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Obama, Israel and the UN

January 15th, 2017

A Remarkably Complete Analysis of the Recent Unexpected and Highly Anti-Israeli Resolition That the Obama Administration Allowed to Be Passed.

Obama’s Betrayal of Israel
by Guy Millière
January 13, 2017

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9755/obama-betrayal-israel

• President Obama’s decision not to use the US veto in the UN Security Council and to let pass Resolution 2334, effectively sets the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. The resolution declares all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem — home to the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount — the most sacred place in Judaism — “occupied Palestinian territory,” and is a declaration of war against Israel.
• Resolution 2334 nullified any possibility of further negotiations by giving the Palestinians everything in exchange for nothing — not even an insincere promise of peace.
• The next act is the Orwellian-named “peace conference,” to be held in Paris on January 15. It has but one objective: to set the stage to eradicate Israel.
• In this new “Dreyfus trial,” the accused will be the only Jewish state and the accusers will be the OIC and officials from Islamized, dhimmified, anti-Israel Western states. As in the Dreyfus trial, the verdict has been decided before it even starts. Israel will be considered guilty of all charges and condemned. A draft of the declaration to be published at the end of the conference is already available.
• The declaration rejects any Jewish presence beyond the 1949 armistice lines — thereby instituting apartheid. It also praises the “Arab Peace Initiative,” which calls for returning of millions of so-called “refugees” to Israel, thus transforming Israel into an Arab Muslim state where a massacre of Jews could conveniently be organized.
• The declaration is most likely meant serve as the basis for a new Security Council resolution on January 17 that would recognize a Palestinian state inside the “1967 borders,” and be adopted, thanks to a second US abstention, three days before Obama leaves office. The betrayal of Israel by the Obama administration and by Obama himself would then be complete.
• The US Congress is already discussing bills to defund the UN and the Palestinian Authority. If Europeans think that the incoming Trump administration is as spineless as the Obama administration, they are in for a shock.
• Khaled Abu Toameh noted that the Palestinian Authority sees Resolution 2334 as a green light for more murders and violence.
• Daniel Pipes recently wrote that it is time to acknowledge the failure of a “peace process” that is really a war process. He stresses that peace can only come when an enemy is defeated.
• Resolution 2334 and the Paris conference, both promoted by Obama, are, as the great historian Bat Ye’or wrote, simply a victory for jihad.
The Middle East is in chaos. More than half a million people have been killed in the Syrian war and the number is rising. Bashar al-Assad’s army used chemical weapons and barrel bombs against civilians; Russia has bombed schools and hospitals.
Syrians, Christians, Yazidis, Libyans, Yemenis and Egyptians all face lethal treats. Iranian leaders still shout “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” while buying nuclear equipment with money from lifted sanctions. Turkey is sliding toward an Islamist dictatorship, and unable to stem attacks against it.
The only democratic and stable country in the region is Israel, and that is the country U.S. President Barack Obama, in the final weeks of his term, chooses to incriminate. His decision not to use the US veto in the UN Security Council, to let pass Resolution 2334, effectively sets the boundaries of a future Palestinian state. The resolution also declares all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, home to the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount — the most sacred place in Judaism — “occupied Palestinian territory,” and is a declaration of war against Israel.
UNSC Resolution 2334 nullified any possibility of further negotiations, by giving the Palestinians everything in exchange for nothing — not even an insincere promise of peace. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech five days later confirmed Obama’s support for the resolution. Kerry, like US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, used the existence of Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria as a pretext to endorse the position of Palestinian leaders, who want to ethnically cleanse Jews from these areas. But this was just a prelude.
The next act is the Orwellian-named “peace conference,” to be held in Paris on January 15. It has but one objective: to set the stage to eradicate Israel.
Organized by François Hollande, a failed French President who will leave power in four months, it was supported from the start by the Obama administration. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called it “the new Dreyfus trial.” The accused will be the only Jewish state and the accusers will be the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and officials from Islamized, dhimmified, anti-Israel Western states. As in the Dreyfus trial, the verdict is known before it starts. Israel will be considered guilty of all charges and condemned to what its accusers hope will be the beginning of its end.
Is Barack Obama planning another betrayal of Israel at next week’s Paris “peace conference,” organized by French President François Hollande? Pictured: Obama and Hollande in Washington, May 18, 2012. (Image source: White House)

Some commentators have compared what will happen in Paris to the 1942 Wannsee Conference in Nazi Germany, because the aim seems clearly to be the “final solution” of the “Jewish problem” in the Middle East. A draft of the declaration to be published at the end of the conference is already available. It affirms unreserved support for the “Palestinian Statehood strategy” and the principle of intangibility (that the borders cannot be modified) of the “1967 borders,” including East Jerusalem, the Old City and the Western Wall.
The draft declaration rejects any Jewish presence beyond these borders — thereby instituting apartheid — and praises the “Arab Peace Initiative,” which calls for returning millions of so-called “refugees” to Israel, and thus the transforming of Israel into an Arab Muslim state — where a massacre of the Jews could conveniently be organized.
The declaration is most likely meant to be the basis for a new UN Security Council resolution that would endorse the recognition of a Palestinian state in the “1967 borders” as defined in the declaration. The new resolution could be adopted by a second US abstention at the Security Council on January 17, three days before Obama leaves office. The betrayal of Israel by the Obama administration and by Obama himself would then be complete.
On January 20, however, Donald J. Trump is to take office as President of the United States. Trump sent a message on December 23: “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” He added explicitly that the U.S. “cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.”
On January 5, the US House of Representatives approved a text harshly criticizing Resolution 2334. Congress is already discussing defunding the UN and the Palestinian Authority. If Europeans and members of UN think the incoming Trump administration is as spineless as the Obama administration, they are in for a shock.
Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens recently wondered if the creation of a Palestinian state would alleviate the current Middle East chaos. His answer was that it would not, and that the creation of a Palestinian state would be seen as a victory for jihadists. He also noted that the Palestinian Authority still behaves like a terrorist entity; that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would encourage Hamas and lead to the creation of another terrorist Islamic state in the West Bank, and that an Israeli withdrawal is something that most Palestinians do not even want:
“[A] telling figure came in a June 2015 poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, which found that a majority of Arab residents in East Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state.”
Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab journalist who has never yet been wrong, noted that the Palestinian Authority sees Resolution 2334 as a green light for more violence, murders and confrontation. He added that if presidential elections by the PA were held today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would win by a comfortable margin.
In another important article, Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes writes that it is time to acknowledge the failure of a “peace process” that is really a war process. He stressed that peace can only come when an enemy is defeated. He predicts that for peace to come, Israel must win unambiguously, and the Palestinians pass through “the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair.”
Jihadi indoctrination, as well as the financial aid given to Palestinian terrorists, have been paid for by the United States, France, and other Western European nations. That too should stop.
Resolution 2334 and the Paris peace conference, both promoted by Obama, are, as the great historian Bat Ye’or wrote, simply victories for jihad.

Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.
peace.

William James

January 15th, 2017

My friend, Sol Shalit, sent me a reminder that Jan 11, 2017 was the birthday of William James who was born 175 years ago in New York City. Sol included this wonderful tribute to James’ life and work. I think it is worth republishing for others to read.
It’s the birthday of William James, (books by this author) born in New York City (1842). As a young man, he studied art, then went on to Harvard University and earned a medical degree there. But he was never a practicing doctor — instead, he stayed on as a member of the Harvard faculty. He said: “I originally studied medicine in order to be a physiologist, but I drifted into psychology and philosophy from a sort of fatality. I never had any philosophic instruction, the first lecture on psychology I ever heard being the first I ever gave.”

In 1872, a group of Harvard intellectuals, including James, began a conversation group. Charles Sanders Pierce wrote: “It was in the earliest seventies that a knot of us young men in Old Cambridge, calling ourselves, half-ironically, half-defiantly, ‘The Metaphysical Club,’ — for agnosticism was then riding its high horse, and was frowning superbly upon all metaphysics, —used to meet, sometimes in my study, sometimes in that of William James.” Members came from various academic disciplines, including law, medicine, and philosophy. William’s younger brother, Henry James, wrote about Oliver Wendell Holmes: “He, my brother, and various other long-headed youths have combined to form a metaphysical club, where they wrangle grimly and stick to the question. It gives me a headache merely to know of it.”

William James’ most famous contribution to philosophy is an idea called pragmatism. Pragmatism was first conceived of by Charles Sanders Peirce, but it didn’t catch on. James himself had a hard time understanding Peirce. He wrote to his brother: “I am amused that you should have fallen into the arms of C.S. Peirce, whom I imagine you find a rather uncomfortable bedfellow, thorny and spinous, but the way to treat him is after the fabled ‘nettle’ receipt: grasp firmly, contradict, push hard, make fun of him, and he is as pleasant as anyone; but be overawed by his sententious manner and his paradoxical and obscure statements, wait upon them as it were, for light to dawn, and you will never get a feeling of ease with him any more than I did for years, until I changed my course and treated him more or less chaffingly. I confess I like him very much in spite of his peculiarities, for he is a man of genius and there’s always something in that to compel one’s sympathy.”

Unlike Peirce, William James was not a philosophical genius, and he didn’t see anything wrong with taking a complex concept and oversimplifying it for the sake of making it more accessible. The term “pragmatism” was first used in a lecture James gave at the University of California Berkeley in 1898. But James was quick to give the credit for the term to Peirce, who he said had thought of it about 20 years earlier.

According to James, pragmatism valued the practical outcome of an idea above the idea itself. He saw a huge divide in philosophy between what he called “tough-minded” and “tender-minded” ways of looking at the world. He associated a “tough-minded” view with science, empirical evidence, atheism, pessimism, skepticism, and materialism. “Tender-minded,” on the other hand, went along with idealism, optimism, religion, dogma, and free will. James thought that pragmatism was a way of getting beyond this divide, and plenty of other dualities that caused conflict.

The way that pragmatism bridged these divides was to ask, with every idea, what the practical outcome of two opposing sides would be. If there was no significant difference in a practical outcome, then there was no significant conflict between two sides. One of James’ examples was the conflict that philosophers perceived between free will and determinism. James pointed out that there was no clear practical difference between having free will and believing in determinism — therefore, there was no fundamental conflict.

James also said that pragmatism was a philosophy of truth. He said, “The true is the name of whatever proves itself to be good in the way of belief, and good, too, for definite assignable reasons.” In James’ pragmatism, “truth” was a large concept — something could be true because it was actually experienced in a direct way, or it could be true because it contributed to overall happiness. So he allowed for a lot of religious and spiritual beliefs to coexist with empirical thinking, because religion was true in the sense that it added meaning to life. He said: “If theological ideas prove to have a value for concrete life, they will be true, for pragmatism, in the sense of being good for so much. How much more they are true, will depend entirely on their relations to the other truths that also have to be acknowledged.” That was another idea of his — that abstract ideas (like religious beliefs) were fine, and could coexist with empirical observations, as long as they did not “clash with other vital beliefs.” So until they started to get in the way, they were true enough.

James’ pragmatism was based in empiricism, in the sense that experience should be the ultimate context for everything. But unlike some of the more rigid empirical philosophers like David Hume, who thought experience was only what was experienced by the senses, James said that experience could also include metaphysical ideas, religion, or anything at all that was part of our experience as human beings.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, it made sense that Americans embraced pragmatism — a new approach, a practical approach, and an attempt to reconcile seemingly opposing sides. Pragmatism was popularized by James, Peirce, and John Dewey, one of Peirce’s students. Dewey lived until 1952, and he had a long and prolific career. By the time he died at the age of 92, he had published 40 books and hundreds of articles. Dewey called his philosophy “instrumentalism” rather than “pragmatism,” but he is generally considered the third major pragmatist. He helped make the philosophy seem even more relevant to Americans, writing about education, art, civic life, and government.

Even though it is such a complex philosophy, today we use the word pragmatism in an offhand way, to mean “practicality.”

Another term that James coined and popularized was “stream-of-consciousness,” which he meant as a psychological term. He said, “It is a fact that in each of us, when awake (and often when asleep), some kind of consciousness is always going on. There is a stream, a succession of states, or waves, or fields (or of whatever you please to call them), of knowledge, of feeling, of desire, of deliberation, etc., that constantly pass and repass, and that constitute our inner life. The existence of this stream is the primal fact, the nature and origin of it form the essential problem, of our science.” But eventually he settled on “stream-of-consciousness,” an idea that other scholars lifted from psychology and used to talk about literature.

Liberal Democracies In Retreat

December 18th, 2016

The following is a rather gloomy, but likely accurate view of the future of the World order for decades to come and the retreat of the United States as a strong world leader.
Foreign Affairs Magazine
November, 2016
Liberalism in Retreat

The Demise of a Dream

By Robin Niblett

The liberal international order has always depended on the idea of progress. Since 1945, Western policymakers have believed that open markets, democracy, and individual human rights would gradually spread across the entire globe. Today, such hopes seem naive.

In Asia, the rise of China threatens to challenge U.S. military and economic hegemony, as Beijing seeks to draw American allies such as the Philippines and Thailand into its political orbit. In the Middle East, the United States and its European allies have failed to guide the region toward a more liberal and peaceful future in the wake of the Arab Spring and have proved powerless to halt the conflict in Syria. Russia’s geopolitical influence has reached heights unseen since the Cold War, as the country attempts to roll back liberal advances on its periphery.

But the more important threats to the order are internal. For over 50 years, the European Union has seemed to represent the advance guard of a new liberalism in which nations pool sovereignty and cooperate ever more closely with one another. But today, as it reels from one crisis to the next, the EU has stopped expanding. After the British vote to leave the bloc last June, it will probably shrink for the first time in its history.

Across the ocean, the U.S. commitment to global leadership, which until now has sustained the order through good times and bad, looks weaker than at any point since World War II. The Republican president-elect Donald Trump ran on an explicitly “America First” platform, pledged to renegotiate U.S. trade deals, praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, and called into question U.S. commitments to NATO. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s “rebalance” to Asia has struggled to take off. Beijing has wasted no time in laying out its own vision for a more integrated Eurasia that may exclude the United States and in which China will play the leading role.

Over the past half century, as other political systems have crumbled, the liberal international order has risen to face its challenges. Yet so long as the economies of its leading members remain fragile and their political institutions divided, the order that they have championed is unlikely to regain the political momentum that helped democracy spread across the globe. Instead, it will evolve into a less ambitious project: a liberal international economic order that encompasses states with diverse domestic political systems. In the short term, this will allow democracies and their illiberal counterparts to find ways to coexist. In the longer term, providing it can adapt, liberal democracy is likely to regain its supremacy.

LIBERALISM ON TOP

In the aftermath of World War II, Western policymakers, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, set out to build a global system that would ensure that they would never repeat the disastrous failures of international cooperation of the interwar period. The architects of the system sought to promote not just economic development and individual fulfillment but also world peace. The best hope for that, they contended, lay in free markets, individual rights, the rule of law, and elected governments, which would be checked by independent judiciaries, free presses, and vibrant civil societies

Over the past half century, as other political systems have crumbled, the liberal international order has risen to face its challenges.

At the heart of the order were the Bretton Woods institutions—the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank—and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which became the World Trade Organization in 1995. Underpinning all these institutions was the belief that open and transparent markets with minimal government intervention—the so-called Washington consensus—would lay the foundation for economic growth. Guided by these principles, U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic support helped Germany and the other nations of Western Europe, as well as Japan, recover from the destruction of World War II.

Western policymakers were confident that transitions to open markets would inevitably lead to the spread of democracy. On many occasions, they were proved right. Liberal democracy has gradually expanded across Europe, Asia, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa, especially since the end of the Cold War. According to the U.S. nonprofit Freedom House, the number of democratic governments increased from 44 in 1997 to 86 in 2015, accounting for about 68 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population.

As the order expanded, a new liberal idea gained ground: that governments that mistreat their populations and foment instability in their neighborhoods forfeit their sovereign right to rule. The International Criminal Court, which encroaches on sovereignty in the name of justice, was established in 1998. One year later, British Prime Minister Tony Blair laid out his doctrine of liberal interventionism in Chicago, declaring that, in a world of growing interdependence, “the principle of non-interference must be qualified in some important respects.” In 2005, the UN General Assembly endorsed the “responsibility to protect,” the concept that when a state fails to prevent atrocities, foreign governments can intervene to do so. In an ascendant liberal international order, the fundamental Westphalian principle that sovereign governments have the right to control their internal affairs—the principle that underlies international law and the UN—increasingly depended on governments’ adhering to Western standards of human rights. The liberal order seemed to be setting the rules for the entire international community.

THINGS FALL APART

But over the past decade, buffeted by financial crises, populist insurgencies, and the resurgence of authoritarian powers, the liberal international order has stumbled. According to the political scientist Larry Diamond, since 2006, the world has entered a “democratic recession”: the spread of individual freedom and democracy has come to a halt, if not retreated.

The greatest danger comes from within. The system’s leading powers are facing sustained domestic political and economic uncertainty. More than 25 years of stagnant median wages in the United States and parts of Europe have eroded the credibility of elites and the appeal of globalization. The opening up of economies to ever more trade, investment, and immigration has increased total national wealth, but it has not translated into local gains for large segments of society. The lax financial regulation that preceded the 2008 financial crisis and the bank bailouts that followed it have shattered people’s faith in government, and the Great Recession undermined their support for open capital markets, which seemed to benefit only a narrow global elite.

Trump’s victory, the decision by a majority of British voters to leave the EU, and the rise of populist parties in both the prosperous north and the poorer south of Europe represent visible symptoms of this deep unease with globalization. So, too, does the collapse in popular support in the United States and the EU for expanding international trade, whether through the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the United States or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Europe. In a 2014 Pew Research survey, 87 percent of respondents in developing economies agreed that trade benefits the economy, whereas around half of all respondents in France, Italy, and the United States said they believed that trade destroys jobs and lowers wages.

Across Europe, resistance to deeper political integration has grown. For the past 60 years, the willingness of the EU’s member states to pool their sovereign power in supranational legal structures provided a benchmark for other countries that sought to cooperate more closely in their regions. As the political scientist Simon Serfaty put it in 2003, Europeans had transformed their systems of political governance from city-states to nation-states to member states. Now, this process has ground to a halt—and it may well reverse.

The British vote to leave the EU will likely prove an outlier: the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community, the EU’s predecessor, only in 1973, 16 years after its founding; the United Kingdom has a long history of Euroskepticism; and it opted out of the single currency and the Schengen area of open borders. Other countries will probably not follow the United Kingdom out of the EU. But few European leaders appear willing to continue relinquishing their countries’ sovereignty. Many European states have rejected EU requests that they accept a quota of refugees. The richer members of the eurozone are refusing to pool their financial resources in a common deposit insurance scheme to ensure the long-term viability of the single currency. Today, many European politicians are demanding more national sovereign control over the application of existing EU laws and the design of new forms of integration.

Few European leaders appear willing to continue relinquishing their countries’ sovereignty.

In this context, the hope that the EU might provide a template for liberal regional integration elsewhere seems increasingly lost. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, South America’s Mercosur, the African Union, and the Gulf Cooperation Council remain mechanisms for only limited political and economic cooperation among governments. China and Russia, meanwhile, have used this period of Western self-doubt to modernize their militaries and assert their regional and geopolitical interests. They have built institutions, including the Eurasian Economic Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, that have helped them coordinate and legitimize a parallel political order that challenges Western norms of democratic governance and that rejects any external interference in support of human rights.

AMERICA IN RETREAT

For the past seven decades, the United States has provided the security umbrella under which the liberal international system has flourished. But today, the United States is more inward-looking than at any point since World War II. After the costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the chaos that followed the intervention in Libya, Obama has recalibrated the United States’ international role, consistently encouraging allies in Europe and the Middle East to take greater responsibility for their own security. In his presidential campaign, Trump twisted this argument into an explicitly transactional bargain: the United States should become a mercenary superpower, protecting only those countries that pay, so that it can focus on making itself great again at home. In so doing, he ignored the hard-won lesson that investing in the security of U.S. allies is the best way to protect the United States’ own security and economic interests. How exactly Trump will govern, however, remains unclear.

Rightly or wrongly, the United States’ allies, from Europe to Asia, now fear that the superpower may no longer be an engaged and committed partner. These fears come at a dangerous time. A Europe hobbled by institutional and economic weakness is more vulnerable to the diverse forms of pressure that Russia is currently applying, including financial support for European populist parties and threatening military maneuvers on NATO’s eastern borders. Despite Russia’s own economic weakness, Putin’s advocacy of a new European order based on cultural and national sovereignty appeals to Europe’s increasingly vocal nationalist parties, from the UK Independence Party to France’s National Front and Hungary’s Fidesz, whose leader, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has publicly advocated building an “illiberal state.”

Many of the United States’ other allies and democratic partners around the world are also on the back foot. Japan and South Korea are struggling to manage the twin challenges of aging populations and economies that are overly dependent on exports, and his-torical antagonisms prevent them from presenting a united front to promote liberal democracy in their region. Large emerging-market democracies, such as Brazil, India, Nigeria, and South Africa, have so far failed to overcome entrenched obstacles to sustainable economic growth and social cohesion. And the perception that U.S. global power is waning and that the Washington consensus does not guarantee economic progress has bolstered strongmen in countries as diverse as the Philippines, Thailand, and Turkey, who have undermined the institutional checks and balances that underpin liberal democracy.

POT, KETTLE

Of course, supporters of the liberal international order have long displayed an inconsistent commitment to its principles. The United States and its allies may have generally promoted respect for the rule of law and liberal governance within their borders, but the dominant objective outside them has been to protect Western security and economic interests, even if doing so damaged the credibility of the liberal international system.

The United States has often acted unilaterally or selectively obeyed the rules of the international order it promotes. It invaded Iraq under a contested legal mandate, and the U.S. Congress has refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, among numerous other multilateral conventions and treaties. And in 2011, the British, French, and U.S. governments stretched their mandate—granted by UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya—when they helped overthrow Libya’s leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi. And various Western governments have condemned Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for indiscriminately shelling civilians in Syria while simultaneously supporting Saudi Arabia’s bloody campaign in Yemen.

The United States’ allies, from Europe to Asia, now fear that the superpower may no longer be an engaged and committed partner.

Small wonder, then, that the West’s opponents have interpreted calls to enlarge the liberal international order as an excuse to expand Western political power. Putin sounded this theme in October, at the annual conference of the Valdai Discussion Club, when he accused the United States of promoting globalization and security “for itself, for the few, but not for all.” It is also unsurprising that the world’s principal multilateral institution, the UN Security Council, remains frozen in the same old standoffs, riven by disagreements between China and Russia, on the one hand, and France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, on the other. As a result, liberal attempts to reform the concept of state sovereignty, such as the introduction of the notion of the responsibility to protect and the establishment of the International Criminal Court, have failed to acquire international legitimacy—take, for instance, the ongoing failure to stem the violence in Syria and the announcements in October by the governments of Burundi, Gambia, and South Africa that they will withdraw from the court. Even the Internet, which promised to foster a more liberal international order by empowering individuals instead of governments, is now increasingly dominated by ideological polarization over national firewalls, surveillance methods, and privacy violations.

KEEPING ORDER

Do these challenges herald the end of the liberal international order? Probably not. Established liberal democracies remain resilient. Whatever domestic challenges they may face, from inequality to unemployment, they approach them from a position of strength compared with emerging-market countries, many of which boast high levels of GDP growth but have yet to make the transition from export- and investment-led growth to consumption- and innovation-driven growth. Western democracies are designed to allow the people to vent their frustrations and refresh their political leadership. Their economies operate in a relatively dynamic, transparent, and open manner, which fosters innovation. These qualities allow their political institutions to recover legitimacy and their economies to regain momentum. On the other hand, centrally controlled or illiberal countries, such as China and Russia, have yet to prove that their political systems will survive the economic transitions they are undertaking.

Still, liberal democracies cannot postpone difficult political decisions any longer. They need to fix themselves first if they are to sustain their liberal international order. They must boost productivity as well as wages, increase work-force participation even as new technologies eliminate old jobs, integrate immigrants while managing aging societies, and, in Europe’s case, evolve from centrally funded welfare states to more locally governed welfare societies, in which regions, cities, and other municipalities control a greater share of tax income and so can tailor the provision of social services to local needs. Liberal governments can rise to these challenges, whether by investing more in education, improving physical and digital infrastructure, or modernizing regulations that stifle entrepreneurship and growth in the service sector. These may seem like modest steps. But the appeal and, indeed, the survival of a liberal inter-national order depend on its ability to deliver returns to the societies within it that are superior to any alternative.

If the liberal world can get itself back on track, and does not itself turn to protectionism, it will likely find that the non-Western rising powers, China chief among them, will want to sustain the existing international economic order of relatively open markets and free flows of investment. After all, only through continued integration into the global supply chain of goods, services, people, and knowledge can emerging markets meet the aspirations of their growing middle classes. As the scholar G. John Ikenberry noted in his 2011 book, Liberal Leviathan, the United States and China—the two powers that will most likely determine the future of world order—may both refuse to compromise on their core principles of domestic governance and national security, but they can best coexist and prosper within a liberal international economic order.

It is in the West’s interests, therefore, that China’s economic development continue smoothly. U.S and European markets for goods, services, and infrastructure should remain open to Chinese foreign direct investment, as long as Chinese companies abide by U.S. and European rules on security and transparency and the protection of intellectual property. European countries should take the same approach with Russia, on the condition that Russian companies abide by EU rules. A mutual commitment to the liberal international economic order would help Western governments and their illiberal counterparts keep open other avenues for cooperation on shared challenges, such as terrorism and climate change, much as China and the United States have done over the past several years.

Western democracies are designed to allow the people to vent their frustrations and refresh their political leadership.

Meanwhile, European governments and businesses should take part in the Chinese-led effort to connect Northeast Asia with Europe across the Eurasian continent, a component of a series of regional infrastructure projects known as the Belt and Road Initiative. In 2016, the volume of global trade stagnated for the first quarter and then fell by 0.8 percent in the second. This reflects an ongoing structural decline in the growth rate of trade, as emerging markets, such as China, make more of their own products and developed countries bring some production back onshore. Against this backdrop, ramping up investment in infrastructure that can connect the thriving coastal areas of Asia to its underdeveloped hinterlands and then to Europe could create new opportunities for economic growth in both the liberal and the illiberal worlds. Rather than challenge such initiatives, the United States should support Western-led regional and multilateral financial institutions, such as the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Asian Development Bank, as they join forces with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the New Development Bank (set up by the BRICS countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) to pursue projects that are in every country’s economic interest while adhering to environmentally and financially sustainable principles.

Similar cooperation will be harder to build with Russia. Russia’s system of centralized and opaque political and economic governance makes deeper integration incompatible with the EU’s market and rules-based system, and NATO members have begun a much-needed upgrading of their military readiness in the face of recent Russian provocations. EU and NATO tensions with Russia will likely persist, even if Trump’s election heralds a change in U.S.-Russian relations. Still, the Chinese initiative to build new ways of connecting the Eurasian economy could provide an alternative way for the United States and Europe to engage with Russia.

The countries that built the liberal international order are weaker today than they have been for three generations. They no longer serve as an example to others of the strength of liberal systems of economic and political governance. Autocratic governments may therefore try to establish an alternative political order, one governed by might rather than by international laws and rules.

But liberal policymakers would be wrong to urge their countries to hunker down or resort to containment. An extended standoff between supporters of a liberal international order and those who contest it may accidentally lead to outright conflict. A better approach would be for liberal countries to prepare themselves for a period of awkward coexistence with illiberal ones, cooperating on some occasions and competing on others. The international political world will remain divided between liberals and statists for the foreseeable future, but both sets of countries will depend on a liberal international economic order for their prosperity and internal security. Time will tell whose form of government is more resilient. If history is any guide, liberal democracy remains the best bet.

A Few Brief Notes About Heart Attacks For a Lay Audience

December 12th, 2016

When I was first in the practice of cardiology, a heart attack was a fearsome problem. Our tools for handling it were primitive especially in light of what we know about the process and its management with today’s technology. Over the years, the understanding of coronary artery disease, coronary thrombosis, lipids, etc. have blossomed along with a greater and greater sophistication in dealing with a heart attack. In addition, with time, research, and the burgeoning of our tools, the understanding of the variability in the presentation of heart attacks have led to an increased capability in handling such cases.

Despite our new technology, a major element in cardiac diagnosis for over a century has been, and still is, the electrocardiogram invented in 1903 by Willem Einthoven, a Dutch physiologist. It remains today a critical tool in much of cardiology, including in the diagnosis and management of heart attacks. The alterations in the EKG during a heart attack can help assess the possible severity of the attack and possibly the prognosis.

What exactly is a STEMI Heart Attack?

A STEMI is a full-blown heart attack caused by the complete blockage of a heart artery. A STEMI heart attack is taken very seriously and is a medical emergency that needs immediate attention. STEMI stands for ST elevation myocardial infarction. “ST elevation” refers to a particular pattern on an EKG heart tracing and “myocardial infarction” is the medical term for a heart attack. So STEMI is basically a heart attack with a particular EKG heart-tracing pattern.

When someone is being evaluated for chest pain the EKG tracing is done as soon as possible to help see if it’s the heart. An ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is a combination of symptoms of chest pain and a specific STEMI EKG heart tracing. The EKG has to meet what is called STEMI criteria to make a correct diagnosis, just like an NSTEMI will provide another set of specific diagnostic criteria. The EKG also provides information as to which part of the heart the blocked artery is supplying, for example an anterior vs. a posterior STEMI vs. an inferior STEMI. An anterior STEMI is the front wall of the heart, and the most serious. A posterior STEMI is the back wall of the heart. An inferior STEMI is the bottom wall of the heart.

What Happens to the Heart?

In a heart attack there is sudden rupture of an unstable part of the wall in a heart artery (coronary artery). This leads to a build up of clot in an attempt to heal it. However this clot formation results in total blockage of the artery. Unfortunately, this total blockage leads to loss of blood supply to the heart beyond that point. The heart muscle stops working within minutes of this and dies within minutes to hours unless the artery can be opened up and illustrates what is the primary goal in tratment –––– to rescue as much heart muscle as possible. For this reason every minute from the onset of a heart attack is absolutely critical. Often the patient doesn’t make it to the hospital due to sudden death due to a malignant heart rhythm. For those that leave it too long to get help or for those in whom the heart attack isn’t treated, the heart muscle dies and is replaced by a non beating scar.

Treatment

The most important part of any STEMI treatment protocol is to get to the hospital as quickly as possible, so basically to call 911 immediately!!! In a STEMI, an artery is blocked and treatment centers on opening this up as quickly as possible. The preferred way to do this is by performing something known as an angioplasty and stent placement. In this procedure the artery is opened up working through a small tube passed into the heart either from the wrist or the groin. In some cases this cannot be performed quickly enough (less than 90-120 minutes) because of being too far away from a hospital equipped to do these things, and in order to avoid a significant delay in any treatment, clot busting drugs are used. Unfortunately these clot busters are not as good since they are less likely to open the artery and are also associated with bleeding complications. However, they are better than no treatment at all. So sometimes we have to use them.

In addition to this, a number of other treatments are used. Painkillers such as morphine are required to settle down pain and reduce anxiety. Oxygen is administered to those who are breathless or have heart failure. EKG monitors are attached so that potentially lethal arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation or even less dangerous but still significant arrhythmias such as inappropriate sinus tachycardia or atrial fibrillation with a rapid heart rate can be identified and treated. Blood thinners such as heparin, aspirin and other platelet inhibitors (clopidogrel/ticagrelor) are used to improve outcomes and prevent more heart attacks.

Post-STEMI Recovery

Educating patients and their families is one of the most critical aspects of care after a STEMI. Several new medicines are started after a heart attack, several of which may be needed lifelong. Patients need to be sure they take the medications prescribed to have a benefit. I’ll address these briefly later. Stopping smoking is essential. It’s important patients follow up with their doctors. Drugs should be used to control blood pressure. After a STEMI patients will be enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation that is a program they should attend on a regular basis. This involves exercise, addressing questions such as time of return to physical activities and dietary concerns. Following these things after the STEMI is arguably as important as treating the STEMI itself.
What exactly is a Non-STEMI Heart Attack

As previosly indicated, ST refers to the ST segment, which is part of the EKG heart tracing used to diagnose a heart attack. NSTEMI stands for Non-ST segment-elevation myocardial infarction. Nevertheless, a NSTEMI is still a type of heart attack, although presenting in a somewhat less acute manner than a STEMI. A myocardial infarction is, of course, the medical term for a heart attack.
How is a NSTEMI diagnosed?

In addition to signs such as chest pain, a heart attack is diagnosed mainly two ways. First is a blood test that shows elevated levels of certain markers of heart damage such as cardiac troponin. Secondly is by looking at the EKG heart tracing. As we have already shown, if there is a pattern known as STsegment-elevation on the EKG, this is called a STEMI, short for ST elevation myocardial infarction. If there is elevation of the blood markers suggesting heart damage, but no ST elevation seen on the EKG tracing, this is known as a NSTEMI, a non ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. A NSTEMI may be associated with other EKG changes such as ST segment depression. Often looking at the EKG helps us to locate the area of the heart that is affected.

Treatment of Non STEMI Myocardial Infarction

In addion to the EKG, part of the way of diagnosing a NSTEMI is by a blood test called troponin that is indicative of heart damage. Although the troponin test is great in that it does not miss heart attacks, it is not specific for heart attacks alone. Once the patient’s problem is diagnosed as a NSTEMI, the treatment strategy will typically include an echocardiogram to look at heart muscle functioning. Initially, blood-thinning agents will be given such as aspirin and the blood thinner heparin. These medicines have been proven to improve outcomes in patients with NSTEMI. There may be other medicines given such as a beta-blocker or nitrates. Many patients will then go for a heart catheterization. This test involves injecting dye into the heart arteries to look for blockages. In the case of severe blockages, treatment in the form of a stent or multiple stents may be required. Sometimes there are so many blockages that bypass surgery is advised.

Prognosis after a NSTEMI

A NSTEMI IS a heart attack, so the treatment of that applies here as well. Medicines are prescribed that have been proven to save lives in the long term for heart attack sufferers. Depending on factors such as symptoms and heart function, a number of medicines may be prescribed. Lifestyle changes and modification of risk factors are key in preventing recurrence. It is important for smokers to stop smoking. Blood pressure control and control of diabetes are key. A post-heart attack exercise plan should be incorporated into a daily lifestyle if possible. Often NSTEMI patients will be sent to cardiac rehab to receive education on the important of exercise and begin a program in a supervised environment.
Common Medicines Prescribed After a Non STEMI or STEMI Myocardial Infarction
Aspirin, antiplatelet agents, Beta-Blockers, ACE-Inhibitors and Statins are often prescribed.
STEMI vs NSTEMI – Which is Worse?

The bottom line is that both are bad. STEMI is seen as more of an immediate emergency because there is a known total occlusion of a heart vessel that needs opening urgently. In terms of long-term outcomes, they have equal health implications. Patients with NSTEMI often have other illnesses such as ongoing critical illness, diabetes, kidney disease, and other that means they have a generally high risk over the long term. Both STEMI and NSTEMI need aggressive treatment over the short and long term.

Super Spiral Galaxies Amaze Astronomers

December 12th, 2016

This is a magnificent article on a most astonishing force of nature and helps point out how infintely infinitessimal we all are, even our Milky Way Galaxy, in this strange Universe in which we survive for less than a micromillisecond of time.
Super Spiral Galaxies Amaze Astronomers

A new breed of giants raises questions about how the biggest galaxies arise
By Ken Croswell on December 8, 2015

Sporting a double nucleus, the super spiral galaxy CGCG 122-067 in the constellation Leo emits roughly eight times as much visible light as the Milky Way.

They’re big, they’re bright, they’re beautiful—and they shouldn’t even exist, at least to our current astronomical knowledge: gargantuan spiral galaxies that make our giant Milky Way seem downright modest. Spirals are supposed to be small fry compared to the greatest giant ellipticals, which are football-shaped swarms of stars thought to be the universe’s biggest and brightest galaxies. But now a search across billions of light-years has snared a rare breed of “super spiral” galaxies that rival their giant elliptical peers in size and luminosity, raising questions over how such behemoths are born.

“I was really surprised,” says Patrick Ogle, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology who discovered the super spirals earlier this year. Ogle looked for them by analyzing the NASA Extragalactic Database, an online compendium of galaxy information. He examined nearly 800,000 galaxies within 3.5 billion light-years of Earth, ranking them by luminosity—in particular, by how much visible light they radiate. Astronomers designate the characteristic luminosity of big galaxies with the symbol L*, which is pronounced “L star” and roughly corresponds to the brightness of our own Milky Way.

Galaxies much brighter than L* are extremely rare, and are typically ellipticals. Nevertheless, such powerhouses do exist, and the brightest galaxy in Ogle’s sample shone with a luminosity of 20 L*. Sure enough, it was a giant elliptical galaxy in a galaxy cluster.

But as Ogle’s team reports in work submitted to The Astrophysical Journal last month, three percent of the most luminous galaxies they found are actually spirals. “They look like normal spiral galaxies, but until you quantify how far away they are, you don’t realize how big and bright they are,” Ogle says. “I think that’s probably why people didn’t notice them before.” His sample shows 53 spiral galaxies with luminosities between eight and 14 L*. The largest super spiral, located in the constellation Hercules, possesses a disk of stars 440,000 light-years across, four times the size of the Milky Way’s stellar disk.

“These things are really rare,” Ogle says. Super spirals only pop up once in every billion cubic light-years of space, so astronomers have to look a long way to see any. Whereas the best-known giant elliptical galaxy, M87 in the Virgo cluster, is 54 million light-years from Earth, the closest super spiral galaxy in Ogle’s sample is 1.2 billion light-years distant. Because of their great distance, these galaxies look blurry in current images; the Hubble Space Telescope has not yet imaged them to reveal their full beauty.

William Keel, an astronomer at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa who was not affiliated with the research, says he knows of only one remotely comparable galaxy: the equally large but less luminous UGC 2885, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Perseus. “One [galaxy] is a pet rock; ten is a statistical sample,” Keel says. With more than fifty super spirals now known, astronomers hope to learn how these enormous entities arose.

“That’s the biggest puzzle,” says Debra Elmegreen, an astronomer at Vassar College not involved with the discovery of the super spirals. “Why are they there? Why aren’t they already ellipticals?” Elliptical galaxies can grow huge because they often occupy the busy centers of galaxy clusters, where they gobble other galaxies. Spiral galaxies prefer quieter, less populous neighborhoods; moreover, galactic collisions usually disrupt the delicate spiral galaxies and transform them into amorphous ellipticals.

Still, even normal-sized spiral galaxies can outshine their giant elliptical counterparts in star formation, which mostly occurs in a spiral galaxy’s gas-and-dust-packed arms. The super spirals are no exception, and are prodigiously producing stars by converting between five and 65 solar masses of gas into suns each year. For comparison, the Milky Way’s rate is just two solar masses a year. Spirals can sustain their star-making over eons by grabbing additional gas from intergalactic space. As a galaxy grows more massive, however, that infalling gas crashes in so fast it heats up to tremendous temperatures that inhibit star formation. So a spiral galaxy should only get so big. Yet, somehow, the super spirals keep on growing.

One clue to their origin may come from the finer details of their architecture. Four out of fifty-odd super spirals have double nuclei, suggesting that each of the four arose from the merger of two smaller spiral galaxies. Normally a spiral-spiral merger makes an elliptical galaxy, but if two spirals approach each other just right—with their disks parallel and both spinning the same direction—the pair can join forces to create an even larger spiral galaxy. In support of this idea, two of the super spiral galaxies harbor bright quasars at their centers. A quasar lights up when gas plummets into a galaxy’s central supermassive black hole, a process often triggered by a galactic merger.

Ogle says the super spirals will eventually fade over billions of years as they run out of gas and cease star formation. He suspects each will become a so-called lenticular galaxy, a cross between a spiral and an elliptical: Like a spiral galaxy, a lenticular has a disk of stars, but like an elliptical galaxy, it has too little gas to give birth to any more, and lacks spiral arms. Long before the super spirals suffer this fate, however, an armada of telescopes is sure to scrutinize them to settle once and for all how these beautiful objects managed to grow to such colossal proportions.


William S. Frankl, All Rights Reserved
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