The Syrian civil war’s most horrific feature has become its most consistent undertone – one of the threat of war crimes committed with chemical weapons.
Hundreds of attacks have been made with chemical weapons, whose manufacture and use are restricted by international agreement. A report by the Global Public Policy Institute recorded more than 336 incidents in which the use of chemical weapons in Syria was likely. Of those incidents, 98 per cent, the report claimed, were carried out by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading →
Even in wartime, bureaucracies continue to produce weights of paper. Baathist bureaucracies are no exception. Throughout Syria’s war, the extent to which the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s worst excesses have found their way onto official paper has surprised onlookers. Couched among the death certificates issued by state-run prisons lies the documentation, officially signed, legally witnessed, describing a campaign of mass murder. It is punctilious, and in plain sight. Continue reading →
The central justification for US President Donald Trump’s demand that the United States evacuates its military presence from Syria is that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been defeated. Superficially, and compared to what came before, this argument may not initially appear outlandish. Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Alexander the Great was a remarkable military commander. He was an impressive leader of men who experienced huge and undeniable success. His conquest of much of the Persian Empire is notable for its dramatic nature and for the rapidity with which that conquest was achieved. Continue reading →