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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...


Democracy is India's Achilles' heel

We assume that democracy is what every country should have. But what has democracy done for India? Easy. It has stimulated corruption on a massive scale, and if you want to get rich in India the most direct way is to run for parliament and reap the payoffs businesses are obliged to make to the local MP. Caste, that Indian curse, becomes more entrenched as politicians exploit caste allegiances to win votes. Bombay may be booming but it’s hardly Shanghai. A country that is striving to be an...


The Right To Bear Arms Is A Freedom Too Far

Filmed at the Sadler's Wells Lilian Baylis Studio on 27th March 2013. Arguing in favour of the motion was journalist, novelist and broadcaster Will Self. Arguing against the motion was author and Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens. Joining us via Google+ Hangouts were celebrated sociologist and Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University, Amitai Etzioni and Attorney at Law and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, Stephen Halbrook. The debate was...


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...


The Art of Political Power, with Robert Caro and William Hague

Every industry has its guru. And when it comes to the dark arts of political statecraft, the American biographer Robert Caro is the mentor politicians turn to for guidance. His biography of President Lyndon B. Johnson has been described as ‘the greatest insight into power ever written’. Caro is revered by presidents and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. In the US, his fans include Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Here in Britain, his life of LBJ is George Osborne’s favourite...


Niall Ferguson: Henry Kissinger Reappraised, with Andrew Roberts

No American statesman has been as revered and as reviled as Henry Kissinger. To the late Christopher Hitchens he was a war criminal who should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. To his admirers he is the greatest strategic thinker America has ever produced, the ‘indispensable man’, whose advice has been sought by every president from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush. Internationally renowned Harvard historian Niall Ferguson came to the Intelligence Squared stage to discuss his new...


Let's end the tyranny of the test. Relentless school testing demeans education

British children are the most tested in the industrialised world. Is regular testing worthwhile training for success in later life, or have our schools become exam sausage factories? Our panel of experts debated whether regular school testing helps our children to flourish or hinders their development.


Yuval Noah Harari on the myths we need to survive

Myths. We tend to think they’re a thing of the past, fabrications that early humans needed to believe in because their understanding of the world was so meagre. But what if modern civilisation were itself based on a set of myths? This is the big question posed by Professor Yuval Noah Harari, author of 'Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind', which has become one of the most talked about bestsellers of recent years. In this exclusive appearance for Intelligence Squared, Harari argued that...


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...


From the Library: Jimmy Carter in Conversation with Jon Snow

President Jimmy Carter is a Nobel Prize winner, author, humanitarian, professor, farmer, naval officer and carpenter. In this special Intelligence Squared interview with Channel 4 News's Jon Snow, which took place in October 2011, President Carter talks about his career as president, and the past three decades as a senior statesman and ambassador for the Carter Center. He shares his stories from a truly remarkable and well-lived life and his views of global politics today.


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 trafficking...


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. It...


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