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Total number of comments: 17 (since 2013-11-28 15:55:05)


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  • In Switch, Egypt's Civilian President Makes Coup against Generals
    • I'm sympathetic to your argument, but I don't believe we know that anyone instructed mid-level military here to contact mid-level people there and ask them not to obey orders to fire at Tahrir. Obama's actions were pretty supportive of Mubarak early in the crisis. He had Wisner go over and tell Mubarak to hold steady, after all.

  • Romney, and Aryan Racial Theory as a basis for Foreign Policy
    • It's not a big deal. But I know that my Scottish business partner looks on British somewhat the way Croatians used to think of "Yugoslavian", as merely an adjective with which outsiders use fictive kinship to mask their hegemony.

      Yeah, it's a bit arch. He's that way. But I think it's a genuine attitude among a fair number of Scots. They don't want to be thought British.

  • Army vs. People in Egypt
    • I guess it depends on which part of the 1%. While I agree with Prof. Cole that this wasn't an intervention pushed by the wealthiest 1%, it's interesting to me how little much of American foreign policy has to do with popular opinion. It's not quite that it's captured by the wealthy. It can be hijacked by many small interests, sometimes for evil, sometimes not. I think of the Kosovo intervention. Did you ever try to start a conversation among friends about the Kosovo intervention? Most people didn't even know it was going on. Or the Iraq no-fly zone -- no, not the elder Bush no-fly zone. The Iraq no-fly zone that Bill Clinton was enforcing in the late 90's. I remember seeing one of those one-graph newspaper notes about an Iraqi plane being shot down or maybe some sort of American sortie against a missile launcher, and thinking, wow, I didn't even realize we were still engaged there. And I'm pretty sure 99% of my fellow citizens didn't either - including at least 80% of the economic elite.

      All of which is only tangentially related to the main post (interesting - keep up the good work) or the argument in comments (about which I'd only say that comments here seem a bit more hostile than usual - suddenly everyone else's argument is 'absurd on its face.' Hope that doesn't keep up.)

  • Police Crackdowns on OWS Coordinated among Mayors, FBI, DHS
    • I do see a difference between trampling on their right to protest and trampling on their right to camp out. I hope they'll proclaim victory and continue to protest knowing that the encampment wasn't critical to their message. Mostly, I hope they're strategizing about how to win the coming elections, whether that means defeating Republicans, winning some Democratic primaries, running third party candidates in the few places that might be productive.

  • Cole on Goodman & CIA Surveillance
    • I was unable to access your site this morning for a significant amount of time. I assume that it was just a normal server outage (are you hosted at U of M?), but I wonder if you were aware. But the timing was strange - lending itself to speculation about someone not wanting you up at a moment when you were getting a lot of publiciy.

      Might be worth addressing in the blog, or at least asking if anyone else had an issue.

  • Top Ten Myths about Bin Laden's Death
    • I think you're perpetuating myths here too.

      We really don't know much about the circumstances of the death yet. Pakistani security sources told Arabiya that his daughter has a different story. Not that anonymous Pakistani security sources are much to go on - I won't even repeat the story. But I think it's early to be pretending we have an authoritative, reliable version.

  • Top Ten Arab Spring Advances this Week
  • Obama on Libya vs. Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich and Carrot Top
  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • I'm actually closer to Prof. Cole's side here. But I don't see much evidence for starvation as having been a condition of life in Libya prior to the civil war. We need to talk factually.

  • All Hell Breaks Loose in the Middle East
    • Juan,

      As we wait for Bashar al-Assad to speak (and I believe it's already 10:00 pm there, or perhaps 11:00 pm) I have a question about something pretty basic - the time-cycle of daily living in south Mediterranean cultures.

      I was surprised when Mubarak's first speech addressing the protests happened at a time I thought was extraordinarily late. I pointed to it as a sign of weakness in the regime - they must have been arguing about what to say. And indeed, that speech happened hours after aides had said it would.

      But other important speeches have also seemed to come quite late in the evening. Today, realizing how late Assad seems to be, I was reminded of a line I read somewhere, maybe in Steve Coll's book from 8 years ago, about the Saudi king (at this point, I don't even know which Saudi king), that he tended to sleep 4 hours at night, and 4 at mid-day.

      Now I'm starting to wonder if the daily cycle is simply different there. Is there something like the traditional siesta of cultures on the north side of the mediterranean? Is it a longer period, with a serious sleep rather than a nap, resuling in later evenings? Or am I just making things up? Is there any explanation for these late speeches? Or is it really just that the leaders don't get their scripts written till late-by local standards, but expect their subjects to stay up till whenever it takes to hear from them?

  • Top Ten Accomplishments of the UN No-Fly Zone
    • The tanks that pulled into Misurata and began bombing the center ...

      In reading about Libya, I find myself thinking about that line in Heart of Darkness where the colonial battleship is seemingly hurling artillery shells into nothingness - into a vast forest with nothing and no one in it. Not that the center of Misurata is nothing and I recognize the problems with Conrad's patronizing attitude towards Africa ... but just the weirdness of it, the seeming lack of tactic or logic.

      I imagine that some of this relates to the fact that there are few English-speaking reporters there, so it's tough to draw the lines between the random events that get mentioned. I look at maps that proclaim a town is "held by the rebels" and read in the same paper on the same day that the rebels are attacking that town. A day later, I read that rebels have fled such and such town, which is now in the hands of the government, while the same paper is reporting that government forces are now shelling that same town.

      I'm sure some of it is an accurate reflection of a more ruthless approach to "holding" a town; I'm equally sure some of it is because reports leak out slowly, so timelines are jumbled. There is probably more sense to the conflict than the sense I can make of it. And I'm certainly not criticiing the reporters and commentators who attempt to impose some framework on what is happening, even though it often doesn't fit.

      I just think the confused nature of the news deserves some emphasis and explicit discussion.

      Thanks for all the good work, JC.

  • The Battle of Brega: Qaddafi Compared to Netanyahu in Arab Press
    • Another link on the situation for sub-Saharan Africans in Libya:
      link to

      I can't say much about Africa On-Line (the AfrOL of The article is merely signed by "staff writers". It seems to refer to some of the incidents I've read about elsewhere, and a few others.

    • I just thought I'd follow up with some data on blacks in Libya. I found an LA Times article from a decade ago suggesting the number of black immigrants in Libya was about 1/6th of the population of 5 million at that time.

      I've found a number of articles about Africans fleeing to their home countries. The numbers in those articles seem to be of citizens who have checked in with their embassies. For instance, when the Nigerian press reports 4,000 Nigerians already airlifted, out of a total of 10,000 to be evacuated, there are hints that there are other Nigerians in Libya not counted in the "to be evacuated" total - people outside Tripoli, etc.

      And if the LA Times piece is correct, that there were already 850,000 blacks in Libya 11 years ago, then there must now be a huge total that were born there and have no other passport.

    • I'm curious and concerned about something that seems like an underreported aspect of the Libya crisis - the racial aspect.

      In the early, eastern days of the uprising, I saw graffiti and other opposition outputs that compared Ghaddafi to a monkey. There is also the issue of the mercenaries - initally assumed to be foreign fighters imported for the purpose, but the more detailed reports show that that's not the case - the opposition just calls them mercenaries because they're paid. In a number of cases we've seen videos and photos of "mercenaries", and they're black. I've also read of Chadian oil workers massacred, of other black immigrants in the east fearing to go outside because they might be killed as "mercenaries".

      Meanwhile, we've heard much of the Egyptian and Tunisian refugees, the British and Italian and Turkish evacuations. But pre-crisis reporting would suggest that after Egypt, most of the foreign-born people in Libya were sub-Saharan Africans, many of them having spent many years there - more like immigrants than "oil workers". We've heard almost nothing about them - whether hundreds of thousands are fleeing, or what's up with them.

      Far be it from me to defend the Ghaddafis. But I am starting to wonder whether there is a subtext in which the Ghaddafis are getting support not only from their own tribe and from other Arab Libyans, but also from demographic groups of African immigrants who are perhaps being excluded from the category of "Libyan" even though they've spent much of, in some cases all their lives there.

      If this is interesting, I'd love to see more info from someone like you, Juan, or a knowledgeable commenter here, who knows more about the situation and/or has access to better sources than I do.

  • Revolutionary Situation in Libya
    • Leila,

      I don't think anyone that you're asking to help would hesitate to help if there's a fairly safe way to do it. The trick is how to do so. Neither the UN nor the Red Cross can just land doctors in a war zone without someone in some sort of authority asking for it or at least acknowledging that such people would be kept safe. If Ben Ghazi is truly and securely in the hands of protesters, I'd guess there will be an influx of medical workers.

      But as long as Gaddafi doesn't acknowledge the need for outside health workers, and he controls any military units there capable of shooting down airplanes, I wouldn't expect much. To do so would have to be backed up by force, an act of war. Maybe intervention is justified at this point ... but I just think it's worth noting that if Gaddafi opposes what you're asking for, then you're essentially calling for outside intervention. It's not as easy as "send us doctors".

  • Million-Person Marches and the Army Backs Off
    • In this situation, it's very significant when a regime announces something and can't follow through. Friday, you knew that something big was coming when the regime said tht Mubarak would appear on tv, and then he didn't for hours and hours. Sure enough, the existing cabinet fell, which was pretty big in itself.

      Yesterday, the Interior Ministry said mobile service would be shut down today. It wasn't. That's a sign Mubarak and the whole cabinet have lost their last small power bases. Tonight's announcement is just whistling in the wind. The last-ditch cabinet will fall this week, probably tomorrow.

      Will Anan attempt to take power? Will we see the rise of the "board of trustees" mentioned by MB and Baradei sources in Reuters, to include Baradei, Anan and the Nobel Chemist Zewail? Some other group? Who will represent the people on the street? Surely there will have to be some young people in a transitional council?

  • Mubarak Turns to Military for Support
    • Thanks for the continued analysis.

      Your site was down when I tried to visit an hour and a half ago. Just thought I'd let you know in case you were unaware.

Showing comments 17 - 1