No matter how well differences are papered over, trying to merge two philosophically incompatible systems for the long term is impossible. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:
This reckoning with Beijing’s authority was baked into the cake 22 years ago when the Union Jack came down over Government House.
Police and protesters at a Hong Kong airport earlier this week. (YouTube)
It is impossible not to admire the bravery and commitment pro-democracy demonstrators display daily as they clog Hong Kong streets, shut down its airport, and disrupt the territory’s beating heart in Central, the commercial and financial district. But neither can one deny the tragic fate that appears near as Beijing stiffens its resolve and signals the threat of military intervention.
The futility of all action, the necessity of any: Maybe those protestors building barricades and hurling Molotov cocktails at tear-gassing riot police are reading Camus in their off- hours.
There is no question of Chinese President Xi Jinping compromising Beijing’s authority to mollify those now in their third month of protests across Hong Kong. He is too firm a believer in the primacy of the Chinese Communist Party to entertain any such risk. But there is too much at stake for the Chinese president to order mainland troops or police units into the territory short of a decisive challenge to the local administration’s ability to govern. This accounts for Beijing’s restraint over the past 10 weeks.
The best outcome in prospect now — and the chances of this appear slim at the moment — is that Xi will authorize influential political allies in Hong Kong to frame a set of reforms sufficient to isolate demonstrators by eliminating the broad public support they have to date enjoyed. In any other resolution of this crisis, the democracy advocates in the streets stand to lose everything. Even as they number in the hundreds of thousands, they are simply no match against a government intent on centralized control over a nation of 1.4 billion.
US government-led “coalitions” often have less to them than is claimed. The latest coalition turns out to be the usual suspects in the Middle East: the US, the UK, and Israel. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:
When Washington announced a few weeks ago the formation of a maritime “international coalition” to “protect shipping” in the Persian Gulf, many observers were skeptical. Now skepticism has rightly turned to alarm, as the proposed US-led “coalition” transpires to comprise a grand total of just three nations: the US, Britain and Israel.
The term “coalition” has always been a weasel word used by Washington to give its military operations around the world a veneer of international consensus and moral authority. If the US goes ahead with deploying forces in the Persian Gulf the guise of “coalition” is threadbare. It will be seen for what it is: naked aggression.
Iran promptly warned that if the US, Britain and Israel move on their intention to deploy in the Persian Gulf, it will not hesitate to defend itself from a “clear threat”.
Britain has ordered this week another warship, HMS Kent, to the Gulf. The move, significantly, occurred as Trump’s hawkish national security advisor John Bolton was in London for two-day official meetings with PM Boris Johnson and other senior ministers. Bolton praised Britain’s decision to join the US-led Operation Sentinel mission, rather than an alternative proposed European naval mission. It’s not clear if HMS Kent is simply replacing another British warship in the Gulf, HMS Duncan, or if this is a further buildup in force. Either way, the line up of US, Britain and reportedly Israel is a foreboding potential offensive.
Somebody is getting played in the so-called special relationship between the US and the UK, and it’s probably the US. From Matthew Ehret at strategic-culture.org:
British Ambassador Kim Darroch’s return to London from his failed mission in America is being hailed by many naïve commentators as yet another proof that President Trump is a crazed ego-maniac who cannot take criticism from a seasoned professional diplomat.
During the weeks since the “Darroch memo” scandal erupted, mainstream media has totally mis-diagnosed the nature of the breakdown in US-British relations, and has brushed over the most relevant evidence that has been brought to light by Darroch’s cables. This spinning of the narrative has made it falsely appear that the Ambassador merely criticized the President as “clumsy, diplomatically inept, unpredictable and dysfunctional” and was thus unjustly attacked by the President causing the poor diplomate to resign saying “the current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.” Former British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt went so far as to say that Darroch was “the best of Britain” and encouraged all diplomats to continue to “speak truth to power.” International press on both sides of the ocean followed suit portraying Darroch as a hero among men.
The reality is that Darroch’s messages to the British Foreign Office go much deeper and reveal something very ugly that challenges the deepest assumptions about recent history and modern geopolitics.
Sometimes the only thing worse than being an enemy of the US is being its friend. From Mike “Mish” Shedlock at moneymaven.io:
Eurointelligence provides interesting commentary of tit-for-tat ship seizures first by the UK, then by Iran in response.
The extraordinary story behind the capture of the British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero is a cautionary tale on many levels. It has the potential of turning into a major diplomatic calamity for both the UK and the EU.
Simon Tisdall tells the story in the Observer that this confrontation was masterminded by none other than John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser. Several weeks ago, US intelligence services tracked an Iranian oil vessel headed for the Mediterranean, bound for a refinery in Syria. The Grace 1 sailed under a Panama flag. As it was too big for the Suez Canal, it undertook the longer journey from Iran around Cape Horn and up the Atlantic towards Spain. Washington alerted the Spanish government 48 hours before the tanker was due to enter the Strait of Gibraltar, but without giving any details that the ship might be in breach of US sanctions. The Spanish Navy escorted the ship but took no action at the time. Spain later said it would have intervened if it had been given information that the ship was in breach of US sanctions.
Bolton instead tipped off the British, who felt compelled to intercept the Grace I as it entered the Strait of Gibraltar on July 4, dispatching a force of 30 marines who stormed the ship.
The US managed to accomplish three things at the same time: escalating the conflict with Iran; dividing the Europeans by pitching the UK against Spain, which distanced itself from the UK manoeuvre off Gibraltar; and turning the UK once again into the useful idiot of US diplomacy. Not bad for a few days’ work. But it is also a clear indication of the EU’s total lack of preparedness to deal with a hostile Trump administration.
Unsurprisingly, the EU’s response is divided. Spain is furious about the UK’s unilateral action in international waters off the Spanish coast. The EU’s external-action service, soon to be headed by Josep Borrell, Spain’s foreign minister, is silent. Germany and France are backing the UK – at least diplomatically – for now. Russia, Japan and China are with Iran. They do not want to risk oil supplies.
The UK has managed to ensnare itself in US neocons attempts to incite a war with Iran. Will there be war? From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:
The UK got a taste of its own medicine this week as Iran seized a British tanker, the Stena Impero, just two weeks after UK Royal Marines seized a tanker near Gibraltar carrying two million barrels of Iranian oil. As could be predicted, the US and UK media are reporting Iran’s seizure of the Stena Impero as if it were something out of the blue, pushing the war propaganda that “we” have been attacked and must retaliate. Media criticism of the UK is limited to claims that it has not put enough military into the Persian Gulf, not that it should never have seized the Iranian ship in the first place.
The truth is, the UK seizure of the Iranian ship was calculated to force Iran to retaliate and thus provide the pretext the neocons need to get their war.
As usual, Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton is in the thick of this operation. Bolton Tweeted that he was so surprised – but pleased – by the UK move against the Iranian tanker. However it is becoming clearer that Bolton was playing a role behind the scenes pushing London to lure Iran into making a move that might trigger the war he’s long been yearning for.
The ramping up of tanker wars comes just as the Pentagon has announced that it will send 500 US troops to Saudi Arabia – the first such US deployment since the US withdrew its troops in 2003. At that time, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz hailed the move out of Saudi Arabia as denying al-Qaeda one of its prime recruiting tools – US troops in their holy land. What will 500 troops do in Saudi Arabia? Some say they will help prepare the Prince Sultan military air base for a possible US air squadron deployment.
The US and Britain keep trying to make Iran fire the first shot in the war they want. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:
Great Britain has joined the U.S. pressure and provocation campaign against Iran. It is creating incidents to put Iran into a defensive position and to provoke into a violent reaction.
Early today ‘two U.S. officials’ spread a scare story about Iran which lead to this CNN headline: Iranian boats attempted to seize a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz
Armed Iranian boats unsuccessfully tried to seize a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf Wednesday, according to two US officials with direct knowledge of the incident.The British Heritage tanker was sailing out of the Persian Gulf and was crossing into the Strait of Hormuz area when it was approached by boats from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The Iranians ordered the tanker to change course and stop in nearby Iranian territorial waters, according to the officials.
The same ‘two U.S. officials’ briefed ABCNews:
A British warship prevented an apparent attempt by five Iranian small boats to direct a British oil tanker towards Iranian waters on Wednesday, according to two U.S. officials.
Remarkably the official British report came later than the U.S. officials briefing. It showed significant differences:
The UK defence ministry said that “three Iranian vessels attempted to impede the passage of a commercial vessel, British Heritage, through the Strait of Hormuz.””HMS Montrose was forced to position herself between the Iranian vessels and British Heritage and issue verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, which then turned away,” the ministry statement said.
“There has been no confrontation in the last 24 hours with any foreign vessels, including British ones,” the Revolutionary Guards said in a statement.
The U.S. officials claimed 5, not 3 boats. They claimed the boats tried to seize the ship, while the Brits just say they probably were getting in the way of the ship. The U.S. officials ‘direct knowledge of the incident’ seems to be lacking. Iran says that nothing happened at all.
There are reasons to believe that the Iranian statement is the most truthful one.
There are so many idiotic laws and regulations being passed or under consideration that Simon Black can run a week column detailing them. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:
Here’s our Friday roll up of the most absurd and concerning articles we came across this week.
UK bans advertisement with “harmful gender stereotypes”
UK bureaucrats will now decide if ads and commercials are too offensive.
New regulations ban advertisements with gender stereotypes “that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence.”
So a woman cleaning while a man is being lazy– banned.
Suggesting a poor physique caused other failures– banned.
Emphasizing energetic boys compared to caring girls– banned.
It seems that, in 2019, consumers are far more capable of regulating a company’s advertising decisions.
If people don’t like a company’s ads, they’re free to boycott the product. And if enough companies catch grief over their ads, they’ll change the ads or go out of business.
Having a government commission to regulate this sort of thing is going to be simply comical.
We have a feeling this isn’t what the Brexiters had in mind when they voted to leave.
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