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I have read pro-Israeli types gloating that Hezbollah has taken great losses in Syria, crippling them as a fighting force. I take that with a grain of salt, and assume while they certainly have taken losses, I doubt it is reducing their deterrence vis a vis Israel by all that much. Then, while losses undoubtedly hurt them as much as any military force, Hezbollah has a different attitude towards casualties and sacrifice as the Israelis do. I have yet to see indications that Hezbollah has reduced the defence of Lebanon's southern border - i.e. robbed Peter to pay Paul - over Syria. Hezbollah is in the meanwhile gaining invaluable combat experience, small unit leader development and their fighters who fight in Syria is not what Israel considers its greatest threat - Hezbollah's artillery. And, iirc, when Israel was ground to a halt in 2006, they weren't even fighting Hezbollah's main force, only their skirmishers in their heavily fortified skirmish line. With that mech batallion in Syria Hezbollah are actually learning a couple new tricks, like mobile and combined arms warfare skills. Here's anotgher interesting article about the various sects - pro-Assad Sunni copoperating with Hezbollah's Shia - fighting together against Jihadis in Syria. It suggests, interestingly, that Gulfie and Turkish backing of the headchoppers has had some uninteded consequences - nation and alliance building. The forces fighting on Assad's side have one characteristic largely absent from the salafist crowd sponsored by Turkey and the Gulfies - tolerance - suggesting strongly that these people are the West's natural allies (in sharp contrast to Turkey and the Gulfies).
re "van Crefeld": Martin van Creveld was born in Rotterdam, in the netherlands. The 'van' or 'von' in "van Crefeld" means that this is Martin from "Crefeld" i.e 'aus Krefeld'. It isn't a noble title, but rather a cognomen like Philip the Bold, John the Bald, Tim the Short - here - Martin from Krefeld. Likely his ancestors originally came from there. Krefeld is a town, close to Düsseldorf, in the Rhineland which is some 12 or so km off the border and the dutch town Venlo. The local dialect there has similarities to dutch. It wouldn't have been much of a journey to Rotterdam. To get there, all they'd have to do was to take a Rhine boat and drift downstream. A liklely time for the move would have been after the end of the spanish rule, when a degree of religious tolerance came to the Netherlands under new, protestant rule. Some time in the 17th century I guess.
"As the Saudis are likewise losing in Syria I think that these pigeons will come home to roost with this young Prince. I don't see him surviving. But I don't see the House of Saud surviving that much longer in any event. " Rumours has it that King Salman suffers from Alzheimers. There are a couple thousand royal princelings and princesses around in Saudi Arabia. Not easily eradicated due to sheer numbers. Reportedly some are quite unhappy with the performance of the young man. What are the odds of a palace coup? The family comes together and decides the kid has done enough harm? No? Short of that, well, the young prince even in his prime could still succumb to a severe illness, fall of his hobby horse or die in a hunting accident. These things have happened.
D, fair points. That said, I don't endorse, I propose what US arguments would be if the US were not just hapless but indeed cynically calculating. The underlying assumption is that the US then would push (a) for the removal of Prince Reckless and (b) for a 'victorious Saudi withdrawal' from Yemen and some sort of settlement. They could capitalise on the concern in the Saudi royal family about the policies by Salman and young Prince Reckless. My SWAG is that the US then would ultimately aim for a soft coup in Riyadh.
mbrenner, "There are several definitions of "demented." ... in DC it even comes in several flavours. Still, it is also possible that the Whitehouse is simply cynically calculating - since they can't stop the Saudis, intractable and paranoiid as they are, they can as well use Saudi folly to US advantage: They maintain the sort-of alliance with the Saudis in order to to prevent the Saudis from feeling utterly abandoned and from going full bore bonkers, while watching them cutting themselves back to size in failure, all the while driving home to them the point that, despite their swagger, they ARE dependent on the US, indebting the Saudis to the US. Either way, they are being complicit in Saudi Arabia's rampage. But Yemeni casualties are not a US concern.
King Salman left Prince Mohammed "Reckless" bin Salman al-Saud on the right
David, I assume Machiavelli would consider the fact that the Saudis are prone to flights of histrionic, murderous rage if they feel slighted as a factor. Since they are never going to accept Iran's re-emergence as a regional power given a choice, he'd probably recommend that it is wise to administer the necessary tough love hard and at once, so they will adjust to the new normalcy for lack of a choice. Administering it drop by drop will only guarantee that they rage 'on a level', as they do now, and - witness the messes in Syria and Yemen - precious many bystanders get needlessly killed and maimed that way. A quote by Machiavelli that seems applicable to our young Prince Reckless: "A prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice." Even better is Machiavelli's observation on wars of choice: "Whenever men are not obliged to fight from necessity, they fight from ambition; which is so powerful in human breasts, that it never leaves them no matter to what rank they rise. From this arises the changes in their fortunes; for as men desire, some to have more, some in fear of losing their acquisition, there ensues enmity and war, from which results the ruin of that province and the elevation of another."
Yes, they don't seem to be making that much progress, don't they? But then, Al Qaeda and IS appear to be doing quite well.
With Prince Reckless, the mockery may be of a no less conceited but far more vacuous kind. I will not be mocked! Will this mockery never cease?
. When Saudi Arabia went on a rampage and started bombing Yemen many were scratching their heads, wondering what that was all about. Was there a point? Was there some underlying principle to it? Jamal Khashoggi elaborates on Al Arabiya... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2016 at Sic Semper Tyrannis
... or more pointedly - they wear ideological blinkers: Their civilising mission is towards their benighted countrymen - and not to the foreigners they invite in. Those are assumed friendly as a matter of course - tolerance demands that they aren't to be viewd with prejudice or reservation - whereas the rightwingers of AfD and pegida are a known enemy.
It only underlines the extent to which the 'Syrian Opposition' has relied on foreign support to stay in the fight, and the lopsided advangtage this support gave them, as long as it was available. Without that, what are they? Probably, absent foreign support, the 'Syrian uprising' would have never escalated to the level it has reached now. Usually, the interveners, as the US in Ukraine, demand strict adherence to rules of fairness from the to be regime changed party, while playing foul with gusto while nobody is watching. Of late, we have seen what mere criminal flashmobs can do in Cologne, Hamburg, Bielefeld and other places. And yet we wonder about the effect armed and more nefarious and better led and trained flashmobs had in places like Kiev or Syria - and blame the government for overreacting, or not doing enough? Well, of course, blaming them is and has from the onset been part of the plan and part of the game. Journos, and even worse, politicos, relying on or referring to social media as proof of whatever happened (or didn't happen) in their reporting and statements are guilty of, at best, criminal negligence.
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2016 on Salma falls to R+6 at Sic Semper Tyrannis
Ulenspiegel, the point is, whatever the merits of the author are otherwise, that this should not be relativated. It should be viewed with a SENSE OF PROPORTION - I'm all for that, and there is no dount in my mind that the issue is being exploited politically and exaggerated out of proportion - but relativation and downplaying is what I read out of it. Since, according to the author, we Germans ourselves do such nasty things - at the Ballermann, in Carnival, in Thailand or at the Okoberfest - all the time, the Cologne incidents are nothing special, and especially not especially bad. According to him, we are just as bad as the Sylvester mobs, and to focus on the foreigners is bigotry. These acts are just other manifestations of things that happen in Germany all the time. They are not and they do not. I haven't been in my life to Thailand, or the Ballermann and not even to the Oktoberfest, but I know Carnival, and haven't been asleep the last 40 years and I can tell you that the Cologne incidents ARE unprecedented, in scale and intensity. I haven't seen or heard of anything like that in carnival ever, and I celebrate for 30 years. Not even from the rather hefty seasonal May night riots in places like Berlin and Hamburg - driven equally by thrillseeking, Wohlstandsverwahrlosung and ye olde leftist tropes - there were reports of incidents like that. That the culprits in the case of the Cologne riots are of North African or Middle Eastern background is that particular aspect that appears to cause many discomfort. It is this particular aspect, IMO, which - Principiis obsta! Remember Möllen! Remember Rostock-Lichtenhagen! Remember the NSU murders! Wider Pegida! Wider Hogesa! - leads the author to engage in his comparative assessment of evils, to dispel any notions that the Cologne incidents are unique to foreigners, asylum seekers or refugees. Again, no. It is perfectly legitimate and actually quite reasonable to ask about the origins or nationality of the culprits: Let us accept the fact that according to the police reports the mobs were of North-African or Middle Eastern background. The hard core was being formed by this gang of trick thieves that so far had been content with selling drugs and shaking down hapless drunks and tourists in the old town. They were being amplified by alcohole. Well, if that gang is "North African", and not for instance Thuringian or Bavarian, they must have come here somehow from North Africa. How? There are essentially four ways they could have come: (a) As asylum seekers (b) as refugees (c) as illegal migrants or (d) as legal migrants (Familiennachzug)? It is perfectly legitimate - and quite pertinent to the enforcement of existing and applicable laws - to ask how they came here, whether there was any screening - or, since it is know that the group is active for about two years, whether, and of not why, known offenders have or aven't been deported for their activities. That in parallel Germans do commit and have committed many of the same offences shouldn't distract from that. Because irrespective of what Germans do or don't do at other times and in other places, there was considerable and rather problematic criminal energy on display on 31.12.2015. I propose to have one fight at a time. To talk about the Sylvester mob openly doesn't play in the hands of Pegida. Rather, what aids Pegida is not doing so, being afraid of another Möllen, Lichtenhagen or whatnot. It's when they are being patronised by a media that feels the benighted 'masses' cannot handle the truth that these nuts, on a gut level quite correctly notice that they are being sold a bill of goods, and start to babble about Lügenpresse. It is frankly irresponsible and cowardly when our media, and that includes our commentator, even out of high minded and rational concerns, leave the debate over such issues to Pegida. The idea must be to exploit the nonsense they speak in order to have them discredit themselves. But that tactic doesn't adress the issues. Because even after the Media have succeeded in making Pegida look stupid, we still have that nagging problem of, say, that North African gang shaking down hapless tourists in the Old Town. That is to say that the political exploitation of the Sylvester riots isn't limited to the folks on the right. Leaving this issue unadressed will lead to inreasing political polarisation, and if it needed any illustrations, the dysfunctional nature of the political 'debate' in the US should seve as a cautionary tale. PS - Context for our non-German readers:
Actually, that is precisely the sort of relativistic 'rightthink' that I loathe. So, everyone is upset that the sylvester mobs engaged in their excesses? Why? In our society there is sexism, sex tourism, and on the Oktoberfest, the Ballermann and during Carnival some Germans behave like pigs when they are drunk all the time etc pp ... so it is all hypochrisy to get upset over this while not condemning our own rotten behaviour ... blahblablah In essence the man accuses those enraged over Sylvester's excesses of talking about crime and protection of women as cover for their own bigotry, sexism and xenophobia. If one believes this goodthinking entertainer the real culprit of Sylvester - is us! What a crock. These kids on Sylvester night had agency. Their attitude towards the law and towards law enforcement has little to do with any of the nasty things Germans do (and don't do) that the author lists. It is entirely unrelated.
People from the Balkans have a rejection quota of 98% largely because they are economic migrants and not persecuted refugees.
Ulenspiegel, " From a German POV the question still is, whether a net immigration of 400.000 people per year let's say until 2020 is positive (this will still produce a shrinking German population)or not" Oh please! This isn't a quantitative question. If the feral Sylvester mobs have made one thing abundandly clear then that there is a distinct quality dimension to it. You cannot hide behind putative benefits and a demographic macro perspective here. This isn't an abstract problem. This is felt on the ground, I happen to live here and I do take a personal interest. We didn't have incidents like the Sylvester mobs in my lifetime. Now we do. What changed? The police reports stress that the culprits were of middle Eastern and North African origin. Certainly it cannot have anything to do with the recent influx of foreigners from the Islamicate Middle East and their culture, no? The qualitative dimension is usually ignored because looking at it is not the politically correct thing to do as judging would necessitate passing judgement over foreign cultures. That is anathema to the liberal ethos of multiculturalism and the creed of tolerance. And indeed, have intolerance and xenophobia not led to murders and hate crimes in the past? Western liberals thus, in their efforts to be better than their quite often racist and bigoted forefathers, reserve their ample self righteous bigotry for their benighted countrymen. They see themselves tasked to guide the benighted intolerants in their own societies. Too often, they end up giving people of other cultures a pass in an effort to avoid any appearance of intolerance or racism. But it is a delusion that multiculturalism offers an escape from having to judge other people's cultures and cultural norms. Are they reconciblable with the freiheitlich demoktratische Grundordnung, the rule of law? Having to judge all the time is an inescapable reality of life. Unconditional tolerance is just another world for cowardly indifference and relativism. In not passing that judgement where appropriate and necessary, these liberals leave the field to the people on the right who as a result has a monopoly in passing judgement, and do so with gusto. It is them who shape the debate on foreigners. The liberals, in their vain cowardice, are AWOL, and are proud of having stered clear of that can of worms. They instead wank and wax on the righteousness of their own tolerance. So here you have western liberals who profess belief in democracy, but live in implicit distrust of it: They do not dare to have an open debate because then they wpouöld have to talk about things they'd rather not talk about and wake those sleping beasts. Thus we get not journalism, but instruction in rightthink - 'beast mastery' so to speak. Principiis obsta! I discussed the Sylvester incidents with a co-worker a couple days ago. He said that while surely foreigners have committed crimes on Sylvesters, rightwingers commit crimes against foreigners all the time (which is correct, but doesn't have any bearing towards the wanton crimes comitted by the Sylvester mobs, nor does it reach the scale or intensity). He went on and told he that his family - his wife is a teacher - took an afghan refugee kid from one of her classes and gave him a good time over the holidays. Good for him, good for the kid. He added that the kid's 'twin' lived in Frankfurt, his kid being 16, the other 18. Some twins. When I pointed out the obvious contradiction, he said that, as far as he is concerned, the kids have a right to lie about such trifles. I countered that, while that may subjectively be the case, it isn't under the law - as he should know well since he studied law - and that refugees, even minors, do have agency, responsibilities and duties. Still, he noted that the kid adapts well and that he learns German fast. I responded that was good and nice, but that he is describing ideal conditions, which are unlikely to be replicated on a larger scale. He countered that the problem is he lack of integration in society and that concentrating refugees amongst themselves is an obstacle to integration and that integration would no problem if only every fifth German would take one such refugees and socialise it. I pointed out that that would be quite a burden imposed on the electorate and that I would expect some resistance to such an obligation. I suggested that the refugees also aren't all just kids, nor are all nice, and that I imagine that for instance members of the Sylvester mobs would be less than receptive to such integrative efforts, and far less pleasant company too. He conceded all of that, but his mood went sour and since I am interested in a good working relationship I ended the conversation at that point.
YT, "The kingdom of brunei recently banned Christmas, & Christians" My favourite bit in that regard from Saudi Arabia is their arrests of Christians in 2012 for 'plotting to celebrate Christmas'. "Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for “plotting to celebrate Christmas,” a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said. The raid is the latest in a string of religious crackdowns against residents perceived to threaten the country's strict religious code. The host of the alleged Christmas gathering is reported to be an Asian diplomat whose guests included 41 Christians, as well as two Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Muslims." Or as the RT headline put it: "Yule be sorry: Saudi police foil attempt to celebrate Christmas"
From the Wiki (link in the post): "Al-Nimr had been a Shia Sheikh in al-Awamiyah since 2008 or earlier.[1] He studied for about ten years in Tehran and also studied in Syria." IMO any Iran links, much like with Iran's asserted support to the Houthis, probably are firmly rooted in Saudi paranoia: He is a Shia, and everybody knows that all Shia hear each other think and are controlled by Iran ... probably something like that. Clearly, the only conceivable explanation why on earth Saudi Shia would object to being treated like dogs must be Iranian scheming.
It now emerges slowly that this appears to have been a coordinated crime wave, with aditional incidents reported from Stuttgart and Bielefeld. It appears that the group uses a criminal tactic called 'antanzen' that is being used by north african gangs. The tactic involves the culprits getting into close physical contact with the victim to stress and distract it to rob or steal. Add to that tactic and plenty of alcohole to criminal jerks and you get sexual molestation. Here is where it gets almost as interesting: These stories have been held back. It is now January 6, the incidents took place on Sylvester evening. It's been almost a week. The media, in particular the public ZDF, engage rather obviously in something like politically correct self censorship. They are almost palpably reluctant and undeasy to report things that shed a negative light on foreigners and contradict the desired narrative, the desired narrative being along the following lines: We are the good guys. Foreigners are good. Hostility towards foreigners is bad. Thus, we are demonstratively pushing the positive and supress the bad about foreigners, lest we help those nasty rightists like Pegida and AfD, since Pegida and AfD are bad. What they fail in doing so is to objectively and dispassionately report facts. There will be a backlash for that. And then there is the whole annoying pandering about the issue. Here my candidate for biggest asshole of the day is the head of a German Islamic interest group DITIB, who asks piously why everybody speaks of these 'North Africans' - wasn't it all chaotic? - suggesting that it may all be made up to discredit Muslims, adding that Islam after all prohibits alcohole and sexual transgressions (and since North-Africans are overwhelmingly Muslims ...). What a sanctimonious prick. My clear candidate for the drooling moron of the day is our Oberbürgermeisterin Reker who, seriously, announced a 'code of conduct for women', which advises women to keep foreigners at arms length. Yes, that is just what is needed ... anybody but her would have expected something about what she plans to do about it, after all, what is called for now is an adequate response to these crimes.
And that said, yes: Generally, having comitted a criminal act, they can be deported, having forfeited their right to stay. This needs to be proven. In principle, persons who pose a threat to public safety and order can be deported, if it is justified in the special, individual case. That is not an easy case to make. Deportations are rough, messy business. And assessing justifying circumstances of the individual case is prone to errors. What is generally lacking is the political will to apply the law to the fullest. The bureaucracies tasked with these jobs are overworked and understaffed, etc pp. We have so much due process that we may just end up paralysing ourselves for practical purposes when overwhelmed by a very large number of cases.
Nope, at least, not so easily, the police has difficulties identifying individual members of the mob despite CCTV. Also, they are entitled to due process despite being pond scum. For all I care they could be hung at the next bridge.
Babak, living in Cologne myself I can comment: It is true. Culprits were a large group of 'heavily drunk' young men of reportedly north african descent (Libya, by any chance?) who had previously fired fireworks into the crowds and at police at the main railway station, causing several injuries and burns. By and large police was unprepared for riots. A handful were arrested. Indications suggest at least some were members of a known north african gang active in the old town and around the railway station for about two years engaging in theft and robbery. They grabbed the women, harassed them sexually, insulted them, stole their money and phones. There was one intstance, at least, ot rape. According to the local tabloid Express some of the arrested apparently showed documentation suggested they had asylum requests pending. This may well be untrue. A similar incident was reported from Hamburgs Reeperbahn with harassed women seeking shelter of all places and persons, from the bouncers of the bordellos. I fear for the worst for carnival. Stuff like that is unheard of here and a new dimension in crime. This is be water on the mills of the folks like Pegida, and honestly, in this case, who could blame them to object. It's a disgrace. It will likely make Germans less receptive to taking refugees, and again, who could blame them to object. There will be pressure to look closer at what cuties were already have and ask the question if we really need more of that sort. Authorities have announced they intend to crack down. We'll see. In any event, for the women too little, too late.
David, mongoose, kao_hsien_chih, chantose - as always I have greatly enjoyed your erudite convrersation. Thanks!
Trump continues to crack me up :D Trump: I won’t rule out spying on Israel if elected president “I would certainly not want to do it, but I have to say this: We’re being spied on by everybody,” Trump said. “I would say that I would leave open possibilities of doing whatever it takes to make our country very, very strong and to make our country great again.” The man is, at the very least, a master messenger.
More of the man - here's audio of Bret Stephens coaching Hagee's reapture ready Christians United for Israel on opposing the US-Iran deal. Comments Glenn Greenwald: "... yet again we find journalists at newspapers claiming the pretense of objectivity who are in fact full-on activists: here, to the point of colluding with a right-wing group to sink the Iran Deal — there’s nothing wrong with that on its own terms, other than the conceit that journalism is distinct from activism." That's in essence what a neocon pundit is about in a nutshell.