Sunday, July 28, 2013

back in the saddle again

So I go away for two weeks, but the world doesn't stop. In fact, all kinds of fascinating reports have piled up during my absence. Let me list some of the most important ones. I'll try to say more later.

  • The Senate marched to the brink of a constitutional crisis and then found a face-saving way to avoid it. I thought this might happen, but failed to issue a prediction I could now boast about. But I'm glad that wiser heads prevailed on both sides.
  • The House narrowly defeated, with both parties sharply split, an amendment to halt funds for some NSA data gathering programs, thus showing how troubled members are by the recent revelations.
  • The newly strengthened Japanese prime minister announced new steps to increase Japan's military capabilities and activities. Asia is finding its own ways of "rebalancing."
  • The Obama Administration confusingly halted the delivery of F-16 fighters to Egypt as a sign of displeasure over the recent military coup, but also decided that other aid can continue because the U.S. government isn't legally required to make a determination that a coup has occurred.
  • Public support for U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan has dropped to its lowest level, even below support for the Iraq war. Only 28% of respondents say the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting.
  • An intelligence official said the war in Syria could go on for years and has already stalemated. Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, sent Congress a letter outlining several U.S. courses of action for Syria, aptly summarized by own journalist as "Every military option in Syria sucks."  I'm glad to see his advice on the record.
While all this was happening, my wife and I were enjoying the rural splendor of western Ireland, watching pounding surf and grazing sheep while staying in an old stone house that geographically is the westernmost home in Europe, at least by a few yards.  We hiked along rugged cliffs, ate local seafood and lamb, and drank local beers. We didn't worry about the rest of the world for a while.

In my pre-trip reading of Irish history, I learned that one of the major factors boosting public support for those favoring full independence from Britain after the 1916 Easter Rebellion and weakening support for the Home Rule advocates was the prospect of conscription to fight in World War I. There had been no Irish draft until 1918,when it was set for males up to the age of 51.

No comments:

Post a Comment