Le blog de Daniel Warner

  • Walking Thoughts

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    Some thoughts after a strenuous week walking 100 kilometers along the Northern Way to Santiago de Compostela, from Bilbao to Laredo:

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  • A Personal Story of Service Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

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    “Peace through pieces,” David Mittrany wrote. In a world of increasing violence, now even in Geneva junior high schools, one appreciates more and more small acts of generosity. For all the advantages of technology, there has been a loss of positive face-to-face interaction. Ordering with Amazon is not the same as visiting the neighborhood bookstore. Buying by catalogue is not the same as negotiating with a local salesperson. Calling out for pizza is not the same as being greeted with a friendly smile by a familiar waiter in your favorite restaurant. Driving alone in a car with the radio blasting separates one from any contact with the surroundings.

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  • Are Academics Academic?

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    The dictionary defines academic as “educational, scholastic,” as well as “not of practical relevance; of only theoretical interest.” After spending a week at an academic conference with eminent university scholars of international relations, I find it appropriate to question the relationship between the two definitions. Were the scholars and their scholastic writings “not of practical relevance” and “only of theoretical interest”?

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  • And Now Algeria

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    It has now been nine years since protests broke out across the Middle East and North Africa. After citizens took to the streets, the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen were deposed during the Arab Spring. What about Algeria - the tenth-largest country in the world, the largest in Africa and a country with the tenth-largest reserves of natural gas? Up until now, there has been no change of government since 1999, no calls for revolution despite a gross inequality of wealth and no overthrow of its leader. Understandably, Algeria has been off the media’s radar.

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  • Switzerland Refuses to Condemn Saudi Arabia: Its global status continues to be jeopardized

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    The recent meeting of the Human Rights Council and the current annual International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights justifiably put Geneva and Switzerland in the forefront of human rights. What other city, what other country has such a concentration of institutions, non-governmental organizations and events devoted to human rights? Geneva rightfully prides itself as being the human rights capital of the world.

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  • Trump: The Art of the No Deal

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    Last week Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed Master of the Deal, walked away from his second summit with the North Korean leader empty handed. There was no agreement on denuclearization and ending sanctions. For all the pre-meeting hype, there was no deal.


    What’s the big deal?

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  • Should detainees in Syria and Iraq lose their Swiss rights?

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    My son – an American who grew up in Switzerland and is now a bi-national - once asked me who he was. As I dismissed the question as being too complicated, he interrupted saying he was only asking about his citizenship. “Am I American or am I Swiss?” he wanted to know. The inquisitive adolescent wanted a clear definition of his public identity, something easily answered in legal terms but not easily answered in subjective terms about how one feels.

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  • New York, New York: A Resounding Victory for New York Over Amazon

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    As a New Yorker, I have always been fascinated by why New York Yankee baseball caps are so popular around the world. New York has a reputation, “We’re number one, baby,” that obviously has global resonance.

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  • Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity

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    Anglo-Saxon countries like the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia have historically been open to receiving refugees. My grandparents entered the United States with no passports via New York’s Ellis Island at the end of the 19th century. Brexit and Trump supporters’ chants of “Build That Wall” show how that openness has changed

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  • The Red Cross Crossroad

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    A recent interview in the Tribune de Genève with the director general of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Yves Daccord, and a letter/response from a former ICRC delegate, Thierry Germond, represent the tip of the iceberg of a crisis at the ICRC and within the humanitarian community. While a superficial reading of the arguments could be summarized as “tradition vs. change,” there is much more below the surface. 

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  • Ambassade and Switzerland’s Role in the American Hostage Crisis in Iran

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    There will be no celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the hostage crisis in Iran. From November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981, 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage in the American embassy in Tehran. The 444 days of captivity were the longest for this type of hostage in history and represented the beginning of hostile relations between the United States and Iran. The break-in of the embassy by 400 Iranian students and revolutionaries was a turning point in Middle East politics as well as the probable cause of Jimmy Carter’s defeat in the 1980 presidential election.

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  • Fondly Remembering Richard Nixon

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    The image of Richard Nixon waving his arms as he boarded a helicopter leaving the White house for the last time as president on August 9, 1974, remains etched in generational memories. The solemnness of Gerald and Betty Ford waving goodbye to the disgraced 37th president next to David Eisenhower consoling Julie Nixon was in direct contrast to the jubilation of millions celebrating his departure. No more Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady, Helen Gahagan Douglas, no more links to the un-American House Un-American Activities Committee, no more Watergate. Good riddance Milhouse, Pat, Roy Cohn, Bebe Rebozo, H.R. Haldeman and all that. Basta.

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  • Pierre Maudet’s Responsibilities

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    “Pierre Maudet must accept his responsibilities” has been a rallying cry of those who want him to step down as Conseiller d’Etat as well as for those who want him to stay. Although both sides use the same language, neither side has explained the nature of “his responsibilities.” Both sides agree, however, that since there is no rule in Geneva governing removal from office, it is up to M. Maudet to determine how he sees his responsibilities.

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  • Pierre Maudet, Unimpeachable Behavior and the End of Innocence

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    Geneva politics have been riveted by charges of unethical and potentially illegal behavior by Conseiller d’Etat Pierre Maudet. Should he leave office? Can the local branch of his political party, the PLR, force him to resign? After all, the head of the national party has already expressed her wish that he step down.

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  • Gilets Jaunes, Modern Junk Politics and Robespierre

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    During the recent holidays, I had the opportunity to listen to my French friends extol the virtues of the gilets jaunes movement. “We have had enough of the elitist rule that has left most of the French working class economically desperate,” Pierre said. “People have gone into the streets out of dire frustration.” Jean added; “This is not just a complaint about taxes, rather it is an uprising against the oligarchy that has destroyed democracy.”

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  • Je peux français comprendre, but I prefer to write in English

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    The recent kerfuffle surrounding the new Swiss minister of the economy Guy Parmelin’s command of English has generated numerous commentaries on the role of English in a country that has four national languages, but not English. Parmelin’s declaration; “I can English understand but je préfère répondre en français pour être plus précis” was even the subject of an article on page 2 of the New York Times. Is it necessary for important Swiss politicians to be fluent in English?

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  • Direct Democracy vs. Gilets Jaunes

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    The recent protests by the gilets jaunes in France would seem to have all the elements of direct democracy. For several Saturdays, thousands of citizens protested in the streets throughout France against the government, initially against an increase in the tax on diesel fuel. And they were successful. French President Emmanuel Macron suspended the gas tax increase as well as acceding to several other demands of the protesters. 

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  • 1968: The Year That Will Not Go Away

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    Few days remain in 2018 to celebrate and recall all the events on the 50th anniversary of 1968. Comparisons with the “gilets jaunes” in France have evoked some of the memories, but for those who lived through 1968 as students there are events permanently etched in our psyches that will not go away. For Millennials and the X Generation, 1968 is pre-history, ancient dinosaur time. For those who experienced 1968, it was a year of rupture and transformation.

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  • The Valais – of all places – Shows a New Politics

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    The reputation of the Canton of Valais has never been one of a hotbed of radicalism. Long dominated by the Christian Democratic Party, it is known for its conservatism and Catholicism. (Crucifixes are still hung in many Valais classrooms in public schools and the Church-run school in St. Maurice has long been an educational cantonal leader.) One doesn’t learn about Karl Marx or Antonio Gramsci on the slopes of Crans Montana or Verbier nor at the Foire du Valais in Martigny.

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  • Trump Supporters and Wrestling Mania

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    Taking a break from the usual television news broadcasts on CNN and BBC, I happened upon an emission of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) called WrestleMania. While the modern-day gladiators were performing in the ring, I started following the crowd, which was thoroughly energized. Hooting and yelling for one of their heroes or vilifying the obvious villains, they held up signs of love and hate. It was a binary moment of raw emotions.

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  • Does Switzerland Punch Below Its Weight?

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    Switzerland has always prided itself on being able to establish a place among larger countries because of its successful economy, historical neutrality and moral positions, including Geneva’s being host to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Human Rights Council. The comparative advantage of Switzerland, particularly international Geneva, as a unique platform for discussions such as the Reagan-Gorbachev summit during the Cold War or the Syrian peace talks have enhanced the Swiss image in human rights/humanitarian issues as a country that punches above its weight

     

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  • Is NATO Protecting My Granddaughter in Norway?

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    Like all grandparents, I worry about my offspring. As President Trump and John Bolton continually remind us, it’s dangerous out there. But these nights I am sleeping better. My granddaughter, age nine and living in Norway, is being particularly well looked after. 

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  • Are You Afraid?

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    Fear and security are headline items. In Geneva, attacks against the elderly are front page. In the United States, hordes of illegal immigrants are profiled approaching the southern border while primitive pipe bombs are sent to politicians and a killer attacks worshippers during a Sabbath synagogue service. In a suburb of Paris, a student holds a gun to the head of a teacher.

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  • Davos in the Desert: To attend or not, that is not the question

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    The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul amid published reports that he was murdered and dismembered by representatives of the Saudi government has caused a dilemma for many announced participants at a glittery investor’s conference. Is it the right thing to do to attend a meeting in Riyadh when doubts exist about Khashoggi’s assassination by orders of the royal family? How would it look for a leading businessman to be seen next to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when investigators are examining his personal role in Khashoggi’s disappearance?  

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  • Do You Drink With a Plastic Straw?

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    The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is alarming, to say the least. It maintains that the Earth has heated up 0.7 C in the last 120 years. That unprecedented rise in temperature, it found, is due to human activities associated with burning fossil fuels causing increased Co2 in the atmosphere. In addition to merely higher temperatures, the report maintains that the environmental consequences of food shortages, wildfires, violent storms, rising water levels causing the displacement of millions of people, the loss of most of the world’s coral reefs, etc. profoundly affect our daily lives. And the situation will only get critically worse as early as 2040 if we don’t reverse the trend.

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