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Total number of comments: 80 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:29)


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  • Yes, America, there is a Class War, and you Just Lost It
    • Shouldn’t the Dems have used the past couple of months to explain and promote the tax policy that they would enact if they were in power?

  • Mideast's 'Only Democracy' joins push to Silence Al Jazeera: Netanyahu
    • The Trump administration intervened on the side of those who opposed the installation of metal detectors at the Al Aqsa Mosque.

      It’s hard to imagine that Netanyahu would have acquiesced so meekly if it had been the Obama administration.

  • With CNN Reporter Attack Video, Trump apes Seedy Dictators
    • Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert was unperturbed by the video portraying Trump’s physical attack on a person representing CNN: ‘No one would perceive that as a threat.’

      Would Bossert have been as untroubled if the victim in the video had been depicted wearing the uniform of a soldier or a policeman?

  • Trump accuses Syria of Planning Gas attack as Haley attacks Russia, Iran
    • The provenance of the warning about an imminent Syria gas attack is obviously shady. Supposedly it came from within the White House. That suggests neo-fascist Sebastian Gorka, perhaps aided by crackpot neocon ideologue Ezra Cohen-Watnick.

      (Remember when Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith were ‘stovepiping’ bogus WMD tales to justify the invasion of Iraq?)

  • Erdogan & Trump: Can the Confict over Syria be Resolved?
  • Russia's not Leaving: Syria is about old-Fashioned Sphere of Influence, not Oil
    • USA critics of Syrian prez Assad should be required to preface their condemnations with: ‘I recognize that we recently elected a sadistic buffoon as our president, but …’

  • The Mosul Campaign and the 3rd Presidential Debate
    • I think that Trump is the significantly greater evil, but I also believe that Clinton is a dangerous war hawk.

      As far as I can tell many Russians actually would prefer Trump to HRC, and not because they can’t see that Trump is a lying con man.

      It’s not that they believe Trump; it’s that they believe HRC. She has compared Putin to Hitler, and said that we must be tougher** on Russia, and impose more costs on them. Tougher how? The Russians have made it clear that they can be expected to use nuclear weapons if they are attacked by US/NATO.

      The Russians aren’t fools. If President Trump is a fascist, racist, sexist, etc., that will be our problem. If President Clinton starts a nuclear war, then it will be their problem.

      (**I doubt that President Obama would admit to being weak with Russia. He sponsored sanctions against Russia, promoted an anti-Russian coup in the Ukraine, and supports Wahhabi rebels against Russian ally Assad in Syria. The results so far include Russia re-gaining Crimea, and acquiring permanent air and naval bases in Syria.)

  • De Mistura: al-Qaeda must leave E. Aleppo to save it from Destruction
    • My understanding is that the US is already bombing and shelling Mosul (>1M pop).

      Will the tactics being planned to retake Mosul be significantly different from the ones now being condemned in East Aleppo?

  • Syria, Russia push to take East Aleppo pocket as airstrikes kill 66, wound 200
    • One can make numerous criticisms of the conduct of the Syrian government before and during this civil war.

      But there is very little western criticism of the ‘rebels’, who are substantially sponsored by foreigners, and many of whom are not Syrian.

      At this point, after five years of war, it would be reasonable to urge the rebels to accept defeat, stop the killing, and end their brutal proselytizing.

      But the guilty secret and unspoken assumption among opposition supporters is that the critical mass of the rebels are barbarians who are impervious to reason and who see themselves on a mission from God.

      War is always horrible. But if a war can ever be justified, it is a war against takfiris, salafis, Wahhabis, al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or whatever they currently call themselves.

  • Syria: Can Russia & US Broker a new Cease-Fire?
    • I gotta think that an outright win by the Russians and al-Assad is far preferable to any empowerment of ‘the rural Sunni Arab fundamentalists’, whether they are currently known as takfiris, salafis, jihadis, FSA, al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or whatever their most recent re-branding.

      The best contribution that the US could make to the situation is to insist that its kissing cousins in the Saudi monarchy stop exporting and subsidizing violent religious proselytization.

  • As Putin Slams NATO, Russia loses Patience with US-Backed Rebels in Syria
    • The cry is ‘Assad must go’, but even if he did go, would the US, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia accept ANY Syrian government that is allied with Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah?

  • As Syrian Army advances East of Aleppo, ISIL strikes back with Bombings that kill 140
    • We see regular reports that bad behavior by Shia politicians and militia is alienating the Sunnis in Iraq and Syria. But haven’t the great majority of terror bombings of civilians been committed against Shia?

  • Despite Syria Cease Fire, Belligerents Plot military Victory
    • Most of the rebel groups in east Aleppo are relatively moderate

      Do they support religious and gender equality? Can women walk unveiled in East Aleppo?

  • Clinton and Sanders on Mideast War and Kissinger's Legacy (PBS Debate)
    • Obama/Clinton’s bragging about catching Osama Bin Laden is laughable. It’s like a NYC mayor taking credit for a drug bust in the Bronx.

      It’s hard to know what actually happened, but accepting the official version, the work done and the risk taken was by intelligence professionals and Navy Seals.

      The notion that Obama was courageous to give the go-ahead is preposterous.

      When in recent years has a US president fretted about prior consent for, or ‘collateral damage’ from, a military op in a Muslim country?

  • Israel frets about "Iran as Neighbor" if Aleppo falls & al-Assad Regime Wins
    • Iran might have a permanent military presence in Syria, putting it on the Israeli border

      Israel’s borders are its primary problem with Iran and its other neighbors.

      Israel refuses to obey international law as expressed in UN resolution 242, and to accept world opinion that it must return to its 1967 borders.

  • Dragon & Phoenix: Khamenei Lauds New Sino-Iranian 'Strategic Partnership'
    • I don’t think history will be kind to the 2001 – 2016 Bush 2/Obama era.

      Arrogant, militarized xenophobia squandered our ‘soft’ power and fostered a formidable counter-bloc made up of Russia-China-Iran.

  • Top 7 Middle East Foreign Policy Challenges in 2016
    • ‘6 … the US government [isn’t] very good about getting its message out.’

      That’s because the message is: ‘We’re here to exploit your mineral resources and/or cheap labor and/or the geo-strategic location of your country’.

      The notion that Uncle Sam is on a well-meaning mission to spread democracy is a self-serving neocon myth. Why hasn’t the US insisted on elected governments in the Gulf petro-monarchies?

      (But I don’t mean to quibble. Thank you for your brilliant work, Professor Cole, and Happy New Year!)

  • Why did Turkey dare shoot down a Russian Plane? The Proxy War in Syria
    • ‘It’s all a dirty business, and the only honest major player is Putin.’

      We won the Cold War and re-made Russia in our image: a competitor in a global struggle for territory, resources, markets, and cheap labor.

      So it makes sense for Americans to view Russia as an enemy.

      But it’s irrational for us to say that Russia, personified in Putin, is evil.

  • "For Paris" on Russian Missiles hitting Syria as ISIL Oil Facilities Targeted
    • I don’t believe the claims of ‘pinpoint’, ‘surgical’ strikes either, but I think that Russia is actually trying to defeat ISIS et al.

      Uncle Sam on the other hand is obviously ambivalent about al Qaeda-type groups which it has used as foot soldiers for regime change in places like Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

      Russia, having large a Muslim population and being a target of neocon destabilization, has no such ambivalence.

  • If Trump can track Muslims, close Mosques, what can he do to You?
    • Before we allow Trump, Petraeus, Cheney, at al. to grant themselves more secret powers and secret funds, and to shred our remaining civil liberties, we should keep in mind that the human guided missile, aka suicide bomber, has proved to be a virtually unstoppable weapon in the asymmetrical warfare of the so-called ‘war on terror’.

      Notwithstanding all the woofing, the most tangible result of the GWOT has been the self-aggrandizement of the security/police/military sector.

  • Is Daesh/ ISIL a modern Raiding Pirate state?
  • Iran's Attendance at Syria talks in Vienna marks its Emergence as Regional Power
    • Further on war crimes: Obama sold the US public on ‘hope and change’, and thereby inherited nominal responsibility for his country’s deep state and its ‘wet’ operatives; the accidental death of an older brother made ophthalmologist Assad the successor to his father’s murderous apparatus.

      Both cases may be interpreted as acquiescence rather than direction and control.

      The victors will write the histories and initiate the prosecutions.

    • Not to excuse Assad for the barrel bombs, but do actions such as the MSF hospital bombing make Commander-in-Chief Obama a war criminal?

      It seems that 'command responsibility' under the Geneva Conventions could (or could not) be interpreted to create culpability.

  • Senior National Security Advisers urge Obama to put Spec Ops Troops close to ISIL Front
    • We’ve seen the maps of Syria with large areas occupied by ISIS. If the US can defeat/dislodge them, what then?

      The Petraeus-McCain-Condi Rice ‘clear, hold, & build’ strategy that worked so well in Iraq? and after that, what then?

  • Al-Qaeda in Syria Leader: Kill Alawite Minority, Russians; Christians fear West Backs Him
    • Al Qaeda, ISIS, the petro-monarchies, and CIA/DoD are not fighting in Syria because of their commitment to ‘peaceful protest movements’. And their involvement makes it a stretch to characterize the conflict as a civil war.

  • Does Obama have a Syria Strategy? Putin Does.
    • ‘the most effective fighters have been the extremists’

      Fighting is an inherently extreme process. That’s why the neocons and their R2P cousins are so irresponsible in their readiness to endorse the use of force.

      We should insist on dialogue, negotiation, consensus, compromise, voting, mediation, and binding arbitration as the means to resolve disputes.

  • Deal with Saudis? Why does the US care if Russia bombs al-Qaeda and its Allies in Syria?
    • Uncle Sam is obviously ambivalent about al Qaeda-type groups.

      On one hand they were/are used as a tool against enemies such as the USSR, Russia, and China. And blowback like the 9/11 attack provided the occasion for the neocons to gain a stranglehold over the ‘Homeland’ by giving themselves secret powers, secret budgets, secret prisons, and total surveillance. On the other hand, they can’t admit that they employ terrorists, because ‘that’s not who we are’.

      Russia and China, having large Muslim populations and being targets of neocon destabilization, have no such ambivalence.

  • The Final Collapse of Bush's Nation-Building: Kunduz falls to Taliban
    • The ‘winning hearts-and-minds’ component of counter-insurgency/nation building requires a ‘good guys vs bad guys’ dynamic that is usually not available to the US military.

      Terrorist religious extremists are good candidates for the bad guy role, but given that US soldiers, notwithstanding their good intentions, tend to be armed ambassadors for a foreign policy which is in the interests of the global 1%, it’s highly unlikely that the locals will perceive them as good guys.

  • Why Obama and Putin are Both Wrong on Syria
    • One possible outcome is that Syria is partitioned, the Assad regime withdraws to an Alawite enclave on the coast around Latakia, and Russia keeps its naval base at Tartus.

  • Germany seeks Talks with Russia over Syria as Putin conducts Naval Maneuvers off Tartous
    • ‘Russia is doubling down on a military strategy to win in Syria, which cannot possibly succeed’

      Russia’s increased aid to its Syrian ally is clearly a response to the fact that ‘the Obama administration is not serious about ending the Syrian fighting.’

      Obama’s foot soldiers are murderous, crackpot, Stone-Age takfiris. Can one seriously argue that Putin and/or Assad are the greater evil?

  • Daesh/ ISIL takes 250 Captive, including 60 Christians in Syria
    • If you listen to Schumer, Huckabee, et al, Iran is the primary sponsor of Mid East violence.

  • Turkish Tanks Shell Syrian Kurds who expelled ISIL from Zur Maghar
    • I respectfully disagree.

      Uncle Sam’s war against Qaeda/Nusra/ISIL is, like Turkey’s, illusory. The US has been using Sunni militants as foot soldiers since Afghanistan; Ambassador Stevens was routing takfiris and weapons from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels via Turkey.

      The US has sided with the Saudi royals and outlaw Israel in deeming Iran-Hezbollah-Houthis as the Mid East’s major evil-doers.

    • ‘Analysts are questioning whether Turkey can pull off a two-front war’

      The US and its allies are waging war on many fronts – Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Yemen.

      They seem to view ISIL less as an enemy than as a useful source of anti-Shia foot soldiers.

  • Obama in Kenya: Why the Horn of Africa Matters to Geopolitics
    • ‘Africa is also increasingly an arena of competition between the United States and China.’

      In an era of diminishing resources and multiplying weaponry, competition (as opposed to cooperation) is an increasingly demented formula for human interaction.

  • Obama: No more US troops to fight Daesh/ ISIL, but more Training
    • ‘training of Iraqi troops has been going much slower than originally envisaged’ … 'training of “moderate” rebels in Syria to take on Daesh has not gotten off the ground as quickly as he expected.’

      It’s past time to get rid of the people who have been doing the unreliable training, envisaging, and expecting.

  • Our reply to Dylann Roof's Hate: Donate to "Mother Emanuel" AME Church
    • Donation made.

      Excellent suggestion, Prof. Cole. Thank you.

      Fox News et al were delighted to talk about race in the trivial context of the fuss about Ms. Dolezal, but damned if they can see race as a factor in the Charleston massacre.

  • Can Leftist Kurdish Militia cut ISIL/ Daesh off from Turkish Supply Routes and Kill the Caliphate?
    • I agree with your perspective. I believe that there should be an international ‘full court press’ against ISIS, and Boko Haram, and the drug cartels in Mexico; but it should be led by the UN, not by the USA. Uncle Sam has demonstrated its lack of bona fides to be the world’s sheriff.

    • Stephen Walt:
      'People keeping telling US to stop ISIS, Russia, Taliban, Al Qaeda, PRC, Iran, etc, etc., w/o saying which is biggest or most urgent problem.'

      I'd say the most urgent problem is ISIS.

  • US Air Force Absent as Daesh/ ISIL advances on North Aleppo against Sunni Rebels
    • 'the US-backed moderate force'

      Moderate? What's their position on the status of women?

  • Giuliani & Obama: Immigrant Families and Really Loving America
    • ‘Love for America’ is a pretty vague concept.

      Should we assume that anyone who loves America loves torture, total surveillance, mass incarceration, inequality, indebtedness, gun violence, gangs, drug use, pornography, obesity, sports mania, gambling, celebrity obsession, consumerism, and environmental profligacy?

      Do lovers of America’s history love conquest, genocide, ethnic cleansing, slavery, and segregation?

      Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

  • Avenging its Christians, Egypt Bombs Libya in first formal Campaign since 1991
    • ‘Italy … appears to be seeking partners for some sort of intervention in Libya’

      Shouldn’t Daesh be the target of a full court press by the UN?

      Is the problem that the UN couldn’t agree on how to handle Daesh in Syria? Or that Russia/China feel burned by the 2011 Libya no-fly zone resolution? Or what?

  • President Obama's Biggest Mideast Policy Challenges, 2015
    • ‘If Obama is not careful, he will end up helping al-Assad reestablish a fragile control over most of the country. This outcome would be horrible, since al-Assad is a war criminal.’

      Right, but first of all let’s not forget that Obama, Bush, Cheney, Netanyahu, et al. are also war criminals.

      And secondly, a foreign policy, particularly a militarized foreign policy, requires prioritizing. I suggest that we re-sort the jumble of our Middle East enemies/allies by using the yardstick of respect for the status of women.

      It’s widely agreed that Daesh is currently the most viciously criminal actor in the region, if not in the world. So let’s move Daesh to the top of our enemies list ahead of Assad, and subject Saudi Arabia to the type of sanctions that we apply to Russia, Cuba, and Iran.

      After Daesh is defeated, we can add other yardsticks in implementing our foreign policy, such as democratic practices and standard of living.

  • Artificial Billionaires: Regimes' Crony Capitalism Stifling Middle East
    • “unleash private sector job creation.”

      The private sector will create jobs (most at low wages) only in activities that can be conducted at a profit, which excludes, among other things, providing for the billion+ who lack safe drinking water, finding a vaccine for ebola, and providing adequate care for our young, sick, and elderly.

      The World Bank represents the interests of the 1 per centers; it is an obstacle to constructing a robust public sector with sufficient authority and resources, which is necessary to provide an optimum standard of living to the world’s inhabitants

  • US strikes ISIL oil fields in Quest to Defund it: But will it Replace oil with Fracking?
    • The one-per-centers profess to be very upset about passing debt on to our grand-kids, but they don’t seem to have a plan to save any oil or gas for them.

  • Obama & Cameron find little Enthusiasm at NATO for new Iraq War
    • you need effective troops on the ground. Where will Mr. Obama find them?

      In 1948 George Kennan infamously observed that because the USA intended to continue controlling 50% of the world's wealth despite having only 6% of the world's population, it must “dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.”

      The Vietnam-era military draft produced a domestic political crisis, so where indeed can the 1% find foot soldiers to implement its elite projects?

      I think this explains why they used religious extremists to destabilize Afghanistan and Syria, and Pravy Sektor/Svoboda fascists as shock troops for the coup in Kiev.

  • Obama's budding Cambodia Policy in Syria
    • To me, a theocratic tyranny is significantly more evil than a secular tyranny. So I can see allying with Assad to try to defeat IS.

      But then what?

      One of the world’s biggest problems is that its most powerful and influential nation, the USA, does not insist that democracy should be a global norm.

      Instead of endorsing the further militarization of human relations, we should promote universal norms for governance, non-violent dispute resolution, human rights, and standards of living.

      One of our main priorities should be the democratization of the UN.

  • How will Obama and the US respond to IS's murder of James Foley ?
    • ‘How will Obama and the US respond to IS’s murder of James Foley?’

      Obama responded by debating theology with IS (‘No just God would stand for what they did’), followed by threats of bloody revenge.

      It would be useful if we could condemn people like IS and bin Laden as immoral monsters with a preposterous worldview. But magical thinkers such as Obama foreclose the option of appealing to reason. American orthodoxy dictates that the primary source of ethical rules for human beings is an invisible supernatural being, the vengeful god whose rules are codified in the blood-drenched pages of the Torah/Bible.

      Once we open the door to irrationality, it’s problematic to complain about who walks through, and we surrender a crucial tool - logic - for objecting to the behavior of these violent wackos.

      Religion should be treated like alcohol, gambling, and fatty foods – permitted but not encouraged.

  • Dear GOP: The US has negotiated with Terrorists and Amnestied Them all through History
    • There is a legitimate concern about the future actions of the released Taliban prisoners, but one has to look at a conflict from both sides: should Sgt. Bergdahl have been required to pledge to abstain from future hostile acts against the Taliban as a condition of his release?

  • US Hypocrisy on Crimean secession move: Washington Supported Break-up of Sudan, Yugoslavia, Iraq
    • Perhaps, as a gesture of good faith to promote a peaceful resolution, the US will give up its base at Guantanamo to encourage Russia to let go of its base at Sevastopol.

  • The Crimean Crisis and the Middle East: Will Syria & Iran be the Winners?
  • UN Report Conclusive Sarin used on wide Scale, Points to Syrian Regime
    • Chemical warfare is despicable, but what about white phosphorous and depleted uranium?

      Secretaries Hagel and Kerry are uniquely positioned to identify and denounce those who deployed Agent Orange and napalm in the Vietnam conflict. Will they do so?

  • Why Obama doesn't want to intervene in Syria
    • Uncle Sam will be looking to install a Chalabi-type caretaker to look after the interests of the petro/security profiteers. If the locals successfully resist such an arrangement, Washington knows that there is always plenty of money to be made in dealing with a ‘failed state’.

      I think that the priority in external support for any party in Syria should be the stipulation of a solid arrangement to protect minorities, particularly Alawites. The best resolution for the moment might be a Lebanon-style confessional accord, brokered by … Egypt? Brazil?

  • Top 7 Ways Bin Laden Underestimated Joe Biden
    • ‘In the video, al-Zawahiri ... speaks in Arabic of "abid al-bayt," "the house slave," and does not use the word "Negro" (which the al-Sahab translators are rendering "zinji.") The connotations and implications are much the same, but it is not exact to say that al-Zawahiri used the phrase "house Negro" himself.’
      link to

  • Libya Seeking Qaddafi Assets Abroad: Mathiason & Serle
    • Gaddafi Jr. acquired the mansion 'just six months before the start of the Arab spring'

      That would have been while McCain, Sarko, Berlusconi, Cameron, Goldman Sachs, and the IMF were all still doing business with Gaddafi Sr., and shortly before the IMF wrote this:

      'An IMF mission visited Libya during October 17–28, 2010 ... The mission would like to thank the authorities for their excellent cooperation and hospitality.
      '... The macroeconomic environment is strong, underpinned by large fiscal and ex-ternal positions and continued efforts to modernize and diversify the economy.'
      link to

  • Army vs. People in Egypt
    • In 1948 George Kennan described the project for which NATO has been 'maintaining security for more than 60 years':

      “[W]e have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3 % of its population. ... Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming ... We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.”

    • Hi, Bill.

      I get that you think I'm a fool.

      I realize that NATO is in the business of 'security'. What do you think of NATO's bona fides?

    • With respect Professor Cole, I understand about non sequiturs, but this is not just about logic, it’s also about track record, as in ‘does a leopard change its spots?'**

      I was using ‘ NATO’ as a metaphor for the Western establishment, which I think you understood because you refer to Panetta, who is not a NATO official.

      If Panetta had really ‘pressed’ the Egyptian military to drop the emergency laws they would have done so, no?

      NATO is the military arm of the 1%, right?

      (** For example, if you find yourself on the same side of an issue as former VP Richard Cheney, you should immediately re-evaluate your position.)

    • Does NATO's support for for Mubarak and his military successors provide a basis to evaluate NATO's bona fides in Libya?

  • Top Ten Myths about Bin Laden's Death
    • Bin Laden was once a US asset. Virtually all we know about him since then has come to us via western intelligence and the corporate media.

      He was the face of the ‘clash of civilizations’, which replaced communism and narco-terrorism as the excuse for the security state to give itself unlimited powers and an unlimited budget.

      The security apparatchiks decreed that it would be too inconvenient for him to be taken alive. So in the blink of an eye his voice is silent and his physical remains disappeared. Their account of what happened in Abbottabad has already changed in the first 24 hours.

      The US establishment – Wall Street, the Pentagon, Big Oil, etc., - and its representatives – Bush, Obama, whomever - have such a poor record for truthfulness that it would be naïve to accept their account of this or any other event without verification.

  • Birth Certificate just Jim Crow all Over Again
    • The important question isn’t whether the Birthers are motivated mainly by racism, xenophobia, and reactionary ideology (they are); it’s whether we should trust any public official about anything (we shouldn’t).

      Our political system is so dominated by dirty money that we’d be fools not to insist on verification for everything a politician says.

      Next up: let’s see DNA tests to establish the parentage of the youngest Palin child.

      (Unless a candidate runs on the free-love ticket, I want to know about his/her private life.)

  • Obama on Libya vs. Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich and Carrot Top
    • Pope Calls for Libyan Cease-Fire: “I make a heartfelt appeal to international organizations and to political and military leaders for the immediate launch of a dialogue that will halt the use of arms,” the pope said. (beliefnet 3/28/11)

      Can we we assume that President Obama will be keeping all options on the table to crush further opposition from the Bolshevik in the Vatican?

  • Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003
    • Doesn’t history tell us that an intervention led by the US, UK, France, and Saudi Arabia will serve the interests of the predatory international establishment, not the Libyan people?

  • Japan Nuclear Threat, Libya Oil Crisis, Highlight Need for Renewable Energy
    • I advocate shrinking the population by planning and policy, e.g., by providing financial incentives NOT to have children. The idea is to limit new births, not to kill people who are already alive, and certainly not to 'worship' their death.

    • Double amen. Since 1957, the federal Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act has indemnified the nuclear industry against liability claims.

      Why should private owners have the benefit of the profits, if losses will be borne by the public?

      Why do supposedly plucky, rugged individualist entrepreneurs get a 'nanny-state' security blanket?

    • Green technology is obviously the way to supply energy. An additional approach is to reduce demand by shrinking our population.

  • King's Nixonian Hearings against American Muslims
    • Like most wars, Ireland’s 'Troubles' has been a dirty war. Terrorism and atrocities have been committed by the Brits and their Loyalists, not only by the IRA.

      But not to nitpick. Rep. King is certainly pond scum, and Nixon is a good comparison.

  • Egypt's Class Conflict
    • Socialism does not mean the absence of incentive.

      The ‘commanding heights’ of the economy should be democratically controlled; otherwise private enterprise is to be encouraged.

      In the public sector, extra compensation can be provided for those who work longer or better; for those whose work is dangerous, arduous, or mucky; and for those whose occupation requires extensive advance study.

      A good start for us would be to agree on a working definition of greed, and that greed should be illegal.

    • Stay the course?

      So Egypt should continue to rely on trickle-down to provide income, goods, and services to its population?

      Should it make its economy even friendlier to investors and ‘international finance’ by lowering wages, abolishing subsidies and regulations, and eliminating unions?

      What economic policy do you recommend?

    • Most of Egypt’s people are economically desperate, and although there are increasing calls for political reform, changes in economic policy have typically not been among the prescribed remedies.

      The Reagan-Thatcher triumph of privatization and deregulation has produced an ideological dead end for the majority of the world’s people, virtually all of whom live in capitalist countries.

      We need to distinguish what is desirable about socialism – democratic control of essential economic activities and resources, from what was bad about “actually existing socialism” – personality cults, one-party states, and denial of civil liberties.

  • The US Corruption Game - Cole in Tomdispatch
    • “paranoia about Muslim fundamentalist movements and terrorism is causing Washington to make bad choices”
      (from Professor Cole’s Counterpunch article)

      Let’s not forget that Uncle Sam greatly prefers fundies to secularists, nationalists, or God forbid, socialists.

      “Dude, where’s my country?” was the cry of Arafat and the Mid East nationalists. The US and Israel contrived to replace them with Islamic fundamentalists who now ask, “Dude, where’s my kingdom of God on earth?”

      This passes for progress in our faith-based era.

  • Tunisia between Democracy and Anarchy
    • The simplest definition of a revolution is the overthrow of a government by those who are governed.

      But that doesn't mean much at the grassroots unless the overthrow is accompanied by a significant change in policy. (You won’t change the flavor if you don’t change the recipe.)

      Judging by last year’s events in Honduras, the Obama administration will seek to maintain the hegemony of the Tunisian oligarchy.

  • Women enlist as Fighters in Gaza
    • Virtually every national or ethnic group has been guilty of terrorism. Hiroshima and the slaughter of the Egyptian babies come to mind.

      - Terrorism is certainly not wrong if it is commanded by God.

      - For the reality-based, terrorism is wrong only if wrong is wrong. That is, only if all of us have a duty to be ethical in all of our conduct, not selectively, not self-interest masquerading as morality.

      - For the ethical, terrorism is only one of many wrongs. Cruelty, greed, hatred, exploitation, discrimination, and theft are some others.

      - It is understandable that non-state terrorism has become the obsession of the ‘haves’. It’s one of the few wrongs that afflicts them. The ‘haves’ tend to benefit from the other wrongs.

      - It’s also understandable that some ‘have-nots’ will prioritize wrongs differently than the ‘haves’.

  • The Karzai Problem in Afghanistan: Wikileaks
    • China may be “finessed” out of Gwadar in the sense that Prof. Cole wrote recently (Tomgram, November 11: ‘The Asian Century?’) -- “the U.S. could find itself in danger of being reduced to the role of impoverished foot soldier fighting for others’ interests.”

      An army marches on its stomach, and a military machine is fueled by finance. Balochistan could ultimately be split off from Pakistan, but the Beltway bandits can’t really think that China will finance a project by an insolvent Uncle Sam to exclude the Middle Kingdom from access to the oil & gas patch.

      Creditors obviously have an interest in being flexible with debtors, but debtors don’t have equal status with creditors. Margin calls, liquidations, evictions, foreclosures, repossessions, and creditor's sales occur all the time.

      (I mistakenly wrote that Gwadar is on the SE coast of Pakistan. It is on the southwest coast, near Iran.)

    • Gwadar’s deep water port is a turnkey project which the government of China recently built on the SE coast of Pakistan. China envisions it as a pipeline terminus to bring oil and gas north through Balochistan and Qandahar.

      It is understandable, given our competitive ideology, that we would think consider thwarting China’s plans. But given the geography, history, and logistics of the situation, and that China is one of our main creditors, it’s astounding that we think we can succeed.

    • Some say that the world powers are interested in Afghanistan not because of terrorism, democracy, or the status of women, but with an eye to access to oil & gas, i.e. pipeline-routes -- from Russia, Central Asia, and Iran, to Pakistan, India, and China.

      The Clinton and Bush II administrations were conducting pipeline negotiations with the Taliban, until 9/11 interrupted their discussions.

  • Blair, Hitchens Debate Religion
    • The main problem with religion is that its account of reality is unfounded and preposterous.

      There are countless religions. Each of them has a different version of the makeup of the same universe, so only one of them could be correct. Far more likely, they are all erroneous, because each purports to speak authoritatively about a period of time and an alleged realm of being for which they can present no evidence.

      Thought control is odious, so we should fight for freedom of religion, but it should be exercised in private, not in the public sphere. I have the right to believe that 2 + 2 = 5, but I don’t have the right to be chair of the math department.

      The world is faced with critical problems which require rational solutions. People who insist on indulging in magical thinking should agree to sit at the children’s table when the adults are discussing public policy.

  • The Rumors of Multiculturalism's death Are Exaggerated (Against Merkel)
    • It will be disastrous if Europe, Japan, and the US reject immigration and instead attempt to increase their birth rates. A 1999 Cornell University study found that the optimal population of the earth would be about 2 billion:

      ‘Democratically determined population-control practices and sound resource-management policies could have the planet's 2 billion people thriving in harmony with the environment. Lacking these approaches … 12 billon miserable humans will suffer a difficult life on Earth by the year 2100.’ link to

  • Redd: What About Jerusalem?
    • Amen! The ethnic-based nation state that we've inherited is a knuckleheaded basis for social and political organization. Obviously there’s a need for multi-jurisdictional compromise a la Bosnia and Herzegovina.

      If Jews should have a nation state, why shouldn’t Palestinians and all other ethnic or religious group? Should Palestinians join the other uncompensated dispossessions and genocides -- Armenian, Kurd, Aztec, Herero, and countless others? Should those other groups just get over it?

      Twentieth Century European Jews are arguably history’s most tragic victims, but today Israel ranks among the worst of the world’s bad guys. Nice going! Morality aside, it’s a public relations and long-term strategic blunder.

  • Turkey's Constitutional Referendum Extends Range of Liberties
    • Touche', Mr. Shahid.

      I believe that religion is one of the tools used to conceal the role of money in politics, and to insure that the US is more an oligarchy than a democracy.

    • It's not self-evident that excluding believers from important government positions will discourage democracy. Believers are typically anti-democratic. Their magical thinking causes them to believe that human activity is subject to God’s will, as interpreted by “his” invariably male representatives on earth. Believers can thus win an election and thereafter rule via clerical edicts, as in Iran.

      Believers should be allowed to vote, but religion should be treated like alcohol, gambling, and fatty foods – permitted but frowned on. The government should run ads discouraging religion similar to those discouraging smoking.

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