Whenever I see something written by Fred Halliday, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics, I read it. I am never disappointed, and always much smarter for it.
There is an inevitable gap that exists between the academic and the journalist. Between Noam Chomski and Robert Fisk, or Samuel Huntington and Anderson Cooper. I think of it as between micro-news, that of the day, or macro-news, the trends that create it. Few can bridge this gap, and that he can is what makes Fred Halliday so interesting.
So, I am very lucky that he writes a biweekly column for OpenDemocracy.net. On his “authors” page, there are links to all his articles. A selection of titles of these illustrates my point: “Iran’s revolutionary spasm“, “The Left and the Jihad“, “Crises of the middle east: 1914, 1967, 2003“, and “A 2007 warning: the world’s twelve worst ideas“. It was the last of these that first drew me to his writing, as he headlines the West’s ambivalence to the African AIDS crisis as the worst idea of 2007.
What strikes me about Dr. Halliday’s writings is how he relates the historic symptoms to current events. When we read this, it gives the incident or issue depth and provides a more complete picture.
We need more history in our media and journalism. My global awareness really began in the early-1990s, so Thatcherism, Reaganism, the death of Bretton Woods, and many of the factors that influence my life today are much more distant ideas. We need history, not as history isolated, but history within the context of our current events.