People are hypocrites. That was already pretty clear. The World Cup has proven it yet again. All that anguish, all those tears, for over a decade. Many people said they’d boycott the tournament once it was given to Qatar. All those promises from commentators and fans not to watch a single match. How many of those have been kept? Very, very few, I’d be happy to bet.Continue reading
Review – MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman by Ben Hubbard
Ben Hubbard, the New York Times’ man in Beirut, has written a biography of Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince and uncrowned king, which will surely be widely read. Continue reading
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
The disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi writer who vanished into his country’s Istanbul consulate two weeks ago, provoked an immediate and sustained reaction. Continue reading
The spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada seemed, at first, an inexplicable rift. Saudi behaviour, in expelling the Canadian ambassador after a Canadian diplomatic Twitter account judiciously criticised the kingdom’s record on human rights, is widely perceived to be unjustified, unreasonable and nonsensical. But those adjectives are less uncommon in diplomacy these days than one might expect and hope. Continue reading
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
On Syria, the confused state of American policy persists.
This month, the president, Donald Trump, authorised strikes, in tandem with Britain and France, to punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for its use of chemical weapons in Douma, eastern Ghouta. That might be taken to suggest that the United States and allies were prepared to act – to restrain brutality, to support stability, and to prevent the eruption of general chaos. Continue reading