Gideon Rachman

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Full name: Gideon Rachman

Area of interest: Foreign affairs (esp. American foreign policy, the European Union), Globalisation

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times


Personal website:


Blog: / The World: Gideon Rachman and his FT colleagues debate international affairs





Education: Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University: History (first class honours degree)

Career: Commenced career at BBC World Service: presenter and producer of current affairs programmes - including 24 Hours and The World Today, 1984/1987; Visiting fellow and Fulbright scholar at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, 1987/1988; The Sunday Correspondent: reporter (based in Washington DC), 1989/1990; The Economist: US editor, South-east Asia correspondent (Bangkok), Britain editor (London) 1997/2000, bureau chief, EU correspondent and wrote 'Charlemagne' column (Brussels); The Washington Quarterly: contributing editor, 1996/2006; joined the Financial Times in 2006

Current position/role: Chief foreign affairs commentator

Other roles/Main role:

Other activities:


Viewpoints/Insight: Gideon Rachman's blog opening statement - Financial Times, 31st August 2006

Broadcast media:

Video: regular appearances on TV and radio, including CNN, BBC, Sky, Fox and NPR




Other: Brother of author Tom Rachman

Books & Debate:

Latest work:

Speaking/Appearances: see Insight Bureau - moderator/speaker at numerous academic and business events, including conferences

Current debate:

Financial Times:

Column name:

Remit/Info: Foreign affairs, esp. American foreign policy, European Union, Globalisation

Section: Comment

Role: Chief foreign affairs columnist



Website: FT.Com / Gideon Rachman

Commissioning editor:

Day published: Tuesday

Regularity: Regular weekly column and more frequent 'International Affairs Blog'

Column format:

Average length: 1050 words

Articles: 2017

Articles: 2016

Articles: 2015

Articles: 2014

Articles: 2013

Articles: 2012

Articles: 2011

Articles: 2010

Articles: 2009

  • The grim theme linking the year’s main events - The international euphoria that surrounded the election of Obama probably peaked on the very day of his inauguration. It has been downhill all the way since - 24th December
  • Europe does not need a big shot - There are two problems with nominating an EU president. First is the job’s shaky legitimacy. Second is a lack of unity that bedevils efforts to create a European foreign policy. Both issues would be made worse by appointing Tony Blair - 27th October
  • How small nations were cut adrift - In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the economic and political tide has turned against small nations. Look around Europe and it is the smalls that have fared worst - 20th October
  • Obama must start punching harder - The notion that Mr Obama is a weak leader is spreading in ways that are dangerous to his presidency. The Nobel Peace Prize will not help. Peace is all very well. But Mr Obama now needs to pick a fight in public, and win it quickly - 13th October
  • Europe’s plot to take over the world - The realisation that the G20 is Europe’s Trojan horse struck me at the G20’s last summit in Pittsburgh. The surroundings and atmosphere were strangely familiar. And then I understood; this was just a global version of a European Union summit - 6th October
  • Iran tests the world’s collective will - For those western leaders who are hoping the UN will tackle the frightening global challenges identified in New York last week by Barack Obama, it is all very depressing. But if the UN is blocked or ineffective, then the search will be on for new forums and methods - 29th September (see: Iran: summary)
  • Germany retreats to old certainties - Barring a huge upset, Sunday’s elections will see Angel Merkel returned as chancellor, at the head of yet another coalition government. So no change in Germany, then? It would be a mistake to believe that - 22nd September
  • China makes gains in its bid to be top dog - Last week a Tibetan mastiff was flown into Xian airport in central China, where it received a welcome fit for an emperor. The dog was swept into town by a convoy of 30 Mercedes-Benz cars - 15th September
  • The crude realities of diplomacy - Politicians know that voters will punish them if fuel prices soar, or if there are electricity shortages. But they also know that if they openly put the search for oil at the heart of their foreign policies, they are liable to be denounced as cynical and immoral - 8th September
  • Japan’s continuity we can believe in - The new narrative is that the electoral triumph of the DPJ is Japan’s big chance to break with the years of stagnation. But the story of Japan over the past 20 years is by no means as dismal as much western commentary would have it - 1st September
  • Europe braces for a Baltic blast - The intensifying crisis in the Baltics cannot be treated as a freakish local squall of little concern to outsiders. Bank failures or plunging currencies in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia could threaten the fragile prospect of recovery in the rest of Europe - 4th August
  • Climate activists in denial - Most activists believe a failure to achieve an agreement in Copenhagen would be catastrophic. But they also know that, even if a deal is reached, it is likely to be ineffective. If they admit this publicly, they risk creating a climate of despair and inaction. But if they press ahead, they are putting all their energy into an approach that is unlikely to deliver - 28th July
  • Why the world need a United Nations army - The disjointed pirate hunting operation off Somalia and the inadequate forces inside the country show the UN needs to be able to deploy peacekeepers quickly, and that means keeping a force on permanent stand-by. It is time finally to bite the bullet and give the UN a permanent military capacity - 21st July
  • Obama must be firm on foreign policy - Barack Obama’s charismatic aura is obscuring an uncomfortable truth. His foreign policy is in crisis: problems with Iran and Russia are merging into a single, nasty mess. The US president must be tough enough not to be panicked into macho gestures - 7th July
  • A categorical imperative to twitter - When I told a friend I was thinking of writing a book, he said: “It won’t work unless you can summarise the argument in a sentence that fits on Twitter”. How stupid, I thought. But I was wrong – most great works of political philosophy can be summarised in this way - 30th June
  • Check-list for an Iranian revolution - What does it take to make a successful revolution? - 23rd June (See: Iran: summary)
  • Democracy could still win in Iran - In the short term, events in the country are depressing and alarming – a stolen election, violence in the streets, repression. In the long term, the weekend has provided heartening evidence that Iran, and the Middle East in general, need not be immune to the great wave of democratisation that has swept the world since the late 1970s - 16th June
  • Ugly but interesting in Strasbourg - Extreme-right and extreme-left parties could now account for about 15 per cent of the new European parliament, while hardline eurosceptics will be another noisy grouping. These diverse entrants will give the decorous proceedings a much needed shake-up - 9th June
  • Obama and the limits of soft power - From North Korea to Guantánamo Bay, from Iran to Afghanistan, US president Barack Obama is confronting vexing issues that cannot be charmed out of existence - 2nd June
  • When austerity does not come easily - Perhaps countries that have recent memories of real turbulence and hardship are better able to shrug off the consequences of a sudden economic setback. There would be a huge public outcry if the UK or US were to attempt Hungarian or Estonian style cuts - 26th May
  • Indian democracy has an ugly side - Indian democracy is a wonder to behold. But do not be starry-eyed. It is marvellous that a country so large and so relatively poor can manage a peaceful, democratic transition. But some unappealing realities lurk just behind the beautiful facade - 19th May
  • Hungarian lessons for a world crisis - The unfolding of the Hungarian crisis now looks like a microcosm of the world crisis. Fear of financial collapse is gradually giving way to worries about an unprecedented contraction in the economy – with all the social and political consequences that could imply - 12th May
  • Time for US to get on with ‘AfPak’ heads - The search for alternative leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan is understandable, but the US should resist the temptation to meddle - 6th May
  • Obama’s ‘apologies’ are a strength - When the US president suggests that America has made mistakes in its dealings with Europe or the Muslim world, he is quite deliberately sending a signal. To his conservative critics, it is one of weakness. But mature democracies should not be afraid of open discussion - 5th May
  • The closing of the Thatcher era - One of Mrs Thatcher’s most famous phrases was: ‘There is no alternative.’ As yet, no major political figure in Britain or the western world has really articulated a coherent alternative to the free-market principles inherited from Thatcherism. Until that happens, the Thatcher era will not be definitively over - 28th April
  • Lift the veil on our war aims - We are not in Afghanistan to fight for women’s rights. We are there to prevent the country ever again becoming a base for attacks on the west - 14th April
  • Obama - right man, wrong time - On his European tour, Mr Obama cemented the impression that he is an unusually gifted and intelligent politician. But that does not mean he will succeed - 7th April
  • Europe spurns the beloved Obama - The Continent’s leaders have a huge interest in fostering and fanning the new American internationalism represented by Mr Obama. Instead, they seem to be doing their utmost to pour cold water on it - 31st March
  • The importance of empty words - It will be tempting to laugh, if and when the communiqué from the London G20 summit contains the familiar pledges to avoid protectionism. But it is probably important that world leaders at least promise to follow the path of virtue – even if they know that they may sin - 24th March
  • Nation-building in Afghanistan is a long shot - The new conventional wisdom is that there is no military solution. Western leaders instead talk about a “comprehensive approach” that includes economic development, improved government, regional diplomacy and peace feelers to the Taliban - 17th March
  • Obama’s Aretha Franklin doctrine - Barack Obama and R-E-S-P-E-C-T - 10th March
  • Carefully crafted sentiments help to court Congress - Pundits argued over whether Gordon Brown got as many standing ovations as Tony Blair when he addressed Congress . . . because what really matters to the British is whether Americans still love them - 5th March
  • Euroscepticism is yesterday’s creed - Plans for a political union in Europe were always crazy. But the four freedoms already established by the EU – free movement of goods, people, services and capital – are huge and tangible achievements. It would be terrible to see them rolled back - 3rd March
  • Nuclear Iran? Decision time is here - On Friday, the FT reported that “Iran has built up a stockpile of enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb”. It is time for the Obama administration to launch a last big push to head this off – and for the rest of the world to line up in support - 24th February
  • November 2012: a dystopian dream - Elected president on a ticket of populism and nationalism, Palin starts taking congratulatory phone calls. First is Prime Minister Lieberman of Israel, then President Putin. As for China, she is not speaking to them . . . - 17th February
  • Only Obama offers change for Israel - As Israelis prepare to go to the polls, anybody looking for something to break the bloody deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians needs to look outside Israeli politics. The best hope – slim though it may be – is the Obama administration - 10th February
  • When globalisation goes into reverse - Intellectually, world leaders are convinced of the need to keep markets open. Politically, they are under pressure to respond to voters who are angry, frightened and demanding protection. Recent developments suggest angry citizens will take priority - 3rd February
  • When Europe melts at the edges - Unlike the grumpy Brits, southern EU nations associate Brussels with good government. Yet if the EU itself does not become the target of political unrest, some other part of the political system is bound to come under pressure - 27th January
  • Obama – the man is the message - On Tuesday when he gives his inaugural address, the new president will be able to stick to the beautifully delivered generalities that have inspired so many people in the US and around the world. Once he is in office, all that will change - 20th January
  • Generation L and its fearful future - Those of us born in the west have never really experienced hard times. We have had decades of peace and prosperity. But perhaps Generation L – as in ‘lucky’ – has just had the luxury of an extended holiday from history, which is coming to an end - 13th January
  • Israel’s self-defeating Gaza offensive - Ending the blockade in return for a ceasefire remains the best option for both humanitarian and strategic reasons. But the longer the bloodshed goes on, the more both sides in the conflict will be sucked into a logic of revenge and retaliation - 6th January

Articles: 2008

  • What we will remember from 2008 - Will the election of Obama or the collapse of Lehman prove the more significant event? That depends whether you believe history is shaped by the actions of remarkable individuals or by ‘vast, impersonal forces’. I am opting for the vast, impersonal forces - 23rd December 2008
  • China’s economy hits the wall - It is now clear that, far from being immune to the global financial crisis, China is very vulnerable. Its economy may not be hit as hard as that of the US. But as a poorer country – with a less resilient political system – it could suffer worse - 16th December 2008
  • And now for a world government - For the first time since homo sapiens began to doodle on cave walls, there is an argument, an opportunity and a means to make serious steps towards a world government. Europe already has a government for 27 countries. Could the model go global? - 9th December 2008
  • Lessons from the Mumbai tragedy - Full of rich foreigners and the local elite, smart hotels are prestige targets for terrorists. The only long-term solution is to strengthen the civilian politicians who realise that Pakistan’s past support for jihadist movements has backfired - 2nd December 2008
  • Is America’s new declinism for real? - There is a new acceptance in America of the constraints on US power. America has been through phases of “declinism” before. But there are still reasons for thinking the latest version may be more soundly based than its predecessors - 25th November 2008
  • Is Obama a Middle East ‘splitter’? - Would-be Middle East peacemakers can be categorised as ‘lumpers’ seeking a ‘comprehensive peace settlement’ that links together all the problems in the region, or ‘splitters’ who want to deal with all the problems separately - 18th November 2008
  • The Bretton Woods sequel will flop - The more voices around the table at the summit on the way the gobal economy is governed, the harder it will be to reach agreement - 11th November 2008
  • Preparing for the first blue president - The fact that Obama would be the first black president has obscured the significance of his political colouring. If he wins, he will be the first northern, urban liberal to win the presidency since the culture wars broke out in the 1960s - 4th November 2008
  • Super-Sarko’s plans for the world - Will dropping the ‘community method’ in favour of action by national governments lead to a sustained effort to roll back Brussels’ power - 21st October 2008
  • The crisis is redefining our leaders - In a crisis, Gordon Brown and George W. Bush’s manners are transformed – one for the better and one for the worse - 14th October 2008
  • Conservatism overshoots its limit - Ideas become fashionable and get pushed to their logical conclusion, as their backers succumb to “irrational exuberance”. Then comes the crash - 7th October 2008
  • Asia and the US are in the same boat - For all the increased and justified confidence in both countries, China and India are both still very vulnerable to a downturn in the US - 30th September 2008
  • Welcome to the nuclear club, India - A US-India nuclear deal allowing India to buy nuclear material for civil use and – critics fear – to make more nuclear bombs – is inevitable. But it is the right decision - 23rd September 2008
  • World opinion counts in America’s poll - The next president will want to do some burden-sharing and will have to turn to the Europeans first of all - 16th September 2008
  • Between cold war and appeasement - The west needs to find other ways of protecting political freedom in the new nations that Russia has in its sights - 9th September 2008
  • McCain: a roll-the-dice commander - His instinct is always to take the radical option and to march towards the sound of gunfire - 2nd September 2008
  • Why Obama looks vulnerable - A dark cloud of anxiety hovers over the Democratic party convention. A horrible truth is beginning to dawn on the delegates. Barack Obama is not the “once in a generation” political genius they thought they had discovered. On the contrary, he is a weak candidate for the presidency - 26th August 2008
  • The lure of the great cliche of China - Do not be surprised if the arguments about the future of the country aired alongside the Olympics have a familiar ring to them. Ever since the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989, pundits have essentially been debating the same questions - 29th July 2008
  • Back Obama for commander-in-chief - The American economy is in a mess. The US is involved in two draining wars. The Republican party is deeply unpopular. The McCain campaign is in chaos - 22nd July 2008
  • American journalism, still a model - Rupert Murdoch’s arrival at The Wall Street Journal is being greeted by American journalists with roughly the level of enthusiasm with which the Romans greeted Alaric the Visigoth - 15th July 2008
  • When peace and justice collide - As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, the International Criminal Court is facing its own indictment. Its critics charge that its work is often counter-productive and politicised - 8th July 2008
  • How Obama can avoid the Carter trap - It is rarely a good sign when you begin to re-live your childhood. Of late, I have found myself drifting back to the 1970s with disturbing frequency - 1st July 2008
  • Paths out of Zimbabwe's dead end - Tragedy is traditionally meant to provoke pity and fear. But the world is in danger of reacting to the Zimbabwean tragedy with different emotions: resignation and relativism - 24th June 2008
  • Ireland's bold blow for democracy - I was at a lunch at the Danish embassy in Brussels in 2001, when a diplomat strode in and whispered something nasty into the ambassador’s ear. The ambassador pulled a face and told his guests the bad news: the Irish had voted to reject the European Union’s Nice treaty - 17th June 2008
  • A Choice of Enemies - This account of US engagement with the Middle East gives a sense of the pressures and trade-offs facing American presidents - 15th June 2008
  • Respect for the law is in Russia's interest - A burglar breaks into your house, ties you up and starts loading your possessions into a bag labelled “swag” - 10th June 2008
  • We cannot go on eating like this - It is all very awkward. China and India are getting richer. And it appears their new middle classes want all the things we want: cars, washing machines, even meat - 3rd June 2008
  • On Israel and the campaign bus - Dealing with accusations of anti-semitism or anti-Israeli sentiment is draining and time-consuming for a presidential candidate. It is easier to chuck a controversial adviser under the bus. But America’s absolutism on the Middle East is reducing its influence - 27th May 2008
  • Irrelevance, Europe's logical choice - “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland... - 20th May 2008
  • The oily truth about America's foreign policy - With the oil price heading upwards and President George W. Bush heading for Saudi Arabia, as part of a Middle Eastern tour, it is time to accept the truth. The pursuit of oil is fundamental to US foreign policy - 13th May 2008
  • Why McCain's big idea is a bad idea - American presidents are meant to have big ideas about the world: a “new frontier”, an “alliance for progress”, a “war on terror” - 6th May 2008
  • Do not panic over foreign wealth - It sounds like something from a political thriller by Michael Crichton. Arab sheikhs and Chinese communists amass billions of dollars. They wait for a moment of financial weakness in the US. Then they use their massive “sovereign wealth funds” to buy large stakes in strategic US firms. They secure places on the board. Then, at a crucial moment, they... - 29th April 2008
  • The hit that no one can afford to miss -Why is the American presidential election such compelling viewing? Because it combines the formats of the games show, the talent contest, the television series and the sporting contest - 22nd April 2008
  • Power and Russia's back yard - In Winston Churchill’s memoirs, he records a meeting with Stalin in October 1944: “The moment was apt for business, so I said ‘Let us settle our affairs in the Balkans... - 16th April 2008
  • The political threats to globalisation - If you had to define “globalisation” with an image, what would it be? A container ship from China stuffed with toys and T-shirts? A programmer tapping at a keyboard in Bangalore? A plane circling gloomily over Heathrow airport? - 9th April 2008
  • Olympic torch threatens to scorch China - The Olympic torch’s journey to the Beijing Olympics is threatening to turn from triumphal progress into marathon humiliation. Protesters are rushing like moths to the Olympic flame - 1st April 2008
  • Spain, Italy and identity politics - There is a well-established pecking order of prejudice in western Europe. The British look down on the French, the French look down on the Italians, the Italians looks down on the Spanish, the Spanish look down on the Portuguese - and everybody fears and ridicules the Germans - (comment & analysis) 18th March 2008
  • The real problem with Power - Some people are too open for their own good. That was certainly how I felt after interviewing Samantha Power last week - 11th March 2008
  • Medvedev will not declare cold war - Nikita Krushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union in 1956, told the western world: “We will bury you.” Now Dmitry Medvedev, the newly elected president of Russia, has come back with a revised offer: “We will buy you.” - 3rd March 2008
  • Obama and the art of empty rhetoric - Even his most bitter opponents grant Barack Obama one thing – he makes great speeches. The senator from Illinois is generally held to be a competent debater and an electrifying orator - 26th February 2008
  • Why politics will not fix Pakistan - 18th February 2008
  • Too soon to give up in Afghanistan - With his fancy hats and fluent English, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan cuts a dashing figure on the international stage. But, while Mr Karzai is a regular at Davos, he keeps a low profile in Afghanistan itself... - 11th February 2008
  • US optimism can benefit all - Here is a proposal for the next American president. The US should take the lead in setting up a massive, publicly funded research project to tackle climate change - 4th February 2008
  • The battle for food, oil and water - Soccer crowds in England like to abuse match referees by chanting: “You don’t know what you’re doing.” If protesters had been able to get near the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, they could justifiably have aimed the same chant at the world leaders who assembled in the Alps - 28th January 2008
  • Let us not lose faith in democracy - President George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda” has run into the Middle Eastern sand. The president himself will be the last to recognise this - 21st January 2008
  • Hillary Clinton and the thrill of political power - Western politicians routinely say that they are motivated by a “desire to serve” and they are routinely disbelieved. With her near-tears in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton briefly managed to puncture that scepticism – and, perhaps, to swing the US presidential election back in her direction - 14th January 2008
  • Barack Obama’s message to the world - Barack Obama is in favour of hope, unity and change. If only his rivals would agree to campaign on a ticket of despair, discord and stagnation, the electorate would have a real choice - 7th January 2008

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