Middle East

Targeted killings as a ‘divide and rule’ tactic: Part 2

Strategy is a comprehensive long-ranging plan to promote interests in the context of conflict. In theory, strategy “requires both a policy to define its purpose and tactics to make it happen” and thus provides “the bridge between political goals and military means.” Tactics, on the other hand, is defined by Clausewitz as “the sciences and art of organizing a military force, and the techniques for combining and using weapons and military units to engage and defeat an enemy.” (Read More)

UK Politics

Where have the far-right gone?

In the European Elections last year, far-right groups across Europe made unprecedented electoral breakthroughs. Marine Le Pen’s National Front stormed to victory, winning 26% of the popular vote in what the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls described as a ‘political earthquake’. The far-right Danish People’s Party enjoyed similar success, topping the national poll at 27%. More or less openly neo-Nazi parties sent MEPs to Brussels for the first time, with Germany’s National Democratic Party and the Greece’s Golden Dawn winning 1 and 3 seats respectively. (Read More)


Unity or Division? Assessing the impact of the Japanese occupation on modern Indonesia: Part 3

The elimination of Dutch influence and mobilization of the population for the Japanese war effort demanded the systematic indoctrination of Indonesians throughout the archipelago. Although this constant propaganda failed to convince Indonesians of the apparent superiority of Japanese culture, it did, however, intensify anti-Western and nationalistic attitudes, which in the process helped unify Indonesians in their commitment to independence. (Read More)


Unity or Division? Assessing the impact of the Japanese occupation on modern Indonesia: Part 1

When Showa Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies in 1942, different groups began to compete for the goodwill of their new colonial masters. In the course of these events remaining Europeans were either killed or sent as forced labour into Japanese concentration camps. Many Indonesians had welcomed the Japanese as liberators but their hopes were soon balked. The occupying power brutally quelled resistance since its ultimate aim was to incorporate the East Indies into the ’Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere – a Japanese dominated imperial order. (Read More)

'Books are power' / CC

Review: “The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence” by Shaul Mishal & Avraham Sela

Among Israeli politicians and the media there has been a tendency to project a one-sided image of Hamas as being merely a terrorist cell, driven by religious fundamentalism and ready to pursue its stated aim of destroying Israel at any cost. “Islamic and national zeal, bitter opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and strategies of terror and violence against Israel have become the movements hallmark” write Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela in The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence. (Read More)

Photograph: 'Views of Jerusalem' / Flickr
Middle East

Letter to the London Jewish News and the Jewish Chronicle: The Israeli election

Dear Sir,

The Israeli election showed the vibrancy of Israel’s democracy, which as a Zionist I am incredibly proud of. However, I was dismayed by Binyamin Netanyahu’s comments towards Israeli Arabs, where he complained about the high turnout from Israeli Arabs, as some sort of leftist conspiracy that right-wing voters must counteract. Mr Netanyahu, it was an example of democracy in action, where minorities, unlike in the countries surrounding Israel, have the right to vote. (Read More)

'What we're reading' / CC

Salmond might love Scotland, but certainly not her publishing industry

I received a fair amount of coverage for my comments on our late First Minister’s Memoirs. Sadly much of it missed the point I was trying to make. It is a point well worth restating. Here is a man whose income by any estimation is comfortable, and who has pinned his career to talking to the hopes, dreams and aspiration of many Scots. He has told them to stand tall, talked to them of freedom, held a referendum on exactly that subject. And yet when it comes to publishing his account of that very referendum, he simply takes the first train to London. It is a silent statement so stunning that it is astonishing the commentariat of Scotland have not picked up and run with it. (Read More)

'Battle for Britain' / Surian Soosay / CC

Letter to The Herald: The Alex Salmond Memoirs

Dear Sir

Now I would never have expected our ex First Minister to have published with Birlinn Ltd. My own political views are too well known and to expect an ecumenical perspective is perhaps too much to expect of that most tribal of politicians. But there are of course many other smaller Scottish publishers who have supported the Nationalist cause. Many others in this country whose lives and businesses might have been transformed by a gesture from a man who claims a life dedicated to Scotland. (Read More)

Photograph: 'Views of Jerusalem' / Flickr
Middle East

Bye-bye Bibi, Bibi bye-bye?

March 17th is the day of reckoning for Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who polarises the Israeli electorate like no other. In under two weeks time there remains a possibility that the world will wake to the political obituary of Israel’s second longest-serving prime minister. (Read More)

History & Philosophy

Scotland’s Empire in the Sun

A current of thought amongst contemporary historians follows that empires have a life span. Like living organisms they grow, mature and begin to decay in a natural and seemingly inevitable process of decline. This has proven true for the greatest empires known to the world – Rome, Egypt, Spain, Britain and perhaps America today. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels

Lobbying and transparency — it takes two to tango

This morning brings news from Channel 4’s Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph of ‘cash for access’ allegations against senior MPs Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw, two of Westminster’s grandees. Another lobbying scandal that features a total of zero lobbyists, it’s worth noting that had it happened at the Scottish Parliament, the register proposed by the SPPA Committee would have been no help whatsoever. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
UK Politics

Why are we not talking about drugs this election?

Jamaica has set the wheels in motion to bring about the legalisation of the medical marijuana industry. The move is yet another change in the direction of global drug policy that raises the question, in the run up to the 2015 General Election, of why we aren’t discussing legalisation at home. (Read More)

Photograph: 'Westminster Palace' / Pexels
UK Politics

Is British politics in crisis?

British politics entered 2015 battered and bruised. With only a few months until the General Election, it is widely acknowledged that nobody really knows what to expect. What is certain is that democracy in the UK is entering into a period of crisis. It is a crisis that can be viewed from two perspectives – those on the outside of the political bubble and those on the inside. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
World Politics

The Global Politics of Development Funding

When you think of development aid what comes to mind? Is it helping someone in an impoverished country, probably Africa if you live in the UK, find access to water, food or adequate shelter? Or is it vote rigging, corruption and power politics? You would have to be some kind of cynic to think the latter, the kind of person who decries Bob Geldof and Live Aid. (Read More)

World Politics

Charlie Hebdo and my grandmother

But whenever my cousins or me brought up the subject of us being Italian, my grandmother would proudly proclaim: “I’m American.”

And right she was, she was born and raised in the United States. Both my grandparents spoke Italian as well as English. The Italian they learned came from at home, not school. My father and aunt, however, were discouraged from ever speaking Italian. My grandparents wanted to raise their children as Americans. (Read More)

Photograph: Pexels
Latin America

A History of Hypocrisy: The US and Operation Condor

The camp [Guantanamo Bay] has become a symbol of the moral decline of the US in its pursuit of terrorists around the globe. Now home to around 130 detainees, it held more than 800 during President George W. Bush’s reign. Subjected to torture and denied their human rights, prisoners continue to be denied the right to a trial at the hands of the US Government. (Read More)

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon TV interview / Scottish Government / CC

Will Scotland prove to be the Kingmaker?

In little over 4 months, Britain will go to the polls in the most eagerly anticipated General Election in recent memory. As margins go it will be a tightly run. Every single seat will count; incumbents of previously ‘safe’ seats will be looking over their shoulders nervously. Nowhere more so than Scotland, where the stakes are incredibly high as the result may well determine the makeup of the next UK Government. (Read More)

'Scottish Parliament' / Andrew Cowan / CC

Paradise postponed

It’s the scatter-gun approach of psychics the world over. Name all the possibilities, and let the mark’s reaction guide you to the correct answer.

Thus, at the beginning of the referendum campaign, I asserted with all the unwarranted confidence of an English Tory, in a long-prepared lecture, to anyone careless enough to ask, that support for independence would not rise much above the 30% it had consistently polled in the previous thirty years. By the end, I was suffering from a serious bout of electionitis and beginning to think that we (the Yessers – gissa joab) might actually win. (Read More)