This time the riot was not in the Middle East, not in troubled Africa but deep in the booming heartland of East Asia, in a workers’ dormitory in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, north China. At first it was a brawl between 2,000 factory workers and some security guards. Then it escalated into a full-blown riot and 5,000 police officers had to be called in to quell the mayhem.
What’s going on here? The factory involved is owned by Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology, one of the largest electronic companies in the world and a major supplier to corporate titans Apple and Microsoft. It employs about 1.1 million workers all over China.
The problem, from the point of view of the Palestinians, is how to put an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. That occupation has been marked by the harshest oppression you can imagine.
On the other hand, from the point of view of the Israeli government, the problem is that Palestinians do not recognize the right of Israel to exist. Hence, a Palestine that is free to do what it likes is an existential threat to Israel. To keep that threat in check, Israel continues to occupy Palestine and to deny Palestine’s right to establish a state in its own homeland.
On August 26, Vice President Boediono and Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa were scheduled to fly to the Iranian capital of Teheran for the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), where the vice president would represent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
While there, they could not have possibly missed observing that the leaders of Iran and many of its people were making a big show of their high morale. But underneath the smiles and the bravado, the Iranians knew they were facing grim prospects. I don’t just mean the impact of an earthquake that killed hundreds: Since more than a year ago, Iranians have borne a deep sense of being under siege.
How do you respond to a tragedy? If you are or would be a national leader, you should respond with statesmanship. Choose your words carefully. Get your brain and your heart working in tandem and in overdrive.
On the night of Sept. 11, enraged by a YouTube film insulting Islam, protesters led by well-armed militants stormed US diplomatic offices in Cairo and Benghazi. The following morning, reports trickled in that the US Ambassador to Libya, John Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans had perished in the Benghazi attack.
Now that the debris of the Republican and Democratic national conventions in the United States have been swept away, you’d think there should now be some peace and quiet on the American political landscape. No such luck. The sound and the fury of the political campaign will keep rising to a crescendo and both sides will say all kinds of stupid things until the votes are cast on Nov. 6.
So will Barack Obama be reelected or will Mitt Romney be no. 45? There is no lack of crystal-ball gazers who say that Obama will win, perhaps by a landslide. There are just as many seers who say that Romney will waltz away with the election. The truth is nobody knows.
The timing could not have been better: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had just given the leaders of Iran, host of the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, a severe “scolding” on their failure to comply with UN resolutions on the Iranian nuclear program and to reach a satisfactory arrangement with the International Atomic Energy Agency on access by its inspectors to Iranian nuclear sites.
For good measure, he advised them to do something about their country’s dismal track record on human rights.