The “Emotional” Amoral Egoism of States

A man and the world. Image: Truthout.org/Flickr

This article was originally published by The Montréal Review in May 2015.

Introduction

In 1812 Napoleon Bonaparte, at the heights of his power, set out for the most adventurous, and ultimately fatal, military campaign. Napoleon’s Grand Army of over 500,000 men, the largest force ever mobilized to that date, was led to the lands of Russia. Historians have long investigated the misjudgements of this campaign and the question of hubris emerges as an underlying factor for Napoleon’s vehemence to pursue a disastrous campaign. Hubris is exaggerated pride, often combined with arrogance. Excessive confidence and reassurance, inspired from his established conquests and grandiosity, further inflated by narcissism, led Napoleon to conduct a military campaign that could be allegedly classified as irrational because it took place against the backdrop of a series of warnings and unfavorable forecasts from his lieutenants. The motivations for setting to conquer Czar Alexander’s Russia were less driven by the geopolitical necessity of defeating a rival power as by the impetus “to satisfy a hubris-infected personality” and an insatiable “hunger (…) for applause from others”. » More

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Climate Financing Must Impact Locally

Globe in water

Drowning Earth. Image: Andrea Della Adriano/flickr

This article was originally published by the Danish Institute for International Studies on 1 December, 2015.

In Vietnam, the rainy and dry seasons are increasingly unpredictable. Such climate changes have a greater impact in Vietnam than, for example, in Denmark. Many in Vietnam live off the production of rice and other crops, and their livelihoods are dependent on fixed seasons.

Local governments are actively trying to address such changes and resulting challenges with more accurate seasonal forecasts, different crop varieties and more effective water management. However, they are often limited by shortage of funds. This is just one of many examples illustrating both the need for securing adaptation in poorer countries and local governments’ key role in implementing adaptation. » More

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Today’s Energy Security Risks: Complacency, Uncertainty, and Ideology

Burning Oil Well. Image: LCpl. Dick Kotecki/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Atlantic Council on 3 December, 2015.

At the 2015 Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit in Istanbul, twenty-one Ministers and senior officials from Europe, Asia, North America, and the Middle East met to assess the changing geopolitics of energy security. The assembly was a reminder that energy security — the ability of a nation to secure affordable, reliable, and sustainable supplies to maintain national power — is very different for each nation.

It was clear that advances in technology — in oil and gas, and renewables — have changed the geopolitics of energy dramatically, and mostly for the better, from the world of 2008 or even 2011. We have moved from an era of resource scarcity to abundance, from a concentration of resources to ubiquity of access, and from monopoly power in oil and gas to gas on gas competition in Europe. There is now a clear de-linkage of oil and gas pricing, more hub pricing and a growing spot market in LNG. Floating LNG and containerized shipping are enabling lower cost and quicker access of nations to gas, helping them move away from coal.  US shale, with huge resources, low extraction costs, and rapid drilling times may help put a ceiling on the price of oil.  Changes in wind, solar, and energy efficiency technology have driven down the cost of renewables in many countries, making them cost competitive with coal or gas in many cases. » More

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Armenia: Church, State Joining Forces Against Western Religious Groups?

St. Hripsime church, one of Armenia’s oldest churches. Image: Travis K. Witt/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by EurasiaNet.Org on 24 November, 2015.

As Armenia readies for a controversial December 6 referendum, public attention has tended to focus on proposed constitutional amendments that would alter the country’s political system. But another, less discussed amendment is generating concern among some who question whether the country’s religious minorities, often deemed purveyors of “perverse” Western values, could suffer.

Wariness of so-called “sects” — a euphemism for primarily evangelical Christian denominations, including Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses — has long existed in Armenia. The state-financed Armenian Apostolic Church, believed to be the world’s oldest Christian institution, is widely seen as a major pillar of national identity.

Currently, the constitution provides for church-state separation. Constitutional amendments proposed by a commission working under President Serzh Sargsyan’s office would provide for freedom of religion and ban religious discrimination, yet article 41 stipulates that such freedom could be restricted “with the aim of protecting state security, the public order, health and morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.” » More

Reconcilable Differences? Rethinking NATO’s Strategy

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Image: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Centre for International Policy Studies on 16 November, 2015.

NATO has just announced that it will soon put forward proposals for a new “southern strategy,” in response to growing instability in the Middle East and Russia’s growing military presence south of the Bosphorus. According to the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, the strategy will include a range of measures, such as enhanced surveillance in the Mediterranean by allied forces, the use of NATO troops in advisory roles in crisis-affected countries across North Africa and the Middle East, and reinforced permanent NATO military deployments in the region. » More

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