In the United Kingdom’s recent history, few government publications have been as keenly awaited as the Scottish government’s “White Paper” on independence – that is, a document outlining the case for Scotland stepping out on its own on the world stage. Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, who favors independence, has said it will “resonate down the ages.” His deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, has promised Scottish voters that it will “answer all your questions.”
Israel, Saudi Arabia, and some of the other ArabGulf states are deeply sceptical of the Barack Obama administration’s efforts to reach a deal with Iran limiting its nuclear programme and to improve US-Iranian relations generally.
Washington’s traditional Middle Eastern allies warn that the Islamic Republic cannot be trusted, and that Washington must not reach a deal with Iran that either fails to adequately limit Iranian nuclear ambitions, or which Tehran has no intention of abiding by even if it does.
Is there a culture gap between Finland and the United States? Do Finnish and American world views differ? Who will lead the group? These are questions which will need to be answered quickly in a fast-moving globalised scenario.
In business, Finns and Americans share many common goals and ideas. Business is based on punctuality, solid figures, proven techniques, pragmatic reasoning, and technical competence. Both peoples are low context, preferring to gather information from established sources. Common sense and reliability are expected and usually demonstrated. Americans find their own frankness, self-reliance and tenacity mirrored in the Finnish psyche. Finns, like Americans, believe that all are created equal; any form of snobbery or pulling rank is abhorrent. Informality of discourse, egalitarian address, and a minimum of protocol typify Finnish/American meetings. Humor can play an important part in cementing empathy.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has brought Israelis and Palestinians to the peace table. But are they any closer to peace?
Direct talks were launched in Washington under Kerry’s auspices at the end of July. The parties are now meeting on a weekly basis, alternately in Jerusalem and Jericho. Talks cover a full range of issues, including Jerusalem, borders, security arrangements, Israeli settlements, and refugees.
IT’S ONE thing to win a battle. It’s quite another to win the war. It’s the difference between tactical agility and strategic forethought.
ACCORDING to the way the Obama administration chooses to measure things, it’s making significant strides in the “War on Terror.” Its inability either to acknowledge or manage the negative outcomes of its tactical successes, however, has both immediate and long-term consequences.
You could easily conclude from newspaper headlines that China is determined to flex its muscles in the Asia-Pacific region, even to the extent of challenging the United States’ traditional hegemony. Alarming reports about China’s increasingly belligerent stance in its long-simmering sovereignty dispute with Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, which could potentially draw the United States into a regional conflict, are but a recent example of what is broadly perceived to be a Chinese push for superpower status.
The shutdown of the American government put on the table what could be the plausible scenarios if the US would lose the strong global influence it currently holds.
IN HIS 2007 bestseller The World Without US, journalist Alan Weisman describes a planet that regenerates itself after the disappearance of human beings. Skyscrapers crumble and bridges collapse into rivers, but the primeval forests take over and the buffalo return to roam.
Leadership issues in integration
IN 1998, when the impending merger of Daimler Benz and Chrysler was announced, it heralded the biggest cross-border industrial merger ever. The rationale was obvious. Chrysler was perennially third in the Detroit Big Three. It struggled to maintain its productivity and world ranking; Daimler-Benz – more prestigious and dynamic, was essentially a specialist producer of premium saloons and had made few efforts to widen its product range and customer base.
IT WILL soon be three years since Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit vendor in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, stood outside the local governor’s office, doused himself in lighter fluid, and lit himself on fire. Bouazizi’s public self-immolation triggered the so-called Arab Spring, unleashing pent-up popular unrest that subsequently toppled authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, helped trigger a civil war in Syria, and sent seismic waves rippling through much of the Arab world.
There has been a barrage of opinion pieces attempting to explain what happened in Egypt on July 3, most of which present a rather superficial and simplistic analysis. One of the most common explanations, for instance, is that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi – and, by extension, his Muslim Brotherhood backers – decided to abandon democratic principles and make a deal with the army that ultimately backfired on them. The reality is much more complex than that.
In August 2012, Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, replaced the senior military leadership of the Mubarak era with a younger generation of generals. Cynics interpreted this as a sign that Morsi had cut a deal with the military that would allow him to pursue a more dictatorial Islamist agenda, and that would allow the military to retain its corrupt and historic stranglehold on Egyptian society.
A project as ambitious and idealistic as the European Union is bound to attract its share of skeptics, and many have pounced on the economic woes of the past several years as proof of their doubts. While we cannot deny the depth and complexity of the current crisis, we should acknowledge that important institutional changes are on the way, and that such reforms will lead to a stronger union. That said, the eurozone remains fragile, and attempts to restore confidence and stability are still underway.