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This week's editor


Our guest editor, Valsamis Mitsilegas, director of the Criminal Justice Centre at Queen Mary University of London, introduces this week’s theme: Privacy and Surveillance in 2016.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Arab Christians: a lost modernity

Arab Christians for centuries played a pivotal role at the heart of Arab societies. The last generation has seen the beginning of a great retreat. Tarek Osman maps the forces that have shaped an epic story.

Iraq's short century: old problems, new perspectives

A leading historian of modern Iraq describes a complex society – of religious and tribal groupings, and competing political ideologies (Arabism, nationalism, communism) – whose oil resources made it invaluable to its colonial masters. Does Iraq’s experience of British rule from the 1920s-1950s offer lessons for its governance today?

(This article was first published on 3 June 2003)

Iraq: the dissonance effect

The rhetoric of victory in Washington has a muffled echo in Baghdad

How to free hostages: war, negotiation, or law-enforcement?

The seizure, and sometimes killing, of civilian hostages is not random violence but part of a deliberate strategy that is changing the relationship between war and politics, says Mary Kaldor. How should citizens, and their governments, respond?

(This article was first published on 29 September 2004)

Russia vs Georgia: a war of perceptions

An intimate past and bitter present make it hard for Russians and Georgians to live as neighbours but impossible to separate completely, says Donald Rayfield.

The Afghan tunnel

A non-military strategy by elements of the United States government offers slim hope of progress in the war against the Taliban.

The partition evasion

A personal, family inheritance of opposition to India's partition later develops into an intellectual conviction that territorial division is almost always bad policy. Sumantra Bose shares his journey through one of the most contested ideas in international politics.

The case for pre-emption: Alan M Dershowitz reviewed

Alan Dershowitz's advocacy of new rules to codify pre-emptive state attacks in the era of "war on terror" is partisan sophistry with chilling historical echoes, says Neal Ascherson.

(This article was first published on 18 May 2006)

Washington’s double vision

The United States needs to keep the focus on al-Qaida while targeting Iran. It isn't easy.

India and Pakistan: partition lessons

The violent territorial rupture of 1947 and its legacy reveal partition to be conceptually flawed and historically ill-grounded as a solution to political antagonism, says Ravinder Kaur.

A modern crematorium: absence in Buddhist India

India is both a secular state and a society of rich religious diversity. A journey between Patna and Varanasi prompts Frank Vibert to reflect on Buddhism's intangible presence in the Indian mosaic. In particular, he asks: does this Indian experience suggest that the endurance of a faith lies not in its power or materiality but in confidence that each generation will rediscover its eternal truths in their own way? Why not then simply shed the fear of loss and decline?

Iraq’s high summer

United States analysts are expressing optimism about the war. How justified are they?

Scotland’s nationalist-Muslim embrace

Scotland's establishment has responded to an abortive terrorist operation by reaffirming support for the country's Muslim minority. The silences as well as the words are politically significant, says Tom Gallagher.

Lebanon divided

Syrian influence across Lebanon's porous borders is intensifying the country's security and political crisis, says Robert G Rabil.

Washington in Lebanon and Palestine: fatal manipulation

The United States's efforts to undermine Hamas and Hizbollah are part of a divisive, unprincipled and dangerous middle-east strategy, says Amal Saad-Ghorayeb.

Weapons of mass consequence

The huge United States military deal with Arab states and Israel will benefit domestic friends and overseas adversaries.

Bologna's lesson for London

The northern Italian city of Bologna, hit by terrorists in August 1980, memorialised as well as mourned. London could take heart from its response, says Geoff Andrews.

(This article was first published on 2 August 2005)

Lebanon and Israel: back seat, front line

Two worlds collide in a London taxi. Bissane El-Cheikh was one.

Pakistan: the enemy within

The violent aftermath of the Lal Masjid siege in Islamabad is clarifying Pakistan's political battle-lines, says Irfan Husain.

A prescription for terror

A substantial number of perpetrators of terrorism are products of a scientific education. Debora MacKenzie asks whether there is a connection and how deep it might go.

The war for Pakistan

The Lal Masjid siege has intensified Pakistan's spiral of violence and emboldened its Islamists, says Maruf Khwaja.

Pakistan's peril

A number of military developments are again making apparent the pivotal character of Pakistan in the war on terror.

Islamism and war: the demographics of rage

Why are so many Canadian and British soldiers dying in Afghanistan? The answer lies not in ideology but in demography, argues Gunnar Heinsohn.

Yemen: murder in Arabia Felix

Yemen tends to be propelled into the media spotlight only with such incidents as the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000 or the killing of seven Spanish tourists in July 2007. But its modern political history deserves to be more widely known on its own account, says Fred Halliday.

Riviera vs Citadel: the battle for Lebanon

The historic contest between two visions of what Lebanon is and should be will shape the country's direction after Hizbollah's war with Israel, says Nadim Shehadi.

(This article was first published on 22 August 2006) 

"Terror doctors": anatomy of a void concept

How can saviours of life become takers? In the wake of the al-Qaida terror plot involving British-based health professionals, Michel Thieren explores the history and idea of the "evil doctor".

Iraq’s pressure-point

The intensification of violence in Iraq is creating political fracture in Washington and narrowing the White House's options.

The car-bomb: terror’s globalisation

A tactic born of political weakness has the power to level the terms of "asymmetrical warfare", says Sajid Huq.

Pakistan signals red

The conflict over a radical mosque in Islamabad has a direct political connection to the region’s military insecurity.

Bosnia's civil society: paths from Srebrenica

The Srebrenica families whose men were killed in the massacre of July 1995 are refocusing their energies on the attempt to bring to change to Bosnia itself, says Ginanne Brownell.

Georgia’s arms race

Georgia's military plans reveal its ambition to reclaim the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia it lost in the wars of the early 1990s, says Vicken Cheterian.

Terrorism: in search of the definite article

The absence of a shared international definition of one of the most toxic words in the political lexicon handicaps efforts to understand the reality behind the term, says Charles Townshend.

London, Glasgow…and Helmand

The response to the abortive attacks on Britain indicates that space is opening for fresh debate about the "war on terror".

Against impunity: justice after torture

The case of four British citizens incarcerated in Saudi Arabia highlights the importance of opening a legal route to redress for torture survivors, says Carla Ferstman.

Balkan strongmen: exit from history

Three generations of powerful, fearful leaders dominated the politics of southeast Europe. Bernd Fischer asks whether the cycle has run its course, or if a fourth generation is possible.

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