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Total number of comments: 238 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:50)

steerpike

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  • Pres. Aoun: Saudi Holding Hariri an Act of Aggression
    • The Saudis look like they are getting right off the rails on this one. Detaining the PM of another country?
      Add it to their Qatar blockade and Yemen fiasco. Is petrodollars alone enough to stop their allies from having firm words?

  • Solar: Elon Musk already got a San Juan Hospital running & more to Come
    • Might turn out to be a clever plan. In the decades to come, foreign tourists might want to travel to the US, where coal fired power stations and petroleum powered autos belch toxins into air, the "land that time forgot" where common sense, health coverage, gun control and the metric system is yet to penetrate.
      A little like 'slum tourism' where tours show just how awful some places can be and how much better off you are at home.

  • In Absence of US Leadership, War Breaks out between Kurds and Baghdad
    • Hard to blame Trump on this - there is too much at stake for a call by a US President and a "carrot and stick" approach to make any difference. What is being decided is which state gets the oilfields.
      Previous Presidents have dangled ideas of Kurdish autonomy which look unrealistic if a landlocked Kurdish state can be blockaded by the nations losing territory. Like the 1991 uprising, raised expectations are likely to be disappointed amidst further instability and bloodshed.

  • Germany: Immediate Danger of Mideast War if Trump dumps Iran Deal
    • So what if the Iranians and everyone else keep to the deal? The EU is already signalling this international agreement is not something the US can unilaterally declare as defunct. What if only the word of the US proves to be untrustworthy?
      American businesses pull out of Iran, EU and the rest of the world take their place. The US could then sanction firms that continue to do business with Iran but that would be hugely unpopular in the EU.
      This has the potential for a massive split in NATO.

  • Iraqi PM to Secessionist Kurds: "You're Playing with Fire!"
    • Any Kurdish state would be landlocked and reliant on Syria, Iraq, Iran or Turkey to allow imports and exports over their shared borders. They are going to need a good relationship with at least one of them to become a viable state.

  • Saudi Arabia wants to improve Image; Here's How
    • Seems to me their past strategy of spending tens of billions of dollars on arms sales to stop Western criticism of their appalling record has worked out pretty well so far.

  • As Trump probes move against Iran, IAEA certifies its Compliance with Nuclear Deal
    • The implications of the US deliberately blowing up the Iran nuclear deal go beyond Iran. Why would any state grant concessions in a deal if the US can simply cancel its own obligations?

  • 'Locked & Loaded' Trump's 1960s Cowboyism re: N. Korea & Venezuela
    • The Vietnam war was the first television war, where you could watch the execution of a suspected VC in your own living room. The Korean war did not have that level of scrutiny but incidents such as No Gun Ri indicate that claimed atrocities by US troops are not just North Korean propaganda.

  • "Fire & Fury" or "Shock and Awe": it is always the start of a Quagmire
    • In other news, the only concern about a state which has never signed the Non Proliferation Treaty and has secretively developed nuclear weapons and now has submarines packing 200 kiloton nuclear warhead cruise missiles is that members of the Israeli Defense Force may have been taking bribes when buying the submarines from Germany.

    • The Commander of the US Military is anything but sober and rational and the US Pacific Fleet commander said recently he would launch a nuclear strike against China if ordered.
      “Every member of the US military has sworn an oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic and to obey the officers and the president of the United States as commander and chief appointed over us,” Admiral Swift said.
      No rationale? NK was devastated by US bombing in a war which has never officially ended. The North Koreans have faced nuclear weapons based in South Korea and Japan for decades and a policy of first use against a non-nuclear armed state. Two states which under international pressure gave up their nuclear programs were attacked and overthrown with the last 15 years.
      From a North Korean perspective, the nuclear program ensures survival.

  • The Dragon Arrives: 1st Chinese overseas Military Base in Djibouti
    • 15,000 containers a year is tiny since many vessels can carry more than this in a single voyage. Surely much more goes through Djibouti from Ethiopia.

  • Trump's Folly: Oil is a Worthless Commodity and Saudi's Crown Prince Knows It
    • The average age of an American auto is over 11 years and the number of cars 16 to 24 years old is around 44 million.

      Many of these probably do very little miles but car reliability is now so high a car can be run for 20 years. In India, with lower GDP, cars are likely to be kept going even longer.

      If the oil price drops, these old autos get even cheaper to run. Unless there is a program to remove them from the roads, petrol powered cars will be with us for decades to come.

      In India the middle income car owner will bitterly resent having their functional vehicle forced off the road, while the poor would be the losers if the government provided subsidies to car owners.

      A 100% electric fleet in only 13 years in India is nearly as unlikely as the Saudis dropping oil without becoming an impoverished desert state.

  • Trump to Send 4,000 More US Troops to Afghanistan as Mattis admits 'Not Winning'
    • "we are not winning in Afghanistan"
      Defense Secretary Jim Mattis
      "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage"
      Emperor Hirohito

  • Top 5 Climate Catastrophes to which Trump just Doomed his own Supporters
    • You want fairness? How about treating every person on earth as the same, regardless of country, and letting them have equal rights to use carbon emitting energy? Sounds fair to you?

      Each American is responsible for 16.1 tonnes of CO2 every year, the average Indian 1.9 tonnes and the world average around 7 tonnes. Under a global system India would have the right to build new coal fired stations so hundreds of millions would be able to have a light-bulb for the first time while America would have to cut its consumption in half to be at the global average.

      Paris didn't work like that. It allowed some leeway for poor nations - but still assumed citizens of rich nations were entitled to use far more energy and contribute much more to pollution than others. American negotiators are far more effective in protecting American interests that Trump gives credit for.

      That is why Trump snivelling about 'fairness' sticks in my craw. 5% of the world's population produces 25% of the problem and that was never once acknowledged in this appeal to American selfishness.

    • The results of rising carbon dioxide will certainly result in property damage and deaths in the United States but the rest of the world has many more vulnerable people and the death toll and destruction from a unilateral decision to abandon responsibility for its pollution by the US will be much higher outside its shores.
      By freeloading on energy while others commit to restrictions and refusing to compensate victims for their loss, the US has gained a competitive advantage. Time for the other 193 nations to decide how to handle this selfish action.

  • Germany: We Europeans must Depend on Selves, not Trump's USA
    • Trump has yet to understand all trade deals are with the EU, not with Germany. Or that those "German" cars are made in South Carolina. Plain ignorance of Europe's biggest economy.
      Germany was against the Libyan intervention, now with Syria and Afghanistan major sources of refugees into Europe. The consequences of the chaos unleashed in these countries is affecting Europe, not the far away US. One can see why the Germans are wanting to disengage.

  • Allies Furious as Trump w/draws from G7 Climate Commitment, May leave Paris Accord
    • You can learn a lot from the handshakes.
      Trump is attempting to dominate other leaders by a display of aggression and power when he shakes hands. Perhaps he expects submissive behavior but by now other leaders are ready and counter his move - a hand on the arm, a pull back, a vice like grip.
      Trump is being just as unsubtle in his public announcements on climate. The push will be met with resistance, and a united Europe can push back hard against an isolated US. Trump will find many things will not go his way.

  • Are Iran and Saudi Arabia Heading Toward War?
    • If the Americans continue to throw fuel into the Mideast ethnic and religious conflicts - in the forms of massive arms sales, and promises of support for war and armed uprisings - they can keep the Middle East at each others throats for generations.
      First rule for any colonizing power - divide and conquer.

  • Russians Troll Trump, release Photos of Meeting
    • Given the interference of the CIA in the domestic policies of foreign governments over the years, it seems like a dose of your own medicine to be on the receiving end for a change.

  • Trumpcare is the best Advertisement for Nationalizing Insurance
    • If your medical problem is urgent and serious- heart attack, severe injuries - a system such as in Australia would treat you immediately in a public hospital. For chronic conditions such as a hip transplant, you need to go on a waiting list. This is where private hospitals come in - by paying health insurance you jump the queue and don't have to wait for those more needy to be treated first. Sometimes it could be a long wait and impact your quality of life so hospital waiting lists are frequently issues in election campaigns. Health insurance in a two tier system is very modestly priced as the public health system does much of the heavy lifting.
      Maybe Rais could correct me as my country's health system has both similarities and differences to Australia.
      What really surprises us foreigners is, in a world where over 30 developed countries have created their unique health systems, Americans seem totally uninterested in adapting ideas from outside.

    • Trump is pictured next to an Australian PM whose country spends less than 10% of its GDP on health care - compared to near 17% in the US. The Australians have the world's 4th longest life expectancy - 27 places above the US and lose 3.8 infants per 1000 compared to 6.5 in the US.
      Those commie Aussies and their evil nationalized health care!

  • As Millions March for Climate, Stab in Back by EPA & NYT
    • No one could accuse Margaret Thatcher of not being sufficiently to the right.
      " “the need for more research should not be an excuse for delaying much needed action now ... there is already a clear case for precautionary action at an international level.”
      Second World Climate Conference , 1990.
      She could see it nearly 30 years ago. Perhaps her Chemistry Bachelor of Science degree helped her see the picture.

  • Washington's demonization of Foes jumps Shark with Sean Spicer on Hitler
    • Might be fanciful but I think of Bashar as Michael Corleone. Planning a quiet life but having to take over the family business after the death of an older favored brother and gradually finding out just how ruthless one has to be to keep your clan on top in a world where extortion and murder is commonplace.
      The Godfather to me has always been the transformation of Michael Corleone to a monster and the consequent destruction of his family.

  • Trump intervenes in the Great Mideast Civil War in Syria
    • An air-force base which has a Russian presence. If the chemical weapons are being stored and planes armed in a base which has Russian ground personnel, presumably the Russians must have been aware of and approved of their use? Is Putin really a desperate gambler?

    • I am still struggling to understand why a chemical weapons attack was made on a village of no strategic importance. What were the military or political objectives?
      Only a few days ago, the White House announced they accepted Assad as the Syrian leader. The tide of battle has been going Assad's way for the last year or so and Western governments and civilians are tiring in their support of fundamentalist rebels. Trump was widely regarded as impulsive and inconsistent in his actions and as a new President eager to show his mark, had low approval ratings.
      Why then would Assad wave this red flag in front of the world?

  • Washington's Supreme Hypocrisy on Chemical Weapons and Civilian Deaths
    • I thought the only UN members that have not signed or ratified the OPCW Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction were Israel, Egypt, North Korea and South Sudan? The US has both signed and ratified it.

  • After Trump Massacres in Mosul, Campaign against ISIL Halted
    • A few months ago, pictures were broadcast around the world of the bombing victims of Aleppo but victims of Western bombing always remain as unnamed and faceless statistics.

  • How Much of Globe's Humanitarian Crisis is Fault of US?
    • Remind us - why are we backing the Saudi bombing of Yemen, a country now with 4 million acutely malnourished children and 18 million people needing food assistance?
      Are we again in the situation where a movement supported by an enemy must also be an enemy?

  • Trump plots to keep Palestinians Stateless forever
    • Trump has broken the two state shibboleth and in doing so, has made more progress than Obama accomplished in eight years. Up to now, the US has regarded the situation of the Palestinians as temporary, tolerable because it forces them to negotiate with Israel over their new state. The fact the new state has always been out of reach for over fifty years has not stopped rounds of futile diplomacy. But now without the possibility of a new state, what is there to negotiate?
      The only question is how the Arab inhabitants of Greater Israel are to be treated. Citizens with full rights, a Jim Crow regime, or declared to be foreigners from a newly created Bantustan? Where does the US stand on civil rights?

  • Could Trump's War of Words with China turn Hot?
    • About 65 countries have China as their major trading partner. How happy would these nations be and who would they blame as their exports are sunk in the South China Sea and they go into recession?

    • Any conflict in the South China Sea will only be a skirmish with few hundred to a few thousand casualties. Who comes out on top is also of small importance,
      It is what happens after the shooting subsides that is important. The only scenario that favors the US is China totally surrenders and demilitarizes and a few destroyed planes and ships won't do that, just as the destruction in Pearl Harbor did not make the US cave in to the Japanese. More likely, the Chinese will go into full clandestine military production mode. If America considered Iraq and WMD a deadly threat, imagine a belligerent country with the technical and industrial capacity of China and already possessing several hundred nukes and long range missiles setting out to match the US nuclear arsenal.
      The Iraq debacle showed the US did not have the intelligence capability to judge if a country was building nukes. It also showed wars are easier to start than finish. A shooting war with China could end very badly indeed.

  • In Shocker, Federal Judge in Seattle Halts Trump Muslim Ban
    • This is massive incompetence. To pass an order in the first week which is overthrown by the courts shows actions which affect millions outside America aren't being thought through. Along with the phone call to the Australian PM, it indicates an unstable and erratic Administration when dealing with the outside world.

  • US Media outraged by Russia, won't Notice Israeli plot on UK Parliament
    • Carrots and sticks.
      The stick came when Netanyahu allegedly told New Zealand's Foreign Minister "this means war" over the co-sponsoring of the settlement's resolution in the UN.
      The NZ Foreign Minister has not denied the report.

  • Now is the time for Obama to Recognize Palestine
    • I can't really see the point of Obama recognizing Palestine. Couldn't Trump de-recognize it in weeks?
      Recognition by the UN would be something that could not be reversed unilaterally. However Obama has left this abstention until his last month, ensuring there is very little chance of more progress. If the abstaining was back in 2011 when the last settlement vote was held, things could have been different.
      Obama is the best US President the world has ever had. Depressing how little he has achieved and what will follow.

  • Why the UN Resolution on Israeli Squatting didn't Go Far Enough
    • Sanctions would be vetoed, as would any stronger wording. Diplomacy aims to achieve the possible, not the ideal.

    • Proud of my little country for putting up that resolution. Israel has already pulled out its ambassador to New Zealand but no-one is sad to see him go. The taste of stolen passports lasts a long time.
      Pity it wasn't voted on a few weeks ago when John Key, who has Jewish ancestry, was the Prime Minister. It is not antisemitism to stand up for a Palestinian state.

  • No, America, it wasn't Russia: You did it to Yourself
    • Should have been Putin on the Time Cover.
      Put Ukraine and Crimea out of the news. Syrian rebels with major defeats and Western midEast strategy in disarray. Right wing admirers winning European elections and the EU falling apart. And now manipulated the US election and about to cause further mayhem as the US fights over Trump's legitimacy.
      He can't claim credit for everything but he must be pretty satisfied with the year.

  • More districts of East Aleppo fall to Regime & Militia Allies
    • The accepted figure a few days ago was 250 000 noncombatants besieged in East Aleppo. Is it possible a 100 000 noncombatants escaped in the last week or so?

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  • Russian Pundit: Fall of East Aleppo a Geopolitical Turning Point toward Multi-polar World
    • The fall of East Aleppo shows the Syrian government will not be overthrown in the near future. Should the west now try to extract a deal from the regime on reconciliation or continue to fund an unsuccessful and bloody uprising?
      Perhaps the answer has less to do with what is right for the Syrian people and more to do with Western loss of face and preventing a perceived Russian victory.

  • In Trump's Shadow, is East Aleppo on Verge of falling to Regime, Russia?
    • The figure of quarter of a million seems to go unquestioned, yet allowing for only minimal rations of 1 kg a day per person, that would require 250 tonnes of food a day or 7 500 tonnes a month for a siege of 4 months. Allowing for cooking gas and other essentials would probably double this figure.
      Possibilities are the enclave must have tens of thousands of tonnes stockpiled, the siege is leaky, or the besieged numbers have been exaggerated.

  • Fidel Castro's Top Moments in the Middle East
    • I was surprised by the GDP per capita you quoted as I had always believed - despite a few weeks spent there in 2005 - the economy was a basket case. The power of negative press in defining reality. After decades of economic warfare, its GDP turns out to be similar to many of its neighbors.
      My visit coincided with a visit by Hugo Chavez and our hire car was stopped on a country road within sight of the limousines. We later followed in their wake and were cheered by crowds of onlookers - totally undeserved but we felt like visiting royalty. The affection for the two leaders appeared genuine.

  • Four years of Trump could really sink the planet
    • I think the global situation is so serious rogue nations on carbon emissions should be targeted with tariffs. Perhaps this should be discussed at the next global summit.
      The idea some nations can pull out and face no consequences must be addressed.

  • The Hatred that Trump's Lies will Leave Behind
    • A nation gets the leaders they deserve. One choice is irrational, racist and xenophobic, puffed up with an inflated opinion of himself who thinks he can bully other nations to bow to US demands. The other believes in secrecy and double talk to a domestic audience and has never met a bombing, an invasion or a regime change she doesn't like.
      Don't blame the candidates for reflecting the wishes of the people.

  • Turkish Gov't arrests 15 Opposition MPs in Further Descent into Dictatorship
    • At least foreign leaders are spared being lectured by the State Department on the evils of torture, summary executions or holding suspects indefinitely without trial these days

  • Save America from Trump to fix America, or, Did your Mother Drop you on Your Head?
    • I don't think the rest of the world cares. We cared when you re-elected Bush the Dumber. We cared when you voted for Obama and even gave him a Nobel Prize in Peace - basically for not being George W. Now we don't care.
      All we see are two terrible choices. The biggest pool of available candidates, the longest electoral and most inclusive electoral cycle, and this is all you got?
      I don't think the rest of the world cares. We cared when you re-elected Bush the Dumber. We cared when you voted for Obama and even gave him a Nobel Prize in Peace - basically for not being George W. Now we don't care.

      All we see now are two terrible choices. The biggest pool of available candidates, the longest electoral and most inclusive electoral cycle, and this is all you got?

      The US is the most conservative country on the planet. The oldest nation judged by unchanging political establishment. A country where two nineteenth century parties still dominate politics. Obama, our vision of hope and change, changed very little. The US is like a huge liner, incapable of stopping or changing course. Whoever wins next week will continue American foreign policies as before. The US is the most conservative country on the planet. The oldest nation judged by unchanging constitution. A country where two nineteenth century parties still dominate politics.
      Obama, our vision of hope and change, changed very little. The US is like a huge liner, incapable of stopping or changing course. Whoever wins next week will continue American foreign policies as before.

  • US Goes to War with Houthis in Yemen (Openly)
    • I have lost count. Iraq. Syria. Yemen. Libya. Somalia. Pakistan. How many wars is the US currently fighting either through special forces or air strikes?

  • ISIL used Chem on US Troops in Iraq; but this time US Gov't isn't talking WMD
    • Might also be embarrassing to admit chemical weapons in Syria can not be automatically assumed to being used by the regime.

  • Why the Boeing & Airbus Sales to Iran are a Big Effing Deal
    • China is pretty keen to break into that market too. Smart move would be to talk about buying the C919, so far only ordered by Chinese airlines. The Boeing-Airbus duopoly is not unbreakable.

  • Obama: End terrorism like that in New York by Destroying ISIL in Mosul, Iraq
    • ISIL have shown their barbarity by executing prisoners in cold blood. Hundreds of captured soldiers have been lined up, shot and tossed into mass graves. The world has stood revolted by this war crime.
      But if we are going to conquer Mosul, what are the plans for captured ISIL fighters? Not all will fight to the end, and some will attempt to merge back into civilians. If they are allowed to go undercover, they could plan and execute further attacks.
      Is a super Gauntanamo planned for possibly tens of thousands of prisoners for an indefinite period? Or will the West quietly hope for and accept an ISIL style massacre of captured fighters by the militias?

  • The Greater Middle East Reacts to British Exit from EU
    • Except the 53 countries with 2.2 billion citizens are hardly clamouring for more British leadership. In India, famines were regular occurences and the brutality of the suppression of the MauMau rebellion is still remembered. Face it, your empire is history.

    • I think there is a direct link between the Greater Middle East and Brexit.

      One of the major reasons Britons voted out was because of fear of migration, especially non-European and Muslim migrants. What has caused this sentiment to swell is the mass movement of refugees into Europe, particularly from Syria. And of course the root cause of this migration is the continuing chaos in the Greater Middle East. NATO have been aggressively meddling in this area for decades by supplying arms or through direct military action - Iraq, Syria and Libya in particular.

      Actions have consequences and these may take decades to come to fruition. The actions beginning with the Iraq invasion are starting to break up post WW2 Europe and the Western Alliance.

  • Why total Victory for Russia and Assad is a Pipedream: ISIL strikes in deep in Regime Territory
    • I agree the suicide bombing shows the Assad regime can not protect what remains of the Syrian population in regime-controlled areas. But neither can the French and British governments protect their own citizens in their capital cities from suicide bombers.

      The battle in Afghanistan and Iraq by US backed forces have now been going on for over 15 years. Yet we decide after 6 months the Russians have failed?

  • Israel: Netanyahu reiterates opposition to French peace initiative
    • The binational state is a far better option than the isolated Bantustans which is all Israel would allow. A declaration that the idea of Palestine is dead, and Israel must accommadate Gaza and West Bank into a greater Israel with every inhabitant having full civil rights would pose an awful dilemna for those wanting Jewish supremacy.

    • Not so sure. How about taking up the offer -with the proviso the negotiations are broadcast live so the world can judge the sincerity of the two sides?

  • Britain should stop trying to pretend that its empire was benevolent
    • If the Chinese wanted to be very rude to the British, perhaps the Chinese government could react to the British attempting to stop heroin smuggling by Chinese nationals by sailing warships up the Thames, bombarding various cities, killing thousands of defenders, then stealing whatever they could lay their thieving hands on before laying waste to Buckingham Palace, occupying a British port and claiming it as a Chinese possession while claiming the right to peddle as much soul destroying drugs as they want.
      Of course the Chinese would never do that. Only a country intent on establishing an empire with no regard for others would do such a thing.

    • Why go back to the 19th century? In the Bengal Famine of 1943 approximately 3 million died. While the favourite of conservatism - Sir Winston Churchill - was the ruler of India. The death of Indians did not concern him greatly.

  • The End of American Iraq: Poor Shiites invade Parliament over corrupt Spoils System
    • A week or so ago. I was amazed to read in Britain's Economist magazine, government emplyment has ballooned from 1 million employees under Saddam to 7 million today. In a country of 35 million and considering the dreadful state of governement services, this would be due to patronage.

  • Reinventing Saudi Arabia after Oil: The Prince's $2 Trillion Gamble
    • The Royal Family have looted hundreds of billions and will deal with the change by moving to their London and New York townhouses. The average Saudi will be left living in a nation which can not grow or import enough food. Starve or flee are the choices.
      How could Saudi Arabia exist without oil revenues?

    • The future of Saudi Arabia is Nauru. A mid Pacific nation which was once a rock covered in seabird droppings. The guano was sold as fertiliser giving it a brief "highest per capita per head ' rating thirty years ago. Now it is just a barren rock.
      Its major earner? Locking up refugees and asylum seekers picked up by the Australian navy to keep them from making landfall in Australia. Given the instability in the neighbourhood, I see a future for the Saudis as a place to lock up Europe's would-be migrants.
      One difference. The Republic of Nauru has only 10 000 citizens, Saudi Arabia has millions. The money earned from keeping people behind barbed wire won't go very far.

  • Saudis warn they will withdraw $750 Bn. from US economy if 9/11 Bill Passes
    • I would think the impact would be on future purchases and the interest rates which the US must pay to foreign investors. First, huge amounts of discounted US assets on sale will make it hard to sell new Treasury bonds. Second, if the US is seen as a place where legitimately held assets can be seized based on what might be political and ill-informed decisions, it becomes a risky place to hold money.
      So the result could be a curtailment of borrowing by the US.

  • Negotiations, "Elections," and al-Qaeda's assault on Syrian Ceasefire
  • Syrian Ceasefire in Tatters as al-Qaeda & allies attack in South Aleppo
    • So the Nato backed moderates and their jihadist allies resume the killing in Syria. Just in time to save DAESH from further attack by a resurgent Syrian Army.

  • Is Trump, wrong on everything else, Right on US Foreign Policy?
    • As a non US citizen, I can't recall ever voting for the US to be the leader of the world. Nor can I remember deciding the US would be the policeman of the world or asking for the US to decide which nations it would bomb or invade.
      There are names for someone who decides to lead or police without the consent of those being dominated. Not leader or policeman but dictator and vigilante.

  • Syria's Kurds to declare Federal Province
    • I would imagine how popular a federal Syria would be would depend if your self-governing province ends up with oil. How is revenue to be shared? How will the losers in a Federal Syria react?

  • 9/11: Clueless US Judge doesn't Know Shiites from al-Qaeda, finds against Iran for $10 Bn.
    • " Iran had failed to prove it did not help the attackers."

      What happened to Innocent until proven Guilty?

  • Winners and Losers in 5 Years of Syrian Civil War
    • The present state of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya show NATO interventions do not necessarily lead to stable and peaceful democracies.

    • If we are going to be objective you need to add a few more.

      Winners

      Assad. Five years of foreign backed insurgency and he is still in charge. He escaped the fate of Saddam and Gaddafi.

      Syrian Arab Army. Didn't crack under pressure while the US trained Iraqi forces ran while facing DAESH and left billions of military equipment to be captured

      Putin. Outmanoeuvred Obama twice, first over chemical weapons and then waiting until US failure before decisively intervening.

      Great Britain. After lining up for the last two imperial adventures, declined military involvement in Syria.

      Losers:

      US State Department and Intelligence services. Billions of monitored conversations failed to understand effective moderate forces were little more than wishful thinking. Unable to understand impact of interventions in the MidEast.

      Obama/ Clinton. Told the world many times 'Assad must go” and then quietly backed down.

      France. Plenty of bluster over its former colony,turns out to be a military lightweight.

  • Rubio's 7 Fallacies on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
    • At least Rubio is honest. Obama has waffled but his policy has been eight years of spineless support of Likud policies. Not once has he stood up to Netanyahu.

  • Kerry warns of break up of Syria; but is that Realistic?
    • Could the corridor from Damascus to Aleppo including the coast and Lebanese border be turned into an Alawite dominated heartland? The Sunni rebels in the East would be isolated, landlocked and busy fighting each other while the Kurds would face a bigger enemy in Turkey.
      Perhaps partition would suit Assad and not have to be imposed from outside.

  • Russian Strike on al-Qaeda Lair kills 51 at Prison, as US hypocritically slams Moscow
    • After nearly 18 months of coalition bombing, a DAESH convey like that could still be driving down the road? Has the coalition been serious in targetting DAESH or has regime change been thei biggest priority?

  • As French Pres. Hollande meets Putin, France considers alliance w/ Syrian Army
    • Taking on Daesh in a serious way means ground forces.

      The Kurds aren't willing to conquer and hold Sunni areas. The Sunni rebels are weak, divided and dominated by jihadists. The Syrian regime troops have been ruled out. Western forces after the Iraqi debacle won't go in and Egypt, Saudi and other Arab armies aren't volunteering.

      So there is no plan to take on Daesh in a serious way.

  • Why did Turkey dare shoot down a Russian Plane? The Proxy War in Syria
    • Putin won't do anything stupid as he hasn't got a strong position. The present campaign of bombing rebels is obviously deeply unsettling to Turkey and NATO yet they can't directly oppose it, especially after the Paris bombing and more anti-Muslim feeling. The loss of a plane and a pilot can be accepted.
      The Russians will be hitting the Turkmans hard but will be wary of the border.

    • Why did Turkey dare shoot down a Russian Plane?

      The same reason Serbia faced down Austro-Hungary in1914. It is backed by an alliance that will get dragged into a war in spite of reckless and provocative behaviour by a minor state.
      A couple of years after 1914 and twenty thousand Englishmen are machine gunned down in a single day. NATO better be careful where Turkey is taking them.

  • Saudi Arabia: Poet Sentenced to Death for Apostasy
    • Saudi. The Islamic State with the Western stamp of approval.
      Maybe DAESH should start funneling oil money to Western leaders.

  • 'Very Soon' US forces will Arrive in Syria; Russia bombs near Turkey
    • The latest AFP report has strikes targeting 283 fuel tankers that were being used to transport oil to help fund the Islamic State group in eastern Syria, between Al Hasakah and Dayr Az Zawr in the east.

      Hundreds of oil tankers destroyed in a week and officials do not disclose their destination? Is the funding of ISIS through oil sales too embarrassing to mention publicly? If it is indeed the Syrian regime supporting ISIS , why aren't the US providing drone images and details of their double dealing?

      I note Al Hasakah is only 80 km from the Turkish border.

  • "For Paris" on Russian Missiles hitting Syria as ISIL Oil Facilities Targeted
    • No one is questioning the accuracy of American missiles. Yet if there were 500 gasoline trucks still smuggling after more than a year of Western bombing, the seriousness of Western intent must be questioned.

  • Kurdish Fighters cut Road between ISIL centers of Raqqa and Mosul
    • Maybe. Or the coalition could have seen the ISIL vehicles heading to Palmyra and ignored them because the Syrian regime held Palmyra. The coalition goal is two fold - defeat of ISIS, overthrow of Assad. Attacking ISIL could sometimes be defending the Syrian army - was this a reason why Palmyra fell?

    • Seeeing that Kurdish column rolling along a highway shows how vulnerable an attacking or reinforcing force would be to an airstrike. Yet ISIS have been driving up and down those roads for nearly a year and a half. How did they manage that?

      Now the road has been cut. After nearly 18 months? Finally some progress from the coalition.

      Surely nothing to do with the Russian involvement and Syrian army advances?

  • What Obama should tell Netanyahu this Week (But won't)
    • "since Britain launched the War of 1812 "
      Isn't that a bit like saying "since Iraq launched the War of 2003"?
      A leopard never changes its spots.

  • Abbas submits further files on Israeli Crimes to Int'l Criminal Court
    • If New Zealand has indeed put up such a resolution in the Security Council, they are puppets for a nation which does not want to put it forward themselves.

  • Iran's Attendance at Syria talks in Vienna marks its Emergence as Regional Power
    • Certainly barrel-bombing civilian neighborhoods is reprehensible.

      But isn't there an element of hypocrisy given the Allied bombing of World War 2? The intention in mass bombing attacks was to slaughter as many civilians as possible. First conventional bombing to break open houses, break water mains and hinder firefighters followed by incendiaries to burn to death or suffocate whole neighbourhoods. Then nuclear weapons dropped on cities - with death tolls of over a 100 000 in single attacks.

      Does the passage of time mean these are to regarded now as legitimate war time actions? The West seems to have decided actions far less intentional and deadly than their own bombing are war crimes while their own aging veterans are still heroes.

  • Senior National Security Advisers urge Obama to put Spec Ops Troops close to ISIL Front
    • The US has decided to bomb Syria without an invitation or a Security Council Resolution. That makes it as illegal under international law as the Iraq invasion.

      The Syrians found themselves in the same positon as anyone who finds their home invaded by armed thugs - best to acquiesce to their presence lest you further irritate them Especially if some factions amongst the thugs are openly advocating shooting the homeowner.

      The Russians are there now - if the foreign minister reversed his blessing, would the Western coalition obediently withdraw?

      As for the special ops - the press after initial scathing remarks on Russian military ineptitude have now gone quiet. Could it be the pressure is on the US to match Russian success?

  • Is Russia's offer of Parliamentary Elections in Syria Serious?
    • If you can’t have real elections in the middle of a civil war the Western plan shows another flaw in insisting Assad must go. He can only be replaced by someone appointed to the leadership and needs Assad to voluntarily step down..

      So far the West has yet to nominate a new Syrian leader. Perhaps Putin should put the cat amongst the pigeons again by suggesting one.

  • Al-Qaeda in Syria Leader: Kill Alawite Minority, Russians; Christians fear West Backs Him
    • The main stream media has yet to understand the implications of the map. There are no moderate forces in Syria. The US can find only a handful of Syrians to train and they are completely incapable of putting their trainees into any part of Syria where they can work with other groups. Instead each group of US trained fighters has either been attacked or had their weapons stripped from them.

      The question our leaders need to be asked:
      Why are we arming al-Qaeda?
      What will happen when our supported jihadists gain power over millions of 'heretics'?

  • Does Obama have a Syria Strategy? Putin Does.
    • He will continue to bomb Daesh targets in Syria, even though these aerial raids appear to have produced no results.
      Actually not just the US. Also Australia, France, Canada, and the UK. Together they must have hundreds if not thousands of planes and helicopters which can strike anywhere with pinpoint accuracy. Not to mention satellites and drones which can scrutinise every square inch of DAESH territory. And they have been going at it since June last year, 16 months now. Yet ISIL does not appear to be defeated.
      I remember the 'convey of death' when Iraqi troops retreated from Kuwait. The devastation airpower can inflict on a column on a desert road is incredible. Yet ISIL are still roaming Syria and conquering new areas.
      I am starting to wonder the unthinkable - does the US have a strategy of inflicting minimal damage on ISIL? One possible reason is the end result of morale shattering strikes on ISIL fighters and the collapse of ISIL. The survivors would probably continue the fight by merging with the 'moderates' and making themselves immune to airstrikes. This would push existing rebel forces towards a more extreme and violent form of resistance.
      So does the West really want to contain IS rather than destroy them? is it cynical to wonder if the results of the bombing are exactly as planned?

    • Obama's strategy is to appear as if he is doing something while accomplishing nothing. Bombing ISIL, training moderates, supporting the Kurds, all are ineffective because they are half-hearted PR exercises with no real goal.

      That is what a "world leader" is bound to do - pontificate and take some action at the beginning of every mess even if the situation is far from clear. Now a regime change would be literally out of Assad's frying pan into the jihadi fire.

      Putin was under no pressure and waited over four years before striking. If Putin had moved sooner he would have faced enormous pressure but now he has a free hand because of perceived Western failure.

      The only question - will Putin be allowed to roll back the rebels and allow a relatively stable Assad dominated heartland to be set up? Or will the west, out of wounded pride, attempt to sabotage Putin and escalate the war?

  • What is Russia's Strategy in Syria & Why does Egypt Approve?
    • The more pertinent question - what is the US strategy in Syria?

      After more than four years an overt strategy of finding and arming moderates has been abandoned. US support for the Kurds has been undermined by their NATO ally Turkey. ISIL is getting support from somewhere but US intelligence has not – or will not – reveal how they sell oil or how they support a population of several million. Although they have bombed ISIL for almost a year, it has not stopped ISIL from more conquests.

      The 'covert' CIA strategy is now becoming more clearer as the Russians bomb CIA supplied groups. Since the US can not seem to find any moderates to arm openly, it has been handing out lethal weapons to shadowy groups. Who these groups are and what these groups will do with this weapons is not being discussed openly.

      What makes US intervention in Syria possibly worse than the Iraq invasion is its ineffectiveness, a war on which has dragged for more than four years with no end in sight. And the Syrian intervention is certainly no more legal than Bush's attack on Iraq.

      Now the strategy seems to be to allow rebel groups to call in US air-strikes. ISIL, Syrian regime troops, other opposition groups, a village full of heretics, a hospital – just name it and the US will blow it up. And we haven't even started talking about what happens when American policy finally succeeds - the fall of Damascus.

  • No, Donald Trump, Mideast wouldn't be more Stable under Saddam & other Dictators
    • After last weeks shooting Trump showed he was a fan of the 70's vigilante movie "Deathwish" where Bronson turns from a victim of a mugging into a one man death squad targetting anyone who resembled his racist profile of a mugger.
      By calling the Iraq invasion illegal but nevertheless a good thing you are also taking the position of a vigilante, someone who is judge, jury and executioner. tyrants are propped up, some are bombed, new tyrants take their place but the decision is always made by the vigilante.
      I believe your analysis does not take into account the chaos vigilante action has caused. Case in point: Syria is stalemated because the opposition is holding out for outside vigilante intervention. A political settlement will not be reached if the rebels think they can march into Damascus behind US tanks.

  • Why Obama and Putin are Both Wrong on Syria
    • Any nation which fights two enemies simultaneously has to decide which one has to be dealt with first. Would you judge America's efforts in 1942 to concentrate on Japan rather than genocidal Nazi Germany as less than valiant?

  • Syria: Is Bashar al-Assad winning the Diplomatic War? Rebels Fret
    • On chemical weapons and again in Syria the former KGB man has had his way. All he had to do was sit back until Western plans became obvious failures and step in with the only alternative.

  • Are U.S., Russian Arms Supplies to Iraq, Syria a Blessing to Rebel Groups?
    • And anothe little snippet from the same article.
      "Amnesty International said that in 2004 and 2005 more than 350,000 AK-47 rifles and similar weapons were taken out of Bosnia and Serbia, for use in Iraq, by private contractors working for the Pentagon and with the approval of NATO and European security forces in Bosnia. "
      link to washingtonpost.com

    • According to the Washington Post in an article on Monday, August 6, 2007, the Pentagon has lost track of about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005. These were presumably from Iraqi stocks and issued when security training was led by Gen. David H. Petraeus.
      The responsibility for the proliferation of AK-47s by rebel forces does not always lead back to Russia.

  • Majority of Palestinians lose hope in 2 States, Await Israeli Ethnic Cleansing
    • Can you imagine in 10 years time a delegation of West Bank residents turning up at an AIPAC conference claiming to be Israelis and asking for help in getting their civil rights in a democratic Israel?

    • If an independent Palestinian can not be achieved, the alternative is the annexation of the Palestinian territories. The status of those living in the new territories would then have to be decided. Would they be citizens with equal rights or would apartheid have to be imposed?
      If Palestinians declared Israel's actions have made a two state solution impossible and demanded outright annexation and full civil rights, Israel would be put in a very difficult situation. The pressure would be on them to deal with several million Arabs living under occupation who demand a resolution to the stalemate. Not so easy for the US either if the 'pie in the sky' solution disappears and the US is defending Jim Crow policies in its ally.

  • Trump Pledges to "Look into" Paranoid Charges of Muslim-American Terror camps
    • The US is starting to remind me of Weimar Germany. After a lost war and economic turmoil, a demagogue blames all the nation's troubles on foreign plots and ethnic minorities. Against a backdrop of flags and reverence for the armed forces the claim is made the nation can be made great again. All it will take is resolute action to force other nations to accept their place in the world.

  • Pope Francis' call to host Refugees contrasts w/ anti-Immigrant US "Religious Right"
    • The Pope has always been one of the leading voices against birth control. Given the youthful and expanding population of the Middle East, the frustration of Arab youth as they enter stagnant economies and the fracture of societies based on religion, it appears the Pope is amongst those causing rather fixing the problem.

  • ISIL beheaded Dozens in Palmyra, but how Strategic is the City?
    • At least Assad has proved capable of running a multi-ethnic state in the past. Assad has certainly been brutal but states can be brutal in times of war. Deliberate targeting of civilians which killed tens of thousands in one night using bombing firestorms and nuclear strikes comes to mind and the men who did this are regarded as heroes.

    • I wandered around Palmyra a decade ago in a country where people were more friendly than anywhere else I have visited. I still remember being invited to homes and wonder where these people are now.
      Palmyra is a place of great historical and cultural significance, The Roman and Greek influenced architecture is simply stunning and it would be an enormous loss to the world if these sites. over 2000 years old, are damaged or destroyed.

  • Syria: What if Turkey and Saudi Arabia install al-Qaeda in Damascus?
    • So this war is heading for two decades? (anything that happens in Syria for the next 10 or 15 years is likely to be horrible). At what point do we decide on the lesser of the evils to stop the killing? Now or a decade down the track?

  • Pakistan as Hong Kong West: China's New Silk Road & US Failure
    • A 3000 km enormously expensive railway line running through mountains and areas under the control of separatist forces fighting the Pakistani governments. A good plan?

      What will go back and forth on this railway? Neither Urumqi nor Karachi are renowned for their international trade

      A ship from Shanghai can now deliver 20,000 20 foot containers in a single sailing. How long would a train have to be to deliver that quantity?

  • As US Consulate in Irbil. Iraq, is Bombed, can US still do Diplomacy in ME?
    • It is true tha US diplomats are finding it more difficult to carry out the work of the US government due to the increasing violence and instability of the Middle East.

      However, given the US has been the foreign power dominating diplomatic effects for decades in a region now moving into a series of civil wars, I am not convinced less opportunities to meddle is a bad thing.

  • Juan Cole: Syria, Yemen Conflicts only seem to be about Sunni-Shiite from 30,000 Feet
    • Can you explain why the US is aiding the Saudis in bombing a movement of the Zaidi Shiite community in Northern Yemen in their civil war?

  • President Hillary Clinton's Middle East Policy: Interventions, Wars, More of Same
    • The difference between Thatcher, Merkel, Guillard and Clark is they reached leadership of Western democracies alone and on their own merits.

      There is a dynastic model of women leadership found in nations which is not associated with the country's record of women's rights.

      The Great Democracy is following in the path of Pakistan and Bangladesh in electing the wife of a former President who can not stand for himself.

    • It is not clear that she would actually do anything about continued illegal Israeli squatting on Occupied Palestinian land.

      Pretty clear to me. She will make mild statements of condemnation while vetoing and undermining every meaningful international action taken through the UN or ICC opposing the squatting.

  • As Iran talks Progress, US, Iran forces cooperate in taking Tikrit
    • I think this answers a question I had a few days ago - why when Saudi Arabia alone has 300 modern combat aircraft within range of Tikrit does the USAF have to be the one to drop the bombs?
      The answer appears to be the Saudis regard a Shiite takeover of a majority Sunni town as being a greater evil than Daesh control of several million civilians. The absence of other Mideast air-forces - allies supported and supplied by the US - shows the Saudis are not alone in siding with Sunnis, however vicious their behaviour against Shiites and others judged not sufficiently pure.
      So are the Daesh , regarded as the most evil force in the world in the West, considered by Mideast states as the lesser of the two evils when compared to Iraq regaining control over Tikrit?

  • A Game-Changer in Syrian War? al-Qaeda-led Factions take Idlib
    • The situation in Syria appears to be a stalemate. The Syrian regime can not crush the rebels and the rebels can not overthrow the regime. A couple of years ago it seemed likely the US would commit a Libyan-style intervention but now it is bombing Assad's enemies who are dominated by those who hate Western values.
      As support comes in on both sides, this conflict could last indefinitely. Why then is a loss of a remote provincial city a game changer?

  • Washington's 2 Air Wars: alongside Iran in Iraq, Saudis in Yemen
    • There is something I am not understanding here.
      Depending on the source, Saudi Arabia is either the third or fourth nation ranked by military spending, ahead of Israel, France or the UK, with 300 modern strike aircraft. The Gulf states, Egypt, Jordan and Iran all have strike aircraft so the total airforce available to bomb ISIS forces must be near 500 combat aircraft.
      With all those planes available in the region why then does the US have to be involved? If these states are truly worried about the threat wouldn't even 10% of their strike force be more than enough to bomb Tikrit?
      One of those situations where what is said does not match up with the actions.

  • Mideast Reacts with Horror: "Israel has elected Extremism and Racism"
    • Sure he will backtrack - he already has. Question is can any peace talks resume when an Israeli PM has rejected the establishment of a Palestinian state under his term of office no matter what concessions are made?
      If there is no longer a path to peace or even the semblance of an Israeli partner how can the recognition of Palestine be vetoed in the UN?

    • The Arab press should be pleased. A left wing coalition would restart peace talks with the US at an intermediary - a peace process which has gone on since at least the days of Nixon and Kissinger with the only tangible result being the establishment of a virtual bantustan and the flooding of settlers into the West Bank.
      Netanyahu is a liar. He claims to support a two party state and then no Palestinian state depending on his audience. The argument against international sanctions - the peace process must not be derailed - has been nullified because there is no peace process without a willing Israeli partner.
      The rift with Obama gives the Palestinians the green light to push ahead with all speed in international law at a time when the blocking actions ot the US are its lowest.

  • 5 Surprising Ways Iran is better than Israel
    • As well as refusing to sign the NPT, Israel is also one of the handful of countries who have not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention. Unlike Iran or even Syria.

  • The Latest Blow to Israeli-Palestinian Peace
    • So the US has again blocked the peace progress. Surprised? The way forward is the UN, the ICC and EU sanctions. Time for the Palestinians to treat the US as irrelevant.

  • Amazing Green Cars at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show
    • Of course instead of sitting in a parking lot, the empty car will be driving around to pick you up. That will increase miles driven, no? Once you can sit back and relax, why not live 50 miles out of town or let the car drive you to Los Vegas for the weekend? Especially since most of your fuel is coming from your rooftop panel.
      Make something cheaper and more convenient and more is consumed. Electric self driving cars are going to cause massive congestion problems.

  • Guns: Americans more likely to be Shot by Toddler than by Terrorist
    • Most foreigners saw Bush as an aberration, a man out of his depth and caught by bad decisions. Our problem is we were all so excited about Obama awe even gave him a Nobel Peace Prize just for not being GWB. Now we are facing facts. Bush was not the problem and replacing him with what looked like a liberal has resulted in very little change in foreign policy.
      Sure you are out of Iraq and Afghanistan but they were military defeats more than planned withdrawals and were set in motion by Bush.
      Guantanamo. Drone warfare. NSA spying. Total and unconditional support for Israel. All Obama's work.

  • What would Happen if the Int'l Criminal Court Indicted Israel's Netanyahu?
    • In deciding to prosecute any Israeli official, the pressure placed on the ICC would be enormous and would be orchestrated by the US. The US have successfully blocked any sanctions on their ally for decades so I am expecting very little from the ICC.

  • President Obama's Biggest Mideast Policy Challenges, 2015
    • The US has been the dominant foreign power in the Middle East for decades. It provides enormous amounts of military assistance, propping up the armies of despots and providing everything from attack helicopters to cluster bombs. It is the only foreign power to station troops in the regime and the only significant foreign naval presence. It stands completely behind Israel and blocks any action that is not first decided by Tel Aviv. It invaded one Arab country and bombs and drone strike many more. It applies sanctions to some countries and arms and equips groups which seek to overthrow governments.
      After decades of the 'Carter Doctrine' the Mideast is in worse shape than ever. And the solution? Is it really more US meddling?

  • Palestinians ready next Move as UNSC rejects end of Occupation
    • Did Abbas try to fail? Five security members are replaced within a day or two of the vote and they may have been more sympathetic. Or is he leaving the option for a second attempt with the 2015 Security Council?

  • Baathist Riposte: How the Regime Came back in the Syrian Civil War in 2014
    • The Syrian National Coalition may have been recognized by most of the world, including the U.S. but if its constituent brigades defected to the Islamic Front because the US would not bomb Syria or give it MANPADS suggests Syrian allegiance to the SNC was very low. Once it was seen it could not gather Western support, this front organisation was abandoned and the rebels went back to the militas which truly shared their goals.

    • So where is the plan?
      The battle is now between Baathists and extremists. Bombing the extremists helps the Baathists - so does the West destroy the extremists to allow a regime takeover of territory? Seems extremely doubtful the moderates can step up.
      A possibility is a full-scale US invasion and occupation - although given the consequences of the Iraq fiasco, that seems unlikely to succeed.
      The worst plan may be to continue with the idea of arming the opponents and giving them the hope of eventual intervention. That may drag this war on for years or decades and it must be faced that a civil war like this is far worse than a Baathist dictatorship.

  • Israel Econ. Minister's West Bank annexation plan a wake up call for the West
    • I would be interested to see Bennet explain the difference between his vison of subservient Palestinians living in an area "short of a state" and the Bantustans planned by apartheid era South Africa.

  • The end of National Sovereignty in the Middle East? Iraqi Kurdistan sends troops into Syria
  • Defying Turkey, US airdrops arms to Kobane Kurds
    • When you have three or more sides in a conflict there is usually a temporary understanding as to who is the main enemy and who is to be left alone or become secret allies, however messy or immoral the situation. The US is now helping Assad and the Turks are using ISIS to keep the Kurds down so NATO allies are now effectively opposing each other.

  • Turkey bargaining with base for US, wants no-fly zone in Syria
    • Of course the US has another ally in the region just as close as Turkey is to the ISIS forces. It also has airbases suitable for bombers and an advanced air-force and its troops face ISIS at the Golan Heights.
      Of course this ally can not get involved as it would inflame the situation- which rather begs the question of why spend billions on an ally which will not and can not help you?

  • The Last Days of Kobani Loom as ISIL Closes in on Syrian Kurds with Murder on its Mind
    • So basically the Americans don't trust the Kurds enough to give them a laser pointer - even though a Kurdish city is about to be massacred. Their Nato ally the Turks are sitting a kilometer away from the same city and watching developments because they don't want to help Kurdish separatism. The Iraqi army has yet to make progress because much of their equipment has been stolen by their corrupt officers and sold - probably to ISIS. Iraqi politicians are too busy bickering to unite in responding to the threat and Shi'ite militias are killing Sunni civilians with more enthusiasm than confronting ISIS. Iran, Hezbollah, and Assad's Syria have effective fighters and hate ISIS but can't be in the same fight. A force of only a few thousand fighters have conquered half of Iraq and Syria and hold several million inhabitants under their control, and are pushing back Kurdish peshmerga while absorbing Western airstrikes. The Free Syrian Army appears to be totally missing but if we put in 1% of the billions spent on the Iraqi army , they will sort this whole mess out.
      What has Bush/Obama dragged the US into?

  • The Yasukuni Shuffle: China and Japan duke it out via T.V. Serials on the Wrongs of WW II
    • On May 5 1985 President Reagan also took a stroll in a park. The park was Bitburg Military Cemetery which contains the graves of 49 soldiers of the Waffen-ss. No American President has ever repeated this mistake as it was seen as siding with the perpetrators of WWII mass killings.
      Yet the Japanese Leaders persist in visiting a shrine to war dead which contains war criminals who organized massacres. Jewish and other leaders were justifiably outraged by Reagan's visit - why can't the Chinese show the same reaction?

  • Palestine goes to UN Security Council to Demand Israeli Withdrawal by 2016
    • Depressingly accurate. After the drawnout Kerry peace progress, Palestinians head for the UN even though the US must have privately told them they will veto any progress. Then in a couple of years - maybe - the ICC. All the hallmarks of timewasting.

  • US strikes ISIL oil fields in Quest to Defund it: But will it Replace oil with Fracking?
    • ISIS are landlocked so the oil must be passing through either Iraq, Iran, Turkey. Israel or regime controlled Syria. Does the extensive US spy network- who appear to know the refineries location, output and selling price - have any idea who is buying this oil and helping to fund ISIS? Or is disclosing the allies of ISIS politically sensitive?

  • Shock & Awe In Syria: It never Works
  • Elon Musk's Nevada Gigafactory may Save the World
    • The question that needs asking - how long is the life of a battery? Most battery powered appliances - notebooks. mobile phones - would never make the five year mark and their battery life drops until many laptops become only useful plugged in.
      An internal combustion engine lasts decades and does not decrease in efficiency. Any comparison of costs has to include costs of replacing batteries and since the range of a fresh battery is still marginal, any drop in performance is going to have an impact.
      Incidentally, Chinese cities ban motorbikes and the streets are full of e-bikes. I suspect this will be the driver for electric vehicles as 100 million cheap electic scooters outweigh a few thousand exotic sportscars.

  • Israel's Gaza Campaign Endangers US Security: Why Obama & Kerry are Furious
    • Just one question - is the US supply chain replacing Israeli munitions as fast as they are being dropped on civilians?
      That would be a more accurate way of knowing the degree of pressure being applied to stop this killing than any public statement.

  • As a Sakharov laureate and a mother, I call on the EU to help save Palestinians – and Israel
    • The US has claimed a sole leadership role in this conflict since the days of Nixon and Kissinger. At the same time it has supplied weapons and vetoed every resolution criticising Israel. Even when it requests a halt to settlements it is publicly ignored. A reasonable question is - what has US leadership acheived for Palestine?
      Perhaps after 40 years of failure it is time to step aside.

  • Gaza War Devastates Israeli Tourism Revenue, Points to Fragile Apartheid Future
    • I had thought the rockets were a sign of desperation, an ineffective and counterproductive activity. Yet these rockets have sent millions of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters, forced the mobilisation of tens of thousands of troops, and created massive disruption to the Israeli economy - the closing of the airport being the latest indication.

      In addition Israeli troops have had little option but close quarters urban fighting in a crowded city - the very worst option for a technologically advanced army. In a city their overwhelming firepower creates civilian casualties while they blunder into prepared defences.

      The paradox of the Gaza missiles is their ineffectiveness in killing is their strength. Netanyahu has not a single "telegenic dead Israeli child" to display to the world while the world media displays picture after picture of dead Palestinian children. Yet he can not ignore the missiles.

      No wonder the Israelis are bemoaning the failed ceasefire. and Kerry is keen to intervene. Hamas can string the Israelis along for weeks to come - or step up their resistance against the Israeli stranglehold at any time.

  • Gaza: Netanyahu, Goaded by Israeli Far Right, Risks Breaking Int'l Law
    • No significance in breaking international law at all. The US will always protect Israel, both at the UN and through pressure on allies. The US protects a state which conquered territory in a pre-emptive war, which occupies the territory without granting citizenship, denies the right to return, plants settlements to squeeze out the landowners and bombs the unhappy occupied masses. Perhaps the ultimate cynic Putin can now agree with the US it that this is an acceptable policy and apply the same tactics to Ukraine - for a start.

  • Israel's search for missing settlers shines light on depth of the West Bank’s occupation
    • Looks like the only sensible option is to abandon the idea of Palestine as a separate state. Israel now stretches to the River Jordan. Recognise facts on the ground.
      Stop calling yourselves Palestinians. Call yourself Israelis and demand your full civil rights of a vote, family unification, free access to anywhere to live in Israel and an end to race based discrimination. The bantu state of Palestine serves only Israeli interests.

  • The seven people who need to STFU about Iraq right now
    • "In direct refutation of this [Glen's] portrayal," Powell concluded, "is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent."
      Major Colin Powell, Vietnam 1968, in response to allegations of a massacre in My Lai by the Americl Division.
      How can you put a blot on a record like that?

  • Egypt, Syria, Libya . . . . What is the Appeal of Phoney Elections in the Middle East?
    • Being unable to create a parliamentary majority as in Iraq is certainly a problem but it is a little hard to blame it on the election. The result presumably mirrors deep divisions in the country and an electoral system which creates a majority government from one minority would not be an improvement.

      A vote of no-confidence, followed by fresh elections - repeated if necessary - may be the only way forward if voters tire of obstruction and intransigence from a party. With the biggest party only getting 25% of the vote, surely many different coalitions are possible.

  • Georgia Courthouse is shot up by Sovereign Citizen after GOP backs Bundy, Open Carry
    • I think the argument the US has so many of these incidents due to lax gun control is only partly true. Many other nations also have high gun ownership, although very few would have as many handguns or assault rifles.
      Something in the way Americans relate to and treat each other seems also to blame. In reading blog comments all over the web elements of mean-spiritness, assertions of unbridled rights, violent threats, and contempt for others appear disproportionally from those in the US - and not only from the right.

  • The NSA Effect: China tells its banks to remove IBM servers as Spyware
    • A little hard to take it seriously though. Software is a bigger spyware risk than hardware and Windows is still widely used in China. Back in 1999, Red Flag Linux was touted by the Chinese Government as their replacement for foreign controlled operating systems. Red Flag was wound up early this year with unpaid wages although a usable alternative could easily have been built giving the state of Linux and Chinese resources.

  • Second Libyan Upheaval, this Time Against Political Islam, Extremist Militias
    • NATO mainly bombed some regime arms depots and a few armored convoys.

      NATO launched over 26 000 sorties. Not every aircraft flight was a bombing mission but multiple targets can be hit by a single mission. That figure doeds not include drone strikes or ship launched missiles. They must be a remarkably inefficient military force if all that was required for arms depots and a few convoys.

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