The Editor’s Note “Keep your friends close…”
East is not a weekly and must take the long view. We cannot allow ourselves to be overly influenced by incidental breaking news, even when this is important. Still, it is hard not to be swayed by the nuclear “compromise” - if that is the word - recently reached between Iran on the one hand and the US, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany on the other.
- Sunday, 29 December 2013
This interim arrangement - very synthetically - places limits on enrichment levels in the Iranian nuclear fuel cycle for the next six months in exchange for $7bn (€5.2bn) in “limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible [sanctions] relief” while a permanent agreement is sought. Whether this is good news or not remains to be seen. The markets liked it, with benchmark “Brent” crude losing more than 2 percent on the perception that the Mideast is now a safer place for oil production. Israel instead described the deal as an “historical mistake”, the Saudis are in a snit and American Middle Eastern policy no longer appears to exist in a coherent form. The generous view is that the US may be applying the policy principle “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” - wisdom variously attributed to Sun Tzu, Machiavelli or Petrarch, but apparently first enunciated by Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather Part II (1974). We will be examining evolving American Mideast policy as its new outlines become clearer. In the meantime, we have again found the world an interesting place. In this issue Bill Emmott tells us that the Economic Crisis is not about money, we look at the difficulty in communicating Europe, in punishing pirates and then at how the Mafia keeps the peace. We have animal citizenship, property law in space, Catalonian independence and a special dossier dedicated to the three quarters of the globe that is covered by water. Finally, as we go to press word has arrived of the death of Nelson Mandela. Since Mandela achieved something close to modern sainthood, it is inevitable that there will soon be a flood of books and articles attempting to take him down a peg: insisting on youthful excesses in combatting apartheid, on the appalling character of his first wife, Winnie, and pointing out that South Africa has not become a paradise. None of this matters. Mandela deserves a permanent place in history. His personality, his principles and his very existence gave the clashing South African populations a way out of the bloody dead end they were facing. Mr. Mandela saved them from horror on a vast scale.