Mapping Europe’s external borders

By Michael Wintle in

The European Union (EU) is a legal entity, and is defined in international law by treaties and binding commitments. Its geographical borders are defined (the 28 member states), and the criteria for membership are also defined: in general terms (the famous Article 2, on European values), and specifically in accession treaties. That is the EU. […]

Brazil: back to the future

By Arthur Ituassu in

Even though things can always get worse, it is not easy to imagine a worse situation than today’s for the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and her PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores / Workers’ Party). A host of troubles – corruption scandals, the rise of inflation and unemployment, recession, a radical devaluation of the currency, a fiscal […]

Newsletter – October 2015

By Allston Mitchell in

Welcome to The Global Dispatches, This month, Peter Oborne, the former chief political commentator of the Telegraph, spent two weeks in Damascus and gives a compelling account of people’s struggles and steadfastness in government-held territory; Arthur Ituassu, a leading Brazilian scholar of social and political science looks at the difficult situation facing Brazil and its […]

The siege of Damascus

By Peter Oborne in

I went to Syria under the auspices of the Assad government’s Ministry of Information, accompanied much of the time by a government minder. I had no other means of going to government-held territory. I was unable to cross the lines into other areas, and witness the devastation there caused by the government, and hear responses from […]

“Everything is Happening” by Michael Jacobs

By Allston Mitchell in

Michael Jacobs, the art historian and travel writer specialising in Spain, South America and good food died in January 2014 leaving his book on Diego Velázquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas unfinished. This enigmatic painting had fascinated him all his life even from his earliest years as a schoolboy during an early trip to Madrid and he […]

The Wild Party

By Allston Mitchell in

Life was a lot more fun in the twenties. Joseph Moncure March was still young and was working for The New Yorker back in 1925, but soon after deciding to leave the magazine he wrote his first “Jazz Age” epic poem, The Wild Party. The poem was about Queenie, a low life vaudeville blonde and […]

Search for yield

By David Martinez Miera - Rafael Repullo in

The 2015 Annual Report of the Bank for International Settlements opened with the following sentence: “Globally, interest rates have been extraordinarily low for an exceptionally long time, in nominal and inflation-adjusted terms, against any benchmark”, adding that “[s]uch low rates are the most remarkable symptom of a broader malaise in the global economy… which has […]

Beijing tightens the screws

By Stein Ringen in

Something remarkable is happening in China, or has happened. Slowly but methodically, the system of government is being transformed. In his first three years, Xi Jinping has built a new regime, radically harder than the one created by Deng Xiaoping and that he inherited. The new shape of things became conspicuously visible through a series […]

The state of climate-related negotiations

By Brian Flannery - Jaime de Melo in

Up until the launch of the Doha Round, the climate change and trade regimes evolved separately through stand-alone negotiations, and they remain separate, independent institutions. Linkages between climate and trade were not recognised explicitly in negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) until COP13, when ‘trade and finance’ […]

After Obama: Clinton vs. Sanders

By John Feffer in

Last week, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton gave a major foreign policy speech that provided a glimpse of one possible post-Obama future. In many ways, it was not a pretty picture. But let’s first look at the good points. Clinton endorsed the Iran deal that just squeaked through Congress despite unanimous Republican opposition. “Either we […]

A climate of conspiracy

By David Runciman in

Arguments about climate change are awash with charges and counter-charges of conspiracy. Climate sceptics routinely deploy terms like ‘hoax’, ‘scam’, ‘cover-up’ and ‘deception’ to describe what they are up against. The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future is the entirely typical title of a book by US Senator James Inhofe. The […]

Newsletter – September 2015

By Allston Mitchell in

Welcome to The Global Dispatches, Denis Galligan, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford, asks “if Magna Carta is the cornerstone of liberty, why did the Levellers, democratic radicals of the 17th century, reject it as ‘containing many marks of intolerable bondage’?”; Historian David Pietz argues that China’s current water problems are deeply rooted […]

The U.S. Is Betraying the Kurds — Again

By Adil E. Shamoo in

In the country’s last election, the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost its majority in parliament. Though it retained a plurality of seats, it was the party’s biggest setback since coming to power at the beginning of the century. Since then, it’s been unable to form a governing […]

Arms sales to Egypt: rhetoric overtakes reality

By Andrew Smith in

The crackdown in Egypt has intensified over recent weeks, with the arrests of human rights activists and the passing of repressive new ‘anti-terror’ laws. The new legislation has been condemned by Human Rights Watch, which described it as “a big step toward enshrining a permanent state of emergency,” and Amnesty International, which said it would […]

Europe’s refugee crisis: bridges, not fences

By Françoise Sivignon - Janice Hughes in

The inability of the European Union to agree a meaningful response to the current migrant crisis is not only disgraceful, it risks defining the Union’s legacy as a spectacular failure. After the Second World War, Europeans joined hands to build bridges, working together to create societies in which fundamental rights and shared values would be […]

Leviathan comes to Beijing

By Kerry Brown in

It seems counterintuitive. But the book I have read recently which has most helped me understand the Communist Party of China (CPC) has zero connection with the country. It is not about China or produced there, nor written by a scholar of China outside the country, nor does it belong to the vast corpus of […]