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For a few years subsequent to the Second Anglo-Afghan war, our frontier policy happily remained free from complications. It will be desirable to refer shortly to the progress of Russia in Central Asia, and of her conquests of the decaying Principalities of Khiva, Bokhara and Kokand. (More…)

Today is the 130th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s arrival in New York Harbor. To celebrate, Google has offered up one of its “doodles”, in which a disproportionately huge rendering of the bronze lady dwarfs the ship that is bringing her to the United States. She appears to be tipping over, as if she were about to fall into the sea. It’s a strangely resonant image. (More…)

Following the Cold War, America’s military and intelligence apparatus in Germany remained in place. To this day, there are thousands of US troops stationed in the country. When Gerhard Schröder, in another attempt to win an election, made a lot of noise about not supporting the war in Iraq, he nonetheless was happy to allow the US to use German bases. (More…)

The Pakistani Islamist Abul Ala’a Maududi had polemical and highly complex views on the spiritual acceptability of democracy. Maududi’s criticisms were unmistakably protofascist, and framed the political outlook of Jamaat-e Islami, formed in British India, in 1941. (More…)

The ending of a fiction represents the point at which its essential artificiality is most acute. While individual lives do end, life itself does not end (or at least, will not end on earth for a literally unthinkably long time). When a fiction ends, it is the apotheosis of the human ability and desire to chop up the flow of time into manageably finite stories. (More…)

The construction of major highways in four provinces, as well as pressure to designate the Chinese-financed Gwadar as a duty-free port, has breathed new life into ongoing efforts for Pakistani development. (More…)

When most people visit the Washington D.C. area, they think of visiting the Smithsonian, or perhaps the White House or Pentagon. But when I met up with a friend on a recent trip there, we had our hearts set on an abandoned mental asylum. (More…)

Ever since the first Snowden leaks in 2013, something strange has been happening in Germany. On the one hand, Germans were shocked by how ruthless the US was, going so far as to tap Angela Merkel’s phone. On the other, the government’s response was incredibly subdued. Of course, there were some publicized angry calls to Obama, and the BND reduced its cooperation with the NSA. But that was it. (More…)

A European hat in those days was a rarity except in the large towns, and it attracted notice. That is the reason why I generally discarded it, with other too conspicuously Western adjuncts. Where the inhabitants were not well mannered, the hat was apt to be saluted with a shower of stones. (More…)

Of all the pricks against which the philosophically-minded person must kick, few are as galling as the persistent tendency of booksellers to shelve the works of Ayn Rand in their ever-dwindling philosophy sections. It’s bad enough that the works of Aristotle and Plato must compete for shelf space with titles like The Simpsons and Philosophy and the works of Bernard-Henri Lévy. (More…)

On a visit to Washington DC in 2012 Barack Obama and David Cameron spoke as one. The ‘special relationship’ (a term only used in the UK) was on show. Still, the terms were glowing. President Obama portrayed a “rock-solid alliance” as constant in an ever-changing world. Prime Minister Cameron went further to describe the relationship as “the United States of Liberty and Enterprise”. (More…)

A glance at the photo inspires a tortuous quest for meaning. The handsome man, presumably of Middle Eastern descent, strikes a pose that would please the most severe proponent of Socialist Realism. And he has his mobile phone out to document it. Or does he? That’s the beauty of having both a rear and front-facing camera. Mobiles are the mirror-shades of our era. (More…)