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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In effect – what Ms Napoleoni says is that the Islamic State uses globalization and aim at creating an original Muslim State that is for the Muslim world a parallel to what Israel is to World Jewry – albeit the first stage overlaps the borders of the Caliphate of Baghdad and will claim besides Iraq and Syria also Jordan , Lebanon, and Israel.
Now an ebook – The book will be available in printed form December 2nd, 2014.
 www.sevenstories.com/news/introdu…

Introduction to Loretta Napoleoni’s THE ISLAMIST PHOENIX.

September 8, 2014

The following is the introduction to The Islamist Phoenix, a study of ISIS by Loretta Napoleoni, one of the world’s leading experts on money laundering and the financing of terror. Islamist Phoenix will be available as an ebook in early November, and as a trade paperback on December 2nd.

For the first time since World War One, an armed organization is redesigning the map of the Middle East drawn by the French and the British. Waging a war of conquest, the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (al Sham), or ISIS, is erasing the borders that the Sykes-Picot Accord established in 1916. The region where the black and golden flag of IS flies already stretches from the Mediterranean shores of Syria well into the heart of Iraq, the Sunni tribal area. It is bigger than the United Kingdom or Texas and, since the end of June 2014, is known as the Islamic Caliphate. “Caliphate” is the name given to an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph, or successor to the Prophet Muhammad – the most famous being the Ottoman Caliphate (or Empire), which began in 1453 and lasted until the dissolution of the Caliphate and expulsion of the last caliph, Abdulmecid, at the hands of Kemal Ataturk in 1924.

Many believe that the Islamic State, like al-Qaeda before it, wants to turn back the clock, and indeed in Western media Syrian and Iraqi refugees describe its rule in their countries as a sort of carbon copy of the Taliban regime. Posters forbid smoking and the use of cameras. Women are not allowed to travel without a male relative, must be covered up, and cannot wear trousers in public. The Islamic State seems also engaged in a sort of religious cleansing through proselytism: people must either join its creed, radical Salafism; flee; or face execution.
Al-Baghdadi

Paradoxically, to deem the IS essentially backward would be mistaken. Indeed, during the last few years the belief that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader and the new Caliph, is a clone of Mullah Omar may well have led Western intelligence to undervalue him and his organization’s strength. While the world of the Taliban was limited to Koranic schools and knowledge based upon the writings of the Prophet, globalization and modern technology have been the cradle of the Islamic State.

What distinguishes the Islamic State from all other armed groups that predate it, including those active during the Cold War, and what accounts for its enormous successes, is its modernity and pragmatism. So far its leadership has understood the limitations that contemporary powers face in a globalized and multipolar world – for example, the inability to reach an agreement for foreign intervention in Syria, as happened in Libya and Iraq. Against this backdrop the Islamic State’s leadership has successfully exploited the Syrian conflict, the most recent version of the traditional war by proxy, to its own advantage almost unobserved, drawing funds from a variety of people: Kuwaitis, Qataris, Saudis, who, seeking a regime change in Syria, have been willing to bankroll several armed groups. However, instead of fighting the sponsors’ war by proxy, the Islamic State has used their money to establish its own territorial strongholds in financially strategic regions, for example in the rich oilfields of Eastern Syria. No previous Middle Eastern armed organization has been able to promote itself as the region’s new ruler with the money of its rich Gulf sponsors.

In sharp contrast with the Taliban’s rhetoric and despite the barbarous treatment of the enemy, the Islamic State is spreading a positive and powerful political message in the Muslim world: the return of the Caliphate associated with happier and richer times for Muslims. This message comes at a time of great destabilization in the Middle East, while Syria and Iraq are ablaze, Libya is on the verge of another tribal conflict, Egypt is restive, and Israel has been once again at war with Gaza. Hence, the rebirth of the Caliphate and of its Caliph, al-Baghdadi, appears to many Sunnis not as yet another armed group but somehow as a political entity that is rising from the ashes of decades of war and destruction.

The fact that this Islamist Phoenix materialized on the first day of Ramadan 2014, the holy month of fasting and prayer, should be regarded as a powerful omen of the challenge that the Islamic State poses to the legitimacy of all the 57 countries that follow the Islamic faith. As clearly stated by its spokesman, Abu Mohamed al-Adnani: “the legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the Caliph’s authority and the arrival of his troops to their areas.” This is a challenge posed by a new political organization that, while claiming to trace its legitimacy all the way back to 7th-8th century Arabia and the first territorial manifestations of Islam, comprises a contemporary state and commands a modern army. As such it should not be underestimated, especially if the Islamic State consolidates its territorial conquests.

That the threat is real, and that it is particularly felt by those who share a border with Syria and Iraq, are facts: in July, 2014 the black and golden flag of the Islamic State appeared in Jordanian villages, and in August thousands of IS militants streamed into Lebanon from Syria and took Arsal. Even former sponsors fear the military power of the Caliphate: at the beginning of July, al-Arabiya broadcast that Saudi Arabia had deployed 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq after Iraqi soldiers withdrew from the area.

Under the religious veneer and the terrorist tactics, therefore, lays a political and military machine fully engaged in nation-building, seeking consensus after territorial conquest. Residents of the enclaves controlled by the Caliphate affirm that its arrival coincided with improvements in the day-to-day running of their villages, from fixing holes in the roads to organizing soup kitchens for those who had lost their homes to the daylong availability of electricty.

_76526461_iraq_syria_isis_caliphate_25.07.14_624mapWhile territorially the Islamic State’s master plan is to recreate the ancient Caliphate of Baghdad — an entity that the Mongols destroyed in 1261 and that stretched from the Iraqi capital all the way into modern Israel — its political goal seems to be the shaping of a twenty-first century incarnation. In his first speech as Caliph, al-Baghdadi pledged to return to Muslims the “dignity, might, rights, and leadership” of the past, and at the same time called for doctors, engineers, judges, and experts in Islamic jurisprudence to join him. As he spoke, a team of translators across the world worked almost in real time to release the text of his speech on jihadist websites, facebook and twitter accounts in several languages including English, French, and German.

The Islamic State wants to be for Muslims what Israel is for Jews, a state in their ancient land that they have reclaimed in modern times, a religious and powerful state that protects them wherever they are, something to be proud of. This is a potent message for the disenfranchised Muslim youth who live in the political vacuum created by disturbing factors, such as the corruption and inefficacy of the Free Syrian and Iraqi Army, the Maliki government’s refusal to integrate Sunnis into the fabric of political life, the absence of proper socio-economic infrastructures destroyed during the war, and a high rate of unemployment. It is a powerful message also for those living abroad, the disenfranchised Muslim youth of Europe. No other armed organization has shown such insight and political intuition into the domestic politics of the Middle East and Muslim immigrants’ frustration all over the world, and no other armed organization has adapted to contingent factors, such as the provision of basic socio-economic infrastructures in the territory it controls to succeed at nation-building.

Its leadership has also studied the tactical and structural mistakes of past armed groups as well as their successes, and has put these lessons into a modern context. Like the European armed organizations of the 1960s and 1970s, the Islamic State understands the power of propaganda, of fear at home and abroad, and has been skilfully used social media to propagate sleek videos and images of its barbarous actions. Fear is a much more powerful weapon of conquest than religious lectures, something that al-Qaeda has never understood. Equally, the Islamic State knows that the 24-hour media seeks ever more brutal images, because in a world overloaded with information, extreme violence sells the news: thus the plentiful supply of photos and videos of brutal punishments and tortures uploaded in formats that can be easily watched on mobile phones. Shockingly, in a voyeuristic society, sadism, when appealingly packaged, becomes a major attraction.

The Islamic State has closely analysed the propaganda machine that the US and UK administration employed to justify the preventive strike in Iraq in 2003, in particular the creation of the myth of al Zarqawi which US Secretary of State Colin Powell used on in his speech to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003 to justify the invasion of Iraq. Thanks to an extensive and highly professional use of social media, the Islamic State has propagated equally false mythologies to proselytize, recruit, and raise funds across the Muslim world.

Crucial for the successes of this strategy have been the secrecy and mythology carefully woven around the Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Bagdhadi. Again, in a world overloaded with information, mystery plays a major role in stimulating the collective imagination. The less people know, the more they want to know, and the more they imagine. Give people a few clips and they will complete the picture as they like it. Islam is premised on a certain nostalgia rooted in the return of the Prophet, while the West still fears Islam. Hence the IS is leading Muslims to believe that the Prophet has returned wearing the clothes of al-Baghdadi and at the same time it terrorizes Westerners with shockingly barbarous killings. Modern advertising has constructed a trillion-dollar industry atop these simple concepts. Now the Islamic State propaganda machine is using them to manufacture the myth of al-Baghdadi and his new Caliphate. What’s surprising is our surprise.

Finally, unlike al-Qaeda, the Islamic State is showing pragmatism. It seems to understand that, in the twenty-first century, new nations cannot be built and held together with terror and violence alone. To blossom, they require popular consensus. Hence the IS uses violence and Sharia law together with propaganda distributed over social media and a variety of popular social programmes aimed at improving the living conditions of the Sunni population trapped inside the Caliphate.

If this strategy succeeds, the world will be forced to turn a new leaf in the history of terrorism and nation-building, because the Islamic State will have provided a workable solution to the dilemma of terrorism. This, in a nutshell, is the true challenge that any armed organization poses to the modern state: whether to consider acts of terrorism as a threat to national security or to law and order. This dilemma springs from the ambiguous nature of terrorism: it has military aims – for example, among the goals of the Islamic State are freeing the territories of the old Caliphate of Baghdad from the tyrannical rule of the Shiites and the annexation of Jordan and Israel to recreate its ancient borders – but it employs criminal and barbarous methods like suicide bombings, the crucifixion of its opponents, and the beheading of hostages. Terrorism, therefore, could be defined as a crime with the aims of war. This ambiguity has allowed states to deny members of armed organizations the status of soldiers and enemies, relegating them to the ranks of outlaws even while using armies against them.

If the Islamic State succeeds in building a modern state, one that the world will not be able to ignore, using terrorism to gain territorial control and social and political reforms to secure internal popular consensus, it will prove what all armed organizations have affirmed: that they are not terrorists but enemies engaged in an asymmetrical war to overthrow illegitimate, tyrannical, and corrupted regimes. No matter how barbarous their actions are or have been, their status as threats to national security, as warriors, will be beyond doubt.

As the Islamic State’s war of conquest progresses, it is becoming clear that since 9/11 the business of Islamist terrorism has been getting stronger instead of weaker — to the extent that now it has morphed into a state — by simply keeping abreast with a fast-changing world in which propaganda and technology play an increasingly vital role. The same cannot be said for the forces engaged in stopping it from spreading.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

U.N. Panel Warns of Dire Effects From Lack of Action Over Global Warming

By JUSTIN GILLIS, for the New York Times – November 2, 2014.

COPENHAGEN — The gathering risks of climate change are so profound they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report.

Despite rising efforts in many countries to tackle the problem, the overall global situation is growing more acute as developing countries join the West in burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said here on Sunday.

Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, the mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year.
Continue reading the main story


“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report declared.

In the starkest language it has ever used, the expert panel made clear how far society remains from having any serious policy to limit global warming.

Doing so would require finding a way to leave the vast majority of the world’s reserves of fossil fuels in the ground, or, alternatively, developing methods to capture and bury the emissions resulting from their use, the group said.

If governments are to meet their own stated goal of limiting the warming of the planet to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the pre-industrial level, they must restrict emissions from additional fossil-fuel burning to about 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, the panel said.

At current growth rates, that budget is likely to be exhausted in something like 30 years. Yet energy companies have already booked coal and petroleum reserves equal to several times that amount, and they are spending some $600 billion a year to find more. Utilities and oil companies are still building coal-fired power plants and refineries, and governments are spending another $600 billion directly subsidizing the consumption of fossil fuels. Also, there has been no sign that national leaders are willing to discuss allocating the trillion-ton emissions budget among countries, an approach that would raise political and moral questions of fairness. On the contrary: They are moving toward a relatively weak agreement that would essentially let each country decide for itself how much effort to put into limiting global warming, and even that document would not take effect until 2020. {That is how the NYT evaluates the IPCC V Report.}

“If they choose not to talk about the carbon budget, they’re choosing not to address the problem of climate change,” said Myles R. Allen, a scientist at Oxford University in Britain who helped write the new report. “They might as well not bother to turn up for these meetings.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific body appointed by the world’s governments to advise them on the causes and effects of global warming, and potential solutions. The group was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, along with Al Gore, for its efforts to call attention to the climate crisis.

The new report is a 175-page policy synopsis of a much longer series of reports that the panel has issued over the past year, culminating a five-year effort by the body to summarize a vast archive of published climate research.

It is the fifth such report from the group since 1990, each finding greater certainty that the climate is warming and that human activities are the primary cause.

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, and in global mean sea-level rise; and it is extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the report said.

A core finding of the new report is that climate change is no longer a distant, future threat, but is being felt all over the world already.

“It’s here and now,” said Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chairman of the panel, in an interview. “It’s not something in the future.”

The group cited mass die-offs of forests, including those in the American West; the melting of land ice virtually everywhere in the world; an accelerating rise of the seas that is leading to increased coastal flooding; and heat waves that have devastated crops and killed tens of thousands of people.


The report contained the group’s most explicit warning yet about the food supply, saying that climate change had already become a small drag on overall global production, and could become a far larger one if emissions continued unchecked. The reported noted that in recent years the world’s food system had shown signs of instability, with sudden price increases leading to riots and, in a few cases, the collapse of governments.

A related finding is that climate change poses serious risks to basic human progress in areas such as alleviating poverty. Under the worst-case scenarios, factors like high food prices and intensified weather disasters would most likely leave poor people worse off. In fact, the report said, that has already happened to a degree.

In Washington, the Obama administration welcomed the new report, with the president’s science adviser, John P. Holdren, calling it “yet another wake-up call to the global community that we must act together swiftly and aggressively in order to stem climate change and avoid its worst impacts.”

The administration is pushing for new limits on emissions from American power plants, but faces stiff resistance in Congress and some states.

Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University and a principal author of the new report, said that a continuation of the political paralysis on emissions would leave society depending largely on luck.

If the level of greenhouse gases were to continue rising at a rapid pace over coming decades, severe effects could be headed off only if the climate turned out to be much less sensitive to those gases than most scientists think is likely, he said.

“We’ve seen many governments delay and delay and delay on implementing comprehensive emissions cuts,” Dr. Oppenheimer said. “So the need for a lot of luck looms larger and larger. Personally, I think it’s a slim reed to lean on for the fate of the planet.”

——-

Related in Opinion: Panel’s Latest Warming Warning Misses Global Slumber Party on Energy Research November 2, 2014.

By contrast, the report found, less than $400 billion a year is being spent around the world to reduce emissions or otherwise cope with climate change. That sum is smaller than the revenue of a single American oil company, ExxonMobil.

The new report comes just a month before international delegates convene in Lima, Peru, in an effort to devise a new global treaty or other agreement to limit emissions, and it makes clear the urgency of their task.

Appearing at a news conference in Copenhagen Sunday morning to unveil the report, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, issued an urgent appeal for strong action in Lima: “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message,” Mr. Ban declared. “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”

——-

Further Related Coverage:
Times Topic: Global Warming & Climate Change
Greenland’­s immense ice sheet is melting as a result of climate change.
Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come – MARCH 31, 2014
Gov. Rick Scott, like many in his party, sidesteps climate change by saying he is not a scientist.
Political Memo: Why Republicans Keep Telling Everyone They’re Not Scientists – October 30, 2014
Where in the United States might you find the most protection from future climate change?
Detroit, Miami, Norfolk and Seattle may weather global warming very differently.
Nature in the Balance: On a Warmer Planet, Which Cities Will Be Safest? September 22, 2014

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Lithuania to see energy independence as liquid gas terminal arrives.

Related: Still no Russia gas deal as Europe heads into winter

By Peter Teffer, for the The EUobserver, October 28, 2014


Brussels – A floating liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal arrived at the Lithuanian city Klaipeda on Monday (27 October) where it was greeted by locals as the guarantor of the Baltic region’s energy supply.

The vessel, called The Independence, is expected to reduce the Baltic states’ dependence on Russian gas.

“This is a strategic geopolitical project that may decide the future of the whole region. Lithuania will become an energy-security guarantor for the whole Baltic region”, Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaite said according to media reports.

“From now on, nobody will dictate us the price for gas – or buy our political will,” she said.

More than a third of Lithuania’s energy comes from natural gas. It and its Baltic neighbours have been completely dependent on Russia for their gas supply, due to historical and geographical reasons.

While natural gas is transported via pipelines, liquefied natural gas, or LNG, can be transported by sea. But a country needs a terminal to import LNG.

Lithuania ordered the vessel in 2011, but the Ukrainian crisis, which has seen a bellicose Moscow seek to extend its sphere of influence, means it is arriving at a timely point.

According to the Lithuanian president’s press service, “the Klaipeda LNG terminal can serve and fulfill about 90 percent of the gas supply needs of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia”.

The terminal should be operational before the end of 2014. Lithuanian gas company Litgas has signed a five-year agreement with Norwegian Statoil to import 540 million cubic metres of gas annually from 2015.

The Independence is 294 metres long, 46 metres wide and 26 metres deep.

In a recent ‘stress test’ on the resilience of the European gas system, the European Commission concluded that with the LNG terminal in Klaipeda, the impact of a cut in the supply of Russian gas should be limited.

“Once the Klaipeda LNG terminal enters into operation the supply for the protected customers [all households] would be ensured in the three Baltic States in all scenarios.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The key to nuclear’s future or an element of doubt?

Date: 14-Oct-14
REUTERS – PLANET ARK – October 13, 2014
Author: Geert De Clercq

The key to nuclear’s future or an element of doubt?

Work at the Cadarache CEA (Atomic Energy Authority) site near Saint-Paul-les-Durance, south eastern France, September 26, 2014.


For sodium, the sixth-most abundant element on the planet, is being held up as the key to one of several new types of nuclear reactor being developed as governments grapple with the problem of making atomic energy more environmentally friendly, safe and financially viable.

The 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan effectively brought a global nuclear boom to a halt, but a decade-old research program into new reactors has regained relevance of late.

Quite apart from Germany’s decision to phase out a large slice of its nuclear capacity in the wake of Fukushima, Britain and Belgium have recently switched off several aging reactors over safety concerns while a number of U.S. plants have closed because they can no longer compete with cheap shale gas.

Launched by the United States in 2000, the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) has 13 member countries including China, Russia, France, Japan and Britain, which have whittled down nearly 100 proffered concepts to focus research on six nuclear reactor models.

By far the most advanced of the six is the sodium-cooled fast reactor (SFR), developed by France, Russia and China from a concept pioneered in the United States in the 1950s.

The SFR’s main advantage is that it can burn spent uranium and plutonium. These unwanted byproducts from water-cooled reactors have been piling up for years and the World Nuclear Association estimates stocks at about 1.5 million tonnes.

“We could produce power for several thousands of years with that without getting new natural uranium,” said Christophe Behar, the vice-chairman of GIF.

Behar, also head of research at French nuclear agency CEA, points out that SFRs can also burn up uranium’s most long-lived radioactive waste products, reducing the need for deep storage.

EXPLOSIVE DRAWBACK

Liquid sodium is better than water at evacuating heat from the reactor core and its high boiling point of about 900 degrees Celsius allows SFRs to operate close to atmospheric pressure, negating the need for the thick, steel containment vessels at pressurized water reactors.

But sodium has significant disadvantages, too. On contact with air, it burns; plunged into water, it explodes.

Early SFRs built by France, Russia and Japan have suffered corrosion and sodium leaks. But these were not built to GIF standards and the CEA research facility amid the pine trees in Cadarache, southeast France, is working on how to tame sodium as the agency seeks to convince lawmakers to allow construction of its new Astrid reactor, a 600 megawatt SFR.

The Astrid project was granted a 652 million euro ($823 million) budget in 2010 and a decision on construction is expected around 2019.

The use of sodium, which occurs naturally only as a compound in other minerals, presents huge challenges, however.

Nitrogen-driven turbines are being designed to prevent sodium from mixing with water, while purpose-built electromagnetic pumps are seen as the solution to moving the superheated metal within reactors. Then there’s the headache of not being able to see through the liquid metal should something go wrong in a reactor core.

The other five concepts – including lead and helium-cooled fast neutron reactors and three very-high-temperature reactors – are less mature than the SFR and face similar technological hurdles.

But technology is not the only obstacle. Cost is key, as ever, and abundant U.S. shale gas and a renewables energy boom in Europe have undermined the viability of the nuclear industry, leading some GIF member states, including Japan, Canada and Switzerland, to scale back funding.

SCIENCE FRICTION

Regardless of which, if any, of the new concepts eventually holds sway, the inevitable political wrangling over commercial projects will almost inevitably bring further delays, as with Britain’s 16 billion pound ($26 billion) Hinkley Point C plant to be operated by French utility EDF.

“Between the ambition in the beginning and today’s status, the Generation IV research is not exactly on track,” the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s Thierry Dujardin said.

GIF’s target of having the first prototypes in operation around 2020 has been pushed back to 2030, with the first commercial plants not expected before 2040-2050, but such are the timescales in the nuclear industry.

The group does have some wriggle room, as many of the second-generation reactors built in 1970s and 1980s are expected to run for another decade, while third-generation plants built today by firms such as Areva and Westinghouse are designed to operate for up to 60 years.

Critics of GIF say that France and other nations have been too quick to focus research on the SFR and should have made a more audacious bet on newer technologies, such as the pebble-bed high-temperature reactor or the molten-salt reactor.

“There is not a single really new idea among the 4G models,” said Bernard Laponche, a retired CEA nuclear engineer.

Given sodium’s explosive potential, Laponche argues that the molten-salt reactor, the least developed technology, is the safest of the six models.

“It’s not a windmill, but it’s better than the others,” he said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Reducing Carbon Emissions Would Fuel Global Economy.

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch

11 October 14

Evidence is amassing to discredit those middle-ground politicians who say they think climate change is real but don’t think we should address it because of the steep economic costs.

Two reports issued today by the Climate Policy Institute add to the growing pile of studies showing that moving to clean-energy, low-carbon policies that help mitigate the effects of climate change could actually provide fuel for the economy.

They found that moving to such policies could save the global economy trillions of dollars in the next two decades to invest in economic growth. The reports were commissioned by the New Climate Economy project as part of the research conducted for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

“For policymakers around the world wondering whether the transition to a low-carbon economy will help or hurt their countries’ ability to invest for growth, our analysis clearly demonstrates that, for many, the low-carbon transition is a no-brainer,” said Climate Policy Initiative’s executive director Tom Heller. “It not only reduces climate risks, its benefits are clear and significant.”

“Moving to a Low Carbon Economy: The Financial Impact of the Low-Carbon Transition” juxtaposes the costs of low-carbon electricity and low-carbon transportation system with the costs of the current system. “Moving to a Low Carbon Economy: The Impact of Different Policy Pathways on Fossil Fuel Asset Values” looks at the risk and extent of existing fossil fuel assets’ loss of value (aka asset-stranding), which would limit governments and businesses’ ability to borrow against them to finance growth and investment, including investment in a clean energy technologies.

The reports came to a number of conclusions about the positive economic impacts of shifting to policies that favor clean, renewable energy. They found that since governments worldwide and not private companies control 50-70 percent of oil, gas and coal resources, they also have the power to shape policies that can lead to savings or to asset-stranding. They also concluded that the savings in operational costs from renewable energy as opposed to fossil-fuel energy far outweighs the value of the stranded assets. And they assert that transitioning away from coal would provide the greatest benefits in emissions reductions with the least loss in value.

They also urge reducing the cost of financing renewable energy plants to lower the cost of transition worldwide, implementing a planning approach that includes taxes and innovation, and using gas as a bridge fuel in some regions—particularly China and India—until 2030 but saying gas use would have to decrease after that.

“Our analysis reveals that with the right policy choices, over the next twenty years governments can achieve the emissions reductions necessary for a safer, more stable climate and free up trillions for investment in other parts of the economy,” said Climate Policy Initiative’s senior director David Nelson. “This is even before taking into account the environmental and health benefits of reducing emissions.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

VIENNA CONFERENCE ON THE HUMANITARIAN IMPACT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS. 8-9 December 2014

Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
Logo HINW

Vienna Hofburg Palace, 8 – 9 December 2014

Conference Information:
 www.bmeia.gv.at/en/european-forei…

Draft Program
Registration
UNDP Sponsorship Program
Conference Venue
Tourist Information
Exhibition space


A world without nuclear weapons is a goal shared by all humanity. Yet, so far, it has remained elusive. An estimated 16.300 nuclear weapons still exist nearly 25 years after the end of the cold war. Today, nine states are believed to possess nuclear weapons, but as nuclear technology is becoming more available, more states, and even non-state actors, may strive to develop nuclear weapons in the future.

As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk of their use by design, miscalculation or madness, technical or human error, remains real. Nuclear weapons, therefore, continue to bear an unacceptable risk to humanity and to all life on earth. Any use of nuclear weapons could cause gravest humanitarian emergencies and have catastrophic global consequences on the environment, climate, health, social order, human development and the economy.

A single detonation of a modern nuclear weapon would cause destruction and human suffering on a scale far exceeding the devastation seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. No State or international body would be able to provide adequate assistance. Nuclear weapons continue to pose an existential threat to all humankind. These risks are not abstract. They are real, more serious than previously known and can never be eliminated completely.

In the past few years, a growing number of states and many civil society actors focussed on the humanitarian consequences and risks associated with nuclear weapons through different national, regional and international events and activities. Two international conferences were devoted specifically to this issue; in Oslo, Norway, in March 2013 and Nayarit, Mexico, in February 2014.

This increased focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons is an important development and has a positive and uniting effect on international discussions about nuclear weapons. The more the international community discusses and understands the scale of these consequences and of the risks involved, the clearer the case and the stronger the sense of urgency become for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The government of Austria is proud to host the 3rd international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons which will take place on 8 and 9 December 2014 at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. With this conference, Austria wishes to strengthen the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and to contribute to the growing momentum to firmly anchor the humanitarian imperative in all global efforts dealing with nuclear weapons and nuclear disarmament.

The Vienna Conference will

- be open to all interested parties. All states will receive official invitations and will be invited to nominate experts and/or senior officials. International organizations and civil society representatives with relevant expertise will also be welcome;

- will feature facts based discussions and expert presentations and aims to allow for an interactive debate among participants;

- Will also provide delegations an opportunity for statements of a more general nature;

A limited sponsorship program for LDC participants is forseen.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Wednesday October 1, 2014, after all those UN Member States’ Heads have left New York, the UN was still closed to the NGOs – supposedly for security reasons – the guards say this will hold on until next week – so it will be three weeks without “Civil Society” at the UN except for the handful handpicked by the UN itself. So much if you had any illusion that the UNSG hullabaloo about the enlargement of his entourage to include Civil Society in his deliberations was intended to lead to the new post-2015 world. Oh yes – we posted the harmless poem that was touted as the Civil Society contribution to the deliberations by that handful of participants.

Now we find that Grist publishes the analyses of the pure fact that the UN can in effect not aim at true results, and that it can only at best paint fake blue onto a heavy clouded sky – so please just know that you are being had and understand the reasons why. But also do not give up to despair – this because you are right in what you are fighting for and can rxpect that the truth will break through because it does make even economic sense. If allowed in some countries it will lead to alliances of States so it spreads eventually outside the UN that at best could then be used to bless the results.

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Grist Daily posed 2014,today, October 14 2014, the question – “Is there any hope for international climate talks?”

A binding international treaty with firm emission limits just isn’t happening. Now attention is turning to a bottom-up, “pledge and review” strategy. Can it work?

By David Roberts

I don’t write very often about international climate talks because it’s super-depressing and nothing ever changes. Which I guess characterizes most things I write about, but something about climate talks in particular really drains the spirit. Nonetheless! Let’s take a fresh look at the landscape.

The original idea behind the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks was simple. Climate change is a classic tragedy of the commons. When emitting greenhouse gases, a country gets all the economic benefit but only a tiny fraction of the harm; conversely, when mitigating emissions, a country pays all the cost but receives only a tiny fraction of the benefit. I wrote about this in a recent post and Harvard’s Robert Stavins sums it up nicely in a recent op-ed:

“Greenhouse gases mix globally in the atmosphere, and so damages are spread around the world, regardless of where the gases were emitted. Thus, any country taking action incurs the costs, but the benefits are distributed globally. This presents a classic free-rider problem: It is in the economic self-interest of virtually no country to take unilateral action, and each can reap the benefits of any countries that do act. This is why international cooperation is essential.”

This has always been the logic of UNFCCC talks: burden sharing. Determine the proper way to distribute the load, and then sign a binding treaty to insure that all countries do their appointed part.

The same logic that yields the need for international cooperation, however, has made it virtually impossible to achieve in practice. Turns out national governments don’t like burdens! So the dispute over how to properly divide the burden between developed and developing countries has been as endless as it has been intractable. Early on in the UNFCCC process, developing countries like China and India were effectively exempted from the obligation to reduce emissions. What the U.S. and Europe have wanted ever since is to ditch the (arguably outmoded) developed vs. developing dichotomy, acknowledge that China et al. are going to be major sources of emissions growth this century, and sign a treaty in which all countries, including China, commit to binding targets. China disagrees, as do India and all the other countries that have so far escaped targets.

The result has been stalemate. And despite feverish hopes in the run-up to each new meeting (“last chance!”), nothing has happened to dislodge that dynamic. Yet the 2015 climate negotiations in Paris are supposed to be all about a “binding treaty.” What to do?

In many quarters, a comprehensive, binding treaty with national and global carbon targets is the holy grail. But its pursuit has led to nothing but a cycle of high hopes and crushing disappointment. There is very little hope of such a treaty in Paris, or maybe ever. What’s more, the focus on burden sharing has made the meetings a defensive, angst-ridden affair, everyone blaming everyone else while trying to minimize their own responsibility.

Most of the world’s major emitters agree that collective action on climate change is badly needed. Yet the meetings meant to facilitate such action produced little of it.
Something had to change.

The idea that’s gained traction since the 2009 talks in Copenhagen is that it’s time to abandon the “burden sharing” frame altogether, give up on a binding treaty, and shift to a regime known as “pledge and review,” in which countries pledge specific policies and reductions and agree to have those policies and reductions internationally verified. Rather than being forced to accept a target, every country is simply asked to put on record what it is willing to contribute. Peer pressure and economic competition are supposed to do the rest. This is more or less what came out of Copenhagen, and Durban in 2011, and what will likely come out of Paris in 2015.

Those pledges are unlikely to add up to what’s needed to avoid 2 degrees C of warming, the stated international goal, any time soon. An outfit called Climate Interactive is tracking the pledges and adding them up; so far, they leave us on a path to exceed 4 degrees, which would be a disaster. But as John Podesta told Jeff Goodell (in the latter’s must-read story on China and climate), “If we wait until we have a binding international agreement that actually puts us on track for 2 C, we’ll hit 2 C before we get an agreement. But we have to get started if we hope to get to the destination.” Fred Pearce has a nice rundown of this general line of thinking here. It also finds clear expression in a recent op-ed from retired senators Tim Wirth and Tom Daschle.

Wirth has been working in and around international climate talks for as long as they’ve been going on. When I talked to him about pledge-and-review, he grew most animated when discussing the sheer torpor of the UNFCCC talks. “Everybody’s so depressed by the whole thing,” he said. “It’s a problem, it really is. They need a shot of energy! They need some enthusiasm! They need a new framework! Any time you run into a political dead end, you gotta change the rules. This is a way of changing the rules.”

Wirth says pledge-and-review has a chance of working because the economics have shifted and clean energy investment is increasingly in countries’ self-interest. He cites the recent New Climate Economy research project led by Nicholas Stern. Nations competing to outdo each other in these vast new markets could spark a “race to the top,” a sense of energy and progress that has been sorely missing. “We’re not saying we’re in the best of all possible worlds, by any means,” Wirth said, “but if we do it relatively soon, it’s going to end up being in everyone’s best interests.”

Wirth has a close eye on this November’s APEC meetings, where Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are likely to discuss climate change (among other things). A substantial bilateral agreement on climate would bring momentum into Paris, giving, Wirth laughed, “the U.S. a chance to hide behind China’s skirts and China a chance to hide behind the U.S.’s skirts. That’s important politically.” The U.S. and China being the world’s two largest markets, other countries would be pulled along. “The U.S./China relationship is so much more important than anything else in the world,” Wirth said.

Whatever the prospects of a race to the top, there remains the question of climate justice — what to do about those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, who did little to cause the problem. Wirth points to the Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to transfer money from the developed to the developing world. But the nature of those funds is in hot dispute. In their piece, Wirth and Daschle write:

Finance is the final key to a global deal. At Copenhagen in 2009, the United States memorably pledged that developed countries would mobilize $100 billion a year in climate change assistance for the rest of the world by 2020. At a time of fiscal retrenchment in the West, the chance of that pledge being met in the form of additional development assistance is approximately zero. The pledge is eminently achievable, however, in the context of global energy investment, which has an annual flow a dozen times as large as the amount pledged in Copenhagen.

And when I talked to Wirth, that’s what he emphasized: opportunities to channel private investment money to developing countries. It appears that the climate fund is primarily going to consist in such investments.

But where does this leave the world’s poorest countries and low-lying islands? There’s a lot of adaptation to be done in those areas and not all of it is going to be a profit opportunity. Will the fund end up being just another instance of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism,” wherein wealthy westerners descend on countries reeling from misfortune and treat them as business opportunities to exploit?

The reason climate-justice advocates have always relied on the UNFCCC framework is that it’s the only venue in which the claims of vulnerable nations are guaranteed a hearing. If the meetings become nothing more than a forum for mutually advantageous bilateral and multilateral dealmaking, where is the pressure to do right by the vulnerable, much less any kind of guarantee?

I’ve never heard a good answer to that question. I sure don’t have one. But we return again to an ineluctable fact: The chances of the U.S. Senate ratifying a binding climate treaty are nil. The chances of it ratifying one that is also supported unanimously by all 195 or so countries of the UNFCCC are even niller. So what else is there to do?

“The building blocks approach, bottom up, is the only way to go,” says Wirth. “We’re not going to get a top-down agreement. So you gotta go the other direction.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Almonitor Week in Review
Monday, September 29, 2014

US leverages Iran-Iraq-Syria axis against Islamic State.

[Includes material from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif address at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Sept. 17, 2014]

Last week – we saw US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark to the UN Security Council on Sept. 19 that Iran has a role to play in the coalition against the Islamic State (IS) – “While the Obama administration has ruled out an alliance with Syria, Iran could be a bridge to Damascus within an international coalition against IS and in a subsequent political transition in Syria.”

This week, Reuters, citing unnamed senior Iranian and US officials, reported that the United States had informed Iran in advance of airstrikes against IS forces in Syria and assured Tehran that it would not target Syrian government positions.

Another bridge to Syria and Iran has been Iraq, according to Foreign Policy’s The Cable and The Wall Street Journal. Iraqi national security adviser Faleh al-Fayyad traveled to Syria on Sept. 16 to brief Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the “latest steps taken in this regard, as well as discussing upcoming steps and possible measures to ensure the success of these efforts and eliminate terrorist organizations in all their forms.”

Although the deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, said that Iran’s nuclear negotiating team at the United Nations has no authority to discuss the campaign against IS, as reported by Arash Karami, it is an open secret that US and Iranian officials have been talking about just that on the sidelines of the nuclear talks.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in his remarks at the UN, opened the door to even further collaboration against IS once a nuclear deal is reached, as reported by Barbara Slavin and Laura Rozen.

The United States and Iran cannot formally link arms in Syria, especially given the lack of progress in the nuclear talks. Iran has been an adversary and enemy, not an ally, and still supports and shelters terrorists, according to The Daily Beast.

Nonetheless, the trend to watch is the tentative emergence of what may be a truly regional counterterrorism coalition, with potential for a transformation in regional security, if managed carefully.

This column speculated back in January that the “new pulse” of the Geneva II process would be addressing the threat to counterterrorism in the region, with an essential role for Iran.

The Iran-Iraq-Syria axis provides a sectarian complement to the primarily Sunni Arab powers backing US airstrikes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, after meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on Sept. 21, spoke of “the first page of a new chapter” in Iran-Saudi relations, with consequences for many of the region’s most vexing conflicts.

Iran is in the fight against IS for its own interests, not to cull favor with the United States. Its efforts have won praise from Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, who said at a press conference with Zarif on Aug. 27, “Iran was the first country to provide us with weapons and ammunition” to confront the IS advance toward Erbil.

While Zarif denied that Iran had provided any ground forces in Iraq, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who runs the aerospace division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said this past week that IRGC forces were directly involved in the defense of Erbil, according to The Associated Press.

Iran was instrumental in the peaceful transfer of the premiership from Nouri al-Maliki to Haider al-Abadi in Iraq, and in managing the presidential transition from former President Hamid Karzai to Ashraf Ghani in Afghanistan. Cooperation in Afghanistan may be more urgent than ever, given the recent surge in Taliban violence in that country.

There are alternative perspectives on Iran’s role against IS. For some observers, the prospect of any type of accommodation with Iran is so alarming that they suggest giving a kind of pass to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, which has aligned with other so-called moderate Islamist rebel forces, because of the perceived greater good of toppling Assad, and to assure Iran does not get an advantage in Syria.

Just a quick fact: Al-Qaeda, not Assad or Iran, was responsible for the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and until last year, Jabhat al-Nusra worked hand in hand with IS. The break between the two groups, both of which are designated by the United States and the UN as terrorist organizations, is the result of a power struggle, not a change of heart in either its hatred of the United States or its ambitions to impose Sharia in those areas it controls.

If there are US-backed opposition groups that are aligned with Jabhat al-Nusra and advocating a go-easy approach on the terrorist group, then perhaps the United States should reconsider funding those “moderate” groups. This column warned in December 2013 that the emergence of the Islamic Front among the opposition would be a “disaster for Syria’s opposition and future,” and here we are today with some in the Syrian opposition seeking to mainstream an al-Qaeda affiliate.

This should be a huge, neon warning sign about the perils of playing in opposition politics, where anti-Western jihadists, not pro-US democrats, carry the most sway.

The actions taken by Iran against IS to date contrast with what Turkey has done, or not done, until now against the terrorist group. The release last week of the 46 Turkish citizens held hostage by IS in Iraq may signal a new Turkish approach. Mustafa Akyol reviews polling data that reveals jihadism is a “marginal trend” in Turkish society.

Semih Idiz writes that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will need to overcome some troubling caveats in Turkey’s policies to date against extremist groups and step up against IS:

“It’s also not clear how the ruling Justice and Development Party’s Islamist roots will respond to active participation by Turkey against IS and other such Islamic groups, regardless of how radical they may be. Developments have shown, however, that Turkey is not as influential on its own in the region as it may have once thought, and that it has little choice but to move back to the multilateral track. This means it has no choice but to act with regional and global allies to confront situations that pose a danger to its national security.”

The trend toward a regional counterterrorism strategy is nascent and fragile, but — if managed carefully — has the potential, over time, of a breakthrough in regional politics, especially with a change in Turkish policies.

Despite the political constraints on Rouhani by hard-liners in Iran, his government is already taking its own initiative to battle extremists in the region and clearly signaling it is ready to do more. As Fareed Zakaria wrote this week: “When Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger decided in the 1970s that Iran would be one of their ‘regional policemen,’ they did so out of recognition of Iran’s geostrategic importance, not simply because they supported the shah.”

If Iran, over time, shifts from enemy to ally, beginning with a nuclear agreement and coordination in the fight against terrorism, then many of the region’s most vexing problems, including the role of Hezbollah, can be put in play. This column reported in February: “A discussion with Iran about Syria is a prelude to a broader discussion about Hezbollah, which is at the crux of the US tagging Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism.” That is the conversation that needs to be had during this transition. Given how far the US-Iran dialogue has already come, it is not out of the question to consider the potential of such a trend.

The Arab pulse

The trend toward a possible regional coalition against IS, under US leadership, could be the beginning of the end for the extremist force that, according to the latest US government estimates, number between 20,000 and 31,500.

While the threat of Islamic extremism will never be completely eradicated, there is a pulse among the peoples of the Arab world for a new politics, transparency and accountability from their leaders. The trend toward conflict resolution and good governance in the Middle East is fragile and not assured, but it can take hold if given a chance.

Look at Lebanon. More than two decades after a brutal sectarian civil war, the country today is a vibrant mosaic of its peoples and cultures. The leaders and groups that fought each other for decades now coexist, sometimes uneasily, but coexist nonetheless around a consensus on keeping the peace. It is fragile, for sure, but it is there. Lebanon’s universities maintain their reputation as a magnet for the best and brightest in Lebanon and the region.

Despite these nascent yet hopeful trends, there remains an approach to the region that pins the problems of the Arab world on its alleged “civilizational ills,” implying Arabs have a cultural predisposition to tribalism, corruption and religious violence, as if these phenomena do not exist in other cultures and societies. These culturally driven essays make good copy, especially when written by someone from the region who employs an abundance of “history” and metaphor.

A more helpful, and truly analytical, historical approach to what is indeed a crisis in the Arab region would include an assessment of the effect of colonialism and the postcolonial experience on Arab societies; the impact of oil on the international relations of the region; the consequences of rentier economies in the Gulf; the role of outside, non-Arab powers including the United States, Russia, European countries, Israel, Iran and Turkey on the region’s politics; the impact of the creation of Israel and the Palestinian national movement; the influence of the Wahhabist tradition on current jihadist groups; the role of states, institutions and individuals, in and outside the region, which have backed the flow and emergence of these jihadist movements; and the economic and demographic trends that may shape the Arab region in the decades to come.

Arab civilization is not “sick”; its peoples are in the midst of a struggle for identity and democracy, where the forces of extremism command resources and influence. The people of the Levant love their culture, their cities and their land, and there is much to be proud of. There is no reason to believe the Arab peoples of the Levant will not reclaim their place in the world, as happened in Lebanon, with the assistance of an international community and region that is ready to put an end to those fringe groups that prey on the forces of division, not unity.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

So what is the verdict on Climate Week, the summit meeting on global warming convened by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in New York?


SundayReview | The New York Times Editorial – A Group Shout on Climate Change.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD – Sunday September 27, 2014 – That is one week since the Sunday September 22, 2014 PEOPLE’s CLIMATE MARCH and the September 23, 2014 one day – UNSG Ban Ki-moon Climate-topics UN display.

The marchers and mayors, the ministers and presidents, have come and gone. So what is the verdict on Climate Week, the summit meeting on global warming convened by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in New York?

The meeting was not intended to reach a global agreement or to extract tangible commitments from individual nations to reduce the greenhouse gases that are changing the world’s ecosystems and could well spin out of control. Its purpose was to build momentum for a new global deal to be completed in December 2015, in Paris.

In that respect …… it clearly moved the ball forward, not so much in the official speeches but on the streets and in the meeting rooms where corporate leaders, investors, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and state and local officials pressed the case for stronger action.

It was important to put climate change back on the radar screen of world leaders, whose last effort to strike a deal, in Copenhagen five years ago, ended in acrimonious disaster. President Obama, for one, was as eloquent as he has ever been on the subject: “For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week — terrorism, instability, inequality, disease — there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.”

But most of the positive energy at this gathering came from people closer to the ground, like the 300,000 activists who marched last Sunday. They included mayors like New York’s Michael Bloomberg and his successor, Bill de Blasio, who both spoke of the critical role that cities can play in reducing emissions. They included governors like California’s Jerry Brown, who is justly proud of his state’s pathbreaking efforts to control automobile and power plant pollution. And they included institutions like Bank of America, which said it would invest in renewable energy, and companies like Kellogg and Nestle, which pledged to help stem the destruction of tropical forests by changing the way they buy commodities like soybeans and palm oil.

Underlying all these declarations was a palpable conviction that tackling climate change could be an opportunity and not a burden, that the way to approach the task of harnessing greenhouse gas emissions was not to ask how much it would cost but how much nations stood to gain by investing in new technologies and energy efficiency.

This burst of activity comes at a crucial time. A tracking initiative called the Global Carbon Project recently reported that greenhouse gas emissions jumped 2.3 percent in 2013, mainly because of big increases in China and India. This means it is becoming increasingly difficult to limit global warming to an upper boundary of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (the long touted 2 degrees Celsius limit) above pre-industrial levels. Beyond that point, scientists say, a world already suffering from disappearing glaciers, rising seas and persistent droughts could face even more alarming consequences.

Avoiding such a fate is going to require a revolution in the way the world produces and consumes energy, which clearly has to involve national governments, no matter how much commitment there is on the streets and in the boardrooms. The odds are long that a legally binding treaty will emerge from Paris. Congress is unlikely to ratify one anyway. The smart money now is on a softer agreement that brings all the big polluters on board with national emissions caps, and there are reasons for hope that this can be done.

Mr. Obama is in a much stronger leadership position than he was at Copenhagen, having engineered a huge increase in automobile fuel efficiency and proposed rules that will greatly reduce the United States’ reliance on dirty coal. The Chinese, in part because their own air is so dirty, have been investing heavily in alternative energy sources like wind and solar, and they are giving serious consideration to a national cap on coal consumption. The cooperation of these two countries could by itself create the conditions for a breakthrough agreement. But what might really do the trick — if Climate Week is any guide — is the emergence of a growing bottom-up movement for change.
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Copenhagen was the COP 15 (Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP9 of UNFCCC – and those who follow our website will realize that we stopped counting after Copenhagen even though this year’s end of the year’s meeting will be already the 20th meeting – or COP20 of the UNFCCC – and it will be held in Lima, Peru. We have no intention of opening a new page for this meeting either – but we are optimistic nevertheless that we will be in much better shape when we go to COP21 of the UNFCCC in Paris – December 2015.
With the 70th celebration of the UN and the need to do something to mark this date – we believe that a more responsive Climate Change reduction path will be fleshed out by that time.

The People’s March of last Sunday will then be remembered as the People’s expression that they demand action from those that sit at UN’s New York Headquarters in what they see as seats of the Global management. Also, please note the fact that even the UN has recognized by now that the Assembly of Governments will not reach the needed consensus to create true action – it will be rather the involvement of Civil Society, and business – led by scientists, economic and social developers and plain people that care for their environment – ethical and mass leaders from he line – that will do it.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


(CNN) — Is the world going nuts?
By Fareed Zakaria – Sat September 20, 2014

I get asked this question a lot these days, and for understandable reasons. Look at what’s been in the news in just the last few weeks. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s execution videos, Scotland’s bid for secession, Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

There is an unraveling taking place in parts of the world. In the Middle East, the old order that stretched from Libya to Syria has collapsed. In Russia, the rise of oil prices has empowered and emboldened President Vladimir Putin — and he wants a makeover on the fall of the Soviet Union. Putin is testing the stability of the old international order built after World War II, and sees that it is weaker than most people might have guessed.

But why is all this happening? In the Middle East, people were tired of the old dictatorships. They weren’t prepared for what should follow them, but they wanted greater space and voice. The result has been chaos and violence, but perhaps that is the brutal, ugly phase that will force people there to find a way to make their peace with the modern world. After all, Europe went through its own religious wars, wars or nationalism, and world wars before it became the stable continent it is today.
Where do Scotland and UK go from here?

Intel community underestimates ISIS: Similarly, in Eurasia, the real driver of what has happened there is not the West or Russia, but the Ukrainian people. They decided that they didn’t want to be vassals of the Kremlin. They look with longing at Poland, which in 1989 had a similar-sized economy to theirs and is now twice the size, and is a member in good standing of the European Union.

Of course there are Ukrainians who feel differently — that’s what’s causing the turmoil — but most, overwhelmingly, want to chart a future with the West. Whether they can remains an open question, given Putin’s firm resolve to sabotage their plans. But again, this is a sign of people searching for greater connections with the civilized world.

And look at the rest of the world. India and Indonesia have elected leaders who are friendly towards markets, the West, and America — resolutely democratic and yet strong nationalists. Mexico and Colombia have reformers at the helm. In Africa, there are many governments from Ethiopia to Rwanda, where you see real progress in health and living conditions. There are many pieces of bad news coming out of that continent — from Ebola to Boko Haram — but there is also good news, growing economies, a surging middle class.

And look at the world’s two largest economies. The United States remains economically vibrant, with a dynamic society, new technologies that dominate the world, and new sources of energy that will power it for a few generations. China, for all the noise, remains committed to economic development first, is embarking on anti-corruption and reform drives and has even begun to tackle pollution and climate change as an issue.

I’m not saying that all is well in the world — I’m really suggesting that we are in the midst of great global change. Much of this change is driven by good news — people’s desires for greater freedom and autonomy, new information technologies, etc. But all change is disruptive, and without the institutions of freedom and the civic culture of liberty, this period of transition can be dangerous. The forces of integration will not automatically triumph over the forces of disintegration. But there are many good forces out here that are also sweeping through the world these days.

And, of course, Scotland did not end up seceding. Score one for integration.

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URI AVNERY LOOKS AT SCOTLAND AND THE ARAB WORLD.

Uri Avnery

September 20, 2014

Scotland on the Euphrates

TWO COUNTRIES competed this week for first place in news programs all over the world: Scotland and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

There could not be a greater difference than between these two countries. Scotland is damp and cold, Iraq is hot and dry. Scotland is called after its whisky (or the other way round), while for ISIS fighters, drinking alcohol is the mark of unbelievers, who should lose their head (literally).

However, there is one common denominator of both crises: they mark the approaching demise of the nation-state.

MODERN NATIONALISM, like any great idea in history, was born out of a new set of circumstances: economic, military, spiritual and others, which made older forms obsolete.

By the end of the 17th century, existing states could no longer cope with new demands. Small states were doomed. The economy demanded a safe domestic market large enough for the development of modern industries. New mass armies needed a base strong enough to provide soldiers and pay for modern arms. New ideologies created new identities.

Britanny and Corsica could not exist as independent entities. They had to give up much of their separate identity and join the large and powerful French state to survive. The United Kingdom, the union of the British isles under a Scottish king, became a world power. Others followed, each at its own pace. Zionism was a late effort to imitate this.

The process reached its peak at the end of World War I, when empires like the Ottoman Caliphate and Austria-Hungary broke up. Kemal Atatürk, who exchanged the Islamic caliphate for a Turkish national state, was perhaps the last great ideologue of the national idea.

But by that time, this idea was already growing old. The realities which had created it were changing rapidly. If I am not mistaken, it was Gustave Le Bon, the French psychologist, who asserted a hundred years ago that every new idea is already obsolete by the time it is adopted by the masses.

The process works like this: somebody conceives the idea. It takes a generation for it to become accepted by the intellectuals. It takes another generation for the intellectuals to teach the masses. By the time it attains power, the circumstances that gave it birth have already changed, and a new idea is required.

Reality changes much more quickly than the human mind.

Take the idea of the European nation-state. When it reached its final victory, after the Great War, the world had already changed. European armies, which had mown each other down with machine guns, were facing tanks and warplanes. The economy became world-wide. Air travel abolished distances. Modern communication created a “world village”.

In 1926 an Austrian nobleman, Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, convened a pan-European congress. While Adolf Hitler, a hopelessly old-fashioned thinker, tried to impose the German nation-state on the continent, a small group of idealists propagated the idea of a European Union, which spread after another dreadful World War.

This idea, now still in its infancy, is generally accepted, but it is already obsolete. The multinational economy, the social media, the fight against deadly diseases, the civil wars and genocides, the environmental dangers threatening the entire planet – all these make world governance imperative and urgent – yet this is an idea whose realization is still very, very far away.

THE OBSOLENCE of the nation-state has given birth to a paradoxical by-product: the breakup of the state into smaller and smaller units.

While the world trend towards larger and larger political and economic units gathers strength, nation-states fall apart. All over the world, small peoples are demanding independence.

This is not quite as ridiculous as it looks. The nation-state came into being because realities needed societies of at least a certain size and strength. But by now, all the major functions of the states are moving towards much larger regional unions. So why does Corsica need France? Why do the Basques need Spain? Why does Quebec need Canada? Why not live in a smaller state with people like you, who speak your natural language?

Czechoslovakia has broken up, peacefully. So has Yugoslavia, not so peacefully. So have Cyprus, Serbia, Sudan – and the Soviet Union, of course.

(Let me remark in passing that this also concerns the idea of the so-called One-State solution for our little problem in Israel/Palestine. During the last three generations, the world has not seen a single instance of two different peoples coming together voluntarily in one state.)

The Scottish referendum is one of the opening scenes of this new epoch. The proponents of independence promised that Scotland could join the European Union and NATO, perhaps adopt the Euro. So why, they ask, should Scotland remain in the British straightjacket? After all, Britannia does not rule the waves anymore!

The failure of the vote for Scottish independence does not change the course of events. It just slows it down.

NATIONALISM WAS a European idea.

It never struck deep roots in the arid fields of the Arab world. Even in the heyday of Arab nationalism, it was never quite clear whether a Damascene, for example, considered himself first a Syrian or a Muslim, whether a Beiruti considered himself first a Maronite-Christian or a Lebanese, or whether a Cairene was first an Egyptian, an Arab or a Muslim.

During the Algerian struggle for independence, an angry French right-wing politician once complained to me: “Before we conquered North Africa, Algeria was never united! We created the Algerian nation!” He was quite right, though he drew the wrong conclusions. Many times I heard exactly the same from dedicated Zionists about the Palestinian nation.

The modern Arab nations were invented by European colonialists. Lately, it has become a fashion to mention Mark Sykes and Georges Picot, two mediocre bureaucrats, one British, one French, who drew up a secret agreement for the division of the Ottoman Empire. They and their successors created the states of Syria, Iraq, (Trans)Jordan, Palestine etc.

These “nation-states” were quite artificial. The European planners had generally very little understanding for local circumstances, traditions, identities and culture. Neither did they care very much. Iraq, with its different components, was created to accommodate British interests. The strange eastern borders of Jordan were shaped for a British oil pipeline from Mosul to Haifa. Lebanon, created as a home for the Christians, was shaped to include Muslim Sunnite and Shiite areas, just to make it larger. Al-Sham was stripped of Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon and became Syria. Later it also lost Alexandretta to Turkey.

ALL THESE imperialist manipulations ran counter to Muslim history and tradition.

Every Muslim child learns in school about the vast Muslim empires, stretching from the north of Spain to theborders of Burma, from the gates of Vienna to the South of Yemen, and then has to look at the map of mini-countries like Jordan and Lebanon. It’s humiliating.

First there were efforts to unify the Arabs under the umbrella of nationalism. The Ba’ath party strove (in theory, at least) to create one, single pan-Arab state, and the creed was taken up by the hero of the masses, the Egyptian Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, a secular military dictator. A pan-Arab state could also have created some equality between rich oil-states like Saudi Arabia and poor countries like Egypt.

Nasserism created a new ideology. Pan-Arab nationalism was “kaumi”. Local patriotism was “wotani”. The community of all Muslims was the “umma”.

(The same word, umma, means the opposite in Hebrew: a modern nation. Israelis are as mixed up as their neighbors. We have to choose our priority. Are we primarily Jews, Hebrews or Israelis? What exactly does “the Nation-State of the Jewish People”, as propagated by Binyamin Netanyahu, mean?)

THE HUGE attraction of the movement now called “Islamic State” is that it proposes a simple idea: do away with all these crazy borders drawn up by Western imperialists for their own purposes and re-create the classic pan-Muslim state: the Caliphate.

This seems like the opposite of the breakup of European states, but it means the same: the total rejection of the nation-state.

As such, it belongs both to the past and to the future.

It glorifies the past. Muhammad and his immediate successors (caliph means successor) are idealized as immaculate persons, the embodiment of all virtues, the possessors of divine wisdom.

This is very far from historical truth. All three immediate successors of the prophet were assassinated. Because of quarrels about the succession, Islam split into Sunnis and Shiites and remains so to this very day (now more than ever). But myth is stronger than truth.

However, while clinging to the past, the Islamic State movement (former ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) is very modern. With one swipe it clears the table of the nation-state and its derivatives. It carries a clear, simple idea, easily understood by Muslims everywhere. It seems to be vastly convincing.

THE WESTERN response is almost comically inadequate.

People like Barack Obama and John Kerry, and their equivalents all over Europe, are quite unable to understand what it is all about. With the traditional European contempt for the “natives”, they see nothing but head-cutting terrorists. They really seem to believe that they can vanquish a revolutionary new idea by forming a coalition with Arab dictators and corrupt politicians, bombing the rebels and finishing the job by employing local mercenaries.

That is a ludicrous misreading of the new reality. By now, IS, with just a handful of fanatical and cruel militants, has conquered huge territories.

WHAT IS the answer?

Frankly, I don’t know. But the first step for Westerners, as well as for Israelis, is to discard their arrogance and try to understand the new phenomenon they are facing.

They are not facing “terrorists” – the magic word that seems to solve all problems without the need to strain the brain. They are facing a new phenomenon.

History is in the making.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


September 17, 2014
High Court Rules Haredi Schools Don’t Have To Teach Math, Science, Other Secular Subjects.


High Court of Justice ruled today that Haredi schools can continue to be exempt from teaching Israel core curriculum – meaning basic secular subjects like math, Hebrew and science will not be taught by Haredi schools – or will be given short shrift by them.


High Court Rules Haredi Schools Don’t Have To Teach Math, Science, Other Secular Subjects
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com


In a 7-2 ruling, the court upheld an education law passed in 2008 exempting haredi schools from teaching the core curriculum mandated for all other schools in the country, claiming that changing the education requirements that apply to haredi schools would be a paternalistic blow to the rights of others, Ha’aretz reported.


“This is an unusual petition, in which a third party is asking to require the state to act paternalistically toward another. Even though it could be that a demand from the state to act paternalistically toward a third party could be accepted in extreme instances, it is clear that this matter is not one of them. Another unique characteristic of this petition is that, truth be told, this petition is seeking to advance a broad public interest at the price of infringing on the (possibly constitutional) rights of others,” Supreme Court President Asher Grunis wrote for the majority.

The court also ruled that that the petitioners had not proved that haredi educational standards infringed on children’s right to an education.

The petition demanding haredi schools teach basic secular subjects was filed in 2010 by a group of ex-haredim and by teachers.

The petitioners reportedly included Amnon Rubinstein and Uriel Reichman, both legal scholars and former politicians; and Major General (Ret.) Elazar Stern, a Member of Knesset from the centrist Hatnuah Party who once headed the army’s personnel directorate.

Haredi students graduate their yeshivas so ill-prepared that even if they opt to join the IDF or try to find employment, they must undergo months (and sometimes years) of remedial education just to get them to the educational level of an average secular high school graduate.


The court’s ruling likely guarantees that another generation of haredi children will have to lead much or all of their adult lives relying heavily on government welfare programs and charity.


IN OUR OPINION – THIS RULING AGAINST ISRAEL, BY ITS SUPREME COURT OF JUSTICE, CONSTITUTES A HIGHER BLOW TO THE COUNTRY THEN WHAT THE OUTSIDE TERRORISTS HAVE ACHIEVED – in effect this is nothing less then the perpetuation of the hold of the ultra-orthodox parties on the fast multiplying country’s poor who are being forced into servitude to the Rabbis that guarantee them meager hand-outs in exchange for keeping them unemployable except for general oversubscribed religious tasks.
This undermines the future of the State of Israel. How did this get the votes of 7 out of the 9 members of the Court?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

SundayReview | Opinion

The Climate Swerve.

By ROBERT JAY LIFTON,  The New York Times,

AMERICANS appear to be undergoing a significant psychological shift in our relation to global warming. I call this shift a climate “swerve,” borrowing the term used recently by the Harvard humanities professor Stephen Greenblatt to describe a major historical change in consciousness that is neither predictable nor orderly.

The first thing to say about this swerve is that we are far from clear about just what it is and how it might work. But we can make some beginning observations which suggest, in Bob Dylan’s words, that “something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is.” Experience, economics and ethics are coalescing in new and important ways. Each can be examined as a continuation of my work comparing nuclear and climate threats.

The experiential part has to do with a drumbeat of climate-related disasters around the world, all actively reported by the news media: hurricanes and tornadoes, droughts and wildfires, extreme heat waves and equally extreme cold, rising sea levels and floods. Even when people have doubts about the causal relationship of global warming to these episodes, they cannot help being psychologically affected. Of great importance is the growing recognition that the danger encompasses the entire earth and its inhabitants. We are all vulnerable.

This sense of the climate threat is represented in public opinion polls and attitude studies. A recent Yale survey, for instance, concluded that “Americans’ certainty that the earth is warming has increased over the past three years,” and “those who think global warming is not happening have become substantially less sure of their position.”

Falsification and denial, while still all too extensive, have come to require more defensive psychic energy and political chicanery.

But polls don’t fully capture the complex collective process occurring.

The most important experiential change has to do with global warming and time. Responding to the climate threat — in contrast to the nuclear threat, whose immediate and grotesque destructiveness was recorded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — has been inhibited by the difficulty of imagining catastrophic future events. But climate-related disasters and intense media images are hitting us now, and providing partial models for a devastating climate future.

At the same time, economic concerns about fossil fuels have raised the issue of value. There is a wonderfully evocative term, “stranded assets,” to characterize the oil, coal and gas reserves that are still in the ground. Trillions of dollars in assets could remain “stranded” there. If we are serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustaining the human habitat, between 60 percent and 80 percent of those assets must remain in the ground, according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative, an organization that analyzes carbon investment risk. In contrast, renewable energy sources, which only recently have achieved the status of big business, are taking on increasing value, in terms of returns for investors, long-term energy savings and relative harmlessness to surrounding communities.

Pragmatic institutions like insurance companies and the American military have been confronting the consequences of climate change for some time. But now, a number of leading financial authorities are raising questions about the viability of the holdings of giant carbon-based fuel corporations. In a world fueled by oil and coal, it is a truly stunning event when investors are warned that the market may end up devaluing those assets. We are beginning to see a bandwagon effect in which the overall viability of fossil-fuel economics is being questioned.

Can we continue to value, and thereby make use of, the very materials most deeply implicated in what could be the demise of the human habitat? It is a bit like the old Jack Benny joke, in which an armed robber offers a choice, “Your money or your life!” And Benny responds, “I’m thinking it over.” We are beginning to “think over” such choices on a larger scale.

This takes us to the swerve-related significance of ethics. Our reflections on stranded assets reveal our deepest contradictions. Oil and coal company executives focus on the maximum use of their product in order to serve the interests of shareholders, rather than the humane, universal ethics we require to protect the earth. We may well speak of those shareholder-dominated principles as “stranded ethics,” which are better left buried but at present are all too active above ground.

Such ethical contradictions are by no means entirely new in historical experience. Consider the scientists, engineers and strategists in the United States and the Soviet Union who understood their duty as creating, and possibly using, nuclear weapons that could destroy much of the earth. Their conscience could be bound up with a frequently amorphous ethic of “national security.” Over the course of my work I have come to the realization that it is very difficult to endanger or kill large numbers of people except with a claim to virtue.

The climate swerve is mostly a matter of deepening awareness. When exploring the nuclear threat I distinguished between fragmentary awareness, consisting of images that come and go but remain tangential, and formed awareness, which is more structured, part of a narrative that can be the basis for individual and collective action.

In the 1980s there was a profound worldwide shift from fragmentary awareness to formed awareness in response to the potential for a nuclear holocaust. Millions of people were affected by that “nuclear swerve.” And even if it is diminished today, the nuclear swerve could well have helped prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

With both the nuclear and climate threats, the swerve in awareness has had a crucial ethical component. People came to feel that it was deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to engage in nuclear war, and are coming to an awareness that it is deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to destroy our habitat and create a legacy of suffering for our children and grandchildren.

Social movements in general are energized by this kind of ethical passion, which enables people to experience the more active knowledge associated with formed awareness. That was the case in the movement against nuclear weapons. Emotions related to individual conscience were pooled into a shared narrative by enormous numbers of people.

In earlier movements there needed to be an overall theme, even a phrase, that could rally people of highly divergent political and intellectual backgrounds. The idea of a “nuclear freeze” mobilized millions of people with the simple and clear demand that the United States and the Soviet Union freeze the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons.

Could the climate swerve come to include a “climate freeze,” defined by a transnational demand for cutting back on carbon emissions in steps that could be systematically outlined?

With or without such a rallying phrase, the climate swerve provides no guarantees of more reasonable collective behavior. But with human energies that are experiential, economic and ethical it could at least provide — and may already be providing — the psychological substrate for action on behalf of our vulnerable habitat and the human future.

———————————-

Robert Jay Lifton is a psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 24, 2014, on page SR4 of the New York edition with the headline: The Climate Swerve.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism:

ISIS Atrocities Started With Saudi Support for Salafi Hate.

By ED HUSAIN,  

ALONG with a billion Muslims across the globe, I turn to Mecca in Saudi Arabia every day to say my prayers. But when I visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad, I am forced to leave overwhelmed with anguish at the power of extremism running amok in Islam’s birthplace. Non-Muslims are forbidden to enter this part of the kingdom, so there is no international scrutiny of the ideas and practices that affect the 13 million Muslims who visit each year.

Last week, Saudi Arabia donated $100 million to the United Nations to fund a counterterrorism agency. This was a welcome contribution, but last year, Saudi Arabia rejected a rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council. This half-in, half-out posture of the Saudi kingdom is a reflection of its inner paralysis in dealing with Sunni Islamist radicalism: It wants to stop violence, but will not address the Salafism that helps justify it.

Let’s be clear: Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings. For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism across the globe.

Most Sunni Muslims around the world, approximately 90 percent of the Muslim population, are not Salafis. Salafism is seen as too rigid, too literalist, too detached from mainstream Islam. While Shiite and other denominations account for 10 percent of the total, Salafi adherents and other fundamentalists represent 3 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Unlike a majority of Sunnis, Salafis are evangelicals who wish to convert Muslims and others to their “purer” form of Islam — unpolluted, as they see it, by modernity. In this effort, they have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism. The kingdom also grants compliant imams V.I.P. access for the annual hajj, and bankrolls ultraconservative Islamic organizations like the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth.

After 9/11, under American pressure, much of this global financial support dried up  {something this website doubts indeed – a PJ comment}, but the bastion of Salafism remains strong in the kingdom, enforcing the hard-line application of outdated Shariah punishments long abandoned by a majority of Muslims. Just since Aug. 4, 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, nearly half for nonviolent crimes.

We are rightly outraged at the beheading of James Foley by Islamist militants, and by ISIS’ other atrocities, but we overlook the public executions by beheading permitted by Saudi Arabia. By licensing such barbarity, the kingdom normalizes and indirectly encourages such punishments elsewhere. When the country that does so is the birthplace of Islam, that message resonates.

I lived in Saudi Arabia’s most liberal city, Jidda, in 2005. That year, in an effort to open closed Saudi Salafi minds, King Abdullah supported dialogue with people of other religions. In my mosque, the cleric used his Friday Prayer sermon to prohibit such dialogue on grounds that it put Islam on a par with “false religions.” It was a slippery slope to freedom, democracy and gender equality, he argued — corrupt practices of the infidel West.

{ Above is an oxymoron – Wahhabism is the religious base that kept Salafism alive and is the base on which was mounted the Saudi throne. The Saudi monarchy and Wahhabism are one and the same so the Saudi treasury it is also the modern age father of Salafism. And what fills the Saudi treasury? Those are the foreign currencies spent at any gas-pump – be it by buying Saudi oil products or any oil products. As oil is fungible, any oil sold globally increases the value of Saudi oil sales.The bottom line is thus that anyone of us, by his thirst for oil, feeds ISIL.}

This tension between the king and Salafi clerics is at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s inability to reform. The king is a modernizer, but he and his advisers do not wish to disturb the 270-year-old tribal pact between the House of Saud and the founder of Wahhabism (an austere form of Islam close to Salafism). That 1744 desert treaty must now be nullified. 

{WHAT IS HE TALING ABOUT HERE – WHAT TENSION? IT REALLY IS A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP.
(PJ comment)}

The influence that clerics wield is unrivaled. Even Saudis’ Twitter heroes are religious figures: An extremist cleric like Muhammad al-Arifi, who was banned last year from the European Union for advocating wife-beating and hatred of Jews, commands a following of 9. 4 million. The kingdom is also patrolled by a religious police force that enforces the veil for women, prohibits young lovers from meeting and ensures that shops do not display “indecent” magazine covers. In the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the religious police beat women with sticks if they stray into male-only areas, or if their dress is considered immodest by Salafi standards. This is not an Islam that the Prophet Muhammad would recognize.

Salafi intolerance has led to the destruction of Islamic heritage in Mecca and Medina. If ISIS is detonating shrines, it learned to do so from the precedent set in 1925 by the House of Saud with the Wahhabi-inspired demolition of 1,400-year-old tombs in the Jannat Al Baqi cemetery in Medina. In the last two years, violent Salafis have carried out similar sectarian vandalism, blowing up shrines from Libya to Pakistan, from Mali to Iraq. Fighters from Hezbollah have even entered Syria to protect holy sites.

Textbooks in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities teach this brand of Islam. The University of Medina recruits students from around the world, trains them in the bigotry of Salafism and sends them to Muslim communities in places like the Balkans, Africa, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Egypt, where these Saudi-trained hard-liners work to eradicate the local, harmonious forms of Islam.

What is religious extremism but this aim to apply Shariah as state law? This is exactly what ISIS (Islamic State) is attempting do with its caliphate. Unless we challenge this un-Islamic, impractical and flawed concept of trying to govern by a rigid interpretation of Shariah, no amount of work by a United Nations agency can unravel Islamist terrorism.

Saudi Arabia created the monster that is Salafi terrorism. It cannot now outsource the slaying of this beast to the United Nations. It must address the theological and ideological roots of extremism at home, starting in Mecca and Medina. Reforming the home of Islam would be a giant step toward winning against extremism in this global battle of ideas.

—————————

Ed Husain is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior adviser to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on August 23, 2014, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Saudis Must Stop Exporting Extremism

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

From the Ashes of Iraq: Mesopotamia Rises Again.

by Alexander H. Joffe
The National Interest – Posted also by The Middle East Forum
August 20, 2014

www.meforum.org/4780/iraq-mesopotamia-rises-again

 

The dissolution of the colonial creation named “Iraq” is now almost complete. Perhaps what comes next is a return to the past; not a brutal Islamic “caliphate,” but something more basic.

Today, Mesopotamia is reappearing. The term is a Greek word meaning “the land between the two rivers.” The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are the defining features, each arising in mountains far to the north of Baghdad. The rivers and their annual floods defined the landscape, the cycle of life and the worldview of civilizations. The deserts to the west and the mountains to the east and far north provided rough boundaries and were liminal spaces related to the center, but yet separate and apart, sunbaked and dangerous. Inside Mesopotamia was a cauldron.

From the Sumerians of the third millennium BCE through the Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations of the second and first millennia BCE, to the Abbasids of the eighth century CE and until the arrival of the British in the early twentieth century, the space called Mesopotamia was the container for civilizations that rose and collapsed. Cultures invented writing and built the first cities, growing and shrinking in response to changing river courses and global climate. They conquered and were conquered, traded with surrounding regions, and formed a baggy but recognizable whole—what we call Mesopotamian civilization.

{Let’s remember history as it really happened – not as it was dreamed-up b y the French and British Empires, and later on by the American Oil-Industry forging an American Empire of Oil. The bottom line of this posting we are getting to is that thre never were Nations of Iraq or Syria and it seems now that there never will be a repeat of what the colonial powers did here for their own purpose. This article leads us to undeerstand that in Mesopotamia – as a region – there always was a strong South opposed by a North with a middle moving in between the two, and in contact with an arid desert West and an arid mountain area on the East. (PJ comment)}

Internal distinctions were paramount. Babylonia in the south was dominated by the rivers and the annual flood, irrigation agriculture and seemingly unrelenting heat and mud. Assyria in the northern, rain-fed zone sat amidst undulating plains and foothills. Culturally, Babylonia was older and more developed, the “heartland of cities” going back to 4000 BCE, a primacy that Assyria acknowledged even in periods when they dominated the south. By and large, both shared the same deities and myths, the same aggressive tendencies, and the same fear and loathing of surrounding regions. But competition, warfare and repression were constant.

For inhabitants, that is to say the kings and priests whose thoughts we read on clay tablets many millennia later, Mesopotamia the whole, a unity of north and south, was an ideal—the supreme prize, something overseen by the gods—to be aspired to and claimed by quotidian rulers. But, much like the idea of “Iraq,” it was conceptual, rather than practical. The south often dominated the north and vice versa, but never for very long.

Then, as now, the neighbors were a problem. One historical parallel seems especially apposite today. The Third Dynasty of Ur was short-lived, existing from around 2212 to 2004 BCE. It arose in southern Mesopotamia after the fall of the Semitic Akkadian Empire and revived the culture of the original or dominant southern ethnic group, the Sumerians. This dynasty created a fanatically integrated state, where temples, palaces and estates spun elaborate networks of supply and whose record keeping was unprecedented. As a territorial state, it was not far-flung; its core area extended only from modern Baghdad south to the Arabian Gulf, but it briefly reached into Iran and Assyria.

Toward the end of the dynasty, however, ruler Su-Sin faced a growing threat, the Amorites. These Semitic-speaking peoples arose somewhere on the middle stretches of the Euphrates River and surrounding steppe-lands in what is, for now, called Syria. Amorites were regarded with contempt and fear by the neo-Sumerians. It was said they did not cultivate grain, nor did they cook their meat. They did not even bury their dead.

Whether this terrifying image was correct or was something cultivated by Ur III scribes, Amorites themselves, or both is unknown. But Su-Sin’s response was to build a wall—the “wall against the Martu,” perhaps 280 kilometers in length—to keep the Amorites out. It didn’t work, any better than other walls in antiquity designed to keep barbarians out. The Ur III dynasty collapsed and was followed by centuries of conflict between various dynasties.

Eventually, the Amorites took control, their most famous scion being Hammurabi of Babylon. Like all Mesopotamian dynasties before and since, it was necessary to connect with the greater Mesopotamian tradition; Hammurabi’s lineage was crafted to show he descended from ancient kings and was the restorer of justice. Hammurabi’s famous “law code” described him as the pious defender of widows and orphans, when in fact he was their maker. No surprise that Saddam Hussein was often depicted with Hammurabi and with Nebuchadnezzar, destroyer of the temple in Jerusalem. Similarly, ISIS’ claims to the Islamic “caliphate,” to the restoration of glory and piety can be viewed through the same lens. In Mesopotamia, the past is always charter.

As concession to divisive reality, the Ottoman Turks had ruled Mesopotamia with three administrative units, in which a bewildering assortment of ethnic groups coexisted uncomfortably. About the Sunni-dominated state created by Britain, their “Iraq,” a revived medieval term, little more need be said. The claptrap monarchy they invented gave way to a repressive and then tyrannical “republic.” As it happened, America disposed of Saddam Hussein, although the Arab Spring may have done the same. In a historical irony, an act of imperialist intervention thus undid a previous one.

So it is as well with Syria, now divided into warring territories along lines familiar three thousand years ago. Many, especially ISIS itself, pointed to the vehement erasure of the so-called “Sykes-Picot” line, the 1916 boundary between British and French spheres of influence, from which the borders of Iraq and Syria were drawn. ISIS even bulldozed the berm that marked this mostly arbitrary line.

The symbolism of Sykes-Picot in the minds of Westerners and Islamists alike is telling, if nothing else, of the psychological impact of the last century. Their borders, drawn with thick pencils on imprecise maps, looked to the future, to a Middle East under Western domination. Iraq, and Syria, created holes where none existed.

Iraq has fractured along traditional lines; Kurdistan in the north, the Sunni regions around Baghdad and west toward the Euphrates and the Shiite regions of the south. These correspond roughly to Assyria and Babylonia, and the swing zones in the middle over which they fought endlessly. Hordes more terrifying than the Amorites—judging from their tweets of mass murder and crucifixion—rush in from the west while Persia struggles to defend its Shiite vassal state in Baghdad.

More of what is old is new again. ISIS threatens the Haditha Dam on the Euphrates, which if destroyed, would unleash catastrophic floods, much as the Assyrian king Sargon II did in 710 BCE against rebellious Babylonian ruler Merodach-Baladan. Cutting off the water supply, as ISIS did when it captured the Fallujah Dam earlier this year, is an even more ancient tactic; the cities of Lagash and Umma had fought a water war around 2500 BCE.

Ethnic cleansing and mass slaughter, proud announcement of the mutilation and execution of captives as nearly religious expressions of power, arbitrary decisions to provision or starve captive populations—all these are ancient Mesopotamian patterns of conflict. Only the destruction of Islamic religious buildings and sites by ISIS is truly new; Mesopotamian dynasties were fastidious about maintaining or restoring the cults and temples of conquered city-gods, even though the gods’ statues might “choose” to dwell in the conqueror’s city.

Geography is the container for cultures and helps create their possibilities and limits. Iraq was always a figment, as well as an ideal held by people who, for a few decades following the European style, thought of themselves as a nation-state. But underlying dynamics have proven stronger, and Iraq is no more. The ancient cauldron returns and decades of warring tribes and dynasties likely await.

——————–

Alex Joffe is editor of The Ancient Near East Today, the monthly e-newsletter of the American Schools of Oriental Research. He is also a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Related Topics:  Iraq  |  Alexander H. Joffe

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Dear Friends and Family of Africa.com,

Unprecedented. Historic. Watershed. Milestone.

Independent of what you may think of the US-Africa Leaders Summit, there is no doubt that the event could be characterized by all of these terms.

It represented a moment in history when the game changed between the US and Africa; the Summit will play a significant role in the shaping of Obama’s foreign policy legacy.

50 presidents. 1400 accredited media. 80 official events.

  Teresa’s five key observations are summarized here:

1) Ebola got more attention than it deserved – but for those Americans engaged in the bilateral meetings, the topic served as a vehicle to demonstrate that the vast and varied continent of Africa can not be painted with a single brush stroke. When the questions were raised by American, you could hear a collective sigh among the Africans, and the Americans were forced into a geography lesson that required them to understand that the ebola outbreak impacted three of the fifty four countries on the continent.

2) The main event was not the meeting among the fifty heads of state, but the business forum hosted by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Mike Bloomberg (in his capacity as businessman, not former mayor). This was a business summit, and the African presidents got to “come along” to the party. 

There were two principal events during the week:  a) The Leaders Summit where the 50 heads of state met with Obama and b) the Business Forum where business leaders met with Obama.

In terms of influence, keep in mind that the following parties were at the Business Forum, not the Leaders Summit: 

US Delegation: 

Moderator Charlie Rose – Journalist
Jeff Immelt – CEO of GE
Virginia Rometty – CEO of IBM
Andrew Liveris – CEO of Dow Chemical
Ajay Banga – CEO of Mastercard
David Rubinstein – CEO of the Carlyle Group
Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart
Muhtar Kent – CEO of Coca Cola 
Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone

African Delegation:

Aliko Dangote – CEO of Dangote Group
Mo Ibrahim – CEO of Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Tony Elumelu – CEO of Heirs Holdings
Sim Tshabala – CEO of Standard Bank
Strive Masiyiwa – Chairman Econet Wireless

3) If one were to ask the average millennial African which American companies have a great influence on the continent today, the answer would no doubt include Facebook and Google. It is interesting to note that the West Coast was not represented in these business meetings.

4) African presidents have been invited en masse, in this type of context, by several trading regions throughout the world, including China and the E.U. This was simply the first hosted by the United States. Take note that the next Chinese summit is scheduled for the end of August. Keep your eye on the news to see how the Chinese react to the US’ entry into this game.

5) The First Ladies Summit was co-hosted by Michelle Obama and Laura Bush. The corporate influence in that event was also very strong, with Walmart and Caterpillar deeply engaged, including Walmart’s pledge of $100 million to empower women in Africa.

There was so much to this event, that I want to point you to additional sources of information, should you have an interest in learning more. Much like our Africa.com Top 10 curated news, I have curated my Top 7 stories on the Summit from Africa.com, New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and the White House’s official website. Please find links to these articles below.

Thank you for your continued interest in Africa.com and the work we do to cover Africa. 

As always, we value your comments and observations. Please feel free to reply to this email 
with any thoughts you may have.

Kindest regards,

Teresa

Teresa Clarke
<info@africa.com>

Africa.com LLC
3 Columbus Circle
15th Floor
New York, NY 10023

Teresa’s Top 7 Stories about the US-Africa Summit:

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Council on Foreign Relations    
 

Ignoring Climate Change Could Sink U.S. Economy, Writes Rubin

 

“When it comes to the economy, much of the debate about climate change—and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling it—is framed as a trade-off between environmental protection and economic prosperity,” writes CFR Co-Chairman Robert E. Rubin in an op-ed for the Washington Post. “But from an economic perspective, that’s precisely the wrong way to look at it. The real question should be: What is the cost of inaction?”

Rubin argues that, in economic terms, taking action on climate change will prove far less expensive than inaction. The findings come from an earlier bipartisan report on the economic risks of climate change:

  • “By 2050, for example, between $48 billion and $68 billion worth of current property in Louisiana and Florida is likely to be at risk of flooding because it will be below sea level. And that’s just a baseline estimate; there are other scenarios that could be catastrophic.”
  • “Then, of course, there is the unpredictable damage from superstorms yet to come. Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy caused a combined $193 billion in economic losses; the congressional aid packages that followed both storms cost more than $122 billion.”
  • “And dramatically rising temperatures in much of the country will make it far too hot for people to work outside during parts of the day for several months each year—reducing employment and economic output, and causing as many as 65,200 additional heat-related deaths every year.”

According to Rubin, one of the fundamental problems with tackling climate change is that the methods used to gauge economic realities do not take climate change into consideration. Rubin calls for metrics that accurately reflect climate-change risks, and requiring companies to be transparent in reporting vulnerabilities tied to climate.

“If companies were required to highlight their exposure to climate-related risks, it would change investor behavior, which in turn would prod those companies to change their behavior.”

Read “How Ignoring Climate Change Can Sink the U.S. Economy.”

You can also view the CFR InfoGuide “The Emerging Arctic,” an interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic.

You can also read a blog post on the U.S. oil boom by CFR Senior Fellow and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies Michael Levi.

   
 

About CFR

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Today, Saturday, July 26th, the news are that Prime Minster Netanyahu agreed to offer a 12 hours pause in the assault on Hamas in honor of the Muslim Eid al Fitr celebration and Hamas agreed to obey as well. The general hope is that the time will be used to start negotiations that could justify an extension of this truce. So far these news rated page 8 of the New York Times.

We follow very closely these events as SUSTAINABILITY in the Middle East requires a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Palestinian-Israeli conflict with the creation of an agreed upon and legitimized two or three States solution in the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea.

After the release of the Genie of War from his temporary tunnel.  Israel cannot allow another temporary non-solution that will clearly lead only to renewed fighting down the road. Kick the Can time is over they say. The destruction of the military capability of Hamas and making safe the frontiers around the Gaza Strip – so no tunneling under those frontiers will continue in the aftermass of the 2914 conflict.

In these conditions Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet have no interest in a 7 days cease-fire suggested by US  Secretary of State Mr. Kerry, neither does Israel consider pulling back the military equipment and the military from the recent incursion into the Gaza Strip without having achieved first the destruction of those tunnels – some as three mile long. Nor will Israel allow bringing in cement to the Gaza Strip before there is an authority to monitor that this cement is used for housing and roads and not for repairing  those tunnels and build new ones.

Those issues are fully known to Mr. Kerry and he also mentions them in his argument for cease-fire and negotiations, but here comes his meeting in Cairo where besides the President and Foreign Minister of Egypt acting as hosts, he also faced the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who was pulled in as International Boss by the Amir of Qatar.to whom Mr. Kerry had to give homage in order to get the UN into this as representing the World at large – knowing that he came here on money from the main backer of the Hamas, while he himself, Mr. Ban, is in effect leaning on help from the Arab League at large that was represented in Cairo thus by the boss of the boss – Mr. Nabil AlArabi, Secretary -General of the Arab League that Mr, Ban Ki-moon recognizes as representing the Middle East region without Israel at the UN.  So far as the UN goes, Israel is not in Western Asia, but in Europe and “Others” – somewhat closer to the moon.

The real power the four elements that met in Cairo on July 24th is shown in the reporting from the US Department of State that we post here in full. The last speaker being obviously the one who thinks he represents the power of Sunni Islam – Arab and Turkish

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Nabil AlAraby  (born 15 March 1935 in Egypt) is an experienced Egyptian diplomat who has been Secretary-General of the Arab League since July 2011. Previously, he was Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf’s post revolution government from March to June 2011.   Elaraby was Legal Adviser and Director in the Legal and Treaties Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1976 to 1978 and then Ambassador to India from 1981 to 1983; he then returned to his previous post at the Foreign Ministry from 1983 to 1987.

He was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the Camp David Middle East peace conference in 1978, Head of the Egyptian delegation to the Taba negotiations from 1985 to 1989, and Agent of the Egyptian Government to the Egyptian-Israeli arbitration tribunal (Taba dispute) from 1986 to 1988. He was appointed by the Egyptian Minister of Justice on the list of arbitrations in civil and commercial affairs in Egypt in 1995.

He holds a J.S.D. (1971) and an LL.M. (1969) from New York University School of Law and a law degree from Cairo University‘s Faculty of Law (1955). AlAraby is a partner at Zaki Hashem & Partners in Cairo, specializing in negotiations and arbitration.

at the United Nations:

In 1968 Elaraby was an Adlai Stevenson Fellow in International Law at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). He was appointed a Special Fellow in International Law at UNITAR in 1973, and was Legal Adviser to the Egyptian delegation to the United Nations Geneva Middle East peace conference from 1973-1975.

AlArby was Egypt’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York from 1978 to 1981, the Permanent Representative to the UN Office at Geneva from 1987 to 1991, the Permanent Representative to the UN in New York from 1991 to 1999, a member of the International Law Commission of the United Nations from 1994 to 2004, President of the Security Council in 1996, and Vice-President of the General Assembly in 1993, 1994 and 1997. He was a commissioner at the United Nations Compensation Commission in Geneva from 1999 to 2001, and a member of the International Court of Justice from 2001 until February 2006.

AlAraby has served as Chairman for the First (Disarmament and international security questions) Committee of the General Assembly, the Informal Working Group on an Agenda for Peace, the Working Group on Legal Instruments for the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, and the UN Special Committee on Enhancing the Principle of the Prohibition of the Use of Force in International Relations.

Other international work:

AlAraby was an Arbitrator at the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration in Paris in a dispute concerning the Suez Canal from 1989 to 1992. He was a judge in the Judicial Tribunal of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries in 1990.

AlAraby was a member of the governing board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute from 2000 to 2010.[1] Since December 2008 he has been serving as the Director of the Regional Cairo Centre for International Commercial Arbitration[2] and as a counsel of the Sudanese government in the “Abyei Boundary” Arbitration between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Revolutionary Movement.[3]

AlAraby has also served as a Member of the Board for the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, a Member of the Board for the Egyptian Society of International Law, and a Member of the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Centre List of Neutrals.

2011 Egyptian revolution and transitional government:

Nabil AlAraby was one of the group of about 30 high-profile Egyptians acting as liaison between the protesters and the government, and pressing for the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.[4]

At a democracy forum on 25 February 2011, he said the Egyptian government suffered from a lack of separation of powers, a lack of transparency and a lack of judicial independence.
He said foreign policy should be based on Egypt’s interests, including “holding Israel accountable when it does not respect its obligations.
[5]

On 6 March 2011, he was appointed Foreign Minister of Egypt in Essam Sharaf‘s post-revolution cabinet.[6]  Since then he has opened the Rafah Border Crossing with Gaza and brokered the reconciliation of Hamas with Fatah.[7]

Clearly – a very versed man with large horizon and it is not clear where he stands with the present government of Egypt. Clearly not in the US corner.

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From the US Department of State – Remarks from

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Cairo, Egypt
July 25, 2014 o9:59 PM EDT

Remarks With UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby.


 As available:

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. You know that Egypt is – the serious military escalation in Gaza and what the Palestinian people have been exposed to in terms of destruction – broad destruction and killing of civilians that claimed up until now over 800 civilians and thousands of injured. We are working incessantly to end this crisis and to spare the Palestinian people of the dangers it has been exposed to, and to prevent further military escalation. And this has led to the proposal – to us proposing our plan, and we should know that Egypt has not spared any effort to stop – or to reach a cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people and to allow for negotiations to start between the two parties in order to discuss all the issues, in order to restore stability in the Gaza strip, and to meet the needs of the brotherly Palestinian people, and to also prevent further violence which the Palestinian civilians have been exposed to.

We have continued our efforts since the beginning of the military escalation to achieve this goal in cooperation with the U.S. and the secretary-general of the UN and the secretary-general of the Arab League and other parties – other regional and international parties in order to achieve this goal. We once again call for the immediate cease-fire, a cease of all actions in order to protect the Palestinian people. And given that the parties have not shown any – sufficient willingness to stop this, we are calling for a humanitarian cease-fire to observe the holy days that we are on the verge of observing at the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the Eid for a period of seven days, in the hope that this will lead – will prompt the parties to heed the calls of conscience and humanitarian needs in order to reach a comprehensive cease-fire, and also begin negotiations in order to prevent the reoccurrence of this crisis.

And also, to propose a good framework for this objective, we have consulted over the last few days in order to formulate a formula that would be agreed to by all the sides, and also to stop the bloodshed. But unfortunately, we have to exert further effort in order to realize our common goals in this regard. The proposed ideas were focused or fell within the same framework that the Egyptian plan proposed. And once again, we will call on all parties to benefit from it and to accept it definitively. I would like on this occasion also to allow the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to speak.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. All right. Well, let me start again. I want to thank Sameh Shoukry and President al-Sisi and Egypt for their very warm welcome here, but most importantly for their continued efforts to try to find a way to achieve a cease-fire agreement in Gaza and then beyond that, to be able to resolve the critical issues that are underlying this conflict. I thank Sameh for his help today and the work we’ve been doing together. We’ve made some movement and progress, and I’ll talk about that in a minute.

I also want to thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who has traveled and worked tirelessly in these past days throughout the international community to try to bring people together, as well as Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Araby for his close partnership in this effort. They’ve been sources of good advice and also of tireless effort. So this is a broad effort with a broad based sense that something needs to be done.

I also want to acknowledge President Abbas who has traveled to any number of countries in recent days, and whom I met with just the other day, who expressed his desire – strong desire to achieve a cease-fire as rapidly as possible, and he has been passionately advocating for the Palestinian people and the future of the Palestinian state.

Let me just say that the agony of the events on the ground in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel, all of them together, simply cannot be overstated. The daily reality for too many people of grief and blood and loss and tears, it all joins together to pull at the fabric of daily life in each of their communities.

In Israel, millions of people are living under constant threat of Hamas rocket fire and tunnel attacks, and they’re ready to take cover at any moment’s notice. And I’ve had telephone conversations with the prime minister interrupted by that fact. Earlier this week I had a chance to visit with the family of a young man by the name of Max Steinberg, an American – one of two Americans killed in this devastating conflict – and his mother Naftali Fraenkel[1], who was murdered at the outset – whose son was murdered at the very outset of this crisis.

So any parent in the world, regardless of somebody’s background, can understand the horror of losing a child or of seeing these children who are caught in the crossfire. In Gaza, hundreds of Palestinians have died over the past few weeks, including a tragic number of civilians. And we’ve all read the headlines and seen the images of the devastation: 16 people killed and more than 200 injured in just a single attack yesterday; women and children being wheeled away on stretchers; medics pulling shrapnel out of an infant’s back; a father nursing his three-year-old son. The whole world is watching a – tragic moment after tragic moment unfold and wondering: When is everybody going to come to their senses?

Both the Israelis and the Palestinians deserve and need to lead normal lives, and it’s time for everyone to recognize that violence breeds violence and that the short-term tactical gains that may be made through a violent means simply will not inspire the long-term change that is necessary and that both parties really want.

I have been in the region since Monday at the request of President Obama, and I’ve spent five days on the ground here and also in Israel in the West Bank engaging in countless discussions with leaders throughout the region and even around the world, conversations lasting, obviously, late into the night and through the day. We have gathered here, my colleagues and I have gathered here together because we believe that it is impossible for anybody to simply be inactive and not try to make government work to deal with this bloodshed. We need to join together and push back.

Specifically, here is what we’ve been working to try to bring about. At this moment, we are working toward a brief seven days of peace – seven days of a humanitarian cease-fire in honor of Eid, in order to be able to bring people together to try to work to create a more durable, sustainable cease-fire for the long run, and to work to create the plans for that long haul.

The fact is that the basic structure is built on the Egyptian initiative, but the humanitarian concept is one that Egypt has agreed to embrace in an effort to try to honor Eid and bring people together at this moment. Seven days, during which the fundamental issues of concern for Israel – security, the security of Israel and its people – and for the Palestinians – the ability to know that their social and economic future can be defined by possibilities, and that those issues will be addressed. We believe that Egypt has made a significant offer to bring people to Cairo – the factions, the Palestinian factions and representatives of interested states and the state of Israel – in order to begin to try to negotiate the way forward.

Now, why are we not announcing that that has been found yet tonight? For a simple reason: That we still have some terminology in the context of the framework to work through. But we are confident we have a fundamental framework that can and will ultimately work. And what we need to do is continue to work for that, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We believe that seven days will give all the parties the opportunity to step back from the violence and focus on the underlying causes, perhaps take some steps that could build some confidence, and begin to change the choices for all.

We don’t yet have that final framework, but I will tell you this: None of us here are stopping. We are going to continue the conversations. And right now, before I came in here tonight, I had conversations with people on both sides of this conflict. Just spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who made it clear that he wants to try to find this way forward. I think the Secretary-General, who has graciously called for a 12-hour cease-fire, will speak in a moment about that possibility and where it will go. And Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indicated his willingness to do that as a good-faith down payment and to move forward. And I’m grateful to the Secretary-General for his leadership in that regard.

But in the end, the only way that this issue is going to be resolved, this conflict, is for the parties to be able to come together and work through it as people have in conflicts throughout history. And it’s our hope, and we intend to do everything possible. Tomorrow, I will be in Paris, where I will meet with some of our counterparts, my counterparts, and where I will also meet with other players who are important to this discussion in an effort to be able to try to see if we can narrow the gap. And Prime Minister Netanyahu is committed to try to help do that over the course of the next day.

So we begin with at least the hope of a down payment on a cease-fire, with the possibility of extension, a real possibility in the course of tomorrow. And hopefully, if we can make some progress, the people in this region who deserve peace can find at least one step towards that elusive goal. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Secretary-General.

SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN: Thank you, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry of Egypt, Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry, League of Arab States Secretary-General al-Araby. Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Assalamu alaikum, Ramadan Kareem.

Let me begin by commending all the leaders here today. I’d like to particularly thank President Sisi of Egypt and Foreign Minister Shoukry as the host of this initiative to have made ceaseless efforts to bring all the parties together. And I also commend highly the leadership and commitment and tirelessly – tireless diplomatic efforts of Secretary of State John Kerry, and it has been a source of inspiration to work with all these distinguished colleagues. And I have been obviously closely working with League of Arab States Secretary General al-Araby.

This is my sixth day in the region visiting eight countries, 11 stops, meeting kings, amirs, presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, over meeting, over telephones. I have been working very closely with the leaders here as well as all the leaders in the region. I really appreciate their kind cooperation and leadership. Our joint effort is a clear signal of a global commitment to end the bloodshed and destruction that is tearing apart the lives of hope and the hopes of so many innocent civilians. People of Gaza have bled enough. They are trapped and besieged in a tiny, densely populated sliver of land. Every bit of it is a civilian area. The Israeli people have been living under the constant fear of Hamas rocket attacks. Tensions are spreading further. We are seeing growing unrest in the West Bank. Surely now, the parties must realize that it is time for them to act, and solutions must be based on three important issues.

First, stop the fighting. We called for a seven-day humanitarian cease-fire extending over the Eid period, beginning with a extendable 12-hour pause. Second, start talking. There is no military solution to addressing the grievances, and all parties must find a way to dialogue. Third, tackle the root causes of the crisis. This effort – peace effort – cannot be the same as it was the last two Gaza conflicts, where we reset the clock and waited for the next one. The ongoing fighting emphasizes the need to finally end the 47-year-old occupation, end the chokehold on Gaza, ensure security based on mutual recognition and achieve a viable two-state solution, by which Israelis and Palestinians can live in peace and security side by side.

Along with world and regional leaders, we continue to make every effort to forge a durable cease-fire for the people of Gaza and Israel based on those three pillars. Progress is being made, but there is much more work to do. We may not be satisfied with what we are now proposing, but we have to build upon what we are now proposing. In the meantime, more children are dying every hour of every day.

Ladies and gentlemen, today is the last Friday of Ramadan. The world is just away from marking Eid-al-Fitr. Let us all take inspiration from this season of peace and reflection. The United Nations is fully committed to ensuring the success of this proposal and securing hope and dignity for all the people of Palestine and Israel. And I thank you again for all leaders in the region and in the world who have been working together with the United Nations and the leaders here to bring peace and security to this region. I thank you very much. Shukran Jazilan.

MODERATOR: Thank you. (Via interpreter.) Secretary-general of the United – of the Arab League.

SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you very much. I would like to thank also the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is a very serious and grave situation. There are martyrs in Palestine have been – have died as a result of the Israeli aggression and the violation of the principles of international humanitarian law. People have been fired at, children are falling, and all civilians are being killed. This is the holiest month in the Islamic world, as those before me have mentioned. And on the eve of the Eid, we would like to support and uphold the idea of a cease-fire, as Mr. John Kerry has said and also the UN Secretary-General has said.

But before I conclude my very brief remarks, I would like to say that the occupation and the siege on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – these are occupied territories. We cannot imagine that the siege and the occupation, that there would be no resistance to them. For that reason, everyone should work to end this conflict. I would allow myself to say, in English and in very simple and brief language: (In English) In a very simple and concise way, that as much as I support the humanitarian (inaudible), but we have to look at it. I think everyone has to do that. We have to look ahead. Then it’s diplomacy, and then (inaudible) results. We have to dedicate ourselves, all of us, to reach a final solution. That means the end of the occupation. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) We will be taking four questions, from Arshad (inaudible) first of all.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Mr. United Nations Secretary-General has to leave.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter.) Good evening. My question is for Mr. John Kerry and Minister Sameh Shoukry. You’ve launched this proposal or plan. Has there been – have there been contacts between the two sides, and how far have you reached in these contexts, especially that the Eid is approaching fast?

With respect to the rules of engagement that Israel uses in Israel and in Gaza and the West Bank, and what we’ve seen in terms of destruction of and demolishing of hospitals, have you received any guarantees from Israel that these actions would not be repeated? And thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: With respect to the negotiating process, it’s inappropriate to sort of lay out all the details, but of course we’re talking to everybody that we can talk to who has an ability to have an impact, and obviously I’m talking directly to Prime Minister Netanyahu and directly to other foreign ministers in the region, some of whom have different ways of talking with different factions of Palestinians, as well as talking to President Abbas. In the course of that, it’s very clear to me that under very difficult circumstances some are ready to move and others are reluctant and need assurances of one kind or another. And clearly, given the history, some of those assurances are sometimes difficult to be able to make and formulate appropriately so that somebody else doesn’t wind up being – struggling with them. That’s why the simplicity of this is really the best, which is come to the table and negotiate.

But to the degree that either side needs assurances of one thing or another being talked about, without outcomes, no preconditions, but something being negotiated and talked about, then you get in a contest of priorities and other kinds of things.

I believe we can work through those things. We have. The basic outline is approved by everybody. People believe that if the circumstances are right, the structure is right, a cease-fire makes sense, a cease-fire is important, and people would like to see the violence end. But it has to obviously be in ways that neither side feels prejudiced or their interests compromised.

So that’s what we’re working on. I think we’ve made serious progress. We sat today, worked some things out to deal with some of those sensitivities, but basically we still have some more things to do over the course of the next 24 or 48 hours, and we’re going to do that. My hope is that the 12 hours will be extended, perhaps to 24, and that people will draw from that the goodwill and effort to try to find a solution. But it takes – the parties have to come together and reach an understanding, and that’s what we’re going to continue to work on because it’s urgent for innocent people who get caught in the crossfire, and obviously the – as I said in my opening remarks, people in Israel deserve to live free from fear that their home or their school will be rocketed, but people in Palestine, the Palestinian territories and people in Gaza have a right to feel free from restraints on their life where they can barely get the food or the medicine or the building materials and the things that they need.

So there’s a lot on the table. It’s been complicated for a long time; it didn’t get easy last night. But we’re going to continue to work at this, and I’m confident that with goodwill, with good effort, I think progress can hopefully be made.

FOREIGN SECRETARY SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, since the outbreak of the crisis in Gaza, we have been in contact with all parties, with the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas. We have expended serious efforts based on our own Egyptian initiative, and also in cooperation with the American side. I would like to seize this opportunity to thank you, to thank Mr. Kerry for his efforts and – that he has spent and continues to expend, and his cooperation in order to achieve a complete cease-fire to protect the Palestinian people.

Military action and the serious escalation and the serious strikes taking place against the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank, prove the importance of immediate action to end this crisis so that it would not result or lead to more serious ramifications, not just in the occupied territories, but in the region as a whole. The framework we talk about is a framework that is – that the U.S. Secretary of State has talked about – is based on the Egyptian initiative, and also based on the idea of encouraging the parties to interact with it, so that we can reach a complete cease-fire and seizure of all military action, and to also save civilians from being targeted, and to end the bloodshed, just like the strike against the school yesterday. Such actions should not be repeated and should completely end, and so should military action.

And a temporary humanitarian cease-fire should be accepted to give a chance, an opportunity for interaction between the various parties, and perhaps expand it beyond there, so that all parties would come to recognize that a comprehensive solution to all this crisis and to the Palestinian conflict should be reached, and also to establish a Palestinian state in order to prevent the reoccurrence of such a grave situation.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) Arshad Mohammed.

QUESTION: Secretary Kerry, as I imagine you are aware, there are multiple reports that the Israeli cabinet today rejected the cease-fire proposal that you had on the table and said they wanted modifications. Do you regard that as just a negotiating ploy or do you regard it as likely to be a more definitive rejection?

And secondly, have you made any direct progress on getting the Egyptians to commit to opening Rafah, on getting the Israelis to commit to increasing traffic at the Erez crossing, and on getting Hamas to agree to let Israeli troops stay in the Gaza Strip during a truce? If you haven’t made any headway on those issues, how is it possible – after five days of diplomacy, how is it possible to describe these days as having produced serious progress?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me deal with the first issue, which is the fiction of diplomacy and of politics at the same time. There was no formal proposal or final proposal or proposal ready for a vote submitted to Israel. Let’s make that absolutely crystal clear. And Prime Minister Netanyahu called me a few minutes before this to make it clear that that is an error, inaccurate, and he’s putting out a statement to that effect. They may have rejected some language or proposal within the framework of some kind of suggestion at some point in time, but there was no formal proposal submitted from me on which there should have been a vote or on which a vote was ripe. We were having discussions about various ideas and various concepts of how to deal with this issue, and there’s always mischief from people who oppose certain things, and I consider that one of those mischievous interpretations and leaks which is inappropriate to the circumstances of what we’ve been doing and are engaged in.

With respect to the individual issues that you raised, I’m not going to make any announcements and I’m certainly not going to reveal issues that are of a bilateral nature between Egypt and the United States or the United States and another country, but I will simply tell you in a candid way that those issues were talked about, and I am satisfied with the responses that I received with respect to how they might affect the road ahead. And each and every one of them I believe there are ways of moving forward.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter.) (Inaudible)

QUESTION: My question is for Secretary Kerry and the Egyptian foreign minister. First of all, it seems that all of those efforts, the phone calls, visits have led only to a cease-fire for seven hours. Why is the reasons for not having more achievements? Who is blockading having more achievements in this? Is it Israel, or is it Hamas? Is it the Palestinians? Who is going to – we are going to blame on this? Because we have heard that Israel refused. As you have said, it’s not correct, but it was published that Israel refused, actually, some ideas of having more cease-fire, more than seven hours.

Also, it seems that all of this is because the peace process has stopped, actually, because of the settlements of Israel. This is the main cause – the blockade of course, and other things on the Gaza, the boycotts on Gaza. People can’t have food or water or other things, but also the peace process have stopped. You have – Secretary Kerry have done a lot in this, and yet you didn’t say why, who is the reasons behind it stopping.

And my question is for our foreign minister, please. (Via interpreter.) There is a lot of talk about the Rafah Crossing, and that Egypt is – closes this crossing. And there’s also an attempt to blame the siege, the Israeli siege on Gaza, on Egypt, even though it has – Israel has closed six crossings and is responsible for the siege. Can there be some clarification with respect to the Rafah Crossing, and will it continue to be closed in the coming days?

FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY: (Via interpreter.) Thank you. With respect to Rafah Crossing, I have repeatedly responded to this, but it seems no one is listening. Rafah Crossing is open continuously and at all times, but it has to be under regulation related to Egyptian policy, and it’s also related to the situation in Sinai. But it is open, and it receives constantly and permanently, around the clock, people from the Gaza Strip for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, and more than 600 or 700 tons of food and medical material have crossed. And the crossing has never been tied or linked to any kind of siege on the Gaza Strip.

The six Israeli crossings that you referred to, they have to be operational. And the responsibility of Israel as an occupation authority is what – it is the responsibility of Israel, and we have called for this in our initiative, that the Israeli crossings need to be open so that the needs and the humanitarian needs of the Gazans should be met, and so that also normal life would be restored to the Gaza Strip. I hope that this response will be widely shared and it’s clear without any attempt to internationalize or to misinterpret the situation.

SECRETARY KERRY: Actually, I think a great deal has been moved in the course of the last days. Though it doesn’t meet your eye yet, those of us who are working this have a feeling that gaps have been significantly narrowed on certain things, but obviously not everything yet.

And in fairness, it’s important to say that, yes, Israel had some questions or even opposition to one concept or another concept – that doesn’t mean to a proposal by any means – at an early stage of discussion. But most importantly, I think it’s important to note that in Ramadan, when everything is on a different schedule, it’s more complicated to be able to have some meetings, particularly when I am mediating between different people who talk to different people. And it’s secondhand, thirdhand, it takes longer. So there’s a certain time consumption in all of that.

But I’m not a – I’m not somebody who I think is going to stand here and misinterpret the difficulties. At the same time, I can recognize progress when I see it and a concept that has taken shape. And I think my colleagues would agree there’s a fundamental concept here that can be achieved if we work through some of the issues of importance to the parties. That’s the art, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen overnight or as quickly as you’d like. But it doesn’t mean it can’t.

And so – by the way, it’s not seven hours; it’s 12 hours with a very likely extension of another 12, hopefully for 24, but we’ll see. The proof will be in the pudding on that. And on the peace process, I’ve purposely tried not to start pointing fingers and getting involved, because to us, the process is not over. It hasn’t stopped, and it doesn’t help to be starting to point fingers. What you have to do is figure out, okay, where do you go from here and how. In the course of this conflict right now, I would respectfully suggest to you there are some very serious warnings about what happens when you don’t have that process, and what happens if you’re not working effectively to try to achieve a resolution of the underlying issues.

This is about the underlying issues. And what we need to do is get through this first. It’s a little surrealistic in the middle of this to be talking about the other process, but those people who have been at this for a long time, my colleagues here and others, absolutely know that that is at the bedrock of much of the conflict and the trouble that we all witness here and that is going to have to be resolved if there is a chance of peace, and we believe there is.

Egypt has been a leader on that. Years ago, Egypt took extraordinary risk, and we all know what the consequences were. Egypt made peace, and it has made a difference. And the truth is that today there’s a great commitment here and elsewhere in the region to be able to get back to the process and try to address those underlying issues.

So it’s not gone. It’s dormant for the moment. It’s in hiatus because of the events that are taking place. But the leaders I’ve talked to tell me that what they’re witnessing now and what they’re seeing now has reinforced in them the notion that they needed to get back to that table as soon as possible and begin to address those concerns.

I don’t know if you want to say anything on that.

SECRETARY GENERAL AL-ARABY: (Via interpreter.) Certainly, with respect to the peace process, we call for the resumption of negotiations under U.S. sponsorship. Based from the point we have – it has stopped at, we do not want to go back to the beginning, but several accomplishments have been made on several issues. And we have to build on this progress in order to reach our ultimate goal, which the entire international community has agreed to: the two-state solution, a Palestinian state on Palestinian land with East Jerusalem, and this is the final solution to this conflict. And this will give the Palestinian people a chance to have a normal life away from killing and destruction, and to also fulfill its aspirations – the aspirations of the Palestinian people in the region, and will also ultimately lead to a final end to the conflict.

MODERATOR: (Speaking in Arabic, not interpreted) at CBS, Margaret Brennan.

QUESTION: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, given the protests that we’ve seen in the West Bank over the past 24 hours, which resulted in at least one fatality, do you believe – do you fear that a third intifada is about to happen? And could you clarify – when you said that there’s a difference of terminology in regard to these negotiations, that sounds technical rather conceptual. Can you clarify what you meant there?

SECRETARY KERRY: I can, but I won’t. (Laughter.) I think it’s important to let us work quietly on those things and not put them out in the public domain, but I applaud you for a worthy try.

With respect to the incidents and events on the West Bank, I have learned not to characterize something ahead of time or predict it, and I’m not going to now. But I do know that the leaders I’ve talked to in Israel, in the West Bank, in Jordan are deeply concerned about what they are seeing right now. And it is very, very necessary for all of us to take it into account as we think about the options that we have in front of us. It’s just enormously disturbing to see this kind of passion find its way into violent protests, and in some cases not violent.

But we need to address – it’s a statement to all of us in positions of responsibility, get the job done, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks.


[1] Max Steinberg’s mother’s name is Evie Steinberg, and Naftali Fraenkel is the name if the murdered American and Israeli teen.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

July 22, 2014
Friends,“In each pause I hear the call”
Ralph Waldo EmersonThis quote has been especially front of mind this year because LRN, the company I have devoted my life to building, is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and milestones are perfect occasions to pause. Pausing and mindfulness are in vogue in the world today; there is even a meditation room in Newark airport. However, we can go so much deeper in our pauses than merely taking respite from the frenzied pace of life. As I wrote in FastCompany, “Why There’s More to Taking a Break than Just Sitting There,” pausing is essential in the 21st century, because it is what allows us to thrive in an interdependent world in which we need to think deeply about how every action we take affects others, reconnect with our values and purpose, and, from there, to re-imagine our future. It is in that spirit that I invite you to pause with me.

As a parent of two small children, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to help them grow into thoughtful, ethical people. A critical piece of this is teaching them right and wrong and how to atone when they behave badly. It is easy to inadvertently teach children to treat apologies as verbal escape routes out of a problem. It is much harder to teach them to treat an apology as a moment to pause, reflect and take responsibility for the behavior that led to the act for which they are contrite.

It is a problem endemic to our society; we have an apology inflation on our hands, as it has become habitual – in business, politics, entertainment, sports – to churn out one knee-jerk apology after another in response to a public mistake. In reaction to this trend, New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin and I have partnered to launch The Apology Project in the Dealbook section of the Times. The goal of the project is to elevate the conversation about apologies so that people view them as meaningful opportunities to change behavior, instead of as “get out of jail free” cards, through profiles of meaningful apologies and crowd-sourcing surveys of recent apologies.

 

Of course, parents know that the real key is to inculcate the right values in our children so that they will rely on these values to make decisions, hopefully preventing misbehavior in the first place. As hard as it might be to do this in the context of a family unit, it is even harder to do at the scale of a global corporation. This is why the work of LRN and our partners in the ethics and compliance industry is so meaningful. In our annual Knowledge Forum, where LRN gathers its partners together for learning and discussion, we reflected on how our mission is to enable employees to pause, that is, to reflect on their values, the law, and the consequences of their action or inaction (e.g. before taking a bribe, when witnessing misconduct). Ethics and compliance officers are in the “pause” business, but they aren’t alone. Anyone who is trying to provoke reflection, re-assessment, and re-imagination is in the “pause” business; it is, in fact, what leaders do. Leaders pause for themselves and create contexts in which others can pause. 

 
To pause is fundamentally human. Machines are automated and keep going unthinkingly; humans have the freedom to re-imagine and pivot to a different path. To pivot is to plant one foot on the ground and move the other foot in a new direction. To “pivot” in business, especially in Silicon Valley, means to radically shift your strategy and business model, usually because of shifts in market or customer feedback. Twitter used to be a podcast-discovery company, and PayPal used to be meant for “beaming” money between PDAs before they pivoted and landed on the right business model. Silicon Valley is truly the birthplace of the pivot, and, as I said to the crowd onstage while I was talking with Tom Friedman in this year’s Next New World Forum in San Francisco, pivoting requires pausing. To pivot is to ground one’s self in one’s beliefs, convictions and values while re-imagining a new direction that adapts to a changing world. We only have the freedom to pivot when we allow ourselves to embark on a true journey. It is when we try to follow linear calendars and budgets that we lock ourselves into our plans and operate on autopilot. 
 

More and more people are pausing to assess and re-imagine the direction in which many institutions are headed, including capitalism itself. Of course, most remain firm believers in capitalism as the best economic system for generating prosperity, but many are, nevertheless, acutely aware of its current problems (i.e. growing income inequality) and grasp the need to move capitalism in a new direction. The leaders behind Inclusive Capitalism, Conscious Capitalism (whose annual conference I had the honor of keynoting this year), Creative Capitalism, Responsible Capitalism and Capitalism 2.0 are re-imagining business in a way that is much more conscious of all stakeholders and the operating environment. Some are worried about the abuses of freedom in a free market system and want to restrict people’s freedom, but that is because they are operating from a one-sided view of freedom. Freedom is really an intricate dynamic between “freedom from” (top-down hierarchy, gatekeepers) and “freedom to” (collaborate, innovate, pursue meaning, do the right thing, etc). It is this dynamic of freedom that ought to be at the heart of free enterprise. This is not just a philosophical distinction. In LRN’s biggest study since the HOW Report, the Freedom Report shows that the companies that have the right balance of freedom are more likely to outperform, out-innovate, and be resilient for the long run.

 

Beyond capitalism, people are re-imagining every dimension of society. The National Football League (NFL), for instance, is pausing to re-define the recipe for winning. Instead of training players solely as tough performers, the League is endeavoring to infuse locker rooms with human values such as respect and collaboration, where a player can bring his whole self, as a “person, father, and husband.” LRN is honored to have the opportunity to be a part of their journey. The League isn’t the only “rough and tumble” organization that is rethinking the culture in which its people are formed.

 

Confronted with the demands of modern warfare, the U.S. Army is also re-imagining and reshaping basic training in a way that trains soldiers to pause and think critically before making decisions, instead of just following orders. Even “discipline” is being re-imagined, for as my friend Lieutenant Colonel JC Glick said, “Discipline is not about being on time. Discipline is about doing the right thing at the right time.” The world has become so relationally interdependent and complex that we are forced to hit the “pause button,” to re-imagine and re-steer the direction in which our revered institutions – capitalism, the NFL, our military – are moving.

 

How do we begin to pause? Aristotle said that excellence is not a single act but a habit. The best way to pause, then, is to begin to form habits of pausing at a young age, which is why we are working with universities to introduce the “HOW” philosophy. The NROTC program at Miami University of Ohio is creatively adopting the HOW philosophy to train emerging Navy and Marine leaders in approaching ethical dilemmas. Elsewhere in the academy, Israeli students at Tel-Aviv Yaffo College are partnering with companies to conduct culture assessments, North Dakota State University students are running HOW workshops with representatives from academic departments, and Baruch College, a senior college of the City University of New York system, has partnered with us and declared 2014 the Year of the HOW. We are planting seeds in the next wave of leaders by enabling them to pause from the hustle-and-bustle of testing and build moral character—it is hard to think of a more meaningful endeavor.
 
 
Thank you for allowing me to share with you what has been on my mind in the past few months. I welcome any comments, questions or feedback, and I would love to hear from you as to where you are in your journey as well.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dov Seidman

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

NEW YORK – President Bill Clinton, Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton announced the program and participants for the 10th Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, to be held September 21-24 in New York City, where more than 1,000 of the most influential leaders from business, government, civil society and philanthropy will convene around the theme of “Reimagining Impact.”

President Clinton established the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, to bring leaders together from all sectors of society to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges by turning their ideas into action.

Participants turn their ideas into action through the creation of “Commitments to Action” – new, specific, measurable plans to address these challenges. Since the first CGI Annual Meeting in September 2005, more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs and major philanthropists have participated in CGI’s Annual Meetings, and members of the CGI community have made more than 2,900 commitments which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries.

For the first time, CGI has evaluated and will share comprehensive data collected from the commitments made over the past 10 years to highlight the most effective approaches and analyze trends in an effort to help CGI members maximize the impact of their work and identify critical gaps to be addressed.

Featured participants in the meeting include President Barack ObamaHis Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Peter Agnefjäll, President and CEO, IKEA Group; Mohammad Parham Al Awadhi, Co-founder, Peeta Planet; Peyman Parham Al Awadhi, Co-founder, Peeta Planet; Reem Al-Hashimy, Minister of State, United Arab Emirates;  Mary Barra, Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company; Amy Bell, Head of Principle Investments, JP Morgan Social Finance; Matt Damon, Co-founder, Water.orgAdam Davidson, Co-founder, NPR’s Planet Money; Denis O’Brien, Chairman, Digicel; Paul Farmer, Co-founder, Partners in Health, Chief Strategist, Harvard Medical School; Melinda French Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Fadi Ghandour, Founder and Vice Chairman, Aramex; Jay Gould, President and CEO, American Standard Brands; María José González, Executive Director, Mesoamerican Reef Fund; Alexander Grashow, Founder, The Adaptist; António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Former Prime Minister of Portugal; David Hertz, Founder & CEO, Gastromotiva; Jane Karuku, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA); Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, the Coca-Cola Company; Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group; Nicholas Kristof, columnist, The New York Times; Dymphna van der Lans, Chief Executive Officer, Clinton Climate Initiative; Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group; Christopher Mikkelsen, Founder and Co-CEO, Refugees United; Jay Naidoo, Chair of Board of Directors and Partnership Council, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN); Tammy Newmark, President and CEO, EcoEnterprises Fund; Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive Officer, Big Society Capital; Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Chairman, The Paulson Institute, Former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States; Norma Powell, Director General, Haiti Center for Facilitation of Investments; Becky Quick, Co-anchor, Squawk Box, CNBC; Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, Former President of Ireland; Judith Rodin, President, The Rockefeller Foundation; Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM; Charlie Rose, Host, “Charlie Rose Show”; Nilofar Sakhi, Executive Director, American University of Afghanistan; Howard-Yana Shapiro, Chief Agricultural Officer, Mars, Incorporated, Senior Fellow, Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, Distinguished Fellow, World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi; Lucy Martinez Sullivan, Executive Director, 1,000 Days; Mark Tercek, President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy; Ashish J. Thakkar, Founder, Mara Group and Mara Foundation; Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark; Rosemarie Truglio, Senior Vice President, Global Education Content, Sesame Workshop; Hans Vestberg, President and CEO, Ericsson; Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation; Gary White, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Water.org; and Muhammad Yunus, Chairman, Yunus Social Business – Global Initiatives.

Key parts of the program at the 2014 CGI Annual Meeting include sessions such as:

  • Reimagining Impact, which will highlight the ideas and actions of CGI members over the last decade, explore how members measure and assess the outcomes of their commitments, and bring forth new ideas for CGI members to achieve greater impact going forward;
  • Confronting Climate Change is Good Economics, will explore opportunities to assist in the financing of conservation efforts, help unlock the capital required to accelerate investments towards a low-carbon economy, and reinforce the critical role of women in adapting to climate change;
  • Valuing What Matters, in which leaders can identify social and environmental indicators and measurement systems that can be implemented in public, private, and non-profit sectors, simultaneously assessing how best to capture non-quantifiable outcomes and use big data for social good;
  • Putting Education to Work, in which participants can collaborate across sectors to create education to employment pathways for young people and adults;
  • Equality for Girls and Women: 2034 instead of 2134?, which will examine the progress made since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and explore opportunities to accelerate the social and economic participation of women, who at current rates of progress won’t comprise half of the world’s leaders until 2134; and
  • The 8th annual Clinton Global Citizen AwardsTM, which will kick off the meeting with a ceremony to honor individuals in civil society, philanthropy, public service and the private sector whose efforts to create positive social change transcend borders, change lives, and set an example for others.

About the Clinton Global Initiative:
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 180 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,900 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries.

CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.

CGI recently announced its first global challenge to engage individuals around the world in tackling the issue of youth unemployment. The challenge launched in partnership with and is hosted on OpenIDEO.com, an open innovation platform created by global design firm IDEO, which couples design thinking methodology with the scale of online social networks to solve the world’s most pressing social issues. One featured idea will be recognized at CGI’s 10th Annual Meeting in September. Individuals can participate in the challenge by contributing ideas, research and solutions at www.openideo.com/cgi.

To recoup:

President Barack ObamaHis Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein, King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Mary Barra, Chief Executive Officer, General Motors Company; Matt Damon, Co-founder, Water.orgMelinda French Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, the Coca-Cola Company; Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group; Henry M. Paulson, Jr., Chairman, The Paulson Institute, Former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States; Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President & CEO, IBM; Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation; and Muhammad Yunus, Chairman, Yunus Social Business – Global Initiatives among featured participants —— will be there.

Please visit www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/2014 regularly for the latest program details and confirmed participants. Follow CGI on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for meeting news and highlights, and use the official meeting hashtag #CGI2014.
Media registration will formally open August 18 and press planning to cover must be credentialed by the Clinton Global Initiative. Please send questions regarding media registration to press@clintonglobalinitiative.org.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

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