Malise Ruthven

Diminishing Powers

The Tail Wags the Dog: International Politics and the Middle East

By

Bloomsbury 236pp £25 order from our bookshop

In the 1997 movie Wag the Dog – cowritten by David Mamet and released just a month before the eruption of the Monica Lewinsky scandal – a Washington spin doctor played by Robert De Niro seeks to distract the public’s attention from a sexual scandal involving the president by inventing a war in Albania. The film opens with an explanatory panel:

Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because the dog is smarter than the tail.
If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.

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