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...

September 4, 2019

The gloves are off in Hong Kong. Judging from the pictures on today’s BBC News the police no longer have any compunction about beating protestors. Ironically, they don’t appear to get close to the fringe of protestors who are using violent tactics. Rather they are swinging their batons left right and centre at any young person they meet, even chasin...

August 20, 2019


In 1995 in a little remembered event Li Ruthuan, a member of the Chinese Politiburo (containing the top seven in the government), made a speech likening the Chinese take-over of Hong Kong to the case of a lady who had agreed to sell a 100-year-old Yi-Xiang teapot that was famous for the taste of the tea it poured. Unbeknown to her, its quality deri...

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