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CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS, TRENDS & IDEAS

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Europe

Deconstructing the Context of Appointing the Next UN Figurehead

in Diplomacy/Europe/Law/US by

The UN, as Paul Kennedy so lucidly describes in his book “The Parliament of Man,” is an indispensable global institution. Yet at its core it remains a fallible, if not a blatantly limited institution driven very often by the interests and caprices of its most powerful member states. Come January 1, 2017, this seven-decade-old institution will welcome its new figurehead in what will once again be the culmination of the realities of the shrewdest tenderloins of great power politics. According to Article 97 of Chapter 15 of the UN Charter, “The Secretary-General shall be appointed by the General Assembly (GA) upon the recommendation of the Security Council (SC).” This clause remains deliberately ambiguous about the qualifications of potential candidates. The closest to specifying the qualifications for appointment came in the form of a 1946 General Assembly Resolution 11/1 saying a candidate must be a “man of eminence and high attainment.” The selection process, according to the same resolution, is to be carried out through a process of secret balloting by the Security Council; the chosen candidate is then recommended to the General Assembly for approval, thus setting the tone for what has become a sort of customary law in the…

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Welcome to the Foreign Policy of Nihilism: Kremlin Style

in Asia/Diplomacy/Europe/Security by
Nihilism

After going head-to-head with the West over Ukraine, and to a lesser degree over Georgia, Russia is still making waves on the international stage. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, Premier Dmitri Medvedev minced no words in stating the Kremlin’s reading of the current geopolitical order—a cynical Cold War.[1] The Kremlin is all but confounding its critics and staking its strategic claims more vociferously than at any time in the post-Cold War era. Russia’s recent foreign policy posture is predicated on shrewd nihilism, as demonstrated in Georgia, Ukraine, Libya and Syria. This sense of nihilism owes its origins to a tradition that goes back to pre-revolutionary Russia, seeping into the Marxist-Leninist policies of braggadocios interventionism. It is premised on a crude sense of viewing the world as a contested space of interests that are disguised in value-laden narratives.

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The Tragedy of Western Triumphalism in Ukraine

in Diplomacy/Europe/Politics by
Kerry meets Petro Poroshenko February_2015

A report by the British House of Lords chaired by Lord Tugendhat concluded that Europe sleepwalked into the conflict in Ukraine through a catastrophic misreading of the mood in the run-up to the crisis. As the report rightly indicated, there is good reason to question the institutional thinking within the Western political elite. Despite President Petro Poroshenko’s initial grandstanding, the needless suffering of Ukrainian people of all political stripes further confounds the logic of the West’s triumphalist attitude going into Ukraine.

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Europe’s Migrant Crisis – of the 5th Century

in Europe/Middle East/Politics by
syrian refugees budapest

Rome was not built in a day, the saying goes. Yet the idea of a rapid “fall of Rome” seems to be commonly accepted: non-Roman barbarian “others,” taking advantage of Roman weakness, pouring across the borders and tearing down civilization, leaving Europe in a cultural backwater for the next millennium. This is an image which easily captures the imagination, and it fits into the general narrative of the Middle Ages as a generally backward, barbaric era. It has unrelentingly maintained its grip on minds, child and adult alike, even over the protests of professional historians who frown upon the use of that demeaning, and inaccurate, term “the Dark Ages.” Such a pessimistic view of an entire thousand plus years of European history is in fact the result of successful propaganda by Renaissance-era thinkers, who sought to emphasize their achievements by contrasting their time period with the alleged barbarism and darkness of the centuries before them and signaling a return to the cultural and intellectual glory of classical Europe (hence a “rebirth”). And the beginning of all the darkness of the Middle Ages begins with the so-called “fall of Rome,” precipitated by the mass movements of barbarian tribes who allegedly did…

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Poland Shocks The Visegrad Group: An Uncertain Future For The V4

in Diplomacy/Europe/Security by
Vise grad Group Meeting Prague

The Visegrad Group (V4) made up of Poland, Slovakia, The Czech Republic and Hungary are an often overlooked bloc of Central European powers. Originally a “triangle” of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary created in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the now four members (after 1993) of the Visegrad Group have worked together with various degrees of closeness and success. Originally set with the task of developing capitalist and democratic institutions in the post-Soviet era, the largely informal meetings between the V4 countries helped achieve remarkable results for countries who had until then stagnated under the Soviet system. Following this success, it was no surprise when the raison d’être of the group shifted towards joining NATO (1999 except for Slovakia in 2004) and the EU (2004), further integrating the former Soviet countries into the larger European system. Now integrated into a well established institutional political framework, the members of the V4 no longer had much reason for the Visegrad Group. Indeed, the ethnic and linguistic differences between the Slavic Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks with the Hungarians means that little cultural unity existed beyond a shared bond of Soviet-subjugation. Then perhaps unsurprisingly it was Russia’s response to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the…

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Bringing Football to Asia

in Asia/Business/Europe by
manchester united china fans

Chinese president Xi Jinping has set his country’s national football team three targets to aim for: qualify for the FIFA World Cup, host it, and win it. Football has even been made compulsory in national schools, and projects for the construction of sports grounds have been passed swiftly to ensure the country can achieve its hat trick. As amusing as it may sound, Xi is by no means in the minority when he expresses his obsession and hopes for the sport. The hype over football has reached new heights, especially since the commercial success of January’s Asian Cup, a strong indicator of the game’s popularity across the continent of 4 billion. When the national teams aren’t playing however, the majority of attention is given to overseas European football rather than local teams. Worldwide interest has skyrocketed over the past decade and a half due to weekly coverage in mass media and on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, connecting fans on both national and international levels to these teams. But why is European football especially popular in Asia? For the English Premier League alone there are an estimated 820 million supporters in Asia, according to sports research company Repucom.…

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Blaming Europe and Arresting Smugglers Will Not Solve the Mediterranean Migrant-Crisis

in Africa/Diplomacy/Europe/Human Rights/Security by

The United Nations estimates 60,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean this year. Nearly 2,000 have died this year trying to reach Europe from Africa. This is a 20-fold increase for the same time period in 2014 where fewer than 100 perished at sea. 800 of these deaths occurred in the middle of April off the coast of Libya when a fishing trawler collided with a Portuguese container ship. The current lack of law and order in Libya has led to a situation where no state entity is able to control territory, borders – and or sea. As such, hordes of smuggling gangs have manifested and acted with impunity. Migrants hoping to reach Europe are often told they are purchasing a seat on a “big boat.” More often than not, however, what is waiting is a small dinghy where they are forced to enter at gunpoint. Those who refuse are reported to be shot. Before boarding, migrants are held prisoners on a farm for weeks and sometimes even months before departure where reports have emerged of abuse, beatings, sickness, starvation, and death. Survivors of the accident mentioned above claim the smugglers wanted to fit 1,200 people on the 66-foot boat. Those…

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