When Free Speech and Islam Collide

February 24, 2012 by

Demands for religious and speech freedoms in Saudi Arabia have taken a heightened tone of urgency in the Western media following Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari’s ill-advised tweets allegedly denigrating God and the Prophet Muhammad. Imaginary conversations with the Prophet, deemed an insult in Islam, landed Kashgari in jail pending trial for blasphemy. Kashgari’s remarks have sparked outrage in the West over how a man’s seemingly crisis of faith could lead to a death sentence. Yet there is little to debate in Saudi Arabia: Blasphemous statements require harsh punishment.

Congressman Kingston’s Irresponsible Letter on Sri Lanka

February 24, 2012 by

U.S. Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA) recently submitted a bipartisan letter to President Barack Obama. Cosigned by eleven other members of Congress, it effusively praises the Sri Lankan government for all of its accomplishments since end of the country’s twenty-six-year civil war. The short note is heavy on rhetoric and light on reality. It talks about the enormous potential for a strengthening of US-Sri Lankan relations, going on to use words like “post-conflict,” while congratulating Rajapaksa’s semi-authoritarian regime for doing such a good job of resettling IDPs, among other misperceptions.

Trouble in Euro Zone Paradise?

February 24, 2012 by

The Europeans evidently thrive on instability and the ongoing threat of systemic risk. There is nothing else to explain the renewed hardline stance adopted by both Mario Draghi of the ECB and the German government on fiscal policy, just as the markets appeared to be calming down again. In response to the question as to whether Greece was a “one-off”, or a deal which would presage similar claims on the part of the other Mediterranean debtor nations, there has been a growing prevailing belief that either the terms demanded of Greece would be so punitive (“pour decourager les autres”) or that, if Greece were to default, a sufficiently large firewall would be constructed by the Troika to ensure that the contagion wouldn’t extend to other countries.

The Post-WWI Years and the 21st Century

February 24, 2012 by

The world today and the world immediately before the Second World War are strikingly similar. The military and foreign policy of the United States today is comparable to the close-minded introversion of isolationism. European countries are teetering on the brink of economic collapse. The German industrial juggernaut has reignited. The announced rearmament of Russia resembles that of the former Soviet Union, during and immediately after the First World War. Finally, we observe a tedious relationship between the West and those of the Middle East and Africa. The situation could result in the same dire consequences as it did some seventy-five years ago.