Daily Archives: December 16, 2013

By Gideon Rachman
In recent years, Benjamin Netanyahu has specialised in playing the role of prophet-in-the-wilderness. While much of the world cheered last month’s interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme, the Israeli prime minister denounced it as a “very bad deal”. In a recent speech, Mr Netanyahu warned again that the Iranian government remained a “regime committed to our destruction” and had a “genocidal policy” towards Israel.

A suburb of Damascus after it was recaptured by regime forces (Getty)

On a recent trip to Damascus, an acquaintance surprised me by announcing his plans to leave the country. Concerned friends have been trying to get him to move to Lebanon for the past two years, but he always refused. Like many Syrians, he felt that even with a civil war raging, Damascus had a soulfulness and integrity that Beirut lacks. Now he’s had enough.

“Its not the shelling,” he explained. “It’s the greed.” Read more

How We Invented Freedom and Why It Matters, by Daniel Hannan, Head of Zeus, RRP£20, 400 pages

Old Links and New Ties: Power and Persuasion in an Age of Networks, by David Howell, IB Taurus, RRP£12.99/RRP$29.99, 256 pages

Influencing Tomorrow: Future Challenges for British Foreign Policy, edited by Douglas Alexander and Ian Kearns, Guardian Books, RRP£12.99, 224 pages

‘Britannia’ (c.1915) by Sydney Kendrick©Bridgeman

‘Britannia’ (c.1915) by Sydney Kendrick

Across the back of Daniel Hannan’s How We Invented Freedom and Why It Matters is a curious endorsement from Boris Johnson. The blurb starts conventionally enough, hailing the book as a “magnificent achievement”, before adding that Daniel Hannan “bestrides the Atlantic like a majestic combination of Winston Churchill and Piers Morgan”. Reading that, one might almost conclude that the mayor of London was taking the piss.

 Read more