Reads

The Gulf War was not ended by the military victory of America and the Allies. It was ended by the mass desertion of thousands of Iraqi soldiers. So overwhelming was the refusal to fight for the Iraqi state on the part of its conscripted army that, contrary to all predictions, not one Allied soldier was killed by hostile fire in the final ground offensive to recapture Kuwait. (More…)

Northern Ireland is a small region within a rich nation-state, but the strength of the economic union has now become a source of instability.  The threat is that the Northern Irish business community has not seen a consistent “reduction of uncertainty”, as it depends on the prospect of stability. (More…)

One measure of twentieth-century conceptual conflict over comics in China lies between the positions of literary critic Hu Feng and Mao Zedong. Hu Feng, an inheritor of the May 4th revolutionary tradition, argued that individual subjectivity provided the basis for responding to popular sentiment and political will. (More…)

One of the biggest and most tragic migrations of peoples since World War II is being experienced by the states that arose on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. According to unverified information, on the territory of the former joint state, about 2.3 million people have been left without a home and a roof over their heads. (More…)

In Kurdish areas in the north of Syria, an implicit popular (i.e. trans-class) alliance was first formed after 2011 to self-manage a territory deserted by the Syrian authorities, and then in 2014 to defend it against the deadly threat from ISIS. The resistance combines former traditional ties and new movements, women’s particularly, in a working community of proletarians and middle-class elements, cemented by an emphasis on a common Kurdish nation. (More…)

With the death of Hafiz al-Assad in 2000, a peace deal between Syria and Israel remained incomplete. While some speculated that  Islamists in Syria would use the death of Assad to attempt to gain political control of Syria that reality did not occur. The Alawi political power remained intact when Bashar al-Assad took over for his father. (More…)

The French bourgeoisie piously intones that the Papon trial should serve as a “history lesson” to a new generation. Perhaps, but not in the way they want. His case vividly illustrates the brutal oppression meted out by both Vichy France and the (Fifth) Republic, and how they are directly connected rather than counterposed. (More…)

Even more than previous years in what has been a consistently stressful decade for me, 2018 was defined by the divide between what I absolutely had to do and what I felt I didn’t have time for. As a result – and I think this applies to a great many people, even ones who had relatively good years – I ended up prioritizing experiences over the pursuit of novelty. (More…)

In late 2010 and early 2011, popular uprisings challenged the ruling dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, as opposition groups campaigned for a democratic transformation. Their actions inspired opposition groups in neighbouring countries, opening the door for change across the region, in what became known as the “Arab Spring.” (More…)

Where does prison literature begin and where does it end?  At the prison gates? Only with jailed writers? Given the sprawling impact of prisons on American society, no definition of prison literature will hold. (More…)

Great Britain announced her impending withdrawal from the Persian Gulf while I was resident on Bahrain, assigned as a staff officer to the US Commander, Middle East Force. At the time neither myself nor my neighbours, whether British or Bahraini, seemed particularly impressed by that news. Perhaps in early 1968 none of us really believed it would happen. Of course it did. (More…)

One night on a kibbutz in the early 1970s, a German volunteer named Wolfgang turned up at my door asking for assistance.  He’d climbed over a high gate returning from Tel Aviv, fell, and had a nasty cut across his palm.  I took him to the clinic while a friend fetched the kibbutz nurse, a concentration camp survivor with a tattoo on her arm. (More…)