Tillerson on Iran

Rex Tillerson on Iran:

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it,” Mr Tillerson said.

Well, perhaps. Take the region with it, maybe. The world? I’m not so sure. This is neither the time nor subject for hyperbole.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Tillerson said a review, which he had announced in a letter to Congress a day earlier, would look at the whole US policy towards Iran – taking in not only Tehran’s compliance with the nuclear deal but also its actions in the Middle East.

This is sensible. Obama’s deal with Iran stank to high-heaven and should have been torn up the day after Trump’s inauguration.

He accused the country of “alarming and ongoing provocations that export terror and violence, destabilising more than one country at a time”.

Which has been the case since 1979.

“Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and is responsible for intensifying multiple conflicts and undermining US interests in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon, and continuing to support attacks against Israel.”

Okay, but perhaps the US would do well to re-evaluate some of those interests. Why is the US so preoccupied with what Iran is doing in Yemen, for example? Sure, it’s engaged in a proxy war with Saudi but why should America be dragged into it? And Syria? Well, I’ve said enough about that already.

As part of a long list of charges, he criticised Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflict and its support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Look, I’m no fan of either but Iran has every right to support Bashar al-Assad. This is none of America’s business, they should concentrate on defending their clear interests, not engage in woolly moral judgements about who is supporting whom.

America has tried policing the Middle East and it has been an utter disaster, they really ought to quit. Iran is a threat to US interests for the reasons Tillerson has cited, but by including issues in which the US interests are unclear serves only to provide ammunition to those who think Trump’s administration has been captured by neo-cons baying for war.

Everyone knows what Iran is like, we don’t need any more accusations or statements of the obvious. Just state clearly where and how they are in direct conflict with American interests and take firm action in those areas, and leave the rest well alone.

Different Era, Different War, Same Mistakes

Via Adam, Breibart has an interview with a former American soldier on the manner in which the United States is conducting itself in war:

“My First Sergeant, Tommy Scott, and myself, we led a heavy weapons company in a violent province in eastern Afghanistan,” he recalled. “It seemed like the enemy was always one step ahead of us, and we discovered why. Through the aid of a counter-intel team, we uncovered twelve spies operating on our base. These were Afghan laborers that were hired by the U.S. government to serve as translators and other workers to support us so that we could focus on combat operations.”

What’s incredible about this is the exact same thing was happening in Vietnam: huge numbers of the South Vietnamese employees of the American military were spying for the Viet Cong. Either due to negligence, incompetence, or ignorance the American officers would nonetheless talk openly in front of them, often even sharing sensitive information with their supposed allies. In one chapter of his book About Face, David Hackworth tells of how he transformed an army outpost he took over, which included the installation of a sauna. He made a point of conducting his briefings in there because it was the only place he could be sure there were no Vietnamese present.

There was another amusing anecdote in Robert Mason’s Chickenhawk, his memoir of being a Huey pilot in Vietnam. He tells the story of being told by a superior officer to pick up two kids of around twelve years old who were loitering around nearby and fly them back to base for interrogation, as they were suspected to be spying for the Viet Cong. He duly did, noticing the kids in the back – who had obviously never been in a helicopter before – were staring intently out of the doors. The two were released almost immediately because, well, they were kids, and got flown back to where they were picked up. Mason then made a wry comment about how even though the Viet Cong didn’t possess any aircraft they were nonetheless able to conduct a full aerial reconnaissance of a major American base.

It seems some things never change.

Pointless Anger at the UN

From the BBC:

Syria war: Anger after Russia vetoes resolution at UN

Anger?

Russia has vetoed a draft resolution at the UN Security Council that would have condemned last week’s alleged chemical attack in Syria and demanded that Damascus cooperate with investigators.

The resolution was presented by the US, UK and France, who reacted angrily to Russia’s decision.

It was the eighth time Russia has protected its ally at the council.

Why is anyone angry at this? It was an absolute certainty that Russia was going to support its ally Assad and veto any resolution, if anyone was surprised – let along angered – by this then they ought to be fired immediately for being so unimaginably stupid that euthanasia becomes a serious consideration.

There’s no point being angry at Russia: they have made it clear they support Assad and either don’t believe he used chemical weapons or don’t care that he did. And there’s no point in being angry at their wielding a veto, this is what all the permanent members do when their allies are ganged up on (justifiably or not).

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley condemned Russia’s action: “You are isolating yourselves from the international community every time one of Assad’s planes drop another barrel bomb on civilians and every time Assad tries to starve another community to death,” she said.

So what’s new? If you don’t like how the system works, then change it or walk away. All this latest resolution has done is provide an opportunity for people to go on a jolly to New York and to demonstrate how useless the United Nations is. Again.

Trump and Nato

What’s Trump up to now?

US President Donald Trump has said Nato is “no longer obsolete”, reversing a stance that had alarmed allies.

Let me just park that there for a second and quote a paragraph from ZMan’s latest offering:

Another thing about Trump  that makes him an extreme outlier in national politics is that he is not an ideologue. Most of our politicians are quite stupid. All of their intellectual energy is focused on the endless scheming and game playing that is politics. What passes for ideology in American politics is really just a laundry list of policies aimed at buying votes from interest groups. That’s why they sound like robots. They stick to the script, even in the face of a public revolt, because that’s the safe and easy way to do it.

That’s not Trump. He is not married to any policy. In the campaign, he would regularly say something one day and then take it back two days later when it proved to be unpopular. It is safe to assume, for example, that Trump has zero interest in health care. He’ll sign off on anything that is popular with the voters. He’s also willing to dump a bad policy without worrying a bit about being called a hypocrite or inconsistent. Trump is practical about these things. If it does not work, he tosses it aside and moves onto to the next thing.

This will be terribly frustrating for partisans, but Trump is a goal oriented guy.

I don’t disagree with any of that, and I think it is a good thing that the United States finally has a President who might borrow the words of Keynes and say “when the facts change, I change my mind.” Of course this would mean that Trump is also prone to manipulation by vested interests (and many believe this is happening right now over Syria), but I think on balance it is better to have a flexible President who listens to his advisers rather than a narcissist like Obama who is convinced he’s the smartest one in the room and is interested only in his “legacy”.

But that doesn’t mean that everything Trump changes his mind on is good, though. Let’s get back to his remarks on Nato:

Mr Trump has repeatedly questioned Nato’s purpose, while complaining that the US pays an unfair share of membership.

Nato was formed for one purpose: keeping the Soviets out of western Europe. If we assume the Russia inherited Soviet regional policies along with their embassies, nuclear weapons, and permanent seat on the UNSC, that means Nato exists to keep the Russians out of western Europe.

There are some people who believe there is nothing to fear from Russia and nobody in the west should bat an eyelid if Putin & Co go around invading neighbours and annexing peninsulas, and that is fair enough. In that case, Nato has no reason to exist. There are others, like me, who think Russia’s regional ambitions are a concern and Nato should continue in the role it was originally formed to play. It is important to understand that confronting Russia over, say, the annexation of Crimea or sabre-rattling on the Estonian border is very much consistent with an overall aim of keeping Russia out of western Europe. It is better this confrontation happens in the east at an early stage than on the borders of Austria and Germany later on when the west has no choice and the Russians have the wind at their backs.

However, if this is the purpose of Nato then it is imperative that each of its members pulls its weight and commits itself fully to the military and diplomatic aims of the organisation. If they continue to do what most of them have done for the past few decades, i.e. rely on the Americans to provide 99% of the military capability and sit there carping about American warmongering while at the same time undermining them diplomatically by doing cosy business and political deals with the Russians then the organisation, as Trump originally said, really is obsolete and should be wound up pronto. I was hoping Trump’s statement would force the Nato member states to carefully consider where their long-term interests lay and to decide the future of the alliance accordingly.

But this:

At a joint press conference with Mr Stoltenberg, Mr Trump said: “The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more Nato can do in the fight against terrorism.

“I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism.

“I said it [Nato] was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”

How the hell is Nato useful in the fight against terrorism? From what I can tell, most terrorism we see in the western world today is a result of two things:

1. Failed Muslim-majority states in the Middle East and elsewhere.

2. Extremely poor government policies in western countries which border on negligence if not outright treason.

Nato is of absolutely no use in tackling either of these. I don’t even think the assault on Afghanistan that kicked the Taliban out of power should have been a Nato mission: a “coalition of the willing” would have been good enough. Sure, there was some symbolism there but all it achieved was to muddy the waters as to what Nato’s purpose is. Things were already rather opaque when the organisation was used to attack Serbia over Kosovo: regardless of the rights and wrongs of that mission, it should never have been carried out under the banner of Nato. It allowed the Russians to claim, with some justification, that Nato is not merely a defensive organisation (although I don’t believe for one second they genuinely think it represents an offensive threat to Russia).

In short, Nato ought only to exist to fight Russians trying to get their mitts on western Europe (or roll tanks over its allies and up to its borders); if the member states don’t want that then it is obsolete. Shying away from its primary purpose by pretending it can be used to fight terrorism doesn’t change this analysis, regardless of what Trump is now saying.

Earlier this week Nato welcomed Montenegro as its 29th member nation.

Which is as much proof of the organisation’s obsolescence as you need.

US Foreign Policy Lacks Clarity? Good

The BBC, like everything else except perhaps the weather, costume dramas, and cookery shows, isn’t very good at analysing foreign policy:

Of course the thing about red lines is that they need to be crystal clear.

Yes, which was exactly the problem with Obama’s use of the term: a “bunch of chemical weapons” indeed.

In the immediate aftermath of the strike this seemed to be the case.

Well, yes: use chemical weapons, get Tomahawks fired at you.

The message was: use nerve gas again and consequences will follow.

That too.

But on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer muddied the waters.

Asked if air attacks with conventional weapons might also draw US punitive action, he said: “If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people, you will see a response from this president.”

Barrel bombs, though, tend to be large canisters filled with explosives and shrapnel that are typically dropped by Syrian government forces from helicopters. In other words they are conventional rather than chemical munitions.

So was Mr Spicer broadening the red line? Belatedly the White House had to issue a clarification noting that what he really was saying was that barrel bombs containing chemical weapons would draw a US response.

I think the BBC is reading too much into this: Spicer could have used any terminology. The message is: the Trump administration can and will use military force against those it doesn’t like, in stark contrast to the policies of Barack Obama.

This lack of clarity would not matter quite so much if it was not characteristic of the Trump administration’s whole approach to foreign policy. And the stakes could not be higher.

The stakes are the same as when Obama was in charge, and we didn’t see the BBC running front-page articles about how his policy of dithering, hand-wringing, and backtracking was catastrophic even though it so obviously was.

There seems to be no central guiding brain behind the evolution of the Trump team’s foreign policy. The US president himself has failed to articulate any clear approach.

Which can be both a good and a bad thing. One of the worst aspects of Obama’s foreign policy was his constant flip-flopping and failure to back up his words with actions. This emboldened the likes of Putin and Assad to take steps which they were confident would not result in any serious reaction from the United States. The problem with this was it left the road wide open for a miscalculation, whereby somebody like Putin would either take a step too far or lose control of a situation and America would have no choice but to act, resulting in a war that nobody really wanted. Obama and Kerry also had the habit of immediately telling the world what they were not going to do in the wake of a geopolitical crisis, helpfully crossing off those options they weren’t considering. This only served to embolden America’s enemies further and increase the likelihood of a misstep.

As things stand, Trump’s approach seems to be a lot more sensible: show that he is willing to use force, and willing to use it where Obama wouldn’t, but otherwise keep quiet about what he will or won’t do given any particular situation.

With regard to Syria that may be unsettling. With regard to North Korea, it could be potentially catastrophic.

Sure, it might be better to come up with a concrete, workable policy on issues such as Syria and North Korea  – but this assumes it is possible to arrive at one. North Korea has been an intractable problem since the 1950s and there is no solution that I can see regarding Syria short of keeping well out of it. In the absence of a clear policy, it is probably better that Trump remains unpredictable and keeps America’s enemies guessing. This is far less likely to result in a catastrophe than Obama’s idiotic habit of using empty words, encouraging escalation, crying when it happens, and then doing nothing.

Beating Up Passengers Because We Can

Oh well done, United Airlines:

Videos showing a man being violently removed from a United Airlines flight have provoked an outcry on social media.

The footage taken inside the airliner shows a man being violently pulled out of his seat and dragged down the aisle as passengers prepared to take off from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday evening.

Little wonder the US government has to invent “security concerns” in order to force passengers to fly their substandard airlines instead of the vastly superior foreign ones.

As I have commented elsewhere, this is merely a natural extension of the police-state tactics that were introduced to the airline industry following 9/11: simply cite “security” and the door is open for police brutality of the type normally seen on the streets of Africa or South America. The fact they were prepared to do this in full view of the public shows how blasé the authorities have become about this sort of thing.

I am heartened by the response of the public, who were appalled and objected loudly. I am also glad that somebody videoed it and made sure everyone was aware that this is how business and the government combine to treat airline passengers these days. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if legislation is rapidly introduced to ban the taking of videos in aircraft – citing “security concern” of course.

There are some people on the internet pointing out that the customer was in breach of the law and by refusing to leave the plane was committing a criminal offence and therefore the police had every right to arrest him and remove him by force. This might be strictly true, but I don’t find the argument holds much water. You might as well say that Rosa Parks ought to have been arrested because she was actually committing a criminal offence by being black and sitting in that particular spot.

I hope this incident costs United Airlines dearly, but I suspect their lobbyists and bought-and-paid-for politicians will ensure it doesn’t.

Syria: Fuck the lot of ’em!

So the US has decided to throw a few Tomahawk missiles at the airbase from which Syria launched the planes which delivered the alleged chemical attack a few days ago.

A small part of me is thinking yeah, good. While Obama mumbled and wrung his hands and talked tough before backing down and blaming everyone else, Trump has at least shown he has the balls to make a decision. On a fundamental level, nobody is going to convince me that throwing missiles at murderous dictators, especially those who have most probably used chemical weapons on their own people, is a wholly bad thing. I had similar feelings about the Iraq War, unrelated to whether and why I supported it: kicking the shit out of the Saddam Hussein’s supposedly invincible army in a matter of days, killing his sons, and seeing him hanged in an amateur fashion from some scaffolding were, taken in isolation, things of which I approved heartily.

But that aside, I’m not overly impressed with this latest attack. As I said yesterday, Assad is there to stay: he cannot be dislodged while the Russians are supporting him. Provided he has Russian support he can, pretty much, gas who he likes. Or not. What he does or doesn’t do is up to him. I doubt anyone believes the US’ claim that this strike has limited Assad’s ability to carry out further strikes. Airfields can be repaired in hours and new planes ordered from Russia in days. If the Syrian government really wants to carry on with such attacks, it can.

What is missing is how this strike fits into an overall strategy. Yes, there is something to be said for rapid, decisive action but not if there is no coordinated followup that makes sense. It would be far better for Trump’s administration to have understood exactly what they are dealing with as regards Russia and Syria and come up with a long-term plan which puts the interests of America and its allies first and doesn’t involve making things worse or putting their citizens in harm’s way. I suspect the reason this hasn’t happened is because any such plan would involve staying the hell away from the whole mess and keeping a beady eye on Russia elsewhere. Once the western media starts filling up with pictures of dead babies and weeping relatives, a plan of this nature becomes politically unacceptable and the leadership starts lobbing missiles to show they are doing something.

Personally, I don’t think it’s completely the politicians’ fault. Having read this morning’s papers and social media, there are plenty of people – both in the Estalbishment and among the general public – who want the West (i.e. the US with some “help” from Britain) to “stop” Assad from committing any more humanitarian abuses. These voices are numerous and loud enough that politicians cannot ignore them, even if they wanted to. It is a simple fact that a policy of “fuck the lot of ’em” is not politically acceptable in the West right now.

Personally, I wish it was. Not because I wouldn’t want to help civilians being gassed by their own government, but because I honestly cannot see a solution to this. Every course of action I can think of other than “fuck ’em” has an almost zero chance of succeeding in its aims and a very high chance of making things worse. Were any Russians killed in this airstrike? I seriously hope not. I don’t have much time for the policies of the Russian government, but I really don’t want to go to war with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia is a permanent member of the UNSC and if they are okay backing a dictator who is using chemical weapons on his own people then what the hell are we supposed to do? The only thing I can think of is to get the hell out of that useless organisation ASAP. I’m sure Trump can do something with the HQ on Manhattan’s East Side.

What I don’t get is how people can’t see that. Back in October I wrote a post about changing my mind on a major issue.

I supported the Iraq War for several reasons, one of which was I thought the Iraqis deserved the chance to be free of Saddam Hussein and run their country without him.  I genuinely thought they would seize the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that Arabic people are not incompatible with democracy and, so thankful that Saddam Hussein is gone, they would make a pretty decent effort to make things work.

Instead they tore each other apart and did everything they could to demonstrate that those who dismissed them as savages that needed a strongman to keep them in line were right all along.  I think this was probably the most depressing aspect of the whole shambolic affair.

This is not 2003. We know from bitter, bloody experience what happens when we try to make things better by intervening with the military in that part of the world (or any). Iraq was a disaster, so was Libya. Syria we barely got involved in, thanks to a majority of sensible MPs who said “enough is enough”, but if we had there is little chance we’d not be neck-deep in a quagmire by now.

When we got involved in Iraq, supposedly to help the Iraqi people, the entire Arab world detested us, including those we ostensibly came to help. As I said here:

The US-led intervention in Iraq was deemed a “war on Muslims” and the Americans and their allies demonised in every possible way by locals and foreigners alike for how they executed the war and handled the aftermath. They were not just criticised, which would have been more than justified, they were made out to be a rogue nation, carrying out atrocities on a scale not seen since World War II. This was bollocks on stilts.

But the demonisation worked.  Well done.  America and its allies were detested, and eventually they left. Only a short time later when people wanted them to come back to prevent yet more butchery, they politely declined.  Instead the locals got an altogether different military turning up, one whose savagery surpasses anything the Americans could dream up never mind get away with, and whose population back home would be completely unconcerned if indeed they bothered to learn about it.

At what point are Western populations going to realise that we are hated in the Middle East, probably by the very fathers of the children who were gassed and now crying out for our help? It has been demonstrated, time and time again, that when we try to do the right thing we are hated even more. Parts of the Arab world thought they would rather have the Russians than the Americans, and now they have the Russians. How is this our fault?

It’s not through moral principle that I am saying this, it is from practicality based on fourteen years of recent, bloody experience: Assad is a monster, the Russian government is showing the world exactly what they are like by backing him, and the Syrian people are suffering terribly, but there is nothing – nothing – we can do about it. It is a terrible indictment on the state of the world, but a policy of “fuck the lot of ’em” is the only workable one on the table right now. It’s high time our leaders started taking it seriously.

Pence, Dinners, and Mythbusters

I’m back from Budapest: more on that later.

While I was away the US Vice President Mike Pence seems to have subjected himself to ridicule and outrage from various quarters due to a confession that he will not dine alone with any woman other than his wife of 32 years.

Some people believed that this may harm the careers of those women who interact with Pence professionally:

Social-science research shows this practice extends beyond politics and into the business world, and it can hold women back from key advancement opportunities.

So, is dining alone with a boss or colleague a necessary condition for professional success? The answer can be found in a rather unlikely story:

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman have worked closely with each other for 14 seasons on “Mythbusters,” but that doesn’t mean they were close.

Possibly the biggest myth the duo has busted is the belief that you can’t work with someone you don’t get along with.

I say unlikely because when you watch Mythbusters (and being a mechanical engineer who has spent a period unemployed, trust me when I tell you I have) the dynamic between the two is such that you can’t believe they are not friends in real life. But apparently not, and the article is worth reading because it shows how they moulded two conflicting personalities into a show that worked. So what’s this got to do with Pence? This:

“We don’t get along very well together on a personal level. In 25 years we’ve known each other, we’ve never had dinner alone together.”

So one of the most successful working relationships in modern times occurred between two people who never had dinner alone together. At this stage one is entitled to ask why some think women’s careers will suffer under Pence’s cruel no-dinners policy and, more importantly, what they believe women would do alone with Pence that they would not do in company. It seems to me those complaining about it either have a rather dim view of women and how they progress in their careers, or they’re projecting from how they advanced their own.

A Inevitable Result of Centralisation

Staying on the subject of parallels between Britain and the US and healthcare:

Many have been angered by a photograph of Mike Pence and an all-male Republican team reportedly deciding whether maternity care should be covered in Donald Trump’s new health insurance plan.

Women’s health and fertility rights campaign group Planned Parenthood expressed their outrage at the picture.

They wrote: “Here’s the picture of the leaders negotiating away birth control, maternity care & abortion. Notice anything?

As usual, the real story is being missed here. “Progressives” in the US pushed through Obamacare which massively increased the centralisation of healthcare provision in the federal government, before which it was more dispersed among the states. Some even suspect, with good reason, that Obamacare was merely a precursor to what said progressives really want, which is a single-payer system and the federal government funding all healthcare in the USA.

So having demanded that people’s healthcare is placed into the hands of a very few people in the federal government, the progressives are now complaining of the impact these people are having on their healthcare. Well, what did they expect?

Here’s what they expected: that those very few people wielding disproportionate influence over everyone’s lives think exactly like they do and, in this particular case, share the same sort of genitals. Better still, it will be they themselves who wield this power over everyone else.

We have a similar situation in the UK with the junior doctors, nurses, and everyone else permanently protesting at the supposedly harsh treatment the incumbent health minister is dishing out that week, particularly if he or she is Tory. They complain that government ministers are clueless about healthcare issues but at the same time vehemently insist that the government remains in charge of healthcare. Their entire existence revolves around living in hope that one day a health minister will turn up and do exactly as they want him to. You can say exactly the same for teachers in Britain too, only exchanging health minister for education minister.

It never occurs to these people when they insist power is centralised in the hands of a few people that one day those people might not be the ones you like. If feminists in the USA don’t like a handful of white men deciding whether or not insurance companies should be compelled to cover pregnancies, they shouldn’t have insisted that this is something to be decided by a handful of politicians in the first place.

Ryancare and Brexit

In the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential Election and the period immediately after it, I often referred to parallels that I thought I could see between the situation in the United States and that in Britain surrounding Brexit. And I think I’ve spotted another one.

Firstly, let me say that Trump has made an utter arse of himself over this healthcare bill: he is supposed to be the master deal maker and he’s now resorting to blaming the Democrats for not supporting what the media are now calling Ryancare. This will reflect badly on Trump, as it should, because he was in charge and he backed it. But other than that, this doesn’t really have much to do with Trump.

From what I can tell, Ryancare was a complete disaster: it didn’t address any of the fundamental problems with Obamacare, nor did it address any of the underlying issues with American healthcare that existed before the Affordable Care Act. If it looked like something thrown together in a hurry for the sake of being able to wave something around as an alternative to Obamacare, that’s because it was just that. The question is why.

If we are to believe the words that come out of their mouths, the Establishment Republicans were vehemently opposed to Obamacare and longed for the day they could repeal it. But if that were the case, they would have spent the necessary time and effort to come up with a viable alternative and presented that to the public loudly and often during those five or six years that they were in opposition and Obamacare was in force. Only they didn’t: for all their talk in the election about repealing Obamacare, when it came to the job of actually coming up with an alternative, they didn’t have a clue. And the reason for this is the Establishment Republicans never had any intention of repealing Obamacare: sure, they liked to use it as a stick with which to bash Obama, but they believed they’d either lose the election and not have to deliver on any promises, or that they could simply fudge their way through if and when they had to. I suspect the Establishment Republicans are terrified at having to come up with a genuine alternative because it will involve hard work and taking on the enormously powerful vested interests that make providing healthcare in America almost impossible.

The irony in all of this is that Trump won the Republican nomination mainly because conservatives in America were utterly fed up with Republican politicians saying one thing in public and then quietly going along with whatever the Democrats had in mind. The Establishment Republicans gave the impression they were in it not to lead and to govern but to enjoy the fruits of high office and the trappings of power, and if that meant staying in opposition but not rocking any progressive boats, so be it. So it’s hardly surprising that a lot of Republicans refused to back the mess that was to be Ryancare, they might be the ones who understand why the mainstream GOP is so detested by its base right now. I am glad this bill has failed because it would solve nothing and further entrench the Republicans as the party that cannot govern properly and can only tinker around the edges of the disastrous policies they inherit from the Democrats. Trump’s failure was to back this train-wreck and stake personal political capital on it instead of ordering the Republicans to go away and do what they should have done years ago: draw up a viable alternative.

The parallel with Brexit is that, just as the Establishment Republicans never wanted to repeal Obamacare and were wholly unprepared to do so when asked, David Cameron’s government was similarly caught out when the referendum went the opposite way it was supposed to. A serious, competent Prime Minister would have put in place a plan for both outcomes, and not get taken wholly by surprise by something they really ought to have considered, if not seen coming a mile off. Sure, I get that he resigned because he didn’t feel he could lead Britain out of Europe, but as the head of government in charge of the country his resignation should have been part of a plan which had been thought through in advance. He wouldn’t have had to publicise these plans in advance, but he ought to have had one, and he didn’t.

The reason he didn’t have a plan, and nor did anyone in the Conservative party, was because they were happy with the cosy status-quo which provided them with wealth, power, and privilege. For all their sniping about X, Y, and Z our Establishment politicians knew that those on the opposition benches and in the ivory towers of the EU were really their partners in crime in this great conspiracy to stitch up the public and keep the gravy train rolling. Which is exactly how the Establishment Republicans see the Democrats, and vice versa.

The only problem is, the citizenry, at least in part, has now woken up to it and is seeing how the game is played. Hence Brexit and hence Trump, and now the Establishment politicians are letting us all know who their real enemy is: us.