Author Archives: James R Moore

James wrote this article on behalf of the Liberal Democrat History Group, which publishes the quarterly Journal of Liberal History

Has ‘Zelensky’s 300’ changed Europe?

The parallels are difficult to avoid.
A continent divided by petty political rivalries attempts to appease a mighty foe. A small state whose leader faces internal opposition stands alone. The world’s largest military force threatens at the gates. A charismatic hero and a small body of hopelessly outgunned warriors resolve to fight to the death.

Most schoolchildren are familiar with the story of Leonidas’s 300 Spartans at Thermopylae taking a last stand against a tyrannous Eastern Empire. Even if they didn’t learn about it in school, they are familiar with the Zack Snyder and Fran Miller film of 2006.

Tragically, today the story seems to be playing out anew in Ukraine.

The Battle of Thermopylae demonstrated that tyranny could be challenged. But the real significance was that it created a belief that freedom was something that could only be defended if free people and free states united and were prepared to make sacrifices. The actions of the 300 at the ‘Hot Gates’ inspired the Greek world to unite and eventually defeat the Persians at the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC the following year.

The heroism and example of the Spartans inspired others – just like the Ukrainian defenders of Snake Island did a few days ago. Indeed, the response of the Ukrainians to the Russian request for surrender in the face of death was like something out of the pages of Herodotus – “Russian military ship – Go Fuck Yourself”

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 15 Comments

The Afghanistan Evacuation: Could the ‘Cairo Plan’ of 1946 have offered a solution?

Britain has stood in shock at events in Afghanistan, but how far has our party offered any meaningful solution to the evacuation crisis?

While we can and should blame US foreign policy failings, is there anything our government could and should have done in the last two weeks to relieve the situation?

This is not the first time Britain has faced the need to organise an emergency evacuation of Westerners and their allies from a foreign capital. There are many historical parallels – for example, could the ‘Cairo Plan’ of 1946 have pointed to a way of managing the evacuation much more effectively?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 10 Comments

Lloyd George and Spanish Flu: In Sickness and in Health

The most treasured possessions inherited from my grandfather are undoubtedly two blue volumes that have been with me for most of my life, The War Memoirs of David Lloyd George. Lloyd George was my grandfather’s political hero, and so he became mine too. As a teenager, I read the Memoirs avidly, and they were probably the reason that I became a historian. They were, of course, very much a personal view and not necessarily to be relied upon as an accurate account of all events. But they were the words of Lloyd George.

One of the remarkable things about the Memoirs is that, while dealing with grave matters and costly military campaigns, they are largely silent on Lloyd George’s brush with death. The recent illness of Boris Johnson has inevitably drawn comparisons with Lloyd George’s contraction of ‘Spanish flu’ in September 1918. Lloyd George was the same age as our current Prime Minister and, like Johnson, had taken over the premiership at a time of a national crisis. Lloyd George’s illness was particularly poignant. Just as the Liberal premier was on the verge of a great victory at the end of a brutal war, his own life was in serious danger. At the time, few knew how grave matters had become.

Posted in Books and Op-eds | Tagged , and | 15 Comments
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