By M.R. Josse
TAMPA, FL: In Florida, particularly along west coast, there was relief that the monster hurricane Dorian, which decimated the Bahamas, made landfall not even on Florida’s east coast, as had been initially projected, but in North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
By then, it had weakened to a category 1 hurricane; subsequently, it moved away heading towards Canada’s Atlantic coast before dissipating.
Dorian hovered over the Bahamas as a category 5 storm, devastating towns and leaving over 40 dead, with many more unaccounted for and rendering thousands homeless.
There were several lessons that one imbibed, especially the detailed and constantly updated projections and reports on the hurricane – not to mention the massive preparations on all coastal settlements in states along the Atlantic shore.
Doubtless, that explains the relative low casualty toll. I could not but ruminate that, terrible as the hurricane was, potential victims had days to prepare for the worst – quite unlike in the case of a massive earthquake of which there is no accurate prediction about where it will occur, when exactly and with what intensity.
It was particularly educative to see how smoothly myriad hurricane-relevant arrangements were put into operation, including in evacuation, getting food, water, medicine and fuel in place, in time, in order to save lives and otherwise mitigate Dorian’s baleful impact.
Equally exemplary was to witness how rapidly relief operations were put into operation, including commandeering a cruise ship to ferry thousands of victims in the Bahamas to a Florida coastal city. So, too, to witness how quickly and widely donation drives were organized by a welter of non-governmental bodies in order to bring some tangible relief to the victims.
Going by the televised images of the heart-wrenching destruction wrought by Dorian, particularly in the Bahamas, it will be years, if not decades, before things return to normal. For that, a global effort, spearheaded by the U.N. or some such global agency, is urgently called for.
Yet, noting that there is simply no dearth of natural and man-made disasters to focus humanitarian attention upon, I doubt that the needed assistance, in the quantities that are called for, will be forthcoming over the long haul.
I do hope, however, that I am proved wrong.
With Labor Day now over there seems to be a greater urgency to the on-going political campaigning for the 2020 presidential elections, especially in the Democratic camp. As the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) would have it, the top perceived contenders for the mantle of party nominee are former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Columnist Gerald F. Seib prognosticates: “The campaign has now reached a point at which the lead that Mr. Biden enjoys in the polls can’t be dismissed as simply early-days flukes…Biden’s lead has been consistent for four months, confirmed in polls released this year, and is nearly identical to ones the then candidate Donald Trump enjoyed at this point in a similarly crowded Republican field four years ago.”
Of course, Biden continues to stumble on the campaign trail, including on quoting dates and such; there was huge amusement, for example, the other day when in a public speech he miscalled the president’s name as Donald Hump!
As far as I am concerned, it is far too early to be categorical about how things will eventually pan out, including on the Republican front where three worthies have lately thrown their hats in the ring. On the face of it, I believe that is of purely academic worth: love him or hate him, Trump will be the GOP presidential nominee for the 2020 polls! But in politics does one really know?
There was huge public interest in trying to unravel this conundrum: what really scuttled the much hyped U.S.-Taliban deal. That happened over the weekend when Trump, citing a suicide bomb attack in Kabul that killed 12 including an American soldier – during an announced ceasefire.
That apparently scuppered a secret, imminent meeting at Camp David by Trump with Taliban leaders, and separately, the Afghan president. According to the New York Times, the summit fell apart because of the Taliban’s resistance to U.S. terms, particularly to the idea of talking directly with the Afghan government – which the Taliban continue to label as a U.S. “stooge” – and because of the rushed plan for a Camp David summit.
Following the cancellation of the meeting the Taliban grimly warned of consequences, thus: “More than anyone else, the loss will be for the United States…Their human and treasure loss will increase.”
Some observers maintain that such a meeting was a big gamble; by canceling Trump may have thwarted his own campaign promises to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Others are not so sanguine; yet others are livid that such a politically risky initiative could have been scheduled at the hallowed grounds of Camp David – and that, too, days before the 18th anniversary of 9/11.
This issue should resonate powerfully on the 2020 campaign trail.
WSJ columnist Walter Russell Mead argues that “An Indo-Pacific coalition aimed at balancing China will look and feel very different from the Atlantic Alliance that contained Soviet communism after World War II.”
He says that “India wants to cooperate with U.S. to reduce the threat from China, but concepts such as ‘the liberal international order’ have no real purchase in New Delhi. India may be a democracy but it isn’t a crusader”
Mead says the rules of alliance-building are also different in the Indo-Pacific as compared to the Atlantic Alliance and adds that Colombo does not see China as does India. Their goal isn’t to choose between the jockeying great-power rivals, but to keep the bidding perpetually open. “They want to avoid pushing any great power into outright hostility and to ensure that each one has reasons to support Sri Lankan independence.”
An eminently suitable/security foreign strategy for Nepal – if you ask me.