A French 75 gun in action at Cape Helles in 1915. Image: By Central News Agency [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Spectator at war: Dispatches from the front

21 November 2014 8:30

From The Spectator, 21 November 1914: The papers of Tuesday and Wednesday contained two exceptionally interesting despatches from an eyewitness at Sir John French’s headquarters. These descriptive narratives have improved… Continue reading


Kajaki review: never have I seen a more gruesome depiction of war

19 November 2014 11:07

On September 6th, 2006, a mortar unit from 3rd Battalion, 3 Para, defending the Kajaki dam over the Helmand River in Afghanistan, spotted an illegal road block set up by… Continue reading

A Dutch slave ship arrives in Virginia, 1619 (Engraving from Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Happy ‘anti-slavery day’ to Clapham Christians, et al

18 October 2014 17:29

October 18 is ‘anti human-trafficking’ day by 2007 Act of European Parliament; along with ‘anti-slavery day’ by 2010 Act of UK Parliament. So there’s that, for the 29.8 million people worldwide estimated… Continue reading

The Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, Bavaria, shortly before its official opening in 1876. Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Spectator at war: Bayreuth on the eve of war

23 August 2014 8:00

The Spectator, 22 August 1914: Inter arma silent Musae; but Bayreuth on the eve of the war showed very few signs of the coming cataclysm. It is true that on… Continue reading

German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg (1856 - 1921) and Count Lerchenfeld of Bavaria.  (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

The Spectator at war: The scrap of paper that was worth a war

22 August 2014 8:00

From The Spectator, 22 August 1914: THE Times of Wednesday published a piece of news in regard to the final interview between Sir Edward Goschen, our Ambassador at Berlin, and… Continue reading

Over the top -- British soldiers in the trenches. Image: Getty

When should Britain go to war?

17 August 2014 10:42

There’s been a lot written this week about whether or not to fight the Islamic State in Iraq. This time the consensus among Spectator writers is that Britain should. There’s… Continue reading

Palestinian men search through the rubble of buildings following an Israeli air strike, that killed 18 people of the same family in Gaza City, on July 13, 2014. Image: THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images

If Britain was being shelled, as Israel is being now, how would we respond?

13 July 2014 10:41

Glaring, the ennui over Israel. The way we drag our eyes to the page, and sigh, and want to read something else. Sympathy is hard. Even anger is hard. It’s… Continue reading

Mother Agnes in Damascus. Image: Getty

Mother Agnes has pulled out of the Stop the War conference. And yet she would have fitted in so well

18 November 2013 11:30

The Stop the War Coalition is a curious organisation. It isn’t so much opposed to war as has accrued a sorry reputation for supporting the other side in every conflict it has pretended to… Continue reading

Kerry And Hagel Testify At Senate Hearing On Use Of Force Against Syria

In London, John Kerry Promotes World’s Smallest Syrian Whirlwind

9 September 2013 12:25

There’s little need for people opposed to launching any kind of attack on Syria to expend much energy doing so when those tasked with making the case for reminding Bashar… Continue reading


Flodden 500 Years On: The Flower of Scotland, Lying Cold in the Clay

9 September 2013 10:22

As best I can tell it is not permissable to talk or write about the battle of Flodden without first asking why it is not talked about more frequently? But of course… Continue reading

Image: Getty

‘To sack Jesse Norman over a moral issue like whether to support war is outrageous’

4 September 2013 11:58

Jesse Norman’s departure from the policy board hasn’t come as a huge surprise to many Tory MPs: I was with one after the vote who was subjecting his twitter feed… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Stop mentioning the bloody war!

2 September 2013 14:42

Seventy-fours years ago today we stood shoulder to shoulder with our closest ally, issuing an ultimatum to a Fascist dictator who had overstepped a red line. And the rest is… Continue reading

UN inspectors inspect corpses in a hospital outside Damscus. Photo: YouTube/AFP/Getty Images

On Syria, parliament has voted to have no policy at all.

30 August 2013 11:29

A muddle and a cock-up. For all the talk of parliament reasserting itself, last night’s vote on Syria showed a parliament that voted, twice, to oppose actions it actually supports.… Continue reading


Syria is not Iraq (but at least the Iraq War had a clear objective)

28 August 2013 15:47

A decade ago, I was sure that going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do. I persisted in that belief for a long time too, well beyond… Continue reading

Marie Duplessis, shortly before her death

The week in books – a 19th century career woman, the courtesan of the camellias, Vasily Grossman and why France is turning into the USA

16 August 2013 13:40

The forecast is bad. Football is back. Gloom strikes. Cure the malaise by reading the book reviews in this week’s Spectator. Here’s a selection: Richard Davenport-Hines introduces the celebrated American novelist… Continue reading

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British Troops Use Desert Bases To Suppress Taliban Insurgents

War from the ground up and the limits of modern government?

14 August 2013 10:23

Emile Simpson’s War from the Ground Up, hailed by no less an authority than Michael Howard (the historian, not the politician) as a Clausewitz-for-our-times, is on my “to read” list. So I… Continue reading

Tony Blair Meets With British Troops in Basra

Max Hastings, Mind-Reader

2 July 2013 12:48

Max Hastings is one of the foremost military historians in the English-speaking world. His multi-volume history of the Second World War is magnificent. Until recently, however, I had not known… Continue reading

Image: Getty

Syria: We must arm the moderate opposition to keep out extremists

21 June 2013 11:38

On 31st March 1854, the radical leader John Bright made the first of his great speeches opposing the Crimean War. “I am told indeed that the war is popular”, he proclaimed,… Continue reading


Just Give War A Chance: Obama’s Realpolitik Approach to the Syrian Civil War.

17 June 2013 16:31

Boris Johnson makes a strong case in today’s Telegraph that even if the west wanted to intervene in the Syrian civil war the point at which is was plausible to do so… Continue reading

Image: John Slinger

A mass grave and a refugee camp for Syrians – Iraqi Kurdistan teaches that military intervention can work

10 June 2013 17:16

Two experiences stand out from my recent visit to the Kurdistan Region in Iraq: meeting refugees fleeing Syria at the Domiz refugee camp; and seeing a weeping son uncovering the… Continue reading


Syria: What has changed to make western intervention a necessary or realistic policy?

6 June 2013 11:01

Peter Oborne is back in his David-Cameron-is-not-Disraeli-he’s-mad mode this week. He accuses the Prime Minister of losing the plot over Syria. As always, the ghosts of Iraq stalk this debate… Continue reading

US President George W. Bush (R) listens as British

The Chilcot Inquiry is a pointless endeavour. Tony Blair’s critics will never be satisfied.

30 May 2013 12:47

I never really saw the point of the Chilcot Inquiry and nothing that has happened in the years since it first sat has persuaded me I was wrong to think… Continue reading

Soldiers take a cigarette break at base Kalsu on July 17, 2011 in Iskandariya, Babil Province, Iraq. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Fobbit by David Abrams – review

10 April 2013 9:58

Fobbit, by David Abrams, is an attempt at describing a wartime tour from different perspectives, including soldiers and support personnel. Chapter by chapter our viewpoint rotates within this cast of… Continue reading

Field Marshal Alan Brooke's diaries will keep our 21 year old interested and provide invaluable advice about leadership and working with difficult superiors. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

21 books for a godson, pt. 2

26 March 2013 11:30

This post is the second half of a list of 21 books that a man might give to his godson on the occasion of his twenty-first birthday.That is novels done.… Continue reading


No, the Syrian civil war is not "Obama's Rwanda"

28 February 2013 15:30

Today’s Question To Which the Answer Is No is asked by Will Inboden over at Foreign Policy. To wit: Has Syria Become Obama’s Rwanda? There are many reasons why it… Continue reading