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“He took off the Kremlin dog collar,” explained a friend of Mikhail Prokhorov, Russia’s third-richest man, as the political party Prokhorov had founded to run against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the December elections blew up in his face last week.
Writing recently in the Washington Post, Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser at the Rand Corporation think tank, claimed that the 9-11 attacks 10 years ago were not a strategic success for al-Qaida. He’s right. Osama bin Laden’s strategy did fail, in the end — but not for the reason that Jenkins thinks.
In war, the moral is to the physical as three to one, said Napoleon, and the Libyan rebels certainly demonstrated the truth of that. Gaddafi had more soldiers, they were better trained and much better armed, and they did not lack courage. But the rebels firmly believed that they were bound to win, and once Gaddafi’s troops also became infected with that belief their resistance collapsed.
“I don’t call it rioting, I call it an insurrection of the masses of the people. It is happening in Syria, it is happening in Clapham, it’s happening in Liverpool, it’s happening in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and that is the nature of the historical moment,” said Darcus Howe, a black British journalist, in an interview with BBC television on Tuesday. The revolution has finally arrived: after the “Arab Spring”, here comes the “English Spring”.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman nailed it right away: “Basically the Republicans (said) we’ll blow up the world economy unless you give us exactly what we want, and the president said, OK. That’s what happened.”
Panic makes people stupid. It would be very stupid, for example, for the former editor of a British national newspaper, facing probable criminal charges for bribing policemen and illegally accessing the voice-mail of several thousand people, to put her computer and various incriminating papers in a large plastic bag and dump them in a garbage bin in a parking garage within a few metres of her London home.
The troika hurtles across the frozen plain. The wolves are close behind, and from time to time a peasant is hurled from the sleigh in the hope of letting the more important people escape. But nothing distracts the pack for long, not even when the occupants of the sleigh move up the pecking order and throw a couple of minor aristocrats to the wolves.
The deadline is now July 3. That’s when the European Union’s finance ministers meet again, days after the Greek parliament passed legislation mandating 28 billion euros of spending cuts and tax rises over the next five years. The legislation means each of the 10 million Greeks will ultimately be about 2,800 euros (US $4,000) poorer.
The “Prague Spring” of 1968 was a gallant attempt at a non-violent democratic revolution, but it was crushed by Soviet tanks. Eighteen years later, in the Philippines, the first “people-power” revolution succeeded, and since 1986 non-violent revolutions have driven a great many dictators from power. The most recent was in Egypt, in February — but there never was a guarantee that these revolutions would turn out well.
President Ali Abdullah al-Saleh, in power in Yemen for the past 33 years and under siege for the past three months, left the country on Saturday night with a large piece of shrapnel lodged just below his heart. He may not come back.
Ding, dong, the witch is dead. Osama bin Laden, the author of the 9/11 atrocity in the United States and various lesser terrorist outrages elsewhere, has been killed by American troops in his hideout in northern Pakistan. At last, the world can breathe more easily. But not many people were holding their breaths anyway.
Something remarkable happened in Mexico this month. Tens of thousands of Mexicans gathered in the main squares of cities across the country to demand an end to the “war on drugs.” In the Zocalo, in the heart of Mexico City, they chanted “no more blood,” and many called for the resignation of President Felipe Calderon, who launched the current war by deploying the army against the drug cartels in late 2006.
It’s not much as anniversaries go, but most of us won’t be around in 50 years, so we’ll have to settle for the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. The groups who re-enact Civil War battles were out in force on April 12, but does it matter to anybody else?
Why is India’s future brighter than China’s, especially in a warming world? Because India has more good agricultural land per person. That will get more and more important as the temperature goes up.
Suppose that a giant hydro dam had crumbled under the impact of the biggest earthquake in a century and sent a wave of water racing down some valley in northern Japan.
In his first public comment on the unfolding drama in Egypt, Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, worried aloud last week that the right analogy may be the Iranian revolution of 1979: “Our real fear is of a situation ... which has already developed in several countries including Iran itself, repressive regimes of radical Islam.”
It was the Egyptian army’s statement that brought it all back: “To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people ... have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people.” In other words, go ahead and overthrow President Hosni Mubarak. It’s all right with us.