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Total number of comments: 717 (since 2014-07-13 17:53:33)

Nicholas Wibberley

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  • Iraq on Syria Strikes: We've seen this Movie and it doesn't End Well
    • I have now spent several hours with international, mainly European, journals, reading their accounts of these strikes. While most of the articles are supportive or sympathetic to the strikes the comment sections are almost uniformly opposed to the pre-empting of the OPCW investigation and the absence of any authorisation from the US, UK, or French legislative institutions. Many contain forensic unpicking of the 'evidence'. More significantly, the strikes are broadly seen as a dangerous attack on both Democracy and International Law. I find this salutary and encouraging. NB. I don't know if the same applies to social media since I use none.

  • Reality Show violence in the Age of Trump: Striking Syria
    • Nicholas Wibberley 04/14/2018 at 7:27 am

      Just as the appointed OPCW inspectors approach Douma to conduct their independent examination of the facts, Trump decides to punish a presumed contravention of one international law by deliberately breaking another. Welcome to the post rational world where we discard not only reason but order and international law. It's like stripping naked and rushing headlong into a tumultuous sea to relish the exhilaration of being free from all constraint. Dust down Bryon, turn on Beethoven's 3rd ! When will we ever learn. Seriously, I can understand Trump, he's like a 3 year-old with a box of matches. But Macron and May should have known better, and that's what I find really frightening. Is it that they too are peeved by Assad's successes? What away to conduct foreign policy!

  • Russia, Iran and Syria respond to Trump's Threats
    • Nicholas Wibberley 04/13/2018 at 10:16 am

      There is no little evidence that the US (and UK) had been angling for regime change in Syria years before 2011. While it is possible to regard the civil movement of 2011 as the beginning of the present situation, it could equally be dated from the provision of those billions in aid via Saudi Arabia to some 40 “vetted” guerrilla groups. Without external intervention, and whatever the level of regime reaction to the unarmed civil protest, the outcome would have had no way of evolving into two nuclear powers pawing the ground and glaring at each other. Indeed, Russia didn't even get directly involved for four further years by which time the mess had actually become a potential threat to its own security. Israel and others may well have been happy with intervention but hardly because of any excessive use of force by Assad in quelling Syrian domestic political protest, any more than Phillip II invaded and pillaged Mexico solely to spread the word of Christ and arrest a propensity for human sacrifice. Different purposes need not be mutually exclusive, and are often pursued the one without reference to, or under cover of, the other.

  • Why Trump can't reverse Syrian regime dirty win in Ghouta & why Iran is Gloating
    • Nicholas Wibberley 04/13/2018 at 5:21 am

      The revolutions I was referencing were revolutions against oppressive regimes, revolutions by the people, like the Arab Spring in so many other places which were all against the existing systems. Left to itself it would hardly have got to this mess. Revolutionary movements rarely succeed first time but they come back again until they do, meanwhile they are always bloody.

    • All revolutionary movements are bloody. Look at Europe through the 19th and early 20th centuries:

      1830 France
      1848 Spain
      1861 Italy
      1871 France
      1917 Russia
      1936 Spain
      1956 Hungary
      1968 France

      They were and are all part of the socio-political evolution of human national order. They move nations forward. Sure, they are bloody but so is nature. They are like a sequence of difficult births. They are not assisted by external meddling. In fact external meddling crushes the line along which they struggle, albeit often blindly. They do not always 'succeed', whatever that may be, but they come back again until some modus vivendi is reached and peace prevails for a period. The Arab spring was a series of such revolutions but the US and its allies meddled and turned them into directionless chaos. If Assad does manage to put Syria together again the political evolution of the Syrian people may be able to get back on the rails. I imagine that is what most of them would like. It's an unremitting pity they are not allowed to be masters of their own fate.

  • Psychopathocracy Matures: Trump asks why CIA did not Massacre family of Militant with Drone
    • Nicholas Wibberley 04/08/2018 at 6:12 am

      Most individuals' spheres of involvement, interest even, are fairly confined, like a beam of light with an area in full focus and everything else dimly outside it. Broad interest in a comment like that, and much else Trump says, is minimal. One thing US and Israeli leaders are forever rabbiting on about is their shared values and in this case a bit of your psychopathocracy would seem to be one.

  • Shooting Protesters in Cold Blood: How Israel became a Typical Middle Eastern Dictatorship
    • Nicholas Wibberley 04/03/2018 at 11:31 am

      The Israelis need no Middle Eastern dictators to hone their brutality when they have their own Mythopeia to guide them. Just refresh your recollections of the book of Joshua. Interestingly, I recently found a passage from Procopius' history of Belisarius' early 6th century war against the Vandals in Africa, where he relates that Belisarius found inscriptions on pillars where the Maurusians once dwelt, Nos Maurusii qui fugimus a facie Jesu latronis filii Navae. "We Maurusians who fled [from Syria] before Joshua, the robber, the son of Nun".

  • Could China oil Exchange & Green Energy pull the plug on the Dollar?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 03/27/2018 at 11:39 am

      Though called the US dollar, for decades it has been a universal currency. Even poverty is identified in dollars with sweat shop earnings defined as so many dollars an hour or day. In a certain sense the US dollar has been a globally cohesive factor. Once it started to be used coercively, however, it began to impede trade which is fatal. Trade always finds a way round obstacles; it is an absolute, as old as the first neighbour. It's strange that Trump, a serial bankrupt, should have turned up as POTUS at precisely this moment; enough to reawaken belief in the mischievous hand of Fate, or at any rate the inexorable consequences of hubris.

  • Let's call Bolton what he is, a War Criminal with Terrorist Ties, not just "Hawkish"
    • It has long been the US view that military force should always be on the table to further it's global goals. Bolton is simply less equivocal about it. Earlier occupants have felt it necessary to convince others of a moral or practical neccecity. The difference is the present incumbents feel no such need since, like Dominican Inquisitors, they are fueled by convictions they are ready to burn any nation that questions.

  • Thousands flee E. Ghouta as Regime Army Advances, Rebels ask for Talks
    • They have been hideously mistreated by the rebels. link to . Hopefully they will be cared for and able to return when the area is cleared, which must be happening as recently numbers less than 100 have been reported escaping

  • Saudi Crown Prince Implicated: Credible reports of Torture and Murder in Ritz Carlton: NYT
    • Nicholas Wibberley 03/12/2018 at 9:48 pm

      The principle enshrined in the 23rd of the 39 Articles is that the moral behaviour of the individual does not reflect on the role he performs. It is of no consequence to the UK PM what the prince does to his rivals. If he is overthrown, which seems not unlikely, one simply deals with his successor.

  • Iraq: Al-Sadr & Communist Party ally against Corruption, Iranian Hegemony
    • Nicholas Wibberley 03/11/2018 at 7:27 pm

      Considering the devastation wrecked by Iraq within living memory it seems highly unlikely Iran would let anything approaching it be possible again. Sputnik reports a $3Bln line of credit for 'reconstruction' which is presumably calculated to ease the outcome the Iranian way.

      link to

  • Surprise withdrawal of Syrian guerrillas from East Ghouta as Regime advances
    • Nicholas Wibberley 03/10/2018 at 9:05 am

      From the very beginning Assad has expressed his primary purpose as being to recover the land in its entirety and he has remained consistent. If, as is written here, the war is largely over it hardly seems a moment to compromise. Compromise is for more or less equal opponents at loggerheads to make concessions. That does not appear to be the situation. The regime looks determined to mop up remaining enclaves of rebellion one way or another to avoid them festering. It would rather seem time for the rebels to lay down their weapons, and I imagine if they made such an offer the regime would accept it, and lives would be saved. If that were to happen and the regime refused, that would be a time for external remonstrance. The breakdown of International Law is what enabled this mess to start in the first place, but once started there is little else for it but reversion to old fashioned Machiavellian solutions. The rebels appear to have lost. They might have won. Perhaps they don't believe they have lost. If that's the case they still need to be persuaded. Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.*

      *an epigram attributed, by the way, to the Elizabethan inventor of the flush toilet

  • Netanyahu & Trump, both under Investigation, Meet on phony 'Deal of the Century'
    • Israel's defiance of UN resolutions, and post-WWII conventions has weakened the very concept of international law. International law is rooted in humanitarian attitudes which it sustains and from which it draws its vitality. It counters the innate tendencies of nations and individuals to pursue their own interests at the expense of others regardless of the general good, but Its own strength and its capacity to fulfil that role depend on the respect afforded it. Without that respect it becomes like the rituals of a religion no one believes in. There is no prospect for a negotiated settlement of the Palestinian issue. Negotiation is a distraction. The solution is rigid adherence to the UN and its laws and resolutions, and the restitution of the status ante quo. Many say that can't be done, the settlements are there to stay. That is nonsense. Of course it can be done. It's simply a question of Israel withdrawing its military and police presence and vacating illegal settlements. The solution to Israeli obduracy is BDS which is a latter day form of ostracisation, well attested and already on the table. The fact that powerful elements oppose such a route perfectly illustrates the extent to which the concept of international law has been abandoned.

  • UN: War Crimes being Committed in Syria's East Ghouta
  • Saudi High Command fired by King over Yemen Quagmire
    • Nicholas Wibberley 02/27/2018 at 11:03 am

      It could be a good deal more than impatience with the intractable situation he has created in Yemen that disturbs his slumber. He is not an experienced leader and he doesn't appear to be a good one either. All those sophisticated planes will have pilots, educated scions of the upper echelons of Saudi society, many doubtless related to those he recently rounded up for public fleecing. Internally he must feel himself closely watched, perhaps even vulnerable. Letting Saudi women drive and even serve in the military, while playing footsie with Netanyahu, is not enough. He needs a remarkable achievement and he just isn't getting one. Wellington said that a good General needs to know when to retreat, and have the courage to do so. Firing a few generals is not going to turn Yemen into any kind of a success for him. It may even be be too late. No one is going to come to his aid. Trump certainly won't. I suspect he begins to see that.

  • Europe's big Plans for Iran Trade announce Independence from Trump's Washington
    • Nicholas Wibberley 02/26/2018 at 11:19 am

      Sanctions are simply obstacles to trade, and trade will search a way round any obstacle. In fact it's a defining characteristic.

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  • UN Security Council calls for 30-Day Ceasefire in Syria's East Ghouta
    • Whether an action is 'right' or 'wrong' appears currently to be largely a matter of perspective. Discussion in this thorny area is frequently cut short by someone saying that two wrongs don't make a right while others nod sagely. Matter closed. It's an invalid response, hovering around a false syllogism because the suggestion never was that two wrongs make a right. Two wrongs are always two wrongs. The real question is why does the UN, for instance, occupy itself so assertively with the way the Syrian government responds to mortar fire from a suburb of their capital when Israel's periodic cull of Palestinians for a few rockets launched by Hamas or the present condition of the population of Yemen are treated so differently. The answer, of course, is that reactions depend on US policy. Pressed the other day about the apparent imperviousness of Bahrain and Turkey to expressions of US concern about their human rights issues, the spokesperson had what struck me as a singularly illuminating reply.

      MS NAUERT: Not every time. That’s the reality of this. Not every time do we get our way. Not every time do governments listen and comply with what the United States asks them to do.
      link to

      Will the day come when all actions contrary to International Law are deal with evenly?

  • Are Kurds, Shiite Militias and the Baath Gov't allying against Turkey's Afrin Op?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 02/23/2018 at 8:27 am

      The present situation simply cannot go on much longer. By whatever tortuous means it looks possible some accommodation will come about between Ankara and Damascus to end it. Such an outcome would, though, seem to depend somewhat on whatever can be agreed between Damascus and the Kurdish Syrians. Relatively speaking it looks as if Assad could get the best of it in the end, particularly as he is aided by being the focus of the solidarity evoked when a nation, however divided, comes under external attack.

  • The Age of Total War in Syria
    • Brutality against civilian populations is, alas, not new. Nor is it particularly 'post WW II'. It has always existed. It was even advocated by the Hebrew deity, the record of whose injunctions are (or were) a staple of Western juvenile education. Singling out the present Syrian regime might be thought to hover towards the Straw Man. The fact that the UN didn't succeed in stamping out war is not surprising, the League of Nations, signed into existence after the end of WW I to maintain peace and institute arbitration procedures to avoid the recurrence of war, failed to stop the commencement of WW II 19 years later. If all nations, particularly the most powerful, had adhered 'religiously' to UN principles and respected its resolutions from the beginning it would by now have acquired quasi-religious authority the entire world would respect. Had the US adopted that course after the disintegration of the USSR we might yet be there. I see no third opening in the offing. Once it became disrespected with impunity it was shattered and you are right, international law and international governance were irremediably broken. The abstract idea of a peaceful world still survives, however, thanks to our human capacity for deceptive expectation, aka Hope.

  • Russian campaign Interference looks like ISIL in Polarizing Techniques
    • ...there is only one true set of masses and energies in motion at any one time, etc. Isn't such an approach dependent on a perspective from which you cannot detach yourself however far you step back to reflect on your data?

    • Whether or not anyone interfered in the election it is clearly perfectly possible to do so, and in line with Murphy's law bound to happen. The local solution may be to change the election process so that such attempts are more easily observed in flagrante. The process itself is surely far too long. Such things would be less able to happen were it shorter, as in most other places.

  • Let's remember the Schoolchildren US & Russian bombs are killing, too
    • Nicholas Wibberley 02/17/2018 at 5:35 am

      Human nature doesn't change as much social attitudes to aspects of it. This is well illustrated by attitudes to homosexuality which not long a go was a crime and is now all but a fashion accessory. The destruction of civilians of all ages is as old as the records of ancient Mesopotamia , it dominates the Hebrew book of Joshua, and much ever since. It used to be said that if one person in a thousand defies a law it is unenforceable. I have no idea how true this may be but it illustrates the distinction between having laws and enforcing them. International law, like all law, is primarily for guidance, and if there are penalties they arise from being convicted of breaking it. Leona Helmsley, the notorious hotel lady, supposedly said that taxes were only for little people, and in the same spirit International Law is only for little countries.

      The phenomenon of mass shooting in public places is something quite different and I have wondered if it's incidence in the US could arise from the conjunction of the ready accessibility and preponderance of guns with the obsessive amount of time spent by younger generations on compulsive digital games calling for the destruction of anthropomorphic entities. Those of us who play bridge or chess can remain wound up in a game long after it's actually over but having these other games running through one's mind would be quite another matter.

  • Russia Mounts intensive Syria Air Campaign in Response to Downed Jet
    • Also in the article Dr Cole references, 'experts' are quoted saying the plane was at a high altitude when hit and the weapon likely to have been a Stinger missile. The US, not so long ago, was supposed to have provided such weapons to the Syrian Kurds and to the "Free Syrian Army" although the Pentagon denies it.

      Originally a Stinger would have come from the US because that is where they are made, but they have been around a long time and are all over the place. You can actually buy them online (Google 'Stinger Missile for sale') so tracing the source of a particular weapon could be difficult to say the least. However, Russian/Turkish Intelligence may be able to uncover the last leg of its journey. A betting man might lay a wager on Israel.

  • The Nunes Memo, Spirit Cooking and Pizzagate
    • Using this one incident to have a go at the FBI suggests serious unease about what the FBI investigation may disclose. Most politicians have climbed a long ladder to their positions and learned to be circumspect about their used linen. Until he reached the White House Trump had no need to bother about that and it's lying around all over the place. A serious net cast over his activities, particularly his sources of Russian funding, could well come up with a pretty rich catch beside which Russian involvement in the election may look like cat poo in a cow barn.

  • Spying on the Wrong People: The Hypocrisy of the Nunes Memo & FISA
    • Nicholas Wibberley 02/02/2018 at 10:40 am

      Kim, Not just the UK, most of what is called the developed world has similar reactions. But one should avoid imagining we observe the US floundering while we are on firm land, there are visible strains everywhere. Americans hold their Constitution to be sacrosanct although increasingly it seems to drift from practical reality towards abstraction. To survive, all nations need to adjust their Constitutions to accommodate changed circumstances. Rome survived as a republic 600 years, passing through monarchy, Decemviri , Tribunes, Consuls, and keeping in hand for dire days the role of Dictator. All surviving nations have passed through similar adjustments whether under pressure from without of erupting within. Look at them, Persia, Greece, China, Germany, France, Spain, you name it. England itself has changed its system over the centuries since Runnymede passing through absolute monarchy, early parliament, Commonwealth, limited monarchy, and so on. Do you think it's possible what one takes to be the current US malaise is actually a call for the citizens to revisit their Constitution?

  • Trump declines to Sanction Russia, Spurring Speculation about Putin Hold
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/30/2018 at 11:20 am

      And this while countless millions starve.

      Europe has suffered 21 billion euros in lost exports as a result of sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, Spain's foreign minister said today as he met his counterparts to discuss further measures.
      "Sanctions have had a heavy cost for us all, the EU has so far lost 21 billion euros ($23.7 billion). In Spain we have been badly hit in terms of agriculture and tourism," said Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, giving the first figure of its kind for the EU. 

      link to

      Russian authorities have destroyed 19,000 tons of food since 2014, in compliance with an import ban on certain food products from Western countries. 
      The ban was introduced in August 2014 in retaliation to Western sanctions imposed on Russia following its annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Since then, the country has destroyed hundreds of tons of fruits and vegetables, cheeses and livestock products.
      link to

    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/30/2018 at 9:01 am

      Sanctions are frequently double-edged, and really shouldn't be applied unless they can be guaranteed to produce total capitulation more or less immediately. The Spanish Ambassador to the Court of Elizabeth I advised her: If you come upon your enemy floundering in a river up to his waist, extend your hand and pull him out, but if he is up to his neck, keep your foot firmly on his head.

  • Turkey launches Land invasion of Syria, Calls France opposition "Terrorism"
    • Interesting to see what Assad does. If he plays his cards right, might he get a step closer to bringing all of Syria back under Damascus? There's a lot to be said for maintaining a single unchanging purpose while reacting to each wave and current as you surf towards it.

  • The worst thing about Year One of Trump: Fascistization of Cable News
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/22/2018 at 6:28 am

      If you want, or need, ever more customers, viewers, whatever, you will only find them by going down market until the coffee shop becomes a strip joint and you can go no lower.

    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/22/2018 at 5:54 am

      I believe a significant number were not passionate about the issue one way or another. They didn't understand the implications. Who did? One would just have to deal with the outcome whatever it was. The division was very tight. So tight that it think it reasonable to consider the role played by Obama's threat to put the UK at the end of a trade agreement queue. That was like a cup of cold water in the face of many, particularly as he was a guest at the time, and might well have provoked a negative reaction sufficient to influence the result. It didn't affect me as I have been opposed to anything more than trade agreements from the start, but I felt it.

  • Trump Admin Commits to Forever War in Syria against Iran
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/19/2018 at 6:04 am

      Having brooded on this notion overnight, I am confirmed in it. It's very economical in time, energy, and brain (sic) activity. You announce your plan, have the media spread it far and wide, lie on your bed (the Macdonald's is optional) and watch the responses flow back on three TV screens. Then you carry it through, modify it, or have it denied while you crack open another Coke. Who needs a State Department?

    • It appears a characteristic of the Trump regime to float purposes in a manner that makes them appear firm, encouraging media and commentators to spread them widely like fertilizer, only to modify or deny them later according to the response. One recent example is this business of denying funds to UNRWA, which deals specifically with Palestinian refugees. That looked pretty clear cut when Nikki Haley announced it. However, two days ago the DOS had quite a different perspective on the issue with their spokesperson saying that $60 million committed for 2018 was not included and the other $65 million was only being held for future consideration. It’s money that’s being frozen at this time. It’s not being cancelled. It’s just being held for future consideration. She also insisted link to this was entirely part of a DOS efficiency study of the UN to make sure that the money is best spent and nothing whatsoever to do with politics. My comment here is not actually off topic because we could well be seeing the same thing with Tillerson on Syria. It's almost as if, in the absence of the diplomats who have 'fled the State Department', Trump floats his ideas on the big wide world instead.

  • As US throws Kurds under the Bus, Is Turkey preparing to invade Syria?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/17/2018 at 7:54 am

      It's possible Trump doesn't know what to say about the growing crisis. It doesn't look as if it's progressing anyone's policy, but seems just to unfold under its own momentum from one situation to the next.. The proposed plan for 30,000 troops to police the Syria/Turkey border could be a considered and serious US intention or simply Colonel Dillon's wishful extension of a hypothetical assessment of what it would take to seal the border. Since Trump doesn't apparently read and reputedly has a minimal attention span it's highly unlikely he has much, if any, idea what is going on there. The ubiquitous 'anonymous senior Western official' floated, and several journals have taken it up, the notion the US is planning concrete diplomatic steps to recognise the northern Syrian territories governed by indigenous Kurds and Arabs link to , a story which may have sprung from a piece in Jerusalem Post link to It looks like another occasion for Putin to get behind the wheel because Trump isn't capable, nor does he seems to have appointed anyone around him who is.

  • Trumpist UK Thugs waving US Flags try to Apprehend London's Muslim Mayor
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/14/2018 at 9:01 am

      I don't think there is incipient fascism in the UK. Surely the manner in which The Mayor, guards and police, and audience for that matter, handled the incident puts that fear to rest? There has to be room for a few people like that in a healthy society.

  • Did Trump just Paint a target on backs of US Diplomats & Businessmen?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 01/13/2018 at 10:51 am

      Diplomacy is a cerebral activity like chess or poker. A necessary attribute is always to avoid showing any genuine emotion. Trump does not have that ability but just says what he feels at the moment. There is no filter between his feelings and their expression. Since emotions are changeable, his utterances follow that pattern. What he said about immigrants is what he was feeling at the time. Many of those who voted for him probably instinctively feel the same, may even say it. But they are not in the public eye so what they say passes undocumented. Trump's main problem is less that he has such thoughts but that he can't police them. Someone who cannot police their thoughts and emotions may go down well in small community politics with issues that are local and immediate but is totally unsuited for foreign policy where it's like competing in a world poker game with your hand laid out on the table for all to see.

  • Nearly a year after Trump bombed Syria, al-Assad and Russia extend control
    • This tactic of total war, also used by the Saudis in Yemen and by the Israelis in Gaza, really must be fought by those hoping for a world of laws. The only basis for the establishment of a world of laws is the uniform acceptance of them and adherence to them. All of them. They are table d'hôte not à la carte. Defying any one of them invalidates the entire system. When the system is invalidated it leaves everyone to decide that their interests supersede the law . Israel and its supporters actually use this to justify it's defiance by arguing that it is being singled out while many states behave worse, a bit like saying: What's the point of cleaning the bathroom when the kitchen is such a mess.

  • Top 5 Signs Trump doesn't Actually Care about Iranian Protesters
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/31/2017 at 10:07 am

      Saying you care about things is a social mantra in much of the Western world, like 'our thoughts and prayers are with…' There's nothing wrong with that but it is rarely the expression of a state of sincere solicitude nor is it really expected to be, with politicians it's more likely to be political opportunism, like kissing babies.

  • No, Trump, you don't want more Climate change for Northeast
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/30/2017 at 4:43 am

      That man is so ignorant he doesn't even know he knows nothing, but might it not have been a lighthearted off the cuff? I said something similar yesterday when a 25 mph wind had been gusting sub zero hail down our narrow street for two days and nights non-stop.

  • Chess is Universal; Saudi Arabia isn't: Women's Boycott, Israeli Lawsuit
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/28/2017 at 6:59 am

      I once declined an invitation to a dinner with Golda Meir because I found the prospect unappealing. I would likely do the same in the hypothetical circumstance you postulate.

    • One covers one's head in a synagogue and takes off one's shoes in a mosque. To my mind respecting your host's dress and other codes and customs is simply good manners. It shouldn't make anyone feel a 'secondary creature'. Some western countries don't let women cover their faces. Such a one might well be a chess player and feel the same about playing in Paris. Her quarrel, if that's what it is, should surely be taken up with the chess authority that took the Saudi money and agreed the venue. She could tell them that, in her opinion, they ought only to agree to contests being held in countries that let competitors wear what they want, and go about doing as they like.

  • Nations of World at UN Humiliate Trump w/ Massive vote for Palestinians
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/23/2017 at 4:20 am

      By inviting all those who abstained or stayed away, Haley is claiming them as supporters which translates as 'any not against us are for us'. A preposterous piece of nonsense. Interesting to see how many send their regrets and plead prior engagements.

    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/22/2017 at 11:24 pm

      Abstaining or staying away are hardly expressions of support. It is not necessary to have opinions about everything. The nation's that failed to vote yes or no may simply not have had an interest in getting involved in the issue. The fact that it matters passionately to some does not mean it matters to everyone one way or the other.

  • Trump Nat'l Security Speech: Is he the real threat to National Security?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/19/2017 at 7:48 am

      Aside from misconceptions about terrorists, what is depressing is the absence of any interest in seeking cooperative solutions to myriad global issues. I don't believe Russia and China are threats to the US although I see they may be so to US empire ambitions, but those are unsustainable anyway. This Trump mindset is increasingly forcing other nations to look to tackling issues without the US, something they cannot really do since the space left where the US should be cannot otherwise be filled. The rest of the world can try, of course, but efforts lacking full global collaboration can lead to devastating unintended consequences. The real long term problem may be less what the US is doing, trampling all over the world, bad as that is, but what it is not doing.

  • The Mideast has a Militia Problem: Does Iraq's Ayatollah Sistani Have the Answer?
    • War is bestial because it kills compassion and that's what's left without it. What militias do when their primary task is over is an ancient problem. Only a citizen army raised for finite domestic purpose has the ability to dissolve back into the society from which it emerged. The Romans reflected this with their deity Janus who presided over the beginning and ending of conflict and whose temple doors were symbolically opened when men went to war, and closed when they returned home. In Europe, the Thirty Years war was one of the most brutal examples of the devastation foot-loose militia inflict. Something quite soulless happens to men in war. (vide the German novel Simplicius Simplicissimus link to We tend to obscure those truths by isolating examples and pinning them on individuals or specific groups. The prospect is almost more daunting than the war since it can lead to directionless chaos.

  • FCC begins restoring Corporate Privilege to the Internet
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/16/2017 at 9:52 am

      There will be many distinct forces urging moves like this. We see the ones that touch us most closely and that's natural but they are trees in a wood. There appears today to be a nisus urging us away from the bigger picture; tasks are broken down and operatives can function without knowing what final product they are engaged in making, science studies particles too small for the human eye or even mind, historians concentrate on elements so specialist only another specialist could read them; when these works began to dominate a well known University Publisher's list I imagined one day a vastly expensive study of Gender Ambiguity in Third Century Dacia. It seems somewhat less fanciful today. If we consider the three best known dystopian novels, Zamyatin’s We, Huxley's Brave New World, and Orwell's 1984, which are all set in futures when dystopia is firmly established, it may be salutary to think what it must have been like to live in the periods when it was still evolving, when enveloping darkness might still be dismissed as just a passing cloud.

  • Muslim Countries call for E. Jerusalem as Palestine Capital, reject US as Honest Broker
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/14/2017 at 10:15 am

      It must have been tough for Trump's predecessors to keep so firm a lid on Palestinian aspirations while appearing to be even handed, particularly in the face of the plethora of UN resolutions and simmering world opinion. The mantra that it was up to the Israelis and Palestinians to resolve their differences no longer has the slightest credibility, if it ever did. The proper arbitrator has always been the UN; no one else is qualified. Netanyahu knows this which is doubtless why he regards the UN as wickedly anti-Israel; he would probably like to accuse it of anti-Semitism but that might be a bridge too far even for him. Trump can't have the slightest intention of maintaining the status quo since it requires talents he doesn't possess. References to Putin the chess player might usefully be balanced by looking at Trump the golf player. Golf is an activity devoid of strategy. You don't even need another player, except to determine who's better, or settle a bet; each stroke is a challenge of its own and the only way to play it is as well as you can. The world is accustomed to diplomacy and unaccustomed to the conduct of international relations without it. However, Putin, Xi, Macron and so on have twigged, as has Kim Jong-Un, and the others are getting there. What this means if that others can increasingly take the initiatives where they used to defer to the US, and that may well apply to Palestine as well.
      Trump's niceness to Netanyahu and the Crown Prince could be in the manner of a Greek bearing gifts. His Administration, while happy to move the US embassy there does not actually acknowledge Jerusalem to be in Israel. link to (1st exchange with AP's Matt Lee.)

  • Exodus of Climate Scientists to France only the Beginning if GOP Guts Grad Education
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/12/2017 at 7:32 am

      France is an ideal place for a centre of climate research. There are countless universities to hand with centuries of mutual cooperation. Furthermore, France is not at war with anyone. France can readily welcome scientists from all over regardless of their religion or the colour of their skin. The implication that the US will be losing out suggests a competitive view of the issue which must be counter productive. It's the same with solar panels which logically should be sourced from wherever they are most economically available. I have no quarrel with the 'America first' mindset but it's no way to tackle global issues like climate change.

  • Why Aren't Americans Celebrating fall of ISIL State? It is a bogeyman
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/10/2017 at 3:30 pm

      Making a song and dance about the defeat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria might provoke the domestic expectation that the US can now pack up and leave which wouldn't do at all.

  • Massive worldwide Rallies Condemn US, Courtesy Trump Jerusalem Call
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/09/2017 at 9:38 am

      Over decades the principles that lay behind the establishment of the UN have either been abandoned or turned to variously meaningless mantra. They were supposed to provide security, and a consequent sense of security that would enable all peoples to live not just simply in an absence of war but in a state of positive peace and harmony. As soon as it was understood that some nations were prepared to ignore the resolutions and agreements that formed the physical structure of those otherwise abstract principles the sense of security began to erode and when they became selectively and blatantly flouted security itself gave way to lawless danger. The present fate of Jerusalem serves to expose the abandonment of those principles in favour precisely what they were designed to control and one day eliminate. What Trump's Jerusalem action means to many is not only a setback to negotiations over Palestine, or the fact that it flies in the face of UN Resolutions (181 and 472 specifically) but that any notion of practical world peace and harmony has been relegated back to a philosophical abstraction. If you have no sense of security you seek to look after yourself, your family, your community, your nation. I believe there are dots there that could be connected to illuminate resurgent nationalism, racism, and the sprouting weeds of fascism.

  • How Trump's Jerusalem Move Just Helped Iran Win the Mideast
    • Trump and Salman appear to live in a goldfish bowl. Extraordinary decisions are made without the slightest consideration given the world outside. It's as if the 1.8 billion Muslims are simply shadows on a cave wall along with most of the European public, and internationsl law and UN resolutions so much paper. It's a bit scary, the retribution such hubris invites

  • Another way Trump will get us Killed: to move US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
    • Medipart reports that Salman, Netanyahu, Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have been cooking up a deal to 'resolve' the Palestinian issue, and that while in Cairo negotiating the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas Abbas was invited to Riyadh to hear the great plan, proffered with stick and carrot; the offer of vast sums to establish the state and the corresponding threat of closure of the PLO Washington office, and worse to come.

      The offer itself is reported to have been along the lines:

      A Palestinian state composed of several fragments of the West Bank, with no territorial continuity, and limited Palestinian sovereignty in their own territory. The majority of the current settlements in the West Bank to remain in place, under Israeli control. Jerusalem becomes the capital of Israel but not of the scattered Palestinian state, which could be set up in Abu Dis, an agglomeration of eastern Jerusalem, but isolated from the city by the separation wall. Another provision of the plan: no right of return, even symbolic, for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

      Finally, Salman let it bem known that Mohammed Dahlan, Abbas's enemy whom he dreams of succeeding, had his exile in the United Arab Emirates to travel to Riyadh at the same time indicating to Abbas that the next generation is ready in case he is too stubborn.

      I have no idea if any of this is true but the writer, René Backmann, is a distinguished ME commentator. It does seem to explain various obscure manoeuvrings of late.

      link to

    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/06/2017 at 11:58 am

      Trump sure doesn't do things by half. Quite aside from whatever this action provokes immediately, the divergence between leaders and led is already a tinderbox in any number of areas where unless the leader's response is really serious the whole place could erupt, palaces crumble, and more US freedoms fade like cloudy dreams slipping from the eye. Might it unite the Islamic world, reduce Israel to some semblance of conformity with norms, and vindicate the long-suffering Palestinians. The Guardian yesterday reported that Gaddafi's son Saif is headed back to a political career and it could perhaps provide him a tide to ride. link to

  • German Poll: Trump a bigger Challenge than N. Korea, Russia or Syria
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/05/2017 at 11:23 am

      It's no surprise Germans think France important to them, they have since Bismark, that's why they have tried to grab it periodically. I wonder what would be the response to the same question asked of the French. The US itself would have a place on most nations' list of concerns with or without Trump. Aside from all the military activity, Americans are largely oblivious to the economic implications to Europe, particularly Germany, of their liberal distribution of sanctions, specifically with Russia and post-JCPOA Iran. Germany is to be the end-point for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline across the Baltic Sea planned to deliver 55 billion cubic metres of gas a year to Europe, and US expressed fears of it dangerously harming the economy of Ukraine and over increasing Europe's dependence on Russia for energy cut little ice since the alternative is to bring the stuff across the Atlantic in tankers. I suspect Trump is focusing a degree of per-existing unease. Previous Presidents were able to employ sleight of tongue to obscure such commercial intentions, Trump doesn't even bother.

  • Trump 'Working Visit' to Britain has to be Cancelled after he outrages all 65 million Britons
    • Nicholas Wibberley 12/01/2017 at 6:43 am

      I imagine the British Ambassador, Darroch, whose academic qualifications appear to be limited to a BSc in Zoology, will have been pivotal. May should never have delivered the invitation in the first place, although he must have been in on that as well. I can see the pair of them now scrambling to unravel the consequences of their opportunistic enthusiasm. No style, these people.

  • Trump tries to undo FDR's rescue of UK from Fascism
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/30/2017 at 8:19 pm

      You can trace Christian/Muslim antipathy back to the end of the 11th century with the capture of Jerusalem by a bunch of bloodthirsty Catholic knights stirred to religious frenzy that left the streets ankle deep in Muslim blood. It has ebbed and flowed ever since, and remains not that far from the surface today although it's roots lie in that distant and largely unstudied past. Ignorance is easily stirred for ulterior motive.

  • British Royal Family was already Multicultural, Descended from Muhammad
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/28/2017 at 10:33 am

      It seems pretty obvious that she (Princess Diana) deliberately explored multicultural romantic relationships in part as a rebellion against a Buckingham palace. I think that perception might be revisited. The British simply do not have that attitude and the notion that Diana would go out of out of her way to embarrass her sons' fond grandparents is out of character of anyone caught up in that tortured stage in the transition between two eras. The Royal family evolves through time like everything else, but behind the tide of change not in it's forefront. An Egyptian was not a 'coloured person', simply an Egyptian. If there was anything controversial about Dodi Fayed in the minds of some diehards of the old school, it was his class. His father was a shopkeeper and the fact that he owned Harrods was simply not enough.

  • The Saudi-US war on Yemen is killing 130 Children a Day & Other Bleak Statistics
    • There is, alas, nothing we can do about it. There is no authority to compel adherence to humanitarian ideals. The UN might have been but it was born in the misguided euphoria of 1945 when all believed that following the horrors of WWII the world would have had enough of war, the persecuted people of Israel would build a shining example of what a nation should be in the forthcoming era of peace and brotherhood, and many other such Utopian dreams. The UN was to to promote international cooperation and to create and maintain international order. It was given no teeth, Why would it need them? Now the dreams have turned to dust and it badly needs them those who could provide them will never do so being fearful that they will turn and bite them or their friends. Congress has even threatened to close the PLO's Washington office unless:

      ...the Palestinians have officially ceased to be members of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and have withdrawn from the Rome Statute; any preliminary examination or ongoing investigation against Israel, the Government of Israel, the Israeli Armed or Security Forces, or any Israel national initiated by, or on behalf of, the Palestinians, or referred to the ICC by a state party, the United Nations Security Council, or a Pre-Trial Chamber has been withdrawn and terminated…

      link to

      What chance for starving Yemeni children in such a world?

  • World, horrified at Trump, sends US Ranking Plummeting
  • Nasrullah: Saudi has declared war on Lebanon
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/12/2017 at 3:28 pm

      Whatever it's longer term purpose, this stage looks like an attempt to humiliate Hariri, his family, and Lebanon, while running roughshod over basic diplomatic convention. He must feel he's got someone covering his back

    • Hariri has dual nationality and the report says he is being questioned as a Saudi and that the questioning is in connection with the bankruptcy of the family building business which went under for over 4 billion. Bankruptcy is apparently a very serious offense in Saudi Arabia, carrying a substantial prison sentence. That could explain his apparent docility. Meanwhile just to make the mix richer it further appears he and the other victims of the prince's coup have been offered political asylum by the Houthis no less link to

    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/11/2017 at 9:34 am

      This whole business appears much deeper than the media portrays. The generation of Saudis under 30 is highly educated, and MbS is apparently persuaded that Saudi youth is no longer motivated by religion but by nationalism or personal or professional development. Bernard Haykrel, director of Near East Studies at Princeton, is quoted saying that from this perspective, Sunni Islam becomes an ideology of rallying behind the leadership of the Crown Prince, and his anti-corruption moves are popular, particularly as it seems the late king's family, including those arrested in the recent coup, anticipating his demise, filched US$ 100 billion from the State Treasury which the Crown Prince understandably and publically wants back. If this is a solid assessment it gives him a good deal more leverage than his actions might otherwise be assumed to have and he doesn't appear ro be risk averse. Netanyahu may be toyingwith fire. link to

  • Trump only president not invited to Paris Climate Summit
    • I have long thought the key to this whole state of affairs lies in the simple fact that Trump ran for president as an end in itself. That is he didn't expect to win and didn't even want to. He would have gained a helluva lot by just having been a candidate, and all his existing and future business interests would have benefited. It would explain his cosying up to Putin since he wasn't going to win anyway. He has just announced in China that he didn't know there were.that many countries until he got so many calls congratulating him. To him the whole thing was a great big reality show until all the ballyhoo was over and it was suddenly real. If some way could be found to get off the rollercoaster he might take it.

    • Trump's position is totally irresponsible. Not simply for what may be agreed among leaders but for the rejection of global solidarity his attitude demonstrates. No that long ago the US would have been leading and facilitating climate efforts. As it is there is also the potential to impede a more important element which is grassroots efforts. Guidance or insistence from above is one thing but a broad change of attitude is necessary. The West particularly needs to reintroduce erstwhile automatic, almost instinctive, notions of economy across the board. Dealing with fossil fuel is only one aspect which, dealt with in isolation, may encourage people who have, say, solar panels and and EV vehicles to think that's enough. It won't be. The destruction we are wrecking on the planet and its ecosystem is infinitely more extensive. For the US, with its vast authority and technical resources to stand aside is, well. irresponsible is too kind a word.

  • Saudi Official views Lebanon as "at war with us"
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/07/2017 at 6:25 am

      The US and Russia are having a face off in that area. bin Salman and Bibi are getting boisterous in a space between. It will all end in tears. I can still hear my mother saying.

  • Saudi Saturday Night Massacre: Billionaire Bin Talal, dozens of others Arrested
    • If you want to achieve what Putin and the Crown Prince want it's quite the best way. It was the advice Thrasybulus sent Periander seven centuries BCE and his been dutifully and regularly followed ever since, and it wasn't new then. Classic ploy.

  • Iran's Khamenei to Putin: Isolate US by dumping the Dollar
    • And US sanctions will be like excommunicating atheists.

    • A number of nations are looking at ways to minimise their dollar dependence. Many feel the US benefits unduly from the present situation. Behind all else there appears a disturbing element of irresponsibility in the management of the US$, given its role in global affairs. Then the US is seen overtly to employ the dollar as a weapon in the advancement of its own political interests. This inevitably makes others look to ways around it. Mutual currency trade between Iran and Russia is one local manifestation, but China's Yuan stands the best chance of puncturing the US$ monopoly. China is apparently likely shortly to launch an oil futures market in Shanghai link to This may well have been on the agenda when the Saudi King visited Putin recently. From another direction there are the negative effects sanctions have on European, particularly German, trade with Russia. The same applies to European trade with Iran if Congress reimposes more serious restrictions. Unless the US, perhaps its next IMF head, takes serious account of what is happening it may become too late.

      A currency has to have some collateral, blind optimism is not enough, and although I am not qualified to join the dots, I feel the US dollar somehow uses our environment and its resources for that purpose and is burning them up. It is salutary to go back to the first verses of Genesis and wonder if we are not in some entropic fashion reversing our world to that state when, ...the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

  • Dear Sean Hannity: Allahu Akbar is in the Catholic Catechism
    • Nicholas Wibberley 11/02/2017 at 11:43 am

      Even were this man sat down and read your limpid clarification it would make no difference. Such as Hannity are not interested in facts. If you want facts go to Wikipedia. Nor is his audience interested in them, facts are yawnsome. They want snippets to ooh and ah at, to comfort their prejudices; what used to be passed across a garden fence or whispered in more decorous environments, good old gossip. It doesn't matter that it's false, it's detached from exactitude, it performs a purely emotional function, and it to try to counter it with reason is like arguing with a piece of furniture. We here can enjoy and benefit from your offering but it's wasted on him.

  • Upshot of Mueller Probe: Putin did to US what we did to Iran and Iraq
    • I am baffled in what way this is 'wrong'. Legally? Morally? According to some Convention? Interference in other nation's affairs is as old as nations. It used to be just.pamphlets and giving support to rebels. As a practice it seems simply to have kept pace with technology. Obviously it is unsatisfactory for the subject nation, perhaps their should be a UN resolution prohibiting it? No one can seriously imagine sanctions and closing diplomatic facilities will stop it. The.political integrity of the electors, however, should be capable of ignoring it.

  • Barzani gambled it all and Lost-- Kurdistan Pres. ending Career
    • I wonder how Iraqi's generally view Kurdish people. Many southern Spanish have no time for Catalans. I had once to make a report of a robbery to the police north of Barcelona and when I took the document to my local police in Andalusia, the officer took one look at it, made a disparaging 'humph' sound, and muttered, Catalan, in a more than somewhat dismissive tone. If a group is looked down on by the majority it will encourage solidarity and notions of independence in a way brotherly attitudes wouldn't.

  • Continued Conflict: Iraqi PM rejects Kurdish offer, insists Referendum be Annulled
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/27/2017 at 7:33 pm

      ‌Catalonia is another region seeking to preserve its identity in an homogenising environment. Many simplify the motives as economic but they are primarily cultural.

    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/27/2017 at 7:56 am

      The the urge several regions are manifesting towards independence could be another consequence of the wide variety of effects we lump together under name of globalisation. Globalisation is, among other things, a force to standardise human beings, their wants, behaviour, even thoughts, and corral them to a conformity disturbing to many. Human beings as a species can be seen as divided between those who admire and respect individualism and those who favour cooperation. It is an essential difference between Left and Right everywhere. 'I' prefer to make my own decisions, 'We' prefer to make them together; the solitary bumble bee and the hive of the honey bee. The Past belonged predominantly to the individual, one sees that in the way history was written, but the Future more than probably belongs to the cooperative, dystopian literature uniformly looks to it. Any current acceleration may have something to do with massive population growth since the middle of the 20th century, but there is also the entropic tendency for all matter and energy to evolve toward uniformity, and that has to include not only our species but our political institutions. Much of the world seems close to what might be seen as a 21st century version of anarchy, something consistent with the rise of totalitarianism and the consolidation of authoritarian regimes, a consolidation which, being essentially counter anarchic, and our reluctance to admit it notwithstanding, is not altogether unappealing to many, vide Putin's domestic popularity rating of well over 80%. What is ignored in the quasi-ideological Western notion of what the world should be like is the simple fact that most people just want to be able to live their lives out. They don't want war, they want to grow up, marry, send their children to school. Students want to go to universities, to travel, to build decent lives in security and peace, and if that means living with a few political compromises, tant pis.

  • Tillerson tells Iraqi Shiite Militias to "go home." Sad.
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/23/2017 at 4:07 am

      According to Rudaw he appended a further interpolation to the effect that "All foreign fighters need to go home." link to Amen to that.

      I fear thou wilt not reach the Ka’bah  Because the road on which thou travellest leads to Turkestan. Sa'di

  • No, Trump, British Crime isn't going up because of Muslims
    • It wouldn't be the Queen's decision. May is justifiably nervous of the massive demonstrations his visit will provoke and what might happen as he is riding down over half a mile of the Mall in a carriage

    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/22/2017 at 7:06 am

      Such statistics can be found all over the Western world. It is possible to relate it to poverty but behind that lie grotesque inequalities totally devoid of compassion. The exercise of compassion is a more than moral obligation in many religions where it's a path to salvation, pursued or not under an all seeing eye. The usurpation of compassion by the state and its conversion into law and bureaucratic administration under the guise of equality is a source of much social distress and disorder. At a deeper level this may be one reason the West is so antipathetic to Islam. It is no solution, as one sees with Trump, but anti-establishment sentiment is virulent. In fact another billionaire with a populist message, Andrej Babis, has just been elected to lead Czechoslovakia. These responses are not 'pro' anything, the are determinedly 'anti'. We appear, alas, to have created a sick world, and many things we bemoan are its symptoms.

  • ISIL was ended not by Trump or Obama but by Muslims
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/18/2017 at 6:06 am

      It's an ancient tradition. Non-combatant Roman Emperors would take credit for military successes anywhere in the Empire, even award themselves triumphs. The notion was that since it all happened under their auspices, and they appointed the commanders who fought under imperial eagles, all successes were theirs. Only failure was considered the work of subordinates. It is the Iraqi army that ran away but Trump clears Raqqa. Plus ça change.

  • No, It Wasn't Iran: Top 7 Reasons Baghdad took Kirkuk
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/17/2017 at 6:23 am

      Trump says he will stay out of the clash. Many consider that a bad move, inconsistent with US broader purposes. However, it is consistent with his intention expressed on the campaign trail, an intention most of the world, and I imagine many US citizens, viewed with welcome, if doubting, expectation.

  • Elbaradei: Trump Propaganda on Iran Nuclear Deal like Run-up to Iraq War
    • Trump's maneuverings are not really surprising. Iran's nuclear activities were never really the issue. Europeans, particularly UK, France, Germany, sought to reignite trade with Iran, and putting a damper on the nuclear problem would lift the sanctions that closed those opportunities. Obama wanted to avoid being dragged into a war by Israel which was, or pretended to be, hovering on the brink of attacking Iran.* Quite separately from all that the US wanted regime change in Syria and had been initiating trouble there since 2009 (link to ). Unfortunately for them the whole thing got so out of hand Russia intervened, Iran and Hezbollah put boots on the ground and the tide turned. This hasn't affected European trade ambitions with Iran but it worries Israel deeply and further threatens US authority in the area. All Trump is doing is take the veil off real US motives behind the JCPOA and try to get Iran back in a box.

      *It's notable that the finesse Obama played on Netanyahu with the nuclear agreement was the same Putin played on him by decommissioning Assad's chemical arsenal.

  • Germany: Immediate Danger of Mideast War if Trump dumps Iran Deal
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/13/2017 at 9:06 am

      Since I penned the above, he appears to have decided to let the AIPAC fox into the Congressional hen house and wash his hands of the whole business.

    • "die unmittelbare Gefahr eines neuen Krieges" etwa mit Israel zurück.

      Israel is where he sees danger looming if Trump/Congress diss the treaty, something Obama was at considerable pains to avoid. As for the wedge in the US/Europe alliance, it was already apparent in Obama's time, the sanctions simply cost Europe too much to be sustainable indefinitely, particularly as they don't work.

      Trump puts me in mind of the renunciation scene in Richard II, Now mark me how I will undo myself...

  • Trump and the Faustian Bargain of Corker and the GOP
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/11/2017 at 4:42 am

      Do you absolve all else? Or is the GOP but the tongue that seals the pact: Ay, take it, and the devil give thee good on't.

    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/10/2017 at 7:28 am

      The whole thing is preposterously childish. If you are going to throw insults around do so with some wit, it takes the childishness out of it and stings more. Churchill memorably described Attlee as a 'sheep in sheep's clothing'. Another UK one I still recall is Dennis Healey commenting on a run in with Kenneth Clark as 'like being savaged by a dead sheep'. Such insults are redolent of a duel, Corker's a brawl. Why does this matter? Because something with wit would raise a smile with leaders like Macron or Putin (I am not sure May has any smiles in her reticule), whereas Corker's Care Home comment likely produces a head shaking sigh which does US prestige no good. It's one thing to have to contend with Trump but if his opposition is so little different, that becomes another matter.

  • Former US Allies peeling off under Trump: Turkey halts US Visas
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/09/2017 at 7:22 pm

      The other aspect of this is Turkey's geographic position which makes it possible to exploit conflict between the US and Russia. Britain will be able to do that too when she's shot of the constraints of the EU.

    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/09/2017 at 4:52 am

      International law frowns on arresting embassy employees. Breaking into embassy property would be frowned upon as well. Turkey has alternative 'allies', I don't imagine Erdogan takes the prospect of losing US tourists that seriously, and no doubt a word in the right ear can provide visa exceptions for useful business entities. These things are childish and simply shouldn't get that far but when you eviscerate your Department of State they do become more likely. We can probably expect more of them.

  • Plummeting in Polls, will Trump 'Wag the Dog' with Iran, N. Korea?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/07/2017 at 10:56 am

      As far as Iran is concerned what Trump has indicated is that he may not certify Iran's adherence to the JCPOA. Such certification is not part of the deal itself, it's an entirely US domestic requirement foisted on Obama by Congress, and Trump declining to do so would be being disrespectful to Congress since Iran's adherence has been reliably confirmed by everyone else. Failing to certify would have no immediate effect on the deal. What he would have to do is renounce it, and presumably reinstate the sanctions lifted in consequence of it's progressive implementation by Iran. That would have to pass through Congress and could indeed be done but not automatically as a result of Trump failing to certify Iran's adherence. The other signatories, including Iran, might well decide to adhere to it, in which case their task would be to find ways in which to protect their commercial entities from the the effects of US punitive actions. Considering that would be the UK, France, China, Russia, Germany, the EU itself, all the members of the G77, and probably everyone else bar Israel and a handful of ME depots, that would involve one hell of a face off and saner voices might prevail.

      North Korea is another matter. Attacking Pyongyang is something, I understand, he could initiate off his own bat. Several 'experts' have postulated various scenarios consequent on such an act and none of them is in any way appealing. He wouldn't even earn a place in history because there likely wouldn't be anyone around to write it.

  • Was Ayatollah Khamenei right about Washington? Trump Reneges
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/06/2017 at 7:07 am

      Khamenei has simple wisdom but no special insight, reneging on treaties is as old as treaties. One would go dizzy following the changing partners in European treaties over the years. Nations abandon the Geneva convention and anything else they've agreed as it suits their interests. The JCPOA suited the parties at the time. It still suits all the signatories bar the US under Trump. One can be objective and determine that it does actually suit the US, but that assumes US objectives overlap those of the other nations. But they don't. I don't believe Obama was that concerned about Iranian WMD potential as such, rather he was anxious to avoid military conflict with Iran, something that Israel was chafing the bit to begin. The others were motivated by commerce. Of course one can gild such motives with any amount of idealism but that flies out the window if the motives shift. Khamenei is simply being realistic. Trump's view of the US in the world is 19th century gun boat stuff but the world has moved on since. The British Empire grew in something of a vacuum, as did the US Empire in it's early stages, but that vacuum no longer exists, in large part, oddly enough, because of the political, scientific, commercial, and cultural contributions the US itself has introduced to Mankind. Don't trust anyone, better just keep a sharp eye on their underlying motives.

  • Top 5 signs Donald Trump might be an effing moron
    • Nicholas Wibberley 10/05/2017 at 9:07 am

      Such a thing is an outburst, a moment of unfiltered irritation. We are all subject to such moments and they can linger to haunt us. This is surely an occasion where a calming denial is infinitely preferable to an affirmation creating incalculable mayhem. After all, even Trump doesn't exist simply to feed the media caviar.

  • Kurdish Independence: SecState Tillerson opposes, Sen Schumer Supports
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/30/2017 at 10:27 am

      The United States urges Iraqi Kurdish leaders to accept the alternative, which is a serious and sustained dialogue with the central government, facilitated by the United States and United Nations, and other partners, on all matters of concern, including the future of the Baghdad-Erbil relationship.

      Come into my parlour said the spider to the fly. The Palestinians have been caught in that dark web for decades. Unfortunate as it may be, the US no longer has much credibility as a mediator. I am unaware of a single such issue the US has mediated successfully. Barzani acted precipitously but now so is the Baghdad government, denying airspace and cutting off food and fuel exports cannot be helpful.
      However, until some practical move is made to implement the referendum result, it is only an indication of how Kurdish people feel, and probably not much of a surprise to anyone. I may be mistaken but I sense the hand of Tel Aviv in Barzani's timing and the consequent volatility.
      By the way, there is a very impressive three-parter on the background to all this in IRIN news link to

  • Iraqi Kurdistan defiant in face of Baghdad sanctions, threats
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/30/2017 at 10:15 pm

      The major dystopian novels, We, Brave New World, 1984 all posit worlds in which the masses are constrained in bleak uniformity. It may be inevitable but those of us who resist such a future can still be heard.

    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/30/2017 at 4:11 am

      Too true! And it includes the freedom to make your own 'mistakes'.

    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/29/2017 at 12:47 pm

      I don't see how the result of a referendum can be 'abrogated' since it has happened. It disclosed the wishes of the people who voted. Barzani said that “the referendum did not have to be implemented on the second day.” Even if it is never implemented the referendum result stands. Baghdad cannot make it go away any more than yesterday's sunrise. It may not have been the best time to hold a referendum and some Kurds voiced that opinion. However, the world now knows exactly how most of them feel about independence which is progress on it's own. Baghdad must surely have guessed what the result would be but wanted to keep the lid on it. That is doubtless why they are so pissed off, just like Netanyahu with Palestine joining Interpol. What the eye cannot see the heart cannot grieve over.

  • Iraq strikes Back: Kurds under air travel ban, Turkey blocks Oil
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/28/2017 at 9:57 pm

      The interviewees I mentioned also wanted independence but thought the timing was not right for a referendum. There was no way to express that.

    • I understand the actual wording of the referendum was: Do you want the Kurdistan Region and the Kurdistani areas outside the administration of the Region to become an independent state? . It's like one of those frustrating drop down menus where none of the options is what you actually want. A 92% 'yes' vote does not necessarily mean 'now, this minute'. I have seen interviews with mostly rural but also other Kurds who appeared to feel strongly that this was simply not the right time. I imagine most people, Kurdish or not, would agree with that. It would be much better, surely, for Baghdad to acknowledge the result as an issue to de dealt with later and kick the can. This is a problem we have in the world today, there's no one to calm these face off situations. Perhaps Putin will have to step in.

  • "Those People:" Trump plays to White nat'lism from N. Korea to NFL
    • His actions viz a viz Kim Jong un and now 'those people' surely indicate a seriously disturbed mind, perhaps not surprising for someone in such a position finding himself in disagreement with the entire world bar Israel, a handful of ME despots, and a domestic minority within a minority. Even his family must be worried. He's dangerous. He really shouldn't be left in the presidency. Can he not be hospitalised as incapacitated and someone appointed to administer in his place until he is deemed to have recovered.

  • Failing dam in Puerto Rico, endangering 70,000, a reminder that Climate Denialism Kills
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/23/2017 at 7:17 am

      It needs be remembered that these major, media hitting events with their death tolls, swathes of damage, and massive exoduses are peak manifestations of an inexorable process, evolving 24/7 and now affecting all life on Earth, and should not be regarded as one off; earlier and later summers some places, stronger hurricanes, changing aquatic patterns, depleting aquifers, higher sea levels, less snow; some not that harmful in isolation but all cumulatively portending a bleak future for which we should be preparing. Moving off fossil fuel is not enough; socio-logistical preparations need to be made or anarchy followed by dystopia will be our future. We are fiddling while the embers glow brighter by the day.

  • Iranian Leader: Trump is "Disturbed," speaks like a Cowboy or Mobster
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/22/2017 at 11:50 am

      All but single-handed Trump has rehabilitated Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran from the isolation ward wherein successive US policy makers have been confining them.

      Trump’s tough talk and sophomoric antics may have had the opposite effect of what he intended, however. Across the board, the world’s other major powers, most of America’s closest allies, and the vast majority of governments at the United Nations this week made clear that they favor the [JCPOA] deal. They are siding with Iran this time.

      link to

      Just like Obama with his 'end of the queue' threat before the Brexit vote, creating enough of a Who the hell does he think he is. Up his! reaction to swing the result from stay to leave.
      As I have commented before, it's the Looking Glass world.

  • The Anti-Bouazizi: Did Russia try to 'flash mob' a Trump Victory?
    • It's a contentious business but the whole process of pre-election campaigning is an exercise in influencing voters. One might counter that by pointing out that most of it is, or should be, local, domestic influence. But is Israeli influence in US elections local? Clearly not, but no one claims it invalidates electoral results. The Presidency of the US is not simply a local matter, the choice directly affects most people on Earth. Is it not understandable that nations would seek to influence, as far as their abilities extend, the outcome of any election anywhere the result of which affects them or their ideology? If one were to invalidate elections upon evidence of external influence there would scarcely be any governments left and democracy would become a completely abstract concept. Perhaps it is. I don't imagine there's a UN resolution against seeking to influence another nation's elections and one can be pretty sure the US would veto it were one ever proposed. et prout vultis ut facient vobis homines...etc. Luke 6:31. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

  • Trump blasts Iran for backing Syria, ignores Russia, Praises Saudis
    • Again we see President Trump driving US allies into practical accord and potential cooperation with Putin/Xi. link to Much more like this and he'll end up on a desert island with Netanyahu as Man Friday.

  • Russia rebuffs Israeli demand for 40 mi. Buffer with Iran in Syria (Haaretz)
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/15/2017 at 12:28 pm

      Add Netanyahu's current legal vulnerability to the mix and one might begin to detect the germination of a resolution to the Palestinian issue.

  • Rice Vindicated: She did Unmask Trump, Bannon-- but they were meeting UAE
    • It wasn't intended a value judgement, but the absence of a coherent US foreign policy is giving rise to irreversible changes in the background to these events; complex political arbitration, trading agreements settled in gold and yuan, plans for transcontinental economic connectivity, some with an empty US chair, others without the US altogether.

    • While all this quasi-prurient tracking of the political past occupies the pages, Russia and China are consolidating themselves in distant areas seemingly abandoned by Trump's two dimensional foreign policy. They are close to devising plans to sort Syria and deal with the DPRK. Meanwhile Israel is hopping about like a cat on the proverbial roof. I wonder how long Tillerson will be able to take it before retiring to the sanity of home and family.

  • What will Iran do if Trump tears up the Nuclear Agreement?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/12/2017 at 11:30 am

      Iran would have nothing to gain by reneging on the JCPOA whatever Trump does, whereas sticking with it they gain international respect, and trite though it may seem they make Netanyahu look like he's been crying, Wolf, something he could well do without right now. Poor man must feel dark forces moving in on him; Assad looks like surviving, Iran is in Syria, and Hezbollah has been gaining valuable live military training in Syria's deserts, mountains and cities. Meanwhile back on the farm the slow tumbrel of Israeli justice can be heard approaching. There's no one to help, his nukes are no use, Trump won't get involved, Putin shrugs his shoulders, and there's only the Saudi princeling who will vanish like a Cheshire cat, not even leaving a smile behind. If Netanyahu falls, the kaleidoscope will be well shaken, no one can bestride the world for Israel and its settlers quite as he does, everything will be turned upside down.

  • On 9/11: How we slighted the real Threat, Climate Change, and Hyped Terrorism
    • It's not that simple to make long-term decisions in a political environment such as the US enjoys where the leaders need periodic majority votes to acquire and retain office. It is far easier to tap into a response to something that has occurred like 9/11 than to something that may, particularly if the recommended response calls for serious lifestyle change, costs present money, and is opposed by powerful lobbies. Putin could get away with it, so could Xi because they have those extra miles of authority and anyway are able to silence opposition in a manner US citizens find distasteful. US leaders are judged less by what they may be seen to have achieved in years to come than by how they respond to what life throws at them now.

      Hurricane Harvey was a revelatory moment in the early presidency of Donald J. Trump. We got a glimpse of Trump without the cultural politics: Trump as he could be. As Hurricane Irma approaches, Congress returns and North Korea shakes its nuclear fist -- this is the Trump the world needs. Competent and disciplined.

      link to

      Americans are not on the whole a patient people.

  • Gov. Rick Scott enabled Irma's Fury through Climate Denialism & Should Resign
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/10/2017 at 7:41 am

      Governor Scott's attitude however is not uncommon, it is in fact a consequence of generally accepted liberal capitalism which not only has no respect for the earth, land, seas, air, life, or any part of her including most of humanity, but regards it all as some kind of limitless asset with WASPs the divinely appointed asset strippers. Of course it's sensible to be conscious of carbon in the atmosphere and attempt to lessen it but even that arises from an innate confidence that Nature may still be brought under some control, by Mankind. No wonder the world's 'most powerful man' has established himself the other side of the looking glass, it's where much of humanity has already migrated. Look at the branch above you head, said the Gnat, and there you will see a snap-dragon-fly. Its body is made of plumb-pudding, its wings are holly leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy. It's a world, you recall, where if you wish to advance to a particular destination, you do so by walking in the opposite direction, just like you stop wars by pouring soldiers and weapons into them.

  • What are American Soldiers really still dying for in the Mideast?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/09/2017 at 8:02 am

      There is some strange compulsion controlling much US foreign policy, it's like a child scratching the crust on a healing wound. Don't do it, you say, You will only make it worse. But they do it anyway.

  • Are Muslims allowed to be Sympathetic Victims in US Media, or only Perpetrators?
    • Nicholas Wibberley 09/03/2017 at 6:38 am

      The US public's interest in the Rohingya has not been aroused nor would it suit media to rouse it since it wouldn't increase ratings or put on readers. Once US media was indeed a proud source of world news but today it has abrogated that role and become entertainment, providing glib, two dimensional 24/7 low key emotional pornography. But can one blame the media when US leaders have no interest in the fate of persecuted Arab minorities? Tillerson isn't raising these issues, they might become newsworthy if he did. To a large extent this is a US issue, the world's global police. Just taking the Rohingya, look at Le Monde link to or Die Welt link to or the Swedish Aftonbladet link to One could go on forever.

  • The Criminals who amplified Harvey: Trump & Cabinet must Resign
    • While all criticism of Trump is obviously justified, I am beginning to suspect that his unpreparedness and general ineptitude in the role of President derives from the fact that he never thought, or even wanted, to win. It seems to me that for entirely business purposes what he wanted was to be, and later to have been, a candidate, to benefit from the pre-election publicity and bask in the post-election stature of having been a presidential candidate. There's a character in Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana who still has a certain respect for having once been such a candidate. This would explain a great deal. The whole thing was a mistake, a gamble against impossible odds that he supposed not to win but did. Doesn't such a scenario join more dots than any other?

  • Is Israel's Netanyahu preparing for War on Iranian Special Ops in Syria?
    • Netanyahu may sense his days are numbered, his cries of victimisation falling increasingly on the ears of those too young to have been chilled by the events of WWII and for whom they have faded into the historical past to rank lower than Hiroshima as a salutary warning for today. Only a few years ago people lost their jobs in academia for suggesting Israel's aggressive absorption of Palestine might provoke anti-Semitism. I never really saw such a connection because I don't believe racists think in causal ways. However, what it has done is overshadow the pathos of victimisation. Netanyahu has surfed this transformation with astonishing dexterity but the old evocations of Western guilt have worn thin and need a lot of gaudy make up and dim light to achieve the same impact today, whereas regular images of Gazan suffering, and occasional heart lifting stories of achievements against all odds are close enough to touch. Palestinians now rank high among the world's more poignant victims and Israel with its IDF and demonic settlers among the oppressors. Although the White House now denies it, Kushner reportedly told Abbas the other day that stopping settlement construction was Impossible as it would topple Netanyahu. link to . Whether the report was true or not, the notion is now out there and providing an opportunity to bypass the quick sands of anti-Semitism and unleash sympathy for Palestinians by focusing blame on Netanyahu and his politics. He is also facing what promises to be an untidy day or two in court link to Call for the Iranian bogeyman!

  • Iraq: Trump slams Iran, but Iran-backed Militias are key to taking Talafar from ISIL
    • Nicholas Wibberley 08/28/2017 at 9:36 am

      I defer, but I'd sooner have Assad in the house than his neighbour Netanyahu.

    • Supermarkets and other such places play music selected to encourage customers to buy. Trump is much the same, slamming Iran makes his supporters feel on familiar ground. Demonising Assad used to have a like effect, his name never mentioned without a prefix like 'butcher' or suffix referencing 'gassing his own people'. He is somewhat off the hook now since years of huffing and puffing failed to blow his house down, but Iran plays just as well. Trump's utterances are rarely designed to convey real information, their purpose is to provoke feelings in his base, essentially those that cast a glow on him, letting his supporters go back to sleep feeling all's well with the world.

  • Kushner tells Abbas Israeli Squatter Expansion can't be stopped b/c Netanyahu Gov't would Fall
    • Nicholas Wibberley 08/28/2017 at 9:24 am

      So, it's only the continuance of the Netanyahu government that's holding things up. One might have suspected that but it's nice to have it confirmed from so elevated a source. Regime change anyone?

  • Trump Exploits Harvey Victims in Stealth Pardon of Arpaio
    • Nicholas Wibberley 08/28/2017 at 5:03 pm

      Let's be fair, it was the guy above who implied the US is evil by insisting that it is not uniquely so. I simply wrote that I don't believe it. Nations being evil is not a concept I entertain, in fact 'evil' is not a word I would employ outside some demonic context. It is true that I think a more coherent relationship between Europeans and Russians would benefit both, and piping Russian gas better by far than fracking fragile American surfaces at incalculable environmental cost to ship it across the Atlantic. But then, we live in a world where South African oranges are sold here in Southern Spain as is Californian celery, a water demanding crop of minimal nutritional value.

    • I don't believe the US is evil. I believe its stranglehold on Europe and its confrontational approach to the rest of the world is unhelpful to put it mildly. To the extent that Trump's exercise of his office encourages others to question their automatic adherence to the US view of the world, opportunities arise for a more cooperative approach to the formidable problems ahead. What happens within the US is its own business

    • The effect of Trump's presidency on the balance of global authority is interesting. It is realigning a whole number of international relationships that have remained largely unchanged since WWII . This is not a bad thing, in fact it could bode well for many of the serious problems our race and planet face, His behaviour and general demeanor together with the uninhibited media and social response are provoking make it unlikely any future US President will be able to turn the clock back. Other countries will simply have seen too much. It may not justify it to the liberal minded but one can see why some leaders muzzle their media.

  • Germany's Merkel: A Selfish & Isolationist America isn't "Great Again"
    • Nicholas Wibberley 08/24/2017 at 7:45 am

      As the clip demonstrates the positions of Merkel and Schulz are not that significant on most issues, more like two eyeing the same seat on a moving train. There is, however, a hint of something else, Germany's relation to the US. Merkel disassociates herself from Trump's position on a number of issues as clearly as the diplomatic demands of her position allow whereas Schulz specifically talks of removing all nuclear weapons from German soil. The upper limit for nuclear weapons in our country must be 0. He also says he would resist demands to raise NATO defence spending. Although their positions are far from anti-American, they both hint at a novel degree of independence from the US, and since this is a political campaign one must assume it betokens meaningful electoral support.

  • Trump Pledged to Carpet Bomb ISIL, but Little Lebanon is Taking them On

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