The Great Debate UK

from The Great Debate:

A NATO ally stays on sidelines of fight against Islamic State

U.S. President Barack Obama listens as he hosts a bilateral meeting with Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan during the NATO Summit at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales, in the United Kingdom

Few countries are in a better position than Turkey to help the United States fight Islamic State. The moderate Islamic country shares a 750 mile border with Syria, is a NATO member and a long-time ally of America. But don’t hold your breath for Turkey’s support.

For a long time, Turks have resented the “curse of strategic significance” related to its forming NATO’s southern flank. They felt it enabled the military to keep a watchful eye over their politicians. Likewise, it fueled the politicians’  sense of impunity that shielded them from the need for reform.

This was part of the reason why, at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Turkey refused to provide logistic support for the U.S.-led invasion to bring down Saddam Hussein. The chaos into which Iraq then descended after 2003 only reinforced the ruling AK party’s supporters of the validity of Turkey’s bid to go its own way.

The government calls this policy “zero problems with neighbors.” This self-explanatory catchphrase was introduced by Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish premier and former foreign minister. It signaled the beginning of a new era in Turkish foreign policy, and troubles for Western allies that relied on it.

from The Great Debate:

In Scotland’s capital, ‘Better Together’ are fighting words

RTR46HWU.jpg

Every major road in Scotland is now festooned with signs and billboards saying either “Yes” or the more genteel “No thanks” - but the big difference is that most of the “No thanks” signs have been vandalized.

It’s a small taster of how aggressive and punchy the Scottish independence referendum has become - and why, perhaps, so many “No” voters aren’t daring to raise their heads above the parapet.

from Mark Leonard:

Why Scotland looks like the canary in the independence coal mine

RTR462TE.jpg

Scotland's drive to independence has been interpreted by many as a throwback to ancient identity politics – but many of the trends on display in the Scottish referendum have more to do with the politics of the future than those of the past.

The polls show that this week’s vote is too close to call. There is still a chance that the “No” campaign will ultimately prevail – something that I dearly hope will happen both for the sake of the Scots and the rest of the Britain.

from The Great Debate:

Why vote yes? Scotland’s voice is drowned out in the United Kingdom.

'Yes' campaign people gather for a rally outside the BBC in Glasgow

There are hours to go until people in Scotland answer the question posed to them in an historic referendum: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Some weekend polls revealed a lead for No, while others put Yes ahead. With the race too close to call, what is clear is that a pro-independence vote, once considered fanciful, now is a serious possibility.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Why breaking up Britain could tear apart the EU, too

A bunch of 'Yes' balloons are seen as Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond campaigns in Edinburgh, Scotland

While recent opinion polls have swung slightly back toward the "no" camp, there remains a distinct possibility that Thursday's Scottish referendum will trigger a previously unthinkable breakup of Britain.

If this were to happen, the biggest risks for global businesses and investors do not lie in the economic problems created by Scotland’s choice of currency or the inevitable arguments about sharing North Sea oil revenue and the British national debt. These are crucial challenges for Scotland and have been much discussed in financial institutions and think tanks. But the crucial issue for the world economy and financial markets is about the resulting impact on the European Union -- and especially on Britain, which would remain the world’s sixth largest economy even if Scotland departs.

from The Great Debate:

To beat Islamic State, Obama needs Iran

Masked Sunni gunmen pray during a patrol outside the city of Falluja

President Barack Obama delivered a speech Wednesday night designed for an American public that has been losing confidence in its commander in chief.  Much of his address was about attitude -- we are tough, we will act, we will prevail, but we will do all this with airpower, not boots on the ground (or not many) and in cooperation with friends and allies. This mission will not be a repeat of Afghanistan or Iraq (President George W. Bush’s wars), Obama promised, but will be more like Obama’s campaigns against al Qaeda -- don’t forget he killed Osama bin Laden! -- and the continuing strikes against radical Islamists in Somalia and Yemen.

But the president must know that the Islamic State cannot be treated like the insurgents in Somalia and Yemen. The reason this group has caused such concern is that it is not just one more localized group of violent guerrillas. It is an embryonic state that is beginning to govern large areas of the Sunni heartlands of Iraq and Syria. So it will not easily be bombed into oblivion, nor will it suffice to take out its top leader with a skillfully executed commando raid, as in Pakistan.

from John Lloyd:

No gimmicks, just 10 good reasons why Scotland shouldn’t leave the UK

RTR45DA2.jpg

Readers of a romantic bent, perhaps Scots or descendants of Scots, may think that it would be cool for Scotland to vote for independence from the United Kingdom next Thursday.

If so, here are 10 reasons why they’re wrong. It would mean nationalism  – the call to old loyalties deeper than any civic and cross-national identities – would win. The Scots nationalists are nothing like the proto-fascist groups at large in Europe: indeed, their party is social democratic, liberal in social policy. But the demons unleashed will be stronger than their politics. The countries of Europe have many secessionist movements. Spain has two, in Catalonia and in the Basque country. Belgium is divided between the French Walloons and the Dutch-speaking Flemish. Italy has an old secessionist movement in German-speaking Alto Adige and a new one in the north, claiming a territory called Padania. France has an occasionally violent movement in the island of Corsica. Others will come along. All would be hugely encouraged by Scots independence. It would consume Europe for decades. The UK has been, in the past century, an imperial power, claiming ownership of large parts of the globe, fighting and imprisoning those who sought liberation in Africa, India and elsewhere. U.S. President Barack Obama’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was imprisoned and tortured by the British in Kenya because he was suspected, it seems wrongly, of being a member of a militant pro-independence group, the Mau Mau.But in the latter part of the 20th century and in the 21st, Britain ceased to be part of the problem and strove to become part of the solution. The ‘solution’ is to find a way to manage the world out of confrontation and division into a common effort to attack its real problems – ecological damage, poverty, drought, Islamist and other terrorism. The loss of Scotland would diminish it, weaken its presence internationally, weaken what it does and can do for global governance. The UK is a major and founding member of NATO: it’s a nuclear power. Yet all of its submarine-based nuclear armament is based in Scotland, at a base near Glasgow. Moving it – as an independent, anti-nuclear Scottish government would demand – would take years and many billions of pounds to execute. And this at a time when NATO is seeking more commitment, more defense spending from its members to counter the growing threat from Russia. The United States, presently blamed by critics inside and out for being weak in the face of global challenges – from Islamist terror, from Russia, from China – has under Obama’s presidency sought to convince the Europeans that they must take greater responsibility. Scots independence would be an example of a people taking less: it would present the malign example of a region, by claiming independent status, ducking out of taking the hard choices in the world – while seeking protection from those still constrained to make them. The UK has been a large part of ‘the West’ – that group of nations, which include ‘Easterners’ like Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and others – that privilege democracy, a strong civil society and rule of law. For the UK to lose Scotland would point up to a failure of democracy, at a time when the growth of China and the challenge of Russia is putting it’s primacy in doubt. With the discovery of major oil reserves off Scotland in the early 1970s, most of the UK’s oil has come from the fields off the Scots shore. There are still large reserves – how large, is still being proven. Scotland would demand total control of these reserves – they would be mainly within its territorial waters. It’s another malign example of a region rich in mineral reserves severing links with the larger state of which it was part in order to enjoy the easy income. It’s what the Oxford economist Paul Collier called, in a recent talk, ‘a dirty little resource grab’ – one sure to be copied elsewhere. Scotland has a large financial sector, even after the near-collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland, still one of the world’s banking giants. The turbulence and uncertainty which independence would cause would prompt several big banks and financial institutions to relocate to England: and foreign-owned businesses would also take precautionary measures. It wouldn’t be disaster: but it would mean that the UK, presently growing more strongly than any other European state but still recovering from recession, would be badly knocked back. Modern terrorism has targeted the UK: it’s seen by radical Islam as both a threat to their plans to create a fundamentalist Caliphate and to make of the Moslem populations round the world – there are nearly 3m Moslems in the UK – adherents to their cause. As UK security chiefs have warned, an independent Scotland with  new and small security services would be hobbled in efforts to combat extremism – and would be seen as a pressure point. Finally, there’s the more indefinable damage: to civility and to common culture. The nationalist campaign has raised tempers on both sides of the divide – within Scotland itself, and between Scotland and the rest of the UK, especially England. Nationalists like to see England as still an imperial hangover, un-modernized, run by ‘posh’ Conservatives for whom most Scots didn’t vote. Independence would make this still worse: many English say they want Scotland to go, because they’re tired of their complaints. It would be a long time before that died down: and something precious, a recognition of difference within unity, would have been lost.
This much is at stake. The world will not benefit, now or in the future, from an independent Scotland. But there’s nothing it can do about it, but wait to see what choice that nation makes.

This much is at stake. The world will not benefit, now or in the future, from an independent Scotland. But there’s nothing it can do about it, but wait to see what choice that nation makes.

from The Great Debate:

iPhone 6, Apple Watch and Tim Cook all impress, but questions remain

RTR45KU8.jpg

Tim Cook has had his first Steve Jobs moment.

With Tuesday's introduction of the new iPhone 6 line, Apple Pay and Apple Watch, the company’s CEO escaped the public shadow of his revered predecessor. Now the question is: Can he deliver in the same impressive fashion?

The early signs indicate he just might. While Apple's presentations are usually packed with an amen chorus of fans and tech journalists, the details the company revealed about its next line of phones, its new payment processing system and upcoming smart watch gave a clear sign that Apple is not becoming stagnant, as so many critics had feared.

Why Scottish independence matters for Europe

Photo

Should the EU head honchos in Brussels be quaking in their boots at the prospect of a less United Kingdom come September 18? The repercussions of a yes vote could cause a domino effect that may eventually lead to the break-up of the European Union.

This may seem dramatic, but how someone decides to vote in Glasgow could alter the course of modern history. The prospect of a not-so Great Britain could make it easier for the Conservatives to get re-elected at next year’s General Election. One of the Tories’ pledges, if they do get re-elected, is to hold a referendum on UK membership to the EU in 2017. Without a pro-EU Scottish voter base, there is a real chance that the UK could vote to leave the EU.

from The Great Debate:

Trying to find a women’s gym in Saudi Arabia? Ask for the ‘make-up room’

A woman drives a car in Saudi Arabia

Pity the female athlete in Saudi Arabia. Once again, the country is sending an all-male team to the Asian Games in South Korea — justifying its decision on the grounds that its women don’t quite make the grade. Officially, the line is that they’re not competitive enough. But how can anyone be a competitor in a country where just getting out to work out is almost impossible?

I spent two weeks in Saudi Arabia on a reporting trip in 2012. It was a time of tentative optimism, where Saudi women were keen to tell us of incremental changes in their lives. They still were forbidden to drive, travel abroad without male permission, eat alongside men in the food courts of their local mall or appear in public without a stiflingly hot abaya covering them from neck to ankle. But, for the first time, they were being allowed to buy their bras from women rather than men. (Yes, it matters.) Some of the more daring were able to add personal, decorative touches to the unrelenting black of their abayas, and there was even talk of women being included in the Saudi Olympics team later that year. More importantly, record numbers of women were being given scholarships for graduate study abroad.

  •