Gleanings and observations.9:36 AM, Sep 21, 2015 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
The opposition British Labour Party, now led by a leftist who favors Hamas, wants Britain to withdraw from NATO because its expansion has antagonized Vladimir Putin, give up its nuclear deterrent, and declare an arms embargo against Israel, has appointed as his shadow chancellor, one John McDonnell. This worthy lists his hobby in Who’s Who as “generally fomenting the overthrow of capitalism”, joked (so he says) that if he had an opportunity to relive the 1980s he would have assassinated Margaret Thatcher, and wants murderous IRA terrorists “honored” for securing a political settlement in Ireland.
Meanwhile, back here in the U.S., some members of the circular firing squad that passes for the Republican slate of candidates for their party’s presidential nomination are planning to make certain its defeat in 2016 by closing down the government unless President Obama surrenders to their drive to defund Planned Parenthood, which he will not do, especially if that prompts the loony wing of the Republican party to carry out its threat.
Obama, by the way, is eagerly awaiting Pope Francis’ visit to America. He is in debt to Francis for supporting his detente with Cuba. That must have been a difficult move for the Pontiff since it will make it possible for American mutinationals he has accused of plundering the planet to interfere with the Castro regime’s efforts to preserve 1950s vintage automobiles, keep the island’s Internet closed to Cuban “citizens”, and protect the living standards of the Cuban people. The President also owes the Pontiff for giving moral support to the position the administration will be taking on climate change at the upcoming Paris summit. But Obama has never been keen to pay debts of any kind, fiscal or political, and saw no reason not to invite transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop (now divorced from his same-sex partner), and a nun “criticized by the Vatican for [her] silence on abortion and euthanasia”, according to the Wall Street Journal, to join the White House celebration of the Pope’s visit. The Vatican let it be known that this is an embarrassment to Francis, who fears he will photographed with these guests. With Obama for a friend, Israel’s Netanyahu would have advised the Pope ….
Speaking of the Pope, that inarguably good man has urged “every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe” to take in a migrant family. Among the sovereign states that have so far declined to accept a single refugee are the Arab Gulf states and Vatican City, the lavish and spacious nature of the apartments occupied by some of the Church’s resident bishops described in a recent article in the New Yorker. It may well be that the Pontiff is having difficulty bending the entrenched Vatican bureaucracy to his will. The Financial Times notes that “the Roman ‘Curia’ – as the holy See’s bureaucratic establishment is known – for being narcissistic, rigid and inward looking, and desperately requiring a change of attitude…”. If that is his problem he might pull Obama aside during his Washington visit and ask for some tips from the President, who has a special genius for getting previously independent, non-political agencies to hew the White House line.
Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the U.N. in Geneva, was appointed to chair a panel of the Human Rights Council. He promises to be a hands-on chairman, unless he crosses his monarch and becomes hands-off. Our former Secretary of State, familiar of course with Saudi attitudes towards women, has at this writing declined to accuse the Kingdom and, now the U.N., of waging a war on women, and a highly successful one at that.
A quarter-century after Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, we still haven’t learned the right lessons from that warAug 10, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 45 • By VANCE SERCHUK
Just after midnight on August 2, 1990, an invasion force of approximately 100,000 Iraqi troops crossed into Kuwait. As mechanized and armored Republican Guard divisions breached the border and sped southward across the desert, Iraqi Special Forces commandos launched airborne and amphibious assaults into Kuwait City. The Kuwaiti military, outnumbered and taken by surprise by the well-coordinated offensive, was swiftly routed.
Discrimination is a terrible thing, but only when the wrong people do it.3:33 PM, May 26, 2015 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
The Guardian had a story last week about the soon-to-be completed Abraj Kudai, a new hotel in Mecca which will have 10,000 guest rooms, 70 restaurants, four helipads, and five floors reserved for the sole use of the Saudi royal family.
The Saudis push back against the Obama foreign policy. May 25, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 35 • By HUSSAIN ABDUL-HUSSAIN
The Obama administration put a happy face on its Camp David summit last week, even as four of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s six leaders turned down Obama’s invitation to attend. The most significant absence, of course, was that of Saudi Arabia’s king, Salman. In his place, Riyadh sent Salman’s 55-year-old nephew, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and Salman’s 28-year-old son, Mohammed bin Salman, deputy crown prince and defense minister.
8:01 AM, May 14, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
Barack Obama greeted Crown Prince Bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia in the Oval Office yesterday by getting some names wrong. Here's how the president began the remarks:
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CROWN PRINCE BIN NAYEF OF SAUDI ARABIA BEFORE BILATERAL MEETING
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s wonderful to welcome back the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Nayef, as well as Deputy Crown Prince Salman. We are very pleased to have them both here today, as well as the delegation from Saudi Arabia.
9:02 AM, May 13, 2015 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
The early Cold War period might be called the Age of the Treaty Organization. The United States, scrambling furiously to respond to the fact that it had become the guarantor of the “Free World,” had discovered a surprising interest in entangling alliances of all sorts and in all parts of the world. NATO, of course, was the biggest pact of them all, but in 1954 the “Manilla Pact” created the Southeast Asian Treaty Organiz
3:30 PM, May 11, 2015 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
It was a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away: In July 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama made big, bold news by travelling to Berlin to – as The New York Times triumphantly recorded – “restore the world’s faith in strong American leadership and idealism.” With 200,000 Berliners waving
8:12 AM, Apr 16, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A prominent Pakistani-born women's rights activist is asking presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton, to pledge not to accept donations from foreign nations that oppress women. Raheel Raza, the Canadian journalist behind the documentary film Honor Diaries, is requesting all the presidential candidates, from both parties and both "men and women," to sign her pledge.
Unlike President Obama.12:08 PM, Mar 5, 2015 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI and STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Following the death of Saudi King Abdullah at the end of January, and the succession of his half-brother, now King Salman, 79, many observers of the desert monarchy have speculated on its future.
The politics of oil Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
"We can’t just drill our way to lower gas prices.” As recently as two years ago, that’s what the president was saying—with his usual self-assurance—about the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and on oil in general. And he wasn’t the only one. The line was widely echoed on the political left, where the instinctive feeling is that petroleum is poison. It helped that the opposition, led by archvillainess Sarah Palin, was meanwhile chanting, “Drill, baby, drill.”
What more proof was needed?
Time to counter the Saudis with a tariff? Feb 16, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 22 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
We are in a war with Saudi Arabia—and losing. The Saudis aim to regain substantial control of our oil supply by driving from the industry many of our shale-oil-producing frackers who have reduced the power conveyed to the kingdom’s rulers by the underground ocean of oil on which their palaces sit. And we seem prepared to let them do just that, by failing to do what is necessary to prevent a reversal of the major strides we have made to get out from under the boot of an avaricious oil cartel.
2:22 PM, Feb 3, 2015 • By IRFAN AL-ALAWI AND STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Following the death of King Abdullah Bin Abd Al-Aziz, at 90 or 91, on the night of January 22-23, Saudi Arabia is very likely to continue its policies of opposition to Iran and the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, and its participation in the coalition effort against the Islamic State. These alignments are not an expression of mere rivalry between Sunni Saudis and Shia Iranians, or between Saudi fundamentalists and ISIS radicals.