Four disasters this week

Between the horrible earthquake outside of Mexico City and Hurricane Maria, two disasters are harming people. This is on top of the two terrible hurricanes that hit Texas (Harvey) and Florida and the Caribbean Islands (Irma) in the past three weeks. We need to help those impacted and who may still be impacted as Maria continues onward. At last count, 245 people in Mexico City and the area have died from the earthquake and Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, etc. have been decimated by Maria.

While it is highly likely man-influenced climate change has made the hurricanes more powerful, two other disasters are clearly man-made and harmful to people. For one, we have to travel to Myanmar and Bangladesh as the government of Myanmar is doing an ethnic cleansing of a minority group of Muslims called Rohingyas. Over 400,000 Rohingyas have sought refuge in Bangladesh to escape the raping, killing, beating and burning of their homes. Sadly, the leader of Myanmar is Aung San Suu Kyi, who won a Nobel Prize for standing up to the military rulers she has replaced, has stood silent.

The other disaster was embodied in the US President who did his best impersonation of former USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev. During the Cold War, Khrushchev beat on his table with his shoe and announced to the United Nations crowd that if you don’t watch out “We will bury you.” This is beyond the pale of decorum and tact and painted the Soviet Leader as a pariah, rightfully so.

Scrolling forward fifty plus years to this week, the current White House incumbent spoke to other world leaders at the United Nations in a bombastic manner that could not be confused with civil discourse or diplomacy. Compared to low expectations, Trump had some presentable parts of his speech, yet he falls way short when compared to his predecessors. Beating on his chest, he told the world he would have no problem in killing tens of millions of North Koreans wiping the country from the face of the earth.

While a few more controlling leaders are OK with Trump’s bombast, many leaders have been critical of the Nikita-like speech. I have witnessed in interviews the UN Leader, the President of France, the Leader of the International Monetary Fund, the current Mayor of New Orleans and the former Mayor of New York each show their dismay over Trump’s words and bombast. There are others. Watching the body language of General Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff, during the speech was very telling.

Long before this, Trump has shown to other leaders, he is not trustworthy or knowledgeable about global affairs. A Republican global advisor to Mitt Romney even used the word “ignoramus” to define the President’s foreign policy. Trudy Rubin, one of the best writers on global affairs, said Trump “Does not care to learn what he does not know.”

But, Trump has done even more, as evidenced by his speech. He has made America out to be a pariah in the world. That is highly frustrating to this American. I clearly recognize North Korea is a dilemma. I also fear the man who will make our decisions on this as he has little understanding of the situation and will likely stir up matters where cooler heads are needed.

When boys with toys start comparing egos and name calling, it makes military action a higher probability. We should not confuse being tough or having seriousness of purpose with sounding tough – the White House incumbent does not understand this. And, one thing Americans, the majority of whom support military action, need to think about is the other side will shoot back and millions will die in South Korea, Japan and maybe in the US. We only need to watch the documentary series on The Vietnam War to understand what happens when we think we are invincible and don’t tell the truth to the American people. Let’s seek diplomatic solutions.

19 thoughts on “Four disasters this week

  1. Dear Keith,
    Military action should always be a last resort.

    All this devastation from weather events is all so exhausting to watch. The devastation in Mexico and Puerto Rico is heart breaking and real.

    Then there is DDT acting like Khrushchev that happens to make me more nervous than Kim Jong Un. playing with his missiles. DDT just lessened the chance for any diplomacy.

    Hugs, Gronda

  2. Excellent post, Keith! I, too, immediately saw in my mind, Khrushchev when I first read Trump’s chilling words, and I thought, “Does he not realize that North Korea … every nation in the world … is comprised of PEOPLE?” He has lost sight, if he ever had it, of what is important in this world, in life.

    I have wanted to write about the situation, the genocide in Myanmar, but every time I start, I am too discouraged to finish. Thank you for bringing that to our attention, for it is too important for us to ignore. Unfortunately, we are so caught up, I think, in our own troubles on this side of the globe that we are unable to fully process what is happening elsewhere.

    Anyway, excellent take on everything, and I shall be re-blogging this post. Thanks!

    • Thanks Jill. The Myanmar ethnic cleansing is disturbing. Your piece on the Trump/ Khruschev comparison is more complete than this one, but thanks for the reblog. Much appreciated, Keith

  3. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    My friend and fellow-blogger Keith has written another excellent post that I would like to share with you today. He speaks of four disasters this week, and … well, I will let Keith tell you in his own words, for there is really nothing for me to add. Thank you, Keith for such an excellent, well-stated post, and for your permission to re-blog.

  4. Yes, diplomacy first. I struggle to remain detached from Trump’s threatening UN words — otherwise, I’d be overcome with terror. So, who’s a terrorist? Our own President, I am afraid.

  5. I feel as if the world is spinning faster. Perhaps there are more sunspots than usual … Seriously, we seem to be at the centre of a global political and climatic whirlpool, no less here in Europe than you in America. How I wish there were boring, safe, dependable politicians and diplomats in charge. I would rather have politics as usual, frankly, than this, but it seems we are at a turning point – in the west at least – of some kind. Let’s hope it all settles down into its new framework before we tumble into an even more major global catastrophe.

    • Thanks for your comment. It is unsettling. This is a key reason I hope Angela Merkel wins this weekend. Right now, she is the leader of the free world and is calming presence. I watched Bill Gates this morning list the major issues he and is wife our helping resolve – global health, education, women’s rights, etc. This is the kind of leadership we need versus whatever the incumbent in the White House is doing. Thanks again, Keith

  6. Interesting post Keith.
    Something troubling is happening. Call it apocalyptic if you will, but the events unfolding do not fall into the ‘normal’ patterns of anything…be they natural disaster or political maneuvers. Rational explanations seem to have flown out of the window.
    Since your post, Puerto Rico is still being pounded with torrential rain, a dam has collapsed causing evacuation and the island has lost all infrastructure. Electricity is unlikely to be restored for as much as a year on.
    This and other trashed islands, maybe just the first cracks in a civilisation collapse…and I don’t think people (unaffected so far) have thought about it.

    As for political events…Aung San Suu Kyi has never supported the minority groups in Myanmar. She is a little bit like a ‘racist Trump,’ in that she sees herself as elitist (despite her rhetoric), defending the Buddhist traditions only. I knew this even when she was first released from house arrest after talking with a minority refugee from Myanmar who told me that his small ‘tribe’ of people did not like her.

    Merkle is an Eastern German, thinking, intelligent politician in every sense. She was instrumental in the deposition of Helmut Kohl (her mentor, and supporter through male dominated politics), and she is a tough defender of German principles. She is the puppet string holder of every country in the EU. While it would be nice to think of the EU as peaceful and prosperous, it is really just a series of strategic alliances. I liken it rather to ‘Pirates,’ who give allegiance to each other against officers of the law, but the try goal is to gain as much ‘booty’ for ones self as possible…and no one really shares!

    Trumpest and Baby Kim are just the unfettered examples of a world sentiment that is selfish and bombastically destructive of anything someone else possess.’

    The ancient Mayans know all about political elitism and how it fails during the onslaught of natural disaster. Once the political elites cannot provide stability, people flee to the four corners and a civilisation collapses overnight.

    The first cracks are becoming increasingly difficult to repair.

    • Colette, I enjoyed your well written comment. We do live in interesting times, but we always must remember bad news is over reported and good news is underreported. With that said, our White House incumbent is not an enabler to productive discussion and he governs off fear and rhetoric.

      Collaboration is hard work. Helping the little guy takes political courage. I am disappointed in the US and Myanmar leaders in this regard. I harken back to Nelson Mandela when he took power. It would have been easy for him to discriminate against the white minority after Apartheid, but he galvanized the country. Unfortunately, much of what he did has fallen apart after his death, which points to why it is hard work to collaborate.

      Thanks for your comment, Keith

      • Yes, you have a good point Keith. We do only hear the bad stuff mostly.

        I am not a fatalist, but I am a pragmatist, and I, long ago, lost my rose coloured glasses because I was invariably let down by one ideology or another. No one is perfect, and while I respect political views from left, right, and middle ground protagonistic politicians, I cannot profess to hold any of them dear to my heart. I prefer really to assess events as I see them. The day we stop trying to control and manipulate the world, instead of trying to fit in with it in a symbiotic manner, will be the day we find true enlightenment. But for now, the path looks a bit dark!

      • Colette, your comment of seeking a symbiotic environment would be the closest we humans could be to nirvana. I used to believe legislators had better information and analysis than citizens and could make more informed decisions. I stopped believing that many years ago. I think Bush’s WMD storytelling for invading Iraq was the last straw for me. Keith

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