4
Nov

‘Brexit is the greatest threat to national wellbeing since the war, and this will test the mettle not just of individual MPs, but of the nature and purpose of a representative democratic system.’

A momentous constitutional decision was taken by the high court of England and Wales this morning. A prime minister’s absolute power to do what they like, when they like, regardless of laws and treaties, was struck down. Theresa May cannot tear up our right to be EU citizens without the authority of parliament. Those rights were bestowed by parliamentary votes in a series of treaties. She can’t high-handedly abandon them and trigger our exit from the EU without parliament’s agreement.

Judges, wisely, do not generally want to usurp the power of elected governments to govern. Laws made by judges are a poor substitute for those made by elected MPs in parliament. But this is a matter of the profoundest constitutional importance, with deep implications, controversial whichever way they had decided. They rightly pronounced that parliament is sovereign – which is what the Brexiters claimed we were voting on, until it no longer suited them. Read more…

https://www.theguardian.com; Polly Toynbee; 3 Nov. 2016

31
Oct

THE Chinese Communist Party likes to describe threats to its grip on power in barely comprehensible terms. Over the past three decades, it has struggled against the menace of “bourgeois liberalisation” (leaving many wondering whether there is an acceptable proletarian kind) and fought against “peaceful evolution” (exceedingly dangerous, for some reason, unlike “reform and opening up”). Now Xi Jinping, China’s president, is waging war against “historical nihilism”, a peril as arcane-sounding as it is, to his mind, grave. As a state news agency recently warned, there is a “seething undercurrent” of it in China. Failure to stamp it out, officials say, could lead to Soviet-style collapse.

Days before the party’s 350 or so most senior officials gathered in Beijing this week for a secretive conclave (as they normally do in the autumn), a party website published a compendium of Mr Xi’s public remarks on the nihilist problem (intriguingly headlined: “Xi Jinping: There Can Be No Nothingness in History”). People’s Daily, the party’s main mouthpiece, marked the start of the meeting with a commentary laced with references to the lessons of history, including the collapse of the Soviet Communist Party.

Against the flow

So what are the nihilists doing that so troubles China’s leaders? Mr Jiang’s main concern was a television series broadcast in 1988 called “River Elegy”, which had portrayed China as a country weighed down by a long history of backwardness and inward-looking conservatism. The documentary programmes had prompted energetic debate among intellectuals about how to reform China that helped foment the following year’s unrest. Read more…

The Economist, Oct 29th 2016

26
Oct

A thundercloud, heavy and dark gray. That is what it looks like from a distance. But the closer you get to Mosul from the south, the bigger and darker this cloud becomes. Instead of floating in the sky, it grows out of the ground, ultimately becoming a towering, opaque wall that swallowing entire villages, making them disappear into the darkness.

 Driving to Mosul is a drive into the apocalypse. Or at least that’s what it feels like, with the gigantic clouds of smoke coming from burning oil wells, reservoirs and ditches — laid out by Islamic State over the last two years and now set alight one after the other. Although it would normally be a sunny midday in fall, the military jeeps coming from the other direction have their lights on.

The dark curtain is meant to keep the attackers’ jets and helicopters at bay; the smoke irritates the throat and causes headaches. An armada of over 30,000 soldiers and fighters from at least a half-dozen countries began a major offensive against the de-facto capital of the “caliphate” in northern Iraq last Monday. It is not only the biggest coalition to have assembled in the fight against Islamic State (IS), it is also the least predictable. Read more…

 

http://www.spiegel.de/; By Christopher Reuter; Oct. 22nd

18
Oct

In Washington’s ongoing debate about the cause of the continuing chaos in the Middle East, President George W. Bush stands condemned for the 2003 intervention that pushed Iraq into civil war, while President Obama stands condemned for the nonintervention that worsened Syria’s civil war. In Libya, meanwhile, Washington’s partial intervention also failed to bring peace, while too few Americans are even aware of their country’s role in the conflict afflicting Yemen.

Without trying to defend or absolve U.S. policy, then, it is worth stepping back to ask what shared historical experiences might have left these four countries — Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen — particularly at risk of violent collapse. The following maps help highlight how, at various points over the past century, historical circumstances conspired, in an often self-reinforcing way, to bolster the stability of some states in the region while undermining that of others.

1. Century-old states are more stable today

Countries whose political or geographic precedents stretch back over a century are more stable today. Turkey, Egypt, Iran, and, to some extent, the ruling dynasties of what are now Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, all, in one form or another, trace their current political structures to the late 19th century, before European colonialism took root in the region. Consequently, they were more likely to have the resources to maintain some independence in the face of European imperialism, or at least negotiate a less disruptive form of colonial rule.

 

Read more…

14
Oct

jacquie

Jacqueline Williams, MIR 2016/2017 Candidate

12.10.16

Blog Post #1

Jacqueline (Jackie) Williams is the IE Fellow Scholarship Recipient for the Master in International Relation’s Program (2016-2017). A native of Syracuse, New York, USA, Jackie attended the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. from 2009-2013 where she received a Bachelor’s in Politics with a focus in International Relations, as well as a Minor Degree in Spanish. During her time as an undergraduate student, Jackie spent her free time participating in one of CUA’s acapella vocal groups as well as volunteering with the international co-ed community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. She spent a summer abroad in Madrid, Spain studying at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She’s interned with the Embassy of Peru in the Office of Public Diplomacy and with the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence in Washington, D.C. After graduating, Jackie moved to Lima, Peru where she worked for several months with the NGO Krochet Kids International. Upon returning to D.C., Jackie worked for FHI 360, a well-known non-profit human development organization. After some time at FHI 360, Jackie moved back to upstate, New York to work on the Democratic Primary Race in the 24th Congressional District. Once the election ended, Jackie decided to return to Madrid and continue her education in International Relations at IE.

Tell us more about your experience in Peru

 

Upon graduating from college in the spring of 2013, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel to Lima, Peru and work for Krochet Kids International, a non-profit organization established there in 2011. The focus of Krochet Kids international is the empowerment of individuals, particularly women, through a program that provides employment, education, and mentorship support in order to create a holistic approach to development. Once I arrived to Peru and settled in at the headquarters in the ocean front town of Pacífico, a low-income community in the Municipality of Chorrillos, I set to work. I assisted with the Knitting Initiative and the roughly thirty women who worked there at the time. That meant I was in charge of weighing the yarn that needed to be distributed for production, the quality control of products after completion, and the oversight of the women on that floor.

The services provided to the beneficiaries; honest employment, a trained skill, classes in reproductive health and finance and the mentorship program, are all critical in order to equip the women with a path towards independence and free from poverty. I spent most of my time with the women benefiting from the program in their communities and built lasting relationships that continue to this day. There are over a hundred women and some men benefiting from Krochet Kids Peru’s empowerment program today and many of my friends who have now graduated from the program have moved on to further their education and careers.

Share with us a story from your experience at the White House

 

One of the best internship opportunities I had while studying for my Bachelor’s degree at CUA in Washington D.C., was interning for The White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. In this particular office of the White House, I responded to U.S. constituent letters and e-mails on behalf of President Obama. I also had the opportunity to correspond to letters from Spanish speaking citizens in the Spanish Correspondence Office. One of my favorite experiences during my time there was meeting and chatting with First Lady, Michelle Obama. She thanked me for my hard work and dedication to the office and graciously accepted my compliments on her new haircut and her magenta boots that naturally matched her dress. It was an honor to intern for the Obama Administration and something I’ll always cherish.

Why did you choose the MIR Program?

 

I chose the Master in International Relations Program for a number of reasons. First, I love Madrid, and the time I spent studying abroad here for a summer in 2011, wasn’t enough time to take advantage of everything the city has to offer. I’ve wanted to come back and explore this city, get to know its’ people and understand and appreciate its’ culture further since then. Secondly, being a Mexican American who can trace my ancestry back to Spain, it’s important to me to continue to use and better my Spanish speaking skills and absorb as much history as Spain has to offer. Thirdly, not only is IE a well-known prestigious multi-cultural school, but it’s also much more affordable than some of the master’s programs I was accepted into in the States! Lastly, I get to spend a year with classmates from 17 other countries who speak a combination of 36 other languages, who, I can tell already, will become some of my lifelong friends.

You just started the program, how do you feel?

 

I couldn’t be more excited to be back in Madrid and be at IE. Although, the settling into Madrid process has been a bit overwhelming, orientation went great and it’s been a pleasure to get to know all of my new classmates and professors! I’ve heard a number of times that this year will come with some stressful and sleepless nights, but I’ve also been encouraged by previous students and professors alike to go out, enjoy Madrid and cherish this experience. I’m confident that I will be able to manage my time here and do just that!

What would you like to do after the MIR Program?

 

After I complete the MIR program, I would like to continue to work in international relations. I’m most interested in conflict resolution and humanitarian aid, so I’m hoping this year at IE will help me decide which path I should focus on and I’m excited to see where it will lead me.

 

Video:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0FHWVd4gdlAN2NvbmFVbXMtTHc/view

 

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