Turkey (SCF) – Among the major geopolitical challenges of 2017 that could seriously alter the balance of power in the international arena, particular attention should be given to the developing situation in Turkey. The final weeks of 2016 showed increasing cooperation…
The New York Times reported on Sunday that US special forces have been deployed in a number of Baltic states in order to ‘counter possible Russian aggression’ and ‘shadowy efforts’ by Moscow to destabilize the region.
This announcement comes amid a tour of Eastern Europe by several prominent US politicians, led by none other than notorious war hawks, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. The tour reached a peak over New Year’s weekend with McCain making an appearance with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the war ravaged Donbas region.
WHAT DOES Hung Hsiu-Chu intend to achieve with her upcoming visit to the US in January? Most likely, the timing of the trip is because Hung’s ideological rival, current president Tsai Ing-Wen, will make a stopover in the US in January en route to an official diplomatic visit with Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, four of the 21 remaining countries which still acknowledge the sovereignty of the Republic of China. While it known that Tsai will meet with US government officials during her stopover, it has been rumored that Tsai will meet with US president-elect Donald Trump. Although such a meeting is highly unlikely, such rumors come after the diplomatic shake-up that occurred in wake of the phone call between Tsai Ing-Wen and Donald Trump which occurred in December.
Indeed, would Hung herself seek a meeting with Trump? If it probably would be too sensitive for Trump and Tsai to have a face-to-face meeting, never mind the unprecedented nature of the Tsai-Trump phone call, Trump would probably never meet with Hung. But Hung could still do much damage on her trip, such as taking advantage of her trip to paint a picture of Taiwan which suggests that Taiwanese are in fact, in favor of Chinese unification, with Tsai being an outlier, or more likely, attempting to create the perception that Taiwanese are more divided on unification/independence issues than they actually are.
The United Nations Security Council was scheduled to vote the evening of December 20 on a resolution demanding Israel halt its settlement expansion policies in all Palestinian territories it occupies. However, according to a UN diplomatic source the vote has been postponed and the new date “is yet unkown.”
The resolution, drafted by Egypt, demands “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement expansion activities in occupied Palestinian territory, including al-Quds.”
It states such activity is “dangerously imperilling” a two-state solution, and calls for the UN to take “affirmative steps” to reverse this conduct “on the ground.”
For the last few months, the Dakota Access Pipeline has captured the nation’s attention. After Energy Transfer Partners started construction on a pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation, local Native American tribes protested the pipeline on the grounds that it could pollute their water supplies. Word of the protests spread and thousands of protesters flocked to Standing Rock. After months of confrontations between protesters and militarized police, the Army Corps of Engineers paused the project pending an environmental impact assessment.
The Native American tribes and environmentalists hailed this development as a victory, albeit a temporary one. Donald Trump, who will soon be taking office, has vowed to complete the DAPL and has signaled a willingness to carry out this campaign promise by filling his administration with oil executives and people who have invested heavily in the project. As a result, anti-DAPL protesters are gearing up for a long protest season.
During the Cold War, the CIA did everything it’s accusing Russia of doing today — and more.
Even in an election year as shot through with conspiracy theories as this one, it would have been hard to imagine a bigger bombshell than Russia intervening to help Donald Trump. But that’s exactly what the CIA believes happened, or so unnamed “officials brief on the matter” told the Washington Post.
While Russia had long been blamed for hacking email accounts linked to the Clinton campaign, its motives had been shrouded in mystery. According to the Post, though, CIA officials recently presented Congress with a “a growing body of intelligence from multiple sources” that “electing Trump was Russia’s goal.”
The director of the CIA, John Brennan, has warned President-elect Donald Trump against resuming the use of torture.
Mr Brennan told the BBC, in an interview broadcast this morning, that “the overwhelming majority of CIA officers would not want to get back into” the use of torture such as waterboarding. He added: “Without a doubt the CIA really took some body blows as a result of its experiences.”
President-elect Trump has said he would “bring back waterboarding” and “a hell of a lot worse.” Last week, he told the New York Times that “if [torture] is so important to the American people, I would go for it.” Trump’s choice to succeed John Brennan as CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, has incorrectly suggested that torture is legal.
Donald Trump’s victory is a threat to human rights, but could it also push the movement to transform and strategize with greater urgency?
Donald Trump’s victory creates serious risks and challenges for human rights globally, but this victory could have an unexpected positive effect: to push the human rights movement to carry out transformations in its architecture and changes in its strategy that were imperative even before Trump, and that are now urgent.
Before the decline of the global Anglo-American order, reflected in Brexit, Trump, and the proliferation of illiberal nationalisms across the world, the answers that many analysts and practitioners in the human rights movement offered tended to be grouped in two extremes: skepticism and defensiveness. The skeptics announced the “end times” of the international project of human rights, based on a view that human rights were imposed by Euro-America. Given this view, the end of Pax Americana will also be the end of the movement, as Stephen Hopgood writes. His work is thought provoking and inexact in equal parts, and it forgets that this regime was built in part with the ideas and the pressure of states and movements of the global South, from those who created the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man in 1948 to postcolonial nations that pushed for treaties against racial and religious discrimination in the sixties.
We are entering a new utopian age. That may seem counterintuitive to suggest as the most right wing government since Thatcher leads the UK into a bleak post Brexit future, Trump prepares to enter the White House flanked by a team of white supremacists in the US, and the far right finds itself in ascendency across Europe, but it is happening.
Signs that a new utopian era is emerging can be read in the way we encounter these events as impossible: Brexit; Trump winning the Republican candidacy, and going on to defeat Clinton in the US presidential elections; even Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership contest. These all represent realities we collectively refused to conceive of as possible, until we awoke the next morning to find ourselves living them.
Impossibility, of course, is the territory of utopia.
For all the horrible chapters and faults of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), it seems President Obama was right about one thing – without the trade pact, southeast Asian countries are now looking to China for economic opportunity.
This past week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru, Barrack Obama spent his time addressing the representatives assuring them that the United States and the southeast Asian countries would continue to find a way to cooperate economically. Yet despite Obama’s optimism, the real winner that seems to be emerging from the summit is China.
As Iran prepares for a Trump presidency in Washington, Beijing and Tehran signed a cooperation agreement Monday to conduct joint military drills and “create a collective movement to confront” the threat of terrorism, according to Iran state television.
The two nations have been strengthening their military relationship in the last few years, sending naval ships to each other’s ports, helping to set the stage for the pact to be signed by Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and his Iranian counterpart General Hossein Dehghan.
Iranian outlet Tasnim News quoted Dehghan describing the collaboration as an “upgrade in long-term military and defense cooperation with China.”
Leftist demonstrators protesting against US President Barack Obama’s visit to Athens clashed with police, who used tear gas to disperse the crowd as people tried to break through cordons.
Some 7,000 people took to the streets of central Athens on Tuesday to protest Obama’s visit to the Greek capital. The demonstrators initially planned to walk all the way to the US Embassy located in another part of the city, but the procession was disrupted as protesters clashed with police officers.
“We don’t need protectors!” one of the banners carried by the demonstrators read. Some could be heard exclaiming: “Yankees go home!”
According to the polls, the overarching driving force behind Trump’s win was anger toward “elites.” Donald Trump’s election is a tremendous challenge for freedom. But like most challenges, it’s also an opportunity. We may have never had this much bipartisan, cross-ideological, popular support for wresting power away from government.
As Jeffrey Tucker put it, “Everyone underestimated the vulnerability of the status quo.” The existing power structures are weak. It’s time to hit them with everything we’ve got.
In case you need a refresher on how powerful our government has become, Donald Trump now commands: