Sunday 25th of September 2022

the relaunch of history…….

The recent festival of big Western politics – which began with a meeting of the European Council, continued with the G7 Summit, and ended with a major NATO gathering – provides plenty of food for thought about the fate of the world.

On the surface, what we have seen is impressive: The West is showing unprecedented unity in the face of the Russian campaign in Ukraine.


BY Fyodor Lukyanov


Why the West has failed to get the rest of the world on board to support its confrontation with Russia


The US-led bloc no longer offers the only viable model for development, which means its ability to impose its will is fading  

America has gathered almost all of its allies. Right now, from Australia to Norway, from Singapore to Portugal, and from Japan to Iceland, the agenda is the same – to prevent the success of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who represents a rejection of the so-called ‘rules-based order’.

The brutality and irreversibility of what is happening in Ukraine gives the situation the character of a moral choice. Almost all statements from Western leaders refer to a confrontation between "civilization and barbarism". Accordingly, they believe, there should be no doubt about which side to take.

The Western community has now reached maximum capacity – its European flank (EU and NATO members plus Ukraine and Moldova), its Asian club (South Korea, Japan, and Singapore stopped wavering and took the ‘right’ side), the Oceania pairing, and of course, North America. The ‘free world’ has never been so vast.

This raises a serious question, however. Has the West reached its natural limit beyond which expansion is no longer possible? And if so, what does it mean?

In fact, the topic of the limits of Western influence stems from the notorious concept of the ‘end of history’, which is already so worn out that it is even inconvenient to bring it up. Nevertheless, it is appropriate in this context. Francis Fukuyama’s reflections (he was recently banned from entering Russia, as it happens) led him to conclude that with the collapse of the communist alternative, the only question that remained was how soon and how painlessly the Western economic and socio–political model – which had proved its virtues in the showdown with the USSR – would spread to the rest of the world. The author admitted that it would not be without snags, but in general, the direction was determined once and for all.

How things actually played out after the collapse of the USSR is well known, and despite the fact that numerous crises in developed countries have dimmed the view of the expected path of development, the system has been preserved – and no one has yet come close to the Western world in terms of well-being and comfort. And the Western media still has a near-monopoly on determining the picture of what is happening on a global scale. This means it has a huge head start. But the limit seems to have been reached.

Perhaps the main surprise resulting from the events of recent months is that the West has failed to engage so much of the world in a united front against Russia – the exceptions being those who are already part of the West and a few who passionately want to join the club.

This is unexpected, since few people approve of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Moscow is dealing with problems that are seemingly irrelevant to anyone but itself, and the harsh methods and humanitarian consequences of the conflict do not elicit much sympathy from outside. In other words, objectively, the West has an excellent chance to win over most of the rest of the world by taking the line that its cause here is about opposition to barbarism.

But this is not happening. Why? There are perhaps three main reasons.

Firstly, the non-Western world knows perfectly well that wars on the planet have never stopped, including in the last 30 years, and statements from the EU states about the era of ‘harmony and prosperity’ that Putin interrupted are perceived as both selfishness and hypocrisy. Telling people in the Middle East, for example, that Russia has violated every conceivable moral standard is, to put it mildly, difficult in light of what the region has experienced since the Cold War ended.

Secondly, most in the former third world see the current events as the culmination of a long-standing conflict related to the assertive policies of the US and its allies regarding the territories directly adjacent to Russia. Their attitude is something like: ‘What did you expect would happen when you provoked the tiger?’

Finally, the reaction of the majority of the planet illustrates their irritation with the West as a whole. It is perceived as a hegemon with a colonial history which is always abusing its powers. The reason is not support for Russia’s actions, but opposition to the West’s attempts to impose its will on others, which often harms their own interests. Also, schadenfreude over America’s failed attempts to impose its will compensates for any doubts about the legitimacy of Moscow’s actions.

In other words, it’s not about sympathy for Russia, but antipathy to the West.

Western leaders are both surprised and alarmed by this situation. If the initial calls to join the boycott of Russia amounted to orders, now the demands have been replaced by exhortations and attempts to promise something in return. The selection of the G7 Summit guests – the presidents of India, Indonesia, Senegal, Argentina, and South Africa – is indicative.

The invited parties were warmly welcomed. Everyone was in a hurry to tap Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the shoulder and give him attention. But apart from general statements, nothing happened. And almost in parallel with the events in Europe, Modi participated in a virtual BRICS summit, and Argentina, it seems, together with Iran, has applied to join this emerging association.

The position of non-Western states is dictated not only by anti-colonial instincts, although they do exist. More importantly, in the new conditions, it is difficult for the West to offer the leading countries of the rest of the world anything that would force them to radically change their positions. There are now alternative sources of resources for development – ​​a number of members of the former third world today have money, skills, and to some extent, technology. The West is still ahead of them in many ways, but – and this is fundamentally important – it has now completely lost the desire to share its advantages.

Simply because it now fears competition from them – the experience of American support for the development of China is considered a mistake by the current elites.

Developing countries are of course interested in Western investment, but the nature of interaction is also changing. To put it mildly, the former third world is becoming more demanding and picky, and the West’s ability to impose its own conditions has weakened amid large-scale global changes.

The series of meetings in Europe was intended to show that the West is still the undisputed vanguard of the world, which has both the right and responsibility to lead others. For instance, NATO is once again attempting to become a global organization rather than regional.

The bloc’s most recent experience of this kind – in Afghanistan – ended in embarrassment. But now the approach is more natural – opposition to Russia.

As they see it, Russia is a threat to Western European security (as it was in the glory days of NATO), but it is also a dangerous pariah for all mankind, so opposing it will help expand the US-led club globally. Moreover, the specter of China looms – a systemic competitor to the West and, even better, an accomplice of ‘the Russians’.

How much the Western world itself is united for the full implementation of such a mission is a topic for another article. There are a lot of nuances here. However, even assuming that this is the case, there is no reason to think that NATO’s ambition will meet with understanding beyond its borders.

As a consequence, the broad refusal to recognize the right of the West to lead means there will no longer be a world order based on Western rules.





FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW ################


killing critical thinking…...


by Cherise Trump


The proposed new Title IX regulations by President Biden’s Department of Education have opened the door for universities to restrict and compel student speech even more than they already do. If universities follow these guidelines, students’ First Amendment rights will be jettisoned, rigorous debate will perish, and students’ tuition dollars will be diverted to litigate the free speech issues that will surely arise.

Title IX is a 1972 federal law which bars discrimination based on sex in education. It says that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” The law empowers the Department of Education to create federal regulations implementing that directive. These regulations define discrimination “on the basis of sex,” outline how institutions should conduct investigations, and detail how they must treat all parties involved. As with many laws, presidential administrations have historically struggled to balance their federal Title IX regulations with the U.S. Constitution and the principles that govern the American way of life.

The most recent changes to Title IX regulations were made in 2020 to rectify some glaring and obvious shortcomings of previous administrations that raised multiple free speech and due process concerns. The 2020 rules were an important milestone in the history of Title IX because they employed the standard adopted by the Supreme Court in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education. Under the Davis standard, universities can punish conduct, but they cannot punish pure speech. Schools can only punish expressive activity that is “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” that it can be properly viewed as harassing conduct that effectively denies another student access to an education. This standard allows universities to regulate harassment under Title IX while complying with the First Amendment and protecting the rights of their students. Many universities, however, have disregarded the current federal guidelines and created harassment policies that shut down and chill student speech.

Universities have made it increasingly clear that they have an affinity for regulating student speech. Through various policies such as “free speech zones,” bias reporting systems, speech codes, and other restrictions, they have managed to chill student speech to a level we have never seen before. A tactic that often goes overlooked by the public, however, is when colleges and universities use harassment policies to target speech. So, before we discuss how bad it can get with these new Title IX regulations, we should understand how bad it already is.

Two things are currently happening on campuses. First, universities are disregarding the current regulations implemented in 2020. For example, New York University, has thrown out the “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” standard entirely and replaced it with “from the viewpoint of a reasonable person under all the relevant circumstances.” What’s reasonable? What are all the relevant circumstances? Who is to decide? A Diversity Equity and Inclusion administrator who’s paid to find violations?

If they’re not jettisoning Davis entirely, schools are slyly broadening it. The established standard clearly and specifically lays out the key aspects for universities to take into consideration when they are contemplating prosecution of a student for harassment: the objective severity of the incident and whether the incident is taking place often enough to detract from the victim’s education. Universities around the country will often change the “and” to an “or,” like at Yale University.

Language is important when it comes to matters of the law. A simple “and” versus an “or” can change the definition of a sentence entirely. Specifically, the reported incident can either be pervasive, offensive, or severe instead of a combination of all three. Therefore, incidents like microaggressions (which are whatever someone says they are), one-off incidents, offensive jokes, social media banter—all things that do not in actuality, prevent equal access to education—could be punished by the university and leave a black mark on a student’s permanent record.

The second and more explicit action we are seeing from universities, is their creation and enforcement of additional harassment policies which target constitutionally protected speech listing overbroad and subjective examples of what harassment is. There is no federal standard for the number of harassment policies universities can have. Therefore, many of them have implemented their Title IX policies while tacking on other “harassment” policies that target whatever they want. Oftentimes, these are lumped in with their sexual harassment policies and labeled “other forms of harassment,” like at Tulane University, but sometimes they are separate “discriminatory harassment” policies or “anti-harassment” policies that are included on their Title IX website or adjacently to their Title IX policies in their student handbook.

Therefore, students have no other option but to assume these additional harassment policies are considered equivalent to Title IX federal regulations. These parallel policies have no accountability to federal regulations and often contain definitions of “harassment” that are so overbroad that they could easily be applied to a wide variety of protected speech. Even more blatant, many universities, like American University, actually list examples of “harassment” under these policies that include various forms of constitutionally protected speech such as “jokes,” “offensive comments,” and “showing aversion towards an individual or group.”

Biden’s Department of Education and their proposed rules do nothing to rectify the issues and blatant free speech violations listed above; in fact, they exacerbate them. The newly proposed rules write off the Davis standard entirely, stating that it is irrelevant to the Administration’s definition of harassment. But Davis is anything but irrelevant. This standard—which the Biden Administration is so quick to toss out—protects student speech and open inquiry by drawing a line between conduct (which universities can prohibit) and mere speech (which they cannot). It is meant to protect students from Title IX policies that would punish students for merely expressing their opinions and ideas, even if those opinions or ideas are distasteful to others. By defining “harassment” more broadly than Davis allows, the proposed rule likely violates the First Amendment.

The Davis Standard currently prevents schools from completely shutting down speech they believe to be offensive or controversial. And even though some schools choose not to abide by this federal standard, the law is still on the side of the students if the schools decide to go after them. The notion that the First Amendment does not constrain the federal government’s ability to regulate speech is absurd. In fact, that is specifically its purpose.

As noted, many schools already have difficulty respecting their students’ First Amendment rights. They don’t need further encouragement from the federal government.

One cannot help but speculate on the intent of such a policy change. By including gender identity as a protected class in the Title IX policy and then opening the door for universities to conduct federally sanctioned regulations on student speech, it is clear that this is the beginning of compelled speech via the use of “preferred pronouns.” We have already seen evidence of this in Wisconsin, where the Kiel Area School District launched a Title IX investigation into three middle school boys for not using “they, them” pronouns with one of their peers.

Looking ahead, we can see what will come soon after the compelling of pronouns. Countries with very little concern for the freedoms that Americans hold dear, such as Canada, have enforced compelled speech laws for years now, prosecuting, fining, and even jailing individuals who insist on using correct English grammar. It’s not hard to connect the dots here. Universities are already on board with speech codes and restrictions. It won’t be a far leap for them to create Title IX policies that punish students for not using certain pronouns. This is an aggressive form of compelled speech that directly violates the First Amendment and universities will have the support of the federal government to do it.

The First Amendment supersedes the authority and whims of the Department of Education. Remember how the constitution was designed to protect our rights from government encroachment? This is the exact scenario the founders had in mind. We need to flood the administration with comments and force them to explain themselves. State legislators should be on the lookout for universities that are violating the First Amendment and restrict university funding where possible. Furthermore, the states should consider passing laws that protect students from Title IX abuses and anticipate these laws going head-to-head with the federal regulations.

It is vital that universities recognize the primacy of the U.S. Constitution over the authority of the federal government and over their own policies. Sadly, what must happen is for those of us who care about our liberties to fight these actions in the courts. It is a travesty when the government knowingly challenges and attacks specific Constitutional rights. This is a sinister and blatant attempt by the Biden administration, hoping no one reads the fine print, to undermine the basic guidelines provided to protect Americans’ rights. At Speech First, a nationwide community of free speech supporters, we know how to read. And we have lawyers.

Cherise Trump is Speech First’s executive director and is the host of Speech First’s new live show and podcast, Well Said, where she interviews experts, activists, professors, and students about free speech, higher education, and American culture. She earned her master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University where she was a Rumsfeld Graduate Fellow and earned her bachelor’s degree from George Mason University.