Russia seeking to recover its national pride

Russia seems to have emerged from years of hibernation to wake up with a roar after a lull following its transitions from communism to liberalism. From its ancient history it was a source of fear to European powers, some of the events can be date to its attempted invasion by Napoleon and Hitler. After the Second World War, it was the turn of the USA to see it as a threat to its domination because unlike communist China it had the nuclear power that could destabilize the whole world.

Today, Russia is back again on the world stage with force, ready to stand up to the West, particularly the USA. Its economy is doing well compared to the Soviet era when even getting basic commodities like bread meant standing in long queues for hours. Now Russia is buzzing with new economic activities making the Russians feel in their best times after years of miserable communism in which there was scarcity of personal freedom and access to basic commodities. Russia is now more an open society, although democracy in it still has the flavour of Stalinism. Russians seem to like a strong leader as Western style democracy is of second importance compared to that of good life.

Russia today has more weapons to confront the West. It has the weapon of oil and gas on which Europe is heavily dependent. It is starting to modernise its army while being one of the biggest suppliers of weapons in the world.

So Russia under whatever political regime will be of concern to the West because historically it has rarely allied itself with a foreign country. Russia had tsars, followed by communist leaders – the most notable of which are Lenin and Stalin- now it has democratically elected leaders – from Boris Yeltsin to Vladimir Putin. But it remains the country that seeks opportunity to come back with force. It had weak and strong moments. The fall of communism and its replacement by liberalism was a moment of “introspection” and “faux pas”.

Today, Russia is seen by many as the new force that can create a new geopolitical balance worldwide. Russians, like any strong powers, are after their own interests. Their new liberalism is an excuse to disengage from old style propaganda. Russia isn’t seeking to topple the regimes of the world but simply to have a strong hold on the world stage. Like a (solitary) bear, it likes to keep roaming on its territory without allowing any foreign invasion. This explains why the USA likes to have a NATO army at its door without seeking to set foot in it because Russia, despite its old army in terms of equipments, still has the strong arm to defend itself.


The pains and joys of motherhood

Parenthood, be it motherhood or fatherhood, is a big challenge in modern times. It involves big responsibilities and sacrifices. Parents should be able to get closer to their children. The best gain they can have is successful children. Many parents, especially mothers, put family in the second place for successful careers. They think that children can grow normally if they are taken care of materially. The problem starts during adolescence when children find there is a gap between them and their parents. They can relate genetically but emotionally, each is drifting apart. Successful parenting means a balance between family responsibilities, professional ambitions and the enjoyment of personal freedom. Each complements one another for self-gratification. It is naturally rare to find someone ready to be childless, jobless and morbid. Such conditions are just imposed by circumstances.

Good motherhood doesn’t mean being overprotective. Children also need a degree of independence. Mothers shouldn’t kill their children with protection and kindness. They should realistically be good mothers. What matters is the emotional bond between them and not the ongoing physical contact. In poor countries, it’s normal to see children in group outside roaming in the streets or playing in their neighbourhood without their parents constant watchful eyes. Children can cope among themselves. Parents’ role resides in guiding them without being too much authoritarian.

Mothers, in general, should defend their rights for equality and success but not at the expense of the rights of their children. They should have the ability to balance between their professional and motherly roles without neglecting the opportunity to enjoy the other sides of life.

George Bush and net distribution

Morocco is one of the first countries to recognise the Independence of the USA. Their relations date back to 1787. It is one of its strategic allies. Up to now, no American president in office has ever visited Morocco since its independence, except for Roosevelt in 1943 and Bill Clinton for the funeral of late King Hassan the Second. They visited it only when they left office as tourists. It is not included in their agenda when they make a tour of the Middle East or Africa.

Morocco has a long fishing coast rich with fish of many varieties. George Bush on his tour of Africa, offered mosquito nets. I hope that when he comes to Morocco he will offer fishermen modern fishing nets!!!!!!

The moral implications of recruiting doctors from poor countries

A group of international medical experts has said that so many African health professionals are being recruited by Western countries that the practice should be viewed as a crime.

They say, for instance, that more than 13,000 doctors trained in sub-Saharan Africa are now practicing in Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia, and that they’re leaving behind are healthcare systems that can’t cope.

Health care in developing countries leaves much to be desired. Hospitals are short of modern equipments. Medicines are expensive. Poor patients resort to traditional medicine as it is cheaper.

In Morocco, the ratio of doctors is one to every 10,000 people. There are areas short of well-equipped hospitals for childbirth and surgical operations. Patients have, sometimes, to travel hundreds of kilometres, to get medical check-up and diagnosis. Ironically, there are many people trained in nursing who are still unemployed. Those with training have to undergo a test for the selection of just a few of them. Some cases were registered in which there were some hospitals with doctors and no equipments as there were hospitals with medical equipments and no doctors!

In poor countries, there can be many reasons for doctors to migrate. There are the conditions in which they work. The hospitals where they work are ill-equipped. The salary is small and the load of work is heavy. Some are sent to work in impoverished areas in their countries. There is a sense of frustration because there is little they can do to help the patients as they have no equipments to work with or hospitals are understaffed so the work is painfully carried out.

The West provides a full contrast where ambitious doctors can have the opportunity to evolve professionally and to have high living standards.

As doctors have an oath to save human lives, theoretically they should stay in their own countries to save the lives of their fellow citizens and not to migrate to the West to save the lives of those who can pay a much higher price. These doctors must have cost their country a fortune to educate them and finally they are offered to the West on a silver plate.

So what’s the compromise? As qualified doctors can’t be persuaded to stay in their poor countries while the West offers them the best opportunities, the West should work to train more doctors in poor countries and to build more hospitals. As there will a surplus of doctors in them, their recruitment won’t create a shortage in their countries. Governments should create incentives for doctors to stay at home by investing in medical projects.

Many people in poor countries die from preventable diseases. Others die from illnesses that can need simple operations. The medical staff needed is in the West enjoying prosperity. Health care is fundamental for prosperity. “Stealing” doctors from countries that badly need them is like transplanting healthy organs of a poor person in the body of a rich one to make it possible for them to survive.

There should be international regulations to govern such recruitments to preserve the rights of all parties. Making health services a part of international free trade, in this age of globalisation, will just deepen the gap between the healthy North and the aching South.

Pakistani elections and balance of power

The main party backing President Pervez Musharraf has admitted defeat in Pakistan’s elections .

The two main opposition parties, the PPP of late PM Benazir Bhutto and the PML-N, led by another former PM, Nawaz Sharif, have a clear majority.

Pakistan in the current international situation shouldn’t be ruled by the military or the Islamists as both are a threat to continuing democracy. Pakistan has paid a lot of prices to return to democracy. There have been violent incidents leading to the death of Benazir Bhutto. There should be national reconciliation through the implementation of democratic rules. The winning parties should work together to further stability in the country and not to give an excuse to the military to have full grip of power again or to the Islamists to mount protests and attacks, making the country one of the most dangerous in the region.

From the past events, Pakistan seems a resilient country; in that, despite political upheavals, the situation didn’t generate into a civil war.

Concerning the call for the stepping down of Pt Musharraf, it seems that this will create further tensions as in Pakistan the army isn’t ready for a full withdrawal from politics. Musharraf is now a civilian president but his background is military. There should be a harmonious working field among the basics powers in the country. He as a president can be a bridge between the military and the parties going to form a government.

The Pakistanis should congratulate themselves on having peaceful elections on the voting day after violent incidents prior to it. It seems that Pakistan s an emerging democracy is still far from having a “constitutional presidency” in analogy to constitutional monarchy. Looking for an alternative to Musharraf can just cause a rift between the major parties, as each will try to have one from its ranks.

What can bring full political stability in Pakistan is power sharing between the major parties and president Musharraf. Mounting a campaign to put him out of power can just create more political tension which Pakistan should do without after years of political turmoil.

The Pakistanis have been patient enough to “bear” with him since he came to power in 1999. The current parties should bear with him until he finishes his term for a smooth transition from military rule to democratic one.

How important is Russia today?

This article is in response to Anna Stewart’s question (one of BBC website producers) : How important is Russia to you, and why?

Russia has changed beyond recognition compared to its communist era, at least on surface. If Stalin and Lenin had to return to it, they would immediately rejoin their graves out of grief for what it has come to. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of Communism in this huge country, the Evil Empire, as it was called by late US President Roland Reagan, the US administration must have been rubbing it hands with delight. It was the end of the Cold War that put an end to the division of Germany and helped the emergence of new republics out of the ashes of the Soviet Union. The great beneficiaries were the Baltic States, which were under the dominance of Moscow since the end of the Second World War.

Russia under Vladimir Putin embraced liberal attitudes in full swing. Les nouveau riches never had it so good, making Moscow one of the most expensive cities in the world. Investors plunged in their economic ventures seizing the new opportunities. For more than a decade Russia looked docile to the rest of the world. It was like a puppet bear dancing to drums while the USA has become full-fledged lion threatening the rest of the world just with its roars.

But the puppet bear has now grown up, starting to show its claws and canine teeth by starting to show its challenge to the USA and NATO. Arms race has just begun to offset US military supremacy. The period of hibernation seems to be over. The Russian politicians seem to be still guided by the KGB mentality in that they act in complete secrecy only to rise for a knockdown directed at their enemies. Russian pride is still there. The Russians refuse to join the West, especially the EU and the US in policy making, preferring to keep their loftiness while waiting for the moment to become a new superpower in accordance with the world’s current reality. They no longer seek to export ideology as in the communist era but to have a strong hold on the world stage, among other things, through energy and military weapons.

Vladimir Putin is one of the rare popular leaders in Russia despite the economic difficulties, the abuses of human rights and the restriction of freedoms, not to mention the poor Russians who aren’t benefiting from the huge revenues from oil and gas. As he was the product of a communist era in which he was a dark personality, now as a leader he seems to have got the grasp of how to deal with the Russians for whom strong leadership is more important than democracy and with the rest of the world, especially the US he wants to remind that Russia that has historically been a powerful state is still there. Only the name, the flag and the anthems have changed but the Russian blood is still streaming with the same vigour. Some may laugh out Vladimir becoming a Prime Minister, after the next presidential elections. But for he Russians this can be a compromise for democratic process that doesn’t allow him to run for more than two successive terms and for those the majority of the public who want him to stay in power. (Maybe the Americans should learn from the Russians and make constitutional amendment to allow a president who has fulfilled his two terms in office to become the vice president of the next president!)

Russia has the potentials to be a strong country although this will make it have more enemies in the West. But to the delight of the US enemies like the Iranian regime, a strong Russia is a guarantee for survival. Although they know they can be used as tools to put pressure on the US, for them the gain is to have it on the alert because there is a power on their side.

In short, Russia in diplomatic terms, hasn’t changed a lot. It has just started to regain the power it has lost during the period of transition from communism to liberalism. Like a leopard, it doesn’t change its spots. Russian pride will continue. The old game with the USA during the Cold War will continue with different rules and on different fields.

BBC WHYS Calling!

Ros Atkins from BBC WHYS has kindly answered all my 13 questions to him about WHYS Show . Here are his answers:

1) Do you check the originality of the comments you put on the blog. Some may, although it is a very rare possibility, copy comments from other articles and attribute them to themselves?We don’t check every message’s originality but you can tell quite easily when someone is copying and pasting. If we spot that, it doesn’t get published.

2) There are some people who contribute on the blog without revealing where they are from. I am sure when you receive their comments you know where they are. Can you add their locations at the bottom of their comments?

We can’t tell where people are. We do encourage people to say but if they don’t there’s nothing we can do about. We wouldn’t publish someone’s whereabouts against their will anyway.

3) There are contributors who don’t reveal their real names. They use just pseudo names. Are real names important? On my part, I put my very real full name!

Real names aren’t important. If people feel comfortable using an online name that is fine.

4) Can you put every show or at least part of it on Youtube? I think some are curious to know what the atmosphere is like when the show is on air.

We’re looking in to doing a lot more video than we do at the moment. I’m not sure about every show, but certainly some of them.

5) Do you keep an archive of the conversations you have with people before they come on air? Can you publish some remarkable ones?

We don’t and I don’t think we would want to. If people have a contribution to make we invite them to comment on the blog or the programme. If they don’t want to, we’ll leave it at that.

6) The show lasts one hour. How much time do you spend contacting those who like to be on the show?

We get in 7 hours before going on air, and start contacting people after we’ve picked our subject/s. So we have around 6 hours on a normal day.

7) Do you still have a two-part edition of the show or is this limited just to summe time? (I had the occasion of taking part in the second edition of the show twice without being able to listen to it as in Morocco, only the first part is broadcast at 17:00 GMT) In the second part of the show do you keep the same guests in the first one or do you get new ones?

We have two editions during British Summertime. Sometimes we invite a guest onto both editions, sometimes we don’t. There’s no rule. No-one hears both editions though so we do occasionally hear someone making a similar comment in each hour.

8) The daily show preparation and presentation starts from the morning. Does the show presenter keep presence in the studio since the debate starts?

I go into the studio around 30 minutes before we go on air. Other than that I am with the rest of the team in the office.

9) Do BBC correspondents outside UK help you get contributors to the show? If not how do you get to contact people in highly censored countries like Cuba?

We get help from BBC staff all around the world.

10) How many local radio stations outside UK transmit the show, in addition to those in the USA?

We broadcast on Kiss FM in Tanzania and Thetha FM in South Africa.

11) I am sure you get a lot of comments everyday. On average, how many comments do you get daily?

There’s not really an average day but most fall between 100 and 1000 comments.

12) Will you reveal statistics of the comments you get as in Have Your Say by showing the number of total comments received, those published and those rejected?

No. We don’t have that facility on our blog.

13) And finally when will the old/ original blog be repaired or is the current one going to be it definite replacement?

We’ve got a meeting tomorrow about just that. We will move back to the BBC and leave WordPress behind but only when we are sure that the BBC one will work.

Independence: goals and ensuing complications

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has vowed to protect the rights of all minorities as the province prepares to declare independence from Serbia.

Today there is an increasing trend towards globalisation. Countries need economic and political rapprochement for continuous progress. Around the world, especially in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, there are peoples asking for independence. In Spain, there is ETA which is relentlessly struggling to get independence for the Basques region. In Turkey there are the Kurds seeking to form an independent country Kurdistan. In Asia there are the Tamil rebels seeking cession from Sri Lanka.

But the independence of a region in the world is mainly decided by international support. When an (emerging) independent country can be advantageous for one part of the international community, it can be seen suspiciously by the other part. In the case of Kosovo becoming independent, this means the sphere of Russian influence in this region of Europe will be reduced as a new Kosovo is surely to form a strong alliance with the USA and the EU.

It seems that cultural and racial differences are the causes of tensions in multiracial and cultural societies, especially when one section has predominance over key areas and marginalising the rest.

The principal rules for a state to become independent are to get international support and to have the means to survive itself from its own resources. History has shown that independent states don’t come into being without marathon struggles and negotiations. This can take decades before being fulfilled or remaining just projects on the diplomatic agenda. In the Middle East, there is still the continuous struggle for an independent Palestinian state. The project has been shelved on many occasions because the criteria for a state haven’t been agreed upon by all sides.

In this age of globalisations, states with various ethnic and religious groups should endeavour for a federal system instead of falling into civil wars and disintegration. Independence can just perpetuate the animosity between the newly independent state and the country from which it has seceded. Currently there is the case of Russia and the former soviet republics, especially Georgia and the Baltic states.

Independence itself can be disappointing for the locals as currently many peoples are disenchanted by the performance of their leaders. The day of independence can be a euphoric moment as it is portrayed as a new dawn. Failure to implement the ideals behind independence can turn the country in a long dark night or simply a satellite turning around giant ones. Perhaps the world doesn’t need more independent countries. It needs existing ones to be homogeneous internally and with effective unity with those on their borders for peaceful and fruitful coexistence. This is easier said than done, as existing countries are members of international organisations like the UN as there are regional organisations and countless bilateral agreements. And yet the goals they have set aren’t completely attained. So states seeking independence will be just new countries fit in an old system that is unlikely to change overnight.