What Iranian Elections Mean for the Middle East

TORONTO (INPS) – What are the messages Iranians signalled by their robust election campaign and high turn out? Western nay-sayers say it shows discontent. But perhaps with a touch of envy, at a time when western politics is rife with discontent and yet elicits at best a yawn, or at worse, looks more like a circus. The Islamic revolution has had bad press in the West from the start, but the results show a level of freedom that contrasts favourably with the West, and puts paid to the mantra that the 2009 elections were stolen by the bad guys.

Educate UK Public on the History and Ideals of Europe

LONDON (IDN | INPS) – The British have a problem. A referendum on continuing membership of the European Union scheduled for June may lead to Brexit- Britain heading for the exit. Anybody with any knowledge of Europe’s war-like history knows this would be totally self-defeating.

Writing in 1751 Voltaire described Europe as “a kind of great republic, divided into several states, some monarchical, the others mixed but all corresponding with one another. They all have the same religious foundation, even if divided into several confessions. They all have the same principles of public law and politics unknown in other parts of the world.” But they also had a lot of war.

Ukraine’s Future Between Grim and Grimmer

LONDON – It’s two years since a mass of demonstrators brought down the centrist government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

We don’t hear much about Ukraine these days, mainly because the foreign journalists, not having too much to do – and often being freelance and therefore only paid by the number of lines they get printed – have gone home or to other hot spots.

Most of the news these days comes out of the Washington-based IMF that repeatedly warns that the economy of Ukraine teeters on the brink and that corruption remains so deep and widespread that it is difficult, to say the least, to get good economic decisions made.

The Heavy Price of Ignoring Realism in U.S. Foreign Policy

LONDON – There are three schools of thought in American foreign policy: two you have heard about and a third that is relegated to the background.

The first and arguably the most prominent is the neo-conservative. These people, in the days of the Soviet Union, were the rabid anti-communists who wanted to beat the Soviet Union into the ground with vastly increased spending on defence.

Today they are the ones who supported the extreme right wing agitators who overthrew the middle-of-the-road president of Ukraine, Wiktor Yanukovich. They supported President George Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and want President Barack Obama to intervene in Syria.

Political Freedom is in Decline

LONDON – Life, said Martin Luther King “is a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign”. He must have said that when his spirits were flagging as most of the time he was optimistic about making the world a better place.

I was reminded of this when reading a new report, “Freedom in the World, 2016”, written by the U.S.-based Freedom House. For the tenth consecutive year, it says, freedom has declined. 72 countries slipped back in the amount of political, civil rights and press freedom they allowed their citizens. 43 countries made gains.

However, to keep it in proportion, the number of countries which are free is much higher than when the Cold War ended. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of countries going backwards have small populations.

Peace is a Long Shot in Afghanistan, But Well Worth Trying

LONDON – The so-called Quadrilateral Coordination Group – comprising representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the U.S. – met in Kabul on January 18 to hold discussions on a roadmap to peace in Afghanistan.

A former Taliban senior official said that “military confrontation is not the solution” and that a “political solution” was needed to end the war in Afghanistan. “The motivation for peace talks was very weak in the past,” Mohammad Hassan Haqyar said. “But now the situation has changed and the parties seem to have a readiness for dialogue.”

Obama’s Often Overlooked Success In Foreign Policy

LONDON – Make no mistake. Barack Obama is going to go down in history as one of the great American presidents. At home he has confronted poverty, ill-health, racism, gun laws, unemployment, immigration and the criminal justice system – with amazing tenacity, sometimes to great effect, even though the Republicans have fought him tooth and nail over every attempt at reform.

Will Donald’s Capacity To Titilate Turn Out To Be His Trump Card?

Donald Trump at a presidential campaign rally, September 3, 2015 | Wikimedia Commons

 TORONTO – Trump’s latest TV ad says it all, even before you listen. The caption is: Paid for by Donald J Trump, Inc., Approved by Donald Trump. It’s almost as if he’s running his campaign as a send-up of the other hopefuls, beholden to lobbyists and the mainstream media.

The only one with name recognition is Jeb Bush, and that, only because his brother was president (disastrously) eight years ago. Think of Trump as The Joker in the film “The Dark Knight” (2008): “I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are.”

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