Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Three Educated Men, a Conversation and Today's Middle East Thoughts


                                               http://www.search-best-cartoon.com/cartoon-alligator/cartoon-alligator-11.jpg
Three Well-Educated Men

One person we are talking about attended Drew College Preparatory School, a private college-prep high school ln San Francisco.  Afterwards, he attended San Francisco State University where he earned a BA in 1981 and an MA in 1982 in international relations.   At the University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies, he obtained a second MA in International Relations in 1984 and a PhD in International Law and Policy in 1988.

Another person we are talking about attended the Fessenden School in Newton, Massachusetts, and later St. Paul's in Concord, New Hampshire, both prestigious preparatory schools. Majoring in Political Science, he received a BA from Yale University in 1966.  Subsequently, after military service, he received a Bachelor of Laws degree from Boston College School of Law in 1976.

Another person we are talking about graduated from Cheltenham High School (a suburb of Philadelphia).  After military service, he studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a BS in architecture in 1975 and a MS in 1977 from MIT's Sloan School of Management.



Can you identify these three individuals, all of whom are in some way connected with international diplomacy today?  (Answers appear at the end of this posting.)
JL



                                              http://www.search-best-cartoon.com/cartoon-alligator/cartoon-alligator-11.jpg

A Conversation 

Jack Lippman


”Do you know what time it is?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Why don’t you look at your watch?”

“I don’t have one!”

“Then look at your cell phone.”

“That’s a good idea.  Sorry I didn’t think of it.”

Glancing at the phone he pulled out of his pocket, the man cleared his throat and announced, “It’s just a minute after four.”

“Yes.  And we close at four, so you might as well come back tomorrow.”

“Hey, I was here before four o’clock but you stalled me by asking me if I knew what time it was.”

“According to my watch, it was already four o’clock when you walked in.”

http://www.ibscart.com/ProductImagesBig/Black-TimexWristChronographMenswatchT2N158-2112--1-518PMPhoto4-IBS.jpg

“I think your watch must be fast.  Anyhow, since I’m here, could you please make an exception and take care of me.  I really am in a rush and can’t make it back tomorrow.”

“Ah, you look like a nice guy, so okay, I will.”

“Fine.  Now listen carefully.  I have a revolver in my pocket.  Here’s a shopping bag.  Shove all the bills in your drawer into it, and no funny business with alarms and buttons.”

“What?  I agreed to make an exception if you were here for some normal banking business, but as for a bank robbery, I cannot do that.  We close at four, and if you want to rob us, you have to do that during regular banking hours.  I bet you’re not even a regular customer of ours.  You know, I can get into trouble for handling a normal transaction after closing time, and as for a robbery, that is completely out of the question!  They’d fire me.”

“What kind of schmuck are you anyway?  This is a gun in my pocket.”

“Go ahead and shoot me if you want.  You know I am not a regular teller.  This branch got rid of them a couple of months ago.  I am actually a humanoid robot, built and programmed to look and act like a regular teller.  I am glad you pointed out that my watch was fast.  That means I get to go back to the shop for a few days to get reprogrammed.  But don’t waste your bullets on me.  They’ll just bounce off.  That’s the way I am built.”

With that, the man turned and quickly walked out of the door of the bank into the parking lot.  Terry Murphy, behind the teller’s window, pulled out a handkerchief and wiped his brow. 

"Boy,” he said, “that sure was a close one.  But I do have to reset the minute hand on my watch.”

Alternate ending (It's up to you to choose which one you prefer.)

“Boy,” he said,” that sure was a close one.  But I do have to reset the minute hand on my watch .. watch .. watch ..  watch .. watch .. watch .. watch .. watch .. watch .. watch .. watch .. watch .. watch .. watch .. watch ..

                                                   http://www.search-best-cartoon.com/cartoon-alligator/cartoon-alligator-11.jpg

Terrorism, the Money Trail and the Roman Empire
Today, a group of terrorists attacked tourists visiting a museum in Tunisia.  But these  killers are only a part of what many groups throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia and even Europe, are doing  in the name of what they call the Islamic State, in the name of Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Al Shabbab or whatever.  Shielding themselves behind the guise of fighting for Islam, their struggle is really a political one.  Islam does not separate government from theology, so political battles become religious missions.
 
Traditionally, Western nations have been able to wage war against aggressor nations. But when the “enemy” is not a government, but rather a cause cloaked in theology, doing so becomes difficult.  If we are able to defeat the jihadist movements, who can we get to sign the surrender papers?

The only way for us to defeat Islamic terrorism is to “follow the money” and cut off its flow to terrorists.   Weapons, logistics, training and recruiting all cost money.   Other than what they steal, as ISIS has done in Syria and Iraq, these terrorists have no economy to harness to provide resources to support their activities.  But they are getting money from somewhere.
 
Western nations should put the highest priority on tracing the source of the financial resources which support Islamic terrorism.  Conceivably, since the purported goal of Islamic terrorism is to spread the faith, some Muslim nations and naive individuals throughout the world are comfortable in providing these groups with financial resources.  They may not agree with their violent means, but they do agree with their ultimate goals, particularly when they are couched in theological terms.  Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States may fall into this category.  Similarly, Muslims interested in the cause of the Palestinians provide financial resources to groups such as Hamas, and other Islamic groups which resort to violence.

This money flow must be meticulously traced and cut off.  Western nations and their banking systems must use this as a weapon to fight Islamic terrorism.  Economic and financial sanctions can be great tools, and with the increase of petroleum resources outside of the Middle East, the financial backers of Islamic terror should be told to cease and desist from doing so immediately.  Let them drink their oil.


And when the Middle East finally settles down, is there a democratic solution for these nations?  Two millenniums ago, this area was ruled with an iron fist by the Roman Empire in cooperation with local despots.  Individual freedoms were sacrificed for a relatively peaceful period known as the Pax Romana.  Would a return to those days be an improvement over what is going on there today?
JL



                                               http://www.search-best-cartoon.com/cartoon-alligator/cartoon-alligator-11.jpg

The three "well-educated men" in this posting's first item are, in the order they appeared in the item: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister (at the time of this writing) Benjamin Netanyahu.  Yes, America is indeed the best place to come for an education.  (Incidentally, both of Zarif's children were born in the United States, and his son, Mahdi, is a graduate of the City University of New York.  The Zarifs spent many years in New York City while he was Iran's United Nations delegate. )
                                                        http://www.search-best-cartoon.com/cartoon-alligator/cartoon-alligator-11.jpg

HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACK'S POTPOURRI. 
BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)

MOBILE DEVICE ACCESS.
DID YOU KNOW THAT www.jackspotpourri.com IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICES IN A MODIFIED, EASY-TO-READ, FORMAT?   

HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman 



Thursday, March 5, 2015

Negotiations with Iran, Ferguson, Thoughts on Wearing the Flag and a Short Story

                                            http://www.themaac.com/images/turtles/turtle1.gif


Compromise is the Essence of Diplomacy
You can’t argue with the words Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered to Congress the other day.  Iran, since 1979, has said innumerable times that they want to destroy the State of Israel.  This is the basis for his and our opposition to anything which would bring Iran closer to having nuclear weapons.  Once they possess them, they would become capable of physically destroying Israel.  Although this would be highly unlikely since an attempt to do so would result in the immediate retaliatory physical destruction of Tehran and most population centers in Iran, it would still have a damaging psychological effect on Israel.  More likely, a nuclear Iran would weaken Israel’s negotiation position concerning the Palestinians and Israel’s future security, and promote the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the unstable states of the Middle East which would not be a good thing.


http://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/netanyahu-speech.jpgIsraeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Diplomacy and negotiations about anything involve compromise.  And as Netanyahu said, dealing with Iran is like dealing in a Persian bazaar.  Walk away, reject compromise, and lo and behold, sooner or later they’re back with a different deal.  But do you want to deal and compromise with someone you cannot trust?  Not unless they give you the economic or political equivalent of their first-born to hold as hostage should they not live up to any agreement.

I believe the United States and Israel both want  solidly enforceable limits on Iran’s supposedly peaceful nuclear energy program, so that it cannot ever morph into a weapons program.  Enforcement, contrary to past efforts, must be iron-clad equivalents of holding their first-born as hostage.  This can be achieved by powerful economic sanctions, which the rest of the world must respect.  As for a time limit on such limits on their nuclear development, if Iran’s program is truly a peaceful one, they should not insist on any.  I believe the schism between the United States and Israel arises out of the details of such enforceable limits, in terms of time and extent.

If Iran agrees to such limits acceptable to the United States and Israel (and the other powers involved in the negotiations go along with it), what is the United States (and Israel) prepared to offer to Iran in exchange?   Chiefly, that would involve an eventual loosening of sanctions so that the Iranian economy could grow.  Right now, it is crumbling, due to decreasing oil prices and its own structural weaknesses.  Iran might value economic growth more than developing nuclear weapons.

What's Off Limits:  As for allowing Iran to develop a controlling role in the Middle East, negotiations should not touch that issue with the proverbial ten-foot pole.  Their role in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and most recently, Yemen, shows their intent, but making that part of the deal, particularly as it involves Syria, would doom negotiations as it would turn them into a Shi’a-Sunni battle, as well as alienating other Middle East states with whom we are friendly.  

Similarly, asking Iran to reverse its position as to Israel would doom negotiations.  A change in that would be first noticeable by an eventual reduction in anti-Israel rhetoric, hoped for, but it should not to be on the table in Geneva. That is something for a future agenda.  All that should be negotiated at this time are iron-clad limits on nuclear development, economic sanctions and applicable time limits for both.  Hopefully, the “better deal” Netanyahu seeks may yet be achieved in Geneva.  No deal at all, unfortunately, would leave an unbridled Iran free to do whatever it wants to do.  Is that a better position for Israel and the West to be in than some sort of deal which is the result of negotiations and compromise and which keeps us on the inside rather than on the outside trying to look in? 
Jack Lippman
                                                    http://www.themaac.com/images/turtles/turtle1.gif

Ferguson and the American Flag
The recent report on the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department painted an organization which treated Afro-Americans differently from white citizens and communicated among themselves and via social media in a racially bigoted manner.  Steps will be taken, hopefully, on a local and Federal level to change these things.  The broader question this asks is how many police organizations throughout the country, from big cities to small towns and counties, behave in the same manner.  The presence of Afro-American officers on some police forces may serve to lessen such behavior, but it still cannot be denied that it exists.

We are all Americans.   Some Americans, however, feel it necessary to display the American flag, be it as a lapel pin, a shoulder patch on a uniform shirt or jacket or a decal on a police car or other vehicle.  Some football teams even include an American flag on their helmets.  I wonder what the point is of such displays of conspicuous Americanism.  Is it to show that they are more patriotic and American than someone who does not conspicuously show the flag?   Does it tacitly give some “official” sanction to their behavior? 

http://images34.fotki.com/v392/photos/4/42477/3898876/313-vi.jpg

 
http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/ODAwWDczOA==/z/KkcAAOxyMZVTj63g/$_35.JPG  

In Nazi Germany, people were arrested for not displaying the swastika flag from their windows.   Officials wore that flag as an armband as well.   This gave them the appearance of unquestioned loyalty to the Fatherland.  Those who did not manifest such displays, even if they were just as loyal to the state, were subject to having that loyalty questioned.  I wonder if some of this is present in the conspicuous usage of the American flag today?  And particularly if it is carried on by those whose behavior includes practices which are clearly un-American, as was the case in Ferguson.

   
Do Barack Obama and Paul Ryan need to wear flags in their lapels to prove their patriotism?

JL

                                                           http://www.themaac.com/images/turtles/turtle1.gif




The Big Sale   (a short story from my archives)

Jack Lippman

At nine a.m. sharp, the doors swung open for what had been advertised as the greatest after-Christmas sale the Emporium had ever had. 

The advertisements had announced unbelievable sale prices on everything in the store, including merchandise which had never before been put on sale. By dawn, the crowd, many of whom had lined up before midnight, had overflowed from the sidewalk onto the street.  A phone call to the city had brought a hastily organized squad of police to augment the store’s security force, but even then, it was becoming difficult to control what was fast becoming an unruly mob.  When an icy rain began to fall at about seven a.m., the crowd had started chanting “Open the doors, open the doors,” and pushed closer to the building to get some shelter from the weather.  One of the glass doors at one of the entrances had actually buckled from the pressure of the now soaked crowd.  People were passing out and getting stepped on.  Ambulances had already been called to the scene joining with the police vehicles already there.  But the people were undeterred in their quest for what they hoped would be the bargains of a lifetime.  The ads had promised designer fashions at 80% off of their pre-Christmas prices, furs and jewelry drastically reduced and toys at less than wholesale cost!
 
Seymour Simon, the store’s manager, was knocked to the floor as the throng poured through the doors.  He shrieked with pain as the pointed stiletto heel of a woman’s shoe dug into the small of his back.  The sales force, frightened by the onrushing tide, retreated behind their counters, cowering out of reach of the customers who were ravenously sweeping up merchandise from the racks and tables.  The sound of breaking glass could be heard, as display cases were smashed by buyers eager to acquire what was in them.  It was if a swarm of locusts were sweeping through the store, grasping and devouring everything in sight.

But as unruly as the mob might have been, they were not thieves.  They had come to buy what was on sale.  And so, arms loaded with coats and suits and dresses and vacuum cleaners and luggage and necklaces and shoes and computers and toys and whatever else they were able to grab up at unbelievably low prices, they lined up at the cash registers with money and credit cards in hand.  It soon, however, became apparent that the lines were not moving, not even an inch.  The crowd, whose fury had lessened once they were let in out of the rain, gradually became more raucous and nasty once again.

Seymour Simon, his head bandaged and the left sleeve of his suit shredded, fresh from being treated by the EMTs, climbed as best he could atop a table which minutes earlier had been laden with Ralph Lauren Polo Sportshirts, originally $59.95, now reduced to $11.95.   He spoke into a hand-held microphone which carried his voice through loudspeakers on all four floors of the store.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he stammered.  Droplets of blood came out of his mouth where a broken tooth had cut into his tongue.  “Please bear with us.  Please make room for the paramedics who are trying to get to some people who have been trampled.”

“Mr. Manager, “a fat lady carrying at least twelve dresses from the Dana Buchman Collection called out.  “That’s very nice that the EMTs are here, but how about getting someone to take our money.  This line ain’t moving.”

A young woman, obviously a store employee, tugged at Seymour’s leg, attracting his attention.

“What is it, Stephanie?  Can’t you see I am handling a problem?” 

“Mr. Simon, I think the computers are down and the cash registers aren’t working.”

“Oh, crap!  Are we trying to get them fixed, Stephanie?  Whom have you spoken to?

“Mr. Simon,” Stephanie continued as she fended off a woman who was trying to rip her bracelet off., “Both of our computer technicians have been rushed to the hospital.  Some of the crowd got into their office and there was a fight when they tried to take their laptops from them … and Madame, please get your filthy hands off of me.  I am not a mannequin.”

“Watch your language, Stephanie.   We don’t want to get sued, you know.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Seymour, thinking quickly on his feet, once again turned and addressed the merchandise-laden mob, “Folks, I have some bad news for you and some good news for you as well.  First, the bad news.  Our computers are temporarily down and we can’t operate our cash registers, so we won’t be able to complete the purchases you want to make today.”

A chorus of boos sprinkled with profanities resounded throughout the store.  A lamp flew across the store shattering a mirrored wall and narrowly missing Seymour’s head.

“Now the good news,” he continued.  “If you would tell the clerk at the register what merchandise you wanted to buy today, and give us your name and some sort of identification, you can come back to the store when our cash registers are operating, and we will let you purchase it then, and to compensate you for your inconvenience, you can have another ten percent off of today’s prices.  Okay, folks?”

“I told you this was a phony sale, Maggie,” a gruff voice hollered out.  “They never intended to sell all of this stuff so cheap.  False advertising, that’s what it is!” 

A dull roar of agreement swept through the crowds of angry customers hovering around the registers on all four floors of the Emporium. 

“You’re all a bunch of phonies!”

“They should be put in jail!  Crooks, crooks, that’s what you are!

Just about then, amidst the noise and confusion, someone grabbed Seymour’s leg and pulled him from the table from which he had been speaking.  Grabbing the microphone from him, a swarthy man in a plaid jacket, leapt up in his place and raising his clenched fist in the air, screamed out to the mob, “Screw them all, let’s just take the stuff.  That’s what these bastards deserve!  Just take it and run!”

Responding with a vengeance to the speaker’s plea, the mob on all four floors, almost acting as one, turned toward the doors, carrying whatever was in their arms and anything else they could pick up along the way, and swept down the escalators and toward the street, howling and screaming all the way.

By then, Stephanie, who had watched with fear as the crowd turned more and more vicious, had reached the police captain outside of the store and asked him for help.   

“Don’t worry, m’am, he said.  We’ll put a stop to their thievery.”

But bullhorned requests for them to drop the merchandise they were carrying out of the store, shots fired into the air by the newly arrived SWAT team, and the fire hoses of the fire department didn’t have any effect on the now enraged mob of shoppers.  Laden with loot, they kept pouring out of the store.

“Sir, it looks like we’re going to have to start shooting for real if we’re going to get this thing cooled down,” the SWAT team leader pointedly said, addressing the frustrated police captain.

“Go to it, men!  Do what you have to!”  Captain O’Mally responded.


Once the shooting started, it was hard to stop.  After the initial bursts of fire, leaving half a dozen shoppers dead or wounded in front of the store, the momentum of the crowd seemed to diminish.  But that was only a momentary pause.  A knot of shoppers, led by the swarthy man in the plaid jacket, had taken some hunting rifles and ammunition from the sporting goods department, and had set up sniper positions at the windows on the store’s third floor from which they were soon firing down at the police on the streets surrounding the Emporium.  By the time the first contingents of National Guard troops, just sent in by the governor, had arrived and restored order, about twenty shoppers, three police officers and four store employees had been killed, and at least one hundred people had been hospitalized with bullet wounds or other injuries.

The Emporium remained closed for repairs and restocking until April, and once they reopened, despite all types of sales and promotions, customers just couldn’t be attracted. The store closed its doors permanently five months later.

Seymour Simon now sells cemetery plots in Florida.  Captain O’Malley, who was eased into retirement after the police investigation of the incident, runs a sport fishing boat out of Wilmington, North Carolina.  The swarthy man in the plaid jacket is serving seven to ten years in State Prison.  Stephanie, who was one of those wounded during the gun battle, has almost completely recovered from her injuries.  She received a generous insurance settlement, is engaged to be married to a podiatrist from Poughkeepsie and shops only on the internet.


                                                        http://www.themaac.com/images/turtles/turtle1.gif
HOW TO BE ALERTED TO FUTURE BLOG POSTINGS.
Many readers of this blog are alerted by Email every time a new posting appears.  If you wish to be added to that Email list, just let me know by clicking on Riart1@aol.com and sending me an Email.  

HOW TO CONTACT ME or CONTRIBUTE MATERIAL TO JACK'S POTPOURRI. 
BY CLICKING ON THAT SAME ADDRESS, Riart1@aol.com   YOU ALSO CAN SEND ME YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO BE PUBLISHED IN THIS BLOG AS WELL AS YOUR COMMENTS.  (Comments can also be made by clicking on the "Post a Comment" link at the blog's end.)

MOBILE DEVICE ACCESS.
DID YOU KNOW THAT www.jackspotpourri.com IS ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICES IN A MODIFIED, EASY-TO-READ, FORMAT?   

HOW TO VIEW OLDER POSTINGS.                                                
To view older postings on this blog, just click on the appropriate date in the “Blog Archive” midway down the column off to the right, or scroll down until you see the “Older Posts” notation at the very bottom of this posting.  The “Search Box” in the right side of the posting also may be helpful in locating a posting topic for which you are looking.

HOW TO FORWARD POSTINGS.
To send this posting to a friend, or enemy for that matter, whom you think might be interested in it, just click on the envelope with the arrow on the "Comments" line directly below, enabling you to send them an Email providing a link directly to this posting.  You might also want to let me know their Email address so that they may be alerted to future postings.

Jack Lippman