By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, May 21, 2015
“Despite 50 years of ‘Nostra Aetate,'” the Second Vatican Council’s document on interreligious relations, “we still don’t know each other well enough,” said French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Speaking May 19 about Catholic-Muslim relations, Cardinal Tauran added, “Most of the problems we face are problems of ignorance.”
By Joseph E. Stiglitz, Project Syndicate, May 13, 2015
The United States and the world are engaged in a great debate about new trade agreements. Such pacts used to be called “free-trade agreements”; in fact, they were managed trade agreements, tailored to corporate interests, largely in the US and the European Union. Today, such deals are more often referred to as “partnerships,”as in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But they are not partnerships of equals: the US effectively dictates the terms. Fortunately, America’s “partners” are becoming increasingly resistant.
“In a diverse world, the destruction of cultures is a crime, and uniformity is a dead-end: our aim must be to enhance, in one movement, the diversity that enriches us and the human rights that bring us together.” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has called for an immediate end to hostilities in Palmyra (Syria) following reports from several sources that armed extremist groups have infiltrated the World Heritage site, where fighting is now ongoing.
“I am deeply concerned by the situation at the site of Palmyra. The fighting is putting at risk one of the most significant sites in the Middle East, and its civilian population,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.
Three decades ago, with the end of the Cold War and the dismantling of the South American dictatorships, many hoped that the much talked about ‘peace dividend’ promised by Bush senior and Thatcher would actually materialise. No such luck. Instead, we have experienced continuous wars, upheavals, intolerance and fundamentalisms of every sort – religious, ethnic and imperial. The exposure of the Western world’s surveillance networks has heightened the feeling that democratic institutions aren’t functioning as they should, that, like it or not, we are living in the twilight period of democracy itself.
Strategic autonomy as an Indian foreign policy option
By Kanwal Sibal, The Telegraph, May 4, 2015
In the joint statement issued during the Indian prime minister's visit to France in April, the two sides reaffirmed "their independence and strategic autonomy" in joint efforts to tackle global challenges. In the French case, as a member of Nato, it is not so clear what strategic autonomy might mean, but in our case it would essentially mean independence in making strategic foreign policy decisions, and, consequently, rejecting any alliance relationship. It would imply the freedom to choose partnerships as suits our national interest and be able to forge productive relationships with countries that may be strategic adversaries among themselves.
Introduction: the broken promise of peace and prosperity
The continual crisis in the Eurozone and in Ukraine poses the most serious danger to Europe since the darkest days of the Cold War. Economic devastation in the south and war in the east cast a long shadow over the European Union and the wider Europe. Arguably the post-1945 promise of peace and prosperity no longer holds. The 28 EU member-states are home to high standards of living for many and the biggest single market with over 550 million consumers, but the 2008 crash exposed the sheer precariousness of the much-vaunted European social models and ways of life. Without a radically different settlement, the Union faces the paradox of a richer economy with poorer people. Amid rising inequality and persistently high youth unemployment, there is a very real prospect that this generation of 18-25 year olds and their children’s generation will be worse off than their parents’ generation.
The 19 January editorial “The Year 2015-What Are We in For?” identified four unfolding, dramatic processes: the West will continue fighting unsuccessfully and violently to keep their world grip; Eurasia will expand and consolidate successfully and nonviolently; Islam will expand and consolidate partly violently; Latin America and Africa will expand and consolidate, spearheaded by Brazil, South Africa, BRICS.
A third of the year 2015 has now passed; let us take stock.
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