Released to: http://www.outsiderviews. September 2013
The Third Quarter of 2013 is ending. It has been one of the most interesting of Quarters since I began "Outsiders" a little over 5 years ago. The pace of developments and change has been breathtaking to say the least.
As I prepared for this "Quarter-End" Review, I wanted to get a sense of what the "official" punditry class thought about the events of the past week. The whole punditry was out in full force throughout the US Sunday Morning Public Affairs Shows. The focus, of course, was Iran and the shutdown of the Government. Whether it was Obamacare, Iran and the future of the World, it was quite amazing to see the Grand Canyon that exists between those in charge in Washington.
It was a busy week in New York City. The UN General Assembly began. Two of the early speakers were the President of the United States and the new President of Iran. It was quiet an eventful week as President Rouhani's visit dominated the headlines. Many noted how he was on a "Charm Offensive" and how he had a "temp" mandate (as reported by the New York Times, how Rouhani "snubs" and loses a chance (Wall Street Journal Page 1) and other very interesting headlines to handicap Hassan Rouhani. I found the Wall Street Journal coverage especially amusing as the Editorial Page called for in essence ignoring Iran and its' overtures.
The change in tone was evident as President Rouhani spoke. He spoke of a sense of mutual respect that was necessary. He called for a region free of nuclear war. He denounced the holocaust. Dr. Zareef and John Kerry met:
The Israeli Ambassador was on as a prelude for what the Israeli Prime Minister is about to unleash. I found it quite curious that the Israelis announced the arrest of one Ali Mansouri who was promised a Million to set up a network of spies in Israel. I suppose that the Israeli Prime Minister will use this as a "case study: to underscore that Iran is not to be trusted. Unfortunately, Iran and the Jews have had a glorious history that began with what Cyrus the Great did after he conquered Jersuleaum. It went on as Iranian Diplomats during the Holocaust were able to save thousands of Jews (including one who was known as Iran's Schindler). I was also gratified when The delegation accompanyging Rouhani included Iran's Jewish Member of Parliament. I was able to see his interview with Fareed Zakaria of CNN. He was, of course, very careeful in his comments.
What the Israelis and the US Warmoonger Movement (as exemplified by the likes of Lindsay Graham of South Carolina) do not understand is that President Rouhani and Dr. Zareef, the new Iranian Foreign Minister, understand the World and how it works. Dr. Zareef has been an avid Facebook user and I have enjoyed his daily "notes" as he has made the rounds. What was critical to note was that the requests for meetings were so much--Dr. Zareef noted that he just could not keep up. President Obama's speech was well received in Iran and leading members of the Government have been voicing their firm support for Rouhani's initiatives in New York.
A very busy week of diplomacy culminated with the phone call between President Rouhani and President Obama. There was a very amusing public relations exercise about who started it all and how twitter account feeds were deleted. What must be celebrated is that the two leaders of the Country spoke which can be quite effective in bringing a semblance of order to that part of the World. Some Republicans complaineid that the President had time to talk to Hassan Rouhani, but not to them. Presidents can do two things at the same time--which may be news to them. The problem is that the Republicans are essentially saying that it is their way or the highway. That is not a negotatiable item Iraq is burning, Syria has been effectively destroyed and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council are understandbly nervous. But, the United Arab Emirates though tried to press its' case for the return of the three islands--which is not going to happen. Rouhani was faced with protesters when he went back to Tehran. It does show that there is still some work that has to be done.
The "MIddle East" though may change and the New York Times reflected upon a potential "redraw" which is at least interesting:
The folks over at Just Foreign Pollicy noted their concern about how such efforts may be swift-boated (just like what happened to John Kerry). All indications are that the Obama Adminstration will not let it happen. This is as the Clinton Global Initiative 2013 was also held in New York to continue the push for better global health and citizen engagement that I haev been quite fascinated with. There is of course the "buzz" about Hillary Clinton--and rightly so. Some pundits say that beyond Hillary, the Democrats have no one. I tend to disagree as I survey the potential Republican Field.
This was a Quarter that saw Europe began its' feeble recovery. It has been led by Germany. The UK has begun to recover. France has seen a drop in unemployment. Spain seems to have some "green shots" too. But, Italy is now a problem as Berloussocni's party has resigned from the Government because Silvio thinks that he is above the law. Greece continues to limp along--yet the possiblity of a bailout exists ever so. Angela Merkel's re-election and the possiblity of a grand coailiton will probably bode well for the stability that Europe so richly needs as it continues to battle the economic calamity it has faced.
China and India that together account for almost 30% of the World have also had their share of challenges. India is gearing up for an election. I was not too surprised when I saw the BJP nominated the Chief Minister of Gujarat. He was the key culprit in the massacre of Muslims that India has never really forgotten. Thsi is as India continues to deal with a challenging domestic insurgency-including Kashmir. The Economy continues to limp along as well as it has slowed down. China has also been dealing with a slowing economy as it has also been trying to reassert the legitmacy of the Communist Party through its' fight against Corruption. The "Grand Canyon" that exists in both countries is even more striking as exemplifed in this chart reported by the Economist of London on how rich the member of China's National People's Congress are:
Mother Earth was also again in the news and made the headlines. The extreme weather faced by all around the World were horrific. I was reflecting upon it as I reviewed the latest IPCC report that noted beyond a doubt that humans have contributed mightly to the change in planet tempreature. The Climate deniers will continue to push their case. What they must remember, though, is what Mohammad Aslam, the former Environment Minister of the Maldives, noted as he said of his country that, "....Our islands are not rocks in the ocean, they are dynamic, natural systems and the changes [caused by climate change] are making life difficult or even unbearable for species like humans...If we were birds we would simply fly to Sri Lanka, but we build houses and settle." Mohammad Nasheed underscored this when he took the dramatic step of holding a cabinet meeting under water during his Presidency:
In the meantime, back in the USA, there is an increasing likelihood that the US Government will be shut down. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee have been on a quest to kill Obamacare. They say that Americans don't want it and believe that it does not work. What is interesing that it was passed, it was litigated and there was an election on it. Key elements of the law have been already put in place. I was especially gratified by Senator McCain's comments when he noted how he worked so hard during the campaign--and the people of the United States re-elected Barack Obama. Shutting the Government will furlough some 2 million Federal Workers, Federal Loans will be stopped and services will not be given. This is as Obamacare is slated to go into effect October 1. The blame game is in full force though. There is only conclusion that is evident right now: It is all about Ted Cruz--nothing else.
Beyond the comedy show in Washington, the business of the Country continues. Obamacare is slated to go live. Interestingly enough, 17 states have their state exchanges and in 33 states, a Federal Exchange will be in effect to create a new marketplace A more crucial deadline, though, is the raising of the debt ceiling because the United States cannot pay its' obligations past October 17. What was hillarious was reporting done by some of the US-based media in how Ronald Reagn put his foot down about how important it was to insure that the debt ceiling was passed.
The World wonders how it is just possible to run a Government--from crisis to crisis that resulted in a downgrading of the credit rating of the United States. The new quarter and the new fiscal year will be bound to be interesting--to say the least.
"Outsiders" will be "dark" during the first week of the new quarter as plans are put in place for the new quarter. We leave you with this wish: