Tag Archives: Government

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

Italy’s, and Europe’s, Migrant Crisis

Last week brought a startling report about what happens on boats transporting migrants or refugees across the Mediterranean.

Mixing among those on board – migrants, sailors, charity workers, and journalists – was another man. He was not as he seemed. Continue reading

David Cameron and Continuity

For the first time in years, things can be said to be changing in Britain. For over half a decade, during the Cameron era, politics in this country had exhibited a particular sort of inertia. Though the ordinary stuff of government – and the attendant challenges involved with governing – took place, change never seemed to be the order of the day. Continue reading