Earlier this year I was watching the BBC adaptation of War and Peace, a visually inspired and heart-wrenching representation of Tolstoy’s great narrative. It is a story of love and betrayal, joy and sorrow, extravagance and deprivation – but above all, it is an unambiguous articulation of the stupidity and futility of war.

During the war scenes, I found myself wondering whether Messrs Putin and Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Assad and Rouhani and all the presidents and prime ministers of the world were watching this programme. If not, then they should have been. If they were, then ...


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