UK’s European policy – already broken? or magician’s distraction?

I finished my first post-Brexit post by noting the “exquisitely sharp dilemma” Britain’s new Prime Minister has to manage. That was before she seemingly decided to sharpen the dilemma by appointing Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. But some of Theresa May‘s other new Cabinet appointments may give more reason for serious reflection.  Continue reading

Brexit breaks it – but the UK’s number one foreign policy objective remains Europe

Still reeling from Brexit? You should be. Europe is. Britain will be for years. On all fronts. The ones who manufactured Britain’s new impasse have all left the stage. The second woman and 76th person to be Britain’s Prime Minister was not a Brexiter though some expected her to be. She faces quite some challenge in reconstructing Britain’s relationship to Europe.

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European security. Crisis? What crisis?

The tone of this year’s Munich Security Conference – the Davos of global security – was captured by the Munich Security Report’s theme: ‘Boundless chaos, reckless spoilers, helpless guardians.’ The front page headline on The Security Times, a conference special edition from the stable of Die Zeit, featured a box of matches and urged an appropriate response: ‘Don’t do stupid stuff.’ Continue reading

Syria: Geneva III, the nettle of negotiation (again), and ISIS (again)

Two years ago, the Geneva II talks on Syria took place. As they began, their prospects could be optimistically viewed as “virtually zero“. On Friday 29 January, Geneva III talks are due to begin and prospects do not look much better. That doesn’t mean they are a waste of time. Continue reading

From the War on Terror to war on ISIS

French reaction to the November 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and injured over 300 has turned the War on Terror into a war on ISIS. France has stepped up its bombing raids on ISIS, aiming, President François Hollande has said, to ‘destroy’ the organisation. Alongside these quickly decided military measures, other kinds of response have received much less attention. Continue reading

The Tunisian Spring and the Nobel Peace Prize

The ‘Arab Spring’ was triggered by the self-sacrifice of a Tunisian. Four years later Tunisia is the only country where the Spring’s early promise persists and, despite extreme pressures and many risks, political change is unfolding relatively peacefully. The new Nobel laureates, the National Dialogue Quartet, are an important part of the reason why. Here is some of the background. Continue reading

Syria: grasping the nettle of negotiation

Russia’s military intervention in Syria brings a dramatic new dimension to a protracted, brutal conflict. The war will go on, however, and nothing so far suggests it will end any time soon with victory for one side or another. If peace is to come about other than through exhaustion, then, it can only be by agreement. And that means everybody grasping the nettle of negotiation. Continue reading