Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein Executed

Saddam Hussein was this morning executed via a sham trial . See this opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declaring the "trial" a violation of international law.

Of course the real tragedy here is not the death of a mass murderer, but the fact that he was not fully and properly tried and held to account for all of his crimes. What's particularly galling is that the "trial" was effected by those who had been complicit in the dictator's worst atrocities. The victims deserve better than this.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Site changes

There’ll be a couple of changes to this site over the next few days, hopefully to make it a bit more user-friendly.

The main change is the replacement of the “links” section on the homepage with a new “info” section. The first new feature within that will be the entry below, which recommends a few particularly good websites for further information on the topics I’ve been writing about for the last couple of years. This entry will be permanently linked to from the info section on the homepage.

A lot of blogs have a seemingly endless list of other blogs and websites on the sidebar, which doesn’t seem particularly helpful to me. No information’s given on any of them, so why would you choose to visit one out of any of the other scores of sites listed? Hopefully my list will be a bit more useful. I’ll limit my recommendations to the sites I rate the highest, and give a brief description as well. More changes at the weekend.

Useful links

There's a vast wealth of information on world politics available on the internet. I couldn't begin to namecheck all the best sites, but this is a short selection of those I find most helpful in my own research and writing. If you want to know more about the subjects discussed on The Democrat's Diary then cast your eyes over the list below and click on the links to explore further.

Asia Times
Authoritative analysis of international relations, security and economic issues across

Amnesty International
Global human rights watchdog that compiles and catalogues abuses from around the world. A mine of information.

Christian Aid
Campaigning third world development charity whose publications provide analysis and information on global poverty and the role played by the West.

Conflicts Forum
Run by two eminent, experienced and knowledgeable security and international affairs experts, Conflicts Forum aims to facilitate dialogue between the West and political Islam in the
Middle East, especially over Israel-Palestine. They give some first-rate analysis on the nature of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and the wider political context they operate in. An extremely worthwhile project.

Human Rights Watch
Like Amnesty, a global human rights watchdog that compiles and catalogues abuses from around the world. Also a very useful source of information.

Juan Cole
The blog of US Middle-East expert Juan Cole has become the first stop of the day for thousands around the world who want to understand what’s happening in that region. Cole rounds up the news from the western and the regional press and gives his expert analysis on events as they occur. A daily personal tutorial on Middle Eastern current affairs. Essential.

Whilst I sometimes have my criticisms of Medialens, its still the case that if they didn’t exist someone would have to invent them. Their realtime analysis of the behaviour of the British liberal media is always thought-provoking, and spot-on 95% of the time. On the two most important aspects of
Western Iraq policy – sanctions and the post-invasion death toll – they’ve done some truly invaluable work.

The Network of Activist Scholars of Politics and International Relations, of which I'm a member. Naspir promotes politics and international relations scholarship that supports non-violent action against oppression. It has members around the world and across academic disciplinary boundaries; scholars, students, non-academic activists and interested citizens, with theoretical, empirical and/or campaigning interests.

Noam Chomsky
If Juan Cole’s essential on the
Middle East, Chomsky’s just essential full stop. The most insightful critic of western power alive whose work also constitutes a treasure trove of information and ideas for further reading. This site pulls together interviews, articles, book chapters, audio and video covering his whole career of political dissent.

The Nation
Comment and analysis on the
US political scene.

Paul Rogers
Here, British security expert Paul Rogers gives a monthly briefing on global security issues, from a UK-US angle. His columns for Open Democracy are also worth a visit.

Tom Dispatch
In depth and highly readable comment and analysis from a selection of top quality US writers. All drawn together by Tom Engelhardt – a superbly talented and insightful writer himself, who often adds his own contributions.

War on Want
Same as above on Christian Aid. Good campaigning third world development charity and a great source of information.

War In Context
Daily selection of the best news and analysis of the “war on terrorism” from the world’s press.

Based in the
US, but the exceptionally good left-alternative comment and analysis they offer is really from a global perspective. There’s lots of good stuff here that you probably wouldn’t find anywhere else. The “another world is possible” movement at its best.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford

US Middle East expert Juan Cole, favourably compares former President Gerald Ford - who has passed away - to the current administration in the White House.

One of the few rays of hope coming out of the last few years is the possibility that the ruthless, imperialistic nature of western power has now been decisively revealed, and that it will henceforth be recognised and dealt with as such by those who had previously mistaken it for something else (i.e. the virtuous force it pretends to be).