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Total number of comments: 13 (since 2013-11-28 16:32:37)

Michael Renner

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  • Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris
    • Michael G. Renner 01/07/2015 at 2:55 pm

      Your analysis seems, sadly, spot-on. This horrific attack will lift the hopes of all those who are already pushing their reactionary agendas on the back of perceived "Islamization." In Germany, for example, the reactionary Pegida (an acronym that stands for "Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident") has been rearing its ugly head for several weeks now, but counter-demonstrations have attracted far more people, and thankfully the political elites have largely distanced themselves from this anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim group.

      But the Paris slaughter will be wind under their wings, judging by initial reactions on the discussion boards of German newspapers. We are in for highly-charged, difficult times, in many countries. Perspectives like yours, Prof. Cole, are desperately needed. So, a heartfelt thanks for your analysis.

  • Ethiopia aims to become Africa's Green Energy Giant
    • An encouraging development on the whole. Two thoughts:

      First, the mix among the various renewables will be an important consideration. Ethiopia and other East African countries like Kenya have suffered from highly unreliable hydropower (due to drought conditions, which have been worsened by climate change), so balancing hydro with other renewables, especially solar, will be important. Also, large-scale hydro development (as, for instance, with the Gibe dam), causes massive displacements of people and other problems.

      Two, Ethiopia can learn a lot from the experience of Bangladesh, which is the developing world's pioneer of solar home system use (2.4 million systems installed so far). Education and skill-building related to solar technology (especially for women) has been an important aspect of the Bangladeshi approach, so that at least 60,000 jobs have been created in distributing, installing, and maintaining SHS. Without a domestic capacity to maintain systems, far fewer jobs are created, and the systems may soon fall into disrepair.

  • Elites Stick together against Us: Feinstein Slams NSA Merkel Tap
    • This is very similar to what I've been feeling / thinking for some time, but you expressed it in a such a clear, articulate -- and properly outraged -- way. Thanks so much for saying what the mainstream media either ignore or distort!

  • US Protected Iraq at UN from Iranian Charges of Chemical Weapons Use
    • Michael Renner 08/28/2013 at 7:17 pm

      As important as the maneuverings around the use of chemical weapons by Iraq were, I think it's also worth to remember the food-related credits that Hussein's regime was given by the Reagan administration. They enabled the regime to import sufficient supplies of food -- and that was a major reason why Hussein was able to keep his population "happy" when the war against Iran turned sour.

      Contrast that enabling move by the U.S. with the punitive stance taken after the first Gulf war (i.e., the imposition of crippling sanctions that hit the civilian population extremely hard for the next 12 years, until Bush Junior invaded).

  • India, China Defy US Congress' War on Iranian Oil
    • I am thinking 1953 -- when Britain, with US support, pursued an embargo / blockade of Iranian oil, leading up to the coup against Mossadegh. The events that still reverberate today.

  • Pentagon: Americans must give up Liberties to fight "enemies" but we won't say who they are (Currier)
    • Michael Renner 07/27/2013 at 1:03 pm

      Indeed. "Associated forces" left undefined means this amorphous category could be expanded to include just about everyone on the planet, and the limitless snooping underscores that. We are supposed to be kept in a permanent state of being scared about "the terrorists", so that totally unaccountable and secretive agencies can do anything and everything they choose to do.

    • So we are not allowed to know who the enemies are. That also precludes us from knowing whether these forces are gaining or losing in strength. And that in turn means no one will ever know whether they continue in existence or not. The perfect setup for endless war. And as long as this war lasts, all of our rights are curtailed.

  • Top Ten American Steps toward a Police State
    • Excellent post -- these are all worrisome developments. Just a minor correction: Polizeistadt in German would translate as "police city." It should be Polizeistaat instead.

  • Top Ten Ways the US Government will Smear, Slight Whistleblower Edward Snowden
    • Michael Renner 06/11/2013 at 2:37 pm

      Excellent piece. Sadly, there are even more attempts to smear Snowden, courtesy of NYT columnist David Brooks. In perfectly Orwellian style ("War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength"), he writes today:

      "He betrayed the cause of open government. Every time there is a leak like this, the powers that be close the circle of trust a little tighter. They limit debate a little more. He betrayed the privacy of us all. If federal security agencies can’t do vast data sweeps, they will inevitably revert to the older, more intrusive eavesdropping methods."

      Right, he who exposed unwarranted government secrecy and snooping betrayed the causes of open government and of privacy. Because, you know, now the government has to work even harder to spy on us and keep us in the dark, and that's all his fault. If we just all submitted and decided we didn't want to know what's being done, this would be so much easier...

  • Americans and Egyptians face the National Security State on Black Friday Differently
    • I don't read Juan Cole's post as saying there is a strict 1:1 equivalency. The point, it seems to me, is rather that both societies face broadly comparable challenges in terms of where they are headed, how they are (mis-)governed, and whether the masses actually have a meaningful voice -- and pay attention to important issues, rather than allowing themselves to be distracted by the latest set of gadgets. In the face of these challenges, too many Americans carry on with a single-minded (and yes, uncivilized) behavior that makes them look like lemmings heading over the cliff.

  • 2012 Rumble/ Debate between Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart (Video)
    • Actually, there are other candidates (Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein, for example), but the political class that's in power does everything it can to make them invisible and insignificant. Not a sign of a true democracy, in my view.

  • Tutu Slams Tony Blair for Illegal Iraq War, boycotts Leadership Conference
    • Archbishop Tutu is one of my heroes, and I'm so glad you devoted a long blog post to what he said.

      I have long felt that the Bush/Blair war of aggression needs to be seen in the longer context of unprincipled Western policy vis-a-vis Iraq. The Reagan administration (and Bush I up to the invasion of Kuwait) coddled Saddam at a time when he was at his worst, i.e., invading Iran, using chemical weapons against the Kurds, etc.

      He was (indirectly) supplied with weapons, was supplied with tactical battlefield information about Iranian troop movements, was given access to US agricultural credits (to buy grain more easily so he could keep his own population "happy" during the long war of attrition against Iran), and the Reagan admin. gave him diplomatic cover at the UN to conceal his use of chemical weapons. They even glossed over Iraq's attack on a US navy ship (the USS Stark) in 1987, which killed three dozen sailors (could you imagine what the US would do today if an Iranian plane attacked a US Ship??). Only when it was convenient for the US and the West did they turn against Saddam, but from then on he was "properly vilified."

  • The Israel Lobbies and Breitbartism: Dirty Tricks, Taboos and the threat to American Democracy
    • Professor Cole,

      This post once more exemplifies why your blog is so important. You combine scholarly insights with a willingness to confront the likes of CAMERA which rises high above what nowadays typically passes for public discourse. I can't thank you enough for that.

      I feel that in so many critical issues, we are now dealing with a similar mix of right-wing propaganda and intimidation, mainstream media failure, and a shocking trend toward dumbing things down. That's certainly true also when it comes to issues relating to climate and environment, social justice, and others.

      More than ever, your outstanding work makes for essential reading.

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