Posts tagged war

Ten years ago: Why I Protest

This post is part of a series of stories and articles I wrote exactly ten years ago, on this day in 2003. Here I talk about my reasons for protesting against the Iraq war, which had just started at that point. For more stories in the series, click here. The dust storm came blasting down Wall Street. Luckily I saw it coming and managed to duck inside before it engulfed our building, blocking out the sun. For several minutes, crouching nervously in the darkened lobby, I tried not to think about… Read More

“An Artist of the Floating World” by Kazuo Ishiguro

An elderly, celebrated artist, Masuji Ono, is living in retirement in Japan just after the end of World War Two. His daughter is having trouble in her marriage negotiations for reasons he can’t understand: gradually he realises it’s because he is associated with the rise of Japanese militarism in the 1930s, a period now discredited and blamed for bringing disaster on the country. The theme of the book is the role of the artist in the world, and this is what old Masuji Ono gradually explores. As with many of… Read More

“A Pale View of Hills” by Kazuo Ishiguro

Most of this novel is memory: a woman thinking about her daughter’s suicide and remembering an earlier summer in post-War Nagasaki. Almost nothing happens in the present day. The whole story of A Pale View of Hills takes place in the past. And the story in the past is full of holes. At first this annoyed me but, the more I thought about it, the more I realised how true this is to the story as the woman would have thought about it. Not only are our memories full of… Read More

Johann Hari – How we fuel Africa’s bloodiest war

The deadliest war since Adolf Hitler marched across Europe is starting again – and you are almost certainly carrying a blood-soaked chunk of the slaughter in your pocket. When we glance at the holocaust in Congo, with 5.4 million dead, the clichés of Africa reporting tumble out: this is a “tribal conflict” in “the Heart of Darkness”. It isn’t. The United Nations investigation found it was a war led by “armies of business” to seize the metals that make our 21st-century society zing and bling. The war in Congo is… Read More

“Afterwards” by Rachel Seiffert

The style of writing is very conversational. No beauty, not even many full sentences. The sort of writing with not many verbs. Just reportage,and not always very grammatical, like you were hearing someone tell you it on the phone. That part didn’t work for me, but the advantage of it was that it focused my attention entirely on the characters, all of which were strong and fascinating. What made them successful, too, was that while much was revealed about them, important things were also withheld, so that they felt elusive… Read More

The crime of compassion

Sometimes I think I have become so cynical that I am no longer capable of feeling true outrage. I have come to expect fascism, brutality and heartlessness from my elected leaders as a matter of course. But every now and then, something comes along that makes my jaw hit the floor once again. Today was one such time, and the jaw-dropper for me was learning, courtesy of the excellent SchNews bulletin, that distributing food to the homeless is now illegal in some US cities. SchNews focuses on the case of… Read More

How about a little humanity?

Does this sound familiar? A war in the Middle East launched for obscure reasons. The justification changing constantly according to what ministers think can “sell” it to the people at any particular time. Disregarding the United Nations. Bombing people in order to protect them. Being surprised when such brutality does not win the hearts and minds of those who have lived through it. A “villainous” policy, “so appalling that human language can hardly describe it”, one that “will take us many years to live down.” Well, all of this comes… Read More

Getting better all the time…

I suppose now the Red Cross can be added to the list of dangerous subversives who deride the war in Iraq for their own crazy left-wing reasons. After all, they have released a report cataloguing the sheer horror of life in Iraq under American occupation. The Red Cross, as always, is careful not to apportion blame – its reputation depends on its perceived impartiality. But the title of the report, “Civilians Without Protection: The ever-worsening humanitarian crisis in Iraq” and the contents, divided into sections such as “A conflict that… Read More