On the international stage, the players act — the big news is an energy agreement between the US and China, and Russia and China, a new ‘Cold War’, memories of old wars, negotiations to prevent future war, then more…
The historic agreement in China between the two largest producers (40%) of global greenhouse emissions elicits surprise at first (with no announcement of a pending agreement before the meeting between Obama and Xi), then produces days of international stories as media, environmental/public interest groups and political forces react.
After the announcement in Beijing and rare, joint press conference, the gathered reporters fed media outlets and tens of thousands of Internet sites. It’s a connected global world…
All the while, Russia’s Putin was there too and in his meetings another history-making energy deal was announced, this to supply Russian oil/gas to China’s rapidly expanding, and strategically demanding, economy. The recent fall of oil/gas prices, escalating conflict between Russia and the west in Ukraine, Europe and across growing theaters, w/ accompanying trade/banking sanctions, is pushing Putin to shore up his China connection.
A Financial Times/UK headline captures the moment —
Putin builds China links as ties with west fray…
The UK Telegraph zeroes in on an MOU signed in Beijing – When Vladimir Putin met China’s president Xi Jinping on Sunday, a memorandum of understanding for a second massive gas supply deal caught most of the attention.
Speaking at a symposium near the Brandenburg Gate yesterday morning, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the world was “on the brink of a new cold war” and strongly criticised the west for having sown the seeds of the current crisis by mishandling the fallout from the collapse of the iron curtain.
Previously an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, Gorbachev backed the current Russian president’s stance over Ukraine, urging western leaders to “consider carefully” Putin’s recent remarks at the Valdai forum: “Despite the harshness of his criticism of the west, and of the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership.”
The Russia-Insider put a point of inflection on Gorby’s remarks by illustrating the complexity of the Ukraine conflict via a map of predominant languages spoken.
and, in Berlin, a Site Art project marks the Berlin wall on the 25th anniversary of its demolishing, preceding the fall of the Soviet Union. History-in-the-making, east and west…
Continuing w/ art site installations, and reflecting on this past week’s Armistice Day in the US and UK in remembrance of the end of WW1 and, as of 1954 in the US renamed Veteran’s Day, here is a profoundly moving memorial that recalls the famous poem about Flanders fields. The slaughter there is history but the memory remains.
As the British empire bled away, as in the red of the poppies coming from the London crown castle, those who stood against WW1 in the UK are lonely voices in history. D.H. Lawrence, as opposition to his anti-war point of view grew, a “war of machines” and bodies caught up as he wrote, eventually he had to leave his home and the Island kingdom and then in Italy and New Mexico, on an isolated ranch near Taos, he continued to write. Posterity now shows the cost of the war he so vigorously opposed as he attempted to write about sensuality and life. And history, and its lessons, moves on…
Let’s move on to strict religious society, to “red lines” and proverbial negotiating, strategic demands etched as lines that cannot be crossed, in this case, nuclear lines.
Evidently a Twitter account serves as a channel of communication of red lines, delivered from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the world. It is difficult to understand why or what is intended in this message and accompanying infographic, but here it is…
The laying out of “red lines” in advance of the Oman round of negotiations contains warnings that can escalate into full-blown war, and tactical nuclear strikes by the US and Israel, as the Iranian nuclear sites, to an extent, are within underground, mountain-covered facilities.
The bellicose threats, from numerous fronts, address the importance of negotiations. The talks could be extended but the “red lines” will have to move if the parties to the talks are to find a diplomatic solution.
Approximately 4 billion dollars were spent, most in negative campaigning. This comes after six years of a historically obstructive Congress. The political reality in Washington DC and, for the most part across the US, is ‘opposition politics’, attack ads, concerted use of talking points, talk radio as a conduit for political opposition, and resulting dysfunctional government (polling approval of Congress hovering at approx 15%.) Low-voter turnout is one result of negative-focused politics. Another result beyond apathy and dis-engagement is a populace that is distrustful, angry, cynical, the future of the national US interests wavers as positions harden.
It should be recalled that over 30% of Americans describe themselves as “independent.” Polls for the past decades in the US regularly point out an increasing share of the electorate (and non-registered citizens eligible to vote) who have opted out of the two-party system. Although US election laws act, unlike most all of the democratic, industrial nations, to limit political races to one of two parties (even as the Libertarian and Green parties have moved to challenge the ‘duopoly’ of US elections), the independent vote continues as a ‘swing vote.’
An independent point of view potentially carries the seeds of a more functional government, as ‘wave elections’ eventually come to be recognized for the frustration of voters (and non-voters) and a desire for more functional, effective government translates to campaign, electoral reform.
We move on…
Again, looking at the Mideast, a very unusual development in Israel that holds potential for re-direction of policy and, with re-direction of policy, an opportunity to see contours of a negotiated peace agreement.
The odds, of course, do not favor peace-makers or peace-making but the fact that war-makers are stepping up to offer peace-proposals carries a message in itself.
106 IDF Ex-Generals, Spy Chiefs Urge New Peace Bid
A study at Princeton University estimates that the U.S. spent $6.8 trillion dollars from 1976 to 2007—three percent of its total GDP—defending oil shipments in the Persian Gulf. If the U.S. government hadn’t spent that money defending Middle Eastern seaways and instead invested far less than the average $225 billion per year at home, we would be oil independent.
While oil politics plays out, costs add up…
Maybe some answers are close at hand, closer than we realize?