Opinion

The Great Debate

Syria: What happened to diplomacy?

There is a bizarre quality to the U.S. public debate about bombing Syria. Much time and effort has been spent analyzing President Barack Obama’s decision to finally call for a vote in Congress: whether this was a wise choice; what the repercussions of an attack may be; the (il)legality of acting without a United Nations Security Council mandate; the moral case for bombing, and the strategic case for restraint.

But almost no attention has been paid to a fundamental question: Have all other options been exhausted?

Obama has presented the American public with a false binary choice: taking military action or doing nothing.

It is perhaps the sign of our times that diplomacy is not even being talked about as an option, though Obama’s 2008 platform included restoring diplomacy as a central tool of American statecraft.

If the key concern is humanitarian — putting an end to the senseless slaughter of Syrian civilians — rather than U.S. credibility — ensuring the enforcement of the president’s “red line” — much more should have been done earlier to press all sides of the conflict to agree to a cease-fire.

from The Great Debate UK:

The meeting of young minds

IMG01410-20100209-1350A sedate group of more than 1,000 young people brought together in London to discuss socio-political issues makes a sharp contrast to those who challenge the status quo via demonstrations, rallies and picket lines.

At the first annual One Young World, organised by advertising agency Euro RSCG Worldwide, delegates 25 years of age and younger network in an environment sanctioned by such high-profile “counsellors” as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, economist Muhammad Yunus and musician Bob Geldof.

There are no immediate signs of dissent among the hand-picked delegates meeting at the ExCel London convention centre from February 8 to 10.

from The Great Debate UK:

One Young World: let’s hear it from the under-25s

katerobertson

Amid the ongoing global conversation about the economy, and projections about when -- and in which markets -- the world might emerge from financial crisis, the collective voice of the 25-and-under age group is hard to hear.

It could have been silenced due to a sense of futility about challenging the so-called Establishment, or it might be online -- constrained by such social media outlets as Facebook and Twitter.

Whatever the case, advertising and communications agency Euro RSCG Worldwide is taking measures to get the under-25s to speak up on such issues as the environment, health and education at an event called One Young World, which will be held from February 8-10 in London.

from The Great Debate UK:

“Week of Action” on arms trade treaty

John Duncan - John Duncan is the United Kingdom Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control and Disarmament. He comments regularly via Twitter and on his own Blog. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan once remarked that in terms of people killed and injured every day, conventional weapons are the worst weapons of mass destruction in the 21st century.

Monday sees the start of a “Week of Action” to generate support for a new International Arms Trade Treaty, organised by NGO alliance "Control Arms" which brings together Amnesty International, Oxfam and IANSA.

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