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Category: International Politics

Iran and the Downward Spiral of Transatlantic Relations

Written by Azriel Bermant & Wyn Rees

Image credit: Public_Domain_Photography (pixabay.com)

The United States and Europe find themselves in a growing crisis with Iran. The US is funnelling military assets to the region following a series of incidents that have caused damage to petroleum tankers in the Persian Gulf. Although Iran has denied involvement, many suspect that Tehran has been the instigator of these attacks. Adding fuel to this combustible picture is Iran’s signal that it will breach the threshold on nuclear enrichment that was imposed by the 2015 nuclear agreement. President Trump has indicated that he does not want war but others in his administration see things differently and crises have the potential to escalate beyond the designs of rational policymaking.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in International Relations?

 

Written by Vanessa Pupavac.

Martha:            Truth or illusion, George; you don’t know the difference.
George:           No, but we must carry on as though we did.

                                                Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened on 13 October 1962 under the shadow of the Cuban missile crisis and its literary interpretation has been shaped by the threat of nuclear war. I saw Albee’s play at the National Theatre in 1981, the start of the decade which witnessed the Cold War reignited politically and the threat of nuclear war renewed. The play had not been performed in London for a generation, but the film version starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had maintained its appeal.

Young people are detached from politics – schools can be the solution

Written by Anja Neundorf and Kaat Smets.

Young people have been turned off politics. Only four out of ten 18- to 24-year-olds made it to the ballot box in the last four general UK elections. In the last 20 years, the turnout gapbetween young and older voters has doubled from about 10 to 20 percentage points.

Many political, media and academic commentators have tried to understand why today’s youth seems more and more detached from public life – and what can be done to get them back in. Drawing on our recent study looking at children’s political engagement in Belgium, we found a simple answer: young people need to be taught more about politics in school.

Super Tuesday: Clinton and Trump lift off as rivals straggle behind

Written by Todd Landman.

The results of “Super Tuesday”, when a clutch of US states voted to choose the two parties’ nominees, have seriously ironed out both the Republican and Democratic primary campaigns. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton scored major gains, and their rivals are now fully on the ropes. It may be that the campaigns are finally stabilising after a truly wild start to the primaries.

Donald Trump has bounced back remarkably from his loss in Iowa. He went into Super Tuesday having won New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina; he’s also seen off experienced Republican candidates including onetime frontrunner Jeb Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – who has made the shocking move of endorsing Trump, to widespread disgust.

The cost of caste in India’s universities

Written by Diego Maiorano.

Last week I was supposed to give a couple of lectures at the University of Hyderabad, India. However, the students there – some of whom are on ‘indefinite’ hunger strike – had locked most university buildings and were not in the mood to let normal academic activity to be restored.

A few days before, on 17 January 2016, Rohith Vemula, a Ph.D. student, had hanged himself to the ceiling of one of his friends’ room, sparking off the students’ protest. In India, between 2007 and 2013, 25 students ended their lives on campus; 23 of them were Dalits (former untouchable castes) like Rohith himself. Indeed, his caste identity – which relegated him at the very bottom of India’s social order – is what brought him to kill himself. “The value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity”, Rohith wrote in a very poetic suicide note. A few weeks before, in a letter to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. P. Appa Rao, Rohith had suggested to equip all Dalits students’ rooms with “a nice rope” and to provide them with poison “at the time of admission itself”.

Europe wades into debate over Poland’s constitutional crisis

Written by Fernando Casal Bértoa and Simona Guerra.

Poland’s prime minister Beata Szydło recently found herself summoned to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to defend her government over accusations that its commitment to democratic values is on the slide.

This was an unprecedented meeting. The parliament had called a debate under the auspices of a law introduced in March 2014, giving it the right to question a national government if it thinks a systemic threat to democracy is about to take place in a European country.

In Poland’s case, concerns were raised over government plans to limit the power of the national constitutional court, and change the way the media is governed and civil servants hired.

2015: the year in elections

The following short articles come from academics with the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) and discuss the 2015 elections in Nigeria and Poland.  These blog posts form part of a wider series from The Conversation that discussed all major elections that year.

Nigeria: matters of urgency

Written by Catherine Gegout.

When Muhammadu Buhari was elected president of Nigeria in March, he certainly had his work cut out. Nigeria’s economy badly needs to be diversified; petroleum exports revenue represents more than 90% of total export revenue, even as only half of all Nigerians have access to electricity. Education is in a dismal state, especially in the north, where only 6% of children have primary education.

There have already been some promising moves. Buhari has renewed Nigeria’s beleagured fight against corruption, including oil corruption and both he and his deputy took a symbolic pay cut. He must now start honouring his promise to improve gender representation in politics. Currently, only 16% of cabinet members are women, and only 6% of senators and members of the House of Representatives.

Paul Ryan just accepted the worst job in American politics

Written by Anthony J Gaughan.

Republicans voted overwhelmingly to make Paul Ryan the new speaker of the House of Representatives last week, but the Wisconsin congressman has no reason to celebrate. He just got the worst job in American politics.

In theory, the House speaker is an immensely powerful office. Among other things, the House speaker controls when and whether legislation gets voted on.

But since the late 1980s, the job of House speaker has been a career killer for most of the people who have held the position.

And today the job is harder than ever.