Monday, September 16, 2013

Selected FP spots 9-15 September 2013

Every day I spend time clearing Feedly of the close to 500 feeds I've asked it to follow, most connected to British politics, Britain's international relations or international relations in general. Feedly, and before it Google Reader, have long been the way I follow the news, announcements by government, the work of Parliament, think tank publications, events, blogs, and any websites that catch my eye.

Sometimes I miss clearing it for 2-3 days, in which case I face the chore of clearing a backlog of several thousand unread articles. Whether it's a night's worth of feeds or a backlog from a bank holiday weekend, I'll end up skimming most of the articles headlines or summaries. As with skimming a newspaper, only a small proportion of the articles I skim over will interest me. Often a lot of will be repeated in several feeds, the product of that day's news. But everyday articles are fed through that don't fit that day's news summaries. Often they can be reports from think tanks, publications by government, or the work of Parliament.

Once I've read an article that interests me it usually follows the thousands I skimmed over by being stamped 'marked as read', most never to be seen again. But sometimes an article sticks in my mind that I want to do more with. Some end up saved, then perhaps entered into Zotero. The lucky ones even make it into articles and research. But I've long wanted to try and do more with them than this. So each week I'm going to flag up ten articles I've found of interest, specifically those relating to the UK's international relations. My criteria for interesting? They don't fit the daily news agenda, or if they do they stand out as they say something different.

This is going to take some time to refine, and this week's entry isn't helped by how it was only on Wednesday that I thought I should start doing this, by which time half the week's feeds were marked as read. That, and the lack of a paywall, explains the number of Guardian pieces. That said, here's a first attempt...

1. The Guardian reports on life on the distant remnant of empire that is Ascension Island where inhabitants fear they may be headed the same way as the original inhabitants of Diego Garcia.
2. Mats Persson writes in the Guardian about what the Swedish 2003 Euro referendum can teach us about any UK in-out referendum on the EU. I've argued the way Britain is approaching the issue won't work, and in his piece Mats Persson makes a contribution which goes some way beyond the shallow way an in-out referendum is debated in the UK. 
3. Writing in the Conversation, Michael Galsworthy and Michael Browne make a case for the UK to remain in the EU for the benefits it brings for scientific research. Meanwhile elsewhere on The Conversation John Bryson argues a skills shortage in engineering is undermining Britain's chance of global success. 
4. Writing in the Guardian, Michael White draws out what the German elections could mean for UK-EU relations. 
5. International Affairs September issue has a series of articles on the UK, covering everything from the UK's strategic choices in the face of a US pivoting towards Asia, through to Britain's diaspora links providing new links for its place in the world. There's even a book review by a one Tim Oliver... 
6. The Guardian's map of the UK's arms trade offers a reminder of how local this issue is.
7. The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs looks back at the effects on Britain's place in the world of HM the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
8. The House of Commons Library has updated its Commons Library Standard Note on Parliamentary approval for deploying the armed forces. 
9. The Syria vote continues to provoke debate. Nick Cohen has little time for Ed Miliband's position. Meanwhile, as the Guardian reports, several senior politicians signed a letter drafted by Save the Children, urging the UK not to forget its humanitarian responsibilities. 
10. Tim Street, writing on the BASIC blog, explores the democratic and legal background to Britain's nuclear weapon system, a topic often overlooked in a debate too often narrowed to one of cost. 

On Tuesday the Liberal Democrat conference will see debates and votes on Europe and Trident. I'll therefore leave until next week any articles examining the Liberal Democrat approach to these issues.