• lexington50 commented on the diary post MENA Mashup: Kobane, ISIS, and our MIC by CTuttle.

    2014-10-11 23:55:53View | Delete

    The Arabization of Rojava, Kurdistan of Syria is on a grand scale

    Is it just me, or is the narrative on ISIS already turning into a repeat of the Ukrainian crisis, which treated us to the spectacle of Russian nationalist bloggers convincing many shamefully ill informed Westerners of 3 impossible things before breakfast. It seems the [...]

  • Erdogan in Turkey is a conservative Islamist and a traditional nationalist. As a result, short of being forced, he won’t do anything to help Syrian or Iraqi Kurds, and while ISIS is too extreme even for him.

    Perhaps more Islamist then nationalist, certainly for the liking of the guardians of Ataturk’s legacy. That does not imply he is necessarily sympathetic to ISIS – contrary to how it is typically portrayed in the West Islamism isn’t a monolithic belief system to which all observant Muslims mindlessly defer.

    That having been said Erdogan has to practical reasons for not embracing the Kurdish cause: first, Turkish nationalism has long regarded Kurdish nationalism (however improbably) as potentially an existential thread to the country’s integrity; and second, overtly supporting the Kurds against ISIS would alienate many of his own supporters and potentially fan the flames of sectarian violence within Turkey.

  • The “no go” suggestion wasn’t from other visiting Americans, though. Heard nothing about it before or since.

    I get that, but I mention it because it’s a popular theme in the right wing echo chamber.

    There are any number of reasons people might have felt impelled to give you that advice, including (a) being (I assume) American, they might have felt this was an issue to which you were sensitive, or (b) (more likely) they were projecting their own insecurities on you. Or both. As I said, Europe’s ambivalence to its immigrant populations is a major source of tension and one which is seriously testing its capacity for political accommodation.

  • I haven’t been in Europe since 1998, but recall from then. In Munich there was a substantial Turkish “neighborhood” which was really a ghetto. A cheap labor pool no doubt.

    My hotel near the main train station advised not going through there on foot. Desk agent pointed on a map, as in “you are *here.* ” Then, pointing out the door and left, “it’s thataway.”

    Many European cities have quarters populated by people from abroad, whether from Turkey, North Africa, or further afield. Many are now 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants who were born in Europe. Their presence is seriously straining the social fabric in many countries, as witnessed by the rise of parties typically described as “right wing” and “anti immigration” in the media.

    These quarters are routinely described as “no go” zones by the American right and held forth as an example how bleeding heart European liberalism has let the Islamist fox into the chicken coop. This instinctively resonates with Americans who are all too familiar with the reality of racial segregation and urban violence in American cities. As your own experience indicates this is generally a bad analogy however. I’ve been in many of these quarters at all hours of the day and night in both large and small cities and never felt threatened. After dark the locals can be cagey about outsiders but I’ve never experienced any overt hostility, which would offend Muslim sensibilities regarding goodwill and hospitality.

    Of course if there is a riot in progress, as has happened in rare instances in the past, it’s better to steer clear ;)

  • A critical fact absent from Wright’s post is that many Turks demonstrated in support of ISIS, often leading to clashes with pro Kurdish protesters. It should be remembered that Recep Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party is at least latently Islamicist (the party officially rejects that label because since the founding the modern Turkish republic the elite has been extremely hostile to mixing Islam and politics, with the army repeatedly overthrowing governments it deemed insufficiently secular). In Istanbul the headquarters of the pro Kurdish Democratic Peoples’ Party was attacked, while Kurdish supporters set fire to a building housing the ultranationalist National Movement party.

    Point is, Turkish society is not of one mind about ISIS, but predictably the MSM can’t cope with complexity so rather than examine the issue from the perspective of different segments of Turkish society they’ve decided to only report on the Kurdish one, who are less than 10% of the population but whose cause dovetails nicely with the agenda of Western interventionists.

  • Wikipedia: Federal State of Novorossiya

    You are clearly an artificial intelligence program written by the NSA. But not a very good one. Your inability to make an argument or understand what other people write amounts to a failure of the Turing test.

    The NSA artificial intelligence program is correct.

    If you actually read the article to which you linked you would have seen the very first sentence reads “The Federal State of Novorossiya…(New Russia) is an unrecognised confederation of Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic…”

    More specifically it is a propaganda invention of Russian nationalists used to create cover for Russian aggression against the Ukraine by creating the impression among the misguided and poorly informed that Russia has some legitimate historical claim to Ukrainian territory.

  • If the government in Kiev agrees to provide more autonomy to East Ukraine there could be a foundation for the stable peace President Poroshenko claims to be seeking.


    The separatists don’t want “more autonomy”, they want to join Russia, and have been very clear about this, including staging a sham “referendum” to give their actions a veneer of respectability.

    At best the situation in the Ukraine will become another “frozen” conflict like Trans-Dniestr or Nagorno-Karabakh, with the region gaining some sort of quasi-autonomy but without international recognition. At worst it will simply be annexed outright by Russia just as the Crimea was.

  • lexington50 commented on the diary post How China Views the Ukraine Conflict by fairleft.

    2014-08-31 22:14:46View | Delete

    Lex broke his/her arm patting him/herself on the back & had to go to the doc to get it fixed.

    Yeah, well, if I wasn’t right so often I wouldn’t have to pat myself on the back so much ;) At least I know my limits though. I don’t try to compete in the throwing verbal [...]

  • lexington50 commented on the diary post How China Views the Ukraine Conflict by fairleft.

    2014-08-31 22:11:31View | Delete

    Creditable Sources the Nazi Ukrainian government we gave $5 billion too? White House, Pentagon sources the same ones that lied us into the Iraq war? But but the Media does their own Investigation and Vets their sources Maureen Dowd use to joke about Judy Miller reporting ” in bed ” because Judy slept with her sources.


  • lexington50 commented on the diary post How China Views the Ukraine Conflict by fairleft.

    2014-08-31 08:57:54View | Delete

    So let me see if I have this straight: substantial credible evidence that Russian forces are in the Ukraine is dismissed out of hand because it is ideologically unacceptable, but political commentary from the People’s Daily – i.e. the official mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China – is uncritically accepted as “solid common-sense analysis”? [...]

  • Note for the record, you did not answer the question.

    That’s because I reject the premise. If Demian’s tender conscience is offended by the deaths of a couple of thousand people in the midst of an armed conflict then I would suggest that the logic of their position requires them to acknowledge that the American Civil War, in which well over half a million people died and which featured such notorious episodes as General Sherman burning Atlanta to the ground, was a genocide perpetrated by the American government against its own citizens.

    Worse than the Nazis, indeed.

  • How can you support a country that uses artillery and air strikes against its own people? Even the Nazis didn’t do that.

    The Kiev junta is worse than the Nazis, and yet you support it.

    There are facts, and then there is mindless “my team right or wrong” chauvinism. When you equate pointing out inconvenient facts with supporting the Kiev “junta” and claim it is worse than the Nazis then you’re indulging in mindless chauvinism, of which there has been a veritable deluge in relation to the Ukrainian crisis.

    The etiology is hard to pin down but it seems to be related to a combination of very deficient critical thinking skills and an overindulgence in the pro-Russian propaganda being disseminated by Saker and Bernhard.

  • Putin is playing chess. The US/EU is playing checkers…

    They have been invaded three times in the last two centuries.

    There will be no Grand Army. There will be no Eastern Front. There will be no Stalingrad nouveau.

    There will be Hell to pay.

    Obviously an advanced case of russophilia dementia.

    Since you bring it up, wasn’t the Ukraine also invaded in the three instances to which you refer, and didn’t millions of Ukrainians die in those conflicts?

    And since you fail to mention it, exactly how many countries has Russia invaded since Napoleon? Off the top of my head I can think of Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland (the parts annexed in 1939 as a result of its alliance with Nazi Germany are still part of its successor states), Germany (in 1914), Georgia, Afghanistan, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Clearly the Ruskies give at least as good as they take in that department.

    The good news is that if you lay off the kool aid now the damage might not be irreversible.

  • lexington50 commented on the diary post Colbert Swallows the Hill-Pill by patrick devlin.

    2014-08-08 22:01:07View | Delete

    Colbert has the capacity to ask tough questions, even if the goal is to get a laugh. What we saw on Tuesday was a self-neutered Colbert performing an awkward and unfunny fake interview. As others have said you knew this was coming when it was announced that Colbert would take over the Late Show from Letterman [...]

  • lexington50 commented on the diary post 1776: A Good Thing or Not? Reflections on the American Revolution by stewartm.

    2014-07-06 11:42:15View | Delete

    I contrast to the previous poster I thought this was excellent and timely. Just wanted to add with regard to the Franco-American relationship that the Founding Fathers cribbed many of their ideas from French political thinkers like Jean Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu. In America this fact has been deliberately suppressed in favor of the more [...]

  • I don’t want to make too much out of this, but it could be a sign of political maturity. At least Poland has come some way since the then president said, by way of explaining his country’s support for the invasion of Iraq, “[George W. Bush's] priorities are my priorities”.

    Of course back then the Poles were grateful that the US had not honored its pledge to Russia not to extent NATO into Eastern Europe, because they believed NATO membership was their best guarantee against a re-assertion of Russian influence in the region.

  • lexington50 commented on the blog post Sarah Kendzior’s Unwanted Twitter Adventure

    2014-06-10 13:40:43View | Delete

    So what have learned from Sarah Kendzior’s unwanted Twitter adventure?

    That the Internet is filled with pseudo-intellectual posseurs who claim to be interested in ideas but really just want to dish puerile gossip about each other?

  • lexington50 commented on the blog post Is Horizontal Socialism Unworkable?

    2014-06-03 13:55:02View | Delete

    The only proven alternative to “anarcho-liberalism” model for such wide scale organizing would be the Communist International which the democratic left ran screaming from generations ago and collapsed along with the Soviet Union.

    Really? That statement seems to be based on complete ignorance of the history of socialism and social democracy in Europe between about 1900 and 1980. The European left was a major force for most of the 20th century but only the far left fell within the orbit of the Comintern, which btw was dissolved during World War II, almost 50 years before the Soviet Union collapsed.

    For that matter in the one country in which the the Communists triumphed with a revolution from below they did so with a hierarchical, tightly disciplined organization directed from above and highly skilled at subversion – the exact opposite of the Occupy model.

    Historical trivia aside I don’t see the Occupy model as having a lot of promise for effecting major change. Challenging the status quo means defining a program and having the discipline to pursue it tenaciously over a period of years or even decades, which are requirements better met by a traditional political party that a defuse movement like Occupy, which could much more readily define what it was against than what it was for.

  • lexington50 commented on the blog post Piketty’s Perfectly Plausible Proposal

    2014-06-01 17:05:42View | Delete

    Economists – and most especially American economists – are deeply offended by the idea of the government expropriating wealth from the rentier class to address income inequality. It offends every conceit of market efficiency which they have ever been taught. They would much rather believe that the problem can be adequately addressed by tweaking various markets to achieve the desired outcome – for example by tweaking the labour market by strengthening unions or tweaking the capital market by changing tax policy on investment income. The problem is that economic policy rests on a political substructure that largely determines its content, and the existing political substructure is unalterably hostile to any such “reform” (most economists don’t get this because the discipline decided that political and historical literacy were not only superfluous but potentially harmful to understanding economic theory decades ago).

    Some would argue the same criticism applies to Piketty’s proposal for confiscatory taxation, which is true to a degree, but confiscatory taxation has the advantage of being relatively transparent and hence much less susceptible to being diluted, undermined or negated by “special interests” than the market reforms advocated by people like James Galbraith.

    Piketty’s proposal also has the virtue of putting front and center something American economists as a group live in existential fear of acknowledging: that politics is fundamentally about class interest and that in a democracy there is nothing opprobious about public policy reflecting the class interest of the majority.

  • lexington50 commented on the diary post America: Canada and Europe’s willing chump by danps.

    2014-05-23 15:17:26View | Delete

    For instance, Canada has been at best ambivalent about building pipelines for its Alberta tar sands. That depends on what you mean by “Canada”. The Conservatives who control the Canadian government are 100% in the tank with the energy sector, to the extent they have imposed gag orders on government scientists, ripped up the Kyoto Accord, [...]

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