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Archive for March, 2008

German Spy Chief on Euro-Islamist Terror Threat

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

Hat tip to Insurgency Research Group.

Der Spegel interviews Ernst Uhrla , head of Germany’s BND intelligence agency on radical European Islamists.

McCain needs some new Foreign Policy Advisers

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Kicking Russia out of the G-8 is simply, spectacularly, dumb. What genius gave him that advice?  A club of market democracies is great. Form one.  But this crackbrained nostalgia for the Evil Empire though, is the yearning of old men misremembering what they consider to have been the moral simplicities of their youth.

McCain needs to take a good, hard, look at his foreign policy team – the real team of day to day insiders –  while the Obama-Clinton slugfest allows him to fine-tune matters under the media radar. I have a hard time imagining that George Shultz and Henry Kissinger suggested that we kick the Russians in the nuts as an opening move of a McCain administration.

One war at a time John. One war at a time.

Tool for Twitter

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Heard about Quotably on Twitter, wasn’t sure what it was until I came across this post by Gerrit at Smart Mobs.

Web 2.0 has evolved to the point where we need special search apps just to manage our social networking apps. Actually, what I really need is a  securely encrypted “universal remote” app for all the platforms I’m using or would like to use.


Reader and twitter compadre Sandbaggerone also suggests Friendfeed.

Recommended Reading

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Top Billing! The Strategist – “The Persian Expedition

What a great book.  Of the students and associates of Socrates, Xenophon was the one who kept a foot pragmatically grounded in reality, something that cannot always be said of Plato, who was admittedly a much greater philosopher, or of Critias.

On the death of Arthur C. ClarkWizards of OzChicago Boyz, The Glittering Eye, Soob, Whirledview, Kingdaddy, Armchair Generalist

When blogfriends unite, I take note.

On “Anonymous” – Global  Guerillas, Coming Anarchy 

I’d say this is emergent 5GW.

SWJ Blog – “An Outsider’s Perspective

This one is already in circulation so I’m just piling on.

That’s it!

Fisking McCaffrey’s Futurism

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Yesterday, The SWJ Blog ( and blogfriends on Twitter, one of whom characterized it as “weak”) aleted me to a futurist slide by General Barry McCaffrey with his predictions of potential national security events faced by the United States in the near term. I’m certain this was in the context of a much larger presentation, given to a specific group with stated policy concerns; unfortunately, those particulars are unknown to me:


My commentary:

First of all, one notes the number of “safe” predictions in the sense that none of these represent even the likeliest of outliers much less scenarios representing true, statistical rarity, “Gray Swans”. There’s a certain probalistic logic to doing so – the status quo more often than not in any given scenario will continue uninterrupted except by minor adjustments. On at least half of this list, given the breadth and/or vagueness, I’m certain that McCaffrey will be able in five years to say that he was more right then wrong. Unfortunately, the narrow number of domains from which he is extrapolating – nothing on cutting edge tech, applied science, the environment, macrodemographics, religious fundamentalism or interesting “intersectional” possibilities – leaves  policy makers with a vision that may be more susceptible to a Black Swan event than before by reinforcing previously held expectations.

Sidebar: I’d love to see Art Hutchinson, Tom Barnett, John Robb , Michael Tanji and the gents at Kent’s Imperative also critique the slide.

Now, in fairness, to the good General, a few of his bullet points are more interesting than others. I think McCaffrey’s called a hard landing for Cuba correctly unless Raul Castro has a secret admiration for Deng Xiaoping and the comprehension of economics to execute a Deng-like transition. It will be difficult for Cuba to really open up without the economic logic of the American market and favorable asylum policies for Cubans immediately kicking in as it did for the East Germans when the other Soviet bloc states ceased cooperating with Honecker’s repressive policies. With Chavez too, I think General McCaffrey is correct given that there is a little remarked friction between Venezuela the oil producer and America the refiner of Venezuelan oil ( refining capacity is itself a choke point along with oil production nor is all crude created equal; some is more expensive to refine than others). Finally, the temptation for al Qaida to “send a message” to the new administration and create downstream political effects may prove well-nigh overwhelming; it may even override their present policy of waiting until to pull off a catastropic level act of terror.

How do you see it ? Comments, questions, rants are all welcome.

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