International Press Syndicate

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Photo: Secretary of State John Kerry laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum on April 11, 2016. Credit: U.S. State Department

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - We were standing in Hiroshima looking at a stone wall. All there was to see was a shadow of a man. It had been etched into the wall at the moment of his obliteration by the blinding light of the first atomic bomb.

Olof Palme, prime minister of Sweden, stared hard at it. An hour later he gave a speech as head of the Independent Commission on Disarmament of which I was a member. “My fear”, he remarked, “is that mankind itself will end up as nothing more than a shadow on a wall.”

President Charles de Gaulle of France once observed, “After a nuclear war the two sides would have neither powers, nor laws, nor cities, nor cultures, nor cradles, nor tombs.”

Photo: Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, addressing the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, 25 September 2015. Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - A woman for the next secretary-general of the United Nations? Well, it’s a lot more complicated than that. There are other criteria in play – tthere is an unwritten rule that the regions of the world should take it in turns to occupy the UN’s top job. The east Europeans are saying it is their turn.

Ironically, since eastern Europe is now part of western Europe, the EU, the would-be candidates are in effect appealing to Russia to vote for them, since only as geographically part of the old Soviet alliance can they be regarded as an entity separate from western Europe.

How about a South Asian? Now that would make sense, since there has never been a secretary-general from there before and the subcontinent contains 1.7 billion people. However, no-one has put themselves forward.

Photo: U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion 7th Marines enter a palace during the Fall of Baghdad. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - President Barack Obama has observed, “ISIL [Islamic State] is a direct outgrowth of Al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion – which is an example of unintended consequences- which is why we should generally aim before we shoot”.

Many of us, looking at the horror of the Iraq war, waged by the U.S. and the UK against the regime of Saddam Hussein when 200,000 civilians died and a total of 800 billion U.S. dollars was spent on the campaign, need little to be persuaded that there was a Machiavellian plot to find an excuse to make war. Yet there are many in the circles of power in Washington who believe the U.S. should shoot on sight and to kill whenever danger is thought to have appeared- in Iraq, Syria, Libya and, before that, in Vietnam.

Photo: President Lula giving a speech to recipients of Bolsa Família and other federal assistance programs in Diadema in June 2005. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN | INPS) - If worst comes to worst and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is deposed and her widely beloved predecessor, Luiz “Lula” da Silva, is discredited they will long be remembered for the “Bolsa Familia”.

This is a government program that has cut Brazil’s once appalling poverty rate by half and reduced the number of poor very sharply to 3% of the population. It reaches 55 million people and 36 million have been lifted out of poverty. It has been such a winner that around sixty countries have sent their experts to study it.

Indeed, it has been so successful politically that we shouldn’t be surprised that if Rousseff is felled by the shenanigans of Congress masses will go out on the street and riot.

Photo: Dilma Rousseff with Lula during the 2010 presidential campaign. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (INPS) - The Brazilians have an elected president. They must keep her. If Dilma Rosseff is pushed to resign democracy has failed.

Two years ago she won re-election handsomely. That is the source of her mandate. From that she derives her legitimacy. The only thing that could topple her is if hard evidence emerges that she is crook- in her case supposedly stole millions of dollars from the Brazilian oil giant, Petrobras, of which she was once head of the board. Then Congress would be within its rights to discuss her impeachment.

But there is no evidence of her personal corruption – although there is evidence aplenty that her party, The Workers’ Party, has received a lot of black money, not just from Petrobras.

2014 Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to Korea Closing Mass for Asian Youth Day August 17, 2014 Haemi Castle, Seosan-si, Chungcheongnam-do | Credit: Korean Culture and Information Service

Analysis by Jonathan Power

With his focus on economic justice, Pope Francis is still riding a wave of adulation three years into his job. And perhaps it’s deserved, but as leader of the Jesuits and then as bishop and archbishop in Argentina, he failed to publicly denounce the abuses of the military junta. Jonathan Power compares the pope’s silence to the courage of Brazil’s church hierarchy, which stood up to dictatorship. Power urges the pope to explain exactly what went on and how the Argentine church erred. The pope’s admission, Powers argues, would inspire his followers to think more profoundly about moral dilemmas and, perhaps, even help them be braver in the face of evil.

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