Old Cold War Stuff

The Guardian’s Martin Kettle writes about the public release of official files (heavily redacted) of British intelligence’s surveillance of historians Christopher Hill, AJP Taylor and Eric Hobsbawm saying the monitoring of the academics shows how deeply penetrated academia was by the Cold War.

The penetration wasn’t all one way. He surely should have noted why Communist Party-linked Oxbridge academics prompted the concern (rightly) of the prosaic minds of MI5: and it can be summed up in four names, Philby, Burgess, Maclean and Blunt. Also, my own expose a decade ago with David Rose of the HVA Stasi’s recruitment targeting of UK academics provides some more context. Although it does strike me as a bit mad to target the three for so long.

On a side note: I remember literary scholar Q.D. Leavis hurling the door open to me for a tutorial at a her home in Cambridge the day after art historian Anthony Blunt was exposed as the “fourth man” and waving The Times in my face angrily and saying: “Of course, he was the fourth man. Look at his weak chin — a chin of a traitor.”

Bring Back UK Sedition Law

Listening to a recent posted video of the crude Anjem Choudary calling for the forceful overthrow of the established political order in the UK it is hard not to conclude that the 2010 abolition of the old sedition laws rather than their updating was foolish.

 

 

And Aleppo?

From my Daily Beast dispatch this weekend:

“A battle is taking shape that could decide the fate of the Obama administration’s strategy for defeating ISIS, and it’s not around the Kurdish town of Kobani. It’s for the future of the second biggest city in Syria, ancient Aleppo, besieged on three sides by the forces of the tyrant Bashar Assad and the murderous zealots of the so-called Islamic State holding part of the other side.

For the relatively moderate Syrian militias to whom the Obama administration already is funneling arms, the neighborhoods of Aleppo where they still hold ground are a last redoubt inside the country. And in the next few hours or days their last supply line to the outside very likely will be cut.”

You can read the full report here.

The Things They Say

On October 15 the Islamic State released a video featuring several foreign fighters, including a British national named Abu Abdullah. The men say coalition airstrikes against IS are considered cowardly by the jihadists because they avoid face-to-face confrontation. Yes, it is so more manly cutting the throat of a journalist or aid worker or enslaving a woman who doesn’t share your religion.