Today in Middle Eastern history: Antioch surrenders to the Arabs (637)

This will be short, since there’s very little to say about the Arab conquest of Syria after the Battle of Yarmouk in 636 decisively broke the Byzantine army in that region. But Antioch was one of the great cities of the eastern Roman Empire, and its conquest by the Arabs was significant, if anticlimactic. The… Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: Antioch surrenders to the Arabs (637)

Today in North African history: the Eighth Crusade ends (1270)

King Louis IX of France (d. 1270, which is a bit of a spoiler), who would later become St. Louis, would probably go somewhere on a list of the 10 greatest Crusaders of all time, particularly if you limit the list to military figures and to the canonical numbered Crusades (so we’re not including the… Continue reading Today in North African history: the Eighth Crusade ends (1270)

Today in history: the Great Crash of ’29 ends and the Great Depression begins

Since Saturday we’ve been in the midst of the 86th anniversary of the stock market crash that kicked off the Great Depression. The whole thing started on October 24, 1929, AKA “Black Thursday,” when the Dow lost about 11 percent of its overall value shortly after trading began, and only some concerted action by a… Continue reading Today in history: the Great Crash of ’29 ends and the Great Depression begins

“Prime Minister of Iraq” must be a pretty crappy job

Paul Ryan just gave up his, ah, dream job to become Speaker of the House today, ending a long national nightmare of media hand-wringing over the fate of the Speakership in the post-John Boehner era. Throughout that hand-wringing, we were treated to the oft-repeated observation that Speaker of the House is the “worst job in… Continue reading “Prime Minister of Iraq” must be a pretty crappy job

I found Ben Carson’s new campaign slogan

I didn’t watch the debate last night. Maybe I’ll never watch another presidential debate again. I don’t know. But I do know that the prospect of watching the best and brightest in the “Screw the Poor” party hold a debate on the “Screw the Poor” cable network was just too much for me to bear.… Continue reading I found Ben Carson’s new campaign slogan

Princes behaving badly

The House of Saud isn’t just beset by princes getting busted for drug possession in foreign airports; there’s also apparently at least one Saudi prince talking out of school about King Salman, according to The Guardian’s Hugh Miles: A senior Saudi prince has launched an unprecedented call for change in the country’s leadership, as it… Continue reading Princes behaving badly

A necessary step, but will it matter?

Word broke yesterday that Iran would be invited (with US approval) to participate in the next round of international talks over ending the Syrian civil war. The Guardian is calling this a “significant shift” in US policy, and I guess it is, but it’s one that was long overdue. You can’t get a political settlement… Continue reading A necessary step, but will it matter?