The commentators 26-08-14
...on the Middle East
When it comes to the Middle East, Britain is top of the international league of cant. For two decades the UK has been unable to make up its mind. Are we a safe haven for “freedom fighters”? Or do we throw resources at fighting terrorism? Do we back authoritarians who serve our pragmatic needs? Or do we fight the good fight to rid the world of dictators? The answer is yes to all of the above.
- John Kampfner, The Times
If a retired tyrant chose to write a guidebook entitled “How to be an Arab Dictator”, what would be the most important lesson? It might be summarised thus: “When you are in trouble, fan the flames of Islamist extremism so that your enemies will look even worse than you.” This time-honoured trick can work wonders for the beleaguered autocrat. If he pulls it off, some venerable figures in the West might even argue that he is just the man to quell the very conflagration that he helped to ignite. So it is with Bashar al-Assad, the chief arsonist of Syria, who is now being hailed as ideally qualified for the post of fireman.
- David Blair, Daily Telegraph
The cold war spawned an entire genre of novels and films glamorised spies as the frontline soldiers of their day, and we were scandalised by the “deep state” only when some of our agents turned out to be working for the other side. The greatest threat to UK security is the fraying of this consensus. The result is a moral panic among elites, who by definition are small in number but often decisively influential.
- Janan Ganesh, Financial Times
This has been the summer of appalling images and terrifying conflict, but the context in which a Prime Minister takes decisions about going to war is much healthier. The burden of proof is on those that want to intervene as much as those who are opposed. Strong leadership no longer means sending our boys to war with fingers crossed and without reflecting deeply on what might follow
- Steve Richards, The Independent
How many times have we seen young Asian men with backpacks pass seamlessly through security while Howard and Hilda from Hemel Hempstead are forced to stand and watch as the contents of their hand-luggage are examined with forensic precision?
- Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail
First World War centenary
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