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A love triangle geometrie variable – India, Russia and the US

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STRAP = The Modi-Obama romance won’t last as India’s relationship with the US does not have the kind of strategic dimension and weight that marks New Delhi’s ties with Moscow.

Russia is a country with which India has had a strategic relationship for decades. America is a place where Indians migrate to for a better lifestyle. That is how Indians view the world’s two leading powers. It’s as simple as that. US President Barrack Obama’s recent visit to India will not change that reality, and those speculating about dramatic changes in India’s foreign policy are either fools or amateurs – or both.

“Good relations with the US reflect aspiration, ties with Russia are hard reality,” says Bharat Karnad, professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research. “No substantive shift in policy is on the anvil, certainly nothing at the expense of India’s relations with Moscow, especially because, unlike the US, Russia has partnered, and continues to partner, India in strategically sensitive technology projects ranging from missiles, ship submersibles, ballistic, nuclear submarines to the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft,” he told Defense News.

Over the decades a clutch of US presidents has visited India. Likewise, Indian prime ministers have been to America. But the dynamics of the India-US relationship hasn’t changed much. And why would it? The US is the leader of the western world whose prosperity largely rests on the domination of the rest of the world. India, on the other hand, is a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) grouping that aims to end the American-led bloc’s dominance.

Modi’s operandi

So the question arises – why did Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Obama hastily arrange this Republic Day romance? The US position is easy to figure out. Having banned Modi from entering the country for a decade – a decision the Americans arrived at because of intense lobbying by Indian leftists, Indian Christians, American evangelical groups and Indian Muslim organisations – the US wanted to get into the newly elected and highly popular leader’s good books. You don’t remain on not speaking terms with the leader of the world’s second most populous country at a time when the most populous country (China) and the country with the most nuclear bombs (Russia) are growing closer.

Modi’s reason to forgive and forget the snub – which rankles every patriotic Indian – cannot be explained by the Hindu philosophy of “My Guest is my God”. Modi is too hardnosed for that kind of claptrap. It’s got to do with the fact that had Modi’s relationship with the US not thawed quickly after becoming prime minister, then taking its cue from the US the rest of the world too would have continued to treat him as an untouchable.

The Indian media would have willingly done their masters’ bidding and gone after Modi. The CIA plants would have once again raked up false stories about Modi’s involvement in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots. That Indian courts have cleared him does not matter to these anti-national elements. Therefore, it was internal politics that forced the new prime minister to invite Obama to the parade.

There is another key reason why an India-US romance is like spring in the Tundra – the Americans meddle in India’s internal affairs and the Russians do not.

On January 27, hours before boarding his flight to Saudi Arabia, Obama walked into territory he had no business to be. “Every person has the right to practise their faith, how they choose or to practise no faith at all, and to do so free from persecution and fear,” he preached to an audience of young Indians.

Obama was, of course, referring to the ruling BJP’s programme to reconvert Indian Muslims and Christians to Hinduism. It is no doubt a controversial issue but the US has absolutely no locus standi in the matter. Having almost annihilated the Native American race and ghettoised its black population, the US has no moral legitimacy left. In fact, wouldn’t it be great if Obama spoke about religious tolerance in Saudi Arabia as well. But no US president ever does that. Clearly, such sermonising is directed at soft states such as India.

Also, it was extremely churlish of a head of state to offer such a parting shot after enjoying Indian hospitality and adulation. Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited India a number of times but when was the last time he embarrassed his hosts like the Americans did?

Obama’s parting shot is no trivial issue. N.V. Subramanian, editor, Newsinsight, says: “It is traced to the US’ new ambassador to India, Richard Verma, who prompted its inclusion in the presidential speech likely at the instigation of US embassy staffers who were part of the earlier campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government has taken this protocol deviation in stride.”

Plus, the fact that Obama raised the touchy subject during a trip meant to build bridges is a pointer to the pressure the US leadership is under from American churches to press forward the case for the wholesale conversion of Indians to a particularly virulent form of evangelical Christianity. The danger for India is that these churches are directly connected with Indian Christian groups.

Vicious circle

Every time a US leader visits India, the media goes into a frenzy about how the visit is going to reshape the India-US relations. One tends to forget that such visits in the past had not produced much. Remember Jimmy Carter? When that lameduck American president visited India in 1978 the government renamed a village in Haryana after him. Whether Carterpuri is still around or has reverted to being Daulatpur Nasirabad is irrelevant, but after Ronald Reagan replaced Carter, India’s relationship with the US nosedived.

This time the Indian leadership didn’t go overboard. But the clueless Indian media has been speculating whether New Delhi’s relations with Washington will acquire a strategic edge. For those who anticipated a flood of American military technology into India’s manufacturing sector, here’s news – all that the US is offering is technology for developing a medium range drone. Yes, they are throwing India a toy.

The editor of an Indian magazine told this writer that he had come to know from “top government sources” that the Obama administration would offer India the F-35 stealth fighter and perhaps even the super secret F-22. He was politely told that India has no use for the failed F-35 and that US law prohibits the export of the F-22 stealth interceptor or its technologies. Besides, Russia and India are jointly developing the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft that is likely to be superior to the two American jets.

The reality is Indian military equipment will continue to be heavily Russia-centric. As well as stealth fighters, India and Russia are working together on high-octane weapons projects such as the Arihant nuclear submarine and BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. Then there’s the much feared Akula class nuclear attack submarine that Moscow has leased to the Indian Navy. A second nuclear powered submarine is expected to be leased soon. As Russian ambassador Alexander Kadakin says, no country except Russia will offer a nuclear submarine to India.

And finally, why is it that every American president when he comes to India says he, his wife, family, friends, teacher, butler and essentially the whole of the US is inspired by Gandhi? Whereas back home they are inspired by generals such as Alexander the Great, George Patton and George Washington. At any rate, it is a big lie. For, if indeed the US is inspired by Gandhi, it wouldn’t be fighting wars 24/7.

Unfortunately, no Indian takes offence to westerners constantly hyphenating India and Gandhi as if the country didn’t have any great leader in its over 5000 years of recorded history. On the contrary, many Indians seem to love it. This is exactly what the West wants – to box India in a peaceful mindset and emasculate its warlike spirit. For, if Indians remain peaceniks then it would be easier for the West to penetrate it yet again. Obama is sticking to that tired old script.

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Russia’s Cultural Diplomacy in Multipolar World. Africa’s Role, Challenges and Benefits

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After a careful research to find the meaning and implications of the term “multipolar world” often used these days, the freedictionary and englopedia offer insights as a system of world order in which the majority of global leading powers coordinate and commonly agree on economic, political and cultural influence and acceptable directions. 

Both dictionaries further explain that countries have multipolar approaches to foreign policy. Participating countries necessarily conceive multiple centers of power or influence in the world, have a multipolar approach to foreign policy. Multipolar world could mean the various differences in thoughts, views and ideas regarding anything in particular which different people desire to do across the world.

It appears from several reports that China and Russia intend to lead the new world order. Speeches from both sides are extremely critical on “based rules and regulations” given by the United States and Europe. The United States global dictatorship might end, so that the unipolar would then become a multi-polar world, in which democracy could actually thrive.

In practical terms and in order to lead multipolar system requires outward, broad and integrative approach. While China, to a large extent, has portrayed this practical approach which is readily seen around the world, Russia’s method is full of slogans, highly limited. With the emerging new global order, China appears more open and integrative than Russia. Despite the fact that it madly advocates for creating and ultimate establishment of this multipolar world, Russia exits significantly from the global stage, thus isolating itself and further contributing towards its own “cancel culture” instead of the opposite.

Whether people like it or not, the United States will conveniently operate within the emerging multipolar system. It has the instruments to operate within the framework of multilateralism and integrative multicultural environment. The United States is and remains as an “indispensable” power. Russia and a few of its allies in this evolutionary process, without adopting cautious steps and strategic approach, will definitely remain “dispensable” in the end.

In order to deepen our understanding of the emerging multipolar world, it is useful to make comparisons. The United States new strategy acknowledges that Africa will shape the future – not just the future of the African people, but of the world. And as such deals with the civil society, women and the youth which it refers to as the megaphone of governance. These have influence on policies and processes engaging policy-makers. 

It further works in various directions closely with the African Union, and one more new direction is the African diaspora. The United States has the largest African diaspora which has social inroads and business inter-linkages and a huge significant impact of developments inside Africa. These compared, Russia has grossly ignored African diaspora and even those African professional specialists it has indeed trained from Soviet times and currently. In the emerging new multipolar world, to overlook these would be a sad mistake from policy perspectives.

Russians seriously brush aside the relevance and the role of culture, for that matter soft power in foreign policy while advocating for this emerging new order. Examining, in broad terms, all aspects of culture that basically includes continuing the struggle for self-determination, for creating the grounded opportunity to live in peace and preserving one’s valuable traditions. Language, of course, plays its unifying role.

Some contradictions and different interpretations might exist. On the other hand, there are divergent views and different perceptions relating to the current geopolitical changes, but frankly speaking the study of foreign languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and the emerging interest in the Chinese and Russian languages, has been a long part of people’s lives, especially those who hope to move across borders and dream to have smooth interactions with other nationals from different countries around the world.

For the past three decades since the collapse of the Soviet era, Russian language studies has been low, for example among the African population primarily due to lack of overwhelming interest and adequate motivation, and lack of consistent interactive cultural activities by Russian authorities, experts at the Africa Studies Institute frequently say, and warmheartedly admit that things have slow with Russia’s return to Africa.

Most Africans prefer to study foreign languages to ensure smooth participation in interstate activities such as trade and in order to maintain relationship with people abroad. Foreign countries, for example Britain, the United States, European countries and now China are their traditional favorites. There are always interactive programmes and cultural activities throughout the year operated by foreign missions and NGOs.

Interpreted from different perspectives, Russia has not been a major economic giant in Africa compared to Western and European countries and China. Due to this historical truth, Africans have little interest in studying Russian language and its culture. The Russian language itself does not sound attractive in terms of its economic opportunity and therefore Africans prefer to study languages that readily offer opportunities. China is making huge contributions in the continent and this has made Africans see the need to understand the language in order to have better interaction with them.

The obvious worse-case scenario is that the Russian government has not created necessary conditions and reasons to study the language simply because it has little influence in the continent. Besides that, the trade and commercial links between Russia and Africa are quite negligible so there is no desperate demand for the Russian language for businessmen. Admittedly, Russia is not a welcoming holiday destination for African elites and the middle-class which twice the total population of Russia, and constitutes 40% of 1.3 billion population of Africa. Travel and tourism is an increasingly huge business, the unique geographical landscapes and changing attractiveness of Moscow, St Petersburg and Sochi – these are unknown to the African elite and the growing middle-class.

With the current evolving political and cultural processes, the West and Europe will still have a strong classical grip on Africa, influencing everything first from culture and tourism, and moving onward to politics and economics. Perhaps, Russia has to play correct strategic openness and welcome African travellers, tourists and visitors. Closing doors, in these critical times, might negatively distract Africa’s support for Russia.

The worrying tendency is that Rossotrudnichestvo, an agency under Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, pays little attention to educational and cultural questions in Africa, compared to its assertive counterparts – USAID, Alliance Française de France, The Goethe Institute, British Council, Instituto Cervantes that operate throughout the world.

Another Russian organization – Russkiy Mir Foundation, which is directly responsible for promoting Russian language and culture abroad, does extremely little in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, cultural officers work in all the 38 Russian embassies in Africa.

Russia appears quite removed from Africa’s development issues, it is only mentioned in limited areas like weapons and military equipment supplies to French-speaking West Africa. Nowadays, China is being viewed as a strong strategic partner in Africa given its (China’s) strong footprints in diverse economic sectors. China has more than 20 Confucius Centers, and a party school in Africa. Western and European, and China support civil society, youth programmes and women’s issues, – these are completely not on the Russia’s radar.

Russia allegedly allows its own ‘cancel culture’ and significantly not by the United States and its European allies. In practical terms, creating a multipolar system deals largely with cultural and social orientation, it deals with public perceptions through openness and friendliness. At this new historical reawakening stage, Russia has review itself and try to focus on building relations, both with substance, trustful and refined approach, and strategically engage with civil society, youth organizations and non-state institutions in Africa.

By and large, Russia has to intensify its people-to-people connections soft power and cultural diplomacy with Africa. There is a huge cultural gap of new thinking, working with young professionals and associations to promote people-to-people diplomacy through business links, cultural exchanges and competitions. As Russia charts loudly for multipolar system, this has to reflect in its current foreign policy and approach especially towards the developing world, in Latin America, Asia and Africa. 

Late October, during the final plenary session of the 19th meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club, the focus was on matters related to the changing geopolitics and civilisation diversity, the new world order and its future developments. Under the theme – “A Post-Hegemonic World: Justice and Security for Everyone” – the four day-long interactive meeting brought academic experts and researchers, politicians, diplomats and economists from Russia and 40 foreign countries.

President Vladimir Putin discussed, at considerable length, so many controversial questions. According to him, classic liberal ideology itself today has changed beyond recognition. Predicted the end of United States global dominance, but fell short in proposing an appropriate Russia’s template – the principles and mechanisms – for realizing the lofty idea and approach to establishing multipolar world.

Putin did not say anything about Russia becoming a power, but awarded that position to China. Giants like China, India and Indonesia with large population are showing economic growth; in Africa large countries – some of them with a population of 200 million – are emerging and making progress, as well as countries in Latin America.

According to him, Russia still have friends around the world. He mentioned that in Central America and Africa, the Russian flags are flying everywhere. “There are flags in European countries and in the United States too, we have many supporters there. By the way, a large proportion of the US population adhere to traditional values, and they are with us, we know this,” he added in his assertive conversation at the Valdai gathering.

Putin, along the line argued that the support for multipolar order largely exists in the global south. Russia is not the enemy and has never had any evil intentions as regards the European countries and the United States. He appreciated Africa’s struggle for independence and against colonialism. These absolutely unique relations were forged during the years when the Soviet Union and Russia supported African countries in their fight for freedom. 

In this context and in relation to Africa, Natalia Zaiser, Founder of the African Business Initiative Union, apparently talked about the new historical stage, need to establish new or different institutions of international partnership.

Her series of questions to Putin: “Mr President, what is your vision of a new international partnership institution? Which basis of parities is Russia ready to offer at the international level? Which mechanisms, tools and personalities are needed to acquire new allies, partners and friends, not at a declarative level but at the level of unquestionable responsibility in terms of agreements? Do you think we should also change or build up other approaches within the future international partnership?”

Putin’s answer was: “We must and we can focus on cooperation, primarily, with countries which have sovereignty in taking fundamental decisions. This is my first point. My second point is that we need to reach a consensus on each of these decisions. Third, we need to secure a balance of interests. As part of which institutions can we do this? Of course, these are primarily universal international organizations, and number one is with the United Nations.”

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Higher Education and Diplomacy: Essential Skills for Becoming a Diplomat

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Do you want to become a diplomat? Are you interested in learning more about diplomacy? If yes, you should know that diplomatic skills play a key role in today’s global society. Therefore, mastering these skills is crucial for students who aspire to pursue a career in international affairs or diplomacy.

A career in diplomacy requires specific knowledge and expertise beyond academic study. To achieve their goals. Young diplomats must master various aspects of communication and negotiation. With conflict management, crisis response, cultural awareness, and language proficiency.

“Diplomatic skills” encompass a wide range of abilities. From interpersonal relations to public speaking and effective leadership. These skills are essential in negotiating agreements between countries, improving trade relations, and resolving conflicts. Here are the crucial skills for becoming a diplomatic.

Education Requirements

Although there are no set educational prerequisites to enter the field of diplomacy. A degree in a relevant subject can help hone the abilities needed to succeed in the industry. Writing assignments are often very important for university students.

Most colleges require that students complete at least three academic papers per semester. And since these papers usually take several weeks to complete. You must learn to give yourself plenty of time to craft a high-quality piece. It would be best if you always doubled check the assignment requirements before starting to write your paper. Make sure you’ve covered every aspect of the assignment, use a Fixgerald plagiarism checker to ensure your papers are unique and meet the necessary requirements, and check your topic selection to referencing style. If you need help figuring out where to start, consider asking your professor for guidance.

Since diplomats might go in several different directions professionally. Knowledge in a wide range of disciplines is useful. All candidates, however, need to have a solid grasp of international relations and diplomacy. So many people choose to major in similar fields.

For example, a master’s in global studies and international relations prepares students to understand the complex interplay of politics, law, economics, and security worldwide.

You can choose from four concentrations. Thid includes global health and development, conflict resolution, diplomacy, and international economics and consulting.

Some Degrees Give You An Upper Hand

U.S. diplomats have varied levels of education, from high school diplomas to doctorates.

In a great number of nations, including the USA and UK, among others. To enter the diplomatic service, one must first score well on a general aptitude test. Candidates for FSO positions should therefore brush up on their foundational skills such as algebra, reading comprehension, and reasoning in advance of taking these exams. The purpose of such tests is to gauge the applicant’s general knowledge.

It is helpful but not required to have a background in history, politics, law, or human rights. Most embassies and consulates will tell you that learning about government and international politics is essential if you want to work in diplomacy as a career.

Learn More Languages

For the simple reason that the United States mandates pre-departure language training for all successful applicants. Being able to speak the language well is not a prerequisite for a diplomatic position. However, your application will stand out more if you have international experience and can speak two or more languages. It is more valuable than knowing Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, or Urdu to be able to speak and write your native language.

After a person has done well enough on the test to get in. Most embassies and consulates will perform exhaustive interviews and screenings to establish if a candidate is qualified for a foreign service position.

Be Prepared For The Challenges

The field of foreign service is a challenging one. The ability to keep in touch with loved ones is a challenge for FSOs. This is because officers frequently have to uproot their families in order to serve, and the job itself can be strenuous. However, this in no way diminishes the value of a career as an FSO. There are always a lot of prospective FSOs and experienced officers at an embassy or consulate, all of whom want to get posted somewhere exciting.

Rookies will generally be sent to the most dangerous places first. Since seniority is the most important factor in finding a new job. If you want to be a good FSO, you need to be able to adjust to change. They need to be self-aware enough to see when they need assistance, and determined enough to put in the work required to succeed.

Conclusion

Are you interested in studying to become a diplomat? There are plenty of opportunities, and you don’t even need to go abroad to get them. The reality is diplomacy is both a science and an art. And because it involves negotiation skills, communication ability, and conflict resolution. It requires specific skills. To become a good diplomat, you need to develop these essential skills.

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Religious diplomacy

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With the pandemic still hanging over our heads and a looming global recession, there’s a simple question before us: Will the world move forward–or fall back?

If we want freedom to spread, open societies to grow, trade to increase, and economic growth to advance, we must all see these as interconnected. They transcend day-to-day politics and grow instead from older, deeper sources, particularly religion. Not the kind imposed from above, but the kind that grows through and across societies and cultures. For those who understand the value of that kind of faith, what has happened in Bali, Indonesia must be engaged.

There is a remarkable convergence of religious wisdom and perspective in Indonesia this week; all the world needs to pay attention, especially the parts that might have looked down on the so-called Global South.  Recent weeks have seen contentious elections and surprising volatility even in the most stable countries. In Sweden, a nationalist party has surged to the forefront. In the United Kingdom, three Prime Ministers in a matter of months.

Beyond and behind these surprising headlines is a gathering global turbulence.

The institutions that inspired free trade, open borders and remarkable economic growth are deteriorating. We have several choices before us.

We can do nothing, but that would hardly provide us much hope for the future. We would only face greater headwinds and worse outcomes. We can replace those institutions, but there are few if any convincing or compelling ideas about what those substitutes would be. Or we can work to critically examine our institutions, see where their foundations are weakening, and seek out thoughtful ways to replenish and renew them.

In Bali, the R20 is launching to pursue that path of replenishment and renewal. Launching through and alongside the Group of 20 or G20, that body’s Religion Forum (“R20” for short) will mobilize faith leaders to ensure that religion functions as a genuine and dynamic source of peace, progress and prosperity in the 21st century. Among the R20’s goals is “infusing geopolitical and economic power structures with moral and spiritual values.”

One of the world’s senior Islamic scholars, Dr. Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, announced on day one of the R20: “Major global challenges today are not merely political or economic … They are moral. And navigating the world out of these crises requires moral leadership. This year, the world’s religious leaders are for the first time part of the G20. It is time we acknowledge that religion must be part of the solution for global crises.”

This is exactly what the G20 needs; even many of its most stable countries are stumbling. Like the United States, some lack shared unifying practices–a monarchy is one example–and so their polarization becomes ever more severe. Could thoughtful, compassionate, and genuine religious traditions, developed over generations to become meaningful pillars of diverse societies, be the answer?

As a member of the nobility of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu, a 600-year-old historical thalassocracy, I have dedicated many years working with traditional Islamic monarchies in Southeast Asia and have a unique viewpoint on why the R20 matters. Considering I was born in the Roman Catholic faith, this might be a rare perspective of course, since many in the West–the historic core of the developed world–know comparatively little about Islam or Southeast Asia.

Let alone Islam in Southeast Asia.

Which is why launching the R20 in Indonesia is massively meaningful. Not only is Indonesia the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, but it is also of course a G20 economy, a secular democracy, and home to the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), a unique organization that represents some 100 million moderate Muslims–a huge portion of Indonesia’s population. Its General Chairman, Mr. Yahya Staquf, is a compelling Muslim thinker and scholar, who has challenged critical misinterpretations of Islam.

In my purview, the NU is a major reason why Indonesia has remained a secular democracy.

To begin this conference in such a dynamic society is incredibly heartening; not only does the Forum gain from the experience of one of the world’s largest Muslim bodies, but that body (the NU) is also closely partnering with the previously mentioned Muslim World League, the world’s largest Islamic non-governmental organization, to build the R20. A wise pairing: NU promotes a pluralistic approach to Islam, with roots in Southeast Asia going back many centuries. That makes the Muslim World League a natural partner and amplifier.

Behind its Secretary-General, Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, the Muslim World League has become a remarkable force for moderation, inter-faith and intra-faith dialogue, and global religious consciousness. The NU and the MWL reach huge numbers of Muslims, the world’s fastest-growing faith community, much of which lives outside the G20. If the principles of an open world order are to survive and expand, they will need to find ways to engage audiences beyond their borders.

To convince them that their values and many of the original sources of the G20’s dynamism are not at odds. That is something NU, the Muslim World League, and the R20 can well do.

To say nothing of their wider reach. In that spirit, in fact, the Muslim World League announced at the R20 “a new humanitarian fund for the victims of war everywhere.” Not only is the fund not directed only to Muslims, but it also reaches beyond Muslim-majority countries more broadly. Dr. Al-Issa emphasized that Ukraine would be a primary area of the fund’s focus. That is sure to encourage other faith leaders in attendance that the R20 is not just an exercise in lofty rhetoric, but active, on-the-ground engagement.

His Holiness Pope Francis has already addressed the R20; he is joined in his participation by other leaders of the Catholic Church, the world’s largest single faith denomination, as well as senior representatives of the Protestant World Evangelical Alliance, representing 600 million believers in over 140 countries. That is not to mention clergy from Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, as well as other Christian and Muslim traditions. In that spirit, the next G20 (and R20) will take place in India, followed by Brazil; the world’s largest Hindu and Catholic countries, respectively.

India is a place where more conversations about religion, the state and freedom need to happen urgently. About 84% of the world’s population say religion is important, if not very important to them—the future of the world’s freedom and flourishing requires a thoughtful engagement with the thoughtfully religious. Without religious freedom, there cannot be economic freedom. Without economic freedom, we are unlikely to see meaningful, sustainable, long-term human flourishing. And in that aspect, Dr. Al-Issa is right, religion must be part of that process.

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