In my view column

Relocation inflation

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The ferment over the US subprime mortgage market, which has been helping to make the money markets so unsteady in recent weeks, tends to ignore one aspect: people are so desperate to obtain decent housing they will take on debt they are simply incapable of ever paying back.

The subprime market was aimed at those sections of US society who were too poor to gain mortgage credit any other way. They were people who lived on benefits, or very low wages, and who often had a bad credit rating. Suddenly a few years ago they were promised a dream home bought on credit with very few questions asked.

Fighting the long war

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The political landscape is starting to change around the anti-war movement. The departure of Tony Blair from office much earlier than he would have preferred - itself the result of the catastrophe in Iraq and the consistent campaigning of the movement - creates a new situation.

The British government is already committed to a gradual military withdrawal from Iraq, where the troops now seem to be serving no conceivable purpose even in the government's own terms. Gordon Brown may decide to accelerate this process. Likewise, he may announce a clear intention to set up an inquiry into the circumstances under which the country went to war in 2003.

Brown In, Troops Out?

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Will Gordon Brown pull the troops out of Iraq? He'd be a fool if he didn't try.

After all, the most recent election results demonstrate a high degree of hostility †“ still - to his predecessor's most disastrous policy. It is widely assumed that the victory of the Scottish National Party in Scotland was in a large part down to an anti-war vote.

The war remains unpopular everywhere, opposition to it is embedded deep into popular consciousness and its escalating costs are counterposed to government parsimony in nearly every other area of government spending.

Bad politics and worse history

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The war in Afghanistan ended more than five years ago. The BBC's John Simpson told us so as he helped "liberate" Kabul perched on a British tank.

Four years ago the BBC, along with the world's press, reported the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, and proclaimed an era of peace and liberation for the Iraqi people.

What a difference half a decade makes. The Karzai government controls less and less Afghan territory, and that control relies on the US and British led Nato army. The Taliban, largely unlamented in 2001 when it was overthrown, is gaining support from a population sick of being targets of US bombs and tanks. It now controls half of Afghanistan.


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