Some Articles for Sunday and Easy Reading

I know the first article is readily accessible to read if you have no membership. I believe the other two articles are open reading also. If not let me know. I can access them.

Ukraine is waiting for US aid. Prof. Heather looks at how we find ourselves at this point. A point of abandoning of a country willing to fight.

Two years ago today, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky made a passionate plea to the people of Russia, begging them to avoid war. He gave the speech in Russian, his own primary language, and, reminding Russians of their shared border and history, told them to “listen to the voice of reason”: Ukrainians want peace.  

“You’ve been told I’m going to bomb Donbass,” he said. “Bomb what? The Donetsk stadium where the locals and I cheered for our team at Euro 2012? The bar where we drank when they lost? Luhansk, where my best friend’s mom lives?” Zelensky tried to make the human cost of this conflict clear. Observers lauded the speech and contrasted its statesmanship with the ramblings in which Putin had recently engaged.

And yet Zelensky’s speech stood only as a marker. Early the next day, Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a “special military operation” involving dozens of missile strikes on Ukrainian cities before dawn. He claimed in a statement that was transparently false that he needed to defend the people in the “new republics” within Ukraine that he had recognized two days before from “persecution and genocide by the Kyiv regime.” He called for “demilitarization” of Ukraine, demanding that soldiers lay down their weapons and saying that any bloodshed would be on their hands. 

Putin called for the murder of Ukrainian leaders in the executive branch and parliament and intended to seize or kill those involved in the 2014 Maidan Revolution, which sought to turn the country away from Russia and toward a democratic government within Europe, and which itself prompted a Russian invasion. He planned for his troops to seize Ukraine’s electric, heating, and financial systems so the people would have to do as he wished. The operation was to be lightning fast.

Politico’s Heidi Przybyla is one of my (Joyce) favorite journalists. So when she ran a story this past Tuesday headlined, “Trump allies prepare to infuse ‘Christian nationalism’ in second administration,” I stopped what I was doing to read it. And then I wanted to know still more.

Heidi writes about Trump, “In a December campaign speech in Iowa, he said ‘Marxists and fascists’ are ‘going hard’ against Catholics. ‘Upon taking office, I will create a new federal task force on fighting anti-Christian bias to be led by a fully reformed Department of Justice. It will be fair and equitable’ and that will ‘investigate all forms of illegal discrimination.’” She reminds us that “On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, Trump promoted on his social media a video that suggests his campaign is, actually, a divine mission from God.”

Heidi graciously agreed to be our guest for “Five Questions” tonight. This is an important chance for us to add detail and nuance to what it means when we hear people say Trump has authoritarian plans for the future of America.

From February 26–29, 2024, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will host the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Governments from 164 countries will be joined by Timor-Leste and Comoros, the first two nations to join the group since 2017.

At stake is a fight between two visions of what role the WTO, as the world’s most powerful rule-making body in the global economy, should play.

Should the institution expand as an even more corporate-influenced body, with rich countries allowed to set agendas, impose negotiation mechanisms in their favor, and leave poorer countries — and multilateralism itself — in the dustbin of history?

Or should members of the institution recognize the constraints that the current rules place on developing economies, including the harm caused to workers, farmers, and the global environment, and increase flexibilities so that these countries can use trade for their development?