The idea of ecumene, or “home in which we live together,” has existed around the Mediterranean Sea since ancient times. With recent events, the time is ripe for nurturing new – more pragmatic – initiatives between Southern Europe and North Africa
Paradoxically, in the age of globalization the sovereign state has reaffirmed its place in international relations. In order to continue to be constructive, however, national interest must adapt itself to the increasingly fluid geopolitical situation.
Tech bubble 2.0
Unlike the bubble of the 1990s, the recent surge is still limited to social media that process consumer information. And not all the new companies have figured out how to monetize their resources. Still, a spate of IPOs are preparing us for the big one: Facebook.
We are living in times of exponentially accelerating change – above all, in the technological sphere. New paradigms rapidly replace old ones, and by the time we fully grasp them, they already look terribly old-fashioned.
The geopolitics of religion
Religion has always served as either an expedient or impediment to political will. So the return of the sacred will by no means mitigate the many wildfires burning in the geopolitical landscape.
In Europe the most ardently practiced faith is now a foreign one. With too much freedom, Europeans feel threatened. Too much regulation, and the freedom rings hollow.
The rejection of religion by secular governments is now being reassessed. This, however, does not mean an end to the separation of the religious and political – not as long as the pluralist tradition can be maintained.
The modern world marked a passage in which faith, once imposed by whoever held power, became a private affair. Religion as instrument of public policy became a secular sin. Now, with religion in international affairs resurgent, a host of altruistic opportunities – in servitio Dei et proximi – accompany the obvious hazards of sectarian conflict.
Now could be the time to give a more concrete and democratic meaning to the vague and somewhat oligarchic idea of global governance.
Since 9/11, religion has become a glaring aspect of political conflict. In the face of upheavals building steam, both the Islamic world and the West will be forced to reexamine their cultural foundations.
A combination of sectarian conflict, economic decline and rivalry between regional powers is proving to be a major obstacle in achieving the democracy that protesters demanded.
The Middle East is home to Christian communities that have been there since long before Islam existed. Now, as has often been the case in times of political strife, they are fearful of being persecuted.
Despite Islam’s explicit antagonism toward non-Muslim political institutions, history shows that Islamic states have tended to be quite flexible and generally adapted their international relations to political and social realities.
The analogies between the establishment of Christian Democratic parties in Europe and rise of Political Islam in North Africa are too striking to ignore. Such similarities could provide a framework for dialogue and cooperation.
It remains to be seen if Islamic parties will be successful in promoting democratic values.
The European melodrama is far from finished. In fact, it is still very much a work in progress. However, if Europe decides to act as a soloist, rather than sing in a chorus, it risks alienating the US and intitiating the gradual demise of the West.
Democrats worried that Obama might not get reelected are now looking to Hillary as a possible ace up the sleeve. No one else enjoys as much popularity, and she can repossess many votes lost to Republicans.
India’s capital is exploding – in population, in wealth, and in creative energy. Paradoxically, India’s ancient philosophical tradition is helping to turn the city into an international center for innovation.
The biggest issue with nuclear energy is what to do with the radioactive waste. The European Union has tried to draw up some guidelines that will keep both Europeans and less developed countries safer.
Governments agreed to a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. To achieve rapid clarity, parties will turn their economy-wide targets into quantified emission limitation or reduction objectives and submit them for review.