Capitulation, capitulation, capitulation: the UK government’s relationship with the City of London

The current crisis exposes weaknesses in a development strategy that puts financial services at the heart of Britain’s political economy. But the City of London depends heavily on its role as a major tax haven in its own right. John Christensen, Director and International Coordinator of the Tax Justice Network, explains how the UK has led the world in de-regulating financial services, in promoting tax havens, and in resisting moves to strengthen international cooperation. Having become the victim of its own follies, the UK urgently needs a new development strategy, but how can any government – progressive or otherwise – resist the strongest political lobby in the world?

Sri Lanka: The prospects for peace

The long lasting civil war in Sri Lanka has finally come to an end amid allegations of genocide and human rights violations, and with large numbers of civilians detained in camps. What does the future hold in this war torn society? Jan Jananayagam is a writer and human rights activist who is the UK’s spokesperson for “Tamils against genocide”, an advocacy group that seeks to obtain convictions for genocide. She will look at the current situation in Sri Lanka and the prospects for reconciliation and peace

Civilian & military casualties in Western warfare

maja_zehfussMaja Zehfuss is Professor of International Politics at the University of Manchester. Her current research examines the politics of ethics in the context of war. Drawing in particular on the example of the use of precision bombs, she will talk about the issue of civilian protection in current Western warfare. Her most recent book, Wounds of Memory: The Politics of War in Germany examines the question of memory in the context of German memories of the Second World War and the way in which they are called on to justify positions on the use of military force. She will raise questions about how we should think about deaths in war, both those of civilians and of combatants. Maja has also co-written Global Politics: A New Introduction – see also audio interviews with the authors

Afghanistan: Local Realities and Foreign Myths

Dawood Azami has been a Senior Producer with the BBC World Service for ten years, and won the Global Reith Award for Outstanding Contribution in 2009. A specialist in politics, security and culture in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he will explore some of the myths about Afghanistan and its people prevailing mainly in the Western World. He will talk about the past and present of Afghanistan and the surrounding region by linking the events today with past policies, and will explain how foreign interference has transformed the country into a centre of drug production and a key attraction for militants. He will also assess whether Afghanistan is heading towards stability or anarchy, and the implications for the rest of the world.

The history and histriography of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

avi_shlaimbook_avishlaimThe Gaza war and the recent Israeli elections have shown the continuing intractable nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the challenges that face the new Obama administration in the search for peace in the Middle East. Avi Shlaim is Professor of International Relations at Oxford. He has written extensively on the Arab-Israeli conflict and is a frequent contributor to the newspapers as well as commentating on radio and television on Middle Eastern affairs. He will discuss the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict as the background to an understanding of the current situation in the Middle East.

Ukraine: What is the significance of the Orange Revolution?

The crisis over gas supplies has shown the importance of the Ukraine in relations between Russia and the west and it remains to be seen whether Ukraine will join NATO. Mark Almond teaches at Oriel College, Oxford and has spent time in the Balkans and the former Soviet bloc. He is a frequent commentator in the media on current affairs in Eurasia and is writing a book on the so called colour-coded or “People Power” revolutions. He will
discuss the significance of the orange revolution five years on and the geopolitical importance of the Ukraine.

Peak oil: A case of Cry Wolf?

The spectre of peak oil, the point at which global oil production cannot be increased, seems to have faded now that prices and demand have dropped. But is such over-optimism misplaced? Chris Skrebowski, consulting editor to the Petroleum Review, describes his analysis and findings on the imminence of Peak Oil and the possible impacts of recession in delaying its incidence. He will also briefly discuss some of the measures that can be taken to mitigate the impact of oil supplies becoming constrained and moving into decline. Chris is a Fellow of the Energy Institute, a founding member of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) and sits on the board of the Oil Depletion and Analysis Centre (ODAC). He recently authored one of the two ‘Opinions’ in the recently published ‘Oil Crunch’ report from the Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil & Energy Security.

Pakistan: stable state or global hazard?

Pakistan today is the victim as well as the source of terrorism, and its political stability is of critical importance to the rest of the world. In fact, it is five countries in one: part Saudi Arabia, part Iran, part Turkey, part Afghanistan and part India, and sometimes gives the impression of being a viable state only when it has a military regime and American crutches. But paradoxically these very two factors undermine its viability whenever they come together – Washington loves Pakistan’s army and hates its politicians! M. Ziauddin, the special correspondent and former editor of the leading English language Pakistan newspaper ‘Dawn’, will discuss the political situation and its implications for global peace.

National self-determination: What constitutes the right to secede?

The declaration of Kosovan independence and events in Georgia have shown the explosive nature of demands for self determination. From western to eastern europe and beyond there are unresolved issues of self determination with the potential for serious international repercussions. Dr. Richard Mole is a lecturer in the Politics of Central Europe at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. He has undertaken research on the relationship between national identity and foreign policy and has worked at the University of Pennsylvania’s Centre for the study of ethnopolitical conflict. He will talk about the right to secede and the role of nationalism in demands for self determination.

Richard is the editor of the Discursive Constructions of Identity in European Politics Socio-linguists and discourse analysts have long been aware of the fact that language does not simply describe a pre-existing reality but is rather the medium through which the social world is created and given meaning. While other branches of learning have been slow to take this on board, there is nevertheless a growing awareness of the importance of discourse in the creation of identities and the legitimisation of social structures and moral and political hierarchies. Discursive Constructions of Identity in European Politics brings together specialists from critical discourse analysis and critical approaches to communications, history, literature, media, sociology, politics and International Relations to discuss the discursive construction of identities and analyse how specific identity discourses condition and constrain knowledge and action with regard to various socio-political issues in Europe.

The agony of Zimbabwe, what chance for change?

book_houseofstonechristina_lambChristina first visited Zimbabwe in 1994 and over the last eight years she has made repeated trips back to the country despite the banning of British journalists and was the first journalist to expose Mugabe’s rape camps. In 2005 she was named an enemy of the state by Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba who said she had “a penchant for finding corpses on golf courses”.

Foreign Affairs Correspondent for The Sunday Times, Christina Lamb has spent 20 years on the road since an unexpected wedding invitation when she was just 21 led to her travelling with the mujaheddin fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. Since then Christina has reported from all over the world, becoming one of Britain’s leading foreign correspondents and winning numerous awards. She has covered wars from Iraq to the Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battlefield; interviewed dictators such as General Pinochet and heroes such as Nelson Mandela; lived on a fattening farm in southern Nigeria, and narrowly escaped with her life from a Taliban ambush of British troops in Helmand and was on Benazir Bhutto’s bus when it was bombed.

Her books include the best-selling The Africa House as well as House of Stone: The True Story of a Family Divided in War-torn Zimbabwe; Waiting For Allah – Pakistan’s struggle for democracy; and The Sewing Circles of Herat, My Afghan Years. Her most recent book is Small Wars Permitting: Despatches from Foreign Lands, part memoir and part collection of her reportage.