Are We Heading Toward Global Autocracy, Ecological Collapse, Political Malaise?

By Richard Falk, June 29, 2016

What follows are preliminary reactions to both the BREXIT vote and the world according to Trump, but also a commentary on the related alienation of large segments of the public that are being badly served by both the established elites and their demagogic adversaries. The failures of neoliberalism, the successes of digitization, the scourge of random violence, and more broadly, the dilemmas posed by late modernity are among the root causes of this global crisis of legitimate governance, which is deepened while being mishandled by unprecedented ecological challenges, extremely irresponsible geopolitical leadership, and a variety of ultra-nationalist backlashes against the encroachments of economic globalization.

Brexit — a Stern Rebuke to Arrogant Elites

By Stephen Kinzer, The Boston Globe, June 24, 2016

Astonishment, jubilation, and awe seized the hearts of European leaders after they took decisive steps toward uniting their continent in December 1991. By agreeing to accelerate Europe’s progress toward “ever closer union,” they produced far more than simply another treaty. The accord they signed in the Dutch town of Maastricht committed their countries to the most sweeping voluntary surrender of sovereignty in the history of the nation-state.

As a correspondent covering the Maastricht summit, I was caught up in the excitement. It was hard to avoid concluding that, as German Chancellor Helmut Kohl put it, “The way to European unity is irreversible.” Within hours after I filed my report, though, my editor called from New York. He did not believe what I had written. How, he demanded, could countries with such vastly different histories and political cultures believe that they could function as one?

SCO and One Belt, One Road

By M.A. Saki, Tehran Times, June 22, 2016

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as a Eurasian bloc, is seeking to strengthen confidence and neighborly relations among member countries and promote cooperation in politics, trade, economy, energy, and transportation.

The SCO already has six members (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan), two acceding members (India and Pakistan), four observer states (Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia), and six dialogue partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Turkey).    

India and Pakistan are likely to get full membership in the SCO summit in Tashkent on June 23-24. The inclusion of India, as a rising economic power with over 1.3 billion people, could grant greater weight to the body.

The SCO has also realized that regional economic integrity is one of the keys to success.

Terrorism: A Matrix of Lies and Deceit

By Christopher Black, New Eastern Outlook, June 17, 2016

So how is your war on “terrorism” going? I’m not doing too well at it since I have no idea who the enemy is. Like the American black comedian, Dick Gregory, who, on hearing that President Johnson had declared a war on poverty, ran out onto the street with a hand grenade to throw it at some poor people, I have no idea who the real enemy is, who to throw a grenade at. That makes me think.

We are told, the world over, by every government, that we are in a “war against terrorism.”  But terrorism is an action, a tactic, a strategy. It’s a method not a person, a group, a country. How can there be a war against a method of war. But they want us to fight a method and never ask the why or the who. That doesn’t seem to matter anymore. They tell us not to be concerned with why something happens, only how it happens.

The Destiny of the EU – From a Secular Market-State to a Civic Commonwealth?

By Adrian Pabst, Ethics in Brief, EU Referendum Series No. 3, June 2016

The EU’s mutation into a ‘market-state’ that fuses top-down legal harmonisation with bureaucratic centralism and capitalist commodification is incompatible with Catholic Social Thought and cognate traditions in Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The proposed alternative is a civic commonwealth – a voluntary association of nations and peoples that can re-embed states and markets based on strengthening intermediary institutions and reconnecting the EU’s political project to its citizens. Europe’s shared Christian heritage is a source of cultural renewal without which the Union lacks a firm foundation and finality. If it stays in, then the UK can provide much-needed leadership.

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A Saudi-Russian Congruence Promotes Syria Peace Process

By M.K. Bhadrakumar, Asia Times, June 1, 2016

There is chance for peace in Syria after the “ouster” of Jaysh al-Islam’s Mohammed Alloush from the High Negotiations Committee. Since Saudi Arabia is quite aware that the US-Russian coordination on Syria is gaining traction, it may no longer reject the peace process out of hand. However, it remains unclear how far the Syrian regime or Iran would find the constitution drafted by Moscow and Washington to be acceptable.

If Mohammed Alloush were a communist, he would have announced on Monday (May 30)  that he was resigning on health grounds from the key post of the head of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) at the Syrian peace talks in Geneva.

The Increasingly Unstable United States

By Immanuel Wallerstein, June 1, 2016

We are used to thinking of instability in states as being located primarily in the global South. It is about those regions that pundits and politicians in the global North speak of “failed states” in which there are “civil wars.” Life is very uncertain for the inhabitants of these regions. There is massive displacement of populations and efforts to flee these regions to “safer” parts of the world. These safer parts are supposed to have more jobs and higher standards of living.

In particular, the United States has been seen as the migratory goal of a very large percentage of the world’s population. This was once largely true. In the period that ran roughly from 1945 to 1970, the United States was the hegemonic power in the world-system in which life was indeed better economically and socially for its inhabitants.

A Patriotic Case to Stay in the EU

By Adrian Pabst, University of Southampton, May 23, 2016

With a month to go before the EU referendum, the number of undecided voters is at a fairly constant level of about 25 per cent. This suggests that so far both the ‘In’ and the ‘Out’ camp preach to the converted. A patriotic case to stay in the EU could reach beyond core voters and increase support for Remain.

As we have seen since the local and devolved elections on 5 May, there has been a window of opportunity to engage the electorate before the undecided make up their mind or drift away. Perhaps the negative messages will have their desired effect, but the ‘In’ campaign needs a high turnout on 23 June if it is to win. The reason is that those in favour of Brexit (especially the over-55s) are more mobilised and vote in large numbers than young people who tend to be pro-EU.