Many tragedies make a disaster

An old man told me when fighting broke out in Gaza last summer: “the international community made huge mistakes back in 1948, when Israel was created, and that’s why they’re fighting in endless loops now.” I didn’t know much about the origins of the conflict, so I believed him, on the basis that he was […]

The borderland’s borders

So, as I think I mentioned in the first post of the series on Ukraine, Ukraine as it is today has not been a sovereign state for very long. I’ve found this great list of maps that shows how the borders were laid out from 1400 AD. Please go ahead and study it for a […]

Then what are we fighting for?

The title above is a quote by Winston Churchill. Supposedly, it’s what he answered when he was asked to cut arts and culture budgets in light of the expensive war he was fighting. I think it befits the current hysteria about young people who grew up in the west joining Islamic State (IS) even better.

Iranian passengers

The tragedy of the Malaysia Airlines airplane that was shot down on July 17th seems unique in its kind. But it wasn’t the first time a passenger aircraft became involved in a war. In 1988 an Iranian airbus was shot down by the USS Vincennes, a ship that was in the strait of Hormuz to […]

Early Glory

The beginnings of human settlement in Ukraine are quite fascinating. The country has rich farmland and other natural resources, and was much contested by warring nomadic tribes, the Greeks and those coming in the Great Migration of Peoples. We don’t know much about this era, unfortunately, because there are very few primary records. The Scythians, […]

I spy

It’s ridiculously easy to spy on someone. And cheap. Sure, the NSA post 9/11 are very well off, spying for them doesn’t have to be cheap. But the waiters enlisted by someone unknown in Poland, to spy on the country’s elite in their fav restaurants and bars? As listening in becomes easier and cheaper, should […]

The Dark Side

The internet is a terrible thing. No, just kidding, I love it and couldn’t do without it. But this weeks’ trio of international newsmagazines does raise some sticky issues about the dark side of the web. Teenagers in America (and presumably elsewhere) are finding new ways to be evil to each other on the internet. Bullying […]

The inevitable struggle?

The article in last week’s Time magazine was quite certain of it. Iraq’s ISIS conflict was an ongoing thing between Sunni and Shi’i factions in the Islamic world. An inevitable struggle that the US and the West should never have meddled with. But is it?The evidence for that conclusion appears to be sound. Under Sunni leader […]

Gordian Knot

Iraq is the one thing binding our trio this week. They each choose different ways to disentangle the gordian knot that Iraq represents (in close collaboration with other countries in the region). But it’s not easy to even clarify the ISIS phenomenon. German Der Spiegel focusses on the leading man of the terror organization ISIS, […]

Peacemakers – Margaret MacMillan

I’ve been warned against writing reviews that are too rave. A reviewer should be stern, fair, but critical. Trouble is, I rarely finish a book I don’t like. And I happen to think Peacemakers by Margaret MacMillan is absolutely brilliant. I’ve been sitting here, trying to think of what might be a credible bit of […]