Monday, April 6, 2015

Reading Monday April 6

John Oliver Grills Edward Snowden on ‘Last Week Tonight’

Explicit content that may be too off color for some. CNN calls this arguably the toughest interview of Snowden that we have seen. Video at the link.  Here are the key excerpts:

Oliver didn’t pull any punches. “How many of those documents have you actually read?” he asked Snowden with a palpable air of skepticism. “I do understand what I turned over,” the ex-CIA systems admin mumbled.
Not good enough. “There’s a difference between understanding what’s in the documents and reading what’s in the documents… because when you’re handing over thousands of NSA documents the last thing you’d want to do is read them,” Oliver said.
He continued, “So the New York Times took a slide, didn’t redact it properly, and in the end it was possible for people to see that something was being used in Mosul on al Qaeda.”
“That is a problem,” Snowden replied.
“Well, that’s a fu**up,” said Oliver.
“It is a fu**up, and those things do happen in reporting. In journalism, we have to accept that some mistakes will be made. This is a fundamental concept of liberty,” Snowden said.

“Right. But you have to own that then,” grilled Oliver. “You’re giving documents with information you know could be harmful, which could get out there.”
Snowden is stunned to near-silence, not expecting such a contentious line of questioning from the bespectacled late-night host.

Lessons from North Korea

How to Avoid a Nuclear Iran


Obama seems to have had even less of an interest than Bush in a nuclear deal, let alone in a political settlement, with North Korea. Starting in 2009, Pyongyang staged its second nuclear breakout by pushing ahead with a uranium program and conducting more nuclear and missile tests. Obama only briefly considered resurrecting a nuclear freeze deal and never seriously pursued a settlement with either the ailing Kim Jong Il or the cherubic Kim Jong Un. Obama may leave office convinced he did the right thing with regard to North Korea by not rewarding “bad behavior,” as he said in March 2012, but history is likely to be a harsher judge.
Fortunately, it is not too late for Obama to make the right choices in dealing with Iran. By learning from Clinton’s failure to turn a nuclear deal with North Korea into a political settlement, he can at least try to avoid the same mistake in the Middle East. Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani should seize the opportunity their nuclear agreement has created to forge a political and strategic realignment of U.S.-Iranian relations. From Capitol Hill to Riyadh to Jerusalem, the opposition has already begun to mobilize. With the U.S. presidential campaign season looming, Obama will have to seize the moment by taking bold steps to permanently transform U.S.-Iranian relations. The nuclear deal opens the gateway to normalization, which is the best hope for making sure the nuclear freeze really sticks.
April 5, 2015
John Delury
JOHN DELURY is Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies in Seoul, South Korea.

Defining The Relationship

Terminology and the Iran Deal

All along, the deal has been treated as if the parties will be able to back down at any time, divorcing the agreement from international law and binding obligations. For example, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), author of the controversial open letter signed by 47 Republican senators opposed to negotiations with Iran, has been vocal about the signatories’ willingness to strike down any future deal, indicating that there is little chance any future agreement will be viewed as binding in the United States. Beyond winning over a skeptical Congress, the Obama administration will also need to convince the next president that the framework is worth continuing despite there being no law mandating its execution after Obama ends his term in 2016. Iranian leaders also face the risk of their parliament revoking the deal at any time; Tehran’s governing body has even more leeway over international agreements than the U.S. Congress. If both sides can dismiss the deal at will, without penalty under international law, then former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton (a man not known for his love of international law) might have had a point when he said that “if the deal is that fragile, they don’t have a deal.”
The marathon negotiation sessions achieved a course of action with a 25-year road map and an agreement without a sunset date, providing a strong show of confidence on all sides that any deal will have the full force and effect it deserves under international law. Unlike many other political commitments, the nuclear deal was negotiated against the backdrop of complex legal issues, including a web of national, regional, and UN sanctions. The number of involved parties—national governments, regional bodies, the UN, and the International Atomic Energy Agency—hints at the seriousness of the framework and the upcoming deal. Some of the undertakings each side has committed to uphold within the framework will be irreversible and of a legal nature. Given the sheer complexity of factors weighing in on the nuclear discussion that concluded this week, Iran’s comprehensive nuclear deal is more than a toothless political commitment.

April 5, 2015
Farshad Ghodoosi
FARSHAD GHODOOSI is Howard M. Holtzmann Fellow in international dispute resolution at Yale Law School.


Good words from Frank:

Thus, my counter-proposal:
To artfully design and coherently link achievable ends, allocated means, effective ways, with acceptable risks to generate, exploit and sustain a competitive advantage against an enemy to secure desired political effects and outcomes.
So with a tip of the cap to Cavanaugh for his initiative. I offer mine above to continue the conversation in our pages. The inclusion of artcoherence,limited means, and competitive advantage are worth considering. They represent the critical elements of strategy and the ultimate test of what a good strategist has to create and sustain.



America is exceptional. The bold promise to humanity represented by the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence make it so. But exceptional does not mean exemptional. The promise of America on the world stage is not to declare itself exempt from the ideals, principles and rules of law, the violation of which we are so quick to condemn in others. If America is to lead, if America is to help promote stability and security in the world, it has to stop intervening and meddling so much in other societies and instead lead by example. The United States needs a strong and flexible defense, but the word defense cannot mean a blank check for parlor room geostrategists to play with the lives of real people and societies as if foreign policy and diplomacy were a more grandiose version of the board game Risk and an excuse to get invited on Sunday talk shows to prescribe the same failed policies as the panaceas for the messes they have created.

Saudi special forces 'involved in Yemen ops'

(Saudi) Army special forces supplied weapons and communications equipment to militia loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi in the main southern city of Aden, the adviser told AFP.
Naval special forces provided "coordination and guidance" to enable the loyalist fighters to launch a counter-attack on the rebels.
Special forces "will continue their engagements" with the fighters loyal to Hadi, who has sought refuge in Saudi Arabia, said the adviser, who did not want to be identified.
He said army and navy special forces were also involved in operations against Huthi units that "invaded" Myun Island in the Bab al-Mandab Strait, through which much of the world's maritime trade passes.

Upset by political gridlock? Blame the baby boomers

US' war on terror kills over 80,000 people in Pak: report

The 101 page report from the Physicians for Social Responsibility (and others) can be downloaded here.  Have not seen this discussed in US and mainstream media.  Google the title and you will find it referenced in Middle Eastern and South Asian press, some European fringe outlet and RT (Russia) as well as the usual anti-US media.

N.Korea Changes Camouflage of Infiltration Planes

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