Since the 2016 United States Presidential election, the concepts of Nationalism and Populism have received a lot more attention and consideration. One of the defining characteristics of both Nationalism and Populism is not just the ideology they identify with but almost more importantly the relationship to the ideology to which they are opposed. By emphasizing the Orwellian nature of Socialist, Democratic Socialist, or any flavor of Socialist or Communist thought, Nationalists and Populists attempt to draw crudely the dissimilarities between the ideologies. The best and easiest way to invoke this Orwellian narrative is by returning to the source material. Nationalists/Populists refer back to the works of George Orwell, most specifically the novels 1984 and Animal Farm.
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?
There is something supremely satisfying, and a bit nostalgic, in reading classic thriller novels. The classics seem fresh, nuanced, with rich full characters that are multifaceted and contradictory. Newer forays into the genre seem cliched or formulaic. Even the newer pieces by the classic authors fall prey to this issue. Eric Ambler’s Cause for Alarm was only the fourth novel he wrote back in 1936 - publishing it in September of 1938 - and considered remarkable for its prophetic tone. Most of us in the 21st century forget, to the average person in 1938 World War 2 wasn’t inevitable, or at least so it didn’t seem.
Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies: National Styles and Strategic Cultures should be taken as a cautionary text by those involved in all aspects of national security; from the tactical level of the Lieutenant in charge of a platoon, through the field grade officer in charge of operational concerns, through to those who create the national strategy followed by all.
“Fontreux,” Alex continued, “is and has been one of the primary manufacturers of aircraft engines and parts to the French government. They are an essential part of the supply chain for eighty five percent of fighter engine parts and seventy two percent of rotary wing engine manufacturing for the French military. “And the Bank is to provide the bulk of the initial investment in the expansion.” “There is just one issue that may interfere.” Stevens had come to Annex B of the internal portion of the prospectus. “Oh yes. This could be a problem,” Stevens mused turning to Alex.
A recent trip got me thinking about some of the similarities and differences we native English speaking cousins have. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, ‘It’s not just Britain and America divided by a common language.’