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This week's editor

Dawn Foster, Co-Editor

Dawn Foster is Co-Editor at 5050 and a freelance journalist.

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

Iran nuclear deal: keeping hope of peace alive

Conservatives in the US, Israel and Iran itself are all opposed to the outline nuclear accord. So it looks like progress.

Universal rights, double standards

What is the difference between the human-rights shortfalls of Venezuela and Mexico? Objectively, not much, but Washington has a different perspective.

Obama's human-rights lacuna in struggle against ‘extremism’

The US president went on the front foot against fundamentalist violence in the Middle East at a summit in Washington. But he was hobbled by his failure to place human rights in the region front and centre.

“Frankly, I don’t think we know who we killed”

A drone strike in Somalia highlights how the US is increasingly pursuing a strategy of remote-control warfare.

The two big holes in the strategy against IS

The US-led campaign against Islamic State isn’t working. It won’t unless it addresses Shia sectarianism in Iraq and Assad’s atrocities in Syria.

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.

Obama, Netanyahu, Iran, Congress and the Republican Party

An intense political battle is going on over Iran on Capitol Hill. Insular Republicans underestimate at their peril international pressures driven by global security concerns.

Why the fight against Islamic State is not the success we're told it is

Is John Kerry right to be so gung-ho about military successes against Islamic State? Not reallyas the fundamental political challenges in Iraq and Syria remain unaddressed.

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.

Turkey, Kobane and the Kurdish question

The US wants Turkey to join the military effort against Islamic State at Kurdish-dominated Kobane, across the Syrian border—but Ankara’s focus is the Kurds within its own.

IS: is Jordan next?

Islamic State has already taken over significant areas of Iraq and Syria. Jordan abuts both—and could be the next target.

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.

Droning on

Little is clear about the US renewal of drone strikes in Pakistan—except that they won’t be the last.

America's chimerical pivot

The United States's shift towards Asia is being tested by global economic realities, say Ernesto Gallo & Giovanni Biava.

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.

Washington and Caracas: hegemony vs maturity

Venezuela's presidential election presents the United States with a historic choice, says Juan Gabriel Tokatlian.

Poland and the US elections: respect for an ally

Poland is less engaged with this American election than on previous occasions. But its people and elites are still viewing the contest and its candidates with a wary eye that reflects their domestic political concerns, says Adam J Chmielewski.

America's military: a far-right threat

A lax recruitment policy has allowed neo-Nazi and other extremists to enter the United States army. The violent consequences are increasingly being felt in the domestic arena, says Matt Kennard.

Haiti and the shock doctrine

Haiti, an already very poor country, was shattered by the earthquake of January 2010 centred on the capital, Port-au-Prince. In the aftermath, a rigorous economic programme was imposed by rich-world agencies and governments that took no account of Haitians' true needs. A forensic investigation of how this blueprint has overridden the hopes of a new generation of Haitians, by Matt Kennard.

An Oxford Scot at King Dubya's court: Niall Ferguson's 'Colossus'

The BBC has made Niall Ferguson this year's Reith Lecturer. To mark the occasion we repost Stephen Howe's 2004 review of his ‘Colossus’, setting the book it in the then young historian’s ideological, political, and – not least – media journey. Is America an empire? Should it be? With Washington appointing its proconsul to rule Mesopotamia the book was a powerful treatment of a highly topical issue - first published on 22 July 2004

America's new wars, and militarised diplomacy

The experience of Afghanistan and Iraq compels Washington to rethink its model of 21st-century warfare. Its evolving focus, already visible in the widespread use of drones and special forces, also has profound political implications.

Barack Obama and Poland: injurious ignorance

The American president's award to the wartime Polish hero Jan Karski was tarnished by a historical blunder that reveals all too much, says Adam J Chmielewski.

The United States and "atrocity prevention"

The formation of an official agency charged with helping Washington identify and address threats of atrocity around the world is notable. But the United States's own foreign-policy record raises serious questions over its likely impact, says Martin Shaw.

Colombia, a state of flux

A decade of violence and insecurity has deeply marked Colombia's society, politics and institutions. For Colombia to move on, its beleaguered yet independent justice system will have a vital role to play, says Adam Isacson.

The Arab revolts in year two

The uprisings across the Arab world are becoming more complex and variable as they enter their second year. This makes it all the more important to identify their main dynamics, says Volker Perthes.

America's social security: reforming a giant

The cost of the United States's trillion-dollar pension system is high on the presidential-election agenda. But turning problems into workable proposals is hard, reports Matt Kennard.

The thirty-year war: past, present, future

The prognosis of a thirty-year war looked outlandish as Saddam's regime toppled, persuasive as Iraq's insurgency erupted - and now less plausible amid American forces' retreat. But two core issues continue to give it life.

Sanctioning Iranian oil

With increasing geopolitical instability in oil producing states and the barriers that stand in the way of reaching a multilateral policy, the threat of sanctions in Iran only serves to intensify uncertainty surrounding oil price forecasts for 2012

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.

American leadership, and a system failure

The combination of a faded president, discredited rivals, and a dysfunctional political system spells trouble for the United States - at home and in the world, says Godfrey Hodgson.

America against the tide

The United States's capacity to build alliances and extend influence was once founded on confidence that history was on its side. No longer, says Godfrey Hodgson.

The two 9/11s: Chile and the United States

The coup of 1973 and the attacks of 2001 were very different in character. But the contrast in the responses of Chile and America to their respective national traumas is instructive, says Patricio Navia.

9/11: more security, less secure

The world has been changed by the securitisation of everyday life and the Islamisation of security. The accompanying threat-complex has shifted American sensibilities, says Cas Mudde. 

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
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