Notes From the Margins…
Posts Tagged Afghanistan
The Return of Saint Tony

The Return of Saint Tony

  • August 23, 2021
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It’s a truth not universally acknowledged in British politics, that if you have men like Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab in government, everyone who isn’t them can look good, or at least better,  by comparison.  In a (dis)United Kingdom sinking ever deeper into multiple crises of its own making, this tendency can make it difficult,...

Imperial Sunset on the Rocks Please

Imperial Sunset on the Rocks Please

  • August 18, 2021
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Some empires take a long time to die.  The Roman Empire was already in decline centuries before the final collapse of the Western Empire in c.376-476.   By the end of the seventeenth century the weaknesses of the Spanish/Hapsburg Empire that spanned Europe and Latin America from the late fifteenth century onwards were already apparent, but...

Complexities: Boko Haram

  • 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...

Talking to Terrorists…Again

Talking to Terrorists…Again

  • June 21, 2013
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In the same week that the Obama administration took another step towards another Middle Eastern ‘quagmire’, the US government quietly announced that it would begin negotiations with the Taliban.     Well sort of.    One senior US official was at pains to emphasize that these negotiations are likely to be ‘long, complex and messy’,...

Our Man in Kabul

Our Man in Kabul

  • April 30, 2013
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The New York Times and The Guardian both have stories on the secret payments made to the Hamid Karzai government in Afghanistan by the CIA and MI6.     The NYT came in first, with a report yesterday on how “wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have...

‘Islamism’ – friend and foe

  • July 27, 2012
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Last week the BBC’s Paul Wood introduced a group of armed Syrian rebels in Damascus as ‘Islamists.’   The label was not intended to be pejorative.   Wood clearly admired the young bearded fighters, who he presented as freedom fighters, heroically taking on  a tyrannical regime despite the huge disparity of weaponry...

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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