Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Can tactical voting save the UK’s own Unions?

Can Tories, by voting Labour, save their own party from destroying itself with a hard Brexit?

by Ira Straus

Tactical voting occurs on a large scale in every British election. It is a normal part of the system in first past the post elections. There is nothing unseemly about it.

Usually, tactical voting has been done primarily by supporters of third parties such as the LibDems. It has drastically reduced the votes that go to these parties, as they are seen as “wasted votes”. This year it is going to do nearly the opposite.

What has changed is not the tactical voting per se but the fact that many major party voters are now considering tactical voting.

Britain is seen by a majority of voters as existentially at risk from both the major party leaderships. Many among the major party voters are for the first time contemplating voting tactically, in order to avoid this perceived catastrophe. Important Conservative and Labour remainers alike have advocated voting tactically against their own party.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

China Needs Imperial Realism on Hong Kong

A National Interest article
by Ira Straus
Chair, Center for War-Peace Studies

Hong Kong was declared in 1997 an autonomous “system” within China, but it was always more than that. A decade of threats from China since 2008 has driven the difference to grow further: from distinctive society into a distinctive nation.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

What has gotten into Juncker and Macron?

Federal Trust blogs
by Ira Straus
Chair, Center for War-Peace Studies

The EU needs to give a year-long extension so Parliament can sort out Brexit properly

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Links to Videos from Tiananman Days

A walk down memory lane

My thanks to the people who have sent in appreciations of my reminiscences about the Chinese student movement in 1989. Here are a couple links from the time, unfiltered:

Bernard Yoh, Feng Sheng-ping, Ira Straus, on the democracy desmontrations in China. May 12, 1989

http://www.c-span.org/video/?18675-1/events-yugoslavia   Mihajlov Mihajlov and Ira Straus on the break-up of Yugoslavia, July 2, 1991

It was only recently that I saw that C-span has uploaded these old archived videos onto the internet. Viewing them thirty years on, I was greatly impressed by what my old colleagues had to say. How much they knew. How much they foresaw.


An open moment in history, when everything seemed possible. A time of huge changes. Which quickly turned into huge gains and huge losses. Successful transformations and failed transformations, on a global scale. Realized and lost opportunities, on a historic scale. The lost ones bringing about, first, repressions in China, wars in Yugoslavia; later, frightful global problems that we now face from Ukraine to the South China Sea.

The window closed.

For us, as federalists...

It brings back a brief time, when it was possible to talk on mainstream public platforms about union of countries, a hopeful union that seemed at hand in place of the Communist unions that were coming apart. When Russians as well as Eastern Europeans wanted to be a part of the Western system of union. Even in that period it was not easy to get the media to pay attention to this, not even when James Baker himself spoke of federalism as the new model from Vancouver to Vladivostok; but sometimes it proved possible. For talk about union not just in general but up to and including federation; not just as a goal or ideal of our small group, but as a matter immediately at stake in the events that were shaking the world.

For me, this is a bittersweet memory. A time of hope, a time of historical achievements in many countries, historic opportunities lost in still larger ones. Crisis, so the Chinese character tells us, always includes opportunity; opportunity, if not realized, always leaves an opening for crisis. Perhaps we federalists were too few to make the difference that was needed, perhaps not enough focused on the needs and opportunities suddenly emerging from the fading of Communism. I wonder, will such a time of opportunity come back for us...

best regards to all,

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Tiananman and the Chinese Student Movement in America:

A personal reminiscence

Ira Straus

I took it personally when Tiananman was suppressed in 1989. When I was involved in my own small way, and I feel it'd be worth sharing a few reminiscences here.

In 1987 I had contacted a few Chinese friends in America about the Shanghai demonstrations. In 1989, using what I had learned from those contacts, I got in touch, during the early phase of the 1989 demonstrations with the China Spring people. “China Spring” was the name of their publication since 1987; their formal organization was the Chinese Alliance for Democracy. Their US group consisted of relatively young Chinese students studying in America, along with former students.

China Spring's US offices were at that point only in NY. I gave them free office and boarding space in DC, in the townhouse that belonged to Federal Union -- by that time it was renamed the Association to Unite the Democracies, and I had been executive director since the early 1980s. From this base of operations, they organized a China Solidarity Committee, mixing Chinese students with the loads of Americans who wanted to find a way to help.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Tiananman: Days of Hope

And the Night When The World Took a Turn for The Worse
by Ira Straus

I would like to make this posting in memory of my friends who were involved in the Chinese democracy movement of 1989. Their cause was one of great importance for the prospects for global solidarity. Alas, they lost.

It was a night the world took a turn for the worse. The demonstrations in Beijing had been going on for weeks, with about a million people in the square on many days and evenings. Then, 30 years ago to the day, it was suppressed, with a number of dead; estimates range from the quasi-government one of 300 (conveniently limiting the count to the square itself) to 10,000 in all of Beijing. The leaders were subsequently hunted down and jailed for years, those who were not able to escape abroad.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Parliament Risks Failing Out for Want of an Adequate Voting Procedure

Federal Trust blog
by Ira Straus
Chair, Center for War-Peace Studies

Only a single transferable vote can guarantee a timely result.

READ MORE AThttps://fedtrust.co.uk/parliament-risks-failing-out-for-want-of-an-adequate-voting-procedure/

Where Next with Parliament's Voting Procedures on Multiple Options?

Two Federal Trust blog
by Ira Straus
Chair, Center for War-Peace Studies

In setting forth procedures for deciding its preference among the multiple Brexit options, Parliament has shown wisdom on one point, unwisdom on another. It is wise in allowing five calendar days for its members to converse and caucus among one another to refine their views and choices in-between the first and second day of voting. It was unwise in its method of voting on the first day, each option voted upon as if to vote it up or down rather than an order of preference indicated.

READ MORE AThttps://fedtrust.co.uk/where-next-with-parliaments-voting-procedures-on-the-multiple-options/

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The meaning of Theresa May's one legitimate Red Line

A Federal Trust blog
by Ira Straus
Chair, Center for War-Peace Studies

Of all Theresa May’s red lines, one and only one is legitimately termed “Red”: the one that prohibits any Brexit that divides the United Kingdom. It is Red as it is a vital national interest, indeed the foremost of all national interests. Anything that promotes the break-up of the country might, in ordinary conditions, be seen as treasonous, a term that should not be thrown around lightly, nor also ceded to the spinners of romantic fairy tales.

t is a red line that prohibits the wishes of the hard Brexiters. It is a red line that prohibits many of the other, alleged red lines. And it is a red line that prohibits a critical portion of Mrs May’s own policies.

READ MORE AThttps://fedtrust.co.uk/the-meaning-of-theresa-mays-one-legitimate-red-line/

Image: Results by council district (GB) & UK Parliament constituency (NI)