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The Primacy Of Foreign Policy Pick of the day

Peace has been “an occasional luxury and never a guarantee” down human history. For the past seven decades we have been lucky enough to enjoy relative peace in the West — the “pax Americana”. But this has lulled us into a false sense of security. We may be living in a “peace bubble”, the collapse of which could ruin us all. “The single most important thing we can do to boost long-run American growth is to get foreign policy right”

The Unfairness Of Families

Interview with philosopher Adam Swift about family values and inequality. “The mechanisms that create the unfairnesses between children are mechanisms that go pretty much to the heart of family life … It’s informal interactions like the reading of bedtime stories that are the ones that generate the real inequalities”. Should an egalitarian state restrict the things that parents can do for their children? (2,480 words)

The Great War And The Twentieth Century

Highly perceptive short review of David Reynolds’s Long Shadow, looking at how the First World War engendered the Second World War. British left-wingers argued in the 1930s that WW1 “had been caused by the arms race and by [Britain’s] commitment to a system of Continental alliances”. This mistaken view encouraged an “atmosphere of appeasement” which led in turn to the “even more terrible conflict” of WW2 (740 words)

Bollywood’s Window On To India

India’s film and television industries are largely responsible for the country’s new mood of “insistent cultural nationalism”. Serialisations of the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics in the 1980s “awakened a global Hindu identity” built around “family, food, religion and nationalism”. Later films added money to the mix, teaching that “Indian values heal the pain and confusion of wealthy but uprooted Hindus” (720 words)

Best Science Books Of 2014

Leading the list are Alan Lightman’s Accidental Universe, an essay collection; Diane Ackerman’s Human Age, a history of humanity; Manuel Lima’s Book Of Trees, which is not about trees but about our ways of organising knowledge into “branches”; E.O. Wilson’s Meaning of Human Existence; and Roberto Trotter’s Edge Of The Sky, a book about the universe written using a vocabulary of one thousand commonplace words (7,970 words)

Kurdistan: A Nation In Waiting

Kurdistan manoeuvres towards independence. The threat of Islamic State has forced a temporary closing of ranks with the Iraqi government in Baghdad; but the Kurds doubt that Iraq can be saved. “I ask every person I meet whether Kurdistan will still be part of Iraq in a year, and the consensus view is that it will. When I put the timeframe at five years, however, most Kurds tell me that breaking away is far more probable” (4,550 words)

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