The end of the state in the Middle East

Lehigh professor Henry J. Barkey points out that the institution of the nation-state is virtually unraveling in the Middle East, with central governments being unable to enforce their laws within its borders, being replaced with local warlords, factional militias, and cross-border organizations such as ISIS. [Read more...]

Zombie democracy

Christopher Walker tells how authoritarian governments are trying to make themselves seem legitimate by constructing a facade of democracy, complete with (fixed) elections, (controlled) news organizations, and even government-sponsored non-governmental organizations, such as human rights groups, election monitors, and environmental groups–all of which work to make the dictators look good and are wreaking havoc in the U.N. and international conferences. [Read more...]

Earthquake catastrophe in Nepal

A massive earthquake, hitting 7.8 on the Richter scale, hit Nepal, killing at last count some 2,500 people.  Avalanches in the Himalayas wiped out whole villages, as well as a base camp of mountain climbers on Mt. Everest.  To help go here. [Read more...]

Congress & Netanyahu defy Obama

The Executive branch is supposed to conduct the nation’s foreign policy.  But the congressional Republican leadership i invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.  President Obama was not so much as informed, so he refused to meet the leader of one of America’s top allies in the Middle East.  And Prime Minister Netanyahu took the occasion to try to go over the President’s head by asking Congress not to go along with President Obama’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, insisting that the proposed deal will mean nuclear weapons for Iran, threatening Israel’s survival.  (I suspect Israel is also nervous that the U.S. may be tilting to the Shi’ites in hopes they can stop the Sunni ISIS.)

What do you think about all of this?  Whatever you think about the issues involved and whatever side you come down on, is this not an embarrassing example of our government’s disorder and dysfunction? [Read more...]

“Oppressive chocolate capitalists” from “the romantic industrial complex”

Japanese protesters will hold a march in Tokyo against St. Valentine’s Day, contending that it is a plot by “oppressive chocolate capitalists” from “the romantic industrial complex.”  The organizers are a group that calls itself the Revolutionary Alliance of Men that Women Find Unattractive.  The contention is that, following Marxist analysis, romantic attractiveness is a function of class oppression.

I know, I know, it sounds bogus, or at least tongue in cheek.  But the group is being covered as legitimate by the Washington Post and Japanese media. [Read more...]

Europe’s politics defy “left” and “right”

The Greeks, tired of the European Union’s “austerity” programs, elected a far-left government.  But observers are confused about how it is allying itself with far-right–even fascist–parties.  Also how the new Greek government is adopting pro-Russian, pro-Putin policies.

Anne Applebaum points out how “left” and “right” political categories don’t really apply in Europe anymore.  “The real division in Europe,” she says, ” is between what I would call established, integrationist politics and isolationist, nationalist politics.” [Read more...]