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This week’s front page editor

Julian Richards

Julian Richards is managing editor of openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The Somalia dilemma

Foreign intervention is not the answer, argues Josephine Whitaker. The solution to Somalia’s problems must be found at home.

Not so super: six of one and half a dozen of the other

The US Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has replaced leadership with heightened partisanship

Afghanistan: something goes right

The signs of improvement in Bamiyan province in Afghanistan's central highlands are evident in transport, agriculture and everyday livelihood, says Marco Niada. But the common root is good leadership that encourages education - especially that of women.

Advocating the two state solution: the best bet?

We need to convince our governments and the EU to invest in a political strategy that reverses the destructive dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They need to understand that respect for international law is not a detail, but lies at the very heart of the conflict.

Kashmir: from national to human security

It is about time that saner heads in the Indian national security establishment mull over the implications of the continuation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir, says Wajahat Qazi

To drone or not to drone – a key question

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

Armed conflict, land grabs and big business: Colombia’s deadly pact

The recent assassination of Colombian marxist insurgent group leader Alfonso Cano has been hailed internationally as an advance towards peace, giving Colombia a boost down the path to becoming the latest emerging market of Latin America. A closer look at the history and nature of Colombia's nearly 50 year-long armed struggle, however, tells us otherwise.

The rapid evolution of Al-Shabab’s media and insurgent “journalism”

The evolution of Al-Shabab’s media arm provides a window into the group’s overall maturation as an insurgent movement that has endorsed key elements of Al-Qaeda Central’s ideology while still focusing primarily on waging a domestic insurgency inside Somalia.

The movement moves on: what happens after Zuccotti Park

From Manhattan, what happened in the aftermath of the New York Mayor's action to clear the Occupy Wall Street protest, and what needs to happen next

Mucking out the bullshit: Kubrick, Spartacus and Full Metal Jacket

Spartacus, a monstrosity of sentimentality, only survives in annual repeats on daytime television; Full Metal Jacket is regarded as one of the great 'Nam movies. Strong thematic and structural parallels, however, bind the two films together, and the nauseous incontinence of the earlier film can help us understand the bleak spareness of the later one.

"Feast with your enemies" - Dekha Ibrahim Abdi

What do I do differently as a result of knowing this great woman? I utterly believe in the power of one local person to transform a violent situation. I know that humiliation is the driver of most incidents of violence, and that respect is the best antidote to humiliation, and I try to apply that. On the weekend of the UK memorial service for Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, Scilla Elworthy remembers her friend

Transforming our woundedness for peace

" I refuse to be a victim: I am a resource for peace": Dekha Ibrahim Abdi 1964-2011

Israel vs Iran: the regional blowback

The prospect of an Israeli military assault on Iran's nuclear assets is growing. The scale and impact of any attack would be far greater than most observers expect.

Britain must stop sending children to war

On the eve of Remembrance Day members of parliament urge the UK government to stop sending under 18-year-olds to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Multiculturalism and social cohesion

The nuts and bolts of a Big Society require a conspiracy of effects at every level, local, national and international. It also requires multiculturalism.

North Africa’s new unlawful democracies

The ‘Arab revolution’ as a phenomenon backed by France and its allies is evidence of the arbitrariness of liberal democracy long ago identified by the German jurist Carl Schmitt: it is no more than rule achieved through a state of emergency.

Battling for democracy in Tunisia

The run up to the Tunisian elections was filled with a disruptive campaigning that appeared in parallel to electoral campaigns. At the time, a worried Tunisian called for vigilance against manipulative attempts to divert the people’s attention away from real issues. This article was first published on

Lines of descent

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

Can a Kosovo-Serbia deal cheer up the Balkans?

Unlike most of the world's economic powers, Serbia still does not recognise Kosovo as a state. It will need to, though, before it can start down the road to EU accession.

Bombing Kobe

The city of Kobe died twice: once through being bombed in 1945, and subsequently by earthquake in 1995. As a result of both this and the hasty ‘restoration’ process, you can only see in a few bullet marks on one pier of the Owada Bridge, crossing over Hyogo Canal in downtown Kobe, the real legacy of the Kobe bombing. The author is speaking at this week’s Shock and Awe conference.

The two-state solution: where next?

As a series of abstentions, including those of Britain, France, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, leave Palestine with eight confirmed votes in favour of UN recognition – just short of the nine needed to sway the 15-nation UN Security Council – the author argues that there is no win-lose or lose-win scenario in the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Daniel Swift reads from Bomber County

Bomber County—The Poetry of a Lost Pilot's War is the title of the first book by Daniel Swift, assistant professor of English at Skidmore College. Part memoir (Swift's grandfather was a British bomber in WWII) and part literary criticism, the book is an investigation into the poetry and bombing campaigns of the Second World War. Swift read selections from his book September 29, 2011 at Skidmore College.

Iranians' choice in the face of war

Signals that military action against Iran is a real danger have been multiplying over the past twelve months. Faced with external military intervention and internal repression, Arash Falasiri asks what course remains open to the Iranian people.

Stephen Pinker’s guide to violence: dotting some “i’s” in Rawls

Stephen Pinker's new book is a powerful paean to humanistic modernity. But its method of questioning may not be its own best friend

The possibilities and impossibilities of being a neighbour

German-born Daniel Zylbersztajn has recently returned to Poland, two months after his father's passing away. In the son, this has prompted thoughts on neighbourly relations and the meaning of transformative dialogue in general, taking account of his experiences in Jewish - Palestinian dialogue and his upbringing in Germany.

Sudan’s hidden victims: an international test

A neglected humanitarian disaster is unfolding in the Sudanese border region of Southern Kordofan. The tens of thousands bombed, displaced, blockaded and starved need the world’s attention, says Gerry Simpson.

A Greek referendum WAS an excellent idea

There was for a moment a breath of democracy in the crisis of the European currency and an attempt at honesty. But the Greek referendum was not to be. This was heavy duty blackmail says openDemocracy founding editor. Takis Pappas could not disagree more.

Illegal diamond mining in Zimbabwe

Despite spirited efforts by the government to convince the international community that illegal mining and diamond underhand dealings in Marange (Chiadzwa) were under control, events on the ground suggest otherwise.

Libya: premature hopes for democracy

Libyans must unite around the best option for the future of their country and strive to restore links between Libya and the international community.

Is Afghanistan, ‘Iraq, the sequel’?

The artificial bifurcation between peace and reintegration in Afghanistan serves Washington DC's political interests, but is very confusing to the Afghans and is not a coherent, actionable policy. And what happened to reconciliation?

Stop the extradition of UK citizen Babar Ahmad: one week left on e-petition

An anti-extradition petition for a British citizen calls on the government to protect the fundamental rights of UK citizens.

The ultimate sacrifice

A string of self-immolations in China has alarmed the authorities. Chris Wilkins looks at the motivations and effects of this extreme form of protest.

Closed courts and secret evidence: Britain’s own Guantanamo Bay

The government is attempting to further shield itself from those seeking to obtain secret intelligence. Proposals contained in a new consultation green paper threaten to compromise the British system of open justice and the right to a fair trial.

India, Pakistan strike friendly tones, but Afghan endgame likely to affect relations

Recent improvements in ties between India and Pakistan might be jeopardized as both compete for influence in post-2014 Afghanistan. Nepal's political parties conclude a deal over reintegration of former rebels. Britain allows armed guards on vessels to fight pirate attacks, and the United States and South Korea strengthen ties to meet future challenges from the North. All this in today's security briefing...

A call for the rally, ‘Plebiscite Now! Let the Majority Decide’

This is the latest communiqué from the Occupy movements to add to our collection. Democracia para Chile is preparing for a rally in early November.
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