Why Defeating ISIS in Mosul Took So Long

Last October, the Iraqi government and the international coalition fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) declared confidently that the battle to recapture Mosul would soon be over but it wasn’t until July that they managed to defeat the militants in the city. Continue reading

White Phosphorus and the Judgement of History

White phosphorus is an easily produced compound that has numerous military applications. It burns brightly and persistently. In battle, it can create a smokescreen that can hide troop movements.

These uses are not objection­able but the status of white phosphorus is complex. It is not normally used offensively, though it sometimes is employed as a makeshift weapon. When this happens, it can be dangerous. Continue reading

Emmanuel Macron Saved France from the Far Right. But His Success Will Be Hard to Copy

Emmanuel Macron’s achievement is immense. His rise to the French presidency was remarkable to watch, transforming from an unknown former economy minister into Europe’s youngest head of state, and the youngest French leader since Napoleon. Continue reading

Living in an Age of Extremity

We used to live in uninteresting times, as much as that can ever be said.

Things did not seem to happen. And if they did happen, they happened to other people. The rest of life and the business of living passed easily, dreamily, and the world was always at arm’s length. Continue reading

Philistinism Redux

Review – The New Philistines: How Identity Politics Disfigure the Arts by Sohrab Ahmari

Identity politics, that very modern ideological constellation, with its fixation on race, class and gender, has migrated from academia into the arts. Queer theory, feminist readings, post-colonial studies – all these have carved out significant positions at the heart of the art world. Many artists and ‘creatives’ aspire to these doctrines; they increasingly govern the propagation of culture as well as new criticism of canonical art. Such things matter more than could be expected. Continue reading

After an Election Victory, Emmanuel Macron’s Foreign Outlook Is Hardening

Emmanuel Macron has a difficult task ahead of him.

The new French president is stellar in many ways. Continue reading

Donald Trump Exceeds Expectations in Riyadh

Barack Obama had Cairo. That was where he delivered a speech calculated in its intention and high-flown in its language. It was 2009. He had just ascended to office. It was his moment: a young, fresh-faced American president on his first major visit to a Muslim country. He turned his address into an invocation, extended to the Muslim world at large. Continue reading