This Week’s Top 5 Picks in International History and Diplomacy

(Image: Alvaro Dominguez)

Trump Still Has 70 Days to Wreak Havoc Around the World

Robert Malley and Philip H. Gordon

New York Times

Of the countless challenges President-elect Joe Biden will face when he assumes office, few will be as daunting as reversing President Trump’s legacy of bulldozing multilateral institutions, ripping up past international agreements, shattering norms and undermining longstanding alliances.

Mr. Biden has vowed to turn the page on the “aberration” of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy. Some Trump-induced changes will easily be reversed, but many will be challenging to unwind, and some are likely to be indelible. Mr. Trump, who has already undermined the international order and isolated the United States, now appears determined to use his final 10 weeks in office to pursue a scorched-earth foreign policy that will only make Mr. Biden’s job harder and leave the world even less stable on Jan. 20. (Read more)

Voter suppression couldn’t happen in the UK, could it? Don’t be so sure…

Nick Cohen


The corruption of the American right is seen at its most decadent in the disenfranchisement of black and poor citizens and the refusal to accept defeat when voter suppression fails. If you think it could not happen here, consider the fate of Britain’s “independent” Electoral Commission that once kept politics clean.

The Conservatives are in the process of either neutering or abolishing it. They are bringing voter suppression to the UK and making it clear to anyone who takes notice that the right, with its overwhelming financial advantages, wants minimal controls of big money and the political propaganda it buys. Few take notice. The corruption of politics is the strangest thing: an unnoticed outrage. It’s not that it’s an official secret. It’s just that few seem to care. One day, we’ll look back at today’s obscure manoeuvres in esoteric committees and ask why more did not protest when protesting might have made a difference. (Read more)

Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict sees hundreds dead, thousands flee to Sudan

Samuel Getachew

New Humanitarian

Ethiopia’s transition to multi-party democracy has been in peril for months, but the eruption of conflict in the northern region of Tigray threatens a humanitarian disaster that could derail the process altogether and sow instability across the Horn of Africa.

Mass casualties have been reported in different parts of Tigray, while thousands of Ethiopians have fled to neighbouring Sudan since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered a military intervention last week against the region’s powerful ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Kiros Woldemariam, a 54-year-old from a town in southern Tigray told The New Humanitarian he was travelling to a neighbouring region when military jets began pounding the area, forcing him to take cover. (Read more)

Why we need to stop talking about a written constitution

David Allen Green

Prospect Magazine

Every time there is some new constitutional calamity in the United Kingdom, and they have been rather common in this era of Brexit and Dominic Cummings, a similarly common response from anyone progressive or liberal is to ritually demand a “written” constitution. And that is usually all that is said on the subject, as if such a demand is sufficient in itself as a reaction to what has gone wrong.

But this is misguided and indeed irresponsible for three reasons. First, a written constitution would not by itself lead to more liberal government. Many of the most repressive regimes in modern times have had written constitutions which, on paper, would seem exemplars of how fundamental rights and freedoms should be protected. Their peoples were tortured and their rights were generally violated all the same. (Read more)

Henry Dundas: Naming Empire and Genocide

Melanie J. Newton

History Workshop

Until recently, few Scots who stood under Edinburgh’s Melville monument or sauntered along Dundas Street; Canadians who walked down Toronto’s Dundas Street or gathered in Dundas Square; and residents of Dundas, Ontario, knew or cared about Henry Dundas, first Viscount Melville, (1742-1811) and his support for the slave trade.

This summer, in response to a public campaign, Edinburgh City Council voted to install a plaque on the Melville monument acknowledging Dundas’s role defending the slave trade. The City of Toronto is currently determining its response to a petition, signed by 14,000 people, to rename Dundas Street, one of the city’s oldest and longest thoroughfares. Others, notably some of Dundas’s descendants, claim that Dundas actually opposed the slave trade. Where does the truth lie? Was Dundas a corrupt scoundrel who deserved his impeachment in 1806 and his nicknames, ‘The Great Tyrant’ and ‘The Uncrowned King of Scotland’? Was he responsible for cynically delaying the slave trade’s abolition? Or did his pragmatic intervention during one of British parliamentary history’s most important debates rescue abolition from certain defeat? (Read more)

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