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 on: August 28, 2014, 08:39:35 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by bigdog
Did Levin write those two pieces? I don't think he did.

My bad. His name on them is probably meaningless.

 on: August 28, 2014, 05:47:34 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M
Did Levin write those two pieces? I don't think he did.

 on: August 28, 2014, 05:40:22 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
Great discussion here, jumping in a little late.

Answering the last, first: "Name me positions where the right is in the lead against external diseconomies"

The greatest external dis-economy I see in the US economy is the power of excessive government to tax and regulate beyond reason or proportion, choking out private businesses and transactions.  The right is the only side sounding off against that.

It is true that the left is so far out front on all issues environmental.  They are on it before there is a problem.  There is no reasonable room I have seen for the right to take the lead.  You would have to be very, very quick to beat the left to the punch. 

The right has sided with the environment plenty though.  A Republican President started the EPA and a family member, Republican, was the first national director of water quality.  He applied rigorous math and science to the priorities of measurement and cleanup of water supplies.  No partisan.  Not exactly what I see today.

One point of environmental lead for the right might be to attack the level of carbon emitted by excessive governments, federal, state and local.  Their total likely amounts to 40% of our carbon emissions and 40% of our garbage and ocean filth output.  What part of THAT could we cut back?

Where we weren't in the lead, it seems that Republicans have (almost?) never rolled back environmental standards.  The air and the water have never (in the last 50 years or so) been cleaner.  Give liberals some credit and lock in the gains.  But the success of the programs removes a lot of the future urgency.  Growing the economy would help people quite a bit more right now, IMHO.

If Dems say gas mileage should be 100 mpg by mandate, should Republicans say 105?  If they say do it in one year, we could say 6 months, even if the technology to do so either practically or affordably does not exist?  Again, it is hard to be out front when the anti-commerce, anti-freedom side is already all over it.

"Quibbling about the definition of gyres , , ,"

So what is a gyre?  I have no idea, but the "facts" stated in the article are intuitively unbelievable.  If I read it correctly, 40% of the oceans are so clogged in plastics and garbage that navigation is jeopardized.  I sincerely doubt that.  Of the people here who live near the coast, what percent of what you see is disgusting and what percent is beautiful?  Either 40% has some trace in it, or if it is all drifting to the same places, then a tiny percentage of the oceans, maybe .001%, are too clogged for surface travel or sea life.  These pollutants never break down, yet see fish are tearing them apart as fast as they can to their own demise.  Which is it?  And why does a liberal publication run the facts in the opinion section.  Crafty sees a real problem.  Fine.  Let's wait for those real facts.

This discussion started earlier with the idea of banning plastic bags in San Francisco.(?)  But if this is "a perfect issue to illustrate free market environmentalism", isn't the answer is to add the environmental cost of a plastic bag to the transaction?  That is NEVER what is proposed.

Why are we dumping garbage into the ocean?  We don't need to.  Who is doing that?  I'm not doing that.  Governments control garbage.  If San Francisco is doing that, STOP DOING IT!  Non-coastal areas are not doing it.  Are they saying that is just what blows into the water off of litter on the streets?

What is the cost of cleaning up one ocean square mile, acre or hectare?  And how many plastic bags does it contain?  Certainly that is quantifiable, at least with estimates.  Add up the cost, assess it to the perpetrators, and start the cleanup.  Who is proposing that?  I have not seen it.

"...the underlying fact that we are crapping up the oceans" 

If so, then let's take the gathering and presenting of those facts seriously.  And make our response to it effective and proportionate.

We were crapping into Lake Superior decades ago; there it was taconite tailings.  It was wrong and it was stopped.  No one has a right to do that.  Maybe liberals were out front stopping that, but isn't the issue non-partisan?

 on: August 28, 2014, 05:31:14 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

So much for that.

 on: August 28, 2014, 05:26:12 PM 
Started by Dog Dave - Last post by objectivist1
That this sort of sermon is routinely delivered in mosques around the world, including many if not most in this country, without vigorous and unceasing protest from Christians and Jews everywhere, is a crime.  I count the majority of Christian pastors and priests in this category here in the U.S.  They are part of the problem because they refuse to recognize this evil and call it out for what it is.  We are heading for another Holocaust  - indeed the most respected Muslim cleric in the world (in Iran) is openly calling on jihadists to "finish the work that Hitler started."

When I was young and first learned about the Holocaust, I found it almost impossible to imagine how this could happen without fierce resistance from the Jews at the outset.  Now I understand - because tragically, I see this same denial of reality all around me among American Jews today.

Islam is not a legitimate religion in my opinion.  It is a totalitarian political and social system which subjugates all "infidels" who don't adhere to its tenets.  Having a deity attached to it as a mask for its true nature doesn't make it a religion.  It ought not be recognized as such here in the U.S., nor given any favorable treatment.

 on: August 28, 2014, 04:59:00 PM 
Started by Dog Dave - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: August 28, 2014, 04:50:26 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: August 28, 2014, 04:07:25 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
 The Difficulty of Choosing Sides in Libya
August 28, 2014 | 0415 Print Text Size

Fighters from the Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) coalition guard the entrance to the Tripoli International Airport on Aug. 24. (MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

Weeks of fighting to the south of the Libyan capital have resulted in an uneasy stalemate. The lull came after Islamist fighters backed by the powerful coastal city of Misrata successfully ousted the Zentan-based al-Qaaqaa and al-Sawaaq militias from Tripoli International Airport. Misrata is Libya's third-largest city and has maintained a remarkable degree of localized stability and security, while the larger cities of Tripoli and Benghazi have grappled with repeated bouts of violence, militant activity and cuts in water and power supplies. The renewed presence and authority of the Misrata-backed brigades in Tripoli after their ouster in November 2013 will have broader political and security implications for Libya's post-revolutionary transition.

Early champions in the fight against former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Misrata's political and militia leaders are attempting to leverage their strong presence in the capital to achieve broader national authority, a move that has sparked a violent and chaotic competition for power in the process. Neighboring countries and international observers are uneasy with the growing instability within Libya's borders, but calls for international intervention to prop up Libya's struggling transitional government will continue to be confounded by the difficulty of establishing who legitimately represents the fragmented and chaotic post-Gadhafi state.


On Aug. 27, the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 2174 authorizing sanctions against individuals and groups that undermine Libya's political transition, as well as those who attack ports, diplomatic offices and key infrastructure. Libya has also been under an arms embargo since the 2011 revolution, though it has done little to halt the proliferation and transfer of weapons across its vast deserts and into neighboring states. Even though Libya's newly installed transitional government, the House of Representatives, issued multiple requests for foreign intervention to help stabilize the country, outside observers, including the United Nations, the United States and NATO, balked at the idea of placing troops on the ground to help limit violence and support Libya's political transition.

There are multiple conflicts spanning the Libyan political space. Competition between advocates of either a centralized or federal model of governance brought much of Libya's oil exports offline for over a year. Meanwhile, regional, sectarian, ethnic and tribal disputes regularly erupt in armed clashes that affect urban centers and target key infrastructure installations. The return of groups from Misrata to Tripoli is itself part of a larger battle that has turned Benghazi and the region south of Tripoli into battlefields, pitting foreign-backed forces organized under retired Libyan Gen. Khalifa Hifter's Operation Dignity campaign against alliances of jihadist and Islamist forces. In Benghazi, Islamist militias that are rumored to be supported by states such as Qatar and Turkey have partnered with jihadist groups like Ansar al-Sharia to fight Hifter's forces, while in western Libya -- and specifically the area around Tripoli -- Misrata-backed regional fighters allied with Islamist forces under Operation Dawn have banded against Hifter's Zentan-based allies, the al-Qaaqaa and al-Sawaaq brigades.
Libya's Urban and Rural Power Centers
Click to Enlarge

Hifter's rumored foreign backing, demonstrated by alleged Egyptian and Emirati coordinated airstrikes against Operation Dawn targets in Tripoli and claims of his cooperation with the CIA, has left much of Libya's powerful network of nationalistic tribes and militias apprehensive of directly engaging in fighting against other forces on his behalf, despite many regional centers' growing fear of the rising regional clout of Misrata and its Islamist allies. Herein lies the challenge for outside observers, including the United States and NATO: The international community is concerned about the geographic space Libya's post-revolutionary chaos has made available to regional militants, but fighters within the current battlefield spectrum -- from Misrata-backed forces, to Islamist fighters, to the divided national army -- do not always fit neatly into the category of ally or foe. There are serious fears that a foreign intervention launched to tackle jihadists or renegade militias could quickly turn into a broader conflict between foreign forces and the very revolutionaries that they trained and armed to fight Gadhafi.

The United States' and Libya's primary partners in NATO -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy -- have all publicly decried the alleged Emirati airstrikes in Libya, warning against adding violence to the country's already volatile security situation. Western states, the United Nations and neighboring Algeria and Tunisia are calling for a "political process" to solve Libya's problems. Since early August, Libya's struggling national parliament, the House of Representatives, has convened in Tobruk instead of Benghazi as originally planned because of security concerns. Some 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) away from the nation's capital, the internationally recognized parliament has struggled to make its voice heard in the power centers of Tripoli, Misrata, Zentan and Benghazi.

In response to the most recent ouster of the Hifter-aligned Zentan militias in Tripoli, members of the defunct General National Congress have reconvened in the capital, leaving Libya with two competing parliaments, a divided army and an uncertain political future. Clashes and violence are inevitable, and covert involvement by states -- particularly Egypt and its primary Gulf backers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- is likely. The competition for legitimacy between the two parliaments will also likely extend into a fight for control of the country's sizable oil revenues and the right to receive revenues from export cargos -- a dispute that will probably cause production and exports to falter yet again. Additionally, the decision by Libya's more moderate Islamists to reject their erstwhile jihadist partners after their gains against the Zentan militias may reflect a desire to portray a more moderate disposition but also risks pushing the jihadists to target the more moderate Islamist militias as well as the Operation Dignity forces lead by Hifter.

Libya's democratic transition will remain stagnant until Libyans themselves can coalesce across tribal and regional lines to form a majority body that external governments can more effectively support. Even then, Libya will likely face a broader conflict than the ongoing localized fighting between regional competitors as the national government attempts to bring opposition forces -- of which Libya has many -- under a single national authority through either coercion or force. Outside powers such as the United States are still unwilling to designate who is "good" or "bad" within Libya's divided landscape, and even power centers such as Misrata remain too fundamentally weak to extend authority beyond their immediate geography, leaving Libya without any force that can operate on a national scale. A foreign intervention in Libya still seems unlikely, and there are few indigenous solutions to keep the country from moving closer to an eventual de facto fragmentation along its internal fissures. Meanwhile, Libya remains without a permanent government, national Cabinet or expectations of a constitution or national elections before the end of 2014 -- in short, without an effective domestic entity that is capable of working with outside governments.

Read more: The Difficulty of Choosing Sides in Libya | Stratfor

 on: August 28, 2014, 04:05:34 PM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog
 The Islamic State's Growth Has Limits
Security Weekly
Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 03:00 Print Text Size

By Scott Stewart

Since the Islamic State declared the establishment of the caliphate June 29, I have been asked frequently about the group's appeal outside of its immediate area of operations and its ability to attract other jihadists. When we see crises flare up such as the current one in Yemen, people ask: Is there an Islamic State affiliate that can take advantage of this?

Because of such concerns, it seemed appropriate to take some time to examine the Islamic State's ability to spread.
Factors in the Rise of the Islamic State

When considering the Islamic State's ability to metastasize beyond its core area, we must first look at its ideology, its methodology and the environment that produced it. The Islamic State (like its predecessor organizations) is rooted in the Iraq conflict and is a product of that conflict. Although Abu Musab al-Zarqawi founded the organization Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad in Afghanistan, the group never amounted to much there. It was only when he relocated to Iraq following the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan that the group really found success in recruiting and on the battlefield.

Unlike the educated men from wealthy families who formed al Qaeda, al-Zarqawi is a former Jordanian street thug who was radicalized while in prison. His group's hubris, brutality and embrace of sectarianism all trace their roots back to his influence and guidance.

This brutal sectarianism was well suited for Iraq (and later for Syria) and took root in the de-Baathification programs following the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. It was also fostered by the atrocities that Shiite militias committed against innocent Sunnis. De-Baathification helped Jamaat al-Tawhid and Jihad, and later al Qaeda in Iraq, attract many Sunni fighters who were former Iraqi officers and gain support from Iraq's powerful Sunni tribes.

The Evolution of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

While the tribal support was diminished during the Anbar Awakening, the Sunni sheikhs always maintained a healthy fear and skepticism of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's sectarian bent. Because of this, the Sunni tribal sheikhs permitted a weakened Islamic State in Iraq to survive in case it was ever needed again as a tool with which to confront the al-Maliki government.

Even during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Shiite militias committed numerous atrocities against Sunnis, who were often abducted, tortured and murdered. But following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the Shiite militias' violence was joined by the sectarian policies of the al-Maliki government intended to marginalize Sunnis and undercut their power in Iraq. For example, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a very influential Sunni politician, was charged with murder and forced to flee Baghdad for Iraqi Kurdistan and eventually Turkey. The al-Maliki government also stopped its payments to the Sunni Awakening Forces and reneged on agreements to integrate thousands of its members into the Iraqi armed forces, leaving many of these men unemployed with no means of supporting their families. Such measures helped what was then the Islamic State in Iraq in its efforts to regain power and momentum.

The highly sectarian Syrian civil war also proved fortunate for the resurgent Islamic State in Iraq. A good number of Syrian Sunnis had been involved with the Islamic State in Iraq since the beginning, and the many years of experience they gained fighting coalition forces in Iraq permitted the group's Syrian surrogate, Jabhat al-Nusra, to emerge as an effective fighting force. Jabhat al-Nusra's professionalism, sectarian rhetoric and brutality allowed it to quickly attract not only Syrian rebels but also a substantial portion of the foreign fighters flocking to Syria. The Syrian-led Jabhat al-Nusra later split with the Islamic State of Iraq when the Iraqi leaders of the latter group attempted to directly integrate the Syrian fighters in their renamed group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. When al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri sided with Jabhat al Nusra in the dispute, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant ignored his admonishment and split with al Qaeda.
Frictions and Limited Cooperation

The spectacle of al-Zawahiri's criticism of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant was nothing new. The group's ideology was never all that closely aligned with al Qaeda's, and there is documentation from as far back as 2005 that al-Zawahiri criticized al-Zarqawi because his group was highly sectarian and exceedingly brutal. Al-Zawahiri noted that al-Zarqawi's policies were alienating many Muslims against the group. The degree of this alienation became readily apparent in the 2007 Anbar Awakening.

The group has gained some traction among Lebanese Sunnis, with many Sunnis in Tripoli openly supporting the Islamic State. However, outside of the highly sectarian environment in the Levant, the group's attempts to assume leadership of the global jihad since its declaration of the caliphate in June have failed. Not only have al Qaeda-linked jihadist groups such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula refused to swear an oath of loyalty to the Islamic State's leadership, but prominent jihadist ideologues like Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi have publicly criticized the group.

One reason for this lack of support is that the leaders of jihadist groups in places like Yemen, Pakistan and Algeria view the Islamic State as a threat -- to their leadership of the global jihad and in the competition for limited resources such as men, funding and weapons. Many jihadist leaders are jealous of the way that geography has permitted their counterparts in Iraq and Syria to monopolize the financial largesse of wealthy Muslim donors in the Gulf and elsewhere. Iraq and Syria were the seats of previous Islamic caliphates and are seen as being at the heart of the Muslim world -- places like Pakistan and Yemen are not.

Even current al Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri, who is sheltering in the area along the Afghan-Pakistani border, recognized this when he laid out his vision for the global progression of the jihadist movement. In a 2005 letter to al-Zarqawi, he wrote: "It has always been my belief that the victory of Islam will never take place until a Muslim state is established in the manner of the Prophet in the heart of the Islamic world." He wrote that the first step in such a plan was to expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage was to establish an emirate and expand it into a larger caliphate. The third stage was to attack the countries surrounding Iraq, mainly Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria and Jordan, bringing them into the caliphate. The fourth step was to use the combined power of the caliphate to attack Israel. Although the Islamic State has split with al-Zawahiri's al Qaeda core leadership, they are progressing along the trajectory he laid out.

A second factor keeping the leaders of other jihadist groups from joining the Islamic State is the group's sectarian focus and its propensity to attack other jihadist groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic Front and other rebel groups in Syria. Multiple jihadist groups operate in places like Pakistan and the Sahel region of Africa, but they have been far less combative than the Islamic State.

Third, most other jihadist leaders are repulsed by the Islamic State's brutal imposition of Sharia and believe that they have a more sophisticated view of Islamic governance than the Islamic State. This difference was clear in al-Zawahiri's letter to al-Zarqawi and in more recent letters from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasir al-Wahayshi to Abdelmalek Droukdel, the leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Other letters from Droukdel to his subordinates in Mali after they had taken control of a large portion of northern Mali also urged tolerance and warned against the type of strict and sudden enforcement of Sharia the Islamic State is known for.
The Islamic State's Appeal

Grassroots jihadists have been the Islamic State's main source of public support since before the declaration of the caliphate. Individual grassroots jihadists from around the world have flocked to Iraq and Syria to fight, and grassroots networks have been set up in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East to send men, funds and weapons to support the Islamic State. Jihadists in Libya and Tunisia have been especially active in these support networks in terms of sending men (and weapons from Libya), but they have not yet overtly declared loyalty to the Islamic State.

In Indonesia, Abu Bakar Bashir, the former leader of the now-defunct Jemaah Islamiyah, declared allegiance to the Islamic State, but Bashir is in prison and marginalized. Even his own sons have repudiated him (and by extension the Islamic State) and have broken off to form a new radical Islamist group in Indonesia. There have also been reports of a grassroots group in Malaysia that allegedly was discussing the launch of terrorist activity there, but this group appears to have been more aspirational than operational at the time of its members' arrests.

Given the well-publicized battlefield successes that the Islamic State achieved in July, it is quite remarkable that the group did not garner more support from other jihadist groups. We believe that with the United States and other outside countries taking action against the Islamic State in Iraq (perhaps to be followed by attacks against their infrastructure in Syria), the group is due to suffer setbacks on the battlefield. This will diminish the Islamic State's appeal to other jihadist groups whose interest might have been piqued by its successes.

Read more: The Islamic State's Growth Has Limits | Stratfor

 on: August 28, 2014, 03:54:04 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
China's Reckless Military
Beijing is testing the U.S. resolve to remain a Pacific power.
Updated Aug. 26, 2014 6:18 p.m. ET

'Very, very close. Very dangerous." That's how Pentagon spokesman Admiral John Kirby describes last week's encounter in which a Chinese fighter jet maneuvered, much like Tom Cruise's character in "Top Gun," within 20 feet of a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane over the South China Sea. The Pentagon also revealed that China has flown at least three other provocative missions against U.S. aircraft since March. Such persistent Chinese military recklessness helps explain why China's neighbors increasingly fear for regional security.

China naturally is pushing its own version of last week's events. A military spokesman says that U.S. accusations are "totally unfounded" because "the Chinese pilot's maneuvers were professional, and maintained a safe distance from the U.S. aircraft." The real security risk, says People's Liberation Army Colonel Yang Yujun, comes from U.S. surveillance flights, which would be "the root cause behind any accidents."

Yet such claims don't hold up against China's record of courting danger up and down the Western Pacific. Chinese air and sea incursions into Japanese territory caused Japan's air force to scramble fighter jets a record 415 times in the year that ended in March, up 36% from the year before.

In May and June, Chinese fighters buzzed within 100 feet of Japanese reconnaissance planes near the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea—the closest Chinese flyby ever, according to Tokyo. This follows the January 2013 incident in which Chinese ships locked fire-control radar onto a Japanese destroyer and helicopter.

In the South China Sea, China's aggressive behavior more often targets the U.S., as when a Chinese warship cut within 100 meters of the U.S. destroyer Cowpens last December. In 2009 five Chinese vessels forced the unarmed maritime surveillance ship USNS Impeccable to withdraw from waters off China's Hainan Island. The worst case was in 2001 when a Chinese fighter jet collided with a U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane, forcing it to land on Hainan, where its 24 crew members were held for 10 days. The Chinese pilot died.

These South China Sea incidents—and last week's close call—all happened in international waters or airspace, far outside the area of Chinese sovereignty that extends 12 miles from the coast. China's international legal obligations require it to honor other countries' freedom of movement outside that 12-mile zone, but Beijing has tried to ban foreign militaries from conducting surveillance within its 200-mile exclusive economic zone as well.

Beijing last year declared an air-defense identification zone over the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and will likely do the same soon for the South China Sea. Its claims to "historical waters" are particularly troubling because they are not dependent on land claims. Since this has no basis in international law, it's impossible to predict how Beijing might restrict navigation.

While Beijing is ratcheting up the tension, the Pentagon leaked speculation that last week's intercept was only the work of a rogue pilot or maybe a rogue squadron commander. One official told the Journal that "something's out of whack" with Chinese military behavior in the South China Sea. If that's the case, President Xi Jinping —who exerts significant control over the military and has purged several senior generals tied to corruption—now has the opportunity to send a message by disciplining the commander responsible.

But we're not counting on it. More likely, China's military provocations will continue until Washington pushes back.

One possible response would be to stop extending coveted invitations to U.S.-led military exchanges such as the Rim of the Pacific Exercise in the waters off Hawaii, which China joined this summer for the first time. Washington has already offered China a spot in Rimpac 2016, but that can be rescinded. While joint training can be valuable for teaching professionalism and building reliable lines of communication, the upside is limited if China's military remains dedicated to confrontation and intimidation.

At a minimum, continued surveillance flights through the Western Pacific are necessary to convey that the U.S. won't back down to Chinese bullying. U.S. friends in Japan, the Philippines, Australia, Vietnam and beyond will be watching for such public signals of resolve. Privately, meanwhile, U.S. officials could warn China that if its military keeps threatening routine reconnaissance operations in international airspace, U.S. forces will have little choice but to deploy F-15s or F-22s as defensive escorts.

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