No Aid, No Tax, No Development

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, IPS, August 5, 2015

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda is widely seen as a major disappointment for developing countries as well as others hoping for adequate means of implementation to realise national development ambitions and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It has become clear that the South, including the least developed countries, should not expect any serious progress to the almost half century old commitment to transfer 0.7 percent of developed countries’ economic output to developing countries. But to add insult to injury, developing countries cannot expect to participate meaningfully in inter-governmental discussions to enhance overall as well as national tax capacities.

While OECD countries agree that taxation is the only viable strategy for developing countries to exit foreign aid dependency in the long run, they have refused to accede to the latter’s desire for a full-fledged inter-governmental body for international tax cooperation under United Nations auspices.

Muslims Must Combat the Extremist Cancer

Denounce terrorism, defend human rights and promote education.

By Fethullah Gulen, The Wall Street Journal, August 27, 2015

As the group that calls itself Islamic State, known as ISIS, continues to produce carnage in the Middle East, Muslims must confront the totalitarian ideology that animates it and other terrorist groups. Every terrorist act carried out in the name of Islam profoundly affects all Muslims, alienating them from fellow citizens and deepening the misperceptions about their faith’s ethos.

It isn’t fair to blame Islam for the atrocities of violent radicals. But when terrorists claim the Muslim mantle, then they bear this identity, if only nominally. Thus members of the faith must do whatever possible to prevent this cancer from metastasizing in our communities. If we don’t, we’ll be partly responsible for the smeared image of our faith.

China’s WW2 Parade Guest List Has Meanings

By M K Bhadrakumar, August 26, 2015

The western countries have a misconception that if they do not grace an international event, it loses importance. It’s a hangover from the colonial era. But then, the vanity has limits, too – provided, there is serious money involved. How the western countries fell over each other to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank [AIIB] as ‘founding members’ is legion. They instinctively saw AIIB as a free ride on Chinese money and no amount of American persuasion could keep them away from the honey pot. Britain and Germany hold very little equity in the AIIB in comparison with India, but are keen on the commercial spin off from the investment projects.

Alas, there is no money in China’s celebrations over the 70th anniversary of World War II. And there is no David Cameron at the ceremony in Beijing on September 3. The western media insists it’s a ‘snub’. Whereas, China says it didn’t press the invite but left to the invitees to suit themselves. At any rate, why should any country ‘snub’ China for celebrating a magnificent victory over fascism? There wasn’t any Holocaust in the Asian theatre, but the marauding Japanese army was no less horrific in war crimes than Nazi Germany.

The Growth of Extremism and the Factor of “Intellectual Parity”

A Paper by Gagik Harutyunyan, Executive Director, Noravank Scientific Educational Foundation, submitted for the Rhodes Forum Scientific Marathon - 2015

The global security today depends to a large extent on the developments in Middle East in the context of the Islamic State’s (IS) actions. However, the IS is just the tip of the iceberg; the Middle Eastern processes are closely related to what happens in Central and Southeast Asia and continental “yellow, hot Africa.” In addition, escalation due to actions of extremist groups occurs not only in these regions. In terms of a number of indicators the same logic applies to the events in Ukraine. It is no coincidence that the “Right Sector” combatants call themselves “Christian Taliban”, let alone numerous instances of collaboration between Ukrainian and Islamic extremists from some regions of Russia and CIS. The potential of extremism accumulates also in EU countries, so far in somewhat latent form. After a long period of tranquility, racial-based clashes resurged in the USA. There is an impression that a wave of extremism is engulfing the entire global space and there is every reason to believe that this phenomenon is a key sociopolitical trend.

Some analysts correlate these developments with the painful emergence of multipolar world, which occurs in the mode of a “Cold War 2”. A re-division of spheres of influence is accompanied by geopolitical shifts. At the same time, connecting the developments to geopolitics only is somewhat problematic, too.

Read the Paper


Culture Wars in India (and Elsewhere)

By Come Carpentier de Gourdon, Convener of the Editorial Board of the World Affairs Journal

The many rifts in the contemporary world cannot but extend to the field of culture as they always have, in one way or another. Bismarck was perhaps the first to explicitly call Kulturkampf his policy to combat, in the name of what was technocratic and political modernity for the time, the feudal traditions  and confessional principles followed by Catholics and other conservative Germans but all powers have fought in the civilisational arena to propagate and impose their worldviews and ways of life on others through language, ideology, school curricula, modes of dressing, food et al. The British, among other colonizers, were no different in India and Macaulay epitomized their approach.

Islamic Leaders Issue Bold Call for Rapid Phase Out of Fossil Fuels

Religious scholars, experts and teachers from around the world unite to make emotive declaration on climate change ahead of crucial Paris summit

By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, August 18, 2015

Islamic leaders have issued a clarion call to 1.6bn Muslims around the world to work towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a 100% renewable energy strategy.

The grand mufti’s of Lebanon and Uganda endorsed the Islamic declaration on climate change, along with prominent Islamic scholars and teachers from 20 countries, at a symposium in Istanbul.

Their collective statement makes several detailed political demands likely to increase pressure on Gulf states ahead of the Paris climate summit in December.

Hollowing Out Humanity: Neo-Liberalism, Individualism and the Possibility of Happiness

A Paper by Dr Ian Forbes, FRSA, FAcSS, Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham, UK, submitted for the Rhodes Forum Scientific Marathon - 2015

Far from enhancing social and private life, the unleashing and promoting of individualism has serious implications for the possibility of experiencing happiness. Just as new perspectives about the nature of human happiness have emerged, providing robust and data-based accounts of the pre-conditions for happiness, so the possibilities for taking advantage of this knowledge are becoming severely constrained. What can be observed is a progressive hollowing out of the most vital human constructions. 

Individualism originally derived its strength from the proposition that there was such a thing as ‘an individual’, possessed of moral worth. While intuitively appealing at the level of human ego, this has been mutated into a simplistic account of a person as no more than a rationally calculating individual. This impoverished version of a socially-situated being has been elevated to an ideological prop for the implementation of neo-liberal approaches to politics and economics.

If Congress Rejects the Iran Deal, It Would Be a Historic Blunder

By Seyed Hossein Mousavian, The Huffington Post, August 21, 2015

The comprehensive nuclear agreement reached between Iran and six world powers represents a milestone achievement for the cause of global peace and security. Such a diplomatic resolution to a long-running dispute between rival powers has only rarely occurred in history. With this historic deal at hand, the dawn of a new age of relations between Iran and the United States is within sight.