The Great Debate UK

from Reuters Investigates:

How Mendax made WikiLeaks a sensation

WIKILEAKS-ASSANGE/ARREST By Mark Hosenball

On Tuesday, Julian Assange, the controversial Australian-born founder and frontman of the WikiLeaks website is scheduled to appear in a London courtroom for the latest hearing on a request by Swedish authorities that he be extradited to Sweden for questioning in a sexual misconduct investigation.

Assange has denied any wrongdoing in Sweden, and some of his supporters have dropped dark hints that the Swedish investigation could be part of some sinister conspiracy by the CIA or other WikiLeaks enemies to shut down both Assange and the website, which has lately roiled the world of international diplomacy by disclosing a cache of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

Swedish prosecutors and the lawyer for two women who complained to the authorities about Assange's behavior deny the sex investigation has anything to do with spy plots or politics. People who know the mercurial and sometimes imperious Assange say that even on best behavior, he can be a difficult person to deal with.

In this special report last week, we took you behind the Swedish investigation into the sex allegations against Assange, and explained how Assange himself might have avoided any investigation if he had been more accessible to two women who were anxious that he undergo medical tests which he apparently wanted to avoid.

from The Great Debate:

The U.S. war in Iraq is over. Who won?

The end of America's combat mission, after seven and a half costly years, has raised questions that will provide fodder for argument for a long time to come: Was it worth it? And who, if anyone, won?

It's too early to answer the first question, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a man of sober judgment. "It really requires a historian's perspective in terms of what happens here in the long run ... How it all weighs in the balance over time remains to be seen."

How much damage will the BP oil spill cause?

-Kees Willemse is professor of offshore engineering at Delft University. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Last month’s explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig continues to result in the leakage of an estimated 200,000 gallons (910,000 litres) of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day.

from UK News:

Will the Chilcot Iraq inquiry achieve anything?

AFGHANISTAN-BRITAIN/OPERATIONSFew investigations can have begun with lower expectations than the Chilcot inquiry into Britain's involvement in the Iraq war.

Critics have been withering:

-- the Chairman Sir John Chilcot, a former Whitehall mandarin, has strong links to the establishment and is unlikely to rock the boat, they say.

from UK News:

Is Blair the man for the EU job?

BLAIR/Once he was regarded as an obvious front-runner for the job of EU president, then it was pointed out that it was unlikely anyone would be chosen from a country that is not in the eurozone, not in the Schengen border-free area and which has an exemption to the bloc's charter of fundamental rights.

Ah, but if you don't choose someone with proven political clout to fight Europe's corner, a G2 of China and the United States will have things all their own way soon, declared Foreign Secretary David Miliband over the weekend.

Past and present: a correspondent in Iraq

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Tim Cocks-Tim Cocks is a Reuters correspondent in Iraq.-

This month we reported that the number of civilians dying violent deaths in Iraq had hit a fresh low since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion — about 125 for September.

Sounds like a lot, but for a country that only two years ago was seeing dozens of bodies pile up in the streets each day from tit-for-tat sectarian killing, it was definitely progress.

from The Great Debate:

Fake news gets real

Colbert in Baghdad

global_post_logoThomas Mucha is the managing editor in charge of correspondents for GlobalPost, where this article first appeared. The views expressed are his own. --

It’s been a fascinating few weeks for global news — the real kind, of course — but also for the fake stuff.

Is Iraq stable enough to cope without U.S. troops?

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Tim Cocks-Tim Cocks is a Reuters correspondent based in Baghdad.-

For the U.S. military, it’s the million dollar question — or rather the $687 billion question, according to a recent estimate of the Iraq war’s total cost. Is Iraq now stable enough for them to take a permanent back seat?

The short answer is no one knows. The only way they were ever going to find out was to leave Iraq’s own forces to it and hope the whole thing doesn’t come tumbling down. They started doing that on Tuesday when they pulled out of Iraqi cities.

When is the wrong vehicle the right vehicle?

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Patrick Hennessey-Patrick Hennessey is the author of “The Junior Officers’ Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars.” The opinions expressed are his own.-

In the same week in which Major Sean Birchall became the 169th British service person to die in Afghanistan since the start of operations in 2001 (and perhaps more significantly, as is often unmentioned, the 164th serviceperson to die since the British moved into Helmand Province only three years ago), four families announced that they were planning to sue the Ministry of Defence over the deaths of loved ones in the lightly armoured “Snatch” Land Rover in Iraq and Afghanistan.

from The Great Debate:

U.S. military giant, diplomatic dwarf?

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate--- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own ---

The U.S. armed forces, the world's most powerful, outnumber the country's diplomatic service and its major aid agency by a ratio of more than 180:1, vastly higher than in other Western democracies. Military giant, diplomatic dwarf?

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