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David Scheiner
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Du sollst nach Bend, OR reisen. 30 jetzt. 300 tage sonnenschein. 
"Ich wollte nur zur Aussicht gehen..."

Spring!!! Enttäusch mich nicht! Spring für mich! Spring ins Licht!
Ich schleich mich heimlich auf die Brücke Tret ihm von hinten in den Rücken Erlöse ihn von dieser Schmach und schrei ihm nach
Spring!!! Enttäusch mich nicht! Spring für mich! Spring ins Licht!

How can something turn into something...else... There's always somebody to "help" it

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Answers to some of the many absurd claims in Tony Blair's defense of the Iraq invasion:

"We will have to re-think our strategy towards Syria; support the Iraqi Government in beating back the insurgency; whilst making it clear that Iraq’s politics will have to change for any resolution of the current crisis to be sustained. Then we need a comprehensive plan for the Middle East that correctly learns the lessons of the past decade. In doing so, we should listen to and work closely with our allies across the region, whose understanding of these issues is crucial and who are prepared to work with us in fighting the root causes of this extremism which goes far beyond the crisis in Iraq or Syria."

Yes, we do. Similarly, we need to find a way to attain global peace in which we run the world in a more effective manner. Totally reasonable, but what does it mean? And who are 'we' really? If 'we' means the United States, then let us start from the premise, maybe more like fact, that 'we' cannot agree on almost anything. We can't even agree how to deal with healthcare in our own country, let alone how to implement peace in a region with possibly the most complex history on the planet coupled with possession of a large amount of an extremely sensitive global resource and deep sectarian conflict to boot.

And if by 'we' we mean the United States and the UK, in which case there will be perfect harmony at least at the level of government because once the US announces its decision, however that is made, we know where the UK government will stand regardless which party is in power; what then? Do 'we' in that sense have the power to put whatever plan is developed into effect no matter how sensible? How many peace plans in Israel alone have fallen down after one single act of violence?

"...because some of the commentary has gone immediately to claim that but for that decision, Iraq would not be facing this challenge; or even more extraordinary, implying that but for the decision, the Middle East would be at peace right now; it is necessary that certain points are made forcefully before putting forward a solution to what is happening now."

This is a classic example of the kind of sophistry that made Blair the man he was; and I mean that in a good way and bad. Look at Blair using his skills to wipe the floor with the man who is the demagogue du jour in the UK circa 2014:

Nigel Farage vs Tony Blair FULL VERSION

A beautiful turn of phrase, far beyond the reach of any of the current batch of leaders, and Farrage is put in his place. But to what end? Farrage is now stirring UK politics and Blair is running his faith-based website and writing garbage such as the piece linked here. 

Here we see the standard Blair straw man: someone argues that the Middle East would be at peace if only we had not invaded Iraq. A link or two might be nice here. I've not seen any such arguments. Googling 'middle east would be at peace if we had not invaded iraq' brings back mainly links to things written or said by Blair himself. No one else says anything like this. What they, or we if i include myself, say is something along the lines of: we expended a hell of a lot of blood and money to make things, at best the same as they would have been anyway in Iraq. Along the way, we showed the world how limited our ability is to project power and impose our will, a very serious cost in my view. We strengthened our biggest enemy in the region, Iran, and we appear to have fatally weakened the notion of a unified Iraqi state, if that had ever been a good thing to begin with.' That's some legacy.

"Three or four years ago al-Qa'ida in Iraq was a beaten force. The country had massive challenges but had a prospect, at least, of overcoming them. It did not pose a threat to its neighbours."

Yes. And eleven years ago, al-Qa'ida in Iraq was a non-existent force. That's a fact ( Yes there was a pre-cursor group in place, something which allows Blair to rely on the assumption the rest of us won't look up his 'facts' to claim they were there all along. The real fact is they only became a problem after the invasion. We cannot claim defeat of them as a good achievement if we created the conditions that permitted them to rise in the first place.

As for the massive challenges faced by Iraq, would it be fair to say that at least some of those were, if not caused by, at least inflamed by the invasion?

It goes on and on. How about this one?

"What we now know from Syria is that Assad, without any detection from the West, was manufacturing chemical weapons. We only discovered this when he used them. We also know, from the final weapons inspectors reports, that though it is true that Saddam got rid of the physical weapons, he retained the expertise and capability to manufacture them. Is it likely that, knowing what we now know about Assad, Saddam, who had used chemical weapons against both the Iranians in the 1980s war that resulted in over one million casualties and against his own people, would have refrained from returning to his old ways? Surely it is at least as likely that he would have gone back to them."

Yet, we have not taken the kind of action against Assad that we took against Saddam. Partly, that is because after the colossal failure in Iraq, we lacked the means and the will to go into Syria in any meaningful way. Which begs the question: if action against Saddam was so urgent, why is it clearly not so urgent now? In fairness to Blair, he believes it is urgent ( 

And this:

"So it is a bizarre reading of the cauldron that is the Middle East today, to claim that but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis."

Again a straw man. How about this instead? But for the invasion, we would be in a far better position to exert influence now. But for the added instability created by the invasion, we might have an unstable middle east, but not as unstable as the one we now have and not unstable in the same way.

The best I can say for Blair and his ilk is that after some generations of this, maybe people in the Middle East will work out some kind of peace among themselves. If that happens, maybe in some twisted corners of ME academia in the future there will be revisionists who will argue that the Bush-Blair invasion deserves more credit than it is given for the era of peace, stability and general prosperity that started in the 2100's.

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A lot of people outside the UK will not know who Bob Crowe was and a lot in the UK will say good riddance. But progressives all over the Anglo world should take note of one thing: in an era of declining wages for nearly all working people, Bob Crowe's members kept good wages. There is a reason for that, and that is that Bob Crowe never backed down, never let the right wing press in Britain deter him in the slightest. I suspect he considered their attacks to be a badge of honor. He will be missed, or should be.

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Interesting question. Conservatives defends the Arizona statute that was recently vetoed on the general principle that forcing them not to discriminate in this area violates their religious liberty. Now for the irony: how many times have we heard that allowing full marriage rights to same sex couples would open the door to all kinds of practices, such as bigamy, pedophilia and even bestiality.

But what about granting the kind of religious liberty they speak of? Where do these people stand on the prohibition of bigamy in particular that Mormons were forced to adopt and that a splinter sect still refuses to adhere to? If allowing same sex marriage opens the door to bestiality, how does the vision of religious liberty they espouse not lead to bigamy should there be a group, as there already has been, that believes in it?

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Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has apparently made a definitive statement against running for Parliament in 2015. Given he is the most popular Tory politician in the UK (aka the only popular Tory politician in the UK) and that he has been looked at by conservatives as a savior for some time, one has to wonder at this.

I see two possibilities. One is that the kind of anti-politics Johnson has used to win two London elections (see: in which he pits voters in outer London boroughs against the inner city might not work so well in a national election. Like Rob Ford, Johnson has committed many gaffes ranging from repeated extra-marital affairs to general goofiness. These win plaudits when no one actually has to vote for him, or when he has a job with relatively few responsibilities, like Mayor of London. Becoming Prime Minister is another matter.

Another possibility is hinted in the Guardian piece. George Osborne wanted Johnson to run so he could bear 'equal responsibility for the election result'. The Tories failed to win a mandate in the last election and have done nothing to enhance their position since. They won largely because of anger over the financial collapse which allowed them to pin Gordon Brown to that collapse. Not even the apparent signs of economic growth that are happening now are enough to help them (small wonder since these are almost entirely down to bubble economics and precious little of the benefits of that growth are going to ordinary voters --

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