Saturday, November 17, 2018

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Monday, November 12, 2018

If You Want Peace, Prepare for Nuclear War

If You Want Peace, Prepare for Nuclear War

A Strategy for the New Great-Power Rivalry

ELBRIDGE COLBY is Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security. He served as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development in 2017–18.

Afghanistan and Russia: Still Searching for Appropriate Structures of Governance

On Friday, 9 November 2018, at the invitation of the Russian Government and under the chairmanship of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began what has been called “The Moscow Format” to end the armed conflicts and to find appropriate structures of governance in Afghanistan. Present for the first time were representatives of the Afghanistan High Peace Council – a government-appointed body charged with overseeing the peace process first appointed by then President Hamid Kassai and a five-member delegation of the Taliban from its political office in Doha, Qatar.  

Indicating an awareness of the trans-frontier aspects of the Afghanistan armed conflicts, there  were representatives from China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In practice each country has its favored groups within Afghanistan. The U.S.A. declined to participate but sent its  chief political officer from the Moscow Embassy as an “observer”.

This was the first time that representatives from all the concerned parties were in the same room at the same time.  In the past there have been back-channel bi-lateral meetings with the Taliban, especially in Qatar and bilateral discussions among government representatives elsewhere. However the Moscow Format was the first discussion held in public.

Sergei Lavrov articulated the long-range aim. “Russia stands for preserving the one and undivided Afghanistan in which all ot the ethnic groups that inhabit this country would live side by side peacefully and happily.”

The Taliban and Afghanistan High Peace Council each reiterated their unacceptable demands, but said that they were willing to meet again.  There were no sudden break-though to positions that could lead to negotiations and compromise, but none were expected.  The Moscow Format is a necessary first step on what is likely to be a long and difficult n process.  The Format recognizes that there are  important trans-frontier aspects and consequences of different types.

The trans-frontier aspect has been recently highlighted by the presence of fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) in Afghanistan but also in Turkmenistan, Tajikistan , and Uzbekistan.  As ISIS is pushed out of Syria and Iraq, fighters have wished to continue their fight elsewhere and have joined with existing militant Islamist groups existing elsewhere such as those in the Central Asian States and Afghanistan.  However, the ISIS fighters have not been welcomed by the Taliban and seem to be operating separately.

It is not clear that the Government and the Taliban are in a position to negotiate a country-wide cease-fire and the creation of a structured government administration.  It is thought by observers that 30 per cent of the  country is under the control of the Government and four per cent under the Taliban.  However, “control” does not necessarily mean  that there are administrative services of health, education and agricultural development.

Afghanistan began its first post-Royal republican life in 1972 under the leadership of Sadar Mohammed Daoud who ruled until 1979.  There were few changes from the royal period, the King having been a cousin  and brother-in-law of Daoud.  However, some ideas about the need to plan on a national level were introduced by Afghan students who had studies in the Soviet Union.  The coming to power of the Presidents Hafizullah Amin and Nur Taraki, both from rival factions of the Afghan Communist Party led to a vision of national planning and agricultural reform.  

However, both reforms were undertaken with little development of a favorable public opinion.  The agricultural reforms in particular led to resistance from local power holders.  This opposition seemed to put the whole State structure into question, leading to the Soviet intervention in the first days of 1980 to support the Government.

The Soviet intervention led to armed opposition and large areas of the country fell out of the range of any form of government services.  The Soviets withdrew in 1988 leaving a country without a national administration but with a host of armed groups holding political influence over small areas of the country.

By 1996, some of these armed groups which had come together under the name of Taliban (students of theology) were able to take control of Kabul and said that they were the government of the country.  In 2001, the Taliban were pushed out of power by U.S. forces, the U.S. Government holding them  responsible for the September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.  Since the end of 2001, there has been armed violence, a lack of economic development, and a  failure to find appropriate forms of governance.  There is a need to find appropriate forms of governance which are able to structure local traditions of social control, regional and ethnic-religious differences as well as having structures and services at the level of the State.

The Association of World Citizens has been involved since the early 1980s with discussions of appropriate forms of governance in Afghanistan.

The Ambassador Sayed Qassem Reshtia who had played a key role in the preparation of the 1964 Constitution which created a constitutional monarchy was living in exile in Geneva and was very helpful in giving background information.(1)  Dr Abdul Hakim Tabibi, the long-time Afghan Ambassador to the United Nations in New York until the Soviet intervention was also living in exile in Geneva and was most helpful with information and contacts. (2) In addition, there were Afghan intellectuals and opposition leaders passing through Geneva on their way to or from Rome where the former King Zaher Shah was living in exile.

Thus in 1983 the Association proposed that “there be a broadly-based, highly decentralized Government of National Reconciliation. Afghanistan is a country of great cultural diversity and a wide range of local conditions. Therefore, political and social decision-making must be made at the most local level possible.  There should be policies of local self-reliance based on existing regional and ethnic structures.  Such local self-government will mitigate against a ‘winner-take-all’ mentality of centralized political systems.”

The Association of World Citizens continues the con-federalist, decentralization, trans-frontier cooperation proposals of the world citizens Denis de Rougemont (1906 -1985) and Alenandre Marc (1904-2000). Thus the Association of World Citizens remains concerned with the efforts to find appropriate forms of governance  in Afghanistan.  We are still far from a condition in which “all of the ethnic groups live side by side peacefully and happily”   It took six years of negotiations in Geneva led by the experienced and skillful U.N. mediator Diego Cordovez to help in the decision of the Soviets to withdraw. (3)  It is to be seen if the Russian Government will appoint as skillful a diplomat to facilitate the Moscow Format.  We as non-governmental organization representatives must work together with the aim of the resolution of the armed conflicts and the creation of appropriate forms of governance  in view.


1) See Sayed Qassem Reshtia. The Price of Liberty. The Tragedy of Afghanistan (Rome: Bardi Editore, 1984)

2) See Abdul Hakim Tabibi. Afghanistan: A Nation in Love with Freedom

 (Cedar Rapids, IA: Igram Press, 1985)

3) Se Diego Cordovez and Selig S. Harrison. Out of Afghanistan: The inside story of the Soviet withdrawal (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995)

Dr.Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Saturday, November 10, 2018

‘Russiagate’ Is Revealing Alarming Truths About America’s Political-Media Elites

‘Russiagate’ Is Revealing Alarming Truths About America’s Political-Media Elites

Professor Stephen F. Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University, as well as a regular contributor to The Nation magazine. He is arguably America’s premiere Russian & USSR historian and expert on all aspects of US/Russia relations. If you want to keep up on current information about Russia and the US/Russia relationship, we highly recommend his weekly interviews on the John Batchelor Show.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

The U.S. Military’s Empire of Secrecy

“Democracy dies in darkness.” That’s an old saying that The Washington Post recycled as its motto at the dawn of the Trump era. Truth is, the journalists at the Post don’t know the half of it; nor do they bother to report on the genuine secrecy and increasing lack of transparency in the Department of Defense. Nothing against the Post—neither do any of the other mainstream media outlets.

Read here:

The U.S. Military’s Empire of Secrecy

Maj. Danny Sjursen, a Truthdig regular contributor, is a U.S. Army officer and former history instructor at West Point. He served tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has written a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, "Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge." He lives with his wife and four sons in Lawrence, Kan. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet and check out his new podcast "Fortress on a Hill," co-hosted with fellow vet Chris "Henri" Henrikson.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Why Bloomberg Got It Wrong

Why Bloomberg Got It Wrong?

Paul J. Saunders, executive director of the Center for the National Interest and associate publisher of the National Interest, was a State Department Senior Adviser during the 
President George W. Bush administration.

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Psychology Of Fascism

Dr. Robert J Burrowes
IAEWP Vice President - South Pacific

The continuing rise of fascism around the world is drawing increasing attention particularly as it takes firmer grip within national societies long seen to have rejected it.
Some recent studies have reminded us of the characteristics of fascist movements and individuals, particularly as they manifest among politically active fascists. For example, in his recent book How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us And Them Professor Jason Stanley has identified ten characteristics shared by fascists which have been simply presented in the article ‘Prof Sees Fascism Creeping In U.S.’
Please go here to continue reading:

Robert J. Burrowes
Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?‘ . His email address is and his website is at



Morality and international politics do not mix easily. For good reason. War is the distinguishing trait of relations among states. And war is all about killing and maiming other human beings. Of course, war is episodic rather than continual. But the ubiquity of conflict situations remains the hallmark of inter-state relations. Violence is omnipresent – in mind if not in act.

Yet, we are creatures who have an innate ethical sense albeit we also have the innate capability for harming others. The former has two sources. First, it derives from our awareness that survival as a species in competition with other species conveys a basic solidarity even as we contest with other humans – at times violently. Second, every organized society develops a code of conduct that proscribes a range of disruptive actions: violent attacks foremost among them. In effect, they extend the instincts/logic of family or tribal identity to an abstract grouping. Social morality in concept and doctrine derives from those elementary facts of collective life.

At the international level, there is no equivalent authoritative government, organized society or – above all – communal sentiment. Hence, the logic of realpolitik predominates. It is structurally determined whatever the proximate reasons for any particular war might be. Still, war as much as peace at any given time is a function of circumstances. The international disorder is not tantamount to a state of anarchy; violent conflict does not occur in the manner of collisions among billiard balls after the break.

So, how does morality/ethics enter into the picture?

1.     The moral standard applicable to political affairs is different from that applicable to individual behavior. The latter entails ultimate ends and abstract norms. The former gives place only to an “ethic of responsibility” – as Max Weber explained. No Ten Commandments or their counterpart in other religious traditions is an appropriate benchmark for appraising good or bad conduct.

2.     Violent actions taken against other societies usually are seen as requiring a justification. Not always, of course. At the extreme, there were the Huns, the Mongols, the Nazis who launched wars and committed atrocities because they felt like it or for self-glorification. For others, conquest was its own justification. Implicit in imperial expansion has been the notion that superiority itself endows conquest with rightness. For still others, the flame of ideology (religious or otherwise) ignites violent acts aimed at propagation of the TRUTH or to fulfill DESTINY.

3.     The more autocratic the ruler, the less accountable he or she is, the less need there is for justification. Therefore, the spread of literacy and the heightening of awareness among the mass (or some substantial segment) has made legitimation increasingly important. Popular democracy has made it an imperative.

4.     That need has proven less of a hindrance than Kant, and many others, presumed. However, justification of war does, as a consequence, draw upon some moral imagery. Where necessity is relatively less apparent, i.e. where defense of the native territory is not at issue, warring requires to be legitimated as ‘right.’

5.     A closely related, even more acute requirement, is to pursue war in a manner that conforms to general ethical standards. That has several aspects. There should be a persuasive explanation of why the country has to go to war  – that is one. Non-violent means of resolving the underlying conflicts should be pursued until proven futile – that is two. The minimum requisite force should be used – that is three.  Enemy troops should be treated humanely in accordance with the Geneva Convention and norms of the society – that’s four. Non-combatants (civilians) should be spared the dangers of combat whenever reasonably possible. That’s five.

6.     Here is where the question of war and morality gets interesting. For most of history, wars were fought between armies composed of ‘professionals’ and volunteers. They were limited in space and time. Battles were intermittent. Civilians suffered mainly from two causes: the disruption of normal civil life, and plunder. That changed with the advent of total war wherein the resources of entire societies (human and economic) were mobilized to fight prolonged wars. The logic of that circumstance made production sites and whole cities targets. Airplanes created the means to do so on a massive scale. Thus: Rotterdam, Coventry, Hamburg, Dresden, the fire-bombing of Tokyo and ultimately Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There was not any appreciable moral outrage about the resulting indiscriminate murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians.  Total war itself implied the highest stakes; therefore, everything goes.

7.     The experience of World War II did not bury the idea that there were ‘civilized’ standards of war which should be observed. The United States and other Western countries, in particular, continued to enunciate principles that forbade the committing of atrocities against individual civilians or defenseless prisoners. That code presumes that an identifiable soldier is in a position to decide whether or not to harm a vulnerable individual on the other side. In modern war, however, the ‘other side’ most often is not visible and the individual on our side does not have much discretion over how to act. Where those conditions do not obtain, ethical rules can still be applied: e.g. in the wake of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Admittedly, many atrocities are not acknowledged or they are covered-up. (By the way, the officer who composed the first draft of the initial My Lai whitewash for the U.S. Army was then Major Colin Powell – he of ‘aluminum tubes’ fame)

8.     Overall, there has been a loosening of ethical standards and less inclination to enforce them. That trend, in the U.S., has been greatly accentuated by the War On Terror. It has something to do with the level of emotion (the thirst for revenge in the wake of 9/11), the nature of counter-insurgency warfare, a heightened sense of vulnerability, the end of the draft and the professionalization of the armed forces, the widespread use of uncontrolled mercenaries, an inattentive public absorbed with their private lives. Torture was declared the official policy of the United States government and ordered from the White House. It was widely carried out not just at Guantanamo and the ‘black sites’ but in the field as well albeit with far less attention. Round-ups and detention of suspect populations were commonplace in Iraq. They again are being done in Iraq and Syria by our local allies with American backing. Abuse of civilians in ‘search-and-capture’ missions have been frequent and remain so in Afghanistan.

9.     Most serious are the enormous civilian casualties caused by American airstrikes and artillery barrages. Some, those resulting from strikes on compounds or groups of persons by drones and planes acting blindly or at the request of local parties with their own agenda (the Kunduz hospital massacre), are specific enough to involve individual victims and individual perpetrators. Not a single one has been identified and held accountable. Far more consequential are the attacks on population centers a la WW II. The initial assault on Iraq, “Shock & Awe,” killed thousands of Iraqis. The 2004 ‘liberation’ of Falluja killed an estimated few hundreds. (Leaving aside wounded in both cases). The ‘liberation’ of Mosul and Raqqa entailed massive firepower. 20,000 bombs or artillery shells landed on Raqqa alone. 90% of the city’s buildings are destroyed. No water, no electricity, little food – still. Untold thousands died as a direct result. Estimates by neutral, knowledgeable sources suggest deaths upwards of 40,000. Many are still buried in the rubble. The United States government denies these figures; its delayed, ever changing number is 300-400 hundred. One per every 50 loads of 500 pound bombs and shells. These are lies, of course – calculated lies.

10.      The discrepancy between the nominal dedication to observing humane standards of war, on the one hand, and the realities of methods, arms, and aims, on the other, has made lies and hypocrisy the norm. Self-interested parties accept that. The public sublimates it. The racists and neo-Fascists who go berserk at Trump rallies celebrate it – as does the Orangutan himself.

11.      This is the background to the American reaction to the killing and dismemberment of Khashoggi by the Trump family’s close friend Mohammed bin-Salman. There is not much mystery about MBS’ behavior. He is an ego-maniac, somewhat unhinged, who is drunk with power and accustomed to torture and kill at whim. His campaign of annihilation against the Houthis of Yemen indicates the depths of his depravity and the scope of his ambition. So, too, his imprisoning of 400 wealthy Saudis in the Riyadh Ritz Carlton where they were physically abused until they coughed up their riches for his personal use (e.g. spending $500 million for a mislabeled ‘Leonardo’ painting). A good imitation of Caligula and Nero. So, too, his kidnapping and physical abuse of the Prime Minister of Lebanon (Saad Hariri) – who owed MBS money and, therefore, political fealty. In these ruthless ventures, he has been encouraged by the American government. The Saudi bombing of Yemen to smithereens literally, physically could not happen without participation of the Pentagon. It flies the refueling planes without which his air force could not reach their targets on two-way missions.  It provides the detailed electronic Intelligence critical to the mission. American military personnel sit in the very command rooms from which the operations are conducted. In addition, Washington provides unqualified diplomatic cover and justification. This policy was inaugurated by Barack Obama and continued by Trump. In legal terms, we are an accessory before, during and after the fact of MBS’ crimes in Yemen.

12.           What responsibility do we have for the Khashoggi murder? Our main responsibility lies in helping instill MBS’ deep sense of impunity. In addition, we encouraged the KAS’ alliance with Israel which gave MBS further confidence that active lobbying in Washington and the media would insulate him from any retribution. Hence, he is furious that some people in the West (not including the White House) are making such a fuss over the pedestrian act of whacking an annoying critic. Furthermore, we set the example and the precedent for the assassination of political enemies. Our program of drone killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Mali, Chad and a number of other countries has gone a long ways toward establishing the de facto legitimacy of extra-judicial murder as a standard combat tactic. In the United States, it is accepted as such. Indeed, it is praised by many as Obama’s one worthy contribution to the War On Terror since it involves no U.S. casualties – thereby, making prosecution of the War more palatable to the public. Targeted assassination is now in the playbook. The Israelis inaugurated it; we refined it and extended it; MBS emulates us; others will follow. The level of inhibition varies from leader and by target. American’s singular influence in setting fashions means that inhibition will weaken most everywhere and the range of individuals targeted will widen.

13.   The tactic of knocking-off the enemy’s chief has deep historical roots. In the age of kings and emperors, it was tempting to think of decapitating the opposition. Normally, it was a vain hope, though. They were out of reach. Also, there was always some inhibition since the prospect of retaliation in kind was unappealing. There was opportunity when a valiant leader took the field at the head of his troops – as did Alexander as well as several others. The annals are replete with tales of armies breaking and running when their champion was killed or incapacitated. In modern warfare, it is generally felt that no one leader is indispensable – certainly not generals. Think of Afghanistan, where the parade of American commanders now numbers 17, not due to attrition but rather to an odd ritual of rotation. Anyway, it has been a totally irrelevant factor – like quarterbacks for the Cleveland Browns or managers of West Ham. Robots would have done as well – or as badly. (In WW II, political leaders of extraordinary stature could make a difference: Hitler, Stalin, Roosevelt, Churchill).

Multiple assassinations as a method for thinning the enemies’ leadership ranks is something new. This novel notion has emerged from the endless cogitations on how to eliminate insurgent movements, especially jihadists ones of the Islamic persuasion. Its net effectiveness is immeasurable to date. It is fair to say that never before in the annals of warfare has a fighting force been found to have so many (nominal) commanders and sub-commanders, treasurers and propaganda chiefs as recorded on kill lists and successful executions.

14.    The public reaction in the United States to Khashoggi’s grisly murder reveals some singular features of the prevailing attitude toward morality in foreign policy. The wide difference between the killing of one man in Istanbul and the decimation of thousands in Yemen by the same hand stands out – that is one. Anonymous murder on a mass scale is somehow less repugnant than the murder of one readily identifiable person by identifiable individuals – that is two. This common human trait is exaggerated by the decision of the mass media to ignore the human suffering in Yemen. That is three. If their fate had been given the graphic 24/7 publicity that deaths in Aleppo and East Ghouta allegedly caused by shelling from government forces (and fictitious gas attacks) were given, it would have registered. In the former case, you had a seemingly black-and-white story line pushed by the U.S. government – however confected – and colorized by the CIA/MI6 agents: the White Helmets. There was neither the political nor commercial motivation to lend the Yemeni atrocities similar treatment.

Morality counts for Americans. It still does even as the country has committed to playing the game of power politics most everybody else does, even as it has committed to a strategy of global dominance – by means violent as well as peaceable. They remain wedded to the belief that we are a moral people who compose a moral nation which follows the course of righteousness in the world. “When conquer we must, for our cause it is just; let this be our motto: In God is our trust.” Some acknowledge a few minor deviations; most do not go even that far. Hiroshima/Nagasaki? “We had no choice – it was them or us (hundreds of thousands G.I. casualties on the Honshu plain)”. Vietnam? Erase it from the national memory book.  The illegal invasion of Iraq? 9/11 or “we were misinformed.”  Guantanamo? Torture? ‘We have to protect ourselves?’ Raqqa? “Who’s he?” Yemen genocide? “Wasn’t the Boston bombing also genocide?” Imperialism? ‘We’re surrounded by enemies trying to do us in: Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, Venezuela, Pakistan, Mexico, Honduras’ (check your daily news source for fresh additions to the list).’

This unthinking mental universe permits us to perpetuate other myths about our place in the world. We hear senior network journalists intone somberly that: “some in Washington worry that a weak reaction to the Khashoggi death will hurt our moral standing in the world – especially in the Middle East.”  She probably does actually believe that the United States still has an exceptional moral standing to lose. Even after the record of the past few decades. Even after the kidnapping of thousands of children from their parents, scattering them to the four winds, leaving them at the mercy of predatory business outfits, and accepting that some inescapably will wind up in the hands of human traffickers. (The President’s implied message: “to Hell with the little bastards. It’s their mothers’ fault, anyway. We have to have an effective deterrence strategy – otherwise, we’ll be swamped by murderers and rapists. And I can’t let down my supporters who hate them even more than I do”).  Even though it is inconceivable that any of our major friends and allies could be so calculatingly immoral. There is the tragedy – for everyone.

For the America that so many looked to for guidance in seeking enlightened political truth has become the model and inspiration for those who seek to evade it.

Views expressed are personal.


Michael Brenner is Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS/Johns Hopkins. He was the Director of the International Relations; Global Studies Program at the University of Texas. He has held other teaching and research appointments at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Berkeley and the Brookings Institution. Brenner is the author of numerous books, and over 100 articles and published papers on foreign policy and politics. He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and other news media.

UN Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 1325

On 31 October 2002, the UN Security Council adopted unanimously Resolution 1325  (2000)  urging “Member States to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts.”  Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security was the first time that the UN Security Council acknowledged that women play a key role in promoting sustainable peace and stressed the participation of women in peace processes from the prevention of conflict, to negotiations, to post-war reconstruction and reconciliation.

Work for such a resolution in the Security Council had begun at least five years earlier at the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women with its Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and especially at the non-governmental forum which had been held just outside Beijing, where peacemaking was an important theme.  It was thought that a resolution by the UN Security Council would have the most impact since the Security Council rarely discussed social issues. There had been numerous resolutions of the UN Economic and Social Council or the UN Commission on Human Rights dealing with the equality and importance of women.  However such resolutions had had limited impact on national governments’ policy or UN agencies.  A UN Security Council resolution would get more attention and indicate a link between the security of States —  the chief mandate of the Security Council — and what was increasingly called ‘human security’ — that is, the security of people.

It was important to find the balance between calling attention to the special needs of women and children in times of conflict and yet not to reinforce the stereotype of women as victims only.  Thus, there was a need to stress the important positive role that women play as peace-builders and their potential role in peace processes and negotiations.

Resolution 1325 is an important building tool for the role of women in peacemaking.  The resolution, by itself, has not changed things radically.  There are still few women at the table when serious peace negotiations or re-construction planning is undertaken. In fact there are relatively few formal peace negotiations to help resolve armed conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya.  The United Nations has provided mediators, but the armed groups are not speaking to each other at least not in public. For the moment, the best that can be done is to help create an atmosphere in which negotiations would be possible.  Here women already play an active role, but more needs to be done.  Resolution 1325 sets out the guidelines, and now NGOs, governments, and UN agencies can work to transform these guidelines and norms into practice.

Dr. René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tulsi Gabbard on the Trump Administration’s Push for War in Syria

September 20, 2018

The congresswoman has accused President Trump and Vice President Pence of protecting “al-Qaeda and other jihadist forces in Syria.”
By James Carden
James W. Carden is a contributing writer at The Nation and the executive editor for the American Committee for East-West Accord.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Who Putin is NOT

tephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at Princeton and NYU, and John Batchelor continue their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fifth year, are at This post is different. The conversation was based on Cohen’s article below, completed the day of the broadcast.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

World Citizen Values and Nationalism

In his 25 September address to the United Nations General Assembly, U.S. President Trump set out clearly, if not eloquently, the narrow nationalist framework for political policymaking:

 “We reject the ideology of globalism and accept the doctrine of patriotism.”

The narrow nationalist framework is shared by a good number of leaders of the Member States, but they have the good taste to express it elsewhere than at the U.N. General Assembly.  The idea is not radically new.  Charles Maurras (1886-1952) the French nationalist ideologue who published some 10,000 articles, most in L’Action Francaise, had as his motto “La France Seule” (France Alone).  The French President, Emmanuel Macron, probably not a reader of Maurras, speaking just after Trump, replied,
Nationalism  always  leads to defeat.  If courage is lacking in the defense of fundamental principles, international order becomes fragile, and this can lead, as we have seen twice, to global war.”
The Association of World Citizens defends the fundamental principles of international order – what we call World Citizen Values: equality, respect, cooperation and living in harmony with Nature.  It is on these values that we can build a harmonious world society.

Today, the world society faces four interrelated challenges: climate change, migration, persistent poverty and armed conflicts.  

Thus, we must look at the ways that governments deal with these four issues.  There are efforts made at the national and the U.N. level to deal with all four issues, but often with separate programs in separate forums or structures. 

 The same holds true for nongovernmental organizations that are in consultative status with the U.N. However, it is easier for NGO leadership to have a holistic approach.  NGOs working with migration and refugees are acutely aware of the consequences of armed conflict from which people flee and of poverty from which people migrate in the hope of finding a better life elsewhere.

The U.N. has provided mediators for some current armed conflicts such as Yemen, Syria, and Libya, and UN buildings such as the Palais des Nations in Geneva, have been used for some of the talks. Yet the conflicts continue.  One cannot say that mediation has “failed” as the mediator serves primarily as a “go-between” among factions, rarely offering “solutions” of his own.  

Thus, mediation continues; it is the armed factions that have “failed”.

In other cases, such as South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic, U.N. mediation efforts are linked to the deployment of U.N.-mandated armed forces.  Again, each of these armed conflicts continues.  The presence or not of U.N. peacekeeping troops is not a deciding factor for negotiations among the armed factions.

If “globalism” means action through the U.N. or other regional multi-governmental bodies such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), then “globalism” in itself does not “solve” many armed conflicts or regional tensions.

However, we can also ask if “patriotism” – meaning a narrow national-interest framework for decision making is really a viable alternative.  When Hans J. Morgenthau wrote his widely read book, In Defense of National Interest (1951), he was concerned with the “globalist” ideologies and practices of the Soviet Union and the U.S.A.  Both leaders of power blocs involved themselves in armed conflicts where they had no vital interest but were concerned that an ideological opponent might come to power.  Thus Morgenthau’s opposition to the U.S. war in Vietnam.  The same reasoning would hold for the USSR intervention in Afghanistan.  “National interest” can be a restraining framework – “Do I really want to get involved there?” However, national interest can also be used to defend an expansionist policy: “U.S. access to Middle East oil is in U.S. nationalist interest.”  National interest is most often used as a consideration for military action rather than for efforts at mediation.

President Trump has set out the lines for debate at the level of the United Nations as the Presidents of Poland and Hungary have done for the European Union.  We have to thank them for bringing the debate to the fore.

The position of the Association of World Citizens is clear.  We believe that we need to explore the ways to live as one global family protecting the Planet with a sense of responsibility for both present and future generations.  We do not have the same access to the media as President Trump or the Presidents of Hungary and Poland, but a crucial debate is on the way concerning the ways the world society is to be organized.  We need to be an active part of this great debate on which much of the future rests.

Dr. René Wadlow is  President and U.N. representative (Geneva) of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The PROJECT 100 Years of Peace (1918-2018)

                                   Ideas, Actions and Lives to Build Up Peace
In the twentieth century the violence of the two World Wars, of genocides and mass destructions was manifested, but also the novelty of nonviolence as a political doctrine, which was translated into new modes of struggle and liberation.

For years here at the Centro Studi Sereno Regis we have felt the need for a new narration: human history, which from elementary school to university is told as a series of wars, has actually flourished and been built in times of peace too; civil progress, social and environmental achievements, rights, constitutions, are the result of the slow and tenacious cooperation between people, not the result of violent conflicts.

This project invites to look at history in a different way. It tells a History not yet told and offers new horizons. The images, the documents, the testimonies collected here allow to learn, deepen, explore new perspectives, and to collaborate, with aim of building together a present and a future rooted in nonviolence.

Monday, October 15, 2018

UN is running out of money warns secretary-general

UN is running out of money and member states should pay what they owe, warns Secretary-General

Women's Critical Role in the Food Chain

Women's Critical Role in the Food Chain
by Rene Wadlow

15 October is the U.N. designated International Day of Rural  Women.  It is a day in which to highlight the need to increase food production, especially in those countries that face a persistent food deficit.  There is a need to increase production,  create better storage methods to prevent post-harvest loss, and improve distribution methods.


play a crucial role in every link of the food chain: production, storage, marketing, and finally in the preparation of food for the family.  Therefore it is important to look at some of the blocks and drawbacks that prevent better production and to analyse the persistent inequalities and discrimination that women face at the village level — discrimination in schooling, especially at the technical and higher levels, discrimination in land ownership and land tenure, discrimination in inheritance of land and access to resources. We must look at what factors stand in the way of transforming gender relations and of eliminating gender inequalities.  Promoting gender equality is an important part of a development strategy that seeks to enable all people — women and men alike — to escape poverty and to improve their standard of living.

We must look not only at drawbacks but give special attention to methods used for the empowerment of women and gender equality in the food cycle. There are a growing number of households headed by women in rural areas.  The reasons vary but most often the reasons are associated with migrations, divorce, abandonment, widowhood, civil strife, and absent-father adolescent parenthood. I will use examples from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where I have worked.

The division of labor between men and women in agriculture can vary greatly from one ethnic group to another even within a limited region and often concerning the same crops and activities.  That is why all generations are dangerous and why detailed study of specific patterns is important.  A useful tool for study is the gender tool kits prepared by the World Bank’s Gender Analysis and Policy Section.  While one may be justly critical of some of the World Bank’s loans and policy directives, the Bank has developed good guides for research such as Monica Fong and Anjana Bhushan’s Toolkit on Gender in Agriculture. See the Bank’s GenderNet The Net has two subsection on gender in Africa and gender in Latin America and the Caribbean. (1)

While recalling the danger of generalizations, there are nevertheless certain patterns that one finds so often that such patterns merit special attention — such as food preparation nearly exclusively by women.  Thus it is important to note both the work in the fields, at the market, but also in the home with the preparation of food and care of children if we want to have a complete picture of the role of women. Household division of labor needs to be looked at closely.  Because women in Vietnam do the household budgeting, it is often assumed that women do not need independent access to resources and that they have full control over household income regardless of who earns it.  Field research now indicates that this is not always the case and thus it is necessary to look closely at the decision-making structure of rural households to see if there are unmet needs.

It is also important to look at trends.  Thus a field study has shown that in parts of Uganda traditional food crops such as maize and beans are increasingly commercialized by men rather than women as in the past. Now, it is often the husband who has taken over the selling of crops and the collection of payments.  As the price of food has gone up, women have become increasingly marginalized rather than empowered.  The asymmetry of power between men and women remains a pervasive trait of gender relations throughout the world.  When there are new ways to make money, men will push to get a major share.

In addition to the physical divisions of labor between women and men, with which the World Bank guides help us, we must also look at the belief systems, the agricultural rituals and ceremonies.  The world of the spirits is often sharply divided between the masculine and the feminine — the Yin and the Yang.  Among the Fali of Northern Cameroon, fields are designated as masculine or feminine.  Thus a female seed must be planted in a male field and a male seed in a female field. See Jean-Paul Lebeuf  L’habitation des Fali (Paris 1962)
The woman, who brings a child into the world, has a particular role in the fertility of crops — often being the only one who can plant seeds.  Among many African groups, the corn seeds are first dipped in menstrual blood before planting, while at other times menstrual blood is considered unclean and certain places or activities are forbidden to the women during this period.

The image of a women as the ‘mother’ of the plant or a tree is a wide-spread image even in those societies where there is gender inequality in other ways.  The world of the spirits is often overlooked by development agencies though the system of belief is the background for all agricultural development.  See Maning Nash The Golden Road to Modernity: Village Life in Contemporary Burma (New York, 1965).

The current interest in micro-finance and micro-enterprises has highlighted the role of women in the production and marketing of food and village-made handicrafts.  The loan recovery rate of loans to women is very high. However, many loans are on a very short-term basis, and the commercial activity is often too small to grow beyond self-employment.  There is a need to teach women financial planning skills so that their enterprises may grow and thus increase employment of others.  Efforts should be made to link financial services to skill development training.  Financial services must be established closer to homes, markets and work places so that women can have greater access to savings and credit.

The transformation of women’s economic activities requires profound reforms, for example: policies giving women access to land and assets, credit and appropriate technology, greater training and measures to promote independent work by women.  If women are to benefit from their already considerable role in food production, more gender sensitive approaches are needed in the formation of economic and social development programs.

1) In addition see two research programs of the U.N. Research Institute for Social Development. The first was a series of reports on popular participation underlining the role of women in agricultural movements for greater justice and land rights. See Gail Omvedt. Women in Popular Movements: India and Thailand during the Decade of Women (Geneva: UNRISD, 1986.
The second UNRISD program was a systematic approach of looking at the food chain from seed to food on the table showing who is active at every stage.  See Rolando Garcia. Food System and Society: A Conceptual and Methodological Challenge (Geneva: UNRISD, 1984)


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens