June 30, 2012 by Richard Lyman
I don’t recall the issue of censorship being discussed in our Peace Corps training program at Georgetown University during the summer of 1962. Our means of communicating with home were very basic and primitive when compared to the instant internet communications of today. My weekly letter home was anticipated and shared with family members and friends.
Among my parents’ generation there was a great reservoir of good will towards Ethiopia and His Majesty Haile Selassie. They remembered with great emotion his 1936 appearance before the League of Nations where he appealed to the world to take collective action against the Italian Fascist invasion of Ethiopia and their horrific killing of civilians.
June 29, 2012 by Michael W. Edghill
Despite the rhetoric coming from the campaign trail in the next few months, the United States is still the major power player on the global stage. To be sure, American dominance is not what it used to be as serious power brokers, such as China, rise globally and growing powers, such as Brazil, rise in the Western Hemisphere.
But the US is still the most powerful nation in the world. With that power often comes the expectation that the US should be the great force for peace and justice globally. If ‘American exceptionalism’ is still the modus operandi, then the US should be venturing to solve grand problems.
June 29, 2012 by Sudhanshu Tripathi
India made its presence felt at the G-20 Summit by deliberating the core issues of the Eurozone crisis and also pledging to help relieve the financial burdens felt by several EU states. The seventh G-20 Summit at Los Cabos, Mexico issued a strong message from non-European members to Europe to end the bickering so that Eurozone’s finances can be supervised by the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). India’s PM, Manmohan Singh, a noted economist, stated that a crisis in the European banking system can choke trade and economic growth not just in the Eurozone but throughout the world.
Singh emphasised the need to provide liquidity to European banks without neglecting issues of solvency. The situation is so grave that the IMF has been trapped by a major resource crunch. Noting the seriousness of this situation, he has pledged to contribute $10 billion to the IMF’s $430-billion firewall.
He told the participating leaders at the G20 whose countries account for 80 percent of the global GDP, to send “a strong signal to the markets that the Eurozone countries will make every effort to protect the banking systems and the global community will back a credible Eurozone effort and response.”
June 28, 2012 by Binoy Kampmark
In the Belgrade fortress that used to boast one of the Ottoman Empire’s most formidable bastions, rests a charming church aromatic with incense. A strict placard lies in wait at the entrance, warning the attendees that they should dress properly, keep their hands out of pockets, take their hats off and observe in respect.
The side entrance of the ‘Rose’ or Ružica church is flanked by the sentimental sculptures of two Serbian soldiers from different eras – one from World War I, the other from the 14th century.
June 28, 2012 by Marshall Auerback
George Soros probably understands the nature of the immediate problem facing the Eurozone. Namely, the accelerating bank run which, amongst other things, potentially exposes Germany to trillions of contingent euro liabilities. But even Soros reflects the prevailing – and mistaken – view that Greece might need to become the sacrificial lamb required to save the euro. He said as much in a recent interview in Der Spiegel.
Questioned about his proposal to rescue the European Monetary Union via a Debt Reduction Fund, Soros was asked whether this measure could also save Greece.
June 28, 2012 by Gibson Bateman
Obama and Human Rights
The Obama administration did fight to get a seat on the Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2009; something that George W. Bush probably did not even contemplate.
And, as David Bosco has noted, the US has been relatively active at the HRC since that time. Bosco goes on to say that “The United States has laid special emphasis on the Council’s use of special experts, individuals given a mandate to investigate some particular country or human rights theme.”
June 27, 2012 by Nathan William Meyer
It is like something out of a movie: deep in the archives of a war torn country a team of intrepid scientists discovers forgotten maps leading to buried treasure. Fantastical as it seems, such a scene played out in 2004 when American geologists found a cache of charts in the Afghan Geological Survey’s library dating from the days of Soviet occupation. Returned to the library after the NATO invasion, these Russian charts were protected in geologists’ homes through the tumultuous 1990s’ and for good reason: the data indicated under Afghanistan’s mountains and dry plains lay vast mineral deposits.
Guided by Soviet charts, aerial surveys in 2006 and 2007 covered 70% of the county and produced the most comprehensive geologic study in Afghan history and estimate the nation’s untapped mineral wealth at $1 trillion. Today the Afghan government believes this wealth buried in their rugged provinces could exceed $3 trillion, but as frequently asked of buried treasure: is it cursed?
June 27, 2012 by Justin Vaïsse
Not since Charles De Gaulle has a French president confronted an economic and international situation as tumultuous as the one faced by François Hollande.
François Hollande, who took over the presidency from Nicolas Sarkozy last month, is facing an unemployment rate in the double digits and a national debt that stands at 90% of GDP. In addition to his domestic challenges, François Hollande finds himself at the center of a deepening European crisis, with Greece on the brink of collapse and most euro-zone countries in a recession. While the challenges facing the new president are enormous, there seems to be little consensus on how he will govern.
June 27, 2012 by Ramzy Baroud
When Lebanese security reportedly killed 18-year-old Ahmad al-Qasim over a documentation dispute in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, the camp’s Palestinian refugee population erupted in anger and dismay.
Within a few days of the June 15 incident, the outrage had spread and more refugees were killed. Fouad Muhi’edeen Lubany was killed on June 18, as a crowd of mourning refugees attempted to bury the first victim of Nahr al-Bared, near Tripoli in the north. Another victim of the violence was Khaled al-Youssef, who was shot in Ein al-Hilweh refugee camp, near Saida, about 30 miles south of Beirut. More Palestinians were reportedly injured, along with three Lebanese security officers.
Palestinian refugees in Lebanon exist on the margins of a larger political question concerning the country’s irreconcilable sectarian, factional and familial divides. This makes it somewhat difficult to place the tragedy of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon within a single political context. Lebanon’s enduring conflicts and political alliances are in a constant state of flux. So when such events concerning Palestinian refugees in Lebanon take place, the issue becomes almost entirely hostage to political considerations and hyped factional sensitivities. Instead of attempting to uncover the best way to tackle the underpinnings of such dramas, or examining the relationship between economic, social and other forms of alienations and political violence, the priority repeatedly revolves around trying to cover the festering problem.
June 26, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
What was that Turkish F-4 Phantom II up to when the Syrians shot it down?
Ankara said the plane strayed into Syrian airspace, but quickly left and was over international waters when it was attacked, a simple case of carelessness on the part of the Turkish pilot that Syrian paranoia turned deadly.
But the Phantom—eyewitnesses told Turkish television that there were two aircraft, but there is no official confirmation of that observation—was hardly on a Sunday outing. According to the Financial Times, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, told the newspaper “the jet was on a test and training mission focused on Turkey’s radar defense, rather than Syria.”
June 26, 2012 by George Grevett
The pattern is becoming despairingly familiar. The embattled periphery countries, led by Italy and Spain but also endorsed by France, propose more fiscal integration in the form of mutual debt pooling and shared financial liability. Such reforms are met with resounding rejections from Germany who instead point to the long run benefits of austerity in terms of promoting a sustainable economy.
Similar responses are also reserved for Greece who is seeking to renegotiate elements of its bailout agreement following a recent general election which resulted in the formation of an awkward coalition government.
June 26, 2012 by David H. Shinn
Delegations representing the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the government of Somaliland met at Chevening House in London on 20-21 June as part of a dialogue that began at the London Conference and continued at Istanbul II.
The Chevening House Declaration is unexceptional. It primarily commits both sides to continue the dialogue and cooperate in the fight against terrorism, extremism, crime, piracy, illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping. Importantly, however, it suggests that both sides are willing to continue the talks.
Click here to read the brief declaration and click here to read a congratulatory statement by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. For a commentary on the declaration by Yusuf M. Hasan in the Somaliland Sun, click here.
June 26, 2012 by Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange has a few tricks left up his sleeve after his 16-month battle to avoid extradition to Sweden, and seeking asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London has been one of them. He has managed to throw an assortment of spanners into the works of state since becoming a figure of notoriety. He has, for instance, made a threat to run for a seat in the Australian Senate, an apt riposte to Australia’s indifference in mounting consular interventions on his behalf. He has been given his own program on the Russian network RT.
June 26, 2012 by Margaret Alston
The mostly Muslim nation of Malaysia has always walked a fine line between protecting the rights of Malay women and acknowledging the role that Islam plays in the daily lives of its citizens. Yet many of the obstacles facing Malaysian society disproportionately affect women. These include endemic poverty, human trafficking, environmental degradation, a rise in the numbers of refugees, civil unrest, crime and a resurgent Islamic movement. Nonetheless in this mostly Muslim country of nearly 30 million people, by comparison with other Islamic nations, the fight for greater protection of Malaysian women’s rights has had some success.
June 25, 2012 by Marshall Auerback
European financial officials are preparing their policy package to deal with the current crisis for the meeting scheduled next week. It is not clear whether any of the proposals will be able to stop the ongoing bank run. Here are some of the rumored proposals:
* Euro members jointly issue short term bills – in effect, short term euro bonds.
* A debt redemption fund as proposed by economic advisors to Merkel.
* New procedures for euro area banking supervision.
* Using the ESM to purchase peripheral nations’ bonds in order to reduce their sovereign interest rates.
French President Hollande is advocating the ESM purchase program. He is also advocating that the ESM be given a banking licence linked to the European Central Bank’s balance sheet. This makes sense as it addresses the solvency issue.