Peter Apps

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‘Imagining Britain in 2030’

What will Britain look like by 2030? How will Brexit have played out or will the process be still ongoing? Will Great Britain’s map have changed or will greater devolution have resulted in a tweaking of borders? What kind of government might be in power?

A panel of experts gathered to discuss these questions and more at Juju’s Bar and Stage. The discussion, titled ‘Imagining Britain in 2030’ was moderated by Peter Apps, Reuters Global Affairs Columnist.

Paul Swinney, Head of Policy and Research at the Centre for Cities started off the discussion speaking on the reality of future changes to the world of work, such as the rise of the robots, will play out across the country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Professional forecasters like to say that making predictions is difficult, particularly about the future. However, here are some of the key themes — and questions — that look set to shape global events this year.

Will prosecutor Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation mark the end of Donald Trump’s presidency?

Trump didn’t expect to be Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 2017, but 2018 could be the year that we get a clearer idea of the legacy he will leave.

First, it should become clear just how much mileage Mueller’s probe into alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election really has.…  Seguir leyendo »

Imagining war in 2030

The future of warfare may be coming faster than we think.

That, at least, felt like the conclusion of Tuesday’s panel on “Imagining War in 2030”, organized by the Project for the Study of the 21st Century and the British Army Intrapreneurs’ Network [BrAIN]. With dozens of military and civilian attendees packed into a relatively airless conference room in Whitehall, a panel of leading experts sketched out what looks to be a period of massive technical, geopolitical and deeply unpredictable change.

Royal United Services Institute Futures and Technology fellow Elizabeth Quintana sketched out some of the technical breakthroughs coming down the line as nations invest in new cyber, electromagnetic and growing technologies as well as hypersonic and other weaponry.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched the ground jet test of a Korean-style high-thrust engine newly developed by the Academy of the National Defence Science in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on March 19, 2017. KCNA/via Reuters

As U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned Washington’s “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended and “all options are on the table” to slow its nuclear ambitions, U.S. and South Korean forces were preparing for a range of military scenarios.

As many as 300,000 mainly South Korean and U.S. personnel are involved in military drills that will run until the end of April. These exercises have been a feature of life on the peninsula since the Korean War ended in a 1953. In recent years, they have become larger and more realistic.

Every U.S. president since at least Bill Clinton has confronted North Korea’s weapons program and been offered a range of potential military action to tackle them.…  Seguir leyendo »

Imagining 2030: the European Union 15 years after Brexit

As Lord Nigel Farage does the round of life-streaming chat shows in the run up to the fifteenth anniversary of the Brexit vote, it is hard to believe that the 67-year-old is still almost 4 years younger than Donald Trump was when he won the US presidential election that same year.

Both Brexit and the Trump victory were seen at the time very much as the revenge of an older generation that, younger liberals clearly hoped, would soon be gone again. That hasn’t quite happened – or at least, it hasn’t happened yet. Like so much else in politics, however, all sides of the political spectrum may well be reluctantly concluding that both defendants were both not quite as good and not quite as bad as they might initially have feared.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA on the spot. KCNA/via REUTERS

With a suspected role in the assassination of his estranged half-brother and a string of increasingly aggressive missile tests, the North Korean leader appears to be testing the patience not just of Washington but also his key ally, China. It’s a high-stakes game that may push the region into the worst conflict it has ever seen. Kim Jong Un’s actions have a ruthless internal logic, however, – and while he has a plan, there is no sign that anyone has a coherent strategy for stopping him.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned that Washington and Pyongyang were racing towards an unnecessary but dangerous confrontation, calling on North Korea to listen to international condemnation of its nuclear and missile tests.…  Seguir leyendo »

George W. Bush invaded Iraq to remove its – ultimately nonexistent – weapons of mass destruction. Barack Obama used cyber weaponry and sanctions to deter Iran from building its own atomic bomb. Now Donald Trump faces North Korea, but stopping its nuclear and missile program may prove impossible, creating what may be his first and perhaps defining international crisis.

Trump has been left to confront North Korea’s nuclear activities because his predecessors failed to manage them. The regime in Pyongyang, meanwhile, continues to build ever more dangerous – and hard-to-destroy or intercept – weapons systems.

North Korea has been a thorn in the side of the United States since the days of Harry S.…  Seguir leyendo »

The killing of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday evening might have prompted knee-jerk comparisons to the 1914 assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, but it almost certainly won’t spark a World War One-type conflict. The lethal truck attack that killed 12 in Berlin a few hours later, however, could ratchet up the prospect of yet another political shock in Europe.

2016 looks set to keep throwing out unexpected, often brutal surprises right to its end. If 1989 – the year the Berlin wall fell – was the point at which globalization, liberal democracy and the Western view of modernity was seen to triumph, the year now concluding might yet be seen as when the wheels came off.…  Seguir leyendo »

Somewhere in the autumn gales and rain squalls of the North Sea, Russia’s only aircraft carrier is heading south to war.

According to Russia’s TASS news agency, the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and seven more vessels sailed Saturday from the Northern Fleet’s Arctic headquarters of Severomorsk. It’s the eighth time the ship and its escorts have made the journey to the Mediterranean, a trip that has become a key part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy to reassert Moscow’s naval strength and reach.

This deployment, though, is very different. Moscow has spent considerable resources over the last decade developing the ability to conduct operations from the carrier, launched in the dying days of the Soviet Union.…  Seguir leyendo »

The landmark deal last week between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov is, in many ways, a major breakthrough. It may well save lives. Against the backdrop of what has been the worst war of the 21st century, that’s a prize worth seizing.

The problem: The effects will be strictly limited. The agreement is really several significant, but limited, tactical deals – on aid, on local ceasefires and on coordination against certain Islamist groups that both Washington and Moscow don’t want to see as part of the long-term future of Syria.

That’s something, to be sure.…  Seguir leyendo »

We all remember where we were when the planes hit the World Trade Center — and then the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania — 15 years ago this Sunday.

I was barely 20 years old, offshore in the Bay of Biscay as a volunteer able-bodied crewmember on a square red sailing ship for disabled people. Immediately, one had the feeling that the destiny of millions of people – perhaps many I knew – had been immediately changed.

For the officials in authority, it was likely even more jarring. For them, it meant nothing less than changing the way the West approached the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

(Note: paragraph 4 contains language that may offend some readers)

If you’re a historic U.S. ally under mounting pressure from an emerging superpower like China, it’s probably not a good idea to use a crude sexual epithet to describe the American president. Filipino leader Rodrigo Duterte, though, is far from a normal president. And his behavior – and that of his government – is increasingly posing a serious challenge to Washington on an ever-growing variety of levels.

Washington’s relations with the Philippines have always been complex. The Philippines were one of the very few U.S. colonies overseas before they were granted independence in 1946, although the United States retained several sovereign bases.…  Seguir leyendo »

The streets of France have been subdued this summer. Tourism is down. Public events have been canceled or curtailed. Red-bereted paratroopers patrol through crowded streets, assault rifles held at their sides.

The soldiers are unmistakably ready for trouble. Many wear armored gloves in the mid-summer heat, ready to grapple with any knife-wielding attacker. Body armor and webbing pouches are stuffed with ammunition-heavy magazines.

It’s now well over a month since the July 14 Bastille Day truck attack in Nice killed 86 people – and there is a clear sense of relief that Europe has been spared an attack on that scale since.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two years into Washington’s war against Islamic State, it may finally be winning. At the same time, however, its influence over events in the broader Middle East seems perhaps terminally in decline.

What happens in the coming months and years in Syria will be key to the future shape of the region. No country has challenged U.S. policymakers more – and the Obama administration has faced heavy criticism.

This month, however, has seen what feels like the first good news for the United States from Syria since the uprising began.

In early August, U.S.- backed Syrian forces seized back the town of Manbij.…  Seguir leyendo »

If exhausted and overstretched US and European officials could have done without one thing this weekend, it would have been a military coup in Turkey.

Turkey had remained relatively stable during the “Arab Spring” convulsions that have wracked the rest of the region since 2011. Indeed, its messy but in some sense is functional democracy was seen as one of the few role models for nearby states. Now, those assumptions will have to be undone.

Idiosyncratic, deeply divided and always a difficult partner, Turkey is central to the West’s strategy for dealing with a host of major crises, particularly the conflict with Islamic State and Europe’s refugee crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

A century ago this weekend, my great-grandfather – a corporal in the Liverpool-recruited King’s Regiment – was waiting to go “over-the-top” at the Somme.

Sent to pick up the company rum ration before the assault, he wound up drinking it and woke up after the action – or at least, that’s the story he told the family after World War One was over.

Perhaps his superiors were in an unusually forgiving mood. Or perhaps, like many others, he was just looking for a way to avoid retelling his experiences. By the end of the first day, the Allies had suffered almost 60,000 casualties for precious little ground.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Barack Obama is calling the slaughter at a gay nightclub in Orlando an “act of terror and hate.” According to a militant-affiliated news agency, Islamic State claims the attack was carried out by “one of its fighters."

Much remains unclear about the attack – the deadliest on American soil since 9/11. But the threat now, it seems, is very different to that faced 15 years ago – and getting caught up in the labels misses the point.

In the short term, a huge chunk of the media and law enforcement attention will be on the motivation and background of the apparent perpetrator, 29-year-old Omar Mateen.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s the near future, and North Korea’s regime is on the brink of collapse. As rumors swirl of palace coups, forces on both sides of the world’s most militarized border are on heightened alert. The U.S. military faces a much bigger problem. Somewhere in the Pacific, a North Korean submarine is believed to be carrying nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them. And nobody knows where it is.

It sounds like the plot of a “Hunt for Red October”-style technothriller. But if Pyongyang’s technicians continue at their current pace, experts say it is becoming ever more likely.

One thing is certain: North Korea is plowing considerable resources into building its nuclear capability.…  Seguir leyendo »

It didn't take long for London's new mayor to make a splash on the world stage: He knocked a fast but effective hole in Donald Trump’s proposed temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the United States.

In many ways, of course, it wasn't a particularly meaningful victory. Trump may never reach the White House. Even if he does, how he might implement his ban is still far from clear. Trump himself now says Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim to become mayor of a major Western city, would be an "exception" to his proposed policy. But it is not clear what that means, either.…  Seguir leyendo »

If Wednesday's ceasefire in Aleppo holds, it could be a real turning point in what has become the world's worst -- and perhaps most geopolitically complex -- conflict in recent memory.

After four years of fighting, however -- particularly heavy for the last two weeks -- it’s unclear whether the truce will stick. The tactical situation in the city remains largely murky. For government forces, rebels and their international backers alike, what happens in Aleppo is seen as setting the tone for the rest of the country.

The question now is whether the ceasefire pushes them towards a negotiated settlement that could ultimately begin to restore Syria's stability -- or simply represents a lull before yet more battles.…  Seguir leyendo »