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This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Forensic Architecture and the speech of things: a conversation

In part two of our coverage of the Paul Hirst Memorial Lecture, 2010 , Eyal Weizman, in conversation with openDemocracy editor, Rosemary Bechler, discusses the challenge of how to use international humanitarian law to permit the articulation of progressive political demands, and why this involves a sure grasp of the kind of elastic space he called the ‘political plastic’

Northern Ireland Secretary quizzed over dissident contacts

Is the British government talking to dissident republicans?

David Miliband can't win a national election because of Iraq

Iraq remains a defining issue of political trust and democracy. The leading candidate in Labour's election has failed to this test.

Don’t sweeten the bitter pill of an illiberal democracy

In Turkey, where there is a weak parliamentary system and power remains heavily concentrated in the majority party, the September 12 constitutional referendum will result in a huge centralisation of power

Should we be worried about Blair's free speech?

The cancellation by Tony Blair of several events on his book tour this week due to fears of disruption by anti-war protesters has led to a misplaced concern in some quarters over the former Prime Minister’s “free speech”.

North Ossetia suicide bombing kills eighteen

A suicide bombing in the restless north caucasian province of North Ossetia kills at least 18 people. A protest in Afghanistan against the proposed burning of Qurans by Florida Pastor Terry Jones leads to bloodshed. Street gangs shut down El Salvador’s public transport for a third day. A suicide attack against Mogadishu airport claims more lives as militant Islamist group Al Shabab tightens its grip on the Somali capital. All this and more, in today’s security update…

Afghanistan: wind of change

The annual report for 2010 of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a leading establishment think-tank, raises the prospect of a shift in western policy in Afghanistan.

Pakistan and America: costs of militarism

Pakistan’s immense problems can begin to be solved only when powerful interests in Islamabad and Washington end their commitment to armed solutions, says Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed.

Blair, Lauren Booth and political islam

Whilst Tony Blair's book tour is repeatedly disrupted by anti-war protesters, his sister-in-law Lauren Booth has a few words to say on his plans for Iran...

Iran: a political calculus

Iran’s hardline leadership is skilled at using external threats to its own advantage. By learning the lesson the United States could aid Iran's people and strengthen its democracy, says Omid Memarian.

Living in the best of times? The violence externality

Contemporary fears of violence, of foreign dictators or local gunmen, are often inflated, misplaced and stoked up by powerful interest groups. Yet in rejecting the irrational moral panics which so often seem to pass as news these days, it is important that we do not fall back on nihilistic complacency or naïve civilisation. Chris Parton argues for a more nuanced, dialectic discussion of violence in the modern world.

Blair's book tour kicks off with a bang

There was an angry reception for Tony Blair at a book signing in Dublin today. In the kind of scenes the ex-Prime Minister is likely to encounter throughout his book tour, angry anti-war protesters pelted Blair with eggs and shoes.

Blair's flawed approach to peace in Northern Ireland

Tony Blair's effort in bringing about the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland is often heralded as his greatest achievement, but the approach he took to the peace process has left a mixed legacy.

America in Iraq: power, hubris, change

The zealous attitudes and fevered misjudgments that drove United States policy towards Iraq in 2003 could yet have a second life over Iran.

Mozambique riots leave six dead

Riots in Mapuso highlight emerging food price crisis. Middle east peace talks kick off despite Hamas attacks. Shia festival hit by bombings in Lahore. Nato air strike blamed for ten fatalities in northern Afghanistan. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

A question of judgement - Iraq and the Labour Party leadership race

With voting in the Labour leadership contest underway, David Wearing examines why the Iraq war was such a fundamental call which has much to teach us about a future leader's judgement.

Healing Sierra Leone: challenges facing the Commission of Inquiry

Messeh Kamara issues an emotional call for reconciliation, courage and openness as Sierra Leone reexamines its past in a proposed Commission of Inquiry.

Iran reinvigorates a strategy for regional dominance

Tehran’s ‘three Persian speaking countries’ project is aimed at subjugating Afghanistan

Obama’s failing middle east policy

Avni Dogru summarises the middle east's falling in and out of love with US President Barack Obama. Without a rapid reversal of US policy, it looks as if the downward trend will only accelerate.

The Iranian regime thrives on the spectre of military confrontation

The increasingly militarised confrontation between the United States, Israel and Iran only strengthens the Ahmadinejad regime's intransigence, allowing it to side step an ongoing crisis of legitimacy.

Rhetoric and reality: the clash of civilisations from Classical Greece to today

The concept of the ‘clash of civilisations’ is usually traced back to Classical Greece. In Classical times as today, this idea of an unbridgeable gap between the West and the Rest does not describe reality, but is instead a line of political rhetoric. The article continues our series Lest we forget, an editorial project in association with History & Policy, asking historians to reflect on wars gone by and the light they shed on present conflicts.

US declares an end to combat operations in Iraq

President Obama declares an end to combat operations in Iraq. Israeli settlers to resume settlement building in Hebron ahead of peace talks. Pakistan blocks British military aid in flood relief efforts. All this and more in today's briefing.

Report implicates Rwanda in crimes against humanity committed in Congo

Rwanda responds angrily to allegations of genocide; Iran tests new generation of ballistic missile guidance system, but maintains it remains committed to terms of nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Ukrainian Security Service accused of adopting Soviet-style tactics against political opposition. CIA worries about wider effects of US citizens' involvement in terrorist activity. India and China contemplate suspending defence exchanges. All this and more in today's security briefing.

Kashmir: a place of blood and memory

In attempting to suffocate a separate Kashmiri identity, India reveals the cracks in its own idea of nationhood, argues Nitasha Kaul.

Netanyahu coalition partner calls for Abbas to "dissappear"

Netanyahu distances himself from Yosef remarks before Israeli-Palestinian talks are set to begin in Washington. Chinese and North Korean media confirm Kim Jong-il visit. Campaign continues against female parliamentary candidates as five are killed in western Afghanistan. Chechen president heads operation that kills nineteen in his home village. All this and more in today's security briefing.

Managing Terrorism, two views reviewed

The one-time head of Downing Street security strategy and an academic expert set out their views on how the authorities should respond to terrorism. One appeals to the 'genius' of the UK's system the other sets out some basic rules.

A formula for failure: the Kabul Conference on the future of Afghanistan

The Afghan mission continues to flounder without direction, over a month after the "future of Afghanistan" was discussed at the Kabul Conference.

Wanted: Economic Equality to Mend Kyrgyzstan

Media reports of disturbances in Kyrgyzstan’s two main cities Bishkek and Osh focused on human rights and ethnicity. However, Balihar Sanghera suggests that the root cause lies in economic inequality.

Israel’s security: beyond the zero-sum

The prospects for progress in the direct Israeli-Palestinian talks in Washington are meagre. But breakthrough is essential if Israel is to be saved from itself.

UN mission fails to protect civilians in the DRC

The UN mission in the DRC is failing to protect civilians, as it emerges that 200 women were raped in a systematic attack in North Kivu earlier month. A US official alleges that Taliban forces have threatened foreign aid workers in Pakistan. A wave of attacks across Iraq raise questions about Iraqi stability. Human rights groups allege that state anti-terrorism drive violates human rights in Yemen. All this and more in today’s briefing...

Why attacking Iran is still completely nuts

The nuclear dispute will not be resolved by negotiation, but that doesn't make an attack on Iran any less absurd.

Beware of meddling in Kyrgyzstan!

Despite deep fissures in Kyrgyz society in the aftermath of the upheavals, external intervention would be counterproductive, advises John Heathershaw. Instead, foreign governments should concentrate their efforts on reducing the stakes of the conflict.

Al-Shabab renew offensive in Mogadishu

More attacks in Mogadishu, as Al-Shabab steps up its campaign against African Union troops. Convicted Islamists escape prison as fears of militant action in Central Asia increase. Russian security forces kill top Causcaus Emirate leader. Report calls for further US-Russian nuclear disarmament. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

Building a global peace movement

How can we build a strong and effective global peace movement?’ Cynthia Cockburn, Howard Clark and Dave Webb reply to Diana Francis

Twenty-first century mercenaries - Afghanistan's answer?

Contracted officers could be the future of international support for the Kabul government, argues Ray Kane.
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