The pictures from Kiev don’t tell the whole story

The conflict in Ukraine is, at heart, about politics – not an ethnic, geographical or linguistic dispute – and nor is it confined to Kiev
Yes, the photographs from Kiev this week were uncanny, even “apocalyptic”. The orange sky, the burning buses, the blood on the barricades did indeed create scenes which looked like a Second World War movie. They made the city seem foreign, exotic, unreal – which is precisely why you should be wary of them. Continue reading “The pictures from Kiev don’t tell the whole story”

ANTI-SEMITE AND JEW

The double life of a Hungarian politician.

  • LETTER FROM BUDAPEST

The day was chilly but clear, the crowd energetic. Some were in quasi-military uniform, others in hooded sweatshirts emblazoned with patriotic symbols. Dozens of flags fluttered in the breeze. The red-white-and-green tricolor of modern Hungary was prominent, but so was a flag with red and white stripes, remembered by most Hungarians as the symbol of the wartime Fascists. There were hundreds of banners bearing the word “Jobbik,” shorthand for Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom—Movement for a Better Hungary—the name of Hungary’s far-right political party. Continue reading “ANTI-SEMITE AND JEW”

Time for our leaders to stop talking about ‘justice’ in Syria if we can’t or won’t enforce it

Honesty may be the best and only realistic policy

‘It’s about chemical weapons. Their use is wrong and the world shouldn’t stand idly by.’
— David Cameron, 27 August

‘The chemical massacre in Damascus cannot and must not go unpunished.’
— François Hollande, 30 August

‘We lead with the belief that right makes might, not the other way around.’
— Barack Obama, 31 August

Continue reading “Time for our leaders to stop talking about ‘justice’ in Syria if we can’t or won’t enforce it”

Middle East violence ‘the result of generations of tyranny’

It’s not an Arab Winter: Today’s violence in the Middle East is the end result of generations of tyranny, suppression and distortion of political discussion

The Washington Post headline declared that “scores” were dead. The New York Times wrote of “mass killings.” The Telegraph, when I last checked, was claiming that “more than 623” died in fighting in Egypt over the past few days, but of course that’s an estimate. In truth, no one knows the real death toll because the violence that began with the army’s forced clearances of protest camps in Cairo on Wednesday quickly spread across the country. Angry mobs have since pushed military trucks off bridges, burned churches, torched buildings. Continue reading “Middle East violence ‘the result of generations of tyranny’”

Spies, terrorists and an undercover ham sandwich

I am trying very hard to understand why everyone is shocked — shocked! — by news that the US government helps itself to the massive data flows generated by Google, Facebook and Twitter. I have always assumed that something placed into an internet database is no more secret than something written in a letter. We all know that those pop-up advertisements — so amazingly compatible with what we searched for on Facebook ten minutes ago — aren’t there by accident. But if we aren’t bothered when ruthlessly efficient multinational corporations troll through our data in order to earn billions for their teenage CEOs, why are we bothered when the comparatively inept US government does the same while searching for terrorists? Continue reading “Spies, terrorists and an undercover ham sandwich”

To Americans, Margaret Thatcher stood for free markets and free people

No transatlantic alliance since has held a candle to the potent symbolism of Reagan-Thatcher

In America, we didn’t know about the miners’ strike, and I suspect that if we had, we might not have cared. We were mystified by the poll tax riots. We were bemused by the Falklands war – where are the Falklands, anyway? – and lukewarm about Britain’s fights with Europe. We like the idea of Europe, after all; we are in favour of having European allies, as we call them, and we are under the impression that Britain is one of them. So why shouldn’t you all just get along? Continue reading “To Americans, Margaret Thatcher stood for free markets and free people”

Does Eastern Europe still exist?

In February 2009, the Economist ran a cartoon which featured caricature versions of Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy and Gordon Brown, then the leaders of their respective countries. The three were sitting at a luxuriously appointed dining table, their faces frozen in exaggerated horror. All were contemplating a giant bill, at the top of which was written, “for the rescue of Eastern Europe.” The accompanying article, just to drive home the point, was entitled “The bill that could break up Europe.” Continue reading “Does Eastern Europe still exist?”

US election 2012: Why ‘leading from behind’ might not be the best way to take American forward

Let’s be perfectly clear: this year’s American presidential election was not a referendum on American foreign policy. Nor did it involve much discussion of the subject. During most of the campaign, the words “Iraq” and “Afghanistan” were scarcely mentioned. Continue reading “US election 2012: Why ‘leading from behind’ might not be the best way to take American forward”

US election 2012: It’s time for a Republican Party clear-out

The Republican party’s sound economic policies are being drowned out by the strident voices of dubious fringe figures
President Barack Obama’s victory speech. Mitt Romney could not separate himself from a Republican Party whose public faces – in the media as well as in politics – seem to many Americans ever more extreme Continue reading “US election 2012: It’s time for a Republican Party clear-out”

US Election 2012: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama – the upside-down election

The Democrats and Republicans have stolen each other’s clothes as they attempt to win over America’s voters

A quick quiz: which American political party talked about social issues, military families and foreign policy at its convention? Which American political party celebrated the achievements of its most recent president and spoke about his legacy? And which American presidential candidate declared, “I have never been more hopeful about America?” If you guessed “Republicans” to the first two and “Mitt Romney” to the third, you would be quite wrong. And that was the odd thing about this two-week American political convention season: the parties’ core messages are the same as ever, but their roles are now strangely reversed. Continue reading “US Election 2012: Mitt Romney and Barack Obama – the upside-down election”