United states

The death of royalty

The cohorts of Hamas have invaded my neighbourhood. I was walking my dog, Maxi, in the afterglow of a shower that had lit the pavements with a pearlescence you normally see only in the piazzas of Syracuse, when I paused to look at the posters of kidnapped Israelis that someone had hung opposite Gail’s. I was thinking that I should have brought flowers, when they were upon us. Two women, their faces slack with the stupidity of hate, started tearing at the sad tributes with their carmine fingernails, screaming obscenities about Israel and the Jews. I didn’t know what the etiquette was on occasions like these, so I picked up

The glory of Paris has long past

Gstaad A reader’s inquiry as to why I think Paris belongs to yesterday (12 August) has me remembering times past. When did the party end? According to many night owls it was when the ‘Queen of the Night’, Regine, shut down her club New Jimmy’z and moved to London in the 1970s, where she flopped. Others believe it was ‘les événements de soixante-huit’, the student-worker revolt against De Gaulle that did Paris in. Certainly, any way one looks at it, the events of 1968 did signal that the party was over; and it has stayed over ever since. Mind you, the high jinks had been waning for some time. I

The death of fair play

New York He’s oilier than Molière’s Tartuffe but gets away with more. His latest move involves the martial art of jiu-jitsu, where he managed to get a referee to reverse his decision. I’ve been competing in martial arts for close to 60 years now, and have rarely, in fact never, witnessed a ref reverse his or her decision. But I’m no bad loser like Zuckerberg. Some of you old-timers may even remember something called fair play. Bad calls are inevitable in sport, and one is used to taking the bad ones with the good ones because in the end they all even out. Facebook’s honcho ended up a multibillionaire under

The wisdom of Rod Liddle

New York At a chic dinner party for some very beautiful women, your correspondent shocked the attendees by quoting an even greater writer than the greatest Greek writer since Homer – Rod Liddle – and his definition of why royalty matters: because it is ‘anachronistic and undemocratic’. Hear, Hear! A particularly attractive guest, Alissa – on a par with Lily James – took me aside and asked me if I really believed what the greatest writer ever, Rod Liddle, had written and I had just quoted. She also asked whom I had in mind as the greatest Greek writer since Homer, and I answered: ‘Moi.’ I then sat down and

Will Lula’s Brazil turn away from the West?

Joe Biden has promised to bring Brazil and America closer together. ‘Both of our democracies have been tested of late’, Biden told reporters last week as he met with president Lula da Silva for the first time. The two leaders were on the ‘same page’, Biden said. But that feeling isn’t entirely mutual. When Lula was sworn in as president on New Year’s Day, he promised ‘dialogue, multilateralism and multipolarity’, and there’s good reason to believe he’ll deliver it. In Lula’s first two terms, he was key to founding the Brics, an economic grouping with Russia, India, China and South Africa. In the post-Cold War era, Brics was important in

The curse of the jet-ski

An F. Scott Fitzgerald biographer by the name of David S. Brown refers to America’s promotion of deviancy (my words) as ‘the great post-Appomattox launch toward materialism’. I liked that line and was thinking about it as I left the boat in the early morning and walked into an almost perfect Greek village square for a coffee. There were some French people blabbing away with their usual hand gestures, Greeks discussing politics at high volume, and then an American couple, both quite attractive, each with a Mac in front of them and absolutely impervious to anyone or anything in their immediate surroundings. Talk about a launch towards materialism. The two

The healing power of the Hamptons

Southampton, Long Island These are peripatetic times for the poor little Greek boy, up to the Hamptons for some sun-seeking among Wasp types, and then down to the nation’s capital for the memorial service of that wonderful humorist P.J. O’Rourke. By all means take the following with a grain of salt, but even 800 million years ago, when only micro-organisms slithered around the beaches, belonging to a private club was all-important, especially in the Hamptons. Never have I seen more chest-thumping, bandy-legged, bearded louts trash-talking as they pollute the beaches in this beautiful town. Southampton was once a luminous little village that served as a seaside refuge for New York’s

The folly of Nato enlargement

If western universities were not brimming with leftist professors, the present situation in Ukraine would surprise no one. History would have taught us that the complete defeat of Nazi Germany was bound to clear the way for Soviet Russia’s domination of the Eurasian continent, although not going for total victory would hardly have been a vote-getter back in 1945. Gen. George Patton, for one, wanted to fight the bear right there and then, but cooler heads prevailed. The H-bomb, needless to say, has encouraged aggressive types to wage war knowing full well that opponents might feel reluctant to commit suicide. In fact, the bomb has increased limited wars, as they

The crazy, corrupt world of the Beijing Olympics

Gstaad OK sport fans, have you been enjoying the concentration camp Olympics? I’m sure the Uighurs in the Chinese gulag are riveted, especially watching the downhill, the trouble being that most of the one million Muslim prisoners have been issued with Equatorial Guinea-made TV sets, apparatuses that only show crocodiles swallowing humans. Joe Biden, in the meantime, has steered clear of the Games and has sent a message via pigeon to the Chinese: ‘You’re way out of line as far as King Kong is concerned and unless you sign the Schleswig-Holstein agreement do not expect any Americans to attend the première of Madame Butterfly.’ Good for you, Joe, you’ve finally

The Kushner conundrum

Gstaad I have two special girlfriends, Lynne and Fiona, the ladies who guard The Spectator’s entrance against the outraged #MeToo gels and woke lackeys who occasionally take umbrage against the poor little Greek boy’s scribbling. My guardian angels recently sent me some personal letters posted long ago, which I will eventually answer, especially one from Lady Mary Gaye Curzon, a very old friend, whose beautiful daughter Cressida — a Spectator Notebook contributor — dodged a bullet when Harry Halfwit went Hollywood. Although months in arrears, please accept my apologies, Helen Holland, Mary Ruskin and Anthony Johnson; such are the joys of the mail during and after a pandemic. Last week

Boris is a mini-Biden

It’s been said far too many times that Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have a lot in common. Trump himself called the Prime Minister ‘Britain Trump’ – to Donald’s mind, the greatest compliment any man could give. Others use the Trump-Boris analogy to pour scorn. French newspapers have called him ‘mini-Trump’. Or ‘Trump with a thesaurus,’ is how Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister who now works for Facebook, put it. To most international media, Brexit and Trump, and therefore Boris and Trump, were part of the same horrid phenomenon. Both men were called populists, nationalists, demagogues, liars – yet they kept winning. But now Trump is gone and

The real reason France was excluded from Aukus

The fallout from Australia’s cancellation of its submarine contract with France and the new trilateral Indo-Pacific security pact between Australia, the US and the UK continues. France has recalled its ambassadors from Canberra and Washington (though significantly not from London) for ‘immediate consultations’; the well-worn diplomatic gesture of discontent. This is the first occasion ever in over two centuries of Franco-American friendship.  Last night in another outburst of petulance, the French embassy in Washington cancelled the gala to celebrate Franco-American friendship. The festivities were to mark the 240th anniversary of the crucial Battle of the Capes when the French navy defeated its British counterpart in defence of American independence.  Compared

Australia and the new special relationship

The awkwardly-named AUKUS agreement reflects Washington’s escalating concern about China’s dominance in the Indo-Pacific. It signals London’s determination to be more, not less, involved in the global community after Brexit and the retreat from Afghanistan. Ultimately, however, this deal is about Australia. Few countries are as pivotal to regional security yet so poorly understood as such, at home and abroad, among commentators, politicians and policymakers. Australia’s standing in security terms is intimately linked to its alliance with the United States, but this relationship is not as one directional as some Australian critics believe. In defence and global security terms, Australia is a country with something to offer — quite a

I loved prison

Memories for me are like beautifully edited copy: all cleaned up and retaining only the good parts. The wife tells me that I’m quite lucky in choosing to remember just pleasant things, and of course I agree. Actually it’s not really a choice; it is almost automatic. Bad things are tucked away immediately, never to return. I suppose many idiots enjoy such forgetfulness, but then I’d rather be called an idiot than a surly grouch, complaining and finding fault with everything and everyone. Needless to say, I cannot forget Pentonville. Looking back, I recall only fun times among my fellow convicts. There was Warren, the large black man whose appeal

The folly of American imperialism

Gstaad Mercedes Benz heir Mick Flick and I have been friends for more than half a century. We both married Schoenburgs, both like the odd drink, both adore the fair sex, and we are now both candidates for a visit from the man in the white suit, yours truly first in line. Mick gave a wonderful dinner the other evening for around 30 of us. It was in his upper chalet, the one that’s half art gallery and half live-in space. He also has a lower chalet for his two sons and daughter. The dinner was seated and the wine was Latour. I think I had two bottles before the

How the fight against terror in Afghanistan will change

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the West entered a new age: it was the era of the ‘shadow war’, in which American – and Western – might was ranged at preventing the export of terrorism from the Middle East. That was, of course, before the futile exercise of ‘nation building’ in Afghanistan and Iraq. Twenty years on, we are back where we started: Afghanistan is in the grip of a radical Islamist regime. Again it is likely to become a launch pad for Al Qaeda (and Isis) attacks in Europe and America. So how can the West defend itself from the threat? Amidst the debacle of the hasty

Iran is an immediate winner of the Taliban takeover

A staple of observing politics is watching rhetoric curdle into reality. Operation Enduring Freedom, thought up and slapped together in the wake of 9/11, was supposed to put down the ‘global terror threat’ and bring freedom to the subjugated peoples of Afghanistan and the Middle East. It ended last week with images of despairing Afghans tumbling to their deaths from the undercarriages of fleeing US planes. The rights and wrongs of leaving are sundering US foreign policy elites, but leaving the United States is most certainly doing. So what next? When the United States high-tails it out of the region you can be sure that everyone around is watching —

Boris Johnson’s G7 Afghanistan summit ends in failure

As expected, the emergency G7 leaders’ summit on Afghanistan has broken up without agreeing an extension to the 31 August deadline for evacuations from Kabul. Boris Johnson tried to put a positive spin on the virtual meeting, which he had convened, when he gave a pool clip after, saying the group had set a condition for the Taliban to ‘guarantee, right the way through, through August 31 and beyond, safe passage for those who want to come out’. He added that while some might not accept that, it was worth noting that ‘the G7 has very considerable leverage – economic, diplomatic and political’. But he conceded that the deadline extension

New York’s vaccine passport scheme could have a nasty side effect

The latest French export to the United States is a requirement that people show proof of vaccination to visit indoor bars, concert venues, restaurants and gyms. But will it work? On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City will be the first American metropolis to import the French health pass. Marketed like an upscale perk, the ‘Key to NYC Pass’ program will begin on 16 August and become mandatory on 13 September. De Blasio is doing his best to sell the pass as a carrot, rather than the stick it really is. But his rhetoric is still ominous. He said: ‘It is so important to make clear that

Why Haiti’s president was assassinated

There was a time when Haiti was at the centre of the New World. It was one of the richest islands on the globe, producing cane sugar for the sweet tooth of Europe. It cultivated coffee, cotton and rice, and it produced rum. The Pearl of the Antilles, the island stood at the gateway to all the resources of South and Central America. Mexico, with all its gold, lay just beyond Haiti’s northernmost cape. Great powers of the era — France, Britain, Germany, and the United States — vied for political and military control. Now Haiti is failed state. Failed by the West after centuries of violence and resource extraction and