Cats and dogs lying together, Middle East edition

We are living in an age where up is down and down is up. The utterly bizarre spectacle of the Rittenhouse trial in the US is one depressing example; the absurdist nomination of a shoplifter to head a branch of the US Treasury Dept. is another. (Well, she has many good things to say about the USSR, so at least she’s consistent, some would say.)

But here in the Middle East, there is topsy-turvy of another, more hopeful kind.

 Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin meeting with Commander of the Kingdom’s Air Force Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Nasser Mohammed al-Alawi, Commander of the German Airforce  Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, November 14, 2021.  (photo credit: LUFTWAFFE/KEVIN SCHRIEF)
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BONUS: unrelated, but via the twitter feed of Lahav Harkov at the Jerusalem Post (she’s one of the redeeming features of that paper). Walter Russell Mead “gets it”: COP26 and the global Age of Shams (archived copy)

If there is one thing the world should take away from the Glasgow COP26 summit, it’s that the most dangerous greenhouse-gas emissions come from the front ends of politicians, not the back ends of cows. Pandering is much more dangerous to human civilization than methane, strategic incompetence a graver threat than CO2; and dysfunctional establishment groupthink will likely kill more polar bears than all the hydrofluorocarbons in the world. 

The 19th-century writer Thomas Carlyle wrote of an Age of Shams in prerevolutionary France, when the chattering classes and political leaders had so fundamentally lost contact with the underlying realities of the day that they could no longer understand the political challenges facing the French social order, much less respond to them. The elaborate rituals of court life in Versailles persisted, the ministers and bureaucrats went through the motions of governance, and intellectuals sparkled in the salons—while the French monarchy sailed, like the Titanic, toward its rendezvous with destiny. 

COP26 was the kind of hollow ritual that characterized Carlyle’s Age of Shams. As one politician after another committed their countries to carefully crafted unenforceable pledges, none had the bad manners to observe that no country anywhere fully honored the climate pledges made with such fanfare in Paris six years ago. 

Read the whole thing. And speaking of one of the biggest shams of all: the UNRWA, the agency most responsible for keeping the “Palestinian refugee problem” alive, wails it is on the brink of bankruptcy. Strange how a hereditary-in-perpetuity definition of “refugee” — AFAIK unique in the world — doesn’t solve a refugee problem 😉 but ensures the continued existence of the agency… Whodathunkit?

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