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2012 February Issue

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Defence has always been a hot topic on the diplomatic community’s agenda, but today, in an increasingly interdependent world, never has it been more talked about. With this in mind, this month we have produced a special report on defence, with some interesting contributions including a couple from London’s missions. We have a general look into organised mass force, from the Spartans and Romans to the modern day. Whether it’s protesters in Libya, Egypt and Syria, networked rioters in London or cunning Somali pirates hijacking large ships, the issue is the same: what are the modern limits of organised official power? This leads us on to the problem of how much taxpayers’ money modern governments should spend on defence.

Globalisation has created powerful new incentives for international co-operation, however these relationships inevitably change over time. European nations cannot continue to rely on America to guarantee their security indefinitely, especially if they are not willing to contribute their share to that effort. We conclude that innovative thinking is required when dealing with these difficult choices; strategic decisions and threat assessments should be made for future defence reviews before financial considerations are taken into account. We also consider global cyber security, with an expert outlining how nations should address cyber-threats and protect their citizens.

Even with the disturbing news that over 70 per cent of the world’s population suffers from high or very high restrictions on freedom of religion, Diplomat expected such restrictions to occur far from home. Yet the burka is now banned in Belgium and France, as are the construction of new minarets in Switzerland and the display of crucifixes in the classrooms of state schools in Italy. This gives the impression that Europe says one thing to the world and does another within its own borders. Sometimes we need to turn the mirror around and look at how well we protect freedom of religion or belief for all within our own societies.

In the same vein, we profile Tibet’s new political leader-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay. His is an extraordinary and unique appointment: at the age of 43, he takes over the day-to-day political leadership of the Tibetan Central Administration from the 14th Dalai Lama. It marks the first step in passing the mantle of leadership to a younger generation, breaking a 400-year-old stipulation that such events come only with the death of the spiritual leader and his subsequent reincarnation.

According to the IMF, the African continent is expected to host more than half of the world’s top 10 fastest-growing economies of 2012. In fact, research has found return on capital for over 950 African enterprises to be on average 11 per cent higher than in Latin America and Asia, and 70 per cent more profitable than similar Chinese firms. In this issue Diplomat makes a specific case for investing in Sub-Saharan Africa. Will it be the globe’s new economic frontier?

As always, Diplomat reviews the credentials of new heads of mission to the Court of St James’s, this month meeting with the Ambassador of Panama and the High Commissioners for Canada, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea. For our series of photographic portraits, we feature Her Excellency Karine Kazinian, Ambassador of Armenia.

In the lifestyle section, Diplomat travels to the exclusive private island of Mustique to stay in the luxurious Cotton House, enjoys a stay at The Goring and lunch at Green’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar in St James’s. Readers with a taste for culture will find valuable advice in our book and art reviews, including details of the fabulous new Lucian Freud exhibition at Blain Southern.

Finally, we want to hear from you, our readers, on article suggestions, new appointments, local news, issues and other embassy events that you would like covered.

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