Monday, August 27, 2018

The idiot dissenters

Yes, we posted on this same topic 5 days ago but it doesn't get any less outrageous. Today, a UN panel investigating the Rohingya atrocities in Myanmar recommended that there are sufficient grounds to investigate the Myanmar military leadership, including commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, for genocide.

Here is the aforementioned general in a very jolly meeting in Moscow last week with the Russian minister of defence, Sergei Shoigu. A particular "outrage" cohort obsessed with events in Israel/ Palestine and the rightness of Bashar al-Assad snored through this event.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Common Factor

Very good Financial Times analysis of why Australian politics has such high turnover at the top --

Rupert Murdoch’s stable of News Corp Australia titles wield immense power in the country, which some critics blame for destabilising Mr Turnbull and previous Labor governments. The rise of social media and the 24-hour news cycle have ramped up the pressure on political leaders and intensified criticism, denting their image and undermining trust among the electorate. 

Of course, Murdoch is present at the scene of deep polarization and personalisation of politics in other countries too ...

The needy President

Remarkable description of the Trump mood at the White House on Tuesday night from the Wall Street Journal --

He learned of Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea and Mr. Manafort’s conviction aboard Air Force One on his way to a campaign rally in West Virginia Tuesday and returned to the White House that evening in a “rotten” mood, further irritated by what he felt had been a flat audience, according to people close to the White House. His frustrations were amplified by the fact that his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is golfing in Scotland this week, people close to the president said

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Heroes of the anti-establishment

From Russian Ministry of Defence website: Defenсe Minister of the Russian Federation, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu at a meeting with the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Myanmar, Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing.

That would be the same armed forces of Myanmar that engaged in massive forced displacement and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim population of Myanmar.

But this will do nothing to stop the adulation of Russia from a certain kind of free thinker who judges causes only by the roles of certain other countries in them.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Don't hold your breath

There was a news conference today in Riyadh to report on the progress in investigations by the Saudi Arabia/ UAE/ recognized Yemeni government coalition of incidents during coalition attacks in the Yemeni war resulting in civilian casualties. The only update given for the school bus attack in Saada earlier this week was that a team has been appointed to investigate. The rest of the news conference gave updates on other incidents, beginning with one that occurred on ... April 2015. The most recent land incident addressed was in September 2017, and the report concluded with the findings about the attack on three ships in Hodeidah harbour in May 2018. The conclusion in that last case was that the ships were booby trapped and a legitimate target, and in all other cases except one, the conclusion was that given the presence of Houthi forces around the incident, the attack was legitimate no matter who was killed. And in the single case of admitted error (an air-to-ground missile attack on a car), the excuse is that the error was unintentional, whatever that means. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Quote of the Day

In the FT Weekend, Arthur Beesley returns to Ireland to look at the state of the Catholic church on the eve of the visit of the Pope and the memories of JP2 in 1979:

As for that first splendid papal visit, [Mark Patrick] Hederman suggests that, rather than some kind of a high-water mark for Catholicism, it can now be seen more as an act of self-preservation by church leaders. "The hierarchy knew this was in decline, and so John Paul II was brought in as a kind of last-ditch stand to stop the dyke from bursting. So it wasn't as if it was a triumphalist display of Catholic Ireland at its zenith. It was that they knew."

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

There goes another trade deal

Boris Johnson, before his current burqa-bashing days, giving a Brexit-boosterish speech in Bahrain in 2016 --

I don’t know whether our Kuwaiti friends want to claim credit for all City Hall’s policies – including the popular cycle superhighways which we are now extending but when you consider that we have 20,000 Gulf students in London and they are very welcome may I say, as are their fees when you think the academic exchanges, the cultural exchanges you can see why London is sometimes called the eighth Emirate. I think I may have made that up myself, but we’re proud of it. And of course we get the ball back over the net in our own modest British way - Brits pay 1.7 million visits to the Gulf every year.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Quote of the Day

Financial Times, in the context of Jeremy Corbyn position on trade deals as influenced by Labour head of trade policy John Hilary:

A former trade policy analyst who worked alongside Mr Hilary during the 2000s said: "To call John's worldview Manichean would be to give it greater nuance and flexibility than was justified. In his mind there is only one mental compartment to put business or trade deals in, and it's one labelled 'exploitative capitalist bastards'."

Friday, August 03, 2018

But he'll make an exception for this one

Andrew Sullivan, whose silly season instincts are strong, has pounced on the Sarah Jeong "outrage." But here is describing his own writing philosophy -- in response to a charge of anti-Semitism:

I'm a writer who doesn't much care for political correctness, of policing discourse for every single possible trope or code that someone somewhere will pounce on as evidence of bigotry. I've gone out of my way as an editor and writer to stir things up - on race and gender and culture and sex - and I have never been one to worry excessively about the sensitivity of others.

Friday Night Slights

From Jeremy Corbyn's latest attempt to signal his position on tackling left anti-Semitism --

This has been a difficult year in the Middle East, with the killing of many unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, and Israel’s new nation-state law relegating Palestinian citizens of Israel to second-class status.

Note that his definition of "Middle East" is within the territories of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza strip. It appears, therefore, to not include Syria.

Which does make it much easier to describe why it was a difficult year in the Middle East!

Photo of the Day

Jordan's King Abdullah takes a meeting with French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, wearing his military fatigues.

via Petra

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Non-transitive haters

Reuters --

As tensions peaked last week, Israel shot down a Syrian warplane that it said had strayed into the Israeli-occupied Golan and warned Assad’s Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah reinforcements against trying to deploy on the Syrian-held side. But Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman sounded more upbeat on Thursday as he described an Assad win as a given. “From our perspective, the situation is returning to how it was before the civil war, meaning there is a real address, someone responsible, and central rule,” Lieberman told reporters during a tour of air defense units in northern Israel. Asked whether Israel should be less wary of possible flare-ups on the Golan - much of which it seized from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized abroad - Lieberman said: “I believe so. I think this is also in Assad’s interest.”

It is going to be fascinating to see whether the self-styled contrarians who love Bashar al-Assad and hate Israel, and switch effortlessly between those two themes, will be able to reconcile themselves to Israel being, actually OK, with their beloved Bashar staying in power. If nothing else, easing the Israel hate in line with Bashar's modus vivendi would make their dual stances look a little bit less on the edge of anti-Semitic.