Thomas Meaney

Thomas Meaney is a fellow of the Max Planck Society in Götttingen and sits on the NLR editorial board.

Albania​ was Stalin’s favourite example of total insignificance in world politics. Its fate was barely discussed at the wartime conferences of the Allied powers. Against considerable odds, and with little outside help, the partisans and communists led by Enver Hoxha and Mehmet Shehu forced the German army from their country in 1944, and afterwards held off a series of US and British...

Like Ordering Pizza: Before Kabul

Thomas Meaney, 9 September 2021

The corruption of the Afghan government is dwarfed only by that of the American operation itself, which constituted a massive wealth transfer to US defence industries. Will the Taliban behave? They have entered a very different Kabul – one with beauty salons and shopping malls – from the one they left twenty years ago. In the interim, they have developed the ambition to run a state, which will require a basis of legitimacy outside their own constituency in the country, and international support of some kind. In the first days after they took Kabul, the Taliban made a show of paying respects to Shia Afghans on the holy day of Ashura, taking questions from female journalists at press conferences, relaying their offer of an amnesty to the opposition despite having apparently executed some Afghan soldiers earlier in August, and setting up checkpoints to counter spoiler attacks, which were not long in coming (IS and its local affiliate IS-K are major liabilities for the core of the Taliban leadership that wants to take the reins of what passes for the state). 

Among​ the ‘new nations’ that became independent in the 1960s, Singapore makes the least pretence of a break with colonial rule. Streets and roads bear the names of some of the most savage grandees of the empire – Havelock, Neill, Outram. The bicentennial of 2019 celebrated the arrival of the city-state’s ‘founding father’, Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles,...

But I wanted a crocodile: Castro in Harlem

Thomas Meaney, 4 February 2021

It would hardly​ be possible, Eric Hobsbawm once said, to imagine rebels better designed to appeal to the New Left than Castro and his comrades. Despite occasional sneers from Third World elders (Nasser dismissed them as ‘a bunch of Errol Flynns’), Western liberals were just as infatuated as radicals. The New York Times published an admiring three-part profile of Castro from his...

Warfare State

Thomas Meaney, 5 November 2020

If​ you’ve been following White House briefings and mainstream US media over the past four years, you could be forgiven for thinking that Trump has radically rewritten US foreign policy. In fact, despite Trump’s pledges to extract American soldiers from foreign conflicts, troop numbers have barely fallen overall and have risen in the Persian Gulf. The administration has been...

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