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The pretend war: bombing Isil won’t solve the problem

[audioplayer src=”http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/thegreatfakewar/media.mp3″ title=”Andrew J. Bacevich and Con Coughlin discuss the West’s war with Isis” startat=35] Listen [/audioplayer]Not so long ago, David Cameron declared that he was not some ‘naive neocon who thinks you can drop democracy out of an aeroplane at 40,000 feet’. Just a few weeks after making that speech, Cameron authorised UK forces


I’ll willingly admit that the moors of south-west England are not my natural territory. Mention the word ‘Dartmoor’ and my immediate thoughts are of scruffy, sturdy ponies and a giant bog. But then I boarded a train to Exeter to spend two days crossing said bog on horseback, and my whole perception changed. Yes, there

Corbyn’s defence

What strange people we Brits are. We spend years moaning that our politicians are cynical opportunists who don’t stand for anything. Then along comes an opposition leader who has principles — and appears to stick by them even when it makes him unpopular — and he is dismissed as a joke. Jeremy Corbyn has been

What Muslims think

Do you have sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria? It’s a hard question to answer: perhaps you’d wonder who the ‘fighters’ were. Or whether the ‘young Muslims’ were 14-year-old girls, groomed by fanatics to be jihadi brides. But if you answer ‘yes’, you may be surprised to find

How hard should we fight Black Friday?

The veneer of civilisation is easily cracked, as anyone who has followed Donald Trump’s Twitter feed will know. This Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the point of which is no longer clear, there will be riots in shops across the globe, as people fight over discounted products they do not need or even want. The

Sir Ian Botham is a hero – and a fool

In 1981, when I was ten and Ian Botham was 26, I thought he was God. Now, the week after Botham turned 60, the 44-year-old me thinks he’s an arse. And that makes me sad. The world is a simple place when you’re ten. There are heroes and villains, victories and defeats. The very best victories

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Join the preservation society… drink fortified wine

The sherry industry always used to admit that 75 per cent of its UK sales occurred in the weeks before Christmas. A large proportion of this was to teetotallers, who needed something to offer the family, or the vicar, or Father Christmas, or whoever happened to drop by over the holidays and was in need of

The office party should not be hard work

Is anything worse than the office Christmas party? It is almost always a horror show. Colleagues who are cheerful all year round turn into angry drunks. Usually benign bosses become second-rate pimps. The interesting become boring and the boring become interminable. The average office Christmas do tends to leave you wishing you didn’t have to

English Cooking: Discover the true value of pie

We all know what we think of as the great English Christmas lunch/dinner — turkey (originally from America) or goose (a worldwide bird, first domesticated in Ancient Egypt), Brussels sprouts (from Rome via Belgium), potatoes (also from the Americas). So, in fact, there is no such thing as a great English feast. Or is there? While

Cocktails: Talking ’bout milk and alcohol

A few years ago, I came across an interview with an illustrious French chef who had made his home in Britain. I’ve forgotten which chef, but I do remember him going to some lengths to impress on us rosbifs just how lucky we are with our dairy cows. When he moved here, he was astonished

The perfect Christmas hamper

Savoury Rich olives salted à la Grecque with herbs Provence Waitrose family hamper: Not Provencal or Greek but Moroccan, these black Beldi olives, sprinkled with dried herbs, are plump, soft and not too salty. — Clare Asquith Mini crocq salami bites Harrods Montpelier hamper: Little parcels of meaty joy to go with cheese and wine.

Whisky: A new star in the East to rival Scotch whisky

There’s a dirty Scottish secret. Nothing to do with the price of Brent crude, or who votes for Nicola: it’s that our global triumph, whisky, is now done rather brilliantly by others. Your reviewer is no bigot. I have gurgled and gargled Canadian, Swedish, Welsh and American whisky. These days, winter isn’t winter without Woodford

A cure for Christmas: the pleasure (and perils) of preserves

My family knows that once the flaming pudding is on the table, late on Christmas Day, all meals will be picnics. Bar a few potatoes flung into the oven to bake, all cooking stops and eating becomes a forage into a squirrelled hoard of treats: the jars, tins, balsawood boxes and less pretty but functional

Cider: How I made my own pear cider: it’s called Fred’s Perry

When we moved into the new house, we felt lucky to have a pear tree in our garden. How grown up, we thought. Then September came and the tree started raining fruit. Masses of fruit. Our green and pleasant lawn transformed into a carpet of greeny-yellowy-brown pears, which squelched gruesomely underfoot. I invited my children

Celebrations: Christmas is always a blast at our house

I’m a real sucker for Christmas. I still have home-made decorations, angels and hanging ornaments made by the children 35 years ago. Our old wheelbarrow, rusted and full of holes, nonetheless gets a coat of red paint each year to turn it into Father Christmas’s cart. (The reindeer that pulls it is a rocking horse

Social Media: Enjoy the food, not the Twitter feed

Sriracha, for the uninitiated, is a chilli sauce, thicker and sweeter than Tabasco, with a garlicky tang. They eat it in Thailand and Vietnam, though the world’s top brand is made in California with a distinctive rooster on the bottle. Once you have Sriracha in the fridge, you find yourself adding it to many ad