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"American Lives Will Be Saved, Not Lost, If We Release the Senate Torture Report"


Kevin Drum hält nichts von dem Argument, dass eine Veröffentlichung des Folterberichts des US-Senats amerikanische Menschenleben gefährden würde. Tatsächlich sei es die Folter von Terrorverdächtigen selbst, die Extremisten jahrelang in die Hände gespielt habe. "(...) our conduct during the early years of the war on terror almost certainly inflamed our enemies, bolstered their recruitment, and prolonged the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. This cost thousands of American lives. President Obama may have banned torture during his administration, but is there any reason to think we've now given up torture for good? Not that I can tell, and it will cost many more thousands of American lives if it happens again. So for our own safety, even if for no other reason, we need to do everything we can to reduce the odds of America going on another torture spree."

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"Europe Wants To Make Its Memory Hole Global"


Kevin Drum kritisiert den Plan von EU-Datenschützern, das sogenannte "Recht auf Vergessen" nicht nur in Europa, sondern weltweit durchzusetzen. Drum zeigt grundsätzliches Verständnis für die europäische Auffassung vom Datenschutz, die neuen Pläne gingen allerdings zu weit. "(...) I'm generally on their side in this battle when it comes to truly personal information. Both corporate and government collection of personal buying habits, internet browsing patterns, and so forth deserve to be reined in. But here we're talking about largely public information. It's bad enough that the EU is insisting that people not only have a right to control genuinely personal data, but also have a right to shape attitudes and perceptions that are based on public record. It's even worse that they're now trying to impose this absurdity on the entire planet. If they insist on having a continent-wide memory hole, I guess that's their business. But they sure don't have the right to foist their insistence on artificially altering reality on the rest of us. Enough's enough."

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"America Still Has Hundreds of Military Bases Worldwide. Have They Made Us Any Safer?"


Nach Ansicht von David Vine trägt das globale Netzwerk amerikanischer Militärstützpunkte keineswegs zur amerikanischen Sicherheit bei. Gerade im Nahen Osten könne die mittlerweile 35 Jahre alte Strategie zum Aufbau der US-Militärstützpunkte als eines der größten "Desaster" der amerikanischen Außenpolitik eingeschätzt werden. "On their own, the existence of these bases has helped generate radicalism and anti-American sentiment. As was famously the case with Osama bin Laden and US troops in Saudi Arabia, bases have fueled militancy, as well as attacks on the United States and its citizens. They have cost taxpayers billions of dollars, even though they are not, in fact, necessary to ensure the free flow of oil globally. They have diverted tax dollars from the possible development of alternative energy sources and meeting other critical domestic needs. And they have supported dictators and repressive, undemocratic regimes, helping to block the spread of democracy in a region long controlled by colonial rulers and autocrats."

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"We Still Don't Have a Real Plan in Iraq"


Die US-Regierung will offenbar neue irakische Soldaten für eine im kommenden Frühjahr geplante Großoffensive gegen den Islamischen Staat ausbilden. Kevin Drum zweifelt angesichts der bisherigen Ergebnisse derartiger Ausbildungsprogramme und der fehlenden politischen Strategie an den Erfolgsaussichten des neuen Plans. "Apparently the air campaign against ISIS has been somewhat effective — if not at turning them back, at least at preventing their further spread. But a broader victory requires both the political compromise that evaded us last time, as well as a plan for rebuilding the Iraqi army. We should be very nervous when no one seems able to provide even some routine happy talk about how our 1,400 advisors are going to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It's hard to see where this goes from here."

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"We Are In Love With War"


Die breite Unterstützung der amerikanischen Bevölkerung für den Krieg gegen den Islamischen Staat in Irak und Syrien lässt Kevin Drum etwas ratlos zurück. "According to polls, nearly two-thirds of Americans are on board with the fight against ISIS and nearly half think we ought to be sending in ground troops. That's despite the fact that practically every opinion leader in the country says in public that they oppose ground troops. At this point it would take only a tiny shove—a bomb scare, an atrocity of some kind, pretty much anything — and 70 percent of the country would be in full-bore war frenzy mode. It's like we've learned nothing from the past decade. Our politicians are in love with war. The public is in love with war. And the press is really in love with war. It just never ends."

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"We Have a Saudi Arabia Problem, Not an Islam Problem"


In den USA ist erneut eine Diskussion über die Frage ausgebrochen, ob der Islam generell für die Gewalt und das Unrecht in vielen islamischen Ländern verantwortlich gemacht werden könne. Politik-Blogger Kevin Drum lehnt den Vorwurf ab und schreibt: "I don't think the world has a Muslim problem. It has a Saudi Arabia problem. The closer a country is to the warped influence of Saudi Arabia, the more violent and illiberal it is. Go west to Tunisia and Morocco and Islam becomes more moderate. Go north to Turkey and it becomes more moderate. Go east to India and Indonesia and it becomes more moderate. Obviously this is hardly a perfect correlation. If you want to find exceptions, you can. But generally speaking, Saudi Arabia is the epicenter of Islam's problems, a country that stands for virtually everything that the liberal West condemns. (...) Saudi Arabia is a country that, by rights, should be shunned by every government on the planet. But they're not. For historical reasons, we've instead forged a longtime alliance with the princes of Riyadh. The world is paying a high price for this."

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"Your Lesson for the Day: If You Decline to Use Military Force, You've 'Kind of Lost Your Way'"


Der frühere US-Verteidigungsminister Leon Panetta hat Präsident Obama für den Aufstieg des Islamischen Staates mitverantwortlich gemacht und dabei u.a. die "ambivalente" Außenpolitik der vergangenen zwei Jahre kritisiert. Kevin Drum schreibt, dass mit dieser Kritik vor allem ein zurückhaltender Einsatz des US-Militärs durch Obama gemeint sei und kommentiert: "That's the default view of practically everyone in Washington: Using military force shows strong leadership. Declining to use military force shows weakness. But most folks inside the Beltway don't even seem to realize they feel this way. It's just part of the air they breathe: never really noticed, always taken for granted, and invariably the difficult but sadly necessary answer for whichever new and supposedly unique problem we're addressing right now. This is what Obama is up against."

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"The ISIS Speech: Obama and the Dogs of War"


US-Präsident Obama habe in seiner lange erwarteten Rede an die Nation auch versucht, den Forderungen nach einem erneuten offenen Krieg der USA im Nahen Osten entgegenzutreten, schreibt David Corn. Es bleibe abzuwarten, ob Obama diesem Druck auch künftig standhalten könne. "Obama's intentions are clear: he doesn't want to return to full-scale US military involvement in Iraq. But now that he has committed the United States to renewed military action there, where's the line? (...) His speech gave little indication of how he might confront the possible problems and hard choices that will likely come. There's an old cliché: no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The same might be true for a case for war. Once a war is started, the narrative of that war, like the events themselves, can be hard to control."

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"Is It Time For Yet Another War?"


Kevin Drum ist nicht besonders überrascht, dass die amerikanische Öffentlichkeit nach Jahren vermeintlicher Kriegsmüdigkeit neue Militäroperationen gegen die Terrorgruppe Islamischer Staat fordert. "(...) now we're seeing just how easy it is to whip Americans into a war frenzy yet again. Even with Obama striking his usual no-drama pose, the public is becoming increasingly belligerent. All it took was a carefully stagecrafted beheading video and the usual gang of conservative jingoists to exploit it. For now, the lack of presidential blood lust is holding back the tide—barely—but that's a thin reed. If Obama wanted to go to war, it would be the work of a moment to whip up a war frenzy in a solid majority of the country."

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"Think You Can Solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict? Play This Game"


Sam Brodey stellt das Videospiel "PeaceMaker" vor, in dem Spieler versuchen können, den Nahostkonflikt diplomatisch zu lösen. "PeaceMaker's creators, Asi Burak and Eric Brown, are the first to admit that their computer strategy game isn't necessarily fun—the word they use is 'engaging.' PeaceMaker, released in 2007, challenges you to take the seat of either the Israeli prime minister or the president of the Palestinian Authority and to construct a virtual end to a decades-long conflict. Winning the game means achieving a peaceful, two-state solution. If you find that too simple, don't worry — the game also has a hard mode."

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"Obama's Iraq Policy Has Been Pretty Masterly"


Politik-Blogger Kevin Drum findet die aktuelle Irak-Strategie des US-Präsidenten Obama "fast perfekt". "The alternative to Obama's strategy wasn't more aggressive action. That would have been disastrous. Nor would it have made a difference if Obama had left a few troops in Iraq back in 2009. Nor would stronger intervention in Syria have made a difference. It might even have made things worse. The truth is simpler. There's no single reason for the rise of ISIS, but there is a single primary reason: Nouri al-Maliki. Obama saw that clearly and kept his eye on what was important, working patiently and cold-bloodedly toward engineering Maliki's departure."

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"Inside Anonymous' Cyberwar Against the Israeli Government"


Die Hackergruppe Anonymous habe in Reaktion auf die israelische Offensive in Gaza eine neue Runde von Cyberattacken gegen israelische Regierungsserver angekündigt, berichte Dana Liebelson. "Anonymous is now calling on hackers to launch new attacks on Friday so that 'Israel will feel fear tingling in their servers, and homes,' according to the group's public call to arms. The Anonymous spokesperson says that this plan appears to have originated with members in the collective's North American and European factions. Israel's National Cyber Bureau, the agency tasked with protecting national infrastructure from cyber threats, did not respond to a request for comment."

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"American Power Is Becoming Ineffective. Here's Why."


Tom Engelhardt schreibt, dass der amerikanische "Sicherheitsstaat" trotz der zahlreichen Enthüllungen über Entführungen, Attentate, Folter und illegale Überwachung weiterhin völlig ungestraft agieren könne. Trotz einer "Ära des Triumphalismus" verstärke sich allerdings der Eindruck, dass die tatsächliche politische Durchsetzungskraft der USA national wie international zurückgehe. "Today, the US looks less like a functioning and effective empire than an imperial basket case, unable to bring its massive power to bear effectively from Germany to Syria, Iraq to Afghanistan, Libya to the South China Sea, the Crimea to Africa. And stranger yet, this remains true even though it has no imperial competitors to challenge it. (...) Just what kind of decline this represents remains to be seen. What does seem clearer today is that the rise of the national security state and the triumphalism of the corporate sector (along with the much publicized growth of great wealth and striking inequality in the country) has been accompanied by a decided diminution in the power of the government to function domestically and of the imperial state to impose its will anywhere on Earth."

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"Here's What Happens When You Challenge the CIA Through 'Proper Channels'"


Kevin Drum weist auf einen Fall hin, der erneut belege, dass Whistleblower wie Edward Snowden keine Chance hätten, auf ihre möglichen Bedenken innerhalb der offiziellen Kanäle der US-Geheimdienste aufmerksam zu machen. "Greg Miller of the Washington Post tells us the story of Jeffrey Scudder, who worked in the CIA’s Historical Collections Division. This is a division explicitly set up to look for old documents that can be safely released to the public. Scudder discovered thousands of documents he thought should be released, and he worked diligently through channels to make this happen. When that ran into repeated roadblocks, he eventually decided to try to force the CIA's hand — legally, openly — by filing requests under the Freedom of Information Act (...) 'Last summer, the board recommended that Scudder be fired. Around the same time, he was shown a spreadsheet outlining his possible pension packages with two figures — one large and one small — underlined. He agreed to retire.'"

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"President Obama Has Finally Learned the Limits of American Military Power"


Kevin Drum verteidigt die Nahost-Politik der US-Regierung gegen ihre zahlreichen Kritiker in Washington. US-Präsident Obama sei zu der Überzeugung gelangt, dass der Einsatz des US-Militärs in Ländern wie Libyen oder Irak nur noch begrenzten Nutzen habe. Die Entsendung von 300 Militärberatern in den Irak sei deshalb auch kein Vorzeichen einer erneuten Intervention. "(...) I think he's had the same epiphany that JFK had at one time: the mainstream national security establishment — in the Pentagon, in Congress, in the CIA, and in the think tanks — simply can't be trusted. Their words are more measured, but in the end they aren't much different from the perma-hawks. They always want more, and deep in their hearts the only thing they really respect is military force. (...) This is why I'm not too worried about the 300 advisors he's sent to Iraq. A few years ago, this might very well have been the start of a Vietnam - like slippery slope into a serious recommitment of forces. Today, I doubt it. Obama will provide some limited support, but he simply won't be badgered into doing more. Deep in his heart, he now understands that Iraq's problem is fundamentally political."

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"No, Staying in Iraq Wouldn't Have Changed Anything"


Kevin Drum wendet sich gegen amerikanische Stimmen, die den vermeintlich verfrühten Abzug der US-Truppen aus dem Irak für den gegenwärtigen Siegeszug der radikalislamischen Isis-Kämpfer verantwortlich machen. "They simply refuse to believe the obvious: that America doesn't have that much leverage over what's happening in the region. Small commitments of trainers and arms won't make more than a speck of difference. Big commitments are unsustainable. And the US military still doesn't know how to successfully fight a counterinsurgency. (That's no knock on the Pentagon, really. No one else knows how to fight a counterinsurgency either.) This is painfully hard for Americans to accept, but sometimes you can't just send in the Marines."

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"Is Obama a Realist, Isolationist, Humanitarian Interventionist, or Drone-Dropping Hawk?"


David Corn meint, dass US-Präsident Obama mit seiner Rede zur Außenpolitik vor allem seine Weigerung bestätigt habe, sich den Lagern der Realisten, der Falken oder der Isolationisten anzuschließen. Obama habe keine übergreifende "Doktrin", sondern betreibe Außenpolitik auf einer Fall-zu-Fall Basis. "For years, Obama has been trying to form and sell a balanced approach that justifies certain military interventions and limits others—while redefining national security interests to include climate change and other matters. That's a tough task. The world is not a balanced place. It's likely that Obama's handling of foreign policy will continue to be judged on a case-by-case basis and less on the establishment of an integrated doctrine. Given the global challenges of this era, a grand plan may not be realistic."

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"No, Our Oil and Gas Production Did Not Give Us an Advantage During the Crimea Crisis"


Könnte das amerikanische Schiefergas zur sicherheitspolitischen Unabhängigkeit Europas von Russland beitragen? Michael Klare zweifelt daran, dass eine verstärkte Förderung fossiler Brennstoffe angesichts des ungebremsten Verbrauchs tatsächlich zu größerer Energieunabhängigkeit führen würde. "It should be obvious to anyone who has followed recent events in the Crimea and Ukraine that increased US oil and gas output have provided White House officials with no particular advantage in their efforts to counter Putin's aggressive moves—and that the prospect of future US gas exports to Europe is unlikely to alter his strategic calculations. It seems, however, that senior US officials beguiled by the mesmerizing image of a future 'Saudi America' have simply lost touch with reality. For anyone familiar with addictive behavior, this sort of delusional thinking would be a sign of an advanced stage of fossil fuel addiction. As the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality evaporates, the addict persists in the belief that relief for all problems lies just ahead—when, in fact, the very opposite is true."

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"Obama Proposes to End NSA Phone Records Program"


US-Präsident Obama hat verschiedene Maßnahmen vorgeschlagen, die auf den ersten Blick die Massenüberwachung der Telefongespräche von US-Bürgern durch die NSA beenden würden. Kevin Drum ist von der Ankündigung angenehm überrascht, weist aber auch auf die notwendige Mitwirkung des US-Kongresses hin. "This is better than I expected. But I wonder what Congress will do with the proposal. Will Republicans go along? Or, after months of griping about the NSA program — remember, eight months ago 94 of them voted to defund it — will they decide that they'd rather accuse the president of endangering the American public by ending a vital program? It's an election year, after all."

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"US Announces Plan to Give Up Control Over Internet Plumbing"


Die US-Regierung hat verkündet, ihre Kontrolle über die Internet-Aufsichtsbehörde ICANN aufgeben zu wollen. Kevin Drum kommentiert diesen möglicherweise folgenreichen Schritt, der eine Reaktion auf die internationale Kritik nach den NSA-Enthüllungen sei. "(...) global organizations don't have a great track record at technocratic management, and world politics — corrosive at best, illiberal and venal at worst — could kill the goose that laid the golden egg. I certainly understand why the rest of the world chafes at American control, but I nonetheless suspect that it might be the best of a bad bunch of options. Then again, maybe not. There are also plenty of global standards-setting organizations that do a perfectly good job. Slowly and bureaucratically, maybe, but that's to be expected. Maybe ICANN will go the same way. We'll see."

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"Flashback: Why Ronald Reagan Invaded Grenada"


Kevin Drum fühlt sich vom russischen Übergriff auf die Ukraine an die Grenada-Invasion der US-Regierung im Jahr 1983 erinnert. "The real reason for the invasion was that Grenada was a nearby country and Reagan was concerned that Cuba and the Soviet Union were establishing a military foothold there. Does it start to sound familiar now? You may decide for yourself whether the invasion of Grenada was justified. The Cuban military presence was real, after all. And there's certainly no question about the instability of the Grenadian government. Then again, the eastward expansion of NATO and the more recent EU/American attempts to increase Western influence in Ukraine have been quite real too. And there's certainly no question about the instability of the Ukrainian government. So does that mean Vladimir Putin was justified in sending troops into Crimea? Once again, you may decide for yourself. But Grenada might provide a useful framework for thinking about how regional powers react to perceived threats in their backyards."

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"No, Vladimir Putin Is Not a Cunning Geopolitical Chess Player"


In westlichen Medien wird Russlands Präsident Putin gern als gerissener Schachspieler dargestellt, der bei seinen Entscheidungen immer einige Züge voraus denkt. Kevin Drum hält diese Analogie angesichts der Entwicklung in der Ukraine für "verrückt". "The reason Putin has sent troops into Crimea is because everything he's done over the past year has blown up in his face. This was a last-ditch effort to avoid a fool's mate, not some deeply-calculated bit of geopolitical strategery. (...) having failed utterly thanks to ham-handed tactics on his part, he's finally decided on one last desperation move. Not because the West is helpless to retaliate, but because he's simply decided he's willing to bear the cost. It's a sign of weakness, not a show of strength. It's the price he's paying for his inability to control events."

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"Here's What Is Going To Happen With Ukraine"


Kevin Drum hat eine ziemlich genaue Vorstellung von der amerikanischen Reaktion auf die militärische Eskalation der Krise in der Ukraine. "Maybe Ukraine will choose (or have foisted on them) a pro-Russian leader that Putin is happy with. Maybe east and west will split apart. Maybe a nominally pro-Western leader will emerge. Who knows? What we do know is that (a) the United States will play only a modest role in all this, and (b) conservative hawks will continue to think that if only we'd done just a little bit more, Putin would have blinked and Ukraine would be free. You may now go about your regular weekend business."

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"Why Silicon Valley's Top Dogs Fought Back So Feebly Against NSA Spying"


Der Onlineprotest gegen die NSA-Überwachung vom vergangenen Dienstag ("The Day We Fight Back") habe im Vergleich zu früheren Aktionen nur geringes Aufsehen erregt, schreibt Josh Harkinson. Eine Ursache sei die Weigerung der großen Internetunternehmen, sich am Protest zu beteiligen. "The reluctance of Big Tech to ally too publicly with NSA critics reflects the complexity and geopolitical sensitivity of surveillance in the digital age. On one hand, American tech companies need to side with the privacy advocates to reassure their users — especially noncitizen users — that their data isn't simply being handed over to the feds. On the other, appearing too anti-establishment could make them look unpatriotic, jeopardize government contracts, and hurt their other legislative priorities, such as immigration and tax reform. And then there's the question of whether Silicon Valley really wants to stoke the fires of indignation about online privacy. It's not such a huge leap from protesting the collection of personal data by government spies to protesting similar practices by private data-miners and online advertisers."

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"In Remarkable Turnaround, Republicans Officially Denounce NSA Phone Surveillance"


Das Republican National Committee der US-Republikaner hat sich in einer Erklärung gegen die aktuellen Überwachungspraktiken der NSA ausgesprochen. Kevin Drum weist auf die Bedeutung dieser "bizarren" politischen Kehrtwende hin. "I get that politics is politics, and the grass always looks browner when the other party occupies the Oval Office. And there are plenty of liberals who are less outraged by this program today than they were back when George Bush and Dick Cheney were in charge of it. But holy cow! The RNC! Officially condemning a national security program that was designed by Republicans to fight terrorism! This is truly remarkable. We are indeed living in Bizarro world these days."

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"If You Think the NSA Debate Has Been Valuable, You Have Edward Snowden to Thank"


Politikblogger Kevin Drum ist von den Argumenten der Kolumnistin Ruth Marcus gegen eine nachsichtige Behandlung Edward Snowdens durch die US-Regierung nicht überzeugt. "On Marcus's first question: come on. If it were a matter of sticking around and facing the possibility of a few years in prison, that would be one thing. Maybe we should feel that Snowden should have been willing to accept the consequences of his actions. But that was never in the cards, and surely Marcus knows it. In reality, Snowden was facing the near certainty of decades or more in Supermax solitary confinement. There's just no way you can pretend that an unwillingness to surrender to torture of that magnitude says anything about how upstanding you are or how strongly you believe in the Constitution. Marcus's second point is even more peculiar. Why does she say that 'perhaps' there would have been no debate without Snowden? Is that even an arguable position? I'd say that without Snowden, there was zero chance of any serious discussion of NSA surveillance taking place. (...) I wouldn't defend every last thing Snowden has done. But life is messy, and you don't always get to control events with precision. Realistically, your choice is between (a) approving of what Snowden did, warts and all, or (b) approving of the status quo, with all of us none the wiser about what our government is doing. I'd say the choice is obvious."

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