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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

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I spent 33 years…being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and the bankers. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street…In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

Marine Major General Smedley Butler
August 21, 1931 to an American Legion convention

The more things change, the more they stay the same. America has a long and illustrious history of imperialistic feats, as was so eloquently portrayed by Smedley Butler in 1931. The recent intervention of NATO, led by the United States in the Libyan civil war, is just the latest example of U.S./Western imperialism.

It all started with a massive deception. Security Council Resolution 1973 was limited in scope and simply called for the imposition of a No Fly Zone over Libya to protect threatened civilians from tyrant Muammar Qaddafi’s wrath. The intent was clear and mostly responsible for its passage through the Security Council as members Russia, China, India, Brazil, and Germany voted to abstain instead of against the resolution.

However, from the very beginning NATO’s intent to liberate Libya, not just protect its citizens, became clear. NATO bombings went beyond aircraft, anti-aircraft batteries and the like to troop formations, oil installations, and other infrastructure. Even though Obama said there would be no need for boots on the ground, reports broke that American Special Forces had been on the ground prior to the beginning of the social unrest?

Why the special interest in Libya? There is no doubt it had nothing to do with the well-being of the Libyan people. It was all about Libya’s oil reserves. In 2004, after Qaddafi ended his quest for weapons of mass destruction, President George W. Bush lifted sanctions against Libya. Since then, American companies have invested heavily in Libya. For instance, energy giants ConocoPhillips and Marathon have each invested about $700 million.

Perhaps not understanding how the system of Western corporatism functions, Qaddafi over time had the gall to demand tougher contract terms, big bonuses up front, and most remarkably, the demand that global oil companies operating in Libya pay the $1.5 billion bill for Libya’s role in the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 and other terrorist attacks or face “serious consequences” for their oil leases. Possibly the last straw for Western imperialists was Qaddafi’s plan to unite African and Arab states under a new currency to rival the dollar and Euro. Under the proposal, oil and other resources would be sold only for gold dinars. The economic implications for the West would be immense.

So when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Tripoli last week shortly after Qaddafi’s slaying in the streets of Misrata, it was difficult for her to hold back her glee at another conquest for Western corporate interests. Even before Qaddafi’s death on October 20, representatives from 80 French firms arrived in Tripoli to meet officials of the Transitional National Council. And in the meantime, British defense minister, Philip Hammond strongly advised British companies to “pack their suitcases” for Libya.

If you look up the phrase “western companies returning to Libya” on Google News you will find a number of articles about American and European security, construction, infrastructure, and oil companies being ready, willing, and able to carve up the spoils of war there. Funny how those same corporations didn’t spend the billions of dollars it took to liberate Libya. Of course, that was done by the taxpayers in NATO countries.

And so the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Smedley Butler’s admissions in his speech rocked the country to its core. Perhaps someday in the future another courageous American commander from the Libyan war will make a similar speech acknowledging his complicity in Western imperialism in that country. But with the internet, that speech is unnecessary. Anybody has the ability to find the truth on their own.

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About Kenn Jacobine

  • Clavos

    I second Jordan…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    On “Security Theater”

    Back in August of 2001, a CIA agent informed President Bush that al-Qaeda was planning on flying airliners into buildings. Dubya’s response? “Okay, now, you’ve covered your ass, now get back to work.”

    Looks like Dubya would have agreed with both of you about “Security Theater”!

    Then there was the time that JFK did watch “Security Theater” (even though he’d gotten burned by a previous viewing called “The Bay of Pigs”). You see, in this particular viewing of “Security Theater”, it was considered a Really Bad Idea to allow nuclear-tipped missiles ninety miles off the coast of Florida. JFK paid attention to “Security Theater”, Khrushchev blinked, and the the missiles went away…

    …which leads us directly to a less-well-known viewing of “Security Theater”: the sinking of the nuclear attack submarine USS Scorpion in 1968. At the time, it was treated as the result of a maintenance problem like the one that sank the USS Thresher

    …but it’s increasingly well accepted in certain circles in the Navy (if not to the public at large) not only that the Scorpion was torpedoed and sank by a Soviet submarine, but also that the government knew about it and hushed it up. Anyone who wants to dig up some of the indications and testimonies online can do so, but the official line of the government and subsequent investigations never even admit the possibility of the sinking being the result of hostile action.

    Now WHY would the government have covered up one of our nuclear subs being torpedoed and sunk with all hands? The answer’s simple: the LBJ administration probably watched “Security Theater” and figured out that the attitude of America’s public was such that we just might wind up in a full nuclear exchange…and the loss of one sub – however egregious and tragic – was not worth nuclear war.

    And now we go back to the Cuban Missile Blockade! If the Soviets had indeed been so bold as to deliberately sink one of our subs, how bold might they have been if they had had a few dozen nuclear-tipped missiles ninety miles away from our coast?

    What if, what if, WHAT IF?

    Paying too much attention to “Security Theater” gets us into a lot of problems…but paying too LITTLE attention to “Security Theater” gets us into even greater problems, as evinced by 9/11 and all the tragedy, outrage, and war crimes that followed.

    The ONLY thing – the O..N..L..Y thing – that you can do about it is to elect leaders who are intelligent and possess sound judgement, because such decisions concerning “Security Theater” aren’t up to you and me and everyone else who has the luxury of playing Monday Morning Quarterback and Armchair General – it’s up to those we elect, the ones who face the time-sensitive choice…

    …and who not only face the condemnation of history should they make the wrong choice, but who are responsible all too often for the loss of innocent lives no matter which choice they make.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Well put, Cannonshop. I’ll put that one in my back pocket.

  • Cannonshop

    Here’s a phrase for you, Jordan, something to add to your repertoire…

    “Security Theatre”.

    Security Theatre is all about making policy and sacrificing freedoms on the altar of “What If?”

    When you get right down to it, Security Theatre is an empty promise with a huge cost. Security Theatre is how Uncle Sam can justify Alwaki, and Libya, and any of the violent interventions you mentioned, how the government can justify humiliating its citizens by proxy with the TSA, how bad cops can get away with the murder of Jose Guerena, security theatre drove the Waco raid and kept Lon Horiuchi from facing both a wrongful death suit, and murder charges for engaging a woman holding a door with one hand and a loaded baby in the other.

    Security Theatre turns Citizens into Serfs, and Bureaucrats into Masters.

    and y’know, it’s something that the Democrats and the Republicans, at their highest levels, both rely upon.

  • One has to be hopeful in order to survive, unless they want to end up like Richard Cory.

    Have you received my email transmission? You didn’t say.

  • Zingzing

    That’s a very hopeful sentiment… I’d hope you’re right, but not really sure about it. Humans are wired in too many contradictory manners, even within one individual.

  • I suppose not. But I don’t think it invalidated the tracing of today’s unrest, violence and strife to stately ambitions or their mere acting in the interest of sheer survival.

    I believe that the institution of international law, once all nation-states become more committed to act in compliance with it, is a step in the right direction. It’s a big if, of course, nonetheless, it could serve as a model for constructing our future.

  • Zingzing

    Was there a moment’s peace before they came to be?

  • “…learning what is necessary to protect the state…but necessary nonetheless.”

    That’s precisely what’s wrong with the entire paradigm, the necessity to protect the state, no matter what … a fascist state, a totalitarian state, a bent on its own destruction state. Nazis felt the same way about the Third Reich. The state über alles.

    No wonder the anarchists have got it right in wishing to do away with this corrupt institution. Humankind won’t have a moment’s peace until nation-states cease to be.

  • And then he gives away his booty, saying, “I’m not like you.” Doesn’t even want his glasses.

  • The Unforgiven

  • troll

    …brings to mind a great movie line:

    The Schofield Kid: [after killing a man for the first time] It don’t seem real… how he ain’t gonna never breathe again, ever… how he’s dead. And the other one too. All on account of pulling a trigger.

    Will Munny: It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.

    The Schofield Kid: Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming.

    Will Munny: We all got it coming, kid.

  • “There’s a big difference between getting one’s daughter pregnant and getting one’s underage daughter pregnant.”

    I didn’t miss anything. I want to know what state is it where that exemption is listed for attempted murder because I doubt there is one, which doesn’t reflect well on your jury.

    I’ve been on a jury a few times and never has the judge given us instructions that if the guy had a good reason for breaking the law it was okay.

  • Jordan Richardson

    By the way, Glenn, I’ve appreciated the exchange. I rock the night shift here and that sometimes doesn’t give me a lot to do when I’m not (but should be) writing, as some might know.

    It’s been nice to have a conversation with you. Have a pleasant day/night, sir.

  • Jordan Richardson

    *It matters now that Karimov is associated with widespread torture…

    should say “It matters little that Karimov is associated with widespread torture…”

  • Jordan Richardson

    The challenge is to preserve America’s security despite the war crimes we’ve committed.

    And if that means committing a few more, that’s life?

    You again present the same scenario: if America leaves region A or B, all hell will break loose. This was the same justification that put American troops in the regions in the first place, Glenn. The desires for stability and security, both incredibly broad conceptions, have led to so much destruction, instability, loss of life, and insecurity that it’s impossible to sanely deem the operations as successful.

    If you want to talk about “cut-and-dried,” it’s the insane equations mentioned above, that America’s insistent presence in certain dark corners of the world will make the United States “safer.”

    Iraq is “relatively stable” after what? How many killed, displaced? How many homes destroyed, businesses lost? What about the nation’s history, forever damaged by the ravages of the occupation?

    Whether you supported the Iraq occupation or not is incidental; your philosophical approach is analogous to what put “boots on the ground” in Iraq.

    You talk of “supporting tyrants” because it’s in the best interest of your country. This, I think, is what many find most repulsive in your various approaches.

    I recognize that your lens is entirely fixated on “what’s good for America,” so it’s almost futile to appeal to the notion of the never-ending road of warfare and occupations. And the atrocities, which you at least refer to as “sounding crude and barbaric,” are all just part of the “so be it” reality of keeping America “safe.”

    America has routinely supported dictators and tyrants the world over, as you well know. This, to you, isn’t right but it’s a cold reality because the United States lacks the “luxury of idealism.”

    This includes, as you well know, the suppression of democracy. Bahrain’s Sunni minority rules the country, which means that the US must actively repress the Shiites lest they have to relinquish control over the oil passageways and lessen their potential for control in Iran. Securing access to these resources would be, in your view, essential for America’s security/interests/whatever.

    Also essential for security purposes is America’s comfortable relationship with Islam Karimov, president of Uzbekistan. It matters now that Karimov is associated with widespread torture, rape, kidnapping, murder, financial corruption, religious persecution, and countless other human rights abuses because, let the choir sing, America’s security benefits (because a US base in Uzbekistan has been critical in getting supplies to the Afghan front).

    It doesn’t matter, then, that Karimov has his forces boil two men alive in 2002 because the US was allowed to use Uzbekistan for purposes of extraordinary rendition. This, according to Bush doctrine, “kept America safe.” Anything for those purposes, right?

    And then there’s the Andijan massacre in Uzbekistan in 2005, in which Uzbek Interior Ministry and National Security Service troops fired into a crowd of protesters. The official Uzbek government account of the dead was a convenient 187, but human rights groups estimated the numbers to be much higher. Looking the other way, however, is par for the course because America can “benefit” from its relationship with Karimov.

    The West has supported every rotten scumbag from Idi Amin (supplying the weapons with which he could torture and kill his own people) to Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (he was the preference to the “socialist” policies of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, which would impact America’s fiscal “security”).

    It sounds crude and barbaric because it is, Glenn. And what’s truly idealistic is assuming that America’s path of destruction, one that wraps around the globe more times than any of us can count, has served to make the world (or America) a better place.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    You’re up way past your bedtime, and it’s even getting close to mine.

    Our wars in the Middle East advanced our national security not one whit – and our use of torture made it much worse.

    If your aim is to get me to admit what we’ve done wrong in the Middle East, you’re not going to find much of a challenge. All our problems there are of OUR own making.

    But the challenge isn’t to right a wrong, or to unf**k what’s been f**ked. The challenge is to preserve America’s security despite the war crimes we’ve committed.

    The president does not have the luxury of removing all of our troops willy-nilly when he KNOWS that such will only allow extremists to gain power. The challenge for the president is to ensure that viable, stable governments are in place…governments that can stand on their own but do not pose a threat to the other nations.

    Is the present approach working? I am essentially anonymous, and that gives me the luxury of being truthful.

    So is the present approach working? Well, Iraq seems to be relatively stable…and we’ll be out of there before the year’s end. Yemen may or may not be stable…but they need our support since the rebels are backed by al-Qaeda. Afghanistan IMO will NEVER be stable…but we’re there not for Afghanistan, but for Pakistan.

    And as for the rest of the Middle East, most of them seem to be of the opinion that we support the Arab Spring.

    So is our current approach working? I’d say it’s a mixed bag – some yes, some no, and some a fool’s dream…

    …but if the best way to preserve America’s security against terrorist attacks is to support a tyrant in the Middle East, so be it.

    Yes, that sounds crude and barbaric…but the president normally does not have the luxury of idealism. You can wish otherwise until you’re blue in the face, but idealism is a luxury, and an expensive one at that.

  • Jordan Richardson

    With respect to “finished careers,” I would suggest to you that there are many things you know that I don’t know. There are, conversely, many things that I know that you don’t know. I willingly concede that you have more life experience than I do, but I will not willingly concede that that automatically makes you more thoughtful, more capable, more considerate, more measured, or more reasoned.

    Your stance here appears to be summarized with the notion that it is permissible (not right or wrong) to commit an atrocity if the “results” are good. Or, as you put it, “learning what is necessary to protect the state.”

    Again, this leads to “what if” thinking. I realize that you’ve all but dismissed by thinking on that score as mere idealism, but I think the historical context frames it in a way that lends credence to the fact that America’s foreign policy direction isn’t working – even to “protect the state.”

    It is hard to remember a time when the United States has been more despised by such a disparate collective of nationalities and nations, Glenn. It is hard to imagine a time in history when the United States has been in such constant danger.

    This is, in large part, brought about by what Simon Jenkins refers to as both an “itch to brawl” and a “post-imperial virus” in this piece.

    The article linked mentions Iran and how the country is “where Iraq was in 2002,” posing no threat to the West but still under target of at a minimum regime change and at a maximum total war. The reason for this is the “what if” thinking I’ve referred to above.

    In order to “preserve the state,” what does the US do with regard to Iran? “What if” Iran develops nuclear capabilities? – that’s long been the question there.

    The “shades of grey” you speak of relate to how America confronts the world, not to how I approach justice, foreign policy and interventionism or imperialism. “Shades of grey” come into play in understanding why there are al-Awlakis and bin Ladens, why “they hate us” and so forth.

    This appears to be a consideration you’d prefer not to think about, for the “answer” is too idealistic. America would not be safe, you figure. I think, with all due respect, that you figure wrong.

    In order to be safe, we “have to do the wrong thing sometimes.” Where does that road end, Glenn? I asked you that in #146. How much is enough? When will America and “her interests” truly be finally protected?

    As Jenkins says in the linked article above:

    “The wars of choice that followed 9/11 have acquired a rhythm of their own. They have yielded 10 years of rolling thunder across the Muslim world, variously proclaiming retaliation, humanity, regime change and democracy. There have been pluses – the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and (temporarily) the Taliban. But the minuses have been tens of thousands killed, millions displaced, societies upheaved, billions of dollars of destruction, and a region destabilised. The wars have been a gigantic, historic tragedy. They have not advanced western security one jot.”

    Tell me he’s wrong, Glenn. Tell me how well the current approach is working. Cite the neo-cons’ “no attacks since 9/11” junk if you have to, but convince me. No stories, no anecdotes, no analogies. Tell me the truth.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    I’m not predicating anything – I’m only providing examples.

    I could as easily remind you that what seems so black-and-white to younger people becomes shades of gray to those of us who have finished careers, who have retired from the hustle-and-bustle of the world.

    Shades of gray, Jordan. It’s not as cut-and-dried as you suppose. Think back – isn’t that what I’ve been saying all along?

    There’s a story that Sun Tzu told of a general. The king told the general that if he could get the emperor’s concubines to act as a military unit, he’d be rewarded with command of the emperor’s army.

    The general did his best to get the concubines to obey, but they only giggled and treated his commands as if they were one great joke. Then the general told the concubines that if the general was unable to command his troops, that it was the fault of the general for not successfully employing his authority. He then ordered the beheading of the emperor’s favorite concubine.

    The emperor immediately came and told the general that such was unnecessary, but the general told him that the emperor must not be serious about wanting a general to defend the nation, for the emperor was obviously unwilling to allow the general to do what was necessary to maintain discipline within the army.

    The emperor saw the wisdom in the general’s words, and allowed the beheading to continue. Thereafter, the remaining concubines obeyed quite well as a military unit.

    The above, Jordan, is a horrifying story. I hope you get from my comment #148 that I put women on a pedestal. BUT the point of the story is that in order to preserve the state – and all the benefits that the state provides – sometimes the emperor must allow things to happen which run against what we normally thing of as right and wrong.

    Shades of gray, Jordan.

    It’s a hard lesson, learning what is necessary to protect the state…but necessary nonetheless.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    I love your idealism – it’s truly refreshing.

    Please remember, I’m in a different country – a third-world nation – right now because I think it’s a better place for my youngest son. Two nights ago we were in the Peninsula Hotel (Manila), with live jazz/classical music and the waiters answering our every whim. My youngest son was not at all intimidated by this – he felt quite at ease.

    But what he looked forward to even more was the time to spend with his cousins down in the slums of Sampaloc. And when I say ‘slums’, it’s much poorer than anyplace in America north of Mexico City.

    I am deeply proud of my youngest son because he’s not into living a rich life, but instead sees people for who they are.

    Jordan, if I were as callous, as uncaring as some seem to think, I wouldn’t be so proud of my son for preferring the company of his cousins in the slums to the easy life of the uber-rich.

    Likewise, I could be living in a much nicer place, but I choose to be here with my wife’s family – MY family, now – with all the problems that entails.

    Understanding of my fellow man – that’s what I want, what I crave…for I deeply believe that we cannot achieve what we think we might if we do not comprehend where are are right now.

    I know that all sounds like stuff and nonsense – but I love my fellow man. An hour ago my wife just gave me a butt-chewing for giving a beggar more than she asked for…but how can I do otherwise?

    Understanding of where one is, Jordan, is essential before one can understand just how far one can go….

  • Jordan Richardson

    Fine, I lied.

    Regarding your #145, no we don’t have any kids yet. I’m an only child, so I also don’t know what it’s like to have any siblings. I’m not an ethnic minority in my country of birth, so I also don’t know what discrimination is like. I’m also not that old, so I don’t know what it feels like to have failing vision or diminished mobility. I’m not a woman, so I can’t tell you what it’s like to be discriminated against or judged. I’m not a dog, so I can’t tell you what it’s like to eat dog food. I’ve never been in the army, so I can’t tell you what it’s like to serve. I’ve never fired a gun, so I can’t tell you what it’s like to shoot bullets.

    I could go on and on, but nowhere in this mass of things I haven’t done and people I haven’t been do I see one single good reason to support the notion that I can’t have an opinion on what’s right and wrong or what can be justified or what can be excused.

    You’ll notice in #142 that I said that I empathized with the dad in your court case analogy. You’ll also notice that I said that sometimes committing a crime is the only sane action one can take.

    Then you’ll notice, I think, that I stated that I see no justification for the actions of the US government in this case. I asked you about any new evidence, something you ignored in order to tell me how deficient my opinion is because I don’t have children.

    The only thing insulting about this, Glenn, is that it appears you’re predicating my capacity to understand justice, morality and love on whether or not my wife and I have children.

  • Jordan Richardson

    This will be my last post on this matter because, you’re right, we’re beating a dead horse.

    First, I’ll say that there will always be some sort of “reason” for the United States not to leave its state of perpetual military conflict. It has engaged in said state since the conclusion of World War II and very possibly doesn’t know how to exist without it. There will always be an enemy, there will always be “one more thing” that America must defend against or protect “us” from. Whether that is nukes in Pakistan or Iran or elsewhere is really the only variety in the scheme.

    The trouble with “what if” scenarios is that they can be utilized to justify anything, Glenn.

    What if that guy over there has a gun and is planning on killing us all? Shit, he looks shifty and he keeps fumbling around with his jacket. Let’s kill him because he just might kill us first.

    It’s this type of logic that caused passengers aboard a recent plane flight to become alarmed after passengers “kept going to the bathroom.” The plane landed and the FBI looked through everything. Nothing was found, although one similar case in Detroit revealed that those spending too much time in the crapper were, in fact, joining the Mile High Club.

    These actions were based on “what if” scenarios playing out in the minds of the passengers, Glenn. Because we’ve become a society that relentlessly plays “what if,” we’ve become a society of, to put it gently, paranoid nuts. Dark-skinned people are suspects, any “out of the ordinary” behaviour is to be reported. When I go down to the US with my wife, we encounter countless signs telling us to “report” ANYTHING that we find out of the ordinary. More “what if” thinking infests us each day.

    US policy in just about every arena is now based around “what if” thinking and covering bases that can never actually be covered.

    More examples:

    What if we allow gay marriage? People will want to marry their pets next.

    What if we allow abortion? People will be aborting babies for sport and profit.

    What if we allow gun control? People won’t be able to defend themselves when the government finally attacks the populace.

    Where does it end? Where does the paranoid grip on society finally loosen a few fingers, Glenn?

    LIFE is a gamble. We live in a dangerous world and a lot of that is our own making. We in the West have invaded countries for resources, fixed elections to meet our needs, assassinated countless innocent people, and so on. There is no shortage of people in the world that rightly want us dead. Behind every al-Awlaki and bin Laden is another thousand al-Awlakis and bin Ladens.

    Where does it end? When the “what if” game has ensured that every terrorist and every potential terrorist is six feet under?

    Or maybe it “ends” with a different set of tactics, with non-interventionist foreign policies as opposed to constantly playing out every possible scenario.

    The “what if” foreign polices have only succeeded in producing more enemies, Glenn. They’ve unlocked a veritable Pandora’s Box of militants, fundamentalists and fanatics that want America’s influence gone – and, from their perspective, they have good reasons.

    This isn’t idealism. This is the recognition that the international strategy heavy on interventionism that has been in place since World War II and has included military operations in China, Korea, Greece, Taiwan, Egypt, Lebanon, Haiti, Thailand, Laos, Zaire, the Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Nicaragua, Iran, El Salvador, Libya, Grenada, Honduras, Chad, Italy, Bolivia, Panama, Colombia, Peru, the Philippines, Liberia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Macedonia, Albania, Congo and Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Afghanistan, East Timor, Yemen, the Ivory Coast, Georgia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Kenya just doesn’t work any longer.

    It’s time to stop basing policies that impact millions and millions of lives around “what if” scenarios. There’s no end to that road, Glenn. Just another blood-stained beginning.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan #143 –

    Again, do you have any children? Specifically, any daughters?

    Because if you do not, then – and please don’t take this as an insult – you cannot know the depth of feeling that a loving parent has to a child…or the anger that parent can feel towards someone who harms the child. No other love you will ever feel in your life can compare – not the love you have for your parents, not the love you have for your significant other, nor the love you have for yourself or for all the people of the world.

    So…got any kids?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan #140 –

    I’m all for us leaving. Only thing is, there’s this little problem of a not-so-stable nuclear-armed state called Pakistan. You know, the one that had an al-Qaeda-led popular uprising that came within fifty miles of the capital a year or two ago?

    I’d love for us to leave Afghanistan, the place “where empires go to die”. The only reason we’re still there is because of Pakistan (and because Bush decided to ignore Afghanistan in his quest for greater glory in Iraq).

    Jordan, you might be right. Leaving the Middle East might very well be the best thing we can do for them. Better yet, let’s say you’re PROBABLY right!

    But what if you’re wrong?

    What if we leave the Middle East and as a result the fundamentalist get hold of some nukes and *poof* goes the financial districts of NYC and London. It’s long been known that what we fear is NOT the nation with a thousand nukes, but the little extremist group with only one or two nukes.

    So are you willing to gamble the stability and prosperity of the Western World – America, Europe, and the Commonwealth – on you being probably right?

    Perhaps that’s what you’re missing, Jordan – an awareness of the sheer enormity of the responsibility Obama (and any U.S. president) bears. If he screws it up, if even ONE nuke gets into the hands of the wrong people, what happens?

    And look what happened even when they didn’t have nukes! Three airliners out of four hit their targets, and what happened?

    Yes, we’ve screwed the pooch in the Middle East for generations. WE are far more guilty of war crimes than anyone in the Middle East. But it’s sorta like the Tar Baby – we’re stuck there…because if the president doesn’t take a proactive role in taking down al-Qaeda and they get to make another major attack on the American homeland, what will happen then? You saw how far we went after 9/11, after the crazies got to do whatever they wanted to do by saying “we’re under attack by the Muslims!”

    What more would happen if they were able to make another attack of the same or greater magnitude.

    NOW – does all this excuse Obama’s assassination of al-Alwaki? Maybe not…but think on this, Jordan – al-Alwaki by his OWN admission was waging jihad on America. Our intelligence agencies knew what he had done before (and do you REALLY think the CIA is going to make public all the evidence they had on him? Get real!)

    How would America react to another 9/11? How many people would wrongly die then? Not only American citizens, but also in the nation that served as the base for the terrorists who committed the attack?

    Do you for ONE moment feel the ENORMITY of the responsibility of the president? Have you ever been responsible for the lives of your fellow man? Now multiply that responsibility by millions.

    YES, I’m ranting now – but to just pack up and leave and HOPE that the Middle East would leave us alone as a result is a GAMBLE. Truth be told, staying there is also a gamble. But which risk includes a greater likelihood of terrorists being able to physically conduct another 9/11 stateside?


    The president’s first duty is to protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic – but we’ve all seen what damage there was to the Constitution after 9/11, and we can only imagine what would happen should there be another 9/11.

    So…Jordan – it’s a gamble either way. You might be right…but is your confidence in your, um, rightness enough to justify us taking the kind of risks I entailed above?

    Idealism. Pragmatism. There’s a time and place for both.

  • Jordan Richardson

    While you say you don’t readily condemn others except for certain things, there’s a great likelihood that you’re not easily able to empathize with those who have done things that are illegal.

    After leaving the church, a great part of my vital formative years in my early 20s was spent down in the East Side of Vancouver working directly with prostitutes and junkies. I have spent time around Vancouver’s Insite (the safe injection site) as well and have worked with the homeless of the city on a regular basis.

    I don’t have the audacity to compare the militaristic actions of the most powerful country on earth and its imperial ventures with the law-breaking of a drug addict or a hooker or even a disgruntled and pissed-off dad.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I can understand at least to some extent what was going through the mind of the dad.

    I can empathize, yes, but that wouldn’t have excused me from having committed a crime had I taken the same course he did. Simple as that.

    There are some instances in which committing a crime is the only sane thing to do, so again I can empathize.

    you’re apparently of the opinion that nothing ever justifies a crime

    See above.

    Obama’s actions in this case are not, however, justifiable. This is because, again, there’s no evidence and there’s no crime. We are relying on the government’s vision of the deceased as a “bad guy” and, as such, are being asked to accept his assassination as necessary. We are asked to do this without seeing proof.

    More than that, we are asked to accept this fact after knowing that al-Awlaki was in US custody a number of times after 9/11 and other terrorist attacks in which he had suspected involvement. In those incidents, there was no evidence to connect him to the crimes. What new evidence is there to justify his assassination?

    Some crimes are justified, even to the point of being willing to accept the punishment meted down by a judge.

    Agreed. Should the “Obama crime,” for lack of a better or more flippant term, be “justified” on some score, it should also be susceptible to scrutiny and criticism. Would you at least agree with that?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan #138 –

    Then it’s as I said – you’re in the top two percent of men if you’re really that squeaky-clean.

    But that has a downside, too. While you say you don’t readily condemn others except for certain things, there’s a great likelihood that you’re not easily able to empathize with those who have done things that are illegal.

    Notice that I did not make an outright accusation, but said that there was a ‘great likelihood’…and remember that even Apostle Paul not only did a lot of wrong things but by his own admission also continued to do wrong things after he became a disciple of Christ.

    I’m taking you at your word about your near-total lack of illegal conduct, and I don’t doubt you because I’ve known a few such men over the years. I always admired them, but I also knew I could never be one of them. Stay strong, Jordan –

  • Jordan Richardson

    Didja miss the part where I said I’m not saying that Obama did the right thing, but that I simply canNOT say he did the wrong thing?

    No, I responded to it by stating that I think you’re playing to a distinction without a difference. Nothing you’ve said has convinced me otherwise, either. You think that Obama did the “only” thing he could’ve in this situation, but that’s completely unprovable.

    You don’t know any more than I do on that score. You are infinitely more well-versed in tactics and military specifics, but the facts remain that the United States went after an American citizen who was not convicted or charged with any crime and they went after him in a foreign country that they were not at war with.

    It’s funny, too, that you mention that “neither of us” is playing partisan politics here right after you ask me how many “conservatives” are playing this card.

    The realistic choice given the lack of evidence and the government’s inability to pin al-Awlaki to any actual crimes with any actual proof is to walk it back, to monitor the situation from afar and to not further provoke the Islamic extremists who are eager for a reason to attack the United States. As unlikely and illogical as it sounds to Americans bathing in propaganda about the Middle East and “terrorists” in general, leaving is probably the greatest gift you can give these war-wearing people. Remaining and incessantly pressing this endless “war” will continue to make generations upon generations of new enemies.

    You might argue here that the “best defence is a good offence,” but I’d have to disagree on the grounds that every single action the US takes in these “contentious” countries further provokes hatred of America and its allies. Every single whiff of interference, every single drone attack that murders an innocent family, every single toppling of a democratically-elected government, and every single cultural encroachment influence the way your country is seen by the rest of the world.

    Viewing Obama’s actions through that lens, knowing that the assassination would doubtlessly provoke more disdain and continue the “cowboy justice” reputation America has internationally, how can you still say that he didn’t make the wrong move?

  • Glenn Contrarian


    Jordan, I didn’t “make up my mind” about the statutory rapist – he was 19 or 20. By the way, do you have any daughters? I don’t, but I know how utterly overprotective I would be. So…yeah, I can understand at least to some extent what was going through the mind of the dad.

    Look, friend – and I mean ‘friend’ when I say it – you’re apparently of the opinion that nothing ever justifies a crime. I disagree. Some crimes are justified, even to the point of being willing to accept the punishment meted down by a judge.

    Unfortunately, there’s many millions of men who feel that way and use that line as an excuse to commit truly horrible crimes.

    Jordan, you’d make a great lawyer – one of the good ones, I mean – and you’d be a great judge. But unless something radically changes to show me that Obama really had a reasonable option to do something other than what he did, I will not change my mind.

  • Jordan Richardson

    did you ever have premarital sex in the States?


    I may well be “squeaky clean,” I really don’t know. I’ve never thought about it much (or cared).

    I grew up in a Christian home, spent most of my formative years in church youth group situations in which the most exciting thing to happen was when someone brought over a case of Dr. Pepper. I’ve never done illegal drugs (though I’m against the war on drugs and wouldn’t mind seeing them legalized), although I may have inadvertently inhaled pot smoke at concerts. I had my first alcoholic drink when I was 19 (19 is the legal drinking age here).

    As I mentioned, I’ve had a couple of speeding tickets but that’s it.

    I’m sure it’s easy to commit felonies in some states. I’m not judging those that have, either, but I don’t believe my position in life at all precludes me from assessing if an action is a violation of human rights, international law, ethical boundaries, and so forth.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    Didja miss the part where I said I’m not saying that Obama did the right thing, but that I simply canNOT say he did the wrong thing?

    Do you understand the difference between the two? Of course you do. That’s the advantage about discussing things with intelligent people – one doesn’t have to ‘dumb things down’ for them.

    Got a question for you, Jordan – how many conservatives and Republicans do you think are playing this card not because they give a rat’s patootie about al-Alwaki having been an American citizen (who had declared religious war on America), but because it simply gives them an opportunity to attack Obama?

    I have no doubt of your sincerity and you’ve earned my respect in the past for your sincere rebukes.

    (*takes a moment to stare at the small gecko on the wall – they’re called botika here*)

    But we’re both beating the dead horse to a bloody pulp. You and I will have to agree to disagree. You’ve stated your case and stated it well – and I stand my ground, not because I’m an Obama supporter, but because I don’t see any other realistic choice that he had.

    Fortunately, neither one of us is arguing in a partisan manner because neither you nor I feel this is a partisan matter.

    I respect your opinion – I really do – but in this instance, I cannot agree with you.

  • Jordan Richardson

    #132, you might feel really strongly against a crime like statutory rape, but that doesn’t excuse the commission of another crime. Your admitted ignorance of the situation should have cemented this further. What if the male was merely months older than the female he impregnated? You said that you wouldn’t have convicted him even knowing he was guilty of the crime. To me, that’s astounding.

    You effectively made your mind up to condemn the alleged statutory rapist in said example, Glenn, but you “can’t” condemn Casey Anthony or Obama, even when the latter is in violation of international law.

    The more you reveal the reasoning behind your position, the more it seems apparent that you’re rationalizing. What’s frightening and unfortunate is how much you’re willing to rationalize based on “good faith” and how many lives said rationalizations (read: excuses) can cost.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And for everyone –

    It’s WAY past your bedtime (except for those of us in Asia and Europe). Go turn of the computer, brush your teeth, and say night-night, okay?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Jordan –

    If you’re as squeaky-clean as you say, then please rest assured that you’re one of the squeaky-cleanest men I’ve ever known.

    By the way – did you ever have premarital sex in the States? In many states such was illegal – and still is in some states. Maybe you’ve got some more crimes to answer for.

    And if Jet Gardner were around, I think he’d have a few things to say about how easy it is to commit a felony in many states in America, too.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Using that logic, Glenn, how can you condemn al-Awlaki based on mere allegations? If you “can’t” condemn someone like Casey Anthony, how is it that you determine Obama “had no other course” with al-Awlaki?

    You are essentially saying that it’s not wrong to violate international law and the human rights of al-Awlaki. You may tapdance around it and play semantics, but you’re really playing to a distinction without a difference.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    El B –

    There’s a big difference between getting one’s daughter pregnant and getting one’s underage daughter pregnant. This is also known as statutory rape…and we would never find out if it was ‘merely’ statutory, or simply outright rape of a child.

    But you missed that little part where I said “minor-aged” daughter, huh?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    Essentially you’re saying that Obama made the right call

    Wrong. I’m saying that I canNOT say that Obama made the wrong call.

  • Jordan Richardson

    You’ve never done an illegal drug or abused a legal drug in an illegal manner?


    Never gotten behind the wheel a bit tipsy?


    Never dumped the crack-addled body of the ladyboy you just strangled to death in a roidrage into the freshwater supply of a dying Indian tribe on bet with a bunch of triad hit men buying fake passports off you in ciudad Juarez?

    No, but I have opened fire on Peruvian maple syrup thieves while leaning out of the third storey window of an apartment where a three-legged dog used to sell coconut oil and Skittles to blind Chinese women.

    Of course, here that’s not a crime; they’ll give you a medal for that shit.

  • Zingzing

    Oh jordan… You’ve never done an illegal drug or abused a legal drug in an illegal manner? Never gotten behind the wheel a bit tipsy? Never dumped the crack-addled body of the ladyboy you just strangled to death in a roidrage into the freshwater supply of a dying Indian tribe on bet with a bunch of triad hit men buying fake passports off you in ciudad Juarez?

  • zingzing

    i know cannonshop. i’ve argued the same thing many times. but that was my point. your reaction comes down to who you trust more. yes, the war in iraq was certainly illegal. but a war doesn’t stop once it’s started just because it’s not legal. it’s taken far to long, but it looks like it’ll be over come new year’s. i’m glad for that. obama may have run an illegal war started by his predecessor, but it’s done. he was at least there putting it to bed. it’s a good thing.

    at gitmo, the amount of prisoners has been greatly reduced. those remaining haven’t been moved because congress won’t allow them to be tried in american courts or any other nations’ court. make of that what you will. what if obama made a decision and closed it down over the objections of the congress? what would you say then?

    “Leftists glorying over U.S. intervention in the internal struggles of a sovereign nation (Libya), an action taken in direct violation of hte War Powers Act-hell, beyond violation, it was open scorn of the law…and every inch as illegal as the Bush administration’s Iraq action.”

    i wasn’t really thrilled about that, although i was glad that operations were handled by nato instead of obama directly. i’m not sure what his role really was in that, although i’m not saying the us doesn’t hold a powerful role in nato. do i think that the us should intervene in another nation’s affairs like that? nope. but am i glad that, partially due to the intervention of nato to help a popular struggle to claim sovereignty over their lives, libyans have a chance to create a better life for themselves? yep. there are two different narratives here, one that’s centered on the us, and one that’s centered on libya. you really can’t try to balance the two. and it’s hard to say “fuck the constitution” or “fuck libya” on either end. which would you say? i don’t envy you trying to answer, but you seem to have made up your mind already.

    “Dictatorships happen because the people can’t be arsed to attend to their own business and want someone else to do it for them.”

    dictatorships happen for many reasons, but most are based upon fear rather than laziness.

  • “we in the jury agreed with each other and with the lawyer that had we known the motive, there was no way we would have convicted him.”

    what state did you live in where attempted murder was allowed if someone got your daughter pregnant? First time I have ever heard such a thing

  • Cannonshop

    Put more succinctly, Zing…

    Personality means NOTHING if the Policy remains the same.

  • Cannonshop

    #106 They DO matter, Zing, because Wrong is Wrong. It doesn’t matter who does it. I’m probably in the vanished minority on that, but that also doesn’t matter-if you’re going to have principles, then you HAVE to have principles, even when it means being disappointed or disgusted by the leader you supported.

    If the war was illegal under Bush, it’s no more legal under Obama, see how easy that is? It’s called looking beyond “supporting the team” to what SHOULD really matter-your principles, or at least, the things you CLAIM are your principles.

    One of the main things that disgust me about the current american political stage, is that Principle takes a back seat to Team Loyalty. It makes a liar and hypocrite of everyone eventually, but some of us have realized it, and are trying to correct it, but others are not, and will not.

    There’s LOTS of hypocrisy on the right-you either believe life is precious, or you don’t-if you’re opposed to abortion, you damn well better not support the death penalty, yet lots of Krischuns do just that combination. If you believe in fiscal conservatism, you shouldn’t be bailing out losers on Wall Street and their malinvestements-but many so-called conservatives did Just That VERY thing. If you believe in personal responsibility, why support the Drug War? that’s an idiotic one right there-Punish people for what they DO, not what they do to THEMSELVES.

    But there’s plenty on the Left, too…

    Democrats glorying over ‘obama’s victories’ in the GWOT-a war they were calling “Illegal”, Leftists glorying over U.S. intervention in the internal struggles of a sovereign nation (Libya), an action taken in direct violation of hte War Powers Act-hell, beyond violation, it was open scorn of the law…and every inch as illegal as the Bush administration’s Iraq action.

    The policies are indistinguishable-GitMo is still a going concern, where’s your outrage, Zing?

    Oh, right…but Obama’s BETTER, right? Same policies, Zing, some of them only differ in that the current administration cranked the volume to eleven from…around seven.

    The only difference is the party alignment, and that’s enough for some people to forgive, or even glorify, the same policies they were protesting six months to a year earlier.

    Which leads someone like myself to the realization that it’s not the policies, it’s the team-and if team loyalty is that entrenched, then we’re basically screwed, might as well let elections be played out on college football fields, or just give up on a republic, and go straight to a Feudal system, ’cause it ends up with the same result. Dictatorships happen because the people can’t be arsed to attend to their own business and want someone else to do it for them.

  • Jordan Richardson

    And no, I haven’t ever committed a crime. I had speeding tickets, two of them, but those are not considered crimes here.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I will not immediately condemn the president.

    I don’t see this as being about condemning the president (or even defending the president). I see it as about upholding some semblance of respect for international law and human rights.

    If that doesn’t suffice as evidence to condemn these actions, nothing will.

    Essentially you’re saying that Obama made the right call, even in violation of al-Awlaki’s rights and in violation of international law, because you can’t imagine the president as “malicious.”

    Unfortunately, there are many around the world who see the United States as a malicious, heavy-handed entity out for its own interests and willing to bulldoze anyone and anything to achieve what it desires. In this process, the US is willing to violate international law with glaring arrogance and frequency. This assassination does nothing to repair that reputation.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    I am indeed not the president. I am indeed a human being who does respect international law and human rights…

    …and when a conundrum of this nature comes up, I will not immediately condemn the president.

    Jordan, have you ever committed a crime? Probably. Have you ever committed a crime, and if you had to do it all over again, you would commit the same crime? Again, probably.

    Now is it possible that you’ve committed a felony, but given the same choices, you’d commit the same felony all over again? Maybe, or maybe not. We all have feet of clay – and some men’s feet are bigger than others. Let he who has not committed a crime be the first to condemn those who have.

    I have committed felonies – to be sure, the bar for committing a felony is pretty doggone low, and there’s a lot of us who don’t even realize that we’ve committed one! I’d go so far as to say the majority of men have committed felonies of some sort or another and most of us simply haven’t gotten caught. Now if we had to do it all over again, we’d probably say that – given the same circumstances – we wouldn’t do the same thing all over again.

    But sometimes we would. I was on a jury once, and the accused had deliberately run over a family friend and nearly killed him. Things were looking pretty bad for the accused – he didn’t deny what he did, and we couldn’t discern any reasonable motive. Then one day the trial was over – the plaintiff dropped all charges. We later found out that the reason the accused had run over the plaintiff was because the plaintiff had gotten the accused’s minor-aged daughter pregnant. Why the plaintiff dropped the charges, we don’t know. But we in the jury agreed with each other and with the lawyer that had we known the motive, there was no way we would have convicted him.

    But his cultural background would not allow him to bring all this out in court – the thought of the shame it would bring upon his daughter and his family was worse than the shame of going to prison for several years…and given the SAME choice, I’m sure he would have committed the same felony all over again. But he might have done it in a more, um, permanent fashion.

    I also don’t condemn Caylee Anthony or her family. Why? Because I do NOT know what was going on in the minds of the jury.

    Back when I was a Freemason, one thing I learned is that most men really do try to do what they think is the right thing to do…and I would say the line of thought would continue to the point that unless we can prove that a man had malicious intent (without very good reason), that we should not be so quick to judge what he has done.

    Back to Obama – I can see LOTS of good reasons why he didn’t send troops in to get al-Alwaki…and I can see lots of indications that al-Alwaki needed to be gotten rid of.

    Are those ‘indications’ enough to sentence someone to death? Of course not. But I’ve seen no such tendency on Obama’s part to commit malicious acts, or to do something wrong on a mere whim.

    In summary, until I see evidence that negates all the reasons I can discern that support Obama’s actions, I will NOT condemn him.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Sorry, Glenn, I’m not biting on the role-playing. I’m not the president. I wouldn’t be the president.

    I can’t place myself in the ethical position of managing imperial operations.

    As you stated, there’s no president that doesn’t have innocent blood on his hands. That’s precisely why, again, I can’t place myself in those shoes.

    It wouldn’t be a choice I would ever make.

    As to Obama having made things public, I wouldn’t be so sure. He’s been pretty mum about the assassination of al-Awlaki, rare stuff after taking down such a “major target.”

    While we know all or most of the details on the bin Laden takedown, details about the al-Alwaki operation (a secretive and illegal operation) have been sketchy. There’s a reason for this: Obama’s a smart man and he knows that his actions in Yemen are questionable at a minimum and a violation of international law in reality.

    So here’s my question to you, Glenn:

    You’re NOT the president. You’re a human being, one who respects international law and human rights. You can support the assassination of an American citizen without trial and without formal charges against him or you can condemn it.

    What do you do?

  • Jordan Richardson

    I wouldn’t argue that it’s simple, Glenn. Just the opposite.

    You suggest that the situation on the ground in Yemen was so volatile that the government would’ve had “other priorities” than to help bring in al-Awlaki. This is pure speculation to an extent, but you may have a point.

    On that end, it is true that the Yemeni situation was volatile and that the government was less than concerned with tracking operatives.

    On the other end, though, lies the fact that al-Awlaki probably wasn’t going anywhere and probably could’ve been brought in eventually. It could reasonably be argued that the damage done by assassinating him may have created more animosity than leaving him in hiding would have. That, admittedly, is pure speculation.

    But as that article reveals, a US citizen believed to be involved in terrorism was killed by a CIA drone attack in 2002. After that, the CIA stopped the drone attacks until the Obama Administration fired them up again.

    Unfortunately, US involvement during these times of political upheaval in Yemen has served to further inflame radical Muslim sensibilities.

    From an operations standpoint, no it’s not simple.

    But from an ethical standpoint, it’s still a violation of international law, it’s still an assassination of an American citizen without charges or trial, and it’s still a continuance of the notion that the US can do whatever it wants wherever it wants in its war on terror – laws be damned.

    As to “making it seem” like the Yemeni government was a puppet controlled by the US, it’s common knowledge that the Yemeni government effectively “outsources” its counterterrorism efforts to the American forces. This fact has, again, inflamed fundamentalists and others in the region.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan #117 –

    I had just posted #118 when I saw your second comment, and I’ll state for the record that it is rare that a president is able to choose idealism over pragmatism.

    Jordan, you’re the president. You see the allegations of the CIA and British intelligence about al-Alwaki, and then you see what al-Alwaki himself said in March of 2010 (one month before Obama sanctioned his assassination):

    “I, for one, was born in the U.S. I lived in the U.S. for 21 years. America was my home. I was a preacher of Islam involved in nonviolent Islamic activism. However, with the American invasion of Iraq and continued U.S. aggression against Muslims, I could not reconcile between living in the U.S. and being a Muslim, and I eventually came to the conclusion that jihad against America is binding upon myself, just as it is binding on every other able Muslim.”

    So again, Jordan – you’re the president. When the CIA shows you what they know, do you take the CIA’s word as most presidents have? Granted, the CIA has sometimes been wrong with disastrous results (Bay of Pigs)…but I really don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say they’re right a lot more often than they’re wrong.

    But back to YOUR decision – the CIA’s pointing out all the alleged plots al-Alwaki’s been a part of, and by his own statement he’s NOT going to stop – it is his religious DUTY (and as a very religious man, I understand the depth of the meaning of ‘religious duty’).

    Okay, so you’re also informed that the military can’t wait offshore to try to catch him, and the status of Yemen itself is so unstable that you KNOW that if you sent in America troops, the old saw about good intentions paving the road to Gehenna might once more be proven.

    So you’ve a choice – you can ignore the warnings of the CIA and the statement of al-Alwaki himself and ALLOW al-Alwaki to continue as he has been doing (since Yemen’s in no condition to do anything about it in early 2010), or you can do something about it.

    Obama decided to do something about it. He could no longer depend on Yemeni help…so he took the only other option he had.

    Jordan, there’s no president who served a year or more who never had innocent blood on his hands, and I don’t think it’s wrong to say many or most or perhaps even all of them had innocent American blood on their hands. The difference about Obama is that he allowed it to become public…and perhaps he had no choice, for if he had tried to keep it hushed up and it came out that he’d initiated such a cover-up, where would that have led?

    Again, rare indeed is the time that a president gets to choose idealism over pragmatism.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    Good reply – I wish that everyone who writes rebuttals would do so, so thoughtfully and objectively.

    And here comes the “but”:

    Since 2004, a civil war has been fought in Northern Yemen between Yemeni forces and Shiite Houthi rebels. In 2009, the war spilled over into the neighboring border region of Saudi Arabia. This conflict is increasingly becoming a danger to regional stability, according to news reports by CNN and the BBC, as various countries are said to be involved, e.g. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan. The United Nations and UNDP Yemen report a growing problem of civilians fleeing from the region. Yemen is said to have more than 60 million guns. The 2009 South Yemen insurgency has further destabilized the country.


    On January 3, 2010, the U.S. and British embassies in Yemen closed for security reasons after the failed plot to bomb a plane in Detroit and after reports of eight individuals planning an attack on the embassy itself. One was arrested with a suicide vest, while three others were killed. Four remained at large as of January 4, 2010. Despite these tensions between the US and Yemen, as well as increasing worries about terrorism in Yemen, President Obama has stated that he has no plans to introduce US military forces into the country, a sentiment that was echoed by US General David Petraeus. However, the terrorism worries seemed justified as a foiled terrorist plot was apparently conceived in Yemen. Instead of military intervention, the US government intends to increase military aid to $140 million in 2010.

    Note the timing of the attempted attack on the embassy – January 2010. Add that to the instability of the entire region – uprisings inside Yemen, South Yemen, and just across the border in Saudi Arabia – and it becomes clear that finding and arresting one single man wanted by the U.S. suddenly isn’t that high on the list of priorities of the Yemeni government.

    That, and Obama wisely decided that it would be a really bad idea to send U.S. troops into Yemen…so even in the eyes of the president, al-Alwaki was important, but refraining from further destabilizing the region was even more important.

    Now all this is as of January 2010. Obama approved the assassination of al-Alwaki in April 2010. The search goes on, the Yemeni government continues to hang on with some difficulty…

    …and then comes the Arab Spring a year later, which provides even more incentive for Obama to not send U.S. troops into the area.

    So I hope you see that it’s not as cut and dried as it would seem – there’s many, many more factors to consider, and I would think that putting American boots on the ground (even with government approval) would certainly be more offensive to the population than the drone-bombing which, while still offensive, can be seen as aid to the Yemeni government without making it seem as if the Yemeni government is a puppet controlled by the U.S. – which is certainly how it would seem if we’d sent our troops in there. Witness how angry the Pakistanis were when we sent troops in to get bin Laden even though we’d been drone-bombing the region for years!

    It’s not so simple, is it? Obama faced a very, very difficult choice, and I refuse to condemn him for that choice if I can’t think of a better way he could have approached the problem.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Rachel Maddow poses a good question:

    “Can the United States government choose an American citizen to be executed without ever charging them with anything, without ever proving anything against them, without ever giving them a chance to defend themselves? Whether or not you think it is deserved, under what authority did President Obama or could any president sign him up to be killed on sight?”

    And this piece details how a legal team was drafted to ensure that the panel, a subset of the National Security Council, could draft the death warrant for al-Awlaki.

    From that article:

    “There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council.

    Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.”

    How does this not bother you, Glenn?

    Is it because you can’t see yourself making the choice between rule of law and America’s “interests?” What about simple morality and America’s “interests?”

    Those are the choices Obama had.

  • Jordan Richardson


    The Wikipedia entry lists allegations regarding Anwar al-Awlaki. It also cites the numerous opportunities the United States had to prosecute, capture and/or convict him – including shortly after 9/11 when he was actually a media source regarding the events. At the time, the FBI thought he was “at the center of the attacks.”

    The Wikipedia entry also notes that al-Awlaki was “the first imam to conduct a prayer service at the U. S. Capitol.” This was in 2002, again when the FBI still thought the cleric was at the “center of the attacks.”

    The trouble was, as it always was, the lack of evidence. Like with the passport issues I cited in my earlier comment, there just wasn’t anything tangible to connect al-Awlaki to the events.

    In 2006, al-Awlaki was actually arrested in Yemen by Yemeni authorities by request of the United States. He was interviewed (in 2007) by two FBI agents regarding 9/11 and Yemeni officials were fine with that. He was held in a Yemeni prison for 18 months at that point.

    The fact that the Yemeni government has been nothing but cooperative with the United States regarding al-Awlaki seems to fly in the face of the logic that America needed to by an “occupying force” in order to have access to the prisoner.

    This is further solidified by the fact that the Yemeni Air Force tried to kill him (and thought they did on Christmas Eve 2009).

    So given the fact that the Yemeni authorities indeed were so cooperative and were so intent on having al-Awlaki’s head on a platter, the notion that he wasn’t accessible seems wrong.

    Yemen, furthermore, was not a war zone in the legal sense. Only under America’s broad “war on terror,” in which the entire planet is apparently a war zone if “terrorists” can be found, does it count.

    For every one terrorist or terrorist planner killed, there are ten ready to take his or her place. That’s a fact. American actions in the aforementioned regions of the world have not helped in quashing anti-American sentiment, so I would think that a different choice would involve a solution that doesn’t continue to inflame sentiment against America and provoke the notion that the world is America’s playground in which they can kill whoever they want whenever they want.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    and Jordan –

    Don’t you think that both the Obama administration and our military would have LOVED to have been able to capture the guy? It’s not like we didn’t want to capture the guy. We wanted to capture him and interrogate him, the whole nine yards. But we simply could not do so, and so we took the only other available option.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Jordan –

    Glenn, I’m not sure if you’ve answered this up thread or not, but how exactly have you determined that there were no alternatives to assassinating Anwar al-Awlaki? What intelligence insight do you have that we lack?

    1 – I suggest you read the wealth of terrorist acts that he is connected to, whether as spiritual adviser or in the planning and training stages. As far as I can tell, even bin Laden wasn’t involved with this many acts against the U.S.

    2 – We know that unlike KSM, al-Alwaki was NOT in a nation that was occupied by American troops, where our troops could NOT go where they wanted to in force if they so desired.

    3 – The applicable military maxim is: Amateurs talk firepower, and professionals talk logistics. All the might and the firepower on the planet won’t help you if you can’t get it to where it needs to be, when it needs to be there.

    Osama bin Laden was literally a stationary target, whereas al-Alwaki was not…and since we could not have a group of SpecOps troops secretly standing by on Yemeni soil (along with the SpecOps helicopters to ferry them, and the support facilities and staff to maintain those helicopters), the ONLY way we could have troops at the ready to go capture al-Alwaki was to have at least two teams (and their helicopters) standing twelve-on, twelve-off shifts on board a Navy ship (which would have to be larger than a cruiser, either a carrier or a gator-freighter) ready to go at any time whenever intel showed that al-Alwaki was at a definite location.

    Problem is, given the unlikely event that the Navy would assign a fleet of ships (for no gator-freighter or carrier cruises alone for obvious reasons), and particularly since the fleet would have to be constantly resupplied and the crews would be at each others’ throats as the months wore on of simply cutting circles in the water waiting for ONE man to show up where they could get him…

    …even if the Navy would do all that (and I can assure you they would NOT), and even if the operation to get the SpecOps troops airborne within five minutes went flawlessly, it would still be a full hour before those troops could get to wherever al-Alwaki was last sighted.

    And given the fact that he almost certainly tended to spend most of his time at armed-and-guarded al-Qaeda camps, would we have been eager to send a couple easily-shot-down helos into such a location?

    I hope this is helping you to begin to understand just how close to impossible the notion of capturing al-Alwaki really was…and we were unwilling to risk the lives of any more of our troops to capture him.

    So again I toss the ball into your side of the court – given that it was all but impossible to capture al-Alwaki, and given that he had been involved in most of the major terrorist plots against America since 9/11 (inclusive), and given that the Yemeni judiciary had already literally called for al-Alwaki dead or alive but could not hope to capture or kill him themselves (especially since there are not a few al-Qaeda sympathizers in the Yemeni government and military), what alternative did Obama really have?

    Obama’s choice was simple: either kill the guy, or allow him to continue to help with the training of more terrorists, and the planning of more terrorist attacks.

    If you can point out a different choice that Obama could have taken, I’d be very happy to hear it, because the LAST thing I want is for some Republican nutcase to use this as a precedent to assassinate American citizens that he feels present a threat to what he thinks is America.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Glenn, I’m not sure if you’ve answered this up thread or not, but how exactly have you determined that there were no alternatives to assassinating Anwar al-Awlaki? What intelligence insight do you have that we lack?

    If I’m not mistaken, al-Awlaki was under warrant for federal arrest as long ago as 2002, but that was dropped due to a lack of “timely evidence.” The allegation at the time was that he’d used false information to procure a passport and a Social Insurance Number. The trouble was insufficient evidence, so they had to drop the warrant.

    Also at the time, the federal prosecutors in Colorado received “no evidence” or information of possible ties to terrorists.

    With the strikes ordered on al-Awlaki by Obama, it was stated that the cleric had moved on to a role of “actively participating in terrorist activities.” There was no evidence of this presented, however, and that’s where the notion of his being an “imminent threat” to the United States comes under some argument.

    And when you consider that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured and put through the legal paces, complete with legal counsel, you have to wonder why the same wasn’t afforded to al-Awlaki – especially if the United States had the go-ahead of the Yemeni government to operate.

    And that’s to say nothing of the drone murders of al-Awlaki’s teenaged relatives, surely serious terrorist threats in their own rights.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    Glenn would be FAR less comfortable with the Alwaki precedent, if it were set by the Bush administration. IT’s all about cheering on the team, see?

    WRONG. If I only cheered for the Dems, then WHY is it that I have repeatedly said Reagan was one of our five greatest presidents? WHY is it I have repeatedly said that Bush Sr. was a courageous president?

    But because I pound on Dubya again and again and again, well, THAT must mean I hate ALL Republican presidents. Is that it?

    Here’s a challenge, Cannonshop – find me even ONE BC conservative who has defended or even bragged on Democratic presidents as much as I have about Reagan and Bush.


    Can you? No, you can’t…but you’ll never even entertain the possibility that I might be a fairly objective person when it comes to politics, because THAT would imply that (gasp!) I’m not a simple Obamabot who thinks that all Dems are good and all GOP are bad, huh?

    Answer the challenge, Cannoshop – show us even ONE BC conservative who has defended or bragged on Democratic presidents as much as I have for Reagan and Bush Sr.

    Your turn.

    P.S. I would have defended Dubya if he had killed al-Alwaki for the same reason I defend Obama – there was NO OTHER reasonable and viable alternative. Perhaps you aren’t aware that at one point I also agreed with Cindy about Obama was wrong about the assassination of al-Alwaki…but when I figured out that there were ZERO alternatives available to the president, I had to instead defend Obama for it.

    P.P.S. ANSWER THE CHALLENGE, Cannonshop!

  • I would remind Clavos, as he refers to “the Muslims” en masse, that it is only a tiny minority that want to annihilate the US. And only a tinier subset of them who are actively doing something about it.

    Best to say “the Islamist extremists.” Otherwise you’re including a lot of moderates and apolitical religious people and secular people who are nominally Muslim.

  • @109

    In other words, secterian thinking …

  • It is the continuation of polarization along phony lines of political distinction that is that is ESSENTIAL to keeping in place what would require a thoroughly bipartisan effort to dislodge.

    Let’s all…I don’t know…PINKY-PROMISE to do our best to avoid counterproductive outbursts such as, “but that’s not as bad as what Bush did” or, “but Obama screwed things up worse…”

  • zingzing

    good. then we are in agreement.

  • Zingzing, Cannonshop had already described it as an equal opportunity phenomenon, back in #18:

    “…it’s not “Liberalism” that is the disease, it’s FANATICISM, that weird mix of bunker-mentality and self-righteousness which afflicts ALL who cling to their “Team” of choice and treat the business of our nations as another sporting-event where one must root for ‘the team’ regardless of what reason, logic, or performance might indicate.

    I know this trap, and so do you-we ALL fall into it from time to time.”

  • Zingzing

    “Glenn would be FAR less comfortable with the Alwaki precedent, if it were set by the Bush administration. IT’s all about cheering on the team, see? The fundamental non-consistency, is that actions that are repellent when taken by one party, are quite acceptable, even laudable, when taken by the other party.”

    I’ve argued similar things in the past, and I hope you don’t excuse yourself from such faults, because I’m damn sure you’re no more innocent of them.

    But ask yourself this: which administration do you think Glenn trusts more? Yes, if bush had done it, glenn’s reaction may well be different. But bush was bush, and bush was Cheney. Don’t act as if these things don’t matter. Just as you were probably more happy with tarp when bush did it than you were when Obama did it. Or maybe you weren’t, but don’t be frontin’ that this is a trait of one side and not another.

  • Cannonshop

    #103 Jordan, recalling the furor over GitMo, I suspect the disconnect you’re struggling with is this:

    Glenn would be FAR less comfortable with the Alwaki precedent, if it were set by the Bush administration. IT’s all about cheering on the team, see? The fundamental non-consistency, is that actions that are repellent when taken by one party, are quite acceptable, even laudable, when taken by the other party.

    In this case, an action which would draw the ire of loyal Dems like Glenn Contrarian if a Republican (Rethuglican?) Presidency did them, are instead greeted as being within a range from “prgamatic” agreement, to “Heroic Status”.

    It has nothing to do with the legal precedent or mechanics, and everything to do with whether or not one supports the man in the White House.

    Party Loyalty Uber Alles.

  • As Glenn is a committed believer in superstition, does he actually meet the definition of a “reasonably intelligent and educated adult”?

    Personally, I remain opposed to any state killing people outside of a closely defined legal framework in the context of a war and in my opinion don’t consider that this particular case meets that definition.

    That’s not to say that the world isn’t a better place without Al-alwaki, because it probably is but as the old saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Clavos has it right with #102.

    From my point of view, if I refuse the context of imperialism, ceaseless warfare and the continued encroachment of American forces on lands that aren’t theirs, I can’t very well suggest a position of assassination (and it was an assassination as al-Awaki was no combatant).

    al-Awaki’s assassination came about because he was considered a “bad dude.” He wasn’t convicted of a crime and he wasn’t an “imminent threat.”

    The precedent the assassination sets is a dangerous one. If “we the people” can’t criticize or oppose the situation without “suggesting an alternative,” as Glenn says, Americans can watch more human rights erode under the pretext of the government’s moral judgement.

    I don’t know about you, but that’s a slippery slope I’d rather not go down. What we’re talking about here is the assassination of an American citizen that the president considers to be a threat. I’m surprised you’re so comfortable with the notion, frankly.

    As an aside, you simply can’t divorce the Iraq occupation and operations in other theatres of war from Obama. He attempted to continue the Iraqi occupation (he wanted at least four bases and their associated troops), he continued and increased the drone attacks in Pakistan (violating international law in the process) and he has continued to increase spending for military operations (he raised the base funding for the Pentagon by $17 billion for the 2012 fiscal year).

    Because the military industrial complex is ingrained in the American political power structure, it really doesn’t matter who you slap in as president.

  • zingzing

    clavos: “‘Tis a puzzlement…”

    yes it is. i think that they (terrorists) are acting out in the wrong way. but we obviously pushed them too far. they sat with it for a long time, and then they fucking went bonkers. a reasonable person (or nation) would not retaliate in kind (on exponential levels). a reasonable person would say, “let’s settle this like human beings, with lives to live, because life is precious to every one of us.”

    i know you’ve said at some point that the terrorists won’t quit until we kill them all. maybe you didn’t say those exact words, but that was the sentiment i got off of you. do you still stand by that idea, or do you think we should be like the latin americans or the vietnamese and try to work it out like people who don’t want to kill or die for this bullshit?

  • Clavos

    But the point is, I strongly feel that it’s not right for a reasonably intelligent and educated adult to complain about something without being able to suggest a viable and reasonable alternative.

    Sorry, Glenn, I have and continue to disagree with that premise.

    If I see things wrong in something over which I have no control, it is decidedly not incumbent upon me to have a solution at hand when I report the deficiency to those who do have control over it.

    For example, if I see a traffic light out of order, reporting it to the proper authorities is sufficient; it’s their job to know how to fix it and to do so, not mine.

  • Clavos

    No games, zing. Especially since I wasn’t trying to excuse the behavior of the US; the Mexican side of me is sorely offended by Americans and their country, and virtually none of my friends in Latin America — not one — is not offended in some way by the presence (and activities) of El Norte in our hemisphere.

    That they (the Muslim world) are offended I don’t doubt; historically, practically everyone in the world has been offended by the US at one time or another; Mr. Obama managed not long ago to offend even the Brits with his “gifts.”

    The transgressions of the US against the Muslim world in modern times, especially on the part of GWB, have been egregious in the extreme.

    But, the Vietnamese (who suffered immensely at the hands of Americans) haven’t sworn to annihilate America, and they certainly have reason to…

    ‘Tis a puzzlement…

  • And I can think of others who are over-intelligent and over-educated for their own good, which also presents a problem.

  • All the BC Politics denizens are reasonably intelligent and educated

    I can think of one or two for whom the phrase “you could have fooled me” springs to mind… 🙂

  • Zingzing

    Well, I was speaking of Pakistan, not the al-alwaki killing. Pakistan is far too delicate and complex a situation, and I’m ignorant of many things that are crucial to the decision-making in that area. I could make something up as to what I’d do if I were president, but I’m sure that would change significantly if I did find myself in that position. So I’d rather not say one way or another and continue to trust that I’ll never find myself needing to. I’m of two minds about it.

    As for al-alwaki, it’s a tough situation, and I don’t think Obama could have escaped criticism no matter what he had done. But you do have to applaud the fact that it wasn’t kept secret, knowing that criticism was coming his way. That he did it, or more precisely, that he felt it had to be done, is regrettable. It is a dangerous precedent, although I doubt it’s as much the precedent as people are making it out to be. That would be naive. But again, I don’t believe I’m in the position to accurately judge it. It could be that it truly was the only safe and sure way. It could also be that it was unconstitutional murder. The truth lies in between. I’m hoping and trusting that it’s closer to the former, but that’s all I can truthfully do.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    and Zing –

    At first, I agreed with Cindy that the assassination of al-Alwaki set a very dangerous precedent, for the liberal in me can very easily see a Republican president deciding to assassinate those American citizens he sees as threats. Think Nixon.

    But OTOH, I racked my brain to think of what viable and reasonable alternative that Obama had…and there isn’t one. So since he had NO real alternative, while I may not like what he did (and I don’t), neither will I condemn him for issuing that command…for as far as I can see, short of invading Yemen with a sizable military force to track down one man (bin Laden was a stationary target, remember), there was no other way…

    …except, if I had been Obama, I would have tried to keep the knowledge of the assassination from the general public.

    Remember, zing – every president (except for perhaps the really short-lived ones) had or has innocent blood on his hands.


  • Glenn Contrarian

    zing –

    I don’t know what I’d do. It’s complex and I don’t have all the information I need.

    But that’s the problem – we’re adults. We don’t have the luxury of crying because something’s wrong and we don’t know what to do about it but please mommy just do something to make it all better.

    Please understand that I’m not being sarcastic or snide in that previous paragraph.

    But the point is, I strongly feel that it’s not right for a reasonably intelligent and educated adult to complain about something without being able to suggest a viable and reasonable alternative.

    All the BC Politics denizens are reasonably intelligent and educated, and as such I demand that if they’re going to complain about what the president does, then he or she MUST provide a viable and reasonable alternative…and I hold myself to that same standard.

    So again, I ask to all – what viable and reasonable alternative did Obama have with the assassination of al-Alwaki? You’re not children – you’re all intelligent and educated adults. Or, to put it more crudely (and without meaning any disrespect), put up or shut up.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I agree with you that they’re not taking religion into account – even if America got completely out of the Middle East and publicly and personally kissed the behinds of the Wahhabis and even paid them billions to boot, they’d still attack us. Why? It’s part of their religion.

    BUT the Brits did offend the Muslims in a very real way. Google “twice-promised land”, where the Crown had already promised Palestine to the Palestinians but then gave it instead to the Jews as a much-deserved reward to a Jewish chemist who essentially saved the British Navy (and by extension, ensured the eventual victory) in WWI – Chaim Weizmann, who IIRC was also the first prime minister of Israel.

    But the Muslims really don’t consider the reward that the reward that Weizmann asked for – and the crown gave – as quite kosher – ahem, halal. Palestine was Muslim land that was promised to be returned to them, and the Brits reneged on the agreement…

    …which led to something very similar to the partition between Ireland and Northern Ireland, only much worse by every measure.

  • zingzing

    “Because that’s how long they’ve been opposing us.”

    and us them. always forgetting that part…

    and do you really think the higher-ups in the wahhabi believe that stuff? or do you think it’s about money and power?

    that’s how the sucker the money and lives off their followers, clavos, nothing else.

    you could say i’m only pretending to know that, but i could say you’re only pretending to know that religious domination is what they’re after. follow the money clavos. why does this logic elude you here an almost nowhere else?

    “And have the Brits also offended the Muslims? How?”

    really? come on. does our decision to side with israel have no consequences? the uk sides with the us. it sends soldiers to the middle east. what game are you trying to play?

  • Clavos

    So, OK.

    If we have brought upon ourselves the enmity of the Muslim world, have we been doing that since the days of the Barbary pirates? Because that’s how long they’ve been opposing us.

    And what of the Wahhabi? Is theirs not a religion-based grievance? How have we Westerners offended them? By practicing religions other than Islam?

    And have the Brits also offended the Muslims? How?

  • 🙂

  • @89

    So have I. You gave me the necessary push and a nudge.

  • I have overcome.

  • Here’s modus operandi fun that even Canadians can enjoy.

  • zingzing

    didn’t bin laden flatly state that he wanted the us military out of the middle east, and that’s why 9/11 happened?

    and what did we do? why, when we finally heard their complaints, or got a firm grip on the fact that they were not happy with us, we just up the ante. we pour it on.

    and why did we do it? because if we hadn’t, the terrorists would have won! and a decade and thousands (upon thousands) of deaths later… well, we needed any enemy after the end of the cold war. and the american narrative turns the page.

    there are so many idiots in this nation who still believe that fighting fire with fire will work. “they’ll never stop jihad until islam subjugates the globe,” they say. used to be, “they’ll never stop til communism subjugates the globe!” the narrative is very repetitive.

  • Kenn is absolutely right: terrorism doesn’t just spontaneously happen because the terrorists were bored.

    The terrorized generally see the acts/campaigns of terror as being unprovoked and out of all proportion to the offence, if indeed there was one. As a Brit, I certainly looked at the Provisional IRA that way.

    But it can’t hurt, surely, to find out what motivated the terrorism (as long as it isn’t a reason we invent for convenience, e.g. “They hate us for our freedoms” [eye roll]); and to investigate whether maybe, just maybe, they have a legitimate grievance that ought to be acknowledged and addressed.

    You never know, they might stop.

    The IRA did.

  • zingzing


  • zingzing

    it must be a us-only thing.

    it leads to an ad for Soda Unisex Modus Operandi Aviator Sunglasses. which, as everybody knows, are terribly overpriced pieces of crap.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I don’t see any links or ads or anything, but if someone was trying to sell you a modus operandi I’d run the other way – unless it came in plaid.

  • zingzing

    well, i wouldn’t leave the gov’t out of the corporatism game. corporate influence over gov’t has gone too far. in a fight where the corporations and the people are at odds, the gov’t should side with the people. but if something that’s good for corporations is also good for the people, there’s no fight and the gov’t should help create the environment that will produce that “good,” even if that means butting out. what we’re seeing now is corporations running roughshod over the people. if corporations knew what was good for them in the long run, they’d reign themselves in a bit. but that’s not what they’re doing.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Yes, libertarians have a lot in common with the left. That is generally how you can tell who the true lefties and libertarians are. We both abhor war and militarism. We both stand for human rights.

    The big differences are with economics, but even there we can find common ground. Corporatism is an enemy of both ideologies. However, libertarians believe corporatism is caused by government and lefties believe it is caused by capitalism.

  • Zingzing

    Kenn, you do realize you sound like a good old leftie, right? To suggest that America maybe did something to provoke 9/11… Never a thought that should be thunk. We are golden and blameless.

  • Zingzing

    Glenn: “So…zing – what would you do if you were the president? Would you gamble the safety and prosperity of the West (imagine the impact of just one nuke in the financial heart of NYC) on whether the people of Pakistan would be able to rightly determine their fate? Would you?”

    I don’t know what I’d do. It’s complex and I don’t have all the information I need.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Countries that experience terrorist threats and acts are usually ones that have wronged the perpetrators. Spain has her Basques. The British had the IRA. The Russians have the Chechians (excuse the spelling) and Israel has Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc, etc, etc. America has Islamists because we have for decades encouraged overthrow of popular government, propped up corrupt, brutal regimes, and intervened militarily when it suited our purposes. All was done in the name of keeping the lifeblood of western industrialism flowing – oil. Islamist want to kill us not because we are “free” but because we have rigged the system so that millions have not been able to take advantage of oil wealth while the West has grown and prospered because of it.

  • Handyguy, “simple”, more accurately describes #55, a distilled version of a what could be a radical rejection of a cruel, short-sighted but long-standing foreign policy. Simple isn’t the same as “simplistic.”

    I won’t join in the ridicule of someone who is encouraging us — all of us — to join forces to demand something different. It’s time.

  • I’m not seeing those links in the comments, but that might be cos they are being geo-targetted.

    Anyway, it is nothing to do with BC but Technorati, with which we have no communication or influence. Possibly our publisher does, but we editors have no input to the higher levels.

  • @70

    No doubt, but we all suffer from myopia now and then.

  • It’s BC’s ‘innovative’ new ad policy, Irene. We can shill for sunglasses and CDs without leaving our chairs.

  • Kenn’s simplistic #55 drew quick assents from Irene, Roger, even Jordan. I would say zing’s take — that this is a highly complicated matter unlikely to be solved by a one-sentence solution — is far closer to the mark.

    I’ve been a “War on Terror” skeptic since at least 2005. It’s an aspect of the Obama presidency that resonates far less well with me than other policies. Ironically, it has this year gotten him a lot of praise and support from both the media pundits and the public, with the deaths of bin Laden, al Awlaki, and Qaddafi. And I don’t think the world will miss those three very much.

  • OK, that is freaking weird. I didn’t put any hypertext in my comment. Maybe you didn’t either.

  • Yes Jordan, the campaign of imperialism has been going on for a very long time. More than a hundred years ago, it inspired some of the most cynical writings of Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and, only a bit more recently, was the subject of scathing and eye-opening criticism from former US Marine Major General Smedley Butler. (Unfortunately, the only commentary on Smedley on this thread has been a wise-crack about the man’s first name.)

    BTW, I was interested in your modus operandi link…but it ended up at a sunglasses ad???

  • Jordan Richardson

    An observation you could’ve made dozens of times by now had you been paying any fair attention.

  • @62&68

    Encouraging to see a split in the ranks, evidence of independent thinking.

    No sarcasm intended, no intention to hurt anyone’s feelings, just an observation.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Gonna have to agree with Kenn, here. The United States’ ongoing campaign of imperialism, one that’s been the country’s modus operandi for far too long, hasn’t exactly yielded the greatest of results.

    I’m also noticing the disturbingly ease at which Glenn makes use of the Jack Bauer-inspired “ticking time bomb” mythology – a mythology that has served the neo-cons rather well in coercing many of the world’s most gullible nation-states into endless, needless wars.

  • Glenn, how do you know that Al Awlaki couldn’t be captured?

  • Kenn Jacobine

    Glenn, #59

    The fact is that all the rhetoric about nukes falling into the wrong hands is overblown. If the ruler in Pakistan is a dictator how does that make you comfortable that he has nukes? I mean he may not use them against us but he could have used them against India.

    But he didn’t Glenn. And that is the point. The Soviet Union had evil and crazy dictators but they always pulled back from using nukes and we always negotiated with them out of survival.

    I am going to say something earth shattering. I think the world might be safer for Americans if Iran developed a bomb. That development might keep our leaders from launching all these senseless wars in the M.E. It might make the Israeli’s negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians – not just land, but water rights, and civil rights. Given that our military currently surrounds Iran on all sides it would provide more of a balance of power in a region that desperately needs it. I have no proof, only what a colleague of mine in Qatar has told me – the U.S. has nukes in Qatar pointed at Iran. This is sort of like the Cuban Missile Crisis and how upset our leaders were over it. See, you have to put yourself in the shoes of others to realize that the U.S. is not always blameless in causing international terrorism.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    “Last I recall, we didn’t have much of a bombing campaign against them prior to 9/11.”. You are joking right. I mean the comment doesn’t deserve a response.

    As to religion’s role in terrorism, I guess all Christians are terrorist because over a thousand years ago they launched Crusades against Islam. It is ridiculous to lump all people under one label. That is what you have done with Muslims and you do it with so-called libertarians as well by saying we helped elect Dubya. You practice revisionist history all the time.

    So I guess it was okay for Obama to also murder al-Awlaki’s 16 year old son? Drone attack on a 16 year old, Glenn! He should be brought before the Hague for a war crimes trial.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    zing –

    I do appreciate your constructive criticism and acknowledge it as such. In my defense, I chose my pseudonym “Glenn Contrarian” for that reason, since I do my best to support the choice that is most effective, most pragmatic, best for the greatest number of people, and best for America…and as liberal as I truly feel myself to be, if a strictly neo-con position is the best choice to preserve the safety and prosperity of the West, then I’ll support that neo-con position.

    If supporting a dictator in order to keep nukes out of the hands of al-Qaeda makes me a neo-con, then so be it – “Contrarian”, remember? But if you’ll remember, I’m strongly in favor of significantly slicing our military budget…and major cuts to the military is NOT a part of the neo-con platform, is it?

    If you’ve got a better idea to minimize the ability of al-Qaeda to regain strength and threaten so that they might once more threaten to overthrow the Pakistani government (and get their hands on the nukes), I’m all ears. Until then, I’m sticking with supporting what has worked so for…

    …because if we allowed the dictator of Pakistan to fall, sure, the people might get a chance to democratically determine their fate…but probably not. It’s more likely IMO that fundamentalists would take over, and that would raise the spectre of nukes in the hands of al-Qaeda.

    So…zing – what would you do if you were the president? Would you gamble the safety and prosperity of the West (imagine the impact of just one nuke in the financial heart of NYC) on whether the people of Pakistan would be able to rightly determine their fate? Would you?

    I don’t think you would. I don’t think Roger or Cindy or Irene or Kenn or pablo would either, if given the same choice of whether to gamble with the safety and prosperity of the West…but they’d never publicly agree with it because such would go counter to so many of their stated opinions on BC. What about you?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    pablo –

    George Washington rejected the use of torture in the darkest hours of the American Revolution. Torture is wrong, always wrong. Don’t ever assume I’d think otherwise.

    And I’m still waiting for you to tell me what you would have done in Obama’s shoes faced with the same set of choices I listed above. It’s a hard question, one that I’ve asked of every single person on BC who’s spoken out against the assassination of al-Alwaki…and not a single one of you has come up with a viable or reasonable alternative action that the president could have taken. To be fair, Kenn tried…until I showed him that the realities of military logistics made a live capture of al-Alwaki all but impossible.

    So I’m still waiting, pablo – what other reasonable and viable choice did Obama have since he could NOT capture the guy alive. Obama could either kill the guy or allow al-Alwaki to continue killing Americans.

    I’m waiting for your answer.

  • zingzing

    kenn: “Did you ever consider that we need to prevent people from becoming terrorists in the first place? The way to do that is to stop bombing them, stop supporting corrupt dictators to rule over them, and stop supporting Israel unconditionally.”

    how clear it all becomes… isn’t this what the left has been saying since god knows when?

    glenn is right in that realpolitik does trump reason at times. and idealism gets you only so far. but i think glenn might be flirting a bit too much with the line that separates reason from realpolitik…

    glenn, you are beginning to sound a bit like a neocon. not totally, because you realize what it is you are supporting, but in effect, it’s pretty much the same, isn’t it?

    should we support a militaristic regime in pakistan? no. would we want all those nukes to fall into unknown hands? no… such are the real world difficulties of politics. we’ve made ourselves a nuclear target because of our adherence to realpolitik. cutting that shit out now could mean disaster. i live in a prime american target, so i have to say i don’t want to die. but i’d like for the people of pakistan to be free of their dictatorship.

    complex worlds necessitate complex answers. i’m not sure any of our simple answers are up to the task.

  • pablo

    Thanks Glenn for the clarification. Which only goes to show that IF in your opinion torture worked that it would be A OK by you!

    Murdering an American citizen without due process of law and contrary to the Treason clause in the US Constitution certainly works doesn’t it Glenn.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    pablo –

    You’re making a wrong assumption about the use of torture. Allied interrogators of WWII stood en masse against the torture policies of Bush, telling him that harsh interrogation techniques were not only ineffective, but tended to result in a wealth of FALSE information (like the WMD’s that Iraq never had). The techniques developed by the Allied interrogators of WWII which were subsequently included in the Army’s field manual of interrogation (and studiously ignored by Bush and the Republicans) are the most effective way to get quality intelligence from a captive.

    So don’t give me any bovine excrement about approval of torture. Bush and Cheney should be in front of the Hague for ever approving it.

    Sanctioning the assassination of an American citizen who (1) publicly trains terrorists on how to kill Americans, (2) assisted in the training of two or three of the 9/11 hijackers, and (3) could NOT be captured alive…

    …all that has squat to do with torture. Now, are you going to answer the question I issued to you, or not?

    P.S. – thanks for backing up what I said about the Philippine population being generally happier than the American population, for I just submitted an article that asked if the largely-libertarian way of life in the Philippines is responsible for the increased level of the population’s happiness.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    So…if we stop bombing al-Qaeda, will al-Qaeda stop being terrorists? Last I recall, we didn’t have much of a bombing campaign against them prior to 9/11.

    What you – and Irene and Roger – are missing is the role of religion and/or fanaticism when it comes to terrorism.

    Don’t get me wrong – as I pointed out to Irene above, there’s places we shouldn’t go and things we really shouldn’t do (and we really should NOT be supporting Israel financially). I really don’t like supporting corrupt dictators, but tell me, Kenn – there’s a dictator in Pakistan that we’re supporting. If we let him fall, whoever it is that takes his place also gets control of the nuclear weapons…and if you’ll recall, last year (or was it the year before that?) al-Qaeda brought a popular revolt uncomfortably close to the capital city.

    So which will it be, Kenn? Will you support the VERY corrupt dictator who’s keeping a tight rein on the nuclear weapons? Or will you stop supporting the dictator and possibly allow him to fall, which would put the nukes in the hands of whoever it is that replaces him?


    What you are doing – and sucking in Irene and Roger along with it – is dressing up idealism and calling it realpolitik. But I won’t let you get away with it.

  • pablo

    Glenn 52

    Picture this, you have captured a known terrorist and have him in custody. You have a very reliable source that informs you that the terrorist has valuable imminent knowledge about a wide-scale attack that is about go forward in das homeland. What do you do Glenny? Just as you would sanction the murder of an American by executive fiat, you would also sanction torture under these circumstances. Which in my book puts you in the same boat at the neo-con fascists.

    You suggest that the rule of law can be abandoned when exigent circumstances warrant it, however you fail to see the potential grave political ramifications of such action.

    Which is one of the fundamental reasons that I find your politics so abhorrent and chilling.

    On another front you mention the Philippines where we both reside, and of the abject poverty that exists here. Why is it do you think that so many Filipinos are happier than Americans? It is a glaringly obvious phenomenon. Everywhere I go here, I see friendly smiling faces. People laughing and carrying on. When I go back to the states most of what I see is gloom, and seriousness, and most people not being particularly friendly to those outside of their immediate circle. In point of fact the average Filipino is far happier as a human being than his/her counterpart in the West.

  • I second.

  • #55 Now that’s Realpolitik.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    Did you ever consider that we need to prevent people from becoming terrorists in the first place? The way to do that is to stop bombing them, stop supporting corrupt dictators to rule over them, and stop supporting Israel unconditionally. These things just don’t occur to you and that is why you are as bad as the neocons.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Irene –

    1 – I’m presently in a country that is run largely by libertarianism (Philippines, as with almost any other third-world nation)…and it well and truly sucks for those who don’t have much money. I’d love to invite you here to see how the majority of the population lives as compared to those who have money…and I reallythink you’d change your mind about the benefits of living in a nation where there’s no social safety net to speak of, no medical care if you can’t afford it, no unemployment insurance, little or no regulation of business, and a weak government that is almost small enough to be drowned in a bathtub.

    I’m here not because I want to live in a “libertarian paradise” (which isn’t much different from what were once called “communist paradises”), but because of family.

    And no, you can’t just go make a carrier a safe place for kids to play – tens of thousands of sharp metal edges, a non-skid deck that shreds knees on contact, and decades of hazardous materials soaked into the decks and bulkheads. The best uses for decommissioned ships are as artificial reefs for the fish, after being used for target practice by our subs.

    And going back to the Saudi-Bahrain-Libyan deal, I’ve got one word for you: realpolitik. You should know now that in my opinion, realpolitik usually (but not always) trumps idealism. For instance, I strongly support Obama’s recent move to send military advisers to help in the fight against the “Lord’s Resistance Army” so they can end its practice of rape and forcing children to become soldiers. But on the other hand, we should not mount a military operation large enough to, say, solve the humanitarian crisis in the Sudan, for there’s too great a chance that we’d become hopelessly embroiled in somewhere that we don’t want to be all over again.

    Realpoliltik, Irene – pragmatism over idealism in most cases. That’s my answer.

  • Glenn Contrarian who I wish was libertarian, thank you for your answer, which, unfortunately contained no reaction to my link about the Saudi-Bahrain-Libyan-no-fly-zone deal.

    On a personal note, yeah, I can imagine it would be VERY hard to see a vessel that had meant so much to you be scrapped. If it were up to me, I’d have it put in a park, and made safe so that it could be something kids could play in. OK see ya.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    pablo –

    Picture this: you’re the president. You’ve got a terrorist that you canNOT capture, who is using his experience in the United States to train terrorists to kill Americans…and this particular terrorist even helped train two or three of the 9/11 hijackers.

    Again, you CAN’T capture the guy – the realities of military logistics prevents there from being any hope of that…and the judiciary of the country where he’s at has already called for his body dead or alive.

    SO WHAT DO YOU DO, pablo? You can’t capture him. You can kill him, but you can’t capture him. So do you go ahead and kill him? OR DO YOU ALLOW HIM TO CONTINUE TRAINING TERRORISTS to kill tens, hundreds, thousands of Americans?

    ANSWER THE HARD QUESTION. What do you do, pablo?

  • Haven’t abandoned anything, stand by every word, but I’m not going to engage in any discussion about it with you.

    As I stated in the comment right after your own, the posting was made as a matter of public interest. It was addressed to you, however, for contextual and courtesy reasons.

    Nothing more to say.

  • So basically you make remarks and then abandon them? Your own words mean nothing to you, so no surprise you don’t take those of others seriously. No wonder people have issues with you…

  • Look, I don’t have a dog in this hunt, not anymore. Don’t really give a shit what you do once I’m gone and my visits here will be infrequent and selective.

    I posted this comment for public consumption. Take it personally or take it not, macht nichts to me.

  • Roger, in what way exactly am I untouchable? I think you are entirely mistaken about this, as with most others, alas.

  • There you go again, Mr. Untouchable.

  • Roger, it is my opinion that it is you that is naive in every context and meaning of the word I can imagine.

    I don’t accept that my opinions carry more weight than anybody else’s; indeed, unless I sign my comment thusly:-

    Christopher Rose
    Blogcritics Comments Editor

    I am mostly only speaking as an individual. If my personal comments have any merit or weight with anybody else, it is hopefully because they are closely reasoned and coherently written.

    I stepped into this particular debate because lots of people had previously made the same point with regard to your responses, namely that you make stuff up, routinely misunderstood what is said to you and frequently abuse people outrageously too.

    All I’d like to see is that you stop all that crap and try and engage with people with a greater degree of openness, honesty and engagement. I think Jordan in particular has shown extreme patience to you whilst precisely depicting how you perform here. Unfortunately, you don’t appear capable of accepting the import of his thoughtful and patient remarks.

    It is frankly embarrassing for you to refer to the small handful of people who have been banned from this site for persistently and wilfully refusing to accept the extremely modest and tolerant comments policy of this site as casualties.

    Igor, as far as I can understand it, Roger is proposing to leave the site because he has been publicly addressed (told off?) in public by me for publicly abusing other commenters on the site. Isn’t that essentially the same as a kid storming off with his ball when losing a game?

    I don’t make the comments policy, which I consider to be one of the most tolerant on the entire internet. I apply it, but quite rarely, when people lose all self-restraint and abuse others. I wish that people would not deliberately do that and don’t understand why they continue doing so when they have had the comments policy explained to them patiently, politely and repeatedly. However, that is what they do and so we are left with no choice but to take action.

    Obviously everyone will have their own view but I don’t think Blogcritics, which has an amazingly “broad church” approach towards its content in terms of both articles and comments, is primarily or even mostly a vehicle for “personal vituperation and relentless propagandizing”.

    It follows then that I am not yet convinced of the case for needing a new model of content moderation, although whichever model we follow is outside of my control.

    I don’t understand your 1) and think 2) and 3) are far more prone to abuse and misuse than our current practices.

    BC publishes some 40 or 50 articles every single day and the debates in which Roger participates are appended to a very small subset of these. As such, it seems a bit of a stretch to argue that the entire site has become a “boring enclave for endless internecine bitching”.

    Indeed, you seem to be confusing the specific comments debates involving Roger’s alleged idiosyncrasies with the entire site when you write that “there are some contributors whose posts I consider worth reading”.

  • In fact, Igor, NewsVine, which is where I’ll be going, employs the second-mentioned model, though the author can be arbitrary as regards moderation but must be bound by Code of Honor and generally accepted rules.

  • Igor

    So, another person (at least) leaves BC.

    One wonders:”what is the underlying problem?”

    I think the problem is inappropriate moderation. Of course, everyone has his own idea of what is appropriate. Indeed, a good blogsite will be determined by the quality of it’s editor(s). Too many become vehicles for personal vituperation and relentless propagandizing.

    We need a new model. In the past I’ve seen models that (1) allow no permanent poster ID (each post stands on it’s own merits), (2) allow moderation only by the Original Poster, (3) have rich viewer filters to allow dynamic reader moderation, etc.

    Regardless, BC has become a boring enclave for endless internecine bitching. Although, there are some contributors whose posts I consider worth reading at least occasionally.

  • @35 Just read it.

    I’ll put some flesh on the bare bones since Costello hasn’t yet.

    It makes a world of difference, Chris, whether the comments originate from you or anybody else. I know you’re going to argue different, but let’s not be naive now. Your words carry a far greater weight here than anybody else’s, and not necessarily because your words are always words of wisdom (though occasionally the may be) but mainly because you’re endowed with the power to chastise, to edit, and to delete: in that sense, your words are “official.”

    This point has been raised before, and I’m certain will be raised again — but this is the bloody point which makes things so fucked up here — yet it’s being defended time and again in the name of the democratic process. To which I say, bullshit.

    Had you emailed me, things would have simmered down. Even without emailing me, the effect would have been the same, eventually: we would have worked things out in however messy way, But it is precisely because of your interference that your action cannot be interpreted as anything other than taking sides, an official taking sides. In a nutshell, the result was escalation beyond repair.

    Now, I don’t believe any of the participants have complained to you and asked for your intervention, but I may be wrong of course. In that case, you decided to make a move in public.

    What’s done is done, because I’ve already made up my mind, but there is an object lesson here for future reference. Chastising a person in public just ain’t the same as when anybody else tries to do that. Hell, the latter can be just laughed off and filed wherever one files such things. I can handle gang warfare, especially that gang, but not when a gang is sanctioned by the law, and you are the law. We’ve all seen the results of such conflicts in not so distant past. They’re casualties by now.

    It’s precisely this aspect and no other which turns the position of the comments editor into a deadly weapon. Nuff said.

    I beg your excuse for going back on my word not to engage you anymore, but since this matter has been raised before, I thought it important enough to bring to your attention. Perhaps it’s time to re-consider it again.

    And so, I respectfully bow out.

  • #40

    Will do, my man, once it’s official.

  • pablo


    You represent to me all that the Democratic Party has become, and I do mean that in the most reprehensible negative way possible.

    You have not problem with the extra-judicial murder of US Citizens, you have no problem with an executive waging war without an act of war as required by law. You are much more akin to a Neo-con, unfortunately that does reflect what the mainstream Democratic Party leaders have become. Pelosi, Reid, Obama, Panetta, what a bunch of s c u m b a g s.

    The rule of law to you is a convenience at best as you so clearly have illustrated by your sanctioning of the killing of US Citizens.

    And I suspect strongly that under the right or should I say “left” circumstances you would sanction torture just as easily as you have murder fella. Every time you open your mouth on here I want to gag.

  • pablo

    Hey Roger,

    What site/s you gonna go to? Lemme know, cuz this site is beat, and has been for some time.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Irene –

    There’s a BIG difference between (1) understanding WHY the military does something and (2) being for or against the MIC.

    Kenn did not (and does not) understand why the military could not take Alwaki alive. He does not understand why the SEALS were well-justified by military regulation in shooting bin Laden. Kenn does not understand that even though certain other areas will see an increase in military presence, ending the Iraq occupation WILL mean that tens of thousands of troops will be home for the holidays (despite what the Republicans want). Will the withdrawal be perfect? Of course not – but it’s a heck of a lot better than what the GOP insists upon. Unlike Kenn, I DO understand the military, and why there are very GOOD reasons behind some of the things the military does. Kenn, however, does not want to understand the military – he’s simply looking for talking points to attack the president.

    OTOH, Irene, I am strongly for slicing-and-dicing the military budget! I love the Navy – of course I do, having spent eight years out of my twenty on carriers – but I still think we need to let MY beloved carrier fleet go the way of the dinosaur along with quite a bit of the rest of our military.

    So do you see the difference, Irene? I understand the military viewpoint, regulations, and strategy…but that does NOT mean that I’m for the MIC.

    And one more thing – you want to say there’s no real difference between the GOP and the Dems when it comes to the MIC. To be sure, the MIC is powerful, and I do NOT forget that the last president who made sizable cuts in the military was Bush Sr, whom I actually hold (his involvement in Iran-Contra notwithstanding) to be a fairly courageous president. I can make the case that EVERY president since FDR (inclusive) has done some truly courageous things. Even DUBYA, as stupid as he certainly was, did some good things.

    So why is it, Irene, that I am painted as a Democratic demagogue when I have repeatedly said that Reagan was one of the five greatest presidents and I’ve only said GOOD things about the presidency of Bush Sr?

    Simple – by wrongly painting me as “all Dems are good and all GOP is bad”, it helps the BC conservatives to lessen the impact of my statements.

    I hope that makes a few things click for you.

  • Glenn, now look here. Obama didn’t have any military experience, and neither did Bush. They inherited most of the military brass over whom they’d be Commander-in-Chief from the previous administation(s). Example: Obama “inheriting” McCrystal et AL, from Bush.

    My sense is that most of these inherited generals, and the CEO’s of the corporations with defense contracts that have been as good as chiseled in stone for decades…my sense is that they speak to WHOMEVER the latest pliable occupant of the Oval Office is EXACTLY THE WAY YOU SPEAK TO PEOPLE WHO DISCUSS FOREIGN POLICIY WITH YOU i.e.
    “You don’t know anything about the military. Leave it to us.”

    Why, Glenn, oh why why WHY do you persist in arguing that the party that the president belongs to makes much difference at ALL?

    Are you really as much against the MIC as you say you are? What, if we can sweep them all away every time a Democrat is POTUS, how powerful and threatening can they be?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    “Liberalism is a disease”? Didn’t you say on a different threat that you’ve never accused zing or I of having a psychological or medical condition?

    But that’s a ‘gotcha’ observation. I’m sure you were only being metaphorical.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    Obama did promise to end the war in Afghanistan during the campaign and he has escalated it.

    And when he made the campaign promise, did he have a full full knowledge of all the crap going on in Pakistan, and was he aware of the possibility of al-Qaeda getting hold of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons?


    He is winding down in Iraq because Bush mandated it before he left office.

    And since when is a president bound by the ‘mandate’ of a previous president? And what has been the reaction of Bush’s party to Obama’s ending of the Iraq occupation?


    By the way, those forces will be leaving Iraq for Kuwait and a battle group in the Persian Gulf, so it’s not like they are coming home.

    NO, Kenn, most of them will be going home. Why? Because it is NOT PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE to base tens of thousands of soldiers on a carrier battle group. Some will probably go to a base to Kuwait, some will go to Afghanistan, but the vast majority will be coming home…

    …against the vocal protests of the Republicans who want to keep them in Iraq!


    And no Glenn, I have never been a member of the military-industrial complex that you love so much. Sorry.

    It’s obvious that you haven’t been in the military – otherwise, you wouldn’t be making broad-brush accusations and assumptions that ANYone (conservative OR liberal) with significant military experience would know are ludicrous – and a great example is your great and terrrrrrible offense that we had SpecOps troops in Libya when it was apparent that there would be a popular uprising.


    You still haven’t shown me your mathematical equation proving that what you think are Obama’s war crimes are somehow worse than what Dubya did that wound up causing the deaths of over 100K civilian men, women, and children.


    You and Dave Nalle have something in common – he has an advanced degree in history, and you teach history…but neither one of you seems to understand history nearly so well as you believe. That’s the only conclusion I can reach when I ask both of you questions that ANYone with a real interest in history SHOULD either readily answer or quickly research if the questions expose a bit of ignorance about an historical event.

    But neither of you do that. Instead, you both desperately cling to your political beliefs, trying to force the events to fit your belief rather than allowing the events to FORM your belief.

    You should know better than that. So should Dave.

  • Costello, you twist or misunderstand my words; I didn’t say anything about my “failure to understand your [meaning my] unprofessionalism”, I said I don’t see how discussing in public events that happened in public is unprofessional. I still don’t and you haven’t said anything to generate any greater clarity.

    I also don’t see how addressing what someone has been doing to other commenters after those other commenters have already raised the same broad concerns is trying to publicly embarrass anybody. If you can put some flesh on the bare bones of your fairly glib remark, I would be interested in what you have to say.

    As to Utopias, I no more believe in them than I do supernatural beings, nor did I suggest any such thing.

    I do think a world that is more honest and open, that doesn’t resort to secret deals worked out behind closed doors, is a better world. If you don’t, then we are indeed on opposite sides of that particular argument.

  • Costello

    Your failure to understand your unprofessionalism is of no concern of mine. That’s something your employers should deal with. Though it’s certianly of no surprise to anyone who has read a few of your interactions around here.

    If trying to publically embarrass someone is the world you are working toward, count me out of your misguided Utopia

  • whatever …

  • Just my opinion: this has unnecessarily escalated into melodrama. Disagreements happen all the time, among reasonable as well as unreasonable people. There’s no reason to treat it so apocalyptically.

  • I’m not at all trying to provoke you, Roger. The point of my remark is that I am responding frankly to yours.

    I know this seems outlandishly strange to you as your preferred method is to make stuff up or rush off on unrelated tangents.

    I very much doubt that our feelings are mutual or even vaguely similar.

    For a third time, if you don’t think there is any need for further discussion, your choice is simple and obvious – don’t respond…

  • Are you trying to provoke me, now, so that you’ll proceed with banishment next?

    If not, then what’s the point of your remark? I already know what you think of me and, as I’ve told you, the feeling is mutual.

    Is there any need for further discussion?

  • Costello, the comments space is a public space and the events being discussed took place in public.

    I fail to understand why they would be better resolved in private out of public scrutiny nor do I see how having it out in public is unprofessional.

    If you think that what the world needs is more dubious deals worked out behind closed doors then you want a very different kind of world than I am working towards.

  • Re #25: You keep telling yourself that, Roger; hopefully it will cover up the gaping holes in your self-delusion.

    I seriously doubt you can even tell who is worth talking to, but I hope your vacuity will at least keep you warm at night.

    Meanwhile, I’m sure the morons thank you for your kindness and consideration.

  • Costello, I’ll soon publish my final BC article, a parting shot, before moving on to another site, so stay tuned.

    Will let you know when and where.

  • Costello

    While I certainly don’t understand Roger’s alleged tactic of willfully misunderstanding people, why is this being dealt with through multiple posts? Surely the matter could be discussed privately in a more professional matter, although considering the way Christopher goes after people, he may not be able to act more professional.

  • “Self pity”? You’re must be of your mind.

    I’ve had it here because I’m tired of dealing with morons.

    Don’t worry, though. Those who are worth talking to I haven’t forgotten.

  • Self pity is such an attractive quality, especially when it has zero basis in reality.

    The only reason you have “had it here” is because straight dealing and sincerity are alien concepts to you…

  • Be moving to another site shortly, will keep you posted when matters finalize so you might visit once in a while. Have had it here. It’s bad enough having to deal with all such, but not when it’s sanctioned by the all wise and all seeing comments editor.

  • Cannonshop

    #20 Roger, there’s a term for that. It originates, I believe, in industry, and is usually assigned to someone in the management or engineering areas, usually someone so in love with theory that they lose sight of practice.

    “Educated Idiot”.

  • You’re right, it is fanaticism, like rooting for the Oakland Raiders.

    I’m done with these fuckers. Let them go to hell.

  • @18

    Always have, my man. And I surely respect you for changing your opinion about OWS — not because it’s about OWS but because you have balls enough to change your mind and own up to it.

    Tell you the truth, Cannon, most everybody I ever meet has more common sense, I’m talking about ordinary people with no fucking education to speak of, then some here who think themselves intellectuals simply because they know their syntax.

    Have never in my life ran across such a group of seemingly educated and articulate people but all so fucking stupid either for their inability to think or plain fear of thinking.

    God save America!

  • Cannonshop

    As for me…I guess I’m one of the few who saw this coming early on, and I ain’t in denial about it-this has more to do with generating campaign Ca$h than human rights. Now that it’s translated into another Wilsonian Adventure, I kind of hope that it backfires, that Libya gets the kind of government they REALLY want, which is radical-islamist, and that it costs the Companies that paid (or promised pay) the DNC and the RNC to buy american bombs to remove Quaddafi a lot of money and heartache.

  • Cannonshop

    #15 Roger, it’s not “Liberalism” that is the disease, it’s FANATICISM, that weird mix of bunker-mentality and self-righteousness which afflicts ALL who cling to their “Team” of choice and treat the business of our nations as another sporting-event where one must root for ‘the team’ regardless of what reason, logic, or performance might indicate.

    I know this trap, and so do you-we ALL fall into it from time to time. It is what Harry Browne termed in “How I found freedom in an unfree world” the “Group Trap.”

    Right NOW the site’s conservatives might seem to make more sense-hell, right now “I” might seem to make more sense, but wait a bit longer, and soon everyone will, from one direction or another, cease to make sense. It’s all about perspective and subjective experience. The Party-Democrats here are doing what they do, and sooner or later, if not one of the token conservatives present, some new token conservative will show up chanting the approved party mantra of the Republicans, just as Glenn, Zing, and others chant the approved message and generated astroturf of the Democrat party.

    It’s good to believe in something, and to stand for something, it’s bad to believe in everything someone tells you. Just keep thinking for yourself, Roger.

  • It makes me tired, and a bit depressed. I need sleep.

  • Human rights activist and former ambassador Craig Murray sheds some light on the “majority” Arab League support for the establishment of the West’s no-fly zone in Libya:

    “A senior diplomat in a western mission to the UN in New York, who I have known over ten years and trust, has told me for sure that Hillary Clinton agreed to the cross-border use of troops to crush democracy in the Gulf, as a quid pro quo for the Arab League calling for Western intervention in Libya…It was former UK Ambassador to Libya, Oliver Miles who said western military intervention in Libya should be avoided above all because of the law of unintended consequences. One consequence has happened already, unintended by the liberals who fell in behind the calls for military attacks on Gadaffi. They helped cause the foreign military suppression of democracy in Bahrain. For Clinton and Obama, it is a win-win forwarding US foreign policy on both Libya and the Gulf, where they don’t want democracy.”

    The fact that Murray minces no words in denouncing “Team Bush” MAY induce you to give him a read, Glenn. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the second link, in any event. (I know Kenn will enjoy it, too, because though he asserts that Obama is worse than Bush, I’m sure he’ll agree it’s partly because Bush greased the skids.)

    US Imperialism is not activated by a switch that gets turned off when a Democrat POTUS replaces a Republican. The misery that the US has brought on itself through its infliction of misery on the rest of the world WILL NOT STOP until people stop being blinded by party allegiance.

  • Tell you the truth, Kenn, I’d rather talk to conservatives such as you or Cannon or Clavos, and I well know we may disagree on major points, than to this site’s self-appointed liberals who can’t seem to raise themselves above a knee-jerk reaction and whenever you criticize them on however minor point, all they’re capable of is acting offended.

    I never thought I’d say it, but liberalism is a disease.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    You must be on the payroll of either the administration or the DNC? I mean the BS and spin you spew in defense of failed policies is remarkable. Obama did promise to end the war in Afghanistan during the campaign and he has escalated it. He is winding down in Iraq because Bush mandated it before he left office. By the way, those forces will be leaving Iraq for Kuwait and a battle group in the Persian Gulf, so it’s not like they are coming home. And no Glenn, I have never been a member of the military-industrial complex that you love so much. Sorry.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Kenn –

    Since you didn’t want to provide a link, I went ahead and Googled precisely what you suggested, and okay, sure, we DID have SpecOps troops on the ground.

    But did you actually READ the interview between Bill O’Reilly and the guys whose names you gave? I mean, past the part where they were saying we really did have SpecOps troops on the ground in Libya?

    I’m referring to the part where such is STANDARD PROCEDURE, where they are tasked with identifying targets so that FEWER civilians are killed, where Bill O’Reilly himself admitted that what the SpecOps guys were doing was in fact SAVING LIVES?

    I doubt it. All you really wanted to do was to use the fact that we had them there to IMPLY that it was America and the corporate world who were all behind the popular uprising in the first place!

    Kenn, I don’t know if you’ve any military experience, but anyone who’s done much research of military history KNOWS that ALL the major powers of the world WILL have operatives on the ground where there are signs and indications of a major political shift or popular uprising. As an historian, you of all people should know this instinctively. So that begs the question of whether you were so naive that you did not know this, or if instead you DID know this but decided to use it to accuse Obama of military adventurism and unity with corporate greed.

    To address your other accustions:

    Obama has continued the war in Iraq.

    He continued the occupation in Iraq and is ENDING it in less than two months. He will have had troops in Iraq under his command less than three years, whereas Dubya had them there for SIX years (Mission Accomplished!)…and ALL the Republican candidates (save Ron Paul) have publicly stated they would continue the occupation!

    He escalated the war in Afghanistan even after he campaigned on ending it.

    I don’t suppose the fact that last year, al-Qaeda led a popular uprising that came within forty miles of the capital of NUCLEAR-ARMED Pakistan means anything to you, huh? If you really cared about the REAL reason we’re in Afghanistan, you’d know that we’re there to prop up the Pakistani government to (hopefully) keep nukes out of the hands of Muslim extremists. Whether this is the wisest way of doing so is certainly up to debate…but that’s why we’re there since Dubya ignored Afghanistan so he could invade Iraq, and by doing so allowed al-Qaeda to grow unchecked. You may have noticed we’ve made some progress against al-Qaeda since Obama took office, and that Pakistan is now more stable than it was when al-Qaeda was strong. But since that would mean that Obama was doing something right, it must therefore all be completely false, hm?

    He has increased drone attacks in Pakistan.

    See the above rant on why we’re in Afghanistan.

    He has bombed Yemen

    With what amounts to the blessings of the Yemeni government. Oh, but I forgot! The battle between al-Qaeda and the Yemenis is simply a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing, right? Not that the American people would face anymore threats from al-Qaeda if they win in Yemen like those listed in the above reference (that included the Uss Cole), hm?

    and murdered an American citizen thereby depriving him of his constitutional rights.

    Yes, Kenn, it makes PERFECT sense to not kill someone that you canNOT capture (as I showed you before with your utter ignorance of military logistics) but who is continuing to publicly give not only aid and comfort but also training to those who are killing Americans. Riiiiiight! “Even though you can’t capture him alive, don’t kill him even though he’s trying to kill you (and sometimes succeeding) because that would be in violation of his Constitutional rights!” Such a WONderful Commander-in-Chief you’d be, VERY inspiring to the troops!

    If it actually happened, the murder of an unarmed enemy combatant (bin laden) was carried out on his orders in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

    Yes, all the world’s a conspiracy to you, isn’t it? And if Obama says it it must be a lie, huh? And FYI, I strongly suspect you’ll find that according to the Geneva Convention, an enemy combatant who refuses to surrender, who MAY still have means to resist, CAN be put down with deadly force. The SEALS did precisely as they were trained to do…and while I am certainly no Navy SEAL, what they did was precisely what we were trained to do as members of the Security Armed Response Team on the USS Abraham Lincoln not long after the bombing of the Cole. So when you know what you’re talking about, Kenn, come back and let me know, willya?

    And he deceived the U.N. and the Arab League by escalating the involvement of NATO in Libya beyond enforcing a “no-fly zone” to full scale regime change.

    You’ve proceeded from the naive to the ignorant to the outright ludicrous with this last one, Kenn. Most of the UN wanted Qaddafi gone, most of the Arab League wanted Qaddafi gone, and most of the Libyan people wanted Qaddafi gone. Perhaps if you were a little MORE realistic about the diplomatic workings of the nations of the world, you’d know this.

    AND IN SUMMARY, I’d really like to see your math where all the civilian deaths under Obama even came close to the 100,000+ men, women, and children who died in the illegal and unprovoked Iraq war, the vast majority of whom died on Dubya’s watch!

    Can you please, PLEASE show me your math on this, so I can see exactly how it is that Obama’s alleged war crimes have somehow greatly exceeded the KNOWN war crimes under Dubya?


    (Note to self – I’m really wasting too much time trying to educate those who refuse to be educated)

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    And what did your politicians on the right (and yes, they ARE your politicians since over 70% of Libertarians vote Republican if there’s no viable Libertarian on the ticket) do when Obama announced that he would have ALL American troops in Iraq out by the end of the year? Every single one cried out that Obama was giving up on Iraq, ignoring the sacrifices of the military, allowing the Muslim extremist to win, et cetera, ad nauseum! In your haste to foment hatred for whatever Obama does, you’d wind up having a Republican in the White House who’d keep our troops in Iraq for many more years to come!

    Do you not see the rank hypocrisy of any Libertarian who hates Obama for not immediately ending the Iraq occupation (which he’s ending in less than two months) and who would instead vote for a Republican out of their hatred of Obama?

    And considering what you do for a living, perhaps you could tell us when there was EVER an occupation (for by the time Obama took over, it was not a war, but an occupation) where the occupying nation was able to leave the occupied nation in just a couple of years with something approaching a viable and stable government? Perhaps you could describe how long it took the occupying nations to leave the occupied countries of central Europe after the end of WWII? And this is not even taking into account the intractable Shi’a/Sunni conflict that overshadowed all of America’s efforts to instill a viable and stable government in Baghdad!


    Kenn, most historians would heartily agree that most questions of the day can be readily and accurately answered by an objective understanding of the lessons of history…so you’ve got a choice: you can either stick by conservative and libertarian talking points to preserve your disgust with everything the Obama administration’s ever done or ever will do…

    …or you can look back with 20/20 vision at the lessons of history and see that while he hasn’t been perfect, in the big picture he’s been significantly better than average (especially given the opposition he’s faced at a level not seen since before the Civil War).

  • PS I do thank Kenn for bringing the deliciously funny name Smedley Butler to our attention. Wonder what his friends called him? “Hey, Smedley, another beer?”

  • Kenn starts with conclusions, then selectively builds premises to “prove” his point.

    Obama cautiously wound down the Iraq war. It is in effect already over, and will be in reality by Christmas.

    He did not campaign on ending the Afghan war….he pledged to turn his attention there in contrast to Bush’s ignoring it. And that too is now on course to slowly wind down.

    No action other than immediate withdrawal and cessation on inaugural day would have exempted him from the criticism of some; but that policy was never promised, and existed only in their own delusions. They’d probably have found a reason to complain even then.

  • Kenn Jacobine

    You guys have to be kidding! Obama has continued the war in Iraq. He escalated the war in Afghanistan even after he campaigned on ending it. He has increased drone attacks in Pakistan. He has bombed Yemen and murdered an American citizen thereby depriving him of his constitutional rights. If it actually happened, the murder of an unarmed enemy combatant (bin laden) was carried out on his orders in violation of the Geneva Conventions. And he deceived the U.N. and the Arab League by escalating the involvement of NATO in Libya beyond enforcing a “no-fly zone” to full scale regime change.

    As far as the links are concerned Google “special ops on the ground in Libya”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    Are you no longer able to provide links to what you consider proof? I can come up with lots of names too, and I can state that those names said lots of things, too.

    Sooo…where’s the links?

    And last I recall, Obama hasn’t used America’s full military might on an illegal and unprovoked invasion that killed at least 100,000 innocent men, women, and children, and has resulted in over two million people who are STILL internally-displaced refugees (not to mention over 4,000 American military who have died in the same invasion and subsequent occupation). Exactly what is it that Obama has done that makes Dubya’s crimes look ‘tame’? I mean, you DO teach history, so I’d really, really like to hear you justify that statement.

  • Zingzing

    Question mark…

  • Zingzing

    “Face it Glenn, this administration makes the Bush years look tame in terms of war crimes”

    How so. Compare.

  • Glenn,

    You are such an apologist for this regime. I am optimistic that when Obama loses reelection you will support my criticisms of whoever the Republican president is – unless he is Ron Paul then the imperialism will end.

    In any event, we had special ops on the ground in Libya according to RET. COL. DAVID HUNT, U.S. ARMY and LT. COL. TONY SHAFFER, FORMER ARMY INTELLIGENCE OFFICER.

    Al Jazeera also ran a story to the same effect. Of course, a military man like yourself should know that we put forces on the ground to direct attacks in the air.

    Face it Glenn, this administration makes the Bush years look tame in terms of war crimes. And by the way, a lot of folks claim to be libertarian, but it doesn’t mean they are. In the last election, true libertarians would have sat it out. Even the Libertarian Party nominated a non-libertarian candidate.

  • I’m as anti-statism as you are Kenn, and I disagree with you about Obama. He only appears to be so, but in fact the preservation of all institutions has been Obama’s top priority, from health care to financial reforms.

    It’s beyond the realm of possibility, so I believe, to have constitutional government nowadays, as as it is to have the kind of “pure capitalism” you’re talking about. We’re too far gone. So regardless of what would be a better economic system than the present one, my only point is that you shouldn’t dissociate Western imperialism from our global economic system, working in collusion with Western nation-states.

    I know it’s not a very palatable proposition to someone like you, but these seem to be the wages.

  • Kenn Jacobine


    Libya (imperialism) is a direct result of unconstitutional government. Heck, Obama is the most anti-capitalist president we have had since FDR and this crap was his decision.

    Besides what is your alternative to capitalism? If it is the welfare state you need only look at our current economy to see how well that works.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Kenn –

    1 – I’d really like for you to include links to justify you claims, such as the one where you said that there were reports that American SpecOps troops had been in Libya before the uprising. I also notice you didn’t comment on the veracity of such reports…but that didn’t stop you from implying that it happened. Provide your proof, please.

    2 – The premise of your article seems to be that the whole driving force behind the Libyan uprising was not the Libyan people and the momentum of the ‘Arab Spring’, but instead you seem to believe it was mostly due to corporate greed and politicians who wanted to appease the corporations.

    Such an observation is naive at best and at worst ignorant of of the necessary pragmatism of realpolitik. Why? Because in every armed conflict without exception, past, present, or future, there will be those who will seek the best angle from which to profit from the invasion. Did you really, truly expect America and the world’s multinational corporations to see what was happening in Libya and sit calmly by without doing their utmost to ensure the best possible result for America and for the multinational corporations?

    You know as well as I do that nature abhors a vacuum – and if America did not move to shift the fill of the political vacuum in America’s favor, then a different nation would have…

    …and you know it.

    And the same goes for the multinational corporations, too.

    3 – A healthy sense of cynicism is a good thing…but as with all else, too much cynicism is every bit as bad as too little cynicism. The uprising was part of the ‘Arab Spring’, and the responses of the West and of the corporations were nothing more and nothing less than sensible responses to what was happening.

    And you’ve got to admit that what America did to support the Libyan rebels was a heck of a lot better by almost any measure than what was done by the last administration that most libertarians supported (and yes, most libertarians DID vote for Dubya – I can provide references if you need).

  • We’re trying to change that, Kenn, and throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    What amazes me, you still fail to connect the dots and see imperialism as a natural outgrowth of capitalism and the corrupt institution of the state.

    By all measures, you should be an anarchist, but I know this message will fall on deaf ears.