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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. Should we restrict the things that parents can do for their children, in the interests of fairness? “The mechanisms that create the unfairnesses between children are mechanisms that go pretty much to the heart of family life … Informal interactions like the reading of bedtime stories are the ones that generate the real inequalities” (2,480 words)

The Great War And The Twentieth Century

Highly perceptive short review of David Reynolds’s Long Shadow, arguing that the First World War was a war of choice for Britain; that British reaction to the First World War led, through appeasement, to the Second World War; and that this history of mass slaughter on the Continent turned Britain against further European involvement, even when it assumed the peaceful shape of the European Union (740 words)

Bollywood’s Window On To India

To understand India better, watch more films. Bollywood knows and nurtures the changing national mood. Serialisations of the Ramayana and Mahabharata in the 1980s “awakened a global Hindu identity” built around “family, food, religion and nationalism”. The popular films of the moment show how “Indian values heal the pain and confusion of wealthy but uprooted Hindus”, particularly in the United States (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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