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 →
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 practice of violence changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world’. Hannah Arendt
For decades now sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims has engulfed the Middle East and central Asia. The conflict has spilled over into the West, most notably in the 9/11 attacks, while the ensuing ‘War on Terror’ has further poisoned relations between the West and the Muslim world. Today sectarian violence is spreading to North and East Africa, creating an arc of instability across the African continent. Three decades of brutal Sunni-Shia conflict tragically illustrates the intractable nature of sectarian violence. It also demonstrates how religious fundamentalism can too often give those with dangerous personality disorders an easy path to power. Continue reading →