November 19, 2019

Of all the present foes of America it is Iran which has consistently been over time the number one.  Since its Islamic Revolution in 1979 that overthrew the secular-minded Shah and supplanted him with a militant, sometimes warlike, Islamic theocracy, it has been America’s Great Satan. (But for Europe rather less so, although no country has broken ra...

November 12, 2019

“Lies, damn lies and statistics”. “You can bend any fact with statistics”. There is some truth in that. Nevertheless, some statistics are necessary, revealing and surprising. Many of us when asked about the position of the poor in America would say that over the last two centuries they have made little progress. But look at the statistics, look at t...

November 5, 2019

Before there was Brexit there was Amexit- when the Americans in 1776 decided to revolt against Britain’s King George and unilaterally secede to establish their own independent republic.

In retrospect it was a strangely negative thing to do and one that took a long time to put right. As Voltaire who was living in London around that time observed, Brit...

October 29, 2019

It’s the most repeated maxim in all the reportage on the war in Afghanistan: “The Americans have the watches, we, the Taliban, have the time.”

“Play it again, Sam” was said in “Casablanca”. It should be played, said and listened to in Kabul and Washington today. This is America’s longest war ever- 18 years and counting. It has cost over one trillion...

October 22, 2019

It’s time overdue for the West to make up with Russia. The contretemps over Ukraine, now played out over five years, is too long. As the world goes it doesn’t deserve so much attention. Ukraine in land mass may be a big country but it’s population is only 44 million and its national income per head a quarter of Russia’s. The Ukrainian puppy’s tail h...

October 15, 2019

Insurgencies may not die, but at least, like old soldiers, they usually fade away. Well, that seemed to be the case with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK. For the best part of five years between 2000 and 2005 there was a truce in Turkey’s bitter and savage civil war. But it did not last.

The Kurdish “problem” goes back to the Ottoman Empire. The...

October 8, 2019

There’s a lot of end-of-the-world hyperbole around on climate change. So there should be. But it blankets out other important causes that are even more imminently important- wiping out malaria and sleeping sickness and introducing pure water supplies, sewerage systems and education for girls- all of which would save many more people than those likel...

September 24, 2019

“What idiocy”, exclaims Jack Matlock on Facebook.  Matlock is one of my “Facebook Friends” because I judge his knowledge of Russia as second to none, having been under President Ronald Reagan the White House’s senior advisor on the Soviet Union and, later, his ambassador to Moscow.

The object of his ire is based on a Newsday article earlier this mont...

September 17, 2019

The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has long been controversial. Back in the days of the Soviet Union, Moscow protected communist and ultra-socialist dictators around the world from any attack on their human rights abuses. At the same time routine attacks on Israel, even the extravagant ones, were given free reign in the Council. Indeed, this still...

September 10, 2019

Belem is the Brazilian city at the mouth of the Amazon. Unlike its slummy counterpart, Kinshasa, at the mouth of the Congo, it’s full of resplendent streets with beautiful nineteenth century houses. It has squares and market places full of cafes, fountains and life.

The large city grew up shipping rubber from the Amazon forest, which begins on its do...

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