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Total number of comments: 469 (since 2014-07-13 17:53:33)

Nicholas Wibberley

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  • Trump feuds with Merkel, EU, BMW, NATO, China, CIA but not with Putin
    • I haven't read the interview in full, actually it was with Michael Gove for The Times with a Bild journalist present, but playing devil's advocate to some points mentioned here, NATO is not popular in Europe, most Europeans, that is people rather than politicians and members of the beribboned military, see NATO as a provocative arm of US foreign policy that should have disappeared with the USSR. As for Ukraine, it was supposed to be a buffer entity on the borders of Russia and it wasn't the Russians who forgot that; Nuland was recorded engaged in that coup, even identifying the cost of it. Who Crimea belongs to is is of little concern, and given its history its hardly surprising its citizens preferred Russia to a confrontational future under a US selected billionaire confectioner.

      The EU was originally conceived as a trading area and many, including the British, wish it had stayed that way. The Germans were indeed the most determined advocates for the Euro, and bent and obfuscated eligibility regulations to make sure nations like Greece were roped in. The EU and particularly the Eurozone have benefited Germany at the expense of the Southern European nations, and its popularity is in serious decline. It destroys small businesses and has proved all but worse than war for many Greeks and Italians, and led to multiple suicides. Nor is the EU democratic, many of its hierarchy are unelected, small minded little men (mostly men). Its accounts have not been signed off for 20 years which makes one wonder what kind of shenanigans they hide. Right now its attitude to Brexit is petty, petulant and punitive, just as it is arrogant and overbearing to Greece.

      Merkel's enthusiasm for immigrants has it roots in her Lutheranism. It may well pay dividends in the future but we don't live in the future and are not all German, and it has gone to excess in a way that has stretched social services and law enforcement, and further eroded domestic freedoms. Had it been caused by natural disaster that would be different but it is seen as a direct consequence of misguided foreign policies. Gaddafi warned Blair, among others, exactly what would happen if they reduced Libya to chaos and he was right to the dotted I and the crossed t.

      Many Europeans simply do not share US paranoia over Russia, especially those whose economic security has suffered from sanctions. The EU glibly extending Russian sanctions does nothing to improve its popularity either. The ultra right wing is distressing but if a pendulum is pulled too far one way it develops a natural nisus to swing back almost as far.

      All in all Trump is not that far out of line with much European thinking, again I mean European people whose trust in their ever more detached leaders, along with media and business outfits is at record lows.

  • From Syria to Sanctions, Flynn-Russia Quid Pro Quo?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/16/2017 at 3:42 pm

      It was fluctuating alliances wherin any two might combine to resist the third if it threatend the balance. It was Winston Smith's job to edit and 'photoshop' the past to conform with any changes of alliance.

    • I cannot imagine Trump thinks the rebels and ISIS are the same. However, their purposes do overlap significantly from the perspective that both are aiming to overthrow the regime by force of arms, albeit for quite different purposes. Trump has expressed himself uninterested in overthrowing the Assad regime, or any others for that matter, and that totally alters the equation since Assad has been consistent all along that his intention is to clear the land of all armed groups opposed to the government, and that made US insistence on regime change an impediment to cooperation which now hopefully disappears. Confirming such a new US position could well require six calls. Once you accept Assad's position, and like it or not that is what it amounts to, the precise order in which these groups are confronted militarily is likely largely a question of their geographical locations and attendant lines of communication.

    • Saying he was wishing Putin Merry Christmas is ironic, surely? A twinkle in the eye way of saying, Buzz off, I'm not telling you. Would anyone really expect him to throw details of such exchanges to a bunch of largely antipathetic talking heads.

  • All the President's Deniers
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/13/2017 at 3:51 pm

      The conference is in Paris not Geneva.

    • This whole business is extremely undignified, to put it mildly. It used to be that one just shrugged one's shoulders but I think it will now engender further erosion of blind European loyalty to US foreign policies this side of the water. Initially it is likely to be with Russia because economic sanctions are hurting Europeans and are in any event not a sensible way to resolve disputes, particularly those provoked by US actions; the Ukraine coup financed with 5 million US dollars, and the provocative build up of forces along Russia's border, which evokes in many still vivid images of WWII. Of course there are other ingredients as well, like the economic model which is seen as a largely US construct and is patently harming millions. Once people start thinking like that they draw in a host of other bits of US policy that can, rightly or wrongly, be regarded in much the same way. Then we have the Israel/Palestine mess which everyone knows has been prolonged by US policy. Heaven knows what Obama was doing abstaining from resolution 2334 but Kerry has decided to attend the French organised conference in Geneva when he has but three days left in office because, ...we don’t want to certainly see anything come up that attempts to impose a solution on Israel. Most Europeans think it's high time to 'impose' a solution and will see Kerry's last ditch effort is an attempt to protect Israel from world opinion expressed in the UN applause when 2334 passed. None of this is intended as a criticism of the US or its policies, simply an illustration of significant potential divergence.

  • If Trump moves US Embassy to Jerusalem, all Hell will Break Loose
    • Israel has been provoking hell to break loose for years. What has become pertinent is the way European attitudes towards Israel have been deteriorating. I remember when left wing intellectuals were all eager for what they anticipated could be a template for a 20th century postwar nation. Those attitudes prevailed until around 1967 when they began to evaporate in a sense of bewildered disappointment to the point they have now become as negative as they once were positive, and it requires extraordinary legislation to keep them in control. The level of spontaneous applause that accompanied the recent adoption of UNSC 2334 should worry Israel more than the contents of the resolution itself. Since all else appears to have failed, and Trump bodes no good, maybe the only remaining solution is to keep our own heads down and let all hell break loose.

  • For Russian hold on Trump, follow the Money, not the Sex tapes
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/11/2017 at 9:12 am

      Sorry, erroneous link above, try:
      link to sputniknews.com

    • A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, said on Wednesday however that the allegations had been “total bluff, an absolute fabrication, utter nonsense.”

      “The Kremlin has no compromising information on Trump. This report does not correspond to reality and is nothing but absolute fiction,” Peskov added.

      link to aje.io

      When I was young a familiar response to gossip about personal behaviour was that, it doesn't matter what you do so long as you don't do it public and frighten the horses. My grandmother also advised one young lady on the brink of a questionable relationship that it was one thing to take excursions to sin but quite another to live in it. In a society that has lost fear of the all seeing gods, the only restraint is the law which means either you get away with things or you get caught, and the principal thing is not get caught. As for financial shenanigans, I had once occasion to take advice from a senior tax counsel who interrupted me at one point with, Do not. Mr Wibberley, talk about 'avoiding tax', talk instead about 'adopting methods that do not attract tax'.

  • Welcome to Psychopathocracy
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/10/2017 at 10:53 am

      It is possible an internal weakness is manifest in this recent election and that Trump didn't so much give rise to it as it gave rise to both him and his erstwhile opponent in the hustings. I have long wondered if an element in the broader fracturing of Western societies and their associated values could be debt. Debt does erode freedom and leads to a condition similar in ways to servitude. Debt is now so widespread the majority know nothing else, and many live and die without ever being free of it. So large a number living in quasi-servitude may have eroded not only their personal but a collective sense of responsibility to a degree that has made a more than somewhat dysfunctional situation not only possible but perhaps inevitable. What is equally distressing is that those who see something is seriously wrong and might come together to get things back on the rails appear to prefer bemoaning and analysing from the shore rather than getting feet wet doing something about it. What is surely more important than whether or not Trump shows psychopathic characteristics is how in the name of Hecuba he came to get hold of the keys to the White House.

  • Meryl Streep calls out Trump: Having Bully-in-Chief Coarsens whole Culture
    • The citizens who voted for Trump are not graced with Meryl Streep's exceptional talents, nor have they access to her economic environment, perhaps if they had they would not have done what they did.

  • Those Times the NSA Hacked America's Allies
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/08/2017 at 9:35 am

      Elections are not democracy. Democracy is full, thorough debate among citizens resulting in conclusions determined by ballot which all then accept and work together to fulfil, even those who feel deeply that the conclusion is flawed. Many find it a far from perfect system because of the way it can be swayed by emotion more readily than wisdom.

  • Circus of Liars: How Trump & GOP are Twisted into Pretzels over Putin Hack
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/06/2017 at 3:20 pm

      Ah, now we know. An anonymous Russian source claims unidentified high-ranking Russian officials passed DNC data to unidentified intermediaries who passed it to Wikileaks. Eh bien voila!, It wasn't the butler after all!

    • Trump didn't start this. Indeed he attempted to arrest it with his appeal to get on with more important matters. Every nation hacks as though the choice lies between hacking and being hacked, and the Russians may have a particular aptitude for it; apparently because many young Russians trained in computer skills suddenly found themselves jobless with the fall of the USSR.

      ”A lot of these people had access to computers, and they knew how to explore the possibilities,” says Alexei Kruchenok, a software developer in Belarus. “If you didn’t have economic opportunities, you looked at the gray Internet market for money.”

      link to themoscowtimes.com

      This (well worth a read) implies that rich evidence of Russian hacking over an extended period must abound and probably somewhat encourages a claim that interference in US elections could well have happened, but certainly doesn't prove it did or was even likely.

      It seems to me perfectly reasonable to quote Assange since, whatever one's views of the man, he must surely be regarded as having a high degree of specialty in this esoteric field.

  • Top 4 Ways Bush even more Outrageously Dissed the Intelligence Community
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/05/2017 at 7:18 am

      A republic has necessarily to have a quasi-autonomous security (call it what you will) service. Only an absolute monarchy, dictatorship, or faux democracy can have such a thing dedicated solely to the interests of the leader. It doesn't really matter how little the autonomy because if the one is not welded to the other they are bound on occasion to diverge. Bush (and Blair) knew perfectly well Saddam had no WMDs. That wasn't the point. They purposed to invade Iraq and that was that, they were not to be stopped by inconvenient facts. WMDs were after all only an excuse and therefore it couldn't matter less whether they existed or not. In something other than a republic they would have fudged up something, as you suggest the Italians did. In doing so, however, the Italians may well have been serving their masters' interests since their masters were probably anxious to assist Bush. Transparent moral integrity and foreign policy are oil and water; a leader determines what he wants to achieve and it's one of the jobs of the security guys to make it look as good as possible. In a dialectical debate you could argue the CIA failed Bush.

  • Preparing for the Normalization of a Neofascist White House
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/03/2017 at 10:25 am

      I wasn't implying the Right used the War on Islam to commit all the evils we’re seeing. I am sorry if it looked that way. There are fundamental moral, economic and environmental problems just as there are growing infrastructural needs that call for attention, talents and resources currently expended on unipolar aspirations and military adventures. It is not possible for a nation to maintain merciless aggression abroad and social compassion at home. Each contaminates the other with the result that foreign policy is too meek and domestic policy too heartless. Obama is the unfortunate quintessence of that dilemma. If you want to rule the world, apply every resource to that end. If you want a flourishing homeland apply them there instead and only fight wars every able-bodied citizen urgently supports.

    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/02/2017 at 5:01 pm

      Billy the Kid was a contemporary of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

    • It is difficult to avoid a sense of inexorability about the current political situation. In a comment here back in April, I wrote: ...Within the US, however, the classic ingredients for a move towards fascism have begun to form, and I suspect most of Trump's populist appeal is a reflection of that. It won't happen shortly, perhaps it never will, but it has some life in it and it's stirring. Well, they have formed further since then, but attributing Trump to Trump alone doesn't usefully address what is actually happening since in a sense he has been drawn into a vacuum. I don't see Trump as a fascist, more what one might call 'opportunistically fascistic', and likely as astonished as anyone that the bouquet actually fell into his hands. Seriously, does anyone really think he has a fascist agenda, is intent on destroying liberal democracy in favour of a one party state, looks to employ diktat to deal with the economy, and dark shirts to enforce social order? If not, then he is a symptom of something that everyone might combine to address rather than bury heads in sand or exacerbate through further retributive conflict. Aside from the disorder caused to the rest of the world, US foreign policy is eroding domestic freedoms and eating away at social and political institutions. Those still have real self-repairing potential and if Trump can bring the temperature down abroad in favour of making domestic issues his priority then he will have made a greater contribution than his recent predecessors.

  • Top 5 Ways Obama Sanctions on Russia work for Democrats
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/30/2016 at 8:40 am

      We have just had another example of how ill-advised diplomatic behaviour blows straight back in your face. In an impressive pas de deux the Russian Foreign Minister recommends tit for tat reprisals, on public TV no less, and Putin demonstrates his statesmanship by declining to retaliate, going even further by inviting the US diplomats' kids to come share the Russian New Year celebrations with him! The NYT with familiar insularity sees this as Putin gambling on Trump rather than an elegant finesse that leaves the world chuckling. link to nytimes.com

    • These sanctions illustrate once again the conflict inherent in the structure of the US constitution which was designed for the conduct of domestic safeguards rather than an ever expansive foreign policy. All five points here and the perspective of the article itself confirm this. What is not taken into account is the effect on the rest of the world where Obama appears to be losing his marbles towards the end of his long and arduous stint in the big chair. Such sanctions make Trump look mature and statesmanlike with his call to get on with bigger things and reference to the complexity of the world of computers, and they have opened the door for the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova to give praise and express sympathy for John Kerry for having to put up with so dysfunctional a foreign policy link to rt.com . It's embarrassing.

  • Erdogan-Putin Syria Bromance as Turkey accuses US of backing ISIL
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/28/2016 at 9:32 pm

      Why does no one simply welcome this ceasefire with its potential to end the slaughter and chaos?

  • Now is the time for Obama to Recognize Palestine
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/28/2016 at 11:00 am

      The US response to Israel's actions is less relevant now than perhaps it was before Russia entered the Syrian conflict so recognising Palestine statehood might actually be counterproductive since it might look like pique from the departing Obama and in that sense it might even taint the recent UNSC abstention which more or less signalled the end of the US role as leader in this matter thus leaving it open to others, particularly Europeans, to take it up, and I think they will. This has to be built in to any attempt to anticipate the future. No one could or would have dared usurp that role hitherto but handing it to the UN changes everything. Netanyahu claims Obama orchestrated the resolution, the White House denies that but there is a sense of pernickety verbal exactitude in the wording of the denial.

      The United States did not draft this resolution, nor did it put it forward. It was drafted and initially introduced, as we all know, by Egypt, in coordination with the Palestinians and others. When it was clear that the Egyptians and the Palestinians would insist on bringing this resolution to a vote and that every other country on the council would, in fact, support it, we made clear to others, including those on the Security Council, that further changes were needed to make the text more balanced. And that’s a standard practice on – with regard to resolutions at the Security Council. So there’s nothing new to this.

      link to state.gov

      It is pretty obvious the US was indeed behind it and it is entirely consistent with it being an abrogation of further responsibility that it would do just that and no more.

  • Israel's Netanyahu et al. Throw Trump-like Tantrums after UNSC Slam
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/26/2016 at 8:18 am

      They are understandably worried about 2334 (what a nice memorable number) because it changes the situation dramatically. There is now (paragraph 5) a clear and unequivocal call for specific action from all States, and (paragraph 12) an indication that it is not going to go away. Here are three paragraphs:

      1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestine territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace,

      5. Calls upon all States, bearing in mind Paragraph 1 of this resolution, to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967,

      12. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution,

      Complete text : link to un.org

  • Top Five ways Jesus was not White
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/26/2016 at 5:41 am

      The Romans were not racist, in fact their lengthy imperial dominance was made possible by their willing absorption of the peoples and cultures of all races and nations willing to be subjects. Although there are references to where individuals were born I am unaware of any that mention skin colour. Once Papal authority came to dominate the Christian world the extensive use of white marble in the embellishment of Rome and other Italian cities may well have influenced the mental images of the faithful. There was also the pagan association white with purity, still with us in the white bridal gown. The Age of Enlightenment provoked human thinking to abandon the metaphysical but many, particularly religious, images and concepts remained untouched only later to become subject to dismissive levels of practical scrutiny, or in this case misuse.

  • Why the UN Resolution on Israeli Squatting didn't Go Far Enough
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/25/2016 at 4:36 am

      Apparently there was applause in the chamber when the result was announced, which is as close as one can get to a formal global response. Those who oppose Israeli actions in Palestine have been able to look through the mist and see how many they are. The Resolution might have been more critical but Israeli self-justification is deep rooted it may be better to let this Resolution work its effect on the BDS movement, and more extensive recognition of Palestinian statehood, particularly from those nations that have already passed non-legislative motions and may now move forward. Eventually, as with South Africa, it has to be a global ground root movement with its own momentum that brings Israel to heel. Hitherto the US position has been like a dam holding that in check but this is a fracture which means the whole thing will come tumbling down one day since it is irreparable. Trump could be a problem in many ways but principally because Israel's nuclear reactors are said to be well passed their shelf life* and the world needs stand firm and not let anyone renew them.

      * link to 217.218.67.231

  • With Fall of Aleppo, will a Russo-Iranian Middle East challenge Trump?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/24/2016 at 5:14 am

      Whatever the rhetoric, Iran is historically, culturally, linguistically more inclined towards the West, but the West has persistently derailed that inclination since the mid-fifties. Reading the head shaking outbursts of huffing and puffing following Obama's abstention from the recent UN vote on Israeli settlements it is not hard to see they share the same blind irrationality. Iran cannot, any more than Syria, avoid its geographical location and common sense would have it wooed rather than driven from the door. The worthy achievements of the nuclear deal could have led to a new beginning, instead it may be less a question of a Russo-Iranian challenge to Trump than Trump challenging Iran, something neither Russia nor China would be likely to take lying down.

  • Trump blames Muslim immigrants for Turkey, Berlin Violence
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/22/2016 at 10:25 am

      Sorry...wrong place...

    • Anti-Semitism is simply one subdivision of racism that has been winkled out from the rest and given a dimension of its own for largely political purposes. I am unable to see any innate difference between the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – (are) selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.* and targeted attacks on any other racial or religious groups, people or property. As far as I know such acts are criminal anyway and adequately covered by existing UK legislation. Of course there is anti-Semitism, there always has been, but I am unaware of it being politically motivated in the much more dangerous way anti-Arab sentiment is daily ignorantly or willfully nurtured and spewed out in the West. The British tend to be suspicious of all groups unlike them but are also quite ready to accept and welcome individuals when they get to know them. I was well aware of this as a child when many Jews had fled to England from Nazi oppression, it was exemplified by the oft heard phrase, ...but many of my best friends are Jewish. What no legislation will ever do is make people 'like' Jews, but not 'liking' Jews is not the same as disliking them and nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism.

      *https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/a-definition-of-antisemitism

  • Stifling the debate on Israel
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/24/2016 at 6:07 am

      The above was an addendum to a comment that fell by the wayside, my failed attempt to put British anti-Semitism into perspective, a bit like bearing a cup of nitroglycerine along a pebbled beach on a cloudless night!

    • By the way, the characteristic of being initially suspicious of outsiders is almost certainly devolved from our island heritage.

  • Top 5 Reasons Senate Dems should block all Trump Supreme Court Nominees, Forever
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/21/2016 at 11:34 pm

      Such actions will do nothing to stem the erosion of US prestige and standing elsewhere. The result will be other nations increasingly taking responsibility for issues formally firmly in the US province. There are only two ways to exercise authority over other nations; by example or force; relinquish the first and you have only the second.

  • Why do they Hate Putin's Freedoms? Russian Ambassador assassinated in Turkey
    • The assassin may well have been inspired by Western media coverage of the battle for Aleppo which has indeed been comparatively speaking biased, but that cannot be avoided since it is impossible to anticipate every individual's inner response to revelations with potential to evoke strong emotional reactions. However, there remains the possibility that his reactions were identified and primed for this action by some outside influence and that is what the investigation needs determine or we will be dragged into yet another swamp of conspiracy musings.

  • Trump's Jerusalem embassy Move an Invitation to Terrorism: 9/11 Provoked in part by Israeli Occupation
    • Could it be that this appointment and the proposed embassy move turn out to be a generous divorce settlement? He knows about those.

  • Demonization of Putin as "Personally" behind Clinton Hack is old Propaganda Technique
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/17/2016 at 7:59 am

      Thank you. That's a well reasoned piece. His conclusion, however, is predicated on the notion that people behave rationally, which they don't. The earlier stages of the contest between Sanders and Clinton were not the most dignified, and the broader democratic Sanders supporters didn't all simply let their disgruntlement fade and switch to Clinton. You would only need one such minded person with access to the server to capture its email contents. But my main point is that hacking into a server is not the same as releasing the data to WikiLeaks. Inter alia he writes According to a Western European intelligence source, Russian hackers, using a series of go-betweens, transmitted the DNC emails to WikiLeaks. This, of course, is an anonymous attribution, but assuming it to be true it would hardly be a threat to anyone's national security to identify the chain and put the whole matter to rest. Meanwhile, as an aside, Clinton claims Putin engineered the whole business out of personal animosity to her, which puts me in mind of my grandmother, commemorated in my uncle Leonard's novel Mrs. Searwood's Secret Weapon, who was persuaded Hitler's blitz on London was directed against her personally.

    • The Russians doubtless hack every kind of US site, including the DNC. But passing such stuff to Wikileaks is quite another matter. The most damning revelation was arguably the insight into the anti Sanders manoeuvres. That was a breathtakingly arrogant and insidious exercise and it would not surprise me if someone of integrity, perhaps a Sanders fan, within the DNC decided to hang that washing on the line.

  • After Aleppo, Russians prepare to defy Trump re: their Iran Alliance
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/15/2016 at 6:59 am

      Russia's consistency has indeed been the principle characteristic of itssuccess. Consistency does not appear to be recognised by the West, rather each Russian move is viewed as a response to a Western position and in consequence to have a motive which demands study and interpretation, as if the Russians are playing a game with the West rather than simply doing what they clearly stated to be their purpose. The media have the same blind spot with consistency, their experts analysing this and that Russian action as if it had a hidden purpose they need coax into the light. From a Russian perspective the West has been no help whatsoever, indeed it must sometimes seem like having the boss's terriers yapping at your heels. One might say, the West has been consistent in its own way, that is to topple Assad above all else, but consistency needs to respect fluctuating priorities or it's like persisting on a picnic while a storm has broken out, the ground floor is flooded and the car won't start. If you have the patience, just look at the first exchange in yesterday's DOS press briefing. link to state.gov It puts me in mind of a bit of Dante, no idea where from: Viva la sua morte e muoia la sua vita/ Flourish our death and perish our life. Or maybe Richard II's renunciation: Now mark me how I will undo myself...

  • Syria's Aleppo Falling: The Government Russia actually Turned
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/13/2016 at 6:28 am

      Would you apply the same test to what he says of a racist or misogynist nature? Obama will leave us apocalyptic destruction which he didn't inherit in both Libya and Syria. If Trump views that sort of thing as an unprofitable waste of time and treasure, who would disagree. As for the neocon entourage, maybe they're there to keep the tension on his side. My grandfather, who was the gentlest of men, kept alsatians and let them loose at night for a similar purpose.

    • The biggest losers surely are the Syrian people whose endurance and courage bring tears to my eyes. link to youtube.com Trump says he's not going to get involved in this kind of regime change adventure so hopefully we've all seen the last of them.

  • Is Bruited Sec. of State Tillerson allied with Iran & at war with Iraq?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/11/2016 at 3:29 pm

      On second thoughts, I think we will see less hypocrisy because I don't think he cares that much about human rights and democracy so won't make claims about them in the first place.

    • Does anyone really expect attention to the minutiae of law and a disappearance of hypocrisy from Trump? Trump will, I guess, do what he damn well pleases to get the best for what he regards as the interests of the US. Think rather of a big bruiser bestriding the globe with a couple of rottweilers at his heels and no patience with anyone standing in his way, including the CIA and anyone else who has a notion to waste his money. Marlon Brando's Godfather to the power of 10. Meanwhile the masses will be kept happy with revelations and scandals to light up the sky.

  • No, America, it wasn't Russia: You did it to Yourself
    • It's also worth considering that groups are not able to make reasoned decisions, and go only by gut. This, of course, is because while individuals have minds to reason with, just as they each have mouths to eat, groups don't. There is further a tendency for groups to have more confidence which can encourage levels of collective recklessness individuals would probably eschew. (The phenomenon is explored in chapter 53 of Machiavelli's 'Discourse on Livy'.)

      ...if, in the things that are placed in front of the people, there is seen a gain even though it is concealed under a loss, and if it appears courageous even though it is hidden beneath the ruin of the Republic, it will always be easy to persuade the multitude to it...This that I have said is confirmed by infinite examples, Roman and foreign, modern and ancient.

      The tendency can, he argues, only be diverted by the intervention of someone held in general respect; in the Catholic community the Pope doubtless fits that, it's even possible Putin does in Russia, but in the US the role appears sadly vacant.

  • Syria unlikely to be Partitioned: The Resilience of Colonial Borders
    • The inhabitants are likely more united as Syrians than outsiders realise, more than they are divided as members of this or that ethnic group or religious persuasion. Any sense of national identity necessarily encompasses all sorts of subdivisions. Although it may have had an element of seed on stony ground, I recall how dramatically it sprung up in the US in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Among more ancient peoples it has deep roots nurtured by the achievements and tribulations of their inherited past. My guess is Syrians would be seriously opposed to partitioning their land. A bit of federalism is another matter but that is not peculiarly Syrian, there is a broad nisus towards federalism in many places not least Europe. I also have an instinct that Assad's single-minded dedication to restoring Syrian integrity has more local support than Western media may imagine, or want to. Let's consider what Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview in October 2015.

      The last time I saw the Syrian President was in Damascus in May 2010. Syria was a tranquil and civilized country then, unlike now. The old part of Damascus, where I could take a walk, looked like a city where people of different nationalities and religions lived together peacefully.

      I talked with Syrians, who spoke warmly about Russia and its people. I photographed its ancient mosques and churches. It was a modern secular country..

      Life in Syria became a nightmare in 2011, with war, terror, death and the destruction of holy places and monuments that are part of our global heritage.

      link to sputniknews.com

      Actually, I heard the same thing from a French friend who had been travelling there a few years earlier.

      We are invited to accept that the Arab Spring arrived in Syria in 2011, and the present mess arose directly from Assad's brutal suppression of peaceful opposition. However I see no reason to discard the former French Foreign Minister, Roland Dumas' assertion that regime change had been on the drawing board in the UK (and presumably the US since neither Blair nor Brown were likely to plan such a thing alone) for at least 2 years before the violence erupted in March 2011.

      I met with top British officials, who confessed to me, that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister of Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate. Naturally, I refused, I said I am French, that does not interest me”.

      link to nsnbc.me

      If this reflects the truth, Assad was contending with a great deal more than local political opposition. As we may be approaching the recapture of Aleppo it's perhaps time to reassess the true origins of this horrendous period and not seek to impose solutions better suited to a simpler but less accurate scenario.

  • More districts of East Aleppo fall to Regime & Militia Allies
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/07/2016 at 3:27 pm

      But it is precisely the point. The 'international community' is the US and a group of allies with an agenda to oust the Syrian regime, some, far from all, with genuflections to human rights and democracy as remote from their real motives as the Sermon on the Mount was to Philip II in Mexico

    • The tragedy was born with the non-Syrian financial and military aid mustered against the regime which destroyed any prospect for ordered political evolution. The regime was ruthless and might well have put the rebellion down but there would have been another, these things often require much persistence and advance in stages over time. Either way, I doubt anyone can argue Syria and its people are better off today than they would have been had the rebellion been confined to Syrians and put down by the regime. The others might usefully consider their own predicaments consequent on their actions. The Russians, although up to their necks now, only became involved when the situation had already got well beyond a local political rebellion.

  • White Terrorism in the White House? Did Trump's Bannon, Breitbart inspire Pizzeria Shooter?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/06/2016 at 8:50 am

      I don't know that it helps to staple it too firmly to Bannon. There is a clear connection to that particular meme, the perpetrator admits that, but the Internet appears to be awash with such unfounded stories, as if old-fashioned gossip, which one was brought up not to believe, has reached global dimensions. I don't see how it can be stopped but perhaps all information carrying media should also carry prominent warnings, like cigarettes: Warning! Unsubstantiated claims are addictive. Rumors can kill! Maybe even linking access to a site where rumors can be checked out.

  • Russian Pundit: Fall of East Aleppo a Geopolitical Turning Point toward Multi-polar World
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/03/2016 at 10:09 am

      I think there is indeed a switch towards multi-polarity on the horizon and the Russian analysts may be congratulated for seeing it in so positive a light. Syria looks much like a familiar conflict area but here there are significantly different objectives in that while the US still aims at a globe under its sole influence others look to global influence shared between equals. Viewed that way it becomes more understandable why Syria, where this is being played out, should have attracted so many and various participants. It certainly didn't start in Syria, arguably it has been evolving since glasnost but was more or less unnoticed while Russia recovered from its communist excursion. In any event it is a process, and future historians may see it as the most important development of our age. Oddly, the much maligned Trump appears to understand it, viscerally if not intellectually. Notwithstanding his fondness for superannuated rottweilers, he does appear to propose abandoning regime change and overt interference abroad, while cooperating with others in the resolution of supra-national problems, and heaven help us there are enough of those.

  • Now that SecDef thinks Israeli Occupation is Apartheid, will the Lobby Blackballing Fail?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/03/2016 at 1:59 am

      Trump may not need to do anything. It would be enough if he simply took a back seat and allowed the rest of the world a free rein.

    • There needs a two state solution in order to reduce the 'military security price' CENTCOM pays daily for US obeisance to Israel. How comforting for the Palestinians. The General didn't appear to have much of a world view in those days. Do you suppose it can have broadened in retirement?

  • How Rupert Murdoch & Fox Created the Fake News Industry
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/01/2016 at 7:46 am

      I was 15 in 1953 and recall to this day an uneasy feeling when I heard that news of Edmund Hillary's conquest of Everest on May 29 was delayed in the UK to add lustre the Coronation on June 2. Feelings are difficult to verbalise but it was as if what I had until then taken to be an open window actually had shutters someone was controlling. Turning this over, I found myself wondering if the story of the delay might itself be untrue. The whole thing left me with a media scepticism I retain to this day.

      The very variety of information sources today makes possible an impression, a distillation providing something to work with, moveable, not fixed, containing an accepted uncertainty factor, a bit like weather forecasts. I think we have to accept this.

  • Why Russia and Regime want all of Aleppo before Trump is sworn in
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/30/2016 at 8:17 am

      The regime and its allies appear to be doing quite well, and I imagine they have some reservations about US aid, particularly if that might mean a carnival of military aid which they could probably do without. Much more useful would be non-interference from the US, allied to a substantive effort to halt the inward flow of weapons. That is something Trump might be able to do which Putin can't. Neither Putin nor Assad believes in rebels armed with foreign weaponry being in any meaningful sense moderate. In fact, I doubt anyone does if they sit down and consider the concept brought to their own shores. It's one thing for individuals to involve themselves actively in remote ideological struggles, as many did in the Spanish Civil War, but not nations. If a problem becomes supra-national then it really should be dealt with by the UN, itself an outfit that, as Muammar Gaddafi believed, could do with a good old shake up.

  • Is Jimmy Carter right that Obama should Recognize Palestine?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/29/2016 at 11:50 am

      Should he? I'm not sure 'should' comes into it. Morally, doubtless, but this is foreign policy and it has nothing to do with morality, which simply provides a feel nice factor when the cards happen to fall that way. Tactically it strikes me as a good move, not because of the feedback that would hit Netanyahu, which would, mea maxima culpa, be nice to watch, but because the status quo is unsustainable, a thorn in the bosom of the ME, and damaging to the US which is facing an uncertain period internationally. Such action now would enable Obama to kick the next stages into play without having personally to face the unfolding consequences. It would also be a fine gift to Trump and future presidents since it would hand over a fait accompli for which Israel will be unable to take retributive vengeance.

  • Conspiracy Theorist in Chief: Trump's falsehood about 2 mn. illegal votes only tip of Melting Iceberg
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/28/2016 at 10:49 am

      We are just going to have to adjust ourselves to living with this kind of thing. It's designed to orchestrate emotions not feed minds. These are not facts and I don't suppose Trump expects them to be taken as such, they are mood adjusters. I imagine he was provoked to these excesses in reaction to the Jill Stein's few days in the sun and her genuflections to 'people's rights to be assured' and alleviated from doubt, doubt that she had largely sown herself. By her self she might not have triggered the shower of tweets, but Clinton struggling on board, dripping with social conscience, invited the response, 'OK, you piss on me, I'll piss on you. We'll see who has the bigger bladder'. When politics comes through the door, truth, delicacy and refinement fly out the window.

  • In Trump's Shadow, is East Aleppo on Verge of falling to Regime, Russia?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/27/2016 at 1:21 pm

      It's probably a generational thing but I believe the verdict should come from the Syrian people. As it happens I wish for an era of universalism where all are the same and differences are no more than hair or height. However, I am not that sure about selective universalism, it bothers me, to me it carries a suggestion of white protestant superiority.

    • If the rebels in Aleppo can be finished off with US/Russia cooperation, and the city positioned to receive the aid, medical, and re-constructive support it so badly needs, that surely is something all humanity will welcome. As for Assad, the tumults into which these last 6 plus years have drawn him must surely have so subdued him that he will modify his future conduct to the greater advantage of his people. If such an outcome results in Russia playing a more significant role in the ME that seems to me a good thing, not least because Russia doesn't have so irrational and disruptive an obsession with Israel. The overriding problem for them is the US left the fulfilment of its global ambitions too late after to collapse of the USSR. and this allowed Russia time to re-establish itself as the principle impediment to such ambitions while also giving China time to awaken which, as Napoleon foresaw, would make the world sorry.

  • Is Trump "Pro-Russian?" How will Russia Fare? Russians want to Know
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/25/2016 at 9:32 am

      There has evolved a US attitude that the rest of the world is either 'for us or against us', other nations being either allies, or enemies all set to injure the US if it doesn't injure them first. The economic and military power of the US has served to carve this confrontational perception fairly deep, if for no other reason than that injuring, or threatening, another nation compels it either to pass beneath the yoke or adopt a defensive response and growl back. The US has never actually faced a major power on the ground, for all that is claimed for WWII the Russians had crucially weakened German power well before the Normandy invasion and, since the disintegration of the USSR, US conflicts have been with modest size nations with modest military resources and haven't anyway been won in any meaningful sense. Trump's change of US foreign policy need be no more than the recognition of that reality with a consequent movement of military resources and capability from action to threat. I remember a story current after WWII when we (UK) still endured serious rationing. It told of a box of oranges acquired by a trader who sold it at profit, a transaction repeated by subsequent buyers until it came to a family man who bore it home with great pride and expectation only to discover the oranges spoiled and uneatable. Taking them back in high dudgeon, the seller exclaimed, 'Eat them? You must be mad! These are not oranges for eating, they're oranges for doing business with'.

      Searching my recesses for some character Trump's approach might perhaps resemble, I came up with Marlon Brando in 'The Godfather'.

  • Will Turkey leave NATO for Sino-Russian Shanghai Cooperation Council?
    • China has a policy of not intervening in other countries’ domestic affairs. Russia under Putin, in addition, is not exactly a bulwark of democratic freedoms. That a country should intervene in other countries’ domestic affairs may be debatable but is scarcely a demonstrable of fact. Neither China nor Russia are bulwarks of democratic freedom for the reason that they don't have democratic freedoms to need bulwarks, and never have. Does any large country enjoy democratic freedom in the original Hellenic sense? Many claim to be democracies but their variations make it hard to find enough in common to arrive at a non-ideological definition. Citizens choose their leader and the US system is the benchmark, might be a definition but then we face the results of the recent US election, and perhaps compare them with Putin's over 80% approval rating at home. As for Erdogan, Turkey has been governed in many ways over the centuries, mostly authoritarian, and his method of dealing with opposition is nothing new. NATO is not popular among Europeans, it's increasingly viewed like the contents of the emperor's wardrobe, but the Obama administration has wanted to keep Turkey on board at almost any cost. Trump's arrival my change all that. Then again, why shouldn't Turkey associate with the SCO and still trade with Europe? Because they are enemies? Trump may change that too. I don't like what I know of Trump, I wouldn't have him in the house, but he has shaken the kaleidoscope and things may become very different in the world at large.

  • 5 Trump Headlines more outrageous than the "Hamilton" Tiff
    • A theatre is not a place for actors to step out of character and address individual members of a mixed and captive audience however respectfully. For Pence to express himself not offended was a dignified response to something that shouldn't have happened regardless of the sentiments. Suppose other members of the audience had risen from their seats to protest this misuse of the occasion, or such addresses were to became a norm? Dystopia here we come.

  • Why Internment of Japanese Americans is an outrageous Model for registering Muslim-Americans
    • Higbie is a Trump supporter not a Trump policy maker. Much of this anti-Arab rhetoric was likely electioneering. Trump didn't create it, it was already there, he just seized on it and exploited it for all it was worth. He may have coaxed some of it out of the closet but he didn't put it in there. That anyone is able to do that is a comment on the US political system which although it defines itself as democratic, simply isn't. Having 'free and fair elections' is not democracy, democracy is the debate that precedes a vote, the vote itself is the signing off of the process. A vote without a full and all embracing debate is like employing a table napkin without having eaten. On another tack, US racism largely focuses on Arabs right now because the US is at war with so much of the Arab world, and in order to go out and kill people you have to work up a high degree of negativity about them. This always happens; I am old enough to remember it levelled at Germans in WWII, and there are plenty of cartoon caricatures of the French still around from the Napoleonic wars. So it's nothing new. There is also a direct relation between economic hardship and racism.

      In his acceptance speech Trump expressed two policy purposes which are maybe relevant. The first was to attend to restoring the US infrastructure. Considering the state of much of it, that is a mammoth undertaking which would provide much employment and pour countless billions into the US economy. The other was his expressed intention to ..get along with all other nations willing to get along with us. We will have great relationships. …We will deal fairly with everyone. All people and all other nations. We will seek common ground not hostility, partnership not conflict. which could mend a lot of the other kind of bridges. Is it not reasonable to give as much credence to such rational intentions as to his electioneering braggadocio?

  • Syria's al-Assad: Trump "a natural ally"
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/17/2016 at 9:26 pm

      Correction 'talked with' leaders, not 'met'.

    • Assad's assessment of his potential relationship with the president-elect is sound in that if Trump and Putin do get together to defeat the rebels, Trump will find himself de facto working with the Syrian regime, and also with Tehran and Hezbollah, albeit in that limited arena. That last is important since Trump's view of the world appears totally pragmatic and devoid of abstract idealism. His reservations about the restrictive pressure Trump may come under internally and from interested parties are also sound. However, following his meeting with Obama in the White House, he appears to have kept himself at arms length from the present administration which, according to John Kirby (DOS) yesterday, has had no contact from his transition team. Meanwhile he has met with several foreign leaders, and is meeting to day with Abe, the Japanese leader, without apparently having sought information or discussion points or anything from the State Department. This does tend to suggest a high degree of severance from the status quo and gives further support to Assad's assessment.

  • Will Trump do a deal with Iran or try to Overthrow its Government?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/16/2016 at 4:44 am

      Trump has said he will keep a close eye on Iran's compliance with the JCPOA. The threat being that he will tear up the agreement if they renege on their part in any way, or if he persuades himself that's what they are doing. That should more or less satisfy everyone, at any rate keep them on the starting line. I doubt Trump will try to 'put Iran back together again'. He's much more likely to seek hard nosed deals, keeping Bolton and others snarling like rottweilers while he negotiates. Same principle really. I further doubt he has the slightest interest in humanitarian issues, even at home and certainly not abroad, there's no profit in them.

  • How can Progressives get through the Next 4 Years? Organize!
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/13/2016 at 5:56 am

      Does not everyone feel a deep unease that wars divert attention and resources from pressing matters we don't even need to define because they are so deeply felt. War is destroying more than infrastructure and life, it is destroying the environment, eroding human solidarity and poisoning civilised values. The US has a constitution it regards as a template for democracy, yet when it brings about a result some don't like, crowds pour onto the streets in inchoate opposition. It Is, after all, no fault of Trump that he has been elected. Perhaps it wasn't red neck, homophobic, racism that put him where he finds himself but his apparent purpose to scale back war. Why is his expressed intention to work with rather than against Putin lumped together with his locker room vulgarities? Why is his further intention to concentrate on overcoming Daesh rather than Assad not welcomed as common sense? The US wants democracies in Syria, Iraq, etc. but they must have certain predetermined results. That the attitude, like a virus, seems now to have contaminated the US post electoral scene. I read somewhere Nuland might have become Clinton's Secretary of State. Thank the gods we've been spared that.

    • I doubt Trump has the slightest intention of undertaking any of those controversial promises. An RT reporter, armed with a large print list of nine things Obama had promised asked people in the street to mark those he had actually done. There weren't any. Facts are worse than useless in a campaign, to win you have to connect with people's emotions. Britain's Ukip party apparently acknowledges learning that lesson from Trump. By the way, RT also asked, I think this time in NY, random people to name the wars the US is engaged in. One did hesitantly suggest Afghanistan and another offered Iran in questioning tones. The rest just shook their heads. Is it not a shade dangerous to stir such people to greater public manifestation while the policies Trump announced are abstractions that may never descend to the real world.

  • Putin targets East Aleppo rebels; Did Trump's Election doom them?
    • Russia must surely have been planning this latest drive against the rebels since well before the passage of the Russian armada through the English channel on October 21. The rebels have to be cleared from Aleppo and elsewhere, the more so now since only few civilians were able to take advantage of the ceasefire and the situation is obviously deteriorating. It's a god awful mess but:

      We must always keep firmly in mind that the conflict in Syria was instigated in the first place by the US and other foreign powers for the objective of regime change against the Assad government – a long-time ally of Russia and Iran. Recall that former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed in 2013 that the foreign conspiracy for regime change in Syria was hatched at least two years before the violence erupted in March 2011….

      ...I met with top British officials, who confessed to me, that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. They even asked me, although I was no longer Minister of Foreign Affairs, if I would like to participate. Naturally, I refused, I said I am French, that does not interest me”.

      link to nsnbc.me

      Think of a burning museum, who is to blame, the fire fighters whose efforts are destroying priceless treasures or the group that started the conflagration.

      Nations everywhere need to be allowed to develop towards shared responsibility (democracy, if you like) at their own speeds, not all are at the same point. If a nation stumbles and enters a totally egregious state then there exist global institutions set up to readjust the balance. And, if they are deemed not to have sufficient authority, the answer is simple – give them more. We really cannot continue down this path of endless war; Obama inherited two wars and is bequeathing his successor seven. And he has a Nobel Peace prize!

  • Why the White Working Class Rebelled: Neoliberalism is Killing Them (Literally)
    • If pollsters project results based on responses to their questions, and their projections prove wrong by an unanticipated margin, then either the sample was at fault, which seems somewhat unlikely given their considerable experience, or the responses were misinterpreted, which further seems unlikely for the same reason. That leaves the possibility that either the data was false or they 'massaged' it. I would go for the former for the reasons I mentioned above although there could perhaps have been a bit of both.

    • Cumulatively Trump's support was probably less the product of such reasoned considerations and more a gut feeling, with the polls being so far off because many concealed their voting intentions to avoid the social discomfort of being categorised as 'deplorables', and misogynist, racial ignoramuses. The moral is you may call an individual such names and get away with it but not more than half the population.

  • Top 5 Times the FBI intervened to Help the US Right Wing
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/07/2016 at 9:05 am

      I may be naïve but don't all nations have such organizations, Russia, China, the UK, Israel, Syria, etc. etc. They vary in their resources and methods but they all exist to keep the system on the rails and neutralise potentially troublesome individuals and groups. The US probably has one of the most efficient, understandably given its size and complexity. The fact that they favour the right is surely because that is where the status quo tends to be rooted.

  • The Hatred that Trump's Lies will Leave Behind

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