Here’s the first of the videos I’ve made with Faber archivist, Robert Brown. In it, he introduces us to a wartime cookery book, Meat Dishes without Coupons, which contains recipes only fit for the strongest of modern stomachs.
You may sense a bad pun lurking in the title above. Click on the video below to discover just how bad!
“After Iraq the ideas of the Bush administration – for example, the idea that you can remake the world in America’s image, that we can alter the condition of the whole Islamic world in order to protect ourselves – had become deeply unfashionable.
“But I think there is a danger of embracing the opposite idea – a kind of Orientalism, the notion of a primordial and timeless enemy.”
Patrick has recently published a book on military orientalism, and he pursues that theme in his article in this month’s issue of LMD with particular reference to the Taliban. To view them as medieval or even extraterrestrials as many in the West have done is to see no further than their rhetoric and overlook the extent to which their culture is constantly changing and adapting to circumstances.
Until recently, Georgia’s wars were fought against separatist movements of ethnic minorities. In August 2008 it took on the Russian army in a five-day war which has left commentators unclear as to who was the aggressor and who the victim. Indeed, perhaps those concepts are inadequate to capture the tangled nature of enmities and rivalries in the region.
In this podcast which I’ve just produced for Le Monde diplomatique‘s April issue, I talk to journalist and political analyst Vicken Cheterian about the nature of the five-day war and its consequences for the Caucasus and beyond.
Click here to listen. Click here to see some very illuminating maps on the LMD site, which help explain the nature of the conflict. And click on the book cover (above) to find out more about Vicken’s recent book on the subject.
I recently interviewed Stephen Armstrong for Faber about his new book, War plc. The book takes the reader into the world of the private security companies, which have mushroomed in the last few years to the extent that the military effort in Afghanistan and Iraq would be impossible without them.
The development is not accidental. To get a sense of the ideological drive that lies behind the emergence of these private companies on the battlefield, here is an extract from an extraordinary speech (quoted in Stephen’s book) which US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave the day before 9/11:
“The topic today is an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to security of the United States of America. This adversary is one of the world’s last bastions of central planning. It governs by dictating 5 year plans. From a single capital it attempts to impose its demands across time zones, continents, oceans and beyond. With brutal consistency it stifles free thought and crushes new ideas. It disrupts the defence of the United States and places the lives of men and women in uniform at risk.
“Perhaps this adversary sounds like the former Soviet Union, but that enemy is gone: our foes are more subtle and implacable today. You may think I’m describing one of the last decrepit dictators of the world. But their day too is almost past and they cannot match the strength and size of this adversary. The adversary’s closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy.”