POLITICS

The worldwide excitation around Macon’s personality, his reform and communication skills make us almost forget that populism has not disappeared in France, neither in Europe yet. 

Since last French elections in 2017, Marine LePen and her Front National are in disarray. After having lost against Macron during the presidential elections, she only secured eight parliamentary seats. Nevertheless, there is still a global appeal of nativist populism: as Steve Bannon reminded us during his speech at the national FN congress in Lille: identity politics have not disappeared. Macron’s work to erase far right populism is not over yet, his recent victory needs to be tempered.

The current situation of a brand-new politician’s class, trying to completely change the way of governing and doing politics meanwhile being threatened by identical issues and increasing populism is not new.

In 1869, William Jennings Bryan was the democratic populist candidate and already defended the little person, forgotten by the elite of a country: the east-coast capitalists. So does LePen: targeting a population that felt totally forgotten by its elite, claiming for more national protection measures to secure its people. Back in 1901 in the United States, Bryan lost the presidential elections and Theodore Roosevelt, a young 42-year-old cavalry officer, won with a progressive program. To see off the populist ground, he decided to regulate the negative externalities of capitalism by bringing social reforms.

This situation echoes Macron’s election last year. Macron is 39 years old, described as a progressive politician, blowing up the traditional French political landscape to clean up inefficient policies, responding to populism by introducing market friendly measures and reforming the public sector towards globalization and competition. Both Macron and Roosevelt have similarities. They both were educated at the elite institutions in their respective country (Havard and Ecole Nationale d’Administration) and both have developed an advanced passion for philosophy and literature. Macron’s speech at the Sorbonne reminds Roosevelt’s in 1910; both showed their desire to restore national confidence in the capacity of the whole nation to compete within the globalization.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of differences also between the former American cavalry officer and current French president. Roosevelt served as an officer, creating his Progressive Party only after leaving his presidency, whereas Macron worked in the private sector for the Rothschild bank and built his party En Marche as a vehicle to access presidential functions.

Macron currently responds to the populism menace by putting in place market friendly measures and negotiating alongside unions and employers. He is currently trying to impose new rules to preserve French economical interests while preserving the free market inside the European Union. Nonetheless, is a market friendly policy a good strategy to respond to populism and so assuage voter’s fears? If yes, Macron will teach a new lesson to America on how to response to populism

China launched the Gaofen-6 earth observation satellite on June 2. It was launched using a Long March 2D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite launch center. This marks the 276th mission of Long March 2D. It will be used for agricultural resource research and disaster monitoring.

This satellite is part of the Gaofen satellites already in orbit. This is a family of remote sensing satellites.

Sina, a major share holder in Weibo plans to have a secondary listing in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It is already listed in NASDAQ.

This comes after Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Market the show runners at The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited decided to loosen norms to attract mainland Chinese tech firms. Shanghai and Shenzhen based stock exchanges have also been trying to lure the same companies using Chinese Depository Receipts. According to Chinese securities regulator: China Securities Regulatory Commission’s norms only Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and JingDong are eligible for the depository receipts.

 

Seeking Arrangement an American dating platform with a twist might face regulatory restrictions in China. This portal has seen rapid growth in the Chinese market. However its ability to connect couples for financial reasons is something that has been frowned upon.

In the last one month the Taiwan (Republic of China) government lost two diplomatic allies Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso. With this Taiwan is left with eighteen diplomatic allies in the world. The list can be found here

On May 25, the Taiwanese military flew its jets close to PLA Airforce bombers carrying out a drill close to Taiwan.

The diplomatic lives of these two leaders are somewhat neatly separated by the Second World War and the accompanying international order. They never met personally, although a series of letters which Smuts called ‘paper bombs’ passed between them after the UN Resolution of 1946. When Jan Smuts died and the Cambridge University chancellorship fell vacant, Nehru was the leading choice. However, Nehru did not contest and withdrew because he thought it would be looked upon unfavorably in India.

Their personal biographies have much in common: both were Cambridge-educated lawyers who returned home to immerse themselves in their respective struggles for freedom from British rule, and both were central to the negotiated transitions that followed. These two nation-builders, both scorned by critics at home for being more concerned about international affairs than domestic politics, made defining contributions to world affairs and emerged as world statesmen cut from the finest cloth. Drawn towards the Fabian ideas of English politics, both were often criticized at home for being ‘too English’. Yet, they were Fabians of their respective times.

Smuts was a pre-Second World War politician whose views on race were quite consistent with the mainstream liberal thinking within the Empire. The interwar period of international politics may be remembered for its lofty but misplaced ideals, such as World Government, but there is – even now – little scrutiny of the racism that passed as common sense among white intellectual, supposedly progressive elites. The idea of World Government – the liberal utopia of the times – was as much a racist idea, for ‘uncivilized’ non-Europeans were to be governed through mandates and colonial trusteeship. In contrast, Nehru embodied the post-Second World War moral order of political and racial egalitarianism thrust upon the white world by the decolonized nations. Judged according to the world they lived in and made, Smuts was the most important liberal statesman from the non-Western white world in the post-First World War era, while Nehru emerged as the distinctive liberal statesman of the colored peoples of the world in the post-Second World War era. Just as Smuts was a champion of the decolonizing white world, Nehru spoke as the voice of the decolonizing colored world. Smuts was the brain behind the Wilsonian moment in world politics; Nehru was at the heart of the Bandung moment.  Smuts’ ‘romance of the veld’ and Nehru’s ‘revolt against the west’ were both crucial in decentering the international, albeit with different moral, racial and geopolitical consequences.

One can even find strong resonances between Smutsian pan- Africanism and Nehru’s pan-Asianism. From his first public speech in 1895, pan-Africanism appeared in Smuts’ speeches time and again. While more often than not his schemes for Africa were imperialist, towards the latter part of his life he denounced any notions of a ‘United States of Africa’ and a ‘Monroe Doctrine for this continent’ as utopia. Relatively secure of the white rule in the continent by now, in a speech in April 1940 he had suitably modified his pan-Africanism to being an idea about a socially and economically integrated continent.  Likewise, Nehru, although sufficiently circumspect about any ideas of a pan-Asian federation that Indian nationalists had started advancing from the early 1920s, organized the Asian Relations Conference in 1947, the first ever conference of Asian leaders. Nehru’s pan-Asianism was imagined more in terms of an alternative world order. Asia, for him, could emerge as an ‘area of peace’, comprising countries outside bloc politics. Finally, if Smuts imagined the British Commonwealth of Nations as the most apt representation of his holism, Nehru went a step further and imagined ‘One World’. Both, in some ways, cautioned against arriving too early at a conception of evil within the liberal paradigm. Smuts sympathized with a defeated Germany after the First World War and Nehru pushed for a more sympathetic consideration of communist countries such as the USSR and China. In their own ways, they engineered ideas that were subversive in one context but terribly imperialist in another. For every South-West Africa that Smuts was not willing to sacrifice for his idealism, Nehru had his Kashmirs.

An instructive example of this is their approach to the Commonwealth and how each engineered subversive shifts in the understanding of this institution. When Smuts first articulated his idea of the British Commonwealth in the mid-1910s, it was proposed against the idea of a unitary colonial state – Imperial Federation – in circulation at the time. Smuts’ idea of a British Commonwealth was more of a spiritual unity under the British Crown within which the dominions and India would enjoy relative autonomy (even in foreign policy). The autonomy of the dominions and India was important for Smuts, and the Commonwealth developed along these lines after the First World War. However, for Smuts, two institutions were central to the idea of the Commonwealth: the British monarchy and the imperial conferences.

This understanding of the Commonwealth was first challenged by Nehru and India’s independence.  In the decolonizing Commonwealth, both the monarchy and the control of Britain were seen as signifiers of a colonial past. For Nehru, the Commonwealth was not a spiritual Empire, as Smuts had argued, but an organization for the people, united by a common history and liberal values. He redefined the Commonwealth by doing away with the physical hegemony of Britain, while retaining its intellectual and moral hegemony. In his last days, Smuts regretted this change and was deeply critical of India remaining in the Commonwealth despite being a republic.

Towards the end of their lives both looked like misfits in the world they helped make. Smuts’ liberalism was past its sell-by date, as he increasingly faced jibes of being a hypocrite at the UN in 1946. He never visited the UN again. Likewise, Nehru’s proclamations of a human rights-based world order were contrasted against his government’s violent actions in Kashmir, Hyderabad, Goa and Nagaland. Two years before his death, Nehru received a rude shock that his visions of a new world order, based on what the Australian scholar Priya Chacko calls Nehru’s theory of friendship, were hopelessly unrealistic. He never recovered from military defeat at the hands of China in 1962 and died a dejected man.

The worlds and worldviews of Jan Smuts and Jawaharlal Nehru were separated by what Du Bois called a ‘color line’. The global visions of Smuts and Nehru were informed by two opposite racial imaginings of liberalism. But within the liberal framework, Nehru also plays the role of Smuts’ successor as one who makes liberalism racially and politically inclusive but is also constantly troubled by the sometimes hypocritical nature of his own actions

David İmoisi, originally from Nigeria, is currently studying international relations at Yakin Dogu Universitesi in Cyprus. His interests revolve around international politics and diplomacy.

As the world anxiously looked forward to the historic moment of a diplomatic deal between Washington and Pyongyang in Singapore by June 12 this year, the president of US, Donald Trump made a diplomatic stopgap in his letter where he momentarily called off the summit. He said in the letter which he dictated and dated May 24, 2018 and addressed to the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, that “We were informed that the meeting was requested by North Korea, but that to us is totally irrelevant. I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel like it is inappropriate at this time to have this long-planned summit.”

There is high propensity to take the decision to call off the summit as nothing unusual  judging from other recent diplomatic deals Trump’s administration backtracked from or caused to fall through but constructivism as a theory of international relations requires us to look at the social construction of reality, and question what is frequently taken for granted.

The White House, before the abrupt turn of event, had primed preparation for the epochal diplomatic meeting with the minting of dozens of commemorative coins embossed with the words “peace talk” and headshots of Trump and Kim. This is preponderant to accentuate and justify Trump’s reference to himself in recent weeks as a candidate for Nobel Peace Prize. Analyzing the reasons why the peace talk hit the wall through the lens of constructivism presupposes that we explore the logic of consequence and appropriateness behind the action of the two leaders.

Constructivism is about human consciousness and its role in international life. It emphasizes the role of collectively held idea such as knowledge, language, symbols and rules.

Washington and the Logic of Consequence and Appropriateness

The logic of consequence attributes action to the anticipated costs and benefits mindful that other actors are doing the same. The logic of appropriateness, however, highlights how actors are rule-following, worrying about whether their actions are legitimate. The legitimacy of action here is determined by the way it is viewed in the society.

Implicit in Trump’s letter is the perception that North Korea was not reciprocating the commitment the US had shown towards the summit which reminds one of the similar claim that US was making a greater concession which plagued and frustrated former president Bill Clinton’s earlier efforts. Trump expressed this citing the “tremendous anger” and open hostility from Pyongyang. The lack of commitment as some of the officials of the White House explained include failure to show up when the US sent an advance team to Singapore, inability to verify North Korea’s claim that it destroyed its nuclear testing site which was done without inviting nuclear experts, and objection to routine annual military exercise. The last straw was the slamming of the US vice president, Mike Pence by one of the aide’s of Kim who referred to him as a political dummy over his statement that North Korea will go the way of Libya if both sides fail to agree to a deal.

There has been a longstanding mistrust between North Korea and US since the early days US discovered the secret nuclear project at Yongbyon through its satellite. The republicans have never considered diplomatic negotiation as the appropriate action to make North Korea give up its nuclear programme thereby vehemently opposed to the efforts of Clinton in the 1990s to build two plants for the North Korea with light fuel, in place of uranium. North Korea also failed to keep its side of the agreement and went ahead with producing uranium. The relations between the two countries deteriorated further with former president George Bush designating North Korea as one of the “axis of evil” in the post September 11.

There are those in the US who posited  that certain matters in the diplomatic negotiation between the two countries needed to be done with high confidentiality till there was substantial agreement as a complete pack, to sell at home. Ilan Goldenberg for example made a prognosis that the deal with the North Korea might be scuttled in a similar way the leaking of sensitive negotiation positions to about 52 million followers of the President on twitter hamstringed the US  trade negotiation with China.

“The Libyan Model”, North Korea and the Logic of Consequence and Appropriateness

Constructivists contend that not only material elements such as level of armament that matter in international relations but also non-material elements such as language, idea and symbol. The allusion to Libya by the US vice president and how it was interpreted by North Korea provide a good instance for this. The late Libyan leader, Muammer Gaddafi was persuaded by the  Bush administration to give up his secret nuclear program in 2003 only to be deposed eight years later and beaten to death by rebels backed by NATO forces. The “Libyan Model”, to Pyongyang, therefore signified a threat of regime change and capitulation. Although the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo tried to clarify that the concept was only misconstrued and rather meant the process used by the Bush administration in 2003-2004 to make Libya totally denuclearize and welcome it into the international community, North Korea had every reason to think otherwise.

Possible Way Forward

Positively, Donald Trump did not rule out the possibility of reconsidering the summit in his letter, giving room for addressing salient issues raised. He concluded saying, “The world and North Korea in particular, has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.” It could be argued that no opportunity is lost yet.

Other parties to the negotiation such as Japan and South Korea have a great role to play. Also, rather than suggesting that China may be meddling with the diplomatic efforts and disinviting her from military exercises, it will give more assurance to North Korea to have her ally as part of the negotiation process. The two countries need to relieve the world of the incessant threats of nuclear war. As Ilan Gudenberg rightly observed, high-stake diplomatic negotiations are difficult and domestic politics apply additional pressure. But, if you do not do the very simple, basic things right such as ensuring the negotiation teams are on the same page, ensuring some level of secrecy while simultaneously building domestic support , there is no way you will even get close to an international breakthrough.

Kamal Ololade Ahmed is a postgraduate student at the Nigerian Defence Academy where he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Defence and Strategic Studies.

 

If we are eager to start a revolution every injustice becomes a reason. But in all our activism, let us also remember that there are no pure malignant evil people. So let our activism be directed at institutions, and not at individuals.

There is a part in every man that seeks to be guided to truth, to see a better world and an inclination to abandon own malignity. Many of our attempts to reform society are resisted or fall on deaf ears because we didn’t bring to them our authentic side. People despise our extemporaneous activism; so they go on to reject the ‘truth’ because it comes from us. They don’t hear us when speak with gags, exaggeration and fanaticism.

Activist or not, we are all radicals in certain mood. We are all better than our pretense, but it is our resistance to our true nature that robs us off our manhood and the power to reform. We lose authenticity because we never want to upset any that cheered us once. We tie ourselves with friendly chains of intellectual prostitution for few cheap praises and empty affections. To be praised and flattered; gliding ghostlike with thin masquerades – we go on skulking and pretending.

In every part of society, we still see a beam of optimism and fresh breaths of idealism – all making claims to know the best path for the rest of humanity. We are quick to stand for a thought or an idea, for new terminologies and trends – but how many of us are ready to pay the full price to realize these aspirations?

Also are pessimistic reformers – they loom over to cast shadows of doubt to foretell our destruction. With malaise and resentment, they warn us all of the impending calamities. They see no hope and no salvation for the natio unless we follow their dictates. But how does one makes activism out of doom saying?

With new spirit of protest, all are eager to declare their discontent of the conventional. Some blame government for causing all our troubles. Some can only drag in the President to rest on him all the troubles of the society. Others argue it’s the selfish or mischievous opposition leaders. Some blame it on the wickedness of ‘tribalism’, and the ‘ignorance’ of the masses.

Each reformer defies the other’s dictates like gang of kings trying to rule over one kingdom. All are proposing new projects and remedies for the salvation of the nation.

Constant – is a sincere protestation against existing evils and social injustices. Many are moved by moral conscience and want of a better and a more just society. But behind every sincere protester, quickly follows a copycat protester or a brainless underling to add plenty of vapory, hypocrisy and backsliding in our every discourse.

Every protest is still noble if it is the dictate of man’s conscience and moral beatitude – even where the perception is flawed. What is honest and original is always elegant. Solitary resistance and honest dissent is always noble. But all protests will turn vain, dull and suspicious when it is adopted for a cheap popularity.

My highest appreciation goes to the reformers calling for reform of our education system. Many students now graduate with a bag of wind, memory of words and are indoctrinated to seek out a master through their employment. Practical knowledge is rarely taught; common sense that’s not backed by theoretical speculations is rejected. Students are given these theories and philosophical dictates they could never learn to apply in practical life. Mathematics, the mother of all sciences is only taught and seen as a theoretical oppression of the analytically disadvantaged – instead of the universal language and the practical philosophy of life that it is.

We learn foreign languages through high school but couldn’t recall a word in those same languages two years after graduating. In our social studies, we memorize bunch of dates and names of the old that has zero relevance to the practical life of the man today. Still, we are told Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Very little is done to develop our intuitive faculties and students are forced to expend all their energies into useless memorization without any practical use for them in our real lives. We are taught at school that to try and fail makes one a failure, and without a certificate no amount of essential knowledge is useful. We are diminished of our true proportion and full use of common sense after we finished our formal education. Is like warfare against common sense and program to train us to serve the ‘new masters’.

Unfortunately, the push for reform in our education is abysmal. It is in political activism that our brute nature is aroused. Some of us are passionate to talk about the lies and misgivings of the government, whilst others eagerly talk about the lies and the malaise of the opposition. All seem to forget about the lies and deceptions of the common man – from whom all these lies proceed. In advancing to rid darkness, all bring along their own forms of darkness through their dogmatism but call it the ‘ultimate light’. We see with only one eye. The eye that pleases our whims!

The chaos in our activism often rises out of moral and intellectual deficiency; when the ambition to change society is outmatched by the capacity of the activists. So they employ insults and lies to guile these weaknesses instead of refining their own latent forces. When the going gets tough, some are afraid to scale or ascend because they are terrified of falling. We are afraid to help anyone whose light we assume will dim ours.

Nevertheless, this keen scrutiny of government, political and social institutions proved benefit in keeping government and institutions more responsive.

The general purpose of great many of our activists remain to be good and noble; always working on course; paid or unpaid, seen or unseen and never wasting a day on triumphing. They are always too busy working in the fields. Their only reward is to have their work done well!

Those that change the world came to it with their whole nature and hid little from our senses. They came to us with certain gravity, making even their simplest gestures look terrific! These folks don’t wait for society to choose their place for them. They act with moral courage to bring society the way – a promise of a better tomorrow.

To all these activists and reformers – I salute you.

 

Jamal Drammeh

Guatemala and Israel’s friendship goes back a long way. Guatemala was one of the first countries to recognize Israel as a sovereign state; Israel supported Guatemala’s first steps in the U.N. and was an ally to the Guatemalan government during the three-decade-long civil war, and specifically during a very critical moment for the Central American country in the 1970s when Jimmy Carter’s administration sentenced a military blockage. 

 

Despite the harsh violations of human rights done by the Guatemalan Armed Forces during the civil war, without Israel’s provision of weapons, Guatemala’s story today could have been very different if the communist guerrilla had taken control.

Guatemala opening an embassy in Jerusalem just one day after the U.S. is not only an act of consistency between the Israel-Guatemala diplomatic relations, but also another act from a seemingly ‘desperate to be liked by Trump’ Jimmy Morales.

Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was an idea of his, but a proposal Ambassador David Friedman had put on the table before even being selected as the Head of the Diplomatic Mission. Morales was the first Head of State following the decision back in December 2017, and Trump congratulated him personally during meetings held in early February.

Vladimir Putin was again, confirmed as the Russian government’s leader on March 18th with 77% of the ballot. After many years, it seems that Putin is the only man capable to maintain Russia’s unity and international impact on the world’s major conflicts.

The heir of Yelstin came in charge 18 years ago and never lost power since. During the past 18 years, Putin had really never been concerned about losing Russia’s leadership.  Nevertheless, the most important seems to be its future as Mr. Putin cannot legally run again for president in 2024. The already established Russian elite is starting jockeying for the next vacant position. Putin could eventually run again for president by claiming a constitutional change. His current nationalist actions to rebuild the ancient powerful and respected Russia in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria are perceived as popular among the Russians, as the country gains international respect and leadership. Despite weak economic results, Putin is still a popular president and could use that popularity to claim the constitutional change.

However, there is a rising elite silently growing in Russia, under Putin’s government. Six of Russia’s 85 governors are under 40 and young technocrats are installed in the Kremlin or in other ministries. This new generation of leaders was installed by Putin himself, which could be the first step of preparing his next retirement for 2024, but still keep high influence on his followers. Should that scenario occur, the lack of democratic institutions to peacefully transfer Putin’s power to a future president is a danger for the of Russia’s stability.

The West could have an important part to play in the after-Putin process. In the past, the West undermined the military might and ex-Soviet Union economic, cultural and moral appeal. The West could carry on punishing Putin for his international rights violations and unfair economic behaviors and meanwhile protecting the upcoming Russian elite. But the West lost lots of its reputation, especially with the delusion of Brexit and Donald Trump. Recently, Donald Trump touched one of Russia’s internal weaknesses by congratulating Vladimir Putin for his reelection and therefore frustrating young Russians wishing to rise for 2024.

The main cause of Putin’s constancy as president is his ability to maintain order and be respected in such a big country, with lots of different populations. The new generation, even though well trained to govern, will be faced with key challenges at the same time: fighting Russia’s corruption; keeping the unity of Russia and rebuilding a strong economy.

Lately Cuba has faced a serious, almost unbelievable change: Raul Castro, brother of more famous Fidel Castro, announced a start of the elections to the presidency of the Council of State, meaning that people could choose the second person of power after Raul himself, since he officially remains the First Secretary of Cuban Communist Party until 2021, as he claims. This position was taken up by Raul’s First Deputy in the State Council and Government, Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez, the first President of Cuba to be born after the Cuban Revolution of 1953-1959.

Undoubtedly, the newly elected Head of State is absolutely faithful to the principles of the revolution, otherwise he wouldn’t have earned Castro’s trust. Still, we can already see that his rule is about to bring changes to the habitual state structure of Cuba. In this article you will see, what tendencies have come along with the Castro family, and what are analysts’ forecasts for island’s future.

Fidel Castro’s reforms

First thing we should consider when talking about Castro’s regime is that he didn’t let the opposition act. He established a great amount of revolutionary field courts whose duty was to prosecute the opposition representatives, especially those who strongly supported Batista, the former Cuban ruler which was overthrown during the revolution. He even conducted demonstrative executions in Havana and provinces. He also closed and banned lost of casinos and brothels owned and held by American mafia.

Second thing is the agricultural revolution. Castro realized that Cuba has very fertile soil, which has much more potential than it was used for. He started a process of industrialized farming development, 40% of the lands went to the state sector, whereas all the rest went to peasants. At the same time 90% of private enterprises were nationalized.

These and many other actions prevented the US from influencing Cuba. US government realized that Cuba’s new administration is about to stay for a long time, so they attempted to exert pressure on Castro and his family by entering quotas on sugar purchase. This was just the beginning of an impending economic blockade.

At the same time Cuba’s relationships with USSR were getting stronger than ever. In 1960 they signed a loan agreement for Cuba, equivalent to 100 million US dollars. Why did the Soviet Union need it? Only to exert even more pressure on USA. They immediately started to supply military equipment to the island, ostensibly to help Cubans repulse potential attacks from the US, but in reality, with their own intentions. This sooner led to the famous Cuban Missile Crisis, being the tensest moment in the Cold War.

From the economic point of view, Castro took actions in favor of industrialization, concentrated in the hands of the State. With the help of USSR, Cuba quickly obtained all the required equipment, oil and loans, while selling sugar, nickel, tobacco and rum back to the Soviets. By the 1970s Cuba reached economic stability, increasing their GDP to 4% per year. Metallurgy and light industry developed, the unemployment rate fell to a historically low level. In 1976 a Constitution was adopted, finally fixing the communist way of State government.

What should Cubans expect from Diaz-Canel

Analysts believe that new Head of State will follow a course of moderate market reforms that Raul started. Still, despite the statement of Cuba’s new government on GDP growth of 1.5% per year, the UN economic commission for Latin American countries and in the Caribbean, the real growth was of 0.5%.

In any case, any process that is about to occur will not be a big surprise for the population, since all his actions are yet strictly controlled by Raul and his entourage. However, US couldn’t stay aside of this situation. The Helms-Burton Act of 1996 included a point where it is stated that one of the demands for the economic blockage annulment was Castro family’s abandonment of power. Three weeks ago, the US representative in the UN raised a question of restarting the US-Cuba economic relationships. However, two days later, on Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, which was ignored both by Donald Trump and Raul Castro, US Vice-President Mike Pence returned to the traditional criticism of Cuba, pointing out the violation of Human Rights in Cuba.

To sum up, looks like the tendency of USA’s pressure on Cuban government is far from the end. This adds additional severe conditions for Diaz-Canel’s administrations, while increasing the population’s expectations. The closest crucial moment to happen is Raul’s total resignation in 2021, again, as he claims. From that moment he will have to fulfill those expectations while being considered a totally independent leader of possibly successful independent State of Cuba. We will see where it will lead us to.

 

M.I.G. studies International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 

With increased violence and instability in the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Turkish foreign policy has been a hot topic in international media and forums. Over the last two years, Turkey’s role in regional politics has come under increased scrutiny, especially in association with the activity of another resurgent power, Russia. Both Russia and Turkey, whose elites share so many similarities in perspective and their approach to the outside world, act united in their resolution to put their bilateral relations on a firm and strategically coherent foundation.

Conditions for deeper cooperation are ripe as never before. Both powers enjoy ambivalent relations with Western partners. Moreover, both Turkey and Russia have attempted to diversify their foreign relations since the end of the Cold War and move away from what they see to be a cumbersome dependence on Europe.  Against this background, the concept of ‘Eurasianism’ has long been viewed as an ideational platform that can further cement Russian-Turkish ties and can create an effective drive for a civilizational alliance capable of resisting Western pressure.

After the end of bipolar global confrontation in the early 1990s, Turkey and Russia discovered in each other prospective partners in many areas, especially trade, tourism, construction and energy projects. However, it was only with the establishment of the High-Level Cooperation Council in May 2010 that Ankara and Moscow could finally overcome their residual mutual mistrust and could approach each other regarding more strategic issues expanding upon their experience within the Eurasian political space.

Statements made by Turkish and Russian officials may serve as proof that both sides are considering expanding bilateral ties into multilateral cooperation focused on Eurasian integration projects. In November 2013, during the bilateral High-Level Cooperation Council meeting, Turkish Prime-Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed the idea of Turkey entering the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and free trade agreements with Eurasian countries as a way to rebalance its’ unsuccessful accession talks with the European Union.  Signals to this effect were later repeatedly sent even after the 2015 downing of a Russian Su-24 jet by Turkish forces. In August 2017, after having gained no progress over renewals of terms with the European Union Customs Union (EUCU), Turkish officials once again pointed at the possibility of Turkey seeking alternatives in Eurasian integration projects, such as the Eurasian Customs Union that unites the markets of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

Even though, one may speculate that many statements made by Turkish officials in their essence remain mere rhetoric, there are instances where the Turkish government has undertaken practical steps to boost closer economic ties with Eurasian countries. Since 2008, Turkey began implementing a number of projects, mainly infrastructural, such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway. Such projects aim to lay the groundwork for the wider integration of the Turkish economy in trade projects with China and Central Asian republics, within the framework of the One Belt One Road Initiative. Meanwhile,  Moscow tends to make statements that both criticize Western political dominance while singling out Turkey as a non-Western power that would be suitable for cooperation and participation in ostensibly Russian-led initiatives.

Historic perspective

The trend to push bilateral relations into a more ideologically refined, Eurasianist framework may have a historical rationale. Both Turkey and Russia share the experience of an imperial history and the related nostalgia for past glories.  After the collapse of their perspective imperial polities, the political process of Russia and Turkey has been defined by efforts of their national elites to modernize and carry out reforms that would enable them to compete with European, and later Western powers, on equal terms. While each country followed a different trajectory, such remedial modernization projects carried out in both Russia and Turkey may have contributed to convergence between Moscow and Ankara during the 20th century, despite the fierce ideological confrontation between them.

In the 1920s, Turkey and the Soviet Union considered each other perfect partners to overcome dangerous isolation of their newly established political regimes by European powers and the United States. The psychological burden of the Treaty of Rapallo and the Treaty of Sevres later played a decisive role in Ankara’s attempts to seek the cooperation and solidarity of Moscow when its own ties with America soured. In 1984, with Cold War hostility waning, Turkey and the Soviet Union managed to forge a very sophisticated goods-for-gas agreement.  This marked a firm beginning for deeper economic cooperation.

But it is not only a common historical legacy and a similar path of modernization, but also common contemporary challenges that today push Turkey and Russia closer. The geopolitical shifts of the post-Cold War order put tremendous pressure on the security and foreign policy of both powers. With the stabilization of national economies in Russia and Turkey in the latter part of the 1990s, both endeavored to expand their footprint in their close geographical neighborhood, in regions where a historical and cultural legacy would facilitate their penetration. The 21st century activism of these new rising powers has caused some political circles to believe that the old world is waning under the rising influence of new Eurasian powers like Russia, Turkey, China and others.

A further force that brought Turkey and Russia together was the expansion of democratic freedoms in both countries during the 1990s, and then a decline of democratization efforts and an eventual drift toward authoritarianism in the 2010s. Today, political regimes in Turkey and Russia can best be described as hybrid regimes. They have competitive authoritarian features with ostensibly functioning democratic institutions. While the ruling party or leader exerts pressure and control on the opposition via informal channels, there has not been a slide into outright authoritarianism which would be neither internationally acceptable nor productive under conditions where national economies depend on the outside world.

Problems with democratic process, the rule of law, human rights and freedom has long been drawing criticism from Europe and the United States. The underlying logic behind Western attempts to anchor democratic rule in Turkey and Russia may be expressed by a desire to see more predictable, cooperative and ideologically friendly regimes that would further contribute to promotion of these norms and values in their adjacent regions: the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, Western attempts to secure democratic achievements of the previous years and to support civil society are regarded by ruling political elites today as a direct intrusion in domestic affairs, which represents yet another foreign policy challenge uniting Turkey and Russia.

Under these conditions, circles led in Russia by Alexander Dugin and by Doğu Perinçek in Turkey are being bestowed by the benevolence of their rulers, who are eager to talk about a common idea that would unite Russian and Turkish activism for the sake of their better and firmer resistance to the Western attempts to ostensibly subdue these nations. Roots of the Eurasian ideology go back to the early 20th century, when Russian intellectuals tried to redefine the roots of state crisis within the Russian Empire and to assess the results of the Bolshevik revolution that gave rise to the new geopolitical colossus, the Soviet Union. Eurasianists came to the conclusion that Russia represents not a nation, but a civilization that unites all local nations in the vast territories of Eurasia. In its essence this ideology was a reformulated tradition of Russian Slavic nationalism.

Today’s Eurasianism

Today (neo)-Eurasianism tends to describe the efforts of states to develop an indigenous framework of cooperation, usually as an alternative to the dominance of Western capitalism. Russian and Turkish official circles tend to credit Eurasianism as a practical ideological framework for mutual cooperation for several crucial reasons. First of all, by saying that all versions of national democracies have the right to existence, Eurasianists in essence emphasize the idea of sovereignty and vehemently reject interference into domestic affairs. Besides, Eurasianists’ focus on existing alternatives to the Western values and norms of international conduct add legitimacy to Russian and Turkish criticism of Western partners and, on a rhetorical level, improve their negotiating positions in talks over terms of future dialogue with the West.

But looking into the real world manifestation of the Eurasianist narrative reveals serious gaps. The tendency to ascribe Eurasianism as a driving force behind rapprochement seems to be a myth. Alternatively, it doesn’t seem to be a reliable driving force of bilateral ties that are loaded with hidden competition in the Central Asia, Black Sea, Caucasus and Syria. Moreover, advocates of Eurasianism in Turkey and Russia understand the term to mean different things. For Russian Eurasianists, Eurasianism entails an ideology that today is called upon to legitimize the Russian presence in its neighbourhood. Meanwhile, for Turkish Eurasianists the term tends to mean a foreign policy strategy that is focused on developing effective tools against Western pressure. Finally, Eurasian rhetoric serves the purpose of masking the transactional and situational character of bilateral relations, evidenced by the S-400 deal and cooperation in Syria.

While Russian and Turkish officials show a desire to talk about the underlying ideological foundation of the rapprochement, it is nevertheless evident that both countries are more inclined to advance ties with the Western world. The volume of trade between Turkey and the European Union in 2016 was at the level of US $145 billion, while Russian-Turkish trade hit a mark of US $21.6 billion in 2017. An unbalanced trade structure (with Russian energy exports enjoying better positions) and economic relations force Turkey and Russia talk about bilateral ties in more abstract terms by describing their relations as part of a bigger Eurasian project. Moreover, in cultural terms the population of both states feels more affiliated with Europe than with each other. Both Russia and Turkey each have a large expatriate community in European countries.

Attempts being made by Russia and Turkey to dress bilateral relations in a more rigid ideational framework are understandable. Still, Turkey and Russia can’t build the future of their relations on an anti-Western narrative. Paradoxically, it is their common movement towards the European community that may advance cooperation: historical process of entering the European civilization established better rules of diplomatic conduct while providing guarantees from breaking the law by the other side. Within this movement, each of the two powers feels more secure knowing that they share common ideas and values like the rule of law, democracy and human rights. These commonalities may further increase tolerance to inter-dependence and compromise in critical areas and help Turkey and Russia to overcome, rather than ignore their historical legacy of mistrust.

 

David İmoisi, originally from Nigeria, is currently studying international relations at Yakin Dogu Universitesi in Cyprus. His interests revolve around international politics and diplomacy.

Dans cet article, je veux discuter du rôle que joue le genre dans l’arène scolaire. Il est fréquent de ne regarder que les obstacles auxquels les filles doivent faire face à l’école en raison de la prédominance de l’hétéronormativité dans cet environnement; Néanmoins, je veux aussi me concentrer sur les barrières que les garçons doivent surmonter pour maintenir un comportement masculin s’ils veulent être acceptés. En effet, pour certains hommes qui affichent des attitudes généralement associées aux filles, il peut être difficile d’intégrer l’étiquette établie par l’idée commune de masculinité que l’école tend à imposer.

Tout d’abord, je pense qu’il est important de donner une définition au mot «genre» et de le distinguer du mot «sexe». D’une part, le sexe est le critère biologique, généralement accepté, à travers lequel nous identifions quelqu’un comme un homme ou une femme à sa naissance. Habituellement, les personnes sont classées dans une catégorie de sexe en fonction de leurs critères de sexe, mais il est possible que les deux ne coïncident pas. D’autre part, le genre est la conduite que nous maintenons dans la vie de tous les jours avec des activités, des conceptions normatives et des attitudes préventives appropriées à la catégorie de sexe. La conception du genre est souvent liée à la notion de sexe, et les différences biologiques sont donc associées à des attentes différentes de comportement entre la femme et l’homme. Ces différences ne sont pas essentielles mais elles sont construites par la société.

L’inégalité dans l’éducation est causée par l’hypothèse que ces distinctions sont naturelles et dépendent de la manière dont elles sont gérées. Cependant, ce n’est pas seulement une question de répartition de la justice entre les élèves, mais aussi de pouvoir, de culture, d’opportunités et de gains matériels.

Un type d’école dans lequel les différences dans l’éducation des garçons et des filles sont plus soulignés est l’école non mixte. Dans ce modèle d’éducation, il n’y a pas de possibilité de communication entre garçons et filles ou de chance de travailler ensemble. Le danger en ceci est qu’ils pourraient aboutir à la promotion du sexisme parce que lorsque les hommes et les femmes sont enseignés dans un environnement différent, ils pourraient arriver à la conclusion qu’un sexe est meilleur qu’un autre. Au lieu de cela, la coéducation conduit à un nombre plus important d’expériences pour les étudiants qui peuvent interagir les uns avec les autres et ainsi acquérir une meilleure connaissance des relations sociales.

L’Irlande est le pays d’Europe qui compte le plus grand nombre d’institutions non mixtes. En fait, 42% des étudiants de deuxième cycle y assistent, et la majorité d’entre eux sont des filles. Ce phénomène des institutions ségréguées selon le genre peut être compris à travers une perspective historique, car au XIXe siècle, de nombreuses dénominations sont nées et ont établi ce modèle d’écoles à travers l’Irlande selon le mode de pensée catholique traditionnel.

Certaines féministes ont déclaré que les écoles non mixtes pour les filles sont positives parce que les filles apprennent plus vite que les garçons et que la coéducation pourrait avoir un impact négatif sur la participation et les résultats scolaires des filles. C’est, comme je l’ai déjà mentionné, au cours du XIXe siècle, que ce type d’écoles a été mis en place, répandant la vision catholique traditionnelle des filles comme docile, innocente, polie et «bon goût». Cette influence catholique est toujours présente dans la plupart des écoles de filles modernes et les valeurs telles que la gentillesse et la docilité sont toujours partagées en tant que modèle de conduite.

Dans certaines enquêtes menées dans quatre types différents d’écoles en Irlande, il a été démontré qu’il existait certainement des différences entre les écoles de ces filles en ce qui concerne leur histoire et leurs traditions; En effet, ils étaient tous caractérisés par un contrôle et une surveillance rigoureux du comportement et de l’orientation scolaire dans les domaines social et de bienveillance.

La plupart des filles interrogées se sont plaintes de la limitation de la liberté de leur corps et de l’invasion de la vie privée causée par ces règles. Les enseignants étaient conscients de la résistance des élèves à ces règles, mais en général, ils ne les prenaient pas au sérieux. Au sein de la classe, les enseignants construisaient généralement un climat très stressant, exerçant beaucoup de pression pour obtenir de meilleurs résultats. Le niveau de perturbation était également faible en classe, et les filles devaient travailler dur.

In contrast, the values of single-sex boys’ schools are opposite and focus on strength, agility and power, and they especially applied in the sports activities. Differences are also shown in the extra-curricular activities of these schools and change for boys and girls. Music and arts are considered traditionally more important in girl’s schools while sports are more valued in boy’s schools.

The predominance of “laddish” behaviours in school could also be a hindrance to school performance for some students because they can use it as an excuse for their failure in exams and to show off the fact that they possess the hegemonic characteristics of masculinity. One explanation of this conduct, stated by Jackson, is the self-worth protection theory; which describes this department as a shield from the consequences of a lack of ability and from the implications of being accounted as “feminine”. In fact, creating an excuse for failure allows you to avoid being labelled as “stupid”. Ultimately being a “lad” is associated with doing With not doing feminine ascribed things, hanging out with mates and not working hard, which would ruin the “laddish” image.

Gender differences and also influences the choice of subjects. For example, it is typical for only boys to be suitable for technological subjects and there is a strong differentiation between the number of males and females that decide to take them up. Even where schools reinforce such stereotypes, some girls contest these labels and decide to undertake careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The low representation of girls in technological subjects could be an obstacle to them with the entrance into the job world, because they will lack the particular skills that could be relevant for some specific tasks. The school context has a significant role in the selection of subjects: school may provide specific subjects or not, may frame the choice in a particular area in a “gendered” manner, and the daily interaction between students and teachers, who give a guideline to their pupils, may also influence subject choices. For instance, girls’ schools are less likely to provide technological subjects and offer more choices in humanities.

In conclusion, I think that Kimmel’s statement: “Schools are like old-fashioned factories, and what they produce is gendered individuals, perfectly summarizes the general idea of the heteronormative school environment. Schools, thus appeared to reinforce gender stereotypes instead of promoting the equality among genders and a culture of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation differences. This is the framework in which the students spend most of their time, in which they start interacting with each other and build their identity. The education system is put in charge of the formation of the mentality of future women and men, therefore they should help students in reflecting around the stereotypes created by society and breaking through the barriers created by those labels. Unluckily, it seems that they still work the opposite way, ignoring the existence of these differences, doing little to help the students to understand themselves and reinforcing the strong division between males and females and the stereotypes correlated to them.