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Archive for the 'Security Studies' Category

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

To the Point: A New E-book Series from Columbia University Press

To the Point

To the Point, Bruce HoffmanTo the Point, Julia KristevaTo the Point, Peter Piot                 To the Point, Joel SimonTo the Point, Evan Thompson

Columbia University Press is proud to announce the launch of To the Point an exciting new e-book series that extends the scholarship of our authors for a growing global and digital audience. We present standalone chapters from the press’s forthcoming fall season books, with original short-format works to come to the series in the future.

These works serve to introduce our authors’ provocative ideas to new readers in accessible, affordable formats. Featuring works by Bruce Hoffman, Julia Kristeva, Evan Thompson, and others in disciplines ranging from politics and philosophy to food science and social work.

To the Point titles are available for only $1.99 from your favorite e-book vendor.

The first five e-book shorts to be released for sale in the To the Point series are:

* The 7/7 London Underground Bombing: Not So Homegrown, by Bruce Hoffman
A selection from The Evolution of the Global Terrorist Threat: From 9/11 to Osama bin Laden’s Death

* Understanding Through Fiction, by Julia Kristeva
A selection from Teresa, My Love: An Imagined Life of the Saint of Avila

* AIDS as an International Political Issue, by Peter Piot
A selection from AIDS Between Science and Politics

* Informing the Global Citizen, by Joel Simon
A Selection from The New Censorship: Inside the Global Battle for Media Freedom

* Dying: What Happens When We Die?, by Evan Thompson
A Selection from Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Joseph Cirinicone Discusses the Iran Nuclear Deal on Rachel Maddow

Joseph Cirinicione, author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late, was recently on The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the recent nuclear deal with Iran. Cirincione considers how Obama’s strategy of sanctions led to the deal, discusses Israel’s reaction and the widespread approval of the plan.

For more on Cirincione’s view on and support of the deal with Iran, you read his essay The Deal is for Real. Cirincione writes:

The deal Secretary John Kerry masterfully crafted in Geneva eliminates the threat Mr. Netanyahu said was his most serious concern. It completely stops the enrichment of uranium to 20 percent. It gets rid of all the uranium Iran had already enriched to this level. As a result, it doubles the time it would take Iran to dash to a bomb, plus it adds tough new daily inspections of the nuclear facilities that could spot any such dash, giving nations ample time to take appropriate actions.

But wait, there’s more. The deal basically freezes the Iranian program in place. It is not a complete suspension, but it makes sure that Iran cannot move ahead with its program while negotiations continue.

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Paul Pillar: Still Peddling Iraq War Myths, Ten Years Later

Paul Pillar

We continue our week long feature on the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq with a look at a recent essay by Paul Pillar, author of Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform.

In the essay Still Peddling Iraq War Myths, Ten Years Later, published on Pillar’s excellent blog for The National Interest, argues that:

[T]he anniversary retrospectives also give renewed exposure to those who promoted the war and have a large stake in still promoting the idea that they were not responsible for foisting on the nation an expedition that was so hugely damaging to American interests.

Pillar’s article was in part inspired by a recent event he participated in with former Bush administration figures the then-deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley and Douglas Feith, who as an undersecretary of defense was one of the most rabid supporters of the invasion of Iraq. Still maintaining that the war needed to be fought to protect the United States, Hadley and Feith suggest that if any mistake was made in deciding to go to war it was following bad intelligence. The lesson to learn is that administrations need to ask tougher questions about intelligence.

As Pillar shows, in what amounts to a devastating critique of the fallacy of Hadley and Feith’s position, bad intelligence had little to do with the Bush administration’s choice to go to invade Iraq. Bush and his neoconservative advisers wanted to get rid of Saddam and saw the post 9-11 atmosphere as giving them an opening. The administration backed intelligence when it supported their case (as with WMD’s) and discredited it when it challenged it (as with the lack of a connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda).

(more…)

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Blake W. Mobley on Terrorism and Counterintelligence

“Terrorist counterintelligence vulnerabilities are common, predictable, and, with some ingenuity, can be exploited.”—Blake W. Mobley, Terrorism and Counterintelligence

Blake W. Mobley, Terrorism and CounterintelligenceEarlier this summer, Blake W. Mobley, author of Terrorism and Counterintelligence: How Terrorist Groups Elude Detection, took The Page 99 Test.

In taking the “test,” Mobley describes how page 99 of his book reflects larger issues and arguments of his book. As Mobley shows, on page 99, his description of Fatah and Black September’s efforts at counterintelligence reflects key components of terrorists’ strategies:

Page 99 brings the reader to the very core of the argument. A comparison of Fatah and Black September shows how the groups’ counterintelligence strengths and weaknesses varied according to their organizational structure and popular support. I note that Black September’s highly centralized command structure promoted significant vulnerabilities—specifically, standardized security procedures and centralized personnel databases, which the Jordanian and Israeli security services were able to exploit. However, the group’s centralized command structure was also a source of strength. It allowed Black September to “respond quickly” to security breaches, “replacing agents and changing its codes” to prevent extensive damage to the organization.

(more…)

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Recommends “American Force,” by Richard Betts

Richard Betts, American ForceIt’s not everyday that one of our books gets noticed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff notices one of our book. However, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, recently strongly recommended Richard Betts’s American Force: Dangers, Delusions, and Dilemmas in National Security in the feature The Chairman’s Nightstand on the Department of Defense web site.

In describing why American Force matters, Dempsey writes:

Dr. Betts makes the argument that the U.S. does not do a good enough job of reconciling what we want to achieve with the resources available. He contends that when we do make the choice to intervene, we too often minimize our resource commitments and put our goals at risk. He sees this leading to indecisive undertakings. He cautions about the unpredictable character of conflict: “A decision on force is a gamble, but there are no acceptable rules for judging the odds of success.” His thought-provoking arguments are worthy of our consideration.”

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Richard Betts on “American Force” and Current Threats to the United States

Richard Betts, American ForceEarlier this summer, Richard Betts talked with BookTV in a fascinating discussion about the issues raised in his recent book American Force: Dangers, Delusions, and Dilemmas in National Security.

In the interview, Betts discussed how his approach to national security has changed since the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. While he saw himself as “hawkish” on military and national security issues during the Cold War, he feels recent, overly aggressive policies have been misguided and costly. Betts argues that the threat of terrorism, while serious, does not approach the magnitude of what the United States was confronting during the Cold War. Thus efforts such as the war against Iraq have been counterproductive.

Richard Betts also responded to questions about a variety of other current issues, including Obama’s policy in Afghanistan, which he supports as the “least bad alternative” in a difficult situation; Iran, which he recognizes as a serious threat but where the policy of sanctions and deterrence must be followed rather than “preventive war.” He also discusses U.S. options in North Korea and Syria.

Betts views preventing terrorists from getting the nuclear bomb as the most crucial issue confronting the United States. However, he also argues that the U.S. must work very hard to build a stronger relationship with China to prevent a Cold War-like situation from developing.

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Stephen Tankel — Afghan War Is Not Over Yet

Storming the World StageYesterday, CNN.com published “Afghan War Is Not Over Yet,” by Stephen Tankel, an assistant professor at American University, a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the author of Storming the World Stage: The Story of Lashkar-e-Taiba. In this article, Tankel takes a detailed look at the unsettled political situation in Central Asia after President Obama’s announcement of the “irreversible” plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. Tankel sees a great deal of uncertainty that must be resolved and a wide variety of challenges that must be be met before any successful withdrawal can be effected.

He first questions the efficacy of the Afghan National Army in maintaining stability:

The Afghan National Army is already taking the lead in regions with roughly 75% of the population, with U.S. and other NATO troops acting as support. However, this does not include the most contested areas in the south and east, where Afghan forces are slated to assume responsibility by next summer. Serious doubts persist about their readiness to do so.

Despite significant training efforts, the army’s level of competence remains in question. It lacks many of the support functions needed for war fighting. The army will remain dependent on international forces for these capabilities and on the international community for financial assistance, expected to cost at least $4 billion a year.

(more…)

Monday, May 14th, 2012

The Poetry of the Taliban

The Poetry of the TalibanThe Poetry of the Taliban, edited by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn and due out in July is already garnering a lot of discussion both positive and negative.

Richard Kemp, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan criticized the book in The Guardian, cautioning readers against “being taken in by a lot of self-justifying propaganda”.

However, Michael Dwyer, managing director of Hurst & Co., the British publisher of The Poetry of the Taliban, views the book as an important part of their list of books focusing on Afghanistan: “All these books, including Poetry of the Taliban, contribute to our knowledge of Afghanistan and the vicissitudes endured by its people in recent decades.””

In the New York Times blog At War, C. J. Chivers argues that the book Reading The Poetry of the Taliban as a way of better understanding the Taliban and Afghanistan:

Whatever the current controversy, “Poetry of the Taliban” serves as a martial and social artifact from a broken land. Its poems are variously political and pastoral, one moment enraged and the next heavy with sorrow … They capture ambitions, loneliness, resolve and fear. Many passages crudely mock the West. Others sketch the Taliban’s foes in harsh but lyrical caricature, including a passage in “Death is a Gift” that acidly describes Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, as among “those who have one mouth but utter fifty different words and have fifty different thoughts/Like Karzai; I will not behave like a juggler.”

(more…)

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Michael R. Powers on Terrorism Forecasting

Michael R. Powers, Acts of God and Man

The following excerpt on terrorism forecasting is from Acts of God and Man: Ruminations on Risk and Insurance, by Michael R. Powers:

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. insurance industry confronted billions of dollars in unanticipated losses. In addition, major global reinsurers quickly announced that they no longer would provide coverage for acts of terrorism in reinsurance contracts. Recognizing that historical loss forecasts had failed to account sufficiently for terrorism events and facing an immediate shortage of reinsurance, many U.S. primary insurance companies soon declared their intention to exclude terrorism risk from future policies. This pending market disruption led the U.S. Congress to pass the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) of 2002 to “establish a temporary federal program that provides for a transparent system of shared public and private compensation for insured losses resulting from acts of terrorism.” Subsequently, Congress passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension Act (TRIEA) of 2005, which was similar (but not identical) to the TRIEA.

From the U.S. Treasury Department’s perspective, the TRIA was intended to provide protection for business activity from the unexpected financial losses of terrorist attacks until the U.S. insurance industry could develop a self- sustaining private terrorism insurance market. However, during the debate over the TRIEA, representatives of the U.S. property liability insurance industry argued that the industry lacked sufficient capacity to assume terrorism risks without government support and that terrorism risks were still viewed as uninsurable in the market.

Given that the TRIEA was extended for a further seven years at the end of 2007, the debate over the need for a federal role in the terrorism insurance market is far from over. Although the federal government does not want to serve as the insurer of last resort for an indefinite period, it is clear that there are major obstacles to developing a private market for terrorism coverage.

(more…)

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Fred Ikle (1924-2011)

Fred IkleWe were sad to learn that Fred Ikle, author of Annihilation from Within: The Ultimate Threat to Nations and Every War Must End, passed away earlier this month.

Fred Ikle was undersecretary of Defense during Reagan’s second term and before that an important policymaker in the Defense Department. He is considered by many to have helped shape the deterrence policy that contributed to the end of the Cold War.

On the website for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Sam Nunn writes, “Fred Iklé will be remembered as a giant in foreign policy and national security. He helped steer the Department of Defense through the final critical years of the Cold War and always imagined a more hopeful future based on the principles of democracy.”

(more…)

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Paul Pillar Discusses Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy on Andrea Mitchell Reports to Discuss

Fresh off a review of his book Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy:Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform, in the New York Times , Paul Pillar was a guest on Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC.

Among other issues, Pillar discusses not only how intelligence became politicized during the lead up to the Iraq War but also how certain reports were ignored by members of the Bush administration. These included the famous memo on WMD’s but also estimates about what would happen in Iraq after an invasion and its impact on the region.

Paul Pillar also weighed in on the recent assassination of al-Awlaki. He worries that there needs to be clearer lines about targeting U.S. citizens and whether propagandists should be seen in the same light of those in charge of operations:

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy by Paul Pillar Reviewed in the New York Times

Paul Pillar

Writing for the New York Times Book Review, Thomas Powers calls Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform, by Paul Pillar, a “rich, useful and important book.”

Paul Pillar’s examination of the politicization of intelligence, particularly by the Bush administration during the lead up to the war with Iraq offers several disquieting revelations. While Powers acknowledges that there might be some who criticize the book for being “a special pleading of an insider.” Power continues:

But [Pillar] is a lucid writer drawing on long experience and wide reading. At stake is our ability as a nation to think clearly about what intelligence services can do and for whom they should do it. Standing in the way of getting this straight has been deep public reluctance to recognize two facts — the Bush administration’s role in turning a blind eye to the dangers of terrorist attack before 9/11, and its determination to whip up fears of Iraqi W.M.D.’s, which allowed the president to send an American army into the heart of the Middle East.

(more…)

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Paul Pillar on Iran

Paul Pillar

Paul Pillar’s recently published Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform explores some of the missteps in reorganizing intelligence in the wake of al-Qaeda attacks. One of the most crucial challenges facing U.S. intelligence and foreign policy today is, of course, Iran and its nuclear program.

As Paul Pillar has argued that Western intelligence cannot detect a decision that hasn’t been made about Iran’s nuclear program and cannot be completely relied upon. He writes in a recent post for The National Interest that the United States should seriously consider Iran’s offer to allow nuclear inspectors of its activities. Pillar argues:

It would be a mistake to respond as Americans have too often responded, which is to assume the worst about the intentions on the other side and to act in a way that would make sense only if that assumption were true, even though we don’t know it to be true. It would make far more sense to act with the realization that as far as we know the Iranian statement could be anything from a major breakthrough to a phony bit of rhetoric. The only way to find out is to explore the unexplored road and talk with the Iranians about it. If the favorable possibility turns out to be true, talking could be the first step toward a comprehensive safeguards agreement. If the unfavorable possibility turns out to be true, little or nothing is lost; in fact the Western case for pressuring Iran would be strengthened by demonstrating that the West is willing to go the extra mile.

Paul Pillar also recently participated at a public briefing at the Atlantic Council, in which they discussed a recent report they issued, How Reliable is Intelligence on Iran’s Nuclear Program? You can read a summary or listen to the panel discussion here.

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Paull Pillar on the Legacy of Propaganda and the Iraq War

Paul Pillar

“When an administration sets out to manipulate truth and falsehood as shamelessly as the promoters of the Iraq War did, the damage is not limited only to adoption of whatever policies the manipulators are promoting. The substantial lingering misconceptions among the public make for broader damage. The persistent mistaken beliefs among more than a third of Americans about Iraq and al-Qaeda greatly inhibit public understanding about terrorism, about the Middle East, and about how their own government has operated.” — Paul Pillar

In The Iraq War and the Power of Propaganda a recent post on his blog for The National Interest, Paul Pillar reminds readers of how the administration of George W. Bush manipulated intelligence to sell the idea of an alliance between Iraq and al-Qaeda. As Pillar writes, “The postulation of such an alliance also contradicted judgments of the U.S. intelligence community and other experts inside and outside government.” Pillar goes on to explain that “The belief was cultivated by repeatedly uttering ‘Iraq,’ ’9/11′ and ‘war on terror’ in the same breath. The cultivation was so successful that by the peak of the war-promoters’ sales campaign in late 2002 a majority of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein not only was allied with al-Qaeda but also had been directly involved in the 9/11 attack.”

The falsity of the Bush administrations claims are now widely acknowledged but as Paul Pillar demonstrates, a recent poll indicates that, remarkably, a significant minority continues to believe that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had a role in the September 11 attacks. In the conclusion to his post, Pillar explores some of the implications of the continued success of the Bush administration’s “sales campaign” for the war in Iraq:

A couple of implications follow about the present. One is that when an administration sets out to manipulate truth and falsehood as shamelessly as the promoters of the Iraq War did, the damage is not limited only to adoption of whatever policies the manipulators are promoting. The substantial lingering misconceptions among the public make for broader damage. The persistent mistaken beliefs among more than a third of Americans about Iraq and al-Qaeda greatly inhibit public understanding about terrorism, about the Middle East, and about how their own government has operated.

The second implication is that the government of the day, if applying enough single-minded determination, has tremendous power to sway the populace and generate support for new initiatives. This power could be used for good and not only for ill. Just imagine, for example, if the kind of concerted sales campaign that made it possible to do something as extraordinary as launching a major offensive war were to be applied to an all-out U.S. effort to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Such an effort still would run up against resistance from a strong lobby, but unlike with the Iraq War, selling the effort would not require manufacturing any issues or manipulating any falsehoods. Lack of resolution of the conflict really does hurt U.S. interests, and one could explain that while sticking totally to the truth.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Paul Pillar Challenges Conventional Wisdom on Intelligence Failures

Paul Pillar, Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy

As mentioned in previous posts, in his new book Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform, Paul Pillar confronts the intelligence myths Americans have come to rely on to explain national tragedies, including the belief that intelligence drives major national security decisions and can be fixed to avoid future failures. Pillar believes these assumptions waste critical resources and create harmful policies, diverting attention away from smarter reform, and they keep Americans from recognizing the limits of obtainable knowledge.

In the introduction to the book Pillar highlights several misconceptions about intelligence, replacing them with realities that are contrary to broadly held beliefs:

* Despite intense attention to an infamous intelligence estimate in 2002 on Iraqi unconventional weapons, most prewar intelligence analysis on Iraq was good, especially regarding the prospective consequences of the war. The policy implication of the intelligence community’s work on Iraq was to avoid the war, not to launch it.

* Despite near-universal acceptance of the 2004 report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) as thorough and careful, the commission misrepresented much of the intelligence community’s pre-9/11 strategic work on terrorism and never mentioned large portions of it. This misrepresentation and elision distorted a record in which the intelligence community successfully identified and described the threat from al-Qaida and imparted that threat to policymakers.

* Notwithstanding some instances (such as with terrorism) of intelligence enlightening policy, the overall influence—for good or for ill—of intelligence on major decisions and departures in U.S. foreign policy has been negligible. Most notorious intelligence failures have similarly had almost no effect on U.S. policy or U.S. interests.

(more…)

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Paul Pillar on the Dark Side

Paul PillarIn 2006, Paul Pillar, author of Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform, appeared on the Frontline documentary The Dark Side, which examined how then-Vice President Richard Cheney pushed to expand executive power, transform America’s intelligence agencies and bring the war on terror to Iraq.

In an extended interview posted on the Frontline site, Pillar discusses the problem of politicizing intelligence; the tntelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war; the 2004 National Intelligence Estimate; and politics at the CIA. Pllar also shares his thoughts on renditions and torture.

In the following exchange, Pillar discusses changes at the CIA in the aftermath of 9/11:

What did you think would happen with the agency after 9/11 happened?

Paul Pillar: That there would be a major increase in resources devoted specifically to counterterrorism. That’s the natural reaction to any kind of disaster. But other than that, it’s not a matter of something happening to the agency. The basic mission would stay the same. … What changed drastically overnight was, of course, the policy priority and the public concern.

Did you feel the agency was at all responsible for it?

Paul Pillar: No, no. The lack of tactical information is in large part a reflection of the target itself: small groups, highly secretive, very conscious of operational security, extremely difficult to penetrate. With hindsight, there are some miscues we’re all aware of in terms of tardiness, of people being placed on watch lists, that sort of thing. How much difference would that have made historically? That’s a matter of hypothetical alternative scenarios. But in terms of strategic understanding and strategic warning, it’s hard to get more explicit than [what] the head of the intelligence community was even speaking [about] just publicly, let alone in a classified forum to Congress and to the administration leaders.

And when the critics, the vice president included, say, “Where was the human intelligence?” …

Paul Pillar: There is always no substitute for the well-placed human source when it comes to counterterrorism; there’s also nothing I can think of that’s harder to do than place a human source inside a terrorist group. I don’t mean at the periphery — there have been enough of those; I mean in the innermost circles where plans are laid. It’s not that people haven’t thought of that or haven’t worked on that very hard for a long time. It’s always been extremely difficult; it always will be, no matter how the intelligence community is organized and no matter how many resources you give it. …

(more…)

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Paul Pillar on the Pretend Fix of U.S. Intelligence

Paul Pillar, Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy, and Misguided Reform“Ten years ought to be enough time for Americans to get over their overwhelming post-9/11 need for catharsis and reassurance and to look more critically at what was done for that purpose, including measures that pretend to be fixing something but really aren’t.”—Paul Pillar on the failure of intelligence reform

In a recent on his blog for National Interest , Paul Pillar encapsulates one of the main arguments in his new book Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform. Pillar argues that the findings of the 9/11 Commission and the subsequent reorganization of the intelligence agencies did little more than serve as a catharsis after the tragedy of 9/11. Pillar writes:

The commission performed that role [of catharsis] masterfully, hitting all the expected notes about making Americans safe by fixing a broken intelligence community. It did not matter that the intelligence community had actually provided strong strategic warning about the threat that would materialize on 9/11. The commission staff dealt with that inconvenient fact by producing a highly politicized report that conveyed a different impression, mostly by simply not mentioning a large portion of the relevant and accurate work that the intelligence community had done. It also did not matter that there was a lack of good new ideas about how to do such work better. The favorite Washington response when lacking better ideas for fixing something is to reorganize. So reorganization it was. The commission dusted off an old idea to separate the position of Director of Central Intelligence into two jobs. It added another proposal, also based on pre-9/11 ideas, for an additional counterterrorist center alongside the existing centers devoted to the topic. The net result of this rearrangement of the intelligence community’s wiring diagram was more, and more complicated, bureaucracy.

(more…)

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Paul R. Pillar on the true costs of the Iraq war

In a post today at The National Interest Paul R. Pillar, author of the new book Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform, discusses the true cost of the Iraq war for the United States. In his post Pillar argues that:

The single largest contributor to the ballooning of the national debt over the past decade has not been handled with such honesty. The Iraq War, besides also representing the single biggest self-inflicted wound to U.S. national security during the same period, was also the biggest act of fiscal recklessness—reckless in the sense both of the sheer cost of the enterprise and of the failure to make any provision to pay for it, other than going deeper into debt. The George W. Bush administration was the only one in U.S. history to launch a war while cutting taxes. The direct costs of the Iraq War so far are approaching $800 billion. That alone would be over half of what the super committee is charged with finding in savings. Significant additional direct costs, such as long-term care for wounded veterans, will continue even if U.S. troops are out of Iraq at the end of this year, not to mention interest payments on the money borrowed to fund the war. If one figures in all the indirect economic and financial costs of the war, such as the impact on the price of oil, the total cost of the Iraq War to the United States is likely far higher. The dishonest approach to funding was compounded by the repeated use of supplemental war appropriations separate from the rest of the Defense Department budget, as if somehow the war costs did not count in determining how much the United States is spending on its military.

and goes on to discuss the concept of a war tax.

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Martin Murphy, author of “Somalia the New Barbary,” on the Newshour

In the wake of the most recent incident of hijacking by Somali pirates, PBS’s Newshour interviewed Martin Murphy, author of Somalia, the New Barbary?: Piracy and Islam in the Horn of Africa and Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: Piracy and Maritime Terrorism in the Modern World.

In the interview Murphy argues that though attention has faded from this problem, hijacking continues. There are now around 700 hostages still being held by pirates and the amount of money they now receive is greater than ever.

He argues that while improvements have been made in terms of naval vessels patrolling the area and there has been greater coordination in prosecuting hijackers, the area in which pirates now roam has grown tremendously. For the problem to improve, the United States and other nations must directly engage with North East Somalia, where many of the hijackers are based.

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Interview with Ami Pedahzur — The Israeli Secret Services & The Struggle Against Terrorism

The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism
The following is a reprint of an interview with Ami Pedahzur, author of
The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism. The book is now available in paperback:

Q: Have you ever worked for the Mossad or any other intelligence agency?

Ami Pedahzur: No. never. I was a senior medic in the IDF, and there was nothing clandestine or exotic in that.

Q: So what led you to the topic of the Israeli secret services and their struggle against terrorism?

AP: When I was six years old, IDF stunned the world when its elite forces released the Israeli and Jewish Hostages of Air France flight 139, who were being held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Entebbe, Uganda. Like most of the kids of my generation, I idolized the heroic soldiers and started reading whatever I could find about the Israeli struggle against terrorism. I have not stopped since then.

Q: One cannot avoid noting the critical tone in your book. What happened? What made you change your outlook?

AP: Well, after a decade of studying terrorism and especially during the second Intifada with the long campaign of suicide attacks, I started asking myself the following question: If Israel is indeed such a superpower in counterterrorism as it wants the world to believe, why has terrorism against Israelis only intensified and become more deadly over the years?

(more…)