Archive for December, 2011
By Biljana Vankovska
There is something very bizarre and alike in the selection of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners and the Time’s person of the year. Coincidence (or rather not), the three Nobel laureates (two of them from Liberia and one from Yemen) and the Protester are all female and pictured as “ordinary” activists, i.e. actresses in the developments that marked 2011. Read the rest of this entry »
By Biljana Vankovska
In the eve of the holiday season last year I had decided to devote my column to a nonconventional theme. Instead of a usual text for this time of a year I wrote about happiness, the one that is not a gift of/by the state/politics but the one that is achieved in spite of it. My readers graded it quite poorly. Aware that the same may happen again I have decided to dedicate this last column in 2011 to a similar issue. This time it is a short and unexpected tractate in defence of love. Read the rest of this entry »
By Shastri Ramachandaran
Deputy Chief of the People’s Liberation Army Ma Xiaotian’s visit to New Delhi for Sino-Indian defence dialogues today is an affirmation that neither country will allow periodic irritants to derail bilateral talks.
Ma’s visit shows a resolve on the part of the two countries to ensure that differences do not become an obstacle to keep up communication by sticking to scheduled exchanges. There is a realization in both capitals that any rift between the two neighbors would be exploited by powerful forces which are unhappy with the growing cooperation and trade links between the Asian giants. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
The pundits and diplomats are right: transition after the death of Kim Jong-il in North Korea could well produce an unstable and frightening situation. Kim Jong-un, the son of the dear leader, is too young to dominate the military and chief advisors as his father and grandfather did. There will be power struggles. Anything can happen depending on who gets the upper hand. This nuclear weapon-armed power is worrying to behold.
But on everything else the comments of outsiders have been way off the mark. Do they forget so easily America’s stance in the long negotiations with the North- negotiations that began during the presidency of Bill Clinton, arguably his one foreign policy near success? Read the rest of this entry »
By Johan Galtung
Alfàs del Pi, Spain
The church was not as overfilled as it used to be for midnight mass on Christmas eve. But the ritual unfolded as it has done for centuries, around John 3:16 “little bible”, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. And the priest spoke about two parallel Christmases, one spiritual, of the bible, and one material with gifts, food, and licores.
Could there also be two parallel Jesuses, one the Christ, and the other a revolutionary, fighting the Roman Empire and its client elite in the province conquered in 63bC? Matthias Schulz (Der Spiegel 17 2011) has theologians and historians elaborate that thesis, leaning toward the revolutionary Jesus, disturbingly similar to his look-alike and act-alike Che Guevara two millennia later, also fighting an empire, also killed by imperial clients. Read the rest of this entry »
By Richard Falk
‘Shame’ is a disturbing, much admired, Steve McQueen film that has been misleadingly reviewed, but deserves our serious attention. Let me put my reasoning in provocative language: ‘Shame’ depicts with chilling realism the degeneracy of high-end capitalist life style in the urban landscape of Sodom on the Hudson, otherwise known as ‘The Big Apple,’ that is, New York City. This sterile glitter of clubs and bars, loveless sexuality, acute alienation, and shady business operations is a city within the city that somehow co-exists with the world’s most innovative, abundant, and world class cultural life that continues to contain in its midst many enclaves of normalcy, humanism, and personal fulfillment. There is a central confusion in the film, perhaps deliberate: the city is portrayed as if it can be reduced to this skyscraper reality of nefarious business ventures and the flashy life it offers its operatives. Read the rest of this entry »
By Stephen Zunes
An ad on my Facebook page from barackobama.com reads, “Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich say they would start foreign aid to Israel at zero. Reject their extreme plan now!”
This struck me as odd for two reasons:
First, it is disingenuous and misleading. The actual position taken by these Republican presidential candidates is that all foreign aid should initially start at zero as means of reducing the deficit, to be immediately followed by the resumption of aid on a case-by-case basis. As they themselves have acknowledged, they would immediately resume aid to Israel and perhaps even increase it. Ironically, U.S. “aid for Israel” goes almost exclusively to U.S. arms manufacturers, with which the Republican candidates have a close relationship. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jonathan Power
At this time of Christmas and thoughts of peace on earth we should reflect that the world over most of public opinion is ignorant of just how much violence has declined over the last 3,000 years. Judging by the historical record the 21st century, thus far, is the least violent and safest century of all despite Iran, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan, with less people being killed in war than ever before and despite the preceding century being the greatest killing field of them all. (Only the 17th century with its European Wars of Religion was equally bad.) Read the rest of this entry »
By Shastri Ramachandaran*
NEW DELHI (IDN) – The Government of India appears to be in right earnest about taking the lead in pursuing universal disarmament. The renewed vigour – for reviving the climate and conditions wherein the basic ideas and objectives of nuclear disarmament can be advanced – is evident in a series of engagements being lined up to carry forward former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Action Plan (RGAP) for a nuclear-weapons-free world order. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jan Oberg
Most media focus on the nervous reactions, that this event may trigger instability and perhaps foreign-directed “provocations” as ambassador Donald Gregg is saying here. Well, it’s hard to know.
But while there could be a kind of successor problem or even a military takeover, one could also see Kim Jong-il’s death as an opportunity for improving relations both regonally and with the West. Read the rest of this entry »