editor&#039;s note https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/200/all cached version 04/07/2018 20:24:07 en 2007: the top fifty https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/best_of_2007 <a href="/site_organisation/best_of_2007">Read more</a> editor's note openDemocracy authors Creative Commons normal Thu, 20 Dec 2007 17:11:55 +0000 openDemocracy authors 35455 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The editor's pick of the year https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2281.jsp <p> This is unfair! Three choices of the year when the act of discrimination lies in what we decide to publish - not afterwards. </p><p> To make it more interesting I decided they all had to be by people we have not published before. </p><p> My top choice: <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1914">Antara Dev Sen</a>&#146;s &#147;India&#146;s benign earthquake&#148; (20 May). A beautiful, exuberant analysis of the Indian election that swept the Congress party back to power. It must rank amongst the best immediate assessments of an election ever. On Bush&#146;s victory six months later, nothing has yet been written to equal Antara&#146;s essay on the magic of India&#146;s democracy. </p><p> Antara responded from Delhi to a great surprise. She combined thoughtful reflection with clear picture of the players and the experience. She is especially compelling on the role of media. So often its power is stereotyped as either neutral or conspiratorial. Antara Dev Sen captures the real influences of the media <em>and </em>the limitations of its power. She acknowledges the independence of minds and souls amongst the Indian electorate, respecting their capacity for freedom and judgment without dismissing their vulnerability to manipulation. Without false populism or exaggerated optimism, she embraces the democratic process. She shows how those in what was once called the &#145;Third World&#146; can do it better, and can write about it better. </p><p> Second, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2143">Zaid Al-Ali</a>&#146;s &#147;Iraq - the lost generation&#148; (7 October). His shock on meeting his compatriots at the frontier post in Jordan; his feeling of shame and ambivalence; his description of the appalling conditions he observed; his decision that he had to try and go back to work in Iraq. </p><p> Iraq was one of the great stories of the year as the initial, passive acceptance of Saddam&#146;s overthrow grew into fragmented, widespread opposition to the occupation. Part of <strong>openDemocracy</strong>&#146;s role is to ensure that Iraqi voices themselves report on and debate this. Zaid&#146;s article arrived unsolicited. We look forward to his becoming a regular columnist when he returns to live in his country. </p><p> Third, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2255">George Papandreou</a>&#146;s interview &#147;Go ahead, George, change it all&#148; (6 December). I have written about it in an <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2262">Editor&#146;s note</a>, but I&#146;ll say it again. He faces up to the key issue for democrats in the face of globalisation: how can people make a difference? </p><p> To put it another way, what comes between protests, think tanks, policy debates, articles and films on the one side, and government itself on the other? Answer: political parties. They are the missing link in most debates over &#145;civil society&#146;. Now Papandreou, an experienced leader, wants to turn the nature and character of his party inside out. Whether or not he and his Greek colleagues succeed, the challenge deserves to be a defining one. For <strong>openDemocracy</strong>, it starts our exploration of what we call open politics. </p><p> Looking back, while successes seem done and dusted, mistakes and failures continue to rankle as if they are still fresh. My top regret was that we were not able to publish a wonderful piece by Sorious Samura commissioned for our major series <a href="/debates/debate-3-115.jsp">My America: Letters to America</a>. </p><p> Sorious is a journalist and film-maker from Sierra Leone and was captured while reporting on Liberia&#146;s civil war. Only American intervention by the Clinton administration using the good offices of Jesse Jackson released him. His gratitude to the United States and concern for the current behaviour of its government was echoed around the world in our unique series of exchanges. Unfortunately Jesse Jackson, who agreed to respond, never found the time to do so in the turmoil of the election campaign. </p><p> At my special request, we publish it on its own today. </p><p> Final selection, top columnist. This was the year that many across America had to face up to the long-term impact and importance of religion. I don&#146;t think it decided the election, but it clearly was one of the organizing forces of George Bush nationalism. Time to salute <a href="/columns/view-8.jsp">Dave Belden</a> for his early insistence and continuing meditations on the ways faith matters, and how its influence should not to be dismissed or patronised by secularists. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Mon, 20 Dec 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2281 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Parties for everyone? https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2262.jsp <p> This is an invitation to a turning point. In a surprising interview with openDemocracy this week, George Papandreou outlines his approach to a new <em>way</em> of doing politics. He wants the party he leads to become an ‘open party’ which reverses the familiar top-down relationship. </p> <p> For a party leader putting his role on the line, the challenge he sets out is exceptionally frank, human and thoughtful. If there is a starting point for a new discussion of how we can open up politics to democracy, surely this is it. </p> <p> George Papandreou was the outstanding Greek Foreign Minister of recent times. Most notably, he oversaw a fundamental reversal in policy towards Turkey, Greece’s historical enemy - opening a new era of co-operation and friendship. He now leads PASOK, which was for many decades the country’s ruling party, but which was thrown out by Greek voters last year. </p> <div class="pullquote_new"> To read George Papandreou on open politics, click <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2255">here</a>. </div> <p> Thrust into opposition he describes some of the steps he wants PASOK to take. Speaking from personal experience he describes how he rejected calls to be a politician in the normal sense of the word, banging the table and driving around in big cars. He sets out his alternative way of seeking to lead. The style is the man. For him this is a matter of method and substance. He directly criticises what he sees as the authoritarian politics of confrontation personified by President Bush. </p> <p> By transforming a political party Papandreou addresses the relationship between the citizen and government. Across the world, hundreds of millions of people are passionately involved in political issues through diverse organisations such as faith groups and non-governmental organisations. Even larger numbers may (or may not) vote when it is offered. </p> <p> But in many countries (especially the “mature” democracies), political parties – the supposed agents of popular power and democratic agency – are shrinking, funded from above by the rich and despised from below by everyone else. </p> <p> Prominent politicians – among them Britain’s Chancellor, Gordon Brown – are concerned over popular disengagement from traditional politics. But usually they treat it as a ‘problem’ they can tackle through established means and ways of thinking. </p> <p> It is much more serious. In Britain, to continue with its experience, only twenty per cent of young people now identify with a political party, down from forty per cent ten years ago. Only recently most young people felt themselves associated with a party. Now it is almost a deviant form of behaviour to think of oneself as being Conservative, Labour or Liberal. </p> <div class="pullquote_new"> If you share openDemocracy&#39;s commitment to dialogue about the key political questions of the modern world, please consider <a href="/registration2/donate.jsp">subscribing</a> for just £25 / $40 / €40. </div> <p> <strong>A new way?</strong> </p> <p> In the United States, too, political parties are hollowed out. This seems particularly true of the Democrats, as Colin Greer, who worked closely with the movements to register voters, will discuss in a future interview with openDemocracy. In Greer’s view the Democrats have virtually ceased to exist as a party at all, and are an empty shell, filled with the echoes of individual candidates. </p> <p> Others, for example John Lloyd in his recent book, see the corrosive influence of the media as part of the problem, severing loyalties with their scorn and sensationalism. </p> <p> But there is an upside to the loss. Papandreou has grasped the way globalisation in all its various guises has severed people from a predetermined fate. Insecurity grows but so too does a positive demand for self-determination. People want to be responsible for their own choices. </p> <p> Traditional politics manipulates both the desire and the concern, playing on fear. And the traditional political party demands that its members leave their brains at the door when they enter a meeting. What were once broad bodies that expressed a social and class interest and developed their members’ role in the world, have become prisons for ‘policy delivery’ - usually decided by small cliques around the leadership based on evidence from focus groups and attitude surveys under the gravitational pull of the media. </p> <p> George Papandreou wants to reverse this by opening up his party to the energy and intelligence of modern culture. Can it happen? If it does it will be a significant move forward in the long marathon from government <em>of</em> the people towards government <em>by</em> the people. </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 09 Dec 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2262 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Optimists in dark times https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2260.jsp <p> Some of my colleagues have told me to come clean. In my 2 December <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2254">editor&#146;s note</a> on why we are publishing Tom Nairn&#146;s <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2249">great response</a> to Tim Garton Ash&#146;s book <em>Free World</em>, I wrote that Tom&#146;s piece is long and difficult because it addresses a difficult problem and at the same time seeks to identify the historic experience that needs to assist the answer. </p><p> &#147;Come off it!&#148; they said. That&#146;s not good enough to justify an overlong read however compelling. Aren&#146;t I just indulging an old friend? And anyway, whose side am I on? </p><p> <em>Free World</em> sets out a clear argument. The transatlantic alliance of America and Europe won the Cold War and in so doing emancipated much of the Soviet sphere and elsewhere. It should be re-forged after 9/11 and use the opportunity to lead the whole globe into a &#147;Free World&#148; (not, Garton Ash notes, &#147;The&#148; Free World, which implies that it is in combat with an alternative). His argument is more far reaching than just a call for a reconstruction of the old Atlantic alliance. It is in every sense a &#145;world view&#146; a picture of how our new world can shape up. </p><p> Nairn wants it to shape up as well. He wants a world of boring, national democracies, living as they will. Let&#146;s call it freedom. But he does not see how such an outcome can be &#145;made&#146; by the West. Globalisation has left its Atlantic playground for good and America is in the grip of a state machine which in its nationalist folly seeks to dominate a process that cannot be so ruled. </p><p> I now see that a key point is indeed buried obscurely in my initial Editor&#146;s Note. The argument between Nairn and Garton Ash is, almost uniquely, a clash between two optimists. </p><p> Think about that. Neither of them take a traditional leftist position or a right-wing one. Both see <em>progress</em> not regression as the leading edge of world forces. </p><p> Both see extremism, from terrorism to the &#145;war against evil&#146;, as fundamentally weak, even if temporarily acute. They see them as reactions born of weakness against an underlying positive movement: for Tim the progress of democracy and freedom, for Tom the liberation of civic nationalism thanks to globalisation. </p><p> Against both of them are ranged the hard left which scorns as imperialism any call for democracy associated with America, and the militant left which sees globalisation as the capitalist disempowerment of people. Often these two lefts are the one and the same, depending on which demonstration they are on. </p><p> When we started openDemocracy we committed ourselves to open debate and exchange. For example, we did a <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=264">careful interview</a> with Shirley Williams and Peter Sutherland who created the WTO (now in our archive). I had hoped that the global justice movement would engage with his arguments, but its thinkers and writers whom we approached proved too busy. </p><p> Then we ran a <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=637">debate</a> between David Held and the late Paul Hirst on globalisation that was widely read. The lesson I drew is that often the most clarifying exchanges are <em>not</em> between those who are furthest apart. Instead, one learns most from debates between those who <em>share</em> a great deal even when they have sharp differences. </p><p> It is the overlap of progressive optimism, the shared ground, that promises an interesting challenge to Timothy Garton Ash by Tom Nairn. </p><p> Whose side I am on? Well, it cant be a black and white answer as it is not a simple divide. </p><p> I am for Tim&#146;s celebration of freedom based on his research and journalism across Eastern Europe, the Balkans and now the Ukraine and his beguiling honesty. There is no such thing, he points out in a recent piece on Kiev&#146;s Orange Revolution as &#145;immaculate victims&#146;. </p><p> But this acknowledgement, though important and right, is also too easy. It seems to me he does not inquire deeply enough into what causes and drives the dark side of our current affairs. </p><p> Tom Nairn has wrestled with this and greatly influenced me. I plead guilty to a shaping friendship. Way back in time we were both on New Left Review. Tom began a process, rooted in his Scottish experience and fuelled by his learning, of recognising nationalism. </p><p> There was a code for talking about it at the time. Did you think 1917 was more important than 1914? </p><p> What this meant was, did you see the patriotic mobilisation of the workers into the catacombs of the trenches of the 1914-18 war as a mere expression of false-consciousness, however terrible, and the Russian revolution as the great breakthrough into a correct challenge to capitalism and violent imperialism? Or did you see the popular forces behind the First World War as expressing a determining aspect of human existence however appallingly distorted and manipulated, and 1917 as an expression of the same force, whatever the sentiments of the Bolsheviks, hence the culmination of their experiment in Stalin&#146;s great Russian nationalism. </p><p> Well, I went with Tom and the defining importance of 1914, and what I think of as the real world. </p><p> Since then, as Tom has described, his own theory of nationalism has shifted from accepting the <a href=http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/gellner/index.htm target=_blank>Ernest Gellner</a> argument that nationalism was both a means and expression of modernisation and &#145;catching up&#146;, to recognising deeper aspects of identity. Now, he emphasises, the United States, the foremost home of modernity and globalisation itself &#150; the country that has no need whatsoever to &#145;catch up&#146; because it is well in front &#150; has been captured by a determined leadership that draws upon the raw spirits of all too familiar nationalisms past. (This process has been compelling described on <strong>openDemocracy </strong>by <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2081">Anatol Lieven</a>). </p><p> In his <strong>openDemocracy</strong> response to Tim&#146;s <em>Free World</em>, Nairn emphasises that the Bush or fundamentalism branch of American nationalism has captured the American state and is currently reshaping it and its constitution fundamentally. It is not values or &#145;isms&#146;, but an entrenched machinery with its own interests and logic which stands before the world once more as its pale colossus. </p><p> Of course, we can and must argue that it should be more realistic, but to believe that it will listen to reason is a category mistake. </p><p> What fascinates me about the argument between Tim and Tom is that neither of the two see economic interest or networked globalisation as determining the world&#146;s destiny. Both reject structural fatalism and economic determinism, whether neo-liberal or classical Marxism. </p><p> Both are committed to the reality and possibility of global politics built from national democracies. </p><p> Garton Ash is an exceptionally clear writer who has done much to record and support popular movements, but his argument has a flaw, in my view. He appeals to the traditional ruling elites of Washington, London and Paris to be more enlightened. He seems to want them to plan his new world from above. I share Nairn&#146;s scepticism that any such solution is now possible. </p><p> But I am not convinced by Nairn&#146;s conclusion that freedom has to be unplanned if this means being unpurposive. If Nairn himself has no answer does this make what he argues all the more convincing? I leave that as a question. </p><p> And the length of Nairn&#146;s essay? Garton Ash has written a book. Nairn has set out his alternative worldview in 11,000 words and it is free! </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 08 Dec 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2260 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Tom Nairn vs Timothy Garton Ash https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2254.jsp <div><div class="pull_quote_article">To read Tom Nairn's essay, "The Free World's end?", click <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-3-77-2249.jsp> here</a> <p> If you share <strong>openDemocracy's</strong> commitment to dialogue about the key political questions of the modern world, please consider <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/registration2/donate.jsp> subscribing</a> for just &pound;25 / $40 / €40. </p></div><p> What future is there for democracy, freedom and human rights? The future of these <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2092">universal</a> values will be fought out by nations, institutions and religions &#150; in other words by the particular, the different, the non&#150;universal. </p><p> Foremost among the &#147;non&#150;universals&#148; is the United States. Its current leadership has laid claim to democracy and freedom. Is it also possible to advocate and defend these principles against America? </p><p> This is a deceptively simple question. In this edition of <strong>openDemocracy</strong> <a href=http://www.granta.com/authors/842 target=_blank>Tom Nairn</a> explores it in a sympathetic but far&#150;reaching assessment of <em>Free World</em> by <a href=http://www.freeworldweb.net/tga.html target=_blank>Timothy Garton Ash</a>. </p><p> Nairn&#146;s essay is hard reading, and one of the longest articles we have published. Its difficulty is rooted in the nature of that question. To encourage and share its discussion, we are inviting all readers to access the handsome print (PDF) version, usually available only to subscribers. </p><p> Timothy Garton Ash&#146;s <a href=http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,0_0713997648,00.html target=_blank>book</a> provides an energetic, optimistic survey of the opportunity that has opened up for a post&#150;9/11 world, one able to meet the challenge posed by another <strong>openDemocracy</strong> author, Fred Halliday, in his latest <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2225">essay</a>: &#147;what comes after the end of the cold war?&#148; </p><p> In response, Nairn suggests that Garton Ash is arguing for a form of &#147;self&#150;colonisation&#148;, an internal acceptance and embrace of American domination. His offer may seem to be an alliance with America in favour of a democratic globalisation, in which the US finds its own place amongst others. The reality that Nairn diagnoses is a self&#150;subordination to an American definition of globalisation in its own special image. </p><p> Nairn explores and reveals this underlying tension in Garton Ash&#146;s work (and the experience of &#147;self&#150;colonisation&#148;) through a characteristically rich pattern of association (much of it featuring work <strong>openDemocracy</strong> has published in recent months): Robert Musil&#146;s classic novel of imperial decay, <em>The Man Without Qualities</em>, the feebleness of Australian identity, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2190">Francis Fukuyama</a> and endless history, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2081">Anatol Lieven</a> and American nationalism, Paul Celan&#146;s <em>Deathfugue</em>, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2021">Stephen Howe</a> and the colossal Niall Ferguson, the Ottoman sultanate, China and Taiwan. </p><p> And this professor of globalisation in <a href=http://www.rmit.edu.au/browse/About%20RMIT%2FContact%20Us%2FStaff%2Fby%20name%2FN%2F;ID=9nx4xwtapmo9;STATUS=A target=_blank>Melbourne</a> focuses too on the revealing experience of his home country, Scotland (where he is a legendary figure &#150; two years older than the Loch Ness Monster, but unquestionably real). </p><p> In a pioneering set of essays he wrote for <strong>openDemocracy</strong> in early 2003, &#147;<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=879">America vs Globalisation</a>&#148;, Nairn was the first to argue at length for the nationalist character of the Bush response to 9/11. He saw the invasion of Iraq as about neither <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/search/AdvancedSearchResults.jsp target=_blank>oil</a>, Halliburton, nor Israel (whatever additional influences these may have had), but rather as being centrally about demonstrating that the United States had not been fundamentally altered by the 9/11 attacks &#150; that it could &#147;get&#148; a target of choice at will, and by so doing prove itself to itself. </p><p> This thesis had a positive edge. Because, Nairn argued, while America led the new wave of globalisation which characterises our period, it is also unleashing something which by its nature cannot be owned or controlled by any one country. The nationalist impulse behind the Iraq adventure <em>had </em>to fail &#150; not least because it was led by an illegitimate presidency which had stolen high office. </p><p> Nairn now returns to his argument of two years ago in more sober mood. The Republicans&#146; <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2212">election</a> victory of November 2004 seems set to fuse Bush&#150;style US nationalism with the form and nature of the American state; the result is likely to reshape its lived <a href=http://www.versobooks.com/books/klm/l-titles/lazare_velvet_coup.shtml target=_blank>constitution</a>. Any opposition to this must necessarily be &#147;anti&#150;American&#148; even when recognising that the most passionate and influential of such voices are themselves American. </p><p> Nairn implies that hard but important distinctions are needed. Saying horrible things about the greatest power of earth has a comforting ability to inflate the self&#150;importance of the speaker. All too often anti&#150;American<em>ism</em> is an excuse for turning off the brain and indulging in narcissistic self&#150;congratulation. Nairn, by contrast, wants to keep the nerve of opposition and engage with realities. </p><p> The sweep and audacity of Tom Nairn&#146;s critique is linked to an underlying worldview that seeks a fresh, progressive politics. It isn&#146;t going to be easy. I asked Tom Nairn to respond to Timothy Garton Ash as one optimist to another; but it is not sufficient just to look on the bright side. </p><p> We at <strong>openDemocracy </strong>draw inspiration from the words of Tom Nairn&#146;s compatriot, the artist and writer <a href=http://www.alasdairgray.co.uk/ target=_blank>Alasdair Gray</a>, who once offered this injunction to his fellow&#150;Scots: &#147;work as if you were in the early days of a better nation&#148;. We might add (not replace): &#147;and a better world&#148;. </p><p> </p></div> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 02 Dec 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2254 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A time to think hard https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2232.jsp <p> On 15 February 2003 millions of people around the world demonstrated in unprecedented numbers against the forthcoming invasion of Iraq. I was among those who welcomed this and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1052">argued</a> that a &#147;new superpower&#148; was being born &#150; the power of world public opinion. On 2 November 2004 the views and influence of this new power was narrowly but decisively rejected by a growing majority of the American electorate. </p><p> There are moments in modern history when anyone who wants to know realises they are living through a historic turning&#150;point. </p><p> Sometimes these are moments of hope or profound uncertainty when a new direction will be taken, although how remains unclear. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the dismantling of the Berlin wall in 1989, the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001: these were just such points in time when nothing would be the same again but the way in which things would alter was open &#150; indeed this was part of the drama of the moment. </p><p> There are other times when a course is set. The building of the wall across <a href=http://www.wall-berlin.org/gb/berlin.htm target=_blank>Berlin</a>, for example, the invasions of Hungary and later Czechoslovakia by the then Soviet Union in 1956 and 1968. These were stomach&#150;turning moments of fate being decided for years to come. </p><p> Often such moments are electoral ones: whether negative (Hitler winning in January 1933) or positive (Labour&#146;s 1945 victory in Britain). The triumph of President Bush this year seems to be just such a definitive change. A course which had been signalled and started but was strongly contested has been confirmed. It will now be seen through. </p><p> What this may mean for the world and especially whether and how the cause of democracy will be advanced, and by whom, are huge questions. With your help and that of other readers and subscribers, we intend to address them and debate them in <strong>openDemocracy</strong>. We start in this edition with an assessment by two authors who look back at what has ended. </p><p> One is not a direct a response to the American election. <a href= http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-2-97-2234.jsp>Stephen Howe&#146;s</a> &#147;The death of Arafat and the end of national liberation&#148; argues that the worldwide national&#150;liberation movements came to a final symbolic end with the coincidental death of Yassar Arafat. He provides a sweeping but detailed and strongly felt summary of the ambiguous and often wild character of the anti&#150;colonial struggles that accompanied the cold war. </p><p> Those struggles often provided a vicarious cause for radicals and, yes, demonstrators, not least in the west. </p><p> Those worldwide demonstrations against the Iraq war were mostly called by organisers from what can be seen as the national&#150;liberation tradition. On the one that I was on in London I was struck by the utterly different, or rather the completely &#147;normal&#148; character of the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=996">million&#150;plus</a> who took to the streets, often as families, in a demonstration that was between two and three times larger than any previously held in the United Kingdom. </p><p> At the same time, those who called it and ran the platform in a narrow and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2175">sectarian</a> way seemed like a bizarre hangover: we can see them now as an Arafat generation unable to engage with the realities of the cause they initiated. </p><p> Is it too far a stretch to see &#147;Nader for President <a href=http://notmtwain.typepad.com/nader_for_president/ target=_blank>2004</a>&#148; as similar &#150; not so much a lost cause as one locked in denial? </p><p> <a href= http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-3-117-2225.jsp>Fred Halliday</a>, in &#147;Bush&#146;s triumph&#148;, looks back directly on how three periods of transition reached their terminus on 2 November 2004. He is the first, I think, to identify a major change in trenchant terms: the continuation of communism in a new form. </p><p> The national&#150;liberation movements Howe discusses were the underside of the cold war. The two superpowers frozen in mutual nuclear deterrence, often tested their strengths by proxy in the wars and political violence that were a constant across the &#147;global south&#148;. </p><p> The end of the cold war in 1989 marked the defeat of combative military communism. But Halliday sees that instead of it being &#147;democracy defeating communism&#148;, as was celebrated at the time, the west has incorporated communist forms of rule into the now truly global capitalist system, as a Russian oligarchy and a Chinese party machine ride the waves of economic growth. </p><p> As both the main organised forms of global opposition to American power disappear, has one of them transformed itself into a more efficient form of growth? Will authoritarian or democratic globalism prevail? </p><p> Hard international realities accompany the Bush victory and must now become part of the thinking of that &#147;new global power&#148;. Taking to the streets is clearly not enough, it is brainpower not walking and shouting that is called for now. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 18 Nov 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2232 at https://www.opendemocracy.net After the tears https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2207.jsp <p> George W Bush has gained a plurality of 3.5 million in the United States <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/americas/2004/vote_usa_2004/default.stm target=_blank>election</a>. With a turnout at 113 million, that is close but decisive. </p><p> What does it mean and what should those who want to secure open, democratic societies in America and around the world do now? </p><p> The <em>New York Times</em> reports that a retired bureau chief in the Iowa department of education, a lifelong registered Republican, had been turned into a Kerry supporter by the war in Iraq, &#147;I feel I&#146;m a bit of a traitor. But I have to deal with principles. I just feel that the Republican party headed by George Bush is calamitous.&#148; </p><p> &#147;With people like this&#148;, a Democrat supporter said to me, &#147;We should have been able to win. We recruited the greatest army on the left in forty years. And it still wasn&#146;t enough.&#148; </p><p> I don&#146;t think that Democrats should beat themselves up about what has happened. The fact that they pushed Bush to the wire created amongst them a tremendous sense of hope in the last few days that there would be a breakthough. This may lead to arguments about what more they could have done that might have made the difference. <div><div class="pull_quote_article">Show your support for openDemocracy Subscribe today for &pound;25/€40/$US40. <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/SUPPORT15.html target=_blank>Click here</a> </div><p> But Bush had 9/11. He decided in September 2001, as the towers went down, to run as a national war leader, From a starting&#150;point then of 88% popular <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2194">support</a>, he remained a huge spender <em>and</em> a tax&#150;cutter, and launched two initially successful wars. It should never have been close. Why then did Kerry do so well? </p><p> Bush had lost all three debates. He is unlikely to forget the humiliation. The aftermath of his war in Iraq is going badly. The economy is sluggish. On all the major issues of domestic and foreign policy, and in terms of his capacity to be a capable, strategic leader, he failed. These failures point towards disasters to come in his second term. </p><p> Nonetheless he won because he used the incumbency to turn the contest into one about character, and himself as a leader in a time of war against a new evil: Terror with a capital T. </p><p> Voters bought this. Those who thought honesty was the most important quality in a leader split for Bush two to one, according the <em>New York Times</em>. </p><p> Make people afraid; make them quiver; then offer them strength through certainty. An <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2081">evangelical nationalism</a> that offers conviction without complicated content gave Bush victory on what America calls &#147;cultural issues&#146;&#146; &#150; organised by religion, sport (especially the National Rifle Association), and media (especially Murdoch&#146;s <a href=http://www.outfoxed.org/ target=_blank>Fox News</a>) and reinforced by fears for sex and marriage (with eleven state referenda on gay marriage). </p><p> This was, in short, induced and well&#150;organised fear, politically unified by the Republican machine. But it is based upon a deluded view of the nature of the world and America&#146;s capacity to be untouched by it. </p><p> To have any chance of success, the Democrats had to be led by a figure with enough military credibility to take on Bush at his strongest and offer a counter&#150;response to his &#147;war on terror&#148;. This was a trap, but one that &#150; thanks to Bush&#146;s response to 9/11 &#150; was unavoidable. Kerry did what he could backed by a hugely creative alliance of non&#150;party <a href=http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.09/moveon.html target=_blank>organisations</a>, creating a formidable counter &#150; both financial and organisational &#150; to the wealthy, church&#150;backed Republican coalition. </p><p> The danger now is that this network will split apart as it rebounds from defeat. If it understands itself and how far it has come, this will not happen. </p><p> For this network has started, with all the breadth, freshness and energy of America, to develop a better form of politics, one capable of discipline but not commanded by the machine &#150; an alliance of participation and the structures of traditional representative politics. </p><p> Boxed in by fear and terror, its greatest weakness has been its inability to articulate a clear, positive relationship to the wider world. Kerry tried, calling for multinational alliances, and even this seemed brave. But it was also unconvincing because old&#150;fashioned. The world forces that American must work with and can no longer dominate go much further than traditional diplomacy or the exercise of &#147;<a href=http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/news/opeds/2003/nye_soft_power_iht_011003.htm target=_blank>soft power</a>&#148;. </p><p> The politics of Bush defies the world and cannot succeed, economically or militarily. To be overcome it needs to be challenged by a domestic American politics that is also a politics of the world, open to the democratic influences of globalisation in a positive manner. </p><p> This will call for an open politics outside the United States committed to confronting terrorism democratically and able to work in concert with progressive forces in America. </p><p> Without in any way denying the disasters likely to follow from Bush&#146;s victory &#150; from the promotions into the Supreme Court and the intensification of the war in Iraq to a further deepening of <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1994">inequality</a> and dismantling of welfare in the US itself &#150; this election has an upside: the quality, maturity and open&#150;minded commitment of the opposition to Bush. Unlike the equivalent contest of Nixon versus McGovern in 1972 when the Democrats were wiped out everywhere, 2004 leaves the legacy of a movement capable of holding its own. </p><p> There is another America, an alternative to the closed certainties of the re&#150;elected president. It has been defeated but it has reason to be proud. </p><p> </p></div></p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 03 Nov 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2207 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bush has lost https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2194.jsp <p> President Bush has lost. I don&#146;t mean the election &#150; that will be up to the American voters on Tuesday 2 November. </p><p> What I mean is that the 43rd United States president, who offers himself to his people as the most righteous and convinced of leaders, has lost the moral right to lead America&#146;s democracy. </p><p> Last week I went to an Atlantic Books event in London sponsored by the <em>Sunday Times </em> to launch <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2057">Irwin Stelzer</a>&#146;s collection of essays on neo-conservatism. The keynote speaker was an eloquent and wide-ranging Bill Kristol of Washington&#146;s <a href=http://www.weeklystandard.com/ target=_blank><em>Weekly Standard</em></a>. </p><p> He told the invited gathering that Bush was a couple of points ahead in the polls, would probably win and that despite bad mistakes made in Iraq, the United States &#147;would prevail&#148;. </p><p> He was not as harsh or uncritical as another leading neocon, <a href=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/opinion/columns/krauthammercharles/ target=_blank>Charles Krauthammer</a> &#150; whose attack on Francis Fukuyama is dissected in this edition of <strong>openDemocracy</strong> by <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2190">Danny Postel</a>. But what shocked me was the presumption that a narrow Bush win was as good as a landslide. Two points and America would be his. </p><p> Should a hardened editor be shocked? In this case certainly. In mid-November 2001, two months after 9/11 when Bush had started to run as a national war leader, his approval rating touched 88%. In the best of current polls for him, it is now just below 50%. </p><p> Suppose a Democratic President, one need not mention Clinton, had suffered such a huge loss of popular backing. Wouldn&#146;t <em>this</em> be stamped through him like stigmata by <a href=http://www.outfoxed.org/ target=_blank>Fox News</a>? A loser of that much popular support while declaring and &#147;winning&#148; a war has clearly not got what it takes to head a country. </p><p> It is too glib to say that, &#147;anyway&#148; Bush lost the 2000 election - and then stole it. I believe that the constitutional humiliation America suffered then is hugely important and has been repressed. John Kerry should have made it one of his key domestic issues, committing himself to ensuring a fundamental democratic right: that all Americans have the federal right to vote and to have their vote <em>counted</em>. </p><p> This repression has several causes, one of them the feeling that Al Gore had <em>also</em> lost an election that was his to win. Then the whole issue dissolved in the smoke and rubble of the World Trade Center. In its aftermath, that 88% public support made Bush a fully legitimate president of choice. </p><p> To be reduced from this to a position of needing to steal the election <em>again</em> by one or two percentage points is a political catastrophe for the president. </p><p> There is also the danger that a renewed Bush incumbency will treat a technical success as bestowing a god-endowed right to rule. This could become the first lie of the new administration, if <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2186">John Berger</a> is right in his analysis of the last four years. </p><p> What can the rest of the world do? Well, we have to listen and argue and work for a better democratic politics than the one offered by any of the US candidates. </p><p> This requires not partisan intervention (as when the London Guardian decided to entice its readers to contact voters in a swing county of a swing US state, Ohio) but a respectful dialogue of equals. This was the impulse behind <strong>openDemocracy</strong>&#146;s <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/debate-3-115.jsp target=_blank>Letters to Americans</a> project, which by election day itself will have published eighteen exchanges from fifteen countries in four continents - including a Somali journalist, a Bolivian labour organiser, an Israeli settler, an Iraqi mother, a Chinese dissident, and an Iranian philosopher. The aim was to reveal the passionate, complex engagement of people around the world with the United States, and to listen to the varied responses of individual Americans. </p><p> The series opened a space where strong and skilful criticism was based on a respect for the best of the United States political process and for the people whose lives are decided by it. Among the keynotes was a sense of spurned affection, leaking &#150; in tomorrow&#146;s striking contribution from Russia, where Sergei Markov, a foreign policy adviser to Vladimir Putin, voices intense anger at American indifference to his country&#146;s national claims &#150; into an anguished defiance that has about it the sense of a historic shift. </p><p> Most of the Americans who responded &#150; including philosopher Richard Rorty, international law scholar Anne-Marie Slaughter, African specialist Gayle Smith and historian John Dower &#150; have done so with the unfailing civility that is one outward face of the morally respectful public discourse that the current president and his &#147;folks&#148; (as <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2184">Godfrey Hodgson</a> ironically describes them) has done so much to undermine. </p><p> As <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2159">Todd Gitlin</a>&#146;s analysis of the three presidential debates showed, it seems that no one has a greater difficulty in communicating with those who disagree with him - his own compatriots as well as non-Americans - than the current president of the United States. </p><p> This is not only a deformation of character. It means that whatever American voters decide, Bush has proved he is a loser. He can&#146;t communicate with his own people in all their diversity, and such a president will not be able to lead America in a successful engagement with the world as a whole. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 27 Oct 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2194 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why the United States and Israel? https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2176.jsp <p> The war in Iraq and how to fight terror on a global scale are playing a defining role in the United States presidential election. It is exceptional that foreign policy should be so central in a contest usually decided by domestic differences. </p><p> But there is something very strange about the <em>way</em> that this is happening. The foreign country Americans care about more than any other, Israel, is barely mentioned. Yet it is deeply involved in a terrible conflict with Palestinians which is at least as central to the &#147;<a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/columns/view-2.jsp target=_blank>war on terror</a>&#148; as Iraq. </p><p> Many people of goodwill are cautious to voice in public their concerns over the nature and direction of the current alliance between the United States and Israel and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. </p><p> There has been no discussion about these issues, only the briefest mention, in the three candidates&#146; debates between George W Bush and John Kerry. </p><p> This week <strong>openDemocracy</strong>, which is proud to enjoy a high proportion of American members amongst its worldwide readership &#150; as our <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/issue-3-115.jsp target=_blank>vigorous forums</a> testify - publishes a full-scale, passionate exchange on the issue missing from the US election, in three major articles. </p><p> In his new <a href=http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/books/default.aspx?id=28071&subject=biography target=_blank>anatomy</a> of the contemporary United States, <em>America Right or Wrong: an anatomy of American nationalism</em>, the reporter and historian Anatol Lieven, now a senior <a href=http://www.ceip.org/files/about/Staff.asp?r=42 target=_blank>associate</a> at Washington&#146;s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argues that the alliance between the US and Israel has become a fusion of regressive nationalisms that carries great dangers for both countries. </p><p> In September, <strong>openDemocracy</strong> published a special <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2081">essay</a> by Lieven summarising the key points in his argument, which stretches far beyond America&#146;s relations with Israel. </p><p> <strong>openDemocracy</strong> stands for open politics and honest, insightful argument where the case made by others is taken at its strongest. We asked the scholar Emanuele Ottolenghi to critique Lieven&#146;s analysis of US-Israeli relations. </p><p> In his <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2170">review</a>, Ottolenghi charges Lieven with ignorance over nationalism, incoherence over liberalism, indulgence over anti-semitism, and inaccuracy over American foreign policy. He argues that Washington, far from needing to change its approach by putting pressure on Israel to reach a peace agreement with its Arab and regional neighbours, has in fact consistently acted for peace, and that its recent disengagement is the consequence not the cause of a diplomatic failure in which Palestinian terrorism and Arab intransigence were major factors. </p><p> Anatol Lieven <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2171">responds</a> in turn: the failure of the American political elite to discuss this critical issue, he argues, has betrayed the national interests of the American people and of loyal American allies, and will prove a disaster for Israel, a country he strongly supports. </p><p> To help readers make up their minds, we also carry an extract from the relevant chapter of <a href=http://www.ceip.org/files/publications/Anatol_America_Right_Or_Wrong.asp target=_blank>Lieven&#146;s book</a>. It contains a very striking analogy. The first world war was precipitated by Serbian extremists whose ambitions had been inflamed by their confidence in the massive support extended to Serbia by the vast Russian empire of the Czars. Could Israel, thanks to its American alliance, be similarly overconfident today? </p><p> <strong>openDemocracy</strong> is committed to sustained, serious debate which seeks to understand the deeper issues at stake. In the case of Israel and neighbours, see for example, Eyal Weizman&#146;s pioneering mapping of Israel&#146;s West Bank occupation policy in his two series: &#147;The politics of verticality&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=801">April-May 2002</a>) and &#147;Ariel Sharon and the geometry of occupation&#148; (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1474">September 2003</a>). </p><p> This approach is continued by a recent exchange in our <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=115">Letters to Americans</a> series, where Israeli journalist and West Bank settler Yisrael Harel and American peace campaigner Jo-Ann Mort ask <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2136"><em>America and Israel: what kind of friends?</em></a>. </p><p> In the conclusion to our six-part series on <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/debate-8-112.jsp target=_blank>Abu Ghraib</a> this week, the Jordanian-Palestinian journalist Rami Khoury <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2166">identifies</a> a missing link in debates over Iraq and its occupation: the failure of Arabs to achieve the application of universal principles of law, justice and accountability in the lands they themselves govern. </p><p> All too often charges of anti-Semitism, anti-Arabism, racism and prejudice, are used to intimidate, silence, caricature and dismiss those who wish to develop these and similar arguments. </p><p> Our exchange between Anatol Lieven and Emanuele Ottolenghi touches on these claims with some force and passion as it confronts the larger issues of nationalism, justice and democracy. Our aim is to see it continue. If Americans are not able to engage as they should then it is the responsibility of the rest of the world to do so. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 20 Oct 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2176 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Reinhard Hesse - you were our wild side https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2158.jsp <p><em>Reinhard Hesse, who was born in 1956, died in Berlin on 11 October 2004 of a brain tumour</em>. <em>A speechwriter for the German Chancellor, </em><em><a title="Gerhard Schröder" href="http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerhard_Schr%C3%B6der">Gerhard Schröder</a>, he was an important contributor and advisor to </em>openDemocracy. <em>This appreciation is followed by the speech Anthony Barnett later gave at Reinhard's memorial; with the Chancellor and Foreign Minister Joskar Fischer in the audience. </em></p><p>In the slowly moving solar system of the German Federal Republic, Reinhard Hesse was a comet. Not for him the easily predictable movements of regular planets or the obscure wanderings of anonymous meteors. </p> <p> Many, perhaps most people (Germans are no exception) keep their heads down. Whether out of fear or lack of hope they do not look at larger horizons and especially not the night skies. Reinhard wasn’t famous even in his own country. But such was his brilliance that many of us from other, more remote, parts of the global galaxy – the Lebanon, France, even England, and certainly <strong>openDemocracy</strong>, where we try to look out for such things – witnessed and took inspiration from the trail Reinhard blazed. </p> <p> I first met him in 1998. He was already working full–time for the German Chancellor, then based in Bonn. Sent by <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1753">Johannes Willms</a> of the <em>Süddeutsche Zeitung</em>, for whom I then wrote on occasions, I went to see him one evening in his Munich flat. We talked and drank, went out and ate and drank some more, then went back and talked and seven hours later, I had a friend whom I felt I had known all my life. </p> <p> Big–eyed but not “wide–eyed”, hard thinking and tremendously dynamic, Reinhard could switch effortlessly from his native German to wonderful idiomatic English, fluent French and, when Marie–Claude, his beloved wife–to–be phoned, intimate Arabic. His passions ranged from soccer to cinema, from opera to rock ‘n’ roll, from Egyptology to European literature. As I was to learn, over the all too brief time that followed, nothing was foreign to Reinhard except the second–rate. </p> <p> My attachment to him and the fascination that he exercised on many of us wasn’t simply due to the vigour of his conversation and his company. There are other intellectuals who could match this. Such cleverness is usually deployed, however, to patronise the present and diminish the rest of us. Reinhard was intensely impatient with such attitudes. He was a fighter for the public good. He had the patience to know that this would take time accompanied by a driving, angry impatience and scorn for backwardness and time–wasters. A wonderful talker, he despised mere talk. </p> <p> Reinhard had style. He was tidy and focused. Deeply radical by temperament yet concerned above all with the outcome (not the theatre of the struggle or the spin of the headlines) Reinhard was a stylist for substance. This put him into energetic combat with the two great tendencies of our time: first, with the ever more detailed, market–driven realism that embraces compromise with “the way it goes” (for its representatives – and I’m sure he came across them in the Chancellery – he was uncompromising and difficult); and second, with the wasteful artifice and passions of those who see no possible hope in office or existing authority, and whose easy condemnations and slack attention to detail he scorned. </p> <p> All this made him a moderniser, in the best sense. He was more than Chancellor Schröder’s speechwriter. In 1993 he had written a book for him, <em>Reifeprüfung: Reformpolitik am Ende des Jahrhunderts</em> (“Graduating: the politics of reform at the end of the century”) and in 1998 they published <em>Und weil wir unser Land verbessern: 26 Briefe für ein modernes Deutschland</em> (“And because we improve our country: 26 letters for a modern Germany”). Both were sweeping attempts to articulate an accessible, contemporary progressive politics in Germany, linked to the wider world of Europe and globalisation. </p> <p> Which brings me back to that first conversation. Reinhard argued, probed and listened. I discovered that we shared a passion for the big picture and telling detail: late into the Munich night we argued over the fate of Wales. A country many in Europe have not heard of, and which most English are pathologically incapable of taking any interest in, mattered to us both. I reported that the motive behind Blair’s use of modernisation (“me modern therefore do what I say”) had broken through the surface of glamour and world fame that then hugely attracted the German government. </p> <p> Reinhard grasped that decentralisation is an essential part of democratic globalisation. He knew this to mean that when a people are given power, they should exercise it. I explained how Blair had decided to impose his own lacklustre crony Alan Michael upon the newly–devolving <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/history/sites/nation/pages/new_nation01.shtml" target="_blank">Welsh</a> using every technique of traditional fixing by the centre. It was bound to fail, I predicted. More important, it meant that Blair did not understand “the project” he claimed to lead. I was glad to learn that Reinhard took back to Bonn the first health warning on a British prime minister – who at the time seemed able to do no wrong. </p> <p> From the beginning Reinhard advised <strong>openDemocracy</strong>, pressed us to raise our game, supported us generously with articles and even euro, whose launch he celebrated for us at the start of 2002. This support included writing that spanned the current history of the site: from “A letter for Europe” (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=337">17 May 2001</a>) – one of the first articles we published – to “Crossroads or roundabouts: where now for Europe?” (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1970">23 June 2004</a>), just before his fatal cancer was diagnosed. </p> <p> In an obituary notice <a href="http://www.literaturfestival.com/bios1_3_5_283.html" target="_blank"> Tilman Spengler</a> writes about Reinhard’s close yet unsentimental friendship. That is right. They say that the head of a comet is icy. Reinhard’s warmth was tempered by lucidity. In argument he took no prisoners. To be with him and Marie–Claude as they debated headscarves was a fabulous privilege in which one barely dared to take part and was to witness both blazing passion and an utter refusal of sentimental pieties. Reinhard burnt himself up too fast, a tragedy for all who knew and loved him. He will remain an inspiration. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> <strong>Reinhard Hesse – what we have lost, a memorial eulogy</strong>&nbsp; <br /> <strong>Berlin, 23 October 2004</strong> </p> <p> Since I sat with Reinhard as he was dying I have thought a lot about what we have all lost. </p> <p> I have lost the opportunity to have a conversation that I wanted to have with him since we met. I was too shy, or perhaps embarrassed. Now, Reinhard, wherever you are, I will tell you a little of what I wanted to say. </p> <p> I, with a Jewish background, feel that today it is you, the Germans, who are the new English. I mean this as a compliment. </p> <p> At their best the English once used to enjoy a proper sense of self-belief, accompanied by measured restraint – the famous the stiff upper lip - but also wit and irony. Classical learning was considerable, but was carried modestly. The fashion sense was high-quality but discreet. </p> <p> Alas, today amongst the political class in my homeland, few of these virtues have survived. They have been replaced by a cult of "leadership" and worship of conviction for its own sake. Boasting rules the day in Britain. </p> <p> Here, in Germany, I see a modern remaking of traditional virtues of moral seriousness. Reinhard, you worked for these virtues, you wanted Germany to grow up and believe in itself, to become a judicious, fair-minded citizen of the world. </p> <p> However, this is not why I loved your company, Reinhard. Traditional virtues have a downside, such as caution, timidity, clubbish exclusivity, male chauvinism and worse. </p> <p> You weren’t timid. You <em>certainly</em> didn’t have a stiff upper lip! Perhaps you were once a chauvinist - but not after you lived with Marie-Claude! </p> <p> In the brief memoir I wrote about you in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> I said you were a comet blazing through the slowly moving solar system of the German Federal Republic. Here I want to add that you were very much a progressive comet in a Social Democratic solar system with its bureaucratic lethargy and resistance. </p> <p> Now the political right today - this is part of the same conversation with you about modern life and behaviour that has been lost – the right have a great advantage over us. They thrive on violence and greed, on shock and fear. I needn’t mention which government most fits this bill. </p> <p> By contrast we progressives seek fairness, planned growth and consensus. This is our strength but in current battles also a weakness. For progress has to have a wild side: it also needs energy, iconoclasm and a fierce concentration on essentials. </p> <p> Reinhard, you were our wild side. </p> <p> I was especially attached to you because of this - as you sought to discipline the energy and to put it into words. </p> <p> I will miss, so much, our conversations, and we will all miss the book you had started with great Jorge Semprun, two generations – one Spanish-French, the other German-Arab – it was something special to look forward to. </p> <p> And there is another book that you promised. Your novel. You told us that after eight years with the government, whatever happened at the next election, you were going to write a novel about how those who exercise power at the highest level are… “just like us”. Those were your words. Some of us, perhaps, were looking forward to it more than others! </p> <p> I was wondering if there was a phrase that might communicate what we have lost. I was briefly with Marie-Claude just after you died. With typical energy she was already planning this commemoration and what to drink afterwards. She said - in English - “Reinhard <em>hated</em> mineral water”. </p> <p> Not for you the artificial gas and feeble content. I will raise a glass to you Reinhard – I promise it will be a vintage you would be proud of. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p><table border="0" cellspacing="5" cellpadding="5" width="550" bgcolor="#99cccc"> <tr> <td> Reinhard Hesse’s five articles in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> are: <ul> <li> “A letter for Europe” (<a href="/democracy-europefuture/article_337.jsp">17 May 2001</a>)</li> <p>&nbsp;</p> <li> “Europhoria” (<a href="/democracy-europe_security/article_365.jsp">27 February 2002</a>)</li> <p>&nbsp;</p> <li> “An alarm–call for Europe” (<a href="/democracy-europefuture/article_1321.jsp">26 June 2003</a>)</li> <p>&nbsp;</p> <li> “Turkish honey under a German moon” (<a href="/arts-Film/article_1784.jsp">11 March 2004</a>)</li> <p>&nbsp;</p> <li> “Crossroads or roundabouts: where now for Europe?” (<a href="/democracy-europe_constitution/article_1970.jsp">23 June 2004</a>)</li> </ul> </td> </tr> </table> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> editor's note democracy & power Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 13 Oct 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2158 at https://www.opendemocracy.net America and the world after 9/11 https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_2086.jsp <p> Three years ago the world changed. The meaning and nature of the change starts with the carnage wrought by fundamentalist terrorism in the heartland of America. </p><p> But what happened afterwards &#150; the response it unleashed &#150; is more important. </p><p> For example, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 by a member of the Serbian Black Hand, could have remained a limited event: a blow to the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, followed by the destruction of a terrorist network. Instead, the imperial government decided to teach Serbia a lesson and show who was boss in the region. This drew Russia and then Germany into a widening confrontation. The terrorist outrage became the trigger for the first world war. Millions died. </p><p> Have Washington&#146;s leaders repeated the same pattern? What are the global consequences of the United States&#146;s response to the disaster of 11 September 2001? </p><p> These two questions, of understanding and assessment, become the real starting-point of <a href=http://www.openDemocracy.net target=_blank><strong>openDemocracy</strong></a>. We had launched less than three months before 9/11. But the need for a global debate of the kind we sought to develop become evident to a wider public only with the dreadful events of <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=49">that day</a>, when we immediately posed the question in our then debate space, &#147;Is terror the new Cold War?&#148; </p><p> In its wake <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/columns/view-2.jsp target=_blank>Paul Rogers</a> and <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/columns/view-15.jsp target=_blank>Todd Gitlin</a> became regular contributors. For subscribers who can access our archive we have put together the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2075">article</a> Todd Gitlin wrote for us from New York on the evening of 9/11, calling through his grief and patriotism for a focused response to terror, and our first article by Paul Rogers, which calmly sets out al-Qaida&#146;s desire for an expanded US reaction including, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2005">best of all</a>, an invasion of Iraq. </p><p> We continue to confront the two questions. In this edition, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2081">Anatol Lieven</a> argues that the shaping force behind American policy is nationalism &#150; a nationalism he sees as two-fronted and dangerously indifferent to the realities of the world, as other great nationalisms have been. </p><p> It takes much further an argument set out in <strong>openDemocracy</strong> by <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=991">Tom Nairn</a> in the run-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq. Nairn claims that the main driver of Washington&#146;s policy is neither a desire for control over oil (handy though that might be), nor the imperial impulse of a <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1542">small group</a> who seized control through a constitutional coup d&#146;état (even if they did). The force that the Bush administration drew upon and appeals to, he suggests, was a nationalism which refused to accept that the United States is now a country in a world of countries all shaped by the globalisation which the US may have initiated but can no longer run. </p><p> There was an unexpected edge to Nairn&#146;s argument which makes it hard to assimilate in the current climate. It is optimistic. America cannot reverse, let alone control globalisation. In attempting to, it is engaged in a fools&#146; game. The <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=98">Bush doctrine</a>, from this perspective, is the last throw-up of the old world not the determining agency of the new. It is bound to fail. </p><p> Lieven paints a darker picture. </p><p> Another transatlantic analyst, Timothy Garton Ash, has addressed the meaning of 9/11 from a different angle altogether. He insists that the crucial date remains another 9/11 &#150; which in European style stands for the ninth of November, when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. </p><p> We all inhabit a single political world now, he argues in his new book <a href=http://freeworldweb.net/thebook.html target=_blank><em>Free World</em></a>. It is this that should determine policy and we should not allow any response to terrorism to divide the world. Responding to its arguments for us, the Bulgarian Ivan Krastev <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2078">salutes</a> the book and lays out a surprising case for saying that everyone and all countries are interconnected and should conduct themselves accordingly. </p><p> But what if they don&#146;t? Charles Peña of Washington&#146;s Cato Institute offers a <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=2077">third view</a>, that the United States is failing even to conduct an efficient counter-terrorism policy of the most basic kind. </p><p> When I read the passion and reason displayed by Timothy Garton Ash, Ivan Krastov, and Anatol Lieven I found myself haunted by John Maynard Keynes&#146;s book <a href=http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1920keynes.html target=_blank><em>The Economic Consequences of the Peace</em></a>. He wrote it in 1919 after participating in the Versailles conference that drew up the peace treaty after the 1914-18 war. </p><p> The treaty imposed draconian terms on Germany and can be seen as having ensured the survival of a blockaded pariah Russia and led to the rise of Hitler. Keynes described the short-sightedness of the world leaders, spelt out the futility of their decisions and even foresaw the rise of a reactionary regime in Germany &#147;drawing to itself&#133; all those who regret emperors and hate democracy&#133; a new Napoleonic domination, rising, as a phoenix, from the ashes of cosmopolitan militarism.&#148; </p><p> I recalled my shock when I first read these words. They had known, all along! An influential figure had written a compelling bestseller which spelt out the insanity of the course the world leaders had adopted &#150; and it had no influence whatever. </p><p> Keynes himself was hardly optimistic at the time. He reckoned the forces set in motion were already beyond control. He concluded: &#147;In one way only can we influence these hidden currents &#150; by setting in motion those forces of instruction and imagination which change opinion. The assertion of truth, the unveiling of illusion, the dissipation of hate, the enlargement and instruction of men&#146;s hearts and minds, must be the means&#148;. </p><p> This is what <strong>openDemocracy</strong> has set out to do. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 08 Sep 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 2086 at https://www.opendemocracy.net It's the long term, stupid https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1979.jsp <p> One of <em>the</em> questions of the contemporary world is how should two vastly unequal social groups relate: its wealthy minority, concerned to prevent attacks upon it, and its poor majority, concerned to secure the essentials of daily livelihood. Behind it lies a paradox expressed in an article by <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1956">Kofi Annan</a> which <strong>openDemocracy</strong> published on 17 June: &#147;Today, the strong feel almost as vulnerable to the weak as the weak feel vulnerable to the strong.&#148; </p><p> There are many possible answers to this question. All involve enormous sums of money and affect the lives of entire peoples. Any politically relevant solution will have to be both international and win democratic legitimacy, entailing long-term commitments that extend well beyond the cycle of national elections. This, truly, is a 21st century agenda. </p><p> Could a central part of the answer be to promote <a href=http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/tables/members.htm target=_blank>Ecosoc</a>, the United Nations Economic and Social Council, to the same level of authority as the Security Council? </p><p> Many readers might shake their heads &#150; or shrug their shoulders. In one sense, yes, it <em>is</em> a technical, specialist question. </p><p> I know it is not going to happen just yet. But I&#146;d like to live in a time when the issue of Ecosoc&#146;s influence sends tens of thousands to their computers wanting to email articles about it to their friends (and foes). </p><p> Because if you do not want to take your shoes off every time you get on an aeroplane (or perhaps in future a train), or see vast sums of money expended on security and surveillance measures, what then needs to be done? </p><p> Something is so obviously wrong that it is mad. Huge resources of money, time and effort are expended after disasters which could have been prevented for a fraction of the cost. It is a madness currently built into the west&#146;s way of doing things. The press and media sell papers and gain viewers by attacking &#147;do-gooders&#148; who interfere in the affairs of other people. Politicians attack &#147;wasteful&#148; aid and get re-elected. </p><p> Then a catastrophe strikes, huge numbers are afflicted with Aids, famine or terror-supporting dictatorships. The press and media sell papers and get advertising by running gruesome images and calls for action. Statesmen (and they are overwhelmingly men) then seek their &#147;place in history&#148; by intervening in the name of humanity. </p><p> This cycle of crises, their permission and solution &#150; so immensely profligate and inefficient in human terms &#150; is also, for those with power and money, a profitable way of life. In short, it is all much more dramatic and exciting than&#133; well, than Ecosoc. </p><p> In his advocacy of a &#147;social-democratic consensus&#148; for globalisation, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1918">David Held</a> states that the world has the resources and, broadly, knows what needs to be done, but lacks the necessary political will. Just assume that he is right on the first two points (and they are assumptions being strongly contested in our <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1964">debate</a>). It does not follow that to achieve the necessary political will is a small matter. </p><p> The construction of a democratic public able to exercise and sustain such a &#147;will&#148; needs at least four things: </p><p><ul> <li>an intelligent rather than cynical media capable of projecting and sustaining interest in public debate <p> <li>legitimate international diplomacy that enhances rather than undermines national democracies<p> <li>a robust capacity to identify and regulate vested interests that benefit from uneven growth and inequality<p> <li>a people-based politics that has moved on from the voids of party politics and can talk through the kinds of choices and priorities essential to real world activity. </li></p></li></p></li></p></li></ul> </p><p> As part of <strong>openDemocracy</strong>&#146;s contribution we decided to cover questions of effective crisis prevention &#150; however dull this might appear at first sight even to a global readership. We want to ask how analysis and action can combine in ways that both work and are acceptable. So we are particularly interested in the high-level panel that Kofi Annan has <a href=http://www.un-globalsecurity.org/panel.htm target=_blank>appointed</a> to address the role of the United Nations and its response to what he sees as a triple crisis in world affairs. </p><p> The proceedings of the high-level panel are being supported by the <a href=http://www.unfoundation.org/ target=_blank>United Nations Foundation</a> which was created by Ted Turner. I asked the <a href=http://www.34millionfriends.org/documents/unfoundation.htm target=_blank>Better World Fund</a> (a sister organisation of the UN Foundation) to back <strong>openDemocracy</strong>&#146;s editorial work on the issues it is addressing - not to promote its efforts but to assist us putting some critical energy into reporting and examining the problems it is raising. If a conference the UN Foundation backed is bad, we&#146;d say so; if its arguments are overly diplomatic, we&#146;d seek to clarify them. </p><p> The first outcome is that we co-sponsored an international seminar at the London School of Economics. Paul Kingsnorth reports on it for us. Paul is the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1925">author</a> of a recent round-the-world survey of the global social justice movement, &#145;<a href=http://www.paulkingsnorth.net/books.html target=_blank><em>One No, Many Yeses</em></a>&#146;. </p><p> In his report Paul describes a small, perhaps significant moment. <a href=http://www.un.org/ga/president/58/office/president.html target=_blank>Julian Hunte</a>, the current president of the UN general assembly who is from St Lucia in the Caribbean, said that there is no prospect that the Security Council would be reformed as the powers holding veto votes would not relinquish them. In his view, the best, quickest way to make the influence of the majority world felt would be to enhance the power of Ecosoc. <a href=http://www.cer.org.uk/articles/hannay_ft_15march04.html target=_blank>David Hannay</a>, the distinguished ex-diplomat and British member of the high-level panel shook his head in disapproval. </p><p> The high-level panel reports in December 2004. At the moment it is proceeding with little public coverage of the issues. The outcome is all too likely to be yet another document whose main impact on the world will be the loss of the trees it took to print its unread pages. </p><p> But a rare moment is approaching when such a report could make a difference. The United States invasion of Iraq is a disaster, one that our columnist Paul Rogers has tracked in understated fashion since it was a mere gleam in the eye of the maddest <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/columns/view-2.jsp target=_blank>neo-con</a>. In its aftermath it may be possible for better international authority to be established. The suggestions the panel makes <em>and rejects</em> will open and close possibilities. What Julian Hunte proposes is one of these options. In effect, he seems to be saying that taking debate about economic and social issues out of the hands of the Security Council may be essential to giving development issues the importance they deserve. </p><p> One of the things I learnt from the London conference was the simple but obvious point (so often the ones that matter) that there is a huge imbalance of interest, resources and time invested in the <em>military</em> side of security. This starts at the top. Perhaps, then, the best place to start to reverse this is indeed also at the top. Rather than reforming the Security Council and seeking to add to its powers, why not limit its influence and shift power to a new veto-less Development Council responsibility for overseeing questions of global livelihood, food security, education and equality for women? </p><p> This is where the crises that dominate the world&#146;s daily attention and the slow, patient work of institutional reform interconnect. In the era of 24/7 media coverage, it is more then ever necessary to insist on the shaping influence of the long term. That is why <strong>openDemocracy</strong> seeks to look at the world using a long lens, not a rearview mirror. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 23 Jun 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1979 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Arguing Iraq https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1949.jsp <p> <strong>openDemocracy</strong> sends a free weekly newsletter to all our members. On 3 June it led with a <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1937">roundtable discussion</a> where six Iraqis debated the future of their country. Our email said: <div><div class="pull_quote_article">Make sure <strong>openDemocracy</strong> keeps publishing Iraqi Voices by <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/SUPPORT6.html target=blank>subscribing</a> today for &pound;2/€3/$3 per month. This is <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1935">why</a> we need your support.</div><p> &#147;Their views are diverse, but they are unified by an avoidance of simplistic platitudes (no calls for immediate US withdrawal)...&#148; </p><p> This brought sharp protests and an objection in the <a href="/forums/thread.jspa?forumID=136&threadID=42744&tstart=0">forums</a> and in emails to our London office, accusing us of not carrying the voices of &#147;real Iraqis&#148;. As if those who met in our office were unreal. I was struck by the way that this passionate &#147;anti-imperialist&#148; criticism reproduced what is, alas, a classically imperialist attitude &#150; granting recognition only to those natives willing to agree with its own, western, point of view. </p><p> Another reader suggested our coverage was biased in a different way and sent a message saying: </p><p> &#147;I notice you haven&#146;t listed Iraqi blogs that are more favorable to the occupation. This creates an unbalanced impression. Here are some blogs you should list: <a href=http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/ target=_blank>healingiraq.com</a>, <a href=http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/ target=_blank>iraqthemodel.com</a>, <a href=http://messopotamian.blogspot.com/ target=_blank>messopotamian.com</a>, <a href=http://www.iraq-iraqis.blogspot.com/ target=_blank>iraq-iraqis.com</a>, <a href=http://hammorabi.blogspot.com/ target=_blank>hammorabi.com</a> and the news site: <a href=http://www.iraq-today.com/ target=_blank>iraq-today.com</a>. </p><p> Each of these sites lists many more. Their voices deserve to be heard also. </p><p> Thank you! Judith&#148; </p><p> Let&#146;s hear those <a href="/debates/debate-2-73.jsp">voices</a>, and others too! </p><p> Among the messages critical of our announcement, Paul told us: </p><p> &#147;You write that of the views at your Iraqi roundtable there are no &#145;calls for immediate US withdrawal&#146;: &#145;simplistic platitudes&#146; (sic &#150; try looking this word up in a dictionary), you say. Is this condescending attitude toward a widespread and popular Iraqi viewpoint consistent with your site&#146;s proclaimed mission, and with its very name? </p><p> I might have considered donating before. No longer. Thanks for making your true filters clear, or a little more visibly coloured. </p><p> Sincerely, Paul&#148; </p><p> Well, hold on: all the Iraqis at the roundtable wanted full US withdrawal eventually. A lot hangs on the word &#147;immediate&#148;. Joshua too appeared not to notice this word, even after quoting it; he seems to assume that not to demand that the US leaves &#147;now&#148; is like saying it should not leave Iraq at all. He wrote: </p><p> &#147;You claim to be independent, free and open. You claim to &#145;widen the community of influence&#146; for people without access. But this isn&#146;t what you are and it&#146;s not what you do. </p><p> What you do is <em>limit</em> the range of possibilities for your audience. For example, I received the following statement about the Iraqis you met with in an email from you on 4 June: </p><p> &#145;Their views are diverse, but they are unified by an avoidance of simplistic platitudes (no calls for immediate US withdrawal).&#146; </p><p> So you&#146;re saying that it&#146;s unsophisticated to demand that the occupiers of Iraq leave. By using the term platitude, you&#146;re also saying that this demand is dull (at best) or unintelligent (at worst). </p><p> The demand for US withdrawal is simple...SO WHAT?! The demand for an end to slavery in the United States was simple, too. </p><p> This demand is <em>not</em> dull or unintelligent, as you say it is. You seem to indicate that you prefer more &#145;fashionable&#146; and &#145;high-brow&#146; arguments. </p><p> My suggestion to you is <em>don&#146;t front!</em> </p><p> You shouldn&#146;t claim to represent all opinions while marginalizing the ones that you don&#146;t agree with. Maybe you think that you&#146;ll get more subscribers by using the rhetoric of openness and pluralism. </p><p> What is your reaction to my criticism? I hope you&#146;ll take the time to respond and open a dialogue with me. I think that your project has great potential and I&#146;d like to support it if it heads in the right direction. </p><p> Sincerely, Joshua&#148; </p><p> Here is my reaction to Joshua&#146;s criticism. We have not marginalised the arguments for <em>immediate</em> withdrawal. Two weeks before the roundtable we ran strong pieces from <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1907">Charles Peña</a> and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1911">Marcus Raskin</a>, each calling for rapid, unilateral withdrawal, from the point of view of the interests of the United States. </p><p> But from the point of view of the interest of <em>Iraq</em>, to say &#147;US out now&#148; is indeed simplistic. What will replace American power? This is a question Iraqis are probing in the roundtable and in their country. Could there be a civil war between Arabs and Kurds? Would Iran feel forced to defend the interests of its fellow <em>Shi&#146;a</em>? An immediate US withdrawal would be an inspiring victory for Osama bin Laden. Would his fellow Saudi militants use the sanctuary of the vast borderlands between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to group for further attacks? </p><p> Speaking personally, I opposed the invasion of Iraq despite my hatred for Saddam Hussein. I was willing in principle to support outside force to overthrow his extremely violent dictatorship. But I was convinced that the Bush strategy was misconceived and that the &#147;war&#148; against the &#147;Axis of Evil&#148; was a dangerous expression of unbalanced American nationalism. </p><p> That was then: the critical months of 2002-03. The argument was about the consequences of the use of force. My attitude to the threat of American invasion was indeed &#147;simplistic&#148;, if not &#147;platitudinous&#148;. It was &#147;no&#148; and I marched against that threat on <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=979">15 February 2003</a> and analysed the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1052">issues</a> it raised. </p><p> This is now: the middle of 2004. What happens next, it seems to me, is not so simple. </p><p> Except, perhaps, in this sense. The United States government says that it wants democracy. But led by a president who stole his election I have my doubts. I think the key reason why the US occupation has been so costly for Bush militarily and politically, is that &#150; as Paul Rogers has tracked in his quietly devastating <strong>openDemocracy</strong> <a href="/columns/view-2.jsp">column</a> &#150; his administration fears Iraqi democracy and wants to stay in control and build a pliant Iraqi regime. I would like to support Iraqis who want a democratic Iraq, with the rule of law and elections. If Iraq can gain its freedom it will <em>exercise</em> its freedom, and I doubt very much that it will do so in a way that will (for example) endorse the actions of an Ariel Sharon. </p><p> The key point is one of perspective. Iraq is part of America&#146;s reality. <em>But America is also part of Iraqi reality</em>. If the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1935">roundtable</a> is read through an Iraqi as well as a western filter, the vulnerability of Iraqi democrats is striking: at once threatened by the behaviour of the United States yet seeking to create a political process that allows their country to emerge intact and democratic. </p><p> That they should, then, prefer a phased to an immediate withdrawal of the US occupiers is not surprising. Of course, such a process runs the risk that America will &#147;win&#148; and create a puppet regime, whereas if it is forced to pull out now it will clearly and decisively lose. No doubt, this is what many self-styled &#147;anti-imperialists&#148; prefer. But won&#146;t Iraq, Iraqi democrats and the Iraqi people also lose? </p><p> This is the debate that I hope Paul, Joshua and Justin will enter. They should at least consider the idea that backing democracy in Iraq is an essential requirement to oppose the influence of George Bush&#146;s <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1542">neo-con</a> policies there and elsewhere. </p><p> </p></div></p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 09 Jun 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1949 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Paying for Iraqi voices https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1935.jsp <p> Most of you will find the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1937">Iraq roundtable</a> published in this edition of <strong>openDemocracy</strong> difficult to read. I&#146;m asking you to give it time. Try and absorb its serious, tough atmosphere, as chances are weighed and prospects assessed by Iraqis from <em>Shi&#146;a</em>, <em>Sunni</em>, Kurdish and Jewish backgrounds. I was proud to be there and found it moved me in an unexpected way. </p><p> It isn&#146;t a dramatic report from the ground, of the sort we have published from Fallujah (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1843">Jo Wilding</a>) or Sulaimaniya (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1116">Wendell Steavenson</a>) or from Baghdad (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1886">Yahia Said</a>). It does not tell you what to think, at least not until the end, when quite suddenly everyone agrees on what matters. No, what is important is the &#147;structure of feeling&#148; that is conveyed. To read and absorb it as a whole means, for a non-Iraqi, to reach out and understand what it might be like to be an Iraqi. </p><p> Iraq is near an abyss. It could be torn apart from within, by the stupidity of the occupiers, or by provocation of neighbouring elements. The debate in the west is about what should be done <em>to</em> Iraq: to withdraw, put in the United Nations, pack even more military punch. I&#146;d expected educated Iraqis to reflect these differences. Instead, they explore the dangers of division, consider how best to work around America and measure the likelihood of mutual assent. The explosive potential of the differences between them is palpable but not expressed directly in words; these are men and women who want to be proud and patriotic of their country after decades of humiliation. </p><p> It is not, then, a &#147;sexy read&#148;. But it is one of the reasons why <strong>openDemocracy</strong> exists &#150; to bring the voices and arguments of those outside the power centres to the larger world, edited to the highest standards, widening their community of influence. </p><p> It also poses the painful tension at the heart of <strong>openDemocracy&#146;s</strong> existence as a global magazine published on the web. To secure our independence, you who wish to read it and can afford it, must subscribe. By doing so you will be paying for something we must keep free. &#147;How&#148;, as one of our external directors put it, &#147;do you get people to pay for what is free?&#148; </p><p> One answer is to make it unfree. We can&#146;t and won&#146;t do this. We are closing our archive of articles more than three months old. But the whole point of <strong>openDemocracy</strong> is that our debates are open to the world as they happen, not least because we want them to carry on being read in countries where people literally cannot pay like Iraq and Iran. The fact that we are indeed being read there alters and expands the value of reading it everywhere around the world. </p><p> So will you choose to pay for a resource that will remain free? Because, put bluntly, it costs money to make it possible to publish <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/debate-2-73.jsp target>Iraqi voices.</a> </p><p> How much does it cost? There are two answers. The first is the core expense of running an office, and developing an editorial and publishing team &#150; this costs a lot. The second is to measure the hours taken in organising a meeting of this kind: transcribing, editing and polishing a long conversation, clearing their words with each contributor, and taking care to make the presentation attractive. </p><p> The second costs, at minimum, &pound;3,000 ($5,000). And it contains a further element that cannot be so finely calculated yet is perhaps the most significant of all &#150; building the mutual trust and respect to make Iraqis feel that creating such a dialogue is worthwhile. </p><p> In this sense, the Iraqi roundtable is also an investment in the human future &#150; theirs, yours, ours. That is why every subscription to <strong>openDemocracy</strong> counts and every donation helps. <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/SUPPORT8.html target=_blank>Please add yours</a>. </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 02 Jun 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1935 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Iranian option https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1924.jsp <p> So the invasion of Iraq was a set-up. </p><p> The Pentagon thought it ran Ahmad Chalabi&#146;s Iraqi National Congress. In fact, we are now being told (by whom is a question I&#146;ll come to in a moment) that although the United States paid for Chalabi&#146;s information, Tehran was in <a href=http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2004/5/BEC2D698-4B4F-459E-B851-63074BE94448.html target=_blank>control</a> of it. </p><p> According to a US intelligence source, the Pentagon has now stopped subsidising Chalabi after &#147;a review of thousands of internal documents&#148;. This has led it to the conclusion that: <blockquote> &#147;Iranian intelligence has been manipulating the United States through Chalabi by furnishing through his Information Collection Programme information to provoke the United States into getting rid of Saddam Hussein.&#148; </blockquote> A Washington Bureau <a href=http://www.iraq.net/displayarticle3773.html target=_blank>report</a> of Friday 21 May, states (apparently in all seriousness): <blockquote> &#147;At the center of the alleged Iranian intelligence operation, according to administration officials and intelligence sources, is Aras Karim Habib, a 47-year-old Shia Kurd who was named in an arrest warrant issued during a raid on <a href=http://www.iraqinews.com/people_chalabi.shtml target=_blank>Chalabi&#146;s home</a> and offices in Baghdad Thursday. He eluded arrest. <p> Karim, who sometimes goes by the last name of Habib, is in charge of the information collection programme. </p><p> The intelligence source briefed on the Defense Intelligence Agency&#146;s conclusions said that Karim&#146;s &#145;fingerprints are all over it&#146;.&#148; </p></blockquote> Note that insightful, unprejudiced nugget of information, certain to confirm all worst suspicions. Double-agents always have a false name. But just to fool us this one used his own last name as his cover. Damn clever. </p><p> Poor, weak America. As <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1913">George Soros</a> suggests, since 9/11 the United States has turned itself from being a victim into becoming a perpetrator. But it so much wants to remain a victim! It did not mean to launch a nasty invasion. </p><p> Ever Mr Nice Guy, Washington was tricked into the war by the mullahs of Tehran who fed it false information which duped the government of America into believing: <ul> <li>that Saddam was so strong that he had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) hidden so deviously that only the inside information provided by Chalabi&#146;s informants confirmed their existence </li><li>that the Iraqi people would rise up to welcome the US as liberators and bore no grudge against the US for having supported Saddam in the past </li><li>that because of this Saddam was so weak that those pesky WMD which so threatened the world would not endanger the US army, which could therefore invade with few losses </li><li>and as a result, that Ahmad Chalabi, good friend of the Pentagon as he is, could become the acclaimed, democratic leader of Iraq ensuring cheap oil and an end to instability in the region. </li></ul> </p><p> How extraordinarily cunning and devious are those mullahs as they measured the need for understatement, consistency and credibility, into subtly luring the White House into doing their bidding! A trail of a thousand documents confirms the skill of their Persian plot. </p><p> Or, pull the other one? </p><p> But let&#146;s turn to the other side of satire. There is an ominous pointer in the story. </p><p> Not that the whole thing is an inter-agency dust-up, as one quarter of Washington DC tries to pin the blame on another quarter. Of course that&#146;s part of what is happening - but this kind of infighting only goes public when a larger gain stands to be made. </p><p> When &#147;sources&#148; officially expose a person as a double-agent, ask the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=882">John le Carré</a> question. Not whether it is true or false &#150; in this context true information can be disinformation. Ask &#147;what agenda lies behind this, who gains&#148;? </p><p> No one could believe that America was duped into Iraq. Interviews on and off the record confirm that any &#147;information&#148; asked for by the White House about Iraq was a convenience. The decision in principle had already been taken. As George Bush put it, in March 2003 (as reported in <a href=http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/from_covers/0,10987,1101030331-435968,00.html target=_blank><em>Time</em></a>): &#147;Fuck Saddam, we&#146;re taking him out&#148;. </p><p> There isn&#146;t much we can be absolutely certain of about the White House, but I am quite sure that President Bush did not need &#147;<a href=http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1224717,00.html target=_blank>Iranian-manipulated intelligence</a>&#148; in order to come to his conclusion. </p><p> Now, however, the occupation is threatening to become an inconvenience. </p><p> As America seeks to &#147;leave&#148; Iraq, a psychological distancing is called for and blame needs to be projected elsewhere. Among the likely candidates for such an exercise are bound to be those who can be counted as the current winners. In his masterly overview of &#147;America and Arabia after Saddam&#148;, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1900">Fred Halliday</a> identified three: Iran, Israel and Turkey. Turkey is too big and important to quarrel with. A choice is being made, therefore, in Washington, between Iran and Israel. </p><p> Hence the real alarm bell that needs to be attended to in the denunciation of Chalabi: Iran may be next in line. </p><p> We plan, if all goes well, to publish in <strong>openDemocracy.net</strong> a discussion between <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/debate-2-73.jsp>Iraqis</a> about how they and their country should move forward. It is clear from listening to them that they are deeply concerned about agents from other countries being involved in their own. </p><p> But spare a moment for Iran, whose people are overwhelmingly pro-American and mostly oppose the current <a href=http://www.iht.com/articles/520699.html target=_blank>regime</a>. Iran&#146;s ruling mullahs too are divided. They aided the US in the removal of the Taliban from Afghanistan, helped to ensure Saddam&#146;s overthrow and have called for patience as the US blunders into the holy cities of the <em>Shi&#146;a.</em> What do they get for their cooperation? Denunciation for their wicked plotting. </p><p> Opinion columns are filled with reassuring noises that &#147;the axis of evil&#148; is history and the Bush administration has learnt its lesson and is pulling back from its neo-conservative <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1868">agenda</a>. If I was in Tehran, or in John Kerry&#146;s campaign headquarters, I wouldn&#146;t be so sure. </p><p> This is not to predict that America will invade Iran, or permit it to be attacked by Israel. A &#147;cold war&#148; on the regime there could be sufficient. There are even calls for Bush to do a <a href=http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/china/peopleevents/pande01.html target=_blank>Richard Nixon</a>, turn the tables and send Condoleezza Rice on a dash to Tehran, to transform her boss into an election-winning peacemaker. </p><p> I&#146;m simply noting that the &#145;Chalabi scandal&#146; has brought Iran into the centre of things. It has made the question &#147;what should be done about Iran&#148; (as if it was one homogenous thing) part of the ebb and flow of Washington politics. Chalabi didn&#146;t conceal that he had Iranian connections. By turning them into a betrayal of the United States, someone in Washington has opened up an Iranian option. </p><p></p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 26 May 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1924 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A world of equals https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1901.jsp <p> Can the greatest power on earth appreciate what it is like for other people? </p><p> The pictures of Iraqis being tortured by Americans could, finally, teach those who run America the lesson they refused to take after Vietnam. The lesson is the basic one of the global world: all nations and people are equal and must be given equal respect. </p><p> In its heart, it seems to me, the Bush administration denies this even while proclaiming it on television. </p><p> But as Fred Halliday <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1900">suggests</a> in his sweeping overview of the Middle East after Saddam, this is a moment for truth. </p><p> When President Bush delivered his 2002 &#147;State of the Union&#148; <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=176">speech</a> he launched his doctrine of pre-emption against the &#147;axis of evil&#148;. From then on, the president claimed, it was not just a matter of either being with him or against him (which leaves little enough room for discussion) in the fight against terrorism. We had also to agree that being with him was to fight for good against evil. </p><p> Now we are offered another kind of contrast: unlike the enemy, the president points out, the United States does not behead the prisoners it <a href=http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2004-05/12/article08.shtml target=_blank>tortures</a>. An important distinction, not to be sneered at, that brings America down to earth, onto the same moral terrain as everyone else. </p><p> To say that the US must now confront its moral equivalence with the rest of humanity is not to say its actions are the same as those of others. The way the US runs <a href=http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/world/iraq/abu-ghurayb-prison.htm target=_blank>Abu Ghraib</a> is not nearly as terrible as the way Saddam ran it. But now we are talking about the difference between the bad and the worse. In the space of this difference, let me emphasise, liberty can flourish or wither. It&#146;s a difference that can be worth fighting and dying for. But it can no longer be presented as a black and white, &#147;good&#148; versus &#147;evil&#148; difference. The Bush administration can no longer assume a moral polarity that refuses argument and is &#150; in the caustic phrase of Bush&#146;s former treasury secretary, <a href=http://thepriceofloyalty.ronsuskind.com/thebushfiles/ target=_blank>Paul O&#146;Neill</a> - impenetrable to facts. </p><p> That is why this can be a moment for truth for the United States. </p><p> For the facts are now undeniable and unavoidable in Washington. Paul Rogers reminds us, and rightly so, that in his <strong>openDemocracy</strong> <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1898">column</a> he has consistently reported on two aspects of the war in Iraq virtually ignored in the west: the huge numbers of Iraqi civilian casualties, meaning the deaths of innocents, and the more vigorous, explicit and accurate coverage of this in Arab press, TV and radio. </p><p> Americans were shocked by the Abu Ghraib images. But they showed what Iraqis already knew &#150; that the power which had liberated them from Saddam could act like a beast and had brought them the jungle. </p><p> Did it have to be like this? In his report from the Senate hearings, John Hulsman <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1893">suggests</a> not and claims America can redeem itself by recognising and righting a great wrong. But can this be done by Bush and Rumsfeld? </p><p> At the beginning of last year, we ran a major <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/issue-3-76.jsp target=_blank>debate</a> on &#147;Sorry! The politics of apology&#148;, exploring the new role of contrition. In the conclusion of her magnificent <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=603">opening essay</a>, Marina Warner summed up how I feel about Bush&#146;s recent use of &#147;Sorry&#148;. <blockquote> &#147;Apologising represents a bid for virtue and can even imply an excuse not to do anything more about the injustice in question. Encurled inside it may well be the earlier meaning of vindication. So it can offer hypocrites a main chance. It can also, as in the case of the priestly self-fashioning of some political leaders, make a claim on their own behalf for some sacred, legitimate authority.&#148; </blockquote> The apology of Donald Rumsfeld, US secretary of defense, has appealed less to the sacred and more to the practical. The moment he thinks his &#147;effectiveness&#148; is being undermined, he assured the Senate hearing, he would resign immediately. </p><p> But surely it was precisely the Rumsfeld effect that was being felt by those Iraqis being brutalised for later interrogation? The key moment came when Baghdad, after its first <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/themes/article-3-1839.jsp target=_blank>liberation</a>, was left to the looters. Rumsfeld himself was both catalyst and apologist. </p><p> Asked to condemn what was then still taking place in those April 2003 days, Donald Rumsfeld - speaking from the media room in the Pentagon - replied: &#147;When people have freedom they are free to do bad things.&#148; At the very start of the US occupation of Iraq, Rumsfeld redefined liberty as license. His words were a permission, not just to Iraqi thugs but also to those under his own command: Iraq was the wild west; American freedom means bad things <a href=http://edition.cnn.com/2003/US/04/11/sprj.irq.pentagon/ target=_blank>happen</a>. </p><p> They have happened. </p><p> Now &#150; <em>now</em> &#150; Rumsfeld states that they must stop, so that, in the words of his president, the United States can &#147;complete its mission&#148;. Alas, these words were evidently addressed to Bush&#146;s own supporters, rallying his voters. The phrase combined that extraordinary body language of the hurt conqueror, at once defensive, threatening and fatalistic, that <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-2-95-1400.jsp target=_blank>Tom Nairn</a> has called America's imperial nationalism. </p><p> What is needed, what the world is listening for, is language and action from Washington based on a real comprehension that the citizens of other countries are America&#146;s moral equals. It starts with the way they are treated in Abu Ghraib. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 12 May 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1901 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Who brings democracy? https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1862.jsp <p> A week after the terrorist bombings on Madrid <strong>openDemocracy</strong> hosted an intense, international discussion in London. Caspar Henderson wrote a <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1813">report</a> on it for us. At one point a commentator who is experienced in world affairs warned the meeting not to get too excited by the impact of the election outcome in Spain. </p><p> He pointed out that the new prime minister, José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, had said that Spanish troops would stay in Iraq only if they came under United Nations command. This was not the same as pulling them out. Some kind of deal with the UN was bound to happen by June 2004 and then the Spanish troops would remain. In other words things had not really changed very much and the underlying realities of world power remained. </p><p> Well, this week, as soon as he was formally confirmed in office, Zapatero announced that his troops were coming home immediately. He didn&#146;t want any damaging speculation about any agreement with the UN, he explained. The will of the Spanish people had been clearly expressed. </p><p> I was reminded of my own cynical assumption after the Turkish parliament voted in March 2003 to <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1231">refuse</a> to allow American forces to pass through their country to invade Iraq. </p><p> In strictly military terms, the Spanish deployment in Iraq was primarily symbolic. By contrast, the US war plan for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein&#146;s regime was based on a very real, two-fold invasion plan &#150; from Turkey in the north and Kuwait in the south. Any Turkish refusal was bound to have very serious consequences, and anyway the US request for passage was accompanied by a generous aid and financial offer. At the time, I assumed that the decision would be finessed and reversed, and American troops would indeed be deployed across the Anatolian border. </p><p> They were not. There was a Turkish popular will and national pride. The country&#146;s MPs were not to be drawn into America&#146;s attack on its neighbour, however great the bribe. Indeed it seems that the very presumption of Washington got up the noses of the Turks. As Murat Belge has explained, by drawing upon religious traditions, the ruling party has laid claim to a genuine conservatism which benefits the development of democracy because it is rooted in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=735">self-belief</a>. This was not going to be dictated to by Americans in pursuit of their unilateral strategy. </p><p> Even so, the Turks might not have stuck to their policy without Germany. But German voters had backed Chancellor Gerhard Schröder&#146;s decision not to send troops to Iraq. </p><p> Taken together, Spain, Turkey and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1125">Germany</a> represent a huge change &#150; the start of a new reality &#150; in world affairs. </p><p> The thinking of President Bush and prime ministers Tony Blair and José María Aznar and all their advisors was trapped in traditional terms. They believed, you can be sure, that the &#147;anti-war&#148; protests were like the movement for nuclear disarmament during the cold war, which however popular were doomed to irrelevance, without any significant purchase on power. </p><p> Instead of assessing power and its imbalances through the eye of Washington, as they did and as is traditionally done by western politicians and commentators, look at it from the other way around &#150; or from &#147;inside out&#148;, following Narcís Serra in the current edition of <strong>openDemocracy</strong>. </p><p> What we are witnessing can perhaps be called the <em>globalisation of democracy</em>. The definition of freedom and democracy, the governing, official ideas of our time, are no longer being dictated in the old centres of authority. </p><p> The more that the administration in Washington insists that it alone is delivering freedom and democracy, the less it defines the meaning of these <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1052">terms</a>. </p><p> This is clear also in India, as Todd Gitlin&#146;s <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1864">column</a> this week reminds us. <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1389">India</a> was never a military ally of America although it is so in the fight against al-Qaida. But what in the past was perhaps a narrow elite opposition to Washington based in New Delhi is now a palpable judgment shared through all classes and parties. The impulse that led to 90% opposition to the Iraq war in Christian <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1808">Spain</a> has a similar, resounding chorus in Hindu and Muslim India, the world&#146;s most populous democracy. </p><p> And now it can be found in Iraq. </p><p> At the beginning of last week Jo Wilding&#146;s <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1843">report</a> of her courageous journey to Fallujah arrived in our office. There was concern that it might seem wrongly prejudiced against America, that it was not a report from a professional journalist. But she wasn&#146;t pretending to be a reporter, she was telling it as it seemed to her as a humanitarian worker. I decided on posting it immediately to take full advantage of the web as a publishing medium. </p><p> Because in her journey from Baghdad to Falluja she witnessed what seems to be the turning point in the American occupation of Iraq, the point when, as I suggested two weeks ago, a second &#147;liberation&#148; <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=">begins</a>. Whose side are the Americans on? Their own &#150; following the interests of the oil corporations, and in pursuit of strategic control of the Middle East &#150; or are they on the side of the Iraqi people, as the bringers of democracy have to be? </p><p> Take a small but important detail. Were the soldiers on the rooftops circling Falluja really &#147;snipers&#148; as Jo calls them, or were they US marines &#147;doing their job&#148;? The point is that to the Iraqi civilians and Jo&#146;s colleagues they felt like snipers &#150; they felt like military ready to shoot them at will. Or to put it another way they did not feel like liberators bringing democracy to the people. </p><p> It is not the same throughout Iraq. In the Kurdish north of Iraq the American presence brought essential support that has made self-determination seemingly possible. In <em>Sunni</em> Falluja things may be irreversible. In <em>Shi&#146;a</em> Najaf and Baghdad the fate of the intervention is at stake. As much as possible we seek to bring Iraqi voices to <strong>openDemocracy</strong> to explain to the world how they see it and to argue out what should happen next. </p><p> It is very unlikely to be what the wise and experienced expect. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 21 Apr 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1862 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Liberation after the liberation https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1839.jsp <p> In late March 2003, as Coalition troops moved towards Baghdad and before the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein was complete, <a href=http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,920465,00.html target=_blank>Neal Ascherson</a> warned: </p><p> <blockquote> &#147;Liberation hurts. In Iraq, it comes with humiliation and fear about the future. A UN transition regime must replace the military governors as soon as possible, and must move quickly towards democracy. And the White House fanatics have to realise that a free Iraq cannot be designed to suit their ideology. It will be ungrateful. It will have policies they dislike. This is called independence. If it is denied, then the real liberation of Iraq will happen unpredictably, and bloodily, in the future.&#148; </blockquote> </p><p> A year later it seems that the &#145;real liberation&#146; has begun. </p><p> Perhaps the trigger was the local elections which showed that secular candidates would defeat religious ones in a fair and open vote. Writing on 5 April 2004 from Nasiriya, capital of the <em>Shi&#146;a</em> province of Dhi-Qar in southern Iraq, <a href=http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1185792,00.html target=_blank>Jonathan Steele</a> reported that seventeen of the province&#146;s towns had voted in municipal elections over the previous six weeks and &#147;in almost every case secular independents and representatives of non-religious parties did better than the Islamists&#148;. </p><p> Faced with the prospect of possible marginalisation as an opposition rather than governing force, were <em>Shi&#146;a</em> drawn to polarise the situation to gain advantage from an American over-reaction?</p><p> If so, have they got what they wanted? In <strong>openDemocracy.net</strong>, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1838">Firas Al-Atraqchi</a> and <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1835">Laura Sandys</a> consider the consequences as the young <em>Shi&#146;a</em> leader <a href=http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/815FF50A-4D63-43CB-A404-84DF9E6CDF70.htm target=_blank>Muqtada al-Sadr</a> not only raises the banner of militant opposition to continued American occupation, but in doing so seeks <em>Sunni</em> support in a bid for nationalist and (to that extent his form of) secular support. </p><p> United States commanders insist before the cameras that they are in control. </p><p> No mistake could be graver than to treat the political leadership of a society as a matter of &#145;control&#146; when the stated aim is democracy. Is President Bush &#145;in control&#146; of America? Of course not. Democratic rule is a matter of consent - and the outcome of consent cannot be designed or controlled. This is the glory and the menace of democracy.</p><p> How can Iraq become a democracy? How can a broken society, finally freed of a 35-year dictatorship, be assisted towards consent-based rule? It needs calm understanding, the de-escalation of violence, the establishment of law, a growing acceptance of legitimacy, friendly relations with neighbours and international <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1379">support</a>. </p><p> This is hardly a description of American policy, which our columnist <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/columns/view-2.jsp target=_blank> Paul Rogers </a> has regularly detailed as being one of foolishly playing Osama bin Laden&#146;s game &#150; and who this week examines the intense strains on a US military stretched to the limit by George W. Bush&#146;s strategic ambitions. </p><p> But what <em>should</em> be done? As American &#145;control&#146; over Iraq comes under fire, there is a sound of chortling from some who opposed the US invasion. Scorn is poured especially on those who, as Neal Ascherson spelt out, look to a swift United Nations takeover of outside security forces and a swift move to self-rule, including the right to expel US bases and condemn Israel, if that is the considered will and opinion of Iraq. </p><p> By advocating any form of international support, these soft opponents of America are presented as acting as &#145;cover&#146; for the west and imperialism. </p><p> At a time of polarisation it can be hard to hold onto judgments regarding the larger picture, the complexity of the forces at work, the realities behind the two sides of &#145;either you are with us or against us&#146;. </p><p> I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein, who longed for his overthrow. But I was obliged to march against the US invasion. However much I sympathised with Saddam&#146;s Iraqi opponents I argued in <strong>openDemocracy.net</strong> (&#147;World opinion: the new superpower?&#148;, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1052">18 March 2003</a>) that the American move on Iraq was part of an ill-conceived global strategy carried out by a leadership that cared little for the people and realities of Iraq: </p><p> &#147;This is why the popular opposition to the war will not be proved wrong, as Bush and Blair presume it will be, if the two leaders get to Baghdad with relatively little human cost to be welcomed there as liberators. For America&#146;s capacity to act without legal restraint is not in doubt, nor is its ability to avoid human casualties if it so wishes. The question the world is asking is to what larger ends will such power be used?&#148; </p><p> The danger now is that a new US administration (or, if Rupert Murdoch is to be believed, the current administration after it is re-elected) will default back to supporting another dictatorship that fits more or less snugly with the kinds of regimes America has made its allies across the Arab world. </p><p> The neo-cons have declared the need for democracy across the &#145;greater Middle East&#146;. Are they right! But the less credibility they have as the people to introduce democracy the <em>more</em>important it becomes to support it. It remains the right thing, even if they are the wrong people going about it in the wrong way. </p><p> As Iraq moves towards its own liberation and throws off America&#146;s timetable, it is important for us to extend every hand and ear to all Iraqi democrats of every creed and sect - Kurd and Arab, <em>Sunni</em> and <em>Shi&#146;a</em> - for they cannot build democracy on their own. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 07 Apr 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1839 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Voicing America https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1827.jsp <p> America looms large for all of us, and never more than when its people are deciding their own future, their own direction. Our coverage of the United States elections has, at its core, three columns, three different voices, three evolving arguments with and about America. </p><p> With this edition of <strong>openDemocracy</strong> <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1751">John Hulsman</a> joins us with a new column. His bi-weekly reports from the capital city, add to Todd Gitlin&#146;s weekly updates in &#145;Our election year&#146; and Siva Vaidhynathan&#146;s monthly reflections on America&#146;s &#145;Remote control&#146; relationship with the world. </p><p> <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/columns/view-15.jsp target=_blank>Todd Gitlin</a> analyses the election battle as he sees it &#150; from New York, or wherever he happens to be &#150; this week he files from Athens. </p><p> Every two weeks, John Hulsman of Washington&#146;s Heritage Foundation will cast his realist eye over the administration&#146;s foreign policy as it is fought out at home and overseas. </p><p> And every month <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/columns/view-16.jsp target=_blank>Siva Vaidhyanathan</a> of New York University, familiar to <strong>openDemocracy</strong> readers for his major engagements with info-anarchy and peer-to-peer networking, reports on the trends reshaping the USA. (Next week his column looks at how Karl Rove&#146;s Republican <a href=http://www.newamerica.net/index.cfm?pg=book_Rev&pubID=1090 target=_blank>makeover of Texas</a> fuelled George W. Bush&#146;s march to the presidency.) </p><p> <strong>A fair blend?</strong> </p><p> The question you might ask about this mix is: does it represent balance, impartiality, representation and fairness? </p><p> If I may be excused a political cliché, the answer is &#145;No, no, no, and no&#146; (after all they are all male voices; we know we need more women columnists). But we are not looking for stiflingly predictable coverage. If an article is unbalanced, unrepresentative and unfair but nonetheless seeks to make a point that is grounded in reality, we&#146;ll make it a lead story. </p><p> <strong>openDemocracy</strong> seeks to publish all good arguments so that readers can make up their minds for themselves. This is the point I make in the <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/thread.jspa?forumID=147&threadID=42427&messageID=48277#48277 target=_blank>forum</a> where members are currently debating whether <strong>openDemocracy</strong> is <a href="/forums/thread.jspa?forumID=147&threadID=42427&messageID=48233#48233" target=_blank>biased</a>. We seek contributors who wish to <em>engage with others</em> &#150; and are therefore willing to see their own minds changed by a good call or a new assessment from those they disagree with. </p><p> We call this openness. Its aim: to bring to a worldwide readership the classical qualities of accurate informed judgment, clear writing, accessible argument and a longer view &#150; and in the process to open minds and possibilities. </p><p> I explored what &#145;openness&#146; meant for <strong>openDemocracy</strong> writing from New York as the Iraq invasion was launched a year ago. I felt that war especially would present a test for us to publish different arguments at their strongest while refusing space to apologists for terror or deniers of atrocity, or the know-all cynics. </p><p> Now an election of worldwide importance provides another test for <strong>openDemocracy</strong>: to educate ourselves in the nature of democratic engagement &#150; particularly in a media-saturated environment (Todd Gitlin dissects one example in his column going up alongside this note). </p><p> So we hope in principle that a Bush-backing Republican (Karl Rove, indeed) will want to turn to Gitlin knowing that he or she will come away wiser about how the election argument is evolving; we want a leftist, non-western, anti-imperialist reader to click impatiently on Hulsman to understand how Washington thinks. In both cases intelligent readers will enjoy learning and being taken by surprise. </p><p> Our aim in publishing these writers is to create an atmosphere where well-argued partiality &#150; not neutrality &#150; flourishes. </p><p> The twist is in what we mean by &#145;well-argued&#146;. I&#146;ll put in the negative. There is too much of the clever Parliamentary style, British tradition of denigrating opponents while evading the important issues. This form has now migrated to the media, in which &#145;winning&#146; meant not having the better case but being better at destroying who one is against (this is the sickness at the heart of political communication analysed for us by <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1709">David Marquand</a> in relation to Britian&#146;s Hutton inquiry). It starts with belittlement and ends with full-blown character assassination. </p><p> We will see a lot of this in the American election, from all sides. This style implies that it values authenticity and integrity in public figures as the bearers of consistency. But it is, instead, driven by cynicism and prejudice whose objective is to stop people from thinking for themselves &#150; especially, perhaps, one&#146;s own supporters. </p><p> One consequence is that Americans become increasingly drawn not just into their own election, but into the entrails of its dirty-tricks, with the rest of the world assigned to irrelevance. </p><p> Our larger aim in 2004 is to try and counter this by bringing the rest of the world into an engagement with Americans. We will build on these three columns by publishing voices from outside the USA on what its policies entail for citizens outside its borders and therefore also, eventually, for those within. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 31 Mar 2004 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1827 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Living through terrorism https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1786.jsp <p> Can one &#145;make sense&#146; of something as apparently senseless and inhuman as the terrorist attacks in Madrid? </p><p> The first step is to share the experience and our responses to it, to embrace those in shock, to tell them they are not alone. Then, also, to talk and argue about how anything like this can be prevented in future. <div><div class="pull_quote_article">In advance of Sunday&#146;s general election Richard Torné assesses the underlying nature of Spanish politics in <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1785">&#147;Spain&#146;s 3/11: democracy after atrocity&#148;</a></div><p> In Europe, one reaction is to measure it against other European outrages. The most terrible since the Lockerbie bombing? But that was an intercontinental flight. Even worse than the Sveta Nedelya cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1925 which killed 123? But if we are talking the Balkans, should not the comparison be with Srebrenica, when 7,000 were massacred &#150; not a terrorist outrage but a modern one linked to the bloody transformation of nations? </p><p> For me, it is important to see Madrid as part of the deliberate massacre of innocents, a necklace of outrages that threatens the birth of our new century and includes: New York (11 September 2001), Bali (12 October 2002), Moscow (23 October 2002), Mombasa (28 November 2002), Tel Aviv (5 January 2003), Mumbai (25 August 2003), Istanbul (15 and 20 November 2003), and Quetta, Baghdad and Karbala (2 March 2004). </p><p> Madrid is not only an attack against Spaniards, whether by crazed Basque militants or al-Qaida fundamentalists. It is also an indiscriminate assault which, without regard for home, religion or nationality, will ruin families and wound lovers long after the blood and damage has been cleared. </p><p> In a response we titled, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=213">&#145;Is this our fate?&#146;</a> which he wrote overnight after witnessing the attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center, Todd Gitlin concluded: <blockquote> &#147;&#145;Terrorism&#146; is a more precise word than sometimes grasped. It&#146;s an <em>ism</em>, a belief &#150; in terror. Some fierce rationalists refuse to confront the fact that there are people willing to die to terrify whole populations. That willingness, even eagerness, brooks no arguments. As best I understand this mentality, it&#146;s a belief that kicks in on the far other side of arguments. It asks for a focused military response &#150; a precise one, not a revenge spasm, not an attack on a pharmaceutical factory, but an action that distinguishes killers from civilians. No easy matter. Nothing to rush into. <p> And then? </p><p> Tonight, grief abides.&#148; </p></blockquote> What was then an appalling exception has become an intolerable part of our lives. We need to share our response to the atrocities of Madrid with those in and from the city, then weave into this an understanding - cool, patient, utterly determined - that places them within the larger pattern of terrorism, and works out how it can best be defeated. </p><p> <em><strong>What do you think? Post your responses in our global <a href="/forums/thread.jspa?forumID=136&threadID=42383&tstart=0">forum</a> on the bombings in Madrid and the growing number of terror attacks around the world.</strong></em> </p><p> </p></div></p> Conflict conflicts democracy & power europe after madrid: war, prevention, dialogue? editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Fri, 12 Mar 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1786 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Tony Blair and Katharine Gun: the hollow centre https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1761.jsp <p> On 23 February, I received an email from Eli Pariser at <a href=http://www.moveon.org/ target=_blank>www.MoveOn.org</a> called &#147;Help Katharine Gun&#148;. It asked me to write to Tony Blair and demand that he stop the legal action against this &#147;whistleblower&#148;, a translator at Britain&#146;s electronic intelligence agency GCHQ who in early 2003 had publicised an American email request to spy on UN Security Council diplomats pivotal to US / UK pressure to win support for war in Iraq. </p><p> Two days later she was free. American supporters of MoveOn.org may be puzzled at how quickly the British authorities obliged! </p><p> This is a very interesting and important moment which allows us to think about the intersections and contrasts between United States and British public life. The two states combined to invade Iraq and their intelligence forces collaborated with each other. There was great public opposition in both countries which reached far into their political elites. </p><p> But I have just been in New York and experienced a taste of the big changes being fought out across America. Britain has a different feel. Here there is a sense that people no longer know what kind of country it is, to an extent that there is not really a fight over what direction it should take. Such a fight demands as its starting-point a linked belief in self, country, and the larger world. In Britain, all the links in the chain seem to be missing. </p><p> During the cold war, the British were able to hold onto a belief in a world role through the American alliance against Moscow. Now, this surrogate for Empire attitudes has evaporated. The point has been made often. It remains true, and works itself out again and again. Britain is <i>Groundhog Day</i> made real. </p><p> Not least in people and personalities. Katharine Gun, I feel, represents in a pure form both the strength of personal character and disbelief in any national institutions or traditions that Tony Blair personifies politically. </p><p> Blair is famous for his moral absolutism. He laid aside all arguments about legality, democracy, accuracy, or even inquiry about the real nature of Saddam&#146;s weaponry. He bullied or arm-twisted institutions &#150; his party, his parliament and the United Nations &#150; into agreement. It was morally necessary to pre-empt. He <i>knew</i> he was right. </p><p> Gun&#146;s explanation for what she did is similar. She saw evidence of wrongful action in pursuit of a wrong cause. She had to release this so that <i>she</i>, if she could, would help pre-emptively to <i>prevent</i> Britain and America&#146;s war. </p><p> That&#146;s pre-emption for you. It demands a wager, and how you take a risk is often a matter of character. </p><p> Gun is 29 years old. She was working at GCHQ&#146;s headquarters in Cheltenham, about 150 miles west of London. Her role was to translate intercepts from Mandarin Chinese which she knew fluently after an upbringing in Taiwan where her British parents worked. On 31 January 2003, she saw an email from Frank Koza, a US National Security Agency official, spelling out the help needed to bug delegates to the UN from the &#147;swing countries&#148; &#150; like Chile, Pakistan, Angola, and Guinea &#150; on the Security Council. </p><p> This was a pretty routine operation, in the self-defined &#145;national interest&#146; of the two allies. Clare Short, Britain&#146;s minister for overseas development who resigned from Blair&#146;s cabinet after the war, declared on BBC radio on the morning of 26 February that &#147;everyone&#148; reads the transcripts of private United Nations conversations - and that she had seen those of the UN&#146;s secretary-general Kofi Annan himself, acquired from bugging operations by British security services. </p><p> To call this &#147;routine&#148; is not to support it. I would especially not say that diplomats&#146; homes should be bugged so that their votes can be levered out of them for personal reasons. I am simply expressing a lack of surprise. </p><p> But Gun was shocked. The telegram she saw from the US called for illegal action that could pressure delegates who are not enemies, to vote for, and perhaps give international legitimacy to, a war that Gun opposed. She leaked the incriminating telegram. </p><p> At a press conference on 25 February, after the UK government had decided not to continue with the legal action against Gun, she was asked whether others should do the same in her position. She answered: &#147;I know it is very difficult and people don&#146;t want to jeopardise their careers or their lives, but if there are things out there that should really come out, hey, why not?&#148; </p><p> This presents an entirely individual weighing of the options, without any care taken either to identify with or to refuse the patriotism of nation and national interest. In Katharine Gun, Tony Blair has indeed met his match. </p><p> I opposed the war. I did so less for reasons of simple principle as Gun did &#150; as I shared the longing of Iraqis to see the end of Saddam &#150; but for reasons of strategy. I could not support US policy even though in other circumstances I&#146;d have gladly backed the use of force to free the Iraqi people. </p><p> But I would not expect anyone who shared this political analysis to work for GCHQ. The extraordinary thing, it seems to me, is that the British intelligence establishment was unable to explain British interests to their new recruit and to define how her loyalty to these interests might be secured. </p><p> The centre is hollow. </p><p> It is not easy to explain what this emptiness feels like to those who are not British. But by coincidence, the day after all charges against Katharine Gun were dropped on the grounds that there was not sufficient evidence to secure a conviction (for something she agreed she did!) the UK&#146;s first &#147;citizenship ceremonies&#148; were performed. </p><p> Hitherto, foreigners who were granted citizenship got the necessary documents through the post. Now, in order that we should all be proud of who we are, a ceremony will be performed. It has two parts. </p><p> First, the new citizens swear that &#147;&#133;on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law&#148;. </p><p> Second, having thus embraced feudalism, they pledge (but do not swear) that &#147;I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.&#148; </p><p> Or, to be more accurate, a British <i>subject</i>. </p><p> Once upon a time (as they say in fairy stories and feudal times), subjecthood drew forth intense and unquestioning obedience to authority and loyalty to Crown, country and flag. Now it lacks almost any purchase on the soul and spirit of the new generation and therefore brings forth people like Katharine Gun. </p><p> When someone swears allegiance to a constitution or basic law, the values they pledge to, especially if written in clear prose, compel respect. </p><p> How can anyone expect young people to &#145;be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty&#146;? This is not the language of modernity, citizenship and democracy. It cannot sustain public belief however intense the regret of private nostalgia. </p><p> Should this concern us? Well, yes. For a larger lethargy also ensues. When &#147;Americans concerned about Katharine Gun&#148; ask, &#147;Should this woman go to prison for the &#145;crime&#146; of telling the truth?&#148; and sign a statement saying &#147;no&#148;, I suspect that they are projecting onto her the spirit of heroic citizenship which would have motivated anyone who acted similarly in America. The leading signatories included Daniel Ellsberg (publicist of the <i>Pentagon Papers</i> exposing the real history of the US&#146;s Vietnam war) , Barbara Ehrenreich, Linda Foley, Jesse Jackson, Ron Kovic, Sean Penn, Bonnie Raitt, Martin Sheen, and Gloria Steinem. </p><p> As striking as this gallery of figures was the lack of a similar movement in Britain. The <i>Observer</i>, a newspaper which is part of the <i>Guardian</i> group, benefited from getting the leak and scooping the story, gave little coverage either to Gun&#146;s plight or to the legal campaigning group Liberty which was supporting her. <b>openDemocracy.net</b> did not cover the story. In short, a kind of lethargy, fatalism, even shame, has overhung this extraordinary affair. </p><p> It will get worse. The same minister, David Blunkett, who is the impresario of the citizenship ceremonies, is in charge of domestic security. To save the country from the threat of terrorism, he announced last week that he would recruit another 1,000 agents to MI5, the domestic security service. </p><p> Another 1,000 Guns, another number of embarrassing mistakes waiting to happen. Everything we know about intelligence suggests that it needs <i>intelligence</i>: focus, quality, the exercise of good judgment, depth of understanding and integrity. </p><p> Instead we are offered large numbers of inadequately trained swearers of true allegiance put to work to defend and protect adventures of doubtful legality that divide public opinion. They will make a further mess of things. </p><p> To put it another way, Britain is running on empty and its leaders are responding by trying to accelerate. Blair insists on an even more special, personal relationship between Washington and London. As loyalty to a broken system declines, the Home Secretary concocts a modern version of vassalage. As the security service proves itself unable to teach a translator basic rules, a thousand new agents are to be conjured from a sceptical public. </p><p> In these impoverished circumstances, the plain integrity and youthful courage of Katharine Gun shines out. The embrace of her by MoveOn.org is welcome. Her American supporters may have been naïve to see in her the sturdy patriotism of a citizen true to her native values. But what they wanted to see is what the British too should have wished for. </p><p> </p><p> [A footnote, 27 February 2004: Clare Short&#146;s revelation that she had seen transcripts of Kofi Annan&#146;s phone conversations was expanded in the evening of 26 February in an interview on <i>Newsnight</i>, the BBC&#146;s premier news analysis programme. </p><p> She told Jeremy Paxman that she had been meaning to inform &#147;Kofi&#148; but - she added with an ironic smile - she had not had the chance to see him recently (Short resigned from the British government on 12 May 2003). She had deliberately decided to reveal the bugging because she wanted it stopped. She shrugged off the fact that she had breached the Official Secrets Act and insisted that she was confident her revelation in no way threatened or diminished Britain&#146;s national security. </p><p> The grinding of teeth by what is left of Britain&#146;s political elite was almost audible. At his monthly press conference earlier in the day, the prime minister was white with the effort of self-control. I was struck by another twist to the unravelling of national self-belief. </p><p> If Clare Short had seen transcripts of conversations with President Jacques Chirac of France or Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany - or, indeed, President George Bush - would she have said so? Would she have then told a TV interviewer that she had been waiting for the chance to see Jacques or George to tell him personally? I think not. </p><p> &#147;Kofi&#148; is, for her, more than an ally in the traditional diplomatic sense (which also means a competitor). He is a colleague. Another layer of loyalty to a global institution is presumed in Short&#146;s spilling of the beans. Remember, she is a politician. She feels that her government&#146;s sway over her loyalty has weakened not just for herself but also for her public and, it seems, she also senses that a new loyalty is gathering strength to the UN and world government. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 26 Feb 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1761 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'Who is this Lord Hutton?' https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1716.jsp <p> &#147;Who is this Lord Hutton?&#148; Two days in New York and it is increasingly difficult to bring myself to answer without feeling sick. Say there are reasons for criticising the BBC here and the answer comes back, &#147;Just try living with the <i>American</i> media!&#148; The British Broadcasting Corporation&#146;s willingness to challenge the British government is seen as wholly welcome. </p><p> Appointing a judge to oversee a non-judicial <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3437315.stm target=_blank>inquiry</a> is regarded as weird here. It is not that the United States of America is unused to political fixes. But they are enjoyed for being what they are. This makes them easier to explain. In the United Kingdom, I begin to try to say, a politics of evasion and displacement, driven by an increasingly desperate nostalgia and persistent illusions of grandeur, produces outcomes which seem ever more fixated on declaring the system&#146;s nether regions to be completely clean. </p><p> Every time it happens, it is said, this will be the last time. I&#146;ve said it myself. Nothing so blatant can be repeated. They can&#146;t expect to get away with it a second time, never again, etc. Only now, the acceleration of modern life means the next time has started before this time has even had the chance to become&#133; <a href=http://www.charter88.org.uk/pubs/other/thistime.html target=_blank>last time</a>. </p><p> I am referring to the establishment of <i>another</i> inquiry into whether the intelligence reports given to the British government were flawed. It will be headed by <a href=http://news.findlaw.com/international/s/20040203/britaindc.html target=_blank>Lord Butler</a>. </p><p> Who is this Lord Butler? And should readers around the world be interested? Definitely. A sense of disbelief amongst we British is undoubtedly honourable. But it needs to be accompanied by an appreciation of how the story of Blair&#146;s Britain resonates far beyond the country&#146;s shores. Without it Bush would not have had his key ally over Iraq, for a start. </p><p> On 24 September 2002 Blair told the <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3054991.stm target=_blank>House of Commons</a> that the intelligence service had concluded that Iraq not only had chemical and biological weapons but that &#147;it continued to produce them&#148;. <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1529">Ron Manley</a> oversaw the destruction of Iraq&#146;s chemical weapons, and indeed recruited the weapons scientist David Kelly &#150; whose death precipitated Lord Hutton&#146;s inquiry - to work in Iraq. Manley has stated that no one who knew the country and the technology thought Saddam was manufacturing chemical weapons in the run-up to <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1529">war</a>. Blair and Manley can&#146;t <i>both</i> be right. </p><p> So will the new <a href=http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=487556 target=_blank>inquiry</a> damage the Blair government? Hardly likely. If it finds that the intelligence services were responsible for passing on faulty information (many in the UK believe that the intelligence community is being set up as the next fall-guy) then the government is in the clear. But even if it finds that it was the government which in fact took the lead in shaping the intelligence reports, this won&#146;t matter. </p><p> Why? Because the man in charge, Lord Butler, is a former cabinet secretary (the country&#146;s senior civil servant) to successive governments, including Blair&#146;s. As Robin Butler &#150; it is a revealing aspect of our evasive and displaced politics that public figures elevated to the House of Lords &#147;exchange&#148; their real names for titles &#150; he was asked a question about how Britain&#146;s historic constitutional settlement responds to unexpected circumstances. </p><p> His <a href=http://www.kingston.ac.uk/cusp/Lectures/Hennessy.htm target=_blank>reply</a>? &#147;We can always go to the cupboards&#148; &#150; in effect, &#147;We make it up as we go along&#148;. It will not surprise him in the slightest that the government made it up. Indeed, for him and his fellow Lords, &#147;making it up&#148;, &#147;keeping the show on the road&#148;, is what government is about. </p><p> </p> democracy & power europe The Americas editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 05 Feb 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1716 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The Campbell Code https://www.opendemocracy.net/media/article_1704.jsp The Hutton report on the death of a British scientist blames the BBC and clears Tony Blair, but misses the larger truth of the Iraq weapons affair: the British government&#146;s system of command and control. <p> The conclusion of the <a href=http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/ target=_blank>Hutton Inquiry</a> into the death of the British weapons inspector David Kelly has coincided with the call by David Kay for a <a href= http://edition.cnn.com/2004/US/01/28/kay.transcript target=_blank>&#147;fundamental fault analysis&#148;</a> into the intelligence used to justify the coalition&#146;s war on Saddam Hussein. Kay has just resigned from leading the United States-led Iraq <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Survey_Group target=_blank>Survey Group</a> weapons inspection team in Iraq. He was testifying before the US Senate. </p><p> The <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1354">issues</a> in play are significant: truth (and lies), government judgment (and its spin), media investigation (and the lack of it), the choice of war and the character of democratic government. </p><p> In some countries, leaders put a vice on everything. In Italy, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi owns and controls most of the television media and has obliged satire to be broadcast without <a href=http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/s1030991.htm target=_blank>sound</a>. In Russia, President Putin appears confident in his use of even more direct methods to ensure he enjoys good coverage. </p><p> In Britain, however, the media enjoys a genuine autonomy. It is free in at least two ways. First, the way of Rupert Murdoch. Newspapers &#150; and not just the tabloids &#150; feel free to propagate their own attitudes, irrespective of fact or argument, as they chase circulation through sensationalism. A <i>Daily Express</i> <a href=http://media.guardian.co.uk/presspublishing/story/0,7495,990930,00.html target=_blank>editorial memo</a> which called on its journalists to find regular sex stories involving (among others) politicians, because these were its news values, revealed the beast at its worst. A corrosive journalism regards its role as to expose. To report an official success or a complex policy is &#145;boring&#146;; it presumes that it is the honest &#145;voice of the people&#146; and all else stinks. It is an attitude that disables public culture and democracy. </p><p> The BBC represents the second kind of freedom. As a public service broadcaster it stakes out an independence of party that is nonetheless semi-official. Its words carry special weight, not just of authority but also of a different, more responsible culture that claims to be, if not truthful, then balanced. </p><p> The Hutton report launches a devastating attack on the internal administration of this culture by the BBC. Arguably, the BBC was finally being run by people who had a commitment to democracy rather than elitism. But when this commitment was fused with its old establishment complacency, the BBC become unable to distinguish between probing for the truth behind government policy and the slack populism of the UK&#146;s new journalism. <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1700">David Elstein</a> assesses the results. </p><p> But the defining clash which led to the Hutton Inquiry was between the BBC and the prime minister&#146;s then head of communications, Alastair Campbell. Campbell&#146;s exceptional influence - when a press officer becomes more important than a Cabinet minister &#150; was first identified by Peter Oborne in a pioneering <a href=http://images.amazon.com/images/P/1854106473.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg target=_blank>biography</a>. </p><p> The relationship between media power and government power in contemporary representative democracies will become more important. From migration to deterrence, the doctrine of &#145;pre-emption&#146; means that the way governments access risk, take decisions and present their case is becoming ever more important. </p><p> In this case, Hutton&#146;s report finds that the September 2002 <a href=http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page271.asp target=_blank> dossier</a> on which the British government built its case for war was neither knowingly &#145;sexed-up&#146; nor improperly presented. </p><p> It is hard to imagine a more ridiculous judgment. The entire presentation of the dossier&#146;s case for war was a catalogue of distortion. </p><p> But, and here was the catch that brought down the BBC, it was distortion built on truth. To understand how this was possible one needs to grasp the nature of what can be termed <i>The Campbell Code</i>. </p><p> This is by no means a manifesto for stupidity or lying. Rather, it is a strategy for preserving and renewing traditional rule from above in the era of a vermin press. </p><p> The Campbell Code has three elements. </p><p> First, &#145;presentation&#146; is, and must be understood as, an integral part of policy. Once, governments decided policy much as, say, a piece of machinery was built. Lower orders put out press releases and &#145;marketed&#146; the device. The key was whether and how it actually worked. </p><p> Today, new policy is more like, say, a new form of software. Its presentation is part of what it feels like, how it looks, and how people relate to it, all of which is integral to whether or not it works. Campbell rightly recognises this. If, furthermore, the aim of a policy is to win wider support for a government, then presentation is even more significant. </p><p> This is the fundamental starting-point of the Campbell Code: presentation is not spin, it is substance. </p><p> But, second, this presentation-as-substance will be attacked by the vermin of media who live off exposing its failure. The vermin have to be constantly controlled, policed, brutalised and counteracted. Presentation may be substance but it is also media war. </p><p> Third, a warrior code is needed to win this war. This code is &#147;truth&#148;. The warrior press-officer can never beat the vermin if he or she allows their presentation to include a lie. Whenever a policy-maker is caught out with a lie, or partial lie, they must also do contrition immediately and apologise or they will lose. Above all, they will <i.always</i> be defeated by the vermin if they try to mount a cover-up. <p> But BBC correspondent Andrew Gilligan accused Campbell of deliberately lying. The dossier appeared to suggest something that was absurd, namely that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which he could deploy in 45 minutes to threaten Britain. Surely no one believed that! It must, then, have been a deliberate attempt to mislead. </p><p> To be accused of lying struck at the heart of Campbell&#146;s code. It hit his self-esteem. It lowered him to the status of&#133; a journalist. He blew his top. </p><p> In a moment, the larger picture. But imagine the small one. The government needs to show that Saddam Hussein is a danger. As the dossier is being drafted, a report comes in that Hussein might have battlefield WMD he could use in less than an hour if attacked. Doesn&#146;t this mean that the government can present its case by saying that Iraq has WMD which will be used in 45 minutes? If the head of the JIC &#150; Britain&#146;s Joint Intelligence Committee &#150; agrees, is this not then true? </p><p> Thus were the British people informed that the dictator had WMD at the ready. Incredible! How could any grown man or woman believe it? But Campbell and Blair did believe it. They wanted to. They needed to. The code told them they had to. <i>And they did</i>. It never occurred to them that it was false, they never sought any assessment of it to <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1351">ensure</a> it wasn&#146;t. </p><p> The fact they were &#147;telling the truth&#148; reveals an important development in the relationship of veracity and power. </p><p> What is &#147;truth&#148; according the Campbell Code? For most of us to seek the truth is a risk. It is something we try to discover. The truth is likely to be painful, to raise issues, to blur certainty: it is the foot soldier of the awkward squad. </p><p> In the Campbell Code truth is quite different. It is a weapon without a soul or spirit of its own. It is a device to be used, focused, confined and disciplined, in order to deliver certainty and support. Campbell insists that the presentation of policy must not lie, but when offered a <a href=http://www.cfoi.org.uk/ target=_blank>Freedom of Information Act</a> that could hold government to account, he bins it. In case it exposes the larger, undisciplined truths. </p><p> With respect to the dossier the larger truth is that the BBC was plugged into reality. </p><p> The dossier told a story. It provided a narrative. This went: Saddam Hussein made weapons of mass destruction and used them before 1990. He is a bad man and could do it again. We have asked our intelligence services to assess the risk. They say the risk is high, very high - indeed so imminent that we can wait no longer to save our country from danger. Therefore we must go to war. </p><p> The narrative was one of cause and effect, of danger and response to danger. Blair emphasised this to parliament, if Saddam withdrew the threat there would be no invasion. </p><p> But we know that the narrative went the other way. President Bush decided on war in Washington D.C. Blair decided Britain would support him. Both then decided how they should best present this decision. They agreed to go down the WMD route, as Paul Wolfowitz explained in his <a href= http://www.fahayek.org/index.php?article=119 target=_blank>interview</a> in <i>Vanity Fair</i>. </p><p> The whole dossier was more than an untruth it was a fiction built on&#133; genuinely believed assertions. </p><p> In his <a href= http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/01/28/kay.transcript/ target=_blank>evidence</a> to the Senate, David Kay says that it was intelligence that was at fault in providing these assertions, it was not political interference or pressure that extracted them. To try and prove his point he says that German and French intelligence agreed that Saddam Hussein might have WMD. </p><p> It is amusing that these two countries should be appealed to for veracity. For their intelligence services evidently advised their governments to reject the conclusions of immediate danger the US and UK tried to draw from the evidence. The good sense of old Europe was in part based upon sound judgment &#150; at least in this case. It is most unlikely that the top German or French officials would have approved the September 2002 dossier as their British colleagues did. </p><p> What code then should journalists adopt in the face of the Campbell Code? (Assuming, that is, that they are <i>not</i> vermin and do seek to educate and inform as well as entertain.) How can the media escape being reduced to a patsy of power? The answer demands care, thoughtfulness, doggedness, rather than cynicism as the cheap route to knowing better. It does also involve assuming that government ministers can tell the truth. </p><p> In the style and spirit of <b>openDemocracy.net</b> we are debating all these issues both inside and outside our editorial team. Another point of view is provided by <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article-8-92-1699.jsp target=_blank>Douglas Murray</a>. But on one point at least, I think he and I agree. It is possible for government policy to be right. </p><p> It is a savage irony that Hutton&#146;s absurd over-endorsement of the British government&#146;s mendacious dossier on Iraq&#146;s WMD itself misappropriates this fundamental fact and undermines public appreciation of it. In this sense, the Hutton report is a disgrace to democracy. </p><p> </p></i.always</i></p> media & the net journalism & war editor's note democracy & power Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 29 Jan 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1704 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Whose American election? https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1692.jsp <p> 2004 is a vital year for everyone interested in the future of democracy. </p><p> At its heart is the United States: its election and its relation to the rest of the world. </p><p> In November 2000, George W. Bush became US president with 540,000 fewer votes than his rival Al Gore. He won a majority of the &#145;electoral college&#146; only after an especially contentious outcome in Florida &#150; with <a href=http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2000/ target=_blank>charges</a> that its electoral register was rigged, its recount intimidated and the Supreme Court decision about it politically prejudiced. </p><p> One thing leaps out immediately from this curt summary: to understand how America appoints the most powerful man in the world calls for a grasp of the bizarre, the arcane and the arbitrary. </p><p> Todd Gitlin&#146;s new <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1689">column</a> has taken on the challenge of trying to explain all this and to decipher the political forces that will decide if George W. Bush is re-elected in November 2004. <b>openDemocracy.net</b> has asked him to express his patriotism and not to hold back on his passion for his country, while speaking to readers of every nationality. </p><p> These readers include many Americans. A number may share the judgment that more is at stake in their country&#146;s election than solely national well-being and security. In the age of the single &#145;superpower&#146;, America&#146;s president is a ruler who matters to people in every corner of planet earth. </p><p> Hence the title of Todd&#146;s column: &#147;Our election year&#148;. This is America&#146;s election, but also the world&#146;s. The &#147;we&#148; behind the &#147;our&#148; is both &#147;we the American people&#148; and &#147;we the peoples of the world&#148;. </p><p> In other words, this is an argument about global democracy. </p><p> The issues raised by this election year may start from the strange mechanisms of the US election, but they reach much further &#150; from the universalism of human rights, to the globalisation of markets, communication, culture and military power. </p><p> Throughout 2004, and into 2005, <b>openDemocracy.net</b> will track the US election in a global context, drawing on the growing, international spread of our readers and contributors. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 22 Jan 2004 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1692 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Inside Saddam's Mouth https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1652.jsp <p>What does the stunning image of Saddam’s now empty mouth after his capture reveal of the nature of his regime and its fate?</p><p> ‘We have got him!’, proclaimed Paul Bremer, the American proconsul in Iraq. </p><p> But what have they got? </p><p> Personally, I had half-expected Saddam Hussein to be found and probably killed in a remote farm. For those of us who recall the 1960s, the vile conditions of the rat-hole he hid in were familiar from the Vietnam war (although the National Liberation Front was always diligent enough to build tunnels with escape routes). </p><p> But nothing prepared me for the medical inspection repeated on TV clips around the world. As the US army physician took the DNA swab he shone his medical torch into the dictator’s throat. The tyrant cooperated by opening wide. It was a moment shared by millions and surely never to be forgotten: we could see deep inside Saddam’s mouth. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500164/Saddam&#039;s mouth_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/500164/Saddam&#039;s mouth_0.png" alt="" title="" width="400" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>The</em> mouth – which had spat out lives like so many fruit pips, sentenced so many to pitiless cruelty, condemned the innocent and betrayed the loyal. The mouth of death was open before us for inspection. </p><p> It was from this throat that the orders came: which were to kill nearly 200,000 Kurds in 1988, that annihilated perhaps 50,000 <em>Sh’ia</em> in 1991, that started the war with Iran, that initiated the invasion of Kuwait, that instructed henchmen in the arts of torture… </p><p> Here it was, opened wide for the camera. </p><p> I was delighted. It didn’t feel to me like the improper humiliation of a prisoner of war. I felt absolutely no pity. Saddam Hussein is quite beyond any regular calculation of innocence. I revelled in his reduction to ordinariness and the stripping away of illusions and myths. </p><p> What did it tell us, Saddam’s mouth? </p><p> It was empty. </p><p> This was shocking. There was nothing there, no sign of decay, no mark of exception. </p><p> Suddenly it struck me that this was the truth of Saddam Hussein. There was nothing there. There are no weapons of mass destruction that this mouth can tell us about. There is no relationship with Osama bin Laden which only it can speak of. It is not the mouth of the Iraqi nation. It is an empty void. </p><p> For thirty-five years he has been able to claim the leadership of Iraq, monopolising its television, filling its streets with his likeness, proclaiming his fatherhood of the nation. But this was no nationalist with any love of country. </p><p> The man is an idiot. He emerges from a hole in the ground and says: I am the President and I am willing to negotiate. </p><p> Apparently offered the chance to expand his grip on the northern waters of the Gulf in 1990, he instead invades and occupies the whole of Kuwait. </p><p> Given the time to withdraw, he stays. </p><p> Ordered by the UN to destroy his weapons of mass destruction, he does so but pretends he has not. </p><p> Challenged to prove compliance he prefers games when everybody can see that this is catastrophically stupid. </p><p> We think of political evil as involving skill and intelligence: the seduction of Satan, the calculations of a Machiavelli, the deceptions of a Milosevic. In some way we might even be drawn to the allure of such company, to the glamour of wickedness with its precision and audacity. </p><p> But does not such evil need two things: an understanding of the real world which it seeks to dominate, and some comprehension of the good it seeks to undermine and corrupt? In Christian mythology the Devil was cast out of heaven, but he knew heaven; the Koran’s call to eliminate evil is joined in the same verse by the injunction to promote good. </p><p> Brutal stupidity and utter indifference are appalling, but are they evil? When Saddam Hussein was confronted by four Iraqis from the Governing Council, he was asked how he would answer for his crimes and what he would say to God. He swore with contempt. </p><p> There was no remorse, simply an empty brutality. </p><p> How is it possible that a thug could hold the world stage? </p><p> We can blame oil and the huge wealth it puts into the hands of mafia-type figures with appalling taste who squander its surplus on vulgar palaces. </p><p> We can blame international support, especially American, for allowing Saddam to get so far (as Yahia Said implies in his brief meditation in this edition of <strong>openDemocracy.net</strong>). </p><p> We can reflect on the recruitment methods a Hussein uses to get his way. You ask a potential member of your inner circle if he would like to shoot someone for no reason. If he is as senseless and craven as you, he does so. He is thereby sucked into your operation. If he doesn’t and shows evidence of integrity or independent thinking, you shoot him instead. That way you build up a loyal team around you. </p><p> Iraqis now face the problem of how to build a political system which will prevent any repeat performance. It will need to personify a different, humane national spirit. Globolog reports on how another Iraqi contributor to <strong>openDemocracy.net</strong>, Yasser Alaskary, is working on the principles for just such a new constitution. </p><p> But the whole world, not just Iraqis, is entitled to take a view on what should happen now to the empty mouth. </p><p> President Bush wants him dead. </p><p> The death penalty is wrong in principle. </p><p> There are exceptions to all principles. In this case however, what is exceptional is the need to keep Hussein alive. </p><p> He killed everyone he could who showed a spark of life or integrity. If they were innocent they died. If they resisted, they were tortured. When in a cabinet meeting a minister made the modest suggestion that at some point the President might step down, the President asked him into the next room, shot him, and then went back to continue the meeting. </p><p> To argue, as George Bush did, that because Saddam killed so many he too deserves to die, is to elevate him to the status of those he condemned. </p><p> But he has none of their value. </p><p> Saddam Hussein does not deserve anything that might hint of martyrdom. </p><p> To kill him is to suggest that there is a spark of a life-force however modest that remains a threat and needs to be eradicated, residing in his breast. </p><p> There isn’t. It is empty. </p><p> He should be kept in the empty cell which is all he deserves. </p><p> Even empty symbols matter. How the Iraqi is held, charged, tried and sentenced will speak of the world the American government says it now seeks to build in its image. </p><p>&nbsp;</p> editor's note democracy & power Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 18 Dec 2003 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1652 at https://www.opendemocracy.net An emerging world politics https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1633.jsp <p> Who rules the world and how? </p><p> It is not a modest question. Views about the different answers have preoccupied many a contributor to <b>openDemocracy.net</b>. </p><p> Does transnational capitalism and the world market dominate globalisation, or does America? Should we look to a networked world, beyond traditional institutions, to provide the framework for greater equality and fairness, or to the United Nations? </p><p> To take just two contrasting answers, published by us this year: <ul> <li>From the Globalisation Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=879">Tom Nairn</a> in &#145;America versus Globalisation&#146; has argued that nations and nationalism remain crucial in determining world politics and are the proper forum for democracy <p> <li>From Oxford, England, George Monbiot has called for a directly elected global government to by-pass what he sees as the sclerotic, reactionary nation-state institutions such as the World Trade Organisation and the UN (<a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1462">see</a> his debate with Todd Gitlin and his contribution in our Cancún <a href="/forums/thread.jspa?forumID=141&threadID=41701&start=0&tstart=0">forum</a>). </li></p></li></ul> In this edition of <b>openDemocracy.net</b> the argument moves to a new level in our major interview with <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1627">Mary Robinson</a>. </p><p> Her approach is not theoretical. An activist who also knows the ropes, having been both president of Ireland and a UN commissioner, she also retains a direct and unpompous interest in immediate human issues. Now she has established a new organisation, the <a href=http://www.eginitiative.org/ target=_blank>Ethical Globalisation Initiative</a>, which seeks to put her experience into practice. </p><p> In effect, her answer if not to my opening question then to how the world ought to be ruled, is that there are three broad levels to politics: citizens, nation-states, and international alliances and agreements. Globalisation has neither dissolved the importance of any one level nor made another dominant. Instead, it is profoundly altering the relationships between all three. The importance of national governments in determining what happens remains, but the traditional framework &#150; in which they once exercised unique sovereignty over their own internal affairs &#150; is being transformed. </p><p> Mary Robinson argues that the global covenants on human rights which she discusses in our interview, establish principles for how nation-states should govern themselves internally. This creates new opportunities for citizens to hold their governments to account, legitimated by global norms. </p><p> A virtuous rather than vicious circle of democratic influence becomes possible in which national governments can and, she argues, <i>must</i> be held to account. They should be obliged to deliver on fundamental rights by citizens organising both within their national body politic and through international cooperation and exchange. This will then reinforce the development of best practices and the further enhancement of basic rights. </p><p> If this happens, globalisation will empower and expand local forms of politics, as governments find they have to account &#145;downwards&#146; for their behaviour with respect to priorities and norms established at a world level. </p><p> This process increases rather than diminishes the obligations and role of national states while citizens&#146; power over governments becomes more democratic rather than less &#150; as the expectations of what it should mean to be a citizen is &#145;globalised&#146;. </p><p> A wonderful example of the furies and confusions of this new politics is unfolding right now at the UN&#146;s World Summit on the Information Society (<a href=http://www.itu.int/wsis/ target=_blank>WSIS</a>) being held, as I write, in Geneva. For the first time non-governmental organisations claiming to represent civil society are participating in a formative international gathering of governments alongside heads of states. The aim is to drive forward the potential gains of modern communications to everyone across the world. </p><p> <b>openDemocracy</b>&#146;s own <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1630">Solana Larsen</a> writes about WSIS in this edition. She describes the cross-currents and outlines the five great issues now at play at the summit. </p><p> Also, media editor Bill Thompson will post a daily <a href="/forums/thread.jspa?forumID=82&threadID=42011&tstart=0">blog</a> from the spot. </p><p> WSIS provides further evidence for the Mary Robinson argument. Issues of basic human rights are bursting out of their legal box and coming alive in ways that link to how people live and work and who should be involved in deciding how the world is governed. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 11 Dec 2003 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1633 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Gil Loescher's example https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1625.jsp openDemocracy is proud that columnist Gil Loescher, badly wounded in the bomb attack on United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, returns to write for us.<p> In this edition of <b>openDemocracy</b> Gil Loescher describes how he was the only survivor amongst those meeting in Sergio Vieira de Mello&#146;s office in Baghdad on 19 August 2003, when the UN office there was attacked. </p><p> The bones of Gil&#146;s right hand had been exposed and shattered by the blast. But his wife Ann would not allow it to be amputated as Gil underwent surgery in Landstuhl, Germany. When I first went to see him in hospital, after he had been flown to Oxford, England, he was resting the hand on the sheets. It was hugely wounded but reconstructed, the feeling still present in its fingertips. </p><p> I felt humbled, by experiencing his will to live and witnessing a family determined to support him and overcome adversity. An initial record of what it was like for them all can be read on this <a href=http://www.caringbridge.org/pa/gilloescher/ target=_blank>website</a>. </p><p><span class="pullquote-right">Read Gil Loescher&#146;s vivid <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1624.jsp">description</a> of being blown up in Baghdad, and his reflections on the UN&#146;s future. It is about understanding and taking on the consequences of the forces he found himself caught up in.</span></p><p> Gil&#146;s determination to get back to his work and to his <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/gil-loescher">writing</a>, which we are proud to publish, is about more than just surviving. </p><p> It is about understanding and taking on the consequences of the forces he found himself caught up in. </p><p> When Osama bin Laden sent his assassins to seize civilian aircraft and plunge them into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, his purpose was to inspire his followers by the deed, using violence as a recruiting agent. His aim, to put it in abstract terms, was to polarise. He wanted to provoke a response that would force his potential followers to choose between America and a purified Islam. </p><p> Whether or not the suicide bomber who struck the UN was a member of al-Qaida his action and the intentions of those who instructed him shared the same logic. They shattered a potential force that sought to moderate the influence of the United States and lessen the growing polarisation in Iraq. </p><p> There are big questions here about whether American policy is in fact playing bin Laden&#146;s chosen game of polarisation. </p><p> When Gil and his colleague Arthur Helton, who was killed in the blast, came to <b>openDemocracy</b> with their offer to track the humanitarian consequences of the growing conflict, there was an unspoken principle behind their approach. Namely, that humanity needs agreements rather than confrontation, and that this calls for effective, organised internationalism. </p><p> It is not revenge that Gil and his family seek &#150; although due punishment properly administered would not go amiss. They want to ensure the survival and revival of humanitarian norms. </p><p> Today a direct victim of terrorism, he seeks to do this by committing himself once again to studying and reporting the costs of polarisation and the violent mental and physical closure which accompanies it. </p><p> This also puts the issue in an abstract way. We believe that the humanity of openness must not be amputated by terror &#150; or misconceived counter-terror. Gil&#146;s steadiness, courage and clarity set an example for <b>openDemocracy</b>. </p><p> </p> editor's note democracy & power Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 04 Dec 2003 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1625 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Secrets, lies and war https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1354.jsp openDemocracy&#146;s <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-iraq/article_1351.jsp">interview with weapons inspector Ron Manley</a> has a profound lesson for Britain&#146;s hyper-centralised political culture. <p> Why did the coalition of the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland and Australia go to war against Saddam Hussein&#146;s Iraq? </p><p>The answer to this question will influence Tony Blair&#146;s ability to continue as prime minister of Britain. </p><p>There were good reasons to declare war on Iraq. It was a criminal regime and there was a desperate need for its swift humanitarian overthrow. </p><p>Its leader had built weapons of mass destruction (WMD) before he invaded Kuwait in 1990. He retained the people to build them again. Should sanctions have been lifted and his coffers once more filled with oil money, he would have reinforced his armoury of WMD. He was too dangerous a figure to be allowed to stay in office. </p><p>Of course, there are other ways of dealing with such a regime, apart from invading the country and trying to take it over. </p><p>So we come to the fact that Saddam was disliked by the head of the most powerful state in the world. </p><p>In its full-length investigation of the origins of this year&#146;s war, <i>Time magazine</i> discovered George W. Bush had taken his decision by March 2002, a whole year before the coalition attack. </p><p>The President&#146;s National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, was briefing two US Senators on Iraq when Bush put his head round the door and told them, &#145;Fuck Saddam, I&#146;m taking him out&#146;. </p><p>So there you have it from the horse&#146;s mouth. </p><p>No one talked about a military threat from Iraq. </p><p>As Donald Rumsfeld has just confirmed in Senate hearings, what altered was their <i>perception</i> of Iraq after 9/11. One way of reading this is that the reality of what terrorism might achieve led the US administration to reassess all possible threats from any source. Another is that it gave them the opportunity to justify what some of them already wanted to do. </p><p>But no one in Washington thought there was a new or present danger of a military kind posed by Iraq. </p><p>In this edition of <b>openDemocracy</b> we talk, and listen, to another kind of horse&#146;s mouth. </p><p>Between 1991 and 1994, Ron Manley dismantled Saddam&#146;s chemical weapons and his ability to make them. </p><p>In my opinion what our interview shows is that: <ul> <li>Iraq&#146;s manufacturing capability to make and fill chemical weapons had been carefully and systematically dismantled after 1991 </li><li>reconstructing it could not have taken place without this being observed </li><li>it was anyway quite crude and nothing made prior to 1991 could have lasted </li><li>there was therefore no serious, imminent military threat from chemical weapons of mass destruction from Iraq in 2002 </li><li>anyone who wanted to establish the above could have done so &#150; not least by talking to Ron Manley and his colleagues. </li></ul> </p><p> How, then, are we to explain the UK government&#146;s dossiers of September 2002 and February 2003? How could the British intelligence services allow their authority to be associated with claims which are clearly exaggerated and politically motivated? </p><p>Alastair Campbell, the prime minister&#146;s head of communications, has fiercely denied that he &#145;sexed up&#146; the first dossier. But the whole document stinks of political spin. </p><p>For example, its Executive Summary states that &#147;as a result of the intelligence&#148; the British government has received, &#147;we judge that Iraq has: <ul><li>continued to produce chemical and biological agents; </li><li>military plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons, including against its own <i>Shia</i> population. Some of these weapons are deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them.&#148; </li></ul> </p><p>The first point claims Saddam was still making the material for WMD. It is clear from the Manley interview how incredible this was (certainly with respect to chemical weapons). </p><p>The second point is ungrammatical and its exact meaning is unclear. </p><p>By such sentences were British servicemen, as well as many more Iraqis, sent to their deaths. </p><p>Not because of the threat from Saddam but because of a policy to back Bush. </p><p>So how could the supposedly careful, professional men and women of Britain&#146;s intelligence services be a part of this? Could those who are used to the shadows be blinded when exposed to the public projection of ruthless mediacrats? </p><p>The glamour of secrecy is unable to withstand the deformities of a hyper-centralised political culture. </p><p> </p> UK Iraq Conflict International politics editor's note democracy & power Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 10 Jul 2003 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1354 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A new way for British government? https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1285.jsp <p> On 11 July 2003, heads of government from Brazil&#146;s <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=897">President Lula</a> to Germany&#146;s <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=633">Chancellor Schröder</a> will gather in London for a &#145;progressive summit&#146;. The summit&#146;s aim &#150; according to the host, British prime minister Tony Blair &#150; is to set out the policies needed for &#145;centre-left parties to win, use and retain power&#146;, which, he asserts is the &#145;ultimate test of a progressive political project&#146;. </p><p> The summit is a continuation of meetings in New York, Florence, Berlin and Stockholm, which date back to the time when Bill Clinton was in the White House, France had a <a href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1899029.stm target=_blank>socialist</a> prime minister and &#145;The Third Way&#146; was the phrase of the moment. </p><p> As <b>openDemocracy&#146;s</b> opening contribution to a discussion that coincides with the summit, we publish an essay by <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1280">Geoff Mulgan</a> on how governments can learn. </p><p> It is a more deeply radical document than it appears. Behind its calm survey of the way better policies can be developed is a step-change in the role and character of the public sphere. What appears as a mere description is a new direction chosen and advocated. </p><p> In the 1990s Mulgan set up the inventive think-tank <a href=http://www.demos.co.uk/ target=_blank>Demos</a>. He was recruited into <a href=http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page1.asp target=_blank>10 Downing Street</a> by Blair as a political advisor in 1997, and then became a member of the British government&#146;s permanent civil service as head of its Performance and Innovation Unit (now merged with the Forward Strategy Unit in a new body with the pithy title, the <a href=http://www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/innovation/ target=_blank>Strategy Unit</a>, to which he was recruited on the basis of merit. </p><p> <b>Whitehall knows best</b> </p><p> Victorian Britain <a href=http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/trevelyan_charles.shtml target=_blank>pioneered</a> the creation of a merit-based &#145;permanent&#146; civil service whose senior officers could not be replaced by politicians holding executive power. Without a written constitution to ensure checks and balances, they developed an informal check to ensure that the running of the country was protected from the risk of takeover by a populist majority in parliament that exploited the discontents of &#145;the unwashed&#146;. </p><p> The feared prospect did not occur in the United Kingdom, but the rise of parliament-sanctioned fascism across Europe in the 1930s showed it was not beyond possibility. </p><p> Instead, the British <a href=http://www.samuelbrittan.co.uk/text149_p.html target=_blank>civil service</a> recruited widely and freely during the 1939-45 war, and emerged into the era of the European welfare state full of self-confidence in its ability to deliver from above. A famous phrase uttered in 1947 by Douglas Jay, a young Labour treasury minister as his party took over from Winston Churchill&#146;s, summed up the attitude: &#147;The gentleman in Whitehall&#148; &#150; the administrative heart of the British state, in central London &#150; &#147;really does know better what is good for the people than the people know themselves&#148;. </p><p> Paternalistic and patronising, anti-market without being pro-democratic, it was a proconsular perspective that sought to look after the natives. The phrase became the symbol of all that the <a href=http://www.aubg.bg/pos/pos101/Conservatism%20in%20Action.htm target=_blank>Thatcher</a> revolution despised when it came to power in 1979. Her neo-liberal political assault on the &#145;consensus politics&#146; of the welfare state swept away the unbearable avuncularism of old Labour. The state and its mandarins did <i>not</i> know best. She shredded them, emancipating the country from their suffocating complacency and lack of enterprise. </p><p> <b>Between mandarins and the market</b> </p><p> In his calm and judicious manner, Mulgan comments on the rise of neo-liberal influence. Its impact on public administration was reinforced in 1992 by the arguments most famously brought together by <a href=http://www.defenselink.mil/c3i/bpr/bprcd/5395.htm target=_blank>David Osborne and Ted Gaebler</a> in <i>Reinventing Government: how the entrepreneurial spirit is transforming the public sector</i>. This opens with a meditation on why the market (supposedly a machine for exploiting consumers) is a pleasure to deal with as a customer, while government services (which exist to serve the people) oppress those who need them. <a href=http://www.innovation.cc/book_rev/ban.htm target=_blank>Osborne</a> and <a href=http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/npr/library/express/1999/vol5no3.html target=_blank>Gaebler</a> called for the introduction of market-style competition and accountability into public administration. </p><p> &#145;Third Way&#146; thinking under Clinton and Blair drew in part on the experience of &#145;reinventing government&#146;. The issues it sought to address, such as how to develop the delivery of public services so that aspirations are encouraged not stifled, and welfare dependency is diminished not reinforced, were and are real ones. But the manner of delivering the &#145;new&#146; approach bore all the signs of positioning masquerading as thought. </p><p> Take the very term, &#145;The Third Way&#146;. When Blair appropriated it as his own, it was met in Britain especially with considerable derision, most memorably by journalist and wit <a href=http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/politicsphilosophyandsociety/story/0,6000,909464,00.html target=_blank>Francis Wheen</a> who wondered if its whereabouts were not to be found somewhere between the Second Coming and the Fourth Dimension. </p><p> <a href=http://www.lse.ac.uk/Giddens/ThirdWayCriticsPR.htm target=_blank>Anthony Giddens</a>, whose book <i>The Third Way</i> became an international bestseller, later responded to critics of the term by saying that the term is beside the point and any other name would smell as sweet. Whatever you call it, he observed, the only argument that matters now is how to run societies in a way which neither gives free rein to the market nor relies upon the central direction of the state. </p><p> In Britain, however, the search for better government under the flag of the <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=366">Third Way</a> was inextricably linked to Blair&#146;s &#145;ultimate test&#146; &#150; staying in power. What, in Blairite terms, is the most important word in the formulation? Is it &#145;Way&#146; with its sense of an endless path, or is it &#145;Third&#146; lying in the wide lands between market and state? The answer is neither. The most important word is &#145;The&#146;. It&#146;s the definite article which does the work. </p><p> <b>Blair: the UK&#146;s own definite article?</b> </p><p> You might have thought that the search for a new politics associated with a much richer definition of the public sphere than the state would have been open to experimentation and pluralism. Whatever &#145;The Third Way&#146; debate may have engaged with elsewhere around the world, in British <a href=http://www.essex.ac.uk/government/Graduate%20Conference/matt.html target=_blank>Labour politics</a> it was singular not pluralist from the beginning. Who, then, &#145;knows&#146; the way? Clearly, the leader &#150; perhaps he should be known as the United Kingdom&#146;s very own Definite Article. What should have been a stimulation to debate and disagreement became an instrument for controlling new thinking. </p><p> The problem with Third Way politics in Britain, therefore, is not just that it concedes too much to the marketplace as the main source of positive change and efficiency; it also returned to a tradition of presumed top-down authority, only here more personalised and &#145;presidentialised&#146; as befits the age of the <a href=http://www.fsbassociates.com/holt/mediaunlimited.htm target=_blank>media torrent</a>. </p><p> This is one reason why the approach Geoff Mulgan is now exploring has special interest. Or rather why it contains two elements of considerable merit. </p><p> First, it seeks out forms of good government <i>as such</i>. Its starting-point and assumption is that government is a necessary good and benefit in its own right, not an integument upon a marketplace seen as the only source of creating wealth &#150; upon which any public levy or activity apart from basic legal regulation is a wealth-sucking parasite. </p><p> In brief, the Mulgan argument is not just an attempt to tame, limit or internalise the best of the free market, it re-establishes the notion that good government believes in itself as a public good. </p><p> Second, its vision of what form of government is best is inherently open, exploratory and seeking change and improvement. There is no &#145;The&#146; about it. </p><p> Or is there? Mulgan&#146;s emphasis on &#145;judgment&#146; in his conclusion has a twang of the old self-confidence, the presumption of Whitehall man. Here, however, the claim is no longer that he knows best, only strives to <i>learn best</i>, an admirable ambition that should be applauded and supported &#150; not least because the need for learning implies a recognition of imperfection, error and the need to improve &#150; a rhetoric still beyond contemporary politics. </p><p> And what about democracy in all this? Precisely. <a href=http://www.charter88.org.uk/future/bentley.html target=_blank>Tom Bentley</a>, now Mulgan&#146;s successor at the helm of <a hre=http://www.demos.co.uk/ target=_blank>Demos</a> will be responding to him, posing the question of how public democratic processes need to be part of any learning government. </p><p> </p> democracy & power europe think tanks, ideas, politics editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 11 Jun 2003 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1285 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A world on the move https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1198.jsp <p> A concept is born: People Flow. </p><p> The term has been used as corporate speak for mobility through an organisation, and as a technical term in assessing the layout of public spaces. But Theo Veenkamp and Tom Bentley&#146;s team at Demos have now given it a new meaning. </p><p> It names, and by so doing makes normal, something that is all around us which national cultures everywhere define as abnormal. </p><p> It used to be known as migration, or immigration, or asylum seeking or being a refugee. Each implies that the particular event &#150; the leaving, the arrival &#150; is an exception. </p><p> With <i>People Flow</i>, the new pamphlet Demos is co-launching with <b>openDemocracy</b>, the movement of people is given what its authors argue is its true place in our lives. To speak of people, ourselves and everyone, is to talk of a species in movement. </p><p> How can we achieve life, liberty and happiness without accepting ourselves as what we are? </p><p> This, then, is a Copernican moment. If <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1194">Veenkamp</a> is right, all the desperate measures to legislate control over &#145;migration&#146; are like the bizarre epicycles of the last period of the Ptolemaic system, when the assumption that the stars and the sun revolved around the earth came up against increasingly systematic observations which this assumption could not explain. </p><p> A simple, fundamentally different starting-point was needed. Copernicus provided it: it was the earth that moved. </p><p> Veenkamp too seeks to alter the fundamental starting-point. People flow. Policy, attitudes, culture, citizenship, notions of belonging, our understanding of our society and of what it means to be human must begin with movement not residence, flux not stasis. </p><p> Not so fast, says <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1193">Anthony Browne</a>. He makes a passionate, eloquent case for the nation-centric view. </p><p> How are such questions considered by traditional media? Even before Theo Veenkamp&#146;s report had been launched the British press had come to its own conclusions about its contents. <i>The Guardian</i> <a href=http://politics.guardian.co.uk/thinktanks/story/0,10538,940723,00.html target=_blank>announced</a> (22 April) that Veenkamp had &#145;come out in support of British Home Secretary David Blunkett&#146;s controversial plan to send all asylum seekers to processing centres outside the EU&#146;, the day after <i>The Daily Telegraph</i> had announced that &#145;David Blunkett&#146;s plans for asylum seekers to be held in camps outside the European Union will be criticised this week&#146;&#133;by Veenkamp&#146;s report. </p><p> That was the broadsheets. The tabloids were more confused. For the latter, this is all copy flow, prejudged, trivialised and sensationalised &#150; the mere movement of words in print, functioning to ensure that attitudes are reinforced while little changes &#150; especially not minds. </p><p> Meanwhile, close readers of <b>openDemocracy</b> will be aware of two major discussions which tend to favour the Veenkamp analysis from different angles. </p><p> Hugh Brody has shown how the neolithic revolution which launched humanity into farming and settlement drove the nomadic peoples to the world&#146;s margins. As it did so, the hunter-gatherers were seen as less human because mobile and without homes. In fact, he shows, they occupied a known landscape. It was agricultural settlers who, seen as they should be across generations, were always expansionist and on the move. In the process they drove hunter-gatherers to the edge &#150; from where <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/columns/view-3.jsp target=_blank>Hugh Brody</a> writes his regular column for us. </p><p> One of the features of modern times is acceleration. If Brody is right, perhaps Veenkamp and his co-authors are simply identifying a fundamental aspect of the tradition of settlement, namely the migration of younger generations, that has picked up speed. </p><p> Another way of seeing this, is that the people flow the pamphleteers identify is simply the international form of the movement of people from the countryside to the city. <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=879">Tom Nairn</a> considers this in his discussion of the costs of a &#145;borderless world&#146; in his essay on <i>America versus Globalisation</i>. </p><p> In different ways, Hugh Brody and Tom Nairn speak to the dynamic processes that are transforming lives across the planet. Anthony Browne, by contrast, addresses the fears and uncertainties of those &#150; especially in Europe &#150; who seek settlement and security amidst the convulsions of people flow. </p><p> An Editor&#146;s Note is a chance to be personal. On this great issue of our time, there are strong arguments on all sides, and I have not yet made up my mind. </p><p> All the more reason why <b>openDemocracy</b> welcomes our partnership with Demos in <a href=http://www.demos.co.uk/catalogue/default.aspx?id=247 target=_blank>publishing</a> and debating a bold and important blueprint for a new way to look at migration and asylum. Over the coming weeks we hope <b>openDemocracy</b> will bring a new quality to the discussion of this contentious issue. Here you will get the debate in full &#150; the problems and perhaps some answers too. Please join in. </p><p> </p> democracy & power europe editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 30 Apr 2003 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1198 at https://www.opendemocracy.net John Lloyd, the <i>New Statesman</i> and me https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1185.jsp <p> It gives me genuine pleasure that we are publishing John Lloyd on <b>openDemocracy</b>. </p><p> In 1986 I applied to become editor of the <i>New Statesman</i>. I had written its diary for nearly two years. My bid was supported by various writers who already had some reputation at the time such as Angela Carter; Salman Rushdie; Marina Warner; Francis Wheen and others. </p><p> It was approaching the zenith of Margaret Thatcher&#146;s influence. Desperate to defeat her, the then leader of the Labour party, Neil Kinnock, wanted to take every measure possible to ensure that opposition to her was united. He feared, fairly or not, the consequences of my editing of what was then the UK&#146;s premier political weekly. </p><p> He persuaded John Lloyd to stand and, according to John&#146;s own report, when I made the stronger impression in the first round of interviews, told him to &#147;pull his socks up&#148;. Which, it seems, he did. </p><p> At any rate, much to my chagrin, I was deprived of the prize. Since then, we have both got the episode off our chests in another magazine with which we are associated, the British monthly, <i>Prospect</i>. </p><p> Labour lost the 1987 election. Subsequently John returned to the <i>Financial Times</i> and went to Moscow to be its correspondent there &#150; where he became one of the most distinguished reporters observing the end of the Soviet Union. </p><p> Then, while remaining at the FT, he became an associate editor of the <i>New Statesman</i> and a regular columnist for it. Two weeks ago he resigned. In his last column he explained that he felt its anti-war stance had ceased to grapple with realities; a theme he addresses in his article on the failures of the left, in this edition of <b>openDemocracy</b>. </p><p> Like the current editor of the <i>New Statesman</i>, Peter Wilby, I oppose the American invasion of Iraq. But I agree with John Lloyd that there were honourable reasons to want to see the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, and there is a great need to debate the consequences of America&#146;s attempt to overthrow him in a serious and open-minded way. </p><p> This is a matter of global politics that goes well beyond the British scene. Others will join John Lloyd in the <b>openDemocracy</b> debate on the implications of the Iraq conflict. Lloyd supports the approach taken by the current leader of Britain&#146;s Labour Party, Tony Blair. I think George Bush&#146;s war strategy counts more than the one conceived in Downing Street. </p><p> At the centre of this argument are issues of human rights and international democracy. I am glad <b>openDemocracy</b> hosts them and that John Lloyd has joined us in our discussion. I cannot forbear to add that these were also themes I argued the <i>New Statesman</i> needed to take up in 1986. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 24 Apr 2003 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1185 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bad omens https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1170.jsp <p> The omens are bad for democracy. An era of awe is unlikely to be a good one for emancipation and free thinking. </p><p> First, in Iraq. Its liberation has been accompanied by the ransacking of its pre-Saddam history, the smashing of its museum, the torching of its manuscript library, the theft of its past. If the American (or perhaps just Rumsfeld) view is that this is of consequence for only a few old pots, it could hardly be more wrong. </p><p> The starting-point for a working democracy is a sufficient shared sense of national interest for one ruling party to be voted out and replaced by another &#150; peacefully. This necessitates a framework of legal rules which are respected. The way in which they are respected is decisive. This is a matter of political culture. It has to be learnt and any such shared learning needs to draw on a shared history. </p><p> Decapitate <i>this</i> and you are likely to kiss goodbye to the possibility of a working democracy. </p><p> Chopping off the head of the Ba&#146;athist state will allow Iraq to breathe. To be indifferent to the destruction of artefacts of the country&#146;s long history is to damage it in a way that will make it far harder to recover and prosper. </p><p> Second, in America. The crushing overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime may be unprecedented in terms of the high technology deployed &#150; but it was not primarily due to this. The real weakness of the regime was its top-down, terror structure. The result was a welcome collapse similar to the way the Pol Pot regime folded up in Cambodia within days of Vietnamese tanks rolling over the border in December 1978. </p><p> There too, people were liberated from their own regime by foreign invaders whom they did not trust. This was good for Cambodians. It was a deserved victory for Vietnam. But it cost the Vietnamese dearly and helped further to militarise their regime. </p><p> Many have warned about internal consequences of American strategy &#150; for how this administration defines what democracy means, how it sees it coming about, how it respects and works with others. These issues could not be more urgent. Shock and awe was not only deployed in Iraq and aimed at other &#145;rogue&#146; states. It can also become a way of governing at home. </p><p> <hr color=gray size=1 width=100px /> </p><p> In this Edition of <b>openDemocracy</b> <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1154">John Berger</a> takes a long view and sees the fear deliberately generated by the victorious power as one which infects itself and its capacity to understand. If he is right, then the &#145;largeness of spirit and moral imagination&#146; which <a href="/articles/View.jsp?id=1140">David Hayes and Caspar Henderson</a> say it is essential for America to demonstrate &#145;at this moment in history&#146;, is unlikely to be displayed &#150; which is all the more reason to think about their argument. </p><p> David and Caspar are part of the team at <b>openDemocracy</b> which has debated and argued its way through the preparations for war, its waging and now its results. We have held and exchanged different views throughout this intensely difficult moment. What we share, and want our readers to share, is a sense of responsibility towards the realities as they develop over time, on the ground in the Gulf, the Middle East, Europe and the US. </p><p> On all sides we hear the racket of clichés and posturing and the softer, gut-wrenching noise of repositioning. At <b>openDemocracy</b> we will do our best to encourage a better, and we hope truer form of debate and argument, and carry it into a new kind of &#145;post-war&#146; period. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Wed, 16 Apr 2003 23:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1170 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A heart in New York https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_1083.jsp <p> I am writing this from New York. The war with Iraq has begun. Its looming presence is everywhere. </p><p> War is a time of test &#150; for combatants, for their families, for civilians, for political leaders, and for those who report and analyse it. </p><p> War, as much as peace-making and state-building, requires a supreme cooperative effort. All test the character and ideas of social projects. This is something we acutely feel at <b>openDemocracy</b>. </p><p> The test we are experiencing now is threefold: to our thinking, our practice, and our values. All three converge, at present, on Iraq. </p><p> <b>Thinking</b> </p><p> We began to develop the thinking behind our butterfly over two years ago. It has been a process of discovery. </p><p> It may sound strange to say that one is discovering what one does. But from the beginning we sought, via the web, an experiment: to create not a one-way street with readers, users and members, but a genuinely collaborative relationship. </p><p> <b>openDemocracy</b>&#146;s aspiration is to develop better ways to discuss and think about the realities in the world. We want to bring to a worldwide network the classical qualities of clear writing, accessible argument and a longer view &#150; and in the process, to open minds and possibilities. </p><p> Central to our hopes for better discussion is openness. We believe that good arguments should be tested at their strongest. The world does not need another advocacy publication, on the web or off, to provide a correct line or attitude for all to follow. </p><p> <b>Practice</b> </p><p> From the beginning, therefore, we have sought to present the clash of arguments as fairly as we can. </p><p> War presents a test here too &#150; to clarify what these fine words mean and do not mean, and to carry them into our daily operation. </p><p> The question they raise now is whether the role of <b>openDemocracy</b> is to be neutral or balanced? </p><p> The answer is no. We are a network for discussion, not a news service which has an obligation to report all sides. We do not offer equal space to apologists for terror or deniers of atrocity; nor to the cynical or mindlessly contrarian. Openness for us means honest argument and the search for truth. </p><p> This does not entail concealment of partisan views, as sharp, radical, or provocative as need be &#150; on the contrary. But here as elsewhere, we seek intelligence, integrity of voice, and (whenever possible) counter-arguments. </p><p> <b>Values</b> </p><p> Modern war provokes, not silences, argument. The divisions it forces are felt within <b>openDemocracy</b> too. But in facing this test, we all share and affirm a single, fundamental value: that every human being on earth is the moral and political equal of every other. </p><p> This belief is not a posture but a commitment. It is also a challenge to the way we work. </p><p> The professional consequence is a sense of responsibility to the world beyond ourselves. </p><p> The editorial consequence is that <b>openDemocracy</b> does not seek to champion the interest of particular nations, blocs, or classes. </p><p> Our interest is a universal one: free thinking for the world. </p><p> <b>Iraq</b> </p><p> The test of <b>openDemocracy</b>&#146;s thinking, practice and values is pressed upon us daily as the bombs rain down and a vicious tyranny prepares to fall. We are engaged in seeking out and publishing the best arguments both for and against the war. This edition includes an overview of our Iraq coverage where reason, passion and good judgment are to be found on all sides. </p><p> As the war unfolds and its larger consequences become apparent, we will deepen and broaden our coverage. As peace comes to Iraq, we will continue to give the country the close attention and serious engagement it deserves &#150; in part, by continuing to listen to the voices of Iraqis themselves. </p><p> There are no short cuts in life or world politics. <b>openDemocracy</b> is in for the long haul. We combine a presence on the web &#150; the quintessential present &#150; with a sense both of history and the future. This informs our thinking, our practice, and our values as a screaming comes across the sky in Baghdad. </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Fri, 21 Mar 2003 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 1083 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The nuclear option https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_962.jsp <p>If you are in Japan, North Korea&#146;s missile threat looms largest. If you are in America, the disintegration of the space shuttle sweeps away your headlines. If you are in Iraq, Iran, or indeed, Europe, the crisis in the Gulf predominates. But if you were in Brazil&#146;s Porto Alegre last week, you were most likely working to make another world possible. </p><p>We lead this edition with reports from Susan Richards and Solana Larsen, just back from the World Social Forum (WSF). </p><p>Solana listens as activists try and make their bold dreams concrete and achievable. </p><p>For Susan the WSF is a revival of the medieval fair in an information age, where experience is exchanged and connections made. A marketplace for ideas. </p><p><b>openDemocracy</b> aspires to be a similar space. </p><p>Lateral connections, not top-down edicts are the stuff of democratic exchange. Participation is of course, key. In March we will be launching new forum spaces which will replace the present clunky ones. Yet even now, there are over a thousand contributions from our members in the <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/discussion.jsp?debateId=88&id=2 target=_blank>&#145;Iraq: war or not&#146; discussion</a>. </p><p>Let me highlight just two. <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/ViewPost.jsp?id=1348 target=_blank>&#145;Gary 1970&#146;</a> is a pro-war US sergeant. His arguments are considered and, given his proximity to war, deserve to be listened to carefully; while <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/ViewPost.jsp?id=1383 target=_blank>&#145;dyoung&#146;</a> invokes recent experience, specifically Somalia, to argue against &#145;just war.&#146; </p><p><b>openDemocracy</b> aims to become a space where communities can grow and learn - communities which belong equally to members and that are not subject to editorial edicts. </p><p>The surprise and urgency of participation is mirrored in this edition by our commissioned articles, where, without our planning it, we have three pieces on an issue which suddenly surfaced: nuclear weapons. </p><p><b>openDemocracy</b>&#146;s international security correspondent <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/themes/article.jsp?articleId=948&id=2 target=_blank>Paul Rogers</a> considers the likelihood and impact of nuclear escalation in Iraq. <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article.jsp?id=6&debateId=28&articleId=943 target=_blank>Achilles Skordas</a> provocatively argues that defining the legal conditions governing their use would help to ensure a situation where their use becomes unthinkable. And <a href=http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article.jsp?id=3&debateId=77&articleId=952 target=_blank>Tom Nairn</a>, in part 4 of his panoptic essay on America and globalisation, sees in the US nuclear option a classical compulsion for global sovereignty and control (or what used to be known as imperialism). </p><p>When the world&#146;s main power announces a strategy of pre-emption that includes an expanded right to use nuclear weapons, the need for a vigorous debate - of the principles at stake, and the impact on the world - is urgent. That is another reason why <b>openDemocracy</b> exists. </p><p>Anthony Barnett </p><p> </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 06 Feb 2003 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 962 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The wrong war: a response to Philip Bobbitt https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy/article_920.jsp <p >In this note I want to respond directly to those who make the case for an American attack on Iraq. I do not mean the hawkish, bellicose pronouncements of the might-makes-right crowd, but the careful, clear case made by such thinkers as <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/article.jsp?id=2&debateId=88&articleId=882#11" target=_blank>Philip Bobbitt</a>. </p><p >Their arguments are further proof of the vitality and seriousness of American political culture, whatever the caricatures of the anti-war movement. </p><p >Such strong, rhetoric-free arguments must be listened to, and, depending on your point of view, answered. This is my attempt to respond to Bobbitt in particular. It has made me clarify my own thinking. I still disagree with American policy, but I do so differently now. </p><p >Bobbitt addresses the question, usually avoided, of &#145;why now?&#146;. He accepts that Saddam Hussein should have been removed years ago, it was wrong that he wasn&#146;t. </p><p >He says that the reason the US is acting now is 9/11. Nothing changed with respect to Iraq except the all-important &#145;resolve&#146; to do something about Saddam. There is <i>no direct connection</i> between Baghdad and al-Qaida or bin Laden. What 11 September did was to give the political class the will to take the necessary action. </p><p >In fact the dangers of terrorism, on the one hand, and megalomaniac leaders developing weapons of mass destruction, on the other, are separate. Both had been long recognised. Policy towards each had been complacent. The events of 11 September 2001 changed the complacency. But the two issues remain distinct. </p><p >Two questions which Bobbitt doesn&#146;t address in a short piece: </p><p >If 9/11 provided the will finally to do something about Saddam, why doesn't it provide a similar will to ensure a just settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict? </p><p >And even if action against Saddam is distinct from countering terrorism, surely the way it is conducted should take account of the impact on the forces that have led to the rise of fundamentalist terrorism? </p><p >However the obvious yet rarely stated point that follows from Bobbitt&#146;s core argument is that the weapons inspections are irrelevant. The danger is not what Saddam may have but what he intends to get if he can. In effect the argument for action claims we are up against <i>Saddam Hussein&#146;s will</i>, now well-documented, to arm himself with ultra-dangerous, indiscriminate weaponry. This won&#146;t change. However long the inspectors crawl around Iraq, he will remain a lethal danger for the future. Now that, finally, the US has the determination to stop this, the argument goes, military action is essential on the grounds of &#145;better late than never&#146;. </p><p >I can agree with this - which surprised me because previously I thought that the only justification for invasion was the humanitarian one(I have long held Saddam is a Pol Pot who should be overthrown for that reason). </p><p >Nonetheless I still don't back America on this one. </p><p >Why? The strength of the Bobbitt position is its precision: the aim is the man. Because the combination of his intent, his record and his access to oil riches he has to go. Now that the public can be persuaded to back this, go he must. </p><p >Let's agree to this. Let's take this as a shared aim, and ask: what is the best way to achieve it? Surely the answer is not that offered us by George W. Bush. In contrast to the precise discrimination of Bobbitt&#146;s argument, US policy towards Saddam is indiscriminate. The stated strategy is a war on an &#145;axis of evil&#146; between three states, of which Iraq is only the first. It wavers between WMD, regime change, links to bin Laden, and oil and the need to get leverage over Saudi Arabia (openly discussed by Donald Rumsfeld). Above all it is unilateralist. </p><p >Surely the proper next step is that if Saddam has to go and there is the resolve to make it happen, then it must be done by forming a regional coalition against him. This can only be achieved by making alliances with his neighbours &#150; not hard as he has threatened or attacked most of them. Above all Iran, which has played a co-operative role in Afghanistan. A determined Washington could have brought Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and, if necessary, Syria together to assemble a combined ground force with US air-support, from Muslim-majority states; such an alliance would be unbeatable. The deal could include elections in Iraq within three years, which might scare Saudi Arabia and Syria but not Iran or Turkey. Iraqi oil would pay for the costs. </p><p >If the UN were able to provide the backing for this, well and good. If not, not. But what is needed is surely an intrinsically international, not a US nationalist response of the kind we are now witnessing. The war on offer is not concentrated on Saddam in the precise and limited terms Bobbitt outlines. It is being used to legitimate a war-creating role for the world&#146;s greatest power which is bound to provoke further violence and (that other track) to intensify the attitudes that feed terrorism. </p><p >I dislike the way that the growing anti-war movement ignores the pitiless realities on the ground in Iraq. I&#146;m proud that in the debate on <b>openDemocracy</b>, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/debates/issue.jsp?debateId=73&id=2" target=_blank>Iraqi voices and the Iraqi experience</a> have been strongly represented. But the reason why opposition to the war is surprisingly popular, is not that anyone supports Saddam but the widespread sense that it is NOT about Saddam, that its aims and objectives are not the elegant, restricted and well focused goals outlined by writers such as Philip Bobbitt. </p><p>Anthony Barnett </p> democracy & power editor's note Anthony Barnett Creative Commons normal Thu, 23 Jan 2003 00:00:00 +0000 Anthony Barnett 920 at https://www.opendemocracy.net