Links 8/29/13

Mahalia Jackson, and King’s Improvisation NYT

King in 1967: My dream has ‘turned into a nightmare’ NBC

Regulators Ease Mortgage Rules WSJ. Worth its own post but I didn’t have the time. The corrupt bargain between the industry and “progressive” housing groups really rankles here.

U.S. Bank Legal Bills Exceed $100 Billion Bloomberg

Federal Reserve Employees Afraid To Speak Put Financial System At Risk Huffington Post

Organized Opposition To Larry Summers Forms, Ramping Up For Confirmation Battle Huffington Post. Note that they’re ramping up for the confirmation fight, because the nomination is already expected.

Survey: Banking industry’s reputation is nearly as bad as that of Congress; BofA ranks last LA Times

NYPD Designates Mosques as Terrorist Organizations AP


Syria chemical weapons response poses major test for Obama LATimes. “One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity ‘just muscular enough not to get mocked’ but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.” So it’s a “bully on the playground” style of foreign policy.

Military strikes on Syria ‘as early as Thursday,’ US officials say NBC News

State Dept Admits it Doesn’t Know Who Ordered Syria’s Chemical Strike Foreign Policy

Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal NYT. The liberal media.

How an Insular Beltway Elite Makes Wars of Choice More Likely The Atlantic

The march to war in Syria is just another convulsion by a dying Westphalian system Hullabaloo

82 House members say Obama needs approval from Congress on Syria The Hill

Merrill Lynch in Big Payout for Bias Case Dealbook

Live blog: Mark Carney press conference FT. Going with the forward guidance.

New Census Numbers Show Recession’s Effect on Families NYT

Here’s where middle-class jobs are vanishing the fastest Washington Post

Working Poor Have Dimming Faith In Economic Mobility, Policymakers, Survey Finds Huffington Post (h/t May Sage)

Faced With Budget Cuts, 99.5 Percent Of Teachers Spend Their Own Money On Supplies Think Progress

Broken Promises and Continuing Worker Abuses as Apple and its Suppliers Miss Deadline Economic Policy Institute

Report: Frackers cheating Pa. landowners and gov’t out of billions Philadelphia Inquirer

Passing Gas: More Electric Cars Than Gasoline Stations Now Green Car Report

Moral Foundations of Paid Parental Leave Macro Business

Missouri’s Poorest Residents Won’t Benefit From Obamacare Mint Press News (h/t furzy mouse)

The Scariest Thing About NSA Analysts Spying On Their Lovers Is How They Were Caught Business Insider (h/t May Sage)

Cory Booker is tired of “cynics” and “bloggers” Salon

Californians United for a Responsible Budget Brave New Films. A grassroots effort against Jerry Brown’s private prison boondoggle.

Los Angeles Contemplates A Plan For Free Citywide Wi-Fi Fast Company

Executive Excess 2013: Bailed Out, Booted, and Busted Institute for Policy Studies

Saudi Arabia passes historic domestic abuse legislation

Gay marriage legal in New Mexico, sort of Washington Post

Putin ‘underwear’ painting removed from Russia gallery BBC

Why Your Startup’s Culture Is Secretly Awful Fast Company

Brothels in Nevada Suffer as Web Disrupts Oldest Trade Bloomberg

Antidote du jour:


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About David Dayen

David is a contributing writer to He has been writing about politics since 2004. He spent three years writing for the FireDogLake News Desk; he’s also written for The New Republic, The American Prospect, The Guardian (UK), The Huffington Post, The Washington Monthly, Alternet, Democracy Journal and Pacific Standard, as well as multiple well-trafficked progressive blogs and websites. His has been a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Aljazeera, Russia Today, NPR, Pacifica Radio and Air America Radio. He has contributed to two anthology books, one about the Wisconsin labor uprising and another on the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act in Congress. Prior to writing about politics he worked for two decades as a television producer and editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @ddayen.


  1. dcblogger

    bloggers respond to Booker at Blue Jersey

    Sounds like he Is either accusing bloggers of being racist or of being pretentious suburbanites. It’s a little disconcerting to be honest, like everything else he major issue he is faced with he ducks the question and deflects blame onto another party. Hopefully when he gets to the senate he proves his liberal credentials; otherwise we might as well start calling him Cory Romney.

  2. from Mexico

    @ “Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal”

    Ian Hurd tells us: “There are moral reasons for disregarding the law.”

    What seems to be totally lost on Hurd is that moral authority is required of those who make moral judgments. Barak Obama is not Martin Luther King. That is a fact that Hurd cannot get his head around.

    Hurd’s pseudo-logic and paramoralistic reasoning become obvious when he states: “Norms and institutions of international criminal law, including 11 years of experience with the International Criminal Court [ICC], have strengthened since then. Special tribunals for Cambodia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia reflect a growing consensus that perpetrators of atrocities should be punished.”

    In the fact-free world of pseudo-logic in which Hurd operates, however, the fact that the United States is not a participant of the ICC blithely gets glossed over.

    The ICC is a permanent international criminal court, founded in 2002 by the Rome Statute to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”, especially when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.

    If anything like a moral or just universe existed, and if the ICC were serious in its charge, then of course George Bush II, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Barak Obama would be the very first persons in line to be indicted by the ICC.

    Other moral giants besides the United States which have either not signed or not ratified the Rome Statute include China, Russia, Israel, North Korea, Iran, Myranmar, Rwanda, and the Syrian Arab Republic.

    Other US allies in the war to turn the Middle East into their plantatation and who have either not signed or not ratified the Rome Statute include Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

    1. Richard Kline

      So from, human rights trump soverign state rights any day in a moral universe. That is Hurd’s point. He says nothing that contradicts a view that the US _should_ be subject to the ICC: you put that view in his mouth. Hurd has also pointed out elsewhere that _nothing the regime in Syria is doing is barred in international law_, and hence international law BY ITSELF is inadequate as a basis for response.

      I understand your moral outrage at American corruption and malefic exeptionalism. What I do not understand is how that outrage seems to have unmoored your tether to any kind of consistent moral position outside of that. _The world does NOT revolve around American objectives, whims, talents or crimes._ Moral positions do not start and end with what some American clown does or does not do, however much that impacts other areas on a short or long-term basis. What might be best done in Syria (or Egypt, or Colombia, or Papua, or anywhere) does not start from ‘What’s the American angle.’ That’s condescending to those involved, which I don’t think you mean, and relativist, which regretably I DO think you mean.

      1. from Mexico

        Richard Kline says:

        …human rights trump soverign state rights any day in a moral universe.

        Funny how you invoke the same interpretation of justum bellum, or just war theory, which Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda invoked to justify the extermination and enslavement of the American Indians in the 16th century.

        “What causes justified the war against the indians in particular?” Sepúlveda asked.

        As Alfonso Maestre Sánchez explains, Sepúlveda enumerated four causes:

        First Cause: “The natural state of servitude of the Indians.”

        Second Cause: “The obligaiton to eliminate the human sacrifice and cannibalism of the Indians.”

        Third Cause: “The obligation, due to natural law, to liberate the sacrifical innocents from those rituals.”

        Fourth Cause: “To help the evangelization of Christianity.”

        The Spanish crown was not convinced, and disallowed the publication of Sepúlveda’s books and diverse apologetics during his lifetime. His Opera was not published until the 18th century, and his specific apologetics which argued in favor of the war on the Indians did not appear in print until 1892.

        Nevertheless, as Maestre goes on to explain, “Sepúlveda converted into the hero of the conquistadores and the other Spaniards who ‘wanted to make war on the Indians’.” The governing body of Mexico City, the richest and most important in all of the New World, voted to send Sepúlveda a lavish gift of jewels and other valuable items in appreciation for his efforts to justify the war on the Indians.

        And it was Sepúlveda’s ideology which, if not in theory, at least in practice would triumph in the New World. As Carlos Fuentes explains in The Buried Mirror, the Crown attacked “feudal pretensions while defending humanitarian values.”

        But the Laws of the Indies, it was said, were like a spider’s web, which caught only the smaller criminals and let the big ones get off scot free.


        No wonder, then, that when the new humanitarian laws arrived from Spain, local officials in the New World simply placed them on top of their heads and solemly stated, “La ley se obedece pero no se cumple,” that is, “The law is formally obeyed, but actually it is disregarded.” A deep divorce betwen the legal country, festering behind the legal facade, thus demoralized and disrupted Spanish America from the very start.

        1. Jess

          Just have to say from reading your posts that you are one well-read dude.

          Appreciate the insight you bring.

        2. Richard Kline

          So from, again you put words in my mouth that didn’t come out. I have _never_ endorsed Just War theory, and in fact I have always opposed, and do oppose, that concept. Wars are never just; sometimes force is necessary. There is a huge difference there. Just War says, “All bets are off if this set of conditions is met,” freeing the state actor to wage war by all means. Whereas necessary force implies only what is necessary, and that compensation and reconciliation will have to be pursued concurrently and after the fact.

          All those concepts you’ve read in all those books, from: the real world, real time doesn’t run on philosophy. When the bullet hits the bone, or someone you know goes missing in a death squad state, maybe something more than philosophy needs to come out of the old piehole, hey? One has to look at the facts on the ground, the means, the costs, the long-term social price, the mind set of the public, the inadequacy of the decision makers, the rottenness of past policy. All of it. I am not endorsing ‘war,’ even while I fully realize that conditions can go sideways and war can result. I don’t endorse inaction in the face of gross crimes against humanity for ‘philosophical reasons.’

          You don’t like my solutions? Where are yours? “Try Bush and Cheney!” Well, that’s a good idea, but that does jackall for Syrians now. I do not see, frankly, that you have anything to offer to anyone enduring repression except good books and convoluted debate. I think you’re better than that, but I don’t see you trying all that much. What is your proposal? When you have one, we may have an actual debate that matters.

          1. from Mexico

            • Richard Kline says:

            …again you put words in my mouth that didn’t come out. I have _never_ endorsed Just War theory, and in fact I have always opposed, and do oppose, that concept.

            I’m sorry, Richard, but if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

            • Richard Kline says:

            Just War says, “All bets are off if this set of conditions is met,” freeing the state actor to wage war by all means.

            So what happened to just In bello (the rules that govern the fair conduct of war) and just post bellum (the rules that govern the responsiblity and accountability of warring parties after the war), which are just as much a part of just war theory as justum bellum (the rules that govern the justice of war).

            You have this strange way of inventing out of whole cloth whatever you need to win an argument.

            • Richard Kline said:

            You don’t like my solutions? Where are yours? “Try Bush and Cheney!”

            Funny how the very guy who is advocating the Bush-Cheney solution is accusing others, who are advocating the very opposite of the Bush-Cheny solution, of advocating the Bush-Cheney solution.

            The rhetorical contortions and back-flips you perform, Richard, are beyond the pale.

      2. Roger Bigod


        I usually agree with your opinions, but this posting seems off base.

        I’m inclined to see Sadam, Qadaffi and Assad as morally equivalent. Each presided over a heterogeneous country with large ethnic or sectarian minorities. Every 5-10 years, one of them would rebel and require a massacre to restore order. But they held the country together (especially significant for Iraq with two powerful neighbors). Iraq had the highest level of education in he region. Libya had excellent health care. And Syria has a record of tolerating all religious sects (likely to change under Sunni rule).

        Clearly, Iraq is way worse off now than in 2003. The big negatives on Sadam were the repression of opposition and the lack of democracy. But an agency for human rights estimated that he was killing 100-200 people per year to encourage the others. That’s the toll of a week or two in the current violence. And they’re a long way from a constitutional democracy with rule of law, those cute ink-stained fingers notwithstanding.

        Libya is worse off in the short term, and probably longer. There’s no reason the same won’t hold for Syria.

        There’s a phenomenon of demonization here. With suitable cultural conditioning, mention of certain topics sends the rational frontal cortex into lockdown and reptilian emergency reflexes kick in. Manipulating these responses is a standard propaganda technique, as Mr. Godwin and others have noted. “WMD” is such a topic. Poison gas leaves people just as dead as a drone strike. It’s no more indiscriminate than what we did to Dresden or Faluja. But after enough denunciation by people in authority, the lower parts of the brain are primed to go nonono badbadad creepycreepycreepy.

        1. Richard Kline

          So Roger, the mistake in your evaluation, to me, is lumping all these cases into a set of equivalents. In reality, each is a unique problem set. The same program or position simply doesn’t work well with all. I do advocate avoiding absolutist positions will looking at specific circumstances.

          I think you are completely mistaken regarding Libya. Do you actually have a grasp on the experience of repression most Libyans went through under Gaddafi. Quite a lot is know about that. Yes, the governance of Libya is chaotic now: that was going to be a certainty. That is typical after revolutions, it takes time to the a ‘state’ back to functioning. Chaos isn’t the same as living under the daily threat of prison, torture, disappearance _for you whole extended family_. The death rate there isn’t where I’d like it, sure, but part of that is because militias of communities who were on the losing side are still actively disputing the emergence of new, effective government, and those who one are actually being relatively careful in repressing that insurrectionist irredentism—which to me is to the credit of the victors.

          I did not support the invasion and occupation of Iraq at any time, nor do I know. Yes, Saddam was a horror; his best days amounted to Gaddafi’s worst, and his worst days were far worth then those of the Syrian Baathists now. A foreign invasion had an excellent chance to kill a million bystanders, though—and has. That’s too high a cost for military intervention. The US occupation was grossly corrupt, and set back the emergence of democracy and pluralist government inherently. Sectarian conflict was highly likely from simply shattering Baathist control; sure enough, we have sectarian conflict still distant from resolution. And so on, and more; point being, the context for an armed intervention that made things better rather than worse was zero, go barging in shooting was a bad idea.

          Contexts differ, and one has to weight each action, each time, in each case. I could say more, but I’m hogging far too many pixels here as it is (just that it strikes me as necessary in this instance).

    2. Richard Kline

      ” . . . [T]he dying Westphalia system.” Well maybe it needs to hurry up and die. Because we need to do better than that. And can. And should.

      A principle problem with the Westphalia system, and its contemporary elaboration the United Nations, is that both are structured around the principle of state sovereignty rather than the principle of human rights. This was, in the case of the UN Charter, a choice both deliberate and unsurprising. Diplomatic protocal and legal structures for state interaction (as opposed to royal sovereign interaction) were some 500 years in process in Western European liberal tradition c. 1945 CE. The main participants knew how to make that system work, and how to work it for their own interests. Many formerly colonial subject communities at that time were understandably _strongly_ focused on achieving sovereign state status as a way to protect themselves, since peoples without states had no rights or standing of any kind (and still don’t under _international_ law, i.e. inter-STATE legal frameworks). Then too, possessors at that time of sovereign state standing realized its advantages to protect them to do much as they pleased, and were not about to surrender a smidgen of such advantages. And separate from this, the UN as a talking shop did, and does, perform an important function of diffusing military confrontations between major states which no one can afford, disrupting huge military alliances which are problematic for anyone not in them, raising the costs (or at least the friction) of unilateralism, and so on.

      Human rights were and are a much newer concept, perhaps only 200 years old in that same Western European liberal tradition. Human rights by contrast were not universally accepted as a principal c. 1945. Not least, human rights were much suspect in post-colonial subject populations, as the evolution of liberal Western cultural imperialism which had been used to disrespect and oppress them. Human rights were not, and are not, accepted as valid in most dictatorships, autocracies, and areas of ‘racial’ divisions either. Human rights didn’t have the cred to serve as a basis for primary inter-communal relations at that time.

      In the two generations since the UN founding, though, the standing of state sovereignty is considerably tarnished while the standing of human rights has considerabley grown. Sovereign states are incapbale of addressing something like global warming. Sovereign states are malefic and sloppy at best in confronting putatively domestic crimes, police states, inter-communal violence, and sovereign economic predatory and Typhoid Mary like contagions. Sovereign states are about communal advantages relative to others, not about common understanding and mutual support. Human rights are not presently a matter of completely shared human understanding. (Abortion? Reproductive freedom? Sexual preference?) Human rights are an evolving set of moral first principles, whereas state sovereignty had centuries more of trial and error before being used as a set of foundational principles.

      Human beings have rights. Neither states nor corporations are people; neither should be addressed as having ‘rights.’ Neither states nor corporations should have ANY standing other then as the corporate representatives of defined groups of people. The ‘rights’ of states and corporations are only extant to the extent to which they draw from the underlying human rights of the people involved. Human rights are the ONLY basis for policy and institutions, full stop. That is my view.

      If one places the least emphasis on _human rights as the first principle_, the moral obligation to intervene in a catastrophe such as that in Syria is unquestionable. How and who: those are dire questions, yes. But yes/no and why: those are questions already answered by facts buried in the ground.

      1. Massinissa

        So in this case we should protect human rights by…

        Bombing the crap out of Damascus, where thousands of innocents will be killed? Great idea!

        Putting crazed islamists in power so they can kill all the shiites and christians? Absolutely lovely idea!

        Your talk of ‘human rights’ sounds like mindless grandstanding. The same kind that justified the debacles in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam. Wasnt Vietnam also about ‘human rights’, even though it was essentially just an attempt to prop up an unpopular and bloodthirsty capitalist puppet dictator? This is the same thing, though hopefully we wont leave as large a footprint this time.

        By the way, remember that when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, he had lofty rhetoric about ‘protecting’ german minorities in that country. Humanitarian Imperialism is really nothing new.

      2. ohmyheck

        We should go to war with Syria? Because it is our moral imperative? Here is an article, with attached video, showing that US-backed Syrian Rebels fired the latest round of chemical weapons.

        The US Government knows this. Many citizens know this. This is proof of a false-flag operation as an excuse to go to war.

        For all your war-mongering, Richard Kline, you are, in fact, a pompous windbag.

      3. from Mexico

        • Richard Kline said:

        A principle problem with the Westphalia system, and its contemporary elaboration the United Nations, is that both are structured around the principle of state sovereignty rather than the principle of human rights.

        And there’s a good reason for that. Human rights has a tendency to morph into absolutism.

        This was seen in Spain as the Christian humanism of the early mendicant friars in the first two-thirds of the 16th century was slowly displaced by the mercenary theology of the secular clergy. Fray Bartolomé de las Casas’s call for justice for “all races in a world of multiple races” and his admonitions that all peoples “are human beings” and “they have a right to enjoy their possessions, their political liberty and their human dignity” gave way to the cultural, military and economic imperialism of the Inquisition, the Counter-reformation and the Council of Trent. All, of course — the mendicants as well as the seculars — believed they were doing God’s work and furthering the interests of humanity.

        The hard colonial line arrived in Mexico in 1569 when Phillip II signed a cedula instituting the Inquisiton in Lima and in Mexico.

        Our current quasi-religious absolutes are, for the neoliberals, free-market fundamentalism, and for the neoconservatives, democracy fundamentalism. Put them together and you have what John Gray calls “American-style democratic capitalism.” “It came to be believed that…it is destined to spread everywhere,” Gray explains. “And as it does, a universal civilization will come into being, and history will come to an end.”

        And if a massive military campaign is required to spread the one true faith everywhere, then so be it. In this regard the neoliberals and neoconservatives are no different than the Spanish monarchs of the 1569 to 1648 era. They all professed, and probalby believed, that they were doing God’s work.

        • Richard Kline said:

        Human rights were and are a much newer concept, perhaps only 200 years old in that same Western European liberal tradition.

        I can’t believe you said that. In the best of the Judeo-Christian tradition there exists an ancient belief in a transcendent “community of humankind.” The escape from the parochial identification of God with the nation, for instance, can be found when Isaiah could declare a God who gave meaning to existence quite independent of the vicissitudes of a nation, which up until that time had been the chief source of all meaning to the pious Jew.

        • Richard Kline said:

        In the two generations since the UN founding, though, the standing of state sovereignty is considerably tarnished while the standing of human rights has considerabley grown.

        That is because of the falling star of classic Realism and the rising star of neoliberalism and neoconservatism. As Reinhold Niebuhr put it

        We emerged as one of the two superpowers after the Second World War. Our power had cured us of irresponsible neutralism, but not of self-righteousness. We now act as the self-appointed guardians of democracy…in all parts of the world.

        As Duncan Bell explains, while once exercising a powerful influence on US foreign policy, the fortunes of classic realism have been mixed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The neoconservatives in the Reagan administration claimed sole credit for the Russian empire’s demise, forcing the realists onto the back-foot. Since the 1990s:

        A sense of optimism pervaded public political debate. Globalization was purportedly transforming the international order, and the final triumph of democratic capitalism, even the ‘end of history’, was proclaimed. In this ‘new world order’, realism was seen as morally bankrupt and intellectually flawed, its adherents defending, whether implicitly or explicitly, a world of cynical great power politics. It belonged to another, more primitive age. Yet the optimism soon faded. Genocide in Rwanda, vicious ethnic conflict in Somalia, East Timor, and the former Yugoslavia, and then, at the dawn of the new millennium, 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, all illustrated the continuing vitality of state power and the horrors of political violence. The gross inequalities generated by neo-liberal capitalism exposed the dark side of globalization. Realism was partly rehabilitated, albeit in a more pluralistic form. Meanwhile, the consistent realist hostility to the Iraq War rekindled interest in the normative dimensions of realism.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          That’s a devastating analysis of neoliberals and neocons — as self-appointed, self-sanctified messiahs who drink their own pseudo-religious Kool-Aid. Such holier than thou high priests are mean drunks turned liars thieves and killers.

        2. Synopticist

          ” Fray Bartolomé de las Casas’s call for justice for “all races in a world of multiple races” and his admonitions that all peoples “are human beings” and “they have a right to enjoy their possessions, their political liberty and their human dignity” gave way to the cultural, military and economic imperialism of the Inquisition, the Counter-reformation and the Council of Trent.”

          Exactly. Power corrupts, and someone always has power, and they abuse it. You can start from the nicest set of ideals in the world and it won’t be long before they’re used to justify the most brutal violence and oppression.
          Fetishising human rights soon leads to a situation where totally unnacountable lawyers and judges overturn the popular will and democratically decided policies in favour of their own professional caste and their own self interest. And they’ll follow the money of course.
          That’s human nature.

          I’ll take my chances with multi-party democracy in a Nation State thanks. It’s imperfect, but there’s no better system.

        3. Richard Kline

          So from, absolutism is the risk from using a moral position as a first principle, yes. I’m not blind to that. Self-criticism is an essential. A focus on what is necessary and appropriate rather than on what is ‘just’ and ‘lawful’ is likewise essential. Action with a small ‘a’ is to be preferred. All of that is a long discussion which skirts the main point: inaction is both immoral and ineffectual. Legalism doesn’t protect you a hair in a context where those with the guns make the policy. If you read what I actually write, and advocate, I am firmly against any absolutist approach to international policy, under and circumstances. I said a few days ago in remarks here on another subject that even just action by a state can harm the interests of some inherently, and that policy needs to be mindful of that. It strikes me that it is _you_, from, who want to turn every policy choice into an absolute valuation, all this or all that.

          I don’t see any solutions coming out of your stances; more a willingness to avert your eyes while quoting yet another secular psalm to drown out the screams. Tell me what you’ll do when they come for you, having come for everybody else less passive first, please? Since you are so fond of quotes, I expect you know the one by Martin Niemoller. It strikes me as quite appropriate here (in a revised form):

          First they came for the communists,
          and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
          Then they came for the socialists,
          and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
          Then they came for the trade unionists,
          and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
          Then they came for me,and there was no one left to speak for me

          Regarding the recency of human rights as a concept, I can’t believe that you, evidently so well read, have the gall to attempt to base an interpretation of human rights upon the Judeao-Christian tradition. What an insult. What we have in that tradition is ‘believers’ rights.’ That ol’ Deus Irae didn’t have the slightest problem dropping locusts and brimstone on unbelievers and apostates, being quite willing to wipe out all of their kith and kin who may well not have had a choice regarding which side they were on. We were just discussing the dangers of absolutism deriving fom moral first principles _and nowhere are those dangers MORE EVIDENT than in the practices and zealotry of various believers ‘of the Book.’ Do you even juxtapose your own remarks, from, I don’t follow you here? Confucious and Chuantzu where much closer on human rights if you care to cite philosophical positions from antiquity, but both were willing to sell out the individual for the group, every time. Only the Buddhists and the Jains have modeled their confessions on a truly high valuation of human rights. Do you read them? Or have you had time to get off the European peninsula in forming your conceptual bases?

          There are concepts in the Christian tradition which do feed into the evolution of human rights, such as the condemnation of slavery and abuse for those in ones own confession. But again, this is ‘some, not all,’ and in that respect NOT the position of human rights in modernity. Human rights came out of the liberal European _secular opposition_ to Christian churches in Europe, and their partiality, forced conformity, and atrocious conduct toward those just a shade different let alone completely foreign. To acquire the protections of a particular God of the Book, one has to profess faith in same: having to kiss some putative god’s ass to have a right to exist and be free is directly antithetical to the modern formulation of human rights. It was the moral hypocrisy and failure in practice of Christianity which set human rights in motion!

          Human rights as an _absolute value_ as opposed to a communal perquisite is significantly a new thing under the sun. There’s a further long discussion to that, which I’m not up for tonight beyond my present remarks.

          1. Richard Kline

            Here is a more accurate rendition of Neimoller’s quote which I didn’t have time to locate:

            “The smallest minority on earth is the individual.
            Those who deny individual rights cannot
            claim to be defenders of minorities.”
            – Ayn Rand


            “First They Came for the Jews”
            By Pastor Niemoller

            First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

            Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

            Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

            Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

      4. charles sereno

        “If one places the least emphasis on _human rights as the first principle_, the moral obligation to intervene in a catastrophe such as that in Syria is unquestionable.” (Richard Kline)

        Dear Richard, in the fashion of the day, let’s ‘parse’ your statement. In English, as best as I can — “If a guy doesn’t give a shit about human rights, no question, he’s morally obligated to intervene.” You mean such a depraved creature is supposed to lead a moral crusade? Another fashionable phrase comes to mind — cognitive dissonance. You’re full of it.

        1. Francois T

          ” You mean such a depraved creature is supposed to lead a moral crusade?”

          I believe Richard Kline meant: Such a depraved creature will lead a crusade under the cover of moral justifications.

        2. Richard Kline

          So Charles, you are obsessed with ‘who will lead’ whereas I am not. Nor am I endorsing any moral crusade. Obsessions with the failings of a clot like Barack Obama does not eliminate the larger and more immediate moral issue. I’m not even in favor of, say, comparing Obama and Assad ‘to see who’s worse,’ an exercise of no real consequence.

          What is the best course with a chance of success to dial down repression and death in Syria? That is the first question I ask. Will the outcome of that have odds of being better or worse than inaction? That is the second question I ask. Those are all.

          Folks who want to talk about the excrement on Obama’s shirttail or whether Cheney will ever be held accountable for his crimes _while doing nothing about a situation to which neither really applies_ strike me as very, very unimpressive, and ones with a moral compass that is fixed on one point only by some local magnetic disturbance of the mind. All those Syrians, and Bandladeshis, and Cambodians, and Malians et. al. are very, very far away, aren’t they charles, and so very . . . inconsequential to ones own concerns.

      5. Doug Terpstra

        Who are you, and what have you done with Richard?

        Clearly, each of us have blind spots, some enormous. Granted, Assad is not a nice guy, and we shouldn’t have supported him for so long. But as others have noted well, the human rights basis for endorsing another aggressive war relies on twisted presumptions so illogical that only a Neocon hypocrite could braid them into an alternate reality. The self-referential bootstrapping of invented “evidence” is so vacuous it’s worthy of Dick Cheney himself (“there can be no doubt,” citing an NYT article filled with his own leaked “facts”). This is verbatim plagiarism of Iraq, but with clumsy cut-and-paste work. Your “moral obligation” is a vacuous as John Kerry’s, based on glaring contradictions, without tangible proof. By your moral obligation standard, we’d bomb Egypt instead of funding it; we’d bomb our puppet states in the ME and Israel for ongoing humanitarian crises.

        Cui bono? Who really knows why Israel wants this war (a prelude to Iran) just now, but in the conspicuous rush to derail UN inspectors (Iraq redux), I’m surprised we’re not also presented with forged yellow-cake receipts, with stories of rape rooms, torture chambers, grainy truck photos, vials of powder, and babies ejected from incubators for the emotional hook. This time the criminal aren’t even trying. Maybe they don’t need to. Maybe Bibi’s got the goods on Odious O.

        It’s surprising that an NC regular would swallow something so clearly tainted it stinks.

          1. Richard Kline

            I work nights and sleep days, bro. Can’t be everywhere ‘fighting the good fight’ at once, can I? Cut a working man some slack why dontcha . . . .

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I quit watching TV a long time ago.

          They had nothing but re-runs.

          Still, even here at NC, I get the feeling it’s deja vu all over again.

        2. from Mexico

          For me this helps to explain what motivates the highly emotional response:

          As a rule, it is not compassion which sets out to change worldly conditions in order to ease human suffering, but if it does, it will shun the drawn out wearisome processes of persuasion, negotiation, and compromise, which are the processes of law and politics, and lend its voice to the suffering itself, which must claim for swift and direct action, that is, for action with the means of violence.

          Here again, the relatedness of the phenomena of goodness and compassion is manifest. For goodness that is beyond virtue, and hence beyond temptation, ignorant of the argumentative reasoning by which man fends of temptations and, by this very process, comes to know the ways of wickedness, is also incapable of learing the arts of persuading and arguing. The great maxim of all civilized legal systems, that the burden of proof must always rest with the accuser, sprang from the insight that only guilt can be irrefutably proved. Innocence, on the contrary, to the extent that it is more than ‘not guilty’, cannot be proved…

          Pity, taken as the spring of virtue, has proved to possess a greater capacity for cruelty than cruelty itself. :“Par pitié, par amour pour l’humanité, soyez inhumains!” – these words, taken almost at random from a petition of one of the sections of the Parisian Commune to the National Convention, are neither accidental nor extreme; they are the authentic language of pity. They are followed by a crude but nevertheless precise and very common rationalization of pity’s cruelty: “Thus, the clever and helpful surgeon with his cruel and benevolent knife cuts off the gangrened limb in order to save the body of the sick man.”….

          One could argue that it was this threat of terror inherent in the revolutionary wars that “suggested the use to which terror may be put in revolutions”; at any rate, it was answered with rare precision by those who called themselves les enragés and who avowed openly that vengeance was the inspiring principle of their actions: “Vengeance is the only source of liberty, the only goddess we ought to bring sacrifices to”, as Alexandre Rousseling, a member of Hébert faction, put it. This was perhaps not the true voice of the people, but certainly the very real voice of those whom even Robespierre had identified with the people.

          –HANNAH ARENDT, On Revolution

          1. charles sereno

            Much as I love Hannah Arendt (and I do), I think she deserved a cleverer editor.

            “Here again, the relatedness of the phenomena of goodness and compassion is manifest. For goodness that is beyond virtue, and hence beyond temptation, ignorant of the argumentative reasoning by which man fends of (sic) temptations and, by this very process, comes to know the ways of wickedness, is also incapable of learing (sic) the arts of persuading and arguing. The great maxim of all civilized legal systems, that the burden of proof must always rest with the accuser, sprang from the insight that only guilt can be irrefutably proved. Innocence, on the contrary, to the extent that it is more than ‘not guilty’, cannot be proved…”

            In my most humble opinion, she got so comfortable with words that some of them just flew over our heads and missed us when they shouldn’t have.

            1. from Mexico

              I have read that Arendt wrote very fast, and that English was a second language for her, which were offered as an explanation for some of her bad writing. Sometimes it is so bad it is difficult to understand what she is trying to say.

              Nevertheless, like you say, it seems like her editors would have cleaned that up.

        3. Synopticist

          What, you mean you’re not willing just to take MOSSAD’s word for it? Those guys have always played with a straight bat. They have no dog in this fight. C’mon, are you anti-semitic or something?

        4. Richard Kline

          “Who are you, and what have you done with Richard?” Haha, I kinda like that, Doug. I did sortof go apeshyte on your remarks yesterday, though there were points to be made. I can be kinda stiff-necked, can’t I?

          Doug, question: Have you actually been following the evolving tactical and strategic situations in Syria over the last two and a half years? Because if you have, the very strong implication is that some faction in the Baathist regime HAS USE CHEMICAL MUNITIONS before this time. As I mentioned in remarks yesterday, this likely cannot be proved conclusively until a post-conflict assessment, but that is the conclusion that bears the most weight of the evidence. So, a _presumption_ that the regime both has that capability and has had the willingness to use it is in order. That isn’t proof, but it isn’t nothing either.

          That isn’t to say that the regime ‘used gas’ in Damascus in the latest incident, as you also know from my response to you yesterday, it’s clear other parties have interests to bring down an aerial assault on the Baathists. There is the non-trivial possibility that rebels in Damascus knew what they had to to to provoke the regime to use chemical munitions in this instance as well. I don’t know.

          Having said that, I’ll repeat that I’m not falling for anything. Even _in the complete absence of this latest, ambiguous instance_ the conduct of the regime in this conflict has LONG SINCE passed any threshold whereby an international suppressive response should have followed. Those who’re obsessed on ‘who did it’ seem to me to be willfully blind to the larger, longer picture, which latter picture seems highly likely to have included prior chemical use by the regime. This isn’t a situation where a ‘red line has been crossed,’ regardless of rhetoric by policy actors, since the regime has been painting the landscape red for many, many months. Shelling civilian areas under seige in Hama and Homs, a proven action of the regime, are by themselves war crimes meriting international action. Do you know what they did with the German general who did that to Leningrad? He got the Short Drop. Any triggering incident, even one far more certain or egregious matters much less than the overall pattern of conduct—which in the instance of the Baathist regime is despicable. Do you get that? Does it matter? “Assad or we burn Syria.” That isn’t Islamist propaganda: that’s the Baathists own slogan. That was Gaddafi’s position also: “Me, or salt plowed amongst the ruins.” You following that? Does it matter at least as much as keeping your own hands clean, bro?

          It does offend me mucho that waaay too many folks who seem to be and should be brighter are willing to overlook a pattern of criminality and the very high cost inflicted upon some until a certain thumbprint appears in a certain place on a certain form which matters much more to them. Selective deafness. Yes, liars have lied about similar situations, which is why we have an obligation to stay informed independent of official liars lying about what they are doing—which they will always do all of the time anyway, because they see it as their job. “Not my problem.” You’re right: it’s ALL of our problem.

          Yes, it’s a very bad deal for the US to act unilaterally in this, and the US has anything but a good track record in such actions. You can’t see me holding my nose while calling for suppression of the Baathists principle hardware assets, but I am. Because the larger good requires that. If Obama was talking an ‘occupying mission,’ then no, I’d be absolutely against that, as likely to do far more harm then good.

          A harm to one is a harm to all: does that have any resonance for you, Doug? Richard Kline is always of that persuasion, it just may not have been as evident in my remarks over the long-term.

      6. Whistling in the Dark

        “Human rights are an evolving set of moral first principles, …

        Human beings have rights. …
        If one places the least emphasis on _human rights as the first principle_, the moral obligation to intervene in a catastrophe such as that in Syria is unquestionable. How and who: those are dire questions, yes. But yes/no and why: those are questions already answered by facts buried in the ground.”

        And, I know the counter-objection before I raise mine, the former being the urgency of the situation. But there is this: What are you talking about? What are “human rights” and why are you so sure they exist? Or are they just something which we should work toward, to articulate and to agree upon as a world and one people (in other words, to construct, in the way tha tall institutions must be constructed)?

        For example: So, perhaps it is self-evident that people have the right to life (no, it isn’t). And, so, this right is being abused in Syria. Because Assad is a murderer. So, why does it matter if they die horrifically through a gas attack or perhaps more quickly via a bomb (whose bomb)?

        Just why is it so self-evident (it’s not) that we have a moral obligation to intervene now that the sh*t has hit the fan in a somewhat new way during the past week? And what constitutes a moral response–consistent with the foundational notion of “human rights”? Unless you articulate more fully, your words sound like–to be charitable, a well-intentioned–appeal to pathos, the goal of which is to recruit further reluctant and grim voices in support of a Syrian attack. And you could have many reasons for wanting that. My (charitable) interpretation of you is that, indeed, you are dreaming of a world governed by a notion of “human rights.” I am happy to grant that your indignation has been roused by the events in Syria of recent and of the past — what’s it been two years? Thus, the need to act is obvious to you. (You must remember to give thanks for your active sense of indignation.) Furthermore, you are tired, as we all are, of learning these lessons of impending doom over and over. We are in the midst of learning one. But does an appeal to gut-feeling (because I can’t see what else you are doing with your words) really do the trick? If this inborn sense of the inviolabality of the human condition was already alive and well within us, the need for this conversation would not arise. Can you accept this premise? If so, then you ought to conclude that building the notion of “human rights” among people is more important in the long-run. Even if the exigency of the long-run is obliterated in the screams of Sarin gas victims. As it-may-well should be. (I am not advocating here. Just trying to come to terms with what I find troubling in what you are saying, an admittedly subjective position on my part.)

        I suppose your audience here is assumed to be as well-versed in the notions and as well convicted through the associated pangs of the heart of a believer in human rights. Yet, I am not sure we needed such a notion; indeed, if rights are understood or apprehended through a “red-line” phenomenon–the point at which a subject finds that he is unwilling to bear his condition and that, indeed, even the consent to what he had experienced before this sudden revolt must also be revoked–well, the phenomenon has been around as long as there were kings. And Assad is in the messy process of getting his mandate revoked. On the other hand, we have the Western world, which brings very big guns and an old and tired history of rebellion and wars behind it. I sense that you are impatient to be rid of these old and tired problems such as Assad and dictators, mass-murderers; you are ready to mow down this blight on the path to a finer world built on a notion of human rights. But what are these things; are they more than just the residue of centuries of revolt? The rule of the gut of the population should come to end? Never again should a populace be forced to muster itself agsint a tyrant simply to get itself fed and protected and safe? That’s a fine sentiment. So, we are in the process of negotiating these terms, these demands, with our masters (albeit, the democratic state–with apologies to the people of Syria who aren’t quite to that one either). What else is new? So, let’s negotiate the terms. Let’s not leave them up to the gut any longer. Meaning: tell me what is so obivous (no! articulate it clearly and precisely — is it the 100,000?) about the moral injustice of Assad’s actions. And why is the inevitible whatever-the-heck-is-going-to-happen something we should accede to, as a proper action in enforcement of this code? Otherwise, we run the risk of cosmically repeating ourselves.

        1. Richard Kline

          So Whistling, you are a subtle rhetoritician; nothwithstanding such capacity your remarks are a foxhole full of straw men representing things I haven’t said, positions I don’t advocate, and what-ifs that don’t seem germane. I simply haven’t the energy (if I do have the likeing) to pick them apart one at a time. A few remarks must do for now . . .

          I don’t think that this present incident, red line or not, is of consequence compared to the pattern of war crimes and human rights violations which are very clearly attributible to the regime over the course of this conflict. Yes, I can understand that you may not have apprehended that as my position, since my remarks have been fragmentary rather than a comprehensive case—since there has been no post presented here suitable for making a comprehensive case, just odd jots in the news. If you, Whistling, do not see that pattern of crimes it is because you are determined not to look.

          Should everyone take ‘my position on human rights’ as the basis for action? Of course not. This is something which requires a broad consensus, itself difficult to achieve, and at least a range of baseline principles and conditions which can only come from a longer process. It is telling of us both that I’m advocating action without aboslute certainty while you are implying that since absolute certainty is improbable action must wait. Who is the absolutist here, then?

          I resist ‘self-evident’ positions, and it’s arguable that I haven’t advanced any here. _Evidence_ does matter. Quite separate from this incident we have plentiful demonstrations of the odious deeds of result and intent which one can atribute to a regime what has lost the tolerance of the vast majority it will never again control but can only kill until it is disarmed. If you refuse to engage with that evidence, with those intentions, with those realities, and by your argument I assume such is your position, then that is by your own choice to hold yourself apart.

          And therefore, Whistling: I’ll remember your qualms about what is and is not evidently an unacceptable crime when it is _you_ dragged into the shower with a gun to your head and a cattle prod selectively applied while they shoot your sibling outside. I suspect you’ll have a lot to say about what is evidently acceptable then, but I just bet I’ll be busy. Trying to save somebody else first who actually gives a damn. . . . But yeah, in the end, I’d likely object to the abuse of you, too, and advocate they let you go.

          1. Whistling in the Dark

            “… your remarks are a foxhole full of straw men representing things I haven’t said, positions I don’t advocate, and what-ifs that don’t seem germane.”

            Yes, I don’t deny this; in fact, I am not entirely sure what you believe. But I am not going to assume that your beliefs are consistent or laudable just because “violence, etc.etc.etc.”

            Furthermore, you are correct in pointing out that I am playing loose with the specific facts of the situation if I am playing at all. I’m not interested: my interest is something general.

            In particular, I am simply asking an honest question, while also trying to provoke a response. Allow me to make it clear:

            I don’t understand why you are so stridently advocating for the position you hold. While I can perhaps find it reasonable, I can also find it suspicious. So I am inviting a more general justification on your part for the appeal to “human rights” and to stopping the bloodshed through acts of war. I’m not seeing clarity of argument. But I am seeing a lot of argument by pathos, as well as trying to dizzy your audience with the specter of horrific violence.

            One could have different reasons for such a passioned argument as yours, and I am inviting you to offer yours, so that I do not have to assume. (I am a cynic, so I will assume the worst that I can think of, say.)

            1. Whistling in the Dark

              Also, to be clear: I am not offering a position of my own so much as messing with yours–but you should look at it as an invitation to clarify your position, since it seems in need of such. That may help keep you from “talking past me” as I have also done to you, should you take the time, which I don’t expect, but would appreciate. Speak not to me, since what have I offered that would make that worthwhile?–but in general, for posterity, say. Since, I think we both agree, at least this matter is an important one. What sort of general principles (e.g.: is 100,000 too many dead? What’s the threshhold–what’s the calculus?) are guiding your position? “Appeal to authority” will be accepted, but I do not promise that I will follow through and petition any of the authorities you offer.

          2. Whistling in the Dark

            “Trying to save somebody else first who actually gives a damn.”

            Actually, I find this interesting: So, is that what ultimately matters–that we should be involved in this common project called “humanity”? I’m not trying to assume that you were trying to do anything besides use a rhetorical device, a joke, in communicating a point. But it raises an interesting question, nonetheless. Is this an important criterion? Should we differentiate between nameless, faceless prole-victims and between smirking, know-it-all cynics? While I do appreciate your final remark, there, I am wondering if you would take seriously of classifying people according to some calculus or hierarchy for “worthy victimhood” (as in, worthy of armed defense.) Again, just because I asked the question doesn’t mean I believe that you do. But nevertheless, the question is posed.

            And anyway, I am fairly confident that anything we say here in the present venue will not affect the number of bombs designated for Assad either way, which may or may not be a source of regret. So, what IS the point of all of this fancy talk? Could it simply be to make ourselves (me included) feel better? This, I might venture, ought to be a source of concern.. maybe dread. So, I ask you, what’s the point of the vociferous advocacy? (I don’t say that there isn’t one. Just inviting clarification.)

      7. Glenn Condell

        ‘If one places the least emphasis on _human rights as the first principle_, the moral obligation to intervene in a catastrophe such as that in Syria is unquestionable.’

        Palestine is a catastrophe Richard. Should we invade?

        1. Richard Kline


          A better policy, however, would be complete international disinvestment and isolation of Isreal until they withdrew from the Occupied Territories, though, so I would endorse that first. And it would work, too.

      8. Roland

        Put me down in favour of Westphalianism. It’s better than the unipolar world we have right now.

        At the end of the Cold War in 1989, the world finally had a chance to try to make Westphalianism work. There was a chance that, once relieved of a global power struggle between competing blocs, that the world could arrive at a point in which different countries, with different laws, different customs, and different systems, could

        Instead, the political leadership of the USA decided to try to make a bid to establish a single integrated globalist system under its own hegemony. Proclaiming itself victorious in the Cold War, the USA during the 1990’s and 2000’s became more and more strident in its insistence that other countries govern themselves in a manner meeting the USA’s approval.

        The tragedy of our post-Cold War world has been that the international balance of power broke down and left the world’s strongest military power unchecked–unchecked in a way that the old world powers such as Britain, Spain, France, Germany or Russia never enjoyed.

        We’re seeing the results. The USA now involves itself closely, and often violently, in the domestic affairs of almost all of the world’s peoples.

        Only a few countries, i.e. those that retain a 20th century legacy arsenal of atomic weapons, can even retain a modicum of real sovereignty. But even the few 20th-cent. legacy powers lack the ability to impose a check on the USA, when the USA’s ruling class decides on war.

        And the USA’s ruling class goes to war often. They are consistently belligerent and aggressive. Their leaders act with arrogant impunity, fearing no consequence from their attacks on the other countries.

        The traditional friends and trading partners of the USA have been much too slow to recognize that they need to help restrain their erstwhile ally. Like the Delian League, or Rome’s allies, the USA’s allies might be too late to save themselves.

        Westphalianism is not obsolete. The story of world affairs in our time is merely another example of a very old and very familiar phenomenon in history: the breakdown of a power-political balance.

        My prescription: the world needs another ten thermonuclear-armed countries, two or three more “rogue” states, a few hermit kingdoms, and at least another half a dozen de Gaulles. That’s the right medicine!

        1. Richard Kline

          So Roland, you have a developed perspective that’s of interest, and I’m supportive of several of your conclusions—despite which I must disagree with most of your salient contentions.

          We do not live in a unipolar world. That is Anglo-American rhetoric which has no force. Simply because China’s web of dependencies and clients isn’t formalized as a militry alliance doesn’t mean ‘the US gets what it wants’ in that large sector, the functional definition of a unipolar world. There are numbers of states around the world who simply do not toe the American line, without having to rattle sabres or fire off target practice. Israel for one, which does, within extremely broad limits, whatever it pleases. Think about South America’s relationship with the US as well. Europe concurs with American arguments in many cases because that pays and is the course of least resistance, while at the same time maintaining distinct dipliomatic policies and ties, and sharply defined economic prerogatives. In addition to that, US force projection has been utilized repeatedly in the last 25 years to the point where its _limits_ are at least as evident as it’s reach: the US only dares to attack weaklings and isolated pariahs. Think about that; I’m sure policy makers in other countries do.

          I would argue that we are in a multi-polar situation, which is furthermore a fluid one. American imperialists _hate to hear that_, and so poo-poo the idea, but I think this formulation has more traction.

          Roland: “The USA now involves itself closely, and often violently, in the domestic affairs of almost all of the world’s peoples.” You mean as opposed to the 1945-89 period? When we routinely overthrew governments, and sent large military contingents up to and including fighting major wars somewhere every five years of so? By any measure you care to use, the US is _less invasive NOW_ than it was during the dual-block Cold War—boots on the ground, frequency of interventions, scale of interventions, absolute number of interventions, deaths cause directly, deaths caused indirectly, casualties taken. I know, I know, that’s hard to get ones head around, but actually do the countback and you’ll see. The volume of US actions is much reduced.

          What has incresed in the 1989-present period are two things as I do the accounting. One is dollars expended, but that is because the military-industrial complex is locked in a profit-extraction embrace with the entirety of the American political class: this is straightforward looting, is what I’m saying. In the Cold War, there might actually _be_ a war, so some things had to work, but in the absence of the possibility of really losing anything the political class has gone wild to loot the public till. The second difference in this current period is the recklessness of American actions taken. That observation does align with you own remarks, Roland. And that recklessness as opposed to frequency of actions does seem directly derivative of the decline of the opposing bloc. But even so, much of US actions seems to be impelled by residual Cold War objectives (since pursued until very recently by those whose views and alliances were formed pre-1990). For instance, the US move to occupy Iraq was, in my view, less about ‘the oil’ then about snatching one of Russia’s former pieces off the board while Russia was militarily and diplomatically incontinent: it was a war of opportunity driven by bloc thinking as I do the analysis.

          Something missing from your evaluation, Roland, is how very much LESS VIOLENT the world is _as a whole_ since the end of the dual-bloc system. Seriously, take any measure. There have been fewer wars. Those wars have been shorter. The absolute number of casualties is very much down from the 1945-89 period; seriously, no one reckons with just how _lethal_ many of those wars, interventions, and ‘police actions’ actually were. Indonesia’s genocide; the Bandladeshi massacres: either one alone likely exceeded the genocide in Rwanda—which had itself endured a genocide OF THE HUTU a large fraction of the same size inflicted by the Tutsi in the 1960s, something absolutely everybody seems to have erased from their minds in discussing the more recent crime. And so on. Since the end of the dual block system, every major military power has abolished conscription, and greatly reduced the size of its active duty military. Except Israel, which for that reason alone should be seen as a menace to world peace and shunned. Europe as a whole would be incapable of waging an offensive war agaisnt even a medium sized country willing to resist. Russia doesn’t have enough active duty military to invade _Afghanistan_. These are huge absolute differences of posture masked by the comparatively high lethality of very small top shelf military equipages. Which would break down or attrit out in six months in a real war, meaning wars can only be undertaken against weak, small, isolated countries which can’t sustain resistance.

          And this condition of actual _higher violence_ in the dual-block period really follows from that ‘balance of power.’ Forces were so closely balanced that decison-makers felt compelled to intervene forcefully at the margins rather than risk even small erosions in their block posture of that time, even perceived ones as much as real ones. Russia had to crush Hungary, and felt to a degree forced to act in Afghanstan so as not to have their outer ring erode. It’s arguable that the US would not have deployed main force contingents to Vietname absent concerns about the old ‘falling dominos’ which it was feared would erode the American bloc posture. The US intervened repeatedly at scales both small, clandestine, and large in Latin America in the 1945-89 period, in significant part to preserve ‘our bloc,’ leadeing to hundreds of thousands of deaths, principally from US enabled death squad activity. Since that time, the US has made a major effort only in Colombia, and that is arguably a Cold War residual also as something committed to from before 1989: we hardened death squad activity there in the 80s, and when the leftist insurgents proved stronger than the government Clinton put our bullets where our mouth was. But since 2000 most of South America has actively defied the US with only a trivial and thoroughly incompetent response. Because with no need to have ‘our bloc’ adamantine at the margins, the costs simply weren’t worth making any real push. And so on.

          Most of the research on multi-polar arrays suggests that they are more violent than bipolar ones, but those were in instances where most states kept themselves heavily armed in pursuit of territorial expansion. In the present situation, only the US is pursuing increased territorial control—and making a thorough hash of it! We’re breaking our teeth in badly paying backwaters like Afghanistan, while India, China, Burma, Brazil, Turkey, Venezuela, Vietnam go about policies that aligne ever less with ours.

          I do tend to support your contention that the world needs more nuclear powers rather than fewer, Roland. It’s a dangerouos course, but the kind of poison pill which raises the cost threshold of war above the acceptable for most decision makers. But that would a ‘hardening’ of a multi-polar situation. There’s more to say in that regard, but I’m out of vim for this topic tonight.

    3. little boltons

      Hurd is whistling past the graveyard. The US government is so shit-scared of the ICC that they unsigned the treaty. They are so scared of the ICC’s threat to impunity that they submitted 700 amendments to the UN’s reform plans – all to get rid of the I-word. They’re so shit-scared of the ICC that wikileaks cable 10BRUSSELS23 of January 2008 shows the Obama administration begging Belgium to restrict ICC jurisdiction.

      So go ahead, attack, make Putin’s day. The crime of aggression is now defined, and Rome Statute treaty parties are signing on to it in onesies and twosies. The Iraq war triggered a flurry of accessions to the Rome Statute, putting it over the top, and an illegal attack on Syria will give the crime of aggression a similar boost.

      NATO’s window of impunity is closing. By 2017 at the latest, the UNSC will be empowered to debate not just more NATO war, but criminal aggression charges against NATO-bloc commanders, including heads of state.

  3. Pete

    John Kerry… “The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders is a moral obscenity.”

    Bradley Manning… “I’m sorry, can you repeat that for me?”

    “Ayssar Midani, a French Syrian citizen and political activist, joins us from Damascus to talk about the latest developments in Syria. We talk about the history of the terrorist jihadi insurgency in the country and their prior use of chemical weapons, the latest attack and claims of satellite evidence proving that the attack was not launched by government officials, and the likely consequences of a US-led strike on the country.”

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Hypocrisy smack-down! Perfect. Tss-sizzle!

      Remember, support the troops (and disregard the atrocities)!

  4. dearieme

    “Kennedy’s landmark civil rights speech”: really, the attempt to suggest that JFK was some sort of leading light in civil rights issues is a demeaning falsehood. Though most credit must go to non-politicians, some credit can legitimately be given to Ike and, especially, to LBJ. But to the Kennedys? No, sir.

  5. Skeptic

    The Scariest Thing About NSA Analysts Spying On Their Lovers Is How They Were Caught Business Insider (h/t May Sage)

    This story is listed under POLITICS at that site. Well, I guess POLITICS is CRIME!

    So, the SPOOX are just looking at lover info. Really? Major corporations don’t have their Moles in USSTASI trolling for valuable info on competitors, etc. Downloading, for example, all their competitor’s emails for their own in house analysis and massaging?
    And none of those SPOOX are interested in financial gain, maybe monitoring hedge fund emails, etc, for Insider Trading info.

    And how about that cop in the overpowered car with the onboard computer. How much Dirt can he get on his hated brother-in-law, his ex-wife, that rotten teacher who gave him Ds, his Boss, that Judge he doesn’t like, etc. Then there’s the Precinct level and on up……..

    And over at City Hall they have that new Homeland Security link….

    1. JL Furtif

      You should read a few lines further, about the ‘how they were caught’. By self-reporting.
      What scaried the reporter is that there is no audit-trail, so the NSA themselves don’t know who is doing what. So indeed, anyone can look up any data on anybody, without anyone finding out. That is indeed very very scary.

    2. petridish

      Meanwhile, back at the Boston Marathon, somebody’s blowing people’s legs off with an exploding crock pot.

      “Hey, look at these two guys. They look guilty, let’s nail ’em.”

      Done and done.

      Now, back to that bum brother-in-law….

    3. Synopticist

      The article from yesterdays links was the eye-opener for me, about the Fort Hood killer. He’d sent a bunch of E-mails to Awlaki in Yemen, the ten top al qaeda spiritual theorist, and yet somehow he’d failed to set off the alarms.

      Just crazy.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Makes you wonder about NSA’s stated purpose doesn’t it? Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then but Boston and Ft Hood show that the NSA can’t find a terrorist delivered on a platter. Hmmm, what are they looking for?

        1. psychohistorian

          The plutocrats don’t want to eliminate terrorists, just manage their effects on the public to fear and further control ends.

          But the NSA could be incompetent also.

          I want a Snowden type now that uses the NSA apparatus to spy on the plutocrats and show a little sunshine on the folks behind the puppet curtain.

  6. from Mexico

    @ “State Dept Admits it Doesn’t Know Who Ordered Syria’s Chemical Strike”

    In effect, Harf was left arguing that because no one else could have carried out the attack, it must have been the Syrian government. “The world doesn’t need a classified U.S. intelligence assessment to see the photos and the videos of these people and to know that the only possible entity in Syria that could do this to their own people is the regime,” she said.

    That is the sum total of the evidence, and the pseudo-logic, that is being used to justify the war on Syria.

    Notice how John Kerry in this speech dances around the issue that we don’t have any evidence or proof that the Syrian government committed the gas attack:

    Kerry stops short of using the sort of pseudo-logic that Harf does, but he nevertheless uses a method of manipulating content known as “misleading vividness”: describing an occurrence in vivid detail to convince someone there is a problem, while completley omitting the fact that we don’t have any actual evidence or proof connecting the Syrian government to the attacks. What Kerry is doing is lying by omission.

    Joe Biden in this speech goes a step further and uses the same faulty logic that Harf does:

    There is no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime. For we know that the Syrian regime are the only ones who have the weapons, have used chemical weapons multiple times in the past, have the means of delivering those weapons, have been determined to wipe out exactly the places that were attacked by chemical weapons. And instead of allowin UN inspectors immediate access the government has repeatedly shelled the sites of the attack and blocked the investigation for five days.

    So the war on Syria is going to be waged on nothing more than circumstantial evidence, much of even that being highly dubious, and an orgy of speculation.

    It’s all part of the guilty-as-charged mentality — no evidence, no proof, no trial, no jury, no law — which is the hallmark of the neoconservative mentality.

    1. Expat

      …”war on Syria is going to be waged on nothing more than circumstantial evidence…”

      My thoughts exactly. And the fact that, as the Onion has once again got absolutely right (“Obama Weighing His Syria Option”*) no alternative is being considered. When one considers that this war has the support of less than 10 percent of the American people, one realizes that the need to distract attention away from the ever more embarrassing NSA scandal overrides everthing.


      1. Doug Terpstra

        Love it: “The president has conferred with his top advisors and is currently considering everything from authorizing missile strikes against Syrian regime targets, to taking out Syrian regime targets with missile strikes—nothing is off the table at this point,” said White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough

        That’s reasoning worthy of Marie Harf, the circular logic of Kerry’s Ministry of Truth. When presented with such farce, only satire will do.

  7. petridish

    RE: Frackers cheating PA landowners and gov’t

    O. M. G. How could this have HAPPENED????

    Long story short: Corporate frackers use promises of untold riches to entice clueless landowners to sign vague, confusing contracts which are later upheld, without exception, by SUPREME courts. Byzantine arrangements with shell corporations, accounting gimmickry and lease transfers generating massive, “legally” CONFIDENTIAL “expenses” reduce expected “riches” to near zero. Landowners perplexed when anticipated fortunes fail to materialize.


    1. Bill

      The current AG for Virginia, Cuccinelli, who is now running for governor, is being accused in a political ad, of feeding info to just such a company, on how to litigate against VA homeowners who are suing because they were promised money, but have not been paid.

      Meanwhile, the ad claims the same company made a 100k contribution to Cuccinelli’s run for Gov.

      The State Attorney General siding with big companies against the State’s citizens, for payola. Fascism on the State level.

      1. Bill

        BTW, he’s also the right wing nut who wants to eliminate legality of anal and oral sex for EVERYONE…….as a way of stopping the “homosexual agenda.”

  8. real

    From last few days,die-hard liberals on NC have been afraid to accept current liberals as “true liberals”…
    I see ,they spend enough time “defining” liberals and progressives…some posters even post from dictionaries to prove their point…
    But it is irrelevant..every liberal born since 19 th century have same aim-Rule over sheeple through govt regulations,create dissent between different races,make them poor,take away their rights,break families(very important liberal aim),constantly monitor them and keep rich white elite liberals at top rich and powerful…
    roosevelt,clinton,obama etc etc all fall in same category

    Liberal= progressives = current liberals in 21st century

    How do you define this?
    Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal NYT. The liberal media.

    1. Massinissa

      I mostly agree with you, but I think Liberalism was sort of valid before the 70s. Or at least slightly better, its not something I would embrace going back to at this point.

      But yeah, the whole No True Scotsman argument is getting terribly old. The truth is that modern liberalism is a morally bankrupt bourgeois ideology.

      Though I must say, although I read NC comments every day, I dont believe I remember seeing much of anyone trying to defend liberalism… Do you remember the posters in question?

      1. real

        i don’t recollect name but many liberals on this blog were trying to portray “modern liberals” as “neo liberals” or worse as “neocons”..
        thanks a lot for reading my comment

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s probably more productive to take good and useful ideas from whatever political philosophy and wisdom tradition you can find.

          Yes, you might risk getting stoned or having an auto da fe on this site, but that’s an option for any self-thinking human…examine life.

          1. fresno dan

            Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal NYT. The liberal media.

            I have always thought that “conservative” “liberal” “republican” and “democrat” as classification schemes obfuscate thinking rather than clarify it. But it shouldn’t be that you have to be “liberal” to be against Syrian intervention. But making “liberal” into a pejorative seems to be part of a plan to limit thinking.


            “Separately, 114 House lawmakers—some 97 Republicans and 17 Democrats—have signed a letter calling on Mr. Obama to seek congressional authorization before embarking on military action in Syria.”

            Well, 17 is a start, but team blue while not as lockstep as team red, is pretty united.

            “He (Boehner) called on Mr. Obama to “personally make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America’s credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be part of our broader policy and strategy.”

            Well, that would be nice, but I get the impression that the republicans only want that so that they can get some war mongering credit too….(I mean if they concluded that intervention is not such a good idea for Syria…uh, why was it a good idea in Iraq???????????? fake data….lack of compelling national interest……no plan once you actually catch the car……)

          2. charles sereno

            Personally, I’d choose stoning over the rack or the “tortura del agua,” because it would be random and intermittent. Those Inquisitors knew what they were doing.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Speaking of water, aqua de chaya is very good for you, though, in its raw form, chaya is poisonous.

              As the Mayans might say, it could be used for torture…in the right hand.

                1. charles sereno

                  As Hamlet might say —

                  “The right or the left hand, that’s the question.
                  Whether ’tis nobler to die of poison
                  Or take up arms, get high, yet sleep and die?

                  A tough choice.

                  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    That’s tough one.

                    But the choice is clear if we are asked,

                    1) Everyone should be able to afford a hamlet or at least a small part of one
                    2) Only the barons can own hamlets.

    2. diptherio

      …every liberal born since 19 th century have same aim-Rule over sheeple through govt regulations,create dissent between different races,make them poor,take away their rights,break families(very important liberal aim),…

      My, my, quite the blanket statement you’ve got there. The thing is, one could just as easily make the exact same claim about “every conservative born since the 19th Century”…and it would be equally wrong.

      You claim to know the agenda of everyone who identifies as liberal, and then you name a few politicians. That’s funny, since I live in a family of self-described liberals and none of them have any use whatsoever for the politicians you mention. And none of them has ever expressed a desire to “rule the sheeple.”

      You may think you’re making some kind of point, but in fact you’re simply playing into the divide and conquer game of the PTB. You call yourself “real”, but your comment belies the fantasy world you live in, where every “liberal” is exactly the same and is endowed with a rather satanic agenda.

      Our current political reality is not about “liberal” or “conservative” or any other label, it’s about the people who seek to do the things you describe and those of us who oppose them. The opposition contains people who call themselves liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists, progressives etc. That’s real.

    3. petridish

      Please, please, PLEASE stop using the word liberal–for anything. It’s an anachronism. It’s been used so many times in so many disparate descriptions that it has been rendered essentially meaningless.

      You will need to specify the person and/or position to which you refer as in “Obamabot,” or “supporter of starting WWIII by ‘punishing’ Assad with the perfect not-too-hot, not-to-cold morally necessary surgical strike.”

      For a lesson on being specific:

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The same for goldbugs.

          You tell people to be masters over gold and not the other way, and you tell people gold belongs to the people, not at Fort Knox or the 0.01%, and leave labels aside.

          Put it under your mattress, in the backyard – whatever you do, keep it. Do not be brainwashed into giving it away freely to the 0.01%.

    4. Paul Tioxon

      Samantha Power Goes to War

      With the Arab world’s pro-democracy uprisings comes a resurgence for the “humanitarian hawks.” by Tom Hayden

      “…….. During the past year, Power was tasked by Obama to take part in a closed set of cross-agency meetings to study the dynamics of revolt, repression and possible American responses to emerging crises in the failing autocracies of the Middle East. Now she was becoming cited as a frequent source for national security reporters, mostly off the record. As the military intervention in Libya began, she was featured in the New York Times as one of women officials lobbying for military action, along with Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. McClatchy’s Washington bureau headlined Power as “the voice behind Obama’s Libya action.”

      …….”The new Obama doctrine, which could have been scripted from Power’s writings, begins with his refusal “to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action,” and while acknowledging that “It’s true that America cannot use its military wherever repression occurs, that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.” After expanding the definition of national interest to include preventing a slaughter in Benghazi, however, Obama adheres to the other themes of his emerging doctrine: the politics of multilateralism (the US coalition would “splinter” if the mission was expanded) and the recognition of limits (primarily the costs of another quagmire like Iraq). Human rights thus becomes a triggering criteria in the application of military force, but not an exclusive one. Obama says he won’t bomb or invade Tripoli to take out Qaddafi militarily, disappointing the hawkish audience while relieving his liberal base.

      If the US gets lucky this time, Power will be vindicated. It’s possible that US airpower can protect opposition ground forces on the road to Tripoli until Qaddafi’s regime collapses from within. Even then, the United States will have to take part in an unpredictable occupation of Libya until a new set of governing institutions are created, a process that might take months or years. The cost will climb into the billions in deficit spending while the budget crisis worsens at home. Any triumphant new US allies, like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, will prove to be unsavory. That’s the best-case scenario for the administration.”

      “….The realities are quite the opposite. In a democracy, war requires the consent of the governed, expressed at the very least with the consent of the Congress and subject to the authorization of the federal judiciary. As Garry Wills points out in Bomb Power, the public and Congress have shriveled before the power of the unitary executive state. It is telling that Obama spent far more time seeking the approval of the United Nations and the Arab League than the US Congress, and has no plans to seek an authorizing vote unless Congress itself insists—an unlikely prospect for now.

      The national security establishment is disconnected from the everyday concerns of the American people. As Andrew Bacevich writes in The Long War, “to the extent that members of the national security apparatus have taken public opinion into consideration, they have viewed it as something to manipulate.” And as David Rothkopf writes in his aptly titled history of the National Security Council, Running the World, all thirteen Democratic and Republican national security advisers since the 1970s—from Brent Scowcroft to Stephen Hadley—are a “natural aristocracy” who either worked for Henry Kissinger or one of Kissinger’s top associates.

      The foreign policy caste worries about the intrusion of democracy on their domain (Harvard’s late Samuel Huntington used to complain about “an excess of democracy” after the sixties, when curbs on foreign policy were briefly legislated). In their privileged world, they assume an unlimited budget for their unlimited foreign policy portfolio. According to Woodward’s account, Obama himself had to fight his own bureaucracy to uncover the true costs of Afghanistan, and the price was a shock to the president. Obama is ill-advised on foreign policy if his national security elite, including idealists like Power, assume that Americans will have to accept a declining standard of living to put a stop to dictators abroad. Human rights abroad cannot come at the price of democracy at home, but that is the course of liberal empire.”


      In 48 hours, the Obama team went from controlled anger over a reported chemical-weapons attack to prepping for air strikes against Assad. Eleanor Clift and Josh Rogin go inside the shift—and assess the risks.


      The Kinder Heart Of Darkness is the advice from the new foreign policy brain trust of UN Ambassador Samantha Powers, The Chair of the Atrocities Prevention Board, NS Adviser, Susan Rice and Viet Nam ERa Veteran Peace protester, John Kerry, Secretary of State. You would hope that these 3 would be able to restrain the use of the military to achieve some political outcome in Syria. The have more than a clue about the diminishing returns of the use of force. They know that not only are the outcomes unmanageable but also result in legendary unintended consequences, that at this point in history, with our experience of dealing with military force in the Middle East as the primary instrument of power projection, that we most likely failed in the immediate goal, the mid range goals and the long term results will produce a problem even greater than the original one we set out in the beginning to address. It looks like when very bad men do very bad things, we can expect the humanitarian hawks to take out the sword and the shield of humanitarian rights and proceed to get blood all over the hands America, just so the innocents we are trying to save will feel good that everyone, everywhere is joining in on the blood lust, and they will not feel weird or singled out. Every one wants to drop a bomb on Syria. The Russians, the Saudi’s, the Jihadists, the French, the English, why look, even the Americans want to bomb with their naval destroyers! See, its okay, everyone’s bombing us! Good Night Moon! Good Night Samantha, and Susan and John.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          I thought I could separate fact from sarcasm with my good night moon comments at the very end. It is for real, hence the reason it was mentioned.

          President Obama also recognizes that in order to counter atrocities more effectively, the U.S. government must prioritize this effort, strengthen and expand the tools available to us, and establish a level of organization that matches our commitment. In 2010, he created the first-ever White House position dedicated to preventing and addressing war crimes and atrocities. And in August 2011, he issued Presidential Study Directive 10 (PSD-10), declaring the prevention of mass atrocities and genocide to be a “core national security interest and core moral responsibility” of the United States, ordering the creation of a whole-of-government Atrocities Prevention Board (APB), and directing the National Security Advisor to lead a comprehensive review to assess the U.S. government’s anti-atrocity capabilities, and recommend reforms that would fill identified gaps in these capabilities.

    5. proximity1

      Life is messy and people are rarely pure examples of lofty ideals–and even less when it comes to matching their practices with principles.

      No matter what principle you may like to uphold and champion, we’ll find that people in general make very poor and inconsistent exemplars of it.

      There is a great deal that is worthy about “liberal” principles–one example being that you can comment here with criticisms and not be snatched out of your bed in the middle of the night for having done so (here).

      Just because “liberal” is significantly diluted when put into practice by the crooked timber of humanity doesn’t detract from the inherently worthy things it denotes.

      Your focus on elected office-holders also leaves any worthy ideal term in bad company. Welcome to shitty times. Denigrating the virtues of what “liberal” has and should mean is a good way to help ensure that they remain shitty and even worsen. Nowhere is “liberalism” is charge today.

      Now, if violence and brute force for their own sake are what you you cherish above all as theory and practice, I guess these times were just made for you. There is no shortage of fine exemplars of that.


      RE: “representative republic type democracy have been tried”


      In fact, no. Only various sham versions have been put up but no real-world experiment in this beyond very limited areas has “been tried.”

      You’re either a very poor student of history or a very dishonest one–or perhaps both.

  9. real

    Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal NYT. The liberal media.
    in 2013,NYT = FOX in 2004

    war declared humanitarian Nobel prize winner community organizer president must be supported by every “liberal”

    1. Massinissa

      Agreed. The entire liberal establishment is so thoroughly rotten, that it is utterly irrelevant if there is still a good liberal or two around. As a whole, the ideology has become as subservient to the imperialistic oligarchy of America as the modern conservatism. Perhaps worse, because at least modern conservatism is more honest about its imperialist and neoliberal intentions.

      1. real

        the problem massinissa
        where do we go from here?
        monarchy have been tried
        representative republic type democracy have been tried
        communism have been tried
        religious monarchy have been tried both in Europe n in ME
        so what is the option?
        people need to be governed,criminals need to be punished,country needs to be defended from foreign aggressors ..what type of system will emerge in future or current system going to last another 100 years?

        1. from Mexico

          A more direct form of democracy?

          In the current situaiton, it seems like that might offer some advantages. If a more direct form of democracy were in place, for instance, we certainly wouldn’t be going to war with Syria.

          1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

            my idea is that the “enlightened” masses try to wake-up their Masters here (North America) through yelps and denigrative speech (the power of the pen/pencil/keyboard). But i suggest humbleness and hulility as a “paragon” virtue, else i’d be in theory capable of Deluding others (vewy bad). Like in Syria, with fundamentalist Sunnis at loggerheads with alawites& shi’ites : maybe just let those over there sort out their local disputes? Who am i to pretend to know what’s best for divided Syrian sects and factions?

            1. Glenn Condell

              Yelps and insults they can ignore, that is if they hear them at all over the clinking glasses.

              What is required is a government-provided app for real-time democracy, interactively ranking issues and the preferences of citizens relating to them, down to their most commonly agreed distillations. Yesterday Manning, Syria today… the most popular query for the former might end up being something like ‘should Bradley Manning be pardoned/freed’? The latter’s might read ‘should the US bomb Syria’?

              There would be no executive power associated with this instrument, but large majority preferences that diametrically oppose positions taken by captured political representatives would sharpen those distinctions in the public mind, and militate for greater accountability.

              1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

                Some very good points, especially about the “sleeping Giants”. Since you brought-up the Manning-topic, i think looking at systems of law would be good. My take on it is that, from browsing a book on English common law, and how the English King after the Norman Conquest was most occupied with warfare and keeping barons in check and all that jazz, the administration of justice was left to Noblemen in black robes, Lord This or That, who sought to bring-up a fair system which was perfected over time to prevent inequities and ensure stability. On the Grand Tour, you see the chapter wherein the Barons revolted, hence the Magna Carta, etc. etc. etc. In France, they have already invented “juge d’instruction” : . These solitary fellows and dudesses have powers of inquest, limited by “the justifiable right to enquire”, which has to make sense, or else it won’t stand-up. Some, such as Eva Joly, have doggedly pursued the inquest(s) while cnfronted with intimidation tactics. “Eva Joly instruisit l’affaire Elf avec Laurence Vichnievsky”. L’affaire Elf is not about elves. Rather, it’s a poilitico-economic-foreign-affairs scandal based in France. Please see : for more details on this amazing “old” news story …

          2. Montanamaven

            I’m with you. Direct democracy is needed. Representative government doesn’t work. Read dimitry Orlov ‘s ” five stages of collapse” .

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe size is the problem.

          Perhaps if the world is made up of millions of small groups of people, with no one group dominant over others.

          In such small groups, little people are more likely to be treated humanely.

          1. proximity1

            Beruit in the 1970s had lots of small groups, all with varying ideas about truth and justice, and all with armed militias.

            So, in this case, maybe Small is Not Necessarily Beautiful.

            Identities can be deadly dangerous in their constituents and they can be held to with deadly ferocity even by small groups–as in tribes.

            The present, with common notions of nationalism and identities contains a lot of bloody-minded tribalist thinking and not very much tolerant universalist thinking. In fact, in so many respects, our times are spectacularly stupid and destructive given the examples that we have to learn from but from which we learn nothing.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              You’re right, small is not necessarily beautiful in that case.

              Though, I would add it was because behind those small groups, there were at least a couple of large groups influencing events.

              Maybe small groups and ridding nationalism would do it.

              1. Synopticist

                How can anyone get rid of nationalism?
                Orwell said that nationalsim will always trump class solidarity, and even more so will they both overawe internationalism, and I’m convinced he was right.

                In many countries in the world, including pre-war Syria, nationalism is the only thing that prevents ethnic and regional differences from spilling into supremacism and potential conflict. (hello USA).

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  That’s difficult question.

                  Maybe we empower every individual, then together, we come up with a non-self-destructive way to get rid of nationalism.

                  1. F. Beard

                    Funny you should mention that. You’re only about 2000 years too late:

                    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28 NASB

                    But hey, I guess being grateful to one’s Creator/Savior is just asking too much, eh?

                    1. Massinissa

                      No offense Beard, but there are untold thousands of interpretations of the bible. Its not as if everyone being christian would eliminate conflict.

                      It sure never did before! Even when all of Europe was catholic they still went to war with eachother with some regularity. For instance, the hundred years war (which was actually more like 116 years, but I digress…) was when both England and France were catholic.

                    2. F. Beard

                      was when both England and France were catholic. Massinissa

                      No offense back, but Catholic is not necessarily Christian. I was raised Roman Catholic and I know. The Baltimore Catechism was our spiritual guide, not the Bible … because “the Bible was too confusing.” Well, confusion is far superior to false moral certainty, I’d bet.

                    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                      With respect to those untold thousands of interpretations, if anyone reading it can interpret it differently, then, when you quote it with your interpretation, or when you quote one section and not another passage, it’s your opinion, in the guise of the divine, repackaged as absolute.

                2. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

                  One thing that may well contribute to nationalism is a shared majority language. That’s because effective rhetoric and propaganda should be written in the native tongue of the reader/listener. If i can’t understand Chinese, if i can’t read Chinese, then i’m quite protected from Chinese language messaging, until I’m tempted to learn Chinese … The worst form of nationalism, perhaps, is megalomaniac, best breed on earth, Super-Duper-Patriotism . As such, the way of the reflective, patient dog is to read anything, by anyone, and sniff-out the facts, cast away the false-prophets, and also get some sleep.

  10. Jim A

    On Syria. Obama should call congress’ bluff. Call an emergency joint session and present his rationale for action and his proposal. Now some of those complaining that he isn’t consulting would turn on a dime and complain that he wasn’t showing leadership, but at least the responsibility for whatever the US does or doesn’t do would be shared. Make no mistake this is ALL about the domestic politics, because IMHO there is NO overlap between an intervention decisive enough to make a real difference, and one that is cheap enough in blood and dollars to get the support from the American people. Because when people look at the cost/benefit ratio for Afghanistan and Iraq, most don’t want to get into another military conflict.

    1. from Mexico

      Jim A says:

      Make no mistake this is ALL about the domestic politics, because IMHO there is NO overlap between an intervention decisive enough to make a real difference, and one that is cheap enough in blood and dollars to get the support from the American people.

      It looks like the neocon game plan is to begin small and then escalate military operations, kind of like we did in Vietnam.

      The neocon guru Jeffrey White makes that pretty clear in this interview:

      JEFFREY WHITE: Washington Institute for Near East Policy: I think we’re going to see a small-scale commitment of military resources to support the rebels, nothing large, nothing too lethal…

      My sense is that is a — you know, a slow movement towards a potentially greater commitment…

      1. Synopticist

        I do honestly get the impression that Obama really isn’t that personally keen on intervening in Syria. Most of the rest of the adm9inistration is, the neocons are, the Likudists obviously are super keen. Fu*kin David Cameron has been trying to re-live the Thatcher/Blair special relationship glory days by pushing him into a war he’s wavering over, ala Gulf 1 and Kosovo.

        The military top brass obviously don’t want anything to do with it, but the CIA are fully committed.

        That’s based on my reading of Obama as a over-promoted chump who’s put of his depth, who doesn’t really know what he’s doing and is a poor negotiator who gets pushed around. If you favour the rightwing manchurian candidate theory, or the eleventy dimensional chess progressive guy, (yeah right) then you may disagree.

  11. Ned Ludd

    The corrupt bargain between the industry and “progressive” housing groups really rankles here.

    Progressives willing to make corrupt bargains are going to prosper. Natural selection favors the corrupt.

    1. MLS

      Sadly, I fear that you are correct that natural selection favors the corrupt. However, the cockeyed optimist in me hopes that it only does so to a point and sooner or later comeuppance is delivered.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I have always wondered, had the manorial lords picked only good looking female serfs, would the world be prettier today?

        1. Massinissa

          If that happened, we would probably redefine beauty upward, so that once again, only a small number would be considered beautiful.

          Even if they dont admit it, for most people, beauty (in humans at least) is relative rather than absolute.

        2. Sinnick

          Rather than ‘prettier’ as you presently define it, the world would likely be fatter for the medieval definition of ‘pretty’ tended towards the ‘well-rounded.’ Hence the Lords and Barons would have ignored the scrawny females who are the super-models of today, and bred from the dumplings.

      2. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        yeah, empirically vengeance begets vengeance until the Kings and Princes Themselves are sick of war (for a while) … A case in point is The Hundred Years War (name is very apt); BBC three-part expose starts with episode 1 on youtube here: “Chivalry And Betrayal: The Hundred Years War, Episode 1”,–UeWJ0A

    1. Synopticist

      Le Monde have been delivering the same incessant MSM pro-war propoganda that we’ve seen everywhere else. They’ve been doing in France what the BBC and the Guardian have doing in the UK, and the NYT and CNN in the States.

  12. craazyman

    David, dude, you’re putting up a lot of good stuff here. Holy Sh*t! It’s almost like working out in the gym.

    YOur making Yves look lazy. I’d watch your butt if you know what I mean. Sometimes it’s best just to be a “little less” capable than the Big Boss, even when you can kick anybody’s ass with one foot. (Not that you can kick Yves, but you know what I mean, it’s a generality). :)

    It’s hard for me, anyway, to make sense of any of this stuff ’cause I go MEGO in about 10 seconds. But I actually can read all the way to the end of your posts! That’s unusual for me.

    1. craazyboy

      Yeah craazyman. Came across this fantastic post for people with attention deficit syndrome. williambanzai7 compilation of the news – in photoshopped pictures. “I’m a Drone Man”, a reposting of the classic “I Have A Drone” and many, many more photoshopped gems suitable for framing.

      This is a zh link, so not sure if it will post ok, or if zh links are still blocked here. (Jesus be with you)

      1. craazyman

        I still can’t believe Professor K stepped down into the peanut gallery and actually talked to us. It’s like Beavis and Butthead watching a movie on the flat screen TV and the hot actress stepping right out of the picture to sit down on the couch for a few bong hits with the guys. Faaaak, that was incredible!

        I have done a considerable amount of research on monetary theory and MMT and think I understand it better than anybody in the world. I’m ready to asssume a Profeser position as a NFL, GED in Doctor Emeritus in Contemporary Analysis and complete the field of economic/monetary thought into an extended and self=complete eschatology. I wonder if U Missouri there in Kansas would fund a Chair position — for something like $500,000/year. I’d move there and lay around watching Youtube just like here, but the money would be better. As long as tehy have busses, the research will continue. But no reading of anybody’s books. That’s way too much work for me.

        1. craazyboy

          Yeah craazy. I still gotta boner that even Miss Mobius and her twin sister Esha Print can’t make go away!

          “think I understand it better than anybody in the world”

          I don’t know about that craazy. I figure it must be me after seeing their crap stuck in my face ever since 2006 on every econ site on the innertubes. Each one has a different version too, so if I could bother to remember it all, I’d know as much as all of ’em put together!

          Go fer the half million bucks – student loans will cover it!

          I’ve heard from reliable sources that if you live in KC, MO. they have kids wearing white shirts and ties driving around on bicycles. They stop at your house and if you answer the doorbell, they say something like “Loans precede deposits” or “Taxes destroy money” or “Your Sovereign Loves You” and then they try and hand you a free copy of Randall Wray’s Book of MMT. So you can get reading material in KC for free at least.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You two will regret ridiculing MMTers.

            I am doing penance now for writing ‘Beware of MMTers bearing gifts of virtuous politicians.’

            1. craazyman

              Not ridiculing. I’m a little more gentle than CB on this stuff & think there’s many kernels of insights there. I don’t think it’s wrong. Just incomplete. but I’ve commented on that here in the gallery at some length, referencing my hero the shoesalesman and Nobel Prize winning writer, Al Camus, and once every few years is enough. :)

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I shudder at the implied claim that a government is a military/security sovereign and can do whatever it wants, instead of being just a, fore example, monetary sovereign that is subject to civilian oversight.

                Wait, you mean you have to get people to vote on it before it can print money?

                1. craazyman

                  they may print first then buy the votes, like the way banks get reserves! That’s what Plucrates said in his dialogue with Plebion, but Plebion just didn’t get it. hahaha The $5 wine is good tonight, mlpb, red red into the veins and into the head and then the heavens open like a flower. You can feel the season change, and Orion as about to rise that always gets me.

  13. ohmyheck

    “Syria: Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?”

    “UN Official, Syrian Rebels Used Sarin Nerve Gas, Not Assad’s Army”

    “US sabotaging UN investigation in Syria”

    “Architects and key backers of 2003 invasion of Iraq have some advice for the president as he presses for US attack on new Middle East country”

    Enough of the war-mongering at nakedcapitalism. This is the Obama Administration’s continuation of the Bush Neocon’s Wet Dream for the Middle East.

    Wake. The. F#uck. Up.

    1. negativity won't pull you through...

      Surprisingly little mention of Israel’s possible role in the Syrian scenario… If Syria is attacked and some form of violent retaliation occurs against America’s ally Israel by Syria or its friends Hezbollah and/or Iran, would not this give Israel the green light to do whatever in retaliation? For example, nuking Iran’s atomic infrastructure (among other possibilities)? Seems to me that no matter how Israel goes about ending the perceived Iranian and Hezbollah threat that it will be messy. From the perspective of a Sunni vs. Shiite conflict, would the majority of the Arab world be displeased to see Iran go down, even at the hands of Israel? Not to mention oil and petrodollars…

    2. Synopticist

      “Enough of the war-mongering at nakedcapitalism”

      You must be reading a different site to the rest of us.

  14. JEHR

    Why are the British people surprised that Mark Carney is supporting policies that suit the banks and not policies that would reduce unemployment? Remember, everyone, that he is a Goldman Sachs guy and that stands for everything!

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Nuisance: US bank legal bills > $100 billions or $100 trillion.

    Simple and elegant solution: create 100 year zero-interest loans to each other in sufficient amounts (meaning they have to cover executive bonuses as well) and hold to maturity, renewable, without limit, upon maturity. Have them adjust accounting rules to eliminate any accounting impact.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It turns out that the Children’s Crusade was not quite accurate.

      It was more like, according to Wiki, a crusade of multiple bands of ‘wondering poor,’ basically, your army of 99.99%.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Paid parental leave.

    It’s the only moral thing to do.

    On the other hand, those who choose not to overpopulate the world should not be discriminated without a counterpart to paid parental leave.

    Already, they are being ignored in that headline.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    ‘Our dream has turned into a nightmare.’

    That sounds more inclusive than ‘My dream has turned into a nightmare.’

  18. Publius

    After Westphalia fails what replaces the national state? There seem two choices: either a transnational ideological system enforced by a transnational order or smaller states faced with rival power centers. I find it difficult to envision an international order based on human rights and international law without broad agreement about sanctions for violations of the law that are more enforceable than present international law. And as for smaller states-this returns us to the world of the In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Italian city-states of Venice, Florence, and Genoa were very rich from their trade with the Levant, yet possessed woefully small national armies. In the event that foreign powers and envious neighbours attacked, the ruling nobles hired foreign mercenaries to fight for them. The military-service terms and conditions were stipulated in a condotta (contract) between the city-state and the soldiers (officer and enlisted man), thus, the contracted leader, the mercenary captain commanding, was titled the Condottiere.

    1. Roland

      “Transnational order” is code for a world with a single sovereign to act as Enforcer of Last Resort. “One Ring to rule them all…”

      The USA becoming the Last Resort Enforcer of the world’s Human Rights is a bit like Tolkien’s Galadriel, if she had agreed to accept the Ring.

      Except Galadriel had enough wisdom–and enough modesty–to refuse! The USA’s leaders are more like Saruman.

  19. Foppe

    With regard to the ’30 days for repeatedly raping a 14-yo who later committed suicide on the basis of the argument that the girl was older than her age‘, I would recommend this article for tomorrow’s links section, written by a fellow victim:

    … I was 25 before I realized that every man I’d slept with as a teenager was a pedophile. It seemed to me that since I’d courted the attention, that I was fully culpable. What teenager believes she is not mentally or emotionally capable of full consent? I thought I was an adult, although when I look at the picture of myself from the time period above, I see a child.

    I thought I was the exception for these men, the girl so precocious and advanced that it superseded social norms. I thought that I was “older than my chronological age.”

    The story she tells should convince all but the worst enablers of statutory rape (as, apparently, judges still think it acceptable to ignore the whole purpose for which the statutory portion in the definition was put there in the first place) that this judgment is unacceptable. I proves the point made a few days ago in this story that

    some nations have a judicial system that allows men to act on their worst impulses, and to do so with impunity. We are such a country.

    1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

      Hi Foppe, i thought that in the USA, there are oldie pop tunes (a) “Material girl” and (b) with a line “Money changes everythin” [Cyndi Lauper]. With lines/titles like that, it’s suggestive of “get yourself a rich boyfriend/husband” to the female heterosexual audience. So, sugar-daddies, men with Porshes is perhaps part of the back-story when women try to catch the biggest male fish in the pond … i haven’t been privy to girl’s “talk about-guys” talk, though…

  20. diane

    Is it any wonder that “we” (in the U$) are now going to bomb the fuck out of Syrians when, historically, those who didn’t choose ‘profit’ and Leader$hip for their main ambition in life; and those who historically bore the cannon fodder for nine months … and those of dusky hue … and foreign tongue ……. have been treated so contemptuously?

    (Oh, never mind, I’m sure Na$a, $ly Con Valley, $ilicon Alley … al, has an Algorithmic App , a Te$la, for it all……After all, …there are other galaxie$ to denigrate and de$troy, ….after all …..)

  21. zephyrum

    Having long pursued the goal of more women, more engaged in engineering, I read with interest the Shanely interview in the “Why Your Startup Culture is Secretly Awful” piece. It’s worth reading because it provides an interesting window in the strangely disfunctional world of today’s technical endeavors as devised by Gen-Y.

    So much focus on style and so little on engineering.

    Exploring the referenced “Five Tools for Analyzing Dysfunction in Engineering Culture” I found this gem:
    This cultural study of fairy tales has produced a vast body of analysis and critique. Through tools like the the Aarne-Thompson classification system, Vladimir Propp’s morphology, and feminist, psychoanalytical and Marxist frameworks, we can reveal their hidden world.

    Indeed. And now I return to engineering…

    1. Tim Mason

      Aarne-Thompson and Propp can both be considered engineering manuals. The former is overly cumbersome, but the latter is a neat little handbook that will allow you to assemble a fairy story in no time. Both, along with Joseph Campbell’s work, can usefully be used to reverse engineer MSM news items – and, as Shanely suggests, the stories that people tell about themselves and the institutions they construct.

  22. Hugh

    Re an attack on Syria, there is a New Moon on September 6. So the night of the 5th (Monday, Labor Day observed) going into the 6th (Tuesday) will be especially dark. Operationally, this night would be the optimum for an attack, with one or two nights on either side of it being good but less than optimum.

    The Martin Luther King commemoration was a travesty. The orginal was a culminating moment in the Civil Rights movement, millions of dedicated people, cadres of good leaders, not just King, and clear goals. The commemoration had none of that. It was an empty exercise of a debased public religion devoid of substance, bereft of any moral impulse, filled with over rich celebrities doing their star turn and mouthing a few platitudes, signifying nothing.

    “Working poor have dimming faith in economic mobility” has got to be one of the stupidest, most deceptive headlines of the year. The chances for upward mobility for the whole bottom 80% of the population are essentially zero. Indeed what we are seeing is a middle class flood of downward mobility into the working poor. This whole process of social/economic stratification has been going on for 35-50 years. Are we really expected to applaud some limited, partial, belated media recognition of this?

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Please know that your tactical advice on assault timing is very important to Obama; however, he really can’t wait. After essentially expelling the UN inspectors* and cancelling prescheduled peace talks, delaying the offensive for a whole week or more would cast doubt on its dire urgency. And as we know, although it makes no sense whatsoever, Assad might launch another attack any day now, making this a humanitarian onslaught.

      Anyway, Russia’s got subs en route and today called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting, and there might be awkward questions about facts in evidence.* More importantly, Bibi’s already issued his marching orders.
      *Inspectors had to be preempted lest they find evidence to incriminate the CIA, including witness testimony, medical samples, drone missile casings and chemical residue. signatures. (Contrary to the Ministry of Truth (aka State Department) chemical residues can last for years.)

      1. Hugh

        I was just trying to give a heads up about what looks to be a fait accompli. The comparisons to Cheney are not overdrawn. This is no longer about red lines or evidence but acts of will. In the imperial mindset, the possibility of the use of force becomes the necessity to use force.

        I am sympathetic to Richard Kline’s humanitarian intervention argument, but I think he is mistaken. Kleptocracies do not do humanitarian interventions. Where have the humanitarian interventions been here at home for the 99%, for the unemployed, the disemployed, homeowners foreclosed upon or facing foreclosure, the indebted, the un- or poorly insured? Trillions for a piratic and parasitical banking sector and the unproductive rich. Nothing for the rest of us, other than scams like Obamacare or attempts to cut Social Security. Nor have two million dead in the eastern Congo sparked any sense of humanitarian crisis.

        No, this is all a riff on the Great Game, weakening an ally of Iran. Assad’s forces were making headway due to the disarray in and increasing radicalization among the opposition forces. This gas attack simply provides a conveninet pretext to cripple those advances.

        The timing is particularly unfortunate because a President has been elected in Iran with whom we could probably deal and reduce tensions on a variety of issues. Lets just say that cowboy diplomacy at this juncture will be spectacularly adverse to any regional or strategic interests we may have.

        Also as a heads up, it is important to understand that knowing an attack is coming, Syria is still limited in what it can do to minimize damage from it. It can disperse aircraft, helicopters, tanks, and artillery pieces. As the attack will happen almost certainly at night, many of its buildings will have few people in them. However, much of what could be attacked and do damage to the regime can not be easily moved. Radars and command and control are usually the first to be taken out.

        More important than hitting planes, helicopters, or even airstrips, is hitting the hangars and maintenance depots that are needed to keep the Syrian air force flying as well as fuel depots. The same goes for tanks and mobile artillery. They also need big support structures which can not be moved. Nor can communications towers or switching centers, bridges, ports, or the country’s electrical grid.

        What gets hit depends on how big Obama wants to go with this. The importance of the New Moon in this is that it means a longer period of darkness so a longer timeframe in which to strike, assess the strikes, and strike again before the cover of darkness lifts.

        1. charles sereno

          It’s possible that the “attack” will not occur, presumably because the “lesser evil” of the forces has prevailed. That seems to be happening. The downside is that the dogs of war will be thrown a bone to keep them leashed. And that will be bad news for some innocents.

          1. psychohistorian

            I can hear the dogs of war from here. Genies don’t go back in bottles very easily.

            They have almost another full week before darkness to conjure up more fear and false flag atrocities…..and they the workforce to do it.

            1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

              bro. Psycho, i sense you may have developped X-rated vision… Pardon me please any offense ….

  23. charles sereno

    What’s all this talk between Prince Bandar bin Bush and Tsar Putin all about? Syria? The Olympics? LGBT? Chechens? Grist for the Punditocracy? Nope. Pundits haven’t yet been briefed but stay tuned.

  24. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Mosques as terror organizations.

    What do they do with people reading the Koran on the Tube?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That was not a problem in Mani in 1562.

      You wouldn’t find anyone reading any dangerous books, for example, Chilam Balam.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Speaking of glaring “moral obscenities” (Sen/Sec Kerry), a fraction of a percent of that would eliminate hunger in elementary schools. No wonder we need a support-the-troops diversion just now. See? It’s Snowden’s fault.

    2. psychohistorian

      I can hear the argument now….But boss, we are CIA. Doesn’t the word Central have any meaning anymore? Of course we need the biggest budget.

      As I said elsewhere, what we need now is a Snowden type that can use the tools to shine some light on the plutocrats pulling the strings behind the curtain… might even bring that curtain down….

    3. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

      i wonder where the spooks go to read all of that. i seem to remember reading/having audio about vaults at the Pentagon for very very compartmentalized Top Secret papers.

    1. anon y'mouse

      this confirms a lot of what I have witnessed and suspected over the years.

      “Subjects were divided into a “poor” group and a “rich” group based on their income. The study showed that when the scenarios were easy — the financial problems not too severe — the poor and rich performed equally well on the cognitive tests. But when they thought about the hard scenarios, people at the lower end of the income scale performed significantly worse on both cognitive tests, while the rich participants were unfazed.”

      sounds a bit like stereotype threat. the poorer person knows that they have less resources and that the consequences of failure are more severe, causing them more distress over such decisions. similar to minorities performance on tasks in which their group has a commonly known reputation for performing badly (even if the stereotype is false). self-fulfilling prophecy. you psych yourself out of the game before you’ve even begun it.

      this is why I am only attending college in my 30s, btw.

  25. charles sereno

    A while back, we had cats dressed up in VIP regalia (Russian?). My challenge to Antidote submittees — why not do a takeoff with Poodle faces. Without doubt, they’re variable and expressive, and certainly more up-to-date with current events. There’s a choice of Standard, Miniature, and Toy. I’m picturing on the dogwalk… a Cameron, a Hollande, a Rajoy…

    1. Emma

      We don’t need the antidote du jour going to the dogs….particularly those that foul up all the time….

  26. allcoppedout

    The read quality is certainly up here of late. Thanks David. There is an amazing debate going on in the UK Parliament on Syria. Only a few of our MPs are making pathetic party-political points and most are saying they are unconvinced by the intelligence they have been given. I can normally take only a few minutes of Parliament, but have been listening for over 4 hours. Perhaps the most interesting feature of what is being said is that nearly every speaker believes Parliament was misled by the vile Blair, leaving me wondering why they don’t have the guts to indite him along with those Mexico detailed. The House appears to believe Iraq and Afghanistan are a disaster and we were falsely led into intervention.

    A Tory MP is raising all kinds of issues of Western duplicity, not calling a coup in Egypt a coup, not condemning the use of chemical weapons against Iran, arming the likes of Saudi to the teeth … good god, I could almost vote for the woman! Now a Labour man is referring to Blair’s vanity and deception. Of course, I wonder why they were all so gutless when the decisions were made in the past.

    It might almost appear the UK has democracy! It seems no British action will be taken without a further vote. We wait now for the first division (vote) to come in. Baited breath! This farce will continue for an hour or so because we can’t equip our MPs with electronic voting. None of this stuff has any relevance to what we will actually do about Syria. This will come after Cameron makes his decision and orders a whip-enforced vote. Today was just ritual, though Cameron has confirmed he won’t use the Royal Prerogative and ‘gets’ the message the public does not support British engagement.

    1. JTFaraday

      “most are saying they are unconvinced by the intelligence they have been given.”

      Interesting. This is the way it seems to me. ie., if it comes from US Fedgov, it must be a lie. Even “the facts” are constantly in question.

      People don’t know what to believe.

  27. BB

    The sad news today is the shutting down (it will become an archive) of The Oil Drum. The good news is that a number of long-time contributors have written excellent, thoughtful, long final posts. Highly recommended:

  28. ChrisPacific

    OK, so I get that people in Syria are being gassed, but I struggle to see how blowing some stuff up with missiles is going to help with that. The rationale seems to be that IF the attacks succeed and IF Assad is the responsible party (US claims to have evidence that he is, can’t share it for security reasons, where have I heard that one before) and IF the missile targets are of some positive value to him and IF he takes the message that the US intends from their destruction (a deterrent to future gas attacks) and IF they are enough of a deterrent for him to actually stop and IF the attacks doesn’t piss Russia and/or China off too much, then they will have worked. We can all relax in the knowledge that we’ve done some good and the Syrians will no longer slaughter unarmed civilians and children using chemical weapons (a heinous crime) but will go back to doing it the old fashioned way using conventional weapons (which is apparently perfectly OK).

    Even for US officials, that seems like a reach. A much safer bet is that hundreds of Tomahawk missiles are about to go poof, and will need to be replaced. Which makes me wonder if this isn’t the real story:

  29. Roland

    You know, if Obama somehow does not choose war, then I’ll have to give the man some props.

    If we can get through an entire four year American presidential term without the USA making a major attack on another country that poses no threat to their own, that would count for quite a bit, in my books.

    Today’s good news from the parliament in London was first of any sort of good news that I have had in a long time. But I fear that France or Canada or some other old Western ally will oblige, instead.

    Nevertheless, thank God for what little good news we get.

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