“Contingency is the characteristic of what might not have been or could have been different” Emile Boutroux*
The biggest constitutional change in recent British history is upon us on 31 January, but the question “Cui Bono?” remains unanswered. Who actually gains from BREXIT? In the wealth of commentary and advocacy since 2016, there has never been a clear answer.
The consensus amongst reputable economists is that removing ourselves from the huge market provided by the EU has a multitude of negative consequences for our manufacturing, agricultural, fishing and financial sectors meaning significant GDP losses over the next few years measured in ten of billions Sterling. Already the big corporates and banks are opening up or looking at office space in Frankfurt, Dublin and Paris. Farmers are being offered compensatory payments, assured only for five years. Severed supply chains mean intense pressures on future production, most obviously in the car and chemical industries. Sajid Javaid’s announcement that Britain has every intention of diverging from EU regulations and standards should come as no surprise. What would be the point of leaving the Customs Union were this not the case? Whatever our Little England Chancellor says, car makers and other manufacturers must now plough their own furrow, and comply with European regulations if they wish to sell without losses into the European market.
A trade deal with the USA is dangled as the great prize from BREXIT. But trade experts, and common sense, indicate that any UK trade deal with the USA, given the gross disparity of power between the negotiating partners, will be predominantly in the US interests. We may have to accept future higher rates of food poisoning or drug prices, or other negative consequences, if any deal is to emerge in the short time available before our proclaimed – idiotic – deadline. And do we expect that other economically powerful countries such as India and China are going to agree terms with an isolated Britain better than those we already enjoyed as a member of a 27 country trading bloc?
Will Hutton, a notable and eloquent economist, described BREXIT in The Observer as taking Britain further into a “vortex of decline”. The decline is not only economic but also in our capacity to “punch above our weight” in international affairs. Torn between kowtowing to Mr. Trump and sharing an effective, peaceful policy towards Iran with our European allies, we adopt a fanciful role - as mediator - a pattern set to persist during UK-USA trade negotiations. Given the likelihood of a second term for Trump now the Democrats have cornered themselves in impeachment proceedings, so easily flipped by a Republican Senate into a Trump triumph appealing to his political base, do we really want to tie our wagon to this meandering US wagon-train? And we will have lost all influence over the future policy directions of the EU.
Meanwhile back home BREXIT will, and already has, opened up a Pandora’s box of destabilising rival nationalisms within our four nation-state. The SNP push for a second referendum on independence mishandled could result in Catalan levels of disruption. Ulster Unionism and Irish nationalism retain considerable potential for renewed violence generated by both material issues of border checks and their psychological impact on the different communities. Years of uncertainty lie ahead with little sign of future benefit.
So no winners so far except perhaps Mr. Putin who at little cost to Russia damaged both the UK and a EU. And certainly not the EU itself which openly laments Britain’s departure.
But couldn’t it be argued that democracy is the winner? Don’t “the people”, or at least the 52% of them who voted Leave, handed responsibility for the UK’s future in 2016, finally win? If you believe that a divided and damaged country is worth the price of honouring a narrow popular vote, partly influenced by systematic misinformation, thus weakening representative parliamentary democracy, yes.
There are some notable beneficiaries from Britain leaving the EU. A number of small to tiny blocs of elected parliamentarians and individuals, the ERG and the DUP, Farage, Rees-Mogg and Johnson drove the country to this point in the absence of an effective Opposition. The latter have in common that they represent the emergent global phenomenon of the Entertainer-Trickster politician. While we are laughing they are – Bolshevik fashion – riding the accidents of history and directing rising public anger and hatred of the Establishment - which they magically manage to dissociate themselves from - for their own personal advantage. The ERG and DUP simply got lucky on the electoral arithmetic and were able to swing government in their direction and lever advantage with a handful of votes, at least for a while. This does not correspond to any palatable idea of what a democratic culture looks like. A gain for democracy? I don’t think so.
Are the Entertainer-Trickster politicians witting and unwitting agents of transnational capital as Will Hutton suggests? So the only winner becomes transnational capital? Well maybe. But we should be suspicious of proposing abstract nouns as historical causes particularly of something as bizarre as national self-harm. It seems much more, as Harold Macmillan probably didn’t say, a matter of “events, dear boy, events”. In other words accidents and contingency: an arrogant Etonian believing he had the 2016 referendum in the bag, coinciding with the other Party leader, a hangover from the 1970s, who believed in belonging to a Socialist States of Europe rather than the EU, as a pamphlet at that time proclaimed. Then his Etonian nemesis, Mr. Johnson, at the 11th hour gambling correctly on Leave winning, espousing the cause that furthered his leadership ambitions. Alexander Hamilton’s question is pertinent: whether human societies can establish “good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.”
Does anyone win from BREXIT? Except for a few, for example, currency speculators, investors in the tax-avoiding, data-hoarding IT companies, in other transnational enterprises, and in arms sales, nobody wins. So there we are. We just have to get on with it and take the self-inflicted punishment. No requiem for REMAIN. But fortunately, thanks to Harry and Megan, we have more important things to worry about.
*Quoted in Charles de Gaulle’s personal notebooks, taken from Julian Jackson A Certain Idea of France Penguin 2018
See also "Remain Lost but who Won? TheArticle 30/101/20
islam & democracy in sisi's egypt
President General Abdul Fattah El-Sisi of Egypt arrives in Britain today for the UK-Africa Investment Summit. In 2019 Egyptians voted in a referendum for an amendment to the 2014 new constitution enabling him to stay in power until 2030. Safeguards for religious minorities, notably Coptic Christians (10% of the population, the largest Christian community in the Middle East) remain, but discrimination against them continues while sectarian attacks go unpunished.
The Egyptian Arab Spring deposed the dictator, Hosni Mubarak. Then there was a brief period, 2012-2013, when Muhammad Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, became President after winning Egypt’s first free and fair democratic elections as leader of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), formed on 21 February 2011. It was an important moment for Islamic democracy with which Christians with a tradition of Christian Democracy might find some sympathy.
For a brief while a modus vivendi prevailed between Morsi and key elements in the military. Then the military detained and charged him with terrorism. He later died of a heart attack in court during his trial. The Muslim Brotherhood which formed his Party was declared a terrorist organisation. Most of its first tier leadership were imprisoned, others went into exile. Many members have been killed or arrested and charged in Military and State Security Courts. In protests against the military take-over in August 2013 Human Rights Watch believe up to 1,000 protesters in two of Cairo’s main squares were killed in one day by Egyptian security forces and innumerable others wounded.
To all intents and purposes, for the last decade military power has prevailed whether overtly, or covertly. Or put in another way the elected Muslim Brotherhood never achieved full control of the state.
Beneath the stereotype of a conflict between a monolithic, unchanging “political Islam” and Western secular democracy lies a variety of different dynamics. The complexity of this Islamic story has been quickly lost as different interlocutors shoe-horn it into their narratives.
Religious experience is interpreted in different kinds of narrative. The experience of pious Muslim Brothers in Egypt is no exception. But there are some general lessons to be drawn. Fruitful, positive, development within religious traditions comes from an experience of encounter and dialogue. Most of the key leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood never experienced genuine dialogue; they were locked up long before they tried to form a functioning government.
Without agreeing with them, the religious ideas in play within the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood deserve a measure of respect and understanding. People of all faiths want to see their values inform, and transform, the societies in which they live. Wars and political upheavals have in the past accompanied this quest or, at least, generated it. Christian democracy in Europe, for example, came as a reaction to the dual totalitarianisms of Communism and National Socialism. It proved remarkably successful in Germany, significantly flawed in Italy. The nature and implementation of democratic politics has determined the contours and dynamics of the European Union, and Christian social and political thought has played a significant part in its origins.
Hope that the Arab Spring might also be a historic turning point, acting as mid-wife to political reforms and new forms of engagement with politics within Islam was dashed. For a time, a dialogue between a secular vision and a commitment to Islamic values in society seemed possible, as once Christian democrats imagined a future in a democratic post-war Europe. This neglected the different contexts in the Middle East and North Africa, out of which progressive change was expected to happen: polarised societies, social turmoil, revolutionary mobilisation and upheavals, sectarianism, military interventions, and the allure of religious extremism.
As a terrain of political activity, the state and civil society need to be considered together. Much of the discussion today amongst Muslims, as amongst Christians, works within this dual framework, considering appropriate ways of introducing a religiously motivated agenda about family life, social and economic justice, both nationally and internationally. People of faith behaving in – what might be deemed - a political way in civil society look different to a secular world from religious people seeking governance based on religious principles. Christian Democracy in Germany was religion-lite compared with the religious engagement of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Though both were attempts to bring a religious heritage and values into governance by democratic means.
Context and history matter. The Muslim Brotherhood inherited an authoritarian structure, and a leadership with closed ranks, after repeated periods of repression. Its social conservatives, inveterately cautious to ensure survival after periods in prison, had very limited experience of national government.
Authoritarian decision-making alienated most of its reformist leaders who found themselves marginalised. But, in terms of narrow electoral democracy, or at least the formation of a government representing majority opinion, the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood reflected popular views. Urban and rural poor were, in the main, comfortable with a patriarchal, socially conservative agenda in the name of Islam. According to an authoritative Pew Foundation survey, 85% of the population saw Islam as a positive force in politics. Within a year of Morsi’s winning 13.2 million votes, 51.7%, of the total, he was overthrown by the military with widespread popular support .
The gradualist politics of the Muslim Brotherhood proved to be neither a monolithic bloc forcing conservative Islamic values on an unwilling majority, nor an effective carrier of a new Islamic democracy modelled on Christian democracy. Unlike Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, it failed to confront a binary opposition between secular and religious worldviews by dialogue. It was several years from evolving into a modern political party with timely compromises and careful crafting of its public statements.
The abiding question was gradualism towards what? Above all it was impossible to know whether the commitment of individual leaders to democracy was merely tactical –- or represented a serious evolution in Islamic political thought. Most likely, irrespective of intentions, the former was planting the seeds of the latter.
Lumping the Muslim Brotherhood in a catch-all category “political Islam” that includes Da-esh and Al-Qaida – as often occurs - does not help analysis of its significance. Though internationally connected the Brotherhood differs from country to country. Its cruel fate in Egypt does not make General El-Sisi a welcome visitor.
TRUMP & IRAN: WHAT NEXT?
The shock of Qasem Soleimani’s assassination has passed. The commentators have chewed it over in measured or apocalyptic tones. The remnants of his body have been buried. Even his death cost lives, those of the mourners crushed at his funeral. Iran duly fired missiles into two large American air-force bases in Iraq to honour the deceased; in the aftermath 176 lives were lost as Revolutionary Guards shot down a Ukrainian plane by mistake. What have we learned? What comes next?
On the American side, a diagnosis of the US President’s mental state, sociopathic narcissism, has gained in credibility. Nothing inconsistent with that in the last few weeks. Mr. Trump has a need to draw attention and adulation to himself from his adoring Republican base. Hence the drone-strike outside Baghdad. Hence the promise of war crimes avenging a litany of Iranian-backed killing, and those hostages taken by Iranian revolutionaries some forty years ago. Behold the great timeless Warrior-Defender fierce in anger. But, at the drop of a few Iranian missiles, the Great Defender turns into the Great Deal-Maker, the peace-seeking statesman flanked by rows of grim generals weighed down with medals and the need to look fierce and peaceable at the same time. And hence the bullying of an ally to comply with his misguided policy towards Iran and tear up international agreements. The wonders of the consistency of inconsistency as strategy. Can we expect a future call to Rouhani for a Geneva meeting?
On the Iranian side we have Ayatollah Khamenei’s variations on ‘Death to America’ alongside a diplomatic attempt by the Iranian Foreign Minister to draw a line under tit-for-tat acts of aggression. Despite the cruelty, theocracy and the theology of martyrdom of the Shi’a clerics who are in power, Iran’s policies have a cold rationality. The overwhelming military advantage of the USA was reflected in the calibrated and limited nature of Iranian military retaliation.
It would be a mistake to imagine that this limited response indicated cowardice or that Iran’s “stepping down”, as Mr. Trump called it, indicated defeat and abandonment of Soleimani’s foreign policy of defence by proxy-aggression. The vast acreage of war cemetery along the road from Tehran to Ayatollah Khomenei’s mausoleum, with their poignant photographs of the deceased, the terrible death toll of the Iran-Iraq war, tell a different story: a nationalism hardened by a history of foreign control and invasion into a dreadful level of human sacrifice. A Hujjat-ul-Islam sitting next to me at dinner in Tehran, breaking into a harsh, hacking cough, reminded me of how apt the comparison was between Northern Europe 1914-1918 and Iran 1980-1988. “I was gassed in the war”, he said in an offhand explanation. And the gas chemicals had come from Europe while support for Saddam Hussein had come from the USA.
Many Iranians will place Soleimani’s death within the Shi’a worldview in the religious context of martyrdom. Others wanting to see an end to the velayat-al-faqih, clerical rule (by legal experts), will place his assassination in the context of Iran’s history, a proud Persian culture and now a fervent, secular nationalism. For Soleimani was, after all, a hero of the Iran-Iraq war. Trump can speak of the American hostages taken in 1979. Iranians can speak of the UK and US-instigated 1953 coup that deprived Iran of democracy under Mossadegh, and the Shah’s torture chambers. History and Religion matter. Neither Trump’s strong points.
The country has effectively two – interacting - parallel governments with President Rouhani seeking negotiation and reform and the Supreme Leader and the Revolutionary Guards opposing any compromise. There are Iranian clerics, even in the throbbing heart of clerical Qom, who have come to see the adoption of political office as the poisonous root of corruption and want out of politics. The streets of Iran fill up intermittently with citizens who want freedom from the Puritanism, cruelty, human rights violations and foreign adventures of the clerical regime, only to be gunned down and imprisoned.
The path to reform is long and hard. US intervention under Trump, giving the Revolutionary Guards a martyr and national hero, thwarting the considerable achievements of the JPCOA nuclear negotiators and making Rouhani look like a naïve fool, undermining his government with devastating sanctions, have blocked this path for a long time to come. The great strategic thinker is gone. The strategy survives.
There are three ways things can go. Business as usual: continuing chaos in the Middle East with growing Iranian desperation at sanctions and a grim determination not to be one of the only military powers in its region that lack nuclear weapons. JPCOA was a deal reneged on by the US, not by Iran; it was essentially a matter of ‘we’ll end sanctions if you end the uranium enrichment required for nuclear warheads’. Trump was determined on personal vengeance to reverse anything Obama had achieved. Or there is preferred path of the Washington hawks, Netanyahu, and the US military-industrial interests who seek more and more pressure and provocations that risk triggering full-scale war. Or there is what Trump pledged and Iran wants: to get troops out of the Middle East’s wars, and Iran’s reformers to gain in prestige. Lets hope Trump’s narcissism is best served by being the Great-Deal Maker.
See TheArticle.com "Iran: What Next? 07/01/2020
metro-mayors & the labour party
Sadiq Khan, Andy Burnham, Dan Jarvis, the three Labour mayors of London, Manchester and Sheffield are national figures. Why, as staunch members of an imploding Labour Party, supporters fleeing, opponents jeering, are they respected by a public with recognised contempt for politicians? The short answer is that the ‘Metro-Mayors’ – Jarvis the newcomer - to the best of their and their cabinets’ ability, improve the experience of big-city life. But they can only achieve what is possible within the limited budget given them by central government. No mean feat. London has 8.5 million people, Manchester 2.7 million and Sheffield City Region 1.4 million. And over the last decade their funding has been cut to the bone by government.
The more complex answer, as Vernon Bogdanor recently argued in TheArticle, is that they are accountable and can give voice to the people who directly elected them. They also embody and express pride in their cities, promote a positive urban identity, offer hope, and show dignity in a country that has made itself the laughing-stock of Europe. Of the ten city-regions of George Osborne’s ‘Northern Powerhouse’ eight have directly elected mayors (there are 23 in all in England). Mayors do make a difference. Take Hackney in the 1980s: filthy streets, council estates neglected, schools failing, parks and public places a mess. In 2002 Mayor Jules Pipe, was directly elected and slowly turned the borough round. It’s now a great place to live. It’s even fashionable – which is a growing problem as incomers drive up property prices.
Millennials grew up with much talking and legislating by national government about the role of local authorities: notably the Localism Act 2014, Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016, though it was reform of the Greater London Authority under Tony Blair in 2000 that brought plans for a Metro-Mayor of London, first considered by John Major, into reality. The London mayoralty gave us ‘Red Ken’ and, along with Have I got News for You, launched Boris Johnson into the political limelight dangling on a wire, buying water-cannons which couldn’t be used and those nostalgia-trip Route Master buses - but which stopped you jumping on and off - while pouring money into an eco-fantasy bridge over the Thames. It later emerged that he was also funding a pole-dancing entrepreneur who happened to be his girlfriend. But, to Johnson’s credit, and that of the cycling lobby, he continued to cycle and persevered with the provision of cycle lanes. From City Hall to Downing Street proved to be a short cycle ride.
If, as Bogdanor suggests, the focus of devolution should be local Councils, opportunities and threats open up under a Johnson government. The immediate threat is that London could be punished for its strong support for REMAIN and for being a Labour stronghold. If the northern swing constituencies now ‘cloth-cap Conservative’ are to get their reward and not revert, somewhere else is going to feel the pinch. Rumoured reduction or abolition of London allowances for teachers, for example, would have dire consequences.
The picture of London as the heartland of smashed- avocado-on-toast breakfasting cosmopolitans queuing at Waitrose is a deceit. There is plenty of not so hidden poverty. Drugs dealing and gang-crime don’t come out of thin air. ‘Posh’ Islington has the 4th highest level of child poverty in the country (47.5% - some 20,000 children). If the allocation of greater funds and attention to the ‘North’ is to be more than a political ploy, it must avoid taking from the poor of London to give to the poor in towns which have begun to vote conservative.
The opportunity for wider social and economic change begins with asking what is London doing right? How and why has an urban culture developed that is mostly colour-blind and at ease with ethnicity? About 90% of residents of Hackney felt “everyone got along together” in a recent survey. Courtesy and consideration for the old and disabled is widespread.
Yes, London has key national and international institutions, excellent comprehensive schools and health service. And yes, London attracts the ambitious, often the best, from around the world, and some get rich. Under all its mayors it has had strong leadership on racial issues even under terrorist attacks. So why not learn from it. Support the people who keep this city moving, who promote a vibrant economy, and try with inadequate resources to remove the face-to-face dark web of drug, knife and gang crime across its streets. In hard budgetary terms give elected mayors much more control over their city’s expenditure and its allocation.
Reform of any kind is difficult. Nobody dares to revalue the decades-old Council tax bands because owners of houses whose value has risen fear having to pay more. Room for mayors to manoeuvre is small. A Prime Minister interested in more than political advantage would encourage its expansion. But to build creatively on the social and economic achievements of Greater London, not denounce its citizens as a cosmopolitan elite, gives Mr. Johnson no electoral advantage at all.
Meanwhile, Mr. Corbyn has reverted to “resistance”. Aux Armes, Citoyens. The Labour Party will henceforth ‘resist’ centralisation and Tory Rule. But, in the real world, it has been leaders such as Khan, Burnham and Jarvis doing the resisting. They have created an urban governance model in opposition to centralisation and populism, doing the most they can within the limits set by their political opponents, retaining the notion that politics is about gaining power to work for the common good. They have resisted the Corbynist vision of power required principally for winning conflicts within the Labour Party.
So how should we describe Labour cities such as London, Manchester and Sheffield? The Labour Party Diaspora? Social democracy devolved? Urban democratic pluralism? We wouldn’t need border patrols along the M25. But if London were to gain just a little of the autonomy of a city-state – it has a larger population and economy than many UN member states – Labour members should stay to cheer not flee and jeer.
See TheArticle.com 07/01/2020
A New Decade. The Labour Party in special measures. The Conservative Party donning a cloth-cap. Times are a-changing. Or so it seems.
The un-electable Mr. Corbyn and his un-believable pledges, unprecedented mistrust, and overwhelming national frustration, combined to give Boris Johnson his big majority. It took over three and a half years, from the June 2016 Referendum to formal withdrawal, now certain this January. Yet from our application for EEC membership to formally joining in January 1973 took much longer.
Peter Hennessy tells the story in his Winds of Change: Britain in the Early Sixties. General de Gaulle firmly blocked our entry in 1962, with a tearful Prime Minister Harold Macmillan privately denouncing him as the new “Napoleon”. For Macmillan failure to gain entry to the EEC was a tragedy. For us achieving withdrawal from the EU was a farce.
The two parties’ rhetoric was reversed in the early 1960s. The Labour Party under Hugh Gaitskell’s leadership opposed entry. “It means the end of a thousand years of history”, he declared at Party Conference. The UK would become “a province of Europe”. Not “a vassal state” - near enough though. The impact of joining the EEC on the Commonwealth loomed large. But the strategic argument has remained constant: fear of a politically federalist Europe versus benefits of economic membership. Plus Ça Change….
Peter Hennessy is Britain’s most sophisticated and entertaining political historian, both a respected academic, broadcaster, and active crossbench peer. Winds of Change is his third book in a chronological trilogy, the first starting with the Atlee government in 1945. Some background social history is sprinkled into most chapters. But his passion is for the history of government, political process and personalities, employing a range of sources: a fly on the wall during Cabinet meetings, international negotiations and the inner workings of the political parties. Armed with Macmillan’s diary and newly opened national archives, we have an insider’s view of the great transformative events of the early 1960s: the Berlin blockade; Cuban Missile Crisis; Decolonisation; Britain’s struggle for EEC entry; Trident and CND; Wilson and the “white heat of the scientific revolution”.
There is something endearing about Macmillan and Hennessy’s portrayal of him. The reader discovers a different, healthier, British political culture. Decent men admire each other’s oratory, disagree about how to move forward but, on the whole, agree about fundamental values and the society they want. Hennessy loves this Britain with a romantic intensity, even with its dissenters and mavericks like Enoch Powell.
There is a sharper edge when it comes to describing the Labour leader, Harold Wilson, just as there is to the man himself, amiable demeanour and pipe notwithstanding. Here is the 1964 Labour Party/Wilson’s Manifesto on Polaris - our nuclear deterrent at the time: “It will not be independent, and it will not be British and it will not deter”. Nonetheless, Wilson as Prime Minister kept Polaris reneging on his pledge to renegotiate the Nassau agreement with the USA which ‘shared’ Polaris - manufactured in the US - with the UK. Two recurrent themes emerge in the book: the inextricable link, mainly but far from exclusively in Conservative thinking, between Britain’s image as a global power and its ownership of nuclear weapons, and its corollary, the almost secondary importance of these weapons for defence.
Despite holding up the Commonwealth as a fig-leaf covering the loss of Empire, it was the Bomb that kept us at the top table. Macmillan, though, obsessed by the danger of nuclear war, had internalised the picture of the mushroom cloud that hung over the 60s. As Hennessy points out, apart from his steady-as-she-goes steering of the ship of state, Macmillan’s greatest achievement was the negotiation of a Partial Test Ban Treaty between the UK, USA and the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Cuban missile crisis. We have foolishly lost his salutary anxiety about nuclear war today.
What we haven’t lost is the taste for a good sex-scandal. Like any red-blooded male who lived through the Profumo affair, Hennessy enjoys telling the tale: a Minister of Defence sharing a “call-girl” with a Soviet agent posing as a diplomat, and their joint contribution to Macmillan’s decline and downfall, an inglorious story of sex, spies and toffs. Who could not enjoy?
Hennessy is too famous a writer for severe editing; some joyous but diversionary, anecdotes survive publication. Here is a Hennessy BTW holding up the flow in a passage dealing with Lord Denning’s report investigating whether there had been security leaks during the Profumo scandal. “Denning, by the way, spoke in what was usually called a rich Hampshire burr, a sound rarely heard on the early post-war bench (though it was made famous in the cricket commentary box by that poet amongst journalists, John Arlott)”. In an instant, you are back in the 1960s, watching TV, or tuning in to a sotto voce conversation in the Athenaeum; De Gaulle, Hennessy confides, declared that the Profumo scandal “taught the British a lesson for trying to imitate the French”.
Why is Lord Hennessy so important? Because he provides a political plumb-line. To the left of him you’re on the Left, to the right, you’re on the Right. The trouble with this simple test is that the ground shifts. And we are in the midst of an earthquake at the moment. But for those who were discovering politics in the early sixties, Winds of Change is an enriching journey down memory lane with an erudite, entertaining guide. Readers below the age of seventy will re-learn that the past is another country, though with many recognisable landmarks.
In 1962 both President Kennedy and Prime Minister Macmillan read Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August detailing the miscalculations that lead to the First World War. Hennessy implies that the book influenced them during the Cuban Missile Crisis, if only as a warning. His Winds of Change may help future generations in crises to come. At the very least, Hennessy’s gentle judgements and search for the truth will become a poignant and, I hope, influential memory.
See TheArticle 17/12/2019