The most absurd political pronouncement of 2015 was made on March 9.
The US President issued an Executive Order that declared “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela …” A White House spokesman explained that Venezuela was a threat because of “Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption…” He further asserted that these officials will not be welcome in the US, “and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of US financial systems.” Seven individuals have been targeted by the White House. There have been other sanctions against Venezuelan officials and citizens in the past.
So far the US has not provided any tangible evidence of how Venezuelan officials have violated human rights or indulged in public corruption. Its reckless allegations have been effectively refuted by the Caracas government. Even leaders from other Latin American countries have condemned the statements emanating from Washington DC.
It’s easy to forget that just two years ago, President Obama was determined to bomb Syria and remove the Assad regime, and U.S. establishment institutions were working to lay the groundwork for that campaign. NPR began dutifully publishing reports from anonymous U.S. officials that Syria had stockpiled large amounts of chemical weapons; the NYT was reporting that Obama was “increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down” Assad; Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced that forced removal of Assad was “a matter of national security” and “a matter of the credibility of the United States of America.”
Those opposed to the anti-Assad “regime change” bombing campaign argued that while some of the rebellion was composed of ordinary Syrians, the “rebels” the U.S. would arm and empower (i.e., the only effective anti-Assad fighters) were actually violent extremists and even terrorists aligned with Al Qaeda and worse. The people arguing that were invariably smeared as Assad apologists because this happened to be the same argument Assad was making: that the most effective fighters against him were jihadis and terrorists.
By Gholamali Khoshroo, The New York Times, March 3, 2015
UNITED NATIONS — In the address on Tuesday to the United States Congress by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, we witnessed a new peak in the long-running hype over Iran’s nuclear energy program. Yet all his predictions about how close Iran was to acquiring a nuclear bomb have proved baseless.
Despite that, alarmist rhetoric on the theme has been a staple of Mr. Netanyahu’s career. In an interview with the BBC in 1997, he accused Iran of secretly “building a formidable arsenal of ballistic missiles,” predicting that eventually Manhattan would be within range. In 1996, he stood before Congress and urged other nations to join him to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capability, stressing that “time is running out.” Earlier, as a member of Parliament, in 1992, he predicted that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within three to five years.
By Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, February 19, 2015
When Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine’s prime minister, told a German TV station recently that the Soviet Union invaded Germany, was this just blind ignorance? Or a kind of perverted wishful thinking? If the USSR really was the aggressor in 1941, it would suit Yatsenyuk’s narrative of current geopolitics in which Russia is once again the only side that merits blame.
When Grzegorz Schetyna, Poland’s deputy foreign minister, said Ukrainians liberated Auschwitz, did he not know that the Red Army was a multinational force in which Ukrainians certainly played a role but the bulk of the troops were Russian? Or was he looking for a new way to provoke the Kremlin?
Faced with these irresponsible distortions, and they are replicated in a hundred other prejudiced comments about Russian behaviour from western politicians as well as their eastern European colleagues, it is a relief to find a book on the Ukrainian conflict that is cool, balanced, and well sourced. Richard Sakwa makes repeated criticisms of Russian tactics and strategy, but he avoids lazy Putin-bashing and locates the origins of the Ukrainian conflict in a quarter-century of mistakes since the cold war ended.
A special commission of the two largest associations of Latin American nations, CELAC (which includes all of the Latin America and the Caribbean) and UNASUR (which represents South American countries) met today in Montevideo, Uruguay, to analyze the relationship between the United States and Venezuela as well as the situation inside Venezuela. The commission, which has been convened at the request of the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, includes the foreign ministers Delcy Rodríguez (Venezuela), Ricardo Patiño (Ecuador), María Ángela Holguín (Colombia) and Mauro Vieira (Brazil), as well as the Secretary General of UNASUR, Ernesto Samper.
Early indications are that this broad based association is calling for the U.S. to cease interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela; for Caracas to resume a dialogue inside Venezuela; as well as for the commencement of a U.S.–Venezuela dialogue. This call is only the latest in a series of statements of solidarity with Caracas and the rejection of U.S. meddling in the internal affairs of member states issued by regional political and economic associations as well as social movements.
A Paper presented by Dr. Hans Köchler, President of the International Progress Organization, at the Third Inter-Civilizational Dialogue, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, September 15-17, 1997
I: The Eurocentric Paradigm of Civilizational Encounters
Since the colonial era, the Western world has been used to exporting its civilization through its imperial and colonial policies. All other civilizations have been measured by Western standards based on the anthropocentric and individualistic world view of the Graeco-Roman and Christian traditions and on the criteria of rationality and scientific methods defined in those traditions and supposedly refined in 18th-century Enlightenment and 20th-century rationalism. These standards center around the preeminent role of the individual versus the collective subject (in the sense of the community, whether as family or nation) and, derived from the former, around the meaning and value of democracy.
This tendency of Eurocentrism is particularly virulent in our post-colonial period – or more precisely: the period of re-colonization – of a so-called “New World Order” through which the West, on top of it the United States as its self-declared spokesperson, tries to monopolize the global discourse on democracy and human rights.
Egypt has just joined the war against the Islamic State in the Levant (also known as ISIL or, in Arabic, Daesh). Its air force has attacked the jihadist army in retribution for the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christian Copts held in Libya, whom they described as “Crusaders.”
As usual, jihad polemics were ignorant. Coptic Christianity goes back to the earliest Christian conversions in Egypt, centuries before the Crusades, and its adherents are mostly members of the original population of Egypt. They were Christians long before Egypt’s incorporation into the Islamic Arab caliphates in the seventh century and after.
This is one more instance of the sheer ignorance influential in driving events in the Middle East in modern times. The United States’ invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush was conceived as a crusade by many evangelical American Protestant churches, and so seen by many others in the U.S. (At the time, President George W. Bush even called it a crusade). It has so been seen in the Islamic countries.
Among the results of America’s modern crusades has been the retaliatory murderous attacks by jihadists against the ancient Christian churches founded in Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine in Apostolic times following the death of Christ—all of them taken as agents of the modern Americans. How many American churchmen know?
On behalf of WPFDC I fully and whole-heartedly endorse the statement by Professor Hans Koechler, President of IPO, on the Minsk talks. This statement very clearly charts the course which needs to be followed to ensure peace in Europe and in the world. We strongly urge the powers involved in the Minsk talks to implement the excellent recommendations contained in Dr. Koechler's statement.