Tag Archives: United States

How much horror can the world cope with?

The news of the execution of photojournalist James Foley was shocking in the extreme.

To learn that someone had tweeted links to the horrific footage of his death was breathtakingly appalling.

How could anyone do that?

And how could anyone be so obsessed with being allowed to say just what they like – whenever they feel like it – that they take to the web and criticise Twitter for removing all links to these gruesome images?

Yet James Ball has done just that in the Guardian.

Claiming that Twitter – once lauded as “the free speech wing of the free speech party” – has gone too far, he berates it for making an editorial decision that’s out of line with its role as “a platform” with no curatorial powers over its users’ messages and thus its content.

What nonsense!

If no one exercises any control over what appears on Twitter, Facebook, Google or any other “free speech” platform, who knows what we could see next.

In any event, the tweeting of these grotesque images has done nothing for any sensitive being. All is has done is fuel the publicity surrounding the evil acts perpetrated by the Islamic State’s jihadists.

Which is, no doubt, what they wanted.

But is it what the rest of the world wants, or can cope with?

I don’t think so.



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Putin gets united

At last! A world leader who can see the wood for the trees!

And isn’t that a blessing when so many trees have been used in the great Syrian debate?

But seriously, Putin is to be congratulated.

His recent piece in the New York Times – which read like an open letter to the people of America – sets out his  argument for caution in the search for a solution to what he described as “an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country”.

He (or his talented ghost writer) presented a compelling case for the use of diplomacy rather than force, and made an interesting point when, in mild tones, he chastised President Obama for talking up “American exceptionalism”.

Putin believes it’s “extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional”, which is fine by me. We’ve seen a little too much of America wanting to set itself up as the world’s “exceptional” nation, with sometimes dire consequences.

I also think he’s right when he says: “There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. We are all different, but …. we must not forget that God created us equal.”

But perhaps the most interesting passage in his piece dwelt on the value of, and threats to, the United Nations.

“No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations”, he said.

He clearly believes the United Nations Security Council must be a key player in the resolution of the Syrian crisis, and rejects the idea of it being bypassed by “influential countries”.

I want to believe him when – speaking about the current dialogue between the United States and Russia – he says he wants to “keep this hope alive”.

And I’m very glad he supports the right united.

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Which United should we support?

For many people the answer is simple. It’s Manchester United.

Hungry for an identity that gives them sporting bragging rights, they want to align themselves with what they see as the most successful football club in the world.

Others may choose Newcastle United, Dundee United, or even Sheffield United, in the hope that – like their Manchester counterparts – they, too, will be able to walk tall, knowing their club is supremely successful.

For the politicians and leaders of the Western world, the choice is different. And maybe not so easy.

Just now, with their embroilment in Syria’s affairs – and none can fail to be embroiled, if only at a debating level – it’s either the United Nations or the United States of America.

On the one hand, we have an organisation whose stated purpose is to “maintain international peace and security” and – to that end – to “take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace”.

On the other we have the most politically and militarily powerful nation in the Western world.

We have an organisation that seems to have been cast as the world’s policeman and a nation that seems to want that role for itself.

We have a choice between what looks like the crippling impotence of the commitee-bound Nations or the terrible potency of the law-enforcement-minded States.

Tough decisions

So pity the politicians.

Unlike us, they cannot make their choice based on the colour or design of a football kit or the skill and athleticism of an individual player.

They must side with someone in the Syrian conflict – the peacemakers or the warmongers – or face the probability of being mere spectators as the situation worsens, the fighting escalates and the number of lives lost increases day-by-day.

In the meantime, the rest of us can only watch and wait, hoping that – in the light of the British Parliament’s brave decision to be guided by both the law and right-minded thinking – none of the principal players scores an own goal.

Were that to happen, we would all be losers. Even the football supporters.

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