Daily Archives: March 19, 2013

Esther Bintliff

“We have no ambition in Iraq, except to remove a threat and restore control of that country to its own people,” President George W Bush said in a short but memorable televised address on March 19 2003.

Today is the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Anniversaries, however arbitrary they seem as preordained moments of pause, offer a chance for reflection that might otherwise get lost amid the 24-hour news cycle. In that spirit, here are just a few of the best anniversary reads we could find. Please share your own recommendations – there is a lot of great stuff out there – in the comments. Read more

Gideon Rachman

Xi Jinping (Getty)

Xi Jinping (Getty)

Fresh from his “surprise” election as president of China last week, Xi Jinping is about to set off on his first foreign trip. Later this week, he will travel to Moscow. The choice is a traditional one, and redolent of the Cold War, when Russia and China were the twin pillars of the Communist world.

Back then, China was the junior partner in the relationship. These days, although the Russians would be reluctant to acknowledge it, China is the more important partner – simply because of the sheer size and dynamism of its economy.

That said, there is a time lag in the way the two countries behave on the international stage. Russia is no longer a superpower, but still has the instinct to demand a central role in the settlement of the big international issues – just look at the role that the Russians have assumed over Syria. By contrast, China is an emerging superpower, but is still loath to take the lead on international issues outside of its immediate neighbourhood. Read more

On the Cyprus crisis:

In other news…

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Geoff Dyer

Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama at a previous meetingBody Language. The worst-kept secret in diplomacy is the bad blood between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. When he was first elected, Netanyahu apparently felt Obama was trying to strong-arm him on settlements. It has been downhill since. There was the time when Netanyahu lectured Obama in the Oval office. Or the time when Obama told Nicolas Sarkozy: “You’re fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day.” Or when Netanyahu appeared to endorse Mitt Romney (he was just being polite to an old friend, the Israelis say). Or when Obama was quoted calling Netanyahu a “political coward”. Given that this squabbling is bad politically for both leaders, expect them to behave like the best of chums this week. Watch for how many time Obama calls Netanyahu ‘Bibi’.

The Peace Process. The White House has done everything it can to play down expectations about the launch of any new initiative on this trip to such an extent that Obama is being accused of going merely as a “tourist”. But given how little the White House has said about what the US might do or how much importance it places in the peace process in Obama’s second term, any hints or suggestions will be pounced upon.

John Kerry. One of the signals on the peace process will be how Obama talks about his new secretary of state, who will be accompanying him on the trip. Some in Washington expect Obama to state publicly that he is tasking Kerry with picking up the reins of the peace process, which would give him much greater authority. Read more