China Looks West: What Is at Stake in Beijing’s ‘New Silk Road’ Project

By Flynt Leverett, Hillary Mann Leverett, and Wu Bingbing, Going to Tehran, January 28, 2015

Not even two years into what will almost certainly be a ten-year tenure as China’s president, Xi Jinping has already had an impact on China’s foreign policy:  standing up for what many Chinese see as their nation’s territorial sovereignty in maritime boundary disputes in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, proposing a “new model of great power relations” to guide relations with the United States, and presiding over the consolidation of what Xi himself calls a “comprehensive strategic partnership” with Russia.  But the most consequential diplomatic initiative of Xi’s presidency may turn out to be his calls to create a “New Silk Road Economic Belt” and a “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century”:  vast infrastructure and investment schemes aimed at expanding China’s economic connections to—and its political influence across—much of Eurasia.  

Successful implementation of Xi’s “one belt, one road” initiative is likely to be essential for China to meet some of its most pressing economic challenges. It is also likely to be critical to realizing the interest of many Chinese elites in a more “balanced” foreign policy—that is, in a diplomatic approach less reflexively accommodating of U.S. preferences—and in fostering a more genuinely multipolar international order.

Drones and the New Ethics of War

By Neve Gordon, OpEdNews, January 23, 2015

This Christmas small drones were among the most popular gift under the tree in the U.S. with manufacturers stating that they sold 200,000 new unmanned aerial vehicles during the holiday season. While the rapid infiltration of drones into the gaming domain clearly reflects that drones are becoming a common weapon among armed forces, their appearance in Walmart, Toys "R" Us and Amazon serves, in turn, to normalize their deployment in the military.

Peace instead of NATO

By Oskar Lafontaine, Current Concerns, No. 2/2015

For the vast majority of the population of the former Federal Republic, NATO has been the guarantor of peace and freedom for a long time. Anti-communism, fuelled by the fear of the Soviet Union operated by the world revolution, the Berlin Blockade and the construction of the Berlin Wall left little room to think about alternatives to NATO. But in 1965 at the latest, when US President Lyndon B. Johnson bombed North Vietnam and deployed more and more ground troops to South Vietnam, a discussion about the policy and objectives of the Western power started especially in the universities. The military infrastructure of NATO, which has always been a US military structure in its core, brought about Germany’s involvement in every US war like that of other states’, which were integrated into it. That has not changed until today. In his book “The Grand Chessboard” former security adviser to Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, commented this dependence as follows: “The brutal fact is that Western Europe and increasingly also Central Europe, remains largely an American protectorate, with its allied states reminiscent of ancient vassals and tributaries.”

WPF ICC Meeting in Vienna

The World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” International Coordinating Committee meeting will be convened in Vienna, Austria, on March 4, 2015

The members of the Committee will analyze WPF developments, consider agenda of the 13th Rhodes Forum Annual Session and preparations to upcoming WPF Events in 2015.

Implementation and results of the “Schools of the Dialogue of Cultures” Project will be discussed.

One of the key points of the meeting’s agenda is the prospects of the WPF Research Center to be opened in Austria.

Still No Exit for Greece

By Kemal Derviş, a co-author of the “22 Ideas to Fix the World”, January 21, 2015

Europe’s political landscape is changing. Populist parties, both on the far right and the far left, are gaining electoral traction. Some, such as France’s National Front, oppose their country’s eurozone membership; others, such as Podemos in Spain, do not. Nonetheless, the challenge that these new parties pose to Europe could prove to be extremely disruptive.

Human Rights Violations inside EU

By Walter Schwimmer, Former Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Co-Chairman of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” and Chairman of the WPF International Coordinating Committee

What is the Ostrich Protocol? How the EU member states play ostrich when it comes to human rights violations inside EU?

The Treaty on the European Union, in its current format also known as the Lisbon Treaty, as well as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights claim to establish an area of freedom, security and justice, founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and the respect for human rights [1]. That sounds perfect. After centuries of inhuman treatment of people very often by their own governments, culminating in the tyrannies of communism and Nazism in the 20th century, EU citizens should be able to feel safe from brutal attacks and illegal operations of a violent state, if not ....If they are not refugees from another EU member state and they do not try to look for protection because they were subject in their own state to political persecution, inhuman treatment or even torture.


Why the Modern World is Bad for your Brain

By Daniel J Levitin, The Guardian, January 18, 2015

Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting. At the same time, we are all doing more. Thirty years ago, travel agents made our airline and rail reservations, salespeople helped us find what we were looking for in shops, and professional typists or secretaries helped busy people with their correspondence. Now we do most of those things ourselves. We are doing the jobs of 10 different people while still trying to keep up with our lives, our children and parents, our friends, our careers, our hobbies, and our favourite TV shows.

Growing Inequality as a Threat to Social and Economic Progress

Oxfam international organization recently published a report according to which “the combined wealth of the richest 1 per cent will overtake that of the other 99 per cent of people next year unless the current trend of rising inequality is checked.”

The same issue has been raised by Thomas Piketty in his “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” – a research nowadays widely discussed worldwide.

The problem of an increasingly unequal distribution of social wealth becomes a matter of concern and analysis of a growing number of economists, political scientists, sociologists and experts on governance. The growing wealth inequality aggravates financial plight of millions, leads to degradation of the social fabric and poses a real risk of social upheavals.

It is Painful to Live Amidst Chaos

Immanuel Wallerstein, January 15, 2015

The world-system is in serious trouble and it is causing pain to the vast majority of the world’s population. Pundits and politicians grasp at straws. They magnify every momentary, and usually transitory, occurrence of slight improvements in the various measures we are accustomed to using.