This week's editor

Ray Filar

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

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Darfur journal

What is it like to be swept on a whirlwind tour scene of one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world? The director of a western aid organisation describes a recent visit to Darfur in western Sudan.

The death of Arafat and the end of national liberation

The demise of the Palestinian national leader also marks the symbolic end of the anti-colonialist politics that dominated the “third world” after 1945, says Stephen Howe.

Dying for Empire, Blair, or Scotland?

The death of three young Scots soldiers in central Iraq may, says a grieving Stephen Howe, be the decisive moment for Scotland’s democratic nationalism to assert itself over the imperial militarism that sent its sons into a killing–field.

Fallujah fallout

The United States’s overwhelming force will enable it to declare victory after its assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. But at what long-term cost?

Fallujah slaughter, Baghdad anger

The assault on Fallujah is inflicting great political as well as humanitarian damage, reports Dahr Jamail from Baghdad.

Four more years for al-Qaida

The skilful rhetoric as well as the politically–charged content of Osama bin Laden’s latest videotaped message carries a potent warning to the re–elected President Bush.

Iraq and al-Qaida: the connection

America’s occupation of Iraq is making real an imagined link.

Iraq's spiral of violence

The United States is planning to escalate its already intense assaults on key urban centres in Iraq. But is this strategy based on a fundamental misreading of the insurgency?

Anatol Lieven, right or wrong?

Anatol Lieven’s misunderstanding of nationalism, inconsistent liberalism, and personal prejudices deform his judgment of the relationship between Israel, the United States, and the Arab world, says Emanuele Ottolenghi.

Israel, the United States, and truth: a reply to Emanuele Ottolenghi

Anatol Lieven responds to Emanuele Ottolenghi’s fierce criticism of him in openDemocracy.

Israel and the American antithesis

The alliance between the United States and Israel has become a fusion of regressive nationalisms that carries great dangers for both states and for the world, says Anatol Lieven in an edited extract from the Israel chapter of his book, “America Right or Wrong”.

Iran's Israeli factor

Washington is sending mixed signals over Iran’s planned development of nuclear weapons. Will Israel pre–empt its decision by launching an attack?

Iraq - the lost generation

A young Iraqi returns to his devastated homeland and commits himself to help rebuild its future.

America's Iraqi shift: pre-emption or reaction?

The sheer intensity of Iraq’s insurgency is leading the United States to escalate its military assaults. The impact on the war against al–Qaida may be ominous.

What next in Iraq? Follow the oil

A troubled Washington faces urgent choices in Iraq. With exit no option, and victory nowhere in sight, the commandment of a second Bush administration may be: follow the oil.

Losing Iraq

Are the Americans and British facing a humiliating retreat from Iraq? If so, what will be the impact on Iyad Allawi’s government and the timetable for elections in January 2005? Robert Fox, an experienced correspondent who recently met senior military personnel in Iraq, hears their concerns and assesses Iraq’s political prospects.

What al-Zarqawi knows

A Jordanian terrorist in Iraq is using the west’s emotional weakness for satanic ends. Time to stand firm against the hostage–takers, says Douglas Murray.

Iraq: a prospect of war

An escalating Iraqi insurgency is inflicting severe damage on United States forces. The political timetable in Washington will determine the scale and timing of their response.

Iraq: what went wrong?

After eighteen months of tumult in Iraq, it is clear that United States military strategy has resoundingly failed. How, why, and what comes next?

The Pakistan factor

The savage wars in Chechnya and Iraq continue to deplete Russian and American morale, but recent events in Pakistan equally expose the contradictions of the “war on terror”.

Living history: the view from September 2001

The terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 wrenched minds and hearts, but also tested moral and political judgment. Two openDemocracy voices, Todd Gitlin and Paul Rogers, responded with quiet, acute, compelling insight. Three years on, we republish their contributions, unchanged.

The axis of deafness: America, Russia, Israel

The lessons of the Najaf siege, and events elsewhere - Russia, Afghanistan, Israel, and elsewhere in Iraq - suggest that the “war on terror” remains in deep trouble.

The present danger: from 'cold war' to 'war on terror'

The revival of the ideological spearhead of United States anti-communism in the 1980s, the Committee on the Present Danger, mirrors the shifts in American military strategy – and anticipates the consequences of a John Kerry victory.

Who lost Shi'a Iraq?

The resistance of Muqtada al-Sadr’s angry young men to United States forces in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf reveals the failures of post-Saddam reconstruction.

The current epicentre of the “war on terror” is the Shi’a holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq.

Iraq between insurgency and uprising

As United States military forces besiege the Shi’a holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq, their political masters in Washington are calculating whether to extend the “war on terror” to Iran.

Afghanistan's forgotten war

Thirty-three months after the Taliban’s fall, Afghanistan prepares for a national election amid domestic political turmoil, bravura attempts at voter registration, attacks on aid workers, and endemic insecurity. The “war on terror” is far from won here.

Who is accountable for Darfur? An interview with Gareth Evans

A United Nations resolution calls on Sudan’s government to halt the catastrophe in its Darfur region. But Gareth Evans, head of the International Crisis Group, tells Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy that the international community must do even more to press Sudan’s leaders – including holding them criminally accountable.

'Tear down that wall!' The world court and Israel

The International Court of Justice ruling that Ariel Sharon’s barrier across the West Bank breaches international law is both alarm-call and opportunity to the world community, says Eóin Murray in Gaza.

The American army rethinks

The Democratic National Convention in Boston has dominated the American media in the past week, while a range of domestic issues has dominated the European. As a result, coverage of the security situation in Iraq has – until a day of explosive violence on 28 July – declined markedly outside the Arab world. This in no way reflects an easing of the insurgency, which persists in many parts of the country.

Iraq: echoes of Vietnam

The United States’s continuing false optimism over Iraq, and the potential length of the conflict, are making a comparison between the early years of the Vietnam war and the current Iraqi imbroglio unavoidable.

The Butler report: where did Iraq's weapons go?

Official reports in the United States and Britain confirm that United Nations weapons inspectors were effective in dismantling Iraq’s arsenal in the early 1990s. Ron Manley, who helped supervise much of this process, reads the latest British report and sees how its very success later created political problems for the country’s intelligence services.

America's intelligence wars: asking the wrong question

The damning findings of the Senate Intelligence Committee report in Washington on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction highlight larger political failures, says Charles Peña.

On 7 July 2004, The United States Senate Intelligence Committee issued a scathing report of the CIA’s pre–war assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The SWISH Report


You have asked SWISH to undertake an independent analysis of the progress of your campaign, as of mid–July 2004. The report is for your consideration as the SPC, but may also be shown to elements of the leadership. You have asked us to be candid in assessing current threats and opportunities, and also to suggest changes in strategy that may be appropriate in pursuant of your aims.

Al–Qaida aims and context

As we understand it, you have three short–term aims and one long–term strategic objective. The short–term aims are:

Iraq's Israeli factor

As the court appearance of Saddam Hussein reinforces Iraq’s tense political and security situation, Israeli’s military assistance to the Iraqi Kurds adds a potent element to the precarious regional power-balance.

What price sovereignty?!

How should Iraqis react to the appointment of their new government? Abdililah Nuaimi responds to his compatriot Haider Saeed: let’s use this limited space of sovereignty to create a democratic future.
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