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joe from Lowell

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  • Time to Begin Leaving Afghanistan
    • Interesting story about the withdrawal from Iraq in today's Boston Globe:

      link to boston.com

      But those who are skittish about a proposed US withdrawal in 2014, saying it is too soon, have to tell us when exactly it won’t be too soon. It is the Afghans’ country; when will they be willing and able to fight for it?

      As we learned in Iraq, the promise and reality of a withdrawal is, itself, a necessary condition for making the country "ready" for us to leave. I get that people don't want to leave a power vacuum. I get the fear that hostile forces waging war against us will not be willing to make peace once we're gone. However, look at what happened when we signed the SOFA in Iraq, and when it became clear with Obama's victory that, yes, we were actually going to leave: it changed the internal political and security dynamics in the country. The government realized it wasn't going to be on "security welfare" and got serious about making peace with the insurgency. The insurgents realized that they didn't have to drive us out, and suddenly there became no reason for them to be aligned with the foreign jihadists. The militias reorganized themselves into political parties, and became willing to work within the political system, because they ceased to see the government as a tool of foreign occupation.

      The withdrawal from Iraq was not the abandonment of the effort to bring a situation in which we could effect a withdrawal under decent circumstances, but a necessary tool for us to use to bring about those circumstances. I suspect it will be the same thing in Afghanistan.

  • Congress: Yankee Come Home; Iraq, Pakistan: Yankee Go Home
    • Isn't rallying for the remaining US troops to leave Iraq a bit like rallying for January to come? I'll give you seven more months, or look out! Don't make me mad!

      This seems like a PR effort by a political party, and I think it's great to see the Sadrists acting like a political faction seeking to boost its visibility and vote share.

      Ballots, not bullets.

  • Junun Musician Ahmad: Bin Laden Demise a Great Good thing for Muslims
    • I don't think the professor's point was to assert an equivalency in the behavior or fanaticism of Wahabbists vs. Protestants, but to aid westerners' understanding of a certain Wahabbist doctrine by comparing it to a similar doctrine that Christians would understand.

      Yes, obviously, there are more Wahabbists who use violence to advance their religious doctrines than Protestants (at least these days), but that doesn't actually tell us anything about the doctrines themselves.

  • Taliban, al-Qaeda Flee N. Afghanistan as Morale Collapses with al-Qaeda admission of Bin Laden's Death
    • You've frequently been a critic of NATO fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, above and beyond the operational question of COIN. As I recall, you've frequently made the point for years now that the Taliban in Afghanistan are not al Qaeda, that "there are only 100 al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan," and now that turns out not to be true.

      Now that you, and I, and the rest of the world, have learned that this distinction is invalid, and that al Qaeda and the Taliban are still closely intertwined, just as they were in late 2001, doesn't that change anything in your thinking?

    • Al-Qaeda and the Taliban will regroup. War is a way of life for these people.

      Are you talking about Ay-rabs or about Musselmen when you say "these people?"

      Seriously, I find this "those people have been fighting each other for centuries" to have an unfortunate racist overtone. They said the same thing about the Yugoslav breakup. It's just the flip side of "These people don't understand anything but force."

    • It appears that the Taliban were still linked to, and perhaps taking direction from, al-Qaeda, more than most analysts had suspected. It also appears that Bin Laden had more of an operational, strategizing role than we had thought.

      I'm certainly surprised by this, and I daresay that I'm a great deal more supportive of the Af-Pak War than Prof. Cole or most of the readership here. (Not that I'm entirely supportive).

      So, Professor, does this new insight legitimize the last 9 years of American action in Afghanistan at all in your eyes?

  • Pakistani Military between Rock and Hard Place
    • "It turns out that the US military has to share the humiliation of Bin Laden’s having been right under their noses in Abbotabad."

      While it seems at first blush that the Pakistanis must or should obviously have known that bin Laden was in Abottabad, because of the large military facility and the presence of the retired intelligence and military personages there, upon consideration, this isn't necessarily true. In fact, just the opposite is true.

      The presence of these retired eminencies grises means that this is a city in which it is quite normal for some secretive character who keeps to himself to establish a large private retreat and avoid prying eyes. It's similar in a lot of suburbs around Washington, D.C.: Oh, look, someone bought a big piece of land and put a security fence around it. You can sometimes see security guards trying not to be obvious on and around the property. Who is it? Who knows, that sort of thing happens all the time.

      Now, this same behavior in Peoria, Illinois would attract all sorts of attention (probably most people would assume it was a drug dealer).

  • Anzalone, After Usama: The Jihadi-Takfiri Trend after Bin Laden
    • Anyone who has paid any attention to the Republican Party over the past two+ years has noticed that political activists can put forward scores of plausible-sounding, but bogus, justifications for their behavior. Look at the silly claims about Sonia Sotomayor being a racist, or the death panels in the ACA, or the pretense that Obama, who has presided over the lowest rate of taxation American has experiences in half a century, is an economy-crushing tax-raiser.

      The terrorist doesn't grow out of the soldier, but out of the protester/political activist. If American military action was the primary driver of anti-American terrorism, then where are all of the Iraqis carrying out terrorist attacks against the United States? We've been messing about militarily in Iraq for 20 years now. How about Afghanistan and Pakistan - where are the Afghan or Pakistani international jihadis? Meanwhile, the actual terrorists who launch attacks against the US keep coming from countries that are our allies, and who we haven't attacked. Look at the 9/11 hijackers: Saudis, Egyptians, Yemenis, and one Syrian. Bin Laden? Saudi. The courier we used to track him? Kuwaiti. The Underwear bomber? Nigerian. The Ft. Hood shooter? American. The shoe bomber? Jamaican/British. The Cole bombers? Yemeni. Sure, people from countries other than those that have been subject to military attack can still be bothered by that military attack, but if such opposition was the driving factor, wouldn't we expect to see a tilt towards those countries that we have attacked as the source of terrorists, rather than the rather dramatic tilt away from them?

      The reaction of Iraqis enraged by our invasion of Iraq, or Afghans enraged by our invasion there, or Pakistanis enraged by drone strikes, has been to pick up a rifle and join an actual military (or paramilitary) force conducting attacks on American military forces in their country.

      Go back to the original blowback theory, and you'll find that it referred to actions we took to back up and support unsavory governments, not to military attacks on them.

  • Obama right not to Release Usama Photo
    • You're asking for a corpse, or a photo of a corpse, before believing that bin Laden is dead.

      I'm asking when this has ever been the standard of proof you required.

    • Bin Laden already got his karma, hypocrite.

      You feign outrage that this butcher died violently, and then threaten millions of people with violent death, in a self-righteous tone?

      Whatever.

    • If decency & dignity were at play, the body wouldn’t have been dumped in the sea.

      I'm not sure where you're writing from or what your cultural background is, but in the West, and particularly among naval personnel, a sea burial is not merely
      "dumping the body at sea," but is a perfectly respectful funeral procedure. The United States Navy has similarly buried thousands of our own honored dead that way.

    • When was the last time you demanded to see a corpse or a photograph of a corpse before believing the report of someone's death?

    • That's too glib. There are all sorts of "behaviors" that are not wrong, but which we don't want flashed all over the media in lurid photographs.

      I wouldn't want my kids to see the aftermath of the most justified, defensive killing ever performed.

    • It should be released in several years, in order to satisfy history, after plenty of time has elapsed to allow emotions to cool off.

      Obama should have made it clear that he is ordering it sealed for the remainder of his presidency, and let his successors decide when the time is right.

  • No need for Torture. Did a Telephone Call to al-Qaeda in Iraq Unravel Bin Laden?
    • Obama seems no different.

      Well, except for the part where he banned torture.

      And denounced it in public.

      And doesn't defend it.

      But, yes, other than that, he seems no different from those who defend torture.

    • If there had been prosecutions, and, better, convictions for torture, then people defending it would be defending convicted criminals,and would reveal themselves for what they are.

      And if there had been acquittals? Of repeated hung juries?

      And during the trials, do you imagine that the surrogates wouldn't have been mounting even more of a full-court press to defend waterboarding?

  • Top Ten Myths about Bin Laden's Death
    • No, even then, it is evil.

      An evil act does not become good because it has material benefits. Most evil acts have material benefits.

    • Wow, there sure are a lot of people with expertise on conducting night raids by special forces on this thread.

      So, fellow Juan Cole Commenters, you think that the Navy SEALS totally didn't have a good reason to shoot Osama in that room? You can totally second-guess the statement that they were ready to accept a surrender.

      OK.

    • I disagree that there is a Myth # 11.

      For something to be a myth, there has to be somebody, somewhere who believes it.

      I don't think that's the case here.

    • I think you missed the point: the comparison was not between the amount of destruction attributable to Hitler and bin Laden, but to their positions as top commanders of their respective war-making organizations, and thus legitimate targets.

      Prof. Cole isn't drawing a moral comparison between the two, but a legal one.

    • Well, even in those circumstances, they would have been required to accept his surrender if they could safely do so.

      But he doesn't seem to have tried to surrender.

  • The Muslim World Sounds off on Bin Laden's Demise
  • Protesters Brave Live Crackdowns in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia
    • correct me if I am wrong, but attempted/actual assassination of any foreign leader/s is still against US federal law (unless that was changed under king george), if not against international law.

      During a state of war, anyone in the military chain of command, up to the C-in-C, is every bit as legitimate a target as a corporal driving a tank.

  • Russia & China Block Condemnation of Syria as 200 Baathists Resign
    • Yeah, that's it: the alleged misuse of the Libya resolution. Were it not for that, Russia and China would be pushing each other out of the way to support a resolution against Syria. Really, it's probably killing them that they had to oppose this - since supporting it would have been so completely in line with those government's past behavior - but whattygonna do? Those meanies in Paris and Washington all but forced them to oppose it.

    • Entrusting the UN Security Council with the authority to determine the legitimacy of international humanitarian interventions is the worst possible system of world government, except for all the others.

      The only notable development here is that Muammar Khadaffy managed to screw up badly enough that he didn't have a single world power willing to protect him. That's pretty impressive.

  • Corporate Welfare Royalty
    • The oil companies used to argue that they are performing a public service when they explore for new fields and develop them, which the public should pay for with the tax breaks and subsidies.

      And in, say, 1910, they were! It made sense to subsidize them through the tax code.

      Now, it doesn't. Now, it makes sense to subsidize alternatives. I don't blame the oil companies for taking the tax credits - that's our public policy, and that's the problem. Our energy/taxation policy needs to be improved.

  • Casio Watches an Arresting Offense in Afghanistan: Wikileaks on Guantanamo
    • Here you go, Ron:

      link to csmonitor.com

      Long story short: Congress included in the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act a ban on bringing any Guantanamo detainees to the United States, for either trial or incarceration.

    • I've neither written, suggested, nor even thought such a thing.

      You are arguing with a figment of your imagination.

    • As with so many other questions about the Bush administration, we're left to wonder: incompetence? Corruption? Criminality? Ideology? Some combination?

    • So, in other words, there is not a single word in my comment you take exception to, but it's so important that you find something negative to say about Barack Obama that you've decided to change the subject.

      BTW, Rahm Emmanuel? Really? Yes, I know: he was so determined that he went behind his boss's back and engineered a near-unanimous vote in both houses of Congress, blocking Obama's proposal, but only after Obama and Holder had stuck their necks out, expending political capital on an unpopular position, and argued for civilian trials for several months. Sure that makes sense.

    • Important background: these DABs were written between 2002 and January 2009.

      George Bush left office in January 2009.

      At the end of January 2009, Barack Obama ordered a review of all of these DABs, and many of them were thrown out and the detainees released.

      This is a look at the past.

  • The Tyrants Strike Back
    • Christians - Catholic Christians, anyway - ask saints for intercession. Saints are not deities, but elevated personages having influence with the Deity.

    • Looking only at moral principles, the cases for intervention in Syria vs. Libya are certainly similar, if differing in degree.

      However, there is a huge practical element to the question of intervention as well.

    • I love it when people ask questions they believe to be unanswerable debate-winners, but aren't.

      6. There are no lines separating the protesters and the Syrian military, making air strikes like those in Libya useless, if not actively counter-productive, to the protection of innocent civilians and protesters.

      So, now, a question for Dave: explained why you asked about "the US" in reference to an intervention requested by the Arab League, authorized by the UN, and led both politically and military by the UK and France.

  • Fighting Rages in Misrata despite Withdrawal Pledge
    • There's also this, from the Geneva Convention's definition of who qualifies for POW status:

      6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.

      Yes, UI, professional soldiers in a national military are held to high standards when it comes to uniform and insignia than ordinary people who take up arms against that military upon its approach.

    • It's funny watching the sides flip-flop.

      I can remember when it was the Iraq hawks constantly denouncing al Jazeera for being biased because they didn't put an ideologically-correct line.

    • Actually, international law doesn't require combatants to wear uniforms, only distinguishing insignia.

      At one point during the American War of Independence, the rebels were such a rag-tag, motley band that General Washington ordered everyone to stick a sprig of green in their hats or on their lapels, to serve as that distinguishing insignia.

  • Syrian Security fires on Protesters, Kills 90
    • Think of it as terrorism - the use of violence against a civilian population in order to coerce that population into or out of political behavior that the perpetrators desire.

    • I know you're asking these questions because you're quite certain they are unanswerable debate-winners, but they're actually rather easily disposed of.

      The UN Security Council isn't debating about intervention into Syria because the humanitarian situation in Syria, as bad as it is, still doesn't come within 1000 miles of the horrors awaiting Benghazi and Misurata the day the UN approved force in Libya. Such interventions should be reserved for only the worst cases - and I can't believe someone making an argument like yours would be unfamiliar with the concept of military force as a last resort.

      Also, the situation in Syria is quite a bit different from that in Libya, in terms of military operations. Libya had clear lines, across which a regular army was engaging in conventional warfare using infantry formations, armored vehicles, artillery, and air strikes. In other words, it was a situation in which the use of military force could be effectively brought to bear against the thugs who were the problem. In Syria, where police are firing on protesters in city and town centers, without any notable use of heavy military equipment, a military intervention would have a great deal of trouble targeting the thugs without also killing the protesters and lots of passersby.

      BTW, be careful what you wish for. Three weeks ago, it was the lack of action in the Ivory Coast that people like you pointed to to "prove" that the supporters of the Libya operation were hypocrites.

  • Free Libyan fighters exult in small Victories, as US begins Drone Strikes
    • "Stalemate? Well, it seems to me that each day that passes the rebels get stronger (from a low base) and Gaddafi weaker"

      Indeed. People who use words like "stalemate" and "protracted" thirty-something days into a war are either profoundly uninformed, or engaging in a sick sort of wishful thinking.

      It's frustrating on so many levels to see the degraded state of discussion about Libya from the Left. For one thing, the ignorance about even the most basic military concepts is appalling! Where is the brilliant policy-wonk insight that is so easy to find with liberals and leftists are talking about health care, or tax policy, or stimulus spending, or urban development, or climate change, or civil rights?

      It's like they consider actually knowledge, even informed-layman level knowledge, of military affairs to be a mark of shame, and all they need to know is what their ideology and feelings tell them.

    • I think that the way drones have been used in Pakistan - a sort of COIN from the sky - has given them a bad name, when the problem isn't actually the tool, but the use to which the craftsman has put it.

    • Agreed.

      We can't afford to be on the wrong side of history here, like we were when the farm workers in Central America rose up against the oligarchs, and we sided with the oligarchs. We ended up handing those movements to the Soviets, tied up in a pretty pink bow like a birthday present.

      If we stand with the dictators because of realpolitik concerns like basing rights and oil, we're going to end up doing the same thing.

    • Seeking asylum means they asked someone for permission to stay and be protected. That's the 100.

      The 200 language is more ambiguous. It could refer to the whole number of Gadaffi loyalists who were chased away, some of whom went into Tunisia, and some of whom asked for asylum from the Tunisians.

    • The US (and UK, and France, who are actually leading this operation) shouldn't "step in" anywhere without UN approval, as they received in the case of Libya. Nor should they "step in" in every situation in which a government is oppressing its people; only the most extreme, such as in Libya.

      Furthermore, nobody should be stepping in with a military solution unless faced with a clear military problem. Libya had two armies fighting each other, clear lines, and regular military forces fighting with military equipment. This is quite a different situation, in a practical, operational sense, than police opening fire on people in several cities.

      However, things are indeed getting

    • "but there is not much doubt about the outcome – more civilians killed than ever."

      Back in the real world, where it takes more than the "correct" ideological outlook to understand a military question, two days after the introduction of Predator drones into Misurata, the military formations that were indiscriminately firing high explosive and cluster munitions into the city full of civilians have been ordered to retreat.

      Given your obvious concern about civilian deaths, I trust you will now applaud this development, and revisit your argument.

    • 1. The difference between a couple dozen advisors and an actual foreign army capturing, holding, and occupying territory is rather significant, and shouldn't be glossed over in order to score a semantic victory.

      2. In point of fact, the drones are being used against the forces besieging Misurata, a city full of civilians that has been subject to indiscriminate use of high explosive and cluster munitions by government forces. Those forces have now been ordered to retreat from the city. Yes, that counts as protecting civilians.

      "By definition, defending is the opposite of attacking."

      There's your problem right there; rather than actually consider the question of whether attacking the forces slaughtering civilians in Misurata is a good way to defend those civilians, you've decided to define your way out of the question.

    • I, too, am disgusted and disheartened by the willingness of so many on the left to stoop to the type of demonization of Muslims that they decried when it was used by the conservatives during the Bush administration, or even when it was used by Pat Buchanan to denounce these same North African protesters.

    • Those three figures all refer to different things.

      13 detained, 100 asked for asylum, 200 fled. What's the problem?

    • I'd say that the absence of foreign troops is a necessary condition to avoid the protracted guerilla war and the genocide. Remember Iraq: the Baathist government had been overthrown and the insurgency was a mere trickle by mid-2003. It was the presence of foreign troops that sparked the Sunni and Shiite uprisings, and attracted al Qaeda terrorism to the country for the first time.

      This is why I can't get on board with the calls for NATO to send in forces and finish the war quickly, and why I can't respect the arguments that it is an "embarrassment" for France, Britain, and the US that this episode hasn't ended.

      We can play a French-fleet-at-Yorktown role, but it has to by Libyans themselves who free their country; otherwise, we're just setting the stage for another Iraq-type situation.

    • I'm curious why you call Bahrain the most critical situation. It's certainly not the greatest humanitarian crisis, nor even close. It hasn't seen the largest protests, nor even close. It's not the largest country, nor even close. And it doesn't have the most oppressive government, nor even close.

    • Exactly right.

      We should never forget the mistakes we made in the Cold War, when our fear of the anti-oligarch uprisings in Latin America and the anti-colonial uprisings elsewhere being fronts for Communism led us to be on the wrong side of history, and ended up handing those uprisings to the Soviets in a gift basket with a pretty pink bow. We brought about the very thing we feared most.

      We are, in a sense, in a contest with al Qaeda for the loyalty of the Arab Spring uprisings. If we don't back them, they will turn elsewhere for help, and we know what that means.

  • Thousands Protest in Syria as Emergency Law is Lifted
    • The key is to have an independent judiciary, that doesn't depend on the government officials it is charged with overseeing for its position and authority.

      If there isn't somebody empowered to enforce these protections against the security services, against the government, they're just pretty words.

  • Bush's Pre-War Iraq Oil Deals Alarmed BP
    • Gadaffi was happily selling his oil to the west, and western oil companies were making a fortune in his fields. It was the rebellion that interrupted this little arrangement, and all we had to do to keep the party going was to politely avert our eyes while the oil dictator slaughtered his opposition, as we've done so many times before.

      Instead, we backed the very rebellion that has spoiled the party, and are doing so in a manner that has kept the disruption going for weeks on end. We did this, immediately after having helped grease the skids for the removal of reliable American allies in Egypt and Tunisia.

      But it's gotta be all about oil, because by definition, it's gotta be, facts be damned.

    • "If so, Bush did have a plan, but it didn’t work."

      Let's not forget the sorry spectacle of Ahmed Chalabi and a couple hundred mercenaries being flown into Iraq and staged as a de Gaulle returning to Paris parade.

      That was the plan - our little stooge, The George Washington of Iraq, was going to be greeted with flowers, be set up as strongman, and run the country as a good little satellite state.

      As it turned out, Iraq in 2003 isn't actually Honduras in the 1950s.

    • That's great, except for a few "minor" problems:

      1. The piece you linked to doesn't discuss oil.

      2. We sided with the Muslim Brotherhood, and against our old ally Mubarak, in Egypt, greasing the skids for his departure and helping to pry the military away from him, in order to help the popular coalition, which included the Muslim Brotherhood, throw out a cooperative government and open the door to a great unknown.

      3. Kadhaffy was happily selling his oil to the west, and it was the rebellion that interrupted the party - the rebellion we backed and prevented from being wiped out, thus extending the period of oil interruptions and setting off the current price spike in the United States.

  • Saif admits Qaddafis are Brutal Foreign Occupiers
    • Adam,

      Ben's formulation, ending with, "Okay...," was meant to indicate sarcasm. He isn't agreeing with Jim; he's expressing shock and disgust at Jim's statement.

    • joe from Lowell 04/19/2011 at 4:20 pm

      Professor Cole,

      A couple weeks ago, I wrote a comment taking you to task for referring to people as "defenders" of the Khadaffy government. I was reminded of the bogus slurs hurled at Iraq War opponents, like you and me, who had never written a kind word about Saddam Hussein in our lives, but who were being accused of defending Saddam by the war's proponents. I wrote that your characterization of opponents of the Libya mission was similarly unfair.

      I'd like to apologize for that comment, Professor. There really are people out there, sometimes on these very threads, who laud Khadaffy as a great socialist and anti-imperialist, in a way that nobody did regarding Saddam Hussein.

  • Arab Spring Protests Continue
    • I find it strange to see the protests in Baghdad listed along with the others.

      Malaki is an elected leader, and if the Iraqis don't like him, they can vote him out of office.

      The people protesting Assad, Saleh, or Gadaffi wish they had that opportunity.

      That is to say, the Sadrists are taking part in democratic politics with this rally. The others are rallying for democratic politics itself.

  • Qaddafi Using Cluster bombs on Civilian Areas
    • Is it possible any more to coherently claim that the war is benefiting the civilian population and saving lives?

      It's not only possible, but more and more obvious with each passing day, as the evidence of Gadaffi's atrocities keeps coming out.

      "Now, the U.S. and its allies declare that they’ll fight until Qaddafi steps down (which would lead to his execution)."

      Huh? Dictators step down and enjoy cushy retirements in other countries all the time.

    • joe from Lowell 04/16/2011 at 5:39 pm

      UN response, you mean.

      And among the more obvious answers are:

      Because the use of cluster munitions isn't the justification for the Libya intervention.

      Because the humanitarian threat in Libya was, literally, a hundred times worse.

      Because the president in 2006 was George W. Bush, who hadn't the slightest interest in either UN action or in humanitarian intervention.

  • Allies Insist on Qaddafi departure
    • joe from Lowell 04/16/2011 at 5:49 pm

      Well, you're up to a half-truth.

      The true half is that there has been extensive fraud and waste.

      The false half is that there has been "very little" rebuilding. In point of fact, there has been a great deal of rebuilding, despite the fraud and waste.

    • Some highlights for you: Government forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, have fired cluster munitions into residential areas in the western city of Misrata, posing a grave risk to civilians, Human Rights Watch said today.

      Human Rights Watch observed at least three cluster munitions explode over the el-Shawahda neighborhood in Misrata on the night of April 14, 2011. Researchers inspected the remnants of a cluster submunition and interviewed witnesses to two other apparent cluster munition strikes.

      “It’s appalling that Libya is using this weapon, especially in a residential area,” said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch. “They pose a huge risk to civilians, both during attacks because of their indiscriminate nature and afterward because of the still-dangerous unexploded duds scattered about.”

      The area where Human Rights Watch witnessed the use of cluster munitions is about 1 kilometer from the front line between rebels and government forces. The submunitions appear to have landed about 300 meters from Misrata hospital. Human Rights Watch could not inspect the impact sites due to security concerns.’

    • Human Rights Watch's statement is here: link to hrw.org

      So, tell me: how does one use cluster munitions in a residential area in a "narrowly targeted" manner?

    • Even if the Qaddafi forces return to their barracks, NATO will keep pummeling them until regime change.

      I believe you just made that up. There are military assets in Libya that are not being struck.

      I don’t see much movement to rebuild Iraq

      Actually, the US has been spending billions of dollars on Iraqi reconstruction, and has been doing so for years. Now, whether that's a good idea, or whether it's a good idea to try to do reconstruction when there is still an insurgency going on, is another question.

  • Free Libya plans Tripoli Uprising as Doha Conference Urges More Help to Civilians
    • joe from Lowell 04/16/2011 at 5:58 pm

      "Please cite anything you feel was false."

      Happily: "Moammar Khadafy is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government."

      False, as the actual Human Rights Watch report definitively demonstrates.

      Unless you'd care to take me up on my offer to explain how the use of cluster munitions a kilometer away from the fighting, but a block away from a hospital in the midst of a an urban neighborhood, is "narrowly targeting the armed rebels."

      "With regard to Qaddafi’s use of cluster bombs, or as Obama’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calls them...."

      Kindly stop changing the subject when faced with inconvenient facts. This is a thread about the war in Libya. Thanks.

    • joe from Lowell 04/16/2011 at 5:54 pm

      The UN resolution, authorizing force to protect the civilian population as the pro-Gadaffi forces closed in on Benghazi, while the sponsoring countries put forward that estimate, is evidence enough.

      Far more important than merely issuing a statement with a number in it, the UN actually took action, the most significant action they can take - the authorization of military force against a member-state, in response to the extraordinary threat to the civilians of Benghazi.

      FYI, I didn't bother to read your off-topic link, because I don't intend to allow you to change the subject. Although it is interesting to see which side you've taken.

    • joe from Lowell 04/15/2011 at 10:55 pm

      You seem to have forgotten that this episode goes back further than the beginning of open warfare, and that in fact, the protesters did attempt to use peaceful means, and did not initially demand Gadaffi step down.

      He responded with artillery, tanks, and air strikes on the crowds of protesters.

      Since the beginning of the violence predated the global community's intervention, it's most likely that it would extend beyond it as well.

    • joe from Lowell 04/15/2011 at 10:52 pm

      I think her point is that you are posting false, misleading, dishonest information, and that in point of fact, Human Rights Watch says exactly the opposite of what you claim. From Human Rights Watch itself, and not somebody spinning HRW without actually quoting them:

      Government forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, have fired cluster munitions into residential areas in the western city of Misrata, posing a grave risk to civilians, Human Rights Watch said today.

      Human Rights Watch observed at least three cluster munitions explode over the el-Shawahda neighborhood in Misrata on the night of April 14, 2011. Researchers inspected the remnants of a cluster submunition and interviewed witnesses to two other apparent cluster munition strikes.

      “It’s appalling that Libya is using this weapon, especially in a residential area,” said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch. “They pose a huge risk to civilians, both during attacks because of their indiscriminate nature and afterward because of the still-dangerous unexploded duds scattered about.”

      “Libya needs to halt the use of these weapons immediately, and take all steps to ensure that civilians are protected from the deadly remnants they have left behind,” Goose said.

      The area where Human Rights Watch witnessed the use of cluster munitions is about 1 kilometer from the front line between rebels and government forces. The submunitions appear to have landed about 300 meters from Misrata hospital. Human Rights Watch could not inspect the impact sites due to security concerns.’

      Perhaps you can explain to us how the use of cluster munitions in residential areas a kilometer away from the lines, but a block away from a hospital, is "carefully targeted."

    • joe from Lowell 04/15/2011 at 10:45 pm

      The United Nations?

      And your credible sources for doubting them are...?

    • Well, you've convinced me. We should have let 100,000 people die in Benghazi, because the govenrment of Qatar doesn't meet your standards.

  • Misrata's People under Siege
    • "Hillary Clinton’s subsequent “Bomb first, ask questions later” approach to US relations with Libya"

      There is no way to comport this characterization with reality. The US used the same diplomatic efforts in Libya that it used to grease the skids for Mubarak's exit in Egypt, pursuing this stance for weeks, even after the fighting started, and agreeing to use force only when a massive crime against humanity was hours from being committed.

    • That would be a great argument, if the US wasn't leaving Iraq.

    • joe from Lowell 04/14/2011 at 11:55 am

      Wait wait wait - Barack Obama started the war in Libya?

      You sure about that?

      Because I'm pretty sure there was a war in Libya before Barack Obama got there.

  • AU proposes Ceasefire, NATO protects Misrata, Ajdabiya
    • joe from Lowell 04/13/2011 at 12:35 am

      Ah, gotcha.

    • "Is it being suggested that the AU wasn’t in Darfur (Sudan)?"

      I don't see any such suggestion from Cole. I'm not sure what your term "suggestions I’ve heard by many about the AU in Darfur" refers to. Is this something you've seen come up in discussions about Libya somewhere?

      And ditto on the western media's recent discovery of technicals.

    • joe from Lowell 04/11/2011 at 5:37 pm

      "[Far away from his own territory, Qaddafi spread terror through his terrorist training camp, the World Revolutionary Center.]

      This language is unmistakably Safirean."

      Is it false? I'd be far more interested in the answer to that question. True statements and false statements both use language, yes, but that's not really the point.

    • joe from Lowell 04/11/2011 at 5:26 pm

      If he can be gotten out of power and the Benghazi government can establish a parliamentary system, not only Libya but all Africa will have achieved a great step forward.

      Oh, everybody knew that six weeks ago. Everyone was cheering on the latest group of brave protesters aiming to topple their dictator, just like in Egypt and Tunisia.

      But then, they had the terribly poor taste to find themselves being slaughtered by their dictator, and have the temerity to fight back and ask for help from the democratic nations of the world so they wouldn't die by the five- or six-figures. That's when the "anti-imperialists" decided that, no, actually, those protesters are skeery al Qaeda Mooslims, and we certainly don't like that sort of ruffian.

  • Al-Sadr Threatens Mahdi Army Revival if US Troops Stay
    • joe from Lowell 04/10/2011 at 5:10 pm

      It is quite obvious that they are part of a contingency plan to bomb whoever is being inconvenient at the time.

      They certainly were. Even before the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration was planning to build bases in Iraq to replace those in Saudi Arabia. The House of Saud didn't want a U.S. military presence, and the Bushes are very close to the Sauds, so the plan was to use Iraqi bases to project power in the MENA region instead of Saudi bases.

      It wasn't until years later that the Bush administration was forced to give up on establishing permanent American bases in Iraq. Then-Senator Obama was opposed to them from the beginning.

  • Hundreds of Thousands of Arabs Protest their Governments
    • joe from Lowell 04/09/2011 at 10:26 pm

      I'm not terribly happy with the budget cuts either, Professor, but let's keep some perspective.

      Anyway, Godspeed to the AU peacemakers. I wouldn't bet the mortgage on them, but I pray they succeed in bringing about the political solution in Libya.

  • Thomas Jefferson in Arabic
    • joe from Lowell 04/08/2011 at 12:51 pm

      When the first hydrogen-powered production car goes on sale, is your first reaction going to be howl that it still has tires, doors, windshield wipers, and a transmission?

      Or do you think that, despite have some things in common with every other previous and contemporary car, the breakthrough of the hydrogen engine will be worth noting and commenting upon?

      Gee, Thomas Jefferson had an 18th-century view of American Indians. That truly is the most important point to make when discussing his political writing.

  • Crackdowns Against Arab Spring Continue
    • The Obama administration has finally decided that Saleh must go.

      I would like to point out that this represents the third time in the past few months that the Obama administration has chucked overboard a cooperative Middle Eastern dictator because of his human rights violations and refusal to push forward with democratic reforms in the face of popular protests.

      Which makes all of the blather about "imperialist," "colonial" Obama fighting a War for Oil in Libya look pretty ridiculous.

      We're clearly not talking about cold-blooded, material-interest-based realpolitik as the driving factor of the Obama administration's response to the popular uprisings and resulting crackdowns in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and now Yemen. Obama's actions i/r/t Libya are clearly of a piece with his political and diplomatic efforts in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and pre-slaughter Libya, and any analysis of the Libyan intervention needs to start with that.

  • Westbrook: Half-Measures in Libya will Fail
    • joe from Lowell 04/03/2011 at 10:23 pm

      This author's discussion of the decision to wage limited war in support of the Libyan rebels fails to incorporate the reality of internal Libyan politics, and the consequences on Libyan politics of the presence of American troops in Libya, into its analysis. Simply dismissing the consequences of a heavy American ground footprint in Libya as a "lack of seriousness" doesn't change the reality that, as far as the politics and history of Libya are concerned, a campaign against Gadaffi led mainly by American military forces, and a campaign against him led by Libyan dissidents and defectors, are two very different things.

      This observation should be particularly in the front of one's mind in the aftermath of the "democratization" of Iraq.

  • Questions for Glenn Greenwald on Libya and the end of NATO
  • Afghan Protests against Qur'an-Burning cause Deaths
    • joe from Lowell 04/03/2011 at 10:36 pm

      I'm confused. The protesters and rebels we're helping in Libya - are they Buddhists?

    • joe from Lowell 04/02/2011 at 11:05 am

      I've supported the Afghan/AfPak War all along, but this wave of uprisings across the Greater Middle East changes everything. We cannot afford to be on the wrong side of history here, like we were on the wrong side of history when the masses rose up against the oligarchs in 20th century Central America, or we'll end up both abandoning our values and handing those movements to our enemies in a gift-wrapped basket, just like we did during the Cold War

      We cannot afford to be the targets of "Days of Rage" in Afghanistan.

  • 7 Dead in Syria Unrest
    • The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood seems to be quite a bit better at math than a lot of western "anti-imperialists" shouting about double standards.

      It's a damn shame that security forces are killing tens, dozens, even scores of people in places like Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. That's still about a thousand times less that what we were looking at happening in Libya.

      Military force and foreign intervention need to be a last resort, reserved for only the most extreme cases. It's odd, after the Bush years, to see this point being embraced by the interventionists and seemingly forgotten by the anti-s.

  • Answer to Glenn Greenwald
    • I think you were wrong back then, Professor. Bush and Cheney weren't just advocating that the war in Vietnam be fought; they were advocating that unwilling men be drafted into the military to fight it. In other words, they were advocates for the position that it was the duty of every young man in the country to subject himself to the war, while working to exempt themselves. That is gross hypocrisy.

      Take away the draft, and the moral calculus changes. You are now advocating that people who volunteer to fight this nation's wars, do so. The "Why don't you fight it yourself?" argument now becomes the equivalent of saying that only people who become professional teachers can advocate for public schools, only people who become nurse's aids can advocate for universal government health car (or even, any government health care), or that only people who work in homeless shelters can advocate for housing programs.

  • Obama on Libya vs. Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich and Carrot Top
    • joe from Lowell 03/29/2011 at 4:42 pm

      Are you aware that there is already a UN protective mission in the Ivory Coast?

      I agree, it should be upgraded.

    • joe from Lowell 03/29/2011 at 4:41 pm

      atrocities that Mr. Cole finds so vile when committed by the Libyan authorities

      If you think the crackdown in Bahrain is even remotely in the same ballbark as the crackdown in Libya, you need to enrich your understanding of the facts on the ground.

      There’s that term “pragmatism” again.

      Ohnoes! The consideration of consequences as a guide to decision-making! Hold me, mommy!

      as they bombed another Third World nation into the Stone Age?

      Again, if you think this is remotely accurate as a description of what's going on in Libya, you need to do some reading.

      Obama has already proven himself a liar when he said it would only be a matter of “days, not weeks.”

      The bombing campaign began nine days ago, but thanks for playing.

    • joe from Lowell 03/29/2011 at 4:36 pm

      The rightful power of the Congress to pass the War Powers Resolution and the UN Participation Act is perfectly constitutional.

      And Obama's actions here are quite plainly legal under both laws.

      If Congress wants to change the law, and apply their war powers in some other way, they can do that. I wouldn't hold my breath.

  • Women's Rallies in Libya Protest Rape
    • The propaganda being made that Gaddafi’s forces are using Viagra and condoms is simply ridiculous.

      Is there any reason why you're accusing the physician on the ground of being a liar, beyond his story being inconvenient for your preferred policy outcome?

    • Posting atrocity stories is a cop-out? I thought it was documenting what was happening.

      I fall back on the age-old "Craig Murray Doctrine."

      Posting atrocity stories is a cop-out when doing so promotes a policy that Craig Murray doesn't like.

  • Top Ten Accomplishments of the UN No-Fly Zone
    • joe from Lowell 03/24/2011 at 7:28 pm

      I'm afraid the "War for Oil" line doesn't make any sense here. Khadaffy was happily selling all the oil he could, at market price, to western powers. John McCain and Halliburton were there, cutting deals.

      Then, a protest movement broke out, and turned into a rebellion, and that rebellion caused the flow of oil to be interrupted.

      Then, Khadaffy was about to crush the rebellion and go back to the status quo ante - selling his oil to the west - when we intervened to keep the rebellion going, but not in a way that would definitely and quickly lead to Khadaffy's overthrow, and which didn't put western troops into the country to assert control.

      How that adds up to War for Oil is beyond me.

    • joe from Lowell 03/24/2011 at 3:56 pm

      The Egyptian & Tunisian protesters never took up arms

      The Egyptian and Tunisian protesters weren't fired upon by tanks, artillery, and aerial bombardment.

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
    • joe from Lowell 03/22/2011 at 8:09 pm

      There's a timeline, Dinh Le.

      First, the protesters were peaceful and unarmed, and Khadaffy slaughtered them.

      Then, they started to take up arms, and were joined by elements of the military who refused to take part in the slaughter.

      Certainly, there are armed men now.

    • joe from Lowell 03/22/2011 at 8:06 pm

      Local forces, not just invading outsiders, are doing the fighting, and they're committed to taking out the government and establishing a new one themselves.

      As opposed to a partial invasion by outside powers that didn't have any intention of going to Baghdad.

  • Al-Maliki: US Troops Out!
    • George Bush was forced into the SOFA, and made no bones about his opposition to withdrawing from Iraq. He "neotiated" the SOFA in approximately the same way a suspect "negotiates" an agreement to plead guilty.

      This revisionist history in which George Bush was anything but forced out of Iraq isn't going fool anybody. We all remember "cut and run" and the effort to replace the Saudi bases with Iraqi bases.

  • Top Ten Myths about Afghanistan, 2010
    • #7 is a total nonsequiter. Because people in part of Afghanistan haven't heard of 9/11, that means that we weren't justified in attacking al Qaeda's headquarters after 9/11? Does not follow. Does not even make sense.

      #1 makes even less sense. Whereas Afghanistan used to be al Qaeda's headquarters, will thousands of active trainees and a military force, working in cooperation with the sovereign government, now after fighting a war there for several years, there are only a few al Qaeda left.

      Gee, Professor, how do you think that happened? I guess bin Laden and his cronies decided sometime in 2005 that they didn't like the climate? Maybe they couldn't get good takeout? Not much of an indie music scene?

      What a terrible argument.

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