Paul Robinson

The generals must share the blame

It’s fashionable for military top brass to attack politicians when things go wrong. But, says Paul Robinson, many of the army’s problems are of their own making In recent years, failure to ‘support the troops’ has become the ultimate political sin. The Conservatives’ soon-to-be defence adviser, General Sir Richard Dannatt, blasted Brown a few weeks

A sense of proportion

The Israeli Defence Forces’ ethical standards are different from, and in some ways higher than, the British army’s, says Paul Robinson, but in the end the question is not whether IDF actions are moral, but whether they are wise This week David Cameron joined his shadow foreign secretary William Hague in denouncing elements of Israel’s

Putin plays the market

I don’t believe that I can be alone in having spent a Russian or Ukrainian winter with the windows of my room wide open. Many buildings in that part of the world are dreadfully overheated, for the simple reason that energy is so cheap. Soon, however, Ukrainians will have to learn to close their windows.

The return of White Russia

‘Unbelievable,’ the professor told me. It was hard to disagree. We had just laid flowers on the grave of the anti-communist Russian philosopher Ivan Alexandrovich Il’in. Just a short time ago, mere possession of one of Il’in’s books would have brought six years in prison. Now the Russian state has reburied the philosopher in Moscow

Are we wasting money on defence?

Backing the Americans in Iraq has not served the national interest, says Paul Robinson; we’d be more secure if we adopted a less interventionist foreign policy and reduced our military capacity Soldiers are not social workers. They fight and they kill — that is what they are trained to do. They are not trained to

Thought police

When the remaining flotsam of 20 or so Conservative MPs wash up on dry land after the next general election, they may do well to consider why it was that during this Parliament, every time the credibility of Prime Minister Tony Blair sank further into the depths, the credibility of their own party sank with

Identity crisis

Bossy-boots Blunkett’s plans must be resisted, says Paul Robinson, who has acquired five new cards in recent months, and it’s been a pain in the pocket for him I recently had my fingerprints taken for an identity card. If our autocratic Home Secretary, David Blunkett, gets his way, this will in the next decade or

Code comfort

The influential American journalist Robert Kaplan recently commented that the real shapers of his country’s foreign policy are junior and middle-ranking military officers. When an engineer captain in Afghanistan mobilises his men to de-mine a road, or a major in Baghdad oversees the training of competent new policemen, the ‘Global War on Terror’ (GWOT) moves

Sword of honour

If you are looking for some fun, and have a research grant to spend, try this. Visit an American university, bump into random students in the corridor and loudly call each one ‘asshole’. Then measure their reactions. This is what a team of psychologists did in a controlled experiment at the University of Michigan. The

Land of the free

Paul Robinson says we can learn a lot about decency and independence from plucky Canada You’ve probably heard that story about the Inuit having 50 words for snow? Well, the sign of a genuine Canadian is that he has 50 words for doughnut. When a glacial wind is howling through Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat

The people must decide their fate

In 1825 Russian Decembrist revolutionaries in St Petersburg tried to inspire the peasant masses with the slogan ‘Constantine i constitutsia’ (Constantine and a constitution) as they pressed for Tsar Nicholas I to abdicate in favour of his brother Constantine. Unfortunately, their pre-spin audience simply assumed that Constitutsia was Constantine’s wife, and failed to see the

A dodgy constitution

I once heard of an Ivy League professor who had written 50 constitutions. All of them collapsed, including the one for the college boat club. If that gentleman is not now advising the Convention on the Future of Europe, someone very like him surely is. On the opening day of the convention in March 2002,