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Current Topic: International Relations

Intelligence and Actionable Knowledge
Topic: International Relations 9:34 pm EDT, Jul 28, 2004

Last week, George Friedman gave a talk at Johns Hopkins. These are notes from that talk. (four pages)

General principles of intelligence:

1. Fight the cult of process.
2. Fight the cult of PowerPoint Executive Summaries.
3. Take the long, hard road.
4. Fight the cult of the source.
5. Fight the cult of security [risk aversion].
6. Fight the cult of the classified.
7. Fight the cult of the NIE.
8. Fight the cult of ISR.
9. Analysts must be right or get fired.

Intelligence and Actionable Knowledge


Saddam's people are winning the war -- Scott Ritter
Topic: International Relations 9:36 am EDT, Jul 25, 2004

The battle for Iraq's sovereign future is a battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. As things stand, it appears that victory will go to the side most in tune with the reality of the Iraqi society of today: the leaders of the anti-US resistance.

The most visible symbol of Saddam's decision to embrace Islam was his order to add the words "God Is Great" to the Iraqi flag.

There is no elegant solution to our Iraqi debacle. It is no longer a question of winning but rather of mitigating defeat.

Saddam's people are winning the war -- Scott Ritter


The Sources of Soviet Conduct, by X
Topic: International Relations 2:13 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2004

The political personality of Soviet power as we know it today is the product of ideology and circumstances: ideology inherited by the present Soviet leaders from the movement in which they had their political origin, and circumstances of the power which they now have exercised for nearly three decades in Russia. There can be few tasks of psychological analysis more difficult than to try to trace the interaction of these two forces and the relative role of each in the determination of official Soviet conduct. yet the attempt must be made if that conduct is to be understood and effectively countered.

David Brooks refers to this essay in today's column.

The Sources of Soviet Conduct, by X


The Future of the Greater Middle East and the Prospects for US-Russian Partnership
Topic: International Relations 1:29 am EDT, Jul 23, 2004

A September 2003 workshop examined common US-Russian interests in the greater Middle East and the potential for cooperation. It was easier to identify areas of commonality than areas for cooperation, partly because of a history of mutual distrust. Yet these nations have shown that they can overcome such obstacles.

Even modest cooperative activities, as long as they are built across the wide span of the region, may help each nation advance its own goals while improving their relationship with each other.

The Future of the Greater Middle East and the Prospects for US-Russian Partnership


History and the Hyperpower
Topic: International Relations 1:23 am EDT, Jul 23, 2004

Whether or not the United States today should be called an empire is a semantic game. The important point is that it resembles previous empires enough to make the search for lessons of history worthwhile. Overwhelming dominance has always invited hostility. U.S. leaders thus must learn the arts of imperial management and diplomacy, exercising power with a bland smile rather than boastful words.

History and the Hyperpower


A Global Power Shift in the Making
Topic: International Relations 1:23 am EDT, Jul 23, 2004

Global power shifts happen rarely and are even less often peaceful. Washington must take heed: Asia is rising fast, with its growing economic power translating into political and military strength. The West must adapt -- or be left behind.

A Global Power Shift in the Making


Iran: Time for a New Approach
Topic: International Relations 1:20 am EDT, Jul 23, 2004

A Council on Foreign Relations report, co-chaired by Robert M. Gates and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Iran: Time for a New Approach


Guerrilla Raids Force Chechen Refugees to Flee Again
Topic: International Relations 10:41 am EDT, Jul  4, 2004

Following raids by Islamic guerrillas the night of June 21 in the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia, Chechen refugees are in motion once more, saying they are being blamed for the guerrillas' success and must leave [returning to Grozy] or face retaliation in the night. They are deeply afraid.

The guerrillas overran police stations and checkpoints here early last week, and, dressed in police uniforms themselves, systematically executed law enforcement and military personnel who tried to come to their besieged friends' aid. Nearly 100 people died before the guerrillas withdrew.

In the days since, Russian and Ingush police, wearing ski masks and carrying assault rifles, have accused Chechen refugees of assisting and sheltering the guerrillas. They have been rounding up Chechen men for questioning and, the refugees say, for beatings.

But Grozy is in ruins, occupied by the Russian Army. Armored vehicles roam what passes for roads. More frightening, civilians frequently disappear.

Read on for details of beatings, forced confessions, and more.

Guerrilla Raids Force Chechen Refugees to Flee Again


Chechnya's Refugees, Detained, Beaten, Disappeared, and Forever on the Move
Topic: International Relations 10:31 am EDT, Jul  4, 2004

"Guerrilla Raids Force Chechen Refugees to Flee Again" notes the irony of refugees who left Chechnya for Ingushetia now escaping reprisals by returning to war-torn Grozny, as some fled in 1999 to Kazakhstan, where Stalin had deported them in 1944.

By shutting down their camps, Russian and Ingush authorities have long been forcing refugees to leave so Russia can claim that Chechnya is normalizing. The Russian crackdown after the attack now prompts Chechens remaining in Ingushetia to flee; even once friendly Ingush target them, with many men detained and beaten.

Russia has destabilized Ingushetia in the past few years, engineering the election of a more obedient president. People began disappearing, including a prosecutor investigating the abuses. That the attack seems to have involved some Ingush fighters suggests that Russian policies triggered it, widening the Chechen war.

Those claiming that Chechnya is part of the war on terror should consider who is responsible for the horrors there.

Chechnya's Refugees, Detained, Beaten, Disappeared, and Forever on the Move


Bush's Winning Strategy
Topic: International Relations 12:51 pm EDT, Jul  3, 2004

The diplomatic corps, the think-tank johnnies and the rest of the commentariate went into their usual sky-is-falling mode.

In fact, the members of the sneering brigade had it backward.

Bush's Winning Strategy


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