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Nicholas Wibberley

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  • 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 voltairenet.org

    • 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 mediapart.fr

  • 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 rt.com. 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 rudaw.net 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 nsnbc.me ). 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 irinnews.org

  • 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 newyorker.com

      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 yahoo.com 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 edition.cnn.com

      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 lemonde.fr or Die Welt link to welt.de or the Swedish Aftonbladet link to sok.aftonbladet.se 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 haaretz.com . 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 haaretz.com 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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