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This week Tom Rowley and the oDR team edit the front page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

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With God on our Side: reading the State of the Union

Each year, the US president addresses all members of Congress, and the American people, with a speech designed to lift hearts and move minds. The imminence of war on Iraq made George W. Bush’s task this week especially urgent. For openDemocracy’s North Americas editor, the vital subtext of the President’s peroration was a messianic faith in the nation’s destiny. The trumpet has sounded; but will American citizens break the spell?

The State of the Union

The current US President’s father won the first Gulf war but lost the subsequent election because of a failing economy. On the brink of a second war in the region, a senior defence analyst with Washington’s Cato Institute situates George W. Bush’s military logic in the context of his domestic economic policy – and finds both deficient.

Voices from a new world

Solana Larsen talks to the foot soldiers at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre.

The Bushmen/San: real, pure, or just themselves?

In southern Africa, there is intense debate about how ‘real’ is the claim of Bushmen/San people in the southern Kalahari area to their land and even their identity. The challenge to them often questions their lack of ‘purity’. At its core, says Hugh Brody, is an assertion of power that seeks to entrap. In response, we need to observe what is actually happening in San lives today, where the creative and the impure are finding modern expression.

Iraq: a way out?

Is there a practical, realistic alternative to seemingly inevitable war with Iraq? The experienced policy analyst Scilla Elworthy builds on her recent visit to Baghdad to propose a peaceful solution that yet speaks to the realities of conflict.

Energy wars and the future of planet earth - part three

Climate change: the history of the 21st century starts with scientific understanding of what is really happening. In its light, what choices can and should we make?

Kissing the chaos

Where Dave Belden lives, the computer has put every home, school, neighbourhood in close encounter with fantasies of power, violence, and lust. Should we fortify our minds, or learn how to live freely amongst darkness?

Sorry, Hitchens, this time it should be 'no' to war

Christopher Hitchens’ passionate call to arms is flawed. His attack caricatures the current peace movement and fails to see that war in Iraq could make things worse.

Last chance to avoid war: a role for Blair?

This week’s decision to commit 30,000 British troops to the Gulf was taken in the midst of rising domestic anti-war sentiment and concern within the UK cabinet itself about the dangers of open conflict with Iraq. Even at this late stage, is there an alternative to war?

Happy Birthday, 'Axis of Evil'

Bush's geostrategy, Europe's clashing heads, and Bhutan's tobacco wars