Foreign Policy

1 October 2021Feature

Sarvy Geranpayeh interviewed Noam Chomsky for Gulf News on 8 September

Gulf News: It was only several months ago that you predicted that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan would cause the collapse of the Afghan army and the government and that’s exactly what’s happened.

That’s what’s [been] unfolding in the last few weeks, as we’ve seen, and yet we see the Biden administration and others express surprise at what’s happened or at least at the speed at which it’s all happened. Where are your thoughts on that?

Chomsky: The basic problem is one that…

1 August 2019Review

Polity Press, 2018; 240pp; £15.99

In this challenging analysis, Dave Wearing examines Britain’s relationship with the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] states – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the UAE and Oman – in the context of modern international capitalism.

From the outset, Wearing dismisses the familiar discourse of ‘British values’, which presents our liberal democracy as being in natural opposition to an authoritarian Middle East, warning that this obscures the far weightier ‘common cause’ held…

1 August 2019Feature

Five academics examine our media's coverage of foreign affairs, in a piece censored (and then rejected) by a leading liberal publication.

Egyptian security forces killed 817 protesters as they cleared the sit-in of Rab'a al-Adawiya Square in Cairo on 14 August 2013. Photo: Amsg07 via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

When Noam Chomsky first observed that the United States had attacked…

1 December 2018Review

Polity, 2018; 224pp; £15.99

Mary Kaldor uses the term ‘security culture’ to refer to any set of tools and practices that a nation state, a non-state actor, or an armed (or unarmed group) uses in seeking to address or perpetuate violent conflict. In this book she focuses on four such ‘security cultures’: ‘geo-politics’, ‘new wars’, the liberal peace and the war on terror, examining their histories, the forces that motivate and sustain them, and their relationships to power.

Of the four security cultures, ‘…

1 August 2018Feature

What if the next British cabinet contains a minister for peace?

By Fibonacci - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Have you heard about the minister for peace and disarmament?

Did you know that the Labour party has promised to establish a minister for peace and disarmament (MPD) if they win the next general election? If so, do you know what policy areas this minister might focus on and how they could work with other…

1 June 2018Comment

Is the US president opening Pandora's box?

US president Donald Trump has taken steps towards war with China and Iran, even as he seeks peace with North Korea. But things may not be quite what they seem.

At the beginning of May, the Trump administration declared trade war on China.

The US gave China a punishing list of economic demands, including a reduction in the US-China trade imbalance by $200bn by June 2020. (This would require the Chinese government to effectively take over the economy, when the US has been…

1 June 2018News

Trump's Korea summit is heading for disaster, argues Milan Rai

US national security advisor John Bolton, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, US president Donald Trump and US vice-president Mike Pence (left to right) on 2 May 2018. Photo: US State Department

We can expect a lot of twists and turns over the next month, before the unexpected 12 June summit in Singapore between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. There is a reasonable way forward that experts agree gives a solid chance for building towards some kind of…

1 December 2017Feature

John Pilger’s 60th documentary examines US strategy towards its main rival

The latest film from John Pilger, the seasoned and world-famous director and journalist, weaves together stories across time and geographic spaces in East Asia, focused on the predominant superpower, from atomic bomb testing to US military base expansion.

It might initially seem puzzling that The Coming War on China focuses not so much on how likely a coming war on China might be, as on the historical advance of US militarism in the Pacific.

This history…

1 April 2017News

Muslim NGO calls for 'courageous introspection' by British society

In the wake of the Westminster terror attack, British society needs ‘courageous introspection’, and ‘a re-examination of the neo-conservative and violent Western foreign and domestic policy towards Muslims’.

That was the response of CAGE, a Muslim NGO ‘working to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror’, to the car-and-knife attack in London on 22 March which had led to five deaths by the time of going to press.

CAGE pointed to ‘the death this month of at…

1 October 2016Review

Clairview Books, 2016; 224pp; £14.99

Mark Curtis’s influential and constantly-useful book Web of Deceit – Britain’s role in the real world was published 13 years ago. Though it’s not made explicit, Britain’s Secret Wars seems to be an attempt to update Curtis’s critical history of UK foreign policy, with TJ Coles exposing often covert wars ‘waged for the financial benefit of sectional interests and result[ing] in widespread crimes against humanity’.

Other similarities to Curtis include endorsements…

1 October 2016News

PN analyses the recent foreign affairs committee report on UK "intervention"

Benghazi residents hold Italian, British, French, US, Qatari and Libyan rebel flags in April 2011.Photo: Al Jazeera English CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

France led the charge against Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 not out of a concern for Libyan civilians, but out of national self-interest. That is the claim put forward in a house of commons foreign affairs committee report on Britain’s participation in the war against Libya, published on 14 September (see box below). This article…

1 August 2015Feature

The case against airstrikes on Syria

US F-15E Strike Eagles returning from the first US airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria, on 23 September 2014. Photo: US air force

On 26 June, Seifeddine Rezgui, a 23-year-old student, murdered 38 people at a beach resort in Sousse, Tunisia. 30 of the dead were British nationals. Subsequent news reports have noted Rezgui received training at an Islamic State (IS – also known as ISIS) base in western Libya.

Speaking to the BBC a few days later, David Cameron argued…

28 September 2014Review

OR Books, 2014; 150pp; £9. Purchase online here:

If you want a concise, thoughtful background briefing on the ISIS crisis, this is it – written by a journalist with three decades of experience in the region. This is a compelling account of how the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has managed to conquer an area the size of Britain. Patrick Cockburn knew something was coming: he nominated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, as the Independent’s ‘man of the year’ for the Middle East on
1 January, days before ISIS…

1 October 2013Review

Serpent's Tail, 2013; 688pp; £15.99

This book offers important insights into US covert military operations over the past decade. While US drone strikes tend to get the headlines, behind the scenes – and perhaps even more lethal – is the work of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) on which much of this book is focused.

In the first 100 pages, Scahill traces the rise of the neocon movement back to Watergate, and…

1 September 2013Feature

New CIA files show US supported Iraqi chemical warfare against Iran

Chemical bombing of Halabja, 1988, pencil (30 x 42cm). Osman Ahmed

As the US and Britain threaten to attack Syria on the basis of an alleged chemical weapons attack on the Ghouta suburb of Damascus, confirmation has emerged of US government complicity in Iraqi chemical weapons attacks during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.

As PN went to press, UN…