During Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972, the Chinese premier, Zhou Enlai, was asked about the impact of the French Revolution. He famously replied that he thought it was too early to say. Although it appears that Zhou may have misunderstood the question, it was as one diplomat remarked, a misunderstanding that was ‘too delicious to invite correction’.
As is well known, the French revolution, like the Chinese revolution in which Zhou played a leading role, resulted in a prolonged period of death and destruction. Here are 8 reasons why revolutions often fail. Continue reading →
Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda secured their place in infamy with the attacks of 9/11. Within one month U.S. and U.K. forces had invaded Afghanistan. Within two months both the Taliban and Al Qaeda leaderships had been forced into hiding across the border in Pakistan. With the Taliban deposed and Al Qaeda on the run, George W. Bush announced a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Afghanistan, promising substantial assistance for state building and democracy. That promise was soon forgotten, however, amidst the furore of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Continue reading →
This post is the second of three which look at thirty five years of conflict in the Middle East, and seven steps that have led to the emergence of ISIS.
The Iranian Revolution in 1979 triggered Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran and the beginning of the eight-year long Iran–Iraq war. It also marked the escalation of the battle within Islam between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims, as Saudi Arabia began to spend billions of dollars to export its fundamentalist form of Islam across the world. Continue reading →
The rise of Islamic State (IS) and its seizure of large parts of Iraq and Syria have caused alarm in the West and across the Middle East. Harrowing images of mass killings and beheadings of soldiers and journalists have sparked calls for renewed U.S. intervention in the region. Alarming as it is, Islamic State has not risen in a vacuum. In fact IS can be seen as an outcome of thirty five years of continual warfare across the Middle East. This post, the first of three, looks at those thirty five years of conflict and the seven steps that have led to the emergence of ISIS. Continue reading →
During the 1960s three of the most narcissistic Presidents in US history came to power – John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. During this period the myth of American exceptionalism became a dominant theme in U.S. politics. America now viewed itself as the world’s policeman and as the defender of global freedom. As a consequence, the U.S. became embroiled in a series of catastrophes including the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, and the bombing and invasion of Cambodia. In a world full of psychopaths, the US increasingly acted like them. Continue reading →
After watching the evening news, it’s hard to make the argument that religion makes us kinder to one another.
ISIS in Iraq is murdering Christians and Shia Muslims alike under the guise of a Holy War. Israel’s merciless bombardment of Gaza has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of women and children- the youngest to be killed was ten days old, the oldest was 100. In Uganda, evangelical Christians are vowing to campaign to reinstate the death penalty for gay men. And in Burma, Buddhist monks preach hate against that country’s persecuted Muslim minority.
Amidst this whirlwind of sectarian hatred, it is time to finally recognise that not only is morality possible without god, morality is infinitely better without god. Continue reading →
A cursory glance at the evening news reveals a picture of humanity violently at odds with itself. The shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, the violent advance of ISIS in Iraq, and the Israeli attacks on Gaza show the continued influence of nationalism and religion as conduits for violence and hatred. But the everyday reporting of the major news channels hides a deeper division still – the division of humanity based on disorders of personality. Continue reading →