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    Americas Gift - Is democracy the answer - Wednesday 18th April @ St Stephens Church, Westbourne Pk Rd.

    Andrew Alexander is an esteemed columnist and currently writes for the Daily Mail.

    He covers issues economic and diplomatic, often with a voice untramelled by the line of the paper, for example when he spoke out against the invasion of Iraq. Prior to The Mail, he wrote sketches for The Telegraph but left that paper largely because of his opposition to the Common Market. Alexander is a fierce opponent of the Eurozone and a critic of the EU, which, he writes, 'has become a high-cost, socialist welfare state'. His column correctly predicted that Greece would default and recently speculated that the Eurozone will collapse within the next twelve months.

    As concerns tonight's topic, Alexander's new book America and the Imperialism of Ignorance contends that the Cold War - far from vindicating America's general foreign policy - was avoidable and resulted from poor US diplomacy. Wilson, Truman, Reagan, even Carter get it in the neck for creating and perpetuating the 'military-industrial complex'. And as for the post-Cold War campaigns of a 'new moral order'...

    Alexander's articles in the field of foreign affairs come from a similar angle. He is pessimistic about any detente between a Republican US president and Iran; he laments the Afghanistan campaign's increasing unpredictability and the misleading communications between US generals and the White House, urging a speedy withdrawal from a far-away land.


    Timothy Stafford is an Associate Fellow with the Henry Jackson Society. He previously worked for the former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Tim is instantly recogniseable for his perennial cowboy boots, which he wears even in Westminster and lead some to conflate him with ___________ in The West Wing (fastest correct answer gets free ticket). Timothy holds a degree in American History and Politics from Oxford, and will begin a Masters Degree in Security Studies at Georgetown University this summer. His job tonight is to bat the American corner, which he is often called upon to do. It seems the outspoken and articulate Republican is a dying breed this side of the pond. This biography is rather shorter than the other two in this pamphlet, which only reflects the length of Tim's life thus far. We are extremely grateful to him for taking up the daunting task and opposing two such seasoned speakers.

    Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles is a retired British diplomat well-known for his independence of mind and historical understanding of diplomacy. He currently works as BAE Systems' international business development director, focusing on the Middle East and south-east Asia, where he puts to use his Arabic, Hebrew and Pashto.

    Sir Sherard served as ambassador to Afghanistan in Kabul from 2007-2009  before becoming special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He resigned from this post in September 2010 because of his frustration with the allies' military strategy and refusal to work with the Taliban, 'who had never been defeated in 2001-2'. And the special relationship loomed large. Last year, Sir Sherard published a candid account of his experiences and views, entitled 'Cables from Kabul' – it pays tribute to the servicemen while questioning the purpose and feasibility of the greater project. One and a half years later, it looks as if Sir Sherard's advice is being heeded and talks with the Taliban may be part of an exit strategy.

    Prior to his time in Afghanistan, Sir Sherard (an Oxford-educated classicist) rose through the Foreign Office, working in postings around the world, including as First Secretary in Washington. He worked as foreign secretary Robin Cook's principal private secretary (1999-2001), before serving as ambassador to Israel (2001-2003) and to Saudi Arabia (2003-2006). Charles Moore's words will balance my rather dry biography: 'I can testify to his excitement at the drama, his pleasure in the ridiculous'


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