Friday, February 21, 2020

An armed society is a polite society

US Secretary of State meeting the (new) Sultan Haitham of Oman in Muscat today.

The Omanis also arranged a meeting for Pompeo's wife -- travelling on the junket, apparent with a job title of "Special Assistant" -- with the Sultan's wife.

Photo via Oman News Agency

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Tone watching

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah during a characteristic extended discourse on world and domestic affairs on Sunday --

the Munich conference yesterday and yesterday, so listen to Pompeo how he talks to the Europeans, listen to the US defense minister (Mark Esper), how he talks to China, China is not a small country, China is a superpower, the superiority of whoever addresses China, puts its conditions on it and sets a roadmap for it, which has not passed in the history of the globe, no more superior and arrogant administration, tired, terror and savage than this administration, how it addresses its allies, how it addresses the people who give it billions, but hundreds of billions of dollars, how it insults them.

Your enemies notice when you insult your friends.

[previously in this series]

The Former Prime Ministers' Refuge

Theresa May meets Mohammed bin Rashid, Ruler of Dubai, on the sidelines of the women's empowerment events in the emirate today.

Photo via WAM

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Ireland: Belfast man comments on coalition formation negotiations

Bible Thumper

Evangelical Christian and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in his "The West is Winning" speech at the Munich Security Conference --

Name me a moment in history when the weak and the meek have prevailed.

Matthew 5:5-10
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Offer not applicable to owners of newspapers

A characteristically un self-aware positioning by Saturday's Daily Telegraph on the Manchester City fallout -- oblivious to the trajectory of the Telegraph under its billionaire owners, the Barclay brothers. 

Sunday, February 09, 2020

When Ciara met Sabine

Another winter, another cycle of named Atlantic low pressure systems, with all the associated fun! Is your flight from Dublin to Frankfurt delayed by Storm Ciara or Storm Sabine? That depends on whether you're getting the explanation in Ireland (Ciara) or Germany (Sabine). Perhaps the good news is that the confusion over storm naming conventions didn't become an argument for Brexit. 

Friday, February 07, 2020


With the Irish general election tomorrow, a well-timed Financial Times analysis (alt. link) by David McWilliams --

Despite being a nationalist party, this surge in support is not, like the Brexit vote, a vote against the EU. Sinn Féin is committed to the EU as are more than 85 per cent of Irish people.

But is SF committed to the EU?

It knows that Brexit has made a formal exit position toxic. But in fact, its manifesto has numerous references to an EU that would be very different from the current one, raising the question of how deep that commitment actually is. A few sentences:

For too long, a cosy consensus has existed in Irish politics. The consensus extends from economic and social policy to Ireland’s relationship with the European Union ... We will seek to return powers to EU member states and increase the influence of member state parliaments in the EU legislative process. We support reforms of the EU which are aimed at reducing the power of the European Commission, making it more transparent and accountable to the European and member state parliaments, and increasing the influence of smaller member states. Sinn Féin will build a fairer and more democratic European Union that works for the people of Europe, not for the EU insiders, middle-men and corporate interests. Greater transparency must be introduced, the militarisation agenda halted, social protections legally bolstered and powers returned to member states.

This is all summarised in the bullet point "Returning powers to Member States and their parliaments." How is that any different from (1) a David Cameron-like fudge that, as with Cameron, could actually precipitate an exit, and (2) the standard Eurosceptic dodge that, I'm not against the EU, I'm just against it doing anything as a Union?

[Previously in this series]

Some things don't change

White House statement --

the United States conducted a counterterrorism operation in Yemen that successfully eliminated Qasim al-Rimi, a founder and the leader of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and a deputy to al-Qa’ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Once again, an American president is claiming that a strike against a senior Yemeni terrorist will take down AQAP and al-Qaeda more generally.

We've been here before. Anwar al-Awlaki. Maybe the single biggest mistake of the Obama Presidency. Trump's competitive streak is still at work. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

State of the Union Quote of the Day

Soundin' a lot like a House Congressional
'cause we're experimental and professional.

Sunday, February 02, 2020


There are many strange things about the Trump Israel - Palestine proposal. One strange thing is the writing style. Consider this passage:

The Arabs who were displaced have, in very significant numbers, been isolated and kept from living as citizens in the many Arab countries in the region. For example, after the Kuwaiti government returned, following liberation by the United States and its coalition, it began a systematic clearing of Palestinians from the country through violence and economic pressure. The population of Palestinians in Kuwait dropped from 400,000 before the invasion to about 25,000.

Missing in this account of the de facto expulsion of Palestinians from Kuwait are such details as a year or even a decade (it's the early 1990s), the invading country (Saddam's Iraq), or a context (the disastrous assessment of Yasser Arafat that Saddam would gain from the invasion, and King Hussein's initial hedging of bets on the outcome). Also missing is any sense that the USA had some leverage at the time to resist what was happening.

Anyway the point is that something weird happened to this paragraph. It has the advantage of a decent point -- the highly politicised treatment of Palestinians in the Gulf. But somewhere along the way, the document drafters decided that it was too awkward to give the full story, so the point stayed in, entirely devoid of explanation.

And that's what happened to a section of the document where they actually had a good point to make. As for the rest of it ... 

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Hot potatoes

Some things not mentioned in the Sinn Féin election manifesto:

One-off housing
Polluter Pays
Eurozone / European Central Bank
Intermittent (as refers to power generation)