The Great Debate UK

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.

According to U.S. President Barack Obama, “we are dealing with a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster”.

While the leak is extremely serious, and Obama’s words may ultimately ring true, the leak is (as yet) not one of the top 50 biggest oil spillages from either oil rigs or tankers in historical perspective:

from UK News:

Will the Chilcot Iraq inquiry achieve anything?

Photo

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?

Photo

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

Photo

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

Photo

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?

Photo

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?

Photo

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?

Photo

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?

from UK News:

Iraq cabinet minutes remain secret

Photo

So we're not going to know the full details of what the cabinet thought about going to war in Iraq.

Justice Minister Jack Straw has blocked the release of cabinet minutes on the subject on the grounds that to open them up would undermine democratic decision-making. If ministers thought everything they said in cabinet was going to be made public, his argument ran, they might be reluctant to express their full and frank views and therefore the principle of collective cabinet responsibility would be undermined.

from The Great Debate:

Brace yourself: Political-market risks in 2009

Photo

prestonkeat-- Preston Keat is director of research at Eurasia Group, a global political risk consultancy, and author of the forthcoming book “The Fat Tail: The Power of Political Knowledge for Strategic Investors” (with Ian Bremmer). Any views expressed are his own. For the related story, click here.

There are a number of macro risks that will continue to grab headlines in 2009, including the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, cross-border tensions and state instability in Pakistan, and Iran's 
ongoing quest to develop advanced nuclear technologies.

  •