David Selbourne says that George Bush is losing the war in Iraq as surely as George III lost the war against the American colonists — and that the US imperium has entered on its decline after only six decadesWith both houses of the US Congress set to maintain their challenge to President Bush’s conduct of the conflict in Iraq — and being accused in turn of ‘meddling in military strategy’ and of wanting to ‘set a date for surrender’ — America’s problems in its so-called ‘war on terror’ are deepening.
A taxi driver in Mexico City, who in my presence had just paid la mordida (the bite) to a traffic cop, taught me some lines by the 17th-century Creole nun and poetess, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz: O who is more to blame, He who sins for pay Or he who pays for sin? The application of this particular moral conundrum to the recent events in our own country is all too obvious. But whatever answer you may give to it, one thing seems indisputable: Britain has been shown in the past couple of weeks, quite accurately, to be a country of very slight account, with a population increasingly unable to distinguish the trivial from the important and the virtual from the real, led by a man of the most frivolous earnestness who for many years has been given to gushes of cheap moral enthusiasm (cheap, that is, for him, not for others who have to pay for it).
New YorkAs I ascend the solemn steps of Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library, a Parthenon transplanted to Broadway, the early spring snow crunches underfoot and the woes of Africa and the developing world seem very distant. Yet that is what I am here to discuss with Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the university’s Earth Institute and this year’s Reith Lecturer.For his five Radio 4 programmes, the first of which was broadcast this week, Sachs has chosen the title ‘Bursting at the Seams’, which is how he sees the 21st-century world and its afflictions: extreme poverty, environmental crisis, terrorism, disease, bad governance.
In guessing at the shape of Gordon Brown’s premiership, we have to ignore two groups. First, there are the idolaters, the inner clique that believes, really believes, that application of the Brown intellect to the social and foreign policy problems facing Britain will cause those problems to crumble under the pounding of that clunking fist. More of what has been on offer from No. 11 is all that is needed at No.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has suggested that the Church of England has become obsessed by homosexuals. His implication seems to be that Jesus Christ didn’t go on about them too much and so, really, neither should we. The term ‘obsessed’ is a strong one, but I think justified. If Dr Sentamu had been less tactful, he might have suggested that one half of the Church of England clergy believes homosexuals will burn forever in the fires of Hell and wishes fervently to be on hand in order to help poke down the sodomites with those famous pitchforks, while the other half is more camp than Brownsea Island.