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This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor. She introduces this week's special issue with the World Forum for Democracy, asking "Democracy and Equality: Does Education Matter?"

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Afghanistan’s decade of war, and the endgame

The war in Afghanistan is at a critical point as it enters its tenth year – and the view that it is unwinnable can be glimpsed in unexpected places.

Forget Luzhkov: bulldogs under the carpet again

The struggle between Moscow’s mayor Luzhkov and President Medvedev has gripped Russia. What are those’ bulldogs under the carpet’ really fighting about? There are bigger battles going on, explains Vladimir Pastukhov.

Nicolas Sarkozy: a one-trick pony?

In recent months, Nicolas Sarkozy has reinvigorated the question of security in France. But this is nothing new and, given that the French president’s approval ratings reached an all-time low in July, the move is not surprising.

Britain’s security future

The severe cuts facing Britain’s armed forces are also an opportunity to embrace the new thinking they and the country need.

Guinea elections 'postponed' after violence, fraud and delays

Presidential run-off elections in Guinea are postponed after a weekend of violence and ongoing delays in preparation. Four of the most senior surviving Khmer Rouge cadres indicted In Cambodia. eight killed in minibus blast in southeast Turkey. Growing row over Trident renewal threatens coalition. European row over France’s treatment of Roma migrants deepens after EU official compares France’s Roma policy to Holocaust. All this and more in today’s briefing.

Sudan: prospect and lesson

The forthcoming referendum on independence in south Sudan could lead to the break-up of Africa’s biggest country. But if Sudan has failed as a unitary state its end carries dangers, says Richard Cockett.

Kashmir rocked by intensification of violence

Kashmir rocked by intensification of violence. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks overshadowed by violence. US drone strike kills 15 in northwest Pakistan. France blocks extradition of Rwandan genocide suspect. All this and more in today’s security briefing.

US strikes major arms deal with Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia agrees one of the world's largest ever arms deals; Sweeping constitutional reform in Turkey challenges military; US attack drones under the spotlight once again in Pakistan; Large-scale personnel changes for Nigeria's security services; More drug arrests, as Obama contradicts Clinton over Mexico; US considers how to deal with homegrown terrorism. All this and more in today's briefing.

Iran, sanctions and war: fuel of crisis

The international sanctions on Iran reinforce conservative rule. The threat of a military attack by the United States or Israel offers no aid to democratic advance. The result is a standoff on the edge of escalation, says Rasool Nafisi.

Oryol: when the ‘new nobility’ turned terrorist

The sleepy city of Oryol has erupted in terrorism. Investigations revealed how frustration at the state of Russia led security officers — the new nobility as their former boss calls them — to join the Oryol Partisans. Is this a one off or part of a wider movement?

How can we build an effective global peace movement?

If we are to present a credible challenge to the system of interlocking interests that combine to entrench militarism, our movement needs to be able to engage with that complexity. Celia McKeon, Judith Eversley and Steve Whiting join the conversation.

Jamaica's war on gangs

Jamaica is at the forefront of the Caribbean's fight against gangs, but the country needs to recognise that this is a complex struggle in which strong-arm tactics can be counter-productive, argues Robert Muggah and Glaister Leslie.

Material Proportionality: the Paul Hirst Memorial Lecture, 2010

The lecture, given by Eyal Weizman on June 16, 2010 outlined work in progress undertaken to advance Paul Hirst’s thinking at the intersection between three categories and fields of study: conflict, space and law. It focuses on international humanitarian law as it impacts upon the politics of the late Occupation by Israel of the Occupied Territories. We publish two excerpts and in Part Two , a conversation.

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.
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