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Posts Tagged ‘ Foreign Affairs ’

Crisis Year: International Relations 2014

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In a morose way, 2014 has been a fascinating year for those with an interest in International Relations. Resurgent Russia and Islamic State have presented two prominent challenges to western liberal world order. The optimistic ‘end of history’ liberalism of the 1990’s now feels like a golden bygone era of stability and prosperity. In its place is a world where the hegemonic power of the United States is limited by insurgencies and despotic powers. In the field of international relations, realist scholars have had a long awaited ‘we told you so moment’. John Mearsheimer has ruffled many feathers with his article in Foreign Affairs ‘Why the Crisis in Ukraine is the West’s Fault’. Regardless of how palatable it is, Mearsheimer’s argument is frustratingly robust, and he presents credible counters to his critics. EU and NATO expansion has encroached into a region that Russia considers critical to its own security, and the latter has firmly drawn a line in the sand, violating international treaties and norms in a display of pure power politics. Although Russia is paying a price, it has asserted itself outside of its own borders in a way that the west cannot prevent. It seems that at long last, balancing is occurring, and the ‘rest’ are pushing back against the ‘west’ after a decade of diminishing US legitimacy and soft power. Continue reading

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Some Fights Are Right: Obama’s IS Strategy

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Barack Obama has received criticism for his recent expansion of strikes against IS to include Syria. On the far left are those who object outright to liberal intervention, while on the right of the spectrum Senator Rand Paul labelled him a ‘neo-con’. However despite his perceived hesitancy, Obama’s strategy looks set to hit a sweet spot between reckless and cautious that is grounded in sound principles and is the best reasonable response to the current threat posed by IS.

IS are the closest the 21st century has to the Nazi’s- fundamentally motivated, exceptionally violent and on a quest that is their downfall before it has even begun. Their so called caliphate has no precedent in history. Killing Shia as easily as they behead innocent westerners or massacre Yazidi Iraqis, the group’s strategy is founded on brutality, with no room for any form of tolerance or compromise, to the point where they have drawn condemnation from Al-Qaeda. Mass murder of civilians and trafficking of women for as sex slaves are par for the course with IS . This incarnation of radical Islam is now the richest terrorist organization in history.  It has also shown itself to be a master of cinematic and striking (and ironically western style) media campaigns in a way that Al-Qaeda never was, making it the most hot brand of radical Islam. The stunning videos are a draw for young radicals of fighting age as well as rich benefactors who may be sympathetic to their cause, and is possibly the greatest threat posed by IS. However despite capturing swathes of Iraqi and Syrian cities (and open desert), the groups has united even larger swathes of the world against it through its actions. General consensus already exists. This includes almost every parliament and head of state in the world, as well as mainstream Muslim groups in western countries (see the “Not in my name” campaign if you feel like blaming regular Muslims). Continue reading

Cowen Quits Fianna Fail but remains Taoiseach

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has stepped down as the leader of Fiànna Fàil, just days after passing a vote of confidence within the parliamentary party.

Mr Cowen, has endured one of the most turbulent weeks of his political career since he took over as Taoiseach in 2008. However despite quitting as leader of Fiànna Fàil, he has vowed to stay on as Taoiseach.

He said he felt his continued leadership of the party was distracting from the issues facing Ireland in the run-up to the election.

The prime minister – or Taoiseach – said: “I’m concerned that renewed internal criticism of Fianna Fail is deflecting attention from this important debate.

“Therefore, taking everything into account after discussing the matter with my family I have taken, on my own counsel, the decision to step down.”  

He added: “The government will continue to govern the country.”

The opposition Labour party has tabled a motion of no confidence in the government and there will be a vote on it next week.

Fianna Fail will choose a new leader through an internal party vote next week, Mr Cowen said.

The front-runners to succeed him are Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and  former Minister for Foreign Affairs, who resigned from government earlier this week.  

The shock announcement is the latest twist in the crisis gripping the Irish government.

Mr Cowen last week tried to reshuffle his cabinet .However, the reshuffle backfired spectacularly when it was opposed by the Green party, partners in Fianna Fail’s coalition.

The move further weakened the Taoiseach`s position within his own party and within the government.

The Cabinet Crumbles

Noel Dempsey, Dermot Ahern and Tony Killeen have joined Mary Harney in resigning from Cabinet.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach confirmed that he had received letters of resignation from the three.

The ministers had already announced that they are not to contest the general election.

Their letters are to be forwarded to the President who will formally accept the resignations.

Their resignations bring the number of vacancies in the Cabinet to five, after Taoiseach Brian Cowen pulled the plug on MichaelMartin`s tenure as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Minister for Health Harney was first elected to the dàil in 1981 and served as Tànaiste under Bertie Ahern. She later became Minister for Health but during her time in this position she was far from popular, as overcrowded hospitals and inadequate services saw the public vent their fury.

Many have welcomed her decision to step aside as the Irish healthcare system is in need of an urgent revamp. However even with her resignation she has made many people furious. Many believe that she has resigned as she will get more money from her pension than if she stood for re-election. She leaves with a golden handshake of 310,000.

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