The scandals of the Trump administration have filled the news. There can be no doubt that this is a perilous time for the United States as a constitutional crisis tied deeply to Russia unfolds. Unfortunately, this became even more dangers with a new revelation of alleged treachery.
The story out today is that Michael Flynn, acting as the incoming administration’s representative, called off US support for the SDF militia fighting Da’esh (ISIS) on 10 Jan. He may have been acting more on behalf of Turkey, which reportedly paid him $500,000.
Understanding this situation and why it is so dangerous for the entire world requires some deep background. It will be difficult for the mainstream press to catch up, so it is our pleasure to provide it here.
Genuine leadership doesn’t seek out headlines – in fact, it sometimes deliberately avoids them in order to get things done. The best example of this comes from a close contender for the Leader of the Free World now that the United States has largely abandoned the role in practical terms.
The leader in question is not Angela Merkel, although she is indeed the most important leader of a democracy today. This comes from the more junior Theresa May, Prime Minister of the UK, who has taken to solving the most important conflict left over from a by-gone era – Cyprus. Stepping into the British role as sometime creator of order she pushed a lot of heft behind the re-started talks which may, just yet, create a bridge between Europe and the Middle East.
The critical point is Turkey, as always, and the relative isolation this critical nation has been saddled with.
Thursday, 20 October, seemed like an ordinary day for many people. Waking up, getting the kids off to school, and driving to work all went like any other day. But once anyone tried to use the internet for anything, something seemed a bit off. Twitter was pretty much down all morning and a lot of email simply stopped flowing. Placing orders at companies was simply not working. Everything was at least … slow.
This was the day the largest yet Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack took place. The target appears to be Dyn, the company that provides instructions for routing traffic around the ‘net to keep it moving. But the exact target and who was doing the targeting remains a mystery. The attack actually continues, allbeit contained for now.
In order to understand today’s news and get a sense of what tomorrow’s news might be this attack is worth examining in what little detail we can muster. This is all far from over.
Don’t you know there’s a war on?
Just before I was born, a shade over 50 years ago, a War on Poverty was declared. It embodied all that was great about America – a pledge to marshal our forces with military precision to feed and clothe every citizen of this land. Nevermind we were fighting a real war at the same time – called a “police action”.
Since the War on Poverty we’ve had a War on Drugs, a War on Terror, and a number of actual shooting wars – none of which we called a “war”, of course. There’s also been a War on Women, War on Christmas, War on Islam, War on Cancer, a War on the 1% …. the list goes on indefinitely.
As we enter this election an angry and energized electorate might be forgiven for perceiving every small slight as though it was an assault from “the enemy” from “the war” (pick one). It’s the only language we have to describe conflict, after all. And it’s language and behavior completely anathema to any kind of civilized democracy.
Welcome to 2016 – when the actual election starts. It would be easy to say it will be the news story of the year. But as important as it will be a bigger story is developing, as it did in 2015.
The conflict between Sunni and Shia Islam is more than a millenium old. It resonates today because the region is emerging, as so many other developing nations are, away from the thumb of Western influences.
It’s not our fight – and we can probably only make it worse. But it will be hard to stay out of.
Netanyahu’s tone was measured and direct, fitting the prestige of the chamber he was addressing. “That deal would not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons — it would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them,” he told Congress last Tuesday. It was classic Netanyahu in many ways – bold, dire, and ultimately a load of cowpuckey.
Netanyahu can’t claim to know what is happening in the “P5+1” talks to stop Iran’s uranium enrichment program, and if he does know he can’t prove it publicly. These talks have been going on for nine years now and have always hinged on one sticking point – Iran cannot obtain nuclear weapons. Any other result would have made the talks much easier and they would have been over by now. But these are important talks for reasons even larger than weapons of mass destruction.
If you can think of two things no one would like to do in Russia at the end of January, standing around in a line and fighting a war come to mind pretty easily. But that’s exactly what seems to be in the cards for far too many Russians as the Ukraine and economic crises continue howling like a bitter wind that never ceases.
The acceleration of both appears to be assured right now, especially if the West continues to link aggression in Ukraine with more economic sanctions – which at this point will have to be severe to be considered “new”. The new Cold War is definitely on, but there are no assurances that it will continue to be cold much after the freeze of midwinter.