Proxy Warfare

Tom Stevenson

That proxy wars are essentially anti-democratic goes some way to explaining the adoption of a proxy doctrine, traditionally the preserve of the intelligence services, by the conventional US military. Proxy warfare is officially condemned in Washington and London as a device of undemocratic enemies, but it is precisely for its anti-democratic possibilities that the West embraces it. For US allies, rejection of proxy warfare would be a contradiction. At the strategic level, the British armed forces and the armed forces of Australia and Canada have no discernible vision beyond serving as adjuncts to US power. Which in a sense makes them proxy forces too. The armies of many small states are available to the US as proxies under the justification of fighting ‘terrorism’, controlling ‘ungoverned spaces’ and other phantoms. The new model of local proxy ground troops backed by air power, global surveillance and special operations forces has become a fixture of the times. For political leaders, it’s tempting to see this type of military action as the Goldilocks option: neither the heat of full-scale war nor the cool of unmanly indifference. 

 

At the Shrink

Janique Vigier

Inthe spring of 1972, the poet Bernadette Mayer began to keep a journal for her analyst, David Rubinfine, whose patients included Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins, and who was notorious for having married another patient, Elaine May, a decade earlier. Mayer was 27. In the journal – there were two, in fact; Rubinfine read one while she wrote in the other – she attempted to...

Short Cuts

Black Forest Thinking

Andrew O’Hagan

Iopened​ the window to let in some air. Hotel windows can’t always be opened. Some hotels don’t believe in fresh air, or they believe it’s too expensive, if the price of having it is accepting the risk of people smoking (or jumping). On the fourth floor of the Hotel Adlon in Berlin, windows open over a secret courtyard, and I could hear what sounded like an old TV...

From the blog

#EndSARS

Adewale Maja-Pearce

19 October 2020

I am far from alone in admiring the protesters’ growing sense of their own inherent power, gaining in confidence with every passing day. Their dignity and self-possession mock the shamelessness of those who have so carelessly squandered their future; and at the same time they are asking how we could have allowed this state of affairs to prevail, six decades after Nigeria’s independence.

 

Rummaging for Mummies

Christina Riggs

‘To the Past we must go as a relief from To-day’s harshness,’ the Egyptologist Arthur Weigall wrote in 1923, as illustrated newspapers were bringing Tutankhamun back to life. The First World War was over, but its aftershocks rippled on. Golden treasure, a boy pharaoh and lost tombs in the Valley of the Kings offered readers an escape. The inscrutable Orient and its discovery...

Close Readings

Podcast

Close Readings

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford’s ‘revolutionary … ★★★★★’ (The Times) podcast about British and American poets from the long 20th century.

 

Thom Gunn in New York

Michael Nott

ThomGunn spent the summer of 1958 in New York City. ‘It was wonderful, and revelatory as it always is,’ he told his friend Tony White. ‘I learn more about people and myself in NY than anywhere else. I got offered a job in a tough-queer 3rd Avenue bar the day before I left, and if I hadn’t been under contract to Berkeley I’d have accepted it’ (he’d...

 

Marilynne Robinson’s Perfect Paradox

Anne Enright

In​ the fourth novel in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead sequence, the eponymous Jack spends a long night alone with his thoughts. ‘After a while,’ he observes, ‘light will reveal itself in a very dark room, not quite as a mist, as something more particulate, as if the slightest breath had lifted the finest dust into the stillest air.’ This recalls Milton’s...

 

Slavery and Revenge

John Kerrigan

In​ Mrs Flanigan’s Antigua and the Antiguans, published in 1844, we are told about a plantation overseer who acted against pilfering slaves. His rigour

caused him to be disliked, and determined one among them, more heartless, perhaps, than the rest, to undertake his destruction. On Christmas day, Mr Brown rode to … a neighbouring estate, and upon his return in the evening...

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