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Total number of comments: 75 (since 2013-11-28 14:43:02)


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  • Syria: Russia Targets Daesh in Palmyra despite Drawdown
  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria
    • Sykes-Picot remains a huge part of the problem, and is on its way to a richly deserved end. There will be a long and terrible period of "house-sorting". If only global and regional powers could address this and other key issues rather than constantly attacking symptoms with the bluntest tools, maybe we would see some progress.

  • The Wider Appeal of ISIL and Sunni Grievances
    • Azeem's comments are well-taken. The Shia and Alawite populations of Iraq, Syria, and the jazeera have been severely oppressed and reduced to grinding poverty for centuries, yet they have not resorted to such barbarism. There are other factors at play: Wahhabism is an ideological element that has been dismissed on this blog but is essential to the logic of Daesh. The foreign policy goals of several regional powers also converge to make Daesh useful for various reasons.

      But Dr. Cole, you are suggesting that Daesh is a flash-in-the-pan as Zarqawi was? Ironic considering Daesh grew out of the movement Zarqawi started. What lies in store after this current flash-in-the-pan is defeated?

  • The Arab Political Crisis: It isn't a Matter of Civilization and it isn't Unique
    • Your analysis is more sober although Milhem's might be read as more of a lament than an analysis, and on those grounds one can sympathize. It is crushing to see the hopes for one's home and people vanish and be replaced by a situation so unthinkable. I weep inside for Syria every day, the Syria that used to be or could have been.

  • 3 Years War? Obama to Bomb Syria in fight against ISIL
    • Your analyses are often marked with expressions of sympathy with Sunni rejectionism whether on the Iraqi or the Syrian sides of the border. It is noteworthy that in spite of centuries of brutal disenfranchisement, neither the Alawites nor the Shias of Iraq went on mad dog rampages to eliminate minorities, sell women into slavery, and behead innocents by the scores. Isn't that curious?

  • Israel can't Afford to Lose Jews Like Me
    • It is truly regrettable that views like Mr. Schanzer's can be regarded as 'liberal' at all. A liberal would support the Palestinian right of resistance to occupation, the immediate end to the unlawful and immoral blockade of Gaza, and would renounce once and for all the crude dehumanizing propaganda that has become part and parcel of Jewish discourse on the Palestinian issue.

  • Who are Iraq's Sunni Arabs and What did we Do to them?
    • This is unfortunately a whitewash of a community that has had extreme difficulty in managing its rejectionist elements. The Shi'a response to the implosion of the state in 2003 and afterwards was not the result of "Shiite supremacism" as you grotesquely claim; it was in response to persistent sectarian violence over an extended period of time.

  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • The US and Iran have long had common interests and the fact that they are not open allies is senseless. Were it not for an increasingly sentimental, as opposed to interest-base, attachment to Israel, this natural alliance would be more likely to take hold.

  • Google's Larry Page: We can't Have NSA Spying and a Functioning Democracy
    • Seems terribly disingenuous for a man at the helm of an industry that depends upon near-ubiquitous surveillance to suddenly play the hero. He has to trot out some humanitarian purpose behind it all to justify this disturbing totalitarian trend we are all now part of. Google and the NSA are two sides of the same fascist coin.

  • Dear Arab Liberals: The Enemies of your Enemies aren't Necessarily your Friends
    • Also, I know very few Syrians or Syria observers who are uncritically pro-regime. Those of us who support the regime do so mainly because we know that every other option means the dissolution of Syria and many more years of unbridled misery, not out of some committment to Baathism. Or do you think the vaunted Arab Liberals will sweep in and scare away Al-Qaeda and ISIS with their tired slogans and face paint?

    • Arab Liberalism is mostly confined to convenient sloganeering, and the reason it is a perennial failure is because it neither roots itself in rational grounds nor does it develop a thoroughgoing program for inclusive change. Arab liberals mimic what they think actual secular liberals would say, but at the core they adhere to and adore brute power politics as we see in Egypt.

  • Director Steven Spielberg speaks at UN Holocaust Remembrance Day: "There are no Bystanders to History"
    • It's a shame that our human tendency is to recount the horrors committed on our own people and to forget the ones our people committed on others. Only a filmmaker the stature of Speilberg could make a film about an event like the Nakba for instance, but that would take an act of superhuman courage I'm afraid.

  • Perennial US Rush to War: Syrian Chem issue was too Foggy to Justify Bombing
    • I am wondering if now Mr Cole is backpedalling from his prior certainty on the issue. Those amongst the readership who raised legitimate concerns about the Obama administration's narrative were labeled "crackpot conspiracy theorists" or some such.

  • Syria Conference Roiled by Shouting Matches, Insults
    • It is hard to see, from my admittedly ignorant and non-diplomat perspective, how these negotiations can bear much fruit at all when Iran is excluded while countries not even peripheral to the conflict are included (Spain? South Africa?). I understand the long-standing US middle-school approach to diplomacy where you simply stomp the feet and refuse to talk to the enemy, but why were so many uninvolved and relatively powerless countries invited to this conference?

  • Jon Stewart: NSA Totally Doing all those Things Obama Admin denied they were Doing
    • I agree with your comment completely. But yet since the Snowden leaks, to call the US a "police state" substantially understates the gravity of the situation. There has never been anything like this before.

  • Syrian Civil War Spreads to Lebanon: Beirut Shaken by Iran Embassy Blast, kills 23, wounds 150
    • While Saad Hariri's brand of Sunnism is not theologically Salafi, he and March 14 have been vigorously coding Shi'ism and Shi'as as Iranian agents for many years, and are hand in hand with the Saudis on the matter. Even since yesterday they have been blaming the victim.

  • Dear Press: Stop Enthusing About Habitable Planets until People like Va.'s Cuccinelli Stop Destroying this One
    • This kind of reflection should be more widespread. Especially the zero-zilch part. Unfortunately it is scientism rather than evangelical Christianity that spouts that pseudo-scientific nonsense. The science-deniers are in fact far less dangerous than the mindless tech-fetishists.

  • Alshabab attack on Nairobi a Sign of Political Defeat
  • The Hubris of the Syria Interventionists
    • There is a great deal we could be doing to improve the humanitarian crisis, starting for example with sanctioning the Saudis and Qataris for actively supporting jihadi death squads in the country. This is the elephant in the room of all these discussions.

  • Top Ten things Americans need to Know about Syria if they're going to Threaten to Bomb It
    • Maybe 'New-Agey' has a judgmental ring. Syncretic is a better descriptor, a religion that borrows elements from other religions. Alawism is deeply mystical and beatiful, containing some of the last echoes of late antiquity, and is clearly a continuity of Plotinian and Zoroastrian traditions.

  • Al-Qaeda as Fringe Cult: 12 Years Later, Heretical Text of 9/11 Hijackers Still Withheld by FBI (Kurzman)
    • It depends on the original text; there are some formulations that are quite routine that could have been translated as in the Post article, as in bismillah, rabbi wa rabb aba'i. Even if it were bismillahi wa bismi wa bism ahli or something like that would it be necessarily be heretical?

      Another issue is that the political beliefs, as opposed to the religious ones, of the 9-11 attackers were not so 'heretical' in the sense that a significant contingent in the ME at the time felt the US richly deserved to pay for its active and tacit crimes in the region. This attitude cut across sectarian lines, especially after the events at Jenin.

  • Obama goes to Congress on Syria as his International Support Collapses
    • You mentioned that Congress wasn't involved in the decision to attack Libya, though it should be noted that the House voted by a significant margin against authorization for the action.

  • Levison of Lavabits on FBI gag order: "There's information I can't share with my lawyer"
    • This chilling interview alone should disabuse us of the notion that we are living in a democracy.

  • Neoliberalism Fail: Top 8 Ways Privatization has Harmed us All (Buchheit)
    • Excellent post, but a point needs to be corrected: Charter schools are, by law, public schools. They are not to be equated with "privatized" education. Charters are intended to develop innovative approaches to education that will one day complement or supplant the approaches that fail under the current institutional model. Government-run doesn't have to mean my-way-or-the-highway, especially in education where the highly diverse nature of student learning requires dynamic methods. As a charter school board member with many years of experience in the failing public school model, I think the left needs a tremendous re-think on this issue.

  • Egypt: A People‚Äôs Revolution, Not a Crisis or Coup (Nawal El Saadawi)
    • This piece is naive and hyperbolic. Saadawi really beleives that nearly half the Egyptian population took to the streets. Is she sure the number wasn't 80 million, no maybe even 110 million?

      From the time Mubarak was removed the military has been all over this so-called revolution. Revolutions are not comprised of bellicose self-important rantings in the streets, however liberating those might feel to long-repressed populations. A revolution by definition overturns the power structures in a society, and Egypt's elite are still absolutely and fully entrenched, and they're not going anywhere.

      Saadawi has long lived in a fantasy Egypt of her own creation. I would like to ask her how she proposes that her pretend-unified left is going to live in the same country now as the very numerous Brotherhood supporters.

  • Egypt: Fundamentalists hurl Kids from Building, Beat Them (Caution: Explicit)
    • Both sides are commiting unspeakable acts of violence. I reflexively revile Salafis but coding the good guys as "youth" and the bad guys as "fundamentalists" obscures a reality. As in Syria and elsewhere, we could have duelling YouTube videos over which side is more rapaciously violent. The important and obvious reality is that democracy has been a catastrophic failure in Egypt; the civic society that enables the democratic process is utterly lacking with or without Mursi.

  • Fourth of July Comes a Day Early to Cairo after Fundamentalist President is Removed (video)
    • Yes, this was a coup and a breakdown of democracy, and it is wholly nonproductive to cast a military intervention as a 'revolution'. I am definitely no Ikhwan supporter but there is such a thing as due process; this was nothing more than mob rule, and will prove in the long-term a grave error.

  • Egypt: Fundamentalist Morsi Defies both Protesters & Military Ultimatum, says Obama Backs Him
    • The protests in Egypt remind me of Shakespeare's depiction of the masses in Coriolanus. Perhaps we will be seeing the same thing again a year from now, but with a different leader in the hot seat.

  • Biggest Demonstrations in Egyptian History: Millions Demand President Morsi Step Down
    • I can't help but see each of these different conflicts as a function of the slow collapse of the regional economy alongside the relentless population growth. The sectarianism, while real, is one variant of the scapegoating going on over a miserable economic trainwreck that is much of the Middle East. The prospects for improvement, regardless of who holds power, are exceedingly dim. The religious conflict, while undeniable, is a peripheral element in comparison to much more formidable problems.

      Question about Egypt: How do you comfortably feed 80 million people living in a vast wasteland with one severely polluted and overtaxed river running through it? Answer: you can't.

  • 'The 19th Day of the Egyptian Revolution': What the Egyptian Press is Saying about Today's Mass Protest
    • It seems Egyptians have to learn at least two things about democracy: 1) If you lose an election, you have to wait until the next election to vote again, and 2) When the election does come 'round, a win for your side will not substantially improve anything.

      Oh, and you have to still live with people in your country who voted the opposite of you. You can't just stab them and burn their offices and whatnot, even if you really, really want to.

      We here in the US could use some reinforcement of those principles as well!

  • Germans Vigorously Protest Massive British/ NSA Spying on Email, Telephone Calls
    • It seems we have just experienced all the debate we are going to have over NSA snooping here in the US. The story has successfully been shifted to the drama surrounding Snowden's life and travels, with the accustomed ritual chest-beating about treachery and anti-Americanism. It is nice to see a populace in the world who are still aware of the dangers this kind of behavior represents.

  • Egypt's 'Rebellion' Movement Plans Protests as Generals Warn they'll Intervene
    • All of this, and the US is once again poised to leverage Salafism towards foreign policy aims. Those chickens will come home to roost, as they did on 9-11, and Americans will have by then forgotten what was done in their name that brought the calamity on them.

  • Millennials take over Qatar, but Real Change has Yet to be Accomplished
    • @Mace: You will forgive most of us for not seeing Syria moving in a democratic direction regardless of who comes out on top of this conflict. It seems from your writing that your distaste for evil Rawafidh clouds your perception. Perhaps you think the murder of Hassan Shehata this week was a positive step towards democracy in the region?

  • The Syrian War comes to Lebanon as Sidon Explodes into Violence
    • As we keep surpassing each new worst-case scenario in this conflict, and as large powers taken increasingly intransigent and irresponsible positions, one wonders where we will finally end up.

  • Top Ten Ways US TV News are Screwing us Again on NSA Surveillance Story (Iraq Redux)
    • Interesting thought, CCC. These days we hear a lot about our American apathy. But unfortunately the problem is often the opposite: people feel strong beliefs and act on them, they just happen to be odious to others amongst us. Many of those who involve themselves in law enforcement and more significantly the military are not defenders of truth and justice; they are quite often true believers in raw, unmitigated government authority.

  • Top Ten American Steps toward a Police State
    • See Rachel Maddow's recent report on the FBI killing of Ibragim Todashev. The story itself is disturbing in the extreme; the broader picture is the virtual impunity with which the FBI can kill suspects and even innocent bystanders.

  • So When will Dick Cheney be charged with Espionage? His Crime was the Same as Snowden's
    • What is the remedy for an American government gone off the rails? We have not had to face that question in this country for a long time. The level of lying and disinformation, over several administrations, has reached such proportions that we can no longer meaningfully apply the term 'democracy' to what we do here. Maybe it's democracy-lite... or dictatorship-lite.

  • Snowden was Right, they're Reading your Mail: How British Intelligence and the NSA are Tag-Teaming US
    • It is time for the left to admit that Barack Obama is a fraud. I deeply regret my vote for him. Apart from his tepid attention to gonadal identity politics, Obama's policies are not substantially different from those of the loyal opposition. In some cases, given his rhetoric of change and hope, he is worse.

  • Egypt's Morsi Calls for No-Fly Zone over Syria: A step toward regional Sunni-Shiite War?
    • The sectarian problem emanates most certainly from Salafi propaganda, which vilifies Shias not for their foreign policy choices but for what they are. I find it hard to see how you can excuse this, as it is plainly obvious to anyone who has followed the region for any length of time.

      Does your personal distaste for Shias color your understanding of the Syria question? We have seen dreadful crimes from the government side, but perhaps we should support the side that chews out human organs and kills children for blasphemy.

  • An Outbreak of Reasonableness in Tehran: Top Ten Conclusions from Iran's Early Election Returns
    • One should not assume Bashar would lose such an election. He has a solid base of support in any circumstance, broader support based on present concerns, and very few public adversaries who inspire loyalty and confidence. It is quite interesting to note that the first Egyptian presidential vote returned only a hair-thin loss for the old guard.

  • Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria
    • I remain deeply confused about Israel's ambivalence on the issue of Syria. It would seem the chaotic dimensions of this civil war would directly threaten their interests, as we have seen with the increasingly heated situation on the Golan. Why would Obama choose to throw fuel on that fire? Is it merely that the Gulf monarchs are leading him around by the nose? Really, our Middle Eastern policy has gone from unconscionable pre-9/11 to incomprehensible now.

  • Sunni-Shiite Conflict Spikes as al-Qaeda Massacres 60 Shiites, Gulf States Sanction Hizbullah
    • If I might, I believe what Professor Cole is referring to is the fact that Alawism, formerly known as Nusayrism, developed without a strong orthodoxy as the sect was disenfranchised from any kind of political or economic power for centuries. There are very few standardized beliefs, and shared texts are interpreted in significantly different ways. Forced into secrecy because of extreme persecution, many, perhaps most, Alawites do not know the "official" doctrines or rituals of the faith. So consequently many popular and even non-"Islamic" traditions were borrowed. Syncretism is very widespread.

      This is in contrast to the Sunni or 12er Shia sects, which both developed bases of political/social/economic power which then patronized an erudite clerical class. This causes both those sects to have a much stronger sense of orthodoxy and doctrinal purity, the "official version" which is widely disseminated amongst their adherents.

      This distinction is actually germaine to the discussion and goes some way towards explaining the iron-fistedness of the Assads as well as the loyalty the government has maintained throughout this conflict amongst minorities and especially Alawites. Their doctrines, along with those of the Druze, the Ismailis, and others, were formed in the cauldron of intense centuries-long genocidal policies of the majority sect.

    • It would be difficult to accurately gauge the sectarian sentiment before the war as public discussion of religion was basically illegal. I can tell you unreservedly that my anecdotal experience was that sectarian sentiment was high, and there was precedent for internecine conflict. Hama of course being a prime example, coupled with a muscular Alawite chauvinism at the same time. I don't think one can overestimate the impact of the Iraq debacle especially post '06 in fueling sectarian hatred across the border.

    • Also, a point of clarification: I personally doubt that it was Alawites who were killed in this reported attack. It is more likely 12ers as there are small numbers of them in Syria, with a few tribal groupings of them in the east.

    • I have to disagree, Juan. I lived in Syria for some time, and while the roots of he conflict are many, sectarianism plays no small role. Even years ago, the complaint amongst many Syrian Sunnis was, "We are being ruled over by someone who is not from us." The vocalized sentiment that Shias deserved to be killed grew in the wake of the sectarian conflict in Iraq. Numerous clearly sectarian attacks have taken place, and the Gulf media are promoting this war as a sectarian conflict. Qaradhawi was just spouting last week about the need to counter the Shia threat, and called for more Sunnis from around the region to join the conflict.

      One could argue of course that this is all about regional hegemony and it is merely incidental that Iran happens to be Shia and the Gulf monarchies Sunni, and you can point out the fact that Alawites are to be distinguished from orthodox 12ers. But the Sunnis on the ground, and increasing numbers of Shias, are not making those fine distinctions. This is being billed as, and is taking the shape of, a sectarian conflict, however much I wish that we're not the case.

  • Top Ten Ways the US Government will Smear, Slight Whistleblower Edward Snowden
    • Thank you so much for this, Juan. Through all of the obfuscating and lies we are about to encounter, it is critical for us all to remember -- no government of any kind, democratic or otherwise, at any time, has _ever_ collected this much information about its populace.

  • How America Became Orwellian: A Short History of Big Brother Sam (ProPublica)
    • The person responsible for the leaks has been revealed as Edward Snowden. He has sacrificed his life essentially for the sake of our freedom. The fact that he must exile himself out of fear for this government is sufficient testimony that our democracy is dead. What can we do to help Snowden? What can we do to restore our democracy? Calling our representatives or impotent 'occupy' sit-ins seem totally inadequate. Ward Churchill proven more right than ever before.

  • We Misunderstood Barack: He only wanted the Domestic Surveillance to be Made Legal, not to End It
    • Things are happening now that I never imagined I'd witness. This us a momentary scandal; it will pass unfortunately, as dissent has become a lost art. This generation will only stand for gonadal rights and to ensure their feeding tubes remain in place. Only a collapse could save us now.

  • Turkish Opinion Poll Finds Majorities Slam Erdogan policies on Alcohol, Syria
    • The protests seem initiated by a) a desire to drink beer after 10pm, b) the wish to make out in public, and c) an attempt to save a city park. It is unclear that these protests are entirely nonviolent or that these and all other concerns could not be addressed at the ballot box. Still, it is just a little gratifying to see Erdogan get a taste of his own medicine after what he has helped do to Syria. I pray that the same horrors are not visited upon the Turks.

  • China offered Qaddafi Armaments in midst of war
    • Yes, and if I ever become a citizen of China, Juan, I will concern myself with Chinese interventionism.

      Any American who speaks of 'humanitarian' military missions is deluded - we are talking about an indiscriminate killing force that has annihilated hundreds of thousands of innocents since 9/11, tortured, maimed, displaced and destroyed millions of others. The US has actively undermined democracy throughout the Middle East and the Pentagon's totalitarian mindset has infected the homeland as well.

      Would you care to comment on the humanitarian drones your beloved democracy-loving Pentagon has dispatched to every corner of the Muslim world? How about the tens or even hundreds of thousands of mercenary goons who kill with utter impunity? Will you demand justice from the documented baby-killers and torturers who act daily to make us less a less secure, less humane and less democratic nation?

      Defense is good and noble. Our military is not about defense, and there is nothing good or noble about it. Sycophants like you give comfort and support to our real enemy, the one we should have targeted in the days following 9/11: an imperial and out-of-control military establishment.

  • Rebels Consolidate Control over Tripoli as Qaddafi's Mass Killings Discovered
    • Quid Quintessa 08/29/2011 at 5:23 am

      @Mohammed: this was the _justification_ for what was very widespread mistreatment of Shias in Saddam's Iraq. Religious rights of all Shias, not just the Sadrites who were in the minority in any case. The war against Iran was not waged to stave off an Iraqi theocracy, and the Iranian theocracy did not start it. Shias of Iraq were deprived of employment rights, did not have access to equal medical care, and were the victims of mass slaughter, for which Saddam Hussein was justly convicted. It is unfortunate that this post seems to imply that it was Shia rule itself, rather than Sunni bigotry, that caused the civil war.

      Cole has been attracting some interesting characters here since his 'turn'. Hope you enjoy your new company, Professor.

  • Iraq Adopts Iran's Backing of Assad
    • Quid Quintessa 08/26/2011 at 6:14 am

      cont'd: when you understand these things, when you understand the shocking oppression, blatant discrimination and mass killings that these communities have endured for hundreds of years, you might better understand why they seek to protect their interests and people first, when in fact they do.

      Question to you, ya Aba Umar: Do you accept that a person could be Arab _and_ Shia?

    • Quid Quintessa 08/26/2011 at 5:53 am

      @Juan: Now while we still have a _democrat_ in office would be an opportune time to re-invade Iraq and establish a more American friendly leadership, don't you think? Under humanitarian pretenses, of course...

      @Abu Umar: it is a shame you think this way, that anyone thinks this way. It is odd that Sunnis should think themselves somehow oppressed by Shias. Please spend some time reading up on the history of anti-Shia genocide over the past, say, thousand years or so. Consider the condition of Shias in Saudi Arabia, in Bahrain, even today in Iraq where they are slaughtered by the dozens. Same in Pakistan. Sunnis consider it oppressive to even have a Shia leader in the same way "real" Americans consider it oppression to have a black man as President.

  • New Libya, Welcomed in Mideast, Rejects NATO Bases
    • Which other "democratic reform movements" has Saudi Arabia supported, Juan? In Yemen, unabashed and continuing support for Saleh. In Lebanon, support for the decidedly sectarian and undemocratic Mustaqbal Hariri cultists. In Egypt, unflinching support for Mubarak. Bolstering the monarchy in Jordan. And of course the jackbooted thuggery in Bahrain. I simply don't see any justification for this statement at all. And why don't we explore some of the pragmatic reasons for Saudi support of the purportedly democratic (you don't know that and neither does anyone else) rebellion in Libya?

  • Top Ten Myths about the Libya War
    • Quid Quintessa 08/23/2011 at 5:31 am

      Professor Cole & Groupies: you will surely excuse those of us who have witnessed America and NATOs good and humanitarian interventions from this orgy of fist-pumping. It is utterly beyond me how anyone could study the history of US involvement in Iraq dating from the 1980s and use the word 'humanitarian' to describe anything having to do with the Pentagon. In fact apart from the oft-cited Balkan conflict, which was a far more complex.situation than liberal interventionists dare recall, how often in the last century has the US military come down on the side of human rights and regional autonomy? Sorry, folks. As a student of ME history, I simply don't see any cause for hope that the US will actively promote an independent democracy this time around. Countries invade other countries for interests, and this time is no different. But maybe the much smarter ones than me on this board would like to answer this one: Why did the GCC and especially Saudi Arabia throw so much at this war? Certainly it must have been their long-established commitments to democracy and human dignity.

  • The Great Tripoli Uprising
    • Great, Juan. NATO can chalk up a "success" story. Now what can be done to prevent Washington, Britain, and Saudi from sinking their wicked claws into this new Libya? Do you support true Arab independence, or will you do that only once another Texas Republican is in the White House?

  • Iraq declines to Cut Syria Off
    • One has to account for the anti-Shia aspect to the Syria situation, and Maliki is a tool but he's not an idiot. A real revolution in Syria would be a setback to Shias throughout the region, who have barely begun to emerge from a millenium of nearly genocidal oppression.

  • Top Ten Myths about Bin Laden's Death
    • #8: Any comparison with Hitler is on its face hyperbolic, ridiculous, and plays into the worst of GWOT propaganda. A killer? Yes. Deserving of his just desserts? Sure. But let's not pretend that Osama bin Laden killed even a fraction of the number of innocents killed by Bill Clinton or George W. Bush individually, much less Adolf Hitler. When even the intellectuals in our country deal in such politically correct fantasies what hope can we have for reason-based policy-making?

  • Obama and the End of Al-Qaeda
    • Quid Quintessa 05/02/2011 at 6:17 am

      Yay. Ten years, a trillion dollars, and countless hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed, the cycle of violence started well before Osama sent round for another spin. Can we finally end our various occupations and cut the military budget now?

  • Protesters Brave Live Crackdowns in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia
    • Quid Quintessa 05/01/2011 at 7:10 am

      @Abu umar: this is an interesting claim about Lebanese Shias being brought in to quell protests or start protests depending on the country. Are there any objective references anywhere to support that?

      You are right though about the small protest numbers in KSA. Maybe people get especially skittish about any protests in the Eastern Province because even minor unrest could trigger oil supply concerns.

  • The Tyrants Strike Back
    • Quid Quintessa 04/29/2011 at 6:14 am

      I don't care if you accept a quote from Ali Ibn Abi Talib since it was not directed at you; but your historical view is indeed hyperbolic.

      As is your view on Hezbollah. I don't know if you are Lebanese or have ever been to Lebanon. I doubt it considering that if what you said were true, half of Lebanon would be dead. You are again spouting the unsubstantiated claims of the fascist (explicitly and proudly fascist btw) Lebanese. Hezbollah and all other parties have significant issues and dirty secrets. But there would be little point in discussing this, Mazlum, since you speak as if you are way beyond context or nuance.

      My point concerning Ali's statement was not to venerate the man, however worthy he may be of veneration; your rejection of even the sentiment of his statement reflects badly on you. Do you in fact reject the humanity of the Alawites? N'wait... On second thought dont answer that.

    • Hezbollah represents the traditionally repressed aspirations of a good many Lebanese Shias, and will not in any case be 'booted'. While railing against fascism, Mazlum, do you realize you are employing the very language of the Lebanese fascists?

      Ken Hoop: Ali ibn Abi Talib said, "There are two kinds of people: your brother in faith and your peer in humanity." Which Alim's opinion is wiser than that? The Alawis are self-defined as Muslim and in any case are humans.

    • Quid Quintessa 04/26/2011 at 7:17 pm

      For Daraa to be the epicenter of revolt against Asad would be like Mississippi being the origin of a revolt against Obama. Pro-Democracy? Sometimes a mob is just a mob. That doesn't mean the people 'down south' deserve to face tanks and gunfire, but it's important that we consider the full cultural and sectarian import of the moment.

  • Apple Tracking likely a "Bug" or Oversight
    • Quid Quintessa 04/22/2011 at 6:56 am

      CNET is reporting today that this systematic tracking is already well known in law enforcement and multiple products are openly marketed for extracting the info. This isn't about Apple; this is about developing the critical thinking to recognize that our beloved new technology has _at least_ as much totalitarian potential as it does the potential to liberate.

  • Should Professors in Public Universities Give up their Email Addresses?
    • Quid Quintessa 04/07/2011 at 6:03 am

      So right, Juan. I am in secondary ed and our teacher emails were requested and received by a member of the school board. Six of the eight people's info requested were on our union negotiating team. If anyone doubts that our rights are under full assault, and by people who will wave the flag and say it is for greater 'freedom', think again.

  • 7 Dead in Syria Unrest
    • Quid Quintessa 04/03/2011 at 7:49 am

      But Saleh has been literally bombing and killing his own people for a couple years running now, with extensive American support. Not al-Qaeda, the Houthis. The Saudis like it, and we underwrite the whole operation.

      The Liberal Interventionists are right about one thing: we cant do everything for everyone; but what we can do is stop actively supporting and committing the killing of innocents in the Middle East.

    • Quid Quintessa 04/03/2011 at 7:41 am

      There is no foolish consistency here. Rather the foolish consistency is that our hyper-militarization has led us to see military solutions where there are none. As predicted by sober and nonpartisan analysis, the Libyan resistance is already bogged down and will require boots on the ground to even stand a chance.

      If Americans want 'humanitarian', how bout we stop bombing Pakistani villages and stop supporting the ethnic cleansing of Palestine? This action, if even authentically motivated by humanitarian concerns, is rather like a rapacious mafia don adopting a stray puppy.

    • Juan, you continue to ridicule the notion that there are legitimate objections from the left to this foolish intervention. If you want to believe in Obama's new war and support that belief with facts, it's your blog. But it would be better to be consistent and follow the same basic notions of anti-interventionism that you applied to Iraq and other wars. Is there any other path to de-militarizing our country, or should we make excuses when a purported liberal is in the WH?

      Also, I am beginning to wonder how far you will follow the President in this newly minted 'doctrine'? Even unto Tehran?

  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • There are numerous other reasonable objections, Juan. The desire to de-militarize American diplomacy. How much effort was put into negotiation prior to military intervention?

      The lack of understanding of Libyan realities. In this respect Libya is almost identical to Iraq with our shallow base of knowledge of the tribal and religious complications of this society.

      Blowback. Even the most sincere humanitarian efforts have unintended consequences. That in itself would not be such a big deal were it not for my final objection, which is

      Fanning the well deserved flames of anti Americanism. It is time that we are seen and experienced as something other than brute force in the Middle East. Were this intervention not coupled with appalling silence on movements in Bahrain and elsewhere, this aspect might play out differently. But the Us has been selective about where people should and should not be free. Could Obama at least condemn the Saudi intervention in Bahrain, cut military contacts? No, this is not possible because we are talking about interests rather than some gauzy desire to see freedom bloom.

      The so-called humanitarian intervention should be rejected.

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
    • Fine, Professor Cole. It resembles Iraq '91 more than Iraq '03. And we will recall how marvelously that worked out.

  • Top Five Myths about the Middle East Protests
    • The role of tech in the uprisings is a tired theme indeed. Americans have an intense craving to inject themselves into these freedom narratives. There is unfortunately scant repentance from the Home of the Brave about Americans' _real_ role in the Egypt story.

  • Blair, Hitchens Debate Religion
    • It doesnt seem "demolished" is the right word, since they rather evenly split the undecideds. In any case a sad debate between two deeply insincere and unreflective men. The religion versus reason/atheism/science discussion is generally an abuse of reason all around.

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