Tag Archives: Iraq

The Middle East – who cares?

Or at least, who cares enough to try to start thinking anew? The region is burning. Apart from the parties to the conflicts who want to win, nobody seems to have any idea of what to do. Continue reading

Intervention in Libya? A case of shooting slowly from the hip

Only ten days ago, when UK Prime Minister David Cameron put up the flag for a no-fly zone over Libya, nobody saluted. Now the British and French are drafting a UN Security Council Resolution. After all, you cannot just sit and watch the dictator wield overhwelming force so he and his disgusting son can hang onto power and not think something should be done to stop him.

True enough – but you should think very, very carefully about what can and should be done. Continue reading

DFID leaks about aid and security

As the UK government reviews its bilateral and multilateral aid programmes and moves towards reshaping aid policy, there have been a couple of leaks and a bit of background noise.  So what do they add up to and what do they tell us about how the wind blows?  Continue reading

Obama, 1 year in: flaws aren’t failure – but there are new risks in policy towards Iran

President Barack Obama has handed himself his sharpest challenge yet: a year of showing his unclenched fist to Iran has produced nothing and now he is toughening up his stance with a missile shield for the US naval forces in the Gulf. What will this do to his presidency? There was so much hope and much of that energy remains, even if it is not being so effectively tapped, but in confronting Iran, might Obama seriously lose his way?

Continue reading

Obama in power (13): is the war in Afghanistan a Just War?

President Obama used the occasion of his Nobel lecture as he accepted the 2009 Peace Prize in Oslo on 10 December to defend the idea that war can be a legitimate means of upholding the larger peace, and specifically to argue that the US and allied war effort in Afghanistan is a just war.  Did he convince? Continue reading

Obama in power (11): Hope’s prize

The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has not done either President Obama or itself any favours by awarding him this year’s prize. It’s an award for promise rather than achievement. Read the citation and it sounds pretty much like saying, ‘We award the prize to the most popular man in the world because we like his views.’ Continue reading

Obama in power (10): Cairo – brilliant speech but that awkward question persists

President Obama’s speech in Cairo on 4 June offers further evidence of his unrivalled communication skills and of his will and capacity to address thorny issues by reframing and reshaping them in a way that offers new openings for change and improvement. As an opening to the Muslim world, is it possible to imagine an American president doing better given the realities in which he works? For many of the issues he raised, the question is if interlocutors and counterparts will step forward able to use the opportunities he is creating. And over Israel and Palestine, that is a familiar and awkward question. Continue reading

Counting the most peaceful countries – and the least

How do you recognise how peaceful countries are and systematically compare them to each other? And how do you work out what makes countries peaceful? And if we all knew the answers to these questions would we be more able to make the world more peaceful? Figuring the answer to the third question is yes, the Global Peace Index tries to answer the first two. It is now published for the third successive year. Continue reading

Obama in power (9): To strengthen peace in the Middle East, the first big step is in the US

It’s a big week for US policy and the Middle East, a defining moment for the Obama administration’s impact. What happens this week will not alone be enough to achieve regional cooperation with the US on peace and security but, if it goes wrong, that will be enough to make that cooperation next to impossible for several years again.  Continue reading

Obama in power (6):policies clarifying, pattern still hazy

By the time Obama was inaugurated, he had promised so much, there was a risk that he could only disappoint. Let’s not get too carried away in these tough times, but there is some much needed good news: perfect his administration is not, but the first signs in foreign policy are far from negative. This extended post surveys the key issues. Continue reading