Daily Archives: September 5, 2010

By Daniel Dombey

The heat bore down in Kandahar province and in the relative safety of two military bases the Pentagon chief saw the state of the Afghan war for himself. Dressed in chinos and a baseball cap, Robert Gates was a day tripper with a difference.

His soft, careful speaking style and the way in which he posed for photos with almost every US soldier who crossed his path gave little clue of the defence secretary’s influence in Washington and his beliefs  about the conflict itself. But he most definitely matters. Read more

Both Belgium and the Netherlands seem to be trapped in political limbo – drifting along without governments and unable to form a new coalition.

The political problems of the two neighbours are strikingly similar. Both held elections in the middle of June, within four days of each other. Both ended up with results that were so fragmented that it is proving all but impossible to form a new coalition. In the past couple of days, both the Dutch and the Belgian efforts at forming a new government have collapsed – landing the problem back in the laps of the two countries bewildered monarchs: Albert II of Belgium and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Read more