Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Friday, July 18, 2008

Suggested Wisdom XX

The twentieth round-up and so a temporary change in our mascot courtesy of

Swedish Meatballs Confidential- Effwits Outta da Forest (sorry, no permalink) July 16, 2008:
We do not face a global jihadist "movement" but a series of disparate ethnic and religious conflicts involving Muslim populations, each of which remains fundamentally regional in nature and almost all of which long predate the existence of al-Qaeda.
Opposed Systems Design- This post is actually more than two years old but came about in a comment Wiggins left here recently.
You Are Not Your @#$% Khaki's:
At root, this is about looking for a sense of belonging. Feeling like you have meaning in your life. Fight Club revolves around a brutally nihilistic philosophy, so clearly there are substantive differences between Tyler Durden’s Project Meyham and al Qaeda. Durden offers a sense of self through self-destruction; al Qaeda offers an identity through adherence to an anachronistic form of Mideaval Islam. But the dynamic which alienated youths become aligned with each movement is the same: a disillustionment with modern life and a search for meaning, comraderie and satisfaction. A desire to feel whole, human and alive.
Coming Anarchy- Curzon posts a cartographic representation of the global food crisis:
More and more media outlets are reporting on the food crisis, but few countries have a comprehensive analysis. Stratfor has published a map on the global food crisis identifying the causes of the food crisis worldwide.
Curzon promises further analysis that I'm looking forward to as the map, while interesting, is also a bit vague.

Dreaming 5GW- Blog Tank: National Strategy for a Few Nuclear Weapons - 5GW
My thinking is that it really isn’t very cost effective for a country to build a nuclear program that provided only a few useable weapons, Once the infrastructure is in place an arsenal of a few dozen weapons would likely be possible as a country plays for time, betting that the program will reach maturity before international sanctions could ruin the country. From there it just becomes a question of the range of the possible delivery vehicles.

Arherring's participation in Cheryl's "blogtank."

Foreign Policy Watch- Negotiations: Get 'em While They're Hot: Regarding the recent Bush Admin. move to send Billy Burns to Geneva to meet with Iran's top nuke negotiator and a shift in policy:
North Korea. Arab-Israeli talks. Iran. Hmmm, I'm starting to see a pattern here.

On the one hand, this string of reversals poses a problem for the US's credibility in standoff situations as it initially stakes out an inflexible position that later collapses under its own weight. I've written before about this problem in regards to US strategy toward Iran in particular. What was most problematic from the suspension-first demand was that it was (a) unreasonable Iran would heed it and (b) difficult for the US to retreat from without demonstrating that coercive positions can at times be outlasted by the target state if the standoff becomes a contest of wills.
Lastly, an addition to the blogroll-
Girl Spy:
The deed of Intelligence-related activities. Activities in Intelligence are far reaching. The media would have you believe that every spy is an assassin with a closet full of funky costumes, a rack of assassination tools, and the punching bag in the corner with which to practice the perfect round-house kick. Clearly, this is not the case. Intelligence activities include (in no particular order) writing (a lot of writing), researching (even more of that), interpreting (getting tired yet?), analyzing, assessing, estimating, inventing, and managing, yes, managing, just to name a few. And every activity is an important piece to the total package.
An online account of the "ladies in the trade" of intelligence and more. Smart and informative.

Good Stuff.