What is going on in Mali and the Western Sahel?

jeremy_keenanA semi-arid strip of land bordering the South of the Sahara, the Sahel is at the heart of resource-rich regions. A hide-out for the so-called “Al- Qaeda in Islamic Magreb”, its Western part has this year seen the secession of Northern Mali, a struggle for power between Tuareg separatists and armed Islamist groups, and the destruction of sacred tombs under the new Sharia law. Professor Keenan will discuss the background effect of the “Global War on Terror”, including the roles of Algerian and Western secret intelligence services in the region. He will also examine the significance of cocaine trafficking in this part of Africa. Professor Keenan, from the Department of Anthropology & Sociology at the SOAS, has travelled extensively in the Sahara, and has written a number of books on the Tuareg, including The Lesser Gods of the Sahara: Social Change and Contested Terrain Amongst the Tuareg of Algeria. His Latest books are The Dark Sahara: America’s War on Terror in Africa and its sequel, The Dying Sahara – US Imperialism and Terror in Africa, published this year.

What drives America’s Global Strategy?

portrait_anatol_lievenThe policies of the United States, both domestic and international, profoundly affect the rest of the world. In the wake of the presidential elections, Professor Anatol Lieven will examine the complex nature of American nationalism and ideology in order to clarify the assumptions that drive US global strategy, especially with regards to America’s reactions to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Professor Lieven holds the Chair of International Relations in the War Studies Department at King’s College, and is a senior fellow of the New American Foundation in Washington DC. He is the author of numerous books, and academic and journalistic articles, and a new edition of his book America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism, has been published this year by Oxford University Press.

Offshore Tax Havens: how the wealthy loot the world

richard_murphyTax havens are secrecy jurisdictions lying at the centre of the Global Economy. Half the world’s trade passes through them, and they afford the opportunity to avoid tax, financial regulation, criminal law and democratic scrutiny. They hide trillions of dollars on behalf of banks, multinationals, wealthy individuals and criminals, leaving the rest of society to pay for the public services on which we all depend. Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant, economist and tax expert will discuss this web of corruption and concealment. He is a founder of theTax Justice Network, director of Tax Research LLP and co-author of ‘Tax Havens’: How Globalisation Really Works(2009). His most recent book The Courageous State, was published in 2011.

How Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan

portrait_lucy_morgan_edwardsLucy Morgan Edwards will trace the course of Western military and civil involvement in Afghanistan and provide an insight into the mistakes of the past, the current situation and the likely outcomes for that country. Lucy has spent seven years in the region, including running community development projects in Kandahar during the Taliban period and living with a family of tribal leaders whilst in Jalalabad. She was also an election monitor at the Emergency Loya Jirga, the initial stage of the, so called, democratisation process in Afghanistan. Lucy is author ofThe Afghan Solution: The Inside Story of Abdul Haq, the CIA and How Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan

A former political advisor to the E U Ambassador in Kabul, where she followed narcotics, security sector reform and civil military affairs, Lucy was also a correspondent for the Economist and Daily Telegraph. Lucy has written papers on post-9/11 Afghanistan, and made presentations on Afghanistan at Chatham House, the Royal Society of Asia Affairs, the Frontline Club and at the House of Commons. see website

The European Far Right: How great a threat are they?

matthew_goodwinThe economic crisis in Europe has seen a surge of support for far right groups in many European countries. Should we take the threat of these groups seriously or are they marginal players on the European political scene? Matthew Goodwin teaches and researches in the School of Politics and International Relations at Nottingham University and he has specialised in the growth of far right movements in this country and in Europe. He will look at the range of far right groups that have developed in Europe and their likely impact on European politics during a time of economic depression. Matthew Tweets about the European far right here: GoodwinMJ

Internal Contradictions of the Indian Democracy: A Critical Perspective

Nitasha Kaul is a London-based Kashmiri novelist, academic, economist, and artist. Her first book was ‘Imagining Economics Otherwise’ (Routledge, 2007) and her novel ‘Residue’ was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2009. She has held university positions in economics, politics, and creative writing in the UK and in Bhutan. Aside from publishing fiction and poetry she has also authored numerous articles on several themes including identity, economy, social theory and democracy. Currently, she is a Visiting Fellow in Politics and International Relations at Westminster, London.

Dr Kaul helps us to examine the protracted disputes of recognition and redistribution that lie at the heart of democratic functioning in India. She will refer to the conflicts in Kashmir, ‘North East’ India and Naxal regions in her discussion of the internal contradictions of democracy in India, making special reference to the political and economic relationships.

Greece: At what price membership of Europe?

stathis_kouvelakisAs the crisis in Greece develops, living standards are on a downward spiral, welfare and health services have virtually collapsed, and the European bail out demands greater austerity which will make the situation even more desperate. Is there a way out of this dark crisis? Dr. Stathis Kouvelakis researches and teaches on political theory at Kings College, London and is an informed commentator on the political and social meltdown that has taken place in Greece. See link to a recent interview. He will talk about the nature and causes of the current crisis there and will look at the prospects for the future of Greece either in or outside Europe.

Iran – Why is the West preparing its public for a new War in the Middle East?

abbas_edalatA war on Iran is threatened by the US and its allies if current negotiations and sanctions fail. Professor Edalat discusses recent Iranian history and the myths propagated by western governments and mainstream media in particular concerning Iran’s nuclear programme, which are intended to demonize Iran and prepare the public for military action. Professor Abbas Edalat is a professor of computer science and mathematics at Imperial College London and the founder of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)

Does the Chinese miracle herald the collapse of capitalism?

loretta_napoleoniThe end of the Cold War was thought to signal the triumph of Western capitalism over Communism, but in her new book Maonomics: Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists than We Do, Loretta Napoleoni argues just the opposite. Instead she suggests that we are misconstruing China and its economy even as we acknowledge its growing influence and importance, and are actually witnessing the beginning of the collapse of capitalism and the victory of “communism with a profit motive”: Commi-capitalism. Loretta is an economist and an expert on terrorist financing and money laundering, and advises several governments and international organizations on these issues. She writes and broadcasts widely, and her books have been translated into 18 languages including Chinese and Arabic. The Italian edition of Maonomics won the prestigious Premio dell’Associazione per il Progresso Economico.

The Global Tyranny of International Debt

portrait_nick_deardenAll debt is a power relation, and sovereign debt is part of a very deliberate creation of developing country dependency. The burden of crippling debt repayments results in a flow of wealth from poor nations to rich ones, while at the same time creditor countries and their institutions dominate the governments of their debtors, undermining their democracy, and imposing disastrous trade and privatisation policies designed further to increase creditor wealth. Nick Dearden, the Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, will explain how debt is part of a skewed global economic and financial system that requires radical reform if there is to be any hope of eradicating poverty within an environmentally sustainable framework.