The past, present and future of Tony Blair

He could have gone down as one of the great Prime Ministers of all time, a man who took over a fractured and beaten political party, won three consecutive elections and as the Prime Minister that brought peace to Northern Ireland. These are enormous achievements for any politician but instead he will be damned as a man who led his country into an unnecessary and illegal war, some allege he is a unrepentant war criminal lacking only a trial and a cell. …

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Two centuries on, how Special has this Relationship been?

It must rank as one of the most spectacular early Christmas presents ever.  Exactly two hundred years ago, representatives of the British and American governments met in the Flemish city of Ghent to agree a Peace Treaty, ending the increasingly-misnamed War of 1812.  OK, it did not mean that all the fighting was yet over: the two countries’ armies would meet in one final battle in New Orleans just over two weeks later, in which the Americans comprehensively thrashed their …

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Attacking Islamic State vs protecting civilians in Syria?

With the start of US-led air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria this week, and Parliament due to vote today on British military action in neighbouring Iraq, attention is once again focused on the conflict which has cost so many lives since 2011. When G8 leaders met in Fermanagh last year, they committed themselves to helping to bring peace to Syria. The soaring death toll in the sixteen months since, at the hands of Syrian state military, opposition forces and …

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Stopping Islamic State in Iraq: parallels with Vietnam

The ongoing disaster that is Iraq continues. When the Americans (with British help) invaded Iraq in 2003 I must confess to feeling it has the potential to become another Vietnam. As time has gone on that appearance has strengthened centrally in that like Vietnam the Americans would have been wiser not to invade and having made that error the best way to compound it was to leave. The spectacle in Vietnam involved refugees and poor treatment of the old South …

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It’s not the Orange Order “coming down the street, shouting and yelling and waving rifles and pistols”

So, I was going to let this one run til the PCC had its say, but for the record here’s Colin Freeman’s offending dispatch from Baghdad in the Telegraph last week… “Ever since last week, not a day has gone past without them coming down the street, shouting and yelling and waving rifles and pistols,” said Imad Ahmed, a shopkeeper in the Sunni district of Adel in west Baghdad. “They say they will crush the Isis terrorists and anyone who …

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Hasan Turan (Kirkuk Provincial Council) visit to Northern Ireland

20130818 Hasan Turan NI

“Terrorists tried to divide us, but we are now stronger together”: Hasan Turan (Kirkuk Provincial Council) visit to Northern Ireland by Allan Leonard for Forum for Cities in Transition 16 August 2013 On the back of the political assassination of a fellow member of Kirkuk Provincial Council, its Chairman Hasan Turan travelled to Northern Ireland for a weeklong series of meetings and events, to exchange knowledge and experiences in dealing with societal conflict, both in Kirkuk (Iraq) and Northern Ireland. …

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“But today, identity seems more central to politics than ever before.”

Brian’s noting of the advice from Richard Haass to the Israeli government reminded me that there are other places, and administrations, who have received similar ‘lessons’ from The Process™ here.  Afghanistan, for example.  Of course, it always helps to have well-placed friends [writing your speeches! – Ed].  And it’s worth noting that Richard Haass’ role here was not without criticism…  His successor, Mitchel Reiss, has been more forthright in his recounting at times.  ANYhoo…  There’s also Iraq.  Where the BBC now reports Almost every …

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So Dubya that’s all right then

“Their interrogations helped break up plots to attack American diplomatic facilities abroad, Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London, and multiple targets in the United States,” George W Bush has told the Times in a media blitz  to publish his ghosted memoirs  “Decision Points“. What is the British reply? Nothing from the government yet – or from Tony Blair for that matter.   David Davis libertarian former shadow Home Secretary has just said on Radio 4: If you come by information you have to …

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Britain’s “Abu Ghraib.” Lessons of internment ignored

I’m not usually in favour of projecting the past onto the present but in this case the usual mantra,”  lessons have been learned”  has been totally ignored.  First came the relatively mild strictures of the Compton Report      We consider that the following actions constitute physical ill-treatment; posture on the wall, hooding, noise, deprivation of sleep, diet of bread and water.   On 8 February 1977, in proceedings before the ECHR, and in line with the findings of the Parker …

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“But one hopes for the sake of the people of Northern Ireland..”

Out-going Taoiseach Bertie Ahern’s declaration to the US Congress yesterday, live-blogged by Shane, that “Ireland is at peace” [in our time? – Ed] could be viewed as a declaration of the end of US political involvement here.. Maybe.. Mary Alice Clancy emailed a link to a March 2008 article by her Phd thesis examiner, Brendan Simms, of the Centre of International Studies at the University of Cambridge and co-President of the Henry Jackson Society, which sketches out the international dimension, …

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