Category: Journalism (Page 2 of 2)

Weekly Reading List: All about foreign policy Realism.

Hi everyone, been long we had a Weekly Reading List! Not weekly anymore, unfortunately, as I am busy with my work and research, but as Easter break is approaching, and I will be immersed full time in my PhD thesis, here’re a few articles which I want to leave you guys with, which I wrote in the last one month.

JIR2016_1First, the big one.

My research paper got published, titled “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?”: An Expository Study of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In Light of the Theories of Realism. (Journal of International Relations, Faculty of International Relations, University of Economics in Bratislava 2016, Volume XIV, Issue 1, Pages 58-92. ISSN 1336-1562 (print), ISSN 1339-2751 (online) Published 15. 3. 2016)

You can download the full paper here.

Aurangzeb_in_old_age_2Secondly, most of you would remember I wrote a comparative piece on how modern Russia is like seventeenth century India under the Mughals? I went a bit further and compared Putin and the medieval Indian emperor Aurangzeb. (Which, incidentally got a nice review here!)

I wrote two articles on Russia-Direct, the first one on how unlikely it is for Russia to actually invade the Baltics, and the second one on the fact that Russia and US is not in any New Cold war, but just a usual Great power rivalry with competition and cooperation happening simultaneously.

I also wrote one long essay for The Interpreter Magazine, on how contrary to popular belief, Obama is not a Realist…infact he doesn’t seem to understand what Realism in foreign policy means.

With regards to my weekly columns, here are they. 

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The Cost of Cambodian Citizenship

In July 2015, a North Korean man traveled to Hawaii, bought, and attempted to ship military goods to China. China is a common route for weapons transfer to North Korea, and Kim Song-Il knew what he was doing. Homeland Security agents arrested Song-Il, and sentenced him to more than three years in prison in late February for violating the Arms Export Control Act, a law that regulates overseas shipment of U.S. military items. Song-Il’s lawyer declined to disclose the fate of the Cambodian passport he used to travel to the U.S.

Kim Song-Il's law enforcement booking photo provided by the Weber County, Utah, Sheriff's Offiice

Kim Song-Il’s law enforcement booking photo provided by the Weber County, Utah, Sheriff’s Offiice

Although the Kingdom of Cambodia holds diplomatic ties with the rogue state, the fact that the government handed Song-Il a passport is still irresponsible. The man had ties to a company known for fronting arms to North Korea. Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni never should have stamped Song-Il’s immigration forms. Yet in September 2008, that’s exactly what he did. And, over the years, a number of suspicious individuals have been granted Cambodian citizenship. 

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Does Cruz use anti-Semitic dog whistles?

Washington Post op-ed writer Dana Milbank accused Ted Cruz of using “anti-Semitic dog whistle[s],” such as his attack on “New York values.” Does he have a point?

A lot of the phrases about “New York,” “Wall Street,” and “bankers” could be anti-Semitic in certain contexts, but they are also absolutely part of ordinary political discourse. That is what makes them potential dog whistles, after all, but it is also hard to say Cruz had any anti-Semitic intent or meaning with such thin evidence.

Milbank has to have a little bit of “chutzpah,” shall I say, to make this argument:

At an event in New Hampshire, Cruz, the Republican Iowa caucuses winner, was asked about campaign money he and his wife borrowed from Goldman Sachs. Cruz, asserting that Trump had “upward of $480 million of loans from giant Wall Street banks,” said: “For him to make this attack, to use a New York term, it’s the height of chutzpah.” Cruz, pausing for laughter after the phrase “New York term,” exaggerated the guttural “ch” to more laughter and applause.

But “chutzpah,” of course, is not a “New York” term. It’s a Yiddish — a Jewish — one. And using “New York” as a euphemism for “Jewish” has long been an anti-Semitic dog whistle.

It wouldn’t be the first time Cruz has been accused of using anti-Semitic dog whistles. What about his claim to support an “America first” foreign policy–the same slogan of Charles Lindbergh and those who opposed involvement in World War II?

But in this particular case, most of what Cruz said can equally be attributed to responding to Donald Trump’s equally nasty attacks. Let’s break down the points one-by-one:

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Few blog posts for your holiday weekend reading!

Well, I apologise for not being regular, hectic week. But here’re a few publications by me. It’s that time of the year. When we celebrate the birth of our Lord of Scientific Reasoning, Sir Isaac Newton. 12436640_10203967247220283_1423912340_o

On the ongoing battle of Ramadi. Just remember, this Christmas, there are men and women fighting and dying so that others can live for free.

On what IR theory tells us about what’s happening in South China Sea. (Psstt…it’s called Buckpassing)

On why Turkey and Saudi Arabia are a major threat to Western credibility when it comes to Human Rights.

On the top four takeaways from Putin’s annual Presser. Where he answered some “tough” questions by Russian journalists on about what perfumes he like and how men look up to him on villages. It was surreal to watch, like anything on Russia.

And finally, what according to me, are the top geo-political changes of 2015 and the top challenges of 2016.

That’s pretty much it from me to end this year…Merry Christmas from all of us! Have a wonderful time, with your loved ones! God Bless.


A girl named Sanaa Taleb – Part 2

Introduction in the fight of Sanaa Taleb

Sanaa Taleb in colours μ.μ.

Sanaa Taleb, a woman who resists forced deportation

The trial against Sanaa Taleb was postponed a month ago. Sanaa was handcuffed, accompanied by 6 police officers back to women prison cells for undocumented migrants Elliniko in Athens. (See our earlier coverage here

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Americans have the right to encryption devices

If you ban encrypted hard drives, only criminals will have encrypted hard drives.

In addition to its war on guns, the New York Daily News also has it out against encryption technologies that can protect the security of our information. Even though the San Bernardino terrorists didn’t use encrypted hard drives, the newspaper still warned they could have. But so can law-abiding citizens, and our rights shouldn’t be trampled just because of terrorists.

Its December 3 editorial “Making mass murder easy” says that access to both guns and encrypted hard drives enable terrorism. Somehow the problem of violence would be solved if only the government could clamp down on something we should have the right to, the thinking goes, and the government would of course make it work perfectly, keeping dangerous products out of the hands only of the bad people and not impacting anyone else at all.

Encrypted hard drives “can only be unlocked by their owners,” the Daily News dramatically warned, “Even if their owner has just been killed having completed a suicide terrorist mission. Madness.”

And what if their owner is, like most people, not a terrorist? Maybe they think that non-terrorists would have nothing to hide? Why don’t ordinary people just keep their drives unprotected so anyone—an overzealous police officer, a business rival, an ex-boyfriend—can steal it and easily look at everything on the drive?

What if the owner of the hard drive is not a terrorist, but rather a journalist who operates in an authoritarian country who has just interviewed political dissidents?

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B+D Exclusive: Journalist attacked, witnesses threatened at neo-Nazi Golden Dawn trial

The trial against Greek’s far-right and self-proclaimed fascist political party Golden Dawn started on 20th of April this year. From the beginning is marked with controversy. Sixty nine defendant members of the neo-Nazi political party, including its founder and leader Nikos Michaloliakos, as well as lower level operatives like police officers, navy officers, and school teachers, are accused of operating a criminal organization.

Called the most publicised trial in decades, it is bringing little or almost no interest in international or European media. (With the exception of few rare visitors, I am the only foreign reporter in the courtroom all the time.) It is also rare to see local media deeply involved in case, and at many hearings photojournalists are not present in the courtroom.

This is especially worrying because of escalation of threats and violence by Golden Dawn members in last three hearings (including the one yesterday). When defendant Giannis Kazantzoglou, who is accused of participating in the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn member, was identified by a witness, he responded in a manner that suggested threats of reprisal.


Most of the time, less than a dozen local journalists can be seen in the press area of the courtroom.

“You remember me from two years ago!?” Kazantzoglou shouted at witness Dimitra Zorzou

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Terrorism has a definition, and James Holmes wasn’t a terrorist

The New York Daily News has a cover out that calls political activist Wayne LaPierre, head of the gun rights advocacy group the National Rifle Association, a terrorist. This comes just a week after the New York Daily News published an article that quoted Planned Parenthood officials as saying “hateful language” caused the Planned Parenthood shooting.

Here’s The Guardian‘s Jessica Valenti putting the argument in the clearest way: “Do we really think that there are no consequences to claiming that abortion is murder, or that Planned Parenthood is an organization of money-hungry monsters selling baby parts?”

Think about that while see people calling the NRA leader a terrorist with his picture published right next to the faces of some of America’s most vicious mass murderers.

As for those mass murderers, only two of them–the Planned Parenthood Shooter and the Charleston Church Shooter–fall into the definition of terrorism, which is politically-motivated violence. The Sandy Hook Shooter and the Aurora Theatre Shooter had no discernible motives for their crazed violence. To say that they are violent lunatics doesn’t excuse them (murdering two dozen is evil for any reason); it simply is in accordance with the facts.

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Scoop: Greek media bungles “Acropolis in French Tricolore” story

All over the world we saw monuments yesterday evening lit up in the colours of a French flag. It was a gesture of solidarity with the Paris tragedy that shook the world.

The Greek Parthenon (commonly known as the Acropolis) was not an exception. Or was it?

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How Mary Mapes’ East Coast bias caused her downfall

Mary Mapes was the producer for CBS News when “60 Minutes” ran a piece on President George W. Bush’s Texas Air National Guard service in 2004 based on fraudulent documents that resulted in her firing. She wrote a book standing by the disproven documents, blaming the whole thing on conservatives, and now her book has been turned into the widely panned film “Truth” (Bloomberg View, The Atlantic, Powerline, Little Green Footballs).

The details of the scandal can be explored at the external links. The short version is that typography experts found the documents were mostly likely typed on a computer that existed after their purported date of creation and the source lied and changed his story multiple times. Powerline and Little Green Footballs were among the leading blogs in first exposing the documents.

Even Mapes, according to her own account, thought Bill Burkett’s bullshit story about where he acquired the documents sounded implausible. Conservatives like to talk about how the “elites” in big cities like New York City disrespect the “fly-over states” and especially the South. Sarah Palin–in an exaggerated example of this sentiment–talks about “the Real America” as if New York isn’t America and only small towns are. I think this sense of victimization gets to be a little bit too much at times, but in the case of Mapes, she wrote in her book that she seems to have an elitist attitude towards the “crazy” state of Texas that resulted in her downfall (quoted from her book via Bloomberg View):

As I sat listening to Burkett’s scenario spill out, I realized how truly ridiculous this sounded from our vantage in New York. But in Texas, one of the world capitals of ‘shit happens,’ a place where bull semen is worth its weight in gold (and the bizarre long ago became the mundane), I believed it was quite possible that Bill Burkett was finally telling the truth, the whole weird truth, and nothing but the truth. By God, in Texas, anything could happen.

Interestingly, Mary Mapes worked at CBS in Dallas, Tex. early in her career. She couldn’t have really thought Texas was unconstrained by the laws of journalism and of factual coherence, could she? Maybe she was just trying to contrive an after-the-fact excuse based on a romantic, poetic view of Texas that would work in a fictional novel or travel article.

But speaking of New York, what exactly is it about the city that makes her think everyone there is an upstanding gentleman who would never get involved in a conspiracy of politics and corruption? Were there never any mobsters in New York who made “shit happen”? What about the current presidential candidate from New York, Donald Trump? There’s a guy who shit talks about every journalist and fellow candidate on his side within 10 points of him in the polls. If wild conspiracy theories–that are just as plausible as Burkett’s story–are to be believed, he got into race at the urging of Bill Clinton. If Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee are emblematic of the worst stereotypes of small town America, then Trump is emblematic of the stereotype that New Yorkers are angry, conceited bastards with a chip on their shoulder who always want to pick a fight.

If her own explanation is to be believed, then she could have hung onto her job if she didn’t hold such geographically-biased views that tainted her judgment.

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