Essays

The return of great power diplomacy

One of the original conceptions of the United Nations Organization, and the 1925 Locarno Pact, show how leading states might think about diplomacy in the new age of great power competition.

America – nation of myth-makers

Enduring debates about rights, freedom and individualism take us back to rival interpretations of what went on in the 1770s and 1780s.

The Empire strikes back

The 19th century culminated in an extraordinary period of national jingoism as film, the popular press and photography inspired European nations to jockey for imperial dominance.

On dandyism

Whenever societies sink into decadence and decline, the ever fascinating figure of the dandy is swift to emerge.

Inside the disinformation forever war

Russian ‘active measures’, including election meddling, disinformation and influence operations, were as common throughout the Cold War as they are today.

The Spy and the State

The technological sophistication of the modern state is no substitute for human intelligence gathering.

On betrayal

Espionage feeds off betrayal. And yet we find it difficult to love those who betray their country even in a just cause.

Challenging the ‘Great Reset’ theory of pandemics

Thucydides saw plague as a disease of the ‘body politic’ – and an opportunity to improve the health of society. History shows that pandemics have a way of disrupting our assumptions about medical and social progress.

In search of Lebensraum

Hitler’s conviction that a new Eurasian order should be constructed with Germany at its zenith had its ideological roots in the early science of geopolitics.

China rethinking its role

With China positioning itself as a leader on the world stage, its government is drawing on memories of the role the country played in shaping the post-War order. This raises tough questions about China’s self-image.

The world that Vasco da Gama built

Portugal’s commercial dominance of large swathes of the world lasted little more than a century but the images, transmissions, and trades that it engendered left a significant and long-lasting influence.

Late Beauties of the British Empire

From the Archive – first published in Empire and the Future World Order (2005) after the Engelsberg Seminar. The late beauties of empire represented all that was best in the British imperial idea – its romance, its glamour and its sense of humour.

Why applied history matters

Forget the seduction of grand theories and presentist moral judgments. To learn the lessons of the past, the great foreign policy analysts of our age must rediscover the art of historical discernment.

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