Digested: The All-Important Context Missing From Israel-Palestine Coverage

palestine israel

The Bemolution tends to leave conventional foreign policy alone. There are enough left-wingers banging on about it already, and we prefer to go after more neglected areas – particularly humanitarian disasters, African and Asian poverty and the like.

Occasionally, though, we get drawn in when there’s an issue we think is important and not being explained clearly enough, leaving people at the mercy of the often rubbish TV news. It was only a matter of time before we got round to Israel-Palestine.

Watch the telly coverage of the situation in Gaza and you’re left with the impression that it’s one of the most bafflingly complex geopolitical conflicts of the modern age. But it can be made blissfully simple to understand without all that much effort.

It’s a situation inextricably tied up with race and ethnicity. You can’t take them out of the equation completely. But you can ignore these subtleties, just for a bit, to get a better, clearer picture of what’s actually going on. Continue reading “Digested: The All-Important Context Missing From Israel-Palestine Coverage”

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Digested: What’s Going On In Crimea?

Thanks Newsround, we'll be pinching that useful map
Thanks Newsround, we’ll be pinching that useful map

Russia appears to have invaded neighbouring Crimea, the historical region currently part of the Ukraine. It’s opprobrium a go-go in the West, as the leading lights of liberal democracy compete to see who can pile the most macho condemnation on Vladimir Putin, the man who, presumably, gave the order.

Geopolitics quickly polarises people. The mainstream media less-than-subtly slides behind the economic and strategic interests of the United States, while even among well-meaning leftists there’s a tendency to uncritically back anyone who the West is currently lecturing, no matter how authoritarian and/or anti-democratic. For the casual observer, this can make it difficult to understand what the hell is actually going on.

Last November, Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych suddenly pulled out of a deal that would’ve seen his country forge closer links with the European Union to make one with Russia instead. This wasn’t very popular in the West, whose leaders almost immediately started chafing for his removal. Continue reading “Digested: What’s Going On In Crimea?”

Least-Worst One Wins

Officially less worse than Mitt Romney
Officially less worse than Mitt Romney

Barack Obama has been re-elected after one of the tightest Presidential polls in recent decades. More importantly, the highest, most devastatingly powerful office in the land has been defended from a blank, asset-stripping plutocrat who dismisses 47% of the American population as feckless welfare-scroungers.

The 44th President of the United States has essentially governed like an old-school moderate Republican. His agenda might’ve been blasphemous to the foaming loons of the American Right, but, in reality, Obamacare is watery, limited and corporate-friendly, his tax rises have just corrected the libertarian madness of the Bush years, and he’s continued to bunker-bust, extraordinarily render and predator drone like the best of them.

And yet, for millions on both sides of the pond, this was an election all about keeping out Mitt Romney. When old-school moderate Republicanism has all but dried up, and America remains the glowering capital of neoliberal dystopias, Obama is not only infinitely preferable to the rabid Tea Partying alternative, but, short of reanimating Mother Jones and convincing her to run for office, the least-worst Commander In Chief the US is likely to produce in decades. Continue reading “Least-Worst One Wins”