There's loose cannons, and a loose cannon ...
It's a tad hubristic that the USA often refers to itself as America, given a couple of dozen other nations also inhabit the continent of that name.
It also prides itself on being aka Land of the Free. It might have to change that to Land of the Loose – as in Loose Cannon.
It's bad enough having a loose cannon on board, off its mountings and chaotically careering around, but worse if the loose cannon happens to be Head of State.
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The USA's general Middle East policy has equally been in loose cannon mode. Although exacerbated by events of 9/11, it's been crashing around the Middle East pretty much since World War II, partly because its mega-military likes to regularly flex its muscles, but also because it gets real edgy if its lifeblood oil supply lines ever appear threatened.
A totally trashed Iraq still bears chilling witness to the damage a loose cannon can do, especially when the cannon's deliberately let loose under wholly false pretences.
However, having stirred up a massive hornets' nest of ISIS fruitcakes lusting after martyrdom and virginal pie in the sky, at least US forces eventually helped bring the putative caliphate to heel, courtesy of the Kurds.
This meant deciding that the Syrian Assassin al-Assad was a good guy after all, and that it was OK to swap sides. The Kurds may not have helped out on the Normandy beaches, but hey, the great purger Uncle Joe Stalin was there when we needed him, and Putin and al-Assad are practically cousins.
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But whew! Isis subdued, with thousands of their combatants and dependents in the pokey - again courtesy of the Kurds. Thank the lucky stars, you'd think.
But this is where the steel trap mind of the current US President kicks in. "Gee," it thinks, "what to do now? I know! Let's pull plug on the Kurds so they have to let all those Isis dudes go, the Turks go berserk, the whole region gets re-destabilised, and then we can have fun sending in the cavalry again later!"
Meanwhile back at the White House, anyone who's been employed longer than five minutes is being projectile vomited out the revolving front door in case five minutes has been long enough to acquire sundry incriminating information.
Then there's another type of loose cannon. Some believe the premium global issue of the moment is the high tackle fiasco, as showcased at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
A generation or two back, there were two key rugby canons: you didn't kick a player in the head, and a high tackle was anything over the height of the armpits.
I haven't been able to dig up what the official tackle rule was back then (perhaps there's an old-school referee out there who knows?), but the armpit line was the prevailing dictum, strictly applying at all levels. Sensibly, that meant there was a decent margin of error should the arms slip up in the tackle, as often happens.
However, at some point the current rule crept in allowing tackling up to "the line of the shoulders". Now, the line of the shoulders is also where the neck starts, which is rightly considered part of the head. That means there is NO margin for error whatsoever – which in a fast-paced high-contact sport is ludicrous.
This change was accompanied by the present common mad practice of tacklers going into the tackle in a fully vertical position – purportedly to smother the ball. Surprise surprise, there were suddenly a raft of sickening head-to-head clashes never before present in the game, which is where most of the damage is now being done.
The current farcical effort to stem head contact is a reaction to a situation totally of the Union's own making. All that's needed is a return to the previous tackle canon – nothing higher than the armpit line.