Bombs and rockets

For the Afghan government to gain the upper hand, however, the foreign money needs to continue flowing. If salaries aren’t paid, local police could turn into insurgents or bandits. Problems with the pay structure would also threaten the integrity of the Afghan military, possibly breaking a key national institution into feuding factions. Donors have promised […]

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Modern terrorists have rarely killed more than a few thousand people in any given year. Many times in Afghanistan, when my boots were stained with human gristle, I asked myself if the bloody effort could be justified by the hunt for small bands of madmen. Defeating terrorism was never described as NATO’s main goal in […]

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Karzai suffered criticism for his statement [that security in Afghanistan was better between 2002 and 2006 than in 2012], but he was correct. The NATO surges into the south will almost certainly be remembered as a spectacular mistake. Many of the aims were noble: peace, democracy, rule of law. We thought that a sweeping program […]

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I told the UN chief about my recent conversations with disgruntled tribesmen, and their complaints about the Afghan police behaving like robbers. “Yes, this is a case of bad governance,” Mr. Masadykov replied. “I can say now, when we’re talking about Taliban, maybe half of these so-called anti-government elements acting here in this area of […]

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It was easy to guess why the American had been selected to deliver the message: other countries in the NATO alliance were describing their presence as a humanitarian gesture. A British minister infamously predicted the military surge would happen without a shot fired, and the Canadian military was pushing journalists to write about medical programs. […]

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Carrying around and being close to transmitting radios makes me nervous. They may be programmed to harm their owner from the outset, or reprogrammed by private hackers or government forces. They are the means through which ubiquitous surveillance is maintained, alongside agreements and clandestine action against fixed-line phone and internet providers. Perhaps the most important […]

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Still, at a fundamental level, it is important to recognize that the military commands controlling U.S. nuclear weapons have been asked to do the impossible. Peter Feaver has used the phrase, the “always/never dilemma” to describe the twin requirements placed on U.S. military commands. Political authorities have demanded, for the sake of deterrence, that the […]

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Bruce Blair’s Strategic Command and Control: Redefining the Nuclear Threat (1985) effectively demolishes some of the core ideas in U.S. nuclear strategy. The book is largely focused on command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) and emphasizes how, while the U.S. raced ahead with developing vast numbers of nuclear weapon systems, it does not have a […]

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One of the many people who I have already met through this year’s Massey College orientation events is Toronto Star journalist Katie Daubs. I’m now reading her feature article Walking the Western Front, about two months spent walking through WWI battlefields in France and Belgium.

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Mutual deterrence dissolves when one or both sides can remove the opponent’s ability to inflict severe damage in retaliation. In a crisis the side believing that an unacceptably large part of its retaliatory capacity could be suddenly nullified by an opponents forces might be impelled to strike preemptively. The superior side also might be motivated […]

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