As the US election process approaches its endgame, there are growing fears that the candidate whom many see as the less attractive of the two available options will end up winning.
This is a legitimate fear. Nobody thought that Donald Trump would end up as the Republican presidential nominee when the whole process began. And given that Hillary Clinton is not exactly the most popular of Democrat nominees, the fears are even greater now that her opponent may end up being inaugurated on January 20.
But in the process, simple logic appears to have deserted the so-called thinking classes in the US and in many other countries. Journalists, politicians, community leaders, sportspeople – they all seem to think that if they speak out about the foibles they see as being the entirety of Trump, then they will be able to influence others to come over to their side and ensure a Clinton win. Continue reading “Logic will not help to defeat Trump”
It is difficult to think that a company like Comedy Central, which has been so successful in commissioning comedy shows that satirise the news, could make a mistake like it did in 2015 when it let Jon Stewart go with an election around the corner.
It is impossible to believe that the company could not have persuaded Stewart to stick on and go after the November 8 voting took place this year. Perhaps it thought that its choice of replacement, South African Trevor Noah, would be able to find his groove after a few months.
In media outlets here and there, the reason advanced for bringing in a younger host is said to be the need to attract a younger audience; the argument made is that Stewart’s audience was mostly a 45+ demographic while Noah, just 31 at the time he took over, would pull in the crowd below 40, a group that the management deems to be a wealthier demographic and what it needs as it looks to the future. Continue reading “Comedy Central screwed up badly by appointing Trevor Noah”
Right now, the whole of the US seems to be obsessed with Donald Trump, someone who was never considered likely to be a challenger for the Republican nomination for this year’s general election.
In the process, the US has forgotten that it claims to be a democracy. Trump may not be the best person to be a candidate for the presidency but then in a democratic system, the people’s choice is meant to prevail.
A reforming prime minister. Or a reforming president. That’s what many people think nearly every country in the world needs.
That’s why, when election time comes around, those of us who are interested in the politics of the people who rule us tend to ask what changes this man or this woman will bring. And the people we vote for will ultimately be the ones who say they will bring about the changes that we think are good for our nation. Selfish changes often, but changes nevertheless.
Only, we do not realise that reforming leaders are never going to get going once they are in the seat of power. You don’t have to live in a country that has been around for thousands of years, you could be in the US which is just 238 years old. There are so many vested interests in the system surrounding government at all levels that reform is well-nigh impossible. Continue reading “We don’t want no reforming leaders”
WHEN the United States talks about coalitions, one should realise that it is all about finance. Not about bringing together countries to fight a war together.
Back in 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, George Bush Senior put his foot in it by threatening never to take it lying down. He was forced to go to war, reluctantly. But his secretary of state James Baker made things worthwhile by bringing together a bunch of nations who were prepared to pick up the bills. Continue reading “America forms coalitions to make money”
They call them anti-terror raids, though one has to ask seriously whether they are stopping anything at all. An idle conversation where a man who is worked up blurts out, “I would like to shove a bomb up his arse” can always be interpreted by an over-zealous, dumb police officer as a terror threat.
AT THE end of World War I, many ethnic groups were able to get a patch of land for themselves, with the area and population therein largely dependent on the extent to which they had pleased the imperial powers that came out as victors of that war – France and Britain.
The Kurds were one group that missed the bus and ended up scattered over four countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. They are a restless lot and the countries in which they lived often had to keep them quiet by one means or another.
The late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein gave them a limited measure of autonomy. But there was always the implicit understanding that if the Kurds got too ambitious, then they would be met with blanket slaughter. Dictators like Saddam — and his neighbour, the late Hafez al-Assad of Syria — do not do things by half-measures and for years the Kurds were content to remain within their allocated freedoms. Continue reading “America’s Kurdish adventure will end in tears”
I KID you not. This was a serious question put to David Kilcullen, a so-called counter-insurgency expert, by Emma Alberici, one of the most glorious examples of incompetence at the Australian national broadcaster.
Now Alberici, one would assume, has some idea about the size of the Middle East. One would also assume that she is aware that in no conflict has air power, no matter how awesome, been able to drive an enemy out of a battle zone.
How did she ask such a dumb question?
Despite her stupidity, this is the woman chosen to front one of the ABC’s national programmes twice or thrice a week. She draws a salary of around $190,000 per annum and sits there, tilting her head from side to side, and asking stupid questions. And this is not the first time I have had occasion to point this out.
The discussion revolved around the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – which now calls itself Islamic State – a militant group which has made rapid gains in taking over towns and cities in Iraq, and some parts of Syria. It is also fighting in the south of Lebanon. The US has launched air strikes on the group to protect minority sects which are being terrorised and fleeing their residences.
The choice of Kilcullen to discuss matters relating to militancy is questionable. According to a genuine expert, Kilcullen was one of those, who along with John Nagl and other counter-insurgency “experts”, devised a strategy in Afghanistan that aimed to unite Afghans by trying to Westernise them via popular elections, installing women’s rights, dismantling tribalism, introducing secularism and establishing NGO-backed bars and whorehouses in Kabul. When the West finally leaves that war-torn country later this year, the Taliban will be back within another six months.
But let’s leave that alone; maybe the choice of Kilcullen was made by someone else. However, no matter who chooses the guest to be interviewed, it is the presenter’s choice to do some preparation and not end up looking stupid. Alberici is a master of the art of putting her foot in her mouth.
A week ago, a young man named Steve Cannane presented Lateline. He had as his guest Martin Chulov, the Middle East correspondent for the Guardian. Chulov is an old hand in the Mideast and very sound on the subject. Cannane did not put a foot wrong; he had prepared well and asked intelligent questions. The whole interview was gripping and highly informative stuff.
And then we have Alberici. Why, oh why, can the ABC not find a better presenter? In the past, the likes of Maxine McKew and Virginia Trioli were excellent presenters on the same programme; Tony Jones does an adequate job on other nights of the week now.
What is the hold that Alberici has on the ABC top brass? She was a miserable failure at hosting a programme called Business Breakfast which gave many people indigestion. For that, she has been made the presenter of what is arguably the ABC’s second-most important news and current affairs programme after 7.30. At the ABC, it would appear, nothing succeeds like failure.