Peter Millett » Ambassador to Jordan, Amman

Our Common Agenda

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The headlines have been full of conflict and argument about extremism and fanaticism. Yet there is a paradox in the debate. On the one hand “We Are All Charlie” and “We Are All Moath”. But on the other there is a perception of conflict between “The West” and Islam. Language which emphasises “jihad” or “crusade” suggests that there is a religious battle. But that diverts the debate away from the … Read more »Our Common Agenda

Time to Stand and Stare

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These days everyone seems to be in a hurry. Having a “busy schedule” has almost become a badge of honour of modern life. Employees rush from one meeting to the next; parents try to cram in lots of activities for their children; we hardly have time to stop and appreciate the world around us. It wasn’t meant to be like this. New gadgets and gizmos were supposed to save time … Read more »Time to Stand and Stare

Who Needs Diplomats?

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Diplomacy is an old profession. Over two thousand years ago Greek city states used to send envoys to negotiate war, peace and trade. But surely with new technology, governments don’t need intermediaries? They can use the internet, videoconferencing and Skype to talk to each other. And with multiple news websites, instant reporting and people uploading their own videos onto Youtube, capitals don’t need diplomats to tell them what’s happening. And … Read more »Who Needs Diplomats?

Tunisia: Top of the Class?

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Last week I visited Tunisia for a conference. The preparations for last weekend’s Presidential elections were in full swing.   As the taxi driver who drove me from the airport said: “We are proud to be Tunisians: top of the Arab Spring Class of 2011.” Sunday’s vote was indeed the first freely contested Presidential election in Tunisia’s history. As with the Parliamentary elections held last month, they have been peaceful and … Read more »Tunisia: Top of the Class?

Trashy Stories

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Walking down from the Citadel to the centre of Amman a few weeks ago, we saw three boys sitting by the steps. I was showing some guests around, tourists from Britain.  The boys were about 7 – 8 years old and were eating crisps and drinking juice, watching people climbing and descending the stairs that lace that part of Amman. As we walked past them, one of the boys threw … Read more »Trashy Stories

Aramram: Challenge and Controversy

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Life would be dull if we all agreed with each other. Fortunately, differences of opinion are inevitable. They are also healthy. Whether disagreement revolves around what to watch on TV or where to eat, an open discussion will often lead to a better choice being made. The same applies to policy issues. An exchange of views on the options, say for the energy sector, means that people can evaluate all … Read more »Aramram: Challenge and Controversy

Learning for Life

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The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the world’s most prestigious awards. This year it was won by a Pakistani schoolgirl who fought for the right to learn. At 17 Malala Yousafzai was the youngest person ever to win the prize. She was told about it during a chemistry class at Edgbaston High School in Birmingham in the UK. Malala became a household name after being shot in the head … Read more »Learning for Life

Scotland The Wise

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Three weeks ago the Economist’s front cover pictured a drooping Union Jack with the headline: UK RIP? Fortunately the dismemberment of the United Kingdom didn’t happen. Scots voted by a 10% margin to retain the union. But it was a close run thing.                           If the campaign for independence had been successful, the impact of Scotland becoming a … Read more »Scotland The Wise

Box? What box?

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I’ve lost count of the number of times we have been exhorted to “think outside the box”. Worthy management gurus parroting clichés and senior managers trying to sound trendy have turned it into a hackneyed and meaningless phrase. The approach it advocates is also self-defeating. It suggests that the box – and the constrained and unimaginative thinking that rests within it – remains valid. It gives the impression that we … Read more »Box? What box?

What is the NATO Summit about?

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His Majesty King Abdullah will be in Wales tomorrow for the NATO Summit. Why is this meeting important? The Summit will be the largest gathering of world leaders ever hosted in the UK. It brings Prime Minister Cameron, President Obama, Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and many other world leaders together at a difficult and sensitive time. Why is this such a key moment? Won’t this just be another expensive gathering … Read more »What is the NATO Summit about?