December 30, 2011 by Anis Bajrektarevic
From Copenhagen to Durban, the conclusion remains the same: We need principles and accorded actions as the only way to tackle the grave problems facing this planet. We are lacking elementary consensus in the Bretton Woods institutions, on WTO Doha Development round, on nuclear non-proliferation (NPT), in the IPCC, on post-Kyoto negotiations, and finally, on the alarming state of the environment. Ergo, on a global scale, we fundamentally disagree on the realities of this planet and the ways in which we can address them.
I am neither moralizing nor idealizing. A world based on agreed principles and commonly willed actions is a better place. Furthermore, it is the only way for the human race to survive. Already some years ago, as I noted in my writings and in my lectures, confrontational nostalgia and academic inertia keeps recycling Cold-War rhetoric, although the Soviet Union disappeared from the geopolitical map over two decades ago.
December 30, 2011 by John Lyman
Protests between secular and ultra-Orthodox Israelis centered in the town of Beit Shemesh, Israel have shed light on a trend line. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, and reported by The Jerusalem Post, the population of Israel, including the occupied territories is 7,836,000 million, of which, 5,901,000 are Jews.
Protests earlier in the week ended with one police officer being wounded after several hundred ultra-Orthodox men objected when the police removed a sign that ordered women in Beit Shemesh to walk on the opposite side of the street from men.
December 29, 2011 by Taylor Dibbert
Guatemala’s civil war was, by far, Latin America’s bloodiest—leaving approximately 200,000 people dead. A United Nations-supported truth commission found that more than 90 percent of the human rights violations were committed by the military, including over 600 massacres in primarily indigenous villages.
Since the conclusion of the war in 1996, the pursuit of accountability has not gone well. This past August, a Guatemala City judge sentenced four former soldiers to over 6,000 years in prison, for having participated in a massacre in 1982. This was a good thing, but it is nowhere near enough.
December 29, 2011 by Richard Lyman
The “Gondar 12”, Madelyn Engvall, Jack Prebis, Charlie Callahan, Frank Mason, Andrea Wright, Patricia Martin-Jenkins, Peggy and John Davis, Martin Benjamin, John Stockton, Dallas Smith and I, arrived on the flight from Addis. Gondar is in the historic, traditional and remote Begemedir Province which stretches from north of the Siemien Mountains to the south of Lake Tana (the source of the Blue Nile). We were assigned to the only secondary school, Haile Selassie I Secondary School (HS1SS), in the vast province.
December 29, 2011 by Sudhanshu Tripathi
Anna Hazare began his three-day fast at the MMRDA ground in Mumbai (the commercial capital of India) to promote his never-ending fight against corruption, the Indian Parliament began debate on the contentious “Lokpal” bill being considered before lawmakers. After consulting with his doctors he was advised to end his fast. However, he continues to pressure the government to make changes to current legislation.
Anna had temporarily called off his August Revolution, as its come to be known, on the clear assurance by the government that they would consider his list of demands.
Pent up anger against a perceived governance-deficit against all ruling political parties has found an outlet in the protest movement led by Anna Hazare, the crusader-in-chief for instituting a Jan Lokpal (Ombudsman).
December 25, 2011 by John Lyman
In a few days, 2012 will be celebrated with excitement, maybe relief and some trepidation in global capitals. Upon some reflection, the general consensus will be that 2011 was an eventful year. Of the significant changes that happened over the course of 2011, the Arab Spring and the very recent demonstrations in Moscow after their latest effort at democratization, the fact that the world is no longer haunted by as many dictators and despots who defined our collective understanding of the international system, could define 2011 as much as some of the peaceful transfer of powers that happened in the Middle East and North Africa.
Whether at the hands of American Special Forces (Osama bin Laden), American drone aircraft (Anwar al-Awlaki), at the hands of his own countrymen (Col. Muammar Qaddafi), or through decades of a high caloric diet (Kim Jong-il), 2011 was not a pleasant year for a number of bad actors. And in 2012, the Robert Mugabe’s of the world will be anxious to see if they will suffer the same fate.
December 25, 2011 by Sudhanshu Tripathi
With the death of former Czech President Vaclav Havel, the world has lost a rational humanist and a gentle man who crusaded relentlessly for the establishment of moral values in society and polity. By pursuing these values throughout his life, he eventually became a prophet.
The end of the year witnessed the sad demise of the legendry Czech leader, Vaclav Havel, who died a hero. He crusaded relentlessly throughout his life for the cause of democracy as a means of awakening, Power to the Powerless.
A poet, playwright, political dissident, president, philosopher, and a philanthropist, Havel successfully grasped through his rare intellect ordinary people’s feelings and aspirations and provided ordinary Czech’s an outlet in the form of a bloodless revolution known as Velvet Revolution that unseated the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia in 1989. Vaclav led his country with unique moral guidance as they walked down to the difficult path of democracy.
December 23, 2011 by Taylor Dibbert
In Central America, the Peace Corps is getting leaner. The organization has recently announced that it will be pulling out of Honduras. The Peace Corps has also put a hold on sending new training groups to Guatemala and El Salvador. There is no question that these countries are dangerous. Honduras, for example, has a murder rate of nearly 82 people per 100,000 inhabitants, the highest in the world.
The safety of Peace Corps volunteers has been an intensely debated topic on Capitol Hill recently. Earlier this year, the House and Senate unanimously passed the Kate Puzey Volunteer Protection Act of 2011.
December 23, 2011 by John K. Yi
There’s been much talk about how North Korea has arrived at a turning point in its history. However, Pyongyang’s behavior before and after the official announcement of the death of its “Beloved Leader,” Kim Jong-il, indicates that change may not come as quickly as many may hope.
If there’s one thing Pyongyang has managed to handle well in the aftermath of the death of its nation’s strongman is keeping a secret. Kim Jong-il passed away on Saturday December 17th and for nearly two days until the official announcement on December 19th, the North Korean military and political elite kept a secret for what could be a catalyst for monumental changes within North Korea and for the entire East Asia region.
December 22, 2011 by Sudhanshu Tripathi
The unprecedented wave of public protest, visible in the continuing anti-government popular demonstrations that emerged in Russia following the recent and largely orchestrated election results to the Duma, are unlikely to subside in the near future. Russians are demanding reforms and the Kremlin has been slow to address the concerns of the voters. Russian post-election activism, in fact, adds to the tag-line of 2011 as a myth-busting year.
2011 began with ‘stereotyped and politically reluctant’ Arabs, who staged successful revolutions that culminated in what has been commonly referred to as the ‘Arab Spring’, which uprooted and overthrew well-entrenched autocratic and dictatorial regimes. This was followed by ‘market-oriented’ Americans who organised the collective, Occupy Wall Street movement, to prevail upon the mighty financial barons.
December 21, 2011 by Sadia Ali Aden
Viewing through computer and television screens the grim images of women, children, and elderly suffering from the agony of protracted civil-war and the worst famine in Somalia does not prepare the human mind for the reality that awaits on the ground. I was confronted with that reality upon arriving in what many consider the land of misery – my homeland, Somalia. It goes without saying that this human tragedy did not develop overnight; it has been in the making for several years. The prolonged drought, unrelenting instability and the ever-present external interferences have created the right condition for the current famine.
In December 2007, in an article entitled, The War on Terror and the Worst Humanitarian Crisis in Africa, this author, among others, cited 40 international NGOs who released a joint statement “ominously warning against a gathering cloud of humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia and urging the international community to respond to this man-made calamity…”
Yet, the international community continued to ignore all the warning signs until July 2011 when the UN finally declared certain regions famine-stricken.
December 21, 2011 by Conn M. Hallinan
“On his recent trip to Asia Pacific, the President made it clear that the centerpiece of this strategy includes an intensified American role in this vital region.”
– Tom Donilon, President Barak Obama’s national security advisor
“An Indo-Pacific without a strong U.S. military presence would mean the Finlandisation by China of countries in the South China Sea, such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore.”
– Robert Kaplan, senior fellow Center for a New American Security and author of Monsoon: The Indian Ocean the Future of American Power
Donilon is a long-time Democratic Party operative and former lobbyist for Fannie Mae and a key figure in the Clinton administration’s attack on Yugoslavia and the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe. Kaplan is a Harvard Business School professor and advisor on the Mujahedeen war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, as well as current U.S. military intervention in the Horn of Africa.
Something is afoot. Indeed, it is.
December 21, 2011 by Sajida Tasneem
Since the popular uprising of 25 January, 2011, protestors have not just challenged the figureheads of the old regime, but the very fundamental power structure upon which Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship had been built. For thirty years, the army, bureaucrats and capitalists collectively formed an oppressive alliance against any kind of social justice, economic equality and political freedom for ordinary people.
Alongside the military’s collaboration with the ruling classes at home, its strategic alliance and subservience to the US crucially facilitated the dictatorship with economic and political survival. Protestors and activists continuing to revolt against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, (SCAF) are not just challenging the authority of the military junta.
December 19, 2011 by Abukar Arman
In every society there is a small group of people who possess adequate authority to influence positive (or negative) change. This group—often referred to as The Elite—could come from any sector of a society from military, economic, political, social, spiritual, to the intellectual. In one way or another, every one of these circles of authority has participated in the failure of the Somali state. However, none has rejected that notion more than the Intellectual Class, whether religious, secular, or in-between.
Of course, contrary to the common misconception, not all intelligent persons, high achievers, or academically credentialed people who become experts in one field or another are intellectuals.
Unlike the segment often referred to as experts and technocrats whose function is often focused on the micro level of structure and governance, intellectuals, by and large, focus on the macro. They produce ideas that influence powers that be and shape history by moving societies towards one direction or another.
December 19, 2011 by Daniel Wagner
It comes as no surprise that Kim Jong Il died at a relatively young age of a heart attack over the weekend. Having suffered from ill health for a number of years (cancer and, more recently, a stroke), he was well known for his pleasurable excesses, and his father, Kim Il Sung, also died of a heart attack.
Kim Jong Il knew his end was near, which prompted him to catapult his youngest son — Kim Jong Un — believed to be just 28 years old, as his named successor.