Closing Thought–11May18

It’s Back!

The disease that caught the world’s attention a couple of years ago has returned, I do not think it ever left, to the countries of Africa….this time the outbreak is in the Republic of Congo……

The world has a new Ebola outbreak on its hands. The Democratic Republic of Congo declared an outbreak Monday after samples taken from two of five patients in the country’s northwest province of Equateur tested positive for the Zaire strain of Ebola. More testing is underway, and NPR reports that more than a dozen people may have already died from the disease. Health officials first reported 21 patients with signs of hemorrhagic fever, of which Ebola is one type, in the village of Ikoko Impenge, about 20 miles from the town of Bikoro, per CBS News. Seventeen patients later died, though officials say no deaths have occurred among health workers or the hospitalized since the samples were collected Thursday.

The WHO has now released $1 million from a contingency fund as experts descend on Bikoro to identify patient zero and to help prevent further spread of the disease that has caused nine outbreaks in the Congo since 1976, reports CNN. The last, a two-month outbreak beginning in May 2017, killed four of eight people infected in the northeast province of Bas-Uele. “Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the government … and partners to reduce the loss of life,” says the WHO’s deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response. “Responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease,” which is spread from human to human through bodily fluids. (This vaccine could help.)

Will this disease get out of hand again?  I mean Trump is withdrawing support from many international programs and after all this is Africa and NO one cares about Africa.

This is my final post of the day…..go out and enjoy the rest of your day….and the upcoming weekend…..chuq

Could US Have Prevented WW2?

We are celebrating World War One, the 100 year anniversary, a war that not many Americans know anything bout because they do not see it as an American war.

I have written about what events could have actually been the cause of the Americans entry…..but there is another question….if the Americans had not entered into WW1 would WW2 have been prevented?

A fascinating thought in itself……

Every war is a tragedy, a failure to resolve sharp differences of ideology and interest or to stop evil men before they can impose their will on others. The First World War was one of the most tragic wars in history: Although none of its major protagonists expected or wanted it to occur, it initiated thirty years of bloodletting on an unprecedented scale and planted the seeds for civil conflicts that continue to rage today. Witness the fate of the Sykes-Picot Treaty, the secret pact drawn up in 1916 by diplomats from Britain and France that mashed together Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds in a new nation called Iraq.

Historians will debate forever whether the Great War could have been prevented. But for the United States, it was indisputably a war of choice. Germany neither threatened a trans-Atlantic attack, nor had the ability to mount one. And while Woodrow Wilson and the government’s propaganda agency, the Committee on Public Information, portrayed the Kaiser’s regime as a cruel autocracy, it could not raise an army without the approval of the Reichstag, an elected legislature. And was Imperial Germany so morally inferior to the three empires it was fighting—the British, the French, and, until March of 1917, the realm of the Tsar?

AS I wrote earlier…..why is World War One mostly forgotten by Americans……

It redefined women’s rights, race relations, civil liberties and America’s role in the world. It caused twice as many American deaths as the Vietnam war. But there is no national memorial to it in Washington DC and, on Thursday, its centenary will pass with little fanfare.

On 6 April 1917, America declared war on Germany and charged into the first world war. After nearly three years of reluctance, its hand was forced by the sinking of neutral US ships by German submarines, and by Britain’s interception of the so-called Zimmerman telegram revealing a German plot to persuade Mexico to wage war on the US.

I have tried to help Americans understand the First World War, a daunting endeavor but I feel that we should try and understand ALL wars that we have asked our young to fight.


An IST op-ed

My better half was watching a retro movie the other day entitled “Tribes” starring Darren McGavin about the USMC and a mystical wonder child that the Drill Sargent tried to break and could not….all so early 70’s…..and typical TV drama of the day.

The title got me to thinking about our country these days and the damage that all this silliness and yes it is flipping silly, is doing to the fabric of American society.

To begin with….what is political tribalism?  n….loyalty to a tribe or other social group especially when combined with strong negative feelings for people outside the group… other words….political division.

I read Political Tribes: Group Instinct And The Fate Of Nations, a new book by Yale law professor Amy Chua. Chua does not write as a political partisan. Rather, she writes as an analyst of our political culture, which is rapidly tribalizing. I strongly encourage everyone to read the book to understand the nature of our dire political moment, and how much worse it could get if we don’t find some way to stop the cycle.

I want to be very clear: Amy Chua does not side with either the left or the right in her book. She says that all of us are tribalizing. She doesn’t say this in an artificial “pox on both your houses” way. She really means it, and she shows how it’s happening.

Here on IST many visitors from the Right, because I criticize Trump, as being a Dem they are wrong and if they would just visit more often then they would have seen that I was a critic of Obama and his people as well…..but they read one post and label me.  I do not really mind just shows their ignorance.

This whole “us against them” mentality is not American in my book… accomplishes nothing politically and finger pointing is just as silly (even though I have done it in the past out of frustration).

This “tribalism” has been more successful for the Right than the Left……

In “How America’s identity politics went from inclusion to division” (Guardian, March 1, 2018), Amy Chua argues that the U.S. left has given us the U.S. right, or at least has provided opportunities for the political right to rise to power. Chua makes the case that identity politics on the left and right makes the U.S. a less inclusive society.

She is right to some extent about some kinds of identity politics, but it’s there where the equivalency ends because identity politics on the right has led to murder, mayhem at the highest levels of government, and a return to racism that is supported by the right’s enormous wealth. Identifying with their own best interests gave the gay community medicines that made AIDS less than a certain death sentence.

In my opinion the Right has succeeded in the division admirably and as they divide us the Dems try to counter and thus the division gets deeper and deeper… the country divides the Congress jumps on the bandwagon…..

A few days ago I argued that sins-of-omission by Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans in the House, and Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans in the Senate, amounted to de facto shirking of their “check and balance” duty relative to Donald Trump. Because members of the majority party in the legislative branch  wouldn’t call out or even notice Trump’s excesses—except, as with Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, when they had decided not to run again—they were putting unsustainable pressure on other parts of the formal and informal governing system. The courts, the press, Robert Mueller, and so on.

In the past I enjoyed political debate and discourse but these days it is not anything like the days I enjoyed……many especially on the Right will not except the title of “Tribes”……call it whatever you like but it boils down to political tribes…..

When it comes to politics, in 2015 we witnessed nothing less than a paradigm shift. The old rules are out the window. Technology and changing mores have conspired to lower barriers of entry—and acceptability. Gatekeepers no longer exist. What we have right now is closer to direct democracy than we’ve ever seen, and our civilization is regressing as a result.

One party (the Democrats) already represents the liberal half of the nation. The other half seems to consist of modern, Buckleyite conservatives, but also an increasingly large horde of populist, nationalist, individualistic Americans—who now have a megaphone and a vessel in the form of Donald Trump.

If you do not like the term “Tribes” then maybe “politics of identity” or “identity politics” may  tickle your fancy……no matter the title it is NOT Making America Great… any way.

France And The Middle East

I have a degree in Middle East Studies and Conflict Management….but my interests first were ignited by movies like Beau Geste and Lawrence of Arabia and then my trips through the Middle East…..

In all that time what suck in my brain was France’s involve in desert warfare by trying to subjugate the tribes of North Africa…..and in doing so should have learned how to fight a desert war more so than most other nations…..

A paper that I recently read on France’s place in this region of the world……

  • The Middle East is a key stage for France’s foreign policy, one where it bids to prove its credentials as an international power, punching above its weight and demonstrating the independence that is so important to the French sense of place in the world.
  • In this context, the Arab uprisings and their subsequent upheavals have been a particular challenge, to such an extent that France attempted to recalibrate its strategy. Despite this, France soon settled back into its traditional realism by adopting an approach based on “reassurance”.
  • Under this approach, France sought to foster stability by reassuring its partners against their perceived anxiety in the face of domestic instability, regional changes, and international uncertainties. But “reassurance” did not deliver and France still faces key challenges in the region.
  • France also feels increasingly ‘alone in the desert’, with little European support. Even with armed conflicts, terrorism, and migration flows across the region, France has failed to rally its European partners around strategic purpose.
  • Emmanuel Macron’s ardent pro-Europeanism presents an opportunity for France, and for Europe. But France must move on from its “reassurance” approach and better embed its leadership in concerted European cooperation.

We here in the States hear a lot about what Great Britain is doing and possibly to a lesser extent what Germany is doing but we hear very little of France and its foreign policies…..

I think that if we are to work all aspects of the situation then we need to know what all players are doing….it is the only way for success.