Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Counter-terrorism for Hire in the UAE

Great men are rarely good men, but most people – even those with power – tend to consider themselves good. Even those whose works are used to bad ends.

This problem afflicts politicians most obviously, but it affects public servants just as much, especially when they begin offering their services on a freelance basis. Continue reading

Terror’s Wars of Words

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

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

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

America Can Still Be a Positive Force in the World

The election of Donald Trump as US president was a big moment. His victory in November reflected a steep change in the way the United States is run and the way it per­ceives other countries.

Trump has little good to say about many international norms that underpin the liberal world order. He disdains NATO. He has no intention of supporting America’s allies among the Syrian opposition. Trump is notably well-disposed towards Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin. Continue reading

The American President and the Power to Persuade

The presidential power of persuasion, which was first described by Richard Neustadt, is a thoroughly important one. It is by this method that the president politicks to have Bills of his choosing pass in Congress. It is by this method that the president secures his authority in matters such as the running of the federal bureaucracy. But there are those who suggest that, contrary perhaps to the wishes of the Founding Fathers, the president has acquired many powers extra to any persuasive facility. Continue reading