Let's talk about Egypt now, not America then. January 30, 2011 1:52 PM   Subscribe

While the Egypt FPP ended with the question "Will America support Egyptian democracy?", perhaps we could separate historical hair splitting about what America has done for other countries and what America is doing concerning Egypt.

Information involving US support for Mubarak and possible successors is totally relevant. However, the history of American support of democracy worldwide is less germane. I don't think many people will be swayed one way or the other, especially if it's derailing another thread.

(Thanks to everyone who made this point. I think it is the correct attitude.)
posted by notion to MetaFilter-Related at 1:52 PM (117 comments total)

It would seem that the US vs China vs world derail was resolved a few hours ago. There are some comments now about US involvement in Egypt, but they seem on topic mostly.

There's going to be a point soon where the thread is simply too long to realistically serve conversation--maybe just updates about the situation.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:05 PM on January 30, 2011


While the Egypt FPP ended with the question "Will America support Egyptian democracy?"

Ending FPPs with a question is bad all around.
posted by hippybear at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


However, the history of American support of democracy worldwide is less germane.

Why, because the Age of Aquarius has dawned?
posted by DU at 2:27 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Making a MeTa about a nearly 1500 comment thread seems odd, especially over such fine hair splitting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:29 PM on January 30, 2011


There's an existing MeTa about it as well.
posted by proj at 2:39 PM on January 30, 2011


Yes, a clear taxonomy for the multiple discussions about the USA would be an excellent project.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:00 PM on January 30, 2011


Making a MeTa about a nearly 1500 comment thread seems odd, especially over such fine hair splitting.

Equally add (to me, at least) is the phrasing of this post-- saying "...the Egypt FPP ended with the question..." as if it just sort of did it all by itself, rather than "I ended my Egypt FPP with the question..." which would be both more accurate and more honest. It's almost as if notion is trying to draw even more attention to his post about egypt while pretending he has nothing to do with it, oh no sir, just a coincidence he happened to be the one to make both that post and this one.
posted by dersins at 4:09 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


dersins: totally not my intent. And I don't appreciate that you assumed I was guilty before you even took the time to ask me about it.

My profile is entirely empty for a reason. I'm here to discuss and to learn, not to push myself as a product.
posted by notion at 4:57 PM on January 30, 2011


> My profile is entirely empty for a reason. I'm here to discuss and to learn, not to push myself as a product.

I think that's uncharitable to those who put information in their profile. It's not like profile information is the same thing as signatures in other forums where you can't help but see it; you have to take the extra step to click on it. People generally click on others' profiles to find out a bit more about that user. Perhaps some users here are pushing themselves as a "product" in some fashion or other, but I'd like to think that the vast majority are just doing a bit of friendly sharing.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:00 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


proj: I know the one you're talking about... if the proper etiquette is to limit one metatalk per post, I will remember it for next time. That's making much more sense now that I think about it.
posted by notion at 5:02 PM on January 30, 2011


Everybody calm down and eat some pie.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:03 PM on January 30, 2011


Burhanistan, I'm just saying that my interest is purely in promoting discussion. If my profile was filled with links, and I was running around MeFi trying to generate traffic to myself, I could see how dersins would assume I was up to no good.

There's a much better and simpler explanation: I'm just a weird guy.
posted by notion at 5:07 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Everybody calm down and eat some pie.

I have homemade peach cobbler in the fridge, is that good enough?
posted by misha at 6:06 PM on January 30, 2011


I have homemade peach cobbler in the fridge, is that good enough?

This store bought apple pie was kind of a disappointment. Until I scrambled it with a doughnut and microwaved it for a minute.

I'm calling it "The Fourth Stint".
posted by notion at 6:19 PM on January 30, 2011


Notion your comments on US politics and foreign policy have been disappointing. Your position seems like crib notes from Chomsky and the socialist worker's editorial pages. It isn't a conversation it seems more like trolling. Now this sidebar meta page.
posted by humanfont at 8:21 PM on January 30, 2011


Your position seems like crib notes from Chomsky and the socialist worker's editorial pages.

Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:01 PM on January 30, 2011


humanfont, you'll have to point to an example and then illustrate what the problem is for me to address it. Otherwise you're the one doing the trolling. Doing the equivalent of driving by my house and shouting "You suck!" certainly can't be raising the bar.
posted by notion at 10:27 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


It would be nice if people would stop calling each other trolls. It is an attempt to dehumanize the other person, and it is just crass and lazy.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:30 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


It would be nice if people would stop calling each other trolls. It is an attempt to dehumanize the other person, and it is just crass and lazy.

It would be nice if people wouldn't behave like trolls; for example, by getting caught playing abusive, childish games with other users' profiles:

... Burhanistan (co-resident parent date sweetheart) ...

It would be nice if I could be left alone by this individual, so I'll make that request publicly, here, since MeMail didn't work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:43 PM on January 30, 2011


It's not your profile, it's Burhanistan's and he, along with any other mefite, is free to make any sort of connection he chooses.

That said, if you're being dickish Burhanistan and attempting to push buttons, it would nice if you didn't do that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:21 AM on January 31, 2011


BRANDON BLATCHER STOP MARRYIN' PEOPLE
posted by gman at 4:23 AM on January 31, 2011


This derail should be put in a new thread.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:46 AM on January 31, 2011


*takes off priest robes, puts Bible down, sulks*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:56 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Notion your comments on US politics and foreign policy have been disappointing. Your position seems like crib notes from Chomsky and the socialist worker's editorial pages.

What? Are you going to lobby Matt to start an Un-American Activities Committee, perhaps with you in charge? What bullshit. Just because someone's ideas are different from yours doesn't mean they're "disappointing" to mankind at large (which is the sneaky implication of that pseudo-objective adjective).
posted by languagehat at 6:41 AM on January 31, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just because someone's ideas are different from yours doesn't mean they're "disappointing" to mankind at large (which is the sneaky implication of that pseudo-objective adjective).

To be fair, I don't get that read at all. To say something is "disappointing" just means that it either doesn't live up to expectations or is displeasing. I don't think your read is the only one. Your response seems to fly off into hyperbole a little bit. I also found many of notion's comments to be a little on the boilerplate-Chomskyite side but I'm not certainly ready to start up the UAAC.
posted by proj at 6:51 AM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fair enough. I withdraw my comment.
posted by languagehat at 6:54 AM on January 31, 2011


If we're gonna have witchhunts, I want to be in charge, please.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:54 AM on January 31, 2011


can i provide the ducks?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:29 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would be nice if I could be left alone by this individual,

Following someone around yelling "leave me alone! leave me alone! stop following me!" is a little unbecoming for a grownup, blazecock.
posted by dersins at 8:42 AM on January 31, 2011


Following someone around

I didn't go his profile, he went to mine. I didn't go out of my way to snipe at him, but he did to me.

So don't tell me I'm following him around when I have spent the last year ignoring almost all of his tiresome sniping.

Burhanistan is a worthless troll, acting out on my profile is just another example of how he operates here, and I'm not the only one he's trolled in the last few days.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:47 AM on January 31, 2011


Keep lobbing those grenades, and keep getting hit by your own shrapnel.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:53 AM on January 31, 2011


I just looked at your profile and I don't see any acting out by Burhanistan or anyone else on it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:55 AM on January 31, 2011


Keep lobbing those grenades, and keep getting hit by your own shrapnel.

Nah, so far, the more stunts you've pulled, the more people are seeing you for what you are. A child, reduced to going to other people's profiles and acting out:

... Burhanistan (co-resident parent date sweetheart) ...

How did hal_c_on put it when you took a poke at him a couple days ago? "You were called a troll earlier this week. Have you learned nothing from it?"

Clearly, you have not.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:02 AM on January 31, 2011


Dear Blazecock, you called me a troll, then hal_c_on said that (which was deleted, so good for you on keeping a copy somewhere). Not the best support for your argument. This is just cold and vindictive, and kind of silly here in a thread about something else. Start a new thread or leave it be, but please stop with this mischaracterization and melodrama. Good day.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 AM on January 31, 2011


Good day.

Nah, I'm not going to get my blood pressure up over you.

But what you do is not what a grown adult does. Adults do not go to other people's profiles and act out.

You can call that a mischaracterization if you like, but, for what it's worth, I asked you privately to knock it off, and your answer was that you enjoy behaving like that.

Unfortunately, others have been unlucky enough to be targeted by you, of late.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:17 AM on January 31, 2011


Oh my.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:17 AM on January 31, 2011


> I asked you privately to knock it off, and your answer was that you enjoy behaving like that.

My answer was "I like it there", to which you called me another name. I'm sorry that you feel I'm a repugnant, worthless troll. Too bad for you. Have a nice day.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 AM on January 31, 2011


More accurately, I called your behavior childish, which so far seems to be correct.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:20 AM on January 31, 2011


I actually meant "have a nice day" sincerely. Have a good one!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:21 AM on January 31, 2011


Jesus, Burhanistan, using contacts to deliberately annoy someone you've been feuding with ("co-resident parent date sweetheart") is about as immature as it's possible to get with the site structure. Don't be a dick.
posted by mediareport at 9:58 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fine, he'll just be my sweetheart.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:19 AM on January 31, 2011


Until now I hadn't realised people get uneasy about their contacts list. I demand the US stops providing aid to Burhanistan immediately.
posted by knapah at 11:02 AM on January 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why am I never involved in a Mefi spat?
posted by josher71 at 11:05 AM on January 31, 2011


This is getting really tiresome. Can't you two just ignore each other?
posted by smackfu at 11:17 AM on January 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm perfectly happy with not being the dios of the moment, so I will do just that.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:21 AM on January 31, 2011


remember when we could just hash this all out over trench coats and Marlboro lites in the D.C. parking garage.
posted by clavdivs at 11:27 AM on January 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is getting really tiresome. Can't you two just ignore each other?

I am upgrading this good idea to Official Mod Request.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:36 AM on January 31, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is pretty unbecoming of all involved.
posted by proj at 11:36 AM on January 31, 2011


Can't you two get 'shroom?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:41 AM on January 31, 2011


If you have more than three difficult people in your life, it is time to ask yourself if it is possible that you are a difficult person.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:29 PM on January 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or possibly you work at MetaFilter.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:01 PM on January 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just to be clear I was attempting to state that I don't personally consider notion's arguments particularly well developed or thoughtful with regard to America's historical legacy in world affairs. Everyone has a right to their opinions and I'm not trying to censure anyone. I just am expressing my personal disappointment. I'm not speaking for humankind, lobbying the mods for his threads or posts to be deleted. It is just me stating that I am disapointed. For the record I'm also disapointed in Burhanistans behavior as well. To make sure he feels the weight of my disappoint I am I have identified myself as his father, mother and voice of all his ancestors via MeFi contacts.
posted by humanfont at 6:17 PM on January 31, 2011


I second humanfont's comment on notion. There's a lot of interesting complexity to the situation in Egypt, and the U.S.'s response to it, and how it got to the position it did, which notion sums up as "same old bullshit". It's hard to have an interesting discussion when you're continually wading through the bile of high-school-level cynicism and righteousness.
posted by fatbird at 12:47 PM on February 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


fatbird: you're welcome to illustrate how Obama's foreign policy has differed from Bush's. And I'll take facts and figures instead of platitudes, please.
posted by notion at 1:29 PM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I still have yet to see any real meat from you, humanfont. You are free to continue claiming that my positions are incorrect, but if you are unwilling to quote and criticize, I will continue calling shenanigans.
posted by notion at 1:31 PM on February 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


This whole "I am disappointed in your comments" thing is so condescending. If you have an opposing argument, make it. Telling posters that they don't live up to your (unstated) standards is lazy argumentation. I doubt it would feel fair to you to have somebody put your contributions down as "disappointing, just rehashed neoliberal status-quo concern trolling" and then completely refuse to engage with your ideas.

Also, notion is not the only person expressing skepticism at the US's "complex" position that Egypt should just sit tight and wait until September for an election, with Mubarak's solemn promise that it will be totally fair and he totally won't interfere. To single notion out as some sort of abnormal, childish firebrand just for his skepticism and disappointment in US leadership seems rather petty.
posted by dialetheia at 1:35 PM on February 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've made my opposing arguments in the relevant threads. I see no need to cite them all here and rehash conversations that have been had. You've just created an example in this thread though which I will address. There are in fact significant foreign policy differences between the Bush and Obama administrations. Relations with Russia and China have changed significantly with a focus on more constructive engagement. We have backed off on missile defense and focused on arms reduction. Our foreign policy is focused on the realities of the new multi-polar world and the need for diplomatic consensus; not on a US as the perpetual global superstate and global hegemony that drove many of the Bush administrations worldview. We've sent back channels to the Taliban and Iranians in an attempt to find peaceable way to resolve our differences (though these have not born fruit). Obama has been a lot tougher on Israel, though not as tough as many would like. He even walked out on Netenyahu at one point. Obama has issued an executive order making the Army Interrogation manual the standard for all government agencies including the CIA. He has worked to close Gitmo (though political realities have prevented its closure). He has also issued orders closing all of the so called black sites/ secret prisons operated by the CIA.
posted by humanfont at 5:45 PM on February 1, 2011


humanfront I find it ironic that you call notion a parrot of Chomsky and then proceed to parrot the MSM.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:46 AM on February 2, 2011


*hands out crackers to entire thread*
posted by jonmc at 6:32 AM on February 2, 2011


I'm edge of my seat, wondering what new and unexpected comment will made next.

So exciting and interesting!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 AM on February 2, 2011


Get some kettle corn. I'll be back this evening with my response.

And Brandon: no need for projecting. If you have something more exciting and interesting to do, go do it.
posted by notion at 9:09 AM on February 2, 2011


humanfront I find it ironic that you call notion a parrot of Chomsky and then proceed to parrot the MSM.

There is a reason these views are called "mainstream", it is because many people hold them, including a large number of experts. I also reject fringe science that rejects AGW, argues that vaccines and autism are linked, or suggests that HIV is not a cause of AIDS. See also: Ayn Rand, Scientology, Uri Geller, and of course free energy schemes.
posted by humanfont at 9:33 AM on February 2, 2011


"Mainstream" and "Mainstream media" are two different beasts, you know.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:35 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am upgrading this good idea to Official Mod Request.

Does this request include marking others as "sweetheart" in someone's profile, for the sole purpose of continuing to take a poke at someone?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:49 AM on February 2, 2011


No. Let it go man.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:27 AM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


{chomsky falls off cliff screaming at his fate}
posted by clavdivs at 10:52 AM on February 2, 2011


And Brandon: no need for projecting. If you have something more exciting and interesting to do, go do it.

*shaves head*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:54 AM on February 2, 2011


> {chomsky falls off cliff screaming at his fate}

Chomsky wouldn't scream, he would make some dry acerbic sarcastic remark about how tyrannical gravity has always been and how this fall is no different.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:00 AM on February 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does this request include marking others as "sweetheart" in someone's profile, for the sole purpose of continuing to take a poke at someone?

It means from this point forward any future poking will be considered bad faith shittiness and we'd appreciate if some of the past undoable bad faith crap was undone.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:04 AM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


My MeFi mail is open to all.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:24 AM on February 2, 2011


Thanks, jessamyn. I'll state here that I know I would appreciate, too. I think it would be a decent way to resolve this. I hope it gets undone, as well.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 AM on February 2, 2011


>it is because many people hold them

argumentum ad populum doesn't make it any less ironic.

Comparing the MSM to science makes you look naive as does comparing Chomsky to Ayn Rand, Scientology, and Uri Geller.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:54 AM on February 2, 2011


AElfwine, I always preferred Paul Krugman's "Very Serious People (VSP)" appellation for those who swallow the conventional wisdom about everything.

Signs you may be a Very Serious Person include frequently agreeing with David Broder, hand-wringing about fiscal austerity and reforming Social Security, holding an unshakable faith in the US's right and ability to project its military power, and believing that bipartisanship is a virtue above all others. Bonus points for supporting the invasion of Iraq.
posted by dialetheia at 1:32 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you suggesting Noam Chomsky's views on American foreign policy mainstream views of foreign policymakers, historians and other experts? If we evaluate Chomsky within the realm of liberal punditry including Rachel Maddow, Paul Krugman and other prominent liberals would we place him within that group or apart and much further left? If we were to group Chomsky in an ideological cohort is it incorrect to state that Chomsky and his followers are a niche group within society? Finally do Chomsky's views stand up to real world experience or do they, much like the magic of Uri Geller, the neurological views of Scientology, and the objectivism of Ayn Rand require some hand waving nonsense to get around obvious errors?
posted by humanfont at 2:13 PM on February 2, 2011


Also I've provided pretty clear facts which can be verified from the public record demonstrating the differences in Obama's approach to international relations vs. the Bush administration approach. In spite of your attempts to dismiss these as mere msm talking points, you've yet to actually refute any of them or articulate a clear counter argument.
posted by humanfont at 3:58 PM on February 2, 2011


I'm neither arguing with your points nor defending those made by others. I am simply taking issue with your tiresome insistence that every idea be evaluated solely on some mythical beltway RIGHT OR LEFT scale, and your condescending dismissal of anyone who posits anything outside of that narrow Overton window. For example, your entire indictment of Chomsky in this thread seems to be that he is simply too far left to be taken Seriously by Very Serious People.
posted by dialetheia at 4:27 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also I've provided pretty clear facts which can be verified from the public record demonstrating the differences in Obama's approach to international relations vs. the Bush administration approach.

cosmetic does not substance make...
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:50 PM on February 2, 2011


cosmetic does not substance make...

This is why I didn't take notion's sucker bet.

"Here are a bunch of verifiable differences."

"Those are cosmetic, not real, differences."

Either actual differences are different, or the difference bar for AElfwine and notion is set somewhere that they know, that we don't, but we're cordially invited to find it by groping around in the dark. No thanks.
posted by fatbird at 7:25 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another example of disappointing discourse. Confronted by facts and details you follow notion's example into the one line blanket dismissal of "cosmetic does not substance make..." No details, nothing to really back up the claim and in fact ridiculous when one considers that you are suggesting that a breakthrough in Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia is cosmetic and insubstantial after years of escalating tensions between our nations including a major crisis in the Republic of Georgia during the last year of the Bush Presidency.
posted by humanfont at 7:43 PM on February 2, 2011


we're cordially invited to find it by groping around in the dark.

If you haven't figured it out yet I don't think there's much to be said. It's not my responsibility to figure shit out for anyone but myself. Maybe read some Chomsky instead of comparing him to Ayn Rand....just a suggestion. I would suggest starting with Manufacturing Consent. Hell if Chomsky's not your bag spend some time reading antiwar.com for a "conservative" take on foreign policy that mirrors Chomsky's.

No details, nothing to really back up the claim and in fact ridiculous when one considers that you are suggesting that a breakthrough in Nuclear Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia is cosmetic and insubstantial

Let's see what does the treaty actually do....

within seven years each side would have to cut its deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 from the 2,200 now allowed. Each side would cut the total number of launchers to 800 from 1,600 now permitted. The number of nuclear-armed missiles and heavy bombers would be capped at 700 each.

Leaving more than enough weapons and delivery systems to destroy the world hundreds of times over. As I said, cosmetic. Humanfront, if I really wanted to waste my time I could go through all of your points and articulate why they are in fact cosmetic, but after observing how you conduct yourself I don't really think you are worth my time. Besides it's not like facts have ever got in your way before.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:28 PM on February 2, 2011


There are in fact significant foreign policy differences between the Bush and Obama administrations.

There's your thesis. Let's see your evidence. When I say "Obama" and "Bush" I am talking about their administrations.

Relations with Russia and China have changed significantly with a focus on more constructive engagement.

This is too vague to analyze.

We have backed off on missile defense
"For the first time, we've agreed to develop a missile defense capability that is strong enough to cover all NATO European territory and populations as well as the United States," Obama said. (source)

“Those who say we are scrapping missile defense in Europe are either misinformed or misrepresenting the reality of what we are doing,” Mr. Gates said. He added that the new configuration “provides a better missile defense capability” for Europe and American forces “than the program I recommended almost three years ago.” (source)
and focused on arms reduction.

I applaud work on the START Treaty, but it does not differ from the reduction rates in the first START or the SORT treaty which was passed by Bush and Putin in 2002.

Our foreign policy is focused on the realities of the new multi-polar world and the need for diplomatic consensus; not on a US as the perpetual global superstate and global hegemony that drove many of the Bush administrations worldview.

No platitudes, please.

We've sent back channels to the Taliban and Iranians in an attempt to find peaceable way to resolve our differences (though these have not born fruit).

I guess the troop surge didn't provide the diplomatic consensus he was hoping for in Afghanistan? And Iran... I would love to see some links on that relationship. Obama is less insane than Bush, but different rhetoric does not mean different policy. And there's not even different rhetoric.
"It may be that their ideological commitment to nuclear weapons is such that they're not making a simple cost-benefit analysis on this issue," Obama said. If Iran's "national pride" drives their policy, "then they will bear the costs of that." The president said he would use "all options available to us to prevent a nuclear arms race in the region and to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran" -- the euphemism for military strikes. (source)
Obama has been a lot tougher on Israel, though not as tough as many would like. He even walked out on Netenyahu at one point.

That's tough, is it? Begging Israel to stop building settlements while increasing our aid, including more money for a missile defense system?
Despite freezing funding for most aspects of the US government at 2010 levels, the US House agreed Wednesday evening to increase military aid to Israel substantially.

Most significantly, the House added $205 million in first-time funding for the Iron Dome project, a short-range rocket defense system. The money was pledged by President Barack Obama last May, but had been stalled until now.

In addition, military aid allocations from Israel should increase from 2010 levels of $2.775 billion to $3b. for fiscal year 2011, while those for Egypt and Jordan will hold constant from 2010. (source)
Obama has issued an executive order making the Army Interrogation manual the standard for all government agencies including the CIA. He has worked to close Gitmo (though political realities have prevented its closure). He has also issued orders closing all of the so called black sites/ secret prisons operated by the CIA.

I applaud this move as well, but I think it's somewhat mooted by the decision to be the first President I am aware of that has authorized extrajudicial assassinations on American citizens who are suspected of crimes. Making public moves proclaiming your support of fundamental rights and then ignoring them the next minute is hardly the stance of a principled administration.
posted by notion at 9:11 PM on February 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


applaud this move as well, but I think it's somewhat mooted by the decision to be the first President I am aware of that has authorized extrajudicial assassinations on American citizens who are suspected of crimes.

The Alawaki bs rises again. Any person engaging in open warfare against the united states is a legitimate military target. Since a court has ruled on the matter now, it seems that the act is no longer extra-judicial.

That's tough, is it? Begging Israel to stop building settlements

Telling them to get serious, getting them to agree to a 6 month freeze, and walking out of the room and canceling the official dinner is a marked difference from Bush's policy of considering them the chief ally in the global war on terror and planning a third war in central asia for 2010. Your comments about aid to Israel and the US House of Representatives simply ignore the realities of american politics and the limits of Presidential power. Just because Obama hasn't gone as far as you would like does not mean that his policy is identical to Bush's.

guess the troop surge didn't provide the diplomatic consensus he was hoping for in Afghanistan? And Iran... I would love to see some links on that relationship. Obama is less insane than Bush, but different rhetoric does not mean different policy. And there's not even different rhetoric.

Obama's letter to Iran's Khamenei -- A diplomatic opening prior to the Iranian election.

I applaud work on the START Treaty, but it does not differ from the reduction rates in the first START or the SORT treaty which was passed by Bush and Putin in 2002.

Key differences: US disclosure of size of nuclear arsenal for first time. The arsenal sizes are 30% below those of the 2002 Moscow treaty. It includes the most intrusive inspection system ever negotiated (Union of Concerned Scientists) It does not constrain missile defense within the treaty but there is non-binding language in the pre-amble.

On Missile Defense. Obama has withdrawn support for Missile Defense sites in Poland and the Czech Republic. That is a major change in policy given that the Bush administration pressured the Czechs and Poles to accept these sites and withdrew from the ABM treaty.

On the subject of the overall worldview and the reset of relations with China and Russia. Perhaps you were confused by the typo Secretary Clinton's initial "reset" of relations with Russia.

Finally John Bolton was Bush's UN Ambassador, Susan Rice is Obama's. Compare their opening statements just as a starting point.
posted by humanfont at 10:08 PM on February 2, 2011


humanfont: lip service is meaningless. I'll concede the single overture to Iran, but the rest is just the same old bullshit.

The missile defense system across Europe is going up. Aid to Israel is going up even though they are building settlements. Alawaki is an American citizen, and his assassination would violate the US Constitution unless he receives due process, regardless of what some Federal judge traded his integrity for. The START treaty is merely a continuation of the rate of arms reduction as the Bush administration, as I stated, good on them, but it's not different from Bush.

Obama and Clinton can talk until their jaws fall off, and flip their tail feathers at state dinners all they want, but that's all empty gesturing until their policies change.
posted by notion at 11:13 PM on February 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: you'll notice that Obama and Clinton said fuck all after the Egyptian election last November.

He was "disappointed" in the elections. No reduction in aid. No change in policy. Just more empty words.
posted by notion at 11:17 PM on February 2, 2011


The missile defense system across Europe is going up.

What are you talking about. We are going to base it on Navy warships and the Russians are going along with it. We are also considering a site in Romania. The Czech and Polish sites are not going ahead.

Alawaki is an American citizen, and his assassination would violate the US Constitution unless he receives due process, regardless of what some Federal judge traded his integrity for

He can get due process anytime he wants, all he has to do is step in front of the courts and stop sending mailbombs via UPS. When you are engaged in a military campaign against the United States you arn't being assassinated if we start shooting back at you. No matter how you contort yourself no one, not even Alawaki disputes that he is engaged in a violent campaign of war against the United States. The ACLU can appeal, but no court is going to rule otherwise.


Also: you'll notice that Obama and Clinton said fuck all after the Egyptian election last November.

US Embassy Cairo Scene-setter January 2010. Outlining specific policy objectives and human rights work the US was engaged it.

Official US Department of State Communication On the First Round of Elections

Wherein we questioned the results of the election. In addition Mike Hammer of the NSC gave an on the record quote questioning the election. That isn't silence or saying fuck all, that's a clear statement that you didn't think the elections were legitimate. Meanwhile you will note that there is evidence in the Egypt thread on the FPP about the US work to train activists who are currently participating and organizing the protests in Egypt. You seem to think that denying aid is the only reasonable action that would push the regime, but publicly threatening the aid money is not smart diplomacy without broader support. Prior to the current violence it would have been seen as a provocative escalation and called into question the reliability of the US as a partner acting in good faith. It would also have served as nationalist fodder to strengthen the regime.
posted by humanfont at 12:10 AM on February 3, 2011

The MDA's FY 2011 budget request contains the following highlights:
$1.346 billion for the midcourse defense systems. This is $319 million more than the FY 2010 budget, but $127 million less than was allocated in FY 2009. It would keep the overall number of fielded GMD interceptors for countering long-range missiles at 30, compared to 54 under the Bush Administration plan.

$2.161 billion for the Aegis system and related elements. This funding level is derived from several separate accounts. In FY 2010, these accounts are designated to receive $1.943 billion. The proposed FY 2011 budget would be an 11 percent increase. The missile defense budget description provides general information about the five-year funding profile for most elements of the Aegis program. The Aegis system is projected to receive more than $11 billion during the five-year period.

No funding for the European missile defense sites in the "third site" proposal. Consistent with the Obama Administration's September 2009 decision to cancel the third site, the associated accounts in the missile defense budget have been zeroed out for FY 2011.
That's what I'm talking about. The missile defense shield is still going up in Europe. It may be more politically savvy, but the fact that we are starting another arms race and destabilizing MAD remains USG policy.

Your disrespect for due process remains unimpressive. Pretending the whole world is a battlefield is a bullshit loophole. Ted Kaczynski was terrorist too, but they didn't send in a predator drone to destroy his cabin when they decided he was a prime suspect.

And again, the fucking words. are. meaningless. Supporting murderous dictatorships may be good politics, but it's fucking immoral, and represents no significant difference from any other state in history, and certainly no change from the Bush administration's cynical worldview.

Prior to the current violence it would have been seen as a provocative escalation and called into question the reliability of the US as a partner acting in good faith.

Good faith? Good faith? You must be joking. I think the decades of directly funding violent, repressive totalitarianism has been a little more damaging to rep.
posted by notion at 12:46 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's what I'm talking about. The missile defense shield is still going up in Europe. It may be more politically savvy, but the fact that we are starting another arms race and destabilizing MAD remains USG policy.

So this is just a misunderstanding of my argument. When I'm talking about policy differences between the Bush and Obama administration WRT missile defense, I'm specifically pointing out that rather than an antagonistic anti-Russia strategy pursued by the Bush administration. Missile defense is a sacred cow of the congress, and isn't something that can be stopped. However when one looks at the actual deployment (delayed and pulled out of Poland and Czech republic), the missile defense shield has been scaled back significantly. I contend that this is a major policy shift and difference from the Bush administration. If you recall in the summer of 2008 US-Russian relations were at a low point over the war in Georgia, and 8 years of Bush attempting to restart the cold war had almost worked.

Your disrespect for due process remains unimpressive. Pretending the whole world is a battlefield is a bullshit loophole. Ted Kaczynski was terrorist too, but they didn't send in a predator drone to destroy his cabin when they decided he was a prime suspect.

The comparison to Ted Kacynski is laughable. We had a fixed location, control of the surrounding environment and full scale cooperation from local law enforcement, and Kacynski was acting alone. Alwaki is living in a combat zone surrounded by his supporters who have pledged to fight to the death. How is this fantasy arrest process going to work? The whole world isn't a battlefield, but the areas where he is hiding out in Yemen certainly are. The government of Yemen is engaged in an active counter insurgency against AQAP. Alwaki is a key leader of that organization, who has moved into an operational role directing terrorist operations against the United States and the Yemeni government. Our targeting of his headquarters and facilities are well within the rules of war and are being done as wikileaks cables demonstrate with the support of the Yemeni government.

And again, the fucking words. are. meaningless. Supporting murderous dictatorships may be good politics, but it's fucking immoral, and represents no significant difference from any other state in history, and certainly no change from the Bush administration's cynical worldview.

Training activists to promote peaceful change, securing the release of dissidents, working in secret with human rights workers to collect and report issues, and pressing for repeal of the state of emergency and the rule of law, and encouraging open and fair elections. These are not just words. These are actions.

Good faith? Good faith? You must be joking. I think the decades of directly funding violent, repressive totalitarianism has been a little more damaging to rep.

Apparently you think the only strategy for dealing with Egypt was an aggressive public condemnation of the regime and reneging on promises made under the Camp David accords. That policy would not have brought a broad coalition of Egyptian society in to the streets demanding change from the Mubarak regime. It would have resulted in burning of American flags and demands for respect of the Arab world. You seem to be suggesting that a specific tactical move is the only legitimate action without considering how that move would affect the overall goals, strategy and objectives of US policy. You are also ignoring real cultural and political dynamics in the Arab world.
posted by humanfont at 7:58 AM on February 3, 2011


8 years of Bush attempting to restart the cold war had almost worked.
"I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul. I knew that President Putin was a man with whom I could work." -Bush in 2001

'Putin gave pecks on the cheeks to first lady Laura Bush and the president's mother, Barbara Bush, and handed them bouquets of flowers. Before disappearing from public view, Putin was seen aboard former President George H.W. Bush's speedboat, zooming along the coastline, grinning and waving to photographers.

"I'm very grateful to the Bush family for this very warm, cozy atmosphere around this meeting, and we appreciate it very much," Putin said. "I do believe that we have to learn something from the older generation."' -NPR story in 2007
Alwaki is living in a combat zone surrounded by his supporters who have pledged to fight to the death. How is this fantasy arrest process going to work?

First, you have to wait for someone to commit a crime. Then you have to issue a warrant for their arrest. Then you have to apprehend them and charge them with the available evidence in a court of law. That's how due process works.

How would you feel if Cubans started air raids on Miami to punish the anti-Castro communities that have carried out terrorist attacks in Cuba? How about if Venezuela started carpet bombing the CIA offices that tried the coup in 2002? What if Iraqis landed in the middle of the night and assassinated Dick Cheney for his role in promoting the war against their country? I don't buy for a minute that anyone sees those as legitimate uses of force. And if they do, they're wrong.

Training activists to promote peaceful change, securing the release of dissidents, working in secret with human rights workers to collect and report issues, and pressing for repeal of the state of emergency and the rule of law, and encouraging open and fair elections. These are not just words. These are actions.

Shenanigans.
"With respect to Egypt, which, as your question implied, like many countries in the region, has been experiencing demonstrations. We know that they’ve occurred not only in Cairo but around the country, and we’re monitoring that very closely. We support the fundamental right of expression and assembly for all people, and we urge that all parties exercise restraint and refrain from violence. But our assessment is that the Egyptian Government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people."
-Clinton, after the riot police were already beating and teargassing protestors

"Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with Israel. . . And I think that it would be – I would not refer to him as a dictator."
-Biden, January 27th
That's why I love Biden. He's too stupid to understand that they're not supposed to say the truth out loud. Giving billions of dollars to the regime and secretly funding the opposition with pennies is just standard cynical power politics. It represents no values system.

You are also ignoring real cultural and political dynamics in the Arab world.

When China starts buying politicians and propping up police states so they can have greater access to our coal and to Canadian oil shale fields, I hope you enjoy it. And when the Chinese trained secret police shoot a Chinese manufactured tear gas canister from their Chinese built APC backed by Chinese built tanks and the Chinese built fighter planes and helicopters, and the force of the impact kills someone you love, you'll just shrug your shoulders and say, "Well, that's politics. The Chinese are just strategically dealing with our dynamic political culture to achieve overall goals and objectives in our region."

Adding nice sounding words does not change ethics or reality in any situation.
posted by notion at 9:30 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Regarding Russia, irrespective of Bush's personal bonds with Putin, our two governments had increasingly antagonistic relations throughout the Bush years. I simply can't accept your arguments here as they are contrary to historical fact and actions. The series of diplomatic crisis were well documented and reported by established sources and would be confirmed by any diplomat you spoke with on either side of the Bering Straight.

Your selective quotes of Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton just show that you are more interested in propaganda than truth. The administration officials have repeated supported the right of the Egyptian people to protest and peaceably assemble. You stated that the US was silent after the election and I provided clear evidence that it was not.

Returning to Alwaki
First, you have to wait for someone to commit a crime. Then you have to issue a warrant for their arrest. Then you have to apprehend them and charge them with the available evidence in a court of law. That's how due process works.

This isn't about his criminal activities. This is about an individual who is an operational leader of an organization that has declared war on the United States. The US Congress has specifically authorized the use of military force by the Commander in Chief against Al Qaeda. Alawaki is in an area which has active military operations by the United States and authorized by the Yemeni Government. He has been identified as an operational leader of Al Qaeda. The President is empowered to direct military force against him. Under the laws of war his options are to surrender, or peaceably leave the combat zone and end his role in directing violence against the US. At that point he may be subject to criminal prosecution and the courts because as a US citizen taking arms against the United States is against the law. How is this different that ordering military action against any other enemy target under the rules of engagement for a given theater of battle?

How would you feel if Cubans started air raids on Miami to punish the anti-Castro communities that have carried out terrorist attacks in Cuba? How about if Venezuela started carpet bombing the CIA offices that tried the coup in 2002? What if Iraqis landed in the middle of the night and assassinated Dick Cheney for his role in promoting the war against their country? I don't buy for a minute that anyone sees those as legitimate uses of force. And if they do, they're wrong.

As far as I know the anti-castro groups have not engaged in any recent terrorist activities inside Cuba. They certainly are currently engaged in a direct campaign of assassination and violence against Cuban, nor are they publishing a regular magazine calling for anti-castro forces to simply kill pro-castro cartoonists, explaining the finer points of bomb making and suggesting that their supporters simply kill as many innocent civilians as they can in an act of terror. If this is the case then they are violating several US laws and should be prosecuted. Failing that Cuba would certainly be within its rights to respond with appropriate force. WRT to VZ It is not clear that the coup was sponsored by the CIA. There are a number of options available to the Venezuelan government within the international community such as with the UN or with the OAS to provide sanctions and other measures against the US should they want to make that case. Certainly they have taken diplomatic action against the United States as a result of the actions and they are within their rights to do so. This is the kind of measured response that are the basis of diplomacy. In the instance of Al Qaeda there are specific UN resolutions against that organization which are part of our basis for using military force against it.

There are probably people who wish to do Dick Cheney harm and for this reason he maintains an extensive security detail. Anyone threatening him or committing violence against him would be guilty of a criminal act which would be subject to prosecution. He is not participating in an insurgency inside the United States nor is he engaged in operational command of any non-state sanctioned military actions. There are no UN sanctions in place against he Republican party, nor are their calls for member states to prosecute him or turn him over to Iraq. As a non-combatant civilian and private citizen he is entitled to the protection of the state, just as anyone else.
posted by humanfont at 5:08 PM on February 3, 2011


notion: --you're welcome to illustrate how Obama's foreign policy has differed from Bush's.

Whoa. Have you forgotten just how crazy the Bush administration was? They invaded Iraq and tortured prisoners.Remember how Cheney was criticizing Obama for not being willing to torture people?

Of course "not as bad as Bush" is a pretty low bar. But if you think Obama's foreign policy isn't any different from Bush's, I don't know what to say.
posted by russilwvong at 5:16 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Um that should be they are certainly NOT engaged on assassinations, etc. Apparently I'm as articulate as a Bush today. And yes I know this leaves me open to snarky comparisons so just laugh away.
posted by humanfont at 5:53 PM on February 3, 2011




Thanks for the links. I don't see how they respond to my earlier comments: the Bush administration launched a preventive war in Iraq (Bismarck: preventive war is "suicide from fear of death") and authorized torture. No matter how much Bush backtracked in his second term, nobody is going to forget that.

The three elements of diplomacy are persuasion, compromise, and pressure, i.e. threats. The Bush administration contemptuously dismissed persuasion and compromise, relying instead on threats or actual force. The Obama administration certainly hasn't renounced threats and force, but they're able to make more constructive use of persuasion and compromise as well. I would suggest that they recognize the importance of consent.

Louis Halle:
... real power is always something far greater than military power alone. A balance of power is not a balance of military power alone: it is, rather, a balance in which military power is one element. Even in its crudest aspect, power represents a subtle and intimate combination of force and consent. No stable government has ever existed, and no empire has ever become established, except with an immensely preponderant measure of consent on the part of those who were its subjects. That consent may be a half-grudging consent; it may be a consent based in part on awe of superior force; it may represent love, or respect, or fear, or a combination of the three. Consent, in any case, is the essential ingredient in stable power--more so than physical force, of which the most efficient and economical use is to increase consent.

By using physical force in such a way as alienates consent one constantly increases the requirements of physical force to replace the consent that has been alienated. A vicious spiral develops that, continued, ends in the collapse of power.
posted by russilwvong at 8:37 AM on February 4, 2011


But if you think Obama's foreign policy isn't any different from Bush's, I don't know what to say.

There are obviously differences. Just as Bush's foreign policy evolved over time so does the nations overall foreign policy posture. In my opinion most of the differences between Bush and Obama are mainly cosmetic. The empire still exists and Obama is determined to keep it that way. You can't understand a system by analyzing only a few parts here and there that you cherry pick because they suit your purpose.

the Bush administration launched a preventive war in Iraq

Obama has launched a secret war in the horn of africa and central asia. Not to mention the surge in Afghanistan. Obama has by the way also not taken preventive war off the table. Just because he hasn't seen fit prosecute a preventive war doesn't mean there is any difference between his policy and the Bush administration's policy.

and authorized torture.

Last time I checked the Obama administration wasn't prosecuting anyone for this...I wonder why that is? If you think that the U.S. wasn't torturing before Bush and doesn't continue to torture to this day your are naive.

I would suggest that they recognize the importance of consent.

Tell that to the innocents killed in Pakistan by U.S. drone strikes or the innocents killed by U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:15 AM on February 4, 2011




It also looks like the U.S. decision to not go full bore on missile defense in Eastern Europe had more to do with technological problems than any kind of major policy shift.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:59 AM on February 4, 2011


Is this really a good use of MetaTalk?
posted by proj at 10:15 AM on February 4, 2011


Tell that to the innocents killed in Pakistan by U.S. drone strikes or the innocents killed by U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan.

Last year our drone strikes killed 14 civilians and 814 combatants.
posted by humanfont at 10:25 AM on February 4, 2011


AElfwine Evenstar: It also looks like the U.S. decision to not go full bore on missile defense in Eastern Europe had more to do with technological problems than any kind of major policy shift.

I read the linked article, since I'm interested in the missile-defense issue--and it doesn't support your argument. (Technical problems reported, 2007. Bush administration finalizes agreement with Czechoslovakia, 2008. Obama administration drops it, 2009.)

You're posting a lot of links, without supplying much context (e.g. that Peter Feaver worked on Bush's 2006 National Security Strategy). Are you reading the links before you post them, or are you just skimming them and throwing them out there?

proj: Is this really a good use of MetaTalk?

Sure, if it prevents derailing of the other thread, and if we're not making additional work for the moderators.
posted by russilwvong at 10:29 AM on February 4, 2011


Fair point.
posted by proj at 10:36 AM on February 4, 2011


humanfont: Last year our drone strikes killed 14 civilians and 814 combatants.

I checked this link as well: it's to a website run by the neo-conservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. It doesn't go into a lot of detail on how they derived these numbers, so I wouldn't put much weight on them.

Human Rights Watch, looking at civilian casualties more broadly:
The armed conflict remains most acute in the south and southeast, with a marked deterioration in security in the north. In the first nine months of 2010 the United Nations documented the deaths of 2,135 civilians, an increase of more than 10 percent compared to the same period in 2009, largely due to increased insurgent attacks that often take the form of drive-by shootings or suicide bombings. US and NATO-caused civilian casualties dropped in the first six months of the year compared to the previous year. However, the third quarter saw an increase in civilian casualties, which matched an increase in the use of air attacks and night raids. US, NATO, and Afghan forces were responsible for more than 350 civilian deaths during the first nine months of 2010.
posted by russilwvong at 10:39 AM on February 4, 2011


Since we're talking about Afghanistan, there was a poll published in December 2010 by ABC, the Washington Post, the BBC, and ARD. Raw data. 62% of Afghans support the US military presence, 37% oppose it. Regarding withdrawal:
36. Obama has said he will begin withdrawing U.S. forces next summer. Would it be your preference to have American and NATO/ISAF forces begin to leave Afghanistan next summer, should they leave sooner than next summer, or should they stay longer than that?

Leave next summer--27%
Leave sooner--28%
Stay longer--17%
Depends on security situation--26%
posted by russilwvong at 10:55 AM on February 4, 2011


it doesn't support your argument.

Sure it does. Make the Russians think they are gaining something when in reality our missile defense system didn't even work. Bush bluffed, Russians called, Obama comes in and the Russians agree to sign a deal in part because they feel like they are getting concessions from the U.S. Nicely played if you ask me. The future of missile defense is not in ground based interceptors but in a space based system and our military and political leadership know this.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:11 AM on February 4, 2011


62% of Afghans support the US military presence, 37% oppose it.

Cool poll, but I don't think we should be making foreign policy decisions based on what the Afghani people think.

Last year our drone strikes killed 14 civilians and 814 combatants.

sigh.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:14 AM on February 4, 2011


AElf, arguing with humanfont is a waste of time. You could pile a world of facts at his feet, but if they disagree with his beliefs, they will be summarily ignored.
posted by notion at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2011


Missile defense has never worked; it was always an article of faith among Reagan and his followers that the technical problems could be solved. (Sam Nunn: "National missile defense has become a theology in the United States, not a technology.") See this 2008 article from the Center for Defense Information (a centrist think-tank).
Missile defense is the most expensive defense procurement program in history. Since President Reagan’s famous "Star Wars" speech in 1983, the U.S. has spent at least $120 billion on missile defense. Over the next five years, the Pentagon has requested another $62.5 billion for missile defense, with no end in sight.

If the next U.S. President and Congress support this spending on missile defense, by the end of 2013 over $110 billion will have been spent just since 2003, not counting U.S. missile defense spending in the previous 20, 40, or 60 years.

Yes, 60 years. The United States has been trying unsuccessfully to develop effective missile defenses for 64 years, since German V-2 ballistic missiles terrorized London during World War II. Yet today U.S. missile defense hardware still has no demonstrated effectiveness against an enemy missile attack under realistic operational conditions.
The future of missile defense is not in ground based interceptors but in a space based system--

Another CDI analysis.
posted by russilwvong at 11:21 AM on February 4, 2011


Makes you wonder what the Russians are so worried about...maybe they know something we don't. Either way the example I cited is an example of continuity of policy, not divergence.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:49 AM on February 4, 2011


--the example I cited is an example of continuity of policy, not divergence.

Uh, no.

The Bush administration pushed hard for missile defense based in Poland and the Czech Republic. They weren't "bluffing", planning to use missile defense for future bargaining with Russia. When the Obama administration dropped it, Obama was attacked by prominent right-wing critics like Charles Krauthammer. Comment by Jason Dobbins:
Do you see a pattern in all of these examples? There are stalwart allies, and hegemonic enemies. No one else. Every single decision we make must have the effect of challenging, confronting, or otherwise signalling toughness with a country that Charles perceives as an enemy (and in what universe is it prudent or useful to consider China an enemy?). The reason to keep a costly and useless missile defense program in Eastern Europe is because Russia wouldn’t like it. The reason to never leave Afghanistan is because our enemies there want us to leave. The reason to stop over in India is because China would be mildly upset about it or something. Black hats and white hats. Good vs. Evil. More war, more toughness, no dvd sets. It is an anachronistic neoconservative wet dream.
Like I said: threats and force. It's a form of militarism.

The neoconservatives are still the dominant policy faction within the Republican Party. See Sarah Palin's comments on the recently ratified New START treaty, echoing neoconservative arguments.
posted by russilwvong at 12:12 PM on February 4, 2011


Aelfwine pay notion no mind, you are doing a perfectly adequate job of engaging in discussion. I will certainly read the links with an open mind.
posted by humanfont at 4:45 PM on February 4, 2011


Communists were responsible for 10s of millions of deaths after WWII. We're short of that by orders of magnitude.
posted by empath at 11:19 AM on February 5

Let's start with 2 million dead in Vietnam. What communist nation invaded another country and killed more people? We can add Laos and Cambodia once you crest the 2 million mark.
posted by notion at 11:52 AM on February 5


This is a placeholder to allow empath to back up this assertion with facts.
posted by notion at 9:08 AM on February 5, 2011


Obama is the same as Bush; they're both carbon-based life forms.
posted by klangklangston at 9:10 AM on February 5, 2011


There are probably people who wish to do Dick Cheney harm *raises arm* "please, please".
posted by adamvasco at 9:50 AM on February 5, 2011


From the soviet/Afgan conflict alone 1-2 million Afgan deaths, 14.5 thousand Soviets killed.


Between 1958 and 1962, in China somewhere between 30 and 45 million people died of starvation because of government polices. 2.5 million where killed by the government directly and between 1-3 million committed suicide.
posted by edgeways at 10:18 AM on February 5, 2011


notion, if this thread was a functional democracy, I suspect you'd be out by now.
posted by philip-random at 12:59 PM on February 5


Not taking the bait for derailing this time, friend. But yes, anyone standing by democratic principles in the modern West is often discarded as a "trouble maker". I'm proud to be one.
posted by notion at 11:33 AM on February 5, 2011


History is written in blood. Afghanistan is an example of the great tragedy of much of American Foreign Policy. We let ourselves believe it was an unprovoked attack by the Soviets, but we'd set it up as a trap for them. Then we poured billions of dollars into funding the mow radical, uncompromising members of the opposition to keep the Soviets in their Vietnam. The blood of those millions is as much on our hands as it is on the Saudis, Iranians, and Russians.

The view many Americans have of the country is shrouded in myths. Still even though we've been immoral and ruthless, we've also done some good. The UN, the CDC, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Mediating the end of the conflict in Norhern Ireland and stopping the Bosnian war. We helped build democracy in South Korea and Japan. We've worked with a lot of political disidents and human rights workers. For example the Wikileaks cables show the extent of our cooperation with Tsangarai in Mosambique.

To discuss some of the points raised by Aelfwine, I think you've presented evidence that the US was at the very least aware of the coup attempt, down to operational details. It isn't clear how much of an operational role we played. It seems that Otto Reich and a few other Bush admin officials with a long history of shady stuff in Latin America tried to do some terrible stuff. I personally would like to see something more substantive than the OIG report which "cleared" officials of wrongdoing.

Of course the extent of our involvement in stuff like the VZ coup demonstrates just how out thee teh Bush admin foreign policy was. I think in the afteremath of 9-11 sone awful people were able to take control of our foreign policy, initiating the Iraq war is just one of many examples.

At the same time on ten subject of secret prisons I don't think you give Obama enough credit. These are not operated by the CiA, but by the US military, which is a slightly more complex issue as they appear more directly related to POW issues that arise in a military conflict. It is important that the ICRC is notified within 14 days of EVERY prisoner and allowed access. In fact we have conformation of the "secret" facility from the ICRC because they are allowed access.given the fact that there have been attacks on prisons in Afghanistan where high ranking enemy leaders are held, some secrecy may be necessary. I also think it is legitimate to question if the practices allowed in the 2006 revision of the Army Field Manual violate our conventions against torture.

There are things worth criticizing and being disappointed I'm wrt the Obama Administration. However to argue that there has been no progress and that things are not moving in the right direction after a long period of brutality is incorrect.
posted by humanfont at 11:36 AM on February 5, 2011


Last year our drone strikes killed 14 civilians and 814 combatants.

Hmm, and how exactly is it determined whether someone is a 'combatant' or not?
posted by delmoi at 12:52 AM on February 6, 2011


The casualty reports and strike locations are compiled from public reports in wire services, Pakistani media (eg The Dawn). Presumably one could cross check incidents against published reports if there questions of accuracy.
posted by humanfont at 10:49 AM on February 6, 2011


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