Wednesday, March 09, 2005

# Posted 10:03 AM by Patrick Belton  

I'M BACK: Perspicacious readers of this site will have doubtless noted my comparative absence from its lines over the past two months. I'm afraid in the intervening period I suffered a rather unexpected personal loss, which necessitated spending a bit of time on finding my feet again. But at length I realised I couldn't let Josh and David go on having all the fun without me, so I'm here to pick up my keyboard again with pluck and carry on posting.

I plan to be unconscionably indulgent in the coming weeks, by devoting a bit of space to a handful of topics I'm at the moment particularly keen to explore. Being the month in which my name day habitually falls, I'd like to do a few interviews toward the end of March with several emerging young writers and artists in both the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland. I'm also rather eager to have a handful of conversations in this space with a few other people I'm just simply interested in speaking with - for starters, politicians and strategists from both Israel and the Palestinian Authority; (comparatively) newly elected assembly members in Iraq and Afghanistan; and Iranian bloggers - each about their own perspectives and insights into their respective situations. Over at Nathan Hale (our non-partisan, foreign policy think tank made up of young academics and foreign policy professionals), we'll be launching a research listserv shortly on democratisation (sneak peek) - we've also recently started up a working papers series with much kind industry from our fellows and above all from our Director of Studies Bob Kokta, with resulting reports up for your viewing pleasure on democratisation in the Muslim world, Sistani and Iraqi democratisation, Iraqi views on US and UK policy, and how best to promote both liberalism and democracy in Saudi Arabia, among other topics. (We're always happy to take a look at submissions, too!) In my own corner, I'll have - separate, incidentally - pulpy publications out shortly on French Muslims, Indian foreign policy under Congress, and Paddy's Day, so I'll warn our readers when they fall stillborn from the press, so you can safely avoid the thud. And that along with the usual daily dose of whatever interesting, intellectually provocative, or unintellectually silly and amusing comes my way.

And if I might be forgiven a personal observation, I've rather missed you all, both our readers and fellow bloggers. I'm quite looking forward to being back.

p.s. I've also incidentally returned to find blogger speaking, apparently, monolingual Japanese. It's so quaintly 1980s.
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