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Total number of comments: 76 (since 2013-11-28 14:43:01)


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  • Why Americans are Angry: The Minimum Wage Trap
    • My daughter works in a grocery store that is part of a national chain. She described how many workers are on food stamps. The store gets credit (tax?) for employing workers on food stamps. Her conclusion is that they are more than happy to keep them on food stamps and keep their wages below the threshold where food stamps would not be necessary...

  • Israel: Friedman of the NY Times surrenders to One-State Solution, sees ME Apocalypse
    • Hello Tom! Congratulations on your epiphany! Unfortunately, it's about 20 years late. Anyone who watched Bibi and Sharon destroy the Oslo agreements back in the 1990s knew that a two state solution was never in the cards. But ignoring the obvious certainly provided time and cover for the settlements to get ever more entrenched and for the situation to get even worse.

  • Williams Affair: Reagan and Bush Lied about Military Records but Get a Pass
    • At least now it's official--the mainstream media lies, just like politicians. The difference is that the public expects reporters to be more honest than politicians, which is a curious expectation, given all the lies broadcast during the run-up to recent wars.

  • 5 Top Reasons Romney ought to have Withdrawn
    • I'll miss Romney. I so loved watching self-righteous Christian fundamentalists voting for a Mormon...

      The only thing that could be better is if the Republicans nominated an atheist, and Christian fundamentalists voted for him.

  • Whatever Happened to besieged Kurdish City of Kobane, Syria?
    • Amazing how the media one day decides to cover a story, the next day not to cover it. The media, which is supposedly an independent group of cats, acts more like an army, today deployed to this front, tomorrow to another on orders of the commander...

  • The Last Days of Kobani Loom as ISIL Closes in on Syrian Kurds with Murder on its Mind
    • What's all the fuss about Kobani? This dusty town on the Turkish border has no strategic significance. It is NOT Dien Bien Phu, though the media seems to like to treat it as such.

      The "international community" needs to back off and get some perspective on the relative significance of events in Iraq. IMO this is just NOT all that important...

  • Why is Kobani Important? ISIS advances against Syrian Kurds despite US Airstrikes
    • NOT convincing. This does not answer the question of why Konbani is any more significant than, say, Hit.

      It also does not answer the question as to why Kobani refugees deserve more sympathy than the millions of refugees the US created during its occupation of Iraq.

      And now the drums are beating in Congress for the US to do more of what it did to Iraq from 2003 to 2009. Will the bleeding hearts stop more US destruction of Iraq!

  • Top 10 Mistakes of former Iraq PM Nouri al-Maliki (That Ruined his Country)
    • Yes, Maliki had his faults. But let's not overlook the importance of the Sunnis' fall from their longstanding position of power and privilege, dating back centuries. They did not take that well. They were not about to cooperate with Maliki. Far from it. They were determined to subvert him. And they succeeded.

      There is plenty of blame to be shared here. And assigning Maliki as the problem is a gross oversimplification and does little to enlighten readers on the magnitude of the problem that the former Iraq had.

  • Neo-Zangid State erases Syria-Iraq Border, cuts Hizbullah off from Iran
    • The new state looks suspiciously like the map of the Northern Mesopotamian Arabic dialect. When I went to the region I was struck by the difference with Levantine Arabic in cadence and intonation.
      link to

      Ethnic, religious and tribal differences in Iraq have featured prominently in the news, but an underlying linguistic difference should not be discounted in fostering separatist identity. Could the dialect date to the era of the Zangis? Or perhaps it just shows a long term ethnic division of the region.

  • Egypt, Syria, Libya . . . . What is the Appeal of Phoney Elections in the Middle East?
    • There is nothing new here, though it's worth reminding people regularly. Washington has long used elections to legitimize its satraps. A classic election was Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada's election as President of Bolivia in 2002 with 22.5% of the vote. But when Evo Morales won a clear majority of the votes a couple years later, Washington was not happy. And when Venezuelans give majority support to Chavez and Maduro, the US declares the result invalid and illegitimate, despite the presence of international observers, because Washington's guy didn't win!

      The difference now is that others have caught on to how the game is played. If Washington can makes elections sacrosanct, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Crimea, and Ukraine can make elections sacrosanct, too. If Washington can hold phoney elections and declare them legitimate, so can others.

      Lots of countries, not just the US, can play the US' own phoney freedom, democracy, and human rights game.

  • GOP holds hearings but in the Real Benghazi a Retired Col. is bombarding Extremists
  • Top 10 Reasons GOP Benghazi Witch Hunt is just a Campaign Fundraising Ploy
    • Seymour Hersh reported on the issue of a CIA rat line supplying Syrian jihadis from Benghazi via Turkey. Why doesn't Congress investigate that? Why doesn't JC permit comments that reference it?

  • GOP Armed Services Chair: Dropping Benghazi, Military did all it Could (Is the Witch Hunt Over?)
    • "What I can’t understand is if the GOP is so concerned about Benghazi ." Answer--it's all about Hillary and her competence, which is actually a good question, but not because of Benghazi...

  • Kerry Blasts Climate Denialists, equates Climate Change with Terrorism, WMDs
    • Kerry said, " I urge governments to measure the full cost to that coal and that oil, measure the impacts of what will happen as we go down the road. "

      But will he take his own advice and kill Keystone?

      Hectoring others is easy, particularly for notorious hypocrites like Kerry.

  • Trashing the Law against warrantless GPS tracking: NSA nabs 5 Billion Phone location Records a Day
    • This explains why Alexander and Clapper refused to answer Wyden's direct question to them about whether they were collecting Americans' cell phone location data.

      It's pretty shocking that a government agency could get away with refusing to answer questions of an oversight committee. It only confirms that the intelligence community, which represents over 0.5% of GDP, is uncontrollable and unaccountable.

  • NSA monitored visits of "Radicalizers" to Chat Rooms, Skin Sites to Discredit Them
    • Ever wonder what happened to Scott Ritter, the former UN arms inspector and critic of the Iraq war? He got caught in a child pornography sting and sentenced to 5 1/2 years in jail.

      The police narrative goes: "one of only five full-time police officers in tiny Barrett Township, Pa., decided to spend some time hunting for sexual predators online." Wow, what a lucky hunch he had!!!
      link to

      This is exactly the kind of stuff the can happen when the NSA monitors activists.

  • US-Iran War Averted by Agreement to Negotiate on Nuclear Enrichment
    • Presumably the deal contains a provision to allow Iran to purchase uranium enriched to 20% to supply the Tehran Research Reactor, a medical facility. If everyone recalls, it was Obama's decision to politicize and embargo such purchases that led Iran to enrich to 20% in the first place.

      Let's hope that Obama and other Western politicians learned the lesson that messing with people's critical supplies--in this case 20% uranium--motivates people to find their own solutions. In this case it fundamentally undermined nuclear non-proliferation (one of Obama's many less than brilliant decisions.)

  • Syrian Civil War Spreads to Lebanon: Beirut Shaken by Iran Embassy Blast, kills 23, wounds 150
    • Hariri and Geagea can complain all they want about Hizbullah's involvement, but they know that their partisans have been deeply involved in supporting the Syrian rebels with arms, medical supplies and video equipment since the outset. The main difference is that Hizbullah openly sent part of its militia to fight, perhaps because Hizbullah's is the only militia strong enough and organized enough to do so.

  • State of Emergency in Libyan Capital as More Militia Clashes Break Out
    • The fruits of a faux-R2P war...

      Now why did Juan Cole support it in the first place?

  • Our Gasoline thirst fuels Mideast Fundamentalism, Violence - EVs are the Answer
    • Electricity is generated by coal and the Koch brothers in many places. Electricity generated by natural gas is brought to us courtesy of fracking.

      I'm not sure how to rank the terrorists...

  • Elites Stick together against Us: Feinstein Slams NSA Merkel Tap
    • What probably outrages Feinstein most is that it finally dawned on her that her calls are most likely being tapped, too. No one is immune. In the eyes of the NSA, she is no better that the lowliest peasant. In fact, she is probably being monitored more closely than the lowliest peasant, since her opinions actually count a little bit.

      Ouch! The hurts! Elites are supposed to be treated with kid gloves, not like common criminals!

  • Ghoul's Glossary: Shutdown
    • The stage is set for a gigantic giveaway by George W. Obama. How much of the social safety net will he trash? And Democratic officialdumb will tearfully opine, "he did it only because he was blackmailed." Horse feathers!

      We know better. Contrary to 2008, Obama has a record.

  • Is Iran Ready to do a Deal with Obama over its Nuclear Program?
    • The real question is: what will it take for the US to do a deal? Iran under Ahmadinejad already agreed to a deal. If you recall, it was shepherded by Turkey and Brazil and met Obama's conditions. Obama rejected it out of hand.

      I don't understand this obsession with analyzing what it would take for Iran to do a deal. Why is there so little analysis of American intransigence and what it would take to overcome it?

  • Iran's Rouhani: Not Seeking the Bomb, Willing to show Flexibility
    • If what you are saying is correct, Obama has once again painted himself into a corner. He could have accepted the intelligence community's assessment. Instead, he actively cried 'wolf' along with Netanyahu. Just because walking back his lies is inconvenient and embarrassing doesn't mean that he shouldn't respond to Rouhani's overtures. To do otherwise pins the onus for the problem squarely on the United States.

    • As we all should know, Iran's nuclear program is only a peripheral issue. After all, the consensus opinion of the US intelligence community is that Iran has no nuclear weapons program. It is only Western and Israeli politicians, think tanks and media that promote the nuclear narrative.

      The real issue is the regime, and the real goal is regime change. Anything Rouhani does will not change that without a fundamental change in US policy.

      What Rouhani's positive signals will do, however, is show the rest of the world where the real obstacle lies.

  • UN Report Conclusive Sarin used on wide Scale, Points to Syrian Regime
    • From US intelligence? What US intelligence? Has anybody seen US intelligence? Congress hasn't. The American people haven't.

      Where's the beef?

    • The first puzzle has been solved: it was sarin. How did John Kerry KNOW it was sarin with no evidence?

      The second puzzle remains to be solved: the attack was staged either by Assad...or by a well planned false flag operation (maybe Qaddhafi has some weapons that found their way to the rebels?)

      Finally, if Assad did it, why haven't rabid interventionists learned from experience that a military solution is typically counterproductive and leads to a quagmire (Afghanistan, Iraq) or chaos (Libya)?

      Why do so many in power want to resort so quickly to the caveman option for solving problems? Are they no more than pawns of a deep state?

  • 7 Million Displaced Syrians, Bayda Massacre, & other Reports you Didn't see on American TV
    • Yes, the media has been pretty much missing in action, disseminating only what the US government deems appropriate.

      What continues to amaze me most is that we have this running toll of deaths and refugees in Syria. Compare this to the Iraq War, where we never knew how many were killed and displaced and still don't five years later.

      How could the Western media be so precise about its body counts in Syria and so impotent in Iraq? Could it be that the high Syrian death and refugee totals are as much a propaganda figure as the lack of body counts in Iraq (and Libya)?

      Message: if it's America's war there are no deaths. If someone America doesn't like is putting down a rebellion, that someone is killing enormous numbers of his own people.

  • How America's 'Espionage Empire' is Paid for: The 'Black Budget' (Queally)
    • To give an idea of scale, only 6 countries have total military budgets that exceed the US intelligence budget. Of these, China spends 3x the US intelligence budget on its military. Russia spends 2x.

      The UK, France, Japan and Saudi Arabia have total military budgets roughly equivalent to the US secret military budget.

      On top of it intelligence budget, the US spends more than half a $Trillion on the military

  • Kerry signals US Intervention in Syria, but to What End?
    • " any such strike would be a form of retaliation for President al-Assad’s flouting of international law."

      Nothing like flouting international law to punish someone for flouting international law... So much for US pretenses of upholding international

      I find Pepe Escobar's thesis more probable--the government was doing well, so the US has to step in to make sure that the civil war continues.
      link to

      As some foreign policy realists have noted, the US interest is in not having either side win. So much for US pretenses of defending human rights!

  • Must US Aid to Egypt be Cut Off? (Wang & Meyer)
    • Give me a BREAK! The US has LOTS of ways to punish regimes it doesn't like, not just a cutoff of aid. There are IMF and World Bank loans, trade concessions, investment flows and--the worst threat of all--ostracism from the "international community."

      The fact that the US uses none of its levers is telling--the US is not at all unhappy with the outcome in Egypt. The Mubarak era represented the good old days. And now they have potentially returned.

      US behavior during the coup is historically consistent with its behavior in coup attempts against regimes it doesn't like--most recently Honduras and Venezuela--and before that Iran, 1953. It denies any involvement.

      With the US' brand equating to mud in the Arab world, overt complicity would simply inflame the situation and de-legitimatize the new, friendly government.

      Obama's strategy is to lurk in the background. He did it in Libya. He is doing in Syria. And he did it in Egypt.

  • Obama's Reassurances about Domestic Surveillance are not Reassuring
    • As long as we're trying to rationalize Obama's odious behavior, maybe we should look at the possibility that Obama has become heavily beholden to the "deep state." Either because he owes them a big one or because they have the goods on him...

  • Top Ten Things that don't Make Sense about NSA Surveillance, Drones and al-Qaeda
    • If the NSA and FBI have all the phone records, bank account information and credit card transactions of everyone, why haven’t they been able to find any drug kingpins for years?

  • Pakistan: 20% of US Drone Victims are Civilians, 12% are Children (Woods)
    • This report doesn't pass the smell test. Exactly how did the authors determine that 80% of the casualties were military (i.e. "not civilian"?

      Most probably the authors used the weird US definition of military--any adult male.

      A more reasonable count would recognize that most adult males are probably not active combatants and that most adult males killed by the drones were in fact civilians.

      By saying that "drones are not perfect, they're only 80% perfect, which is still pretty damn good," this report only serves the interests of the US military.

      As such this report amounts to nothing more than devious propaganda.

  • How Fast can a Camel Run?
  • Why Correa might give Snowden Asylum: All the Horrible things the US has done to Ecuador
    • I recommend John Perkins' "Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man". Perkins was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ecuador who went on the work for US intelligence services. His job was to get Latin American nations to borrow beyond their means and become debt peons beholden to the United States. Those that refused (Pres. Torrijos of Panama, Roldos of Ecuador) were simply killed under Reagan.

      Perkins' book is a great insider account of what goes on behind the scenes of the US' obsession with "freedom and democracy."

  • Why the 9/11 Argument for NSA Spying Fails: They Tracked, Lost their Suspect (Elliott)
    • Snooping on foreigners has been legal for a long, long time. And no one--except foreigners, particularly Europeans--is surprised or concerned about it. Further, any intelligent terrorist would take it into account.

      But the problem is that Obama is trying to deflect attention from widespread snooping on Americans by dragging in the red herring of prevention attacks by foreigners.

      The administration's deceptiveness and disingenuousness about snooping on Americans should be sufficient to justify widespread alarm. What are they really up to?

      As Chomsky says, it looks like the government's real enemy is its own people.

  • PBS and the Koch Brother Scandal (plus "Koch Brothers Exposed")
    • PBS News Hour was severely compromised long before Jane Mayer outed David Koch's funding.

      I stopped watching the program ten years ago when they joined the choir cheering the Iraq invasion. PBS could not be bothered with airing dissenting voices.

      Today when I briefly watch the News Hours when channel surfing, I am struck by how the program never strays beyond the conventional narrative, never asks tough questions, and always defers to the government point of view.

  • Israel, Syria, Trade Fire, Threats in Golan Heights
    • Joe from Lowell and Anon should read some Israeli history. Moshe Dayan admitted that most of the attacks by Syria prior to the Six Day War were prompted by Israeli provocations.

      Israel knows that its provocations receive no press coverage in the media. Only Arabe responses get coverage.

    • We need to be very careful of allegations of Syria attacking Israel. The Assad's have assiduously protected the peace over the last 40 years. Meanwhile, Israel has felt free to bomb targets in Syria on occasion.

      Let's also remember that Israel typically starts invasions to the north at this time of year--April, 1982; April, 1996; July, 2006.

  • BS Happens: Parody of 24/7 Cable News
  • Amnesia or Cowardice? American Anniversaries we'd Rather Forget (Engelhardt)
    • It's amazing how nobody noticed that Obama chose to mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion in Israel. Says something, wouldn't you agree?

  • Donald Trump versus the Aberdeen Wind Farm: Fiddling while Rome Burns
    • I hope someone files a suit against Trump charging that his golf course is a blight on the natural beauty of the Scottish landscape!

  • Overcoming Woman-Hatred in Afghanistan: 3 Stories
    • How many women have drones killed? Oh right, the US government can't be bothered with counting civilians casualties. Nonetheless, the are really, REALLY concerned about human long as you're not talking about them.

      It's really easy to accuse the OTHER side of atrocities...

  • Ahmadinejad: US must Cease Militarily Targetting Iran before Direct Negotiations
    • Khamenei is right to reject negotiations. We have been down this path before and to no avail.

      When the US is prepared to bring some carrots to the negotiating table, then negotiations can begin. So far there have been no carrots, only sticks.

      Demanding Iran totally and unconditionally surrender may play well in Israel and South Carolina, but it doesn't do much to enhance the security of the region.

  • Why Tunisia's Arab Spring is in Turmoil
    • Great analysis!

      Most of the Western media is loath to talk about class conflict, which was exacerbated by Ben Ali's economic liberalization. Most of the benefits went to Ben Ali's family and wealthy business partners.

      The US became comfortable with the Muslim Brotherhood, precisely because some of its leaders (at least in Egypt) are wealthy businessmen. It was hoped that they could form a stable religious/plutocrat alliance, much like a Republican/Fundamentalist Christian alliance on steroids.

      The problems with that policy are now evident in Tunisia, and I expect that Mursi in Egypt will have his hands full, too. I expect a wave of assassinations of union leaders and an exodus of intellectuals.

  • Egypt: The People Still want the Fall of the Regime
    • The "people" could only muster 10% of Egyptians to turn out and vote against the new constitution.

      We shouldn't confuse "the people" with the secular, Westernized minority or with entrenched Mubarak holdovers.

  • UN: 60,000 have been Killed in Syrian Revolution (Video)
    • How come no one ever bothered to count host country casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya?

      NATO even had the chutzpah to declare that there were no civilian casualties after months of bombing Libya!?!

      The US government waxes sanctimonious about human rights but doesn't even have the decency to count the deaths it presides over.

      The dead only get counted when the regime is one we don't like. Its only purpose seems to be to score debating points, not reduce the death toll.

  • America's Achipelago of Garrisons abroad costs $1 Trillion a Decade (Vine)
    • This is great work. We absolutely need to know how much the military spends abroad. I have asked prominent economists, and they have said that they don't even know where to go to get such information.

      Republicans are fond of trashing any attempt at stimulus, although they do talk of the economic stimulus provided by military spending, when military budgets are threatened.

      Economists generally consider military spending to provide a mild stimulus, less than infrastructure, education and health care.

      However, if 15-33% of military spending leaks abroad, then a powerful case can be made that military spending actually depresses economic growth.

      That is probably the reason that figures for overseas military spending are buried: it's harmful to domestic economic growth, and they suspect it but want there to be no proof.

  • Iran Sanctions may be 'Crippling,' but they are not 'Working' (Cher)
    • During a visit to Iran six months ago, I noted fewer beggars during my entire visit than the number I see every day in about an hour in my home town.

      Judging by the amount of public begging here, I'd say that government sanctions are working extremely well on Americans. But here it's called austerity...

  • Top Ten Myths about Israeli Attack on Gaza
    • Al-Akhbar Arabic reporting on a supply line of rockets to Gaza, including a quantity that arrived in the last few hours. According to the article, Hamas has learned how to broadly distribute the hiding places, and rockets are arriving from various paths, not just from Sudan via Sinai.
      link to

      I don't know if this is real, or just Israeli hasbara designed to justify a broader war.

      Al-Akhbar is usually pretty good, so if I had to bet, I would say that Netanyahu has his hands full. Perhaps Egyptian authorities have decided that covert operations can work both ways--if the US and Gulf States can covertly supply the rebels in Syria, they can do the same for Gaza.

  • Top Ten Coming Disasters: Romney's America 2016
    • If Obama wins, it will be interesting to look back in 2016 and see how his program differed from Romney's. My guess is: not by much.

      The main differences will be that Obama will protect women's choice and Obamacare.

      Obama will initiate devastating austerity, lower taxes on the rich and on business, aggressively pursue small foreign wars, turn a blind eye to voter suppression, continue to kiss Netanyahu's ring (or backside), aggressively promote coal and nuclear power, and gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (but only because he had "no choice.")

      By now Obama's record speaks for itself, and it is totally out of synch with his rhetoric, which makes him the smoothest deception artist in memory.

  • Analysis: How Washington Post strips casualties from covert drone data (Woods)
    • Let's not forget that NATO reported that there were no civilian deaths caused by their months of bombing in Libya!!!

      How humane can a humanitarian intervention be, when the "humanitarians" have so little regard for human life that they don't even deign to count the casualties?

  • It's Psychological Warfare, Stupid: Why Netanyahu Really wants to Destroy Iran
    • Let's not forget Hezbollah, which blocks Israeli access to Litani River water. And it is Iran that supplies Hezbollah via Syria.

      And let's not overlook the fact that "Iranian" seems to have replace "Shia" in the lexicon of Gulf Oil sheikhs who have oppressed Shia minorities.

      By demonizing Iran and joining the Sunni sectarian battle against Shia Islam, Netanyahu is making a concerted effort to become allies with petro-monarchs.

      By toppling the Iranian government, Netanyahu thinks he will achieve complete freedom of action in the Middle East without meaningful resistance from Syria and Hezbollah or anyone else, certainly not the petro-monarchs.

      Of course, the US has its own motives for not liking Iran, which limits its complete access to and control over Persian Gulf oil and gas. As such, the nuclear issue is just a PR show, exploiting a hot button that resonates among the ignorant American electorate and provides a ready causus belli.

      Best of all for American politicians, if something goes wrong on their Iranian calculations, they have a ready scape goat--the Jewish state. Strangely enough, Netanyahu glibly assumes that violent anti-Semitism will not arise from the ashes of an Iranian fiasco.

  • Obama Plays Hardball and Egypt's Morsi Folds
    • Egypt is starting to look more like Pakistan in the sense that the government pursues deviously contradictory policies--allowing the US to have its way while simultaneously undermining it.

      The US has not managed the relationship with Pakistan well, and opposition to American policies has intensified. I doubt that the US will manage Egypt any better.

  • Top Ten Ways we are Better off than in January 2009
    • Only problem is that the rule of law has been destroyed under Obama. Now any American can be declared a terrorist, locked up, and have the key thrown away (NDAA).

      But banksters, oil companies, defense contractors, and other powerful groups can look forward to a future free of any prosecution. Now banks can take down the economy without fear. Oil companies can pollute the oceans without fear. And defense contractors can defraud the government without fear.

      Some president!

  • Was the Rachel Corrie Verdict the end of Israel's Judicial Credibility? (Marlowe)
    • Israeli justice has long been blind, but only to the crimes of the Israelis.

      While we can criticize the Israelis, let's not forget the World Court, which tries precious few white men for war crimes but hauls in lots of wogs. It's judicial credibility is about exhausted as well.

      The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is a case in point. The court gladly accepted the testimony of false witnesses in their zeal to indict Syria. Later, in their zeal to get Hezbollah, they could not be bothered to ask Israel about aerial, video surveillance it was conducting of the Hariri motorcade just as it was bombed. Just what was Israel up to?

  • What Cable News didn't Tell You: The Non-Aligned Movement Meeting Strengthened Iran's Hand vs. US, Israel (Azad)
    • US diplomacy has been practically begging a reaction from the rest of the world. Obama's first misstep came with the US' denial of uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor. Basically, the US told the world that their supply of nuclear fuel for electrical production would henceforth be held hostage to the whims of the P5+1.

      More recently, by banning Iran from SWIFT, the US informed the world that their ability to conduct international financial transactions would be held hostage to the whims of the US and Israel.

      How could the world not respond to such blackmail? I expect alternative financial systems to be developed quickly and, tragically, more countries to develop nuclear enrichment capabilities.

      What was Obama thinking?

  • The Age of Mass Killing Comes to Syria & France Pushes Gov't in Exile
    • "As killing escalates to hundreds a day, that datum will put pressure on the governments of the world to act."

      I doubt it. No one much cared about how much killing there was in Fallujah or in the rest of Iraq for that matter. They didn't even bother to count the bodies.

      When the "international community" decides to act, it will be independent of whatever is happening on the ground.

  • Your Election is being Bought by 47 Billionaires (and they are Buying War, Climate Change)
  • Campbell: Israeli PM Sharon Threatened Bush with Nuking Iraq (Mearsheimber & Walt vindicated)
    • Israeli nuclear blackmail is no surprise.

      One of the theories behind Israel's bombing of the USS Liberty was Israel's suspicion that the Liberty was monitoring Israeli communications to determine if Israel was about to use its nukes. The US supposedly feared that Israel might resort to nukes if things didn't go well. Then the US might have acted preemptively to prevent that. Once the Liberty was blinded, Israel could use its nukes...and threaten the world that it might use them, if Israeli demands were not met. Johnson immediately started giving Israel all the aid it wanted.

      I have long suspected that part of Israel's effort to create urgency in the US for dealing with Iran was nuclear blackmail. If the US doesn't do it, Israel would just nuke them.

  • Syria: The Horror of Homs, a City at War
  • Iraq Comes to Syria
  • How an Israeli Strike on Iran could radically weaken Israel
    • Nothing would serve the interests of peace in the Middle East more than an Israeli fiasco in Iran.

      The proof? Look at the Lebanese border. It has been very, very quiet ever since Hezbollah proved it could resist Israeli aggression.

      If Israel was perceived to have failed against Iran, its freedom to act badly would vanish, except in the WB and Gaza. Israel would take out its frustration on the only place left for it to misbehave.

    • There would also be significant blowback against the Jewish community for its perceived support of a country that dragged the US into yet another war, caused oil prices to rise and plunged the economy into another recession.

      Neocons have to be careful of what they ask for. They might get it and regret the results.

  • Marsh on Obama: The Party's Over
    • I agree 100% with Taylor Marsh.

      In addition, he should be encouraging people to vote third party in November. Sitting at home is interpreted as "unenthusiastic." Voting third party sends a measurable measure of discontent.

      I continue to be amazed as the Democratic base silently sits by as their representatives trash their interests. Bill Clinton set the stage for the current catastrophe by signing Glass-Steagall, a month before Hillary started making noises about running for Senate to represent Wall Street. In addition, Clinton eliminated government over sight of derivatives(CFTC) while ending welfare, except for corporation. Finally, Clinton signed Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with China, leading directly to the hollowing out of the American economy.

      And then, what did Obama do? He hired Clinton's economic advisers!

      Democrats run as "the lesser of two evils." But Clinton and Obama's records of stiffing the base show that Democrats need to take that claim with a gigantic grain of salt!

  • Our News and their News
    • "Where Wall Street bankers have stolen us blind and blamed us for living above our means," where military costs spiral out of control, and instead of requiring DOD to pass a GAO audit, the "leadership" focuses on gutting Medicare...

  • The Tyrants Strike Back
    • Pepe Escobar provides the background and context for the situation in Syria. It's a very different view of the world from what the Western media (and Juan Cole) present. And it's what I've been reading about from independent observers writing in Arabic:

      "Saudi Wahhabis, very influential over Syria's Muslim Brotherhood, have been instrumental in inciting the people of Daraa as well as Homs. Their grievances - the long drought, total neglect from Damascus - may be justified. But most of all they have been seriously instrumentalized.

      Years ago, the House of Saud paid US$30 million to "get" former Syrian vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam. It helped that Khaddam is a relative of Saudi King Abdullah and former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. He went into exile in France in 2005. Saudi Arabia has been using him and exiled leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood against the Assad regime for quite a while. Khaddam carries a Saudi passport. His sons, Jamal and Jihad, have invested over $3 billion in Saudi Arabia.

      The House of Saud agenda is essentially to split the Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah alliance - and thus progressively debilitate Hezbollah's resistance to US/Israel. Thus, in Syria, we find the US, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia once again sharing the same agenda. The stakes are extremely high. What you see is not necessarily what you get...

      It's easy to understand how progressives squirm when they see themselves aligned with the Medieval House of Saud - which unleashed the counter-revolution against the great 2011 Arab revolt - in a drive to bring down the Assad regime. Progressives also have reasons to squirm when they see themselves aligned with Israel.."
      link to

      As much as I support Syrians' aspirations for a democratic, accountable regime, I shudder at the thought of this wonderful place being turned into killing fields where outside interests play their power games.

    • From reports in the Arab press, this situation is unlike others in the Arab world.

      1- The protests are largely localized to Dera'a, Douma, Banyas, and Homs. These are all Sunni areas.
      2- Those in Dera'a are not peaceful but armed. This is likely the case in Banyas, too.
      3- The death toll includes not only "protesters" but also security forces. Western media reports ignore this fact.
      4- The Muslim Brotherhood, is involved and has condemned the government and the silence of Arab governments. Strangely, Western media reports do not mention the role of the MB, though it was paranoid about them during the events in Egypt.
      5- Possible Saudi involvement in support of the insurrection are not mentioned.

      In Afghanistan the government will be expected to violently suppress an armed insurrection of the Taliban. Maliki was permitted to do this in Iraq. But apparently Assad is not allowed to do this.

      There is not question that the Assad regime is nasty and brutal. But so are many other regimes--like Bahrain--that the West supports.

      Isn't it time for the Western press (including Juan Cole) to give fuller, more nuanced coverage?

  • Free Libyan fighters exult in small Victories, as US begins Drone Strikes
    • Now that the US has decided to launch drones, we can expect bombings of funeral processions, wedding processions, and tribal meetings, like this one in Afghanistan:
      link to

      For anyone who still thinks this is a humanitarian intervention, I can get you a real deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • Libya Threatens Mediterranean Planes, Ships if Attacked
    • Would someone kindly explain how the bankrupt US government plans to pay for its latest adventure? By increasing calls to cut Social Security and throw Grandma out on the street?

      And how does Congress figure into this? We all know that they are just a rubber stamp for DOD, but are they at least going to put on the appearance of making this Constitutional?

  • Blogfather in Iran sentenced to 19.5 years for Dissent
    • Bloggers in Morocco have been jailed for criticizing members of the king's family.

      Funny how I haven't seen any brouhaha about it in the corporate media!

  • Obama dismisses Iran War Prospects, overrules Clinton
    • Yes, Obama does not seem to have the stomach for yet another war. But he is just kicking the can down the road to the next Republican.

      If Obama were serious about engaging Iran, he would be more specific about how Iran can show "peaceful intent." Certainly Iran will regard these as nothing more than weasel words after the US spurned the deal brokered by Lula and Erdogan. And especially since the nuclear issue is only the latest expression of US antipathy towards Iran since 1979.

      Why should Iran expect a change in US attitude no matter what Iran does? IMHO it's the US that needs to make a good faith effort to diffuse tensions.

  • An Israeli Attack on Iran would reduce Barack Obama to a One-Term President
  • Repubs Plot Israel-Iran Apocalypse and the Collapse of the US Economy
    • I'm not exactly sure why the threat to the world's oil supply is so readily dismissed. Certainly, war promoters want to downplay the potential for damage that would threaten the global economy. But why do people like Juan Cole refuse to consider the threat?

      The fact is that Iran did attack Iraq's oil infrastructure, and with devastating results: "In the first year of the Iran-Iraq war, oil production fell from 3.4 million barrels per day to just under a million.[7] Oil revenues continued to drop off for the duration of the conflict—totaling $11 billion, less than half the pre-war amount, in 1988."
      link to

      The oil weapon works. If the US demonstrated its intent to destroy Iran, why wouldn't Iran signal its intent to use the MAD doctrine to destroy the world's oil production? It's all the rage to assume that Iran will use its non-existent nuke to bomb Israel, but no one discusses the more real possibility that Iran would simply take out Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia's oil export facility.

      Today, OPEC's spare oil capacity exceeds 4 billion barrels per day, the highest since before the Iraq War. After the onset of the Iraq War, the world's spare capacity disappeared, driving prices sky high. Isn't it reasonable to assume that such a scenario could be repeated after the onset of a war with Iran? What are the deniers thinking?

      No war plan survives initial contact. Opponents of a war with Iran should not be downplaying the threat of a major oil supply disruption. It only serves the rosy predictions of the perpetual war crowd.

  • Was Amiri a Double Agent who Hyped Iran's Nukes?
    • Instead of assuming that Iran is pursuing nukes and behaving irrationally, I think you need to consider the possibility that Iran is behaving rationally and acting in its own national interests.

      Here's a rational case.
      1- Like many of the Gulf States, Iran is pursuing nuclear power. The appear to have finally gotten Bushehr up and running after years of delay. And they will need even more electric power in the future.
      2- Because of decades of tension with the West, resulting in 40 years of economic sanctions, Iran is sensitive to the high probability that fuel for its nuclear power plants could be held hostage to foreign ambitions. This fear was only confirmed by Obama's refusing to refuel the TRR, using it as leverage to force compliance with Washington's other demands.
      3- To secure its nuclear power supply, Iran decided to enrich its own uranium.
      4- Iran decided to proceed with its nuclear program consistent with its rights under the NPT. The program has been monitored by the IAEA, though there remain unanswered questions, mostly historical ones.

      Exactly how is Iran behaving irrationally or being ambiguous?

      You can reach that conclusion only if you disregard Iran's need for electricity and assume that Iran's main intent is a nuclear weapon. But Iranian leaders have clearly stated that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic. And the IAEA is there.

      Furthermore, Iran may not really need nuclear deterrence. Iran already has plenty of deterrence available by targeting the world's oil supply, which sits conveniently just across the Gulf, less than a hundred miles away.

      However, the whole Iranian case has made on thing abundantly clear to those want consume nuclear power--you better produce your own fuel, because the nuclear cartel can and will use it control over the nuclear fuel supply to extract political concessions. If you want to be a sovereign state, you must produce your own fuel.

      Obama's use of the TRR for political purposes was a gigantic mistake. It showed nuclear consumers that they really need to start their own enrichment programs for their own national security. It set the stage for a gigantic increase in nuclear proliferation instead of furthering the cause of non-proliferation.

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