Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Gordon Campbell on wondering what to do with Putin and IS

Gordon Campbell on the West’s existential crisis about what to do with Putin, and the Islamic State

Say one thing for Russian President Vladimir Putin. At least he’s given NATO a purpose in life. Right now, that consists of being something that Barack Obama and David Cameron can hide behind, point at Putin, and say : “Go get him, tiger.” Just what NATO is supposed to do about Putin’s armed advance into eastern Ukraine is less than clear. But there is a lot of “steely determination” around in high places.

What else? Of late Obama and Cameron have been busily engaged in writing furious op-eds about the state of the world in The Times and Obama has been deploying his famous rhetoric : “We stand with the people of Estonia ! “etc. Surprisingly, it isn’t having any noticeable effect. The Russians and their rebel allies are rolling back the Ukrainian government troops around Donetsk, and seem about to re-take the airport and a strategic port. Clearly, the Kremlin hasn’t been keeping up its subscription to The Times. Oh, there are EU economic sanctions and they seem to be biting. But as this article asks – what happens if Putin simply doesn’t care about the economic pain that other Russians may have to endure?

In the other big problem area – what to do about the Islamic State? – Obama has if anything, been even more indecisive. Two weeks ago, Martin Dempsey, the chairman of his Joint Chiefs of Staff gave a pretty clear rationale for US strikes within Syria:
To your question, can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria? The answer is no," Dempsey said. "That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border."

Obama though still can’t seem to make up his mind about the wisdom of air strikes within Syria. He’s catching a lot of flak for it. Its not as if the heavy artillery - Thomas Friedman of the New York Timesisn’t calling for action: “I’m all in on destroying ISIS.” Thanks, Tom. (But he’s cool about it only like, if there’s a coalition of some sort. Somehow.) Is this all sounding a bit like 1938 and Czechoslovakia, and the dithering then about what to do about that other guy with ambitions ?

If so, this piece on the Foreign Policy website suggests that the movie we should all be watching these days is The Wizard of Oz. Not only because it’s the 75th anniversary of the film’s release, but because it is (arguably) a thinly veiled parable of the politics of Europe : with the munchkins as stand-ins for the Czechoslovakians/Ukrainians and you-know-who as the Wicked Witch. Lets hope that in the Emerald City of Washington, the White House Wizard isn’t just hiding behind a curtain, pulling on levers. So far, the only good thing about the rise of the Islamic State is that – with all those Chechens fighting alongside the jihadis – their success is a problem for Vladimir Putin as well.


Dangerous Days. While The Wizard of Oz may be the template for geo-politics then and now, the soundtrack is… well, what about this new single from the soon-to-be released album by Russian-American Goth princess Zola Jesus?


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Binoy Kampmark: Funeral Rites For COVID Zero
It was such a noble public health dream, even if rather hazy to begin with. Run down SARS-CoV-2. Suppress it. Crush it. Or just “flatten the curve”, which could have meant versions of all the above. This created a climate of numerical sensitivity: a few case infections here, a few cases there, would warrant immediate, sharp lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, the closure of all non-vital service outlets... More>>

Dunne Speaks: 25 Years Of MMP - And The Government Wants To Make It Harder For Small Parties
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the New Zealand’s first MMP election. Over the last quarter century, the MMP electoral system has led to our Parliament becoming more socially and ethnically diverse, more gender balanced, and to a wider spread of political opinion gaining representation. Or, as one of my former colleagues observed somewhat ruefully at the time, Parliament starting to look a little more like the rest of New Zealand... More>>

Eric Zuesse: China Says U.S.-China War Is Imminent

China has now publicly announced that, unless the United States Government will promptly remove from China’s Taiwan province the military forces that it recently sent there, China will soon send military forces into that province, because, not only did the U.S. secretly send “special operations forces” onto that island... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>



Our Man In Washington: Morrison’s Tour Of Deception

It was startling and even shocking. Away from the thrust and cut of domestic politics, not to mention noisy discord within his government’s ranks, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison could breathe a sign of relief. Perhaps no one would notice in Washington that Australia remains prehistoric in approaching climate change relative to its counterparts... More>>



Binoy Kampmark: Melbourne Quake: Shaken, Not Stirred

It began just after a news interview. Time: a quarter past nine. Morning of September 22, and yet to take a sip from the brewed Turkish coffee, its light thin surface foam inviting. The Australian city of Melbourne in its sixth lockdown, its residents fatigued and ravaged by regulations. Rising COVID-19 numbers, seemingly inexorable... More>>