• Books: Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild, Endless War: Hidden Functions of the "war on terror" by David Keen, Capital Vol. 1, Tin Drum by Günter Grass, What is Islam? by Shahab Ahmed, Desiring Arabs by Joseph Massad, Spies, Soldiers and Statesmen by Hazem Kandil, La Condition Humaine by André Malraux, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Imagined Community by Benedict Anderson, Culture and Imperialism by Edward Said, The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon, The Richness of Life by Stephen Jay Gould, Children of the Alley by Naguib Mahfouz, The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, 1984 by George Orwell, Noli me Tangere by José Rizal, Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm, ذهنية التحريم لصادق جلال العظم, Karl Marx by Francis Wheen, وليمة لأعشاب البحر لحيدر حيدر, Candide by Voltaire, النزعات المادية في الفلسفة العربية الإسلامية لحسين مروة, Listen Little Man by Wilhelm Reich ..
  • Films: Alexanderplatz by Rainer Fassbinder, Clockwork Orange, Apocalypse Now, The Battle of Algiers, films by P. P. Passolini, Persepolis, Midnight Express, 1984, Papillion, Gangs of New York, Sophie Scholl, Life of Brian, Ivan the Terrble, Battleship Potemkine ...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese army bases – they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out,
"That's what we should already be saying to them and the world now. If Hezbollah fires missiles at the Israeli home front, this will mean sending Lebanon back to the Middle Ages."
Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah: a potential for another war
"British interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan were disastrous and created resentment among many Arabs and Muslims - as does leaving Bashar al-Assad to drop barrel bombs and use chemical weapons against innocent civilians. 
But Libya was different. It was a popular uprising. It was a civilian revolution and not a religious one. Britain was willing to support us because it was in line with their foreign policy at the time. We also weren't linked to groups like al-Qaeda. 
I say "at the time" because many of us who fought are upset that Britain continues to support General Haftar, who has been condemned by leading rights group, including Amnesty International, for committing a series of war crimes."

And here is what the Telegraph reported in February

"Gen Haftar, who  enjoys strong backing from Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's government in Egypt, is seen by some as a potential secular “strong man” ruler who could re-establish some degree of security and crack-down hard on Islamist movements there.

"Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, said earlier this week that Gen Haftar should be integrated into the current government of national accord. "

"I fought in Libya: please don't call us terrorists"


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Whether it is Thatcher or Reagan, Blair or Holland, Trump or Macron, Temer or May ...

"[I]n the name of a narrow and strict conception of rationality as individual rationality, it [neoliberallism] brackets the economic and social conditions of rational orientations and the economic and social structures that are the condition of their application."

The essence of neoliberalism 
(Pierre Bourdieu, 1998)
"Strong and Stable" 
Silverdale, Hamstead Road, London

and
A lit crit of the party manifestos

Friday, May 26, 2017

"It's a weird time. This week I'm noticing two rather disturbing bandwagons rolling, both arising from Manchester. One is about UK domestic politics and the other international politics but they are linked by an understandable desire not to see the attack as being used to advance the agenda of the Tories and specifically, to help their election campaign. Both though are ultimately very unhelpful. One is about the need for soldiers on the streets because Theresa May cut police budgets as Home Secretary. I've seen unlikely people sharing tweets from redundant cops. Tempting to undercut May this way, but wrong - more armed cops do not equal fewer attacks like Manchester. The other is pinning the blame for Manchester on the UK intervention in Libya. Again, understandable. 

But it's important to see that the problem in Libya was not the attempted regime change as such but the regime that people tried to change i.e. Gaddafi's tyranny. It was a regime that - like Saddam Hussein's and Assad's - had been alternately sanctioned/attacked and supported by the west. If you leave out that context, and focus on 'regime change' you are in effect saying that it would have been better to leave dictatorships in place, because look at all the mess. You are saying, Arabs can't have democracy and if they try, all they get is armed militias fighting each other and bombing 'us.' Of course foreign intervention is part of the problem - including Russia's and Iran's in Syria - but it's not the whole story. 

Unlike Iraq, there were popular uprisings in Syria and Libya, and there probably would have been one in Iraq as well. You can't expect such revolts in countries with colonial borders, ethnic and religious sectarianism encouraged by colonial and post-colonial regimes, and brutal dictatorships, to be straightforward and over quickly. People in Libya and Syria are in it for the long haul and they are suffering far more than we are and need our support, not a crass dismissal of what they are trying to fight for, freedoms we already have."

— Sue Sparks


I would use "neo-colonialism instead of the academic misleading term "post-colonialism".
On deploying British troops, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, said he would tell them: "Under my leadership, you will only be deployed abroad when there is a clear need and only when there is a plan that you have the resources to do your job and secure an outcome that delivers lasting peace".

So, in principle, and fundamentally, he would not break with the imperialist interventions of the British regime. He would deploy troops in a better and organised way, probably with popular support. Although Corbyn opposed the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, he sees that Britain has a mission to deploy troops and intervene to "secure peace". Since when an imperialist power intervenes and wages wars for peace?

How ironic from a socialist? A socialist who would use the state apparatus of an imperialist state. 
A great scientist. I recommend The Richness of Life. When I started reading it I couldn't put it down.

"Homo sapiens, I fear, is a “thing so small” in a vast universe, a wildly improbable evolutionary event well within the realm of contingency. Make of such a conclusion what you will. Some find it depressing; I have always regarded it as exhilarating, and a source of both freedom and consequent moral responsibility."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"The United States has admitted that at least 105 Iraqi civilians were killed in an air strike it carried out in Mosul in March." (The BBC)

Another "collateral damage". 

Those killed are Iraqis not Mancunians and those injured do not have a Queen to visit them.
A couple of days ago someone asked me a mainstream question: "when will the war between Sunnis and Shiite end?"

Briefly,

— Some Alawite (Shi'a) generals and officers defected from the Syrian army at the beggining of the uprising and joined the Free Syrian Army.
— The Sunni bourgeoisie in Damascus is not fightng Assad.
— The main force which has been fighting ISIS on the ground is a Kurdish one. The Kurds are Sunnis and ISIS fighters are Sunnis, too.
— Many Syrian Sunnis who have been displaced because of the war have fled to "Shiite" areas. They haven't been killing each other.
— The rest is geopolitics. Example: The Northern Alliance in Afghanista,  although it included some Shiites, was mainly led by a Sunni-Tajik, Ahmed Shah Masoud. The Aliance was supported by Iran, among others such as Pakistan and the US. Masoud was assassinated by Taliban, a Sunni organisation.
The liberals of the Guardian are in arms defending "democracy" and "liberties" against the state reaction. Simon Jenkins, for example, is right that deployment of tanks and soldiers will not prevent "terrorism", but he is, like most of the liberals, not to speak of the right-wing media in general, fails, intentionally or unintentionally, to tackle the real sources of acts of violence like the one which took place in Manchester a couple of days ago.

Jenkins: "Terror bombing is the one foolproof weapon of the weak against the strong. We cannot screen every public space or search every pedestrian. There is nothing new to this. The car bomb and the terror grenade are as old as Conrad’s secret agent, and his “pestilence” which stalks the street with death in its pocket."
Agreed.

Jenkins: "All we can hope to do is enter into the minds of the bombers and their associates to prevent them at source. That is essentially a covert activity, and is clearly in its infancy. We can try to clean the pool in which fanaticism swims, the ideological grooming and conditioning. The security services must relentlessly infiltrate Islamist networks. That is their job – they claim to foil a dozen attacks a year – but publicising it cannot be necessary."
A bankrupt idea/strategy It has been tried already, but their advocate choose, for blind ideological reasons, to continue advocating it.

Jenkins: "Today’s terrorist wants to frighten the enemies of Islam into curbing liberties and oppressing Muslims."

Wow! That's even worse. Another failure, probably deliberate, to identify the sources of "terrorism". This narrow-minded people should also be held responsible for propagating false, harmful ideas. They choose to be impaired intellectually, for they ignore striking evidence published by their fellow liberal researchers.

Jenkins is even suggesting working with "the Muslim leaders" in the UK! Which leaders? Those who allied themselves with the state in the invasion of Iraq, for example! Jenkins is also naive in thinking that "Muslim leaders" have complete control over Muslims. They have never had and they will never have such a control.
"Farsad leaves us with only one conclusion: that Muslims who are fully assimilated into the habits and customs of mainstream liberal culture are the “normal” ones."

The liberal fascination with "Islam-lite" and the humanizing Muslim industry
Although I don't like Owen Jones, the plight of the cleaners at one of the most prestigious university in the world is a disgrace.

LSE cleaners

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

China Miéville's book October "is very deliberate in what it covers and, more importantly, doesn’t cover."

John Medherst: "As someone with a book on the Russian Revolution out later this year (August 17th) with a different and more critical take on Lenin and the Bolsheviks, I had to buy and read China Mieville’s October.

It is, as you would expect, a great read. Vivid and immersive, it skilfully recreates how kinetic, stressful, confusing and exciting February-October 1917 in Russia must have been.
But it is very deliberate in what it covers and, more importantly, doesn’t cover. Although it has a brief prologue and epilogue, 95% of the book sticks tightly to the nine months of February-October. As such it is, surprisingly for a Marxist writer, a rather old-fashioned narrative history. Considering that nearly all the main issues and controversies of the Bolshevik revolution arise from events post-October, the decision to barely address that period prevents wider analysis and understanding. Surely no accident? I imagine China chose this focus because concentrating on the “heroic” period of the revolution is more emotionally inspiring, and raises fewer awkward questions, than examining what the Bolsheviks did once in power, and the extent to which Leninism and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat were the perfect seedbed for Stalinism.


In that sense the epilogue, even as a summary, is unreliable. It simply doesn’t mention that the Bolsheviks shut nearly all Russia’s newspapers within days of October. And that in the first eight months after October, well before the outbreak of civil war, they had shut down or gerrymanded the large number of Soviets that in the first half of 1918 were returning Menshevik or SR majorities. Its reference to the only national election during the period – that for the Constituent Assembly in November 1918, in which the SRs won easily, with the Bolsheviks securing about ¼ of the vote – is that after after it refused to recognise the supremacy of the Soviets “the radicals” (i.e. the Bolsheviks) “left” it, and it then “wound down ignominiously”.


In fact the Assembly, which opened with delegates singing the Internationale, pledged a massive land redistribution policy and to work with the Soviets, but after an only a few hours of existence in which Bolshevik soldiers continuously threatened delegates it had to shut down. It was then immediately banned. Demonstrations in its support were fired on. All socialist except the Bolsheviks protested. To characterise it as China does is gross historical misrepresentation. His total failure to mention or assess the mass strikes against the Bolshevik government in 1918 and 1919, and the Kronstadt rebellion of 1921, are misrepresentation by omission, and very disappointing for a writer of China’s intelligence and discrimination.


Also, the book has no reference notes! While I am sure his research was extensive and the statements, events and quotations in the book are sound, the reader is simply not able to check that. Which considering he acknowledges the help of seven professional historians and other sundry mates to check drafts, correct and feedback, is quite astonishing. Still, he can turn a phrase."
— "I think [Olivier] Roy underplays the historical context within which forms of modern jihadism find expression. Not all jihadis have the same background, but I’ve found — certainly in France — a fertile ground to radicalisation is produced when you have a disaffected immigrant population whose ideas and concerns are not taken seriously, who do not enjoy access to the power and wealth they see around them, and who remember a background of colonisation in Algeria or elsewhere in north Africa that fuels a historical sense of grievance. I think it’s a mistake to downplay that context." 

— "Liberalism was associated with the western powers. Within the west there was a contest between liberalism and other forms of political thought. But in the Middle East liberal thought — ideas about democracy, empowerment, emancipation, the privileging of the individual over the collective — was linked to the European powers that carved up the Ottoman Empire and subjugated the Middle East either directly or indirectly."

— "There’s a very good book that I’m reading at the moment called Sectarianization: mapping the new politics of the Middle East (2017), edited by Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel. I find the basic idea in that quite convincing: sectarianism is a tool that is used for political ends rather than the cause of all the instability in the Middle East now."

Christopher de Bellaigue

Was/is there an Islamic enlightenment?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Olivier Roy's "Jihad and Death"

and

"I think Roy underplays the historical context within which forms of modern jihadism find expression. Not all jihadis have the same background, but I’ve found — certainly in France — a fertile ground to radicalisation is produced when you have a disaffected immigrant population whose ideas and concerns are not taken seriously, who do not enjoy access to the power and wealth they see around them, and who remember a background of colonisation in Algeria or elsewhere in north Africa that fuels a historical sense of grievance. I think it’s a mistake to downplay that context." — Christopher de Bellaigue

Was/is there an Islamic enlightenment?


The Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was asked in a recent interview by a Sky News jiurnalist to condemn the IRA bombing.

Jeremy Corbyn: "There were Loyalist bombs as well. I condemn all the bombing by both the Loyalists and the IRA."


Mr Corbyn, but do you condemn the IRA?

Mr Corbyn, but do you condemn the IRA?
Mr Corbyn, but do you condemn the IRA?
Mr Corbyn, but do you condemn the IRA?

"Mr Corbyn also attempts to contextualise bombings."


Well, yes. Whether it is a bombing in Iraq, London, Paris, Bali, Belfast, Istanbul, Madrid... or a homocide, a divorce, a bankruptcy, a car accident, a nervous breakdown, a failure in delivering a successful lesson ... an invasion of a country, the birth of ISIS, waterboarding, an IMF loan, austerity, arms sale ... it has to be contextualised. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

A BBC headline: " Who is to blame for violenec in the name of Islam?" (Episode 1: The Battle for Al-Azhar)

Who is to blame for violence in the name of "democracy" and "freedom"?
England

The main argument of those opposing the scrapping of tuition fees in England is where to find the money to fund free higher education.


Looking at a list of European countries where there are no tuition fees or a little charge, one can see that these countries have gone bankrupt and their education system has collapsed because they provide "free" higher education.


"Once you factor in the people who will not end up paying back their loans, in the long-term the policy is expected cost the government £8bn a year." (Source: the BBC Fact Check)

That is less than a tenth of the billions lost beause of tax evasion.

The real reason of keeping the tuition fees in England of £9,250+ is that consecutive goverments have adopted the most aggressive "neo-liberal" social-economic system in Europe, where the fundamentalist "free-market" ideology reigns supreme. 

The structure of the socio-political system has made many oppose free education on tha basis that their taxes shouldn't pay for the education of those who cannot afford to pay. A reflection of how the fostering of individualistic mentality, one of the aspects of the "neo-liberal era", is more prevalent in England.
"Post-democratic broadcasting"
Post-democratic? 

Friday, May 19, 2017

At the London School of Economics

"We are not the dirt we clean"

"For forty years the Israelites wandered in the Sinai wilderness before reaching the Canaanite border, where Moses died, but his lieutenant, Joshua, led the Israelites to victory in the Promised Land, destroying all the Canaanite cities and killing their inhabitants.
 
The archaeological record, however, does not confirm this story. There is no evidence of the mass destruction described in the book of Joshua and no indication of a powerful foreign invasion. But this 
narrative was not written to satisfy a modern historian; it is a national epic that helped Israel create a cultural identity distinct from her neighbors." 
— Karen Armstrong, Fields of Blood - Religion and the History of Violence, 2014, pp. 104-5

The role of "myth" in nation creation?
A review of Ilan Pappe's new book

and from the archive
my interview with Ilan Pappe about his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (audio format)
Part 1, Part 2

Monday, May 15, 2017

The primary priority of the Egyptian military and general Sisi is not to fight terrorism or improve governance,” Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour from 2014 to 2017 said at the Senate hearing on 25 April.
“It has been to make sure that what happened in 2011 in the Tahrir square uprising can never ever, ever, ever happen again.”

US aid to Egypt
I read some Marx (and I liked it)
By Richard Seymour

On The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, the host asked Shadow chancellor John McDonnell if he is a Marxist. Obligingly, he said “no”—but admitted that he had read Marx and learned from himalongside traditional Labour economists like R H Tawney and G D H Cole. Jeremy Corbyn has since leapt to his colleague’s aid, describing Marx as a “great economist.”
In philistine, managerial British politics, McDonnell’s comments felt like a blushing confession: “I read some Marx and I liked it.”

Predictably, senior Tories have in response warned darkly of an “Islington cabal” of revolutionaries. But what exactly in McDonnell’s agenda is Marxist? A tax freeze for the 95 per cent doesn’t need the labour theory of value to stand it up. Borrowing only to invest doesn’t depend on Marx’s theory of the commodity form. Renationalising the railway is as close to common sense as it gets in politics.

If McDonnell is a Marxist, so is most of the country. And if reading Marx makes one a Marxist then so is Vince Cable, whom one thinks of as more Fifty Shades of Grey—in politics and personality. McDonnell wants to laugh this off, and I believe I can help. You see, I know Marxism; I am a Marxist. And John McDonnell is no Marxist.

Marxism, for me, began with a conversation on a windy Woolwich high street at the tail-end of the last millennium. Accosted by a socialist newspaper flogger, I had asked what the plan was for the next election. New Labour had been in for just a year, and it was already a bitter disappointment. Everything looked so bleak. He looked anything but bleak.

Parliament, he explained, was not where real power lay. Power was in the workplaces, factories, offices and shops around us. Representative democracy depended on a machinery of class relationships—owners of capital, their appointed managers, and employees—without which nothing happened, no wealth was produced, and no government formed. Deference to parliament induced passivity. There was real power all around me, everywhere I looked. And this was where change had to begin.

This, lucid though it was, confounded my understanding of politics. One consequence of thinking like this was clear. If the owners had the advantage, as they manifestly, massively did, any government that formed would have to defer to their power just to get anything done. Even a nicer Labour government would have limited room for manoeuvre. The “pragmatic” idea that things changed first through parliament suddenly looked wildly utopian.
Devouring as much Marx as I could, I was frequently struck by the impression that I had been missing the patently obvious. Almost every major point struck me as glaringly apparent.
The whole of social development depends, in the last instance, on how people go about reproducing themselves: their work. If that work is geared toward producing a surplus, then the secret of any society is how it is produced and who gets to control that surplus. If someone is making a profit then someone else has to do the work to produce that profit. If workers are exploited to make profit, then they have an interest in higher wages and less work. If owners live off exploitation, they have an interest in more work and higher profits. 

This is class conflict.And whichever class has more power will have the upper hand in politics and in the shaping of mass culture (relating to, I suddenly thought, how I might have apprehended Marxism before reading Marx). Only their superior numbers and collective organisation, independently of parliamentary representation, could give workers any chance of exercising power.
This is putting it crudely but, even finessed, it is a hard-headed theory of conflict and crisis, not the prescription for “fairness” that parliamentary socialists like John McDonnell want. It expects systemic breakdown, not class peace. It urges workers to form their own party, not to elect a better government, but to take power directly in their own hands—even though the odds are always firmly against this happening. The last time anything like that took place, they called it soviet power. That was a hundred years ago.
So if Tories are haunted by spectres of Marx, this has little to do with an agenda for social democratic administration. Could it be that, amid their energetic class war on behalf of the owners, it is their unconscious that speaks to them?

France

"Advocating for the boycott of Israel, which is the ideology of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, is illegal in France, where it is considered a hate crime."

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Britain's greedy nurses
And the bbc knows it. That is why it shouldn't stay on the front page for more than 2 hours

Friday, May 12, 2017

Another crime by that man on the five-pound note

How Churchill broke the Greek resistance
"The psalm is a song of being forsaken. The feeling of being forsaken, an “immense and aching solitude” as William Styron put it, even amid crowds, even among friends, even when no real-world abandonment has taken place, is common in depression. (Styron began to experience melancholic depression late in life, after developing an intolerance of alcohol. But his description, in The Confessions of Nat Turner, of the hero's feeling of abandonment by his God in the aftermath of his failed uprising, suggests that he might have known this all along.) But if the song is also a dream, we might ask what sort of wish-fulfilment that could be. What sort of satisfaction there is to be had, or avoided, in abandonment. And whether idealisation can also be a defence against consummation."

The Night Season
"A funny thing happened on the tube. Two young, fairly affluent looking racists on the Victoria Line started hassling three teenage hijabis, calling them "smelly foreigners". It didn't seem, from what I heard, to be a focused anti-Muslim thing. It was about getting a sadistic kick out of baiting them, and enjoying their outraged responses.
A woman was trying to talk the girls down -- because, though plainly not intimidated, they were obviously distressed -- saying "ignore them", and telling the young men to "grow up". When they resumed their 'banter' about having to share a tube with a bunch of "foreigners", an elderly black man sitting near them said, "who the fuck are you calling a foreigner?" Which was a good point: their actions were bewilderingly self-endangering, and they didn't look the least bit up to defending themselves. This guy was ready to get up and lamp them. I blurted out something like, "just get off the train you fucking pricks". I wish it had been a more clearly political response than this but, when my knee jerks, it swears loudly. The woman laughed and said "everyone point at the racists", and there was a ripple of a few people jeering them and telling them to "get off". 
The backlash unsettled them. They stood there trying to look smug and defiant. I suspect there was a minority in quiet sympathy with the idiots. There was a lot of embarrassment and looking at feet -- and there is nothing the English fear more than embarrassment. There were also, initially, some irritated glances at the girls raising their voices. But the racists looked uneasy, isolated, nervous. They were lucky someone didn't deck them. The teenagers they'd tried to bait looked pissed off, rattled, but also far more confident than their harassers. Once the guys had left, an older man approached the teenagers, apologised to them and complimented them on how they'd handled themselves.
I'm not sure what conclusion to draw from this. In other circumstances, I could imagine that going far more horribly than it in fact did."
— Richard Seymour, London 11 May 2017
I don't the way he called the girls, though: "three teenage hijabis". Why not three teenage Muslims wearing hijabs?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A colleague of mine at Oxford was asked to see an undergraduate who was falling behind in her work. The student – a Muslim – explained that she had been suffering from depression and was being treated for it by her GP. My colleague believed the student’s explanation placed her under an obligation to ask the student whether she was being radicalised.
A young colleague, an Arab, told me that when he tried to book a room for a seminar, he was informed that this was no longer permitted on security grounds: he had to get a ‘senior’ academic to confirm the real purpose of the meeting.
Another young colleague was told that she had to carry out a security ‘risk assessment’ for a feminist seminar she was convening; she refused, and was repeatedly pressured to comply.
A librarian was asked for a reference by another university: ‘Are you completely satisfied,’ they wanted to know, ‘that the applicant is not involved in “extremism” (being vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs)?’
An undergraduate who wears the hijab ...
A Sikh student was apparently overheard ...


"One can disagree with, say, historian Orlando Figes’s conclusions without querying the seriousness of his research, but his assertion in A People’s Tragedy that “hatred and indifference to human suffering were to varying degrees ingrained in the minds of all the Bolshevik leaders” is simply absurd (and his disapproving fascination with their leather jackets curious).

In Russia, Virginia Woolf wrote in Orlando, “sentences are often left unfinished from doubt as how to best end them”. Of course this is a literary flourish, a common and unsustainable romanticised Russian essentialism. But even so, the formulation feels prophetic for this particular Russian story. Chernyshevsky’s dots describe the revolution itself. Pravda’s blank hole contains tactics. Unsayables are by no means all there is to this strange story, but they are central to it."

Why does the Russian Revolution matter?

See also this in the New York Times

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

The Red Army was "the main engine of Nazism’s destruction," writesBritish historian and journalist Max Hastings in "Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945." The Soviet Union paid the harshest price: though the numbers are not exact, an estimated 26 million Soviet citizens died during World War II, including as many as 11 million soldiers. At the same time, the Germans suffered three-quarters of their wartime losses fighting the Red Army.
"It was the Western Allies’ extreme good fortune that the Russians, and not themselves, paid almost the entire ‘butcher’s bill’ for [defeating Nazi Germany], accepting 95 per cent of the military casualties of the three major powers of the Grand Alliance," writes Hastings.

Don't forget how the Soviet Union saved the world from Hitler (the Washington Post)

Yes, that happened despite Stalin's crimes and plunders.
"American ignorance of Vietnamese history, culture and politics helped draw the United States into a war and a country that it did not comprehend. This pattern of ignorance arguably continues today, both in terms of what Americans continue to ignore about Vietnam and what Americans refuse to know about the Middle East. Literature plays an important role as a corrective to this ignorance." — Viet Thanh Nguyen, the author of The Sympathizer

The great Vietnam war novel was not written by an American (NYT)

Monday, May 08, 2017

Tunisia

"Protests in Kasserine last year and in Kef and Tataouine last month — driven by socioeconomic marginalization in Tunisia’s long-suffering interior — underscore that no post-revolutionary government has substantially mitigated grievances that provoked Tunisia’s 2011 revolution. Upcoming local elections will gauge the cost of Ennahda’s strategy. The stakes are high, and socioeconomic conditions worsening. The Tunisian government’s ability to deliver on revolutionary promises nationally and locally carries with it the fate of the Arab world’s best democratic experiment."

Why do Tunisia's Islamists support an unpopular law
An interesting take, but I don't agree with the one-sided prospect.

North Korea: a story of isolation
This looks a (long) but very interesting piece.

Capital accummulation, private property, and rising inequality in China 1978-2015

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Iraq

We have been here before: the destruction of the Ba'th's regime state by imperialism had led to similar consequences: neglect, fuelling sectarianism, geopolitics...  Actually, those consequences have significantly determined the present situation in Iraq.

"Nascent territorialism in Mosul threatens long-term reconstruction efforts by institutionalising division between traumatised populations and security actors, as well as by breeding local resentment at perceived government neglect. With insufficient military and economic resources to commit to liberated areas, the Iraqi government may struggle to reverse trends toward factionalism without sustained international assistance. Yet today, long-term international aid seems unlikely, as Baghdad’s critical foreign partners scale back post-ISIS cooperation."

Rivalries threaten post-ISIS Mosul

Robespierre sans masque