Tag Archives: United States

The Spy-Balloon Gap

In the depths of the Second World War the Japanese empire tried to start a plague of forest fires in the United States with squadrons of incendiary balloons. It failed, although six civilians were killed in a single successful balloon bombing in Oregon in May 1945. 

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The Tank Debacle

At long, long last, it might seem that things are coming to a head. After a year of phony excuses, ridiculous claims and constant back-peddling, some of Nato’s bigger nations are planning to give Ukraine some fairly modern main battle tanks. Not very many. And not exactly soon. But I suppose it’s the thought that counts.  

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Collapse of Venezuela’s Government in Waiting

Amid New Year celebrations, and a tide of high-profile obituaries, you might have missed something small and far away, but nonetheless significant. The opposition in Venezuela has dissolved its government-in-pretence. By 72 votes to 29, the country’s national assembly voted its parallel government out of existence.   

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Japan’s Rearmament Could Be a Force for Good

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s murdered former prime minister, would this week be especially proud of his country. At long last, and after years of protests and strife during Abe’s time in power, Japan has announced a reversal of its uncompromising post-war pacifism. Japan, its current prime minister Fumio Kishida has said, will now begin to rearm.  

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King Bibi Returns

It is an immense irony, as the great orientalist Bernard Lewis was fond of remarking, that Israel – the most vibrant and enthusiastic democracy in the Middle East – has to put up with the world’s worst electoral system. Its governments frequently collapse. Perhaps they do it philanthropically, to allow citizens once again the pleasure of going to the polls. 

Israel’s longest serving leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is back. His return confirms once again an iron clad rule of Israeli politics: never write Bibi off. A few years ago, his opponents briefly thought they had vanquished him for good.   

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ISIS Is Wreaking Afghan Terror

The bomb tore through an examination hall in Kabul on Friday, where students – mostly minority Hazara, mostly young women – were sitting a practice test in preparation for university. Thirty-five were killed, dozens more injured. An unspeakable human tragedy. 

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Russia’s Imperial Periphery

Wars are breaking out across the imperial periphery as Russia is defeated in Ukraine. 

This week, Azerbaijan attacked Armenia, striking its sovereign territory—a clear repudiation of the “peacekeeping” efforts masterminded by Russia in the aftermath of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. As it is attacked, Armenia has plaintively appealed for Russian aid—aid which is not forthcoming. 

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Broken History

Review – Breaking History by Jared Kushner

In time-honoured Washington fashion, the memoir of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, makes the case that its author was a pivotal, if hidden, force in American politics. Kushner has himself in the background of everything significant that occurred in the four years Trump was in power. 

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The American-Saudi Relationship in Peril

When a comedy sketch on Saudi TV went viral recently, it set people talking in Washington. The sketch depicted a senile President Joe Biden being manhandled by his staff – not exactly ground-breaking comedy, and hardly unique among international portrayals of the president. But for observers of the Gulf kingdom, it was worth noting.

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