“Americans come around to doing the right thing after they have tried all the wrong ways”-Winston Churchill
As we all remember, when Sanders announced his campaign for president last year, he was readily dismissed by many in the media as a fringe candidate whose politics were too radical to connect with Democratic voters. One thing can no longer be ignored: Sanders, despite the political machinations within the Democratic Party’s apparatus which torpedoed his aspirations, has proven that identifying as a democratic socialist will no longer prevent the democratic politician of the future from winning in big diverse states. The popularity of Bernie Sanders, especially among millennials, continues unabated as we speak, thus confounding the political experts who misguidedly continue to characterized his policies as extreme and unwelcome, smelling of ideological propaganda for Communism.
Sanders’ campaign confronted some urgent middle class issues facing working people in Michigan and other big states, connecting voters’ anxieties to a system that benefits Wall Street and corporations at the expense of the middle class. He made rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure—including outdated and compromised water systems—central to his policy agenda. He had planned to invest $1 trillion over 5 years by cracking down on corporations ducking taxes by moving their profits offshore. Running on a message of economic justice and critical of corporate power, free trade deals and a broken criminal justice system, Sanders was able to put forward a genuinely populist message and offer a modicum of hope to a despondent middle class whose prospects have been eclipsed in the last thirty years or so, beginning with the Reagan years.
Far from being judged too radical by voters, these positions helped Sanders carry the Great Lakes state. If over half a million Democrats in Michigan—a state not exactly known for its radicalism—are willing to vote for a democratic socialist, it seems clear that such a term, with the inevitable specter of Communism may not prove to be a major hindrance in the future. Sanders, after all, won 71% of independents and the majority of voters making under $50,000 a year. The question that must persistently be asked is this: is America ready for a new revolution led by a democratic socialist? Is such a revolution desirable and indeed necessary if Western Democracy and Western civilization are to survive? So far, with so many Trojan horses of the right planted all over democratic Europe, the omens are not very encouraging.
The more pragmatic question seems to be this: can a democratic socialist win a general election in America, in a post Ronald Regan era? Let’s see.
In the first place it is worth mentioning that Sanders’ political appeal was based on much more than the thrill of an anti-establishment insurgent or some unexpected love affair of millennials (those born after 1986) with a Brooklyn socialist. Part of what has given Sanders his strength is how mainstream many of his standard political arguments are. If one listens to what he has been saying, it is possible to see that Sanders is not that radical at all. In many respects, his campaign directly addresses fundamental concerns that a wide range of Americans presently have about their future.
The best known issue in Sanders’ ideological arsenal was the claim that in the present political system in America there is too much money in politics. The government is constantly unable to respond to the concerns of many Americans, not so much because the parties don’t like each other or because the mainstream media creates a destructive environment, but because big interest groups and lobbyists have disproportionate power in Washington as a result of their donations. In their landmark book, Winner Take All Politics, the political scientists Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson provide a powerful account of how the growth of corporate lobbies in the 1970s produced changes in public policy that greatly worsened income inequality. The breakdown of the post-Watergate campaign finance system, culminating with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, has produced a political process where there are almost no barriers to flooding politicians with dollars.
Without reforming this process, it is unrealistic to expect that any president or Congress will be able to enact substantive changes that challenge the status quo. For, as William James wisely wrote: if you wish to know what people really believe in, don’t listen to what they tell you, watch their actions. For many years now, social scientists have demonstrated how middle-class Americans have become much less secure as a result of cuts to the social safety net and the exodus of good, secure jobs overseas while the separation between the rich and poor becomes more extreme.
Americans tune in when Sanders says that “It is the tragic reality that for the last 40 years the great middle class of our country — once the envy of the world — has been disappearing” and that we need to create an economy “that works for all, and not just the 1 %.” An economy, that is, that creates incentives for job growth here in the United States and programs that help to elevate the economic health of working Americans, including progressive tax policies and a robust public works program to build the nation’s infrastructure.
This is not radical at all, despite what the pundits proclaim. Much of the democratic socialist rhetoric is really just that of a New Deal liberal that thinks government is a good, that supports the expanded use of government to help social conditions, and believes that much of what federal officials do helps society. For too long, the conventional wisdom has argued mistakenly that Americans reject government. We are children of Ronald Reagan, they say, seeing government as a problem not the solution.
Polls have consistently shown that Americans like government much more than the pundits suspect. When asked generally about government, Americans can be negative. But when asked about specific programs like Social Security or the minimum wage, they heartily approve. Many things are done well by government. Though conservatives will argue this is radical, in many states, including red states, polls show something different. Many people seem to be ready for a political revolution driven by powerful ideas.
Also worth considering here is the brilliant analysis of Thomas Piketty, whom many consider one of the most influential economic thinker economist of our times. He wrote an article for Le Monde which was subsequently republished in English by The Guardian. In this article Piketty explains why he is impressed by the rise of Senator Sanders. He outlines why in his opinion the ascent of the populist senator spells the virtual “end of the politico-ideological cycle begun by Ronald Regan in 1980. Piketty argues that even if he does not win, Sanders will have created a necessary opening for similar candidates in the future who could conceivably change the face of the country as now constituted.
What is particularly interesting in Piketty’s analysis is that he doesn’t see a future American social democracy as following in the footsteps of Europe’s social democratic models, the Scandinavian countries being the best example, but rather one leading the United States toward a possible return to the nation’s pioneering 20th century experiments with extremely progressive taxation and social spending. He points to the fact that, prior to Reagan, 20th century fiscal policy in the U.S. was aggressive in taxing the wealthy — much more so than the European counterparts that American leftists are so fond of looking to for inspiration today. He writes that “In the interwar years the country invented a highly progressive income and estate tax and set up levels of fiscal progressiveness never used on our side of the Atlantic. From 1930 to 1980 — for half a century – the rate for the highest U.S. income (over $1 million per year) was on average 82%, with peaks of 91% from the 1940s to 1960s (from Roosevelt to Kennedy), and still as high as 70% during Reagan’s election in 1980.” Those rates beat any taxation by any Scandinavia country.
Without bringing in the scare tactics of Communism, it bears pointing out with Piketty that those rates were a tremendous help in creating social equality in America for the government to provide robust social programs (at first dubbed socialist and opposed by social Darwinists) introduced during Roosevelt’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society. Moreover, estate taxes were established which were extremely steep and dwarfed rates in France and Germany. That all changed after Reagan won the White House. In a bid to “restore a mythical capitalism to have existed in the past,” as Piketty put it, he took an axe to the tax code and lowered the rate for the highest incomes to 28%.
Since Reagan, the Democratic Party has largely operated within the paradigm carved out by Reagan: very high tax rates are somehow thought to be un-American; keeping the deficit low is of paramount importance even if children are poisoned by bad water; and spending on social services are worthwhile but should not be overly generous to prevent welfare queens to go shopping with food stamps in their Cadillac….as the current mythology goes. For Piketty Sanders represents a meaningful break from it, a return to a third way in between the archconservatives and the ultra-liberals. As he writes “Sander’s success portends the fact that much of America is tired of rising inequality and these so-called political changes, and intends to revive both a progressive agenda and the American tradition of egalitarianism.”
This envisioned future scenario may sound utopic, even unrealistic, given the current despairing climate among Democrats, but the silver lining is that, with the road paved by the Sanders’ campaign, next time around it may prove successful after Mr. Trump’s billionaire’s scheme has been tried and tested and disillusion sets in once again. That, of course, remains to be seen but it can safely be predicted that the billionaire class, the so called job creators, will only help themselves and exploit the people, as is their ingrained custom. In any case, at the very least Sanders’ message has moved befuddled establishment candidates, still unable to explain to themselves what happened, to begin considering the desirability, indeed the necessity, of a social-democratic point of view, if Western democracy, and indeed Western civilization are to have a chance at survival.
Trump’s Foreign Policy Reflects his Servitude to Deep State Global Oligarchs
President Donald Trump was elected by the American people in order to pursue policies designed to strengthen and fortify America’s economy, position in the world, and to restore policies to protect and assist the American worker.
More specifically, Trump was elected to help protect and safeguard the American people.
But Trump’s inexperience with foreign policy threatens to undermine all of this, and undo all of the progress that he is making.
By placing into power Mike Pompeo as State Department chief, Gina Haspel as CIA Director, and John Bolton as National Security Advisor, Trump is moving the United States closer and closer to outright war, culminating in World War 3.
Obviously, China and Russia will never back down over their support of both Iran and Syria, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (“JCPOA”) Iran Nuclear deal shelved any hope or ambition of nuclear proliferation in that country, as well as opened up that nation to full transparency, inspections and monitoring by the international community, including by the USA.
And diplomacy and calmer heads have allowed North Korea to also come to the negotiating table, in the last few weeks to try and place their nuclear arsenal into the dustbin of history.
But the track records of the above 3 individuals show that they have no interest in diplomacy or cooperative foreign policy, but rather they have focused on bullying, browbeating, chest thumping, fiery rhetoric and provocative actions which will only bolster and fortify China and Russia’s burgeoning military and economic relationship (they were strategic competitors/ enemies before the Neo-Conservatives pushed them together with their misguided foreign policy objectives, support of clandestine terrorism, ISIS, and other catastrophic decisions by the Neo-Con foreign policy establishment, led by men like John Bolton, Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, Bill Kristol and others).
The fact remains that the United States can become “great again” when it comes to domestic policy, even with such internationally consequential acts such as tariffs, but it can never become the pre-eminent international power that it used to be, even 10 years ago.
China and Russia have completely altered the global landscape both militarily and economically, and will not budge or yield one inch in either, without a major military confrontation where everyone in the world would die.
America needs to accept this reality, have some humility, cooperate with other powerful nations, and stop trying to revert back to the unipolar world order of yesterday, briefly enjoyed for a few years after the fall of the Soviet Union.
It’s ok to “Make America Great Again,” but it is both short sighted and fool hardy to try and make the world “American” again, without first accepting that the entire world and its people would be obliterated in the process.
Major Topics to Consider to Determine the Direction the 2018 Mid-Term Elections
The 2018 mid–term elections, since Donald Trump won the November 2016 election against Hillary Clinton, is a significant test for the incumbent administration. Make no mistake, while Mr. Trump’s political and policy rhetoric has not ingratiated him with a majority of the American electorate, the battle for the House, Senate, and state governor’s races will not be a cake walk for either Democrats or Republicans when voters decide that first Tuesday in November. With the 2020 Presidential elections on the horizon, too, the chances for one group to take a popular lead will be hard to predict given the missteps this president and the two parties have incurred. Yet voters can assess the elections by exploring certain factors that help influence their decision making.
It is too early to tell the outcome of the November mid-terms. Though according to the latest polling figures regarding job approval ratings, nearly 63% of Americans disapprove of the President’s job performance, meaning it can influence the respective party vote. This rating has much to do with Mr. Trump’s fashion of presidential leadership. Therefore,US Leadership will be the first of three areasexamined when deciding who wins or who loses in the upcoming elections. Can presidential leadership translate to who wins? Does a person being a president in earnest, that Trump is not, make the argument that leadership is an important influencer and that the image of U.S. leadership, now, is weaker worldwide than it was under Barack Obama and George W. Bush, according to Gallup. As Presidents come and go every four or eight years, they represent American integrity and power throughout their administrations. While past presidents are more discreet in their approaches to allies and adversaries, it should be noted that Mr. Trump’s tact is more public than discretionary. The US President’s approach to his office is reflected by his personality and policies that may, if not already, have negative implications for the US as a global leader.
For instance, voters should ponder Europe’s reactions to what the American President calls “Making America Great Again” and “America First?” This point of view signifies a blatant change in American directionfrom previous administrations. European capitalstoo are public when it comes to highlighting their confidence level in the US; this confidence factor has taken a hit as exemplified with the recent UN vote against moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There, 128 countries voted “NO” in the resolution condemning the United States. With American diplomacy being devalued, along with his lack of understanding on policy matters, Mr. Trump’s temperament does not bolster the definition of what we are used to regarding presidential or leadership quality.While the US still remains a power both financially and militarily, Trump’s decisions and actions have hurt the country dropping it to 8th place on U.S. News and World Report’s annual “Best Countries” list. Due to President Trump’s unpopularity and countries viewing the U.S. as less trustworthy and more politically unstable, the argument that we can overcome these anomalies is now being challenged by the likes of China, while placing the country behind Sweden and Australia, to name a few.Though a portion of the Republican base will vote Republican come “hell or high water”, all the problems emanating from the President’s office should influence most voters in deciding whether the party of Trump is worth the bother.
It is believed that the problems America faces is about attitude rather than instant action and Donald Trump prefers to tell world than work behind the scenes, or at least that’s what it seems like. What is worrisome are our allies’ thoughts that the President lacks a sense of history, political and global understanding of US policies impact on many countries…certainly not a good start to developing close ties with Asian and European allies.
In the end the outcome to how America will change under this president will be tested via the ballot box wherepresidential leadership will be questioned. The need to deal with trade, terror, and international relationships in the wake of President Trump’s approach dealing with people can possibly hinder both domestic and international agendas. With Russian meddling at the top of the controversy list, with China’s becoming more engaged in trade, foreign policy and the like, and with European leaders looking to maneuver out from the American umbrella that President Trump advocated, there seems to be a change in direction that in the long-term hurts the country’s respect and image and leadership capacities. The mid-terms will either signify a pleasure or displeasure of the Trump agenda and administration’s prestige that only Mr. Trump can rectify which possibly equates to a win for the Republican majority in both House and Senate this November.
Why America’s major news-media must change their thinking
America’s ‘news’-media possess the mentality that characterizes a dictatorship, not a democracy. This will be documented in the linked-to empirical data which will be subsequently discussed. But, first, here is what will be documented by those data, and which will make sense of these data:
In a democracy, the public perceive their country to be improving, in accord with that nation’s values and priorities. Consequently, they trust their government, and especially they approve of the job-performance of their nation’s leader. In a dictatorship, they don’t. In a dictatorship, the government doesn’t really represent them, at all. It represents the rulers, typically a national oligarchy, an aristocracy of the richest 0.1% or even of only the richest 0.01%. No matter how much the government ‘represents’ the public in law (or “on paper”), it’s not representing them in reality; and, so, the public don’t trust their government, and the public’s job-rating of their national leader, the head-of-state, is poor, perhaps even more disapproval than approval. So, whereas in a democracy, the public widely approve of both the government and the head-of-state; in a dictatorship, they don’t.
In a dictatorship, the ‘news’-media hide reality from the public, in order to serve the government — not the public. But the quality of government that the regime delivers to its public cannot be hidden as the lies continually pile up, and as the promises remain unfulfilled, and as the public find that despite all of the rosy promises, things are no better than before, or are even becoming worse. Trust in such a government falls, no matter how much the government lies and its media hide the fact that it has been lying. Though a ‘democratic’ election might not retain in power the same leaders, it retains in power the same regime (be it the richest 0.1%, or the richest 0.01%, or The Party, or whatever the dictatorship happens to be). That’s because it’s a dictatorship: it represents the same elite of power-holding insiders, no matter what. It does not represent the public. That elite — whatever it is — is referred to as the “Deep State,” and the same Deep State can control more than one country, in which case there is an empire, which nominally is headed by the head-of-state of its leading country (this used to be called an “Emperor”), but which actually consists of an alliance between the aristocracies within all these countries; and, sometimes, the nominal leading country is actually being led, in its foreign policies, by wealthier aristocrats in the supposedly vassal nations. But no empire can be a democracy, because the residents in no country want to be governed by any foreign power: the public, in every land, want their nation to be free — they want democracy, no dictatorship at all, especially no dictatorship from abroad.
In order for the elite to change, a revolution is required, even if it’s only to a different elite, instead of to a democracy. So, if there is no revolution, then certainly it’s the same dictatorship as before. The elite has changed (and this happens at least as often as generations change), but the dictatorship has not. And in order to change from a dictatorship to a democracy, a revolution also is required, but it will have to be a revolution that totally removes from power the elite (and all their agents) who had been ruling. If this elite had been the nation’s billionaires and its centi-millionaires who had also been billionaire-class donors to political campaigns (such as has been proven to be the case in the United States), then those people, who until the revolution had been behind the scenes producing the bad government, need to be dispossessed of their assets, because their assets were being used as their weapons against the public, and those weapons need (if there is to be a democracy) to be transferred to the public as represented by the new and authentically democratic government. If instead the elite had been a party, then all of those individuals need to be banned from every sort of political activity in the future. But, in either case, there will need to be a new constitution, and a consequent new body of laws, because the old order (the dictatorship) no longer reigns — it’s no longer in force after a revolution. That’s what “revolution” means. It doesn’t necessarily mean “democratic,” but sometimes it does produce a democracy where there wasn’t one before.
The idea that every revolution is democratic is ridiculous, though it’s often assumed in ‘news’-reports. In fact, coups (which the U.S. Government specializes in like no other) often are a revolution that replaces a democracy by a dictatorship (such as the U.S. Government did to Ukraine in 2014, for example, and most famously before that, did to Iran in 1953). (Any country that perpetrates a coup anywhere is a dictatorship over the residents there, just the same as is the case when any invasion and occupation of a country are perpetrated upon a country. The imposed stooges are stooges, just the same. No country that imposes coups and/or invasions/occupations upon any government that has not posed an existential threat against the residents of that perpetrating country, supports democracy; to the exact contrary, that country unjustifiably imposes dictatorships; it spreads its own dictatorship, which is of the imperialistic type, and any government that spreads its dictatorship is evil and needs to be replaced — revolution is certainly justified there.)
This is how to identify which countries are democracies, and which ones are not: In a democracy, the public are served by the government, and thus are experiencing improvement in their lives and consequently approve of the job-performance of their head-of-state, and they trust the government. But in a dictatorship, none of these things is true.
In 2014, a Japanese international marketing-research firm polled citizens in each of ten countries asking whether they approve or disapprove of the job-performance of their nation’s head-of-state, and Harvard then provided an English-translated version online for a few years, then eliminated that translation from its website; but, fortunately, the translation had been web-archived and so is permanent here (with no information however regarding methodology or sampling); and it shows the following percentages who approved of the job-performance of their President or other head-of-state in each of the given countries, at that time:
- China (Xi) 90%
- Russia (Putin) 87%
- India (Modi) 86%
- South Africa (Zuma) 70%
- Germany (Merkel) 67%
- Brazil (Roussef) 63%
- U.S. (Obama) 62%
- Japan (Abe) 60%
- UK (Cameron) 55%
- France (Hollande) 48%
In January 2018, the global PR firm Edelman came out with the latest in their annual series of scientifically polled surveys in more than two dozen countries throughout the world, tapping into, actually, some of the major criteria within each nation indicating whether or not the given nation is more toward the dictatorship model, or more toward the democracy model. The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer survey showed that “Trust in Government” (scored and ranked on page 39) is 44% in Russia, and is only 33% in the United States. Trust in Government is the highest in China: 84%. The U.S. and Russia are the nuclear super-powers; and the U.S. and China are the two economic super-powers; so, these are the world’s three leading powers; and, on that single measure of whether or not a country is democratic, China is the global leader (#1 of 28), Russia is in the middle (#13 of 28), and U.S. ranks at the bottom of the three, and near the bottom of the entire lot (#21 of 28). (#28 of 28 is South Africa, which, thus — clearly in retrospect — had a failed revolution when it transitioned out of its apartheid dictatorship. That’s just a fact, which cannot reasonably be denied, given this extreme finding. Though the nation’s leader, Zuma, was, according to the 2014 Japanese study, widely approved by South Africans, his Government was overwhelmingly distrusted. This distrust indicates that the public don’t believe that the head-of-state actually represents the Government. If the head-of-state doesn’t represent the Government, the country cannot possibly be a democracy: the leader might represent the people, but the Government doesn’t.)
When the government is trusted but the head-of-state is not, or vice-versa, there cannot be a functioning democracy. In other words: if either the head-of-state, or the Government, is widely distrusted, there’s a dictatorship at that time, and the only real question regarding it, is: What type of dictatorship is this?
These figures — the numbers reported here — contradict the ordinary propaganda; and, so, Edelman’s trust-barometer on each nation’s ‘news’-media (which are scored and ranked on page 40) might also be considered, because the natural question now is whether unreliable news-media might have caused this counter-intuitive (in Western countries) rank-order. However, a major reason why this media-trust-question is actually of only dubious relevance to whether or not the given nation is a democracy, is that to assume that it is, presumes that trust in the government can be that easily manipulated — it actually can’t. Media and PR can’t do that; they can’t achieve it. Here is a widespread misconception: Trust in government results not from the media but from a government’s having fulfilled its promises, and from the public’s experiencing and seeing all around themselves that they clearly have been fulfilled; and lying ‘news’-media can’t cover-up that reality, which is constantly and directly being experienced by the public.
However, even if trust in the ‘news’-media isn’t really such a thing as might be commonly hypothesized regarding trust in the government, here are those Edelman findings regarding the media, for whatever they’re worth regarding the question of democracy-versus-dictatorship: Trust in Media is the highest, #1, in China, 71%; and is 42% in #15 U.S.; and is 35% in #20 Russia. (A July 2017 Marist poll however found that only 30% of Americans trust the media. That’s a stunning 12% lower than the Edelman survey found.) In other words: Chinese people experience that what they encounter in their news-media becomes borne-out in retrospect as having been true, but only half of that percentage of Russians experience this; and U.S. scores nearer to Russia than to China on this matter. (Interestingly, Turkey, which scores #7 on trust-in-government, scores #28 on trust-in-media. Evidently, Turks find that their government delivers well on its promises, but that their ‘news’-media often deceive them. A contrast this extreme within the Edelman findings is unique. Turkey is a special case, regarding this.)
I have elsewhere reported regarding other key findings in that 2018 Edelman study.
According to all of these empirical findings, the United States is clearly not more of a democracy than it is a dictatorship. This particular finding from these studies has already been overwhelmingly (and even more so) confirmed in the world’s only in-depth empirical scientific study of whether or not a given country is or is not a “democracy”: This study (the classic Gilens and Page study) found, incontrovertibly, that the U.S. is a dictatorship — specifically an aristocracy, otherwise commonly called an “oligarchy,” and that it’s specifically a dictatorship by the richest, against the public.
Consequently, whenever the U.S. Government argues that it intends to “spread democracy” (such as it claims in regards to Syria, and to Ukraine), it is most-flagrantly lying — and any ‘news’-medium that reports such a claim without documenting (such as by linking to this article) its clear and already-proven falsehood (which is more fully documented here than has yet been done anywhere, since the Gilens and Page study is here being further proven by these international data), is no real ‘news’-medium at all, but is, instead, a propaganda-vehicle for the U.S. Government, a propaganda-arm of a dictatorship — a nation that has been overwhelmingly proven to be a dictatorship, not a democracy.
The American public seem to know this (though the ‘news’-media routinely deny it by using phrases such as ‘America’s democracy’ in the current tense, not merely as referrng to some past time): A scientifically designed Monmouth University poll of 803 American adults found — and reported on March 19th — that 74% believed either probably or definitely that “a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy” (commonly called the “Deep State”) actually exists in America.
The question as asked was: “The term Deep State refers to the possible existence of a group of unelected government and military officials who secretly manipulate or direct national policy. Do you think this type of Deep State in the federal government definitely exists, probably exists, probably does not exist, or definitely does not exist?” 27% said “Definitely”; 47% said “Probably”; only 16% said “Probably not”; and only 5% said “Definitely not.”
In effect, then: 74% think America is a dictatorship; only 21% think it’s not. So: this isn’t only fact; it’s also widespread belief. How, then, can the American Government claim that when it invades a country like Iraq (2003), or like Libya (2011), or like Syria (2012-), or like Ukraine (by coup in 2014), it’s hoping to ‘bring democracy’ there? Only by lying. Even the vast majority of the American public now know this.
So: America’s major ‘news’-media will have to change their thinking, to become at least as realistic as the American public already are. The con on that, has evidently run its course. It simply discredits those ‘news’-media.
first published at strategic-culture.org
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