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This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The faultlines exposed by 9/11 run within as well as between us, says Paul Gilroy. The network society has produced its ‘other’, warns Francesco Grillo. Allenna Leonard uses systems analysis to advocate a creative response, while Ann Pettitt recommends ‘militant moderation’. For Mary Midgley, Jeffrey Isaac, Steven Lukes and Nadia Urbinati, the way language is used is a crucial index of political maturity in time of crisis. Paul Frosh, Nissim Calderon and Shaun Gregory bring insights from Israel and Pakistan.

Empire of madness: fiddling through the smoke in 2025

The year is 2025, and the war on terror rages on – as does the increasing extremity of the planet's weather.

Britain's choice: the Provisional IRA then, ISIS now

The west's security elite should learn from the end of Northern Ireland's conflict.

To combat hate, we must celebrate diversity

Extremists want to destroy the fabric that binds people together – but religious diversity brings people together, reminding them that they have more in common than that which keeps them apart.

Ripping back the veil: an interview with Arun Kundnani

Trump promises politics in its naked form: the seizure of power for his clan, and be damned with all the rest. As the centre ground collapses, we must not cling to it. 

Security services should not have carte blanche

It seems obvious that human rights must be compromised to guarantee security in the face of armed violence. Obvious but wrong.

Blowback: the failure of remote-control warfare

It all seemed so convenient: remote-control warfare would minimise military casualties while rendering the civilian dead invisible. But the battlefield has come home.

CIA torture programme cast a wide net

The CIA’s ‘deep interrogation’ and the Guantánamo detention camp came to symbolise the US ‘war on terror’. Yet it turns out that most individuals subjected to the first weren’t thought to merit transfer to the second.

How states can constrain resort to political violence

Recognising there are political elements to any campaign of militant violence makes it less ‘terrifying’ for society and is crucial in developing measures to constrain it. 

After the torture report—rebalancing the scales of justice

In the voluminous responses to the long-awaited US Senate committee report on torture by the CIA, the essence of what must follow—prosecutions, not pardons—has been buried.

Between Scylla and Charybdis: life in Pakistan’s tribal frontier

The Federally Administered Tribal Areas touching Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan suffer a toxic mix of state and non-state violence and neglect. The consequences are unlikely to be good.

Secret prisons, disappearances and torture

In a ruling described by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as “landmark”, the European Court of Human Rights has passed excoriating judgment on the US “war on terror” following the attacks of 2001.

“Terrorism” and the US-led global order

“Terrorism” has become a formulaic term in political discourse, often deployed as a device sustaining a US informal empire. Time to unpack it—and develop a more secure multilateral order.

Is ISIS on the march in Iraq?

The remarkable resurgence of Sunni-fundamentalist violence in Iraq has taken the west by surprise, yet it is a symptom of the long-evident inability of the Shia-led government there to exercise authority impartially.

Truth still eludes on UK involvement in rendition and torture

There have been repeated claims of UK complicity in the alleged torture of individuals detained abroad. The government’s latest move in the saga does not suggest a desire to get to the bottom of them.

Rethinking the origins of 9/11

As 2013 came to an end ‘9/11’ continued to cast a violent shadow in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the US response betrayed a failure to understand its origin.

Drones over the world

US drones are often thought of as focused entirely on action against Al-Qaeda and associates, particularly in Pakistan. But the CIA's expanding global net extends into the Pacific, linked to the surveillance operations of the National Security Agency.

The 'politics' in Ethiopia's political trials

The Ethiopian regime is using the legal system to eliminate dissident voices and drag protesters to court under terrorism charges. Far from guaranteeing equality and justice, the country’s courts serve as an instrument in the Government’s hands to legitimize persecution of political adversaries while justifying its practices to the west.

Uncertainty looms amid progress in talks with the Taliban

The Afghan Taliban and the United States have begun talks, advancing prospects that coalition forces can withdraw from Afghanistan. But there are many potential pitfalls on the road to peace: a real risk of a political and military stalemate in Afghanistan, forcing the United States to leave the region under uncertain and possibly dangerous terms.

Thinking about war with Iran

The real Iranian threat is not its nuclear capacity but its independence. If Iran continues to stand as a model of defiance for increasingly poverty-stricken and restless populations of family fiefdoms in the Gulf, the current US-backed setups will either fall or be forced to democratise. These potentially catastrophic losses of empire go a long way to explaining the rising beat of war drums in the region.

Pakistan: next in line?

After Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has now turned its belligerent attention towards Pakistan. But opening up a new battlefront, this time in Pakistan, in the run-up to the presidential elections, will prove another quagmire for the Obama administration.

‘I am an American’: living September 11, 2001, ten years on

An American professor of international relations who is also a documentary film-maker invites us to share in her unique pursuit of answers to the following question: How can we remember September 11, 2001 as fully as we can, including those things about it we would rather forget? For it is this more complete history that is shaping who we are.

Should bin Laden have been tried?

Maybe there really was no choice. But we have lost something by not putting bin Laden on trial, and that is a particular view of what Justice is for

The paradox of Basra

A visit to Iraq's second city reveals fraught divisions of wealth and ideology

'New thinking' needs new direction

The Pentagon could change from Terror Warrior to Human Security agent. It needs the Presidential direction to do so.

Afghanistan: state of siege

A regroupment of the Taliban and al-Qaida in the Pakistani borderlands is bringing the war closer to Kabul.

Prisons of war, furnaces of radicalism

The global detention policy of the United States and its allies is incubating the insurgents of the future.

France and the Security Council: poker diplomacy wins

The lengthy negotiations leading to Security Council Resolution 1441 were a success for French diplomacy. France’s ‘two-step’ approach may not avert war on Iraq; but in deflecting the United States’ unilateral drive to war she has served the world’s interest.

Whenever France acts independently in the international arena and, especially if she fails to fall in line with the United States, the country is deemed to be a troublemaker. Viewed from Washington or London, we are an obvious ‘usual suspect’.

Afghanistan, one year on

There is progress, but is it too little, too late? Civil servants in Afghanistan are unpaid, roads impassable, and justice undone. Where there is no effective governance, and more money being spent on warfare than development aid, is it surprising that the Taliban still has support? A year after Kabul changed hands, a bleakly realistic assessment from the BBC’s Developing World Correspondent.

Understanding the 'war on terrorism'

If the war on terrorism is literal, it cannot be won. If it is metaphorical, it offers only a continuation of the frozen, abstract hatreds made possible by the cold war. And how do you defeat a metaphor?

After the cataclysm: a systems analysis

Can the creative insights of systems analysis illuminate the motives of the attackers and suggest a western response that is likely to be truly effective?

The West against terrorism

The imbalance between political and military science has brought us to a major turning point in world history. Do we have time to correct it?

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan: the limits of Marc Herold's 'comprehensive accounting'

Marc Herold’s report on the civilian victims of US bombing in Afghanistan has gained wide circulation. But are his own methods and conclusions reliable?On 10 December 2001 Marc W. Herold, a professor in the departments of economics and women’s studies at the University of New Hampshire, publicly released A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting. Herold claims that (up to that date) over 3,500 Afghan civilians had been killed by American bombs.

Cranking the 'axis of evil'

Bush the father in 1990 announced : “What we say, goes”. Twelve years on, Bush the son captures the US’s enemies in words equally vulgar and inaccurate. Behind the latter’s phraseology, however, is the impending tragedy of a decent patriotism hijacked by geopolitics.

Three cheers for the Bush doctrine

The Bush doctrine for conducting the war against terrorism was greeted with shock and dismay by many in Europe. It should not have been. The six principles set out in Bush’s “axis of evil” speech are ones that European countries should support.

A war against politics?

The military might of western power is matched by its ideology’s closed assurance in the face of challenges to and victims of its ‘war on terrorism’. Defusing such opposition is the work of a ‘cynical reason’ that threatens to silence dissidence, cancel historical awareness, and collapse the process of politics itself.
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