International Press Syndicate

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Photo: NATO Summit in Washington 1999. | Credit: GMF

Viewpoint by Karen Donfried *

WASHINGTON (IDN | GMF) - The implications of the Brexit vote are stark, not only for the United Kingdom and for the European Union, but also for the United States. Since the end of World War II, successive U.S. administrations have strongly supported the project of European economic and political integration – initially, to ensure peace among the continent’s great powers; more recently, to enlarge the area of democratic stability and economic prosperity across the continent. 

For seven decades, the U.S. security umbrella, represented by the NATO Alliance, helped defend our European allies and gave them the opportunity to concentrate on building the European Community and later the European Union (EU). With the U.K. poised to leave the EU, leadership from the United States is needed to keep the U.K. and its continental partners working closely together in NATO and beyond in the aftermath of last week’s referendum.

Photo: President of the European Council, Donald Tusk and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Credit: NATO

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - NATO has just announced a plan to send troops to the Alliance’s eastern flank, close to the Russian border. NATO says it is attempting to deter potential Russian aggression.

The UK, the U.S., Canada and Germany will lead four battle groups to be based in Poland and the Baltic states. Diplomats say the troops will be a deterrent to Russian aggression by acting as a “tripwire” that would trigger a full response from the alliance if necessary

On June 26, 2016 the foreign minister of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, condemned Western “sabre-rattling and war cries”. He said, “Anyone who believes the symbolic tank parades on the Alliance’s eastern border will increase security is wrong”.

Photo: Roberto Savio. Credit: Christine Sunbean.

Viewpoint by Roberto Savio*

ROME (IDN | OtherNews) – Polling specialists say that when voters do not feel comfortable in saying how they will really vote, it is because they are not comfortable at a rational level with how they will actually vote. In other words, voters act because of their guts, not because of their brains.

This is what happened when the exit polls after the June 23 British referendum on whether to remain part of or leave the European Union showed the 'remain' vote in a slight lead, only to be proved wrong overnight. 

The Brexit referendum was really based on gut feelings. It was a campaign of fear. The 'leave' campaign was about a massive invasion of Great Britain by Turks because of the possible admission of Turkey to the EU (totally false) and that Great Britain was paying the EU 50 millions pounds a day (again false).

Photo: The parliament buildings in Astana, Kazakhstan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Erlan Idrissov | Reproduced courtesy of The Hill

The author is Foreign Minister Kazakhstan. This article originally appeared with the headline High time for Central Asia and Kazakhstan to have a voice in UN Security Council.

ASTANA - No organisation has a greater global responsibility than the United Nations Security Council. The Council has the solemn task of maintaining international peace with the power to intervene if threats put it or the safety of civilian populations at risk. Its effectiveness has a huge impact on our world and the lives of millions of people.

The Council’s authority stems from the UN Charter and the support of the international community. But it is strengthened when its membership is as representative as possible. Its decisions, too, benefit when drawing on differing global perspectives. It is why from the beginning, the Council’s membership included not just the great powers but a rotating group of countries elected on a regional basis.

Photo: Will Dag Hammarskjöld serve as a model for the new UN Secretary-General? Credit: UN/DPI derivative work - 1959. Wikimedia Commons.

Analysis by Franz Baumann *

NEW YORK - Three months before his tragic death, Dag Hammarskjöld gave a powerful lecture in Oxford, entitled The International Civil Servant in Law and in Fact. He positioned the Secretary-General’s role and that of the Secretariat in the architecture of the United Nations.

Hammarskjöld implicitly built on the conclusions formulated by the great U.S. political scientist Inis L. Claude in his classic 1956 study Swords Into Plowshares: The Problems and Progress of International Organization, namely that there are two United Nations: firstly the arena of member states, secondly the Secretariat.

Since it cannot be assumed that the results arrived at in the arena of sovereign states are perforce optimal from a world-wide perspective, the Secretary-General, supported by an independent, effective and loyal Secretariat, has special responsibilities as the guardian of the global interest. And since today’s challenges do not stop at national borders, an effective global institution is ever more crucial.

Photo: Coalition airstrike on ISIL position in Kobani, October 2014. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - Within a matter of days a self-appointed Isis “lone wolf”, Omar Mateen, with no actual links to home office Isis has created mayhem in Orlando, Florida, with his killing of 49 people in a gay club, and the Iraq army has pushed Isis troops out of most of the important city of Fallujah.

Maybe it is an exaggeration to say that Isis is on the run in its bailiwicks of Iraq and Syria but it is certainly taking very bad hits. Two years after sweeping through northern Iraq and capturing the oil city of Mosul in 2014 they are now on the defensive.

Isis has lost nearly half of the Iraqi territory it held. (i.e. an area about half that of the UK). It has lost much of its oil infrastructure. It is taking lots of casualties. In Syria it is fighting on two contradictory fronts – the regime in Damascus, supported by Iran and Russia and against the non-Islamist rebels, supported by the U.S. and the Arab states. 

Photo: 2016 Elections in Argentina Credit: posadiststoday

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - Is there a democratic recession? No, not an economic one. Rather one of the voting kind. In other words: Is democracy going backwards? It is not. Democracy remains resilient. Authoritarianism is being held at bay, despite recession in Russia, Turkey and China.

“Democracy may be receding somewhat in practice, but it is still globally ascendant in people’s values and aspirations,” writes Larry Diamond in a new book, “Democracy in Decline”. In fact, Diamond’s positive conclusion is less positive than I believe the facts say. By and large democracy is not receding.

Photo courtesy: UNFPA

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - Over 200 years we have watched with a mixture of fascination and horror the explosion of population in most parts of the world. In the 1960s and 70’s many people were convinced that it was the single most important issue of our times.

Government aid agencies, especially in the Western world, gave overriding priority to distributing condoms wherever and whenever they had the chance.  Some people like the bishops of the Catholic Church and the mullahs of Iran got very hot under the collar. Indeed, these two groups would unite together to vote the “no” in UN population conferences.

In the Third World militants argued that this was one more perfidy carried out by the West – to rid the world of dark skinned people.

Photo: China has released a road map on genetically modified organisms and crops, giving priority to the development of non-edible cash crops. Source: GRAIN

Viewpoint by GRAIN

BARCELONA (IDN-INPS) - Ever since the ink dried on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), people have become aware of another mega-trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors in the Asia-Pacific region. Like the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) threatens to increase corporate power in member countries, leaving ordinary people with little recourse to assert their rights to things like land, safe food, life-saving medicines and seeds.

RCEP is being negotiated between the ten countries that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their six biggest trading partners in the region: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

According to the latest leaked draft of the RCEP agreement, dated October 15, 2015 and published by Knowledge Ecology International, the negotiating countries fall into two camps when it comes to legal rights over biodiversity and traditional knowledge useful for food production and medicine.

Photo: ‘Coalition’ airstrike on ISIL position in Turkey/ Kobane, Syrian border on 22 October 2014. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - “ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States,” President Barack Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg of Atlantic magazine recently.

What becomes clear in this long article, much of it Obama’s own words, is that Obama shies away from the idea that war can make bad things good. The unquenchable wars that he inherited – Iraq and Afghanistan – were set alight by his predecessor, George W. Bush, and no amount of Obama fire engines have been able to douse them with enough water to put them out.

As for the rest of the waterfront of foreign affairs, he argues that after a period of uncertainty he decided that the U.S. should not militarily involve itself in the civil war in Syria. He decided that Ukraine is not a core American interest, although it is a Russian one, and he was convinced that Iran would agree through peaceful negotiation to renounce the dangerous parts of its nuclear program.

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