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Monthly Archives: May 2011

The Beasts From 20,000 Fathoms

May 31st, 2011 - 3:18 pm

Syrian President Bashar Assad is offering amnesty to a subset of those who’ve defied his regime so far.  Ba’ath party officials expressed a willingness to speak to the opposition but have so far refused to remove a key provision in the constitution enshrines the Ba’ath party as the leader of the state. Syrian dissidents say the offer is a “sign of weakness” and administration spokesmen said the concessions were too limited to be serious.  These concessions came even as Syrian tanks and artillery continued to shell dissident areas.


The Garden of Remembrance

May 30th, 2011 - 12:16 pm

Many Pakistanis believe that Indian or American agents — not fellow Muslim countrymen — are behind the spate of bombings and attacks it has recently endured, especially the attack on a “highly secured” naval base.  It is the latest example of an immutable condition in international politics: It’s Always Americas Fault (IAAF). This is in spite of the fact that the Taliban are  desperately waving and saying, “we did it, we did it!”


Counting the Cats in Zinjibar

May 29th, 2011 - 3:13 pm

News reports suggest that forces associated with al-Qaeda have taken over, at least temporarily, a major city in Yemen. The LA Times says Zinjibar, “the capital of Abyan province in the south had been overrun by the country’s Al Qaeda affiliate”. The civil strife in Yemen has diverted most of that country’s military energy to sectarian purposes, leaving any rebels who care to attack a free hand.

It was impossible to know for sure if the group in Zinjibar was in Al Qaeda’s grasp. Myriad separatist groups exist in the south, including rival jihadist militant organizations such as the Aden-Abyan Islamic Army, as well as clans resentful of Sana. The country experienced a civil war between north and south in 1994. …

Troops loyal to the president have withdrawn from swaths of the country in recent months to concentrate on holding Sana, the capital. Last week alone, the elite Republican Guard — headed by Saleh’s son Ahmed — battled supporters of powerful tribal leaders in Sana and surrendered a base just outside of the city on Friday before airstrikes were called for.


The Big Cigar

May 29th, 2011 - 12:45 pm

Two articles, on in the World Affairs Journal by a former undersecretary for defense policy and another in the New York Times, describes how America can win the battles yet lose the war. Eric S. Edelman, “a distinguished fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), served as under secretary of defense for policy in 2005–09″ argues that America lost Lebanon through a lack of consistency and determination.


The Inside Job

May 28th, 2011 - 11:27 am

One of the Taliban’s favorite tactics has long been the “inside attack”, in which the enemy first gains your confidence or pretends to be one of you and then attacks from within. In 2006, a Canadian Civilian-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) officer sat down to talk to villagers “about access to clean water and other basic needs under Canada’s area of responsibility”.

After the soldiers removed their helmets, a common practice and show of respect, Abdul Kareem, a sixteen-year old boy, almost split Greene’s brain in half by hitting him with an axe. Kareem tried to hit again but was instantly shot -and killed- by other members of the platoon. The platoon then came under heavy fire while waiting for a US Army medical evacuation helicopter.


They Walk Among Us

May 27th, 2011 - 3:30 pm

Wired describes the curious situation of the Patriot Act. What does it prohibit? Government can’t exactly tell you. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), a ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the government has classified the way in which it intends to interpret certain provisions. You can’t know how government intends to implement it. Wyden says:

“We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”


The Arab Sprung

May 26th, 2011 - 2:28 am

Fighting broke out in Yemen’s capital, killing at least 38 as President Saleh, who has refused to step down after promising to, tried to take on a powerful tribal leader:

The escalating clashes came after Saleh refused to sign a U.S.-backed deal, mediated by Gulf Arab neighbors, that offered immunity from prosecution under a timetable to step down within 30 days and transfer power to his vice president.

The United States has ordered all its non-essential diplomatic personnel out of the country:


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The Fatal Phrase

May 25th, 2011 - 12:27 pm

A friend of mine once had a minor fender-bender and got out to inspect the damage. The other driver strode up to him and said in a manner suggesting he was untouchable declared “don’t you know who I am?” My friend half-seriously replied, “should I”?  The reply infuriated the other driver, as if it were a put-down. Maybe it was.  The words “don’t you know who I am” were in the news again in connection with Dominique Strauss-Kahn.


Armageddon 1958

May 24th, 2011 - 4:20 am

What would all-out nuclear war have looked like 50 years ago? It would have been fought with thousands of missiles and jet bombers sortieing from hundreds of airbases controlled by teleprinters, conference calls and video-link. Data would have been assessed on giant white boards and summarized in face-to-face briefings. At least one vision of how it would have played out is depicted in the 1958 Strategic Air Command simulation of a central nuclear war with the Soviet Union, which you can view after the Read More.


All Quiet on the Eastern Front

May 22nd, 2011 - 11:21 pm

Militants believed to be linked to al-Qaeda or the Taliban have attacked a Pakistani naval base, killing several servicemen and taking foreign nationals, believed to be Chinese, hostage. Bill Roggio reports that “a large terrorist assault team, thought to be between 15 to 20 men strong, stormed Pakistani Naval Station Mehran Sunday night in a coordinated, complex attack. A Taliban spokesman claimed 22 fighters, who have enough provisions for three days, executed the assault.”  There are some reports the attackers have taken hostages. The Los Angeles Times says it “was believed to be a revenge attack for the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.”