Once you’ve seen one American war-in-the-Middle-East movie, you’ve seen them all. That’s what I thought. But the controversy surrounding American Sniper somehow persuaded me to pay a visit to my local multiplex.

Superpowers. Of all the possible superpowers in this best of all possible worlds, which one would you most like to possess? We sought the counsel of a four-year old girl. Without hesitation she replied that she wished she could ‘make everything pink’.

Most news coverage of ISIS oscillates between the extremes of overconfident predictions of the organisation’s imminent demise and exaggerated depictions of its prowess, reflecting the difficulties which the rise of this ‘state’ has caused the global powers and their local allies. I believe that the rise of ISIS needs to be understood as a partial expression of the group’s leaders’ ability to build a political and military organisation aided by the interaction of three interrelated historical processes.

Conventional wisdom tells us that Muslims who commit acts of violence are acting on their own impulses and for their own complex and misguided reasons. Yet I don’t think this is the whole story. What is missing from the complete picture is the inconvenient truth that by waging jihad and murdering civilians, as occurred in the attacks in Paris and on the beaches of  Tunisia, these individuals are not actually operating outside the boundaries of Islamic tradition.

Early last year, in a spontaneous and unplanned meander, I visited some of the landmark Buddhist and Hindu temples in Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia. I was quite unprepared for all that I encountered.

In 2005 Rajinder Singh made history by being the first non-white Briton to feature in an election broadcast by the British National Party. Ironically, he wasn’t even allowed to join the BNP, but he didn’t care. ‘I say adapt and survive and give the brave and loyal Rajinder Singh the honour of becoming the first ethnic minority member of the BNP,’ their communications officer wrote at the time.

In a moment of despair, Dick Howard regrets the inability of modern theory to provide a cogent account of, what he perceives as, the ‘world (dis)order that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989’, and wonders whether ‘this incapability (is) a sign of the impotence of Western political thought’.