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151  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / A UK perspective on: August 24, 2014, 01:10:33 PM

with comments by Marc MacYoung

Some points about this. One, the cops had secured the area (arguably containing the threat).

Two, the guy was disturbed, not attacking.

Three, those two points allowed for discretionary time. (A wonderful concept and process, because among other things it allows you time to get other options -- like a fuckin' taser)

Four, the cop acting nonchalant hid the taser from sight and set up the attack The crazy dude didn't know he was being set up so he didn't react violently. Literally this -- not the technology -- is what made this a viable strategy.

Five the cop 'shot him in the back' (again, reducing the time crazy guy had to assess what was happening and decide to attack)

Six, the nature of the crazy guy's behavior was more threatening violence than actually attacking. Important because violence overwhelmingly comes with instructions how to avoid it -- even from crazy people. When he was first hit with the taser his reaction was more threatening than an actual attack (although it's possible he was waving the blade to clear the wires)

Seven, when he finally did get around to trying to attack the officer - well let's just say electricity is faster.

Eight, where I think the cops 'goofed' is their lack of polearms. While I'm sure there was a lethal back up, that's not necessarily effective for officer safety. Had that guy spun and attacked when the barbs hit him, we'd have a chopped cop. This even if the shooters opened fire.

Remember that discretionary time? If you're going for non-lethal (although less than lethal is more accurate) yay team! But you need to have something lined up to keep the officer safe if non-lethal doesn't work (which sad to say does happen.*) Even if another cop had a push broom it could have been used to hold the guy off until the lightening took effect. Or kept one's fellow officer alive long enough for the shooters to influence the outcome.

Am I for non-lethal measures if possible? Hell yes. But look at the the circumstances when they work instead of just assuming they'll work all the time. Or that you'll have time for them.


* Let's say that there's a 20% failure rate in certain circumstances of non-lethal means. Here's the thing about that. The people who are demanding the police ALWAYS use them, would not themselves volunteer for an assignment where their chances of dying were two out of ten -- so where do they get off demanding the cops take those risks?
152  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hosted by Frankie McRae on: August 24, 2014, 01:03:44 PM
153  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hosted by Frankie McRae on: August 24, 2014, 01:03:00 PM
154  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Our thorougly modern enemies on: August 24, 2014, 12:38:23 PM
Please post that in the Politics thread.  TIA


Our Thoroughly Modern Enemies
ISIS in the 21st Century
AUG. 23, 2014
Ross Douthat

IN his remarks on the murder of James Foley, the American journalist decapitated by the terrorists of ISIS, President Obama condemned Foley’s killers, appropriately, as a “cancer” on the Middle East and the world. But he also found room for the most Obama-ish of condemnations: “One thing we can all agree on,” he insisted, is that the would-be caliphate’s murderous vision has “no place in the 21st century.”

The idea that America’s foes and rivals are not merely morally but chronologically deficient, confused time travelers who need to turn their DeLorean around, has long been a staple of this administration’s rhetoric. Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad and tyrants in general have been condemned, in varying contexts, for being on the dreaded “wrong side of history.” Earlier this year, John Kerry dismissed Putin’s Crimea adventure in the same language Obama used last week: “19th-century behavior in the 21st century,” foredoomed by its own anachronism.

These tropes contain a lot of foolishness. Where ISIS is concerned, though, they also include a small but crucial grain of truth.

The foolishness starts with the fact that the history of liberal democracy is actually inseparable, as Abram Shulsky writes in The American Interest, from “the constant appearance of counter-ideologies that have arisen in reaction against it.” Whether reactionary or utopian, secular or religious, these counter-ideologies are as modern, in their way, as the Emancipation Proclamation or the United Nations Charter. Both illiberal nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism are younger than the United States. They aren’t just throwbacks or relics; they’re counterforces that liberal modernity seems to inevitably conjure up.

So writing off the West’s challengers as purely atavistic is a good way to misunderstand them — and to miss the persistent features of human nature that they exploit, appeal to and reward.

These features include not only the lust for violence and the will to power, but also a yearning for a transcendent cause that liberal societies can have trouble satisfying.

As The Week’s Michael Brendan Dougherty argues, discussing the Europeans who have joined up with ISIS, liberalism’s “all-too-human order” — which privileges the sober, industrious and slightly boring — is simply “not for everyone.” Nor, most likely, will it ever be: in this century, the 22nd, or beyond.

Which is why liberalism’s current dominance is contingent rather than necessary, and why its past victories have often been rather near-run things. The arc of history, another favored Obama phrase, has at times bent toward pogroms and chattel slavery, totalitarianism and genocide, nuclear annihilation. (For the Middle East’s persecuted Christians and Yazidis, it bends toward annihilation even now.) The ideals of democracy and human rights are ascendant in our age, but their advance still depends on agency, strategy and self-sacrifice, no matter what date the calendar displays.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

And yet: Despite perpetuating various comforting fallacies, the White House’s talk of history’s favorites does hint at an important point about the key weakness of the enemies we face right now.

That’s because even if history doesn’t actually take sides, many people the world over share President Obama’s impulses: They want to feel that it sides with them. So the most successful counter-ideologies, the most threatening of liberalism’s rivals, have always managed to give the impression that their ideas are on the winning side of history, and that it is the poor milquetoast liberal democrats who are antique and out of date.

This was obviously true of Marxist-Leninism, but it was true of fascism as well. The fascists were reactionaries, to a point, in their appeals to mythic Roman and Teutonic pasts. But they offered far more than nostalgia: What the late Christopher Hitchens called “the mobilizing energy of fascism” was inseparable from a vision of efficiency, technology and development, one that helped persuade many Europeans (and some Americans) that Mussolini and then even Hitler stood at history’s vanguard, that the future was being forged in Rome and Berlin.

Fortunately for us, that kind of energy is mostly absent from today’s counter-ideologies, and particularly from the self-styled caliphate whose brutality was on display last week. The term “Islamofascist,” popularized after 9/11, was imprecise because it gave groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS too much credit: They may know how to use the Internet to propagandize, but they otherwise lack even a hint of the reactionary futurism, the marriage of romanticism to industrial efficiency, that made the original fascism appealing to so many.

That doesn’t mean their ideas are destined to disappear. Their place in our century, our era, is secure. We may crush them militarily, kill and scatter their adherents, but variations on Al Qaeda and ISIS will probably persist as long as liberalism does.

But to contend for mastery, to threaten us the way Nazis and Communists once did, they would need to do more than demonstrate, by their continued depredations, that history doesn’t have necessary destinations. They would need to somehow persuade the world that history’s arc might actually be about to bend toward them.
155  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Law Enforcement on: August 24, 2014, 12:36:19 PM
This is a suitable thread and that was a good article.  I agree with its point about many agencies of bureaucratic missions (e.g. the evils of unpasteurized milk) going Rambo.

156  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How is that assimilation working out for you guys? on: August 23, 2014, 08:26:51 PM
157  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Jesse Jackson given hard time by demonstrators in Ferguson on: August 23, 2014, 01:39:18 PM
158  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / North African countries prepare for attacks on: August 23, 2014, 10:17:42 AM
 North African Countries Prepare for Potential Attacks
August 21, 2014 | 0415 Print Text Size
Moroccan and Algerian flags in Saidia, at the border between the two countries. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)

North African governments are on high alert following reports of potential terrorist attacks. In fact, several Arab countries have already begun to reinforce their defenses against foreign and domestic attacks.

Morocco appears to be taking the threat particularly seriously. Moroccan media have said the country has mobilized 70,000 security forces throughout the country, ramping up security in critical cities and at airports, transportation hubs, ports, dams and energy and phosphate installations. The threat also appears to have necessitated the deployment of multiple anti-aircraft batteries to key sites across the country. Moreover, air traffic controllers reportedly have been especially vigilant, and the Royal Moroccan Air Force has been monitoring civilian air traffic over the kingdom closely.

For months, Morocco has been in an elevated state of alert because of a variety of jihadist threats, including the potential return of Moroccans who have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State. The government also intercepted communications indicating that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is determined to stage attacks against the country. A number of terrorist cells have already been dismantled in Morocco and Spain, including groups that facilitate travel for fighters between Morocco and the Levant.

North Africa
Click to Enlarge

However, Morocco is not the only country in the region to be on high alert. Algeria and Tunisia have been battling spillover violence from Libya and have improved their defenses through tighter coordination, increased airspace monitoring and enhanced border patrols. Algeria reportedly has moved an additional S-125 surface-to-air missile battery close to the Libyan border. In addition, Algerian security sources told Anatolia news agency that the air forces of a number of North African and Southern European countries were coordinating with the United States to plan joint counterterrorism exercises focused on the interdiction of hijacked aircraft.

A key concern is the possibility of aircraft, military or civilian, falling into the hands of jihadists in Libya amid the chaos in the country. On Aug. 6, Algerian news site al-Fajr said 11 aircraft had been taken from Tripoli International Airport. Given that the airport is partly controlled by the anti-Islamist Zentan group and is under heavy fire, it is not entirely clear how large civilian aircraft could have been stolen from the airport. Nonetheless, the report highlights continued concerns about military and civilian aircraft in Libya and the possibility that they could fall into the hands of factions affiliated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or Ansar Dine. For instance, the Tunisian airline company Syphax has said two Airbus-A320 aircraft belonging to Libyan company Ifriqiya have gone missing in Misrata, although Libyan officials have denied the claims.

North African countries, particularly Morocco, are also preparing for ground attacks. The Moroccan security mobilization effort has been widespread, and security forces have bolstered their presence around numerous high-value locations and infrastructure -- a scale of deployment that certainly goes beyond concern over hijacked aircraft. The Moroccans are concerned about attacks such as the April 2011 Marrakech bombings that could be staged by the Islamic State or al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Stratfor continues to closely monitor events in the region, given its continued instability. Morocco is only the latest country to raise its alert levels: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon have already taken significant security measures. As the Islamic State and active jihadist operations in Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Mali maintain momentum, heightened vigilance is rapidly becoming the new norm.

Read more: North African Countries Prepare for Potential Attacks | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
159  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: August 23, 2014, 09:59:17 AM
Watch the clip.
160  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Terrorist Tradecraft Conundrum on: August 23, 2014, 09:58:25 AM
 The Terrorist Tradecraft Conundrum
Security Weekly
Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 03:20 Print Text Size

By Scott Stewart

In last week's Security Weekly, I discussed how the lack of terrorist tradecraft skills has long plagued the jihadist movement. The al Qaeda core has had the most success projecting terrorist power transnationally, but even its operatives have often practiced sloppy terrorist tradecraft. Tradecraft mistakes by al Qaeda operatives have led to plots being detected or botched, including the millennium bomb plots and Operation Bojinka. Sloppy tradecraft also jeopardized successful attacks such as the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing and the 9/11 attacks.

This amateurish level of tradecraft was sufficient in an era such as the early 1990s, when few people were aware of the threat posed by the jihadist movement and few resources were dedicated to countering the threat. However, in the wake of 9/11 the environment became far more hostile to jihadist plotters, and as the focus of every intelligence and law enforcement agency became firmly fixed on the jihadist threat, terrorist operatives' ability to operate transnationally was severely diminished. That is the reason the threat of a spectacular follow-up attack to 9/11 never materialized.

Terrorist threats must be assessed considering two elements: intent and capability. Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups clearly have the intent to attack the U.S. homeland, something that is evident in their rhetoric and their repeated attempts to strike. But what these jihadist groups lack is the capability to fulfill their intent. They do not possess the terrorist tradecraft necessary to bypass the security measures instituted in the wake of the 9/11 attacks or the subsequent enhancements to those measures. Tradecraft is also not quickly or easily learned, and acquiring it through practical experience is difficult for a movement that often uses suicide operatives. These constraints have resulted in terrorist operatives with limited tradecraft capabilities.

Response to Limited Capability

The frustration that jihadists have experienced because of their inability to attack the United States through traditional forms of terrorism -- most notably by sending terrorist operatives to the United States to conduct attacks -- has prompted them to explore alternate approaches. One such strategy has been to attack U.S. aircraft from overseas, circumventing the need to operate inside the United States. This was really a re-emergence of an old tactic, which had previously been employed by Palestinian terrorist groups in various attacks including Pan Am 830, by the Libyans in Pan Am 103 and al Qaeda in the aborted Operation Bojinka (though these past plots did not involve the more recent al Qaeda innovation of suicide operatives.) Since 9/11, we have seen many other plots to attack U.S. aircraft with devices originating from abroad such as the shoe bomb plot, the liquid bomb plot, two underwear bomb plots and the printer bomb plot.

In addition to attempting to directly conduct terrorist attacks themselves, militant ideologues began using their influence to radicalize grassroots jihadists already living in the United States and the West, encouraging those radicalized individuals to conduct terrorist attacks where they live. Initially, this tactic seemed to be successful, producing the Little Rock and Ft. Hood shootings in the United States. Indeed, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula founded their English-language Inspire Magazine in the wake of these two attacks to radicalize grassroots jihadists and to instruct them how to conduct simple attacks. A year later, the al Qaeda core group embraced this approach, releasing a video by Adam Gadahn that encouraged grassroots jihadists to conduct simple attacks where they live.

The Conundrum

Gadahn and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki urged grassroots jihadists to conduct "simple attacks" using knives, firearms or simple explosive devices. "Build a bomb in the kitchen of your mom" and use them against soft targets, they said. Simple attacks are within the reach of untrained grassroots jihadists. They are also very well suited to the skillsets of jihadists who have received basic military training in places like Syria and Iraq. In other words, they are people who know how to handle firearms and who understand the basics of tactical shooting but lack training in sophisticated terrorist tradecraft.

The poor terrorist tradecraft most jihadists possess and the type of training most receive in places such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen have meant that when jihadists have attempted to plan and conduct spectacular bombings, they have almost always been botched or uncovered by the authorities. An example of a botched attack is the May 2010 Times Square attack, in which Faisal Shahzad was able to obtain the materials required to build a car bomb but was unable to properly assemble a functional improvised explosive device. An example of a plot that was uncovered and thwarted by the authorities is the September 2009 plot to bomb the New York subway system that involved Najibullah Zazi.

In 2010, considering the training and capability of most jihadist militant actors and the new emphasis on simple attacks, I concluded we were about to see a shift in jihadist terrorist tactics away from failed bombings and toward armed assaults. However, the attempt by jihadist ideologues to change the mentality of jihadist operatives has been largely unsuccessful, and it did not produce the volume of expected attacks. We have seen a few simple attacks conducted by such people, including shootings in Frankfurt, Germany, in March 2011; in Toulouse, France, in April 2012; and in Brussels, Belgium, in June 2014. The April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing is a case of unsophisticated jihadists using the bomb-making instructions in Inspire Magazine to conduct a simple attack.

Despite the intensive media coverage and hysteria caused by a simple attack like the Boston Marathon bombing, we have yet to see a large percentage of the grassroots jihadist militant world adopt the "simple attack" concept. For every successful simple attack we have seen, there have been multiple would-be militants such as Terry Lowen, Adel Daoud and Quazi Nafis who have aspired to attacks beyond their capabilities and failed.

This is partly because, apparently, most jihadists prefer to fight on the battlefield against foes like the Syrian military rather than attack civilian soft targets. But beyond the jihadist preference to travel to fight rather than to conduct attacks at home, there is another conundrum that puzzles me. Although most jihadists believe that it is permissible to give one's life during an attack, they continue to aspire to spectacular attacks that are beyond their capabilities and that have a very high chance of failure rather than to simple attacks that are certain to succeed. I am not a psychologist, but I speculate that perhaps there is something in the psychological makeup of people drawn to the ideology of jihadism that causes them to gravitate toward the spectacular rather than the obtainable. Perhaps they also believe that in order to justify their suicide, the attack must be spectacular.

I am not the only one puzzled by this tendency. It also appears to confound the al Qaeda ideologues who do not see the "harvest" of attacks they anticipated. Such people are used to seeing their directives carried out on the battlefield, and they surely must be perplexed that grassroots jihadists continue to botch attacks or walk into sting operations rather than conduct simple attacks within their capabilities.

But it does appear that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is attempting to adapt to the situation. In response to the ambition of grassroots jihadists, the group has attempted to equip them to conduct the types of spectacular attacks they aspire to. In the 12th edition of Inspire Magazine, published in March 2014, the Open Source Jihad section was titled "Car Bombs Inside America" and contained instructions for building a vehicle bomb. The group republished the section Aug. 16 along with some other previously published material (including the pressure cooker bomb plans used in the Boston Marathon bombing) in a publication entitled "Palestine Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience."

So far, we have not seen any attacks, attempted attacks or thwarted plots containing these vehicle bomb instructions. Still, the instructional material is out there, and given the number of past plots in which individuals attempted to follow the magazine's pipe bomb and pressure cooker bomb instructions, it may only be a matter of time before we see someone attempt to build and deploy a car bomb using these plans. In the meantime, the directions contained in "Car Bombs Inside America" have given intelligence and law enforcement officers new indicators of bomb making activity to look for.

Read more: The Terrorist Tradecraft Conundrum | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
161  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Hollywood vs. Reality on: August 23, 2014, 09:54:26 AM
You might like this one too:
162  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Romney on: August 23, 2014, 09:35:13 AM
Romney and Paul Ryan appeared on the Kelly Files on FOX the other night.  I must say the man looked and sounded very presidential and Ryan looked very Vice-Presidential next to him.

Worth finding on youtube and taking a look.
163  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: August 23, 2014, 09:33:23 AM
Fourth post:

For the record, at the moment my sense of things is:

A) support the Kurds-- both their independence and with arms-- with strong consideration being given to establishing the option of a military base or two there.

B) Then, play balance of power games-- let the bad guys kill each other;

C) Support the incipient Israel-Egypt-Saudi-Jordan alliance

D) CONTROL OUR FG BORDER!!! Firmly address issues related to Jihadi holders of US and Euro passports.

This are many fast moving variables in play here and as always, I reserve the right to adjust my opinion.
164  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Harsh Reality on: August 23, 2014, 09:27:42 AM
Third post

 The Hard Hand of the Middle East
Global Affairs
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 03:37 Print Text Size
Global Affairs with Robert D. Kaplan

By Robert D. Kaplan

Reality can be harsh. In order for the United States to weaken and eventually defeat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, it could use help from both the Iranian regime and that of President Bashar al Assad in Syria. In the Middle East, it takes illiberal forces to defeat an even more illiberal force. The mullahs' Iran and al Assad's Syria sadly represent the material at hand, with which the United States must somehow work or tolerate, however surreptitiously, however much it will deny it at the same time. Ah, you might say, What about the moderate, liberal opposition in Syria? Answer: Such forces are more viable on paper than on the battlefield.

The truth is understood but cannot always be admitted, either by officials or by journalists -- the truth being that order is preferable to disorder, meaning dictatorship is preferable to chaos, even if dictatorship itself has often been the root cause of such chaos.

The Islamic State is the fruit of chaos. It arose in a vacuum of authority. That vacuum was created by both the weakening of an absolutist (albeit secular-trending) regime in Syria and the inability of a stable, power-sharing system to take hold in Iraq following America's dismantling of Saddam Hussein's own repressive rule. And the worse the chaos, the more extreme will be the reaction. Thus, from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq that together have killed many hundreds of thousands of people and have featured a plethora of armed groups, the Islamic State has emerged in all its horrifying barbarity.

This harsh moral and political reality extends beyond Syria and Iraq to the larger Levant and the Middle East. Egypt is now, once again, governed by an illiberal, Pharaonic regime, worse arguably than that of the deposed military dictator Hosni Mubarak. It has killed many demonstrators in the streets. It features a budding personality cult around its president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Yet it is a friend of Western and Israeli interests, whereas the democratically-elected government it illegally deposed, that of the Muslim Brotherhood, was demonstrably not a friend of the West or Israel. That's right, Western interests can sometimes -- often, actually -- be better served by autocracies than by democracies: that's if the autocracy in question happens to be more liberal and secular in its values than the democracy in question. It is the regime's philosophical values that are crucial -- more so than the manner of how it came to power.

As the situation now stands, if there is going to be a less violent relationship between Israel and Gaza it is more likely to occur through the auspices of the al-Sisi regime in Cairo than through the Obama administration in Washington. It might not even be an exaggeration to say that the Israeli government, for the moment at least, trusts al-Sisi more than it trusts U.S. President Barack Obama. Though Obama might like to think of himself as a realist, the fact is that a President Richard Nixon or a President George H. W. Bush -- and their secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger and James Baker III -- would have openly acknowledged their friendship with the current Egyptian regime, while Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, cannot quite bring themselves to do it.

To repeat, America's friends in the region for decades have been -- and will continue to be -- autocrats. George Kennan, arguably America's greatest foreign service officer of the 20th century, pointed out that the internal nature of a regime was less important to the United States than its international posture. To wit, autocratic Egypt has been more helpful in the Gaza crisis than democratic Turkey.

Other examples:

Oman is a great friend of the United States. Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said has quietly provided temporary basing support and logistics for American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and has been among the United States' most avid diplomatic allies in the region. He rules in a liberal fashion. But he is an absolute dictator.

Morocco, like Oman, has always been among America's most dependable friends in the Middle East. King Mohamed VI has been moving in the direction of a constitutional monarchy. But Morocco remains stable and dependable precisely because power ultimately rests with the monarch; thorough democracy could undo the country.

America's worst strategic nightmares in the Arab world would be the toppling of the regimes in Jordan and Saudi Arabia -- two royal dictatorships, and in Saudi Arabia's case, an illiberal one at that. The Saudi royal family is probably the worst group of people a liberal American could imagine running that country, except for any other group in Riyadh that might replace it. In other words, there is no choice here. Again, we have to work with the material at hand. And again, let's be honest, the Islamic State is ultimately dangerous not only because it threatens a very unstable, illiberal democracy in Iraq, but also because it threatens more useful nearby autocracies whose policies are often convenient to the West.

In all of this, those who promote democracy in the Middle East with the intensity of an ideology will say over and over again, But what about Tunisia? Tunisia is a democracy, and it is pro-Western. True. But the very phrase, "But what about…," in the singular, indicates that Tunisia is the exception that proves the rule. Tunisia's democracy, moreover, is unstable. Tunisia's borders have been insecure and its hinterlands in places have been close to ungovernable since the toppling of its dictatorship in early 2011. Tunisia's democracy is a close-run affair, in other words. And Tunisia has the advantage of being a real place, an age-old cluster of civilization, without sectarian or ethnic differences and not divided internally by mountains. Because it is not geographically and historically artificial, Tunisia is not plagued by the challenges that have made Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya chaotic and largely ungovernable.

But isn't it autocracy, too, that has led to such chaos? Yes, but that does not necessarily mean that democracy is viable in the current circumstances. To say that there is no other choice but democracy is to assume there is an immediate solution to every problem, whereas there may not be.

The Israelis know all of this. Therefore, nothing of what I say is shocking or even surprising to them. Indeed, over the decades they have embraced Arab autocrats through back channels. The Israelis have actually feared popular upheavals in the Arab world, aware that Arab autocrats are more likely to be less anti-Western and less anti-Israel than the man in the street. The fight for sheer physical survival is clarifying and dissipates illusions.

American illusions are illusions in the short term, though, not necessarily in the long term. Over the span of the decades, Arab societies may yet make the tumultuous transition from autocracy to some form of truly representative government. The very fact that Iraq's outgoing prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has been removed from power in a legal process without bloodshed in Baghdad is a sign of some hope. But foreign policy, while it requires an eye on long-term historical transitions, has to be practical about the here and now. And that requires candor among officials themselves and candor in how they explain things to the American people.

Read more: The Hard Hand of the Middle East | Stratfor
Follow us: @stratfor on Twitter | Stratfor on Facebook
165  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US Explores options on: August 23, 2014, 09:23:33 AM
second post

 The U.S. Explores Options Against the Islamic State
August 23, 2014 | 0601 Print Text Size
IS Options
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey hold a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington on Aug. 21, 2014. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Aug. 21 that Islamic State militants cannot be defeated without a comprehensive approach that takes into account the group's presence in both Iraq and Syria. While neither Dempsey nor Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directly stated that the United States intended to carry out operations in Syria, their comments indicate that there is a potential for increased U.S. involvement in the Syrian conflict in pursuit of the Islamic State. Were Washington to decide to strike directly in Syria, it could align itself with any number of groups. Each scenario presents different levels of risk, and with more risk comes a greater chance of success.

The most limited U.S. option in Syria would be to carry out a set number of targeted airstrikes focused on high-value Islamic State leaders, possibly including top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The detailed intelligence needed for such an approach would require the United States to cooperate with several regional actors. And while such strikes could degrade the Islamic State's leadership, Dempsey noted Aug. 21 that air power alone would not significantly hinder the group's capabilities. It would, however, offer a means of combating the militant group without the United States necessarily becoming entangled in the Syrian civil war, something Washington has avoided so far.

Washington could also opt for a more comprehensive approach. This could include targeting significant concentrations of Islamic State forces, their energy infrastructure or their supply depots and logistics networks across Syria and Iraq. Were the United States to pursue this course, it would need to factor in the impact of these strikes on the balance of the civil war. More directly, the U.S. Air Force would have to take into account the air power, air defenses and command and control capabilities of the al Assad regime.

In the more comprehensive scenarios, the United States would then have to choose between coordinating with the Syrian regime to determine targeting and flight parameters -- preferably covertly with the help of Iraq or even Iran -- or actively deterring regime interference. Both options are very risky politically. Cooperation with al Assad would open the U.S. administration to serious domestic and foreign political blowback, while the second option could derail critical nuclear negotiations with Iran, a key ally of the Syrian regime.

Ultimately, even a broader air campaign would serve only to weaken rather than cripple the Islamic State. In order to severely degrade the group's capabilities, the United States would need to get involved in the Syrian conflict in a manner similar to its involvement in Iraq. In Syria this would entail active partnership with one or more of the key belligerents in the civil war -- involvement that carries its own risks.

In one version of this scenario, the United States could choose to partner with the forces fighting the al Assad regime by bolstering them with air power. Washington is already working with rebels to a large degree through a CIA program that provides arms and training. The Obama administration has also sought congressional funds to transition this into a more comprehensive U.S. Special Operations Command effort. Were the United States to partner with rebels through enhanced weapons transfers, embedded special operations forces or air power, it would upgrade the relationship significantly and risk severe blowback. The Syrian rebels are not a homogenous or unified force and their affiliations are murky and in flux. Both domestic U.S. and international critics would fault the administration for potentially directly or indirectly supporting extremist forces, especially if U.S. weapons were found in jihadists' hands. The United States would also face difficulty pushing the rebels toward fighting the Islamic State because rebel combat power is currently directed against regime forces. And any U.S. alignment with rebels would embroil it in conflict with the Syrian regime, especially while Syrian air defenses and air power are still a viable force. This, by extension, could affect nuclear talks with Iran.

Conversely, the United States could elect a gradual rapprochement with the Syrian regime in mutual support against the Islamic State. This relationship would likely have to be open; a more covert working relationship would stand in the way of comprehensive operations. The United States could do this by removing sanctions against the Syrian regime, transferring select equipment or by providing air support. This has the advantage of bolstering the U.S. position in nuclear negotiations with Iran. It would also provide a more viable means of defeating the Islamic State over the long term. This option is not viable, however, because it would necessarily involve a reversal of the current U.S. position. Abandoning rebel allies would also severely degrade U.S. alliances with Turkey, Israel and the Gulf Cooperation Council and would open the Obama administration to domestic political attacks.

Finally, there is an interim option: Washington could bolster the Kurdish People's Protection Units, known as the YPG, in a manner similar to its partnership with the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga. One of the advantages of the People's Protection Units is that they have already proved capable in previous combat with the Islamic State. This alliance would also be of less concern to the Syrian rebels and the al Assad regime, but it would also have a smaller impact because the People's Protection Units operate only in Kurdish-populated areas. U.S. ally Turkey is also suspicious of the group because of its ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which operates inside Turkey.

The least risky scenarios the United States can pursue -- limited airstrikes or alignment with the People's Defense Forces -- are also the least likely to damage the Islamic State in the long run. In Iraq, the United States is pursuing cooperation through longstanding relationships with the Iraqi government and the peshmerga. The Syrian situation, however, is much more complex. In upping its chances of success, Washington also opens itself to a host of secondary risks and negative side effects. Given the administration's risk-averse nature, the United States may very well elect to pursue the independent, more limited approach in Syria. Overall, however, the fact remains that the United States has no easy options in Syria.

Read more: The U.S. Explores Options Against the Islamic State | Stratfor
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166  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Europe's jihadi Girls on: August 23, 2014, 09:21:04 AM
Europe's Jihadist Girls: Teen Rebellion That Kills
by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
August 14, 2014

 Like many girls her age, 15-year-old Moezdalifa El Adoui left her family's home on a summer afternoon without stopping to say goodbye. But unlike other teens, she wasn't going shopping or meeting friends downtown. The Dutch-Moroccan girl with the sweet warm smile was running away for Syria, to join in the jihad.

The moment they noticed she was gone, her parents phoned the police and her brother spread the word on Facebook. The next day, June 22, Moezdalifa was stopped at the airport in Dusseldorf, from where she planned to fly to Turkey and – like thousands of other European Muslims before her – to cross the border into Syria.

It is hard to imagine a 15-year-old girl, raised in the luxury and opportunity of Europe, running away to join an insurgency abroad, choosing to exchange friends and family for a life on the battlefield of a violent civil war. But over the past year, more and more underage European girls have headed off to Syria to take part in the Islamist uprising. Some go with boyfriends; others, like Moezdalifa, are lured by promises of a better life and lifelong romance once they arrive.

Indeed, according to Janny Groen, a reporter for Holland's Volkskrant, Moezdalifa was one of a group of several girls from the Netherlands all planning to make the trip.
They were by no means the only ones: around the same time, for instance, 16-year-old twins Salma and Zahra Hulani slipped out of their parents' Manchester, England home in the middle of the night, also for Syria. And in April, Samra Kesinovic, 16, left home in Vienna with her friend Sabine Selimovic, aged 15. Austrian officials, reports the UK's Mail Online, now "believe that the pair are in a training camp and are not only already married, but also already living in the homes of their new husbands." Both girls, daughters of (Muslim) Bosnian refugees, were born and raised in Vienna.

All of these seem to be part of a new campaign by ISIS to recruit Western Muslims. "The self-proclaimed Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym ISIS, is actively recruiting Western women and girls," according to the Daily Beast. "And in the process this 'caliphate' that now occupies large swathes of Syria and Iraq is showing, once again, that it's almost as shrewd with social media as it is ruthless on the battlefield."

It is perhaps tempting to wave off such disappearances with a "you know how kids are," or observe that other kids in the 1960s, say, also ran off to join a "revolution" – usually to London or to Berkeley, Calif. But those girls were running away from a culture of war; these are running to its front lines. The first wanted peace, equality, universal love. These girls seek conquest. The children of the '60s imagined "no religion." The children of the jihad imagine only one.

Even so, much of what motivated '60s teens to join the hippie movement is still part of what stirs even underage Muslims in the West to join the extremists in Aleppo. Dutch adolescent psychiatrist Carla Rus, who specializes in treating Muslim girls, notes that their age makes them especially vulnerable to manipulation by recruiters. "They are already turning, because of puberty, against their parents and their society," she observed in a recent e-mail. "Some of them may also be smitten with a jihadist boy, and easily sucked in by his ideology and ideas. Or they may have problems at home, where they get little attention."

Problems at home can be a particularly influential factor for Muslim girls, who are frequently overlooked by their parents in homes where sons are king and where they are often repressed by parents and by brothers. The girls' urge to break free from their families, coupled with a defiant attitude ("I'll show them") and a wish to prove themselves as worthy also make them easy prey for recruiters – many of whom they encounter in local mosques (as the Austrian girls did) or online.

In Moezdalifa's case, one of her friends told Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, the contact came through Facebook, where two Muslim women from Belgium assured her that, "In Syria she could have a perfect life and get married." Others are specifically targeted by young men around their own age, like 18-year-old Dutch-Moroccan Oussama C, alias Abou Yazeed, who was arrested in June in The Hague just days before Mouzdalifa disappeared.

And ISIS jihadists reportedly have recently released English-language videos aimed at encouraging Westerners to join them. "All my brothers, come to jihad," says one, according to an NBC News report. "Feel the honor we are feeling, feel the happiness that we are feeling." A similar video, created in Dutch, received 57,000 hits in its first day.

Tragically, Muslim parents in the West have been sounding the alarm for well over a year now, warning of recruiters targeting underage youth. In the Netherlands, at least one father filed suit against the Dutch intelligence agency for failing to address the problem.

Now, with a reported 3,000 Europeans having joined Syrian jihadist groups, officials are cracking down. Dual Dutch citizens can lose their Dutch passports, for instance; and in early July, EU leaders announced a "confidential action plan" to address the problem, with measures that include passport confiscation and international arrest warrants.
But for girls like the Halane sisters, you have to ask yourself if this is really the right answer. What happens when reality reaches these girls, when the thrill and the romance are over, and they find themselves trapped in a marriage to a Muslim extremist, living in a foreign land, subjected to the violent oppression of Sharia law?

Arguably, as dual citizens, such girls still have someplace to go, but most carry passports for Turkey or Morocco, where conditions are deteriorating – especially for women. And how do you tell a child of 15 that she can never come back home, just because she believed in something that turned out to be a lie? Do we refuse these young girls – and their future daughters –because they may pose a danger to the West, or provide the safe haven they (inevitably) will need?

(Marc: Life is tough.  It is tougher when you are stupid.)

These are questions we have never had to face with any other war, but as the Syrian battles keep raging, and as Western girls continue to join Syria's Islamic jihad, they are questions to which we will soon, urgently, need to find the answers.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.
167  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yemeni rebels maneuver the govt. into talks. on: August 23, 2014, 09:06:20 AM
 Yemeni Rebels Maneuver the Government into Talks
August 22, 2014 | 1223 Print Text Size
Yemeni Rebels Maneuver the Government into Talks
Followers of the Shiite al-Houthi group watch Shiite leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi speaking on a giant screen during a rally marking the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed at a football stadium on Jan. 13. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Yemen's al-Houthi rebels, affiliated with the Zaidi sect of Shi'ism found in northern Yemen, have capitalized on their recent territorial gains and are now effectively laying siege to the capital and threatening to topple the Sunni government. Rebel leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi's recent moves coincide with the demoralization of Yemen's military from continued losses and Yemeni President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi's inability to manage the country's competing interests.

The al-Houthis and their armed tribal allies do not seem likely to try to occupy the capital by force, aware of the potential domestic and foreign repercussions of such a move. Rather, al-Houthi will use the rebel threat to force Hadi's government to make concessions. Hadi will likely make political compromises, such as removing Cabinet and senior leadership officials, rework the boundaries of a proposed federalization plan, and offer the al-Houthis both a larger role within the government and greater local autonomy, making them more powerful within Yemen. This would also allow the al-Houthis' traditional supporters in Iran to threaten their Saudi rivals to the north. Perhaps more importantly, political unrest will force Hadi to shift more of his limited military forces toward the capital, giving actors such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and southern secessionist forces an opportunity to expand their areas of influence.

Yemenis are quite familiar with the concept of northern highland tribesmen marching on Sanaa. Twice before -- first in the 17th century and then again in 1911 -- the armies of Yemen's Zaidi imamate laid siege to Sanaa and ousted its Ottoman rulers. In the midst of northern Yemen's civil war (1962-1970), the Saudi-backed Zaidi royalists bombarded Sanaa for nearly four months before ceding it to the control of the newly formed Yemen Arab Republic. This time, the al-Houthis, fresh from a string of battlefield successes against their traditional rivals within Yemen's armed forces and northern Sunni tribes, have acquired advanced weaponry and occupy strategic territory north of Sanaa.

However, in a televised speech on Aug. 17, al-Houthi demanded that Hadi overturn a recently implemented and unpopular fuel subsidy cut and dissolve the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwa. Al-Houthi also demanded that a more representative governing body be established and ordered his supporters to stage demonstrations on the streets of Yemen until the government conceded. He gave president Hadi a deadline of Aug. 22, after which he threatened to use alternative measures.

Conflict Zones
Click to Enlarge

Over the past week, thousands of al-Houthi supporters have taken to the streets of Sanaa and set up camps at most of the main approaches to the city. By Aug. 22, demonstrators had established more camps within the city and were gathered around key government buildings, while al-Houthi fighters built fortifications in the mountains surrounding Sanaa. In response, Hadi held an extraordinary emergency meeting with his army leadership to enact emergency plans, distributing the elite Presidential Forces at key positions throughout the city and calling up the Fourth Brigade of Yemen's reservists. Reports from the local newspaper Aden al-Ghad on Aug. 20 claimed that the Yemeni air force transferred dozens of military aircraft from Sanaa's airport to nearby air bases to prevent them from falling into al-Houthi hands in anticipation of potential hostilities.
The Rebels Accumulate Influence

By framing the call for demonstrations as a general protest against deteriorating social conditions and fuel subsidy cuts, al-Houthi is trying to tap into pre-existing popular frustrations. Hadi is aware that his predecessor was forced to step down following mass protests in 2011, and knows he is in a dangerous position while the local population suffers from high unemployment, insufficient water and electricity supplies, and a lack of government services. Steep increases in gasoline and diesel prices, which make it more expensive to transport goods and run generators, have further exacerbated these tensions. In response, Hadi quickly called for a dialogue with the al-Houthi leadership Aug. 20, inviting the al-Houthis to join a new unity government and sending a 10-member negotiating committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Abid bin Daghr to Saada. Reports also surfaced Aug. 19 that a Yemeni delegation had left to negotiate with the Iranians -- using Oman as an intermediary -- to convince the al-Houthis to cease hostilities.

Despite al-Houthi's military posturing, it remains unlikely that he will order his armed forces into the capital. Such a move would only expose his fighters to potential urban fighting against local security forces and militant Sunnis and tie down large portions of the rebels' manpower in occupying Sanaa. Doing so would also serve to unite northern tribesmen and Salafist militants -- potentially including elements who were previously neutral or supportive of the Zaidi cause -- against the al-Houthis. Even potential reprisals from Saudi Arabia -- which initiated an airstrike campaign that forced the capitulation of the al-Houthis when they appeared likely to overwhelm Yemeni forces in 2009 -- may convince the rebels to avoid movements that would force Riyadh to check the Shiite threat across its southern border. Nevertheless, Stratfor is closely watching the situation for any signs of a shift in this calculation in the near future.

Instead of pushing into the capital, al-Houthi will try to use his forces to intimidate Hadi into concessions on longstanding political issues. The Yemen Times on Aug. 21 cited sources claiming that the al-Houthis are demanding 10 ministry positions in the future government, the right to maintain their arms and that some 20,000 of their supporters be integrated into the national military -- in addition to their initial demands that fuel subsidy cuts be overturned and the government resign. They have also included their demand that the Hajja and al-Jawf governorates be included in their proposed federal region, which would grant them access to the Red Sea and hydrocarbon reserves. As a signal that negotiations are making initial progress, al-Houthi in a televised speech on Aug. 21 urged his supporters to continue their demonstrations through the weekend -- beyond the initial deadline -- but without resorting to violence.

The Sectarian Divide in Northern Yemen
Click to Enlarge

Sanaa's Likely Response

With most of his military units tied down in other regions of the country and those based near Sanaa demoralized by repeated defeats at the hands of the al-Houthis, Hadi likely will be forced to capitulate to al-Houthi pressure. Hadi probably will remain in power, as the al-Houthis have avoided criticizing him directly and know there are few alternative candidates who could take Hadi's position. However, at a minimum, Hadi will probably be forced to dissolve his Cabinet, demand Basindwa's resignation and overturn the controversial fuel subsidy cuts. The formation of a national unity government with the al-Houthis entitled to a share of key positions and adjustments to the federalization plan are likely to be key areas of negotiation and probable concession. In fact, Stratfor's sources within Yemen have indicated that al-Houthi will settle for regional autonomy and greater representation within the central government.

The prospect of a more politically involved al-Houthi movement with increased autonomy will unnerve the Saudis, who are keen on limiting Shiite unrest in their own territories and are worried that Iran could use the al-Houthis to stir up trouble on their southern border. The potential for another Saudi intervention remains, although Riyadh's influence within Yemen's political and tribal landscape has deteriorated over the past few years, limiting Saudi options. For Iran, an empowered al-Houthi resistance is a valuable tool to use in bargaining with the Saudis over more critical interests, such as Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

However, perhaps the most import outcome of this week's political strife in Sanaa is the potential blowback in other regions of Yemen. Groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the southern secessionist Hirak movement could capitalize on Yemen's security focus on the al-Houthi threat by expanding their influence. If political instability becomes protracted, power vacuums could develop in some of the more remote regions of Yemen, allowing these groups to pose greater threats to the central government.

Read more: Yemeni Rebels Maneuver the Government into Talks | Stratfor
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168  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / 4 miles from Ferguson, another killing on: August 23, 2014, 09:03:10 AM!1700030D-18B3-4476-A476-D64E250A75FE
169  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / All Options Suck on: August 23, 2014, 09:00:59 AM

When President Barack Obama called the Islamic State a "cancer" on Wednesday, the description may have been more apt than he intended. The Sunni jihadist group is indeed a malignant tumor metastasizing in the body of the Middle East. But like cancer, it will be stubbornly difficult to defeat—and some of the cures could end up killing the patient.

The spread has been shockingly quick. In June, the Islamic State surged deeper into Iraq, taking Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, advancing close to Baghdad and threatening Kurdish territory. The group even declared a "caliphate." Only Mr. Obama's Aug. 7 decision to launch U.S. airstrikes halted its advance.

The Islamic State is stalled militarily but far from beaten. But there is a way to turn the tide.

The Islamic State's evil could almost seem cartoonish if it weren't so horrible. The beheading of journalist James Foley was only the latest in a long line of atrocities. In Iraq, the group called for exterminating male members of the minority Yazidi group and selling Yazidi women into slavery. In Syria, the Islamic State crucified those who opposed it. The group bears the blame for much of the savagery against civilians in Syria—in a conflict that the U.N. estimates has claimed more than 190,000 lives.

This humanitarian disaster is bad enough, but the Islamic State also poses a strategic threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East that even the most hardhearted realist cannot easily dismiss. Iraq's stability, precarious even before the latest Islamic State campaign, is now in serious jeopardy. Iraq could join Syria as another failed state, and a far more important one given its oil reserves. A broader conflagration could risk more intervention by Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other neighbors. West European governments fear terrorism at home from Islamic State converts. And ironically, the terrorist threat to the U.S. is now more direct: By striking the Islamic State, the U.S. has risen higher on its (long) list of enemies.

The Obama administration, which has—with some justification—tried to avoid entanglement in Iraq and Syria, has an array of "treatments" at its disposal to attack this growing cancer. They all have one thing in common: They won't work well.

The overwhelming problem is the lack of suitable allies. Forget assembling a "coalition of the willing" against the Islamic State—the best you're likely to get is a coalition of the inept, the corrupt, the fanatical and the balky.

In Iraq, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki systematically alienated the country's Sunnis and Kurds. As the Islamic State advanced, many Sunnis rose up against his government, and U.S.-trained military forces disintegrated. Mr. Maliki is out now, but the new government in Baghdad is shaky, the Kurds are openly discussing a push for independence, and sectarian divisions plague the country.

In Syria, the problem is even worse. U.S. policy is now aimed at both overthrowing Bashar al-Assad, the country's dictator, and defeating the Islamic State—one of the toughest groups fighting to overthrow Mr. Assad. Only a year ago, the U.S. was on the verge of bombing the Assad regime; now it is bombing the Assad regime's enemy, the Islamic State. The Syrian opposition is no more unified, and the radical element in its ranks is much stronger.

Some approaches are clearly disastrous. Paying ransom money to rescue brave journalists in the Islamic State's clutches will only lead to more hostage taking. Terrorist groups prefer to kidnap Westerners from countries like France, which has given terrorists more than $50 million since 2008 in ransom payments. The more the U.S. pays, the more likely terrorist groups are to kidnap Americans. We must brace for more stomach-churning, Internet-distributed beheadings.

Another problem: Americans have no appetite for a large-scale deployment of military forces. A June poll found that most Americans didn't favor airstrikes on the Islamic State, let alone ground troops.

But there is a path ahead. A combination of middle-range options—political reform in Baghdad, a limited use of U.S. military force, and efforts to build up local capacity and prevent new infections—offers the most hope, even if this cocktail will take months if not years to take hold.

Political reform in Iraq is the foundation on which all else rests. The replacement of Mr. Maliki by Haider al-Abadi earlier this month offers some hope that Iraq's Shiite-dominated government might become more inclusive and convince some of the country's minority Sunnis to turn against the Islamic State. Iran, a Shiite neighbor that backs Mr. Abadi's government, also opposes the Sunni jihadists, which could encourage Mr. Abadi to be more conciliatory than his predecessor. But at best, we're likely to go from abysmal to simply bad: Mr. Abadi is cut from the same cloth as Mr. Maliki and shares the same Shiite-chauvinist power base.

Still, splitting the Islamic State's zealots off from the rest of Iraq's Sunnis is quite doable. The Islamic State surged in June, in part, because Sunni tribes, ex-Baathists and other Sunnis had joined the fray against the Maliki government. At the height of the troop surge that began in 2007, the U.S. had turned these fighters against the jihadists. Doing so again without a significant U.S. presence on the ground will be far harder—but if Mr. Abadi's government extends a real olive branch to its Sunni citizens, the Islamic State could rapidly lose much of its support.

The best long-term hope is to help grow local military forces and build up their capacity. Iraq's forces collapsed in the face of the Islamic State's summer offensive, and their morale and cohesion must be restored. Part of this problem is technical, and the sustained deployment of U.S. advisers can improve their performance.

But the bigger problem is political. Iraqi forces had more training and far better equipment than the Islamic State (though when they ran away, the radicals found themselves with a cornucopia of advanced U.S. military hardware), but many of them have no faith in their officers and no loyalty to their political leaders. So without political reform, military reform will fail.

Pushing the Islamic State back in Iraq does little good if it remains strong across Iraq's blurry border with Syria. Syria's beleaguered moderate opposition forces must be trained far more extensively, enabling them to oppose both the killers in the Assad regime and the fanatics of the Islamic State.

U.S. air power and special operations forces can prevent the Islamic State from growing further. But airstrikes can't evict it once and for all. Lasting successes will come only when ground forces can occupy the territory after the jihadists flee. And that means Iraq's government needs to step up—and moderate Syrian rebels need urgent help.

While working on all these fronts, Washington must try to contain the contagion. The U.S. should work with Turkey, Jordan and other neighbors to meet desperate cries for aid in the tent cities of Syrian refugees and discourage self-defeating behavior.

We're in for a long slog. Syria is a failed state, and Iraq is becoming one. In the near term, the best the U.S. can do is to put the Islamic State on its back foot. It is tempting to turn around and go home, but that would risk an even worse disaster.

—Dr. Byman is a professor in the Security Studies Program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
170  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Madison: War is better than Tribute on: August 23, 2014, 08:48:02 AM
"It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute." --James Madison, letter to the Dey of Algiers, 1816
171  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: Mexico on: August 23, 2014, 08:45:26 AM
Mexico Unveils New Police Force
Scaled-Down Unit Aims to Protect Mine and Farm Operations
By Dudley Althaus and José de Córdoba
Aug. 22, 2014 3:57 p.m. ET

Members of the newly formed gendarmerie march in unison during an inaugural ceremony at the Federal Police headquarters in Mexico City. Associated Press

MEXICO CITY—Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto inaugurated a new unit of the federal police force—a scaled-down version of what was initially planned as a larger, independent gendarmerie—that aims to protect key parts of the economy, like mining operations and farms, from drug gangs.

The new 5,000-strong force, modeled after similar units in France, Spain, Chile and elsewhere, was a key element of Mr. Peña Nieto's public security strategy during his 2012 presidential campaign. Having criticized former President Felipe Calderón's use of the army and navy to take on drug gangs, Mr. Peña Nieto and his team envisioned a new 40,000-strong force, with recruits drawn largely from the military, which would answer to civilian authorities and allow the army to return to the barracks.

The smaller force will instead be another unit of the Federal Police. Critics said the new force was too small and would leave the bulk of the fight against the cartels to Mexico's army and navy.

The original plan for the gendarmerie was opposed by the military, which spearheaded the bloody, unresolved campaign against organized crime, according to some analysts. Tens of thousands of Mexican troops still patrol the country's hot spots, including many of the states just south of the U.S. border.

"It was planned to be a very ambitious police force, separate from the federal police as well as the army. But there was a lot of infighting between the army, the navy and the federal police," said Raúl Benítez, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

That left Mr. Peña Nieto's team struggling with how to fulfill a campaign promise without losing face, some analysts said.

"This is a police force in search of a mission," said Alejandro Hope, who served as a senior official in Mexico's civilian intelligence agency under Mr. Calderón. "It has a political logic, not a security one."

Gendarmes combine civilian policing with military discipline and organization. They act as a national police in France, its former colonies and other European countries as well as in Chile, Colombia and elsewhere in Latin America.

As many as 100,000 Mexicans have died or disappeared since late 2006 as rival criminal gangs battle one another and security forces for territorial domination. The violence has eased this year in many former hot spots; government statistics show a 15% drop in murders so far this year compared with the same period in 2013.

Even in its reduced form, Mexico's gendarme force will increase the number of federal officers involved in actual field operations by nearly a fifth, said Monte Alejandro Rubido, who as National Security Commissioner oversees the federal police. The gendarmes will be a seventh division of the now 41,000-strong force.

The idea is to provide "greater quantitative and qualitative reaction capacity to the federal police," Mr. Rubido said. "The goal is public peace…to protect family, school and work spaces."

Mr. Rubido cited key farm areas in Tamaulipas state, bordering Texas, and in west central Michoacán state as two examples of where gendarmes might deployed should producers be threatened by those states' vicious gangs. He also pointed to a recent rash of kidnappings in the tourist town of Valle de Bravo, near Mexico City, as the sort of problem the gendarmes will handle.

The new force won't be used to protect particular companies, Mr. Rubido said, but will provide security for regions where murder, extortion, kidnapping and theft have disrupted economic and community life.

Mexico's gendarmes have undergone both law enforcement and military training aimed at forging a "sense of discipline, of corps, of belonging," Mr. Rubido said. Rank-and-file officers are young men and women—the average age is 28—with slightly older commanders drawn from federal police ranks, he said.

Half the new officers have completed high school and a fifth have university degrees. The officers' net monthly starts at $1,100, which Mr. Rubido said "isn't a bad salary by the police standards in our country."

Apart from their operational duties, the gendarmes are intended to bring in "new blood to refresh the daily work of the federal police," Mr. Rubido said.

The federal police are widely considered the best trained and most trustworthy of Mexico's civilian security forces. But they account for less than a 10th of the 440,000 police officers nationwide, most of whom serve with undertrained, outgunned and often corrupt municipal and state forces, according to Mr. Benítez and other analysts.

The new force would prove a step forward if it is "able to create a niche space where you have noncorrupt police," Mr. Benítez said. "It will depend on the commanders chosen to head the Gendarmería."
172  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Tenth/10th Amendment: States Rights on: August 23, 2014, 08:36:55 AM
 Columnist Philip Klein writing at, Aug. 14:

There has been a lot of hand-wringing in recent years about how divided Washington is, and how it's difficult for the parties to come together on anything. But the reality is that the states are divided among themselves.

The architecture of the Constitution offers a natural solution to this problem. Instead of trying to solve every issue at the national level, power should be shifted back to the states. Those states whose residents are willing to pay higher taxes for more government services should be free to do so, as should states whose residents are willing to forgo government benefits in favor of lower taxes. Under such a system, instead of bitterly hashing out every issue in Washington, Congress could be focusing on a limited range of issues.

It's clear that liberals don't see things this way. But it should be no surprise that their efforts to impose one-size-fits-all solutions across the nation encounter so much resistance.
173  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Lessons from Cinncinati 2001 on: August 23, 2014, 08:35:05 AM
Lessons for Ferguson From Cincinnati's 2001 Riots
Before the Cincinnati riots, the police were insular and authoritarian. Today they are proactive, transparent.
By Peter Bronson
Aug. 22, 2014 6:59 p.m. ET


On a balmy Saturday night in April 2001, an unarmed 19-year-old black man, Timothy Thomas, was shot and killed by a white Cincinnati police officer, Stephen Roach. Two days later, hundreds of protesters mobbed City Hall and the city was overrun by rioters for four days—stores were looted and set on fire, shots were fired at police, innocent citizens were attacked.

Watching the news from Ferguson, Mo., brings back the smell of smoke and acrid tang of fear. It took years for Cincinnati to recover. Afraid of assaults and belligerent protesters, suburbanites shunned downtown. Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg and conventions canceled visits to Cincinnati to honor a boycott initiated by the Black United Front. The riots cost at least $35 million in property damage, lawsuits and boycott losses. The city finally turned the corner when the NAACP held its national convention here in 2008.

In time, Cincinnati's leaders, black and white, learned some valuable lessons about race relations. Here are five that Ferguson, and other U.S. cities that may be one gunshot away from rioting, could benefit from:

• Tell the public everything immediately. Cincinnati police offered no explanation of the shooting for two-and-a-half days. Not surprisingly, they were perceived as hiding something. As politicians, protesters and the press pushed the cops to back off, crime exploded. Within three months shootings increased 300%. By 2005 annual homicides had doubled, with more than 300 victims of black-on-black killings between 2001 and 2005.

The shooting of Timothy Thomas was a tragic mistake by a 27-year-old cop startled during a foot pursuit in a dark alley. It later came out that Officer Roach's first words after the shooting were: "It just went off. My gun just went off." He was eventually acquitted of negligent homicide.

But the "murder" narrative became impossible to dissolve with facts. "One of our biggest mistakes was zero communication," Police Chief Tom Streicher said after the riots. "That allowed the city to boil." Thirteen years later Ferguson made the same mistake.

• Set the record straight. Many in the press labeled Cincinnati's riots as a "rebellion" or "uprising" against injustice—even as white motorists were pulled from their cars and beaten bloody. News outlets repeated claims that 15 black men had been killed in police custody in the five years before the riots. But nearly all were shot by police in self defense. Some had assaulted officers with knives, axes and guns. The authorities in Cincinnati didn't do enough to set the record straight.

• Don't crucify the cops. During the riots, Cincinnati's finest worked around the clock, risked their lives and showed heroic restraint. They were shot at but never responded with lethal force. Beanbag shotguns, cops on horseback and a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. restored order without fatalities. Ferguson's midnight curfew was useless.

• The federal government can slow the healing. After the Cincinnati riots, the Justice Department tried to bully cops into admitting civil-rights violations, but it failed. "They were out to hang the cops," said local Fraternal Order of Police President Keith Fangman in 2004. A Justice Department investigation dragged on for five years, yet found no grounds for federal prosecution of Officer Roach for what it determined was a "fast moving, inherently dangerous situation in a dark alley."

Meanwhile, Cincinnati went to work repairing race relations. After a year of meetings supervised by a federal judge, representatives of the city, the police department, the ACLU, the Black United Front and the police union imposed the Collaborative Agreement for police reforms. They included less aggressive pursuit guidelines, a citizen complaint board and community-oriented policing.

It was resented by many cops. But Assistant Chief of Police Paul Humphries, who worked the riots in body armor, said recently, "Some had to be drug along with their heels dug in the sand, but we made a lot of changes and we're better for it."

One of the most effective changes was deployment of Tasers that almost eliminated shootings by police. Another was the 2005 election of a black mayor, Mark Mallory, who backed the police. He hired Cincinnati's first black police chief in 2011, James Craig (now chief of police in Detroit), who rushed to volatile crime scenes to calm the city.

Before the riots there was simmering anger at police in the black community. The police were insular and authoritarian. Today they are proactive, transparent, a model of community-oriented policing.

• Repudiate race-baiters. Many agitators came to Cincinnati to loot and riot. The ones in suits were no better. As in Ferguson today, they exploited the crisis for power, press and profit.

Ken Lawson, the black attorney who represented the family of Timothy Thomas, was known as the "Law Dog," the most loved and hated lawyer in town. Before the riots, he said the only "conceivable reason" the police were slow to explain the shooting was "they are trying to cover up the murder."

Lawson served two years in prison on drug charges in 2009 and now teaches law at the University of Hawaii. He has courageously changed his mind about the police shootings.

In a recent interview he told me: "I was wrong for the positions I took with the police and race in Cincinnati. Those cases of police killing black men were accidental. If I say, 'You shot him because he's black,' I'm saying it was racism. But more likely it was fear. The cop wants to come home safe tonight."

Mr. Lawson sees accusations of racism in shootings like the one in Ferguson as "a distraction from the truth." He adds that "by refusing to accept responsibility for our own conduct, by refusing to forgive others for their wrongs, the community stays resentful. Just as the black community must get honest so must the police. That's what Ferguson can take from Cincinnati."

Maybe someday the race hustlers in Ferguson will be as honest. Maybe someday we all will learn from our mistakes.

Mr. Bronson, a contributing editor of Cincy Magazine and a former columnist and editorial page editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, is the author of "Behind the Lines: The Untold Stories of the Cincinnati Riots" (Chilidog Press, 2006).
174  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Solar igniting birds in flight on: August 23, 2014, 08:30:44 AM
Spontaneous Solar Combustion
Can we please see your Avian and Bat Monitoring Plan?
Aug. 22, 2014 6:42 p.m. ET

The sprawling Ivanpah solar power station in the Mojave Desert probably never would have been built without environmental activists and the subsidies and mandates they created, so there's more than a little irony that BrightSource Energy, Google GOOGL +0.02% and another clean-tech utility are now getting an education in the green opposition that bedevils other American businesses. Lobbies like the Sierra Club and Audubon Society are turning on solar farms for avian mass murder.

Ivahpah's solar thermal technology uses 300,000 giant computer-controlled mirrors spread over 3,500 acres to follow the sun and concentrate energy on water towers, where boiler turbines generate electricity. The problem with this $2.2 billion feat of engineering is that birds that fly into the 800 degrees Fahrenheit rays sometimes singe or catch fire in midair. Plant workers call them "streamers" after the trail of smoke that follows the carcasses to the ground after they ignite, according to a recent

The Center for Biological Diversity speculates that Ivanpah will kill 28,000 birds a year. In a study earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's forensics laboratory calls the apparatus a "mega-trap" for insects, swallows, road runners, hawks and even monarch butterflies, "creating an entire food chain vulnerable to injury and death."

The Biological Diversity folks are suing to force solar farms to install lights or noise alert warnings to encourage wildlife to adopt a different flight path. Some California legislators are accidentally sensible and want to ban plants like Ivanpah, which sounds like a deal for birds and taxpayers.

We got a no-irony-intended email from a lobbyist friend working for BrightSource on Thursday explaining "avian fatalities"—the plant's actual year-to-date body count is all of 321 in total, and only 133 of them related to so-called "solar flux"—and Ivanpah's Avian and Bat Monitoring and Management Plan. The company notes that as many as 3.7 billion birds each year are killed by cats and 980 million by crashing into walls.

This green-on-green showdown exquisitely captures the reason that the America that built the Hoover Dam in five years now has so much trouble building those "infrastructure" projects everybody in Washington and Sacramento claim to favor. Environmental review and permitting are often dragged out a decade or longer across a slew of lawsuits and federal and state agencies. Ivanpah was required to spend $34 million on a "Head Start" nursery for desert tortoises. Really.

So it is that the same beau monde activists who think the Keystone XL pipeline is a threat to civilization are now turning on non-fossil fuel power too. Maybe this time they'll feel cognitive dissonance, but then they never do.
175  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Indonesia's political leap forward on: August 23, 2014, 08:27:46 AM
Indonesia's Political Leap Forward
A peaceful transfer of power in the young Muslim-majority democracy.
Updated Aug. 22, 2014 6:45 p.m. ET

Indonesia's Constitutional Court confirmed Thursday that Joko Widodo won the July 9 presidential election. Although no concession seems forthcoming from losing candidate Prabowo Subianto, a Suharto -era general and critic of democracy, this summer's peaceful balloting and generally peaceful appeals process are good news for the world's most populous young democracy.

Nearly 75% of Indonesia's 190 million eligible voters turned out last month, with Mr. Widodo's humble background and clean-government message pitted against Mr. Subianto's strongman persona and promises of firm central leadership. Journalists and officials praised the vote as the most free, fair and transparent since the 1998 transition to democracy, and on July 22 officials announced that Mr. Widodo had won by a wide margin of 8.5 million votes. Mr. Subianto denounced the result, citing abnormalities at many polling places, but the Constitutional Court dismissed his objections.

The court decision will allow Mr. Widodo to resign as Jakarta Governor and expand cooperation with the outgoing administration in advance of his swearing-in on October 20. But Mr. Subianto and his supporters, including thuggish elements such as the Islamic Defenders Front, may yet cause trouble.

"If official institutions can't deliver justice," Mr. Subianto said Wednesday, "I know the people will seek their own justice." Some Subianto supporters have threatened violence against election officials and Widodo supporters, and top advisers to Mr. Subianto promise never to reconcile with the Widodo camp.

Fifty thousand security personnel deployed around Jakarta Thursday, some firing tear gas and water cannons at angry Subianto supporters who charged police lines as the court read its verdict. But the situation didn't escalate, and most Subianto backers have shown little appetite for continued protest, let alone violence. Large numbers of Mr. Subianto's voters have told pollsters they are satisfied with the conduct of the election.

So in October the world's most populous Muslim-majority country will for the first time see one elected president peacefully hand power to another. With much of the Muslim world under dictatorship or in turmoil—and with nearby Thailand rolling back democracy in favor of military rule—Indonesia's achievement is worth celebrating.
176  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Maybe Obama can send Ukraine some more MREs on: August 23, 2014, 08:22:13 AM
Putin Makes His Move
His forces intervene to grab another chunk of Ukraine.
Updated Aug. 22, 2014 7:10 p.m. ET

The use of Russian-manned artillery inside Ukraine is being portrayed as a "significant escalation" in Vladimir Putin's effort to seize his neighbor's territory. That's putting it mildly. So far in this crisis the Russian strongman has practiced a form of ambiguous aggression—the insignia-less "little green men" in Crimea; the quasi-covert military aid to the separatists in eastern Ukraine—that provided the Kremlin with at least a fig leaf of deniability. What's happening now looks like an outright invasion.

The insertion of artillery, which was confirmed Friday by NATO officials, comes as a convoy of some 200 Russian trucks illegally entered the separatist-controlled territory in and around the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk. The trucks, ostensibly delivering humanitarian aid, were supposed to be escorted by the International Red Cross. Red Cross officials refused to join the convoy for fear of being caught in a crossfire, but the convoy entered anyway.
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Global View Columnist Bret Stephens on news that Russia artillery units are inside Ukraine, firing on Ukrainian forces. Photo: Associated Press

Exactly what Mr. Putin hopes to achieve remains to be seen. At a minimum, the convoy serves the Kremlin's domestic propaganda purposes by offering visual evidence that Mother Russia will come to the aid of fellow Russians stranded in the country's "near abroad" and under dire threat from allegedly nefarious forces.

U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's Supreme Commander, has noted that Russia has "previously sent 'humanitarian' and 'peacekeeping' efforts to Georgia, Moldova and Crimea, and we have seen how they proved to be deceptions that freeze conflicts rather than resolve them." The Kremlin formula is to insert the convoy, demand a ceasefire, then insist that Kiev honor the ceasefire, in turn allowing the rebel enclaves to become self-governing territories.

But the convoy also creates the possibility of an incident—accidental or premeditated—that can spark a wider war. Mr. Putin has a history of using such incidents to start wars against his enemies. That includes the mysterious apartment building explosions—blamed on Chechen terrorists but widely suspected of being the work of Russian intelligence services—that sparked the Second Chechen War in 1999 and first brought Mr. Putin to power. The 2008 invasion of Georgia was sparked by another ambiguous border incident.

As for the Ukraine crisis, there is little doubt the Kremlin is ready and perhaps eager for another incident. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu has "guaranteed" to the Obama Administration that the convoy would not be used to start an invasion. Yet his ministry has also stationed some 18,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, and now the deployment of Russian artillery shows how little that guarantee was worth.
Enlarge Image

Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Yalta, Crimea, in August. Reuters

All the more so since Kiev has surprised much of the world, perhaps including itself, by prosecuting a successful military offensive that seemed to be on the cusp of cutting off the rebels from their supply routes to Russia. Among the reasons the Obama Administration has refused to supply Ukraine with arms is the fear that its military was incompetent, undisciplined and possibly disloyal. Having proven the Administration skeptics wrong, Ukraine's military deserves immediate U.S. support.

We noted last week ("Some Realism on Russia," Aug. 16) what some of that support might be: body armor, night-vision goggles, small UAVs, antitank weapons, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and radio jammers. This equipment can be rapidly loaded on C-17 cargo planes and flown directly to Kiev, much like the crucial aid that was delivered to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Merely the sight of those planes might give Mr. Putin reason to think twice about sending in the main body of his forces. It would also give Ukrainians—not to mention nervous NATO allies in the Baltics and Central Europe—confidence that Mr. Obama's assurances are more than talk. The President has boasted about the efficacy of his post-Crimea sanctions, but so far they've had little impact on the Russian economy and even less on the Kremlin's behavior, save perhaps to underscore how reluctant the West is to punish the Kremlin.

Eastern Ukraine is now the place where Western resolve is being acutely tested against the usual temptations of timidity and indifference. This is an old story, and Mr. Obama is fond of saying that this kind of aggression has no place "in the 21st century." But Russia's revanchism is a reminder that human nature remains the same no matter what century we're living in. Dictators do not do off-ramps. Their aggression doesn't stop until it is checked.

The White House on Friday called Mr. Putin's actions a "flagrant violation" of Ukraine's sovereignty. But the question now in Ukraine, as also regarding ISIS in Iraq, is not the sincerity of Mr. Obama's indignation. It's whether this President has the will to do anything to stop it.
177  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Al Gore vs. Al Jazeera vs. the Truth on: August 23, 2014, 08:19:01 AM
Al Gore vs. Al Jazeera vs. the Truth
How the ex-veep came by his cable TV windfall remains heavily redacted.
By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.
updated Aug. 22, 2014 7:09 p.m. ET

As with the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, let's hope both sides lose.

Al Gore sued Al Jazeera, saying it still owes him $65 million from the sale two years ago of Mr. Gore's unwatched liberal cable channel for $500 million. Al Jazeera says it's rightfully holding back monies left in escrow against breaches of contract by Mr. Gore's Current TV when he was still in charge.

What breaches? We don't know because the lawsuit has been sealed, not unusual in cable disputes. But Current TV during its short heyday was known to be constantly flirting with violating minimum viewership requirements under its unusually lucrative contracts with cable operators. Almost as soon as its sale was announced, Al Jazeera found itself in disputes with Time Warner Cable, AT&T and DirecTV, all of which cited "contractual breaches" by the previous owner Current TV.

What's really interesting, though, is the extent to which all parties, including the cable operators and Al Jazeera, have sought to keep these records sealed to hide Mr. Gore's dealings with the cable operators. And no wonder: It's clearer than ever that Current TV's carriage rights, the main assets that it sold to Al Jazeera for $500 million, were a gift of the cable industry and provided a windfall to Mr. Gore. He's personally believed to have cleared $70 million. And let's not forget that $70 million is oil money from Qatar, whose ruling family out of another pocket is believed to subsidize Hamas and other Islamic radical groups.

Not that you would guess Mr. Gore has anything to be embarrassed about. His celebrity lawyer David Boies insists Mr. Gore is ready for a full and complete airing. Said Mr. Boies: "If it thinks this is an ordinary commercial dispute, then Al Jazeera America should be willing to allow the entire complaint to be made public."

Uh huh. This is likely a bluff, not least because both parties, Mr. Gore included, have insisted on redactions in the publicly available version of the lawsuit. And Mr. Gore's lawyers would have watched closely a just-settled lawsuit between Al Jazeera and AT&T, a case that demonstrated Al Jazeera's extreme publicity-squeamishness. Mr. Gore undoubtedly is looking to use that squeamishness as leverage to settle his own case without undue public disclosure.

A quick recap: Most of the details of its AT&T fight remain under wraps, but Al Jazeera accused the TV distributor of dropping its channel to avoid offending Republican viewers in Texas. Al Jazeera also implied that AT&T had only been appeasing Al Gore by running Current TV.

In turn, AT&T alleged unspecified contract violations under Current TV's ownership, likely regarding minimum viewership levels.

But here's the noteworthy part: The parties almost immediately stopped fighting each other in order to fight efforts by the national media, including the Associated Press, Bloomberg News and Dow Jones, to pry open the record. When the Delaware Supreme Court ruled for the news organizations on May 30, AT&T and Al Jazeera quickly settled their own dispute. Al Jazeera turned full attention to quashing any disclosures about what the puzzled judge in the case called "a stale deal with a defunct network," namely AT&T's previous dealings with Current TV.

Nobody, it seems, has much appetite for exposing the degree to which short-lived Current TV had become a gratuitous bestowal of wealth on Mr. Gore by cable operators.

Mr. Gore likes to say "our democracy has been hacked by big money," but he has done some hacking himself in his many rent-seeking activities. His Current TV payday, partly at the expense of the Qataris, partly at the expense of U.S. cable subscribers and shareholders, must be especially piquant to Americans exhausted by Mr. Gore's incessant moralizing.

What would be nice to know, and what a full airing of the legal record might show, and is at what point Current stopped being a sincere experiment in liberal news and entertainment. At what point did it morph into a scheme to shake down TV distributors and flip the carriage rights for what BusinessWeek estimates was $450 million in profit to Mr. Gore and partners.

Alas, we're not likely to get much satisfaction as a result of Al Gore vs. Al Jazeera, since both parties have a clear motive to settle before there's a record for the media to pick over. Our hopes still rests with the effort by media lawyers to break open the record in the now-settled AT&T-Al Jazeera case.
178  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Suspended for "Bless you" on: August 23, 2014, 07:34:52 AM
179  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Sen Imhofe says ISIL preparing attack on America on: August 22, 2014, 03:27:03 PM
180  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Krugman: Hawks crying Wolf on: August 22, 2014, 11:58:33 AM

Hawks Crying Wolf

AUG. 21, 2014

According to a recent report in The Times, there is dissent at the Fed: “An increasingly vocal minority of Federal Reserve officials want the central bank to retreat more quickly” from its easy-money policies, which they warn run the risk of causing inflation. And this debate, we are told, is likely to dominate the big economic symposium currently underway in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

That may well be the case. But there’s something you should know: That “vocal minority” has been warning about soaring inflation more or less nonstop for six years. And the persistence of that obsession seems, to me, to be a more interesting and important story than the fact that the usual suspects are saying the usual things.

Before I try to explain the inflation obsession, let’s talk about how striking that obsession really is.

The Times article singles out for special mention Charles Plosser of the Philadelphia Fed, who is, indeed, warning about inflation risks. But you should know that he warned about the danger of rising inflation in 2008. He warned about it in 2009. He did the same in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. He was wrong each time, but, undaunted, he’s now doing it again.

And this record isn’t unusual. With very few exceptions, officials and economists who issued dire warnings about inflation years ago are still issuing more or less identical warnings today. Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Minneapolis Fed, is the only prominent counterexample I can think of.

Now, everyone who has been in the economics business any length of time, myself very much included, has made some incorrect predictions. If you haven’t, you’re playing it too safe. The inflation hawks, however, show no sign of learning from their mistakes. Where is the soul-searching, the attempt to understand how they could have been so wrong?

The point is that when you see people clinging to a view of the world in the teeth of the evidence, failing to reconsider their beliefs despite repeated prediction failures, you have to suspect that there are ulterior motives involved. So the interesting question is: What is it about crying “Inflation!” that makes it so appealing that people keep doing it despite having been wrong again and again?

Well, when economic myths persist, the explanation usually lies in politics — and, in particular, in class interests. There is not a shred of evidence that cutting tax rates on the wealthy boosts the economy, but there’s no mystery about why leading Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan keep claiming that lower taxes on the rich are the secret to growth. Claims that we face an imminent fiscal crisis, that America will turn into Greece any day now, similarly serve a useful purpose for those seeking to dismantle social programs.

At first sight, claims that easy money will cause disaster even in a depressed economy seem different, because the class interests are far less clear. Yes, low interest rates mean low long-term returns for bondholders (who are generally wealthy), but they also mean short-term capital gains for those same bondholders.
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story

But while easy money may in principle have mixed effects on the fortunes (literally) of the wealthy, in practice demands for tighter money despite high unemployment always come from the right. Eight decades ago, Friedrich Hayek warned against any attempt to mitigate the Great Depression via “the creation of artificial demand”; three years ago, Mr. Ryan all but accused Ben Bernanke, the Fed chairman at the time, of seeking to “debase” the dollar. Inflation obsession is as closely associated with conservative politics as demands for lower taxes on capital gains.
Continue reading the main story
Recent Comments

Sooner or later we will have some inflation and the wingers can say they were right.
Larry Hoffman
25 minutes ago

Mr. Krugman, once again, points out the prognosticators who keep making the same "WRONG" prediction. The most amazing thing about them is...
Bob Burns
25 minutes ago

Great column. I've been having this same argument with my investment advisor for 6 years and so far he's been left to manufacturing "facts"...

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    Write a comment

It’s less clear why. But faith in the inability of government to do anything positive is a central tenet of the conservative creed. Carving out an exception for monetary policy — “Government is always the problem, not the solution, unless we’re talking about the Fed cutting interest rates to fight unemployment” — may just be too subtle a distinction to draw in an era when Republican politicians draw their economic ideas from Ayn Rand novels.

Which brings me back to the Fed, and the question of when to end easy-money policies.

Even monetary doves like Janet Yellen, the Fed chairwoman, generally acknowledge that there will come a time to take the pedal off the metal. And maybe that time isn’t far off — official unemployment has fallen sharply, although wages are still going nowhere and inflation is still subdued.

But the last people you want to ask about appropriate policy are people who have been warning about inflation year after year. Not only have they been consistently wrong, they’ve staked out a position that, whether they know it or not, is essentially political rather than based on analysis. They should be listened to politely — good manners are always a virtue — then ignored.
181  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Why America needs the Army on: August 22, 2014, 10:19:27 AM
182  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Yemen AQ supports ISIL on: August 21, 2014, 11:45:48 PM
183  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Fatal shooting by St. Louis officers on: August 21, 2014, 09:02:12 PM 
184  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hezbollah supporters in FL on: August 21, 2014, 08:53:37 PM
185  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Citizen-Police interactions on: August 21, 2014, 06:25:25 PM
Please post in Rule of Law as well.
186  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 9/21/2014 Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack on: August 21, 2014, 06:23:31 PM
5: Dog Dax Guljie
187  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 9/21/2014 Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack on: August 21, 2014, 02:18:38 PM
4:  Quiet Dog
188  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Govt forces farmers host gay wedding on: August 21, 2014, 01:10:30 PM
second post
189  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / OFF: DOJ must provide list of documents on: August 21, 2014, 01:06:45 PM
190  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fisher Ames: Freedom of the Press, 1807 on: August 21, 2014, 01:01:25 PM
"We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom of the press. It is however, the prostituted companion of liberty, and somehow or other, we know not how, its efficient auxiliary. It follows the substance like its shade; but while a man walks erect, he may observe that his shadow is almost always in the dirt. It corrupts, it deceives, it inflames. ... It is a precious pest, and a necessary mischief, and there would be no liberty without it." --Fisher Ames, Review of the Pamphlet on the State of the British Constitution, 1807
191  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Bill Whittle: The Real Race War on: August 21, 2014, 12:58:36 PM
192  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: August 21, 2014, 12:48:31 PM
A senior Hamas official admitted for the first time on Wednesday that the organization's armed wing, the Kassam Brigades, was behind the kidnapping and murder of Israeli teens Nafatli Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in the Judea in June. The Hamas official, Salah al-Aruri made the comments during a conference of Islamic clerics in Turkey. He praised the "heroic action of the Kassam Brigades who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron."
Watch Here
Israel has contended that Hamas was behind the kidnapping of the boys, a claim that Hamas had previously denied. In the aftermath of the kidnapping , the IDF launched a wide-scale operation in Judea and Samaria , arresting hundreds of Hamas operatives. The two suspects in the kidnapping, Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha are Hebron-area Hamas operatives who remain at large. The alleged mastermind of the kidnapping, Hussam Kawasame was arrested on July 11. On Monday, Border Patrol officers demolished the homes of Hussam Kawasme and Abu Aysha and sealed off the home of Marwan Kawasme.
Source: Jpost
193  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Al Jazeera America cuts staff on: August 21, 2014, 12:34:47 PM
It would be nice if little details like the deceased being 6'4" and 280 pounds got mentioned , , ,

194  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: August 21, 2014, 12:25:33 PM
Sounds like the Spiderman movie with "The Lizard" cheesy

More seriously now, we live in wondrous times.
195  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: 9/21/2014 Dog Brothers Open Gathering of the Pack on: August 21, 2014, 12:22:45 PM
3:  Lamont Glass
196  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Departure Interview with Gen. Flynn on: August 21, 2014, 12:22:50 AM
197  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Militarization of Police on: August 20, 2014, 11:47:36 PM
Also posted on the Crime and Punishment thread; militarization of police discussion begins at 08:40
198  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Former NYPD commisioner Bernard Kerik in fascinating interview on: August 20, 2014, 11:39:30 PM
199  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hi capacity assault rifles save the day in Ferguson on: August 20, 2014, 11:29:45 PM
Hat tip to Big Dog;boardseen#new 
200  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Race, religion, ethnic origin, LGBT, "discrimination", & discrimination. on: August 20, 2014, 11:24:11 PM
6'4" and 292lbs?  That is a big man, especially if you have just had your face broken by him.
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