The ‘Straitjacket’ of the American Presidency

In the presidential debates between the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, Barack Obama, and that of the Republican Party, John McCain, the Middle East and South Asia stand out prominently.  The four issues of discussion are: America’s continued presence in Iraq, relations with Israel, dealing with Iran, and the future modalities of American actions in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  However, regarding the Middle East more than about South Asia, American presidential candidates are required to wear a straitjacket that prevents them from taking bold actions once they win the presidency.  However, as in the context of every rule, there are exceptions in this one also.  Former President Jimmy Carter was an exception, for he succeeded in getting out of that straitjacket as President and presided over the conclusion of the Camp David Agreements in 1979.  No American President since was able to take off that straitjacket and accomplish a similar outcome, even though President Bill Clinton tried toward the end of his second term.


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The Clash of Religious Versus Secular “Tolatarianisms”

The French depiction of a Muslim woman’s practice of her faith as “religious totalitarianism” is clashing with France’s own practice of “secular totalitarianism.”  There is no other way to describe it.  The case in point is a female immigrant of Algerian background, Faiza Silmi.  Her “crime” is her incapacity to assimilate into France.  She was denied French citizenship “on the ground that her ‘radical’ practice of Islam was incompatible with French values like equality of the sexes.”  This is the first time that citizenship in France has been denied on religious grounds, the apparent allegation being that an applicant is close to “fundamentalist groups.”  It should be noted that this allegation is in violation of religious freedom that is guaranteed in the French constitution. Continue reading “The Clash of Religious Versus Secular “Tolatarianisms””

The New Global Crisis Requires A Major Revamping of the Global Power Structure

If the 1990s and the first eight years of the first decade of the 21st Century represented an era when transnational terrorism dominated world attention, the remainder of this decade and the next one promise to be a period of a new global crisis, which might be even more obdurate than fighting global terrorism.  Robert Zoelick, President of the World Bank, described this era as marked by the “double-jeopardy of food and fuel prices,” which will defy solution.  These issues will also make a number of countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America favorite places for the mushrooming of drug cartels, transnational crimes, small arms trade, and even terrorism.  The search for solutions for this new crisis might require a radical reconfiguring of global decisionmaking structures, an issue on which major powers must reflect with utmost seriousness.


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