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Our 41st year of publishing The International Observer online

VIEWING THE WORLD

The president of the Pacific Ocean Vanuatu Island whose residents feel and see the effects of the present climate change, partly by losing land to the ocean every day, used this year’s United Nations General Assembly to take a practical step. On 26 September, he called on other nations to join in launching a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, reported Radio New Zealand Pacific (RNZ). The mechanism targeting the 86 percent of CO2 emissions has been endorsed by more than 65 cities and authorities as well as by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Several states in the Central American and Caribbean region are still considering becoming fully independent republics. Barbados completed the transition 14 November 2021 but the death of Queen Elizabeth II after her 70-year reign on 8 September caused six countries to slow plans out of respect for the deceased monarch. The following are still determined to end the colonial-era relationship: Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Antigua and Barbuda is expected to decide within three years and will hold a referendum. In Canada, a motion by the Bloc Québecois opposition in the House of Commons on 26 October to end its ties with the British crown was defeated 266 against 44. In Australia there is some support to become an independent republic, but it has ruled out a vote within the next four years while in New Zealand its prime minister reaffirmed her support for shifting to a republic, but it is not a government priority, according to The New York Times.

October 2022

Russia during the past six months has been sanctioned numerous times by several international organizations as well as by key countries – for good reason - so its reaction and suspending several agreements is not surprising. Latest suspension, in August, concerned inspections of Russian sites by the United States under the 2010 NEW START treaty.

August 2022 

Most of the Donbas region containing the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics which had not been under Ukrainian control since April 2014 is now occupied by Russia. Currently the breakaway units are recognized by Russia, Syria, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and by the unrecognized breakaway South Ossetia-State of Alania. Since Russia’s unprovoked attacks on Ukraine of 24 February, temporary control of some places continues to change. Recently the Russian foreign minister seems to acknowledge that the invasion’s target is to turn a smaller Ukraine into a weak and dependent country and eventually back into a Russian province. 

It sounds too much like “If I lose the election, it’s the crooked system” when President Jair Bolsonaro briefed foreign diplomats on 18 July on the inadequacies of the national voting system. The US State Department was quick to point out the fallacy of the presentation and endorsed the existing system. The extreme right-wing leader is also trying to win supporters in the military for spreading doubts about the polls. Again, the US but this time the Secretary of Defense aiming mainly at Burma, Thailand and some African states, declared that the military should be controlled by civilians.

July 2022 

 

After finding the value of emergency edicts, such as the one issued earlier on COVID-19 restrictions, for unrelated measures interfering with civil rights, Hungary’s reinstalled Prime Minister Viktor Orbán immediately imposed a new state of emergency on 24 May. Citing far-fetched threats from the war in Hungary, it bestows new authority such as ordering new taxes, continuing ruling by decree and stifle criticism. 

Accuracy of US mid-term elections is threatened by specially trained fringe poll watchers who are possibly harassing and intimidating. Unidentified people are recruited to mix with voters after having been indoctrinated that the last president won the election – a falsehood so judged by Congress and election officials, incl. Republicans.

June 2022

The United States are definitely engaging deeper in the Indo-Pacific region since the visit of Vice President Kamala Devi Harris to Singapore in August 2021. Although around before, the four-nation Australia-India-Japan-US Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad was significantly boosted with the meeting of their foreign ministers and now again on 11 February in Melbourne, Australia. During a first visit to Fiji two days later, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US was pursuing deeper engagement plans with Pacific nations, reported Radio New Zealand International (RNZI).

Indian politics offers the latest view of common maneuver of leaders and their parties to deflect criticism and objection to one’s own pursuit by criticizing and condemning what the other party seems to be advancing. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is actively spreading Hindutva, an aggressive form of Hindu nationalism, under pretense of secular and democratic reform but targeting and threatening India’s Muslims. Clashes result as does volatile criticism and rejection from the Indian National Congress (INC), the country’s largest opposition party. To weaken and denounce Congress, Modi on 8 February launched an all-out attack, accused it of being responsible for several ills confronting the country and blamed family-run parties for being the biggest threat to democracy, reported PTI. Since 1951, with some interruptions, Congress has been presided over by Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi, Rajiiv Gandhi and  his mother Sonia Gandhi since 1998 – hence the attack on family.

Russia, besides trying to place Ukraine or parts of it, such as Donbas, under its control, also insists on having its own exclusive sphere of influence. Obviously it overlooks or insists its power guarantees such position. There is no international rule under which states can expect or insist on spheres of influence. A state obviously can demand or force but the accepted, non-aggressive and rewarding way is through diplomatic, cultural and economic relations. States can influence or try to influence but there is no accepted right.

French President Emmanuel Macron placed first in the 2nd round of the presidential election while his chief opponent of the extreme right, nationalist, anti-immigration and anti-EU party, Ms. Marine Le Pen came in second with 5.5 million fewer votes. His standing, authority and influence are threatened by what in France is called “the 3rd round,” i.e., the outcome of the two-round election of the 577-seat National Assembly on 12 and 19 June. To add weight to the challenge, four left-wing parties, led by the Socialist Party (PS) and supported by Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV), agreed on 4 May to form an anti-Macron coalition.

April 2022

 

Sanctions imposed on Russian oligarchs hoping they would pressure President Vladimir Putin to end his war against Ukraine obviously inconvenience them, even make them suffer, but the measure has little effect. It reveals that the originators, mainly inside the White House, are misreading Russia. Power, not money, drives the president and those who share his views. Using this tool also shows the different American view, of a country with a capitalist system, that money solves everything. Nyet, ne b Rossii!

 Jamaica may soon become a republic, according to The Age. It may follow the recent example of Barbados which ended the rule of the British monarch and became fully independent.

March 2022

 

Russia continues waging war against Ukraine, causing growing number of civilian casualties and destruction of non-military buildings. At month’s end unconditional talks between the two governments failed to bring a cease-fire or the withdrawal of Russian forces. On the last day of the month, the president formally applied for Ukraine to become a member of the European Union (EU). While the Russian president threatened several times that Ukraine joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was the ‘red line,’ insiders and observers were certain that the president really wants to keep Ukraine out of the EU. 

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres found that the world now is worse than five years ago at the beginning of his second term, he told Associated Press in an interview on 20 January. His priorities of wanting to prevent conflict, deal with inequalities, the COVID-19 pandemic, and global warming have not changed, he repeated. But he says that the continuing pandemic, the climate crisis, and geopolitical tensions and conflicts everywhere are leaving the world worse off, reported AP.

February 2022

The cold winter - After President John F. Kennedy was threatened with war by the Soviet Premier  on 4 June 1961 in Vienna, he reacted to him by predicting “It will be a cold winter.” It appears the same is true now although for different reasons. Invasion of Ukraine or partial intrusion by Russian military forces remains possible while European, United States and Russian diplomats are continuing their talks. Little is said publicly that miscalculation or inability to pull back from aggressive military moves could lead to the use of a nuclear weapon with devastating results in Russia and/or the United States.

 Numerous theories and views are circulating about President Vladimir Putin’s  reasons and plans for unleashing his demands for permanently barring Ukraine and Georgia from NATO membership [Dec. 2021, p. 10451] and now a request that NATO forces be removed from Bulgaria and Romania. Meanwhile the Turkish want-to-be major player president is injecting himself as a mediator while there is the real danger that China might exploit the situation in Europe for moving against Taiwan.

January 2022

 

 

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