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This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Red lenses on a rainbow of revolutions

Given continued strikes in Iran and the freeing of Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, neither the Burmese nor Iranian struggle for democracy is a story that should be characterized as an example of a failed movement and successful repression. But it is up to us - the global audience - to understand our responsibility in this dynamic.

The Anishinabe and an unsung nonviolent victory in late twentieth-century Wisconsin

In the wake of the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s, many Native Americans adopted civil resistance to fight for rights supposedly guaranteed in the 19th century by the government's treaties with their tribes. This true story is how one tribe in Wisconsin, using nonviolent strategies, prevailed in that fight.

Repression’s paradox in China

From the authoritarian’s perspective, internal dissidents are easy to deal with – put them in jail, have them disappeared, exiled, or executed. It is not so easy to silence the prestigious Nobel committee, however, let alone the international community. Of course, that is exactly why Professor Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Upsurge in repression challenges nonviolent resistance in Western Sahara

Sahrawis have engaged in protests, strikes, cultural celebrations, and other forms of civil resistance focused on such issues as educational policy, human rights, the release of political prisoners, and the right to self-determination. They have also raised the cost of occupation for the Moroccan government and increased the visibility of the Sahrawi cause.

Humiliated Met police is an enemy of free speech

It shouldn’t come as a great surprise that a powerful institution like the UK's Metropolitan Police, wrong footed and deeply embarrassed by the student protest at Millbank on 10 November, would throw its resources into a major operation to hunt down the protesters who had humiliated them.

People power and the new global ferment

People power does not lend itself to the geo-strategic interests of empires or warlords, since it is based on collective action and civic unity, as well as the refusal to comply with existing power-holders. Any movement that opts for civil resistance has to encompass and attempt to represent diverse social groups.

Killing a Mockingbird: Letter to my unborn daughter

There is something about education that confers dignity and breaks chains. It is the reason, dear daughter, why I cannot wait to read you this book once you are born. What Jem and Scot know at 10 and 6 years of age, many adults do not know at 50 and 60 years of age

Rights groups call for investigation into violence in Western Sahara

Rights groups call for international probe into violence in Western Sahara. Cholera reaches Port-au-Prince, confirming health workers’ worst fears. Iraqi politicians finally negotiate government after months of deadlock. Former Navy admirals slam decision to scrap Harriers, claiming the move will jeopardise the Falklands. All this and much more in today's Security Briefing...

Leaving Camp Liberty

An interview with Michael (pseudonym), US citizen, born in 1978, who went to work in Iraq in April 2010 for a company taking care of logistics for the US. After three months at three military bases, he concluded that it would be better for the Americans to leave

Turkey's judgement day: the trial of the Kurds

Margaret Owen, a member of the UK Independent Observer delegation, reports on the KCK trial in Diyarbakir before today's ruling

America vs al-Qaida: the widening war

The signals of growing turbulence in a range of military environments - Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and beyond - send a worrying message to Washington.

Admirals' letter liberated from behind the Times paywall

British naval establishment writes to the Times to protest the planned cuts and warns of dire consequences.

Armenia and Georgia foil latest uranium smuggling plot

Joint anti-nuclear proliferation operation results in multiple arrests in Georgia. One year after Fort Hood shootings, US army outlines plans for radical security overhaul. Somali pirates land largest-ever ransom payment. All this and more in today's security briefing.

Documents at odds: the UK’s national security review

The narrative of the Cold War imposed a simplified vision of the world. The UK’s defence review does move towards an understanding that risks normally associated with domestic concerns now have to be dealt with on a global scale. What it does not do is to create a capability for this kind of intervention

Delegation to Berlin

To mark the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have a true story from its early days. It is about a young man's rites of passage, but also an era of deception, self-deception and co-option, when those who made the journey to the other side could be turned by the Cold War into weapons.

Obama reaches out to Muslims on visit to Indonesia

Obama calls for building bridges with Muslim world. Pro-democratic parties concede defeat in Myanmar. Afghans upbeat about future, according to poll. Troops at Britain's 'Abu Ghraib' trial may be guilty of war crimes. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

Nuclear terrorism: should the UK be concerned?

A secret trial in Georgia has recently confirmed fears that highly enriched uranium is available on the black market. When the UK government is making significant cuts to sensitive areas of national security, there is cause for concern

Russia and Georgia: the Circassian question

A series of recent international conferences have pushed the Circassian question on to the international agenda. Sufian Zhemukhov considers the historical background to the relationships between Georgia and the North Caucasus and possible future developments.

Fears of increased violence after top Mexican drug lord killed during day-long battle

Feared drug lord ‘Tony the Storm’ killed in battle near the US-Mexico border. Post-election fighting causes thousands to flee Burma. Over half of fighters in Somali militias are children, says UN official. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

Kashmir: Why we hate Indian interlocutors

The latest initiative by the Indian home minister to bring an end to the violence in Kashmir through comprehensive talks is met with distrust and incredulity. Kashmiris also have themselves to blame for the dead-end

Why Geert Wilders is not Liu Xiaobo

Cas Mudde was quite right to point out recently how liberal arguments are being used in the interests of illiberal attacks on Muslims. However, in the Dutch case this reflects anything but a progressive national consensus

The voice of Hamas

After escaping an assassination attempt in 1997 and being banned from Jordan in 1999, Khaled Mashal, Hamas leader, made his home in Damascus, where Manuela Paraipan interviewed him last week on Hamas’ approach to the current peace negotiations, his view of Hamas’ strengths, its ongoing commitment to resistance, and the importance of principle in politics.

Some women in Gaza

There are many different social codes governing what women can and can’t do in Gaza, where new fact finding missions are beginning to take an interest in their lives

The lightness of history in the Caucasus

The Caucasus is often depicted as a region of peoples locked in enduring and invariant nationalist enmity. The reality is more complex and therefore more hopeful, says Thomas de Waal.

Iraq, war and WikiLeaks: the real story

The tranche of American military documents released by the WikiLeaks project contains a wealth of detail about the coalition's indifference to civilian life. But the materials also tell a deeper story of “how” war has killed in Iraq, says Martin Shaw.

UK terrorism strategy fails to take comprehensive approach to threat from Yemen and Somalia

UK terrorism strategy fails to take comprehensive approach to threat from Yemen and Somalia. Spike in Haiti cholera cases. New constitution approved by electorate in Niger heralds return to civilian rule. Kenya denies entry to Somali refugees. All this and more in today’s security briefing...

Letter bombing campaign uncovered in Greece

Multiple bombs destined for top-level targets discovered in Greece. Iran chides Russia over decision not to honour arms deal. Months after Kyrgyzstan violence, tensions and resentment still running high. All this and more in today's security briefing.

No more 'Little Boy' and 'Fat Man'

As a political instrument of power projection and status, nuclear weapons carry a peculiarly masculine symbolism. In the 1980s, Greenham women were at the forefront of challenging masculine ideologies of defence and security. We need to seize the initiative and again become the agents of security transformation.

India and Pakistan: what’s the difference?

If India and Pakistan were cut from the same geographic and ethnic cloth, with the same parliamentary-style system, why is India held to be a vibrant democracy today and Pakistan a political basket case?

Yemen: canary in the coal mine

Yemen is a sign of what can go wrong when a country fails to develop political legitimacy and build a sustainable, productive non-oil economy. What kind of augury is this contested transition for the Gulf states and for the world?

Bombing in Istanbul injures dozens on day that PKK ceasefire expires

Bombing in Istanbul main square injures dozens and rattles nerves. Nato to reduce its Kosovo force by half. Iraqi hostage situation ends in bloody tragedy with at least 52 killed. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

Control Orders - what's Britain's problem with the evidence? Is there a US connection

UK anti-terror laws can place people under draconian control orders that are more intrusive than house arrest without any charges made that the accused may learn of. Is the American alliance one of the reasons?

A strategy for North Caucasus: don’t mention politics or religion!

The recently published Russian government strategy paper for the North Caucasus chooses to focus solely on the socio-economic development of the region. The refusal to address key political or religious issues undermines the whole rationale for the document, laments Sergei Markedonov

Ten degrees north: Sudan's melting pot

Encounters with Sudanese in Abyei underline the urgent need for referendum preparation and the scope of tensions on the ground, given the failure of political processes so far

Civil society diplomats at the UN

" We’re not interested in making war safe for women… There are many substitutes for oil, but I can't think of a single substitute for a peace woman." Cora Weiss

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