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The scramble for the seas

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

Obama is in hock to the hawks

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

Do you want someone like you in charge?

Why must government be ‘representative’, asks Carol Sarler. It makes no sense. We must fight back against this pernicious new orthodoxy Only 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

Is monarchy the answer in the Middle East?

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

A brave new Germany

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 lifted I’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.

Misogyny is not just for men

‘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,

We should all be free to call each other ‘coconut’

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.