Fred Halliday

Fred Halliday died on Monday. I purchased his Arabia Without Sultans a very long time ago. It recalls a time when the forces of radicalism in the Middle East came from the Marxist-Leninist left, although Halliday was blind to their political flaws, any political force that regarded Brezhnev’s USSR as a model had little long […]

Global futures

Gallup migration

In teaching Australian Identities: Indigenous & Multicultural I include some big picture speculation about the future. I draw on Jeffrey Williamson’s 2003 Noel Butlin lecture on world factor migrations and demographic transitions. Williamson describes how 19th century migration was driven by the desire of the young to escape European overpopulation and poverty for the much […]

Afghan public opinion

Recent Australian poll shows a major drop in support for Australian military participation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will be a major challenge for a new American government. Interesting article at the Center for a New American Security, a Democrat friendly think-tank. it notes:  “The Bush administration has taken to having a Maliki-Musharraf-Karzai complex,” said Nathaniel Fick, […]

Equity, Iraq & Weimar

It has been a long time since I scraped through equity but I do recall the doctrines of ‘undue influence’ and ‘unconscionable conduct’: if one party enters a contract with another where there is a particular relationship of trust and confidence between the parties. As Mason J put it in Commercial Bank of Australia v. […]

Skocpol on the Iranian revolution

Reading Theda Skocpol’s Social Revolutions in the Modern World a collection of her essays that followed her pathbreaking States and Social Revolutions. The type of work we need more in historical writing. Skocpol places the Iranian revolution in the context of third-world social revolutions such as Cuba and Vietnam. Contrary to Marxist hopes and conservatives […]

Idealists and foreign policy

Lately there has been some media comment on the fact that despite conservative rhetoric on the theme of never negotiating with ‘radicals and extremists’ both the Israelis and Americans are actually doing this: Hamas, Syria. Particularly in Iraq the US is assisting the same people who not long ago were attacking American soldiers and fighting […]

The Palestinians in 1947

An interesting article in the founding journal of neo-conservatism Commentary by Hillel Halkin on the current Israel-Palestine negotiations. Zionist commentary is often dominated by an intention to defend Israel against critics to the left. Hence Palestinians are often cast as incorrigible fools who pass up opportunity after opportunity for a Palestinian state living in harmony […]

Iraq war and public opinion

An interesting debate about trends in American public opinion on the Iraq war, and the shift of public opinion towards a less unfavourable position. This has been sparked by Charles Franklin’s comments at Political Arithmetick: The current upturn in positive views of the war then reflect perhaps some bits of success on the ground. US […]

Arab unity

A curious article by the very establishment Walter Mead on the record of American foreign policy, but one interesting statement: Since the 1950s, U.S. policy in the Middle East has been aimed at preventing two things: We have tried to keep any other outside power from dominating the region, and we have tried to prevent […]

Turkish questions

The victory of the AKP has been most interesting for the response it has evoked on the liberal-left. The theme is that the AKP’s practice has demonstrated that political Islam, contrary to the claims of the right does not automatically equate to terrorism and violence. See here, here, here. What is does demonstrate is that […]