Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Pontevedra Pensées: 1.2.17

I've written before of the moribund state of Spain's small rural communities. Here's something on this from The Local.

Looking nationwide, here's El País in English on:-

One doesn't get the impression these reports will cause much of a stir in Spain. Or worry a government which hasn't shown an ounce of the political will required to deal with either of the issues. But gets away with it. So why should it? People in a democracy, they say, get the government they deserve. Never more true than in Spain, I suspect. Lovely people though they are.

And here's Don Quijones again on the Italian banking system. Always good for a laugh. Or a cry.

There's an article at the end of this post which picks up the point I made yesterday about Trump's anti-terrorist executive order being counter-productive. It's by a defence correspondent, so I suspect the writer knows what he's talking about. Though one can never be certain of this in today's media. At least it can't be dismissed as 'hysterical'.

It's been justifiably said that much of the reaction to Trump really is hysterical. And it's been justifiably asked what good all the street protests will actually do against a bullying narcissist and his like-minded cronies who wield so much direct and indirect power in Washington. But some light relief has come via a Guardian article cited by my friend Dwight, on the neologisms which Trump has inspired. See here for this. The best just has to be Vichy Republican, describing a Republican who supports Trump because it's expedient. Swallowing hard, no doubt.

Finally on Trump . . . A bit of that hysteria: It is racist, someone said of his measure. We Syrians are being targeted for our nationality and religion. Since when have nationality and religion been conterminous with race?

And finally on the USA . . .  Trump isn't the very worst thing about that wonderful country, of course. According to this report more than 25% of its benighted citizens believe that God determines the outcome of sports fixtures. Presumably depending on how many (good and bad?) people pray for him to exercise his power in their favour. Truly there's no limit to what we humans can believe. Hence fake news, of course.

Today's foto: With apologies for the fact it's a repeat, albeit on the topical Muslim theme . . .

Finally . . . With apologies for all those readers who won't know the chap . . . I loved this comment from the Parliamentary sketch-writer of The Times on a very English MP who talks like BBC announcers did in the 1930s and is everybody's idea of a 'toff': Jacob Rees-Mog always captures the zeitgeist, even if it is the zeitgeist of the mid 19th century. I love to see him on TV as he's actually quite funny. And not unintelligent. Plus he doesn't mind being laughed at.


Donald Trump stoking a clash of civilisations only plays into the hands of Islamist terrorists

Con Coughlin, Defence Editor, The Daily Telegraph

Ever since Islamist terror groups like al-Qaeda first launched themselves on the world stage with their unique brand of violence two decades ago, their principal aim has been to wreak mayhem in the Western world. The reason, for example, that law-abiding citizens are subjected to intrusive security checks every time they visit an airport is because of al-Qaeda’s novel use of liquid chemicals to detonate bombs on airborne aircraft.

The justification provided by intelligence-gathering agencies such as America’s National Security Agency and our own GCHQ for accessing private email accounts and mobile phones is their need to disrupt Islamist terror cells before plots come to fruition. Now American President Donald J. Trump has added further to the climate of hysteria that characterises the West’s response to Islamist-inspired terrorism with his blanket ban on people travelling from seven Muslim countries to the US.

The Trump administration no doubt believes that the ban will help to make America’s borders more secure, thereby protecting the American homeland against further acts of terrorism. The ban, moreover, has been implemented even though there appears to be scant evidence that any of the recent attacks in the US were carried out by terrorists travelling into the country from overseas.

The big concern, though, is the impact the ban will have on a country whose standing in the Muslim world has already been diminished by its handling of the recent conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
The high-handed manner in which the travel restrictions were announced, leading to large numbers of Muslim travellers with perfectly valid travel documents finding themselves stranded at US airports, is certainly going to make the Trump administration’s dealings with the world’s Muslim population a great deal more problematic.

Mr Trump’s cavalier behaviour could also have a negative effect his relationship with traditional allies such as Britain, where his proposed State Visit has already provoked an unprecedented storm of protest. The West is used to looking to Washington for strong and effective leadership. But if the perception takes root that Mr Trump is not up to the job, then the alliance becomes diminished as a consequence.

This is the narrative the terrorist masterminds of groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) will be hoping to establish when they exploit the fallout from the travel ban among the Muslim community. From the terrorists’ point of view, the more Mr Trump singles out the Muslim world for discriminatory measures, the easier it will be to recruit ostracised young Muslims to their ranks.

And in countries like Iraq, where the US-led coalition is working alongside predominantly Muslim Iraqi forces to defeat Isil, the perception that Washington is not interested in the plight of ordinary Iraqis is potentially counterproductive.

Many Iraqis have already made new lives for themselves in America because of the devastation wrought on their country by ill-conceived American policies during the past decade. Banning those who are supposed to be our allies from having similar opportunities gives the impression that Washington is only interested in defeating Isil, and has no interest in the long-term prospects of ordinary Iraqis.

There will also be disquiet that Mr Trump has, when imposing his ban, sought to distinguish between Muslim countries that are deemed to pose a threat to the US and those that are not. There is certainly an argument that closer scrutiny needs to be paid to visitors from countries like Syria and Yemen, where the leaders of Isil and al-Qaeda are known to be based. Yemeni based al-Qaeda terrorists were behind the ink cartridge bombs placed on a flight to Chicago in late 2010. But enhanced security measures were already in force before Mr Trump’s intervention, and it is hard to see how the blanket ban Mr Trump has imposed will make any tangible difference to the safety of ordinary Americans.

For the bottom line is that, if Mr Trump really is serious about wiping Isil “from the face of the Earth”, he will need the support of Muslims who are well-disposed to the West, as opposed to those who seek its destruction.

A key factor behind the success of the military campaign to drive Isil out of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, has been the local knowledge provided by Iraqi fighters, who are better able to distinguish between non-combatants and militants.

This type of input will also be essential when the coalition focuses more of its effort on driving Isil from Raqqa, its stronghold in northern Syria. Libya is another country where input from local Muslims will be vital to stabilising the country. Maintaining a constructive relationship with the Muslim world is, therefore, very much in the interests of America and its allies.

So the next time Mr Trump wants to take an impromptu decision, he should avoid making one that upsets our friends and strengthens our enemies.


Maria said...

Corruption has been a part of life in Spain since the Romans. If a Celt knew a guy who knew a Roman, a gold armlet could always change hands in the interest of the said Celt and his brigands not being chased off the local Roman road, probably. The Spanish have, sadly, learned to expect corruption throughout the ages. That's why so many want to participate in public life - to get their own piece of the pie.

Sierra said...

Official revised completion date for Madrid-Galicia AVE - 2019 - surprise

Sierra said...

...however, it could be 2022:

"La viceportavoz parlamentaria del PSdeG, Patricia Vilán, ha considerado este miércoles "irreal" el nuevo plazo ofrecido por el Ministerio de Fomento para la llegada del AVE a Galicia. "Como mínimo será 2022", ha dicho, contradiciendo así la estimación de 2019, pues "no se incluye" el tramo Taboadela-Ourense."

Bill said...

Jacob Rees-Mogg, apart from being rather "far back", and being a wit and much cleverer than most other contemporary politicians, is also a very successful and astute investor and businessman. I doubt very much if his parliamentary remuneration is an essential component of his income, although no doubt nice to have. He also has the reputation of being a very good constituency MP.

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