Essays

Battle of Waterloo

The other side of the hill

In war, we are, like the Duke of Wellington, still trying to guess what is on the other side of the hill, we just have more tools to help us do so.

Victor Hugo’s ideal of Europe

The famed French chronicler of poverty and war saw hope in the prospect of the European ideal – over a century before the creation of the EU.

Russian athletes pose for the cameras.

The Soviet military was a hollow colossus

After the fall of the Soviet Union, some of its military conscripts from former republics ended up in NATO countries. Their personal stories are not only compelling accounts of recent history – they also offer valuable insights into the former superpower’s ‘five-million man’ martial might and even today’s Russian military.

An Iranian woman walks past an anti-US mural depicting the Statue of Liberty on the wall of the former American embassy in Tehran.

Islam and the contingency of politics

The Islamic relationship between religion and state has a deep history – but the modern politics of nationalism has re-cast Islam in a new political mould

A technician in the server hall of the Russian state telecommunications operator.

Information loss

The Internet is now home to modern culture. But like paper, it is at risk of decay unless we archive and store it properly.

Benin's anti piracy task force on patrol in the Gulf of Guinea.

Troubled waters

Military force will not be enough to fix the Gulf of Guinea’s piracy problem. The roots of the crime lie on-shore, deep in the politics of oil and statehood.

Scene from battle during haitian revolution

Haiti and the pathos of history

President Moïse’s assassination is a new spin on a familiar story for Haiti. And yet, despite the fact that the country’s politics has been plagued by destabilising political assassinations, the liberating promise of its revolutionary past lives on.

Mongol legend Genghis Khan in combat

Geopolitics and the Mongol Empire

Political and economic concerns were as critical as environmental and geographic factors in forging the unity of the Mongol Empire.

In search of civilisation

The search for ‘early civilisation’ in ancient societies has obscured the diverse ways in which ancient societies survived and thrived.

Artists of the floating world

Japanese art aspires to the principles of balance and natural rebirth which underpin the ancient Japanese philosophy of life.

Humanism matters in the age of AI

Modern atheists cast humanism as an anti-religious movement. But its roots in theology must be recovered if we are to confront the ethical challenges of today.

The strange birth of the European

Critics of European integration point to the weakness of common cultural and political ties on the continent. But European identity can emerge even in difficult conditions.

China’s takeover of Western capitalism

From obscure stakes in biotech companies to intellectual property theft, the Chinese state is engaged in corporate subterfuge. But what can the West do about it?

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