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.
Human beings have always liked to think of themselves as special. So what, exactly, is it that does make us special? Are we, in fact, special at all or our we just another - albeit less harry - chimpanzee? This is the question Jared Diamond asks in The Third Chimpanzee: the Evolution and Future of the Human Animal. He asks it not with metaphysics or theology but with biology, geography and social science. He questions our unique construction, the places we live and how we interact; both interspecies and intraspecies, and which of these key components that can be measured may - or may not - either separately or in combination be the key that makes us human.
Post Captain Jack Aubrey and Ships Surgeon, Warrant Officer and erstwhile Naval Intelligence Officer Dr. Stephen Maturin once again take sail in the Mediterranean in their ongoing quest to do all in their power to help overthrow the regime of the archfiend and scourge to Democratic freedom, the Emperor Napoleon. Having successfully foiled the French plans in the Ionian sea in the last novel, Aubrey and Maturin take some time to rest and refit themselves, their ship, and what remains of their crew on the island of Malta as they await the next assignment. Aubrey tries to revel in his recent victory but continues to be plagued by the money woes at home that drove him to sea again and his desire for a new frigate and a command against the Americans in the North Atlantic. Maturin has his hands full attempting to find the elusive and cleaver French spymaster Lesueur. What Maturin doesn’t yet realize is Lesueur has already found him and Lesueur's plan against the good doctor is already in motion.
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.