History

Arguably for millennia, but certainly since the industrial revolution, technological development has been driving changes in labour practices. This has been accelerated by globalization and automation and is likely speeding up as sensors and artificial intelligence improve and costs fall: Both for individuals and governments, it’s hard to discern what this means when planning for […]

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It is one of history’s little ironies that al-Qaeda itself was set up as a JSOC-like group. The main trainer of al-Qaeda in the years before 9/11 was Ali Mohamed, an Egyptian American army sergeant who had served at Ft. Bragg, the headquarters of JSOC. In the 1980s, Mohamed taught courses on the Middle East […]

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This [claim by Al Qaeda military commander Saif al-Adel that Osama bin Laden deliberately provoked the United States into attacking Afghanistan] was a post facto rationalization of Al-Qaeda’s strategic failure. The whole point of the 9/11 attacks had been to get the United States out of the Muslim world, not to provoke it into invading […]

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Today I skipped Judo for the Toronto Women’s March. For the moment, I will choose to highlight the progressive notion that Trump is the dying last gasp of misogyny, racism, and intolerance within an American population which is ever-more diverse, progressive, and empowered. Trump is the braggadocious con man trying to sell himself as a […]

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This slam poem has been acutely and importantly confrontational for ten years or more, and it’s worth re-considering in light of Friday’s inauguration in Washington D.C.: “Homeland” by Marty McConnell

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In the closing days of his administration, President Obama has chosen to commute the 35-year sentence of army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who will now be released in May. Late-term commutations are always controversial, and this one is sure to be at least doubly so. Related: Wikileaks and whistleblowers

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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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In a recent briefing on Canada, The Economist discusses my committee member Peter Russell’s forthcoming book: After Britain wrested control of Quebec from France in 1763 its new French-speaking subjects resisted assimilation. So did Canada’s indigenous groupings: Inuit, First Nations and mixed-race Métis. Such resistance was sometimes met with oppression and cruelty, and Canada’s treatment […]

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