Robert Skidelsky
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Articles from Vedomosti (Ведомости)

Moscow needs its own congestion charge
Thursday, February 19, 2004

 
One of the first Russian words I learnt was ‘probka’, or traffic jam. It must take longer to get round Moscow by car than any other city in the world. Not only do the big roads lead you in the opposite direction from where you want to go; there are far too many cars on them. Probably the main use of mobile telephones is to ring up in a ‘probka’ to explain why you are going to be late for an appointment. Congestion must cost the city’s economy billions of roubles a year.
 
Yet there is a perfectly simple, elegant solution to the problem. Economists have known about it for years, though not, apparently, anyone else. It is called ‘road pricing’. The principle is to make motorists pay for using scarce road space. ‘Tolls’ have long been used

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Population and ageing
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, February 05, 2004

 
‘It’s population, stupid’. According to an eighteenth century English clergyman, the Revd Thomas Malthus, this was the key to the great movements of history. As industrialisation spread, the fear of overpopulation declined. In the rich countries, productivity raced ahead of fertility. It was assumed that sooner or later the population of the rest of the world would stabilise. So why have we started to worry about a demographic ‘time bomb’?
 
There are two reasons. In the West, falling fertility and rising longevity create a problem of distribution between the generations; in the non-West, population is still growing strongly creating more pressure to distribute income from rich to poor countries.
 
The facts are clear. The ‘native’

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The War in Iraq: a Just War?
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, January 01, 2004

 
The most important event of 2003 was the American-led war on Iraq. The legality of this action has been much disputed. At this season of the year, a moral accounting is appropriate.
 
The Western Christian tradition accepts that war may be justified under certain circumstances. To what extent does the attack on Iraq satisfy the criteria of a ‘just’ war?
 
The most important condition is that a war should have a ‘just cause’. The most justified cause is self-defence. Chapter 7, Article 51 of the UN Charter recognises the ‘inherent right of individual or collective self-defence’.
 
The United States and its Allies argued that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and his links with the Al Qaeda terrorists made a war of self-defence

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European Defence: A Crazy Situation
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, December 04, 2003

 
‘It is unsatisfactory that 450 million Europeans rely so much on 250 million Americans to defend them’. So wrote the British diplomat Robert Cooper in a recently-published book. On 12-13 December the heads of government of EU members and candidate members -25 in all - will be meeting in Brussels to agree a new European constitution. The draft constitution, drawn up at a convention chaired by former French President Valery Giscard D’Estaing, is an attempt both to meet the challenge of enlargement and to give the EU a bigger foreign policy and defence ‘presence’. It proposes to establish a new post of EU ‘minister of foreign affairs’, and a ‘capabilities agency’ to coordinate defence technology research and encourage harmonised procurement.

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Terrorism, WMD and Hypocrisy
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, November 20, 2003

 
A spectre is haunting the world: that of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is the collective name for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. The United States and Britain said they attacked Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from using or developing them. Even more terrifying is the thought that they may be acquired by terrorist groups, who could use them to blackmail powerful countries or destroy large parts of the world. This is the nightmare scenario against which the US doctrine of preventive war is largely aimed.
 
The threat of WMD is real enough, but it comes not from ‘rogue’ or ‘failed’ states, but from the United States and Russia –the countries which possess almost all the stocks of WMD. If these stocks were eliminated,

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