Month: December 2015 (Page 2 of 3)

Weekly Reading List: China in Africa, and Le Pen wins in France

Apologies, my week was brutal, with conferences, seminars, presentations, and research training. But I managed to write my two pieces somehow…so here they are.

  1. The Far Right march continues in Europe, and France is the third largest country to fall, after Hungary and Poland. With the rise of xenophobia and borderline fascist rhetoric rising on both sides of the Atlantic, it might be an interesting year in 2016. My first weekly column.
  2. However, one good news, for Realists across the world. As Kenneth Waltz stated, power begs to balance itself, it seems China is now firmly and irrevocably being entrenched in Africa, as not just the biggest economic balancer but also a security provider. For a continent which has seen it’s fair share of violence and poverty, it is a welcome development. My second weekly column.


Donald Trump and mainstream fascism

The Economist cover story "Playing with fear" December, 2015

The Economist cover story : “Playing with fear” (December, 2015)

What explains this bizarre abomination?

Here I explain how Donald Trump is making Fascism mainstream, and what are the explanations behind his run.


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Americans have the right to encryption devices

If you ban encrypted hard drives, only criminals will have encrypted hard drives.

In addition to its war on guns, the New York Daily News also has it out against encryption technologies that can protect the security of our information. Even though the San Bernardino terrorists didn’t use encrypted hard drives, the newspaper still warned they could have. But so can law-abiding citizens, and our rights shouldn’t be trampled just because of terrorists.

Its December 3 editorial “Making mass murder easy” says that access to both guns and encrypted hard drives enable terrorism. Somehow the problem of violence would be solved if only the government could clamp down on something we should have the right to, the thinking goes, and the government would of course make it work perfectly, keeping dangerous products out of the hands only of the bad people and not impacting anyone else at all.

Encrypted hard drives “can only be unlocked by their owners,” the Daily News dramatically warned, “Even if their owner has just been killed having completed a suicide terrorist mission. Madness.”

And what if their owner is, like most people, not a terrorist? Maybe they think that non-terrorists would have nothing to hide? Why don’t ordinary people just keep their drives unprotected so anyone—an overzealous police officer, a business rival, an ex-boyfriend—can steal it and easily look at everything on the drive?

What if the owner of the hard drive is not a terrorist, but rather a journalist who operates in an authoritarian country who has just interviewed political dissidents?

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Russian behavior and Neo-Realism

IMG_0449So, I presented my research proposal as a paper today, and it was great fun!

Was cut down Had some interesting feedback on my research design part, but otherwise came out pretty unscathed, so from a purely academic point of view, I would consider that a roaring success!

Here’re the main few points I mentioned.

  1. I am trying to predict a behavioral pattern, of Russia as a Great power, in light of a specific theory, in this case, Neo-Realism.
  2. It is an in-depth case study based research. Where the hypothesis is going to be tested in light of the theory, and then corroborated with case studies.
  3. It is a deductive research, qualitative and expository.

Anyone interested in discussing this project further, write a joint paper on this or working on similar research project, and want to suggest reading material and papers, feel free to comment or write to me on twitter!


Editor’s Exclusive: Chinese Foreign Policy Realism and Africa

What China understands about Africa that the West doesn’t

As China’s president Xi Jinping toured Africa for a China-Africa forum aimed at deepening economic and security ties, the visit is increasingly asking deeper questions about world order. President Xi mentioned recently, that “China supports the resolution of African issues by Africans in the African way.” That’s an extremely important quote, to be highlighted, which underscores Chinese diplomacy as Xi channels a Sun Tzu realism, in his way of handling one of the most important regions of the world. It also highlights a very Chinese way of statecraft, which differentiates her from the Western Neo-Liberal globalist perspective. It is important to note, as it provides answers to deeper questions about Great power behavior in a changing global order.

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Matt Lewis on broadening the Republican Party’s appeal

Matt Lewis is a columnist for The Daily Caller, The Daily Beast, and The Week, and his book Too Dumb to Fail: How the GOP Betrayed the Reagan Revolution to Win Elections (and How It Can Reclaim Its Conservative Roots) is available for pre-order at Amazon.

He spoke with me for 15 minutes about how he thinks the GOP lost its way and how he thinks it can change.

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Racism is a collectivist value, so individualistic conservatives should oppose it

Since Donald Trump said Muslims must be banned from entering America, I have encountered a number of bigoted conservatives–or conservative voters–who support Trump’s backwards plan. One, Todd Foster, even asked me (in the comment threat at Powerline Blog), “[W]hy don’t you name the American (or Liberal Western) value Muslims most admire?”

Since immigration is an individual action, the question is ill-thought out. Individualistic philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand once explained, “The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”

Rand is popular among many conservative Republicans like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul and even Ronald Reagan, among others. Conservatives usually oppose government programs that treat individuals as members of groups or societies. As Tory icon and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said:

I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.

To be racist or bigoted (yes, there is much crossover between adherents to the two concepts, and yes, Trump has criticized specific races, too, and yes, bigotry applies to religious bigotry, too) one must apply a stereotype to every individual member of a group and then act on that stereotype. So why should individualists be racist or bigoted if they can help it?

This is how I responded to Todd Foster asking me to stereotype every Muslim (and to formulate an ironclad ban on immigration based on that stereotype):

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The B&D blog watch for 2016

Old timers might remember, when we used to run this blog during the 2008/09 US Presidential Election season, we had a blog watch category.

Then as you know the story, my colleague and friend and co-editor of the blog, Mitchell, got busy with journalism as a full time foreign correspondent in China, and my career from being a conflict correspondent took a turn to academia and research and subsequently pursuing a PhD, alongside being a full time research assistant and foreign affairs columnist.

So, since this blog is resurrected, with multiple authors, I have decided that we will end this year with special mentions of a few blogposts, from blogs which I personally have started to read for quite some time now, or fellow academics and senior researchers/Professors who I follow on Twitter.

So here goes the list, in random order. 

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B+D Exclusive: Journalist attacked, witnesses threatened at neo-Nazi Golden Dawn trial

The trial against Greek’s far-right and self-proclaimed fascist political party Golden Dawn started on 20th of April this year. From the beginning is marked with controversy. Sixty nine defendant members of the neo-Nazi political party, including its founder and leader Nikos Michaloliakos, as well as lower level operatives like police officers, navy officers, and school teachers, are accused of operating a criminal organization.

Called the most publicised trial in decades, it is bringing little or almost no interest in international or European media. (With the exception of few rare visitors, I am the only foreign reporter in the courtroom all the time.) It is also rare to see local media deeply involved in case, and at many hearings photojournalists are not present in the courtroom.

This is especially worrying because of escalation of threats and violence by Golden Dawn members in last three hearings (including the one yesterday). When defendant Giannis Kazantzoglou, who is accused of participating in the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn member, was identified by a witness, he responded in a manner that suggested threats of reprisal.


Most of the time, less than a dozen local journalists can be seen in the press area of the courtroom.

“You remember me from two years ago!?” Kazantzoglou shouted at witness Dimitra Zorzou

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Terrorism has a definition, and James Holmes wasn’t a terrorist

The New York Daily News has a cover out that calls political activist Wayne LaPierre, head of the gun rights advocacy group the National Rifle Association, a terrorist. This comes just a week after the New York Daily News published an article that quoted Planned Parenthood officials as saying “hateful language” caused the Planned Parenthood shooting.

Here’s The Guardian‘s Jessica Valenti putting the argument in the clearest way: “Do we really think that there are no consequences to claiming that abortion is murder, or that Planned Parenthood is an organization of money-hungry monsters selling baby parts?”

Think about that while see people calling the NRA leader a terrorist with his picture published right next to the faces of some of America’s most vicious mass murderers.

As for those mass murderers, only two of them–the Planned Parenthood Shooter and the Charleston Church Shooter–fall into the definition of terrorism, which is politically-motivated violence. The Sandy Hook Shooter and the Aurora Theatre Shooter had no discernible motives for their crazed violence. To say that they are violent lunatics doesn’t excuse them (murdering two dozen is evil for any reason); it simply is in accordance with the facts.

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