History

After finding his quartet of books about the global history of nuclear weapons so valuable and intriguing, when I saw that a used book shop had a recent history of energy by Richard Rhodes I picked it up the next day. It includes some nice little historical parallels and illustrations. One that I found striking […]

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The Biden administration has announced that most US forces will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11th. What have we learned since 2001 and what have the consequences of the war been? Could Al Qaeda have been expelled or destroyed without the invasion? How will the US / NATO / Canadian intervention affect Afghanistan’s long-term future? […]

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“Statement by President George W. Bush on Insurrection at the Capital Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding in our Nation’s government in disbelief and dismay. It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled […]

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The fateful decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003 revivified the radical Islamist agenda. Simultaneous wars in two Muslim countries lent substance to bin Laden’s narrative that the West was at war with Islam… Although bin Laden and his cohort were essentially reduced to virtual presences on the Internet and […]

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One can ask, at this point, whether 9/11 or some similar tragedy might have happened without bin Laden to steer it. The answer is certainly not. Indeed, the tectonic plates of history were shifting, promoting a period of conflict between the West and the Arab Muslim world; however, the charisma and vision of a few […]

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Although the notes don’t reflect it, a vote was taken [in August 1988] to form a new organization aimed at keeping jihad alive after the Soviets were gone. It is difficult to imagine these men agreeing on anything, but only Abu Hajer voted against the new group. Abu Rida summarized the meeting by saying that […]

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Describing the period in the 1980s when Osama bin Laden was emerging as a major private fundraiser for the mujahideen resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: The lure of an illustrious and meaningful death was especially powerful in cases where the pleasures and rewards of life were crushed by government oppression and economic deprivation. From […]

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In the 1950s, when the RBMK design was developed and approved, Soviet industry had not yet mastered the technology necessary to manufacture steel pressure vessels capacious enough to surround such large reactor cores. For that reason, among others, scientists engineers, and managers in the Soviet nuclear-power industry had pretended for years that a loss-of-coolant accident […]

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However, by concealing their past intentions, the Iraqis encouraged the assumption that those were their future intentions as well. In the first phase of the Iraqi cover-up, the hidden past intentions certainly did reflect the goals for the future of the political leadership, even though Iraqi scientists and experts knew that restarting the programs would […]

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Spies tend to make extravagant claims for their craft, but the reality of espionage is that it frequently makes little lasting difference. Politicians treasure classified information because it is secret, which does not necessarily render it more reliable than openly accessible information, and frequently makes it less so. If the enemy has spies in your […]

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