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Has the Third World War already started?

Most historians agree that the Second World War started on 1 September, 1939.

Some will argue that the real date was 23 August, when Molotov and Ribbentrop signed the pact whose secret protocol divided Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.

Some others will pick an even earlier date, such as the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss of Austria or the occupation of Czechoslovakia. 

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Aye or och, no? Scotland decides, Rifkind waffles

Long since gone are the days when one could hope to read serious analysis in The Times.

The best one can expect nowadays is some intelligible thoughts, however wrong, shallow and ill-informed. Yet Hugo Rifkind consistently frustrates even such modest expectations.

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Russia, the champion of international law

President Obama’s plan to bomb IS forces in Syria doesn’t meet with Russia’s approval.

The cynics and Russophobes among you might suggest that Russia feels that way because Syria’s president Assad is a client of long standing, and he’ll be upset to see Nato bombers diving on his territory.

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Père Lachaise: honouring and mocking at the same time

The other day I spent a leisurely afternoon strolling through Père Lachaise, the great Paris cemetery.

It may be the ghoul in me, but I like cemeteries in general and historical ones in particular. Or else it’s the historian in me: stones speak. Dead bodies bring history alive.

Here’s the tombstone of Chopin, erected by his friends who made sure it specified that ‘Fred’s’ father was French.

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Another shocking revelation about Diana

A new book about Prince Harry says things about his late mother that I found deeply disturbing.

Nil nisi bonum… and all that, but I was never a great admirer of that hysterical, manipulative and cunning woman. She was admittedly very good-looking, but then so was Eva Braun.

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Do the Scots know what they’re doing?

Now that one poll has returned a slender lead for the ‘Yes’ campaign, there’s much excitement on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall.

Suddenly the previously improbable seems possible, and everyone is asking pointed questions under the common umbrella of ‘what next?’.

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Putin highlights English pundits’ moral and intellectual failings

Don’t ring for the men in white coats yet.

I haven’t suddenly fallen in love with Putin, and neither do I think he’s qualified to pass judgement on any serious matters.

What shows how deeply we’ve sunk into a hole isn’t anything Putin has said. It’s what he does and what he is. And specifically how we respond to what he does and what he is.

I know this parallel has been flogged to death, but the last time so many Westerners got things so cataclysmically wrong was in 1938.

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Lies, damned lies and UN statistics on sexual violence

As a credulous sort, I’m prepared to believe anything people tell me: the cheque is in the post, Islam is a religion of peace, Damien Hirst is an artist – you name it.

So much more the reason for me to accept as gospel the results of the latest UN study on sexual violence.

The greatest survey of its kind ever undertaken, it covered 190 countries, which by my calculations means more or less all of them.

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The Torygraph gloating at the suicide of the Tory party – how very confusing

Not so long ago the spectrum of our mainstream press shone brightly enough to be clearly visible.

The Mail stood for the Thatcher brand of oxymoronic conservative radicalism, with a slight American accent overlaid on its lower-middleclass lilt.

The Telegraph enunciated the traditional God, king and country Toryism, and its accent was born in top public schools, only to be flattened out in later life.

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Beheadings in Iraq: consider the source

Religion of peace is getting ever so slightly out of hand, wouldn’t you say?

Suddenly a seditious question crosses one’s mind: can it be that perhaps Islam does have something to do with IS monstrosity, if only a teensy-weensy bit?

No, surely not. In the aftermath of the twin towers collapsing, George W. Bush explained that Islam isn’t to blame for anything Muslims do, even if they claim to be acting in the name of Allah.

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