Author Archives: James Snell

Israel Presses on with Strikes Against Iran’s Axis

What happens in and to Syria invariably affects Israel. The collapse of Syrian civil society created a humanitarian crisis and other pressures and the persistence of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, a central plank of the ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel, presents its own problems. Continue reading

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Ceasefire Sees Jihadists Cement Grip over Idlib

The conflict between the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its enemies has slowed in Idlib, halted by a precarious ceasefire. But fighting between groups in the province is subject to no such regulation. Rebel factions and jihadists continue to tussle for control of the province. Continue reading

The Hopkins Trajectory

If Britain’s media culture can be thought of, in abstract, as Victor Frankenstein, Katie Hopkins thinks of herself as its monster. She is proud of the phrase but likely not of some of its implications. Hopkins wanted absolution from blame, painting herself almost as a Newtonian reaction. This is unsustainable. But she is a little like Shelley’s monster in another, different way. Cobbled together from other people’s opinions as much as the character was made of other people, Hopkins’ media profile is nonetheless unique – its animating influence the worst aspects of her character. Continue reading

Past Glories

All nations look to their pasts, often as much as to their futures. National history combines elements of myth with the familiar, and provides stories which animate and galvanize. History can unify. It can awe. And the lustre of civilization past can obscure or beautify a present which is less edifying. Contemporary improprieties can be well hidden among ancient stones. Continue reading

History in Policy

‘Public history’ is something of a misnomer. The degree to which history which can influence policy is ‘public’ is a difficult question. E. H. Carr writes in his What Is History? that, when he was working in a junior capacity at the Paris peace conference in 1919, all the diplomats and their staffs took extra care to empty their wastepaper baskets. They were thinking of the discussions surrounding the peace treaty after Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, and the history they used to inform their actions was a titbit of information about that time: that nefarious negotiators spied on their opposite numbers’ plans by going through their waste paper. Carr uses this to illustrate the fallacy of thinking one can ultimately ‘learn from history’ in a way which is total and all-encompassing. Each moment in time presents new and unique challenges. One cannot rely simply on knowing the past to know the present, or indeed to predict the future. Continue reading

A New Right Reading List

When Osama bin Laden was found by the special forces of the United States and met his end, there was surprising attention paid to this bookshelf. First, and understandably, the volumes present were the subject of understandable interest. That bin Laden appeared to like the books of Noam Chomsky, at least enough to include them in his collection, elicited a little amusement. Continue reading

‘Race’ or ‘Civilisation’?

Victorian Empire

Lord William Bentinck did not hold office in British imperial service during the reign of Queen Victoria, but the offices he held before she ascended to the throne were significant; he was governor-general of India, the first to hold that office after the Charter Act of 1833 re-organised Indian governance. His attitudes and perspective can thus be seen both to foreshadow Victorian ideas of empire, and also, in places, to diverge dramatically from them. When Bentinck departed Britain for his first role in colonial administration, the governorship of Madras, which he occupied at the beginning of the nineteenth century, he expressed Enlightenment values pertaining to the universality of human nature: ‘Is not human nature everywhere the same?’ This belief was stiffly expressed but sincerely held. Continue reading