This week's editor

Ray Filar

Ray Filar is co-editor of Transformation and a freelance journalist.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Spain's shame

The Spanish people responded to the Madrid massacre by voting in a government opposed to the “war on terror”. An act of surrender and dishonour, says Douglas Murray.

A victory for Spain, not al-Qaida

The proximity of the Madrid blasts and the electoral defeat of Spain’s ruling party has been interpreted as a victory for terrorism. For Ivan Briscoe in Madrid, this is a profound misunderstanding of what happened in Spain.

The electoral victory of Spain’s Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE), three days after the devastating train bombings in central Madrid that killed over 200 citizens, was astounding.

A war of shadows

An extensive American military operation in the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands is attempting to complete the unfinished business of 2001. But the Madrid massacre has shown that the west’s elusive enemy has learned, adapted – and multiplied.

India and Pakistan: the cricket test

India and Pakistan are two South Asian giants joined by history and language, divided by politics and war. But now they are also engaged in exuberant, passionate, friendly rivalry where it really matters: on the cricket pitch. Maruf Khwaja - memorialist, exile, survivor, cricket nut with a foot in every camp – is in earthly paradise.

ETA after Madrid: the beginning of the end?

Even if it is exonerated of responsibility for the pre-election Madrid massacre, the militant Basque group that has waged a thirty-six year struggle against the Spanish state faces a difficult future.

The Madrid bombings: the 'war on terror' comes to Europe

Whoever was responsible for the atrocities on the Madrid railway system on Thursday 11 March, the implications will go far beyond the traumatic effects on the bereaved and injured.

If the Basque separatist organisation, Euskadi ta Askatasuna ("Basque homeland and liberty", ETA), had any involvement, the domestic security implications for the incoming Spanish government will be profound. The Madrid attacks were so substantial, and so precisely organised to kill and injure large numbers of people, that they would represent an action of a far greater order of magnitude than anything previously attempted by ETA.

How to say 'no' to terrorism

The real challenge of terrorism is to the quality of Europe's democracy. A response fueled by unchecked power can become fuel for a global civil war. There is, there must be, a better way.

First lessons from Spain

The Madrid bombings have taught us a powerful lesson: the ‘war on terror’ plays into the hands of its enemies. Politicians must learn to be modest in the face of those who perpetrate • “jihad”.

Why the Spanish government lost

The defeat of the ruling party in the Spanish elections three days after the attacks in Madrid on 11 March marks an extraordinary and unexpected turnaround. A founder of “El Pais”, Spain’s premier national newspaper, assesses the reasons for the government’s defeat and looks to the future of democracy in Europe.

Madrid 3/11: democracy after atrocity

The death of 200 people in Spain’s worst-ever terrorist attack is a landmark in the country’s politics as well as its modern history.

Living through terrorism

The attack in Madrid should not be looked at as only European, or even only political, but in the context of a human chain of being and responsibility.

Women in Iraq: between fear and freedom

The condition of Iraq’s women is a litmus test of the country’s movement towards civil rights and democratic governance. Anita Sharma, who spent ten months in Iraq and Jordan in 2003-04, charts the paths and pitfalls of their difficult journey.

The trial of Saddam Hussein

What kind of justice does the world owe the former Iraqi dictator?

Into the Afghan fire

The United States has secured an Iraqi agreement to a draft constitution, and its diplomats are being recruited for the world’s largest embassy in Baghdad. But events in Afghanistan and Pakistan show that the “war on terror” never sleeps.

The circus revolution

Amidst poverty and insecurity, Iraq’s performers, artists and writers are building spaces of learning and laughter for their country’s street children. Jo Wilding is both participant and privileged witness to the birth of an Iraqi civil society.

Colombia: in evil hour

The man I will call Jose Miguel used to be director of a health clinic in a small town in Colombia. One day a group of paramilitary fighters arrived and set up camp in the clinic for several days. After they had left, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) arrived. They threatened Jose Miguel with death because he had, they said, “collaborated” with the paramilitary.

In another village, a health worker was threatened by the paramilitary for allegedly offering medical assistance to the FARC. Both have fled their homes and are now among the displaced in Bogota. In Colombia’s forty years of armed conflict, and especially in the last fifteen, such stories have become so commonplace that individually they attract little attention: only the collective suffering weighs enough to be acknowledged – the experience repeated in its hundreds of thousands. But the details of lives disrupted and destroyed, and the steady erosion of any peaceful, civic ground in a country increasingly defined and conditioned by its armed extremes – this is a story now almost untold and untellable in Colombia.

America's Iraq predicament

Iraq’s Shi’a population is reeling from devastating assaults during a religious ceremony. Do the attacks reveal the military desperation of the insurgents, or their political sophistication?

Pakistan: inside the nuclear closet

Abdul Qadeer Khan, regarded as the “father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb”, was accused then pardoned by President Musharraf for his role in trafficking nuclear technology. What sort of man is Qadeer, and what does his story reveal about the United States’s role in Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation? A nuclear physicist from Pakistan reports.

An ordinary power, Japanese-style

Japan is learning a new geopolitics. Its sense of identity, capacity, and relation to the world is shifting amidst great economic, military and regional pressures. But what kind of foreign policy model will Japan choose? One of the country’s foremost analysts explores the possible answers to a reopened question.

The Pakistan frontier

The United States, fearful of a Taliban resurgence and hopeful of capturing Osama bin Laden, is escalating its operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But is its own understanding of the “war on terror” a gift to its enemies?

Somalia: exit into history?

The warring factions that have devastated Somalia have signed their latest, fourteenth peace agreement in neighbouring Kenya. A clear-eyed observer of his country’s affairs asks if it can open a space for normal life and politics.

Somalia is justly regarded as one of the poorest and most backward places in the world – the quintessential ‘failed state’.

Return to Baghdad

After long exile from Iraq, Raeid Jewad’s second return visit to Baghdad is an extraordinary mixture of hope and tragedy.


The United States faces an acute political challenge in creating a viable client regime in Iraq. Routine insurgency continues. A "coup" in Fallujah and the near-miss of General Abizaid add a third dimension to a dangerous mix.

Immanuel Kant and the Iraq war

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant developed his thought in the era of global conflict sparked by the American and French Revolutions. His response was an appeal to enlightenment, law and reason. Two hundred years on, the distinguished English philosopher Roger Scruton asks: where would Kant’s principles lead him today?

The India-Pakistan summit: hope for Kashmir?

Three Indo-Pakistan wars since 1948, and a bitter insurgency costing 60,000 lives since 1989, have failed to resolve the conflict over Kashmir. Will a three-day summit of the two states in Islamabad open the way to a just peace in the contested territory?

The next Iraqi state: secular or religious?

Will Iraq’s new state define its people as secular citizens, religious believers or members of a tribe? Sami Zubaida sees the Iraqi Governing Council’s arguments over “personal status” issues – including marriage, family, and women’s rights – as the latest, vital chapter of a struggle for democracy and the rule of law across the Middle East.

Istanbul: my mother's city

Cem Özdemir is a child of Istanbul who became Germany’s first member of parliament of Turkish origin. The terrorist bombs of November 2003, he writes, attack the city’s most precious inheritance: its multicultural, tolerant heart.

The 'greater middle east initiative': vision or mirage?

The human and financial costs of the Iraq war, and doubts about its true motives, are fuelling domestic criticism of the Bush administration. Its riposte is a mixture of low politics and high rhetoric.

Iraqi realities, American dilemmas: a New York debate

What political choices should the United States now make in Iraq? Christopher Hitchens, Mark Danner, Samantha Power and David Frum debated recently in front of a packed New York audience. James Westcott was there.

Next stop Lebanon?

The “war on terror” faces problems in its Iraqi and Afghan theatres. Pakistan is a gnawing worry, Syria an irritation, for United States planners. Their possible response? Widen the battlefield.

Iran between worlds

How do Iranians see the world – its foreign policy establishment, its dissident intellectuals, and its ordinary people? Charles Grant, recently in Tehran for a week's discussions, presents a vivid portrait of a political system under pressure.

Changing the script

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq will lead the United States and Britain to invoke humanitarian concerns as the war’s primary justification. The evidence of their long entanglement with Saddam’s regime tells a different story.

The silent wounds of Gujarat

A new report highlights a neglected aspect of the massacre of Muslims in India’s western state of Gujarat in 2002: brutal sexual violence against women.

The balance of follies

The patriotic duty of Palestinians? To stay in bed. The interest of Israelis? To let them be. Iraqi writer Khalid Kishtainy’s unique perspective on endless violence.

The next betrayal? The Kurds and their 'friends'

Iraqi Kurds have struggled for self-determination for eighty years. Iraq can have no peace – and the United States may lose an ally in the Middle East – if their rights are again denied, argues a Kurd who originally supported the US-led of Iraq invasion in 2003.
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