the invasion of Iraq didn't stay very long in power, he resigned, not the least due to disagreement with the Social Democrates.

  • More on Arab League Call for a Libya No-Fly Zone
    • Pepe Escobar, at Asian Times Online doesn't think that there is any chance to implement a no fly zone supported by the UNSC. He thinks the BRICS countries will oppose that move, along with China and Russia; he seems to think that without the UN agreement the US won't engage in what could lead to another war.

      link to

      I agree with him. I think that the US and its Western allies will support the opposition, aka arm it and perhaps train it. This is no good news : if China does the same for the Khadafi supporters, it could easily degenerate in the first indirect war between the US and China for the control of oil ressources.
      The only way to avoid such a drama is a strict embargo on arms for both sides and a total embargo on the Khadafi stronghold.

      Concerning Syria and Algeria, our TV news channels said that they didn't support the call of the Arab League; it was not clear whether they opposed or just abstained.

  • Egypt's Unfinished Revolution: PM Shafiq Ousted
    • Of all the protest movements in the Middle East this year, only those of Tunisia and Egypt have effected a change in the character of the political elite and set the nation on a road to open parliamentary elections. Jordanians who want a constitutional monarchy have seen few changes, though they did force the sacking of a hated prime minister.

      I think that both Tunisia and Egypt are on good tracks, however it is way too early to tell whether the protesters will get what they want, or whether their movement won't be confiscated by a new strong man (this is why I don't call it yet a revolution, since the older power structure and the army are still there). I think that given the importance of Egypt for the US geostrategy in ME, they are the more at risk. Also if the movement is aspiring to social justice, then they won't find that in the kind of neoliberalism the US and Western EU countries will be advocating. So you can be sure that they will be submitted to strong pressures coming from these sides.

  • Top Pieces of Unfinished Business in the Mideast
    • vashti

      That is your third comment concerning Iran, but not having any link with Juan Coles' entry. You should start your own blog if you want to comment on the situation in Iran, not hijack someone's else blog.

  • Iraq Roiled by Protests, 2 Killed in Sulaimaniya
    • But if such things as severe internal divisions to the point of it being all but impossible to form a government render a country non-democracit, then the Netherlands must not be a democracy (as it just replaced Iraq as the country to go the longest with no government today).

      First there is a very good probability that if things lasted so long in Iraq before they got a government it was due to US pressions, their ambassy pushing for another outcome (one that wouldn't be so favorable to Iran); this probably encouraged Allawi to hopelessly try to form the next government.

      Second, you are mistaken : the EU country without government (and I think that they are beating Iraq at that) is not Netherland, but Belgium.

  • Bahrain: US Naval Base or Iranian Asset?
  • Communique No. 5 Suspends Constitution, Prorogues Parliament
    • Well, on the other side, for a people it is difficult to make a revolution (a profound change of regime) without having the army on its side. The crucial question is who among the army takes the power : is it the soldiers and middle rank officers siding with the people ? or is it the top chain of command ? From what I understand in Egypt it is rather the top chain of command who took power (aka more of a military coup pitting some army corps against the others (Aviation and intelligence against the others) fighting for the succession of Mubarak Mubarak tried to push for Soleiman, but instead, Annan and Tawiri won, with the US trying to pull ropes in the background. See what Pepe Escobar is writing for Asia Times Online : link to

      On the other side, the popular movement/uprising is very strong and tenacious, but very inorganized.

      Bush would probably have pushed for a brutal Soleiman solution, but Barack Obamma seems to try a more "democratic" way (it seems that Annan and Tawiri have had direct talks with Washington).

      The first announces of the army look good : dissolution of the fraudulently elected parliament and abrogation of the constitution, but still there are many questions open : for instance who will elaborate the new constitution to be submitted to the people by referendum ?

      I hope that things will turn out like the carnation revolution in 1974 in Portugal, but there are three main differences between the Portugese situation and what is occurring in Egypt :
      a) The military in charge are top rank generals, not middle ranks officers fraternizing with the people.
      b)The interim authority is not a revolutionary comitee composed of both middle rank officers and leaders of the popular movement.
      c) Egypt is a client state of the US receiving billions from the US both for the army and for the economy. This will seriously hamper the freedom of action of any new goverment.

      I hold my thumbs for the Egyptian people, but I fear that the changes granted will not but up to the high hopes awakened by this movement. We will have to wait a year or so in order to know for sure whether what we saw was only a military coup using a popular uprising to its own benefits, or whether it was really the beginning of a revolution.

  • Egyptian Crowds Reject Mubarak Speech, Pledge Massive Friday Protests
    • Gilbert Achcar has a very good analysis of the different opposition forces present in Egypt at Zcom; it is the first time I've seen an indepth analysis of who is following El'Baradei and why and what are the other movements (kefaya and 6th of Aprile) (on the Muslim brotherhood, he say more or less the same as Juan Cole) :

      link to

      Achkar is also comparing the situation in Egypt to that in Iran (Moussavi) and in Turkey. Really a great analysis.
      He doesn't seem to have any confidence in the army however, increasing the fears I already had.

      After reading his essay, I've come in conclusion that we are actually seeing two things in Egypt :

      1) A popular uprising coming out of rage against both social conditions and the lack of freedom (which is well described by Achcar)

      2) A fight for power and for the succession of Mubarak at the head of the state and the military. It would help to have a description of the individuals and clans concerned by that power fight. One thing is clear : Mubarak's son is out. Is Soleiman his potential successor ? isn't he too old ? what kind of following does he have ? Is there a young guard in the army which may nevertheless side with the uprising ?

      3) What about the Americans ? who will they support ? Personnally I think that they didn't put all their eggs in the same basket : they are slowly abandonning Mubarak and they would probably prefer an "ordently" transition. Right now they are observing and they will support the winners and put pressure on them later (through their aid money, whether for the military or for the civil society).

      If I was an Egyptian, I'd find that their arrogance (in telling the Egyptians what to do) is humiliating.

  • Mubarak's Basij
  • Saad's Revolution: Cole at Truthdig
    • I think that you are making a common error : you are thinking of islamist parties as a single radical block. They are not. There are many tendencies among them, even among the Muslim Brotherhood itself. Also think to the Turcs and Erdogan : his party is a Muslim party, but is it radical ?

      Further, neither Egypt, nor Tunisia are Shiites, so they don't have the same conception of the relationship of religion and state.

      The Egyptian and the Tunisians will have to sort out what they want by themselves. And given the fact that dictators were supported by the US, chances are that the new governments won't be as pro-Americans as the dictators.

  • Juan Cole: Tunisia Uprising "Spearheaded by Labor Movements, by Internet Activists, by Rural Workers; It’s a Populist Revolution" (Democracy Now!)
    • I think that there is another important element at work in the Tunisian revolution : demography. Usually revolution are lead by young men, especially if they see their future as blocked (be it because the economic situation prevents them of finding employement or because an older reactionnary elite is seen as blocking their future).

      And most of the North African countries are in that situation. I've checked the demographic data published by the UN and they are eloquent. In some situation the data are rather old alas, probably still collected during the last census around 2000. Here is what I've found concerning these countries :

      Percentage of young men aged 15-29 years in the total male population (year) :

      USA : 20.97% (2005)
      Tunisia : 28.93% (1998 too bad there is nothing more recent)
      Algeria : 32.21% (2003)
      Morocco : 28.9% (2004)
      Egypt : 27l56% (2000)
      Iraq : 27.95% (2006)
      Iran : 31.81% (2005)
      Switzerland : 18.4% (2009)

      I'm not a determinist and don't think that the mere fact that there are a lot of hopeless young men would inevitably result in a revolution. However I think that the demographic conditions existing in North Africa added to more or less dire economic situation are creating the favorable conditions for a revolution.

      Hopefully nobody will steal the Tunisian revolution from the people who did it !

      Here is a rap

  • Another US Quagmire? Lebanon Government Falls
    • March 8 members of parliament are saying that they now have a majority in parliament (66), though it is unclear where the new 9 seats came from (or even whether the allegation is even true). Presumably it is being alleged that some deputies are defecting from March 14 to March 8. If the allegation is true, President Sulaiman may ask a March 8 leader to attempt to form a new government.

      The Druzes and Walid Joumblatt with his Progressive Socialist Party ?

  • Arabs Urged US to Launch Attack on Iran, but Talk is Cheap: Cole in the Guardian
    • I'd be very cautious with any interpretation of these leaks, they need to be replaced in their context :

      a) One Arab leader was speaking to a US diplomate. He may have tried to tell him what the US wanted to hear, just to pleases him.
      b) These words, whatever they were, were translated by a US diplomate. He may also have written what he thought his bosses wanted to hear... or he may have interpreted things : giving them more importance, or more emphases than they had.

      All these leaks should be analysed carefully and in their context in order to be interpreted correctly. The main important thing is decoding what was only said to please the interlocutors (and there are at least two of them involved) and what was a genuine request.

  • Iraqi Military Acts Swiftly to Avert Minibus Bombing at Rusafa HQ
    • Sorry I mistyped this sentence
      What the US authorities do have so much impact on the rest of the world, that they should be elected by all the world’s citizen ;-)
      I should have written :
      What the US authorities do has so much impact on the rest of the world, that they should be elected by all the world's citizen.

    • Well, I got that 50'000 figure concerning the number of troops remaining in Iraq and labelled "non combat troops" by reading your blog. But I shouldn't have worded that part of my comment more carefully when I wrote that Obama "had stated clearly" that he would "keep" them in Iraq, you are right, because a) The US will probably try to blurr the lines concerning how many troops are left in Iraq and b) Sure Obama doesn't want to keep there more troops than is estimated necessary to control Iraq.

      Now, concerning the superpower issue : I have nothing against superpowers in se. I live in a very small country, a lilliput power on the world stage, we have four, way more powerfull, neighbours so I know by experience that it is possible to survive in the shadow of other more powerfull nations.

      The real issue is how a superpower behaves. The other day you described how angry you were against Karzay's corruption. This spokes to me, because I'm angry too. I'm angry since the wakes of the US invasion of Iraq.

      My first university education was as a historian too (particularly the history of the XXth Century, the workers' movements, socialism, communism, fascism etc. ). Back in 2003 I had the habit to use radio news to wake up instead of the aggressive sound of a wake-up clock. I remember hearing about the US accusations concerning Saddam's WMD in that semi-conscious state before wake-up, particularly the story of the steel cylinders delivered to Iraq and then the story of the errant biological lab van, etc. I was shocked, because it was branded as prooves while it could be anything in the world as well; it sounded so much like unfounded accusations, like pure propaganda, like the kind of things a military power would say in order to prepare opinion to war.

      But, on the other side, it sounded so out of order to prepare a pure war of aggression : WWII and Vietnam were over since a long time. Most of the remaining wars of the last decennies of the XXth century had been guerrilla wars lead by liberation movements, where the superpowers only fighted behind the scene - when they were involved at all. Or they were started by others, like in Yougoslavia, where the US came to protect the weaker side (or at least that could be seen that way quite reasonnably). So I couldn't really believe that the US was preparing a blunt invasion of Iraq, although all the signs were there, I couldn't believe it. Yet, alas it became more and more probable as the days passed and eventually succeeded, inspite of what the UN inspectors always stated and inspite the couragous opposition of France and Germany.

      Since then, I'm angry against what the US did to Iraq and against the fact that there is no court that will be able to put Bush/Rumsfeld and co to trial for what they did. Against the fact that in the end, the US will benefit of their misdeeds. This leaves me with a deep feeling of injustice, but what can I do about it ? apart of venting it here or there on the net. What the US authorities do have so much impact on the rest of the world, that they should be elected by all the world's citizen ;-)

      Many things which you wish for your country, I want too for every country in the world : a more ecological behaviour, less oil dependency, more social justice, less military spending, more education and social spending etc. If I was a US citizen and given the choice offered to the electors, I'd have supported Obama, like you, because he will always be better than any Republican and it is important to stop the conservative right, to put rules and limits on the wild capitalism the right is defending.

      Concerning other superpowers, well for the moment they behave better than the US toward the rest of the world, although I wish that the Chinese would treat their workers better and allow intellectuals more freedom. Are all superpowers condemned to abuse of their power ? Is "softpower" (money power, persuasion or ideological power) any better ? I prefer to leave that open and keep some hope.

    • Thank you professor ! Contrasting what the arab media report with what the US news papers writes is indeed very interesting and shows very well how it is always important to confront different sources. In that, we see clearly how an historian is usefull not only in his University but also more widely to the entire civil society.
      However when you writes that :
      The other significance of the incident for American news outlets seems to be that it falsifies the Obama administration’s stand that the US has withdrawn combat troops from Iraq. But that some US soldiers were at the Rusafa HQ who had some sniping skills and were invited to use them by Iraqi officers doesn’t actually contradict Obama’s announcement that military units designated as combat units are now out of Iraq.

      Of course, US troops in Iraq will go on fighting when attacked or when their skills are called on by Iraqi officers as long as they are in that country, i.e. for 18 more months. But I think it is clear that President Obama really is committed to withdrawing militarily from Iraq.

      I think that you are deluding yourself. I can understand why : the US is very near of the second term elections, which won't be easy for the Democrates and we all know that even if Obama is not doing what we would like, especially in terms of foreign policy, he is still way better than any other Republican president would be.

      Nevertheless, stating that Obama is committed to withdrawing militarily from Iraq while he has clearly said that he will keep 50'000 troops there doesn't correspond to the facts on the ground. What he has in mind is a partial withdrawal, not a complete one and I don't think that Obama or any other US president will achieve that without being forced out. As long as so many troops stay in Iraq, they will fight "to defend themselves and when called by the Iraqi" and this is the very proof that the withdrawal is only very partial and it has more to do with the redeployement of the US military forces than with the complete withdrawal of Iraq.

  • Collapse of Kabul Bank Points to Fatal Corruption of Karzai Government
    • The Karzai government is corrupt and rotten to the core.
      That is not a unique situation. It is the fall of all government supported by foreigners.
      Do you really think it is possible to find honnest local politicians willing to cooperate with occupiers ?

      Not a single US soldier should die to prop it up.
      No single US soldiers should be abroad, but dying US soldiers is your reward for trying to gain influence in countries where you should not have put one foot.

      The lie that we are fighting “al-Qaeda” in Afghanistan needs to be exposed. The US and NATO are fighting four or five groups of Pashtun insurgents, some of them until fairly recently US allies. The goal of the fighting is to keep the Karzai government from falling to the guerrillas and to train up an army and police force that could go on defending Kabul.

      Is there any other real alternative which wouldn't have involved corruption ? If you want to project your power outside of the US, you have to 1) Exercise military power and loose soldiers and 2) Use the power of money in order to get seemingly elected politicians to act in your best interests, instead of in the interest of their people.

      NATO should not have allowed Karzai to steal the presidential election. (At least now we have more of an idea how the theft was accomplished). It should not have allowed him to block corruption investigations.

      Do you really thing that there is another alternative not involving corruption ? I don't think so. After some years the other one would become just as corrupt, or he would cease to please the US and get thrown out. By nature a government governing under an occupier and put in place by a foreign country can only end in corruption. I don't believe in a goodwilling empire.

  • Bolton was Contradicted by Bush on Iran's Bushehr Reactor
    • Russian leaders think first about what’s good for Russia. American leaders instead think first about what’s good for Israel, which is a sign of continued American decay.

      Frankly, I don't think that this is true. For instance the US didn't invade Iraq in order to defend Israel. The Bush government invaded Iraq for a good geostrategical reason : the US wants to control energy ressources present in the Middle East. Getting the propaganda right for all kinds of opinion groups was a prerequisite. So the argument of the need to defend Israel was there to convince the Israel supporters. The insistence on Saddam's authoritarianism and dictotorship was there to convince liberal and democrats. The constant remembering of the situation of women in Iran is there once more to convince liberals and feminists that Iran is part of the evil axe. The argument of terrorism (cf the supposed links between Saddam and Al quaida) was there to convince all frightfull middle classes and labour classes. The argument that Iraqi oil would pay for the cost of the war was there for the rightwing welloff people fearing more taxes. etc. etc. But in the end, invading Iraq was in the interest of the energy greedy US and of the huge oil companies, in the interest of the militaro-industrial complexe. Different actors were pursuiing different goals. The ones who wanted it most were able to find convincing arguments in order to gain the support of the others too. The same thing seems to be happening there a second time with Iran.

      It may be good for the US Americans' ego, to think that they are manipulated by a small lobby, that they are not the guilty ones, the ones wanting to crush ME states out of greed for their oil, for the sake of their corporates' benefits and because of they are enebriated by their position of first world power; nevertheless it isn't the true, or rather it is only a part of the truth.

      After WWII, the Germans had to wear that huge guilt for what they had done to other people and other countries, I hope that the realisation of their guilt will come upon the Americans of the US and that they will once realize what they are doing.

      Any way, a great thank to Professor Cole for deconstructing those false arguments.

  • Kurdish General Again Insubordinate, Angles for US to Remain in Iraq
    • Glen,

      I agree with you, but then who is preventing the much needed reform of the UNSC ? Mainly the US, plus the lackeys she is able to convince.

    • (Iraq is one of the UN’s great failures, where it is responsible for killing large numbers of civilians with its regime sanctions, and of destroying a promising developing economy, and of failing to prevent an illegal and aggressive war on the country by GW Bush)

      This is certainly not the fault of the UN, but rather of the US who blocked any attempt to put an end to the UN sanctions against Iraq. The weakening of Iraq all along has been the US agenda, untill the point the country was judged so weak that using a false pretext the US invaded it. The same is going on with Iran these days.

  • Taliban influence Spreading in Afghanistan
    • You are offering many quotes, but why do you take Pakistan as if it was a unified actor ? There are many Pakistani, many different political parties and different regions ans tribes/people. I'm not going to whitewash Obama for escalating troups and war in Afghanistan, but simplifying things like that is a disservice to any objective analysis.

    • Good questions, I agree with that : one shouldn't quote any data without giving its source and US army data can't be trusted.

  • Cameron Calls Gaza under Israel Blockade a 'Prison Camp'
    • Where did you see anything new in the way the Obama and the US are talking to Israel ? Obama didn't even support the request of an international inquiry in the Gaza flottilla drama.

    • Integrating Turkey in the EU is something which has been pushed by the US, but not really something which makes sense for the EU. The US is constantly pushing to widen the EU; the American Enterprise made it clear why : the US prefers a weak and heterogeneous UE, which has difficulties speaking of one voice, rather than a strong unified alliance. This is the reason why the US pushed for a fast integration of the former east countries and why she is pushing for the inclusion of Turkey.

      UK has always wanted a weaker union and has always been a lackey of the US. No surprise to hear that kind of talks again. The US encouraging rift between UK and the two leading EU countries (France and Germany), or between old EU and new EU is nothing new, but she should rather mind her business and let Europeans decide what they want. Same for the rest of the world btw.

      Also, whatever Gates said concerning Turkey turning toward East, there are many other reasons why Turkey is also looking East, not only the reluctance of EU members to accept Turkey in the UE. Turkey is a turning point between Asia and Europe. The Erdogan foreign policy is based on that geostrategical reality and very well thought, whether it pleases the Americans or not. They don't need to be included in the EU to play that role. They may even play that role better if they are not part of the UE. Further, the unconditional US support of Israel which came out strickingly clear during the Gaza flotilla events does nothing to encourage Turkey to look West. Turkey rightly expects a more balanced US policy in the ME. Cameron or the US putting the blame on the UE doesn't change anything to this fact.

      Moreover, Cameron wants to see Turkish relations with Israel return to normal and may be attempting to pave the way by saving Turkish face in this way

      ?? I don't understand this part ?? The only way to encourage a normalization of the Turkish/Israelian relationships is to pressure Israel for some excuses, whatever form they take. What would be more interesting to know is whether behind the scene Cameron tried to work for some issue to the Turkish/Israelian crisis : for instance Israel is ready to say such and such ... would that be enough for you not to loose face, or what more would you want.. Cameron criticising the Israelian blocade may improve UK/Turkish relationships, but I don't see how that alone could improve the relationships between Turkey and Israel.

  • Was Amiri a Double Agent who Hyped Iran's Nukes?
    • Great post, I agree with all you say and remember very well how things went with Iraq WMD. What frighten me is that at the time, the European medias were much more critical toward the US propaganda. Now, with Obama which is far more palatable than Bush and with the right wing government of Sarkosy and Merkel going along with the US, we are hearing the same uncritical reports here as in the US media.

      I think that Obama is continuing the same foreign policy as Bush, that he too wants "a New Middle East" and that Iran is next on the list. People often accuses the Israelian lobby for the hawking attitude of the US in ME. Personnally I think that the true reason is the geostrategical importance of this oil rich ressource region. With peakoil nearing and the growing needs of oil by huge and fast developping countries like China and India, the US wants to make sure that it can keep its easy access to oil unhindered.
      If even Obama stands behind the worst misdeeds of Israel against thePalestinians, it is not because of the powerfull lobby of Israel, it is because Israel is the only place where they have secure ally they have in ME. The only place where they can be sure to have access.

  • 6 US Troops Killed in Afghanistan;
    Mazar Demonstration says 'Yankee Go Home'
    • Leaving money for reparations is the least the Americans can do both in Iraq and Afghanistan after all the destruction, death and physical harms they have caused by their useless wars of invasion.

  • Fundamentalist bombings of Lahore mystical Shrine leave 42 Dead, 175 Wounded
    • It would be sort of like Calvinist Protestants from Geneva gaining influence over religious policy in Mexico and trying to stop people from visiting the shrines of saints.

      What about another example : like the US evangelical churches sending missionnaries in Maghreb in order to convert Muslims to Christianism ? Ooops.. this may look an absurdity, but it's a real fact too. The French colonizers in the 19th century on the other hand strickly forbided proselytism and any effort to convert Muslims to Christianism.

  • Turkey Forbids Israeli Military Overflights
    • I'm not sure that this theory holds. Do you think that this is coherent with the fact that
      1) Turkey along with Brasil tried to mediate a deal between the US and group of six and Iran concerning the nuclear enrichment. This shows that they don't want a conflict at their border.
      2) Despite being a NATO ally of the US, Turkey didn't allow the US troops to put a foot on their soil and attack Iraq from the north when they invaded Iraq, disturbing US army plans.

  • Public Souring on the Afghanistan War
    • Iraq invasion was clearly illegal, but the case of Afghanistan is somewhat different, since the US got the authorisation from the UN. Personnally I think it is a wrong war, but on paper it was more "legal" than Iraq. This makes me wonder : what exactly was authorised in Afghanistan ? how long are the American troops authorised to stay ? Has the authorisation to be renewed regularly ? Who is supervising what the US and NATO troops are doing in Afghanistan ?

    • You would have to change your constitution for that, aka the way your members of parliaments are elected and your president is elected. In practice this will be something very difficult to modify because both party have an interest in status quo (why would they want the competition of a third or fourth party ?) and they will probably block any change

    • Obama is trapped in the Afghan war by his own fault. In order to win the elections he wanted to be seen as tough on security. Since the Americans wanted out of Iraq, he made his tough security discourse on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Getting out of this new quagmire won't be easy. It would have been better if he had promised an end to all wars, Iraq and Afghanistan included. (BTW, we have yet to see the Americans getting completely out of Iraq and giving the country back to the Iraqui).

  • McChrystal Drama is Sideshow;
    Can Obama define a realistic Goal?
    • In short, we have no idea why US troops are being sent to Afghanistan at such an accelerating rate. It isn’t to fight al-Qaeda. And if it is mainly a matter of fighting the Taliban, why should we do that? They are not going to go away, and their brand of Muslim fundamentalism is by now woven deeply into the fabric of rural Pashtun life, such that for foreign Christian troops to argue the Pashtuns out of it at the point of a gun is a fool’s errand.
      In short, Karzai appears to be attempting to strike a deal with the very Taliban and insurgents that Obama says he is pledged to uproot and destroy.
      How can that make sense?.

      Lithium ? it has been discovered that Afghanistan has the biggest reserve of Lithium in the world, even more than Bolivia. If we want to have our cars pulled by electricity instead of petroleum, we need powerfull batteries and those are made of lithium.

      link to

      The NewYork Times stated it last week-end. However, the source seems to be the Pentagon ? After all, may be that they are just looking for another argument to continue the war.

  • Schumer's Sippenhaftung and the Children of Gaza
    • You can talk for yourself, but not for the international community. The UN has condemned Israel many times. Lately the International court ruled that the construction of the wall by the Israelians was illegal. The UN asked for an inquiry on the breach of humanitarian laws during the last Gaza war, which resulted in the Goldstone report. And I could go on an on. It is the US who blocks any resolution condemning the Israelians at the UN and it is the unfailing support of the US which grants Israelians a disproportionated power.

  • Mystery of Iranian Nuclear Scientist and the Duelling YouTube Videos
    • May be that there is a third possibility to consider : that Amiri is a gobetween. The whole question then is to which country goes his ultimate loyalty : US or Iran ? Or may be he is flipflopping under some measure of constraints, like you described at the end of your blog entry.
      Frankly, what we the US says concerning Iran sounds so much like the what we heard about Iraq before the invasion that I can't believe anything the US says concerning Iran nuclear program/intentions/facilities. It is all intox and propaganda. Glad that you are going after these inconsistencies in the US discourse.

  • Tel Aviv Rally Against Gaza Blockade;
    Wave of Protests, Gov't Condemnation
    • There was a manifestation in Geneva too, the protester marched peacefully to the United Nation building, wearing shilds and chanting slogans. (a video can be seen here : link to Supporting them and marching with them were two Member of Parliament. Their intent is to try to send a ship of goods to Gaza too (however that may take some months untill the funds are found). The purpose is to continue to send ships of goods to Gaza, untill the Israeli have to end the boycott. That peacefull strategy is the right one IMO and if the world mobilize itself against the Israelian blocus, they will have to end it. How many ships the Israelians will be able to stop ? How long can this last ? The only problem with this strategy is that it will probably cost a lot of money to send, say one ship a week to Gaza as long as necessary. The Western government have condemned the aggression and killing on the first ship; they are requesting an inquiry. But that is not enough, they should all participate in the shipping of goods to Gaza.

  • Veiling ban in Belgium: It is all about the State
    • It is mostly xenophobia and an electoral argument for the populist right. In some countries, like in the case of the Belgium bill, there is conjunction of right wing parties acting on the ground of xenophobia and of left who wants to change the subordinated situation of women.
      There is no real need for any law prohibiting the veil. In some countries, there are already administrative rulings requesting that women don't wear anything hiding their face on the identity picture of their driving license or their passort. That yes, is justified by state imperative, but there is absolutely no need to issue a law to that effect. It is just deputies looking for reelection at the expanses of strangers : the right wing will say it has done something to fight the invasion of Muslims and in order to reaffirm our christian values; the left wings will say they are defending the freedom of women.

  • Blog Migration
    • Geezzzz.. where did your software find my picture ??? I never entered any here !!

    • I second that, the generic design appears to be both simple and smart; the characters are easy to read and the white background is restfull for the eyes. The banner at the top adds some color to attract the eyes.. everything is right IMO, sometimes more is worse..

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