The FP 100 is Out

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Foreign Policy just released its roster of the Top 100 Global Thinkers (and Doers):

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates * Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Robert Zoellick * Barack Obama * Zhou Xiaochuan * Ben Bernanke * Celso Amorim * Ahmet Davutoglu * David Petraeus * Robert Gates * Angela Merkel * Michael Bloomberg and Feisal Abdul Rauf * Nouriel Roubini * Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton * Steven Chu * George Soros * Liu Xiaobo * Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs * Shivshankar Menon * Ron Paul * Mohamed Elbaradei * Sergey Brin and Larry Page * Christine Lagarde * Salam Fayyad * Elizabeth Warren * Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, William Perry, and George Shultz * Paul Krugman and Raghuram Rajan * Fareed Zakaria * Shai Agassi * Paul Collier * Joseph Stiglitz * David Cameron * C

Comments

224 comments on “The FP 100 is Out

  1. replice cell phone says:

    nadine,
    not transferring the paperwork? Umm, sorry, no. Not crediting payments when they’re made? Umm, sorry, no.
    Bad corporate practices stem from two major sources, one, profound corruption and a craving for profit beyond reason, and two, the competitive fear that everyone else is doing it, or will do it if you don’t and you’ll lose market share.
    These are structures in human psyches, not in governmental regulations.
    Please note by the way that there’s actually no news in my thinking about incentives. But I’ll let the line go, since you do have that snarky snide side to you……
    Happy Chanukah, by the way.

    Reply

  2. nadine says:

    I said “fundamental origin”, questions. Not “visible symptoms”. The REIT/REMIC boom was generated in a market that had been fundamentally transformed by government interference, yet was still measured on no-longer-relevant indicators of past performance. That kind of transformation (which also occurs more naturally as the result of technological innovation) provides the setup for a boom/bust cycle, which is what we are seeing the remains of now.

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  3. questions says:

    nadine,
    not transferring the paperwork? Umm, sorry, no. Not crediting payments when they’re made? Umm, sorry, no.
    Bad corporate practices stem from two major sources, one, profound corruption and a craving for profit beyond reason, and two, the competitive fear that everyone else is doing it, or will do it if you don’t and you’ll lose market share.
    These are structures in human psyches, not in governmental regulations.
    Please note by the way that there’s actually no news in my thinking about incentives. But I’ll let the line go, since you do have that snarky snide side to you……
    Happy Chanukah, by the way.

    Reply

  4. nadine says:

    “They are LARGE, lacking in local knowledge, full of bad incentives, and they do seem to have the ability to ignore payments, charge fees, force refis, and foreclose.” (questions)
    Ah, happy day, when questions notices the problem of bad incentives and the bad results that ensue from them. Now, if only questions could notice how many of those bad incentives have their fundamental origin in some well-meaning government policy or tax law…

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  5. questions says:

    Via bobswern, the Bloomberg story on the lack of conveyance of the mortgage documents underlying MBSs — which apparently means that there was no, umm, SECURITY in the MBSs, and so they are not backed and not securities, and one wonders if they are even mortgages…..
    Ahh, fraud.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-30/bofa-mortgage-morass-deepens-after-employee-says-trustee-didn-t-get-notes.html
    Salon’s WarRoom has a NAF-written piece on size. Fear of BIG GOV on the right, fear of BIG BUSINESS on the left, and how BIG IS GOOD, and it’s not really small businesses we need, medium and large ones.
    If the right identifies the problem of gov as being too big, distant, and powerful, lacking in local knowledge but quite capable of compelling behavior, what does one make of BoA and the like. They are LARGE, lacking in local knowledge, full of bad incentives, and they do seem to have the ability to ignore payments, charge fees, force refis, and foreclose.
    There’s nothing lean, local, or logical in the banking industry, at least regarding the foreclosure and securitization rackets.
    We need decent sized pools of capital, no doubt, we need local knowledge, no doubt, but we also need better incentives, more watchdogging, and a lot fewer billionaires emerging from the system.
    Not sure how to get there given the NYT front page story about toddlers who get professional sports training. Escalation dominance is built in to the human psyche. Basically, we’re dumbfucks and we are abusing our kids, driving larger and larger vehicles (the parodic Hummer that wasn’t a parody is the logical conclusion for the excalation dominance game. A vehicle that barely functions as one, but works as a signaling device in a game of escalation dominance. The winner is the loser. The drop out who sticks with a Prius or lives on transit and rents the occasional zipcar is the winner.)
    In the same way, BIG BANKING really stops being banking. It provides no banking services, what it provides at all is fake. But it is BIG.
    Probably size is less of an issue, and intelligence and flexibility and relatively good instincts would help instead.

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  6. questions says:

    Well, bobswern is not super high on BoA’s chances of survival over the next 18 hours…..
    Who knows.
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/12/1/924467/-Hell-To-Pay:-Bank-of-Americas-Double-Trouble
    But the Tea Party people might make sure there are not more bailouts, unless they can’t.
    Or maybe this is premature. Or maybe BoA isn’t the Assange target after all. And maybe they aren’t in trouble from all of those put backs. But when you have hedge funds and lawyers going up against old banks and lawyers, I put my “money” on the hedge funds as far more lean, nasty, and possibly even legally protected. Interesting times, at any rate…..
    Anyone else keeping up with this stuff?

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  7. Don Bacon says:

    Well, I for one am greatly relieved to hear from WigWag that Steve Clemons has some redeeming qualities. I did think that WigWag was actually attacking Steve Clemons for recognizing Israel for the cruel regime that it really is, but it turned out to be nothing. Whew. WigWag now accepts his judgment. That’s nice.

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  8. DonS says:

    piece of shit

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  9. WigWag says:

    “Wigwag, how much use is that, when Steve Clemons provides a platform, megaphone, and fulsome praise for those friends, as he has done here at TWN?” (Nadine)
    Yes, but I think Steve is pretty ecumenical in selecting the people to whom he provides a platform and megaphone. For example he’s provided both a forum and fulsome praise for David Frum and no one could describe Frum as anything but neoconservative, passionately pro-Israel and decidedly on the right of the political spectrum. Steve has also written a few posts that were quite complimentary to Irving Kristol.
    While in my opinion Steve Walt, Andrew Sullivan and Chas Freeman are not just imbecilic analysts but also bad people, from what I can tell, Steve Clemons is quite eclectic in selecting his friends. He and Frum are obviously very affectionate with each other. During the Presidential campaign, Steve’s dear friend, Will Bower, was the founder of the PUMA movement, a movement Steve clearly disagreed with. I read today in Ron Kampeas’ blog that Steve was recently seen partying with Josh Block, the former spokesperson for AIPAC. As the blog post said, Clemons and Block agree on bupkiss.
    http://blogs.jta.org/politics/
    Steve has also spoken highly of various members of John McCain’s foreign policy staff with whom he has serious disagreements. I may be remembering this incorrectly but I also believe that he has spoken fondly of Rick Davis, John McCain’s Campaign Manager and now an uber-lobbyist. Obviously Clemons and Davis don’t see eye to eye on much.
    I think it

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  10. Don Bacon says:

    King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, WigWag’s new hero because of his cut off the head of the snake remark, has been a big hit in New Yawk. A real man of the people, this guy.
    news report:
    King Abdullah takes over entire New York hospital wing — King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has prompted disquiet in a New York hospital by commandeering an entire wing as he recovers from back surgery.
    The 86-year-old travelled to the US with his entourage for the surgery, which was carried out at the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weil Cornell Medical Centre.
    He was reported to have arrived in a convoy of three chartered jets, before being met by a motorcade of 40 vehicles, an estimated half of which were for transporting his luggage.
    Fellow patients have now reported that he has block-booked a large section of the hospital’s VIP floor, meaning they have been unable to stay in rooms that he is not even using.
    “Patients are grumbling,” a relative was reported to have told The New York Post.
    “The king has taken the entire luxury treatment wing to protect his privacy.” //(end report)
    And we should care about the opinions of this fat-ass potentate?

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  11. Don Bacon says:

    Survey conducted June 29-July 20, 2010
    in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and UAE by Brooking Institute
    A majority of the Arab public now see a nuclear-armed Iran as being better for the Middle East
    61% are most disappointed by the Obama Administration on I/P
    47% are very unfavorable to the US
    54% believe an agreement on I/P would improve views of US
    49% believe protecting Israel is the most important factor deiving US policy in the ME
    51% have an unfavorable view of Obama
    56% Prepared for peace if Israel is willing to return all 1967 territories including East Jerusalem,
    78% Iran has the right to its nuclear program
    57% believe Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon would be a more positive outcome for the ME

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  12. nadine says:

    “My point is that some of the prominent realists are clearly obsessed with Jews and Jewish power but Steve Clemons is not one of them. Many people he describes as his friends are; I think the worst thing we can say about an otherwise very fine fellow is that he picks his friends rather poorly.” (Wigwag)
    Wigwag, how much use is that, when Steve Clemons provides a platform, megaphone, and fulsome praise for those friends, as he has done here at TWN?
    Meanwhile, Steve confines himself to obsessing over the power of the Israeli government: “Israeli Prime Ministers Love Sport of Controlling US Presidents” was but the latest in the series of such posts.

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  13. Don Bacon says:

    “Israel’s nuclear program more worrying than Iran”
    from Ha’aretz:
    Aug 15 10
    Arab nations urge U.S. to end support of Israel’s nuclear secrecy — Ignoring U.S. warning, Arab League pushes for international inspections of Israel’s nuclear program.
    May 17 09
    Arab League: Israel’s nuclear program more worrying than Iran — Arab states have vowed to quit NPT if Israel ever officially admits it has nuclear weapons.
    Mar 5 08
    Arab countries will walk away from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty if Israel ever officially acknowledges it has nuclear weapons, the Arab League announced in a statement Wednesday. As Arab foreign ministers met at the Cairo headquarters of the Arab League to prepare for their annual summit at the end of the month, they also issued a series of statements on regional issues, including extremely sensitive matter of Israel’s refusal to join the NPT. If this did not happen, Arab countries would leave the treaty and not sign any new one until Israel itself joined.

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  14. Don Bacon says:

    The UN General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.
    At recent UN General Assembly meetings Middle East representatives have made it clear that they are concerned with Israel’s nuclear arsenal and with settlement of the Palestine issue.
    7 October 2010
    MOHAMMAD ALMUTAIRI ( Kuwait)
    He said his country looked forward to seeing the Middle East become a region free of nuclear weapons.
    JAMAL ALROWAIEI ( Bahrain)
    He called on Israel to subject its nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection. The creation of such a zone would also reinforce peace and security globally.
    He said that the international community should accord high priority to the nuclear security and safety in the application of IAEA safeguards, which would ensure that the issue of peaceful nuclear programmes was problem free. He welcomed Iran

    Reply

  15. DonS says:

    “As you point out, it has long been the neocons who pointed out the true wishes of the Sunni Arab leaders, while the “realists” dismissed these concerns while obsessing over the power of American Jews.” (Wig Wag)
    But no, Wig Wag would never even vaguely imply Steve Clemons is anti Semitic. She wants to be “fair” she says. Wig Wag’s syntax has the edge of every Jewish moma who sought to guilt trip some out of line child, husband or community member. Oy!
    “What is it about the realists that inspires their intense animosity towards the government of the world

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  16. Don Bacon says:

    September 03, 2010 — LA Times
    Arab countries are stepping up efforts to pry open Israel’s nuclear program, according to letters by diplomats accompanying a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
    The documents obtained by The Times reveal a behind-the-scenes battle between the West and developing countries over whether to place the Israeli nuclear program under international controls, as demanded by an Arab-sponsored resolution adopted by the IAEA’s 151 member states last year.
    Mohammed ElBaradei, former IAEA chief
    “I wake up every morning and see 100 Iraqi innocent civilians are dying. I have no brief other than to make sure we don’t go into another war or that we go crazy into killing each other. You do not want to give [an] additional argument to the new crazies who say ‘let’s go and bomb Iran.’ Asked who the ‘new crazies’ were, the IAEA chief refused to be drawn, simply saying: ‘Those who have extreme views and say the only solution is to impose your will by force.’”

    Reply

  17. WigWag says:

    “As you point out, it has long been the neocons who pointed out the true wishes of the Sunni Arab leaders, while the “realists” dismissed these concerns while obsessing over the power of American Jews.” (Nadine)
    Thank you for your kind words about my response to Steve, Nadine. I do want to be fair though. You are right that some realists obsess about the power of the Jews; before his preoccupation with Jewish power became evident, Steve Walt was an academic of little importance or fame toiling away at the Belfer Center (the Belfers were one of the founding families of Enron). It was Walt’s bigotry that made him famous. Chas Freeman was an expert on China and Saudi Arabia. After his stint as Saudi Ambassador, Freeman went to work for the Middle East Policy Council, a think tank funded mostly by the same Saudi Royal Family that spent much of the past two years secretly begging the President to invade Iran. Like the Saudis themselves, the statements of their minion, Chas Freeman, make it plain that he doesn

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    Wigwag, Brava! great response, and very well written.
    I notice that Steve not only misstates your arguments, he is also doing some quiet revisionism to his own:
    “I have always known that there were many leaders in the Arab world that favored hotter action against Iran – but they simultaneously called for quicker action on a credible two state track with Palestine and Israel, otherwise they would be at odds with their own street. I believe I have constructed this argument on many occasions. ”
    Whatever Steve may have known about Arab leaders who favored hotter action on Iran, he never mentioned them in his writings. Steve’s written arguments always subordinated any attack on Iran to a successful conclusion of I/P negotiations – which, in practical terms, meant the attack should be permanently tabled.
    As you point out, it has long been the neocons who pointed out the true wishes of the Sunni Arab leaders, while the “realists” dismissed these concerns while obsessing over the power of American Jews.
    Now that the Wikileaks release has undermined the “realist” arguments, we are seeing a retreat to the position that everybody knew that some Sunni leaders favored hotter actions against Iran.
    The “realists” are abandoning a line of argument which has now become untenable, by retroactively adopting a neocon position as if it had always been their own.
    I think this is what it looks like when the front line shifts in major public policy battles.
    On that note, I think you’ll like this Youtube cartoon on US Mideast diplomacy:
    I Will Make A Lot Of Peace In The Middle East
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhNOWVuSXGE&feature=player_embedded

    Reply

  19. questions says:

    Oh, and according to the piece linked to above, some number of refis come precisely from this situation — pulling out money to pay back the fees that have collected because the loan servicer committed fraud — what a racket.
    How much money has trickled up in this system? How many of those billionaires have their foundations in some working class person in a starter house, making payments, not having the payments credited properly, getting behind without even knowing it, and having to refinance to pull out equity to cover the fees?
    Is there really a billionaire out there who EARNED the money?
    And people, any people at all, are reluctant to increase marginal tax rates at the top and impose inheritance taxes to recoup some of this?

    Reply

  20. questions says:

    Here’s some of that asymmetry of information in action regarding mortgage foreclosure fraud:
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/11/servicer-driven-foreclosures-the-perfect-crime.html
    The bank lags on crediting a payment, the borrower gets charged a fee, but doesn’t know it, the borrower sends the next payment in using the coupon, the bank credits the payment FIRST to the fee and then to P and I, so the payment is short. There’s a new fee for a short payment. It adds up, unbeknownst to the borrower.
    Eventually, it’s time to start acting regarding gathering foreclosure docs….
    Every payment has been made in a timely fashion.
    We really need more local banking so that this kind of behavior is discouraged by market discipline, and we need more regulation as this kind of behavior is never going to be discouraged by market discipline. This is market failure, big time.

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  21. Sand says:

    intra-agency.

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  22. Sand says:

    Dan Kervick: “…Is the United States the only country in the world with leaky government officials, or does Assange just have no interest in creating a fuller picture?…”
    The US State Dept. is huge compared to its ‘democratic’ counterparts with many self-interested factions, I bet, continually creating their own little inter-agency’ empire battles, also noting the rise of one particular faction that’s rather dominant at State at the moment.
    I’m hearing some ex-spooks are saying Mossad had a hand with this latest Wikileaks release. I don’t know, but I find it interesting how the flow of information has been ‘managed’? Question for Mr. Assange — has Mossad been in touch with you — in a friendly or not so friendly manner so to speak?
    Dan Kervick: “Arab despots and monarchs might find some of their economic interests threatened by Iran. But where the US is concerned in the matter of geopolitical power shifts in oil country,…”
    Exactly?
    Also, so far a certain county has been left alone? I’m still waiting for the discussion of Israel’s nukes to crop up — because if it doesn’t — then one truly has to wonder why?
    Dan Kervick “…Just how long do we want to preserve the US reputation in the Middle East as the military muscle behind the decadent builders of luxury desert snow mountains for the uber-wealthy and glittering whorehouses for visiting foreign business high-rollers…”
    Part of the reason we pay them exorbitant amounts of money, I presume, is to try and keep a lid on the powder keg (in the street). A v. small minority, admittedly, but still desperate none the less.
    e.g.
    http://alexbkane.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/wikileaks-docs-expose-egyptian-complicity-with-israeli-war-crimes-again/
    The neo-cons tried to shift the power-balance, change the status quo by attacking Iraq — look where that got us. Unfortunately, it seems we need to keep the money flowing, because every time we try to change things — the fucking place blows up — in more ways than one. And, now China, India and Russia want a part of the economic action. All I know is War ain’t gonna fix it.

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  23. questions says:

    And this:
    “Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) — Confidence among U.S. consumers rose in November to the highest level in five months and a gauge of business activity unexpectedly climbed, signaling the recovery is taking hold heading into 2011.
    The Conference Board

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  24. questions says:

    Mild change of topic for a sec….
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/30/all-talk-voters-want-spen_n_789872.html
    Interesting survey on spending and cutting preferences. YES please cut spending, but NO not that program, or that program or that program or that one either. NO NO NO NO NO…..!!
    The conclusion:
    “Taken together, these data suggest that when Americans call for cuts in “spending,” they mean something other than Social Security, Medicare and much of the military. But that preference puts 61% of the federal budget off-limits, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The data also help explain why policy makers tend to go for symbolic measures — such as freezing the pay of government workers — that offend relatively few voters.
    So yes, a large majority of Americans say they want to cut government spending. But if policy makers want to be responsive to that particular “message,” they will need to confront the gap that exists between the way voters perceive government spending and its reality. ”
    ****
    Hence the federal worker pay freeze. It responds directly to the concerns voiced in this survey. People like government programs, they just don’t like “spending” where “spending” is a concept completely abstract and devoid of content.
    ****
    Also note that the food safety bill passed the Senate on a 70+ to 25 or so vote, with a great deal of industry cooperation. According to something I read somewhere, the entire spinach crop was destroyed over one of the food-borne disease outbreaks. Sometimes industries suffer enough punishment from consumers that they ask for federal regulation to guarantee that there are no free riders and no prisoners dilemmas to get caught in.
    Why does it work in the food industry and not elsewhere? Well, food is highly elastic in demand. No spinach for a season is easy to deal with — switch to lettuce and other greens, or drink more milkshakes. There are clear ideals in food care — cleanliness, good labeling and so on are easy to understand. And the suffering in the industry was significant and the innocent and guilty were harmed alike because every leaf of spinach looks like all the others.
    So what would it take for regulating other industries? Clear information, clear traceable lines between misdeeds and consumer-led punishment, clear steps to take, sympathetic grandma-style victims, and, ummm, BI-PARTISAN support. It’s hard to campaign on the right to eat e-coli with your veggies! Probably not even Blenn Gleck could do that one! Literally, eat shit and die!
    If we could all boycott, say, the banks, make our financial behavior elastic enough that the misdeeds of any banskter got them all in trouble, that might be something. But I doubt we can all live without financial services long enough to get the message through. Community banking is the closest, but there’s still the pension fund issues and other large pools of capital that wouldn’t go on strike.
    Therefore, the banksters have to be forced to be regulated. They won’t beg for it.
    Same goes for any other industry whose practices do harm. If we can’t know the harm, trace it to the practitioners, and boycott or otherwise punish them, then that’s a clear sign of a market failure and it’s time to regulate.
    *****
    And finally, Jonathan Bernstein on bi-partisanship — the man is a voice of sanity in a sea of teh crazees:
    “The point is that as much as a lot of liberal pundits regularly take Barack Obama and Harry Reid to task for foolishly believing that bipartisanship was possible over the last two years, the truth is that there were a handful of GOP votes within reach. Except for the brief window in the second half of 2009, at least one of those votes was needed — and politically, each marginal Republican vote made it easier to retain marginal Democrats. Indeed, as I’ve argued, just going through the motions of seeking GOP support made it more likely that Ben Nelson stayed on board. Of course, the last 25 or so of the 40 (or 41, or now 42) Republicans were impossible to get, but support from two, three, or even half a dozen was a realistic goal on a lot of bills.
    None of which is to say that Obama or Reid always made the right choices. Overall, however, I think any fair reading would say that they accomplished quite a lot in the 111th Congress, and any fair criticism needs to keep that in mind. ”
    http://plainblogaboutpolitics.blogspot.com/2010/11/food-and-why-this-stuff-is-harder-than.html
    Bookmark and read daily for a dose of peace.
    And now back to our regularly scheduled screeds of one sort or another…..

    Reply

  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “If your point is that Steve Clemons has…yadayada…”
    Actually, its no such motive, Don. Wiggie’s target isn’t Steve’s opinions, its his character that must be maligned. Unlike wiggie, whose obviously diseased character is defined by her opinions, Steve’s opinions do not reflect the simmering prejudices and hatreds that wiggie’s so transparently reveal. So wiggie must inject Steve with the seeds of bad character, hoping that these seeds will grow into a repudiation of Steve’s opinions in the minds of the readers.
    (At least she has progressed past the point of using insinuations about the size of one’s penis in order to attack an opinion. I suppose we can consider that “growth”, no pun intended.)
    Its just the same old shit. An unabashed bigot, whose opinions and policy advocations are born in hatred, shifting the tables, trudging the despicably twisted path of hypocricy to arrive at a destination that is no more substantial, no more real, than the set of a Harry Potter episode.
    The time to take Wiggie seriously passed a long time ago, when Nadine pulled her out of her costume.
    Just like a snake in the grass, if you can see the damned thing, your danger of getting bit has diminished greatly.

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  26. Sand says:

    “Republican Jewish Coalition” vs. National Jewish DEMOCRATIC Council [NJDC]
    Oh, and what a surprise the NJDC aligning itself with AIPAC — so yep it seems like “Cantor was caught with his pants down” –
    NJDC DAVID A. HARRIS Blog: “Cantor signaled to JTA recently that if Republicans take control of the House in November, he and the GOP leadership would sever aid to Israel from the larger foreign aid budget. Such a policy is terribly wrong

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  27. DonS says:

    Wig wag, if your belabored point is the Steve Clemons has a point of view that is not neoconservative, that’s quite obvious.
    If your point is that Steve Clemons has an obligation to make Likudist arguments, in the name of your interpretation of what TWN should hew to or else. Or else what?. That Steve Clemons will be considered “not fair” from a Likudist point of view? OK. So what, even if it were so? It’s pretty revealing, though not new, that you would shamelessly advocate arguments that bolster Likudist sentiment while ignoring the points at which such arguments conflict with US interests. That of course would be a point you and Steve would see differently. Again, so what?
    If your point is that anti-Iran sentiments among Arabs should be considered emblematic and convincing proof that they are more neocon than the neocons (and don’t care at all for and I/P settlement), I already reminded you that states, all states, can hold parallel agendas. If your point is that Steve Clemons is a hypocrite for not constructing his arguments along the lines that you construct your arguments well, I guess, suck on that.
    If your point is to imply that Steve Clemons s a bigot because you associate him with wigwag-denominated bigots, pretty darn low. But of course your feelings about those of us who aren’t Israel Firsters are well known, and we return the compliment. The more Israel’s own democracy falters — the “government of the world’s only Jewish nation” as you remind us, pregnant innocence — much through it’s own capitulation to internal right wing forces, the more the tension between your Likudist arguments and rationality will grow. This might not result in any change in US policy due to factors you are all too aware of. But many of us, including I imagine Steve Clemons, will continue to resist Likudist blackmail.

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  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “You’ve written numerous posts eviscerating John Bolton, Eliot Abrams and Benjamin Netanyahu but one searches in vain through the archives of the Washington Note for your posts eviscerating the Saudis or their Gulf allies for urging military action against Iran”
    Please link to any comments of Steve’s that “eviscerate” Netanyahu.
    “In fact, you’ve told us more than once that the Sunni Arab leaders are skeptical of an American or Israeli military strike”
    Links????
    “I don’t doubt that progress in the Israeli-Palestinian discussions might make restive Arab publics…blahblahblah…”
    You mean those “ignorant”, “docile”, “uneducated”, “irrelevent” Arabs whose interests and sentiments are “silly” to contemplate?
    “Bigots like Steve Walt..blablahblah..”
    Whats a matter, you wretched hypocrite, are you finally cognizant of the fact that you jackasses have robbed the term “anti-semite” of all its power through overuse and misapplication? You think using the term “bigot” somehow disguises your intent and continued reliance on a tactic that only serves to demean your own character?
    “The cables show that if anything, the Sunni Arab rulers were even more vociferous in their calls for an American attack on Iran than the government of Israel was”
    You’re full of shit. As usual. You should be embarrassed in making such assertions.
    “….it was mostly Israel and

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  29. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag, “one searches in vain through the archives of the Washington Note for your [S.C.] posts eviscerating the Saudis or their Gulf allies for urging military action against Iran” — because, WigWag, these Arab nations, via the Arab League, have been on the record as only concerned with the very real Israel nuke threat and not any fake Iran one.
    That’s why “one searches in vain.”
    The Arabs have in fact petitioned the IAEA to get Israel into the NPT (as Iran is) and the IAEA chief visiting Israel was promptly rebuffed. Israel is special, don’t you know. The Arab League has sent several notices to the UN over the years complaining about the Israel nuclear threat which I have published and you have seen.
    Now we have a new wikileaks revelation that a Saudi king and a UAE crown prince, neither of whom has been democratically elected, have made personal, not governmental remarks about Iran. These remarks are not policy remarks, and in fact wikileaks has revealed many other such off-record remarks from and about other notaries.
    According to SecState Clinton one target said to her: Don’t worry about it — you should read what we say about you.
    So to exaggerate any wikileaks-revealed comment is wrong, and any such comment especially from a non-democrat should never be the basis of US policy.

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  30. WigWag says:

    “Wig, you are very smart – and remember much of what I wrote better than I do on occasion, but please don’t misstate or distort my views. I have always known that there were many leaders in the Arab world that favored hotter action against Iran – but they simultaneously called for quicker action on a credible two state track with Palestine and Israel, otherwise they would be at odds with their own street. I believe I have constructed this argument on many occasions. I was there in the room when Jeff Goldberg interviewed Yousef Otaiba and he said that the UAE would not mind Israel striking Iran under certain circumstances. I have also written a lot about the rivalry between Prince Turki and Prince Bandar over the question of Iran — and the King of Saudi Arabia has not held a consistent view, though it’s clear that at times he absolutely has supported a military strike given what we now know.” (Steve Clemons)
    Thank you, Steve, I think that you are very smart too. That’s why I am surprised that you conflate misstating or distorting your views with critiquing your views. Perhaps you’ve know all along that many of the Sunni Arab nations favored

    Reply

  31. questions says:

    Don S,
    I was paraphrasing the columnist who made arguments for these.
    Actually, the feds can make block grants to the states and tie the grants to purchases of Murdoch-generated curricular materials…..
    Gates is pushing some of this, too, apparently, so the tie to computer-based learning with Fox News software doesn’t seem too off the wall.
    It’s a little worrisome.
    And because each rhetorical step will sit well with enough people, it’ll happen this way…. We won’t even see it coming, but man, we’re really going to get even dumber. Amazing, the denigration of the liberal arts, expression, and the impractical.
    It all feeds Murdoch et al in the end.

    Reply

  32. DonS says:

    “The Republican economic strategy can’t be to invest in infrastructure as they have rhetorically pushed for less gov’t spending.
    “It won’t be stimulus as the trillions needed might not be worth the trade off and Repubs hate gov’t anyway.
    “So, the best place is education, and in the next post we’ll find out what a Republican education platform might look like. (questions)
    No, it wont be education since that’s out of favor with the teabagger wing, as well as a general right wing idea to move all education funding back to the states.
    Also, generally of course, Eric Cantor wants to “put the federal government on a diet”
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/11/02/interview_with_rep_eric_cantor_107829.html
    Interesting phrase, that. Seems innocent enough, but it’s really pretty insensitive when it brings to mind Ehud Olmert’s sadistic comment about putting the Palestinians “on a diet”, but not so much as to starve them. One would have thought Cantor would have been sensitive to the reference but, on second thought, he probably thinks it’s a marvelous formulation and a marvelous idea, for both targets. As to starving the federal government, minus DOD, he probably doesn’t have much problem with that either.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/16/israel

    Reply

  33. DonS says:

    “The Republican economic strategy can’t be to invest in infrastructure as they have rhetorically pushed for less gov’t spending.
    “It won’t be stimulus as the trillions needed might not be worth the trade off and Repubs hate gov’t anyway.
    “So, the best place is education, and in the next post we’ll find out what a Republican education platform might look like. (questions)
    No, it wont be education since that’s out of favor with the teabagger wing, as well as a general right wing idea to move all education funding back to the states.
    Also, generally of course, Eric Cantor wants to “put the federal government on a diet”
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/11/02/interview_with_rep_eric_cantor_107829.html
    Interesting phrase, that. Seems innocent enough, but it’s really pretty insensitive when it brings to mind Ehud Olmert’s sadistic comment about putting the Palestinians “on a diet”, but not so much as to starve them. One would have thought Cantor would have been sensitive to the reference but, on second thought, he probably thinks it’s a marvelous formulation and a marvelous idea, for both targets. As to starving the federal government, minus DOD, he probably doesn’t have much problem with that either.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/16/israel

    Reply

  34. questions says:

    Well, this is pretty scary….
    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/a-winning-economic-strategy-for-the-g-o-p/?hp
    The Republican economic strategy can’t be to invest in infrastructure as they have rhetorically pushed for less gov’t spending.
    It won’t be stimulus as the trillions needed might not be worth the trade off and Repubs hate gov’t anyway.
    So, the best place is education, and in the next post we’ll find out what a Republican education platform might look like.
    Let me guess: Murdoch, testing, Kaplan, assessments and standards and more testing, defunding, lowering the bar for teaching, getting rid of experienced teachers, Murdoch, more testing, playing with drop out numbers, de-investing in urban education, less government, more school choice, no unions, more testing, some standards and state tests, fake data, VAA (value added assessments — statistical crap, by the way), umm, private schools, charter schools, fewer neighborhood schools, more testing….
    Wait, that’s the shit we’ve been doing for the past 20 years or so…..
    And it’ll keep on.
    Of course what works best is letting smart people loose on the world with a decent salary and vaguely reasonable work conditions.
    But when has “what works” been the goal of policy?
    Yech.
    How about, instead, generous financial aid for higher ed, investment in branch campuses of state universities and community colleges because of geographic distribution and services provided, better relations between higher ed and k-12 so that there are mutual and required services — k-12 might provide some of the remediation, and higher ed might provide some of the acceleration (all mandated given state aid) — more teacher autonomy in k-12, a curriculum aligned with student readiness, a little more time early on, better math instruction from people who actually know the math they have to teach (and the science, come to think of it!).
    Lefty teachers all over the place, devoted to the social good, to challenging authority, to asking rather than to demanding.
    From the Republicans? Fat chance.

    Reply

  35. questions says:

    Here’s a compilation of material on the structural vs. cyclical debate….
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/30/924190/-Communication-Breakdown
    bobswern is a little, umm, hyper, but seems to keep in touch with Yves Smith of nakedcapitalism, and often has interesting things to say, though others have wondered about the accuracy level sometimes…..
    One of the pieces compiled does indeed note that Congress isn’t going to do much regarding unemployment, but that Obama should have been screaming anyway.

    Reply

  36. Dan Kervick says:

    I saw filmmaker Charles Ferguson on Charlie Rose last night and found him enormously impressive. He was promoting his film *Inside Job*. The film looks great, but Ferguson himself is a very clear and compelling speaker and thinker. Maybe he should have been on the FP big thinkers list.

    Reply

  37. questions says:

    Don Bacon,
    Someone recently had a piece (someone at kos??) about the lack of mortgage rewriting and blamed it on our silly concerns about moral hazard, and our deep guilt surrounding debtors.
    This is one of those irrational behaviors that economists have often ignored, but that behavioral economists are on the lookout for.
    We don’t make cold economic calculations, we make moral/emotional/confused decisions.
    It might “make sense” to forgive debt all over the place, to keep people in their homes and their kids in consistent schooling situations, and neighborhoods stabilized; it might be a lot of cutting of noses to spite faces to demand that debtors PAY or suffer, it might screw up one’s own neighborhood, one’s own property values, one’s own equity situation, BUT it feels good.
    And we seem to bring a double standard to this point because we assume corporations will double deal, be dishonest, and watch for the bottom line, but we deeply resent individuals who do the same.
    As long as the national “feel” is one of resentment over people who bought above their means, ended up underwater because of their own foolishness, then indeed, the gov’t program to rewrite mortgages is not going to be fully used.
    Further, simply rewriting mortgages with lower principal amounts doesn’t help in the following situations: profound underemployment, unemployment, some of the more bizarre loan terms in which the payments were guaranteed to become unmanageable and the buyer had meant to flip the house but hit the burst bubble instead. So sometimes, even when there’s no change in employment status, the borrower cannot manage the payments unless they are reduced to nearly nothing. Further, there are contracts and paper trail messes that the MERS scandal arises from. We’re in a pickle here.
    We have to think, as a matter of policy, what it means to keep someone earning, say, 80 grand, in a half million dollar home….
    Whom do we subsidize, why do we do that, whom do we resent, and why.
    A fair amount of public policy is geared towards enacting social resentment, and the mortgage rewrite plan probably fits under this category.
    It simply isn’t going to work.
    If we ever start resenting corporations and billionaires as much as we resent lower middle class strivers, then maybe we’ll reset policy.
    But in fact, billionaires instantiate our fantasies, lower middle class strivers instantiate our fears. We worship the former and hate the latter. (And yes, indeed there are racial issues floating around here, big time.)
    ******
    As a side note, I recall coming across some Aristotle piece in which he describes the sex difference as one of body temperature. The worry, then, is that men can become women by changing temperature (getting cooler, I believe). Panic ensues.
    I would guess that we worry about “becoming” lower class strivers in a similar transmogrification. Panic ensues. What if ‘I’ become ‘them’??????

    Reply

  38. Steve Clemons says:

    Greetings all & Hello WigWag:
    Wig, you are very smart – and remember much of what I wrote better than I do on occasion, but please don’t misstate or distort my views. I have always known that there were many leaders in the Arab world that favored hotter action against Iran – but they simultaneously called for quicker action on a credible two state track with Palestine and Israel, otherwise they would be at odds with their own street. I believe I have constructed this argument on many occasions. I was there in the room when Jeff Goldberg interviewed Yousef Otaiba and he said that the UAE would not mind Israel striking Iran under certain circumstances. I have also written a lot about the rivalry between Prince Turki and Prince Bandar over the question of Iran — and the King of Saudi Arabia has not held a consistent view, though it’s clear that at times he absolutely has supported a military strike given what we now know.
    I don’t have a lot of interest in the gotcha dimensions of the wikileaks…though they are fascinating.
    But if you want to engage me, stay serious — and don’t engage in twists of my views. You are better than that.
    Am in Dubai now at World Econ Forum meetings and did want to respond that while some get gleeful that they think that the view of Arab leaders proves that their is no linkage between Israel’s security interests and relations with Arab states in the region and Iran – I remain very much skeptical of this argument.
    All best, steve

    Reply

  39. Don Bacon says:

    The Obama administration will spend less than a quarter of the $50 billion it promised to help homeowners facing foreclosure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report Monday.

    Reply

  40. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Nov 29 2010, 11:22PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    There are 1.8 billion Arabs in the world and 11.7 million Jews.
    Total world population is 6.9 to 8 billion depending on which world census you believe.
    In 2009 Islam was the faster growing religion in the world. (From either births by Muslims or by conversions, didn’t say which.) There are a lot of black Muslims in the US btw.

    Reply

  41. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Nov 29 2010, 11:22PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    There are 1.8 billion Arabs in the world and 11.7 million Jews.
    Total world population is 6.9 to 8 billion depending on which world census you believe.
    In 2009 Islam was the faster growing religion in the world. (From either births by Muslims or by conversions, didn’t say which.) There are a lot of black Muslims in the US btw.

    Reply

  42. JohnH says:

    $5 Billion saved by freezing federal payroll frees up $3 Billion for the 20 F-35s Obama promised Netanyahu for freezing settlement construction for three months.
    The remaining $2 Billion will probably reward Netanyahu for freezing settlements for another 10 days…
    Appeasing Israeli extortion is obviously more important to Obama than the well being of ordinary, hard working Americans.

    Reply

  43. PissedOffAmerican says:

    How many “street Arabs” on the planet??? And the bigot Wiggie, cheerleading for the Israelis, deems those street Arabs “irrelevent”, “uneducated”, “docile”, and “ignorant”. (Have you ever seen such a case of assumed ethnic/racial/religious superiority and bigotry??? She/it might as well have made such a statement in the mid-fifties in the deep south, discussing the folks I am sure she would have referred to as “niggers”.)
    Gee, how many Israelis are there??
    Like I said, Israel is its own worst enemy, particularly if Jews like Wig-wag are in the majority. Wiggie’s chosen ones are surrounded, outnumbered, and increasingly hated. And its the “Arab street” that is irrelevent???
    Once in a while we get these glimpses into what Wig-wag and Nadine actually represent, when they let their guards down and speak honestly from the heart. Their very, very, very, black hearts…..
    “The Arab street is docile, uneducated, ignorant and irrelevant”
    “The idea that anyone should pay it any heed is just silly”

    Reply

  44. Don Bacon says:

    Dan Kervick, apples and oranges. This (obviously) isn’t 1945 and isn’t similar to it for many reasons.
    A few differences:
    1. no political proponents for working people
    2. many such for corporations
    3. outsourcing — low wages & expertise elsewhere
    4. predominantly unhealthy, overage population
    5. military activities throughout the world
    6. local dependence on military spending
    7. lack of political courage — pols bought & paid for

    Reply

  45. Dan Kervick says:

    “Sounds like a lot of honest and decent people have gotten disgusted with their work situations, with the basic corruption of the profit driven life.”
    That could certainly be the case. On the other hand, it could players trying to manipulate markets or stock prices, or damage competitors, but dropping compromising documents into the Wikileaks flow. A lot of people in the financial world are hired guns who move around from firm to firm. Some might get their hands on valuable documents in one firm that they then use against their former employers when they go to work for a competitor.

    Reply

  46. Don Bacon says:

    Dean Baker:
    “The country is suffering from 9.6 percent unemployment with more than 25 million people unemployed, underemployed or who have given up looking for work altogether. Tens of millions of people are underwater in their mortgage and millions face the prospect of losing their home to foreclosure.
    The most twisted statistic of unemployment: If you leave the military you can draw unemployment but you aren’t counted as unemployed. If you want to work full time but you can only find part time work you aren’t unemployed. If you use up all of your unemployment benefits you cease to be unemployed and become a discouraged worker. If you graduate from college or trade school and can’t find a job take heart because you’re not unemployed. You have to have had a job before you can be counted as not having one. See? Isn’t that simple? The actual unemployment rate is estimated to be between 17.5 percent and 22 percent, depending on your area.
    BLS (Sep):
    Civilian population 238,099 (16+)
    Civilian labor force 154,110
    Participation rate 64.7
    Employed 139,250
    Employment-population ratio 58.5
    Unemployed 14,860
    42% of population 16+ not working, including people described in para 2 above and those that don’t want to work, or need to work or retired.

    Reply

  47. Dan Kervick says:

    Don Bacon, the debt to GDP ratio was higher during WWII. We grew out of it. We’re not going to have a very easy time addressing the current fiscal imbalances if we launch a premature round of slashing and austerity economics while we are still wallowing along in extremely sluggish growth, massive unemployment and near-deflationary price levels.
    I’ll stand by my earlier prediction that even the Republicans are going to develop cold feet about this deficit-cutting mania, once they realize that the Republican House will absorb a good part of the blame for throwing ice water on the flickering embers of recovery.

    Reply

  48. Dan Kervick says:

    “On the contrary, the “realist” argument was that the Arab Street would go nuts in the event of an attack; that’s why the I/P conflict had to be solved first. That was the essence of the “linkage” argument.”
    And that’s still true. The Wikileaks documents don’t report on diplomatic conversations with the Arab street. Maybe Abdullah wants us to knock off his business rivals. But there is no reason to doubt that another US intervention in the region would provoke another mass explosion of anti-US sentiment.

    Reply

  49. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Obama’s pay freeze is estimated to save $5bn over two years”
    Hmmmmm, must be meant to offset the three billion we offered Netanyahu to jerk Obama off for three months.

    Reply

  50. Dan Kervick says:

    “The point of linking to bonddad’s work is that, indeed the recession looks to have ended last year which means that there’s some space now for some vague populist programs like gov wage freezes.”
    Look, this is just quack economic thinking. I think you even know that yourself, questions. It’s like saying that if the AIDS rate happened to max out last year and has now ticked downward a bit, we should now feel free to promote politically popular bacchanalian binges of unsafe sex. The fact that the growth rate bottomed out last year does not mean that the coast is now clear for the austerity economics promoted by dumbass populists and ruling class manipulators.
    The unemployment rate is close to 10%! Wake up!
    You think unemployment is a “lagging indicator” of something or other? What, exactly? Are you suggesting that 10% official unemployment and much higher real unemployment are only masking a state of deep economic health? Should I also now accept that death is just a “lagging indicator” of disease, and that if I regret that I am dead the problem is that I just don’t realize how fortunate I am that my disease has finally ended?
    What is happening now is not new. It is not mysterious. It is not the result of strange new economic dynamics or previously unseen “structural” flaws. It is just a particularly profound recession caused by the collapse of a housing and lending bubble and the evaporation of massive amount of wealth.
    People know how to fix this kind of mess. They have always known how to fix this kind of mess. When the economy is broken and people are suffering the effects, and when the private market machinery fails to allocate abundant wealth to the nodes in the economy where it would be most effective in generating economic activity and employment, it is necessary for thinking people to use their brains, stick their hands into the greasy, infernal, impersonal machinery, and physically move the wealth around to generate an outcome that will be better for the aggregate good and the majority of people. Of course, doing this requires confident and public-spirited leaders who know how to mobilize the latent political power of the majority of their countrymen, and who are not burdened with overly prissy attitudes about the property rights of the most affluent members of society, or with primitive superstitions about invisible hands and other unimpeachable fairy powers.
    You’re a babe in the woods. You think that if the solutions to the problems were so clear, then our oh-so-well-meaning public officials like Tim Geithner would be enacting these solutions. Tim Geithner is an errand-boy! We don’t have 10% unemployment because our elites don’t know how to end it. We have 10% unemployment because our elites don’t want to end it. When it comes to protecting their own property or ending the misery of tens of millions of America, the property rights of the wealthy come first. They circle their wagons around their stash and then tell their employees in the government what to do. They are perfectly happy to consign the country to a decade of raging unemployment and misery as long as they get to keep their own white-knuckled fingers tightly gripped around their cash.
    Our government is of, by, and for those people. It is owned by those people. It is bought and paid for by these people. You think Tim Geithner works for *you*?
    Wake up, questions. There is a war going on for the shape of the post-recession economy and the ownership of the post-recession world. The power and prosperity of billions of people hang in the balance. The owners of global capital, especially in Europe and the US, are now trying to impose the same draconian and subordinating austerity measures on Europeans and Americans that for years Europeans and Americans imposed on the world’s banana republics and begger states. They now want to dominate us the same way they succeeded in dominating those lesser powers – by addicting them to borrowing and then seizing control of their economies in Washington Consensus takeovers.
    The owners of the world are now trying to drive a final stake through the remnants of the labor movements, democratic legal systems and social insurance networks that they hate so much, and that several generations of progressive activists spent decades building. They want to bring back long hours, short wages, low expectations, thrifty work-serfs and sweatshops. They are buying Greece and Ireland at desperate fire sale prices and are then going to move on to Portugal and Spain. They even have their eyes on the attractively profitable pieces of the US economy.
    This isn’t some academic seminar or some fluff-philosophical pseudo-intellectual jerkoff. This is predators vs. the hunted. They are trying to buy your ass and my ass during the period of maximum vulnerability, so they can own us forever after. So far, it looks like Barack Obama is either a stooge or a perfidious co-conspirator in this business. If it is the former, he had better get a clue and get himself on the right side of this battle, and do it fast.
    [I wrote all this before I saw your last post, which consists mostly of Krugman throwing cold water on the structural unemployment canard. So I think you're coming around.]

    Reply

  51. DonS says:

    Trashing federal employees; a simple-minded game.
    $3b for Israel; times 2 years.
    I say we cut out handouts to Israel and keep Americans at work.

    Reply

  52. questions says:

    Here’s Krugman with a technical definition of structural unemployment as that level beyond which inflation gets triggered.
    So what I, in my untrained way, have been calling “structural unemployment” may well need a different term, like say, a new class of utterly unemployable people who have the wrong set of skills, the wrong number of years on the planet, or a preference for being paid more than the prevailing wage (which would be inflationary were the demand met).
    My guess is that there are unnecessary, extra, surplus people who won’t be re-employed unless the next bubble is vast.
    There won’t be demand for those particular people, and what demand there is will be met by other techniques than hiring 58 year old overqualified or under skilled washed up souls.
    ********
    “Jargon has its uses, in economics as in many other fields. It

    Reply

  53. nadine says:

    Obama’s pay freeze will save nothing much, Don. Federal bureaucrats have many tricks up their sleeves, to compensate for a pay freeze. Step raises and bonuses will still be in force.
    Bear in mind that this comes after an enormous increase in Federal employment. 2 million people now work for the Feds.

    Reply

  54. Don Bacon says:

    Obama’s pay freeze is estimated to save $5bn over two years. That’s two weeks of AfPak war costs this year.
    But the Thinker-in-Chief (and new Decider) says both are necessary.

    Reply

  55. PissedOffAmericabn says:

    So it is a PRIVATE in the military being scapegoated for all this furor, eh?
    Well, that line of horseshit sure washes, doesn’t it? To believe it, you gotta believe that the military is led by a pack of fuckin’ idiots who have given every low rank Tom, Dick, and Mary with a security clearance access to classified State Department files. I mean hey, we have some real fucking losers on the federal dole, but is this level of incompetence really believable???
    Quick, throw this private in the same cell we stashed Lyndie England in. I mean, isn’t that the cage were we house our fall guys and patsies?
    “The Arab street is docile, uneducated, ignorant and irrelevant”
    “The idea that anyone should pay it any heed is just silly”
    Exactly how Hitler felt about the Jews before he marched them into poisonous showers. You’re a scourge on humanity, wiggie. You disgust me.

    Reply

  56. WigWag says:

    “On the contrary, the “realist” argument was that the Arab Street would go nuts in the event of an attack; that’s why the I/P conflict had to be solved first. That was the essence of the “linkage” argument.” (Nadine)
    All of these references by the “realists” and their fantasy obsessed fellow travelers to the

    Reply

  57. questions says:

    “Over the last four years he has been so busy embarrassing various governments, from Washington to the corrupt Kenyan regime of Daniel arap Moi, that many forget the corporate scandals already on WikiLeaks

    Reply

  58. questions says:

    “None of which has stopped him from picking new fights. The promised release of bank documents would be the largest assault by WikiLeaks on the corporate sector, and Assange says the business community should expect plenty of sequels. In early October the site shut down its document-submission system; Assange says it was receiving more information than it could find resources to publish, thousands of additions a day at some points. The total is more gigabytes of data than he can count.

    Reply

  59. questions says:

    “Admire Assange or revile him, he is the prophet of a coming age of involuntary transparency. Having exposed military misconduct on a grand scale, he is now gunning for corporate America. Does Assange have unpublished, damaging documents on pharmaceutical companies? Yes, he says. Finance? Yes, many more than the single bank scandal we

    Reply

  60. questions says:

    Interview w/Assange on his corporate targets.
    You know, if enough people find enough dirty deeds and leak enough of this stuff to Wikileaks…. Could be some of the pushback we need.
    If the populist part of us could maybe be convinced that rich isn’t great, that death taxes are really just regular old fashioned inheritance taxes and they should be fairly steep, that business on a scale beyond isn’t really our friend, then maybe….
    Nah.
    http://blogs.forbes.com/andygreenberg/2010/11/29/wikileaks-julian-assange-wants-to-spill-your-corporate-secrets/

    Reply

  61. Don Bacon says:

    The king who provided the 9/11 perps and who continues to fund AQ says: You two guys fight.
    The president who has taken $28bn and who has destroyed his domestic opposition says: You two guys fight.
    The crown prince — same deal.
    Well, that’s it, we have to do fight.
    You first. Send your firstborn.
    We got it from the MSM.
    Gotta do it.

    Reply

  62. DonS says:

    “EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT. THE WHOLE WORLD WANTS THE UNITED STATES TO BOMB IRAN!!! EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT, EVEN THE HEATHEN ARABS WANT IRANIAN BLOOD!!!! EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT….” (poa)
    “Is there really an avalanche of correspondence between the US and Arab states about Iran? Or is that just the correspondence that was selected for special attention by the NY Times filter and the leaks from the Times to its friends” (dan k)
    Attaboys!

    Reply

  63. nadine says:

    “nadine, exactly what big revelations do you think the Wikileaks dump has given us? We have hashed these issues out here for a couple of years, and I think it was generally agreed all around that (i) Israel and some Sunni Arab leaders support some kind of action against Iran; (ii) ordinary people in Sunni Arab countries do not favor firm action against Iran; (iii) the US government is somewhere in the middle.” (Dan Kervick)
    Really, Dan? It was generally agreed? Who exactly agreed that ANY Sunni Arab leaders wanted the US to bomb Iran, much less that ALL of them did, as has been revealed by the cable traffic? I know I said so, and Wigwag said so, and many others of the conservative/neocon persuasion said so — but did you say so? Did Steve Clemons say so?
    On the contrary, the “realist” argument was that the Arab Street would go nuts in the event of an attack; that’s why the I/P conflict had to be solved first. That was the essence of the “linkage” argument.
    Last July, arguing why Obama would not bomb Iran, Steve Clemons listed only these reasons why Arab government desperately did NOT want an attack on Iran:
    “Iran, which clearly can dial up or dial down the activities of its transnational terrorist networks has them on low simmer at this point. An attack against Iran would probably blow this control valve off — resulting in a terrorist superhighway running from Iran through Iraq into Jordan and Syria right toward Israel. This network would also unleash itself against allied Arab state governments in the region and also cause havoc against US forces and affiliates in Iraq and Afghanistan. …The security of circumstances of Israel and the view that many on the Arab street will have that their own governments may have acquiesced to Israel’s security preferences without getting anything in ending the humiliation of their Palestinian brothers puts every government in the Arab League at risk.”
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2010/07/stop_hyperventi_1/
    This line of reasoning has now been exposed as 100% mistaken.

    Reply

  64. Dan Kervick says:

    Is there really an avalanche of correspondence between the US and Arab states about Iran? Or is that just the correspondence that was selected for special attention by the NY Times filter and the leaks from the Times to its friends?

    Reply

  65. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Interesting that there seems to be an avalanche of correspondence between the Arab states and the United States in regards to Iran. Yet, gee golly, theres a dearth of correspondence that was “leaked” between Israel and the United States.
    Uh, well, are we to believe that?? Perhaps Israel just didn’t have much to say to our State Department on the issue of Iran??
    Uh huh.
    How fuckin’ stupid do these people think we are?
    Seen the media blitz today?
    “How horrible that these criminals released this secret information that buttresses what we’ve been saying all along!!!”
    “And, uh, BTW, Saddam DID have weapons of mass destruction!!!”
    “And oh, about those dead Iraqi non combatants?? We only miscounted by 15,000, not the hundreds of thousands that the Lancet report claims”.
    “And, oh yeah, the 9/11 event??? Nothin’ to see here, folks, the official story is gospel.”
    “BOO!!!!! IRAN HAS LONG RANGE MISSILES!!!! AND THAT NASTY CRAZY COMMIE KIM JUNK BUM WAS THE SUPPLIER!!!! BOO!!!!”
    “EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT. THE WHOLE WORLD WANTS THE UNITED STATES TO BOMB IRAN!!! EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT, EVEN THE HEATHEN ARABS WANT IRANIAN BLOOD!!!! EXTRA, EXTRA, READ ALL ABOUT IT….”

    Reply

  66. questions says:

    I will try again….
    Employment after a recession is a lagging indicator, so it’ll be a while into the post recession period before much hiring happens. Though there has been some hiring at this point.
    There may well be structural unemployment because increased productivity decreases the need for workers.
    There may well be structural unemployment because a large number of OLD people will be considered unemployable even when employers might like to hire.
    The most recent Nobel Prize in econ went to work on structural unemployment, I think. I haven’t read more than headlines on this one, but it’s worth looking into.
    The point of linking to bonddad’s work is that, indeed the recession looks to have ended last year which means that there’s some space now for some vague populist programs like gov wage freezes. (Populism is a double-edged sword. It picks up envy, nastiness and racism as much as it picks up jobs and justice.)
    If you see a way for the US to have a low educated high wage work force, I’m sure that Geithner et al would love to see the plan.
    And if you see high wages for anyone outside the finance industry, Geithner should hear about that, too.
    In fact, there’s so much international and productivity related, and unemployment related and excess capacity related downward pressure on wages that I don’t see anyone’s getting a pay raise save those to whom money flows already.
    Medical might do well, but if the courts agree with the challengers, then that’ll fall to the wayside as well.
    Tech stuff is offshored. Software development is off shored, or visa driven and so often lower paid.
    The NYT has a piece on using trucks, food trucks especially, to do advertising events. Probably that cannot be outsourced. So there’s a growth industry — driving food trucks!
    Now, ask yourself, what are the restaurants and convenience markets thinking about those food trucks and the “rent” they pay and the “taxes” they pay, and the local soft ball team they “support”….. Of course, the trucks do none of this. But they are new and exciting and a growth market.
    Food trucks for people who live in their cars?
    No, we are not going to be a high wage nation anymore.
    In fact, we probably haven’t been one in ages.
    Our farming will head to Mexico as we deport the low wage labor. Our radiologists and calling centers are gone. Murdoch is investing in education and I’m sure that huge amounts of individualized experiences will also be outsourced and standardized such that we will no longer need teachers in the classrooms. We’ll have the educational equivalence of med techs supervising kids on computers who are all absorbing Murdoch’s worldview. It’ll be low wages all around….
    Would I like different? Sure would. Are we likely to get different? I sadly don’t think so. A new boombubble might come along and things might feel good again for a while, but these cycles immiserate more and more people and we’ve had decades of wage stagnation at the bottom end of the economy.
    The push backs against this may come only from Wikileaks at this point. I don’t see them coming from tax policy — seriously, how do you move a trillion plus dollars out of the clenched fists of the angry oligarchs? Wait til they die? But we’ve done away with the DEATH TAX….
    Or maybe they won’t come until we’ve really seen our lives transform. We think we’re saving, but really we’re damning.
    It’s a funny world.

    Reply

  67. Dan Kervick says:

    nadine, exactly what big revelations do you think the Wikileaks dump has given us? We have hashed these issues out here for a couple of years, and I think it was generally agreed all around that (i) Israel and some Sunni Arab leaders support some kind of action against Iran; (ii) ordinary people in Sunni Arab countries do not favor firm action against Iran; (iii) the US government is somewhere in the middle.
    What part of this story has changed? And who is going to start listening to the Pharoaoh of Egypt and the medieval rulers of the kingdoms, principalities and Xanadus of the Arabian Peninsula, who wasn’t listening to them before?
    Maybe Steve should address the issue, though, since he is an aficionado of Arabian junkets.
    If Assange wants to show that he is really interested in exposing the full hidden truth of global politics and diplomacy, and is not just interested in a fanatical, one-sided crusade against America and Americans, he’ll acquire a more extensive and globalized library of leaks so that we know what individuals like Pharaoh Mubarak say when they are talking to Russian diplomats, Chinese diplomats, Arab diplomats and Iranian diplomats.
    Maybe he tells the Iranians that the Americans are as untrustworthy as the Shah, or tells the Chinese that the Americans are the greatest monsters since Hirohito.

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  68. Don Bacon says:

    Am I the only one with a weird screen?
    Is it only my browser?

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  69. Don Bacon says:

    I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
    Not plastics.
    Outsourcing.
    news report
    24 March 2009
    We surveyed 600 small businesses to determine how the recession is affecting their outsourcing plans. Our survey results showed that 41.9% said they planned to outsource more in the near future, either because they

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  70. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Well, ain’t nothin’ like some belt tightening from the feds”
    Gee, questions, your recently adopted writing style borders on, if not jumps on, plagerism. It doesn’t even vaguely resemble your earlier style.
    “But hey…”
    Dropping the g and adding an apostrophe.
    Leaving lines of thought open ended with a series of periods…
    Now don’t take me wrong, I’m flattered. Imagine, a well read academic genius like yourself actually feeling he has to adopt someone else’s manner of literary expression in order to get his point across!!! Gee, what a compliment that you’ve chosen this little ‘ol uneducated Central Cal tradesmen from which to steal your revamped online personality!
    Now, if you really wanna morph into something worthwhile and partially human, you might take a cue from Dan Kervick, and pull your head out of your ass. He did so long ago, and look how well its worked for him! You might give it a try. I doubt you can match his smooth intellect, but in the light of day your brain might just catch a glimpse of reality, and venture out of the library and off campus to where real life takes place.
    Good luck.
    BTW, I’ll send ya a bill for the personality. No hard feelings, but ya mighta asked first before you stuffed it in your keyboard and walked off with it.

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  71. Dan Kervick says:

    questions, are you still talking about role of structural unemployment as a factor in our current extreme unemployment rate?
    You mention several interesting and important issues in employment economics related to age, experience, wages and skill. But these are general issues that could have been discussed ten or twenty years ago, and will probably still be discussed ten or twenty years from now. Your discussion doesn’t seem to have any direct bearing on the question of what is responsible for the fact that our unemployment rate is currently about 9.5%, rather than, say, 4% or 5%.
    Do you really think that there are significant numbers of companies who would be hiring lots of workers that they aren’t currently hiring if those workers were less worn out and rumpled looking? The unemployment rate among the young is also very high right now.
    You keep saying that there are such and such blogs with such and such charts and statistics showing some interesting things. But you don’t say what those interesting things are. And when I look at the link you provided, I see a post that appears to be about whether and when the recession bottomed out, not the causes of 9.5% unemployment.
    As for the issue of whether government hiring is a “solution to our problems”, I would point out that that is not the issue raised by the government wage freeze. The issue is whether it makes good economic sense, in our current economic circumstances characterized by persistently sluggish demand for consumption and persistently staggering unemployment rates, to freeze the wages of a sizable number of people who fortunately still have jobs, and whose consumer spending we are counting on to sustain consumption, production and employment. If the president does not have the political wherewithal to use government spending to help solve problems, he could at least avoid making the problem worse.
    I disagree 100% that we cannot succeed by becoming a higher wage economy. The United States is still a rich country. Rich countries can follow a national investment and industrial strategy aimed at preserving and extending their existing wealth, and at spreading that wealth more effectively among all of the society’s members. We did this once before in this country when we decided to stop coddling owners and start protecting workers, workers’ wages, workers’ work conditions and workers’ rights. This choice helped build the American middle class which turned into an engine of sustained and glorious national prosperity, contrary to the gloom and doom predictions of the earlier generation of insanely greedy robber barons who suppressed and fought against broad-based prosperity and human decency and democratic equality, and then proceeded to crash the global economy. This whole idea that Americans need to accept lower and lower wages to “compete” with Chinese peasants is a canard.
    And if our productivity is going up, that means our wages should be going up too. If they are not, then we have a broken system that can be fixed by effective government action.

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  72. questions says:

    A few, disjointed as usual, responses….
    First, I noted above, but you ignored, there is data around that suggests that unemployed people are seen as “tainted” and end up at the back of the line when firms start rehiring.
    Remember, every day, some new kid turns 18, every few months a new cohort is graduated (Dec, June, and August graduations are not uncommon). Frequently, people finish certification programs. They are fresh, new, cheaper to hire, have more updated skills, look less rumpled and worn out. Never underestimate these kinds of prejudices among those in the personnel departments.
    Every day, someone else turns 50 and is classified as, well, yeah, old. Who’s gonna hire an oldster when there’s a youngster, a cheapster, a freshster coming in at 2 pm for an interview?
    So we have people tainting out, aging out, and even after a mere 2 years in some industries, teching out.
    There are likely numerous marginal workers who are kept on during booms and bubbles, but no one’s gonna put up with them after the bubble bursts.
    As for just hiring people regardless — in what political world do you exist such that you’d even begin to think about government hiring as a practical solution? State and local gov’ts are dumping teachers and firefighters and health departments. Congress isn’t going to pass anything that “grows government.” (For all the things I hate Bill Clinton over, using “grow” in this manner is THE BIGGEST CRIME he ever committed! The gubbmint is like the corn crop….)
    ********
    We have decades of wage stagnation in the bottom rungs of the economy, and that wage stagnation was dealt with by the debt expansion and the increase in the number of workers per family.
    We will not fix the economy by becoming a higher wage nation, though. There’s too much downward pressure on wages from globalization and productivity improvements to even begin to think this is possible.
    We will not fix the economy by hiring more government workers to do things that the private economy can do for a fee. There’s no political will for this move, and to pretend otherwise is to engage in rainbow and pony thinking.
    So we’re stuck with the structures we have, a limited range of inducements, and a really nice set of charts and graphs that bonddad put together showing the recovery that does seem to be underway. I’m actually going to search for this and put the link in below”
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/9/21/95511/2215
    Hale “Bonddad” Stewart has had homes at kos, Huff Po, and for a while at 538. Not sure he’s in the 538 crowd now that it’s part of the NYT, but Nate Silver has significant respect for Stewart’s work, and the charts and graphs are very very clear.
    The economy is improving. There are some indicators that are near or at their pre-recession levels at this point.
    We all know that employment is a lagging indicator, and it may be that the admin economists are looking at the charts and graphs and seeing that the economy has recovered enough that it can take the hit of a symbolic wage freeze for some workers at this point. This symbolic act may buy Obama enough good will that he can get some other useful stuff done.
    It may provide some cover for ending DADT or for keeping the middle class only tax cuts or who knows what sort of private quiet negotiations might have gone on….. We’ll wait for the Wikileaks version!
    I doubt that the admin economists are unaware of the risk of austerity. Geeze, just look at the numbers Don Bacon posted above your post. That ain’t austerity……
    Maybe, though, the numbers are in good enough shape that there’s some room for political gaming?
    Please note for the nth time, I have no economics training at all. I read a lot of stuff and I assimilate what I can of it. I don’t do the quant work at all, and I don’t run a business so I don’t have that experience either.
    But I do read a lot, and I have my little Obamabot voice that trusts the admin a little more than you do (ok, a LOT more), and I like bonddad’s work a lot. He’s not alarmist, he’s data-centered, he seems to hit the mark, and Nate Silver has a data crush on him. What more could anyone ask for?
    Given political realities in Congress, the fact that unemployed non-govt types are full of rage, state gov’t workers have lost jobs left and right, the teaching force and first responder force have been smacked down, and gov’t workers are seen as THE GOVERNMENT, probably this move is, sadly, well, not a bad idea, even if an unfun or unkind one, or even a little bit of bad policy to grease the political wheels.
    Those who think Obama has bad political instincts should look at just how much deal-making the dude does. THAT’S politics.
    He shut up the fucking insurance companies and got health legislation passed.
    He takes on Fox News when he breathes.
    The whole world (or half of it) panics when he tries to close Gitmo (dealmaking like crazy).
    The underlying racism, Republican bias of big chunks of media, the ridiculous homophobia of the likes of McCain sr… Obama is getting as much done as he can given what’s arrayed against him.
    If you don’t travel outside likeminded circles, you don’t see much of what people are pissed about. They are pissed about “the government”, they have racist habits that they have a hard time fighting and would deny in an instant, they are paranoid about terrorism and explosions even if they never plan to fly again, and if they plan to fly, they are worried about their genitals….
    What’s a pres to do?
    Cut fed worker pay for 2 years (it’s the best 2 years to do it in, if it has to happen — inflation will be low for a while, there’s lots of slackness out there.)
    Share the pain, try one day to push back at the overly overly bloated oligarchs, and see what tomorrow’s Wikileaks bring….

    Reply

  73. DonS says:

    “Let’s see…POA and Carroll are retreating into their native habitat, accusations of world conspiracies against the Jews (with the usual ‘attaboys!’ from JohnH and DonS” (nadine)
    I’d be careful who you categorize and generalize as “attaboying”, if you could even document it serially. Taking your slur as a given, for arguments sake, your own lips must be chapped from puckering up to you-know-who’s rosy red rectum.

    Reply

  74. Dan Kervick says:

    “They find ways to do huge amounts more stuff with far fewer people, thereby rendering large numbers of people unemployed for now, and unemployable in the future because they’ve become irrelevant.”
    That doesn’t follow, questions. It is certainly true that employers downsize their staffs during a recession and squeeze more productivity out of their remaining workforce. And some of those changes will turn out to be more-or-less permanent. But that doesn’t mean that their former employees are now unemployable, structurally or otherwise. It just means that those former employees might not be going back to work at their former firms, and have been released into the labor market to go elsewhere.
    If a company lays off a bunch of people in accounts payable, or sales, or shipping, or in the warehouse, then you have a bunch of people with valuable accounting, sales, shipping and fork truck experience who can bring those skills to new companies, or to expanded operations in old companies, as the economy begins to grow again. In fact, one of the usual benefits of doing business in a recovery is that there is a larger pool of labor talent available, at a relatively low wage price. But the growth won’t occur unless companies and entrepreneurs detect opportunities for sales in the form of unsatisfied demand. If you have a good idea for a new $500 gadget or service, but there aren’t many people who can afford to part with a disposable $500, then you are not going to make that investment at this point. Nor is a bank going to want to lend you money for that investment. “If you build it, they will come,” sounds great in the movies, but real businesses proceed with more caution than mystical baseball novelists.
    The same comments would seem to apply to your worries about bubbles. Economists have worried about bubbles before and will worry about them again. It’s a very good idea to try to prevent them, and I hope we get more counter-bubble policy in the future. If an industry experiences a bubble, then the product it sells is overvalued. So the overall level of economic activity, profit and employment in that industry is unsustainable. Many of the people who lose their jobs when the bubble bursts will have to seek work elsewhere.
    But most of the skills possessed by the unemployed remain valuable and transferable. There is just not enough demand for those skills at the present time. Most people who are only recently unemployed have perfectly solid, enduringly valuable and transferable skills. If they can’t find work, it’s not because there is some structural depth to their unemployment. It’s because the economy hasn’t yet grown to a level that can absorb all of that labor. But we can stimulate growth without stimulating bubbles.
    Maybe if all of the people who became unemployed between 2008 and today had been employed in the credit default swap business; and maybe if they all possessed only the single non-transferable skill of doing the paperwork on mortgage-backed securities; we could say that the collapse of the housing and mortgage bubble had left us with a new problem of vast numbers of structurally unemployable workers. But in the real world, it defies common sense to think that all of those millions of people who were working happily away two years ago have such deficient or strangely unique skills that they have suddenly become unemployable for deep structural reasons.
    Now there might be a structural problem with some people with outdated or woefully deficient skills. But these were people who were unemployed before the recession – or only intermittently employed or barely employed. That might explain why we were not at full employment before the recession. But it does not explain most of the massive increase in unemployment as a result of the recession.
    To employ people who are unemployed, you need to generate economic growth. Most of that growth will not come from exports, but will occur inside the domestic economy. So while I think it is a great idea for us to boost our exports, we shouldn’t be overly focused on international competitiveness as the source of our problems.
    Now it is certainly true that we want to prevent structural unemployment in the future. And yes – if people remain unemployed for four or five years, the workplace environment they return to might be very changed from the one they left. So we want to prevent that from happening, we need to do more to put those people to work right now. Let’s pay them to do valuable work for our society and acquire new skills in the process. or let’s even pay them to acquire the new skills. But it is too early to start thinking that structural skills mismatches are the main source of our problems.
    Why is business activity in recession? Because people are not buying as much stuff as they used to before the recession. Now ask yourself why that is the case. Why do people stop buying stuff at the levels they once did? There are several reasons, among which are these major ones:
    -They have lost a substantial amount of their wealth.
    -They have lost their jobs.
    -They still have their jobs, but are afraid they *going* to lose their jobs.
    - Their debts have grown too burdensome.
    - Their wages are stagnant or falling, and their discretionary spending can’t keep pace as fixed costs continue rise.
    Now what has the Obama administration done to address these problems and put America back to work? What have they done to shift wealth into areas where it will do the most to boost demand? What have they done to relieve debt? What have they done to boost confidence? What have they done to boost labor bargaining power and prevent massive workforce downsizing? What have they done to keep companies’ revenues inside the company employing workers rather going into the record profit margins we are seeing? What are they doing to address the ridiculous executive compensation packages we see these days that permit companies to lay off twenty workers so that they can pay a $10 million executive a huge fat bonus? Not much that I can see after they passed the inadequate stimulus package.
    One of the great things about government employment is that it is countercyclical, because it is not driven by the profit motive. This adds an employment safety net to our society that prevents the national economy from crashing completely through the floor during a contraction. The job losses aren’t as profound as they would other wise be. Governments are hirers of last resort, and are under less pressure to fire workers during a downturn. We should want and expect the proportions of people employed by government to go up during a recession and then go back down during times of prosperity. That’s a *good thing*.
    So what is Obama doing? Instituting wage stagnation in a huge part of our economy, as a political move to appease the more affluent half of conservative and center-right voters who have jobs, and who have contempt for the people who don’t.

    Reply

  75. Don Bacon says:

    US Debt/GDP
    2009 53%
    2010 93% +75%

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  76. JohnH says:

    As Nadine, notes, “Lieberman speaks their language.” Yep, Russian and Israeli leaders share the same racist, authoritarian worldview. They mainly differ as to who should be in charge.

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  77. nadine says:

    “Could it have been Lieberman who convinced his Russian buddies to back off on delivering the S-300 anti aircraft system that Russia had promised to sell to Iran?” (Wigwag)
    Doubtful; the Russians have been this playing this game with the sale/non-sale of the S-300s since long before Lieberman joined the cabinet. But it’s obviously an advantage to Israel-Russian relations that Lieberman speaks their language (which he does, in more ways than one).

    Reply

  78. questions says:

    The deep structural shift that happened works this way:
    First, maybe it’s possible that economists are actually worried about the bubble structure. If so, this might be good because bubble and bust is a really horrific cycle that takes in a round of suckers at the end and brutalizes them, along with bunches of people who sat out the bubble behavior. And the result with each bubble seems to be a more effective oligarchy.
    Second, there has been a fair amount of data on the unemployability of those tainted by unemployment. If this holds up, then indeed we have a class of unemployable people rendered so by the mere fact of their having been tossed out of work.
    Third, employers use these recessionary moments to go all efficiency-crazed. They find ways to do huge amounts more stuff with far fewer people, thereby rendering large numbers of people unemployed for now, and unemployable in the future because they’ve become irrelevant.
    Probably there are other things that are structural floating around. But this much I can toss out as sources of concern.
    Also note that any kind of rapid tech change (there’s been lots of software investment — read bonddad’s latest post at DailyKos — the man knows how to assemble charts and graphs of economic factoids into a coherent whole — and you will see this one demonstrated. If you lost your job a couple of years ago (one of the true 99ers), and your field is beset by software updates of epic proportions, you’ll be left out.
    So, yeah, structures of one sort or another.
    It’d be nice to reflate without the bubble. I think that’s really something like slow, steady growth, but that won’t help those left out.
    (And don’t forget the building trades — the oversupply of housing will take eons to cope with, and the stress on forgotten towns will eat people alive for quite some time. Cyclical, but longterm cyclical, perhaps, and so behaving like structure instead.)
    No, Obama isn’t trying to throw cold water on anything. He has to live with a Republican House for the next two years, he has a more Republican Senate, he has his own re-election to think about, and to get re-elected you have to look just so to the people. This pay freeze will look just so to the people, actually. Sorry if you’re with the gov’t…. I grew up with vast quantities of gov’t people all around, watched Reagan’s RIF program and the devastation it caused. I’m not unfamiliar, actually. It’s a nasty business, and it’s not very good economics, but the incoming Repubs are not famous for their good economic practices. They are, however, part of the new reality. Deals will be made. Trade offs will happen. Some of us will suffer and others will prosper, and maybe just maybe a little something good will come out of this mess in a corner somewhere. Some little piece of legislation that helps someone whose income is where 70% of us are — in the 40,000 dollar range or below.
    ******
    Nadine, don’t leave me out of the TWN lefty crowd! I am a socialist Obamabot, after all!
    And no, I don’t think Obama is doing this as a sop. I think he needs to get into good negotiating position with the next Congress, and with the deficit hawk panic crowd who are eating this up. Carroll might even vote for Obama now that he’s cut someone else’s salary! (And cut it will be once inflation is taken into account.)
    ******
    Remember, WE pay the salaries of all those gov’t workers….
    Somehow, though, we also pay the salaries of Bill Gates and his share holders and just about anyone else. The difference is that we pay for Gates through the prices on out computers and software, but we pay for the gov by the prices on our withholdings.
    Why do these feel so different, when they are actually the same?

    Reply

  79. nadine says:

    “So [Obama] sends a signal, and that signal is that the most recent election with a party turnaround of some 62 or 63 seats or whatever is of consequence.” (questions)
    It’s called ‘throwing a sop’, questions. Obama is trying to make a little symbolic sacrifice to protect the enormous increases in discretionary Federal spending that have occurred on his watch — and note the word “discretionary”; this is beyond the steady march of entitlement spending.
    Much too little, and under obvious compulsion.

    Reply

  80. nadine says:

    Let’s see…POA and Carroll are retreating into their native habitat, accusations of world conspiracies against the Jews (with the usual ‘attaboys!’ from JohnH and DonS), Don Bacon is promoting the “who you gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes” defense of his previous positions, and Dan Kervick, while able to read the cables, is pretending that they don’t reveal anything he didn’t know before, nor expose the claims of the realists as false or mistaken.
    Altogether, not a very impressive display of intellectual honesty from the left-wing ranks of TWN posters.

    Reply

  81. Don Bacon says:

    The US now has more people employed in government than manufacturing and construction.
    Total government employees is roughly the same in 2010 as it was in 2008 (22.6 million in 2008 vs. 22.2 million in 2010), but at the same time private sector jobs have declined by 5.7 million. If public sector payrolls had declined proportionately to that of the private sector, there would be 900,000 fewer government jobs than currently exist. Government employment has risen to 17.1 percent of all jobs, up from 16.6 percent in 2008.
    According to New York University economist Paul C. Light, the number of federal contractors grew from an estimated 4.4 million in 1999 to more than 7.5 million by the end of the 2005 fiscal year. According to Light,

    Reply

  82. WigWag says:

    According to WikiLeaks, it looks like the Russians and Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman have a mutual admiration society going.
    According to the leaked cable, the Russians treated Lieberman like he was “an old friend.”
    Could it have been Lieberman who convinced his Russian buddies to back off on delivering the S-300 anti aircraft system that Russia had promised to sell to Iran?
    If so, this was quite an achievement.
    http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/06/09MOSCOW1488.html

    Reply

  83. Dan Kervick says:

    Wrote:
    “questions, you are intentionally misrepresenting my previous statements as a blind call for Obama to exercise leadership on behalf of a progressive by simply doing SOMETHING.”
    Should have been:
    “questions, you are intentionally misrepresenting my previous statements asking Obama to exercise leadership on behalf of a progressive agenda as a blind call for Obama to exercise leadership by simply doing SOMETHING.”

    Reply

  84. Dan Kervick says:

    questions, you are intentionally misrepresenting my previous statements as a blind call for Obama to exercise leadership on behalf of a progressive by simply doing SOMETHING. I don’t think I have ever called for Obama to lead the way into the New Austerity. I haven’t called for Obama to lead by becoming a new Thatcher or the American Merkel or the disciple of the Wall Street Journal editorial board. Nor have I called for Barack Obama to lead us off a cliff.
    And could you explain the rationale for the theory that 4% to 5% of American workers who had jobs two or three years ago suddenly became unemployable over the past two years – a deep “structural” shift that just *happened* to coincide with the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
    It’s obvious that this latest move is a pretty shallow, kneejerk response to the election, and that Obama’s people are hoping he can rebuild his centrist cred by making an economically stupid but symbolically populist lurch to the right. I guess the president has decided to pretend that the recovery has already happened and unemployment has already been fixed, and that its now its time to go deficit-crazy and start trimming and slashing. You can call that leadership if you like, but I think it is a dumb move.
    In the private sector, there has been increasing talk of raises coming back this year. That’s improving confidence. But government workers – and there are an awful lot of them – who were thinking of putting an extra $300 or $400 on their credit cards this year for Christmas, in the hope that a a salary increase is in the offing, were just told to skip it and wait a few years. Oh well, retailers and wholesalers don’t need a helping hand. They’re swimming in money.
    Maybe Obama should next try throwing cold water directly on consumers from the upper-floor windows of department stores, because as we all know, consumers in our economy our positively burning up from wild-spending zeal. What leadership that would be!

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  85. questions says:

    What I am talking about, assuming that you’re asking about the thing I think you’re asking about is this– first POA had some screed recently about action vs. thinking, so there’s a mini response to that.
    Second, I believe you have called for leadership off and on, some kind of clear signal from the pres about SOMEthing.
    So he sends a signal, and that signal is that the most recent election with a party turnaround of some 62 or 63 seats or whatever is of consequence.
    He’s sending a clear communication that the budget matters, and there’s been plenty of carping at one level or another about sustainable and unsustainable budgets around here.
    He’s taking clear action, concrete steps, just as many had hoped. And he’s taking the clear and concrete steps that will be popular.
    By the way, economist I am not, but I think that structural vs cyclical is a bigger issue than you think.
    If the only way we can get reasonable employment numbers is by having a bubble of some sort, we’re in big fucking trouble. If some huge segment of our population is for all time unemployable, we’re in big fucking trouble. If the people who are totally unused to unemployment and so have no support system, no inner ability to cope — if these people are sunk til they age and fade, we could have some serious social problems on our hands.
    The level of possible dislocation, depending on what’s wrong, probably ought to be thought through.
    It’s a good idea to know what the problem really is before you start crafting solutions.
    Hope this is a little clearer to you than my last, and apparently cryptic set of typages.
    Happy to do another round of clarifications should you decide it’s worth the effort…..

    Reply

  86. Don Bacon says:

    Here are the two most important leaks, in my view.
    *Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda
    *Pakistan, an ostensible ally of the United States, allows representatives of its spy service to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.
    ———
    The US has close relations with both countries, with a huge military sales contract to Saudi Arabia and multi-billion dollar grants to Pakistan. Both of these countries are supporting the killing of US troops, and more.
    The Taliban and al-Qaeda, both strongly supported by close US allies while the US is in its tenth year of war against them.
    No wonder the State Department is concerned.
    How will the Thinker-in-Chief (h/t DK) respond to this? Oh, that’s right, he already knew it, in his idea-based administration.

    Reply

  87. JohnH says:

    Anyone see the irony? “King Abdullah calls Zardari a rotten head.” The pot calling the kettle black. Kind of like Hillary preaching about the evils of dictatorship in Iran from her pulpit in a dictatorship just across the Gulf!
    Carroll’s right. The whole Zionist thing is bizarre indeed. If anyone could ever hold Israel accountable for their theft of land, then the whole project would immediately collapse…pretty much like any other criminal enterprise.

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  88. Dan Kervick says:

    questions, what are you talking about?
    Could you cite the progressive writers or activists who have called blindly for White House “action” in the form of Republican economic policies?
    As for the “structural” vs. “cyclical” unemployment debate, it is largely a false dichotomy. If there are structural aspects to the unemployment problem, they underlying, persistent issues, and are surely not closely related to the fact that the unemployment rate doubled since the fall of 2008 as a result of the recession. It’s pretty obvious that our current, spectacularly high unemployment rate is a recession-related effect.
    These out-of-touch elite school technocrats have been trying to talk themselves into the theory that there are all of these wonderful jobs and opportunities out there just waiting to be created, but that Americans are too dumb and inadequately trained to fill them. In the same way they have been trying to talk themselves into the theory that if they can succeed in hitting some cheap money sweet spot than they will succeed in getting businesses to hire lots of people to make products for non-existent customers.
    If Barack Obama wants to do something useful, I suggest he go on a personal 100-day listening tour across a broad swath of ordinary American businesses of all sizes – small, medium and large – and spend hours talking to people up and down the work line. I can guarantee that after a few weeks of that he will be left with few mysteries as to why companies are not hiring lots of people.
    Obama is always running on about his reliance on experts. And unfortunately, he has an extremely academic, ivory tower conception of what expertise consists in. The guy doesn’t seem to have any ideas of his own, and apparently can’t even wipe himself unless he’s got some team of experts telling him which hand to use. And if he has two experts telling him to use a different hand, he freezes like Buridan’s ass. Maybe he should try ditching the eggheads for a few weeks, and should get out on the road – not to make speeches but to gather real-world information.
    He doesn’t need more experts. He needs common sense, a pair of eyeballs and a pair of ears.

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  89. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag, thanks for bringing up Turkey, which fears the US more than it does Iran.
    news report:
    For Turkey, it seems, Iran

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  90. Carroll says:

    “One has to ask why Obama would do this right now. Is this supposed somehow be good for the economy? Is there a business anywhere in America that is going to create even a single job because a federal employee didn’t get a pay increase they had coming? I would love to see the economic theory that shows this”
    Wage freezes aren’t good for the economy but the federal employees wages and wages increases were well on the way to putting them into the elite class. It is time government employees were in the same sitution as the private sector workers. If memory serves they were given a ‘cost of living raise’ last year or/and the year before when the government said there was no inflation and didn’t increase the old folks SS. Government workers wages have been out of control for some time, so that now they are in many instances 3 to 4 times what their private sector counterparts are paid for the same job. To say nothing of the benefits deficit for federal (and state) workers that taxpayers (in many states) are now having to cover.
    My state has been running a billion(s) dollar deficit in the state employees health care plan and robbed the state highway fund and other reserves from other programs to try to cover it.
    They are now just getting around to doing something about increasing the premiumns they have to pay and changing the rules on how long a employee has to work to qualify for ‘free’ health care after they retire.
    I don’t remember the number of retirees we now have that are getting free insurance and drug coverage under the old state employees plan but it’s in the 85,000 or there about…paid for by us taxpayers…as are all the wages of federal employees.
    Give them raises while so many Americans are unemployed and tax us more…..I don’t think so.

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  91. Don Bacon says:

    King Abdullah calls Zardari a rotten head
    ISLAMABAD: The king of Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Pakistan, has labelled President Asif Ali Zardari the greatest obstacle to the country’s progress.
    “When the head is rotten, it affects the whole body,” King Abdullah was quoted as saying by the New York Times in leaked US diplomatic cables.
    Andrew Sullivan
    “The question is whether it is in the interests of the US to launch what would become very swiftly a Third World War against a third Muslim nation in a decade in order to advance the short-term interests of a few Arab dictators and to preserve a nuclear monopoly for Israel?”//(end Sullivan)
    The Saudi king who is the chief financier of al-Qaeda has a thing about heads (“cut off the head of the snake”) but obviously nothing he says is to be taken seriously and it certainly should not be the basis of US foreign policy.

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  92. questions says:

    This, by the way, is pure f-ing gold!
    “Governments around the world continued to react with disapproval on Monday to the first batch of disclosures from over 250,000 American cables, alternately brushing off revelations of problematic, embarrassing and impolitic comments and lashing out at Wikileaks, the Web site responsible for the release. ”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/world/30reax.html?_r=1&hp
    Note that the leaders can’t afford to get too pissed with the US diplomatic corps IN PUBLIC, so they condemn Wikileaks and Assange for reporting the fact that the diplomatic corps is, shall we say, undiplomatic!
    It’s like looking for a lost object in the light even though it was dropped elsewhere. The light eases the search. The search isn’t the point,the ease is.
    One cannot bash one’s partners, therefore one bashes the interloper (which is how that movie from this past summer about the lesbian couple and their kids and the gardener ended up.)
    And Darnton’s “Cat Massacre” pops up in the back of my head — didn’t they hold trials for animals and kill them as a scapegoat (scapecat?)?? I should look again…..
    The world’s gone Hollywood!

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  93. Carroll says:

    I think the Wikileaks cables should be studied as much for who wrote them as what they say.
    We all know that accounts of things can be skewed, sometimes deliberately, by the prejudices of the observer or writer.
    Meanwhile Cole has an interesting comment on one nugget in the Israeli cables.
    That one of Israel’s fears about Iran beside losing their own regional power status , is that Jews will leave Israel if Iran gets nukes because they will be afraid of a nuke attack. According to the Israeli cable, Israel feels immigration to Israel is at a stand still and they are even losing people who are emigrating out of Israel.
    Of course the Israeli government created the Israeli jews fear about Iran to begin with.
    So consider how bizarre the Jewish zionist and Jewish State thing is anyway.
    We stole some land from other people and financed a “Jewish” country so jews could ‘be safe’.
    And the Jews have made it the most unsafe location in the world for jews and themselves more despised around the world in general.
    If you want to talk about snakes, this is whole jewish state concept has been a thousand headed snake.
    http://www.juancole.com/2010/11/wikileaks-on-israel-iraq-and-the-iranian-specter.html

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  94. WigWag says:

    More from the Guardian (hardly a pro-Israel newspaper) on Saudi Arabia’s insistence that the United States attack Iran,
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-saudis-iran
    Interestingly, according to Politico, even the Syrians were nervous about Iranian nuclear aspirtions. One of the cables written by the American Ambassador to Turkey says that Turkish Foreign Ministry Under Secretary Feridun Sinirlioglu told him that everyone in the region was getting nervous about Iran.
    Here’s the money quote:
    “Burns acknowledged Turkey’s exposure to the economic effects of sanctions as a neighbor to Iran, but reminded Sinirlioglu Turkish interests would suffer if Israel were to act militarily to forestall Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons or if Egypt and Saudi Arabia were to seek nuclear arsenals of their own,” the cable ontinued. *We’ll keep the door open to engagement* [Burns] stressed. A visibly disheartened Sinirlioglu conceded a unified message is important. He acknowledged the countries of the region perceive Iran as a growing threat: *Alarm bells are ringing even in Damascus.*
    The entire article can be read here,
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/45648_Page2.html
    Alarm bells ringing even in Damascus; what a hoot!

    Reply

  95. questions says:

    Why the fuss about the gov’t pay freeze, y’all?
    You were asking for LEADERSHIP, symbolism, action, communication, something for people to grasp….
    Well, ain’t nothin’ like some belt tightening from the feds — basically, of course, it’s a slight tax increase on federal workers, as there will be very mild inflation and they won’t get colas to make up for it.
    Expect some retirements at this point and no replacements, and some significant losses of expertise here and there. And expect that the symbolism will still be lost on the starve the beast people. And those who need gov’t services will find them just a little more short-handed and just a little less effective over time.
    But hey, you got yourself some leadership and symbolism and communication.
    As for trying to figure out if this unemployment is structural or cyclical, it matters deeply if policy is to be set properly.
    But, you know, ideas don’t really matter. Only Bin Ladin, a man without any ideas at all, has had an effect on history. Not Marx, not TJeff, not any mere thinkers. Nope. Only actors.
    Now we got us some action, and there’s carping.
    What’s Obama to do?!
    *****
    And WigWag, thanks for the summaries. Especially the debunking of Chas. Freeman! Obamabot that I am, I will note that Obama did dump him pretty quickly, and maybe didn’t even really want the guy in the first place (!!)
    A whole set of ideas that led to actions down the tubes…..
    Wonder what’s next…..

    Reply

  96. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag has apparently been nadine-ized, believing that repeating the same falsehood (that Arab countries fear Iran militarily) over and over will make it true.
    Again, what WigWag claims as national policies are simply the off-record mumblings of one despot and one crown prince.
    As regards the despot, the king of Saudi Arabia, whom WigWag would ordinarily disparage, except when it favors Israel, the operative current statement is this:
    “Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda” –wikileaks
    Saudi Arabia, the chief financiers of al Qaeda, recently won the largest US military foreign sales contract in history, so any embarrassment caused the US by wikileaks is well earned.

    Reply

  97. JohnH says:

    Krugman: “Obama must gravitate instinctively to people who give him bad economic advice, and who almost surely don

    Reply

  98. DonS says:

    Crazy Pete King: “declare Wikileaks a terrorist organization”
    Yeah, that’s the ticket. I say we nuke ‘em.
    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/11/peter-king-declare-wikileaks-a-terrorist-organization.php

    Reply

  99. DonS says:

    Dan, I’ve been following the federal employee freeze, and a comment or two, on the WAPO site. The employees are by an large not outraged, but most seem disturbed that the politicos, and the military are not been asked to sacrifice as well. Overwhelmingly there is anger that the politicos will not participate in scrifice, as usual.
    As to the logic behind it, you know Obama has cut loose from any progressive economic thinking, and is fully in pacify the deficit hawk throwbacks — a really cowardly approach in times of serious recession. You’d think the country was overrun by massive inflation.
    So shoot me too. Meanwhile, the banksters and corporate thieves are laughing all the way to the bank, or hedge fund, somewhere not in the US.

    Reply

  100. Dan Kervick says:

    The rapid and clearly pre-organized propaganda rollout accompanying story, along with the naive and childish editorial from Assange, makes me think that I am right in my suspicions that Assange is a silly fool who is being played.

    Reply

  101. DonS says:

    “How in the world have you been able to digest and synthesize such a vast amount of information so rapidly?” (Dan)
    “Dan, you KNOW the answer to that. ” (poa)
    Yup, and yup. And then you just repeat the same points as in an echo chamber.
    “Actually it’s not that much information. It is summarized rather nicely in two newspaper articles; one from the New York Times and the other from the Guardian.” (ww)
    Nope, and nope. Actually, modesty doesn’t fit the MO.

    Reply

  102. Dan Kervick says:

    More on the topic of the FP Big Thinker-in-chief:
    It looks like the new era of Barack Obama, mindless deficit hawk and austerity-monger, has officially begun. Obama is initiating a spending freeze on government employees.
    So, we’ve got Simpson-Bowles, Merkel, the Tea Party, the UK Tories, our Chinese creditors and now Barack Obama all on the same side. The response of the global elite to stratospheric unemployment, obscene inequality and the Ponzi-driven vaporization of middle class wealth and prosperity is to lock the struggling in a Dickensian debtors prison while giving the financial elite more money and everything else they ask for.
    Dean Baker:
    “One has to ask why Obama would do this right now. Is this supposed somehow be good for the economy? Is there a business anywhere in America that is going to create even a single job because a federal employee didn’t get a pay increase they had coming? I would love to see the economic theory that shows this.
    “This would be a clear case of Obama abandoning principle to beat up on relatively powerless people, backing down before the moneyed interests. It would be nice if he could show the same vigor going after Wall Street, the insurance industry or the pharmaceutical companies.”
    Just fucking shoot me.

    Reply

  103. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Note how Wiggie jumped the gun on the EXACT line of shit that is now appearing willy nilly acrost the full spectrum of our media? We are just supposed to believe this geriatric hag in Florida, retired, a mere American Jew surfing the internet, managed to out-jump the media in digesting the content of these so called “leaks”? Surf around, people. Wiggie has given you a first hand glimpse into the offical narrative. She jumped the gun.
    Prescient??? A researcher with light speed powers of investigation???
    Or just a propagandizing hack, a mouthpiece wielding the Israeli megaphone, reading from a carefully prepared and now widely disseminated list of bullshit talking points that are the crux of the motive behind this so-called “document dump”?
    Common sense provides the answer.

    Reply

  104. WigWag says:

    How in the world have you been able to digest and synthesize such a vast amount of information so rapidly? (Dan Kervick)
    It’s my supernatural powers, Dan.
    Actually it’s not that much information. It is summarized rather nicely in two newspaper articles; one from the New York Times and the other from the Guardian.
    I hope that if you haven’t seen these articles that you enjoy them,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/middleeast/29iran.html?hp
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/arab-states-scorn-iranian-evil?intcmp=239
    I have summarized many of the relevant quotes from the cables in two of my posts above. They can be found at:
    Posted by WigWag, Nov 28 2010, 4:40PM
    and
    Posted by WigWag, Nov 28 2010, 5:20PM
    The cables demonstrate than many of the most important and influential governments in the Sunni Arab world despised Iran and encouraged an American attack. Saudi Arabia in particular was angry that President Bush declined to attack Iran in 2005, and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi suggested that if an air assault didn’t work then the United States should launch a ground attack against Iran.
    One of the cables describes Bahrain’s King as suggesting the United States should “take out” Iran’s nuclear program “by any means necessary” and an Omani official suggested that Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain probably all supported military action.
    All of this directly contradicts several assertions made over and over again by the realists:
    1) That the Sunni Arab nations were far from enthusiastic about military action against Iran.
    2) That most of the pressure for American military intervention against Iran was coming from Israel and Israel’s Jewish American supporters (especially the neocons). It turns out that if anything, the Sunni Arab governments were even more vociferous in advocating an American attack.
    3) That the only way to garner the support of Sunni Arab governments to support muscular action against Iran was to assertively support a rapprochement between Israelis and Palestinians. The cables prove that the Sunni Arab governments supported muscular action by the United States against Iran regardless of what was happening on the Israeli-Palestinian track. In fact, these Governments implored the United States to act despite the fact that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks were going nowhere.
    That’s strike one, strike two, strike three for the realists.
    Of course, absolutely none of this demonstrates that attacking Iran is a good idea; it merely suggests that the Sunni Arab nations were in lockstep with Israel in suggesting that an American attack on Iran was a good idea.
    And it suggests that the analysis of the realists was wrong. I tend to think that Steve Clemons’ errors were based on wishful thinking while the errors of Steve Walt and Chas Freeman were based on their paranoia about Jewish power; but that’s neither here nor there.
    The fact is that the cables are very bad news for the realists.
    What do you think Steve is going to say, Dan, now that it

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  105. JohnH says:

    Well said, POA.
    Gordon Duff posits an interesting question: what organization has routine access to vast amounts of US intelligence data?
    “Is it a coincidence that documents regarding Israel, their spying, influence peddling, suspicions of complicity in terrorism, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, across Europe and even the Detroit bombing, those reports are there, they are classified but you will never see one on Wikileaks. In fact, they are the only classified information that never gets out to the news. Is that because, as we have learned, the borders of Israel extend well into Washington DC, well into the Pentagon? What won

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  106. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It constantly amazes me seeing Israel’as neighbors being portrayed as the primary threat to Israel’s existence.
    The truth is, Israel is its own worst enemy, and is working feverishly to isolate itself. Having squandered its alliance with Turkey, and in committing crimes against the Palestinians that the global community is finding harder and harder to ignore, Israel is working to become a pariah state. Even its relationship with the United States is being abused through arrogance and an intransigent refusal to implement even mild concessions that come with a huge bonanza of military and political gifts. Although still in full occupation of the United States Congress, a misstep from Israel could change the sentiments in Washington DC, particularly if the misstep cannot escape media exposure, and acts to unravel the carefully nurtured narrative that has kept Israel in favor. An act of espionage gone awry, a false flag attack exposed, the murder of an American citizen that cannot be hidden from the American people, there are many ways Israel can fall off the tightrope they walk. Even domestically, a major scandal involving these treasonous fucks at AIPAC could work to derail the narrative, and expose the REAL Israel to the American people. I do not share MJ Rosenberg’s optimism on this latest flap involving AIPAC, but it is a harbinger of what may come if Israel and its agents commit any number of possible missteps.
    And it can’t come soon enough. Israel is a parasitic drain on our resources, our credibility, and our security. One hopes when these racist monsters steering the Israeli honey wagon finally drive off the road, they aren’t towing us with them.
    It will be an interesting time, this next decade. Having completely and utterly destroyed any chances at a two state solution, it will be interesting to see how Israel deals now with “the Palestinian problem”. The global community is watching, and the murderous racism and hatred that fuels the actions of the Israeli Jews will NEVER allow Palestinians to live as equals in a one state situation. Israel’s society has become so poisoned with hatred that the assimilation of the Palestinians has become impossible. This hatred DEMANDS that the Palestinians be erased. What other options are there? Is there anyone reading this that believes that Israeli society will accept Palestinians as nieghbors, equals in the community, with equal rights, full voting power, and freedom to worship?
    The spotlight is on the Israeli stage, and it will soon show the Israelis, unmasked. And my bet is that this act is going to include an unprecedented number of dead Palestinians, whose deaths will be justified by an epic act of deception on Israel’s part. Read Nadine and Wig-wag’s gloating ethnic egotism, and callous lack of concern for the Palestinian people. Even war with Iran is embraced by these two treasonous and (anti-) American Jews, despite the huge danger such an action poses to global stability and the energy needs of the United States. Now imagine a society comprised of Nadines and wig-wags in the majority, and you have just imagined the actual modern day Israel.
    Wiggie, it is ISRAEL that should feel the walls crumbling. No society can grow with hatred nourishing that growth. You and Nadine PERFECTLY personify the abcess that is growing in Israeli society. It will grow to a point where it will burst, or it will be lanced. It is inevitable.
    “How in the world have you been able to digest and synthesize such a vast amount of information so rapidly?”
    Dan, you KNOW the answer to that.
    As laudable as your intelligence is, you are still cowed by the specter of being labeled as “conspiracy theorist”. Does Wiggie REALLY show a “vast amount of information”, or merely a vast number of carefully scripted talking points that are identical to the talking points being plastered across the media and internet blogosphere???? Wake up, man.

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  107. Dan Kervick says:

    WigWag, will you please cite the actual cables you are referring to to justify your interpretations? How in the world have you been able to digest and synthesize such a vast amount of information so rapidly?

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  108. WigWag says:

    Another realist whose views have been eviscerated by the release of the cables is Chas Freeman. Of course Freeman is the man that President Obama originally chose to Chair the National Intelligence Council. After it was discovered that Freeman hated Israel and loved the Chinese Government’s behavior in Tiananmen Square he was unceremoniously dumped. Bitter even before this incident, Freeman has gone on to descend into a funk which has caused his public statements to become even more bizarre. Of course he still has fans among the realists; but that, I suppose is to be expected.
    Anyway, on March 22, 2010, Freeman gave an interview to the Saudi-U.S. Relations Information Service (SUSRIS); it can be found here,
    http://www.susris.com/2010/03/22/united-states-saudi-arabia-iran-china-israel-freeman-exclusive/
    In this interview, Freeman makes a number of statements which have now been disproved by the release of the cables.
    To wit:
    1) Freeman: “There is a disconnect, not so much a contradiction as a disconnect, between the Americans

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  109. Don Bacon says:

    Back on topic, here’s a fun piece on Obama’s bogus “idea-based” presidency that got him on the Top 100 Thinker List.
    LA Times
    -By Richard Wolffe
    November 28, 2010
    “Obama could learn from Bush” (excerpts quoted)
    The day before his party’s shellacking in this month’s elections, President Obama sat down with his economic team to examine the single most important issue for voters across the country: jobs.
    The president had called the meeting to grapple with what he and his propeller-head economists have been debating for some time: the wonkish question of whether today’s high unemployment rate is structural or cyclical.
    This lack of agreement on economic fundamentals is a primary factor behind one of this White House’s most obvious failures: communications. As one senior Obama advisor told me the day after the disastrous midterms: “It was hard to find a single economic message when the economic team couldn’t agree on a single economic policy.”
    In fact, the president has been frustrated by his communications strategy for most of the last year. Such a chronic problem is not the result of a lack of talent inside the West Wing. Nor is it solely the result of high unemployment, as Obama’s aides insist in public. Obama told me six months ago that poor communications had hampered his ability to execute his policies, and that was after several months of internal reviews.
    But the White House has failed to realize that the communications problem is a symptom of Obama’s problems, not a cause.
    If Obama is serious about reclaiming his own narrative, he might want to look to the example of a man whose record he trashed at every turn in the presidential election: George W. Bush.

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  110. Don Bacon says:

    Israel’s foreign policy, and its actions implementing it, are based upon Israel being the predominate ME power. Any idea of Iran getting nuclear weapons and so rivaling Israel is unacceptable to Israel.
    It’s similar to the US position on the subject — just because I we have them doesn’t mean that you should have them. ‘We’re reliable and you’re not’ is the false idea that is promoted. That premise has been proven false long ago with respect to both the US and Israel.
    The Isreali position is summarized in this US embassy cable to Washington:
    “Israeli analysts point out that even if a nuclear-armed Iran did not immediately launch a strike on the Israeli heartland, the very fact that Iran possesses nuclear weapons would completely transform the Middle East strategic environment in ways that would make Israel’s long-term survival as a democratic Jewish state increasingly problematic. That concern is most intensively reflected in open talk by those who say they do not want their children and grandchildren growing up in an Israel threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran.” http://tinyurl.com/37ayzyr
    But Arabs live every day threatened by a nuclear-armed Israel and have fruitlessly complained to the UN about it for years (see above comment).

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  111. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag can’t be consistent except continually to claim that Steve’s wrong. First it’s Arab states united against Iran, which is based on a couple of remarks and not truthful, and then it’s “Arab governments will continue to speak with ‘forked tongues.’”
    Plus “what citizens of Arab countries think just doesn’t matter” is untrue — what they think is that Israel is the ME threat which is why the Arab states (as I document above) have been united against Israel, unlike what a Arab few crown princes might mutter under their breath.

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  112. WigWag says:

    “Wigwag, what do you think the effect of this leak will be on the Sunni Arab states? Knowing their general level of paranoia, I suspect they will think that Obama has done it on purpose to embarrass them. I expect to see a lot of bowing and scraping in the direction of Tehran.” (Nadine)
    My guess is that the Sunni Arab governments will continue to speak with “forked tongues.” It is what they do best, after all; if anything the release of the cables demonstrates this yet again. I don’t even blame them for it; isn’t that what diplomats do; provide pabulum for public consumption while pursuing a more Machiavellian strategy in private?
    The enmity between Sunni and Shia and Arab and Persian is age old and abiding; while the release of the cables may cause some hiccups, it can’t possibly alter the nature of this ancient conflict.
    As for the “Sunni street” concerns about that are dramatically overblown. To the extent that it exists at all, the Sunni street is feckless, stupid and inconsequential. Outside of the Palestinian territories, the Arab street has proven remarkably incapable of exercising any influence at all; demonstrations in Jordan against the American attack on Iraq proved ineffective (and did nothing to topple the regime which is attached at the hip to the United States). Arab demonstrations against the Israeli invasions of Lebanon and Gaza were hardly noticeable.
    The simple reality for better or worse, is that what citizens of Arab countries think just doesn’t matter. And if the citizens of the Sunni Arab nations become too “uppity” those nations can just take a page out of the Iranian playbook. The Iranians certainly have alot of recent experience about how to handle a rambunctious “street;” while the Iranian regime was attacking the Greens, I am sure that the security services in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere were taking copious notes.
    Mark Lynch (who is generally one of the least interesting and most dimwitted commentators out there) has an interesting post about this at his blog. He fears that the reaction of the Arab street to the release of the cables will be non-existent which will encourage the regimes to be far bolder in confronting Iran and far less interested in what their own people think.
    Here’s a link to the Lynch post if you are interested,
    http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/

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  113. DonS says:

    “Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-MO) agreed. “Lindsey’s right,” she said. “The people who are leaking these documents need to a gut check about their patriotism and I think they’re enjoying the attention they’re getting but, frankly, it’s coming at a very high price in terms of protecting our men and women in uniform.”
    “What is the United States? To what are we patriotic? What price do we pay in allowing the government to act in our name without actually telling us what we’ve signed up for?”
    Good point Questions. Like the McCaskill and Grahams have been doing such a bang up job promoting and projecting a positive American image around the world. Certainly want to keep the formula secret.
    And “our men and women in uniform” once again become the excuse for clamping down on more freedom and transparency, and fewer rights no doubt. Think there might be a connection between our men an women in uniform being in stupid places around the world and a corrupt foreign policy? Maybe we should instead of cracking down on wikileaks crack down on the MI complex and it’s obscene agenda?
    “Just how long do we want to preserve the US reputation in the Middle East as the military muscle behind the decadent builders of luxury desert snow mountains for the uber-wealthy and glittering whorehouses for visiting foreign business high-rollers.” (Dan K)
    Another good question. But, again, one that argues for putting the MI complex and it’s corrupt US foreign policy adjunct in it’s place (good luck), not clamp down on the messenger.
    Embarrassing to our sterling government for us little people to know how bought and sold the whole operation is? Only if you happen to be a power broker of a true believer.
    But it’s a lot easier to shoot the messenger; and I’m sure we’ll here a lot more calls for that among the powerful than a call for change, reform.

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  114. Dan Kervick says:

    Is the United States the only country in the world with leaky government officials, or does Assange just have no interest in creating a fuller picture?
    Anyway, nothing we have seen yet shows that our policies should have been any different, nor that the “realists” were, or are, wrong. I think we have talked many times on this blog about the fact that a few prominent Sunni Arab leaders and the Israelis were interested in creating some new coalition against Iran. We have also talked many times about Arab public opinion polling, and how different the perspective of ordinary Arabs is from the preferences of privileged Sunni Arab despots. We already knew that Arab leaders are frequently unwilling to support publicly the positions they sometimes take in private, and will continue to be unwilling to do so as long as we’re on the wrong side of hot button issue number one in the Arab countries. Nothing in this Wikileaks release changes that picture.
    Arab despots and monarchs might find some of their economic interests threatened by Iran. But where the US is concerned in the matter of geopolitical power shifts in oil country, its always six of one, a half-dozen of the other. The US doesn’t need and can’t afford a war against Iran – it can’t afford it either economically or geopolitically. It also has no legal pretext for it, despite the fact that some monarchical and princely Gulf oil barons might want us to manufacture such a pretext so that we can militarily micromanage the Persian Gulf oil transit power balance and re-establish Gulf Sunni supremacy over Opec pricing and production policies.
    We have the same picture we always had: the oil import dependent US maintains a security racket in the Middle East that makes a few unpopular but very wealthy royal families and their associates fabulously rich, and in exchange we get some special consideration and guarantees as oil customers.
    Now some of these suppliers want us to bump off their Persian competitors. But after years and years of “taking care” of Saddam and “taking care” of Afghanistan, we’re stretched out past the breaking point. So it’s a no go. We also know that the reaction of about 80% to 90% of the people in the Middle East to another US shock-and- awe campaign would be radically unlike the reactions of Prince al-Biteme or the Pharaoh of Egypt, not that any of those guys care about the blowback US citizens would again be subject to, the renewed carnage among our soldiers, or the depression-sparking oil price hikes American consumers would face. If there is a crazy-big global oil price surge, the Sunni royals will be laughing all the way to the bank.
    And here’s one thing I do know: We keep having these problems in America with Sunni Salafist radicals cut in the al-Qaeda mold. But I can’t remember any Iranians who have recently tried to blow up an underwear bomb on a plane, or blow up a car bomb, or a truck bomb. You think maybe we’re taking the wrong geopolitical approach by putting all of our eggs in the baskets of a few privileged and despised Sunni robber barons?
    Just how long do we want to preserve the US reputation in the Middle East as the military muscle behind the decadent builders of luxury desert snow mountains for the uber-wealthy and glittering whorehouses for visiting foreign business high-rollers.

    Reply

  115. questions says:

    “Promise” or things he said he’d work for…
    It’s always good to toss in a speech or other source of direct quotation.
    Did Obama promise ME peace?
    Actually, one possible interesting outcome could be that the Palestinians are confronted publicly with their lonely status on the planet. If they really can’t count on Arab allies, maybe they do decide to negotiate borders on the 90 day speed date.
    It’s as likely as anything else, I suppose.
    (Remember, by the way, the neocons seem to want to remake every gov’t in the ME in their own likeness and image. Not sure that fantasy is the right one regardless of the Wikileaks info. So there may still be a fundamental misunderstanding of the universe on the part of Bill Kristol (whose crush on Sarah Palin may still have epic consequences….))

    Reply

  116. nadine says:

    “Did Obama mismanage? Mismanaging history is a judgment best left for historians later on.” (question)
    History, maybe. But direct political effects which you have ANNOUNCED will happen next month, next year, next election? Nope. Mismanagement of those goals is immediately apparent. You don’t have to do any more that compare Obama’s promises about Mideast peace to his results.
    Actually, the Wikileaks docs do confirm a lot of what conservatives have been saying about the Mideast, just as they contradict the realists.
    So in their sophmoric glee to report anything the authorities don’t want reported, the New York Times may be publishing a big story that it normally wouldn’t touch with a barge pole!
    Interesting times.

    Reply

  117. questions says:

    The outcome is actually quite unclear, near as I can tell.
    Fact is, all the stuff that’s emerging is already fairly well known, and so has been fairly public in its own way.
    As for I/P, maybe the air-clearing is a good thing. I don’t know. I am ever hopeful that these people will get their affairs in order as the current version of I/P life is not a healthy one for anybody.
    The remote bombing of the Iranian nuke sci guys shows that things will move forward regardless. There will be quiet action, covert action, that is already quite public. We know, the documents that will one day leak won’t be much of a surprise.
    Did Obama mismanage? Mismanaging history is a judgment best left for historians later on. So, maybe yes, maybe no. But the judgment is always incomplete as we can never do double blind studies to find out what ifs. If Obama had done nothing ME-related, would things have become more unstable? Would there have been more recruitment if he hadn’t tried? The answer is unknowable.
    At this point, I would love for the Israelis simply to accept the negotiations, do the 90 day speed dating version of setting borders, and be done with the process. I’d like for the Palestinians to get over the testosterone thing and accept this in-between status for a time. Nations are a project of becoming more than they are a product of being. So let them become. With borders. And international security. And self-directed non-corrupt use of international aid to set up water and food and industry sources. Let them build.
    Back to reality…. These docs will leak daily or weekly for quite some time. Likely, some will feign shock. (Lieberman will play this to the max, as it is in his temperament to do so. Forgive him, he has no choice. And others will position, introduce legislation, demagogue, speak out…. No one loves a whistle blower who tells us what we know already.)
    Few will defend. And yet it’s good for us to know what we know sometimes.
    (By the way, I thought maybe the Manning guy was the leaker…. I think I saw something that said he said “a friend of his” leaked this round, but that “friend” could have been Manning himself.)

    Reply

  118. nadine says:

    questions, this is a US-based leak of massive proportions, which is a terrible embarrassment for the Obama administration. Other countries won’t even want to talk frankly to us now.
    In terms of contents, the leaks show that the Arabs are so afraid of Iran that we could have almost named our terms with them, in exchange for an attack. Compared to the Arab states, Israel comes off as a cool customer on Iran. The Arab states want something done about Iran, right now! Compared to that, they don’t care much about Palestine and they don’t believe in “linkage.”
    In other words, everything the “realists” have been advising is completely wrong, which explains why all Obama’s Mideast Policies have resulted in obvious, embarrassing, failures on both a political and diplomatic level.
    Obama chose to push for I/P talks no one wanted, which at best would have been an empty charade…and then managed the affair so incompetently he couldn’t even buy a charade. Epic fail.

    Reply

  119. questions says:

    Via C and L:
    “Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-MO) agreed. “Lindsey’s right,” she said. “The people who are leaking these documents need to a gut check about their patriotism and I think they’re enjoying the attention they’re getting but, frankly, it’s coming at a very high price in terms of protecting our men and women in uniform.”
    “I hope that we can figure out where this is coming from and go after them with the force of law,” McCaskill said.”
    ******
    Gut check, patriotism, high price…..
    We should think about these terms a little and maybe McCaskill needs to perform her own gut check.
    What is the United States? To what are we patriotic? What price do we pay in allowing the government to act in our name without actually telling us what we’ve signed up for?
    Kos has a front page piece up about the contractor mess in Afgh. We fine the contractor for fucking up, and then give them more contracts. They can’t perform to the terms, so the terms are rewritten so that whatever they’ve done is suddenly what was contracted for. (Finally, someone has invented a time machine and reverse causality all in one stroke of a pen.)
    And all of this in in our name and yet must be kept secret from us?

    Reply

  120. questions says:

    Fascinating, and to be expected. Chalk up to unintended consequences that probably should have been thought through!
    “The U.S. intelligence community came under heavy criticism after Sept. 11, 2001, for having failed to share data that could have prevented the attacks that day. In response, officials from across the government sought to make it easier for various agencies to share sensitive information – effectively giving more analysts wider access to government secrets.
    But on Sunday, the Web site WikiLeaks, which had previously released sensitive U.S. documents about the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, once again proved that there’s a downside to better information-sharing.
    “One of the consequences [of 9/11] is you gave a lot of people access to the dots,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former CIA general counsel. “At least one of the dots, apparently, was a bad apple.” ”
    …..
    “”The fact that you’ve got someone exfiltrating information doesn’t mean you’ve got a technical problem,” he said. “You’ve got a human problem.” ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/28/AR2010112804138.html
    *****
    Of course, the real problem is neither human nor techno, it’s the whole international structure we’ve built. Oh dear.

    Reply

  121. questions says:

    WigWag,
    Thanks for the TWN reference.
    I think there are probably different levels of linkage, the robust version Steve et al push, and the mild version coming from the admin.
    My guess is that getting the “street” to become true believers is useful in paranoid authoritarian regimes, so the mild version is correct at some level. But I still think that I/P is a place filler for broad, inchoate social rage or at least irritation, and so linkage is a lesser issue.
    The way that US anti-communism flowed quite neatly into anti-Islamism because it was never about the communists (or about Muslims), I would guess that ME insistence on I/P settlements has nothing to do with I/P and everything to do with the underlying structures of social grudge-making and grudge-holding.
    The scanner scandal, the outrage du jour — there’s always a real side to this stuff. It’s pretty humiliating to have your urostomy bag leak at the airport, and since we are all in the same position (not!!!) we, all of us, are suddenly urostomy patients (or prosthetic wearers) together and we feel our common pain in common.
    The outrage machine works when it hits a thing we all feel that we could potentially feel, and even more, we all feel that we are currently feeling even when we are not. (Estimated 800,000 ostomies total, date from 2000 — so that’s including any other versions.)
    Freak outs over urban violence in the US do the same thing (most of the crime does not involve the panicked suburban whites who vote “tough on crime”).
    So we have this very odd mutual identification thing that gets aroused by fear far more often than by, I dunno, empathy for the afflicted. It’s less that one guy’s ostomy than my potential ostomy, it’s less that car jacked family’s experience and more my potential experience — nevermind that I don’t have an ostomy and I won’t get car jacked — IT COULD STILL HAPPEN. But since I can never be Black or Muslim or poor or accused or ill, or illegal (undocumented) I won’t feel compassion at that end, eveh!
    If we plant this basic structure in the ME, then, we see that the “street” worries about a thing that can never happen to it. The “street” takes on the victimhood of people whose victimhood isn’t really going to transfer, but whose victimhood can be transferred nonetheless, they personalize it such that they too are victims, and they get outraged.
    There always has to be something in this position, so dumping I/P is asking for a substitute of unknown dimensions. Maybe it’s not even a good idea. US anti-Islamism is kind of problematic. Maybe we just need a little more anti-communism to keep us in chill out mode. (And actually, the anti-Cuba and anti-START contingent are keeping fear alive! It may turn out to be a social service to do so.)
    All of this to say that linkage points to a complex social phenomenon that should be thought through pretty carefully.
    We might actually want “the street” to keep the set of identifications it currently holds. Better the freak out we know than the freak out yet to come?

    Reply

  122. nadine says:

    Barry Rubin counts the ways the Wikileaks dump vindicates everything he’s been saying. In another post, he sums up Obama’s Mideast diplomacy in six words: “No Freeze, No Talks, No Competence.”
    Wikileaks Confirm Our Analysis of U.S. Policy and Middle East Politics
    By Barry Rubin
    Please forgive me for saying this, but what really amazed me in reading the Wikileaks was how thoroughly they proved points I

    Reply

  123. nadine says:

    “In his essay, Steve suggested that an Israeli-Palestinian rapproachement would allow the Sunni Arab nations to adopt an “all options are on the table approach.” But the WikiLeaks cables show that the Sunni Arab regimes weren’t interested in having all options on the table, they were interested in the United States pursuing one option; the military one.” (Wigwag)
    Wigwag, what do you think the effect of this leak will be on the Sunni Arab states? Knowing their general level of paranoia, I suspect they will think that Obama has done it on purpose to embarrass them. I expect to see a lot of bowing and scraping in the direction of Tehran.

    Reply

  124. nadine says:

    “These documents purport to reveal that some Arab leaders were supportive behind the scenes of firm action against Iran. But these states have certainly not taken any robust public positions that match their alleged private positions. And the gap between private communications and public stances presumably has a lot to do with the politics of the Middle East on the street, especially the politics of the I/P dispute. So Steve’s point still stands. ” (Dan Kervick)
    Dan, you really have not taken on board the sheer amount of hypocrisy that is standard issue for Arab regimes. Sure, every government does it to some degree, but nobody can touch the Arabs for the total opposition of their public and private stands on most issues.
    Some of this is due to prudence, e.g. they only want to say nice things about Iran in public because Iran may win and be in a position to retaliate. If they really think that Obama is going to sell them down the river (in their shoes, I would think so), you’ll see a LOT of bowing down to Tehran.
    Some of it is religious-based hypocrisy: Muslims are not supposed to make allies of infidels against other Muslims, except of course, when they do.
    And some of it is done because the “Street” is anti-US and anti-Israel — but they themselves are far more responsible for this state of affairs than you give them credit for. They have spent 50 years fanning The Great Cause of Palestine, the better to secure their own power.
    Which is kind of awkward, now that they really need to make an alliance with the US and Israel against Iran, if they don’t want to become provinces of the new Persian Empire.

    Reply

  125. WigWag says:

    The cables show that the governments of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain implored the United States to intervene militarily. The cables also strongly suggest that the governments of Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman would be supportive of an American military attack. It is certainly true that these governments are loathe to admit to their people what they have asked the United States to do; like all despotic regimes they fear accountability. But none of this changes the fact that these Sunni Arab nations supported U.S. military action despite the fact that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have gone nowhere.
    Steve’s article specifically says that to get the Sunni Arab nations to support “an all options on the table approach” progress between Israelis and Palestinians needed to occur. The cables prove that this is inaccurate. The cables demonstrate that on the subject of Iran, the Sunni Arab leaders agree with Benjamin Netanyahu far more than they agree with Barack Obama, and while they may have hidden this fact from their own citizens, they haven’t hidden it in their discussions with the Americans.
    Steve may wish there was linkage, but in the eyes of the Sunni Arab rulers there was none.
    Regardless of what happened between Israelis and Palestinians, they wanted a military attack and they wanted it badly.
    The plain meaning of Steve’s article is that if there were progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front the Sunni Arab nations might be cajoled into cooperating on Iran.
    The cables prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the Sunni Arab regimes didn’t need to be cajoled into anything. When it came to attacking Iran, they were already fully on board in secret if not in public.

    Reply

  126. Dan Kervick says:

    “The release of the cables by WikiLeaks shows just how flawed Steve’s argument was.”
    I don’t see this. These documents purport to reveal that some Arab leaders were supportive behind the scenes of firm action against Iran. But these states have certainly not taken any robust public positions that match their alleged private positions. And the gap between private communications and public stances presumably has a lot to do with the politics of the Middle East on the street, especially the politics of the I/P dispute. So Steve’s point still stands.

    Reply

  127. Dan Kervick says:

    “… but I think you have outsmarted yourself
    with your theory Wikileaks is a psy-ops operation by the US gov’t.”
    Not Wikileaks itself, Ben Rosengart – but possibly some particular leaks that come out via Wikileaks.

    Reply

  128. Sand says:

    Yes, I’m interested in what Steve has to say?

    Reply

  129. WigWag says:

    On August 7, 2010 Steve Clemons authored an essay at the Huffington Post entitled “Israel/Palestine and Iran: Linkage Should be Hard Wired by Obama Team.” If my memory serves me well, he also published this essay at the Washington Note. The Huffington Post version of the article can be found here,
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-clemons/israelpalestine-and-iran_b_674327.html
    The essence of Steve’s argument can be discerned in these short paragraphs,
    “The interesting thing is that progress on a Palestinian state is what Arab governments may most need in order to be more robustly supportive of American, European, and Israeli designs with Iran. Delivering on Palestine may actually create conditions in which these states accept an “all options on the table” approach to Iran. And just as in other cases of deterrence, this ASEAN Regional Forum-like collaboration may impact fundamentally Iran’s leadership calculations.
    Achieving a Palestine-Israel track that is inclusive and operates at levels higher and broader than the mutual irresponsibility of both Israeli and Palestinian interlocutors would allow Barack Obama to show that his administration is changing global gravity.
    The key stakeholders in the region would be in a better position then to either contain Iran — or to militarily challenge Iran. And if the Iranian leader’s calculations shift, to embrace Iran on a more positive track.”
    The release of the cables by WikiLeaks shows just how flawed Steve’s argument was.
    Steve suggested that to be “robustly supportive” of reining in Iran, the Sunni Arab nations needed to see progress on the Israel-Palestine front; the problem with the argument is that it turned out not to be true. Even without much progress between Israel and the Palestinians, the Sunni Arab nations were “robustly supportive” of intervention in Iran. The problem for Steve’s thesis is that they were more “robustly supportive” of Israeli pleas for an American military attack than they were for the Administration’s slower strategy of pursuing sanctions first.
    In his essay, Steve suggested that an Israeli-Palestinian rapproachement would allow the Sunni Arab nations to adopt an “all options are on the table approach.” But the WikiLeaks cables show that the Sunni Arab regimes weren’t interested in having all options on the table, they were interested in the United States pursuing one option; the military one.
    The Cables demonstrate pretty convincingly (to those open to being convinced) that the Sunni Arab nations despise and fear Iran far more than commentators like Steve Clemons were willing to admit and that they were entirely supportive of an American military strike despite what they expected to be unpleasant consequences. The cables also suggest that despite their interest in Israeli-Palestinian peace, they were far more concerned about defanging Iranian capabilities than they were in promoting Palestinian aspirations.
    In fact, the Sunni Arab nations were far more sympathetic to Benjamin Netanyahu’s views about Iran and his strategy for dealing with it than they were with the views and strategy of Barack Obama.
    It appears that Steve’s thesis has been overtaken by the facts and, thanks to WikiLeaks has now largely been disproven.

    Reply

  130. Ben Rosengart says:

    Dan Kervick,
    You are a smart guy, but I think you have outsmarted yourself
    with your theory that Wikileaks is a psy-ops operation by the US
    gov’t.
    For all those wondering about omissions, remember that this is
    only the first installment.

    Reply

  131. Sand says:

    “…Hmmm, yeah. What the fuck is the chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia and a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs doing, WHAT THE FUCK IS HE DOING meeting with high level leaders in the Middle East…”
    Er yes, of course it is ‘questionable’ especially when he aligns himself with ‘the interests’ of a foreign government… I mean duh!

    Reply

  132. Sand says:

    “…I presume, DonS, that the United States will continue to provide financial aide and military assistance to Israel for as long as Americans keep voting in overwhelming numbers for politicians who think that is the right thing to do and keep refusing to elect politicians who agree with you..”
    Or in case of the Democrats – have Jewish donors (tagged: vote pro-Israel interests — regardless!) to keep those politicians in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed to. Which means keeping the ‘rational folks’ out of the candidate pool – so having “Americans voting in overwhelming numbers for ‘paid off’ politicians” who agree with the Israel lobby.
    “Simples” all in the marketing!

    Reply

  133. questions says:

    Re Ackerman, from Wikipedia:
    “U.S. House of Representatives
    [edit] Committee assignments
    * Committee on Financial Services
    o Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises (Vice Chair)
    o Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit
    * Committee on Foreign Affairs
    o Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment
    o Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia (Chairman)
    He was the Congress

    Reply

  134. DonS says:

    So it looks, wig wag, like you and the lovely nadine are just trying to get out ahead of the curve, as more cables surface that show, among other things, that Cong. Ackerman is, what, in cahoots with Nethayahu? Or is that too unprofessional? Just confirms what we already knew, right?

    Reply

  135. questions says:

    “That is why the Republican Jewish Coalition ignores domestic issues and tries to convince Jews that Democrats are anti-Israel.
    McCarthy’s playbook
    This year, the coalition targeted two Democrats – Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who was running for the Senate, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who was running for re-election to the House. In both cases, ads distorted the candidates’ records by stating that their support for Middle East peace efforts meant they were anti-Israel and pro-terrorist. In both cases, the ads and the smear campaigns were lies right out of Joe McCarthy’s playbook. And in both cases, Jewish voters voted overwhelmingly for the Democrat.
    And there you have another reason why the GOP Jewish effort will never succeed. Not only do just 7 per cent of Jewish voters cast their ballots based on Israel policy, the overwhelming majority of Jewish voters support the two-state solution and US leadership to achieve it. They do not consider peace, by definition, to be anti-Israel.
    ….
    This drives the single-issue crowd crazy. And they go through so many intellectual contortions to deal with it.
    Take Josh Block, the political consultant and longtime (now former) Aipac spokesman. He says that he is a Democrat and that, as such, the 31 per cent Jewish Republican vote is troubling.
    Why?
    “For Democrats, getting just 66 per cent of the Jewish vote is deeply distressing, and it will be increasingly difficult for Democrats to win if we alienate a core constituency, one which is critical not just at the ballot box, but in helping candidates get the support they need to run effective campaigns,” Block says.
    Wait a minute. Getting 66 per cent of the Jewish vote indicates that Democrats are alienating Jews?
    How so? Jews voted overwhelmingly Democratic.
    The longtime Aipac-er is distressed because it is getting harder and harder to convince candidates that the way to get the Jewish vote or campaign contributions is by being hawkish on Israel. That means there is less need to fear Aipac or to pay political consultants to craft a message that will position them to the right of Binyamin Netanyahu.
    No. American Jews will vote Democratic unless and until such time as they believe that the Democrats are not the right party for the US. And that is bad news for people who need politicians to believe that American Jews care primarily about Israel’s rights to the West Bank. That would be anti-Semitic if a non-Jew said it; it is almost as bad when Jews suggest it. American Jews are Americans and that is anything but distressing.”
    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/2010/11/2010116141126794508.html
    ***********
    That’s MJ himself.
    Sorry, it was the Republican Jewish Coalition. My bad.

    Reply

  136. Sand says:

    Some stuff is coming through — not via the established media:
    h/t: Mondoweiss
    http://mondoweiss.net/2010/11/wikileaks-embassy-cables-are-now-breaking.html#comment-252591
    Re: Ackerman
    http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2007/04/07TELAVIV1114.html
    Read it… and ask then ask yourself why is Rep. Ackerman (supposedly representing the US) permitted to attend high-level meetings with the Israeli head of state when Ackerman is a member of a group that aligns or, I guess, has important interests with that same head of state government ie. Israel?

    Reply

  137. WigWag says:

    “Since you have such a hot inside track, wig wag, is there any information on how long the US will continue to underwrite Israel’s lifestyle, universal health insurance, etc…” (DonS)
    I presume, DonS, that the United States will continue to provide financial aide and military assistance to Israel for as long as Americans keep voting in overwhelming numbers for politicians who think that is the right thing to do and keep refusing to elect politicians who agree with you.
    How long are we talking about?
    If I were you, DonS, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Reply

  138. questions says:

    Don Bacon,
    First, I don’t do tiny url. Just use a big fat url!
    Second if the link is to the W and M book, I read it and reported on it here in great detail.
    It’s not good scholarship. Neither W nor M is a congressional scholar. Neither does quantitative research or vote counts. Neither is within his depth. The book is filled with problematic language, odd tropes, unfortunate turns of phrase, bad theorizing, poor use of sources, and all sorts of other terrible horrible no good very bad stuff and things.
    And the number of sales of a book has nothing at all to do with the validity of its findings, save perhaps for an inverse relation of some sort. This is not to say that the most correct book ever has simply never been read, but it does suggest that vote counts, and the like make for mildly tedious reading, and W and M feed the need for a good conspiracy theory…..
    ugh.

    Reply

  139. questions says:

    “And to the Israeli Prime Minister, you were speaking about the political track. Are you willing to get into final status issues/negotiations like borders, like Jerusalem in the near future, based on the two-state solution? And do you still hold this opinion about the linkage between the Iranian threat and your ability to achieve any progress on the Palestinian threat?
    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me say this. There

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  140. DonS says:

    “Nadine and I got to look at the contents of the cables long before they were released to the general public and we spent hours with our handlers discussing exactly what we would say about them in the pages of the Washington Note.”
    Since you have such a hot inside track, wig wag, is there any information on how long the US will continue to underwrite Israel’s lifestyle, universal health insurance, etc., despite the U.S. sliding into 3rd world category?
    Each Israeli citizen gets equivalent of $500/yr from Uncle Sugar.
    http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/usaid.html

    Reply

  141. Don Bacon says:

    Hey questions, try this book rather than the minor non-seller one you’re pushing.
    The Lobby http://tinyurl.com/3axwasg
    “Expanding on their notorious 2006 article in the London Review of Books, the authors increase the megatonnage of their explosive claims about the malign influence of the pro-Israel lobby on the U.S. government. Mearsheimer and Walt, political scientists at the University of Chicago and Harvard, respectively, survey a wide coalition of pro-Israel groups and individuals, including American Jewish organizations and political donors, Christian fundamentalists, neo-con officials in the executive branch, media pundits who smear critics of Israel as anti-Semites and the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, which they characterize as having an almost unchallenged hold on Congress.”

    Reply

  142. Sand says:

    “…AIPAC targeted Schakowsky…”
    So you have the inside scoop it was AIPAC then…? hmm I wasn’t sure myself.

    Reply

  143. Don Bacon says:

    Apparently there isn’t much on Egypt, where the US taxpayers over the years have donated about $28 billion in three decades to maintain a despotic regime.
    The BS that the US promotes democracy in the ME is apparent for all to see, in Egypt. The money promotes the anti-democracy forces, is what it does.
    There is currently a rigged “election” in Egypt. One observer reports that actual turnout may have been in the single digits.
    Hey, Mubarak may be an SOB but he’s our SOB.

    Reply

  144. questions says:

    POA,
    Read Dan Fleschler’s book — as I said when I read it, he only goes about half the distance to the goal, but he gets the basic idea of credit claiming and proactive fearful behavior from MCs.
    I’m not the only one who makes this basic kind of suggestion, though perhaps I go a little further than others.
    And there’s this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Lobbying-Policy-Change-Wins-Loses/dp/0226039455
    Which I talked about here at some point a few months ago.
    It uses data to look at lobbying and it doesn’t find what you find using your web sources.
    Funny, that!
    Oh, and there was that thing about how in the most recent election, AIPAC targeted Schakowsky (of Sibel Edmonds fame!) and what was the final score on that one? Oh, 66-31.
    AIPAC is one scary fucking organization.
    Alls is has to do is target an MC and down down down goes the MC…..
    HAHAHAHAHA!

    Reply

  145. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Pretty amazing how, despite the fact that everyone admits there IS an actual Hasbara and Megaphone effort, no one admits to being a part of it.
    Now, accepting that there ARE organized Israeli internet efforts at countering anti-Israel sentiments, is it really the mindset of a “conspiracy theorist” to assume these two known liars and indisputable Israel firster bigots, Nadine and wig-wag, are part of that effort?
    Or just the reasonable conclusion to be drawn by reading their 24/7 horseshit that NEVER criticizes Israel, and is ALWAYS perfectly on script?
    And it is truly astounding that questions embarks on these periodic forays into the realm of remarkable idiocy. Yeah, thats it, AIPAC, and its tremendous influence in Washington DC is justy a conspiracy theory, a figment of almost everyone’s imagination. But Proffessor Questions knows better.
    Egads.

    Reply

  146. WigWag says:

    “A lot of people are enjoying this at one or another level.” (Questions)
    I know that I am.

    Reply

  147. Don Bacon says:

    “WigWag: the entire Arab world has spent the better part of the last three years begging first the Bush Administration and later the Obama Administration to attack Iran.”
    But these were not the views of the “entire Arab world” they were the views of a few Arab despots.
    Why do the opinions of the Arab despots vary from their official views?
    Why haven’t these despots voiced their anti-Iran opinions in public?
    Why have these Arab despots not translated their views into the positions of world organizations like the Non-Aligned Movement (which has always supported Iran) and the League of Arab States (which sees Israel, not Iran, as a threat)?
    Why does the entire Arab world NOT take the positions that WigWag claims?
    Because the reckless views of Arab despots are (until now) only their personal views and do not represent the views of the people. That’s why they have not been aired until now.

    Reply

  148. questions says:

    “An embassy dispatch marked SIPDIS is automatically downloaded on to its embassy classified website. From there, it can be accessed not only by anyone in the state department, but also by anyone in the US military who has a security clearance up to the ‘Secret’ level, a password, and a computer connected to SIPRNet – which astonishingly covers over 3m people. There are several layers of data in here – ranging up to the “SECRET NOFORN” level, which means that they are designed never be shown to non-US citizens. Instead, they are supposed to be read by officials in Washington up to the level of current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The cables are normally drafted by the local ambassador or subordinates. The “Top Secret” and above foreign intelligence documents cannot be accessed from SIPRNet.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/nov/29/wikileaks-cables-data#
    *****
    Ok, so some 3 million people have access to this top secret data….
    Gosh, that’s super duper secret stuff that no one should have known about….
    Clearly there’s a conspiracy here!
    ***
    Oh, and by the way, the NYT blog linked to above contains a note from someone else who’s enjoying the snark and inside dope! And from someone else who notes the likeness to the scanner debate. And from an Egyptian scholar who’s happy to see something made public about Arab regimes that are usually cloaked.
    A lot of people are enjoying this at one or another level.

    Reply

  149. nadine says:

    “wigwag and Nadine – Obama has tried to reach out to the Arab and Muslim people – not necessarily to their despotic and cynical rulers. These rulers care only for their own skin and power. Yes, it is entirely realistic that they fear Iran whose rise in power and influence will diminish their own. I can well imagine they could care less what happens to the Palestinians who have no impact on their power and influsence. However, their people do care and an Israel/Palestinian peace treaty will calm the masses to a degree.” (jdledell)
    Exactly right, jd. Which is precisely why the I/P conflict is so invaluable to the Arab leaders. It serves both as a internal distraction for the masses and an external shield against demands for reform.
    Which explains why Arab leaders have successfully prevented hundreds of attempts at a settlement.
    Now given this, what exactly did Obama think he was going to accomplish by appealing to the Arab street in Cairo? Ans: Obama didn’t understand any of this. Maybe he still doesn’t. Obama really believed all the linkage twaddle that Rashid Khalidi and Robert Malley told him.

    Reply

  150. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “If all Hell breaks lose in the Mideast with bombs, rockets and shipping derailed, it is the general populations that will suffer – not the kings, princes and other royalty”
    You don’t get it, Jdledell. Nadine and wig-wag have no more regard for the “general populations” than they do for the royalty. Why do you think they can so callously dismiss, and even celebrate, what Israel is doing to the Palestinian “general population”?

    Reply

  151. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag: “But bigots, like Steve Clemons’ friend Stephen Walt, have repeated over and over again that if the United States does attack Iran it will be primarily at the behest of Jewish neocons and the

    Reply

  152. nadine says:

    “Nadine and I got to look at the contents of the cables long before they were released to the general public and we spent hours with our handlers discussing exactly what we would say about them in the pages of the Washington Note.” (Wigwag)
    Now you’ve let the cat out of the bag.

    Reply

  153. questions says:

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/reaction-to-leaked-u-s-diplomatic-cables/?ref=middleeast#postComment
    Bunches of reactions to the leaks, and some techno info as well:
    “Simon Rogers reports on the Guardian’s Data Blog that the secret diplomatic cables were apparently available to the person who downloaded them and passed them on to WikiLeaks because of an effort, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States to increase the amount of information shared by U.S. government agencies. He explains:
    The cables themselves come via the huge Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet. SIPRNet is the worldwide US military Internet system, kept separate from the ordinary civilian Internet and run by the Department of Defense in Washington. Since the attacks of September 2001, there has been a move in the US to link up archives of government information, in the hope that key intelligence no longer gets trapped in information silos or “stovepipes”. An increasing number of US embassies have become linked to SIPRNet over the past decade, so that military and diplomatic information can be shared. By 2002, 125 embassies were on SIPRNet: by 2005, the number had risen to 180, and by now the vast majority of US missions worldwide are linked to the system – which is why the bulk of these cables are from 2008 and 2009.
    On Sunday the foreign policy Web site Stratfor noted that the documents were “allegedly downloaded by a U.S. Army soldier, Pfc. Bradley Manning,” from SIPRNet. Stratfor added:”
    ……

    Reply

  154. questions says:

    Oh lord, Don Bacon…..
    I just can’t go there again….
    Yes, there is theater.
    Yes there is lobbying.
    No, lobbying doesn’t quite move the heavens and the earth.
    There are books and articles about this issue.
    There’s an entire branch of political science about this issue.
    There are data sets about this issue.
    AIPAC does not rule the known universe, even if it can get some well-placed speakers to come talk.
    Credit claiming, picking battles well, mobilizing actual voters who actually want their rep to vote in particular ways — yeah, that all happens.
    Confluences of interests, all sorts of status quo pressures, a feeling of mutuality — yeah, it happens.
    But it’s not all about AIPAC.
    Though I guess it’s good to have a compact, easy to identify beastie under your bed to blame when things go awry, as they sometimes do.
    So blame away. It clearly works for you!

    Reply

  155. WigWag says:

    jdledell for once I partially agree with you. The Wiki Leaks dump tells us absolutely nothing about whether it is advisable for the United States and/or Israel to attack Iran. Honest people can disagree from a strategic point of view about whether bombing Iran is a good idea or a bad idea and what the consequences of doing so are likely to be.
    But bigots, like Steve Clemons’ friend Stephen Walt, have repeated over and over again that if the United States does attack Iran it will be primarily at the behest of Jewish neocons and the

    Reply

  156. Don Bacon says:

    “At any rate, AIPAC is so much less a thing than TWN realizes”
    Speakers at recent AIPAC Conferences
    2008
    # Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
    # House Republican Leader John Boehner
    # Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
    # Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell # Republican Presidential Candidate Sen. John McCain
    # Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Barack Obama
    # Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
    2009
    # Vice President Joe Biden
    # Senator John Kerry
    # Senator Dick Durbin
    # Senator John Kyl
    # Rep. Alcee Hastings
    # Rep Steny Hoyer
    # Rep Eric Cantor
    # Rep Jane Harman
    # Rep. Mike Pence
    # Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa
    # Newt Gingrich
    2010
    # Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
    # Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    # Tony Blair, Quartet Representative and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
    # Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
    # Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
    # Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN)

    Reply

  157. Sand says:

    “…There is stuff on Israel — The Guardian has summaries and I pasted a bunch in above…”
    Tip of the iceberg, miniscule, tepid stuff — almost obligatory, but useless if you wish to understand, get a taste what is really happening.
    AIPAC works 24/7 in the US congress pushing down every congress members throat the dangers, the existential threat of Iran against ISRAEL’s interests. Iran is not a danger to the US (remind me again how much we spend on our military — how many nukes ‘we’ have)?

    REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD)
    ANNUAL AIPAC POLICY CONFERENCE SUNDAY, MAY 16, 2004
    “…Howard Friedman, as all of you know, is irrepressible, indefatigable, sometimes unfathomable. What a strong, strong voice for Israel. What a strong voice

    Reply

  158. WigWag says:

    “It is interesting, and instructive perhaps, that both wigwag and nadine have hopped into this latest dump with both feet, guns blazing…” (DonS)
    Of course we have DonS. Isn’t it obvious that we knew about the contents of WikiLeaks cable dump ahead of time?
    Nadine and I got to look at the contents of the cables long before they were released to the general public and we spent hours with our handlers discussing exactly what we would say about them in the pages of the Washington Note.
    If you really want to know the truth, some of the people who have commented on this thread are actually onto something; there is something fishy about the WikiLeaks story.
    I hope this doesn’t get me into trouble with “my people” but between you and me let me tell you the truth; Julian Assange is actually a Mossad agent, but don’t tell anyone.
    Please!

    Reply

  159. questions says:

    Hey Neo,
    Just an aside on the laughing at posters thing — it’s fine for you to laugh at me. You can even laugh at me on the thread as you just did.
    But maybe you should drop that sig line (NCHQ)?
    It’s just a thought.
    I mean, I’ve never laughed at it, but I’ve often wondered.
    And, in fact, I’m actually enjoying reading the snarky descriptions of world leaders that are presented in briefing memos. So, yeah. Go ahead and laugh.
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    I included some ha ha ha’s for you!

    Reply

  160. questions says:

    Sand,
    There is stuff on Israel — The Guardian has summaries and I pasted a bunch in above.
    As I noted above (and a second time), it’s made clear that Israel is totally concerned about Iran, that Israel has been wrong about nuke dates, that Israel has presented worst case scenarios, that there are Israelis who are much more cautious, that the current possible nukes are very unlike the Osirak reactor in that they are (if they are) scattered and near civilian populations, that Israel is worried about turning Iranian civilians against the west and against Israel.
    The blazing guns don’t exist. There is much push back and push forward regarding bombing, and much awareness that failure is an option, and that the nuke dating is incorrect, and most importantly, that bombing would stop Iranian nukes for maybe 3 years at most.
    What is shocking about this? It sounds like reasonable analysis.
    You think Achmadinejad is a nice guy who doesn’t want weapons? No, he’s a player, a regional player and he’s got a strong revolutionary mindset on top of it all. He could well be a problem, and he has to be managed and it sounds like his regional co-inhabitants are rightly worried about him.
    What’s shocking?

    Reply

  161. Neo Controll says:

    “At any rate, AIPAC is so much less a thing than TWN realizes that it’s a little sad to see this treasure trove of inside dope and scoops and what-it’s-like-to-brief-the-secy-of-state moments be dismissed.”
    Questions, with respect, you do realize it is this sort of thing that get’s you laughed at and ridiculed at times, perhaps fairly or not. Take a break.

    Reply

  162. Sand says:

    Q: Has it occurred to you that in a funny way, AIPAC doesn’t actually exist?
    Only in your dreams :)

    Reply

  163. jdledell says:

    wigwag and Nadine – Obama has tried to reach out to the Arab and Muslim people – not necessarily to their despotic and cynical rulers. These rulers care only for their own skin and power. Yes, it is entirely realistic that they fear Iran whose rise in power and influence will diminish their own. I can well imagine they could care less what happens to the Palestinians who have no impact on their power and influsence.
    However, their people do care and an Israel/Palestinian peace treaty will calm the masses to a degree. However, without a peace agreement and another Western attack on a Muslim country will cause a great upheavel in the Mideast. Remember Bahrain is about 50% Shite. The major oil producing and shipping territory of Saudia Arabia is Shite. The majority of Iraqis are Shite. An attack on Iran by either the US and/or Israel will cause those populations to go nuts with significant danger to oil production and/or some regimes.
    If all Hell breaks lose in the Mideast with bombs, rockets and shipping derailed, it is the general populations that will suffer – not the kings, princes and other royalty. They feel they can ride out the upheavel and return to power and influence but I think they are playing a losing game.

    Reply

  164. questions says:

    Sand,
    Has it occurred to you that in a funny way, AIPAC doesn’t actually exist?
    When you read scholarship on Congress you get a very different picture from when you read TWN. Like really.
    I’m not gonna go over it all for the nth time, but there are books and articles, there’s realistic dove and the blog-author’s book, there are counterpoints to MJ Rosenberg all over the place. And honestly, the court case involving the fired spy/employee guy from AIPAC shows enough bad office behavior and porn viewing that one has to wonder if AIPAC exists even for AIPAC officers. These people don’t sound very professional, or maybe they sound utterly professional and that’s even worse.
    At any rate, AIPAC is so much less a thing than TWN realizes that it’s a little sad to see this treasure trove of inside dope and scoops and what-it’s-like-to-brief-the-secy-of-state moments be dismissed.
    It’s really pretty exciting to see just how human, confused, snarky, careful and careless the gov’t is. And they wrote all this shit down!
    A-MAY-zing!

    Reply

  165. Carroll says:

    “By the way, the cables also prove beyond any reasonable doubt what a fool Steve Walt is. Walt has used his blog and his public appearances to make the case that if the United States attacks Iran it will be the American Jewish community and especially American Jewish neoconservatives who are to blame. Walt has actually gone so far as to suggest that if the U.S. attacks Iran and it results in an imbroglio that American Jews are likely to be blamed by an outraged public”
    Oh yes we will definitely blame the Jews, cause…well, everyone knows attacking Iran is mainly their creation.
    But don’t worry, Walt and I have discussed this. If our negotiations with Turkey on hosting a Gitmo location for the Jews falls through we will definitely consider putting some camps for them in Florida so wag won’t have to move very far.
    ROTFLMAO

    Reply

  166. DonS says:

    “It seems these leaks push a number of Israeli and United States lines of propaganda, most notably the horseshit Wig-wag and Nadine are braying over in regards to Iran. When these two shameless liars and propagandists start hee-hawing with such intensity, you can bet the fix is in.” (poa)
    It is interesting, and instructive perhaps, that both wigwag and nadine have hopped into this latest dump with both feet, guns blazing. They have pounced on the embarrassing (for Arab govts they say) aspects of the documents, culled for them by the MSM, and de facto endorsed them as presumptively true. Why would they risk their, albeit questionable, reputation to jump so early and so emphatically, to endorse this just breaking story
    Most of us are willing to entertain the notion that, yes, Arab governments could be duplicitous — like all governments, including the US and Israel — kind of like equal opportunity distrust of government. But not wigwag or nadine, when it comes to Israel; their only criticism of the government of Israel is that it isn’t ruthless and harsh enough. So they appear pretty confident that the document dump, or some incremental future one, will not contain material equally as damning, but of the Israeli government.
    They have chosen, it seems, to go whole hog with an interpretation of the docs as salient and believable, and important. We wait for the worm to turn . . . or should I say for the hypocrisy to kick in should information damning to Israel surface. Well, actually, as usual when they can’t defend something or lie about it successfully, the screen goes dark. (Like we didn’t hear much from them on the Chalmers post, and his incisive analysis — and it’s not like they’re shy about being rude to Steve)

    Reply

  167. WigWag says:

    “Wigwag, isn’t it amusing that the same people who for YEARS have denied that the Arab regimes cared about Iran at all, are now retreating into saying that the Wikileaks cables must have been *cherry-picked.* (Nadine)
    I have to confess, Nadine that I find it very entertaining but hardly surprising.
    By the way, Nadine, do you know why Stephen Walt thinks William Kristol is a warmonger?
    Because he makes over-the-top statements like this,
    “Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an extremist who does not think rationally.”
    Oh, wait a minute, it wasn’t Bill Kristol who said that, it was Hosni Mubarak.
    Sorry for the error.

    Reply

  168. questions says:

    nadine,
    just for the record, up above somewhere I pasted in some stuff from the Guardian’s summaries that suggests Israeli exaggeration as a presentation of “worst case scenarios” designed to get some action, but measured against other Israeli voices of caution.
    Caution in international relations is the key term.
    No one tells it like it is, and in fact, “like it is” is a hard-to-define state of being.
    It’s told “like I see it given my interests and concerns.”
    IR is as po mo as you can get. Suspicion of grand narratives, little in the way of truth, more in the way of Einsteinian inertial reference frames — it’s all relative motion without any hope of a single point that is the God’s eye view.
    We are adrift internationally and we try to pin narratives on things. The neocons are totally guilty of this as are the development theory people and anyone else who tries to make all of human society fit into one story of liberation or enslavement or repression or unrepression or invention or survival…..
    Wiki gets small, and small is what we have. Not grand narratives. No conspiracies. Just a bunch of people doing something that seems to them at that moment like a thing to do. (Gee, it’s really hard to generalize when you’re critiquing grand narratives!)

    Reply

  169. Sand says:

    “…That AIPAC isn’t the center of the known universe? …”
    I think the points is — is that AIPAC doesn’t even exist in the ‘Wikileaks’ universe. Which is why most of those dumps come across like a celebrity reality show “Kick an Arab Down While You Can” — Europe’s politicians get their noses blooded a little, but miraculously enough absolutely no flies on Israel, or the US. Wikileaks II = Fairyland.
    These hyped up leak looks like a total farce.

    Reply

  170. nadine says:

    I agree with you, questions, the biggest surprise so far is that there is no surprise.
    For those who were following reality, that is.

    Reply

  171. WigWag says:

    Do you know why people like Daniel Levy think Prime Minister Netanyahu’s rhetoric about Iran is a threat to world peace?
    Because he makes provocative statements like this,

    Reply

  172. questions says:

    Geeze,
    There’s so much that makes basic sense in these documents so far that I cannot see at all why everyone is so dubious.
    Iran is scary, but military strikes might backfire, so maybe not.
    N. Korea is scary and it and Iran might be finding common ground.
    Arab nations worry about Iran. They still want I/P settled, but I/P is a street/populist issue, not an elite/governance issue. What’s so shocking about that?
    Diplomats are snarky. When they write up memos for the Sec of State before a visit, they describe their hunches and senses and informal feels of people, the oddities of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Nothing crazed here either.
    We know there’s doublespeak, we know that nations pursue interests, we know that people are a little odd sometimes. We know that multi-nation deals happen, are attempted, and sometimes fail. We know Obama wanted to close Gitmo and we know he couldn’t find countries to take all the inmates from the asylum.
    So, really, what’s shocking? That AIPAC isn’t the center of the known universe? Well, ask any congressional scholar about that and you’ll get the same answer. That Israel didn’t bomb the WTC? Well, ask the Saudis, instead.
    Seriously, the documents are a fascinating selection of diplospeak. They tell a portion of a fascinating story about international distrust and attempts to forge deals and find common ground in the face of significant distrust, significant differences of interest, domestic pressure, international pressure, and the lure of landing a great deal on something.
    What’s the shock?
    Wikileaks is telling us what we know already and the outrage seems to be that it’s not newer and shocking-er, that diplomats do just what one would expect.
    It’s kind of like giving your parents a wish list, and they follow the wish list for your birthday and you’re shocked, sickened and deeply disappointed because you got precisely what you asked for, what you knew you’d get, with no surprises.
    There just aren’t really that many surprises when it comes to IR. If, that is, you do your scholarship first.

    Reply

  173. nadine says:

    Wigwag, isn’t it amusing that the same people who for YEARS have denied that the Arab regimes cared about Iran at all, are now retreating into saying that the Wikileaks cables must have been “cherry-picked”.
    How, pray, would cherry-picking create so much evidence which they denied ever existed in the first place?
    I see Don Bacon is really getting desperate in his efforts to prove that Iran is an innocent lamb.

    Reply

  174. WigWag says:

    Do you know why Steve Clemons and his fellow realitst think John Bolton is a misguided idiot?
    Because he makes statements like this about Iran,
    “The Americans need to *cut off the head of the snake* while there is still time.”
    Oh, wait a minute; I’m sorry. That wasn’t John Bolton, it was King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

    Reply

  175. Sand says:

    “Sand, you seem to think that what’s most important about the leaks is their influence on American public opinion…”
    Yes, I do think they have some importance, remembering what happened with the dubious, ‘cherry-picked’ intelligence and misinformation disseminated up to and during the last ill-fated *Iraq* war.
    Having lived outside the US I have some hope that at least the Europeans will see through what ‘the paid media pundits’ will discern from this over-hyped ‘cherry-picked’ arrangement.

    Reply

  176. nadine says:

    paul, everybody in the world with any sophistication knows how hypocritical the Arab leaders ares. It is standard operating procedure with them to say one thing in public and the opposite in private. This leak may therefore be more embarrassing to them than to Israel, the US, or other Western powers, who say more or the less the same thing in public and private, just with different degrees of frankness.
    The open question is who is going to the get blamed for different countries’ embarrassment.

    Reply

  177. Dan Kervick says:

    “Is there any actual evidence? Are you implying that the cables in question are not real or that they were conjured for nefarious purposes?”
    Neither. I only suggest that despite the massive amount of information that has been released, it is the mere tip of the governmental iceberg, and there are unfathomably more massive amounts of data that have not been released. The sources responsible for these leaks surely have some agenda that informs their selection. These sources may even be involved in espionage or counter-espionage, but we have no way of knowing.
    My assumption would be that no matter what story one wants to tell about the world, one can find some sub-selection of classified government documents and missives that tells exactly that story.
    Whether fraud, forgery or other nefarious forms of deceit are involved, I have no way of knowing. Neither, I suspect, does Mr. Assange, who has decided to play the role in life of a mere conduit. Wikileaks plays whatever tune some benefactor with a trove of documents wants it to play.
    I would also suggest that Wikileaks’s anarchic, anti-establishment, and Generation Wired cachet makes it an attractive target for cultivation and exploitation by anyone seeking to carry out a propaganda campaign that can penetrate the skeptical filters many people apply to more publicly sanctioned official channels of information. All a government needs to do is set up some agent in a role as a disgruntled informant, supply him with a library of official documents telling Wikileaks the story they wish to tell, and then issue a lot of public protestations about how appalled and concerned they are by the release.
    If the Wikileaks site is hacked and hit with a DOS attack, so much the better for creating the impression among the anti-establishment Kool Kidz that a controlled release of information actually has some subversive purpose.
    Where Wikileaks is concerned I have no way of knowing what is real and what is unreal; what is random and what is arranged; what is up and what is down. But because there is no reliable way of exercising critical intelligence of any kind on these Wikileaks releases, they strike me as close to worthless, and I haven’t paid much attention to these highly publicized releases.

    Reply

  178. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “the entire Arab world has spent the better part of the last three years begging first the Bush Administration and later the Obama Administration to attack Iran.”
    It is a constant source of amazement to me that Wiggie and Nadine can make assertions like that without severe embarrassment.
    As far as Assange goes, I note he is quite forceful at pushing the official narrative about 9/11. I also note that the last batch of “leaked” Wiki-leak documents are being used to assert that we actually DID find WMDs in Iraq. Not suprisingly, that line seems to be getting pushed by the JP and Haaretz, with cutely worded subtitles, like “the search continued in Iraq for WMDs, with suprising results”.
    It seems these leaks push a number of Israeli and United States lines of propaganda, most notably the horseshit Wig-wag and Nadine are braying over in regards to Iran. When these two shameless liars and propagandists start hee-hawing with such intensity, you can bet the fix is in. Anyone that can’t see a common scripted thread in these two hasbarists line of shit is a complete idiot.
    The first batch of “leaked” documents also paint a picture that we were uninvolved in the torture of Iraqis, our only crime being that we stood mute, knowing the Iraqi police forces were torturing Iraqis.
    These “leaks” may well be an attempt to rewrite history in a far more flattering light (and less indicting of Israel and the United States) than what the truth actually is.
    But really, who knows anymore??? These pieces of shit in DC, the Pentagon, and the State Department, in leaque with Israel, have so betrayed our trust, so utterly and completely lied to us with impunity, for so long, that ANY piece of information is suspect, PARTICULARLY when released with great fanfare by a complicit and subservient media complex.
    Want the truth? Just check your larder, your bank account, your local educational system, and the condition of your nearest bridge or highway. There you will find the truth about the integrity of our leaders. You don’t need “leaks”, real or contrived, to draw accurate conclusions about what we have become.

    Reply

  179. paul_lukasiak says:

    tSand, you seem to think that what’s most important about the leaks is their influence on American public opinion. Its not — wikileaks has an international focus, and you have to look at the broader picture.
    So yes, while the nadines and wigwags out there will see what they want to see — and present the leaks the way they want them seen — the reality is that the leaks make any attack of Iran much harder because the Arab oil monarchies have been exposed as hypocritical to their own people. (Of course, its also possible that the diplomats and leaders of these oil monarchies lied to US diplomats. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that nations tried to play more than one side in an international dispute.)

    Reply

  180. Sand says:

    Regardless, the leaks that are coming out are hugely ‘distorting’ the overall picture of what is happening esp. when it comes to FP in the ME.
    What are you trying to say that even the mention Israel or AIPAC is designated as “top secret” in which case these dumps are worthless, and can definitely be used as neo-con propaganda (see above) to the uninitiated out there.

    Reply

  181. paul_lukasiak says:

    “It appears Wikileaks is not what it purports to be.
    Pretty evident Wikileak “cherry picked” the cables they released for some purpose. Don’t have to be a CIA anayalst to figure that out.”
    not necessarily. Remember, cables that were “top secret” were never leaked to wikileaks. And one strongly suspects that cables that are critical of Israel are immediately given a “top secret” designation. One also suspects that is the case with cables that strongly contradict US policy.

    Reply

  182. Sand says:

    interference.

    Reply

  183. nadine says:

    “Here’s the article from the New York Times; it undermines everyone, including the Obama Administration, who tries to suggest that there is a link between Iran and an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
    It’s time for Steve Clemons to admit that he was wrong about this.” (Wigwags)
    The “realists” have been impervious to reality so far. What makes you think this leak will change anything?
    True, those who were really stupid enough to believe the “linkage” twaddle they were peddling, may tone it down. Today’s policy thinkers never admit they were wrong; their former opinions just become inoperative.
    But Mark Perry et. al., whom Steve Clemons also seems to follow, are peddling an “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” alliance with Iran. They won’t change.
    As for Obama, well, he came into office so ignorant that he actually believed the linkage lies Arabs told in PUBLIC, can you believe such naivite? Whether the arrogant fool has learned anything since is an open question.

    Reply

  184. Sand says:

    “…It appears Wikileaks is not what it purports to be. Pretty evident Wikileak “cherry picked” the cables they released for some purpose…”
    Yes, only a senile old goat would say otherwise.
    So far, the leaks seem to be creating a interesting picture — which has a definite — how can I put it — ‘neo-con’ bias. I’m sure (or at least I hope I’m sure) that in reality the State dept does not speak with one voice all the time i.e. having a 100% ‘neo-con’ viewpoint — a 100% of the time. Leaks devoid of any discussion of Israeli inference, money and threats… I find that fascinating, and frankly unbelievable.
    Most of us have not been living under a rock these past 10 years — have been reading papers and following events.

    Reply

  185. WigWag says:

    “Mr. Assange is getting played.” (Dan Kervick)
    Why would you think that? Is there any actual evidence? Are you implying that the cables in question are not real or that they were conjured for nefarious purposes? Being that some of the cables are many years old (some are actually decades old) are you suggesting that a plan was set in motion years or decades ago to fool Wiki Leaks?
    As Jeffrey Goldberg suggests, it turns out that it’s not the Jews who are the world’s biggest neoconservatives but Steve Clemons’ friends, the Arabs.
    To wit,
    http://www.theatlantic.com/jeffrey-goldberg/
    How will Steve and friends react now that it

    Reply

  186. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag just because some political statements serve your political agenda doesn’t make them significant or true.
    Primarily, we shouldn’t confuse belligerent statements with government policy, or even with the truth. But even then you went far beyond what was said. Pure exaggeration.
    In an interview with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune published September 26, Democratic Senate candidate Barack Obama said he would favor the use of

    Reply

  187. Carroll says:

    It appears Wikileaks is not what it purports to be.
    Pretty evident Wikileak “cherry picked” the cables they released for some purpose. Don’t have to be a CIA anayalst to figure that out.
    I have read all releases available from the international press and it looks like “dump” done on certain states like Iran, Turkey, Korea and etc. for propaganda purposes.
    Wikileaks is working for some country, the question is which one or ones?

    Reply

  188. Sand says:

    I was looking for more who is feeding whom intelligence…?
    e.g.
    h/t Philip Weiss: “…Stuart Levey, under secretary of the Treasury in the Bush Administration, goes to Israel two weeks after the presidential election in ’08, and promises that the Obama administration will keep up the pressure to stop Iran from getting nukes…”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2010/11/wikileaks-embassy-cables-are-now-breaking.html
    and people like Wexler [Part of the: Where are 'they' now segment]
    h/t Firedoglake
    “…SUBJECT: REP. WEXLER DISCUSSES IRAN WITH IDF INTELLIGENCE
    Rep Wexler stated that he expected Israel would be pleasantly surprised by the President

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  189. Sand says:

    I was looking for more who’s is feeding whom intelligence…?
    e.g.
    h/t Philip Weiss: “…Stuart Levey, under secretary of the Treasury in the Bush Administration, goes to Israel two weeks after the presidential election in ’08, and promises that the Obama administration will keep up the pressure to stop Iran from getting nukes…”
    http://mondoweiss.net/2010/11/wikileaks-embassy-cables-are-now-breaking.html
    and people like Wexler [Q. where are now?]
    h/t Firedoglake
    “…SUBJECT: REP. WEXLER DISCUSSES IRAN WITH IDF INTELLIGENCE
    Rep Wexler stated that he expected Israel would be pleasantly surprised by the President

    Reply

  190. questions says:

    “US officials repeatedly expressed concern about conflicting assessments by their Israeli counterparts, some of whom admitted that their own estimates should be treated with caution: one diplomat noted that Israeli assessments from 1993 onwards had predicted that Iran would possess an atomic bomb by 1998 at the latest.
    “We should recognise that Israeli intelligence briefings will understandably focus on worst-case scenarios and may not match current US government assessments,” commented the US ambassador, Daniel Kurtzer.
    By the end of 2009 the view from Israeli military intelligence was that by 2012 Iran would be able to build one nuclear weapon within weeks and an arsenal within six months. “It is unclear if the Israelis firmly believe this or are using worst-case estimates to raise greater urgency from the United States,” a US diplomat responded. General Amos Yadlin, Israel’s military intelligence chief, acknowledged differences with the US but observed to a visiting congressman in summer 2009: “Israel is not in a position to underestimate Iran and be surprised like the US was on 11 September 2001.”
    The director general of the Israeli defence ministry said around the same time: “All options must remain on the table.” The official “acknowledged that part of his job was ensuring Israel was ready to employ such an option, no matter how undesirable it may be”.
    The Tel Aviv embassy has been sharply aware of differing views within Israel, noting in 2007 an increasing sense from diplomats and thinktank experts on Iran that military action must be a last resort. “The IDF [Israel Defence Forces], however, strikes us as more inclined than ever to look toward a military strike, whether launched by Israel or by us, as the only way to destroy or even delay Iran’s plans,” it reported.”
    ….
    “Israel’s foreign ministry feared “any overt Israeli pressure would backfire, leading to a surge of Arab support for Iran and focusing attention on Israel’s own nuclear activities”

    Reply

  191. WigWag says:

    More on what the Sunni Arab world thinks of Iran from the Guardian,
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/arab-states-scorn-iranian-evil?intcmp=239

    Reply

  192. Sand says:

    “Mr. Assange is getting played…”
    Something isn’t right — that’s for sure!
    For one, way too little info on our Israeli ‘friends’ and the copious secret communiques discussing our own congresscritters.

    Reply

  193. Neo Controll says:

    “As usual, when the facts come out, the American left has once again been proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have based its conclusions on things that turn out not to be true” (Wig Wag)
    Naturally you can take the neocon Wig Wag’s word for it — dissing the American ‘left’ — since she presented herself to TWN as part of the American ‘left’ when it was convenient. But it wouldn’t be convenient today when she is all about reinforcing neocon values, and the stories she can weave to support them.
    As an aside, one can always count on the NYT analysis to support the Israeli/neocon front. Hasn’t been that long ago when they paid Judith Miller handsomely to beat the drum for war with Iraq, has it?

    Reply

  194. Dan Kervick says:

    Mr. Assange is getting played.

    Reply

  195. questions says:

    “As for Iran, Mubarak has a visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic, referring repeatedly to Iranians as “liars,” and denouncing them for seeking to destabilize Egypt and the region. He sees the Syrians and Qataris as sycophants to Tehran and liars themselves. There is no doubt that Egypt sees Iran and its greatest long-term threat, both as it develops a nuclear capability and as it seeks to export its “Shia revolution.” Nonetheless, Mubarak told Mitchell pointedly that he did not oppose the U.S. speaking to the Iranians, as long as we did not “believe a single word they say.” Aboul Gheit will be keen to hear your description of U.S. intentions towards Iran. In his conversation with Senator Mitchell, Aboul Gheit carefully noting he was speaking personally, expressed more interest into bringing the Syrians into negotiations again; President Mubarak was not enthusiastic about dealing with the Syrians at this time.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/191130
    “Beyond the issue of conditioning, the Egyptians resent the U.S. unilateral decision to cut ESF in half, from $415 million in FY-08 to $200 million in FY-09, a level which the Egyptians find embarrassing, not because they need the money (they say), but because it shows our diminished view of the value of our relationship. ”

    “12. (S/NF) Concerning military assistance, the Egyptian political and military leadership feel that they have been “short changed” by our holding to an FMF level of $1.3 billion, (the same level for 30 years despite inflation), and which they contrast with increases to our military assistance to Israel.”

    Reply

  196. questions says:

    Note that the above almost seems to suggest that the Egyptian concern for I/P settlement has more to do with smuggling tunnels than with the “Egyptian street”.
    They don’t seem to like Hamas very much, when you get down to it.

    Reply

  197. questions says:

    “Although Aboul Gheit was never enthusiastic about the Annapolis Peace process, resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the primary strategic political goal for the Egyptians. They are proud of their role as intermediary, well aware that they are perhaps the only player that can talk with us, the Israelis, and all Palestinian factions. Mubarak hates Hamas, and considers them the same as Egypt’s own Muslim Brotherhood, which he sees as his own most dangerous political threat. Since the
    CAIRO 00000231 002 OF 004
    June 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza, the Egyptians, under the leadership of intelligence chief Omar Soliman (the de facto national security advisor with direct responsibility for the Israeli-Palestinian account) have shifted their focus to intra-Palestinian reconciliation and establishment of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire. Soliman brokered a half-year-long truce last year, which Hamas broke in December, leading to the Israeli invasion of Gaza. He has recently re-started those efforts, with the goal of getting Hamas to agree to a year-long ceasefire, which should give the Egyptians space to bring about their political goal of Palestinian reconciliation under a technocratic, non-partisan government headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/191130

    “Smuggling through the Sinai Peninsula and into Gaza is an old and complicated problem for Egypt. Egypt views a well-armed and powerful Hamas as a national security threat, a point driven home in dramatic fashion by the January 2008 border breach when Hamas bulldozed the old border fence and more than half a million Palestinians poured into Egypt, unchecked and hungry. Since the closure of the Egypt-Gaza border following the June 2007 Gaza takeover by Hamas, most smuggling of consumer goods and weapons has gone underground. The narrow corridor between Egypt and Gaza is as honey-combed with subterranean passageways as a gigantic ant colony.
    6. (S/NF) Although it is not directly in Aboul Gheit’s bailiwick, belonging more to the security and intelligence forces, nonetheless the issue of tunnels and rearming Hamas is the subject of intense scrutiny (by Israel and the Congress), and sensitivity (by the Egyptians). Long criticized by Israel for “not doing enough” to halt arms smuggling via tunnels, the Egyptians have stopped complaining and started acting. Egypt has increased efforts to counter arms smuggling by accelerating its $23 million FMF-funded tunnel detection program along the Egypt-Gaza border and requesting U.S. support to purchase four backscatter X-Ray machines to scan vehicles entering the Sinai for weapons and explosives (note Aboul Ghait may not be of this EGIS-originated request). Egypt also continues to cooperate with Israel, especially via intelligence sharing, to prevent militants from Hamas and other extremist organizations from crossing the Gaza border, and on thwarting militant activity in Egypt. Egyptian efforts are all justified under President Mubarak’s pledge that Egypt with “protect its borders.”"
    “7. (S/NF) Egypt will not take any action that could be perceived as collaboration in Israel’s siege of Gaza, and they have been hyper-sensitive to any suggestion that foreigners are assisting them or overseeing their efforts to counter smuggling. Aboul Gheit publicly distanced Egypt from our January MOU with Israel to combat arms smuggling into Gaza, although he knew about it in advance and consulted with Secretary Rice and me about its contents. The Egyptians do not want to be stuck holding the Gaza bag, and must be able to point the finger of blame at Israel for the plight of the Palestinians. At the same time, Egypt has withstood scathing and widespread criticism in the Arab world for refusing to open the Rafah border crossing to supply Gaza. Even during the height of the December fighting, the Egyptians only sent medicine and medical supplies through the Rafah border; all other humanitarian goods went through the Israeli crossing at Kerem Shalom. They likewise insist that Rafah will only reopen to handle Gazan travellers when the Gazan side is under PA control with EU observers according to the 2005 AMA.”
    “8. (S/NF) Ultimately, Egypt believes that the only realistic and viable solution to erode Hamas’ power and stop arms smuggling is the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza and the opening of Gaza’s border to legitimate trade. While in the short term we can best assist the Egyptians with technical know-how and training, long term counter smuggling success will depend on reducing the financial incentives to smuggling by providing the Sinai Bedouin with legitimate economic opportunities and by regularly opening the Gaza borders to trade, thereby reducing economic incentives to smuggle.”

    Reply

  198. WigWag says:

    “WigWag: the entire Arab world has spent the better part of the last three years begging first the Bush Administration and later the Obama Administration to attack Iran.” There is no part of this statement that is correct. (Don Bacon)
    “This is based on a media story that one Arab leader, the despot King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program…” (Don Bacon)
    Really, Don Bacon? The Arab world hasn’t been calling for an attack against Iran? Is it really only one Arab leader, the Saudi King, who has supported an attack on Iran?
    Unfortunately for you, if the New York Times is reporting the contents of the cables correctly, the cables themselves prove that you are wrong.
    Here’s what the New York Times, reporting on the cables, had to say,
    “…the cables reveal how Iran

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  199. questions says:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-wikileaks?intcmp=239
    The Guardian’s searchable map — click on a country and it’ll tell you what cables mention that country.

    Reply

  200. Don Bacon says:

    We must remember that these cable leaks are going through several filters. The first was Bradley Manning, then Julian Assange, then the newspapers. Decisions were made at each level regarding availability, security and disclosure, meaning that we’re not by any stretch seeing everything, and we will get to see some statements but not their possible counter-statements.
    Embassies, being government agencies, and wanting to look informed and important, send out a ton of stuff every week. We’re seeing a bit of it. But while it’s interesting it’s not definitive, is it.
    the Guardian:
    “The electronic archive of embassy dispatches from around the world was allegedly downloaded by a US soldier earlier this year and passed to WikiLeaks. Assange made them available to the Guardian and four other newspapers: the New York Times, Der Spiegel in Germany, Le Monde in France and El Pa

    Reply

  201. sanitychecker says:

    Is a US diplomat biologically equipped to squirm?
    We’ll soon know.

    Reply

  202. sanitychecker says:

    The concept is childish and the list is revolting. On the other hand, if anyone wonders why this world is so fucked, a brief glance at the list provides the answer.

    Reply

  203. questions says:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,731583,00.html
    “The State Department’s emissaries abroad cultivate a clear-eyed view of the countries they are posted to, a view that is at times incredibly dark. Viewed through the eyes of the US diplomats, entire states — Kenya for example — appear as mires of corruption. If one were to believe the gloomy reports from the embassy in Ankara, Turkey is on a slippery slope to volatile Islamism, spurred on by the narrow-minded government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is portrayed as being reliant on a group of incompetent advisers.
    Even the leadership of a close ally such as Germany emerges in a poor light in the cables. The members of the ruling government coalition in Berlin denigrate each other in comments to the US ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy. For example, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg tattled on his colleague German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, telling the US ambassador that Westerwelle was the real barrier to the Americans’ request for an increase in the number of German troops in Afghanistan. And the US diplomats are rather cool in their assessment of Chancellor Angela Merkel: One dispatch describes her as risk-averse and “rarely creative.” ”
    “The most explosive documents are those that describe developments that relate to major global crises. In the Middle East, the US diplomats report, it is not just the Israelis who fear Iran’s nuclear ambitions. No one speaks quite as angrily about Tehran as the Arabs, who want most of all for the US to supply them with weapons.
    When it comes to Pakistan, the US never quite knows if it is dealing with an ally or an enemy in the war on terror. The diplomats repeatedly report on political or military links between the Pakistanis and the Afghan Taliban.
    And in Yemen the US allowed itself — against its better judgement — to be drawn into President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s conflict with the Houthi in the north of the country, even though their military aid was only supposed to be used in the fight against al-Qaida, which is particularly active in the country.
    The State Department, which has described the cables as “diplomacy in action,” is extremely annoyed that the reports are being released. The Americans share some of the blame, however. In order to improve the flow of information between different officials, the State Department created its own computer network for classified documents, one that 2.5 million US citizens had access to. The leaking of the diplomatic cables was an accident that was waiting to happen. ”
    ********
    Der Spiegel will put out the English language online version on Monday.

    Reply

  204. questions says:

    I think, by the way, that the thinking on I/P was more about the “Arab street” than about the elites.
    These gov’ts are on the wobbly side, with internal contradictions all over the place. That the Saudis are funding A-Q while still helping us is but one massive fault line.
    I’m generally of the opinion that I/P is less of a motivator than, say, Walt, thinks, so I certainly agree that it’s been overemphasized as something that holds the key to peace in the greater ME.
    There was some line recently in the NYT perhaps from maybe it was Petraeus… regarding some pro-Palestinian graffiti somewhere far from Palestine, and that bit of graffiti was remarked on as a signal of the importance of settling the I/P situation.
    If they’re keying on graffiti and not on warnings from Arab gov’ts, at least in public, then that’s certainly interesting in and of itself.
    Remember, also, that the Wikileaks docs point out that Arab nations will retain (not any more, though!!!) plausible deniability. They won’t come out in public and say, “Hey, destroy Iran” but they beg for it in private.
    So what kind of back up can the admin expect, what kind of public face should it take? If they emphasize I/P and get some deal through, suddenly Iran becomes easier to tackle as it becomes clear that I/P isn’t the lynchpin. And there are, as you say, some good reasons for getting I/P settled.
    And let’s face it, taking away one excuse on the Arab street for general pissiness isn’t a bad idea. I/P is likely smaller than basic social repression, but it’s the thing that can be spoken whereas the social repression cannot be. Maybe it’s just a really complex displacement.
    But this is all idle speculation…..

    Reply

  205. paul_lukasiak says:

    “But the release of the Wiki documents proves beyond any reasonable doubt that forging an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is not a prerequisite for putting together a coalition between Israelis and Sunni Arab nations in opposition to Iran.”
    that depends on which cables you read. For instance, this provides the view from Jordan…
    ********
    While Jordanian officials doubt dialogue with the U.S. will convince Iran to withdraw its “tentacles,” they believe they can be severed if Iran is deprived of hot-button issues that make it a hero to many on the Arab street, such as its championing of the Palestinian cause.
    3. (C) According to the GOJ analysis, Iran’s influence derives from the perception that Tehran is able to “deliver” while moderates are not. The main failure of moderates as cited by radicals is ongoing Palestinian suffering and dispossession despite an international consensus favoring a viable, independent Palestinian state living peacefully next to Israel. The MFA’s Deputy Director of the Arab and Middle East Affairs Department, Muwaffaq Ajlouni, put it this way: “Iran is not welcomed in the Arab world, but it is taking advantage of helpless people.” From Jordan’s perspective, the U.S. would benefit from pressing Israel to proceed to final status negotiations, which would garner Arab support to deal with shared security concerns about Iran.
    ********
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/200230
    In other words, Jordan sees resolution of the Palestinian issue as a prerequisite to dealing effectively with Iran’s growing influence.
    It should also be noted that the monarchies that wigwam relies on to create a solution to the Palestine/Israel problem are NOT front line states, but nowhere near the occupied territories.
    Finally, wigwam doesn’t seem to understand the true importance of the cables that have been released so far — they serve to severely undermine the gulf monarchies, whose population is extremely supportive of Palestinian self-determination, and is not going to take kindly to what is clearly a “pro-US/Israel tilt” by their rulers.

    Reply

  206. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag: “. . .the WikiLeaks release is out and one of the main revelations is that the entire Arab world has spent the better part of the last three years begging first the Bush Administration and later the Obama Administration to attack Iran.”
    This is based on a media story that one Arab leader, the despot King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program. Hey, the scare worked, the US and Saudi Arabia agreed to the largest arms sale in history. Saudi Arabia has not endorsed the UN sanctions against Iran.
    The importance of these wikileaks disclosures, as with previous ones, is exaggerated. Nobody in her right mind would base foreign policy decisions on news reports of leaked telegrams.
    The US/Israel propaganda campaign against a non-existent Iran nuclear program of course has Middle East countries on edge. Obama’s “smart diplomacy” has proven to be a dud — the US wouldn’t even accept a Brazil/Turkey/Iran solution to the contrived crisis.
    But Iran’s relations with UAE (which has a new nuclear program), Qatar and Oman are good. The UAE and Qatar were quick to congratulate Ahmadinejad on his re-election victory, and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said traveled to Iran in August. Qatar’s emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani discussed ways to expand economic cooperation with Iran
    There are other claims about Jordan and Bahrain. Jordan last July accused Israel of trying to block Jordan from developing a peaceful nuclear program.King Abdullah: “There are many such reactors in the world and a lot more coming, so [the Israelis must] go mind their own business.”
    Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, two wesks ago: “We assume Iran’s power and progress as our own and other regional countries’ power and we are happy to see that Iran has reached a level of might that no one can inflict any damage on it. He also stressed Iran’s role in the establishment of security and stability in the region, and called on the regional countries to cooperate to remove tensions from the region.
    So these “revelations” that claim that “the entire Arab world” wants the US to attack Iran are nothing of the kind, and in no way does Steve Clemons have to accede to such unsubstantiated claims.
    WigWag: “the entire Arab world has spent the better part of the last three years begging first the Bush Administration and later the Obama Administration to attack Iran.”
    There is no part of this statement that is correct.
    WigWag generally has no use for Arab despots –until they support Israel by dissing Iran. Then they magically become wise and should be listened to!
    Of course there is Arab-Persian enmity, with a strong undercurrent of rivalry between Sunni and Shia Muslims, which dates back centuries. It increased after the overthrow of the shah and the Islamic revolution in 1979, was worswened by the US conversion of Iraq to a Shia state, and is now viewed as a struggle for hegemony in the region. That’s political. Iran also has territorial disputes with Kuwait, Bahrain and UAE, and they even differ on georaphical nomenclature: Arabian Gulf vs. Persian Gulf.
    Regarding nuclear, the fact is that the League of Arab States has long complained about Israel’s very real nuclear threat but not about any unproven threat from Iran.
    Sep 3 10
    IAEA Board of Governors General Conference — In resolution GC(53)/RES/17, adopted on 18 September 2009, the General Conference:
    (a) Expressed

    Reply

  207. questions says:

    WigWag,
    Great post! Thanks! I wasn’t really thinking as of yet about THELOBBY in this context, but yes, indeed, it was certainly a misreading of the “power” of THELOBBY to get a war on.
    I think it’s also probably good to start seeing the context in which Obama functions so that his many seeming failures to keep every promise, and some of his more campaign-oriented promises are actually not such failures after all.
    He seems to have had a lot on his plate, a lot of multi-nation deals to try to strike. All the wheeling and dealing that we’ve been doing makes the Republican game playing on the START treaty look all the more foolish, by the way.
    I think I will very much enjoy your posts on this for the next few days as we all churn through snippets and analysis.
    For now, I’m happy playing with Zizekian themes for the day. They seem so apt.

    Reply

  208. DonS says:

    “The cables prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Saudis and the others are far more interested in Iran than in the plight of the Palestinians.”
    It proves no such Wig Wagian assertion.
    It shows only that Arabs, like most, can entertain two simultaneous agendas.
    And since when is it news that Sunni Arab regimes in the ME have been enemies of Iran?
    Wig Wag sells only the baloney, bolstered by NYT non news, that she chooses.

    Reply

  209. WigWag says:

    Questions, I agree that there are plenty of reasons why peace between Israelis and Palestinians would be a good thing. But the release of the Wiki documents proves beyond any reasonable doubt that forging an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians is not a prerequisite for putting together a coalition between Israelis and Sunni Arab nations in opposition to Iran. The Obama Administration’s public declarations that there is a connection between an Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement on one hand and Iran policy on the other has proven to be a lie.
    Of course it wasn’t the Israelis or the Sunni Arab nations that the Administration was lying to. The released cables make it glaringly obvious that the Israelis and the Sunni Arab nations must have had numerous discussions about their mutual desire to see Iranian power cut down to size. It was the American public and the publics in nations around the world that the Obama Administration was lying to when it claimed that Israeli-Palestinian peace and a coalition against Iran were somehow intimately connected.
    By the way, the cables also prove beyond any reasonable doubt what a fool Steve Walt is. Walt has used his blog and his public appearances to make the case that if the United States attacks Iran it will be the American Jewish community and especially American Jewish neoconservatives who are to blame. Walt has actually gone so far as to suggest that if the U.S. attacks Iran and it results in an imbroglio that American Jews are likely to be blamed by an outraged public.
    Of course Walt’s theory fits right in with his anti-Semitic paranoia. The thought of Jews, acting in what they view their common interests to be, is scary enough for a bigot like Walt; add in his paranoia about neoconservatives and it

    Reply

  210. questions says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29spy.html?hp
    “While several international treaties prohibit spying at the United Nations, it is an open secret that countries try nevertheless. In one embarrassing episode in 2004, a British official revealed that the United States and Britain eavesdropped on the conversations of Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations in the weeks before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. ”
    ******
    Everyone spies on everyone. We all know this. We just don’t ever say in polite society that we all know this!

    Reply

  211. questions says:

    This too, is interesting:
    “When Mr. Obama took office, many allies feared that his offers of engagement would make him appear weak to the Iranians. But the cables show how Mr. Obama

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  212. PissedOffAmerican says:

    A top FP “global thinker” practices constructive global thinking. I wonder what her deep thoughts told her we could do with the stolen DNA???
    We really have taken over as the global “evil Empire”, you know. We are writing our legacy in stone, and history will not be kind. Our leaders are scum, just as criminal and bloodthirsty as yesterday’s villains were. Is there anyone reading this that is actually PROUD of what we are becoming??? (Except Nadine, of course, who won’t rest until our depravity equals that of Adolph Hitler or Idi Amin. Take heart, Nadine, we’re almost there.)
    http://news.antiwar.com/2010/11/28/hillary-clinton-ordered-diplomats-to-steal-un-officials-credit-card-numbers/
    Hillary Clinton Ordered Diplomats to Steal UN Officials

    Reply

  213. questions says:

    And this from page two of the NYT bullet list:
    “A senior American diplomat told a German official

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  214. questions says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29cables.html?_r=1&hp
    This is the NYT bullet point list of points. Obama tried to get other countries to take Gitmo prisoners, really really tried. Might be good to rethink the condemnations of him on the failure to close Gitmo given that there were just some unplaceable people there.
    My favorite line so far is this:

    Reply

  215. WigWag says:

    Yes, Questions, the WikiLeaks release is out and one of the main revelations is that the entire Arab world has spent the better part of the last three years begging first the Bush Administration and later the Obama Administration to attack Iran. If anything, the release proves that the Arab word is, if anything, even more obsessed with Iran than Israel is.
    Amongst the Arab leaders begging the U.S. Administration to attack Iran (or encourage the Israelis to do the job) are Saudi Arabia (according to the New York Times the Saudi King “repeatedly implored Washington to

    Reply

  216. PissedOffAmerican says:

    What a joke. Obama close to the front of this list? You gotta be kidding me.
    I note none of the Israeli leaders are on the list.
    Really, the list is simply chaffe, anyway. It is not great thinkers that have historically guided mankind through history, on the contrary, it is the wackjobs, the megalomaniacs, and the criminally insane.
    Who on this list has consigned Barack Obama to being a mere vassal of a foreign power that operates increasingly against the interests of the United states? And Barack is the great thinker???? Gimmee a break. Netanyahu has out-thought the posturing jackass at every juncture.
    Who on this list has committed actions that has sent a United States’ carrier group scurrying for foreign shores, possibly bringing us to the brink of WWIII?
    Who on this list has provided the justification for the expenditure of trillions of dollars in draconian security measures, war on two fronts, the evisceration of our rights and rule of law???
    Seems to me that the list is misdirected. The list that determines our future will be a list of DOERS, not THINKERS. Put Bin Laden on the head of that list, with Kim Jong doing his best to kick him off, and that fucker Netanyahu trying claw his way to the top by throwing a live grenade on Achtungainthebad, who is chasing all three of these contestants to the top of the list.
    In case you all haven’t noticed, its not “deep thought” that usually determines mankind’s fate.

    Reply

  217. questions says:

    Wikileaks would appear to be out too.
    A new generation of transparency in government.
    Sadly, it’ll turn out that we already knew what Wikileaks will tell us.
    It’s positively Zizekian — we all know this thing that we don’t know and we’ll be shocked at coming to know what we already know.
    Not knowing is actually knowing, in an odd twist of things.
    So yes, the State Dept. spies. And yes even diplomats are testy in “private” and yes, countries interfere with one another’s internal affairs and have a preference for getting someone else to do their dirty work.
    We know this already. But now with Wikileaks, we’ll have to find some nice way to paper over the knowledge.
    It’s honestly right there with the body scans. We can tell you have a beer gut, and we can tell you have a set of genitals. But with the Rapiscan image, we can tell you have a beer gut and we can tell you have a set of genitals.
    We are a funny creature.

    Reply

  218. Dan Kervick says:

    I can strongly recommend Vaclav Smil.

    Reply

  219. WigWag says:

    More evidence of how stupid the FP list really is:
    As long as FP thinks Tariq Ramadan is one of the world’s “greatest thinkers” (Ramadan, in a debate with Nicholas Sarkozy, couldn’t bring himself to condemn the Sharia sanctioned punishment of stoning adulterous women to death)why did they leave off the list Ramadan’s soul brother, Omar al-Bashir?
    Sure al-Bashir has been indicted for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan by the International Criminal Court, but we know that in reality he’s really innocent of the crime of genocide.
    How do we know?
    Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan (who has himself denied the Turkish genocide against Armenians) has assured us that Muslims can’t commit genocide.
    Come on FP; you found room on your “great thinkers” list for Ramadan; can’t you spare a little space for al-Bashir?

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  220. WigWag says:

    The whole concept of this list is beyond stupid; who cares who FP (or its owner, the Washington Post Corporation) thinks are the top “100 thinkers?” What exactly is a “thinker” anyway? One is reminded of the statue by Rodin that sits in the Courtyard outside the Rodin Museum in Paris. It’s hard to picture anyone on FP’s list who would look good captured in stone.
    I do see that Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her gentleman friend, Niall Ferguson both made the list. So did the contemptible Ian Buruma whose main claim to fame in recent years was his snarky, obnoxious description of Hirsi-Ali who had her genitals mutilated while still a young girl Somalia, lived through the murder of her friend Theo Van Gogh who was gunned down in the street by a Muslim extremist and travels everywhere accompanied by body guards because several fatwas have been issued against her by various Muslim religious authorities.
    That great “thinker” Buruma criticizes Hirsi-Ali’s “attitude and style” and ridicules her for being uppity. Perhaps FP is rewarding Buruma for not going quite as far as fellow NYRB member of the fascist-left, Timothy Garton Ash, who chivalrically told us that if Hirsi Ali “had been short, squat and squinting, her story and her views might not have been so closely attended to.” The final member of NYRB’s fascist triumvirate, Tony Judt whose voice has now mercifully been silenced, referred to Hirsi Ali as an “enlightenment fundamentalist.”
    Tony Judt was considered by many to be the greatest historian of contemporary Europe; Garton Ash is considered one of the greatest living historian-journalists and now we are told by FP that Ian Buruma is one of the world’s greatest living

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  221. Don Bacon says:

    Barack Obama made the list of course. Why? After listing his failures, FP states: “But Obama is still arguably the developed world’s most popular leader, even if the American public judges him more harshly, and he is slowly but surely inventing a new kind of U.S. leadership to go along with his vision of an America that once again projects its power through the force of its ideas.”
    I don’t think that Obama’s continued reliance upon military force vs. the smart diplomacy that he promised is particularly idea-based, thus disqualifying him from this award.
    We see currently how Obama works, with regard to his approach to Korea vs. China’s.
    The China diplomatic approach:
    The chairman of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly will visit China from Tuesday, the official Xinhua news agency said on Sunday, while a senior Chinese diplomat was in Seoul for talks on the tense confrontation between the two Koreas.
    The US military approach:
    The two presidents [US & ROK] agreed to hold combined military exercises and enhanced training in the days ahead to continue the close security cooperation between our two countries, and to underscore the strength of the alliance and the commitment to peace and security in the region.
    This is an indication of why China has been successful in the world and the US has not.
    Despite China’s successes, on the FP list the only Chinese are Zhou Xiaochuan, the former head of the People’s Bank who is currently missing; Liu Xiaobo, a human rights activist who called for democratic reforms and the end of communist one-party rule; and Hu Shuli, an accomplished journalist, educator and business-woman. There are over thirty Americans on the list (but no bloggers!).
    If American thinking is so effective then why are various US features doing so poorly and trending downward, including: economy, citizen welfare, national and personal financial, police state, military, education and healthcare?

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  222. paul_lukasiak says:

    most notable, imho, is the inclusion of Obama and both Clintons, and the lack of either Bush Sr or Jr.
    …or Condi Rice or Colin Powell (but John Bolton was included!?!?!?)

    Reply

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