Last week an article in the Washington Post stirred what seemed like quite a Twitter buzz, lamenting the effects of “the disastrous nonintervention in Syria“. The article is angry and vivid about the misery and destruction wrought by war in Syria. It blames the war’s continuation largely on the US deciding not to intervene in the war. It is an argument that could become influential so it’s worth examining. Continue reading
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
Extremism, prevention, global inequality, ISIS and migration
Events in the Middle East continue to horrify and escalate in equal measure. Last week Jordan vowed all manner of action against ISIS in Syria for burning a pilot alive, this week Egypt bombed ISIS in Libya for beheading 21 Coptic Christians. At the same time, President Obama convened an international meeting on extremism with the emphasis on prevention and the idea took hold that ISIS would infiltrate people-trafficking boats in the Mediterranean. Arise TV in London were good enough to invite me to hold forth for a few minutes on both Obama and ISIS. We covered a fair amount of ground in 6 minutes:
The US-Iranian-Syrian diplomatic dance
The destruction of Syrian chemical weapons (CW) has started. In a breakthrough moment in Iran-US relations, the two Presidents talked on the phone and the foreign ministers sat down to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme. Though the connection has received little comment in the western news media, these two welcome developments are deeply linked and close to inter-dependent. Continue reading
Vladimir Putin saves West from its hubris
That is a headline I never thought I’d write, a sentiment I never expected to utter. Continue reading
Syria – what role for diplomacy?
In the course of little more than a week, the idea that diplomacy could achieve anything to prevent the war in Syria escalating yet further fell off the international agenda as arms supplies became the dominant theme and returned to head it following the G8 summit at Enniskillen’s Lough Erne resort in Northern Ireland. Here’s my quick take on what seems to be going on. Continue reading
Libya: the (next) moment of decision is approaching
When intervention in Libya was being discussed in Britain a few months back, the key ethical argument was the dual claim of the urgency of doing something and impossibility of standing by and doing nothing. After the first 2-3 weeks, it became clear even to passionate advocates of intervention that the issue was more complicated than that. Continue reading
Libya and the fog of intervention
The three weeks of what has become NATO’s armed intervention in Libya have generated far more questions than anyone could hope to answer. The uncertainties by no means overwhelm the case for intervention but they do add immediacy to the reservations expressed by the doubters and sceptics. Continue reading
Egypt and the outside powers
Now it is clear that Hosni Mubarak’s three decade presidency of Egypt cannot survive much longer, outside powers are visibly positioning themselves for the next phase. Hubristic temptations are clear but not everybody’s falling for them. Continue reading
Chaff, noise and fog in the climate debate.
This is a critical time on climate. Scientific conclusions that had seemed largely settled and backed by professional consensus are today challenged with increasing confidence. Three months after Copenhagen, the policy pathway is still hard to discern. Opinion polls show growing numbers of people think the globe is not warming, or not because of human action, or, variously, that not much can, need or should be done about it. Last week a House of Commons committee queried the state of climate science in the wake of the publication of emails to and from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit; this week a new UN review has been launched to assess the work of the Inter-govermental Panel on Climate Change.