Chaired by Christian Caryl, Managing Editor of Democracy Lab, the debate featured experts on both Russia and IS alongside 1675 Club members. Rashad Ali, a counter terrorism expert and practitioner, headed up the opposing argument, with The Guardian's Luke Harding making the case for the Russian threat. They were joined by Matthew Otubu, Undergraduate at University of York and Eszter Nova, Fellow at the Financial Research Institute.

The debaters covered an array of persuasive arguments. Does Russia's presence on the UN Security Council elevate its capacity for danger or does it provide an opportunity for positive engagement? Does the fact that IS operates outside of any international framework curtail the West's leverage, leading to disastrous consequences? Which is actually creating more havoc in Syria? Does our obsession with one threat blind us to the other? Which has a greater influence in our own towns and cities?

The room started the debate almost perfectly split, and despite minds being swayed and fervent interventions from the floor, the debate finished with the same marginal lead for Russia. More than sixty members attended to hear the arguments and enjoy the opportunity to continue the conversation and meet their 1675 Club peers over drinks and pizza afterwards.


About the Speakers

Rashad Ali is a counter terrorism practitioner; formerly a national leadership member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, he is now actively involved in undermining its extreme ideology. He is classically trained in Islamic theology and jurisprudence and modern Islamic studies. He has given testimony to the Home Affairs Select Committee on radicalisation and briefed the London Mayor's office on counter terrorism. He author of Islam, Shariah and the Far Right, published by Demoqratiya; A Guide to Refuting Jihadism published by the Henry Jackson Society and most recently Blasphemy and Free Speech - Hebdo and reactions to the incidents in Paris, for the Institute of Strategic Dialogue, where he is a Senior Fellow. He has written for The Observer, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent and The Times, amongst others, given commentary for Newsnight and BBC News, and been an Assistant Producer of the BBC's Panorama.

Luke Harding is an award-winning journalist with The Guardian. He was The Guardian correspondent in Russia from 2007 until, returning from a stay in the UK in February 2011, he was refused re-entry to Russia and deported back the same day. He has also reported from Delhi and Berlin and has covered wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. His book Mafia State: How one reporter became an enemy of the brutal new Russia, is published by Guardian Books.

Christian Caryl is a Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute and a Contributing Editor at Foreign Policy magazine, where he edits Democracy Lab, a special online publication devoted to countries aspiring to make the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. (Democracy Lab is a joint venture of the Legatum Institute and Foreign Policy.) He is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. From 2004 to March 2009 he headed the Tokyo Bureau of Newsweek. Before that, from 2000 to 2004, Caryl served as Newsweek’s Moscow Bureau Chief. After 9/11 he carried out numerous assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of Newsweek’s reporting on the war on terror. He is the author of the book Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century (Basic Books) which was shortlisted for the 2013 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature.

About the 1675 Club

The 1675 Club is the Legatum Institute's society for young leaders and thinkers. The Club provides a venue where the key political, economic and social issues of the day can be debated over a glass of wine. The Club hosts regular events at the Legatum Institute. These are informal occasions where attendees can hear from experts and 1675 Club peers, and participate in the discussion. 1675 Club attendees boast a vast array of knowledge and experience in their own right and so it is hoped to include Club participants as panellists, moderators or discussants at these events.