The Earthquake in Syria

Natural disaster always worst affects those who have already lost so much. And so it is in Turkey and Syria, where a double earthquake has killed more than 1,900 people. Across both countries, there are widespread scenes of destruction: apartment blocks reduced to rubble; gas supplies cut off in the middle of a freezing winter; survivors left to try and pluck their relatives from the rubble. 

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The Spy-Balloon Gap

In the depths of the Second World War the Japanese empire tried to start a plague of forest fires in the United States with squadrons of incendiary balloons. It failed, although six civilians were killed in a single successful balloon bombing in Oregon in May 1945. 

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The Taliban Are Not Afghanistan

I cannot begin to count how many times, when talking to a policymaker, a journalist or an ordinary person in Britain, that they have tried to tell me that it’s pointless to oppose the Taliban in Afghanistan, because the Taliban are somehow ‘natural’ or ‘essential’ to the country. They believe that the Taliban are so innate to Afghanistan that they could never be beaten or marginalised. 

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The Tank Debacle

At long, long last, it might seem that things are coming to a head. After a year of phony excuses, ridiculous claims and constant back-peddling, some of Nato’s bigger nations are planning to give Ukraine some fairly modern main battle tanks. Not very many. And not exactly soon. But I suppose it’s the thought that counts.  

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Ukraine Is Paying a Heavy Price for NATO’s Dithering

It is winter in Ukraine. The ground is frozen and hard. Groups of soldiers on both sides struggle in the cold. The Ukrainians insist they have one advantage over the Russians: their soldiers, unlike mobilised Russian troops, have some effective winter clothing.   

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Gina Lollobrigida and the Changing Face of Fame

Gina Lollobrigida, who died this week at the age of 95, was known in the 1950s and thereafter for the kind of beauty which drove Italian men to self-destruction; and for performances in films which seemed to define a scrappy, energetic, self-possessed Italian womanhood.   

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Germany Has No Excuse for Not Sending Tanks to Ukraine

When a man is in a hole, he is best advised to stop digging. When a German chancellor is in a hole, by contrast, he seems to think it his duty to chide others for failing to dig their own. So it is with Olaf Scholz, Germany’s increasingly ridiculous chancellor.   

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