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“The greatest nation on earth”? Obama’s victory speech viewed from overseas

Level Playing Field, The Hindu, 17 November I woke early on Wednesday morning to check the results. First, I was relieved. Romney had failed, and more importantly the bigots and obscurantists who backed him had failed. Then I watched Obama’s victory speech, and what I felt was something other than relief. The speech was dubbed… Read more

Obama abroad

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 29 May When it came to foreign affairs, Barack Obama’s first presidential task was a simple one. He had to be better than his predecessor. For this alone, it seems, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. But those who hoped Obama’s promise of “change” would apply to the US’s… Read more

Empires past and present

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 23 April A high court in London is hearing a suit brought against the British government by four elderly Kenyans who were tortured, sexually abused and in one case castrated while held in detention during the British repression of the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s. As a result of… Read more

Politics and “the art of the possible”

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 7 February 2010 Another version of this article, with comment from readers, is published on The Guardian’s Comment is free website. Whenever a commentator declares that “politics is the art of the possible”, I’m on my guard. What I’m being told, I suspect, is to accept apparent present conditions as… Read more

Afghanistan: Crimes of the New Century

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 28 December There is one sad, near certainty about 2009: the war in Afghanistan will grow bloodier, more brutal and more dangerous to the region as a whole. Barack Obama has coupled his pledge to withdraw US troops from Iraq (a pledge already heavily qualified) with an insistence on escalating… Read more

Obama and the spectre of race

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD The Hindu, 7 September It’s a paradox. Barack Obama’s candidacy is hailed as “historic” for the very sound reason that he is the first African-American to become the presidential nominee of a major party. In a country whose history is permeated by race, that’s clearly a significant event, at the least a… Read more