Greetings, HuffPost readers. It has been awhile since I have posted. I have an important reason for returning.
Some of my close friends and colleagues work in Cte d’Ivoire, addressing the very significant HIV prevention and treatment challenge facing that country Read more
Tag Archive for World News
Greetings, HuffPost readers. It has been awhile since I have posted. I have an important reason for returning.
Is this a just war? The word seems to make people edgy. And the time of reasonable debate (without risk of attracting the thunder of sovereignist neopacifism) on this very old concept of political philosophy one would have thought had proven its theoretical validity, from the Dominican Francisco de Vitoria to the American Michael Walzer, is in the past. Then, let’s say inevitable war. Let’s say that, confronted with a rabid tyrant, when a people’s right to self-determination becomes the right of the tyrant to determine their fate, when he, the tyrant, claims the double principle of sovereignty (a man’s home is his castle; what happens within my borders is my affair and mine alone) and of equality of States before the law (a crazy putschist, a professional criminal, is equal to a democrat, therefore nothing and no one has the right to curb his bloodthirsty impulses), moral law dictates, yes, that one must intervene to stop him Read more
I recently returned from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where I gave a speech on UN reform at a conference on “Global Strategic Developments: A Futuristic Vision”. It was an incredibly interesting place to get a perspective on the conflict in Libya. Speakers at the conference included the UAE’s Foreign Minister, the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council and former US Secretary of State Colin Powell. The participants at the conference were from around the Arab world, Europe, the U.S., and many other nations.
There seems to be a general consensus that while the “no fly zone” will not stop the conflict in Libya, it is a necessary evil Read more
This is the third Rolling Stone article that I’ve highlighted in the last month or so, but the magazine’s new special report, dubbed “The Kill Team,” is worth a read.
It offers a thorough look at how American soldiers in Afghanistan allegedly murdered Afghan civilians. One, Spc. Jeremy Morlock, 22, recently pleaded guilty to charges of murdering three Afghans and has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.
What’s most interesting about the article, in my opinion, is that it raises questions about military officer accountability and highlights the lack of any real investigation for several months despite high-level awareness of suspicious behavior. A few choice nuggets (with emphasis added):
So far, though, no officers or senior officials have been charged in either the murders or the cover-up Read more
In our little room, he told us that morning about the time he had spent in the USSR. He’d only been in Havana a few hours, after an Aeroflot plane had brought him back from his long sojourn in the land of Gorbachev. The gothic letters on his diploma showed he’d graduated from the university in some kind of engineering my childish mind couldn’t understand. It was the first time I’d heard about the Juragu nuclear reactor, which was built in Cienfuegos in 1983 Read more
It was June of 1967, a few hours before the outbreak of the Six-Day War, when my father sent us to Jericho away from the battlefront to stay with my grandmother. Back then, we did not have a television, and I remember huddling in the “radio room,” as my grandmother called it; I would later refer to it as the “war room.”
This was where we’d spend most of our time during the war, away from the broken glass caused by Israeli fighter-jets racing through the sound barrier listening to the Egyptian broadcast “Sawt El Arab” or “Voice of the Arabs.”
“Report number 42,” the announcer would say, and through the crackling sound of my grandmother’s ancient shortwave radio, we would all strain to hear the war updates.
“The Egyptian forces have repelled the Zionist army… the Jordanian army advanced to Jabel el Mukaber.”
I believe that it was on the second or third day of the Six Day War, as we were listening to these victorious reports, that we felt a rumbling throughout the house Read more
By Rory O’Connor and Richard Bell
Tsunami is a Japanese word — one sign of the island nation’s intimate relationship with the destructive forces of the ocean that surrounds it. Despite the fact that the word is one of the few from the Japanese language to attain universal use, “tsunami” didn’t even appear in Japanese government guidelines and standards for nuclear plants until 2006. The New York Times reports, “[d]ecades after plants — including the Fukushima Daiichi facility that firefighters are still struggling to get under control — began dotting the Japanese coastline.”
And as the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert recently pointed out, the word “meltdown” appears nowhere in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s glossary of atomic-related words and phrases — although a Google search for the past month showed more than 1.93 billion hits for the word.
How can this be? How can words in such common use not even exist in the parlance of nuclear developers and regulators?
The answer is simple: they speak a different language from you and me — and have a totally different mindset. The language of Nukespeak, as we have pointed out for decades, (ever since co-writing the book Nukespeak: Nuclear Language, Visions and Mindset) is one of euphoric visions and euphemistic language, and its mindset renders it impossible for them to “imagine the unimaginable,” much less plan ahead adequately Read more
Three and a half months from now, the world’s newest nation will be born: the Republic of Southern Sudan. Heady times for a people who have fought for fifty years for freedom, and won the right to vote in what was a peaceful independence referendum in January. But this road to freedom is filled with danger points, none more so than Abyei, the hotly disputed Connecticut-sized territory wedged within the border between North and South.
Peace processes are full of moments, of choices, with implications that affect hundreds of thousands of lives Read more
By Brian Evans, Campaigner for Amnesty International USA’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign.
Click image to open interactive map.
First, the good news. In 1961, the year Amnesty International was founded, only 9 countries had completely abolished the death penalty (10 if you count West Germany). By 1977, the year Amnesty International simultaneously won the Nobel Peace Prize and took up death penalty abolition as a priority human rights cause, there were still only 16 such countries (plus West Germany).
Since then, there has been a sea change. As documented in Amnesty International’s new report on Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, 96 countries have fully abolished capital punishment, while only 58 actively retain it (and only 23 carried out executions in 2010) Read more
In the last 4 decades, it had been common knowledge that the Alawi community numbering about 15% of the population was the dominant power in Syria, due to its over-representation in the armed forces and the Ba’ath Party. This was the result of developments starting with the French Mandatory regime in Syria, which favored the non-Sunni minorities, and encouraged their enlistment to the armed forces. Many among the minorities, particularly Alawis, took advantage of this opportunity, and used military service as a vehicle through which they climbed up the social ladder.
The Ba’ath Party was another such vehicle, as it offered members of the minority communities — particularly Alawis, Druze and Greek Orthodox Christians — the opportunity to get away from the religious ghetto enforced upon them by the majority Sunni-Arab population of Syria Read more
It is difficult to be an American Jewish organization advocating support for Israel today. On the one hand, there is the staunch belief that Israel must be defended at all costs, and that any division will expose a weakness in the united Jewish front. On the other, American Jews traditionally advocate progressive policies in domestic and global affairs, which seemingly contradict their hard-line stances in support of an Israeli government that is apt to reject such liberalism. At a time when Israel is led by a government that is steering it toward unending conflict, and whose actions are threatening Israel’s Jewish and democratic nature, much of the American Jewish community today is merely echoing the Netanyahu government’s talking points Read more
When the process of political change began in the Middle East and North Africa in January 2011, there was much hope among its people and concern among its governments about the manner in which this change would evolve. For most of its people, there was tremendous hope that the decades of enduring repression under authoritarian governments would soon come to an end. For many of its governments, there was hope that the introduction of incremental reform would placate public sentiment and enable continuation of the status quo. It appears that the aspirations of neither are coming true.
While citizens in Egypt and Tunisia had initial cause for celebration when Presidents Ben Ali and Mubarak were forced to abdicate their presidencies, it quickly became clear that their jubilation was premature Read more
People around the world have marveled at the lack of mass-looting in Japan among the survivors of the recent earthquake and tsunami. Many people are still asking: Why was there no mass-looting?
People are undoubtedly comparing the incident in Japan with other natural disasters in the world when people under similar circumstances did loot. And they didn’t just loot food or necessities, but big screen TVs and other “must have” household appliances.
Some plausible reasons for looting are: panic, greed, and because everyone else is doing it Read more
Oil, of course, remains a key element in the fight for control of Libya. Via pipeline and tanker distribution, Libya’s oil resources supply a substantial part of the consumption in the United States and the European Union and are the major source of financial support for the Gadhafi regime. This primary aspect of the present and future national economy is vulnerable to the ongoing military battle for political control, war damage to lines, pumps, and port facilities, economic sanctions and naval blockades, and even vindictive sabotage by whoever plays the losing hand and wishes to leave behind a nation without any financial viability.
But what about water? One of the less well known projects undertaken by Gadhafi is “The Great Man-Made River Scheme,” a huge technological plan to shift fresh water from ancient underground aquifers in the Hamada, Murzuq, and Kufra basins in the Sahara Desert to irrigate new remote agricultural harvest and provide ample supply to Tripoli, Benghazi, and the concentrated population along the Mediterranean coast Read more
On March 15th I wrote about my decision to leave Tokyo. One of my main concerns at the time was that decision-making pertaining to the six overheating nuclear reactors at the Daiichi Fukushima nuclear facility would be too slow. Given that decision-making in Japan is nearly always done by consensus, the time that would be required to form a consensus among various decision-makers would undoubtedly be too long to control the problems resulting from the earthquake and tsunamiu quickly. Time is not a luxury in any crisis, let alone one with the potential for radiation release Read more
I was in London this week, where the news was filled with images of Finance Minister George Osborne pausing outside 11 Downing Street with a replica of the red “budget box” that has been used to carry budget papers for the last 150 years. Inside the box: a new budget calling for the slashing of government programs and an embrace of massive debt reduction — even while the British economy continues to sputter. The next morning, in an editorial meeting at the Guardian, I listened as story angles were discussed: economic growth is slower than expected; unemployment remains higher than expected; the deficit will be higher than expected.
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There are times when major events loom on the horizon and we can see trouble from afar. And then there are those times when disaster strikes suddenly, causing shock, fear and sadness around the world. Unfortunately, the past few days have seen such sudden tragedies; in Japan, in Israel and across the world.
The population in Israel is, very sadly, used to tragedy. Unfortunately, difficult and trying events seem to occur with depressing frequency Read more
The coalition participating in imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, as well as the one that may get involved in Yemen, seems to have neither a clear exit strategy in the event of a protracted confrontation, nor an exit strategy to incite the leaders entrenched in their seat of power and refusing to step down. The absence of such a strategy will most likely lead to further bloodshed and devastation in the countries the coalition says it seeks to save from tyrannical rule, in support of democracy and reform. What is also lacking here is the rather crucial popular awareness of the costs of what may come after victory, so as for the shock of bitter reality not to tear apart the fabric of the new assembly emerging from the bliss of liberation.
Some world leaders seem all too ready to ride the wave of Arab uprisings, presenting themselves as their champions Read more
Any country’s security force system is made up of various apparatuses that are unified at the top. Police, anti-riot forces together with intelligence units are networked together to enforce a country’s overall security strategy. Uniformed and civilian dressed professionals are used as are various forms of hand equipment, sophisticated technologies, ground vehicles and air bound helicopters.
Regulating and containing large numbers of demonstrators can be quite a challenge to any security force. But no matter what the difficulties are, a national security system must at all times stay neutral and communicate truthfully to their own public.
For some time, the Jordanian security forces seemed to operate professionally with local demonstrations and protests, with a few exceptions Read more
The French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy and Bernard Kouchner, founder of Doctors Without Borders and until last year President Sarkozy’s foreign minister, have long been champions of “the right to protect” — that is, the right of the international community to intervene if a sovereign is committing crimes against his own people.
It is thus no surprise that BHL (as he is known in France) was involved behind the scenes
in moving President Sarkozy to take the lead in Libya. Here is my conversation with him about the lead up to the strikes against Qaddafi’s forces, the aims of the military campaign and the nature of the Libyan rebels France has recognized:
NATHAN GARDELS: It’s been said that you have played the key role in convincing Sarkozy to enter into this war.
BERNARD-HENRI LEVY: The key role, I don’t know. President Sarkozy is certainly old enough to know what he has to do Read more
President Obama’s whirlwind tour of Latin America this week delivered some good news and bad news for Latin American watchers. First comes the bad the news, which I don’t think was all that bad in light of the milestone trip. The visit, rightfully positioned as a trade mission to help create American jobs given the anemic state of the U.S. economy, was cut short and proved uninteresting to American media Read more
George Orwell, writing in 1949 about the province of Oceania, referring to the USSR with its notorious Tass news agency, seems to be relevant again, in Syria of all places. By all accounts, the town of Daraa where the current wave of unrest started, continues to be the arena of unmitigated atrocities committed by the troops of Maher Assad, president Bashar Assad’s younger brother. Bodies of peaceful demonstrators are up in the streets, but SANA, the Syrian Tass, tells us a different story altogether.
According to them, thousands of genuine admirers of president Bashar Assad assembled yesterday in the main plaza of the town and spontaneously sang collectively the praises of their beloved president Read more
What if the news this morning read:
“Supported by air power and several armored tank divisions, Muammar Gaddafi’s soldiers this morning moved into Benghazi. Snipers fired upon the rebels from buildings around the central square. Opposition forces were rounded up and executed. Those not executed were moved to internment camps outside the city Read more