In this week’s podcast: We ask whether Cameron’s trip to India to build business and commerce relationships has been a success; we ask whether Paul Kagame is likely to hold on to his role as president in the upcoming elections in Rwanda; we ask what the sentencing of former Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch means for the people of Cambodia; we look at the disappearing marshlands of Louisiana.
My latest column is on Afghanistan
Whenever western leaders ask themselves the question, why are we in Afghanistan, they come up with essentially the same reply – “To prevent Afghanistan becoming a failed state and a haven for terrorists.” Until Afghanistan is stable, so the argument goes, we cannot risk withdrawal.
Cameron, Afghan aid and Iran’s nuclear programme
In this week’s podcast: David Cameron faces trying questions on his first visit to America as UK PM, about the Lockerbie bomber Mr Megrahi and the possible involvement of BP in the lobbying for his release; Chilcot inquiry update following the former director-general of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller’s statement on Monday that Blair ignored her advice about going to war with Iraq; aid distribution and corruption in Afghanistan; Iran and its nuclear programme, which may not be as advanced as first thought. Presented by Gideon Rachman with guests in the studio James Blitz, the FT’s defence and diplomatic editor and David Blair, the FT’s Middle East and Africa news editor. Helen Warrell reports on Afghan aid. Produced by LJ Filotrani
I’m off on holiday tomorrow and will not be back until mid-August. I intend to devote the next three weeks to eating nectarines, drinking chilled pink wine and reading books that don’t have much to do with international relations. I will only blog if something really important happens, or I’m bored. Otherwise, this blog will spring back into life around about August 15th.
The International Court of Justice seems to have done its utmost to sit on the fence over the legality of Kosovo’s secession from Yugoslavia. It has ruled that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was legal, but it has not pronounced on the legality of the secession as such. This feels to me like an evasion. Common sense and the norms of free speech suggest that, of course, they are allowed to proclaim their independence. The question is whether the rest of us should recognise an independent Kosovo as a legal entity.
About a month ago, I blogged about the fact that China is now the world’s largest manufacturer. As I pointed out at the time, China seems to be becoming the world’s leading something-or-other, every month. Other recent milestones have been: world’s largest vehicle market and world’s largest emitter of carbon-dioxide. Today, the FT has run another story in this genre. Apparently China is now the world’s largest consumer of energy. This is quite a statistic, since just ten years ago, China was consuming just half the amount of energy used in the United States.
The best take on the generic “China is now the world’s largest….” story has been brought to my attention by Geoff Dyer, the FT’s Beijing correspondent. It is a story from the satirical magazine, The Onion, headlined “China to Overtake US as World’s Biggest Asshole by 2020.” I’m afraid this seems entirely plausible.
My latest column is on UK’s nuclear weapon system
Specialists in nuclear deterrence occupy a world that requires the coldly rational contemplation of completely insane courses of action. Under normal circumstances, this is a world that non-specialists can ignore. But, every now and then, nuclear deterrence becomes a subject of wide public concern. Now is just such a time in Britain.
It is a sunny summer afternoon in London, and the courtyard of St John restaurant is bright and airy. Inside the dining room, however, things are much darker. There is little natural light, the walls are white, the lamps are black and the waiters pad silently around in the gloom.
St John has a reputation as a restaurant for people with a serious interest in food – which makes me wonder why Oleg Deripaska has arranged to meet there. Deripaska, a 42-year-old tycoon who made his fortune by dominating Russia’s aluminium industry, is known for many things: his enormous wealth, his prowess as an industrialist, his political connections and the rumours about his past that have seen him denied visas to visit the US.
As we have all just seen at the World Cup, staging a major international sporting event can be a great way of advertising a country. But it also involves big risks: the minor risks involve logisitics, expensive stadiums and disappointed tourists. The biggest risk is terrorism.
International security analysts are increasingly worried that the Commonwealth Games which will be staged in Delhi in October could be a very tempting target for jihadist terrorists, who have already struck India many times.
Somalia, Iran sanctions, China-US
In this week’s podcast: We turn our attention to the violence which erupted at the weekend in Somalia; we look at what impact the US imposed sanctions on Iran are having; we discuss why American business seems to have gone sour on China.