Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Bipeds ruling nations are not, generally speaking, a healthy set of specimens, but in some periods of history the loonies have to dissemble. That doesn’t seem to be the case any more, and it makes the world is a more dangerous place than usual. All the talk this week is about banking crises and chronic unemployment. Let’s not forget war.

The teetering French banks, just downgraded this morning by one of the corrupt rating agencies, have been labeled ‘Credit-Anstalt 2.0’ by some wags. That was the name of the Austrian bank whose collapse marked the real start of the Great Depression, foreshadowed but not really caused by the 1929 stock crash. A Euro functionary sounded quite desperate when sounding alarms this morning about the dangers to the whole EU project.

Meanwhile, tectonic shifts are occurring in the Middle East as Turkish PM Erdogan is visiting revolutionary Egypt to openly forge an anti-Israel bloc. A Guardian correspondent wrote:

Erdogan arrived in the country accompanied by an army of 200 Turkish businessmen and has announced plans to increase investment and establish a formal strategic co-operation council between the two nations. With Egypt’s military junta on the back foot over recent pro-change protests and the breaching of the Israeli embassy during a protest in Cairo last week, this trip has come at a particularly sensitive time.

The report also called Erdogan a ‘media star’ as thousands of Egyptians cheered his arrival at the Cairo airport. ‘With his strong rhetoric on Turkish-Arab unity, high-profile satellite TV chatshow appearances and photogenic walkabouts in the capital—including an impromptu and warm meeting with street protesters campaigning for regime change in Syria and Yemen—Erdogan did little to hide his intention of positioning Turkey into a leadership role at the heart of the Arab spring’.

In case no one has noticed, Israeli leaders are not characterized by sober moderation. They operate from a permanent siege mentality even when on a winning streak; now, by alienating everyone, they’ve managed to give themselves real motive for concern.

How hard would it have been for the Israelis to apologize for killing civilians aboard the Turkish aid ship? For that matter, why not welcome Palestinian statehood at the UN and be done with it? Instead, the nutcase and openly racist Israeli foreign minister indulges in cheap, sophomoric insults with the result that the long-term alliance with Turkey is perhaps mortally wounded.

But apologies from the die-hards in Tel Aviv are as likely as polite debate at Fox News. These reactionary elements have been so empowered for so long and have intimidated and browbeaten their adversaries into such cowed defensiveness that they are no longer capable of behaving in their own best interests. This, IMHO, is a feature of our age, and an ominous one—we cannot expect our leaders to pursue even their own goals in a rational fashion.

The Israelis must be particularly edgy given that their only real ally in the world—us—is overstretched and weakened by domestic strife, including an economy that refuses to jump-start. So as things deteriorate on a variety of fronts simultaneously, the threat of sudden, game-changing reactions rises sharply.

On that note I observe that the inimitable Dick Cheney, instead of having to spend his time working with his lawyers to defend himself from the charges of crimes against humanity that he merits, is once again stirring the pot for the attack on Iran that he couldn’t convince W to authorize when they were in office.

Cheney phrases this war-mongering as a mere belief that Israel ‘would’ bomb Iran if the former felt threatened but then quickly adds that Iran is in fact ‘an existential threat’. Case closed.

It goes without saying that a little pre-electoral war-making never did any politician any harm—especially if it can be dressed up as victory. Is there any evidence that Obama would hesitate to go this route? I see none.

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