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 […]

Continue reading →

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 […]

Continue reading →

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) […]

Continue reading →

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 […]

Continue reading →

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, […]

Continue reading →

The Post-Employment Economy Is Permanent

Dis­cussing the wors­en­ing eco­nomic prospects for peo­ple under the age of 35 or so has been an occa­sional topic on this blog. I’ve dis­cussed the post-employment econ­omy, how the last twenty years of wage (non)growth and cor­po­rate excess have essen­tially trans­ferred mas­sive amounts of wealth from the work­ing class to the extremely wealthy, and how […]

Continue reading →

The Most Worrying NSA Revelation Yet

It’s no secret I’ve shrugged at most of the rev­e­la­tions brought about by the doc­u­ments Edward Snow­den stole: most described legal pro­grams doing things you’d expect the NSA to do — and in many cases exposed com­pletely legit­i­mate pro­grams that should never be exposed. Now, how­ever, Bart Gell­man and Ashkan Soltani have pub­lished some­thing truly […]

Continue reading →

Robo-Ethics: Do Autonomous Weapons Pose Greater Ethical Dangers or Rewards? (Video)

I had the tremen­dous plea­sure this week of vis­it­ing the Naval Post­grad­u­ate School, where I par­tic­i­pated in a dis­cus­sion with Dr. Heather Roff and Dr. Bradley Strawser about the ethics, moral­ity, legal­ity, and prac­ti­cal impli­ca­tions of allow­ing weapons to autonomously make lethal deci­sions. The full ses­sion is below:   [LINK IS HERE]   I’ll be writ­ing more on […]

Continue reading →

The Israel MOU: What We Don’t Know

The Guardian pub­lished another NSA doc­u­ment today, this time about a Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing between the NSA and Israel’s SIGINT agency, ISNU, that looks wor­ry­ing. The National Secu­rity Agency rou­tinely shares raw intel­li­gence data with­Is­rael with­out first sift­ing it to remove infor­ma­tion about US cit­i­zens, a top-secret doc­u­ment pro­vided to the Guardian by whistle­blower Edward Snow­den reveals. Details […]

Continue reading →