m_16_toting_myanmar.jpgSick news on the State of the Union: the USA is still the reigning King Of War – exporting weapons all over the developing world, and not to hunting clubs in Wales. The world watches in horror as Myanmar shoots monks, Japanese journalists and other protesters. Notice what kind of gun the army is using. They have old rifles from the colonial period and doesn’t that look like an American M-16? The American guns probably came over the border from their friends in Thailand, where we have shipped billions in weapons over the last ten years. It could have been confiscated from Burmese rebels who got the guns from Cambodia too.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 — The United States maintained its role as the leading supplier of weapons to the developing world in 2006, followed by Russia and Britain, according to a Congressional study to be released Monday. Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia were the top buyers.

The global arms market is highly competitive, with manufacturing nations seeking both to increase profits and to expand political influence through weapons sales to developing nations, which reached nearly $28.8 billion in 2006.

If you want to keep up with the American Arms biz you can check out the Federation of American Scientist’s Arms Sales Monitoring Project. In the last ten years, while we know alot more about where the arms go, the numbers just keep growing. They get shipped to one region to fight one war. Stolen, sold, or transferred to another region to fight another war. They end up in the hands of children and teens posing as soldiers gunning down innocents. But if you believe the NRA, it’s not guns that kill people – people kill people. Right Mr. Two-Gun Rudy formerly the politician known as Tough on Guns Mayor Rudy? Who all of a sudden made a u-turn on guns, when he realized the power of the NRA. But lest we digress. Guns are big biz, and Uncle Sam is the main Arms Mart to the world, and it doesn’t look good on our balance sheet.

About the author

Rabbi Yonah

81 Comments

  • By your wonderful argument, the US should stop selling arms to Israel, because they might fall into the hands of terrorists. Is that what you’re saying? Right?

    Because you know what? The US is at fault for every problem in the world. It’s not like people can take responsibility for their actions. Nice take.

  • The guy on the right is holding what looks like a very old M16. The Burmese military also drives second-hand Japanese trucks, but we don’t blame the Japanese for that, do we? And the guy on the left looks like he has an even older bolt-loading sing-shot rifle–possibly World War II era.

    BTW, it’s hard to see the gun in the photo of the Japanese photographer’s shooting (http://bp2.blogger.com/_63uOqYlI5Kk/RvvbnTU0SKI/AAAAAAAAAg8/lwPs38lCWLk/s1600-h/www.reuters.com2.jpg), but it looks more like an AK-47 than an M16.

  • Easy on the Rabbi – sure people are responsible for their own actions, but its still not a nice thing to arm murderers, thugs, terrorists and fascists even indirectly. And it is is no secret that the US has done that. Happily.

    The scary thing not mentioned by the rabbi is this: with that level of profit being made of arms sales and transfers, does it benefit anyone in the industry to try to reduce states of tension and war? No, anymore than it beneftis to the food industry to tell us to cut down on the calories we consume.

  • Also consider that 70% to 80% of the budget of most developing countries is spent on warfare and the neo-feudal “courts” of their heads-of-state. Warfare is a major impediment to developing policies, democratization, raising educational levels, cutting back the population boom, fortify women and girls in their respective societies etc. As long as those heads-of-state are willing to pay for arms to keep their people under control, as long as they are able to get the cash for those arms through channelling uncritically distributed developing funds into their own pockets, there will be someone readily selling them what they seek.

  • Israel is also an arms exporting powerhouse. The reality is that when the US or Israel don’t get a sale, some other country does. It’s not as if Russia isn’t scouring the world for clients – Iran and Syria among them. You can’t unilaterally stop selling because the other guys will fill the vacuum.

    There is also another issue here which is that when the US sells arms, it can usually make certain demands about their use with the buyers. Without such sales, the people dictating terms will be the Russians or Chinese or whoever will sell the arms instead.

    I’m not advocating arms sales, just trying to discuss the real world out there. The issue of weapon sales is extremely complicated. I guess the most ethical position would be to end sales of arms to all other countries, but you can’t stop other suppliers or countries from selling, you are merely weakening your own influence and strengthening theirs.

  • TM, true enough.

    Currently, there are few options left, it seems. Manhood will eventually die out from:
    a) another world war (likely resulting from issues over a shortage of potable water);
    b) a lack of potable water;
    c) an eruption of one of the European mega-volcanoes (both the Vesuvius and the Laacher See are on the verge of erupting, the latter with predictably about 100-times the force of the Mt.-St.Helens’ eruption);
    d) diseases that some common sense could at least have kept in check.

    Does Muffti still opt to be atheist?

  • America is blessed with a mega volcano as well that is supposedly overdue to erupt.

    Does Muffti still opt to be an atheist? Well, he cerrtainly prefers it to thinking that there is an all-powerful god who is going to let billions die for his not creating more H20, finding safe ways to release mega-volcano pressure and nullifying the effects of disease.

    And people call atheists pessimists! Muffti supposes he’d rather believe in a cold godless universe that one run by an asshole.

  • That’s it, I’m now positive that all the bad stuff in the world happens because Muffti doesn’t just reject faith in God but insults God.

    You, Muffti, need to repent!

  • Believers die with a smile, atheists die with a “humph” on their face 😉 Muffti certainly knows what happened to Descartes. But I still need to meet Muffti at Toys’R’Us on Times Square before either volcano erupts.

  • Easy on the Rabbi – sure people are responsible for their own actions, but its still not a nice thing to arm murderers, thugs, terrorists and fascists even indirectly.

    We’re talking about what seems to be a 35 year old weapon left over from the Vietnam War. Even if it is actually a Thai weapon, arming what until recently was a democracy and is facing a brutal Islamist terror insurgency doesn’t strike me as especially out of line.

  • Forget the volcano, what happened to the usual Jewlicious format? This is awful. It’s like being in school. You have to read down. And tiny type too. Oy.

  • JM – we’re of the generation that likes things the way we like them and can’t understand why anyone can’t understand that. Maybe David just doesn’t love us anymore.

  • Dear Sirs:

    Know what I like to do on a rainy day? Smear my head with butter and dry to ram it up somebody’s ass.

    ‘Dolph Giuliani

  • The point of the post was to raise questions. After reading Kohellet on Shabbat I cannot help but ask lots of questions.

    Yeh its old. Yes many countries sell weapons. Yeh Thailand has lots of tzurris, as do dozens of other countries from their Islamic rebels.

    Mufti you started to get at the heart of this. Money.

    Israel — why is she selling guns around the world? How does this help us? Yes I know the arguments. But how does this REALLY help us. By spreading more efficient means at killing we are upping the firepower of despots and totalitarians worldwide. The weapons that Israel handed over to the PA have been turned against them.

    Let us deal with Arms-R- Us – the USA. America has no qualms about who they sell to and what and we are not talking about old M16’s.

    We area talking about the highest tech warplanes and shoulder launched missiles that can take down passenger jets.

    We are talking about a massive flow of armaments for short term political gains that have long term human catastrophes.

    Its wrong.

  • Of the myriad ways in which the rancid Stink of Republicanism continues to foul the Earth (excluding, of course, the production of Republicans themselves), there is one that exceeds all others. Beyond the self-righteousness, the religious fanaticism, the inveterate racism, and bootlicking servility, there is nothing more grotesque about the Republican mindset that its sheer intellectual degeneracy. And here, we have a pristine example of the overwhelmingly favorite new “argument” currently in vogue among the Republican base. How does the Republican respond to the assertion that the U.S. is engaged in excessive and inappropriate arms dealing? Why, simple:

    Because you know what? The US is at fault for every problem in the world.

    Historically, of course, the standard retort to any observed instance of baboon-like Republican idiocy was that old chestnut, “bias.” Thus, polling data indicating a 28% approval rating for Bush’s had to be false, since, well, the sample was obviously biased against Bush. As the mind-numbing stupidity of this (barely facetious) example demonstrates, the bias reflex was getting a bit tired and flabby, and so the cesspool came up with something brand-new and fresh, yet another all-purpose response to any act of sleaze, incompetence or corruption: “Well, he’s not as bad as Hitler!”

    Thus, any criticism of Bush’s petulance or grunting inability to form a coherent sentence is immediately met with some variation of, “Well, he’s not as bad as Hitler or Pol Pot,” as though exceeding the moral accomplishments of the most evil monsters in history is some kind of defense. Likewise, any criticism of Israel or the U.S. elicits some form of, “Well, they’re not as bad as the Taliban!,” while any criticism of the government’s policies allowing New Orleans to go down the toilet provokes, “Well, they’re not as bad as the Mafia.” And here, “The US is at fault for every problem in the world” is but one more shining example of this impressive manifestation of Republican brainpower. This particular type of bullshit is generally described as a “strawman,” and whether more accurately characterized as a non-sequitur or simply incoherent, what it certainly demonstrates is that there is a great deal of work to be done to cleanse The Stink from our public discourse.

    Middle,

    Your reasoning elicits a couple of questions:

    ”when the US sells arms, it can usually make certain demands about their use with the buyers” Ahhhhh, interesting. Now presumably, you’re referring to restrictions on the brutality of such use – such as using said weapons to butcher children and destroy food supplies – rather than merely limiting which civilians the buyers are permitted to slaughter, since the latter argument is obviously irrelevant to the moral status of engaging in such arms sales. Just curious, then; do you have even an inkling, much less any actual evidence, that such a thing has ever happened? Beyond, of course, some cynical general directive to the vicious murdering thugs to play nice with their new toys.

    ”The reality is that when the US or Israel don’t get a sale, some other country does. . . .You can’t unilaterally stop selling because the other guys will fill the vacuum.” Just wondering: How is this in any way conceptually distinct from the U.S. refraining from competing with the Taliban in selling heroin, or the Russian Mafia in selling child sex slaves? After all, wouldn’t the U.S. be able to “make certain demands about [the] use” of child prostitutes – just as it can about its arms sales – such as, oh say, demanding that none of the 7-year-olds be subjected to unprotected anal sex. Seems to me it would constitute an identically effective policy.

    ”I guess the most ethical position would be to end sales of arms to all other countries.” You mean, kind of like buying a pair of ruby slippers and clicking the heels together three times? I guess I’m not enough of a “realist” to make the answer obvious to me, but until Moshiach delivers the slippers we just continue to sell as much as many weapons as humanly possible, to prevent all the other suppliers from “filling the vacuum,” right?

  • …. I never thought I’d come across a Jewlicious thread that actually made The Muddle look like a reasonable fellow.

    What reality are you folks living in?

    In Africa, thugocracies without enough cash (or without enough resources to attract foreign interest) do their massacres the old fashioned way – with machetes, axes, and scythes left behind by those awful British colonists.

    See – if you stretch and twist enough, everything can be made out to be All Our Fault. Everything can be made out to be the White Man’s Burden.

    Maybe the problem is the other cultures that create the thugs? Like the pagan, tribal, animist culture that let Hutus to slaughter Tutsis, and generally keeps Africa in disarray decades after colonialism ended.

    Looks like some of the posters here have been so deeply soaked in multi-culti PC non-thought that they can’t even bring themselves to entertain that notion.

  • Right. When I let Russia sell to Iran and Syria, not to mention Egypt, I get wars and lots of dead people on both sides. When I sell to Egypt, on the other hand, I get a very cold peace with few dead people over a 30 year period. Egypt is in my sphere now instead of the Russian sphere of influence. Meanwhile, the two countries receiving Russian assistance have led to war and the death and destruction which was avoidable.

    As I said, it’s a complex issue. Countries like Canada have the luxury of not playing this game because they rely on the US to do the defendin’ ’round the world.

    I can’t accept that your comparison to child prostitution is reasonable. I think it’s a silly argument. Arms define the balance of power internally and externally for many countries. They dictate who possesses control and who may have their borders and wealth violated. Heroin and prostitution are not even close to bearing a similar influence. Arms are king-makers. If you don’t control their sale and open the door to others to control that sale, you may also be giving up any influence you might have over that particular government, country, resources and relevant strategic needs. Israel is a perfect example of this. Look at how dependent they have become on the US.

    As to whether the US government enforces or doesn’t enforce its rules with respect to the use of arms, I don’t really know how to prove this. I know that the US is trying to stop the sale of cluster bombs to Israel, as they have done once before, because these bombs were perceived to have been misused in last year’s war. I know that the US often has extraordinary influence on how Israel uses its weapons and when it goes to war. There are many times, I’m sure, when the Americans turn a blind eye to countries or groups that violate the rules attached to arms purchases. Obviously, they shouldn’t.

    Again, it boils down to influence. It boils down to international politics. If you don’t arm somebody, you lose a sphere of influence to somebody else who might be far less savory. Sometimes that’s fine and sometimes it could lead to bad things. As long as there are other arms manufacturers and sellers across the world, you really have little choice but to stake a position and it’s better to win than to lose.

  • The US, and Israel, are held to a much higher standard than the rest of the world. It’s easy to blame the US — no other country is expected to behave decently. If the US intervenes, she’s accused of policing the world. If she doesn’t, she’s accused of callously ignoring the plight of the oppressed.

    Arms sales pretty much make the world go round. If countries misuse those arms, it’s America’s fault. Very handy.

  • Besides, one may not expect a “neutral” approach to that issue after a decidely biased expository like that. I think everybody agrees though that war and violence suck and sales of arms are major business. One law of the free market is that the demand determines the supply. To mention the US government in the same breath as the Structura is a smack in the face of any US citizen that cares to cast a vote on election day.

  • Ben-David, the civil war and genocide in Rwanda wasn’t triggered by Paganism though; they “developed” in the aftermaths of post-colonial struggles the country had to face; the conflict developed as such: suppression and persecution of Tutsis during the intial phase, re-gaining of territory by Tutsis in the north in the second phase, followed by the genocide of Tutsis in the third phase.
    According to native legends, Hutus were the original inhabitants of that area, and Tutsis migrated from the north (some historians believe they were the original northern Africans that were forced south when the Arabic-Muslim occupation of northern Africa started). European colonial powers (in the most indifferent and non-PC manner BTW) failed to see the social and cultural issues in the making when they withdrew from Rwanda, leaving behind the most-densely populated yet one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries of Africa.

  • “Like the pagan, tribal, animist culture that let Hutus to slaughter Tutsis, and generally keeps Africa in disarray decades after colonialism ended.”

    Hmm…prejudiced much?

    Speaking of paganism, I was in a makeshift hut last night shaking palm fronds in the air…odd.

    If you think colonialism ended when you the colonists left, that’s just a little bit misguided. The conflict between Hutus and Tutsis was the direct outgrowth of a classification system developed for Rwandans by Belgian colonists and the Roman Catholic Church. The church then put them into separate educational systems to reinforce the differences between them, literally fabricating a Tutsi aristocracy.

    Sure, they ultimately left, but they planted the seeds. And it wasn’t a pagan or tribal culture that led to that. It was imported European cultural ideas and the Catholic Church.

  • I should add that the racial / racist destinction between Hutus, Tutsis and Twa was encouraged by the (decidedly not PC) colonial rulers. Oh, and BTW, Britain wasn’t the only colonial power in Africa; France, Belgium, Portugal and Germany had colonies there, too. (Germany had to give up on its colonies though as by the terms and conditions of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919.)

    Developing policies are part of what I teach; Rwanda is a sister state of my federal state. The history and geographyof Rwanda are part of the mandatory curriculum here.

    There are wars / bellicose conflicts in Africa that are fought with whatever serves as a weapon, most of those conflicts are fought with “sophisticated” arms though. Maybe one should entertain the notion that not all native Africans are savages that live in caves or tents, but that just as there are huge cities with modern infrastructure in Africa, there also are modern means of warfare. (BTW, the child soldiers in Mogadishu typically tote Kalashnikovs.)

  • After a couple of difficult years, where my feelings are always hurt by Ben David when he calls me The Muddle, I have decided to fight back.

    Okay, Ben Dodo?

  • Why do people keep returning to, reading and commenting on specific blogs if they pretend to be constantly bothered by them? Sounds like people to me that claim to not be fond of ice-cream, but the moment you turn your back them, you hear them scraping on the bottom of your ice-cream bucket.

  • As I said, it’s a complex issue. . . . Again, it boils down to influence. It boils down to international politics.

    Yea, there’s some complexity. Certainly more, for example, than is recognized by, say, a grunting baboon who believes international affairs should be conducted on the level of his college cheerleading squad, and, accordingly, that diplomacy should be limited to making bold proclamations of our opposition to Evil, and issuing passionate expressions of undying support for our BFF Israel. That said, the issue is not too complex to make moral judgments about the collective actions taken by governments and communities, even if the standards used to make such judgments are different than those used to assess the conduct of individuals. I can hardly think of a more legitimate subject of such inquiry than the flood of deadly weapons to every vicious despot in the third world, even if the results thereof lack the precision and certainty of moral judgments made in everyday life.

    It boils down to international politics. If you don’t arm somebody, you lose a sphere of influence to somebody else who might be far less savory.

    My silliness notwithstanding, I haven’t completely lost my familiarity with the sphere-of-influence scenario I first learned about sometime around fourth-grade social studies. Alas, you are conflating two completely distinct issues. The “sphere of influence” argument involves those arms sales conducted for specific political purposes. But I never challenged the morality of such politically motivated arms sales – as murderous and self-serving as they often turn out to be – nor are they the topic at issue herein. What’s relevant to this post is the promiscuous, indiscriminate sale of arms to warlords and death squads and bloodthirsty thugs of various stripes for nothing more than billions of dollars in blood money. Of course, I suppose you could argue that every single instance in which America sells arms to vicious despots constitutes a politically vital contribution to its “sphere of influence,” but that’s neither plausible nor what you’ve argued. What you did claim is that even those arms sales that result in nothing but profit are justified on the basis of the rationale that “if we don’t make those sales, someone else will.”

    I can’t accept that your comparison to child prostitution is reasonable. . . .Heroin and prostitution are not even close to bearing a similar influence.

    My argument had absolutely nothing to do with any claim that prostitution or drug trafficking is in any way comparable to the necessity of politically motivated arms sales. The claim, instead, is the remarkably obvious one that – where arms sales are simply for profit, not some identified political objective – the “filling-the-vacuum” argument can justify every other type of morally degraded conduct as it can the sale of weapons to tyrants and murderers.

  • Ahhhh, but we also have an brilliant new argument that considers the whole issue from an entirely different perspective.

    It’s easy to blame the US — no other country is expected to behave decently. . . . Arms sales pretty much make the world go round. If countries misuse those arms, it’s America’s fault. Very handy.

    See, that’s nothing like the earlier ingenious observation that ”The US is at fault for every problem in the world,.” Nor is it, in other words, yet one more variation on the inhumanly stupid clarion call of Republicans: Well, he’s not as bad as Hitler!” Nope, this is completely different; this is . . . uhhh . . . no, wait; wait. Oh, I guess this is exactly the same, after all. Of course, it’s easy to sympathize with the urge to repeat an argument that subtle and brilliant, even if it does nothing more than reinforce the need to clean the Stink of Republicanism from every institution in the United States.

  • To show how dedicated I am to responding, David, this page has refreshed and erased my response 3 times but I will try again. Wish me luck.

    I can hardly think of a more legitimate subject of such inquiry than the flood of deadly weapons to every vicious despot in the third world, even if the results thereof lack the precision and certainty of moral judgments made in everyday life.

    We’re in agreement. I see how every Administration has an early window where their judgement might be given a pass until they gain or lose the trust of Congress, but overall I believe that there should be oversight of decisions that weigh on the decision-making process of the US in anything relating to weapons or war. No administration deserves carte blanche.

    Of course, I suppose you could argue that every single instance in which America sells arms to vicious despots constitutes a politically vital contribution to its “sphere of influence,” but that’s neither plausible nor what you’ve argued. What you did claim is that even those arms sales that result in nothing but profit are justified on the basis of the rationale that “if we don’t make those sales, someone else will.”

    Actually, your first sentence is along the lines of what I’ve argued, even if you take it to an absurd level. If there is no political benefit to supplying arms, we shouldn’t do it. Does every situation involve a political benefit? Probably not. So we might be able to cede certain countries to, say, the Russians. However, in other cases where our involvement is relevant, we should be in there trying to influence outcomes.

    This is, by the way, a separate issue from whether we choose our sides wisely or conduct ourselves in these foreign countries wisely. Many mistakes will rest on our collective shoulders together, from Pinochet to our current alliances with certain Muslim states. If the question is whether we should do it in general, the answer is yes.

    Second, in no place did I claim that profit is a justifiable motive in pursuing arms sales. I spoke very clearly about geo-political matters and Fourth Grade level spheres of influence. Reread my relevant comments, 6 and 24, and let me know where I accept profit as a motive. I talk about states and their internal and external threats.

    As for your final paragraph, I’m not sure where we disagree. I was discussing arms as king-makers and national sources of protection or strength. In that regard, they differ greatly from drugs or prostitution. If a state is selling arms simply for profit, then the “vacuum” argument is indeed a weak one and opens the door to abuse. This is why I strongly support oversight of any foreign arms sales whether conducted by the US, Israel or Lichtenstein.

    Arms sales are inevitable. I support making them in a judicious, strategically effective and responsible way. I strongly oppose making them for the sake of profit alone and believe that government oversight of any sales is necessary and then oversight of that government with respect to its arms sales decisions is also required.

    I am sorry if I hurt your feeling by calling one of your statements “silly.”

  • Arms are sold regardless of which party currently holds the keys to the White House. I love liberals; they’re so … sane. And tolerant.

  • Middle,

    I am sorry if I hurt your feelings by calling one of your statements “silly.”

    No, no, I was just being a touchy prick; not that anyone ought to take offense where none is intended, but I can hardly think of anyone for whom it is less appropriate to do so than me.

    You’re observations are generally right, in the sense that there’s not nearly so stark a difference between our positions as my argument suggested. Frankly, I think my profound disgust with the damage Republicanism has done to our country and its standing in the world has made me increasingly irritable with any arguments that appear to embrace the hypocrisy and moral depravity of the neoconservative trash who inspire them. Of course, the “if-we-don’t-do-it-someone-else-will” argument is precisely such an argument, at least in its most crude, literal form. That is the version of the argument I was rejecting, and it’s clear that your use of the phrase was based on an assumption of the assorted conditions you made explicit in your last comment.

    In that context, the issue is, indeed, complex, and formulating a coherent strategy requires taking a number of competing variables into account. Clearly, one of those variables is the extent to which refraining from arms sales – any arms sales – is likely to have a practical effect of any kind. In other words, is it literally true that other nations or groups would necessarily “fill in the vacuum” if we were to boycott the distribution of arms based on certain specified criteria, or is it possible that such a policy might ultimately result in at least a modest diminution of weapons available to the world’s butchers and madmen. It seems to me there’s an analogy to be drawn from our experience with the virtually unrestricted supply of handguns in the U.S., and the claim that their prohibition will do nothing to limit their availability to criminals. Sure, that’s true, unless, of course, the policy implemented is one of virtually total prohibition, and is given something on the order of 20 to 30 years in which to yield results. Perhaps a similarly comprehensive withdrawal from the international arms market might produce a comparable long-term effect. Finally, even if there is no practical consequence of a U.S. prohibition on weapons sales to the Mobutos, the Charles Taylors, the Noriegas, and the like, it seems to me there are at least certain very limited circumstances in which it’s appropriate for the U.S. to take a stand based on principle and idealism alone, and that this is very likely one of them. Just as the U.S. sphere of influence is defined to some extent by the leverage of weapons sales, so, too, might it be similarly extended by a genuine commitment to the principle of human rights. Of course, such an effect is wholly dependent on a concern for human rights that is consistent and sincere, and not a cynical ploy spewed from the sewer of Republicanism.

    As to drafting a response of more than three sentences, what the hell is going on? The refresh function seems to be on some kind of wild hyperdrive lately, and, as you noted, seems to wipe out entire comments every 30 seconds or so. Personally, I’ve taken to composing all my comments on a separate Word page, rather than be driven nuts by the rather draconian Jewlicious editing ghost.

  • That still doesn’t make it Israel’s fault — nice try though.

    Did you actually read the article? Even your blatantly biased source states the following:

    Let’s be clear — Israel is not the only arms supplier to the military regime. Most countries source arms from more than one source, and China has been traditionally been a large supplier and a significant trading partner (China is Burma’s third most important export destination, and its largest country of origin for imports– 2005 figures). A possible Indian sale of its Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) to Myanmar also involves vital components sourced from six EU states (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK), also potentially — if the transfer goes ahead — circumventing an arms embargo in place since 1988.

    What’s the word on that?

  • Arms are sold regardless of which party currently holds the keys to the White House. I love liberals; they’re so … sane. And tolerant.

    Incredible; the same witless doggerel again and again and again, like some lobotomized Republican parrot. At least in the not-so-distant past, individuals so glaringly incapable of lucid human communication had the good sense to shut up. Now, an entire generation of Republicans has been raised to believe that “arguments” based on egregious stupidity and mind-numbing ignorance are every bit as valid as those that rely on logic and analysis and facts.

  • The weird thing is America is also providing weapons to it’s own criminals, gang members and the good citizens who are living in fear of those criminals and gang members.

    America is also providing weapons, both lethal and non-lethal to it’s own psychologically unstable domestic security forces. And also to the good citizens who are now living in fear of those unstable security forces.

    America has been and continues to provide arms to it’s own enemies to kill Americans overseas.

    America is also providing unlimited international access to Justin Timberlake.

  • I do. I do a lot. I just happen to be more into Joey McIntyre. Where is the love for Joey McIntyre?

  • Oh david smith, we are so in awe of all the big words you use to say absolutely nothing. What a bore you are.

  • Zulubaby, you should read the Jane’s article I posted. The second paragraph:

    “According to some of these reports, certain aspects of Israel’s current relationship with the Tatmadaw [Burmese military] come close to assisting the military regime (known since November 1997 as the State Peace and Development Council — SPDC) to retain its hold on power.”

  • xisnotx, I did read it. You’re very focused on Israel and ignoring everything else. For example, things like this and this. Google Myanmar France oil or Myanmar and
    Total or Chevron … it goes on. Do your research.

  • xisnotx, really, that Jane’s article is full of innuendo and very little evidence of anything. Wow, they sold the regime 16 artillery pieces or helped revitalize some ships for their navy? I understand that you would like to be among the many who connect Israel with every evil in the world and Myanmar is a hot topic right now, but you lose credibility when you stretch like this.

  • zulubaby, TM, I still keep some extra space in the cheese compartment of the fridge – just in case you need it 😉

  • Zulubaby says,

    xisnotx, I did read it. You’re very focused on Israel and ignoring everything else. . . . Google Myanmar France oil or Myanmar and
    Total or Chevron … it goes on.

    Well, well, well; he’s done it yet again. Will there ever be a comment out of his mouth that isn’t a variation on Well, [ ] is not as bad as Hitler! God knows, I’d never expect anything intelligent or original, but this might be setting some kind of record.

    Oh david smith, we are so in awe of all the big words you use

    You mean like, say, stupidity; ignorance; doggerel; and half-wit? I’d help you out, but I think that’s probably what got you into trouble in the first place. Just remember: The dictionary is your friend.

    Oh, and while you’re at it, here’s one more to check out: Douchebag.

  • Sarah,

    I’d always thought it was precisely the opposite (so as to distinguish it from a semicolon, I suppose); thanks for the tip. Torturing Republicans – and inspiring their unmitigated hatred in others – is just my hobby and civic duty, but grammar is a true passion. Unfortunately, whatever I know is strictly intuitive, since I never learned the actual rules or even how to diagram a sentence.

  • xisnotx, you have proven my point. Asprey, Cartier, Leviev and Harrods are the names mentioned, but you focus on Leviev and point out his connection to Israel.

    And no, Jane’s has far more credibility than Counterpunch. That article, however, FROM 2000, speaks about assumptions and offers little actual evidence. Is it meaningful that Israel may have sold 16 old Lebanese artillery pieces? I mean, aren’t you trying to tell us that Israel is somehow propping up the regime or supporting their horrible attacks against their civilians and monks? That Jane’s article doesn’t offer that information and offers very little solid information at all.

  • You mean like, say, stupidity; ignorance; doggerel; and half-wit? I’d help you out, but I think that’s probably what got you into trouble in the first place. Just remember: The dictionary is your friend.

    Oh, and while you’re at it, here’s one more to check out: Douchebag.

    I think somebody needs a hug.

  • Sarah, THERE ARE INSTANCES… I’m sorry, there are instances where you follow a colon with upper case… or upper-case (or whatever)… this is why the “Chicago Manual Of Style” is so damn expensive. As opposed to the “NYT Manual Of Style”… and, are prepositions supposed to be upper case in book/movie/tv titles? Or is tv supposed to be TV?…

    ScREw It…

  • I read that post weeks ago Sarah! It was awesome! And yes my previous comment was a hint – but it wasn’t aimed at you.

    Also. kudos to TM. That was the perfect response – as if you took the words out of my mouth.

  • “I mean, aren’t you trying to tell us” The second paragraph of the Jane’s piece, in 2000, yes — not so long ago, suggests Israel’s military assistance “came close to” keeping the junta in power up to that point. It goes beyond a few old rifles, to close intelligence involvement w/the regime.

    I don’t know where this comes in on a scale of international miscreants and their relation to the Burmese regime.

  • “xisnotx, you have proven my point.” Naturally; having already made clear you would as soon as hang me for a goat, I decided to simply accept the role.

  • Sarah, I tried to post this late last nite but it didn’t get through the bugs. Chicago Manual states first letter after a colon is lowercase – except it’s ambivalent (like a manual of style can feel ambivalence) if the colon introduces more than one sentence needed to complete train of thought.

    The other question is whether or not “douchebag” is uppercase. For example, “You are a douchbag” compared to “Hey, Douchebag, you don’t know Jack Shit!”

    In both cases “Douchebag” and “Jack Shit” are proper nouns therefore uppercased. Now, I know Jack Shit is a proper noun because I know Jack Shit. He’s a dumbbarista at my corner coffee shop.

  • Ramon, I abide by the Oxford’s Dictionary capitalization rules; “douchebag” should only have been capitalized had it been used as a proper name, yet David Smith introduced it as a noun to be looked up in a dictionary. “Jack”, on the other hand, by any means if used as either first or third constituent of a regular English statement has to be considered a noun, semantically a name, which calls for capitalization (besides, using a lower case intial on “Jack” might provoke ambiguities by readers with a one-track mind).

    I should prefer though for commentators to use proper language and not act like teenage schoolyard bullies.

    When a comment doesn’t go through (and the “page cannot be displayed”-message appears), it usually helps to hit the ‘Return’-key, and the comment will miraculously appear; or copy (& paste) when posting a lengthier comment.

  • I’ve forgotten a comma in my recent comment (right after “statement”); the comment still will have to undergo inspection 😉

  • Israel may have aided the junta in a box, they may have helped it with a fox..

    It could be they helped the junta out of a jam, they may have sold them ten boxes of spam..

  • Would that be sausage and spam? Eggs, sausage, and spam? Spam, sausage, and spam? Spam, spam, spam, spam, sausage, and spam?

  • Sarah – I use the Chicago Manual because it’s really, really expensive. 🙂

    I was going to hit the return key but I fell asleep on the keyboard. Probably better I left it for the morning.

    TM – I don’t know about Seuss rhymes. This thread conjures up images of “5000 Fingers Of Dr. T” more than “Cat In The Hat”.

  • Ramon, Beluga caviar also is really, really expensive, but it still isn’t kosher 😉 The current edition of the Chicago Manual is cheaper than the Oxford Dictionary of English though.

    Some people buy books for their covers though – or rather, they buy book covers. I once read about a service where lawyers and doctors could order the (empty) covers of standard reference works in their respective field to put on display in their offices, so patients / clients would be brought to believe the person they were trusting themselves with were actually well-read on their trade.

    (There’s a law in Germany that prescribes price maintenance on books, so you can only get better deals on leftover-stock of books that are officially out of print; it takes years for books to be published as paperbacks – if that happens at all – so I’ve more than once spent $150 to $200 on a factbook.)

  • Ramon,

    I don’t think I’m going that far out on a limb in assuming that your reliance on the Chicago Manual doesn’t have a damn thing to do with its expense, but on the flexibility and artfulness of its approach to style. I’ll have to check it out. Of course, I’ve always found that what distinguishes the useful manuals from the shit is the extent to which they recognize that the purpose of stylistic guidelines is to promote the transparent and felicitous use of the English language, and never a rigid or static adherence to rules for their own sake. The pretentiousness of the latter is the sworn enemy of good writing, and is most often reflected in such nonsense as grammatical “propriety,” with its smell of prissy, schoolmarmish condescension. As you suggest, the stylistic guidelines for colons aren’t “rules” at all, but recommendations contingent on exactly one variable: whatever makes writing clearer. Just as they for such other punctuation, as, say, commas. Not surprisingly, those most enthusiastic about inscribing the rules of grammar on their own set of stone tablets are frequently the most passionate advocates of such hypercorrect idiocy as the prohibition against split infinitives, or ending a sentence in a preposition, or the use of an apostrophe with acronyms.

    On the other hand, there are statements such as Zulubaby’s obnoxious and wholly gratuitous expression of sneering condescension, I love liberals; they’re so … sane. And tolerant. Plainly, that isn’t a question of style, but a straightforward manifestation of ill-mannered boorishness, and Sarah is absolutely correct by noting that, I should prefer though for commentators to use proper language and not act like teenage schoolyard bullies.

  • Listen, I don’t have time to get too into this… my reliance on the Chicago Manual has nothing to do with my trying to defend it as the right or wrong style. It was simply the style I was forced to use because it was what my jobs dictated.

    It ain’t no big deal yo… even if I did have to spend 60$ on it just to get into the business.

  • I mean, does it look like I have the 1981 edition next to my computer when I comment on Jewlicious? I mean, like… really…

    Nope. Now I use the Urban Dictionary.

  • Friends, Romans, countrymen, if you seriously want to discuss style, make sure your register doesn’t change in course of writing. Switching from advanced vocabulary to colloquialisms or even profanity is considered bad style – and not cool and youthful.

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