Instant Opinion: Iran crisis ‘shows West no longer exists’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 13 January

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The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Allister Heath in The Daily Telegraph

on the Middle East

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The Iran crisis has exposed an awful truth: the West no longer exists

“Even to speak of the ‘West’ as a coherent entity makes little sense: what was once a distinct civilisation has fragmented, with the US, Brexit Britain, the EU and the rest (including Canada and Australia) diverging dramatically. A minority of each of their electorates is now so self-loathing that it will reflexively take the side of any Middle Eastern despot, making any sort of robust policy more difficult. It has certainly become clear that Europe and North America no longer share the same values, other than superficially. The EU is inexorably turning into a technocratic state that isn’t compatible with Britain or Australia’s robust democratic traditions; America is facing the slow implosion of its political settlement, amid a bitter culture war.”

2. Libby Purves in The Times

on celebrity

Be careful what you wish for, Meghan and Harry

“To be brutal, however grandly Oprah-Obama they wish to seem, and however they cling to their HRH titles, anything done for profit will be basically no different from ghastly Instagram ‘influencers’ paid to praise brands, or out-of-work actors doing a stint on the Shopping Channel. If the Duke and Duchess of York teach us anything, it is that this mix erodes respect. Maybe trademarked SussexRoyal hoodies are no worse than Duchy Originals, but once Disney and Givenchy and the big boys get their pound of flesh, you’re sold.”

3. Mark O’Connell in The Guardian

on climate change

Pictures of the world on fire won’t shock us for much longer

“One thing that is often remarked about climate crisis is that the subject is characterised by a strange form of cognitive dissonance. You read about the melting ice caps, the rising temperatures, the mass extinctions, and you understand intellectually that something truly terrible is happening. It doesn’t feel like that on the nerve endings, though. On the nerve endings, it feels like an unseasonably warm day in January. But what is happening in Australia, and the images that are emerging from the fires, feels like a closing of the gap between the scientific evidence and the field of immediate perception.”

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4. BBC director-general Tony Hall in the Financial Times

on the licence fee

The BBC’s formula for success relies on the funding model

“The BBC’s formula for the UK’s creative success lies in being paid for and owned by the British public. The universality of the licence fee guarantees our commitment to creativity and risk-taking. Because we are funded by everyone, we must offer something outstanding for everyone. Far from growing less relevant in a digital age, this unique relationship with audiences has never been more necessary. How better to hardwire creative ambition into what we do in today’s media landscape? It ensures independence for the national broadcaster; it obliges us to serve everyone; it secures our responsibility to reflect every part of the UK.”

5. Ilyas Nagdee in The Independent

on extremism

Extinction Rebellion was always going to be labelled ‘extreme’ – that’s just how Prevent works

“When speaking truth to power, it is not enough to offer abstract moralism to a force that only responds to strength. Social movements including XR [Extinction Rebellion] must resist the urge to bend to the will of the state, or plead special tolerance for themselves whilst allowing the targeting of others. Civil liberties and the importance of protecting dissent and protests may present a difficult discussion for some but they are some of our most fundamental rights.”

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