Impossible – Yet It’s Happening!

A lot of weird stuff is going down

Does anybody remember “Impossible – Yet It Happened!“? When I was a kid, that was my favorite part of the comics page. It was a series based on the work of Charles Fort, the chronicler of the odd, all about – well, supposedly “impossible” events that nonetheless did occur. I delighted in the unexpectedness of it, the start it gave as one contemplated events so out of the ordinary that they seemed like visitations from another dimension. It was somehow reassuring, as if to say: there’s more to this world than you – or anyone – can possibly imagine.

I mention this because “Impossible – Yet It Happened” could well serve as a headline for several major news stories over the past week or so. First off, there was Vladimir Putin’s decision to renounce his (alleged) right to intervene in Ukraine. The Russian leader asked the Duma, or Russian parliament, to revoke its resolution granting authority to move troops into the former Soviet territory.[amazon asin=1573928097&template=*lrc ad (right)]

After months of listening to news announcers hype the prospect of an “imminent” Russian invasion – which came amid reports of fierce fighting between pro-Russian “separatists” and the Ukrainian armed forces (that is, those who hadn’t already defected to the Russian side) – this veers quite close to the Realm of the Seemingly Impossible. After all, isn’t Putin a “strongman,” as he’s routinely described in the Western media? And strongmen, as we know, don’t back down, not even in the face of worldwide condemnation – which would surely have been the international reaction if and when Putin gave the Russian army its marching orders. But that’s not all….

Even more unlikely: after months of denouncing the secessionists as “terrorists,” and treating them accordingly, Kiev has declared a unilateral ceasefire and is now engaged in talks with the self-proclaimed “People’s Republic of Donetsk” and its neighbors in Slavyansk. The negotiations include OSCE representatives, the Russian ambassador to Ukraine, and Viktor Medvedchuk, a pro-Russian Ukrainian politician. The United States is conspicuous by its absence.

Gee, so I guess the eastern Ukrainians who don’t recognize the Kiev coup aren’t “terrorists” anymore. To which we might add: is Putin still a “strongman”? It seems like only yesterday that Hillary Clinton was likening him to Hitler – but can anyone imagine the failed painter and archetypal murderous tyrant renouncing his “right” to invade the Sudetenland?

Another episode in the recent slew of “Impossible Yet They Happened” anomalies is the prospect of  US-Iranian collaboration to tamp down the Sunni jihadist eruption in Iraq. Apparently the issue was the occasion for a side meeting at the ongoing nuke talks. Although an Iranian spokesman immediately ruled out the possibility of joint military action, and the Americans chimed in with a similar disavowal, it looks to me like this was merely to fend off hardliners in both countries.

The Israelis aren’t buying it, either: they are so worried about this that their “Strategic Affairs” minister, one Yuval Steinitz, issued a public statement warning Washington they had better not let this soften their stance on Iranian nukes if they know what’s good for them. According to Steinitz, the US government has reassured Tel Aviv that they’re standing strong (i.e. just as unreasonable and arrogant as ever) – although the Israeli minister took the opportunity to complain that the US shouldn’t be negotiating with Tehran about anything other than the terms of surrender.

That there is now even a possibility of US-Iranian cooperation in bringing some kind of order to Iraq seems like “Impossible, Yet It Happened” material to me. First we’re on the brink of war, and then – suddenly – the gods intervene, and the world’s turned upside down.

Be warned, however, that these abrupt divine interventions don’t always augur well. Take the mysterious appearance at our southern border of more than 40,000 children, mostly under the age of fifteen, who’ve made the long and dangerous journey all the way from Central America. It’s The Camp of the Saints and the Children’s Crusade all rolled into one. These kids are being housed in hastily-constructed camps, and as I write Matt Drudge has put up one of the oddest headlines in recent years:


To which one can only respond: Really???

As to why this sudden influx of youngsters – mostly traveling without their parents – is happening no one seems to have the slightest clue. The anti-immigration folks are saying it’s due to an executive order forbidding the deportation of underage illegal immigrants. But if that’s true then why are the vast majority coming from Honduras and El Salvador – and not, say, Mexico or some other place? Pro-immigration liberals explain it by arguing they’re coming to join up with their parents, who are already here. Yet this is apparently not the case, as most news accounts I’ve seen aver the parents are staying put, and it’s the kids who are setting out on a scary odyssey all by their little selves.

Whatever is at the root of it – gang violence in El Salvador and Honduras, the lax immigration policies of the Obama administration, the phase of the moon, or some as yet unknown factor – it certainly seems as unlikely as it is shocking. We’re talking about unaccompanied children trekking thousands of miles – hordes of them. As to what the response of the US government ought to be – my libertarian ideology doesn’t give me a ready-made template to impose as a “solution” to the problem. I simply note, with no small degree of bafflement, that this is happening – an ominous portent of things to come….

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