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Total number of comments: 9 (since 2013-11-28 16:50:38)

Scott Corey

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  • ISIL isn't Medieval: Revolution, Terror and Statemaking are Modern
    • This is a very impressive and valuable piece. An ideological ability to call upon the past as a tool to do something novel is powerful, and we do well to know more about how this might be part of the ISIS arsenal. The French Revolution, after all, conceived of itself as comparable to ancient Sparta, and based its thinking on a notion of nature stripped of corrupting civilization.

  • Dear Neocons: Why we're not Sending Combat Troops to Iraq no matter how much you Pout
    • Clever idea. Not likely to happen, but I'd like to see someone from the White House or administration throw the question of a serious war proposal in the face of the critics.

    • No miracles claimed, and no dissertation attempted. The Sunni forces aligned with the government did not evaporate, but agitated long and hard for promised inclusion and money. In that respect, you help make my point. Maliki threw away the opportunity.

    • Why settle for being the bad guys?

    • I would certainly not minimize the fact that the US invasion started the mess now existing in Iraq. Nonetheless, under Petraeus and Crocker, we did get an alliance with Sunni forces, despite a strongly Shia government. Keeping that together was key for us, and should have been a goal for Malaki, but he did not accept that. Whether sectarian and ethnic schism would have grown this severe anyway, we will not know. But US foreign policy was right on this point, and I would not neglect to appreciate a moment of wisdom any more than I would fail to criticize the (in Iraq, catastrophic) moments of foolishness in US policy.

  • Top Ten Surprises of the Brennan Hearing on CIA Torture and Drones
    • I am glad that there is a large review of the torture program, and hope that it will become public. The question of how effective the program was in gaining information is still a little beside the point.

      Neocon ideology holds that the Executive can allot itself "exceptional" status to violate the Consitution. Torture is the most undeniable violation of limited government. Hence, the torture regime was imposed top down, without regard to its practicality, in order to establish a precedent of authoritarian power, and incriminate as many participants as possible.

      In short, the American torture regime was a matter of authoritarian principle, unrelated to its real or imagined information value;

  • Egypt's Morsi Backs down Slightly, but Opposition to Campaign against his Referendum
    • I wonder if there is any chance that the opposition could offer a slate of amendments before December 15? Obviously, the opposition is not terribly unified, time is short, and there is no procedural mechanism to get such a thing onto the ballot, barring a substantial concession by the Brotherhood and Morsi.

      However, announcing a unified, positive position has two advantages that might be persuasive. First, it gives the voter a psychological escape from the sense that the choice is between the constitution as offered or else nothing ("nothing" being perceived as "chaos"). Second, whether or not the offered constitution passes, the opposition would have a first draft of a program for the future, and a dramatic starting point on some common ground.

      If an historical precedent (however imperfect) is needed, passage of the US Constitution bogged down until its proponents acceded to demands for the amendments that became the Bill of Rights. Different as these situations are, the point is that it helps to say what you stand for, not just what you stand against.

  • In Switch, Egypt's Civilian President Makes Coup against Generals
    • Wow. If this is actually happening, it helps me understand why Morsi chose a cabinet that was not as broad as it might have been. If you are heading for a showdown, you want only people of known reliability at your side.
      If he already has some military support, the urgent move would be to ask the US to use its influence to reinforce military acceptance of this change.
      The other move would be to reassure Christians and liberals (and, hence, the outside world). If they can have faith that this is solidification of the revolution and democracy, instead of a harbinger of radicalization, Morsi might make this stick for the good of all. The actions against militants in Sinai may make such a stance the more credible.
      Wishful thinking, perhaps, but why not hold out for the best?

  • Top Ten Myths about Bin Laden's Death
    • It is not helpful to discuss "assassination" as if it should be illegal to kill someone just because you know their name in advance. The life of someone famous or important is not worth more than that of anyone else. Combatants on both sides of this and almost any modern conflict will kill their enemies while they lie sleeping if they get the chance. Non-combatants are supposed to be off limits, but it is hard to claim, for instance, that the leader of a country who order troops into combat is innocent of that combat.

      I think leaders deserve to be privileged only in two respects:

      1) As symbols of the people they lead. If the US had killed the Emperor Hirohito during World War II, it would have implied to the Japanese that our intent was virtually to kill all of them as well. That is why symbols matter.

      2) Because attacks on them make the mechanisms of collective warfare into tools of private vendettas. Trying to kill Khaddafi years ago led to his sending his own agents (not just client terrorists) to bomb a plane over Lockerbie.

      To me, it seems Osama bin Laden represented only his own hand-picked followers. I think he would have insisted that he was a combatant, already completely dedicated to using his public and private life to kill non-Muslims as a means to ruling (and oppressing) the Muslim world.

      Shooting him was legitimate regardless of his posture at the time. Capturing him would only have been more useful, but he did not rate protection under a reasonable, realistic prohibition against assassination.

      If he was indeed given a burial in accord with Islam, then that was a moral act worthy of note. Contrast, for example, with the Iranian leader who toyed with the charred remains of an American serviceman after the failed raid on Tehran. When you get a chance to save a scrap of decency out of the miserable business of human violence, take it.

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