Monday, August 29, 2016

Ding Dong

Social media says that Islam Karimov is already dead, although I can't find a news organization confirming that yet. There are just articles about how sick he is like this one. But just the fact that the UZ government is letting anyone openly discuss Karimov's illness is a clear sign that things are really serious. If you follow the official news, I don't think the guy has ever even had a runny nose since he became president in 1991.

In any case (and I'm stealing this from a FB friend), if you want to impress your friends with your arcane knowledge of Uzbekistan's internal politics, go read this post. TL;DR: If Karimov has really kicked it, Rustam Inoyatov is the one to watch. (And no, he is not the Uzbek president's dentist. Maybe the dentist would be the next one to watch. Am I the only one secretly hoping for a succession-by-dentist tradition to develop in post-Soviet Central Asia?)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Green Lanternism on the Green Revolution

Eli Lake thinks that if only Obama had spoken more forcefully in favor of the protesters in the 2009 Green Revolution, that movement would have succeeded.  Lake compares how U.S. pressure was used to encourage Slobodan Milosevic and Eduard Shevardnadze to step down from power peacefully in Serbia and Georgia, respectively, but ignores the fact that the U.S. has been applying all kinds of pressure on Iran to change that regime since 1979 with little to show for it. Unlike Serbia in 2000 or Georgia in 2003, each of which had clear economic and political incentives to maintain good relations with the U.S. and thus was receptive to its wishes, Iran in 2009 was already clearly out of the U.S.'s favor and had no business ties with America after decades of economic sanctions.

Oddly, Lake does not mention the 2003 Iranian protests. In that case, President Bush spoke out in favor of the protesters, just like Lake claims President Obama should have done in 2009. Of course, Bush's words did not cause the Ayatollah to voluntarily relinquish power over Iran to student protest leaders. Why would it? The U.S. already had stringent sanctions against Iran. Bush's words did not carry with them the implicit threaten Iran with any economic loss or lack of political support in the future--the Iranian leadership knew they had no economic or political support from the U.S. to lose. So they ignored him and crushed the protest. Just as they did in 2009, whether or not Obama had spoken more forcefully.

(via Memeorandum)

"Pure fiction"

I'm sure the Clinton Foundation "scandal" is already firmly lodged in the public's mind as some nefarious, if not completely understood, scheme (much like all the other Clinton scandals), but it is nice to see when people actually try to figure out if there is anything to the story.

Money well spent

They're marks, not campaign donors.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


It is remarkable how often the media portrays virtually anything related to the Clintons as a scandalSee also.

Unfortunately only Scott and Nancy seemed to have read the story underneath the WaPo headline.

ADDING: A similar take from Paul Waldman.

There is no political cost to selling out Yemen to improve Saudi ties

It's surprising how little attention the Saudi's brutal bombing campaign in Yemen is getting. It only makes the paper whenever a hospital is bombed, or a market, or a wedding, and unfortunately those things have happened on a fairly regular basis. Still, those stories have generated little interest in the conflict. The U.S.'s support of the bombing campaign is getting almost no scrutiny in the U.S. The support is inexplicable other than a sop to the Saudis to try to assuage their concerns about the Iran nuclear deal.

I'm glad that Ted Lieu is fighting the good fight on this issue, but I'm pretty pessimistic that the American public will care about a middle east conflict that is not about terrorism directed at the West or Israel.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Maybe Russia blew it, or maybe not.

Well so much for that. Iran now says that Russia is no longer using its territory to launch air strikes against targets in Syria because Russian officials had spoken openly about the arrangement. Iran's defense minister characterized the Russians' comments as "kind of show off an ungentlemanly."

So  either Russia lost access to Iranian bases, or Russia continues to use Iranian bases, but both countries will pretend they aren't and will keep quiet about it going forward. For the Iranians the main point is not whether they can use Iranian territory, it is that Iran not be seen as allowing a foreign power to use its air bases.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The supreme argument

I wonder if more people are voting for Clinton just because of the Supreme Court than the number of people voting for Trump just because of the Supreme Court. The Court is the argument of last recourse for reluctant voters in both parties. Do those reluctant voters cancel each other out, or does the argument give one side a clear advantage?