Editor's Note: Shoaib Sultan is the former Secretary General of the Islamic Council of Norway and is running as the Green Party candidate in Norway’s upcoming elections.
By Shoaib Sultan, Foreign Affairs
Last Friday’s terrorist attacks by Anders Behring Breivik against Norway’s central government district and a political youth camp of the Labor Party targeted not only the Norwegian political system but the very idea behind Norway’s multicultural society and, in particular, the place of Muslims within it.
Muslim immigrants, mainly from Morocco, Pakistan, and Turkey, first began arriving in Norway in the late 1960s and early 1970s in search of employment. Norway did not actively recruit Muslims, as Germany and other European countries did, but the arrival of these so-called guest workers coincided with a growing need for labor. FULL POST
Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
U.S. President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner used separate nationally televised addresses last night to attack one another over a failure to reach a compromise over a so-called grand bargain, deficit-reduction plan that would allow the United States to raise its debt limit ahead of next week's August 2 deadline.
Warning of an economic calamity (NYT) if the United States were to default on its debt obligations, Obama blamed House Republicans for holding up a compromise because of their steadfast resistance to any tax increases. In response to the president, Boehner said that Obama was unfairly insisting on a "blank check" from Congress.
Earlier on Monday, the Senate and House unveiled new, competing plans (WSJ) to raise the debt ceiling.
Boehner proposed a $3 trillion deficit-reduction package that would allow for raising the debt limit in two stages, a move Obama strongly rejects. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced a plan to increase the limit just enough to allow the United States to pay its bills through 2012, coupled with equal spending cuts. House and Senate votes on the respective plans could come as early as Wednesday. FULL POST
(CNN) – As Norway struggles to come to terms with its greatest loss of life in decades, all eyes are on the man charged in the explosion in central Oslo and the deadly shooting rampage at a youth camp.
While police have not officially named him, Norwegian television and newspaper reports have identified the suspect as 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik, of Norwegian origin.
A picture is emerging, gleaned from official sources and social media, of a right-wing Christian fundamentalist who may have had an issue with Norway's multi-cultural society.
Norwegian and international news outlets have run photographs of a blond man with blue-green eyes and chiseled features, dressed in a preppy style. FULL POST
“Vive la Similarité.” David McCullough, New York Times.
“Though we will probably never see a Bastille Day when French flags fly along Main Street and strains of “La Marseillaise” fill the airwaves, July 14 would not go so largely unobserved here were we better served by memory. For the ties that bind America and France are more important and infinitely more interesting than most of us know.”
The Other Brother’s Legacy in Afghanistan
1. “The Afghan Enforcer I Knew.” Ahmed Rashid, New York Times.
“After Hamid Karzai became president in 2002, his half brother Ahmed Wali virtually ran the southern provinces for him. However much Ahmed Wali Karzai was loved or loathed, his death leaves a huge political vacuum for the Americans and President Karzai at a critical moment for three efforts — the war against the Taliban, the start of the drawing down of American forces, and American efforts to talk to the Taliban and forge a peace agreement.” FULL POST
1. “Time is of the essence, any U.S. budget deal will do.” Larry Summers, Financial Times.
“Agreements reached now are subject to revision, potentially radical revision following next year’s election. Businesses are basing their investment decisions on the size of their current order books, not their guesses of fiscal policy in 2015. Consumers are deciding whether or not to spend based on how confident they are that they can hold on to their jobs.”
The future of U.S. Military spending
Op-Ed: “American power requires economic sacrifice.” Sebastian Mallaby, Financial Times.
“Even if the U.S. were to maintain military spending at a constant share of its own GDP, the nation’s shrinking weight in the world economy would cause its share of global spending to decline to 39 per cent by 2015. If the Obama plan for defence cuts is implemented, the U.S. share will fall further. If China or some other rising power chooses to make defence a higher priority, U.S. military pre-eminence could decline even more precipitously.” FULL POST
A British take on American optimism
Op-Ed: “The end of American optimism.” Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times.
"Britain's Daily Telegraph — a conservative paper and that country's bestselling broadsheet — diagnoses us as a nation depressed, and cites polling data describing alarming percentages of Americans who expect their own economic situation to deteriorate further and that of their children to be worse still."
"He goes on to cite one recent poll that found 39% of Americans now believe the recession-battered economy is in "a long-term permanent decline" from which it "will never fully recover," and another survey that reported 57% of those questioned believe their children never will achieve the same standard of living they've enjoyed."
A trio of Senators call for a faster Afghanistan withdraw, while Max Boot writes about the global dangers of U.S. isolationism.
“Let’s Not Linger in Afghanistan.” Jeff Merkley, Rand Paul and Tom Udall, New York Times.
“America would be more secure and stronger economically if we recognized that we have largely achieved our objectives in Afghanistan and moved aggressively to bring our troops and tax dollars home.”
“U.S. foreign policy: In praise of nation-building.” Max Boot, Los Angeles Times.
“Whenever America has eschewed commitments abroad and turned inward, the results have been disastrous. The most isolationist decade in the country's history - the 1930s - was followed by World War II."
1. Op-Ed: “How the Taliban and America met in Munich.” Ahmed Rashid, Financial Times.
"At stake is not just peace for Afghanistan but the region, including a deeply precarious Pakistan. The talks are premised on the realisation that neither a successful western withdrawal nor a transition to Afghan forces can occur without an end to the civil war and a settlement between the government and the Taliban, but also Pakistan, the U.S. and the region."
2. Op-Ed: “Republicans and the Thatcher Legacy.” Andrew Roberts, Wall Street Journal.
"The former Massachusetts governor is right to try to make unemployment the central campaign issue. No American president since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with an unemployment rate higher than 7.2%, and the current rate is 9.1%." FULL POST
1. Syrians flee Security Forces, a former Secretary of State calls for an inquiry into crimes against humanity, and a brother is detained
“In Fleeing Security Forces, Syrians Get an Unexpected Taste of Freedom.” New York Times.
"For the last month, refugees have fled to the border zone from across the rural northwestern province of Idlib, where security forces burned fields and assaulted communities to try to tame a string of towns that hosted larger and larger antigovernment protests each week. The government effort to crush the months-long popular uprising has left more than 1,400 people dead, activists said, and at least 10,000 detained."
Op-Ed: “Assad deserves a swift trip to The Hague.” Madeleine Albright and Marwan Muasher. Financial Times.
"Mr Assad appears to believe that, like his father, he can act with impunity in denying his people’s right to organise politically and to petition peacefully for change. For several reasons, many understandable, the international community is not taking the same stance towards Syria as it did towards Libya." FULL POST