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This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Kyiv’s Next Image Problem

The vivid image of democracy - in colour orange - made many Europeans emotionally attached to the idea of Ukrainian EU membership. That is likely to change, writes Andreas Umland. The country is today facing a dangerous anti-democratic challenge — from the new President’s authoritarian turn on the one hand and from a new right-radical movement on the other.

NATO: fiddling with nuclear bombs while the planet burns

Next month NATO members meet in Lisbon to agree on a new Strategic Concept. Rebecca Johnson argues that if we treated nuclear weapons as the previous century’s problem to be disposed of, instead of fetishizing them as instruments of high strategic value, we would stand a far better chance of maintaining global security

Ayodhya: verdict and consequence

An Indian court’s ruling on the Hindu-Muslim dispute over the sacred site of Ayodhya sheds light on the relationship between two forms of rationality in India, says Deep K Datta-Ray.

A Jihadist census: ‘Al Qaeda-Affiliated and ‘Homegrown’ Jihadism in the UK: 1999-2010'

A new report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has collated and published unprecedented levels of data on thousands of individuals implicated in Jihadist terrorism.

Chinese dragon versus Indian tiger

China's military and diplomatic expansion points to an intensifying arms race between the world's two most populous countries, argues Rajeev Sharma.

Targeted sanctions on Mugabe - should the EU appease Jacob Zuma?

The EU must not submit to Zuma's calls for the lifting of sanctions in Zimbabwe, argues Clifford Chitupa Mashiri

Ed Miliband: too light on Iraq

UK Labour leader Ed Miliband drew a political line under Iraq in his conference speech. But a future statesman needs to answer the dilemmas posed by liberal interventionism with more thoughtfulness

The success of Islamophobia

Today, we see that the rules of western European racism are shifting. On the one hand, they are becoming less racialist; on the other hand they are seeking to become official. How should we Europeans understand this, and how should we respond? In the first of her Inter Alia columns, Markha Valenta looks at the cross-continental emergence of Islamophobia.

Chechnya: choked by headscarves

In Chechnya there is official support for attacks on women when they are considered to have ‘flouted’ Islamic rules by not wearing a headscarf or covering up enough. Tanya Lokshina listened to some of the women’s despairing accounts.

From Helmand to Merseyside: Unmanned drones and the militarisation of UK policing

Serious questions must be asked about the use of military-style unmanned drones, pioneered in the war in Afghanistan, in domestic policing.

Colombia’s land reform under a new president

An ambitious new land reform bill, if it is passed, could have a profound impact on Colombia’s prospects for peace

Our weird and wanton wars

Why do we always seem to be at war? Is it because our physical and psychological distance from the carnage helps to sustain our self-belief as a peaceful people?

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.
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