The beginning of October marked the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the American-led bombardment of Afghanistan. Seven years later, the Taliban are still fighting. Some 50 insurgents died recently in an assault on Lashkar gar, the capital of Helmand province. Osama bin Laden is nowhere to be found. Has the time come for NATO to declare victory and leave?
The looming bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, and the forced sale of Merrill Lynch, two of the greatest names in finance, mark the end of an era. But what will come next?
Privacy has become a big issue in contemporary jurisprudence. The “right to privacy” is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But Article 8 is balanced by Article 10, which guarantees “free expression of opinion.” So what right has priority when they conflict?
Would it be a great disaster if Iran had nuclear weapons? As a habitual contrarian, I pose the question because almost everyone seems to believe that it would, and that it must be prevented at all costs. But is that true?
Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, has been calling for the creation of a “League of Democracies.” This new international group would possess a formidable military capacity, based partly on NATO and partly on a “new quadrilateral security partnership” in the Pacific between Australia, India, Japan, and the US. Neither Russia nor China, of course, would be invited to join: indeed, McCain wants to exclude Russia from the G8.
It was only to be expected that former US Vice President Al Gore would give this month’s Burmese cyclone an apocalyptic twist. “Last year,” he said, “a catastrophic storm hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China….We’re seeing the consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continual global warming.”
Kosovo’s recent unilateral declaration of independence brought back memories. I publicly opposed NATO’s attack on Serbia – carried out in the name of protecting the Kosovars from Serb atrocities – in March 1999. At that time, I was a member of the Opposition Front Bench – or Shadow Government – in Britain’s House of Lords. The then Conservative leader, William Hague, immediately expelled me to the “back benches.” Thus ended my (minor) political career. Ever since, I have wondered whether I was right or wrong.