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Total number of comments: 299 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:42)

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  • Lebanese PM Hariri arrives in or Escapes to France
    • Sounds like yet another ill thought out maneuver by MbS. How many times can this happen before it all falls down?

  • Pres. Aoun: Saudi Holding Hariri an Act of Aggression
    • What about the secondary effects of this? In 1978 Shi‘ite cleric Musa al-Sadr who disappeared on a visit to Libya. After that any political leader would think twice about visiting Libya.

      Will Saudi Arabia suffer the same effect? Will it be fair game on Saudi diplomats from now on?

  • Saudi Saturday Night Massacre: Billionaire Bin Talal, dozens of others Arrested
    • The end of rule by consent? SA had always been ruled by the
      counsel and consent of the elders of the royal family. Now that
      one young prince has grabbed full power perhaps the knives
      will come out among those sidelined.

      SA has always presented itself as a bastion of stability in
      the Middle east. This action may well unleash forces
      that had previously been held in check. Will the Wahabists
      see this as an opportunity and make a move? Will Iran
      see weakness and therefore opportunity. Will the other
      rich princes feel that they may be next and therefore they
      need to act?

  • How "ghost soldiers" could frustrate Trump's plans for Afghanistan
    • Ken Burns has produced a wonderful if painful documentary called "Vietnam". I am watching it now. You should watch it. You will recognize all of the same thrashing around in Washington as we see today. The same good intentions. The same good and bad advice. We were supposed to have learned a lesson there but it seems that we have forgotten.

      The thing about all of your arguments is that if we were talking in 2002 and I were not a child of the Vietnam War I might be persuaded. You sound so logical. Watch the documentary; they sounded so logical then as well.

      Anyway we have lost. We lost when we did not leave Afghanistan after 2 months. We lost when we went into Iraq. I think that we both agree that we will not be getting out anytime soon. A tragedy for all sides!

    • You seem to have a lot of in-depth knowledge of the players in Afghanistan. I will assume that you have lived there for many years and speak all of the languages. Quite impressive! OK?

      How many of the US soldiers on the ground have your depth of knowledge? How many speak the languages? Take a guess and hold on to those facts.

      You require the US military to implement a winning strategy taking into account all the players they have to deal with and do so with a subtle hand. They have to convince by persuasion or force that the American way is best. Is that possible?

      Given the above, what are the chances that we can win? No weasel words, a straight answer. That lives the only strategy left: get out.

    • Lots of suggestions. One question: what do you think are the chances of this actually happening? Be honest!

      OK, we got that out of the way lets move on.

      When you say "international" this and "international" that you are illustrating the problem quite precisely. You see the problem as international but the solution will not be international the solution will be Afghan. They will make their own future.

      What is the only indigenous movement able to govern, one that does not need international support? You guessed it! You don't like them, I don't like them, but then we are not Afghan. We don’t get to “vote” in that election.

      “The world praised Israelis for this attitude”??? Sorry, that has been out of date for some time now. The world sees Israel more clearly now.

    • It always seems when I hear the generals speak that I am listening to children playing at war: “if only the enemy would act how we want them to then we would win!” Petraeus and all the other little boys that followed him sounded the same: “our intentions were pure so why did things go so bad.” The hard fact is: we are is the position of propping up corrupt governments that have no local support. The children running the pentagon should learn that.

      It is heartrending to listen to earnest but naive ordinary soldiers tell their stories. They are 20 year old’s thrown into a situation that they don’t understand and they give it their all. With very few changes, it is the story of Vietnam.

      Obama's biggest foreign policy failure was his failure to end the wars and get out.

  • Former US Allies peeling off under Trump: Turkey halts US Visas
    • We are witnessing the further fracturing of the post WWII US foreign policy. The core of that policy was to contain the USSR. This policy included a lot of bad stuff; supporting dictators and other miserable regimes like Israel, that could be justified as real politik. That policy no longer make sense.

      There are far more nimble players on the stage now such as China and Russia that need a more nimble US to counter. We have a foreign policy cast in amber that needs to change and change fast.

  • What if we Gave Seven Wars and No Americans Noticed?
    • Perhaps there are some strategies that we can use to end this slide to oblivion.

      * Understand that the battlefield includes the US: that these wars are not just fought "over there". The standard military doctrine of "bring the fight to the enemy" is also used by the other side. This is the motivation for most terrorism of middle eastern origin. Lets connect what is happening here with what is happening over there.

      * We are handing our adversaries such as Russia and China the means to defeat us. The more that these adversaries and some so-called friends can induce us into forever wars the more our strength is sapped. It is ideal for these players that we fight these wars at some distance from them, they can just sit back and watch while occasionally stirring the pot. The “creative accounting” that maintains these wars will eventually crash just like in the financial world. Lets understand that these wars are not free.

      * These wars are really a result of a US foreign policy frozen in amber. What made sense 50 years ago is insane now. We need a re-think of our foreign policy across the globe. The middle east should be the first as it is collapsing before our eyes.

  • What’s Stopping Media From Calling Las Vegas Killer a “Terrorist”? His Whiteness
    • The word terrorist has come to mean a person fighting against us for a cause. The word has the further advantage of allowing us to not ask about his cause or, even more dangerously, to question our own cause. Using the term “terrorist” means that there is dangerous knowledge there and to not dig further.

      If on those rare occasions where a terrorist is asked "why" we hear things like "fighting against oppression", "opposing foreign military invasions", and “revenge for killing my people”. There is very little religious fanaticism: "God told me to do it". We may find that by learning the “why” we understand and become sympathetic.

      It is a lovely bit of circular reasoning that allows us maintain the imperium.

      Thus, Stephen Paddock is not a terrorist by today’s definition of the word.

  • Have we Won yet? Was ISIL a flash in the Pan?
    • To the Iraqi soldier on the front line against ISIL, the enemy looked very formidable and they ran away. That is all that matters in war!

      The reasons for this are of course not wanting to fight for (in essence) Washington. A corrupt officer corps in the employ of (in essence) Washington. Who would want to die for a foreign occupier.

    • This seems an odd statement: "you have to wonder if ISIL was ever all that formidable". They sent the much touted US trained Iraqi army running. ISIL required the combined force of the US, Russia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Hezbollah to defeat it over a period of 3 years. And the job is not yet done.

      They were extremely effective. The problem was that they were too extreme even for their own people. This movement is probably not dead even if the name must be changed.

  • Arabs, Thomas Friedman and the "iron fist"
    • Friedman makes the Arabs sound as bad as ... everyone else!

      Consider Europe in it's transition from monarchy to democracy. Two hundred years of war. That transition included two wars that enveloped the whole world.

      Consider sub-Saharan Africa. It's transition to democracy is not yet done. South Africa seems to be decently democratic. Other countries seem to be on their way. It is a bumpy road and each country has its own story.

      South America had quite a bumpy ride going from colonialism to democracy.

      American history has had some bumpy patches. Is having a bumpy patch?

      The Arab world has some nasty problems that must be solved. Monarchs and dictators, often western backed, must be reformed or replaced. The worlds last colony must be dealt with. Foreign drawn borders will likely be redrawn. All of these problems are exacerbated by the curse of oil: they can't deal with their problems without outside interference.

  • Afghanistan: Pentagon Admits it Low-Balled Public on Troop Levels
    • “Our true adversary is the occupation side and the real issue of our country is the presence of foreign occupiers … Talking about minor matters and side notes during the presence of occupation does not have any benefit.”

      Sounds like the demands of the North Vietnamese! This
      should be the basis of negotiations now just as it was
      then. We should work up some face saving "peace with
      honor" type slogan and sign a withdrawal deal with the
      Taliban. That is the only politically passable end to
      this disaster that seems workable.

  • Racist Israeli Youth attack Israeli Soldiers, shouting "You are Arabs!"
    • This is always a problem in a racist state.

      In Apartheid South Africa the police were forever having a problem with white people who tanned too much and with blacks who were too light skinned. I had a friend (white) who got caught up in that.

      What is the solution for Israel? Make the wrong type of people wear a patch? Tattoos?

  • Kissinger pushes Iranophobia, fear of 'radical empire' as ISIL declines
    • Another factor that you did not mention is that it is unlikely that the Arabs in Iraq and to the Mediterranean are not likely to want to be ruled by the Persians of Iran.

  • Trump's Mulligan in Afghanistan: Mercenaries
    • I'm in favor if:
      * We send Erik Prince with his mercenaries to Afghanistan.
      * Cancel all transportation out of the country.
      * Send the bill to the Afghan government.

      If Trump does this I will consider him a genius. Especially the part about making them pay. That worked so well with Mexico, right!

  • "Fire & Fury" or "Shock and Awe": it is always the start of a Quagmire
    • It was curious to observe Trump's body language. Both hands clamped firmly under his arms. Likely they were shaking.

      He is in a different league now. His failures no longer result in lawyers fees. I doubt that Kin Jung Un or the rest of the world was impressed. We have had two leaders, Trump and Bush, who were in way over their head. A country, no matter how powerful, can stand only so much incompetence.

  • Did Saudi 'Cheap Oil' Policy throw Venezuela into Crisis?
    • I assume that another factor in the Saudi calculus was to short circuit any move to electric cars. That does not seem to have worked. Even with low gas prices many countries are implementing policies that will force the adoption of electric vehicles. It seems that this is a loosing game for the US and the Saudi's whose most significant effects were quite unintended.

  • Trump's Worst Nightmare: Mueller's Grand Jury Subpoenas Russia Documents
    • Early on in the discussion of this meeting with the Russians it was mentioned that there was a packet of information that the Russians gave to Jr. I have not seen mention of this packet since. I would have thought that the contents would be of great interest, but nothing!

      Did they forget? Was there a packet? Or is Mueller investigating?

  • Will reaction against Trump on Health Care lead to Medicare for All?
    • A modest suggestion: we don't need additional taxes for health care for all, just cancel one or two wars. That should to it, easily!

  • Al-Sadr in Jidda: Are Saudis looking for channel to Iran, or anti-Iran Client?
    • Perhaps another factor to consider: by weakening Iran in Syria they may give the Sunni fundamentalist insurgents some air to continue their fight against the Syrian government. That may prevent their complete defeat and the subsequent return home of some fighters to Saudi Arabia.

      The Saudi fighters returning home may redirect their hunger for power toward Riyadh. Keeping them in Syria probably suits the monarchy just fine.

  • The U.S. Empire is 'Fraying' and 'Collapsing': Pentagon Study
    • The Pentagon always talked about being prepared to fight 2 1/2 wars at the same time. This strategy held the Soviets in check for 50 years. We now have 2 wars and a load of "actions" that surely count up to at least half of a war. These wars are nothing like a Soviet invasion through the Fulda Gap but they nonetheless have denied us victory for 15 years.

      That the report suggests "expanding the military" seems to indicate that the writers did not read their own words or perhaps "interested parties funded the research". We are in a position where strong capable opponents are able to pick apart our empire at it's weak points. The middle east is certainly the weakest piece of our domain and there are a lot of loose threads to pull.

      The best strategy for the future is withdrawing from the middle east as its importance and that of oil recede. It is in the process of reform, governments will continue to fall and we do not have the power to stop it. Britain lost it's empire and survived, so will we. I love the Calvin Coolidge quote, "The business of America is business". Lets get back to business, empires are no longer profitable.

  • UN: Saudi Bloc attempt to close Al Jazeera is attack on Freedom of Expression
    • I am reminded that the Shah of Iran was brought down by some guy living in France using cassette tape recordings! Cassette tapes in 1979 were the internet of today.

      These rotten regimes of the middle east know that they must plug every leak of contrary information. They surely know the lesson of the Shah but seem to have no strategy aside from attempting to stick their finger in the dike and hope for the best.

  • Back to Quagmire: Beware endless US Troop Escalations in Afghanistan
    • The Afghan insurgent strategy is this: thwart anything that the foreign army does. If the US army builds a road, order the Afghans civilians to not use it. Build a school; blow it up. Open a clinic; kill the staff. Hire Afghan translators; kill their families. Paint a road sign; knock it down.

      Their strategy is to oppose anything that the foreigners do no matter how benevolent it may appear to the foreigners. That is the logic to insurgent actions which that make no sense to us. Eventually we will leave out of frustration and exhaustion. There is no winning strategy!

  • Trump's Folly: Oil is a Worthless Commodity and Saudi's Crown Prince Knows It
    • How much of the total oil and other fossil fuel production is not used as fuel? What percentage is used as chemical feed stock, lubrication, plastics, furtelizer, etc? In other words how much oil must we continue to pump in an all electric future?

  • What will Happen when Trump's Dupes Find Out?
  • Will New Crown Prince in Riyadh Usher in Open Saudi-Israeli Alliance?
    • Israel as the Saudi King's praetorian guard?

    • There might be something else going on. The Saudis have enormous wealth but a military of demonstrated incompetence and dubious loyalty.

      Israel has a effective and proven military but depends on US support for it's existence. The deal for both would be Israel's military would prop up the Saudi monarchy while Saudi money would prop up the Israeli state.

      The thing that makes this urgent is American dissatisfaction with the way everything is going in the Middle East. Our long standing Middle Eastern policy of 70 years is now failing everywhere. Two or three wars of long duration are showing no results. More wars are in the offing. The true cost, while well hidden, is enormous.

      Meanwhile China is grabbing all the lucrative trade deals in Africa and South Asia. They are running way in the black while we are running way in the red. Such things never go on forever.

      Russia is picking at all the weak spots of American foreign policy. They act in situations where we are under constraints. They are subtle and we are clueless.

      In the US only people with gray hair still believe in Israel. On college campuses Israel is becoming a dirty word. It is not hard to see the trajectory as the same as it was for Apartheid in South Africa.

      Israel and Saudi Arabia, perfect allies of convenience!

  • The Millennial's Palace Coup in Saudi Arabia: How Dangerous?
    • Two can play at the "blow up the infrastructure" game. The Iranians may not want to touch Saudi oil infrastructure because theirs is also vulnerable. Also, a tanker war hurts everybody equally.

    • If history (and the future) were so simple. Remember Iraq was going to be a democratic republic if only we removed Saddam? There were going to recognize Israel too! Wasn't the future going to be great!

    • I wonder what will happen when the old king dies. Could there be a palace coup where more responsible heads remove the young king before he topples the whole thing over? Could the Wahabists see it as an opportunity to grab for power?

      Of course the prince has had a few years to build his support base so he may not go so easily. He is defense minister so he (may?) have the military with him. What about the other armed state organizations such as the police and the spy services?

      The Wahabists must be sitting there waiting for their time to come. How deep is their influence within the state organizations? Have they infiltrated the military? Are there princes who are Wahabist?

      Could the king's death be the end of the house of Saud?

  • Saudi v. Qatar: Will Turkish intervention cause Escalation?
    • It seems that the fragile monarchies of the Gulf are rattling each other. Which one shatters first is hard to say but that first explosion is not likely to be the last. They are all ruled by a rich privileged elite quite disconnected from the their citizens.

      US policy, long incoherent, is also reaching it's breaking point. Soon we may be faced with the question of who to prop up and at what cost. It will be yet another war in a region we do not understand.

  • First, the Soviets Collapsed: Is it America's Turn Now?
    • Unfortunately, our overseas wars are "sustainable". Our economy is strong enough, at the moment, to support the war machine. We can produce bombs and guns at the current rate forever. The casualty rate for US soldiers is low enough that it is not a political problem. The situation with the wars, winning or loosing, seems irrelevant in the US political sphere.

      The puppets that we support seem to play along so long as we pay them enough. They are quite willing to feed their own people into the maw of war. For them too, the situation seems sustainable.

      When will it all end? The only possible conclusion that I can see is if multiple puppets are overthrown at the same time. Something like the Arab Spring but in the Gulf. That could give us too much to handle. Not just 3 wars but a dozen both internal and between nations. We would not know who to fight or to support. The choices would change weekly. Then we may throw up our hands and leave.

  • US faces risks as Trump misreads the Middle East
    • I wonder how long this "deal" between the puritanical Wahhabists and the rich corrupt ruling class in Saudi Arabia will hold. It is truly a deal with the devil for both sides. One "breaker of all things" is war.

      Will the average Saudi soldier, perhaps influenced by Wahhabism, fight and die under orders of his rich playboy officer? Will the Wahhabi movement see a war as the time to revolt against their corrupt system?

      It seems that the Saudi royal family is playing with fire with these unnecessary wars.

    • I suspect that an actual war between Saudi Arabia and Iran will be rather one sided!

      Saudi Arabia has the finest weapons money can buy. However, that won't matter much. They also have an officer corps of rich playboy princes. Do you think that all those fancy fighter jets are piloted by the best airman or by entitled princes that want a thrill greater than what their Ferrari can provide? Should blood actually get spilled these princes are likely to consider retiring to their estates on the Riviera.

      Iran has fought a large and exceptionally brutal war with Iraq within living memory. They are continually testing their soldiers in Iraq now. Iran's military is battle hardened and loyal. Their weaponry is impressive if not quite the same quality as US weaponry. It is good enough to give both the US and Israel second thoughts about attacking Iran.

      Should the Saudi Arabia collapse will the US step in to prop them up? Would the Saudi population cheer us on? Would there be flowers in the streets to welcome us?

  • Clapper Lied & Spied, now charges Trump w/ assault on Gov't Institutions
    • Of course the NSA, CIA, FBI, etc. are spying on us. This is war and governments always overstep any boundaries and use the "war" as justification. There are supreme court cases that rationalize this. Consider internment during WWII.

      There is no point in complaining about the destruction of democracy while the excuse "war" remains. War is incredibly corrosive of democracy. It is number one enemy of democracy.

      To preserve our democracy we must end these wars. When we have completed that task we can then try to restrain the NSA, CIA, and FBI and hope that we can be successful.

  • Trump and Israel/ Palestine: Art of the Deal or End of 2-States?
    • No, "the imbalance in power of the opposing negotiating sides" is not the reason for no agreement. There is always an imbalance in such situations. The reason for no agreement is that the only possible solution, equal rights, is off the table for the Israelis.

      Imagine if equal rights was off the table in negotiating the end to Apartheid. Would segregation have come to an end if equal rights could not be discussed?

      We must stop letting Israel dictate the scope of any peace plan. We have 70 years of history to know how that works out.

  • How America's Myth of the Infallible Generals gets us in Trouble
    • Here is a strategy that allows America to "win" these wars and "fixes" Putin at the same time (and probably gets him overthrown). That is, give the Middle East to the Russians! Close our bases, withdraw, stop feeding the flames, go home.

      Let him prop up the world's last monarchies. Let him prop up the world's last racist state. Let him contend with the various insurgencies, thuggish militias, and holly warriors.

      You might say "what about the oil"? That is so 20th century! We are rapidly moving away from oil anyway. Until we get to the oil free future we have enough at home to carry us over.

      Let Putin (and China) worry about the Middle East. We have more important things to do.

  • Is Trump Palestine’s New Hope?
    • There can be no peace with Israel without reforming Israel itself. Israel is expansionist: how could a Palestinian state exist alongside a country that believes that it has the right to grab any land that it desires.

      It left southern Lebanon only after 20 years of punishment by Hezbollah. It only gave the Sinai back because it got something it wanted more. It made a grab for Suez with France and Britain.

      Israel is bigoted, racist, oppressive, and expansionist. These are the things that need to be fixed. Only then will Israel have peace. How could it be otherwise?

  • Trump intervenes in the Great Mideast Civil War in Syria
    • For Israel Assad is a contained threat, a managed threat. He is a status quo that Israel can live with. Assad would not permit a Hizbullah to operate out of his territory. Assad is acceptable to Israel.

    • So we have just switched sides in this war! We had been growing to accept that the Syrian government was the lesser of two evils. Now we are fighting with ISIS????

      Previously we tried to create a third side by recruiting "moderate" fighters. These guys would fight for "Truth, Justice, and the American Way". After getting 2 or 3 "properly vetted" guys we admitted that was not going to work. When you offer free money and guns you can always get some guys to stand in line with their hands out.

      Next there will be pictures of dead women and children caused by our bombing. We will be the new bad guy supplanting Assad.

      We have no strategy in this war, we have no strategy in the Middle East aside from dropping bombs on the latest bad guys. Time to get out!

  • Israeli Software to plant Propaganda on Social Media
    • It is hard to imagine what "ideas" that they might plant? Haven't we already heard them all? The hasbra brigades have been active for some time now without a lot of effect. This simply automates the process.

  • With Trump, has the Israeli Right Wing caught the Car?
    • The most hopeful change on the horizon in the Palestinian struggle is the BDS movement. Israelis have long demanded that the Palestinians give up any violence in their resistence to oppression. BDS is the answer to that demand. It is in fact exactly what Israelis have long wanted even though they are complaining about it now.

  • Is Israel's Netanyahu running Rings around the inexperienced Trump?
    • To see that coat of cheap paint that was the "two state solution" stripped off the reality of Israel is breathtaking. But it is also refreshing and necessary. You will notice that Israel no longer even tries to argue for it's legitimacy, that argument is lost. They no longer assert that they are "the good guys" that no longer flies. In the arena of public discussion they can only attempt to silence any dissenting voices. We see this is playing out on campuses across the country.

      At the same time Israel has become more arrogant and demanding; more arms, more money, and more devotion. This is a trend that will end as they always do in divorce, we are just going to get sick of them. You can see this already among younger people and even younger Jews.

      Support remains rock solid in Washington, but even within that bubble, reality will eventually leak in.

  • Screwed?: 4 Top International Crises we have to depend on Trump to Resolve
    • China, North Korea, and Russia represent very different challenges compared to the Middle East. With the first three there is a government in control that we can talk to. Any solution that may be developed is likely to be honored.

      In much of the Middle East there is no one to talk to. Any deal made is unlikely to persist. It is a situation of revolution, liberation, and throwing off foreign domination. It is the emerging of the post colonial period in full flower. We are no more likely to achieve "victory" than Russia or any other foreign player. Indeed, we cannot even define what we mean by “victory”.

      The first three challenges can be managed through diplomacy. The last can only be resolved by leaving.

  • Syria: Now that the US has Failed, what does 2017 Hold?
    • "unknown combatants on the ground before properly vetting them"??? This was a continuation of a long standing US policy. Creating an insurgency using bags of money and truckloads of weapons has been US policy for a long time. It has been successful (in the short term) across the world from Iran '53, many places in South America, etc.

      Now it has failed! Will we stop doing it? I hope so but I am doubtful.

      If Russia has very modest goals such as the maintenance of their naval base on the Mediterranean then they may succeed. As such, they would be happy with any victor, Assad or ISIS, so long as the base was guaranteed. If they seek wider control then they will be in the same quagmire as the US.

  • Now is the time for Obama to Recognize Palestine
    • Juan, please lets stop this talk of two states. Ponder for a moment the meaning of the word "viable" when describing the Palestinian state. Would such a Palestinian state have secure borders? Would it have a military that could stand up to Israel? Would Palestinian Israelis have equal rights?

      The two states talk was just a method of getting rid of the "wrong" type of people. That is the "liberal" solution? A disgrace! That is just as morally bankrupt as the rightist position.

      By going along with the two state ploy we have allowed an actual solution to be pushed off by how many years: 10, 20, 70? The solution is an Israel of equal rights, nothing else. Lets stop being useful idiots.

  • Israel's Netanyahu et al. Throw Trump-like Tantrums after UNSC Slam
    • The world is sick of the moralizing by this thug. The US will come around to this conclusion too. We were late in condemning apartheid but we eventually did the right thing. We (eventually) will do the right thing here too. The facts are just too obvious, the crime is just too big.

  • Stifling the debate on Israel
    • Israel, in the public eye, has moved from "respected member of the community of nations (with a few problems)" to "a country that oppresses it's minorities" to "a grim joke". This parallels a quote sometimes attributed to Gandhi: "First they ignore you; then they abuse you; then they crack down on you and then you win."

      The attempt to defend Israel reaches new absurd levels with: “condemning the use of the word ‘Zionist’ as pejorative, and claiming that such a use “has no place in civil society.” “

      Here is a ridiculous application of this idea. If I say "you are a Zionist" with a look of admiration on my face then I am good. If I say the same thing with a sneer then off to jail.

  • Jewish Students and Scholars Object to US Bill Banning Criticism of Israel
    • Is this not Israel throwing in the towel? They have given up on the propaganda war. They have lost control of the narrative. They have lost the "Israel is a legitimate nation" argument and are now seeking to squelch any discussion at all. When was the last time you heard "Israel is a light unto the nations" or "the IDF is the world's most moral army". Now such statements only garner a grim snicker.

      Of course we should fight this bill as an affront to free speech but we should also recognize it as significant step on the path toward success.

  • Russian Pundit: Fall of East Aleppo a Geopolitical Turning Point toward Multi-polar World
    • I wonder if this might be the end of the "military can solve all problems" foreign policy. In the future we may face third world countries that cannot be intimidated with threats of force since they may have Russian (or Chinese) backing. We will have to use diplomacy again. This may not be a bad thing; it will restrain the warheads in Washington.

  • Why Internment of Japanese Americans is an outrageous Model for registering Muslim-Americans
    • Unfortunately, your arguments would be parried using various legal maneuvers. The problem is that this is an unpopular minority and demagogues can use that fact to do what they want. Laws will be written to justify the crime.

      The origin of the problem lies elsewhere. It is the wars! Many horrible things; torture, assassination, spying on citizens, and internment, are all justified with the statement "but we are at war."

      War is corrosive to society. Strong societies can withstand a period of war for a limited time but the damage becomes cumulative. Even the 4 years of WWII (a real war) resulted in the internment of the Japanese and spying on innocent Americans. Look at the damage that 15 years of war (an adventure really) has done to the US.

      Until we end these wars we will be continually discussing which vital liberty we must give up because of "The War".

  • America through the Hell-Gate of Horn
    • The middle east was a powder keg ready to explode and has been for 50+ years.

      Did 1979 contribute to 9/11? Probably. But if 1979 had not happened, 9/11 or something like it would have happened anyway. Something would have triggered the explosion. That is the nature of the end of empire.

      This is no different than the British, French, Russian, Roman experience at the end of their empires. We complain only because it is happening to us.

      My hope is that we survive this as a liberal democratic society. I will grant you that things look dark now but I am hopeful. My, perhaps forlorn, hope is that Trump will look at these wars, Israel, empire, GWOT and see that they are losers and move to cut our losses.

  • ISIL Boasts: America will go down to defeat in the Streets of Mosul
    • Daesh can win this by denying our side victory. We have been here before; that is what happened last time.

      What happens when the Iraqi army refuses to do the door to door fighting as required to take a city (like last time)? What happens if the militias enter the city and engage in atrocities (like last time)? Will we say "not our fault" (like last time)?

      Even if we do get something called "victory" by killing everyone associated with Daesh it will only be temporary. Until the underlying dispute between Suni and Shia is resolved this battle will be fought again. And we. as westerners. can play only a minimal role in that.

      These are not out battles, we contribute nothing except for guns. It is time for us to get out.

  • If Spec Ops are the future of the US Military, it isn't Winning many Wars
    • Have we become like the old USSR: armed with a hammer everything seems to be a nail?

  • Is Turkey's Pivot to Russia about Erdogan's Survival?
    • Something not discussed: is the Turkish military no longer the bastion of secularity that it once was? Could the military step in and restore (secular) order (in their opinion) as it has in the past? Or has it be emasculated by Erdogan? Is the idea of Gulen (a religious movement) sleeper cells in the Army plausible?

  • Reinventing Saudi Arabia after Oil: The Prince's $2 Trillion Gamble
    • The problem seems more basic: will the average Saudi do the type of work now done by foreign guest workers? Will they get dirty working in a factory? Will they sweep the streets?

      Life has been grand for the average Saudi, how will they deal with the change?

  • US finally acknowledging al-Qaeda factor in breakdown of Ceasefire
    • The Russians have clear, MODEST, and attainable goals for their adventures in the Syria. They want to retain their military bases on the Mediterranean. If Assad is part of that, great, if not then that is OK too. The US has none of their advantages. Our goals are vague by comparison.

      Clear? Who are our friends, who are our enemies? What is the difference between them today? What will be the difference tomorrow?

      Modest? We want to call the shots everywhere in the Middle East. Not just prop up Israel; we also want to maintain the world's last monarchies.

      Attainable? The era of American domination over there is coming to a close. We exert ever more effort for ever fewer results.

  • Unconstitutional: How the Imperial Presidents went to War all by themselves
    • There is a major difference in the wars mentioned. The Civil War, WWI, and WWII were major wars that if lost would have had serious consequences for the US and the world. We had to win!

      Our wars in the Middle East by contrast are adventures. Further, losing these wars would have better consequence for the US then winning them. With a loss we get to go home and bind our wounded ego. Winning them means eternal occupation and bloodshed.

      Wars are damaging to democracy and civil society. Let us recognize these wars as the last gasps of our domination of the Middle East and get out. The era of colonialism is long gone!

  • Panama Papers Expose Massive Global Corruption Scandal (TYT)
    • Mossack Fonseca is the 4th largest law firm handling such accounts. I wonder who are 1, 2, and 3? Also, who are 5, 6, 7, 8, etc?

  • 3 Surprising reasons Saudi Arabia may be getting out of the Oil Business
    • Good but! Saudi Arabia giving up the oil business is like a drug dealer deciding to take his money and go legit.

      Both excellent decisions.

      However the business knowledge that they both had developed does not apply well to any new endeavor. A mountain of money does not guarantee success. Most likely they will return to their old business in spite of their admirable desire to get out.

  • Americans Must Challenge Congress on its Knee-Jerk Support for Israeli Expansionism
    • The strongest argument against the two state solution is to imagine that it exists. In such a scenario, would Palestine be allowed a military strong enough to resist Israel? Of course not, everyone says.

      The resulting situation is that any provocation, real or imagined, would result in an Israeli incursion. In essence, the current situation.

      Would Palestine have free and open borders with it's neighbors? No, Israel would insist on inspection rights to prevent unapproved (by Israel) imports. The same situation that exists today.

      The two state solution would be nothing different than what exists now. It would be a new label slapped on what we have now.

      This problem will not be fixed by changing the Palestinians but in reforming Israel. The Palestinians are demanding nothing more than what any human wants.

  • Saudi Arabia 'Ready' to send Thousands of Ground Troops to Syria
    • This sounds like the start of a shooting war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Might is also be the start of a shooting war between Russia and Saudi Arabia? And ultimately, a shooting war between Russia and the US. Not worth it!

      It is time to recognize that there are too many sides, each side shifting on a regular basis. We were clueless in the "simple" cases of Afghanistan and Iraq. Now that it is complicated our only sensible strategy is to get out.

  • Tahrir 5 Years Later: The Hurdles to Democratization & Arab Youth Revolts
    • "the failure of most Arab states to transition to democracy"? You are showing another Western failing: impatience. It has been 5 years since this revolutionary period has started. It takes much longer than that.

      Plot out a timeline for the transition to democracy in France. List all the "empires", "monarchies", and "republics. Don't forget the almost military coup of 1963.

      How about Germany, a lot of "interesting" events on their path to democracy.

      England? Lots of interesting history there, mostly blood drenched.

      How about the US? Don't forget to add the Civil War and the Civil rights movement on our path to democracy for everyone.

      The Arab world is just starting. They will have sort out their religious issued, doing it the way Europe did. They have to throw off foreign domination and colonialism the way Africa did. They have taken the first step on a long road. We should recognize that, it is the same long road that we have traveled.

  • A radical solution to Daesh/ ISIL: Stop Intervening in the Middle East
    • Miss the mark? How so? After 14 years of fruitless war, what other strategy is possible other than to get out? Please give us your strategy to "win".

  • Palestinian population to exceed that of Jews by 2020 in Israel/Palestine
    • I expect Israel's PR machinery to be fired up over this. Look at this quote from Mr. Ettinger on December 11, 2015 on the same site in his article: "The demographic scaremongering fraternity".

      Quote:
      Historically, policy makers and public opinion molders have issued and employed (and sometime managed) official statistics, in order to advance their agenda, influence public opinion and intensify pressure on their rivals.
      Unquote.

      I think that the "sometimes managed" reference is operative here.

    • It is already minority rule, unless you accept the results of almost 70 years of ethnic cleansing.

  • Top 7 Middle East Foreign Policy Challenges in 2016
    • For 14 years America has been undergoing a full, frothing at the mouth, case of war fever. Listening to most of the Republican candidates and Hillary it seems that the fever continues. I hope that the election will show that it is subsiding.

      After the fever as subsided, the like outcome will be apathy to the Middle East. We may take on an attitude of: those ungrateful Arabs! after all that we have done for them! we are leaving! Given the current war fever, this will be a good thing. Our current foreign policy in the Middle East is little more than deciding who to bomb.

      You say that it is common for many Arabs to believe in conspiracy theories about the US? Why not, they just have to listen to our neocons talk. While they may sound like crazies baying at the moon, they are in fact representative of a major faction of the US foreign policy establishment.

  • Clinton: Trump chief recruiter for ISIL; Sanders: Take out Daesh First, Assad Later
    • The west has been using and abusing the Middle East for a century now and before that it was the Ottomans: that era is coming to an end. Any armed action that we take, direct or indirect, will have a backlash. We can offer a platform to resolve these disputes but we cannot make anyone do anything. Those days are over.

      We never ask "what comes next?" Defeat IS, overthrow Assad? What comes next? Just like we never asked the same question about Iraq or Libya. The Middle East is becoming independent, they no longer want our "guidance".

      It was good to hear the blowback from our activity in Iran 60 years ago mentioned. Perhaps the idea that blowback often results from actions taken years earlier will be publicly discussed. Hopefully we can stop yelling "terrorism" in a panic and start understanding the reality of the Middle East and the reality of out foreign policy over there.

  • Should an al-Qaeda Ally have a seat at the Syrian Table? Al-Assad rejects talks w/ any armed Group
    • This is how wars that you lose end. We signed a "peace with honor" deal with Hanoi to end the Vietnam war after they killed 58,000 Americans.

      If this deal or any other serves to get the US out of the Middle East then it is a good thing.

  • ISIL/ Daesh can be Starved of Oil Revenue: Here's How
    • Oh dear, another one of those "money is the lifeblood of the insurgency" type arguments. It is not: the lifeblood of an insurgency is a cause! It is the cause that draws thousands of fighters from around the world. These fighters know the odds of being killed in this battle but they keep coming. These fighters don't come because the cause is well funded.

      Many seem to think that bombing some poor working guy driving a truck is going to hurt the cause, no it strengthens it.

      You want too kill the cause? Listen the why they are fighting, they are happy to tell you.

  • What's behind Russia's military build-up in Syria?
    • If Da'esh is defeated in Syria where will the fighters go? Perhaps to Saudi Arabia, the country that gave birth to Islamic fundamentalism? Overthrowing that corrupt monarchy would give them near unlimited resources. Would the US want that?

      Might some of them return to their old Soviet republics? The Russians surely don't want that, as mentioned in the article.

      Perhaps both sides want the Syrian war to continue to bubble but not boil over. That likely serves Israel’s interests as well.

  • Top 5 Reasons Obama defeated GOP, AIPAC effort to vote Down Iran Deal
    • This is a good thing in another way. Now that there is a divide between the Democrats and Republicans over Israel we, the American people, will finally have a choice. Previously there was no way to vote on the issue of the US blindly supporting Israel. I hope that in the future voting Democrat will mean a vote for a more balanced approach with our policies in the Middle East.

  • Israel and the BDS debate: two scholars respectfully agree to differ
    • I am a firm supporter of BDS. I understand the argument around DBS when applied in some areas such as the academic BDS. There is a distinction to be made.

      I attended a talk given by an Israeli professor at a local college here in the US. His talk was essentially the genteel racism that you often get from defenders of Israel. I confronted him on that issue in front of the audience. This upset some in the audience and some agreed with me. This was an excellent outcome; it is a discussion that we need to have.

      It would have been very bad if the academic DBS had prevented this guy from speaking. I am for freedom of speech, even odious speech. David Duke of the KKK should be able to speak on campus. Students also have the right to demonstrate in opposition.

      However, there should be an academic DBS against any joint projects with Israeli colleges. This is no different than the economic BDS against Israel which we all should support.

  • Obama: No more US troops to fight Daesh/ ISIL, but more Training
    • This seems to be the end of the "Do Something" strategy that the US has persued in the Middle East. We have done just about everything to make things go our way but they all have failed. Of course "doing something" has an effect, just not the effect that we want. After a decade and a half this strategy has been exhausted.

      When we do something we are taking sides and the other side naturally considers us the enemy. They then "take the war to the enemy" as any good military commander would do. Hence we have the terrorism in America and Europe.

      The solution should be obvious; get out! Want to stop terrorism? Get out! How much terrorism does Brazil suffer? Are they involved militarily in the Middle East? There should be a lesson there.

  • Kaplan: An Impish Desire for Imperial Déjà Vu
    • I always wonder what it would have been like to construct an empire if nuclear weapons had been available. How would London have faired while adding jewels to their crown if one of the unwilling jewels acquired such a weapon?

      We seem to think that we are operating in the 19th century!

  • The Middle East Policy of President Bernie Sanders
  • Top 7 Ways Assassination Fails USA as Policy
    • Another point: eliminating someone that we may be able to talk to. After an assassination attempt, successful or not, the opposing leadership would likely view any such talks as a ploy to try again.

      We did need Ho Chi Minh’s cooperation to get us out of Vietnam.

  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable
    • One way to help the Palestinians rebuild and to constrain Israel would be to place import duties on Israeli goods. Each country that imports Israeli goods would impose a tariff on those goods to be used for the benefit of the Palestinians. The money would be used to rebuild Gaza and compensate the Palestinians for stolen land.

      The beauty of this is that there need be no international agreement for this to work. Each country could act independently. They would collect the tariff and turn it over to the appropriate Palestinian organizations.

  • Terrorism craves an audience and we are playing into Islamic State's hands by watching
    • It is not terrorism that causes “NSA mass surveillance” and “draconian legislation”; it is war that is the cause. War is the universal excuse, it is the universal rationale. Anything can be justified because of “the war”. We had that during Vietnam, WWII, WWI, and our Civil War. End the wars and we can get back to normal (I hope).

      The warmongers in Washington would love to stop all un-massaged reporting from the wars. They would want the Pentagon to be the only news source. I give an emphatic NO! We must have all the worst of it in our face. Not only ISIS atrocities but also when we wipe out whole families in a “surgical” strike. If we see the horror we may begin to understand and then stop.

  • A Way out of the Gaza Trap
    • Some still seem to grasping at the “two state solution” straw. It does not exist and never did. This problem needs to be solved, not shoved under that particular rug.

      We seem constrained by the categorical statement “The Israelis will never agree” every time someone suggests that Israel become a country with equal rights for everyone. While history does not repeat itself it certainly does rhyme.

      We heard the same declaration in the old days of segregation. “White people will never accept African Americans as equals.” We have been there, we should recognize script. Had we dug in out heals and insisted “segregation now, segregation forever” what would America look like now?

      Same story in South Africa, this has been a reoccurring theme, why don’t we recognize it? We keep hearing “two state solution” as if the answer is to get rid of the people we don’t like (wrong color, wrong religion). Those on the left supporting this don’t sound much different than the “mow the lawn” crowd.

  • ISIS: How to Defeat a Phony "Caliphate"
    • We need to stop saying “If we had only done this” then things would have worked out to our liking. We need to recognize that events in the Middle East are out of our control. If we wanted a better outcome today we would have had to stop supporting despots, monarchs and the racist state decades ago. We missed our chance when it would have made a difference; it is way too late now.

      We can certainly change things, stir the pot, by supplying arms and money. But we can only sit back and hope for our desired results. Of course such stirring of the pot makes enemies. Not stirring the pot may cause contempt, “why aren’t you helping us”, but it does not make decade’s long enemies.

      Of course this is the way it had to be. Powerful countries always play the game for their own gain. Short term gains show up on this quarter’s balance sheet, long term? Who knows! Long term is where we find ourselves now.

      Ps: Let’s stop quoting “Islamic Law” to condemn what people we don’t like until we are ready to conform to “Christian Law”. The hypocrisy gets a little too thick. They see it, we should too.

  • Weapons paid for by US are Missing in Afghanistan: Did they go to the Taliban?
    • “Weapons paid for by the US have gone missing.”
      US money in Afghanistan has “gone missing.”
      US allies in Afghanistan have “gone missing.”
      Afghan support for the US mission has also “gone missing.”
      There seems to be a trend here!

  • Israel's Gaza Campaign Endangers US Security: Why Obama & Kerry are Furious
    • This is a cycle: we have been here before, we should recognize the pattern. This is the “shoot” phase of the “shoot and cry” policy that Israel has been following for years. Cast lead, the Intifadas, are previous iterations of this cycle. When the shoot phase is over they will crank up the hasbra machine and begin the “cry” phase. Then all will be well in their world and they will prepare for the next cycle.

      Will we fall for it this time? Almost certainly, it has worked every other time. The hasbra is not working so well in the rest of the world but the Israelis don’t care. Perhaps one of these times it will stop working in the US but I am not hopeful.

  • Where is Palestine?
    • The League did indeed hand Palestine to the British as you say. That was the mechanism where the war booty of the collapsed Ottoman Empire was divvied up. The European victors got their pieces. Colonialism without the name.

      You are quite correct to bring the UN into this. The UN, an instrument of the western powers, gave Palestine to a bunch of Europeans and Americans. Does that make Europe and America any less guilty?

      Curious that you say that the British did not own Palestine, then did the UN “own” Palestine? If they did not own Palestine then by what right did they give it to anyone other than the indigenous people, the Palestinians?

      Is the UN in the business of handing out homelands to random people, however deserving? Clearly handing Palestine to a bunch of invaders did not work out very well. Perhaps the UN should undo their mistake and give Palestine back to the Palestinians. Reasonable solution?

    • One point that I rarely hear is that Brittan did not "own" Palestine. They held it by force of arms just as with India, Egypt, China, and much of Africa. When the British Empire collapsed, the indigenous peoples got their countries back. The Indians got India. The Chinese got China. This was true around the world except for Palestine. The British gave Palestine to a bunch of Europeans and Americans. Quite bizarre really!

      Israel has no more “right” to exist than the British Empire. They are a remnant of that Empire as were Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa. Those other remnants of empire are good examples of the choice that Israel has: accept your minorities or be destroyed.

  • What the West means by "stability" in the Middle East
    • Empires always want stability especially during their waning days. The British Empire wanted stability during the twentieth century. The USSR wanted stability in the 1980’s. Today Washington wants stability. That is the reoccurring pattern.

      Curiously, empires do not want “stability” during their expansion phase. When victories are guaranteed who would want stability? Victory is much sweeter! It is depressing to sit here and watch these “interesting times”. What a waste!

  • Quashing Jewish Dissent on Israel
    • The Israeli/Palestinian is always labeled "complex". This is, of course, a way of saying that it is unsolvable. Unsolvable suits Israel very well, it excuses them from any attempt to solve it and the status quo will live on. It may be difficult but it is not complex.

      Segregation and Apartheid were difficult but not complex. Oppression is actually quite simple and the solution is obvious. The solution to Israeli oppression is to end it. The solution is for Israel to become a civil society, to become a country of equal rights.

      Let us not be confused with this carefully crafted language that justifies doing nothing. When we start using clear language to describe what we all see then what was impossible (complex) will become simple (and doable).

  • Stop Saying 'If X fired Rockets at U.S.': It's Racist, & assumes we're Colonial
    • I think that these rationalizations can be compared to a piece of actual American history; we need not construct unlikely scenarios. Some of us are old enough to have heard the language of oppression: “If we don’t keep them down they will rape our white women.” “They don’t mind riding at the back of the bus.” “Separate but equal.” “They are not smart enough to vote.”

      During the era of segregation whites would hear of an actual (or imagined) crime where a black person had attacked a white person and then use that as a justification for an orgy of lynchings. What we are seeing in Palestine is a lynching. The Israelis know American history well; they are feeding it back to us!

  • In the Deaths of 3 Israeli Teens, Likud Policies are also Implicated
    • Why is there no discussion of one of the worst criminal elements here; the Israeli parents?

      What other criminals bring their children along as they commit their crimes. Do bank robbers bring their children as they ply their trade? Do organized crime hitmen have a “bring your children to work day”? Why do settlers get a pass on that aspect of their crimes?

  • Is Iraq Actually Falling Apart? What Social Science Surveys Show
    • There is clearly a mistranslation of the word "neighbor". What was the original word in the survey in Arabic and what were its implications? We know that surveys, with careful wording, can me made to show most anything.

  • Don't Trust the Bombers on Iraq: "Shock and Awe" Never Works
    • I remember those days of the Vietnam war. Every night they had the body count on the news. The thinking was that with the enormous bloodshed reported, we would win. Right?

      You might remember the early days of the Iraq war the pentagon would say “we don’t do body counts!” They don’t want any shades of Vietnam here. However over the years you would start to hear impressive body count reports from the Pentagon. At that rate would have to win. Right?

      It seems that in these wars we end up reporting body counts because that is the only statistic that makes it sound like we are winning. So now we hear noises that we can turn the tide of this war by what? Body counts again!

      Mark, we do have the power to create enormous bloodshed, I will grant you that. We do not have the power to win this war, whatever “winning” means.

  • US Military Fail: Long Asian Land Wars a Route to Disaster since 1963
    • This is the wrong way to slice the issue. I agree with everything said but it misses a major point. The US military is indeed "the finest fighting force the world has ever known” it is just not useful for the jobs it is asked to do. I have no doubt that it would handily defeat an adversary such as Russia or China. The world may be an uninhabitable ruin afterwards but we would “win”.

      It is these wars against national liberation movements that we lose. It is a curious turn that in the 50’s and 60’s we sided with such liberation movements as they brought down the old colonial order. That got us a lot of creds with the third world.

      Now we seem to have forgotten that the age of colonialism is over. We can’t make “them” do what we want. Our colonialism is no better than the colonialism of old. We try, we kill lots of people, but it just does not work.

      I suspect that we will continue to try for a while longer, but eventually we will throw up our hands and complain bitterly that we were only trying to help those miserable bastards and finally go home. That will be a great day!

  • Dear GOP: The US has negotiated with Terrorists and Amnestied Them all through History
    • The only bad thing about this trade is that we did not give them all prisoners in Guantanamo. Had the President done that he would have solved a second problem as well.

      To solve a third problem we should give Guantanamo back to Cuba and remove that temptation for future presidents. Guantanamo is a place for the US government where anything goes, our little gulag. We should have no such thing.

  • Is the US Mil. Training of African Special Ops a prelude to disaster?
    • Mr. Polk is an optimist! We may begin our meddling with an understanding that is "notoriously crude or totally lacking" but soon thereafter other interests come into play. Countries with natural resources attract American business interests and they want our government to protect their assets. We go in as bumbling rubes but we soon create what is in essence an armed wing of American corporations.

      As bad as that is we also have a darker purpose in some countries, that is: protecting Israel's interests. Israel does not want stable well run countries in it's neighborhood. Such countries threaten Israel, countries always on the verge of civil war do not.

  • Reconciliation between Judaism and Islam is Possible
    • I am troubled when people say that the key to this problem is "understanding". It sounds too professorial, too academic. Would one say that the solution to segregation was "understanding"? Would Apartheid have been ended with "understanding"? The solution comes through action and change.

      This seems to be an effort to divert attention from the real problem: the denial of peoples rights based on their ethnic origin and religion. Fix that and understanding will be had. Like with segregation and Apartheid the solution is to end Zionism.

  • Get ready for More Disappearing Airliners: Obama moots giving Syrian Rebels Anti-Aircraft Missiles
    • Of all the possible bad outcomes of supplying manpads to the rebels consider this: what if a US made manpad finds its way to Chechen rebels who use it to take down a Russian airliner. Given the current events; it could lead to another "assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand” situation. That could truly be “the war to end all wars”.

      Another consideration: this is 30 year old technology. There is nothing unique or special about them. Aren’t Iran, Pakistan, Syria, etc. perfectly capable of making their own manpads? Isn’t proliferation something that we are going to have to deal with from now on?

  • Palestine's Abbas finally says will Go to UN over Israeli Squatters
    • The framing of the "peace talks" as a negotiation with “give and take” by each side is wrong. The Palestinians have little left to give and Israel will just take it when they are ready. The past 66 years have taught that hard lesson.

      Consider the similar negotiations to end Apartheid in South Africa or segregation in the US. There was no “give and take” the only thing to be negotiated was the process whereby those horrible systems were dismantled. Likewise there can be no such negotiation with Israel: there can only be a negotiation on how to transition Israel into becoming a civil society. They must give up their Apartheid and their segregation. We should not give cover for this charade.

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