Tarak Barkawi

  • Once again, the Emperor of the Hermit Kingdom - North Korea - is threatening nuclear war. Or so the media would have us believe.  The basic idea purveyed by the media and by US spokespersons is that oriental despotisms - as Iran and North Korea are regularly portrayed - cannot possibly be ...

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  • Strategy has an old fashioned, militaristic ring to it, like the Germans are about to invade. Security, by contrast, promises safety and succour, and projects an air of rational authority. It evokes our childhood stuffed animals.Security will keep the monsters away. So it seems a matter of common ...

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  • To listen to US and European officials, all is well with the Western project in Afghanistan. Absent awareness of the irony, President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron have announced that this project is in its “final phases”.“The trajectory we’ve set”, said an ...

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  • Book burning seems to be making history once again. The inadvertent and partial incineration of some Qurans by a US-Afghan labour detail at Bagram ignited a web of action, from Kabul to the media circuits of the Republican Party presidential primaries.Many lives were entangled, and some were ...

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  • What is the relationship between knowledge and power?When we think about this question, we normally assume that knowledge - that which we take to be “truth” - is separate from power. The problem is when “money” or “politics” influences knowledge. Such an ...

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  • On February 22, 1803, Colonel Edward Despard was hung and beheaded in London for organising a revolutionary conspiracy to overthrow King George III and establish a republic in Britain.Among the crowd of 20,000 in front of the gallows was Colonel Despard’s wife and partner in conspiracy, ...

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  • There are three main frames people use to understand why the world is the way it is. Each has truth in it, and each can be found among intellectuals as well as ordinary folks. A fourth way has a more underground existence, and is rarely seen as the key to the big picture.The first frame is ...

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  • US officials, President Karzai and the Taliban have found something they can all agree on: that US marines pissing on insurgent corpses is beyond the pale of humanity. No doubt the Europeans also emphatically endorse this view.The US Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta, termed the incident ...

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  • Portents of declining US and Western prestige marked the closing months of 2011. There is of course the ongoing economic crisis, and the inability to respond to it effectively. But another sign was the rapidity with which Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to consolidate his power on a ...

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  • War, we are told, is a rational instrument of policy. States go to war to achieve specific objectives. On such a view, determining the outcome of a war is a kind of bookkeeping exercise. One need only measure the results against the original purposes. But war is far too wily a beast to be made ...

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