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Intelligence Squared is the world's premier debating forum, providing a unique platform for the leading figures in politics, journalism, and the media to contest the most important issues of the day. As well as its quick debates.

Intelligence Squared is the world's premier debating forum, providing a unique platform for the leading figures in politics, journalism, and the media to contest the most important issues of the day. As well as its quick debates.
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London, United Kingdom


Intelligence Squared is the world's premier debating forum, providing a unique platform for the leading figures in politics, journalism, and the media to contest the most important issues of the day. As well as its quick debates.




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Tony Blair on Trial

When Tony Blair became prime minister in May 1997, he had a landslide majority, an approval rating of 93 per cent, and he went on to become Labour’s longest-serving premier. At his last PMQs he got a standing ovation in the chamber of the House of Commons. How things have changed. Nowadays all we hear about is the accusations of lies, hubris and money-making business deals. But is this disillusionment justified? To assess the record of this extraordinary politician, Intelligence Squared...


The Great European Refugees And Migrants Debate

Europe is gripped by the biggest migrant crisis since the Second World War. The parallels with that earlier crisis are hard to avoid. When in 1938 tens of thousands were fleeing Nazi Germany, not a single European country agreed to raise its quotas. In response Hitler and Goebbels observed that, while other countries complained about how Germany treated the Jews, no one else wanted them either. This is one of the points that Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg will be making in the Intelligence...


The Nuclear Deal With Iran Won't Make the World a Safer Place

What’s not to like? The deal reached between Iran and six world powers in July is a major diplomatic breakthrough. In exchange for Tehran halting its nuclear weapons programme, the West will lift the sanctions that have been crippling Iran’s economy for the last decade. The deal was hailed by President Obama as ‘a historic understanding’ and met with cheers of approval from around the world. Of course, the agreement doesn’t guarantee that Iran will never get the bomb some time in the...


Karl Ove Knausgaard: The Alchemist of the Ordinary

Novelists worship him. Critics fall over themselves to explain his genius. His celebrity fans say his books are like drugs. ‘I just read 200 pages and I need the next volume like crack. It’s completely blown my mind,’ Zadie Smith tweeted. What they’re all raving about is Karl Ove Knausgaard’s bestselling series of six autobiographical novels, 'My Struggle'. The books recount in microscopic detail every aspect of Knausgaard’s own life: his bullying alcoholic father, his marriages, the...


Western Liberal Democracy Would Be Wrong for China

People everywhere are better off living in liberal democracy: that has been the reigning assumption of the western world. But could it be we’ve got it wrong? If you were one of the world’s billions of poor peasants might you not be better off under a system dedicated to political stability and economic growth – one that has lifted 400 million out of poverty – rather than one preoccupied with human rights, the rule of law, and the chance to vote out unpopular rulers? Thanks to the Chinese...


Ten Years After 9/11: The World Remade

Fourteen years on from 9/11, we revisit our event "Ten Years after 9/11: The World Remade" from 2011. In this special Intelligence Squared event, former Foreign Secretary David Miliband and other leading experts from Oxford Analytica, the global strategic analysis and advisory firm, charted the tumultuous path since September 11th and showed how it will shape tomorrow's volatile global order. Questions they asked included: Why did the hunt for Osama bin Laden take so long? Is...


Europe is failing its Muslims

The debate "Europe is failing its Muslims" took place on February 23rd at Cadogan Hall in London, in association with BBC World News and the British Council. Arguing in favour of the motion were Tariq Ramadan and Petra Stienen; against the motion were Douglas Murray and Flemming Rose.


From the Library: Robert Macfarlane on Landscape and the Human Heart

How do the landscapes we love shape the people we are? Why do we walk? For several years and more than a thousand miles, celebrated travel writer Robert Macfarlane has been following the vast network of old paths and routes that criss-cross Britain and its waters, and connect them to countries and continents beyond. Listen to his enthralling account from June 2012 of the ghosts and voices that haunt old tracks, of songlines and their singers, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, and of...


Norman Stone on Istanbul

In this talk from October 2011 the historian Norman Stone, who has lived in Turkey since 1997, took us on a journey through the country's turbulent history, from the arrival of the Seljuks in Anatolia in the 11th century to the modern republic applying for EU membership in the 21st. Along the way we met rapacious leaders such as Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and Kemal Atatürk, the reforming genius and founder of modern Turkey. At its height, the Ottoman Empire...


Israel Is Destroying Itself With Its Settlement Policy

Patriacide. Nationcide. Whatever you want to call it, that is what Israel is doing with its settlement policy: it is killing itself. If ever greater numbers of Jewish settlers are installed on land regarded by Palestinians as the basis for a state of their own, the possibility of a two-state solution grows ever more remote. Yet the single state alternative, involving annexation of the West Bank, would result in a country where Arabs vastly outnumber Jews and then you won’t have a one-state...


Roberto Saviano on the War Against Organised Crime

Roberto Saviano made a rare appearance in the UK in July 2015 when he came to the Intelligence Squared stage. In conversation with Intelligence Squared's very own Robert Collins, Saviano talked about his life in hiding and his beginnings as a reporter on the streets of Naples. He revealed his latest work of investigative reporting, 'Zero Zero Zero', in which he delves into the sprawling network of the global cocaine trade. He traced how the $400 billion a year generated by drugs...


John Gray and Adam Phillips in conversation on humankind's search for immor

Political philosopher John Gray and psychotherapist and essayist Adam Phillips came to the Intelligence Squared stage in 2011 to discuss themes of science and immortality. Can we in the 21st century claim to be no longer gripped by the hope that somehow science can make us invincible?


Digital Summit Highlights: 'London's Star Tech Enterprise' and 'Who we are

This week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast features two sessions from our recent Digital Summit with Vanity Fair. In the first session, 'Who are we on the web?' we examined how deeply the internet is affecting us as human beings. Our panel of experts comprised blogger, journalist and science fiction author Cory Doctorow; author of 'The Dark Net' Jamie Bartlett; Director of the 2013 film 'InRealLife' Beeban Kidron; and Director of the Governance Lab at NYU Beth Simone Noveck....


Churchill was more a liability than an asset to the free world

Does the fact that Winston Churchill is routinely cited as Britain’s greatest hero say more about us than it does about him? Yes, he warned us of the need to face down Hitler when others were urging appeasement and yes, he gave a good speech. But what of his tendency to initiate disastrous military campaigns – think of Gallipoli in World War I or Norway in World War II. What of the fact that his generals constantly had to restrain him from embarking on even more madcap ventures? Could it...


Digital Summit Highlights: 'The Hopes of the Pioneers' and 'Artificial Inte

This week's episode of the Intelligence Squared podcast features two sessions from our recent Digital Summit with Vanity Fair. In the first session, 'This is For Everyone: The hopes of the pioneers', we explored the hopes and memories of the internet's early days – could the internet have developed in any other way than the one we know today? Our panel of experts featured former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger; entrepreneur and co-founder of Martha Lane Fox; journalist,...


From the library: Angela Merkel is destroying Europe

The stakes couldn’t be higher, as Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras seeks a new agreement on a bailout and German chancellor Angela Merkel refuses any talks before this Sunday’s referendum. What will happen is anyone’s guess, but for anyone looking for background information, Intelligence Squared is posting again the podcast of our 2013 debate ‘Angela Merkel is destroying Europe’. Listen to The New Statesman's Mehdi Hasan and Greek MP Euclid Tsakalotos take on historian Anthony Beevor and...


The West should get out of bed with the House Of Saud

Have we no morals? We know that the Saudis created the monster that is Islamic terrorism, allegedly spending some $100 billion on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to other Muslim nations around the world. We know about the public beheadings and floggings, and the treatment of women that amounts to gender apartheid. Yet Western governments persist in cosying up to the Saudi royal family, making an ally of one of the most reactionary regimes in the world, so that we can buy their oil and sell...


The internet is a failed utopia

This week's podcast comes from the closing session of our recent Digital Summit with Vanity Fair. See for more information about the summit. To many the hopes we had for the internet when it first emerged have been smashed by the revelations of government surveillance of our personal data – with the cooperation of the tech giants who know and record our every move online. But to others the technological advances of the last 20 years have opened up an unprecedented...


Faramerz Dabhoiwala on the Origins of Sex

Rising star historian Faramerz Dabhoiwala came to the Intelligence Squared stage in February 2012 to describe how the permissive society arrived in Western Europe, not in the 1960s as we like to think, but between 1600 and 1800. It began in England and is now shaping and challenging patterns of sexual behaviour all over the world. For most of western history, all sex outside marriage was illegal, and the church, the state, and ordinary people all devoted huge efforts to suppressing and...


David Brooks on the Road to Character

On May 26th 2015, New York Times columnist David Brooks came to the Intelligence Squared stage to share the insights of his latest book, 'The Road to Character'. Brooks argued that today’s ‘Big Me’ culture is making us increasingly self-preoccupied: we live in a world where we’re taught to be assertive, to master skills, to broadcast our brand, to get likes, to get followers. But amidst all the noise of self-promotion, Brooks claimed that we’ve lost sight of an important and counterintuitive...