Tuesday, March 18, 2008

THIS is the candidate "most qualified on foreign policy"!?

And he stands by the preposterous claim that Iran supports Al Qaeda in Iraq?!

You know, one reads this passage below and almost thinks McCain doesn't understand the basic difference between Sunni and Shiite. But surely our most "accomplished" candidate grasps this most basic of facts about the the "biggest external threat to America"!?

Right? RIGHT!?

Writes Steve Benen at Carpetbagger Report:

McCain continues to show confusion about the basics in Iraq
Posted March 18th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

At some point, not too long ago, the political establishment decided that John McCain is an expert on international affairs and national security. I’ve never really understood why — by all appearances, McCain is frequently confused and bewildered by basic questions — but everyone seems to assume that the senator has developed an almost unparalleled expertise on these issues.

Thankfully, with increasing frequency, McCain reminds us that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about most of the time.

Sen. John McCain, traveling in the Middle East to promote his foreign policy expertise, misidentified in remarks Tuesday which broad category of Iraqi extremists are allegedly receiving support from Iran.

He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.”

Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was “common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.”


All of this is, of course, wrong. Al Qaeda is Sunni; Iran is Shiite. This is “common knowledge.” McCain was speaking with authority about the basics in the Middle East, and getting the regional dynamic backwards.

This happens quite a bit with the Republican candidate.

The WaPo’s Michael Shear added, “The mistake threatened to undermine McCain’s argument that his decades of foreign policy experience make him the natural choice to lead a country at war with terrorists. In recent days, McCain has repeatedly said his intimate knowledge of foreign policy make him the best equipped to answer a phone ringing in the White House late at night.”

Quite right. How do you suppose the media would react if Obama had screwed up Middle Eastern basics this badly? Hell, Obama talked about pursuing terrorists into Pakistan and that’s still considered a gaffe for reasons I’ll never really understand. But McCain thinks — indeed, he insists it’s “common knowledge” — that al Qaeda is being trained in Iran to fight in Iraq? As Kevin put it, “This is hardly some trivial mistake. It’s like accusing Pat Robertson of supporting NARAL. It shows a complete disconnect with what’s going on in Iraq.”

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

The 'Ticking Timebomb' scenario is a neocon fantasy

The next time a neocon tries to justify torture, murder or illegal spying by claiming that 'we have to get the terrorists before they set off the bomb', tell them to shove it!

Reports Think Progress:

Former FBI agent: ticking bomb scenario is a ‘red herring.’

Jack Cloonan, who spent 25 years as an FBI special agent and interrogated members of al Qaeda, recently told Foreign Policy that he has “been hard pressed to find a situation where anybody” can say “that they’ve ever encountered the ticking bomb scenario” when interrogating terrorists. He said it is a “red herring” and “[i]n the real world it doesn’t happen.” Cloonan added that the Israelis, “who have been doing this for a long time,” have “never had a situation where it is quote ‘a ticking bomb.’”...

...Cloonan was one of the experts interviewed for the Oscar-winning documentary Taxi To The Dark Side.

Posted by Ben February 25, 2008 3:46 pm

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sadly my favorite writer resigned from the Obama campaign.



(Samantha Power is my favorite author because of, among other things, her book on genocide: A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide and also her essay on Darfur here.)

In an interview in Ireland, Samantha Power called Hillary Clinton a "monster". For this admittedly poor sound bite, the Clinton campaign went up in arms, and Power resigned from Obama's campaign. Resigning was probably the right thing to do, but it deprives the Obama campaign of a very talented and forward-thinking adviser who could have seriously helped move our country beyond fear-based leadership that's more concerned with dropping bombs than creating peace and security for us, our allies, and disenfranchised victims around the world (from Darfur to Congo).

For more on Power's interview and aftermath, see this post on the blog Obsidian Wings. At the end of the post there are nice quotes which help show what a special person Power is. With any luck, if Obama wins the nomination she'll rejoin his campaign, and hopefully, his Presidential cabinet.

I hate it that this happened to Power in particular. Samantha Power is a genuinely impressive scholar, analyst, and journalist. She won the Pulitzer for her book "A Problem From Hell: American and the Age of Genocide." Jonathan Cohn:

"Power -- whom I know a little bit and who has written for TNR -- is a bona fide intellectual who has dedicated her career to fighting genocide. (And, oh yeah, she's an intrepid journalist who put herself at serious phsyical risk many times in order to learn about it first-hand.)"


Steve Clemons:

"I think that Samantha Power is one of the outstanding intellectuals of our time. She has struggled with the question of how nations should respond to the signs of genocidal trends and been one of the key points of conscience within our foreign policy community."


As I said, I think she had to resign. That said, she's one of the people whose voices we can least afford to lose in politics. And I hate the fact that the way politics is played these days, she had to go.


Ms. Power, you will be missed.

Readers, I strongly urge you to check out my previous post on Power and Darfur here.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Who has the oil?

Saudi Arabia.

I came across this very interesting map which puts in perspective the various crude oil reserves around the world:

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sudanese government-sponsored terror and destruction resumes in Darfur




As reported in a giant front page story in the NYTs today (congrats to the NYTs for devoting so much space to such an important issue), the Sudanese government's practice of a three-pronged assault (Air Force bombing, Army raids, and Janjaweed raids) on innocent Sudanese villagers under the guise of "pursuing the 'rebels'" is alive and well.

While death, displacement and suffering had remained constant in Darfur, open attacks and violence at the hands of the government had largely subsided over the past few years. Instead of dying at the barrel of a gun, Darfurians were suffering and languishing in under-supplied and under-protected refugee camps.

However, it seems that the days of the Sudanese government's relative restraint are over. The government is back to murdering its own civilians in bombing raids supposedly targeted at 'rebels', yet mysteriously inflicted upon areas which the rebels long-ago fled.

More death. More destruction. More waffling by Bush, China and the United Nations. The Sudanese government continues its campaign to wipe out, displace and kill an entire population while it muddles international opinion with claims of civil war, rebellious locals and national soverignity.

Buy hey, at least China is about to enjoy its prize for improved human rights behavior. Enjoy the Genocide, I mean Beijing, Olympics.

I encourage you to keep abreast of the latest developments in Sudan by reading the NYTs story here.

I also encourage you to check out this brilliant yet tragic photo essay on the latest violence in Darfur. It really helps put the suffering of local Sudanese into context.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Steven Spielberg backs out of Beijing Olympics

Protesting the Chinese government's continued efforts to shield the government of Sudan from international pressure to deal with the catastrophe of Darfur, Director Steven Spielberg has backed out of his agreement to direct the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics this summer.

Good for Steven. In response the Chinese Government was clearly irate and publicly embarrassed. Good. Shame on them. The Chinese government helps keep the pressure off Sudan while the killing continues, and Chinese-made guns help do the killing.

Don't support the Genocide Olympics.

BBC story here: Spielberg in Darfur snub to China

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President Bush: Still ignoring Darfur after all these years

So writes Words of Power.

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

"In the next few months, we'll know about Iraq"

Think Progress had this great post recently that reminds us of the multitude of times the Bush Administration and media pundits have claimed, "in a few months, we'll know whether we're succeeding in Iraq".

The first instance the post cites is Thomas Friedman, over three years ago.

It might be over in a week, it might be over in a month, it might be over in six months, but what’s the rush? Can we let this play out, please?” [NPR, 6/3/04]


Sigh.

More goodies:

DICK CHENEY: I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency. [Larry King Live, 5/30/05]

JOE LIEBERMAN (I-CT): By the end of this year, we will begin to draw down significant numbers of American troops. [Washington Post, 7/7/06]

JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): If you talk to most military experts, we’re in a critical and crucial time. We’re either going to lose this thing or win this thing within the next several months.” [Meet The Press, 11/12/06]

ZALMAY KHALILZAD: Iraq Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki “has a window of a couple months. … If the perception is that this unity government is not able to deal with this issue, then a big opportunity would have been lost.” [Washington Post, 9/30/06]

I encourage you to read the full post here.

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