Europe flunks the solar panel test

By François Godement in Environment

There is no sector of the European Commission that has a better track record for efficiency and coordination than trade policy. In fact, one could say that trade policy is the sole form of hard power of the European Union, the only area where it is a global power. And there is no more power-charged […]

Chemical weapons, the Middle East, the UN and Syria

By Bob Rigg in Features

Chemical weapons have played a major role in the modern history of the Middle East, and continue to do so. Winston Churchill’s proposal to use planes to drop chemical weapons (CW) from planes onto insurrectionary Mesopotamians early in the British mandate was quashed by his chiefs of staff. France and Spain dropped mustard gas bombs […]

In Tehran, All Eyes on North Korea

By Giorgio Cafiero and Shawn VL in Politics

North Korea’s nuclear weapons and Iran’s purported nuclear ambitions are the subject of constant speculation by Western pundits. However, the connection between the two is often overlooked. Although Northeast Asia and the Middle East are home to different geopolitical realities, the resolution of tensions on the Korean peninsula will almost certainly influence calculations made in […]

Newsletter – May 2013

By Allston Mitchell in Letters

Welcome to the May newsletter. This month we have Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998-2005 writing on Europe’s woes; a review of Professor Jerry Brotton’s latest book “A History of the World in Twelve Maps”; Andrea Baranes on a Financial Transaction Tax for Europe; Paul Rogers OpenDemocracy’s international-security editor on the […]

A History of the World in Twelve Maps

By Allston Mitchell in Arts and Culture

Jerry Brotton’s book “A History of the World in Twelve Maps” is a fascinating account of the development of both the science and art of map-making which he elucidates by looking at the cultural and political environnment in which twelve seminal maps were created. The maps in question cover 2,700-odd years of cartography, ranging from […]

A Financial Transaction Tax for Europe

By Andrea Baranes in Economics and Finance

Here are a few facts: 1) In the postwar period, the amount of money that Wall Street dealt with every year represented approximately 15 percent of the US GDP. In 1975 it was 17 percent, at the end of the 80s it was up to 35 percent and ten years later it reached 150 percent […]

A short history of banks and democracy

By John Keane in Economics and Finance

The following reflection on the subject of banks and democracy has been prepared for a forthcoming OECD meeting in Paris, in late-May 2013. The text is long, stretching the definition of a field note on present-day democracy. But such matters are sadly neglected by contemporary theorists and analysts of democracy.  The unfinished European crisis Five […]

The Erosion of Europe

By Joschka Fischer in Politics

BERLIN – Just weeks ago, the worst of the financial crisis in Europe seemed to be over. Stability seemed to be returning. But appearances proved to be deceptive. A minor problem (at least in scale) like Cyprus, when combined with an almost unbelievable degree of incompetence among the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central […]

In Guatemala, A Mass Grave for the Truth

By Patricia Davis in Politics

In a week of remarkable events and reversals in Guatemala, the genocide trial of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt came to an abrupt halt on April 18 as a judge ruled all proceedings to date invalid. The witnesses who testified for the prosecution—dozens of survivors of mass rape and massacres—would have to testify again if […]

A Legacy of Rogues in Afghanistan

By Jennifer Norris in Politics

Americans who left Zero Dark Thirty thinking that the dark stain of torture is behind us should be cautioned by the U.S. exit strategy in Afghanistan. As the 2014 deadline for ending the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan approaches, U.S. forces have been working with the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police […]

Bonjour Tristesse

By Patrice de Beer in Politics

« Bonjour tristesse », « Hello Sadness ». The title of this novel, written in 1954 by French teenage writer Françoise Sagan about the spleen of post-war youth, could well be used to describe the sad state today of French society as a whole, including its politics and the economy Of course, the whole of Europe – but is […]

A Right Royal Row

By Julian Petley in Features

In the early hours of Monday 18 March an agreement was reached by the Tories, the Liberal Democrats and Labour to set in motion the machinery for creating a royal charter which would underpin the effective self-regulation of the British press and guarantee the independence of the new regulatory system from government. Almost immediately, however, […]

Why the Armenian Genocide Matters for America

By Nareg Seferian in Politics

It’s that time of the year again. The run-up to the 24th of April – Armenian Martyrs’ Day – usually sees a slew of activity in Washington with one of the nation’s most persistent ethno-national lobbies clashing with the millions spent in counter-advocacy efforts by an active long-time member of NATO and close ally of […]

Global Markets’ Time Factor

By Mohamed A. El-Erian in Economics and Finance

BARCELONA – In recent months, the dichotomy between booming financial markets, on the one hand, and sluggish economies and dysfunctional politics, on the other, has loomed large. Yet insufficient attention is being devoted to a critical factor – time, and who controls it – that could well mean the difference between an orderly global resolution […]

The Somaliazation of Syria

By Giorgio Cafiero in Politics

As Syria’s civil war enters its third year, the country’s humanitarian crisis worsens each day and the Levant grows increasingly vulnerable to the conflict’s spillover. In mid-February, the United Nations reported a death toll “nearing 70,000.” Today, one in four Syrians is internally displaced or living abroad as a refugee. No dialogue between the Assad […]

Bird Count at the Coorong

By Alastair Wood in Environment

The internationally recognized wetlands of South Australia’s Murray Mouth, the Coorong and the Lower Lakes (Albert and Alexandrina) are home to a huge range of unique native bird, fish and plant life, as well as providing habitat for migratory birds from as far afield as Siberia and Alaska. Following years of drought, the salinity and […]