Sunday Readings

On Sunday morning, a female suicide bomber killed as many as 14 and injured scores outside a railway station in the city of Volgograd, southern Russia, reports The Voice of Russia. In October, 6 people were killed in another bombing carried out by a female suicide-bomber.

Where Is Russia’s Foreign Policy Heading?

Fyodor Lukyanov, a columnist with Russia’s RIA Novosti, maintains 2013 was a sterling year for Russia due to “the increase in its international influence over the past year.”

He contends Russia’s leaders and the Foreign Ministry “deserve praise for their diplomatic skill and ability to achieve their goals. It is enough to recall Syria, Iran, the Customs Union and Ukraine” even though the international community continues to view Russia as a “decaying” country.

However, he adds, the domestic audience is less engaged in the course Russia takes in foreign policy, but that might and needs to change.

“The gap between foreign policy and national interests has yet to produce much effect, but it is these foreign policy successes that are making it obvious. Pleasing to the eye, they seem to hang in the air rather than be rooted in the ground. Neither society nor even intellectual circles have so far discussed at large Russia’s place in the world over the next few decades, or the country’s goals and means for development. Without this, the perception of Russia will only grow worse, both at home and abroad,” he concludes.

Even If We Can Engineer The Environment, Should We?
Eli Kintisch wonders in a piece in MIT’s Technology Review whether the costs of geoengineering would outweigh its potential benefits – a question many scientists are asking as technology advances.

He asks: if humans control the fate of natural systems, shouldn’t we use our technology to help save them from the risks of climate change, given that there’s little hope of cutting emissions enough to stop the warming trend?

It is a question taken on by David Keith, a Harvard physicist and energy policy expert, whose recent book A Case for Climate Engineering has created some controversy.

“Australian ethicist Clive Hamilton calls the book ‘chilling’ in its technocratic confidence. But Keith and Hamilton do agree on one thing: solar geoengineering could be a major geopolitical issue in the 21st century, akin to nuclear weapons during the 20th—and the politics could, if anything, be even trickier and less predictable. The reason is that compared with acquiring nuclear weapons, the technology is relatively easy to deploy. ‘Almost any nation could afford to alter the Earth’s climate,’ Keith writes. That fact, he says, ‘may accelerate the shifting balance of global power, raising security concerns that could, in the worst case, lead to war,'” he writes.

Eli Kintisch wrote the 2010 book Hack the Planet: Science’s Best Hope—or Worst Nightmare—for Averting Climate Catastrophe.

Ignoring Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis Will Come At The Expense Of Future Generations
Jim Murphy contends that ignoring the growing humanitarian crisis in Syria has an impact beyond the short-term and ignoring the reality could result in the loss of future generations.

“A generation of Syrian children without education would be a disaster for them, for their country, for the Middle East and for the international community as a whole. No-one wants to see that – and we have to everything we can to stop it from happening. Every humanitarian crisis requires the right blend of immediate relief and planning for the future. For the future security and prosperity of Syria and its neighbours getting children back in school is crucial. For young and old, the crisis in Syria has gone on too long, and it’s getting worse. Violence, hunger and disease have become facts of life for millions. More can be done to alleviate their suffering, and more must be done. Syrians cannot afford for next year to be just like this year,” he writes in The New Statesman.

Et Cetera
Christopher Caldwell writes in the Financial Times on why the world decided not to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics.




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