Category Archives: Politics

Officially Incompetent

Western politicians failed in their response to the Arab Spring. National leaders saw and saluted the emergence of pro-democracy protests in 2011, but they did little more. When they acted, as in Libya, Western leaders did too little and thought not at all about the future; when they did not act, in Syria most notably, they ushered in a state of affairs where war crimes go unpunished, and dictators engaged in mass murder need fear no redress. Continue reading

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North Korea and Literature

North Korea is in part fascinating because it is mysterious. Cut off from viewing eyes not by geographical remoteness but by political design, the state and the lives within it seem strange and bizarre to observers. The mystery of the hermit state is part of its myth, which is cultivated by North Korea’s leadership, as well as a by-product of its peculiar circumstances. Outsiders can enter only irregularly. Western journalists cannot report on North Korea as they might any other country. Outside analysts can only guess at the bare facts of its economy, its politics and its culture. Continue reading

The World Is Wrong to Let Mass-Murderer Assad Remain in Power

With the defeat of the Islamic State group imminent, the future of Syria is beginning to take shape – and many nations have sought to promote their preferred visions for the country through covert or explicit intervention. Continue reading

Necessary Acts Are Never Popular – So Politicians Have Done Nothing about Iran or North Korea

The situation on the Korean peninsula has not been good for a long time. But the ceasefire agreed in the 1950s, following years of open warfare, seems more strained now than at any moment in recent memory. Continue reading

Clouds of Uncertainty Hover over Iraqi Kurdistan’s Future

The decision by Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to call a referendum on the future of Kurd­istan has alarmed the rest of the country and the region. Continue reading

What We Can Do for Yemen

The war in Yemen is far away. But it is never far from significance. A British ally, Saudi Arabia, is leading an Arab coalition engaged in intervening in the country. This intervention is primarily directed against Houthi rebels, who have received material and moral support from Iran. British special forces are in the country; a supply of British arms plays an undeniable role. Continue reading

America First, Everywhere Else Second, Afghanistan Last

Erik Prince, the founder of controversial security firm Blackwater, has a new big idea. As before, this involves privatising the business of fighting wars and peacekeeping, in effect outsourcing military and foreign policy. Continue reading