My latest column in The Guardian, in the series "Power and Nations":
Basel III: business as usual for bankers
Successful lobbying – or blackmailing – by banks means that financial regulation to prevent another crash is too weak to work
guardian.co.uk, Monday 6 June 2011 19.00 BST
The Volcker rule, named for its leading proponent, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, is intended to limit big banks’ speculative trading in proprietary derivatives and stocks. But...
This is my latest weekly column in "The Guardian" online, in the series "Power and Nations".
Whenever an international problem starts being called a "process", one should immediately become suspicious that the problem itself will not be solved. Indeed, the naming of a problem as a "process" is a way to obscure lack of progress with endless anaesthetising conferences, meetings and statesmanlike speeches.
The climate change "process" demonstrates this dismal rule: after years of...
The following article appeared in Civil Service World:
The Foreign Office has lost its way, says former diplomat Carne Ross, and could learn much from the US State Department
Something seems to have happened to the ‘brain’ of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in recent years. I am not alone in noticing that the quality of UK foreign policy thinking seems to have declined. In a number of cases, UK policy-makers have seemed overly content to stick to superficial generalities,...
This article appeared in The Guardian online on 23 May 2011, the first article in a series called "Power and Nations"
In contrast to action on Libya, the UN has been tardy and timid over Syria's crackdown – thanks to the threat of a Russian veto
There are two reasons why the UN security council has failed, utterly, to react to Bashar al-Assad's murder of hundreds of his own people in Syria. The first is that Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member, has indicated that it will block action. And...
While our attention has been on Libya, the aftermath of bin Laden's death and a hundred other news stories, there seem to me to have been three other stories playing out that are of considerable significance. They are not headline grabbing, but that does not diminish their importance. They are long-term stories of gradual but dramatic change:
1. Banks resist capital controls. This story has been going on since the credit crunch. There is one simple measure to stop another such...
I had not seen this passage until I read it in "Lapham's Quarterly", an excellent new journal of history and ideas. It is taken from Karl Marx's Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1884). According to Lapham's Quarterly, this text was not published until 1959. One could hardly find a more eloquent description of the fundamental alienation wrought by work. Work is not spontaneous activity, but belongs to another; it comprises a loss of self.
"It is true that...
Below is the summary of my new book, "The Leaderless Revolution", to be published by Simon & Schuster (UK) in September, 2011. And before it, a very generous quote about the book from a rather better writer than me:
'So bold, so full of incontestable truths and overwhelming convictions, that it should be read by every diplomat, politician and thinking citizen with the courage to pick it up.'
John le Carré
There are few books that attempt to interpret the world and how...
It is now a commonplace to observe that recent uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere in the Arab world were and are leaderless. In all these cases, no leadership figures have emerged, neither charismatic individuals nor vanguard organisations. These revolutions embody a degree of organisation, including on social media, but not very much; these movements are not top-down, driven by the choices of a small group or individual, or inspired by an ideological rhetoric except...
There was this terrific battle.The noise was as muchAs the limits of possible noise could take.There were screams higher groans deeperThan any ear could hold.Many eardrums burst and some wallsCollapsed to escape the noise.Everything struggled on its wayThrough this tearing deafnessAs through a torrent in a dark cave.The cartridges were banging off, as planned,The fingers were keeping things goingAccording to excitement and orders.The unhurt eyes were full of deadliness.The bullets pursued their...
Here's a quick and provisional analysis of the main provisions of last night's SCR 1973. I am not a lawyer, so my reading may not be wholly accurate, though I have negotiated a lot of these kind of resolutions, including on Libya and Iraq. This analysis should serve as a rough and ready guide.
Overall: the thrust of the resolution is to demand a ceasefire and to impose various military and non-military measures to seek to force the Libyan regime to fulfill its...