When Italy, second only to Greece in the Eurozone for its debt ratio, saw the interest rates of its 10 year bonds increasing beyond 7% on 9th November 2011 (“Black Wednesday”), the EU, ECB and IMF Troika feared Euro currency would collapse should a country with such a large GDP default. Subsequently, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign. Whilst new elections were being scheduled, the neoliberal former European Commissioner Mario Monti was appointed interim Prime Minister. Unsurprisingly, his non-elected “Technical Government” has imposed drastic austerity measures and labour reforms on the country. At last, the Italian people, whose level of mistrust towards its political elite is amongst the highest in Europe, have been invited to participate in new general elections on 24th-25th February 2013. Ten days after these elections take place, Dr Toby Abse will explore their outcome and the likely implications for the Italian people and the rest of Europe, as well as the prospects for a real political alternative in the Peninsula. A lecturer in Modern European History at Goldsmiths, University of London, Dr Abse focuses his research on Italy and has written extensively on the country’s recent politics.
A combination of deepening socio-economic divisions and accelerating environmental limits, especially the impact of climate change, makes the next thirty years hugely challenging in terms of world-wide security. Paul Rogers will describe the underlying reasons for the predicament and what needs to be done. Will it be possible to move to a more equitable, emancipated and low carbon world and how important is the “Second Decade” of the 21st Century as the key period for effecting change?
Paul is Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. He lectures at universities and defence colleges in several countries and has written or edited 26 books, including ‘Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century’ (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010) and ‘Why We’re Losing the War on Terror’ (Polity, 2008). He is the Oxford Research Group’s (ORG) Global Security Consultant and has worked in the field of international security, arms control and political violence for over 30 years. He writes Monthly Briefings analysing the international security situation for the ORG website, and since October 2001 has written a series of influential ORG Reports on international security and the ‘war on terror’, including ‘Global Security After the War on Terror’ (November 2009) and ‘Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects’ (July 2010).
The Angolan conflict, which had its roots in the anti-colonial struggles of the 1960s, seemed to defy the efforts of peace mediators as it continued until the beginning of the present century. It ended only when the state, buoyed by its status as an emerging oil power, destroyed its long-time enemy by force of arms. Justin Pearce is a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies and has spent time in Angola researching the civil war and its aftermath. As a newspaper journalist, southern Africa correspondent for the BBC news website and BBC world service correspondent in Luanda he had previously gained extensive experience of the Angolan conflict and the politics of southern Africa. He will talk about the political, economic and social challenges a decade after the end of the conflict, considering the social and political legacy of the war alongside the state’s ever more important role as a provider of energy to the China and the United States, and the demands of a post-war generation anxious for an equitable distribution of the country’s wealth.
Conflicting geo-political interests in the Middle East makes the region a fulcrum for international conflict. Following the disastrous war against Iraq, the ramifications of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings have further alarmed the US-Saudi-Israeli nexus, and have already led to the NATO intervention in Libya, to calls for greater intervention in Syria, and to Western threats of war on Iran. Sami Ramadani will explore this explosive situation with us. He has been an active participant in campaigns against Saddam’s regime and in anti-war and anti-imperialist struggles for many years. He writes and speaks widely on Middle East issues and is a Guardian contributor. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).