On November 22, 2013, I was deeply moved to participate in the BBC’s coverage of the events commemorating the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. I made a series of appearances on both BBC World News and on the BBC News Channel throughout the day, starting at 12:30 and ending at 20:30 as the station reflected on events from 1963 and the ensuing impact on US politics.
I was gratified to be able to work with the likes of Stephen Sackur, Nick Bryant and Tim Wilcox, as well as with the former White House correspondent for Time Magazine, Jef McAllister. Having watched Martin Sixmith’s report on the BBC news reflecting on the 25th anniversary in 1988 it was a poignant moment to be working with the BBC to mark this solemn occasion.
Whilst the BBC’s coverage of events was admirable, the ceremony designed to do so in Dallas was a travesty that appeared more to mourn the impact that the events had on the city than on the loss of the young president and the implications that this had for the nation and the world.
It was, in many ways, all too appropriate, for it reminded us of the manner in which Kennedy’s style, grace and charm was extinguished and replaced with Texan BBQ and crass antics 50 years ago.
Those chosen to speak clearly had no knowledge or interest in Kennedy; what he stood for, or what he sought to achieve. This was, along with move of the television coverage in general this week, an attempt to whitewash history and to deny certain truths. No mention was made, for example, of the Texan schoolchildren who cheered upon hearing the news of the shooting, having been raised in a climate of loathing toward the president in a city known then as The Hate Capital of Dixie. The clergy, tasked with reflecting on JFK, chose to use words initially spoken by George Bernard Shaw, adopted by RFK during his ill-fated campaign in 1968 and used so memorably in Ted Kennedy’s speech at Robert Kennedy’s funeral. Great words, but singularly unconnected with JFK. Asking David McCullough to speak was also strange. A gifted author and orator, but again, where was the Kennedy connection?
The crass nature of the remarks, the glib attempt at a memorial service made a mockery of the events being observed. Hardly any surprise that no one intimately associated with the family was represented.
The death of President Kennedy was a dark day in the history of the United States and one whose impact is all too often forgotten. The ceremony in Dallas did little to improve the city’s standing and served only, perhaps, to remind us further of what was lost 50 years ago.
I was delighted to be interviewed by London’s Metro newspaper for an article that addressed the legacy of President John F. Kennedy. My remarks were included along with those of the eminent American historian and political scientist, Larry Sabato and Thurston Clarke.
You can read the piece HERE
I was delighted to be invited to discuss the on-going crisis regarding the National Security Agency’s European activities with the Voice of America this week. I sat down with Al Pessin and discussed a wide range of related issues and was very pleased with the ensuing package that was produced.
Several years ago, my colleague (Dr. Mike Keating) and I sought to introduce a new form of assessment to our students that bridged academic rigor with real-world practical skills. The result was the Policy Brief.
Having introduced the concept to our students we felt the process involved was worthy of wider attention so we sat down, put our heads together once more and produced an article that was subsequently published by the Political Studies Association in their publication ‘Politics.’
All well and good you may say, but why mention this now?
Well the editors have just issued a new publication dedicated to articles that address Learning and Teaching and have chosen to include our piece along with only 8 others that it refers to in the introduction as being ‘the best articles on learning and teaching that have been published in ‘Politics’ in recent years.’
I’m delighted that our work has been recognized and thrilled to be able to bring it to you HERE.
Hope you enjoy it.
On Tuesday October 15 I was very proud to appear before the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee as they begin hearings into the direction of the US-UK relationship under the coalition government. We covered a great deal of ground and I am delighted to be able to bring you coverage of that event:
Full details of the hearings can be found HERE
The hearings can be watched HERE
My testimony runs from 15:37 to 16:13.
Every once in a while, news arrives that hits you like a ton of bricks, coming from so far out of left field that you could never have seen it coming, even if you’d been looking for it. This is not a piece about the Government Shutdowns, Debt Ceilings, or the Tea Party. It is, however, a short and personal piece about something that puts all that nonsense into context.
As a talking head on various media outlets, I’m expected to be able to talk on demand, but this week I have been left lost for words, due to an event that I know has distressed a number of people that I have been fortunate enough to work with at Aljazeera. Last weekend we lost one of the most wonderful people I have ever had the pleasure to know: Elizabeth Idienumah.
Elizabeth was not necessarily someone you would know from watching Aljazeera, but if you had ever worked with the channel, if you had been invited to give an interview, then she was someone you would never forget: glamorous, statuesque, striking, utterly charming and a true professional, Elizabeth worked as an Interview Producer in the London bureau of Aljazeera English, arranging for those of us with something to say, to turn up at the right place, at the right time and deliver the goods on camera. Heading into the London studios has always been a pleasure, one made all the more enjoyable by the team on the Interview Desk. Along with her colleagues Mandy, Ruchi and recently Caroline, Elizabeth was always on hand to ensure that the interviews went smoothly and on schedule.
Yet Elizabeth brought an extra dimension with her; an essential quality of decency and passion for news gathering and information delivery that was a delight to behold. Always ready with a wide, beaming smile, she was a joy to work with. Elizabeth could be relied on to go far beyond the necessary and perfunctory aspects of her remit, and to inquire how things were going. She remembered the details that counted, the facts that mattered and understood how to get the very best out of those of us she worked with. Of course, she made it seem like anything but work. Her warmth and focus was always something to anticipate, a pleasure to behold, and all too suddenly, a wonderful, poignant memory.
Working with Elizabeth at Aljazeera was always a pleasure and her passing this weekend, aged 42, is an absolute tragedy; a loss to her colleagues, to the network and to those of us who had the very great pleasure of working with her over the last several years. To say that she will be missed is an all too obvious sentiment. She will be succeeded, but never replaced…
On Thursday September 5, 2013, I was honoured to be invited to address an invited audience at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House. Founded in 1920 and home to the famed ‘Chatham House Rule,’ the organisation is ranked No. 1 Think Tank outside of the US, and No. 2. Think Tank Worldwide.
I led off discussion in at a debate entitled, Syria: The International Response, and was honoured to be joined by author Dr Alan George, Chatham House
Research Director of International Security, Dr Patricia Lewis, and Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, Chairman, Intelligence and Security Committee; UK Foreign Secretary (1995-97). The session was masterfully chaired by Philippe Sands QC, Barrister, Matrix Chambers; Professor of International Law, University College London.
It was a wonderful evening in which I was able to address the development of the US position in regard to Syria and the impact that this has had on US-UK relations. It also enabled me to address the forthcoming debate in Congress.
The presentations were followed by a lively and informed Q&A session that further added to the evening.
A very nice photograph of the evening is available HERE
I was delighted to receive a very kind letter from Deputy Director of Chatham House Events, Catherine O’Keeffe:
On behalf of Chatham House, I would like to thank you very much for coming to speak to our members and guests yesterday evening. The audience greatly appreciated the opportunity to hear you discuss Syria and the international response. Your insights on US foreign policy were particularly valuable to the discussion.
Equally appreciated was your participation in the question and answer session, where you addressed a diverse set of challenging issues with great clarity. We received many positive comments from participants on how much they valued the new insights you were able to share with them.