Member Profile

Total number of comments: 12 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:35)

David Benfell

Ph.D. student in Human Science at Saybrook University (expected candidacy by Fall, 2014, and completion in December, 2015).


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  • Ayatollah Cameron Threatens to invade Ecuador Embassy re: Assange (or, Whitewashing Iran for the US National Security State)
    • I'll accept that the sexual allegations perhaps should be taken more seriously, but the notion that this is what underlies all this is laughable. It's completely disproportionate.

  • Would Obama Greenlight an Israeli Attack on Iran?
    • An authorization to use military force does not, in any account I have seen, constitute what some have seen as a constitutionally-required declaration of war.

    • There are a number of comments here referring to the Israelis (meaning Netanyahu and numerous other politicians) as deranged. I'm not sure that's a helpful way of viewing the problem.

      As you (Wayfarer) point out, these threats have been made over a period of several years. The attack hasn't happened yet and I certainly hope it won't.

      If the Israeli leadership is indeed deranged, they are unlikely to recognize that their security would be further endangered by an attack on Iran. Their stated rationale for their occupation policies and their belligerence is that they see their country, especially within 1967 borders, as geostrategically vulnerable. A black and white view would suggest that they are already in danger, therefore they have nothing to lose. Such a view, however, is as valid now as it has been in the past. If derangement accounts for Netanyahu's actions, then we should already have seen this attack.

      Juan's argument here seems to suggest a deranged leadership restrained by its military. But this is the same military that over-reacted to the Free Gaza blockade with unnecessary force resulting in unnecessary fatalities, undermining Israel's standing in the world. Military and police mindsets both suffer from an authoritarian bias that they must assert control and that compliance may be gained by force.

      If we choose a more calculating view, then we must see the Israelis as engaging in fascist tactics against a population it has dispossessed and Israeli rhetoric against Iran as propaganda to support a meme of vulnerable Israel engaging in expansionist actions in self-defense. It happens that this view corresponds closely with what we have so far seen. I might yet be surprised, but I'm looking for more of the same.

    • What's an "official" enemy? The U.S. hasn't declared war since World War II.

      Juan got into this with Glenn Greenwald a while back, with the latter outraged by the Libyan intervention as yet another undeclared war. As I recall, Juan viewed the war as legal by virtue of a Security Council resolution. And the Constitution does give the President Commander-In-Chief powers, allowing the neoconservatives their wriggle-room, which existed even without Public Law 107-40.

    • Of course it is. That never stops anyone.

    • With the number of strikes being conducted by Special Forces, all in secret, all without Congressional approval, all without public support, I'd have to agree that Obama's adventurism is under the radar rather than absent.

    • I'm wondering if it is a reasonable bet that Obama would react in the same way as Eisenhower. One thing I would bet on is that we will not know: whatever happens, the White House will publicly back Israel, leaving us to guess what may or may not have happened in private.

  • Wagging the Dog with Iran's Maxwell Smart
    • The idea that this might be a pretext for any attack on Iranstruck me as far-fetched (as if that were a valid criterion) because the U.S. military is already overstretched and broken. But a diversion from the Fast and Furious scandal strikes me as just on the right scale.

    • I assume you've seen the Tehran Bureau article which also found the allegations incredible - link to

      I think we need to worry. Iran's allegation that this is a distraction from domestic problems may not be quite right. But I am definitely wondering just what it is a pretext for.

  • Repeal the PATRIOT Act is the Lesson of Bush White House Spying
    • Juan, this battle was lost, many years ago, possibly during the presidency of John F. Kennedy and certainly by the time of the Gulf of Tonkin "incident" under Lyndon B. Johnson. All we see now are the futile imaginings of those who continue to insist that this system is capable of reforming itself. Such imaginings are not merely in vain, but they are a disservice, for they mislead the naive into believing that there are people of good will in power, and that such people may be persuaded to act to restore "democracy" through the right of petition for the redress of grievances.

      This problem is far more serious than that. In this system, it is likely that even if people of good will were "elected" in a process that loses much of its meaning with an ineffective dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats (with the latter aspiring to be the former), they would be coerced, corrupted, or otherwise induced to uphold the status quo.

  • Shadow Internet Story Fishy
    • From what I've been seeing on Twitter, dissidents--particularly in Iran--have been making use of these technologies even without assistance from the United States.

      That's not to say that the U.S. Government has done nothing of value. DARPA has contributed to *some* open source and cryptography projects and the NSA has contributed code to SELinux, literally security-enhanced Linux that has been adopted by many distributions. And these projects have been ongoing for many years. They're nothing new.

      But other projects more immediately useful to dissidents, such as TOR and various proxy schemes, have had little or no support from the U.S. Government, and the proxy schemes require a quick-footedness that I doubt the government is capable of.

  • Time to Begin Leaving Afghanistan
    • The war in Afghanistan could never have accomplished anything but to exacerbate the United States' problems with the Muslim world. Only extremists can say that an unbalanced approach in favor of Israel, that sanctions against Iraq that raised the mortality rate in the under-five age group, that disrespect for holy places, that Islamophobia in the West, that drone attacks around the world--but mostly against Muslim nations--all contribute to Al Qaeda and other Islamist group recruitment. War begets more war, and only justice can end the cycle of violence.

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