The Global Affairs team share some of the most important weekly headlines that you may otherwise have missed.

A note from the editor

What a term it has been! We’ve had highs (Monday Park End), we’ve had lows (Pret running out of ice) and we’ve had everything in between (tutorials).

However your term has been I hope we’ve managed to make your Sunday a tad more informed, I’m sure the future editors of the column will do a fantastic job to ensure that it continues to do so.

This week has been one of political paradox…

Rishi Sunak has managed to his marbles whilst simultaneously keeping them.

Henry Kissinger has passed away, simultaneously being remembered as a war criminal and recipient of the Nobel peace prize.

Eleanor Luxton also brings us news of the return of Girls Aloud who, for the past couple of years have been surprisingly quiet.

Cheryl, much like Sunak has been the subject of hellenistic hatred when she refused to climb the highest point of Greece. Her return could hammer the final nail in the coffin for any British families looking for a peaceful package holiday in the Aegean as Britain’s relations with Greece reach their lowest point since the Trojan war.

I’d like to finish with a huge thank you to all who contributed this term. It has been a fantastic experience each week putting this column together and seeing some of the informative, harrowing or downright hilarious news stories put forward by you all. Thos that contribute truly make this column and I hope you continue to add to it.

After all, a lot goes on Outside OX1…

Sunak loses his marbles over… losing his marbles

Ben Nolan

The Conservative Party, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This week has been a tough one for Rishi Sunak following claims that he ‘lost his marbles’ over… well… losing his marbles. 

According to George Osborne; Chairman of the British Museum in his ‘centrist dad’ podcast ‘The Rest is Politics’… Sorry… ‘Political Currency’, Rishi Sunak threw a ‘hissy fit’ over the Greek PM Kyrakios Mitsotakis’ meeting with leader of the opposition; Kier Starmer, the day before his scheduled meeting with the UK Prime Minister. Osborne suggests that this may have contributed to the cancellation of his meeting with Mitsotakis in what appears to be a major blow to anglo-helen relations.

Further reasons for the cancellation of this meeting appear to have been a disagreement over the status of the Elgin Marbles. Mitsotakis had used interviews ahead of the anticipated talks to push for their return, a decision which appears to have bothered Sunak.

Similarly to most items in the British Museum the Elgin marbles were acquired during the height of the British Empire. More specifically, they were given to Lord Elgin, ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. While their presence in the British Museum is not a direct reminder of the violence of empire in the same way as the Benin Bronzes which were plunder of the bloody 1897 ‘punitive expedition’ (there’s a few on display in the Pitt Rivers), to many Greeks they exist as a reminder of their nationalist struggle against empire. As a result the marbles have been a point of diplomatic tension between Britain and Greece, the Parthenon museum contains missing spaces for the marbles contained in the British Museum as a constant reminder. 

The situation is made more complicated by the 1963 British Museum Act which prevents the removal of any objects from the collection. George Osborne as part of his role as British Museum Chairman has suggested a compromise arrangement where the marbles could be loaned to Greece for a period of time, however, the PM’s official spokesperson has made it clear that Sunak is not in favour of any arrangement.

In Greece, Sunak has made himself a figure of political emnity. At its most extreme the hard-right tabloid Eleftheri Ora put out the headline ‘F*** you b******’. Adonis Georgiadis, Minister for Development and Investment expressed his disappointment in an interview with BBC News where he stated ‘I felt very offended and every Greek felt offended’, ‘This is a sad day for our relationship’. In the commons Kier Starmer stooped for the open goal of a soundbite during PMQ’s and claimed Rishi Sunak had ‘lost his marbles’ to the chortling chorus of opposition (and some Conservative) MP’s.

Txllxt TxllxT, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The situation continued to be a thorn in the PM’s side throughout the week. Even during the COP conference on Friday as questions concerning the debate continued to trouble the PM’s activities. King Charles appeared to tighten the knot on his relationship with the Prime Minister as questions over his very Greek choice of tie circulated throughout the press.

Concerning future relations with Greece, Sunak the Stylite may have to come off his marble column and arrange a compromise regarding this long standing point of contention between the two nations. Or else he might find himself a Xerxes, watching over a geopolitical Salamis.

Henry Kissinger, US secretary of state to Nixon, dies at age 100 

Becky Collett

Kai Mörk, CC BY 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

Kissinger, who was one of the most controversial figures in US foreign policy in the 20th century, has died aged 100. Kissinger was educated at Harvard University, where he went on to become a professor of government before being appointed as national security advisor to Richard Nixon when he won the White House in 1968. Working closely with Nixon at the time of his presidency, he was highly influential in important decisions regarding the Vietnam war which included the secret bombing of Cambodia in 1969 and 1970. 

He survived Nixon’s subsequent downfall as a result of the Watergate scandal and went on to serve Gerald Ford before leaving government when Jimmy Carter was elected into office in 1976. 

His legacy differs greatly on the American political right and left: On the right he is seen as a master diplomat whilst on the left he is remembered for the suffering he caused to Cambodian citizens when he licensed the dropping of bombs over neutral Cambodia, in an attempt to remove Viet Cong forces from the east of the country. In a Pentagon report released in 1973, Kissinger is said to have “approved each of the 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids in 1969 and 1970″ and furthermore “the methods for keeping them out of the newspapers”.

mannhai, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Though the number of people killed by these bombs is unknown, estimates range from 50,000 to more than 150,000 people. 

An American journalist called Elizabeth Becker who covered the bombing campaign in 1973 commented “to say the bombing was imprecise… it was inhumane. It’s not just the number of people, it’s the legacy.” Though many world leaders have praised Kissinger for his role in negotiating an end to the Vietnam war, his legacy has been a profoundly dark one for those who lived in Cambodia in the 1970s. 

Death of Henry Kissinger: Tributes and Criticism from Asia

Emi Tanimoto

Unknown / Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday, the once most powerful U.S. secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, passed at the age of 100. Known as a great practitioner of realpolitik, a political principle based on pragmatism, his death has been met with both praises and criticisms from Asia.

Kissinger, a scholar turned diplomat, is most known for his realist policies during the Cold War. He helped the United States to normalize relations with the People’s Republic of China when the Cold War dynamics had been changing. During the 1970s, the U.S. had been fighting an escalating war in Vietnam, whilst the relationship between China and the Soviet Union had been deteriorating. To alleviate tensions with communist states and lessen the burden that the U.S. had in the Vietnam War, Kissinger approached China, and normalized relations.

Tributes poured in from China, referring to Kissinger as a “good old friend of the Chinese people.” The Chinese ambassador to the U.S. has commented “History will remember what the centenarian had contributed to China-US relations.” Many Chinese social media users have left respectful and admiring comments for Kissinger.

However, in many other Asian countries, criticisms of his policy decisions have arisen. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abdul Momen have condemned Kissinger’s decision to support the Pakistani government during the 1971 Bangladesh genocide so as not to offend the Pakistani government which had become a mediator between the U.S. and China. 

In Cambodia, victims of Kissinger’s brutal policies have voiced their frustration for his actions. According to a Pentagon report released in 1973, Kissinger was directly involved in the decision to bomb Cambodia 3,875 times, and to hide the atrocity from the media. The U.S. had raided the areas around the Vietnam-Cambodia border to attack the North Vietnamese. Due to his decision, over 50,000 to as high as 150,000 people had been killed, excluding the victims of mines and unexploded bombs after the Cold War. 

Moreover, the attack on Cambodia paved the way for a murderous Khmer Rouge regime to come into power, which killed approximately 1.7 million people, totalling to almost a quarter of the population. Prum Hen, who had been a refugee because she had been forced to flee her village due to the raid, stated “Let him die because he killed a lot of our people”

Although having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the legacy Kissinger leaves is not one without contestation. 

Closing Remarks – Why Girls Aloud getting back together is the Christmas present we need

Eleanor Luxton

Mandy Coombes, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, it would be hard to miss the magnificent press tour Girls Aloud have been embarking on. They arrive at Radio 2, and various podcast studios, with their instantly-likeable swagger. Self-aware enough to admit that their kids perhaps wouldn’t appreciate thousands of fans ogling them in leotards at the O2, Girls Aloud are not untouchable like their predecessors. 

In fact, despite “Cheryl” being the only one of the four remaining members – amongst Nadine Coyle, Kimberley Walsh, and Nicola Roberts – to be famous enough to do the Kylie first-name-only-trick, the Girls remain unusually normal. In fact, Cheryl’s soft-spoken Geordie lilt almost makes you forget that she was once branded ‘too sexy’ during an X Factor appearance, whilst the breathy mic-fail disaster that was her Stand Up to Cancer performance in 2012 gave strong diva-next-door energy. Fight For This Love was her stand-out hit, coming mere months before her divorce from Ashley Cole. It may seem tackily-2009 now, but the shapes thrown by those fishnet-gloved hands – and the iconic London Underground-red soldier get up – changed our musical landscape (and put me off footballers forever). 

Aside from their solo (un)successes, Girls Aloud have become a dose of 00s nostalgia for those of us too young to appreciate Spice Girls, and too cool to be fans of The Saturdays. Formed by ITV’s Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, Girls Aloud was a product of its time – namely, an era when Davina McCall was the queen of TV presenting, and we all had hope. 2002 marked the start of I’m a Celebrity, CBBC, and of course the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. What better way to celebrate than with a new girl group for the new millennium? 

Besides being much-loved pop royalty, Girls Aloud are known for their memeability. Just Google “Nadine Coyle pronouncing flour” and you’ll understand what I mean. On that note, Coyle is perhaps the most iconic member – her California-based Irish pub was called “Nadine’s Irish Mist”, which sounds like a joke but genuinely isn’t. The best part is that it stayed in business for seven years. Despite the drama being over 20 years old, Coyle apparently still gets flack for lying about her age on Popstars, suggesting that it has well and truly entered pop-fandom folklore. 

wonker from London, United Kingdom, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But other members have brought their regional charms into the band too. Kimberley Walsh is Bradford born and bred, and starred alongside fellow Bradfordian Adil Rashid in a community cricket campaign this Summer, whilst Nicola Roberts’ childhood encounters with orange Scousers fuelled her anti-tanning and anti-bullying activism. But Walsh stands out as the committed ‘mumfluencer’ of the group. She hasn’t just fronted campaigns from Dorothy Perkins, Very, and Regatta – distinctly ‘white British mum’ brands – but started her own kids’ brand Kimba Kids in 2017. 

There is, of course, a notable omission from The Girls Aloud Show 2024 – Sarah Harding passed away aged just 39 years old from breast cancer in 2021. Like the rest of the girls, she’d found fame from a very normal background – Harding has been a Pizza Hut waitress, debt collector and call centre operator according to Wikipedia. She was much-loved due to her many reality TV appearances and the reunion tour is a fitting tribute to her life and legacy. The Girls admitted that, although they didn’t know how the band would work without its fifth compadre, they’d be bringing out all the hits for their stadium appearances. I wait in eager anticipation – with other Hunsnet stans – desperate to relive the days of matching outfits, New Look clothes lines, and Cheryl refusing to climb to the highest point in Greece

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