Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron affirmed their countries' joint commitments to NATO operations in Afghanistan during Cameron's state visit to Washington D.C. The allies vowed to withdraw combat troops by 2014 (NYT), in line with their current strategy, despite a wave of recent violence in Afghanistan. Cameron and Obama also pledged to work toward a diplomatic solution over Iran's controversial nuclear program, while pushing for a leadership transition in Syria to halt the year-long crackdown against opposition forces. FULL POST
Editor's note: Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of the new book"The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."
As a Brit living in America, I remember the Blair/Bush "special relationship" of the early 2000s with great fondness. It seemed that our two countries might remake the world. With Britain providing the vision and America the military muscle, a liberal axis would flex its way through the War on Terror. The U.K. hadn't had such a sense of purpose since the Second World War.
This week, Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in the United States with the express ambition of reviving what he and President Barack Obama now call "an essential relationship." So far the meeting has been cordial. Aside from agreeing to the need to draw down Western forces in Afghanistan, Cameron did his best to look interested in a basketball game in Ohio. He admitted afterward that he didn't have a clue what was going on and promised to explain cricket to Obama. Actually, cricket is very simple: Whoever doesn't fall asleep wins.
Nonetheless, there is an air of anxiety about the visit. While Britain is still broadly committed to the neoconservative vision of George Bush and Tony Blair, Obama is not. The tensions between the two countries have been exacerbated by a British suspicion that Obama simply doesn't like us, that his coolness betrays a mild contempt for us and our utopian visions. FULL POST
Editor's Note: The following article comes from Worldcrunch, an innovative global news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. This article was originally published in Die Welt.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent veto of changes to the E.U. treaty has generated some seriously bad blood among E.U. politicans, one of whom – former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt – has gone so far as to boycott the English language.
Rather than address the Strasbourg-based European Parliament in English, as he normally would have done, Verhofstadt chose instead Tuesday to stick with his native Flemish. “Today, I shall be speaking my mother tongue. English is out of style,” said Verhofstadt, who heads the Parliament’s Liberal faction.
On GPS this week, a truly global show: Guests on Israel and Iran, the Arab Spring, the Euro Zone crisis, and Fareed's take on China.
First, Fareed asks Israeli Defense Minister (and former Prime Minister) Ehud Barak whether Israel is planning a pre-emptive strike on Iran. Then, a political scientist who uses game theory to predict when a dictator will fall: A conversation with Bruce Bueno de Mesquita.
And finally, Fareed’s visit to London: He has a special panel discussion with three British thinkers: Former Foreign Minister David Miliband, the Financial Time's Chief Economics Commentator Martin Wolf, and the Editor of Prospect Magazine Bronwen Maddox. FULL POST
By Andrés Velasco, Project Syndicate
Visit London nowadays and you will notice something strange going on: the worse the British economy tanks, the more fervently Prime Minister David Cameron’s ministers and Tory economists insist that draconian spending cuts are good for economic growth.
Some observers see this as an act of faith (presumably in the virtues of the unfettered market). Others, such as the economist Paul Krugman, see it as an act of bad faith: the Tories just want smaller government, regardless of the consequences for growth.
The question remains whether there is a non-faith-based argument for cutting back spending to stimulate an economy. The answer is yes. In fact, there are two. Academic research has shown them at work in the past – for example, in Ireland and Denmark during the 1980’s. Unfortunately for the Tories, neither case for stimulative spending cuts fits Britain’s predicament today. FULL POST
It has been dubbed the war on waste – London'stalking trash cans designed to discourage street litter. They sing opera or Abba, say hello, and sometimes even burp. Twenty-five of the specially designed trash cans will be dotted around central London and five in Liverpool from October, Sky News reports. Keep Britain Tidy is running the campaign along with arts organization Sing London, it reports.
Sing London's director, Colette Hiller, told Sky News: 'Its ambition is to actually make people care about the place where they live and we want to do that by using fun as a way to bring the best out in people.' Interactive bins have already had success in parts of Europe. In Sweden a talking bin collected three times more rubbish than a normal one nearby. FULL POST
By Gordon Brown, Project Syndicate<
LONDON – Politics trumped sensible economics in the United States this summer, when Congress and President Barack Obama could not agree on taxes, entitlements, deficits or an investment stimulus. Europe’s leaders were also paralyzed – ruling out defaults and devaluations, as well as deficits and stimulus. And, having run negative real interest rates, printed money, plowed in liquidity and subsidized commercial banks, central bankers everywhere – most recently U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke – appear to have concluded that they, too, have reached the limit of what they can do.
As a result, few people today doubt that the world is drifting, rudderless and leaderless, towards a second downturn. The pre-summer debate about whether we faced a “new normal” of slower growth has been resolved: Nothing now looks normal. Muddling through has failed. Unable to conclude a global trade deal, climate-change agreement, growth pact or changes in the financial regime, the world is likely to descend into a new protectionism of competitive devaluation, currency wars, trade restrictions, and capital controls.
But this is not a time for defeatism. Countries claiming to have reached the limit of what they can do really mean that they have reached the limit of what they can do on their own. The way forward to sustained growth and employment is not through a flurry of one-off national initiatives, but rather through global policy coordination. FULL POST
Most people with one word names are rock stars – Bono, Madonna, Cher.
At the UN General Assembly in 2009, Platon photographed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Here's what Platon had to say about that experience. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Jonathan Hopkin is Reader in Comparative Politics at the Department of Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
By Jonathan Hopkin, Foreign Affairs
The riots that caused five deaths and millions of dollars in damage in London and several other English cities earlier this month will prove a test for British Prime Minister David Cameron and his one-and-a-half-year-old Conservative-Liberal Democratic administration.
At the start of the summer, Cameron's economic policy was already on shaky ground. In mid-2010, his coalition government had enacted austerity measures aimed at eliminating Britain's budget deficit - currently more than 150 billion pounds (roughly $248 billion) - within five years.
It introduced a plan to cut public spending by 81 billion pounds ($134 billion) over four years, leading to sharp reductions in welfare benefits and social services in Britain's poorest neighborhoods. The cuts affected social housing benefits, particularly in high-cost London, and policing, with an estimated reduction of 16,000 officers across the country. It is no surprise that most of August's riots took place in areas with high poverty, unemployment and dependency on welfare, nor that the police struggled to respond to the violence. FULL POST
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
After the S&P downgrade of the United States, no country with a presidential system has a triple-A rating from all three major ratings agencies. Only countries with parliamentary systems have that honor (with the possible exception of France, which has a parliament and prime minister as well as an empowered president).
Juan Linz, professor of social science at Yale, argued that parliamentary systems are superior to presidential systems for reasons of stability. In a parliamentary system, he contended, the legislature and the executive are fused so there is no contest for national legitimacy. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Matthias Matthijs is Assistant Professor at the School of International Service of American University and a Lecturer at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is the author of Ideas and Economic Crises in Britain From Attlee to Blair.
By Matthias Matthijs, ForeignAffairs.com
London is burning. And over four consecutive nights, the conflagration has engulfed multiple cities across the United Kingdom, including Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham, and Leeds. According to some early estimates, the total cost of the vandalism and extra police could run into the hundreds of millions of pounds.
In response, British Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled parliament from summer recess for an emergency session, “to stand together” against the looters. He condemned what he dubbed the “sickening scenes of people looting, vandalizing, thieving, and robbing.”
The unrest traces its immediate roots to last Saturday in Tottenham, a London suburb where a protest to commemorate the death of a man who was shot by police trying to arrest him turned violent. What followed was a viral response across the country that spurred many young people to violence, looting, and general disorder.
The riots are set against the backdrop of Britain’s ongoing fiscal and sovereign debt crisis and the coalition government’s politics of austerity. They illustrate the critical connection between class politics and fiscal retrenchment. In some ways, they resemble the British riots of 30 years ago. But the policy solutions of the past - a strong response by the state together with the fruits of neoliberal deregulation - may no longer be available today.