Thursday, December 25, 2008
World news roundup for Christmas Day
Ah, Christmas morning - for a Jew, it's a day when you are guaranteed to have time to enjoy the coffee and the paper to your heart's content. No pressing errands, no sports to tune in; a nice, relaxing morning is a virtual certainty.
So, today I use this time to catch up on events from around this lovely little planet of ours (or not, if Keanu Reeves is to be believed), and the usual spots are all popping as much as ever.
In the Middle East - which, on Christmas Day ought to be a quiet, contemplative spot, but never is - Israel and Hamas are supposedly attempting to renew the recently-expired truce in and around Gaza. Someone (Good Lord, it couldn't be anyone from Hamas, now could it?) is tossing rocket after rocket into the Negev and southern Israel. The Israelis are trying to turn the other cheek, but the picture in this morning's DMN is of crying Israeli children running from a blast site. I remind you that Israel is a modern, democratic, industrialized nation, not unlike Western Europe in terms of lifestyle of its people. Do you think the Italians or the Danes would sit still for neighbors firing explosive devices across the border at their populaces? I know this is not an apples-to-apples comparison, but its not as far off as some of the Palestinian apologists would have you believe.
Long story short, it appears a military move is likely on the Israelis side. Another useless intervention which will further embitter the civilians on both sides and lead to more "Israeli butcher" headlines in the Euro and Arab press.
Will Obama be the game-changer here? It's hard to imagine how, and I STILL don't really understand his position on this one. But there sure isn't any hope anywhere else at the moment.
In southern Africa, Desmond Tutu has called for Mugabe's removal, by force if necessary, and has bashed his own government for sitting on its hands. The cholera news hasn't improved one bit, nor will it. Mbeki clearly isn't making any difference, and clearly won't unless someone lights a bonfire under his a**. And the rest of the world just doesn't have enough at stake to do more than make some noise and levy questionably-effective sanctions. Is it hopeless? No, Zimbabweans have been thru plenty of tough times, although nothing like this in the past 100+ years, and the place is at least still in the news, even if it page 17A of the DMN.
Up on the Horn of Africa, Somalia's warlord-turned-statesman (WHAT?) president Abdullahi Yusuf may or may not be stepping down, which may or may not either kick off full-scale civil war or pave the way for a unity government. This full-scale civil war sort of intrigues me. What, exactly, has been going on in Somalia for the past 20 years if it wasn't full-scale civil war?
The only reason Somalia hasn't become Helmand-South is, I think, it's too hot even for Al Qaeda. Think about that for a moment - the most effective international terror organization in the history of the world hasn't moved into a lawless, ungoverned, wide-open spot in a meaningful way because even they can't be sure they can protect themselves effectively.
That, my friends, is a FAILED state.
In slightly lesser news, some unknown Army captain (a CAPTAIN?) marched into Conakry at the head of a few thousand troops and announced himself as the new Grand Poobah of Guinea. This west African nation had been something of a quiet spot amidst the regional fireworks of the past 25 years, mostly because Dictator for Life Lansana Conte had kept his boot on the the lid pretty firmly. Conte recently keeled over, and now it's the traditional Sub-Saharan Africa scramble, with the guy who has the most guns and the least compunction about using them winning. The US is "examining options", which I take to mean we, at the senior State Dept level, don't know what the hell is going on there at the moment, and don't care too terribly much either.
Yes, indeed, the World pages do make for interesting reading. Count your blessings, fellow Americanos. We're in the midst of relatively tough times, but its one HELL of a lot worse in many, many places this Dec 25.