Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Africa Category

Nick Cohen’s Mad Mad World

  • May 05, 2014
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Even by his standards, Nick Cohen’s column on Boko Haram in The Guardian on Saturday is a stunningly lazy and incoherent piece of gibberish. Pretending to care, really really care, about the 230 schoolgirls who were abducted by Boko Haram, Cohen seeks to indict ‘the left’ not only for not caring as much as he does, but for somehow acting as apologists for these events, and for showing a ‘failure of solidarity’.

Which components of ‘the left’ is Cohen referring to?  As always the object of Cohen’s outrage isn’t always...

Complexities

  • April 24, 2014
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I was in London today, participating in a radio discussion for the Voice of Russia about Boko Haram.     I was probably the most anomalous presence there, given that I’m not – to say the least – an expert on either Nigeria or Boko Haram, so it was a really interesting and thought-provoking experience...

Westgate: God’s Trashy Gangsters

  • September 30, 2013
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Killing in the name of religion invariably provides a special moral uplift that is not always available in its ‘secular’ variants, with a unique ability to cast an aura of nobility over even the most squalid and disgusting acts.

The last week has produced   a real bumper crop of such acts by the disparate  ...

Evan Davis, Mali and the cock up theory

  • January 25, 2013
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The mainstream British media tends to view foreign policy through a very narrow lens at the best of times,   and the BBC’s worldview tends to be more circumscribed than most.     On Monday Evan Davis interviewed William Hague on the Today programme about Britain’s role in Mali.     During his gentle interrogation...

Money makes the (neo-imperial) world go round

  • August 21, 2012
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The ‘international community’ is making cautiously optimistic noises regarding the highly-selective attempts to conjure up a new government in Somalia.   The new parliamentary institutions are intended to replace the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) that Western governments and their African allies so disastrously supported both before and after the 2006 Ethiopian invasion.

Shadows continue to flit...

Cameron’s awfully big Somali adventure

  • February 24, 2012
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Yesterday’s International Conference on Somalia was billed by the UK government as a turning point in the history of one of the most impoverished and war-torn nations on earth.   In his opening address to the conference David Cameron explained the purpose of the conference in the following terms:

‘In a country where there is...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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