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Total number of comments: 32 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:27)

Dr. Mathews

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  • Germany's Merkel: A Selfish & Isolationist America isn't "Great Again"
    • Greetings Juan. It was great finally getting to meet you at the University of Puerto Rico on your last visit. As an economist, I thought I would add my two cents to the following: "If China is getting rich it means the US is getting a raw deal. Economists view as fallacies such approaches to the economy that see it as fixed."

  • Obama & Airstrikes to Protect Iraqi Kurds: 1991 Deja Vu all Over Again
    • While IS is not a conventional army, it is counts with former Baath regime advisers. Col. Pat Lang cites "a friend who is trying to save a few of the Yazidis trapped on the mountain at Sinjar" as saying: "His field man's description of IS coalition tactics against the Pesh Merga are what I would expect. The Old Iraqi Army military experts who are the fighting brain of the IS coalition were well schooled in the military art. I remember conversations with men like these concerning tactical and operational level methods in the world wars. This has Guderian, Patton, Manstein et al written all over it. In addition to that theoretical base, the Old Iraqi Army had a lot of largely successful experience fighting the Kurds."

  • Israel to Ethnically Cleanse 70,000 Palestinians in Massive Negev Land Grab
  • Arguing with President Putin
    • I read on one side that the Syrian gov't unequivocally gassed its citizens; on the other I read that the opposition gassed its own supporters as part of a strategy to provoke US intervention. Is there perhaps a third plausible narrative? ... like this one:
      The sarin gas was purportedly released by untrained members of the Jabhut al-Nusar militia in the town of Ghouta Sham. This allegation has been substantiated by Doctors without Borders who treated the injured survivors, including injured Jabhut militia members who complained that they had not been properly trained in the use of the gas weapons they had transported into Syria from Iraq.
      However, this should all be moot now that an agreement has allegedly been entered into to account for and eventually destroy Syria's chemical weapons, right? Then why are the rebels allegedly against said agreement? it doesn't make sense. No wonder people are skeptical about any kind of intervention in Syria's affairs.

  • Defiant Erdogan Risks Turkish Economy, as Unions enter the Fray
    • If you allow me a tangential point to this:

      Neoliberal policies of privatization have had different impacts in different countries. In Argentina they caused economic collapse, and contributed to sparking the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011. On the other hand, Poland and Turkey seem to have done relatively well with such policies. I doubt anyone entirely understands the differential outcomes...

      I have been very interested in these "differential outcomes", and would add Brazil as another example of neoliberalism actually working. Amazingly, the leaders who implemented it were nominally from the left.

  • Israeli, Hizbullah Proxy War in Syria
    • Some of us have a somewhat different view:
      Israel is desperate to initiate a regional confrontation with all of their enemies that will allow them to pursue their territorial expansionist ambitions which will result in the long term in realising their dreams of a Greater Israel. There are a number of doors through which Israel can pass through (sic) in order to kick off their long sought after war. The civil war in Syria is just another door.

  • Venezuela and the Middle East after Chavez
    • You willfully ignore the fact that the act of expropriating capital is not the only contributor to "instability"; the latter encompasses much more. Mexico is corrupt and is wracked by a virulent drug mafia. If that doesn't make for an unstable society, then I don't know what does. What your point really implies is that capital cares only for its self preservation and perpetuation. It is oblivious to the stability and well-being of he surrounding society which is living (in Mexico's case) a veritable hell. What does the destruction of Mexico's agricultural patrimony mean for stability?

    • I can't help but think, when reading US-based criticism at Chavez's "polarizing" politics and supposedly "allowing" the rise of drug related violence: What about the civil war years in Central America, when Reagan funded the communist witch-hunt? Wasn't that the epidemy of polarization (and a very lethal one, since it was actually a war)? And regarding drug violence, what about Mexico and Colombia - two staunch US allies which are the thoroughly documented originators of the cartels and drugs that plague the US? I also find it very telling how most political economy text-books single out various forms of "instability" as enemy # 1 of FDI (foreign direct investment), yet Mexico is a case study of how that convention is pure bunk: Corruption in Mexico is legendary, as anyone who has done business there will tell you. Similarly, the drug war in Mexico is the very definition of instability. So do we see capital flight from Mexico? Au contraire! We see capital flocking to Mexico in huge quantities; especially US capital. The "conventional wisdom" on this is therefore mere illusion.

    • Chavez, to me, was an enigma. Somewhat of a socialist, he nevertheless survived by wooing the business class or at least keeping them satisfied. Venezuelan expert Javier Corrales probably sums it up best: Chávez has skillfully relied on a mix of both strategies to win the love of his people -- strident anti-americanism and largess for the poor on the one hand, and kickbacks to big business and billions of dollars in oil sales to the United States on the other.

  • Top Ten GOP Myths about Libya that Sank Susan Rice
    • Conspiratorial perhaps. Plausible? Absolutely! If true, the CIA will certainly never admit publicly to it. The CIA undoubtedly never wanted released the contents of a treasure trove of documents that eventually saw the light of day "when rebel forces overtook Tripoli in August 2011." Thanks to Human Rights Watch, "...interviews with 14 former detainees now residing freely in post-Gaddafi Libya and information contained in Libyan government files discovered abandoned immediately after Gaddafi’s fall (the “Tripoli Documents”) were released in a 154 page report: It provides detailed evidence of torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in US custody, including a credible account of “waterboarding,” and a similar account of water abuse that brings the victim close to suffocation. Both types of abuse amount to torture. The allegations cast serious doubts on prior assertions from US government officials that only three people were waterboarded in US custody. They also reflect just how little the public still knows about what went on in the US secret detention program. Sure Benghazi isn't mentioned since all of this happened under the Bush administration. Are we to believe all of this ceased to occur under Obama? I sincerely doubt it. Call me a conspiracy theorist, if you want. But I wasn't born yesterday.

    • Joe from Lowell: As I said in my first post, it is speculation. Jesus!, can't you people read!? And contrary to what you incredulous naysayers are claiming, it is entirely plausible speculation given the secretive history of the CIA. How many examples examples would you like?

    • I cited it because of convenience and because I was in a rush. It contains links which substantiate the argument (And if you are as capable of using Google as you apparently are of making ad hominem remarks, you just might find other corroborations to your liking).

    • I'm sorry - I neglected to offer a link to my second point, above.

    • I have two points that perhaps you could address: First of all, there is the question of the alleged CIA "annex" compound to the Benghazi consulate and speculation that this was probably the reason why it was attacked (reference). That, coupled with the following assertion points to an astonishing degree of naïveté among US policy makers:
      Not only did the US deliver Gaddafi to his enemies on a silver platter but it seems the CIA tortured many of them first.

  • Four Middle East crises will face the next President Immediately
    • I'm not sanguine about the prospects, but who knows?
      Israeli and Iranian officials are taking part in a nuclear non-proliferation meeting in Brussels on Monday, in the hope of paving the way for a full international conference in the next few months on banning nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East.

  • Israeli President Peres Smacks down PM Netanyahu on Iran Attack, Supports Obama
    • In my view, the whole thing is an elaborate hoax. This is the money quote in your analysis: "Since the ‘settler-industrial complex’ is key to Netanyahu’s political fortunes, his rhetoric against Iran serves several purposes– shoring up his rightwing base, reassuring his squatter allies, and changing the terms of the discussion (not, ‘when will you make peace with the Palestinians?’ but ‘How can we persuade you not to attack Iran?’)"

  • Syria Spirals down into Sectarian War (Cole at Truthdig)
    • The Russians have apparently read the writing on the wall:
      An unidentified officer confirmed that "Two major amphibious ships – The Nikolai Filchenkov and The Tsezar Kunikov – are preparing to be dispatched to Tartus outside of their schedule." It is believed the two ships will be carrying a large group of marines and could be used to evacuate Russian citizens and property.

  • Analysis: Why we must name all drone attack victims (Woods)
    • A rhetorical question: Would the United States tolerate armed Cuban drones seeking and taking out terrorists among their exile community in Miami even if there were no civilian casualties?

  • Power and Money in America (Noam Chomsky)
    • The acknowledged big problem is inequality. However, I have a more nuanced take on this bit:

      "When the 1970s came along, there were sudden and sharp changes: de-industrialization, the off-shoring of production, and the shift to financial institutions, which grew enormously. I should say that, in the 1950s and 1960s, there was also the development of what several decades later became the high-tech economy: computers, the Internet, the IT Revolution developed substantially in the state sector."

      De-industrialization? Perhaps. How about a paradigm shift, instead. To his credit, he does mention the advent of the microchip. I would argue that there is another Kondratiev wave coming along in the form of the green revolution.

  • Romney "Wins" with Latinos in Puerto Rico
    • OK, I decided to wade into the local press to see what was said and not said. The item that sparked my interest was that regarding Santorum's statements about whether PR could become or not a Spanish speaking state. As you can guess, in a fairly nationalistic environment like our own (after all, we have been under US tutelage for over 100 years and any stateside visitor can testify to the fact that, aside from the US-like infrastructure, we have scarcely "converted" to the anglophone US culture; we remain as Hispanic as any of our Latin American neighbors!), statements like those of Santorum can and will be spun to anything our local politicians feel will be to their advantage. This quote struck me from the San Juan Daily Sun: “I never said only English should be spoken here. Never did I even intimate that,” Santorum told local reporters gathered in El Capitolio, the island’s Capitol building. “What I said was that English had to be spoken as well as other — obviously Spanish is going to be spoken, this would be a bilingual country.”

      A bilingual COUNTRY? [as opposed to a state?] Was that a Freudian slip? Let me assure you that the meaning of that particular word, whether intentional or a mistake or whatever, wouldn't be lost on our local statehooders, the majority of whom seem to be Republican. No wonder they flocked around Romney instead of Santorum.

      In general, I never visualized a genuine Republican backing for statehood. The main reason is that a majority our population tends to support the Democrats. Anybody who knows the history of Puerto Rico, its industrialization process, and has read my late father's essential book, among others, knows that we are very much a "child of the New Deal". A Republican Party that wants to undo the New Deal will not make much headway among thinking Puerto Ricans.

  • 2011: End of US Hyperpower & its War with Islamdom
    • But you left Iran out of the picture. According to the Leveretts, "...the evidence of the damage that America’s determination to assert hegemonic dominance over the political and strategic orientation of key states in the region has done to its strategic position, in the Middle East and globally, is already overwhelming. And yet bipartisan attachment to the illusory and demonstrably counter-productive goal of Middle Eastern hegemony persists; currently, its most salient manifestation is the rising crescendo of voices advocating U.S. military action—we will call it what it would be, an illegitimate U.S. attack—against the Islamic Republic, ostensibly over its nuclear activities." link to

  • 2011 Revolutions and the End of Republican Monarchy
    • Could there be a nascent "Arab" spring in Pakistan, too?

      "But, having deftly out-maneuvered his opponents for three years, Zardari seems to have misread the current political environment, for Pakistan is not the same country in which his wife and father-in-law wielded power. By trying to play by the old rules, he committed several mistakes that may ultimately cost him his job and the Bhutto family its hold on power. As many other Pakistani leaders have done before before him, Zardari has relied on American support to stay where he is. (...) But Zardari’s decision to begin grooming his 23-year old son for power may have been his gravest mistake." link to

  • Empire by the Numbers
  • NATO Refuses Ground Troops for Libya as "Friends" Conference Opens
  • The Irrelevance of the Knights in a Global Society
    • Delete the last character of the link and it should work.

    • Probably just an interesting footnote: "Did an 800 year old organization inspire violence on two continents this week? I doubt anyone thinks these two groups are linked. It's just a coincidence that they use the same name. Yet, it raises the question of what makes violent ideologues and criminals search the past for inspiration? And what makes two groups so far apart find that inspiration in the Knights Templar?" (link to

  • Taliban, al-Qaeda Flee N. Afghanistan as Morale Collapses with al-Qaeda admission of Bin Laden's Death
    • Another Fateful Choice:
      With Osama bin Laden eliminated, the Obama administration has a golden opportunity to discontinue the Bush administrations’ wars. It is time for the US to leave both Afghanistan and Pakistan, neither of which countries supplied a September 11 hijacker, to sort out their internal messes undisturbed. But President Obama made clear, in the same speech that proclaimed bin Laden’s death, that these wars will not end.

  • Looking for PETN, Scanning Grandma at the Airport, and the Future of Air Travel
    • "The question is really what level of risk Americans are willing to live with." I say we aren't asking the correct questions. Are Americans willing to keep occupying Arab lands (and any others' lands, for that matter) which is what really fuels terrorism as well as subsidizing the Israeli war machine to unprecedented levels? Until we begin asking and seriously answering those questions, it isn't even worth carrying on a discussion of the subject.

  • 17 Bombings of Shiite Districts Kill 113; Fears of Sectarian Reprisals
    • ...And wasn't this a part of the Petraeus strategy in the first place?

      The revelation by WikiLeaks of a U.S. military order directing U.S. forces not to investigate cases of torture of detainees by Iraqis has been treated in news reports as yet another case of lack of concern by the U.S. military about detainee abuse.

      But the deeper significance of the order, which has been missed by the news media, is that it was part of a larger U.S. strategy of exploiting Shi’a sectarian hatred against Sunnis to help suppress the Sunni insurgency when Sunnis had rejected the U.S. war.

  • Big Oil's Predations are not Your Fault
    • "you are part of a consumer market that motivates BP to drill"(!!) This type of thinking has been embedded in standard economic theory to the point that I am almost embarrassed to admit specializing in the discipline.

  • Kirchner: Bush angrily said War would Grow US Economy

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