Stretching My Gambes

Posts Tagged ‘America

China in their hands

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Published in the New Statesman as an accompaniment to a piece by Anthony Giddens (08/02/2010) and the newstatesman.com (04/02/2010)

Shortly after entering office in 2009, Barack Obama tried to show his commitment to tackling climate change by appointing Dr Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning Chinese-American scientist, as energy secretary.

Clearly any agreement on a global framework hinged on Sino-US relations. In this regard, the year started well, with Hillary Clinton’s visit to China in February. She sought to incorporate climate change into talks about trade relations. This effort was reinforced by Todd Stern, the leading US climate-change negotiator, who travelled to Beijing in June to push for China’s participation in a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

However, climate change was pushed down the agenda at the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July, as each party sought reassurances regarding the other’s economic policies. With momentum gathering for the Copenhagen talks, both countries used September’s G20 summit and UN General Assembly to stress their commitment to combating climate change.

Expectations of a deal were raised further after Obama’s visit to China in November, despite a lack of firm pledges from either side. But in the blame game that followed Copenhagen, Washington and Beijing questioned each other’s dedication to finding an answer to climate change.

Written by Henry Smith

04/02/2010 at 16:37

Ahmadinejad is causing trouble again…

with 4 comments

Following all the debate as to who was or wasn’t going to attend, and what should or should not be included in the draft statement, the UN anti-racism conference in Geneva went ahead earlier today. 

Unsurprisingly, it was Ahmadinejad, the only head of state in attendance, who took the limelight. The label given to him by a far more astute observer than myself, ‘the Justin Timberlake of Iranian politics’, appears more apt the more I read about and observe this man. 

Ahmadinejad branded Israel a ‘cruel and oppressive racist regime’, claiming that the state of Israel was created ‘on the pretext of Jewish suffering’ from the second world war. Cue the exit of UN Ambassadors from predominantly European countries (the US was never there, probably because they knew they’d have to get up and leave anyway).

Alternatively, why not engage with the inaccuracy of his remarks? Why grant him the coverage he craves? I don’t think that Ahmadinejad actually believes what he claims, why not illustrate the inaccuracy for him. Encouraging and engaging with the right to freedom of speech only helps to denounce the fallacies that people construct; we need to demonstrate how and why Ahmadinejad is wrong. 

Had Netanyahu claimed that Iran was an anti-Semitic and racist state (which he has), he would not have received the same response from European dignitaries. The issue of freedom of speech appears again. In the international community it is only those that appeal to the dominant ‘Western’ norms and ‘truth conditions’ who are encouraged and granted the freedom to speak, whilst those who counter accepted norms and ‘truth conditions’ are too easily denounced. Ahmadinejad’s willingness to do this, and to question the legitimacy and behaviour of Israel, thus grant him legitimacy in the eyes of those still feeling the brunt of American, European and Israeli action in the Middle East and the Gulf, particularly those who see Iran as a bastion against the spread of Zionism in the Middle East, and the neo-imperialist policies of the US (Iran is popular in Latin America).

Ahmadinejad is an idiot, and his denial of the holocaust goes beyond disrespect, but the issues that his claims raise are valid regardless of the content of his speech. Anti-Iranian sentiment is encouraged by his behaviour but it also encouraged by the US, Europe and Israel, through rhetoric and policy, particular the neoconservative establishment in the US. The reality of Jews living in Iran is often overlooked; Jewish cemeteries in Tehran are not desecrated with schwastickas as in some Western European capitals.

As much as he graves the limelight and is perhaps to stupid to engage with the broader issues that his behaviour raises, it does raise important issues about the monopolisation of truth and freedom of speech in the international community. 

Whilst his statements are false and inaccurate, I just wonder if had someone else have raised them if the response would have been the same? Would JT himself have inspired such a walk out?

Written by Henry Smith

20/04/2009 at 23:59