Le blog de Daniel Warner

  • The UN, Homeostasis and China

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    Vacuums do not last long in nature. In biology, homeostasis represents the body’s attempt to reach equilibrium. In a void, elements will flow towards spaces of less density until an equilibrium is reached. In political systems, the same phenomenon may hold true.

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  • How Democratic is Democracy?

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    I once had a wonderful boss who at the end of several management meetings that involved reaching a decision would announce: “I believe in democracy, one man one vote.” There would then be a pause during which we would all reflect on how we would vote. “I’m the man, this is how I vote. This is what we will do,” he would announce. Meeting ended; there had been a vote.

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  • What do Donald Trump and the Houston Astros Have in Common?

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    Donald Trump is the United States’ 45th president, a distinguished lineage that goes back to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. The Houston Astros are a major league baseball team and World Series champions in 2017, a distinguished lineage of great teams that goes back to the Yankees of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and the Dodgers of Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax.

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  • Can Roger Federer Beat Greta?

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    How much more is there to say in praise of Swiss icon Roger Federer? Biggest winner in tennis history with 20 Grand Slam titles; Olympic medallist and Davis Cup victor; often called the greatest player of all time (GOAT); devoted father and husband; elegant on and off the court and one the most admired athletes in the world. At 38 years-old he continues to amaze with two come-from-behind victories in the recent Australian Open at the twilight of his career.

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  • Charlie Chaplin and Truly Modern Times

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    Acrobat, musician, composer, clown, mime, movie star, director and producer, Academy Award winner for lifetime achievement, but still driven from the United States for his backing of the Soviet Union, Charlie Chaplin should need little introduction, except perhaps for Millennials and other late alphabet generations. He was the global star in the crossover from silent films to talkies, making an astonishing $10,000 a week during the Depression, with $150,000 in signing bonuses. Knighted by the Queen, Charlot was universally loved and admired.

     

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  • Donald Trump Successfully Wagged the Dog, and More

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    Although I have never seen Donald Trump with a pet, I do believe that he wagged the dog when he ordered the assassination of the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. The expression “wag the dog” comes from a 1997 film satire in which a president, caught up in a sex scandal, uses a war to divert attention from his peccadillo. It was released at about the time of the Monica Lewinsky/ President Clinton scandal and later U.S. bombing in Sudan. In Trump’s case, he more than wagged the dog. By ratcheting up tensions with Iran, he also increased his stature as commander-in-chief to the detriment of Democratic candidates and reinforced his image as a rogue head of state.

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  • Where’s the Message? Who’s the Messenger?

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    Progressives need to sharpen their message. The left - be it Socialist, Democrat or Labour - lacks a clear voice. The messages of an Orbàn, Erdogan, Kaczynski, Johnson or Trump have captured the times with little countervailing forces. How to respond?

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  • 2019 the best year ever? The street’s the place to go

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    “In the long arc of human history, 2019 has been the best year ever,” declared an eminent opinion writer for the New York Times. His statistical proof was that “children were least likely to die, adults were least likely to be illiterate and people were least likely to suffer excruciating and disfiguring diseases,” plus more and more people had access to electricity, running water, went online and moved out of extreme poverty.

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  • Is Social Physics the Answer?

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    Do you believe in Newton’s law that objects with different weights fall to the ground at the same speed? Do you accept that Maxwell unified electricity and magnetic theory to define the laws of electromagnetic waves? Do you recognize the validity of Russel and Darwin’s theory of natural selection? Can you appreciate the power of Einstein’s theory of relativity without understanding all its nuances? If you answer yes to all these questions, even if you are not a mathematician or physicist, then you are among those who see the importance of simple general theories that help us understand the world we live in.

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  • Can Swiss business and human rights co-exist?

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    Doing business with other countries and promoting human rights can and do go hand in hand, Swiss State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Pascale Baeriswyl recently told swissinfo.ch. According to Baeriswyl, the future Swiss Ambassador to the UN in New York and the woman in charge of writing the country’s foreign policy strategy for the near future, “you cannot sustainably have good business and economic relations if a country is in dire domestic shape. In most cases economic relations do not contradict other foreign policy goals.”
     

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  • The Hillsborough Football Tragedy: Who is Responsible?

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    Who was responsible for the deaths of 96 people and the hundreds injured in the collapse of stands at a soccer match in England in 1989? A jury at the Preston Crown Court in England last week exonerated David Duckenfield for responsibility for the Hillsborough tragedy. A 1991 inquiry said it was accidental and not caused by the rush of Liverpool fans; a 2016 inquest said it was disorganization and negligence by the police who ordered one of the exit gates to be opened, and David Duckenfield, the match commander for the local police, was judged not guilty.

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  • Three Presidential Crises

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    When I was invited to speak at a meeting a while ago about “my” president, I began by saying how honored I was to speak about Ueli Maurer, the current Swiss president. When the laughter died down, I tried to explain Donald Trump, my fellow New Yorker, as best I could. Now, sometime later, during the U.S. impeachment hearings, there are also serious questions being raised about what it means to be president in Switzerland. Ueli Maurer’s “autocratic world tour 2019” to Saudi Arabia, Russia and China (should we include his Oval Office meeting as well?) has made headlines. And there is even a debate in Geneva about a five-year term for the president of the Conseil d’Etat.

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  • Repentant Jihadists: What Does it Mean to Say, “I’m Sorry”?

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    “I’m sorry for what I did,” avowed a captured American apologizing to a journalist in a camp in northern Syria. “I now realize that I made a wrong decision,” he confessed. Was he hoping for some form of clemency? Was he hoping to be returned to the United States or to be defended by an American lawyer wherever he is tried because of his citizenship? Whatever the reasons for the apology - I assume we will never really know beyond his declaration – the case of apologetic, captured “jihadists” poses an ethical question.

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  • Sadako Ogata: A Deceptively Tough Lady

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    Tributes are pouring in for Sadako Ogata, who died on October 22 at age 92. The first woman and Japanese to be United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), she was also the former president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency as well as Japan’s first representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Although less than five feet tall, she earned the nickname “the diminutive giant” in fighting for refugees, the internally displaced, and even for standing up to the UN Secretary-General during the Bosnian war.

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  • Syria Talks: Is Jaw Jaw Better Than War War?

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    The opening of Geneva talks of a Syrian constitutional committee organized by the latest UN representative for Syria, Geir Pedersen, brings to mind the famous adage attributed to Winston Churchill; “It is better to jaw jaw than to war war.” One hundred fifty Syrians from the government, opposition and civil society are meeting in the city of Calvin to work on a document that will form the basis of a future “credible, inclusive, and non-sectarian” government.

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  • Is the Green Wave Sustainable?

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    The “Green Wave” in the recent Swiss elections is most impressive. Together with the Liberal Greens, they have enough backing to potentially ask for a seat on the Federal Council, upsetting the Magic Formula dividing the seven executive seats of the Federal Council between the traditional four ruling parties that has been in effect since 1959

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  • Greta the Disturber

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    Greta Thunberg has become an international figure. The sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist has gone from a lonely student skipping school on Fridays to protest for more action on global warming to being nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. Greta has become a global player. The New York City Board of Education officially excused over one million students from school if they participated in a Manhattan climate change protest with her. Students from around the world have joined her Friday protests.

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  • Sarajevo Library: A Passion for Reading and an Inspired Geneva Donation

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    Remember the Yugoslav wars? The wars ended in Bosnia in 1995 and since then – away from the headlines – countries like Bosnia Herzegovina have tried to reconstruct as best they can with little outside assistance. A Geneva citizen, Eugene Schulman, with the help of a few friends, has managed to breathe hope into a small but important part of Bosnia, its National and University Library.

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  • Richard Holbrooke: Present at the Demise of U.S. Foreign Policy

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    President Barack Obama and the Guardian described him as "a true giant of American foreign policy." Others, including the Economist, described him as the most influential and effective American diplomat of his generation. Richard Holbrooke was certainly present at most of the hot spots of his era: a young diplomat serving in Vietnam during the Vietnam War as well as part of the United States negotiating team in Paris; ambassador to Germany during its reunification; the leader who held out the carrot and brandished the stick that finalized the Dayton Agreement ending the Bosnian War, and the special representative of the United States to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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  • (Un)Usual Swiss Politics

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    Only in Switzerland? That’s what the protagonists claim. And it’s worth repeating the story to show how different Swiss political leaders are from some of their counterparts in the United States . Two Swiss German newspapers have revealed a most human story that it is marked contrast to the insults coming from Donald Trump during the U.S. presidential campaign.

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  • Some Thoughts on Updating Neutrality

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    Neutrality demands constant updating. For example: When Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis met his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz, did Cassis take sides in the Israel-Palestine stalemate? When rumors float in Israeli newspapers that they discussed an alternative to the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), did Cassis cross the neutral red line by favoring Israel’s position?

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  • School Recess and the “Friend Bench”

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    According to a recent article in the Tribune de Genève, a primary school in Eaux-Vives has decided to try to limit the space for soccer in the schoolyard to favor different types of games among students. This seems a worthy goal. At the least, it shows that attention has been given to what happens in the schoolyard between classes.

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  • Algerians Patiently Protest

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    On February 22, thousands took to the streets in Algeria to protest the ruling regime, triggered by the infirmed President Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth mandate. The April resignation of the long-time president did not stop the demonstrations. Au contraire: the demonstrations have continued. August 16, 2019, marked the twenty-six consecutive Friday of protests in Algiers and elsewhere in the country. For the moment, there has been no violence similar to clashes in France between the police and Gilets Jaunes and no obvious external interference. But no resolution of the crisis is in sight.

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  • Is Hong Kong Important? For Whom?

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    Hundreds of thousands in the streets of Hong Kong protesting the anti-extradition bill for now over ten weeks; thousands closing down the busy international airport; an influential British parliamentarian proposing to return UK citizenship to Hong Kong residents; Chinese students supporting the government and those supporting the protesters clashing in foreign countries; videos showing Chinese armored personnel and troop carriers moving closer to the border with Hong Kong threatening a military intervention.

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  • UNRWA Accusations: (Im)Perfect Timing

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    A damaging internal report has cast a dark shadow over the ethical behavior of top officials of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). As disclosed by Al Jazeera and AFP, the report cites "credible and corroborated reports" that members of an "inner circle" at the top of UNRWA, including Swiss Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, have engaged in “sexual misconduct, nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives.” The report was sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres in December.

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