The Spectator

28 November 2015

The pretend war: bombing Isil won't solve the problem

Britain, France and America are in a protracted fight against Islamic radicalism. Pity our leaders have no idea how to win it





The pretend war: why bombing Isil won't solve the problem

The deployment of our military might in Syria will exacerbate regional disorder – and it will solve nothing

Angela Merkel, Barack Obama and David Cameron attend a meeting during the G20 Summit in Antalya, on November 16, 2015 (Photo: Getty)


How to defeat Isis, by a retired British commander

Russia and Nato should work in ­cooperation, not competition. But bombing alone will not be enough

(Photo: Getty)


Worry less about what to call Isis, and more about how to fight them

By arguing about rhetoric in response to the Paris attacks, we make the western navel the centre of the action

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 07.28.53


What Muslims think

The Sun survey that suggested Muslims sympathise with terrorists was misleading

(Photo: Getty)


In defence of Jeremy Corbyn

Naive he may be, but he’s consistent – and at least he’s thinking about the future



‘I was tossed out of the tribe’: climate scientist Judith Curry interviewed

For engaging with sceptics, and discussing uncertainties in projections frankly, this Georgia professor is branded a heretic

(Photo: Getty)


How hard should we fight Black Friday?

A meditation on the latest imported festival in the calendar of late capitalism



Sir Ian Botham is a hero – and a fool

It was saddening to realise that the god of my childhood still thinks like a child

Stetson-clad Phil Heard leads riders on the moor


The best way to explore Dartmoor? On horseback

I’ll willingly admit that the moors of south-west England are not my natural territory. Mention the word ‘Dartmoor’ and my…

The Week

(Photo: Getty)

Leading article

Osborne's ringfence cycle

By now, George Osborne had hoped to have completed his austerity programme. Instead, he finds himself making what is, still,…


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, announced, as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, plans for two 5,000-strong…



Nick Robinson’s diary: What dog will donate its vocal cords to me?

Plus: Brian Redhead; warmongers and appeasers; the first rule of the BBC Survivors Club



The many fights over the Lord’s Prayer

Plus: energy use in the age of climate change; home ownership under the Tories; the world’s rarest creatures


Ancient and modern

Benjamin Clementine hasn’t really dedicated his prize to the Paris victims — yet

The true meaning of dedication requires a kind of self-sacrifice not normally found at awards ceremonies

(Photo: Getty)

From The Archives

Capitalism for all

From ‘Public loans and private savings’, The Spectator, 27 November 1915: In the nature of things there is no reason for…



Letters: There is plenty of forgiveness in the Quran

Also: Wadham’s PC past; Ken and Flashman; Tintin’s universal appeal; a school wheeze; and magic mushrooms


James Forsyth


The spending cuts George Osborne flatly refused to make

Sajid Javid and Liz Truss proposed reductions at Business and Environment that were knocked back by the Treasury

Spectators notes

The Spectator's Notes

Charles Moore’s Notes: cheap trickery in the Economist’s assisted dying campaign

Plus: Horace Vernet’s North African paintings; charity fat cats; how a Cambridge college refused to treat me as a lady

Rod Liddle

Rod Liddle

Why don’t the French bomb Belgium?

As a Muslim cleric has to deny saying it’s OK to eat your wife, the BBC and the liberal establishment just cringe with appalling liberal bias

Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris

Has the Archbishop of Canterbury forsaken God?

The horrible events seem to have prompted Dr Welby to question his faith

Hugo Rifkind

Hugo Rifkind

Get ready: these climate change talks might actually do something

My hope is that the conference in Paris next week will focus less on tub-thumping, more on practical solutions



Gorbachev and Reagan sign the historic treaty on 8 December 1987 eliminating Soviet and Us intermediate-range and short-range nuclear missiles

Books feature

The four men who averted the Apocalypse

Reagan, Schultz, Gorbachev and Shevardnadze are the giants bestriding Robert Service’s magisterial account of the end of the Cold War



Erica Jong's middle-aged dread

Erica Jong’s entertaining Fear of Dying focuses on the fearsome juggling act of being a daughter, parent and grandparent at 60

Dusty Springfield at the Royal Variety Performance in 1965 (Getty).


Everything you always wanted to know about Sixties pop —and more

LSD, Vietnam, civil rights and the Cold War are all linked to pop music in Jon Savage’s solemn tome about the explosive decade

Walter Crane and James Silvester Sparrow, detail of Psalm 148, window (1896), Holy Trinity Church, Hull, Yorkshire. From Arts & Crafts Stained Glass, by Peter Cormack (Yale)


From cave painting to Maggi Hambling: the best Christmas art books

Andrew Lambirth’s choice includes Berger, Bacon, Bown, and Bawden among many others

Aleister Crowley (Getty).


K2’s fatal attraction

Mick Conefry describes the occultist Aleister Crowley as being among many sent mad by the treacherous mountain

Illustration by Jane Ray for Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Heartsong


The best children’s authors of 2015 — after David Walliams

Melanie McDonagh’s recommended picture books feature (outside Noah’s Ark) a greedy pig, an Ancient Egyptian crocodile and some practical cats



The best short story collections — from childish gabbling to jaded nihilism

Short stories from Ali Smith, Nicholas Shakespeare, Lucia Berlin and David Gates, chosen by Ysenda Maxtone Graham

Ivor Novello as a ‘sympathetic Ripper’ in Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog


Jack the Ripper unmasked again

Bruce Robinson argues passionately (and a little madly) for his new candidate for the Ripper: a popular musician called Michael Maybrick


Two wheels good: Belgian racing cyclist Eddy Merckx on the track, 1970

Arts feature

The bicycle may have triumphed over the car but it’s far from perfect

There are some wonderful bikes on show in Cycle Revolution at the Design Museum but there’s too much slavish adoration too

‘Lady at the Virginal with a Gentleman’ or ‘The Music Lesson’, 1662–5, by Vermeer


Artistic taste is inversely proportional to political nous

It’s possibly why Tate Britain’s Artist & Empire exhibition is so thin — and why the Queen’s Gallery display of Dutch masters is so rich

Anna Devin as Alcina and Nick Pritchard as Ruggiero in ‘La Liberazione di Ruggiero’ at Brighton Early Music Festival


Has there ever been a better time to be a lover of Baroque opera?

In this early music round-up, the Wanamaker Playhouse, Solomon's Knot, Francesca Caccini, WNO and Christian Curnyn's Rameau come out on top

Stagey and mannered: Cate Blanchett as Carol


I wanted to beat it with a stick and cry, ‘Get on with it!’: Carol reviewed

Previously I had thought you can’t have too much of Cate Blanchett, but there is a heck of a lot of her here - and she’s mostly stagey and mannered



Why is there no one at the National Theatre preventing these duds getting staged?

Evening at the Talk House is like witnessing a drunk trying to set fire to an ice cube, while Waste is three hours of moral tribulation performed inside a giant Hovis loaf



I’m a Celebrity is like The Simpsons: good if you’re thick; even better if you’re not

The interplay between celebrities in extremis offers such endless dramatic variety and tension you could almost be watching Shakespeare

The Jodrell Bank Observatory (Photo: Getty)

Food and Drink


Food and Drink

Christmas is always a blast at our house

It’s the culinary mishaps and disasters that make the celebration so memorable


Food and Drink

Enjoy the food, not the Twitter feed

Sharing your meals on social media can ruin the pleasure you care trying to record


Food and Drink

How to raise and, perhaps, even kill your own Christmas turkey

It’s tastier, healthier and more ethical than buying from a supermarket


Food and Drink

How I made my own pear cider: it’s called Fred’s Perry

It’s not as hard as you think to turn an unwanted garden windfalls into drinkable fizz

Ham it up: scents of home-smoked meat now waft across suburbia

Food and Drink

A cure for Christmas: the pleasure (and perils) of preserves

There’s a fast-growing trend to smoke, pickle or dry-cure your own festive food

They watched and learned: Suntory’s Hakushu distillery

Food and Drink

I hate to admit it, but the best Japanese malts taste very much like . . . whisky

Andrew Marr­ hates to admit it, but a good Japanese single malt can rival the best Scotch

Caption (Photo: Getty)

Food and Drink

The perfect Christmas hamper

The Spectator team pick the choicest ingredients from this year’s crop of festive baskets


Food and Drink

Talking ’bout milk and alcohol

We don’t value our high quality milk near enough in Britain... and dairy cocktails are one way to really appreciate it


Food and Drink

English Cooking: Discover the true value of pie

Christmas is the ideal time to revive traditional English recipes


Food and Drink

The office party should not be hard work

Keep it short, keep it simple and don’t make it too Christmassy

But what sherry shall we leave him?

Food and Drink

Join the preservation society... drink fortified wine

Sherry, port and all the rest are too good to leave in the drinks cabinets of teetotallers



High life

It is political correctness, not maniacal bigots, that will end civilisation

The liberal media are more concerned about the reaction to the ruthlessness of Isis than about the ruthlessness itself


Low life

The GP charged around to my side of the table and roved her hand all over my pubic area

Later that afternoon, armed with a wide-mouthed empty plastic bottle, I went to see Mary Magdalene’s skull


Real life

The sabs hate us because we’re patriotic, top-rate tax-paying, law-abiding scum

They dream of the day Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister and puts an end to wealth creation and good management of the countryside


Long life

How do you explain events that even adults can’t understand to a child?

Maybe ‘we’ve got flowers’ is as good a response as any to the Paris atrocities


The turf

Essential racing books for Christmas

Horses’ souls, betting coups and SOE heroes: Robin Oakley’s selection of anecdotal treasure troves




Last weekend saw the qualifying matches for the Tollemache Cup, the inter-county championships for teams of eight. I didn’t play…



Chess Maecenas

Last week saw the death of the city financier Jim Slater. He was famous in chess circles for joining Henry…


Chess puzzle

No. 389

Black to play. This position is from Basman-Keene, Slater Tournament, Southend 1968. How can Black quickly gain a decisive advantage?…



The Winter’s Tale

In Competition No. 2925 you were invited to submit a short story entitled ‘The Winter’s Tale’. There were lots of…



2239: ITOIX

The unclued lights (all of two or three words, some hyphened and all confirmed in Chambers) can be arranged into…


Crossword solution

To 2236: Alphabetical jigsaw

First prize Mrs M. Purdie, Ceres, Cupar, Fife Runners-up Nick Hussey, Overton, Hampshire; K. Parekh, Wayne, Illinois

Toby Young

Status anxiety

Fight terror the Indiana Jones way, not the Bridge of Spies way

I’m no fan of Spielberg’s ‘serious’ films — his schlockier work had the best approach to the bad guys

Spectator sport

Spectator sport

The Davis Cup will be one final flourish for Andy’s Barmy Army

Murray may be a one-man band but a British victory in Ghent is all-but assured

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I protect my sick husband from his friends?

Plus: how to applaud while drinking champagne, and rock-star etiquette



Sexy Fish: not so much a restaurant as a museum of London’s rich

Richard Caring, Asian fusion’s very own Bond villain, has created his most ludicrous place yet

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

The rise of the man bun, the Mancan and man boobs

Just at the moment, in the gender-role wars, ‘man’ is attached to more and more things