International Press Syndicate

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Formerly Globalom Media Information . Communication . Publishing Agency Established in March 2009

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Photo: An optimist and a pessimist, Vladimir Makovsky, 1893. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - What you see depends on where you sit. There are the pessimists who see President-elect Donald Trump who said in his tweet about the need to engage in a new arms race. There are the optimists, sitting on the other side of the room, who believe the kind words uttered by President Vladimir Putin and Trump to each other mean that there well could be a new agreement on reducing their nuclear armories. 2017 will be a lot better than 2016.

When I wrote my history of Amnesty International (“Like Water on Stone”, Penguin, 2002) I was struck both by the staff and activists how positive they were, despite dealing with some of the worst horrors in the world.

Photo: Kaaba at the heart of Mecca. As the night goes on pilgrims visiting the Holy House. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - An abiding fear for Donald Trump is that the Middle East dictators' successors in power will be militant Islamists who once elected will stop at nothing. At one time in the presidential campaign he threatened to “nuke” them. Even though the secular-minded President Bashar al-Assad appears to be winning the civil war in Syria the Islamists will sit on his tail.

Violent-inclined Islamists point to the Koran and the Hadith to justify their violence. Indeed, there are sentences in both that are close to their interpretation. Even though they may hype up these passages and ignore other more peaceful ones the truth is that Islam does have a tradition of the hard school. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Muslims today don’t subscribe to it.

Photo: An early morning outside the Opera Tavern in Stockholm, with a gang of beggars waiting for delivery of the scraps from the previous day. Sweden, 1868. Credit: Y. Broling in Ny illustrerad tidning 1868. - Julius Ejdestam: De fattigas Sverige, Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - President-elect Donald Trump is about to make the American rich even richer with his plan to cut their taxes. A cause for shame. Nevertheless, the history of America is that poorer people have done better than is commonly thought over the last two centuries.

Today they have indoor plumbing, heating, electricity, smallpox and tuberculosis-free lives, adequate nutrition, much lower child and maternal mortality, doubled life expectancy, increasingly sophisticated medical attention, the availability of contraception, secondary level schooling for their children and a shot at university, buses, trains and bicycles, much less racial prejudice, longer retirement, a rising quality of the goods they buy, better working conditions and the vote.

Photo credit: Trump Company

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - Donald Trump is changing the right wing’s economic spots. He is doing what Franklin Roosevelt did at the time of the Great Depression by increasing government spending – although it was the rearmament brought on by entering World War 2 that was an even more important factor in lifting America out of the doldrums.

Trump is following what Hitler did so successfully before World War 2 when he rebuilt Germany’s economic strength with autobahns and industrial subsidies (not rearmament in the beginning, as is often said). He is walking in the footsteps of President Richard Nixon who when he changed course with a new economic policy said, “We are all Keynesians now”.

Photo credit: uatoday.tv

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - Trotsky, the one-time close comrade of Lenin, reportedly said, “You may not be interested in war but war is interested in you”.

This is how it seems to have been with President Barack Obama when it comes to his policy towards Russia. Having come to power with President Vladimir Putin open to a closer relationship after the aggressive pushing forward of NATO’s frontier during the time of presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Obama will leave the presidency with a state of hostility between the Russia and the U.S. that most thought had evaporated once the Cold War ended in 1991.

Photo: Adelie penguins in Antarctica. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - In 1772, sailing to the far south, Captain James Cook deflated the prevailing myth of Antarctica, that it was a temperate land, fertile and populated. Although he never landed on the continent he saw the vast icebergs, the frozen sea and the “worst weather anywhere in the world”. He wrote that “it is a continent doomed by nature” and doubted that man would ever find a use for it.

The words had not been long out of his mouth before governments started to make tentative grabs. The British were the first to make a move, claiming sovereignty on the grounds that the government needed to regulate commercial whaling.

Photo: Official portrait by Pete Souza of the Obama family in the Oval Office in 2011. (From L-R): Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Barack Obama, and Sasha Obama.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - An interesting question is what would happen to American foreign policy if President Barack Obama were allowed to have another four year term in office?

It would be a less interventionist presidency than what is about to become. This is not to say that I think the way Obama has handled the war in Afghanistan has been successful. Nor do I believe the attack on Libya was a sensible idea. Nor do I think the way he dealt with Russia and Ukraine in the last four years has been anything but counterproductive.

Photo credit: youtrube.com

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - I have a fantasy. Donald Trump wins. He goes to Moscow on his first trip as president and gives President Vladimir Putin a bear hug and they go hunting in the forest, Soviet style.

When they emerge they have shot a couple of bears and have had a good lunch laid out for them by acolytes at which they have discussed the matters of the world.

They give a press conference. They have decided to re-start negotiations on major nuclear arms reductions and both say they unilaterally are immediately ridding themselves of a 1000 missiles each.

A special "Kasab class" is part of Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)'s training module for its new recruits during which they are told about the mistakes committed by Ajmal Kasab during the deadly Mumbai terror attack. Source: IndiaTVNews

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - In the middle of September Pakistani militants moved across the “line of control” that separates Pakistan-controlled Kashmir from the Indian-controlled part. The two countries have been at loggerheads about the title to this gorgeously beautiful state, now bereft of tourism and much income, since independence.

In recent years guerrilla activity has died away and most observers thought that the Pakistani army was seriously clamping down on its own sponsored guerrillas. The indications were that the government truly wanted rapprochement with India. And India too with Pakistan.

Dar es Salaam ('The Abode of Peace') city skyline. Credit: Ali Damji | Wikimedia Commons.

Viewpoint by Jonathan Power

LUND, Sweden (IDN-INPS) - Africa up or down? After 10 years of quite remarkable growth across the continent most countries are experiencing a downturn, with average growth nearer 3.75% than 5% as before.

Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country with its largest economy, was at one time growing year after year at 7+%. Now it looks like it’s heading for recession and a growth rate pointing to zero. It has been hit by a six-fold whammy – oil prices sharply down, the effects of the great recession in the industrialised countries, the Chinese economy slowing, bad economic and foreign exchange policies under the relatively new president, Muhammadu Buhari, increased corruption under his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, and the war against Boko Haram in the far north.

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