Greetings and welcome to my blog. I’ve recently started a new job (see the “About the author” page) so I am not perfectly sure how blogging will unfold but I am hoping I have a bit more time for the blog and can post on it a bit more frequently.
So what is it and why do I bother alongside my day job?
This is a place for discussing international events, trends and policies, airing and exploring ideas for how to understand key issues and what to do about them. My posts look at the impersonal ways that events and policies play out and as we feel our way through the changing world they discuss how things are and what can be done about them. I try to write about these big picture issues in ways that you can understand regardless of whether you have specific subject expertise – and I range across a pretty wide range of subjects.
This evolving blog
As I have been writing the blog, what it focuses on has evolved. I began by focusing on four inter-related themes: climate change, conflict and peace, the economic crunch and power. Doing this, in the first half of 2009 I put particular emphasis on the international actions and policies of the then-new Presidency of Barack Obama (under the heading of power), and I devoted a few posts to the London G-20 summit. In the second half of 2009 I focused rather less on the economic crunch and a little more than before on international development and on climate change in the lead-up to the Copenhagen climate summit in December and its failure.
In 2010, I focused on climate change, conflict and development and the political challenges that surround them and put some time into looking at how they might be affected – could be affected if the right choices are made – by the establishment of the EU’s new External Action Service.
In 2011 the inevitable focus became the wave of change in the Middle East. I was especially concerned about how intervention was being discussed – both during the Egyptian events in February 2011 and then again and more pointedly from March onwards as armed intervention in Libya was first discussed and then carried out.
By the end of 2011 I was wanting to get into some of the more big picture issues around peace and conflict – and this was partly shaped – or at least motivated – by the way violent conflict briefly exploded in England with the summer riots. I felt this particularly strongly because the street next to where I lived in Hackney, east London, was in flames one night, with my own street closed by the police while the helicopters circled overhead. I vacated the blogosphere for a few months around that time, partly in order to do some research and thinking about some of those big picture issues.
I started up again in September 2012 and with a series of blogs that were mainly on these big issues. As 2014 began, I linked them my position at International Alert to write a fair bit on the big peace and conflict trends of our time.
But, it has to be said straightaway, not them alone: one of the things I have learned to enjoy about blogging is that there it offers the freedom to go where I want with my thinking, my preoccupations and my research. So there’s quite a variety of issues that come to the surface when this blog is active.
I want to work out my own ideas, express myself, hear back from you. Here is some of what I aim for with this blog:
To make the connections between different issues and between global trends and local, human-scale realities.
To respect the complexity of the problems, while dealing with them in language and with arguments that are as clear as I can make them.
This means I often take a bit of time before leaping out with opinions and positions so I’m sometimes not as immediately topical as I’d otherwise like to be. And I’m afraid it also means that my blog posts are often quite long. If you’re used to snappy tweeting, my posts that come through at 1500-3000 words a time may be something of a change of pace.
To be some kind of a compass for navigating a confusing world.
To be part of a conversation with people who share my concerns and my focus on latitudinal and longitudinal linkages.
(Updated September 2015)