19 October 2017   Leave a comment

The Spanish Government has invoked Article 155 of the Spanish constitution which allows the central government to take control of the regional governments in Spain in the event of a crisis.  Catalonian authorities consider the act to be a “nuclear option” which signals the end of the autonomy of Catalonia.  The move comes after the Spanish Prime Minister had demanded a clear-cut answer to the question as to whether Catalonia had in fact declared independence.  Catalonia’s leader Carles Puigdemont had instead asked for talks with the central government, and that answer was not deemed sufficient or effective.  Spain now faces a serious crisis which undoubtedly will defy an easy or painless resolution.

Carles Puigdemont 


Asli U. Bâli and Aziz Rana have written a powerful critique of American foreign Policy for the Boston Review.  Their critique focuses on how the shift from anti-Soviet policies in the Cold War to the counter-terrorism focus since 2001 has changed completely the justifications for the use of American power.  The shift, they argue, has pulled the US sharply from its traditional support for a liberal, rules-based international order:

“As the logic of anti-communism has come to be replaced by the logic of counterterrorism, U.S. commitment to a liberal transnational project has waned. Where the promotion of democracy once served as the go-to rhetoric of U.S. policymakers, the War on Terror introduced new priorities that often clash with even an aspirational invocation of global democracy. For example, Cold War support for anti-communist dictatorships was presented as transitional, a regrettable compromise on the road to democratization. By contrast, support for authoritarian rulers in the age of the War on Terror is effectively disconnected from even cursory calls for democratic transition. Rather, in a region presented as an incubator of terrorism, U.S. actions consistently aim to consolidate executive power, banking on pliable elites regardless of the implications for the liberal order. In the face of expanding doubts in Washington about the capacity of Arab and Muslim states to reform themselves, the goal is simply a pro-American and largely authoritarian stability.”

The analysis is compelling and well-reasoned and should force us all to be more self-conscious about how a series of small decisions can ultimately culminate in an unanticipated result.  While the essay does focus a great deal on the current administration, the argument extends through all the administrations since 2001.


Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has responded to US President Trump’s decision to not certify the Iran nuclear deal.  He is quoted in the Tehran Times in this manner: ““I do not want to spend time to answer the foul-mouthed president of America.  It is a waste of time that one wants to respond to him.”  CNN characterized Khamenei’s comments in this way:

“Of Iran’s commitment to upholding the nuclear deal itself, Khamenei said that ‘so long as the other side has not torn up the JCPOA, we will not tear it up either,’ he said, referring to the accord, whose formal name is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“‘However, if they tear up the JCPOA, we will shred it.'”
Reuters is reporting that European Union leaders have decided to support the JCPOA no matter what decision the US finally makes about the agreement.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei 

Posted October 19, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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