Trump’s sanctions on Iran pose a threat he never thought of

Sanctions are used by the US to punish rivals and discourage challenges to American power. The US has imposed (by executive order only) sanctions on a record 944 individuals and entities in the last year. This year it could reach 1000. Such carrots as aid, investment or diplomacy are not even discussed. Sanctions are widely …

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Don’t blame Brussels, blame Whitehall

“Take back control.” That was always the most potent of Brexit slogans. And the most deceitful. Disenchanted voters were never going to gain control of the rules of EU trade. The one sphere in which they could assert control is over the area where they live: local government. Local councils deliver a quarter of all …

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Five thoughts on the midterm elections

Neither Democrats nor Republicans should be satisfied with the results. The Republicans’ failure to keep control of the House despite a booming economy, low unemployment and the lack of an unpopular war doesn’t bode well for them if things get worse. Equally, the Democrats’ losses in the Senate expose the party’s weakness in rural and …

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Has the Republican Party gone crazy?

According to some political scientists, America has undergone what is known as asymmetric polarisation, which is when both of the two main political parties become more extreme, but one becomes far more extreme than the other. In America’s case, both the Republicans and the Democrats have abandoned the centre, but the Republicans are far further …

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Josip Broz Tito and Josef Stalin, 1948

The letter that terrified the most terrifying leader of modern times. When a schism grew between the Communist allies, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, Soviet leader Stalin expected the smaller country to bow before his power. Instead, the Yugoslavian President Marshal Tito defied Stalin. The latter was incensed, and despatched successive assassins to murder Tito. …

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What Germany’s Green Party can teach America

A fortnight ago, I wrote on how the Democrats can win the midterms. Today, I wanted to focus on a successful example of an insurgent centre-left party- Germany’s Green Party- and what they can teach Democrats, and Americans generally. On the 14th October, an election was held in the German state of Bavaria. The closest thing Germany …

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The gunrunner President

American weapons makers have dominated the global arms trade for decades. In any given year, they account for between one-third and more than a half by value of all international weapons sales. Until recently, the Trump administration had focused on the promotion of big-ticket items like fighter planes, tanks, and missile defense systems around the …

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Our collective memory is fading

The famous quote by George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, is echoed by Yascha Mounk, who writes, “One possible explanation for why young people are disenchanted with democracy is that they have little conception of what it would mean to live in a different political system.” Today most …

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Turkey regresses

For many years Turks were very pro-Western. Indeed, they considered themselves part of the West. But, maybe, partly because the EU members baulked at Turkish EU membership and the cultural upheaval it might cause, Turkey is undergoing its own cultural upheaval, where the authorities are insisting on ethnic, religious and historical distinctness from the West. …

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Non- Disparagement Agreements

Some of the people who appear on American TV, or who are quoted in articles about President Trump, have signed non-disclosure agreements that oblige signers not to disparage Trump personally, or members of his family. Some versions provide for financial penalties, others are comprehensive in terms of Trump’s political, social and financial affairs. So the …

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What Britain’s pro-Europeans are getting wrong

Brexit seems to be going from bad to worse. The governing Conservative Party can’t agree on a plan for leaving the European Union- the Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed plan is opposed by a significant chunk of Conservative MPs and the vast majority of Conservative members. Negotiations have been slow and fraught, with each side …

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Brief thoughts on the upcoming Swedish election

Sweden is viewed very favourably in Britain. It’s seen as tolerant, liberal and friendly country, committed to modernity yet proud of its traditions. Sweden seems to get the balance right between supporting free markets and free trade on the one hand, and having a compassionate approach to the poor and refugees on the other. Yet …

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The sorry state of British education, part 3, universities

The conclusion of a three-part series on British education. You can read the first part on GCSEs here, and the second part on A-levels here. British universities are amongst the best in the world, beaten only by the United States, a country with five times the population. They attract high numbers of students from virtually …

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Why Jeremy Corbyn should resign.

Last week I posted about why the centre-left is in decline. Today, I wanted to talk about a party that has bucked the trend. Since Jeremy Corbyn succeeded Ed Miliband as the British Labour Party leader following its defeat in the 2015 general election, he has done what hardly anyone thought possible- substantially increase the proportion …

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A former spy-chief says social media emboldens the far Right.

I am reproducing a book review by Stephen Collins in this month’s edition of Prospect Magazine, because it needs to be emphasised and tepeated. The book is called “Principled Spying” by David Omand, a former head of GCHQ. (Georgetown University Press): “Twitter and Facebook have a darker side. I have seen them encourage the growth …

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Epicurus and politics, a response

If you type in ‘Epicurus and politics’ into Google, the first result you get is an excellent post by Robert. Here, he explained Epicurus’ arguments against politics- the needless anxiety caused by a gullible public being fooled by charlatans only interested in their own gain. Charismatic figures will emerge, appealing to the public’s sense of …

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