The linking of women’s rights to national security became a defining feature of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as US Secretary of State. The core of what became known as the “Hillary Doctrine” can best be described as follows: when women are given equal rights “nations are more stable and secure,” while when they are not, national instability “is almost certain.” Clinton additionally argued that the subjugation of women was “a threat to the common security of our world and to the national security of [the United States].” Or to break this second assertion down further, states that deny rights to women and tacitly accept violence against them tend to be more fragile, politically divided and economically underdeveloped, which means they then pose greater threats to international security, due to the increased terrorism and internal conflict that they invariably invite upon themselves and others. Well, as powerful as these claims may be, are they actually true? To be fair, Clinton’s claims have undeniably advanced the interests of women and girls around the world, but one can argue that by blending policy with advocacy, they have proven to be politically influential, but also too broad and inaccurate to facilitate the development of reliable government policies. » More
The world is in extraordinary turmoil — a violent Islamic Caliphate overturning the borders of Syria and Iraq; a war in Europe pitting Russia and pro-Russian rebels against the new regime in Ukraine; Israel invading Gaza and trading rocket exchanges with Hamas; Egypt, Libya and Yemen disrupted by the Arab uprisings; confrontations among Japan, China, Vietnam and the Philippines in the South and East China Seas; and gang wars in Central America driving thousands of young families and children across borders. Worse yet, Europe is caught up in its own internal squabbles, leaving the U.S. without the full support of its most powerful and reliable allies in dealing with these crises. » More
The BRICS countries met for their sixth annual summit in Brazil this month, setting out to establish a counterweight to Western-dominated global financial institutions.
The summit’s key achievement was the establishment of the long-awaited BRICS New Development Bank. The bank will press for a bigger say in the global financial order — which is centred on the IMF and the World Bank. While China won the race for the bank’s headquarters, set to be located in Shanghai, India secured the presidency. The bank is a sign of the growing influence of the BRICS which together account for 18 per cent of world trade, 40 per cent of the global population and a combined GDP of US$24 trillion. » More
Whatever its leaders say, France is once again caught up in the latest spiral of violence involving Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. This was made clear by the clashes that took place between protesters and the police on 19-20 July 2014 in Paris and Sarcelles after pro-Palestinian marches were banned. Since the confrontation resumed and Israel launched its Protective Edge offensive on 8 July against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed. Meanwhile, the Élysée has striven, against the odds, to prevent the conflict from being imported into France, in spite of the visibility of the issue and the fact that it is explosive enough to divide the French more than any other regional or global crisis. Since early July, peaceful marches and militant demonstrations – some pro-Palestinian, some pro-Israeli – have each been attended by thousands of people.
What is behind this enduring French passion for a conflict that is on the face of it distant, foreign, and complex? What domestic tensions and fractures does it really reflect? » More
South Africa has big plans to expand its involvement in Africa. To implement these, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, has a vision and a 400-page Defence Review to guide her in developing the capabilities of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to match the national, regional and continental role envisaged by cabinet and the Presidency. Yet she will need support and additional funds: quite a lot of it too, judging by the recommendations in the review. » More