Monday, December 29, 2008

Hard Power/Soft Power: Peacebuilding at the Pentagon

Discussion of the new Peacebuilding mandate of the US military:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Chaos and massacres overwhelm NE Congo


Murder, muddle and panic
Nov 6th 2008 | KINSHASA
From The Economist print edition

As chaos and massacres overwhelm north-eastern Congo, diplomats and peacekeepers are struggling to get a grip

“THE situation is catastrophic,” says a Red Cross man. “There’s no other word.” Tens of thousands of terrified civilians are jamming the roads of Congo’s North Kivu province in a frantic southbound exodus in the hope of self-preservation (see map). General Laurent Nkunda’s mainly Tutsi rebels are poised to grab the eastern city of Goma after capturing most of the smaller towns in the area. Reports of massacres on the night of November 5th in Kiwanja, a small town north of Goma, have increased the panic. An officer in General Nkunda’s force said that his men had “neutralised” men in civilian clothes there who, he said, covertly belonged to the so-called Mai-Mai militias; they, along with the Congolese army and others, have been fighting the Tutsi rebels. A local clergyman said at least 180 civilians had been killed during the night.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

10 Lessons of Occupation

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Critical Terrorism Studies

ABC Radio National - The Religion Report

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Food Force

Feed the refugees and rebuild the country.

A Force More Powerful

Run your own nonviolent insurrection.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Thomas PM Barnett

American military geostrategist.

Two books:

The Pentagon's New Map The

Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating

Monday, September 1, 2008

A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It

SHORT of ghosting his autobiography, Stephen Kinzer could not have done more for the man who now rules Rwanda, Paul Kagame. “A Thousand Hills” reads like an extended interview. But even as hagiography, it tells a remarkable tale about a remarkable man.

A witness and victim of the conflict in Darfur finds a voice

Until now, the voices of the Darfuris themselves, apart from the baroque and often tendentious pronouncements of the various rebel groups, have largely gone unheard. “Tears of the Desert” is a welcome attempt to try to fill that gap.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization

Crisis States Research Centre

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People

Regarding the recent recognition by Russia of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the most sensible thing was said by, of all people, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People:

Mustafa Cemilev, the Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People stated that recognition by Russia was a dangerous precedent, even for Russia itself, since there are many pro-independence moves inside the Russian Federation, including movements in Chechnya, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. He expressed misgiving that the same situation could be repeated by Russia in Crimea (an autonomous republic within Ukraine) if Ukrainian authorities continue to be only a spectator.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Is military force the best means to defeat terrorist groups?


Taking on terrorists
Aug 16th 2008

Is military force the best means to defeat terrorist groups?


MANY studies have asked how terrorist groups are born; relatively few have described how such groups are best put out of business.


RAND concludes that police sleuthing and more intelligence work are often more useful methods when tackling smaller groups and organisations—perhaps including al-Qaeda—that operate in the shadows. Of the 268 terrorist organisations that folded, the most common reason was a change of method in favour of a political process. This happened in 43% of cases and was mainly possible where groups had specific goals that might be accommodated. A similar number of groups—some 40%—were dismantled with the help of police and intelligence work.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Previous Superpower

Review: A HISTORY OF BRITAIN, The Fate of Empire, 1776-2000." By Simon Schama. Illustrated. 576 pp. New York: Miramax Books/Hyperion. $40.

"In 1896 a young Winston Churchill arrived in Bangalore, India, as a junior officer of the Fourth Queen's Own Hussars, searching -- as ever -- for action, excitement and glory. He was a staunch believer in the British Empire. He gloried in its power but believed that it was different from all past empires, blessed with a historic civilizing mission. Britain was the bastion of liberty, destined to spread its values through backward lands. The empire's purpose, he wrote, was to ''give peace to warring tribes, to administer justice where all was violence, to strike the chains off the slave, to plant the seeds of commerce and learning.'' ''What more beautiful idea,'' he asked, ''can inspire human effort?''

And yet, Simon Schama writes, in the third and final volume of his ''History of Britain,'' ''There was an awful lot of hanging around in the club, pending the accomplishment of these great goals.''"

'An End to Evil': Showing Them Who's Boss

Review: AN END TO EVIL How to Win the War on Terror, by David Frum and Richard Perle. 284 pp. New York: Random House. $25.95

"Moreover, the impression the authors give is that they and their confederates were outraged by Clinton's (weak-kneed) efforts against Al Qaeda. In fact neoconservatives were silent about Al Qaeda during the 1990's. One searches vainly through the archives of the Project for the New American Century, the main neoconservative advocacy group, for a single report on Al Qaeda or a letter urging action against it before 9/11. (There are dozens on the China threat, national missile defenses and Saddam Hussein's weapons.) Clinton may merely have lobbed missiles at terrorists, but the neoconservatives did not even launch a blast fax."

'Disarming Iraq': Lack of Evidence

Review of DISARMING IRAQ, by Hans Blix. 285 pp. New York: Pantheon Books. $24.

"Every country -- yes, even France -- was coming around to the view that the inspections needed to go on for only another month or two, that benchmarks could have been established, and if the Iraqis failed these tests the Security Council would authorize war. But in a fashion that is almost reminiscent of World War I, the Pentagon's military timetables drove American diplomacy. The weather had become more important than international legitimacy."

How Terrorist Groups End

from Outspun by the Taliban

Most interesting:

Global policy experts at the Santa Monica-based RAND Corporation have made an exhaustive study of the forces that determined the fate of almost 650 terrorist groups which operated between 1968 and 2006. Their objective was to examine how terrorist groups come to an end. The findings are sober reading. The most common demise for such groups - in 43 per cent of cases - was a transition to the political process. Effective police work defeated another 40 per cent and 10 per cent dissolved after emerging victorious.

Just 7 per cent were defeated militarily. For all the military effort directed at fighting terrorism, the overall scorecard is dismal.

Anthony Cordesman

Professor Anthony H. Cordesman holds the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and is an analyst for ABC News on a number of global conflicts. He has occasionally criticized the Bush Administration's efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cordesman has authored a "wide range of studies of US security policy, energy policy, and Middle East policy." He is a former National Security Assistant to Senator John McCain...,com_csis_experts/task,view/id,3/

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

'France played major role in Rwanda genocide'

Rwanda governemnt report, definitely not authoritative.

"The release of the report comes against a backdrop of tense relations between France and Rwanda.

In November 2006, Kigali severed diplomatic ties with France after French investigating magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere accused Kagame of involvement in the death of the then president, Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu."

Death of Syrian general escalates tensions

Brigadier General Mohammed Suleiman was little known in Western or Israeli intelligence circles until he was killed by a sniper in a Syrian port on Saturday.

"He was taken out by a sniper, which is the last in a long list of ways to assassinate someone. It's very dangerous and could easily lead to a catastrophic failure."

"He was a man who knew a lot, probably too much. We have seen people like him taken out in Syria before. When you know where all the bodies are buried, you will eventually join them.",25197,24134285-2703,00.html

Monday, August 4, 2008

Senate committee recommends White Paper on peacekeeping

It also says the ADF and Australian Federal Police should develop effective inter-operability strategies, after troubles in the field caused by different work cultures.,25197,24111976-31477,00.html

Reality of collateral damage

This is an edited extract from Running the War in Iraq: An Australian General, 300,000 Troops, the Bloodiest Conflict of Our Time, by major-general Jim Molan (HarperCollins, $32.99).

We did everything we could to avoid killing innocents. The coalition did not fight just for the sake of fighting. The coalition commander, US general George Casey, and his field commanders did not want to aggravate an already difficult situation, and their first guiding principle was often expressed as the old medical dictum: "First, do no harm.",25197,24041644-31477,00.html

Downside of the Petraeus Strategy

They did not save the small American combat outpost at the village of Wanat in the Weygal valley. Two days after it was built, just after the 4.15am call to prayer on July 13th, intense gunfire streaked into the base from the village. Insurgents breached the defences. In fierce fighting, nine American soldiers were killed, more than in any single battle since 2005. Another 15 Americans and four Afghans were injured, out of a garrison of 45 Americans and 25 Afghans. The attackers were beaten back, and reportedly also took heavy casualties. But the “temporary” outpost has since been abandoned to the Taliban.

Such tiny combat outposts are an innovation of the past couple of years. They are designed to put American troops—sometimes just a few dozen—among the populace, usually alongside Afghan forces. The aim is to extend American influence outward from larger bases, which can provide artillery support. However, they are vulnerable to surprise attacks. At Wanat the defences had barely been finished, and the insurgents brought in several hundred fighters—a rogues’ gallery, say local officials, of Taliban, al-Qaeda and others.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Crisis States Research Centre

'The World is Flat': The Wealth of Yet More Nations

On the nature and consequences of the global level playing field, by Fareed Zakaria.

Regime Change in Iraq: Clinton the Author

Regime change in Iraq became a stated goal of United States foreign policy when Public Law 105-338 (the "Iraq Liberation Act") was signed into law by U.S. President Bill Clinton. The act directed that:

"It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime."

'The Assassins' Gate': Occupational Hazards

Review by Fareed Zakaria of "The Assassins' Gate," by George Packer.

Obama Abroad

Fareed Zakaria

Big Guns: The world's biggest arms exporters

The Post-American World

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Using Evolution to Defeat Disease

Paul Ewald describes how we can approach disease management so as to use evolution against disease, by providing evolutionary incentives to reduce virulence or ...

e.g. Mosquito-proofing houses can reduce or eliminate malaria.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Centre for Global Development

CGD is an independent think tank that works to reduce global poverty and inequality by encouraging policy change in the U.S. and other rich countries through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community.

Asian Rice Crisis Puts 10 Million or More at Risk

Refugees International

Refugees International generates lifesaving humanitarian assistance and protection for displaced people around the world and works to end the conditions that create displacement.

Militias Growing through 'Humanitarian' Work

During a mission inside Iraq, researchers for Refugees International found that the Sadrist movement had become "Iraq's largest 'humanitarian' organization" by providing large quantities of food, clothing, oil and other basic resources. As a result of the provision of goods and security, civilians, including displaced Iraqis, are joining militias at a rapid pace.

Darfur: Another WFP Driver Killed

So far this year 60 WFP-contracted trucks have been hijacked in Darfur, with 39 trucks still missing and 26 drivers unaccounted for. Another driver was killed while transporting food in South Darfur on 24 March.

The attacks have meant that WFP deliveries have dropped to less than 900 tons per day. Normally, around this time of year, the agency's trucks should be delivering 1,800 metric tons of food daily to supply warehouses ahead of the rainy season, due to begin next month.


This blog is a central repository for humanitarian news.