Mr. Gideon Rachman column of October 17, 2016
Headline : A distracted America in a dangerous world
Sub-headline: The next three months will be a perilous time from Mosul to the South China Sea
The three paragraphs that open Mr. Rachman’s essay can only be described as hysterical fear mongering:
‘The assault on the Iraqi city of Mosul that began this week underlines the fact that the next three months will be a perilous period in international politics. Fighting is intensifying in the Middle East. Tensions are rising between Russia and the west. And relations between China and its Asian neighbours are getting edgier. All this is happening while the US is diverted by the Trump-Clinton melodrama and the transition to a new president.
For Russia and China — two countries that are openly unhappy with the US-dominated world order — a distracted America will look like an opportunity. Both Moscow and Beijing regard Hillary Clinton with suspicion and believe that her probable arrival in the Oval Office would herald a more hawkish US foreign policy. They may be tempted to act swiftly, before she has a chance to settle into the White House.
A temporarily preoccupied America might not matter much in normal times. But big and dangerous decisions are looming. In the Middle East, the bombardment of Aleppo by Russian and Syrian government forces has led to a near-breakdown in relations between Moscow and the west. Without a common diplomatic project to hold them together, the two sides may slide into outright confrontation in Syria. Further sanctions on Russia are in the offing and the west’s military options are also being reviewed.’
Mosul, The Russians under the leadership of Putin, and The South China Sea are the seats of Mr. Rachman’s vexation that transmogrifies into hysteria and that ends with a scolding of Obama for his ‘Foreign Policy weakness’:
‘As Mr Obama prepares to pack his bags in the White House, he may look back wryly at the foreign-policy goals that he set eight years ago.
There was to be a “reset” that would lead to better relations with Russia. There would also be a new and closer working relationship with China. And there would be an end to war in the Middle East. None of those policies has come to fruition. Instead, Mr Obama will be fortunate if he can negotiate his last three months in office without presiding over a major international crisis.’
These last two paragraphs are in sum an incantation, a devout wish that a catastrophe be visited upon Obama and the American nation. This is masked in speculative thinking about potential threats, but the animus is clear.