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Counter-balancing Saudi Arabia: why the US should not abandon Bahrain’s reformists

Rather than calling upon the United States and other western powers to abandon the Bahraini leadership at this time, we should instead be calling upon them to increase their ever-so vital support of the kingdom’s reformists through a series of different aid and development packages.

Dangerous and provocative - is this Iran or the US?

Iran captured a CIA Sentinel drone - now the Republicans want Obama to "go get it"

The veteran's tale: homeless in the homeland

Many former American soldiers find it hard to readjust to civilian life. Now budget cuts to designated housing programmes are making it even tougher, says Matt Kennard.

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.

The History of Police Militarization in the US

On Monday, November 28, 2011, students at UC-Davis occupied Dutton Hall, the University's financial center, and held an all-day teach-in. openDemocracy's Charles Shaw was one of the featured speakers. Here is his talk, "The History of Police Militarization in the US."

To drone or not to drone – a key question

If al-Qaeda comes under more pressure, it will switch strategies again, which will then make drones irrelevant.

Lines of descent

To mark one hundred years of aerial bombing, we publish this detailed account of the path that led us from bombing cities, forests and target boxes to putting 'warheads on foreheads' in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Derek Gregory argues that our understanding of bombing has been dominated by political and military historians who focus on strategy and social historians who recover the experiences of those who were bombed. But that today the gap between the two – the kill-chain – is too important to be left to buffs and geeks. Read Gregory’s introduction – The American way of bombing: and visit our Shock and Awe conference page.

The fate of the 9/11 planners and the failure of justice

Guilty verdicts from a military commission in Cuba will do little to correct the impression that America failed to use its most powerful weapon – full and open justice in front of the people – in the fight against terrorism.

The American way of bombing?

‘Signature targets’ are ghostly traces of the ‘target signatures’ that once animated the electronic battlefield. Commentators have often drawn comparisons between the wars in Vietnam and in Afghanistan, but if Vietnam was a ‘quagmire’ then the air wars over Afghanistan-Pakistan threaten to create a vortex. See the Closing Session of the Shock and Awe conference.

Can Intervention Work? by Rory Stewart and Gerald Knaus: book review

It is possible to walk the tightrope between the horrors of over-intervention and non-intervention. Mary Kaldor agrees, while insisting on distinguishing between genuine humanitarian interventions and the War on Terror.

Iran and America: components of crisis

Washington's charge that high-level Iranian cadres were planning an attack in the United States signals the real possibility of dangerous confrontation between old adversaries.

The United States and Pakistan – beyond the verbal division

The United States and Pakistan engage in a war of words. Iraq to strengthen air sovereignty with the acquisition of 18 F-16 jets. Protests continue in Andhra Pradesh as demands increase for Telangana state. Unguarded weapons depots in Libya cause concerns. Anwar al-Awlaki is killed, but his legacy remains. All this in today’s briefing…

The drone-war blowback

A greater focus on pilotless armed drones as an instrument of war by the United States and its allies raises questions of political cost as well as law and morality.

‘I am an American’ - filming the fear of difference: a book review

Ten years after 9/11 and counting, Cynthia Weber’s project in ‘filming the fear of difference’ is more than ever relevant to our debates.

9/11: a perfect pretext, a terrible legacy

The tragedy of 11 September 2001 was used by authoritarian forces in the United States as a political opportunity. The ensuing damage to liberty, legality and democracy has been deep, says Mariano Aguirre

US and Iraq grapple with US troop deployment extension

US and Iraqi leaders discuss future Status of Forces Agreement for Iraq. Syrian tanks and troops deployed to Homs. Rumours of Mubarak coma denied as protestors fill Tahrir square. All in today's security briefing.

Google's big idea against extremism needs to learn the important maxim of political violence: "no justice, no peace"?

Google Ideas, Google's think-and-do-tank, wants to combat violent extremism by having extremists and policy makers learn from those who have renounced violence. All fine until you get to the detail: the program is to understand violence as a result of psychological need rather than taking seriously the claims of injustice made. Whatever we may learn from the exercise, peace is unlikely to come from it. The author and a colleague have resigned from their role in the project.

US postpones aid payments as Pakistan relations reach new low

Tensions in US-Pakistan relations rise as Washington announces suspension of military assistance. Serbian president Tadic vists Sarajevo to improve relations with neighbour. China criticizes US over military drills in South China Sea while Assad is further isolated following attacks on US and French embassies in Damascus. All in today's security briefing.

Vietnam to Iraq and AfPak: traps of history

The United States's prolonged counterinsurgency wars in Afghanistan and Iraq raise strong echoes of Vietnam. But new studies suggest that the lessons of this half-century military arc need to be carefully drawn, says Mariano Aguirre.

The freedom cloud

The tools that help Arab democracy protesters also extend the reach of three United States corporations. The power of Facebook, Google, and Twitter represents an appropriation of the hacker-utopian ideals of the early internet, says Becky Hogge. The challenge to those who still uphold these ideals is to recover a true freedom path.

Obama's broken promises

The resumption of trials in Guantanamo and his 'war on whistleblowers' highlight the mismatch between Obama's words and actions, argues Ryan Gallagher.

Unsentimental partners: Obama goes south of the border

Obama’s trip to the stable democracies of Brazil, Chile and El Salvador beginning on March 19 is a sign of maturing relations between the US and Latin America. Nevertheless, a toughening approach towards security issues and the hard-headed calculation of US national interests will be a dominant theme.

A world in movement: prospects for 2011

The influence of rising states amid the infirmity of the United States and other established powers will make 2011 a transition year towards a new global order, says Mariano Aguirre.

This week's theme: Human Security in practice

Mary Kaldor’s latest book is The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon: Human Security and the New Rules of War and Peace co-authored with an American serving army officer, Shannon Beebe and published by Public Affairs. The book was primarily aimed at an American audience in the hope that the actual experience of Iraq and Afghanistan may open up an opportunity for rethinking security. It taps into what is already a wide-ranging debate in security circles. Here, our Human Security columnist introduces a special series of articles commissioned for openDemocracy on this theme

Time for the human approach

Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new post-cold war security order offers a significant opportunity for the world. But both the West and Russia need to move on from conventional security logic, and think in terms of the human, argue Mary Kaldor and Javier Solana.

US walks diplomatic tightrope in Arab-Israeli conflict

The United States treads a narrow tightrope in Middle East diplomacy. Over a hundred insurgents are killed in a bloody clash in Chad. South Korean and Chinese Presidents discuss the sinking of the Cheonan. Five rebels are killed in the Philippines ahead of national elections. All this and more, in today’s security update…

Google vs China: capitalist model, virtual wall

The breach between a corporate behemoth of the new-media age and an emerging state superpower defines the struggle for the world’s information future, say Johnny Ryan & Stefan Halper.

Dismantling the global nuclear infrastructure

Arms control belongs to an era when an absolutist view of state sovereignty prevailed. We need the courage to move to global nuclear disarmament.

Democracy-promotion: doctrine vs dialogue

George W Bush made democracy-support a central theme of his presidency. Barack Obama, by contrast, has downplayed it. Yet the latter's approach may achieve more effective results, says Mariano Aguirre.

Torture: America's policy, Europe's shame

The degrading treatment meted out to prisoners of the United States-led "war on terror" over seven years has yet to be subject to proper legal scrutiny and accountability. But the responsibility is Europe's too, say Jan Egeland & Mariano Aguirre.

(This article was first published on 17 June 2009)

The Americas and Washington: moving on

A wave of change across the Americas is transforming states and societies, creating new intra-regional and global alliances, and challenging the United States's hegemony. As the fifth Summit of the Americas gathers, Ivan Briscoe assesses these interlocking shifts.

A ship with no anchor: Bush in Latin America

The lives of north and south Americans are becoming both more intermingled and more unequal. This may be as significant for long-term United States interests as the region’s political polarisation, says Ivan Briscoe.

Hugo Chávez's operatic pursuit of a political "corpse" up and down the Americas provided the principal drama, but the most telling signs of the United States's radically reduced influence in its own landmass came in a more discreet fashion.

America against itself

The United States's predicament is that one side of its dualist face has come to predominate. But bullying will not forever eclipse idealism, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Jan Morris spoke for many around the world in a piece in the Guardian on 14 February 2007 in which she admitted to disenchantment with what the United States has become. "[The] missionary instinct", she wrote, "which impelled Americans into so many noble policies, was to be perverted by power".

War defeats diplomacy

A week into the war, Israel's intransigence and the United States's indulgence make the prospects for peace minimal.

Israel's attacks on Lebanon continued over the night of 17-18 July with fifty sites being hit. Many of these were said to be Hizbollah facilities, even though the targets have included a lighthouse, a medical truck and a dairy factory. In any case, the main effect has been to cause disruption across much of the country as numerous bridges are hit and movement of refugees is made difficult if not impossible.

The US Supreme Court: law against power

The American judges' ruling against the Bush administration's military-tribunal plan for Guantánamo detainees is a historic moment, says Zachary Katznelson of Reprieve, which represents thirty-six clients in the camp.

On 29 June 2006, the United States Supreme Court struck a blow for the rule of law, deciding in every respect against the Bush administration in the case of Hamdan vs Rumsfeld . The court sent a clear message that President Bush's policies in Guantánamo are unacceptable.

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