Where is the tough talk on Iran leading? (Yemen and the Levant)

Brian M Downing  The Trump administration is addressing world trouble spots. The most apparent ones are of course Syria, where the US retaliated for the government’s use of chemical weapons, and Korea, where a carrier strike group and missile shield have deployed. Only somewhat less apparent has been the renewed Read More …

Can the US and China cooperate in Afghanistan?

Brian M Downing  Concern that North Korea is endangering regional security and prosperity is bringing unexpected cooperation between the US and China. An outcome isn’t at hand, nor is an era of Sino-American partnership in world affairs. However, the two powers, though at odds on matters of trade and territoriality, share Read More …

The US and China take aim at North Korea

Brian M Downing  Presidents Trump and Xi met last week at the former’s estate in Florida and discussed bilateral trade and world conflicts. Conversation was interrupted briefly as word came of the missile strikes on Syria. It was an opportune moment as the two powers discussed North Korea during the meeting. Shortly Read More …

Regime change in the Middle East, again

Brian M Downing  The term “regime change” once had great attraction. A troubled land would be put on the right path, with American help, and democracy and prosperity would follow. But the ousters of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi brought anarchy and havens for Islamist militants, and the idea fell into Read More …

What comes after Idlib?

Brian M Downing  The Syrian war took another turn this week as several dozen Idlib civilians were killed by noxious clouds. The victims’ symptoms point to nerve gas, possibly sarin. Subsequent autopsies support this. World opinion, generally weary of the endless conflict and the numerous atrocities, is angry. For years people Read More …

Fame is fleeting – and so are your rights

  Brian M Downing Julius Caesar’s letter to the citizens/subjects regarding frontier checkpoints Salutations, esteemed fellow Romans! I write you from Gaul, site of another of our many legions’ encampments around the world. The auguries tell me that there are growing objections, both in the Forum and Senate, to the system Read More …

Hail, Caesar (2016)

Coen Brothers Starring: George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Alden Ehrenreich 7.5/10 Hail, Caesar is set in early 1950s Hollywood as studio head Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), reminiscent of a gravelly-voiced noir private eye, juggles numerous problems. Among them are a kidnapped star, communist writers, inept actors, fussy directors, and Read More …