Member Profile

Total number of comments: 142 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:44)

William H. Barkell

Showing comments 142 - 101

  • Questions about Judgment: Trump appointed Flynn in the First Place
    • There is no doubt that Russia hacked the DNC during the election period. Our intelligence agencies are very good at detecting the source of hacking. You seem to be as bad as Trump in trying to protect Putin and the Russians.

  • How US Grand Strategy in Syria led to the idea of Missile Strikes
    • "Through this tyrannical dispensation – created at a time when other nations were either broken or voiceless – the great warmongers of the past 60 years remain responsible for global peace."

      The "great warmongers of the past 60 years"? "Created at a time when other nations were either broken or voiceless"?

      Well now, the current Perm Five in the UNSC were in fact the liberators of those countries suffering under the Fascist tyranny of the 1930s and 1940s. Other nations were either "broken" or rendered "voiceless" because they had been made so by the aggression, vicious occupation, and tyranny of Nazi Germany and its allies, and Japan. It was the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Soviet Union, and China, who fought against and eventually prevailed against such tyranny. And although some may not appreciate the sacrifices made in this effort, there are those who do.

      To suggest that the Perm Five in the UNSC are "war mongers" is to completely ignore history. It is, in fact, a totally ahistorical argument that hardly deserves a response. Nevertheless, one who has written in a comment above that, "Despite our Founding Fathers being mostly racists, slave owners, and elitists, these little children advance into sixth grade and beyond into adulthood with the concept, despite all the wars and misery they create, our leaders are really good people at heart and whatever America does is okay," can hardly be expected to appreciate the sacrifices made by the allies in World War II.

      In short, this is the absolutists' argument that the United States and its allies have never done anything worthy of respect and praise.

  • Top Ten Ways President Obama has Expanded our Rights, in Rev. King's Footsteps
    • "Forget about passing a budget until I get my public option on healthcare."

      The problem with your above-cited statement is that the Democrats have not even submitted a budget the last four years. If your target was supposed to be the Republicans, you are targeting the wrong group. It is the Democrats who should have presented a budget but have failed to do so.

  • Top Five Signs of Capitalist Dictatorship in the Romney Campaign
    • I believe the 16-year-old you are referring to was Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the son of the Unlawful Enemy Combatant, Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been killed in an earlier drone attack. The younger al-Awlaki was riding in the company of a known AQAP militant who was the target of the drone. al-Awlaki's son was not the target, but his was a collateral death due to his being in the company of the targeted AQAP militant. If you are going to keep that kind of company, you cannot complain if you are in the kill radius.

    • "How large a difference is there between an American (or president-directed robot) killing a dissident..."

      In the case of the drone campaign targeting individuals in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, we are not talking about "dissidents"; we are talking about Unlawful Enemy Compatants dedicated to harming the United States.

    • Do you subscribe to the theory of the "Big Lie," Mr. Larson? Do you believe that if a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes truth?

      President Obama is not ordering the remote-control "assassination of any individual, anywhere in the world." That is a lie that deserves being exposed as such. It cannot be stated often enough that the drone campaign is targeting enemies of the United States whose intent and operations are directed against the US.

      "Talk about dictatorship..." indeed! Talk about lies masquerading as hyperbole!

  • Bahrain King forbids Protest Rallies
    • The Thursday, November 1, edition of the Washington post has an article on Iran and Khamenei, a part of which I quote here, Infidel.

      "Iran's Supreme Leader (Khamenei) warned government officials and politicians Wednesday against turning their disputes into a public discussion, calling it "treason" against the state."

      Some bastion of democracy, eh?!

    • I'll try to pin it down even more accurately. Egypt, although on the African continent, is geo-politically considered to be part of the Middle East. If we consider Egypt (with its recent political/social upheaval) and Iraq (whose political/social order was upended) as part of the Middle East, I do not think one can use Bahrain and Kuwait as examples to conclude that there has been no substantial social change in the Middle East. Egypt's and Iraq's recent history far outweigh those two Gulf State's lack of social change.

      If we leave the Maghreb (North Africa from Libya West), Egypt, Iraq, and others out of the discussian, and consider only the Arabian Peninsula, the statement about no substantial social change is accurate. But I think one has to be very specific. It applies only to the geographic area known as the "Arabian Peninsula" or the "Gulf States."

    • "surely it would be like night and day with their current rulers, who are actually aliens put in power by the US"

      The current rulers of the Gulf states were hardly "put in power by the US." I suggest you read a little history of the region. You will find that the kings and emirs of the Gulf come from family dynasties that were in place long before the US took an interest in the region.

    • Note to my comment above: I realize that Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt lie geographically in North Africa, but I am assuming by "Middle East" you mean the Greater Middle East, including North Africa--the Arab World.

    • After the major political and social changes (for better or for worse, only time will tell) in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and, yes, Iraq, you are using the examples of two tiny Gulf Sheikhdoms (Bahrain and Kuwait) to suggest there has been no substantial social change in the Middle East?

  • Medley of Grey-Faced Republican Men on Duty of Raped Women to Bear the Child (Video)
    • The absolute and utter ignorance (not to mention danger) of those on the Fundamentalist Christian Right, particularly on religious and social issues, matches that of the Fundamentalist Islamic Right. They are today's version of Gog and Magog: The subjugation of women; the belief in when life does or doesn't begin, or when life is "breathed" into a fetus; the Earth 6,000 to 9,000 years old; the denial of Evolution and Natural Selection; the common belief that every word of the Bible or Qur'an is true; and the list goes on.

      Fundamentalist Christians and Fundamentalist Muslims should, together, be walled up behind impenetrable walls, as was Gog and Magog in the old 12th and 13th century legends, and kept there by a modern version of Prester John. Were there only a Prester John today to spare us the ignorance and venom spewing from these religious zealots.

  • Candidates flee East Coast as Frankenstorm takes Revenge for their Ignoring Climate Change
    • "Whether the vultures and predators and parasites go by one or another, the result is the same, the behaviors are essentially the same."

      Mr. McPhee, I detect in your statement, quoted above, that you agree with me that to single out capitalism as the sole villain, as the original author did, is plain wrong. You seem to suggest that the all do it and "the result is the same." I'm not sure the result is equally the same, but I do commend you for being broader-minded than the original author, who seemed to ignore other political/economic systems and just wanted to impugn capitalism.

    • "The capitalists were very smart to escalate their activities from country-raping to planet-raping..."

      Your statement cited above states that capitalists "escalated their activities from country-raping to planet-raping," but conveniently (by design?) completely ignores the rape of both countries and the environment by Communism. The Soviet Union certainly "country-raped" Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and East Germany after World War II by saddling them with totalitarian governments; and the environmental impact of communism is illustrated by Chernyoble, and the devastation visited upon Eastern Europe by shoddy, inefficient industrial processes. I suggest you read up a bit more on comparative political and economic systems.

  • Brandeis U. Owes Jimmy Carter an Apology: Israelis agree they run Apartheid State, as Far Right Wing Coalition Emerges
    • It should not be forgotten that during the 1956 joint British-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt, President Eisenhower put great pressure on Britain and France to withdraw, and he advocated economic sanctions against Israel if Israel refused to withdraw its forces from Egypt. The Democratic-controlled Senate rebuffed Eisenhower's call for sanctions against Israel. Eisenhower then advocated UN sanctions against Israel. In the end, the tripartite invaders withdrew, but Eisenhower deserves a great deal of credit for his stand.

  • The United Nations will Investigate Civilian Deaths in US Drone Strikes
    • You obviously do not understand that what is really "covert" about the drone program, Mr. McPhee, is the intelligence behind it. The targeting and operational methods leading to the kill. I understand, though, that to expect some to understand that concept is a bridge to far.

    • "The anti-U.S. commentary on this, including by Mr. Emmerson, assumes that the former is the case, even as he implicitly acknowledges that he does not have adequate information to make such a determination."

      Absolutely correct, Joe from Lowell. Mr. Emmerson (as well as others of his ideological ilk) is propelled by an agenda and an underlying preconceived opinion regarding the United States' counter-terrorism program. And the Narrative to which he ascribes will not allow for alternative possibilities. His quixotic attempt to get the U.S. to "hand over" the results of each "covert" drone attack is probably less quixotic than it looks; rather, it is his way of appearing to "take on" the U.S. and appeal to like-minded ideologues.

    • "Emmerson, who monitors counter-terrorism for the UN, previously called in August for the US to hand over video of each covert drone attack."

      The above-cited quote illustrates (with a clarity that nothing else could!), precisely why the UN will, and should, remain impotent in such an investigation. To suggest that "the US hand over video of each covert drone attack" is a (no doubt unintended) contradiction in terms. Note the operative term "covert." The meaning of "covert" must completely escape Mr. Emmerson's mental architecture if he expects the US to "hand over" video of such operations.

      John Stewart, Stephen Colbert, or Tina Fey (or all three) would have a field day with this.

  • Egypt President condemns Israeli Air Raids on Gaza
    • Perhaps Morsi is learning that to be a true leader takes leadership. It means shaping a population's perceptions and direction as well as following them. I wonder if he will be up to the task?

    • No, Rosemerry, I did not mean the IDF never acts first. That's not what I wrote. We are discussing a particular instance where Israel retaliated against a rocket and mortar barrage initiated by Hamas fighters. Let's stay on topic.

    • Morsi's condemnation of Israeli jet fighter attacks on Gaza would have been far more credible if he had condemned with equal force the more than 60 rockets and mortar shells that were fired into southern Israel from Gaza. An interesting thought experiment and question would be: If Israel had not retaliated at all, would Morsi then have condemned the rocket and mortar barrage? Or would he have remained silent?

  • US must Pressure Bahrain on Human Rights (Strindberg)
    • Sami Ahmed's suggestion of Kuwait is not ludicrous at all, Bruno. Despite Kuwait's opposition to the U.S. stance on Israel, Kuwait has been very accommodating to U.S. military forces on its territory. Don't forget, the Iraq War was lauched from Kuwait in 2003. The U.S. still maintains a sizeable force in Kuwait. Currently, there are about 15,000 U.S. forces in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Base and Camp Buehring. It is not too much of a stretch to imagine the Kuwaitis allowing a naval presence as well.

    • Haifa or Tel Aviv? Are you suggesting that we consider moving the Fifth Fleet to Haifa or Tel Aviv? May I remind you, Mr. McPhee (or enlighten you if this is first-time news for you), that we already have a naval presence in the Mediterranean? It is the Sixth Fleet, and it has been in the Med since 1950.

      The geopolitical reason we have the Fifth Fleet in Bahrain is to maintain a naval presence in the Gulf. Hard to do that if it is based in Haifa or Tel Aviv. (Geography has a way of upsetting such a vision.) Joe from Lowell's question about nominations for a new home base if it were moved from Bahrain is entirely valid. Bahrain is the ideal home base and has been for decades. The question remains: If we are to maintain a presence in the Gulf, where would the Fifth Fleet home base be if not Bahrain?

  • Walsh (Republican): No Pregnancy Ever threatens a Mother's Life (Young Turks Video)
    • Don't know what you're talking about, Mr. McPhee. If you were to parse the above comments, you might come to the correct conclusion that it was not me who posted the original comment: "It’s not lying. It’s part of the Republican party’s brand image." I'm the Bill (the "Mr. Bill" you're familiar with) who commented that it indeed is a lie. I also posted the comment about Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun (and his fellow troglodytes) who do not believe in evolution, but believe the Earth is 9,000 years old. Ignorance knows no bounds.

      I have no idea who the "Bill" is who posted the original comment stating: "Similarly, these fanciful stories about raped women never getting pregnant or never requiring abortions to save their lives are not lies," and claiming that it is just a "Republican brand," while equating it with SUV ads. I stated clearly that the idea was preposterous.

      In spite of our differences regarding the drone program and other issues, I suspect that you and I probably agree that the comments in the original "Bill's" post (whoever this "Bill" is), stating that the issue of women, rape, and abortion is "just" a "Republican brand," and not a lie, and equating it with SUV ads is absurd.

    • "but once we claim everything that makes us feel good is protected religious speech, then we simply reject science and Walsh’s words become as valid as the SUV ad."

      No one is claiming that everything that makes us feel good is protected religious speech. Nevertheless, if some creationist states that the Earth is 9,000 years old because he takes the Bible literally, I support and protect his right to say it, although I disagree with it. That I support and protect his right to say it, however, in no way implies that I "reject science," or that I think his words are as valid as an SUV ad. The creationist's history of the Earth is a fraud; the SUV ad is (at worst) misleading. Big difference.

    • Congressional Right-Wingers are clearly living in an alternative universe. Just last month Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun spoke before an audience and stated that evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang theory were lies spread by scientists out to erode people’s faith in Jesus Christ. He also claimed the Earth is roughly 9,000 years old.

      Apparently there is no depth in the well of ignorance at which these troglodytes are not willing to descend.

    • To state that "stories about raped women never getting pregnant or never requiring abortions to save lives are not lies," but instead are a form of "branded speech," is preposterous. They are clearly lies and can be proven as such with a mountain of medical evidence. This is far different from an ad depicting an SUV being driven off-road. There is no comparison between the two, and your attempt to conflate the two as both representing "branded speech" demonstrates an inability to distinguish between an outright falsehood and a misleading (at worst) ad campaign.

  • The US & Pakistan: The Mr & Mrs Smith of Foreign Policy (Hiro)
    • "Is distrust between Pakistan and India so deep that nuclear arms limitation talks cannot be envisioned? Or is it that its nuclear weapons are the only reason anyone cares about Pakistan, and they won’t give that up?"

      I think both of your questions encapsulate the reality of Pakistan. Pakistan's defense doctrine has always been directed at India as the enemy, and Pakistan's entire military establishment reflects that doctrine. At this point, neither Pakistan nor India would consider nuclear arms limitation talks. And Pakistan certainly would not consider reducing its nuclear arsenal.

      The reason the Pakistani military (including the ISI) is reluctant to take on the Taliban is because after the U.S. departs Afghanistan, the Pakistanis would like to see a Taliban-led government in Afghanistan that would ally itself with pakistan. Pakistan's greatest fear is to be caught in a pincer between India and an Afghanistan friendly to India. That will not change in the foreseeable future.

  • US Drone Strikes on Pakistan: Counting the Bodies (Ross)
    • "It would be a waste of time to suggest you read some stuff by somebody like Barbara Tuchman"

      Once again, Mr. McPhee, you demonstrate how ready you are to pronounce on subjects of which you have no knowledge. Take your comment cited above. I probably read Barbara Tuchman before you had even heard of her. Yes, I have read "The Guns of August," "The Proud Tower," "The March of folly," and a lot more as well. You, however, (if you have indeed read Tuchman at all, rather than just selectively take phrases out of context to put on your 3x5 cards) fail to understand that you cannot effectively invoke her writings to criticize anything you happen to disagree with. Ms. Tuchman would be the first to acknowledge that fact.

    • "i suppose these apologists have no clue as to what blowback is. so i won’t even go there. why waste my energy.
      just wait till they do come back with a response, like 9-11, for instance."

      Actually, Bernard, you are the one who: A. Confuses supporting the counter-terrorism program with being an apologist; B. Doesn't understand blowback; and C. confuses cause and effect regarding terrorism, counter-terrorism, and "blowback."

      Supporting the counter-terrorism program and the drone strikes is not being an "apologist," because no apology is necessary regarding a program of self-defense that is sanctioned by Article 51 of the UN Charter.

      You have the cause and effect of "blowback" exactly backwards. The "blowback" you refer to is actually what is being directed against the terrorist leaders and operatives being targeted by the drone program. It is the result of their attacks against the United States. They are the ones experiencing "blowback" as a result of their ongoing efforts to plan and execute attacks against the U.S.

      And their efforts did not start with 9/11. Let's roll the tape: The first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993; the discovery of the plot to blow up six airliners over the Pacific in 1996; the bombing of our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998; the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000; and, yes, the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001; not to mention all the plots uncovered sense then.

      Taking out Al-Qaeda leaders and operatives, and those of affiliated organizations has not only saved countless lives, it is the right thing to do.

    • No discussion necessary
      for those with closed minds,

      who are unable to differentiate
      between self-defense and war crimes,

      who continue to ignore the substance
      of Article 51 of the UN Charter,

      which grants the US the right of self-defense
      against the terrorist martyr,

      "But wait," cries the ideologue
      certain of his moral superiority,

      "surely we have no right
      to make self-defense a priority,"

      Al-Qaeda and the Taliban
      upon hearing the ideologue's cry,

      are moved to greater efforts
      to attack the US and its ally,

      until one fateful day plotting attacks
      against the UN Charter,

      a drone homed in and hit its mark
      one less terrorist martyr

  • Malala Yousufzai taken to UK for Treatment; and Pakistan's Education Shame
    • "The fact of Malala’s shooting is just another sad product of a failed U.S. foreign policy that had backed anyone that is anti-Iranian or anti-communist"

      No, it is not. Malala's shooting was the result of her courageous attempt to buck traditional discrimination against girls' education in an environment of Islamic fundamentalism. The Taliban, under any other name, would still represent the anteduluvian social polices of a fundamentalist Islam they represent today.

    • Hippies, Mr. McPhee? Hippies? Are you reading from your 3x5 cards again? Please read my post carefully. You will find nothing about hippies. What you will find is a comment about the Code Pink group's misplaced priorities when it comes to impediments to Pakistan's political, social, and economic development. (Hint: it is not about drones.)

      The drone program is targeting Al-Qaeda's leadership and operatives, as well as that of affiliated organizations, because they have targeted the U.S. It is not, as you put it, "OUR projection of arbitrary power elsewhere in the world."

      Clive Stafford Smith and the Code Pink group can lend themselves to Imran Khan's political theater if they wish. He is, after all, positioning himself to make a run for high office. But when it comes to protesting a policy that really does hold Pakistan hostage, such as the abysmal state of girls' illiteracy and lack of education, yes they indeed were missing in action.

    • Pakistan indeed has a history of bad governance, both the military and civilian varieties. But that does not explain why it took a 14-year old girl to openly protest against the pathetic state of girls' education while the majority of the population remained mute. It's great that thousands of Pakistanis have demonstrated against the shooting of Malala and the Pakistani Taliban, but where were those demonstrators when it counted? Why weren't they forcefully demonstrating against the Taliban and the lack of female education all along? My guess is that it has something to do with a vague fear of being labeled apostates by Islamic Fundamentalists, as well as not wanting to get involved by openly expressing an opinion.

      Nevertheless, where was Imran Khan and the Code Pink contingent when they could have been marching and protesting the abysmal state of girls' education in Pakistan? Where was Clive Stafford Smith when he could have been (to paraphrase) "provoking a discussion of the abysmal state of education for girls." They were Missing in Action when it really counted, before Malala was shot. No, it's much easier to march and protest against the drone program. Not much courage required when you are protesting against something the majority population agrees with. Having parachuted in, Mr. Smith and Code Pink can depart with their solipsistic sense of moral superiority, even while being unaware that they could have marched and protested against something that really holds Pakistan hostage: girls' illiteracy and lack of education. But, of course, that would have been a bridge too far.

  • Turkey Slams UN on Syria, Implies NATO should Act; Syria bans Turkish Airlines
    • "Odd, or ironic, how Syria’s tragedy may provoke a change in the rules at the UN Security Council, one that allows action in spite of a veto by one of the sacred cows…"

      Not likely, as none of the Perm 5 members would be willing to give up their veto power, and any change would require the full Perm 5's approval.

    • "The prime minister also called for the expansion of the UN Security Council (now comprised of the victors of WW II – the US, Russia, France, Britain, and China)"

      One clarification: The five victors of WW II are the permanent members of the UN Security Council, or Perm 5. The full UNSC consists of 15 members, the other 10 elected to two-year terms.

  • The Pentagon's Imperial Overstretch and Victory Culture (Engelhardt)
    • "Why hasn’t the U.S. targeted other “terrorist”
      groups like Hezbollah, the IRA, the P.L.O. or the Sendero Illuminoso with drone assassinations?"

      Because they are not planning and executing attacks against the United States.

    • "If the President’s extrajudicial killings by drones of people he doesn’t like were law enforcement activities, they would clearly be illegal. But he characterizes them as military actions on the global battlefield, where all’s fair. The implication is that we are at war with the entire rest of the world."

      The above-cited statement is just plain silly. The President does not authorize drones to kill "people he doesn't like," and there is no "implication that we are at war with the entire rest of the world." Drones are targeting a terrorist leadership that has openly planned and committed attacks against the United States and U.S. interests.

      The drones are primarily targeting Al-Qaeda leaders and operatives, as well as those of affiliated terrorist organizations, in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia because that is where they are operating. One would have to be paranoid and delusional to suggest that that implies "we are at war with the entire rest of the world."

    • The "interagency" concept was not hatched at the Air War College. No doubt it is taught and discussed at the Air War College, as it is at all the service war colleges, including the National War College. Likewise at the State Department and the various foreign affairs agencies it is emphasized and goes by various tags, including the "Whole of Government" approach. It has always been around, though, in one form or another. It simply has gained greater credence as a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

      You seem to think the interagency process subordinates the civilian foreign affairs agencies to the Pentagon. It does not. Your statement that "all aspects of foreign policy have to be coordinated with the appropriate Combatant Commander" is simply untrue, as is your statement that "In Afghanistan, "interagency" means that diplomats at State have to show how their activities will leverage military power in the advancement of military objectives."

      The military, State Department, and all U.S. government agencies closely coordinate their activities, of course; but the military does not set policy, and the State Department and other agencies most definitely are not subordinated to the military, in Afghanistan or anywhere else. And believe me, our Embassies in Asia (for example) do not "coordinate all aspects of foreign policy" with the Pacific Command's Combatant Commander. When it is necessary to coordinate their activities, they coordinate as equals in the implementation of policy set by the White House in Washington, DC. That is how the interagency process works in all aspects of foreign policy and in all geographic areas of operation.

  • Romney's Five Wars
    • "Do you Americans not understand that you are actually seriously considering igniting World War III?"

      Do you, Mr. Lewis, not understand that you are actually seriously demonstrating your profound lack of knowledge and understanding of international affairs? And your snide reference to "American sheep" illustrates just how misinformed you are.

      If you think Venezuela would harm it's economy by cutting off it's biggest customer, the U.S., you are naive beyond words. And as to China's and Russia's response? What would that response be Mr. Lewis? World War III? From what diploma mill did you purchase your degree in international relations? World War III! American sheep! Indeed!

    • After you have finished hyperventilating with your trusty file of 3x5 cards, with their predictable words and phrases that you use interchangeably ("Great Gamers," "Experienced Players," "Wise Men," "Notagainistan," etc.), I suggest that you get out your Webster's and look up the word that neatly sums up your rant: "irrelevant."

      By the way, Mr. McPhee, how do you decide the order in which your overused words and phrases should appear? Do you shuffle your 3x5 cards, as one would a deck of playing cards, and take them from the top? Do you ever cheat and sneak one off the bottom?

    • "See metastasis,above."

      Irrelevant, John.

    • Page: 1
    • Mitt Romney just does not get it that counter-insurgency (i.e., "nation-building") has not worked, neither in Iraq nor in Afghanistan. We handed Iraq to the Iranians, and Afghanistan will implode into its usual warlord sectors after we depart. As I have pointed out before, the only successful counter-insurgency action was the British in Malaya, and neither the circumstances nor our capabilities favor us in such an endeavor, as they did the British in Malaya.

      We should continue what we have been good at: Counter-terrorism. Using our array of intelligence techniques, we should locate and determine terrorist threats, whether in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, or some other country, and take them out, if these countries are unable or unwilling to do so. We have the legal right to do so, under the doctrine of self-defense, enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. And we have demonstrated we have the ability, using drones, Special Ops inserted and extracted, and other means as well.

  • Fury Unbound: the Muslim Dilemma (Majid)
    • It bears repeating that Islam makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular. And therein lies a problem that is key to why it is so difficult for Islam to accept and come to terms with modernity. There are many reasons for this, but in my opinion it is primarily due to Al-Ghazali and the Ashar’ites shutting down free inquiry in the 10th and 11th centuries and the lack of an Islamic equivalent of the 18th century Enlightenment. Replacing rational inquiry with faith and revelation remains an obstacle to modernization in Islamic societies to this day.

  • Your Election is being Bought by 47 Billionaires (and they are Buying War, Climate Change)
    • "Sometimes I think Soros only exists so that the Right can go “But! But! Democrats do it too!!!!”"

      ...except that...Democrats do "do it too!!!!" You will recall that during the 2008 campaign, Obama pledged that if McCain accepted publicly-financed campaign dollars and the accompanying restrictions, he (Obama) would too. Well, McCain did accept public financing, and Obama reneged on his pledge and went on to amass as large a campaign chest as he could. So much for living up to a pledge for campaign financing reform, as well as living up to his word.

      If you think that Democrats would not try and amass as large a campaign financing chest as they could, regardless of what Republicans might do, then I have some beautiful ocean-front property in Arizona I would like to sell you sight-unseen.

    • "But by definition the Party that appeals the most to the rich has a advantage, and the more polarized wealth becomes in America, the less that advantage has to do with the actual needs of the citizenry, yes?"

      So that explains why Obama won the election in 2008, and the Democrats carried both houses of Congress--it was because the Republicans had the advantage by appealing to the rich.

      And it further explains why Meg Whitman (who spent $177 million on her campaign) lost the 2010 California gubernatorial race to Jerry Brown (who spent $36 million on his campaign). It was because Meg Whitman had the advantage by appealing to the Republican rich.

      Using your logic, can we assume that the Republicans and their wealthy donors "bought" the electoral successes for both Barack Obama and Jerry Brown, respectively?

    • But Republican donors were the only ones mentioned.

    • And don't forget George Soros, who in the 2004 election gave $24 million (you read correctly: $24 million) to various 527 groups in support of the Democratic candidate John Kerry. Buying elections is a sport in which both Republicans and Democrats participate.

  • Mount Sharp, Mars (Photo of the Day from Curiosity)
    • Stunning, with the mountain and the sun's reflection in the background, and Curiosity's shadow in the foreground. Mankind always needs to push the frontiers of exploration, whether in space or deep in the ocean. I think we are genetically "wired" to seek the unknown and make it known, and for that I am grateful.

  • 58 Murders by firearms a year in Britain, 8,775 in US (Oak Creek Reprint Edn.)
    • The gun nuts know no limits. They managed to get a law passed in Arizona that allows one to carry hand guns into bars. Can you imagine a couple of guys with guns getting into an argument after a couple of beers? Sheer lunacy.

  • US Drone Strikes Undermining Pakistan Democracy (Woods)
    • We are not "bombing" Pakistan. We are engaging enemy terrorist leaders by hitting them with drone strikes because the Pakistanis have proven to be unable or unwilling, or both, to engage and take them out themselves. We have a right to engage an enemy that would do us harm if the enemy is in a secure sanctuary within the borders of Pakistan, and the Pakistanis do nothing about it. The drone strikes are directed at the terrorist leaders, not at Pakistan. Pakistani leaders are well aware that we are not directing the strikes at Pakistan.

      Regarding declarations of war, historically, they have been the exception. Since the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, there have been five: The War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. In any case the question is moot, since we are not at war with Pakistan.

    • "We" are not trying to "fix" either Pakistani "democracy" or the Pakistani security forces. Whether one agrees with the drone strikes or not, we engage in them because the Pakistanis have shown themselves incapable of engaging with and rooting out terrorist leaders within their borders.

  • Obama signed finding to help Syria Uprising
    • "Re US “covert” involvement in places like Syria: Do hornets and blowflies ever congregate around corpses at the scene of a slaughter? Do maggots eat the flesh of the dead, breeding new generations of blowflies and hornets?"

      If the above-cited quote reflects your opinion of alleged US efforts to assist the rebels to oppose Assad's murderous regime, Mr. McPhee, then one must conclude that your disgusting, twisted viewpoint makes hornets, blowflies, and maggots look good in comparison.

  • Romney on Jerusalem: A World of Hurt for America
    • "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided."

      No, the above statement was not made by a Romney campaign aide. It was made by Senator (and Presidential candidate) Barack Obama on June 3, 2008 before the American Israeli Public Affairs Council (AIPAC). It demonstrates that Barack Obama is no less a panderer than any other politician who will say anything to get elected.

  • Top Ten Most Distasteful things about Romney Trip to Israel
    • "10. It is distasteful that he is holding the fundraiser in the King David Hotel, which was famously blown up by the Zionist terrorist organization in 1946, in a strike that killed 91 persons and wounded dozens, many of them innocent civilians. Irgun leader Menachem Begin (later a leader of the ruling Likud Party) hit the hotel because there were British security offices there, which were tracking violent organizations like his own, during the British Mandate period of Palestine."

      During the period of the British Mandate, particularly in the 1946-1948 period, Menachim Begin was certainly a terrorist, and the Irgun Zvai Leumi was a terrorist organization. I would add to what you wrote by noting that on April 9, 1948, the Irgun was responsible for the Deir Yassin massacre, in which some 100 to 150 (the exact number is unclear) Palestinian Arabs, including women and children, were killed, some thrown down a well. The act was clearly to promote fear among the Arab population and get them to leave.

      Menachim Begin was more than just a leader of the Likud party. He was Prime Minister of Israel in the mid-1970s. Begin and Anwar Sadat (facilitated by Jimmie Carter) were responsible for the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Begin in his early career was every bit as much a terrorist as was Yassir Arafat, but his subsequent career demonstrated that a successful terrorist can become a statesman, something Arafat was unable to do.

  • Diary from Damascus (John Wreford)
    • The question at hand concerns the statement, "And We The People of USA can cheer ourselves that our post-national war machine is the largest maker and seller and distributor (though by no means the only one) of all the stuff being shot off in Damascus."

      For Super390: The U.S. did not give Assad Senior any military "Goodies" for participating in the First Gulf War coalition. Assad Senior had his own reasons for joining the coalition.

      For JTMcPhee: Stick to the veracity of your statement about the U.S. being "the largest maker and seller and distributor of all the stuff being shot off in Damascus." Assad's military is using Russian arms. There is no evidence that any of it is U.S. made, sold, or distributed.

    • "And We The People of USA can cheer ourselves that our post-national war machine is the largest maker and seller and distributor (though by no means the only one) of all the stuff being shot off in Damascus"

      The "stuff being shot off in Damascus" is not US weaponry at all. It is almost all Russian. The US never supplied Syria with weaponry, either under Assad the Elder or the Younger.

  • Defections mount as Syrian Regime invests Aleppo
    • Thank you for your post, which serves to confirm my observation about those who live in the alternative universe of conspiracy theories, plots, nefarious activities, and various assorted iterations of the Black Arts. And let's not forget the Illuminati?

  • Matisse: "Algerian Woman" (Painting)
    • Well put, Professor. You have scored an ace in defining the influence of North Africa on Matisse.

  • Morsi Reaffirms Israel Peace Treaty to Clinton
    • "The US secretly supports Israel’s most outrageous stances...."

      What is the evidence to support your statement that "The U.S. secretly supports Israel's most outrageous stances..."?

  • Syria: Crimes Against Humanity in Homs
    • You would have a hard time producing evidence that "Israel tops the list of crimes against humanity," given Syria, Rwanda, Bosnia (Srebrenica) Libya under Ghaddafi, and a host of others, current and past. Nevertheless, if for the sake of argument one were to assume your statement correct, it would still be a non-sequitur. One does not clean one's own dirty laundry by pointing out the dirt in others' laundry.

  • Paul, Santorum and the Sixth War (on Iran)
    • "Therefore, if a corporation would be so powerful as to wage war"

      Mike, what do you mean by your statement cited above? When, since the demise of the British East India Company, has a corporation "waged war"? Did you mean it figuratively or metaphorically? If so, please elaborate.

  • London Riots: Its the Economy, Stupid (Not a Clash of Civilizations)
    • William H. Barkell 08/09/2011 at 3:45 pm

      "It allows the governments to put away the arrested participants under the criminal law (as criminals) rather than as political prisoners, as it may in fact be."

      The shame of it all, as the British police arrest all those "political prisoners," carrying their looted flat-screen TVs, cell phones, and bottles of booze. Political prinsoners, indeed!

  • White Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism in Norway
    • "The Left tends to use non-violent passive resistance, like with Gandhi and MLK, Jr."

      Your above-cited quote is a good case of historical amnesia, deliberate or otherwise, Mr. Kennedy. You apparently have never heard of (or don't want to acknowledge) the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and others in the U.S.; not to mention the Bolsheviks in Russia, Mao Zhe Dong in China, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Kim Jong Il in North Korea, the FARC in Colombia, the Sendero Luminoso in Peru, The MIR in Chile, and other Leftist movements throughout the world that have used terrorism as a tactic. I think an objective tally would prove that both the Left and the Right are equal opportunity terrorists.

  • Is the Arab Spring Coming to Palestine?
    • William H. Barkell 07/21/2011 at 10:24 pm

      "You live in the US and you know that the US border force would also shoot anyone trying to trespass."

      Mr. Ender, you have used one shooting incident--and one in which the facts are in dispute--to make your sweeping, absolutely unsubstantiated and false claim that "the U.S. border force would also shoot anyone trying to trespass." Millions of illegal immigrants have been apprehended crossing the U.S.-Mexican border over the years without being shot. They are taken into custody and most are deported. Your attempt to smear the U.S. Border Patrol by using one incident reveals more about you and your lack of credibility than it does about the U.S. Border Patrol.

  • Can Bookstores be Saved?
    • I detect a kindred soul, Professor Cole. I, too, love books and book stores. Unlike you, however, I doubt that I will ever migrate to kindles and nooks; their cold hard screen does not allow one to make notes in the margins, as I have done all my life when coming across interesting and new ideas, or new takes on old ideas.

      There were certain authors that set my imagination on fire when I was young. And while I enjoy reading many of today's authors, I still like to read Lawrence Durrell's "Alexandria Quartet" every five years or so. Durrell's evocation of Alexandria in the 1930s, with its cosmopolitan mix of Arabs, Greeks, Jews, Armenians, and a half dozen others; and his superb writing (He was a painter with words!) enthralled me. In fact, it was through reading Durrell that I discovered the Greek Poet Constantine Cavafy. Nikos Kazantzakis, the great author from Crete ("The Last Temptation of Christ," "Report to Greco," "Zorba the Greek") was another. Somerset Maugham's short stories are absolute gems. Graham Greene, Hemingway, and others. And those are just writers of fiction. There is the whole panoply of non-fiction: history, politics, political-economy. I cannot imagine I would have the same feeling of closeness to those authors and their works without the tactile pleasure of reading actual, physical books, rather than reading a screen.

      Which brings me to the best movie I have seen in a long time: Woody Allen's new release entitled "Midnight in Paris." Briefly, it is about a present-day fellow who treasures the idea of literary Paris in the 1920s. He goes to Paris with his philistine fiancee and her equally philistine parents, and the story takes off. Very good movie. But I should quit now before I go too far afield here.

  • Qaddafi was Linchpin of Corrupt Dictatorships in Tunisia, Egypt
    • William H. Barkell 07/19/2011 at 2:16 pm

      "I wonder what Mr. Barkell means by “Left-leaning.” Just that convenient Wrong-Wing (they are in no sense of the word “Right”) label that so many “conservatives” (sic) toss around so freely to cement their solidarity of the “against?” B. above is one small illustration of how bankrupt the notions of “Left” and “Right” are."

      If you had read my post carefully, JTMcPhee, you would have noted that I took the term "Left-leaning" from Professor Cole's post (as in "Left-leaning, post-colonial regimes"), to which my post was in reply. I suggest that you not only process what you read a little more carefully, but you also might benefit from a refresher course in 20th century history and politics. I think you would find that the notions of "Left" and "Right" are not as bankrupt as your post suggests.

    • "How important Qaddafi was to Hosni Mubarak’s police state needs to be further investigated. But there is growing evidence of his baleful influence. How the left-leaning post-colonial regimes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt deteriorated into seedy police states with vast domestic spying apparatuses, secret prisons, torture, press censorship and ultimately crony capitalist cartels is yet to be completely understood,"

      Professor Cole, The two questions you pose in the above-cited paragraph may need to be, as you put it, further investigated in order to be completely understood, if by "completely understood" you mean 100 percent, with no remaining questions. In my opinion, however, we have a sufficient understanding of both to reach concrete conclusions.

      A. Regarding the importance of Qaddafi to Hosni Mubarak's police state, other than the possible provision of funding to Egypt, I doubt that Qaddafi had much to do with it. After all, the police state did not begin with Mubarak. The police state was established under Nasser with heavy Soviet involvement. And while it may have softend under Sadat, the apparatus remained in place to be brought into play when Mubarak deemed it in his interest to do so.

      B. Your question regarding how Left-leaning, post-colonial regimes deteriorated into seedy police states, begs the further question: Given the history of Left-leaning regimes in the 20th century (Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana, Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, Fidel Castro's Cuba, Daniel Ortega's Nicaragua, not to mention The Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and others), why do you think the Left-leaning regimes in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt would not follow suit? While I do not subscribe to a determinist view of history, I see nothing in the historical record to suggest that those regimes would turn out to be other than police states, particularly since they relied on the Soviet Union and East Germany to assist in setting up their Interior Ministries, police, and intelligence operations.

  • 32 Nations Recognize Free Libya
    • William H. Barkell 07/17/2011 at 5:26 pm

      Of course there are radical Christian tendencies among certain groups in the U.S., Moi. But that isn't the question. The statement in question is the claim that "we are controlled by radical Christian tendencies." No evidence has been provided to substantiate such a claim because, in my opinion, it does not exist.

    • William H. Barkell 07/17/2011 at 5:11 pm

      No one questioned his statement that the U.S. vetted the TNC leadership, Janine, as we should vet any group we potentially support. The question involved his statement that "we are controlled by radical Christian tendencies." That statement represents a high degree of paranoia, and I would like to see the evidence that led him to such a conclusion. In particular, the list of the major elements in U.S. society I listed in my post above seem to me devoid of "control by radical Christian tendencies." I would be glad to consider evidence to the contrary if you would like to provide it.

    • "we are controlled by radical Christian tendencies but THEY must be vetted for lack of radical Muslim tendencies.

      REAL reason #105 for “why they hate us-”

      What a novel idea, that we are controlled by radical Christian tendencies. I cannot imagine the amount of analytical firepower it took to reach the conclusions that:

      A. Our Guvernment, i.e., the Obama adminstration, is controlled by "radical Christian tendencies."

      B. The major media (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and others (Fox excepted) are controlled by "radical Christian tendencies."

      C. Our major universities, both public and private, are controlled by "radical Christian tendencies."

      D. The major corporations and fiancial institutions, such as Exxon-Mobil, Citicorp, etc. are controlled by "radical Christian tendencies."

      To reach the conclusion that the U.S. is controlled by radical Christian tendencies borders on paranoia, and is just one step removed from the conclusion reached by others of a conspiratorial frame of mind that the UN is about to take over the U.S., using sightings of "black helicopters" as their evidence.

  • Clinton: al-Asad has lost Legitimacy after Mobs Storm US, French Embassies
    • William H. Barkell 07/12/2011 at 2:39 pm

      "If the Syrian ambassador to the US had done the same thing in reverse, he would have been thrown out of the US."

      The American Ambassador's visit to Hama was not interference in internal politics, Alexno. Only a dictatorial regime that ignores international protocol would call it such. And I guarantee you, other countries' Ambassadors in the U.S. have visited with and talked to people who are very much against U.S. Government policies, and they have never been "thrown out of the U.S." They have not even been declared "Persona non grata," which is the correct diplomatic term.

    • William H. Barkell 07/12/2011 at 2:34 pm

      It is not a war crime to disperse a mob attempting to enter and ransack one's Embassy, whether with live firej or not, Daoud. There were no deaths, injuries, or other consequences that any reasonable person would call a war crime.

  • On Panetta and Defeating al-Qaeda
    • "One last comment, how many of those that comment, have been in war, killed others, discovered that what you were led to believe, was really not the reason? How many carry the mental images, the feeling of why did my buddies get maimed/killed, while I survived, am alive, am scorned by the very government that sent us to fight that war?"

      The question, Norman, is not just, as you put it, how many who comment have been in war and feel they were deceived and scorned by their own government. Rather, the question I would ask is how many who comment (as you have just done) have been in war, whether they felt deceived or accepted the rationale for war and felt the cause was just.

      Since you are one of those who have made an extended comment on the effects of war, I will turn your question on you. Have you served in the armed forces and engaged in hostilities? And further, To what government are you referring when you suggest it "scorns" those it sends to fight the war? And please provide evidence to substantiate your claim that the government scorns those it sends into war.

  • The Arabs' Fourth of July
    • William H. Barkell 07/04/2011 at 8:59 pm

      It is not a matter of the "IMF/WB getting their hooks deeper into them..." When a country accepts IMF or World Bank financing, it has an obligation to accept conditionality. Those who contribute to the IMF and World Bank have a reasonable expectation that the recipient country will operate on an economically sound basis. Any country, of course, has the option to reject IMF/WB financing, if it thinks it can go it alone without such financing. It remains to be seen whether or not Egypt can do so.

  • US Public Backs Obama, Wants out of Afghanistan
    • William H. Barkell 07/01/2011 at 9:23 pm

      There is nothing "obfuscatory" in calling the Iraq War a "war of choice," with or without UNSC authorization. It simply means that one does not consider the war an imperative. Rather, it was a choice whether or not to pursue it. Don't let your emotions get the best of your intellect.

    • William H. Barkell 06/30/2011 at 3:23 pm

      "The biggest danger is of a failed state once the US goes. But Americans seem just not to care very much any more about that scenario."

      Nor should they. To think that Afghanistan may turn out as well as Iraq once the U.S. draws down is to pay homage to the triumph of hope over reason. Afghanistan, even in the best of times, never came close to the modern state that Iraq was and is. Even under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, Iraq embraced modernity in a way that Afghanistan never has and still does not. One of the elements of modernity in Iraq that eludes Afghanistan entirely is that religion has never played a dominant role in the society. That was, and is, a plus for Iraq and a minus for Afghanistan.

      If the price of keeping Afghanistan from being a failed state (and only just!) is an interminable U.S. military presence, then let it go. We should concentrate on counter-terrorism. With good intelligence, the occasional and judicious insertion of para-military forces, targeted drone attacks, and a continued (if rocky) relationship with Pakistan, we should be able to mount the counter-terrorism fight without engaging in "nation building," which always has been, as stated above, the triumph of hope over reason.

  • The Audacity of the Gaza Flotilla
    • William H. Barkell 06/26/2011 at 9:48 pm

      I, too, was a career Foreign Service Officer, and I would heartily recommend a Foreign Service career to any young person today. Just because you may consider an act the U.S. supports "illegal" doesn't mean others in the Foreign Service do, or even that the act is illegal. It simply means that you think it is. It is your opinion only. And for you to state that our "Embassies in Iraq and Afghanistan are full of careerists who are advancing their personal careers regardless of what happens to the hapless people in these countries." demonstrates an arrogant attitude on your part. Who are you to impose your view on others and apply your standard to judge them?

    • William H. Barkell 06/26/2011 at 9:37 pm

      "If we say piracy by Israel is OK, then piracy will become standard behavior for all others who see an advantage in it."

      Whatever you want to call Israel's action in boarding a flotilla vessel, it is definitely not piracy. Piracy, by definition, is a non-state activity. States do not commit piracy, private parties do. This is a long-established principle under international law.

  • The End of the Beginning in Afghanistan
    • William H. Barkell 06/23/2011 at 6:18 pm

      Congratulations! You have just come full circle to your original non-sequitur.

    • William H. Barkell 06/23/2011 at 3:29 pm

      You have failed utterly to provide evidence to substantiate your charge that "we are occupying every single country in Central America as well as South America."

      Intelligent people substantiate their positions by quoting something they found "Googling"??? At first I thought you were joking when you suggested googling, and then I realized you were serious.

      Googling indeed! If that is your level of research ability, not to mention your source of evidence to substantiate your claim that the U.S. occupies not only the Central American isthmus, but the entire continent to the south, I question what parallel universe you are living in.

    • "The question was, how do you feel about the cover up? Of course killing children is bad, but the cover up? Got it now?"

      "Do you also approve of the drone attacks in Yemen that killed 21 children, and I believe two putative Al Qaeda?"

      Your own words quoted back to you above. Got it now?

    • Please provide evidence that we are "occupying every single country in (Central America) as well as South America." I want to see hard evidence supporting your statement, not just some amorphous charge that cannot be substantiated.

    • Nice try with your non-sequitur. Why do you assume that because I support drone attacks against Jihadists I must support such attacks that kill children? Such shallow reasoning and lack of analytical ability have no place in a serious forum.

    • "and notes ominously that there is no talk of pulling out US drones from the region."

      Ominously? There is nothing ominous about it. This is exactly what the United States should do. We should drop the idea of "nation-building" and "counter-insurgency," in Afghanistan and stick with counter-terrorism. The drones are a very useful weapon against the Jihadist-terrorist leadership and its "middle-management" in the FATA, and they will be just as useful should there be a move into Afghanistan when the U.S. draws down.

      Yes, elements of the Pakistani military, the ISI, and large segments of the public do not like the U.S. running drones. But they would not be any more pleased no matter what we do. They have shown that while there are some areas in which they are willing to work with us, there are others in which they are not. And, of course, it is pretty clear that in some instances they are quite willing to tip off the Jihadists of impending operations. In such an environment, the U.S. must look after its own interests, with or without Pakistan's acquiescence.

  • Gates & NATO: Misery Loves Company
    • William H. Barkell 06/12/2011 at 10:00 pm

      The members of the EU spend less than two percent of their GDP on defense. They decided long ago that they were going to pursue social programs rather than maintain a strong military force. Ironically, many, including the UK, are finding that they cannot maintain the level of government spending on social programs demanded by their publics, and they must cut back.

      All this may be what they thought was best over the years, but when strong military force and logistical capacity are needed, it is always the United States that is called upon to provide it. Europe has little logistical capacity to speak of, and their force structure has been degraded. Thus, when a problem that is in their own backyard, such as Bosnia in the early 1990s and Kosovo in 1999, they dither because they have neither the force structure nor the political will to bring force to bear upon the problem. It is then left to the United States to provide it for them. In 1999, for example, the U.S. flew 80 percent of the sorties against the Serbs. The remaining 20 percent were flown primarily by the UK.

      And while we're at it, it is worth pondering the irony that many who called the U.S. war against Iraq illegal because it lacked UN approval, were very supportive of the 78-day war against Serbia. Yet, there was certainly no UN imprimatur backing that action. That NATO (led by the U.S.) waged the war against Serbia did not make it any more "legal," according to those who insist that any such action must gain UN approval in order to be legal.

  • Top Ten Myths about Bin Laden's Death
    • Not when it produces actionable intelligence, Fa.

    • Andreas, while Bin Laden had committed acts of war against the U.S. and others, he and his followers do not qualify for "Prisoner of War" status, as he, and they, do not meet the requirements of legal combatants under Article 3 of the Convention. They are "unlawful enemy combatants," which is why we can try them in Military Tribunals.

    • Right, watson, and I assume that you are a member of the "Flat Earth Society" and believe the end of the world is coming in 2012, according to the Mayan calendar. It's all a conspiracy, isn't it? Oh, and don't forget the attempted UN takeover of the U.S. with their black helicopters. Paranoia, Paranoia, Paranoia!

    • William H. Barkell 05/05/2011 at 12:39 am

      Nor for Bin Laden. Particularly not for Bin Laden, to have had a woman attempting to protect him.

    • Myth No. 3 is certainly not "known to be untrue." There has been no definitive statement or evidence as to how the information on the courier was obtained. There is some speculation that it could have been obtained via enhanced interrogation techniques at a black site, such as Romania. It is possible that it was obtained during "conversations" with detainees, but the Administration, correctly, has not confirmed anything. The fact is there probably were several sources of information that, put together, led to the courier and the compound. That leads one to the possibility that some of the information was obtained via "conversations" and some vie enhanced interrogation.

      There is a Myth No. 11 that you did not mention. The operation that took out Bin Laden was not a joint U.S.-Pakistani enterprise. It was totally a unilateral U.S. effort. Intelligence gathered with the help of the Pakistanis over the years may have assisted, but the operation itself was a unilateral effort. To have brought any element of the Pakistani Government into it would have been to invite blowing the entire operation.

  • The Muslim World Sounds off on Bin Laden's Demise
    • William H. Barkell 05/05/2011 at 12:26 am

      Right, Chip, the ideologue is you. You will never understand how the U.S. has contributed to world stability because you are to beholden to your ideological position.

    • William H. Barkell 05/04/2011 at 1:13 am

      And that the person killed is Bin Laden should be worthy of praise. Three cheers for the U.S. Special Forces.

    • The wretching you hear comes from those who have little understanding of foreign affairs and national security issues. That the United States actually has contributed to stability and a forward-looking foreign policy eludes such people because they are too busy wretching as a result of their own ideological blindlness.

    • William H. Barkell 05/04/2011 at 1:06 am

      Because Bin Laden did not attack "country after country." He attacked the U.S. It is not "bloodlust" to feel a sense of achievement in the demise of one who committed an act of war against one's country.

    • William H. Barkell 05/04/2011 at 1:02 am

      Again, the fatal flaw in your argument is treating the Septemger 11 attacks against the U.S. as "criminal" acts. They were not. They were acts of war.

    • William H. Barkell 05/04/2011 at 1:00 am

      An "act of war" against a country can only be committed by a foreign entity, in the case of September 11, Al Qaida. Tim McVeigh committed terrorism, but as it was internal, it cannot be defined as an "act of war."

    • William H. Barkell 05/04/2011 at 12:57 am

      In the case of the September 11 attacks against the U.S., they were, indeed, acts of war.

    • William H. Barkell 05/03/2011 at 3:14 pm

      Cervantes, a "minor problem"! please see my comments above.

    • Travis, to have treated the September 11 attacks on the U.S. as "criminality" (equivalent to armed robbery of a Seven-Eleven convenience store), rather than the act of war that they actually were, would be to pervert the definitions of both "criminality" and "war." I'm glad we have leaders with a higher intellectual level than that.

  • Obama and the End of Al-Qaeda
    • William H. Barkell 05/03/2011 at 11:48 pm

      But none will have the impact that a burial site would have had, Chip.

    • William H. Barkell 05/03/2011 at 11:44 pm

      Ah yes, Diogeron, Capitalism is the enemy of the people. What an insightful revelation! Your screed reads like a 1955 editorial in the Daily Worker. (Remember the Communist Party newspaper of the 1950s?) Obviously, the people of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe have advanced far beyond your limited vision. They experienced Socialism and Communism and rejected it. I doubt that you have ever lived under such a system. How grand it is to live in a free, capitalist society and condemn it at the same time. One is reminded of the old line that "Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue."

    • William H. Barkell 05/03/2011 at 11:35 pm

      A country that certainly had official elements protecting Usama bin Laden, as Pakistan certainly did, has no claim to "Counter Sueing" america for mounting a raid to kill the world's most wanted terrorist. Your statement lacks intellectual credibility, Sef.

    • William H. Barkell 05/03/2011 at 3:06 pm

      Paul, please see my reply above.

    • William H. Barkell 05/03/2011 at 3:05 pm

      Of course I know he meant the U.S. Government, Jeff, and my response counters his perception that we are to blame. The mess that resulted from Saddam's rule was what brought on the suffering in Iraq. That was my point. It was Saddam who was ultimately responsible, and he was brought to justice for his acts, which included cruelty, much killing of his own people, perversion of the Oil-for-Food program that would have mitigated the sanctions on the Iraqi public, and any number of other perversions.

    • William H. Barkell 05/03/2011 at 11:54 am

      Whatever "shrine" the religiously and ideologically perverted may construct, it will certainly not have the impact of one that would have marked the actual burial site. As to whether or not his burial at sea was strictly in accordance with "Islamic tradition," it hardly matters. The important thing is he's done with.

    • William H. Barkell 05/03/2011 at 11:50 am

      Of course it does not change my view, Chip, because your statement does not match the facts. He not only reached for a weapon, but he (cowardly) used a woman as a shield.
      And there is no doubt that a land-based burial would have created a physical point of martyrdom, something the sea will not.

    • What an excellent idea! We could have read him his Miranda rights and lawyered him up with a good defense, as if he had only committed armed robbery against a seven-eleven convenience store, rather than having committed the acts of war against the U.S. and around the world that he actually did. The fact is, he resisted and was rightly killed. And even if he had been captured, a military tribunal would have been the only appropriate venue for a trial. Fortunately, he was killed and buried at sea to avoid the spectacle of terrorists and various ideological perverts worshiping him as a martyr in U.S. custody. Good riddance.

    • Saddam Hussein has already been brought to justice, Yonatan.

    • To have buried him on land would have provided a "shrine" (so to speak) for every terrorist and would-be terrorist. Better to bury him at sea so there is no trace left of him for the ideologically perverted to worship at.

  • Saif admits Qaddafis are Brutal Foreign Occupiers
    • "Do any of the leaders of the rebels quote Che or even Thomas Paine?"

      Whatever the rebels may be, one hopes they have enough sense to avoid "Che" as a guide, much less to quote him.

  • Qaddafi Using Cluster bombs on Civilian Areas
    • William H. Barkell 04/17/2011 at 7:38 am

      "There is ample evidence that Japan was willing to surrender before the atomic bombs fell. Negotiations were under way with Russia and the bombing schedule was brought up so that the bombs could be tried before the war ended."

      J Weisch: You refer to Prince Konoye's mission to Moscow in July 1945, a subject that I covered above. It was no negotiation. As I said, and I will say it again here, Konoye brought no terms to negotiate. He simply attempted to get the Soviet Union to intervene. I repeat, there were no "negotiations" underway at all; the Soviets didn't play the Japanese game, and, of course, they entered the war against Japan shortly afterward.

      By the way, the bombing schedule was not accelerated so "the bombs could be tried before the war ended." They were dropped because the U.S. and its allies wanted to avoid the invasion of the Japanese home islands that appeared to be inevitable. Dropping the bombs saved thousands of U.S. and allied soldiers lives. I know that is a hard one to swallow for those who place their faith in naive hope over the hard facts and experience of history, but there it is.

    • William H. Barkell 04/17/2011 at 7:24 am

      "None of this interests the US and its allies. They have a *geo-political* goal rather than humanitarian one, namely ousting Qaddafi and steering into power a government in the oil & gas-rich nation that is more friendly to US demands. This war is all about the US remaining the empire that it is."

      Well, Benham, it appears that you have accepted a few myths yourself in order to sustain your view of the United States.

    • William H. Barkell 04/16/2011 at 9:48 pm

      "But not even in your worldview can one coherently consider the bombing of Nagasaki justified, as by then it was clear Japan was surrendering. Incidentally, history refutes your comforting myth that Japan would have never negotiated for peace: a nation that would eventually accept surrender,would would have accepted to negotiate for something less than surrender."

      Once again, Benham, you represent the triumph of blind hope over facts and experience. If you had studied the Japanese War Cabinet debate, you would know that even after Hiroshima they were not ready to surrender. It was only after Nagasaki that the Emperor made the decision, against the advice of his War Cabinet, to surrender.

      As for your contention that the Japanese would have accepted to negotiate for something less than surrender, of course they would have, as Prince Konoye's mission to Moscow demonstrated. As I pointed out to you earlier, they tried to negotiate a Soviet intervention for a cease-fire without surrender, without any terms whatsoever. Konoye brought nothing to the table. In Japan's case, the aggressor who initiated a terrible war of conquest and destruction in Asia and the Pacific was in no position to dictate a cease-fire without terms. And, frankly, the subsequent history of Japan as a model nation in the international community demonstrates the validity of the United States' position at the time in demanding unconditional surrender.

    • "In WWII, the US insisted that it would fight Japan until it was defeated. This, of course, required genocidal bombing of Japan. Negotiating for peace was not considered."

      The above-cited statement reveals a lack of understanding of the term "genocide" and historical amnesia regarding Japan's war aims and the means by which they were pursued. The bombing of Japan, both conventional and atomic, was not genocide. The bombing was an attempt to weaken Japanese will and ability to continue pursuing its war policy of conquest and colonial savaging of its conquered territory. If any genocidal policy occurred, it was on the part of Japan, with its policy of singling out Chinese, both in China proper and in Southeast Asia, for retribution and death. There is much documentation demonstrating that not only did the Japanese War Cabinet pursue this policy, but Emperor Hirohito was well aware of it and agreed to it.

      Regarding negotiating with Japan rather than pursuing its defeat, I suggest you read a bit more history of the period, particularly the minutes of the Japanese War Cabinet in its deliberations. There is not a shred of evidence that they were willing to negotiate anything but Japan's continued maintenance of the status quo in its conquered territories. When Prince Konoye went to Moscow in July 1945 to try to get the Soviet Union to intervene, he brought with him no terms at all--nothing--as a basis for negotiations. He apparently just wanted a cease-fire in place. And this, after the reign of misery and destruction Japan left in its wake.

      Regarding the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is clear that it had the desired effect of ending the war. But only just! Even after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese War Cabinet wanted to continue the war. It was only after the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki that the emperor overrode his War Cabinet and decided to surrender. The magical thinking that Japan was just about ready to surrender, and that the atomic bombs were unnecessary, is just that--magical, wishful thinking. The hard facts suggest otherwise.

      In short, to blame the United States and its allies for the Japan’s wounds in defeat is ludicrous. Japan alone was responsible for the policies that led to its defeat, and its wounds were self-inflicted.

  • Free Libya plans Tripoli Uprising as Doha Conference Urges More Help to Civilians
    • William H. Barkell 04/14/2011 at 9:50 am

      "As a result, Benghazi will likely be provided with an infusion of cash, possibly including funds belonging to the Libyan government which have been frozen in NATO countries."

      Providing the rebels with Libyan Government funds held by NATO countries is wishful thinking. Those funds belong to the Libyan Government. The rebels have no official standing, are not recognized as the Government of Libya, and thus for NATO to release the funds to the rebels would be an unlawful act on the part of NATO countries. The funds will be held by NATO countries unless and until a Government that is in control of Libya and recognized by NATO countries is installed.

  • Thomas Jefferson in Arabic
    • William H. Barkell 04/08/2011 at 1:18 pm

      Somewhere in your diatribe I detect a legitimate point. Unfortunately, it is completely lost in your overheated rhetoric, lack of balance, and lack of intellectual honesty in appraising Jefferson's overall contribution to democratic government in America and the world.

  • Amnesty Int'l: United Nations Must Reject Israeli Campaign to Avoid Accountability for Gaza War Crimes
    • "'and that Hamas has done and is doing none of these.' Which is irrelevant to Israel’s obligations."

      That Hamas has conducted no investigation into it's war crimes, including the deliberate targeting of civilians (which is its policy in firing rockets and mortar rounds into Israeli cities and villages) may be irrelevant to Israel's obligations. Nevertheless, for you to condemn Israel, whose policy is to target military (i.e., Hamas) installations, some of which are deliberately placed among civilians, and ignore Hamas' deliberate targeting of civilians and failure to conduct an investigation, demonstrates a lack of objectivity.

      One may criticize Israel for a slow response in conducting an investigation into civilian deaths in Gaza, but at least it has conducted an investigation. Hamas, on the other hand, has completely ignored its obligation to conduct an investigation. And it is easy to see why. It is Hamas' deliberate policy to target Israeli civilians. To assume an equivalency between Israel and Hamas in this matter borders on the absurd.

  • Questions for Glenn Greenwald on Libya and the end of NATO
    • William H. Barkell 04/05/2011 at 9:00 am

      I not only have read up on the facts regarding the Falklands, I actually followed the war closely when it occurred in 1982. Regarding your geography lesson Re Argentina's proximity vs. that of the United Kingdom, proximity has never trumped sovereignty in international law. I appreciate your support of Argentina's specious claim to the Falklands, Mark, but must emphasize that while you are entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts.

    • Cristina Kirchner is hardly the one to exercise moral superiority over the British by accusing them of "imperialistic tendencies," after the Argentines started the Falklands War in 1982 by landing troops on territory that has been British continuously since 1833. Her time would be better spent reigning in inflation, rather than following her populist tendencies and printing money. Her charge of Western "imperialism" has about as much validity as does that of Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega. Great company!

  • Torpey: Support the Libyans but Don't Arm Them!
    • William H. Barkell 04/02/2011 at 4:52 pm

      Please read my post carefully. I was responding to your statement about Arab states having once been "colonized by the Western Powers," while completely ignoring the more than four centuries of imperial rule under a Muslim Power, namely the Ottoman Empire. That Turkey is not dropping bombs and missiles today has nothing to do with my response to your original statement.

    • "who were once colonized by the Western Powers"???!!! How about the entire Near East, including all of the Arab World, that for more than 400 years was colonized by the Muslim Ottoman Empire? This was a Muslim--not Western--empire that kept the Arabs from advancing at all. Compared to the four centuries of Ottoman Muslim imperial rule, the Western Empire was short-lived, indeed. The Ottoman Muslim Empire, more than anything else, held back the modernization of the Arab Near East.

    • William H. Barkell 04/01/2011 at 9:51 pm

      How correct you are! That would suggest that there was a much more moderate government in place when the U.S. had a base in Libya. Perhaps the U.S. was not the ogre it is portrayed to be. Now that is an interesting thought, is it not?

    • Your observation: "We know practically nothing about who the rebels are and what they may ultimately want." is spot-on. We have no idea who the rebels are and what they represent. We have no idea what their leaders' agenda is.

      There is reason to be wary of at least a segment of the rebel leadership. Various reports indicate that one of the rebel leaders, Abdel-Hakim Al-Hasidi, went to Afghanistan in 2002 to fight against the “foreign invasion,” as he called it, i.e. against U.S. forces. Moreover, a 2007 report published by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, based on biographical information on jihadists seized in raids in Iraq, revealed that Libya contributed 19 percent of the foreign fighters in Iraq, second only to Saudi Arabia in absolute numbers, and in per capita terms, number one.

      As you point out, arming the jihadists in Afghanistan in the 1980s to defeat the Soviet Union seemed appropriate then. Little did we know at the time the deadly blow-back that would follow. While Libya is not Afghanistan, it is similar in that, once again, there are voices calling for arming the opposition to a regime we don't like, an opposition about whom we know nothing. One would hope that our ignorance about whom we were dealing with in Afghanistan and their ultimate goals would lead us to be a bit more cautious about throwing our lot in with the Libyan rebels, whose ultimate goals are equally opaque. If they gain power and turn out to have an anti-American, anti-Western agenda, it would be a sad irony if we, in large part, put them there.

  • Answer to Glenn Greenwald
    • Whether or not Iraq was an illegal war is open for debate. If you think it was illegal because it lacked UNSC authorization, then I must assume you thought the 1999 war against Serbia equally illegal, as it, too, lacked UNSC authorization.

      I certainly agree that the "Libya intervention" (really a war to dislodge Gaddafi) is legal, both in terms of UNSC Resolution 1973 and President Obama's adherence to the 1973 War Powers Resolution. Nevertheless, it is no more a "War of Necessity" than was Serbia or Iraq. There is no compelling U.S. interest to intervene in Libya. The United States has no obligation to "forestall a threat to democratization in Tunisia and Egypt." Nor does it have an obligation to "allow Libyans to have a normal life." Noble goals these may be, but they are neither obligations nor claims on U.S. treasure that go beyond one's own subjective viewpoint.

      We have no idea who the rebels are and what they represent. We have no idea what their agenda is (if they even have one). Moreover, there is reason to be wary of at least a segment of the rebels. Various reports indicate that one of the rebel leaders, Abdel-Hakim Al-Hasidi, went to Afghanistan in 2002 to fight against the "foreign invasion," as he called it, i.e. against U.S. forces. A 2007 report published by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, based on biographical information on jihadists seized in raids in Iraq, revealed that Libya contributed 19 percent of the foreign fighters in Iraq, second only to Saudi Arabia in absolute numbers, and in terms of per capita, number one.

      In short, were we to dispose of Gaddafi, we would simply create a vacuum which would be filled by...we know not what. Perhaps Libya is a case in which the wisdom of John Quincy Adams would apply: "America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

  • An Open Letter to the Left on Libya
    • William H. Barkell 03/27/2011 at 5:08 pm

      Regarding your statement: The Constitution specifically reserves the following powers EXCLUSIVELY to Congress: “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies…; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia…”

      You obviously are completely unaware that there is an entire body of constitutional scholarship that concludes that Congress's power to declare war does not preclude the President from exercising his powers as Commander in Chief to engage U.S. Armed Forces in hostilities when he deems it appropriate and necessary to do so. The phrase "to declare war" does not mean "to make war" or "to engage in war." Rather, it is a term used to define a legal state of war for purposes of establishing the status of troops engaged in hostilities, sequestering of enemy property, etc. In fact, in the entire history of the U.S. since the adoption of the Constitution there have only been five Congressional declarations of war: The War of 1812, the Mexican War, The Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. A declaration of war clearly is not required in order for the President to commit U.S. Force into hostile situations.

  • Libyan Liberation Movement Strikes Back as NATO Comes to the Rescue
    • The contributor above writes of "a deep current of colonialist racism" against Muslims as the driving force behind anti-war factions of both the left and right. Resorting to such stale, canned language does not impress those of us who have dutifully read our Edward Said and moved on. A little less post-colonialist cant and a little more imagination would go a long way toward meaningful dialogue.

    • "Politics in tribal societies is often fluid and fast-changing rather than institutionalized and rigid, which is why descriptions of the conflict in Libya as a concrete struggle between well-defined groups is an error. The million-strong Warfalla tribe appears to have flipped allegiance twice already in the past month and could easily do so again."

      Exactly! This is a spot-on observation and illustrates precisely why we should not be sanguine about any leader or government that may follow Qadhafi turning out to be a liberal regime that embraces modernity. It may, it may not. But as the above-cited quote suggests, there will likely be plenty of post-Qadhafi jockeying for power and multiple flips in allegiance. And we haven't the slightest idea what the ultimate winner's philosophy of governance will be. Such an opaque future, however, is the price one pays for intervention in a tribal society.

    • William H. Barkell 03/25/2011 at 10:09 am

      "The United Arab Emirates has now committed 12 fighter-jets to doing patrols, joining Qatar, which has pledged to begin flying missions this weekend."

      This will be the test of how serious the Arab nations really are in this affair. If Qatar and the UAE begin contributing to enforcement of the "no-fly zone" with their aircraft this weekend, they will demonstrate true seriousness of purpose. If they hesitate, make excuses, or for any other reason do not begin overflights, no amount of Arab League Resolutions or other cheering (no matter how muted) from the sidelines will camouflage the fecklessness of the overall Arab position.

  • Top Ten Accomplishments of the UN No-Fly Zone
    • William H. Barkell 03/25/2011 at 9:45 am

      Serb-Croatian Muslims??? Serbs and Croats are most definitely not Muslims. Serbs are Eastern Orthodox Christians and Croatians are predominately Roman Catholic. The Bosnians were the Muslims on whose behalf the United States intervened, an intervention, by the way, for which the U.S. receives very little credit in the Muslim World. Just as it receives little credit for the later war against Serbia on behalf of Kosovar Muslims. It seems that many Muslims focus on U.S. interventions they oppose (Iraq and Afghanistan) but either deliberately or inadvertently remain silent when it comes to interventions executed on their behalf where there is little or no U.S. interest involved. It will be interesting to see how the U.S. and Western intervention in Libya will be portrayed years from now in the Muslim World.

  • How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed
    • William H. Barkell 03/21/2011 at 11:22 am

      It is hardly fanaticism to accentuate (yes, in caps) the most important, operative part of the resolution in order to distinguish it from what appears to be an interpretation that simply calls it a "no fly zone." Note the title of your piece, "How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed."

      Actually, I was not so much challenging the substance of your piece as I was anticipating the negative responses to the Western coalition's attacks on Qaddafi's forces that go beyond the "no fly zone" and include some civilian casualties, but that, nevertheless, fall within the UN resolution's "all necessary means" mandate. My main point is that the Arab League and others (including UNSC members) cannot call upon Western military and naval action against Qaddafi and expect to shape that action, except in regard to the broad mandate inherent in the UN Resolution. Command and control of this operation lies neither at the United Nations nor at Arab League headquarters.

    • William H. Barkell 03/21/2011 at 9:54 am

      I think we are focusing too much on the "no-fly zone" here. United Nations Resolution 1973 is much broader and "authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary General, acting through national or regional organizations or arrangements...TO TAKE ALL NECESSARY protect civilians and civilian populated areas...." This means, as it should, that British, French, U.S., and other participating air and naval forces may strike Qaddafi's ground forces, command and control facilities, and other elements that have nothing to do with his airborne aircraft and helicopters. And as in all military interventions, there will be the unfortunate civilian casualties.

      This also means that the forces allied against Qaddafi will determine how best to accomplish the mission. This, too, is as it should be. One cannot call upon the Western powers who have the military and naval capability to intervene (as the Arab League has called for intervention), and then have second thoughts about the decision (as has been reported) when the inevitable civilian casualties occur. The coalition against Qaddafi is acting under the mandate of the UN Resolution, not the Arab League. And lest anyone think it "cute" to point out a so-called "contradiction" that some civilians unfortunately are casualties in the effort to "protect civilian and civilian populated areas," it is not a contradiction at all. Anyone with the slightest understanding of military operations knows that the goal of a pristine operation is illusory, and that the best one can hope for is to minimize such casualties in attempting to achieve mission success.

  • Qaddafi threatens to Join al-Qaeda as his Forces advance on Rebel Strongholds
    • Yusuf, I stand corrected. Would you agree, then, that according to your dictionary's inclusion of "bias against religion as an indicator of racism," it can be inferred that the majority of Saudis, Egyptians, Pakistanis, and others who display a greater or lesser bias against Christianity are actually demonstrating an indication of racism against Europeans, Nigerians and other Sub-Saharan Africans, Koreans, and South Americans, including Maya, Guarani, and other indigenous populations, who practice Christianity?

    • William H. Barkell 03/17/2011 at 1:02 pm

      Yusuf, using your logic, would you agree, then, that Saudi Arabia,(which forbids the practice of Christianity) and Pakistan, Egypt, and other Muslim countries (that have populations heavily biased against Christianity) are all racist against:

      A. The majority of Europeans who are, to a greater or lesser degree, Christian?

      B. The roughly 50 percent of Nigerians who are Christian?

      C. The estimated 30 percent of South Koreans who are Christian?

      D. The entire South American continent, including indigenous Indians, who are Christian?

      In other words, are you suggesting that the majority of Saudis, Egyptians, Pakistanis, and others who display a greater or lesser bias against Christianity are actually demonstrating an indication of racism against Europeans, Nigerians and other Sub-Saharan Africans, Koreans, and South Americans, including Maya, Guarani, and other indigenous populations, who practice Christianity?

    • William H. Barkell 03/16/2011 at 1:08 pm

      Hardly. You have provided neither evidence to support your own comments nor a refutation of mine.

    • What is the evidence to support your claim that the West opposes Iran's quest for nuclear capability because of a "racist belief that Muslims can't handle the technology"? This is as far-fetched a statement on the Iranian nuclear issue as I have heard lately. Regarding your claim that the West harbors "racist" doubts about Muslims' ability to handle the technology, I offer the following.

      A. You are confusing race with religion. Even if there were a bias against Muslims, it would be no more "racist" than a bias against Christians, Buddhist, Hindus, or any other religion.

      B. I think Pakistan is a good example that belies your claim that the West does not think Muslims can handle the technology. Pakistan clearly can and does handle the technology, and it is so recognized by the West. In fact, the West's main concern is that the Pakistani Government continue to maintain strict security of their nuclear facilities.

  • Bahrain Demonstrators Repressed
    • William H. Barkell 03/14/2011 at 3:28 pm

      Once again, a childish response that does not address the concerns raised by Kopje.

    • William H. Barkell 03/14/2011 at 3:26 pm

      Childish response that does not even attempt to seriously challenge Yasser's statement.

  • Rudolph: Can You Pass The Saudi Arabia Quiz?
    • William H. Barkell 03/01/2011 at 5:41 pm

      Your statement: "Saudi Arabia, an Islamic absolute monarchy, has enjoyed extremely close relations with the United States, a constitutional republic. This relationship highlights the gross hypocrisy of US foreign policy: fundamentalism and dictatorship in the Arab world is only condemned when it comes garbed in anti-Americanism," reveals a very shallow definition of what constitutes hypocrisy in international relations. When U.S. national interest is the standard by which U.S. relations with other countries is measured, there is no hypocrisy at all in the U.S. condemning dictatorships in the Arab World, or anywhere else for that matter, when those dictatorships, as you state, "come garbed in anti-Americanism." Likewise, maintaining friendly relations with dictatorships that do not attempt to undermine U.S. interests can be (but are not always) consistent with U.S. national interest.

      A good example is our alliance with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany in World War II. Both countries were absolute dictatorships, and both were very anti-American in their philosophy and approach to American interests. If anything, the Soviet Union had a longer history of attempting to undermine U.S. and Western interests. Yet, during World War II, Germany presented the greater threat to U.S. and Western interests, and so it made perfectly good sense to ally with the Soviets in the effort to defeat Germany, which at the time represented the greater threat.

      In international relations, things are rarely black and white, and when considering national interest, there are times when one cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

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