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This week’s front page editor

Thomas Rowley

Tom Rowley edits oDR.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Iraq: war or not

What future is there for Iraq after Saddam? Possible answers begin with the thoughts of an Iraqi exiled for many years, Sami Zubaida. He is joined by more than fifty writers and thinkers from around the world and, looking at it from a geo-political perspective - Patrice de Beer, John C. Hulsman and Kirsty Hughes who explore the lowering divorce of the US and Europe.

The war on Iraq: its effect on the Arab world

How will the change of regime in Iraq impact on the rest of the Middle East? An experienced Jordanian adviser and scholar takes a cool, country-by-country tour of the region.

The UN and Iraq: time to get serious

Divisions over Iraq on the UN Security Council reflect a wider crisis of the world institution. It is time to reaffirm the UN’s core purpose – by suspending Iraq’s membership.

The myth of a clean war - and its real motive


The immediate US purpose is to destroy the Saddam regime. This, no less than the weapons used to fight it, guarantees that the Iraq war will have a heavy human cost in the short term. Behind the war, the search for military and oil security is impelling a broader US agenda for regional control. This ensures further violence in the long term.

Thank you, President Bush

From the world's most popular novelist, Paulo Coelho, an open letter of praise for President Bush.

The "Mother Of All Bombs" - how the US plans to pulverise Iraq

A devastating new weapon will be part of the US’s massive assault on Iraq. Paul Rogers, openDemocracy’s international security correspondent, explains what it is, how it developed, and why its use is likely to destroy civilian lives in their thousands.

A conflict of loyalties: 1999 and 2003

When Nato bombed Yugoslavia in 1999, professional responsibility and a need for inner freedom prevented Dejan Djokic from protesting the assault on his homeland. Four years on, the creative dialogue between head and heart has a different result. 

Liberate Iraq on the world's terms

The slogan ‘No to war: No to Saddam!’ leaves the world polarised and incapable of concerted action. What would it take to reconfigure this crippling divide so that a clear choice helps the world move forward? Could the European Union’s foreign policy coordinator, Javier Solana, lead the way?

Putin's choice

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is treading a fine line in his relations with the United States and the European Union. Will he side with France or the US at the Security Council? Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, quizzes Moscow’s political elite.

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.

Marching to hell


The London march against war of 15 February was impressive but confused, and desperately naïve. It filled the roads with good intentions and we all know where they lead.

One image keeps cropping up in my mind. It is perhaps the only happy image I have of Saturday 15 February. At the mass mud-caked rally in Hyde Park a single rather unhappy-looking Brit with his misted glasses askew was holding a sign ‘We’ll keep off the grass, Tony, if you keep off the sand’. It was perhaps the only witty comment of the day.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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?

Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. II

President Bush has rallied his troops for what he calls “The first warof the 21st century”. What is your view of this crisis, where, briefly, do you stand? This is the question we are putting to people around the world, especially those with their own public reputation and following. Our aim, to help create a truly global debate all can identify with.

See also "Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Part I"

The rise and fall of civil society in Iraq

Iraq's rich social, political and cultural life in the mid-20th century has been crushed in the decades of Saddam Hussein's rule. Now that his regime faces a terminal crisis, what resources from this earlier period remain as the possible foundation of a post-Ba'athist order? Sami Zubaida examines the buried legacies of Iraq's modern history.

A maze of illusion: the anti-war case

The case against war on the Iraqi regime is fatally handicapped by illusion, ignorance and illogic. A reader in California takes strong issue with openDemocracy’s editor.

Why hasn't Saddam Hussein been indicted?

A veteran campaigner for human rights and democracy in Iraq believes that using international conventions to arraign Saddam Hussein would be the best way to open a path to justice for the Iraqi people. But can citizens’ advocacy of international law match states’ use of their military power?

Iraq: no choice without cost

The choice between war and anti-war is not just a moral one. It involves political calculation in an imperfect world, requiring us to ask: which action will cause more deaths and protect more lives? Between past experience in Rwanda and Yugoslavia, and future hopes of an international law that could prevent brutal state oppression, a distinguished writer creatively explores her own ambivalence.

New versus Old Europe: the growing coalition against Saddam

President Bush’s address to the nation heralds the liberation of the Iraqi people from tyranny, says a scholar at Washington’s Heritage Foundation. By opposing it, France and Germany reveal both the moral bankruptcy of their own policy and their growing isolation within Europe.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Weapons of mass destruction: a practical guide

A world-renowned Brazilian author offers an original perspective on the Iraqi weapons crisis. Its solution may not lie in Baghdad, or even under the US president’s bed. Rather, take a Security Council mandate to George Bush’s psychoanalyst.

'Wake Up, Peaceniks!'

The swelling protests against war on Iraq forget that the US was impelled into war by an attack on its territory, against enemies that target innocents and include the worst human rights violators on the planet. For whom is this insufficient justification to choose sides?

The crisis over Iraq: the non-military solution

What would a non-military strategy for dealing with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq involve? A seminar convened by London’s Royal United Services Institute and the Oxford Research Group, and involving government and NGO representatives from around the world, recently addressed this vital issue. The ORG’s director presents her own interpretation of the proceedings.

Waiting for the dawn: a Baghdad diary

In early 2003, amidst the inexorable build-up of US forces in the region, the director of the respected Oxford Research Group visited Baghdad to gauge the current situation on the Iraqi side and to consider alternatives to war. Here is her vivid diary of an extraordinary few days.

Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. I

President Bush has rallied his troops for what he calls “The first war of the 21st century”. What is your view of this crisis, where, briefly, do you stand? This is the question we are putting to people around the world, especially those with their own public reputation and following. Our aim, to help create a truly global debate all can identify with.

See also "Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Part II"

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