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“The greatest nation on earth”? Obama’s victory speech viewed from overseas

Level Playing Field, The Hindu, 17 November I woke early on Wednesday morning to check the results. First, I was relieved. Romney had failed, and more importantly the bigots and obscurantists who backed him had failed. Then I watched Obama’s victory speech, and what I felt was something other than relief. The speech was dubbed… Read more

At the Olympics: Hype vs Reality

The Hindu, August 4 2012 I enjoyed my afternoon at the Olympics, sitting in my public lottery assigned £50 seat at the ExCel, with a fine view of the men’s boxing. And I enjoyed it not least because I was finally able to watch the sport itself without the surrounding hype, the layers of commentary…. Read more

Come on you Ghana, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Korea, Italy…

The World Cup and the pleasures of neutrality The Guardian, 8 June 2010 With the football World Cup pressing hard on us and England mania on the rise, spare a thought for those of us who are not England supporters. Though we go largely unnoticed in the England-centred media coverage, we’re here and we’re a… Read more

Becoming British, at last

The Guardian, 16 February In my case, the past is literally “another country”. I spent my first 18 years in the US, moved to Britain in 1971, and have been ensconced here ever since. But I applied for British citizenship only a few months ago. It’s been a curious exercise. I’ve spent a good deal… Read more

The Iron Click: American Exceptionalism and US Empire

[This essay was published in 2007 in the book Selling US Wars, edited by Achin Vanaik, Olive Tree Press.] I am so terrifed, America, Of the iron click of your human contact. And after this The winding-sheet of your selfless ideal love. Boundless love Like a poison gas. DH Lawrence, “The Evening Land”, 1923 “The… Read more

Thomas Paine: restless democrat

CONTENDING FOR THE LIVING Red Pepper, June-July 2009 “This interment was a scene to affect and to wound any sensible heart. Contemplating who it was, what man it was, that we were committing to an obscure grave on an open and disregarded bit of land, I could not help but feel most acutely.” The occasion… Read more