Monthly Archives: December 2010

Gideon Rachman

What will 2010 be remembered for? In recent years, I’ve devoted my last newspaper column of the year to listing the five most important events of the previous twelve months . This time I’ve decided to do it on the blog, since it’s a topic that deserves to be debated. Here are my picks: Read more >>

Gideon Rachman

First, my apologies for failing to blog for many days. This is not for want of trying, at least occasionally. Some new blogging software has been installed and it had me foxed for quite a while

I will blog about serious subjects in a little while – Russian democracy (or lack of it), Chinese missiles and the like. But, first some trivia. Read more >>

Gideon Rachman

China has finally slipped out the long-awaited announcement that it is building an aircraft-carrier. This should be neither a surprise nor a shock. Everybody who follows the story has known for ages that China intends to build carriers. And why not? The United States, after all, has eleven carrier battlegroups. Even Italy, Argentina and India have two aircraft-carriers apiece. The anomaly is that China hasn’t got any yet. Read more >>

Gideon Rachman

Yesterday it was Athens; on Tuesday it was Rome; this time last week it was London. Urban riots seem to be becoming an almost daily occurrence in Europe.

These are not minor incidents. A former government minister was almost lynched in Athens yesterday. The riots earlier this week were said to be the worst that Rome has experienced for thirty years. In London last week, the demonstrators made headlines by attacking a car carrying Prince Charles. To my mind, even more extraordinary were the scenes of windows being smashed at the Treasury. I can’t remember ever seeing the major departments of state vandalised before. Read more >>

Italy will hold an early general election in 2011. That is the judgment to be made at the end of a dramatic day in the Italian chamber of deputies. Silvio Berlusconi has narrowly won the vote of confidence that threatened to topple him. Read more >>

After two weeks of WikiLeaking, many Americans want to see Julian Assange locked up. Instead, they should give the man a medal. Of course, it is embarrassing and awkward to have all these secret diplomatic cables published. Mr Assange certainly seems to be no fan of the US. Nonetheless, he and WikiLeaks have done America a massive favour, by inadvertently debunking decades-old conspiracy theories about its foreign policy.

Gideon Rachman

Watching the Chinese government’s reaction to the award today of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, I can only conclude that it needs to hire a new PR agency.

The government is outraged by the suggestion that it is a repressive regime that does not respect human rights. So how does it react to the Nobel ceremony today? It rounds up dissidents all over the country. It launches it own rival Confucius Prize for peace -only to find that even the Taiwanese politician awarded the prize appears to be bemused by it. It turns the decision over whether countries will send ambassadors to the Nobel ceremony into a crude trial of strength with the West – and rounds up a veritable rogues’ gallery of authoritarians in support of its position: Iran, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia. Terrific. Read more >>

Each week World Weekly will be focusing on some of the major international political stories that are making the headlines – drawing upon the FT’s team of foreign correspondents and international analysts, to make sense of world events Read more >>

Gideon Rachman

In previous posts, I dismissed WikiLeaks as not such a big deal. Well, that was obviously wrong. I argued that everybody already knew that – for example – Nicolas Sarkozy is vain or Russia is a brutal and corrupt place, so the cables did not add much to the sum of human knowledge.

But that was wrong on two counts. First, there is a difference between an idea being conventional wisdom in the media, and spelled out in a diplomatic cable – both in terms of authority and in terms of political impact. You can see that in the angry reactions to the leaks from everybody from Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to Kevin Rudd, the foreign minister of Australia. (Apparently Rudd is a “mistake-prone control freak”.) Second, with the arrest of Julian Assange on dubious-sounding sexual assault charges – and now the attack on Mastercard’s web-site, apparently by Assange supporters, the whole thing is shaping up into an unpredictable conflict between western governments and internet-based anarchists. Read more >>

This is the time of year when Europeans dream about escaping to somewhere sunnier. London last week offered an unattractive combination of freezing temperatures, Tube strikes and airport closures. To add to the usual seasonal discomforts, much of Europe is in the icy grip of a debt crisis. For all these reasons, I was grateful to get away to somewhere hotter and more optimistic – and to spend much of last week in Dubai, at a meeting of the World Economic Forum.