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Vlad the Invader: Putin is looking to rebuild Russia’s empire

‘War’, in Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz’s most famous dictum, ‘is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.’ A generation of Democrats — the American variety, but also European Christian and Social Democrats — have sought to ignore that truth. Appalled by the violence of war, they have vainly

Has Putin lost the plot?

Sitting alone at the end of an absurdly long table or marooned behind a vast desk in a palatial hall, Vladimir Putin’s idea of social distancing has gone beyond the paranoid and into the realm of the deranged. His distance from reason and reality seems to have gone the same way. In little more than

Why work from home when you can work from paradise?

 Colombo If I lift my eyes from my laptop, I can stare across my hotel’s rooftop infinity pool to the soft tropical blues of the Laccadive Sea. In a minute I might order another one of those excellent Sri Lankan crab curries. And another chilled Lion lager. Meanwhile the weather app on my phone tells

Breathe easy: how respiratory viruses evolve to become milder

The Queen has suffered ‘mild, cold-like symptoms’ from her Covid-19 infection, according to Buckingham Palace. The wording reminds us that, except in the very vulnerable, the common cold is always and everywhere a mild disease. There are 200 kinds of virus that cause colds and they hardly ever debilitate healthy people, let alone kill them.

Why men of a certain age love to get naked

Something very strange happens to men as they get older: they like to go nude. I don’t mean they become practising nudists who seek out and enjoy the company of others of their kind. But unlike most younger men, they feel no embarrassment or regret at being seen naked. Consider the recent battle between one

The fall guy: Tom Hayes, Libor and a miscarriage of justice

In August 2015, Tom Hayes, then aged 34, was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment after being found guilty on eight charges of conspiracy to commit fraud when working as a yen derivatives trader in Tokyo. Hayes was alleged by the Serious Fraud Office to be the grand ‘ringmaster’ of a group of traders who sought

Why does Macron keep meddling in international crises?

Just two months from the presidential elections, Emmanuel Macron’s self-belief and risk-taking — not to mention setbacks — seem to know few bounds. And no more so than in foreign affairs. Following the French President’s telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin over Ukraine on 20 February, the Elysée triumphantly announced that a Biden-Putin summit was agreed

The delicate business of writing poetry

Living, as Clive James put it, under a life sentence, and having refused chemotherapy, I find I respond to the time issue in contradictory ways. On the one hand, I read avidly, almost as if I’ll be tested at some later date. I am morbidly well-informed on current affairs, the status of the old white

Notes on...

How sausage dogs were weaponised in the war

Short of leg but big on personality, the eccentrically shaped dachshund is one of Britain’s most beloved pets. Originally known as the ‘dachs kriecher’ (badger crawler) or ‘dachs krieger’ (badger warrior), dachshunds as we know them today can be traced back to 15th-century Germany where they were bred primarily for hunting. With extended, sausage-shaped body,