The problem(s) with Israel

By John Lloyd
November 20, 2014

Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Jews carry the body of Rabbi Mosheh Twersky onto a vehicle during his funeral in Jerusalem

Israel had grown accustomed to an absence of terrorist attacks in its cities: so the bloody murder of four worshippers and wounding of eight more at a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday was a shock. It illuminates the fragile, fractious state of the country, including the fact that the cabinet is riven, and may collapse soon.

U.S. ‘soft power’ hits another hard reality in the Middle East

By John Lloyd
November 12, 2014

Relatives of detained activists cry and pray for them as the activists stand trial at a court in Cairo

On Sunday, June 22, 1941, Winston Churchill’s private secretary, John Colville, woke him with the news that Nazi Germany had invaded the Soviet Union. In a radio address that same evening, the British prime minister repeated his “consistent” opposition to communism, but said that “all this flashes away … the Russian danger is therefore our danger.” In a later House of Commons debate, Churchill quipped — “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

Should the West withdraw from the world to win its love?

By John Lloyd
November 6, 2014

Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st rest as they wait to pack their weapons for shipment back to the United States at Camp Virginia, Kuwait

In his original and argumentative history of the Anglo-American domination of the past three or more centuries, Walter Russell Mead writes that both the UK and the United States believed their imposition of a world order served the highest interests of humanity. From Oliver Cromwell’s denunciation of Spanish cruelty in the 1650s to Ronald Reagan’s characterisation of the Soviet Union as an evil empire in the 1980s, the two main Anglophone states have seen their global expansionism as a blessing for the world: what’s good for us is good for everyone.

Ukraine’s vote proves Putin wrong and puts anti-Semitic past behind

By John Lloyd
October 31, 2014

Local resident listens before receiving a ballot during a parliamentary election inside her house in the village of Havronshchyna near Kiev

One of the themes that Russian President Vladimir Putin tried out to besmirch the Ukrainian revolt against pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich earlier this year was that fascists and anti-Semites were behind the uprising. The protesters, he proclaimed, were revolting in both senses of the word: They had chased out an elected president (true) and their actions had allowed “anti-Semitic forces [to go] on a rampage” (not true).

Pope Francis and his season of struggle

By John Lloyd
October 23, 2014

Pope Francis celebrates a mass in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican

This month, Pope Francis had to come clean.

Time’s Man of the Year for 2013, the object of seemingly universal affection, is a liberal: and that means a season – perhaps a papacy – of struggle. His honeymoon as the Amiable Argentinian is over.

Lessons of Ebola: Unequal in life, unequal in death

By John Lloyd
October 20, 2014

Health worker is reflected in a mirror as he prepares protective equipment near Rokupa Hospital

The most important and tragic speech of these times was given earlier this week, though the author was too busy to voice it herself. Dr. Margaret Chan, who leads the World Health Organization, sent her chief of staff to a WHO regional conference in Manila to spotlight something we rarely keep in our conscious mind and don’t, collectively, do much about: Inequalities can be a matter of ever-longer life, or a most miserable death.

Once the hamburgers are gone, can a government hold on?

By John Lloyd
October 10, 2014

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It’s often said that Russia’s Vladimir Putin, along with the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, owe their popularity and the relative stability of their nations to their success in giving their people not so much bread and circuses but McDonald’s hamburgers and satellite TV. If the burgers and entertainment dry up, the foundations of the two regimes are supposed to tremble.

Is ‘civil society’ imperialistic? Putin says yes, and he’s not alone.

By John Lloyd
October 4, 2014

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The word “imperialism” is still bandied about a good deal. Sometimes its meaning is traditional, as in the charge that President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is seeking to reassemble some part of the Russian imperium. Sometimes the meaning is flakier, as in the claim of Scots nationalists that England is a neo-imperial state on the lookout for wars in which to flex its flabby military muscles.

Despite Scotland’s choice, a November 9 vote could still tear Spain apart

By John Lloyd
September 26, 2014

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The Scots voted against independence last week, by a fair margin and most commentary from business leaders and financial analysts began with “a sigh of relief” – followed by a wary recognition that serious reform to Britain’s system of government had been promised, and that might again disturb the delicate nerves of investors.

Ukraine’s future lies with the West, but there is much suffering ahead

By John Lloyd
September 19, 2014

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Ukraine did something very Ukrainian this week. It sued for peace with Russia, apparently confirming a centuries-old subordination to Big Brother to the east. Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister jailed by the deposed President Victor Yanukovich and now leader of the political party Batkivshchyna, called the laws implementing peace by granting autonomy to parts of eastern Ukraine “humiliating and betraying.”