“It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar.”

― Edward W. Said

"A developing country that wants to develop its economy must first of all keep natural resources in its own hands."
- Deng Xiaoping

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Iran, Turkey's New Ally?

By VALI R. NASR

The New York Times - December 29, 2013

WASHINGTON — A bribery and corruption scandal has plunged Turkey into crisis, seriously undermining Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authority. Mr. Erdogan now faces serious challenges from both secularists suspicious of his Islamist agenda and his erstwhile ally turned rival, the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who leads a powerful Islamic movement from his perch in Pennsylvania. Sluggish economic growth and setbacks in foreign policy have only spurred the critics.

The political bickering is unlikely to let up before next year’s crucial presidential election, in which Mr. Erdogan is expected to run. He will have a difficult time repairing the tarnished image of his Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P. The economy will not give him a boost, but foreign policy might — if he can show that Turkey will once again play a central role in the Middle East.

To read more.....

Capitalism, Ecology and the Official Invisibility of Women

By Chris Williams

Truthout | News  - Sunday, 29 December 2013

When it comes to the world economy, what you "see" is not usually what you get - especially when it comes to gender. Capitalism has fueled a world in which women are rendered invisible and saddled with the majority of labor. They are responsible for two-thirds of all working hours, produce 50 percent to 90 percent of the world's food  and 100 percent of the world's children. Yet, for all this, they receive only 10 percent of the world's income and own less than 1 percent of the world's property. As a result, women make up 70 percent of the world's poor.
Moreover, gender violence is more of a threat to women's health than the sum of traffic accidents and malaria. Often, when women are "seen," they are seen as simply bodies, to be manipulated in ways that lead to profit. In a very real sense, as people, women are invisible.

To read more....

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A More Machiavellian World than Ever

By Gianni Riotta

Originally published in La Stampa

Real Clear World - December 19, 2013

Half a millennium after the publication of Niccolò Machiavelli's "The Prince," one of the most brilliant books ever written on political theory, the world has become more Machiavellian than ever.

The United States, which has been democratic for more than two centuries and invented the Internet as a place of transparency, has now ended up in trouble for its National Security Agency (NSA) spying on allies. The former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin, in his semi-free country where independent journalists are murdered, welcomed NSA mole Edward Snowden as a political refugee, as he put on his laticlave and preached to the world about human rights and privacy.

Meanwhile, in Syria, just because President Bashar al-Assad is massacring his subjects doesn't mean that he'll meet the same fate as Hosni Mubarak or Muammar Gaddafi. He's still in power in Damascus, a merciless and bloodthirsty character lifted right from the pages of Machiavelli, who pays no attention to his conscience, just to power and its cruel nature.

The clash between China, Japan and the U.S. over the minuscule Senkaku-Diaoyu islands oozes pure Machiavelli. Beijing implemented an "Air Defense Identification Zone" around the islands, Tokyo challenged it and Washington still sent B52s into the zone, declaring they would continue to carry out unregistered flights in the region.

To read more...

Friday, December 27, 2013

Between/Beyond Derrida and Mandela: Reading our fractured societies

The ‘meeting’ of Derrida and Mandela is intersection of two events, two sides of our political reflection; this ‘meeting’ is a meeting of experience and reflection in all possible sense….

By Musab Iqbal

World Bulletin - 27 December 2013

In just less then ten year’s time Nelson Mandela left this world, after Jacques Derrida. Derrida met Mandela in 1998, eight years after his release from the prison but Derrida’s interest in him was from his prison days. Derrida edited a volume with Mustapha Tlili entitled ‘For Nelson Mandela’, and he pays tribute in the chapter “The laws of reflection: Nelson Mandela, in admiration” raising some important question and reflecting on the nature of Mandela’s politics and it’s importance in our time, in 1986.

In this very moment when we see the world with grief paying homage to great leader of liberation; from America to Syria, from Ukraine to Bangladesh we see societies struggling within for their liberation and freedom. In times of extreme crisis we see our societies divided like never before, violent towards their other, lacking sheer sense of hospitality, devoid of forgiveness. This is in this very time Mandela’s death remind us of our lost cause, his ‘meeting’ (meeting of two streams) with Derrida forces us to think on some fundamental question of otherness, violence, law, forgiveness, hospitality.

Derrida was impossibly obscure, complex in his arguments, a philosopher of other side of reason and a laborious thinker while Nelson Mandela was a lawyer, political activist, man of action, social visionary. The ‘meeting’ of Derrida and Mandela is intersection of two events, two sides of our political reflection; this ‘meeting’ is a meeting of experience and reflection in all possible sense.

To read more....

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Mao Zedong remembered: China's multi-faceted deep-thinking leader

BBC -  24 December 2013

US citizen Sidney Rittenberg spent 35 years in China at a time of momentous upheaval, personally befriending Mao Zedong and other veteran Chinese revolutionary leaders as they seized power from the Kuomintang from 1945 onwards. Here he reveals his unique perspective on the civil war, the early days of Communism and Mao's philosophy.
Like everything else in China, Mao's role today is a study in paradox. He is both more and less than the ginormous portrait that dominates the centre of Beijing's Tiananmen Square - and which will not be coming down anytime soon.
More, because Mao is the George Washington figure, the founder of the People's Republic of China, the great unifier of his ancient, far-flung and multifarious people.
Less, because Chinese youth today, including young Party members, typically know nothing about his writings, his doctrine, his great successes and monstrous errors.

To read more...

11 slogans that changed China

By Joe Boyle

BBC News - 25 December 2013

China is marking 120 years since the birth of former leader Mao Zedong. During his tumultuous three decades in power, Mao elevated political sloganeering to an art form.
Although Mao's successors have shaken off many of his more extreme doctrines, they continue to deploy slogans at a dizzying rate. Here are 11 slogans that transformed China.

1. Let 100 flowers bloom (百花齐放) 1956
The use of slogans is solidly linked to patterns in everyday Chinese speech, where short rhythmic phrases are considered to be the clearest way of speaking.
These kinds of phrases are often represented by four characters in Chinese and have been deployed by leaders for more than 2,000 years.

To read more....

China Estimates 2013 Growth at 7.6% as Challenges Seen Ahead

By Bloomberg News Dec 25, 2013

China estimates that growth slowed to 7.6 percent this year, with mounting challenges putting pressure on the nation’s traditional growth model of investment-led spending, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The calculation for the gain in gross domestic product for 2013 was included in a report by the State Council, or cabinet, to the legislature, and compares with a government target of 7.5 percent, Xinhua reported yesterday. A 7.6 percent pace would mark a third straight annual drop in the expansion rate.

To read more....

U.S. Sends Arms to Aid Iraq Fight With Extremists

By and

WASHINGTON — The United States is quietly rushing dozens of Hellfire missiles and low-tech surveillance drones to Iraq to help government forces combat an explosion of violence by a Qaeda-backed insurgency that is gaining territory in both western Iraq and neighboring Syria.

The move follows an appeal for help in battling the extremist group by the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who met with President Obama in Washington last month.

But some military experts question whether the patchwork response will be sufficient to reverse the sharp downturn in security that already led to the deaths of more than 8,000 Iraqis this year, 952 of them Iraqi security force members, according to the United Nations, the highest level of violence since 2008.

To read more...

Ground the Air Force

Revising the Future of Flight

By Robert Farley

Foreign Affairs - December 18, 2013

The United States needs air power, but it does not need an air force.
In fact, it never really did. The U.S. Air Force, founded in 1947, was the product of a decades-long campaign by aviation enthusiasts inside the U.S. Army. These advocates argued that air power could not achieve its promise under the leadership of ground commanders. With memories of the great bombing campaigns of World War II still fresh and a possible confrontation with the Soviets looming, the nation’s would-be cold warriors determined that the age of air power was upon them. But it wasn’t. Advocates of an independent air force had misinterpreted the lessons of World War II to draw faulty conclusions about air power’s future.
Their mistake produced a myriad of problems. Modern warfare almost invariably demands close cooperation across air and surface units. In naval operations, all of these assets -- submarines, surface ships, and aircraft -- belong to the same service. In the case of the army and the air force, however, the component parts end up being divided -- or needlessly replicated -- by separate bureaucratic organizations, each with its own priorities. As a result, the services tend to plan operations and procure equipment based on their own needs rather than those of the military as a whole. When they ask lawmakers for funding, moreover, they tend to concentrate on missions that they believe they can accomplish on their own. Finally, during wars, the services often struggle to cooperate by scaling the bureaucratic walls they constructed in peacetime.

To read more...

What Was Once the World's Largest Building Has Now Been Completely Demolished

It took five years, but the Manhattan Project's K-25 site is no more.

By Rebecca J. Rosen

The Atlantic - Dec 23 2013

In the mid-1940s, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, inside the walls of K-25, some 12,000 Manhattan Project workers separated uranium-235 from uranium-238 via a process of gaseous diffusion. On August 6, 1945, a bomb containing what they had made was dropped on a city in southern JapanHiroshima.

At about 44 acres of footprint, K-25 was once the largest building on Earth (by certain methods of measurement). Here, for scale, is how K-25 compares with Central Park.

To read more...

Chinese PR Group BlueFocus Buys London-Based We Are Social

This $30M U.K. Deal and a Team of Acquisition Specialists Signal Global Ambitions

By: Emma Hall

AdAge Global - December 17, 2013

Chinese PR group BlueFocus Communications is taking a big step toward becoming an international player with the $30 million acquisition of five-year-old social media agency We Are Social. The London-based agency also has offices in New York, Paris, Milan, Munich, Sydney, Sao Paulo and Singapore.

We Are Social, which claims to be the world's largest specialist social media agency network with revenue of $57 million this year, is selling an 82.8% interest in the business. The founders, Robin Grant and Nathan McDonald, will stay on and drive expansion into new territory, expected to begin with China.

To read more...

I Got Myself Arrested So I Could Look Inside the Justice System

A former prosecutor fights the law and lets it win.

By Bobby Constantino

The Atlantic - Dec 17 2013

Ten years ago, when I started my career as an assistant district attorney in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, I viewed the American criminal justice system as a vital institution that protected society from dangerous people. I once prosecuted a man for brutally attacking his wife with a flashlight, and another for sexually assaulting a waitress at a nightclub. I believed in the system for good reason.
But in between the important cases, I found myself spending most of my time prosecuting people of color for things we white kids did with impunity growing up in the suburbs. As our office handed down arrest records and probation terms for riding dirt bikes in the street, cutting through a neighbor’s yard, hosting loud parties, fighting, or smoking weed – shenanigans that had rarely earned my own classmates anything more than raised eyebrows and scoldings – I often wondered if there was a side of the justice system that we never saw in the suburbs. Last year, I got myself arrested in New York City and found out.

To read more...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

6 Videos You Should Watch About Imperialism

 Tariq Ali: What is imperialism?

 British Imperialism – Documentary

 Africa’s Slave Trade to Colonialism to Liberation

 Brazil – An Inconvenient History

 Noam Chomsky – History of US Imperialism

 Noam Chomsky Lectures on Modern-Day American Imperialism: Middle East and Beyond

Monday, December 16, 2013

There is no difference in religious fundamentalism between American Muslims and Christians

By Rachel Gillum    

The Washington Post - December 16, 2013

Religious fundamentalism among Muslim immigrants in Western Europe is dramatically greater than that among Christian Europeans, according to a recent study by Ruud Koopmans from the Wissenschaftszentrum in Berlin discussed on the Monkey Cage last Friday.  On the surface, these findings legitimize concerns surrounding the incompatibility of Western and Islamic values.
Like Europeans, Americans express fear over Muslim integration and Islamic fundamentalism, although very little is known about beliefs among Muslims living in the U.S.  A recent nationwide survey of U.S. Muslims, which I designed, provides some insight — the Muslim-American National Opinion Survey (MANOS) reveals that levels of religious fundamentalism among Muslims and Christians in the U.S. are nearly identical.

To read more...

Infographic: What You Look Like to a Social Network

The New Yorker - December 16, 2013 

It’s hard to escape the sense that we provide social networks with too much information about ourselves. They know our names, our faces, our friends, our favorite music and movies, our employment history. Since they profit by using our online identities to sell targeted advertising, it’s only fair to ask how networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram view us.
In short, they see people as data, breaking their users down into categories that fit neatly into a machine-readable stream of information. This data is gathered not only from what users share on the social networks themselves but also through programs that plug into these networks by way of an application programming interface, better known as an A.P.I. For instance, think of any time you signed in to a Web site or an application with your Facebook or Twitter login, used a Facebook or Twitter app that was made by a third-party company like Zynga, or clicked a Like button at the top of an article. In different ways, those applications all talk to Facebook or Instagram social networks via their A.P.I.s.

To read more...


5 Expert Predictions for the Global Economy in 2014

Why China could struggle with debt while the U.S. enjoys its fastest growth in a decade Mohammed

By Aly Sergie

The Atlantic - Dec 16 2013

The International Monetary Fund expects the growth of the global economy will accelerate to 3.6 percent in 2014 from 2.9 percent in 2013. Five top economic experts offer insights on how to read trends in different regions.
Developing economies will likely enjoy relatively high growth in 2014, while the United States will continue with real growth and Europe's economy will expand very slowly, says the Council on Foreign Relations' A. Michael Spence. Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi expects the United States to experience its fastest growth in a decade, driven by a reduction in fiscal austerity, a resurgent housing market, and the "superb condition of American corporate, bank, and household balance sheets."

To read more...

Short Cuts

By J. Hoberman

London Review of Books

In the annals of American intelligence, the mid-1950s were the golden years: the CIA overthrew elected governments in Iran and Guatemala, conducted experiments with ESP and LSD (using its own operatives as unwitting guinea pigs), ran literary journals and produced the first general-release, feature-length animation ever made in the UK.
It was Howard Hunt who broke the story that the CIA funded Animal Farm, John Halas and Joy Batchelor’s 1954 version of George Orwell’s political allegory of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath, played out in a British farmyard. Cashing in on his Watergate notoriety, the rogue spook and sometime spy novelist took credit in Undercover: Memoirs of an American Secret Agent (1974) for initiating the project, shortly after Orwell’s death in 1950. The self-aggrandising Hunt may have exaggerated his own importance in the operation – possibly inventing the juicy detail that Orwell’s widow, Sonia, was wooed with the promise of meeting her favourite star, Clark Gable – but, as detailed by Daniel Leab in Orwell Subverted: The CIA and the Filming of ‘Animal Farm’ (Pennsylvania, $55), the operation was real.
Leab is a historian who has done extensive research into the production of Hollywood’s Cold War movies; the central figure in his account is Louis de Rochemont, the former newsreel cameraman who supervised Time magazine’s innovative monthly release The March of Time and, beginning in 1945 with The House on 92nd Street, produced a number of so-called ‘journalistic features’ for 20th Century Fox (which were praised by James Agee, among others, for their extensive use of location shooting). De Rochemont was also well connected to various government agencies. The House on 92nd Street dramatised the FBI’s role in arresting Nazi agents; its 1946 follow-up, 13 Rue Madeleine, celebrated the wartime exploits of the Office of Strategic Services, the CIA’s precursor, but a dispute between the studio and the OSS director, ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, resulted in the organisation’s being disguised as an intelligence outfit called ‘0-77’.

The 5 Must-See Native Films of 2013

ICTMN Staff 12/16/13

You might have noticed a flurry of film-related pieces here at ICTMN recently -- that was because we were spotlighting movies that showed at the Red Nation Film Festival and the L.A. Skins Fest, both in Los Angeles and the American Indian Film Festival (AIFF), which takes place in San Francisco. The three fests run essentially simultaneously, which makes November a dream month for fans of Native film.


To read more and watch the trailers....

Israel reaches out to save US Jewish community

By TIA GOLDENBERG

Associated Press - December 16, 2013

JERUSALEM (AP) — More than 100 Israeli leaders gathered with Jewish-American counterparts in Jerusalem last month with a daunting mission: to save Jewish life in North America.
Jewish American leaders have known for years that assimilation and intermarriage were slowly shrinking their communities, but the early November gathering took on an extra sense of urgency. Just weeks earlier, a landmark study had found that young American Jews are growing increasingly estranged from Judaism.
As these efforts press ahead, they are being complicated by a new issue: What role can Israel play in Jewish American life at a time when many American Jews, who tend to be socially liberal, have misgivings about some of Israel's policies.

To read more...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Women Under 35 Have Achieved Something Remarkable in Modern America

By Nina Ippolito

Policymic.com - December 12, 2013

A new Pew Research poll shows that the wage gap between men and women has almost collapsed for Americans aged 25 to 34. While young women were paid only 65% as much as their male counterparts as recently as 1980, millennial women, on the whole, make approximately 93% as much as their male peers, which can be seen in the chart below.

To read more...

Peter O'Toole, star of Lawrence of Arabia, dies aged 81

Actor who shot to fame in David Lean's 1962 masterpiece and received eight Oscar nominations has died in hospital in London 

Obituary: Peter O'Toole, 1932-2013

By Robert Booth     

theguardian.com, Sunday 15 December 2013

The actor Peter O'Toole who found stardom in David Lean's masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia, has died aged 81, his family has annouced.
The acclaimed leading man who overcame stomach cancer in the 1970s passed away at the Wellington hospital in London following a long illness.
His daughter Kate O'Toole said: "His family are very appreciative and completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us, during this unhappy time. Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts."
O'Toole announced last year he was stopping acting saying: "I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell."
He said his career on stage and screen fulfilled him emotionally and financially, bringing him together "with fine people, good companions with whom I've shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits."
The president of Ireland, Michael Higgins, was among the first to pay tribute: "Ireland, and the world, has lost one of the giants of film and theatre."

To read more...

The secrets of the world's happiest cities

What makes a city a great place to live – your commute, property prices or good conversation?       

By Charles Montgomery   

The Guardian, Friday 1 November 2013

Two bodyguards trotted behind Enrique Peñalosa, their pistols jostling in holsters. There was nothing remarkable about that, given his profession – and his locale. Peñalosa was a politician on yet another campaign, and this was Bogotá, a city with a reputation for kidnapping and assassination. What was unusual was this: Peñalosa didn't climb into the armoured SUV. Instead, he hopped on a mountain bike. His bodyguards and I pedalled madly behind, like a throng of teenagers in the wake of a rock star.

A few years earlier, this ride would have been a radical and – in the opinion of many Bogotáns – suicidal act. If you wanted to be assaulted, asphyxiated by exhaust fumes or run over, the city's streets were the place to be. But Peñalosa insisted that things had changed. "We're living an experiment," he yelled back at me. "We might not be able to fix the economy. But we can design the city to give people dignity, to make them feel rich. The city can make them happier."

To read more...

The Decay of American Political Institutions

By Francis Fukuyama 

We have a problem, but we can’t see it clearly because our focus too often discounts history.

The American Interests - December 8, 2013

Many political institutions in the United States are decaying. This is not the same thing as the broader phenomenon of societal or civilization decline, which has become a highly politicized topic in the discourse about America. Political decay in this instance simply means that a specific political process—sometimes an individual government agency—has become dysfunctional. This is the result of intellectual rigidity and the growing power of entrenched political actors that prevent reform and rebalancing. This doesn’t mean that America is set on a permanent course of decline, or that its power relative to other countries will necessarily diminish. Institutional reform is, however, an extremely difficult thing to bring about, and there is no guarantee that it can be accomplished without a major disruption of the political order. So while decay is not the same as decline, neither are the two discussions unrelated.
There are many diagnoses of America’s current woes. In my view, there is no single “silver bullet” cause of institutional decay, or of the more expansive notion of decline. In general, however, the historical context of American political development is all too often given short shrift in much analysis. If we look more closely at American history as compared to that of other liberal democracies, we notice three key structural characteristics of American political culture that, however they developed and however effective they have been in the past, have become problematic in the present.
To read more...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Uruguay's president José Mujica: no palace, no motorcade, no frills

In the week that Uruguay legalises cannabis, the 78-year-old explains why he rejects the 'world's poorest president' label  How does your leader compare to José Mujica? Have your say

By Jonathan Watts in Montevideo    

The Guardian, Friday 13 December 2013

If anyone could claim to be leading by example in an age of austerity, it is José Mujica, Uruguay's president, who has forsworn a state palace in favour of a farmhouse, donates the vast bulk of his salary to social projects, flies economy class and drives an old Volkswagen Beetle.
But the former guerrilla fighter is clearly disgruntled by those who tag him "the world's poorest president" and – much as he would like others to adopt a more sober lifestyle – the 78-year-old has been in politics long enough to recognise the folly of claiming to be a model for anyone.
"If I asked people to live as I live, they would kill me," Mujica said during an interview in his small but cosy one-bedroom home set amid chrysanthemum fields outside Montevideo.

To read more...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

An Insurgent Prevails in Delhi Posted

By Samanth Subramanian

The New Yorker - December 9, 2013

Delhi is too hard-bitten a city to shock easily, but it reeled on Sunday morning, as the votes were tallied for the state-assembly election held last week. The upstart Aam Aadmi Party, barely a year old and still starry-eyed about the transformative power of politics, was expected to be little more than a minor nuisance for its two larger rivals. The Indian National Congress, which has ruled Delhi for fifteen years (and has run the country at the head of a coalition since 2004), and the Bharatiya Janata Party were masters of the dark art of voter mobilization. Their systems of patronage had been entrenched for decades. An idealist upstart like the A.A.P., which was founded to carry forward the agenda of a checkmated anti-corruption campaign, wasn’t supposed to stand any chance at all.

To read more...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Lecture on Turkey and China in the 21st Century

China in the Middle East Lecture Series:
Turkey and China in the 21st Century
Tao Zan (PEKING UNIVERSITY)
Wednesday December 11, 2013
Urban Center - Room 710 - 12:00 - 2:00 PM


Portland State University

Summary of the lecture by Kathie Beasley, International Studies
There are two main dimensions that can be used to further understand Turkey and China relations in the 21st Century. It should be stated that this topic is fairly new to the academic world, there are very few classes offered at Universities in China to learn Turkish or to delve deeper into the rich history of Turks.  That being said, Professor Tao Zan, of Peking University, has managed to make an impressive academic career out of exploring the complex dimensions of the two countries.   Complex, perhaps falls short in describing the phenomena that exists in the Xinjiang Providence in North Western China where currently a “corridor of Uyghur” people 10 million strong are existing as a minority group. 

Historically, The Turks and the Chinese have been portrayed as having smooth relations, but Professor Tao explained how the modern day perception of each other tells us of a more abrasive past.  Late 6th Century Turkish peoples including the Uyghur’s traveled across the “middle east” and began founding states in the area below Mongolia and Russia. Overtime the Uighurs came into contact with Muslims and began converting to Islam.  The culture of the Turks and Islam is every present and this can be seen in modern day Xinjiang.  (Please click on the link for fascinating images of the Uyghur people).


One can easily see from the photos that Uyghur people have phenomenal features distinctly different from the Han people of China that are more well known in China.  Professor Tao spoke of the modern day influence and presence of the Turks by way of television programs and whole market places dedicated to selling only Turkish imported items. This makes sense given the number of identified Muslims and Turkish ancestry in the area. Also, China is Turkey’s largest importer of goods, according to Professor Tao.  Yet the national interest in preserving the Uyghur way of life is slowing being plucked away. Current Chinese Government agenda is taking a core interest in the Uyghur people as a matter of national security to the country.  Since the demonization of Muslim people post 9/11, and the ongoing prejudices towards Islam, the Uyghur people are being put in the spot light, perhaps this why so little academically exists on the phenomena?  One might assert that it is not in the interest of Communist China to allow these peoples to continue on in their rich and dynamic history.  

Structurally, Turkey and China in the 21st Century are very different. China is the world’s second largest economy in the world, and Turkey is merely sixteenth on the list.   As stated previously, China is Turkey’s largest importer, so it is interesting to consider the ramifications of a muted Turkish population in China would have on Turkey’s economy.  China’s main focus in the Middle East is oil security, and Turkey doesn’t seem to have enough oil for the Chinese to begin making them a partner.  Geo-economically, China seems to be at an advantage over Turkey who is landlocked and suffers from “bad neighbors.”

Professor Zan seemed doubtful of any true alliance forming between the two countries. He theorized about lack of oil reserves in Turkey, religiously they are too different, economically they are not equals and therefore their involvement in international organizations does not match. IF ever there were to be a partnership it would most likely be alternative in nature.  For example, after the Chinese government has asserted communism onto the Uyghur peoples, Turkey may become a refugee for the diaspora.  It will be interesting to see the response of border nations of the Xinjiang Providence, where many Muslim and Turkish descendants reside and all that separates them are geographical borders.  Back to economics, China seems content with the current weapon sales to the Turkish Military, this will most likely increase in the coming decades as tension over oil in the Middle East continues to escalate.

Turkey and China have a very fascinating connection, one that I fear China is resistant to developing.  Relations with Turkey may continue relatively unscathed and diplomatic, but as China increases the restrictions on the Uyghur people, I believe Turkey will begin to offer assistance.  I wonder how Turkey feels about the Uyghur.  It must be difficult to watch the events unfold, especially with the knowledge of what happened, is happening to Tibet. I would hate to be in the way of the Chinese government. What’s to stop them?  They are too big an economic power to suffer any retaliation. Certainly the United States would not get involved, we must not bite the hands that feed us.  I plan on following the story and news as it unfolds in both areas.  Professor Tao’s lecture was completely fascinating and I honestly had no idea about the Uyghur.  I really did learn something new today. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

'In Meat We Trust' Argues We Got The Meat Industry We Asked For

By Jeremy Bernfeld

NPR - December 09, 2013

The meat on your dinner table probably didn't come from a happy little cow that lived a wondrous life out on rolling green hills. It probably also wasn't produced by a robot animal killer hired by an evil cabal of monocle-wearing industrialists.
Truth is, the meat industry is complicated, and it's impossible to understand without a whole lot of context. That's where Maureen Ogle comes in. She's a historian and the author of In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America.
Ogle's book examines the pipeline that meat takes today from field to table by trying to understand its roots. She starts all the way back in Colonial America, when settlers found so much available land that they were able to raise livestock they could never have afforded in Europe. Meat, Ogle writes, became a status symbol in early America.

To read more..

Monday, December 9, 2013

A New Book: Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism by Henry A. Giroux

Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism

By Henry A. Giroux
Peterlang, 2011

Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism capitalizes upon the popularity of zombies, exploring the relevance of the metaphor they provide for examining the political and pedagogical conditions that have produced a growing culture of sadism, cruelty, disposability, and death in America. The zombie metaphor may seem extreme, but it is particularly apt for drawing attention to the ways in which political culture and power in American society now operate on a level of mere survival. This book uses the metaphor not only to suggest the symbolic face of power: beginning and ending with an analysis of authoritarianism, it attempts to mark and chart the visible registers of a kind of zombie politics, including the emergence of right-wing teaching machines, a growing politics of disposability, the emergence of a culture of cruelty, and the ongoing war being waged on young people, especially on youth of color. By drawing attention to zombie politics and authoritarianism, this book aims to break through the poisonous common sense that often masks zombie politicians, anti-public intellectuals, politics, institutions, and social relations, and bring into focus a new language, pedagogy, and politics in which the living dead will be moved decisively to the margins rather than occupying the very center of politics and everyday life.

Henry A. Giroux holds the Global TV Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Canada. His most recent books include The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex (2007), Youth in a Suspect Society: Democracy or Disposability? (2009), Politics Beyond Hope (2010), and Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror (2010). 

The Spectacle of Illiteracy and the Crisis of Democracy

By Henry A. Giroux

Truthout |  Monday, 09 December 2013

C. Wright Mills argued 50 years ago that one important measure of the demise of vibrant democracy and the corresponding impoverishment of political life can be found in the increasing inability of a society to translate private troubles to broader public issues. [1] This is an issue that both characterizes and threatens any viable notion of democracy in the United States in the current historical moment. In an alleged post-racist democracy, the image of the public sphere with its appeal to dialogue and shared responsibility has given way to the spectacle of unbridled intolerance, ignorance, seething private fears, unchecked anger and the decoupling of reason from freedom. Increasingly, as witnessed in the utter disrespect and not-so-latent racism expressed by Joe Wilson, the Republican congressman from South Carolina, who shouted “you lie!” during President Obama’s address on health care, the obligation to listen, respect the views of others and engage in a literate exchange is increasingly reduced to the highly spectacular embrace of an infantile emotionalism. This is an emotionalism that is made for television. It is perfectly suited for emptying the language of public life of all substantive content, reduced in the end to a playground for hawking commodities, promoting celebrity culture and enacting the spectacle of right-wing fantasies fueled by the fear that the public sphere as an exclusive club for white male Christians is in danger of collapsing. For some critics, those who carry guns to rallies or claim Obama is a Muslim and not a bona fide citizen of the United States are simply representative of an extremist fringe, that gets far more publicity from the mainstream media than they deserve. Of course this is understandable, given that the media’s desire for balance and objective news is not just disingenuous but relinquishes any sense of ethical responsibility by failing to make a distinction between an informed argument and an unsubstantiated opinion. Witness the racist hysteria unleashed by so many Americans and the media over the building of an Islamic cultural center near ground zero.

To read more....

Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out

By George Monbiot

Buying more stuff is associated with depression, anxiety and broken relationships. It is socially destructive and self-destructive

The Guardian.com - December 9, 2013

That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (and highlighted by the Guardian last week) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches, a youth posing in front of his helicopter, endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools and spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse: something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing.
The pictures are, of course, intended to incite envy. They reek instead of desperation. The young men and women seem lost in their designer clothes, dwarfed and dehumanised by their possessions, as if ownership has gone into reverse. A girl's head barely emerges from the haul of Chanel, Dior and Hermes shopping bags she has piled on her vast bed. It's captioned "shoppy shoppy" and "#goldrush", but a photograph whose purpose is to illustrate plenty seems instead to depict a void. She's alone with her bags and her image in the mirror, in a scene that seems saturated with despair.

To read more....

Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed


Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed

Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months of traveling.
Because I had been living quite a different lifestyle while I was away, this sudden transition to 9-to-5 existence has exposed something about it that I overlooked before.
Post image for Your Lifestyle Has Already Been DesignedSince the moment I was offered the job, I’ve been markedly more careless with my money. Not stupid, just a little quick to pull out my wallet. As a small example, I’m buying expensive coffees again, even though they aren’t nearly as good as New Zealand’s exceptional flat whites, and I don’t get to savor the experience of drinking them on a sunny café patio. When I was away these purchases were less off-handed, and I enjoyed them more.
I’m not talking about big, extravagant purchases. I’m talking about small-scale, casual, promiscuous spending on stuff that doesn’t really add a whole lot to my life. And I won’t actually get paid for another two weeks.

To read more....

Is Singapore Western Intelligence’s 6th Eye In Asia?

By Murray Hunter

Eurasia Review - December 9, 2013

What are the Regional Foreign Policy Consequences?

The largely Anglophile Singapore is an anomaly in South-East Asia. It has staunch connections with the US and Israel, and a network of varied corporate interests all around the world. Singapore is a small primarily non-Muslim city-state surrounded predominantly by much larger Muslim countries. Sovereignty disputes upon the South China Sea are ongoing, and unpredictable events like Sulu militants invading Lahad Datu in Sabah continue to occur. Singapore’s security is of prime importance to the nation.

The potency and effectiveness of Singapore’s intelligence services was seen in the 1990s with the successful recruitment of Australian intelligence officers to pass on sensitive information to Singaporean intelligence at the DSD (now Australian Signals Directorate) listening station at Cabarlah, near Toowoomba, Queensland.

Even though Singapore has initiated a number of security programs like the Eyes-in-the-Sky (EiS) program with Malaysia and Indonesia to protect the Melaka Straits, and undertakes joint surveillance of the South China Sea with Malaysia, using land, sea, and air based assets, Malaysia and Indonesia are still very suspicious of Singapore’s intentions. In particular, Indonesia is very concerned that Singapore has been colluding with Australia and the United States with spying activities within Indonesia, recently calling the Singapore Ambassador to Jakarta for an explanation. The majority of Indonesia’s international telephone and internet traffic is routed through Singapore, which leaves the country very vulnerable to Singapore’s SIGINT programs.

To read more...

China Industrial Production Slows as Retail Sales Top Estimates

By Bloomberg News Dec 9, 2013

China’s industrial production rose less than estimated last month as retail sales unexpectedly accelerated, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed today.
Factory production rose 10 percent from a year earlier, the agency said in Beijing, compared with analysts’ median projection of 10.1 percent in a Bloomberg News survey. Retail sales advanced 13.7 percent in November, while fixed-asset investment excluding rural households increased 19.9 percent in the January-to-November period.

To read more...

Social researchers must continue....

Social researchers must continue to engage in the systematic exploration of the world as it is and as it could be.

By Geoff Mulgan 


London School of Economics and Political Science - December 9, 2013
 
How researchers and the state understand the scope of social research plays a pivotal role in the future of impact. Geoff Mulgan argues society at large – the public, researchers and the government – must all adapt their practices to take evidence seriously and to take part in policy implementation. Social researchers are in a unique position as they are required to be engaged with power, but remain ultimately accountable to the public not the state.
There are two competing traditions of social research.  In one tradition it is an arm of the state, concerned with mapping and measuring society the better to shape it. The word statistics reflects this (Prussian) origin. And it’s not surprising that any state should want to understand society, and to exercise some control over its tendencies to disorder, criminality or, in some cases, dissent.

To read more....

China's Newest City: We Call It 'Detroit'

BY Gordon G. Chang
Detroit, broke with almost no prospects for recovery, is the fourth most popular U.S. destination for Chinese real estate investors.  In fact, it was bad news—the city’s July 18 bankruptcy filing—that triggered renewed interest.  “While the bankruptcy is viewed as a bad thing elsewhere, it raised the exposure level of Detroit’s real estate market in China,” says Evonne Xu, a Michigan attorney catering to Chinese purchasers.  Middle Kingdom, meet Motown. Chinese shoppers can’t resist a bargain.  Where else can you buy a two-story home in the U.S. for $39?  China Central Television, the state broadcaster, in March reported that two houses in Detroit cost the same as a pair of leather shoes.  No wonder a poster on Sina Weibo, the Twitter-like service, asked, “Seven-hundred thousand people, quiet, clean air, no pollution, democracy—what are you waiting for?”

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Holiday Lunacy: How Americans Are Conditioned to Buy Like Pavlov's Dogs When the Corporate Bells Ring

Truth Out - Thursday, 05 December 2013 

By JACQUELINE MARCUS 

The percentage you're paying is too high priced While you're living beyond all your means And the man in the suit has just bought a new car From the profit he's made on your dreams...
—Traffic, "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys"

Yes, it's that's time of year again when working Americans foolishly blow their hard-earned money on junk primarily because of the thousands of advertisements that tell them to do just that at an accelerated rate during the holidays.
Of course, you're not supposed to know about the mothers and children in miserable conditions that labor to make all that material stuff for a buck a day, much less think about how the Company Men exploit the poor by turning them into automatons.

To read more...

In Defense of Grade Inflation at Harvard

Credential-obsessed overachievers should focus on learning rather than beating out their classmates for a finite number of As.

By Conor Friedersdorf

The Atlantic - Dec 6, 2013

Elsewhere on this site, Roberto A. Ferdman notes that the most frequently awarded grade at Harvard College is an A, while the median grade there is an A minus. "That ought to dispel any notion that Harvard is tough on its students," he wrote. "Grade inflation may be a victimless crime, but what is the point of having a range of grades if half of them are A- or higher?" I think I have an answer.
Ivy League educational institutions attract a disproportionate share of grade-obsessed overachievers. These young people are extremely driven, aren't in need of external motivators to learn, but often react to the grading system by gaming it: that is to say, they engage in cut-throat competition with classmates rather than helping one another learn; they manipulate teachers; and they choose earning a higher grade rather than learning more when there is a tension between the two. Their compulsion to succeed as others define it and their sheepish failure to prioritize higher-order benefits with their time at college perhaps makes a grading system based on obvious inflation the best option available.

To read more...

The Evolution of the College Library

Books were once so scarce, they were chained to the desks. Now libraries can barely hold all the volumes they have.

By James W. P. Campbell & Will Pryce

The Atlantic - Dec 4 2013

University of Cambridge academic James W. P. Campbell and Will Pryce, the award winning architectural photographer, have spent the last three years visiting 84 libraries in 21 countries, compiling a history of library design from the ancient world to the present day. The Library: A World History covers the development of university libraries across the world, as well as public and private libraries. Here we provide a selection of key moments in the history of the development of academic libraries.
While we speak of libraries everywhere being under threat, university libraries are coping with ever greater quantities of printed material created by the digital age. Architecturally they are changing, too.

To read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/12/the-evolution-of-the-college-library/282023/

The Island

By Teju Cole

December 6, 2013
http://thenewinquiry.com/blogs/dtake/the-island/

A clear day in the early nineteen-eighties, for example. A man drives past the harbor of the city in which he lives. He sees docked boats, restaurants, children at play, the island sleeping in the distance. Without quite meaning to, he remembers that the island is a prison. And then, as he is a man of some imagination, he imagines something worse: that people are tortured there. It has been going on for a while.

Years pass. The rough sea of the crossing makes it feel far. The swells are huge. The ferry could sink like a stone. Our tour guide, used to it, sleeps on the journey. Soon, in less than half an hour, the ferry arrives. The prison is now a museum. There was and is a pitiful garden along a wall.

Obscene. That is the word, a word of contested etymology, that she must hold on to as a talisman. She chooses to believe that obscene means offstage. To save our humanity, certain things that we may want to see (may want to see because we are human!) must remain off-stage. (1)

To read more...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Infrastructure Without Foreign Investment: Can Brazil Afford Economic Growth?

Eurasia Review.com - December 7, 2013

By Erika Johnson

As Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, the South American poster child is under pressure to conduct immense infrastructural reforms, an ambitious undertaking that will require a reversal of the economic stagnation that has plagued the nation since former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva left office in 2011. Growth in Brazil, the world’s sixth-largest economy which had been seeing prosperity along with increases in the prices of the nation’s most important exports, slowed from 7.5 percent in 2010 to 2.9 percent in 2011, and finally to a startling 0.9 percent in 2012, with only 2.5 percent expected this year. [1]
According to an unnamed Brazilian diplomat, the South American nation’s central government recognizes that it has the potential to become a highly developed nation, and is now taking the initiative to reach its potential. However, it will have to overcome significant obstacles before it can succeed. Brazil continues to confront structural impediments, including a wholly inadequate transportation network, unreliable electrical supplies, and a breathtakingly inept government bureaucracy. Upcoming elections, tax cuts, social unrest, declining foreign aid, and lukewarm legislation threaten the long-term development that Brazil desperately needs. The situation becomes even more critical in the face of the rapidly approaching 2014 and 2016 deadlines for the sophisticated infrastructural reforms mandated by international sports competitions. Brazil’s economy is coming to a critical turning point, and it remains to be seen whether the Rousseff administration (2011-present) can succeed in removing the “developing nation” label, or if it will end up forgoing long-term development by catering only to sports events and foreign interest.

To read more...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Why Economics, Not Military Might, Is the Future of Foreign Policy

From Kiev to Kabul, the promise of prosperity is winning hearts and minds.

By David Rohde

The Atlantic - Dec 5 2013

In Kiev, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have taken to the streets to demand the government join the European Union, in the hopes it will spur economic growth. In Kabul, Afghan leaders overwhelmingly voted to have American troops remain for another decade, in the hopes they will maintain a “war and aid economy” that has brought them unprecedented riches.
As a fiscally constrained and war-weary Washington confronts its foreign policy challenges, events in Ukraine and Afghanistan show that economic incentives can play a major role in addressing them. Younger generations in both countries are eager for prosperity, reduced corruption and a place in a globalized economy. Globalism is challenging cronyism.

To read more...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Geoff Eley on Karl Marx

Geoff Eley on Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life Exile to the Ages (or, Returning Karl Marx To Our Time)

Los Angeles Review of Books - October 28th, 2013

KARL MARX’S IDEAS no longer matter. At least, that’s what Jonathan Sperber seems to think. Marx, he thinks, deserves a new biography now for this very reason: this quintessentially 19th-century thinker has been torn from his rightful time.
For admirers, Marx figures as the herald of the future: a theorist of societal transformation in the modern age; the architect of a social theory of capitalism that still works for our contemporary world, especially now that global capitalism seems on the skids and economic crisis is back. For critics, in contrast, he seems the harbinger of totalitarianism, the armchair advocate of class conflict, collective violence, and proletarian dictatorship, whose ideas came to justify the worst horrors perpetrated in the name of socialism by 20th-century revolutionary governments. As two of his earliest biographers, Boris Nicolaievsky and Otto Maenchen-Helfen, put this in 1936:
To some he is a fiend, the arch-enemy of human civilization, and the prince of chaos, while to others he is a far-seeing and beloved leader, guiding the human race towards a brighter future. In Russia his teachings are the official doctrines of the state, while Fascist countries wish them exterminated. In the areas under the sway of the Chinese Soviets Marx’s portraits appear on the banknotes, while in Germany they have burned his books.

To read more....

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The "Axis of Evil," Revisited

By Noam Chomsky

Truthout | Op-Ed - Wednesday, 04 December 2013

An interim agreement on Iran's nuclear policies that will provide a six-month period for substantive negotiations was announced on Nov. 24.
Michael Gordon, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote, "It was the first time in nearly a decade, American officials said, that an international agreement had been reached to halt much of Iran's nuclear program and roll some elements of it back."
The United States moved at once to impose severe penalties on a Swiss firm that had violated U.S.-imposed sanctions. "The timing of the announcement seemed to be partly intended to send a signal that the Obama administration still considers Iran subject to economic isolation," Rick Gladstone explained in The Times.
The "landmark accord" indeed includes significant Iranian concessions - though nothing comparable from the United States, which merely agreed to temporarily limit its punishment of Iran.

To read more...

Turkey’s Erdogan Battles Country’s Most Powerful Religious Movement

By Piotr Zalewski / Istanbul

Time.com December 4, 2013

Both were religious men. In the early 1970s, Cemal Usak and Recep Tayyip Erdogan were classmates at the Istanbul Imam Hatip Lisesi, an Islamic high school. By the end of the decade, their career paths had begun, ever so slightly, to diverge. “I was coming from what you would call a tradition of cultural Islam,” says Usak. “He opted for political Islam”. Still, he says, the pair remained close.
Today, forty years removed from his high school days, Usak is a leading figure in Turkey’s largest Islamic movement, the Gulen community. Erdogan, meanwhile, is the country’s Prime Minister and by far the most powerful man in the land, if not the entire region. Usak still counts the Turkish leader as a personal friend, but the alliance between the groups that each man represents – and which helped bring Erdogan to power – is fast unraveling. For the first time in years, the glue that binds Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is being put to the test.

To read more....

Biden in Beijing: Between the Moon and the East China Sea

By Jiayang Fan

The New Yorker - December 4, 2013 

Before Joe Biden arrived in Beijing this morning, as part of his tour of East Asia, the state-run People’s Liberation Army Daily openly applauded an anonymous post on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, that criticized the U.S. as “an initiator of plots.” The post called on every Chinese person to be on alert for “Western anti-China powers,” because such forces could “take advantage of social instability to harm the Chinese people.” It was a fitting welcome on a trip that has been tense from the start.
For more than a week, China had been engaged in provocative games above the East China Sea, declaring an air-defense identification zone more than two hundred miles beyond its coast. As Chinese officials have been quick to point out, the demarcation of such zones by established nations is not uncommon. A unilateral determination of the zone, however, especially when said zone overlaps with zones of China’s neighbors—in this case, three American allies: Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea—is less conventional. In response, Barack Obama sent two B-52 bombers on a “military exercise” through the area unannounced. Emboldened, Japan and South Korea quickly followed suit with their own aircraft. Shortly thereafter, China answered with fighter jets and a warning that it will not hesitate to take what it described as “emergency defensive actions” against those who do not comply.

To read more....

Pakistan’s Next Top General Posted

By Omar Waraich

The New Yorker - December 3, 2013

When General Raheel Sharif was appointed as Pakistan’s Army chief last week, a flurry of profiles described the new occupant of the country’s most powerful office as a “moderate” and “professional” soldier, with “no interest in politics.” In a country that has spent half its history under military rule, this is a polite way of saying that General Sharif is unlikely to overthrow the government. For Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who selected the new Army chief, this disinclination to political involvement may have been among General Sharif’s prime qualifications—Nawaz’s previous term in office came to an abrupt end, in 1999, when he was ousted by General Pervez Musharraf, whom he had handpicked to head the Army.
Nawaz Sharif’s election earlier this year marked a milestone for Pakistan: for the first time, an elected civilian government completed a full five years in office and made an orderly transfer of power to its successor. For much of those five years, speculation swirled that the government, headed by Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, would not survive. Now it appears that Sharif—whose party enjoys a large majority in Parliament—should be able to complete another full term of his own. If that happens, the door to further military coups, which has been slowly creaking closed, might even be firmly shut.

To read more....

Afghanistan: Risking a Collapse

By Anatol Lieven

The New York Review of Books - December 3, 2013

What on earth is Hamid Karzai up to? When I visited Afghanistan in October, most people with whom I spoke assumed that the Afghan president would resist signing a long-term military basing agreement with the United States until the Loya Jirga (grand national assembly) had approved it. At that point, having burnished his credentials as an Afghan nationalist, it was thought that he would sign, since the Loya Jirga would give him cover and since he must know that the entire future of his state and his own Pashtun ethnic group probably depends on it. But now that the Loya Jirga has approved the agreement, Karzai has instead announced he might not sign until after the presidential election in April—thereby putting at risk the willingness of the US and the West to remain engaged in Afghanistan at all.
For the agreement is only partly about a continued US military presence after the withdrawal of ground troops next year. More important is a continuation of promised US and Western aid. Already there is a strong desire among Western politicians and populations to reduce that aid, citing both economic hardship at home and the immense corruption of the Afghan state. In the event of a complete withdrawal of Western forces it is likely that the international community’s commitment to go on helping Afghanistan will rapidly disappear. And if that happens, the Afghan state will collapse, just as it did in early 1992 when Soviet subsidies stopped after the fall of the USSR.

To read more...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's Wrong With America's Newspaper Opinion Columnists in One Chart


Gawker - December 3, 2013

Why are newspaper opinion columnists so consistently baffled by the politics, technologies, and social mores of the 21st century? We've crunched some data, and we think we've figured out the answer: They're old as hell.


The New York Times' David Brooks is under the impression that the babblings of his Yale students reflect major generational trends. The Washington Post's Richard Cohen thinks for some reason that it's okay to assume interracial relationships probably make people "repress a gag reflex." At the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan was apparently the last person on earth to find out about the internet. It's been a fun few weeks (months, years)—for us, at least.

David Cameron's visit to China - in pictures

The British PM is in China for a three-day visit, taking in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu along with his 120-strong business delegation          



The Case for Giving Iran's Scholar-Diplomats a Chance

We'd be foolish to not let the battle between technocrats and theocrats play out.

By Moisés Naím

The Atlantic - Dec 3 2013

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s president, has more cabinet members with Ph.D. degrees from U.S. universities than Barack Obama does. In fact, Iran has more holders of American Ph.D.s in its presidential cabinet than France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, or Spain—combined.
Take, for example, Rouhani’s chief of staff, Mohammad Nahavandian. He spent many years in the United States and has a Ph.D. in economics from George Washington University. Or Javad Zarif, the foreign affairs minister and chief negotiator in the recent nuclear deal between Iran and six global powers. He studied at the University of San Francisco and completed his doctorate at the University of Denver. For five years, he lived in New York and was Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, has a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from MIT. Mahmoud Vaezi, the communication minister, studied electrical engineering at Sacramento and San Jose State Universities and was enrolled in the Ph.D. program at Louisiana State University (he ultimately earned a doctorate in international relations at Warsaw University).  Other cabinet members have advanced degrees from universities in Europe and Iran. Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi, the transportation minister, has a Ph.D. from the University of London, while President Rouhani got his from Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. The new government in Tehran, in other words, might well be one of the most technocratic in the world.

To read more....

America’s Place in the World 2013

Public Sees U.S. Power Declining as Support for Global Engagement Slips 

PEW RESEARCH - December 3, 2013 

Growing numbers of Americans believe that U.S. global power and prestige are in decline. And support for U.S. global engagement, already near a historic low, has fallen further. 
The public thinks that the nation does too much to solve world problems, and increasing percentages want the U.S. to “mind its own business internationally” and pay more attention to problems here at home.
Yet this reticence is not an expression of across-the-board isolationism. Even as doubts grow about the United States’ geopolitical role, most Americans say the benefits from U.S. participation in the global economy outweigh the risks. And support for closer trade and business ties with other nations stands at its highest point in more than a decade.
These are among the principal findings of America’s Place in the World, a quadrennial survey of foreign policy attitudes conducted in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a nonpartisan membership organization and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy.

To read more....