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Total number of comments: 80 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:54)


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  • How Trump is losing in Syria & why Haley is Posturing
    • When Obama aided the rebels in their war for regime change in Syria it was the right war at the right time. It helped with breaking up a network of ISIL training camps which posed a danger to the U.S.. I remain convinced that, for all the concerns one might have about the aftermath, the removal of Assad and the murderous Baath regime from power will be worth the sacrifices that have been made on all sides. I am supporting the intervention because I think the civilian populations of these cities, which are in the moment in rebellion against the regime and which Assad is attempting to reduce even under the current situation of international intervention, that that is something that should prick our conscience.

  • On 9/11: How we slighted the real Threat, Climate Change, and Hyped Terrorism
    • Say what you will about climate change, but the Afghan War was done right, at the right time and for the right reasons.
      And what ever misgivings one might have about the Iraq War, it was definitely worth the sacrifices on all sides.

  • Syrian Security fires on Protesters, Kills 90
    • Where is the demand to intervene in Syria?

      "That is why, according to the CIA, a number of regimes deeply hostile to America – North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria – “already have or are developing ballistic missiles” that could threaten U.S allies and forces abroad. And one, North Korea, is on the verge of deploying missiles that can hit the American homeland. Such capabilities pose a grave challenge to the American peace and the military power that preserves that peace. "

      link to

  • Apple Tracking likely a "Bug" or Oversight
    • The press is saying that the consolidated.db file is *not* being stored on telephone company computers. There is no evidence, however, that the data was stored anywhere but on our own phones and in the back-up files on our computers.

  • Saif admits Qaddafis are Brutal Foreign Occupiers
    • JUAN COLE: "By the way, the US telegraphed its attack on Falluja and encouraged civilians to leave, which most apparently did;"


      "FALLUJAH, Iraq — Hundreds of men trying to flee the assault on Fallujah have been turned back by U.S. troops following orders to allow only women, children and the elderly to leave.

      The military says it has received reports warning that insurgents will drop their weapons and mingle with refugees to avoid being killed or captured by advancing American troops.

      As it believes many of Fallujah's men are guerrilla fighters, it has instructed U.S. troops to turn back all males aged 15 to 55."

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      "Countless violations of international law and crimes against humanity occurred in Fallujah during the November massacre. Evidenced by the mass slaughtering of Iraqis and the use of illegal weapons such as cluster bombs, napalm, uranium munitions and chemical weapons during the November siege of Fallujah when the entire city was declared a “free fire zone” by military leaders, the brutality of the U.S. military has only increased throughout Iraq as the occupation drags on.

      According to Iraqis inside the city, at least 60 percent of Fallujah went on to be totally destroyed in the siege, and eight months after the siege entire districts of the city remained without electricity or water. Israeli style checkpoints were set up in the city, prohibiting anyone from entering who did not live inside the city. Of course non-embedded media were not allowed in the city."


      "During “Operation Spear” on June 17th, 2005, U.S.-led forces attacked the small cities of Al-Qa’im and Karabla near the Syrian border. U.S. warplanes dropped 2,000 pound bombs in residential areas and claimed to have killed scores of “militants” while locals and doctors claimed that only civilians were killed.

      As in Fallujah, residents were denied access to the city in order to obtain medical aid, while those left inside the city claimed Iraqi civilians were being regularly targeted by U.S. snipers.

      According to an IRIN news report, Firdos al-Abadi from the Iraqi Red Crescent Society stated that 7,000 people from Karabla were camped in the desert outside the city, suffering from lack of food and medical aid while 150 homes were totally destroyed by the U.S. military.

      An Iraqi doctor reported on the same day that he witnessed, “crimes in the west area of the country…the American troops destroyed one of our hospitals, they burned the whole store of medication, they killed the patient in the ward…they prevented us from helping the people in Qa’im.”

      Also like Fallujah, a doctor at the General Hospital of al-Qa’im stated that entire families remained buried under the rubble of their homes, yet medical personnel were unable to reach them due to American snipers.

      Iraqi civilians in Haditha had similar experiences during “Operation Open Market” when they claimed U.S. snipers shot anyone in the streets for days on end, and U.S. and Iraqi forces raided homes detaining any man inside."

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  • Arab Spring Protests Continue
    • Bush once said:

      "You can't have free and fair elections in Lebanon under Syrian occupation."

      He failed to add:

      "You can't have free and fair elections in Iraq under US occupation."

  • Free Libya plans Tripoli Uprising as Doha Conference Urges More Help to Civilians
    • joe from Lowell:

      Please cite anything you feel was false. If you find my argument flawed, I welcome any specific critique or correction. But I can't respond to such vague accusations that I am attempting to be "misleading" or "dishonest". That seems like a baseless personal attack, not a counter-point.

      With regard to Qaddafi's use of cluster bombs, or as Obama's Secretary of Defense Robert Gates calls them “legitimate weapons with clear military utility”, you are citing information from April 14 (post NATO bombing). I was citing information from March with regard to the prediction of an imminent massacre in Bengazi.

      Are you suggesting that Qaddafi's current use of (3) cluster bombs is evidence that he intended to go "door to door inflicting punishment" on the civilians of Bengazi?

      I am unaware of any reports of the use of cluster bombs prior to the NATO campaign. Are you aware of any evidence of this?

      As Qaddafi has now begun using cluster bombs, and I would not describe that as “carefully targeted” anymore than when the US or Israel uses the same weapons. But the hypocrisy of the US being outraged by the use of cluster bombs is utterly astounding.

      Setting that aside, I agree that the use cluster bombs by any army is a valid objection. But, if we aren't going to dismiss claims of civilians killed by Qaddafi's forces, then we also shouldn't be so quick to dismiss claims of civilians killed by NATO forces. For both sides, independent sources are having difficulty verifying the precise number of casualties (and the circumstances surrounding them) due to the ongoing nature of the conflict.

      In my view, we have simply taken sides in a civil war. There is no telling at this point how far things might spin out of control. If we are basing our predictions on past atrocities, then I expect there will be further acts of deplorable violence committed by both sides. Much like with Saddam, I won't deny that Qaddafi is a bourgeois tyrant, a thug, and a murder. But I don't recall Qaddafi having ever committed a war crimes near the scale of the Vietnam War or the Iraq War. In other words, on what basis can US claim moral superiority to Qaddafi with regard to protecting civilians or respecting international law?

      Obviously, if the use of (3) cluster bombs in populated areas is what warrants this US/NATO military campaign, wouldn't the first logical step have been for the US to ban the use and manufacturing of cluster bombs before bombing Libya?

      As Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch said: “If it is unacceptable for foreign militaries to use these weapons, why would it be acceptable for the US military to use them?”

      "Cluster Bomb Ban Goes International Without U.S."

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    • Not sure what your point is?


      "Misurata’s population is roughly 400,000. In nearly two months of war, only 257 people — including combatants — have died there. Of the 949 wounded, only 22 — less than 3 percent — are women. If Khadafy were indiscriminately targeting civilians, women would comprise about half the casualties."

      I followed your link, assuming it would refute the claim, instead it stated:

      "Fighting between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces appears to be the most intense in al-Zawiyah, 30 miles west of the capital. Clashes have also been reported in other parts of the country, including in Misurata, Libya’s third-largest city."

      "Some rights officials estimate the death toll could be as high as 2,000." (Is this estimate what you wanted me to read?!?)

      "Democracy Now! correspondent Anjali Kamat traveled to Al Bayda in eastern Libya yesterday."

      "And even though it’s been a week since the battle, there’s still dozens of critically wounded patients inside this hospital. These are mostly young men between the ages of 15 and 30. " (This seems to support the claim that rebels and NOT civilians were being targeted)

      So are you arguing that more than 257 people died in Misurata? Or because you claim he wasn't “narrowly targeting” them, that the figure of "Of the 949 wounded, only 22 — less than 3 percent — are women" is incorrect?

      If this is your argument, please provide a citation with different figures.

      As for your citation of what Juan wrote, all of this happened after NATO/US bombing, not prior, and Obama did not claim he was preventing a siege (like he supports in Gaza) but a massacre of civilians (although he did state "Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. Water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misurata was shut off."). And yes, I would agree that any act of collective punishment is a war crime (one the US commits all too often). But is that what we are discussing here? I thought it was that Khadafy was indiscriminately targeting civilians with heavy weaponry.

      Obama claimed that "At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Gadhafi declared he would show "no mercy" to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted — if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world."

      "We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Gadhafi's troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Gadhafi's air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gadhafi's deadly advance."

      However, if you read the link I provided, it stated that:

      "Nor did Khadafy ever threaten civilian massacre in Benghazi, as Obama alleged. The “no mercy’’ warning, of March 17, targeted rebels only, as reported by The New York Times, which noted that Libya’s leader promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away.’’ Khadafy even offered the rebels an escape route and open border to Egypt, to avoid a fight “to the bitter end.’’

      If bloodbath was unlikely, how did this notion propel US intervention? The actual prospect in Benghazi was the final defeat of the rebels. To avoid this fate, they desperately concocted an impending genocide to rally international support for “humanitarian’’ intervention that would save their rebellion."

      So, what I would like you to respond to, is where is the evidence that a bloodbath against civilians was imminent? Why, for example, are you simply dismissing the offer of amnesty to rebels for disarm? Is such an offer really showing "no mercy"?

      Qaddafi also stated "We have left the way open to them," he said. "Escape. Let those who escape go forever." He pledged that "whoever hands over his weapons, stays at home without any weapons, whatever he did previously, he will be pardoned, protected."

      As to why we are discussing the lack of a civilian massacre in Misurata, it's because it provided an example of what Qaddafi was attempting in Bengazi:

      "Musa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Qaddafi government, confirmed that its forces were preparing to take Misurata just as they did Zawiya, another western town that had been held by the rebels.

      “It starts in the beginning by surrounding the city,” he said, “then moving slowly to avoid casualties.” Rebels in Zawiyah described heavy casualties — at least dozens — during the Qaddafi forces’ siege of that city.

      “It should be finished up tomorrow if not today,” Mr. Ibrahim added.

      Rebels in Misurata said that Qaddafi forces had so far appeared to hold back, though electricity, water and telecommunications remained severed a day after fighters held the town against an onslaught of tank and artillery fire. "

      link to

      Paul Miller, an assistant professor at National Defense University who served on the National Security Council under Bush and Obama. "The Rwandan genocide was targeted against an entire, clearly defined ethnic group," he wrote on the Foreign Policy website. "The Libyan civil war is between a tyrant and his cronies on one side, and a collection of tribes, movements, and ideologists (including Islamists) on the other. ...The first is murder, the second is war."

      Do you disagree?

    • Any "informed" comment, Juan?

      "Human Rights Watch has released data on Misurata, the next-biggest city in Libya and scene of protracted fighting, revealing that Moammar Khadafy is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government.

      Misurata’s population is roughly 400,000. In nearly two months of war, only 257 people — including combatants — have died there. Of the 949 wounded, only 22 — less than 3 percent — are women. If Khadafy were indiscriminately targeting civilians, women would comprise about half the casualties.

      Obama insisted that prospects were grim without intervention. “If we waited one more day, Benghazi . . . could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.’’ Thus, the president concluded, “preventing genocide’’ justified US military action.

      But intervention did not prevent genocide, because no such bloodbath was in the offing. To the contrary, by emboldening rebellion, US interference has prolonged Libya’s civil war and the resultant suffering of innocents."

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  • Fukushima Core Failure a Level 7 (the Worst)
    • A reminder that you got exactly what you voted for:


      Obama administration officials Monday brushed aside calls for a freeze on new U.S. nuclear power development, and sought to reassure the public the nation's nuclear facilities are safe and the threat of harmful radiation reaching U.S. soil from Japan is minimal."

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      Obama Took More Money From Nuclear Energy Execs Than Any Other '08 Candidate

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      "Mr Chu said that the administration will not withdraw the plan it has put forward in next year's Budget for another $36bn (£22bn) in government-guaranteed loans for companies trying to build new reactors. "

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  • Al-Sadr Threatens Mahdi Army Revival if US Troops Stay
    • Remember when you lambasted the Left for being "as nervous as a vegan in a butcher shop" and assuring us that there is "no cause for alarm"?


      COLE: "The new president forcefully rejected Bushian mission creep. Obama admitted, "We cannot rid Iraq of all who oppose America or sympathize with our adversaries. We cannot police Iraq's streets until they are completely safe, nor stay until Iraq's union is perfected." In other words, he is prepared to depart Iraq even if it remains somewhat divided, even if a drumbeat of subdued violence continues in its cities, and even if anti-Americanism retains a certain purchase on the population."

      link to


      COLE: "Muqtada’s threat was a shot across the bow of the Obama administration, which has shown interest in recent weeks in maintaining a US military presence in Iraq past the end of this year. Gareth Porter reports that the Obama team has been spooked by the widespread unrest in the Middle East and have reconsidered their determination to get out of Iraq on a short timetable."

      Although to be fair, Cole, you always were supportive of the Navy and Air Force staying in Iraq indefinitely:


      COLE: "It would be wrong to overlook these simple words: "And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011." Though the word "troops" referred to the Army and the Marines, not to the Air Force and Navy, what Obama said on Friday was a firm pledge to leave."

      Um... a pledge to leave the Navy and Air Force? Huh? That's withdrawal?!?

      COLE: "He was attempting to provide for an orderly withdrawal that will ensure that U.S. troops are not drawn back in by a subsequent security collapse."

      We were "drawn" into Invading? And we can be "drawn back" to occupation? Is this why the War Powers Act has become so irrelevant and "quaint"?


      COLE: "I’m not sure what the Obama administration thinks it would gain from staying in Iraq, but it is a very, very, bad idea. "

      Obviously they only want to protect democracy and defend civilians (like we are doing altruistically in Libya).

  • Japan Nuclear Threat, Libya Oil Crisis, Highlight Need for Renewable Energy
    • And in the USA, much thanks to "lesser" evilism and it's defenders:

      "It's ironic, but Obama could end up being the biggest pro-nuclear power president since Dwight Eisenhower," says Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a nuclear deterrence expert who served as deputy for nonproliferation policy in the Department of Defense from 1989-1993 under President George H.W. Bush."

      link to

      "President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget outlines a plan for reviving the country’s nuclear power industry, calling for $36 billion in government-backed loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors and setting aside more than $800 million for nuclear energy research."

      link to

      "Rahm Emanuel was a "key player" representing Unicom Corp., the parent of Commonwealth Edison, in forging its merger with Peco Energy Co. to create utility giant Exelon Corp. in 1999 when Goldman Sachs was also advising Unicom.[9]

      Exelon's Political Action Committee (PAC) is EXELONPAC.[10] The company is positioned to profit from "expensive carbon" and has been lobbying for cap and trade of carbon dioxide emissions.[11] Executives at the company have close ties to the Obama administration as advisors and fundraisers, and Obama's chief political strategist David Axelrod did consulting work for it.[11]"

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  • Arab League Requests UNSC to Impose No-Fly Zone
    • Juan wrote: "All the news sources are saying that the Arab League decision was unanimous in the end."


      "The Arab League vote for a no-fly zone was opposed only by Syria and Algeria, reports from the Cairo meeting said."

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  • Egypt's Unfinished Revolution: PM Shafiq Ousted
    • "Of all the protest movements in the Middle East this year, "

      You have failed to mention Iraq.

  • Qaddafi Son Incites Massacre of Protesters
    • "Analysts concur that any such operation would be complex. "

      And completely illegal without approval from the security council.

      The United Nations Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and, as such, plays a crucial role in contributing to security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area."

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      "Chapter VI of the United Nations Charter deals with peaceful settlement of disputes. It requires countries with disputes that could lead to war to first of all try to seek solutions through peaceful methods such as negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice." If these methods of alternative dispute resolution fail, then they must refer it to the UN Security Council. Under Article 35, any country is allowed to bring a dispute to the attention of the UN Security Council or the General Assembly. This chapter authorizes the Security Council to issue recommendations but does not give it power to make binding resolutions; those provisions are contained Chapter VII."

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  • Qaddafi invokes Phony Al-Qaeda Threat as he Massacres Protesters
    • COLE: "The Bush administration also tried to manipulate the public with constant fearmongering about al-Qaeda taking over the world, and fraudulently used the fringe group to justify its Iraq War."

      Just like how the Obama administration fraudulently uses the fringe group to justify its occupation of Afghanistan and its illegal wars against Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc...

      It's also just like how Maliki uses al-Qaeda to justify the Obama administration's illegal occupation of Iraq.

      "On Thursday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urged people not to join the protests for security reasons, and accused the protest organisers of being al-Qaeda insurgents and Saddam Hussein loyalists."

      link to

      "At least 13 people were killed in Iraq on Friday as tens of thousands defied an official curfew to join a nationwide "Day of Rage," echoing protests that have roiled the Middle East and North Africa since January."

      "Security forces used tear gas, sound bombs and at times live bullets to disperse the crowds."

      link to

      Good thing that:

      "Defense Secretary Gates told Congress he was “interested” in keeping “an additional presence” in Iraq past 2011."

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      "Iraq’s top military commander has said U.S. troops should stay until Iraq’s security forces can defend its borders — which he said could take until 2020."

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      "A Sadrist lawmaker said that Mr. Biden and the Americans were trying to find “alternatives” to the withdrawal agreement, adding that his party was not open to such reconsiderations. "

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  • Iraq Roiled by Protests, 2 Killed in Sulaimaniya
    • Protests in Iraq?

      Good thing there's always Article 27 of the SOFA.

      "Article 27
      Deterrence of Security Threats

      In order to strengthen security and stability in Iraq and to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and stability, the Parties shall work actively to strengthen the
      political and military capabilities of the Republic of Iraq to deter threats against its sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity, and its constitutional federal democratic system. To that end, the Parties agree as follows:

      In the event of any external or INTERNAL THREAT or aggression against Iraq that would violate its sovereignty, political independence, or territorial integrity, waters, airspace, its democratic system or its elected institutions, and upon request by the Government of
      Iraq, the Parties shall immediately initiate strategic deliberations and, as may be mutually agreed, the United States shall take appropriate measures, including diplomatic, economic, or military measures, or any other measure, to deter such a threat.

      The Parties agree to continue close cooperation in strengthening and maintaining military and security institutions and democratic political institutions in Iraq, including, as may be mutually agreed, cooperation in training, equipping, and arming the Iraqi Security Forces,
      in order to combat DOMESTIC and international terrorism and outlaw groups, upon request by the Government of Iraq."...

  • Wael Ghonim vs. Barack Obama: Change we Can Believe in, Yes we Can
    • "(Obama)is unwilling to buck the rich and powerful, even though they all opposed his run for the presidency. "

      They ALL opposed his run for presidency? Citation?

      Do you recall?

      University of California $1,591,395
      Goldman Sachs $994,795
      Harvard University $854,747
      Microsoft Corp $833,617
      Google Inc $803,436
      Citigroup Inc $701,290
      JPMorgan Chase & Co $695,132
      Time Warner $590,084
      Sidley Austin LLP $588,598
      Stanford University $586,557
      National Amusements Inc $551,683
      UBS AG $543,219
      Wilmerhale Llp $542,618
      Skadden, Arps et al $530,839
      IBM Corp $528,822
      Columbia University $528,302
      Morgan Stanley $514,881
      General Electric $499,130
      US Government $494,820
      Latham & Watkins $493,835

      link to

      Now compare this to McCain:

      Merrill Lynch $373,595
      Citigroup Inc $322,051
      Morgan Stanley $273,452
      Goldman Sachs $230,095
      JPMorgan Chase & Co $228,107
      US Government $208,379
      AT&T Inc $201,438
      Wachovia Corp $195,063
      UBS AG $192,493
      Credit Suisse Group $183,353
      PricewaterhouseCoopers $167,900
      US Army $167,820
      Bank of America $166,026
      Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher $159,596
      Blank Rome LLP $154,226
      Greenberg Traurig LLP $146,437
      US Dept of Defense $144,105
      FedEx Corp $131,974
      Bear Stearns $117,498
      Lehman Brothers $114,357

      link to

      Both men were bought by the rich and powerful. But the numbers don't lie. In this horse race, MORE bets were placed on Obama than McCain.

      "Tom Engelhardt puts it best regarding the administration: “It has shown itself to be weak, visibly fearful, at a loss for what to do, and always several steps behind developing events.”"

      It's absolutely bizarre to call his administration "weak, visibly fearful, at a loss for what to do" while they escalate the war in Afghanistan, occupy Iraq, build "enduring" bases, increase drone strikes, erode civil liberties, support faith-based initiatives, give tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy, deny climate change at the Cancun conference, protect BP, support dictatorships, endorse Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the "Jewish State" of Israel, support unlimited Executive power, continue CIA Renditions etc... I could go on, as I'm sure everyone is aware, because it's a very, very long list.

      It is a list that makes a complete mockery of this well-spun list of Obama's "accomplishments":

      link to

      So then why is it, that if Bush authorized Obama's assassination program he would have been called a power-mad dictator, yet Obama inexplicably gets called weak. That's an amazingly stark contrast.

      In truth, Obama shows weakness only on left-wing issues. He gets called weak for not supporting things he never really supported in the first place like with single payer (despite his rhetoric) or prosecuting warcrimes. And when he's not showing weakness on progressive issues, he is actively working against them, like on the recent vote to extend provisions of the Patriot Act or his support of Omar Suleiman.

      On right-wing issues he is actually a strong, decisive, and bold president.

      When Bush administration figures agree with people like Chomsky and Nader that in terms of policy there is a near-perfect continuity between Bush and Obama, it's time to stop making excuses for him.

  • Foreseeing Egypt's Unrest
    • "Obama should not take Egypt for granted, but rather should have some subtle and culturally informed contingency plans if its politics abruptly opens up. "

      Yeah, Omar Suleiman. How subtle.

  • 5 Year Old Child Heads Demo in Alexandria Egypt
    • More about Suleiman by Stephen Soldz:

      "Shortly after 9/11, Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib was captured by Pakistani security forces and, under US pressure, torture by Pakistanis. He was then rendered (with an Australian diplomats watching) by CIA operatives to Egypt, a not uncommon practice. In Egypt, Habib merited Suleiman's personal attention. As related by Richard Neville, based on Habib's memoir:

      Habib was interrogated by the country's Intelligence Director, General Omar Suleiman.... Suleiman took a personal interest in anyone suspected of links with Al Qaeda. As Habib had visited Afghanistan shortly before 9/11, he was under suspicion. Habib was repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks.

      That treatment wasn't enough for Suleiman, so:

      To loosen Habib's tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib - and he did, with a vicious karate kick.

      After Suleiman's men extracted Habib's confession, he was transferred back to US custody, where he eventually was imprisoned at Guantanamo. His "confession" was then used as evidence in his Guantanamo trial."

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  • Mubarak's Response to Demand for end of Military Rule
    • Juan: "the cable gives the activists no chance of success."

      The article clearly shows that your statement is factually incorrect. Please read past the part you referred to:

      "Ambassador Scobey questioned whether such an “unrealistic” plot could work, or ever even existed. HOWEVER, the documents showed that the activist had been approached by US diplomats and RECEIVED EXTENSIVE SUPPORT for his pro-democracy campaign from officials in Washington. The embassy helped the campaigner attend a “summit” for youth activists in New York, which was organised by the US State Department.

      Cairo embassy officials warned Washington that the activist’s identity must be kept secret because he could face “retribution” when he returned to Egypt. He had already allegedly been tortured for three days by Egyptian state security after he was arrested for taking part in a protest some years earlier. "

      Juan: "not that they were actively trying to overthrow Mubarak;"

      "It said the activist claimed “several opposition forces” had “agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections”. The embassy’s source said the plan was “so sensitive it cannot be written down”. "

      "The documents released by WikiLeaks reveal US Embassy officials were in regular contact with the activist throughout 2008 and 2009, considering him one of their most reliable sources for information about human rights abuses."

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  • Mubarak Turns to Military for Support
    • "Despite President Barack Obama’s call for greater personal liberties and restoration of internet access in Egypt, it is clear that Washington would just as soon Mubarak presided over a transition to his successor. "

      The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

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  • Over 9,000 Murders by Gun in US; 39 in UK
    • Yes, but you are implying a direct causality.
      For example, the United States has the world's highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics. It's 4 times higher than Germany, 13 times higher than England, and 20 times higher than Japan. This is also a "stark, telling number" but there is no simple causality to explain it away.

      So the discrepancy in the gun-murder rate might also be cultural, instead of merely being an issue of gun control.

  • DOJ Subpoenas Twitter Account of Wikileaks Volunteer and now Iceland MP
    • "If Twitter complies with this order without a legal battle (and Jonsdottir will wage her own), then in my view it should make us all rethink mortgaging our liberties to American social media, "


      "over the long term"

      So... Your threat is impotent?

      Did you catch Zuckerberg's interview with Bush in Palo Alto? If that wasn't enough to make you drop FB, then what about their new partnership with Goldman Sachs?

    • Please note, Obama never fully banned torture/"enhanced interrogation".

      On January 22, 2009 Obama restricted interrogations to the Army Field Manuel,
      "unless the Attorney General with appropriate consultation provides further guidance."

      Is that a ban? No.

      Would the public be notified if Holder allowed Obama to torture someone? As far as I know, there is no law to compel them to inform the public.

      Also, Appendix M of the manual contain techniques which "may not be employed on detainees covered by Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, primarily enemy prisoners of war." Most of these techniques could be described as stress and duress or "separation" methods (which are in fact quite similar to what is currently being done to Bradley Manning).

      "The President of the National Lawyers Guild Marjorie Cohn has stated that portions of the AFM protocol, especially the use of isolation and prolonged sleep deprivation, constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is illegal under the Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Hina Shamsi, an attorney with the ACLU's National Security Project, has stated that portions of the AFM are "deeply problematic" and "would likely violate the War Crimes Act and Geneva," and at the very least "leave the door open for legal liability." Physicians for Human Rights and the Constitution Project have publicly called for the removal of problematic and abusive techniques from the AFM."

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  • Iraq has a Government: Can we Please Come Home Now?
    • "Iraq has a Government: Can we Please Come Home Now?"

      Come home NOW? Out NOW? How disingenuous.

      "Now" is not "a year from now", nor is it "three years after the SOFA".

      Nowhere in your post do you actually advocate for ending the war "now". And as you well know, the SOFA does not mean Iraq will "muddle through on its own". Because, as you said yourself, "In the end [post 2011], a very small force may remain, of trainers, special operations, and air force" and because Iraq "has no air force to speak of, and the US will be providing the air support until at least 2018."

      Also, who will be guarding our fortress/embassy? Will our network of 50+ "enduring bases" be devoid of all US troops? How many contractors? How many special ops?

      Not to mention statements by Maliki:

      "Iraqi Prime Minister Open to Renegotiating Withdrawal Timeline"

      link to

      And Gates:

      “I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see agreements between ourselves and the Iraqis that continue a train, equip, and advise role beyond the end of 2011.” - Gates

      link to

      Despite your best hopes and predictions, I'm still under the impression that what you actually mean is:

      "Iraq has a Government: Can we Please Come Home in 2011 except for the forces that stay for air support, training, advisory positions, special forces, counter-terrorism operations and those which simply re-deploy to neighboring countries".

      You oppose (and have opposed since 2005) "out now", but have written favorably about the Bush-negotiated/Obama-implemented SOFA. Am I mistaken?

      Of course, I don't want to put words in your mouth, so I'll just quote you:

      "Personally, I think “US out now” as a simple mantra neglects to consider the full range of possible disasters that could ensue." - 08/22/05

      “the issue is not so much the rate at which the United States withdraws from Iraq. “ - 03/17/09

      "Some Iraq war critics are fretting about Obama's speech on Friday, and his plan to stay a little longer. But here's why there's no reason for alarm. "[...]
      "It would be wrong to overlook these simple words: "And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011." Though the word "troops" referred to the Army and the Marines, NOT TO THE AIRFORCE and NAVY [em. added], what Obama said on Friday was a firm pledge to leave." - 03/02/09

  • Iraq Arrests Dozens in Terror Sweep, Offers Help to Iran
    • "Washington Police arrested 135 of the protesters, in what is being called the largest mass detention in recent years. Among those arrested were Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who used to provide the president’s daily briefings, Daniel Ellsberg, who released the government’s Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration, and Chris Hedges, former war correspondent for the New York Times.

      No major US news media reported on the demonstration or the arrests. It was blacked out of the New York Times, blacked out of the Philadelphia Inquirer, blacked out in the Los Angeles Times, blacked out of the Wall Street Journal, and even blacked out of the capital’s local daily, the Washington Post, which apparently didn't even think it was a local story worth publishing."

      - Dave Lindorff

      link to

      No comment?

  • The Costs of War: Afghan Civilian Casualties Spike, says ICRC
  • Enormous Truck Bomb Kills 6 US Troops in Afghanistan as Constitutional Crisis Looms
    • Thank you for posting the link. However, I was actually more interested if you had a response to it. In any case, I do understand that you are very busy.

      Also, I was happy to see that Michael Moore has decided support the protest on his blog.

    • I'm wondering, Prof.Cole, if you have a response to this open letter signed by people like Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Cornell West, and Cindy Sheehan (to name but a few) and addressed to the "Left Establishment":

      link to

      "We are writing to you because you are well-known writers, bloggers and filmmakers with access to a range of old and new media, and you have in your power the capacity to help reignite the movement which brought millions onto the streets in February of 2003 but which has withered ever since. There are many thousands of progressives who follow your work closely and are waiting for a cue from you and others to act. We are asking you to commit yourself to actively supporting the protests of Obama administration policies which are now beginning to materialize.

      In this connection we would like to mention a specific protest: the civil disobedience action being planned by Veterans for Peace involving Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Joel Kovel, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern, several armed service veterans and others to take place in front of the White House on Dec. 16th."

  • The Karzai Problem in Afghanistan: Wikileaks
  • Karzai and the Iranian Slush Pile
    • It seems much more likely that the Taliban's success against Ahmad Shah Masoud was more due to our man in Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, than the amorphous "al Qaeda".

      "The 055 brigade numbers at least 500 men. "
      "it has no heavy artillery or other heavy weapons"
      link to

      Ahmad Shah Masoud "personally commanded around 10,000 of the UIF's estimated formerly 40,000 troops. Massoud's were the most disciplined and the best trained troops within the UIF"
      link to

      "Pervez Musharraf - then as Chief of Army Staff - was responsible for sending scores of regular Pakistani army troops to fight alongside the Taliban and Bin Laden against Ahmad Shah Massoud.[2][10] Some sources estimate that about 3.000 Pakistani army soldiers had been deployed alongside the Taliban in just one of the major battles.[11] In total there were believed to be 28 000 Pakistani nationals fighting alongside the Taliban. American journalist Sebastian Junger who frequently travels to war zones stated in March 2001: "They [the Taliban] receive a tremendous amount of support by Pakistan. ... without that involvement by Pakistan the Taliban would really be forced to negotiate ..."
      link to

  • On Paladino and Taking People Out
    • Do you not recall Obama trying to out-hawk McCain on escalating the Afghan War, Prof?

      "When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and made clear that we must TAKE OUT Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights."

      link to

  • Dispute over Civilian Casualties Roils US-Afghan Relations
    • Very good points, the wounded are too often ignored.
      Also, apart from civilian casualties, there's the unspeakable issue of self defense. If one accepts that the violence against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan is legitimate; then this is a non-issue. But if one argues that these are illegal wars of aggression, then the "insurgent" casualties should also be cause for alarm. Apparently, Afghans, Iraqis, and Pakistanis have no right to resist a foreign invasion. Yet when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the USA did not call the Kuwaitis who fought back "insurgents".

  • Mosque Building and Gay Marriage vs. Mob Rule by the Right
    • Your argument makes no sense. Christians do not own the word nor the institution of marriage. Neither did Christianity invent the concept of marriage. This is about one issue: equal treatment under the law.

      The legal term of "marriage" needs to be applied equally. By no means would this infringe on the rights of Christians or hetrosexuals. No one is attempting to void hetrosexual marriages. Prop. 8 proponents were seeking to void only gay marriages and it failed in court because it could not prove any harm in allowing gays to marry. Moral outrage at the lifestyle of another person is not actual harm with any legal standing. If it was, we'd all be targets for someone. It would be chaos.

      If gays are to have "civil unions", then that should be the legal term for ALL marriages. So that in addition to civil unions, if some people want to have ceremonial "Christian marriages" for heterosexuals only in their churches, that's fine (although they should loose their tax-exempt status).

    • COLE: "The right wing argues that Muslims and gays should give up their rights in deference to the moral sensibilities and emotional sensitivities of the majority. "

      Admittedly, republicans are worse on this issue than the majority of democrats. But it's far from the clean divide you imply in your post (through the omission of mentioning democratic support for bigoted policies). Many democrats, including President Obama, continues to oppose same-sex marriage on moral grounds (although they will support civil unions, i.e. "separate but equal"). And where is the "promised" end to DADT that Obama could have done by executive order on his first day in office?

      Also, it's worth noting that Judge Walker happens to be a republican who was appointed by Reagan.

  • Israeli and Lebanese Armies Trade Fire; at least 4 Dead
    • COLE: "President Obama doesn’t want another Israel-Lebanon war (unlike his predecessors, who never met a war they didn’t like)."

      I only want to clarify that Obama in fact SUPPORTED Israel's war against Lebanon (exactly like his predecessors).

      Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) delivered the following remarks on Israel, Iran, Iraq and the Middle East to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Forum held on March 2, 2007 in Chicago, Illinois.

      "Israel Must Freely Defend Itself When Attacked
      And when Israel is attacked, we must stand up for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself.
      Last summer, Hezbollah attacked Israel. By using Lebanon as an outpost for terrorism, and innocent people as shields, Hezbollah has also engulfed that entire nation in violence and conflict, and threatened the fledgling movement for democracy there.
      That’s why we have to press for enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which demands the cessation of arms shipments to Hezbollah, a resolution which Syria and Iran continue to disregard. Their support and shipment of weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas, which threatens the peace and security in the region, must end. "

      link to

      Barack Obama on the 2006 conflict in Lebanon
      link to

  • US Military Mission in Iraq ends not with a Bang but a Whimper
    • Mr. Cole, thanks for the reply. Perhaps this is a misunderstanding?

      I apologize for the length of my response, but hopefully my clarification negates the desire to "killfile" me. Although, I really can't see why that would be necessary in the first place. I am not a troll. I am sincere in my beliefs. I feel we can disagree without the need for censorship.

      I only presented three links. I never intended the links to represent "the whole story on McCain".
      If anything, my point is that his views on withdrawal lack consistency. He began his campaign with a platform of opposing a time-line and ended up supporting it.

      You said that, "In fact, McCain called what Obama committed to yesterday a ‘surrender’ and wanted to push out troop withdrawal to 2013."

      McCain gave many rhetorical speeches about "victory/surrender". But his main argument was that we can't withdraw on a "fixed time-line" that is not "conditions-based". His argument ignores that neither Bush nor Obama advocated doing so. The link you provided is actually the beginning of McCain's effort to reverse his position and to begin endorsing a "timetable" for withdrawal.

      This is because although McCain did oppose a time-line for much of 2008 (and certainly 2007), he was pressured to change his position when Maliki and the Bush administration announced their support for a "time horizon". This presented McCain with the difficult challenge of flip-flopping in the middle of campaign. Hence we eventually had Obama supporting a "time-line", Bush supporting a "time horizon", and McCain begrudgingly following suit by supporting a "timetable". At the time of the election, Obama and Bush had identical withdrawal plans. The sole difference was McCain's deadline to have all troops (minus embassy staff and advisers) out by the end of 2012 instead of the end of 2011 like Bush/Obama.

      So how did McCain defend himself against the issue of flip-flopping? He repeatedly distorted Obama's stance on withdrawal.

      In the first link you provided, McCain states,
      "But I do not believe that anyone should make promises as a candidate for President that they cannot keep if elected. To promise a withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, regardless of the calamitous consequences to the Iraqi people, our most vital interests, and the future of the Middle East"

      Although this is from April 7, 2008 when McCain still opposed the time-line, please note that his disagreement with the other candidates is over their promise to withdraw regardless of the "calamitous consequences" not over withdrawal itself. Yet, no one was actually supporting this position. McCain simply invented a straw-man he could knock down to distract from his own flip-flipping. Obama had clearly stated that he opposed a "fixed" time-line and only supported a "flexible" time-line which would be "conditions based" and that it would proceed only with the blessings of our "commanders on the ground".

      McCain often lied or distorted Obama's position:

      "BLITZER: Why do you think [Maliki] said that 16 months is basically a pretty good timetable?
      MCCAIN: He said it's a pretty good timetable based on conditions on the ground. I think it's a pretty good timetable, as we should -- or horizons for withdrawal. But they have to be based on conditions on the ground. This success is very fragile. It's incredibly impressive, but very fragile. So we know, those of us who have been involved in it for many years, know that if we reverse this, by setting a date for withdrawal, all of the hard-won victory can be reversed. "

      (Notice McCain's contradictory statement that he think the timetable is "pretty good" but doesn't support setting a date. Yet Obama/Bush aren't supporting a "fixed" withdrawal, so what does that even mean?)

      "Since announcing his campaign in 2007, the central premise of Barack Obama's candidacy was his commitment to begin withdrawing American troops from Iraq immediately," said Brian Rogers, a McCain spokesman. "Today, Barack Obama reversed that position proving once again that his words do not matter. He has now adopted John McCain's position that we cannot risk the progress we have made in Iraq by beginning to withdraw our troops immediately without concern for conditions on the ground." July 03 2008

      "John McCain supports reducing troop levels based on the conditions on the ground and the security of Iraq and if, and only if, that is consistent with a ‘time horizon’ then of course he would support that policy,”"
      link to

      Again, Obama/Bush weren't actually supporting a non-conditions-based withdrawal. His campaign had invented a straw-man that he could knock down to distract from his own flip flipping. Obama had already clearly stated that he onever supported a "fixed" time-line and only supported a "flexible" withdrawal which would be "conditions based" and that it would proceed only with the blessing of our "commanders on the ground". Just like McCain wanted!

      My reason for bringing all of this up, is that the record shows that McCain crafted his Iraq policy without consistency based on political expediency and public perception. In my view, all of this is worth mentioning if you are going to predict that "President McCain would almost certainly have subverted the schedule and tried to keep more troops, and more active combat troops, in Iraq than the Iraqi legislators wanted." I'm not saying that couldn't have happened. But it's also quite possible, given his many statements on withdrawal, that he would have adhered to the SOFA just like Obama. After all, Obama's original plan was to withdraw "all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months" but instead he followed the SOFA.

    • "McCain Backs Obama's Iraq Withdrawal Plan"
      link to

      "McCain says he could support 16-month Iraq timetable"
      link to

      "McCain Strongly Rejected Long-Term Iraq Presence: "Bring Them All Home"
      link to

  • Taliban influence Spreading in Afghanistan
    • "The Taliban are responsible for 61% of the civilian casualties in the past six months and more in the past month."

      Given the new revelations from Wikileaks that the US has been actively concealing civilians casualties in Afghanistan (caused both by us and the Taliban) and given the shoddy US methods for distinguishing "civilian" from "insurgent", and given that the US military refuses to publish comprehensive casualties figures, I would caution against believing these sort of claims (after all, the source for this claim comes straight from the ARM mid-year report). In my opinion, to publish the claim without linking to the source and without providing critical analysis is irresponsible. The US military is not known for being objective journalists.

  • The Closing of the Zionist Mind
    • COLE: "Zionism is just Israel nationalism. "

      Come again?

      "Zionism, the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel, advocated, from its inception, tangible as well as spiritual aims. "
      link to

      Of course, there were actually many types of Zionism, both secular and religious. There was even a small fraction of Zionists who suggested that Jews immigrate to Israel, but not to seek a "Jewish State". Unfortunately, this minority lost out, and the vast majority of Zionists came to believe that Jews must have sovereignty over Israel. This is the most integral aspect of modern Zionism. This form of Zionism does not allow for Israel to be controlled by non-Jews. Modern Israeli Zionism means that Israel must be a "Jewish State". Modern Israeli Zionism supports an essentially Biblical/mythological "right of return" for everyone even remotely "Jewish", yet no "right of return" for Palestinian refugees. That's pure bigotry.

      After the First Zionist Congress, Theodor Herzl wrote in his diary (September 1, 1897):
      “ Were I to sum up the Basle Congress in a word - which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly - it would be this: At Basle I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it."

      Israel nationalism (the good kind) should be "for all Israelis". It would make no sense to call it Zionism as it would have nothing to do with "Jewish" identity. There would be no "Jewish State". It would ONLY be about being Israeli.

  • Dems Souring on Afghan War as 25 Killed by Roadside Bomb in Nimroz
    • Wait, "Republican War"?

      Every single democrat except Barbara Lee voted for it.

      The Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (Pub.L. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224, enacted September 18, 2001):

      House: 420 Ayes, 1 Nay

      Senate: 98 Ayes, 0 Nays

      So they can support a war for nearly a decade, but in the event they ever vote against it, suddenly it will be a "Republican War"?

      Down the memory hole we go...

  • War is Theft: Pentagon cannot account for $8.6 Billion of Iraq's Reconstruction Funds
    • The Republican Party was "kidnapped and stealthily replaced with glaze-eyed Manchurian cultists"?

      Really? Somehow the word "Manchurian" conjures up a different image, you know, like of a presidential candidate...

      But I guess that kind of comment is too uninformed for the hopeful. It's too conspiratorial. After all, Republicans conspire, not Democrats. And Democrats certainly don't conspire with Republicans.

  • 40 Killed in Bombings of Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq;
    Constitutional Crisis Unfolds
    • So the context of McCain's quote was that there's no point being against the Iraq war because it's over.
      Maybe McCain meant something like:
      "Well, again, I’m not so worried about the timetable for withdrawals."

  • Beck Subtext: Obama Planning to Assassinate Tea Partiers
    • Juan,
      I doubt there is a single Glen Beck or Sarah Palin supporter who reads your blog. Why waste so many posts refuting them?
      It's getting dull watching you shoot fish in a barrel.

  • Rethinking Rethinking Afghanistan, Pt. 1
    • Rethinking Afghanistan:

      "Mr. (Robert) Greenwald, who has produced documentaries about Wal-Mart and war profiteers, said the film represented a “less incendiary” approach influenced by liberal concerns that he not attack Mr. Obama directly.

      “We lost funding from liberals who didn’t want to criticize Obama,” he said. “It’s been lonely out there.”


  • Advice for General Petraeus on the Rules of Engagement:
    It’s Neither/Nor, Not Either/Or
    • Didn't Engelhardt enthusiastically endorse Obama even AS Obama was promising to escalate the Afghan War? I'm glad he came to his senses.

  • Was Amiri a Double Agent who Hyped Iran's Nukes?
    • "He implausibly maintains that he was kidnapped by the CIA in Mecca and held in the US against his will."

      On what basis is this more implausible? This theory makes more sense than defecting without his family or taking the reward money, then saying he was kidnapped and leaving. You act like the US does not practice extraordinary rendition.

      "A second-tier country is in little danger of invasion or occupation on the part of the Great Powers in the 21st century if it only has conventional weapons. "
      21st century: What about Yemen? Somalia? Haiti? Why ignore the 20st century? See link.

      link to

      "where those rogue states appear to go for broke in constructing a nuclear weapon, they become vulnerable to direct military intervention by one of the Great Powers. The major case here is Iraq. "
      This make no sense, as you completely ignore that Iraq was an ally when they were constructing their nuclear program and that we assisted them (along with many other countries) in developing it. Iraq only became a "rogue state" after the invasion of Kuwait (which many believe, due to April Glapsie's comments, was a set-up. Read: link to

      "Fully nuclear-armed second-tier powers are also safe from invasion and occupation, since they already have a nuclear weapon. Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea fall in this category."
      This contradicts your previous argument, because when they were "rogue states appearing to go for broke in constructing a nuclear weapon", nothing happened. In fact, in the case of India, they were eventually rewarded: link to And for Israel,well...

      Israel was rewarded with full nuclear cooperation,
      "Israel’s Army Radio reported on Wednesday that the United States has sent Israel a secret document committing to nuclear cooperation between the two countries."
      link to

      As for Pakistan, didn't we invade and bomb them after they got their nuke?
      link to
      link to
      link to

      And it would make no sense to say that it's not war/occupation in Pakistan because we have the support of their government, unless you apply the same logic to Afghanistan and Iraq. Which would be absurd.

      "And what if the Iranians fail to scare the US but rather spook the Obama administration into confrontation?"
      Read Obama's speech to AIPAC about Iran (link to He has already threatened them, just like Bush, and has been doing so for years. It is highly propagandist to even suggest that the US could be "spooked" (an ironic word) by Iran. They are no threat to our safety. We only threaten their safety. What are we expecting? Iranian "Red Dawn"?

      "So he lied about his country’s having destroyed most WMD by that point"
      But Saddam did not lie to the UN or UNSCOM or ISG. That's crucial.
      "He would say he had no WMDs to some and say that he did to others."
      The "others" being his regional enemies.
      Right before the invasion, Iraq delivered its declaration on weapons of mass destruction programs to the U.N. on Dec. 8. Made up of almost 11,800 pages,

      "Although the report was prepared for the United Nations, U.S.
      officials intercepted the report, edited out 8,000 pages
      (link to (over two thirds) of it, and
      delivered its Reader's Digest version of the report to the UN.

      It was dismissed out-of-hand as lies, without objection from yet hindsight proves it was accurate.

      A German reporter managed to obtain a copy of the original report from
      Iraq, and then compared it with the truncated copy
      (link to the U.S. gave
      to the UN. He found that the missing parts covered the Iraqis'
      acquisition of chemical and biological weapons from the U.S., the
      delivery of non-fissionable materials for a nuclear bomb by the U.S.
      to the Iraqis, and the training of Iraqi nuclear scientists at U.S.
      nuclear facilities in Los Alamos, Sandia, and Berkeley.

      UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said the conclusions stated in the
      report were basically true — that Iraq no longer had dangerous weapons.

      Scott Ritter said, "One of the tragic ironies of the decision to invade Iraq is that
      the Iraqi WMD declaration required by security council resolution
      1441, submitted by Iraq in December 2002, and summarily rejected by
      Bush and Blair as repackaged falsehoods, now stands as the most
      accurate compilation of data yet assembled regarding Iraq's WMD
      programs (more so than even Duelfer's ISG report, which contains much
      unsubstantiated speculation)."

      Where were the objections from the ISG at this time?

      Let's also not forget that Charles A. Duelfer was chosen by Tenet and was a dual employee of the ISG and CIA. The ISG's mission was never objective or independent, though they did want a CIA-based assessment of Iraq's WMD's due to the turf-war with with Cheney's OSP. They just couldn't interfere with the war itself. Because the war was going to happen, the inspections were irrelevant. Right after the invasion, David Kay had just quit, saying ""I think there were stockpiles at the end of the first Gulf War and a combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them." Rather than actually use this conclusion, the charade of inspections was allowed to continue. What choice did they have since we'd just occupied Iraq. It was just PR, "we haven't found WMD's but we're still looking". Charles A. Duelfer continued the mock exercise in weapons inspections just long enough to say that David Kay was indeed correct. By then, it was 2005. The war was raging. Charles A. Duelfer left to become the Special Advisor to the CEO of Omnis Inc. and therefore a war profiteer.

      Here's an example of how un-neutral the ISG was,
      "In late 2004 the ISG and the MCTs (mobile collection teams) undertook some counterinsurgency operations, although many details remain classified. There were other missions and organizations operating within the ISG which are Top Secret and are unlikely to be declassified anytime soon."

      Now, Charles A. Duelfer is working his magic on Iran.

      "Mr. DUELFER: Well, Neal, this is a problem. There's a long track record with respect to Iran of lying, where they have been concealing things. And I would point to a similarity with Iraq in this case, where for many years the Iraqis were lying to the weapons inspectors, and it got the point where even when they were telling the truth, no one was prepared to believe them. And if Iran continues down the path that it has been on for the last almost two decades, the same situation could arise, and it really becomes a tough problem to know the truth.
      CONAN: And does the suggestion that IAEA - International Atomic Energy Agency -U.N. inspectors visit this newly revealed facility near Qom - does that give you confidence?
      Mr. DUELFER: Well, it doesn't give me a lot of confidence that we're going to get to the bottom of the Iranian program just by allowing the inspectors into this site. "

      It always amazes me how he manages to make a country look so threatening while saying "well, we're really not sure".

      link to

  • Libyan Aid Ship Extracts Concessions from Israel;
    Resumption of House Demolitions in Jerusalem
    • "blockades that primarily punish civilian populations are illicit on their face and cooperating with them is against the law."

      Also true for the US blockades of Cuba and North Korea (and our sanctions against Iraq in the 90's).

  • Global Warming and al-Qaeda in the Greater Indian Ocean
    • The climate bill expands support for cap and trade, coal power, nuclear power ($54 billion in loan guarantees!) , and off-shore drilling. It is not the climate bill we need. This is a betrayal (just like in Copenhagen).

  • Erdogan vows that Turkey will not Let Israel Get away with Flotilla Attack
    • "Or, Erdogan speculated, perhaps press reports about the Obama-Netanyahu love fest were inaccurate (i.e. behind the scenes Obama may have actually read Netanyahu the riot act about the assault on the Gaza aid flotilla)."

      Wait, people are again imagining that Obama stands for the exact opposite of the policies he is actually implementing? Are we that close to election time?

  • Odierno: Kurdish-Arab Fighting may Require UN Force in post-American Iraq
    • "(And yes, the civilian contractors supporting the military will come out as well)."

      What is your source for this claim?

  • Turkey Threatens Israel with cut-off of Diplomatic Relations
    • "“Netanyahu will likely offer Obama more of these essentially phony peace moves in Washington.”

      And Obama's reply was...?

      "The United States is committed to Israel's security," Obama said as the two leaders addressed reporters in the Oval Office. "We are committed to that special bond. And we are going to do what's required to back that up, not just with words, but with actions."

  • On Fourth of July, Let Iraq Go
    • "Obama stuck to his guns, and the US soldiers stopped patrolling the cities independently on June 30, 2009. "

      The SOFA orders that "all US combat forces shall be withdrawn from Iraqi cities". The issue of "independent patrols" arises only because of Article 27 of the SOFA which basically says that whenever Iraq is facing any "internal or external threat" the Iraqi government can ask the US to militarily come to it's aid, even if it violates the rest of the SOFA. It's a huge loophole. But if the spirit of the SOFA (and indeed it's literal requirement) is that "all US combat forces shall be withdrawn from Iraqi cities", then it is an extremely cynical ploy to re-brand these as "Iraqi patrols" when that may consist of only a single Iraqi with a group of US combat troops doing a "combat patrol".

      Also, shouldn't "US forces" include US-funded mercenaries and Special Ops? How many are left? How many will stay?

      "Bush was not authorized by the Iraqi people to destroy the country. "
      Right. Also, neither Bush or Obama were authorized by the Iraqi people to occupy their country. If you feel Obama has been invited to be an occupier by Maliki, then you have to make the same argument for Bush. But it's like saying Diem asked us to stay in S. Vietnam.

      "the monthly death toll of civilians and security forces averages 300-400 now, compared to 2500 a month in summer of 2006."
      These are very low figures. Is this your official rejection of the Lancet Study?

      "the Obama administration should withdraw in a systematic and deliberate manner from Iraq."
      As you pointed out, Obama's plan for redeployment is identical to the Bush negotiated SOFA. Announcing in 2008 that the occupation would automatically continue til 2012 (maybe longer, who knows?) and calling it "ending the war" is ridiculous. This war began in 2003, upon election Obama declared he would continue it for nearly as long as it had already been going. And that's acceptable to everyone?

      "It is true that the 50,000 or so troops that will be left in Iraq as of September may not all be ‘non-combat’ units, since there will be some rebranding. And it is true that Iraq will need the US air force for years to come, for logistics purposes. But to say that the timetable will be tinkered with at the request of the Iraqi parliament in any major way is wishful thinking."

      Then it seems the tinkering is pre-planned. Because if they are re-branded combat troops then the requirement has no meaning. If we are still bombing ("logistics purposes") Iraq beyond the end of 2011 then clearly the occupation will not have ended. With these loopholes built into the SOFA, what tinkering is necessary?

      Finally, Mr Cole, why did you not also call for a withdrawal from Afghanistan and Pakistan? Why only Iraq? Could you explain? Thanks.

  • Steele blames Obama for Afghanistan, Defends Iraq War
    • You're right, Catherine.
      This is America's "longest war" so we can't "pull troops out just like that".
      This is "a nonsense war. This is a war that made no sense whatsoever from the beginning. A war that has claimed thousands and thousands of live for nothing."
      That's obviously why we need to keep fighting this war. To fulfill our mission. Which is to be at war. We can't stop now. "We have to finish what was started". No matter how illegal, immoral, or lethal.

  • 7 NATO Troops Killed;
    as Karzai is Said to Dicker with Insurgents;
    and Panetta Scoffs
    Taliban Rejoice in McChrystal Firing
    • "And since in a democracy, young men fight on behalf of we the people, "

      Sure, but since we're Americans, the question is what do men and women fight for in a plutocracy?

      Gen. Smedly Butler "I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. "

      As true today as it was then.

  • Top Ten News that is Not News
    • Here's another one to go with #2

      "Obama officials still approving flawed Gulf drilling plans"

      link to

      "According to MMS records, since June 2 the agency has granted environmental exemptions — known as "categorical exclusions" — to three new drilling projects. Of those, an Exxon Mobil site at a water depth of 1,000 feet and a Marathon Oil site at 775 feet are classified as deepwater; the third is a shallow-water project by Houston-based Rooster Petroleum."

      ""At no point did any of the moratoriums cease the use of (categorical exclusions)," Suckling said. "They're cueing up all these drilling projects with no environmental review, so they're just sitting at the starting line" until the ban ends."

  • Lessons of Petraeus' Iraq for Petraeus' Afghanistan
    • Prof. Cole, do you support an immediate withdrawal from both occupations? I've read that you generally support the Bush/Obama SOFA for Iraq and believe that the re-deployment is "track". Is a force level of 50,000 US "non-combat" forces and 100,000+ contractors in Iraq till 2012 (or likely beyond) acceptable to you? What about there being no consequences or even mention of the extreme illegality of the war, either by our own government, the UN, or the people of Iraq?

      With Afghanistan, you seem focused on strategy for continuing the occupation. Do you support (an immediate withdrawal)? Or do you favor staying to prop up Karzai's government? For how long?

      I think it's clear that Obama/Bush concealed the reality of the afghan mission from the public, telling them we were chasing the al Qaeda boogieman when we were in some cases doing the exact opposite (Sen. Kerry's report on Bin Laden's escape from Tora Bora, or recent reports that we are paying the Taliban not to attack our convoys, for instance). If you wish to stay in Afghanistan (as I suspect you might since you supported the initial invasion right here on your blog) how would you define the current mission?

  • McChrystal Drama is Sideshow;
    Can Obama define a realistic Goal?
    • "Obama needs to define an attainable goal in Afghanistan and then execute it swiftly. "

      If it's withdrawal, fine. Coming up with a reason to be at war, after the war has already become America's "longest war", is pure insanity.
      Obama's goals are the same as Bush's goals, and they have nothing to do with fighting "al Qaeda". If they did, why did Bush refuse multiple offers by the Taliban to turn over Bin Laden? If they did, why is Obama ignoring his own military's assessment that the number of "al Qaeda" fighters in Afghanistan is less than 500 people.

      "The real reason for this contretemps is that Obama does not have a realistic, sharply defined set of goals in Afghanistan"

      I disagree. The occupation is the mission. The mission is to stay and build bases, expand the military's role in the region, and "grow the economy" for military contractors. But, clearly, that's not a mission they can sell to the public.

  • Obama's MacArthur Moment? McChrystal Disses Biden
    • So the military is also calling the shots on financial reform, health care, civil liberties, education, and environmental policy? Because Obama mirrors Bush in those ways as well. Obama's policies are neoconservative policies. That makes him a neocon. Stop apologizing.

  • Israel Makes Small Change to Gaza Blockade
    Brands Lebanese Women's Aid Mission 'Hizbullah'
    • Oops, I forgot about this one time in 2008,

      link to

      But still...

    • Why do you suppose that Americans are willing to shut down a port to protest the (agreeably murderous and illegal) actions of Israel, yet they won't for any of America's (murderous and illegal) ongoing wars/occupations/special operations? In fact, most Americans won't even attend an anti-war protest in a park, on the weekend, one day out of the year (for the past decade). What gives?

  • A Sign of Modernization: Saudi Clerics Promote Kinship by Sharing Breast Milk
    • Setting textual issues aside, as an atheist, what surprises me is that no one seems to question why an an omnipotent God would care if you covered your head or not (and this, of course, applies to all religions with this requirement, not just Islam). It seems superficial and random, more like attire used for the purposes of tribal self-segregation (yarmulke) or (with regard to Islam) enforcing gender-roles. But I guess the whole point of faith is not to ask questions, certainly not "tell me again, why are we supposed to do this? God want us to wear hats? Really? Well, okay..."

      Also, Juan, your headline conjures up an entirely different image than what is contained in the article.

  • Insurgents Kill 10 NATO Troops;
    Afghanistan Condemns Israel
    • I'm ardently against the Afghan occupation. But "worse than Vietnam" is ridiculous. That war killed over 6 million in South East Asia, and things like land mines and toxic chemicals are still killing and maiming people to this day. Even calling it a longer war is really just a game of semantics because, obviously, our earlier "advisers" were quite a bit more than that (not to mention our support for the French).

  • "Peace is Terror, Protest is Terror"
    - The Israeli Ministry of Truth
    • "the Bush administration placed many peace workers on the no-fly list. "
      The list is still there. My understanding is that it is expanding (i.e. via the new "intelligence-based" profiling).
      Has Obama taken peace workers off the list? Is this still happening or not?

  • Historic UNSC Condemnation of Israel, and of Gaza Blockade;
    World Body Demands release of Aid Activists, Ships
    • If you oppose collective punishment for the Palestinians, then why do you support the collective punishment of Israelis? Do two wrongs make a right?

      Many Israelis and American Jews support a more peaceful engagement with the Palestinians (see J-Street) . Why do you seek to lump them all together with the actions of the Israeli far-right? It would be like boycotting all of America for the actions of Bush, while ignoring the significance of people like Obama or Kucinich or the entire anti-war movement.

      If you need evidence of the diversity of opinions in Israel go read today's edition of Haaretz. If anything Americans should view this as an opportunity to forge a stronger bond with more moderate forces in Israeli society.

    • Can you even imagine Bush or McCain endorsing the UNSC statement? Not in a million years.

      Obama can't transform our entire relationship with Israel overnight. But he is pursing a long-term strategy to improve our relations with Israel by appealing to moderate forces within their government (think J-Street instead of AIPAC). To simply condemn them at this point (with the whole world against them) could risk the blowback of shutting down lines of diplomacy that must remain open if anyone really cares about a two-state solution or Gaza. The situation with the flotilla is best addressed calmly after the crisis with reasonable objectives that might actually be implemented (like convincing the Israelis to lift the siege or to stop building settlements).

      Having Obama join the world in demonizing Israel might satisfy some people's need for an emotional response, but speaking more pragmatically, it could be counterproductive and disastrous to the Palestinian people. Obama is smarter than that. He knows what he's doing.

  • World Condemns Brutal Israeli Assault on Humanitarian Convoy
    • Juan provides the evidence you requested in today's post. "Harshest terms"? He calls it "brutal". You would never hear this from Bush or McCain.

      "In a rare public denunciation of Israel, the United Nations Security Council on Monday condemned the Israeli raid on the Gaza aid flotilla and deplored the loss of innocent life that attended it. The world body insisted that Israel immediately release the 480 humanitarians it had taken captive, and demanded that it also let their ships go. The UNSC also instructed Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, calling the siege “not sustainable.” Although the statement was weaker than the text urged by Turkey and the Arab world, it was brutal compared to the anodyne language usually insisted upon by Washington when it comes to Israel."

      Juan Cole June 1, 2010

    • Cole: "Everyone from the UN Secretary-General to the Pope came down hard on the Israeli government. "
      For those who foolishly believe that Obama is pursuing the same relationship with Israel as Bush did or McCain would have, please note that Obama has condemned this attack in the harshest terms. This event even forced Netanyahu to cancel his visit to the White House (or perhaps Obama told him he wasn't welcome, hmmm...).

      "The president expressed deep regret at the loss of life in today's incident, and concern for the wounded," the White House said in a summary of Obama's phone call with Netanyahu.
      Obama has also immediately called for an investigation.
      "The president also expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning's tragic events as soon as possible,."
      Netanyahu can't be happy about that.

  • McCain on Offshore Drilling, 2008
    • Wow. Make sure to watch the entire clip. You could not ask for a better illustration of the difference between Obama and McCain. It's a great reminder of how much worse this disaster would have been if we'd had a president who was gung-ho in favor of expanding offshore drilling and nuclear power, rather than expanding support for green technologies and energy independence.
      As Obama said, "we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good". Perhaps the government's response has not been "perfect" (hindsight being 20/20) but it certainly has at least been "good" considering what they are dealing with. For those who wish to criticize Obama instead of BP, stop and consider what we would be dealing with if McCain or Bush was President.

  • "This Scares Everybody" says BP:
    Top Kill Fails, Imperils Gulf;
    "There are no Solar Spills"
    • "Obama has played right into their hands, appearing to shoulder some of the responsibility (ie blame)"

      What I fear most is that republicans will cynically exploit this event to hurt democrats in the next elections. We must remember that this spill was not caused by environmentalists or liberals or democrats or even Obama. It is BP's fault and it is the fault of republicans who spent decades undermining environmental legislation that would have prevented this from ever happening. The democrats have spent year after year proposing green technologies only to have them scuttled by republicans. The only thing that seems more terrifying than this oil slick is the thought of a President Palin. Imagine her in charge of handling this mess...
      We can't let that happen. Obama needs our support now more than ever!

    • I am so glad that Obama is in charge and not Bush or McCain. This disaster could have been much worse if the government had not been taking charge from day one. People should not blame the president for BP's catastrophe.

  • Mercy Flotilla for Gaza About to Set Off
    Israelis Threaten to Block it with War Ships
    • "You think that Israel is bad now? Well, wait to see what happens if they feel that their back is against the wall. "

      US citizens should keep paying for Israeli war crimes? Is that your plan?

    • Cole: "But what they are doing constitutes a war crime in international law."

      Obama and Congress are actively funding and supporting these war crimes.

      Some would argue (like Chomsky) that without US support Israel could not commit these war crimes.

  • Petraeus Memo Widens scope of US Military Covert Operations in ME
    • 180 degree turn? Did you sleep through his Senate career and presidential campaign?

      If I say there "no conflict between upholding our laws and our security" and then vote for retroactive immunity for telecoms who spied illegally on Americans, what does that tell you? He refused/refuses to prosecute any official for approving torture, what does that tell you? He refused/refuses to call the Iraq War a criminal war of aggression, what does that tell you?

      Perhaps you should have studied candidate Obama more thoroughly. Senator Obama was a necon . He didn't just turn into one on day one of his presidency.

  • Taliban Attack Qandahar Airfield; Parliament goes on Strike
    • "America does not fight for the sake of fighting. We abhor war. As one who has never experienced the field of battle - and I say that with humility, knowing, as General MacArthur said, "the soldier above all others prays for peace" - we fight because we must. We fight to keep our families and communities safe. We fight for the security of our allies and partners, because America believes that we will be safer when our friends are safer; that we will be stronger when the world is more just. "

      Imagine the outrage and charges of hypocrisy if Bush had said this. Just imagine... But Obama said it, therefore - nothing.

      "But this is a different kind of war. There will be no simple moment of surrender to mark the journey's end - no armistice, no banner headline. (...) So the threat will not go away soon, but let's be clear: Al Qaeda and its affiliates are small men on the wrong side of history. They lead no nation. "

      Wonderful! Endless war on a global battlefield with every person a potential "enemy combatant". Good thing Obama picked a candidate for SCOTUS who agrees with this interpretation.

  • Top Ten Other Gratuitously Offensive Draw-a-Cartoon Days
    • As an atheist, I find the beliefs of all the major religions to be extremely offensive. I don't see a single religion attempting to silence their own speech so as to not offend people like myself. If I curtail my own criticism of their beliefs, yet they don't return the favor, isn't that a double standard?

      Juan:"If you have a higher purpose in violating a taboo, fine"
      Many people are hypocrites for singling out Islam, and some will only violate these taboos in order to offend Muslims. Their ulterior motive is bigoted and xenophobic, but only because they don't really care about issues of free speech. However, for the rest of us, isn't the violation of an unnecessary taboo itself a useful purpose? Let's not conflate those of us who have a principled opposition to religion with bickering religious partisans trying to take cheap shots against each other. That would be like conflating the anger of the tea-baggers with actual left-wing opposition to Obama.

      The only point I find myself in agreement with you on is that Muslims are not alone in being offended by the violation of religious taboos (remember "Piss Christ"?) not that anyone should refrain from violating them. Contrary to that, I would hope violating all religious taboos becomes more commonplace. All religions are irrational by definition. So why should atheists become slaves to irrationality just to accommodate absurd religious beliefs?

      If I draw a cartoon of a religious figure to make the point that "this is merely a cartoon, an expression of speech, my personal opinion that religion is pure mythology", and a true-believer reacts violently; if you blame me you their actions, if you say I caused their actions, how is that not like blaming a woman for being raped because she dressed provocatively?

      Juan: "we just care more about e.g. race than we do religion"
      These are not interchangeable things. No one is born with a religion. It is always taught. A religion is an imposed and mutable system of beliefs. Criticizing a belief is not the same as criticizing a human being for being born a certain skin tone. I could easily be be offended by a racist cartoon, but not an anti-religious one.

  • Apartheid Israel, Bunker Israel: Elvis Costello and Noam Chomsky
    • Glad to see this post.
      I'd be curious to see what criticism this has received in Israel from Likud's opponents. have any prominent politicians spoken in Chomsky's defense?

      Juan: "the two-state solution sought urgently by US president Barack Obama"
      I don't see the urgency or any real difference in policy between Bush and Obama in this regard. In fact, Congress just approved missile "defense" for Israel on top of it's $30 billion ten-year aid guarantee. Our aid now represents about 20 percent of Israel's annual defense budget. This is urgency?

  • Iran Announces Breakthrough Nuclear Exchange Deal
    • Offtopic: I'm surprised that you chose not to comment on Noam Chomsky being barred from entering Israel. I would very much like to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you feel this could happen to you? What should the Obama Administration's response be to this?

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