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Thread: Inauguration Day, Inauguration Hooooooraaay!

  1. #2081

    "Has it won yet?"

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    17,109
    I haven't done much research into this yet but I always wondered, how does SpaceX raise decent capital to stay afloat year by year?
    SnailIracing:n(500tpostshpereline)pants
    -----------------------------@%

  2. #2082
    Admiral of Awesome
    Posts
    18,177
    $1bn in seed, $1bn from Google and Fidelity, $4bn in US government contracts. It helps that they are much less wasteful and incompetent than the government-sanctioned Boeing/Lockheed monopoly.

  3. #2083
    Admiral of Awesome
    Posts
    18,177
    e.g. a ULA (Boeing/Lockheed monopoly) executive didn't realize he was being recorded, and admitted that basically everything they do is graft and that incumbents literally can't compete against SpaceX or Blue Origin.

    https://qz.com/641738/this-rocket-ex...-the-next-day/

  4. #2084
    Time to move the Doomsday Clock another ε to midnight, now that the president's stolid attitude toward the written word
    U.S. officials said that the National Security Council continues to prepare multi-page briefings for Trump to guide him through conversations with foreign leaders, but that he has insisted that the guidance be distilled to a single page of bullet points — and often ignores those.

    “He seems to get in the room or on the phone and just goes with it, and that has big downsides,” the second former official said. “Does he understand what’s classified and what’s not? That’s what worries me.”
    has precipitated a public (kudos to the Russian state photographer!) display of treasonous intel bungling that even manages to ape


    President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former U.S. officials, who said Trump’s disclosures jeopardized a critical source of intelligence on the Islamic State.

    The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

    The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.

    “This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”

    [...]

    In his meeting with Lavrov, Trump seemed to be boasting about his inside knowledge of the looming threat. “I get great intel. I have people brief me on great intel every day,” the president said, according to an official with knowledge of the exchange.

    Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.

    The Washington Post is withholding most plot details, including the name of the city, at the urging of officials who warned that revealing them would jeopardize important intelligence capabilities.

    “Everyone knows this stream is very sensitive, and the idea of sharing it at this level of granularity with the Russians is troubling,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official who also worked closely with members of the Trump national security team. He and others spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.

    The identification of the location was seen as particularly problematic, officials said, because Russia could use that detail to help identify the U.S. ally or intelligence capability involved. Officials said the capability could be useful for other purposes, possibly providing intelligence on Russia’s presence in Syria. Moscow would be keenly interested in identifying that source and perhaps disrupting it.

    Russia and the United States both regard the Islamic State as an enemy and share limited information about terrorist threats. But the two nations have competing agendas in Syria, where Moscow has deployed military assets and personnel to support President Bashar al-Assad.

    “Russia could identify our sources or techniques,” the senior U.S. official said.

    A former intelligence official who handled high-level intelligence on Russia said that given the clues Trump provided, “I don’t think that it would be that hard [for Russian spy services] to figure this out.”

    At a more fundamental level, the information wasn’t the United States’ to provide to others. Under the rules of espionage, governments — and even individual agencies — are given significant control over whether and how the information they gather is disseminated, even after it has been shared. Violating that practice undercuts trust considered essential to sharing secrets.

    The officials declined to identify the ally but said it has previously voiced frustration with Washington’s inability to safeguard sensitive information related to Iraq and Syria.

    “If that partner learned we’d given this to Russia without their knowledge or asking first, that is a blow to that relationship,” the U.S. official said.

    [...]

    Lavrov and Kislyak were also accompanied by aides.

    A Russian photographer took photos of part of the session that were released by the Russian state-owned Tass news agency. No U.S. news organization was allowed to attend any part of the meeting.

    Senior White House officials appeared to recognize quickly that Trump had overstepped and moved to contain the potential fallout.

    Thomas P. Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, placed calls to the directors of the CIA and the NSA, the services most directly involved in the intelligence-sharing arrangement with the partner.

    [...]
    a scene from a movie about actual Doomsday?

    Video URL: http://www.youtube.com/v/3Y3Rrvh3FwE

    Last edited by Reverend Jones; 05-15-2017 at 05:53 PM.

  5. #2085
    Zulenglashernbracker
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    5,883
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump:..._Deal#Synopsis

    Classic Step 7. Pretty soon comes the fighting back!
    I had a blog. It sucked.

  6. #2086
    Quote Originally Posted by Zloc_Vergo View Post
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump:..._Deal#Synopsis

    Classic Step 7. Pretty soon comes the fighting back!
    If an unstoppable force meets an immovable object...

    Will a man who freely admits to not reading books manage to make it through one that he had ghostwritten just to stroke his ego?

    Either way,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon`C View Post

  7. #2087
    ^^vv<><>BASTART
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Reid, I'm going to "break character" for a sec. I was enjoying our debate before, and I wish I hadn't shut it down. I’ve thrown some insults your way recently, but this has never been personal for me, and I haven’t taken any of your insults personally. As far as I'm concerned, we're engaged in argument as sport. So, without further ado, I’m going to respond to your last lengthy post, and you can choose whether or not you want to respond to it…
    I'm glad we can move forward. I'm not taking this personally either, but for sake of politeness moving forward, I'll do my best to be more civil.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    1. In addition to citing sources that don't support your claims, there's another problem with your arguments. Because your insults have no basis in fact at all, they also have no teeth, and they’re *really* easy to dismiss. Here's an example.

    Leaving aside times when your arguments are implicitly moral (and those are the important ones, but I’ll get into that at the very end), there are several examples when you explicitly demand that morality be brought into the discussion. The last turn in the discussion was initiated by you demanding that I make a moral argument.
    I think the points I'm making are misunderstood, and there's a chance I'm going to contradict myself, so I may bite a bullet or two. I need to make a distinction between facts and values. Facts are facts, for instance, we can say, "drivers with a higher BAC cause more accidents"-that is a fact. Saying "drunk people ought not drive"-that is a value. Facts and values have interplay, and it's not clear how big the distinction is, but I believe most people would agree there is a distinction.

    I'll illustrate how this works in politics by analogy. Let's say I'm looking for parking in a busy city. All of the lots and safe streets are full. When I'm thinking about whether I should park in an unsafe area, my thought isn't about the morality of breaking into cars. My thought is about whether it's a likely occurance. It's a fact-laden thought, not a morality-laden thought. Of course, it is still wrong for a person to break into another person's car.

    So, when you say:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    I'd argue that you'd be better off thinking in less moralistic terms, and more like a realist. And you wouldn't understand my point, and you'd keep pointing out moral failures in American foreign policy, all the while failing to see that my entire point is that that approach is useless for understanding America's response to Russia's interference in the election.
    I'm saying understanding America's response to Russian interference is just like considering whether someone will break into my car. It's not a moral calculus to understand what someone does. People break into cars because they're poor, or maybe because they just don't have respect for other's property. But these aren't (or aren't entirely) morality-laden claims, they are claims about causality.

    Similarly, you're absolutely right that I make moral criticisms of America. I do, quite a bit, because I think America's actions in the world are often very immoral. That is a value claim. I also have a fact-claim, which is to say, I believe often times, American foreign policy causes more harm to American citizens than it helps them.

    Of course, this claim also has values in it. Determining what counts as "harm" or "help" is not truly fact-based. But, if we can come to an agreement on what counts as harm or help, then we can discuss the facts, and whether the facts in conjunction with those values leads to the conclusion I stated my belief of. I also believe that any reasonable interpretation of what harms and helps American citizens will lead to that conclusion as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    And then, afterwards, you try to shame me for being immoral:

    And, of course, immediately after the first quotation in this post, you say:

    You deny you're engaged in "moral thinking", but yet you admit you provide "moral criticisms". There's no meaningful distinction conveyed by these terms; you're simply contradicting yourself. So the accusation that it's "only in my head" doesn't stick at all. It’s incredibly easy to dismiss. If you want your insults to be effective, try making arguments that have some basis in reality.
    I believe you may be confused as to how morality and factuality interplay. When you say:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    I'd argue that you'd be better off thinking in less moralistic terms, and more like a realist.
    I'm not sure entirely what you're implying by "realist". Political realism is pretty broad, but my understanding is that it's the position that, in politics, everybody is always seeking to maximize their power, and to not have power is bad, therefore we ought to pursue having the most power. This is a strong moral claim: it makes claims about what we ought to be doing politically in no uncertain terms. It just sounds deceptively unmoralistic, because it's name gives the pretense of factuality. But it's not. Second, it makes claims about power that I find dubious. Specifically, many formulations of political realism portray political power as a zero sum game: the belief would be that, if I don't assert power, then someone else will. It's not obvious at all to me that this is how the real world works; it may suffice in many instances as a workable model, but it's far from "the objective truth" of politics. For instance, the PATRIOT act expanded the capabilities and power of the NSA. I do not think this power was "taken away" from say Russia in order to achieve, in my view it was the creation of new power that wouldn't have existed otherwise. Similarly, I don't think it's obvious that, if the United States had never, say, invaded Iraq, that some other power would have exerted itself in the same area.

    If this is not your interpretation, I'd like you to break it down. It's not at all obvious what "realism" means, and it appears to be more moralistic than you're impressing on me..

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    2. Here's another example where your insults are completely meaningless because you show a complete disregard for facts:

    There's so much that's wrong about this.

    First, the idea that I’m the only person who cared about this would be unconvincing to anyone who has even the slightest awareness of basic facts about the issue. Discussion about the red line continued to be hugely relevant even several weeks ago, when Trump fired cruise missiles into Syria. It was crucial, Trump believed, to distinguish himself from his predecessor, and demonstrate that, unlike Obama, he was willing to stand by his word and use force. Furthermore, criticism of Obama for not enforcing the redline was a frequent talking point made by Republicans while he was still president.
    On this, you're correct. Republicans did take Obama to mean more than he said, and keep harping on a point that was never intended.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Second, enforcing the red line wasn’t a “hardline” position. Even some senior officials within the Obama administration wished that Obama had enforced it. John Kerry, for example, thought failing to enforce it was a real problem. Many liberals criticized Obama for failing to do anything to stop or slow the suffering in Syria, and saw it as a deep moral failing that he did nothing. But if Obama had intervened in 2013, his response would have been much more limited, and would have had less of an impact than what many liberal interventions have hoped for. It likely would have been a much smaller attack that fell far short of regime change, that it would have been comparable to Trump’s cruise missile strike several weeks ago.
    I agree, it wasn't a hardline position. Obama said something that came across much stronger than he intended. I also believe you personally read it much stronger than Obama intended.

    I'm curious, though, what actions do you think Obama might have taken to reduce suffering?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Third, it's hilarious that you'd accuse me of being uninformed about this, when, again, your source contradicts rather than confirms your claims. (It's especially funny in light of your complete failure to show that I cite sources that don't confirm my claims.) It's true that Obama was speaking off the cuff when he made his remarks, but it’s completely false that he “minimized” them afterwards. It ultimately didn’t matter that they were improvised. After Obama made his statement, the administration leaned into it. I’m citing your source:
    Scroll down further:

    Oddly, at a news conference a few days later, the president was asked about the red line again and he tried to minimize it as “not a surprise:”

    “What I’ve also said is that the use of chemical weapons would be a game-changer not simply for the United States but for the international community. And the reason for that is that we have established international law and international norms that say when you use these kinds of weapons, you have the potential of killing massive numbers of people in the most inhumane way possible, and the proliferation risks are so significant that we don’t want that genie out of the bottle. So when I said that the use of chemical weapons would be a game-changer, that wasn’t unique to — that wasn’t a position unique to the United States and it shouldn’t have been a surprise.”
    But the president apparently was never comfortable with his own words. So when new talking points were crafted to make this line seem less like an “Obama red line” and more like a world-backed red line, the president bungled the language again. He made it appear as if he was denying he had called it a red line, when that was obviously not the case.
    The article discusses plainly how Obama tried to minimize what he said.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    And the article goes on and on about how the administration continued to own Obama's red line, and how they accepted it as binding. So: read your sources before you cite them?
    ? I'm not sure if we're reading the same thing. It does clearly talk about how Obama backed off from the statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Fourth, your remark about going toe-to-toe with a nuclear power is factually incorrect. In 2012 and 2013, Russia had not yet entered the Syrian Civil War, so, at the time, there was not a real possibility of escalation between two nuclear powers if the US went after Assad in the same way that there is today. In fact, some who criticize Obama on his Syria policy blame him for enabling Russia to regain a “foothold in the Middle East”. It’s a frequently stated conservative talking point. Here’s just one example:
    That's an irrational blame. Russia has had military presence in Syria since long before the Arab Spring. Obama would have known this, and would have factored it into any decisions he made in Syria. In this situation, Russia never "regained" a foothold in the Middle East, because they've always had that one in Syria. But to respond to what you quoted, this:

    The Pax Putinica began the moment President Obama failed to enforce the “red line” he had drawn regarding Assad’s use of chemical weapons in the budding civil war in Syria. Obama’s lapse gave Putin the opening he needed to negotiate a deal with the Syrian dictator, who would give up the weapons — as Russia gained its first firm foothold in the Middle East since the 1970s.
    From what I've found, this is the opinion of someone at the Hudson institute. Judging from their Wikipedia, they're a center-right thinktank that's largely supportive of American military intervention. They don't come across as particularly unbiased in this. Though, I find their quote still confusing, unless if they're insinuating that Putin is grabbing power that he didn't have before in Syria? And by Pax Putinica, are they suggesting that Putin is at a peak of controlling land and influence? I'm really just not getting what they are saying, Putin's lost a bunch of control of the Middle East. For instance: Putin and Gaddafi were close. Putin was upset when Gaddafi was [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iw5Ij_RFJ1Q]taken down[/i]. Hillary Clinton indirectly claimed responsibility for doing it.

    So, I just don't get what the Hudson institute is saying, if they're even attempting to say anything factual. If I can tempt a guess, and this is surely unheard of in American politics (sarcasm): they're just talking bull**** in a way that tries to justify hostile military action. Putin's been losing influence over the Middle East at American hands, he's not gaining it, and at worst he's violently keeping influence over the Syrian country that he had influence over before anyway.

    So, yes, military hawks will be angry at a president who doesn't make military action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    So that’s that. I should add: none of what I’ve said about Obama has anything to do with differences of opinion between us. It has only to do clarifying basic facts that are indisputable, but which you, nonetheless, seem eager to deny. Do you see why I got pissy when you didn’t cite your sources yet? Okay, next point.
    .

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    3. Your citation of the 9/11 Commission Report is completely dishonest. If you quoted the next line of the text, it would undermine your basic claim about what the passage you cited report means. In full, it says:
    American foreign policy is part of the message. America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world. That does not mean U.S. choices have been wrong. It means those choices must be integrated with America’s message of opportunity to the Arab and Muslim world.
    If you read again what I said:

    The most official, public-faced commission on 9/11 possible says it directly. 9/11 was a result of American foreign policy and action in the Middle East.
    I was citing that source for the facts they were stating, not for the values. Clearly I disagree with that value. Is that dishonest? Maybe I should have stated a caveat. But it's not "completely" dishonest, because I was never using that source to derive anything but the fact of what causes terrorism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    "That does not mean U.S. choices have been wrong." There's no disavowal here of American foreign policy. There's no concession that America's actions in the Middle East weren't justified, or that they were bad. The commission is merely calling for a PR program (or something like it) to fix the US' image in the Middle East. This isn't a moral confession of wrong doing or a repudiation of the fundamental soundness of US foreign policy.
    Again, you're right. The report derives a different conclusion about the moral correctness of U.S. action. In other news, burglars largely condemn house alarms as immoral. We don't allow people to judge themselves in court for the same reason we don't trust this report's analysis of America's actions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    But, larger picture, the mere fact that US foreign policy has undesirable and unintended consequences doesn't mean that its foreign policy is wrong or misguided. (There are, of course, other measures according to which such judgments can be made.) Nobody would deny the principle of blowback. Unintended consequences are a feature of foreign policy decisions that decision makers have to live with. They aren’t necessarily the product of negligence or excessive force or some other impropriety, nor that a decision was a bad or unjust (although, of course, they can be). In some cases, decisions may have undesirable consequences, but sometimes such choices are made because there’s no acceptable alternative to doing nothing.
    Yes, we all agree that US foreign policy has desirable and undesirable consequences, intended or unintended consequences. But the calculus must be more nuanced. First, it's a question of whether the desirable outweights the undesirable, or vice versa. I'm saying that for most, not all, but most actions, the bad outweights the good. As for the intentionality, it's more complicated than saying an action is intentional or unintentional, and therefore simply deriving the morality. If I drive drunk, or speed recklessly, and as a result kill someone, despite my actions being unintended, they were still wrong. If an action has easily perceivable, bad consequences, then it doesn't matter what is intended, it's immoral to commit to that action. It's fairly easy to see that military intervention has many unintended consequences, which are mainly felt by civilians. Thus military intervention must be done carefully, only in moral circumstances, and with clear objectives. Many of America's wars fail to meet these criteria, and some, e.g. Vietnam, fail all three.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    When I said you should think in less moralistic terms, I was challenging an assumption that is implicit in many of your statements about US foreign policy, such as this one. The “assumption” is compatible with, although not necessarily implied by, the previous quotation. I expect you’ll deny you subscribe to it yourself, but I invite you to distinguish your view from it.
    It isn't a moralistic concern whether people will seek retribution. It's a factual one. If one attempts to cross-correlate terrorism with western actions in the Middle East, it's apparent that one precedes the other, and if you actually read what the terrorists say, they're saying they do it because of America. I mean, literally, just go and read what Osama Bin Laden was saying before 9/11:

    First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.
    Unless you think he's just lying, what he's saying is pretty clear. And it's not even (entirely) inaccurate. His analysis of the factuality, what causes what, is not completely wrong. He may have chosen an immoral way to take that fact, but it's not hard to predict that, when the United States does pretty much these things, you get people who are really, really angry.

    You ask, then, how my quote is different than the 9/11 Commission, which reads:

    American foreign policy is part of the message. America’s policy choices have consequences. Right or wrong, it is simply a fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world. That does not mean U.S. choices have been wrong. It means those choices must be integrated with America’s message of opportunity to the Arab and Muslim world.
    You suggested they were compatible views. Yes, my quote and this quote agree on the basic facts of what causes terrorism: plundering riches, dictating to rulers, humiliating people, terrorizing people, and using their lands to spearhead wars against people they feel close to (obviously there's an antisemitic strain in what Osama said, so ignore that, what he's saying about U.S. military intervention is the thing to consider).

    But the difference I have with that quote is the moral one. Since we actually are doing the things Osama Bin Laden acuses us of, and since it has come back to us and caused lots of damage, not just in terms of 9/11, but the legal changes (PATRIOT act) and two expensive wars, we should not be doing those things. And these are only the consequences Americans suffer. The consequences they suffer are worse.

    Unless if you can come up with a good reason why the United States should have done the things Osama Bin Laden acuses us of doing, good things that are good enough to such a degree that they substantially outweigh the bad, then I don't see how your moral calculus can lead you to believe our actions are right, or justified.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    When I responded to this, I said it was “reflective of a imperialistic, racist, condescending attitude that’s prevalent on the left”. And I stand by that. It seems to share a lot in common with an argument that’s prominent amongst the anti-war left, and it goes something like this: American intervention is the single greatest cause of instability in the Middle East (and, even, in the world). As long as the US has a military presence there, the chaos will continue. However, since we are the greatest cause of instability, if we leave, it will stop. Therefore, we should leave.
    By "single greatest", if we mean, we look at each political entity causing instability, and select the one that causes the most, then yes, American intervention IS the greatest cause of instability in the Middle East. If you think this is not the case, then I'd like you to explain how situations like Iran can be primarily made responsible to another country.

    More broadly though, the western nations are responsible for destablizing the Middle East. And I include Russia in that list, they were historically Christian and culturally closest to Europe, and communism is a Western invention, so as far as I'm concerned they're western.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Those who make this argument also claim that despite what our media’s reports to the contrary, the US is the dominant aggressor in the world order; what appears to us like hostile, unprovoked attacks from foreign powers, are actually defensive responses to our provocations. (This sounds a lot like your argument about revenge, quoted above.)
    Napoleon hardly ever declared war first, yet we would hardly say he was not aggressive. You have to also consider the political order which existed before any violence happened. You seem to neglect this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    It’s fundamentally a moral analysis. It explains why the world is so hostile to us by blaming us for our own actions, and it offers a prescription for what to do about it (namely, withdraw). And in doing so, it grossly exaggerates just how influential American power is, by narcissistically assuming that, when bad things happen in the world, it’s likely because of us.
    Saying aggression causes reverse aggression is not a moral analysis. It's one of the more unmoral claims I've made regarding U.S. foreign policy.

    The thing is, you actually can trace many bad things back directly to actions the United States has done. Sure, we can make factual errors in doing this, but I think if you take the time and analyze it with a discerning, fair mind, you'll see that it is the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Now I’m not denying that US foreign policy can be exceptionally aggressive, or that what appears to us to be unprovoked aggression from our enemies can at times in fact be defense. I’m merely challenging the monocausal explanation for why the world is such a hostile place which can be inferred from this view. My disclaimer above about compatibility rather than implication applies, but nonetheless you seem to buy into it, both in the two quotations cited above, but also here, when you say:
    So, yes, the thing you quoted from me was not explicitly accurate. It was hyperbole. Clearly it's not the case that every last instability in the Middle East was the cause of the United States. I do not believe that. I do believe, though, that if you look at the instability in the Middle East, you'll find that in most cases, the United States played a prominent role in causing it.

    For instance, the stuff regarding Afghanistan that I discussed earlier. Surely the Soviet intervention was the big tipping point in it's downfall. But, as the Brzezinski quote shows, the United States attempted to provoke the Soviets into the war, in order to cause the Soviet downfall. Osama Bin Laden knew this, and that's part of what he's talking about in that quote.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    The implication here is that if the US leaves the Middle East, or if it changes its policies, terrorism will stop. That argument is, for starters, factually incorrect; i.e., it can be disproven by empirical evidence. To take one really famous example, ISIS was able to conquer areas in western Iraq so quickly in June 2014 in part because Obama honored Iraqi PM al-Maliki’s request to evacuate US troops in 2011. If the US troops were there, they likely would have prevented ISIS’ rapid expansion into Iraq.
    I know of no seriously analyst who would claim that leaving Iraq would immediately stop terrorism, so, I believe you're arguing against a strawman here. IIRC the United States stopped supporting the Mujahideen in the late 80's. That would give a 10-15 year delay between the actions that would have directly affected Osama Bin Laden and 9/11. In other words, there's often a delay for these sorts of things.

    But, staying mired and continuting to cause suffering, will only draw things out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    It is also incorrect because it fails to take into account that most of the victims of terrorism are not Americans — or even westerners. The vast majority of Islamist terrorist attacks are committed by Muslims against other Muslims in Muslim majority countries. If Salafi-jihadist terrorists are killing other Muslims, their motivations cannot be reduced simply to revenge against Americans because of our foreign policy.
    I'm using 9/11 as a centerpiece for discussion. I'm not saying that 9/11 is the single bad result of terrorism. Many people suffer as a result of destablizing a country, not just the destabilizer. That's the "unintended consequence" of intervention that's easy to predict, just like deadly car accidents are an "unintended consequence" of drunk driving. The drunk driver doesn't just have to wreck their own car for their action to be immoral.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Which gets me back to another point I made earlier (although it is a secondary point): the idea that the anti-war position that I described above is actually condescending, even as it purports to be progressive. Despite American atrocities and American meddling in the Middle East, it’s fundamentally wrong, and even insulting to those who live there, to suggest that those living in the region merely react to outside sources such as the US, which alone have agency.
    In a sense here, you're right. Clearly people have agency and make choices.

    However, this isn't born out of a condescending, ignorant reading of another's culture. I've gotten this impression from reading Dabiq. From reading Osama Bin Laden's statements. From reading al-Qaeda's publications. They literally say these things. It's not insulting to take someone at their word for face value. It's rather insulting to ignore what they're literally saying, all the time, directly, because some right-wing foreign policy journal thinks Muslims have full agency in their own suffering.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    What it completely fails to appreciate is the extent to which authenticity is a key driving force in the Middle East. The pursuit of authenticity shapes the ambitions, actions and goals of many who live in the region. There are economic, social and political conditions that are responsible for why life is so difficult in the Middle East. But, for many, the destitution is accompanied by a profound sense of humiliation, that has as much to do with history and culture as with material welfare. For many, Islam and regional history and culture provide the conceptual frameworks through which they understand and make sense of their hardships, and they also provide the solutions.
    Yes. This is entirely accurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    I think it's difficult for Americans to take seriously the idea that belonging to a once great civilization that now lies in ruin can be a motivating political force, that some are even willing to die for. I think there are several reasons.

    First of all, because we take for granted what being citizens of the world’s super power does for our personal self-confidence and self-image. I expect that even Americans who criticize America and don’t particularly identify with it are nonetheless bolstered by being a citizen of the country. Furthermore, globalization and urban cosmopolitanism in the United States has given many city dwellers an impression that just because local and national bonds don't matter to them, that they no longer matter to anyone in the world anymore. But they do -- in some cases, immensely.

    But, secondly, because our worldview is fundamentally materialist, our vision of the good life has mostly to do with securing economic prosperity, and we generally eschew highly ideological visions of what we should pursue in life (this is sometimes describe as the "American aversion to -isms"). Thus, most analyses of Islamic terrorism in the West assume that the primary motivations for terrorism are socio-economic, and a response to material destitution, rather than ideological or religious ones. My point is that, for many in the Middle East, that destitution is inflected with cultural and religious significance in terms of how it is understood. For example, the view of ISIS is that the material poverty and the political powerlessness is a divine punishment for spiritual and religious decadence, so the solution to the material hardship is to establish a caliphate where a purer and more authentic form of Islam can be practiced. The material and the spiritual concerns go hand and hand.
    Religion is often used as a tool of political control, and with the case of ISIS I think this is so. But you must also recognize that, in some sense Marx was right: the material conditions of a society affect the thoughts people have. History is not driven by thoughts, it's driven by food supplies, water, who people work for and in what conditions. It's not as if ISIS was a thought that was going to plummet onto Earth in 2013 regardless of anything, the philosophies of ISIS are born out of the conditions resulting from the Iraq war.

    That's not to say that there isn't an ideological fight to have, there is. Conservative Islam is one of the last belief systems that is wholly resistant to western, free-market liberal capitalism. Except western, free-market liberal capitalism is, in many ways, a take-no-prisoners ideology. Liberalism is a religion that demands quite a bit from people's lives and culture. And if the Middle East is ever going to settle and liberalize, not likely to happen any time soon, then Islam is going to have to go through an ideological reworking, or western liberalism is going to have to adapt to Islam. So on some level I do agree that the ideas of the west and Islam are in tension, but I still very much don't agree that they're the primary cause of the conflict.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Muslims and others living in the Middle East want to construct their own societies on their own terms, by drawing from their own local historical, cultural and religious resources. But there is widespread disagreement between them over the type of society is the best, what is the most authentic way to conceive of the relation between Islam and the nation-state, and the boundaries that should exist between states given the diverse demographic composition of the region. Just to talk about one particularly high profile example: Al-Qaida may have justified 9/11 with anti-imperialist, anti-US, anti-Israel arguments, and I suspect that they truly hated the US and Israel. But at the same time, the organizations ultimate goal has been to establish a caliphate, just as ISIS has. In fact, one of key disagreements between ISIS and al-Qaida was that al-Qaida believed ISIS was mistaken in trying to create a caliphate too soon, when it could easily just be destroyed by the US, and so damage al-Qaida’s reputation in the eyes of non-militant, non-radicalized Muslims. Al-Qaida wanted to wait until the conditions for a caliphate were more favorable. One feature of that was to try to push the US out of the Middle East, and to halt its support for regimes in the region that made it impossible for al-Qaida to establish its caliphate. Alternatively, ISIS was able to capitalize on the weakening of the autocratic Arab regimes during the Arab Spring.
    I agree that Muslims see western liberalism as a hostile force. In fact, if you want to know how they feel, just track Pew Research polls throughout time. Consider this one from 2005. Their conclusion:

    There remains considerable antipathy toward the U.S. in Arab and Muslim countries. U.S. favorability is relatively low, and anti-Americanism is driven by negative perceptions of, and opposition to, U.S. foreign policies, such as the war in Iraq, the war on terror, U.S. support for Israel, and U.S. unilateralism.
    That says something not far off from what Osama Bin Laden said. They do not like what the U.S. does in their countries and to their people, and they don't like how it acts like a bully out to get what it can take. However, even then terrorism wasn't popular among the population, and polls today shows that the vast majority of Muslims despise ISIS.

    You'll find this is a continuous, easily-observed pattern. Muslims agree with the complaints of terrorists, but (generally) disagree with the violence.

    How, then, do the differences between al-Qaeda and ISIS matter? I feel you are reading too much into the religious doctrine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    The US has interests in the Middle East, and as such a large military power, it also plays a role there, and pretty big one at that. But it’s only one force among many, and the US’ ability to influence the region is weakening, in part, as authoritarian governments, with whom it’s easier for the US to collaborate, strain and are torn apart, and substate actors with transnational ambitions take their place, and as regional superpowers meddle in the affairs of other countries in order to advance their own agendas.
    Sounds about right.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    5. You make a similar argument about Russia as you make about the Middle East. When you said that America acting out of self-interest causes other countries to seek revenge, you were talking about Russia. I’ll quote you again in full this time:

    Again, if I can attribute to you any kind of logical consistency at all, your argument here is that Russia's humiliation during the 90s can be understood as a response to the US' aggressive foreign policy pertaining to Russia, specifically, something having to do with foreign investment.

    Although the Russians’ sense of humiliation was not completely indifferent to the US (big picture, one of the problems was the perception that Russia was not an equal to the US, as the USSR had been -- it was no longer a bipolar world, but a unipolar one), I highly doubt it had much to do with foreign investment. The Russian economy was in a miserable decline through much of 90s, largely because it was reeling as it shifted from a planned economy to a free-market economy. I highly doubt that it was a very appealing opportunity for those who wanted to park there money somewhere. I bet Russia would’ve been happy to take money from private American financiers. Still: cite an example, and show me I’m wrong.
    It wasn't just the shift to the free market, it was how it was shifted. I'm not an expert here but if I remember correctly, big capital (mines, oil) and banks were made private first. Instead of allowing smaller businesses to have more freedoms, while keeping banks and mines public, to ease the transition, they just divied up the large assets and went forward. As such, you basically had a couple big gangster-like people take control of key industries and make massive profit, and conditions were really poor for average people.

    China did a different strategy which worked great for them. But, they didn't have Western powers overseeing the process. I'm really at my limit of knowledge here, though, so there's a possibility I'm wrong. But basically my impression was that, the way westerners wanted to open Russian markets to the world was done in a poor way that was bad for Russia, but good for some oligarchs and western investors. Or, maybe it didn't end up being good for western investors, but that was the intention behind the transition.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    And you mention Putin’s own soreness about that period. But if there’s something related to US foreign policy that Putin is particularly sore about from the 90s and 2000s, it’s the extension of NATO membership to former Soviet-bloc states, including those that border Russia, and the Color Revolutions. Foreign investment in the 90s wasn’t particularly humiliating to Russia, especially not to Putin — if anything, he’s gained personally from it and it’s made him incredibly wealth. In fact, when Putin reached out to Bush during both presidents’ first terms, he was hoping he’d be able to convince Bush to help Russia receive foreign private investment from the US to bolster the Russian economy. But eventually it didn’t matter because global oil prices shot up, and Russia was able to grow its economy thanks to its large oil reserves.
    That's precisely the point. Russia was in a bad state; there was an opportunity to build an ally and a closer relationship. Instead of helping Russia rebuild and stabilize, my impression is that the western countries basically wanted a puppet leader Yeltsin who would do what westerners wanted, and the ability to exploit Russian resources. I believe that maybe, if we had worked with Russia instead of taking advantage of the situation, then Putin's stance wouldn't be so hostile.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    But the big point I’m making is that the Russian sense of humiliation, and it’s aggression, is not simply caused by the US. It has in large part to do with how Russians perceive themselves and the unique destiny of Russia within the global community. Russia imagines itself to be a distinct civilization, *in* both the East and the West, but not really *of* either. In much of the 19th century (and now in the 21st century after Communism), it saw its form of Christianity and its culture as one which provides a powerful alternative to the decadence of the West. The sense of humiliation has more to do with the belief that Russia’s economic conditions and its stature as a player in the global arena and the respect it receives, don’t match its self-image as a dominant, influential society.
    Again, I do agree. Russia has always seen itself as an imperial power, and that historical context works to shape Putin's Russia. I only wonder to what degree you can interpret his actions by this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    That is one of my points. Still, you may claim to agree with me about my conclusion (as you do in that quotation), but your actual arguments about the Middle East indicate that you've understood it through a fundamentally moralistic paradigm, and the same goes for Russia. Going back to the very beginning of this post, I said your arguments are implicitly moral. In what I’ve written about your views on Russia and the Middle East in this post, my underlying contention has been that because you see things through a specific moralistic framework, your interpretations about them is completely skewed and one-sided. You can say you agree with my principle that "thinking in moral term is poor to understand why a country acts", but clearly you don't actually believe it, because the idea isn't reflected in your actual arguments about US foreign policy and international relations.
    To conclude, I think two things: one, that my view isn't as moralistic as you seem to think, and two, that your view is more moral than you seem to think. I do admit that I tend to be strong in moralizing, which might be a fault, but it's how I often want to speak about events. But I disagree that it's how I try to understand them. I hope my post has helped clarify more exactly how I believe the world works.

    As for your comment about my views being completely skewed and one-sided, I fail to see how this is true.

  8. #2088
    Admiral of Awesome
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    Not long enough; read closely

  9. #2089
    ^^vv<><>BASTART
    Posts
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    tl;dr it's not a moral view to say American foreign policy hurts Americans more than it helps, and moreover it's a factually true statement.

  10. #2090
    Okay then, the real question then is why do facts hate America?
    sniff

  11. #2091
    ^^vv<><>BASTART
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    8,792
    Quote Originally Posted by Spook View Post
    Okay then, the real question then is why do facts hate America?
    I'm not entirely sure. Partly because I think propaganda efforts against Americans are very widespread and effective. But it's not hard to find out true statements.

    A good way to find out why American foreign policy is the way it is, is to go back and look at what past presidents were saying and reading. Stuff like this is informative to read:

    Current conditions and political trends in the Near East are inimical to Western interests. In the eyes of the majority of Arabs the United States appears to be opposed to the realization of the goals of Arab nationalism. They believe that the United States is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political or economic progress...
    The argument against seeking an accommodation: Because of the many disparities between our interests and the demands of radical Arab nationalism, the United States cannot afford to accommodate to it...Finally, it is very doubtful whether close political association of the Arab states is, from the standpoint of U.S. interests, desirable. Such association might present a more serious threat to Israel’s integrity and to Western access to Near Eastern oil.
    An assured source of oil is essential to the continued economic viability of Western Europe. Moreover, the U.K. asserts that its financial stability would be seriously threatened if the petroleum from Kuwait and the Persian Gulf area were not available to the U.K. on reasonable terms, if the U.K. were deprived of the large investments made by that area in the U.K. and if sterling were deprived of the support provided by Persian Gulf oil. If Nasser obtains dominant influence over the Persian Gulf oil producing areas, Western access to this oil on acceptable terms might be seriously threatened. The only way to guarantee continued access to Persian Gulf oil on acceptable terms is to insist on maintaining the present concessions and be prepared to defend our present position by force if necessary. Continued access to Persian Gulf oil gives the West a strong bargaining position.
    From another document:

    Our economic and cultural interests in the area have led not unnaturally to close U.S. relations with elements in the Arab world whose primary interest lies in the maintenance of relations with the West and the status quo in their countries--Chamoun of Lebanon, King Saud, Nuri of Iraq, King Hussein. These relations have contributed to a widespread belief in the area that the United States desires to keep the Arab world disunited and is committed to work with "reactionary" elements to that end.
    There are plenty of interesting things to read from the 1950's planning documents, especially if you can get past the rhetorical speak and see what they really mean, which is: "these Arabian people don't like us because they see us as just wanting to exploit their resources. Good relationships are important for us to be able to exploit their resources. Force may be necessary if we want to continue exploiting their resources." With some flourishes about how stumped they are that these people don't see the obvious threat of communism and how much better it is to be controlled by the United States.
    Last edited by Reid; 05-16-2017 at 12:29 AM.

  12. #2092
    I am mildly interested in understanding this debate between Reid and Eversor, but I think I am going to have to settle for the highlights in the after game show, since I only have time to read so many novels.

  13. #2093
    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    I am mildly interested in understanding this debate between Reid and Eversor, but I think I am going to have to settle for the highlights in the after game show, since I only have time to read so many novels.
    BUT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv7fA1gBKPo

  14. #2094
    My entire response to Reid can be summarized like this: driving analogies suck.

    Just kidding. I'll get back to you, Reid, but I'm going to break my response into multiple posts. The barrier of entry into discussion is too high if we have to write these long posts in order to engage.

  15. #2095
    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Whoa, I totally forgot about that album, save the two three classic hits. But I was actually into this song back when I did listen to it. It's got a disarmingly saccharine but odd quality to it that sort of melts you into another dimension.
    Last edited by Reverend Jones; 05-16-2017 at 03:43 AM.

  16. #2096
    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    Whoa, I totally forgot about that album, save the two three classic hits. But I was actually into this song back when I did listen to it. It's got a disarmingly saccharine but odd quality to it that sort of melts you into another dimension.
    So true, although I think most of the songs on that album are pretty strong. Paul Simon is the baby boomers' gift to humanity.

  17. #2097
    Just, in general, there's quite a bit of drift in your responses. That is, instead of backing and defending your positions, you're really just altering your positions. That's fine, I'm not going to go back and make a big thing about how you've changed your positions, because that'd be really tedious for both of us and the payoff is limited. But I'm still going to note it and move on, and note when it is actually relevant. (I'm doing it too.)

    First, the part of this debate that is the most tedious and the least relevant to the key differences between us in this debate: the Obama red line.

    About it, you say this:

    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    The article discusses plainly how Obama tried to minimize what he said.
    It is true that the Washington Post article does use the word “minimize” to refer to some of Obama’s remarks about the red line after his initial improvised statement in 2012. But it specifies specially that “he tried to minimize it as “not a surprise.”

    That clarification is not altogether insignificant, because your contention is that he "backed off" from the redline statement:

    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    ? I'm not sure if we're reading the same thing. It does clearly talk about how Obama backed off from the statement.
    And I, of course, disagree: I’m saying he didn’t back off from it — at least in a sense. We do disagree here about how to interpret the remarks of his that you cite. But in my opinion, there’s little indication from that text that he’s backing away from the red line itself. That is, he’s not backing off from the policy implied by the red line, which is the position that, if Assad uses chemical weapons, the US should use military force to deter their proliferation and use. His point in saying that it’s not “his red line” but “the world’s red line” is that to call the use of chemical weapons a red line wasn’t some arbitrary decision that he made. Rather, it’s an international norm shared by the overwhelming majority of countries in the international community. And, the point in doing that, isn’t to deny the need for action, but, to argue that it is not the responsibility of the US alone to act unilaterally, but for the world to mobilize together, alongside the US, to stop the use of chemical weapons. So, after the section of the speech you cite, he said:

    And what we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. *We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened. *And when I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I've got to make sure I've got the facts. *That's what the American people would expect.
    *
    And if we end up rushing to judgment without hard, effective evidence, then we can find ourselves in a position where we can't mobilize the international community to support what we do. *There may be objections even among some people in the region who are sympathetic with the opposition if we take action. *So it’s important for us to do this in a prudent way.
    https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov...ence-president

    If you check out this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6ePJXR216c) from September 2013 (it occurred after the speech you cited), it’s clear holding the Republican-majority to its own “red line” (that is, to its previously stated, legally-binding commitments to take action to deter chemical weapons), and not merely to Obama’s, was a tactic he used in an effort to convince congress to vote to intervene.

    No doubt, the passage I cite does express some degree of hesitance, so I’ll agree that he backed off from the red line in another sense. That is, I think it’s pretty clear he really didn’t want to enforce his red line. But that’s precisely why so many people see it as his single greatest foreign policy blunder: because he didn’t stand by his word (and, of course, that he didn't stand by his word and that it was an issue was my initial contention). According to many, that failure was very consequential. Many liberals and conservatives agree (again, including some in the Obama administration) that it damaged the credibility of the US’ deterrent in Syria, and made it more difficult for the US to manage the situation, create stability and reduce the bloodshed. (And, also, that it had implications in US-Russian relations, but we don't need to re-litigate that. Let's move on.)

    Ok, now your other point about Russia and Syria:

    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    From what I've found, this is the opinion of someone at the Hudson institute. Judging from their Wikipedia, they're a center-right thinktank that's largely supportive of American military intervention. They don't come across as particularly unbiased in this. Though, I find their quote still confusing, unless if they're insinuating that Putin is grabbing power that he didn't have before in Syria? And by Pax Putinica, are they suggesting that Putin is at a peak of controlling land and influence? I'm really just not getting what they are saying, Putin's lost a bunch of control of the Middle East. For instance: Putin and Gaddafi were close. Putin was upset when Gaddafi was [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iw5Ij_RFJ1Q]taken down[/i]. Hillary Clinton indirectly claimed responsibility for doing it.

    So, I just don't get what the Hudson institute is saying, if they're even attempting to say anything factual. If I can tempt a guess, and this is surely unheard of in American politics (sarcasm): they're just talking bull**** in a way that tries to justify hostile military action. Putin's been losing influence over the Middle East at American hands, he's not gaining it, and at worst he's violently keeping influence over the Syrian country that he had influence over before anyway.
    This amounts mostly to one big ad hominem attack. You’re pretty explicit about it; the argument goes something like: this guy’s a conservative, and conservatives lie to justify war atrocities, therefore, this guy’s lying too. But let’s leave that aside -- not hugely important.

    In response to the first question you pose in the first paragraph here, my answer is basically “yes”. Remember, your initial claim was that by enforcing the red line in 2013, the US would risk going “toe to toe” with a nuclear power, namely, Russia. My point is just that that’s wrong. Although Russia has been a longstanding ally of Syria and has military assets there, Russia’s presence in the country was much more limited, and it wasn’t actually backing the Assad regime using military force, before 2015. The result was that Russia’s nuclear deterrent played a much, much smaller role in limiting the scope of what the US could do in 2013 than it did later on.

    Although it’s self-affirming to see you doubling down on your “Putin’s apparent aggression is really defense” tack, the point about Putin losing influence in the Middle East is also pretty off point. For example, before Russia entered the war, Israel enjoyed air supremacy over pretty much the entire region. That changed over night, when Russia started fighting. And it’s really limited Israel’s capacity to reduce Iran’s support for Hezbollah, which is quite problematic. Although it doesn’t admit it publicly in Israeli media, the IDF is really worried about Hezbollah’s growing military capacity, and it knows that the Israeli casualties in Israel’s next war with Hezbollah will be high. (It’s a real problem for Israel, and if you want to talk about scenarios that could feasibly spark World War III, however unlikely it is — the possibility that Russia could use airpower to stop Israel from preventing Iran from smuggling weapons into Lebanon through Syria could blow up into a huge issue, if the US gets involved. See this.) So Russia’s entrance into the war and its alignment with Iran has been consequential and has shifted the balance of power in the region significantly. And Russia has continued to expand its influence there, by going into Afghanistan, for example.
    Last edited by Eversor; 05-16-2017 at 06:13 AM.

  18. #2098
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon`C View Post
    The US's invincibility is propaganda, but more knowledgeable people than you have made this mistake, so you shouldn't feel too bad about it.

    I've read stuff from wargames nerds, who concluded that it would take the combined military of the entire rest of the planet to successfully invade and hold the United States. That, of course, assumes that you're interested in holding the United States, versus just crippling it, and that the people who lived there had unlimited endurance for warfare. You don't need a full-scale invasion in order to effectively defeat an enemy.

    Here's a great talk from DEFCON about how a very small number of skilled people can topple a government.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_pYBkW7qgI
    Going back to page 18 for a minute... I had downloaded this talk to my phone, and on a whim watched the first half of it last night while I drifted off to sleep.

    This is probably normal, but I got some really bad vibes from the speaker. I am guessing that a lot of grey hat types have similar attitudes about the morality of the stunts they pull.
    Last edited by Reverend Jones; 05-16-2017 at 01:29 PM.

  19. #2099
    Amusingly, looking back at page 18 for a minute, I notice that the ongoing Russia-U.S. debate in this thread goes at least as far back as that page.

  20. #2100
    ^^vv<><>BASTART
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    8,792
    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Just, in general, there's quite a bit of drift in your responses. That is, instead of backing and defending your positions, you're really just altering your positions. That's fine, I'm not going to go back and make a big thing about how you've changed your positions, because that'd be really tedious for both of us and the payoff is limited. But I'm still going to note it and move on, and note when it is actually relevant. (I'm doing it too.)

    First, the part of this debate that is the most tedious and the least relevant to the key differences between us in this debate: the Obama red line.

    About it, you say this:

    It is true that the Washington Post article does use the word “minimize” to refer to some of Obama’s remarks about the red line after his initial improvised statement in 2012. But it specifies specially that “he tried to minimize it as “not a surprise.”

    That clarification is not altogether insignificant, because your contention is that he "backed off" from the redline statement:

    And I, of course, disagree: I’m saying he didn’t back off from it — at least in a sense. We do disagree here about how to interpret the remarks of his that you cite. But in my opinion, there’s little indication from that text that he’s backing away from the red line itself. That is, he’s not backing off from the policy implied by the red line, which is the position that, if Assad uses chemical weapons, the US should use military force to deter their proliferation and use. His point in saying that it’s not “his red line” but “the world’s red line” is that to call the use of chemical weapons a red line wasn’t some arbitrary decision that he made. Rather, it’s an international norm shared by the overwhelming majority of countries in the international community. And, the point in doing that, isn’t to deny the need for action, but, to argue that it is not the responsibility of the US alone to act unilaterally, but for the world to mobilize together, alongside the US, to stop the use of chemical weapons. So, after the section of the speech you cite, he said:
    I do take that to mean, the U.S. will not act unilaterally in response to a chemical attack. Rather, they will work internationally with the UN in the case of a chemical attack. Which is a softer position than he originally took, which would imply he was not advocating for a hardline position. Though I do get your point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/04/30/news-conference-president

    If you check out this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6ePJXR216c) from September 2013 (it occurred after the speech you cited), it’s clear holding the Republican-majority to its own “red line” (that is, to its previously stated, legally-binding commitments to take action to deter chemical weapons), and not merely to Obama’s, was a tactic he used in an effort to convince congress to vote to intervene.

    No doubt, the passage I cite does express some degree of hesitance, so I’ll agree that he backed off from the red line in another sense. That is, I think it’s pretty clear he really didn’t want to enforce his red line. But that’s precisely why so many people see it as his single greatest foreign policy blunder: because he didn’t stand by his word (and, of course, that he didn't stand by his word and that it was an issue was my initial contention). According to many, that failure was very consequential. Many liberals and conservatives agree (again, including some in the Obama administration) that it damaged the credibility of the US’ deterrent in Syria, and made it more difficult for the US to manage the situation, create stability and reduce the bloodshed. (And, also, that it had implications in US-Russian relations, but we don't need to re-litigate that. Let's move on.)
    Okay, I do agree with you about the consequences of his position. I think, though, that, while many people do claim it undermines "U.S. credibility", I think that's a vastly overreaching, silly statement to make about how the U.S. is perceived. Everyone, Russia, the Middle East, the world, are terrified of what the United States is capable of militarily. As to whether it emboldened Russia, I think not, because Russia's current big-picture strategy is a defensive one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    In response to the first question you pose in the first paragraph here, my answer is basically “yes”. Remember, your initial claim was that by enforcing the red line in 2013, the US would risk going “toe to toe” with a nuclear power, namely, Russia. My point is just that that’s wrong. Although Russia has been a longstanding ally of Syria and has military assets there, Russia’s presence in the country was much more limited, and it wasn’t actually backing the Assad regime using military force, before 2015. The result was that Russia’s nuclear deterrent played a much, much smaller role in limiting the scope of what the US could do in 2013 than it did later on.
    U.S. actions perpetually aggravate Russia, it's not just Syria. Consider Libya again. Gaddafi was a Russian ally. If you run military operations that kill the leaders of countries who are allied to Russia, you're risking this conflict. It's pretty clear from history that the United States is not afraid of escalating conflicts with nuclear powers, and that should terrify us.

    If anything, Libya showed the world that Russia is a weak country that can't do much to protect its dictator allies, whereas the U.S. can. Part of Putin's goal isn't just to protect Syria, it's to comfort his other allies that Putin will actually do something to defend them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Although it’s self-affirming to see you doubling down on your “Putin’s apparent aggression is really defense” tack, the point about Putin losing influence in the Middle East is also pretty off point. For example, before Russia entered the war, Israel enjoyed air supremacy over pretty much the entire region. That changed over night, when Russia started fighting. And it’s really limited Israel’s capacity to reduce Iran’s support for Hezbollah, which is quite problematic.
    I agree that this specific action was an aggressive one, but not every aggressive action is part of an aggressive strategy. If you haven't, I'd encourage you to read the cold war anti-communist planning documents that I posted just a bit ago, they help explain quite a bit. The United States seeks unilateral control over the Middle East. The U.S. has, for over 50 years, basically had the same strategy: they will do what they can to maintain peaceful Muslim allies, but will use military force when required to maintain control. Their biggest boogieman threat is the Soviets, whom they basically admit appeal to these people more because the Soviets were less interested in simply robbing them of all of their resources.

    In the case of Libya, they were taking down a bad guy. Everybody can agree that he ought to have been taken down. The problem isn't that in itself. When you put the blinders on, and look only at Libya, it looks like a perfectly defensible action. Which is how I take you to be looking at Syria, and much of the Middle East generally: yes, with blinders on, without context of history and without fair comparison, it's easy to criticize Putin for his military aggression in Syria. But it's far from Russia acting aggressive out of a vacuum. How is that? Read Stewart Patrick from the Council on Foreign Relations:

    There is bound to be selectivity and inconsistency in the application of the responsibility to protect norm given the complexity of national interests at stake in...the calculations of other major powers involved in these situations.
    What's he really saying here? He's saying the application of human rights laws are done selectively, based on national interest. What else was going on during the time of Libya's overthrow? The same council notes that there were similar crises going on in Yemen and Côte d'Ivoire, but those were ignored. Maybe, because in those cases, western powers preferred the current power structures?

    When it comes to Syria, don't forget that we're still supplying arms to the Saudis in their brutal war against Yemen, which has been committing war crimes. Sure, there isn't chemical weapons, but be honest: how informed are you about this war? Did you even know that there are other, brutal, U.S.-backed regimes in the Middle East?

    So yes, what you seem to be repeating about the Middle East is: the United States should be allowed to unilaterally support dictators, commit war crimes, and even assist dictators in gassing civilians. But if Russia takes mildly aggressive military action to defend their long ally, then they're a ****ing piece of ****, self-interested ******** power-grabbing ******* country.

    Again, I'm not saying this makes Russian action morally right or desirable, but come on, are you seriously saying what Russians do is overall worse for the Middle East?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eversor View Post
    Although it doesn’t admit it publicly in Israeli media, the IDF is really worried about Hezbollah’s growing military capacity, and it knows that the Israeli casualties in Israel’s next war with Hezbollah will be high. (It’s a real problem for Israel, and if you want to talk about scenarios that could feasibly spark World War III, however unlikely it is — the possibility that Russia could use airpower to stop Israel from preventing Iran from smuggling weapons into Lebanon through Syria could blow up into a huge issue, if the US gets involved. See this.) So Russia’s entrance into the war and its alignment with Iran has been consequential and has shifted the balance of power in the region significantly. And Russia has continued to expand its influence there, by going into Afghanistan, for example.
    Israel is a sensitive subject and I don't want to comment too heavily, but it's fairly clear that Israel is the centerpiece of U.S. military aggression in the region. Has the actions of Russia been consequential, then? Yes, they've put a jam in U.S. unilateralism. Is that bad for Israel? Probably yes. Is it understandable and morally equivalent to the U.S.'s actions? Also yes.

  21. #2101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    When it comes to Syria, don't forget that we're still supplying arms to the Saudis in their brutal war against Yemen, which has been committing war crimes. Sure, there isn't chemical weapons, but be honest: how informed are you about this war? Did you even know that there are other, brutal, U.S.-backed regimes in the Middle East?
    And this particularly is how U.S. media can be propagandistic. As long as the aggression in the Middle East is done by Putin, they will harp on it, and make it into an enormous story about "Pax Putinica" and wax endlessly about how terrible Russia is, but Saudi war crimes that are thoroughly backed by U.S. arms shipments hardly get covered at all. It's much easier to yell and scream when your enemy commits an atrocity than when your close ally does.

  22. #2102
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    I forgot to mention: it's pretty clear that the motive for the United States and NATO focusing on Gaddafi, which foreign policy experts admit the policies by which they took down Gaddafi are applied selectively and with regard to national interest, was a power grab by western powers who want to weaken Russia's influence over the Middle East (or Africa if you're going to be picky). So, are we justified in doing that? Is Putin justified in being upset about that? Is Putin's actions in defending Syria worse than that?

    Don't forget, that this aggressive action by the U.S. and NATO led eventually to the proliferation of ISIS and powerful warlords in Libya, because of unintended consequences/blowback/whatever you call it. Drunk driving!
    Last edited by Reid; 05-16-2017 at 03:38 PM.

  23. #2103
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    The point I'm really getting at here is, if you actually care about human rights, then you must act to defend human rights in all situations, regardless of the actor, even when it's not favorable to you. If you only ever start caring about human rights when it's the enemy doing it, then you're just using it, cynically so, as a vehicle to grab power.

  24. #2104
    if you actually care about human rights, then you must act to defend human rights in all situations,
    Does anybody actually do this?

  25. #2105
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    No. No nation seems to. That doesn't make it right.

  26. #2106
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    What I'd prefer then is for the United States to drop the pretense. Just admit they want to own the Middle East. At the very least they would no longer be hypocrites.

    Even then I think the United States is irrationally belligerent, and often gains very little (see again: Libya) and this often comes back to harm us. You don't even have to give a **** about other people to hate these policies, even self-interest leads to it.

  27. #2107
    Quote Originally Posted by Reid View Post
    No. No nation seems to. That doesn't make it right.
    Fair point.

  28. #2108
    At the very least it would be a good idea for people to study history before naively accepting narratives dished out by the war department about some new costly and tragic misadventure overseas. This is pretty hard to do so long as people are gripped by fear and have neither the attention span nor the inclination to respect, let alone hear out a balancing viewpoint, amid a sea of pro-intervention propaganda.

  29. #2109
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    Like, before 9/11, the Taliban offered multiple times to give up Osama Bin Laden, the only thing was, they wanted to do it as an official extradition, where the U.S. would provide evidence and he would be held to a fair trial. The U.S. flatly rejected all offers. They demanded the Taliban just hand him over, no questions asked.

    This is irrational belligerence. There was no good reason to refuse this offer, and many obviously now consider it a huge blunder. But that's U.S. unilateralism, that's how we treat everything. We expect these countries to capitulate to demands on our whim. And it's strongly contributed to a bad era in American history.

  30. #2110
    I don't know very much about Russian-Libyan relations. But this was useful:

    Gadhafi, perceiving a growing American offensive in the Middle East, approached the Soviet Union in 1976. Libya was already one of the Kremlin’s best customers in heavy industry purchases, and Gadhafi signed contracts to bring about a thousand Soviet engineers and military instructors to Libya in order to build new and more modern missile bases. That was the beginning of a close and long-lasting friendship: Over the next decade or so, more than 11,000 Russian soldiers appeared on Libyan soil and, according to some sources, participated side by side with Gadhafi’s army in various conflicts. Many Libyan officials, in turn, were sent to the Soviet Union for specialized courses (a similar system to what was implemented in the pro-Soviet Afghanistan during the 1970s).

    Gadhafi’s visits to Moscow dropped off in 1985 (during an era when the country was becoming more reclusive generally, in part related to new Western sanctions), and it wasn’t until 23 years later—in 2008—that he returned. What explained the new outreach? In short, Russia’s Vladimir Putin—then newly the prime minister for the second time—was willing to cancel $4.5 billion in debts that Libya accrued during Soviet times in exchange for favorable Russia-Libya trade agreements. The deals were estimated to be worth $5 to $10 billion and would include weapons sales and a contract for the construction of a rail link between Sirte and Benghazi by Russian Railways. The railway contract alone was worth almost $2.2 billion. Russia was also in search of strategic bases on the Mediterranean, and Gadhafi granted Moscow access to the port of Benghazi for its fleet. Gadhafi never got along well with Washington, and he saw having a Russian settlement on his territory as a good deterrent against American meddling.
    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order...in-friendship/

  31. #2111
    Do you think that is because power structures select for personality types that are prone to doing stupid **** and insisting that they have a magical mandate to do that ****?

    Edit: (Referencing Reid's last post) Because based on my experience in the US military and even dealing with local level politicians, these are the personalities who are incentivized to succeed in these realms, and indeed, the world at large. And it's pretty awful and will certainly be our downfall as an industrialized civilization.
    sniff

  32. #2112

  33. #2113
    Quote Originally Posted by Spook View Post
    Do you think that is because power structures select for personality types that are prone to doing stupid **** and insisting that they have a magical mandate to do that ****?
    I was actually contemplating writing something along these lines, but I wasn't sure if Reid wanted to shift the discussion from a broad moral one to a narrow institutional one. Both discussions are worth having within their own scope, but they may not overlap too much.

    Taking another example of a federal agency, almost everybody I've heard who has had to interact with the immigration service has only had atrocious things to say about the conduct of the people who work there. I imagine that toxic cultures get institutionalize so long as sloppy rationales for things that seem to work but for bad reasons are buoyed by the size of the organization.

  34. #2114
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spook View Post
    Do you think that is because power structures select for personality types that are prone to doing stupid **** and insisting that they have a magical mandate to do that ****?

    Edit: (Referencing Reid's last post) Because based on my experience in the US military and even dealing with local level politicians, these are the personalities who are incentivized to succeed in these realms, and indeed, the world at large. And it's pretty awful and will certainly be our downfall as an industrialized civilization.
    You just asked the most complicated question that has ever been asked on this forum.

  35. #2115

  36. #2116
    When this is all over and Trump is out of office, Republicans will have to ask themselves why they were either too dumb to recognize his incompetence, or much worse, that they were okay with it.

  37. #2117
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reverend Jones View Post
    When this is all over and Trump is out of office, Republicans will have to ask themselves why they were either too dumb to recognize his incompetence, or much worse, that they were okay with it.
    nope


  38. #2118
    It's... surprisingly liberating to contemplate that some people will never be reached.

    I think I am done with contemplating the minds and morals of the madmen running this country.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  39. #2119
    "Yes, doctor, I think we'd better go ahead and amputate."

    Next up: the search for {property with well water} ∩ {areas with a reliable ISP} ∩ {lands governed by a democracy with a public health option}
    Last edited by Reverend Jones; 05-16-2017 at 08:02 PM.

  40. #2120

    "Has it won yet?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spook View Post
    Do you think that is because power structures select for personality types that are prone to doing stupid **** and insisting that they have a magical mandate to do that ****?

    Edit: (Referencing Reid's last post) Because based on my experience in the US military and even dealing with local level politicians, these are the personalities who are incentivized to succeed in these realms, and indeed, the world at large. And it's pretty awful and will certainly be our downfall as an industrialized civilization.
    Speaking out my ass and not trying to sound profound

    I think power structures (naturally?) favor those who not only have that sort of personality type but people who specially appropriate it in a way, deliberately or accidentally, to nullify pressures that would otherwise keep that sort of behavior in check. I mean, if everyone wants power and everyone does stupid ****, it doesn't work. But in a room full of Jeb Bush's in a primary, Trump stands out and people gravitate towards him.

    Kinda like how nature abhors a vacuum, power structures seem to reward risky, reckless personalities that are retooled to expand the greatest in some manner; this seems to be how a "clairvoyant" gets born.
    Last edited by ECHOMAN; 05-16-2017 at 09:36 PM.
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