January 2012

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Diplomats Discuss Bashar al-Assad’s Future as Syria Fights Rebels – NYTimes.com.

 

This is an important article on the stage we find ourselves in of the Syrian revolution. Russia’s defense to the last of the Assad regime is a significant political reality that points much more deeply to the problem and challenge of global, that is, Security Council consensus on matters of global governance when massive human rights abuses are occurring. We are still at a kind of Cold War impasse when it comes to the spheres of influence of the United States, Europe and Saudi Arabia on the one hand, and Russia and China on the other. The United States political narrative on such matters, and in such crunch times, runs something like this:

We the United States stand for human rights and democracy, and Russia and China only care about defending illiberal states and their sovereignty because …

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This article was originally published on January 18th here.

At the beginning of December 2011, the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University convened a meeting of over twenty world famous Islamic scholars and dignitaries together with over one hundred and twenty clerics from every province of Afghanistan. The event was unprecedented in the history of Afghan conflict resolution. Never before had anyone brought together the beleaguered Imams of the Afghan provinces, men who had stood up for peace and risked their lives to fight against the misuse of their religion. These men stood witness as colleagues, who dared stand up at Friday prayer and advocate for Islam’s commitment to nonviolence, for women’s rights, and for tolerance, were assassinated by radical forces in the region and neighboring states whose only purpose was to keep the war going and Afghanistan divided. Nevertheless, these men …

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We are facing the beginnings of a Cuban Missile Crisis moment in the Straits of Hormuz, and without the proper communications system to avoid a catastrophe, as David Ignatius has noted. Secret communications between President Obama and Khameini are an excellent idea right now, with the right back channels, but they should not be just about communicating red lines and threats directly and personally. They should also be about opportunities, and those opportunities must be kept the most secret of all, because of those who are breathing down Obama’s political neck, itching for war.

 

There is an ancient idea that if you want your enemy to make a move other than one that is suicidal that you must not surround him on all four sides, you must offer him a way out. If there is no way out, then the threats and aggressive maneuvers just escalate. There must …

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