Sky News as today begun a campaign to make TV debates a permanent feature of future general election campaigns. The broadcaster has come up with an imperative hashtag (#MakeDebatesHappen) and an endorsement from Sir Nick Clegg himself. Continue reading
Gavin Williamson is an ambitious man. He is, after all, a politician. People in that line of work are hardly immune from ambition’s siren call.
Political careers are often embarked upon with the highest of hopes, sometimes accompanied by the most outlandish of expectations. Even the most parochial of political figures cherish some secret ambition. Continue reading
Before the chlorine came the bombs. And before the bombs came the siege. Douma, the largest settlement in in eastern Ghouta, part of the surrounds of the Syrian capital, Damascus, had suffered greatly in the country’s civil war, which is in its eighth year.
Along with the rest of eastern Ghouta, Douma had been under siege for more than five years, its population cut off, unable to access medical supplies and food, unable to leave the area. For years, an outpost of opposition had remained a few miles from the seat of authority in Damascus, a reminder of the limits of the power of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the hereditary president. Continue reading
The United States and its allies, Britain and France, launched over 100 missiles at the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in the early hours of 14 April. This was retaliation for the regime’s use of poison gas in the town of Douma, east of the capital, Damascus, exactly a week earlier, which massacred at least 43 people and wounded 500 more.
The military strikes were an important signal and will likely be some deterrent against the future use of chemical weapons, but ultimately this was another missed opportunity by the West to meaningfully affect the course of the war. 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
When something happens which is deeply necessary and long-awaited, it is all too easy, even briefly, to give in to relief.
So it was when, last Friday, Britain, France and the United States joined together to strike the regime of Bashar al-Assad in response to the regime’s probable use of chemical weapons on the besieged city of Douma, in Eastern Ghouta. Continue reading
We used to live in uninteresting times, as much as that can ever be said.
Things did not seem to happen. And if they did happen, they happened to other people. The rest of life and the business of living passed easily, dreamily, and the world was always at arm’s length. Continue reading