Category Archives: militaries

From Tegart forts to shipping containers

Christian Science Monitor reports that the British are building watchtowers along the Lebanese-Syrian border: “A lonely fortified watchtower built from stacked metal shipping containers, topped by a bullet-proofed observation booth, and protected from shrapnel and assaults by 18-foot-high walls of … Continue reading

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Oil and logistics

Fascinating piece from Guernica magazine about how more and more ex-soldiers and military logistics firms are going into the oil business: This concentration of former service members owes partly to the fact that military training makes many uniquely suited for … Continue reading

Posted in capital accumulation, infrastructure, logistics, militaries, oil, political economy, transport | Leave a comment

The Bloody Business of War

I discovered something interesting that somehow I had managed to miss all those years ago about the massacre at Karantina… Years ago, I wrote in my first book (which was based on my PhD research) which also included stories about … Continue reading

Posted in capital accumulation, infrastructure, labour, logistics, Middle East, militaries, ports, shipping conditions, transport, war | Leave a comment

How the (closure of the) Suez Canal changed the world

The segment of my January/February container-ship journey I am most anticipating is passing through the Suez Canal.  Here is what Horatio Clare writes about his passage through Suez: Unfinished wars lie under all our horizons.  The chart on which Chris plotted our … Continue reading

Posted in infrastructure, Middle East, militaries, political economy, ports, shipping conditions, ships, transport, war | 2 Comments

Hitching a lift on a US aircraft carrier

The Super Hornet bombers that dropped 8 500-pound JDAM bombs on Islamic State forces in Iraq had flown from the aircraft carrier USS George H W Bush, afloat in the Persian Gulf.  It is one among at least 5 Navy ships and 3 ships … Continue reading

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“…for rivers and seas are not to be regarded as disjoining, but as uniting”

From Hegel through Schmitt to Foucault and onwards, there is a way of thinking about sea and land not as inert backdrop but as factors determining politics, history and the transformation of the world. Hegel’s The Philosophy of History is geographically deterministic … Continue reading

Posted in empire, imperialism & colonialism, militaries, ports, readings, seafaring, the sea, war | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment


There is an amazing bit in Alan Sekula‘s magisterial Forgotten Space where Angelenos of Latino origin sit at an outdoor space drinking beers and watching enormous container ships glide towards the unloading docks and cranes.  Ever since watching that, I really wanted … Continue reading

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“Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges…”

From Melville’s Billy Budd: …war contractors, whose gains, honest or otherwise, are in every land an anticipated portion of the harvest of death…. And he is the inventor of “fog of war” too: Forty years after a battle it is … Continue reading

Posted in literature, logistics, Melville, militaries, quotations, readings, ships, the sublime, war | Tagged , | Leave a comment

On the interweaving of fiction and reality

I hate to use the formally inventive and affectively brilliant Cities of Salt (by Abdulrahman Munif) as a sociological text or a total mirror of reality, which is what so many people do probably because until America’s Kingdom came along very few texts … Continue reading

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