Freddy Gray

Ron DeSantis just isn’t presidential material

Sans Trump, the Republican presidential debates of 2023 have mostly been piddling contests in a shallow pool. We’ve seen nasty insults — most aimed at or directed by Vivek Ramaswamy — and that’s fun to watch. But you can catch those bits on social media and the rest hasn’t been worth tuning in for. Maybe the problem isn’t just the lack of the Big Orange on stage. Maybe it’s just that the TV debate format doesn’t really work in the internet age. It’s never a battle of compelling ideas. It’s a clash of off-putting egos, each looking to land the big viral moment. DeSantis is just hard to like: he

The remarkable life of Henry Kissinger

The next few weeks will be filled with remembrances, fulsome appreciations, and harsh criticism of Henry Alfred Kissinger, who died on Wednesday at 100. His prominence is well deserved. The only modern secretaries of state who rank with him are George C. Marshall and Dean Acheson, who constructed the architecture of Cold War containment in the late 1940s. Kissinger’s central achievement was updating that architecture to include China, less as an American ally than as a Russian adversary. Until the late 1960s, Washington and Beijing had seen each other as bitter foes, not only because they had fought each other in the Korean War but because they represented the era’s two

Argentina’s president is unlikely to trouble the Falklands

Javier Milei, Argentina’s anti-establishment, pro-dollarisation and pro-privatisation president, is already making a splash. Milei, who won a surprise victory in the country’s election on Sunday, said in his campaign that the future of the Falklands ‘cannot be ignored’. The islands, he said, must be returned to Argentina. It didn’t take long for Britain to hit back. ‘The Falkland Islands are British. That is non-negotiable and undeniable,’ defence secretary Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter/ X this morning. Brits – and Argentines – should brace themselves for much more of these bust ups now that Milei is in charge. But the future of the Falklands is likely to be far down the

Why isn’t Canada cracking down on this Indian student visa scam?

Canada’s rift with India continues. It’s been almost two months since Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau accused ‘agents of the government of India’ of assassinating Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Nijjar. The two countries have been in a diplomatic stand-off ever since, with trade talks suspended and Ottawa failing to provide any concrete proof behind its claim that Nijjar was killed under direction from Modi. But the possibility that Nijjar’s death was a result of gang activity between warring factions of criminal Sikh gang members in Canada has put a spotlight on the country’s growing Punjabi community and highlighted questions over Canada’s international student visa and immigration fraud. It’s no secret

Freddy Gray

Not even America’s legal system can stop Trump

‘I beseech you to control him if you can,’ Justice Arthur Engoron told Donald Trump’s lawyer in court yesterday. To which the only sensible reply is: ‘Good luck with that.’  Nobody can control, or stop, the 45th President – least of all, it seems, the legal system. The trials of Trump will drag on and on in the coming months, all sound and fury, signifying nothing. The Trump train will chug on towards the Republican nomination – and, perhaps, to the White House again.  The legal trials of Donald Trump will only help him politically ‘This is not a political rally,’ said Engoron, who himself seems to be enjoying the theatre a little

Next year’s US election promises a crisis

There’s only a year to go until the most complex and consequential US presidential election ever. Ukraine, the Middle East, geriatric candidates, big-name independents, the criminal charges against Trump, a new House speaker (who must ratify the outcome) who didn’t recognise Biden’s victory in 2020 – the complexity is staggering.  The two main candidates, Biden and Trump, are both unpopular. Biden’s approval rating stands (or rather, squats) at around 37 per cent. Polls indicate he is losing support among two traditional bastions of the Democratic party: African-Americans and young voters. Meanwhile Trump, who has still to secure the Republican nomination, lost the popular vote in his two presidential campaigns. In

Freddy Gray

Kamala Harris’s brain-dead AI plan

Try to think of leading names in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Kamala Harris is probably not the first that springs to mind. The woman can barely talk. But she is Vice President of the United States of America and as such she’s in London, about to give a speech ahead of Rishi Sunak’s big AI summit. Brace yourselves. Harris’s speeches often sound as if they had been scripted by an early or pre-intelligent incarnation of ChatGPT. But as sentient beings we can safely predict her gist. The advent of Artificial Intelligence brings many opportunities, Harris will say, but the technology must be carefully controlled to ensure it doesn’t become

Why are feminists like me being labelled ‘far right’?

In what would no doubt come as a shock to great feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft, Sylvia Pankhurst and Simone de Beauvoir, arguing for sexual equality today makes you ‘far right’ and a purveyor of ‘hate speech’. Forget Hitler, Mussolini, or even Enoch Powell. According to the London Public Library in Ontario, Canada, it’s people like me, defenders of women’s sex-based rights, who lean perilously close to the wrong end of the political spectrum. When I say ‘people like me’ I actually mean me. Back in May this year, I was invited by the Canadian Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship to give their annual public lecture. Traditionally, this is held

Svitlana Morenets

Will the new US Speaker spell trouble for aid to Ukraine?

For the past few weeks, the US House Speaker’s chair has sat empty. Kevin McCarthy was ousted from the position on 3 October amid accusations from some Republicans that he was colluding with Democrats in a ‘secret deal’ to assist Ukraine. While the position has been vacant, critical legislation, including aid for Ukraine, has not been able to pass. But with the election of Mike Johnson, an ally of Donald Trump who is known to be Ukraine-sceptic, US politicians may have chosen their stance on the conflict. This development follows a decline in support for aid to Ukraine among both Democratic and Republican voters. Republicans for Ukraine, an advocacy group seeking support

All is not lost for Argentina’s anarcho-capitalist presidential hopeful

Argentina’s presidential hopeful Javier Milei will have to wait to turn his country into an anarcho-capitalist anti-state where the peso is swapped for the dollar, the central bank ‘burned down’, and half the ministries torn up. Milei had been considered the frontrunner in Argentina’s presidential election, but he was pipped to the post in Sunday’s vote by centrist rival Sergio Massa, who received 36.6 per cent of votes to Milei’s 29.9 per cent. While Milei’s supporters are disappointed, all is not lost for the chainsaw-wielding climate change-sceptical, pro-life economist: a run-off showdown between Milei and Massa is set for 18 November. Whichever candidate picks up the 6.3 million votes of defeated

What liberal America gets wrong about Trump supporters

Hillary Clinton normally speaks in carefully crafted bromides, so when I read in the New York Post about her risqué suggestion during a televised interview with CNN that ‘maybe there needs to be a formal deprogramming of the cult members’ supporting Donald Trump, I took notice. Had the grimly platitudinous former secretary of state suddenly developed a sense of humour? Was she workshopping new material with a comedy coach? NAFTA really did win the White House for Trump, district by district, state be state When I watched her interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, however, I detected no irony whatsoever in Clinton’s face. Indeed, she was so straightforwardly monotone that I thought perhaps

Freddy Gray

How is Joe Biden handling the Israel-Palestine crisis?

27 min listen

This week Freddy speaks to Dennis Ross, former Middle East coordinator under President Clinton and current Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. They discuss Biden’s visit to Israel this week, how his policy towards the Middle East borrows from Trump and Obama, and how we can discern between the public posturing and private desires of Middle Eastern states. 


Biden struggles to speak aboard Air Force One

Is it ageist to suggest that an obviously frail 80-year-old might not be well suited to the task of resolving global conflicts? Even a man in his prime would struggle to fly from Washington to Israel, do a frantic day of talks, greet the suffering, make a speech and jet off again hours later to go back to leading the free world.  Joe Biden is not, to put it mildly, a man in his prime. The octogenarian Commander-in-Chief just about got through his duties in the Holy Land. He delivered a passable, albeit platitudinous speech about dealing with the pain caused by terrorism.  But then he reappeared in front of reporters

Freddy Gray

Joe Biden’s Middle East diplomacy is a wreck

Joe Biden prides himself on his decades of foreign-policy experience, his ability to talk tough yet be kind, and his talent for bringing opposing sides together. Touching down in Israel today, he gave Bibi Netanyahu a big hug – quite the gesture – and promptly told him he believed that ‘the other team’ – i.e. Hamas, not Israel – was responsible for the bomb that struck a hospital in Gaza last night, killing many of non-combatant Palestinians and inspiring another wave of anti-Israel protests. Biden will now set about trying to help release the hostages held by Hamas and persuading local powers to allow a secure flow of humanitarian aid

Biden failed on Iran

Did American failures contribute to Hamas’s war of terror – its unprovoked attack, its total surprise, its horrific butchering of innocent civilians simply because they are Jews? Yes, but a lesser one. The failures to discover the plans, deter the attack and, having failed at deterrence, to defeat it promptly are Israel’s. The secondary actor here is Iran, not the United States. It was the Islamic regime in Tehran that supplied its terror partner with funds, plans, intelligence and weapons. The basic mistake was a soft, accommodating policy toward Iran and its terrorist proxies Still, the US played a role – a combination of bumbling incompetence and fundamental policy errors

Freddy Gray

How are Democrats reacting to the war in Israel?

31 min listen

This week Freddy speaks to Andrew Cockburn, Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, about America’s response to the developments in the Middle East. On the podcast they discuss the ‘squad’ (a section of Democrats who have been making pro-Palestinian noises), how America and Israel’s surveillance system allowed the attack to happen, and the importance of the conflict ahead of next year’s presidential election.

The refreshing libertarianism of New Hampshire

Crossing a state line on one of the American interstate roads, drivers are normally greeted by a variety of signs. They may advertise the delights awaiting the visitor – ‘10,000 LAKES’ or ‘FAMOUS POTATOES’ plus instructions about local speed limits. And normally, as the coup de grâce, ‘BUCKLE UP’. Travelling north in New England on the I-95 and passing from Massachusetts into New Hampshire the message is more discreet. A small sign announces ‘Buckle up under 18. Common sense for all’. In other words, in New Hampshire, adults of voting age do not have to wear seat belts. It is the only state in the US where this is not

Could this former tantric sex coach become Argentina’s president?

One of Argentina’s presidential candidates is unlike the others. La Libertad Avanza’s Javier Milei whizzes past crowds shaking a chainsaw in the air and roaring his catchphrase ‘¡Viva la libertad, carajo!’, or ‘Long live freedom, goddamnit!’. In the run-up to the general election, on 22 October, this anarcho-capitalist libertarian has flipped from being a joker wild card – and something of a meme – to the front-runner. Milei, a pro-life, climate change-sceptical libertarian, sends a message of his intentions to chainsaw through the red tape of what he considers the most prolific ‘organised crime group’, otherwise known as the state. His chainsaw has become such a signature accessory that figurines have gone on sale of Milei

Freddy Gray

What’s going on in the Republican party?

23 min listen

Freddy speaks to Roger Kimball, editor of the New Criterion and columnist for The Spectator’s US edition. After Kevin McCarthy was ousted as speaker of the House this week, they discuss why the Republican party is such a mess. 

Freddy Gray

The Republican party is a mess

In comparison to the Republicans in the United States, the British Conservative party is a model of unity and discipline. In Manchester this week, for all the blather about Nigel Farage and ‘pandering’ to the far right, the grumbling about nanny-statism and HS2ing-to-nowhere, the Tories held themselves together.  Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, a small group of right-wing representatives in Congress managed to throw out their own House speaker, Kevin McCarthy. A motion for him to ‘vacate to chair’ was won 216 to 210. That’s never happened before.  The trigger for McCarthy’s removal was disgruntlement over the spending deal he struck with President Joe Biden in order to avoid a US