5 September 2019   Leave a comment

If you are confused about the state of Brexit, then you are just like the vast majority of people on the planet. It is very difficult to figure out what the next steps may be. Labour and defectors from the Conservative Party (who were kicked out of the party because of their defections) managed to pass a resolution blocking early elections and introduced legislation to prevent a “no-deal” Brexit. They also managed to defeat a proposal by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to call early snap elections (although that option is not foreclosed by the vote). Amanda Sloat of the Brookings Institution has written a very nice synopsis of the various alternatives available now to the Leavers and the Remainers. But Brexit is a moving target and the parties making these decisions are not interested in cooperating or pursuing a compromise. And it is not clear that the European Union is willing to cut Great Britain any more slack. But the deadline of 31 October remains fixed (for now) which gives very little time.

Jason Greenblatt, one of the main negotiators fro the Trump Administration’s Middle East peace plan, has quit his post. His departure raises further doubts about the already fragile proposals. Neither Greenblatt, who was a real estate developer before he took on the role of negotiating one of the difficult conflicts in human history, and his colleague, Jared Kushner, were notably ill-qualified to deal with the issue:

“And many experts point to Trump’s decision to appoint uninformed dilettantes like Kushner and Greenblatt to the high-level negotiating roles as one of the core failings of the administration’s efforts.

“’Trump’s Mideast peace team was set up for failure because it lacked experienced diplomats with knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,’ Guy Ziv, an Israel expert at American University in Washington, DC, told me.

“’Instead, Trump picked loyalists who knew little about the conflict to help resolve one of the most intractable conflicts in the world,’ Ziv said, adding that the team’s makeup ‘undermined America’s traditional role as an honest broker, losing all credibility with the Palestinians.’

“Although Trump says Greenblatt is merely ‘leaving to pursue work in the private sector,’ Ziv notes that ‘[t]he timing of Greenblatt’s resignation, just weeks before the ‘deal of the century’ was to be unveiled, certainly makes it clear that Greenblatt had no faith that the administration’s peace plan would get anywhere.’”

Greenblatt will be replaced by Avi Berkowitz, who graduated law school in 2016 and who was described by Business Insider in this way: ” Officially a special assistant to the president and assistant to the senior adviser, Berkowitz is Kushner’s right-hand man in the White HouseHope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, told Business Insider that Berkowitz’s role was primarily administrative and involved assisting Kushner with daily logistics like getting coffee or coordinating meetings.” The appointment does not inspire a great deal of confidence. One could easily infer that the Trump Administration is not the least bit interested in Middle East peace.

US Vice-President Pence visited Ireland and it is safe to say that the Irish were not pleased by the event. Mr. Pence stayed at the Trump property in Doonbeg which was about 180 miles from his meeting with Irish officials in Dublin. He also made it very clear that he and the Trump Administration support British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a no-deal Brexit, a stance that jeopardizes the relationship of the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland. Irish Times columnist Miriam Lord had some harsh words for the Vice-President:

“She described the impact of the Pence visit on Ireland as ‘like pulling out all the stops for a much-anticipated visitor to your home and thinking it has been a great success until somebody discovers he shat on the new carpet in the spare room, the one you bought specially for him’.

“’As Pence read from the autocue and Irish eyes definitely stopped smiling,’ she added, ‘it was clear he was channeling His Master’s Voice. Trump is a fan of Brexit and of Boris.’

“’Pence,’ Lord continued, ‘is Irish American and wastes no opportunity to go misty-eyed about his love for the ‘Old Country’ as he lards on his Mother Machree schtick on both sides of the Atlantic.’

Lord wasn’t alone in her criticism. The Cork Examiner’s political editor, Daniel McConnell, wrote: ‘The cheek of him coming here, eating our food, clogging up our roads and then having the nerve to humiliate his hosts.’”

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has demanded information about the decision for Pence to stay at a Trump-owned property that was so far away from the diplomatic venue and insulting to their Irish hosts who had prepared for Pence to stay in Dublin.

Posted September 5, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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