CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, ended Saturday in Texas with a speech by former President Trump, after kicking off with far-right Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who just won a fourth term in office. Political scientist Kim Lane Scheppele says American conservatives look to populist leaders turned autocrats in foreign countries like Hungary, Israel and Brazil for strategies to undermine the constitutional democratic process and consolidate power. Orbán, for example, is sharing the “playbook” for “taking over the courts, developing a compliant parliament, shutting down all the independent think tanks, shutting down all the independent agencies of government,” says Scheppele.
The U.N. warned this week that humanity is “one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation” as tensions escalate globally. We speak with Ira Helfand, former president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, who says the U.N. Security Council permanent members, comprising Russia, China, the U.S., the U.K. and France, are pursuing nuclear policies that are “going to lead to the end of the world that we know.” We also speak with disarmament activist Zia Mian, co-director of Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security, who says non-nuclear weapon states must pressure other countries to sign onto the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
We speak with international affairs scholar Kim Lane Scheppele on the rise and fall of Hungary’s constitutional democracy and how Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has gained popularity among the American right ahead of his speech today at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “Orbán presents, especially for the American right, a kind of irresistible combination of culture war issues,” says Lane Scheppele. “These culture war issues in Hungary disguise the fact that underneath the surface Orbán has been changing the laws of the country so that gradually he has shut down all of the independent institutions that might tell him no.” She says U.S. Republicans are now engaging in a very “Orbán-like” campaign to rig elections so they win regardless of the popular vote.
Secretary-General António Guterres said that “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation. We need the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as much as ever.”
Making his remarks today (01 Aug) in New York to the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Guterres told member states that “the clouds that parted following the end of the Cold War are gathering once more. We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy. Nor is it a shield from geopolitical tensions boiling over into nuclear conflict.”
Guterres said that humanity is in danger of forgetting the lessons forged in the terrifying fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Geopolitical tensions are reaching new highs. Competition is trumping co-operation and collaboration. Distrust has replaced dialogue and disunity has replaced disarmament. States are seeking false security in stockpiling and spending hundreds of billions of dollars on doomsday weapons that have no place on our planet.
He added that almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are now being held in arsenals around the world. All this at a time when the risks of proliferation are growing and guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening. And when crises — with nuclear undertones — are festering. From the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. To the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and to many other factors around the world.
Guterres suggest five areas for action.
First, he said, “we urgently need to reinforce and reaffirm the 77-year-old norm against the use of nuclear weapons. This requires a steadfast commitment from all States Parties. It means finding practical measures that will reduce the risk of nuclear war and put us back on the path to disarmament.”
Guterres continued, “we need to strengthen all avenues of dialogue and transparency. Peace cannot take hold in an absence of trust and mutual respect.”
Second, reducing the risk of war is not enough, he said.
The UN chief explained, “eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee they will never be used. We must work relentlessly towards this goal. This must start with new commitments to shrink the numbers of all kinds of nuclear weapons so that they no longer hang by a thread over humanity. And it means reinvigorating — and fully resourcing — our multilateral agreements and frameworks around disarmament and non-proliferation, including the important work of the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
Speaking in French, Guterres said the third action is to “address the simmering tensions in the Middle East and Asia. By adding the threat of nuclear weapons to enduring conflicts, these regions are edging towards catastrophe. We need to redouble our support for dialogue and negotiation to ease tensions and forge new bonds of trust in regions that have seen too little.”
Fourtt is to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology as a catalyst to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, including for medical and other uses.
Guterres reiterated that when used for peaceful purposes, this technology can be a great benefit to humanity.
And fifth, the international community needs to “fulfill all outstanding commitments in the Treaty itself, and keep it fit-for-purpose in these trying times.”
The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.
More than one million people are at risk of falling into famine in Haiti according to the World Food Programme, as the UN agency’s donations brought respite to a drought-stricken town in the country’s northwest. (Aug. 9 Pierre Luxama)
Jackie Alemany, political reporter for the Washington Post, talks with Rachel Maddow about the FBI executing a search warrant on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, reportedly in connection with an investigation of classified material Donald Trump removed from the White House.
Welcome to Transition Studies. To prosper for very much longer on the changing Earth humankind will need to move beyond its current fossil-fueled civilization toward one that is sustained on recycled materials and renewable energy. This is not a trivial shift. It will require a major transition in all aspects of our lives.
This weblog explores the transition to a sustainable future on our finite planet. It provides links to current news, key documents from government sources and non-governmental organizations, as well as video documentaries about climate change, environmental ethics and environmental justice concerns.
The links are listed here to be used in whatever manner they may be helpful in public information campaigns, course preparation, teaching, letter-writing, lectures, class presentations, policy discussions, article writing, civic or Congressional hearings and citizen action campaigns, etc. For further information on this blog see: About this weblog. and How to use this weblog.
Calendar – Click on Date for links entered on that Day