Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 30, 2014

Obama Gambled, Lost U.S. Credibility On Cyber Claims

The Obama administration claims that North Korea was responsible for the Sony hack even though early analysis already pointed to an insider attack by a disgruntled former Sony employee.

The Obama claim is supported by some FBI mumble which includes a lot of conjecture but no real evidence. This FBI mumble, likely ordered by the White House, came after the FBI earlier said that it had no evidence, zero that is, which was pointing to North Korea.

We said early on that claims of North Korean involvement are likely false. This is by now supported by many experts. A Politico piece from yesterday lists some of them:

Security expert Bruce Schneier called the evidence “circumstantial at best” and considered a number of other possible explanations. CloudFlare principal researcher and DefCon official Marc Rogers wrote that the FBI’s indicators seem to rely on malware that is widely available for purchase and IP addresses easily hijacked by any bad guy. Errata Security’s Robert Graham also noted the hacker underground shares plenty of code, calling the FBI’s evidence “nonsense.”

The above folks are some of the best in the information security business.

Security company Norse yesterday briefed the FBI on the results of its own investigation which clearly point to the insider responsible for the attack and to her helpers. But even after being briefed on real evidence the FBI is not taking back its false claim. Obama has publicly used the FBI subterfuge to blame North Korea and changing the story now would be too embarrassing for him.

It is for this reason that some anonymous "official" is now changing the story - again without any evidence - from "North Korea did it" to "North Korea hired someone who did it":

U.S. investigators believe that North Korea likely hired hackers from outside the country to help with last month's massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures, an official close to the investigation said on Monday.

This is even more laughable than the original claim.

The White House, likely the National Security Council under Susan Rice, screwed up on this issue. It wanted to pressure China by blaming its client North Korea for a hack which had only in media phantasies to do with that country. It ordered the FBI to come up with some "evidence" to support its attempts.

But attribution in cyberspace is a difficult if not hopeless issue and private researchers found indications in the real world that show that the alleged North Korean culpability is very unlikely.

It is not the first time that the U.S. is bringing itself into such an awkward position. The Politico story quoted above includes as second paragraph:

Even the unprecedented decision to release details of an ongoing FBI investigation and President Barack Obama publicly blaming the hermit authoritarian regime hasn’t quieted a chorus of well-qualified skeptics who say the evidence just doesn’t add up.

Pulling on the same comparison to the Saddam WMD claims we made Billmon reformulates that graph into:

Even the unprecedented decision to declassify details of Saddam's efforts to purchase Yellowcake Uranium ore and Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly blaming the crazed Iraqi dictator hasn’t quieted a chorus of well-qualified skeptics who say the evidence just doesn’t add up.

Hardly anyone serious will ever again believe the U.S. on Weapons of Mass Destruction claims after the Bush administration lied about WMDs in Iraq. Hardly anyone serious will ever again believe the U.S. on cyber attack claims after the Obama administration lied about the "Sony hack by North Korea".

This White House screw up has, as law professor Jack Goldsmith writes, important consequences (emph. add.):

If the FBI mis-attributed the Sony hack, it will be more than an embarrassing mistake. Such a mistake might have led the United States to take action against the wrong target, and going forward it will significantly weaken U.S. attribution credibility. Indeed, even if the FBI’s attribution turns out to be right – will we ever know for sure? – its hesitation in the face of credible questions about its very thin public evidence will exacerbate the demand for publicly verifiable attribution before countermeasures (or other responses) are deemed legitimate. In this small but significant sense, the United States has lost a battle in the early days of cyber conflict.

This was not even a "battle" as there was no "enemy", just a disgruntled former Sony employee and some hacker folks who do not like Sony's harsh anti-piracy policies.

Obama risked - for no good reason - and lost U.S. credibility on anything it might ever want to, rightly or not, claim about cyber.

Posted by b on December 30, 2014 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

Comments

Well, is this any different than blaming Syria for the poison gas attacks or Novorussians for the airliner downing? Blame enemies first, find evidence later (maybe) seems to be SOP.

Posted by: JMW | Dec 30, 2014 12:02:56 PM | 1

They continue to throw power and credibility away over such little things. There is no imagination left in the american elite.

Posted by: Crest | Dec 30, 2014 12:08:04 PM | 2

This is just more Newspeak and the US uses it because it works just as it did with Iraqi WMD's. The allies of the US understand this and will follow out lead as they always do.

Rumblings from the Chattering Class are ignored and you will rarely see the US back down from its positions.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 30, 2014 12:27:17 PM | 3

The White House, likely the National Security Council under Susan Rice, screwed up on this issue. It wanted to pressure China by blaming its client North Korea for a hack which had only in media phantasies to do with that country. It ordered the FBI to come up with some "evidence" to support its attempts.

This is their modus operandi.

When a South Korean navy vessel sank mysteriously in a disputed water near North Korean coast in 2010, they accused North Korea and pursued a UN Security Council resolution against North Korea. This is what a former state department official under Clinton administration said.

http://www.seoul.co.kr/news/newsView.php?id=20100604029026

Quinones noted that he thinks "it is unrealistic for the government in Seoul to expect Beijing to support a sanctions resolution against North Korea at the UNSC."

"Nevertheless, President Lee Myung-bak must convince the South Korean people that he is pressing for resolute punishment of North Korea. By pressing for it, he can blame China for blocking such a resolution," he advised.

They don't expect China to join their campaign against North Korea. They want to blame China for not joining them. Everything they do against North Korea is ultimately aimed at China.

Also the sinking of South Korean navy vessel in 2010 was another case of false accusation, if not false flag.

The evidence the South Korean investigation presented, a remnant of a supposedly a North Korean torpedo, was an obvious fabrication.

The torpedo part was covered with white powdery encrustation. The South Korean investigation claimed that that was aluminum oxide, byproduct of explosion of a torpedo warhead which typically includes aluminum power as an explosion booster. However it was soon revealed that the white powdery substance was aluminum sulfate hydroxide hydrate, which is a byproduct of aluminum corrosion under sea water.

It means that the said evidence had been under sea water for quite a time, possibly several years, and therefore can't be responsible for the sinking of the South Korean Navy vessel. The South Korean authority might have come into possession of it in the past in some unrelated occasion, and had it in store. When the sinking happened, they might have planted it as a false evidence to frame North Korea.

http://ijy.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.187/prod.228

Contrary to the JIG claims, our data combined with our EDS simulations clearly show that the JIG’s identification of two of the white powders, from the sunken ship and torpedo fragments, is incorrect: those powders are not aluminum oxide that results from an explosion but they are aluminum sulfate hydroxide hydrate that can be produced naturally at a low temperature environment (lower than 100oC). Furthermore, the fact that the JIG’s EDS data of the third sample, from the test-explosion experiment, is identical to the EDS data of aluminum sulfate hydroxide hydrate is an anomaly. The test explosion would have produced aluminum oxide rather than aluminum sulfate hydroxide hydrate. The only scientifically possible explanation of the anomaly is that the EDS data of the test explosion was fabricated.

Posted by: Puppet Master | Dec 30, 2014 12:39:16 PM | 4

Actually, it seems they knew the truth all along but their corporate taskmasters cooked up this hype in support of their crappy film. They milked what revenue they could from the Big Lie and now have let the true story leak out. Another shocking example of how little credibility remains in Washington.

Posted by: W.H. Brewer | Dec 30, 2014 1:06:47 PM | 5

To be fair, as long as US has media and EU/arabs in its pocket, the West and majority of UNSC will believe* every US story. (*officially, unofficially ofc they arent that stupid).

BTW Iraq's WMD was just one of many WMD stories (like Iran's "use" of chemical weapons in '80s or mythical nuclear bombs), and yet everyone was quick to believe Assad "gassed his own people", just after multiple lies about Libya, and now most in the West believe Putin is responsible for the plane crash, etc. Most of my friends I talked to in my country or in the West also believe Sony hack was done by NKorea.

Therefore I'm not holding my breath US lies have stopped working. Informed public knows better, but its just few percent of population, while vast majority only access mass-media, which brainwashes them. So called "international community" knows the truth, but have to fall in line or else. This will continue as long as US remains superpower.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 30, 2014 1:15:44 PM | 6

This article says that Sony emails indicate CIA/State Department involvement in the making of The Interview: Exclusive: Sony Emails Say Studio Exec Picked Kim Jong-Un as the Villain of ‘The Interview’

Posted by: Karl | Dec 30, 2014 1:26:08 PM | 7

We need two movies re-released: The Mouse That Roared and Our Man in Havana. After viewing these old masters, think about what a good screen play could be produced involving Obama, FBI, North Korea, Sony and a group of hackers. The writers could come up with a story line that would be too good not to be true. HA!

Posted by: Curtis | Dec 30, 2014 1:26:13 PM | 8

U.S. credibility comes from the barrel of a gun.

Posted by: jeff | Dec 30, 2014 1:49:19 PM | 9

The "Progressives" pissed and moaned for 8 years while the Right had their blood soaked, warmongering day in the sun under Bush. Now they are relieved to get to be the duped sheep, easily herded to come to the conclusions that the elites in the US want them to have (approval and acceptance of covert war / economic warfare / NSA spying). It cracks me up how friends of mine who were vehement in calling out each and every lie of the Bush era, now so willingly swallow whatever kind of stupid bullshit falls out of Oblabla's mouth regarding Syrian WMD, North Korea, Russia, Iran, ISIS, etc. The MSM, which always lied for Christian Fundies, neocons, Israel, gay torture porn and creationism suddenly has been nothing but open, truthful, honest and forthright since Jan. 2009 because their boy is the one in the pulpit. And the chump knows that he doesn't have to admit he's wrong or apologize. AmeriKan leaders never do, since it takes a real man to admit when he's wrong, and we have none.
The Right-Left divide is truly a joke.

Posted by: farflungstar | Dec 30, 2014 1:50:59 PM | 10

Oh stop. This is unfolding exactly as planned. Nothing is EVER as it seems.

So. Now we know that CIA-Rand-DOS conspired to make a film about assassinating the NK president -- so that "life imitates art". And we also know that studio heads and executives are racist assholes. And we now also know that studios discriminate between male and female actors via status and salary. Quelle surprise!

Golly. Cui bono? Who benefits from the quickening of Americans to the greedy tribal scum-bags pulling strings against mankind? Disgruntled Sony employees? Or perhaps others?

Regardless -- to the persons responsible I say "THANK YOU". But gimme a sec. I need to grab another bag of popcorn and get comfy. Please sir. More revelations for the peanut gallery. :)

Posted by: giddy | Dec 30, 2014 2:18:55 PM | 11

@Puppet Master: Exactly!

The Sinking of the ROK Cheonan Navy Corvette - 2010

Posted by: Oui | Dec 30, 2014 3:45:08 PM | 12

Hold onto your hats Ladies & Gents, for in 2015, you ain't seen nothing yet. Let's see what the Congress will screw us with when they take over. If the country doesn't go ballistic into rebellion, it surely will come close. NYPD sending its finest to Israel for training, Senator Graham kissing Netanyahoo's ass, do I hear "Apartheid" coming to "Times Square"?

Posted by: Norman | Dec 30, 2014 3:51:00 PM | 13

@3 wow.. bullshit. the usa lies on a regular basis. no one believes anything they say anymore. actually believing the opposite of what the usa says is typically closer to the truth. but i do think you are right about the usa backing down from the lies they regularly manufacture.. how can they when the country is built on the basis of making illegal wars on other nations? the basis for the usa is looking after the financial and military industrial complex.. that is a hell of a vision they have going for them.. having bozo apologists like you don't help any either.

Posted by: james | Dec 30, 2014 4:19:41 PM | 14

Jim@14

You seem to be confused or ignorant about what Newspeak is, among other things and as Jeff writes above, US credibility comes from the barrel of a gun.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 30, 2014 5:00:51 PM | 15

Yup.

"Lost all credibility."

With anyone who's paying attention, that is.


Which is to say, they have lost no credibility whatsoever.


If one is talking about credibility with foreign governments, one is talking bullshit. There is no such thing as credibility in such spheres, only usefulness. Foreign governments will continue to digest any bullshit fed from a US spoon -- as long as they see it as useful bullshit. Twas ever thus.

If one is talking about credibility with the US populace, one ought to realize: they aren't paying any attention. Given the present state of media(ted) affairs it is in fact *impossible* for the bulk of the populace to pay attention.

"Credibility" should be the least of concerns.

Posted by: Earwig | Dec 30, 2014 5:18:05 PM | 16

When is this US regime going to be done/finished/capput? Then we can deal with Israel, ISIS and then the Nazis in Ukraine. Put honest injun leaders in place and have the lives we think we have but don't really have as its all a façade. The people who are obsessed by Black Friday deals / X Factor / Hunny Boo Boo / Kardashians etc etc need their bubble burst. It hurts at first but then the truth always sets you free and that stuff doesn't matter anymore - come on the masses wake up quickly.

Posted by: Michelle | Dec 30, 2014 5:53:53 PM | 17

Remember the Iranian "plot" to kill the Saudi ambassador? Obama lies even more than Bush did.

Posted by: Amar | Dec 30, 2014 6:03:09 PM | 18

@Michelle #17:

When is this US regime going to be done/finished/capput?
Since you asked that question, I am posting the link to this brilliant Club Orlov post here: The Imperial Collapse Playbook.

What I found especially illuminating was this:

When the British got tossed out of their American Colonies, they did all they could, using a combination of import preferences and British “soft power,” to bolster the plantation economy of the American South, helping set it up as a sort of anti-United States, and the eventual result was the American Civil War.
So by supporting the slave states, Britain did to the United States what the United States is now doing to Russia with all the mischief in the Ukraine.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 30, 2014 6:25:33 PM | 19

In re 19 --

It goes without saying that the causes of Civil War are far deeper than marginal British dabbling. "Free Men, Free Soil, and Fremont."

British political interests were themselves divided, cheap raw materials vs. liberal ideology. This deadlock prevented formal diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy, and Britain had to keep it's later support of the Confederacy on the down-low. This in fact lead to some later lost the "Alabama" case (it was liable for a raider built in a UK yard).

The Confederacy for its part counted on its major buyer formally supporting it. Further, the planters fancied themselves an ersatz "aristocracy" (Univ. of Virgina teams are the "Cavaliers," perhaps a sly ref. to the royalist side in the earlier English civil war).

An aside -- as I've note before, our weird necrophilia here for the doings of the House of Windsor is disturbing and perplexing. It begins with the Gilded Age, a study of its progression would be fruitful.

It would be fair to say that as existing regional and class antagonisms came to a head (e.g., Missouri compromise, annexation of Texas, "bleeding Kansas," Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry), the various actors involved called upon existing international ties for aid.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 30, 2014 7:30:42 PM | 20

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." --Winston Churchill

It's become a favorite presidential information tool: Saddam, WMD; Qaddhafi, massacre; Assad, chemical weapons; Chavez, tyrant; Israeli pogrom, Hamas started it; Crimea, Putin invaded.

Worse yet, the overwhelming majority of the gullible American public has a pathetic need to believe whatever the Warmonger-in-Chief says about foreign affairs. But far fewer believe him on domestic policy. Go figure.

How pathetic is that?

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 30, 2014 7:50:02 PM | 21

Oops -- meant to say "This in fact lead to later to their loss the "Alabama" case, a major bit of international law."

It's the eggnog...

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 30, 2014 8:39:10 PM | 22

The credibility issue with respect to the USA is an unmitigated disaster on all fronts. From false flag attacks, to false claims of dirty deeds by foreign bad actors (state or otherwise), to phony colored revolutions, to phony wars on terror, to a MSM that stage manages perception, to myriad proxy wars and usurpations, to NSA spying scandals... the list goes on and on - its cumulative effect is undeniable.
Mind you none of this registers with the majority of the American populace, since the MSM does its job better than the formal government.
Now as far as the rest of the world is concerned (yes, even the closest of 'allies' such as Israel), the credibility issue regarding the USA is as noted above, an unmitigated disaster.

Posted by: spinworthy | Dec 30, 2014 10:27:40 PM | 23

Off-topic in an on-topic kind of way...

How and Why Western News Media Gets North Korea's Economy Wrong

https://gowans.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/how-and-why-the-western-news-media-get-north-koreas-economy-wrong/

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 30, 2014 10:59:29 PM | 24

@spinworthy #23:

even the closest of 'allies' such as Israel), the credibility issue regarding the USA is as noted above, an unmitigated disaster.
I don't understand your point. Why should Israelis find anything wrong with what the US is doing, since after 9/11, the US just does in the whole globe what Israel does in its immediate neighborhood? The neocon infestation of the Beltway has gotten the US to become Israel.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 30, 2014 11:37:34 PM | 25

@Demian #19:

A Russian historian thinks along the same lines as Dmitry Orlov does in that post I linked to:

We know that Indian people fought for independence, but they would fight for another 150 years if Soviet tanks didn't enter Berlin, and more importantly, entered North Korea and began their immediate presence in this region. In this situation the Englishmen and other 'capitalists' had to show that they are for freedom and equality. They had to leave India. What did they do while leaving - they split the country into two parts. They created Pakistan. For those who don't know - never before did Pakistan exist, it was an artificially created country, which name was created by Indian college students who studied in London. Everything as usual - in London. The country was divided along religious lines, Hindus to India, Muslims to Pakistan. Accordingly the population was mixed. Tragedy. What happened in reality? India and anti-India, called Pakistan.
Like Ukraine is anti-Russia. That the Anglo empire does this thing all the time appears to be the new Russian meme.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 30, 2014 11:57:57 PM | 26

Demian, Israel exists outside the beltway regardless if the beltway is dominated by Israeli interests. The fact that the two very often converge on issues says more about the role of Israeli interests rather than Washington's leadership on the issue.
Do you recall when Israeli voices were recently warning America that it's credibility had been seriously damaged after Obama 'drew a red line' on the Syria chemical attack false flag and then failed to take 'action'.
Believe me, they may be liars, thieves and scammers but they're no idiots. Now as far as the majority of the home audience is concerned...?

Posted by: spinworthy | Dec 31, 2014 12:11:39 AM | 27

@spinworthy #27:

That's a telling example. I do recall that several Israeli intelligence officers went to the White House to tell the US about the alleged Syrian gas attack, and that is who the USG "learned" who was allegedly responsible for the attack from. Since then it emerged that that gas attack was a false flag run by the Turks, possibly with Saudi and/or Israeli complicity.

So what your example shows is that when Israel criticizes US foreign policy, it is for not being enough of a bully, not for acting against international law or disregarding other norms of civilized behavior. This gets back to my original point. Israel is even more of a rogue state than the US. So why would you choose Israel as an example of a "closest" US "ally", instead of, say, Germany or Australia? (I don't mention the UK, since the UK is a special case, since the US empire is just a continuation of the British empire.)

Posted by: Demian | Dec 31, 2014 12:29:33 AM | 28

@15 wow.. i am not confused in the least about newspeak. newspeak is code for bullshit or baffle gab... as for jeff's comment - i get it, but in fact any credibility based off the law of the jungle or a gun is no credibility as i see it - just the opposite. it's a complete absence of credibility.. the usa has no credibility and anyone who is confused enough to think that newspeak, bafflegab can substitute for it is a flake with no cred either..

i don't respect bullies which is what the usa is at this point.. i am always amazed at apologists for bullies which is how you strike me.

Posted by: james | Dec 31, 2014 12:49:25 AM | 29

The Imperial Collapse Playbook

By Dmitry Orlov

December 30, 2014 "ICH" - Some people enjoy having the Big Picture laid out in front of them—the biggest possible—on what is happening in the world at large, and I am happy to oblige. The largest development of 2014 is, very broadly, this: the Anglo-imperialists are finally being forced out of Eurasia. How can we tell? Well, here is the Big Picture—the biggest I could find. I found it thanks to Nikolai Starikov and a recent article of his.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40585.htm
and
http://www.mediafire.com/view/08rzue8ffism94t/China-%20Russia_Double_Helix.docx
first put up at the Vineyard of the Saker

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 31, 2014 1:12:29 AM | 30

spinworthy is a Zionist troll.

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 31, 2014 1:21:36 AM | 31

@okie farmer #30:

Yeah, I did notice that Orlov acknowledges Nikolai Starikov for the anti-India, anti-Russia, … idea, which is the basis of that piece. I linked to an English translation of a talk by Starikov on this subject at #26. So this is not some "meme" thing. Orlov was just expanding on Starikov's idea.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 31, 2014 3:52:18 AM | 32

BBC, the trollop of MSM, ha snews from the White House that ObaMa has been talking to the:

Mirror, mirror on the wall.
Who is the smartest of us all?

USA Russia: Obama suggests Putin 'not so smart'

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-30629200

If this continues, 2015 ought to be a doozy of a year, a contender for the title - most insane.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 31, 2014 4:09:55 AM | 33

I wonder if some of those New Yorkers still feel they did "the patriotic thing" last week by going to see "The Interview"?

I'll answer that, they will probably never even realize that a disgruntled former employee was the lone gunman behind the Sony cyber attacks, along with all the other dumb sheeple that watched the movie for the same reason.

Posted by: Cynthia | Dec 31, 2014 9:44:10 AM | 34

How and Why Western News Media Gets North Korea's Economy Wrong

What economy? I didn't know NK had one.

As for Putin being smart, we'll see. When a substantial percentage of Russian Oligarchs lose half or more of their prodigious fortunes, they'll be none too happy and their so-called patriotism and fealty to Putin will wane. How long does Putin have, that's the real question? Will he go willingly into that long night, or will they flip the switch for him and JFK his ass?

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Dec 31, 2014 9:52:29 AM | 35

#33

I don't think Obama is as smart as HE thinks he is by half. For instance, he left these Israeli-humping Neocon dogs in place to continue their warmongering bullshit from the last Administration on JSIL's most hated enemies.
Being overhyped and arrogant, with dubious achievements across the board, surrounded by pampered Ivy league douchebags is not necessarily a guarantee of success...especially when they all lie so transparently and believe in their own God-given gift of "exceptionalism" which can and often does lead to gross over-estimations of your own power. So he listened to Hillary and doubled down in Afghanistan? Brilliant. Killed a lot of people in Libya and Syria and turned those places into controlled anarchy? Well gosh, just give him the Peace Prize for waging war and making it look like him and his country have nothing whatsoever to do with it. It sure fooled a lot of people in der Homeland, and not just his acolytes either.
And this State Dept inspired funny business in the Ukraine, really doesn't look so smart in retrospect either. Kongress wanted to arm the Ukrainians. Even stupid US taxpayer doesn't want to get involved, but it doesn't seem to matter.
I live in USSA and the truth, like democracy, doesn't mean shit. If it does then you are either rich, a liar, or a fool.

Posted by: farflungstar | Dec 31, 2014 9:52:59 AM | 36

cnh @ 35

Are they still gunning for Castro though? Maybe that's what up with resuming diplomacy. Some elaborate "The Interview" style plot to finally get the old man. You would think Putin's KGB comrades would have his back.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 31, 2014 10:03:43 AM | 37

in re 26 --

Divide and rule is widely known as classic Brit. colonialism. See Nigeria and on a grand scale India, even before they gingered up the Muslim League vs. the INC between the wars. See them use locals vs. the Mughal emperors. Their intense interest in India post-1783 was to make up lost American revenues. Cornwallis redeemed himself there, if memory serves.

to farflung at 36 --

A little rough around the edges. But not incorrect. We Ams. are neither as clever, beloved, or good as we like to think we are. Barry Choom may be a little more devoted to exceptionalism than most.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 31, 2014 10:15:18 AM | 38

38

A good indicator of AmeriKan sincerity about human rights, freedom and democracy abroad is Libya. The Libyans HAD TO be rescued suddenly from the clutches of the evil Qaddafi and delivered into the arms of lunatics, fanatics, anarchy and death. Once that and oil flow was taken care of and their gold disappeared, we wiped our hands and pushed away from that table.
Not too many articles of concern for the Libyans now, is there? I guess they got what they asked for, now they can take care of the problems we helped create for them.

Posted by: farflungstar | Dec 31, 2014 10:33:02 AM | 39

@37 My guess is the Pope was considering making noises about the sanctions, and given Obama's past promises, it might appear to be embarrassing with Hispanic voters. After all, JFK has been dead for 51 years. Most Americans would rather vacation in Cuba than worry about Castro. The rewards for ending the sanctions are too good for Cuba to ignore an overture especially since Obama and the MIC are not particularly bright.

IMHO Obama does what he perceives is in his direct interest, and having the all dogs go to heaven Pope coming after him wouldn't look good.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Dec 31, 2014 10:44:49 AM | 40

rm @ 37

I consider Castro's Cuba, at least in the past although it's now the recipient of a new characterization, to be one of a handful of Bob Todds in stocks to be flogged for the projected sins of all. It's no coincidence that as The Heat is ramped up on North Korea, it's concomitantly turned down on Cuba.

Putin's FSB comrades will have his back until it's no longer advantageous to have his back. That's how these boys work. Litvinenko was once one of their own, but there was nothing to be gained by getting his back, so he was hung out to dry. He took that cast-off to the bank but then, like so many before him, he drank the tea. When will people learn, even the ones who should know better? Don't Drink The Tea.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Dec 31, 2014 10:56:12 AM | 41

cnh at 41

Better to be feared than loved, Machiavelli says in "The Prince." Also, that you should court the masses, who wish to be left alone, versus the powerful, who wish to oppress. Masses love Putin, oligarchs fear him, as he has brought the oligarchs somewhat to heel. We'll see if FSB loyalists outweigh FSB opportunists.

No reason if Castro 90 mis. away can hold on vs. an onslaught, Putin can't as well.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 31, 2014 11:09:47 AM | 42

Okie my simple minded lad, you almost made me spew my coffee!
How do you fathom that someone referring to Israel as, "liars, thieves and scammers" is an Israeli Troll?
Your statement #31 is pure ignorance. If you were to read any of my comments on any sites anywhere, you would hardly say such stupid things.
Are you a TROLL?

Posted by: spinworthy | Dec 31, 2014 11:16:00 AM | 43

@Demian #28 Did you happen to notice my quotation marks around the word ally when referring to Israel? Furthermore I do make a distinction that Israel only listens to USA when it suits itself and more often than not directs American policy. My statement backs up your claim that Israel is 'rogue' in this sense.
No European country (I don't include UK in Europe) exercises influence over USA even remotely close to that of Israel.
Germany is not an ally but a conquered vassal nation still under occupation and must do as its told. Australia, I guess they are closer to what may be defined as a lacky/ally.
My point is that the USA doesn't have real allies in the sense of a common cause shared by all.
If you're going to reply to a comment (hint hint, okie) at least read the comment before reacting to it, otherwise you start to sound foolish.

Posted by: spinworthy | Dec 31, 2014 11:41:36 AM | 44

@spinworthy #44:

Yes, I do actually pay attention to things like scare quotes. I was just confused about what your point was, since the narrative in the enlightened blogosphere is that the predatory and boundlessly aggressive nature of the United States is becoming increasingly evident to everyone. What you wrote about Israel's criticism of Obama's actions with respect to Syria have nothing to do with this emerging perception by humanity; Israel's response to how Obama is handling Syria is in fact the exact opposite.

james has criticized me for calling newcomers trolls, but in your case, my troll alarm did not go off. ;-) I fully concur with what US say about "allies" of the United States. Israel is not an ally of the United States because it brazenly exploits the US; NATO countries are not allies in the proper sense of the word because they are just vassals, not permitted to pursue their own interests.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 31, 2014 12:16:57 PM | 45

Sorry, "what US say" should be "what you say". Make mental not to never post a comment without reading it over first.

Posted by: Demian | Dec 31, 2014 12:22:38 PM | 46

USA and/or Obama had credibility? Since when? Examples? I haz confused.

Happy New Year everyone. Hold onto your hats cuz I think 2015's gonna be an even bumpier ride...

Posted by: RUKidding | Dec 31, 2014 12:38:38 PM | 47

http://www.npr.org/about-npr/372914282/full-transcript-npr-news-interview-with-president-obama

OBAMA: I — I think that the challenge that we're going to have is a recognition that we are hugely influential; we're the one indispensable nation. But when it comes to nation-building, when it comes to what is going to be a generational project in a place like Libya or a place like Syria or a place like Iraq, we can help, but we can't do it for them.

Now, I think the American people recognize that. There are times here in Washington where pundits don't; they think you can just move chess pieces around the table. And whenever we have that kind of hubris, we tend to get burned. Where we're successful is where we see an opportunity, we put resources in, we support those who are trying to do the right thing for their society; and every so often, something breaks.

But — but I think that one of the things I've learned over six years, and it doesn't always suit the news cycle, is having some strategic patience. You'll recall that three or four months ago, everybody in Washington was convinced that President Putin was a genius...

INSKEEP: For taking Crimea...

OBAMA: And he had outmaneuvered all of us and he had, you know, bullied and, you know, strategized his way into expanding Russian power. And I said at the time we don't want war with Russia but we can apply steady pressure working with our European partners, being the backbone of an international coalition to oppose Russia's violation of another country's sovereignty, and that over time, this would be a strategic mistake by Russia.

And today, you know, I'd — I'd sense that at least outside of Russia, maybe some people are thinking what Putin did wasn't so smart.

INSKEEP: Are you just lucky that the price of oil went down and therefore their currency collapsed or...

OBAMA: Well...

INSKEEP: Is it something that you did?

OBAMA: If you'll recall, their economy was already contracting and capital was fleeing even before oil collapsed. And part of our rationale in this process was that the only thing keeping that economy afloat was the price of oil.

And if, in fact, we were steady in applying sanction pressure, which we have been, that over time it would make the — the economy of Russia sufficiently vulnerable that if and when there were disruptions with respect to the price of oil — which inevitably, there are going to be sometime, if not this year then next year or the year after — that they'd have enormous difficulty managing it.

I — I say that, not to suggest that we've solved Ukraine, but I'm saying that to — to give an indication that when it comes to the international stage, these problems are big, they're difficult, they're messy. But wherever we have been involved over the last several years, I think the outcome has been better because of American leadership.

Posted by: okie farmer | Dec 31, 2014 12:43:26 PM | 48

Spin@44

I look at Israel as if it were the 51st state, a really crazy Texas with a lot more guns and the freedom to use them.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 31, 2014 12:48:03 PM | 49

Wayoutwest @49
I tend to see Israel as our true District of Criminals, where the halls of power actually exist for the USA. Seems that tail wags this here dog pretty hard - including shaking down the dog for big buck$ - all of the time. 51st "state"?? Nah, much more powerful than liddle biddy Tejas.

Posted by: RUKidding | Dec 31, 2014 12:57:01 PM | 50

RU@50

I understand why many people view Israel as you do but I think it deflects responsibility away from the US for our crimes, we are better than the Izzies, not, or The Devil (Israel} Made Me Do It.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 31, 2014 2:36:00 PM | 51

WOW @51 - don't take my commentary for exonerating or condoning or pardoning anything done in USA by these criminal f*cks. They are just as culpable and responsible. Just saying: seems like Israel calls the shots a large part of the time. Those crooks in the USA District of Criminals who hop to NuttyYahoo's commands are just as responsible (or more) so for quickly complying with the commands.

Posted by: RUKidding | Dec 31, 2014 2:58:31 PM | 52

Sony Pictures also made Zero Dark Thirty. Perhaps this is some sort of reward from the Obama administration to Sony for carrying Obama's water.

Posted by: Cynthia | Dec 31, 2014 5:48:48 PM | 53

The loss of 'credibility' on cyber claims is just an epi-phenomenon. The real loss of credibility is to the Western financial system.

The Obama-cons have completely given up on the web of official economic 'doctrine' - competition, free-markets, the whole story - and baldly weaponized money itself - US dollar denominated money - and so their economic fairy tale has itself lost all credibility, although it is such a monstrous, fundamental loss that the reality is taking some time to penetrate multiple levels of denial, not unlike 9/11.

But unlike 9/11 - a circumscribed, localized smoking ruin, no matter what explanation you bought for it - the tumescent emperor is still strutting about and acting in his new, weaponized, financial suit of clothes, wreaking new havoc everywhere as he does so.

The peoples of the world, horrified at his hairy nakedness, all edge - as unobtrusively as possible - toward the door of the throne room, whence they'll run, not walk, through the portcullis and leap the moat in a single bound. Desperate to be anywhere but in the realm of the mad emperor, and subject, soon, to his hyper-inflated currency.

That's what it looks like to me, at any rate.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 31, 2014 8:27:45 PM | 54

Posted by: jfl | Dec 31, 2014 8:27:45 PM | 54

Sure hope so. Sometimes I think those who see the madness of Emperor Sam are only me, my friends, most commenters under mainstream 'news' and punditry, and moonofalabamans.

Posted by: fairleft | Jan 1, 2015 5:37:21 AM | 55

JFL@54

Some pundits continue to scream the Sky Is Falling but the US dollar is buying much more oil and rubles than a few months ago, gas is $1.85 here. The Hegemon may be crazy but he is crazy like a fox and much more dangerous. The people will suffer but the Empire will persist until a real counterforce dismantles it.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Jan 1, 2015 11:06:28 AM | 56

Obama doctrine

We'll use the banking systems to fight our wars and implement sanctions on our foes. We'll take defensive action to protect Hollywood liberal arts and political ally Sony Pictures.

Obama signs Executice Order DPRK

Posted by: Oui | Jan 2, 2015 3:32:19 PM | 57

@20 Right. Cluborlov lame as usual. The Brits were well invested in Northern railroads as well. meanwhile it was a no-brainer to invest in cotton slavery in the first half of the 19th century. No political conspiracy required. It was by far the most profitable enterprise in the USA at the time. Unpaid slaves, you know. The stuff that made America great. Indeed it made the USA possible.

In mind and spirit America remains a slave society to this day.

Posted by: Matt | Jan 2, 2015 5:36:06 PM | 58

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