Archive for the ‘International’ Category
Hard to conceal for TV journalists their salivation for a good international scare story with plenty of potential victims served over a bed of untold but well-suggested horrors…
The WHO seems to add to the worries, even if the number of attributed dead is minimal. And with symptoms almost identical to common flu’s, the risk of misdiagnosis and inflation in the number of swine flu victims is enormous.
What if instead the swine flu outbreak is being used to “test out” the capabilities of the international community, or even as a show-off to prevent an attempt of biological terrorism?
James Grant is right in pointing out that one root of today’s financial troubles lies in the Nixon administration’s decision, on Aug. 15, 1971, “that the dollar would henceforth be convertible into nothing except small change” (“The buck stopped then“, IHT, Sep 25).
Really, there’s lots of disasters that can be directly linked to the fewer-than-usual days of Richard M. Nixon as President.
Abroad: the bombing of neutral Cambodia and Laos, resulting in 4 students dead at Kent State in Ohio, and the establishment of the genocidal Pol Pot regime; the threat to India with nuclear-powered USS Enterprise in 1971, resulting in India’s and subsequently Pakistan’s nuclear (bomb) programs; the approval of Pinochet’s bloody coup in Chile in 1973, with a dwindling support for US interests by Latin American governments ever since.
Domestically: the end of all human voyages beyond Earth orbit; the ballooning-up of the Federal Government with the establishment of a long list of Government Agencies; the abuse of Presidential powers with their following corrosion for more than a quarter of a century; the “culture wars” between Republicans and Democrats, all trying to despise each other most; Donald Rumsfeld; and of course the original declaration of the “war on drugs” that surely must have been the most inefficient endeavor ever taken by humanity.
Nixon’s Presidency started a little less than forty years ago. Its legacy, who knows when it will end?
It is disconcerting to read a knowledgeable and experienced person such as Thomas L Friedman fall in an old trap, claiming foreign policy morality for his own country (“Which world do you prefer?“, IHT, July 17).
Mr Friedman is apparently convinced that “America still has some moral backbone” because the USA “put forward a simple Security Council resolution” at the UN, calling for a series of sanctions against the quasi-dictatorial Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Such a move failed, however, due to “truly filthy” vetoes by Russia and China. For that matter, Mr Friedman throws in the “pure, rancid moral corruption” of South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki.
All hail the USA, then, because “there are travesties America will not tolerate“?
Doesn’t Mr Friedman know a thing about the US-backed regimes of Egypt and Pakistan, for example? Doesn’t he remember the scores of murderous dictatorships financed by successive US Administrations, on the horrendously immoral belief that it is ok to support a “bastard” as long as he was “our bastard“?
It is telling that a good response to Mr Friedman’s argument has been published in the very pages of the IHT, in the “Letter from China” by Howard W French of July 4, 2008 (“Behind the reluctance to criticize Mugabe“): where we learn for example how a mere twenty years ago, Washington (and London) were “running diplomatic interference for apartheid rule in Pretoria“, going as far as “backing South African guerrilla proxies in places like Angola, prolonging devastating wars there and elsewhere, and staving off independence for South African-occupied Namibia in the name of fighting communism“.
At this very moment, the USA and its “Western” allies are supporting dictators in Equatorial Guinea, and Angola. Is there a need to repeat here what everybody thinks, i.e. that such “travesties” are tolerated, whilst Mugabe’s is not, because Zimbabwe doesn’t have huge oil deposits?
That said, at the end of the day there is little point in starting a USA-bashing rhetorical exercize, just as there is little meaning in Mr Friedman’s clutching at moral straws regarding a particular vote at the Security Council.
This is the world we live in, and if we care for its morality the first step surely is not to delude ourselves into thinking that our side is “of course” the “good side”.
A multiethnic, multireligious State, where:
- An “ethnic group” dominates all others
- The sense of belonging to one’s group vastly exceeds “civic loyalty”
- Some political parties are defined by ethnicity and / or lack any interest in the plight of “the others”
- Entire villages have been practically abandoned for decades without any State help, because “inconvenient” to the Government
- Most if not all the national boundaries are completely artificial
- The military are a little too important and their work a little too secret
- There is no shortage of fundamentalists
- A “State religion” controls many parts of life and death of all citizens, including those of another religion
That is the Israel described by Adam LeBor in commenting in the International Herald Tribune the new book “The Hebrew Republic” by Bernard Avishai.
In summary, after 60 years of existence Israel has sort of middle-easternalized itself, like its neighbors a society undermined by its own history. The “only” characteristics distinguishing the Jewish state from the States immediately nearby remain its independent judiciary, free and vocal press, and a robust civil society.
Would those characteristics survive an internal war like those afflicting Lebanon, or even a conflict between the hard-core settlers and the (jewish) rest of the country?
Iran is right in trying to develop the Bomb: what else they should do, when violent foreign-sponsored political upheavals in Tehran appear in the news twice a month if not more often? (An example in Italian and another in English).
People like Michael Leeden are so preoccupied of the “Iran Bomb”, they are trying their best to make it explode.
What if they’d focus their minds not on the 1930’s and Hitler, rather on 1914, and on how a climate of distrust plus a longing for a resolutive war led many nations in a war with millions of dead (including European civilization).
How “enticing” (not!) will it be when Tehran or Tel Aviv will be pulverised, a few atom bombs will go off in other places, and then fifty or more years later flocks of scholars will be able to build their careers in the attempt of explaining how, even if all the “actors” in the crisis behaved rationally, the end result was the most gigantic idiocy in the history of the world, the First Nuclear War.
a. The Dalai Lama
Either the Dalai Lama is behind the rebellion, or he is not.
If he is, it’s a big failure for decades of his nonviolent struggle, some 49 years after leading one way or another the wrongly-timed, poorly opportunistic 1959 uprising that lead him into exile.
If he is not (and personally, I think that’s the case), it means he’s been sidelined (check his threat to resign against escalating violence). That is, the Tibetans are not all behind him: and so, as much as he is popular in the West, the World needs to identify more interlocutors to keep a meaningful contact with the people of Tibet.
b. President Hu Jintao
Even more than the Dalai Lama’s, the biggest failure of all is a personal one, and concerns Chinese President Hu Jintao’s.
First he was Party Secretary in Tibet for a while: however protected and privileged his lifestyle must have been at the time, and even if he came to distrust and despise the region and the people, as rumors have it, Hu must have learnt a thing of two about Tibet. Now, as Paramount Leader, President, General Secretary, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Hu has been in charge of getting the whole country ready for the Olympics.
True, Hu even tried to prevent troubles by sending additional security personnel. But still: when the troubles happened (and they happened when most expected: on an anniversary, a few months before the Olympics), Hu’s only answer was to kill, brutalize, arrest, deport, in an incredibly bad P.R. move compounded by an unhealthy, improbable fixation for fantastic machinations by the Dalai Lama, a robed guy in Dharamsala pretending nonviolence for decades but now single-handedly capable of eliciting problems for the whole of China.
Under Hu’s (in-)capable hands, China has been lead into looking foolish, unable to prepare, unable to prevent civil unrest, violent, trigger-happy against “its own” people, unable to defend the ethnic Chinese Han apparently victims of the Tibetans’ anger, unable to prevent the news from leaking to the outside world, blood-splattered in front of hundreds of millions of its customers around the world a few weeks before the Olympics and ready to be criticized and ostracized by all those looking for an excuse for protectionism.
Is this what Hu Jintao had in mind when presenting his political philosophy of “Harmonious Society” and “Peaceful Development“? Hopefully not…but unfortunately, his does look like “Fairweather Leadership“.
Unless something big happens during the next few months, one shouldn’t be surprised to find Hu in well-earned retirement quite soon.
I find the IHT’s Feb 25 Editorial on Serbia and Kosovo rather disingenuous (“Trapped in the past“, IHT, Feb 25).
They state that “Every effort has been made by NATO, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States to accommodate Serbian fears and sensitivities” but then undermine that very claim by decrying Serbia’s lack of “any willingness to negotiate the province’s independence” (as if this were a fait-accompli from the very beginning: so much for “accommodation“…).
They also accuse Belgrade of having “never demonstrated any remorse for the carnage unleashed by the former dictator Slobodan Milosevic“: thereby forgetting how young the Serbian democracy is, and its obvious innocence with respect to the crimes of a past dictatorship.
Serbia and the Serb may have a lot of soul-searching to do having lost pretty much everything and some in their misguided attempts to restore national pride by way of armed conflicts. But nothing, almost nothing has been done by the EU in primis, and by the USA, to help them out of that trap.
Actually, it is apparent that Kosovo has been recognized by some States, and not by others, only as part of a wider USA/Russia geopolitical game. What trust should Serbia put in such a process, is anybody’s guess.
If that can be the basis against “triggering wider conflict“, it’s very much doubtful.