Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino is one of the most imaginative works of twentieth century fiction. The book is a dream, a vision, literally so. It depicts, as a framing narrative, a conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, the great figure at the head of the Mongol Empire. The two of them exist in a dream state, caught in a suspended moment. They discuss wonders and marvels, the result of Polo’s travelling. These are the cities of the title. Continue reading →
The Mosul offensive has come to an end. The Islamic State has been militarily defeated and its remnants destroyed within the city.
This is a victory for the state of Iraq. A new nation, remade after the evil of Ba’athism was removed from power, it has faced down a grave threat, and given much in a struggle against an existential enemy of the free world. Continue reading →
The Iranian state is often portrayed as a potential partner – the sort of country with which the West could work, if only its worldview and ambitions did not clash so obviously with the wishes of the American-underwritten world order. Continue reading →
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 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 →