The Week

Leading article

The spying game | 8 March 2018

The apparent chemical attack on a former Russian double-agent and his daughter in an English cathedral city could be straight from a cold war thriller. Unfortunately, though, the case is not going to be solved in 500 pages — nor will it be solved by July, when the Foreign Secretary has threatened to withdraw a

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week | 8 March 2018

Home Sergei Skripal, aged 66, and his daughter Yulia were found in a state of collapse on a bench outside a shopping centre in Salisbury. Mr Skripal, a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed by Russia in 2006 on charges of giving secrets to MI6; he was deported in a swap of spies in


Diary – 8 March 2018

At the BBC early doors for the Today programme, to preview Corbyn’s speech advocating membership of a customs union. I suggest that ‘this is something Remainers can get behind’, but come off air to a torrent of denialism and abuse on Twitter. In a parallel universe, the people who feel existentially destroyed by being halfway

Ancient and modern

The goods of war

The presenters of the BBC 2 programme on civilisations seem unable to decide what civilisation is. Socrates would therefore wonder how they could make a programme about it. Still, that’s academe for you. Let the Romans help out. First, the root of ‘civilisation’ is Latin civis, ‘citizen’. That implies a law-bound society. Secondly, in his


Letters | 8 March 2018

Pipeline politics Sir: In his article ‘Putin’s gamble’ (3 March), Paul Wood quite rightly mentions that one of the key reasons why Russia played hardball in Syria was Assad’s willingness to block the efforts of Qatar to build a natural gas pipeline through the country to supply Europe. This would have undermined Russia’s market power in