Showing posts from February, 2022

IPCC issues ‘bleakest warning yet’ on impacts of climate breakdown

Climate breakdown is accelerating rapidly, many of the impacts will be more severe than predicted and there is only a narrow chance left of avoiding its worst ravages, the  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  (IPCC) has said. Even at current levels, human actions in heating the climate are causing dangerous and widespread disruption, threatening devastation to swathes of the natural world and rendering many areas unliveable, according to the landmark report published on Monday. “The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, a co-chair of working group 2 of the IPCC. “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.”… George Monbiot: Dead Line - Future corporate profits are officially more important than li

Shyam Saran: Russia’s friends are finding it harder to look the other way / Chinese historians speak out against Russian invasion

Ukraine is enveloped in the inevitable fog of war and it is difficult to assess whether Russian forces are on the threshold of overwhelming the much less capable Ukrainian forces. Vladimir Putin’s calculations - that the shock and awe of the Russian invasion would lead to the collapse of the Ukrainian government and surrender of the Ukrainian forces - have proved to be premature. This may still be the eventual outcome but would not have been achieved without considerable expenditure of blood and treasure. The longer it takes to bring Ukraine to heel, the greater the compulsion to use much greater levels of violence than we have witnessed so far. The images of wanton destruction and streams of traumatised Ukrainians streaming across their borders into neighbouring countries are a public relations disaster for Putin. At the same time, there are stories and visuals of brave resistance by the Ukrainian forces, the taking up of arms by ordinary citizens and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy h

ALFRED MCCOY: China Is Digging Its Own Grave (and Ours as Well)

Consider us at the edge of the sort of epochal change not seen for centuries, even millennia. By the middle of this century, we will be living under such radically altered circumstances that the present decade, the 2020s, will undoubtedly seem like another era entirely, akin perhaps to the Middle Ages. And I'm not talking about the future development of flying cars, cryogenics, or even as-yet-unimaginable versions of space travel. Together, the planet's two great imperial powers, China and the United States,  accounted for  44% of total CO2 emissions in 2019 and so far both have made painfully slow progress toward renewable energy. After leading the world for the past 75 years, the United States is ever so fitfully losing its grip on global hegemony. As Washington's power begins to fade, the liberal international system it created by founding the United Nations in 1945 is facing potentially fatal challenges.  After more than 180 years of Western global dominion, leadershi

Mukul Kesavan: Ukraine - a conflict between two transnational entities / Vladimir Sorokin: Putin sits atop a crumbling pyramid of power

Vladimir Putin anticipated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by writing screeds about the essential one-ness of Russians and Ukrainians, united as they were, in his view, by a common origin in the medieval principalities of Kievan Rus. Putin insisted that Ukraine had no real tradition of independent statehood and blamed Lenin and the Bolsheviks for inventing a Ukrainian nation by designating eastern Ukraine as one of the fifteen republics that constituted the USSR after the 1917 revolution. Before the revolution, Lenin’s fellow revolutionary, Joseph Stalin, had written an essay in 1913 in which he defined the nation state and tried to distinguish it from other kinds of States and solidarities. Stalin was keen to emphasize that nations weren’t based on racial or religious communities. He argued that “A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture

Jonathan Beale - Ukraine: Is Russia's invasion going as expected?

History shows that it's much easier to start a war than to end one. That's certainly true of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. And it might turn out to be the same for President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. There's an old axiom that military plans never survive the first contact with the enemy. It certainly appears to be true for Russia's forces in Ukraine. Ed Arnold, an expert on European security at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), describes Russia's initial assault as "underwhelming" and "slower than expected". He points to a number of reasons. Military doctrine for an invasion, he says, is usually "to go for overwhelming force". While Russia had massed between 150,000 and 190,000 troops on the border, so far it hasn't used them all. That might be because Russia will need them for later phases of the invasion. It's normal for militaries to keep reserves as they adjust plans… https://www.b

Marina Hyde: Putin’s tale of two cities–London for his oligarchs, Kyiv for his bombs / Oliver Bullough: Butler to the World

This afternoon, when I walk down to the opticians, I will pass some large, unconvincingly spontaneous graffiti that recently appeared on someone else’s wall. It reads: “There is no Russian interference in elections.” (Kids, eh?) Next, I will pass two vast houses that I know to be owned by oligarchs – one of whom is  Roman Abramovich  – and two others that are heavily rumoured to be. Some of these properties are on a street that also hosts various ambassadorial residences, and they are therefore protected obligingly around the clock by multiple armed British police officers. UN resolution deploring invasion vetoed – as it happened Just a tiny snapshot from a London that is uniquely placed to hurt Russia’s richest and most powerful – the class who could ultimately help decide how long Vladimir Putin sticks around. Yet London continues to pull its punches. In a mirthless sort of way, I enjoyed Boris Johnson  thundering  on Thursday that “oligarchs in London will have nowhere to hide

Ukraine: India refuses to take a clear position on the Russian invasion / Prominent Russians join protests against Ukraine war amid 1,800 arrests

NB : The article below is provocative. Readers may consider the implications. But two points need to be made about the author's last few sentences. One, the phrase 'Putin's imperial nostalgia' is misleading unless post-USSR geo-politics are examined carefully. Two, the world's 'liberal democracies' don't seem very committed to liberal democracy these days, and neither (to say the least) does the current Indian establishment. Its 'core values' have been  eroded and its policies reduced to keeping the Modi government and Sangh Parivar in power.  Incidentally, Jawaharlal Nehru defended Nobel Laureate Boris Pasternak when he was threatened with possible exile by the Khrushchev regime for his path-breaking novel Dr Zhivago . Here is the article by Deepanshu Mohan: India's refusal to take a clear position on the Russian invasion may hurt its interests What follows are some of my observations on the current crisis and the world order as someone who

Kelly Denton-Borhaug: The True Costs of America’s All-Consuming War-Culture / Chris Hedges: Chronicle of a War Foretold

The consequences of pushing NATO up to the borders with Russia — there is now a NATO missile base in Poland 100 miles from the Russian border — were well known to policy makers. Yet they did it anyway. It made no geopolitical sense. But it made commercial sense. War, after all, is a business , a very lucrative one. It is why we spent two decades in Afghanistan although there was near universal consensus after a few years of fruitless fighting that we had waded into a quagmire we could never win... Lately, random verses from the Bible have been popping into my mind unbidden, like St. Paul’s famous line from Galatians, “A person reaps what they sow.” The words sprang into my consciousness when I learned of the death of the 95-year-old Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist  Thich Nhat Hanh , who helped encourage Martin Luther King to declare  his opposition  to the Vietnam War so long ago. For decades, I’ve been moved by Hanh’s witness and his writings, which shined such a light on

Tory lobbying row over unregulated ‘Westminster Russia Forum’ / Donald Trump can't stop praising Vladimir Putin

Concerns have been raised that unregulated pro-Moscow lobbyists at the heart of Westminster are using their links to Tory MPs to gain influence and respectability. A group formerly known as the Conservative Friends of Russia (CRF) is  advertising  its first in-person conference for two years next week, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. Now called the  Westminster Russia Forum (WRF) , the group’s British organisers often appear on the Russian state broadcaster, RT. The WRF, which loudly echoes official lines from Moscow, has links with numerous Conservative MPs and other senior UK political figures…. Donald Trump can't stop praising Vladimir Putin Donald Trump can't help himself. Over and over again this week -- as Russia massed forces along Ukraine's borders and then invaded on Wednesday night -- the former US President found tim

How I remember my friend, the brave journalist Deyda Hydara

Early in the morning of 17 December 2004, I woke up to a phone call from a Western diplomat. She asked me what I had heard about Deyda Hydara, a journalist and a mutual friend. “No, I am just back from an overseas trip and I have not yet spoken to him,” I replied. “Anything the matter with him?” She just told me to find out and get back to her. I called Pap Saine, Deyda’s colleague and childhood friend. He said: “They shot him dead last night.” I jumped out of bed, hastily dressed and rushed to the mortuary at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul where his body lay. Assembled there were several people – mainly journalists, his friends and family – nearly all confused as to who would kill such a friendly and peaceful soul, and why. At the time of his death, Deyda was managing editor of The Point, one of The Gambia’s leading independent daily newspapers, which he had founded on 16 December 1991 together with Pap Saine and Baboucarr Gaye. It was therefore on the 13th anniver