Consider this an experiment. Talk about on anything on your minds. I'll be in the vicinity and drop in and out of the discussion, if anyone's around. Have a happy and safe New Year's.
Mark Burgess of the World Security Institute has a great op-ed in SECUER on terrorist usage of the Internet. As Burgess writes, current European Union policy on counter-terrorism is purely reactive in nature: criminalizing the possession of terrorist tactical training manuals and cracking down on online incitement to jihad. However, these steps are insufficient to combat the real nature of the problem.
The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) has kept an admirable focus on the continuing "devolution" of Somalia back into chaos and clan warfare. A recap for anyone unfamiliar with the situation:
In a state of constant warfare for most of the 1990s, Somalia was pacified by the Islamic Courts Union in the summer of 2006. The ICU imposed Islamic law and began to threaten the weak UN-backed Transitional Government (known by acronym TFG), a largely ineffectual entity with control over a small subset of the country. Ethiopia, an old enemy of Somalia, backed the TFG and invaded. The United States backed Ethiopia and the TFG, accusing the ICU of supporting Al-Qaeda. The Ethiopians destroyed the ICU, but have not been able to unify the country.
I'm pleased to announce a new addition to my blog family--Dreaming In An Empty Room. This blog will complement Rethinking Security by serving as an outlet for my thoughts on popular culture, technology, information operations, critical theory, and other related subjects. Although defense and security issues are definitely my focus, I've always been jealous of the way tdaxp, Purpleslog, Soob, Hidden Unities, Zenpundit, and Curtis Gale Weeks can do wide-focus without compromising the essential direction of their blogs. I tried to do the same thing on Simulated Laughter, but it unfortunately went all over the place.
So I've decided to pursue a strategy of separation. Longer pieces focused on international relations, global security, politics, and counter-terrorism will be blogged here at Rethinking Security. Anything I publish on the Huffington Post, Dreaming 5GW, or any other political, military, or law enforcement publication will be linked through here. Shorter hit-and-run pieces on everything else will be posted at Dreaming in An Empty Room. In terms of posting frequency and content, that'll amount to roughly half-and-half.
Looking forward to seeing you all at Dreaming In An Empty Room!
Some German leftists (very often of a younger generation) are still attracted to the idea of effecting radical social change in a cataclysmic burst rather than through the tedium of grassroots organizing or gradual social movements—the processes that are essential to progressive social change in liberal democracies. As much as the German left has changed since the late ’70s and as critically as it has distanced itself from the RAF and its like, there persists a mythical aura around Baader-Meinhof as the true believers who fought the good fight in its purest form. Baader, Meinhof, and Ensslin are still considered heroes in some left-wing circles, even though their unsuccessful assault on the state cost the lives of 57 people and ended in disaster for the German left.
Unfortunately, this isn't just a German problem.
My own interest in issues of war and peace began with Robert D. Kaplan’s writings for the Atlantic Monthly. Kaplan’s powerful depictions of life in the Third World demonstrate just how privileged we are to live in America.
Just south of the border, policemen, government officials, and even popular celebrities are murdered with impunity by cartel gunmen, guerrillas target energy resources, and corruption reigns supreme. Mexico, however, is mild compared to the Hobbesian wasteland of the greater Global South.
In my review of Brave New War, I criticized John Robb's focus on the technological and economic at the expense of the social. While Robb's scholarship on open source warfare, black globalization, systempunkts, and other related concepts is invaluable, he doesn’t spend enough time analyzing social systems disruption. This hurts the overall quality of his analysis. The world is composed of human systems, and economics and technology fall are part of (not above) such systems.
However, Robb analyzes the Benazir Bhutto killing’s social impact with pinpoint accuracy.
Congrats to Eddie on the end of his Navy service. I wish him the best in his re-entry into civilian life.
Eddie is unique in the security and foreign affairs blogosphere for his knowledge and proficiency in humanitarian issues and his deep sense of empathy and outrage. Eddie always brings the missing human element to abstract discussions of war and peace, arguing powerfully for greater action to halt genocide, poverty, and gun violence. His deep patriotism also informs his impassioned denunciations of the current administration's manifold incompetence and abuses.
Anyone who hasn't already should check out his blog Hidden Unities.
With the suspicious killing of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will most likely emphasize his record as counter-terrorist fighter to the West. Rethinking Security readers in Washington will no doubt hear some variation of "He's the only one who can hold back the barbarians" talk in Georgetown cocktail parties. Don't be fooled.
National Defense Magazine has an interesting look at the Army's struggle to build a "network-centric" force. The higher-end command and control (C2) technology is reserved for those higher up the command chain. As a result, soldiers on patrol cannot access useful data and can only communicate with their superiors with voice radios. Commanders also are denied real-time tactical information that better C2 technology could provide.
The article also looks at the progress of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, which the Army seeks to deploy by 2015. FCS is expected to create a totally flat network and provide a single source of operational and tactical data. By doing so, the Army hopes to create a faster, resilient, and adaptable network. However, as Maj. Don Vandergriff notes, creating an adaptable organization requires more than technology. Without giving individual soldiers the initiative required to exploit such data, the Army is wasting its money.