Archive for the ‘Topics’ Category

30
Dec

Last Monday, at the conclusion of China’s closed-door Central Economic Work Conference, Beijing’s public relations machine went into high gear to show that the country’s leaders had come up with a viable plan to rescue the economy.

Unfortunately, they do not now have such a plan. In reality, they decided to continue strategies that both created China’s current predicament and failed this year to restart growth.
The severity of China’s economic problems—and the inability to implement long-term solutions—mean almost all geopolitical assumptions about tomorrow are wrong. Virtually everyone today sees China as a major power in the future. Yet the country’s extraordinary economic difficulties will result in a collapse or a long-term decline, and either outcome suggests China will return to the ranks of weak states.

As an initial matter, China’s current situation is far worse than the official National Bureau of Statistics reports. The NBS maintains that the country’s gross domestic product rose 6.9 percent during the third calendar quarter of this year after increases of 7.0 percent during each of the first two quarters.

Willem Buiter, Citigroup’s chief economist, a few months ago suggested the rate was closer to 4 percent, and growth could be as low as the 2.2 percent that people in Beijing were privately talking about mid-year. The most reliable indicator of Chinese economic activity remains the consumption of electricity, and for the first eleven months of the year electricity consumption increased by only 0.7 percent according to China’s National Energy Administration. Read more…

Published on Dec. 29 in nationalinterest.org 

Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China.

25
Dec

Last week the Iraqi government in Baghdad claimed that Turkey had violated its sovereignty by deploying troops and tanks to the town of Bashiqa, north of Mosul. Turkey has stated that this deployment is part of a previously agreed plan to train Iraqi Kurdish forces to combat ISIL. Some Iraqi officials in the central government deemed it a Turkish “invasion”.

The deployment, which had the blessing of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq, but resulted in condemnation from the central Iraqi government in Baghdad, is symptomatic of the schizophrenic foreign policy of post-2003 Iraq, compounded by a complete reversal of a Turkish policy of allying with Iraq’s Kurds against Turkey’s own Kurds

I am not using “schizophrenia” to be dismissive of this medical condition. Adham Saouli, professor at St Andrews University, applied this “condition” to Iraq, writing: “As fragmented states, Lebanon and Iraq suffer from what one may call political schizophrenia. Like schizophrenia, this is a personality split resulting from the coexistence of opposed sets of identities and pursuits.”

Confusing matters

To highlight this dynamic, the KRG in Iraq is governed by two Iraqi Kurdish factions, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Turkey is in an alliance with the KDP, the party of Masoud Barzani, president of the KRG.

To make matters more confusing, Fouad Massoum of the PUK is the president of Iraq itself, thus representing the central Iraqi government. The secular, ethno-national PUK has cultivated ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, yet is pro-US at the same time. Read more…

 

Published on Dec. 16 in www.aljazeera.com

Ibrahim al-Marashi is an assistant professor at the Department of History, California State University, San Marcos. He is the co-author of “Iraq’s Armed Forces: An Analytical History.” He is a former professor in the Master in International Relations at IE School of International Relations.

24
Dec

With the results of Spain’s election on Sunday, a tumultuous 2015 for Europe is ending on a stinging note that underscores Germany’s increasing isolation and Europe’s deepening division.

Spain’s voters followed those in Portugal and Greece this year in punishing a conservative government that had allied with Brussels, Berlin and international creditors in carrying out the austerity policies pushed as the solution to Europe’s debt crisis.

After the Spanish vote, Italy’s prime minister, Matteo Renzi, a center-leftist who had built a good relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, renewed his attack on austerity and, quite nearly, Ms. Merkel personally, effectively blaming her policies for the rise of populism across Europe. Read more...

Published on Dec. 22 in www.nytimes.com

16
Dec

Thousands of people on a march for global climate justice in Paris

The climate accord reached by 195 countries in Paris on Saturday, which aims to halt global warming within this century, is being heralded by many world leaders, climate scientists, and news organizations as the turning point in the fight against human-induced climate change. The Guardian even went so far as to call the agreement the “end of the fossil fuel era,” as did activist leaders like May Boeve, the executive director of the environmentalist organization 350.org. In remarks celebrating the accord, President Obama said that the agreement was “the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet that we’ve got,” and that it showed “what’s possible when the world stands as one.” He also declared that the resulting deal “establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis.”

However, many proponents of the plan agree that its value is more about symbolism and hoped-for gains than near-term substance, and critics are zooming in on the agreement’s lack of legal teeth, as well as how optimistic it seems to be about future international cooperation, technological advancement, and the sustained domestic will within each country. Much of the agreement was reportedly made deliberately vague so as to avoid hurdles like the Republican-controlled Senate. According to climate scientists, the voluntary emissions-reduction plans already fall far short of the agreement’s goal of keeping the world temperature less than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by the year 2100.

 

Read more…

 

Published on December 13, 2015

http://nymag.com

15
Dec

Marine Le Pen, Postponed

Written on December 15, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Democracy & Human Rights, Europe, Op Ed

The good news, on Sunday night, was that the National Front failed to win any of the 13 French regions. The prospect of seeing the far-right party’s leader, the bellicose Marine Le Pen, as chairwoman of the northern region, or her young equally pugnacious niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, as head of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in the south, had evaporated.

One week earlier, after the first round of regional elections, their party had achieved unprecedented results, reaching 40 percent of the vote in those two regions and scoring a national average of 27.7 percent, ahead of all other parties. On Sunday, French voters rallied to stop them. Many who had stayed away for the first round eventually turned up for the second round.

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