Notes From the Margins…
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George Washington in Fallujah

  • October 17, 2012
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Less than a year ago Barack Obama delivered a speech at Fort Bragg, Carolina, to commemorate the withdrawal of the last US troops from Iraq.  The Nobel Laureate hailed the successful conclusion to ‘one of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military’ and praised the war that he had once opposed for leaving behind ‘  a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.’

Obama praised the sacrifice of US soldiers in bringing about this outcome, which he placed within a noble American tradition stretching from

the colonists who overthrew an empire, to your...

‘Mau Mau’ and the Myth of a Benevolent Empire

  • October 07, 2012
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Last week’s ruling by  a British judge,  granting three survivors of the 1950s Kenyan ‘Emergency’  the right to a High Court trial over allegations of British government complicity in torture, is  a tremendous achievement for the Kenyan campaigners and lawyers who fought this seemingly unwinnable case for so many years.

No wonder...

One Nation Under a Miliband

  • October 03, 2012
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I always find the party conference season to be a bleak confirmation of the essential   vacuity of mainstream politics.     I especially hate the parts where the party leaders express their ‘values’ and their ‘vision’, and engage in contrived and cringeworthy attempts to reveal   ‘personalities’ which are in fact nothing more than...

Barack Obama gives the world a hug

  • September 26, 2012
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You have to hand it to Barack Obama – the guy can talk.     When George W. Bush appeared on the world stage,   the spoilt frat-boy was always embarrassingly visible beneath the presidential veneer, and his attempts to sound statesmanlike were often undermined by the disturbing smirk that tended to accompany even his...

The Innocence of Muslims protests: politics, religion and opportunism

  • September 22, 2012
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The impact of the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video continues to reverberate across the Muslim world.     Yesterday the Pakistan government’s declared a public holiday and a ‘Day of Love’ in honour of the Prophet Muhammed, which descended into violent chaos.

In various cities, demonstrators who apparently included numerous followers of extremist religious parties went on...

The Archbishop Removes the Emperors’ Clothes

  • September 03, 2012
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I’ve often wondered why it is that so many countries and institutions are prepared to pay so much money to hear Tony Blair’s observations on ‘faith’, ‘leadership’, ‘globalization’ and other subjects.

They clearly aren’t paying for insight or profundity, since Blair’s analyses of 21st century events, both in and out of office, are often strikingly superficial,...

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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