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September 16, 2014

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Let the Scottish succession be a guide for the rest of world (ya durn Lowlander!), as smaller is better and it will show the way for populations in other places (Kurds, Pashtuns, Mayans, etc.) to break away from their exploiters (that is if they will let them go peaceably).

And whats wrong with the planet being divided into thirds, what happened to a really good Imperialist leader?

Juan from Baja Arizona
finally dumped those kooks up north.

I'm standing with Braveheart and Scotland. The hotel in London charged me $25 for a Jack and Coke. Give me a fair priced drink or give me death.

Jon said:"Western Europe is a wonderful place — I would probably go to Scandinavia if I were thirty"

Jon better yet even at 74 (except no Sahuaros)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/16/jose-mujica-gitmo-busines_n_5829836.html

Ruben I am German and Scottish English
but that world is to dense for me and the unless your in a back street pub with a Tommy or Limey the rest of the Brits are more than a bit of a bore.

And despite the (mythical) reputation of Scotland Yard it took an curious private party to solve Jack the Ripper case after a few hundred years

So vote for Sean Connery and the Scots independence.

From Russia with love Rosa Klebb and her new recruit Putin to fill in for Donald "Red" Grant as an assassin in the rebirth of Mother Russia.

Now you're 74??

Weren't you 71 at the start of the year??

"Juan from Baja Arizona"
I had to think about it for awhile.

This is funny too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YkLPxQp_y0#t=288

I wonder, should we offer them statehood, or just protectorate status?

Scotland vote links:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n17/lrb-scotland/reflections-on-the-independence-referendum

http://www.independent.co.uk/scotlanddebate/scotland-independence-the-nation-formerly-known-as-the-uk-9736719.html

http://blogs.reuters.com/mark-leonard/2014/09/16/why-scotland-looks-like-the-canary-in-the-independence-coalmine/

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/buchanan/scotland-carries-the-global-flag-of-secession/

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/09/why-scotland-should-vote-yes/

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/view_from_chicago/2014/09/scottish_independence_isn_t_crazy_irresponsible_or_childish.html

http://www.salon.com/2014/09/16/scotland_took_long_road_to_independence_vote/

And who said England and France you take a third, the US will take a third and we will just exploit (my word) the other third

I think Scotland seceding is a terrible idea. Texas, on the other hand...

2050 Texas will be in Mexico.

I thought IS/ISIL/ISIS was going to take over TX? I heard they are massing at the border!

Hasn't Chiapas pretty much left the United States of Mexico?

More links from the Front Page Editor:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/09/scotland_s_referendum_to_leave_the_united_kingdom_scots_are_voting_yes_for.html

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/17/us-scotland-independence-regions-insight-idUSKBN0HC0B620140917

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/16/canada-wants-scotland-vote-yes-end-of-britishness

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-09-17/scotland-be-brave-and-go-it-alone

It won't mean anything to the U.S. because the referendum will be defeated. At least, it was in the late 1990s when it first appeared as a news story on CNN. I remember watching it on an aged Zenith console TV. Bill Clinton was president at the time, so it isn't a sci-fi "time loop" where everything happens exactly the same and in the same order.

Too bad I can't recall the exact vote count. I'm tempted to say that it was polled ahead of time as a close vote, but in the actual result was defeated by a surprisingly larger margin; but I can't be sure in THAT respect whether my memory is accurate.

What does it mean when this, and numerous other news stories from more than 15 years ago regularly appear on CNN? When many of the same newscasters and panelists look exactly as they did nearly 20 years ago, no aging? When the same music and movies get released as "new" after a separation of many years, and even old obituaries are printed, not as anniversary notices but as new death notices? What does it mean when the original archival evidence and all records of the first such instances, disappears from concrete existence as soon as the second appearance occurs? What does it mean when nobody but me comments on these obvious anomalies?

Getting back to the as-ifness of things, sorry I missed the ISIS thread. I do have a few comments.

First, I think it's really odd the way the ISIS "beheading" videos were hyped as horribly gruesome, when in fact they were just halloweenish. There was no beheading shown. Just a lot of gassy propaganda, then a pretend start to the beheading (but no blood despite a large, apparently sharp knife being drawn repeatedly across the neck of the "victim"). Then a fade to black.

After the fade to black the video shows a body with a severed head on it. OK, that's gruesome enough. Not much by contemporary standards, though. Especially not in a "culture" where movies like Saw and Hostel are promoted as "entertainment".

Some guy dressed all in black, with a big knife, and a breathy voice that reminds me of the character The Humongous in the movie The Road Warrior. Theater. I'm surprised he doesn't rasp, "Obama, you insolent puppy..."

Why he's regarded as a Brit I don't know. Supposedly this is the result of audio analysis of his accent. But CNN made the mistake of playing a couple of lines of audio once or twice, and he sounds to me definitely like someone for whom English is a second language. Heavy foreign accent. Of course, he could have learned English from someone with a British accent, either inside or outside of Britain, without ever having visited Britain himself, much less being a citizen. It's crazy. And add to that the fact that the dialogue could have been dubbed in by anyone, at any time, anywhere in post-production. Yet the authorities claim they have identified him.

Is the head even the same as the head belonging to the live individual in the earlier portion of the video? I don't know. It would be easy to obtain a body from an executed criminal or from the battlefield, or a morgue. Dress it up the same way. Put it in a video where the strong suggestion of a beheading misleads the viewer into jumpting to conclusions.

I'd like to examine a good clear large still-frame from this portion of the video, to look for telltale differences (hair, facial bone structure, nose and ears, eyebrows, etc.); but for some reason it seems that every copy of these videos has been expunged from the Internet. I follow links which claim to have them up in perpetuity, and the links are broken or there is a notice in Dutch or some other language that the material no longer exists. Kind of magical, really, in a decentralized mass medium where anybody and his neighbor can put up a private link, and where the notoriety of the video has supposedly drummed up massive interest.

(Cont. next comment)

As we discuss the possibility of an orderly re-ordering of nation-states across the pond, I would just like to note - for those who may be interested - that this is my kind of porn:

Chris Hedges Has 15 Minutes to Start a Revolution

(Two minutes in, he provokes the heckle: "You're an anti-Semitic idiot!")

...Then there's the fact that the Foley and Sotloff "beheading" videos appeared in the late 1990s, at least in my universe. How many times can somebody be beheaded? For that matter, how many times can the WTC be attacked by jet planes? How many times can the same (ridiculous) "underwear bomber", using a device supposedly designed by a genius bombmaker (that fails to do anything but smoke and burn), be arrested for the same crime? But I digress.

Returning to the as-ifness of things. The latest military plan. Well, first of all, isn't it interesting, in the rush to condemn President Obama for his "JV team" comments, that he's being blamed for the rapidity of ISIS' gains in Iraq? I mean, the President (not just this president, but any of them) gets his information from intelligence briefings. So, if this was a surprise, it was a massive intelligence failure by the CIA. (No surprise there!)

Congress is current voting on whether to arm and train the so-called moderates in Syria. A little late. The CIA has been training and arming them since Spring of this year, in a covert program. A couple thousand so far. So really, the vote is whether to give authority to the Defense Department and to do this overtly.

Next, the Free Syrian Army. Putting aside questions of how moderate they are (and the group contains a number of factions under one banner); putting side the reported signing of a non-aggression pact between them and the so-called Islamic State (ISIS); there's the fact that they have about 5,000 members. Also the fact that those members contain comparatively few experienced, well-trained fighters. After all, most of the gains against the Assad regime have been the work of Al Nusra, ISIS, and other radical muslim groups in Syria.

Well, suddenly according to the CIA estimates ISIS has grown from 10,000 to perhaps 20 to 30 thousand. But hardly anyone notes that about half of those are Iraqis who have joined up to fight against the Shia controlled central government. They won't be running off to Syria to fight the Free Syrian Army anytime soon.

Furthermore, ISIS can't pull all its Iraq based fighters out to attack the Free Syrian Army. So, the ratio of fighters isn't really the big problem here. It's the quality of the fighters. It's also the fact that the main objective of the Free Syrian Army is to overthrow the Assad regime, not ISIS controlled territories. Despite some infighting, these groups all have the same goal and that goal has been to oust Assad; hence they've been working together more than against each other, even if they don't particularly like one another.

Furthermore, the Free Syrian Army needs to defend its gains against the Assad government. If they stop fighting Assad and his Iranian help, how can they hold territory, or maintain the safety of their flanks? They would have to fight both the Syrian government and ISIS at the same time. They simply don't have the resources, even if they had the will and the ability (which they don't).

Keep in mind that Assad has an airforce. He has been pounding ISIS positions in northern Syria and elsewhere in Syria (and other rebel groups) mercilessly for three years. Close to 200,000 deaths have resulted. He has an army equipped with modern large arms courtesy of Russia. Now he has the help of seasoned urban guerilla fighters from Iran (and THEY have at least slowed and reversed some of the rebels' advance). But after all this, he STILL hasn't regained control of rebel territory. He still hasn't degraded and destroyed ISIS in Syria. Why would the U.S., which doesn't have an army there, be able to accomplish that, with a smattering of airstrikes?

ISIS has captured several Syrian airbases in the north. That means they have potentially captured the technicians who run Syria's air defense system there, as well as the surface to air radar and missile systems. I don't expect ISIS to have the technical capability to run this, but they don't have to: they can threaten the captured technicians, or their kidnapped families, or bribe them massively, or both, to get their cooperation. A downed U.S. plane with captured personnel is probably the beginning of a ground war there, with U.S. personnel.

In Iraq, the Sunnis are thus far siding with ISIS against the Shia controlled central government. That's why the Iraqi army hasn't moved to retake ISIS controlled terrority in the Anbar province. It isn't just ISIS, it's the Sunni tribes in general. It would be civil war, and its outcome would be in doubt, and bloody and prolonged in any case. So, they can't. The Kurds are good for some limited tactical operations, especially with covert (CIA attached) covert U.S. special-ops imbedded with and advising/leading them, and with U.S. air support; but that's it.

Also: we haven't been too quick to arm the Kurds for the simple reason that Turkey is a major ally and the Kurds have been waging a decades long guerrilla war to take a large chunk of Turkey for their own homeland. Ever hear of the PKK? They signed a cease-fire with Turkey last year, but that could change in future. It's a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. They're a Marxist group which has been officially designated by the U.S. as terrorists. Many of the "Peshmerga" fighters you hear about fighting ISIS are actually PKK. They were the ones who supposedly escorted "tens of thousands" of Yazidis to safety in Kurdistan from Mount Sinjar.

(cont.)

Pace yourself, Emil. This is a major rathole you're jumping into here. Not saying I don't appreciate it, but there is the possibility of overheating or outright burnout. :)

(This is not to denigrate the observations you've made and the questions you're posing. I'm thinking about what you're writing.)

Petro very good
need more of this porn

Don't forget also, that the U.S. and coalition partners HAD boots on the ground in Iraq for nearly a decade. There were about 200,000 troops. We had our army there, and European helpers, and airstrikes, and ran an occupation government, and STILL didn't manage to get rid of Al Quaeda in Iraq and its Baathist and other Sunni allies (all of whom figure into the latest situation also), until the so-called Anbar awakening, when the Sunni tribes themselves (most of them) aligned with the United States.

They ran the villages. They knew who was Al Qaeda and who wasn't, and had the local intelligence networks the U.S. couldn't manage to create. They also had the light-infantry counter-insurgency skills needed to defeat urban guerrilla fighters -- skills the U.S. army with its reliance on stand-off weaponry, and big, loud, predictable military columns, didn't bother to develop.

Of course, a lot of those Sunnis were bought off, and a lot of pressure was put on them too. Now, we don't have a presence there. Yet, somehow, supposedly, the Kurds and the Shia half of the Iraqi army is going to do what the multinational, multiyear coalition could not: get rid of ISIS. And in Syria, the Free Syrian Army will do the same. Riiiiight.

ISIS poses no immediate threat to the United States. Unlike Al Qaeda, they are concerned with establishing a caliphate and purging their own domain of the "close enemy" (Shia apostates) before turning their sights on the "infidels". Or rather, that was the case. They (supposedly) beheaded the first victim, Foley, in response to U.S. bomb strikes after the Mosul Dam was retaken. The more the U.S. aligns its own interests with those of the "close enemy", the more likely it is that ISIS will, in frustration or (if we're successful) desperation, turn to attacking the United States directly, in a fashion designed (however misguidedly) to get U.S. public opinion in opposition to U.S. military involvement.

So, essentially, the U.S. has taken a stick to a hornet's nest, without a plan or any realistic way to accomplish productive goals. Young men will be sent to Iraq and possibly Syria (the wishy-washy Obama administrations claims notwithstanding) to have their legs blown off, for nothing. U.S. "precision" bombing will inevitably cause civilian casualties, however inadvertently, as schools, hospitals, residences, and other non-military structures are hit, thus drumming up more recruits for ISIS. Groups who currently have cool relations or else spend most of their time fighting one another, will be unified against U.S. intervention, because they like us even less than each other. The Big Fight against the decadent western infidels will draw in tens of thousands more foreign islamic radical fighters. A whole new generation will be trained and battle-hardened. Those sitting on the sidelines will be radicalized.

Petro, I'll strike while the iron is hot. I don't always feel like commenting or even managing to get to the library where I have Internet access.

Emil, if you dont fell the tree we will not hear the noise. So keep your axe sharp and continue the good works.

I'm with you Emil. Excellent commentary. I'll only add that those 200,000 "boots" were there to keep the supply lines open for the military base, er, embassy, er, supermall in Baghdad. :)

(And other imperialistic functions, of course - just feeling a bit comedic-ally reductionist at the moment.)

Yea, cal - Hedges gets my blood up. Need a bit of that now and then (love when he taunts the NSA during the presentation.)

Great stuff, Emil. I appreciate all the comments from the gang, too.

Another:

http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/can-great-britain-survive-scottish-vote

Two other points:

First, Iran isn't going to cooperate (at least not overtly) with anti-ISIS activities, as long as this is perceived as advancing U.S. interests. If the United States would only butt out, rest assured that Iran (which is a Shia muslim run religious dictatorship) would do whatever was necessary to protect its proxy government in Baghdad, not to mention its own national interests, since it's right next door. ISIS would spend years fighting with Iranians or their proxies or surrogates in a futile attempt to expand their sphere of influence.

Second, as far as other threats to the region are concerned, the Jordanians, Egyptians, and Saudis are more than capable of defending themselves against invasion by conventional armies (which ISIS doesn't have at present and is unlikely to have any time very soon). The U.S. could also easily and effectively help by providing air support and arms and other resources, in their defense.

If the U.S. is concerned about regional stability, the best thing would be to step in to help the capable (but resource starved) Jordanians and other regional allies create a ring of steel around ISIS.

There is also a big question, if the Saudis are supposedly scared shitless about ISIS coming to overthrow the Saud dynasty and take over Mecca and Medina, why they don't take action themselves. Jordan has sent some 60,000 men as peacekeepers to various countries. Saudi has the largest fleet of F-15 fighters of any country in the world except for the United States and Japan.

A coalition of regional Arab governments ought to be able to deal with this problem, if they really felt compelled to do so, with U.S. supplemented arms, training, logistical support, and financial aid. Instead, the Saudis and others continue to finance ISIS and other Sunni extremists.

Interesting question posed by Cassidy in The New Yorker, Jon. The world is restive.

If the United States would only butt out...

Ah, the wisdom of this observation...

I repeat: Saudi Arabia
Wahhabi's have no American friends unless they are part of the Wahhabi movement in America. To become a Wahhabi you can sign up at one of the 2000 Muslim temples now established in the United States.

Amerika butt out:
Other than protecting the Kurds I think we should let Iran take on this project. They could lose another million soldiers and maybe the citizens would finally throw out the Ayatollah and his idiot crowd.

As opposed to "war" as I am, maybe a army of Agnostics to rid the planet of the mythical tooth fairy religious crap that keeps the world in a state of perpetual war.

I think it might be as effective to air drop a million bucks worth of weed or ISIS encampments as a million dollars worth of bombs.

Jon re the Front Pages "How gangs took over prisons" I with Emil on the repeat old news stuff. Gangs have been running all prisons but Super Max prisons since we started locking people up. And Super Max prisons are inhumane, might as well assassinate those prisoners as they go insane in about 12 months.

Since the planet is going to Hell, I am signing out and hitting the remote on my VCR to watch High Plains Drifter.

Hasta Manana

Wahhabism is but one example of the usage of religion as control. Those that promote religious extremism (immersion) are not believers themselves, they just use it as a tool of suppression... until it blows up in their faces, of course.

And then it's too late.

All regimes have done it, Christians, etc. (The elites have always been enthralled with the possibilities of Plato's Cave. The Chicago School of economic thought is explicitly based on exploiting (and furthering to the elites' benefit) the ignorance of the population.)

It won't be as bloody as other times Scotland tried to split. In 1297 at the battle of Stirling Bridge my 22nd great grandfather William Wallace. Killed my wife's 22nd great grandfather Hugh DeCressingham. He had him skinned and made a sword belt of his hide. You thought ISIS was brutal?

Like everyone else here, I'm not at all qualified to offer much in the way of an opinion regarding the Scottish vote - the results of which should be due in a few hours. But here's at least one item for the independence side of the question: "… the British welfare state is neither the most extensive nor most generous in the world, and yet our rates of social pathology – public drunkenness, drug taking, teenage pregnancy, venereal disease, hooliganism, criminality – are the highest in the world." (Theodore Dalrymple - "The Frivolity of Evil")

It's hard to know what exactly our policy is in Iraq. I suspect whatever will help oil conglomerates is the bottom line.

For example, for all the talk of the Kurds (hell, one of their government officials was here in Mesa thanking the USA and Senator McCain for our friendship and helicopters) whilst we have been helping Turkey assassinate and destroy the Kurdish rebels/freedom fighters in Turkey.

Well, Congress has voted to turn the CIA covert program in Syria into an overt program run by the Defense Department (to arm and train "moderate" Syrian rebels).

What's interesting is the way the Republican and Democratic congressional leaders connived to introduce the vote into an unrelated "must-pass" bill continuing ordinary government operations.

This gives them political cover: if the U.S. proxy war in Syria creates blowback (e.g., U.S. arms get to the wrong people, or the "moderates" commit war crimes), the congressmen who voted "yes" can say that they were voting on the continuation bill, and distance themselves from the buried Syrian portion.

If that isn't a big enough indication of political cowardice, Congress then went home a week early. No vote on general war authorization for Syrian operations at all, even though the U.S. plans to bomb a foreign country constitute a clear act of war; the existing authorizations (related to Iraq) don't cover it; and the U.S. Constitution says that Congress must declare war while the President is simply the Commander-in-Chief in the event that they do.

What a bunch of weenies.

I don't trust President Waffle one damned bit when he says there will be no U.S. troops on the ground. Aside from the fact that they're there already (they're called "advisors" -- a term of art you might recall from the history of military escalation in Vietnam), all it will take is a big provocation, whether real or fake or some combination (Tonkin Gulf, anyone?).

The fact that public opinion is firmly against such a war doesn't mean diddly squat: public opinion is fickle and easily shaped by the latest outrage hyped by the news.

Another aspect of the Scottish political situation theoretically influencing the referendum: a majority of the Scottish Parliament members belong to the Labour Party or other left-leading parties in coalition with it; however, the Scottish representatives are a minority of the total UK representatives; as a result, the UK has a Tory (conservative) government.

So, Scotland has representation but no real control over their own affairs where UK approval is needed, as well as a UK government hostile to the majority of the Scottish parliamentarians (and presumably the voters who elected them).

It's a bit similar to Colonial America. The whole bit about "no taxation without representation" is completely misleading. The American colonies were offered representation in the British political system, but accepting that offer would have given them only a token vote since Britain had a much larger voting-eligible population (electorate) than did the American Colonies. Accepting representation as a political solution would have meant being coopted by the British crown. So instead, American leaders rejected a political solution and opted for armed revolution. After all, money was at stake.

Scots vote No as predicted by Emil.

Here you go Emil,
ISIS (Israel Secret Intelligence Service)
and The Flames of War coming soon to your local mosque and theater.
http://www.vice.com/read/the-islamic-state-threatened-america-by-making-a-shitty-video-917

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