Washington insiders on America’s first coupleWhen you enter the offices of the Great and the Good in Washington — or even the Not so Great and Not so Good — you always find an Ego Wall. Senator Trufflebacker’s Ego Wall will have photographs of himself at Nasa with the astronauts, a signed photograph with President Ronald Reagan and perhaps a framed pen used by President Bush to sign the bill authorising Senator Trufflebacker to give millions of taxpayers’ dollars to the corn farmers in his native state.
The phrase ‘think global, act local’ originated in the environmental movement. It can be a glib substitute for serious attention to large problems. But it can also be a telling rejoinder to the temptations of top-down, big-government solutions. I believe it is relevant to our challenge in Afghanistan.The potential problems emanating from that country are global in scope. Afghanistan is at the centre of international terrorism and the drugs trade.
There is little doubt, as Matthew d’Ancona and others have pointed out, that Gordon Brown is secure in the thought that he has established himself as what is called these days a ‘change agent’, cutting the ground out from Tory cries that ‘It’s time for a change.’ If you want change, go for the experienced clunking fist rather that the PR tyro.Unfortunately, not all change is in Britain’s interest.
It took some of our farmers less than 24 hours after the first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) last week to demand an immediate and comprehensive culling of Britain’s ramblers, dogs, badgers, Defra vets, tourists, van drivers, biochemists, etc etc. It is not enough that we should subsidise our farmers once over; when misfortune occurs we should then further compensate them — and suffer in silence as they demand that footpaths be closed, wildlife exterminated and so on.
Sixteen years ago I got together with a group of like-minded friends and started a magazine called The Modern Review. Its premise was that popular culture is as worthy of serious critical attention as high culture and, to that end, we commissioned intellectuals and academics to write about the likes of Madonna and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Believe it or not, this was a fairly radical idea back in 1991 — though not a wholly original one — and the magazine caused quite a stir.
The West’s new greenness conceals a giant protectionist racketOn 27 September, President George W. Bush will finally come in from the cold over global warming. On that day he will host a conference in Washington to be attended by what he has defined as the world’s 15 most polluting nations. He intends, for the first time, to commit the United States to slashing its carbon emissions.That, anyway, is the positive spin.
Deep in a remote valley on the edge of the Black Mountains sits one of the last great witnesses of the 20th century. Lady Mary Clive, who turns 100 on 23 August, shook Kitchener’s hand before the first world war, and heard first-hand accounts of the 1916 Dublin Easter Uprising hours after it happened.During the 1926 General Strike she served tea to lorry drivers in the same year that she was presented to George V as a debutante.