09.22.11 | After talking with a lot of people at the UN, and in the leader- and diplomat-packed corridors and lobbies of various mid-town hotels in a rainy New York City, the likely early outcomes of the Palestinian initiative are becoming a bit clearer.  Any observations now however must be stated with a very clear proviso that things are moving fast, and the diplomacy is hectic.  Things may change very suddenly.   It is becoming pretty clear that some of the major powers are intending to... more
09.20.11 | There's a lot of confusion about the PLO's likely attempt this week to gain full membership of the UN.  In particular, many commentators (and the PLO itself) often refer to the initiative as an attempt to gain "recognition" by the UN, which it is not.  The UN does not recognise states; only other states can recognise states (however, UN membership would undoubtedly boost Palestine's claim to be a state).   As a British diplomat at the UN, I helped negotiate Palestine's last "... more
09.12.11 | My cousin told me about this remarkable story.  It illustrates perfectly the arguments of "The Leaderless Revolution": a tragic and difficult problem which an appeal to conventional insitutions could not solve; instead this brave and resourceful couple took matters, peacefully, into their own hands and addressed the problem, with great compassion, directly...   From shipwreck to solidarity   By Rafael Estefania BBC News, Hansala,... more
09.12.11 | I was very privileged to be invited to give a lecture about my newly-published book at the London School of Economics.  It was a great audience, and a very interesting discussion.  You can view a video of the talk here and can hear a podcast of the talk here (the talk lasts about 35 minutes, the Q & A about the same again). more
08.09.11 | In the US and Europe, disillusion with politics is feeding the far right. We need a radical response that returns power to people The recent debacle in Washington, where wrangling over the debt limit has triggered a downgrading of American debt, has underlined the deep incompetence of the US political system. Thanks to needless brinkmanship, particularly by the Republicans, confidence in US debt has been undermined, thereby likely increasing the cost of borrowing – a price that will eventually... more
08.03.11 | One of the arguments of my forthcoming book is that one sign of the failure of government to agree necessary legislation is the seemingly arcane but vital issue of capital requirements for banks.  I discuss this issue in this recent column for The Guardian.  Such requirements arguably would have prevented the recent financial crisis.  Even though the crunch was now two or so years ago, governments worldwide have yet to impose new requirements in most cases, and the so-called... more
07.28.11 |   Somalia: victim of war, famine and a pestilence of policy Facing starvation and instability, Somalia needs the international community to stop propping up a failed status quo and rethink     The news from Somalia is grim. Last week, the UN declared a famine in two southern areas, calling the food crisis Africa's worst since 1991-92 (which was also in Somalia). The UN estimates that a staggering 3.2 million people need urgent assistance. The immediate cause of the crisis was the... more
07.08.11 | The internet's private enterprise How far can we trust the corporations that profit by the personal data millions of us disclose online via social networks Google+ creators claim it has features that trumps Facebook, Twitter and Skype, and makes social networking less rigid. Photograph: Ho/Reuters On the internet, as elsewhere, information is money, and information is power. So why have we given it away so lightly? Something extraordinary has taken place over the last few years.... more
06.28.11 |     Greece's crisis, Europe's nemesis The very idea of European union, always a top-down project without popular assent, faces serious questions of legitimacy Banners set up by protesters in front of the Greek parliament in Athens compare European leaders to Nazis. Photograph: Simela Pantzartzi/EPA With its language of budget cuts and bailouts, the sovereign debt crisis that is now engulfing Europe's economies appears to be a financial crisis. But it is also, and... more
06.13.11 | How might outsiders help fight dictators? As protesters fight dictators across the Middle East, people outside are asking what they can do to help. Traditionally, we tend to look to our own governments to act. As Gaddafi's repression of pro-democracy rebels mounted in Libya, campaigners demanded sanctions and, as the attacks intensified, military intervention. But both forms of government pressure have serious drawbacks and, too often, come very late in reaction to gross repression. In... more