News outlets have been trickling out the story of a possible agreement reached between the United States government and representatives of the Taliban in Afghanistan finally to broker a peace deal in the longest war in United States history. Therefore, it is rather appropriate that I have recently finished reading Ahmed Rashid’s Descent into Chaos: How the war against Islamic extremism is being lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. We need to review some basic questions and assumptions. How this conflict and the occupation of Afghanistan rate in length and expense to other conflicts with which the United States has been involved. Has the blood and treasure expended by the United States and its coalition allies in this conflict truly been wasted? Is it possible that the United States and NATO forces' use of different tactics or strategic goals would have changed the situation on the ground in Afghanistan in 2019?
Terrorism and terrorism studies seem to have taken a back seat in the public consciousness of late. At least it appears to have in regards to the subject of National Security. Most governments have shifted focus back to great power confrontations and the desire to escape from the long wars we have been fighting for the last 18 years and focus instead on the more familiar aspect of state on state traditional maneuver warfare. However, terrorist and terrorist attacks still occur and we are likely to see an undercurrent of terrorism studies persist.Open Source Jihad takes a meta-analysis of the academic pursuit. Not looking at terrorism itself but attempting to quantify our attempts to study this phenomenon effectively.
There’s an odd thing that happens with a long series. It happens regardless; any medium is just as susceptible as a series of novels. This odd thing is a dichotomy that develops with the work and our relationship with it. And I find sometimes… I’m really okay with that.
On October 31 2018, the Justice Department of the United States issued charges against two Chinese nationals for being intelligence operatives for the Chinese Ministry of State Security. The activities of the MSS highlight the precarious and desirous position that American knowledge, industrial secrets, and ingenuity still hold as the pinnacle of intellectual know-how. For the Soviets, after the horror of the First World War and the shocking self inflicted damage of their own civil war, the stakes must have seemed even higher.
November marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. Living in the United Kingdom, as I do at the moment, this is a significant event. The Spy Net by Henry Landau, would seem to help fill the gap. One would expect to find the stories of daring patriots risking life and limb to provide information to the Triple Entente to stop the plans of the vile Huns.
By reading From Babel to Dragomans and taking time to understand some of the nuance, which, I admit, can be difficult at times due to Bernard Lewis’ prose its is possible to discover a better understanding - not a perfect understanding - of a culture, a conflict, and issues that have been and likely will continue to be primary in world relations for the foreseeable future.