All nations look to their pasts, often as much as to their futures. National history combines elements of myth with the familiar, and provides stories which animate and galvanize. History can unify. It can awe. And the lustre of civilization past can obscure or beautify a present which is less edifying. Contemporary improprieties can be well hidden among ancient stones. Continue reading
Review – 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
The success of Yuval Noah Harari’s first book, Sapiens, a sweeping assessment of human history, was so great that its author has been granted a status far beyond that normally afforded to professors of global history. Continue reading
For refugees fleeing Syria and other failed states to Europe, nothing happens easily. The journey is difficult and long, laden with uncertainty and fear. And even upon arrival in a safe country which would be a suitable place to claim asylum, new and unseen obstacles become visible. Continue reading
There we have it. The date and time for Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un are set.
It was announced when Trump’s newly appointed secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, returned from Pyongyang with three Americans who had been imprisoned in North Korea. The summit – an outbreak of diplomacy after the two countries traded threats last summer – will occur on June 12, in Singapore. Continue reading
The Islamic State (IS) has been militarily defeated in its attempt to create a ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. Its de facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria were wrested from the terror group after long, grinding campaigns fought by local forces with extensive international assistance.
After the rapid capture of Tal Afar and a pocket around Hawija from IS last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the war against IS was over, that it had been won. Continue reading
The capture of El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexander Kotey, two British men attempting to flee Syria for Turkey, was a brief moment for celebration. The men had formed part of a brutal Islamic State (ISIS) cell, dubbed ’the Beatles’, which had executed foreign hostages on camera and become the global face of the terror group. Continue reading
Israeli air strikes in Syria are not new. For years, Israel has been striking at the Assad regime and Hezbollah targets in Syria with regularity and effectiveness. Where recent strikes differ is not in intent but in scale. Continue reading
An internationally minded romantic can always find good things to say about Lebanon. Travelling types praise its vibrant feel, its rich history and, perhaps most of all, its cosmopolitan sophistication. In parts of Europe, one still hears Beirut referred to as the ‘Paris of the East’. Continue reading
The biggest of the stories swirling about Donald Trump this week concerns, not a tweet (as is ordinary), but a book.
The president is famously unlettered, professing little time for reading; and others attest that Trump has little interest in any printed matter that does not contain his photograph. Continue reading