Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Middle East Category
Terrortalk

Terrortalk

  • December 13, 2015
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Many years ago, when I was doing my A’ Levels, my English teacher gave us three basic rules of thumb to apply when reading texts: 1) What is the author trying to achieve? 2) To what extent does he/she succeed on his/her terms? 3) To what extent does he/she succeed on your terms?

I’ve always found this advice useful.  When I was writing my history of terrorism The Infernal Machine, for instance,  I often asked what the individuals and organizations were trying to achieve, and then I considered the extent to which they succeeded.  Asking...

Corbyn’s rebels

  • November 28, 2015
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Lyndon Johnson once said of F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover that ” It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”  Perhaps that was the rationale behind Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to pack his shadow cabinet with so many people who did  not  reflect the new political...

We Bomb Therefore We Are

We Bomb Therefore We Are

  • November 23, 2015
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Many people who have never read a word of military history or strategy will have come across the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz’s famous observation that “war is politics (policy) by other means.”   If wars are fought in pursuit of political goals, then it follows that governments will know what these goals are, and...

It’s Official: Stop the War is Responsible for the Syrian Civil War

  • November 08, 2015
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I am not a member of the Stop the War Coalition, but I have been part of the movement ever since the lead up to the Iraq War.  I may not agree with all of its positions, and I don’t share the politics of some of its members, but I share its central aims, and...

Israel’s Phony Culturati

  • October 24, 2015
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As someone who has spent much of his life writing and reading, and often writing directly or indirectly about politics,  I’ve often had doubts about the role of writers and how relevant and useful we actually are, about the extent to which writing actually contrbutes to bringing about social and political change,  and...

Erdogan’s Massacre

Erdogan’s Massacre

  • October 12, 2015
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Terrorist events tend to provoke a stock response from politicians and governments. Invariably there is a great deal of sonorous rhetoric, accompanied by exhortations  to the population to stand firm and show unity in the face of the universal evil.   Nearly always there is a lot of use of the first person plural, as in...

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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