When Freedom and Sovereignty Are Hollow Words

By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) The German political comedian Karl Valentin once coined a wonderful phrase to parody the cowardice of people who betray their own will: “Mögen hätt’ ich schon wollen,” Valentin mocked them, “aber dürfen habe ich mich nicht getraut.” Loosely translated: “I actually would have loved to want, but I did not dare to can.”

Valentin’s grim humour is a perfect match for the present predicament of European governments vis-à-vis the U.S. and British global surveillance of telecommunications, revealed by the brave Edward Snowden. All heads of governments, from Angela Merkel in Germany to Mariano Rajoy in Spain, passing through François Hollande of France, have expressed their alleged outrage towards the U.S.  spying of their official and private telephone and Internet communications. All of them have used the same expression: What the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have been doing all these years is “unacceptable.”

New Drone Assault Knocks US-Pakistan Relations

By Zachary Fillingham* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

TORONTO (IDN) – US drone strikes have long been a sticking point in US-Pakistan relations. To the Obama administration, they are a key tool in the fight against terrorism, evident in the various high-ranking commanders they’ve eliminated from the regional militancy equation. To Islamabad, however, they represent a breach of state sovereignty, and their tendency to kill civilians serves to undermine government writ in Pakistan’s tribal territories.

If drone strikes are the crack running along the edifice of US-Pakistan relations, then US aid is the plaster used to mask it. The Obama administration quietly resumed a $1.6 billion military aid package to Pakistan last month (October 2013).

Syria: UN Should Ensure Unimpeded Humanitarian Access

By International Crisis Group | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BRUSSELS – The U.S.-Russian agreement to remove Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal has led many observers to hope for a political breakthrough. A more immediate and realistic objective, as well as a more reliable yardstick by which to measure various parties’ good-will, should be on the humanitarian front, where the situation is deteriorating rapidly and relentlessly.

No More U.S. Money For Overseas Coal Plants

By Athena Ballesteros of World Resources Institute
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued on October 29, 2013 a policy document ending Washington’s support for multilateral development bank (MDB) funding for new overseas coal projects except in narrowly defined circumstances. Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs Lael Brainard explained: “By encouraging the use of clean energy in multilateral development bank projects, we are furthering U.S. efforts to address the urgent challenges of climate change.” World Resources Institute’s Project Manager of International Financial Flows and Environment Project, Athena Ballesteros, analyses the significance of the initiative in a blog.

Mixed Praise For Chile’s Economic Performance

By J C Suresh | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TORONTO (IDN) – Chile has received kudos for making significant economic progress in the previous three years but has been faulted for “some glaring inequalities”. A new study finds that – together with Mexico – Chile displays “the greatest inequality gap” in the 34-nation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The average income of the wealthiest 10 percent in Chile and Mexico is 27 times that of the poorest 10 percent, in other words, a ratio of 27 to 1. By contrast, the OECD average is around 10 to 1, informs the 2013 Economic Survey of Chile.

The Importance of Iran-US-Russia Triangle

By Alireza Noori* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

TEHRAN (IDN | Iran Review) – Although the idea of possible re-establishment of Iran’s relations with the United States is still at the stage of early speculations and does not seem to be realized even in the medium term, the mere mention of this issue has been followed by different analysis about the possibility of an Iran-U.S. détente and its outcomes. Among all other issues, relations between Tehran and Moscow will be certainly affected by such a development.

From US Shutdown To A De-Americanized World?

By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

GENEVA (IDN) – The world waited with bated breath as the deadline neared. And breathed a sigh of relief when at the last minute the United States avoided crossing its “debt ceiling” and a default on its debts.

The debt ceiling was raised, and the government shutdown also ended, after weeks of a high-profile standoff between U.S. President Barrack Obama and the Republicans in Congress. But this relief was mixed with incredulity and frustration.

Firstly, the respite is only temporary; the can is just kicked down the road. The deadlines for government shutdown and debt ceiling are shifted some weeks away to January and February 2014.

Challenges Remain But Good News For Nuclear Disarmament

By Ramesh Jaura* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) – There is a lot of good news on the nuclear disarmament front but there are miles to go before the campaigners for banning the bomb can ‘lie down and sleep in peace’. Almost seventy years after the first use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, about 17,000 continue to threaten the very survival of humankind.

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