Human rights in Sri Lanka: Between the UN and the US

September 29, 2012 by

As the 21st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (HRC) ends on 28 September 2012, ongoing human rights developments in Sri Lanka will undoubtedly linger in the minds of many. Observers will look forward to the country’s upcoming Universal Periodic Review, which will take place this November, and to the National Report the Sri Lankan government has submitted for consideration. Yet it is next year’s HRC session that is particularly intriguing.

A Look to the US Presidential Debates

September 28, 2012 by

For political junkies, US presidential debates can be both exciting and formulaic. There are too many restrictions and candidates invariably pull out numerous stock phrases that sound excessively scripted. However, there’s also the possibility for drama, doublespeak and, most entertainingly, mistakes or miscalculations.

Syria and the Dogs of War

September 28, 2012 by

While the regime of Bashar al-Assad ignited the explosion by its brutal response to political protests, much of the blame for the current situation lies with those countries, seeing an opportunity to eliminate an enemy, that fanned the flames with weapons and aid: the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, plus a host of minor cast members ranging from Jordan to Libya.

China’s Deft Sudan Diplomacy

September 28, 2012 by

Beginning in the late 1990s, China made major investments in Sudan’s oil sector. When Sudan was still one country, China developed the oil fields initially discovered by the American company Chevron, built the pipelines for transporting crude from Sudan’s interior to Port Sudan on the Red Sea and built the oil refinery. China obtained control of 40 percent of Sudan’s oil production and shared the remainder with the governments of Sudan, Malaysia and India.

The Empowerment of the Lone Blogger

September 27, 2012 by

A video mocking the Prophet Muhammad, released by an American filmmaker, is instrumental in the death of an American Ambassador in Libya. A cartoon in a French weekly, also mocking Muhammad engenders protests in Kabul and the lockdown of French embassies in 20 countries. The connections between the causes and outcomes seem tenuous - even audacious. Certainly they do not seem proportionate. This should not be surprising. Causality – linking a cause to an event – is not a balanced equation.

Tony Abbott is Mad about Drones

September 25, 2012 by

Without imagination, predictability is bound to become a vice. Australia’s explosive, uncontainable opposition leader Tony Abbott has made his latest splash in policy waters by suggesting that his frightened country should propel itself into the twenty first century with drones. What sweet noble Uncle Sam can do, propelling his light from Winthrop’s “city upon a hill”, Australia can imitate “Down Under.”

A Fatuous Exercise: Australia and the Security Council

September 25, 2012 by

Why do countries bother? In a sense, a position as a temporary member on the UN Security Council is merely an award to the best and smoothest briber – such a country can claim some ceremonial status, not more. The gang of five retain their vice like grip on proceedings, allowing some faux respectability to be conferred on the other ten members who do the decent thing and innocuously rotate. Some commentators have been frank enough to identify the farce and call it as it is.

Failed legacies of Bush and Obama

September 25, 2012 by

The former first lady, Laura Bush, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed wrote of the harrowing and long drawn out ordeal of Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, who in 1989 was placed under house arrest by the ruling Junta. Aung San Suu Kyi, chairperson of the NLD party, won a resounding victory in 1990, garnering 59 percent of the vote. She never wavered in her belief that the voices of Burmese are important and should be listened to. In 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This past week, Aung San Suu Kyi was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal that she was awarded in 2008.

Japan-China Relations in Rough Waters

September 25, 2012 by

Could Japan and China—the number two and three largest economies in the world—really get into a punch-out over five tiny islands covering less than four square miles? According to the International Crisis Group, maybe: “All the trends are in the wrong direction, and prospects of resolution are diminishing.” That the two Asian superpowers could actually come to blows seems unthinkable, but a devil’s brew of suspicion, anger, ham-handed diplomacy, and a growing US military presence has escalated a minor dispute into something that could turn very ugly if someone makes a misstep.

U.S. Consulate in Benghazi: Attacked by Terrorists

September 24, 2012 by

The White House does not want to recognize that there is still a Global War on Terror (GWOT). So I am not surprised at the politicized remarks by the State Department and our U.S. ambassador to the UN, that the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 were a spontaneous act. The video, Innocence of Muslims, may have been a contributing factor to demonstrations that took place across North Africa, but the attacks in Benghazi were undertaken by al-Qaeda linked terrorists.

“Muslim Women Let’s Get Topless”: Off the Mark with FEMEN

September 24, 2012 by

The founding of the anti-prostitution outfit, Femen, had and still does have, a genuine basis of protest. Exploitative sex-tourism in the Ukraine is something women and men would understandably take a strong stand against, and local resistance has been scanty (no pun intended). Ditto numerous countries where sexual slavery has found itself growing on the coat tails of globalisation and corrupt governments.

Malian Diaspora: A Product of the Arab Spring

September 20, 2012 by

On September 10, 2012 Yeah Samake, the mayor of Ouéléssébougou in Mali, and I visited the Mintao Refugee Camp located in the northern Burkina Faso town of Djibo. We left the capital city of Ouagadougou early that morning, traveling a distance of over 150 miles on potholed roads, arriving at the camp four hours later. We passed several overloaded trucks along the way carrying precious food supplies to the destitute Diaspora that had succumbed to the washed out ruts in the road.

Some Thoughts on a Frustrating Presidential Race

September 20, 2012 by

Barack Obama inherited a mess, but his presidency has been, by most historical standards, a massive disappointment. Obama has had some foreign-policy successes, but most Americans could not care less about foreign policy. Besides, he has alienated the left-wing of his party by perpetuating (and even expanding upon) many of the counterterrorism policies of his predecessor. Obama is telling the American public that we need to move “Forward” and that Mitt Romney would be a step backward for a host of reasons. It would appear that Obama’s strategy is working.

Protests across the Muslim World: A Deeper Meaning?

September 20, 2012 by

Over the last couple of weeks thousands across the Muslim world from Tunisia to Jakarta, have staged protests, burned US flags outside of embassies and murdered an American diplomat over a video portraying slanderous and offensive content toward the prophet Mohammed and the religion of Islam. The protests spiraled out of control when the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other American citizens were killed by an unruly mob in Benghazi, Libya last week.

In the Midst of Plenty: American Plutocracy

September 19, 2012 by

In the lead up to the global financial collapse, America’s top 1 percent held nearly 35 percent of the nation’s wealth; a 275 percent increase over the past 30 years. Growing income inequality has been a concern for generations; however, the nation’s shift away from its traditional economic policies succeeded in silencing the most vocal critics. America’s transition into a service economy and subsequent push for market dominance has created an elite class that has superceded its predecessors in expanding enterprise and cementing personal advantages.

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