Tag Archives: United States

Misreading Houellebecq

In France, the release of Serotonin, the latest novel by Michel Houellebecq, attracted the sales and comment his work usually receives. Around the same time, France’s former infant terrible was awarded the légion d’honneur. The author, popularly held to be brutal, unromantic, also married Qianyum Lysis Li late last year. In the pictures, Houellebecq was dressed strangely, but looked happy. His new book is, so far, unavailable in English. Continue reading

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Syria’s Chemical Tactics Could Have Dreadful Consequences for Future Conflicts

Chemical warfare has dominated the global perception of the Syrian civil war. The use of chemical weapons, banned internationally, attracts its own condemnation but the way the Syrian war is captured and communicated to the world increased the horror and disgust its crimes can inspire. Continue reading

Terror’s Wars of Words

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

ISIS Intent on Resurgence as America Contemplates Withdrawal from Syria

The central justification for US President Donald Trump’s demand that the United States evacuates its military presence from Syria is that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been defeated. Superficially, and compared to what came before, this argument may not initially appear outlandish. Continue reading

Israel Presses on with Strikes Against Iran’s Axis

What happens in and to Syria invariably affects Israel. The collapse of Syrian civil society created a humanitarian crisis and other pressures and the persistence of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, a central plank of the ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel, presents its own problems. Continue reading

History in Policy

‘Public history’ is something of a misnomer. The degree to which history which can influence policy is ‘public’ is a difficult question. E. H. Carr writes in his What Is History? that, when he was working in a junior capacity at the Paris peace conference in 1919, all the diplomats and their staffs took extra care to empty their wastepaper baskets. They were thinking of the discussions surrounding the peace treaty after Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, and the history they used to inform their actions was a titbit of information about that time: that nefarious negotiators spied on their opposite numbers’ plans by going through their waste paper. Carr uses this to illustrate the fallacy of thinking one can ultimately ‘learn from history’ in a way which is total and all-encompassing. Each moment in time presents new and unique challenges. One cannot rely simply on knowing the past to know the present, or indeed to predict the future. Continue reading

A New Right Reading List

When Osama bin Laden was found by the special forces of the United States and met his end, there was surprising attention paid to this bookshelf. First, and understandably, the volumes present were the subject of understandable interest. That bin Laden appeared to like the books of Noam Chomsky, at least enough to include them in his collection, elicited a little amusement. Continue reading