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Total number of comments: 18 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:04)


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  • The 18th Brumaire of Gen. al-Sisi in Egypt
    • An excellent article, Prof. Cole. Your presentation of the economic motivations of the social players involved has a lot of explanatory value for understanding the twists and turns in Egypt since the revolution.

  • Top Ten Reasons the US should Stay out of Iraq and put Conditions on Arms Sales
    • To what extent is the recent uptick in violence in Iraq attributable to Al-Qaeda-linked militants or, on the other hand, to deposed Baathists and ex-military figures? Have the two patched up their differences since the Awakening Councils turned on Al-Qaeda or is this a case of every possible Sunni insurgent taking advantage of popular discontent with Pres. Maliki's "Shiite chauvinism"? Is differentiating between groupings of insurgents of practical importance at this point? Or is it too early to answer these questions with much certainty?

  • Egypt's Transition Has Failed: New Age of Military Dictatorship in Wake of Massacre
  • After Benedict: Religions have to Democratize if they are to Survive
    • "Roman Catholic priests probably commit child abuse no more frequently than secular school teachers."

      This statement is a little idiosyncratic, isn't it? Many people seem to think that forced celibacy has played a role in sublimating repressed sexual desire towards those nearest and most vulnerable, creating a larger pedophile population within the Catholic clergy than in the general public. I have not followed any of the scholarly literature on this question, though.

  • New Light on the CIA Coup in Iran on its 60th Anniversary: Why "Argo" Needs a Prequel (Sternfeld)
    • Have you even bothered reading the article? The author clearly states that Mossadegh "viewed Britain as a model for Constitutional Monarchy, and that he was dismayed by communism." Self-hating distortion? The author is neither Eisenhower not Churchill, so he is not being "self-hating" in his denunciation of a U.S./U.K. crime.

  • Egypt: Women Cut their Hair in Tahrir Square to Protest Fundamentalist Constitution
    • "...the action was a reference to the daughter of Pharaoh Akhnaton, who cut her hair in grief that the priests were persecuting her father and had struck him blind with their spells."

      This story is completely new to me. Is it an Egyptian folk tradition? I don't think that this myth about Akhenaten has an ancient analogue; not that I am aware of, anyway. I can certainly see how certain facts we have about this pharaoh's reign could have evolved in this direction.

  • Top Ten Steps that are Necessary for Lasting Gaza-Israel Peace (or, Good Luck!)
    • "We know that US politicians behave in this way because the Israel lobbies, including those of the Christian Zionists, are a successful single-issue interest group."

      You have you read Prof. Chomsky's criticism of the thesis that U.S. policy towards Israel can be reduced to the influence of 'Israel lobby'? It's worth reading. Since the article is not long I won't summarize too much of it but basically he argues that by overly focusing on the influence of AIPAC and evangelicals we tend to overlook the fact that U.S. foreign policy is set by the "strategic-economic interests of concentrations of domestic power in the tight state-corporate linkage" and that thus U.S. policy towards Israel cannot be seen as originating with a narrow Lobby rather than with the broad support of most of the U.S. political-intellectual class.

      link to

  • Muslims are no Different, or why Bill Maher's blood libel is Bigotry
    • That is incorrect, IrisD. Muslim-Americans, like most other immigrant groups, have tended to vote Democratic. W. Bush was the only Republican presidential candidate in recent memory to ever win more Muslim-American voters than a Democrat and that was because of his debate comment about sympathizing with Muslims at airports.

  • The Gospel of Jesus' Wife and Sacred History from Judaism to Islam
    • I don't believe any scholar still believes the Tel Dan Stele is a forgery. As for the existence of a United Kingdom, it's a controversial issue in scholarship and many experts would strongly disagree with the comment that there "is not a shred of archeological evidence" for its existence. This is a view somewhat popularized by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman's bestselling book. An expert rebuttal worth reading are two essay available on-line by Amihai Mazar entitled "The Search for David and Solomon: An Archeological Perspective" and "The Divided Monarchy: Comments on Some Archeological Issues."

    • The fragmentary gospel is most likely a hoax according to a number of scholars who suspect the language is not authentically period. And if it is authentic and Gnostic it is more likely that the reference to a wife is a symbolic reference to 'Sophia' or some other gnostic abstraction. Our knowledge of the historical Jesus is extremely limited but the authentic letters of Paul, the synoptic Gospels and the few references in Josephus are all that we have. The Gospels of Mathew and Luke present a Jesus who is not only unmarried but who places an extraordinary value on celibacy. In Mathew 19: 3-11, Jesus contradicts the teaching of Moses allowing divorce and in response to the comment that it is better that men not marry at all he replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

      As Prof. Cole state, this is culturally very off but not unprecedented. Jesus's elder contemporary, Philo, wrote in the 'Life of Moses' of a tradition that Moses gave up sexual relations "to hold himself always in readiness to receive the oracular messages." A similar tradition is recorded in rabbinic literature (Sifre on Number 12:1). In other words, celibacy made a person a better recipient for divine communication. For the earliest followers of Jesus to develop a culturally idiosyncratic tradition of celibacy strikes me as surprising. It's possible, for all we know, but it strikes me as more likely that Jesus adhered to a minority Jewish tradition reflected in Philo and reflected in Mathew and Luke.

  • Tutu Slams Tony Blair for Illegal Iraq War, boycotts Leadership Conference
    • "The leadership conference did go on, and Blair addressed it, defending himself on the Iraq War, saying that even if there had not been weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein had been a brutal dictator who killed thousands and used poison gas against his own people, and now he is gone; what, he asked, is wrong with that result?"

      Supporters of the invasion of Iraq tend to forget that the invasion put an end to two murderous regimes - Saddam's and the U.S./U.K. sanctions regime. Considering that we could have ended one of those genocidal regimes without an invasion and refused to do so should tell us how much Bush and Blair cared about humanitarian issues. I wonder to what extent those sanctions might have strengthened Saddam by making the populace more dependent on the state for survival.

  • Top Ten Implications of the Damascus Bombing
    • Gaddafi had the same opportunity but refused to take it. It's arguable whether Assad is any more sane.

  • Infosys Building planned for Kuwait
  • Could Syria-Turkey Conflict Pull NATO In?
    • Any chance that there might be any truth to the Syrian government's assertion that the plane was in Syrian airspace at the time it was shot down?

  • Mursi and the Brotherhood in a Pluralist Egypt
    • President Mursi in his speech had nothing to say about the threat against democracy coming from the military and actually went on to praise the police. I think we may be looking at a very collaborationist president.

  • Top 7 Ways Bin Laden Underestimated Joe Biden
    • We're praising the pro-Hosni "Is not a dictator" Mubarak and pro-Iraq occupation warmonger Biden, now?

  • How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed
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      I was wondering if you can go more into this, Prof. Cole. I believe we should be aiding the rebels in every way we can. The more of Qaddafi's tanks that are destroyed by the coalition the easier it will be for the rebels to capture Tripoli and end this civil war. I think coalition intervention is more than justified. The democratic forces would have been destroyed if not for the Security Council resolution. So why not go further?

  • US Troop Withdrawal in Iraq on Track
    • "The Neocons’ dream of a division (25,000 – 30,000) US troops permanently in Iraq has been defeated by the Mahdi Army, the Baathists, and Sunni fundamentalists."

      You'll correct me if I'm wrong but it's my understanding that the elections which were forced on the U.S. in '05 were the result of a non-violent movement organized to a large degree by Ayatollah al-Sistani. This is not to say armed militias didn't play a roll in defeating U.S. goals in Iraq but the Bush Administration was unable to build up a subservient client government to a large extent because the Iraqi people would not allow democracy to be suppressed.

      As far as Obama and the military bases and oil - the pro-war U.S. forces were defeated with the SOFA. There seems little Obama can do although he has been investing in building up the military bases perhaps in the hopes that the U.S. would succeed in influencing the elections just past. I sincerely doubt Obama thinks the war is immoral since he campaigned for Lieberman back then and voted for war funding as soon as he got into the senate. His record isn't much different than Sec. Clinton's.

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