29 August 2015   Leave a comment

There are large protests in Malaysia, as people display their outrage over an alleged “slush-fund” held by the Prime Minister, Najib Razak.  The money is believed to have come from three bond deals arranged by the US investment bank, Goldman Sachs.   The bond deals were brokered by Goldman’s Southeast Asia chairman Tim Leissner who is married to hip hop mogul Russell Simmons’ ex-wife Kimora Lee who, in turn, is good friends with Najib’s controversial wife Rosmah Manso (sounds like a soap opera).  The three deals totaled $6.5 billion and the accusation is that about $700 million ended up in Razak’s personal bank account.  The pro-democracy organization Bersih (which means “clean” in Malay) has organized the protests and the government banned the wearing of yellow T-shirts which were a symbol of Bersih.  As the photo below suggests, however, the ban was not particularly effective.

The protests come at a vulnerable time for Malaysia as its currency, the ringgit, has recently depreciated (almost 13% this year) along with many other currencies from emerging markets.  Malaysia has used much of its foreign reserves to prop up the currency and is in danger of running out of those reserves.

Many cultures have not accepted, and do not wish to accept, Western standards of human rights which revolve centrally around the freedom of individuals and the presumed equality of all individuals.  For many cultures, it is more important to protect social stability and the sense of the collective and for individuals to find their proper place within the social collective.  The difference between these two perspectives is obvious is the decision of a local village in India to punish two sisters because their brother eloped with a married woman.  The two sisters were ordered to be raped and paraded around the village naked.  The case has been brought to the attention of state courts, but enforcement of a different outcome will be very difficult.  Amnesty International, an non-governmental organization dedicated to the Western view of human rights, has intervened in the case.

There are times when studying International Relations is like trying to live out Alice in Wonderland.  The Guardian has an article about an Assistant Professor of Law at West Point, William Bradford, who published an essay in the National Security Law Review entitled “Trahison des Professeurs: The Critical Law of Armed Conflict Academy as an Islamist Fifth Column”.  The National Security Law Review is a student-run journal at George Mason University.  The Guardian article describes the essay in this way:

In a lengthy academic paper, the professor, William C Bradford, proposes to threaten “Islamic holy sites” as part of a war against undifferentiated Islamic radicalism. That war ought to be prosecuted vigorously, he wrote, “even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage”.

Other “lawful targets” for the US military in its war on terrorism, Bradford argues, include “law school facilities, scholars’ home offices and media outlets where they give interviews” – all civilian areas, but places where a “causal connection between the content disseminated and Islamist crimes incited” exist.

The idea that such a nutjob is currently teaching young military leaders is incomprehensible to me.   Jeremy Rabkin, a Professor of Law at George Mason, has a searing critique of Bradford’s essay which I recommend highly.


Posted August 29, 2015 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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