China’s cardinal foreign policy imperative is to refrain from interfering abroad while advancing the proverbial good relations with key political actors – even when they may be at each other’s throats.Still, it’s nothing but gut-wrenching for Beijing to watch the current, unpredictable, Saudi-Qatari standoff. There’s no endgame in sight, as plausible scenarios include even regime change and a seismic geopolitical shift in Southwest Asia – what a Western-centric view calls the Middle East.And blood on the tracks in Southwest Asia cannot but translate into major trouble ahead for the New Silk Roads, now rebranded Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Category Archives: North America
DURING THE PRESIDENTIAL campaign, some imagined that the more overtly racist elements of Donald Trump’s platform were just talk designed to rile up the base, not anything he seriously intended to act on. But in his first week in office, when he imposed a travel ban on seven majority-Muslim countries, that comforting illusion disappeared fast. Fortunately, the response was immediate: the marches and rallies at airports, the impromptu taxi strikes, the lawyers and local politicians intervening, the judges ruling the bans illegal.
The whole episode showed the power of resistance, and of judicial courage, and there was much to celebrate. Some have even concluded that this early slap down chastened Trump, and that he is now committed to a more reasonable, conventional course.
What on earth made President Donald Trump identify Qatar – with its longstanding relationship with the US and host to 10,000 American military personnel on the biggest airbase in the Middle East – as a “funder of terrorism”? Did someone misinform him of Qatar’s role in the region? Or was Mr Trump embittered because, as Qatari businessmen are asking themselves, a real estate deal between the future US president and Qatar’s rulers fell through in 2010?
Clayton Swisher, the investigative journalist who broke the Palestine Papers story in 2011 – detailing secret talks between the Israelis, the Palestine Authority and the Bush-era US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice – says that Mr Trump and his daughter Ivanka came to Qatar seven years ago. There, he says, they approached two senior Qatari officials for investment help. One was Hussein Al-Abdullah, executive board member of the Qatar Investment Authority. The other was Sheikh Hamid bin Jassem al-Thani, a member of the royal family who was then prime minister.
Now that it seems virtually certain that Donald Trump will withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord, and the climate movement is quite rightly mobilizing in the face of this latest dystopian lurch, it’s time to get real about something: Pretty much everything that is weak, disappointing, and inadequate about that deal is the result of U.S. lobbying since 2009.
The fact that the agreement only commits governments to keeping warming below an increase of 2 degrees, rather than a much safer firm target of 1.5 degrees, was lobbied for and won by the United States.
The fact that the agreement left it to individual nations to determine how much they were willing to do to reach that temperature target, allowing them to come to Paris with commitments that collectively put us on a disastrous course toward more than 3 degrees of warming, was lobbied for and won by the United States.
The post-1945 order constructed by the US in Europe and East Asia has been fraying at the edges for some time now. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement has only hastened its unraveling.
For the first time since the early years of General Charles de Gaulle’s presidency in France, a major Western leader – German Chancellor Angela Merkel – has stated openly that Europe can no longer rely on US leadership. This might seem ironic, coming from a German and a confirmed Atlanticist, but it is actually fitting, because Germany, in its transformation from a murderous dictatorship into a peaceful liberal democracy, needed the US more than any country.
“FREE SPEECH OR DIE, PORTLAND. You’ve got no safe place.”
On May 26, 2017, white supremacist Jeremy Christian allegedly murdered two men and maimed another as they attempted to defend two women he took to be Muslim from his abuse on Portland public transit. Days later, appearing in court, Christian roared out the same refrain that conservatives and far-right agitators alike have been repeating online for years: Racist violence is free speech. “Get out if you don’t like free speech,” he howled. “You call it terrorism, I call it patriotism. You hear me? Die.”
Until the very end, they tried behind closed doors to get him to change his mind. For the umpteenth time, they presented all the arguments — the humanitarian ones, the geopolitical ones and, of course, the economic ones. They listed the advantages for the economy and for American companies. They explained how limited the hardships would be.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the last one to speak, according to the secret minutes taken last Friday afternoon in the luxurious conference hotel in the Sicilian town of Taormina — meeting notes that DER SPIEGEL has been given access to. Leaders of the world’s seven most powerful economies were gathered around the table and the issues under discussion were the global economy and sustainable development.
The newly elected French president, Emmanuel Macron, went first. It makes sense that the Frenchman would defend the international treaty that bears the name of France’s capital: The Paris Agreement. “Climate change is real and it affects the poorest countries,” Macron said.
President Trump’s much-anticipated decision to exit the Paris Agreement on climate change strikes another blow against the current multilateral international order by his administration and reinforces its America First stance toward the world.Trump declared his administration’s intent to stop honoring and cease all implementation of the nonbinding parts of the Paris Agreement. This includes the goals and actions to reduce emissions outlined in the U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) as well as any further contributions to the Green Climate Fund, which provides money to poor countries to lower emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change.
Could you be a member of a political conspiracy without even knowing it? I’ve found out in recent months that I’m a member of the “alt-left”. Commentators like Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott try to break down the movement’s main currents: a handful of randos on Twitter, Glenn Greenwald, Susan Sarandon, Tulsi Gabbard and Cornel West.Not bad company, if I do say so myself. For Wolcott, what we all share is a soft spot for Russia, a kind of “Trumpian” rhetoric that attacks cultural liberalism and a shocking opposition to the “CIA/FBI/NSA alphabet-soup national-security matrix” he so trusts.