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09 August 2013

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David Habakkuk

Another view as to what the Saudi offer may have been about:

‘Others believe the media reports of a Saudi offer is nothing more than a hoax aimed at highlighting Russia’s stance on Syria in a negative way, adding that such a method is no way to “conduct diplomacy.”

‘“Clearly, this is stove-piping,” director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Vitaly Naumkin, told Interfax news agency. “Its purpose is either to influence the position of the Syrian authorities or, more likely, to discredit Russia. To sow doubt on the fact that Moscow has a serious and reasoned position on Syria, and to create the impression that Russia may change its point of view in exchange for Saudi promises.”’

(See http://rt.com/news/saudi-russia-arms-putin-239/ )

blowback

The Saudis tried to bribe the Russians to overthrow their most important ally in the Middle East by offering to purchase $15 billion dollars worth of arms. Didn't Saudi Arabia recently buy $60 billion worth of arms from the United States. So just what was four times as important to Saudi Arabia as the downfall of a regime it so virulently opposes? The only thing I can think of is that Saudi Arabia buys the weapons so that it is allowed to promulgate Wahhabism throughout the Islamic world. In which case the people running this protection racket aren't demanding nearly enough.

David Habakkuk

I think I would be ROTFL, if the implications of having a sanctimonious narcissist of patently limited intellectual grasp as POTUS were not so frightening.

Explaining that he did not think a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics was an appropriate response to Russian behaviour, Obama commented that:

‘One of the things I'm really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which would I think go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we're seeing there;’ concluding by explaining that ‘if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then, it’ll probably make their team weaker.’

Apparently referring to their meeting in Northern Ireland, Obama described Putin as having ‘that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid at the back of the classroom.’

Words fail me.

(See http://rt.com/news/lavrov-kerry-snowden-syria-303/ )

turcopolier

David Habakkuk

I was saddened by BHO's presser with its smug atmosphere of speaking down to the masses. More than most, this man surrounds himself with sycophants and lives on their adoration. pl

Charles

Now now, bright shiny trinkets sufficed to win Manhattan, why not the Russian Duma and populace?

SAC Brat

I would like to see Putin raise the concern of protecting Christians in the Middle East more (Thanks DH). There would be entertainment value in watching the US media contort themselves trying to report that and could be an important wedge issue to the problems the US is saddled with.

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, why go out of your way insulting the President of another country with whom you have to do business?

Was this written into his speech or was it impromptu?

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

The insults get worse, the more you look at them. The law to which Obama was objecting relates to the promotion of homosexuality among minors. It may indeed be open to abuse, but I think that a substantial body of opinion both in the U.K. and U.S. would, at the least, have some sympathy with the professed concerns underlying the legislation.

An exchange between Jay Leno and Obama ran as follows:

LENO: Well, something that shocked me about Russia — and I’m surprised this is not a huge story — suddenly, homosexuality is against the law. I mean, this seems like Germany: Let’s round up the Jews, let’s round up the gays, let’s round up the blacks. I mean, it starts with that. You round up people who you don’t
— I mean, why is not more of the world outraged at this?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ve been very clear that when it comes to universal rights, when it comes to people’s basic freedoms, that whether you are discriminating on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, you are violating the basic morality that I think should transcend every country. And I have no patience for countries that try to treat gays or lesbians or transgender persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.

(See http://hypervocal.com/news/2013/obama-leno/ )

Babak Makkinejad

Hmmm...

So, the Doctors of Religion in Iran and Iraq and Egypt and elsewhere are watching this performance - together with their Anglican and Catholic counterparts in Africa, the Americas, and Asia - that the President of the United States publicly supports what for them is a sin and abomination.

In Iran, I am sure, they are going to have a field day with this; "US wants to lure your daughters and sons into acts of moral outrage and abomination against God. That is what they mean by Freedom."

Astonishing in its foolishness.

Alba Etie

Yes how would Mrs Greenspan & Chuck Todd explain Hizbollah protecting Christians and Christian Sacred Sites from the Wahhabi liver eaters that are trying to depose Assad.

Stephanie

The hysterical reaction in the U.S. to the passage of the new Russian law is foolish – we have dealings with many countries with anti-homosexual laws on the books – but the law itself is terrible, with dangerously vague language that seriously impinges on free speech and could be exploited by officialdom in all kinds of ways that have nothing to do with preventing sneaky queers from luring middle schoolers into gay bars.

Obama is working to placate a powerful domestic constituency without actually doing anything stupid like pushing a boycott of the Olympics. If you keep that in mind his statements aren’t unreasonable. (Whereas his petulance in regard to Snowden and Putin seems quite genuine. Sad to see the President of the United States throwing his toys out of his pram in public like that.)

Obama seems to regard press conferences as an imposition. There seems to be no one he can’t talk down to and he gets peevish at even mildly challenging questions.

Even so, and particularly if you compare him to the national candidates put forward by the GOP in the last fifteen years, he is close to the best our political class can currently offer. I’d prefer not to dwell on what that says about our political class.

Alba Etie

"We have met the enemy and he is us" Pogo

Edward Amame

Hysterical reaction? Yes there are some 70+ countries that practice various degrees of legal discrimination against gays. But we're talking about the one that's hosting the Olympics and threatening to jail athletes who are openly gay. At this point FIFA and the IOC want to know exactly what openly gay means and how the broadly written law will be enforced.

I would expect Obama to "placate" American women if an Olympic host country passed a broadly written law 6 months before the Olympics that banned them from promoting gender equality among minors. Or Jews if the host country suddenly banned the promotion of Judaism, or blacks if they promoted racial equality among minors.

Putin and Obama signed a non-proliferation agreement in June and then Putin indicated that no more "intrusive" agreements on arms control would be in the offing. Yeah, Obama and Putin looked unhappy. They're unhappy because we're at an impasse, we have nothing to talk about.

confusedponderer

Re Russia and "legal discrimination against gays".

There probably is a sizeable segment of US society that would accept the laws that Putin has passed as at least in part acceptable. These are by their nature deeply conservative laws.

As for US politics, one only needs to look as far as the issue of gay marriage as a wedge issue in US politics. IMO there still is no true US social consensus on gays, beyond that they ought not to be sent to jail, harassed and beaten up.

In light of that hysterical is quite apt IMO, and sanctimonious is another adjective I am inclined to add to that.

The issue is, as far as the relations to Russia is concerned, negligible.

It IMO probably has gained traction largely because of (a) the perceived opportunity, if not emotional need, of (again, finally) having something to bash Russia over the head with, (b) an opportunity to placate domestic US constituencies and (c) a perceived opportunity to disctract from the NSA issue.

Of course, there are also probably some gays in the administration (and activists and donors around it) who may be genuinely distressed about Russia's law, but I wager they are a minority.

Probably, what moves US policy on Russias anti gay legislation is likely a mash up of unrelated (and likely contradicting) interests and motives.

Fred

It has everything to do with distracting from the illegal NSA activities and showing domestic 'support' for the LGBT community's political activism. It costs nothing to make a speech about some foreign country's abuse of homosexuals. They (The Russian government) don't care about our opinion and we can not force them to change their society.

Edward Amame

The issue is, as far as the relations to Russia is concerned, negligible.

Until an American athlete or spectator is put in a Russian jail for being "openly gay." Then Houston, we've got a problem.

You don't have to be gay to be genuinely distressed about Russia's law, you can include the IOC and the International Football Association (FIFA) in the distressed category. They're concerned for the players they represent, just like govt's should be concerned about their competing citizen athletes.


confusedponderer

Unlikely to happen.

turcopolier

JohnH

The Saudis will only be interested in the fate of salafi parties if these parties are specifically Wahhabi and funded by them because of that. The UAE is not deeply committed to salafis anywhere. pl

Fred

I saw that comment, which was immediately after he lied about the NSA spying (of course he had to say that Bush did it first, too).

"We don’t have a domestic spying program. What we do have are some mechanisms where we can track a phone number or an email address that we know is connected to some sort of terrorist threat. .... None of the revelations show that government has actually abused these powers, but they’re pretty significant powers."

So 'we' already know who the terrorist are, but they need to collect every call and email from every citizen. Right.

Edward Amame

So Obama should keep his yap shut because it's "unlikely to happen." How about the IOC and FIFA? (And they don't have a need disctract from any NSA issues.)

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