Tag Archives: Iraq War

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

Of Tyranny and Violence

The people disappeared in Syria’s military prisons do not have graves, but they do have names. They may not have been accorded funeral rites, but they have faces and stories and their families have memories of their presence. The war which has destroyed much of Syria can be localised: to a family, to a single person, to a face. And within the wider war lurk stories of cruelty and barbarism which affect individuals but whose effects spiral outwards. These specific instances of savagery become institutionalised. Continue reading

ISIS Will Remain a Challenge for Iraq after the Liberation of Mosul

As the final assault on the stronghold of the Islam­ic State (ISIS) in Mosul is in the works, important questions are going un­answered. Chief among them is: What will ISIS do in Iraq after Mosul falls? Continue reading

Battle for Mosul Shows a Retreating Caliphate

Recapturing eastern Mosul from the Islamic State (ISIS) represents a notable achieve­ment for Iraq’s security forces. This presents a marked contrast to the disorder with which the Iraqi Army fought the sudden advance of ISIS in 2014. Then Iraq’s armed forces fell back and ISIS advanced to within 64 km of Baghdad. Continue reading

The Trump Phenomenon and Idiocy

The Republican nominee for the office of President of the United States is a man who spends time in his speeches talking about all the various products which bear his name. This is the same man who is seemingly unable to resist being baited into petty feuds, online and in the real world, with personalities great and small, and whose taste in personal décor is rather closer to that favoured by Saddam Hussein (a man he frequently professes to admire) than any of the latter French kings. He also likes to talk about the size of his hands, and to boast of his poll numbers (something which may become increasingly difficult if the events of this week are widely replicated), but this sort of thing is of less immediate importance. Continue reading

How to Build Nations

The story of Emma Sky, newly told in her memoir The Unravelling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq, is a fascinating one. An opponent of the war in Iraq – someone, in fact, who had proposed serving as a human shield in the first Gulf War – does not generally end up in effect administering a province, as Sky found herself doing very soon after her arrival in the country in 2003. But this is what she did. And more than that, she spent much of the following seven years in Iraq, working closely with the very American military she and many like-minded individuals opposed so vigorously before the war began. Continue reading

Heroes of the Story: Individuality in History and Literature

In the novel Saturday, Ian McEwan rests an assessment of the state of the British nation upon a single man. During the course of one day, the reader bears witness to the story of Henry Perowne, a successful surgeon, a good man, whose experience becomes suddenly less secure and less detached through a deceptively minor incident on the road. Private dramas intermingle with national ones, and the whole book is shot through with a dramatic sense of place and time, beginning with what is perhaps the most visceral symbol of the fragility of the post-9/11 world order: a flaming aeroplane. (As is later elaborated, ‘everyone agrees, airliners look different in the skies’; they seem either ‘predatory or doomed’.) And unlike many novels of the same theme, which fictionalise events and float within a vaguely contemporary setting, McEwan’s effort is entirely rooted, nailed to the ground; it takes place explicitly on Saturday, February 15, 2003 – and its entire edifice is supported and contained within the context of the anti-war protests which took place on that day, as well as the prospect of war which animated them. Continue reading