In his speech last night, the President stated that the United States had a 'responsibility to lead', and that the values of freedom, justice, and dignity underpin American leadership in an uncertain world. Adherence to these principles has been found wanting in recent years; let's hope that policymakers remember them while they search for a comprehensive response to the Islamic State's provocations.
Next Thursday, Scotland will vote on whether it wants to stay in the United Kingdom or leave and become separate from the rest of the UK. In the last few weeks, the polls have narrowed considerably with one YouGov poll on Sunday suggesting that - for the first time - the "Yes" campaign is in the lead by 1 point. What's clear is it is neck-and-neck.
Let's be honest, at this stage in the game it is not about facts anymore: the McCrone Report, the Wee Blue Book or the shady (and very temporary) Scottish House Buying Clause, all have been shared extensively. The information is out there if you want it but you are likely to only consume and believe literature that supports your existing beliefs.
There is an amazing political discourse running across Scotland that brings in so many people who, like me, have no interest in being part of politics and who have nothing personal to gain from the outcome on September 18th. But for the first time in a very long time we all go to the polls knowing each one of our votes really counts.
This is a perfect storm scenario. Countries such as the UK, with a history of dominance and empire and educational excellence, need to look beyond the obvious. The world is going to be a very different place in just a couple of decades. Economic and cultural hegemony is not a birthright and can easily shift to the east throughout this century.
The General Election is just 10 months away. But the focus of its debate is a generational challenge to share the benefits of growth, in an environment of ongoing reductions in public spending. The good news is that the current squeeze in living standards is not inevitable and there are choices we make to reach a different outcome.
Most people are familiar with what is known as Hard Power. The idea that someone with more swords, bigger guns and overwhelming military ability can force someone to do something against their will but which is almost entirely in favour of those holding the gun. History is full of situations, the ancient Chinese, Persians, Romans all the way through to the British, French, American and Russians...
Wouldn't it be nice to think that our national sport, with its ability to both unite and divide communities, could lead the way in bringing the British people together with a shared vision of a modern, multi-cultural, multi-national country, albeit one with a outdated fondness for the 4-4-2 formation?
I have no idea whether he is racist, though I suspect he isn't. Intended or not, ill-used words do cause damage but it is the presence or absence of hateful intent behind such remarks rather than the words used that define the mindset of the speaker. We can't read minds so we interpret that intent, by proxy, from people's words...
The United Kingdom should take the ICC's investigation in stride to show its younger, oversized, wayward little brother that there is nothing to be afraid of--and that global leadership in the 21st century demands constructive engagement, even with those institutions and organizations whose mandates you find disagreeable. This is a powerful aesthetic opportunity. The UK shouldn't waste it.
Of course many people around the United Kingdom are fed up with conventional politics, disgusted by the sleaze, expenses scandals and London centricity. But that does not mean we should give up on the union. Rather, we should be even more engaged in it to change it for the better. It is only by acting together that we can make the United Kingdom work for everyone.
Thus far the 'No' campaign has been rather more Jeremy Kyle than Made in Chelsea. It has been so shamelessly threatening that at times I have wondered if it is part of a covert plot to drive Scotland away. As we have got closer to the September vote, the arguments against independence have got more desperate and apocalyptic.