Monday, December 31, 2018

Music selection for 2019

The travel and administrative difficulties in the song make it a parable for Brexit! [backup link]

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

On the first day of Christmas

Saudi Arabia's military forces have an investigation team that looks into allegations of civilian casualties and disproportionate force in Yemen. The team held its latest news conference today, and the investigations cleared their forces in all cases. This is par for the course, but the Christmas Day touch is especially deft. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Through the looking glass

Excellent article in the Financial Times (subs. possibly req'd) on the debate over whether the rolling news format of BFM TV has fed the high viz jacket protests:

But the “BFM phenomenon” is shaking up both traditional media outlets and methods. “A BFM journalist will give the microphone to anyone on the street without doing any research on the credibility of the person being interviewed,” said Olivier Royant, editor of weekly magazine Paris Match. “BFM TV is very good at finding one sentence and having everyone react to this one controversy and then labelling it as news. “BFM is a very reactive media. A small event can become the most important topic. Then all the other media have to decide whether or not to follow BFM TV.”

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Bashar and Omar compare notes

The al-Assad fanboys can reconcile just about anything, but watching them trying to reconcile how Sudan and Syria are the good guys in the Arab world will be especially interesting.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Apres moi, l'expense report

Henry Olsen, who specializes in working class conservatism, explains the virtues of Brexit to Washington Post readers:

It's easy to see the difference between the United Kingdom and the E.U. when you visit London and Paris, as I just recently did.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Diplomacy over the decades

May 4, 1987. This photo, via Saudi Press Agency, shows Saudi Arabian King Fahd having successfully gotten bitter rivals Moroccan King Hassan II and Algerian President Chadli Bendjedid into the same room to discuss their proxy war in Western Sahara. The room in question was actually one of several tents erected on the Morocco-Algeria border for the summit.

Saudi Press Agency has resurrected the photo in a retrospective on diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Algeria given the Crown Prince's visit there today -- under very different circumstances.

As this Washington Post story, contemporaneous with the 1987 summit, notes, this was an energetic period for Saudi diplomacy, as they also got Hafez al-Assad and Saddam Hussein the same room in Jordan -- all part of an effort to air the grievances before an Arab summit.

It would take a few more years before things somewhat de-escalated to a cold peace between Algeria and Morocco. But just over three years after that other below-the-radar meeting between Hafez al-Assad and Saddam Hussein, George HW Bush would be convincing al-Assad to join his coalition against Saddam Hussein. Luckily, no one was sufficiently dug in to previous positions to impede the necessary adjustment. 

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Move it to the Trump hotel

Wall Street Journal on the G20 communique processology:

Negotiations were so fraught that when the U.S. negotiator asked if leaders really have to say that the International Monetary Fund is “at the center” of the global financial system, the EU negotiator replied: “Yes, it’s in Washington.”

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Now that's realism!

This New York Times story from September 1990 is written by Tom Friedman (yes, that Tom Friedman) and reports on the visit of George H.W. Bush's Secretary of State James Baker to Damascus to (successfully) get Hafez al-Assad to join Bush's military coalition to eject Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. 

Anthem for George HW Bush

At about the 3:45 mark, Neil gets into the lyrics that use the Bush catchphrases.