For close to two and a half thousand years, Iran has been a great nation. Five empires, from the Medians to the Safavids have risen and fallen, at their height stretching from Libya to Eastern Europe to India. It is telling that though Arab armies dominated a strip of land from west Africa to the Indonesian archipelago, Iran has never long been ruled, aside from by the brief Mongol occupation, keeping its own language, Farsi, and its own Shi’ite form of Islam. Iran is a fiercely independent Nation; it remained a truly independent country until the Shia safavids fell and the new powers of Britain and Russia began imperial jockeying for power. For a long period Iran ceased to be a real state, becoming a theatre in which European, and later American, proxies (political parties, militias and kings) could vie for power, trade and influence. Iran proves that there are few things more troubled than a great nation fallen. Pride is a hard thing for people to let go of.
Category Archives: Trumpeter
I have always disliked anniversaries, feeling that if something is good, its goodness speaks for itself regardless of any arbitrary landmark. So, the fact that the European Union is fifty does not matter much, what it has achieved in those years however, does; it has achieved far more than people often give it credit for. Indeed the EU may, in future generations, be seen as the most important positive development in Europe since the Enlightenment. If that process two hundred years ago spawned the ideas of individual liberty, constitutionalism and liberal democracy, few institutions have proliferated the implementation of them to quite so spectacularly as our Union.
The Republicans may look like a faltering party with little chance of winning the presidency, having lost their twelve-year-long grip on Congress and sporting (polls tells us) the third least popular President ever. If we were talking about a prime-ministerial system like the UK or Germany, where party leaders tend to be established figures, already in government, this would be the case. But in the USA, this is only part of the reality. In their system, a new leader (especially in this presidential election, devoid of incumbents) can credibly distance themselves from the previous administration and often help their party in the Congressional and state elections which take place simultaneously. There is reason to believe that the Republican candidate may be able to fight the Democrat in an arena free of ties to the Bush legacy, if not free of the mixed legacy itself. Whether this will be the case depends much on the difficult relationships the hopefuls forge with the outgoing president, they must remain loyal yet critical, and close yet distant in order to retain the old supporters and in order not to turn away potential new ones by neither appearing to be lackeys nor traitors, a difficult tightrope to walk. It is this task that often makes it difficult for Vice-Presidents to win elections and has meant that two-term presidents tend to be succeeded by a politician of another party. It is, however, a tightrope that can be walked, and with the candidates as they stand, there is a good chance that it will be.
The President of the United States of America is said to be the most powerful man (and man he always has been) on Earth, a leader who controls the most powerful military, the strongest economy and the country with the most cultural influence. For good or ill, he probably lays a better claim to the title than any other. George Bush is President and will be until January 2009, but he is a spent force, bogged down in a losing war on which much of his political capital has been expended and not at home with a Democratic congress; he is stuck, neither side willing to pay anything but lip service to bipartisan action, especially since Bush shunned the flawed Baker-Hamilton report to follow his preposterous ‘surge’ policy.