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Total number of comments: 14 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:18)

Michael Turton

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  • Is Iran out of the US War Queue? The Twilight of the Hawks
    • I, on the other hand, am utterly embarrassed by the shallowness of your response. ""Is it in China’s interest to destroy its economic interests with its three major regional trading partners – Taiwan, Japan, and India?"" Define 'interest' and you can answer that question. The truth of history is that nations act against their international economic interests in the service of the domestic nationalism and ideologies. See both world wars, for example.

      Yes, I really am a progressive, and as a progressive, I'm really tired of mindless, robotic, "progressive" responses uninformed by either history or local knowledge that simply trot out, religiously, the old line that you're not a progressive if you happen to hold the same position that the hawks do on China and you don't constantly emphasize the demonic heinousness of the US. History is what it is, not what you or I want it to be. At the moment roughly 1500 missiles are pointed at Taiwan. Chinese ships recently finished building a boom and chain across Scarborough Shoal, where they evicted Filipino fisherman from their traditional fishing grounds. They've been playing footsie with India in the Himal -- one of the world's great unknown flashpoints -- and have massively ramped up troops and infrastructure there (they claim a whole Indian state on the grounds that its majority Tibetan inhabitants are "chinese"). They constantly push Japan in the Senkakus, to which they invented claims in 1971, and recently sent a UAV over the area for the first time. Manila and Tokyo have formal defense treaties with the US. I know there's a kind of doctrinaire progressivism that balks at imagining that there might be a problem in the world not caused by the US, but I don't subscribe to it. Lots and lots of people out here quietly believe that there is going to be a major war. Over what, no one can say. But war is coming, a war not of American making, and burying your head in some kind of uninformed ideological sand won't make it go away.

      I welcome you to move out here and live a decade (I'm in my 25th year in Taiwan). Everyone out here can see what is going to happen. The nations around China's periphery are all arming themselves, and it isn't against the hegemonic dominance of the US. It's because China claims their territories and intends to enforce those claims by military force even though it certainly doesn't need to; it has access to everything it needs. Remember Japan? It was obtaining everything it needed by peaceful trade. The western powers were happy to let it run rampant in China. Had it never invaded the colonies of western powers by grabbing French Vietnam, triggering the oil embargo, which led its mad militarists to attempt to start a massive war against all three of the four largest imperial powers on earth when their own natural resources minister told them if they just lay low, they could have coal-to-oil programs giving them all the oil they needed -- had they not been so stupid, they might still be running Japan today (some like van Wolferen would argue they more or less are). China is in exactly the same position. It is massively expanding its military and yet it has no trouble obtaining the resources it needs from world markets. US elites have been happy to assist its entry into the US-dominated world system and enrich themselves by doing so. It's the Chinese themselves who will prevent that.

      Michael Turton
      The View from Taiwan

    • If only it were a sphere of influence. But alas, it is territorial expansion, 12th century style.

    • +++Some hawks want to put China in the war queue as a booby prize, but China is a tough sell. It has a nuclear arsenal and so the US can’t just go to war with it. US-China trade is huge and the US needs China. What would Walmart sell if it couldn’t load up on the products of Communist China? Even just alienating Beijing by talking about it as an enemy is difficult in today’s world.+++

      Juan, you need to turn your eagle eye to what's happening in Asia. This kind of writing is maddening; it shows how the outdated Cold War mentality on the Left, still dead on when talking about the Middle East or Russia, is hindering understanding of what's happening in Asia. The situation is really the opposite of what you're saying. Two things need to be understood

      1. US elites adore China and want to make money off it. Beijing has a massive influence over US policy, since so many commentators, observers, analysts, and government officials have links to the China treasury chest. See Silverstein's 2008 article "The Mandarins" in Harpers. In the Obama Administration at least a half dozen high ranking officials, including Obama's Asia guy, Jeff Bader, the vice WH chief of staff Mona Sutphen, and others, came out of the very quiet firm Stonebridge, which has massive consulting interests in China. Chas Freeman, who got in so much trouble over his Israel positions and thankfully missed his NIE directorship, has long-term business and personal links to China. See also things like the Sanya Initiative, and certain commentators who are famous for their stands on human rights and rule of law in China, items which cost Beijing nothing, but strangely never criticize its territorial expansion, its desire to annex Taiwan, and its links to US corporate power. Why? Well, they have consulting and law offices in China.... Hence the US government is, if anything, downplaying the China threat.

      2. Despite this, China is doing its level best to foment war on its borders. All of the claims it is currently arguing go back centuries are actually post 1940, Taiwan was not claimed until the early 1940s, the claim to the Senkaku Islands did not appear until 1971, the claim to the South China Sea was first made in 1947, the claim to India's Arunachal Pradesh has a similar pedigree. They are purely modern expansionist claims and have no basis in history, the result of modern China trying to inflate itself out to the old Qing borders -- exactly as if Ankara claimed it owned Bulgaria, Jordan, and Algeria because the Ottomans once did.

      THUS: Many US elites would like to sell out Taiwan and Japan to make love to Beijing and snarf up its trade and money-making opportunities and enrich themselves. But Beijing, frequently compared to WWI Germany (with the US as the UK) is more like 17th century France, an empire struggling to become a state and to "rectify" its borders by expanding them (France too invented bogus claims to its neighbors' territories). Beijing's nationalism and expansionism isn't going to let those elites loot China the way they looted the US, and appears through its massive military expansion to be bent on war with Japan over the Senkakus, with the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia over the South China Sea, and with India over Arunachal Pradesh. Taiwan will probably be first but Beijing does seem rather bent on war with Japan. Note that the US is Taiwan's protector and has formal defense treaties with Japan and Manila. Note also that Japan's air defense zones extend south past Taiwan, because it owns so many islands in the area. It will be difficult for Beijing to hit Taiwan w/o involving Japan.

      Hence despite the fact that so many American elites are Beijing-owned, Beijing's own expansionist policy is undercutting their desire to sell out Asia to China for big consulting and trade bucks. This situation has led to an odd reversal of roles -- its the conservatives and hawks and neocons who are right on China -- recall that many neocons started out as Asia hands -- and the dems, liberals, and progressives who, weirdly, support Beijing. As a progressive, I am constantly embarrassed by the flow of utterly stupid articles on China and Taiwan in, say The Nation (like Eli Clifton's recent "The Secret Foreign Donor..." or Bob Scheer's inexcusable "Taiwan Declares Peace on China"), and even more mortified by the fact that democratic Taiwan has simply dropped off American progressive radar screens (my neocon friends laugh knowingly at my attempts to get progressives to wake up to Taiwan).

      And if you don't think China is serious about this, you can explain that to the Tibetans and Uighurs.

      The View from Taiwan

  • What we Lost: Top Ten Ways the Iraq War Harmed the US
    • I should add of course that the major investor in Afghanstan is China. Really, US policy since 9/11 has been to expend American blood and treasure to make central Asia safe for Chinese expansion. Future historians, should any of them survive our climate policy, will scratch their heads at American stupidity and short-sightedness.


    • ""China all of a sudden wanted an aircraft carrier group.""

      Please. They'd been studying that for years and were already producing the first generation of escorts for it. And they didn't want it because of the Iraq War, but because of their plans for territorial expansion against India, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, and Malaysia, among others.

      The real problem about China is that the massive investment in blood and treasure and credibility in the Iraq debacle is that the US is now in a poor position to counter Beijing's increasingly aggressive expansion against its neighbors. For nearly a decade the US basically ignored Asia, except for occasional grunts at N Korea.


  • Top Seven Errors President Obama has made on the Middle East
    • (the Japanese had a choice of becoming a normal country or trying to keep their empire, and in the latter case the generals believed they had to take the Dutch East Indies for its petroleum, instead, and so had to neutralize the US pacific fleet).

      Well, no. The Japanese had a vast array of choices -- play for time, erect a coal to oil program (as advocated by the natl res minister), leave China (not give up the Empire, they still would have held Taiwan, Okinawa, and Manchuria), etc. The emperor and the military wanted war. Note that they might have not needed even to leave China -- the oil move by the US occurred because Japan invaded the territory of a western state. The US was happy to ignore Japan's adventures in China.


  • The Gospel of Jesus' Wife and Sacred History from Judaism to Islam
    • """Joining the current conversation means investigating who Jesus was according to the data, not whether he was. -Andrew"""

      One of the little ironies of this comment is that not only does the data + methodology actually indicate that Jesus never existed (it's methodology working on data that enables conclusions about Jesus existence, not data alone), but discussions of his marital state is one of the many signals that early Christians never thought of him as a person who had lived on the earth. In the first wave of texts, epistles and early gospels, Jesus' marital state is never described as normative for Christians -- it is never remarked on. The lack of a wife is the usual perception, but of course as a couple of exegetes have argued, silence may indicate that Jesus was a normal male of his day -- married.

      Fundamentally, in the early texts there is no discussion of whether or not Jesus had a wife; Jesus' own marital state is never normative for early Christians. That is a late second century debate when the Jesus stories were being reworked and fleshed out, the wing of believers who became the later Church struggled to define Jesus, as if they had no information about his life (strange, eh?). For example, in 1 Cor 7 Paul lays down some rules about marriage yet never draws on Jesus' own marriage (or lack) to defend them or feels compelled to explain such a marriage (or lack) away. You'd think that Jesus' own marital state would be his anchor, but no, the whole discussion is carried on as if Jesus was never a living being with a marital state (Earl Doherty has pointed out dozens of similar positive silences in the epistles -- where the logic of an argument demands a response to a living Jesus, but no reference is ever made -- See _Jesus, Neither God nor Man_) In the gospels the writers have Jesus lay down rules about marriage but again, he is never made to discuss his own marital state in relations to his pronunciamentos -- even though he overturns Jewish law, no one calls him on it and no one in the alleged listening crowds ever challenges him on his own marital state. Why do you think that is?


    • Mark Goodacre hosts Frances Watson's argument that the thing is a fake, a pastiche of GThomas and a couple of other documents.

      link to

      A number of scholars are saying it is a faked based on the writing and other factors.

      link to

      Lots of people have noted the tell-tale blotching on "my wife"

      Smithsonian has a pro article from the viewpoint of King:
      link to

      It's a document from a private collection that has no historical context. And private collections are filled with fakes, many private collectors being merely marks for international criminal syndicates that specialize in this stuff. If you want to experience this yourself, just pick an antiquities category and start trying to collect it. The avalanche of fakes you'll be greeted with is astounding. Everything that comes out of a private collection should be considered a probable fake until otherwise proven.

      The idea that it goes back to the second century has no foundation in evidence; it is merely a speculative assertion. Nothing shows that it is based on a second century text.

      Note also that no chemical or carbon testing has been done. Until the ink is tested we know nothing.

      ++Bill, to clear-up an important point: current scholarly consensus is that there indeed was a historical figure named Jesus upon whose life all of these writings under discussion are based. This point is considered beyond argumentation among historians (Dawkins et al obviously don’t quality as ‘historians’ in any real sense). In fact, there is not one ‘historian’ whose work is respected in the academy today that is claiming otherwise.

      To clear up an important point, for two centuries, anyone who claimed otherwise was booted from the academy, starting with Bauer -- indeed, simply demurring from major orthodox positions was enough (Gerd Ludemann is a recent example). The position that Jesus never existed, certainly viable from any serious historical methodology (see the recent Keith book on the severe methodological problems within NT studies), has never been permitted to gain a foothold because the vast majority of people who have studied over the years have themselves been Christians. It's quite specious to pretend that the view that Jesus exists is held by all scholars without noting the hegemonic domination of said view. Hence the circular claim "there is not scholar..." when in fact there are several but of course, their work is not "respected". Robert Price, of course. Brodie also recently came out as a mythicist (Author of The Crucial Bridge, a key text for understanding the structure of GMark).

      Michael Turton

  • Pro-Perry Evangelical Leader says Romney not a Christian, Mormonism a Cult
    • Their second big problem is that no one can win the presidency without at least 40 percent of the Latino vote, and Jan Brewer and Arizona have likely killed that for Republicans in the general election.

      Their third problem is that the intelligent, articulate, good-looking, appealing center-right Republican is running on the Dem ticket in 2012. That means to field someone to the right of Obama they have to field a total loon. Difficult to over come.

  • 5 Year Old Child Heads Demo in Alexandria Egypt
  • Senate Repeal of DADT in Global Context
    • You should just delete the Hitler = Catholic comment. It raises Godwin's ugly for no real justification, since Hitler's actual religion is both debatable and irrelevant to your discussion.

      Otherwise, great post, as usual.

  • The Invisible Deluge in Pakistan (Cole in Tomdispatch)
  • Gates Worries about Iranian Nuclear Research, while Khamenei blasts US for Hiroshima
    • As I said, read Frank's Downfall.

    • You read my mind. I’ve been saying this for months now. Iran won’t use nuclear weapons unless it really has to, because it views the use of such weapons as greatly immoral.

      It doesn't matter what "Iran" thinks of nuclear weapons, because the more moral it claims to be, the more certain the situation is that Iran (or any other nuke power) can talk itself into using such weapons using a "moral" justification (after all, am I not more moral than anyone? How then can my use of such weapons be wrong?). That is in fact the US position on their use.

      It is deterrence, not morality, that prevents the use of nukes. Since Israel has nukes, Iran's possession of nukes is unlikely to result in their use. Deterrent effect, after all.

      Aside from actual bombs against defenseless civilian populations, with no military necessity,

      See _Downfall_, Richard Frank's excellent response to the Japanese right-wing propaganda that the US left has sucked up and regurgitated as A-bomb revisionism.

      Michael Turton

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