Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Middle East Category

Response to Michael Neumann

  • April 15, 2012
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I hadn’t heard of the Canadian professor Michael Neumann until yesterday, when I discovered that he had called me ‘sleazy‘ because of an article I wrote on Syria  that was posted on the Stop the War UK website, which he claims makes me an ‘objective’ apologist for Assad.

Neumann’s piece is partly an impassioned call to arm the Syrian opposition, coupled with an angry and bitter assault on opponents of  foreign intervention/manipulation in Syria such as James Petras and John Pilger, who he claims have become   similarly ‘objective’ apologists for torture and...

In the garden of good and evil: the media and Syria

  • March 16, 2012
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Objective analysis of the brutal conflict in Syria has been generally conspicuous by its absence over the last 12 months, where the mainstream media has generally  followed the narratives propagated by their governments with all the independence and perspicacity of  trained seals.

One of the few exceptions is the political analyst and blogger Sharmine Narwani....

David and Barack trip the light fantastic

  • March 15, 2012
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It’s over, but only the hardest hearts could have remained unmoved at the sight of  the president of the world’s only superpower romancing our Tory PM.   Like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Camerobama only had eyes for each other as they skipped lightly across the diplomatic dancefloor in  the greatest piece of...

John McCain wants to bomb…again

  • March 06, 2012
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Republican Senator John McCain is one of those American politicians who rarely comes across a war he doesn’t like.   During a 2000 Republican debate,  he advocated a new variant on the Reagan Doctrine which he called ‘rogue state rollback’  and declared that if he were president

I would arm, train, equip, both from...

March 1979: the Politburo debates Afghanistan

  • March 03, 2012
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Recent events in Afghanistan have galvanised me into digging up my English-language transcript of the meeting of the Soviet Politburo meeting that took place on March 17, 1979 to discuss Deterioration of Conditions in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and Possible Responses From Our Side.

This 21-page transcript was once classified and only became available a...

Joseph Heller in Afghanistan

  • February 29, 2012
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You don”t need to be an expert on counterinsurgency to conclude that burning Korans is probably not the most efficacious method of winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan population.     And the fact that US soldiers have done this after more a decade in Afghanistan  is symptomatic of  a conflict that...

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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