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Category archive for: International Relations

“Mosaic” versus “Melting Pot”: Passing the Mantle of “A Nation of Immigrants”

Written by Francesca Speed.

On November 8th, the United States elected Donald Trump as its forty-fifth president. Just six days earlier, the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, ending a record-setting 108-year drought. The last time the Cubs won the World Series, Israel Zangwill’s The Melting Pot had just made its theatre debut, and with the election of Trump, one must ask whether the era of using “the melting pot” as a metaphor for the multiculturalism of American society has come to an unceremonious end. Continue reading “Mosaic” versus “Melting Pot”: Passing the Mantle of “A Nation of Immigrants”

Obama’s legacy will be forever tarnished by his inaction in Syria

Written by Scott Lucas.

As his administration winds down, Barack Obama has plenty to be proud of. He can point to international breakthroughs that seemed unthinkable when he took office, from the nuclear agreement with Iran to the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba after almost 60 years. He can cite the concerted international action to stave off economic catastrophe, a more constructive US approach to Latin America, and a solid if cautious relationship with China.

But as far as Obama’s legacy goes, few of these noble achievements will stick to the wall after he gives his farewell speech in January 2017. Instead, he will always be associated with the fate of one country: Syria. Continue reading Obama’s legacy will be forever tarnished by his inaction in Syria

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in International Relations?

 

Written by Vanessa Pupavac.

Martha:            Truth or illusion, George; you don’t know the difference.
George:           No, but we must carry on as though we did.

                                                Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opened on 13 October 1962 under the shadow of the Cuban missile crisis and its literary interpretation has been shaped by the threat of nuclear war. I saw Albee’s play at the National Theatre in 1981, the start of the decade which witnessed the Cold War reignited politically and the threat of nuclear war renewed. The play had not been performed in London for a generation, but the film version starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor had maintained its appeal. Continue reading Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in International Relations?

Chilcot’s verdict: the Iraq War was a failure of oversight and planning

Written by Louise Kettle.

It’s been a long time coming, but the Chilcot Report into the Iraq War, all 2.6m words of it, is finally out. And contrary to some expectations, it’s far from a whitewash.

Although it will take time to wade through the details of this hefty document, it’s already clear that few people have escaped the careful and critical eye of the inquiry – including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the intelligence community, and the military.

The report’s key point is that the Iraq War happened principally because of failures to challenge key parts of the case for war and to plan for the invasion’s aftermath. From the outset, the report makes clear that the war was not one of last resort, that Iraq posed no imminent threat to the UK, that the intelligence assessments the government drew on were ill-founded, and that more peaceful options should have been exhausted before military ones were entertained. Continue reading Chilcot’s verdict: the Iraq War was a failure of oversight and planning

What to expect from the Iraq Inquiry report

Written by Louise Kettle

 Since 23rd June British politics has been focused on the fallout from Brexit, but this week another tremor will be hitting the establishment. On Wednesday the long awaited Iraq Inquiry report will be published. So what should we expect?

  1. A long read

The inquiry into the Iraq War has lasted longer than the war itself. Announced in June 2009 it began hearing evidence in November of the same year. It had the huge scope of examining the run-up to the war, the military action and its aftermath and was tasked with establishing what happened during this time and what lessons could be learned for the future. Continue reading What to expect from the Iraq Inquiry report

Real or not, North Korea’s ‘h-bomb’ is part of a well-planned agenda

Written by Robert Winstanley-Chesters.

North Korea’s announcement that it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb was met with shock and surprise around the world – but there have been months of indications that something in just this vein was on the way.

Kim Jong-Un’s visit to Phyongchon Revolutionary Site near Pyongyang in December 2015 would have passed with little comment were it not for the young leader’s passing mention that his state was ready to detonate a hydrogen bomb. North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, what it calls its “treasured swords”, has only briefly and tenuously been demonstrated, and when Kim made this unexpected announcement, the outside world was sceptical that Pyongyang had really mastered this complicated and demanding technology. Continue reading Real or not, North Korea’s ‘h-bomb’ is part of a well-planned agenda

Obama shows the flaws in America’s efforts to combat ISIS

Written by Simon Reich.

Winston Churchill famously suggested that:

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.

Speaking with his characteristic mix of the compassionate and cerebral, the articulate and analytic, President Obama reminded Americans of the need for “strategic patience” in battling ISIS on Sunday night. He largely rejected Churchillian grand rhetoric. The nearest he got was when he said that “freedom is more powerful than fear.”

What he did was to lay out America’s policy approach. It is one that mixes the domestic and the foreign: a greater emphasis on the regulation of the visa program, community outreach and gun control at home; intensified support for the multilateral forces and the use of intelligence abroad. Continue reading Obama shows the flaws in America’s efforts to combat ISIS

Is this the end of the socialist dream in Venezuela?

Written by Iñaki Sagarzazu.

An alliance of centre-left, centrist and right-wing opposition parties has scored a resounding victory in Venezuela’s parliamentary elections – marking a seismic shift for the country.

Breaking two decades of dominance by the socialist government, the Democratic Unity alliance has won the vast majority of seats, after promising economic and social change.

The government will stay on because president Nicolas Maduro holds executive power, but the sizeable majority won by the opposition is a strong signal that a recall referendum could take place in 2016. Continue reading Is this the end of the socialist dream in Venezuela?

Canada’s new prime minister: who is Justin Trudeau, and how did he win?

Written by Steve Hewitt.

After a hard-fought election, Canada’s Liberal party has won a decisive parliamentary majority, and Canada will soon have an unfamiliar prime minister with a familiar last name. But 43-year-old Justin Trudeau’s rise to the top of Canadian politics was far from certain, even despite his remarkable political pedigree.

His father, the late Pierre Trudeau, dominated Canadian politics between 1968 and 1984, winning four elections and – uniquely for a Canadian politician – building a substantial reputation outside of his home country. Though lionised at the time of his death in 2000 (two of his honorary pallbearers were Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter) he was a controversial and divisive figure in Canada. Loved by many, he was equally loathed throughout his federal political career by numerous voters, particularly across Western Canada and among Quebecois separatists and nationalists.

While the elder Trudeau’s career was unquestionably a success, he still never managed to get higher than 46% of the popular vote. He left his Liberal Party in disarray when he retired, and although the party has won elections since, it has never truly recovered. Continue reading Canada’s new prime minister: who is Justin Trudeau, and how did he win?

Why defeating ISIS with military might is starry eyed idealism

Written by David Alpher.

This past weekend, US-led coalition aircraft targeted the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria. It was one of the “largest deliberate engagements to date,” said a coalition spokesman, and it was executed “to deny [ISIS] the ability to move military capabilities throughout Syria and into Iraq.” The scale of these responses gives a hint both to how concerned we are about such groups–and to how badly we misunderstand how to deal with them.

ISIS–the self-proclaimed “Islamic State”–is the monster of our times, our Grendel. Every pundit, commentator, armchair warrior and presidential candidate, declared and otherwise, claims to have a strategy to defeat them. A steady stream of political statements offering answers to “what do we do about them?” have gotten progressively more hawkish.

Continue reading Why defeating ISIS with military might is starry eyed idealism