Tag Archives: International Relations

When violence undermines legitimacy

What is the best way to achieve legitimate political goals that correspond at once to clear national interests, a domestic consensus and international legitimacy?

Several different events in recent days across the Middle East and North Africa provide us with a fascinating menu of options to choose from. They suggest different levels of efficacy and legitimacy that any country or group of militants must assess in choosing their preferred means of action in the struggles they wage. The very different situations that occurred in the past few days include the following:

In Libya and Yemen, American missile strikes from drones reportedly killed two important Salafist-takfiri militants – Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian who had waged war and terror across several states in North Africa, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, a Yemeni whose years close to Osama bin Laden led him to the position of head of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

via When violence undermines legitimacy —

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Posted by on June 17, 2015 in Africa, Middle East



Washington’s Great Game and Why It’s Failing

For even the greatest of empires, geography is often destiny. You wouldn’t know it in Washington, though. America’s political, national security, and foreign policy elites continue to ignore the basics of geopolitics that have shaped the fate of world empires for the past 500 years. Consequently, they have missed the significance of the rapid global changes in Eurasia that are in the process of undermining the grand strategy for world dominion that Washington has pursued these past seven decades. A glance at what passes for insider “wisdom” in Washington these days reveals a worldview of stunning insularity. Take Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye, Jr., known for his concept of “soft power,” as an example. Offering a simple list of ways in which he believes U.S. military, economic, and cultural power remains singular and superior, he recently argued that there was no force, internal or global, capable of eclipsing America’s future as the world’s premier power. For those pointing to Beijing’s surging economy and proclaiming this “the Chinese century,” Nye offered up a roster of negatives: China’s per capita income “will take decades to catch up (if ever)” with America’s; it has myopically “focused its policies primarily on its region”; and it has “not developed any significant capabilities for global force projection.” Above all, Nye claimed, China suffers “geopolitical disadvantages in the internal Asian balance of power, compared to America.”

via Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Washington’s Great Game and Why It’s Failing | TomDispatch.

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Posted by on June 8, 2015 in Asia, North America, Reportages


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U.S. wakes up to New (Silk) World Order

The real Masters of the Universe in the U.S. are no weathermen, but arguably they’re starting to feel which way the wind is blowing.

History may signal it all started with this week’s trip to Sochi, led by their paperboy, Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with Foreign Minister Lavrov and then with President Putin.

Arguably, a visual reminder clicked the bells for the real Masters of the Universe; the PLA marching in Red Square on Victory Day side by side with the Russian military. Even under the Stalin-Mao alliance Chinese troops did not march in Red Square.

As a screamer, that rivals the Russian S-500 missile systems. Adults in the Beltway may have done the math and concluded Moscow and Beijing may be on the verge of signing secret military protocols as in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. The new game of musical chairs is surely bound to leave Eurasian-obsessed Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski apoplectic.

via U.S. wakes up to New (Silk) World Order —

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Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Asia, North America


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Geopolitics is a Fluid Game: Negotiations and Their Enemies

Perhaps the correct title should be “negotiators and their enemies.” These days, negotiations are very much in the news. The United States is negotiating with Cuba, with Iran and, most recently it seems, with Venezuela. The government of Colombia is negotiating with a long-time anti-government movement, the FARC.

Then, there are the pre-negotiations that may not get to the stage of negotiation: Russia and the European Union (and within that, the Kiev government of Ukraine and the “autonomist” governments in Donetsk and Lutsk; China and the United States; the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban.

And finally, in the spirit of Sherlock Holmes’s mystery about “the dog that didn’t bark,” there are the negotiations that are NOT taking place: Israel and the Palestinians; Iran and Saudi Arabia; China and Japan.

via Geopolitics is a Fluid Game: Negotiations and Their Enemies —

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Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Reportages



Which way out of this mess?

More than four years after the Arab uprisings, and worldwide protests against growing inequality, from the Indignados to Occupy Wall Street, the lack of immediate results and loss of clear points of reference have blunted enthusiasm for transforming society, and the world. There’s a mood of disillusionment: “Was it all just for this?” Old political parties are breaking up or rebranding themselves; bizarre alliances are being formed, upsetting familiar political categories. Russia condemns “fascists in Kiev” but welcomes a conference of the European far right in St Petersburg; France flips between highfalutin sentiments about democracy, secularism and support for the Saudi monarchy; the far-right Front National (FN) claims delight at the election victory of the radical, internationalist left in Greece.

via Which way out of this mess? —

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Posted by on May 11, 2015 in European Union, Reportages


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The New World Disorder

Three decades ago, with the end of the Cold War and the dismantling of the South American dictatorships, many hoped that the much talked about ‘peace dividend’ promised by Bush senior and Thatcher would actually materialise. No such luck. Instead, we have experienced continuous wars, upheavals, intolerance and fundamentalisms of every sort – religious, ethnic and imperial. The exposure of the Western world’s surveillance networks has heightened the feeling that democratic institutions aren’t functioning as they should, that, like it or not, we are living in the twilight period of democracy itself.

The twilight began in the early 1990s with the implosion of the former Soviet Union and the takeover of Russia, Central Asia and much of Eastern Europe by visionless former Communist Party bureaucrats, many of whom rapidly became billionaires. The oligarchs who bought up some of the most expensive property in the world, including in London, may once have been members of the Communist Party, but they were also opportunists with no commitment to anything other than power and lining their own pockets. The vacuum created by the collapse of the party system has been filled by different things in different parts of the world, among them religion – and not just Islam. The statistics on the growth of religion in the Western world are dramatic – just look at France. And we have also seen the rise of a global empire of unprecedented power. The United States is now unchallengeable militarily and it dominates global politics, even the politics of the countries it treats as its enemies.

via The New World Disorder —

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Posted by on April 22, 2015 in Uncategorized



In a frustrated world, the omens for global stability are bleak

Follow the news cycle and you get the sense that the world has become Darwinian, an environment where only the fittest, the best able to adapt, will survive or see their interests prevail. Globalisation and digitalisation are not just transforming societies and economies but international relations. As the rules of the post-1945 global order become more fragile, our epoch has come to resemble a vast free-for-all. Power is being redefined, but what drives so much of the tension? Here’s one thought: frustration.

Frustration happens when reality fails to match expectations. Frustration in turn fosters apathy and disillusionment, or, depending on the circumstances, aggression. Coming to terms with realities and adapting goals to them will be a key challenge for a stable international order in the 21st century. The omens aren’t so good.

via In a frustrated world, the omens for global stability are bleak | Natalie Nougayrède —

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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Asia, European Union, North America



What the BRICS plus Germany are really up to?

Winston Churchill once said, “I feel lonely without a war.” He also badly missed the loss of empire. Churchill’s successor – the ‘Empire of Chaos’ – now faces the same quandary. Some wars – as in Ukraine, by proxy – are not going so well.And the loss of empire increasingly manifests itself in myriad moves by selected players aiming towards a multipolar world.So no wonder US ‘Think Tankland’ is going bonkers, releasing wacky CIA-tinted “forecasts” where Russia is bound to disintegrate, and China is turning into a communist dictatorship. So much (imperial) wishful thinking, so little time to prolong hegemony.

via What the BRICS plus Germany are really up to? — RT Op-Edge.


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Talking to Isis could lead to peace, yet for some reason we’re not allowed to do it

An important academic investigation to be published in a few days prompts me to ask important questions. Could we save the lives of our people in Isis hands if we talked to the “Islamic State” it claims to represent? Jordan publicly declared its willingness – tragically in vain – to do a hostage swap with Isis. And didn’t the Americans exchange a US serviceman for Taliban prisoners? More to the point, won’t talking to the bad guys be more effective in bringing peace than refusing to communicate until they’re disarmed or destroyed?

via Talking to Isis could lead to peace, yet for some reason we’re not allowed to do it —

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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Middle East, Reportages


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Our Multipolar World: It is Painful to Live Amidst Chaos

The world-system is in serious trouble and it is causing pain to the vast majority of the world’s population. Pundits and politicians grasp at straws. They magnify every momentary, and usually transitory, occurrence of slight improvements in the various measures we are accustomed to using.

In the last month or so, we were suddenly being told as the calendar year ended that the market looked much better in the United States, even if it looked worse in Europe, Russia, China, Brazil and many other places. But as the New Year began, there was a serious decline in both stocks and bond prices in the United States. It was a quick and sharp turnaround. Of course, the pundits immediately had explanations, but they offered a wide gamut of explanations.

via ZCommunications » Our Multipolar World: It is Painful to Live Amidst Chaos —

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Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Reportages