Thursday, December 28, 2017

It Wouldn't be Christmas Without Bond

Christmas means Bond films, especially in that weird period between Christmas and New Year when we all lose track of what day of the week it is. Here are my seasonal top 5.

1. OHMSS. Go Lazenby. On Her Majesty's Secret Service stands apart from the rest not just because it's George Lazenby's sole outing as Bond. More important are a plot that works, Diana Rigg, and what will always be the most brutal ending to any Bond film. It's even set around Christmas.

Bunt: [A girl writes on Bond's leg under the table, to which Bond makes an awkward face] Is anything ze matter, Sir Hilary? 
Bond: Just a slight stiffness coming on... in the shoulder.


2. Goldeneye. The first Bond I saw at a cinema was Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye, a film that stylishly brought 007 back to life. As becomes clear as you read through the rest of this list, the plot of 007 stopping a space-based nuke is a tweak on a common enough story. Helping the film to such an elevated status is the N64 game, which remains one of the best computer games I've ever played.

Onatopp: You don't need the gun, commander. 
Bond: Well, that depends on your definition of safe sex.


3. Goldfinger. If you can excuse Sean Connery’s Bond wearing a towelling playsuit, then this is a classic Bond film with a nuke, the Aston Martin every man wants to own, and Pussy Galore. 'Do you expect me to talk?' 'NO, Mr Bond. I expect you to die.' But Bond still stops that nuke.

Bond: Ejector seat? You’re joking!
Q: I never joke about my work, 007.


4. Thunderball. This film always makes me think of jetpacks and the RAF’s delta-winged Vulcan bombers. Of course, a Vulcan bomber and its nuclear payload are stolen and used by SPECTRE to try and blackmail the West. And of course, it’s 007 to the rescue.

Bond: Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She's just dead.


5. Live and Let Die. Roger Moore's first outing as Bond is one of his best and will always be remembered for Baron Samedi, its racial politics, and 007 wearing flared jeans.

Bond: Lovers lesson number two; togetherness 'till death do us part, or thereabouts.
Solitaire: Is there time before we leave for lesson number three?
Bond: Absolutely. There's no sense in going off half-cocked.

As for the rest—

6. Skyfall. Bond blows up his family home and loses M. 

7. Casino Royale. 'I've got a little itch down there, would you mind?'

8. The Spy Who Loved Me. The one with the Union Jack parachute opening, the Lotus Esprit that's turns into a submarine, Jaws and lots of stolen nukes in stolen nuclear submarines. It's a bit of a nuke-fest.

9. Moonraker. 007 heads into space and Jaws becomes a good guy.

10. Spectre. Bond blows up MI6 HQ and fights his lost brother (of sorts) in a plot similar to the parody of Austin Powers.

11. Tomorrow Never Dies. Bond goes after a warmongering Rupert Murdoch.

12. You Only Live Twice. 007 destroys a big rocket base hidden inside a Japanese volcano and stops nuclear war.

13. The World is Not Enough. Villain steals some nuclear weapons to blackmail the West via threatening an oil pipeline. 007 to the rescue.

14. The Man with the Golden Gun. Christopher Lee as a $1 million a shot assassin.

15. From Russia With Love. Bond steals a Russian typewriter that can decode messages, probably ones about nuclear weapons. 

16. The Living Daylights. Bond goes to Afghanistan.

17. For Your Eyes Only. Bond retrieves a British typewriter lost at sea that can decode nuclear messages.

18. Licence to Kill. Bond quits to become a drug dealer.

19. A View to a Kill. An ageing Roger Moore stops a Nazi-bred experiment from using a nuclear weapon to destroy San Francisco.

20. Diamonds are Forever. Bond enjoys himself in Amsterdam and Vegas in order to stop a weapon that is essentially a glorified diamond necklace in space.

21. Quantum of Solace. Plot? I don't know, but no nukes in this one, although they would have helped. 

22. Octopussy. 007 stops a nuclear weapon going off while dressed as a clown.

23. Dr No. 'That's a Smith and Wesson, and you've had your six.' The first film is a classic but I find it tedious. 

24. Die Another Day. The one with North Koreans and far too much CGI.



Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Speaking on Brexit in New York, 5 February

I'll be speaking on Brexit to the LSE's New York alumni group next February. Details here and below.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bibliography of Brexit - Updated

I first compiled this list back in the summer. With the end of 2017 approaching I felt it was a good time to update the list. 

Britain’s relations with the EU and the rest of Europe have long fascinated authors. The result has been a wealth of books on the topic, to say nothing of the media and academic journal articles, and reports from think tanks, government, the EU and other European governments, businesses, charities, NGOs, law firms and consultancies.

Britain’s vote to leave has added more choice. As part of a recent book proposal I had to produce a list of books published on UK-EU relations since the referendum, and I thought it would be helpful to publish that list here and try to update it regularly. I focus here on books and not the far too numerous reports or articles.

I list the books here in alphabetical order with no divisions based on quality, background or political slant. If I’ve missed a book then please email me the details via timloliver@gmail.com Also, please take a look at my regularly updated Brexicon: A Dictionary of Brexit, which is also summarised here.  

Some of these books are included in my Brexit summer reading guide on the LSE's Brexit Blog.  Note: the following are listed in alphabetical order based on the surname of the first author.

Updated: 13 December 2017.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Events at SAIS Bologna and with Monash University

Things have been quiet on the blog for the past month because I'm finishing two projects. Two quick updates on speaking engagements from the past week.

Last week I spoke to Chris Hill's course on 'UK foreign policy in the context of Brexit' that he's running at SAIS's Bologna campus. Thanks to Chris and his students for an enjoyable class and an equally enjoyable dinner afterwards. 


Later in the week I joined a panel at EUI with Anna Triandafyllidou and Paul McDonugh where we spoke to students from Monash University, Australia, about the EU. Thanks to Ben Wellings for setting it up.



Monday, November 13, 2017

Elections Shaping the Future of Europe: Catastrophe Avoided, Challenge Accepted

Last Friday I took part in the CIDOB workshop 'Elections Shaping the Future of Europe: Catastrophe Avoided, Challenge Accepted'. Further details of the event can be found here





Friday, September 29, 2017

Video summary of The European Union in Crisis by (eds.) D. Dinan, N. Nugent and W.E. Paterson.

A video summary of my LSE Brexit blog book review of The European Union in Crisis, edited by Desmond Dinan, Neill Nugent and William E. Paterson (Palgrave, 2017). Full review: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2017/09/07/book-review-the-european-union-in-crisis/


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Britain’s Brexit Strategy: Lions Misled by Donkeys.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence was intended to move forward stalled Brexit negotiations. But as I argue in this piece for the Dahrendorf Forum, Britain has found itself running into numerous problems with Brexit because its strategy for exiting the EU has been a textbook example of failed strategic thinking.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Disappointment all round: experts respond to the Florence speech

The LSE's Brexit Blog ran a piece with analysis from me and several others on the speech Theresa May gave today here in Florence. My analysis is pasted below. 

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2017/09/22/disappointment-all-round-experts-respond-to-the-florence-speech/

Much has been made of Theresa May’s choice of Florence to deliver a speech intended for the rest of Europe. She was right to point to the historical links, not least in trade, that bind the UK and the rest of Europe together and of which Florence was once the heart. But it didn’t escape the notice of those attending that the venue was a dreary former Carabinieri training college with views of Florence’s main railway station. In a city overflowing with world-renowned first-rate venues she spoke in a nondescript, fourth-rate one that most in the city have rarely if ever noticed. The Italians hardly seemed to have rolled out the red carpet for her. Optics aside, did the rest of the EU hear what she had to say?
For those elsewhere in the EU not transfixed by the German elections, the response will be disappointment and a growing realisation that they need to prepare for a no deal, hard Brexit. Yes, the Prime Minister spoke of the need for a transition period, of paying contributions, of guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens, and dealing with the question of Northern Ireland’s borders. On closer inspection, however, there was nothing substantively new and she continues to try to bridge differences within the Conservative party rather than between the UK and the EU. Both sides will push forward with negotiations, but a plan B will now be on the rest of the EU’s agenda.
This all reflects how the UK’s overall strategy for Brexit has been a failure to set out realistic and clear ends, think of plausible ways to reach those ends, and configure the means to do so. The British government needs to reflect on what the ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu argued in the 5th century BC: ‘The victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory’. In other words: only seek a fight when you’re sure – or as sure as you can be – that you’re able to win. Those destined to lose get into a fight and then try to think of how to win. Having jumped headlong into Article 50 negotiations without a coherent strategy, Britain has struggled to find a way out of the fight it’s in. The prospects do not look good. That’s not something the EU or anyone should welcome.

Four Facts for Theresa May and the Brexiteers

A piece in the Wall Street Journal on Theresa May's Brexit speech today in Florence. 


Brexit is not magically remaking the European Union, and Britain needs a reality-based strategy...

https://www.wsj.com/articles/four-facts-for-the-theresa-may-and-the-brexiteers-1506021060#_=_




Thursday, September 07, 2017

Book review: The EU in Crisis

A review for the LSE's Brexit Vote blog of The European Union in Crisis, the latest contribution to deal with the multi-dimensional nature of the EU’s crisis. it offers a solid starting point to understanding a Union which over the past few years has been tested as it has never been before.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2017/09/07/book-review-the-european-union-in-crisis/


Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Is Brexit Lost At Sea?

This is the first in what will be regular pieces for the Clingendael Spectator, the new online magazine of the Clingendael Institute.

https://spectator.clingendael.org/en/publication/brexit-lost-sea


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Video review of Command and Control by Eric Schlosser

A video review of my 2014 book review of Command and Control by Eric Schlosser (published by Allen Lane in 2013). The written review - here - first appeared in International Affairs, the journal of Chatham House. The book tells the history of accidents and near-misses involving the US nuclear arsenal and is one of the most brilliantly written but profoundly disturbing books I have ever read. Events surrounding North Korea made me think this was a good time to create a short video review.