Friday, August 7, 2015

John Kasich Won The Debate

The day had started great after his surprise late entrance into the FOX debate, welcoming his fellow debate participants in his home state of Ohio, the birthground of the Republican party, with these words:
"I am glad to welcome my fellow debate participants to our great state" 
And it got even better, he won that debate!

Perfect timing, perfect location and perfect rhetorical balance. I wouldn't be surprised to see John Kasich take his candidacy all the way to the 2016 RNC in Cleveland Ohio. I hadn't noticed it till today, but John Kasich is actually THE candidate that has a potential of beating Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Mike Huckabee, both in Iowa and New Hampsire. As others drop, he moves up(Clark Judge). He emerged as a top tier candidate. He made Ted Cruz look Effete (Camille Paglia). An undecided Republican said "John Kasich is crushing it tonight. He'll see a huge bump tomorrow." He was the 'big winner' (John Kraushaar, National Journal). But people are still figuring out why. The answer is actually quite simple. He was able to appeal in an authetic way to both moderates and compassionate conservatives at the same time. Which is a rare accomplishment. A surprise to everyone.

He has been compared to John Huntsman, but he is actually a much more viable candidate because of his authentic appeal to traditional Republicans. As NPR writes:
'His parents became more conservative and eventually joined an Episcopal church. Then, in 1987, they were killed by a drunken driver while pulling out of Burger King after a coffee run. That accident spurred Kasich on his faith journey, as he detailed in Every Other Monday. He described how he had gathered a Bible study group that had been his rock for more than two decades. Kasich now attends an Anglican church.'

I disagree with William A. Galston of the Brookings Institute who writes:
'Overall, however, the debate did little to expand the appeal of the Republican brand. With the exception of Bush’s advocacy of immigration reform, the candidates offered little that would make their party more palatable to the portions of the electorate—especially women, young adults, and minorities—where they have struggled in recent presidential elections.'
Exactedly on those core issues John Kasich succeeded in linking them to his convictions in a convincing way. As several observers noted:
Rob Frost, Chairman of  the Cuyahoga County Republican Party (Cleveland) said this (audio) after the debate:
"John Kasich showed tonight that he is the strongest conservative with the broadest appeal and that he is ready to lead the United States."
Ed Lee, senior director of debate in the Barkley Forum Center for Debate Education at Emory University, wrote on the CNN website:
"I expect Kasich's poll numbers to skyrocket after this performance."
His performance suggests he could be a serious alternative to Jeb Bush.(Linda Killian WSJ) Forget Trump: John Kasich is the real dark horse Jeb Bush should be worried about(Josh Voorhees, Slate July 10th),  and Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig(New Republic) made an accurate prediction when she wrote: John Kasich’s Compassionate Christianity Could Raise Hell in the GOP Primary(july 21st).  "John Kasich seems to understand why he is running and how it fits within the Republican consensus"(Henry Olsen, National Review June 23). When he dropped out of the primaries in 1999 he himself said "Iowa and New Hampshire haven't seen the last of John Kasich"

He was right!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Barbeyrac's Practical Leadership of the Polarized Huguenot Diaspora

This blogpost is my initial attempt to piece together the ideological background of Jean Barbeyrac, a thinker I discovered through my focus on the emergence of Glasgow and the important role it played in forming presbyterian ministers from England, Scotland and Ireland after the 1707 Act of Union. The correspondence between Gershom Carmichale and Jean Barbeyrac takes on increased meaning in the context of the emergence of the presbyterian church in America around that same period. My first thoughts and collection of sources for further investigation and creative reflection. Some information on his family background can be read in the Nobiliaire universel de France. Fabrizio Lomonaco writes in the Berlin Refuge, 1680-1780: Learning and Science in European Context:
'However, Barbeyrac deviated from leaders of the Huguenot party - such as Jean Claude and Pierre Jurieu-, through his intention to re-examine the problem of freedom of conscience in the light of natural law.'
'Jean Lecler, Locke's closest disciple and the principal early carrier of his ideas into continental discussion.' Barbeyrac declared that he agreed with the theses of his friend Le Clerc and quotes in particular Parhassia which contains 'Pensées sur la nécessité et su la manière d'étudier, pour les personnes qui ne font pas profession de lettres.' (This book is mentioned in the context of the thought of Jean Jacques Rousseau as well.) I disagree however with Lomonaco when he says that the dominant feature of Barbeyrac's work is juridical and not theological. Mark Goldie & Robert Wokler, in their history of 18th century political thought, cut to the core when they write:
'In attempting to meet the challenge of the French king's assertion of a right to sovereignty over his subjects' religious beliefs, Huguenot opinion had polarised.'
And propose Barbeyrac as the mediator between the two extreme positions of Jurieu and Bayle:
'The focus of these debates was conscience. Barbeyrac's importance lay in analysing this concept in order to rebut Bayle's scepticism and reach a more prudent political standpoint than Jurieu's.'
Tim Hochstrasser makes the same argument in his article 'The claims of conscience: Natural law theory, obligation, and resistance in the Huguenot diaspora'. This reconciliatory approach reminds immediately of the reconciliatory aims of Antoine Barbeyrac, Jean's father, in a january 1688 sermon on Corinthians 13:13. In this sermon Antoine Barbeyrac wades into the 'french prophet' debate alluded to by the Jesuite historian Leon Ménard in his history of Nimes like this:
'Tels furent les torts du monarque; ils n'auraient peut-etre pas suffi pour exciter la guerre civile, mais les ministres protestants exilés ne purent pardonner au gouvernement qui les avait bannis. il firent jouer tous les ressorts d'un aveugle fanatisme. Desécoles de prophétie s'éleverent; on osa prédire la chute de l'église catholique et la ruine de la monarchie francaise; des émissaires soudoyés soulèrent les peuples;...'
His father subsequently presided over the important conference of March 23 1688 in Lausanne to determine how to find places of refuge elsewhere. When Antoine Barbeyrac died in 1690 and his mother in 1691, Jean survived on funds for refugees in Lausanne.
Raúl Pérez Johnston agrees with Tim Hochstrasser that Barbeyrac's Huguenot affiliations are underappreciated in the quest towards the understanding of his thought. Johnston argues
 'that one of the keys to understanding the particular trajectory of their thought was the position they occupied in the Huguenot Refuge, who had sought to define the social space that could be allocated to rights of conscience under absolutist rule'
On the one hand I agree with Tim Hochstrasser that Jean Barbeyrac needs to be 'securely sited within the context of Huguenot theology after the diaspora.' On the other hand I disagree with Hochstrasser when he immediately adds 'within whose paradoxes he remained trapped.' The importance of Antoine Barbeyrac's role in his son's education not just as Jean's tutor in Montagnac, but also as a top leader of the Refuge, eloquently illustrated by Antoine's role at the 1688 conference in Lausanne and in the above quoted sermon, has sofar received little to no attention.

Sandra Pott in her book 'Reformierte Morallehren und deutsche Literatur von Jean Barbeyrac'
mentions an anonymous author who sees a direct link between Antoine's sermon on first Corinthians and Jean's writings! Extremely interesting subject indeed. Sandra Pott herself writes:

'In einer Predigt, die er kurz nach der Revokation hält, entfaltet er jenes einfache Christentum als moralische une religiöse basis für die Gemeinde der Flüchtlinge ebenso wie für die Bürger der Stadt Lausanne'
Connecting the development of Jean Barbeyrac's political thought to his father's role in the Refuge might be an important key to understanding the history of Calvinism in the early 18th century. It might very likely uncover the strategic practical goal(s) Barbeyrac aimed to serve. Instead of trapping himself in the paradoxes of Huguenot theology after the diaspora, I see a picture emerging of a refugee aiming to serve the Huguenot Refuge living across Europe under constant threat of expulsion and/or xenophobia, by providing practical leadership. As Mark Goldie & Robert Wokler argue:
'The Lutheran philosopher's work had been adopted as an ally by leading Huguenots in the debates about their perilous situation after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, as is apparent in Gershom Carmichael's Glasgow lectures of teh 1690s and in his edition of Pufendorf's De officio hominis et civis (On the Duties of Man and Citizen). The crucial link was Jean Barbeyrac...'
His book Les Devoirs de l'Homme et Du Citoyen inspired a number of Reformed thinkers in Switzerland and the Netherlands. It was Barbeyrac's 
'Lockeified Pufendorf that continental audiences came to enjoy, and it was to become a central source for the language of 'natural and inalienable rights' that the American and French declarations of human rights later in the century were to solidify'.
That Jean Barbeyrac aimed for practical leadership is confirmed also in the article 'The Natural Jurisprudence of Jean Barbeyrac: Translation as an Art of Political Adjustment' by David Saunders who writes:
'This stance is provoked by the profound challenge that Pufendorf's radical post-Westphalian secularizing of civil authority posed for a Huguenot: how to grant that the state had legitimate authority to regulate all external conduct, but at the same time preserve an inviolable moral space for the exercise of individual conscience.'
Janet Glenn Grey wrote the article 'reformed protestant academies impact life in Berlin' in which she writes that several pastors and teachers at Berlin's Collège Francais were graduates of the Academy of Saumur, for example Pastor Jacques Abbadie and pre-Enlightenment figues Jacques Lenfant and Issac de Beausorbe. Here she investigates the content of the curriculum at the Academy of Saumur which impacted the French University in Berlin through the Huguenot diaspora. She writes:
'Calvin saw to it that a statement on eduction was included in Geneva's new ecclesiastical ordinances of 1541 which says: ...that we establish a college to instruct the children to prepare them for both the ministry and civil government'
Would William Penn have met some of these pastors in Berlin as fellow students when he studied in Saumur himself?

Puffendorf's Law of Nature and Nations with notes by Barbeyrac appears among a list of books proposed by Madison's committee purchased for the library(..) is printed as it appeared in the journal of the continental Congress. Craig Yirush in his book on the roots of early American political theory writes:

 'The Impact that Barbeyrac's editorial interventions had on the reception of natural law theory in the Anglo-American world in the eighteenth century remains to be studied.'
And :

'Barbeyrac was particularly concerned in drawing the reader's attention to the superiority of Locke's theory of resistance as well as his theory of property over those of Pufedorf.'

Barbeyrac's book 'An Historical and Critical Account of the Science of Morality; and the Progress it has Made in the World..' owned by Thomas Jefferson.

Andrew Fitzmaurice thinks 
'Like so many seventeenth-century natural law writers, Barbeyrac lived with the instability and danger caused by the Reformation and he sought the principles of a political order that would address those troubles.'
The introduction into the Refuge litterature might be a valuable resource as well. The book on Henri de Mirmand is certainly a must read to get a feel of the atmosphere and context in which Barbeyrac wrote his book. Many of the major players, like Charles Brousson and even Jean Claude have a link to Nîmes.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Presidential Termlimit & Burundi's Constitution

On thursday Paul Seger, the President of the Peacebuilding Committee for Burundi of
the United Nations, said that the third term which Pierre Nkurunziza wants is in the first place a concern between the people of Burundi. The concern of the United Nations, according to Paul Seger, is that Burundi will remain at peace. 

Does the constitution of Burundi give room for a third Nkurunziza term? Let's read article 96 of the Burundi constitution:
The President of the Republic is elected by universal direct suffrage for a mandate of five years renewable one time."

It comes close to what US Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Africa, Russ Feingold, said at the end of 2014(at 35:10:
"We indicated the United States position that the Arusha Accords were unambiguous in its intent, that this be two terms for one person. And we urge that the presidential election be consistent with the spirit of the Arusha Accords. The Arusha Accords have been the foundation of a decade long period of relative peace and stability in burundi. We do acknowledge that there is a constit provision that could possibly be interpreted  to permit a third term for the current president but our view is that would run counter to the language of the Arusha Accords which states quote 'that no one may serve more than two presidential terms' unquote. So the goal here is to not (sort of) get into some sort of legal debate but get to the bottom line, which is that stability and good governance will effect international perceptions and investors confidence in burundi. And so the spirit of Arusha needs to be followed in order to have that kind of benefit for burundi. And that we  still think that the Arusha Accords remain key to maintaining a still fragile stability in Burundi in the near term."

Stef Vandeginste at the University of Antwerp thinks it is very unlikely that the CENI will reject Nkurunziza's candidacy before the elections. This would mean that the constitutional court would only deal with the question after the elections. The Burundi constitution says however in article 95 that the President:
"is the guarantor of the national independence, of the integrity of the territory and of the respect for the international treaties and agreements"
After talks in Bujumbura with Ban Ki-Moon, Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza wrote on his website that he will organize elections:

 'in strict compliance with the Constitution and the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement.'  
This can only be interpreted as a confirmation that Pierre Nkurunziza sees himself as the guarantor of the respect for the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in conformity or at least analogical to what is stated in article 95 of the constitution.
On the executive branch of government the Arusha Agreement says in Article 7.3:
"She/he shall be elected for a term of five years, renewable only once. No one may serve more than two presidential terms."
In other words, the constitutional question might no longer be limited to an interpretation of article 96 of the constitution. Vandeginste does not discuss the articles 95 and 96 of the constitution, or the legality of a third term, but even if the constitutional court would not rule before the election, President Pierre Nkurunziza himself can't escape his responsibility of guaranteeing strict compliance to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. As stated by the parties to the Arusha peace and reconciliation agreement:
 "stability, justice, the rule of law, national reconciliation, unity and development are the major aspirations of the people of burundi."
Or as the Chairman of the EAC, President Kikwete of Tanzania, recently said in his State of the EAC speech in Bujumbura:
“I appeal to the citizens of the country to adhere to the constitution of Burundi, the electoral laws and the Arusha Accord”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Open letter to Bloomberg News re Loretta Lynch and the ICTR

TO: Bloomberg News and Bloomberg News writer Del Quentin Wilber

RE: Bloomberg News Report, Rwanda Tribunal Taught Loretta Lynch Real Power of Prosecutors

News outlets have been praising Loretta Lynch's credentials as a former Special Counsel to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR). Whatever else Loretta Lynch's qualifications may be, this is not a credential to praise or take pride in. Those who know the disgraceful history of victor's justice at the ICTR, and its service to the predatory US/NATO agenda in the Global South, are aware of this. See my KPFA News produced with CIUT-Toronto host Phil Taylor and published on the San Francisco Bay View website, for a start, "Phil Taylor: ICTR celebrates 20 years of establising impunity."

For in-depth documentation and analysis, read "Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scales of International Criminal Justice," by ICTR defense attorneys Sébastien Chartrand and John Philpot, from Baraka Books.

Thanks for your attention and I hope you may take this into account in future reporting on the ICTR and/or Loretta Lynch's role there.

No justice, no peace,
Ann Garrison, Independent Journalist

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Dull Winter in Brussels

Winter hasn't yet hit Brussels. At least, we have not seen snow, for now. Often a welcome distraction that pulls you and those around you out of the daily struggles for survival. Of course, many will label it an unwelcome mess. A boring nuisance. Especially in a city like Brussels where taking yourself from place to place by foot and by subway is the easiest.

But not for those who live on the streets of the capitals of Europe and depend on the Soup-counters or food distributors across the city. Beggars in the city, they are there. The homeless. Occasionally you see a report on tv about their plight and their stories. I remember a recent tv report from Liège where the city government had made a 'beggar zone' regulation. Staring in the ugly face of their daily struggle, their history.

And if the weather is boring, at least the terrorist threat has increased police and army presence across the city. Some say it would make more sense to deploy some soldiers to Central Africa. I don't know. I note. And sip my Marie Dufau wich, by the way, does NOT improve in the bottle. For a splitsecond I imagine myself a Bolchevik at the Winter Palace in 1917, "I know it is kinda cold outside".

Whether we are longing for a good storm to ride out, or just hunting for the right café or some cheap restaurant in Bruxelles I, regretting our bad choices or cursing our fate, there still are lessons to be learned, excentrics to be observed. Will we be able to discover Brussels?

We still have a race to run and a battle to win. Not a war against exotic ennemies far away. No heroic greek struggles against imagined beasts of mythical proportions. No high waves of wild seas that threaten to throw us on unknown shores. No! We are in a fierce battle to pierce the surface, to embrace opposition as true friendship. Will we engage, will we build our working concept. Will we feel the excitement? It is not a given. It is never a given. Will Providence guide us? Will we be able to acknowledge, when this dull winter is over, that this race is not to the swift? And that this battle is not to the strong?