|Israel & Palestine||
NBC News - Gen. James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told Congress the intelligence community now estimates that 3,400 citizens from Western nations have traveled to Syria and Iraq. That's 700 more than November's estimate of 2,700 -- though officials say some portion of the higher headcount represents improved intelligence, not new recruits....
The U.S. intelligence community has also upped its estimate of the number of foreign fighters from all over the world, not just the West. Clapper said that ISIS now has 20,000 foreign fighters, up from 16,000 last fall, out of a total fighting force of as many as 31,000...
U.S. agencies have differed on the overall size of the ISIS fighting force, with the intelligence community sticking with a range of 20,000 to 31,500 while the Pentagon thinks the number could be as low as 17,000. The intelligence community's estimate is built on reports from other intelligence agencies in the Arab world and the West. Those numbers often cover different reporting periods and can be inconsistent in their specificity.
Ismael Hossein-zadeh, Counterpunch - The history of the relationship between the modern Western world and the Muslim world shows that, contrary to distorted popular perceptions in the West, from the time of their initial contacts with the capitalist West more than two centuries ago until almost the final third of the twentieth century, the Muslim people were quite receptive of the economic and political models of the modern world.
During that period of more than a century and a half, the majority of the political elite and/or national leaders viewed the rise of the modern West, and its spread into their territories, as an inevitable historical development that challenged them to chart their own programs of reform and development. Not only did the political elite, the intellectuals, and government leaders view reform and modernization as the way of the future, but so did many Islamic leaders and scholars, known as Islamic modernizers
It was only after more than a century and a half of imperialistic pursuits and a series of humiliating policies in the region that the popular masses of the Muslim world turned to religion and the conservative religious leaders as sources of defiance, mobilization, and self-respect. This historical background indicates that for many Muslims the recent turn to religion often represents not so much a rejection of Western values and achievements as it is a way to resist or defy the oppressive policies and alliances of Western powers in the Muslim world. It also means that explanations of derailed and delayed historical transitions in the Muslim world, that is, of an Islamic reformation, rest more with the policies of the Western powers in the region than the alleged rigidity of Islam, or the clash of civilizations.
Sarwar Kashmer, US News - Prof. Larry Goodson of the U.S. Army War College has told me he believes the Middle East is in the midst of a 30 Years War, similar to the one that roiled Europe from 1618-1648. It is an intriguing comparison with which I largely agree.
The 30 Years War wasnt just one war, but actually a series of wars fought by numerous nations for a variety of reasons, including religious, dynastic, territorial and commercial rivalries. Its destructive campaigns and battles occurred over most of Europe. It is conventionally held to have begun after the future Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand II, in his role as king of Bohemia, attempted to limit the religious activities of non-Catholic groups and impose Roman Catholicism on his domain. Needless to say, the Protestant nobles of Bohemia and Austria rose up in rebellion.
When the war ended, the notion of a Roman Catholic empire in Europe, headed spiritually by a pope and temporally by an emperor, was permanently abandoned. With the signing of the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the essential structure of modern Europe as a community of sovereign states was established.
As was the European 30 Years War, the mayhem in the Middle East today is fueled by a series of wars fought by multiple nations on multiple fronts, ranging from the borders of Iran to the borders of Turkey and down to the Arabian Sea. The reasons behind the wars in the Middle East are as numerous and complex as the ones that drove the the 30 Years War.
Overlay on top of this the fact that the map of the Middle East as we know it now is largely the creation of France and Britain, the early 20th centurys colonial powers. Maps of the region prior to World War I have none of the countries that are at the heart of todays war-torn Middle East. Todays Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen were created by the colonial powers after they carved up the Ottoman Empire, whose collapse was a casualty of the war. The borders of these countries are no more than lines in the sand created for commercial reasons to suit the balance sheets of the colonial powers. Likewise, todays Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar came to be in the years after World War I. All three rose to prominence after the discovery of oil, and they are largely dependent on a ongoing a commercial understanding with the West: These countries receive protection from the West, which seeks, in return, a steady flow of oil.
... When all is said and done, the Middle East will emerge from its torment stronger and more stable than it is now. The new map of the region probably will not look anything like it does now. It may have new borders, countries and even governments. And in the end, this is a conflict that cannot and should not be influenced by the United States. It is a transformation that must be undertaken by the Arabs themselves.
Sarwar Kashmeri is a fellow of the Foreign Policy Association and an adjunct professor at Norwich University. His most recent book was NATO 2.0; Reboot or Delete?
Physicians for Social Responsibility - [Our] investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.
The report also notes that the 2006 study by The Lancet, which found that, due to the illegal invasion of Iraq, 655,000 people had died by that time, was the most meticulous of all of the studies that have been done previously.
There is probably no other war that has seen such a fierce and drawn-out controversy surrounding the number of its victims. One main reason for this is the lack of legitimacy for the U.S.-led attack on Iraq even in the U.S. itself. The original pretexts for going to war quickly turned out to be spurious, and from then on only the liberation of the country from a violent dictatorship and the democratization and stabilization of Iraq remained as justification for the war and occupation. This picture, laboriously constructed with the help of the media, is of course impossible to reconcile with the many hundreds of thousands of war casualties....
Mainstream media only quote figures given by the pro-U.S. administration in Iraq or by the project Iraq Body Count... The numbers relayed by the media (previously 43,000 and now 110,000) should in themselves be terrifying enough, as they correspond to the annihilation of an entire citys population. But apparently they are still perceived as tolerable and, moreover, even easy to explain given the picture of excessive religiously motivated violence. The figure of 655,000 deaths in the first three war years alone, however, clearly points to a crime against humanity approaching genocide. Had this been understood and recognized by the public at large, the Iraq policy of the U.S. and its European allies would not have been tenable for long.
A poll carried out by the Associated Press (AP) two years ago found that, on average, U.S. citizens believe that only 9,900 Iraqis were killed during the occupation. With such distorted figures, outrage about the war is hardly to be expected. This state of affairs could be very different if the public were made aware that the actual number is likely to be more than a hundred times higher.
56% of Americans support an interim deal with Iran that would ease some economic sanctions on that country in exchange for concessions on Iran's nuclear program.
Name one significant thing the American government has done since 9/11 to make it less likely that some in the MId East would want to attack it.
The good old days
Infrequently asked qustions:
When in history has a country as powerful as America been as afraid of a force as small as Al Qaeda?
How do we tell when we're meant to surrender our Constitution to fight Al Queda and when we're meant to give them more arms?
.@Harpers - Percentage of U.S. veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seeking disability benefits: 45
A 12 year old who should be running
for president of Egypt
Just a reminder
PROGRESSIVE REVIEW STORIES
Australian - In one of three interviews yesterday, Mr Obama said the rebels were saying the right things so far. Most of them are professionals, lawyers, doctors, people who appear to be credible, he told CBS.
Great former thoughts of Barack Obama: President Barack Obama, as an Illinois state senator in 2002, said that using military force to topple a murderous dictator amounted to a dumb war and should be opposed. The dumb war Obama was criticizing was the planned invasion of Iraq and the murderous dictator was its leader, Saddam Hussein. - CNS