Recent Comments

  • Pope to Trump: Climate Change is Real and we have to act in Solidarity (5)
    • As hard as it might be to believe, uranium is a sustainable source of energy, enough energy if used properly in fast neutron reactors. There is always more in seawater.

  • Thousands protest against Trump in ‘hellhole’ Brussels (1)
  • What Iranian women want: rights, jobs and a seat at the table (1)
    • Iran illustrates that education alone will not eradicate sexism. With a population that is one of the most highly educated in the Middle East, the culture is still stuck in a medieval view of the place of women. I have not seen any attempts to analyze why this is so.

  • US Reputation under Trump Tanking, Costing Economy Billions (2)
  • The Other Terrorism: Toxic CO2 Gas Promoted by Trump Budget, Shell (5)
    • I remember about a dozen years ago a series of full page magazine ads touting the benefits of global warming: happier plants and more crops. I can't recall which petroleum related outfit produced the ads; but after a year or so they stopped and I wondered why.

  • Pope to Trump: Climate Change is Real and we have to act in Solidarity (5)
    • There is an attitude of mind that I began to notice changing sixty years ago, and over the intervening years it has become almost its direct opposite. In essence it is the principle of economy, it used to be a virtue and now it's almost a joke. One bought things to last and maintained and looked after them. I still wear suits, trousers and a couple of overcoats bought in the 70's. Kids' clothes were handed down from older to younger siblings, socks were darned; when I was first called up into the army in 1955 we were issued needles, thread, and buttons with which to keep our kit mended. We didn't throw away wrapping paper or string; I still can't. If you needed to buy something, you saved for it, you saved for marriage and a home. Things were only discarded after serious consideration and if they could not be put to further use, I suspect that may be the practical origin of the patchwork quilt. Although my childhood was passed in the war and its immediate aftermath, that was not the reason for such economies, people had always been economical, it was natural and in a sense virtuous, waste was sort of sinful, waste not, want not, was the oft repeated mantra. Looking back it seems to me such attitudes of mind and their resulting behaviour patterns need to be reinvigorated, and the concepts of 'want' and 'need' separated again; this is surely not impossible in the era of social media. By the way, even four years ago the UN estimated that a third of the world's food is wasted link to un.org . I really do believe that if we could rediscover the virtues of economy, the rest would follow.

    • How dare Pope Francis attempt to school the mental giant many elected to be our President. The pope had better get it right! Climate changes caused by human activity is a Obama/Clinton HOAX!! The melting of the Earth’s poles and all the glaciers is GODS WILL! As is everything this amazing President utters, the pope should count himself fortunate to have even met with such a learned and divinely connected superhuman as Donald J. Trump.

      Did Pope Francis and his highness Trump dance with swords or decorate each other? Nope. Did the pope offer a bomb-proof lodging to super POTUS? No. Did the pope purchase 115 M1A2 General Dynamics tanks? Vatican parking is limited. So, no.

      Pope Francis insulted our divinely-elevated rotund President by asking our Slovenian First Lady what she was feeding him? Potica?

      link to washingtonpost.com

      Good thing Melania is a devout Catholic or that pope would be fresh Twitter-bait.

      The Vatican leg of the “Religions for Profits Tour” was a failure because the pope was unable to schedule Trump’s exorcism.

    • Oh, thanks a million, Frank. Fixed!

    • erratum: " . . . run on coal." s/b " . . . NOT run on coal."

  • Terror and Geopolitics: Manchester 2017 and 1996 (17)
    • Any terrorist act by any human brute must be strongly condemned by one and all

      It is an immoral retaliation for what have been happening may be in the Middle East

      We do not know yet the real perpetrators at Manchester but it may be a retaliation whereby poor and innocent people have been targeted

      The punished group of innocent people had no direct association with the geopolitical developments

      It is true that in times of war and armed conflict, collective punishment has resulted in atrocities, and violation of the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions.(It is happening right now in Syria by all fighters)

      Historically, occupying powers have used collective punishment to retaliate against and deter attacks on their forces by Resistance movements (e.g. destroying entire towns and villages where such attacks have occurred).

      But two wrongs do not make a wrong ( a terrorist act) right

    • well said, spot on

    • The threat of Muslim radicals and extremists to the Western nations is rooted in "how easy it is for rebellious Muslims to see, hear, experience, and hate the some of the Western policies

      In general western countries support for Israel that keeps Palestinians under the crushing boots of Israel

      The occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is as unacceptable as Vietnam was in 1970s

      U.S. support for apostate( defactors from genuine Islamic spirit), corrupt, and tyrannical Muslim governments that pretend to serve Muslims but enhance their personal wealth make Muslims in the streets unhappy

      Iraq War has affected some of the terrorists groups such as Al-Qaeda and it has affected the Western nations too

      The instability in the Iraq War has benefited Al-Qaeda and similar groups without serving the interests of Western nations .

      The terror threat to the western world continues to grow due to the stupidity of some lone wolf Muslim name bearing terrorists and simultaneously these terrorist acts do a lot of harm to the peaceful lives of Muslim minorities living in the West but at the same time the Western nations fail to grasp the nature of the struggle in which they are engaged:

  • Are Iran and Saudi Arabia Heading Toward War? (12)
    • I agree with most of the above analysis. Israel tried its best to trigger a US attack on Iran but they couldn't get their wish. The biggest irony is that Iran is of no threat whatsoever to US's interests in the region. Even in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran's actual position is at least partially aligned with US's purported position. This makes it hard for for the US to make an argument to its own public. If it were an easy war that wouldn't be a problem but as many suggested above, it is going to be hard with no particular end game: US and its Arab coalation will never be able to physically occupy Iran and regime change will be out of question because almost every single Iranian will unit behind their government in the face of an aggression. For Saudis to justify a war with Iran is also very difficult: the cost will be extremely high (perhaps the end of KSA) and the reasons are non-existent. Everyone knows that Iran will never attack Sauid Arabia or any other country as they don't have any reason to do so. Finally I would like to present a different interpretation: all this hoopla about Iran is really not about Iran. Isreal, US and GCC clearly understan and see their failures in all aspects of the regional affairs and the noise about Iran is simply a ploy to cover it - for the time being.

  • What is the Sunni-Shiite Divide into Which Trump just Stepped? (2)
    • Good summary. However the article missed the important geopolitical fact that Azerbayejan, Bahrain, Iraq and Iran have majority Shia population. Also it is noteworthy that the current strand of terrorism is essentially Sunni in nature and in particular of Wahabbi sect.

  • Trump, Saudi Arabia and yet another arms deal (3)
    • $119B in weapons sales to anyone in no way encourages peace.

      Included in the Trump deal were:

      • 4 Littoral Combat Ships for $6 billion. An $11.5 billion deal for four ships was approved by the State Department in 2015, but hadn't reached the final contract stage after the Saudis had sticker shock. The final letter of agreement on the littoral combat ships is the highest-profile element of the new deals.
      • $3.4 billion shipment of AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters, a deal already negotiated.
      about $500 million in what could become a $3.5 billion deal for as many as 48 CH-47 Chinook helicopters and related equipment built by Boeing. That sale was approved by the State Department and Congress in December 2016.
      • $6-billion pledge to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Blackhawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, which is expected to result in the creation of 450 jobs in Saudi Arabia.
      • 115 M1A2 General Dynamics (GD) tanks and some number of HERCULES Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV). The estimated cost was $1.15 billion, and this seems to be the deal notified to Congress in August 2016, though the details are not entirely consistent.
      • Theater High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] missile defense system. Jared Kushner reportedly helped push the THAAD deal through by asking Lockheed's CEO Marillyn Hewson to lower the price for the Saudis. As of early 2012 discussions were under way for a THAAD sale to Saudi Arabia. Washington was also urging the kingdom to upgrade its 16 Patriot Advanced Capability-2 batteries, which have 96 missiles, to PAC-3 standard.
      • more Pac-3 Patriot missiles from Lockheed is expected as it has already been approved by Congress
      • Raytheon “smart bombs” - Trump was expected to lift the Obama administration's hold on a $1 billion sale of Penetrator Warheads and Paveway laser-guided bombs.
      • sale by Boeing of 3,000 tail kits to convert unguided munitions into GPS-guided bombs.
      • nearly $18 billion programme to upgrade Saudi Arabia’s military command-and-control structure
      • satellite technology
      • radar

      link to globalsecurity.org

      A fair question - how much stock does the Trump family own in these companies?

  • Rouhani's win a Victory for Reform, will Trump waste Opportunity? (2)
  • The Other Terrorism: Toxic CO2 Gas Promoted by Trump Budget, Shell (5)
  • Terror and Geopolitics: Manchester 2017 and 1996 (17)
  • What is the Sunni-Shiite Divide into Which Trump just Stepped? (2)
    • As a student mainly of European history and a non-Muslim I lack the credentials - and the credibility - of the author, but I believe he seriously understates a major point:

      "Hussein was killed and his forces defeated. For the Shia community, Hussein became a martyr."

      My understanding is that Imam Hussein was lured to his death under false pretenses and murdered, not killed in battle. This act of treachery, not merely martyrdom, has fueled much of the distrust and what I perceive as a Shiite compulsion to right wrongs. Most that I know are Ismaili, and they wear their dedication to justice on their sleeves.

      I would add as an aside, as Hegel turned Feuerbach on his head, and Marx turned Hegel on his head, so too did Kkomeini turn on its head the traditional Shiite attitude toward earthly government.

      I welcome any corrective comments if I have gone astray.

  • Boycott Trump! Hit him where it Hurts (1)
  • The Other Terrorism: Toxic CO2 Gas Promoted by Trump Budget, Shell (5)
    • And this is what Shell does instead to ensure it is not challenged: link to truth-out.org

    • "Terrorism is properly defined as non-state actors using violence against civilians to achieve a political purpose. Some argue that this definition lets states off the hook to easily, and that there is state terrorism as well. International law, however, puts those actions under the rubric of “war crimes” or crimes against humanity. Me, I think state terrorism is a useful conception, though legally speaking it probably is synonymous with the latter two terms."

      The only reason why it would let states off the hook (for something that isn't even defined) is that we have eroded international law to such a degree that war crimes and crimes against humanity do not matter anymore (they should of course). In comparison, for the past decade, it appears the only crime that actually matters to the media or for which larger states will actually punish smaller states is the crime of terrorism (and that too on the proviso that the smaller state does not agree with the larger state's geopolitical will). If the less powerful state agrees to everything the more powerful state dictates (eg Saudi Arabia and United States), then it can do whatever it likes.

      It's important to note that some of the most important crimes are war crimes or crimes against humanity. It's when we deliberately obfuscate the definition of terrorism that we enlarge it's importance: terrorism has hurt a great number of people (in the Near East and globally), but it's not the only mechanism through which humanity has suffered. A great deal of the most awful crimes in history aren't terrorism, but crimes against humanity.

  • Trump, Saudi Arabia and yet another arms deal (3)
    • $110 B-- about one tenth of our own defense budget.

      And in the kleptocratic age, I need to ask, how much "commission" does Jared Kushner get from that?

  • The Other Terrorism: Toxic CO2 Gas Promoted by Trump Budget, Shell (5)
  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • Al-Khwarizmi was Persian-born but based in Baghdad. In fact, the Abbasid dynasty had Persian lineages and a large percentage of people with Persian origins lived in Baghdad and adjoining areas at the time. Another Muslim polymath with Persian origin of the time was Rhazes or al-Razi who produced an encyclopedia of medicine.

    • Zarif cuts to the point “ Ockham's razor”
      link to twitter.com

    • Look for a new executive order next week that might actually be constitutional. The loser ban executive order!

  • Alabama Passes Bill to Protect Confederate Monuments even at cost of Economy (11)
    • There quite a few State erected historical markers throughout the South that refer to slavery.

      Although museums are not very common, there are some, including:
      Old Slave Mart, Charleston SC;
      The Whitney Plantation (near New Orleans LA), which is now a major slavery museum;

      Many other museums have slavery exhibits, including;
      The National Civil Rights Museum, which opened in Memphis in 1991 and was built around the Lorraine Motel, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

      However, there was NO federally funded museum or monument dedicated to slavery in the U.S. until 2016, when the National Museum of African-American History and Culture opened in Washington as part of the Smithsonian Institution, a project supported by $250 million in federal funding; exhibits on slavery stand alongside others commemorating the African-American experience.

      As for the Jim Crow era, the former Woolworth's store in Greensboro NC now houses a museum dedicated to the beginnings of the civil rights movements that began there in 1960.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
  • Supreme Court Strikes down N. Carolina's Racial Gerrymander (1)
  • Terror and Geopolitics: Manchester 2017 and 1996 (17)
  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • You have a point: I thought 110 was IT. Perhaps it bears revisiting the cost of this stuff. Bear in mind, any deliveries must defer to Israel's requirement for a qualitative edge. But there must be a plot/understanding in play. KSA's predilection to fight to last (US) soldier is understood, so that's one place to watch as events unfold. Something deeper must be afoot.

    • $110b in TEN years. Besides The Saudis Do not even know hpw to use the stuff they are buying. Israel knows this and has ALLOWED Trump to go ahead.

    • U kidding! Boat load of dollars?
      Saudia will INVEST in the US and have decided to buy $350billion worth of arms for the UIS which will keep hundreds and thousands of americans employed!

  • Terror and Geopolitics: Manchester 2017 and 1996 (17)
    • There is still much to be learned, but the recent disclosure that the perpetrator was a British born young man of Libyan heritage evidently introverted, and possibly close to mental illness from accounts, adds new dimensions to any analysis. Alienation seems to be a factor brought about by being colonised in the host society, instead of being able to shape and influence its development. Perhaps we should be looking at what is happening within host societies as much as without and the interaction between internal and external colonisation processes to come up with ideas about how to forestall these terrible events.

    • I was under the impression any group with a chance of replacing the Saudi Regime would be an improvement. Give Saudi Arabia an Arab Spring, no? Please improve my understanding of why that would be bad. I assumed most Saudi dissidents yearn in a progressive liberal direction, relatively. feminists...democracy activists... is this wishful thinking?

    • Building an alliance of Sunnis against Iran/Shia will consolidate the divide & create an opening for ISIS,… link to t.co

    • There’s little doubt in my mind that the deranged attacker saw, was literally impacted by the routine goings-on outside the Manchester Arena as though it was the Roman Coliseum during a never-ending Saturnalia. For the mentally deranged and culturally displaced perpetrator the imminent victims were not children, young women, girls, but a shameless and shocking sight to his fully fundamentalized mind’s eye. He killed them because he was sick and in his sickness saw odious and irredeemable societal sickness everywhere. They were the incarnation of a satanic offense, of a hideous defiance to the puristic logic he had so thoroughly and unreservedly internalized–their very sight poison to his mind, a pedestrian and routinized pornography that he could never tire or accustom himself to. In his derangement he became possessed of an idea and that idea was the culmination and the termination of an otherwise insoluble despair, in killing 22 innocents this terrorist sought to escape the confines of the hellish labyrinth within which he found himself mercilessly encased.

    • All the analysis applied here cannot approximate the brilliant observation of Theresa May, that an expression of "callous cowardice" is the true villain.

    • This is a good and succinct analysis. Once again, American-led and instigated actions have resulted in blowback among Europeans who went along with Uncle Sam, being dragged into this morass. Something to consider historically is how differently the UK reacted to Irish terrorism -- no matter the provocation, the UK did NOT send troops into the Republic of Ireland or bomb Dublin. IRA terrorism was treated as criminality, not an excuse to make war against an entire people or nation. That's a lesson the US would have done well to heed after 2001, but of course American policy since that time has been about a lot more than simply "fighting the bad guys" (terrorists). Unfortunately, American desires for global hegemony are creating more terrorists every year.

    • Thank you for this thoughtful and sober analysis of the terrorist atrocity in Manchester, which as usual explores the bigger picture and puts the gruesome event in context. I lost my cousin’s daughter in the bombings in London on July 7, 2005, and I can feel the pain of the families of young people who were massacred. There were 12 children aged between 8-16 among the victims. The reaction of government officials and the people has been exemplary.

      I do not wish to add to Saudi Arabia’s problems, as I believe that if the current regime falls the alternative may well be worse in the short term. However, this terrorist activity that has been claimed by ISIS, reinforces what you wrote about Trump’s praise of an absolute monarchy that spreads anti-Western and anti-Shi’ite hatred around the world.

      Praising Saudi Arabia as a bastion of moderation and anti-extremism is totally bizarre. It is like praising an arsonist as a fireman. I don’t know what message his speech sent to the region and to the Islamic world. That clumsy speech demeaned America and betrayed the cause of freedom and democracy in the world for the sake of a few pieces of silver. If we wish to see the end of Salafi fanaticism and an Islamic Reformation, we should get serious and must encourage moderation and some measure of democracy and human rights in the countries that propagate that distorted version of Islam.

  • Trump, Saudi Arabia and yet another arms deal (3)
    • We really know very little about the AE society. We see the wealth of the monarchy, the shining cities in the dessert, but we know nothing about the other part of the society in Saudi Arabia.
      We do know they practice Sharia law, including decapitations, women are not allowed to drive cars and are covered in black most of the time.
      Are all Arabs wealthy, is there no poverty, are journalists allowed to film life of ordinary people?
      Am I missing something?

  • Terror and Geopolitics: Manchester 2017 and 1996 (17)
    • Britain "is currently part of a US-led military coalition bombing ISIL facilities in an attempt to defeat the organization."

      An abiding principle of our defense strategy is that the enemy will never be afforded sanctuary. During the Vietnam War the Vietcong sanctuaries in Laos and Cambodia were severely dealt with by US air power. The war against the Taliban included many drone strikes in Pakistan, The war against al Qaeda started with a war against its host country, Afghanistan, and eventually bombing Somalia, Libya, and Yemen. Our enemies can run but never hide.

      But we can't imagine our homeland, or Britain's, or France's to be seen by our enemies as sanctuary, and thus legitimate targets. The big difference is that the West has massive military forces that can bomb and destroy virtually any target on earth without losing a drop of Western blood. ISIS resources limits it to doing Manchesters. As horrific as these incidents are, they are part and parcel of asymmetric warfare.

    • One significant difference between the IRA and ISIS is that although the IRA used larger bombs, they sent warnings shortly before the explosions in order to minimize casualties. ISIS uses suicide bombers in crowded areas to kill as many people as possible.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
  • Wikileaks' Assange claims Victory after Sweden drops Charges, Vows to Publish More (9)
    • The courts were bought in both countries. As Professor Cole points out, the whole scenario was a stitch-up. US government officials openly threatened Wikileaks and Assange from early 2010 (the release of Collatoral Damage):

      On the first day the cables were published, Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State stated, “This disclosure is not just an attack on America – it’s an attack on the international community.” Sarah Palin responded by stating that Assange had “blood on his hands” and asked the rhetorical question, “Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”

      The Espionage Act of 1917 is a very serious and broad statute, conviction under which bears dire consequences:

      To convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies. This was punishable by death or by imprisonment for not more than 30 years or both.

      Under the Espionage Act, the Rosenbergs were executed in 1953.

      Anna Ardin has CIA ties, USAID financial ties and published a seven step guide on how to get revenge on cheating boyfriends. One (female) Swedish prosecutor dismissed the complaints as non-actionable before being bumped off the case.

      [when] the police declared that Assange was to be arrested and questioned about possible rape and molestation. Wilen became so distraught at this that she refused to give any more testimony or sign what had been taken down.

      That same night, a prosecutor issued a warrant for Assange’s arrest. The prosecutor’s office did not contact Assange. Instead, within hours, it leaked to the tabloid newspaper Expressen the statements made by the two women. The newspaper’s front page read: “Assange hunted for rape in Sweden.”

      This was just the first evidence of high-level collusion, involving the police, the prosecutor’s office and the media, to destroy Assange’s reputation.

      Within 24 hours of the arrest warrant, there was a further twist. A more senior prosecutor dismissed the rape allegations, leaving only the lesser accusation of molestation. Assange voluntarily went to the police on August 30 and made a statement. During the interview he expressed his fears that whatever he said would end up in the Expressen. The interviewing police officer said: “I’m not going to leak anything.” The interview was nevertheless leaked.

      Assange was still not charged with any offence—a fact that remains to this day. Instead, he was assured by the prosecutor that he was free to leave the country while an inquiry continued, an assurance that was later dramatically reversed.

      When Ardin couldn't manipulate Sofia Wilen into pressing any kind of charges ("I only wanted him to take an STD test"), Ardin was forced to invent some of her own:

      Ardin then made up her own story of sexual assault. As so many friends knew she was having sex with Assange, she could not claim non-consensual sex. So she manufactured her story to fit in with Wilen’s concerns by alleging the affair of the torn condom. But the torn condom she produced has no trace of Assange on it. It is impossible to wear a condom and not leave a DNA trace.

      Ms. Ardin deleted many tweets which directly contradicted her police testimony and hid her weblog.

      The detailed record doesn't look like sexual assault to me, Kenneth Almquist. It looks more like two women quarreling over bed privileges. Or like a conspiracy with Anna Ardin acting as the instigator and honeypot.

      For the folks who run Operation Gladio, setting up a left wing honeypot and manufactured rape charges is kid gloves treatment. Compromising and capturing Assange would be certainly worth compromising a medium value asset, n'est ce pas Kenneth? If first you don't succeed, try and try again.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • On further reflection, it seems to me there could be something brewing behind the curtains here. We have this 'I am not your enemy' speech accompanied by a vast military deal ($350 billion over 10 years with 110 now) the elements of which the KSA cannot possibly need and which would under present economic circumstances seem to represent a level of irresponsible extravagance, all this woven along with aggressive demonisation of Iran, swiftly followed by similar levels of anti-Iran invective in Israel. Could Trump, in exchange for the arms deal, after all he's a deal maker, be winking the offer to let them attack Iran while he turns a blind eye, or even covers their backs? I wouldn't put it passed him.

  • Terror and Geopolitics: Manchester 2017 and 1996 (17)
    • "Trying to understand global contemporary history is my own way of dealing with its tragedy." Good. It's a must way to approximate the answer and achieve peace. Unfortunately the MSM does not go for analysis, it only goes for circus and war.

  • Rouhani's win a Victory for Reform, will Trump waste Opportunity? (2)
    • Trump has stretched his highwire between the poles of despot Salman and demagogue Bibi, and that is where he's chosen to walk. They seem a grotesque pairing, as they have only 2 intersections of interest: "stability" enforced with an armored fist, and hatred for Iran.

      I believe the latter puts this trip and its consequences very much in the realm of missed opportunities for further detente with Iran.

  • Wikileaks' Assange claims Victory after Sweden drops Charges, Vows to Publish More (9)
    • Assange was accused of four offenses. Assange appealed in both Sweden and the UK, and courts ruled that all four of the alleged offenses are violations of the laws of both countries.

      You claim that Assange was not accused of committing sexual assault. To defend this claim, you would have to make the case than none of the four offenses qualified as sexual assault. But you only mention one of the four offenses (specifically, number 2).

      Furthermore, offense 2 is sexual assault under British law. You claim, without evidence, that offense 2 would not be prosecutable in most countries, but even if that's true I don't seen the relevance.

  • Erdogan, Trump, the Russians and General Flynn: The Tangled Web (4)
    • Kortepeter mislabels the entity that Flynn directed under Obama. It is the Defense Instelligence Agency, or DIA, not the Defense Intelligence "Unit."

      Janssen, what are you referring to? Obama did not nominate HRC for president. He did appoint her to be SecState, and aside from being somewhat more hawkish and pro-Sunni rebels in Syria than he was, she was largely a reasonably competent one, oh, unless you want to take seriously that email matter in which she imitated what her two predecessors had done. It was also at the time a politically smart move, putting his main rival for the presidency within the Dem party into his cabinet, hardly a "huge mistake."

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • They don't know anything about Islam as nobody told them. Even Obama, on 4 June 2009, talked about "the timeless city of Cairo", not understanding that Cairo was founded by the Fatimids in the 10th century.
      As regards Trump's bizarre appearance in Riyadh, it might be remembered as the DRIVE THEM OUT speech. Whatever this guy has trumpted in the last 1 1/2 years or so, it mainly applies to himself.

  • Are Iran and Saudi Arabia Heading Toward War? (12)
    • The youthful Saudi leaders who favor confrontation with Iran on the ground of sectarian hostility will be nowhere near the battle same as the Trump offsprings will be nowhere near any war he starts.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
  • America Should stay the Course with Rouhani (1)
    • Good news regarding the election. Yes, America should stay the course with Rouhani! Appreciate so many articles on the subject at "Informed Comment." Catch myself wondering if Iranians are wondering why readers here don't say more. I think there are probably many who do appreciate the large selection. Why I won't have time to go through each article carefully is due to the fact that what I was working Friday through Monday was pretty challenging [I may even drag a little on my day off tomorrow]. If people want to share an Informed Comment article...they aren't going to want their friends to find their own yarns about how hard they're working...following whichever. But if I voice my appreciation I'm gonna also feel constrained to confess why I can't read'em all!

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • Yeah, Trump does not know of The House of Wisdom in 9th century Baghdad or of Islamic science including mathematics and astronomy.

      Well we hardly expect intellectual astuteness from Trump who is too intellectually lazy to read - neither the executive orders he signs or the intelligence reports given to him by the intelligence services.

      It is doubtful that Trump has read book in his entire adult life.

    • What Trump and his minions do not know about the Middle East would fill the Library of Alexandria. What they do know barely fits on a match book cover. But ignorance about the rest of the world has always been a source of pride for most Americans, who take it for evidence of patriotism.

  • Was/Is there an Islamic Enlightenment? (de Bellaigue) (1)
  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
  • Alabama Passes Bill to Protect Confederate Monuments even at cost of Economy (11)
    • "On the other hand, we need to be reminded in history books and by historical statues and markers of our shared past. "

      Yes, we do. And I'll accept the Confederate monuments just as soon as there are some others erected which memorialize the slave markets, lynchings, and the injustices of the Jim Crow era. Perhaps any such monuments could include excerpts from the documents of secession which stressed the importance of slavery and the superiority of the white man.

  • Erdogan, Trump, the Russians and General Flynn: The Tangled Web (4)
    • I didn't think Yates told the Trump WH before they put Flynn in at NSC... I thought she told the WH Counsel after Flynn had been in office for a couple of weeks. Obama told Trump not to hire Flynn before he was appointed, but Yates' warning came after Flynn was hired.

    • Trump is the insane clown president. However, Obama nominated Hillary, another huge mistake.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • A good summary to which I would like to add one thing. Trump said that Hizbullah was created by Iran, which is ridiculous. They were created by Lebanese in response to the Israeli invasion. Robert Fisk's book Pity the Nation is a great account of that time.

    • Miller-Trump’s speech in Riyadh is so bizarre that one does not know where to begin. He certainly felt quite at home among the gilded palaces and chandeliers of his fellow billionaires who have very little concern for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. As Trump was speaking, the whole town of Qatif and the village of Awamiyya in Arabia’s Eastern Province were in lockdown due to the protests of the people calling for the release of their prisoners and for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.

      The Saudi ruler and thousands of so-called Saudi princes plunder the wealth of the country as though it is their personal property. No wonder that they called the whole country after their clan. Salman’s young and spoilt son Mohammad, at the age of 31, not only is deputy crown prince but is also in charge of the army, the economy and practically everything else in Saudi Arabia. While holidaying in the south of France a few months ago, he saw a super yacht belonging to a Russian tycoon, fancied it and bought it on the spot for 500 million euros, about 200 million euros more than the owner had paid for it. It is no wonder that he has no qualms about spending close to $400 billion on U.S. weapons and other deals. It is strange that the home of the most fanatical Muslim sect organizes a summit meeting to fight against religious extremism!

      What we are witnessing is the triumph of Netanyahu’s evil plan to unite Israel and the most reactionary Arabs to fight against Iran, while ignoring the plight of the occupied Palestinians. It is sad that the “leader of the free world” falls for this despicable plot. Speaking a day after a most vibrant and competitive election in Iran when 75% of eligible voters elected a moderate president and extended a hand of friendship to the West, he brands Iran as the source of terrorism, while closing his eyes to the lack of democracy, the suppression of women, and massive violation of human rights of his hosts. Truly nothing is more bizarre.

  • Erdogan, Trump, the Russians and General Flynn: The Tangled Web (4)
    • Sweet irony: "The Israeli Government complained that at that meeting, President Trump conveyed top secret material to the Russians, supplied by Jordan and Israel, about the I.S.I.S. Organization, thus endangering their own intelligence assets."

      Hold that quote beside this one from Bloomberg, and imagine the next bubble to pop: President Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a photo opportunity and rebutted last week’s reports that he disclosed sensitive Israeli intelligence on ISIS to Russian officials in the Oval Office, Bloomberg reports.

      Said Trump: “I never mentioned the word or the name Israel, never mentioned during that conversation. They’re all saying I did. So you have another story wrong. Never mentioned the word Israel.” Here's the link: link to bloomberg.com

      And now this from Axios: link to axios.com

      Oh, it's some jolly good blather, some jolly good....

  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election (42)
    • I am aware that KSA purchases weapons many fold the price that the United States sells to other countries, which makes the purchases all the more insipid. KSA must be the only country in the world that would willingly purchase 110 billion USD of weapons that they are unable to use or don't even amount to much. This is precisely the problem with the ruling elite in KSA: they believe there isn't a problem that money cannot fix. Unfortunately, the world is moving beyond petro-carbons, and no amount of money is going to reshape the Near East (much less the world at large) according to their aspirations.

    • No, Liinda. Abdulaziz took power in Riyadh in 1902 by a dawn raid. Hi family had ruled from there or nearby largely since the mid-1700s, although replaced by the Rashid family in the mid-late 1800s. Abdulaziz took Mecca and Medina in the 1920s from the Hashemites, where the title "King of Hejaz" was being used. By 1932, the current borders of modern Saudi Arabia were established and it had officially become what it is now, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. in the late 40s, Abdulaziz managed to get the first 50-50% profit-sharing deal with the oil majors operating as Aramco. Abdulaziz died in 1953, being succeeded by one of his 43 sons, Saud. All the kings since have been one of his sons, including the current one, Salman, although they are nearly all gone now. The biggest threat to their rule since 1902 was in 1929 when the Rashidis and the Ikhwan revolted against Abdulaziz, but he defeated them with significant assistance from the British through St-John Philby, father of later Soviet spy, Kim Philby. The older Philby was the first European to cross the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia. The US never propped up a seriously threatened Saudi monarch.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election (42)
    • No, back in those days it was the king of Guatemala, the king of Haiti, and the king of of one of the many west African countries, whose name I forget at the moment, that had the gall to elect a leftist Prime Minister.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • "Israelis ... expelled hundreds of thousands".
      It was European colonialists. "Israelis" weren't invented then.

    • "Then they condemn Iranian intervention in Syria but don’t mention that Saudi Arabia backed the radical terrorist group Jaysh al-Islam that had genocide against Syria’s Shiites on their minds."

      This is the first time I've seen IC refer to Jaysh al-Islam as a terrorist group. Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, and other terrorist groups supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar have already carried out pogroms against religious minorities in Syria and Iraq. It's not that they have "genocide on their minds," but they have actually emptied entire sections of Syria and Iraq through their carnage.

    • The mind continues to boogle that, starting in 2011 when Syria's civil war began (a mere ten years after 9/11), the US was once again supporting Al Qaeda and it's clones/off shoots. It's the most amazing geopolitical backflip to me since Reagan sold guns to the Iranians in the 1980s.

  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election (42)
    • You are wrong about this. I had my retirement in stock and I remember a huge plunge. In any case, if you had a trillion dollars in the market, you wouldn't want to lose 8% of it either.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • Thanks for this informed analysis and comment, so missing from the MSM reports I've heard about this.

    • I read Prof Cole's informative response to Trump's ghost written speech (Best line from the speech..."I am not here to be judgemental") and thought of Bob Schieffer's gratuitous but expected main stream media analysis .."Trump sounded presidential!"

      I'm not here to be judgmental but I like what Cohen recently wrote about Trump...."He’s a boy’s idea of a man. He’s a man’s idea of a boy."

    • How does one finish this sentence: Placing inside Saudi Arabia the headquarters from which to combat extremist ideology in the Middle East is like.....

    • He could hardly have expounded such truths, even if he was aware of them. More likely he was just trying to appear amiable. He joined a ceremonial sword dance in the same spirit, think of it like his daughter's ditty for Xi Jinping.

  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election (42)
    • I totally agree. In fact, the way that Khamenei is normally referred to is not as رهبر معظم انقلاب but often as rahbar-e enqelab or the leader of the revolution, or simply as leader. The honorific title simply means the honorable or esteemed leader of the revolution, rather than Supreme Leader. I believe that a more accurate rendering of his title in English would be the "religious" or the "clerical" leader of Iran, rather than the Supreme Leader.

      In fact, his importance in the society as a whole or in determining the course of the elections or even government policies are often exaggerated in the West. In 1997 election he backed Nateq-Nuri but Mohammad Khatami was elected, in 2013 election he backed Sa’id Jalili but Rouhani won. The only time when his involvement made a big difference was in the fraudulent 2009 election when Mir-Hoseyn Moussavi won but Khamenei forced Ahmadi-Nejad on the nation for a second term, something that he regretted later. The massive demonstrations after that rigged election persuaded Khamenei not to interfere openly in the elections again. Although it was clear that Ebrahim Raisi was his favorite choice this time, he openly said that he was not backing a special candidate and even those closest to him did not know how he would vote.

      To appreciate the difference that a president makes, just compare the governments of Ahmadi-Nejad with those of Khatami and Rouhani.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • I don't doubt that just about every person in the middle East knows exactly what Trump thinks of Muslims, but when a man like Trump arrives with boat loads of dollars for the taking, its prudent to forget about things he said on the election campaign stump. Even the most extreme hate and loathing can be bought off with a fist full of dollars!

  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election (42)
    • The stock market did not lose half of its value on 9/12 - it was closed that day and until the following week. When it reopened on 9/17, the DJI was, at its low for the day, down about 7-8%. The most it was down that week was about 14% and by early November, had recovered all its losses. Some stocks did worse, if course, but others did better.

    • An Ipad costs around 300 Euros. A small inexpensive car around 10,000 Euros. People who have fairly new gasoline or diesel cars are not going to trade them in for a new electric car, even if they see a refueling infrastructure already in place, until their fairly new car is a fairly old car.
      Furthermore that fairly old car will not get dropped off at a recycling center. It will be resold to someone who can only afford to pay 1,000 Euros for a car. A car that will perhaps be a second car for the family. That means that a gasoline powered car produced in 2016 will likely still be on the road in 2030. Heck coal powered trains built more than 100 years ago are still used in some areas of the world. I heard that a coal powered train uses 150 pounds of coal to travel one mile.
      Then there is the airline industry that big expansion plans.
      Ditto for the cruise line industry and shipping companies.
      If electric cars make a dent in automotive fuel consumption and the price of fuel drops airline ticket prices will drop causing more people to take a long distance vacation. That will send a message to the travel industry to build even more hotels than the industry had previously planned.
      The way that I see it there was no way that the global warming problem was going to be fixed with out massive government intervention in the world's economy. Do I need to point out that intervention is a euphamism for oppression.
      The world that we live in today was one created largely through the free choices of large numbers of people, who had and have disposable income. Yet the system that evolved was and continues to be totally unsustainable and huge numbers of people have not even figured that out yet.
      My guess is that the people who could have taken a baseball bat to the whole mess did not want to because they would have ended up looking like Joseph Stalin to the hundreds of millions of people with disposable income.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism (30)
    • Thank you for this shrewd assessment of Trump's braindump. Veteran Middle East reporter Robert Fisk has a fairly similar reading today: link to independent.co.uk

      I liked this bit: 'By the time Trump reached the bit in which he threatened the bad guys – “if you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned” – he sounded like a speech-writer for Isis.'

  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election (42)
    • Keep in mind most of the stuff going to KSA is extremely over-priced USA junk which is overly complex and very prone to failure in usually spectacular ways.

      KSA is getting far less than it thinks.

      On the other hand, Iran has developed a very good arms industry that makes excellent, efficient and accurate weapons that cost very little. Iran is more than a match to the bloated KSA military.

      Basically the KSA military has more money than sense.

    • American egos got bruised when the Iranians threw out the USA puppet and that has colored the USA actions for 35 years.

      You are correct that the Iranian actions are a DIRECT response to the deadly threats the USA spews against Iran on an almost daily basis.

      Iran has very valid reasons for being extremely paranoid about the USA.

    • Juan is correct.

      Over the last 35 years I have helped introduce several different technologies to the world and the adoption process has been remarkably similar.

      Just this evening I explained to an environmental engineer how China is ramping up a army of robots to make:

      - Reasonably efficient, very low cost solar panels. China is doing this primarily for internal usage but India and USA are secondary markets. Note that China wants to stop paying higher and higher prices to other nations for carbon energy. They want to "harvest" all the energy they need using inexpensive technology they have perfected.

      - Reasonably efficient low cost house/small business wind turbines.

      - Low cost clones of the Tesla Powerwall, based on standard 18650 Li-ion cells (used in laptops, etc). The competition between Tesla (which is ramping up to flood the west with powerwalls) and the Chinese clones will be fierce and result in high quality powerwalls for very low costs.

      Typically technology introductions have a fairly nice 15% to 20% up slope until one day the slope shoots through the roof exponentially ( the "hockey stick" adoption curve) . The global adoption curves for non-carbon energy are very nicely following the "traditional" technology curves.

      Remember that not only does technology increase in capability over time, but the costs DECREASE over time which is the exact opposite of carbon energy economics. All the low cost carbon energy has already been turned into carbon dioxide. All the remaining carbon energy will get increasingly complex to extract and will get increasingly more expensive. The globe will probably never "run out" of carbon energy, BUT it will soon become far to expensive to use for much of anything .

  • Are Iran and Saudi Arabia Heading Toward War? (12)
    • As I noted above, while some Israeli politicians think that war with Iran would be "great fun," the very professional Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Mossad (Israel's CIA/MI6) are very much against any attempt because they are well aware just how dangerous Iran's CONVENTIONAL weapons are.

      Yes, Iran does NOT need nuclear weapons (or "dirty bombs") to make Israel and /or Saudi Arabia a huge pile of rubble since they have a huge number of very accurate conventional weapons - the number is several orders of magnitude more than Israel's mythical anti-missile systems (that have the usual high failure rate of all anti-missile systems). That is, long after Israel has fired off all its anti-missile systems, Iran will still be able to rain destruction on Israel.

      Iran is NOT a pushover and in the last 35 years has educated a large cadre of brilliant engineers who KNOW how to make very effective, deadly weapons that cost very little to produce. Iran gets a lot more "bang for its buck" than the USA or Israel or Saudi Arabia.

  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election (42)
  • Are Iran and Saudi Arabia Heading Toward War? (12)
  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election (42)
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  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election (42)