The failure of the Arab Spring: arming for peace

By Shuting Xia, on 2 December 2016

Written by Zeidon Alkinani

Photo credit: the-levant.com

Photo credit: the-levant.com

One always wonders whether the Arab Spring was more of a period of lessons or achievements? It only took one angry and poor Tunisian man committing suicide as a retain of dignity from authoritarianism, to awaken people against the inequality they were living in. The revolutionary determination was regionally present, due to the autocratic regimes that offered nothing but social, political and economic inequality through corruption, low living standards and restricting freedom of expression. Although I am not implying that the Arab Spring was a failure, it is important to highlight the mistakes, which weakened the democratic progress or at least the reduction of corruption in Arab states.

There is no doubt that the Libyan NTC (National Transitional Council) would have struggled to face Muammar Gaddafi’s bloody response towards the Libyan protests since February 2011, if it was not for its international influence and massive support via media coverage, legitimate political bodies and the militarisation of Libyan rebel groups. The NATO-backed NTC was Libya’s de facto government during and after its war for almost a year. Despite the Tunisian and Egyptian achievements, crises such as the ones in Libya and Syria leave the ‘success’ of the Arab Spring open to question. Was removing Gaddafi all that mattered? What about the territorial division and disputes that occurred after the war? Does the NTC or the new upcoming Libyan government, who is most likely to be post anti-Gaddafi, have enough experience and tools to rebuild a state and restructure its institutions and constitution after demolishing them? These concerns are still active today, and Libya has witnessed no successful progress since the events happened. In fact, Libya has turned from an authoritarian regime to a country which seeks a disarmament programme from the overwhelming number of armed groups who have been violently monopolising their self-interests across the country since 2011.

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Listen: Only Fools and Politics podcast

By Simone R Nielsen, on 1 December 2016

ONLY FOOLS AND POLITICS is a fortnightly radio show produced and recorded by the talented students of SPP. In their first podcast, the show discusses the latest updates of Trumps Administration, the President Elect and the future of America? The show also delves in to the death of Fidel Castro and how reflections of his life may have biased people’s observations of his controversial rule of Cuba. Enjoy!

If Europe needs more security, can Germany provide it?

By Shuting Xia, on 29 November 2016

 Written by Tim Falder
Photo credit: www.time.com

Photo credit: www.time.com

In a recent lecture at UCL, the European historian and political philosopher Luuk van Middelaar argued that to temper popular backlash against globalisation and demographic changes, Europe had to offer its citizens a new balance between security and freedom. Core freedoms, of movement and market access, would only be accepted by voters if European internal and external security was as once again seen as a credible proposition.

With a key player leaving the European Union, France engrossed in its own nationalist struggle and the United States becoming an ever more uncertain ally, Europe’s perennially indispensable nation has once again emerged as the state with the potential to shape Europe’s future. In the wake of Chancellor Angela Merkel – now cast as liberalism’s leader against Trump et. al – recently announcing that she will seek a fourth term in office, it seems as good a time as any to consider whether Europe’s leading nation can make Europe feel safe again.
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IPPR interviews Julia Schaff and Guinevere Carter on fossil free movement

By Shuting Xia, on 25 November 2016

Deputy Head of Editorial Islam interviews Fossil Free UCL members Guinevere and  Julia to gather their thoughts on climate policy in UCL, the UK government and internationally.

Fossil Free UCL are currently distributing a petition urging the university to break its ties with the fossil fuel industry. You can read and sign it here.

Interviewer: Islam Abdelgadir (IA)

Interviewees: Julia Schaff (JS), Guinevere Carter (GC)

IA: Hello and welcome to the first edition of IPPR interviews, with the International Public Policy Review. I am  Islam Abdelgadir, current deputy head editor of IPPR. I’m joined today by members of Fossil Free UCL – seems so official – a student society on campus, which is the UCL arm of the fossil free movement. The fossil free movement, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a growing international divestment campaign calling for organisations, institutions and individuals to demonstrate climate leadership and end the support for the fossil fuel industry.

So would you guys like to introduce yourselves and maybe give a few reasons (of) what drew you to fossil free UCL?

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Should we “normalise” President Trump?

By Shuting Xia, on 25 November 2016

Written by Wendy Lovinger

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

A debate is roiling the United States media: how do we talk about President-elect Donald Trump? Should we give him a chance and discuss his appointments and the transition as we would any other president? Or do we recognise that it is hard to take seriously, as a politician, a man whose apartment is essentially a modern version of the Château de Versailles?

I argue we shouldn’t. I see the counterarguments: the media is supposed to be neutral; Trump won the electoral college and that, in the US, means he was democratically elected. In less than two months he will be my country’s president, so what he does matters. His actions, however misguided they may seem to some, will have major implications for the people of the US and should be covered in the same manner as the policies of other presidents.

But Trump is not a politician. Sure, he has assumed the role of one, but he is a businessman first. For my country and myself, I hope he does not fail as spectacularly as I expect him to. And more importantly, that he learns what it means to be a politician. But as of now, his philosophy of governing is to keep people guessing. Because, one imagines, that is the method that got him to where he is today—which is not so much a great businessman as a major celebrity. Questions about his business ventures aside, there is no denying that Trump has made himself a huge name in the US and that is in large part why he will assume office in January. But government requires stability. There is a popular misconception in the US—likely due to the fact that capitalism and government are inextricably intertwined in my country—that government should be run like a business. And yet government is not about profit—and if it were, the US would have had to declare bankruptcy a long time ago.

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Ground control to major Tom: the world’s best ‘Trump Card’ is unity

By Shuting Xia, on 22 November 2016

Written by Averill Brewer

Photo credit: www.earthshots.org

Photo credit: www.earthshots.org

The silence in the tube station the morning after the US election was deafening. As I walked through muggy passageways, I saw only blank stares and I heard only the hum of the escalators.

This was not that unusual for 8am on a Wednesday in London. But it began to disturb me- really, really disturb me. Squished in between commuters on the tube, I held onto the sticky bar above my head and glanced at my neighbour who was watching an Amazon Prime series on his phone. ‘Shouldn’t somebody say something?’, I thought. ‘Don’t we want to talk about what just happened, what the world just awoke to?’ But, I did not say anything. I didn’t want to disturb the strangers on the tube, at the risk of sounding like a lunatic.

I read an article in Quartz this weekend about Dex Torricke-Barton, a ‘Silicon Valley Veteran’ who’s worked at Google, Facebook, and SpaceX. He just left his job to focus his time on social change and to fight Trump at the grassroots level. As an immigrant, and the son of a Burmese refugee, he sees the world as becoming “less open and less compassionate”. He says that these harsh growing social divisions pose a really fundamental threat to the future of our society. Torricke-Barton believes that “to build a world of great freedom, justice, and prosperity we need to hear the voices of more people”, and technology can enable us to do this.

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