Some of the things we've overheard lately on television, or read about in the news columns, are remarkable. As in, somebody should remark:
• "One of the most interesting consequences of this war is that all around the world, people are going to realize, 'We need nuclear weapons.' Look what the Ukrainians did. They gave them up. And now they are in a terrible state. The end of the era of nonproliferation is upon us, no matter what happens in Ukraine."--historian Niall Ferguson
Professor Ferguson is the rare bird: a historian who speaks plainly. It's as if he knows that English mixes well with history class. Of all the people to write a biography of Henry Kissinger, and make it readable, he's the one who could. And did.
This time he was at some confab, speaking about world events. And of all the world events, Putin's War in Ukraine is one of the top ones. Niall Ferguson's point is that the current war will push other countries to get nuclear bombs and the means to deliver them. It's their guarantee. Lil' Kim in Pyongyang has nukes, and a guarantee.
After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and America's invasion of Iraq, Muammar Gaddafi gave up his nuclear program in Libya to make a good face for the West. Look what happened to him.
And now the lesson of the Ukrainians: After the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the then-new Ukrainian national government gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for a "guarantee" of its safety. Some guarantee. Now the country is fighting for its existence as a free state.
We fear Professor Ferguson is right. It's a real fear.
• This from an opinionator on CNN the other day:
There are ways to prevent mass shootings in school: First, keep guns that can fire multiple rounds out of the hands of potential shooters. Also, improve security at schools. And increase mental health care for young people.
"Limiting access to guns," the person noted, "which faces determined opposition from the right, holds the greatest promise of making a difference."
Really? There are already more guns in this country than people in it. How are We the People going to limit access to guns? Can't some of us think, without being labeled too nutty, that that particular genie is out of the bottle?
Raising the age limit to buy new weapons out of the factory, improving background checks, closing loopholes for those background checks, improving security at schools--all these things would help. And, we must admit, so would "limiting access to guns." If it were possible. But it's hard to think that asking for such a thing holds "the greatest promise."
• Australia's new prime minister hasn't been in the job for a month yet. Still, mainland China is testing him.
Australian officials said that a Red Chinese fighter jet intercepted an Australian surveillance plane conducting a routine mission last week. The planes were apparently in international airspace over the South China Sea.
Australian defense types say the Chinese aircraft pulled alongside its plane, then darted in front to release flares and chaff that "resulted in a dangerous maneuver which posed a safety threat" to the plane's crew. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Party in Beijing is looking to see how Prime Minister Anthony Albanese holds up under pressure.
If all this sounds familiar, it's because it is: The ChiComs test new world leaders.
In 2001, before the terror attacks of September focused the world elsewhere, the big news came a few months before, when ChiCom planes intercepted a United States surveillance plane "conducting a routine mission" over the South China Sea.
One of the Chinese pilots bumped the U.S. aircraft, knocking both planes out of the air. The Americans were able to land on Hainan Island, where the 24-member crew was detained and interrogated by the Chinese. It was the big international news of the year, before Sept. 11.
At the time of the so-called Hainan Island Incident, George W. Bush had been in office just over two months.
Other new leaders on the world stage: beware.
• CNN Business came up with an in-depth look at gas prices the other day, and one of its commentators explained why the price for gasoline won't be coming down any time soon:
First, there's the war in Ukraine. And the European Union has formally adopted an oil embargo of Russia. Which puts pressure on world oil markets.
The report also said there were "insufficient alternatives" to gasoline and oil, and the world's economy has improved to the point in which demand for energy is on the uptick.
There's another way to put all this: Gas prices are up because of the law of supply and demand.
And it will always be that way.