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Total number of comments: 11 (since 2013-11-28 16:37:32)


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  • The Russian Job: The Plot Thickens
    • A little fleshing out of our mogul's history:

      Deripaska, 49, notably made his fortune in the cut-throat metals industry, where contract killings were so common the struggle for assets became known as the "Aluminium Wars."

      Deripaska emerged unscathed, at one point acquiring almost 100 percent of Russia’s aluminium production -- a feat few believe could have been achieved without adopting some of the darker practices of the time. He still owns the vast aluminium company RusAl.

      In 2007, the U.S. State Department denied Deripaska a visa; though it declined to say why, U.S. officials at the time told Reuters he was denied entry to the U.S. amid concerns about his links to organized crime.

      Deripaska doesn’t deny he has, at times, had to collaborate with suspected mafia figures. In 2012, he settled a $1 billion court case with a man he said had acted as his mafia cover in the 1990s. Deripaska said he had no choice but to work with the man. Such were the times, he said.

      link to

  • 10 facts the government doesn’t want you to know about Syria
    • A kind of obvious question here. The West is not the only player here. Most obvious is the criminal Assad regime, as I shouldn't have to explain in a venue like this. Russia has been backing it and the Islamic Republic of Iran has done likewise. The only mention here excuses Putin's intervention on Assad's behalf as "inevitable" given Western mischief. The sectarian Iraqi government has to take a great deal of responsibility for setting up this crisis. And the undisciplined behavior of the sectarian militias when they seized land in the Iraqi Sunni heartland has stoked fears of massacre there should they eventually get the upper hand.

      I'm not objecting to the facts and arguments in this piece. But surely a more well-rounded picture is necessary!

  • What's behind Russia's military build-up in Syria?
    • Not so sure the West is so deeply hostile to Assad anymore. Da'esh has put a scare into them and the opening to Iran makes anxieties about Iranian domination of the region less accute. Moreover, Assad has been greatly weakened. It's unclear that he could even be much of a bridge between Iran and its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon any more. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think the prospect of a Russian and Western condominium over Syria is not impossible. It will take will and imagination, but it's not impossible.

      The big obstacle is not Western attitudes towards Assad, but the terror such a policy would strike into Israel and the West's conservative Arab allies.
      Or maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.

  • India Flap derives from America's Gulag Practices and Far-Right Supreme Court
  • Khamenei Takes Control, Forbids Nuclear Bomb
    • My information on Barak was dated. I recognize that he's joined the call for war. And that Dagan is leaning in that direction too.

    • Geeeeeeeeeeez.
      By that measure, Gaddafi was a super-existential threat.

    • Read through the article, not all the comments. But there are a few obvious questions here.

      First (and educate me if I'm wrong), Khamane'i was Leader when Iran did (at least according to the American NIE if not the IAEA) have a working nuclear weapons program, i.e., up to 2003.

      Second, the Pope and the birth control argument doesn't quite work. You have the Israeli pit bull lunging at you while the guy who holds his chain seems to have a slippery grip on it. There's no reason to believe the Pope took his position about birth control under duress. There are plenty of good reasons to believe the Leader did.

      Finally, since when do we identify Ahmadinejad as being particularly pro-nuclear weapons?

      That being said, it seems clear to me that this whole nuclear debacle is over the collective anxieties of the Israeli state which have little basis in reality, something which even Israeli statesmen like Ehud Barak and spy chiefs like Meir Dagan recognize.

  • A Murder in Tehran
    • While we're speculating: Maybe the People's Mojahedin are going off on their own. They are now facing liquidation. Maybe they figure it's time to go for broke. Maryam Rajavi has nothing to lose. Provoking a war would not only take the heat off them, but put them within reach of finally getting what they want--an opportunity to invade Iran, this time with something a bit more powerful than a tin-pot dictator at their back.

  • Top Ten Myths about Bin Laden's Death
    • Good stuff. These rumors need to be squelched. The last point, about Pakistani knowledge of OBL and protection of same is particularly worth keeping in mind.

      I'm not so certain we can be so certain about his final moments. The information is still coming in from a very confused situation. Any chance the helmet cam videos will be published? If his last moments were as you said, it might be considered politically undesirable to have him bravely defended by a shir-zan interpolating herself between the SEALS and their target or even (according to another version) lunging unarmed at the SEALs. Not exactly good propaganda for the West.

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
    • And I was wrong, as was pointed out to me. The Serbian war was basically an air war. Not very effectively waged, but it still was an air war without NATO boots on the ground.

    • I've been looking for a perspective in this complicated situation that I can be comfortable with. Yours goes a long way to helping me. But I'm still worried.

      Everything you say here is true. But:

      On Point 4, I am not convinced. The reactionary potentates are fine to see a republic go down the drain, but when it comes to one of their own (Bahrein), not so much.

      On Point 5, eventually there will have to be boots on the ground, like it or not. No war's ever been won with aircraft.

      On Point 8, Libya is a patchwork of three statelets, one of which has retained a somewhat autonomous character. It is not hard to imagine that it might come apart. Moreover, it is a very tribal society. Libya's integrity may become an issue.

      In general, I hated watching Qaddafi rolling over his opponents with his tanks. But the Western forces are responding with some pretty heavy manners. Will the Arab countries (and the Arab street) go along with this? For what it's worth, I see that Ralph Nader is calling for Obama's impeachment over this.

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