Goodbye to all that centrism

By John Lloyd
September 30, 2013

How much longer will the political center hold in Europe? Its erosion, years in the making, is only picking up speed. In Italy, the latest political crisis presages the collapse of the centrist left-right coalition. In Austria, a recent election barely gave a similar coalition enough votes to continue governing. The European Union nations are hurtling toward elections next spring for the European parliament, which will bring real debate and divide to what has been a largely consensual assembly. Not far separated from the yolk of the financial crisis, nationalism is the politics of the times.

For Germany, mum’s the word

By John Lloyd
September 23, 2013

If every nation gets the leader it deserves, what would Angela Merkel’s smashing victory on Sunday say about Germany?

The Church and organized labor’s new orthodoxy

By John Lloyd
September 17, 2013

Two of the western world’s great organizations, the AFL-CIO and the Roman Catholic Church, decided last week to tackle two of the world’s great problems differently than they had for decades before. This might just be another proof that they’re getting weaker (they are). Or it might be a big, good shift.

Putin’s vision of equality

By John Lloyd
September 13, 2013

The light on the discussions on Syria in Geneva between the U.S. and Russian foreign ministers is dim and flickering and may well be snuffed out. But at least there’s a light.

Mark Thompson’s two-front war

By John Lloyd
September 10, 2013

Mark Thompson is a burly, clever, self-confident, occasionally slightly intimidating man who until a year ago ran the BBC and is now chief executive officer of The New York Times Company. He’s been at the center of a very open row with his previous employer and one much more covert with his present one — not so much because he’s a troublemaker (though he seems to find it easily) but because trouble is being made for news media with high standards.

Why democracy is an insufficient force against WMD

By John Lloyd
September 4, 2013

The British parliament’s refusal to countenance military intervention in Syria, and President Barack Obama’s decision to delay a strike until Congress approves it, point to a larger, even more dangerous contradiction of the mass destruction age.

On Syria, England defects

By John Lloyd
August 30, 2013

Thursday’s British House of Commons vote against Britain aiding in a Syrian intervention led me to center on one question: what will happen to the U.S.-UK relationship? Is that alliance now gravely weakened? Can it survive in a meaningful form?

In Egypt, violence justified by a hope for democracy

By John Lloyd and Abdalla F. Hassan
August 27, 2013

CAIRO — Alaa al-Aswany, one of Egypt’s most famous novelists, talks to visitors in a dental surgery room. Aswany, 56, was (and still is) a dentist by trade before, in middle age, rising to fame and controversy as a writer both of novels (The Yacoubian Building and Chicago) and opinion (long running columns in the independent and opposition press). He was dressed in a grey jacket and black shirt and, unusually for a dentist, smoked throughout the interview we conducted over the weekend.

What’s next for the Muslim Brotherhood?

By John Lloyd
August 22, 2013

CAIRO – The Muslim Brotherhood is on the run.

Its leaders, including its Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, are in prison. Badie’s only son, Ammar, was killed during the military’s clearing of protests last week. Badie’s deputy, Mahmout Ezzat replaced him, and is apparently free for now, but others are imprisoned or sought for arrest. Its protestors have been scattered by police and the army, losing hundreds of lives in the process. The cancellation of its legal status is now being discussed by the military-backed government. Former President Hosni Mubarak’s release on Thursday, from jail to house arrest, is salt in a wound. As they fall from the heights of leadership, so the old and reviled leader climbs, if shakily, out of the pit.

General Sisi: An enigma without a dogma

By John Lloyd
August 19, 2013

CAIRO — The man who presently rules Egypt, General Abdel Fattah Said al-Sisi, is an enigma. He’s even more inscrutable because he is not — to misquote Churchill — an enigma wrapped in a dogma. He’s too slippery to be filed under any kind of label. Depending on where you sit, that’s either alarming or reassuring.