Morning Ed: Crime {2017.06.07.W}

[Cr1] The secret story of a fake documentary and the insurrectionist Bundy family.

[Cr2] Is “self-defense” a racist concept of privilege?

[Cr3] Uhhh, yeah. Good luck there, Bill.

[Cr4] Interview With a Pirate. (Or, at least, one of the biggest facilitators of piracy.

[Cr5] Good god.

[Cr6] Because videos are tougher, some are sending family flipbooks to inmates.

[Cr7] It’s hard not to read this story and not think of Steve Earle’s Ellis Unit One.

[Cr8] If the story holds up, no jury convicts.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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115 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Crime {2017.06.07.W}

  1. If convicted, she faces up to 99 years behind bars.

    For killing 60 babies, in Texas? What’s with that? I mean, other than the obvious “male privilege” explanation?

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  2. The issue with privilege always seems to come down to in theory and practice/as applied.

    In theory, self-defense and Stand Your Ground laws are race neutral on their face.

    In practice or as applied, there is a lot of evidence that Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, Judges, and Juries believe white people more readily when self-defense. Remember the woman who shot a gun into the air against her abusive boyfriend and tried to claim stand your ground but got a long sentence anyway? She was black. IIRC she did get her sentence thrown out upon appeal but it took a large amount of coverage and pressure for this to happen.

    As always with racism, the tricky and maybe impossible issue is how to get from the racist as applied to neutral application of the law.

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    • You are speaking of the Marissa Alexander case. She tried to use SYG as a defense to firing a warning shot, which SYG didn’t cover at the time. Therefore the judge was correct in throwing that out. An appellate court ordered a new trial on a different issue but not because the judge threw out the SYG defense. None of it was racism that I can see. Since then a new law allows warning shots in some circumstances. She might be a victim of zealous over prosecution by a DA but that isn’t necessarily racist.

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          • Personally, I would prefer to see subversion of legitimate function of government recognized as terrorism, so that judges & prosecutors can be tried by military tribunals and subsequently executed.

            There are strong statements on the record calling for a political solution.
            Hanging by the neck until dead constitutes a legitimate political solution.
            Give them Guantanamo.

            The legal profession, and the judiciary, are largely without any meaningful oversight.
            Consequently, there is no organization on Earth– not even al-Qaeda– which is so wholly opposed to the goals of the United States military as is the judiciary of the United States.

            I grew up in a military family, with a strong sense of duty.
            I find that sense of duty sorely lacking among government employees generally.
            If a soldier walking a watch tried to pull that kind of crap, there would be hell to pay.

            I believe the average mafioso is less criminally-inclined than the average judge.

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      • a victim of zealous over prosecution by a DA

        Colloquially, this is known as “prosecutorial discretion.”
        It’s one of those terms invented to signify its opposite isn’t what it is.
        A prosecutor is typically a poorly-performing attorney who needs the judge arbitrarily ruling in their favor to win a case, a heavy thumb on the scales of justice.

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    • Also the Second Amendment, which, we are told, bestows an absolute right to carry weapons–yet a black man carrying something that more or less resembles a weapon can be gunned down with impunity.

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          • Trigger happy cops gunning down black people whenever they feel vaguely threatened are going to provide a strong practical barrier to black people exercising their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

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              • If black people are practically unable to exercise a supposed right to self defense, because doing so places them in unacceptable, unjustified danger from law enforcement, while the same isn’t true for white people…

                …how is “self defense” as a concept not racist?

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                • If black people are practically unable to exercise a supposed right to self defense,

                  Do you have any proof that this is even true? Or is just a figment of your fevered imagination? Also just so you know, laws like stand your ground don’t have a racial requirement or component to them.

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                      • “…because it is granted to people ‘defending’ themselves from members of racial minorities when it doesn’t apply, while being denied to members of those racial minorities even when it does apply.”

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                        • I see, concepts can become racist because they are applied badly in real life. Wow, that’s some really good liberal doublethink. I’d like to know what other liberals think of this deep thought.

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                              • How do we know that about laws for self-defense?

                                There’s actually a pretty long history, that hasn’t, you know, actually stopped, of advocating reforms making it easier to engage in “self-defense” that are really racist. There is also a very strong tendency for people who are creepy white-nationalists, neo-Nazis, alt-righters, et c. to be big “self-defense” advocates.

                                To be clear, I’m arguing that scary racists are self-defense advocates, but that absolutely doesn’t imply that self-defense advocates are scary racists.

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                                • We got our basis for self defense laws from the Brits, but I guess you claim they were racist as well. Yes, some folks have advocated for making self defense easier, but that doesn’t prove they are racist. I mean if you have actual evidence that laws like SYG are predicted on racism I’m all ears. But I’m not going to assume that everything is predicated on racism as you so fervently seem to believe.

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                                  • 1. SYG laws are an explicit step away from the British common law on self-defense.

                                    2. Even if we’re talking about self-defense traditions that predate SYG, the appeal to British origins is weak. We also got our basis for slavery from the Brits, and indeed the the Founding Fathers who owned slaves were slave-owners before the Revolution, too.

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                                    • But I still don’t see any proof that moving away from the British foundation is racist. Do you have any or will you just continue to claim it is without any substantive proof. Maybe one of the other liberals here can come help you.

                                      Heck I’m an NRA member, does that make me a creepy racist or a supporter of my civil rights?

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                • That doesn’t make it conceptually racist. It does make it another great argument for why law enforcement needs more consistent oversight and accountability.

                  I just don’t get this line of thinking that says the best way to keep minorities from being denied rights is to restrict the rights of everyone more generally.

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                  • I’m personally suspicious of an absolute right to self-defense in general. It can be a mitigating factor but I don’t think we should be encouraging vigilantism in anyone.

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                    • That seems more of an issue of stand your ground versus the historical common law approach (duty to retreat, castle doctrine, etc.). Personally I don’t favor SYG either but I am comfortable with a duty to retreat except in your own home as the traditional common law would have it. I think it walks a reasonable line between not punishing violence legitimately used for self preservation while also not incentivizing vigilantism or killing the other party to a confrontation so he can’t bear witness against you.

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                  • That doesn’t make it conceptually racist.

                    I’m not sure how you can say that with certainty.

                    After all, I don’t see a historical or contemporary tradition of “self-defense” in the United States that isn’t really racist. Just because you can describe “self-defense” in a supposedly race-neutral way is very weak evidence; the same is true of literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses.

                    I just don’t get this line of thinking that says the best way to keep minorities from being denied rights is to restrict the rights of everyone more generally.

                    What if that’s the only practical way to keep members of minorities from being denied their rights?

                    The political movement to defend and expand the right to self-defense is tightly bound up in the coalition that thinks Jeff Sessions is a good choice for Attorney General. It’s easy to say that we can defeat one without defeating the other, but it seems much harder to prove.

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                    • Your first point is just not historically accurate. There are plenty of examples of black armed self defense in this country from former Union soldiers taking their rifles home to sporadic armed resistance to vigilante enforcement of Jim Crow to the Black Panthers.

                      Your second point, strikes me as saying that the only way to protect civil liberties from those who use them to support policy you don’t like is to destroy them. I guess theres a certain ironic truth to that but I don’t see how that type of precedent can ever help anyone, much less those already disadvantaged. It’s the people I think you fear most who reap the most benefit from such a situation.

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                      • There are plenty of examples of black armed self defense in this country from former Union soldiers taking their rifles home to sporadic armed resistance to vigilante enforcement of Jim Crow to the Black Panthers.

                        And there are plenty more examples of things working out the other way, either with what should have been legitimate self-defense claims being found insufficient, or clearly illegitimate self-defense claims where black people wound up dead being upheld.

                        And besides, some black people did manage to vote, get good educations, and build considerable wealth even in the face of Jim Crow.

                        Your second point, strikes me as saying that the only way to protect civil liberties from those who use them to support policy you don’t like is to destroy them.

                        Nope. I’m saying that, because of the way that the most important RKBA advocacy groups have bound themselves to a political coalition headed by creepy racists, defeating the creepy racists will also almost certainly mean defeating those advocacy groups, and building an effective counter-coalition likely means including gun control advocates and the like.

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                        • Take the NRA, what creepy racists have they politically bound themselves to? All I can see is that you are imputing racism to the NRA because of who supports them not because of any actual racism on the part of the NRA.

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                        • Most local and state level gun control laws were born out of the ashes of Jim Crow laws – i.e. when Jim Crows laws were struck down or repealed, states began passing strict gun control, and then enforcing it unevenly (good ol’ boys would get a verbal warning, black folks would get arrested or shot).

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                            • It’s not a counter argument, it’s the direct link to your point. Police are harder on armed minorities because there was a culture of being so, for a very long time, and the remnants of that culture are probably still in uniform, serving in police leadership positions around the country.

                              Culture can’t change over night, although as the Boomers retire and pass, it’ll change a bit more rapidly (Boomers have had a very tight grip on cultural norms for a very long time, Gen-x seems less inclined to hang on to cultural norms so aggressively).

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                        • So to make sure I’m following, your belief is that the best way to prevent bad faith claims of self defense is to eliminate it? Does that mean you’re comfortable throwing the book at people who in fact did no moral wrong as a sacrifice?

                          I don’t look at the past through rose colored lenses but your logic seems totally backwards. As others have said, people have abused their rights or used them to advance nefarious causes but I don’t get why you think disarming everyone of those rights is going to lead to better outcomes. I mean, is the answer for voters who support racist policies curbing suffrage? Given the history of this country is the concept that people should have a vote racist? I dont think so.

                          Regarding political coalitions maybe that can be useful for electoral success but I’m not sure you’ll get a more just world. There’s this insane belief that progressive-inspired mass criminalization (which is what you’re asking for) is somehow going to turn out differently than conservative-inspired mass criminalization. If you’re comfortable with that, that’s fine, but don’t pretend there’s no trade off or that you really care about those who will inevitably bear the brunt of it.

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                          • So to make sure I’m following, your belief is that the best way to prevent bad faith claims of self defense is to eliminate it?

                            Probably not. But nor should we be like, “Oh, well, we can’t possibly reconsider this in the light that there are many bad faith claims of self-defense.”

                            In particular, SYG laws almost seem to be designed to make it easier to succeed in claiming self-defense when you just committed straight-up murder, while shielding you from consequences. They also seem to be very popular with exceptionally racist dirtbags, which seems like it maybe isn’t a coincidence.

                            Regarding political coalitions maybe that can be useful for electoral success but I’m not sure you’ll get a more just world. There’s this insane belief that progressive-inspired mass criminalization (which is what you’re asking for) is somehow going to turn out differently than conservative-inspired mass criminalization.

                            Strangely enough, AG Sessions has taken a pretty bold stand in favor of reversing even the halting steps we’d made away from mass incarceration under the previous Administration. The ascension of Trump and his coterie of alt-right scumbags to the leadership of the Republican Party seems to have annihilated the minor-but-promising signs that conservatives were starting to tire of mass incarceration themselves.

                            We’ve also seen the WH, under the lead of Sessions, Gen. Kelly, and Trump, through itself fully behind abusive law enforcement practices, both on the part of ICE and on the part of local law enforcement.

                            So, no, I think we would have a much more just world without all of that. It’s likely less just than the world we would have without that and with a robust individual right to keep and bear arms, but I’m not sure we can get there from here. It’s awfully hard to convince a bunch of already gun-hostile Indivisible activists that gun control is bad when the premier anti-gun-control group in the country is saying right-wingers should arm themselves so they can shoot at left-wing protesters (who are often implicitly or even explicitly assumed to be people of color).

                            Believe me, I’ve actually tried.

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                            • Well it sounds like we are probably more in agreement than not. As I said above to Saul, I think SYG is bad policy. I’m also not happy about Sessions or his supporters, or really much of administration policy so far. That said, my post 9/11 gut check has become to oppose further empowering law enforcement/dis-empowering individuals against the state, even when those calls come from people I share agreement with on many other issues like preservation of the welfare state or the need to curb carbon emissions.

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              • Actually, the discussion expanded to the Second Amendment. I tried to make this clear by writing “Also the Second Amendment…” but apparently this was too nuanced.

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    • In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s non-murder, the Tampa Bay Times published a list of cases in which the SYG defense had been invoked (for some reason they included Zimmerman/Martin, despite SYG being irrelevant to Zimmerman’s defense). There’s no clear evidence of any strong racial bias. In cases involving a black defendant and white decedent or vice-versa, black defendants were slightly more likely to be convicted than white defendants, but this is based on samples of 7 and 8 cases, so it’s basically noise.

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  3. [Cr2] Is “self-defense” a racist concept of privilege?

    No.

    If we are going to dismiss every concept that has ever been used by white supremacists, by misogynists, by the xenophobic and the homophobic, then we are pretty much going to have to dismiss every concept that has ever existed (HINT: this is kind of the goal of these post-structuralist inspired ideologies).

    This relates to the idea of ditching free speech norms, because some people use them to excuse their bad behavior. It’s one thing to talk about the ways in which these various ideologies have used and abused certain ideas, certain rights, certain privileges, but beyond that these types of articles are just a big exercise in deploying logical fallacies.

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    • , as usual, gets at the heart of the problem with many of the issues, says it better that I can and gets up earlier in the morning to say it before I can. Well done sir!

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      • jr does pretty good, but he misses a subtle point. If post structuralism is geared to ditching norms, this may not apply to the current parameters of how ‘priviledge’ is being framed. The current frame work in priviledge is not to dismantle the current norms, but a call to modify them. This is standard socialist/progressive playbook text. Don’t dismantle but slowly bend the norms. Deny that group rights but grant them to that group over there.

        The academia communist fingerprint in the article being ‘capitalist privilege’.

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    • Worth noting: that the one-line summary of [Cr2] above is not in fact the lede of [Cr2].

      The lede of [Cr2] is:
      “Self-defense” in America safeguards the privileges of white men as possessors of property, arbiters of sexual access, and inflictors of violence.

      Not The common-law principle of “self-defense” in general.

      Not even the common-law principle of “self-defense” as it is worded in American law, if one ignores the context of enforcement of and access to those laws”.

      Arguments that the common-law principle in general is not in itself inherently racist, are orthogonal to the argument of [Cr2].

      Consider if someone puts for the argument “The mayor of Blurpleston is racist. [examples of racist utterances and exercises of mayoral power].”, and the counterargument is “That’s all a logical fallacy, here’s what the Blurpleston town charter says about the office of mayor [election, term of office, duties, salary, etc.]. See, nothing in that is racist.”

      The argument was never that the concept of an office of mayor is racist, it’s that the people of Blurpleston principally experience “the mayor” via the actions of the person currently occupying that office, not as the description of the office in the town charter, and that it is the actions of the person that are racist.

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    • I think, now that I’ve spent a lot of time arguing about this particular topic with some other folks, that there’s a third option in this case and many others. I think a lot of traditional concepts, including but by no means limited to, “self-defense” are really tangled up with, and tainted by, racism. But once you confront that, you aren’t necessarily bound to just say, “Screw it, we’ve got to toss the whole thing,” and in fact you may find that if you try to toss the whole thing you end up with something else that is just as mired in racism.

      So instead you have actually do some hard work, intellectual but also political, of figuring out if you can actually disentangle the racism and have something useful left over. In the case of self-defense and the closely related idea of an individual right to keep and bear arms, I think it’s possible. But, “It’s possible,” and, “It’s already done,” are often light-years apart.

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  4. [Cr2] Of course this assertion is made. I’m not even going to read through the beginning part of the article about how the leader of the NRA is a racist for killing a “brown” kid when he was young. (we’ll just lump the NRA/racism/self defense all as white priv.) Any day now, these bozos will be asserting that anything being “white” is a “racist concept of privilege”

    [Cr4] If you’re going to do something America don’t like, best not leave the country you live in. America pays money to a lot of countries. Those little countries are our bitch.

    [Cr5] Jeebus!

    [Cr8] “If the story holds up, no jury convicts.” Quoted for Truth.

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      • Well, ish is getting weird.

        This is just stuff that I’m getting from Reddit’s (heavily moderated, believe you me) r/Qatar.

        Check out this great political cartoon.

        Stuff is heating up and Qatar knows where bodies are buried *AND* they’re ticked off at the “hypocrisy” of Saudi Arabia.

        Saudi Arabia, by comparison, put down a surprisingly specific 10 point list of demands of Qatar.

        The top link, at this moment anyway, is one to how Turkey’s Parliament just approved sending troops to Qatar to help defend it.

        Iran/Saudi has been boiling since Atlantis was destroyed and now it looks like it’s finally coming to a head.

        (I’m hoping for curtailed, myself.)

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        • I mean, we all know that that part of the world has successfully exported a civil war.

          But doing it the way they did it means that they have to keep exporting it to keep it from being resolved the way that civil wars tend to resolve themselves.

          And Saudi has been supporting, erm, “activists” who have supported maintenance of the Holy Status Quo while Qatar has been a big supporter of, erm, “activists” who have supported Changing Things by Getting Back To Basics. “Reformation”, if you will.

          Remember what happened to Europe for a while there?
          Yeah, we’re gonna see that play out in the Middle East.

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        • I really wonder how much Qatar needs to defend itself since we have a giant air force base/complex there. Would all the other countries go in knowing we are established there and couldn’t get out within months or even years. Seems doubtful to me.

          I would assume any competent SecState/admin woudl be telling all the countries aligned against Q to not get militarily aggressive. There is of course one obvious problem with that.

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                  • The last thing the Qataries would want is for us to vacate our bases there.

                    I think the official position is that the US is siding with SA on this one, greg. Trump tweeted it. That’s Official US policy, dude.

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                    • But why would the Q’s want our giant base out. It helps them with muchly implied protection. It serves their purposes.

                      I’m the flag officers in the ME are spinning policy as we speak. With actual phone calls and everything. All that fancy pants tech.

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                      • But why would the Q’s want our giant base out. It helps them with muchly implied protection. It serves their purposes.

                        It doesn’t help them with protection from aggression or invasion if the US won’t deploy in their defense. I read Michael Cain’s comment in that light. If the US isn’t going to defend Qatar then that base could be better used by countries who will.

                        And then there’s Jaybird’s point: Qatar will have to pry that base from the US’s cold dead hands. It’s effed up. And the product of Trump’s impulsive transactional approach to geopolitics.

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                        • We ain’t giving up our giant base there unless we want to. Our interest is to keep our base running smoothly and the area around it mellow so we can do our stuff. To much military action in the area is not good for our air strikes or base security.

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                          • We ain’t giving up our giant base there unless we want to.

                            Agreed.

                            Our interest is to keep our base running smoothly and the area around it mellow so we can do our stuff.

                            That’s your interest, and Mattis’ and Tillerson’s interest, but not Trump’s interest.

                            To much military action in the area is not good for our air strikes or base security.

                            Take that one up with Trump, tho he doesn’t seem very receptive to strategic and pragmatically based advice.

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                            • Yeah Mattis just recently said, re NATO i think, this old Churchll quote ” “To quote a British observer of us from some years ago: Bear with us. Once we have exhausted all possible alternatives, the Americans will do the right thing. So, we will still be there. And we will be with you,”

                              He’s let out statements that could be considered slight burns at Trump. Mattis is putting out fires. Fires started by Trump. And really do we think Trump has the attention span to stay with this. Heck he might think Qatar is different from Cutter, you know the place where we have that base. Cutter are good guys not like those SOB’s in Qatar.

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                              • And really do we think Trump has the attention span to stay with this.

                                Doesn’t matter. Once the alliances shift and trust is broken it’s hard, maybe impossible, to get back. Mattis and Tillerson know, just like everyone else including their negotiating partners, that they’re not determining US policy anymore. Right now, there is no US policy.

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              • Normally it is, but that element that has probably protected Qatar from the bad opinion of the other Gulf States (their beef with them is long-standing) depends on the American government standing behind them.

                That used to be taken for granted, but it seems likely under the circumstances that the current POTUS has changed the conditions everyone was opperating under.

                The Turks seem willing to step up to guarentee Qatar against the Saudis though, and pretty much everyone would expect the Turkish military to rip through the Sauds in a direct conflict.

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                • Oh i agree that is a potential issue. My guess is many members of the high ranking military will be talking to the various parties without bothering the Prez. A disruption to our basing there would be a real problem for our air forces all over the ME.

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        • The US is probably the only actor who can do anything about Qatar, since Europe and the regional countries can’t risk taking any action because Qatar is hosting the Word Cup in 2022.

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        • The GCC countries have the worst militaries per dollar spent than any other in the world, but if their fighting each other, their overall undisciplined inept amateurism cancels each other out.

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    • I saw reports that some (a little? Much? All?) the rift is predicated upon false reports planted by Russia. That was all over CNN yesterday. I don’t see it today but Comey is now everywhere (again).

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        • Sunni/Shia massively oversimplifies. The relevant split here is the status quo power Sunnis (KSA and Egypt being the most prominant) and the Islamist leaning Sunnis (Turkey and Qatar). Disagreement on what stance to have against the Shias is one of the points of contention between them.

          This is of course itself a massive oversimplification of the fractal splits between Mid East factions.

          Its become fashionable in American cycles to cast everything in the Mid East as a Shia Sunni proxy war, particularly due to it serving the interests of the Iran hawks to see the Shias as a monolith lead by Teheran against “traditional American allies.” Resist the urge to fall into the trap of that kind of thinking.

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