Trump, Kim, Hamas, Putin: When Diplomacy Is Like A Crêpe

Oh, crepe.
Oh, crepe.
Jillian Deutsch


PARIS — Here in France, one learns that the first step to flipping a crêpe is to ensure the batter is cooked all the way through. Only then can you shake the edges loose, and with a flick of the wrist, flip the crêpe high in the air. The kitchen of foreign diplomacy has been hectic lately, with some new cooks — and some old cooks with new recipes — leaving the world with the prospect of longstanding positions flipping from one extreme to the other.

The new chef with the tallest hat, President Donald Trump, suddenly departed this weekend from the United States' decades-long policy on North Korea that refused any direct bilateral negotiations with North Korea, in favor of talks among top regional powers in Asia. In an interview with CBS News, Trump expressed a willingness to meet with Pyongyang's isolated leader Kim Jong-un, whom he called "a pretty smart cookie." And later told Bloomberg he would be "honored" to meet the 33-year-old dictator.

These comments stunned a diplomatic community that has been cautious in the face of Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and Kim's unpredictability. The White House scaled back Trump's comments saying that "many conditions' would need to be met before Kim Jong-un and Trump are shaking hands. Still, that particular crêpe is already in the pan.

Another old conflict that could return to the front burner is the Israeli-Palestinian question. This morning, Hamas released a new charter calling for the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. This is a departure from a policy written in its founding charter 30 years ago that Hamas would only accept a Palestinian state if it included all of what is present-day Israel.

And sometimes, a crêpe is sent airborne.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Khaled Meshal, the exiled leader of Hamas, said that the group "will not give up any parcel of Palestinian land and strives to liberate all of the Palestinian lands," but "is willing to negotiate a sovereign and independent state with Jerusalem as its capital." Though this signals a moderation in Hamas' ideas and a possible break from its parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, there are many moving parts to this most intractable conflict. A reminder that no quick recipes for peace exist is in the familiar face of Hamas' rival Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who has been at the center of the issue for a half-century. Tomorrow, Abbas arrives at the White House to meet Trump, who has touted his ability to solve this conflict as well.

The mercurial U.S. president will no doubt also be a prime topic of conversation today in the Russian city of Sochi during a much-watched meeting between Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel. Berlin-based daily Die Welt reports that Trump has changed the situation so much that the German leader wants to "look Putin in the eyes' and find out where Russia stands. "If Putin gave as much as a hint that he was looking for a way out of the Ukraine and Syria crises, Merkel would build him every bridge," Die Welt writes. "Hope has not been given up in the Chancellery — but it is not too big either."

Simmering conflicts and all-out war, well-meaning diplomats and power-hungry politicians. And sometimes, a crêpe is sent airborne. In that suspended moment of uncertainty, the world waits to see if it will land successfully back in the pan — or leave a huge mess. But whether waiting for the batter to cook to perfection or flipping from one side to another, the key to a successful crêpe is never taking your eyes off it.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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