Newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rohani said his June 14 win was a “victory of wisdom and moderation” over “extremism and immorality.” He pledged to bring peace, stability, and “expansion of ties” with the world. Rohani got a surprising surge of support after reformist leaders, denied votes in 2009 elections, rallied behind him. While he may publicly move Iran away from the radical posturing of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he is unlikely to shift Iran’s policy on nuclear weapons and other issues—areas technically controlled by the ruling ayatollahs on Iran's Guardian Council.
But the feeling on the streets in Tehran was positive: “Eight years of humiliation of having [Ahmadinejad] are finally over, ” said a 31-year-old graduate of photography. “Regardless of what Rohani can do, it is important that we will not feel ashamed any more when our president’s image is shown in the world.”
Finding a settlement to over two years’ civil war in Syria dominates the G8 summit in Northern Ireland that begins today. British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama will use Northern Ireland as an example of reconciliation and peace possible among warring ethnic and religious factions.
But Russia has no interest in negotiating the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, argues John Bolton: “While Mr. Obama sleepwalks, Mr. Putin is ardently pursuing Russia's Middle East objectives. He has always been clear about his larger goals.
Obama is sleepwalking the U.S. into another war, with potentially greater consequences than the war in Iraq as it puts the U.S. in a proxy war with Russia and Iran, between Shiite and Sunni factions, writes scholar Ramzy Mardini in this must-read:
The responsible role of a lone superpower is not to pick sides in a civil war; it’s to help enable conflict resolution while maintaining a policy of neutrality. Instead, the United States came down on one side of a regional sectarian conflict, inadvertently fomenting Sunni hubris and Shiite fear — the same effects (but in reverse) caused by America’s involvement in the Iraq war.
A big clue things are headed in the wrong direction: Bill Clinton and John McCain agree that U.S. intervention in Syria is necessary.
Nelson Mandela remains hospitalized for a lung infection in South Africa. The 94-year-old, anti-apartheid hero has received thousands of cards, letters, tweets, and songs, his family said, during 10 days’ hospitalization.
Edward Snowden did the right thing in blowing the cover on a massive NSA surveillance regime, say three NSA veterans who have tried for years to serve as whistleblowers. The trio have faced federal prosecution while trying to remain inside NSA and in the United States, and have had more direct contact with what one calls "a very systemic, very broad, a Leviathan surveillance state" than Snowden.
William Binney, a cryptographer with 40 years' experience at NSA, said the three have been "trying to get the government to recognize the unconstitutional, illegal activity that they were doing and openly admit that and devise certain ways that would be constitutionally and legally acceptable to achieve the ends they were really after. And that just failed totally because no one in Congress or — we couldn't get anybody in the courts, and certainly the Department of Justice and inspector general's office didn't pay any attention to it."