As the present world order weakens, the mega confrontations have appeared more likely: On its post-Soviet revival quest, Russia becomes increasingly assertive in Euro-MED theatre and beyond. The Sino-American relations are increasingly adversarial, with escalating frictions over trade, advanced technology, human rights, and global strategic influence.
Currently, both sides – as president of the US Council of Foreign Relations Richard Haass states – ‘are developing scenarios for a possible war’. The two countries rhetoric has grown so hostile that its speed and severity is unprecedented for the post WWII period, rather belonging to the forgotten vocabulary of 1910s and 1930s. (E.g. referring to PRC as ‘Country of Kung Flu’ or to the US as ‘trigger happy nation’; calling the C-19 ‘China virus’ or ‘US Army brought pathogen’; China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman referring to the US leadership as ‘Elements deluded by the Capitol Hill metastasis’ while the US State Secretary calls the Chinese Communist Party ‘rogue actor’, and then in return Secretary Pompeo gets proclaimed as ‘the public enemy of mankind’ – just to name but few from the long list of heavy verbal fire exchanges between the two.)
Strategic decoupling between the biggest manufacturer of American goods – China, and its largest consumer – the US, seems inevitable.
It also appears increasingly irreversible, no matter if the change of leaders in Beijing or in Washington may or may not happen beyond 2020. This will of course trigger a global realignment and new fragilities to all default lines on land and seas, in skies, cyberspace and near outer space.
White House and House of Cards
Of course, many would reject the above as an overstatement and author’s alarmism. To this end, let us state some facts:
- Extensive exchange of goods is not deterrent. Trade is an instrument of power not a virtue per se, even though be it the RCEP or TPP. (The case of the UK and Germany in the eve of the WWI, and of Japan and the US in 1941, are the most known, in the series of such examples starting with the Peloponnese, Trojan and Punic wars, through the Napoleonic wars and Continental blockade all the way up to modern times, when nations were ‘sleepwalking’ strait into a major mutually devastating and lasting armed conflict.);
- Absence of (regional) nuclear parity deterrent. (Asia hosts by far the largest number of nuclear powers – 2 legitimate, 3 declared, 1 undeclared and at least 2 states with the credible delivery systems and N-ready ‘turn-key’ technology. None of them is even by its quantities, qualities, configurations and delivery capabilities – which makes the First strike doctrine tempting.)
- Diminishing international order due to a combination or either of the following:
- Successful challenger to the Status Quo power/s. Or when a Dismissive meets a Neuralgic one. (Such constellation makes both sides nervous: Challenger is eager to contend and change, and the Status Quo power tempts to strike sooner as it feels the time does not contribute to its strength – with a compromise as a biggest looser. The modern-day China is portrayed as once-upon-a-time Imperial Germany – an illiberal opaque power that misuses liberal system on its unchecked quest for a world domination. Collision course is fanned irrespectively from a fact that there are no overlapping territorial claims or even common borders, as well as despite an unprecedented interconnectivity and mutually brought prosperity. Confrontation is not only geo-economic but also ideological: Liberal world of freedom against illiberal order of coercion.);
- Weakening political support of the main guarantors to the existing International Regime, due to their contracting economics and/or demographics (Simply, Trump, Johnston, Bolsonaro, Modi, Kaczyński, Orbán are not causes to but the consequences of fading politico-economic system of the western type of democracy);
- Absence of the comprehensive regional system to temporarily uphold or replace the shrinking global one (while Europe is the most multilateralised region on our planet, Asia is the only world’s continent that has no single, even less the security related, pan-continental organisation).
Although the new US President is in place, it would be foolish to expect any policy reversal. The new administration will see China the same way: Not as a dangerous (trade) rival, but as a foe.
Is this yet another author’s alarmism?
Biden presidency will be one of the weakest in the past 100 years. It is indeed a Pyrus victory: Trump got few million votes more now than in 2016 (i); Senate is controlled by Republicans (ii); angry Trump electorate is deeply convinced that the victory has been stolen from them, and will be further galvanising enlarging noising and tilting to the right for the following 4 years (iii); the blue-collar America firmly believes China steals their jobs – and none on the Democratic left even attempted to refute that (iv). Hence, Biden’s four years in office (if) will be marked by alienation from those electing him, and by pure agony of cohabitation with stifling Republicans. Administration will remain paralysed (if even willing) for any reversed yet fresh policy formulation.
Finally, history of the US bipartisanism teaches us that traditionally Democrats were opening wars while Republicans were those closing them. Overstatement? Mind, also that for nearly past 150 years, Trump presidency was the only 4-year period Americans did not start a single war. Many now believe, it is a high time to recuperate and compensate.
Ergo, a change in the White House – paradoxically enough – will not slow down the ongoing strategic decoupling and to it compulsory global re-alignment. On contrary, it will only accelerate its speed and severity.
To be sure; only a measurable success in the US-led de-Chinasation of the West will determine how far (and how long) will take the ongoing de-globalization, and if the second phase will be a reversibility, a re-globalization of the world. There is no other way to convert growing nationalistic passions into internationalist drives.
History of Future – Inevitability …
It was expected that by the end of 2020s, Asian economies will be larger than the rest of world’s economies combined. Africa-Middle East were to come up next. Of course, that was only a prediction made before C-19 and the sudden Sino-American rift. Or this was the origin of that rift? – It is still to be seen.
Past the demise of global communism, many in Asia, Africa and Middle East enjoyed for decades, the best of both worlds: Cheep products from China and the military protection – or at least an implicit security guaranty – from the US, nearly for free.This especially goes for the southeast Asia (formerly representing the major Asian default line), large sways of south Afro-Asia and of the Far East.
The imposed re-alignment will hit them particularly hard – from a prosperous meeting point of goods, cultures and ideas into the politico-military default lines. This painful readjustment may last for decades to come. Opting for either side will not only impact economy trade and security but will also determine a health of population and societal model, too. Unprepared and unwilling for either-or – particularly Asia – missed to build, what I called for over a decade; a comprehensive cross-continental security setting (the pan-Asian OSCE).
The inland giga-demography, inward looking culture, obedient imitator, humble manufacturer en mas – overnight presses globally and over the sea lanes: From diligent labourer to the omnipresent global power. In the grand rapprochement of 1970s, the coastal areas of China have been identified by the West as its own industrial suburbia. And now, that ‘industrial zone’ has a coherent planetary plan.
Was the Deng’s China joining the system to preserve it, or to tacitly hijack it from within? The shockwaves swept all in the West. The US – after its initial hangover – undergoes a painful adjustment: There is a growing consensus among all stakeholders in Washington that the strategic engagement is a failed policy with Beijing – something that obviously did not preserve the US interests, even less its supremacy. Chine is not a dangerous (trade) rival, it is a foe.
This will now seek for the binary acclamation all over the rest of our world. Time of ‘either-with-us-or-against-us’ returns, while the Middle East – North Africa (MENA) and Afro-Asia have no their third way readily prepared to offer (for at home and abroad) but only alignment behind one or the other – reminiscence of the pre WWI Europe with the two rigid (and soon conflagrating) blocks.
Beyond the Sino-world, the rest of Asia, Africa and Middle East (ME) are also dominated by megademographies, brewing social mobilisations, expectations and migrations, inward looking regressive political culture (often lacking the world-view perspectives and contributions), insecure Asian nuclear powers, and history of rather hierarchical international conduct and architecture, than of a multivectoral vibrant active foreign policy (a bandwagoning instead of multilateralism).
All this necessitates to revisit the fundamentals of the African Union (AU), Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), League of Arab States (LAS) and other similar mechanisms: But it even more invites to rethink and reinvigorate the best of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which saved the world from the past irresponsibilities and frictions of the two confronted blocks that contested each other all over the globe for decades.
Case of the EU – AU’s(or ASEAN’s) twin sister – is an indicative: At present, the EU is destructive in MENA, dismissive with Russia, neuralgic on Turkey and post-Yugoslav space, obedient to China and submissive to the US. None of it serves interests of Europe on a long run.
However, realities are plain to see: the ME seeks for consolidation, Russia for cooperation, China for domination and the US for isolation. Judging the (in-)action of the current Commission, seems the EU does not grasp it well. Therefore, losses its appeal, and tomorrow it may its substance as well, with overall BRAINXIT. Desirably, the AU (or ASEAN) should learn from the Twin’s, not from its own, mistakes:
The Indo-Pacific, ‘The Quad’, initiative (from Horn of Africa to East Pacific coast) is not a viable policy response for the age of global realignment. It is rather a panicking tactics of imperial retreat (seen in the past with the ‘Coalitions of the Willing’). Why to side it up in lieu of the long-term principles shouldering the skilfully calibrated strategic and emancipatory orientation?
MENA and Afro-Asia should not exhaust its entire foreign policy intellectualism on that. A host of historic south-south summit of 1956 (RI), champion of true multilateralism, along with numerous founding members of NAM should not peripheries themselves by becoming a default, Maginot Line but should lead a reinvigorated Third way.
Between confrontation and bandwagoning, it is time for a true multilateralism (active and peaceful coexistence postulated by the NAM). The Movement gave for so many and for so long a security shelter, voice above weight, sense of civilisational purpose, and a promising future of attainable prospect on the planetary quest for a self-realisation of mankind.
Confrontation is what you get, and cooperation is what you are fighting for.
To this day, the US has concluded the security guaranty accord with some 70 countries on all continents of the world.
The Unabashed Irony of the UNSC Reforms
The war in Ukraine has prompted multiple factors to breach the historical course. Oil prices have flickered near record highs, commodity valuations are through the roof, and global inflation is untenable. A robust western response to the Russian invasion is a rare display of western concord, not seen since the end of World War II. The waning neutrality of Finland and Sweden is the recent chapter in this NATO vs Russia saga. Nevertheless, conflicts as such are nothing new to global diplomacy. A recap of the yesteryears enlists multiple examples of Russian brutality – from Georgia to Chechnya to Ukraine to Syria. However, the dialled-up reaction to the invasion today is somewhat eccentric; divergent from the traditional path of diplomacy and instead focused on the economic (and political) derailment. Tough sanctions were already biting hard, pushing Russia on the verge of an international default – the first in decades. Adding weight to injury, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convened earlier to reform the decades-old system of veto of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
The consensus vote now dictates a supplementary meeting to defend any vetos cast in the Council. Since its inception, five permanent members of the Security Council – the US, UK, France, Russia, and China – can cast a veto to block any resolution presented in the Council. Now, the General Assembly must meet within ten days of any veto cast in the Security Council to demand an explanation from the veto casting member. In theory, the reform is intended to ask for an explanation from the big five regarding their regular abuse of veto power. However, it hardly curbs the power of the big five when it comes to utter disregard for international law or advancing barbaric allies. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has kickstarted this odd trail towards accountability in the Security Council. Curiously, Russia would not be in the hot seat much longer. The United States, on the other hand, has a long-winded history of power abuse.
While the veto of the Russian envoy has incensed the western bloc, the US has consistently used its veto to guard allies from accountability for their inhuman conduct. In 1977, the US blocked sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa. An authoritarian government that programmed actual death squads to detain, torture, and murder the black community. Mr. Joe Biden recently casually tossed the word ‘genocide’ to describe the atrocities of Russia in Ukraine. However, he failed to mention the cruelties inflicted by his own nation. His convoy to the UN delivered an emotional spiel when the Russian envoy vetoed the resolution. “Russia cannot veto accountability,” she said. Well let us unravel the convoluted history of human rights abuse and the misuse of veto power by the United States.
Since 1989, the US has cast three vetos to defend its own illegal invasions. Exactly how destructive were these invasions? According to a Senior US Defence Intelligence Agency, the first 24 days of Russia’s bombing of Ukraine were less catastrophic than the first 24 hours of US bombing in Iraq in 2003. Since 2001, the US (and its allies) have dropped over 337,000 bombs and missiles – 46 per day – on nine countries. A UN assessment mission reported that the US-led campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was the heaviest bombing anywhere in decades. The report also counted 40,000 verified civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria. I haven’t even discussed Afghanistan, Vietnam, or Panama. I have even skipped past the US proxy wars in Angola and Zimbabwe. The brutality of the United States is the fact that makes this UNSC reform a joke in the guise of hypocrisy.
The United States cast 25 of the last 30 vetos to defend Israel from international condemnation. According to data published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 5,600 Palestinians were murdered between 2008 and 2020, while nearly 115,000 were injured. Last year alone, the 11-day Israel-Palestine war killed 275 Palestinian civilians – including 61 children and 35 women. The war decimated about 94 buildings in Gaza and displaced over 72,000 Palestinians. How did the law-abiding US respond to such human rights abuse? The so-called ethical United States blatantly blocked the UNSC joint statement – three times in a single week. Imposing sanctions on Russia while supplying military aid to Israel, it doesn’t take a genius to grasp the duplicity of the United States at display.
In my opinion, the UNSC reform would not change anything for the better. Sure, this stipulation could guilt-trip Russia into embarrassment. But an explanation of a veto would unlikely deter seasoned diplomats, rendered blasé about the atrocities inflicted by their nation, from justifying their abuse of power. The US, for instance, would only resort to lexical gimmicks in its defense of Israel. “Right to defend itself” has been the general parlance of the US to describe the Israeli genocide in Palestine. I do not doubt that the US (and the rest of the big five) have skilled envoys to weave emotional speeches and complex jargon to justify vetos in the Security Council. It is only a matter of time before this explanatory bid would be nothing but a PR segment to further the agenda of mocking international law. Nonetheless, it is funny how once the tables are turned, the veto seems an inconvenience rather than the traditional hedge against the backlash. I am particularly enjoying how the US is finally feeling the folly of its ways.
Russia-Ukraine War, China and World Peace
On May 3, when asked about the possible causes of the Ukrainian tragedy, His Holiness Pope Francis speculated about an “anger” probably “facilitated initially by NATO’s barking at Russia’s door. I cannot say whether this anger was provoked, but it was probably facilitated”.
What do the Pope’s words mean? In short, they mean that in international relations – of which the Holy See is Master of the Art – two things count: respect for the other and ignorance. The former is to be always placed as a founding element of peace, the latter is to be eradicated, especially in countries like Italy and in many others, as a factor of war.
Why was the Soviet Union respected and why the same respect and consideration is not owed to Russia? Why with the Soviet Union, after the normalisation of the Prague Spring, did a still divided but wise Europe (today, instead, united only by the banks’ and bankers’ money) and a sharp-witted West, with Russia’s agreement, launch the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe? Why instead did a powerless Europe, a semi-colony of the United States of America – with the UK as the 51st star on its flag – together with the White House, pretend not to see what was happening in Ukraine? Why did they turn a blind eye to this conflict, which has been going on since 2014, and fomented the rise to power of people who, by inciting hatred against Russia, were under the illusion that NATO would come to their aid, turning Europe into a pool of blood for their purposes?
Do some people probably believe that Russia is still that of Yeltsin, ready to open up – in every sense – to the first master coming along? These are the cases in which respect is lacking and ignorance triumphs.
As to an example of ongoing and consistent respect in foreign affairs, it is useful to comment on a recent speech delivered on April 21 by China’s President Xi Jinping, which developed several points.
He pointed out that, for over two years, the international community has made strenuous efforts to meet the challenge of COVID-19 and promote economic recovery and development in the world. He added that the difficulties and challenges show that the international community has a shared future for better or for worse, and that the various countries must strive for peace, development, and win-win cooperation so as to work together and tackle the different problems that gradually emerge on the scene.
With a view to facing the health emergency, China has provided over 2.1 billion vaccine doses to over 120 countries and international organisations and it will continue to make the pledged donations of 600 million doses to African countries and 150 million doses to the countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to proactively help bridge the vaccine gap.
With specific reference to the economic recovery, President Xi Jinping pledged to keep on building an economy open to the world, strengthening macroeconomic policy coordination and preserving the stability of industrial and supply chains, as well as promoting balanced, coordinated and inclusive development globally. He said: “People need to be put first and development and social welfare must be prioritised. It is important to promote pragmatic studies in priority areas such as poverty reduction, security, food, development finance and industrialisation, as well as work on solving the issue of unbalanced and insufficient development, and move forward by establishing job creation initiatives.”
With regard to the recent war clashes, President Xi Jinping deems necessary to jointly safeguard world peace and security. I wish to add that the Cold War-style mentality – what is happening in Ukraine, i.e. the West disrespecting Russia, considering it an enemy as in the past, but not as strong as in the days of the CPSU – can only undermine world peace. Hegemonism aimed at conquering Eurasia – as the land that holds the remaining raw materials on the planet – and the policy of the strongest country can only undermine world peace. The clash of blocs can only worsen the security challenges of the 21st century.
Why, while the Warsaw Pact (of which the People’s Republic of China was never a member and never wanted to be a member) was dissolved, did the same not happen with NATO? China has always wanted to promote world peace, never wanting to be part of aggressive and barking alliances.
China pledges to advance the vision of common, integrated, cooperative and sustainable security and to jointly preserve world peace and security. It pledges to respect all countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity; to pursue non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, and to respect the development path and social system chosen by peoples. It pledges to abide by the aims and principles of the UN Charter; to reject the warmongering mentality (opposing the good countries by default vs. the bad ones conventionally); to oppose unilateralism and to reject the policy of bloc confrontation. China takes all countries’ security concerns and legitimate interests into account. It pursues the principle of indivisible responsibilities and builds a balanced and effective security architecture. It opposes one country seeking its own security by fomenting insecurities in the others. China seeks dialogue and consultation, as well as peaceful solutions to inter-State differences and disputes. It supports all efforts for the peaceful settlement of crises. It refrains from double standards and rejects the arbitrary use of unilateral extraterritorial sanctions and jurisdictions.
It is crucial to adopt a comprehensive approach to maintain security and respond together to regional disputes and planetary challenges such as terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity and biosecurity.
Global governance challenges must be addressed together. The world countries are on an equal footing when it comes to sharing fortunes and misfortunes. It is unacceptable to try to throw anyone overboard. The international community is currently a sophisticated and integrated device. Removing one of its components makes it very difficult for it to function, to the detriment of the party that is deprived by others of its own guarantees that call into question the very existence of a State – such as trying to deploy nuclear warheads a few kilometres from a capital city.
Only the principles of broad consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits can promote the common values of humanity, foster exchanges and inspire reciprocity between different civilisations. No one should believe to be better than another by divine grace or manifest destiny.
True and genuine multilateralism must be pursued and the international system centred on the United Nations and the world order based on international law must firmly be preserved. Great countries, in particular, must set an example in terms of respect for equality, cooperation, credibility and the rule of law to be worthy of their greatness.
In ten years of President Xi Jinping’s leadership, Asia has maintained overall stability and achieved fast and sustained growth, thus creating the “Asian miracle”. If Asia does well, the whole world will benefit. Asia has continued to strive to develop, build and maintain its strength, i.e. the basic wisdom that makes the continent a stabilising anchor of peace, an engine of growth and a pioneer of international cooperation.
These achievements come from as far back as the aforementioned Chinese refusal to join aggressive military blocs. They are based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence drafted by Prime Minister Zhou Enlai on December 31, 1953, published on April 29, 1954, and reaffirmed at the Bandung Conference on April 18-24, 1955: (i) mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty; (ii) mutual non-aggression; (iii) mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs; (iv) equality and cooperation for mutual benefit; (v) peaceful coexistence.
They are based on the Eight Principles for Foreign Aid and Economic and Technical Assistance proposed by the aforementioned Zhou Enlai before the Somali Parliament on February 3, 1964, which became the emblem of China’s presence in Africa: (i) China always bases itself on the principle of equality and mutual benefit in providing aid to other nations; (ii) China never attaches any conditions or asks for any privileges; (iii) China helps lighten the burden of recipient countries as much as possible; (iv) China aims at helping recipient countries to gradually achieve self-reliance and independent development; (v) China strives to develop aid projects that require less investment but yield quicker results; (vi) China provides the best-quality equipment and materials of its own manufacture; (vii) in providing technical assistance, China shall ensure that the personnel of the recipient country fully master such techniques; (viii) Chinese experts are not allowed to make any special demands or enjoy any special amenities.
Over the last ten years President Xi Jinping has successfully applied the Chinese doctrine in international relations, following and implementing his country’s multi-millennial traditions of diplomacy. ASEAN’s central place and role in the regional architecture has been strengthened in Asia, preserving the order that takes all parties’ aspirations and interests into account. Each country, whether large or small, powerful or weak, inside or outside the region, contributes to the success of Asia’s development, without creating war frictions. Each country follows the path of peace and development, promotes win-win cooperation and builds a large family of Asian progress.
The ASEAN countries are the following: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam (Papua New Guinea and East Timor as observers).
Furthermore, the fundamentals of China’s economy – its strong resilience, huge potential, ample room for manoeuvre and long-term sustainability – remain unchanged. They will provide great dynamism for the stability and recovery of the world economy and wider market opportunities for all countries.
The People’s Republic of China will be fully committed to its new development rationale. It will step up the establishment of a new growth paradigm, and redouble its efforts for high-quality development. China will promote high standards; expand the catalogue for the creation of new computer software; improve investment promotion services and add more cities to the comprehensive pilot programme for opening up the service sector.
China will take concrete steps to develop its pilot free trade zones and the Hainan Free Trade Port will be in line with high-standard international economic and trade rules and will move forward with the institutional opening process.
China will seek to conclude high-level free trade agreements with more countries and regions and will proactively endeavour to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA).
China is moving forward with the Silk Road (Belt and Road) cooperation to make it increasingly high-level, sustainable and people-centred. China will firmly follow the path of peaceful development and will always be a builder of world peace, as well as a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order.
Over the last ten years, under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, the People’s Republic of China has been following the old Chinese saying: “Keep walking and you will not be discouraged by a thousand miles; make steady efforts and you will not be intimidated by a thousand tasks”.
The More Things Change…
The brutality of ethnic cleansing is complete. It does not distinguish between mother and son, young and old, child or adult. It goes about its gruesome business without conscience or moral compensation. It is the conversion of man into an unthinking beast. It is Putin, Zelensky, Modi and Xi Jinping … all rolled into one. It is us. The seed is there, needing only fertile soil to germinate.
The EU announces more aid to Ukraine — mostly military aid; the US announces more aid to Ukraine — mostly military aid. The Ukrainians saying ‘we will never surrender’ continue to fight. The Russians asking for talks are not backing down. Ukraine’s real value to the world is as an exporter of grain which helps to stabilize grain prices. Feeding a war therefore, runs counter to such stability.
On the heels of covid and its inflationary fallout, who wants a rise in food prices? Not India, not Africa, not the EU and Russians are already feeling the pinch. Perhaps grain exporters in North America could be an exception. Yet at what cost?
According to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, the Security Council failed to prevent the war or to end it. How can it when the most influential member and its European allies are busy funding it?
Human strife is displayed on almost every continent. Stone throwing at ultra-nationalists by Palestinians after Friday prayers is a routine accompanied sometimes by tragedy. One side provokes, the other side retaliates. Stones are thrown, fights breakout. The authorities respond and more Palestinians are killed — fifteen last Wednesday. Is this the big story in Israel? Of course not.
A TV report accused millionaire Naftali Bennet, the current prime minister, of extravagant expenditure from the public purse at his home, which currently serves as his official residence.
Mr. Bennett disclosed that $26,400 of taxpayer money was spent on his home each month including a $7,400 food bill. His defense avers that his conduct is within the rules and that his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu spent, on average, $84,300 per month during his tenure.
Noting his efforts at parsimony, he pointed out he did not employ a cook as he is entitled to. Instead, the family sent out to restaurants, presumably the best ones, to have food delivered. Sensitive to the criticism, he states he will henceforth pay for all the food from his own picket.
Sara Netanyahu, his predecessor’s wife, had to admit misusing public funds during a similar scandal and was obliged to pay a $15,000 fine. The prime minister is paid $16,500 per month — average monthly salary in Israel is $3,500.
Plus ça change …
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