My review of Bobo Lo’s “Russia and the New World Disorder”

51eha8qwd-l-_sx331_bo1204203200_My review of Bobo Lo’s “Russia and the New World Disorder” is out online, for Political Studies Review journal.

Lo’s book is timely contribution to the literature as the World is trying to understand and predict Russian behaviour. Although, I wan’t quite satisfied with it.

Here’s the link to my reviewfor citations.

And, here’s the PDF to download.

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Bombs + Dollars’ analysis of the House Intel report on Snowden

Edward Snowden was a portrayed as a frustrated worker who clashed with colleagues, failed workplace training, and exaggerated his credentials in a report by the United States House of Representative Intelligence Committee. Most damningly, it alleges that he has passed on classified information to the Russian government. In the words of Bombs + Dollars editor Sumantra Maitra, “This is rough.”

The House Intel Committee began investigating in 2014 in order to analyze the damage Snowden’s leaks did to U.S. national security and how to minimize the risk of it happening again. It is worth noting that the Intel Committee has their own point of view. The 4 page report available to the public is but a small summary of the classified 36-page report, with information selected to best make their case. The committee’s investigation avoided interviewing individuals who may be witnesses as a possible trial of Snowden and in some cases interviewed second- or third-hand sources who had reviewed reports of interviews with Snowden’s colleagues, rather than the colleagues themselves. Nonetheless, much of the information is in-line with what has been reported in journalistic and non-governmental sources about Snowden, though some of the House’s claims are worded in a sensationalistic manner.

First, the report states that Snowden caused “tremendous damage to national security.” The information he revealed that Glenn Greenwald and other journalists published about U.S. intelligence programs both domestic and abroad is, of course, available to anyone with an Internet connection. That is a necessary consequence of a journalistic expose, and journalists can only control the degree to which they minimize the most damaging information, but it is sometimes justified for public knowledge.

Yet a large amount of the information published had nothing to do with spying on American citizens–or even foreign citizens. The U.S. tapped the phones of foreign leaders, for example, and conducted espionage on its rivals during diplomatic and trade negotiations, it was reported, based on Snowden’s leaks. “[T]he vast majority of the documents he stole have nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests,” the report says. Snowden has already admitted that he didn’t even read all the documents he leaked.

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Trump claims credit for Obama releasing birth certificate he thought was fraudulent

Donald Trump has a new excuse for why he has been a birther for all these years–let’s call it “the excuse of a five-year-old”: Hillary Clinton started it!

After weeks of Trump refusing to answer the question, his campaign put out a statement on September 15, and he reiterated the statement in his own words the next day.

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama,” wrote Trump’s Senior Communications Advisor Jason Miller, whose name sounds humorously similar to that of the PR man Trump once pretended to be. There you have it: In the words of the Trump campaign, the birth certificate controversy was a smear.

So why did Trump raise the issue in 2011, then, years after it had been proven—in part due to the controversy that Trump blames on Hillary—that Obama was born in Hawaii?

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“Snowden did share intelligence [with Russia]”

In the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee report on Edward Snowden, there is a quote attributed to a Russian parliamentarian that “Snowden did share intelligence” with Russia.

The full quote, as reported by NPR, from Frants Klintsevich, is as follows:

“Let’s be frank, Snowden did share intelligence. This is what security services do. If there’s a possibility to get information, they will get it.”

Not a confirmation or a direct claim, it appears, but a claim about a general practice.

Here’s the whole article: During Tenure In Russia, Edward Snowden Has Kept A Low Profile

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Here are the #deplorables

Last week Hillary Clinton said, “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. … But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change.”

Donald Trump seized on those comments, making an ad out of it, and his supporters on Twitter got offended, claiming that Hillary was “attacking half of America,” and adopted the term for themselves. Donald Trump Jr tweeted an image of himself cast in a movie with other deplorable individuals, like conspiracy theorist and Trump source of information Alex Jones.

Who were those people in the #BasketOfDeplorables Hillary was talking about? Do they really exist? Presenting a few examples:

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Special Post: Lionel Shriver’s full speech

Editor’s Note: We usually follow a strict editorial line, of freedom of speech. The recent needless controversy regarding Lionel Shriver’s speech on Cultural Appropriation is phenomenal, and we at Bombs and Dollars believe therefore that it is our duty to repost and share the speech for everyone to read and share. (Source:The Telegraph, Photo Courtesy: Google Creative Commons.)


 

I hate to disappoint you folks, but unless we stretch the topic to breaking point this address will not be about “community and belonging.”

In fact, you have to hand it to this festival’s organizers: inviting a renowned iconoclast to speak about “community and belonging” is like expecting a great white shark to balance a beach ball on its nose.

The topic I had submitted instead was “Fiction and Identity Politics,” which may sound on its face equally dreary.

But I’m afraid the bramble of thorny issues that cluster around “Identity Politics” has got all too interesting, particularly for people pursuing the occupation I share with many gathered in this hall: fiction writing.

Taken to their logical conclusion, ideologies recently come into vogue challenge our right to write fiction at all.  Meanwhile, the kind of fiction we are “allowed” to write is in danger of becoming so hedged, so circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing the anodyne drivel to begin with.

Let’s start with a tempest-in-a-teacup at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

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Trump “conservatives” admit they don’t care about policy

Trump’s campaign has stripped from much of the “conservative” movement the illusion that they care about policy. Entertainers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity just want listeners. Politicians just want power. Many of the voters just want someone who looks like them and espouses vague cultural views with which they agree.

This theory has been proven clearly this election cycle, and now even the power players are close to publicly admitting it. When Trump expressed support for universal healthcare and expressed every position under the sun on other issues, it was evident that policies didn’t matter for his supporters, but it was not evident that they themselves knew it. It was possible they could have been deluded, believing in Trump.

Trump’s flip-flops and fake positions have been coming quicker and quicker now that he’s trying his “pivot” with two months left till the election. He followed through with a “softening” of sorts on illegal immigration, giving up his promise to deport all 11 million illegal aliens. (That wasn’t necessarily a conservative position, but it was one that his supporters presumably supported.) Now that he made a show of claiming to have proposed a maternity leave plan, leading self-proclaimed conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh threw aside concerns about the impact of the “big government” program.

Rush said:

I think they’re gonna respond so positively to this, and it’s gonna disappoint a lot of people. “Oh, my God, do people not even understand the whole concept of Big Government destroying the country?” They don’t, folks. They don’t look at it the way you and I do in that regard.

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How Bush and Obama let ideology mislead their foreign policies

In my latest column for The Federalist I argue that Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama both followed their ideologies and idealism too closely on Iraq. The result is the current mess we have in Iraq and Syria.

To quote some of the important passages:

Yet a war can just as easily lead to mass American deaths. In fact, in the years since 9/11, 30 times more Americans died fighting in Iraq than died from terrorist attacks. Those mistakes have been well-reported over the years, and the Chilicot Report adds some details but not too much groundbreaking information. In short, the United States and United Kingdom didn’t do enough preparation and were overconfident about their ability to spread democracy to a country with no experience of such. It was a classic example of idealism overpowering cold analysis of facts.

Bush thought spreading democracy would mean more freedom, and that freedom and democracy would create open societies and discourage radicalism. We Americans value our political freedoms. Seeing people around the world suffer under tyranny is disheartening indeed, and it would be wonderful if all people could live in freedom.

But events in recent years in places like Egypt, with its election of the Muslim Brotherhood; Libya, which collapsed into chaos; Venezuela, where Hugo Chavez won multiple semi-democratic elections; Thailand, which suffers from coups and populism; and others show that democracy doesn’t always work everywhere.

Bush didn’t spend enough time considering whether there was a reason Iraq didn’t have democracy and hadn’t had democracy before. Wishing for something is one thing, but one’s wishes and ideals shouldn’t invade the life-and-death decisions of the commander in chief.

Obama was so wed to the idea of “peace,” he didn’t think of how to win peace. … Since then Obama has begun campaigns of air strikes in Iraq and Syria and sent more troops. There are now 5,000 service members on the ground in Iraq, and generals want more. Meanwhile, Obama has slowed the ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The result is neither peace nor an end to American involvement.

Read the whole thing here: It’s Time To End Ideology-Based Foreign Policy

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I came across an interesting research paper.

What do these facts say about Gender Wage Gap and Post Grad Job Stats in Political Science and IR?

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Download and Read the whole paper here.

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Where I was on 9/11

Originally published on September 10, 2014 at China.org.cn.

I was in class in middle school when there was an announcement over the loudspeaker that airplanes had struck the World Trade Center towers in New York. The principal used delicate language when addressing the students, but I knew it was an attack. Commercial airline pilots don’t hit skyscrapers by accident. The rest of the day was surreal. Rumors circulated that a hijacked plane was heading towards my hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, but it turned out to be a false alarm. Even after watching the images on TV when I got home from school, the magnitude of the attacks was hard to comprehend.

It was like life stood still for the next week. All news was 9/11 all the time. The National Football League and Major League Baseball canceled all sporting events that week. I went to the Cleveland Browns game the next weekend. I remember the patriotic songs they played all throughout the game. “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…” Lee Greenwood’s song became familiar at sporting events and was inserted into the seventh inning stretch at baseball games. Using the restroom, I could hear the guy next to me saying we were going to get bin Laden.

If seeing 3,000 of our fellow countrymen murdered in broad daylight and landmarks of New York City’s skyline disappeared from the sky wasn’t enough, the rest of the year featured anthrax letters and an attempted shoe bombing by Richard Reid. “Panic” might not be the right word — the threat posed by international terrorist organizations was real — but there were major changes made to people’s lives that seem unnecessary in today’s light. A school field trip to Washington, DC was canceled. Many Americans weren’t traveling anywhere, let alone to the capital.

Now, thirteen years after [now fifteen], the weight of the attacks has been fading for Americans. Much of the public is tired after years of war and tightened security procedures at airports. Yet the attacks left a lasting legacy on American politics and a feeling that will not soon leave. If we needed a reminder that radical theocratic terrorism remains a problem that can’t be ignored, ISIS provided it with their surge through Iraq and the murder of two American journalists and thousands of Syrians and Iraqis.

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