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This week’s editor

TR, editor

This week Tom Rowley and the oDR team edit the front page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Skinback Fusiliers, Episode Eight

We present the eighth of ten weekly episodes from a brutal novel by an acclaimed British author

How Republican are Alassane Ouattara’s "Republican Forces"?

The Côte d’Ivoire now needs to enter a period of demilitarisation. This faces challenges in the long and the short term arising from the sort of resistance that developed under Bédié and Gbagbo. But there is hope that genuine republicanism might emerge from Ouattara’s violent victory

The future of Islamophobia: the liberal, the Jew, the animal

The ritual slaughter of animals has become the last of many areas of contention that are changing the shape of our public domains. The way in which Islamophobia is becoming a part of our public ‘common sense’ has complex knock-on effects, not least for our Jewish minorities.

Two arrests, a suspension, accusations of Islamophobia: Nottingham University must submit to a public enquiry

A professor was suspended earlier this month after publicly criticising the University of Nottingham's actions three years ago, over the arrest of a student and staff member on terrorism charges. Ryan Gallagher states the case for a public enquiry into the arrests of Sabir and Yezza, both released without charge, and the suspension of Dr Thornton

Xenophobia and the Civilizing Mission

Europe’s civilizing mission is humanitarian - its duty to intervene to spread the good word, protecting the oppressed against local tyrants. The conditions by which this protection is granted are always dictated by the protector and never the protégé. Though this is not said, it is a given.

America’s military: failures of success

The afterglow of Osama bin Laden’s killing fuels the United States’s confidence in its shift towards integration of military and security policy. But it is another grand illusion and missed opportunity.

East European Geographobia

There are particularities of fear in a post-communist Europe bewildered by the demands of neoliberalism, which also tap into a legacy of aversion matured during Communism.

Politics of fear: a frightened left

Nobody has raised real debates in national or supranational parliaments to discuss the excesses of the securitarian discourse. Quite the opposite: the left has adopted the security discourse wholesale as its own and entered into a kind of auction with the right.

Old and new demagoguery: the rhetoric of exclusion

Right-wing populist parties tend to be anti-multinational and anti-intellectual: they endorse nationalistic, nativist, and chauvinistic beliefs, embedded - explicitly or coded - in common sense appeals to a presupposed shared knowledge of ‘the people’.

Xenophobia: Europe’s death knell

The Europe that is dying is the one that remains hostage to its past. Another Europe is not only possible but is in fact fast becoming an urgent necessity. This would be a Europe of vitality, open to connections, that has let go of its civilisational conceits

Deparochializing democratic imaginaries

We needn’t disavow the insights of contemporary democratic theory to explore the intuition that they have been deeply shaped by the experience of democracy in one part of the world, and that this might produce inadvertent gaps or weaknesses in the theory.

Europe and its myopic leaders

Europe’s leaders are reversing their historically generous role in assisting countries out of criminality and fascism. What we are seeing now therefore strikes at the heart of the European project not just the euro.

Crisis - what crisis?

Why is widespread social anxiety fuelling xenophobia rather than criticism of neoliberal capitalism? What role has the state played? Have we arrived at the paradoxical situation where the best we can do is to call on the state to do its job?

Xenophobic Europe

Our guest editor introduced his special feature on the ‘Uses of Xenophobia’, on Europe Day. Here, he maps the new relevance of an open and shared commons to a continent that is once again meeting economic, political and cultural insecurity with a resurgence of aggressive political demagoguery

Iraq and the April Spring: Maliki’s last chance

Just as Iraq’s Prime Minister was putting the finishing touches on an authoritarian edifice in the best Arab tradition, the whole model comes crumbling down.

A message from the front line

Does Europe offer a model for a solution to xenophobia, or is it a major part of the problem; or is it just in a much more confused place altogether?

NATO’s collateral tyrannicide

Will the killing of Osama Bin Laden bring justice and peace to the world? There is a growing body of evidence reaching back through the centuries, to suggest that it will not.

Skinback Fusiliers, Episode Seven

We present the seventh of ten weekly episodes from a brutal novel by an acclaimed British author

The Russians in Afghanistan: part II

In the second part of exclusive extracts from "Afgantsy", Rodric Braithwaite focuses on the soldiers who served in Afghanistan: their music, the dead, the wounded and the ambiguous reaction of their compatriots on their return. Most soldiers found adapting to life back home immensely difficult; some would later nostalgically reflect on their Afghan years as the best of their life.

Al-Qaida and the Arab spring: after bin Laden

The death of the al-Qaida leader is a symbolic moment. But far more important is that the future of his movement - and much else besides - is closely tied to the success or failure of the Arab risings.

Media whizz-kids of the security state

The very idea behind Pakistan's security state is that civilians are expendable, that there is no need to build civilian institutions because we are permanently invaded and the whole world is our enemy

Common sense before troops to Libya

We should focus on strengthening democratic and non-violent processes to stabilise Libya long-term.

R2P is misused

R2P, introduced without the slightest idea of how it has to be implemented, is nothing more than an alibi for half-hearted (Libya) or fully fledged (Ivory Coast) military operations and interventions. With regard to non-combatants (civilians), the UN should and could have done a better, more honest job.

What did Pakistan know?

If America wants Pakistan on side; if it wants to see a stable Pakistan that is not a haven for terrorists and that doesn’t export terrorism, then it needs to recognise that it (America) is the elephant in the room.

Rebuilding Cote d’Ivoire: Lessons from Sierra Leone

To tackle Cote d’Ivoire’s intractable problems after the demise of Gbagbo’s regime, security sector reform, reconciliation, resettlement and development must work in tandem

All the frogs croak before a storm: Dostoevsky versus Tolstoy on Humanitarian Interventions

Dostoevsky was in favor of military intervention in the Balkans, Tolstoy opposed to it. The arguments they put forward are surprisingly relevant to our own current wars.

The Hamas-Fatah unity deal: regional and international power dynamics

Despite the best efforts of the US and its European and regional allies to ignore them, international and regional factors that enabled the domestic power structures to remain in place for so long have also been the focus of protesters’ grievances and demands.

A human right to resist

We need the international community to favour the worldwide groundswell of civil resistance over armed violence. This could be facilitated by a more dynamic and comprehensive interpretation of existing international law in the light of a broader understanding of those rights of which civil resistance is comprised.

A new understanding of the Middle East

There are multiple reasons for looking beyond Islam for our comprehension of this tumultuous region, to culture, to politics, and also to the history of capitalism, foreign interference and domination – its winners and losers. Our reviewer of Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East, by openDemocracy author Sami Zubaida, is drawn to a conclusion regarding having one’s pudding and eating it

Al-Qaeda post-Bin Laden: what next?

The Salafi-jihadist movement is losing its recruitment pool in the Arab world. Its latest strategies look elsewhere, and the death of Osama Bin Laden will not affect these plans.

Skinback Fusiliers, Episode Six

We present the sixth of ten weekly episodes from a brutal novel by an acclaimed British author

Israeli Foreign Minister urges boycott of PA – Hamas government

Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman calls on the International Community to boycott potential Hamas – PA government. Syrian crackdown intensifies as demonstrators continue to defy the regime. Clashes continue between Thai and Cambodian troops over a disputed border region. All this and more, in today’s security briefing…

Terrorism in historical perspective

All human beings are locked into a conflict that will endure for decades, the outcome of which is not certain. In face of it, says Fred Halliday, citizens need five resources: a clear sense of history; recognition of the reality of the danger; steady, intelligent, political leadership; the building of mass support for resistance to this major threat; and above all, a commitment to liberal and democratic values.

(This article was first published on 22 April 2004)

Protecting civilians: too important to be left to the military

Civilian protection requires simple, straightforward dialogue and negotiation with the people who can control whether other people are safe or not. And it works. As soon as you bring guns, tanks and air support into the picture, you are talking about something which more often than not does not work

The Russians in Afghanistan: part I

The Russian experience in Afghanistan is not a simple story. Far from being the imperialist expansion it is sometimes caricatured to be, the Russians stumbled into Afghanistan reluctantly, beset by ideological neuroses, incomplete intelligence, conflicting advice and the pressure of events. oDR is pleased to present the first part of exclusive extracts from Rodric Braithwaite’s “Afgantsy”

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