Monthly Archives: September 2016

The blogger and the bully

The article below explores how a networked citizenry can hold state officials to account, even in regimes that do not honor human rights.

Making Chinese Officials Accountable, Blog by Blog

Despite the risks, Chinese social media users are beating online censorship. Ai Weiwei, He Xie, an installation of 3,000 porcelain crabs / Photo: glasseyes view China sent its first email in 1987. It read, “Across the Great Wall, we can reach every corner in the world.”

In a sense, this man is no longer alone:

(Separately, an interesting discussion with Charlie Rose and Jeff Widener, the award-winning photojournalist who snapped the above “Tank man” photo that famously captured the spirit of Tiananmen ’89.)

Does terrorism work?

No, not really, the book review below asserts. One reason, in my view, that terrorism does not work is that there are free nations with citizens who are willing to fight and to die for the cause of order over anarchy, for a national culture that celebrates the positivism of religiosity, be it humanist or spiritual in origin, over the nihilism of religious extremism and antitheism of totalitarianism. Absent such freedom, such noble citizens, terror could mesmerize a population, instill the fear it intends, and achieve the political aims of its authors.

Is Terrorism Effective?

There might well be thousands of books on terrorism, which means that it is extremely difficult to imagine something new. But Richard English’s Does Terrorism Work? A History , due to be released next month, differs from most discussions of the terror phenomenon.

— Marcus

Off topic humor

Unrelated to the theme of this site, but related to current political winds, a classic Hollywood television show demonstrates that entertainment can help us consider the most sensational and sensitive cultural issues with humanity and humor:

Related to this site’s theme, and this post, humor — that is, the ability to tell and take a joke — can often be an excellent method to develop rapport in an interview with a subject under lawful scrutiny. It may therefore be wise for an interviewer to learn a few in-language jokes when operating overseas.

— Marcus

China holds the key

Squeezing North Korea: old friends take steps to isolate regime

SEOUL From kicking out North Korean workers and ending visa-free travel for its citizens, to stripping flags of convenience from its ships, Cold War-era allies from Poland to Mongolia are taking measures to squeeze the isolated country. More such moves, with prodding from South Korea and the United States, are expected after North Korea recently defied U.N.

Blood money?

While selling arms may be good business, Senator Paul asks if it may also be immoral, illegal, and strategically dubious:

Senator Chris Murphy adds that, inside Yemen, citizens think they are being targeted by a US bombing campaign, and this action is helping radicalize the Yemeni people against the West.

Despite objections from 27 senators, the sale passed the Senate. The other side of the debate argues that the sale was necessary because Saudi Arabia is fighting a militia backed by the Iranian government. For years Iran has conducted actions that destabilize the region, including support for terrorism and the pursuit of nuclear technology.

The Hill praises the senators who forced the vote for reasserting Congress’s proper role with respect to conducting war and overseeing foreign policy:


Senators challenge status quo on Saudi arms sales

This week, Sens. (R-Ky.), (D-Conn.), (R-Utah) and (D-Minn.) managed to singlehandedly do something that the rest of their colleagues would much rather avoid or ignore: They forced the Senate to debate the wisdom of continuing to provide Saudi Arabia with some of America’s best weaponry, no questions asked.


You’ve got mail

Some consider reading the mail of others to be a perverse violation of social norms — and a Federal crime — but since General Powell’s candid email to Ms. Clinton captures the tension between the need for modern communication devices in order to conduct state affairs and the need for security, and because it is relevant to current political winds, the following article is worth posting.

The take-away here should not come in the form of another round of lurid point-scoring from the chattering classes — “Hah, your guy did it, too!” — but through a serious discussion of how best to secure our leaders’ devices without hindering necessary communication. Then we must follow this discussion with decisive action: we must create and enforce a workable set of standards for government electronic communications.

If a good can come from the violation of Ms. Clinton and Gen. Powell’s expectation of privacy, it should be an improvement in communications security.

Colin Powell’s e-mail tips: Use private phone line, personal AOL account… and keep mouth shut

In an e-mail exchange with then-incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned that the State Department Diplomatic Security (DS) would “[drive] you crazy if you let them.” The e-mail, released yesterday by Rep.

The beginning of a long war

Citizens and soldiers of the civilized lands of this world, those that eschew the mindless cruelties of political and social extremism, its pointlessness and nihilism, must always remember why we fight, what we fight for, and remain vigilant.

Fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda fights on | The Long War Journal

All appeared lost for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in December 2001. In the years leading up to the 9/11 hijackings, bin Laden believed that the US was a “paper tiger” and would retreat from the Muslim majority world if al Qaeda struck hard enough.


Maybe a visit to the donate page here is in order today:

National September 11 Memorial & Museum | World Trade Center Memorial

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— Marcus