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History

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By an accident of history, the Chilcot inquiry on the Iraq War is appearing at a critical moment in British history. The war was the first great test this century of the ability of the British powers-that-be to govern intelligently and successfully and one which they demonstrably failed. The crisis provoked by the vote to... Read More
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The 100th anniversary of the Easter uprising of 1916 saw the beginnings of a deeper appreciation of the achievements of Sir Roger Casement who was hanged as a traitor in Pentonville prison on 3 August 1916. Over the following century he has never lacked for notoriety, famous as an Irish patriotic martyr, but discussion of... Read More
Ahmed Chalabi, who died of a heart attack in Baghdad on Tuesday aged 71, was one of the ablest, most maligned and misunderstood figures to play a central role in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the shaping of modern Iraq. Chalabi was a man of the highest intelligence and mental agility, who attracted many... Read More
A 1970 strike in Ireland provoked an admirable outbreak of ingenuity - Greece should take note
Television reporters stand in front of the shut doors of banks in Athens and speak as if a few days more of bank closure brings the Greeks that much closer to catastrophe. Media coverage dwells obsessively on the theme that for Greece it is five minutes to midnight, but somehow midnight never comes. Shuttered banks... Read More
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A journalist who witnessed the events of 1989 from a Soviet perspective looks back on a surreal period when attempts at moderate reform quickly an uncontrollable momentum of their own.
I went to Moscow as a correspondent in 1984, just as the Brezhnev generation of leaders was beginning to die off or be replaced. There was nothing to suggest that Soviet control of Eastern Europe had only another five years to run and that the Soviet Union itself would disintegrate a few years later. In... Read More
Shambles on the Tigris - a general’s complacency and an abject surrender
In the British military cemetery at Kut on the Tigris River 100 miles south of Baghdad, the tops of the tombstones used to be only just visible as they stuck out of a swamp full of small green frogs. A broken cement cross rose over a reed bed in the middle of the slimy water.... Read More
Ignore recent revisionism. The Norsemen carried out atrocities to equal those of the German SS
Journalism is said to be the first draft of history, but it is often disappointing to find that the second or third drafts, by historians, move little further in establishing the truth about what happened. Errors made by reporters in the heat of the moment, instead of being eliminated, have become part of the authorised... Read More
W.E. Johns's tales about the often derided but intrepid fighter pilot have been unfairly maligned
A tidal wave of commentary on the First World War is about to break as we approach the 100th anniversary of its outbreak. Growing up in the 1950s, it was accounts of the Second World War that dominated my reading. I began to pay real attention to what had happened between 1914 and 1918 only... Read More
Trying to protect a Korean journalist brought Henry Cockburn into conflict with the Japanese – and his own Whitehall masters
I spent last week in South Korea helping make a television documentary about my grandfather, Henry Cockburn, who was British Consul General in Korea shortly before the First World War. He arrived in 1905, just as Japan was occupying the country and extinguishing Korean independence, for a posting which was to change his life and... Read More
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The prime minister meant to spray German troops if they landed on British beaches
A hundred experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which on Friday won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the United Nations are assembling to dismantle and destroy Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons including 1,000 tons of sarin and mustard gas as well as chemical mixing equipment. All are to be eliminated by... Read More
Denying Military Disasters
As a correspondent in Washington 20 years ago, I received occasional calls from local television stations on the anniversary of the burning of the White House by a British force in August 1814. The reason they wanted a comment was because the raid was jointly led by my distant ancestor, Admiral Sir George Cockburn, who... Read More
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Patrick Cockburn
About Patrick Cockburn

Patrick Cockburn is the Middle East correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent. He was awarded the 2005 Martha Gellhorn prize for war reporting. His book on his years covering the war in Iraq, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq (Verso) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for non-fiction.


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