WAS J-LO’S OUTFIT TOO SKIMPY? Were her dance moves too raunchy? Was Britain’s Got Talent – a family show – the right venue for the queen of bump and grind? Exactly how many pelvic gyrations should an entertainer be permitted on prime time television? Caught in the eddies of this latest hullabaloo, have the sales of Ms Lopez’s latest release, Live It Up, spiked or troughed?
The debate rages on.
Meanwhile, high above the surface of the Earth, American, British, French and Israeli spy satellites are tracking the progress of a Russian-built air defence system en route to Syria.
If they make it to their destination, the Russians’ sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missile batteries will provide the beleaguered government of Bashar Al Assad with a formidable strategic response to any air force foolhardy enough to enter Syrian air space. The talking heads of military punditry are already calling the S-300 a “game-changer”.
At the moment, however, the Russian missiles are still too far away from Syria’s borders for the world’s news media to interrupt the global debate about Ms Lopez’s crotch.
That will change.
Not because the millions of Britons currently enjoying Britain’s Got Talent will suddenly develop a passionate interest in the 80,000 victims of the Syrian civil war. Not even the grisly murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in broad daylight – just metres from the gates of Woolwich barracks – could persuade the British people to reflect upon their government’s foreign policy, or consider, even for a moment, whether the one might bear some relation to the other.
Not even the bovver boys of the English Defence League, getting ready to trash another poor Pakistani’s kebab stand, give much of a toss about foreign policy. Which is odd, really, since the EDL is filled with romantic nostalgia for the UK’s imperial past: the days when Britain possessed not only talent, but also about one quarter of the planet’s land – and all of its sea.
A pity too, in a way, because were they at all interested in the behaviour of Prime Minister James Cameron and his Foreign Secretary, William Hague, the EDL would soon discover that the habits of imperialism die hard. (Even if the UK is now just a guard-dog Uncle Sam occasionally releases to roam its vast estates.)
Had they being paying attention this past week, the EDL’s members would have been reassured to see that the British bulldog’s teeth can still draw blood. As witnesses to those two old heroes of Suez, the UK and France, bullying the EU into lifting its arms embargo of Syria, how lustily they would have cheered. And their cheering would have got a lot louder when they realised that the lifting of the embargo was the old imperialists’ way of sinking the proposed, Russian-sponsored, Syrian peace talks.
These discussions (had they been allowed to occur) would likely have unfolded in a context quite uncongenial to the United States, Britain, France, Israel and the wealthy Sunni Muslim bankrollers of the Syrian rebellion. Over recent days, the Syrian armed forces, aided by their Iranian and Hezbollah allies, have been advancing steadily against the faction-ridden and faltering Syrian Armed Resistance. By June or July – when the talks were scheduled to convene – it’s possible President Assad’s troops and planes could have driven the SAR back across the Turkish border – thereby rendering entirely moot the rebels’ demand that, as the price of peace, Assad step aside from the presidency.
Hoping that Assad’s enemies would refrain from any actions likely to jeopardise the peace process, the Russian Government was delaying the dispatch of the S-300 air defence system to its Syrian ally. But the UK’s and France’s success at persuading the EU to lift its ban on supplying arms to the Syrian combatants has put an end to Russian forbearance. The all-important shipment will soon be on its way.
Everybody from Whitehall to Washington, the Quai d’Orsay, Jerusalem and Riyadh knows that the moment the S-300 system becomes operational any chance of the “West” imposing a Libyan-style “No-Fly Zone” over Syria will be gone. The trouble is, Assad’s Mig fighter jets and Mi24/25 attack helicopters are winning the Syrian civil war. If the SAR is to regain the ground it has lost, the imposition of a US/UK/France/Israel-enforced NFZ is essential.
The Israeli’s have an even more pressing reason to fear the arrival of Russia’s S-300 system. Syria’s Iranian allies keep trying to send surface-to-surface missiles to its friends in the Lebanon-based Hezbollah militia – weapons capable of causing real damage to their intended Israeli targets. So far, the Israel Air Force has interdicted and destroyed these shipments. An effective Syrian air defence system would make such interdictory raids considerably more dangerous.
Presumably this is what prompted the Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon to go on the record this morning with the following, very clear, statement concerning the Russians and their “game-changing” arms shipment:
“As far as we are concerned, that is a threat. At this stage I can’t say there is an escalation. The shipments have not been sent on their way yet. And I hope that they will not be sent. If, God forbid, they do reach Syria, we will know what to do.”
But, once again, there’s a problem. The S-300 batteries come with Russian crews. Any Israeli attack will, therefore, stand a very good chance of killing Russian military personnel.
What happens then is anybody’s guess – but it’s unlikely to be very pleasant.
And so, while the spy satellites circle the globe and SIGINT analysts pore over high-res images of crates and containers, trucks and transport aircraft, cargo ships and carrier groups, the rest of the world ogles the video clip of Ms Lopez living it up.
There are worse things to look at.