“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Containment Conundrum

After Iraq and ten years on, US revisits containment policy

On the 10th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq it's worth reflecting on whether containment - rather than intervention - is Washington's preferred option in dealing with crises, writes Richard Gowan.

The 10th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war has inspired numerous articles about the follies of military interventionism. Yet the war also represented a huge defeat for an alternative strategy for dealing with dangerous states: containment. Throughout the Cold War, the US and its allies had aimed to contain the Soviet Union. Despite frequent internal disagreements over this strategy, it worked. 
Containment arguably worked in Iraq too. After the 1991 Gulf War, the US had attempted to keep Saddam Hussein under control through sanctions and occasional limited military strikes. UN inspectors successfully investigated and ended Iraqi programs to build weapons of mass destruction, even if the Bush administration based its case for war on the presumption that Saddam simply had to be cheating.
Yet this successful containment strategy came at a heavy cost. As the American scholar Joy Gordon notes in "Invisible War," an excoriating history of the effort to contain Iraq, studies suggest that "at least 500,000 children under age five who died during the sanctions period would not have died under the Iraqi regime prior to sanctions." The international coalition that had driven Iraqi forces out of Kuwait splintered and the US and UK were increasingly isolated in defending the sanctions regime up to 2003.

Containment back on the agenda...

Iraq appeared to signal that the US was no longer satisfied with containment as a strategy for dealing with enemy regimes. Interventions in Iran and North Korea seemed all too possible. Yet 10 years on, containment is back as one of America's preferred strategic options. The Obama administration has strived against persistent criticism from Israel to contain rather than strike Iran. The US and its European allies have pursued a strategy of "everything but force" in dealing with Syria, putting heavy sanctions on Damascus and repeatedly raising the war at the UN, but effectively ruling out intervention. 

These choices reflect the Obama administration's engrained desire to avoid falling into the military traps of its predecessor. Yet containment remains an exceptionally difficult strategy to implement correctly.
In the Syrian case, Western governments are increasingly dissatisfied with the results of their "everything but force" posture so far. Britain and France have come out in favor of arming the Syrian rebels, although other European governments are nervous about this option. The US has ramped up non-lethal assistance to the rebels, but there have been a growing number of recent stories about unease within the White House about the lack of progress toward ousting President Bashar al-Assad.

...but does it really work?

On Iran, the US is trapped between Israel (deeply concerned about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Tehran) and Russia and China (suspicious that Washington will eventually opt for regime change). Although European governments have cooperated with the US to ratchet up sanctions, doing significant harm to the Iranian economy, concerns about their humanitarian effects are growing. This week the Guardian newspaper reported that "Iranian doctors and pharmacists have warned that hospitals across the country are facing difficulties finding the drugs used during life-saving surgery."  Western diplomats do not want to repeat the disastrous impact of the Iraq sanctions, but will still face criticism.

In the meantime, US efforts to contain North Korea - which include close cooperation with Beijing on UN sanctions aimed at the regime - could backfire. Under international pressure, Pyongyang has threatened open warfare. This is mainly bluff and bluster, but the situation could escalate dangerously.

So while the Obama administration has leant heavily on containment strategies in many of the hardest cases on its agenda, it is not clear if they are all diplomatically sustainable. On Syria, a faction of Western powers - heartily supported by Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar - could switch to more aggressive support to the rebels. The fragile consensus with Moscow and Beijing over how to deal with Iran may break down. North Korea may explode. Containment is often a highly risky strategy.

It is also a harder strategy for Washington and its allies to apply than it was in the 1990s, when the US and UK were able to drive sanctions policy toward Iraq over objections from non-Western countries. Since then shifts in global trade and finance means that non-Western powers, especially China, have far greater leverage over sanctions regimes, as the complex negotiations over Iran show. Cuts in the US defense budget may make it harder to keep up the long-term deterrent and policing functions that American forces have played in the Persian Gulf, Korean Peninsula and other potential flashpoints.
Containment conundrum

But are there serious alternatives? The Bush administration, having experimented with interventionism in Iraq, shifted back to more cautious policies in its later years.  In Bush's second term, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates argued strongly against attacking Iran. While Obama hoped to mix containment with engagement in dealing with Iran, his outreach achieved little. 

So one decade after the US signaled its discontent with containment by invading Iraq, it remains a standard default option. The long effort to contain Iraq from 1991 to 2003 was a humanitarian disaster and a diplomatic mess. But the war that followed reinforced the case for containment elsewhere. Another crisis in the Middle East or in Korea could discredit containment in American strategic debates once again. But for now Washington will stick with it, if only because there are often no better ideas.
Richard Gowan is an Associate Director at the NYU Center on International Cooperation and a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.


  1. From Strafor:

    From the end of World War II until very recently, the United States has performed the role of a hegemon in world politics. America may be democratic at home, but abroad it has been hegemonic. That is, by some rough measure of international consent, it is America that has the responsibility to lead. America formed NATO in Europe, even as its Navy and Air Force exercise preponderant power in the Pacific Basin. And whenever there is a humanitarian catastrophe somewhere in the developing world, it is the United States that has been expected to organize the response. Periodically, America has failed. But in general, it would be a different, much more anarchic world without American hegemony.

    But that hegemony, in some aspects, seems to be on the wane. That is what makes this juncture in history unique. NATO is simply not what it used to be. U.S. forces in the Pacific are perceived to be less all-powerful than in the past, as China tests U.S. hegemony in the region. But most importantly, U.S. President Barack Obama is evolving a doctrine of surgical strikes against specific individuals combined with non-interference -- or minimal interference -- in cases of regional disorder. Libya and Syria are cases in point. Gone, at least for the moment, are the days when U.S. forces were at the ready to put a situation to rights in this country or that.

    When it comes to the Greater Middle East, Americans seem to want protection on the cheap, and Obama is giving them that. We will kill a terrorist with a drone, but outside of limited numbers of special operations forces there will be no boots on the ground for Libya, Syria or any other place. As for Iran, whatever the White House now says, there is a perception that the administration would rather contain a nuclear Iran than launch a military strike to prevent Iran from going nuclear.

    That, by itself, is unexceptional. Previous administrations have been quite averse to the use of force. In recent decades, it was only George W. Bush -- and only in the aftermath of 9/11 -- who relished the concept of large-scale boots on the ground in a war of choice. Nevertheless, something has shifted. In a world of strong states -- a world characterized by hierarchy, that is -- the United States often enforced the rules of the road or competed with another hegemon, the Soviet Union, to do so. Such enforcement came in the form of robust diplomacy, often backed by a threat to use military power. Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were noted for American leadership and an effective, sometimes ruthless foreign policy. Since the Cold War ended and Bill Clinton became president, American leadership has often seemed to be either unserious, inexpertly and crudely applied or relatively absent. And this has transpired even as states themselves in the Greater Middle East have become feebler.{…}


  2. {…}

    In other words, both the hegemon and the many states it influences are weaker. Hierarchy is dissolving on all levels. Equality is now on the march in geopolitics: The American hegemon is less hegemonic, and within individual countries -- Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Tunisia and so on -- internal forces are no longer subservient to the regime. (And states like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are not in the American camp to the degree that they used to be, further weakening American hegemony.) Moreover, the European Union as a political organizing principle is also weakening, even as the one-party state in China is under increasing duress.

    Nevertheless, in the case of the Middle East, do not conflate chaos with democracy. Democracy itself implies an unequal, hierarchal order, albeit one determined by voters. What we have in the Middle East cannot be democracy because almost nowhere is there a new and sufficiently formalized hierarchy. No, what we have in many places in the Middle East is the weakening of central authority with no new hierarchy to adequately replace it.

    Unless some force can, against considerable odds, reinstitute hierarchy -- be it an American hegemon acting globally, or an international organization acting regionally or, say, an Egyptian military acting internally -- we will have more fluidity, more equality and therefore more anarchy to look forward to. This is profoundly disturbing, because civilization abjures anarchy. In his novel Billy Budd (1924), Herman Melville deeply laments the fact that even beauty itself must be sacrificed for the maintenance of order. For without order -- without hierarchy -- there is nothing.

    Read more: Anarchy and Hegemony | Stratfor

  3. The Stratfor Link

  4. Which country is the natural hegemon in the Middle East?

    Which country is the most likely hegemon in the Middle East?

    If you think about it, the likely hegemon is the country with the power and the greatest cohesive society.

    That rules out Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and everyone else except Israel, Iran and Turkey.

    It takes a dynamic economy ( money), military power, political stability and a growing population. That eliminates Iran.

    Now you are left with Turkey and Israel. Israel is a nuclear power and Turkey is a member of Nato.

    My bet it…

  5. Turkey is destroying it'sself.
    Read the news from abroad. Locking up secular leaders on trumped up charges,
    economic growth due to governmental printing of money...
    dont forget the genocide of the kurds...
    it's egypt in slow motion...

    so dont bet on turkey...

  6. Turkey recognizes its rival, Israel.

    On a previous post:

    JennyTue Apr 23, 03:32:00 AM EDT
    Let’s stop pretending this is a “humanitarian issue” and just admit were playing a geopolitical game with human lives, and the objective of the game is to isolate Iran to please the Israeli hegemon….

    1. Jenny, with all due respect you are out of your mind.

      Israel can take care of the issue on one nanosecond but has not due to USA, European and other's begging them not to.

      If they do?

      There will be no Iranian nuke threat. but then again? your pathetic lazy lifestyle based on cheap oil is over forever.

      So maybe Israel should deal with it JUST so that you personally will have to actually earn a living instead of stealing opec's oil .

  7. No more hegemons please

    BEIJING (AP) -- China's President Xi Jinping and France's President Francois Hollande pledged to push for a world free of domination by any superpower Thursday as the French leader visited the Chinese capital on a mission to boost trade amid his country's worsening economic woes.

    Both leaders stressed their desire for a "multipolar" world that would dilute Washington's influence - though they did not mention the U.S. in their comments.

    “China and France are both great countries with a strong sense of independence,” Xi said at a news conference, adding that the two countries would "actively promote a multipolar world and the democratization of international relations.”

  8. .

    France has been defensivly independant since the fall of Napolean. DeGaulle thought it was France that won WWII. Sarkozy is under investigation and accused of taking tens of millions of pounds from Ghaddafi before pushing for the attack on him. The papers daily predict Hollande can't last. I wouldn't put too much faith in anything he says or in France's influence.

    China on the other hand, is something different; however, I suspect it will be a while before we see a change in the world order or at least in it's hierarchy.


  9. .

    Does the U.S. really need more tech graduates or is it strictly a matter of cheaper tech graduates?

    If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on in Washington, it’s that the country has a woeful shortage of workers trained in science, technology, engineering and math — what’s referred to as STEM.

    But not everyone agrees. A study released Wednesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute reinforces what a number of researchers have come to believe: that the STEM worker shortage is a myth.
    The EPI study found that the United States has “more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations.” Basic dynamics of supply and demand would dictate that if there were a domestic labor shortage, wages should have risen. Instead, researchers found, they’ve been flat, with many Americans holding STEM degrees unable to enter the field and a sharply higher share of foreign workers taking jobs in the information technology industry. (IT jobs make up 59 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the study.)


    “Even in engineering,” the authors said, “U.S. colleges have historically produced about 50 percent more graduates than are hired into engineering jobs each year.”



    1. It is strictly a matter of cheaper tech graduates

  10. Islam is your future America. Get used to it. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has already told you what you must do. SUBMIT yourself to Allah.

    The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites. One may convert alone in privacy, or he/she may do so in the presence of others.

    If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the “Shahada”, the testimony of faith, without further delay. The “Shahada” is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam.

    With the pronunciation of this testimony, or “Shahada”, with sincere belief and conviction, one enters the fold of Islam.

    Upon entering the fold of Islam purely for the Pleasure of God, all of one’s previous sins are forgiven, and one starts a new life of piety and righteousness. The Prophet said to a person who had placed the condition upon the Prophet in accepting Islam that God would forgive his sins:

    “Do you not know that accepting Islam destroys all sins which come before it?” (Saheeh Muslim)

    When one accepts Islam, they in essence repent from the ways and beliefs of their previous life. One need not be overburdened by sins committed before their acceptance. The person’s record is clean, and it is as if he was just born from his mother’s womb. One should try as much as possible to keep his records clean and strive to do as many good deeds as possible.

    The Holy Quran and Hadeeth (prophetic sayings) both stress the importance of following Islam. God states:

    “...The only religion in the sight of God is Islam...” (Quran 3:19)

    1. That is a crock of shit.

      Islam may be your future, but it sure ain't ours.
      Since the God of Abraham is propaganda wrapped in myth, not a god at all.

      Have a nice day.

    2. Islam will rule the world again, but only when Muslims turn and go back to their religion as they were at the prophet's (PBUH) time and the Kholafaa after him.

      Muslims did rule the world once, they spread knowledge when europe was living in it's dark ages.

      when the west ruled the world, it spread blood and wars all over the world.

      they created "terrorism" and exported to other nations, they occupied almost all the countries in Asia, Africa and even more, and kill and erased nations along with their civilization (ask the native indians in north and south America, Australia...........), and ofcourse Palestine.

      lets not forget Iraq, Afghanestan, Pakistan and what they did in south America.

      the propblem is that people dont read history anymore.

      In his book, The Making of Humanity, Rob Briffault states:

      It is highly probable that but for the Arabs, modern European civilization would never have risen at all. There is no single aspect of European growth in which decisive influence of Islamic culture is not traceable. What we call science arose in Europe as a result of a new spirit of enquiry, new methods of investigation, methods of experimentation, observation, measurement, and the development of Mathematics in a form unknown to the Greeks. That spirit and those methods were introduced into the European world by the Arabs.

      an example how the world was before Islam

      The Byzantines in Egypt used to exploit the prosperity of Egypt and oppress its people to such a degree that the Egyptians warmly welcomed the Muslims' opening (fath) of Egypt. In fact, the Muslims succeeded in entering Egypt and freeing it from the Byzantine occupation with only 8,000 soldiers.

      they were preventing them from practicing their religion, although they were Christians, just because they were from different sect.

    3. Islam has never ruled the world, before, so it is impossible for it to do it, again.

      Your head is as swollen as the Israelis that post here.

      Don't doubt that you're one and the same.
      If not physically, at least morally and ethically

    4. desert ratThu Apr 25, 11:36:00 AM EDT
      Islam has never ruled the world, before, so it is impossible for it to do it, again.

      Your head is as swollen as the Israelis that post here.

      Don't doubt that you're one and the same.
      If not physically, at least morally and ethically

      Rat you are one uneducated rodent...

  11. I certainly wouldn't rule out Iran as potentially dominating the region. They have the desire to be the regional hegemon and a large relatively wealthy cohesive society. Butting heads with the international community isn't helping their cause though.


  12. In another verse of the Holy Quran, God states:

    “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the Hellfire).” (Quran 3:85)

    In another saying, Muhammad, the Prophet of God, said:

    “Whoever testifies that there in none worthy of being worshipped but God, Who has no partner, and that Muhammad is His slave and Prophet, and that Jesus is the Slave of God, His Prophet, and His word[1] which He bestowed in Mary and a spirit created from Him; and that Paradise (Heaven) is true, and that the Hellfire is true, God will eventually admit him into Paradise, according to his deeds.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

    The Prophet of God, may the blessing and mercy of God be upon him, also reported:

    “Indeed God has forbidden to reside eternally in Hell the person who says: “I testify that none has the right to be worshiped except Allah (God),’ seeking thereby the Face of God.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

    The Declaration of the Testimony (Shahada)

    To convert to Islam and become a Muslim a person needs to pronounce the below testimony with conviction and understanding its meaning:

    I testify “La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah.”

    The translation of which is:

    “I testify that there is no true god (deity) but God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a Messenger (Prophet) of God.”

    To hear it click here or click on “Live Help” above for assistance by chat.

    When someone pronounces the testimony with conviction, then he/she has become a Muslim. It can be done alone, but it is much better to be done with an adviser through the “Live Help” at top, so we may help you in pronouncing it right and to provide you with important resources for new Muslims.

    The first part of the testimony consists of the most important truth that God revealed to mankind: that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God. God states in the Holy Quran:

    “We did not send the Messenger before you without revealing to him: ‘none has the right to be worshipped except I, therefore worship Me.’” (Quran 21:25)

    This conveys that all forms of worship, whether it be praying, fasting, invoking, seeking refuge in, and offering an animal as sacrifice, must be directed to God and to God alone. Directing any form of worship to other than God (whether it be an angel, a messenger, Jesus, Muhammad, a saint, an idol, the sun, the moon, a tree) is seen as a contradiction to the fundamental message of Islam, and it is an unforgivable sin unless it is repented from before one dies. All forms of worship must be directed to God only.

    1. The only Hellfire any man will see, the missile on the fly.

      And since there is no god of Abraham, your worship is directed only to yourself.


    2. Anonymous quoted:
      "...Jesus is the Slave of God, His Prophet, and His word."

      Question: Can a Prophet lie?

      Anonymous Too.

    3. Of course prophets lie.

      It is their stock and trade.


  13. Worship means the performance of deeds and sayings that please God, things which He commanded or encouraged to be performed, either by direct textual proof or by analogy. Thus, worship is not restricted to the implementation of the five pillars of Islam, but also includes every aspect of life. Providing food for one’s family, and saying something pleasant to cheer a person up are also considered acts of worship, if such is done with the intention of pleasing God. This means that, to be accepted, all acts of worship must be carried out sincerely for the Sake of God alone.

    The second part of the testimony means that Prophet Muhammad is the servant and chosen messenger of God. This implies that one obeys and follows the commands of the Prophet. One must believe in what he has said, practice his teachings and avoid what he has forbidden. One must therefore worship God only according to his teaching alone, for all the teachings of the Prophet were in fact revelations and inspirations conveyed to him by God.

    One must try to mold their lives and character and emulate the Prophet, as he was a living example for humans to follow. God says:

    “And indeed you are upon a high standard of moral character.” (Quran 68:4)

    God also said:

    “And in deed you have a good and upright example in the Messenger of God, for those who hope in the meeting of God and the Hereafter, and mentions God much.” (Quran 33:21)

    He was sent in order to practically implement the Quran, in his saying, deeds, legislation as well as all other facets of life. Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, when asked about the character of the Prophet, replied:

    “His character was that of the Quran.” (As-Suyooti)

    To truly adhere to the second part of the Shahada is to follow his example in all walks of life. God says:

    “Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love God, then follow me.’” (Quran 3:31)

    It also means that Muhammad is the Final Prophet and Messenger of God, and that no (true) Prophet can come after him.

    “Muhammad is not the father of any man among you but he is the Messenger of God and the last (end) of the Prophets and God is Ever All-Aware of everything.” (Quran 33:40)

    All who claim to be prophets or receive revelation after Muhammad are imposters, and to acknowledge them would be tantamount to disbelief.

    We welcome you to Islam, congratulate you for your decision, and will try to help you in any way we can.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. The two terrorists recently arrested in Canada were brought to the attention of the authorities by an Imam.

    1. wow, I am so impressed...


    2. You don't need to be, impressed.

      You are a faceless, nameless fool without the ability to use an avatar.

      Hopelessly, inept and meaningless in the whirled beyond your comprehension, as evidenced by your lack of understanding of just basic blogging.

      Step it up and come back, again.

  15. Just look at the statistics.

    The number of Islamic places of worship in the United States soared 74% in the past decade.

    While protests against new mosques in New York, Tennessee and California made headlines, the overall number of mosques quietly rose from 1,209 in 2000 to 2,106 in 2010.

    You cannot stop Allah. The Prophet, (PBUH) has told of your submission.

    1. Empty mosques litter northern Syria and Africa.

      The buildings that are in Africa just abandoned after the Saudi finance construction.

      That you can count the number of mosques, evidence that there are not many of them.

      There are over 350 churches in AZ, which is just 4 million people, out of 330 million folk.
      Extrapolate that across the nation and discover 2,100 anin't nothin', not when there are at least 350,000 churches in the US.

      2,100 mosques do not represent 1% of the house of worship, here.

      Have a great day.

    2. Hugh percentage increases are meaningless when the base number is infinitesimal.

    3. Arizona is home to over 120,000 Muslims who live in major cities around the State. The majority of Muslims live in Metro Phoenix area. Many Muslim families are native to Arizona and many others are either moved from different states or immigrated from other count ires.

      Arizona Muslims are well educated were many hold graduate and post graduate degrees. They have higher per capita income than average Americans. They value education and put their kids in high scoring schools.

      There are over 17 local Mosques were Muslims gather to worship and hold may social activities. There are 3 full time schools in the State, 2 in Metro Phoenix and one in Tucson.

      Not to worry, we will double in the next 12 years while your chuches become dust in the wind.

    4. Maybe there are 120,000 Muslims in AZ.

      They're certainly welcome to stay, visit, or make a permanent residence.

      If they commit a crime Sheriff Joe will have their ass.
      If they do not commit crimes, they'll have a great opportunity for a good life, free of religious persecution or prosecution.

      As to the churches becoming dust in the wind.

      You are fool if you believe that.
      The Mormons aren't leavin', ain't convertin' and no one will conquer 'em on their ground.
      The US Amy couldn't do it, rag tag Islamoids wouldn't stand a chance.

  16. Mohamed has made the list of most popular baby boy names in Minnesota, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

    1. Those Swedes just don't breed like they used to.

  17. Mohammed is now the most popular name for baby boys ahead of Jack and Harry

    Read more:

    1. The Daily Mail, who gives a hoot what the Brits are naming their kids.

      Basic blowback for hundreds of years of Empire.
      There is cosmic justice, it just is not delivered through Abraham.

  18. You cannot stop the truth.

    Washington, D.C. -- The world's Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35 percent in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to a new, comprehensive report released today by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life on the size, distribution and growth of the Muslim population. The study is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, an effort funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation to analyze religious change and its impact on societies around the world.

    Over the next two decades, the worldwide Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population -- an average annual growth rate of 1.5 percent for Muslims compared with 0.7 percent for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4 percent of the world's total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4 percent of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

    1. Breeders, the ignorant and uneducated usually are good at it.

    2. But if you can't build a combine harvester or a main battle tank, those kids will starve.

    3. And no one in the Islamoid whirled builds either.

      That you are breeding ever larger numbers of illiterate and under fed children, not any sort of accomplishment.

    4. Our education level is off the charts.

      "Arizona Muslims are well educated were many hold graduate and post graduate degrees. They have higher per capita income than average Americans. They value education and put their kids in high scoring schools."

      This is but one example. There are THOUSANDS of our Ummahs around America and we are growing,

      Why not do yourself a favor and learn about Islam

    5. Oh, I have learned ...

      As I said, thousands ain't nothin'. Not in the Americas.

      Those kids will all acclimate to US, they'll be as American as any of the kids in Columbine, Co.
      Just as dangerous to our society and culture, no more, no less.
      Some will join our society, some will not.

      They're just dust in the wind.

    6. .

      Thus speaketh the anonymous Anonymi as he pisses into the wind.


    7. .

      History is fine but the Golden Age of Islam is dead. You continue to live in the past, Bruce Springsteen's Glory Days are your anthem.

      As for history itself, yours is a little truncated. You argue Muslims learned of terrorism from Christians when in fact it's more likely the opposite. The Christian Crusaders likely learned of terrorism from al-Hasan ibn-al-Sabbah and his assassins.

      It's argued that it is a religion of peace but in fact it was born in blood and today continues as such. Likewise, focus for religious thought for the majority of the religion is Saudi Arabia, the prosletyzer in chief, a country dominated by Wahabbi extremists. It is a religion willing to edit the Koran to rationalize the killing of women and children. For those involved, there is not word foul enough to describe it. For those who rationalize and excuse these actions, they are beyond contempt.

      As for the clash of religions, I'll go by demographics. Who will breed faster here, the Arabs or the Spanish. I'd have to bet on the Spanish.

      As for dominating the world, I'll worry about it when they stop fighting amongst themselves. Face it, the various faiths of Islam hate each other more than they hate either the West or the East.

      As for physically dominating the world, I can only say


      That is why I argue they be left to stew in their homes in the ME.



  20. .

    Some context for the Syrian war.

    We are back to a world of vague and overlapping shadows of influence. Shia and Sunnis in northern Lebanon cross the border into Syria and kill each other, then retreat back into Lebanon. Indeed, the military situations in Lebanon and Syria are quickly fusing. The al Assad regime in Damascus projects power not unto the legal borders of Syria but mainly along parts of the Sunni-dominated Homs-Hama corridor and also on the Mediterranean coast between Latakia and Tartus, where the regime's Alawite compatriots are concentrated. Beyond that there are literally hundreds of small rebel groupings and half-dozen major ones, divided by their own philosophical and Islamist orientations and those of their foreign patrons. Then there are the half-dozen or so Kurdish factions controlling parts of northern and northeastern Syria. As for the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, there are two main Kurdish groups that are basically sovereign in different sectors. Significant Sunni areas of Iraq, particularly in sprawling Anbar between the Euphrates River and the Syrian border, are in varying degrees independently governed or not governed at all. Even Shiite central and southern Iraq is not completely controlled by the Shia-dominated Baghdad regime, owing to a half-dozen parties that in some cases exercise a degree of sovereignty.

    And this speaks only of direct players and speaks nothing of the other powers who provide money, supplies, and sanctuary for these warring groups in hopes of co-opting them for their own purposes, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, China, Russia, Britain, France, the US, al-Queda, etc.

    Yet, some suggest that we enter this miasma, pick one of the warring parties, one of the major rebel groupings, and declare them 'legitimate', the appropriate spokegroup for the entire Syrian mess. The rationale for this is that that particular group (it was not mentioned which group, but then does it really matter when you are doing god's work) is suffering terribly (as if everyone in Syria isn't suffering terribly at the moment) and there's a chance we might engender some good will, the same good will our other adventures into the ME has engendered one supposers.

    What can one say to the logic of that argument?


  21. .

    And for those that would argue that the mess we left in Iraq and here was justified because we took out Saddam, I offer the following,

    Freedom in the modern age, without "social knowledge and discipline," is a "dance of death," according to University of Toronto historian Modris Eksteins. The result tempts anarchy. As the 11th-12th century Muslim jurist and theologian Al-Ghazali said, "the tyranny of a sultan for a hundred years causes less damage than one year's tyranny exercised by the subjects against one another."

    The last quote is proved out in the fact that the U.S. intervention caused multiple times the damage in 10 years that Hussein accomplished in 40.

    God said, you may have to burn the village to save it.


  22. We are all Desert Rat for this day.

    Thank you, Rat.

    I got to run or I'd join you in your efforts with Mohammad there.

    I will just say, true religion does not teach hate, it teaches the recognition of the other as oneself.

    What indeed? Arabs gorge on hate, they roll in it, they breathe it. Jews top the hate list, but any foreigners are hateful enough. Arabs also hate each other, separately and, en masse. Their politicians change the direction of their hate as they would change their shirts. Their press is vulgarly base with hate-filled cartoons; their reporting describes whatever hate is now uppermost and convenient. Their radio is a long scream of hate, a call to hate. They teach their children hate in school. They must love the taste of hate; it is their daily bread. And what good has it done them?

    Martha Gellhorn's article from 1961.

  23. True religion don't place a bomb by a little 8 year old kid watching a foot race.

  24. An entire thread about the middleeast, and not one word of the only thing of any interest in the whole region - Oil.

  25. .

    The Muslim Anonymi above quotes a study by Pew Research to bolster his claims on Islam.

    What he leaves out from the same study.

    . While the number of muslims will grow at double the rate of non-muslim populations over the next 20 years (to 2030) that growth will level out as muslim women become more educated and cease to be considered chattel [chattel, admittedly, my word] and as living standards improve among Muslim population.

    . With regard to religion, the growth of Islam will not cause a significant shift in balance among major religious groups. While Islam will increase from 23.4 to 26.4 percent of religious affiliation, other studies put Chistians at 33% in 2030.

    . Europe will not be dominated by Muslims. There will be no Eurabia. In 20 years, the percentage Muslims in the EU will increase from the current 6% to 8%.

    . In the U.S. the population will triple,

    In the United States, the report found about 2.6 million Muslims in 2010, a number projected to rise to 6.2 million in 20 years. (The 2.6 million figure is far lower than the numbers claimed by some American Muslim groups, but not out of line with some previous studies.) At that rate of growth, Muslims would still be a religious minority in 2030, 1.7 percent of the American population — about the equivalent of Jews in the United States today.

    . The report suggests that economic and educational factors affect population growth rates among Muslims far more than the religious factor. In Iran, which encourages family planning and birth control, the fertility rate of only 1.7 children per woman resembles that of many European countries. It has the lowest fertility rate of any Muslim-majority nation, while Niger, a poor African nation, has the highest, at 6.9 children per woman. Iranian girls receive 15 years of schooling on average; in Niger, it is four years.


    1. I believe 15 yrs would put them ahead of the U.S. (and, just about the highest in the world?)

    2. .

      I noticed the same thing. When I went to google, the first thing you notice is they don't break it down by gender (at least on the first page of links). Second is that the US and Norway seem to lead the way. Third is that on most of the studies, Iran isn't even listed.

      However, the point of my post wasn't to ascribe to how accurate it is, but rather to point out that if our Anonymous friend decides to pick a study as evidence, he shouldn't cherry pick the results or for that matter ignore one of the main points of it even if it is opposite the impression he wants to leave.



    3. .

      Likewise, I would suggest that the EB provides rather fallow ground for prosletysing of any sort.

      Except maybe for Rosecrucionism, of course.



    4. "Pearls before swine" would be a wonderful use of resources compared to preachin' to the EB'ers.

    5. Rufus joins the Holier Than Thou Chorus of one.

    6. That didn't make any sense at all.

    7. .

      Rosecrucianism. lest I get in trouble with the kingfish in San Diego.


  26. After the worst drought in 60 yrs, ethanol is still selling for $0.70/gal Less than gasoline.

    It's time someone puts an "Ethanol-Specific" vehicle on the road. It's ridiculous that no one has, to date.

    1. There are, now, 3042 stations that sell E-85 (with approx. 60 added in the last couple of months.)


  27. Likewise, I would suggest that the EB provides rather fallow ground for prosletysing of any sort.

    This sod buster is having difficulty understanding what you mean, city slicker.

    Fallow ground is the best ground of all in which to plant seed. If you are trying to say the EB is a place where people readily change their opinions, upon some specious argument, then you got your use of fallow right. If you are saying the EB is not a place where people readily change their opinions, upon some specious argument, you got it wrong. In this latter case, I suggest you use some figure dealing with planting in clay.

    1. .

      Apologies, farmer Bob. I viewed is as uncultivated but I see your point. Poor word choice. It should have been 'barren' ground. I bow to your superior knowledge of dirt.


    2. Mother Earth, Sir.

      It is where the food comes from, and not the grocery store as you suppose.

  28. Outstanding commercial loans fell for many large and small banks in the first quarter of 2013 as business owners become more reluctant to borrow. The shift threatens one of the few bright spots for the U.S. banking industry and raises questions about the strength of the economic recovery.

    % change from Q4 '12 to Q1 '13 - top 5 decreasers:

    Arrow Financial: -15.5
    Simmons First National: -14.9
    Greater Sacramento Bancorp: -12.9
    East West Bancorp: -11.2
    Hampton Roads Bankshares: -10.3

    Top 5 increasers:

    Century Bancorp: +24.9
    Umpqua Holdings: +20.3
    OceanFirst Financial: +10
    Preferred Bank: +8.2
    Bank Mutual: +4.4

  29. When the arguments and numbers add up, opinions are swayed.

    rufus changed mine, on ethanol and of course ...

    ... the way the position of our host has evolved, politically, heart warming, to be sure.

    The basic Librarian theme is hard to refute, if you're a real small government advocate, and not a Federal Socialist that wants to use the power of government to force others to your patricular point of view.

    1. .

      Come, rat.

      How can you exalt the Libertarian message and argue against the power of government "to force others to your particualar point of view" when you applaud the gutting of the Constitution and reduction of individual rights, government interference in other countries in wars of choice, secrecy and deceipt, all in the name of saving a buck?

      Small government advocate? The same could be said of the GOP.

      Passing strange.

      I admit I am no Libertarian although I may accept perhaps up to 75% of their message. I see you, like me, as merely a peripheral libertarian with a amall L.



    2. I would amend the above to ...

      and not a Federal Socialist that wants to use the power of government to force others to comply with your patricular point of view.

    3. Librarian, Q, I've always been a librarian.

      As to"gutting" the Constitution, nothing could be further from the truth.

      The US is at War, you seem to oppose that, but don't present a real alternative. Prosecuting that war is not symptomatic of gutting the Constitution.

      Abandoning the Islamic Arc is no more realistic a proposal than nuking ""The Rock", but is a much more civilized and humane starting point for a policy proosal.

    4. Small government, Q

      Stand down at least four of the US carrier battle groups.
      Withdraw the US Army from Korea, Japan, Italy, Turkey, England and Germany, to start.
      Leave the Air Force assets there, for another decade.

      Audit the Fed.

      Eliminate direct payment subsidies from the Federals to corporations of any sort.

      None of which will ever be enacted.
      Except, maybe, auditing the Fed.

    5. End the tax code scams

      Etc., etc.

    6. rat: Abandoning the Islamic Arc is no more realistic a proposal than nuking ""The Rock", but is a much more civilized and humane starting point for a policy proosal.

      hardly more civilized. the abandoning the islamic arc will cause the death of 100's of millions, cause enslavement for women and destroy any chance for 1.3 billion moslems to escape islam as it stands today

      nuking the rock? less deaths than syria has caused to itself in 12 months,

    7. nah ...

      Nuking the rock, the beginning of a World War, not the end, of a regional conflict.

      The US withdrawal, a humane US policy, we'd not be involved in the wars.
      Those that were would bear responsibility for the outcomes, not US.

      We have no responsibilities to any of those people in the Islamic Arc.

    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    9. .

      As to"gutting" the Constitution, nothing could be further from the truth.

      The US is at War, you seem to oppose that, but don't present a real alternative. Prosecuting that war is not symptomatic of gutting the Constitution.

      Nonsense, you close your eyes to the truth with the rest of the sheeple in the same way they applauded Iraq until the truth was shown. At war? The only wars we have are those we start ourselves. Afghanistan was defensive and justified. However, after achieving our stated goals, our subsequent attempts at nation building has turned it into a fiasco, merely a smaller version of Iraq. A war on terror is merely a bunch of words dreamed up by a Bush speech writer, like the war on drugs or the war on poverty, merely and excuse for building up a redundant bureaucracy and enlarging the same government you profess to want to limit.

      The WOT as currently defined is a war destined to last for ever, and as such, it means that the imperial presidency will last forever, with his assumed right of judge, juror, and executioner. His denial of our right to information on the grounds of 'national security' merely secrecy and deceit. Consequently, the rights of the individual to a review by a judge, a warrant issued, and indictment brought forward, charges brought, and a speedy trial by a jury of ones peers becomes, de facto, meaningless. Your credulity in buying the charade on the basis of the government saying 'Trust us' is laughable.

      You argue I offer no alternate solutions. That's absurd. What I said was quit the bullshit and the secrecy, allow for open review of administration policies in the light of day, and have the constitutionality of those polices be determined by SCOTUS. With regard to foreign intervention, I suggest we QUIT taking actions that are counterproductive to our interests.

      Principles of the Libertarian Party.

      3.0 Securing Liberty

      The protection of individual rights is the only proper purpose of government. Government is constitutionally limited so as to prevent the infringement of individual rights by the government itself. The principle of non-initiation of force should guide the relationships between governments.

      3.1 National Defense

      We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world...

      3.2 Internal Security and Individual Rights

      The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security. This requirement must not take priority over maintaining the civil liberties of our citizens. The Constitution and Bill of Rights shall not be suspended even during time of war. Intelligence agencies that legitimately seek to preserve the security of the nation must be subject to oversight and transparency. We oppose the government's use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law.

      3.3 International Affairs

      American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid...

      Doesn't look like our government. What justification do they offer for past agression? Does it really make sense when they have ended up hurting America's position in the world rather than enhancing it? Yet, you have excused the incursion into Libya. You justify the current policy on directed assassination including 'signature' attacks evidently in order to save a buck?

      I doubt you would sell that argument to a real Libertarian. A librarian? Possibly, if she was an English major or didn't follow the news.


    10. desert ratThu Apr 25, 11:02:00 PM EDT
      nah ...

      Nuking the rock, the beginning of a World War, not the end, of a regional conflict.

      The US withdrawal, a humane US policy, we'd not be involved in the wars.
      Those that were would bear responsibility for the outcomes, not US.

      We have no responsibilities to any of those people in the Islamic Arc.

      The world war started long ago...

      Thinking that we can somehow leave the islamic arc to do as they will and we'll just "leave" you are dreaming. they wont let us alone, nor did they in 1783.

      for one that "claims" to have served in the US armed forces you certainly dont KNOW American history, duties or responsibilities.

  30. Because of its size, officials do not as a matter of course monitor everyone on the database, according to officials who spoke to Reuters. One source said Tamerlan wasn’t added to the “no fly” list or the “selectee list”, which mandates additional checks at airports.


    When Tamerlan travelled to Russia in early 2012, his departure was flagged up, but there was no such alert when he returned six months later. It is unclear, however, whether he was still on the Tide list at the time.

    The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said the attacks showed that the US and Russia must co-operate more when it comes to security issues. The details emerged as the brothers’ parents – Anzor Tsarnaev and Zubeidat Tsarnaeva – once again denied their sons’ involvement in the attacks.

  31. On this day in 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 13000 for the first time ever. The rally didn’t stop there.

  32. A husband says to his wife, "What would you do if I won Lotto?"

    She says,
    "I'd take half, then leave you."

    "Excellent," he replies,
    "I won $12, here's $6, now piss-off...!"

  33. I wasn't brave enough to read this article on Drudge -

    Calif. bill would let non-citizens serve on juries...

    Our country, or at least California, is NUTS.

    If the courts don't overturn this.......we are SUNK.

    This is almost like saying the Boston bomber boys should be tried by a jury of their peers, other fanatics and bombers.

    Zsa Zsa Gabor once demanded a jury of her peers. All from Beverly Hills. She didn't get it.

  34. Three marijuana advocates in Boise, Idaho, had their children taken by Child Protective Services this week after police found marijuana in one of the family's homes.


    Officers with the Boise Police Department arrived at the house to conduct a "Well Child Check," allegedly at the behest of a school administrator. (I've requested information from the BPD, and will update this post when I hear back.)

    1. If one has smoked oneself into a stupor and fallen asleep, the children may well be endangered.

      My cousin once smoked himself into a stupor and fell asleep and the next thing he knew was the cops were at the door and the apartment was totally filled with smoke from the stove, which he had left on. The smoke was pouring out a partially opened window.

      They saved his life. And he didn't get arrested, cause it was so smokey the cops didn't see the marijuana plants growing in the corner.

      This is the guy that guarded nuclear weapons in Germany when he was in the Army.

      It is now legal in Washington State of course.