Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Financial Crisis: has the world changed?

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1929.jpgThere are moments when tectonic plates shift and history changes course.

Sometimes those shifts are barely perceptible — the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War One but also bred German resentment and the rise of Nazism; the Yalta conference that helped create the United Nations as a guardian of peace but also led to the Iron Curtain that divided Europe for nearly half a century; and the Great Depression (arguably the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century, says Martin Wolf).

It is only when we look back we see the world has changed.

Are we at such a point now? 

John Gray in The Observer speaks of a shattering moment in America’s fall from power. Germany’s Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck has said the United States has lost its financial superpower status. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said we need to rebuild the whole financial system from scratch, as they did at Bretton Woods. The Telegraph called for a ‘better capitalism’.

What of its status in other areas, of diplomacy, defence and its lead role in NATO? Can an inward looking United States commit to billions of dollars to rescue its financial system and at the same time commit ever more money to military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and elsewhere?

There is a widely held view that September, 11, 2001 changed the world. Will the effects of 2008′s financial crisis prove even more profound?

Poland to Russia: Please keep the nuke threats to a minimum

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sikorsky1.jpgPolish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski would appreciate it if Russia would stop threatening his country with nuclear annihilation — or at least limit its threats to once a month.

“It is not a friendly thing to do, and we have asked them to do it no more than once a month. But as the Atlantic alliance we have nukes too,” Sikorski told an audience at Columbia University this week.

Axis of rejection? U.S., Iran, North Korea snub nuclear test ban pact

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Pakistan's nuclear-capable Hatf 4 (Shaheen-1) missile during a test launch 

There is a saying in English that people are judged by the company they keep. If this  applied to countries, the United States would not fare well when it comes to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
 
Although Washington signed the pact, which would ban all nuclear tests if it ever comes into force, in 1996, U.S. lawmakers have never ratified it. Eight other countries with nuclear activities must ratify the treaty before it can enter into force.
 
Those other hold-out countries are China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and Pakistan. Two of those — Iran and North Korea — are members of a trio which U.S. President George W. Bush once referred to as the “axis of evil.”
 
Iraq, which was a member of Bush’s axis of evil until the U.S. invasion in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, signed the treaty last month, though Iraqi parliament has yet to ratify it.
 
The treaty opened for signatures 12 years ago. Since then, 179 nations have signed and 144 ratified it. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno Ugarte told a news conference on the  sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York that “these nine countries must not hold the international community at bay.” 
 
Ugarte was one of some 40 foreign ministers who issued a joint statement calling on the United States, Iran, North Korea and the rest to ratify the treaty. 
 
Even veteran Hollywood Actor Michael Douglas, a U.N. messenger of peace, appeared at the United Nations in support of the CTBT alongside former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and the Costa Rican, Australian and Austrian foreign ministers. 

Michael Douglas
 
When the United States signed the treaty in 1996, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was in charge, but the then-Republican-majority U.S. Senate rejected it in 1999. When Bush took office in 2001 his administration made clear it did not want its options limited by such a treaty and never resubmitted it.  It has has, however, continued to observe the U.S. moratorium on nuclear testing that began in 1992.
 
Perry, who was in Clinton’s cabinet when Washington signed the CTBT in 1996, made it clear that he supports Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who Perry expects will push the U.S. legislature to ratify the treaty if he becomes president. Even Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, Perry said, might make a U-turn from the Bush administration on this issue in an attempt to reingratiate Washington with allies overseas.
 
Some analysts have said that if the United States fails to ratifies the treaty, it will most likely die. 
 
What do you think? Should the next U.S. president push for ratification of the treaty banning all nuclear tests or would it be better to keep the door open to research on new and improved atomic weapons in the interest of keeping the United States and its allies safe?

Tsunami of anger over financial crisis

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bush.jpg Today’s European edition of the International Herald Tribune is fronted by a photo montage of the presidents of Senegal, Afghanistan, Bolivia, Argentina, France and Brazil.

They have two things in common – all are attending this week’s United Nations General Assembly in New York and all see a global threat from the financial crisis that began on Wall Street and, in the words of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo of the Philippines, has moved “like a terrible tsunami around the globe”.

The Russians are coming — Caribbean Crisis redux?

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The 19,000-ton nuclear-powered cruiser “Peter the Great” is seen in this June 2003 file photo. Russia said on Monday it would send a heavily-armed nuclear-powered cruiser to the Caribbean for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first major manoeuvres on the United States’ doorstep since the Cold War. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Monday that the naval mission to Venezuela would include the nuclear-powered battle cruiser “Peter the Great”, one of the world’s largest combat battleships. REUTERS/Stringer (RUSSIA)The thought of Russian warships cruising the waters of the Caribbean instinctively revives memories of such Cold War episodes as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Russia is sending a heavily armed nuclear-powered cruiser and other ships, aircraft and troops for a joint naval exercise with Venezuela, its first big manoeuvres in the United States’ self-declared backyard since the end of the Cold War.

Is the American dream over for Georgia and Ukraine?

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Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili (L) welcomes his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko as he arrives for the GUAM summit in the Black Sea city of Batumi July 1, 2008When thousands in the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kiev and the Georgian capital Tbilisi overthrew Soviet-style rulers, many felt warm in the embrace of the West.

Western support for the opposition — open and behind the scenes –  helped many people overcome fear of Soviet-style reprisals to stand for days outside Georgia’s parliament in 2003 or to pitch orange tents on Kiev’s main thoroughfare in late 2004, providing a lasting image of “people power” overthrowing a stale leadership.

Bush: With friends like these…

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President Bush and Prime Minister Putin in Beijing/Aug 8/Larry DowningHe tried to build relationships with other world leaders but where did it get him?

In 2001 President George W. Bush famously declared that he had looked into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eyes and got a sense of his soul. He invited the Russian leader to his parents’ seaside estate
in Kennebunkport, Maine, where the former Texas oilman and ex-KGB spy went fishing and ate lobster. Bush then visited the Russian leader at his vacation villa in the Black Sea resort in Sochi, all to repair a friendship that had developed cracks.

Saakashvili’s media onslaught: Is he losing the war?

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saakashvili.jpgEver since Russia launched a massive counter-offensive in response to Georgia’s attempt to retake the pro-Russian, breakaway region of South Ossetia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has been omnipresent in Western media. He has appeared on CBS, CNN, BBC and pretty much every other English-language TV channel to accuse Russia of penetrating Georgia far beyond Ossetia, planning an assault on the capital and plotting his overthrow. 

On Aug 11 he wrote an opinion column in the Wall Street Journal warning Georgia’s fall would mean the fall of the West.

Can the Caucasus flames be controlled?

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ossetia.jpgThe Caucasus tinderbox is alight again. How far will the flames spread this time and what can the outside world – the United States, the European Union, NATO – do to extinguish them?

The strategic significance of this mountainous region stretches back through history.

Cold War reheated as U.S. and Russia duke it out over Georgia

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Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin

The temperature at the United Nations Security Council hasn’t been this high in years — and it’s not because the U.N. management raised the thermostat slightly to cut electricity costs. It’s due to the heated exchange of insults and accusations between Russia and the United States, which has reached a fever pitch reminiscent of the Cold War years.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad accused Russia on Sunday of using the Georgian incursion into Georgia’s breakaway enclave of South Ossetia as an excuse for a massive military assault against its tiny pro-Western neighbor whose ultimate goal is “regime change” in Tbilisi. He also assailed Moscow for waging a “campaign of terror” against the civilian population of Georgia, a former Soviet republic.

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