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
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
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
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
Speaking last Friday at the US Marine Corps Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina President Obama announced a big reduction in US troop numbers in Iraq from 142,000 down to 50,000 by August next year, with all US forces out by the end of 2011. So he has made his intentions clear. Or has he?