The Cafés Diplomatiques (Café Diplo)
Cumulative Archive of Cafe Topics for the year 2012
MONDAY JANUARY 23rd - Exploitation, Debt & Aid in Egypt and Tunisia: What Direction for the Revolutions? with Dr Adam Hanieh
In the wake of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, in partnership with the Gulf Arab States, have rushed to offer loans and investment packages to the new transitional regimes. The possible conditionalities attached to these aid packages have provoked widespread concern from the region’s political movements, and need to be seen in the context of ongoing struggles to achieve the social and economic demands that underpinned the uprisings. Dr. Adam Hanieh will examine the logic of financial aid in the Middle East, locating the discussion within the political economy of the uprisings and the neoliberal transformation of the region over the past two decades. Dr. Hanieh is a Lecturer in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and is author of the recently published Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States(Palgrave-MacMillan 2011).
MONDAY FEBRUARY 6th - The Face of Putin's Russia with Tony Wood
The March 2012 elections in Russia seem likely to return Vladimir Putin to power for a third presidential term, despite rising levels of discontent and the ruling party’s dwindling popularity. What is the nature of the system over which Putin has presided, and how has it dealt with the challenges facing this vast multi-ethnic state in the wake of the traumas of the 1990s and in face of the global downturn since 2008? Tony Wood is Deputy Editor of the New Left Review, contributes regularly to Le Monde Diplomatique, and has written extensively about Russia. He will look at the current situation there in the light of the forthcoming elections, and at Russia's relationships with the outside world.
MONDAY FEBRUARY 20th - The energy challenge for UK and Europe with Dr Douglas Parr, Chief Scientist at Greenpeace
Europe and UK face challenges in delivering for the needs of its citizens in a secure and sustainable way. This will explore the challenges facing the UK as part of a European energy system and the routes that we can take to deliver on all fronts. Dr Douglas Parr is Chief Scientist and Policy Director at Greenpeace UK. Currently working on climate change policy in the power, heat and transport sectors, he has previously worked on a number of issues including GM crops, chemicals policy, green refrigeration, marine conservation and bioenergy. He obtained a D.Phil in Atmospheric Chemistry from Oxford University in 1991.
MONDAY MARCH 5th - Whose fault is famine? Starvation in the face of plenty with Dr David Nally
Today, an estimated 10 million people are facing starvation across a vast swathe of Africa including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, and in some areas a child is dying every 6 minutes. Yet hunger is not a natural disaster; it is a human-induced problem that demands political solutions. Fewer than 170 years ago, a similarly terrible famine occurred within the British Isles, then an integral part of the United Kingdom and thus a constituent of the most economically advanced region in the world. From an Irish population of about 9 million, 1 million perished and a further 2 million emigrated in what became known as An Gorta Mór or The Great Hunger. Cambridge lecturer Dr David Nally, whose book Human Encumbrances: Political Violence and the Great Irish Famine was published this year by the University of Notre Dame Press, will discuss the historical causes of famine, with a particular focus on the similarities between the Irish famine and those of the present day.
MONDAY 19th MARCH - SYRIA: THE MOST COSTLY REVOLUTION OF THE ARAB SPRING? with Rana Kabbani.
The 42-year Assad rule in Syria has sparked huge opposition within the country and mounting pressure from the international community to reform or step down. On the first anniversary of Syria's Revolution, will change come to Syria without civil war? What are the prospects for the creation of a democratic political system there?
The Syrian writer and broadcaster Rana Kabbani has written on Syria for the Guardian; is the author of 'Imperial Fictions' and 'Letter to Christendom', and has been a BBC contributor for more than two decades. She will be looking at the current situation in Syria in the context of the wider Arab spring and the internal problems and geopolitical issues that will face the country when the revolution is successful.
MONDAY APRIL 2ND - The Global Tyranny of International Debt with Nick Dearden
All debt is a power relation, and sovereign debt is part of a very deliberate creation of developing country dependency. The burden of crippling debt repayments results in a flow of wealth from poor nations to rich ones, while at the same time creditor countries and their institutions dominate the governments of their debtors, undermining their democracy, and imposing disastrous trade and privatisation policies designed further to increase creditor wealth. Nick Dearden, the Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, will explain how debt is part of a skewed global economic and financial system that requires radical reform if there is to be any hope of eradicating poverty within an environmentally sustainable framework.
Monday April 30th - Does the Chinese miracle herald the collapse of capitalism? with Loretta Napoleoni
The end of the Cold War was thought to signal the triumph of Western capitalism over Communism, but in her new book Maonomics: Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists than We Do, Loretta Napoleoni argues just the opposite. Instead she suggests that we are misconstruing China and its economy even as we acknowledge its growing influence and importance, and are actually witnessing the beginning of the collapse of capitalism and the victory of “communism with a profit motive”: Commi-capitalism. Loretta is an economist and an expert on terrorist financing and money laundering, and advises several governments and international organizations on these issues. She writes and broadcasts widely, and her books have been translated into 18 languages including Chinese and Arabic. The Italian edition of Maonomics won the prestigious Premio dell'Associazione per il Progresso Economico.
Monday 14th May - Iran - Why is the West preparing its public for a new War in the Middle East? with Professor Abbas Edalat
A war on Iran is threatened by the US and its allies if current negotiations and sanctions fail. Professor Edalat discusses recent Iranian history and the myths propagated by western governments and mainstream media in particular concerning Iran's nuclear programme, which are intended to demonize Iran and prepare the public for military action. Professor Abbas Edalat is a professor of computer science and mathematics at Imperial College London and the founder of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)
Monday 28th May - GREECE: AT WHAT PRICE MEMBERSHIP OF EUROPE? with Stathis Kouvelakis.
As the crisis in Greece develops, living standards are on a downward spiral, welfare and health services have virtually collapsed, and the European bail out demands greater austerity which will make the situation even more desperate. Is there a way out of this dark crisis? Dr. Stathis Kouvelakis researches and teaches on political theory at Kings College, London and is an informed commentator on the political and social meltdown that has taken place in Greece. See link to a recent interview. He will talk about the nature and causes of the current crisis there and will look at the prospects for the future of Greece either in or outside Europe.
Monday 24th September: THE EUROPEAN FAR RIGHT: HOW GREAT A THREAT ARE THEY? with Matthew Goodwin.
The economic crisis in Europe has seen a surge of support for far right groups in many European countries. Should we take the threat of these groups seriously or are they marginal players on the European political scene? Matthew Goodwin teaches and researches in the School of Politics and International Relations at Nottingham University and he has specialised in the growth of far right movements in this country and in Europe. He will look at the range of far right groups that have developed in Europe and their likely impact on European politics during a time of economic depression. Matthew Tweets about the European far right here: GoodwinMJ
Monday 15th October - How Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan with Lucy Morgan Edwards
Lucy Morgan Edwards will trace the course of Western military and civil involvement in Afghanistan and provide an insight into the mistakes of the past, the current situation and the likely outcomes for that country. Lucy has spent seven years in the region, including running community development projects in Kandahar during the Taliban period and living with a family of tribal leaders whilst in Jalalabad. She was also an election monitor at the Emergency Loya Jirga, the initial stage of the, so called, democratisation process in Afghanistan. Lucy is author of The Afghan Solution: The Inside Story of Abdul Haq, the CIA and How Western Hubris Lost Afghanistan
A former political advisor to the E U Ambassador in Kabul, where she followed narcotics, security sector reform and civil military affairs, Lucy was also a correspondent for the Economist and Daily Telegraph. Lucy has written papers on post-9/11 Afghanistan, and made presentations on Afghanistan at Chatham House, the Royal Society of Asia Affairs, the Frontline Club and at the House of Commons. see website
Monday November 5th - Offshore Tax Havens: how the wealthy loot the world with Richard Murphy
Tax havens are secrecy jurisdictions lying at the centre of the Global Economy. Half the world’s trade passes through them, and they afford the opportunity to avoid tax, financial regulation, criminal law and democratic scrutiny. They hide trillions of dollars on behalf of banks, multinationals, wealthy individuals and criminals, leaving the rest of society to pay for the public services on which we all depend. Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant, economist and tax expert will discuss this web of corruption and concealment. He is a founder of the Tax Justice Network, director of Tax Research LLP and co-author of 'Tax Havens': How Globalisation Really Works (2009). His most recent book The Courageous State, was published in 2011.
MONDAY NOVEMBER 19th
What drives America’s Global Strategy? with Professor Anatol Lieven
The policies of the United States, both domestic and international, profoundly affect the rest of the world. In the wake of the presidential elections, Professor Anatol Lieven will examine the complex nature of American nationalism and ideology in order to clarify the assumptions that drive US global strategy, especially with regards to America’s reactions to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Professor Lieven holds the Chair of International Relations in the War Studies Department at King’s College, and is a senior fellow of the New American Foundation in Washington DC. He is the author of numerous books, and academic and journalistic articles, and a new edition of his book America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism, has been published this year by Oxford University Press.
Monday 3rd December - What is going on in Mali and the Western Sahel ? with Professor Jeremy Keenan
A semi-arid strip of land bordering the South of the Sahara, the Sahel is at the heart of resource-rich regions. A hide-out for the so-called “Al- Qaeda in Islamic Magreb”, its Western part has this year seen the secession of Northern Mali, a struggle for power between Tuareg separatists and armed Islamist groups, and the destruction of sacred tombs under the new Sharia law. Professor Keenan will discuss the background effect of the “Global War on Terror”, including the roles of Algerian and Western secret intelligence services in the region. He will also examine the significance of cocaine trafficking in this part of Africa. Professor Keenan, from the Department of Anthropology & Sociology at the SOAS, has travelled extensively in the Sahara, and has written a number of books on the Tuareg, including The Lesser Gods of the Sahara: Social Change and Contested Terrain Amongst the Tuareg of Algeria. His Latest books are The Dark Sahara: America’s War on Terror in Africa and its sequel, The Dying Sahara – US Imperialism and Terror in Africa, published this year.
Monday January 21st Global Fault Line: Western Policies and the Middle East with Sami Ramadani
Conflicting geo-political interests in the Middle East makes the region a fulcrum for international conflict. Following the disastrous war against Iraq, the ramifications of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings have further alarmed the US-Saudi-Israeli nexus, and have already led to the NATO intervention in Libya, to calls for greater intervention in Syria, and to Western threats of war on Iran. Sami Ramadani will explore this explosive situation with us. He has been an active participant in campaigns against Saddam's regime and in anti-war and anti-imperialist struggles for many years. He writes and speaks widely on Middle East issues and is a Guardian contributor. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC).
Monday February 4th ANGOLA TEN YEARS AFTER WAR AND THE PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE with Justin Pearce
The Angolan conflict, which had its roots in the anti-colonial struggles of the 1960s, seemed to defy the efforts of peace mediators as it continued until the beginning of the present century. It ended only when the state, buoyed by its status as an emerging oil power, destroyed its long-time enemy by force of arms. Justin Pearce is a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies and has spent time in Angola researching the civil war and its aftermath. As a newspaper journalist, southern Africa correspondent for the BBC news website and BBC world service correspondent in Luanda he had previously gained extensive experience of the Angolan conflict and the politics of southern Africa. He will talk about the political, economic and social challenges a decade after the end of the conflict, considering the social and political legacy of the war alongside the state's ever more important role as a provider of energy to the China and the United States, and the demands of a post-war generation anxious for an equitable distribution of the country's wealth.
Monday 18th February - “Chance for Peace in the Second Decade" with Professor Paul Rogers
A combination of deepening socio-economic divisions and accelerating environmental limits, especially the impact of climate change, makes the next thirty years hugely challenging in terms of world-wide security. Paul Rogers will describe the underlying reasons for the predicament and what needs to be done. Will it be possible to move to a more equitable, emancipated and low carbon world and how important is the "Second Decade" of the 21st Century as the key period for effecting change?
Paul is Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford. He lectures at universities and defence colleges in several countries and has written or edited 26 books, including 'Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century' (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010) and 'Why We're Losing the War on Terror' (Polity, 2008). He is the Oxford Research Group's (ORG) Global Security Consultant and has worked in the field of international security, arms control and political violence for over 30 years. He writes Monthly Briefings analysing the international security situation for the ORG website, and since October 2001 has written a series of influential ORG Reports on international security and the 'war on terror', including 'Global Security After the War on Terror' (November 2009) and 'Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects' (July 2010).
Monday 4th March - Italy's Vote : the impact of the Italian elections on the country and the EU with Dr Toby Abse
When Italy, second only to Greece in the Eurozone for its debt ratio, saw the interest rates of its 10 year bonds increasing beyond 7% on 9th November 2011 (“Black Wednesday”), the EU, ECB and IMF Troika feared Euro currency would collapse should a country with such a large GDP default. Subsequently, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign. Whilst new elections were being scheduled, the neoliberal former European Commissioner Mario Monti was appointed interim Prime Minister. Unsurprisingly, his non-elected “Technical Government” has imposed drastic austerity measures and labour reforms on the country. At last, the Italian people, whose level of mistrust towards its political elite is amongst the highest in Europe, have been invited to participate in new general elections on 24th-25th February 2013. Ten days after these elections take place, Dr Toby Abse will explore their outcome and the likely implications for the Italian people and the rest of Europe, as well as the prospects for a real political alternative in the Peninsula. A lecturer in Modern European History at Goldsmiths, University of London, Dr Abse focuses his research on Italy and has written extensively on the country’s recent politics.
MONDAY MARCH 18TH
The Failure of Capitalism – possibilities for a more rational economic order with Harry Shutt
The endless expansion of production in pursuit of maximum private profit is the basis of our global capitalist economy. This system is environmentally unsustainable, and has also resulted in increasing inequality, enduring poverty, ruinous misallocation of resources and a series of devastating financial crises. Harry Shutt is an economic consultant, commentator and author who has long been a critic of capitalism. He asserts that the system is now outmoded, especially in view of modern technological advance, and that it must inevitably evolve into a less dysfunctional structure. His books include The Trouble with Capitalism: An Inquiry into the causes of Global Economic Failure (1998); A New Democracy: Alternatives to a Bankrupt World Order (2001); The Decline of Capitalism: Can a Self-Regulated Profits System Survive?(2005) and most recently Beyond the Profits System: Possibilities for a Post-Capitalist Era published by Zed Books in 2010.
MONDAY APRIL 15th
Farewell to Justice? The progressive loss of Civil Liberties in the UK with Louise Christian
Since 2001, the civil liberties of British citizens have been progressively eroded. Among other examples, the Extradition Act (2003) allows individuals to be extradited to another country for actions that are not criminal in the UK, and without prima facie evidence of a case against them being presented in a British court. This Act can result in long periods of detention without charge (British citizens have been detained for up to eight years). The proposed Justice and Security Bill, which allows for ‘secret courts’ also poses a potentially fatal challenge to principles underlying the Rule of Law. Louise Christian will discuss this dangerous situation with us. An award-winning British human rights lawyer, and co-founder of the Christian Khan law firm, she is a tireless campaigner in the cause of social justice, and recently acted for former Guantánamo detainee Martin Mubanga and three other Guantánamo detainees in an action against the government and the security services.
Monday 29th April. Remaking cities: exploring contemporary urban policy with Allan Cochrane
In an increasingly urbanized and interconnected world, similar challenges appear to face most modern cities, whether regarding housing, poverty, pollution or security concerns. Whilst institutionalized and proactive attempts to address these issues are not always met with the expected success, neo-liberal policies on the other hand seem to inevitably lead to the gentrification of newly regenerated areas and the migration of the poor further away from their work place. In this talk, Professor Allan Cochrane will explore the issues that are inherent to modern cities, the extent of their globalization and the possible routes towards more inclusive urban policies. The head of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Open University, Professor Cochrane is the author of ”Understanding Urban Policy. A Critical Approach” (Blackwell Publishing, 2006) and “Security - Welfare, Crime and Society” (Blackwell Publishing, 2008). In his current research work, he takes a special interest in the mechanisms that determine urban and regional policies whilst critically engaging with the discourse of sustainable communities.