It’s often said that the Trump administration is ‘isolationist’. This is not true. In fact, we are now witnessing a dramatic escalation in the militarisation of US foreign policy in the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan. This has not been announced but it is happening, and much of it without consultation with Nato or other key allies, or any debate in Congress or the media.
A few weeks ago, US aircraft carried out over 30 air strikes against Islamic militants in Yemen — almost the same as the number carried out there all last year.
All politicians wear masks. Donald Trump’s favourite is that of Maximum Leader. It was on display during this past week. ‘If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,’ he said at the weekend, ahead of his meeting with Xi Jinping — a throwaway comment that could end up causing mayhem in the Far East. Next, his reaction to news of a chemical bombing in Syria. Trump blamed the atrocity on his predecessor’s ‘weakness and irresolution’, suggesting that he is keen to show the world what strength and resolve look like.
On several foreign policy issues, Donald Trump has toned down the campaign rhetoric now that he is in office. His administration still has concerns about the Iran nuclear deal, but it is backing away from the idea of simply ripping it up or unilaterally rewriting it. On the European Union, he is calming down too; his White House no longer says Brexit marks the beginning of the end of the European project.
Why don’t tall people get the same sympathy as short people? Everyone feels sorry for minnows, cutting them slack when they talk loudly in meetings or get themselves elected Speaker of the House of Commons. But tall people are seen as life’s victors; the ones you want to be, the ones who get everything their own way. It just isn’t the case.
I’m not actually that tall — 6ft 1in — but even I encounter problems.
We never loved each other, Ken Livingstone and I. We first clashed in public more than a decade ago, and have enjoyed castigating each other ever since. But now that he has been suspended from the Labour party for a second year in a row, I come not to bury him but to praise him. For there is something valorous, even glorious, about his downfall.
It was the MP for Bradford West who triggered his demise.
In response to the Westminster attack, a 100-strong new counter-extremism taskforce has been announced to deal with the terrorist threat in prisons. I’m taking some credit for this badly needed focus. In the autumn of 2015, the then Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, asked me to lead an independent review of the threat posed by Islamist extremism in prisons, the probation service and the youth justice system.
Marmalade’s had a rough old time of it lately. A recent report in the Telegraph declared it is dying out; that only oldies are buying it because millennials can’t handle ‘bits’ in spreads. Well, excuse me, but I direct you to this year’s World Marmalade Awards, held a few weeks ago in a big Georgian house called Dalemain just outside Penrith, which attracted nearly 2,000 homemade jars from around the globe.