Tag Archives: World War Two

Refuge from the Law

For refugees fleeing Syria and other failed states to Europe, nothing happens easily. The journey is difficult and long, laden with uncertainty and fear. And even upon arrival in a safe country which would be a suitable place to claim asylum, new and unseen obstacles become visible. Continue reading

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Necessary Acts Are Never Popular – So Politicians Have Done Nothing about Iran or North Korea

The situation on the Korean peninsula has not been good for a long time. But the ceasefire agreed in the 1950s, following years of open warfare, seems more strained now than at any moment in recent memory. Continue reading

William Gerhardie: The Beauty of Futility

Certain novels and novelists remain unknown for a reason. They lack the basic skills required to hold the attention of readers; they are too pedestrian ever to say anything of value; they lack originality, verve and everything else which can make the written word transcend the ordinary. In rare instances, however, obscurity is simply undeserved, but it has still come to pass. In one particular case, that of William Gerhardie, this fate is – at least initially – somewhat surprising. He had a fortuitous start: his work was acclaimed by critics and esteemed by fellow writers (he was famously praised by Evelyn Waugh); and his work, perhaps more importantly of all, had real vitality, genuine energy and poise. Michael Holroyd highlights the following endorsement: ‘“For those of my generation,” wrote Graham Greene, “Gerhardie was the most important new novelist to appear in our young life.”’ Continue reading

Stalin the Terrible

The century just gone was, in Robert Conquest’s telling phrase, a ‘ravaged’ one. It bore witness, as did millions of people, to some of the most extreme political conditions, most devastating wars and most evil figures in the history of the world – and I believe that word is justified. But more evil, more extreme and more ravaged by war than any other state and nation was the Soviet Union, a creation of the early 20th century which did not survive its close. If anything stands to symbolise those hundred years – more so than the Nazi regime which lasted for a mere twelve – that particular entity, Ronald Reagan’s ‘evil empire’, should do it. Continue reading

Henry Kissinger: The Idealist?

Review – Kissinger 1923–1968: The Idealist by Niall Ferguson

Henry Kissinger remains one of the world’s most controversial statesmen. He is a man who is, as Niall Ferguson states at the beginning of this new biography, covering the first 45 years of his subject’s life, both revered and reviled in equal measure. Kissinger is held up by some as a kind of seer, an intellectual without parallel in recent times; others declare – just as fiercely – that he has exercised an entirely corrosive influence on world affairs, that he is a war criminal – and, perhaps most oddly, that he is an agent of the shadowy forces which operate behind supposedly democratic nations to control the way the world really works. (The latter position is obviously ridiculous, but it is worth mentioning – not least because the risible imaginings of David Icke and his ilk can sometimes reflect the more vigorous denunciations of Kissinger which exist in significantly more acceptable circles.) There is one thing, however, on which both sides of this particular debate – which seeks to decide whether Kissinger is a hero or villain, a saint or sinner – appear to agree: that Kissinger was a realist, and a realist par excellence. Ferguson, however, takes a dramatically divergent view, one which is contained within his provocative subtitle. For him, Kissinger is (or at least was) an idealist, which represents the exact opposite of much of the popular and scholarly perception of Kissinger’s life and his work. It appears that everyone else has got the man entirely wrong. Continue reading

Britain’s Labour Party and Its Anti-American Friends

The political systems of Britain and the United States have borne witness to many surprises in recent months. With Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump achieving surprising success in their parties’ primaries ahead of the 2016 general election, it can be forgotten that Britain has already seen a similar upset: the election of Jeremy Corbyn, an avowed ideologue of the far-Left, as leader of the Labour party, one of Britain’s three major parties. In the aftermath of his election as leader, that party has seen an abrupt divergence from the internationalism of much of its long history. Continue reading

The Course of Rearmament before the Second World War

After the First World War wrought its bloody course, the statesmen of Europe and the world began to come to conclusions about its origins. Many of these – well intentioned analyses to a fault – centred on the ideas of ‘power politics’, conceptions of militarism and imperialism, and the notion that arms races cause wars. The Anglo-German naval race of the early twentieth century, as well as its continental equivalents, was held to be the harbinger of future conflict. It was therefore determined that large concentrations of arms should be avoided; that nations should be disarmed – by force if necessary; and that another arms race could not be allowed to occur. All of these aspirations were to fail before the end of the 1930s. Not only did apparent instruments of international peace fail; they also were unable to prevent the coming rearmament, which was built upon a new and ultimately more volatile global order. Continue reading