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Trump’s New National Security Advisor Is Dangerous, But He’s the Current Norm

Eric Zuesse

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Robert O’Brien is a respected authority on international relations and now replaces John Bolton as U.S. President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor. He is a neoconservative who feels that Barack Obama wasn’t nearly enough of a neocon. However, the differences between the two are a matter of degee, and not of type. O’Brien is a Republican who served in the Obama Administration as well as in the G.W. Bush Administration, and in the Trump Administration, and he represents only mainstream U.S. scholarly views about international relations. Here are some of his views, as stated in his 2016 anti-Obama book While America Slept:

The overthrow of “Putin puppet Viktor Yanukovych” in 2014 Ukraine was a democratic revolution, not a bloody coup that removed the democratically elected President and which was entirely illegal. Communism was finally crushed in Ukraine, because of this “revolution,” he says. “Notwithstanding the war and punishing economic circumstances, Russia’s invasion and occupation have inflicted on them, Ukrainians are happy today. They showed the world that they remain unbowed in the face of aggression.” “Liberty and the Rule of Law are Universal Values” and the U.S. Government needs to impose them globally. Because of Obama, “China, Russia, and Iran engaged in significant arms buildups even as America drew down,” while “these nations grabbed territory in the South China sea, Eastern Europe, and across the Middle East.” Limits need to be removed from the defense budget he says, so that America can impose democracy and legality everywhere.

It’s all fantasy. For example: As a result of the February 2014 U.S. takeover of Ukraine: Ukrainians became amongst the unhappiest people on the planet, and the Government’s debt doubled, and Ukraine’s GDP plunged 50%, and the incomes of Ukrainians plunged 50%, and two regions which had been in Ukraine (Crimea and Donbass) broke away from the U.S.-imposed nazi Government that wanted the residents in those areas to be killed or else expelled into Russia.  Why were the residents impoverished while the Government’s debt doubled? Where did that money go? All of that debt-increase was borrowing in order to be able to afford the war against Donbass. O’Brien says “Ukrainians are happy today”, but, by all objective measures, they’ve not been less happy except during World War II — they disliked Hitler and Stalin even more than they disliked the 2014-installed U.S.-coup-regime.

Robert O’Brien is an even stronger believer in the statement that President Obama so often stated, that the United States is “the one indispensable nation”, which means that all others are “dispensable.” That’s the core belief of neoconservatism, and O’Brien is so extreme a believer in it as to attack Obama for having not been as extreme as he himself is.

The entire range of neoconservatism is, however, the norm in U.S.-and-allied international relations. Extreme as O’Brien is, he’s merely extremely normal for a top person in international relations, in any country that’s allied with the United States today.

To study international relations isn’t evil, but to rise to the international top in that field is evil, because the international top in this field can’t be reached unless the writer is propagandizing for the world’s leading power and is therefore an imperialist, and that’s a reliable definition of what it means to be evil in international relations.

Imperialism is ‘justifiable’ only on one basis, supremacism; and that’s the belief in might-makes-right, which is also the core belief in fascism — which is intrinsically evil. This is the reason why Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco, were commonly called “fascist,” even though only in Italy was the tyrant’s political party named that with a capital “F”. The ideology is lower-case, “fascism” — this is simply the might-makes-right belief, and this ideology has existed ever since the dawn of civilization itself. Mussolini didn’t invent it, but he updated it, so as to call  it “corporationism,” and, synonymously, “fascism.” He called it that in order to enable the prior aristocratic system, feudalism, which was based upon ownership and control of land, to become ‘updated’ to “fascism,” which is based instead upon ownership and control of corporations. Now in the industrial era, ownership of shares of stock replaces ownership of acres of land, the aristocratic system which had prevailed in the pre-1600 human era, the agrarian era. And this is the modern form of feudalism: fascism. They’re just different eras of supremacism.

Another good example of a leading scholar of international relations is Harvard’s Graham Allison, whom I have previously discussed in regards to his views regarding Russia. This time, however, I shall discuss his views regarding China, and I also shall discuss his views concerning existing U.S. foreign policies relating not only to China and Russia but to the entire non-U.S. world. As you will see: he agrees with Barack Obama that “The United States is and remains the one  indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come.” In other words: Allison believes that every other  nation is “dispensable.” That view is American supremacism — America’s form  of fascism. It’s also called “neoconservatism.” This is how one becomes appointed to — and he leads — Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

On 11 December 2018, the anonymous “Zero Hedge” headlined “This is What The ‘Trade’ War With China Is Really All About”, and provided there a brilliant description of what the conflict with China is actually about, and of why this conflict has now reached the stage where it inevitably will dominate geostrategy in the centuries going forward (if a resulting nuclear war won’t end everything, which would eliminate future centuries). Global warming could be permanently interrupted by nuclear winter from a major-powers nuclear war, but those are the only two reasonably credible doomsday scenarios, at present (other than an asteroid-hit against this planet, which would be far less likely): global burnout, or else WW III. 

Perhaps these two possibilities are why the great poet Robert Frost wrote:

Fire and Ice

BY ROBERT FROST

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

Both options — “fire” and “ice” — would be Man-made; and, in both options, the people who are leading us there are imperialists — fascists. Some of them push for global burnout; some push for WW III; some push for both.

When Frost said, “I hold with those who favor fire,” he was suggesting that he expected a World War III, which, as a nuclear mega-conflict, would actually end up freezing the planet to death, thus: “nuclear winter.” Consequently, his “fire” would produce the opposite of fire; and global burnout (which would take far longer to implement) isn’t  the “fire” that he was referring to. Global burnout would simply kill everything on the planet — there would be nothing left to burn.

Fascists aren’t concerned about either “fire” or “ice,” but only about supremacy: their conquest, and rule over the world. They are heedless of both global burnout and nuclear war — except insofar as they think that either outcome could end up placing “our side” on top — and would thus be ‘good’ in their view, because to them it would be “victory,” and “Might makes right.”

For example: Robert Scheer’s 1982 book, With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush, and Nuclear War, was about the U.S. Republican Party mainstream, which is fascism, and specifically was about the Ronald Reagan and G.H.W. Bush (and very much also later described G.W. Bush’s) view, that America must build nuclear weapons in order to use them to conquer Russia — not really in order to prevent war between the U.S. and Russia. One of Scheer’s interviews in that book was with Charles Kupperman, who at that time was a national-security advisor to President Reagan, and became subsequently a vice president both at Lockheed Martin and at Boeing — the two largest sellers to the U.S. Government, meaning the top two U.S. Government contractors (basically, the two largest suppliers to the Pentagon). Here are excerpts from Scheer’s interview with Kupperman about this, when he asked Kupperman about whether victory in a nuclear war is possible:

Scheer: So you think it is possible to win? …

Kupperman: I think it is possible to win. [Scheer asked what that means.] It means that it is clear after the war that one side is stronger than the other side, the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side.

No definition was supplied as to what measures should apply in order to determine “that one side is stronger than the other side.” But clearly, Kupperman meant that “the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side.” He was thinking in terms of Russia’s surrendering. To a fascist, surrendering means that the surrenderer is inferior to the victor: after all, “Might makes right” is  their ‘ethic’. That’s what it means  to be  a supremacist.

Scheer asked what that victory would be like, and Kupperman said: “It would be a struggle to reconstitute the society that we have. It certainly wouldn’t be the same society [that had existed] prior to an exchange, there is no question about that. But in terms of having an organized nation, and having enough means left after the war to reconstitute itself, I think that is entirely possible.”

Nothing was asked about how that’s possible after the nuclear war, when there would be nuclear winter. Wikipedia has a good article about “Nuclear Winter”, and it not only describes that, but states:

A “nuclear summer” is a hypothesized scenario in which, after a nuclear winter caused by aerosols inserted into the atmosphere that would prevent sunlight from reaching lower levels or the surface,[58] has abated, a greenhouse effect then occurs due to carbon dioxide released by combustion and methane released from the decay of the organic matter and methane from dead organic matter and corpses that froze during the nuclear winter.[58][59]

Another more sequential hypothetical scenario, following the settling out of most of the aerosols in 1–3 years, the cooling effect would be overcome by a heating effect from greenhouse warming, which would raise surface temperatures rapidly by many degrees, enough to cause the death of much if not most of the life that had survived the cooling, much of which is more vulnerable to higher-than-normal temperatures than to lower-than-normal temperatures. 

So: a reasonable assumption would be that people such as Kupperman understate, to the point of basically lying about, the consequences if they succeed. First, there would be the immediate deaths and then the deaths from injuries and diseases afterwards; then, there would be the starvations, the global famine; then, there would be the nuclear winter; and, then, there might be global warming “rapidly by many degrees, enough to cause the death of much if not most of the life that had survived the cooling.” And, of course, any surviving Republicans, and the many Democrats who likewise are neoconservatives-imperialists-fascists, would try to kill as many of their surviving opponents as possible, so that “the weaker side is going to accede to the demands of the stronger side,” which would be victory, for the ‘winners’, of that nuclear war. 

Before Robert O’Brien got the nod on September 18th, Kupperman was the temporary National Security Advisor to the President of the United States, when Kupperman’s immediate superior, John Bolton, was fired by Donald Trump, for having failed to conquer either Venezuela or Iran or Syria or Russia or China or North Korea. Perhaps Bolton and Pompeo, and the other people whom Trump had surrounded himself with, expected that Trump would go to war against all or at least one  of them (perhaps Venezuela?), in order to reassert America’s supremacy over the entire globe, but Trump refused to do that so short a time before the next U.S. Presidential election, and so they all were disappointed in him, and he was disappointed in them. On 10 September 2019, the New York Times  reported that, “the president appreciated Mr. Kupperman’s just-the-facts style compared with Mr. Bolton’s often ideologically charged delivery: If Mr. Trump had to have a national security brief concerning long-term planning, he preferred it from Mr. Kupperman as opposed to Mr. Bolton, according to a person with knowledge of that process.” And now, Trump will get his neocon advice from O’Brien.

Graham Allison’s best-selling 2017 Destined for War says that China is destined for war with the United States because China will be stupid or recalcitrant enough to resist becoming part of the American empire. In the standard self-righteous way of aristocrats and their sycophants, he starts with the unquestionable assumption that “we” are right and “they” (whomever challenges “our” supremacy) will be so stupid or otherwise flawed as to force “us” to ‘defend ourselves’ by demonstrating ‘our’ ‘superiority’. This is similar to the barbaric views that are expressed by virtually all members of the U.S. Congress, and by all U.S. Presidents, since at least the time of Reagan — all of them similarly self-righteous and imperialistic. In fact, America’s leading national-security scientists have asserted that the U.S. Government is now so strongly neoconservative that America’s weaponry is now designed definitely with the purpose being to win a nuclear war  against Russia, instead of to prevent, or even to avoid, such a war. They have documented that, at the very top of the U.S. Government, there is more extreme supremacism than has ever existed anywhere. Never before in history has a regime — not even Hitler’s — implemented a plan to conquer the world even if its only realistic result, if the plan succeeds, would be to terminate all life on Earth. America’s supremacism — such as is advocated by Graham Allison and all U.S. Administrations since at least the time of G.W. Bush — is the one and only supreme supremacism.

Back in the 1930s and 40s, these were the views that were similarly expressed by the aristocracies and sycophants in places such as Germany, Italy, and Japan. I am not saying that those people, or ours, who hold to supremacist views, are “filth,” or “trash,” or other such supposed pejoratives. After all, there can be good filth or trash. However, there cannot be any good fascist (or “imperialist”). (Is there “good evil”? Does anyone actually think so?) I agree with FDR on that.

Succeeding in the field of foreign affairs, in Washington, DC, by repudiating American imperialism, or “neoconservatism,” is, and long has been, impossible. That town has emerged, since WW II, to become the fascist capital of the world. In this sense, the sides have become reversed, since FDR’s death.

So: the differences between Robert O’Brien, and Graham Allison, and Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, and G.W. Bush, are, actually small, when it comes to international relations. They’re all fascists. They’re all normal U.S. experts on topics of international relations.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Americas

U.S. Elections: Trump’s Strategy of “Peace” might help

Sojla Sahar

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Presidential elections in the United States are around the corner and campaigns by the presidential candidates are in full swing in whole of the United States. The Republicans have nominated Donald Trump as their presidential candidate whereas the Democrats have chosen the seasoned politician Joe Biden who has also served as the vice president under the Obama administrations. Over here, a fact shouldn’t be forgotten that the so-called Democrats have also imposed an unnecessary war and burden of foreign intervention on the people of America. Let it US intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria this has imposed huge financial burden on the American people that is being pay by their taxes. United States has around 200,000 troops scattered in the world. There are around 38,000 in Japan, 34,000 in Germany, 24,000 in Korea, 5,000 Bahrain, 5,000 in Iraq, 3,000 in Spain and 12,000 in Afghanistan. Under the Trump administration, much needed decision was taken by the administration for pulling out of troops from all the unwanted and unwelcomed foreign interventions. This has cost huge monetary burden and heavy taxes on the people of US. These interventions were a gift by Democrats to its people that led American to nothing.

Under Trump administration, US decided to withdrawal its troops from Northern Syria. US have around 1,000 troops positioned in the Northern Syria for deterring Iranian influence and countering ISIS expansion in the country. They have decided only to leave special operations force in Syria and will pull out the rest from the conflict zone. It is not the task that will come to an end in days it will take years and huge budget to relocate the troops. This decision might be a breath of fresh air for the Americans but it might weaken the US military positions in front of the Russian military on the globe. United States also has American military troop’s presence in Germany as well. Trump administration is willing to reduce the troops in Germany by around 25%. There is around 11,900 troop’s present in Germany for securing Europe’s security. The Trump administration is focused on relocation and strategic repositioning of the US troops in the world. For this, the Trump administration has decided to pull out its 6,400 troops from Germany as they whole burden is on the US shoulders for costs maintaining alliance and Germany is not paying its share in the defense budget of NATO putting all the burden on the US citizens. Trump administration also slammed the European countries of not paying their due share in NATO defense budget. Italy spends about 1.22% from its budget and Belgium spends around 0.93% from its GDP on the NATO defense budget.

In addition, the Trump administration has shown that they do not want war and conflict. They have also retreated themselves from the foreign intervention drama that has led to damage to the peace of the world. Trump has given an impression that he aims to bring peace in the world not by arms but through negotiations with the conflict actors. Its example is US negotiations with Taliban’s for ending the endless war fruitless war that brought destruction for Afghanistan and brutally damaged the standing of US in the world.

There are around 12,000 American troops in Afghanistan that are now reduced to 8,600 troops. The rest are sent home and some are being settled in Italy and Belgium. The Trump administration has declared to reduce the number of troop in Afghanistan by 5,000 by November and will reach 4,000 by June 2021. They are aiming to completely withdraw from Afghanistan within 14 months if a concrete peace deal is signed between Taliban’s and United States.

There were more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan that went there to fight war on terror but are coming back empty handed. But still in even in these circumstances it will benefit the American people and their issues will be addressed in a better way. Not just this, Trump administration has also decided to withdraw its troops from Iraq that has been there for more than 19 years now putting a burden on American shoulders.

 All of this decision by the Trump administration shows that under Trump USA will go for the isolationist impulses that will help them to rebuild domestically and resolve the problem of its people who are indulged in unemployment, poverty, crumbling health system particularly after the outbreak of COVID-19. The health system of United States has proven to be fragile. Despite of being the wealthiest country, its health system crumbled within days leaving thousands of people to die in waiting for their appointment. Many of the people had severe financial crisis that refrained them to go to the hospital and get them treated.

According to some sources many hospitals in New York were running out of financial and had to send people on leave because they were unable to pay them. This led to massive unemployment during such desperate times of the year. Developing countries like Pakistan coped with the virus in a better way despite of having poor health facilities.

Under Trump, USA is moving towards “American First” strategy that will lead towards massive shrinkage in the defense budget of US military. The strategy of retrenchment and aversion of foreign intervention might help Trump in winning the next elections because right now United States has more domestic issues than international problems. The flag of truce in the hand of Trump and aim of brining peace in the world might bring him back in the oval office. It seems like Trump will make USA resign from its self-proclaimed post of “world policemen” that will benefit the world and the people of USA.

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Mistrust between Russia and the United States Has Reached an All-Time High

Igor Ivanov

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In August 2020, Politico magazine published three letters outlining their authors’ views of the ways the United States, and the West in general, should build relations with Russia. The first, published on August 5 and signed by over 100 prominent American politicians, diplomats and military leaders, states that Washington’s present policy towards Moscow “isn’t working” and that it is time that the United States “rethink” it. The gist of the proposals is that the United States “must deal with Russia as it is, not as we wish it to be, fully utilizing our strengths but open to diplomacy.”

This letter prompted a response, first from another group of former American ambassadors and political scientists (Politico, August 11) and then from several eminent politicians from Poland, the Baltic states, the Czech Republic and Slovakia (August 13). Both groups agree that now is not the time to reconsider policies toward Russia.

I am well acquainted with many of the signatories to these three statements. I worked closely with some of them during my tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and met some of them during negotiations. I still keep in touch with several of them, as we participate in various informal international projects. Since most parties to the emerging discussion are both highly experienced professionals and public figures, their stances on Russia are well known. The list of signatories under each statement hardly came as a surprise to anyone.

I do not think it makes sense to dwell in too much detail on the arguments presented by the parties. At the same time, proceeding from my own experience of U.S.–Russia relations, I would think that I have the right to put forward some considerations of my own.

First of all, on whether a “new reset” in relations between Washington and Moscow is either possible or desirable. One gets the impression that the authors of the letters see the “old reset” spearheaded by the Obama administration as a kind of bonus or advance offered by the United States to Russia in the hope that the latter would “behave” properly. The debate focuses on whether or not Russia has justified this “advance,” and whether or not it deserves a new bonus. Personally, I cannot recall a single instance where the United States (during Barack Obama’s presidency or under any other administration) gave Russia a “bonus” or “advance” of any kind, made a unilateral concession or indeed did anything that was not in the interests of the United States.

As I see it, the “reset” fully met the long-term interests of both states, particularly in security. Only a very biased observer would claim that the New START Treaty constituted a unilateral concession to Moscow on the part of Washington. Similarly, NATO’s call at the 2010 Lisbon Summit for a true strategic partnership with Russia can hardly be viewed as a unilateral concession. In both instances, the interests of both parties were taken into account, as were the interests of international security in general.

Russia and the United States remain the world’s leading nuclear powers, boasting the largest strategic weapons capabilities. Moscow and Washington have been engaged in mutual deterrence for decades now. However, an objective analysis of the challenges and threats to Russian and U.S. security shows that the very real dangers that do exist emanate not from the two countries themselves, but rather from processes and trends that lie outside the bilateral relations. Accordingly, any predictions about the possible and desirable prospects for interaction between the two states will be incomplete at the very least if they are taken out of the overall context of the development of the international system.

We have to admit that mistrust between Russia and the United States has reached an all-time high. It will take years, maybe even decades, to rectify this situation. However, I am confident that, sooner or later, we will have to start moving in that direction, not because one party will “wear” the other down, forcing it to make unilateral concessions or even throw itself at the mercy of the winner. First, each side has a large safety margin and is willing to continue the confrontation for many years to come. Second, history shows us that peace achieved through unilateral concession rarely lasts.

Life itself, by which I mean each side understanding the long-term need of its own security, will force the United States and Russia to resume progress towards cooperation. Such an understanding, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the elections in the two countries, or with the opportunistic calculations of individual political forces. Regardless of these calculations, the world is rapidly moving towards the line beyond which a global disaster looms with increasing clarity. Once we take a peek beyond this line, the entire world, primarily its leading states, which bear special responsibility for the fate of the world, will have to make decisions that go beyond their own immediate interests.

As for the debates on when and with whom the United States should enter into a dialogue with Russia, I believe such discussions have zero practical value. It would be extremely unreasonable and even irresponsible to defer talks in the hope that more convenient or more accommodating interlocutors will appear in the partner country or, alternatively, that a more favourable general political situation for negotiations will appear.

I would like to refer to my own experience. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I constantly kept in touch with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and then with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. That was in the late 1990s–early 2000s. The bombings of Yugoslavia, the war in Iraq, the Middle Eastern crisis, the expansion of NATO and many, many other events objectively made the U.S.–Russia dialogue more difficult. Obviously, our views on many issues differed greatly. But we never broke off our dialogue, not for a day, no matter how difficult it was. Strictly speaking, this is the art of diplomacy: conducting a dialogue with a difficult partner, achieving agreements where the stances of the parties veer widely and the chances of reaching a comprise appear minimal.

Critics will hasten to say that the U.S.–Russia dialogue in the early 21st century failed to prevent many conflicts and wars, and that is true. But it also helped prevent far graver consequences and, where possible, even led to the signing of important mutually acceptable agreements (New START, etc.). The experience of global diplomacy tells us that the only way to find solutions is through dialogue. The sooner our leading politicians realize it, the faster we will step away from mutual public accusations and destructive information wars waged with cutting-edge technologies and move towards earnest talks on the crucial issues of the 21st-century agenda.

Giving general advice is easy. It is even easier to take the high horse, insisting on staying faithful to one’s values and principles. It is much more difficult for those who have been accorded the requisite powers to make specific decisions. As the great American economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said, “Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” All we can do is hope that politicians in Russia and the United States will prefer the unpalatable to the disastrous.

From our partner RIAC

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The Farce of Post 9/11 U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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This week refugee camps in Moria on the Greek island of Lesbos were set ablaze rendering over 20,000 refugees homeless.  Apparently the fires were started by the refugees themselves who are sick of lives in limbo on the EU periphery.  They want to reach the heartland, get jobs, build lives for themselves.

An inevitable consequence of our modern wars, refugees have become an emblem.  Old newsreels show us their lined, worried faces in the Second World War and TV has them live from Yugosloavia, a country disappeared and reemerged as several ethnic  parts, while numerous principal actors of the time faced judges in the international courts.

Then there is 9/11 in the US — a term meaning September 11 as in the US, unlike Europe and many parts of the world, the month is written first followed by the day and year.  Patriot Day, as it has been labeled, September 11 marks the day when commercial airliners were used as weapons to destroy the World Trade Center, a skyscraper in New York City, and attack the Pentagon, the military’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

If the mastermind of the attack was a turned, non-Afghan, Mujahedin commander camped out in Afghanistan, who following Soviet withdrawal turned his attention to the other major power … committing, in his mind, the unpardonable sin of parking troops on his native soil of Saudi Arabia — no matter, they were there for protective purposes from an increasingly belligerent Saddam Hussein.

The results we know.  A naive George Bush and a populace thirsting for revenge attacked Afghanistan leading to the longest war in American history.  Many presidents later, Donald Trump too is trying to negotiate a pull-out of US troops with the Taliban.  Yes, Afghanistan holds elections and has a president, even a military, but guess what will happen if US troops leave without any resolution with the Taliban.

George Bush’s rival for governor in Texas had a great line.  ‘Poor George,’ she would say, ‘he can’t help it, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.’  So George went after Iraq and lacking his father’s good sense (who after liberating Kuwait withdrew) he stayed to democratize Iraq without examining the country’s demographics.  Majority Shia, it has a democratic leadership now that is Shia and closely allied with Shia Iran.  Fast forward to the present and the current president, Donald Trump, is withdrawing troops from Iraq and is in a stand-off with Iran. 

Anyone would be forgiven for thinking American foreign policy in the Middle East is a plot from a Gilbert and Sullivan farce.  Except for a sad and sobering fact.  More than a million lives lost, refugees still streaming out and many, many millions of lives displaced … including a Christian Iraqi from Baghdad who runs a 24-hour convenience store a couple of miles from my house.

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