NaNoWriMo 2014

I’ve decided to par­tic­i­pate this year in National Novel Writ­ing Month, or NaNoW­riMo. I’ll be post­ing updates to the story, some excerpts (I’m unwill­ing to com­mit to seri­al­iz­ing every­thing here just yet), with the idea of even­tu­ally hav­ing 50,000 words or so by the end of the month. So, okay, it’s not really a novel, more of […]

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Afghanistan Should Inspire Skepticism of Syria

On Sun­day, all Amer­i­can and British com­bat oper­a­tions in Hel­mand province offi­cially ended. It was a long time com­ing, as Hel­mand has long been a thorn in the side of both country’s mil­i­taries: resis­tant to the magic COIN dust, extremely vio­lent, and polit­i­cally unsta­ble. It has been the scene of some of the worst excesses […]

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The False Promise of a Crystal Ball

If there’s one theme that could define Pres­i­dent Obama’s for­eign pol­icy the last six years, it is his tumul­tuous rela­tion­ship with the US intel­li­gence com­mu­nity. The IC is Obama’s favorite tar­get when Things Go Wrong: usu­ally because they did not use their crys­tal ball to cor­rectly pre­dict the future. It is that mis­per­cep­tion — that […]

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The ISIS Hysteria

The ISIS prob­lem in Iraq and Syria is get­ting worse. The most recent reports sug­gest there is a steady stream of recruits not just locally, but from Turkey, trav­el­ing into the coun­try to fight. The threat ISIS rep­re­sents (a grow­ing, finan­cially self-sustaining ter­ror state that is destroy­ing coun­tries, impris­on­ing thou­sands, and bru­tally mur­der­ing thou­sands more) […]

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The Action Bias of National Security Punditry

As unspeak­able hor­rors con­tinue to emerge from the areas con­trolled by ISIS, so too are the demands for the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment to “do some­thing.” Though under­stand­able, these demands actu­ally rep­re­sent a self-destructive impulse in pun­ditry, and often lead to poor decision-making that results in dis­as­trous con­se­quences after­ward. The action bias is a phe­nom­e­non were people […]

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Violence and Threat

The filmed exe­cu­tion of Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist James Foley con­tin­ues to rever­ber­ate in the United States. For many, it is their first relat­able exam­ple of the bru­tal­ity employed by the mil­i­tant ISIS group — their first sense that the men who ram­page through Syria and north­ern Iraq are, in a very basic way, fun­da­men­tally evil. But, […]

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The Decline of Journalism

There is a fas­ci­nat­ing Pew study about the grow­ing pay gap between PR flacks and reporters. As a cur­rent flack of some sort (though I work for a non-profit), and as a for­mer jour­nal­ist, I have some thoughts on the mat­ter. But first, the meat: The salary gap between pub­lic rela­tions spe­cial­ists and news reporters has […]

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