Thursday News

Cosmopolitanism Is Admirable, But Not For A President
Damon Linker contends in an article in The Week that President Barack Obama’s failing as commander-in-chief is not that he has compared the Crusades with the current scourge of Islamic radicalism, or that he has travelled across the globe apologizing for actions taken by the United States. Rather, he argues it is his inability to understand that the President should lead, not preach.

“The problem is that Barack Obama is the president of the United States and not its professor in chief. It isn’t the president’s role to stand apart from and above the nation he leads, issuing supposedly even-handed, dispassionate, scholarly, objective, or prophetic moral judgments about the sins of America and Western civilization,” he writes.

He further contends that “morality is universalistic in scope and implication, whereas politics is about how a particular group of people governs itself. Morality is cosmopolitan; politics is tribal. Morality applies to all people equally” and that politics demands a narrow logic, while morality “dissolves boundaries” between communities.

After the attacks in Paris, many across Europe called for a clamping down on so-called hate speech, but Ian Buruma, a Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College, cautions global leaders not to respond to the threat of terrorism by regulating speech.

Noting that there are limits on speech in the sense that the First Amendment does not protect freedom of expression when it can be shown to create a risk of imminent violence, he says anti-Semitic views or denials of genocide do not rise to such levels.

“Xenophobic views, or the denial of genocide, are repellent, but do not necessarily result in such a threat. In most societies, including the US, the public expression of such opinions is limited by a rough consensus on what is socially respectable. This consensus changes with time. It is up to editors, writers, politicians, and others who speak in public to shape it,” he asserts.

Mass Rape Alleged In Darfur
Human Rights Watch today released a report that alleges Sudanese troops raped at least 221 women and girls in Darfur. The 48-page report documents Sudanese army attacks that occurred over 36 hours beginning on October 30, 2014. The mass rapes would amount to crimes against humanity if found to be part of a widespread or systematic attack on the civilian population.

“The incident is at the heart of a recent deterioration of relations between Sudan and the international community over a region gripped by violent chaos for more than a decade,” reports the Associated Press.

Suggested Reading: Managing Conflict In A World Adrift
Chester A. Crocker, Fen Osler Hampson, and Pamela Aall have co-written a new book which examines ways to resolve conflict in an ever-changing global environment.

In the midst of a political shift where power is moving from central institutions to smaller, more distributed units in the international system, the approaches to and methodologies for peacemaking are changing. “Managing Conflict in a World Adrift” provides a sobering panorama of contemporary conflict, along with innovative thinking about how to respond now that new forces and dynamics are at play.


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