Putin arrested Russia’s richest man as a warning to the others

I first met Mikhail Khodorkovsky several years ago, just after he had embarked upon his amazingly rapid conversion from shady, highly-suspect oil billionaire to famous, philanthropist oil billionaire. The location was the Moscow home of a Russian friend who might be best described as a democracy activist, and the occasion was Khodorkovsky’s first meeting with Richard Perle, a member of the Pentagon’s Defence Policy Board. Continue reading “Putin arrested Russia’s richest man as a warning to the others”

It’s make-your-mind-up time, Prime Minister

When the fog of war eventually lifts, how different will the post-war landscape really be? Baghdad will be transformed, whatever happens. The rest of the Arab world might be altered too. But whether the war lasts six days or six months or six years, the international stalemate – the diplomatic quagmire – will still be there when it is over. Continue reading “It’s make-your-mind-up time, Prime Minister”

George’s big mistake was to listen to Tony

Practically nobody is willing to say it, so let us be as frank as possible: the decision to conduct the invasion of Iraq in consultation with the United Nations – a decision taken by President George W Bush partly to mollify his friend Tony Blair – has been utterly disastrous. Continue reading “George’s big mistake was to listen to Tony”

Saddam is a pushover compared to Kim Jong Il

This weekend, Colin Powell, the American Secretary of State, is not in Israel or in Jordan, preparing for imminent war with Iraq. He is not in Europe, mollifying allies. Instead, he is in Japan and South Korea, quietly dealing with the other weapons-of-mass-destruction crisis, the one we have heard much less about. Continue reading “Saddam is a pushover compared to Kim Jong Il”