Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

An Endgame in Syria?

Around the world and in Syria itself, there is an idea which is gaining traction.

This idea holds, in effect, that the war is coming to an end. Its proponents suggest that things are beginning to fall into place; that the situation is beginning to become conclusive; and that, very soon, the country will reach something like stasis, or even a final state. Continue reading

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Even Under Trump, Warmer Relations With Russia Are Impossible

Diplomacy, to pervert Carl von Clausewitz’s most famous epigram, is the continuation of war by other means. Its practitioners can use diplomacy to support allies or publicly rebuke adversaries. In the post-Cold War era, the severing of diplomatic relations has often served as a substitute for conflict. Continue reading

After an Election Victory, Emmanuel Macron’s Foreign Outlook Is Hardening

Emmanuel Macron has a difficult task ahead of him.

The new French president is stellar in many ways. Continue reading

Of Tyranny and Violence

The people disappeared in Syria’s military prisons do not have graves, but they do have names. They may not have been accorded funeral rites, but they have faces and stories and their families have memories of their presence. The war which has destroyed much of Syria can be localised: to a family, to a single person, to a face. And within the wider war lurk stories of cruelty and barbarism which affect individuals but whose effects spiral outwards. These specific instances of savagery become institutionalised. Continue reading

Emmanuel Macron and Moderation

Emmanuel Macron, leader of France’s En Marche! and candidate for the country’s presidency, seems too good to be true. Intelligent, impeccably educated, charismatic, he is very different to François Fillon, who is officially ‘embattled’ – and certainly looks jaded – after the emergence of a financial scandal regarding the unorthodox (and state subsidised) employment of his wife.

And Macron is nothing at all like the far-right leader of the Front National, Marine Le Pen. Continue reading

Trump Washes His Hands of Syria

Donald Trump is about to become president of the United States of America. As remarkable as this phrase still seems, it’s going to happen. As such, his pronouncements matter; his every utterance is newsworthy.

This is why Trump’s first interview with a British newspaper, conducted by Michael Gove for The Times, is notable. Alongside the expected comments on Brexit, which Trump greeted warmly and enthusiastically, the president-elect also discussed the usefulness of NATO, the situation in Syria, migration to Europe and, inevitably, Russia and Vladimir Putin. Continue reading

Beyond Post-Truth

The phrase ‘post-truth’, a word of the year in 2016 (dearly departed and much missed), is already looking a bit clapped out. It’s a little on the nose, even obvious; it’s not all that insightful; and the thing is already entirely ubiquitous, on the lips of every lazy pundit and within easy reach of every angry guy on the internet. They all want to use it, as it conveys a kind of easily attained semi-intellectualism, just about enough for TV and Twitter. Continue reading