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Tag: Cold War

“Sometimes you have to walk,” Mr. Trump said.

Thursday, 28 February, 2019

The date was 12 October 1986 and the place was Reykjavik. President Ronald Reagan got up and and walked out of a summit with a Communist Party boss, Mikhail Gorbachev, of the Soviet Union. “What appears to have happened in Iceland is this,” the New York Times opined. “Mr. Reagan had the chance to eliminate Soviet and U.S. medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe, to work toward a test ban on his terms, to halve nuclear arsenals in five years and to agree on huge reductions later. He said no.”

The awful Willian Greider of the equally awful Rolling Stone titled it “Reagan Flubs Reykjavik Summit” and claimed that “the President’s obsession with Star Wars allowed Gorbachev to outmaneuver him on arms control.”

And today? The same sour faces, the same ominous predictions and the same visceral instinct of the Left to blame the US for everything.

What appears to have happened in Hanoi that North Korea would not agree to the denuclearization that the US wants, and the US would not agree to the dismantling of all the sanctions it has placed on North Korea. The temptation for President Trump to reach some kind of deal must have been huge and he’d have enjoyed returning from Vietnam with news to to put the Michael Cohen show in the shade, but he walked, as Reagan once did. And we remember who won and who lost the Cold War, don’t we?


The Deceiver by Forsyth

Saturday, 5 March, 2016 0 Comments

Browsing this evening in a rather topsy-turvy second-hand bookshop run by an ex-banker and came across a thriller stamped “First English Edition.” Unusual, that. Especially unusual as the author is the great Frederick Forsyth. His “first editions” tend to be in English.

Anyway, The Deceiver is a page turner of the best kind and is full of ripping-yarn stuff. Rich dialogue, too. “Sam, I know you’ve been in more tight places than a shepherd’s right arm.”


Hey! Said my name is called disturbance

Saturday, 18 April, 2015 0 Comments

It’s 1968 and 70,000 North Vietnamese forces launch their daring Tet Offensive. Meanwhile, in the other major theatre of the Cold War conflict, the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invade Czechoslovakia and snuff out the Prague Spring. A year of living dangerously, then, and a perfect time for the Rolling Stones to release Beggars Banquet. Key tracks: Sympathy for the Devil, which conjures up the decline of Western civilization, and Street Fighting Man with its brazen demand for “a palace revolution”. Hat tip to Ian for the loan of the album.

“Hey! Said my name is called disturbance
I’ll shout and scream, I’ll kill the king, I’ll rail at all his servants
Well, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock ‘n’ roll band
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man.”


Once upon a time in a land called Venezuela

Tuesday, 10 March, 2015 0 Comments

My, my, a lot can change in a short time. Back on 13 December 2012, famed Hugo Chávez bot Richard Gott reflected on the state of Venezuela in the Guardian. Was he alarmed, dismayed, perturbed? None of it. In fact, he painted an idyllic picture with phrases such as “huge oil revenues”, “competent team of ministers”, “running the country quite happily”, “no immediate crises”, “economy is purring along quite well” and the oleaginous “engaging and collegiate leader” for Comrade Maduro. Snippet:

Chavez “After 14 years of considerable institutional change, huge oil revenues now pour into the alleviation of the acute poverty suffered by a large percentage of the country, and there is a rock-solid base of chavista support that will take decades to erode. Chávez also leaves a competent team of ministers at the top, most of whom have been running the country quite happily in recent years. They share the radical vision of Chávez, and in Maduro they have an engaging and collegiate leader. There are no immediate crises in sight and, in spite of alarmist reports in the foreign press, the economy is purring along quite well. After more than a decade on a political roller-coaster, the country will return to a more normal profile.”

And today? Dissent, inflation and shortages of basic goods dominate the agenda. “President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government this week launched a 70 percent devaluation via a new ‘free floating’ currency system known as Simadi” reported Reuters last month. “‘They’re doing this because they don’t have any money,’ said a man who gave his name only as Felix, and who said he was 83.”

Note: Richard Gott was once the literary editor of the Guardian, but he resigned from the post in 1994 after it was alleged in The Spectator that he had been a KGB “agent of influence”. He rejected the claim, arguing that “Like many other journalists, diplomats and politicians, I lunched with Russians during the Cold War”. With the Russians said to be looking for lunch partners again, Richard Gott need never dine alone.


Huntington and the Clash of Civilizations in Ukraine

Thursday, 20 March, 2014 0 Comments

In 1993, Samuel Huntington put the cat among the international relations pigeons with an article in Foreign Affairs magazine titled speculatively “The Clash of Civilizations?” He expanded it to book length and it was published in 1996 as The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. The book was immediately condemned by the multi-cultural complex because of its staunch defence of Western values, but its stock rose significantly after 9/11 as people woke up to the reality that the new, anti-Western barbarians were already at the gates.

Huntington makes a number of recommendations to save Western civilization, including restraining “the development of the conventional and unconventional military power of Islamic and Sinic countries.” But he also urges the West “to accept Russia as the core state of Orthodoxy and a major regional power with legitimate interests in the security of its southern borders.” When it comes to today’s politics, it’s worth examining how Huntington stacks up two decades after his initial analysis, especially regarding Russia.

Stalin In chapter 7, which deals with “Core States, Concentric Circles and Civilizational Order”, he looks at “Russia and its Near Abroad” and lays out several scenarios for Ukraine, “a cleft country, with two different cultures.” Its “civilizational fault line between the West and Orthodoxy runs through its heart and has done so for centuries” says Huntington and he suggests that “Ukraine could split into two separate entities, the eastern of which could merge with Russia.” He also quotes a Russian general as saying, “Ukraine or rather Eastern Ukraine will come back in five, ten or fifteen years. Western Ukraine can go to hell!” This leads him to conclude: “Such a rump Uniate and Western-oriented Ukraine, however, would only be viable if it had strong and effective Western support. Such support, is, in turn likely to be forthcoming only if relations between the West and Russia deteriorated seriously and came to resemble those of the Cold War.”

And here we are 2014, where relations between the West and Russia have deteriorated seriously and talk of a new Cold War fills the air. Huntington rewards reading.


The Divisions of Cyprus

Wednesday, 20 March, 2013 0 Comments

“Enlargement, widely regarded as the greatest single achievement of the European Union since the end of the Cold War, an occasion for more or less unqualified self-congratulation, has left one inconspicuous thorn in the palm of Brussels. The furthest east of all the EU’s new acquisitions, even if the most prosperous and democratic, has been a tribulation to its establishment, one that neither fits the uplifting narrative of the deliverance of captive nations from Communism, nor furthers the strategic aims of Union diplomacy, indeed impedes them.”

So begins The Divisions of Cyprus by Perry Anderson, which appeared in The London Review of Books in June 2008. Given what is going on right now in the EU, this is a must-read piece, especially the parts on the perfidious role that the British played in the island’s misfortunes. Anderson’s conclusion is prophetic: “Sometimes small countries defy great powers, but it has become increasingly rare. The more likely outcome remains, in one version or another, the sentence pronounced on another Greek island: ‘The strong do what they can, the weak do what they must.'”