Wednesday Night #1973

Written by  //  January 8, 2020  //  Wednesday Nights  //  No comments

Iran crisis
We woke on Friday morning to the news that Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani (Portrait of a General) was killed along with several officials from Iraqi militias backed by Tehran when an American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the airport. Immediately, all other concerns were relegated to the back pages of our minds. It is still unclear why Donald Trump chose this option as the ostensible response to the death of an American contractor in Iraq in late December and subsequent demonstrations at the US Embassy; justifications offered by the White House, Pompeo and the Pentagon are lacking in detail and unconvincing.  Reaction from Iran was immediate and promised “a forceful revenge.”  The first move was Tuesday’s missile attack on two bases in Iraq that house American troops. Trump issued an upbeat appraisal – “All is well!” he wrote. “Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far!” to be followed by a statement on Wednesday.
Reaction from allies and media is far less sanguine,  especially in view of Iran’s announcement that it will no longer abide by the 2015 nuclear deal.
As the increasingly alarming (albeit inevitable) escalation unfolds John Evdokias forwarded this unsettling tweet from Garrett Graff “Reminder that as this crisis escalates, we have no Director of National Intelligence, no Dep Dir, no Homeland Security Secretary, no Dep Sec, no head of CBP or ICE, no State Dept Under Sec of Arms Control, no Asst Sec for Europe, and no Navy Sec.”

Ironic coincidence: January 3rd marked the 30th anniversary of General Manuel Antonio Noriega’s surrender, following the December invasion of Panama by US troops.

On December 31, New York‘s David Wallace-Wells wrote that Global Apathy Toward the Fires in Australia Is a Scary Portent for the Future. Since then, it seems that any news that is not related to Trump and/or Iran, consists in horrific stories of the destruction wreaked by the ring of fire virtually surrounding the continent. Accompanied by pictures of towering clouds of smoke, exhausted volunteer firefighters, or pathetically singed koalas, accounts of the inferno are heartrending and the outlook for the economy over the medium term is dismal (Economic impact of Australia’s bushfires set to exceed $4.4bn cost of Black Saturday).
Contrary to David Wallace-Wells’ view, the world has responded generously to the crisis. Australian celebrities including Russell Crowe have publicized the extent of the disaster -and donated generously to disaster relief- while the firefighters (note teams of firefighters from Canada and the U.S. have joined their Australian mates) are rightly praised as super heroes. The toll on the rich biodiversity of the continent is incalculable – ecologists from the University of Sydney estimate almost half a billion mammals, birds and reptiles have died since the fires began. Whether the government of Scott Morrison will re-think its climate change denial remains to be seen.

Meantime, his fellow denier Trump to dismiss climate impacts in overhaul of environmental reviews: sources
(Reuters) – Major new U.S. projects like highways and pipelines will no longer require federal reviews of their environmental climate impact under new rules that the Trump administration will propose on Wednesday, sources familiar with the plan said.

There has been an intermittent ongoing debate about whether or not groundwater is a renewable resource. This article from Quora Is groundwater a renewable or nonrenewable resource? presents both sides of the argument. The author concludes: “Although groundwater can be defined as a renewable resource, it is neither free nor unlimited. For this reason, it is not very helpful to think of groundwater as renewable, because the general public will confuse it with more common renewables such as wind and solar, which are free and unlimited. It is better the think of groundwater in terms of sustainability, so that we limit our use of it to the rate at which it is replenished.”

Tragic news 63 Canadians killed in plane crash near Tehran the cause of the crash not yet determined – please God it wasn’t a missile. We are told that many passengers were Iranian students coming to Canada to study. UPDATES: Airlines & Aviation 2018-2020; What we know about the Iran plane crash victims who were headed to Canada

Long reads
The Decline of Democracy in the 21st Century
By Dr. Rodrigue Tremblay
The observed decline of democracy in this century appears to be both an economic and a political problem. If the retreat from democracy is to be stopped and hopefully reversed, both economic and political solutions will have to be found. Complacency and denial could only make matters worse.
How Donald Trump thinks about Iran by Thomas Wright – a must-read analysis from the Brookings Institute.
A One-Word Accusation Swirls Around Trump’s Deadly Strike: Assassination
Allegations that killing Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani crossed a line draw on two definitions of the term — one legal, one colloquial — whose dissonance reveals how far executive power has expanded.
A single word has become a focal point of concerns about President Trump’s decision to kill Iran’s top general: assassination.There is no fixed, formal definition of assassination. But, as with many politically charged labels, the word has taken on significance broader than any one meaning, shorthand for concerns that Mr. Trump’s decision to kill Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani was unethical, illegitimate or dangerous.
The assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani could be Trump’s Chernobyl moment
The Trump administration’s assassination of Qassem Soleimani is turning into a man-made disaster, one with a fall out so potentially disastrous it cannot be obscured by lies and propaganda.
This has happened to governments before. In 1986 the nuclear accident at Chernobyl helped to break the USSR’s propaganda machine.
Thomas Friedman: Trump Kills Iran’s Most Overrated Warrior
Suleimani pushed his country to build an empire, but drove it into the ground instead.
A bigger foreign policy mess than anyone predicted Liberal internationalists striving for a freer, more cooperative world are faced with difficult questions, as 2020 sees nearly every region around the world and almost all major countries in a worse state than 10 years ago, argues Thomas Wright in The Atlantic.
My 2020 Existential Dread
By Ed Kilgore
Trump’s defenders are right that liberals are haunted by the outcome of the 2016 election and are determined to ensure it doesn’t happen again. But they are wrong in suggesting we don’t understand Trump supporters or the parts of the country (most intensely the southern part of the country, in which I was born and raised) where he is popular. I feel like I understand it entirely. But it remains hard to accept. Three years into his reign, it’s harder than ever to accept that so many wage earners lionize this billionaire surrounded by billionaires who has never sided with working people in any conflict with the malefactors of great wealth, or to accept that so many law-abiding people celebrate his lawlessness, or to accept that millions of Bible-believing Christians look at this heathenish bully who exemplifies every vice and form of idol worship the Good Book warns them about and see a redeemer.

Congratulations to Adam Daifallah and his colleagues on the acquisition of Hatley by Teneo, the global CEO advisory firm!
Brett House on CTV declares the outlook for 2020 as “meh”.

To lift your spirits
Leonard Cohen: ‘And now I’m going to tell you very briefly a story of how I got my song’, Prince of Asturias Awards – 2011
Woodland Creature Chorus performs Guerra guerra from Bellini’s Norma
Koala mittens and joey pouches: Australian bushfires spark global knitting frenzy
The Animal Rescue Craft Guild said on Monday it has been deluged with offers of help after putting out a call for volunteers to make bat wraps, joey pouches, birds nests, possum boxes, koala mittens and other snuggly homes for marsupials.

For your Calendar
20—24 January 2020
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”
27 January 2020 at 5 PM – 7:30 PM
Justin Trudeau & the Politics of Federalism
McGill Faculty Club
The panel will feature Chantal Hébert of the Toronto Star, Daniel Béland of MISC, Christopher Ragan of Max Bell and will be moderated by Jennifer Ditchburn of IRPP. There will be a cocktail following the panel. No admission charge, but you must
Register: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/justing-trudeau-and-the-politics-of-federalism-tickets-86919964955

And of course the Iowa caucuses on 3 February and New Hampshire Democratic Primary on 11 February

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm