Guardian Writers

History repeats itself all too often

Ehud Olmert lost no time in describing the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Lebanese guerrillas as an ''act of war''. That stark formulation was doubtless intended to frighten the Beirut government into reining in the Hizbullah fighters who attacked across the international border.

Kim’s childish provocation

North Korea's reckless and provocative firing of missiles over the Sea of Japan has brought a stale, but unmistakable, whiff of Cold War days. The difference between now and a few decades ago is the near universal condemnation of the ''hermit kingdom'' by the United States, Japan, Russia and Europe. Only China's reaction was muted.

Storm over Gaza

It is not yet quite a year since Israel withdrew its forces and dismantled illegal settlements in the Gaza Strip, though there has always been a grim inevitability about the offensive -- codenamed Summer Rain -- that Ehud Olmert unleashed this week to try to free a soldier abducted by Palestinian fighters.

Tony Blair: defiant and deluded

Striding through the smoke and flames threatening to torch the new Labour project, like a cornered action hero attempting a final comeback, Tony Blair recently showed once again why he is the most resilient politician in Britain. After days of coded revolt from his heir apparent he faced down his party with a powerful performance at his Downing Street press conference and at an evening session with MPs.

Revolution in the Andes

Evo Morales went for a characteristically theatrical gesture on May Day when he sent in troops to seize Bolivia's natural gas fields, pipelines and refineries. As global energy companies struggle to digest the consequences, it is clear that the president of Latin America's highest, poorest and most isolated country intends to keep on trying to redistribute the region's wealth.

Bombs on the beach

Terrorist bombs in sun-kissed holiday resorts have become a grimly familiar phenomenon of the post-9/11 years, but Egypt, hit for the third time in this bloody period, has had more than its share. Monday's death toll at Dahab, an old oasis on the lovely Red Sea coast, was at least 24, with further fatalities likely among about 60 injured.

Italy: A dull and dirty campaign

Silvio Berlusconi is as famous for being a media magnate as he is for being Italy's Prime Minister, and his final TV debate with Romano Prodi before the general election turned out to be a political version of It's a Knockout -- though without a clear result. The Forza Italia leader was deemed to have done marginally better than in the previous round against his rival from the centre-left alliance.

Iraq poll: A milestone nevertheless

Border and airport closures, curfews and a ban on civilian traffic are not normally associated with polling day. Nor are the helicopter gunships and heavily armed escorts foreign journalists need if they dare to find out what voters are thinking. It is a measure of the terrifyingly abnormal circumstances in Iraq that this week's parliamentary election is being held under such heavy security.

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