One of the privileges of being an essayist (I am stretching my role of columnist for a daily newspaper to essayist, I admit) is being able to break the fourth wall. Essayists are granted a type of permissibility, to weave their own stories, beliefs and values, or aspects of their daily lives, into what they write. But not to worry, I shan’t bore you with the ordinary details of my daily life. Anyway, essay writing violates an elementary law of non-fiction writing in which the writer may be instructed to “show, don’t tell”.

The earliest recognised essayist, Michel de Montaigne, who lived in the 16th century, never really said what an essay was. He simply explained what he was doing. He was, in other words, essaying the essay. So when I sat down to write about the assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, I realised the impossibility of viewing Soleimani’s assassination as a single event, isolated from my own views and understanding of global political econo...

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