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Total number of comments: 13 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:24)


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  • America’s new data center: The Biggest Big Brother of All (TBIJ)
    • Danh: Agree, it is clearly not good that any democratic government spies on its people, and one can rightfully ask if there is any real difference between what is happening in the US and China in that regard. I.e. in the kind of data they collect of their own citizens.

      But then we must remember that Google, Facebook, Twitter etc also collect information on their users that are every bit as intrusive as that collected by the NSA. That is of great concern of European governments but less so in the US

      The main point I was making though is that contrary to what James Bamford asserted in his otherwise excellent article in Wired, the NSA data center in Utah is not terribly impressive. In point of fact it is positively puny. Which kind of puts the entire story in a somewhat different light.

      "NASA Builds Positively Puny Data Center in Utah" just doesn't quite grab you in the throat does it? :-)

    • Juan, this is an interesting example of how important is to get expert opinion. James Bamford has very good insights into the National Security Agency, but he is NOT an expert at data centers, which shows in his article.

      As I wrote on my own blog, and I translate from the Swedish, the fact is that compared to "civilian" data centers, the NSA:s new data center in Bluffdale UTAH is not especially impressive. “four 25,000-square-foot facilities house rows and rows of servers.” .

      Compare that to the following item in the press recently link to AT&T to create data center, $900 million impact AT&T announced plans to construct a 900,000 square foot data center facility on Countryside Road, beside the existing T5 data center park, according to a 14-year plan. link to

      My impression is that if anything, the US government is playing catchup with companies like Google, Facebook and Apple in the data center space.

  • Damascus sees first signs of Guerrilla War
    • "The Free Syrian Army, made up largely of defectors". That seems to be misleading. FSA is a convenient handle for the guerrillas, agreed, but they operate independently of each other and of the few FSA exiles in Turkey.

      The guerrilla groups appear to be mainly made of of unemployed young men rather than defectors from the Syrian army. At least if I read Josh Landis correctly. One gathers that defecting from the Syrian army is not a very pleasant proposition since it leaves ones family open to pretty horrible retribution.

  • Iraq Comes to Syria
    • Juan:

      Sources in Washington DC maintained that they had sources that informed them that members of the Syrian elite were making plans to flee.

      This latter item seems to me likely an element of psychological warfare.

      Let's not be so quick to discount information form "the other side of the hill". This is a data point, let it stand. If it is true we'll get corroborating evidence soon enough.

      And this is not about "regime decapitation", nobody has mentioned that. Josh Landis has reported on his blog that some number of Alawis in Damascus have started to return to their home villages.

      Reports from Damascus are uniform in saying that the deteriorating economic situation is evident in Damascus.

      Yes, the fourth armored and the republican guard will fight to the death, but that doesn't mean that the Alawis aren't getting increasingly nervous.

      This news item really has the ring of truth.

  • The Dilemma over Syria
    • Juuan,

      That was precisely my point. Nobody expects the NRA to rise up and start a genocide in the US. So why should be expect the opposition i Syria to be any different if the US and the EU were to arm them and they succeed in overthrowing the Assad government?

      In World War II the allies armed the French resistance, and France was filled to the brim with weapons at the end of 1944 when France was finally liberated. Still no civil war, no genocide broke out, despite the hostility between the communists and the Gaullists.

      Wouldn't we expect the democracy movement in Syria be every bit as responsible as the French resistance movement after the war?

      If not it would be good to spell those assumptions out.

    • Juan: May I respectfully suggest that if we are going to discuss arming the opposition in Syria we not use lose and fuzzy language like "Once you flood a country with small and medium arms, it destabilizes it for decades."

      The United States has for decades been "flooded with small and medium arms" but still seems reasonably stable, at least if we discount certain parts of the South.

      Syria is already flooded with weapons but the weapons are controlled by the regime, which shows every sign of using them without any let or hindrance.

      As a historian you are certainly familiar with how Britain and France helped the Arab revolt 1916-18, with a small numbers of advisers, money, tactical advice and fast armored cars.

      Today we would be talking about flooding Syria with Kevlar vests, communications equipment and medicine, including first aid knowledge for the opposition.

      Not the least important is to enable the opposition to upload videnon to YouTube.

      Also, the US and Israel have already showed that they can break into the Syrian communications system. Why can't the US do so again in order to knock out Assad's communications network?

      Part of Assads military communications are carried over a dug down cable network. It can easily be targeted by the guerillas.

      Finally, the ongoing guerrilla war shows every sign of slowly wearing down the Assad forces and ending the incredible brutal Assad regime.

      The worry should not be that support for the opposition might spread violence across the border. The worry should be that if the Assad the regime survives his methods will be widely adopted in other countries.

      If Assad falls it will be a signal to other dictators that resistance to democratic revolutions is futile.

  • Why a No-Fly Zone won't Work in Syria
    • Juan: You are correct about the political aspects of a US intervention i Syria, but fortunately not about the military aspects.

      The US has already intervened eletronically in Syria, in 2007 aqainst the suspected Syrian nuclear reactor: link to
      by using the U.S.-developed “Suter” airborne network attack system developed by BAE Systems and integrated into U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle operations by L-3 Communications.

      If Obama wanted to, he could knock out Assad's command and control systems and severely disrupt his governments military communications. Not enough to topple Assad perhaps, but certainly enough to put a lot of preassure on his government.

      The US debated whether to use Cyber warfare against Libya link to but decided against doing so.

      So there are many ways to hit the Assad regime short of a non-fly-zone.

  • Thomas Jefferson in Arabic
    • Good initiative! Helping the spread of ideas is clearly positive. It is interesting, though, that the American thinker who has directly influenced the Jasmine Revolution is the contemporary Gene Sharp, link to

      Which leads to the question: are there any other current American thinkers who should also be translated? Somehow the American Revolution seems an awful long way away from today's Jasmine Revolution.

  • Obama Should Let the UN apply Economic Sanctions to Israel
    • This is an odd post. "Obama has nothing to lose in unleashing the Security Council on Israel." Clearly Obama has shown again and again that his sympathies lie with Israel and not with the palestinians. Jettisoning the palestinians will strengthen his position in the run-up for next presidential election.

  • Wikileaks and the New McCarthyism: Maybe we Just Need a More Open Government
    • Since denial of service attacks are illegal in the US. And they are, to boot, a form of thuggery and bullying. Isn't it surprising that the United States Cyber Command, which is supposed to protect the US from cyberattacks, have shown no interest of any kind in stopping the cyberattacks against WikiLeaks? Where do these attacks come from? It doesn't seem to be a question that the Obama government por anyone else is terribly interested in finding out.

      Of course, if the attacks were carried out by the United States Cyber Command and its allies on orders from the Obama government, then the silence is a little bit more understandable.

  • Abedin: The Illusion of a ‘limited war’ against Iran
    • Interesting post, but I wonder if the IRGC has any kind of understanding of how brutal the assault will be if and when it comes. The US and Israel will have complete air superiority, they will have access to an unlimited number of the very latest cruise missiles, bunker busters etc. They can see every square millimieter of Iranian territory and everything that moves anywhere in Iran.

      The US will be vulnerable in Afghanistan to be sure, but the cost to Iran will truly be astronomical. I assume that the US would target the regime and I think that it is quite possible that the regime may end up in a cave somewhere, not unlike Mulla Omar in Afghanistan.

      So yes, a US attack would be costly for the US and the world, but it could very well topple the regime. I don't think we can assume that today's well-educated Iranians are automatically ready to die for the mullas.

      At least that is probably the view from Washington.

  • Obama hints that Two-State Solution may be Impossible
    • In a larger and longer context, though, Israel is steadily losing ground against its neighbors. Globalization has finally reached the Middle East, just as it reached Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore in the late fifties and sixties. Just look at Syria.

      And Globalization hates walls and wars. Mr Netanyahu and his successors have 20-30 years ahead of them to maintain status quo and expand their settlements on the West Bank. After that the Muslim Middle East, including Iran, will be much too important to the world economy for Israel to be able to maintain it's position as the Middle East's only superpower.

      All things must come to an end, so also the current locked situation in the Middle East.

  • Blog Migration
    • Great move! I have just gone thru a similar move myself. Since Google and the other search engines will re-index your old links you should be OK.

Showing comments 13 - 1