The Lessons of Nauru

The Pacific island of Nauru is among the most unknown countries in the world.  This is hardly surprising – it is the fourth-smallest territory in the world (ahead of only Tokelau, Gibraltar, Monaco, and the Vatican), and there are fewer ethnic Nauruans than there are Oxford undergraduates.  But, for a time, Nauru had the highest GDP per capita in the world, and the slow decline from the financial orgy of the 1970s and 80s to its current state as a virtual province of Australia contains some fairly frightful omens for the future of other such rentier states. Nauru is (or … Continue reading The Lessons of Nauru

The Pageant of Death

So Gaddafi is, apparently, dead, taking with him all the answers to the innumerable questions that we should have wanted to ask him.  I hardly think this bodes well for anyone.  Nevertheless, he was a malicious, violent, cruel despot whose people overwhelmingly deserve and demand far better.  After all, I felt nothing but glee when Mubarak and Ben Ali fell (although they were not murdered).  I even felt excited for the prospect of Gaddafi’s death back in April.  So, now that it’s happened, why the depression? Admittedly, it is somewhat hard to maintain the idea that Gaddafi’s death is exactly … Continue reading The Pageant of Death

A Brief History of Sanctions

Yesterday the combined forces of Russia and China vetoed the already weakened UN Security Council Resolution which would have put in place the legal permission for sanctions against Syria.  The fallout to this has been immediate and (considering the usual diplomatic guff about “not necessarily to our advantage”) shockingly blunt.  Alain Juppé in particular, speaking yesterday, insisted that France was still going to implement sanctions, and a number of other Western nations have expressed similar intentions.  As a curious side note, Turkey’s move to ditch a hostile Europe and once again take charge of its role in the Arab world, … Continue reading A Brief History of Sanctions