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This week's editor

Being counted

No political demonstration in British history has ever been larger than half a million – before 15 February. What brought such numbers together? For Rosemary Bechler, it was an act of ‘mass witness’ that signals a new global politics.

Cherry-picking as the future of the transatlantic alliance

The processes of international action towards Iraq have sundered the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, and now Nato. French and German decisions especially have highlighted a crisis in the transatlantic relationship whose source is Europe’s mixture of arrogance and weakness. It is time for US policy-makers to grasp an awkward truth: Europe should neither fail nor be too successful.

Hairiness sounds like this: an Arts & Cultures exclusive

openDemocracy presents an exclusive advance audio preview of ‘Lycanthropy’, Patrick Wolf’s debut album. Click below to listen.

Time Passing Through My Hair

In the original Chinese, and also translated especially for openDemocracy by Ho Chee Lick, a poem by one of China’s finest women poets, Lew Poo Chan.

Growing my hair

Specially commissioned for openDemocracy’s ‘hair’ theme, the second of two new poems - the first on shaving; now, long hair.

What would Jed Bartlet do?

With brains, principles and guts the fictional US President Jed Bartlet from the TV series “The West Wing” has all the qualities to deal with a major international crisis. While in the real world the UN is split, Nato falters and worldwide peace marches put political pressure on Bush and Blair (whose staff, apparently, are “West Wing” addicts) how would Bartlett deal with Saddam? Paul Hirst speculates.

War by timetable

The popular protests against US war on Iraq are massive and growing. The US faces acute diplomatic problems over weapons inspection, in Nato, and with Turkey. But the White House hawks and the US military are charting the full moon over Baghdad. There will be war in five weeks.

Transatlantic meltdown over Iraq: is France villain or hero?

France’s reluctance to support the US’s military approach towards Iraq has drawn bitter criticism from the US and some of its EU partners. But in defending diplomacy rather than advocating a military solution, France is the truer defender both of the European project and, in the long run, of the transatlantic relationship.

Another world for Gaia and her people

Of the two visions that dominate the World Social Forum, our collective survival depends on the minority view.

Mmmmmm, Oilicious!

Our columnist Dave Belden travelled from the Catskill Mountains to New York City on 15 February, companions and children alongside, for the huge peace rally. They never made the rally; the march was that big. The atmosphere was friendly, the homemade signs witty (and one-sided), the feet frozen, the hearts warm. And the numbers? Just don’t ask CNN.

Honour, not hubris: speaking out for peace

Several hundred thousand people gathered in a freezing New York City on 15 February 2003 to demonstrate against war on Iraq. Julian Bond of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People gave this speech.

The Turk in English Renaissance literature

Europe’s relationship with Turkey – a country whose historical legacy is at once imperial, martial, Islamic, Asiatic, and European - has always been problematic, and frequently refracted through culture as well as politics. A Turkish scholar traces the fascinating evolution of an alien but also intimate and surprising figure in the English literary imagination.

From a young Iraqi: an open letter to the peace movement


The huge campaign against war in Iraq offers no comfort to this young Iraqi woman. She has no illusions about US power. But in the face of a people longing for liberation from Saddam's terrible rule, how can the peace movement turn its back?

Afghanistan still burns

US war with Iraq remains likely in weeks rather than months. But apart from simmering crises over North Korea and Lebanon, US forces are forced to pay especial attention to the way that renewed militancy in Pakistan is fuelling escalating violence in Afghanistan.

A game of shadow boxing: Iraq between past and future

Who will be the vultures, and who the carrion, in a post-Saddam Iraq? The Iraqi opposition plans for transition. The country’s neighbours – especially Turkey, Iran and Syria – covet influence and power after ‘regime change’. America is torn between impulses of order and freedom. The decisive role belongs to Iraq’s people. Will they unite, or fragment?

New safety or old danger? UN 'protection areas' for refugees

The UK proposal to confine refugees to designated areas near the regions they have fled is ill-conceived and unworkable. There is a better way, one that requires a holistic approach to the asylum issue.

In place of war, open up Iraq

Can you be against war on Iraq without giving succour to Saddam? This is a new version of an old dilemma, says one of the leading voices of the 1980s Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly and European Nuclear Disarmament. Activists who opposed the nuclear arms race while supporting democratisation of the Soviet bloc helped carve a space where freedom could grow. Could the same happen in Iraq?

How to Rule the World

A hard look at accountability, ideas for democratising global governance, and how the challenge of HIV/Aids needs solutions sensitive to local needs.

Farewell Agnelli - Figure of Another Age

When Giovanni Agnelli died this year he was still Honorary Chairman of the Fiat group. His extraordinary influence marked the growth of post-war Italy, and is essential to understanding the country now. But is his life achievement a model for future businessmen or a glorious memory of an unviable past?

The Devil in Moscow

Behemoth cats, Thai chests, and stalemate apocalypse

Sorry, wrong target!

The Bush regime has failed to grasp that it is the European people, not their leaders, who reject this war.

No to war, no to Saddam

Can the peace movement oppose war on Iraq without appearing to support Saddam? It can – and it must, says openDemocracy’s editor. If the United States’ supremacist agenda promises war without limit, the world’s citizens need to combat it with a political strategy that joins cool judgement to impassioned humanity.

Thank you, Europe: why we wrote an open letter

A US activist in the campaign against war on Iraq explains the reasoning behind a direct address to Europe’s people from the American heartland.

Man, the proud mother of imperfection

A Kurdish film-maker brings a cinematic perspective to the Iraqi affair – a political contest that appears as formulaic and controlled as it is real. Is another plot line possible?

Davos and Porto Alegre - together against the forces of darkness

In the interests of democracy and wealth creation, we need both Davos and Porto Alegre, and we need them to work together.

Between Rumsfeld and France

In the first of a regular column, the chief editor and publisher of Germany’s Die Zeit newspaper mordantly reflects on the ripples in Germany created by Donald Rumsfeld’s verbal hand grenade. Amidst US amnesia, British perfidy, and Polish betrayal, what will Chancellor Gerhard Schröder do next?

R.S., from Ghana to nowhere

A divided family, village brutality, and the burden of dependency make one Ghanaian’s life in exile especially lonely.

The coup in America

From Afghanistan to Israel and Iraq, the calm reason of openDemocracy’s international security correspondent has made weekly sense of the ‘war on terrorism’. The strength of Paul Rogers’ analysis, as this week’s Editor’s Note confirms, is rooted in an assessment of global dangers that preceded the shock of 9/11. One year on, he registers the profound global concern at the mindset of the new US security elite.

Skinning up

Hair as political protest, or global fashion? Photographer and one-time Skinhead, Gavin Watson tells it how it is - in pictures and words.

The Long History of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Recorded use of weapons of mass destruction goes back to the Middle Ages. Whenever the rules of war fell into disregard, the target moved from the enemy’s soldiers to his people. The weapon of choice against a civilian enemy became biological, then chemical and nuclear, as soon as scientific advancement and technological development made them available. This timeline aims to give a broad overview, in time as well as space, of the development of WMDs as a lengthy prelude to recent events in Iraq.