In 2002, a few months before the invasion of Iraq, I was invited to speak at the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy in Houston, Texas. I had a meeting with Baker, one of America’s best post-1945 secretaries of state, who served under his friend George H.W. Bush. Together, they drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991.Jim Baker is an unsentimental politician from the realist school of American foreign policy.
The final collapse of the Gaddafi regime is being hailed by Democrats as a triumph for the slowly-but-surely approach of the Obama administration, whereas it is anything but. In fact, it is further indication that we are moving towards, as the title of Fareed Zakaria’s latest book puts it, The Post-American World.The final collapse of the Gaddafi regime is being hailed by Democrats as a triumph for the slowly-but-surely approach of the Obama administration, whereas it is anything but.
The question for Libyans, as they take their first momentous steps into the post-Gaddafi era, is whether they can now build a government and country worthy of their heroic struggle against one of the world’s worst tyrants.For decades, conventional thinking about Arab nations, especially among the experts, argued that they were best ruled by ‘strongmen’, a western euphemism for pro-western dictators such as the deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his former counterpart in Tunisia Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
On a walking holiday in France a couple of weeks ago, I was making my way along the ridge that forms the very edge of the plateau of the Vercors when I heard a whooshing, rushing sound behind me that made me jump. When I turned, I jumped again, for there, less than 100 yards away and level with me, was a glider sailing through the sky, so close that I could see the pilot’s face as he gracefully rode the thermals that rose from the valley bottom, a thousand feet below.
‘Hi, this is Mr Pretext from mobile phone activations. Our systems are down and I need you to bring up a customer’s mobile account for me please.’ I must have repeated this lie thousands of times in the past 20 years. It helped me gain access to information — criminal records, social security numbers, phone logs — that I would then hand on to all sorts of clients: journalists, insurers, cuckolded husbands and even policemen.
The Front National leader is keen to sound off on the EU, immigration and capitalism – but not on her party’s Vichy linksThere’s no mistaking the Front National’s headquarters in the western Parisian suburb of Nanterre. Outside the entrance stands a martial statue of a Joan of Arc in full body armour. Inside there is a garish, gigantic plastic coq gaulois. Further inside sits the party’s leader, Marine Le Pen, a handsome 42-year-old blonde in heels, tailored jeans, frilly blouse and no make-up.
It’s time to stop separating psychiatry and neurologyIn 1987, I went to work as a trainee psychiatrist at the National Hospital for Neurology in Queen’s Square in London. One of my jobs was to see a group of patients who were not popular with the neurologists who ran the place. The patients had symptoms that might have had a neurological explanation — muscle pain, inability to walk, being unable to think clearly, feeling exhausted after the most minimal physical or mental exertion — yet the neurologists thought that they were at best suffering from depression or at worst swinging the lead.
•••After a week in the jungle, it is perfectly clear to me that in any contest for creepy-crawly capital of the world, Borneo would be right up there with no questions asked. They tell you about the mosquitoes. What they don’t tell you about are the leeches, which are everywhere. The ordinary brown kind lie in wait on the path, rearing up like two-inch mini-Godzillas full of gangster attitude and the will to win.