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06 October 2016 |
The new situation was rammed home to me in a recent trip to a conference in Salamanca, where there is a Scottish seminary, and Madrid, where I have Spanish friends. Everyone I met was shocked at the news and it was as if there had been a death in the family. On the flight back to Edinburgh, it became clear to me that the Brexiteers were about to take my European nationality away from me and replace it with a Little Englander mentality that sees foreigners through a prism of otherness
23 July 2015 |
Iran’s nuclear deal with the UN represents a major breakthrough that could lead to more peace and stability in the region, despite what the critics say. Its policy towards Islamic State is actually much closer to that of the US and the UK than any other country in the region. Convergence of interest against this common enemy could open other doors of dialogue with the West and start a relationship that is no longer hostage to the nuclear issue.
06 May 2015 |
It has certainly been an extraordinary election where, for once, Scotland has played a central role, especially in the realm of new ideas. It will be good for democracy in the UK if the predicted SNP landslide occurs, to put progressive policies ahead of party advantage and ensure the neo-liberals in Cameron's team are stopped from unleashing the same chaos as Mr Abbott in Australia, and compassion, care for the most vulnerable and services such as the NHS remaining in public hands return to centre stage again.
19 March 2015 |
In coming days, a major US-Iran negotiation will conclude in success or failure. As long as the US and Iran remain opposed, the US is much less effective in working for peace and inter-communal harmony in Iraq and Syria. Israel is indifferent to these wider concerns and, fresh from this week's convincing election vistory, a newly invigorated Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to stress that the Iranian nuclear issue is ‘existential’ for Israel.
15 February 2015 |
Sanctions against Russia have pushed Russia and China much closer together. Russia is set to provide two fifths of China’s gas needs after the completion of two massive pipelines. This will easily replace what they have lost in supplying Europe and deliver what the Chinese most crave: security of supply. Meanwhile, Russia has cut off 60 per cent of its supplies of gas into Europe, re-routing it to Turkey, and saying that Europe will have to build its own infrastructure to transport it to the Continent.
03 February 2015 |
The execution of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran is expected to take place on Nusakembangan, a prison island off Central Java. Visitors there are greeted by a sign which translates: 'They are not criminals, just lost people, and it is never too late to repent'. To be executed after you repent, however, is certainly too late. It also diminishes Indonesia. But let’s not write Indonesia off.
15 September 2014 |
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s remarks on the Scottish independence debate were front page news in Great Britain. If Mr Abbott had actually visited Scotland rather than follow the advice of the British PM, he would have seen that the whole debate had centred on the kind of society we wanted – one where social justice is paramount, our National Health Service is not privatised and rights are built into a written constitution.
07 July 2014 |
The recent controversy about whether the Australian government regards East Jerusalem as Occupied, occupied, or disputed, at least made it clear that the Australian government still supports the ‘two state solution’. Now is the time to do something positive to bring the second state into existence.
25 May 2014 |
The cycle of election, opposition protest, social and political instability that provokes a royal approved military intervention underlies how immature democracy is in Thailand. Unfortunately, in the medium term — the next five years — it will be 'same, same' unless there is a circuit breaker. That may come with the next trigger to instability which has to be set off sooner rather than later: the death of a very frail royal person.
07 January 2014 |
With Hugo Chavez's death Latin America has arguably lost the most influential political leader of the last two decades. Chavez was one of those men that Bertolt Brecht called the 'indispensible ones'. He has been the champion of the socially and economically marginalised since he came to power in 1999.
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