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27 November 2015


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Excuse me. Can someone tell me where to find any statistics on coalition POWs in this civil war? Or besides bombing MSF hospital are we going to have more problems defending our coalition partners?


what's the exceptional nation supposed to do? it couldn't stay home and mind its own business! that would upend the trend of being the uni-polar exceptional nation that many within the usa see it as..


There is also the problems of energy and climate change. Lessening, as much as possible, reliance upon oil in the transportation industry (and coal in the electricity sector), would, in one fell swoop, mitigate a lot of the problems surrounding the Gulf states and Russia. It's a hard problem, and nothing Obama would have done would likely have had any political payoff during his time in office: nonetheless, it cannot be ignored. Obama has not expended much effort on it, on the technological or financial sides. When He, or Kerry do say something about energy, oil or climate change, it is quite laughable.


I originally thought you were using Bottom in a sexual connotation but then caught that was supposed to be Titania.

Either fits I reckon.


"undermining Hosni Mubarak and letting the Muslim Brotherhood come to power,"

I don't agree this was an error. This is something Egyptians need to work out.



As the good Colonel would say, the Washington borg will be after you Mr. Sale. You must be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

Chris Chuba

That is quite a list, are we supposed to grade them in order of harmfulness?
1.A. Not listed but I would add as the worst mistake his tepid support for Iraq's central govt by disallowing air support for the Shiite militia's (after Tikrit for minor abuses) in retaking Iraq from ISIS. His 1 air sortie per day (factoring in unused ordnance) has allowed the #1 threat of anarchy, ISIS to metastasize in the region.

1. Ghadhafi - because it created the most instability, setup ISIS in Libya, provided foreign fighters in Syria, betrayed someone who made a deal with us and did everything we asked of him, setup a CIA operation for arms to Syria. The only good thing was that it is widely acknowledged to be a HUGE mistake except by the harpy Clinton and the imbecile Rubio who frighteningly have a good shot at the White House.

2. Escalating tensions in Ukraine even after Europe tried to de-escalate them, this weakened Russia, even Ukraine, and was basically the worst resurrection of Cold War thinking and undermined an ally in the GWOT. The only reason it was not #1 was because Putin handled the situation so well.

3. The other stuff is tied for #3 only because if anyone else was in the White House they would have been even worse. I just hope that Obama does not get more active in this highly destructive mission and that he runs out the clock so that team Russia and fix Syria before a lunatic gets in office in 2017.

Yes, all of these were huge mistakes.


"I just hope that Obama does not get more active in this highly destructive mission and that he runs out the clock so that team Russia and fix Syria before a lunatic gets in office in 2017."

Yes. Every single one of them, with the exception of Sanders, maybe, will try to 'out-man' Putin in the hopes of intimidating him. What Americans don't get about Russia is that the decade after their capitulation in the Cold War was a catastrophe of nightmarish proportions. By the end of it, deaths in Russia were exceeding births by a million a year.

The Russian people will hang any leader who even thinks about backing down before the West ever again..

William R. Cumming

Richard thanks for list! IMO the basic problem of the US FP leadership is almost total ignorance of history and strategy.

Perhaps a quick lesson contained in the quotes that follow sent to me by a friend:

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
~Abraham Lincoln

Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
~Adolph Hitler

Any excuse will serve a tyrant.

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
~Albert Camus

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
~Albert Einstein

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
~Albert Einstein

The next war … may well bury Western civilization forever.
~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.
~Alexander Hamilton

Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
~Benjamin Franklin

The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.
~Charles-Louis De Secondat

Name me an emperor who was ever struck by a cannonball.
~Charles V of France

We…are not really free if we can’t control our own government and its policies. And we will never do that if we remain ignorant.
~Charley Reese

True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else.
~Clarence Darrow

You cannot be on one hand dedicated to peace and on the other dedicated to violence. Those two things are irreconcilable.
~Condoleeza Rice

As a rule of thumb, if the government wants you to know it, it probably isn’t true.
~Craig Murray

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised “for the good of its victims” may be the most oppressive.
~C. S. Lewis

Today the real test of America’s power and wisdom is not our capacity to make war but our capacity to prevent it.
~Dale Turner

Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything you have.
~Davy Crockett

From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.
~Denis Diderot

Conflict cannot survive without your participation.
~Dr. Wayne Dyer

We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
~Edward Abbey

Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.
~Edward Everett

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?’
~Eve Merriam

The State acquires power… and because of its insatiable lust for power it is incapable of giving up any of it. The State never abdicates.
~Frank Chodorov

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities.
~Frank Herbert

The evils of government are directly proportional to the tolerance of the people.
~Frank Kent

In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.
~Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The military doesn’t start wars. The politicians start wars.
~General William Westmoreland

War is fear cloaked in courage.
~General William Westmoreland

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful…They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.
~George W. Bush

Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously–and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.
~George W. Bush

In peace, sons bury their fathers; in war, fathers bury their sons.

When fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.
~H.L. Menken

Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people…
~Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
~Issac Asimov

We believed ourselves indestructible… watching only the madmen outside our frontiers, and we remained defenseless against our own madmen.
~Jacobo Timerman

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
~James Madison

All men having power ought to be mistrusted.
~James Madison

If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.
~James Madison

The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad.
~James Madison

It is always more valuable to report the truth.
~Jean-Paul Sartre

I’m afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.
~Jim Garrison

There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.
~John Adams

The real fabric of American society is not all those flags you see on people’s cars…it’s in the Bill of Rights and in our constitutional form of government.
~John Adams (composer)

It is harder to preserve than to obtain liberty.
~John C. Calhoun

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values.
~John F. Kennedy

A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.
~John F. Kennedy

All mankind…being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.
~John Locke

Those who suppress freedom always do so in the name of law and order.
~John V. Lindsay

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
~Julia Ward Howe

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.

Man is the only animal that is cruel. It kills just for the sake of it.
~Mark Twain

Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t.
~Mark Twain

Be loyal to your country always, and to the government only when it deserves it.
~Mark Twain

Social order at the expense of liberty is hardly a bargain.
~Marquis de Sade

Nothing good ever comes of violence.
~Martin Luther King, Jr

If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle…your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Politics and crime are the same thing.
~Michael Corleone (from “The Godfather: Part III”)

The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments.
~Michael Parenti

There are only two powers in the world: the sword and the mind. In the long run, the sword is always defeated by the mind.
~Napoleon Bonaparte

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.

Violence is not power, but the absence of power.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The tyrant always talks as if he’s preserving the best interests of his people when he actually acts to undermine them.
~Ramman Kenoun

Power is usurped from the people, first by implementing fear, then it is maintained by slandering as ‘unpatriotic’ those who refuse submission.
~Ramman Kenoun

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.

A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.
~Thomas Jefferson

I know of no safe depository of the ultimate power of the society but the people themselves.
~Thomas Jefferson

Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.
~Ulysses S. Grant



ISIS does have a small carbon footprint. The bigger they get the smaller it gets. That's one way to cure global warming.


I would place Assad as number one. Even if you really, truly believed Assad needed to go, the situation has changed. That Obama has continued to insist on prioritizing Assad's removal demonstrates incredible rigidity. As to your others, Ghadafi should be high on the list, and I think we overestimate our influence in Egypt and probably the Ukraine, so would place those at the bottom.


Babak Makkinejad

In my opinion, is biggest mistake was escalation against Iran that was leading to war in the Spring of 2012.

He corrected course eventually and settled for a deal - "Time-Limited Enrichment" - that had been on the table since 2006 but not before having pushed Iranians - once again - too far and having ignited the war in Syria.

He could have settled for that "Time-Limited Enrichment" - created by Gareth Evans - the former Australian Foreign Minister - in 2008 and proceeded to work through strategic understandings with Iranians.

Instead, he and EU leaders and Russia decided on trying to crush Iran. I believe that was the key strategic mistake by him; spending the first 5 years of his term being, in effect, Bush Lite.

Significantly, in my estimation, EU leaders understand this but will not admit it but obliquely.

Now, of course, it is too late to reach any strategic understanding with Iran - Russia has peeled herself off from the anti-Iran coalition and there is not sufficient time left in Mr. Obama's presidency to work on anything except JCOPA with Iran.



I suppose that Shakespeare may have thought it amusing to call this groundling Bottom because he knew that he intended to make him an ass. pl



When John Cusack, Ed Snowden, Dan Ellsberg and Arundathi Roy meet in a Moscow hotel room.

And the article by John Cusack.


Fits with the general theme of your quotes that government should be limited and those in power should be treated with great skepticism. But....the majority of the American people want big and bigger government intervening in more and more aspects of their lives.



I always assumed that was purposeful as well.



I had three semesters of Shakespeare as an English major at VMI. His manipulation of the audience's feelings toward each other as groups is a wondrous thing to behold. I don't remember if the other great Elizabethan playwrights did that. His audiences had people seated in tiers in the "wooden o" but the common people stood on the ground in front of the stage. So, they were called "groundlings." He built characters like them into his plays. They always spoke in prose while his gentlefolk spoke in iambic pentameter. the English department staff often took us (English majors) to performances in Washington and elsewhere. We all had the complete works and they insisted that we should have memorized them before seeing a play. So, we few we happy few among so many engineers, would sit around in a study room reciting the parts to each other and discussing the play to be seen. I love the Bard. pl


Shakes' insight into the smallest thing that could elucidate a complete character was remarkable. And it was never cruel, which is one of the many reasons he has withstood the centuries. (I mean 'cruel' in the sense that a writer of plays must love his characters and all their foibles and hates as much as he admires their strengths, otherwise he can't write them fully. And the writer can't sneer at them either, the dead giveaway of a novice with an 'activist' agenda.)

William R. Cumming

The City of Staunton down the valley from Lexington now has an excellent Shakespeare Theatre.

Richard Sale

Thank you very much for this!


Richard Sale

Good post. For compression of thought and warmth and depth of personality and mastery of construction , he stands alone.

Richard Sale

Richard Sale

that is extremely well said.



So was yours.


Thank you, Mr Cumming, it was a rare pleasure!

Make sure every child has really read all novels of Mr Pratchett. Then make sure each and every university person re-read them. He transposes the above idea with a devastatingly benevolent sense of humor

Terry Pratchett + old-variety apples! And a new Earth shall arise

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