Category Archives: Politics

How I see the world and leaders!

Ukraine: Struggle for stability

image7a

The protests in  EuroMaidan in the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, in 2013-14 lasted for 6 months. These protests led to the then President absconding and a subsequent change in regime. The following regime led to the emergence of a Ukraine with different but not necessarily better politics, accompanied with a clique of young leaders. One such newcomer is Mustafa Nayyem, now a parliamentarian who interestingly belongs to Afghani ethnicity. He is also an ally to the President Petro Peroshenko’s bloc. Before being elected as a parliamentarian, Mustafa worked as a journalist; he is also the founder of the Global Office, an organisation which brings volunteers from around the world to teach English and other European languages to children in Ukraine. He believes this is an important step towards integration into the EU. For this initiative, his organisation has amassed a large support base from the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine to the UNV.

This summer, I volunteered to teach the English language to school going children in Ukraine. My school was situated in the Eastern city of Kryvyi Rih, a city known to be 126 km long and for its steel plant byArcellor Mittal which employs around 50,000 people from the city. This also got me a lot of recognition for sharing the same ethnicity as the largest employer of the city. However, my intention was also to understand the post-protest sentiment of the people, which led me to travel to 4 cities in Ukraine, covering all directions. Surprisingly, the people of Ukraine are quick to share their thoughts about the protests, the incumbent government, annexation of Crimea, regional demands for autonomy, Russia and most importantly the divide between the East and the West in Ukraine.

There is a common angst amongst the people relating to the wearing down of its economy after the protests. Although all the people I met had a strong bitterness towards the corrupt actions of the previous president, they are unsatisfied with the incumbent as well. Mr. Porshenko has been a close associate of the ‘president on the run’, and shows similar traits. For instance, he owns the widely popular and omnipresent candies and chocolate brand in Ukraine called Roshen (India= spices, Ukraine = sweets). Interestingly, Roshen had one of its production plants in Lipetsk, Russia, which is a widely known fact in the enlightened quarters of Ukraine.

Ukraine is also dealing with a fight with its history, where renaming of roads, universities and public places is commonplace. Soviet structures have been raised down in most cases, inscriptions about Lenin have been erased and statues removed. Regardless of this rewriting of its Soviet past, there are also people who still romanticise with their Soviet past, where the economy was stable and borders were unthreatened. These people can be more commonly found in the eastern part, which is also a predominantly Russian-speaking region. The eastern part is also where the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk are located. Donetsk has declared itself an autonomous region. A person from the region I met claimed that they wish to secede from Ukraine and have independent control over their affairs. The majority of Ukrainians believe that this is due to cultural alignments towards Russia.

Ukraine is clearly a State dealing with several challenges, from its identity to border threats. The Crimean region now under Russian control was once the getaway destination for the people of Ukraine, and the appropriation of their relaxing sanctuary has left them angry. More than 10,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict and the relentlessness of the people can be best showcased by their contribution towards the resistance against the rebels occupying part of their eastern region. I was astounded to see civilian SUVs and ambulances camouflaged for military use. There is also a high rate of people volunteering to serve in the military and participate in the anti-terrorist operation (that’s how they call it). Young Ukrainians are fighting a battle on one more front, which is the battle for a stable future. After the complete shutdown of Russian-owned businesses, there are more people without jobs. Ukraine’s previously corrupt regime didn’t build a strong economic foundation to function independently, this, in turn, has caused the maximum damage to the civilian population. The sense of frustration amongst the younger population is visible, there is a high rate of immigration and increasing cases of drug abuse.  Nonetheless, like the effervescent human spirit which is central to everyone’s nature, people in Ukraine are initiating discourses on drug policy and employment opportunities in the hope for a  better and independent future.

No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory

 Smoke and fire from an Israeli bomb rises into the air ove Gaza City

On the fourth day of Israel’s most recent onslaught against Gaza’s Palestinian population, President Barack Obama declared, “No country on Earth would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.” In an echo of Israeli officials, he sought to frame Israel’s aerial missile strikes against the 360-square kilometer Strip as the just use of armed force against a foreign country. Israel’s ability to frame its assault against territory it occupies as a right of self-defense turns international law on its head. 

A state cannot simultaneously exercise control over territory it occupies and militarily attack that territory on the claim that it is “foreign” and poses an exogenous national security threat. In doing precisely that, Israel is asserting rights that may be consistent with colonial domination but simply do not exist under international law. 

Admittedly, the enforceability of international law largely depends on voluntary state consent and compliance. Absent the political will to make state behavior comport with the law, violations are the norm rather than the exception. Nevertheless, examining what international law says with regard to an occupant’s right to use force is worthwhile in light of Israel’s deliberate attempts since 1967 to reinterpret and transform the laws applicable to occupied territory. These efforts have expanded significantly since the eruption of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, and if successful, Israel’s reinterpretation would cast the law as an instrument that protects colonial authority at the expense of the rights of civilian non-combatants.  

Israel Has A Duty To Protect Palestinians Living Under Occupation 

Military occupation is a recognized status under international law and since 1967, the international community has designated the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as militarily occupied. As long as the occupation continues, Israel has the right to protect itself and its citizens from attacks by Palestinians who reside in the occupied territories. However, Israel also has a duty to maintain law and order, also known as “normal life,” within territory it occupies. This obligation includes not only ensuring but prioritizing the security and well-being of the occupied population. That responsibility and those duties are enumerated inOccupation Law

Occupation Law is part of the laws of armed conflict; it contemplates military occupation as an outcome of war and enumerates the duties of an occupying power until the peace is restored and the occupation ends. To fulfill its duties, the occupying power is afforded the right to use police powers, or the force permissible for law enforcement purposes. As put by the U.S. Military Tribunal during the Hostages Trial (The United States of America vs. Wilhelm List, et al.)

International Law places the responsibility upon the commanding general of preserving order, punishing crime, and protecting lives and property within the occupied territory. His power in accomplishing these ends is as great as his responsibility. 

The extent and breadth of force constitutes the distinction between the right to self-defense and the right to police. Police authority is restricted to the least amount of force necessary to restore order and subdue violence. In such a context, the use of lethal force is legitimate only as a measure of last resort. Even where military force is considered necessary to maintain law and order, such force is circumscribed by concern for the civilian non-combatant population. The law of self-defense, invoked by states against other states, however, affords a broader spectrum of military force. Both are legitimate pursuant to the law of armed conflict and therefore distinguished from the peacetime legal regime regulated by human rights law. 


When It Is Just to Begin to Fight 

The laws of armed conflict are found primarily in the Hague Regulations of 1907, the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and their Additional Protocols I and II of 1977. This body of law is based on a crude balance between humanitarian concerns on the one hand and military advantage and necessity on the other. The post-World War II Nuremberg trials defined military exigency as permission to expend “any amount and kind of force to compel the complete submission of the enemy…” so long as the destruction of life and property is not done for revenge or a lust to kill. Thus, the permissible use of force during war, while expansive, is not unlimited. 

In international law, self-defense is the legal justification for a state to initiate the use of armed force and to declare war. This is referred to as jus ad bellum—meaning “when it is just to begin to fight.” The right to fight in self-defense is distinguished from jus in bello, the principles and laws regulating the means and methods of warfare itself. Jus ad bellum aims to limit the initiation of the use of armed force in accordance with United Nations Charter Article 2(4); its sole justification, found in Article 51, is in response to an armed attack (or an imminent threat of one in accordance with customary law on the matter). The only other lawful way to begin a war, according to Article 51, is with Security Council sanction, an option reserved—in principle, at least—for the defense or restoration of international peace and security.

Once armed conflict is initiated, and irrespective of the reason or legitimacy of such conflict, the jus in bellolegal framework is triggered. Therefore, where an occupation already is in place, the right to initiate militarized force in response to an armed attack, as opposed to police force to restore order, is not a remedy available to the occupying state. The beginning of a military occupation marks the triumph of one belligerent over another. In the case of Israel, its occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai in 1967 marked a military victory against Arab belligerents. 

Occupation Law prohibits an occupying power from initiating armed force against its occupied territory. By mere virtue of the existence of military occupation, an armed attack, including one consistent with the UN Charter, has already occurred and been concluded. Therefore the right of self-defense in international law is, by definition since 1967, not available to Israel with respect to its dealings with real or perceived threats emanating from the West Bank and Gaza Strip population. To achieve its security goals, Israel can resort to no more than the police powers, or the exceptional use of militarized force, vested in it by IHL. This is not to say that Israel cannot defend itself—but those defensive measures can neither take the form of warfare nor be justified as self-defense in international law. As explained by Ian Scobbie:  

To equate the two is simply to confuse the legal with the linguistic denotation of the term ”defense.“ Just as ”negligence,“ in law, does not mean ”carelessness” but, rather, refers to an elaborate doctrinal structure, so ”self-defense” refers to a complex doctrine that has a much more restricted scope than ordinary notions of ”defense.“ 

To argue that Israel is employing legitimate “self-defense” when it militarily attacks Gaza affords the occupying power the right to use both police and military force in occupied territory. An occupying power cannot justify military force as self-defense in territory for which it is responsible as the occupant. The problem is that Israel has never regulated its own behavior in the West Bank and Gaza as in accordance with Occupation Law. 
 

Israel’s Attempts To Change International Law 

Since the beginning of its occupation in 1967, Israel has rebuffed the applicability of international humanitarian law to the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Despite imposing military rule over the West Bank and Gaza, Israel denied the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (the cornerstone of Occupation Law). Israel argued because the territories neither constituted a sovereign state nor were sovereign territories of the displaced states at the time of conquest, that it simply administered the territories and did not occupy them within the meaning of international law. The UN Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly, as well as the Israeli High Court of Justice have roundly rejected the Israeli government’s position. Significantly, the HCJ recognizes the entirety of the Hague Regulations and provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions that pertain to military occupation as customary international law

Israel’s refusal to recognize the occupied status of the territory, bolstered by the US’ resilient and intransigent opposition to international accountability within the UN Security Council, has resulted in the condition that exists today: prolonged military occupation. Whereas the remedy to occupation is its cessation, such recourse will not suffice to remedy prolonged military occupation. By virtue of its decades of military rule, Israel has characterized all Palestinians as a security threat and Jewish nationals as their potential victims, thereby justifying the differential, and violent, treatment of Palestinians. In its 2012 session, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination described current conditions following decades of occupation and attendant repression as tantamount to Apartheid

In complete disregard for international law, and its institutional findings, Israel continues to treat the Occupied Territory as colonial possessions. Since the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, Israel has advanced the notion that it is engaged in an international armed conflict short of war in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  Accordingly, it argues that it can 1) invoke self-defense, pursuant to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, and 2) use force beyond that permissible during law enforcement, even where an occupation exists
 

The Gaza Strip Is Not the World Trade Center

To justify its use of force in the OPT as consistent with the right of self-defense, Israel has cited UN Security Council Resolution 1368 (2001) and UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001).  These two resolutions were passed in direct response to the Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001. They affirm that those terrorist acts amount to threats to international peace and security and therefore trigger Article 51 of the UN Charter permitting the use of force in self-defense. Israel has therefore deliberately characterized all acts of Palestinian violence – including those directed exclusively at legitimate military targets – as terrorist acts. Secondly it frames those acts as amounting to armed attacks that trigger the right of self-defense under Article 51 irrespective of the West Bank and Gaza’s status as Occupied Territory. 

The Israeli Government stated its position clearly in the 2006 HCJ case challenging the legality of the policy of targeted killing (Public Committee against Torture in Israel et al v. Government of Israel). The State argued that, notwithstanding existing legal debate, “there can be no doubt that the assault of terrorism against Israel fits the definition of an armed attack,” effectively permitting Israel to use military force against those entities. Therefore, Israeli officials claim that the laws of war can apply to “both occupied territory and to territory which is not occupied, as long as armed conflict is taking place on it” and that the permissible use of force is not limited to law enforcement operations.  The HCJ has affirmed this argument in at least three of its decisions:Public Committee Against Torture in Israel et al v. Government of Israel, Hamdan v. Southern Military Commander, and Physicians for Human Rights v. The IDF Commander in Gaza. These rulings sanction the government’s position that it is engaged in an international armed conflict and, therefore, that its use of force is not restricted by the laws of occupation. The Israeli judiciary effectively authorizes the State to use police force to control the lives of Palestinians (e.g., through ongoing arrests, prosecutions, checkpoints) and military force to pummel their resistance to occupation. 

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) dealt with these questions in its assessment of the permissible use of force in the Occupied West Bank in its 2004 Advisory Opinion, Legal Consequences on the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The ICJ reasoned that Article 51 contemplates an armed attack by one state against another state and “Israel does not claim that the attacks against it are imputable to a foreign state.” Moreover, the ICJ held that because the threat to Israel “originates within, and not outside” the Occupied West Bank, 

the situation is thus different from that contemplated by Security Council resolutions 1368 (2001) and 1373 (2001), and therefore Israel could not in any event invoke those resolutions in support of its claim to be exercising a right of self-defense. Consequently, the Court concludes that Article 51 of the Charter has no relevance in this case. 

Despite the ICJ’s decision, Israel continues to insist that it is exercising its legal right to self-defense in its execution of military operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since 2005, Israel slightly changed its position towards the Gaza Strip. The government insists that as a result of its unilateral disengagement in 2005, its occupation has come to an end. In 2007, the government declared the Gaza Strip a “hostile entity” and waged war upon the territory over which it continues to exercise effective control as an Occupying Power.  Lisa Hajjar expounds on these issues here.

In effect, Israel is distorting/reinterpreting international law to justify its use of militarized force in order to protect its colonial authority. Although it rebuffs the de jure application of Occupation Law, Israel exercises effective control over the West Bank and Gaza and therefore has recourse to police powers. It uses those police powers to continue its colonial expansion and apartheid rule and then in defiance of international law cites its right to self-defense in international law to wage war against the population, which it has a duty to protect. The invocation of law to protect its colonial presence makes the Palestinian civilian population doubly vulnerable. Specifically in the case of Gaza,

It forces the people of the Gaza Strip to face one of the most powerful militaries in the world without the benefit either of its own military, or of any realistic means to acquire the means todefend itself. 

More broadly, Israel is slowly pushing the boundaries of existing law in an explicit attempt to reshape it. This is an affront to the international humanitarian legal order, which is intended to protect civilians in times of war by minimizing their suffering. Israel’s attempts have proven successful in the realm of public relations, as evidenced by President Obama’s uncritical support of Israel’s recent onslaughts of Gaza as an exercise in the right of self-defense. Since international law lacks a hierarchal enforcement authority, its meaning and scope is highly contingent on the prerogative of states, especially the most powerful ones. The implications of this shift are therefore palpable and dangerous. 

Failure to uphold the law would allow states to behave according to their own whim in furtherance of their national interest, even in cases where that is detrimental to civilian non-combatants and to the international legal order. For better or worse, the onus to resist this shift and to preserve protection for civilians rests upon the shoulders of citizens, organizations, and mass movements who can influence their governments enforce international law. There is no alternative to political mobilization to shape state behavior.

source: www.jadaliyya.com

Russia-Ukraine-Crimea Conflict (2014): Why is Russia invading Ukraine?

Russian President Putin looks on during a news conference following EU-Russia summit in Brussels
Once upon a time there was Mr. Russia. He had many girlfriends-Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Ukraine sisters ( west and east) and many more. They all lived happily in a polygamous relationship and called themselves USSR.

Over time their differences grew and the girlfriends were like “this relationship ain’t workin’ for us honey..we gotta be single for a while and figure out our shit”. So they all broke up with Mr. Russia.

Mr. Russia was sad.

Meanwhile Russia’s rival, Mr. USA , was rubbing his hands in glee and gloating at Russia’s misfortune because, earlier that year, Russia (and his girlfriends) had been in a ‘low temperature'(cold ?) war with USA for a while.

Russia drank a lot of vodka, stopped shaving and became weak and generally forgotten by everyone.

*Fast forward 50 years later.*

Russia has picked himself up. Started working out again, eating healthy and looking nice in general. He had also convinced one or two of his old girlfriends to come back to him (albeit after a bit of lover’s tiff). But he missed The Ukrainian sisters the most. Cause they were the hottest (in his eyes). But he was hesitant about making the move on them.

Then one day he saw that USA was hitting on them. A lot. Plus he heard that USA had invited the Ukrainian sisters to party at a club that he (USA) owned (called NATO or something..not sure). Now Russia knew that one of the sisters still loved him- East. (Infact she even kept some of his stuff (such as the Black Sea Fleet) in her backyard because she missed him.)

So Russia decided that one girlfriend in hand was worth two in (George) bush… er USA’s hand and forcefully eloped with East Ukraine. (this also caused an irreparable rift between the previously super close sisters)

USA and the other guys on the street were outraged and threatened to beat up Russia while Russia was like “fuck y’all… imma marry East Ukraine and drink vodka”.

Meanwhile Mr. India also , kinda, supported Russia cause they had always been bitchin’ friends plus Russia always gave awesomely advanced toy planes and and other stuff to India to play with when the other guys (such as Mr. USA) refused to share with India.

And now everyone is waiting to see what will happen next. Will Russia marry East Ukraine and consummate their marriage ? Will the guys gang up and beat Mr. Russia ? Tune in next week to find out folks !

*credits roll*

The End

How Israel’s “Iron Dome” works

20140719_blp506

ISRAEL has long been protected by its famed “iron walls”. Now those walls have a rooftop. Israel’s arms manufacturers have devised an anti-missile system, offering what they call an “Iron Dome” overhead. Iron Dome’s manufacturers claim it is the fastest and most reliable such system to date, able to shoot down missiles with a launch-to-impact time of 15 seconds. The $1-billion programme, subsidised by the United States, has served Israel well in Operation Protective Edge, its recent campaign against Hamas in Gaza. Palestinian militants have lobbed almost 1,000 missiles into Israel, but Iron Dome’s interceptors have struck down 87% of their targets, according to the Israelis, allowing life in Israel’s cities to proceed more or less normally. How does it work?

 

Iron Dome is the short-range component of Israel’s three-tier anti-missile defences. The other two elements are David’s Sling, still under development, which is intended to shoot down targets in the atmosphere, including over the Mediterranean; and the Arrow system, designed to intercept longer-range ballistic missiles in space. As soon as enemy rockets are launched, Iron Dome’s radar tracks their trajectory, calculates their impact point and launches a missile which within seconds locks onto the rocket and shoots it down. Each interception costs about $60,000, but its architects claim to have saved Israel billions in physical damage and economic impact, as well as loss of life.

 

The system has overcome many teething problems. Initially, Israel’s defence planners were wary of deploying it over airports, lest it respond to aircraft and target them too. Commanders have since developed a country-wide network identifying all friendly airborne traffic, ensuring the Iron Dome’s missiles target only the unknown. Other problems remain: even when rockets are successfully shot down, potentially lethal shrapnel falls from the sky. “Whatever goes up, must come down,” says Uzi Rubin, a designer of the Arrow system. And the country’s highways and rural areas remain exposed. Farmers, often migrant workers from Thailand, cower among their crops. Israel’s 200,000 Bedouin, many of whom live in shanty towns, have nowhere to hide. Labourers expanding Israel’s infrastructure look to the sky and pray. On July 14th a rocket seriously injured a ten-year-old girl in her shack in the shanty town of Lakiya. Even over cities, one in ten incoming projectiles slips through.

 

Some wonder if Iron Dome’s main problem is in fact a political one. The system’s success means that Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has been able to use Iron Dome to maintain his policy of conflict management, with less fear of retaliation. “Iron Dome has altered the calculus of Israel’s political echelons in ways they have yet to understand,” says a former senior official. “It allows Israel to resist internal public and military pressure for a quick end to the conflict, and keep bombing Gaza.” It also provides some degree of immunity against other neighbours armed with missiles, such as the Lebanese Shias’ Hizbullah militia, or Syria, perhaps making the agreement of a lasting peace settlement seem less urgent. Nonetheless, as air-raid sirens sound, most Israelis are glad to have the protection of the Iron Dome.

 

What can we do about climate sceptics?

rtr28ag1.386c3a0d8d680fa7baf7166dc744dfe6

“Climate change is nonsense.” When De Telegraaf – the largest newspaper of the Netherlands – asked its readership last month to either agree or disagree with this statement in its daily readership poll, the result: 61% agreed. Eight out of ten respondents to the poll even said not to worry about the possible consequences of climate change.

These results are similar to a recent Gallup poll in the United States that ranked climate change, along with the quality of the environment, near the bottom of a list of 15 issues that Americans are worried about. Only 24% admitted that they worry about it a great deal, while twice as many said they worry a great deal about the size and power of the federal government.

Nearly 60 years since the Gilbert Plass 1956 study The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change accurately predicted the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate, many people are still not convinced that it is our unabated increase in CO2 emissions that is heating the planet and causing climate change.

The Dutch football coach Louis van Gaal once proclaimed at a press conference: “Am I the one who’s so smart, or are you so stupid?” It is tempting to bang your head on the table on hearing such numbers and move on because, hey, we are the ones who are right!

But perhaps it is worth investigating why there are still so many people who don’t believe that climate change is real as that may also explain inaction from politicians. The scientific proof seems overwhelming. Two weeks before De Telegraaf conducted its poll, a survey of over 12,000 peer-reviewed climate science papers found that 97% of scientists agree that climate change is real and is caused by humans.

But would this actually change the thinking and behaviour of the 61% who said that they think climate change is nonsense?

The doomsday scenarios, the overly scientific way of describing the issue and a lack of consensus in the climate change message are not helping.

The way climate change has been and is being communicated – the IPCC definition of climate change is no less than 123 words – is failing to convince the sceptics. And in Western democracies, politicians usually don’t act unless a sizeable majority backs them. This is, after all, how democracy works.

Perhaps the answer lies in neuroscience; what happens in our brain when we receive information? Professor Richard Boyatzis, of Case Western University in Ohio, has conducted extensive research in how the brain responds to negative and positive messages.

His research suggests that when hearing a negative message, parts of the brain are activated that are associated with narrowing attention, less compassion and more negative emotions. Arousal of strong negative emotions stimulates a part of our brain that invokes cognitive, emotional and perceptual impairment.

At the same time, positive emotions activate the part of our brain that stimulates well-being, better immune system functioning, and cognitive, emotional, and perceptual openness, and increases creativity.

Convincing people that climate change is real is perhaps a start, but it is not enough. Collective and decisive action is required, not only from governments and companies but also from consumers. To effect real change, we need a shift in behaviour.

People need to be inspired as well as convinced. To achieve that, perhaps the best brains in the marketing and advertising industry could figure out a way of reaching the climate sceptics in a positive, hopeful reflection of a desired future – a future without floods, severe weather events, rising food prices and other consequences of climate change.

Those messages should not be about the measures that need to be implemented or the metrics that need to be achieved, such as a certain-percentage cut in CO2 emissions.Research from Boyatzis has shown this confuses people and results in them shutting down cognitively, emotionally and perceptually.

We need to figure out a way to discuss the overall purpose, not the individual targets, of fighting climate change. The politicians can discuss the numbers.

Remember the Kyoto protocol? Well, CO2 emissions have increased 50% since then. Yet, we have failed to act.

We are the first generation to feel the full impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it. It is time for the best brains in the marketing, advertising, branding and communications industries to come together and develop an inspiring message, less dominated by science, on the greatest challenge we have ever faced.

Herman Betten is Communications Director for Royal DSM. Follow him on Twitter at@hermanb

Image: Graffiti art is seen on a wall next to the Regent’s Canal, in Camden in London December 22, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The rise of the right wing!

Image

 

“The world is round and politics takes us around”. The year is 2014 and the last established mainstream religion is 1400 old. Just when we thought that science and reason is getting entrenched in the public discourse, people have more spare time to create and innovate, compared to what our antecedents had 100 years back. The majority of the population is living in cities which are highly globalized, more people die of obesity related diseases than of hunger and famine. Education amongst the masses is heralding and virtually becoming free (MOOC) that is if you don’t consider the conventional education the only form of education. This is the era of trade, Internet, social media, free trade, information and that the world is one big home. Just when you thought the world is beautiful place to live in, which indeed it is, some organization don’t seem to be much gruntled with our close to good condition.
Right wing parties are on the rise, these political gangs are like a mosquito which ignores the immaculate body and sits on the wound, they make you portend and scare you, they are the “big brother” Geogre Orwell mention in his dystopian work 1984.
After the world war II which was caused by bigoted right wingers, the world witnessed unfathomable devastation that can be incepted by a meager ideology and the effects it can lead to are beyond human comprehension. After  the massive devastation caused by the war, the world witnessed some shifts in the global contours, the geometrical division of middle east, division and independence of India, the change of the world order and then the world came to an almost peace like situation, the developed world concentrated more on trade, making developing world a consumer of its production, technological innovation was on a rise and in order to supplement the growing desires of the developing world the developed world open its gate to immigrants to meet the labour shortage due to the ever increasing demand of goods and products, cultural cross pollination had begun, this was the era globalisation .

The developing world was soon keeping in pace with the developed, the military might of the countries was supplanted by the economic might. GDP’S started playing a more dominant role over nuclear arsenal.

The global economic meltdown lead to the (re)emeregence of right wing in Austria after the fall of the iron curtain this bores testimony to the fact that the politically hungry right wing had been waiting for an opportune time to prey upon the economically vulnerable people as the economic insecurity gives rise to populism, the media savvy right wing started its job from an Austrian news report, which stated “40,000 Romanian immigrants waiting on the border to enter Austria”, the indigenous population became more wary of the fact of losing their jobs, national security, their cultural and religious tradition as they were made to think by the right wing that these could be compromised, the right wingers  schmoozer built a state of fear amongst the people, like the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed that India is home 10 million Bangladeshi immigrants in the capital city of new Delhi. The right wingers use any weak thing as scapegoat by building fear, they arbitrarily define or construct an in-group and demonize pluralism and that is how they come to power but their power is more to do with siphoning of taxes paid by the people and propagating their bigoted agendas and corporate cronyism.

In Ukraine the west supported the neo-Nazis and they came to power after massive defiance. In the Middle-east the emirs and oligarchs retain the power by instilling a western fear amongst the masses by keeping them deliberately poor and uneducated to fulfill their vested interests. In India the rise of the BJP is also because of the abysmal situation of the economy leading to high rate of unemployment amongst the youth, In Sweden, Denmark, France, Finland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Immigrants and purported as a major fear by the right wingers and thereby consolidating vote of the intimidated they run the countries or to rightly say they run the “Republic of fear”.

Get Ready for a Russo-German Europe : The Two Powers That Will Decide Ukraine’s Fate — and the Region’s

Image

 

The last few weeks have revealed some important truths about Europe. Prior to the crisis in Ukraine, most Americans and Western Europeans had become used to a Franco-German Europe. In this version of Europe, which was designed after World War II to dampen one of the greatest state rivalries in history, France and Germany made the decisions, and Europe’s center of gravity was squarely in the West. But, these days, the real action happens further east. Ukraine, looking to overcome its Soviet past, was taking its first steps toward becoming one of the European Union’s largest and most populous members until Russia made its move to derail those plans. And Poland, for years considered a junior member of the European team, has risen as a leader by shepherding negotiations between former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and the Ukrainian opposition. In this new Europe, the Franco-German engine has been replaced by a Russo-German one: as the European Union moves eastward, settling its future borders and borderlands, it is Germany and Russia that will decide who is in and who is out — and under what terms.

To a large extent, the battle for Ukraine has become a battle over the shape that this Russo-German Europe will take. Russia, through its geopolitical boldness, aggression, and sense of entitlement, has proved willing to annex the territories that it wants, building up a Eurasian bloc to balance against the European Union. Ukraine is an essential part of that plan, and Crimea is the leading edge. Russia is very likely to keep what it has now seized, as it has in all other regional conflicts, and continue trying to use its position in Crimea to destabilize Ukraine. That will help Russia as it attempts to draw a sharp line between its values, culture, politics, and economy, and the West’s.

Thanks to Germany’s role as a key state in the European Union and its deep ties to Russia, it is the only country that could thwart or contain Russia’s grand geopolitical ambitions. It was particularly clear during European negotiations this week over possible sanctions on Russia for invading Crimea that Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe, would ultimately decide how much to pressure Russia and how to balance Europe’s desire to punish the country against its desire to bring Russia closer through economic engagement. Germany held the line against jumping too quickly to sanctions and, instead, channeled Western anger toward Russia into an “off-ramp” solution, in which Russians and the new Ukrainian government would hold direct talks about the future of Crimea, with international mediation.

And that hints at Germany’s reluctance to abandon its long game: Since the end of the Cold War, the country has emphasized economic engagement with Russia in the hope of ushering Russian society along toward modernization. It has sought to build a strong partnership with the Kremlin to underpin a peaceful order in Eastern Europe, just as it joined with France in Western Europe after World War II to prevent conflict there.

Thanks to Germany’s role as a key state in the European Union and its deep ties to Russia, it is the only country that could thwart or contain Russia’s grand geopolitical ambitions.

The strategy has deep historical roots: during World War II, German armies shot up dozens of Russian towns and cities and laid siege to St. Petersburg, starving over a million civilians there. Russia resisted at huge cost and then raped and pillaged its way back to Berlin for revenge, starving a million German POWs in return. Both armies marched through Ukraine and fought devastating battles there, including in Sevastopol. This terrible shared history brought Germany and Russia closer together after 1991 in an effort not to repeat it; Germany has taken great pains since then to court Russia and prevent the re-emergence of competition and conflict. It has offered its industrial might and know-how to Russia to help with important Russian infrastructure projects and industries. Russia has accepted and appreciated those overtures. It, too, has sought to develop a special relationship with Germany, treating Germany as a great power and providing Germany a direct link to Russian gas through its Nord Stream pipeline. This tight relationship — some say too tight — was symbolized by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder taking a well-compensated job with Gazprom upon leaving power in 2005.

The relationship hit new highs a few years ago, between 2008 and 2012, when Dmitri Medvedev served as president of Russia. Germans loved working with him and tended to regard him as a symbol of what a more modern Russia could be. They exalted him as a Russian political leader who spoke their language and supported liberal rights and freedoms. Europeans saw great promise in his Skolkovo initiative to turn Moscow into a high-tech hub, for example. But in their desperation for a good counterpart in Russia, Germans overestimated Medvedev’s importance.

Putin’s tumultuous re-ascension to power in 2012 — and Medvedev’s demotion back to prime minister — shattered Germany’s hopes. German political leaders saw clearly what some had argued all along — that Medvedev was nothing more than Putin’s puppet, a convenient liberal face to an otherwise autocratic reality. Putin’s eagerness to return to power at a time when many Russians wanted him to stay away, his tough talk, and his crackdown on protests in Moscow in 2011 showed that Russia was not, in fact, evolving. Since then, Germany increasingly has been forced to confront the fact that peaceful engagement and economic cooperation don’t always prevent conflict, especially with a Russia dedicated to authoritarian politics at home and expansionist policies abroad. For instance, in Moldova, Russia has launched an open campaign to prevent that country’s pro-Europe government from signing a European Association Agreement and also encouraged ethnic enclaves to break away. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has held the line on Europe’s support for Moldova’s EU ambitions.

As much as Germany has become disillusioned with Russia and would like to isolate it, it now finds doing so very difficult; Germany is inextricably linked to its eastern neighbor as a result of its geography and years of cooperation, competition, mutual benefit, and memories of mutual destruction.

Today, Russia is Germany’s 11th largest export market, after Poland. Russia sells Germany gas and oil and Germany sells Russia expensive cars, machine tools, and manufactured products. A trade embargo or asset confiscations would sting Germany more than any other European power — except Netherlands where Royal Dutch Shell has substantial interests — and far more than the United States. So would a gas cutoff or embargo. But Russia, of course, is far more dependent on the West than the West is on Russia. It needs Europe as a consumer of its oil and gas exports. It is dependent on Germany, in particular, for investment and technical expertise. Economic isolation would be damaging to both sides, but especially to Russia.

And that is why Russia, although it has marched into Crimea, has likely not won the war. Germany, having avoided coming to blows with Russia and having attempted to ease tensions, seems more determined than ever to take Ukraine under its economic wing. As Ukraine develops, it might be in a better position to assert its independence from the Russian empire. For now, German leaders have started to recover from the shock that Russia would disregard international law so blatantly in Crimea. Leaders in Russia and Germany understand the stakes in their competition to regulate European politics and economics. They are devoted to sharply diverging outcomes, but are also interested in finding a common ground to maintain the peace. Although the tussle in Crimea may end in stalemate, both powers will live to play another day and work toward a vision of Europe that is not yet shared, but could be. That Russo-German Europe is the Europe we will live with, for better or worse.

Source : ForeignAffairs.com