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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The period since 9/11 has renewed global debate about the nature of United States power and influence in a world being transformed by globalisation. openDemocracy writers - American and non-American - bring fresh perspectives to bear on the Iraq war, the question of empire, unilateralism, the "end of history", neo-conservatism, and foreign policy under and after George W Bush

America first: the case to answer

Opposition to the Bush administration’s strategy on Iraq is growing both inside America and around the world. Criticism of its pre-emptive approach tends to be scornful of its intellectual framework and strategic thinking. But a serious case has been made for the exercise of American power - notably by Philip Bobbitt, author of “The Shield of Achilles”, who was Senior Director for Strategic Planning at the National Security Council in Clinton’s White House.

Hirst on Bobbitt

Paul Hirst reviews Philip Bobbitt’s book “The Shield of Achilles”.

The Shield of Achilles is the most thought provoking book on the future of war and the international system to have appeared for some considerable time.

Bobbitt on Bobbitt

Philip Bobbitt talks about his book The Shield of Achilles.

The Ambassadors: close encounters with China

Behind the formalities of academic exchange between China and the US are deep human experiences and longings. An American scholar sees the story of his own visits to universities in Nanjing, Shanghai and Beijing as emblematic of the need for people of both countries to mingle freely in trust.

Becoming modern: the US, Europe, and the 'others'

Modernisation is the key battleground of global political ideas, says this keen-eyed overview of openDemocracy’s September coverage. Two questions arise. Can all non-Western countries become modern? And is the US a help or hindrance in the process?

Missionaries and marines: Bush, Blair and democratisation

Britain is cultivating a wilful amnesia about the fall-out from empire and war, in supporting American calls for democracy throughout the Arab world. Applied to the Middle East, could anything be more dangerous?

Washington's "terror" discourse: a lost opportunity

The United States's “war on terror” threatens the hope for expanding democracy and freedom that was born after the cold war. This makes it all the more essential, says Per Wirtén, to distinguish between America's global military ambitions and the pursuit of a just international order.

Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?

Europeans dislike inequality whereas in the US, only rich leftists do. So argue three economists for whom happiness can not only be experienced, but measured.

Towards a partnership of equals: European-US relations

The long-term trends in transatlantic relations are towards equality. After 11 September, will they be set back by an intensification of the unilateralism of Bush’s first year? Or will current, necessary coalition-building become the harbinger of a progressive renewal?
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