On Sunday the 26th of September the Kurds in northern Iraq passed a non-binding referendum expressing an overwhelming interest in establishing an independent Kurdish state (as was promised to them by the Allies at the end of World War I). Some have suggested that the Kurds are at least distantly related to the Medes who were in the region almost three thousand years ago. That is a long time to establish a national identity, especially when everyone else wishes you would go away.

Almost every nation in the region plus the US expressed horror that the Kurds would hold this referendum, in spite of the fact that they have already established a de facto state on Iraqi territory and have been fighting a terror-counter-terror campaign with the Turkish army for a couple of decades. Only Israel, Israel ! for God's sake, supported the Kurds in this. Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria contain large Kurdish minorities. Their concern is inevitable. The US fears another widening war zone in which it…

Do you really think all Muslims are narrow minded, woman hating terrorists?

These are the words which I copied from the tomb in Anatolia of the dervısh Haci Bektaş, a 13th century holy man who founded a group within Islam that still exists in Turkey. Known as the Alevi, they number about twenty-five million and have suffered tremendously from persecution over the centuries. They are open-minded towards those of other religions, and they have for centuries championed the cause of social justice, and they have influenced the thought of modern Turkey before the present regime.

Any road that doesn’t follow science, ends in darkness,
Give education to women,
Control on your tongue, hands and waist, [sexual organs]
The greatest book to read is man himself,
Honesty is the door of a friend,
Being a teacher is to give, not to take,
The universe is for man, and man for the universe,
Science illuminates the paths of truth,
We travel in the way of science, comprehension and human love,
Clean where you’ve settled and deserve the money you’ve made,
Let’s be one, be…

Judging Putin

If we judge Vladimir Putin, from what point of view do we judge him - and from whose perspective? 

Comments on an article by Dmitri Trenin, “Russian is the House that Vladimir Putin Built – and He Will Never Abandon It”. The Guardian, March 27, 2017.
This article is an eloquently written appreciation of Vladimir Putin. It also avoids all of the criticisms that might be brought against him by a frightened West.
One thing struck me at first. There are many similarities and many differences among the following three: Trump, the baby with tantrums grasping at power; Erdogan, the adolescent autocrat wrestling with Gulen, his own personal Trotsky; and Putin, the successful master of the levers of state (if not the economy).
My own reaction begins with this quote at the end of the article: "It is much too early to pass final judgment on Putin. He has kept the country in one piece and restored its global status." There is a wonderful story about Zhou Enlai. When asked what he thought we…

People deserve to get what they want - and get it good and hard.

For the past month or so every liberal blog, newspaper, tweet, or FB post have predicted that President Trump is so frustrated and/or incompetent that he will resign/move to Florida/lock himself in the bathroom and not come out. The fact that none of these predictions show little sign of coming true should indicate that every news source to the Left of Attila the Hun has come down with a terminal case of wishful thinking.

If you believe in democracy (and most Americans do - if their candidate wins), you should realize that America more or less chose Trump to be president. Winging about Hillary won the popular vote is only done by the Losers, as the President might say. The electoral college is -- well the law of the land.

The fact is, the American people, or at least a lot of them, wanted to have this as their President:

They won. They and the RNC and the Russians and the coal miners and the little old men and ladies in the Tea Party and many other well- or ill-intention folk: with the h…

The Rise of Fascism, or Is It the Return of the Robber Barons?

Some thoughts on national suicide
One of the brightest men I know, a retired Russian professor of economics in Moscow, commented that he felt I was perhaps overly disturbed by the rise of fascism. Actually, fascism does not exist. Reading history often blinds one to present reality with the belief that events replicate themselves and unfold according to earlier patterns. 

Fascism was a complex phenomenon which is not being duplicated today. Aspects of it - virulent nationalism, racism, autarky and the control of industry and labor by the state, authoritarian rule - these all exist in some places and to some measure today. But history is no certain guide to the future or even to the present. And Mussolini and Hitler are not reincarnated in modern authoritarian regimes. 

Yesterday my wife was returning to Maastricht from the north of the Netherlands by train. Outside of Utrecht the train suddenly stopped. Some poor man thinking he was making a rational decision threw himself in front of th…
Convergence Theory
A some time ago there was something called convergence theory, the idea that the Soviet Russian  system and the US system would both converge into two freedom-loving humanistic social systems. 
Both states have parliamentary government under presidential direction constrained by law overseen by courts.
The American Congress
The Russian Duma
It turns out that the first part of that theory is valid: just not the freedom-loving humanistic part.

What happened???

This happened:

And this happened:

But much more important, this happened: 

Herbert Block: Cartoonist from 70 years ago shows America's present was also its past.

Could it be that Making America Great Again means returning to a less democratic past? Is it possible that "Great" means "cowardly and mean spirited"?

China's population makes up about 18% of the world's population and Muslims make up about 23% of the world's population. Are you not disturbed that the President's chief adviser and strategist is a madman who believes we should go to war against both these peoples?

Do Americans have to give up the freedoms that they fought and bled for in wars and freedom marches and demonstrations for racial equality? Are Americans really so afraid of believing that all men (and women) are created equal. Will the light of liberty go out?

Did a narrow election won because of a peculiar system of proportional representation really give an administration a mandate to totally destroy the glue that binds society together? Isn't this what we expect from a dictatorship rather than a democratically elected government?