Oman Red Scare

Oman Red Scare

The United Kingdom fought one of its last colonial wars in Oman, between 1962 and 1976. The Dhofar Uprising was initially a tribal revolt in the fiefdom of Dhofar, which evolved into a Communist-led insurrection. The conflict is crucial for understanding the development of the Gulf monarchies. More»

Little America?

Little America?

In the mall adjacent to Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem, you’ll find this giant image of a hamburger — no cheese, naturally — branded as “Big America”. It’s hard to imagine a better visual allegory for the relationship between the United States and the embattled nation which receives so much of its annual giving, if that’s what you want to see. But the reality is more complicated. More»

Anti-Imperialist Britain

Anti-Imperialist Britain

The sentiment of Continental Europe towards Islam — I do not speak of England — is still one of social hostility and political aggression. In spite of all the changes which have affected religious thought in Catholic Europe, and of the modern doctrine of tolerance, none of the nations by which Islam is immediately confronted by have changed anything of their policy, since they first resolved to recover “Christian lands lost to the infidel.” More»

Latest entries
Anarchy in the UK

Anarchy in the UK

North of Hadrian’s Wall, the party of Scottish nationalism has won an almost total victory. The Liberal Democrats and Labour have suffered huge losses, while the Conservatives maintained the one blue patch left. The Scottish National Party lowered the voting age to 16 and tapped into a reservoir of disenchantment with status quo politics. More»

Edge of the Abyss

Edge of the Abyss

The world is on the cusp of the greatest transformation of the nature of work since the industrial revolution of the 19th century, if not, arguably, since the invention of the wheel. The confluence of developments in cybernetics, robotics, and artificial intelligence will, in all likelihood, result in transformations so profound as to rewrite the rules governing human societies, if it does not wipe them out entirely. More»

Sectarianism in Yemen

Sectarianism in Yemen

Media analysts frequently overemphasize Sunni-Shi’i divisions in Yemen, as though they are longstanding religious problems, with crude, irrational origins. Such discourse purposefully clouds the complex tribal, regional, and structural conflicts in the country. More»

Late Night Nostalgia

Late Night Nostalgia

Like many Americans, I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about David Letterman’s final shows. But it wasn’t until the past few days that I actually watched them “live”. Aside from sporting events, I almost never watch television in a traditional way anymore. So when I finally managed to tune into our local CBS affiliate at 10:30pm, it felt almost like time travel. More»

The Burden of Superiority

The Burden of Superiority

I for one regret that the old Pax Romana was broken up by the Arabs; and hold that in the long run there was more life in that Byzantine decline than in that Semitic revival. And I will add what I cannot here develop or defend; that in the long run it is best that the Pax Romana should return; and that the suzerainty of those lands at least will have to be Christian, and neither Moslem nor Jewish. More»

UKIP and the Far-Right

UKIP and the Far-Right

It’d a landmark achievement. UKIP won 3.8 million votes, and secured one parliamentary seat, as well as control of Thanet Council. Nigel Farage lost his bid for South Thanet, as Mark Reckless lost his seat, leaving Tory defector Douglas Carswell to hold on in Clacton. This right-of-centre party has broken into the mainstream after two decades on the margins. More»

The Shame of Malls

The Shame of Malls

For my birthday last week, I received three T-shirts featuring Walter Benjamin. It’s hard to imagine a better example of “long tail” marketing. I was delighted. But one of them made me uneasy. Playing off the now-ubiquitous religious slogan, it asks, “What would Benjamin do?” The truth, though, is that few thinkers have been less invested in getting things done. More»

Germany in Palestine

Germany in Palestine

So passed the days of our training, swiftly, monotonously, until the fateful December morning when the news came like a thunderbolt that Turkey was about to join hands with Germany. We had had reports of the war—of a kind. Copies of telegrams from Constantinople, printed in Arabic, were circulated among us, giving accounts of endless German victories. More»

Early '90s Flashback

Early ’90s Flashback

The pub was packed to the gills with people, who had just finished work, but wanted to jeer at the ultimate blood-sport. My pal and I assessed the odds: I settled on an inky stout, he bought a large whiskey. The first exit poll conducted by Ipsos Mori was announced at 10 PM on Thursday night. The results came as a shock to seasoned observers, who had been expecting a close race. More»

Art Against Communism

Art Against Communism

The most important trend in recent historiography of the Cold War has been an expansion in interest in subjects outside tthe politico-military, and the economic. Twenty years ago, when Heide Fehrenbach published Cinema in Democratizing Germany, the perception that cultural issues were secondary was still widespread among scholars (particularly historians) of the postwar era. More»

The Uzbekistan Elections

The Uzbekistan Elections

On March 29, presidential elections were held in Uzbekistan. As expected, the current president, Islam Karimov, was reelected. The 77-year old  has been in power for over a quarter of a century, and just began his fourth consecutive term, despite the fact that Uzbek constitution limits presidents to two. More»

Putting Life Back in Balance

Putting Life Back in Balance

Sometimes, you can’t tell how much a book has moved you until many years after you first encounter it. This past October, I took a trip Flagstaff, a town I’d somehow managed not to visit in fourteen years of living in Arizona. After a mostly sleepless night of coughing, I forced myself to drive north towards the Grand Canyon. That’s when I remembered Tony Hillerman. More»