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Total number of comments: 15 (since 2013-11-28 16:32:53)


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  • Erdogan & Trump: Can the Confict over Syria be Resolved?
    • Prof Cole, you didn't mention what the YPG relations are with Assad and his allies Russia and Iran. This could matter. Also, what about the problem of holding post-ISIS Raqqa? Can Kurds do that given the inhabitants are Sunni Arab? If not, what good is it to say that YPG is the only force on the ground who can take Raqqa? the aftermath is what matters.

  • From Syria to Sanctions, Flynn-Russia Quid Pro Quo?
    • Professor Cole, I am puzzled, because you have often seemed to advocate a change of course in U.S. policy in Syria somewhat similar to what seems in the works under the Trump-Flynn gambit. Doesn't the Russia-Iran-Turkey ceasefire at least seem to have quelled violence? Why should not the US participate in Astana? It's only a prep for continued Geneva talks.
      Also, is it wrong or illegitimate for an incoming administration to have diplomatic contacts in preparation for its opening weeks and months in power? I have trouble seeing this as sinister and the attempt to paint it as treason seems highly unreasonable and partisan. I am not a Trump voter but I think we need to apply a normal standard of fairness in assessing what the incoming administration is doing. Moreover, U.S. diplomats overseas consider it their normal duty to be in touch with all political parties contesting power in a given country, to hear and learn what areas of cooperation might be in prospect and to weigh options. How would we like it if leaders of those countries tried to say that any party or leader who spoke with the US embassy or attended a reception was a spy and disqualified from holding office?

  • Is Bruited Sec. of State Tillerson allied with Iran & at war with Iraq?
    • If we are supposed to dislike Tillerson or Exxon because they don't hate Iran enough, I'm sorry but this is rather an indication of a refreshing ability not to be captive to some kind of primordial and unreasonable hatred of a country and people who have nothing whatsoever against the U.S. and deserved long ago to have relations with the US put on a constructive basis

  • Syrian Troops foil al-Qaeda riposte in Aleppo as France warns al-Qaeda could replace ISIL
    • Well, we've seen this movie before. The CIA's too-clever-by-half geopolitical cynicism brought you Al-Qaeda I.0 and now they're at work on the sequel, apparently.

  • Moscow's Historical Relationship with Damascus: Why it Matters Now
    • The points made by Prof Cole are all valid, but the close relationship of Russia with the Christians of the middle east was a driver of Tsarist foreign policy, and is a potent sub-theme in the stance Russia has taken on the Syrian war from the outset. This is salient for conservative opinion in Russia.

  • Militant Secularism in the Middle East?
    • I really think there is nothing to rejoice about when the proponents of democracy in Egypt having failed to overcome their fractiousness and vanity, decide to welcome a military crackdown on the party that did win the elections and when that party is persecuted, arrested and driven underground. It may no longer be an "Islamic winter" in fact it never was, but it is a terrible setback for democratization and to be deplored, not celebrated.

  • Egypt's Countdown to Meltdown: Morsi Refuses to Deal
    • What a tragic situation.. I can't think how the military thinks that this step avoids civil war. I would think that the MB and Salafists, convinced that their supporters are being dissed by the liberals and the army, will resort to armed rebellion a la syria

  • Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria
    • Very sound analysis. I hope the administration will continue to hold out against the temptation to intervene. If the money and lives we lost in Iraq could not stabilize it, I don't know how anyone can argue that intervention in Syria will make things better...

  • Why Wasn't the Higgs Boson Discovered in the US? Neal DeGrasse Tyson explains congressional stupidity
    • Why does it matter who discovered it? It's an advance for human knowledge not European or American... I find it depressing that people import their idiotic us-them psychoses into the fields of science and art where they are and should be alien...

  • On How the visit of Iran's Ahmadinejad to Egypt was a Dud
    • I'm not so sure there's much to rejoice in the fact that sunnis are increasingly intolerant of shia. If that's why Iranian leader laid an egg in Egypt, I think we ought to resist gloating..

  • The Rise of the Sunnis and the Decline of Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah: The Middle East in 2013
    • This is accurate, probably, in a realist sense, but I find it shocking that the rights of minorities, including Shia in Lebanon, Allawites and Christians in Syria, do not merit a mention and that we are indifferent to the rise of sectarian exclusivism in the Middle East in the name of opposing Iran. I think that the blood and treasure spent in Iraq to urge sectarian comity and mutual tolerance are about to be sacrificed in another fit of inattention... Some kind collective ADHD, I call it...

  • Top Ten Things Mitt Romney's Insults to Spain tell us About Him
    • So much for the idea that Mitt is very wise and informed about international finance. Anyone who reads the Financial Times regularly knows that Spain's problems did not come from the public finances but rather from a property bubble financed by banks...

      So one wonders what precisely Mitt does bring to the table? His strong suit is weak..

  • Libya's Problems will be Solved by more Democracy, not Less (Hilsum)
    • It seems to me that this situation is proving the political science proposition that 'stateness' is a precondition for democratization. Maybe there is no such thing as Libya as a polity at all... If this is so, then elections may not be enough to restore order and no efforts by any well meaning outsiders can make a state where none exists...

  • Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Rejects while Obsessing about Birth Control
    • Your rendition of the inconvenient (for rightwingers) views of the Catholic Church reminded me of why I'm a Catholic when Santorum, Gingrich and his unspeakable wife sometimes make me tend to wonder...

      As to the requirement that Catholic hospitals, schools, and universities fund birth control in the employers' portion of the health insurance coverage, this, luckily, can be resolved by getting the insurers to pay it all, since having women take conception reduces the insurers' costs of covering someone...

      So it was an unforced error or 'own goal' by the Obama administration not to have found the cutout that they have now found belatedly...

  • Turkey Warns against Sunni-Shiite Civil War in Mideast
    • I am very concerned that the U.S. policy toward the violence in Syria neglects the danger of sparking a sectarian bloodbath against the Allawites and their close allies the Christians, who I gather almost universally favor the Assad government. I read the other day that Iraqi Christians, having fled from Iraq to the safety of Syria after the U.S. overthrow of Saddam, may now have to move on from there too, along with the ancient Christian population of Syria, to somewhere else... Haven't we observed how much harm the U.S. and other outsiders do when we intervene in favor of one population group in favor of another in any given middle eastern country? In Iraq, the oppressed Shia got in the drivers seat and started to oppress the formerly dominant Sunni... In Egypt, Copts will regret, I fear, ever joining the anti-Mubarak revolution and maybe so will the pro-Western Muslim youth. It's ironic that a country which is so full of christians (the US) is helping to ruin the lives of their co-religionists in the Middle East and doesn't seem to know or care...

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