Richard Dowden

A regular blog from RAS Director, Nicholas Westcott.


Thursday, 4 September 2014
Written by Richard Dowden
A loosely interconnected Islamist uprising is spreading from Syria in northern Arabia to Mali in West Africa and threatens to produce terrorism in Europe and the US. That is the clear and immediate danger. But the Western response to it may signal the demise of the American-led global prescription which followed the end of the Cold War in 1989. Washington proclaimed democracy, human rights and the free market. But from now on those values may be trumped by one simple demand: security. When the... more
Thursday, 21 August 2014
Written by Richard Dowden
It is the largest and most extensive outbreak since the disease was first identified in 1976. That was in Congo and consequently outbreaks have occurred in DRC again in 1995 in 2003,and in Uganda and Sudan in 2000. The total recorded deaths been recorded in these outbreaks was – according to Wikipedia – 606. All these were in rural areas. Already in West Africa the outbreak has spread to towns and more than 1000 have died. More than 2000 are infected and numbers are still rising... more
One hundred years ago this week, self regarding, ignorant and weak leaders with the primitive belief that God was on their side, ancient tribal hatreds and total disregard for human life, combined to make decisions that killed an estimated 16 million people and wounded at least 20 million. These decisions wrecked the lives of millions more, setting economies back decades, including in Africa which is often forgotten. A hundred years ago this week Europe was indeed The Hopeless Continent. Then... more
Telling Africans and their leaders what to do – or not do – is not in my nature. Outsiders do not have a good record in this area. But sometimes situations and events become so precarious and decisions taken are so obviously going to lead to disaster that you have no choice but to say something. This is Africa’s moment and the world is slowly but surely recognizing that the continent is no longer all about dictators, tribalism, wars and corruption. But some presidents –... more
When the journalist Lara Pawson asked me if RAS would host the launch of her book about an incident in Angola in 1977, I was in a dilemma. Loyalty to an old friend contended with the certainty that almost no one would want to waste an evening discussing an obscure massacre 37 years ago in Angola, a country we talk about infrequently. How wrong was I? When we held the launch it was standing room only. We had a fascinating evening as Lara and other Angola-watchers pealed away decades of lies,... more