Tag Archives: Democracy

Radicalisation and Self-Education

In Sebastian Faulks’ novel Engleby, a significant scene occurs early on, during a university interview. Faulks’ protagonist, the titular character, is the interview candidate. Engleby is a prospective student of literature; a discerning one, to his own mind. And in the course of things, he is asked to make a comparison between the writing of T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. Engleby, an abrasive, arrogant young man, does not believe there is much to compare. Continue reading

A Future Worth Hoping For

Permanence has its attractions. It seems stable and without threat. Things we elect to do indefinitely are likely to be activities we enjoy, or can endure. We hope conditions that do not change might make us safe.

This reasoning is naïve, of course. And we know it, or come to learn it through experience. True permanence is as impossible as perfection, each equally out of reach. Continue reading

Afghans Are Serious About Their Democracy. Why Aren’t We?

Free elections are not purely functional affairs, where people vote to choose their government. They are demonstrations of the faith states place in their citizens, faith which forms the basis of political power, and for the granting of influence – no matter how small – to the individual. Continue reading

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

The Coalition That Could Have Been

Foreign policy undertaken unilaterally is disdained and feared. It meets vast, instinctive criticism. Action, especially military action, which is seen to be arbitrary elicits the same response. When democratic states seek to act on the international stage, they desire not only to succeed in their chosen course of action, but also to be seen to be acting justly, within limits, and without caprice. Continue reading

Saleh’s Downfall Is Hardly the End of an Era

The death of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh dem­onstrates a lot about the nature of the coun­try’s civil war. Saleh was killed by Houthi rebels, with whom he had previously been al­lied and against whom he publicly turned two days before. Continue reading

Prosecuting Blair Over Iraq Would Be a Victory for Dictators

Once again, Tony Blair is in the news. A merry-go-round of stories swirls around the former British prime minister. Many of them are luridly drawn, some nonsensical. A new story concerns the perpetual question of Blair being prosecuted for the Iraq war. Continue reading

US Policy towards Iran Must Address Hostage-Taking

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

Another Kind of Air War

Review – The Other Air Force by Matt Sienkiewicz

America, Matt Sienkiewicz asserts at the beginning of his new book The Other Air Force, ‘is not a subtle nation’. In many ways – religious, political, cultural – the United States is seen as the enemy of nuance; its values are perceived to be bold, brash and often in conflict with those of older societies and older systems, in Europe and the world over. Continue reading

The Sieges of Syria and History

Earlier this month in Syria, a siege was broken. Rebels in Aleppo, aided by more religiously extreme elements and passively supported by humanitarians the world over, succeeded in meeting – ceremoniously shaking hands, like the Allies during the Second World War at the river Elbe in 1945 – by breaking the lines of those troops loyal to the Assad regime and its foreign backers. Continue reading