27 July 2018   Leave a comment

This post has been updated.

It seems clear that the Pakistan Movement for Justice, the party of Imran Khan, has won the national election in Pakistan.  Although there were many charges of corruption and fraud in the election, few protests have broken out in Pakistan against the legitimacy of the election.  The election is only the second time in Pakistani history that a change in government occurred by normal democratic processes, but even so there remain deep suspicions in the country that the Pakistani military was heavy-handed in its desire to see the party of Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, lose the election.  [This statement is not completely accurate.  In the Pakistani general election of 2008, a peaceful transfer of power was effected from a military government to a civilian government.  In the general election of 2013, power transferred from a civilian government to another civilian government after a normal 5 year term.  I am grateful to a careful reader for drawing my attention to this necessary correction. A more accurate sentence would read “a peaceful change in civilian governments after the completion of an appointed term”. ]  It is difficult to assess the impact of Khan’s victory, but, at this point, it seems consistent with the victories of other populist politicians in the world.  In terms of foreign policy, Khan’s party will likely be constrained by the Pakistani military which suggests that sympathy and support for the Taliban in Afghanistan will continue.  Khan will also probably continue Pakistan’s close economic ties with China.  Khan will also toe the military line on Kashmir and ties with India. 

Imran Khan

 

David Wallace-Wells has written an essay for New York Magazine on climate change which is, quite frankly, terrifying.  As I was reading it, I kept telling myself to relax because he was extrapolating from current trends with no accounting for possible modifications for human behavior.  And that caveat is always a good thing to keep in mind when reading predictions about what the earth’s climate might be like in 2100.  But I was also aware of two factors that were alarming.  First, is that these have been, to date, few modifications in human behavior to avert the worst case possible.  Perhaps as the evidence becomes more compelling, we will take stronger measures, but as of now, there is no reason to believe that the worst case will change the emissions of greenhouse gases.   But each day that we delay, makes the worst case more likely.  The second, more disturbing, factor was that some of the worst cases will, in fact, alleviate the crisis.  If, for example, tropical diseases mutate, become more pervasive, and more difficult to treat, then the human population will decline.  The same is true for food shortages, migrations that induce conflict, and shortages of critical resources such as water.  In other words, the system is capable of self-regulation–just very unpleasant self-regulation.  It makes absolutely no sense to ignore worst cases simply because they do not seem likely,  Ignoring worst cases makes them very likely.

 

There is an interesting dance going on between US President Trump and Russian President Putin.  After the Helsinki meeting between the two, it seemed doubtful that there would be another meeting since many–Republicans and Democrats alike–did not believe that Mr. Trump had acquitted himself well.  It was surprising, therefore, that President Trump suggested another meeting between the two to take place in Washington, DC “sometime in the fall”.  That suggestion, however, was not greeted warmly by most observers and Mr. Putin did not respond at all to the suggestion.  The suggestion was then withdrawn and replaced by a suggestion that a meeting should take place after the first of the year.  Today, however, Mr. Putin indicated that he had invited Mr. Trump to Moscow while they were in Helsinki and that he was open to meeting President Trump in Washington, DC.  All this back and forth–which would have occurred in the background in normal circumstances and not in the open–suggests that Mr. Putin is taking great pleasure in jerking Mr. Trump’s chain.  It is becoming crystal clear who is the alpha dog in this contest.

Posted July 27, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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