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This week’s editors


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

The new economy of terror

Terrorism is business as well as politics. Loretta Napoleoni explains how its funders and sponsors support its operations by covert, sophisticated use of changes in the global financial system.

All change in Venezuela's revolution

After winning two elections and one referendum, defeating a coup and surviving four general strikes, Venezuela's maverick president Hugo Chávez seems impregnable. But where is his "Bolivarian revolution" going? Ivan Briscoe reports from Caracas on a convulsive, divisive, history-haunted social experiment.

A life-affirming universe

The universe is creative and regenerative as well as brutal and finite – just like humans. In this lies a consolation that is open to believer and atheist alike, says Dave Belden.

A different kind of humour: Tent signs at Camp Salerno, Afghanistan

In the second part of his photo feature on the US military in Afghanistan, Keiron Allen photographs signs and graffiti at Camp Salerno, and reflects on humour as a way of dealing with death… and life.
Romeo: Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.
Mercutio: No, ‘tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door; but ‘tis enough, ‘twill serve: ask me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man.

Our Election

On 30 January 2005 Iraqis go to the polls. What are they thinking?

Media in terror

Terrorist attacks challenge journalists to report freely and assert their independence from state influence. How well do they perform under pressure? David Elstein looks critically at the record of the Anglo-American media since 9/11.

Beyond the World Social Forum: the need for new institutions

As campaigners from around the world prepare for the fifth World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Ezequiel Adamovsky argues that the “movement of movements” has reached a crossroads. It needs a new political focus: inventing institutions that embody not hierarchies of power but cooperation among equals.

Get wise and get real

In face of terrorism, the United States evades and Europe appeases. John Hulsman calls for a real world assessment of the war.

Tides of victory

A Bush administration buoyed by electoral success is extending its military ambitions to Iran and Syria.

The enemy within

The war on terror will be won not by force of arms, but by a new strategic approach that speaks to the experience of the world’s Muslims, says Charles Peña

Open parties? A map of 21st century democracy

The traditional political party is dying. Can it reinvent itself in a way that matches transformations of society, technology, and personal identity? Paul Hilder draws on global democratic experimentation to present a vision of the political party for an age of “open politics”.

Lost in space: the World Social Forum and the media

As 150,000 participants from around the world prepare for the fifth World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil from 26-31 January 2005, Vince Medeiros critically examines western media coverage of this global event.

Terrorism and world politics: conditions and prospects

Terrorism demands of democratic states a careful political strategy informed by cool, patient understanding of its character and aims, says Fred Halliday.

The power of resentment: a response to Karin von Hippel

The Madrid conference marking the anniversary of the March 2004 terrorist attacks must not be imprisoned in the chains of political correctness, says Roger Scruton.

Humanising a beast - the American military

openDemocracy brings you the first of a two-part exclusive photo feature. In April 2004 journalist Keirón Allen returned to Afghanistan after six years. The experience made him rethink his preconceptions of the American military, and especially their dealings with the Afghan people. His striking and thoughtful photography questions and looks beyond the stereotypes and, “in one of the most dangerous places in the planet” brings an unexpected hope and humanity.
“It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head”

Uncertain vision: what future for the BBC?

2004 was an epically bad year for the British Broadcasting Corporation, after savage criticism in the Hutton report led to the resignation of its chairman and director-general. A former employee assesses the BBC’s prospects in light of a new anthropology of the organisation.

The SWISH Report (2)

A second report from the South Waziristan Institute of Strategic Hermeneutics to the al-Qaida Strategic Planning Cell (SPC) on the progress of the campaign

India's tsunami

The Indian government’s refusal of foreign aid to its devastated coastal and island regions reflects its aspiration to sit at the world’s top table. Antara Dev Sen on the national dimensions of a global tragedy.

Sin and tsunamis

The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 provoked the first modern discussion about the causes of natural disasters – fate, science, God, or human failure. What lessons does the world need to learn from the Asian tsunami 250 years later?

When tsunamis destroyed one of Europe’s greatest cities in 1755, there was as yet no science of seismology. Governments did not yet expect to take responsibility for the results of natural disasters or “acts of God”. People thought it was God’s punishment – though they differed on how people had sinned.

Anthony Sampson remembered

The British journalist Anthony Sampson was a rare voice – valiant and uncompromising but balanced and subtle. His death in December 2004 at the age of 78 is a great loss to journalism in the English language. Godfrey Hodgson celebrates a friend and model.

Tsunami coming for us all

The tsunami that swept across the Indian ocean on 26 December 2004 was cataclysmic. Our Globalisation Editor Caspar Henderson asks what it means for the future of an interconnected world.

Insurgents prevail

Increasing instability and violence across Iraq points to an unraveling of US strategy.

What counts as terrorism? The view on the Arab street

In November 2004 Fares Braizat, a polling expert at the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, presented some of the key findings from the opinion polls he had conducted in five Arab countries on the subject of terrorism, to a conference in Trujillo, Spain jointly supported by openDemocracy, FRIDE and King’s College, London. The results make sobering reading.

Five steps for defeating terrorism

An advisor to the Madrid summit on terror and democracy in March 2005 outlines what can be done to tackle terror while retaining and strengthening democratic principles.

The web is not dead: a response to Bill Thompson

Is the world wide web evolving, dying or merely pining for the fjords? A young web developer takes issue with Bill Thompson’s call to dump the web. Eavesdrop on the techies slugging it out over HTML, distributed processing, < IMG > tags and illiterate waiters. The future of your desktop is at stake.

Relax, internet users, the World Wide Web is not dead, far from it. If you are worried by Bill Thompson’s call to dump the web before it dies, don’t be.

Heartbreak Hotel

The eleventh and last of his “Remote Control” columns finds Siva Vaidhyanathan contrite over the American election result, and worried about the frightened and angry country it reflects.

Chronicle of a war foretold

Where is the “war on terror” going?


Susan Sontag, born in 1933, died in New York on 28 December 2004.

Another Lonely Christmas

Matt Thorne’s tantalising story of a Christmas dinner date with the perfect stranger.

Catching Snow

In Christmas week, a displaced New York poet with an elusive past is asked to give permission for a biography – and suddenly feels everything, life and work entire, at stake. An exclusive story by acclaimed novelist Candida Clark.