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Washington’s Isolation and Dual Game of Paris

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The United Nations General Assembly’s meeting in New York uncovered Washington’s isolation in the international system even more than before. The unilateralism of the United States and its illegal approach towards international agreements (e.g. its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) were criticized by our president at the UN.

Trump, along with Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, started a psychological and propaganda campaign on the Iranian government’s request for holding negotiations with the White House. But this approach failed to depict Iran’s need for the United States as a proposition in the minds of the addressees. It has reached the point where even so many American media were skeptical about Trump’s claim over Iran’s request for holding talks with the United States.

Undoubtedly, the president of the United States is the main loser of the UN General Assembly in New York. Donald Trump’s remarks at a UN General Assembly meeting raised the laughter of the audience, and this was followed by the regret of many American analysts. They noted that Trump’s presence at the White House means the “international isolation of the United States.”

The fact is that Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly had kind of domestic function. Regarding the decreasing popularity of Trump and the Republicans in some of the major U.S. states (which put them on the brink of defeat in the Congress elections) and the escalation of the international community’s opposition to the U.S. government, made the U.S. President to use the UN tribune to deliver just another speech for the American citizens.

Applying terms such as the “stronger U.S.” and the “safer World” reminds us of the 2016 presidential race. Trump tried to revive these abstract concepts on the verge of the U.S. mid-term elections in the minds of American voters. Therefore, in analyzing his remarks, his audience should not be limited to the international players and members of the United Nations General Assembly.

Another point which should be taken into consideration here is about Trump’s attempts to move forward in the hearts of paradoxes: On the one hand, he uses the worst terms addressing our country, and speaks of economic sanctions on Iran. On the other hand, he doesn’t conceal his interest in negotiating with Iran!

In a similar approach, he addresses raises disagreements in NATO through the application of protectionist policies towards the European Union and China. The U.S. president also claims that ISIL was destroyed in Syria and Iraq (by the United States)! However, the existing evidences indicate that the United States had supported ISIL and the terrorist and takfiri groups to the last moment of their life; the groups that were created by no one but the former U.S. government.

Even now, the White House remains to be the main shelter of the takfiri groups in the West Asia region. Trump also said that Saudi Arabia and the UAE were trying to put an end to the Yemeni war, without revealing the destructive role of Washington in waging this war and killing the innocent people in Sana’a, Aden, and elsewhere.

Trump knows well that he has to officially announce Washington’s defeat in West Asia sooner or later. It’s not without a reason that he called the U.S. military presence in West Asia useless about a month ago! Trump is now setting the ground for directing the U.S., and the international public opinion for America’s defeat in Yemen and Syria.

France dual approach in the UN General Assembly is another issue that should be regarded carefully. French President Emmanuel Macron has recently had lots of ups and downs! On the one hand, he had secret dealings with Trump’s government over current issues in the region (especially over Syria and Iran), and on the other hand, he is trying to enter international equations as an independent leader.

At this point, Macron tried to challenge Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly, and expressed regret that the U.S. president introduced “nationalism” as a basis for his actions towards the international community. It remains unclear, however, whether other European players would be willing to accept him as their leader in today’s complicated conflicts.

The CNN has recently reported that “French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a fiery rebuke of U.S. policies under President Donald Trump at the UN General Assembly Tuesday, signaling that he is ready to take up the mantle of global leadership usually assumed by a U.S. leader.”

It continues; “At times directly referring to the U.S., Macron rapped the Trump administration for its policies on Iran, climate change, the UN, migration and Mideast peace, among others.”

The report adds on that the 40-year-old French leader also took direct aim at the central theme of Trump’s speech earlier in the day, in which the U.S. President focused on sovereignty and emphasized his administration’s intent to distance itself from international agreements and groups.

“I shall never stop upholding the principal of sovereignty,” Macron told the General Assembly, which draws more than 120 world leaders each year. “Even in the face of certain nationalism which we’re seeing today, brandishing sovereignty as a way of attacking others.”
But unlike Trump’s emphasis on the importance of countries’ independence, Macron offered a different vision, one that earned him sustained applause when he was done.

“Only collective action allows for the upholding of the sovereignty and equality of the people in whose name we take action,” Macron said. “This is the reason we must take action against climate, demographic and digital challenges. No one alone can tackle these.”
Undoubtedly, there is a huge gap between the French authorities’ speeches and actions about the necessity to be committed to multilateralism. This same paradoxical approach has made it impossible to mention Emmanuel Macron as a powerful politician in the international system.

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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Americas

Democracy Or What? – And Then Climate

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Most of us were appalled to see what happened in Washington a ten days ago when a ‘mob’, incited by Donald Trump’s address, stormed the Capitol building to prevent the presentation of Joe Biden as the next President. He gave voice to a possible fraudulent (in his mind) election, by putting suspicion on the postal ballot long before the election took place, and tried to ‘engineer’ the ballot by putting his ‘own’ man in control of it. He tried to manipulate the Supreme Court by replacing vacancies with people he expected to follow his lead and must have been disappointed, if not shocked, to find that the court unanimously rejected his claim that the votes had been rigged and should be thrown out. His unruly term of office saw the greatest turnover of people of any previous presidential term as staff could only hack the unusual behaviour of a disordered mind for so long. And so on and on. Much will be written about the 4-year aberration that was Donald Trump. On a lighter note, his escapades in golf have given rise to a book, ‘Commander in Cheat’!

Concerned people have written and spoken about the state of democracy today. Those of us who have spent some time stateside appreciate the immensity of the country, how one is made welcome, but also the prejudices that one finds and the general unknowing of the world we live in by large swathes of the population. Some are still steeped in attitudes that pre-date the civil war. Donald Trump played to all of those and gave them voice. That is a big challenge facing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to get America back on track and if not ‘great again’ to stand up and join the rest of us and share and appreciate that there are billions of other people that are working away with hopes and dreams and looked to the US as a beacon.

That should be the meaning of ‘great again’, and if they can look up and truly be the land of the free and welcome the weak and downtrodden who are fleeing war and violence, as was once the way, then we can say that once more ‘you have earned the right to be the leader of democracy’, and democracy, for all its imperfections, is still the least bad form of government. It is well that the US re-joins the world as totalitarianism, in all its forms and at all levels, is on the rise again. Countries that espouse democracy and heed its precepts need to speak up loudly and be heard once again.

In November of this year is the World Climate Meeting, COP21, in Glasgow, Scotland at which the latest news on climate will be debated. Hopefully, the coronavirus will be on the decline and the US election will no longer be an issue. We can then get together on the one matter that should concentrate all our minds and separate the wheat from the chaff because there is some said that is wrong that muddies the waters, and leads the politicians to make incorrect decisions. But change is around us.

Climate is a highly complex issue, arguably the most complicated, that not all the modelling can get right, but study must go on. It is strange that it has only come to our notice since the population of the world over the past 60 years, has increased dramatically from approaching 3 billion to 8 billion. Mankind has thus significantly increased breeding himself, and thus his use of natural resources, for example cutting down trees, which need carbon dioxide to live, and vastly increased the pollution of the seas and the seas cover 70% of the planet. It has only been in comparatively recent times that we have started to pay attention to the seas and are alarmed at what we see.

However, we have the tools to put things right. We just need the will and ability to spend money wisely.

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Americas

A Disintegrating Trump Administration?

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If Donald J. Trump wanted a historic presidency, he certainly seems to have achieved it — he is now the only president to have been impeached twice.

According to the rules, the House impeaches followed by a trial in the Senate.  There is precedent for the trial to continue even when the office holder has left office.  Should that trial result in conviction, it prevents him from seeking any future elected office.  Conviction is unlikely, however, as it requires a vote of two-thirds of the members present.

It has been reported that Trump wanted to lead the crowd in the march to the Capitol, but was dissuaded from doing so by the Secret Service who considered it much too dangerous and could not guarantee his safety.

Various sources attest that Trump’s mind is focused on pardons including himself and his family members.  Whether it is legal for him to pardon himself appears to be an unresolved question.  But then Trump enjoys pushing the boundaries of tolerated behavior while his businesses skirt legal limits.

He appears to have been greatly upset with his longtime faithful vice-president after a conversation early on the day of the riot.  As reported by The New York Times, he wanted Mike Pence to overturn the vote instead of simply certifying it as is usual.  The certification is of course a formality after the state votes already certified by the governors have been reported.  Pence is reputed to have said he did not have the power to do so.  Since then Trump has called Vice President Pence a “pussy” and expressed great disappointment in him although there are reports now that fences have been mended.

Trump’s response to the mob attacking the Capitol has also infuriated many, including lawmakers who cowered in the House chamber fearful for their lives.  Instead of holding an immediate press conference calling on the attackers to stop, Trump responded through a recorded message eight hours later.  He called on his supporters to go home but again repeated his claims of a fraudulent election.

Aside from headlining the US as the laughingstock among democracies across the world, the fall-out includes a greater security risk for politicians.  Thus the rehearsal for Biden’s inauguration scheduled for Sunday has been postponed raising questions about the inauguration itself on January 20th.

Worse, the Trump White House appears to be disintegrating as coordination diminishes and people go their own way.  Secretary of State Pompeo has unilaterally removed the curbs on meeting Taiwanese officials put in place originally to mollify China.  If it angers China further, it only exacerbates Biden’s difficulties in restoring fractured relationships. 

Trump is causing havoc as he prepares to leave the White House.  He seems unable to face losing an election and departing with grace.  At the same time, we have to be grateful to him for one major policy shift.  He has tried to pull the country out of its wars and has not started a new one.  He has even attempted the complicated undertaking of peace in Afghanistan, given the numerous actors involved.  We can only hope Biden learned enough from the Obama-Biden administration’s disastrous surge to be able to follow the same path.

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Americas

Flames of Globalization in the Temple of Democracy

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Authors: Alex Viryasov and Hunter Cawood

On the eve of Orthodox Christmas, an angry mob stormed the “temple of democracy” on Capitol Hill. It’s hard to imagine that such a feat could be deemed possible. The American Parliament resembles an impregnable fortress, girdled by a litany of security checks and metal detectors at every conceivable point of entry. And yet, supporters of Donald Trump somehow found a way.

In the liberal media, there has been an effort to portray them as internal terrorists. President-elect Joe Biden called his fellow citizens who did not vote for him “a raging mob.” The current president, addressing his supporters, calls to avoid violence: “We love you. You are special. I can feel your pain. Go home.”

That said, what will we see when we look into the faces of these protesters? A blend of anger and outrage. But what is behind that indignation? Perhaps it’s pain and frustration. These are the people who elected Trump president in 2016. He promised to save their jobs, to stand up for them in the face of multinational corporations. He appealed to their patriotism, promised to make America great again. Arguably, Donald Trump has challenged the giant we call globalization.

Today, the United States is experiencing a crisis like no other. American society hasn’t been this deeply divided since the Vietnam War. The class struggle has only escalated. America’s heartland with its legions of blue-collar workers is now rebelling against the power of corporate and financial elites. While Wall Street bankers or Silicon Valley programmers fly from New York to London on private jets, an Alabama farmer is filling up his old red pickup truck with his last Abraham Lincoln.

The New York banker has no empathy for the poor residing in the southern states, nothing in common with the coal miners of West Virginia. He invests in the economies of China and India, while his savings sit quietly in Swiss banks. In spirit, he is closer not to his compatriots, but to fellow brokers and bankers from London and Brussels. This profiteer is no longer an American. He is a representative of the global elite.

In the 2020 elections, the globalists took revenge. And yet, more than 70 million Americans still voted for Trump. That represents half of the voting population and more votes than any other Republican has ever received. A staggering majority of them believe that they have been deceived and that Democrats have allegedly rigged this election.

Democrats, meanwhile, are launching another impeachment procedure against the 45th president based on a belief that it has been Donald Trump himself who has provoked this spiral of violence. Indeed, there is merit to this. The protesters proceeded from the White House to storm Congress, after Trump urged them on with his words, “We will never give up, we will never concede.”

As a result, blood was shed in the temple of American democracy. The last time the Capital was captured happened in 1814 when British troops breached it. However, this latest episode, unlike the last, cannot be called a foreign invasion. This time Washington was stormed by protestors waving American flags.

Nonetheless, it is not an exaggeration to say that the poor and downtrodden laborers of America’s Rust Belt currently feel like foreigners in their own country. The United States is not unique in this sense. The poor and downtrodden represent a significant part of the electorate in nearly every country that has been affected by globalization. As a result, a wave of populism is sweeping democratic countries. Politicians around the world are appealing to a sense of national identity. Is it possible to understand the frustrated feelings of people who have failed to integrate into the new global economic order? Absolutely. It’s not too dissimilar from the grief felt by a seamstress who was left without work upon the invention of the sewing machine.

Is it worth trying to resist globalization as did the Luddites of the 19th century, who fought tooth and nail to reverse the inevitability of the industrial revolution? The jury is still out.

The world is becoming more complex and stratified. Economic and political interdependence between countries is growing each and every day. In this sense, globalization is progress and progress is but an irreversible process.

Yet, like the inhumane capitalism of the 19th century so vividly described in Dickens’ novels, globalization carries many hidden threats. We must recognize and address these threats. The emphasis should be on the person, his dignity, needs, and requirements. Global elites in the pursuit of power and superprofits will continue to drive forward the process of globalization. Our task is not to stop or slow them down, but to correct global megatrends so that the flywheel of time does not grind ordinary people to the ground or simply throw nation-states to the sidelines of history.

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