Almost unnoticed, in May, during the first weeks of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a new era in man’s exploitation of the oceans began. The Chinese government lodged an application with the United Nations to mine for minerals on a ridge 1,700 metres down in the south-west Indian Ocean, outside any individual nation’s jurisdiction. It is the first application of its kind for mining in international waters, and so has potentially vast implications — for international law, for the price of metals, and for the marine environment.
At the turn of the 20th century, an army of half a million Tommies imposed Britain’s will on the Boers, yet this nominal victory served chiefly to accelerate the downward spiral of British power. Foolishly attempting to recover its imperial holdings in Indochina after the second world war, France succeeded only in showing how weak it had become. In 1979, the seemingly mighty Red Army marched to folly in Afghanistan; within a decade the Soviet Empire disintegrated.
Why must government be ‘representative’, asks Carol Sarler. It makes no sense. We must fight back against this pernicious new orthodoxyOnly a week ago, as Julia Gillard was sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia, the sheilahood could scarcely believe its luck. A woman, no less! And not just any woman, either: Miss Gillard ticked all the righteous boxes as an avowed feminist, a pro-choice campaigner and a proud member of Emily’s List, an organisation founded — there as here — to promote sex equality in all things, especially in governance.
The name Bernard Lewis provokes very different reactions in different people. For some he is the world’s foremost historian of Islam and the Middle East, the English academic who originally coined the term ‘clash of civilisations’ (as Samuel Huntingdon, who popularised it, freely acknowledged). For some he is a Princeton man, a neocon who celebrated his 90th birthday (four years ago) with Cheney and Kissinger; whose ‘Lewis Doctrine’ was said to have inspired the invasion of Iraq and botched the war on terror.
William Cook, a ‘closet Kraut’, grew up feeling ashamed of his country. This summer, during the World Cup, he finds that the stigma has finally liftedI’m standing in a noisy bar in south London, watching a World Cup match on a giant TV screen, hemmed in on all sides by happy, tipsy football fans. The place is packed, but no one seems to mind. There are lots more people outside, peering in through the windows, all desperate to see the game.
‘Was it Vauvenargues or Chamfort,’ asks Pierre Costals in Henri de Montherlant’s novel Pity for Women, ‘who said that one must choose between loving women and understanding them?’ Most men would rather love women than understand them, and most women would rather be loved than understood. Women particularly resent men taking a scalpel to dissect, let alone disparage, the feminine psyche, which makes it difficult for a man to write about misogyny; yet there are signs that it is on the rise and, since good relations between the sexes is so fundamental to human happiness, it is perhaps pertinent to ask why.
I asked my local greengrocer for a couple of blood oranges last weekend. They were to go with an orange cake I’d baked for some left-wing friends who were coming over — a nice left-wing cake, I thought. No flour or butter in it (both right-wing ingredients, historically), just ground almonds, eggs, sugar and oranges. A cake eaten in parts of Spain which were implacably opposed to the Falangists, and also enjoyed in Morocco which is, de facto, a left-wing place because it’s in Africa.