Leadership

Eight Big Questions on War and Peace for Mike Pompeo

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With a dizzying range of international crises and conflicts facing the U.S., the confirmation hearing of incoming Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday 12 April is a chance to gauge the administration’s future tack. Crisis Group’s U.S. Program Director Stephen Pomper identifies eight critical issues that are likely to dominate Pompeo’s incumbency and… Stephen Pomper ICG When Mike Pompeo sits down on 12 April before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, there will be plenty to talk about. Mr Pompeo has ... Read More »

Are middle-aged white men losing their grip on power?

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There was another flutter in the middle aged white man dovecotes last week. An article in The Guardian, a segment on ABC’s The Drum,  and derision over another all white male panel had the usual suspects wailing into the wind over the near extinction of middle aged white men in positions of power. Jane Gilmore Brisbane Times Are they right? Are middle aged white men really being silenced and oppressed by a horde of ravening minority groups determined to destroy ... Read More »

Viktor Orban victory in Hungary: German minister warns EU

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A key German minister says the EU must drop its “arrogance and condescension” towards Hungary, where Eurosceptic PM Viktor Orban has just won re-election. BBC Interior Minister Horst Seehofer wants curbs on Muslim migration to the EU, and Mr Orban sees himself as a defender of “Christian” Europe. It is a tense time in EU-Hungary relations, as Mr Orban is defying EU migration and rule-of-law policies. Anti-EU politicians, including France’s Marine Le Pen, also welcomed his win. Mr Orban, 54, ... Read More »

Putting Trump’s Trade Bombast to the Test

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President Trump’s recent threat to escalate his trade skirmish with China into a full-scale trade war is a foolish gambit with little historical precedent. Editorial Board The New York Times It is also hard to take seriously, given how quickly Mr. Trump changes his mind and how rarely and clumsily he tends to follow through on tough talk. Mr. Trump said on Thursday that he wants to slap tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese imports in response to Beijing’s plan ... Read More »

Hungary’s war on democracy is a war on democracy everywhere

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As Hungarians vote on Sunday, Britain is shamefully courting the Orbán regime as it tries to get a favourable Brexit deal Owen Jones The Guardian Is Hungary still a democracy? It was a question I posed to Nóra Köves, an activist with the pro-democracy Eötvös Károly Institute, in the Castro Bistro café in central Budapest. “I wouldn’t say that, no. Not, I think, any more. We are heading to a kind of dictatorship, but we are not there yet. We are ... Read More »

Puigdemont urges dialogue with Madrid after leaving German jail

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Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called for immediate “political dialogue” to end the row with Madrid as he left a German jail on bail on April 6 after judges rejected his extradition to Spain on a rebellion charge. NEUMNSTER – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet “The time for dialogue has arrived,” Puigdemont told reporters outside the Neumuenster prison, after he walked free on a 75,000-euro ($92,000-) bail while judges mull whether to extradite him on a lesser charge of corruption. “We have ... Read More »

The Risks to Freedom in Hungary

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The country’s independent media has largely been stifled. One of its remaining voices explains what it’s like to try to hold an aspiring strongman to account. The Atlantic Hungary is a NATO ally, a member nation of the European Union, a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights—and also, since 2010, an increasingly authoritarian and illiberal state. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has politicized the country’s court, central bank, and media. On April 8, Orbán and his Fidesz party face the ... Read More »

Should the EU have a single European President?

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Does Europe have too many presidents? Debating Europe The President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, the President of the European Parliament, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union (that last one held by a… How is Trump supposed to know who to call if he wants to speak to Europe? If democratic institutions are too confusing for most people to follow, are they still democratic? Would it be better to merge the positions of President of ... Read More »

Why China prefers its own ideology to US-style democracy

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Western pundits, particularly those in the US, have it all wrong when they assume that allowing China into the global economic or trading system would eventually lead the country to become “one of us.” Ken Moak Asia Times The fact of the matter is that China has never wanted to  adopt Western democracy. In view of more than 80% popular support according to US-based Pew and Gallup Polls and China’s ability to deliver on most of its promises (such as improving ... Read More »

German politicians invest in opera when seeking re-election – here’s why

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In virtually all rich democracies, governments subsidise expensive highbrow culture, such as theatre and opera. And they hire artists to work for these theatres and operas as public employees. Pieter Vanhuysse The Conversation At first sight, this might seem to pose a puzzle. After all, highbrow culture is elitist. And it seems electorally irrelevant. Parties don’t really compete on culture in elections. It’s unlikely that hiring artists to turn them into grateful voters (patronage) makes electoral sense. Even if it ... Read More »

Leading academics slam UWA student guild for putting ‘cultural sensitivities’ above free speech

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A move by the University of WA student guild to acknowledge a visit from the Dalai Lama could offend some students has been criticised by leading academics, who see it as an attempt to put cultural sensitivities ahead of free… Bethany Hiatt | The West Australian Three years after it hosted the Tibetan spiritual leader on campus, the guild last week backed a motion recognising the “negative impact” his presence could have on Chinese… UWA’s Pelican magazine reported the motion ... Read More »

What King, Kennedy, Obama’s great speeches have in common

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Two of history’s great rhetoricians – Martin Luther King, Jr and Robert F Kennedy – were assassinated 50 years ago. Their words have resonance today, writes Benjamin Ramm. Benjamin Ramm BBC Popular volumes of great speeches celebrate the mastery of the art of persuasion. These tomes are full of rhetorical flourishes, of stirring appeals to universal ideals, with elevated cadences and effortless assurances. But two of the most significant rhetoricians of the 20th Century, both of whom were assassinated 50 ... Read More »

Electoral Poker in DR Congo

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Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been postponed since December 2016, but now seem to be slated for the end of the year. ICG All parties should work to ensure credible polls, the best hope for a peaceful transfer of power. What’s new? After repeated delays, President Joseph Kabila’s government in the Democratic Republic of Congo has made progress over the past few months toward organising elections for 23 December 2018. But there are still important concerns ... Read More »

Israel cancels UN deal to resettle African migrants

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Embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu caves to pressure from right wing parties over UN offer to rehome 16,000 Africans in Western countries and allow 16,000 to remain in Israel Bethan McKernan Independent Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is cancelling yesterday’s agreement with the UN to relocate thousands of African asylum seekers to Western countries. “I have listened carefully to the many comments on the agreement. As a result, and after I again weighed the advantages and disadvantages, I decided to cancel ... Read More »

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

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A life in pictures Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, the anti-apartheid activist and former wife of Nelson Mandela, has died. The Guardian During her husband’s incarceration, she campaigned tirelessly for his release and the rights of black South Africans. She later became a controversial figure in South African politics due to allegations of corruption and involvement in acts of brutality. Matt Fidler Read More »

‘Glee, Satisfaction and Weeping’: How America Reacted When Martin Luther King Died

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When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, public perception of him was more mixed than it is today. Readers recount the mood they witnessed 50 years ago. Kelly Virella The New York Times For many years, the United States has lived under a broad consensus that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a national hero, even a national saint. But nearly a half-century ago, when he was assassinated, public perception of him was far more ... Read More »