The Return of Empires, Part 3

The Return of Empires (III)

oriental review

By Dmitry MININ (Russia)

The Return of Empires (III)Part I

Part II

«Smart power» in the service of the American empire

The dissociation of the United States from a number of international problems by shifting these problems onto allies and delegating authority to them, a result of the United States’ «imperial overheating», is based on the currently popular concept of «smart power», the very emergence of which suggests that America’s former sources of power have been exhausted… The time when America’s leadership went unquestioned has passed. Nowadays, maintaining leadership demands considerable intellectual and political efforts from the rulers of the American empire.

At the official level, the name of this concept was first heard in a speech given by Hillary Clinton at the Senate on 13 January 2009 before she confirmed her candidacy for the post of Secretary of State. Hillary Clinton called for the use of «smart power» in order to maintain America’s leadership in the world, referring to the full range of tools at America’s disposal – «diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural – picking the right tool, or combination of tools, for each situation».

The idea of «smart power» is a development of the «soft power» concept formulated in 1990 by Harvard professor and politician Joseph Nye, who successfully served as chairman of the National Intelligence Council and was a candidate for National Security Advisor in the team of John Kerry, who went on to lose in the presidential elections. Their closeness suggests that the new Secretary of State is making use of his former colleague’s suggestions with much greater enthusiasm than Hillary Clinton.

In 2004, Nye’s ideas were finalised in his book «Soft Power». Nye’s principal idea is that the United States ought to achieve its stated objectives in the international arena through «engagement» rather than «coercion». Hence the need to use social and cultural values as tools of foreign policy. The dominant power should be attractive in everything it does and offer its own example of development guidelines to others. The theory was well received in Washington and has been actively used in some places, for example in the «colour revolutions» and during the «Arab Spring», although it has since been shown as inadequate since its effect is prolonged and not always obvious. In addition, nobody was prepared to give up «hard power» based on force.

Whereupon Nye suggested combining both concepts within a universal «smart power». In 2006, the renowned research centre CSIS organised the Bipartisan Commission on Smart Power, headed by Joseph Nye and «neocon» Richard Armitage. In 2007, the Commission presented a paper entitled “A Smarter, More Secure America”, which laid out the principles for reorganising world order whilst preserving America’s power.

The concept of «smart power» gave the theory of «soft power» some strategic direction. Its leitmotif was the need for a balanced combination of the resources of both types of power, «soft» and «hard». Of course, everybody already understood what the «carrot and stick» policy is all about. The achievement of modern theoreticians has been the detailed elaboration and operationalisation of ideas that are, by and large, clear to everybody. The concept of «smart power» is not just a synthesis of soft and hard power (combining public diplomacy mechanisms with military interventions, for example), but a new philosophy of interrelations with other powers. Its bottom line is that America’s leadership position should not be realised through the single-handed resolution of international problems, but through the organisation of joint actions. Which, for example, is how America operated during the Libyan war; experts called this «leadership from behind».

«America must learn to do things that others want and cannot do themselves, and to do so in a cooperative fashion», the document reads. In the new approaches, it is also possible to detect a division of the leadership concept into two elements – spacial (control over territories) and functional (superiority in addressing problems on a global scale). The US is prepared to give up part of its spatial leadership for the sake of preserving its functional leadership in all key issues of international life.

The concept of «smart power» allows for the fact that power resources are being redistributed in the modern world and new centres of power are emerging. A complex, multi-tiered cobweb of actors is replacing the pyramidal world order with a hierarchical structure. The hierarchy between them is being preserved, just not as rigidly formalised as before. The one proving to be the most influential in this world is the one who is the most involved in widespread and interlinking networks. As another of the creators of the «smart power» concept, Professor Anne-Marie Slaughternoted, «The state with the most connections will be the central player, able to set the global agenda, and unlock innovation and sustainable growth».  Slaughter is the one responsible for the idea of creating «a league of democracies», a kind of super-empire on federalist principles whose members should manage the world through joint efforts. Under Bill Clinton, and on the initiative of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, an alliance like this was even established, but was not developed any further for a number of reasons, including the fact that at that time, the US was not seriously ready to share its authority to manage the world, even with its closest allies. Time has inexorably brought them back to this problem.

In line with the concept of «smart power», in 2010 Barack Obama announced the United States’ commitment to the multilateral (read: in partnership with their closest allies and satellites) resolution of all world problems and international conflicts in their newly outlined National Security Strategy. The document states that, «…we must recognize that no one nation – no matter how powerful – can meet global challenges alone». In addition, their willingness to share the burden of maintaining world order was not postulated as a way to democratise international relations, but as a method to preserve «America’s leadership» in the world under new conditions, «based upon mutual interests and mutual respect», obviously. Such «engagement» is expected to begin with their «closest friends and allies – from Europe to Asia; from North America to the Middle East», among which were named Great Britain, France and Germany.

An active transition to the adoption of this policy was clearly timed to coincide with the beginning of the president’s second mandate. In this respect, US Vice-President Joseph Biden’s speech at the International Security Conference held in Munich in February 2013 is revealing. Biden confirmed that the US was switching its attention to the Asia-Pacific Region, having called upon their European allies to be more active in their zone of responsibility «with the unfailing support of the USA». According to Biden’s assurances, «Europe remains the cornerstone and catalyst for America’s engagement with the world». Biden also spoke of the United States’ support for democratic states in Southeast Asia, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. Having outlined the claims to America’s newly-established spheres of influence in this way, Biden condemned the notion itself, as usual, but in a rather remarkable way. He declared that America will not recognise the right of any state to have «a sphere of influence», linking this to the non-recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. And this means that the USA is not going to concede its own positions in the Caucasus alongside Caspian Oil and will continue to regard the post-Soviet world as a geopolitical space, the consolidation of which will not be tolerated.

In Europe, Biden’s speech was seen as a bid to redistribute its spheres of influence. The German newspaper Die Welt wrote: «Europeans are anticipating that, in the future, nothing will remain as it is now. Either with NATO or without this organisation, Washington is no longer able to secure them against the consequences of the weakening of their leadership role and their disorientation. The new world order is worsening the disease identified as «imperial overstretch». At the same time, a new balance is taking shape in the Pacific Region, and without its naval, air force and cyber power, it will be difficult for America to oppose the Chinese Middle Kingdom». According to Die Welt, it has fallen to Joseph Biden to «take Europeans on a journey towards the Pacific Ocean and warn them that America is no longer able, and no longer wants, to carry the burden of maintaining world order alone».

The policy of delegating authority to allies or vassals was discernible in Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress on 12 February, in which he set forth his policy priorities for a second term. Having placed the main emphasis on resolving pressing social and economic problems being faced by America, the President reported that over the next year, 34,000 American servicemen will return home from Afghanistan. «This drawdown will continue and by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over», Obama said. From the President’s address it follows that, from now on, America will not wage war on terrorists abroad: «to meet this threat, we don’t need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad or occupy other nations. Instead, we’ll need to help countries like Yemen, and Libya, and Somalia provide for their own security, and help allies who take the fight to terrorists, as we have in Mali».

And so a formula has been found: «as in Mali»! In other words, from now on America will work towards others fighting for their interests, like the «conqueror of Timbuktu», François Hollande, while they themselves will prefer to exercise «leadership from behind».

To be continued…

SourceStrategic Culture Foundation

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The Return of Empires, Part 2

The Return of Empires (II)

oriental review

By Dmitry MININ (Russia)

The Return of Empires (II)Part I

A World of Postmodernism or the Newest Middle Ages?

The process already taking shape in the world of consolidating «larger spaces», and the return of the empires of by-gone eras may not, at first glance, seem to respond to the spirit of the times. However, we are living in an age which, in view of its uncertainty in people’s minds, is indiscriminate to such an extent that it is no stranger to the most improbable policy prescriptions.

The world is in a state of interregnum in which, as Zygmunt Bauman says, «change is the only constant, and the unknown – the only certainty»; in this world, Europe remains a battlefield, but nowadays the battle is between a Westphalian model of sovereign states and new forms of supranational governance… 

Traditional European empires of modern times, which is to say the modern age, have risen up on the ruins of feudalism. However, it is a peculiarity of postmodernism that it is ready, on a fairly eclectic basis, to take on the organisational forms of political relations of any era. Piracy, which was once from times of old (remember the famous Algerian pirates) is today once again firmly establishing itself along the shores of Africa; a by-effect, of course, but it has become indicative of a time in which the archaic and the modern intermingle in the most unimaginable way possible.

Nikolay Berdyaev (1874-1948)

Nikolay Berdyaev (1874-1948)

This is nothing new, however. Similar era breakdowns have taken place time and again. The Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, in his work written between the two world wars entitled «The New Middle Ages», wrote: «We are destined to live in a historical time of era change». Berdyaev referred to this time as «the end of new history and the beginning of a new Middle Ages», defining it as a transition from the rationalism of new history to the irrationalism of a medieval type… «The spiritual beginnings of past history are being eliminated, its spiritual power exhausted… All the usual categories of thought and form of life of the most «advanced», «progressive», even «revolutionary» people of the 19th and 20th centuries are hopelessly outdated and have lost all meaning for the present and especially for the future».

According to Berdyaev’s observations, the transition to a new middle ages, just the same as the previous transition to an «old» middle ages, is accompanied by a noticeable expansion of old societies and the indiscernible addition of new ones. «Individualism has eliminated all of its possibilities in new history, there is no longer any energy left in it… The end of the spirit of individualism is the end of new history… Liberalism, democracy, parliamentarianism, constitutionalism, legal formalism, humanitarian morals, rationalist and empirical philosophy are all the offspring of an individualistic spirit, of a humanitarian self-assertiveness, and they are all dying away, they are all losing their former importance… Is there much that is ontologically real about stock exchanges, banks and money, about monstrous factories producing useless objects or weapons for destroying life, about superficial luxuries, speeches by parliamentarians and lawyers, about newspaper articles? Is there much that is real about the growth of insatiable demands?» The Russian philosopher noted that Christianity had previously played a unifying role for at least a substantial proportion of mankind. Its very existence «signified an escape from pagan nationalism and particularism». At the end of new history, «we are once again seeing before us an unfettered world of pagan particularism, inside which there is a deadly battle and destruction taking place».

However, many of Berdyaev’s ideas do not seem to be so pertinent these days; it would obviously be wrong to place an equals sign between the time in which he wrote and the beginning of the 21st century. Although the turns of the historical spiral are linked with each other, each one is also unique, and since the New Middle Ages has already taken place, then in imitation of Berdyaev it might be possible to call the trend of our times the Newest Middle Ages.

One of the most noticeable features of this period, for example, is the emergence of various complex networks, and not just networks of an information-technology and sociological nature, but also those encompassing relations between states. Strategies for using network warfare to control nations are extremely popular in Washington. The Pentagon, in particular, has officially adopted a new military doctrine of net-centric warfare aimed at «superior knowledge» and «information dominance». At the same time, our internationally-networked world with its apparent independence of individual centres of power which are, in fact, incorporated into more complex hierarchical relations and interdependencies surprisingly reminds one, in an ontological sense, of the world of the Middle Ages.

In particular, a system of multilayered vassalage is forming before our very eyes in which there will no longer be a supreme «liege lord» as before (because he cannot and does not want to do it), interfering in literally everything to do with the rulers in his area of dominance on the principle of «A vassal of my vassal is not my vassal». Washington understands that it is both financially and physically impossible to delve into the particulars of all 200 world powers, but that is exactly what they have been trying to do there so far and with increasing amounts of effort. It is simpler to choose half a dozen or a dozen trusted agents («vassals») and entrust/trust them to do it, controlling them themselves. This is why some of the recent actions of America’s close allies, first and foremost France, are so similar to the principle of distributing feudal lands. It is probably possible to talk about a plan for a kind of super empire in place of a sole super power which, on the basis of the network principle, would be subordinate to the regional or traditional empires currently acquiring a new lease of life. The centre would be the same, but now it would be more like a coordinator than a straight omnipresent steward; it would be considerably more economical and consequently, or so the Americans are hoping, no less efficient. Full sovereignty, meanwhile, including the right to military intervention, would undoubtedly be centred at the top of this pyramid. As the well-known American academic Noam Chomsky writes, the principles of international order lie in the fact that the United States has the right to use violence whenever they like. And nobody else has that right. «Of course not. Well, maybe our clients do. So they inherit the right. Other American clients do, too. But the rights really reside in Washington. That’s what it means to own the world. It’s like the air you breathe. You can’t question it».

In fact today, on a new turn of history, a neofeudal system of vassal dependence is re-establishing itself in the world which, in its day, replaced the mighty Rome. Today’s Rome is Washington, which in many ways is in exactly the same state of imperial exhaustion, including moral, and which in reality is trying to continue its hegemony using exactly the same methods, although with the very latest technology; but really it makes no different, it is only technique and there is nothing new in that. 

Neo-vassalage has a lot of benefits. Firstly, if something is going wrong, it is always possible to make it seem like the one responsible is not who is really pulling the strings, namely Washington, but the vassal state. Using this vassal, it is completely possible to deny one’s own involvement in the fates of other states and pull on the robes of impartial arbitrator. Secondly, such a mechanism for projecting global power also allows for the costs of managing territories to be kept to a minimum, which is rather important given the global financial crisis. At the same time, while setting about reorganising the world, Washington also needs to factor in the costs that this would bring. At some point, the interests of the main liege lord may not coincide with the interests of large vassals capable of obstinacy. Furthermore, those against whom this game is being directed may be in a position to set about strengthening their own alliances, the contours of which are already discernible. Consequently, while on the way to putting its plan into action, Washington still has a number of complex problems to solve.

To be continued…

SourceStrategic Culture Foundation

The Return of Empires, Part 1

The Return of Empires (I)

oriental review

By Dmitry MININ (Russia)

The Return of Empires (I) Part I , Part II  

«Larger spaces» versus chaos in international relations?

The recent expeditions of the French in Africa clearly smack less of neoimperialism than they do neocolonialism, and have prompted many to wonder whether the events are the start of a new cycle of world politics in which an outgoing unipolarity is perhaps being replaced by a forthcoming multipolarity not hailed by everyone, or something different, something new or maybe a repeat of history, but in new packaging? Maybe something that would allow, for example, the United States «to leave without actually leaving», to continue implementing their global plans in a more complex system of interstate relations? If so, then the imperial projects and vassal relations of by-gone eras that had seemingly vanished forever will turn out to be much in demand…

One of the first instances of this trend was noted and identified by Jürgen Habermas, a well-known German philosopher, at the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first mandate. He observed, for example, that the «realistic» school of international relations that had restored its influence in Washington after Bush differed from the «neocons» not so much in its aims to preserve America’s global hegemony, as the way these aims would be realised. According to Habermas, the desired world order of this school is largely in response to Carl Schmitt’s theory of larger space (Großraumtheorie). Schmitt thought of «larger spaces» as the spheres of influence of dominant imperial powers and their «strong ideas».

One could say that America was still at a crossroads during Obama’s first mandate, leading rearguard actions to preserve its global leadership, while at the same time becoming increasingly aware of the inefficiency and onerousness of its attempts, especially amid the global financial crisis. From the beginning of his second term in office, however, Obama is starting to decisively reformat the world. The problem being faced by Washington is not only that maintaining its unipolarity is becoming impossible, but that multipolarity is undesirable. Washington is already uncomfortable with the fact that while preserving the existing order, China will eventually arrive at the point of global hegemony and could behave exactly as America itself is doing. As Habermas shrewdly observed: «It is more in America’s own interests to attempt today to bind tomorrow’s global powers to the kind of international order that no longer needs a superpower».

Meanwhile, more and more research is appearing in the West showing that a natural rebirth process of the imperial policies of a number of former parent states has begun in reaction to the devolution of America as global leader and the growing chaos of global politics, and often not in the direction that America would find favourable. The return of empires is described metaphorically in the Italian geopolitical magazine Limes: «Empires will never die so long as their roots are not dug up or covered with salt. Their spirit lives on in many generations of descendants and ascendants, as well as subordinate nations. They are ready to rise again at the first available opportunity, the moment geopolitical pressure on them begins to wane and the systems that have been declared immortal turn out to be brittle and dilapidated». Unable to withstand this «hurricane», the White House, according to proposed recommendations, should be at the head of this process and send it in the «necessary direction». It is advisable to contrast the natural formation of new empires with the organised construction of the kind of empires that America would be able to act jointly with, whilst as far as possible slowing down the creation of potentially hostile formations.

Thus in the newspaper National Interest, Dov Zakheim, former undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the US Department of Defense, points to «the growing triumphalism of several empires manqué». According to Zakheim, «In East Asia, China is increasingly flexing its political, economic and military muscles as a commanding power to which others must perform the kowtow ritual of subservience. In the Middle East and Central Asia, Turkey is exploiting its newfound economic and political prowess to extend its influence over the many states that once constituted the Ottoman Empire. And Russia is drawing upon the power and influence it derives from its energy resources to pursue a neo-czarist policy in Europe and in the outlying regions of the old Russian Empire. Nor should one overlook the influence in South Asia of India, whose economy dwarfs that of its neighbors and where the Moghuls once were the dominant force, and Brazil’s inheritance of the Portuguese Empire’s mantle in Africa, facilitated by its own increasing economic clout. The imperial legacies of these states have provided impetus to their nations to cut a greater figure not only within their regions but also on the world stage. When visiting these countries or meeting with their elites, one senses a growing sense that they are reverting to their traditional roles as major powers».

Most worrying to Zakheim, however, is that «all believe that the United States, and even more so Europe, no longer should monopolize decision making for the international community. They reject the post-World War II settlement as outdated and will not automatically accept American leadership on any given issue. Washington policy makers, currently obsessed with that other imperial legatee, Iran, would do well to recognize that there is more to these states than impressive economic growth, military expansion and political influence. Americans are known for their lack of historical sensitivity. They will need all the sensitivity they can muster in order to deal successfully with states whose claim to a greater role on the world stage is motivated as much by past glory as by present success».  It is not difficult to see that Zakheim’s misgivings are akin to those expressed in Samuel Huntington’s prophecies regarding a future «clash of civilizations».

One of the main dilemmas being faced by the United States’ imperial policy at the present moment, according to the German academic Herfried Münkler and expressed in his book «Empires: The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States», is the discrepancy between recognising the irrelevance of further expansion and the fear that this will be perceived by others as a sign of weakness. «It is harder to put down an imperialist, civilizing, humanitarian, value-expanding mission by which an empire has defined itself, without being seen – by those within the empire as well as by others – as in decline». Another peculiarity of America, as defined by Münkler, is that America is, by nature, an «empire in a hurry», a consequence of its short four-year election cycle. «Probably, Washington’s growing tendency in recent years to use the military for problem-solving also has something to do with the time pressure built into democratic mechanisms. Military solutions offer themselves with a suggestion of speed and finality, so that an «empire in a hurry» may grasp at them more often than would be sensible or advisable».

Academics also believe distinct traces of imperial ambition are evident in the policies of the European Union. In an article entitled “The Imperial Re-Bordering of Europe: the case of the European Neighbourhood Policy” (Cambridge Review of International Affairs, June, 2012), it has been pointed out, for example, that the European Neighbourhood Policy could be interpreted as a declaration of the European Union’s imperial intentions. In particular, the fact that the EU’s neighbouring countries would be more like its subordinate subjects than equal partners, according to the plans for integrated relations laid out in the policy, could also be part of its imperial strategies. In keeping with the strategies of a multicultural empire, the European Union is using the European Neighbourhood Policy to create new borders and division lines between its neighbours following the example of the Balkans. According to the article’s author, the imperial policy of transforming borders being carried out by the European Union uses less noticeable, but more importunate instruments of control based on voluntary subordination and the acceptance of imposed regulations.

And so the construction of «larger spaces» in global politics has begun. There is undoubtedly no point in waiting for the borders of these new/old empires to be formalised or officially announced. After all, the point here is not their direct reinstatement with all the accompanying paraphernalia (that would look like a farce), but the return to an appropriate modus operandi for projecting the interests of former parent states. The future global hierarchy which is emerging at the behest of Washington will, in every way possible, avoid identifying itself with the colonial empires of former times, for fear of stirring up the memories of nations. And not just the former colonies who were subjected to ruthless exploitation, but the imperial capitals themselves, whose inhabitants are not so keen on saddling themselves with a burden they have already shaken off and who do not want to see the arrival of new and overwhelming streams of migrants from these territories. Neither is there any point waiting for conventions or agreements similar to the capitulation regimes or acts of vassalage, since modern legal bondage can be far stronger evidence of the dependence of former times. The neoimperialist renaissance of Western powers is easier to follow when it comes to the logic behind their ideas and actions, if one does not attach too much importance to the «high moral standards» they hide behind.

 To be continued…

SourceStrategic Culture Foundation

Zionism Was A Jewish/German Conspiracy To Export Nazi Germany’s Political Problems To the Middle East

[Zionism is a corrupt pre-nazi era Germanic political philosophy, which masquerades as a religious movement, promoting a policy of war against the Palestinian People, for the purpose of exporting Europe’s intractible conflicts, biases and hatred to the Middle East.  Zionism tapped into German fear and hatred, into Jewish money, power and influence, to use as political blackmail over the Western governments, for the purpose of forcing them to manufacture a completely new state out of thin air, to be built upon land already owned and occupied by Palestinian Arabs (Semitic cousins of the Sephardic Jews of the Middle East).  The considerable Jewish political and economic influence in the world economy were exerted upon the British government, forcing London to issue the Balfour Declaration in 1917.  This conjured-up a previously non-existent “Jewish right” to buy-up the land and to “return” to Palestine. 

In 1947, the same political/economic arm-twisting was used to force the United States government to create an entirely new Jewish state  in Palestine (with a ready-made army and air force), selling it as the reincarnation of the ancient, totally extinct state of “Israel.”  No extinct state, nor imaginary “citizens” of that “state,” have “rights” to any land, or to anything else, which is derived from an actual state, any more than “Romans” or “Macedonians,” can claim such “rights.”   Purported “titles” to that land, which are obtained from probable works of fiction (Old Testament), carry no legal weight, and would have been dismissed outright if such claims had been taken before any judicial authority. 

Whether or not the so-called “Israeli” Russians, who have claimed shares in these pseudo “rights,” are, in fact, hereditary “Jews” (even though almost all of them are the offspring of Khazarians, not coming from refugees from the Middle East), is irrelevant to the claim that neither Britain nor the United States of America, nor the United Nations, for that matter, have any authority to create “new” nations.   Therefore, any revival of an ancient, extinct state, previously known as “Israel,” which has been savagely recreated on Palestinian land is an illigitimate entity, posing as a legitimate “state.”  Any lawful body which attempts to create a completely new state in place of an already existing country, for the single purpose of giving legitimacy to an existing terrorist army that is already waging war against the native population, is party to the war crimes and international acts of aggression committed by that terrorist army.  War crimes and crimes against humanity committed in an organized campaign of ethnic-cleansing de-legitimizes both the so-called “state” aggressor and the authorizing body which created it.  As long as Zionist Israel exists, world peace is impossible.  If the citizens of that country decide to drop the “Zionist” partition, making Israel/Palestine an inclusive Jewish/Arab state, then that would write a new chapter in human history, one where a happy ending for all mankind is actually possible. 

That is the cold, hard truth, which makes Erdogan absolutely correct in calling Zionism out as another “crime against humanity  (SEE: Erdogan Surprises Everybody At the UN, Calling-Out Zionism As the Crime Against Humanity That It Is).”]

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

US, Israel irked by Turkish PM’s remarks on Zionism

dawn

ANKARA: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday joined the United States and Israel in rejecting statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who compared Zionism to fascism at a United Nations meeting aiming to promote dialogue between all faiths.

Addressing the UN Alliance of Civilizations conference in Vienna this week, Erdogan complained of prejudices against Muslims and said Islamophobia should be considered a crime against humanity ”just like Zionism, like anti-Semitism and like fascism.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sharply condemned the remark late Thursday calling it a ”dark and mendacious statement the likes of which we thought had passed from the world.”

In Washington, US National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor said the characterisation about Zionism, the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state, was ”offensive and wrong.”

”We encourage people of all faiths, cultures, and ideas to denounce hateful actions and to overcome the differences of our times,” he said.

Turkey is a co-sponsor, along with Spain, of the UN initiative to promote tolerance and understanding between various religions and a UN statement said: ”If the comment about Zionism was interpreted correctly, then it was not only wrong but contradicts the very principles on which the Alliance of Civilizations is based.”

The statement said Ban ”believes it is unfortunate that such hurtful and divisive comments were uttered at a meeting being held under the theme of responsible leadership.”

US State Secretary John Kerry is expected to raise the issue when he meets with Erdogan and other Turkish leaders in Ankara on Friday.

Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu, reported Erdogan’s remarks on Wednesday but removed the reference to ”Zionism” in a correction sent out an hour later. It said the correction was ”made by the source” but gave no other explanation.

Turkey and Israel were once important allies but relations have deteriorated sharply after an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship in 2010 which killed nine pro-Palestinian activists.

Erdogan, whose ruling party has roots in Turkey’s Islamic movement, frequently criticises Israeli actions against Palestinians but rarely speaks out against Zionism. In November, he accused Israel of state terrorism and of an ”attempt at ethnic cleansing,” a euphemism used to describe how violence can be used to force a population from an area.

Oklahoma Passes Forced Drug-Testing On the Poor

[Forced compliance with any medically unnecessary drug testing is comparable to the “loyalty oaths” which were so popular in the 1950s with the Right Wing during the McCarthy witch hunts.  Forced taking of bodily fluids to prove that you are a good citizen who abides by every law is a violation of privacy and individual Constitutional rights, specifically, the 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.  If it is forced upon destitute people, at their own expense, then it should also be forced upon every other citizen of the state, even the Congressmen who wrote the bill and his kids. (SEE: New Drug Screening Law In Oklahoma Takes Effect On ThursdayUpdated: Oct 30, 2012).]

House Bill 2388 to drug-test Oklahomans on public assistance passes first hurdle

tulsa world

Rep. Sean Roberts: One of five authors of the bill, he calls it a “common sense” measure to protect tax dollars from misuse by drug addicts.
By WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Published: 2/21/2012  2:42 AM
Last Modified: 2/21/2012  7:38 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY – Drug testing would be required of people applying for public assistance if a measure approved Monday by a House subcommittee becomes law.

“This is a common-sense idea that is long overdue,” said Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy. “The law-abiding families of Oklahoma should not have their tax dollars used to subsidize someone’s drug addiction.”

Roberts is one of five authors of House Bill 2388, which would require applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – TANF – to take drug tests at their own expense. Any applicant who failed the drug test would be denied assistance for one year and then would be eligible for retesting. Children of parents who fail TANF drug tests could be eligible for benefits through third parties who pass the drug testing.

A similar bill passed a state Senate committee last week.

An estimated 40,634 potential TANF recipients would be affected by the legislation, said Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, another author of the proposal.

“When a private employee tests positive for drugs, the employer can fire that person,” Bennett said. “Those receiving state services are being paid by the taxpayers of Oklahoma, and we should have the right to fire them if they abuse drugs.”

Bennett cited a report from the Foundation for Government Accountability that says a drug-testing requirement for Floridians seeking state aid resulted in denial of taxpayer-funded assistance to 9.6 percent of applicants, saving $923,000 in the first month of the law’s implementation.

“In Florida, they were seeing $5.71 in savings generated for every $1 spent to administer the drug-testing program,” Bennett said.

Opponents of the measure said it was insulting and un-American.

“When did being poor become a crime? When did having to apply for benefits mean that you’re suspected of being a drug abuser?” asked Ryan Kiesel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.

Kiesel said that in Florida 2 percent of the applicants tested positive for drugs – lower than the drug-using population of the general public.

Drug testing by private employers is different from drug testing by the government as a prerequisite for benefits, Kiesel said. The Fourth and 14th amendments to the Constitution protect against suspicionless searches by the government, he said.

Requiring TANF applicants to pay for their own testing adds insult to injury, he said.

“Before they can get this assistance, they have to shell out money that they already don’t have to pay for a drug test to prove that they’re not a criminal. I think that that’s just a ridiculous proposition,” Kiesel said.

It’s too early to say whether the ACLU would challenge the proposal in court, he said.

Rep. Guy Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City, the bill’s first author, rejected the idea that there is any substantial difference between an employer testing job applicants for drugs and the government testing TANF applicants.

“I guess if they’re going to take money from the state, that’s their employer for a while,” Liebmann said. “It’s something that needs to be done. I’m tired of paying a lot of taxes – both to the state and the feds – and seeing it turned around and buying drugs.”

He said he would also push for drug tests for food stamp applicants, but that policy is prohibited by the federal government.

Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, was one of two House appropriations subcommittee members who voted against the proposal Monday. McDaniel said she wasn’t convinced that the idea addressed a pressing problem for the state and didn’t want to put the support of needy children at risk without better evidence.

An Oklahoma Department of Human Services liaison told the committee that the agency already has the authority to drug-test people who receive benefits if there is reason to suspect that they are abusing drugs, McDaniel said. The liaison told the committee that about 5 percent of those tested have positive drug results, McDaniel said.
Key points of House Bill 2388

All applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families would be tested for controlled substances.

In two-parent households, both parents would have to test.

Testing would be paid for by applicants.

Applicants who test positive would be ineligible for benefits for one year.

Applicants who test positive again after one year would be ineligible for benefits for three more years.

Applicants who lose benefits could reapply after six months if they complete substance abuse treatment.

TANF benefits for dependent children would not be affected. A “protective payee” who passed a drug check could receive the benefits for the child.

Rules would take effect Nov. 1 if proposal becomes law.
Original Print Headline: Drug-test bill advances

Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
wayne.greene@tulsaworld.com
By WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer

Allegedly “Unbiased” US Congressman Pushes Break-up of “Vicious, Murderous, Gangster Regime In Pakistan”

US Congressman Rohrabacher demands referendum in Balochistan

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UNPO convened an international conference at The Royal Society, London entitled ‘Global and Regional Security Challenges in South Asia: What Future for Balochistan?’. -Press Release Photo

BRUSSELS: In an effort to shed light on the key role Balochistan plays in South Asia, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) convened a conference entitled “Global and Regional Security Challenges in South Asia: What Future for Balochistan”, which took place at The Royal Society, London on 24 February 2013.

Key speaker at this conference, US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, gave a poignant speech urging the right to self-determination for the Baloch people.

The Congressman requested a referendum to be held in Balochistan on the question of independence, which would challenge the claims by Islamabad that the Baloch want to be part of Pakistan.

“As you may know, I have a resolution I submitted following hearings last year. This resolution basically says that the people of Balochistan have a right to control their destinies through the ballot box and we support a referendum for them to decide whether they stay part of Pakistan or not,” he said.

“Unfortunately, it has been American money and American support for a vicious, murderous, gangster regime in Pakistan that has kept this violence and horrendous reality as part of the lives of so many millions of people who live in South Asia,” Rohrabacher said in his speech.

He called for Pakistani officials to be tried for war crimes.

“First and foremost, we have to quit giving any military aid, and I would suggest we should quit giving any aid, to Pakistan who then uses our aid to murder and suppress people like the Baloch people, who are longing to have basic freedoms.

“We have to make sure that the evidence of this is clear to everybody and that the monstrous violence that is being laid upon the people of Balochistan is horrendous, he said.

Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) was also present.

The conference was opened by Marino Busdachin, General Secretary of UNPO, and Paulo Casaca, former MEP and Director of the South Asia Democratic Forum, who denounced above all the Pakistani government’s use of a ferocious ‘kill and dump’ policy in Balochistan.

The first panel, chaired by Noordin Mengal, discussed Balochistan’s role in the world power game.

Athar Hussain, Director of the Asia Research Centre at LSE, Dr. Naseer Dashti, Baloch writer, and Mohammad Ali Talpur, columnist at the Daily Times, addressed issues such as Pakistan’s inability as a state to protect its citizen and the brutality with which it has addressed tensions with Balochistan.

The second panel brought together Burzine Waghmar from the Centre for the Study of Pakistan at SOAS, journalist Anna Reitman, Nasser Boladai, President of the Baluchistan People’s Party, and Hammal Haider Baloch, spokesperson of the Baloch National Movement.

This panel addressed the talibanisation of Balochistan, the rise of islamic radicalism in South Asia, security in Iranian Balochistan, the key role energy and mining resources play in Balochistan, and the influence of Iran, Pakistan, India and China in the region.

The third panel concentrated on Balochistan’s future and the different ways forward, a subject strongly backed by US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

The Congressman stated that Pakistan is not a friend of the United States and of those who believe in peace, prosperity and freedom for the people of the world.

The Khan of Kalat, Mir Suleman Daud called for a united Baloch front in the struggle against the horrors imposed on the Baloch people by Islamabad.

Tarek Fatah gave a vigorous speech, pointing at the curse of colonialism and the lack of international support to Balochistan, while Pakistan keeps on betraying its international allies.

Prof Joshua Castellino of Middlesex University, spoke about the right to self determination of peoples, and Abubakar Siddique of RFE/RL, addressed issues of enforced disappearances and human rights in Balochistan.

The conference was concluded by Peter Tatchell, political activist and spokesperson for human rights of the Green Party (UK), who outlined his proposals for a way forward for Balochistan, stressing on the importance of forming a united Baloch front capable of convincing the international community.

Noordin Mengal concluded the conference by stating that a sovereign state of Balochistan would not only benefit the Baloch people, but the entire region.

This day-long conference produced the “Conference Declaration on the Restoration of the Rights of the Baloch People in light of Regional and Global Security”.

Getting Squeezed-Out of Google Searches With the Panda Algorithm

[Continuing to look into the negative effects of the new logarithm-based Google Panda, I have uncovered the following guideline for recovering from the Panda-inflicted losses of readers (SEE: Losing Readership Because of Google Panda Search Algorithyms?).  In addition to the loss of several hundred readers a day, as outlined in the cited article above, I have noticed that under “referrals-search engines,” my daily posts are no longer listed, meaning that they have been filtered out of Google searches.  All that is left is the occasional link match.   According to the bullet-points below, the new algorithm is keyed towards social media referrals, so if your posts aren’t getting “tweeted,” or belched-out on “Facebook,” then don’t bother looking for your usual traffic from search engines.  In the usual “Catch 22” irony, how else do you reach the tweets, which the logarithm picks up, if you are not included in most searches?  They don’t have to force us off the Internet, if they can get the Internet to overlook us.]

SEO for Authoritative Content Publishers Before and After Google Panda [Infographic] 

Newstex - Authoritative Content Syndication

Posted on December 12, 2012

seo before and after google pandaMany websites that relied heavily on traditional search engine optimization tactics to drive traffic to their sites and build their audiences found themselves in deep holes earlier this year when Google rolled out its Panda and Penguin search algorithm updates. The sites that didn’t suffer were the ones that had focused less on keyword density and writing for search engines and more on writing high quality content for their audiences.

Most Authoritative Content publishers worry less about search engine optimization than creating high quality content, but that doesn’t mean that including search engine optimization in your publishing efforts should be avoided entirely. A few simple tweaks to your content can help new visitors find your site without causing potential penalties from Google.

Fuzz One Media put together a useful infographic that describes the traditional search engine optimization tactics that marketers, web designers, and content publishers were focused on before the Google Panda algorithm change earlier this year. These are the search engine optimization tactics that Authoritative Content publishers should not be using. In contrast, the infographic also provides recommended post-Panda search engine optimization tactics that Authoritative Content publishers can implement without hurting the user experience on their sites or the usefulness of their content.

Courtesy of: Fuzz One Media

 

Keep in mind, search engine optimization is a short-term tactic to help draw attention to your content. It can also help drive more and more traffic over time, but Authoritative Content publishers who focus on strategically creating high quality content again and again will achieve long-term, sustainable, organic growth that can outlast any Google algorithm change.

How should you prioritize your content creation efforts? Authoritative Content publishers should keep doing what they’ve been doing. In other words, they should continue to publish a lot of high quality, useful, and meaningful content that their audiences want and need. In the long run, being useful to people is a guaranteed way to keep them coming back. Using keywords is not. Pursue the audience building strategies and tactics that help you reach your goals as a publisher of Authoritative Content, and you can’t go wrong!

If you want to learn more about search engine optimization, I highly recommend SEOmoz.org, Search Engine Land, and Google Webmaster Tools. Are there any SEO resources that you would add? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Sachin Ghodke