Afghan military costs alone, exceed country’s worth

Recent military cost revelations show starkly that Afghanistan is worth more strategically to the West than it actually creates itself in GDP.
But this also raises questions about the sustainability of the intended ‘Afghanisation’ of its forces, especially in the light of the now-revealed failure of US authorities effectively to oversee the re-development of Afghanistan.
This is a blog. Please click on the link below to read it – 516 words…

Forget the snow – new threat to London transit hubs

With today’s raising of the threat level to London’s transport hubs, it seems to me after the Christmas hiatus that our airport authorities are more concerned with safeguarding their industry from the loss of public confidence threatened by terrorists, than with the comfort and satisfaction of their passengers.

It seems justifiable to mess people around in the hallowed name of Security – but as we saw in the snow, that’s what the airport authorities do whenever something happens out of the ordinary.

This lessens actual security, as it makes the jobs of police and security officers far more difficult, plus exposes them to public frustrations – which should be visited upon airport administrators.

The airports get away with it because there are no alternatives to flying – so I’m New Year wishing for a low-carbon sea alternative to some air routes, if only to provide competition.

China lowers the threshold of its nuclear threats

The Chinese Peoples Army says it may use nuclear weapons if nuclear nations attack using “advanced conventional weapons” – like the USA’s intended Prompt Global Strike (PGS) system. This lowering of the nuclear threshold is exactly what powerful nuclear nations fear will become commonplace with nuclear proliferation, as less powerful nations acquire nuclear weapons.

The Hazards of Journalism

One of the hazards of journalism is being named in other people’s stories especially when they’re nonsense and you had nothing to do with them. This is exacerbated when you’ve argued long and hard against publishing the story. But certain subject areas, where governments will ‘neither confirm nor deny’ offer free reign to the fantasist…

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.

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