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Member since: Sat Mar 30, 2013, 02:52 AM
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Hillary is more likely to start a war with Iran than Rand Paul

Ron Paul is right about that. I am a duer and I will vote for the party nominee, but most antiwar people will vote lesser evil. Hillary will definitely lose them, even though they are otherwise liberal, because they may think a war with Iran is worse than losing choice. They will probably vote for Paul or 3rd party. As I have stated in other posts, Hillary and the Liberal Interventionists were major enablers of the neocons and still are. She will probably get Bill Kristol's endorsements and the other neocons will support her as well. Maybe neocons will make up for losing the antiwar majority but I doubt it.

It is going to be a weird election.
Posted by betterdemsonly | Mon Aug 25, 2014, 07:04 AM (237 replies)

Would arming "good" Syrian rebels in 2012 have stopped the Islamic State?

Interesting article in the Washington Post about whether arming anti-islamist rebels in Syria was actually possible and whether it would have stopped ISIS.

There’s no way to know for sure what would have happened had the United States offered more support to Syrian rebels in the summer of 2012, of course. But there are pretty strong reasons for doubting that it would have been decisive. Even Sen. John McCain was pretty clear about this at the time, arguing that arming the rebels “alone will not be decisive” and that providing weapons in the absence of safe areas protected by U.S. airpower “may even just prolong [the conflict].” Clinton, despite the hyperventilating headlines, only suggested that providing such arms might have offered “some better insight into what was going on on the ground” and “helped in standing up a credible political opposition.” Thoughtful supporters of the policy proposed “managing the militarization” of the conflict and using a stronger Free Syrian Army as leverage to bring Assad to the bargaining table.

Would the United States providing more arms to the FSA have accomplished these goals? The academic literature is not encouraging. In general, external support for rebels almost always make wars longer, bloodier and harder to resolve (for more on this, see the proceedings of this Project on Middle East Political Science symposium in the free PDF download). Worse, as the University of Maryland’s David Cunningham has shown, Syria had most of the characteristics of the type of civil war in which external support for rebels is least effective. The University of Colorado’s Aysegul Aydin and Binghamton University’s Patrick Regan have suggested that external support for a rebel group could help when all the external powers backing a rebel group are on the same page and effectively cooperate in directing resources to a common end. Unfortunately, Syria was never that type of civil war.

Syria’s combination of a weak, fragmented collage of rebel organizations with a divided, competitive array of external sponsors was therefore the worst profile possible for effective external support. Clinton understands this. She effectively pinpoints the real problem when she notes that the rebels “were often armed in an indiscriminate way by other forces and we had no skin in the game that really enabled us to prevent this indiscriminate arming.” An effective strategy of arming the Syrian rebels would never have been easy, but to have any chance at all it would have required a unified approach by the rebels’ external backers, and a unified rebel organization to receive the aid. That would have meant staunching financial flows from its Gulf partners, or at least directing them in a coordinated fashion. Otherwise, U.S. aid to the FSA would be just another bucket of water in an ocean of cash and guns pouring into the conflict.

But such coordination was easier said than done. The Qatari-Saudi rivalry was playing out across the region, not only in Syria. Their intense struggles over the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt and the overall course of the Arab uprisings were peaking during the 2012–13 window during which arming the rebels was being discussed. Their competition largely precluded any unified Gulf strategy. Turkey and Qatar channeled money and support to a variety of Islamist groups. Meanwhile, U.S.-Saudi relations were also at their nadir, before fears of jihadist blowback began to concentrate Saudi minds. Riyadh showed no more interest in following the United States’ lead in Syria than it did on Egypt or Iranian nuclear talks. External backers of the rebels didn’t even agree on whether the goal was to protect civilians, overthrow Assad, bring the regime to the table, or to wage a region-wide sectarian war against Iran. It is difficult to see Gulf capitals embroiled in these regional battles becoming more receptive to American guidance just because the United States had some “skin in the game.”


I guess, one good consequence Jeff Bezos's takeover of WP is that they seem much more reflective on foreign policy.
Posted by betterdemsonly | Sat Aug 16, 2014, 12:19 AM (4 replies)

I thought points 5 through 8 were more interesting.

exerpt points 5-8

5. I remain skeptical that Rand Paul can win the Republican nomination for president. But if he does, it will set up a race in which the Republican is significantly more dovish than the Democrat. That will scramble political coalitions in unusual, and possibly significant, ways. For instance, Millennials have swung hard towards Democrats in recent years, but they're also much more dovish than older generations. Seniors, on the other hand, have become more Republicans, and are also more hawkish. "This is insight into the kind of president Clinton would be, not just the kind of candidate she would be"

6. There is a pattern that has emerged in almost every recent interview Clinton has given: liberals walk away unnerved. She bumbled through a discussion of gay marriage with Terry Gross. She's dodged questions about the Keystone XL pipeline. She's had a lot of trouble discussing income inequality. I initially chalked some of this up to political rust. I am quickly revising that opinion.

7. In general, people underestimate the convictions politicians have and overestimate the cynicism of their positions. The interview with Goldberg is being analyzed as a calculated gamble on Clinton's part to distance herself from the Obama administration, and perhaps it is. But it matters because it's also much more than that: this is what Clinton really believes. It's what she believed before the Obama administration, it's what she fought for inside the Obama administration, and it's what she believes after leaving the Obama administration. This is insight into the kind of president Clinton would be, not just the kind of candidate she would be.

8. Political campaigns are decided not just by what candidates say but by which of their statements supporters believe to be true. One advantage Obama had in the Democratic primary was that even when he rhetorically moved towards the middle his liberal base didn't really buy it; his repeated assertions that he opposed gay marriage were never taken very seriously by his supporters, for instance. Clinton will have the opposite problem — and, potentially, the opposite advantage: She has clear and substantive disagreements with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, and so her efforts to move to the left during the primary will often be viewed skeptically. But those disagreements will make it harder for Republicans to paint her as a liberal who's exactly like Barack Obama.
Posted by betterdemsonly | Tue Aug 12, 2014, 08:36 PM (1 replies)

MoveOn Warns Clinton After Knocking Obama On Foreign Policy

I think Hillary's inevitability narrative just died! Moveon looks like they are moving on from the Clintons. Moveon got it's start defending the Clintons from the Lewinsky scandal. If they are rebelling against her, she won't have any support from recognizably progressive people. She does not have enough progressive credibility to survive it, and ought to drop out, and let others carry the water. Either that, or she ought sign onto the Republican ticket.

In a statement on Tuesday Ilya Sheyman, the executive director of MoveOn Political Action, said that Clinton or "any other person thinking about seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016, should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq's troubles."

The statement follows comments Clinton made to The Atlantic where she said that Obama should have taken action in Syria. Specifically, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg asked Clinton what she thought of the Obama Administration's foreign affairs motto, "Don't do stupid shit."

Secretary Clinton, and any other person thinking about seeking the Democratic nomination in 2016, should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq’s troubles today. These hawkish policy stances are also threatening to undermine the peaceful international resolution of Iran’s nuclear program.

Voters elected President Obama in 2008 to bring the war in Iraq to an end. MoveOn members will continue to stand with elected officials who oppose military escalation that could put us back on a path to endless war

Posted by betterdemsonly | Tue Aug 12, 2014, 07:14 PM (7 replies)

Bill Kristol, the ultimate neocon publishes HR Clinton's oped criticizing Obama's foreign policy!

As I predicted in another thread, Hillary Clinton is courting the neocon endorsements and money. I said Bill Kristol may well endorse her candidacy. I think this is pretty damn close. Bill Kristol's publication "The Weekly Standard" just published an op/ed criticizing Obama's foreign policy.

Special Guest Editorial: Obama's Foreign Policy Failures
1:30 PM, Aug 12, 2014 • By HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Editor’s note: I think it was the great Maimonides who taught us, “You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes.” So THE WEEKLY STANDARD is happy to feature this special guest editorial on President Obama's foreign policy failures (excerpted verbatim from the Jeffrey Goldberg’s fine interview). – William Kristol

On Iran:
“I’ve always been in the camp that held that they did not have a right to enrichment. Contrary to their claim, there is no such thing as a right to enrich. This is absolutely unfounded. There is no such right. I am well aware that I am not at the negotiating table anymore, but I think it’s important to send a signal to everybody who is there that there cannot be a deal unless there is a clear set of restrictions on Iran. The preference would be no enrichment. The potential fallback position would be such little enrichment that they could not break out. … I would like it to be more than a year. I think it should be more than a year. No enrichment at all would make everyone breathe easier. If, however, they want a little bit for the Tehran research reactor, or a little bit for this scientific researcher, but they’ll never go above 5 percent enrichment. … If we’re talking a little, we’re talking about a discrete, constantly inspected number of centrifuges. ‘No’ is my preference.”

On Israel:
More by Hillary Rodham Clinton
“Israel was attacked by rockets from Gaza. Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command-and-control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult....I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets. And there is the surprising number and complexity of the tunnels, and Hamas has consistently, not just in this conflict, but in the past, been less than protective of their civilians.

“It is striking, however, that you have more than 170,000 people dead in Syria. You have the vacuum that has been created by the relentless assault by Assad on his own population, an assault that has bred these extremist groups, the most well-known of which, ISIS—or ISIL—is now literally expanding its territory inside Syria and inside Iraq. You have Russia massing battalions—Russia, that actually annexed and is occupying part of a UN member state—and I fear that it will do even more to prevent the incremental success of the Ukrainian government to take back its own territory, other than Crimea. More than 1,000 people have been killed in Ukraine on both sides, not counting the [Malaysia Airlines] plane, and yet we do see this enormous international reaction against Israel, and Israel’s right to defend itself, and the way Israel has to defend itself. This reaction is uncalled for and unfair. You can’t ever discount anti-Semitism, especially with what’s going on in Europe today. There are more demonstrations against Israel by an exponential amount than there are against Russia seizing part of Ukraine and shooting down a civilian airliner. So there’s something else at work here than what you see on TV. ... And what you see on TV is so effectively stage-managed by Hamas, and always has been. What you see is largely what Hamas invites and permits Western journalists to report on from Gaza. It’s the old PR problem that Israel has. Yes, there are substantive, deep levels of antagonism or anti-Semitism towards Israel, because it’s a powerful state, a really effective military. And Hamas paints itself as the defender of the rights of the Palestinians to have their own state. So the PR battle is one that is historically tilted against Israel. ...


Don't complain about this being a republican source either. If it is beyond the pale our anointed one wouldn't have published there.

Posted by betterdemsonly | Tue Aug 12, 2014, 06:58 PM (9 replies)

Is it just impossible to support a sane foreign policy if you are an elected Republican or Democrat?

Is the establishment just hopelessly committed to imperialism, Democratic Party included? I mean Hillary pisses everyone off, but lets just face the fact that Warren and Sanders have let us down too. Frankly, I suspect the only reason Obama supporters are mad at Clinton, is because she publicly criticized Obama, not because Obama is significantly to the left of Hillary on this issue. She is pretending that he offered the Syrian opposition no support or that he hasn't been publicly claiming that he is vetting them for Isis. Obama ultimately did support the Syrian opposition, theoretically vetting them for Isis. Where has it gotten us? Isis continues to grow. Whether, or not this vetting is working, is clearly in doubt. More vetting probably won't help either.

Salon did a really interesting interview with Kshema Sawant, the great Socialist alt candidate in Seattle.

If you run in the Democratic Party, you are beholden to their party line, and that’s why at Socialist Alternative, my organization, we think the first step to create a genuine left-force in the U.S. is for activists and political people to understand that you can’t do it from within the Democratic Party. If you’re going to take principled positions in favor of humanitarian questions, in favor of social justice, in favor of needs of ordinary people, then the first step is to break from the two-party system.

Have you been disappointed to see Sen. Elizabeth Warren avoid this issue so assiduously? She’s been so outspoken and unfiltered on a lot of economic issues, but hasn’t said much about the Gaza campaign beyond the usual clichés.

I think that’s a very good question you’re asking: What should our position be on Elizabeth Warren?

I can say that, just speaking for myself personally as an economist, I really give her due credit for having been quite, in many ways, fearless and quite a dogged advocate for the “little” people. After the recession broke out — and there was a furious economic devastation that has been rained on ordinary people in the form of massive joblessness, foreclosure crisis and so on — she was one of the voices that was advocating in favor of credit card fraud victims and to represent them and explain what it is what the banks did, how did they really defraud people of tens of billions of dollars. And I think her reputation on that advocacy is completely just.

I was disappointed that she chose to run in the Democratic Party, but once she chose that, I was not surprised at all at either her silence or her, as you said, clichéd statements in favor of Israel. Because that’s what happens when you run from within the Democratic Party. If you are to be considered as any sort of viable candidate by the party establishment, then you have to toe the line. And that’s why it’s very important for us to point out that it’s not only about the integrity of individual people, it’s about what strategies we use to in order to actually, successfully represent the interests of ordinary........


Sawant also praises Warren for her brave stances on economic policy but she said, on Foreign policy she has not distinguished herself from Hillary. No potential Democratic candidate has. Is the only hope for the left running independent lefties like Sawant at the local level and pushing out from there?
Posted by betterdemsonly | Sun Aug 10, 2014, 06:27 PM (0 replies)

Malaysian state media alleges their Airliner was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet!

It also says the motivation was mistaken identity for Putin airplane.

9 August 2014

A Thursday article in the New Straits Times, Malaysia’s flagship English-language newspaper, charged the US- and European-backed Ukrainian regime in Kiev with shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 in east Ukraine last month. Given the tightly controlled character of the Malaysian media, it appears that the accusation that Kiev shot down MH17 has the imprimatur of the Malaysian state.

The US and European media have buried this remarkable report, which refutes the wave of allegations planted by the CIA in international media claiming that Russian president Vladimir Putin was responsible for the destruction of MH17, without presenting any evidence to back up this charge.

The New Straits Times article, titled “US analysts conclude MH17 downed by aircraft,” lays out evidence that Ukrainian fighter aircraft attacked the jetliner with first a missile, then with bursts of 30-millimeter machine gun fire from both sides of MH17. The Russian army has already presented detailed radar and satellite data showing a Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 fighter jet tailing MH17 shortly before the jetliner crashed. The Kiev regime denied that its fighters were airborne in the area, however.

The New Straits Times article began, “Intelligence analysts in the United States have already concluded that Malaysia flight MH17 was shot down by an air-to-air missile, and that the Ukrainian government had had something to do with it. This corroborates an emerging theory postulated by local investigators that the Boeing 777-200 was crippled by an air-to-air missile and finished off with cannon fire from a jet that had been shadowing it as it plummeted to earth..............”

Posted by betterdemsonly | Sun Aug 10, 2014, 07:28 AM (17 replies)

Isis are the Syrian rebels: The attacks on Christians were predicted.

People warned Obama that the rebels were Islamic fundamentalists and that they were worse than Assad, but he wouldn't listen. Putin warned him. That was what Putin was saying when he called them cannibals.

Putin Warns West On Arming Syrian Rebels: 'Are These The People You Want To Support?'

Reuters | Posted: 06/16/2013 1:10 pm EDT | Updated: 06/17/2013 8:54 am

By Alexei Anishchuk

LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin questioned on Sunday why the West would want to arm Syrian rebels who he said ate human organs, saying plans to give them weapons contradicted basic human values.

Speaking after meeting Prime Minister David Cameron in London ahead of a G8 summit on Monday, Putin said both the Syrian government and Syrian rebels were to blame for the bloodshed.

"You will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines in front of the public and cameras. Are these the people you want to support?," Putin told a news conference.

"Is it them who you want to supply with weapons? Then this probably has little relation to humanitarian values that have been preached in Europe for hu


His resistance to funding them is the reason we destabilized the Ukraine. We passed a funding bill for the Syrian rebels just in the last week. The UN warned that Isis was Syrianizing just two weeks ago.

UN report finds Islamic State is undergoing a 'Syrian-ization'

A UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria found Syrian rebels were defecting from other armed opposition groups and joining the Islamic State insurgency, a process the investigators called a 'Syrian-ization' of the Islamic State.
By Michelle Nichols, Reuters July 26, 2014

United Nations — More and more Syrian rebels are defecting to join the ultra-hardline Islamic State insurgency, said U.N. human rights investigators on Friday, in what they described as a "Syrian-ization" of the al Qaeda offshoot.

Members of the independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, set up by the U.N. Human Rights Council in September 2011, informally briefed the United Nations Security Council on Friday ahead of submitting their latest report next week.

Brazilian chief investigator Paulo Pinheiro said the Islamic State – formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, ISIL or ISIS – was undergoing a "Syrian-ization."
Recommended: Sunni and Shiite Islam: Do you know the difference? Take our quiz.

"What began with a lot of foreign fighters, now you have authentic Syrian citizens," Pinheiro told reporters. "We ar...........


If Obama doesn't start listening to someone besides the neocons it will be WW3.
Posted by betterdemsonly | Fri Aug 8, 2014, 03:34 AM (7 replies)
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