An ugly victory

An ugly victory Jubilant: President-elect Trump. John Locher AP/Press Association Image This is not a moment when considered analysis or reaction comes easily. But this piece makes a pretty good stab at attempting to understand the phenomenon that is Donald Trump. As Liam Kennedy suggests below: ‘Trump embodies that most American of American archetypes: the huckster or “confidence man”, a figure with a long history in American culture, dating from at least the early 19th century. He is a charlatan whose schemes invariably fail. In the end he skips town, leaving those he has scammed to learn their lesson….. Right… More

Brexit And After

Here’s my latest column for The Indian Economist: Was Brexit An Emotional Decision? Has the Brexit referendum only been successful in unleashing rage and violence against different communities in the UK, making everyone including Brits insecure? A recent visit to Britain produced plenty to think about. Over four months since the referendum that delivered a narrow vote in favour of the UK leaving the European Union (EU), the outcome remains a, if not the dominant topic of political discussion. This is hardly surprising given that both the modalities and wider implications of the ‘Brexit’ vote are still being worked out. Mirroring… More

War is peace: on bombing Syria aid convoys

War is peace: on bombing Syria aid convoys The scene the morning after a convoy delivering aid was hit by a deadly airstrike in Syria. Photograph: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images Sovietspeak is still alive and well, it seems. The Russian Foreign Ministry is claiming that the nearly 20 Aleppo aid convoy trucks reportedly hit by airstrikes outside Aleppo yesterday (see below) weren’t in fact: they claim, they simply ‘caught fire’. Brezhnev – and indeed Stalin – would have been proud of that line. At the same time, I’ve just digested this take on the latest developments in Syra from a… More

Norway and Sri Lanka’s Peace Process: towards an honest assessment

Norway and Sri Lanka’s Peace Process: Towards an honest assessment The debate on Norway’s role in Sri Lanka’s utimately failed peace process continues. My latest contribution is in today’s issue of The Island newspaper. The Island, September 18, 2016 After the brickbats of recent exchanges on the subject, it is refreshing to see Izeth Hussain’s considered assessment (The Island, 6 Sept.) of Norway’s role in the Sri Lankan peace process. In sum, Hussain contends that the Norwegians carried out their mandate as official peace facilitators in a serious, honourable and responsible manner. It is particularly salient to hear such sentiments… More

On Being Mark Salter

Here’s my latest piece. This time with a rather different focus from my usual fare. On Being Mark Salter A senior advisor to US Republican Senator John McCain. NGAN/AFP/Getty Images Presidential Elections in America: And a rather interesting case of mistaken identity. The Indian Economist, September 7, 2016 By Mark Salter So here’s the thing. I’ve never considered my name anything special. Just another regular moniker, nothing special to attract attention. As for the rest – fine, I’ve written a couple of books, done the odd public thing over the years. But famous? I hardly think so. But it turns… More

Reconciliation and Peace Processes

Reconciliation and Peace Processes A Belfast Mural from after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. A new issue of Conciliation Resource‘s Accord Insight Series, titled ‘Reconciliation and Peace Processes‘, is just out. Now the personal interest confession: I am the Guest Editor of this excellent new publication. If you’ve an interest in the role of reconciliation in efforts to resolve the conflicts in Colombia, the Philippines/Mindanao, Nolrthern Ireeland or Georgia/Abkhazia- the four case studies covered in the report – or broader issues regarding the relationship between reconciliation and peace proceeses, then this spanking new publication is the one for you! Below… More

Staying On Message

Another week, another round in the recent debate in the columns of Sri Lanka’s The Island into which I’ve  unwittingly been dragged. At any rate, with any luck the barrage of criticism I’ve been receiving in those pages of latre will die down soon. We shall see. For clarity’s sake, beneath my response I’m adding the article to which it was a reply. Richard Armitage, Former US Deputy Secretary of State on a visit to Sri Lanka, here with President Sirisena. Photo: Asiantrubune.coma Staying On Message August 30, 2016 Vinod Moonesinghe (The Island, 29 Aug 2016) offers a, to say… More

Norway in Sri Lanka: in defence of negotiations

Norway in Sri Lanka: in defence of negotiations LTTE’s leader Prabhakaran with Norway’s envoy Erik Solheim. Photo/Tamilnet Here’s the latest installment of my contribution to a debate that’s been raging in the coloumns of Sri Lanka’s The Island over the last week. The immediate subject is Norwegian conduct in the aftermath of the assassination of Sri Lankan Froeign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August 2005 – an event whose 11th anniversary fell earlier this month. More broadly, it’s about the role of facilitators and mediators in peace processes and what they should – and should not – try to do in… More

A Long Watch: The Capture of Commodore Boyagoda

A Long Watch: The Capture of Commodore Boyagoda Here is a sensitive, thoughtful account of how her fascinating new book came to be by authoress Sunila Galiappatti. The book, A Long ‘Watch: The Capture of Commander Boyagoda, was recently released by Hurst, my own publishers in London. This article itself was originally published in The Wire. The Risks of Testimony: ‘Memories of Captivity with the Tamil Tigers BY SUNILA GALAPPATTI LTTE leaders at Sirumalai camp, Tamil Nadu, in 1984 while being trained by Indian Intelligence (RAW). Credit: Wikimedia CommonsThe framing of A Long Watch: War, Captivity and Return in Sri Lanka… More

Norway’s ‘Secrets’ are No Secret

Norway ‘Secrets’ are No Secret Raghavan and Aijitha Kadirgamar, eldest son and daughter of assassinated Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Laskhman Kadirgamar, by their father’s funeral pyre, Colombo, 15 August 2005. Source: FP PHOTO/Indranil MUKHERJEE   Post summer holidays and I find myself once again responding to revisionist accounts of the Norwegian’s engagement in the Sri Lankan peace process in the domestic press. This time the subject is the aftermath of the assassination – almost certainly by the LTTE – of noted Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August 2005. Below is my riposte, published as an op ed in… More