Date: May 13, 2016

PODCAST: In case you didn’t have enough hilarity this week, Belgium joins Syria bombing campaign

How will that make any tangible difference in operational outcome, is however, anybody’s guess.

(In the immortal words of William Hague, “oooh scary!”)

Really…Belgium, of all countries suddenly decided to drop a few bombs. I mean, seriously, I am just a humble political scientist, but strictly by the dictates of logic and prudence, shouldn’t that money be better spent on Human Intelligence (HUMINT) gathering inside Belgium? Or Counter Terrorism operations? Or securing borders and improving surveillance and monitoring within Europe? 1448313843772

How much does one laser guided bomb, one mission, one sortie, one refueling cost, compared to CCTV monitoring, or a yearly salary of a beat-Cop or intelligence officer in Molenbeek, Europe’s jihadist breeding ground and capital? Considering the fact that the majority of Euro terrorists are from within Europe, often second generation, disgruntled urban youths, lonely losers, listening to hip hop and smoking pot, and looking for ultra-violence and misogyny, wouldn’t it be logical to monitor and control that, rather than providing them with more narrative of West interfering in the Middle East?

Just this morning, there was report, how migrant flow from Libya is not controlled. The migrants are not even war refugees, widows, elderly, infirm or children from Middle East, but healthy young men looking for jobs from Sub-Saharan Africa. Shouldn’t the money be better spent in stopping that?

I’ve written an entire essay before for War on the Rocks, on how Libya intervention was a mistake and how there are other ways of containing ISIS and stopping mass migration. But nothing really changes as Europe tries the same process of coalition, bombing, and state building, when the strategy should be one of containment and tactical amputation.

On that frustrating note, here’s the podcast.

In the words of David Petraeus, “Tell me how this ends”?

Listen, and share.


Bombs and Dollars quoted by Public Diplomacy Council

Earlier Sumantra noted how Russia has taken to tweeting images of Command and Conquer, a computer game, along with allegations about Ukraine. In more serious discourse, the Public Diplomacy Council has quoted Sumantra and I from our essay, “’New Cold War’ And Policies To Confront Russia.”

In particularly, the council, a nonprofit organization committed to the importance of the academic study that was founded in 1988 as the Public Diplomacy Foundation, quoted our recommendation that the West does a better job responding to Kremlin propaganda. If it were all just Command and Conquer tweets, it might be easier to manage (though one worries a certain U.S. presidential candidate might start talking about the need to seize Iraq’s Tiberium). Unfortunately, the problem is bigger than that, and the Kremlin has useful idiots in much of the populist far-right.

The “leave Syria to Russia” crowd certainly buys into their arguments. It’s time to identify Western activists and “useful idiots,” along with active Russian agents, who spread propaganda on Facebook and Twitter and comments boards and forums. Reach out to misinformed masses who innocently buy into these narratives, with structured and semi structured interviews and surveys, to find out what’s bothering them, and why they believe Kremlin more than their own government or news sources from their country.

See the post here where we were quoted, and read our full essay here.

Why Sadiq Khan just might be the hero UK Labour needs right now

I was in London over the weekend, on the eve of Sadiq Khan’s victory, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Sadiq Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants, charismatic, suave and secular, was elected the Mayor of London, after a grueling and ugly campaign against the former mayor Boris Johnson supported, Etonian Zac Goldsmith. Aristrocratic and uptight Goldsmith, started the campaign after accusing Khan of being an Islamist sympathizer. It wasn’t easy for Labour, being beset with internal squabbles and a bland leadership, which almost relegated the party to a sideshow and a mere spectator in the ongoing Brexit debate, where the biggest arguments are happening between and within the Tory ranks, between PM David Cameron who is supporting an In campaign, and the rebels led by Boris Johnson. Boris was also an extremely popular mayor, having overseen London turn to a financial capital of Europe beating Frankfurt, and host a tremendously successful Olympic games.

But Goldsmith, compared to the erudite Boris, was an obnoxious candidate, smug and cold and boorish, and that reflected in the campaign when he tried to gain on the xenophobic and anti-migrant sentiment with a streak of racism against Khan. It didn’t help the Tories as they are themselves in a civil war, and Goldsmith is in the Brexit rebel club, alongside Johnson, which means he didn’t have the full backing and support and groundwork help and effort from Tory volunteers.

In this toxic scenario, Sadiq Khan is a whiff of fresh air. Son of Pakistani immigrant of humble and modest origin, he is a brilliant speaker, and is considered an able administrator. He is also the modern pragmatic wing of Labour, and alongside Chuka Umunna and Liz Kendall, is considered as the future leadership contenders.

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