Should Britain expect more from the Special Relationship with the United States than managed decline? What price should progressives be willing to pay for influence? Latest in our #progressivedilemmas series on conundrums facing the next Labour government.
Occasionally an item of news reminds us of how transient most great political dramas are, and how quickly major crises come and go. This is rather healthy: it puts us on notice that most of the issues we care about very deeply will be forgotten fairly soon too. This is certainly the effect of a compelling obituary notice in the New York Times (emphasis added):
BASILEVSKY–Nathalie (nee Wrangel), 99, of Cos Cob, CT. Beloved mother of Peter A. Basilevsky and the late Helen A. Basilevsky, grandmother of Alexis P. Basilevsky and Katharine H. Deering and two great-grandchildren. She died peacefully on August 9, 2013. She had a big heart, a sharp intellect and will be missed by all who knew her. Mrs. Basilevsky, born in 1913 in St. Petersburg, Russia, was the last surviving child of Lt. Gen. Baron Peter N. Wrangel and Olga M. Wrangel. She was predeceased by her husband Alexis G. Basilevsky, sister Helene Meyendorff and her brothers Peter and Alexis Wrangel. Baron Wrangel was the last Commander in Chief of the White Army in the Russian Civil War and who, after a long and valiant struggle despite his army being woefully outmanned and undersupplied, engineered the seaborne evacuation of approximately 150,000 soldiers and civilians, including 7,000 children, from the Crimea in November 1920 in the face of overwhelming advancing Bolshevik forces.
It’s worth remembering that the Russian Civil War was a close-run thing. If the White Army had been better-manned and better-supplied, we might be mourning the loss of a rare human link to a late, great White Russian (pictured above). And “Stalin” would mean nothing to us.
Vuk Jeremic, a former foreign minister of Serbia, is coming to the end of a year in the very important job of President of the UN General Assembly. His tenure has been anything but dull. He organized a concert which featured a Serbian choir singing a song “associated with massacres carried out in the 1990s against civilians who were under the protection of United Nations peacekeepers.” He convened a thematic debate on criminal justice that the U.S. claimed was “trying to discredit the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.” And last week… he went to a Bon Jovi concert. Continue reading →
There’s a bit of a debate currently about whether the Coalition in Afghanistan should continue to invest in counter-narcotics work in the country. The problem – as articulated by people on the ground is that much of the work has failed. Opium production is up, American troops are no longer allowed to set foot in poppy fields let alone burn them and in a year’s time drugs won’t be high on the Afghan Government’s to do list – if it’s on it at all. What we do next matters because it is liable to have an impact in the UK… below is a short piece I did for RUSI. Continue reading →