Dec 19, 2009

An abuse of intelligence

The U.K. government has been under pressure for some years to hold an inquiry into British participation in the Iraq war and on the events that led up to the decision to go to war. The various previous inquiries were seen by many as ...

Dec 4, 2009

Wishing the science away

LONDON — Ahead of the Copenhagen conference on climate change (which starts Monday), those who have argued that there is no conclusive proof that climate change is man-made were encouraged by the recent leak of e-mails from the archives of the University of East ...

Nov 24, 2009

An able, nonpolitical civil service

LONDON — In Britain and Japan, civil servants are supposed to be nonpolitical and to give unbiased advice. But their independence is threatened by some politicians who want posts to be filled by what Margaret Thatcher used to call “one of us” — people ...

Oct 22, 2009

Does Japan really want to stay competitive?

LONDON — The reported remarks to members of the foreign press in Tokyo on Oct. 14 by Shizuka Kamei, Japan’s minister for financial issues, made me wonder whether he was living in the real world — where nations are interdependent and must compete to ...

Oct 8, 2009

Bureaucracy gone mad

Two policewomen with children work part time. While one is on duty, the other looks after the children of both families. When education authorities learn of this arrangement, they forbid it, as neither policewoman has a certificate allowing her to act as a child ...

Sep 11, 2009

Shifting balances of power

The hope was that the League of Nations before World War II and the United Nations, its postwar successor, would provide a more effective way of ensuring world peace than the “Balance of Power” that Britain, in particular, had tried to maintain in Europe ...

Sep 2, 2009

Justice, clemency and U.K. politics

The secretary for justice in the devolved government in Scotland decided Aug. 20 to release Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, the only individual who had been convicted of involvement in the so-called Lockerbie tragedy. This terrorist incident occurred more than 20 years ago when a ...

Aug 11, 2009

Seven topics for a summer day

LONDON — As Japanese lawmakers campaign for the Aug. 30 Lower House election, British members of Parliament are in recess and Prime Minister Gordon Brown is on holiday. Papers and weeklies are scraping the barrel for something to write about. Many fill their columns ...

Jul 28, 2009

Challenge of a straight question

LONDON — Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, recently was asked twice by the Defense Committee of the House of Commons whether the army chief of staff had requested that reinforcements of 2,000 men be sent to Afghanistan, where British forces have recently suffered ...