Archive for November, 2014

TFF PressInfo 289: Why Russia is growing tough • Berlin Wall Down 25 Years #1

By Jonathan Power

President Vladimir Putin is often painted as an ogre in the world’s media. The seemingly eternal president of Russia has an iron grip on his nation and a foreign policy to match. Yet a large majority of Russians give him their support.

Is it his early economic success? Or is it because of a new stability? Or the nation’s growing self-respect after the ignominious years that followed the demise of the Soviet Union? Or is it a sense of besieged defensiveness because of the advantage the West undoubtedly took of Russia after that demise.

The answer is a bit of all these.

Few in the outside world seem to talk much about what happened after President Boris Yeltsin pushed aside Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union. Few recall the political and economic upheavals of that time and why the stability of Putin’s governance is welcomed by people at large. Perhaps it is because this was a quarter of a century ago and people now ruling the West, and the journalists who report on them, were only teenagers or in their twenties at the time – and suffer from that common Western political disease of lack of perspective and little knowledge of history.

Immediately after Gorbachev’s fall two things happened. Read the rest of this entry »

The US and torture

By Jonathan Power

October 28th 2014

A soon-to-be released report of the US Senate criticizes the CIA under President George W. Bush of conducting torture of Al Qaeda suspects. However, it doesn’t assess the responsibility of Bush himself nor his vice president, Dick Cheney.

According to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairwoman, Dianne Feinstein, the 6,000 page report is “one of the most significant oversight efforts in the history of the US.”

The report shows that the CIA did not provide accurate information to Congress and also provided misleading information. The report also concludes that the CIA impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making. While the report was being prepared the CIA penetrated the Senate Committee’s computers, arousing the fury of its members.

Bush and Cheney were deeply involved in initiating the torture program. Read the rest of this entry »

The Sunni-Shia conflict: Any solution?

By Johan Galtung
Kuala Lumpur

Johan Galtung

Islam, Christianity and Buddhism are religious cultural powers, deep, defining the ends and means of human lives. All three promise life after death – eternal salvation in paradise, eternal dissolution in nirvana – if rules are observed. Unlike Judaism and Hinduism, all three are universal, for all humans at all times. So, they caught on across faultlines, way beyond Arabia, Palestine, Nepal-India into other, even enemy, economic-political-military realities.

Arabia was Muslim; Islam expanded from Iberia to Delhi by 1192. Palestine became Muslim-Jewish; Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire in 313; from 395 divided into Orthodox East and Catholic West, from around 1500 divided into Catholic South and Protestant North. Casteless Buddhism was evicted from Hindu Nepal-India to neighbors; a thousand years later it is rooted all over East Asia.

Three religions became three civilizations of three vast regions. Three successes? Yes, but at a price. The price was schisms inside all three, faultlines with hatred, violence, wars. What went wrong? Read the rest of this entry »


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