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 27, 2019

“In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and the road branched out to the whole world. And because the road was once a river it was always hungry.”

This must be one of the best opening lines ever penned by a novelist. It’s the work of the Nigerian novelist, Ben Okri, who won English literature’s premier annual award, the Booker pr...

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...

August 13, 2019

In her famous decree in 1767 Empress Catherine the Great proclaimed Russia to be a European power. She wanted Russia to be a major player in European politics. She compelled the Europeans to accept Russia as a great power as a condition for doing business. In 1815 Russia was considered an equal in the 1815 Concert of Europe.

In contrast, Imperial Chi...

August 6, 2019

If MAD was Mad then the decision of President Donald Trump to renounce the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) is MADDER.

MAD is Mutually Assured Destruction, a concept which underlay the nuclear deterrence of the Cold War. Presidents Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan began the hard work of dismantling MAD with the INF, a treaty affecting the...

July 30, 2019

In 2010 the signatory states of the International Criminal Court, established to prosecute war crimes, convened a conference to add aggression to the list of crimes the court could try. The US, Russia, Iran, China and India have refused to sign up as ICC members  and have not welcomed the addition of “aggression”. But fifteen Nato states have. Moreo...

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