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?
I spent a good portion of the beginning of my professional career doing business management, accounting, and finance. And yes, I can hear some of you already saying, “Well that explains a lot about why his writing style is so boring.” Ha, ha. I mention all this, not to imply I’m some sort of financial genius. Far from it. Rather, it’s to demonstrate that I have more than a passing interest in the financial system and might have a slightly better understanding of economics than the average consumer may. Which, I hope, will give you some insight when I review this book and I tell you, it’s a very difficult read.
When I was a kid, role-playing games like D&D were at the height of their popularity. Video games were still in their infancy, with only slightly better than 8-bit graphics on the best of systems. Into this target rich environment of 1988, R. Talsorian Games, Inc. introduced Cyberpunk 2013. In addition to their style, tone, and bleak outlook, there is another aspect all of these stories have in common, time. Each is set in an increasingly distant near future. I think these visionaries were too pessimistic in their estimates.
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.
Everyone surely knows the story in 1984. Or at least they think they do nowadays with terms like facecrime and doublespeak being thrown around the news and social media as if we’ve all just come from a high school English Lit course. I certainly thought I did as well. 1984 warns of the dystopian future where the state has taken control of every aspect of life. Like most people though I had missed some important points by not reading the source material.
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.