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Total number of comments: 191 (since 2014-11-10 01:23:13)

Yeah, right

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  • Saudi Official views Lebanon as "at war with us"
    • Ed Dolle: "Why. Why does Saudi Arabia keep throwing its weight around?"

      Because the House of Saud is being urged to do this, and these guys are too dumb to understand that the countries that are urging them along don't care if the Saudi's end up thrown under a bus - so long as Iran ends up under those same wheels.

  • Kushner tells Abbas Israeli Squatter Expansion can't be stopped b/c Netanyahu Gov't would Fall
    • So Netanyahu's govt would fall if the US demanded that settlement construction stopped?

      OK. Then.... let it fall.

      And when the next govt comes in and says that it will also collapse if the US repeated that demand then.... repeat the demand and watch it collapse.

      This will probably never enter Kushner's narrow mind, but the Israelis actually Need To Know That Settlement Construction Comes At A Cost, and what more costly endeavour for a politician than to loose his cushy seat at the top of the table.

      Make the demand, force the govt to collapse, then repeat as many times as necessary until it gets through to the Israelis that settlement construction is not sustainable.

      Pretty simple, really.

  • The Mask Is Off: Trump Is Seeking Pretext for War with Iran
    • As cunning plans go it suffers from one significant flaw: the USA can't turn up at Tehran's doorstep with a gaggle of inspectors and demand to be let in.

      The JCPOA is quite clear on that: it is the IAEA who must demand those snap-inspections, and even if it does there are two stipulations:
      1) The IAEA must inform Iran of the reasons for its demand and
      2) All IAEA inspectors must be from countries with whom Iran has diplomatic relations.

      Taken together they preclude Trump from simply demanding that the IAEA do his bidding, and also precludes him from demanding "US inspections" of those sites.

      Trump is going to be taken aside by his advisors and told "err, sorry, but the Brits, the Frenchies, and the German's don't agree, and without them on-board the IAEA is not going to agree to act as your shill"

      Sure, he can just go ahead and declare that Iran is "non-compliant" regardless.

      Sure, he can and probably will.

      But he can't do that *and* still lay the blame on the Iranians.

      Not without solid evidence of an Iranian violation which he simply does not possess.

  • Is Rouhani's Reelection a step toward Democracy for Iran?
    • "Is Rouhani’s Reelection a step toward Democracy for Iran?"

      Is it just me, or do others see an internal contradiction in that headline?

  • GOP not the party of 'Security' as Intel Allies Flee Trump
    • "Globally, US security partners are beginning to rethink sharing sensitive intelligence with the United States."

      Riiiiiiiiiight.

      And if the USA then said to those "security partners" to stop and think again, lest they end up on the USA's "naughty list", just what do you think will happen?

      A lot of one-time "allies" have ended up on the USA's "naughty list", and it's never been pleasant, and not a few of whose "leaders" have ended up stone-cold-dead because of it.

      Honestly, who is the Big Dawg in these relationships?

      Truthfully, a lot of hyperventilation seems to be taking place over something that shouldn't be of the slightest concern to a super-power.

      It sounds very much like some of these "allies" need to wake up to themselves.

  • "Can you believe the World we Live in?" Trump doesn't understand "Classified"
    • By definition a President can not be accused of doing anything "illegal" by revealing classified information, precisely because the ultimate authority underpinning the entire "classification" of information is.... the office of the POTUS.

      Sure, he can be accused of carelessness.
      Sure, his judgement can be questioned.
      Sure, it can be argued that he lacks an understanding of the concept of "classified".

      Sure.

      But none of those are impeachable offenses.

      Being "careless" is not grounds for removal from office.
      Nor is an abundance of "questionable judgement".
      Nor is a lack of "conceptual understanding"

      All of those are value-judgements that are entirely held in the eye of the beholder, and attempting to remove a President - any President - on those grounds is sure to result in a lot of partisan voters grabbing their guns and begging to differ.

      You need "high crimes and misdemeanors" to remove a President, and nothing that The Donald has done even remotely approaches that.

  • Israel to vote on Bill making it a "Jewish State," demoting Arabic
    • Sorry, do I understand this correctly: Netanyahu has spent nearly a decade insisting that the PLO recognise Israel as "the Jewish state", yet To This Very Day the state of Israel has not defined itself as such?

      Doesn't that mean that Netanyahu's no-conditions-precondition amounts to a classic case of him insisting on hitching the cart before the horse?

      Or, perhaps better, of Netanyahu insisting that Abbas does as he says, not as he does.

      The man is beyond chutzpah....

  • Russia: US attack on our Sovereign ally Illegal
    • Prof, you appear to misunderstand the meaning of a deconfliction agreement.

      It isn't to stop planes "colliding". Radar is all you need for that.

      It's to stop the two sides from treating the other as a "hostile".

      One radar-lock and the rules-of-engagement could have the pilots shooting at each other. A deconfliction agreement prevents that.

      Russia isn't signalling that it "doesn't want the US to know what they are up to". Again, the Americans have radar for that.

      What the Kremlin is signalling is that they now reserve the right to light up USAF planes with targetting radar, and if they don't like what those planes are doing then they reserve the right to shoot first and ask Trump later "wot's up, dude?".

  • Washington's Supreme Hypocrisy on Chemical Weapons and Civilian Deaths
    • That's a question I can answer. Just prior to ordering the attack Obama met with CJCS Gen Dempsey, and at that meeting Dempsey informed Obama of the results of UK tests of the samples from the area.

      The Brits had determined that the sarin did not come from Syrian army stocks, and most closely resembled Libyan-manufactured sarin.

      So it's a no-go on the boom-boom, but keep this on the q-t, OK, General?

    • There is a gaping flaw in the logic of this article.

      Prof Cole is correct that CW are used to offset a numerically superior enemy (though I'lll point out that sarin can only be used defensively - you can't drop it on the enemy and then order your troops to attack, coz if you do you'll kill them too)

      But this town was way behind the lines, so by Prof Cole's own logic there is no military reason for the syrians to drop CW on it.

      Coventional bombs, yes, because what you target in rear areas are warehouses, stockpiles, etc.

      But not CW, because while they kill the civvies they leave the warehouses intact.

      And what's the point of that?

      None that I can see.

      The Russian explanation makes sense, the US explanation doesn't.

  • Israeli Pol threatens Crimes against Humanity in Lebanon
    • Help me out here, because I'm struggling with the logic: IF hezbollah are considered to be one of the armed forces of the Lebanese govt THEN that legitimizes an IDF attack on Lebanese civillians.

      W.T. F. ??????

      Sooooooo, IF the IDF is considered the armed forces of the Israeli govt THEN attacks on Israeli civillians are kosher?

      True, Mr Bennett? Or false?

      And if "no" then why, exactly?

  • Netanyahu rejected offer by Kerry & Arab Leaders of Comprehensive Peace Talks
    • Point (1) is hardly a concession - it is what any occupying power is supposed to do. Still, nice to know that he is admitting that the current policy is to squeeze the Palestinians.

      Point (2) is nothing: the weasel-worded "a willingness to negotiate the components with Arab states" doesn't mean negotiating a peace deal on that basis, but instead means a willingness to act as an editor and re-write what's in the Arab Initiative.

      Point (3) doesn't actually involve Israel at all - it is a set of instructions for what the Arab states have to do, at the end of which Netanyahu will agree to stand next to them for a photo-op.

      Part (4) will - as it always does - flounder on a simple fact: Netanyahu will insist on having sole authority to define what is a "bloc" and what isn't, and he'll define it as "anywhere we are building".

      Point (5) can not be taken seriously - he's asking the President of the most powerful country on earth to stand up and announce "Hey everyone! I just want to tell you that I'm Bibi's Bitch! "

      Honestly, the chutzpah...

  • Trump plots to keep Palestinians Stateless forever
    • Odd that nobody else notes the disconnect between this line:
      Trump [about Bibi]: "Smart man, great negotiator, and I think we’re going to make a deal."
      and this line:
      Trump: "So, I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like."

      So, apparently, "both parties" are expected to be happy with the "deal", even though one of those parties is going to be excluded from the "deal-making process".

      A more apt description would be: it'll be "a deal" between the Israeli/USA, and "a fait-accompli" for the Palestinians.

      Apparently.

  • Kerry: Slams Palestinian Authority, but admits Israel Jeopardizes Peace
    • Richard: "Declaring the fragmented “homelands” in the West Bank to be a state would be an empty victory, especially economically."

      The USA can hardly "declare" a Palestinian state, because:
      a) That's the Palestinian's job, not the USA's
      b) The Palestinians already declared their state in 1988

      So I assume you mean "recognize", not "declare".

      But the USA's position has always been that all those Israeli colonies have zero "legitimacy", so *if* the USA were to offer that recognition they wouldn't say "we recognize Palestine.... err... except for the Israeli settlements".

      To put in that rider would instantly "legitimize" those Israeli colonies, which Obama would never do.

      All academic, of course, since Obama will not extend that recognition....

      ....but if he did then he would recognize the Palestinian's own 1988 declaration of statehood, which means recognizing everything over the Green Line as Palestine, and everything within the Green Line as Israel, and if the Israelis were to scream about the settlements then Obama would reply "well, what about the settlements?".

    • To suggest that the USA has no influence upon the ICC is ludicrous. If nothing else it can apply pressure upon the Court via its innumerable proxies who *have* ratified the Rome Statute.

  • Erdogan-Putin Syria Bromance as Turkey accuses US of backing ISIL
    • Larry, the trick is easy: the USA can say that it only supports "moderate rebels", and then admit that those worthy-of-US-support unicorns are thoroughly "marbled in" with ISIL.

      Which leads to this: while it is true that ISIL is worthy of a good US-administered-thumping - and Get's It whenever the opportunity arises - out there on the battlefield the "good guys" and the "bad guys" are Tweedle De and Tweedle Dum - so the USA's hands are tied.

      The USA therefore can have is both ways:
      a) It can supply the Unicorn Armies while denying that it is supplying ISIL even though..... a significant amount of those supplies end up with ISIL.
      b) It can and will bomb ISIL everywhere that it "separates" from the Unicorn Army, which merely strengthens the incentive for ISIL to remain "marbled" with those US-supported Unicorns.

      End result: the USA bombs ISIL wherever it refuses to Play The Game, while giving very effective support whenever ISIL Plays Along With Washington's Fairytale Unicorns.

      Here's your cake, Mr. Obama. Of course you can eat it, Mr. Kerry.

  • Israel's Netanyahu et al. Throw Trump-like Tantrums after UNSC Slam
    • Obama is missing out on a golden opportunity to really sink the boot into Netanyahu now that Bibi is threatening to "punish" the 14 countries who voted for that resolution in the Security Council.

      Obama should arrange for a vote in the UN General Assembly that, in essence, backs the UNSC on this matter.

      Such a vote would pass by, oh, rough guess, something like 190-1.

      What does Netanyahu do then? Threaten reprisals against the entire world?

      The man is bluffing.

      Obama can call his bluff in the easiest way possible: by demonstrating that The Entire Damn World agrees with him, and if Netanyahu wants to threaten The Entire Damn World then, please, be my guest......

  • Is Jimmy Carter right that Obama should Recognize Palestine?
    • I agree that sanctions would give a unsc resolution "teeth".

      I don't agree that any POTUS would ever back such a resolution, least of all Obama.

      The best you can possibly hope for is a declarative resolution, which will leave Israel exposed to what it calls "lawfare" and what everyone else would regard as "law".

      Not what you might wish for, but way better than nothing.

    • "Trump would not easily be able to reverse a UN Security Council resolution that imposed sanctions on Israel"....

      Whoah there! That's an unwarranted leap of faith.

      While I could - just - envision Obama allowing a declarative resolution to pass, there is no way on earth that any American politician is going to support a punitive resolution.

      A UNSC Resolution that declares that:
      a) The Palestinians are under a belligerent occupation
      b) The occupying power is prohibited from colonizing an occupied territory, therefore
      c) The settlements are illegal, which must mean that
      d) Israel can not lay any claim to any territory merely because there happens to be an Israeli "settlement" squatting on that territory.

      Yeah, that is possible.

      Maybe.

      But a resolution that then continues on to:
      e) If Israel doesn't dismantle those "settlements" then
      f) Bad Things Will Be Imposed On Israel
      has absolutely no chance of getting past a US veto.

  • Will Turkey, Iran & Iraq make the Mosul Campaign a Land Grab?
    • So many words about all the competing players, and yet the Syrian Arab Army and the Russian airforce is mentioned exactly once - and then only in passing.

      Spectators, apparently.

      Which would come as something of a shock to both, I imagine.

  • ISIL's loss of Dabiq: It was never about Armageddon, but Weak States
    • "The battle was over in only 24 hours, even though"......

      Ahem. Perhaps it wasn't a "battle" at all.

      As in: the Turkish-backed ISIS was told that it had to make way for the Turkish-backed FSA and - since they are all on Turkey's payroll, after all - they did as they were told.

      Isn't that a far more logical conclusion to make?

  • In Massive Intel Error, US Kills 80 Syrian Troops, Helps ISIL Advance
    • "I can’t see any way that a deliberate attack makes sense, unless you WANT to believe some convoluted theory lacking any basis in fact"

      All that you need to "base" yourself on is this proposition: there are people in the higher echelon of the US military who choke on the very notion that they are expected to share their intel and run their targeting decision-making past those damn Rooskies.

      Because..... two days from now that is exactly what the US/Russian agreement expects them to do i.e. subordinate themselves to a joint USAF/RuAF command centre.

      What to do?
      What to do?

      I Know! Bomb a Syrian Army Base "by mistake".

      Problem solved. Honour - and exceptionalism - restored.

      Hardly "fanciful".
      Definitely not "impossible".
      And if you were a hard-arsed hawk it would certainly seem "sensible"

    • " As noted in the post, the problem here is that the US is simply unable to 100% guarantee that its air campaign will accurately hit targets."

      I'd be inclined to believe that excuse if this were simply a case of the USAF doing what it has always been doing, only .... oops!

      But that isn't the case here: what the USAF did amounted to acting completely contrary to its previous policies.

      Previously the USAF has acted against ISIS either in support of its own Unicorn Army of "moderate rebels" or in support of Kurdish forces i.e. as the air arm of those "anti-regime forces".

      But there are no just forces within a hundred miles of Deir al-Zor - just ISAS and the SAA facing off against each other, as they have done for over a year.

      So a USAF "attack on ISIS" at Deir al-Zor amounted to direct support for the besieged Syrian Arab Army forces only.... Oops! Missed! Sorry! My Bad!

      Now, be honest: the USAF will not act as the air arm of Assad's Army.

      Not once.
      Not ever.

      "So that leaves us to support anti-regime forces, either via materials supply or air power."

      I'm sorry, I repeat this again: there are no "anti-regime forces" anywhere near Deir al-Zor, a fact that US forces have known for over a year.

      There was just ISIS and the Syrian Arab Army.

      The USAF definitely drew a bead on one of those two, and by definition it did so in support of the other side.

      So if it really did take aim at ISIS then it was WITH THE INTENTION of aiding those "regime forces", even if... oops!

      If it only pretended to take aim at ISIS then it did so WITH THE INTENTION of aiding ISIS against the SAA only... wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

      Those are the only two possibilities, because one thing we do know with an absolute certainty is that there were no "anti-regime forces" within 100 miles of Deir al-Zor.

      Which means, of course, that this attack could not have been launched "to support anti-regime force".

    • "Does that count?"

      No, because neither the Russians nor the Syrians bombed that convoy.

      Look at the photos of the "carnage". The trucks were definitely set on fire, but they equally certainly were not bombed from the air.

      Note that both the UN and the ICRC have walked back the claim that it was an airstrike.

  • US: Turkish-backed campaign against our Allies in Syria 'unacceptable'
    • I don't know why you expect the YPG would ever be interested in marching on Raqqa.

      They'll take a lot of casualties doing so, and for no good reason - they certainly wouldn't be able to keep it, not in any post-conflict scenario that I can think of.

      So, basically, they'd be fighting and dying for someone else's gain.

      No thanks.

      But striking out west towards Afrin is (or was) altogether different: there are fellow Kurds out that way, so they must have hoped that if they could win that territory then they'd be able to keep that territory.

      Well, apparently not....

      But it doesn't follow that because they have now been stymied on their march to Afrin that it makes any sort of sense for them to pivot and strike south towards Raqqa.

      It doesn't make any sense whatsoever, not from a Kurdish PoV.

      Their best bet now is to put back and sit tight. Let someone else die so that Uncle Sam can maintain the fiction of a unicorn army made up of "good rebels".

  • America's Syria SNAFU: Pentagon's Militias fight Turkey & CIA's Militias
    • Not really a problem, is it?

      If push comes to shove the USA will not hesitate to push the Kurds under a bus.

      After all, the Kurds have already served their purpose i.e. shedding blood to disguise the fact that all the other "moderate rebels" didn't actually exist.

      So why would the yanks care what happens to them now?

      Maybe if the Kurds now offer to fight Assad's forces. Maybe. Or maybe not, who knows the capricious whims of those that live inside the Beltway?

      Perfidious Albion had nothing on The Indispensables.

  • Is Turkey's incursion into Syria about Daesh, or about the Kurds?
    • Two questions:
      1) Where does this now leave the enclave of Afrin, now that the YPG is blocked from linking up with it? Is it safe and secure, albeit isolated, or is it now looking rather exposed and vulnerable?

      2) How do you expect the Syrian Arab Army to "fight Daesh head on" when almost everywhere you look on the map (apart from Palmyra) there are "rebel militias" between the SAA and ISIS? Are Assad's soldier somehow expected to leapfrog over the top of that alphabet soup of head-choppers and liver-eaters?

  • The Short-Lived Russia-Iran Axis
    • Roskin: "In less than a week, Tehran, perhaps remembering that the constitution of the Islamic Republic prohibits foreign bases on Iranian soil, pulled Iranian permission. "

      pulled. Iranian. permission.

      Here's an alternative thought: the Russians asked if they could use that airbase to refuel, and the Iranians pointed out that their constitution prohibits the Russians from having basing rights there.

      To which the Russians replied that they'll use the base until they destroy the target, and then they'll go home.

      Russia: You OK with that?
      Iran: Sure.

      I would suggest that this is very, very simple: if the Russians were never going to be allowed to **base** themselves there then they were never, ever going to stay longer than a week.

      After all, modern jet bombers require enormous amounts of maintenance, and if that airfield doesn't host those maintenance crews then those bombers are only ever going to stay there for a few days, if that.

      Honestly, this author is just as guilty of making a mountain out of a molehill as "those" who saw this as a new "Russia-Iran axis".

      The airbase was a convenient petrol-station for the Russian air force. Once the used it a few times then it's time for those planes to go back into the hangar for a checkup and a rub-down.

      Q: Where would that hangar be located?
      A: Not. In. Iran.

  • Near-War: US Planes almost tangle with Syrian MiGs, which bombed area of US troop Embeds
    • Travis, the problem here is obvious: when someone asks about the legality of an uninvited US military presence inside Syria then Mark Koroi's horizon is limited entirely to US domestic law.

      As far as Mark is concerned the US Congress has voted the US President an AUMF and, therefore, it is all legal.

      But a US military presence inside Syria is, by definition, and international incident. Therefore the correct legal regime is INTERNATIONAL law, not the USA's own domestic legislative requirements to allow a President to order his troops to go BANG! on someone.

      As far as international law is concerned it doesn't matter in the slightest if the Congress has voted to lay a heavy-hand upon the Presidential shoulders, or voted to take a hands-off approach to his military adventurism.

      It. Matters. Not.

      What matters is what those US military forces are doing.

      And international law is clear about this: the USA is not at war with the Syrian government of Bashir Assad, and therefore the USA has no "right" whatsoever to insert its own military forces inside Syria without the consent of Assad's government.

      And, furthermore, the US Congress has no standing under international law to vote the President that "right".

      International law is exactly that - laws *between* nations.

      One branch of the US government (the legislative branch) can't unilaterally gift a new international law to another branch of the US government (the executive branch).

      A Congressional AUMF does not "legalize" those US Special Forces advisors under international law, any more than the Congress can vote a law to make it A-OK for US soldiers to summarily shoot prisoners.

      Such a law would make no difference to int'l law i.e. the execution of prisoners would still be a grave violation of international humanitarian law irrespective of whether or not that law survived a challenge in the US Supreme Court.

      So would a USAF shootdown of Syrian jet fighters bombing enemy positions inside Syrian cities: the USA is simply *not* at war with the government of Syria, and so any such action would be an act of aggression by the US military.

  • Trump threatens Sec. Clinton with Gun Nuts, imitates Tinpot 3rd World Regimes
    • maloken: "You can argue semantics. You can say he didn’t mean it."

      Ladies and gentlemen, when maloken uses the word "it" we know that Trump is being verballed.

      Now, I don't like Trump and I would be appalled at the prospect of him becoming President.

      But the man says what he says, and if there is any doubt regarding his meaning then the correct method is to GO AND ASK HIM TO EXPLAIN HIMSELF, you don't insist that he disavow or endorse what pundit's say he meant.

      Trump said.... something.

      Pundits like Juan Cole (and opponents like Hillary) then claim that this..... something.... means "Trump threatens Sec. Clinton with Gun Nuts".

      And it is **that** punditry that then becomes the "it" of maloken's comment.

      Of course "he didn't mean it", precisely because he "didn't say it". The pundit's did when they put *their* words into *his* mouth.

      Now I'll say this again: I've linked to the entirety of Trump's comment. Everyone is free to read it.

      Trump's statement is a rambling, incoherent mess. We both agree on that.

      His words could mean what Juan Cole says they mean (i.e. he is calling on gun-nuts to Go A' Gunnin') or it could mean what I say they mean (i.e. he is musing that the NRA may be able to block a Hillary-nominated anti-gun judge).

      I personally think that Juan's interpretation is nonsense.
      You, clearly, think that Juan's interpretation is spot-on.

      The answer is to be found by ASKING TRUMP WHAT HE MEANT, it is not to be found by asking Trump to defend or disavow Juan Cole's interpretation of Trump's rambled musings.

      maloken: "You can argue semantics. You can say he didn’t mean it."

      Trump need only stand by, retract, or elaborate on WHAT HE SAYS, he is under no obligation to defend or reject what pundits like Juan Cole claim he meant.

      You are insisting that Juan Cole's interpretation be the message that Trump must either "mean" or "not mean".

      Why, exactly?

      Juan Cole's "meaning" is his problem, not Donald Trump's problem.

    • Look, I don't like Trump, but you simply can't verbal him in this way.

      The money-shot is this: "If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks, although the second amendment people – maybe there is, I don’t know"

      He is explicitly talking about a specific topic: the POTUS gets to nominate a judge for SCOTUS.

      Nothing more.
      No less.

      He is simply noting that there is nothing to stop a President Hillary from nominating a judge who has an anti-gun agenda.

      The "second amendment people" he then alludes to is clearly a reference to the possibility that the NRA might be able to apply enough POLITICAL pressure to stop such a nomination. Maybe. He doesn't know.

      I'm not making this up: the full exchange is here
      link to moonofalabama.org

      In the context of that paragraph Trump says "second amendment people" when he is talking about the NRA as a whole. As a POLITICAL force.

      He isn't talking violence.
      He isn't talking "assassination".

      He isn't saying anything controversial there, and it is simply outrageous to claim otherwise.

  • Assassination by Robot is now US Policy
    • I have one question: what the heck is the CIA doing piloting armed drones?

      The CIA is a *civilian* agency of the US government, it very explicitly is *not* counted amongst the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

      So why has the USA handed over the keys to an armed warplane (and that is what a drone is, even if the pilot doesn't sit in a cockpit) to a *civilian* agency?

      That alone is a violation of the Rules of War, which clearly state that a legal "belligerent" needs to be part of an "army".

      The CIA is not an "army".

      If the US Administration is going to use armed drones then it needs to ensure that the control of those drones is entrusted to the USAF, or the Navy, or the Marines, or the Army or, heck, even to the Coast Guard.

      But not the CIA. Not ever.

  • Is Kerry Right? Are Freemen of Syria and Army of Islam Radical Terrorists?
    • Just to point out these lines from Rogin's article:
      "Two administration officials who work on Syria told me"...

      Those two dudes are almost certainly going to be CIA, and they have a vested interest in insisting that Night is Day w.r.t. "their terrorists".

      ..."one senior administration official told me"...

      That'd be CIA spook Number 1.

      ..."Another U.S. official simply emailed"...

      And.... that'd be CIA spook Number 2.

      "State Department spokesman John Kirby told me"...

      Attribution! Yeah! Good for you Josh.

      So Rogin has three sources:
      1) Kirby, who agrees with his boss.
      2) Some unnamed dude from the CIA.
      3) Another unnamed dude from the CIA.

      This has to be hammered time and time again: there is an agency within the US government that is RUNNING TERRORISTS. That agency is the CIA, so of course they are going to be mighty pissed whenever Kerry pours a bucket on "their terrorists".

      After all, Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham are THEIR TERRORISTS.

    • "Or at least they would if journalists would do their homework and think straight."

      That sounds terribly naive.

      Kerry gave a speech that undermined the narrative regarding "good rebels". It certainly wasn't a "gaffe", but it certainly would have pissed off the CIA - who are the agency within the US government that sees the greatest utility in using "good rebels" to do all the dirty work.

      What could be simply than for the CIA to use a tame journalist to tip a bucket on Kerry?

      Rogin had, indeed, done his homework.

      It's just that this is homework had been handed to him on a platter, and all he had to "think" about was how much stenography was required on his part to make it look as though these were his words and not simply regurgitations.

  • Syrian Troops foil al-Qaeda riposte in Aleppo as France warns al-Qaeda could replace ISIL
    • "This CIA policy, which apparently even the US Pentagon views as crazy, is at odds with French security needs, Hollande was saying."

      Well, if the Pentagon thinks this is loopy then, gosh, it has to be totally batshit off-the-wall coo-coo-crazy.

      Does the Director of the CIA answer directly to the POTUS?

      Which begs a question: why hasn't Obama told Brennan that this batshit crazy nonsense has to stop, pronto?

      After all, there is oversight of the CIA, right?

  • Clintonites in Democratic Party Back Settler Colonialism (Not a 1905 Headline)
    • wjm: "Indeed, it was a political process that created the UN in the first place. And it was created by the victors of the Second World War, as was the Nuremberg Tribunal."

      The UN isn't a judicial body, wjm. It is - and always has been, and always will be - a political forum.

      If you don't believe me then ask this simple question: can the UN "make" international law?

      The answer is "no".

      International law is either created by states signing treaties wherein they agree to be bound in some way ("international treaties", of which the UN Charter is itself a classic example) or by their behaviour being so consistent and so widespread that this behaviour is regarded as a custom ("international customary law", of which the Hague Regulations are a classic example).

      But the UN can't create either treaties or customs, precisely because it is not a state: it is a public forum where states shout at each other and, yes, occasionally act in a common cause.

  • The Real Problem with the Iraq War: It was Illegal
    • Well, be fair: it does matter if you are an African dictator.

      But, sure, not for anyone else......

  • How can Americans prevent an Israeli-Iranian War? Dump the Squatter Settlers
    • You said: "There is in principle no reason why Iran’s foreign policy establishment could not prevail upon its ailing Supreme Leader (or perhaps more likely his successor) to align itself with the Arab Peace Initiative"

      In principle, no, no reason at all.

      Which probably explains why, in practice, Iran was one of the 57 states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation who in 2006 expressed its support for the Arab Peace Initiative.

      Which rather makes me wonder how much in the way of "M.E. expertise" you have if you didn't know that simple fact.

    • Nonsense. If Obama decided to cancel the $3billion Gift Voucher for Israel he'd simply turn to SecDef Carter, hand him that voucher, and say "Here, Ashton, you spend it".

      Net effect on the "profits for the US war industry" = zero.

      Indeed, the end result would be a positive increase, since Israel (unlike any other recipient of US military aid) is allowed to skim 20% off the top and spend it on Israeli-made arms.

      Lockheed Martin would love to have a slice of that pie.

  • Livni Slams Netanyahu, Calls for Israeli Referendum on Two-state Solution
    • Why bother? It would only confirm what the last election showed i.e. that Netanyahu's "vision" of a perpetually-expanding Israel is more in tune with the Israeli mainstream than Livni's pantomime nonsense.

      But it amounts to the same thing: neither would every actually **agree** to a sovereign, independent state of Palestine.

      The only difference between the two is that Netanyahu winks to the crowd as he plays this game with barely-concealed contempt, while Livni indulges in mock-outrage at the idea that Netanyahu isn't playing the game by the rules.

  • Israel approves $18.6 mn in new funding for Squatter settlements in Palestinian West Bank
    • Well, I have two thoughts on this:
      1) It's a neat little cop-out, isn't it? You put your citizens in harms-way by using them - quite literally - as human shields inside an occupied territory, and then you claim that the mental anguish this causes them necessitates a huge increase in spending.

      Err, no, the correct response is to take them out of harm's way by removing them from "Judea and Samaria".

      2) This sentence: "All settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land is considered illegal under international law, as the international community has agreed that any peace negotiations would necessitate that the Israeli government freeze new settlement construction" is factually in error.

      The settlements aren't illegal because of a POLITICAL situation (i.e. everyone thinks they get in the way of the "peace process") but because of their LEGAL status (i.e. they are a gross violation of Geneva Convention IV).

      Both are important, but don't confuse the two. After all, the settlements were illegal even when they were being established in 1967, which is way before the "two-state-solution" became the preferred political solution to this conflict.

  • Let's Fight ISIL, but Without Help of Any Kurds: Turkey to US
    • "Cavusoglu said Syrian Arab opposition forces opposing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad could be backed by special forces from Turkey, the United States as well as France, Britain and Germany."

      Sooooooo, he is talking about Turkish and US soldiers actually joining the fighting against the Syrian Arab Army.

      After all, what else could "forces opposing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad" mean other than: US and Turkish troops joining them in a fight against Assad?

      Has he stopped to think that if:
      a) the Turks and Americans send troops to attack Syria
      then
      b) the Russians might just send troops in to oppose them.

      Because he does appear to be forgetting a cardinal rule of warfare: the other side also gets a vote.

  • Israel: Netanyahu replies to Officers' charges of Fascism, makes far Right Lieberman their boss
    • Well, that news should have the champagne corks popping back in the Kremlin, not to mention the consternation that this will be causing within Mossad and Shin Bet......

  • US spends as much as next 11 countries on War Industries; why do Cruz/Trump want to Spend More?
    • Surely the missing element in this discussion is a definitive statement about what the US Military is meant to be *for*.

      If the US armed forces is meant to *defend* the continental United States then it is way, way, way bloated.

      Even if you define its mission to be defense of US soil *and* ensuring the freedom of the seas then it is still massively overbudgeted.

      But if you define the role of the US Military as being a stick that the US uses to beat anyone and everyone into submission to its Newfound World Encompassing Empire then it is underfunded, because that's a task that is beyond even the United States.

      But maybe the voting public should be let in on that conversation, and asked to choose a candidate based on what they think the US military is good for?

      Because until now it is discussed as a motherhood statement, not as the most pressing item on the agenda.

  • Trump's Foreign Policy is just GOP Boilerplate, only more Confused
    • William (now): "If you had actually read what I wrote you would have noted that I was speaking of the NATO Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania."

      William (then): " The three Baltic states–Estonia, Latvia, and Estonia, AS WELL AS POLAND, have all been threatened by Putin."...... "THERE IS ALSO TURKEY,"......

      It's really hard to know what you are trying to say, william, because you do appear to be scratching around for a reason - any reason, no matter how trivial - why NATO remains relevent.

      Certainly your characterization of the military threat posed by Russia appears to be shrinking by the day.

      To be honest, if the rationale for the existance of NATO rests upon the necessity of defending three teeny tiny Baltic states then perhaps you might want to consider how far NATO has drifted from its original charter.

      Because it does appear to be now designed more as a way of crafting a casus belli (Those poor freightened baltic states! Think of the children!) for an attack ON Russia, and not so much as an organization designed to defend against an attack BY Russia.

    • "But the point raised above, if I read it right, was that NATO is unnecessary. I don’t buy that."

      NATO is completely unnecessary.

      Russia does not have a military that is capable of invading Europe, and has not the slightest intention of indulding in such adventurism.

      Heck, it won't even invade the Ukraine regardless of the machinations of Victoria Nuland.

      There is this nonsensical idea floating around that without the USA then "Europe" would be defenseless against an over-armed and territorially-ambitious Russan military.

      It is untrue. Even without the US contribution the Russians are outspent two-to-one by the top four economies in Europe.

      Indeed, just the combination of France+Germany would have no trouble outspending Russia.

      If NATO were to dissolve then nothing would happen.

      And even if it were to happen (if, say, Putin were replaced by someone who pops too many angry-pills) then the only result would be an old-fashioned alliance of convenience between the major European powers.

      This may surprise many here, but the Europeans have lived alongside the Russan Bear for a long, long time before Uncle Sam started sending GIs "over there".

      And they understand perfectly well that "Russia" is not at all the same thing as the "USSR".

    • "Were NATO and the U.S. to abandon Europe, nukes would be unnecessary. Russian conventional forces would be more than adequate to accomplish the job handily."

      Riiiiiiiiight. If NATO folded and the US Army left Europe then the inevitable consequence of that would be a rush by Russian conventional forces towards the English Channel in order to "handily" subjugate all of Europe?

      Because, you know, that's what has happened so many, many times before The Coming Of The GIs.

      Correct?

    • "The three Baltic states–Estonia, Latvia, and Estonia, as well as Poland, have all been threatened by Putin."

      No, they haven't been "threatened by Putin", though it is understandable that they find that living next to Russia is "a threatening thing".

      But, be honest here William: does any European country in NATO give a rat's arse about Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania?

      This is a given: if the USA stopped "paying" for NATO then it would fold, the US Army would leave, and each European country would go back to running their own army their own way. Just as they always did pre-NATO.

      Would Germany spend big on the Bundeswehr so that it can go to the aid of a "threatened Estonia"?

      The answer is surely "no".

      Would the UK do likewise so that it could rush to the aid of Latvia?

      "no".

      Would France beef up its military so that it could stand shoulder to shoulder with Lithuania?

      The answer: "no".

      This is very, very simple: if Donald turned off the Money Tap then NATO would cease to exist.

      At which point all the European countries would fund their militaries to a level that is commesurate with their *own* national interests.

      Which in dollar terms would amount to "not much, maybe even less than now".

      If the Baltic States wanted to spend themselves into the ground to be able to "defeat" any Russian threat then they would be free to do so. But Germany wouldn't join them, nor would the UK, nor France, nor anyone else.

      After all, why should they?

    • The argument that "the US pays an unfair share of direct costs" for NATO countries can be countered by a simple thought-experiment.

      Q: If the USA stopped paying those costs then what, exactly, would those NATO countries do?
      A: Nothing.

      Those European countries are under no conventional or nuclear military threat whatsoever and therefore would see no need to increase their military spending even **without** Uncle Sam guarding their backs.

      Indeed, the *only* reason that the current NATO countries would consider raising their military budget would be if they feared that the USA would attempt a few "color revolutions" against them.

  • Top 7 Reasons Israel must give back the Occupied Golan to Syria
    • AK: "Israelis were serious about peace with Syria "

      No, they weren't.

      The Shepherdstown talk was simply one of Ehud Barak's nonsensical bait-and-switch "negotiations" where he waddled into a room with..... someone.... then waddled back out again to talk to.... someone else.

      In September 1999 he waddled into a room to talk to Yasser Arafat at Sharm el-Sheikh and got the shock of his life when the Palestinians agreed to sign the Memorandum.

      Yikes! He couldn't let that momentum build.... so in January 2000 he waddled off to Shepherdstown to talk to the Syrians.

      Because, you know, they weren't Palestinians.

      Yikes! This negotiation stuff is hard! The Syrians know what they are doing!

      So Barack gets up, waddles out and heads to Camp David.

      Because.... you know how it is.... Arafat isn't a Syrian.

      The Littlest Ehud would have loved to have waddled away from that train-wreck and go back to talking to Assad Snr (not a Palestinian, remember) but the Syrians had caught onto the trick and weren't interested.

      So Little Ehud had to waddle over to Taba where, to his immense discomfort, it looked like real, serious progress was being made with the Palestinians.

      Two negotiations in a row with the same party?
      That Will Never Do.

      Poor Ehud nearly burnt the hairs off his legs, his stumpy little legs were so quick to scoot him outta' there.......

      Alon, you simply can not take any of those talks out of context: there were *all* part of a ludicrous trick that the Israelis were playing, with Bill Clinton's enthusiastic support.

      None were *ever* intended to lead to a final agreement, precisely because the Israelis hadn't finished stealing all the land.

    • No, Collins is not at all "spot-on".

      The essential difference is that the return of occupied territory was an essential component of the Egyptian/Israel peace treaty i.e. it was included *in* the treaty, it wasn't something that Israel agreed to do *outside* of the treaty negotiation process.

      Compare and contrast: Israel is not willing to consider returning the Golan Heights, and will not place that on the negotiating table in any peace negotiations.

      Syria would therefore be in the situation of signing a treaty in the h.o.p.e. that Israel then subsequently agrees to hand the Golan back which - to put it mildly - only an idiot would contemplate.

      This is very simple question: is Israel willing to withdraw from the occupied territory as a condition of a peace treaty?

      In the case of Egypt the answer was: Yes.
      Ergo, Egypt was willing to sign that peace treaty.

      In the case of Syria the answer is an emphatic: No.
      QED: Syria would be crazy to agree to such a peace treaty.

      This isn't rocket science: unless Israel agrees to withdraw *as* *part* *of* the peace treaty then Israel simply... won't withdraw. Ever.

      So absent such a line-item in a peace treaty then such a peace treaty is unacceptable.

      Just ask Egypt.
      Just ask Jordan.
      Just ask Syria.
      Just ask Palestine.

      You can point to the presence/absence of peace treaties and compare that with the unwillingness of Israel to withdraw from the territory that it occupies.

      It ain't hard to do. After all, there is a 1:1 correlation.

  • Saudi's King Salman in Turkey signals thaw in Ankara-Riyadh Tensions
    • "Turkey and Saudi Arabia have likely lost the Syrian Civil War, now that the Russian Federation has intervened."

      I suspect that what the Saudi's have "lost" is US backing for (or perhaps, more accurately, acquiescence to) the policy of trying to chop off Assad's head by means of jihadi head-choppers.

      In which case this round of shuttle diplomacy is more about gauging the regional powers to see if they have any appetite for continuing this endevour even if/when the USA loses its appetite for all this mayhem.

      On an entirely unrelated note: 60 Minutes has just given extensive coverage to those redacted 28 pages from the 9/11 commission.

      You know, the section that deals with What The House Of Saud Knew, And What They Were Doing Before, During And After.

      Talk about stale news..... but an odd coincidence, don't you think?

  • Is Hillary Clinton responsible for rise of ISIL, as Bernie's Campaign Manager Alleged?
    • JR: "Otherwise, your attempt to handwave the writer’s points in order to reach your predetermined conclusion is pathetic."

      Jeff, the quote is here: "She continues to have a very, very hawkish foreign policy that has led to the rise and expansion of ISIS throughout the Middle East"

      No "twisting" is required to point out that the quote can be read as this:
      1) "very, very hawkish foreign policy" created and enabled the rise of ISIS
      2) Clinton still has a "very, very hawkish foreign policy".

      She is hardly unique in this, which is why I am pointing out that the accusation isn't that the is uniquelly and personally responsible for the creation of ISIS.

      Now, that's what the quote says, and you and I are perfectly free to disagree on what it meant.

      To claim otherwise is.... sadly.... pathetic

    • To be fair, the accusation was this:
      "She continues to have a very, very hawkish foreign policy that has led to the rise and expansion of ISIS throughout the Middle East"

      So it can be argued that he is claiming that it is "very, very hawkish foreign policy" that is responsible ISIS, which as claims go is pretty uncontroversial.

      I think everyone concedes that the USA's hawkish foreign policy has created the conditions within which ISIS can expand.

      Hillary didn't create that foreign policy, no, but she is very definitely an unreconstructed chicken-hawk.

      Seen in that light the criticism is a valid one, if only because anyone who **still** advocates a very, very hawkish foreign policy after all this turmoil is very clearly a dimwit.

  • Unconstitutional: How the Imperial Presidents went to War all by themselves
    • This is such a narrow understanding of the issue.

      Article I, section 8 of the Constitution has become a dead letter precisely because it deals with a formal Declaration of War.

      But nobody issues formal Declarations of War any more.

      N.o.b.o.d.y.

      The UK? Nope. Not since the end of WW2.

      France? Nah.

      Waddabout Russia? No.

      Australia? Not since 1945.

      Anyone else?

      The answer is "nobody", and the reason why it is because the United Nations Charter clearly says in Article 2(4) that "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

      So you can't CHOOSE war as an instrument of settling your international squabbles.

      Q:And what, exactly, is a formal Declaration of War?
      A: Why, it is a formal announcement that you have CHOSEN to go to war to settle your squabble with another country.

      Q: But didn't the USA renounce doing that when it signed the UN Charter?
      A: Bingo. Give that man a cigar.

      Congress can't Declare War any more, which is why it hasn't done so since 1942.

      Neither can the House of Commons, which is why the UK hasn't Declared War on anyone either.

      Ditto the Duma in Moscow, the National Assembly in Paris, the House of Representatives in Canberra, and Everywhere Else In Between.

      This isn't just an American phenomenon, it is equally true everywhere else i.e. nobody declares war any more, which is why the Congress doesn't declare war any more.

      They can *fight*, sure, but in the post-WW2 world those fights are legally called "armed conflicts", and there is nothing in the UN Charter that forbids you from defending yourself if/when you come under an "armed attack" (Article 52, if you want to be precise).

      Even George W Bush - that great pooh-pooher of international law - felt the need to at least pretend that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a "pre-emptive act of self defence".

  • After Palmyra, the last days of the phony Caliphate?
    • ..."President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were using a fragile cessation of hostilities in the wider conflict to make territorial gains."

      Which would be A Bad Thing if those territorial gains came at the expense of those opposition forces that were observing this current cessation of hostilities.

      But it isn't.

      The Syrian Army's territorial gains are coming at the expense of a group that not only isn't observing the current ceasefire but was quite explicitly EXCLUDED from gaining the protection of that ceasefire.

      Basically, the ceasefire declares that it is open-season on ISIS.

      And if the Syrian Army wants to take the opportunity that this open-season-on-ISIS presents to take the Caliphate to the cleaners then everyone - but everyone - should be applauding their efforts.

  • Kerry warns of break up of Syria; but is that Realistic?
    • Peter R: "But the ‘alliance’/’non-aggression pact’, or however it is described between the YPG and al Assad, how long can it last?"

      If Assad wins the war then that "pact" will be a cornerstone of the peace that follows.

      Syria will become a federated states with significant autonomy granted to the various ethnic regions.

      The Kurds will be the biggest beneficiaries of that change, as well they should since they will have played a vital role in Assad winning the war. The level of autonomy that Assad will grant to them will become a role-model for the rest of the country.

      Peter R: "Iran will not want to see any autonomy granted to the Kurds. Russia might think it has something to gain from it, if only to aggravate Turkey. Assad will not like it."

      Yes, gosh, you've already pointed out that the deal is between Assad and the Kurds. What the Iranians think of it therefore matters little. That the Russians are in favour of it, again, matters little.

      What matters is that the Kurds an the Alawites have struck a deal, and they will expect Assad to live up to that deal.

      If he does then Hurrah!. If he doesn't then they'll fight.

      Assad will stick to that deal, precisely because after running his forces into the ground to defeat the jihadis he will not want to pick another fight. Certainly not with the Kurds.

      They'll get what they want, both because they've earnt it and because Assad knows that they've earned it.

  • Will Syrian Kurds defeat ISIL , helping Democrats win White House in 2016?
    • ..."it would vindicate President Obama’s strategy"...

      Obama has a strategy? Really?

      ....it would vindicate President Putin’s strategy....

      There, much better for being much more accurate.

  • Clinton and Sanders on Mideast War and Kissinger's Legacy (PBS Debate)
    • "Bernie came close to accusing her of hanging out with war criminals."

      Well, heck, if she acknowledges that she hangs out with Kissinger then that's a pretty fair cop.

      "Sec. Clinton had boasted openly of her close relationship to Kissinger"

      QED - Shrillary does indeed hang out with war criminals.

      Sanders should not "come close" to calling her out on that score. He should openly call her out for what she is i.e. a camp follower of war criminals.

  • Israel frets about "Iran as Neighbor" if Aleppo falls & al-Assad Regime Wins
    • It's a pretty sad state of affairs when the proposed "solution" to an Israeli problem is to hope for "an intervention by Saudi Arabia".

      Laughable.

      Saudi Arabia soldiers are getting their arse kicked in Yemen. Does Adelson really think they'd do better against a battle-hardened Syrian Arab Army?

      And the most laughable thing about that is they'd probably do better than the IDF, which is a rabble.

  • Syria: The Mother of all Battles for Aleppo is Joined
    • Are you for real, Mark?

      The Syrian govt of Assad has control of the western seaboard of Syria. ISIS controls the desert area to the east, centred on Raqqa.

      In between is Allepo with its "FSA and local forces".

      Now, all that is indisputable, yet you insist that the Syrian army should attack "ISIS-controlled Raqqa" and bemoan that they insist on retaking Allepo first.

      Honestly, are you for real?

  • Fearing the Bern, Billionaire Bloomberg Threatens to Buy Election for Establishment
    • Rendell: "If Hillary wins the nomination, Hillary is mainstream enough that Mike would have no chance, and Mike’s not going to go on a suicide mission."

      Excuse me?

      Rendell appears to be suffering from the tunnel-vision of the "establishment vanguard".

      Sure, Hillary is regarded as "mainstream" by that "establishment", but it appears to have eluded the likes of Bloomberg and Rendell that the voter popln knows exactly whose interests Hillary serves (hint: not theirs).

      That's why the voters don't want her i.e. the very fact that she is "mainstream" w.r.t. "the establishment" is now anathema to the 99% of the USA who don't belong in that exalted company.

      If it does come down to Trump versus Sanders it will be because they will have convinced the voters that they are the only two candidates who aren't 100% owned by the 1%ers.

      Don't get me wrong: they may be monumentally flawed in other ways. Probably are.

      But if they can convince the US voters that they aren't puppets of the Deep State then the voters will at least consider them.

      Unlike Hillary. She is so deep inside the Deep State that there is no way for her to dig herself out.

      But consider what that means for a Bloomberg candidacy.

      If it gets to "Sure I'm A Billionaire, But A Crazy One!" versus "I'm A Cuddly Old Socialist!" then where is Bloomberg going to find his place?

      He will have to enter that contest on the "I Represent The Rich And Powerful!" ticket.

      Good luck with running on that platform, Michael.

      There is a real whiff of the Marie Antoinette's about the "establishment" in the USA.

      They appear to think that nobody has noticed that their greed is insatiable, or that Washington DC is their bitch.

      Both Sanders and Trump have already sniffed the wind of change, which is precisely why:
      a) They are doing so well, and why
      b) Hillary, Rendell and Bloomberg are utterly mystified about what is happening around them.

      Dudes, stop kidding yourselves: to be "establishment mainstream" is the kiss of death in this current climate.

      Bloomberg may as well run on this platform: Qu'ils mangent de la brioche!

  • Netanyahu demands more billions from US after Iran Deal, insults US Envoy, Steals more Land
    • It's hard to say which is the more shameless: Israeli contempt for its patron, or the USA's craven pandering to that outrageous behaviour.

      Possibly the latter.

      After all, Israel treats every country and every international institution with contempt: nothing new there, just Israeli boorishness writ large.

      But it's hard to imagine the USA tolerating this behaviour from any of it other client-states.

      Indeed, no-one else would dare to act this way for the simple reason that the response from Uncle Sam could range from a painful slap-down-with-sanctions all the way up to regime-change-with-extreme-prejudice.

      But Israel? Untouchable.

  • US Response to Saudi Wars & Human Rights Violations? $49 Bn. in new Arms Sales
    • All rather missing the point, isn't it?

      It isn't just that the US (and UK) arms industry makes a massive profit out of the Saudi's insatiable need for Super Expensive Weapons That They Don't Really Know How To Use.

      It's much more than that: those weapons-sales are the chosen means of churning all those petro-dollars.

      As in: if the USA and the UK embargoed arms sales to Saudi Arabia then all those untold $billions of petro-dollars will simply pile up inside the vaults of the House of Saud, unspent and unused.

      Eventually someone would have to find *some* way of spending those petro-dollars on trinkets, otherwise the Saudis will simply end up sucking all the money out of the global economy.

      What better way to churn that money back into the global economy than to spend a cool $billion here on jets, and $billions there on tanks, and another few $billion on attack choppers.

      The West simply can't stop selling that stuff to the Saudis, precisely because they can't think of any other way of getting those petro-dollars back into circulation.

      It has nothing to do with balance-of-power, much less of power-projection. It is all to do with balance-of-trade.

  • US: Israeli Defense Minister 'undermining' two-state solution
    • Gosh! Thanks for the heads-up, Mr State Dept Flunky!

      It never occured to me that this decision would "undermine the two-state solution".

      Never, not in a million years... heck... I could kick myself.... it's so obvious now that it's been pointed out....

      Thanks heaps, dude!

      Yours, etc,
      Boogie Ya'alon.

  • Why did Turkey dare shoot down a Russian Plane? The Proxy War in Syria
    • Hmm, so the Russian plane was inside Turkish airspace for mere seconds? So before that, it was in Syrian airspace and after that, Syrian airspace? But for a few seconds it cut a corner that meant it was in Turkish airspace?

      Hardly seems a justification for shooting it down, now, is it?

  • Did Daesh/ ISIL's Paris attacks bolster al-Assad? Spain calls him 'lesser of evils'
    • Have to admire Putin's handling of the situation.

      It was a given that after this Paris attack that Hollande would rush his one aircraft carrier to launch some Look At Me! Look How Tough I Am! raids on ISIS.

      Putin could have humiliated Hollande by putting his ships and planes in the way but, no, he declared solidarity with his fellow victim of terrorism (ahem, Sinai plane, anyone?) and offered Hollande any help he needed.

      What does Hollande do now? Can he refuse that help without looking venal? Can Obama complain about such cooperation without looking even more venal?

  • What Obama should tell Netanyahu this Week (But won't)
    • I wonder if Obama had the good sense to count his fingers after shaking Netanyahu's hand.

      After all, that foreigner shows every sign of stealing everything else.

    • " Just let the resolution through, and let the UNSC set sanctions if it likes."

      Not that it will ever happen, but note that Congress can't override a Chapter VII Security Council Resolution that places sanctions on military aid to a rogue state.

      Article 25 of the UN Charter clearly says that all member states agree to abide by a "decision" of the Security Council.

      So if the UNSC "decides" that all states must suspend all military aid to - oh, just sayin' - a state such as Israel then all member states of the UN are under a treaty obligation to suspend such aid.

      Why?

      Because the USA has already agreed to abide by such a decision when it signed the Charter, and according to the Constitution that signature on that treaty makes that stipulation The Law Of The Land.

      Note that this doesn't interfere with Congress' legislative power under the Constitution - far from it, Congress can can still vote that allocation of money each and every year.

      But the disbursement of said moneys would have to be suspended for as long as such a resolution is in place, meaning, for as long as the Security Council was "seized of the matter".

    • Obama can actually nobble Israel military aid fairly easily.

      Congress does hold the purse strings, but the Pentagon must OK all requests for foreign purchases of military equipment before those requests go before Congress.

      Congress gave you $5billion to spend in the USA, Minister Ya'alon? Fine, step right into the shop....

      That money will buy you a mountain of khaki-camouflaged military-grade condoms, and untold warehouses filled up to the rafters with army boots.

      Oh? You wanted Things That Go Bang?

      Agreed, you certainly will need some distress flares soon enough, and we're happy to sell you all that you could possibly need.

      But fighter jets? No.

      You'll complain to Congress? Tough, my Commander In Chief is someone else.....

  • Israel Requesting Over $5 Billion in US Military Aid
    • Such nonsense, Charles.

      If that were the reason then the "benefit" is much more effectively met by increasing the US defence budget by $50billion over the decade.

      That way
      (a) the defense contractors get all the follow-on benefits as well (hangar construction, services, etc.)
      (b) the US military actually gets a fillup in the form of more jets, more refuelling planes, more Osprey's, etc.
      (c) Israeli doesn't get to skim 20% off the top to spend on propping up its own (= rival to the USA) defense industry.

      After all, ask yourself this: who makes the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3?

      The correct answer: Not The USA.

    • Some points pop out of this article:
      1) WFT? Who in their right mind *rewards* someone for attempting to undermine you? In what way does that send the message that You Do Not To Mess With Me?
      2) If you are then the items on that shopping list should not be that "reward", precisely because they are weapons that would enable Israel to launch a unilateral attack on Iran *in* *spite* of Uncle Sam. Why give a recalcitrant the very things he needs to go Even More Rogue on you?
      3) One of the items on that list - F-15 fighters - should set all sorts of alarm bells ringing regarding the timing of Bibi's war. Think about it: the Boeing F-15 assembly line is idle (or the USAF could simply "sequestrate" several squadrons of USAF F-15c jets tomorrow). Do. Not. Give. Him. Weapons. That. Allow. Him. To. Go. It. Alone.
      4) Lockheed must be displeased with that Israeli non-vote-of-confidence in the F-35, because if Israel believed the F-35 project timeline then it'd ask for more of them, it wouldn't ask for more F-15s.

  • Obama gives up on Israeli-Palestinian peace during his Administration
    • "Of course not. Can you take a joke?"

      So you are presuming to speak for Spyguy as well as for Hunter Watson?

    • Sorry, slip of the keyboard:
      International customary law isn’t made in the UNSC either, it is made in the state practices of an overwhelming majority of states.

    • HW: "So, is it not the case that relevant UNSC Resolutions may provide legitimate bases for the issuance of sanctions by, say, the U.N. itself, the E.U. or individual European nation states?"

      Err, no, and your use of the weasel word "legitimate" instead of "legal" suggests very strongly that you don't believe yourself either. UN Resolutions can only provide a legal basis for sanctions imposed by the Security Council itself under the authority that it has been granted by Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

      HW: "If they may provide standards in international litigation about such issuance,"....

      ....except that they do not; if the USA and/or the EU decide that they want to Go One Better than the UNSC by imposing their own (i.e. unilateral) sanctions then the legal basis for those sanctions stand or fall entirely on their legal authority to impose those unilateral sanctions on other sovereign states.

      They can't hide behind the UNSC's coat tails while they do so, precisely because there is nothing in the UN Charter that says that member states are entitled to Go One Better Than The Security Council.

      HW: .."they are a part of the international law system."

      And since they don't, well, gosh, they aren't.

      HW: "Custom is not a legislature either, yet it can constitute binding precedent in international legal proceedings."

      You might want to brush up on what constitutes "custom" in "customary international law".

      There is no "custom" that says that the member states have a right to play a game of one-upmanship on the UN Security Council, and the fact (and it is a fact) that the USA and EU regularly do so does not make that one-upmanship a "custom", precisely because The Rest Of The World does not play that particular game.

      There is a reason why the USA calls itself "the exceptional nation", Hunter, and that self-proclaimed reason goes a long, long, way towards explaining exactly what its oft-displayed bullying behaviour Does Not A Custom Make.

      HW: "And of course the UNSC is a legislature of sorts."

      And, of course, there is no such thing as a "world legislature", and the UNSC is in no was "a sort of one".

      International treaty law isn't made in the UNSC, it is made by states signing binding pieces of paper.

      International treaty law isn't made in the UNSC either, it is made in the state practices of an overwhelming majority of states.

      Honestly, it really is that simple.

    • "It was designed to become international law by adoption in the UNSC."

      The Security Council is not a world legislature, therefore its resolutions can not "become international law".

      The UN is a political body, and therefore a resolution in the SC is a political pronouncement by the countries who currently have a seat on that council that *this* crisis or *that* threat can/should/could (there is a sliding scale) be dealt with *thus* and *so*.

      The reason why there is that sliding scale is because:
      a) various chapters of the Charter allow the council to make recommendations ("calls upon") or to issue orders ("decides that") that range from a mild We Do Not Approve all the way up to We're Slapping Sanctions to the ultimate, which is Bang! You're Dead!.

      But they are all political solutions to practical problems, not "international law".

      The "international law" part isn't the resolutions themselves, but the UN Charter (the pre-eminent multinational treaty) itself which gives the Security Council the authority to vote on those resolutions.

      In particular, Article 25, which makes any "decision" of the council something that all states have already agreed to abide by.

      So a UNSC resolution that "calls upon" states to do something is not compulsory. But a UNSC resolution that "decides that" this must be done... well.... it's gotta be done.

    • There is nothing "impeachable" in the POTUS instructing his Ambassador at the UN to vote "Yes", or to vote "No", or to remain silent.

      Politically there will be consequences, but there can no "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" in faithfully carrying out the office of the President.

      And there is no question - none whatsoever - that this includes the authority to instruct the USA Ambassador how to cast vote his/her vote in the UN.

  • Putin's Dilemma: How To Respond If A Bomb Caused Sinai Air Crash
    • It is the height of pointlessness for you to claim that this is an act of "vengeance" for the downing of Flight 317 if you refuse to identify who is being "vengeful".

      You insist it isn't Malaysia. We can rule out ISIS.

      The dutch?
      Ukrainians
      Australia?

      In the absence of a perpetrator then your theory is no more credible than a theory that this is an Act Of God e.g. Mighty Zeus had some worshippers aboard that Malaysian plane, and so he smote the Russian plane out of the sky.

    • Sorta like how the blowing up of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie just happened to occur 6 months after the USS Vincennes blew Iran Air Flight 655 out of the sky with a surface to air missile?

      Is that what you are suggesting?

      Because in that case that oh-so-suspicious timing ended up with the finger of blame for Lockerbie being pointed at Libya, rather than at Iran.

      Odd how suspicious coincidences end up being..... coincidental.

    • So are you saying that the Malaysians are responsible for downing this Russian plane?

    • If it does turn out to be a bomb, well, ponder this: the USA has (supposedly) been raining bombs on ISIS for nearly two years, and ISIS has shown no desire to exact vengeance.

      And yet here is Russia, not even two months into an air campaign that (supposedly) is aimed at Every Rebel Group But ISIS, and suddenly ISIS not only feels the urgent need to retaliate but also displays a capability that they had hitherto given no hint.

      And that doesn't seem odd to you?

  • Netanyahu taps Squatter who called Obama Muslim hate sympathizer, as he demands $5 bn./yr. from U.S.
    • Mark Regev will henceforth restrict himself to straight-faced lying to the Brits, rather than to all comers.

      Hey, he deserves the break. It can't be easy being that venal. He needs a cushy job in London to recuperate, after which time he'll be ready to stand for the Knesset on the Likud ticket.

    • Everyone knows how this will play out

      Netanyahu will arrive in Washington and behind closed doors will insist that he is appalled - utterly appalled! - that the normal vetting process has failed so abysmally.

      He will agree with the Americans that such a person is completely unacceptable and, yes, yes, of course this man must be cashiered.

      But you understand how it is, Mr. President - an Israeli PM can't be seen to buckle under outside pressure, even over someone this vile.

      So give me a week, Mr. President, and then I'll "come to my own conclusion" and horsewhip this man in public.

      And then..........

      Netanyahu will fly home, and even as his is stepping off the plane he will announce to the Israeli press that Obama said he has no problem with Baratz being employed as Netanyahu's spokesman. Next question, please?

      And while the Obama Administration fumes he'll laugh.

      Heck, he may even leak the news himself so that all Israelis can laugh along with him at Obama's expense.

  • In Rare Victory, Syrian Army breaks ISIL siege of West Aleppo
    • Now that the SAA has secured their supply route to Aleppo the next step must be to repay the favour to the rebels i.e. cut the rebel resupply routes coming down from Turkey.

      The SAA can't do that themselves, but there is someone who can: the Kurdish YPG, who are itching to close the gap between Kobane and the Kurdish enclave at Afrin.

      They aren't willing to make that move yet, because:
      a) The USA insists that the YPG strike south towards Raqqa, and
      b) The Turks are rattling their sabers and threatening to bomb the YPG if it makes a move towards Afrin.

      The Kurds therefore need an assurance that if they do make that move then someone - and I'm sure they don't care who it is - will keep the Turkish airforce off their back.

      The USA is unwilling to do that, and at this moment the Russians aren't in a position to offer that protection.

      But they soon will be. Keweiris airbase is perfectly positioned to throw a protective umbrella over YPG forces operating between Kobane and Afrin.

      That's why the push to relieve the siege of Keweiris is being pressed so very hard, and why the Kurdish YPG isn't doing anything except sit on its hands i.e the Russians have struck a secret deal with the Kurds, along the lines of "when we take Keweiris you then strike towards Afrin, and we'll keep the Turks from interfering".

      That's also why Obama has made the otherwise-inexplicable announcement that he is sending 50 Special Forces dudes to YPG HQ - he has wind of that deal, and he hopes that US SF eyes inside YPG headquarters will spike that deal.

  • Syria: US Boots on Ground risks Conflict with Turkey, not Russia
    • It has been reported in this McClatchy article:
      link to mcclatchydc.com

      Polat Can: "We in the YPG have a strategic goal, to link Afrin with Kobani,”

      McClatchy: "American military officials say the U.S. won’t back any such operation, and officials in Ankara say Turkey would block it, by force if necessary."

      The Americans do not want the YPG to strike out to the West. Period.

      I don't doubt that the USA would *like* to see ISIS cut off from all resupply.

      Sure, they would. But Ankara has other ideas, and so the Americans have to weigh up:
      a) Cutting off ISIS at the knees, against
      b) Watching Erdogan go full-tilt ape-shit crazy
      and they have made the decision that avoiding (b) is far more important than achieving (a).

      Sad, but true.

      Such is the business of being a super-power, where the MO is not so much to be "indispensable" as it is "reprehensible".

    • JC: ..."special ops troops at an HQ of the Kurdish YPG in northeast Syria for the purposes of training and strategic counselling"....

      Oh, please, pull the other one.

      The USA wants the YPG to strike south against Raqqa. The Kurds think (correctly) that this is stupide: they want to strike west towards Afrin.

      The USA opposes that plan (as, far more vehemently, does Turkey).

      So you have a patron who wants his client to do *this*, and a client who is tempted to ignore that patron and do *that* instead.

      What's a superpower to do in those circumstances?

      Why, they embed these guys in amongst those troops:
      link to en.wikipedia.org

      That's what these "special ops troops at an HQ of the Kurdish YPG" are being sent to do.

      They aren't being sent to "train" the Kurds.
      They aren't being sent to "counsel" the Kurds.
      They aren't being sent to "warn off" the Turks.

      They are being sent to make sure that these damn Kurds stick to the script that Washington has written for them.

      The script says that they go south - literally - and if they don't then the USA will ensure that the whole damn Kurdish enterprise goes south - figuratively.

  • Syria: Will US arming of Kurdish-led Northeast Rebels Provoke Turkey?
    • Fascinating report at McClatchy:
      "U.S. officials hope the YPG will now turn its attention to Raqqa, the Syrian city that is the defacto capital of the Islamic State"....

      OK, that's what the USA "hopes" the Kurds will do.
      But what do the Kurds think if that idea?

      ..." 'Our prime and most important goal is to liberate Jarablus and to connect Kobani with Afrin,' Can told McClatchy. Capturing Raqqa, a mostly Arab city, is 'not really' a PYD objective, he said. 'Not for now,' he said."

      The PYD does appear to have stopped listening to the purveyors of The Audacity Of Hope.

    • Which, I suppose, shows just how crazy this world can be.

      After all, it appears to be a world in which a rebel organization can show much more common-sense - and a much better grasp of the concept of realpolitik - than does the leadership of the most powerful nation on the planet.

      Russia: Join with us and together we can prevail!
      YPG: Yep, OK, sounds good to me.
      USA: No, never! Not now, not ever!.

    • There is another possibility: that the USA airdrops all those lovely weapons to the YPG, who then turn around and throw their lot in with Russia and the SAA.

      Why not? It's not as if the Kurds owe Obama anything...

  • What is Russia's Strategy in Syria & Why does Egypt Approve?
    • Well, Russia's "strategic aim" is pretty clear-cut, and it is exactly what Putin explained in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

      Russia wants everyone to take seriously the notion that States Are Sovereign, and therefore nobody has a "right" to dismember a sovereign state in the name of The Great Game.

      Syria is a state, and if Assad falls then Syria itself will disintegrate. It will no longer be "a state" but, instead, a number of little fiefdoms ruled by local warlords.

      That is an outcome that is unacceptable to Russia, and that's why they have pitched in to help.

      Not because they like Assad, or that they owe him anything, nor because they think there is some advantage to be gained for Russia at the USA's expense.

      No. None of the above.

      Assad's Government is in charge of the Institutions Of State, whereas everyone else wants to upturn that and replace it with..... Who Knows What?

      As far as Russia is concerned there is no contest: chaos is an unacceptable option.

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