If men or nations do evil in a good cause; if they cover themselves with guilt in order to fulfill some high responsibility; or if they sacrifice some high value for the sake of a higher or equal one they make a tragic choice.-Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History
When Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr posited the tragic choice of evil for the sake of good – a choice inherent in both the “human condition” and the anarchic state of nations – he was not focused on differences within a specific national government. Today, however, in the dissembling United States, a similarly tragic choice confronts America’s citizens in particular. Here the apparent choice is bold and straightforward:
Shall Americans support an evil president in the greater interest of some wider political good?
Though plausible in principle, no such dilemma actually exists. In current US political circumstances, there is no supportable argument that Donald Trump’s disjointed and seat-of-the-pants policies, either foreign or domestic, can bestow any verifiable net benefits. To the main point, by allowing a willfully corrosive president to act in its name, the United States has defiled American national interests and global human interests simultaneously.
Apropos of proper logic, one presumptive conclusion is unambiguous: There is no “tragic” choice involved here (the choice identified above by Realpolitiker Reinhold Niebuhr), just an obvious and overriding imperative to rid both nation and planet of Trump-era toxicity. Prima facie, in this case at least, presidential evil and American good are mutually exclusive.
There is more. With each passing day, weary Americans must face several stark and ironic contradictions. At an historical moment when uplifting numbers of good people are making great personal sacrifices to help others (e.g., medical communities working against Covid19; firefighters in the west; hurricane search-and-rescue personnel in the south, etc.), a US president acts wittingly to undermine his own country’s safety and security. This behavior includes a continuously incomprehensible stance of support for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who it would appear can wish no harms upon the United States.
While according to any reasonable criteria of intellectual assessment these cumulative Trump behaviors are injurious and inexcusable, millions of US citizens still maintain that his plainly deranged presidency represents a calculable “net positive.”
What does this really mean? By definition, even now, these Trump-supporting Americans believe that manifest presidential evil can be compatible with national welfare and national progress. Somehow, in this case, they believe that such once-unimaginable evil can also be good. Credo quia absurdum, said the ancient philosophers, “I believe because it is absurd.”
How can all this be helpfullyexplained? Conceptually, it would be best to begin at the beginning. The contradiction we are so painfully witnessing with this stumbling White House administration is not uniquely American. Already, back in the sixteenth-century, philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli observed famously, “A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must necessarily come to grief among so many who are not good.”
Machiavelli need not always be clarifying or relevant. There is nothing here to suggest that this classic argument from The Prince would in any way support Donald J. Trump’s foreign and/or domestic policies. This president’s particular descents into wrongdoing and dereliction are not an expression of any gainful policy “realism.” Rather, they are singularly lamentable expressions of wantonly gratuitous harms.
In an unsteady age when the risks of a nuclear war could coincide with expanding biological destructions – that is, with the devastating microbial assaults of a Corona-Virus “plague” – such harms can have no conceivable justifications.
None at all.
There is more. Context is important. All humans, wherever they may live, must bear persistent witness to the distressingly thin veneers of “civilization.” Recalling William Golding’s marooned boys in Lord of the Flies, we must repeatedly discover, beneath any delicate varnish of supposed coexistence, a lascivious human inclination to brutalize certain “others.”
However informally it may be calculated, this primal inclination is “normally” judged agreeable and cost-effective.
Science and technology notwithstanding, empathy and compassion remain in calculably short supply on planet earth. Accordingly, substantial fractions of humankind remain slouched in a perpetually bruising darkness, hoping not to create promising new forms of human civilization, but to “better” inflict myriad varieties of unspeakable slaughter. During the debilitating “Trump Years,” years of steadily-expanding presidential evil, the United States has made an egregious choice.
Knowingly, it has placed itself directly within such nefariously cascading “darkness.”
As “analysts,” Americans should now be more policy-specific. In Donald Trump’s United States, there is always some blatantly self-serving presidential explanation for human rights abuse. To wit, we are instructed, the latest victims are despicable, “illegal” or, in some ways at least, not fully human. Always, they are “others,” mere others. And as we are repeatedly informed by the president’s reliably obsequious minions, this particular victim population is not at all like us. It is deserving of necessary “punishment.”
Credo quia absurdum. “I believe because it is absurd.” It is a very old story. The struggle between “Us and Them” is very plainly generic, not US-specific. If we are “good,” they are not. Period. Such grimly bifurcated reasoning is especially perverse and ironic today, during a pandemic crisis when the common biological “oneness” of the human species couldn’t possibly be more obvious
In high tragedy, as originally performed back in fifth-century BC Athens, humans were routinely presented as inherently flawed guests in a divinely-created universe. This ancient presentation, though presently “modified” with assorted regional and religious nuances, remains difficult to dispute. After all, following even a “small” nuclear war – a plausible event, at least in the currently downward trajectory of world affairs – cemeteries the size of whole cities could be needed to bury the uncountable dead.
Then, recalling the pre-nuclear imagery of poet T S Eliot, there could be no “lilacs breeding out of the dead land.” Then, there would be no discernible “good,” only variously decaying bearers of “evil.”
Promptly, in far-flung parts of the world, both within and between individual nation-states, a “waste land” could become the new normal. Such “normalcy,” one substantially worse than even the new-normal of Covid19 life on earth, ought never become an intentionally sought-after expectation. For rational thinkers, this point hardly requires any present-moment clarifications.
No sane person can be in favor of necropolis.
“Art is a lie,” noted Pablo Picasso, “that lets us see the truth.” In this paradoxical description, theatrical tragedy can remind us that earthly spheres of order, justice and good remain severely compromised by evil, and that no amount of technology or science can ever compensate for our species’ multiple leadership transgressions. If, as in high tragedy, we humans should sometimes be punished in apparent excess of our specifically personal wrongdoings – “Whom God wishes to destroy,” warned the Greek tragedian, Euripides, “He first makes mad.” – even this “unfair” fate could not declare us to be “innocent.”
There is more. Always, it is the gripping silence and self-inflicted fears of ordinary people that sustain the human world’s abundant madness. Often, these primal fears center on certain irrepressible expectations of personal death. But sometimes they can also rest on various corollary anxieties about personal exclusion. More than anything else, and for several markedly different yet intersecting reasons, we humans continue to seek the comfortingly calming warmth of “mass.”
It is the “mass man.” an elucidating and derivative construct of Spanish existentialist philosopher Jose Ortega y’Gasset (The Revolt of the Masses,1930) who created US President Donald J. Trump. Stated differently, this American president, who promises to “Make America Great Again” is the openly evil product of American “mass.” By itself, this collective does not intend to create evil, but intent is not at all determinative.
It is quite enough that the mass prefers baseless opinion to documented fact and a willful anti-Reason to proper learning or tangible science.
There is more. As a species, not just as Americans, there exists no compelling or defensible reason for us to fawn upon myriad past mistakes. Now, instead, with a view to achieving some still-plausible and verifiable progress, Americans must look back courageously. “How much treasure,” they must finally inquire, “how much science, how much labor and planning, how many vast oceans of sacred poetry, have we already ransacked, just to render our disparate human civilizations even more miserable and more imperiled?”
I don’t know each pertinent answer. I do know, however, that our shallow and corrupted civilizational institutions, including America’s humiliating presidential elections, can never save us. This nation’s most revered universities, perched deliberately above the distressingly mundane clamor of work, politics and family, remain unmindful of the world’s most urgently important intellectual questions.
Unassailably, though painfully indelicate to acknowledge, higher education in the expansively deranged Trump-Era proceeds hand in hand with a ubiquitously crude and predatory commerce. In partial consequence, our colleges and universities shamelessly crush most residual reflexes of lingering student intellect or individuality. This crushing is not undertaken with any insidious intent – and the challenges to academic success during a pandemic are anything but minor – but the US posture of anti-Reason is nonetheless destructive. Sorely destructive.
In today’s Trump-defiled United States, American Transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson’s once venerable goal of a people that is “plain living and high thinking” is more than just forgotten. This once-lofty objective presently now lies very far beyond any identifiable popular interest or hint of public imagination. Why not? Living together with unhidden presidential evil, what else should we expect?
The American university, a dutifully obliging adjunct of the wider corporate/political universe, now lies distant not only from human learning, but also from human survival. French philosophers of the eighteenth-century Age of Reason had preferred to speak optimistically of a siècle des lumieres, a “century of light,” but today, the ivy-covered walls are inestimably fouled by a congealing darkness, by a suffocating pall of excruciating conformance, vulgar self-interest and even a peculiarly-fashionable loathing of anything detached from money.
There is a professionally favored euphemism here. It’s called “wealth maximization.” The language provides cover for a nation’s abject indifference to serious learning.
As an easily verifiable matter of human history, resisting evil has had little to do with human intelligence. More often than we may care to admit, such intelligence is conveniently manipulated to justify or enlarge certain “others'” most excruciating forms of human suffering. Indeed, looking over the still-mounting wreckage of Donald Trump’s presidency in the United States, we see the palpably grim results of such manipulation, both domestically and in various other countries harmed by the dissembling American foreign policies.
In some cases, these are harms of US omission or inaction, rather than of commission. A specific case in point would by Syria, where Trump’s immutable unwillingness to get on the wrong side of Vladimir Putin has already created societal disintegration and unspeakable torment.
The main theme or question before us allows only a single coherent response. There is no way that a “good” American society can be created or sustained by an “evil” American president. Period. Before the United States allows itself to become even more thoroughly lost to any still credible hopes for human improvement and national survival, American citizens will have to build more purposefully upon this rudimentary wisdom. To be sure, we remain disturbingly far from understanding (let alone electing) Plato’s “Philosopher King,” but now we are at least better advised to reject American presidential evil at absolutely all costs.
Donald J. Trump does no evil for the sake of good. There is nothing “tragic” about his persistent across-the-board choice of evil postures and policies. In essence, he makes these barbarous choices because he is authentically committed to evil for evil’s own sake.
Left uncorrected, Trump will continue to bring to these deeply unhappy United States a self-inflicted future of national humiliation and determined anti-reason.
No such future could ever “make America great again.”
 On Realpolitik or power politics, see, by this author, Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpoliitk: US Foreign Policy and World Order (Lexington Books, 1984). See also his later book: Louis René Beres, America Outside the World: The Collapse of US Foreign Policy (Lexington Books, 1987).
 Incontestably, of course, Russia remains a significant nuclear threat to the United States. See, for example, by this author, Louis René Beres, at The War Room (US Department of Defense: Pentagon): https://warroom.armywarcollege.edu/articles/nuclear-decision-making/
 Journalist Bob Woodward called Trump’s efforts to conceal his knowledge of the virus from the public “one of the most tragic, outrageous acts by a sitting president in, maybe in history.”
 For early and informed assessments of nuclear war risks and consequences by this author, see: Louis René Beres, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016; 2nd. ed., 2018); Louis René Beres, Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (Lexington MA: Lexington Books, 1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: US Foreign Policy and World Order (Lexington MA; Lexington Books, 1984); and Louis René Beres, ed., Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Lexington MA: Lexington Books, 1986). See also, by Professor Beres, at The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: https://thebulletin.org/2016/08/what-if-you-dont-trust-the-judgment-of-the-president-whose-finger-is-over-the-nuclear-button/
 Such biological assaults have thus far been considered only as natural occurrences. Going forward, however, it is possible that pertinent pathogens could be weaponized, and that future instances of “plague” could emerge as a deliberate form of warfare and/or terrorism.
Like Jose Ortega y’Gasset, the Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung spoke usefully of “mass.” Earlier, Friedrich Nietzsche, had referenced this demeaning phenomenon as the “herd;” Sigmund Freud, as the “horde;” and Soren Kierkegaard, as the “crowd.”
 See, by this author, at The Daily Princetonian, Louis René Beres: https://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2018/06/a-core-challenge-of-higher-education
 See, by this author, at Yale Global Online, Louis René Beres: https://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/trump-and-destruction-american-mind
 These are not just matters of moral responsibility. The United States is obligated by the international law of human rights to intervene on behalf of such cruelly victimized populations. These international legal obligations are also incorporated in the national law of the United States, per Article 6 of the US Constitution (the “Supremacy Clause”) and several major US Supreme Court decisions. In the precise words of Mr. Justice Gray, delivering judgment of the US Supreme Court in Paquete Habana (1900): “International law is part of our law, and must be ascertained and administered by the courts of justice of appropriate jurisdiction….” (175 U.S. 677(1900)) See also Opinion in Tel-Oren vs. Libyan Arab Republic (726 F. 2d 774 (1984)).
 See, by this author, at Oxford University Press, Louis René Beres: https://blog.oup.com/2011/08/philosopher-king/
Prospects for U.S.-China Relations in the Biden Era
The U.S. presidential election which will be held on November 3 is drawing ever closer. As the Trump administration performs poorly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where the death toll in the U.S. exceeded 210,000, the election trend appears to be very unfavorable for Donald Trump.
According to a recent poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, Joe Biden led Trump by 14 percentage points in the national elections. It is worth noting that retired American generals, who have traditionally been extremely low-key in politics, publicly supported Biden this year, something that is quite rare. On September 24, 489 retired generals and admirals, former national security officials and diplomats signed a joint letter in support of Biden. Among them are Republicans, Democrats, and non-partisans, showing that they have crossed the affiliation, and jointly support Biden to replace Trump. Although the opinion polls do not represent the final election, with the election only being one month away, the widening of the opinion gap is enough to predict the direction of the election.
For the whole world, especially for China, it is necessary to prepare for the advent of a possible Biden era of the United States. During Trump’s tenure, U.S.-China relations have taken a turn for the worse, and China has been listed as the foremost “long-term strategic competitor” of the United States.
There is a general view in China that after the Democratic Party comes to power, U.S.-China relations may worsen. The reason is that the Democratic Party places more emphasis on values such as human rights and ideology and is accustomed to using values such as human rights, democracy, and freedom in foreign policies against China. However, as far as U.S.-China relations are concerned, it is too vague to use the simple dichotomic “good” or “bad” to summarize the relationship of the two countries.
However, it is certain that after Biden takes office, his policies will be different from Trump’s. An important difference between Biden and Trump is that Biden will follow a certain order and geopolitical discipline to implement his own policies, and he will also seek cooperation with China in certain bottom-line principled arrangements. It should be stressed that it is crucial for China and the United States to reach some principled arrangements in their relations.
From an economic point of view, should Biden become the next President, the United States will likely ease its trade policy, which will alleviate China’s trade pressure. It can be expected that the Biden administration may quell the U.S.-China tariff war and adjust punitive tariff policies that lead to “lose-lose” policies. If Biden takes office, he might be more concerned about politics and U.S.-China balance. In terms of trade, although he would continue to stick to the general direction of the past, this would not be the main direction of his governance. Therefore, the U.S.-China trade war could see certain respite and may even stop. In that scenario, China as the largest trading partner of the United States, could hope for the pressures in the trade with the U.S. being reduced.
China must also realize that even if Biden takes power, some key areas of U.S.-China relations will not change, such as the strategic positioning of China as the “long-term strategic competitor” of the United States. This is not something that is decided by the U.S. President but by the strategic judgment of the U.S. decision-making class on the direction of its relations with China. This strategic positioning destined that the future U.S.-China relations will be based on the pattern dominated by geopolitical confrontation. Biden sees that by expanding global influence, promoting its political model, and investing in future technologies, China is engaging a long-term competition with the U.S, and that is the challenge that the United States faces.
On the whole, if and when Biden takes office, the U.S. government’s domestic and diplomatic practices will be different from those of the Trump administration, although the strategic positioning of China will not change, and neither will it change the U.S.’ general direction of long-term suppression of China’s rise. However, in terms of specific practices, the Biden administration will have its own approaches, and will seek a certain order and geopolitical discipline to implement its policies. He may also seek to reach some bottom-line principled arrangements with China. Under the basic framework, the future U.S.-China relations will undergo changes in many aspects. Instead of the crude “an eye for an eye” rivalry, we will see the return to the traditional systemic competition based on values, alliance interests, and rules. Facing the inevitable changes in U.S.-China relations, the world needs to adapt to the new situation.
Third world needs ideological shift
As nations across the world have been pooling their efforts to contain the COVID-19 spread, the looming economic crisis has caught the attention of global intelligentsia. In the light of health emergency, The policy makers of Asia, Africa and Latin America have been struggling to steer the economic vehicle back to normalcy. Although, the reason for the economic slump could be attributed to the pandemic, it is also important to cast light on the economics of these tricontinental nations. Been as colonies for more than two centuries, these players had adopted the style of economics which is a mix of market economics and socialism. The imperial powers of the then Europe had colonised these nations and had subjugated them with their military and political maneuvers. Under the banner of White man’s burden, the Imperial masters had subverted the political, economical, social and cultural spheres of the colonies and had transformed these self-reliant societies into the ones which depend on Europe for finished products. The onslaught on the economical systems of colonies was done through one way trade. Though, the western powers brought the modern values to the third world during colonial era, they were twisted to their advantage. The European industrial machines were depended on the blood, sweat and tears of the people of colonies. It is clear that the reason for the backwardness of these players is the force behind the imperial powers which had eventually pushed them towards these regions in search of raw materials and markets i.e., Capitalism. Needless to say, the competition for resources and disaccord over the distribution of wealth of colonies led to twin world wars. Capitalism, as an economic idea, cannot survive in an environment of a limited market and resources. It needs borderless access, restless labour and timeless profit. While the European imperial powers had expanded their influence over Asia and Africa, the US had exerted its influence over Latin America. Earlier, at the dawn of modern-day Europe, The capitalist liberal order had challenged the old feudal system and the authority of church. Subsequently, the sovereign power was shifted to monarchial king. With the rise of ideas like democracy and liberty, complemented by the rapid takeoff of industrialization, the conditions were set for the creation of new class i.e., capitalist class. On the one hand, Liberalism, a polical facet of capitalism, restricts the role of state(political) in economical matters but on the other hand it provides enough room for the elite class and those who have access to power corridors to persuade the authority(state) to design the policies to their advantage. Inequality is an inescapable feature of liberal economics.
The powerful nations cannot colonise these nations as once done. The Watchwords like interconnectedness, interdependency and free trade are being used to continue their domination on these players. As soon as the third world nations were freed from the shackles of colonialism, they were forced to integrate their economies into the global economical chain. Characterized by the imbalance, the globalization has been used as a weapon by the Western powers to conquer the markets of developing nations.
The Carrot and stick policy of the US is an integral part of its strategy to dominate global economical domain. The sorry state of affairs in the Middle East and Latin America could be attributed to the US lust for resources. In the name of democracy, the US has been meddling in the internal affairs of nations across the developing world. Countries like Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Libya, Iraq and Syria have challenged the US,a global policeman. Back in the day,soon after assuming the power, the Left leadership in Latin American countries had adopted socialist schemes and had nationalised the wealth creating assets, which were previously in the hands of the US capitalists. Irked by the actions of these nations, the US had devised a series of stratagems to destabilize the regimes and to install its puppets through the imposition of cruel sanctions and by dubbing them as terrorist nations on the pretext of exporting violent communist revolution. With the exception of the regimes of Fidel castro in Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the US is largely successful in its agenda of destabilizing anti-American governments in the region. The US has a long history of mobilising anti-left forces in Latin America, the region which US sees as its backyard, in an attempt to oust socialist leaders. At present, by hook or by crook, the trump administration has been trying to depose Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela, a socialist.
In addition,The US has been colonising the minds of the third world citizens psychologically with its cultural hegemony and anti-left indoctrination. It is important to understand that the reason for the neo-fascism, which is unfurling across the developing and developed world alike, is rooted in capitalism.The third world citizenry is disgruntled and the ultra-nationalist right wing forces in these countries have been channeling the distress amongst the working class to solidify their position. Growing inequalities, Falling living standards, Joblessness and Insecurity are exposing the incompetence of capitalism and have been pushing a large chunk of workforce in the developing countries into a state of despair.Adding to their woes, the Covid-19 has hit them hard.
The US, with the help of IMF and the world bank, had coerced the developing countries to shun welfare economics.The term “Development” is highly contested in the economic domain.Capitalists argue that the true development of an individual and the society depends upon economic progress and the free market is a panacea for all problems.Given the monopolistic tendencies in the economical systems across the developing world, the free market is a myth, especially in a societies where a few of business families, who have cronies in policy making circles, dominates the economical and social scene.The time has come for the governments of these nations to address these issues and ensure that the wealth would be distributed in a more equitable manner.
The Election Circus and an Event in the Cosmos
The election in the US is held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. A Tuesday was chosen to allow people enough time to drive to the election site after Sunday, reserved for religious services and rest. Those were the horse and buggy days and it took a while. The people clearly had greater ardor for democracy then considering we get a less than 50 percent turnout now when voting sites are usually less than a five-minute drive.
Most states are either heavily Republican or Democrat so the results there are a foregone conclusion. The winners get the electors assigned to the state on a basis of population. The electors then vote for the nominees receiving the most votes in the state when the electoral college meets.
There are about a dozen battleground or swing states; among them Pennsylvania and Florida are prized for their high electoral votes — hence the repeated visits by the candidates. Trump won both in 2016. Will he this time?
Meanwhile two New York papers are busy running negative stories on candidates they oppose. The New York Times offers tidbits against Trump. The latest this week is that Trump has a Chinese bank account. The fact is not new since the information was filed with his tax returns — one has to report foreign bank accounts over $10,000 — but the news is intended as an example of Trump’s hypocrisy for he has been speaking out against doing business in China. The accounts in the name of Trump International Hotels have been moribund since 2015.
The New York Post, much less distinguished than the Times, is after Hunter Biden and through him his father, candidate Joe Biden. Last week the Post unearthed a dubious email purporting to show then Vice President Biden possibly meeting with Hunter’s potential business partner. This week there is a photograph of the Bidens, father and son, flanked by a Kazakh oligarch on one side and a former president of Kazakhstan on the other. The latest on the email issue has a certain Tony Bobulinski, one of the recipients, confirming the Post email adding that Hunter sought Dad’s advice on deals. There is also a proposed equity split referring to ’20’ for ‘H’ and ’10 held by H for the big guy.’
New York State may be a secure prize for Democrats but news stories these days are picked up on the internet and spread nationally and internationally. Surely the two newspapers have something really big up their sleeves for the week before the election.
Charges and counter-charges in the final presidential debate. Biden repeatedly blamed Trump for deaths from the Covid 19 epidemic. On almost everything Biden promised, Trump’s rejoinder was why he had not done it in the 47 years he was in public office including 8 years as vice president. This included mimicking Biden’s previously successful tactic of talking directly to the public. The same interests fund both major parties and they generally get what they want except that Trump mostly funded his campaign himself.
From all the ridiculousness to the sublime. Images of M87 are the first of any black hole swallowing whatever is within range. We are told of the discovery of a black hole in the center of our own Milky Way, presumably the eventual destination of everything in our galaxy. From this perspective the Trump-Biden debate, although quite important for our immediate future, seems to diminish to nothing in significance.
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