Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, provides medical care in some of the most desperate places on Earth. This often means sending workers into warzones where they can easily become ‘collateral damage’ or come face to face with homicidal militants, yet the organization does take steps to protect its workers. This is why the organization was compelled to issue blistering condemnation against the United States for its wrongful bombing of the Kunduz, Afghanistan hospital in 2015. It is also why the organization had to end operations in Northern Yemen under Saudi-Coalition bombardments, which have provoked harsh criticism of the US and its regional allies.
That said, the parents of humanitarian aid worker Kayla Mueller, who was tortured, raped, and killed while held captive by the Islamic State, have revealed that the leadership of Doctors Without Borders believes the organization had no “moral responsibility” to negotiate their daughter’s release, even as they secured the release of their own staff members. Mueller was not a MSF employee or contractor while she was not authorized to travel with her co-captives. Mueller made the decision to tag along with her boyfriend, who was contracted by Doctors Without Borders, so the organization probably should not be held legally responsibility for its failure to prevent unauthorized travelers from utilizing their vehicles in warzones.
Apple has ranked as the highest valued company in the world for years. In a bid to avoid paying its share for government services, which help keep the American and European economies stable for companies like Apple, Apple had allegedly made a special deal with Ireland to reduce its European tax burden to 2%. Although many argue international businesses should only be taxed where they earn their profits, Apple is also deferring US tax payments, which provides Apple with a monetary benefit akin to an interest-free loan not enjoyed by other US taxpayers, by declining to repatriate its overseas earnings. Apple is, however, utilizing the US Treasury, at the expense of US taxpayers, in its defense against a potential $19 billion tax judgment.
To prevent free riders from utilizing “intra-national” competition to suppress tax rates and tax revenue to unsustainable levels, European Union members have agreed to bar tax-advantages and other state-aid that is not available to all businesses. Doing so prevents EU countries from undermining each others’ regulatory and tax capacity. This is similar to how commerce between the States in the United States is supposed to be protected. European Union members have also agreed to enforce this prohibition by requiring member nations to reclaim any taxes that should have been paid. These are the rules. The US Treasury should defend against the unfair targeting of US-based companies, but it must also hold companies like Apple accountable for taxes owed.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…." wrote John Dalberg-Acton on April 5, 1887 in a letter to Mandell Creighton. While Lord Acton’s observation was aimed at the widespread view that the King and Pope were presumed to be above wrongdoing, his words resonate far and wide today in a world where the powerful appear to believe they are entitled to absolute impunity from their wrongdoing. As Lord Acton recognized, corruption is a product of human nature; therefore, the only means of overcoming corruption is to prevent the consolidation of power under one absolute leader.
Kings hold absolute political power in a monarchy and Popes hold absolute spiritual power in the Church, but they do not necessarily have absolute power. After all, power takes many forms, including political, academic, economic, ideological, theological, technological, and military power. By creating a strong legal system, educating people, and fostering a broad-base middle class, for example, separation of power can be ensured to a large degree. Unfortunately, abusive leaders and other power seekers continually strive to legitimize, consolidate, and solidify their power, which is why the Peoples of the world must recognize and confront the threat of corruption.
International Governance: Antagonist, Overly Competitive Foreign Policies Threaten Global Cooperation
The Brexit referendum drew a great of attention in late June, because Britain’s decision to exit the European Union was seen as the beginning of the end for the European Union and, ultimately, international governance. International governance is required to maintain a high degree of peace and stability across the globe. This writer has argued the Brexit was actually just an example of a country recalibrating its diplomatic relations to better reflect the interests of its People. On the other hand, events like the Ukraine Crisis, failing international intervention in the Syrian Civil War, and the South China Sea Crisis are not.
Although these conflicts involve confrontations between powerful nations and shifts in relations between countries, the overly competitive nature of these conflicts makes them threats to international governance. Competition is an inherent part of life, but too much competition is utterly counterproductive as it leads to mutually destructive conflict. To build communities and nations, cooperation is essential. When competition between antagonistic political factions becomes so fierce that nations can no longer be governed, deep divisions eventually degenerate into violent conflicts that tear nations apart, i.e. they lead to civil war.
The Syrian Civil War continues to hold the attention of the international media like few other stories, yet the more than five-year long conflict is important to the world for two major reasons. First, the Syrian Civil War demonstrates the impotence of the International Community. Not only has the toothless United Nations failed to broker peace between warring parties in Syria, the strength of the United States and other major military powers has been rendered useless due to the strategic need to avoid entanglement and mission creep. Above all, the Syrian Civil War is not just a war; it is the conflict that has drawn the most attention in the Arab Spring Revolutions-era Middle East, thus the failures in Syria are symbolic of the failures seen across the region.
Second, the Syrian Civil War is a proxy war between Russia and the United States. The ongoing Ukraine Crisis is also a proxy war between Russia and the United States, but Russian President Vladimir Putin chose to make the Middle Eastern struggle into a proxy war when he intervened on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the fall of 2015. Hoping to capitalize on the Islamic State threat, it appeared Putin’s strategic goal was to force the United States and Europe to choose between the defense of Ukrainian sovereignty and the threat of terrorism. Instead of bogging down NATO forces in Syria and reversing punitive measures against Putin, the West has chosen to maintain the status quo, which has meant disaster for the Syrian People.
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