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23 June 2013


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Nice map, except for the fact that the Sanjak has been part of Turkey since 1939- ( Hatay province)



Yes. It is the Province of Hatay. This is a map of the French mandate, but something like a map of the future of what we now call Syria if the "rebels" win. pl


Friedman is not a liberal in any meaningful sense. He is just an ignorant, self-important fool who has backed every escapade in the Islamic world since 2001 with an arrogance that has matched that of the Bush people (hardly liberals) and the same plus the expedient Obama crowd now making the same mistakes.


Yes, the "serious people" gushed about freedom and democracy motivating the Arab Spring. Rarely did they notice that it was an impoverished vegetable seller in Tunisia who set it all off. Instead, "serious people" like Tom Friedman chose to see it as a fulfillment of American public diplomacy BS about freedom and democracy coming to the Middle East.

At a PR level "serious people" can never bring themselves to admit that people's economic situations can have political consequences. Impoverishment as a consequence globalization, population growth, environmental degradation and resource depletion were always more important than some claptrap about freedom and democracy.

Having been proven wrong once again, you can expect Friedman and his ilk to prattle on about freedom and democracy the next time they can't explain or comprehend events. Like Marie Antoinette, they don't understand why people can't just eat cake...



Thomas Friedman is a “neo-liberal” not a progressive liberal. You know one of those “get it while you can - greed is good” type that have seized control of the USA and the EU. He is a married in member of the multi-national elite.


The riots in Brazil and Egypt root cause is over population and decreasing resources. Also, neo-liberal governments have an ingrained contempt for the people. “The poor and unemployed deserve their fate.” For the Olympics, Brazil walled in and commenced a COIN pacification in their Favelas (Shanty Towns); one cop/soldier for every 40 indigents. This scorn will start riots every time; including Greece, UK, Sweden, Spain and Ireland.

Egypt is now exporting it excess sons to Syria on a jihad against the Shiite joining other Sunni Jihadists from Libya, Tunisia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Chechnya.


The neo-liberal’s final fatal flaw is that they flat out refuse to recognize that war and pollution have enormous costs in lives and treasure that are not accounted for in the portfolios of their increasing wealth. A Sunni-Shiite Jihad and Global Warming will blowback against all of us but that also includes the multi-national elite and their offspring despite their denials. We all live on one earth.


Col Lang,

The "rebels" know themselves and know what they fought for, that is enough honor for them, the results can never be guaranteed.

I find your sarcasm on the topic myself fairly amusing in view of your repeated declarations that you cannot tolerate tyranny. The Assads must just be the one exception?



I notice that you speak of the rebels in the past tense. You should have the courage to come out from behind this ridiculous puppet identity to address me. Your culture is trapped in a morass of tyranny from which you do not really want to escape. Under the guise of revolution you merely substitute one set of tyrants for another. Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, what is coming in Afghanistan, the emerging sultanate in Turkey, your culture carries this disease. I prefer the secular tyrants. pl

Babak Makkinejad

If the results, as you say, "cannot be guaranteed", then why begin?

This is not an exercise in empirical sciences where a failed experiment is still a useful form of knowledge.

I think the rebels know what they are fighting for, destruction of the Ba'ath state in Syria.

And the other side is trying to preserve that state.

Neither the rebels, nor the government, nor the Ikhwan in Syria, nor the Ikhwan in Egypt, nor the Ikhwan in Turkey (AKP) have articulated any vision for the future of Syria beside the destruction the Ba'ath state.

There is no positive program.

Excepting the revolutionary doctrines of Ayatollah Khomeini in regards to Islamic Government, no Muslim thinker has articulated any other doctrine of government except Tyranny.

Where is the governance theory of the Sufis (pick any order you wish)?

Where is the governance theory of Ikhwan - one can see in Syria various "Emirates" - as though the Arabs (and Afghans and others) are still living in tents.

Wayne Wright, a former CIA operative, who was organizing the rebels in Afghanistan against the Communist government there has publicly stated that the Communist government there was the best government of Afghanistan (Dr. Najib's).

I read recently from a former officer who had been to Afghanistan and to Turkmenistan that he came to view the tyranny in Turkmenistan preferable to what obtains in Afghanistan today.

May be the rebels in Syria will succeed and will destroy the state - do not expect Liberty & Justice & Representative government with respect for Human Rights to prevail in that event.


Col Lang,

There is no puppet identity, you continue to try to stereotype me, you do not know me. Seriously, what do you think I am running some sort of Salafi outfit to infiltrate this blog? For what outlandish purpose? What is going on that is so special here? This is incredible!

The rest of the speech... I have become familiar with.

You are welcome to like secular tyrants- I appreciate the clarification.



An old trick. first you mis-state someone's words and then comment on it. I did not say I liked secular tyrants. I said I preferred them to the religious fanatics who will result from the "revolutions' that you favor. you are done here. pl

Alba Etie

Thomas Friedman was also a huge cheer leader for deposing Saddam . In that regard he is just another Judith Miller - but with a mustache. I am thankful Mr Friedman does appear to be very muted about intervening in Syria.


I wonder if Egypt will attempt to intervene militarily against the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or if they're too enervated after the revolution to manage. Not pleasant to contemplate; the figures being thrown around in some reports are that filling the GERD will cause between 10% and 20% reduction in the volume of water flowing downstream.

Worst case scenario I suspect is if Egypt tries and fails to pre-empt the dam using force. If the loss of water causes famine in Egypt there will be international pressure on Ethiopia to release more water and slow the filling of the dam. Pressure which will likely not be effective if Ethiopia is or was recently at war with Egypt.

I'm hardly an expert in the region, I'd be very interested in what people here think of the likelihood of a war over the Nile.



How many sky executions via drone has Assad ordered compared to Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama?

William R. Cumming

Assuming partition of Syria would that bring some new stability or just create more instability in the region? Or is it impossible to foreshadow?

Should Saudi foreign policy and investing be considered an international force promoting instability in MENA?


These secular tyrannies are products of a different age. They are no longer viable in these countries. They offered no antidote to the "morass of tyranny". Judge them by the results. If they had been successful in addressing the problems of their societies there would be no rising tide of Islamism. They monopolized the state but they lost their societies. Simply increasing the brutal police state measures solves nothing. The more you try to repress the Islamists the more the man in the street is convinced they are the 'solution' that everyone is conspiring against. Political Islam needs to burn itself out in power. That is the only way a genuine non-tyrannical secular society might one day emerge. The seeds of this are already present in Egypt and Turkey.

The alternative is the Assad 'strategy' of increasing police state measures to the point of flattening much of your country. Is Syria secular yet?

Paul Escobar

Mr. Lang & all,

I would like to take a shot at explaining people like Maryam. They have appeared here in many forms, secular & religious. They always seem to make the same argument (inevitably clashing with Mr. Lang).

They believe in the majority "mandate". Such a mandate can be determined within a democracy through electoral votes...or within a tyranny through demographics & private polling. Hence, Mr. Lang, your observation that such people are fine with "one election, only one time".

They view the "mandate" as an evolutionary framework for society. They believe that as the majority experiments (through their tyrant or elected chief), they come to comprehend both successes & mistakes...and adapt accordingly.

So when you, Mr. Lang, complain about the barbaric aspects of their society...they are not overly concerned. They believe that such "mistakes" are momentary. Furthermore, they believe that such "mistakes" generate enough internal societal discomfort...that society will soon correct itself in pursuit of comfort.

Of course, their analysis is broad...and I'd say broadly accepted within the popular culture. What's great about this forum...is that it is challenged with rival precedents & merits.

I suppose after many years, and many posts, this argument bores you Mr. Lang. But I appreciate that you allow them to provoke you...up to the point of cleverness or personal nastiness.

Paul Escobar


Paul Escobar et al.

Snide cleverness will get you banned from this space every time. This is supposed to be a place for respectful, rational discourse, not the venting of one's emotional "cleverness" in pursuit of some deeply felt purpose. In re Maryam, the decision on "her" part to misstate my position resulted in banning. As for Paul's major point, there is a general belief in the evolving nature of human society that I do not share. Societies change because economic and other circumstances change and because human actors change the societies. We are now witnessing in Syria an attempt to change the nature of a society based on the long held and deeply funded wishes of the gulf Arabs. pl


The MOL Comfort, thought to be shipping weapons to Syria, broke up off the coast of Yemen due to 'unexplained circumstances'.

I didn't know the Russians had a sub with that name.

Babak Makkinejad

In general, I could agree with you. Certainly that was my attitude towards the Islamic Salvation Front's election win in Alegria - who am I to argue with people who wish to be ruled by Islamic parties?

Likewise, in Egypt, I thought Mubarak regime to have passed its shelf life and when Ikhwan came to power I believed that one has to se how they governed (they do not seem to be able to).

And I think people could, in some ways, learn from their mistakes and one cannot live an alien people's history for them.

On the other hand, where states have been destroyed or removed from a territory, only chaos has resulted: Somalia, Afghansiatn, Congo are good examples.

[Where chaos has not followed - Bosnia, Kosovo - Western powers had to go in to contain the damage.]

I think if Syrian government is destoryed, the situation will resemble more Afghanistan or Somalia than Egypt or Iran (after the Islamic Revolution).

Babak Makkinejad

I think one always has hope for things to improve and when looking historically, one can see that situation in Europe and North America has improved compared to say 1875 - that is mistakes were corrected etc.

Al Arabist

What 'rising tide of Islamism?' The Asads, like the Generals before them and the Ottomans, have always dealt with political Islam. Bashar just messed up and mishandled his client status with the west. He's not MORE hated by the political Islam crowd than anyone else, you know.

Al Arabist

The Nabhani way of thinking coexisted with the Ottoman empire just as local Islamists tolerated Bashar.

Paul Escobar



I, for one, am not comfortable rendering any judgement on whose conception is correct. Observing the exchanges between the likes of Maryam & Mr. Lang is fruitful enough, at this point in my life.

Really, the point of my post is that people like Maryam are not very self-aware or honest about what they are actually advocating. That is why they get frustrated when confronted & challenged...and they inevitably lash out.

My contribution to ending an apparently vicious cycle,
Paul Escobar


Funny you say that Tyler. When I read about this sinking last week, I instantly thought of the S. Korean warship that got itself split in half a few years back. Putin is playing for keeps.

Medicine Man

Quite so -- he was a proud member of the "stay the course"-chorus long beyond the point where there was even a fig-leaf of sense behind it. My favorite Friedman-ism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedman_Unit

In Friedman's case, I wouldn't call this attacking the messenger; some people should wear the fruits of their past cheer leadering around their neck.

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