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Showing posts from November 28, 2013

US Sends B-52s to China’s Air Defence Zone

By John Chan

- "WSWS" - In a deliberately provocative move, the US announced yesterday that two B-52 strategic bombers conducted a training mission over the disputed Senkaku Islands (known as Diaoyu in China) in the East China Sea, just days after Beijing declared an “air defence identification zone” (ADIZ) covering the area.

The Pentagon’s claim that it was a routine planned mission lacks any credibility. The overflight was clearly designed to challenge China, in line with US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel’s statement that the US Air Force would simply ignore the Chinese rules in the zone.

The two B-52 bombers, which are designed to carry nuclear bombs and nuclear cruise missiles, flew from and returned to Guam, the key US base in the Pacific. The flight was aimed at sending an intimidating message to Beijing that the US would support Japan in a war against China over the Senkakus. In his statement, Hagel also reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the US-Japan Security Treaty.

I…

France Makes Virtue out of Vice to Exploit Central Africa Chaos

By Finian Cunningham

November 28, 2013 - "Forcefulness seems to come easily to Mr Hollande abroad", noted one commentator for the New York Times, who contrasted the French president’s ailing political performance at home with his robust foreign policy.

Where Francois Hollande looks weak and beleaguered on the national stage, registering as the most unpopular French president ever, his fortunes seem to rise abroad with a strident interventionist foreign policy. We saw that in September when the French president unseated the British as America’s "special friend" by declaring his country’s readiness to join Washington in a military assault on Syria.

Elysée Palace may have subsequently regretted that particular gung-ho gambit after US President Barack Obama got cold feet and eventually backed away from military action in Syria, leaving Paris looking like a tin soldier.

Nevertheless, we saw in Hollande’s Syria stance a man who appears more decisive and confident when it c…

The Eastern Orthodox Church

Previously one church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church split in 1054 when the patriarch of Constantinople was excommunicated from the Catholic Church and theological differences broke the church in two. Heralded as the Great Schism (which is different from the schism between Catholicism and Protestantism), this event would create the separate Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church is divided by jurisdiction into regional churches such as the Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Greek or Serbian Orthodox churches. Each regional church under the Eastern Orthodox faith has its own patriarch. Starting in the 15th century, when the Ottomans ruled southeastern Europe, the Russian Orthodox Patriarchy in Moscow rose in importance because unlike the other Orthodox churches, it was not under Ottoman rule. The Moscow Patriarchy called itself the "Third Rome," and Russia has since been the largest Orthodox country in the world.

A Right-Wing Party Rises in Slovakia

A Slovak ballot box in Bratislava on Nov. 9. The second round of regional elections took place Nov. 23. (SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


One of Slovakia's eight administrative regions, Banska Bystrica, will soon be governed by a far-right nationalist. On Nov. 24, Marian Kotleba, the candidate for the People's Party-Our Slovakia, won 55 percent of the vote in a runoff election after having received roughly 21 percent in the first round. While moderates still dominate Slovak politics, far-right parties are becoming an acceptable political alternative in the country -- a trend that can be seen elsewhere in Europe.

Analysis


Kotleba has been involved in far-right politics for at least a decade. In 2005, he created the far-right Slovak Togetherness-National Party (also known as the Slovak Congregation), which had pronounced anti-Roma and anti-Semitic rhetoric. It also had a strong anti-globalization platform, as evidenced by its opposition to Slovakia's membership in NATO…

Low Expectations at the Eastern Partnership Summit

Pro-European demonstrators, angered at Russia's perceived meddling in Ukraine's attempts to strengthen ties with the EU, protest in the Western city of Lviv, Nov. 27. (YURIY DYACHYSHYN/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The European Union will hold a summit of the Eastern Partnership, its flagship program to build closer ties with former Soviet states in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan), in Vilnius on Nov. 28-29. The highly anticipated summit was expected to make significant progress with a number of its target states, but the past few months have seen intensified competition between the European Union and Russia over the Eastern Partnership states.

Moscow's notable gains over Brussels, particularly in Ukraine and Armenia, have greatly tempered expectations over what can be achieved at the summit. Various obstacles, including Russian opposition, EU divisions and the domestic political constraints of the target states themse…