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A new period began with the appointment of Emilio Castro as the Fourth General Secretary of the WCC during 1985-1992. Social and political issues had always been a subsidiary concern of the WCC; their role had grown under Castro’s immediate predecessor, Philip Potter (1972-1984). From now on, however, those issues became its most prominent focus. Increasingly, advocacy on behalf of the Palestinians and denunciations of Israel came to top the agenda.
If the WCC ceased to exist, few would miss it today. The WCC has become one more NGO that survives largely on magnifying the Arab-Israel conflict at the expense of other conflicts in the world. In contrast to the resources lavished on “Palestine,” the WCC has devoted only occasional words — and not a single “Ecumenical Accompanier” — to the millions of Christians recently displaced from or killed in other Middle East countries.
Thus there is a vast gap between the appearance and the reality of the WCC. The appearance is the claim that the WCC consists of hundreds of churches in over a hundred countries working for Christian unity. The reality is a small Secretariat in Geneva financed chiefly by some handfuls of European Protestant bureaucrats.
The World Council of Churches was founded with a noble aim: to overcome the divisions of Christianity and restore the unity of purpose of Christ’s original followers. After the retirement of its founding spirit, Willem Visser ‘t Hooft, it drifted away from its original concerns, a development that accelerated after his death in 1985. Today it has shrunk in effect to a small secretariat in Geneva that draws inspiration from its obsession with the Palestinian problem and has little else currently to its credit or discredit.Continue reading →
In the latest warning from the White House that it is set to unleash trade policy that will be in sharp conflict with generally accepted trade norms, most likely a reference to some form of Border Adjustment Tax, the Trump administration has warned that the U.S. isn’t and won’t bound by decisions made at the World Trade Organization, in outlining a new trade agenda that “promises to root out unfair practices by foreign countries” and to escalate what are already simmering trade conflicts. Continue reading →
WASHINGTON — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, at meetings in Oslo, Norway, this week, signaled that he has more authority on the Syria file than he has had until now, and that Iran may be prepared to show more flexibility to advance a political solution, sources who met with him there told Al-Monitor.
The apparent shift in Iran’s Syria policymaking comes as the Obama administration is facing internal criticism of its Syria policy, in the form of a dissent cable signed by some 50 State Department officers urging the United States to conduct airstrikes against the Assad regime in order to pressure it to make serious concessions at stalled political transition talks with the opposition in Geneva. The memo, first reported by The New York Times June 16, calls for “a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed US-led diplomatic process.” Continue reading →
WASHINGTON (AP) — The pursuit of peace in Syria may require the United States and Iran to break new ground in their increasingly comfortable diplomatic relationship, propelled by last year’s nuclear accord and their more recent prisoner swap. Another taboo could be shattered soon: Military discussions.
Iran may be just one of 17 countries invited to the first gathering Friday of a task force the US and Russia are leading to forge a temporary truce in Syria’s civil war. But for the Obama administration, Iran is like no other country at the table. Continue reading →
Ion Mihai Pacepa on Raul Castro’s yacht in Cuba, 1974. Photo courtesy of Ion Mihai Pacepa.
Washington D.C., May 1, 2015 / 03:34 pm (CNA).- Espionage deep in the heart of Europe. Secrets in the KGB. Defection from a communist nation. Ion Mihai Pacepa has seen his share of excitement, serving as general for Communist Romania’s secret police before defecting to the United States in the late 1970s.
The highest-ranking defector from communism in the ‘70s, he spoke to CNA recently about the connection between the Soviet Union and Liberation Theology in Latin America. Below are excerpts of the interview. All footnotes were provided by Pacepa.
In general, could you say that the spreading of Liberation Theology had any kind of Soviet connection?
Yes. I learned the fine points of the KGB involvement with Liberation Theology from Soviet General Aleksandr Sakharovsky, communist Romania’s chief razvedka (foreign intelligence) adviser – and my de facto boss, until 1956, when he became head of the Soviet espionage service, the PGU1, a position he held for an unprecedented record of 15 years.
The U.N. Human Rights Council wrapped up its latest session in Geneva on Friday, March 27 by adopting four resolutions condemning Israel. That’s four times more than any of the other 192 UN member states.There were four resolutions on Israel. And one on North Korea — a country that is home to government policies of torture, starvation, enslavement, rape, disappearances, and murder – to name just some of its crimes against humanity.
Four resolutions on Israel. And one on Syria. Where the death toll of four years of war is 100,000 civilians, ten million people are displaced, and barrel bombs containing chemical agents like chlorine gas are back in action. Continue reading →
The US and Russia, while trading the blame for pushing Ukraine to the brink of civil war, are nonetheless tugging at the leashes of the two players in the field, each jockeying for advantage in the quadrilateral meeting of senior US, Russian, European, Ukrainian and UN officials scheduled to take place in Geneva Thursday, April 17, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report.
Expectations of fruitful results from the meeting are low. But the fact that all the parties are talking offers Ukraine its last hope of escaping a bloody civil war. To this end, too, late-night phone calls are being exchanged among Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel. Continue reading →
The second round of talks between the six powers and Iran – this time for a final, comprehensive resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program – opened in Geneva Tuesday, Feb. 18. But first, the Obama administration gave the Israeli government three pledges, debkafile’s Washington and Jerusalem sources reveal. It must be said, however, that none of those pledges is realistic.
One was a commitment to insist on the absolute shutdown of Iran’s underground uranium enrichment plant at Fordo. The second was the conversion of the reactor under construction at Arak from a heavy to a light water plant, in order to preclude the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons; and the third, to place a cap on the low-grade 5-percent enrichment of uranium. Continue reading →
US Vice President Joe Biden when he met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday night, Jan. 13, refused to level with him on the detailed agreements which the Americans claimed were reached by the six powers and Iran in their talks earlier this week on the implementation of their first-stage Geneva accord. This is reported by debkafile’s Washington and Jerusalem sources. It was the first time US President Barack Obama personally vetoed a briefing to Israel on the content of the international nuclear negotiations he instigated – notwithstanding his private and public pledges to Netanyahu of “full transparency.”
This secretiveness has stirred concern and mistrust in Jerusalem on two grounds:
1. It denotes a sharp decline in the strategic relations between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government and leaves Israel in the dark on an issue of vital concern to its security. Continue reading →
The European Union and Iran announced Wednesday that the talks on the technical aspects of the interim nuclear accord with the six powers – broken off in Vienna Friday Dec. 13 – would be resumed in Geneva Thursday, Dec. 19. This is a desperate attempt to enliven the dying momentum of nuclear diplomacy. Two days were assigned to this meeting, which debkafile reports it is being convened to camouflage three untoward developments:
1. Iran has repudiated the Geneva nuclear deal and now maintains that it was never a real accord. The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afgham put it this way: “There is no treaty and no pact, only a statement of intent.” Continue reading →
After a lecture captioned “Islamic Revolution against Global Arrogance,” which he delivered at the Imam Sadegh University in Tehran Wednesday, Dec. 11, a student asked the Revolutionary Guards commander whether any of the Western powers in Geneva had asked for Iran’s missiles to be reduced.
“We will never do this,” he replied.
Asked by another student to clarify his statement that Iranian missiles can reach Israel, Jafari replied: “We are still increasing the range of our missiles, but currently the Supreme Leader has commanded that we limit the range of our missiles to 2,000 km.” Continue reading →
Regardless of what Chuck Hagel says, the decisions regarding who or what will stay in the Middle East will increasingly be decided by a region who is taking the reins away from the US. Too much trust has been eroded with taking sides in the war on Syria, let alone witnessing the turning of entire countries upside down, such as Egypt and Libya.
With its decades-old US alliance strained over the Syria war and a nuclear deal with Iran, Saudi Arabia is calling on the Gulf monarchies to unite for their own self-defence.
US Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel, visiting Saudi Arabia on Monday, has assured Gulf states that the agreement struck between major powers and Iran on November 24 will not affect the presence of some 35,000 US troops in the region. Continue reading →