November 2010

Afghanistan and Iraq – a clash of ideologies, or terrorism?

The Bush GW so-called “War against Terror” created an unfortunate anti- “Ayrab” xenophobia which will not help to achieve a sensible solution to Middle East problems. Many people in the West parrot a mirror image of the radical Islamist anti-western dogma, by which for example they consider the fighting in Afghanistan not as a counter-terrorist operation, but as a clash of ideologies, with its solution the eradication of “Islamist ideology”.

This is very dangerous, as it confuses violent and illegal action with thoughts and ideas, which are only illegal under totalitarianism – or inside the totalitarianism of a terrorist cell.

Ends and Means – the Great Game is not “Defeating” the Taliban

Underpinning former US President George Bush’ admission of ordering the water boarding of terror suspects, is the assumption that the end justifies the means. Especially when combating terrorism and fighting an asymmetric war, this is dangerous and counterproductive.

Despite water boarding one of the suspects 183 times, no useful intelligence was produced – as most professional interrogators would expect.

This is a very specialised war, and UK’s new Chief of Defence Staff is right to say we cannot beat the Taliban militarily. British soldiers in Afghanistan know that, and are courageously carrying out operations to bring the Taliban leaders to the negotiating table – a long, drawn-out and painful process.

Falkland Islanders believe UK defence cuts leave them safe from Argentine territorial ambitions…

A Falkland Island editorial strongly disagrees with the Royal Navy’s insistence that scrapping Harrier, while also failing to provide aircraft for the new aircraft carrier (and other cuts), leaves the Islands vulnerable to Argentine territorial ambitions. But is this view short-sighted?

The Falkland editorial also accuses the UK media of overplaying what it and the Falkland Government say is a ‘non-existent Argentine military threat’ to the Islands, while “shamefully’ ignoring Argentina’s determined economic, political and diplomatic harassment. The editorial lists current and considerable Argentine harassment of the Islands (details in the link), which seem to me to indicate that Argentina is MORE likely in future to consider military action to achieve its strong desire to own the Falklands.

(to read the full text of this article please click the “more” button, or the link)

Armed Forces – the Nations’ All-Risk Insurance policy

Attending the incredibly moving Armistice Day Ceremony at Lloyds on Thursday (the insurance chaps, not the bankers…) got me thinking. Please take a look at the iPhone footage I took of this amazing event (about eight minutes long, including the Silence), in which the famous Lutine Bell is rung, and all trading stops.

A company cannot trade or prosper without insurance. The same is true of a country; for which the money it spends on defence is its ultimate insurance premium – and UK’s Armed Forces provide remarkable value for money, but not if the premiums are reduced as planned. London’s Lloyds, the world’s leading insurance market, honours Britain’s Armed Forces every Armistice Day, an acknowledgement of the price and value of security.

Warfighting and Torture

Torture is not permitted in full-on war by the Geneva Conventions. In asymmetric warfare, resorting to torture indicates a government unable to cope with terrorism without breaking its own laws, and abandoning the values it’s trying to preserve in its counter-terrorist campaign. In countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, already well-used to brutality, this is a slippery slope down which we shouldn’t even be looking. (This is a brief summary. Please click the link to read the full article)

The Limitations of Interrogation

The use of brutality and torture in interrogation by democracies in the face of terrorism is contentious, divisive and dangerous. Terrorists seek to undermine the people’s belief in the states’ ability to govern, so if democracies can be forced into using totalitarian measures, terrorists have succeeded in their aim.

UK Carriers’ Shipbuilder Denounces Project as “Loony Tunes Disaster”

The deputy chairman of Babcock, builders of the RN’s two aircraft carriers, says Britain is paying twice as much as it should for the F35 aircraft, to get half the capability. He says this is because of BAE Systems being the prime contractor on the carrier project whilst also being Lockheed’s partner in making the F35 aircraft. Lord Hesketh says this is a disaster that will make Britain a laughing stock.

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