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Total number of comments: 785 (since 2009-08-09 15:40:46)

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  • Video: If you voted for Hamas, Israel has a right to kill you, says president of NY Board of Rabbis
    • Belgium is asking politely to label the goods but it doesn't insist. At the same time it says don't blame us blame the EU . It's cowardly and weak, but it does make boycotting more userfriendly.

      Mind you, as I have posted on here previously, I found that the Sodastream device sold in belgian supermarkets currently doesn't even have the country of origin on it .

  • Statement: Legal experts and human rights defenders demand international community end Israel's collective punishment of Gaza
    • 86.5% means 100% Jewish support plus a minority of Palestinians

      It usually means 'we only asked Jews but it slipped our mind that we could count Palestinians as Israeli as well'.

  • Claim that Hamas killed 3 teens is turning out to be the WMD of Gaza onslaught
    • You want me to get a Twitter and Facebook account in order to entertain someone who gets her information about IP from Netanyahu's cartoons?
      Hm. I'll think about it..

      As for the hive mind.. I have my thoughts. Larry Derfner wrote about the warm cosy feelings Israelis have towards each other during wartime. ( link to 972mag.com )
      I think that's to be taken seriously. The attraction of the warm ultranationalistic womb of Israel. I Think of the bonding between soldiers at war time.

    • J.J.Goldberg said that during the Westbank crackdown Hamas anticipated that the IDF was going to attack and went underground. This ment that the other armed groups were no longer being policed. To what extent it's proven or deduction I can't say but I think it is very credible. That is why I also think it likely that Hamas didn't place the rockets in UNRWA facilities(there are two reported cases of rockets in UNRWA facilities).
      What it does not mean is that Hamas would have directives like "when firing missiles always make sure you're more than 100m away from any UN facility ". There is a spectrum in how far you go.

    • Quite. There were earlier rocket strikes but not by Hamas.

    • (isn’t it interesting that Lerner and Rosenfeld are the spokespeople for the IOF and IP with their perfectly proper British accents? Coincidence? Nah. It’s part of the illusion that Israel is civilized.)

      Moviemakers know that you need to deliver a ridiculous line without sounding silly you need british shakespeare actors. That is why Star Trek had captain Picard.

  • As in Vietnam and South Africa, Gazan masses are willing to pay high price for freedom -- Kasrils
    • Another failure has been Israel’s much vaunted Iron Dome defence system which palpably cannot prevent the Qassam rockets penetrating and which has succeeded in affecting international flights into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.

      As a PR event for Iron Dome the current operation is a success. I've seen two articles about it already in my newspaper and it's already treated as a solid fact that Iron Dome is responsible all by itself for the asymetry of the number of dead people on both sides. Which is nonsense. As Phan Nguyen documented on here the number of dead on Israeli side due to rockets and mortars from Gaza is 30 over 10 years. Rockets from Gaza are very ineffective. On the one hand this is because the rockets are crude and weak. On the other hand this is because the Israeli early warning system does work well.

  • Oren's charge that networks showcase Palestinian dead at behest of Hamas is 'obscene' -- Penhaul
    • re: Jon Snow's latest blog. Yes, moving but still quite safe. It's not to get him into a lot of trouble.

  • Palestinians build tunnel to attack Israeli kindergarten, Netanyahu says
    • [just says] thanks Annie.

      He just flinging the old “ziopoop” to see if anything will stick.

      Jon66 makes clear from the start that he's from a zionist background, which is an honest start. He'll have his reflexes but until further notice I see no reason to assume he's just here to come to the rescue of poor little Israel with whatever dirty means necessary.

    • I have trouble matching the '3:40' in the playlist. they're short pieces.

      I'd like to hear the thoughts from the human rights council who have stated they suspect Israel of committing war crimes, about their chief Ban Ki Moon being trotted out for a press conference with Netanyahu, followed by Ban Ki Moon bein outraged about the rockets in the UNRWA school.

  • The deafening silence around the Hamas proposal for a 10-year truce
    • Just ONE proven use of civilian infrastructure, and that was disused! But it leads to Ban parroting hasbara, and it’s that bit that gets quoted on radio and world service bulletins, as if it is a fact.

      And while it's possible that Hamas owned those missiles, I think it's more likely that the missiles were placed there by others because Hamas is no longer supervising/suppressing the other armed parties in Gaza.

  • Burning children
  • Finally, Israel is alienating the US mainstream media
    • Jeff Halper thinks the decisionmakers went for the more radical 'plowing the grass' (rather than 'mowing') and are willing to bear the PR cost. Larry Derfner hints at similar attitudes.

    • Many writers are citing J.J. Goldberg’s piece at the Forward, “How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza,” which says that Israel manipulated the teen killings in the West Bank to have a war with Hamas, and now Israel is going off a “cliff.”

      The J.JGoldberg quote made me sit up. Upon closer reading of Goldberg's article article I think it is a bit misrepresented. There are some remarkable assertions in the article, and it avoids several cliches. It actually explains in detail how Hamas bears no blame at all for any of the events in the whole runup to the current assault. But Goldberg also claims that the army didn't want war either and even Netanyahu didn't really want it.His argument is not convincing but it has its merits. So I disagree with hm, the summary of the citation.

  • Look at Netanyahu's 'evidence' that civilians are harboring rockets in Gaza
    • Yes, the UNRWA statement is here : link to unrwa.org .

      Now if you have a one time statement from UNRWA that this is the first time they find rockets in one of their vacant schools, what does this say about the general practices of Hamas - assuming the rockets were placed there by Hamas people?

      It says that this instance was an exception. Now the human shields issue covers a whole spectrum from 'doing everything to put civilians at risk' to 'going out of your way to avoid putting civilians at risk'. From the Goldstone report about operation Cast Lead it was clear that Hamas does not try to increase the risk for civilians of Gaza.

      [edit] and look here, Ali Abunimah has done a thorough job link to electronicintifada.net
      During Cast Lead there was huge damage to schools, and no cases of Hamas using them as weapons caches.

    • The majority in the world will not buy it.

      I disagree. I think a common reaction is that whatever Israel claims about Hamas is believed, but the main reaction currently is that Israel's reaction is disproportionate.

      Still, emotionally the shift away from Israel could be much more thorough than the last time.

    • There's a whole series of them, Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini have an article about it at link to antiwar.com.
      I think it could be effective , not just by itself but because it works on a familiar theme. I imagine that the human shields theme can be successful in turning black into white. You bomb a school and the public's reaction is to 'ooh those nasty Hamasians who use a school as human shield.' Nuanced commentators will offer a balanced view with on the one hand Hamas using human shields with Israel grossly overreacting, a kind of thinking that I think manages to be wrong on too many counts.

  • The most interesting journalist in the world
  • 'Politico' leaves Israel off list of 25 'awkward allies' of U.S.
    • They also made a 'list of awkard allies that are too awkward for the awkward allies list' but it was empty so they didn't publish it.

  • Student who exposed 'leftist' teacher is honored at Knesset, while teacher gets violent threats
  • 'Economist' pulls cartoon showing Obama shackled to Congress bearing Star of David
  • Elephant waddles through room. 'NYT' doesn't see it
  • Jon Stewart plays 'Let's break a deal' with AIPAC
    • It was once a way-up for people from minorities, as was sports. Lot of Jewish comedians in the day.

      Lot of Jewish sportsmen in the day.

    • I appreciate Jon Stewart's opinions, they're worthwile. But I don't expect much from him on I/P, both because his ideas on this aren't that good, and because he's got responsibility. He can cover for others who stick their necks out but won't take too many risks himself. It's easier when you only have to think about consequences for yourself.

      The way he handled the joke about the Iran provocation that really was an Israeli provocation was diplomacy, or rather, CYA. He could have stopped after realizing that the source of the quote was Israeli, but he had to follow up by throwing in an iranian quote to balance things out, just to end up with a bland conclusion.

      Very conscious of adverse repercussions that.

  • Former US citizen, former Israeli ambassador, Oren gets job at CNN
    • I always considered Oren a clown but to be fair he's been miseducated. Just imagine the moment it sinks in "Hey I can say whatever I want and they'll buy it! Absolutely anything! This is so cool!"

  • Russell Simmons tweets condolences for Ariel Sharon but then takes it back after remembering who he was
    • Maybe there will be another tweet saying he confused Peres with Barak. And then another and another one, each time more desperate.

  • Ariel Sharon, whose political career was unhindered by civilian massacres, dies at 85
    • About the mention of his 'responsibility' for Sabra/Shatila: responsibility can mean different things from being fully complicit to minimal political responsibility, meaning having the bad luck of being in function while something happened which you had nothing to do with.
      My interpretation tends towards the dark side. The way it's reported suggests it should be interpreted on the light side, because that is the most straightforward interpretation of such a word in that context.

  • Marvin Hier is making his list, checking it twice
    • Peculiar kind of activity, this listmaking. Which brings us to the perfect morning routine: just before you start the day, just think about antisemitism for five minutes. No distractions , just very focused concentration. You'll feel morally liberated all day and whatever you do will feel perfectly justified.

  • Avigdor's triumph: Israel reportedly wants to transfer northern villages into Palestinian state
    • The transfer plan is more a concept of Livni than of Lieberman.

      Attributing the ideas to Lieberman certainly makes them sound less mainstream than they are. Apparently the israeli side began to seriously consider the option in 2000. From disturbing-israeli-ideas-from-herzliya

      Following the 2000 conference, the organizers issued a report in which they made several recommendations to defuse the “demographic time bomb.” Many more Jewish immigrants had to be brought to Israel; the citizenship rights of some Israeli-Arabs should be revoked; and the Palestinian Authority had to be encouraged to accept “land swaps,” handing over areas adjacent to the West Bank heavily populated with Israeli-Arabs in return for much of the territory on which Jewish settlements have been built.

      It's always the little triangle they're thinking of.

  • Cyndi Lauper, the country you are planning to entertain imposes violent segregation, not equality
  • Guilty on Christmas
    • Mideast Christians can keep up their “more authentic” local traditions and have Christmas trees as well.

      That's because christian zionists infiltrated the JNF and managed to plant huge loads of christmas trees all over the promised land.

  • In 'intractable conflict,' Israel must periodically and forcefully 'mow the grass'
    • Only after showing much restraint in its military responses does Israel act forcefully to destroy the capabilities of its foes, hoping that occasional large-scale operations have a temporary deterrent effect in order to create periods of quiet along its borders.

      It's called preventive war. It's about regular preventive wars. I think the obligatory insertion of an apology has become part of the grammar or something because the concept of 'preventive wars as a last resort' is rather peculiar.

  • Yet another Dershowitz fabrication
    • I don't know about Dershowitz picketing but it's part of the same affair.
      Dershowitz visited El-Asmar in prison in 1970 and presented himself as 'an American New Leftist' investigating the problem of administrative detention. The interview itself went well. The article that Dershowitz published about it in Commentary was full of lies and elaborate fabrications. In the article all administrative detentions were justified and El-Asmar was the head of a gang of murderers.
      Later the article by Dershowitz was used to discredit El-Asmar when he spoke in the US somewhere in 1972. Summaries of the article were distributed at the locations where El-Asmar spoke.

      Dershowitz has been around longer than that but that's the oldest story I know about him. His wikipedia page can't find anything really wrong about the guy though.

    • The late Fouzi El-Asmar described an unpleasant encounter with Dershowitz in 1970 in his book 'To Be an Arab in Israel' . That's 43 years ago. A long career of scumbaggery.

  • Israeli government kills plan to uproot Bedouin
    • So they weren't going to grow pine forests on them this time. Which is a surprise. Not many people know this but in modern hebrew the words 'pine tree' and 'eraser' are homonyms and they are used interchangeably. Which is why most hebrew keyboards still have a pinetree icon for the delete button and MSPaint has a pinetree button for the eraser function. Or why the erase button draws pinetrees.

  • Protesters ask Target to drop Israeli settlement product SodaStream
    • I checked one of the boxes and saw the device was “made in Israel”.

      I did the same in a belgian supermarket. On the box I found lots of mentions of licensed production in many countries and in many languages, but I couldn't find anything about 'made in israel'.

  • Why is a 'Nation' writer labeling Jerry Haber and Abdeen Jabara Palestinian 'cheerleaders'?
    • It's a perfectly normal reaction to feel that Blumenthal’s book is unfair since he's hanging out the dirty laundry. That is a selective view. Selective views can distort reality. So the controversy moves to a higher level, one side claiming the book is not balanced, the other side claiming it brings balance to the larger picture.

    • He did ask Russell that. The question didn't do justice to the philosophical masterpiece 'Le Petit Prince'. Now, bashing Wittgenstein is not too bright either. I was clever enough to limit myself to 'young Ludwig'.

    • Ludwig Wittgenstein is famous for writing (I think at the end of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) “Wovon Mann nicht sprechen kann, daruber muss mann schweigen” // Whereof one cannot speak, thereof he must be silent.

      Young Ludwig was good at saying things that looked impressive at first sight.

  • Preaching to the choir: reflections on Max Blumenthal's 'Goliath'
    • I didn't know Chomksy had said this, but it's significant. Note how he's describing the situation as worse than Jim Crow inside Israel proper. As far as I recall (not much of an argument that) Phil Weiss uses Jim Crow comparisons for the occupied territories.

  • The story behind the deal: Israel kept out of the loop as secret US/Iran meetings took place in Oman
    • The US were never in a position to bestow or revoke that right.

      Do you mean that as a legal statement or as an assessment of the effective power of the US? I think if the US objects they can make things pretty hard.

    • My feeling is that since the US is allowing Iranian enrichment as part of the agreement, that they know they can't revoke that right anymore with their interpretation of the NPT. But they still want to stick to that public posture.

    • Here is the document called 'Joint Plan of Action'
      link to theguardian.com

      And all the way at the end is the money quote:

      Following successful implementation of the final step of the comprehensive solution for its full
      duration, the Iranian nuclear programme will be treated in the same manner as that of any non-nuclear
      weapon state party to the NPT.

      I think this is why the Iranians signed off on this. In the common interpretation of the NPT this acknowledges their right to
      have nuclear energy and to be in control of fuel production for it.
      Now the US has not conceded that right yet. They're saying 'if the NPT allows control over the fuel cycle then you're allowed the same'.
      At the same time they're saying the NPT does not allow control over the fuel cycle, which is a tenuous point of view. The thing is, it now has become much harder to enforce that view upon Iran , especially now that they've treated Iran as a legitimate state in these negotiations.

  • Netanyahu's man in Geneva, Laurent Fabius of France
    • You can’t build an underground enrichment facility that goes unreported by accident. It is just B.S. to suggest otherwise.

      As I understood it the Iranians were required to declare new facilities 6 months before fissile material was to be moved in, and the existence of facility was disclosed before that. Their mistake was that they should have been more forthcoming at that stage. Under Ahmedinejad they often stuck to a less than forthcoming approach and I tend to agree with them. The idea that there's some kind of symmetry of deceit is misplaced. (Edit: i see I'm only repeating things here that have been said, and I havent' got the time to delve into this. So it can be disregarded..)

    • Hostage, Parchin is a military site that has no enrichment related activities. The IAEA insists on revisiting places where previously they've concluded there were no enrichment related activities. So I think that's yet another case, namely whether to apply the extended NPT protocol.

    • Another warmonger, liar and tool of Zionism.

      Or maybe France is just looking after its own perceived interests and the saudis and israelis are doing what they can to make it in the interest of France to align itself with them. That does not convert France into a tool - in my stubbornly bland view.

  • Natalie Portman and Woody Allen see anti-Semitism as pervasive
  • Why does Uri Avnery know so little about Palestinian citizens of Israel?
    • I have a general feeling the matter of Palestinians inside Israel is treated as a side issue, partly for strategic reasons: the case for Gaza or the Westbank is easier to make and there are more people on your side. And they're suffering most.

      But I'd like there to be a strong focus on those Palestinians who are better off because they're inside Israel and they're not Bedouin. "Look, this is what it means even in the best cases."
      Jonathan Cook's 'Blood and Religion' did a good job there. Hatim Kanaaneh may be available for elaborating on the matter. His book is mostly about the eighties. I'm eager to read Kanaaneh's pieces. Also a bit apprehensive because he has a way of evading my defenses and sneaking up on me :)

    • Hasbara Buster says: Avnery’s analogy is the height of bad faith.

      I think there is no convincing base for such an unfriendly conclusion , and because proof is merely lack of imagination I have much more imagination than you. Cook puts it very well, not going too much into the motivations, just saying that Avnery should be treated as an unreliable mentor and guide on matters relating to Palestinians inside Israel .

      Gideon Levy gives a completely different assessment about the motivations of Oz and Grossmann that they mean well but they lack courage . link to newleftproject.org . I wonder if the pun on Oz' name was intended.
      I could use a different angle: Avnery's too nice. He's not intellectually ruthless enough. But of course holding that opinion might make it harder to advocate things that go against the interests or convictions of nice people. Maybe you're just not ruthless enough for that so you prefer to look at it as bad faith.

  • Yeshiva U panel concludes Israel and Jews face destruction from: Iran, assimilation and occupation critics
    • To turn things upside down Iran is a serious threat to Israel because the US would find Iran to be a very good ally and just much better to work with than Israel.

  • Einstein letter, on sale at Ebay, blamed Jewish terrorists for risking 'catastrophe' in Palestine
    • The clever israeli reaction would be to buy this letter, and depending on how much attention it gets, hide it, or display it prominently as proof of how much they defend democracy and freedom of expression - and that they want to make Israel even better.

  • NY panel featuring Adelson asks whether Jews can exist without Israel
    • I wonder why made the font grey rather than a dark red. Red would definitely have made the point more clearly. The font must at least reach 6.4 on the Klotz-Markov scale of font threateningness, though a bit of barbed wire around it would have been an improvement.

  • Backlash against Netanyahu: He gets 2-1/2 hours with Obama during shutdown, trying to thwart Iran opening
    • Where is this “extreme” criticism of Israel out of Pincus before this piece?

      I would never associate Pincus with extreme criticism of Israel but he has written pieces they really didn't like. This one was easy to find:

      link to washingtonpost.com

  • Netanyahu's tale of Iranian deception debunked by British diplomat
    • Peter Jenkins is a former british diplomat actually. Or is that something you get for life. Anyway he's
      not wearing his ambassador hat.
      He also talks sense generally. Or maybe always..

  • Netanyahu returns to the U.N. -- now guess the drawing!
  • Updated: Iran's president urges Obama to ignore 'warmongering pressure groups'
    • @Dickerson: Iranians are sticking their neck out. The description 'costly signal' applies. Obama on the other hand has given a speech. The actual detente may be with Europe. Rouhani has met Hollande.

    • Quite awhile back the Leverett’s wrote a fair amount about I think it was Brazil and I forget what other country offered to supply Iran with enriched uranium for their medical programs and the U.S. and Israel stood in the way of this deal. What do people remember about this?

      It was Turkey, in 2010. And it was a bit similar to the current CW situation with Syria in the sense that the US makes an empty offer that they are certain will not be acceptable to the other side, and then the other side accepts it. In the case of Turkey and Brazil the US just cancelled their offer.

  • Video: Israeli soldiers maul European diplomats, block aid delivery to Palestinian village
    • The newspaper I'm subscribed to also has put this Gaza item online:
      "Israel is allowing building materials into Gaza for the first time in 6 years. They had blocked import of building materials because they feared Hamas would use them to build tunnels and other things they could use against Israel. "
      For clarity, they're not being sarcastic, it's just a fact for them.

      There is something odd about the timing though of these looser restrictions. Israel has a finely tuned 'water and bread' regime of import restrictions, and the crackdown on the egyptian side may upset the balance, so they have to loosen up some things in compensation. It's a matter of adjusting the tuning. But I'm just guessing.

  • Opening shots fired in federal lawsuit against NYPD spying on Muslims
    • The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), formerly known as the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

      B'nai Brith? That must be Brezhoneq.
      Breiz Atao!

  • Twenty years since Oslo, US leadership has yielded endless 'process' with no 'peace' in sight
    • The Guardian has an article by Avi Shlaim link to theguardian.com titled
      "It's now clear: the Oslo peace accords were wrecked by Netanyahu's bad faith".

      That bothered me. Netanyahu has been an easy scapegoat for a while: we're fine, it's just Netanyahu (and his 'crowd' or whatever) that's the problem.

      But then I read the article and I think it's decent. It doesn't really match the title.

  • 'AIPAC must be kept for consensus issues only': Israeli diplomat slams Israel lobby for engaging on Syria
    • Interesting article. How about this as a future business model: AIPAC as lobby for hire, with the main client the US government , itself becoming a gun for hire.
      The bills would be huge.

  • Was Obama bluffing on Syria all along?
    • Nice one , Dickerson. But I probably disagree about causes. The propaganda model suggests there's a big gap between the media and intellectuals in general. All too often I notice that is not the case. And I was much surprised that Chomsky himself also thought the propaganda model is a smaller factor than general conformism among intellectuals. The kind of conformism that Orwells article "The Freedom of the Press" was about.
      As such events often do, this renewed my appreciation of Chomksy.

  • The Russia-Syria deal: What it means and what now?
    • Giving up the chemicals does give the US a graceful way out of the bombing campaign, but it does not suit their goals, which is to neutralize or take over Iran's ally, and to maintain the ties with the Saudis and other oil monarchies. The Saudis are wondering what use the US is to them.

      Assad's chemical weapons are of no advantage to him in this war, and losing them does not weaken him. So he gets the US off his back(at least openly) and keeps the military advantage on the ground. So the US lose but get a nice trophy to hide it.

  • Chomsky: Israel and US enjoying the spectacle as Syria descends into suicide
    • and everyone knows it

      I don't know it. Which confirms that I'm not everyone. I'm sure the Saudis and Qatar were ready to pounce though, and that the regime anticipated that and reacted violently because of the external interference that they thought was already there or would be there soon enough.
      But I don't like to dismiss the sincerity of people inside Syria wanting serious reform. I remember this video at JSF a year and a half ago and thought Simon Assaf was pretty sharp link to jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.be

    • @Kalithea : the picture is actually already much clearer than that. The intel people are leaking information through different channels. The CIA is fairly certain Assad did nothing because they monitor the CW and nothing had been moved to their knowledge. It's always possible, but there is lack of motive and there are no indications. Therefore there's no real reason for suspicion.
      The thing that is very doubtful however is whether sarin was used. If it was used, it was only a small part of the gas attack. 10% of the people with symptoms died. With sarin either you don't have symptoms or you're dead.
      Gareth Porter has a good report at antiwar. link to scotthorton.org and link to original.antiwar.com

    • Congress is reading The Hill now, re Syrian offer to give up its chemical weapons: link to thehill.com

      The Russians proposed it, and it might actually be a russian idea.

      The attractive thing about that offer is, the US needs a way out, and this offer would give them that. The alternative way out would be a very brief attack.

  • 'There's no stupider reason to go to war than fear that people will think you are weak' -- Chris Hayes
    • Thanks Hostage, thoroughly documented as usual :) I thought maybe the report was confidential. Interesting to see that the Assad regime was the first to file a request march 20.

      In any case the impression I got was that the russians did a good job but nothing came of it, so they now push the report publicly. They're also claiming their input is not taken seriously. Well , ironically all this was reported concisely in my newspaper as "the russians insinuate that rebels used chemical weapons and they also say that their input is being ignored".

    • Does anyone know where to find the actual report the Russians gave the UN about the Khan al-Assal attack in march? Russia now released details about it (link to rt.com) but the report was delivered in july.

  • AIPAC comes out for strike on Syria-- and mentions Iran more often than Syria
    • I want to add something about the Saudis. There's an important interview with Chas Freeman at lobelog about the tensions between Us and saudis: link to lobelog.com

      Now it's interesting that the US is more or less in support of democratic movements, especially in Egypt. I think that is because they think the major polarisation is Sunni/Shia while a more important polarisation is autocratic/democratic. Iran is in the democratic camp, the oil monarchies are in the autocratic camp. Let's say the US is a bit confused.

    • It's worse. I think the chemical weapons incident was very likely a black flag operation by Al Nusra. But as with the Iraq case, even if the chemical weapons story was false, it turns out that for many pro-war groups that wasn't a major factor after all.

      (my hobby: ruining people's metaphors :)

    • Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) have prepared a joint resolution that is supposed to be a lot easier to swallow than Obama's proposal.
      link to foreign.senate.gov
      A limit of 60 days of assaults with maximum 30 days extension. There's an awful lot that can be bombed in 60 days. Numbers like that are not about a punitive action, they're about seriously degrading the regime's power so that the balance tips in favor of rebel ground forces . It's a resolution stops just short of regime change - for now. Libya was 6 months in all. So maybe AIPAC doesn't want regime change, just that the fight goes on? The Saudi's are clear about regime change.

      This stuff is really worrying. It's Crocodile Dundee saying "You call this a mess? THIS is a mess!"
      And it bothers me that everyone is pointing at AIPAC. People don't pay enough attention to Saudi Arabia. The Taliban were a Saudi project too. They're propping up Salafis everywhere.

      What are the Saudi plans with the 'trusted' ground forces that are being prepared in Jordania. link to online.wsj.com . Taking over the chemical weapons sites?

  • Kerry's rationale to attack Syria could have also justified attack on Israel over Gaza
    • [Dickerson:]TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! ! TAKE ACTION! ! !

      Reminds me of Chas Freeman put it : "Don't just sit there, bomb something! link to lobelog.com.
      But then this is "don't just bomb something!"

    • I saw Obama earlier use the approach of 'holding Assad responsible' (I don't have a link) which was surprising. It reminded me of how Israel holds Hamas responsible for anything that happens in Sinai. It doesn't mean they accuse Hamas of being behind attacks from Sinai or Gaza , although they can be vague about that.

      Since then Obama has become much more explicit. The highest estimate for the death toll is used. The highest responsibility for Assad is assumed. I don't think it means that's what Obama's team wanted to do all along, just that they now think they're better off by doing something. I call that damage control.

      Meanwhile there's a lot of people pushing for doing more. Either they're hoping for bringing more balance to the conflict so that it can drag on much longer.
      Or they're hoping to overthrow Assad. But even if things don't escalate, the idea that the US' standing will improve if they bomb Assad is doubtful. Assad may well decide to retaliate asymmetrically: by doing nothing and by just asserting his valiant resistance against the foreign attackers, including Obama who claimed Assad had to go.

  • No one knows what Obama stands for
    • I could give a more positive slant to that. He can also regard himself as a consensus figure. A facilitator rather than a leader. So that you get more a type of collective decisionmaking. He'll put his stamp on the decision process but it's more a group thing. Speculative.

  • Jeffrey Goldberg assails NYT's David Kirkpatrick for describing Israeli attitude as 'ugly'
    • Yeah, philosophers. Eeuuuww! Playing solemn word games and writing academical texts that discuss other texts that discuss other texts... Oh wait, that's not what you mean :)

  • Critics of Obama's narrow action cite Martin Dempsey's caution -- 'act of war'
    • I could divide the chemical weapons incident in two parts: who did it and how to react.

      Who did it:
      The argument for the rebels could be that after Assad got the upper hand in the conflict it became much more attractive to try and pull the US into the conflict. The US has put itself into a weak position by drawing red lines. Which leads to the obvious 'Al Nusra got their chemical weapons from Libya and/or from Saudi backers'.
      The point of view of Assad would then be that he's got the advantage anyway and doesn't want to upset outside players, neither the US nor Russia. He needs Russia.

      The case for Assad could be that while he has the advantage it's not as if he's going to win any time soon. Now if he can use chemical weapons and get away with it it would assert his dominance in the conflict, making clear to the rebels that they can't count on outside help so they'd better give up. The actual military advantage is doubtful, but there's the terror effect on the population. The next ultimatum on a city under rebel control would start sounding a lot more convincing.

      What to do about it. Is the aim to stop Assad from winning, is it to make him lose, or is it to stop him from using chemical weapons? It's been proven that Assad's side used chemical weapons , can you live with the idea that he'll be using them to conquer Aleppo ? I don't mean to convince people about intervening, just trying to avoid embellishing things.

  • Egyptians rally in DC for General Sisi, rattling off conspiracy theories recycled from Islamophobes
    • with Christians blaming Islamist mobs for the violence.

      Well that is pretty well plausible. No need to set up black flag operations there.
      I haven't read about any of the remaining MB leadership trying to stop or of the army protecting the Copts. But it might happen.

    • It's clear that these people are actually undercover Muslim Brotherhood people who infiltrated Pro-military demonstrators in DC in order to say stupid things and make them look silly ( link to xkcd.com ) .

      Now that I think about it, this site is also full of undercover antisemitic antizionists who masquerade as sociopathic zionists in order to make Israel look bad.

      To be a bit more fair... I'm sure there's plenty of stupid convictions to go around on all sides , and I'm not really tempted to judge people on it. But one can observe.

  • Chas Freeman: Kerry's talks leave out 4 of 5 Palestinians
    • Morocco did NOT expel its Jews.

      In fact Moroccan economy was doing badly at the time and everyone left, including the Jews. Many Moroccans came to Belgium and France.

      I don't think 'The Jews left Iraq against the will of the Iraqis' would describe the situation very well. It was more muddled and corrupt.

      One description that I never see mentioned in this context is that 1948 was a postwar situation. That means much better than during the war but generally still not safe and stable and suitable for migrating.

  • Egyptian massacre exposes US hypocrisy in Israel and Palestine
    • Jim Lobe has an interesting piece on the deterioration of US-Saudi ties link to lobelog.com

      There's an awareness now of an alarming deterioration of US influence.

      Now in Egypt the events are not only homegrown. The economy is in deep trouble and who controls the money is important. Who gets the foreign money gets to run the country - to some extent. The Saudis and other oil monarchies are putting up that money.

      There's another component and I mention it to contrast it to the models of religion-based tensions (in Belgium that's all there is). Compare Egypt to Venezuela: a large part of the community is very poor. As soon as they get one man-one vote the poor get to run the country, but without the money to match. You instantly get opposition from the rich, who tend to control the main media, and a lot of tension with the middle class. Also, the voices of the poor are invisible but the middle class is visible so you get an instant impression of a dictatorship: an impopular minority running the place.

      So in Egypt the islamist parties roughly represent the poor, and for the middleclass that is not a nice position to be in. If then the economy tanks, and with some good campaigning and sabotage(electricity and gasoline have been deliberately withheld), they can be tempted to choose for a dictatorship that gets good money from the outside.

  • British government forced Guardian to smash hard drives with Snowden files
  • Manning's attorney calls on Obama to pardon him
    • The biggest mistake the msm made was not them condemning Manning. It was shifting the attention from the leaks to the leaker. It's about managing focus.

      [edit] there's a recent post about NPR and trivia subjects. It's a similar message: what shall we be looking at.

    • I have to keep putting quotes around that word

      I wouldn't do that. It's like those other words with a positive bias that cause people to claim "he's not really intelligent," "it's not really art", "it's not really democratic" when they start finding faults. Better to accept these people as liberal without them having to conform to your standard of perfection, or without them having to be liberal in everything or in things that concern you most.

      Highly intelligent people can do very stupid things. Better to resist adapting the definition of intelligence in an attempt to keep its aura.

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