Personal Freedom And History

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In the first episode of Series Five of Homeland, the high-ups in the US Government ask CIA operative Peter Quinn to tell them how their strategy in Syria is going.

He asks them to tell him what their strategy is and he will tell them whether it is working. It is his introduction to tell them they have no strategy, but their enemy has.

They ask for his recommendation and he says to bomb the city of Raqqa to a parking lot. The answer is unacceptable because it is not humane to bomb a city where the enemy is mixed in among the civilian population. That’s TV.

Real Life

In 2011, Obama said that Assad must go. When ISIS came on the scene, Assad suddenly didn’t seem such a bad option, and Kerry has made some ambiguous remarks since. Now Russia is bombing in Syria and Putin claims they are doing a much better job than the US Air Force has done, and it seems to be true.

The US has protested, but I wonder whether they might not just be glad that someone else is bombing Raqqa into a parking lot for them.

Of course, there is another war going on. It is the war of how to describe Islamic fundamentalism and ISIS. Tony Blair says it is a clash of civilisations. I think GW Bush saw it the same way.

The current thinking in the US is probably to treat ISIS as criminals and deny them ideological credibility. Which is the more dangerous strategy? Time will tell.

Personally, I don’t think very much can stand in the way of personal freedom. Once people see it and get a taste for it, they want it. There is no turning the clock back. It is how the USA won the Vietnam War.

Ernest Hemingway – Required Reading for Young Writers, 1934

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At an exhibition of Hemingway’s life that I saw in New York last year, I copied down this list.

Hemingway had written this required list for young writers at the request of a young writer.

Here’s the list:

The Blue Hotel by Stephen Crane
The Open Boat by Stephen Crane
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Dubliners by James Joyce
The Red and the Black by Stendhal
Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
Hail and Farewell by George Moore
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Oxford Book of English Verse
The Enormous Room by E.E. Cummings
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson
The American by Henry James