Iraq’s reforms may help it avoid Lebanon’s sectarian fateYesterday afternoon, Iraq’s parliament approved some of the most significant changes to the country’s political system since the 2003 invasion.

Most analysts have focused on the proposals of prime minister Haider Al Abadi that tackle corruption. But the reforms also have another aspect, one that has the potential to fundamentally change how democratic politics is done in Iraq. Whether that change will be for the better is as yet unknown.

Mr Al Abadi proposed removing the positions of the two vice-presidents and three deputy prime ministers. The two vice-presidents were meant to be shared between the Sunni and Shia communities (one and two respectively), and the three deputy prime ministers divided among Sunni, Shia and Kurdish communities. When it was first proposed, in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, it was an inelegant solution to a problem of representation.

Mr Al Abadi has also banned a quota system across ministries, which, again, had a sectarian element meant to placate various communities. He has replaced it with a committee to oversee appointments – chosen by him.

If the old system of allocating political positions based on religion sounds familiar, that is because it has been tried before, in Lebanon.

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Published on Aug. 11 in http://www.thenational.ae by Faisal Al Yafai


Colonialism, Invasion, and Atomic Bombs: Asia’s Divergent Histories

On September 3 of each year, Chinese people celebrate their victory over Japan in the Pacific War, which ended in the summer of 1945. This year, which marks the 70th anniversary of that victory, the Chinese government has designated September 3—and the days before and after—a national holiday so that “all Chinese can join the celebration.” The government has also extended an invitation to the leaders of other countries, including North and South Korea, to attend their memorial military parade. However, although they too fought against the Japanese colonial power in the same war, Koreans celebrate the nation’s “day of liberation” from Japanese rule on August 15, not September 3.

For Japan, the day to commemorate (and not to celebrate) is August 6, the day that the U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima. A memorial service honoring the victims of atomic bombs, along with a lantern floating ceremony, is held in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to bear wishes for lasting peace and harmony in the world. Meanwhile, the United States officially “remembers” only the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, holding an annual memorial parade and commemoration on December 7.

The above examples illustrate how differently the countries involved remember and revisit the memories of an unfortunate past marked by war and colonialism in the Asia-Pacific region. For Chinese and Koreans, Japanese acts of aggression, such as the Nanjing massacre, forced labor, and sexual slavery, are the most crucial in their memories of the war. Accordingly, it is only natural for Chinese to celebrate their victory over Japan and for Koreans to celebrate the day on which they regained national sovereignty from the “vicious” Japanese colonial power. Read more…


Nato’s challenge from within

Written on August 10, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in News, Security

At the 1949 signing ceremony for the Washington Treaty that created NATO, a band played show tune selections from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, including “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, what NATO itself calls the cornerstone of the alliance, commits members to come to each other’s defense. Sixty-six years after NATO’s creation, a recent Pew Research Center survey of people in nine NATO nations, representing the lion’s share of NATO defense spending, suggests public commitment to Article 5 “ain’t necessarily so.”At a time of tensions with Russia not seen since the Cold War, many publics in the Western alliance are divided in their support for a potential military confrontation with Moscow over its territorial ambitions. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, NATO’s challenges are now not just “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic,” but at home.

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Published on August 6th by Bruce Stokes in foreign policy.com


The meltdown of the global order

Written on August 7, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Global Economy

Just over a century ago, in a lecture to the Royal Geographical Society, British geographer Halford Mackinder laid out the fundamental tenets of a new discipline that came to be known as “geopolitics.” Simply put, he said, international relations boiled down to the intersection of unchanging physical geography with the vagaries of human politics. Only one constant was ever in that equation: “The social movements of all times,” he said, “have played around essentially the same physical features.”But here’s the thing: Today the “geo” in “geopolitics” is actually changing, chiseling away at one of the core principles that has guided foreign policy in the United States, Europe, and Asia for the past 100 years. Oceans and islands are appearing where they weren’t before, once-constant coastlines face a salty dissolution, and formerly fertile breadbaskets are doomed to be barren. So what do we do when both parts of Mackinder’s equation are in flux?

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Published by Keith Johnson on July 23rd in Foreignpolicy.com




On Friday 24 July, the 6th intake of the Master in International Relations proudly graduated in the stately Aula Magna of IE’s Segovia campus. Diego de Alcazar, IE’s President, Rafael Benjumea, Chairman of the IE International Advisory Board, and Arantza de Areilza, Dean of the IE School of International Relations, presided the event. The keynote address was given by Eugenio Galdon, founder of ONO.  His inspiring remarks resonated strongly with the hundreds of graduates present in IE’s hallowed halls.

The ceremony was followed by a cocktail in the IE cluster where graduates and their families enjoyed various Spanish delicacies. This was the first time MIR students graduated in Segovia and the whole experience was quite memorable.

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