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Tag: Kerry

The Terrible Cost of Obama’s Failure in Syria

Tuesday, 10 April, 2018 0 Comments

That’s the title of Kathy Gilsinan’s excoriating article in The Atlantic, which was, and is, an Obama-friendly publication. But there comes a time when the most loyal subjects and supporters have to face the truth, even when it is painful, and this is very, very painful, indeed. Snippet:

Four years ago, it almost looked as if chemical attacks on Syrian civilians would stop. “We struck a deal where we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out,” declared then-Secretary of State John Kerry on Meet the Press in 2014. Kerry was referring to Bashar al-Assad’s declared stockpiles of chemical weapons which, under a 2013 deal struck by the Obama administration following a sarin nerve gas attack that brought the U.S. to the brink of striking Syrian government forces, were dismantled and shipped out of the country.

But there were two important and deadly loopholes. The first was that Assad did not declare everything—a reality that Kerry acknowledged in a farewell memo to staff, in which he wrote that “unfortunately other undeclared chemical weapons continue to be used ruthlessly against the Syrian people.” The second was that chlorine gas, which has legitimate civilian uses, was not part of the deal. The Syrian American Medical Society and the White Helmets civil-defense group have documented 200 chemical attacks in Syria since 2012, many involving chlorine.

At the time, those familiar with the ways of the Syrian tyrant knew that this was a rotten deal. Yes, Damascus gave up some material to make it look like it was complying and the Washington spin-doctors were able to sell the story that Obama and Kerry had done something heroic, but Assad was left with an intact chemical arsenal. Terrible.


Gin of the week: Dingle

Wednesday, 26 July, 2017 0 Comments

Remember the real estate mantra? Location, location, location. And when it comes to location, the town of Dingle has it tripled. Perched on the edge of the Atlantic in Ireland’s southwest, picturesque Dingle looks out across the water to the Blasket Islands and further beyond, America. Geography is destiny and the locals know how to make full use of their good luck. By the way, although Dingle is one of Ireland’s largest Gaeltacht towns, its people voted to retain the name Dingle rather than the officially sanctioned — and signposted — Gaelige of “An Daingean”. Branding is destiny, too.

Would all those Dingle tourists like to take away a bottle of gin infused with wild Kerry flowers and hints of rugged Kingdom heather? Liam La Hart and Oliver Hughes, founders of the hugely successful Porterhouse Brewery chain, thought so and thus was Dingle Gin initiated and distilled. The juniper element is pure London Dry and the Irish botanicals include rowan berries, fuchsia and hawthorn. Present, too, are angelica and coriander. In every sense, this is a glocal gin.

Jette Virdi, who describes herself as “a food stylist, workshop host and a mentor for big hearted creatives”, drinks her Dingle Gin with thyme and tonic. Sláinte!

Note: Dingle is the third in a gin series that began with Blackwater No. 5 and continued with Friedrichs.


Gin of the week: Blackwater No.5

Thursday, 13 July, 2017 1 Comment

Famed for its salmon runs, the Blackwater River rises on the Cork-Kerry border and flows east into Waterford before entering the Celtic Sea area of the Atlantic Ocean at Youghal. Along its meander, it passes by the town of Cappoquin, home of the Blackwater Distillery, which produces Blackwater No. 5, a recent addition to the Irish gin spectrum.

Before the botanicals, the optics. The elegant rectangular bottle comes with an embedded map of the region. This attractive detail is an argument for repurposing the bottle as a paperweight or a container for a sprig of juniper. And talking of juniper, it’s very up-front here, along with hints of lemon balm, lavender and lots of other delicate botanicals. The result is a subtle, serious gin that rewards regular tasting. Those looking for a refreshing twist on the traditional G&T might consider a decent measure of Blackwater No. 5 with a slice of pink grapefruit and a top-up of Poacher’s Well tonic water from nearby Wexford. Now we’re hurlin’, as they say in the sunny South-East.

Blackwater No.5


That Syrian, er, surrender. Whose idea was it?

Monday, 16 September, 2013 0 Comments

“This is a victory for Syria won thanks to our Russian friends.” Who speaks there? None other than Ali Haidar, leader of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, whose business card is embossed with the surreal title of “Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs”.

Speaking about the Kerry-Obama diplomatic triumph in Geneva, Haidar told the Russian state news agency Ria Novosti that it was “the achievement of the Russian diplomacy and the Russian leadership.” Given that Syria is now a Russian protectorate, he would say that, wouldn’t he? But a less partisan observer might be disinclined to agree. Rainy Day has identified three non-Russian contenders for the “Syrian surrender” prize. Let’s start with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Last Monday in London, Kerry was asked by a reporter whether there was anything the Assad regime could do to avoid a US military strike. “Sure, he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it without delay and allow the full and total accounting [of it], but he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done,” said Kerry.

“If the establishment of international control over chemical weapons in that country would allow avoiding strikes, we will immediately start working with Damascus,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, gleefully running with the Kerry remark, and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem toadfully piped up that his government “agreed to the Russian initiative,” adding that Syria did so to “uproot US aggression.”

Clearly, the Russians were playing opportunist here and Kerry was speaking off-the-cuff so the prize goes to neither. Step up, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and cue Twitter:

Sikorski told reporters that he had “proposed the ultimatum” to John Kerry after getting the support of the European People’s Party during a meeting in Vilnius, and he had also tweeted at the end of August that “Russia can possibly prevent war be declaring that she will secure Syria’s chemical arsenal, which the USSR created.”

Our final contender for the Syrian-surrender prize is The Economist. In its leader of 31 August, Hit him hard, it concluded: “Mr Obama must give Mr Assad one last chance: a clear ultimatum to hand over his chemical weapons entirely within a very short period. The time for inspections is over.” This was read, no doubt, by Kerry, Lavrov, Sikorski, Mr al-Moallem and Mrs al-Assad. The result was a carefully planted “gaffe” in London, an instant follow-up in Moscow, pre-programmed agreement in Damascus and a “breakthrough” in Geneva. Coincidence? Unlikely.

Finally, let’s return to Ali Haidar, the Syrian “Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs”. How’s that working out? In today’s Washington Post, Liz Sly writes, “At close of a week hailed as diplomatic triumph, more than 1,000 die in Syria.”


Puck

Friday, 7 June, 2013 3 Comments

Travelling through West Kerry in August 1906, John Millington Synge wrote: “On the main roads, for many days past, I have been falling in with tramps and trick characters of all kinds, sometimes single and sometimes in parties of four or five… A crowd is as exciting as champagne to these lonely people, who live in long glens among the mountains… At the foot of the platform, where the crowd was thickest, a young ballad-singer was howling in honour of Puck, making one think of the early Greek festivals, since the time of which, it is possible, the goat has been exalted yearly in Killorglin.”

Synge was describing Puck Fair, an event that stretches back to pagan times and which revolves around the crowning of a wild goat that reigns as King Puck from atop a three-story high platform in the middle of Killorglin town. In her wonderful 1965 travelogue, The Orgy, American poet Muriel Rukeyser offers a Synge-similar description of her pilgrimage to Puck Fair, which she declared to be a carnival of debauchery:

“Killorglin looks like a drab little Victorian town. And is, except for three days of the year, in August… All this time people from all over are converging on the town — all over Kerry, of course, all over the country, and from Persia, they say, and Spain, and Europe, and cops in New York save up all year to go to Puck. The night before the Fair, all the little shops around the square, that sell all the things little shops sell — they close, and in the morning when they open, each one is a pub. The goat is crowned king — they say the tinkers choose their king there, too, but that of course is done in secret. The town is wide open, they say. It’s the last of the goat festivals: Greece, Spain, Scotland, England — the last.”

Last night, Kevin Barry’s City of Bohane, a thriller set in a futuristic west of Ireland, won the Impac literary award and €100,000. The final chapter is titled “On the Night of the August Fair”, an event that resembles Puck Fair.

Puck Fair


Silent Night in the Church of St. James

Saturday, 22 December, 2012 0 Comments

Perched at the edge of Europe, the Dingle Peninsula stretches into the Atlantic Ocean from the southwest coast of Ireland. Through the Other Voices festival, the magic of the peninsula is transmitted to the world from the Church of St. James by some of the world’s finest singers.