Laleh Khalili

Laleh Khalili is a professor of international politics at Queen Mary University of London.

Stupid Questions: Battlefield to Boardroom

Laleh Khalili, 24 February 2022

Even more enticing than the life lessons of corporate executives are war manuals redeployed as business handbooks. For a time, Sun Tzu’s Art of War was required reading on MBA programmes. But even better than a millennia-old war manual is the wisdom of a charismatic four-star who can quote Marcus Aurelius, spout corporate diversity bromides better than Robin DiAngelo, and tell stories of hunting al-Qaida operatives with some of the toughest motherfuckers on earth. As an unnamed Deutsche Bank executive told the Washington Post, ‘senior management is much more likely to listen to military commanders because they’re cool and they’ve killed people than to a McKinsey guy in a pinstripe suit.’ The business world’s ardour for the generals translates into five-figure speaking fees and lucrative positions on corporate advisory boards. According to the same Washington Post article, Stanley McChrystal has made millions from sitting on corporate boards, including that of an engine manufacturer which defrauded the US Marine Corps by selling them armoured vehicles at an inflated price.

How to Get Rich: Who owns the oil?

Laleh Khalili, 23 September 2021

Rotterdam​ city centre sits a few miles inland from the North Sea, its skyscrapers and office buildings lining the New Meuse River, a tributary of the Rhine. A ferry tour takes you past ship repair yards, grain silos, terminals receiving coal and iron ore for Ruhr Valley industries, and even a massive orange juice storage facility that receives its cargo from Latin America. If you want to...

Growing Pains: New Silk Roads

Laleh Khalili, 18 March 2021

In​ a short story called ‘The Chinese Road’ written in the 1970s by the Yemeni-Ethiopian Mohammad Abdul-Wali, a Yemeni man befriends a Chinese construction worker on the new road from the port of Hodeida on the Red Sea, ‘cutting through the mountain’, to the capital, Sanaa, more than two hundred kilometres away. Abdul-Wali describes the competent and friendly Chinese...

Gargantuanisation

John Lanchester, 22 April 2021

The shipping industry has worked hard to hide itself from view, and we have colluded with it. We don’t want to think about how that 90 per cent of everything got here. The labour of an entire industry...

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