Gavin Williamson’s Ambition Would Be Funny If He Weren’t so Serious

Gavin Williamson is an ambitious man. He is, after all, a politician. People in that line of work are hardly immune from ambition’s siren call.

Political careers are often embarked upon with the highest of hopes, sometimes accompanied by the most outlandish of expectations. Even the most parochial of political figures cherish some secret ambition. Continue reading

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The Death of Socrates Reconsidered

Socrates is often considered the father of Western philosophy. He taught Plato and influenced Aristotle, pioneering aspects of intellectual instruction and philosophical enquiry. No writings in his name survive. Instead, the life of Socrates is held to demonstrate greatness. Plato viewed his mentor as the ideal philosopher, a model of how a thinker should act and live. The memory of the man surpasses his works. Continue reading

Iranian Militias and Syrian Forces Become Indivisible as Assault on Daraa Looms

Iranian support for Syrian President Bashar Assad is long standing. Much of that support has been through Iran’s proxies and allied militias. Some of these, such as the Lebanese group Hezbollah, have contributed thousands of men who have fought in Syria on the side of the regime. Continue reading

His Country: A Syria Blighted and Wronged by Assad

Review – My Country: A Syrian Memoir by Kassem Eid

Kassem Eid’s memoir opens with a mournful preface. The author, a Syrian who has faced the full force of his country’s recent history, accepts he cannot escape its suffering. Eid says he has fled across continents, travelling as far as he can. He has lived as hard as he can, yet he cannot forget. He cannot suppress the bitter memories of which he is the custodian. Continue reading

Raqqa’s Rapid Liberation Was Flawed from the Outset

The liberation of Raqqa by the fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the military power of the Global Coalition confronting the Islamic State group (IS), was never going to be easy. Continue reading

The Singapore Summit Has Trivialised a Brutal Dictatorship

The world’s attention is fixated on Singapore, the venue for a summit that not long ago looked like it wouldn’t happen.

Discussion between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump was imperilled by the former’s intransigence and the latter’s rashness. Trump dictated an intemperate letter to Kim on May 24 cancelling the thing. It looked as though that was that. Continue reading

The Westminster Sexual Harassment Scandal That Wasn’t

British politics, from the outside looking in, appears decorous and bland. Steeped in archaic tradition, it can seem almost quaint, with displays of partisan animosity reserved for the theatre of Prime Minister’s Questions, and everyone in Parliament addressing each other with superficial politeness, never omitting the correct honorifics. Continue reading