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Thursday, October 15, 2015


The Democratic Party in the USA has just held its first debate for presidential candidates in Las Vegas, the gambling capital. It is notable that the frontrunner for the Republican Party is a casino magnate, and the Party's biggest donor, a Mr Adelson, another casino magnate, has just thrown his support to a different candidate, the son of a bartender in Las Vegas casinos.

Talleyrand doesn't shy away from the odd game of whist... but doesn't this casino business seem a bit excessive?

Being a gambling man, however, he is rooting for Jim Webb: the only apparently honest candidate in either Party.




Sunday, October 4, 2015

Proxy War

The American president has gone out of his way to insist that his country and Russia are not about to have a proxy war over Syria. This is nice to hear. But it demonstrates a poor grasp of language. There has been a proxy war underway in Syria since 2012. It may not always be clear to outsiders or even insiders who is fighting for whom, but it is certain that the majority of the warring parties are not fighting exclusively for, or by, themselves.

What Mr Obama meant to say was that neither his country nor Russia has an interest in seeing this particularly nasty proxy war worsen into an international civil war. Even if it were confined somehow to its own region, as Afghanistan's war was for the most part, it would not be in anyone's--or at least any major power's--interest for it to escalate in this way.

Unfortunately, the sloppy language suggests a lazy, perhaps even careless, attitude toward what is  a very dangerous conflict--precisely the kind of civil war that becomes something much worse when loose rhetoric guides strategy and not the other way round.


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