Does Political Violence Work? #imaginebelfast

QUB pro-vice-chancellor Professor Richard English delivered a 40-minute talk on the topic of Does Political Violence Work? during the recent Imagine! Belfast festival, looking at terrorism by non-state and potentially state actors as well as drawing some conclusions about the disjunction between why campaigns start, why people join up, what is achieved and how we post hoc rationalise what happens.

Time cannot silence the Voices of the Somme

At the start of July I posted on Slugger O’Toole to introduce Somme Voices, a month-long series of daily tweets in remembrance of that dreadful World War One battle. I’m returning to Slugger to bring the Somme Voices project to a close with a final poem. The reason is that I’d like to quote this one in its entirety and Twitter is a less-than-perfect medium for something of considerable length. It does, however, give me the chance to make a …

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Listening to the quiet voices of The Somme

As a child I was forever fascinated by a random collection of oul ‘things’ in a rarely-approached cupboard at home. It was the sort of place where unflattering school reports and old medical cards lay alongside broken spectacles and stringless yoyos, the theory being that they might some day be read, repaired or resurrected. There were a few medals – the full relevance of which I never discovered – but what especially caught my imagination was a bloodstained Nazi armband, …

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Armistice Day – a catalyst for peace?

REMEMBRANCE AND REMEMBERING: Yesterday when I visited the cemetery in Aldergrove where members of my family are buried, I stopped at the grave of a neighbour (aged 22), “inhumanly taken” as the headstone described his death during our conflict. I had forgotten his mother died just over a year after his murder.

Who was Robert Capa?

If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough. —Robert Capa On 25 May 1954, the distinguished war photographer Robert Capa stood on a landmine in Indochina and was instantly killed. Though a pioneer of war photography, he wasn’t the first such photographer to be killed. You may not have heard his name, but you have probably seen his photographs. He made his name initially during the Spanish Civil War: Death of a Republican Soldier During WW2 he landed …

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Two centuries on, how Special has this Relationship been?

It must rank as one of the most spectacular early Christmas presents ever.  Exactly two hundred years ago, representatives of the British and American governments met in the Flemish city of Ghent to agree a Peace Treaty, ending the increasingly-misnamed War of 1812.  OK, it did not mean that all the fighting was yet over: the two countries’ armies would meet in one final battle in New Orleans just over two weeks later, in which the Americans comprehensively thrashed their …

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Friday thread: Perhaps ‘War’ brings a properly social benefit after all?

Today’s Friday thread is a talk delivered yesterday at the RSA in London by Ian Morris, author of a new book which posits the controversial idea that, over time, war is actually good for us, not necessarily as individuals but as societies. The presentation is fairly short but it was around this part I think Morris gets to the hub of his thesis… Violence is an evolved adaptation. Pretty much every species has its own way of using violence. Each …

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Red Cross reaches besieged Homs. You can help.

All war is terrible. But there is something particularly terrible about a city under siege. Think of Derry, Leningrad, Sarajevo. That’s been the fate of Homs in Syria since Spring 2011. It was there that reporter Marie Colvin was killed by Syrian government shelling in February of this year. Who knows how many residents, whose names we don’t know, have shared her fate before and since. Most of the city is now under government control but fighting continues in certain …

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Korea on the brink

The BBC report on North Korea’s latest antics. North Korea has fired artillery shells across its western maritime border, prompting return fire from South Korea, reports say. Dozens of the shells landed on a South Korean island, witnesses say. A television station said some houses on the island were on fire, and Yonhap news agency said that four South Korean soldiers had been hurt. South Korea has issued its highest non-wartime alert in response to the incident, the defence ministry …

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