As you will likely have gleaned from other sources, Joe Biden is now the president of the United States. He has begun his time in office, as presidents are wont to do, by making a show of being busy and in charge. Biden spent the first few hours at his desk undoing all the work of his predecessor that could be undone by executive order.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
One of the most brutal and most shocking features of Syria’s civil war is the way doctors and health centres have been targeted.
Throughout the war, the regime of Bashar al-Assad and its allies have attacked hospitals in rebel areas as part of a strategy to destroy popular resistance by rendering civilian life impossible. Continue reading
Turkey’s military incursion into northeastern Syria was never going to be popular. It aims to address a problem that only Turkey experiences and which, it seems, concerns only Turkey. Continue reading
At the end of September, in the section of the al-Hol refugee camp in north-eastern Syria that houses foreigners, Russian women – supporters of the Islamic State – severely beat two Turkistani women, apparently because their victims refused sharia indoctrination. Continue reading
The speed with which the Islamic State conquered territory after its advent in 2014 and in the years that followed cannot be denied. Nor can the ferocity and threat of its rule. The apparent self-confidence of its theology and the devotion with which fighters – foreign and local – flocked to its cause made it a threat seen across the world. Continue reading
The twentieth century has passed and the world has changed. The great evil of the period can perhaps be assumed to have mutated and changed, too. That era’s gravest sin and greatest threat, totalitarianism, seems less evident today, and its equivalents are assumed to have updated their methods. Continue reading
It is always a little difficult, after a massacre, to return to discussing the mundane. Talking about the banal so soon after something wrenching seems somewhat brusque. Hence the need, perhaps, to discuss the global far-right in emotive, epochal, outsized terms after the mass shooting in Christchurch. It is a way to keep the emotional intensity high – a bid to retain hot-blooded feeling, and an attempt to avoid an insensitive and premature return to reality. Continue reading
After an act of evil, silence and solemnity are rarely enough. Even commemoration of the victims, and calls for social stability and solidity, frequently come up short. As attractive, if not more, are demands for action, in extreme cases vengeance, and attacks on those seen to be reacting wrongly or perversely to the tragedy newly witnessed. Continue reading
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