Tuesday 8 October 2019

Bad decision

Melanie Phillips has written the most eloquent summary of Trump’s latest (disastrous) foreign policy decision you’re likely to see anywhere.  Never mind the BBC. Just go to Melanie. Her analysis is more perceptive and wide-angled than anything that might emerge out of the BBC’s narrow, default TDS prism. (I can’t stomach the BBC at the moment) 
If I change my mind I'll let you know. Maybe.


  1. "But some, like the fanatics in Tehran, can never be bought off; they have to be fought and defeated instead."

    So is Melanie Phillips volunteering to fight personally or suggesting the British Army takes on Iran or just volunteering poor American kids to go fight?

    Whose the bad guy here? Is Saudi Arabia really any better than Iran? Does it really like us any more than Iran? Turkey, Iran and Saudi all have something in common...

    The truth is that Israel is in an extremely precarious position, long term, whatever the USA does. The Novichok attack in the UK should underline just how vulenrable civilised societies are to people who recognise no civilised limits to their actions. The fact Israel have seriously been considering annexing a large chunk of the West Bank doesn't fill me with any great desire to risk our soldiers in that area.

    Whether Trump's action will prove wise or not, I do not know. I do know that the "West" (including the UK) have never had any intention of recognising an independent Kurdistan.

    1. The way I see it, Melanie Phillips is neither volunteering to fight personally nor suggesting anyone’s poor kids go and fight on our behalf (not in this instance at any rate.)

      The ‘poor kids’ argument could equally apply to all military interventions. Also, one isn’t necessarily obliged to provide a perfect risk-free solution before analysing or criticising a wrong-headed policy.

      The nub of the problem is ideological. Therefore It transcends reason and suggests that Iran is unlikely to be deterred by militaristic threats. Melanie writes:

      “But some, like the fanatics in Tehran, can never be bought off; they have to be fought and defeated instead. […] When he realised he couldn’t do so, his reaction was not to defeat it by other means but to turn his back.”

      I take ‘other means’ to be Trump’s original policy - imposing crippling sanctions and withholding the financial ‘incentives’ that Obama had devised in order to ‘incentivise' the mad Mullahs to abide by the deal. (As if)

      Ideally, that policy would lead to the downfall of the Mullahs and encourage the existing embryonic resistance within the Iranian population.

      Now he seems to have abandoned it and his decision to ‘pull out’ effectively throws the Kurds under the bus. It’s the vacillating that’s particularly alarming.

      Lyse Doucet seems to think Trump’s latest policy is not so disastrous after all. Maybe he’s changed his mind already?

      I think that any allegiance between the West and Saudi Arabia is a matter of ‘realpolitik’ rather than good and bad guys.

      The proposal to annex part of the West Bank doesn’t seem to have boosted Netanyahu’s popularity, so it looks unlikely that it will happen.

    2. Yes, but she doesn't call the Saudis fanatics when they are. Saudi Arabia still officially doesn't all any Jew to live in its land, no exceptions. It still crucifies people as a punishment when not sentencing them to 1000 lashes for a bit of social satire on the internet. Anyone possessing a Bible outside a compound in Saudi Arabia is automatically guilty of an offence.

      I think Trump is doing good in several ways and make the following observations:

      1. He has demonstrated the USA is totally committed to support for Israel. In fact I think he's gone to far in not condemning plans for annexation of parts of the West Bank.

      2. Trump has already imposed very severe sanctions on Tehran - and also effectively made other countries join in those sanctions. It's the EU that have opposed that.

      3. Trump has made the USA energy independent - that is the best way to defeat all the extremists in the area.

  2. Lyse Doucet was telling us today that Trump should listen to his State Department.

    Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing and expecting different results. The US State Department (like our own FCO) runs on rails. Trump is a disrupter. Maybe his plan is to get other parties involved instead of the US doing the dirty work again and again? Maybe.
    At the very least it might kick off some new thinking.


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