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Commentary

Archive | Commentary

Friedrich Hegel and Radical Extremists

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German Federal Archives

German Federal Archives

The correlational dichotomy between words and deeds is as old as history itself, ranging from Alexander the Great reading the Iliad, which supposedly inspired him to conquer the world, to the disturbing image of Nietzsche’s writings inspiring Hitler’s crazed fantasies. A more positive example is Abraham Lincoln seeking inspiration in the King James Bible and in Shakespeare to understand the nature of politics. Political men in this context should be read as men of action (including radicals).

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Ground Your Warplanes, Save the Horn of Africa

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Stuart Price/UN Photo

Stuart Price/UN Photo

“When you are hungry, cold is a killer, and the people here are starving and helpless.” – Batula Moalim

Not many of us can relate to such a statement, but millions of ‘starving and helpless’ people throughout the Horn of Africa know fully the pain of elderly Somali mother. Moalim, quoted by the British Telegraph, was not posing as spokesperson to the estimated 11 million people (per United Nations figures) who are currently in dire need of food. About 440,000 of those affected by the world’s “worst humanitarian disaster” dwell in a state of complete despair in Dadaab, a complex of three camps in Kenya. Imagine the fate of those not lucky enough to reach these camps, people who remain chronically lacking in resources, and, in the case of Somalia, trapped in a civil war. All that Batula Moalim was pleading for was “plastic sheeting for shelter, as well as for food and medicine.”

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Tiger Troubles

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Pete Souza/White House

Pete Souza/White House

Prior to the arrival of the now defunct and rather ominous tiger that mysteriously found it’s way into Ireland in the mid 1990′s, Ireland was in possession of a much more valuable offering to the outside world and that rather priceless offering was “Celtic pride.” Every year a bounty of tourists from all corners of the globe would flock to the little island of the green to savor a wee taste of the mystical Irish charm - a gift bestowed upon the ancient Celts by the Gods, in exchange for them to never complain about the rainy weather.

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Living in an Age of Violence

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Dmitry Valberg

Just after the invasion of Iraq, historian Eric Hobsbawm noted there being an unprecedented world situation. The great global empires of the past, Hobsbawm wrote, bear little comparison with the present United States empire. A key novelty of the American imperial project is that all other empires knew that they were not the only ones. Nor did they aim at global domination. However, the demise of the Soviet Union left the United States as the only superpower. The emergence of a ruthless, antagonistic flaunting of US power in the post-Soviet world is hard to understand, he wrote, all the more so since “it fits neither with long-tested imperial policies nor the interests of the US economy.”

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The Viking in Corporate America

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Richard Drew/AP

With just cause, a recent spate of journalism has deplored the absence of culpable Wall Street executives in federal jail cells across America. Major investment banks perpetrated systemic fraud against the public and wrecked consumer confidence in the credit and housing markets, contributing to the 2008 financial meltdown; yet, their most complicit leaders still do business, uncounted, uncharged, and unpunished.

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Venezuela’s Oil Sword

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Reuters

Reuters

This week, the U.S. slammed Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA with sanctions in an attempt to deter its trade with Iran. “Sanctions against the Fatherland of Bolivia? Imposed by the Gringo imperialist? Well, welcome Mr. Obama, don’t forget we are the children of Bolivar!” responded Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez via his Twitter account.

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How Osama bin Laden Brought Me to Shul

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Dan Nguyen

Osama Bin Laden was a dark man with dark thoughts whose blind obsession with hate poisoned relations between Muslims in Jews. On September 11, 2001, I was walking out of first period when the first tower was struck in New York City. Two hours later, our math teacher would announce the news to us. “If you pray, pray. America is under attack.” But Osama’s bid to divide the world between Muslims and “infidels” led Muslims everywhere to seek out solutions to extremism in our religion. For me, the solution was clear: engage the Jewish community.

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Osama bin Laden’s Death Gives the U.S. a Hard-Fought Victory

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Pete Souza/White House

Pete Souza/White House

President Obama announced to a stunned but elated American television audience that Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for a number of attacks against American and Western interests, including the September 11, 2001 attacks, has been killed deep inside Pakistan. Shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, President Obama announced from the East Room of the White House, “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.”

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Justice Denied for Mukhtar Mai

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via Wikimedia

via Wikimedia

In April, Pakistan’s Supreme Court struck a death knell to the rights of women in a country whose rape rates jumped by double digits last year. In the face of overwhelming evidence, hundreds of witnesses, and even a signed confession, the court, all men, acquitted five out of the six men convicted of the gang rape of a lone woman. The decision marked a bitter end to the victim’s decade long struggle for justice, during which time she endured harassment, illegal detainment, and psychological torture.

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UN Arms Trade Treaty faces an Uncertain Future

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Gage Skidmore

Gage Skidmore

In 2010 the Obama administration reversed the official policy of the U.S. and offered its support to a Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, which would spell out the details of a UN Arms Trade Treaty. However, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a caveat. The U.S. would support the talks as long as they operated on consensus. Clinton said at the time that the talks must operate “under the rules of consensus decision-making…Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly.”

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Reconsidering Sovereignty

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Pete Souza/White House

While sovereignty does serve the global system reasonably well, situations in Libya question its effectiveness. Particularly, whether the UN should have the ultimate authority to prevent intervention by external actors regarding sovereign nations or if regional institutions should be able to act without a UN resolution on the use of force. Except for Benghazi, Qaddafi has retaken significant portions of Libya that had been seized by rebels in the first weeks of the uprising and is poised to complete his military campaign.

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