Friday, November 27, 2015

Ignatius on the Coming Sunni-Shia War

David Ignatius has gone and offered up a solution to worldwide catastrophe I had not foreseen.  I thought the coming Sunni-Shia War was inevitable, and that today’s conflict in the Middle East would escalate to something like WWI or WWII, pulling in Europe and Russia, and of course, the U.S.  I saw the Bush/Cheney overthrow of Saddam as changing the balance of power in the Middle East and it kicked off the “legendary” Sunni-Shia War.  Like the breakdown in the power structure in Europe with the beginnings of WWI, a whole new order may be rising in the Middle East. 

Things now seem to be moving in that direction in the Middle East with the rise of ISIS out of another Sunni group like Al-Qaeda or the Taliban or whatever and the war that was always talked about and noted as legendary had become reality and seems to be the deciding factor in today’s Middle Eastern conflicts.  Whether it is ISIS or Syria or Iraq or Iran or the Kurds, the question is: are they Sunni or are they Shia? 

If you know that (Sunni or Shia?), you know who they are for or against.  Iran is predominately Shia – as is Assad in Syria – so they are supporting him.  Those opposing Syria are mostly Sunni.  The rebels in Yemen are Shia and Iran, which is Shia, is aiding them.  Fighting against the Yemen rebels, the Houthis who are Shia, is Saudi Arabia which is Sunni.  Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the other old monarchies which are Sunni offer moderate support to opposing ISIS because it is Sunni also and currently opposing Shia states, however they do see it as a threat to their current power status given ISIS’s claim for a caliphate state.

And this could all escalate into something much, much bigger.  However, in Ignatius’ column he offered up solutions that had solved similar problems in the past.  Ignatius offered up five times adversaries in a seemly intractable wars were able to sit down and negotiate not only a settlement to their current conflict but also set precedents that shaped history. 

One of those mentioned was the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.  Christians used to do as Muslim do today.  If you were not the right kind of Christian, you either had to change or die.  Coming at the end of the period of the Holy Roman Empire which sort of came after the final fall of Rome, this agreement marked the end of the Middle Ages.  This was followed by what is now called the Modern Era and especially the Renaissance.  I don’t know if resolving the Sunni-Shia conflict could result in a new Renaissance but you never can tell.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Trump Republic

Frank Rich has gone and done it again.  I don’t watch the debates because they are meaningless this far in advance of next year’s primaries.  But the constant news cycle organizations love them.   They are almost as good a news story as a sensational trial involving a young woman.
Trump is the big story this election cycle.  Not only his ability to attract crowds, poll numbers, and consternation of pundits and commentators, but his job on main line Republicans as well as Democrats.  The party’s traditional candidates as well as party bosses, hacks, and flunkies just don’t know what to do with or about him.  As Frank Rich noted, he has changed everything.
The Frankster rounds up the desperate opinions of Republican spin doctors such as Krauthammer and George Will and likens events to those in the previous rocky run up to selecting Romney four years ago.  Trump, the “counterfeit Republican”, is compared to infamous politician in history and literature.
As stated earlier and in a previous post, this may all be “much ado about nothing”, but it does make good TV, and when you live in a world of constant 24-hour TV, you got to have something to put on and the current Republican primary farce and whatever is going on in the House of Representatives is as good as it gets.
There is always the possibility that Trump has changed everything.  Given this is the season for saying something absurd; Joe Biden should have gotten in.  Frank Rich points out that Trump is saying what a lot of Republicans think and feel but would never say in public or use euphemisms to infer what Trump is saying bluntly.  The rank and file that do the 1%ers’ dirty work are eating it up.
This road show would really be something to watch should Trump not only get his party’s nomination but also win the Presidency.  Hillary has too much baggage to win and just about any Republican ought to be able to beat her, but they have a way losing what should be easily winnable.  Watching Trump deal with Congress would be better than any reality TV.
A big question hanging out there is the Republican Party headed the way of the Whig Party.  The demise of which led to the creation of the Republican Party in the 1850s.
That would be something to see, and of course, it would all be on TV, this time.