Member Profile

Total number of comments: 113 (since 2013-11-28 14:43:02)

Helen Marshall

Retired political science professor and Foreign Service Officer


Showing comments 113 - 101

  • Upshot of Mueller Probe: Putin did to US what we did to Iran and Iraq
    • While it is certainly true that the US interferes just about everywhere, it is regrettable that Juan Cole is taking Mueller's charges as proof of anything, and particularly as proof that Putin was directing interference in the US! Check out this rebuttal by David Stockman: link to

  • It isn't just Trump: The American System is Broken
    • Sachs' article is well-written, but it assumes that only the Republicans are to blame for this broken system. The Clintons were in the money game up to their hips and more...and even though the Democrats controlled the Congress, Obama refused to even put a single-payer option on the table for health care reform, as the insurance industry would never allow it. It wasn't Republicans who bailed out Wall Street after the financial crisis, brought on in large part by the repeal of Glass-Stegall by Bill Clinton. Etc.

  • The Other Terrorism: Toxic CO2 Gas Promoted by Trump Budget, Shell
  • Assange Agrees to Extradition if US Releases Chelsea Manning
    • Helen Marshall 01/14/2017 at 2:00 pm

      VERY unwise given his likely fate when he steps out of the Ecuadorian embassy and surrenders to UK police.

  • In Massive Intel Error, US Kills 80 Syrian Troops, Helps ISIL Advance
    • Absolutely agree with the comments expressing skepticism about an "intel failure." We are willing to support the devil himself in order to overthrow Assad. I am waiting for someone to tell me why we must intervene to help get rid of him but the horrors perpetrated in Zimbabwe by the Mugabe regime for over 30 years don't call for any US action...oh, wait, there is no oil there and Israel has no interest in the place...

  • America's Shameful Record on Syrian Refugees
    • The brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad...has he brutalized more people than the Saudi regime that we kneel in front of?? Why is it OUR prerogative to determine who is brutal and has to go and who doesn't? Why don't we apply this logic to, say, Robert Mugabe? Could it be that Zimbabwe has no oil and is not of interest to Israel?

  • Obama to Send 4000 US Troops to Bolster NATO Force Against Russia 'Aggression'
    • Helen Marshall 07/09/2016 at 6:05 pm

      Readers might like to review the instructions for setting up your home bomb shelter. Looks like we won't have to wait for Clinton to really threaten Russia. Meantime, what's happening in the "Pivot to Asia?" Too bad we don't have a government that would pivot back to the pressing needs of the US rather than waste billions on planes that do not work...except for the bottom line of the contractors.

  • Putin's Winning Hand in Syria, as Turkey Apologizes and Obama Deals
    • "The Russian intervention in Syria, primarily against al-Qaeda and to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Asad" - Why this demeaning language? Whatever al-Asad may be, and no doubt he is pretty bad (and damned by us as he is not "Our SOB" any longer), Russian intervention to assist him is in response to the appeal of the government of Syria, attacked by rebel troops backed by, i.a., the US - thank you Hillary Clinton and the neocons! We are assisting Al-Queda-associated groups in order to overthrow a government. What is to like about this?? Why is it OK for the US to attempt another regime change - granted it is apparently just about part of the national DNA, beginning more than a century ago in Hawaii - tradition makes it OK? As for the Saudis not killing a fraction of the number of people that the Assad regime has, are you counting those killed outside Saudi Arabia by fundamentalist groups supported by Saudi money? Yemenis???

  • Turkish President: Muslims who use Birth Control are Traitors
    • To think that when I worked in the State Dept we were preparing "talking points" about the Turkish application for EU membership that stressed how important it was to support this multicultural democracy.

  • Is Hillary Clinton responsible for rise of ISIL, as Bernie's Campaign Manager Alleged?
    • I believe you mean that Clinton exulted when Gaddafi was disemboweled with a bayonet. We cannot know what would have happened if the US/NATO, largely at Clinton's behest, had not undertaken its bombing campaign.

  • Are Sanders' Criticisms of Israeli Occupation Policies unprecedented in a Presidential Campaign?
    • Helen Marshall 04/07/2016 at 4:28 pm

      The "positions of the US Government" are just for show, they have little or nothing to do with what the actual policy is.

  • Americans Must Challenge Congress on its Knee-Jerk Support for Israeli Expansionism
    • Helen Marshall 03/31/2016 at 2:45 pm

      Iran has NOT refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist, but rather asks that the extremist occupying regime should vanish. Not the same thing! Juan Cole has written about this extensively.

  • Hillary Clinton goes full Neocon at AIPAC, Demonizes Iran, Palestinians
  • Why Americans are Angry: The Minimum Wage Trap
    • And from the point of view of the shopper, where to go to buy something that does not contribute to this? I never go to Walmart, but my town is festooned with Target and Walgreen and other national chains; if I want groceries there is effectively only Albertsons. Bookstores? HA. Order from Amazon! We are all in the trap.

  • 5 Worst Foreign Policy Moments of GOP New Hampshire Debate
    • I thought we executed Japanese officials for waterboarding in WWII. Either that was wrong or it is a settled question and we don't have to use the EU's findings to decide it!

  • US Treasury Sued over Donations for Israeli Squatter Settlements in Palestine
  • British Muslim Family Not Allowed To Board Plane To Visit Disneyland: Are US visa officials Islamophobes?
    • This is very sad, especially as the family lost all the money spent on the air tickets. A single act like this by an uncontrolled US agency undoes the work of countless diplomats trying to give a different picture of the US.

    • Helen Marshall 12/25/2015 at 4:49 pm

      Hugely discouraging to also read that the airline refused to refund their ticket expenses, and they had to give up the duty-free items they had purchased. Did the father's name match one of the mis-spelled names on the No-Fly List? Does anyone seriously think that terrorists travel in family groups? And we wonder why "they" don't like us? It ain't our freedoms that are the problem, folks...

  • Fair Weather Friends: GOP says 'We're all French' Now; but remember Freedom Fries?
    • Helen Marshall 11/15/2015 at 1:20 pm

      Ah, yes, they see those "cheese-eating surrender monkeys a little differently now.

  • Debate: Clinton slams Iran, Putin & supports Syrian Rebels; Sanders rejects Intervention
    • Helen Marshall 10/15/2015 at 8:13 pm

      Putin is acting at the invitation of the legitimate government of Syria. The USG is supporting jihadist rebels to overthrow him..because? Because the Saudis and the Israelis want this? Whatever the reason there is no basis in international law for our actions in Syria.

  • Has the GOP given up on winning the Presidency? Carson, Trump on Muslims, Latinos
    • Unfortunately given that the ballot machines are in the hands of private companies and there is no assurance whatsoever that they will not be programmed to elect a Republican (there is a great deal of evidence this kind of thing happened at least in 2004) they may not have to worry about excluding those "un-American" folks they don't like.

  • Despite Sordid Past, Nuclear Deal can Repair US-Iran Relations: An open letter to Congress and the White House
    • I joined the FS about the time that the hostages were taken and it was a wrenching story indeed for those who experienced it and their colleagues who waited for their return. But unlike the hostage-taking of today, no one was beheaded or tortured. And even then Iranian officials were happy to cooperate with Americans, waiting until Reagan was inaugurated (at the behest of his campaign team) until the hostages were released, in the Iran-Contra affair. There is nothing to admire in our side of the history with Iran.

  • The Middle East Policy of President Bernie Sanders
    • Sadly, these first two comments are absolutely correct. Boycotting the Bibi speech had more to do with poking the Republicans who invited him than any disdain for Netanyahu and his cruel policies. Whatever Middle Eastern policy Bernie Sanders might have, in the unlikely event he became president, would be made in Tel Aviv, just as Elizabeth Warren's would. Read their webpages. The only presidential candidates not fully acceptable to AIPAC are third party candidates who have zero chance of becoming president. The US Government will continue to be Israeli-occupied territory.

  • US admits it has no Idea who it is Assassinating by Drone
    • I grieve for Warren, an old and beloved friend, and for our country, which has lost its moorings.
      According to the NY TImes account, the White House said the operation that killed the two hostages “was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies” but nonetheless the government is conducting a “thorough independent review” to determine what happened and how such casualties could be avoided in the future.

      "How such casualties could be avoided." I'll save them the price of an "independent review"…STOP these drone strikes!!! Mission accomplished!

  • Obama with Drama: Translating his comments on Israel's Netanyahu from the Vulcan
    • Helen Marshall 03/22/2015 at 1:08 pm

      Once again I must ask why we still refuse to acknowledge that whatever may be happening in the negotiations with Iran, so long as we continue to lie about Israel's nuclear weapons (and provide aid to Israel despite legislation forbidding such aid), the Israelis can continue to be confident that they "own" America. All this commotion will die down, and we'll still be standing with whatever rightwing outfit is running Israel. Meantime, a democratic Jewish state is impossible by definition. If equal rights are granted to all, then what makes it Jewish? If there are no equal rights, what makes it a democracy? It doesn't matter if Netanyahu ceases to make racist comments. The reality is still racist.

  • Why Netanyahu's Congress Speech will Fail: Iran Can't be Stopped, only Monitored
    • The speech may "fail" but I will be very surprised if the fawning relationship with Israel changes...and the real end game is not "stopping" Iran but bombing it. The neocons running Washington may very well suceed in that - regardless of the facts, just as they are trying to instigate World War III with Putin over Ukraine, regardless of the facts. Sadly, even many of those who say they will not attend the speech are swearing eternal allegiance to Israel and claiming that they are only motivated by fear that our wonderful alliance will be harmed.

  • President Obama's Biggest Mideast Policy Challenges, 2015
    • Why does the US have to stay in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban? WHAT national interest of the US is served by doing this?
      While the Gulf states, et al, may share some blame for Libya, how can you absolve Ms. Power and her R2P obsession? How's that level playing field working out for the citizens of Libya?

  • Israeli Occupation military demolishes dairy factory in Hebron, Palestinian West Bank
    • Helen Marshall 12/26/2014 at 5:27 pm

      The action is indeed malicious, but hardly idiotic. It is part of a long-standing Israeli program to make life in the West Bank as well as Gaza so horrible that the Palestinians will flee.

  • The Trial of Richard Bruce Cheney
    • Helen Marshall 12/13/2014 at 1:37 pm

      And Condi Rice, who is rarely mentioned but has to have been involved, is under consideration to head the University of Texas system (which will move her close to boyfriend George). There are no consequences for what these people did, only more money and power.

  • Why SecDef Hagel is Really Out: As usual, the War Party Won
    • Helen Marshall 12/06/2014 at 3:23 pm

      The last political leader who was interested in peace was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

  • Thanksgiving was always about Climate and Adaptation: Let's Make it Green Again
    • Very fine article, Juan, thank you for this - and we should be grateful that there are still Native Americans to help the rest of us find our way.

  • Why Can Europe have Climate Targets but not the US? Corruption
    • Helen Marshall 10/24/2014 at 7:02 pm

      Putin's "thuggish behavior?" How about that of the US, overthrowing a democratically-elected government as part of an encirclement of Russia? Aided and abetted by some of the EU states, now perhaps a bit sorry....

      As for the US not having any carbon-reduction goals that mean anything, the USG is far too excited about fracking making the US the dominant country in energy supplies to consider seriously trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Who cares what our grandchildren will think is apparently the motto. The Exceptional Country indeed....

  • In Iraqi Classrooms, Sunni Muslim Extremists Ban Evolution, Patriotism And Literature
    • Helen Marshall 10/03/2014 at 1:11 pm

      Exactly. Some of the Tea Party might be thinking "why are we bombing these people?" Extremists/fundamentalists are essentially the same, regardless of the details of their particular religion...

  • The American Cult of Bombing
  • Dutch Lawyer who saved Jewish Boy in WWII returns Medal to Israel over Bombing of his Family in Gaza
    • Helen Marshall 08/16/2014 at 6:45 pm

      It may say that "the Jewish people recognize," but given that there is no worldwide assembly of Jewish persons who vote, and the museum is in Israel, it seems reasonable to assume that it is an Israeli recognition. In any event, whatever the exact source may be does not invalidate his decision to make this protest, which will at least draw some publicity in Europe, not quite so immersed in pro-Israel reporting.

  • Israel Still Holding Gaza Civilians Hostage, Doesn't Get Geneva Conventions
    • Apparently the Israeli government, and perhaps most Israelis, consider that the entire Palestinian population is an enemy and so does not enjoy rights as "protected peoples." A view evidently shared by the USG. Even the representative here in west Texas who voted against the $225 "emergency" funding for Iron Dome says that he just wanted to ensure it was fiscally sound, and he is absolutely standing by our "ally."

  • Israel Bombs Gaza back to Stone Age: Razes only Power Plant & Plunges Strip into Darkness
    • Helen Marshall 07/30/2014 at 4:56 pm

      Juan, maybe you should rename your site "Beyond Comment." It is really beyond comprehension that this is happening, and the USG actively supports it, despite the whines from the president and secretary of state to "stop please." The majority leader of the Senate, a DEMOCRAT, announces that we are not giving Israel enough military aid and much more should be sent. All 100 Senators consent to a resolution supporting Israel. Sickening.

  • Gaza: Palestinians "Philosophical," Israel "foils Foreign Infiltration" during 1957 Occupation (British "Report")
    • Interesting that Eisenhower did the right thing about the invasion - but sadly his administration had already orchestrated the overthrow of the Mosaddegh government in Iran, setting in motion a whole chain of ugly consequences for the Middle East.

  • Gaza: The Israeli Army's Unlawful Targeting Practices are bad for Children
    • Helen Marshall 07/20/2014 at 1:11 pm

      Joey Ayoub has, sadly, raised a very clear issue. Many political and religious figures in Israel have characterized non-Jews as "vermin," and said that killing them is not murder. There is no reason to think that the IDF has no soldiers who share these views. And HRW is trying to pretend that this assault on an open-air prison can be conducted lawfully, if Israel's allies (read, the US) would just tell the Israeli military to shape up.

  • What the West means by "stability" in the Middle East
    • Helen Marshall 07/15/2014 at 3:21 pm

      It hasn't been that long since folks in Northern Ireland were killing each other over issues from a long-ago schism in we shouldn't be surprised at the strength of such feelings.

  • Stop Saying 'If X fired Rockets at U.S.': It's Racist, & assumes we're Colonial
    • Excellent article, although I would have to disagree that the US is not a settler-colonial state. We may not think of ourselves as such, but ask any Native American ! I have often wondered if the willingness to support the Israeli's aggressive occupation of Palestine, which is clearly intended to encompass it all someday, flows from our unconsicious understanding that it's just another form of Manifest Destiny.

  • Bush Trifecta lands on Obama: Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan Imploding
    • "the Bush administration had unwisely entangled the US too deeply in the Middle East, where no good deed goes unpunished." Our disasters in the Middle East are the result of our good deeds being punished????

  • In the Deaths of 3 Israeli Teens, Likud Policies are also Implicated
    • Helen Marshall 07/01/2014 at 9:11 pm

      horrendous photographs today posted on Mondoweiss ( of the Israeli army's total destruction of the homes of the "kidnapping suspects." Not even convicted yet but punishment meted out. The comments here are correct, I could not bear to listen to what NPR said about it.

  • Iraq in last Throes as Kurdistan Seeks Independence, Syria & Iran intervene
    • As we watch this unfold, keep in mind that one effect will be to destroy any Middle Eastern regime that in any way opposes Israel's occupation of Palestine. Draw your own conclusions...

  • When will they ever Learn? America on Brink of another Military Engagement
    • Thank you Mr. Polk. I wish you had included some commentary on our invasion of Mexico a bare 25 years or so after its independence from Spain, and annexation of one half of its national territory (a generous gesture given that quite a few of our leaders wanted to take the entire country). Thereby providing us with Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, etc. etc. Our history might be somewhat different without these lands and their mineral and other resources. When I hear Kerry and Obama lecturing Putin on his alleged annexation of Crimea and how no civilized nation would consider such a thing...(true, we got ours by treaty, but at gunpoint).

  • The Fall of Mosul and the False Promises of Modern History
    • Helen Marshall 06/12/2014 at 8:16 pm

      Bush thought we could change the dynamics of the Middle East - or so his handlers told him. Obama claimed we would create a modern state in Libya if we just aided the rebels. Lots of progressives agreed, including Juan Cole - link to

      Not looking so good in either place, eh?

  • Occupartheid is Isolating and Degrading Israel
    • Helen Marshall 05/19/2014 at 6:33 pm

      The letter here eloquently identifies the corrosive effects of the Occupation on Israel, but repeats the same tired mantra that it is both sides' fault when the peace process collapses. Nonsense. Does the author not remember that the Palestinians and their Arab allies have repeatedly offered to conclude an agreement based on the internationally-recognized borders of Israel, to no avail? Did the Palestinians invade Israel and drive its inhabitants out of the land, with no right of return?

  • George W. Bush Used Top Google Results For All His Paintings; Is he in Legal Trouble?
    • Helen Marshall 04/11/2014 at 3:05 pm

      The point is not whether they are copies or not, but that the Associated Press has sued people for this use, but clearly does not intend to sue Bush. Not quite as important as Obama's decision to exempt Bush, Cheney, et al from any suits related to war crimes, but unequal justice all the same.

  • When it is Feinstein being Spied on, Suddenly she Squawks
    • "Constitutional scholar?" From another site - "he studied the Constitution like a safecracker studies a safe."

    • While the president may have shut down the CIA torture program, he is perfectly willing to inflict considerable pain on the men in Guantanamo who are on hunger strike (or as the military prefers to call it, long-term non-religious fasting...Orwell would be jealous). What is being done to these men is disgusting, and even more so given that they have been cleared for release for YEARS. Tell me this isn't torture. And it is the president who determined that there would be no penalty whatsoever for anything done by the Bush administration - we have to look forward, eh? "Due process" in assassination does not require a judicial hearing? What makes anyone think that this administration will bring the CIA under control?

  • The Day the 5th Amendment was Droned to Death
  • Obama will Veto new Iran Sanctions, Israel War Mandate pushed by AIPAC Senators
    • Helen Marshall 12/22/2013 at 6:45 pm

      THank you for this. I have written to 5 of these folks (might we call them traitors??) and will do so for the rest in the Democratic Party. Not that they care what I think but at least I've told them how repulsive their actions are.

  • India Flap derives from America's Gulag Practices and Far-Right Supreme Court
    • Those of us criticizing the manner of this arrest - and indeed the fact that such demeaning treatment is now standard for us all, regardless of the fact that being arrested is not a judicial finding of guilt - are not excusing the apparent visa fraud or abuse of the maid!!

    • Resistance does not make any difference. The woman in this case repeatedly refused, and she was in handcuffs while the medical personnel performed what amounted to a rape at the behest of the CBP officers. And the result of her refusal was that the hospital billed her!!
      link to

  • Israeli criminals make their way to Morocco
  • Trashing the Law against warrantless GPS tracking: NSA nabs 5 Billion Phone location Records a Day
    • And even now reading you on Facebook is tracked by Facebook as well as the NSA and the rest. How to stop this? How to protect yourself? This is not a partisan issue, the Democrats are deeply implicated, and in fact appear to be worse..

  • US seeks Broad Powers, Immunity for post-2014 Troops in Afghanistan (Lazare)
    • "The U.S. has framed the raids and continued troop presence as part of an ongoing special operations force to hunt down "terrorist" cells. “The Parties acknowledge that continued US military operations to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate and agree to continue their close cooperation and coordination toward that end,” the July 25th draft agreement states."

      What "Bovine Excrement." More of that Change We Should Not Have Believed In." This is to ensure continued opportunities for war profiteers, while hapless US troops continue to die, although not at the rate that will be inflicted upon the Afghan people. If I believed in prayer I would be praying that the Loya Jirga and the Parliament are better than we are.

  • The Coming Drone Wars: Iran Unveils its own Drone, with a 1200-mile Range
    • Helen Marshall 11/20/2013 at 5:06 pm

      Hmmm...If Iran were to deploy it in nearby countries of the Middle East, we would just shoot it down, no? That's why we have all those ships offshore. Or perhaps we'd allow one of our "allies" to do so.

      Thank you Barry B for your trenchant comment!

  • Al Gore on the Oil, Gas and Coal Bubble: Investors Beware! (Queally)
    • Helen Marshall 11/03/2013 at 3:54 am

      We might want to remember the line from the old country song,

      "God gave Noah the rainbow sign - no more water, but the fire next time."

  • Pakistani family testifies to empty room on Hill about US Drone that killed Granny
    • Alan Grayson is just as progressive, even though he has not been in the Congress as long as Conyers!

  • The Ghost of Iraq haunts Obama on Syria as British Parliament Defects
    • Kudos to you for your courage in living up to your pledge. I hope you have found a good place to live.

    • oops, should say "not ever"!

    • Thank you JTM McPhee, that is exactly the comment I was going to make. Mr. Bush is the litte boy who lied wolf.

      The fact that neither he nor any of his fellow conspirators have never been brought to account for the war crimes they committed prohibits the USG from playing the "moral conscience" card.

  • Bradley Manning in a World of Cheneys, Hadithas, and NSA Domestic Surveillance
    • The story about the NSA and the domestic data was on page five of my local paper today. Page one featured a story about the death of dogs being transported for Border Patrol training.

      The public knows little of current events and remembers nothing of those in the past. And the pressure of searching for or keeping a job and managing a family, etc, leaves most of the previously-middle-class with little time or interest outside the immediate needs of their lives. It is hard to see much changing about that.

      As for peace prizes, our Orator-in-Chief has done nothing to promote peace, and any subsequent award was essentially trivialized as well. Until the committee withdraws it (!), we need some other way to honor those working for peace.

  • Alleged Torturers sue Abu Ghraib Torture Victims (Lazare)
    • Helen Marshall 08/21/2013 at 1:30 pm

      A better name for this entity would be CACA. Whatever happens to these four victims, the USG has lost the case in the eyes of the world. And, sadly, many of my friends overseas assume that the government has acted in the name of the people, that we all support the disgraceful policies that led to Abu Ghraib and to the hiring of these vicious companies to outsource torture.

  • Levison of Lavabits on FBI gag order: "There's information I can't share with my lawyer"
    • Why would they have to cover up tactics of which they are ashamed? If they are ashamed of what they are doing, the president and his subordinates can stop!!!

  • India, China Defy US Congress' War on Iranian Oil
    • Seriously, you don't think that there is a common reason for the monochromatic foreign policy regarding Iran, and in fact for any Middle East issue in which Israel has a hand? Do you not remember the attack on the Liberty, and the craven response of the US, long before the hostage crisis?

      Are you aware that Iran has reached out to the US several times attempting to resolve differences and reach normal diplomatic relations, only to be rebuffed? Probably the only time that the USG has worked closely with the Iranians since the Shah, our hand-picked ruler, was deposed, was when Reagan's folks arranged with them not to release the hostages until Reagan was elected and sworn in, and the Iran-Contra charade began.

  • Obama's Reassurances about Domestic Surveillance are not Reassuring
    • Helen Marshall 08/10/2013 at 1:36 pm

      Thank you Victor, particularly for the reference to Chalmers Johnson, whose books should indeed be essential reading; too bad the president clearly has not had them on his list.

  • Afghanistan: If a White House Report on a Massacre isn't Released, did the Massacre Happen? (Currier)
    • Helen Marshall 08/01/2013 at 2:27 pm

      99.9% of the public is busy forgetting, if they ever knew, about such allegations. And the government is demonstrating even now what will happen to future truth-tellers.

      Gives a whole new meaning to "Yes We Can."

  • Lest we Forget that Manning was Tortured before being Found not Guilty of Aiding the Enemy (America's Bouazizi)
  • Erdogan Clears Gezi Park Protesters, sets Stage for Polarization
    • Thanks, I am aware that it is a treaty. I'm not finding a specific statement.

    • @Juan; you say "Ironically, tear gas cannot be used in warfare because of the convention against chemical weapons, but it is used on workers and civilian protests by governments all the time." A colleague with whom I am having a vehement argument asserts that this is not the case: "Tear gas is not a actually a gas but an irritant powder in suspension. It's use is not banned for police and self-defense."

      Where is the ban for tear gas in warfare? Thank you.

  • We Misunderstood Barack: He only wanted the Domestic Surveillance to be Made Legal, not to End It
    • Helen Marshall 06/08/2013 at 4:16 pm

      Saw this elsewhere, too good not to share:

      Obama promised us the greatest transparency in history, and he delivered. Only he didn't tell us he'd be using one-way glass.

  • Have we no Shame? Will Hunger Strikes and medical Torture finally close Guantanamo? (Hickman)
    • Helen Marshall 06/05/2013 at 3:25 pm

      Dear Professor Hickman, I wish I could believe that the American public will empathize with the suffering of the prisoners and force a change. But what is the evidence for this? The major news sources pay little if any attention, and there seems to be no demand for action coming from the public, beyond the tiny activist population of Code Pink and the like. To truly confront what is happening in Guantánamo and acknowledge its horrors would require the public and the Congress to acknowledge the terror that has been inflicted on millions of people, not just those in Guantánamo, by the USG with the full compliance of the public for years. It is very difficult to imagine this happening...

  • The Lotto Symbolizes the False Promises of Barracuda Capitalism, and it Won't make you Happy to Win
    • Helen Marshall 05/19/2013 at 2:37 pm

      The justification for these lotteries in many states is to support education - and the budget, for example here in Texas, is structured to reduce other sources of support accordingly, making it entirely impossible to eliminate these state-supported gambling operations! Ironically, Texas does not allow other entities to operate gambling, and the destruction of the Tigua Indians casino by then-State Attorney General Cornyn, at the behest of Jack Abramoff et al has greatly impoverished the tribe - while money flows from El Paso and other border cities to neighboring states that do permit casinos.

  • Obama must Make Fighting Climate Change National Project, or Die the death of a thousand Scandals
    • Helen Marshall 05/16/2013 at 4:30 pm

      Contrary to the posters ahead of me, I am not at all sanguine about this president's ability or interest in anything bold. He has done virtually nothing to challenge the power of the vested interests. I voted for him in 2008, with some reservations, but wised up long before 2012. I'm done with voting for the "lesser evil." So far the signature "progressive" action is a program to expand research on the brain. Meantime, the future of his daughters and any children they may have is uncertain - unless we rapidly evolve to prosper in conditions not seen for hundreds of millions of years. His failure to act cannot be blamed on the "implacable opposition." He has been far too anxious to have their approval, while he shows no interest whatsover in the approval of those who voted him into office twice, even making fun of them from time to time. And there is no electoral punishment issue with term limits. Regardless of what he wanted to do, he's a lame duck from day one of the second term.

      The US has become a dysfunctional political system, thanks to the power of the moneyed interests that really control it. And Obama seems content with that. His Dept of Justice will happily turn three elderly anti-nuclear activists, including an 82-year-old nun, into "dangerous terrorists," but cannot see any way to prosecute a single person in the HSBC for massive and sustained money-laundering. The chances of his pursuing the kind of climate change initiative discussed by Prof. Cole are less than the proverbial snowflake in hell, the direction in which the whole earth is going.

      Sometimes it's ok to be old. Not good, but ok.

  • Fracking ourselves to Death: Hydrocarbons are bad for Children and other Living Things (Cantarow)
    • Helen Marshall 05/04/2013 at 3:22 pm

      Would you kindly give some evidence for dangers from the wind energy industry representing the kind of public health issues that the fracking industry does? Not to mention that the increased use of fossil fuel via fracking represents a huge leap into the climate change future, which wind energy is intended to prevent.

  • Bradley Manning Explains his Leaks in his own Voice in new Tape (Goodman)
    • I fear that the USG will now go on a witch hunt to find the person who taped this statement, and prosecute him/her. Whoever it is should be given the Congressional Medal of Honor for bringing some light to this prosecution, just as Manning deserves it for his extraordinary commitment to duty and to the Constitution.

  • "Argo" as Orientalism and why it Upsets Iranians
    • I am not sure I can entirely agree about "hapless diplomats." One has to posit a diplomatic corps that is totally clueless about what the USG is actually doing, or completely careless as to the consequences for the people in the country where you live. Some of the people working in embassies are not State Department at all, of course. It is not surprising that the hostage takers would consider embassy staff to be complicit in the terror visited upon them by the Shah's dictatorship. It was hardly a secret that the US and UK had orchestrated the overthrow of Mossadegh's government at the behest of the oil companies. Individuals join the Foreign Service for many personal reasons, and many busy themselves with assistance to traveling US citizens or arranging for jazz concerts and the like. Some are dedicated careerists who are only interested in moving up the FS ladder and ultimately becoming ambassadors or Assistant Secretaries. If participating in the overthrow of a government is necessary for their career, they will do so. It's hard to believe that anyone was posted to Teheran by directive, or that they did not have some inkling of the US history with Iran. But the Shah was our man, and we protected him to the end. President Carter's professed concern about human rights in our foreign policy did not bring about any change in US policy regarding Iran and the repression of democracy there on behalf of western petroleum profits.

  • FBI Violated Constitution by Branding Peaceful Occupy Wall Street as Terrorist threat
    • Not only is Holder not held to account, he is lauded for his civil rights record - for example, see the LATimes yesterday. Not a word about the massive acceleration of attacks on marijuana clinics, the stunning use of century-old espionage laws against whistleblowers, nor the massive acceleration of deportations, not this surveillance operation - which shows what will happen when the austerity agenda being crammed down our throats leads to any substantial national protest movement. The only time the "left" fights back is when a Republican administration attacks the Bill of Rights. I'm beginning to regret that John McCain was not elected...the "left" would never have sat in silence if he had instituted such policies. But now with our "post-partisan" president still playing his 13-dimension chess game while his admirers gawk, policies from DOJ (and many other departments) that are far worse than anything Bush tried, have been institutionalized as "bi-partisan."

      The spineless corruption of the "left" or the "progressives" is painful to observe.

  • Were TSA Scanners Dangerous? Ionizing X-Ray Machines Removed from Airports (Grabell)
    • No mention here of the fact that it is high school graduates at best who operate these machines. Radiation machines in hospitals operated by medical technicians have occasionally delivered excessive amounts of radiation. Why should I, a cancer patient who's already received massive radiation doses, participate in this vaudeville show put on by the USG, exposing millions of air travelers to radiation for years, with no medical purpose whatsoever, and no security purpose either?

  • Ayatollah Cameron Threatens to invade Ecuador Embassy re: Assange (or, Whitewashing Iran for the US National Security State)
    • Speaking as a woman, who actually suffered rape - at knifepoint in my apartment in the middle of the night - and as a diplomat (retired) I am disgusted by the behavior of the UK, US, and Swedish governments. And deeply thankful that I am not on active duty anymore, as this policy of the UK government, with I am sure the strong encouragement of the US, threatens all diplomats everywhere.

      And the US doesn't have to execute Assange - just keep him in solitary confinement, forbidden to talk to anyone, maybe stripped naked to ensure that he has no forbidden objects - how long before he is driven insane?

      That is, if they don't just use a drone on him and get it over with.

  • Top Ten Most Distasteful things about Romney Trip to Israel
    • Helen Marshall 07/29/2012 at 2:35 pm

      Distasteful is not the word for this disgusting display of US fealty to right-wing Israeli thuggery.

  • How Long will We let the National Rifle Association and Corrupt Politicians Kill our Children?
    • Dear Juan Cole, once again you have rung a clear bell! I am grateful to you for posting this, and I hope the Brady folks, or Mayors Against Guns, or some like organization, will seize the ideas you have put forward and put together a campaign of shame.

      Let's in the meantime find the address for Colt, etc., and start writing our own letters! Letters to the local editor...etc.

      Thank you thank you - and if you get threats, post them here so we can see who the cowards are.

    • So are you saying that someone with a clean record should be able to buy assault weapons and go out and murder all by himself? Society can protect itself against Lone Wolves or Gangs of sane or crazy persons by simply prohibiting the legal sale of assault weapons!!! Your last sentence is simply an attempt to divert the discussion by pretending that we are only upset because the shooter was a white male who didn't seem to have many friends, and the effort to keep weapons from him would have been the equivalent of burning at the stake? Perhaps you will recall that the shooter in the Virginia Tech case was not Anglo-Saxon. Enough of such nonsense. If you think everyone should have access to assault weapons, say so and explain why.

  • Top Five Reasons Israel is Losing the Public Relations Battle
    • Helen Marshall 07/12/2012 at 4:09 pm

      It's not really surprising that the right-wing Isreali government and its supporters would think they can do anything they like and suffer no consequences. Consider what they got away with on June 8, 1967, when Israeli warships and planes attacked the USS Liberty, a US Navy intelligence ship, in international waters - killing 34 Americans and wounding another 174. President Johnson and Defense Secretary McNamara covered up the attack, which Israel claimed was a "mistake." Why LBJ did this has never really been fully explained. Why the Israelis did it is easier to understand, they apparently realized that the US ship could disprove their claim that Egypt had attacked first. In any case, the lesson learned was that the USG was simply a lapdog for the Israeli master. I can imagine that they are now astonished that any significant US institution would dare to challenge them.

  • How Obama changed definition of ‘civilian’ in secret drone wars (Woods)
    • Helen Marshall 05/30/2012 at 1:45 pm

      IT is almost impossible to comment on this report, which simply confirms some things we already knew (the drones are only secret when the administration wants to charge someone with espionage for reporting about them); but the cruel, callous attitude of the president is worse than I would have guessed.

      We will all be paying for this for a very long time.

  • Tomgram: Michael Klare, Welcome to the New Third World of Energy, the U.S.
    • Helen Marshall 04/02/2012 at 5:49 pm

      Not to mention the consequences for climate change, for the entire world, if we persist in our massive consumption of ever-more-expensive fossil fuels.

      Five percent of the world's population with the ability to wreck the entire thing - and for what?

      Those of you with grandchildren had better write a letter of apology to them...

  • Omar Khayyam (80)
    • Juan, again thank you for your work posting these, which illuminate my days.

  • Basic Facts on Clothing and Murder for American Bigots
  • Top Ten Dangers for Obama of Iran Sanctions on behalf of Israel
    • I just heard Netanyahu's remarks that Israel is the US and we are Israel.

      I feel helpless watching this insane and ugly "game" taking us to another war - for whose benefit? Not mine. For the war machine, the oil companies, and the zealots in Israel who believe that they are entitled to all of Palestine and are busy stealing it.

      How to stop it??

  • 71% of Americans think Iran already has the Bomb (Also we used to have pet triceratops)
    • The belief that Iran already has a weapon is irrational, but the behavior of the public is not, given the ceaseless repetition by print and broadcast media that Iran has the bomb, or very nearly does and is intent on finishing up the job.

      The greatest fear of the neo-cons is that Iran will eventually be known to have a bomb, but will not use it. Then what will Israel do?

  • Ring of Iranian Bases Threatens US
    • "US elites, especially Big Oil, dream of doing regime change in Iran so as to get access to those vast reserves."

      We've seen this movie before - when the Dulles brothers colluded with the UK to put the Shah on the throne, overthrowing a parliamentary democracy, in order to get control of the oil for the Big Four western oil companies. We know how that ended.

      "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it"...Santayana also said, "Only the dead have seen the end of war."

  • The Dilemma over Syria
    • Helen Marshall 02/10/2012 at 1:48 pm

      Speaking of flooding a country with small and medium arms, observe the example just to the south of our borders, where our wretched War on Drugs has resulted in massive arms flows, some at drug cartel initiative to purchase them (and occasionally actually encouraged by the USG, with the goal of finding out where they go - but the result of simply allowing more arms to flow) - and some by way of the Mérida plan, in which we deploy military measures to attack the drug cartel violence - and send even more weapons to Mexico. Mexico's civil society will be affected by this for decades. (This is NOT an argument that Mexico bears no responsibility for what has happened there, but rather to point out that our own massively permissive attitude to small and medium arms, and our preference for military measures over all others in attacking civil unrest elsewhere, is likely to destabilize Mexico for a very long time.)

  • Obama warns Israel against Iran Strike, Cancels Joint Military Exercises
    • I am glad to see the cancellation or postponement of this outrageous exercise, which was hardly needed to assure the Israelis about their future given our extensive military assistance and their death grip on our political system. I'd like to hope that we are not just postponing the war until after the election, when Obama won't have to worry about what the voters want.

  • Will Pakistan's Crisis affect US in Afghanistan
    • Another issue that is rarely mentioned is the kidnapping of Warren Weinstein, who was previously an AID officer and at the time was working for an AID contracting company. He's been held for 5 months, and neither government appears to be doing anything...Al-Qaida claimed to have taken charge of him. It's amazing to me that the press is not interested in this story.

  • A Murder in Tehran
    • Given that Mr. Obama seems to take special delight in ordering targeted assassinations, it's a reasonable speculation that he might have had something to do with it..

  • Iran Hype undermined by Obama Administration Admissions
    • Helen Marshall 01/11/2012 at 1:45 pm

      Speaking as a retired FSO who is very glad not to have to speak for US policy under Clinton (who's proving to be just as morally bankrupt as Condi Rice), her saber-rattling on Iran was just one of the reasons why I could not support her in 2008 and hope she is not going to continue in this or any role past 2012.

      I don't think I have ever heard anyone offer a vision of what Iran might have come to be if the two Dulles brothers had not induced "regime change" in 1953 at the behest of the oil companies, and installed the Shah and his cruel regime - which in turn set the stage for the Iranian Revolution. Imagine how the Mossadegh government might have led to decades of democratic, parliamentary democracy and what this example would have meant for the rest of the region!!! But no, we destroyed the future to ensure that the greed of the oil companies would not be restrained.

      And we could consider Guatemala as well...but no need to go there. The issue is simply that regime change has always been about ensuring that the One Percent continues to have its disparate share of the wealth, regardless of what damage is done to the welfare of the rest of us. If we do this again, it will be at the behest of the neoconservative supporters of Israel's increasingly fanatic government, and for the benefit of the "defense" industry - and the increase in petroleum prices will certainly be to at least the short-run benefit of Big Oil. The damage done to true US security and the welfare of the 99 percent of its citizens, not to mention the rest of the world, apparently is not of concern to these folks.

  • Assassinating Dreams in Egypt: Amr
    • Helen Marshall 11/28/2011 at 2:11 pm

      @Don Utter - exactly my comment. The OWS forces are trying hard, but if and when the repressive power of the federal government is turned upon them - perhaps utilizing the military as well as "civilian" security forces - the prospects are grim. Arnold Evans is correct - there is a force behind this counter-revolution, and it's not Egyptian.

      Ray McGovern's latest piece points out that long ago, the architect of containment, George Kennan, wrote that “We have about 50 per cent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 per cent of its population. … Our real task in the coming period is to maintain this position of disparity. … To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming. … We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford the luxury of altruism. … We should cease to talk about vague, unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we will have to deal in straight power concepts.” See link to

      It's pretty clear that the USG is determined to hang on to that disproportionate share of the wealth, at least for the 1%...and to protect Israel from the consequences of its policies, regardless of what it takes to do that. As Kennan said, forget those "unreal objectives" such as human rights.

  • Likud Government takes Revenge on Palestinians for UNESCO Membership
    • The decision of the Swedish government to stand with the US is very disturbing. It is one more piece of evidence that this government is not a neutral party but is allied with the US. Simultaneously, Julian Assange has lost his battle to prevent extradition from Sweden, and one has to ask, how long will it before before he is moved from London to Stockholm to the US, to be given the Bradley Manning treatment?

      Denmark is certainly no paragon when it comes to even-handed behavior toward Muslims, but it did not get in bed with Washington on this. Why did Sweden do this?

  • Iran Alleges Saudi Plot Story is MEK Sting
    • For Frank - Unfortunately it would not appear that the Obama administration is much protection against an attack on Iran, either by the US or by its "ally," Israel. Hillary Clinton has been rattling sabers against Iran for years, and most of the Congress, Democrat as well as Republican, is ready to do whatever the Israeli government says.

  • The Audacity of the Gaza Flotilla
    • There were diplomats in WWII who disobeyed orders and issued visas, or otherwise helped, refugees fleeing from the Nazis and their collaborators. Decades later we gave them recognition in the State Department. As a retiree, I tried to get the American Foreign Service Association to issue a statement of regret for the deaths in Baghdad when Blackwater thugs fired randomly while allegedly "protecting" diplomats in their convoys. I was told to "write a letter to the editor." A handful of diplomats resigned to protest the invasion of Iraq, but I'm not aware of anyone since protesting in any way, regardless of what Rice or Clinton say or what illegal acts we support. Our giant "embassies" in Iraq and Afghanistan are full of careerists who are advancing their personal careers regardless of what happens to the hapless people in these countries. It would be hard to recommend a Foreign Service career to a young person today.

  • Repeal the PATRIOT Act is the Lesson of Bush White House Spying
    • Thank you again Juan Cole for your forthright commentary. One has to wonder now what real difference it makes who is in the White House. I remember the warnings many years ago from less-fearful Senators about the power of the NSA. Now we are seeing it come to pass.

      Even those of us who simply voice criticism of the current president and his limp Attorney General and the past ignorant president and his pygmy AGs, or of the power-mad Republicans and Democrats in the we go on a list?

      From Chris Hedge's recent piece on Kafka's America:

      "We no longer have freedom; there is only the appearance of freedom. We are consumed by an endless and vague war on terror in which the perfidiousness of our enemy, whose number, location and nature are never clearly defined, justifies the shredding of constitutional rights, torture, kidnapping, detentions without charges or trials and an occult-like battle against an absolute evil. And if you think the state intends to limit itself to the persecution of Muslims, especially once there is an increase in domestic unrest and instability, you know little about human history."

  • Ret'd. CIA Official Alleges Bush White House Used Agency to "Get" Cole
    • Do we have any reason to believe that this practice is not continuing, say, with respect to critics of the treatment of Bradley Manning?

  • Gates & NATO: Misery Loves Company
    • Thank you Juan! I worked at the US Mission to NATO years ago, and that was the beginning of my understanding of the real US position in the world, not the fairy tale that we promote. Even during the Cold War, when there was really a purpose for NATO, the underlying principle of our NATO policy was to have a forum that we dominated and which would support our preferred force position in the world. Once the Wall fell, we tried to turn NATO into an instrument to encircle Russia, rather than really seize the opportunity to rethink our own national goals and reduce our bloated military spending.

      I fear that we have now reached a plateau in so many dysfunctional policies - e.g., our War machine, AKA the Pentagon, our War on Drugs - predicted long ago by Mancur Olson in the Decline of Nations. We may recognize that these policies harm the real national interest but those who benefit from them derive so much money from these policies, and are so totally focused on preventing any change, that absent a complete collapse no change will occur. We were able to do away with Prohibition because we had no defense contractors receiving billions of dollars for programs to enforce it. Today's Drug War benefits not only the law enforcement community but the private prison industry, the pharmaceutical industry (which does not want legal painkillers that can be grown in your garden beyond the reach of industry), AND major defense contractors who have received billions to enforce our current drug policy. The same applies, many times over, to the "defense" budget.

      Gates probably knows this, as he is certainly not stupid, but he has shown repeatedly in his career that he is willing to sell whatever he believes in to advance his personal interests.

  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • Helen Marshall 03/28/2011 at 4:17 am

      I am presently in Madrid, where there was a major debate in the legislature the other day about Spain's role in the intervention. Zapatero received almost total support - 3 votes against. This in a socialist government. The intervention has been clearly explained and accepted as an action to support the UN Security Council resolution, not as a declaration of war (which the King must announce on advice from the legislature). The public seems perfectly ok with this - there are no demonstrations underway.

      It could be quite useful to the Left in the US to read and consider the arguments in other countries, particularly those that are much more socialist/progressive than the US is!

  • Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu
    • Helen Marshall 02/03/2011 at 1:45 pm

      This is simply brilliant. We were deprived of TV and internet yesterday during the giant storm passing through southern New Mexico and far west Texas, and it was a horrible shock to find out today what Mubarak has unleashed - and what the US Government is doing in my name. I am deeply grateful that I am no longer an active-duty diplomat and do not have to tell anyone why this is a good policy.

      The indispensable nation, all right.

      In all our names.

      What can we do?

  • Bradley Manning and Mohamed Bouazizi
    • Fascism that pretends not to be fascism? And yet, out here in west Texas, the audulation of the "warrior" is beginning to feed into this picture. We don't take proper care of the poor souls who are fed into the military machine but we lionize them as warriors, apparently the only honorable profession other than business.

      Yes, Chalmers is a terrible loss. I hope that someone can carry on his work.

    • What will happen to the 42,000 people who signed the petition (I am among them) once it is delivered? The very fact one has to ask this question tells us where we are today....

      I agree with Madisolation; I've read Glenn Greenwald's comments about the putative improvements under Obama but frankly they seem trivial compared to the underlying reality - Obama and his team have solidified virtually all of the practices instituted by Bush and team, and given them a bipartisan stamp of approval. As a retired political science professor, I cannot imagine returning to the classroom and presenting the US system as a republic. What are we now exactly? Perhaps some one will devise a new model, not quite fascist, not quite monarchic, but a uniquely American form of repression.

  • Looking for PETN, Scanning Grandma at the Airport, and the Future of Air Travel
    • Second the comments already made on how to avoid terrorist attacks. We will have indefinite threats of terrorism into the endless future if we continue our course of Empire. The great Chalmers Johnson, who passed away on Saturday, reminded us of this constantly - and foresaw it in coining the term "Blowback." Perhaps only the end of this imperial era, via financial ruin if nothing else, will bring about a US that does not try to rule the globe - and, surprise! is no longer the favored target of terrorists. Let us hope this happens in a way that allows us to recover some of our lost liberties.

      Speaking as a cancer patient who has undergone intense radiation treatment, I am not willing to submit to any further radiation that is not medically required, regardless of how minimal it may be according to the government. I also have a port-a-cath installed in my chest for administration of chemotherapy, almost certainly forcing me to undergo invasive screening even if I do not opt out, which I will. So, to the difficulties of cancer treatment add the indignities of being assaulted by my own government in the name of security, although a few years ago I was an active employee of that government, working overseas on its behalf. Is US at the point where a retired US diplomat must be considered a likely carrier of PETN on a terrorist mission?

  • Bush-Cheney Use of Torture Derails Ghailani Prosecution
    • The same mind-set is responsible for the disdain for the Fourth Amendment represented by the invasive TSA search procedures at airports, which the TSA asserted yesterday it would not change in any way - except perhaps for pilots, given the need for pilots to conduct airline business. Apparently passengers are not needed? The authorities lie and lie about the capabilities of the body-scan machines, conduct pat-downs on three-year-old children, lie about the effectiveness of the machines and now require "enhanced pat-downs" (i.e., thinly-disguised sexual assault) to intimidate dissenting passengers into submission. This is another entry point for fascism. We are conditioned to do whatever we are ordered to do, in the name of "security." Just as convicting accused terrorists regardless of the evidence is for our "security."

      And shame on Eric Holder for saying that even if the jury freed Ghailani, he would be held indefinitely anyway!

  • US Troop Withdrawal in Iraq on Track
    • Yes, we left the Philippines, but ask the Japanese how easy it is to get the US to leave, no matter how strongly the locals want the bases to be gone...

  • Wright: Assassinations Strengthen Religious Terrorist Groups
    • I've just read the comments on the Wright article and they provide a disturbing picture of a society where a substantial percentage of the presumably well-educated persons (Times readers) who should have some idea of the Constitution and the notion that government-authorized assassinations are antithetic to it apparently have no difficulty at all in accepting the idea that such assassinations are OK. And sadly not a single member of the administration has tendered his or her resignation over the matter. If we keep this up we will indeed be fighting a "War" forever - and we will no longer be a society living under the Rule of Law. What happened to the country I used to think I lived in?

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