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Category: Middle East

Overwrought about ISIS

Overwrought about ISIS

You could be forgiven for feeling a strong sense of déjà vu these past months at the barrage of dire pronouncements on the urgent threat posed by the terrorist group known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, sometimes substituting “Levant” for “Syria” for ISIL). Flashback to 2003 and the overwrought nonsense we heard in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. Only then we had an administration that was leading the charge for war and mounting a…

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Obama Deserves Credit for Libya Success

Obama Deserves Credit for Libya Success

The apparent defeat of Muammah Gaddafi‘s loyalist forces by a Libyan rebel alliance supported by NATO is a stunning success for the United States, NATO and most of all President Obama. Unfortunately he’s getting little of the credit he deserves. Obama took the politically risky decision to involve a war-weary America in actively supporting a populist Libyan rebellion that otherwise would have been crushed by the better trained and equipped loyalist forces of Gaddafi. In this he received tepid support…

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Malcom Nance to Marc Thiessen: Put up or Shut Up

Malcom Nance to Marc Thiessen: Put up or Shut Up

Malcom Nance recently published the book, An End to al-Qaeda: Destroying Bin Laden’s Jihad and Restoring America’s Honor.  He is a combat veteran and counter terrorism expert with twenty-eight years of experience.  Scott Horton of Harper’s asked him six questions, and I recommend you read the whole article, but I especially liked the fifth Q&A: 5.  …He insists that it absolutely is not torture, and he insists that it’s different from the technique used by the Khmer Rouge.  Does Thiessen…

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U.S. Actions Speak Louder than Words

U.S. Actions Speak Louder than Words

Today’s New York Times includes an article about an essay written by Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that is centered around how the U.S. communicates to the Muslim world. “To put it simply, we need to worry a lot less about how to communicate our actions and much more about what our actions communicate,” Admiral Mullen wrote in the critique, an essay to be published Friday by Joint Force Quarterly, an official military journal. “I…

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Can Israel Risk Apartheid?

Can Israel Risk Apartheid?

The prospects for a peace agreement based on a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians have never seemed bleaker. In the decade following the failure of Bill Clinton’s mediation effort between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak in 2000, the Israelis have been subjected to suicide bombers, random shootings and more recently to unguided rockets from Gaza that targeted innocent civilians.  And an organization that is sworn to destroy the State of Israel now controls half of the Palestinian territories….

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Our Troops in Afghanistan Need Mountain Warfare Training

Our Troops in Afghanistan Need Mountain Warfare Training

President Obama has made our commitment to Afghanistan a central plank of his foreign policy.  Everyone agrees that the reinvigorated Taliban, helped by al-Qaida in  Pakistan, represent a formidable foe in their mountainous home.  And whilst it is widely recognized that building a stable Afghanistan will require much more than the application of military force, it is equally clear that we cannot make substantive progress whilst the Taliban controls large swaths of the countryside.   Yet there is not a single…

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Turns out the US does Torture

Turns out the US does Torture

The Washington Post has confirmed that the United States has used torture at Guantanamo Bay.  From the Reuters article: The Pentagon official overseeing the tribunals for Guantanamo Bay detainees has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. “We tortured [Mohammed al-] Qahtani,” Susan Crawford said in an interview with the newspaper. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why…

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John McCain gets Al Qaeda’s Endorsement

John McCain gets Al Qaeda’s Endorsement

Last week we were hearing all about how Obama would be “tested” by anti-American groups if he were elected president.  Biden even said it, and it was reported as a gaffe, but I think the point Biden was trying to make was that Obama would be tested, but he would stand up to whomever does the testing and pass the test. McCain didn’t see it that way.  He thought the very idea Obama getting tested was a sign of weakness, and that…

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Brief Thoughts on the 2nd Obama – McCain Debate

Brief Thoughts on the 2nd Obama – McCain Debate

Barack Obama and John McCain squared off in a “town hall” style debate at Belmont University last night.  The debate didn’t seem very town-hall like to me, because there was not much audience participation.  I tend to think of town-hall forums to be pretty loosely controlled so that everyone there can participate.  This one was very structured.  All of the questions were screened ahead of time and the audience could not ask follow-up questions, although the moderator, Tom Brokaw, was…

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Last week in politics

Last week in politics

First, honk if you like bumper sticker politics: 1. GWB tells Israel that Obama is going to cause the next holocaust. 2. Hard Ball host Chris Matthews challenges a loud-mouthed, flock-jock, talk(ing points) radio host and republican party line parrot to back up his words with a little substance. I swear to god I haven’t seen this kind of hard-line reporting technique since John Stossel in the `80s. 3. Former White House mouthpiece takes extreme pride in fucking doing his…

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