The number of Trump administration officials who could be called ‘very competent’ is small, but the former deputy national security adviser Matt Pottinger is one of them. A private school boy from Massachusetts who learned to speak excellent Mandarin, Pottinger was once the Wall Street Journal’s correspondent in China (where he was punched in the face in a café by someone he described as a ‘government goon’).

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12 June 2024

Macron en feu

Jeremy Harding

Emmanuel Macron’s announcement a few hours after the polling stations closed on Sunday night that he would dissolve the National Assembly left his opponents – and many followers – wondering what the point could be in calling a snap election for the end of this month, with a second round, where necessary, on 7 July. Macron pitched his decision to the electorate as a way of bringing the recent ‘fever that has taken hold of public and parliamentary debate’ to a head – and presumably nursing the patient back from delirium after the crisis. But his chances of success are low.

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11 June 2024

Blood and Numbers

Selma Dabbagh

‘I can start with saying it is an unbearable situation in terms of dignity,’ my friend Marwa says in one of the voice notes she leaves me from her tent in Deir al-Balah. ‘Today you caught me on a good day. Today I want to talk. It is not usually easy for me to express this’ – the sound of a drone cuts in – ‘pain.’

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10 June 2024

Do you speak Estonian?

Samuel Hanafin

The next legislative elections in Estonia will be in 2027, and it would be a stretch to gauge the future balance of power from the results of yesterday’s European elections. Voter turnout is much lower than in national elections. Isamaa has emerged as the clear victor and is now well-positioned, if it stays its current course, to steer future coalitions further to the right. More nationalist posturing at the expense of Estonia’s Russian-speaking communities will probably follow.

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7 June 2024

‘The Restless One’

Marina Warner

When I was invited by the LRB to introduce Miguel Gomes’s film The Restless One, the first part of his trilogy The Arabian Nights (2015), at the Garden Cinema, I didn’t expect what I found.

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6 June 2024

Battle of the Caribbean

Colin Douglas

The Auxiliary Territorial Service in Jamaica, 1944. Photo © Alamy

Connie Mark, who joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in Jamaica (the women’s branch of the army) remembered the attacks: ‘If a boat was torpedoed (as happened off St Lucia) when you were expecting oil, then the island would be short of oil … I had a friend who went to England to take her piano finals … and when she was coming back her ship was torpedoed.’

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5 June 2024

Desperate v. Stolid

James Butler

If the ITV debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer was exceptional, it was only for its inanity. Two men, neither of them with much stage presence or prone to thinking on their feet, traded prepared barbs and crowbarred in their key messages. Each made sure to name audience members, Janet – or was it Paula? – as an empathetic consolation prize for dodging their actual questions. Be honest about when – or if, or how – we’ll fix the NHS? Not on your life.

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