Saturday, December 31, 2011

Defense Law Signed

The stupid elements of this law would ultimately be rendered unconstitutionally obsolete if applied inappropriately. The Supreme Court will not allow american citizens to be held without trial indefinitely. The Roberts Court has been robust in recent case law re-this area.The sanctions targeted against Iranian financial infrastructure are from my perspective, welcome ones.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Iran and the Straits of Hormuz

Iran could shut down the straits of hormuz for a short period (a matter of perhaps 12 hours). However, beyond that time frame, the Iranian military would be unable to contest control of the straits with the US military. The US could (and would) simply isolate and destroy the Iranian assets in the area while applying an escalating force dynamic to deter continued Iranian aggression. Thus for Iran, while a short term spike in the oil markets would be possible, this action would come at substantial cost.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Iraq Crisis

Iraq is on the edge. Maliki must try and a find a way to get al-Iraqiya back into the political process. Al-Sadr is attempting to manipulate the space that this situation is providing. Iraq needs a cross-sectarian, stable government that respects all of it's citizens. This will take time. But wilfully ignoring Iraq's sunnis will only fuel the extremism that Iran and Al Qa'ida seek to enshrine.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baghdad Attacks

The attacks in Baghdad are a reminder of the work still to be done in securing that country. It is likely that the Islamic State of Iraq (Al Qa'ida in Iraq spin off) are responsible. The degree of systematic, co-ordinated violence is a hallmark of their operational strategy. The Iraqi government must pursue reconciliation alongside security operations. If Maliki does otherwise, he will risk further separation between Iraq's various sectarian groups. An outcome which is almost certainly the political intention of today's terrible attacks and an outcome that will risk a return to the violence of 2006.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

US-UK Intelligence Co-operation

Two Sides of a COIN. Examining the growing discrepancy between US and UK Counter-Terrorism rooted Intelligence Operations.

Tom Rogan
It is true that there exists significant consensus in terms of the political strategy that underpins both UK and US counter terrorism efforts. The two states share agreement on the need to address root recruiting factors for Sunni Islamist extremist groups – a lack of empowerment (especially for young men), weak education and institutions, a failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, absent legitimised governance etc. The ‘Arab Spring’ has helped coalesce this position beyond the stigma of the 2003 ‘neo-conservative’ ideology. This consensus being stated, there also exists a real variance of tactical methodology in UK-US counter-terrorism efforts.
For the United States, even under President Obama, counter-terrorism continues to function under an overarching ‘war’ mentality. While Obama has moved the American strategic narrative away from the notion of a ‘war on terror’ (as much for domestic reasons as for foreign policy ones), for the United States, highly kinetic attrition warfare coupled with aggressive intelligence collection efforts remains key.

For the UK however, the patient accumulation of intelligence takes precedence under a European conceived ‘rule of law’ based approach; an approach favoring traditional police investigation and criminal prosecution over more aggressive foreign action. Successive senior leaders of both the UK Security Service (MI5) and the UK Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) have often stated their profound discomfort with the notion of targeted killing and extraordinary rendition. Simultaneously, the United States continues to show a willingness to conduct intelligence operations that are inconceivable under a UK reading of international law. As former CIA Director, Michael Hayden stated to the BBC in regard to drone strikes, ‘This is a war, this is action against opposing armed enemy force. This is an inherent right of America to self-defence… [it is the CIA’s obligation] to take this war to this enemy wherever they may be.’ This isn't a partisan issue for the United States. Indeed, the frequency of predator drone strikes has increased dramatically under Obama.
In the later stages of Al Qa’ida’s failed 2006 Trans-Atlantic Plot, tensions over counter-terrorism tactics played out loudly in UK-US discussions over when and how the suspects (and Pakistan based cell controllers) were to be neutralized. A number of relationships between senior US-UK intelligence officials were badly damaged in this affair.
Interestingly, while President Obama is highly regarded by a cross-partisan consensus of UK politicians, CIA activities are regarded by the same officials with deep unease (even though these actions proceed under Presidential authorisation). It is not solely the UK Government that holds this view; British news outlets publish frequent ‘horror’ stories on the treatment of terrorist suspects at the hands of American intelligence officials.
Further exemplifying this discomfort with the perceived ‘American approach’, UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, recently announced an inquiry into allegations that UK intelligence officers were complicit in the purported mistreatment of terrorist suspects held by Gaddafi’s regime at the request of the US Government. This inquiry is the second such investigation that Cameron’s Conservative Government has ordered in response to accusations made against UK intelligence services. Conversely, the Obama Administration has been able (and has decided) to remain relatively quiet on the issue. While UK services are facing ever increasing attention and condemnation, the domestic American preference towards US intelligence efforts is very different. This preference being- that operations should be left to proceed with relative freedom and secrecy (prosecution of intelligence leaks being an area on which the Obama Administration has been as, if not more robust, than the Bush Administration).
Although significant, these tensions should not be taken out of context. Material intelligence sharing between the UK and US, especially with regards to signal intelligence, remains abundant and even symbiotic. UK-US ties in this area are ingrained and formal. However, in the context of operational disagreements, co-operation between UK and US clandestine/covert action officers is now extraordinarily politically sensitive. When it comes to sensitive joint operations, the UK and the US are now forced to ensure that their co-operation is compatible with two sets of ever evolving and very different rules. For each state, the advantages of highly skilled officers working together on a mission of shared importance, must now be balanced against the risk of undesired front page news stories and/or formal inquiries.
The questions now being asked in Washington and Whitehall will be along the following lines.

For the US, ''what risk does our intelligence sharing with the UK pose, in terms of our own operations being compromised in future UK public inquiries?'' 

For the UK, ''what risk of our officers being implicated for future ‘wrong doing’ alongside US officers?''
Implicitly or explicitly, politics will now weigh heavily at the calculating core of sensitive tactical decisions. This adds a new, uncertain dimension to a long-time and highly successful intelligence relationship.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


As the US formally end its combat mission in Iraq, the US Military can be proud of what it has accomplished. Iraq is a democracy with a cross-sectarian government. It's economy is growing slowly but surely. Iraqi journalists have unprecedented (but still insufficient) freedom. These successes are real and important.

 Although Prime Minister Maliki is showing concerning strands of authoritarianism, the Iraqi people are now the masters of their own futures. They must work to balance their government as a force that serves all their citizens equally. However, America can do little to solve domestic political disagreements in Iraq, these resolutions must come from Iraqis themselves.

In the immediate aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, coalition authorities made a number of extremely poor decisions. The over-zealous de-Baathfication campaign made hundreds of thousands of soldiers, teachers and other civil servants unemployed. The counter-terrorism focus of the US Military towards dealing with insurgents, also made opportunities for political reconciliation nearly impossible in a zero sum game. Alongside these failings and in the context of poor Iraqi government leadership, between the summer of 2003 and late 2006, many young Iraqi men joined opposing insurgent groups like Al Qa'ida in Iraq (AQI) and the Jaish al Mahdi. The violence that these organisations inflicted on the Iraqi people and on coalition forces was horrific and relentless. The violence destroyed any tangible opportunity for political reconciliation, literally driving communities apart and leading some to suggest that Iraq would become the Somalia of the Middle East.

In early 2007, the US responded with 'the surge'. This new strategy lead to a dramatic increase in US force deployments to Iraq and focused on the internalisation into US Military doctrine of a counter-insurgency strategy. This new approach allowed American forces to set up joint security stations in Iraqi population centers, in so providing a more consistent measure of security, a closer level of co-operation and trust and a greater opportunity to support civil reconstruction/society efforts. US Military operations were now focused on acheiving specific political goals as much as they were on capturing or killing insurgents. Coupled with this new approach, was an extremely aggressive US counter-terrorism strategy that inflicted unsustainable losses on irreconcilable terrorist leaders from groups like AQI. Further, the US Military enlisted tens of thousands of unemployed  (or previously insurgent employed) Iraqi men to form local security teams to provide a crucial, lasting and indigenous effort to rid their communities of terrorist groups. The cumulative effect of these strategic changes was massive. Violence declined by an extraordinary amount and as a measure of social stability returned, so did a measure of political stability. This fragile but valuable position is where Iraq finds itself today. The US should continue to provide meaningful support for Iraq's military and exert constant but respectful pressure on Iraq's government to adopt a more cross-sectarian approach to its governance of the country. Whatever one thinks of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, the US Military has shown resolve, intellect, flexibility and courage.

America's armed forces can be proud of what they have achieved and how they went about achieving it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Gingrich strikes again

 Gingrich's statements that he believes clemency for convicted traitor and spy, Jonathan Pollard, is probably a good idea, are wrong. Treason is about as serious a crime that you can commit. Pollard should die in jail. Israel is one of America's closest friends. But on this issue (a rare concession on my part!), Joe Biden is absolutely right.

This is not exactly helpful either.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Some good photos from Ashura in Beirut yesterday. Hezbollah has major problems. They are stuck with escalating tensions vis-a-vis Israel and Iran, their support for Assad is hugely destructive to the emancipation narrative that supposedly underpins their organisation and they also have to deal with unwanted attention from the Hariri investigation. As I have previously noted, as Assad approaches his ultimate fall from power, Hezbollah will likely distance themselves from his regime. Hezbollah is playing a long game which requires the appearance at least of cross-sectarian legitimacy. Innocent people being killed by regime forces does not coalesce well with this agenda.

Football Thugs in the Netherlands.

Football thugs ruining everyone's game. So, so pathetic. Love it when the guy is pushed off the fence though!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Night Raids - Afghanistan

The ongoing night raids by US special forces in Afghanistan are necessary, proportionate and effective. They allow a clinical (albeit not perfect) application of force against identified individuals. Individuals who are playing critical roles in supporting the insurgency; constructing IEDs, organising local Taliban groups and facilitating flows of support from Pakistan and elsewhere into the country. Stopping these raids would allow the Taliban and their allies to consolidate power again and would risk undoing the substantial coalition success that has been achieved over the last year. Hopefully the US can find some measure of compromise with the Karzai government. Perhaps offering to partner more Afghan forces with US forces on these missions.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I'm an Everton fan, but I am happy for Chelsea and their manager for their victory over Newcastle today. It was deserved.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Today most of the UK government sector is on strike. They are reluctant to accept pension changes that (in my opinion) are reasonable and necessary for a sustainable fiscal track into the future. The exchanges in Parliament exemplify the skill of both Cameron and Miliband in debate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Iran and UK Embassy

The attack on the UK embassy in Tehran is another indication of the instability of the region. The UK Government should cut diplomatic relations with Iran. There is simply no point in talking to a regime that at the moment at least, has no interest in constructive dialogue. These tensions will continue to grow in the context of Iran nuclear program. As I have noted, Israeli is likely to attack Iran's nuclear program in the coming months. Today's action by Iran damages the notion that Israel could tolerate an weaponised nuclear capacity.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On the debt, Republicans must decide between Norquist and the nation.

Republicans in congress have a clear choice between common sense compromises on revenue or, an illogical orthodoxy that will paralyse the country's finances, gut the military and render the party totally divorced from the values of compromise, national interest and reason on which it was formed. In terms of the national interest, reforming the tax code by lowering rates and eliminating deductions, is very literally a small price to pay for a comprehensive deal. Refusing such a deal on the basis that more revenue is inherently wrong, is not just illogical in terms of the need for a debt deal, but serves only a small class of Americans- mostly ideologues like Norquist and tax lawyers working the system. Republicans must decide whether the party stands for an enlightened view of the national interest or for the whims of special interest groups detached from reality.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NYC Protest

Throwing acid at cops- sure fire way to alienate public support. Some people in this movement are so f%%%ing stupid.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

US Defence Spending

Although planned cuts to defence spending (around $450 billion/10 years) are necessary in light of the US fiscal situation, the fall-back cuts that will occur if Congressional debt negotiations fail will be catastrophic. As Secretary Panetta noted in his letter, such cuts would pose a real burden on America's force posture capabilities. These cuts would weaken dramatically our ability to deploy on short notice to high effect around the world. Further, the cuts would damage our ability to apply decisive force on major operations. As a party that has heavily supported US military action over the past decade and continues to regard itself as the national security party, for Republicans to sacrifice these cuts at the altar of an anti-revenue ideology, would be a moral and strategic failure of major proportions.

US Security at the London Olympics

Reports surrounding american security engagement with the UK over the 2012 olympics should not be a cause for concern. The US has traditionally sent security teams to escort athletes at major sporting events- including football world cups and previous olympics. These teams, predominantly from the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, work within an agreed framework alongside the host nation, supporting but not leading the security effort to protect competitors/officials involved. Previous US involvement has never been a cause for incident but instead has served to provide a valuable addition to the overall security effort. The resources and capabilities of the US government, especially with reference to event security and VIP protection are unparalleled. In this regard, while some might seek to portray an american desire to send security agents to London as arrogant and unwarranted, these agents can provide crucial support to an extraordinarily complex security challenge. Contrary to public attitudes, the US will neither seek to ignore english laws or to take over the UK's security control. Rather, in allocating specialist teams towards limited security concerns, the US will free up UK security resources and help to maximise the likelihood of the olympics proceeding without major incident.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Obama deserves praise for America's return to Asia

Obama's trip to Asia is a long overdue step towards re-establishing american influence in the region. Since 9/11, american foreign policy has been obsessed with the middle east and islamist extremism to the detriment of compelling interests elsewhere. The rise of democracy and economic growth in Indonesia, a country with around 240 million citizens, is an area where american foreign policy can play a positive supporting role. In attending the ASEAN summit in Bali, Obama will also be able to improve american relations with states like Vietnam and the Philippines that are concerned by Chinese expansion and perceived bullying on the part of that country. Obama's trip also plays a bigger purpose in that it will provide the signal of american commitment to the free movement of goods and services across the Indian Ocean. Supporting democracy, peace and economic growth in Asia serves both American and regional interests, Obama should be praised for this strategic endeavour.

Justin Timberlake winning hearts and minds.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Police at today's student protest

The police did a great job at today's protest. They contained the protest along the agreed route march, they dominated ringleaders with targeted snatch squads as here and they stopped an occupation of Trafalgar Square. The protesters were able to make their voices heard in a way that didn't infringe on the freedoms of other Londoners to get on with their lives. This was policing resource intensive and a protest low in violence. Incidentally, I suggested this would be the case in my post yesterday ;). Loving the people who are complaining there were too many police. Who complains that there are too many police unless you want trouble?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Policing tomorrow's student protest

On Wednesday, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts will march through London. While the protest will likely centre around a peaceful majority marching in pursuit of their beliefs, the news that a large number of police officers will be assigned to the march, some armed with riot guns, should not be a cause for alarm.

The violence at last year’s student protests, the TUC protest in March and the summer riots were in large part, the result of groups of committed, violent individuals who were focused on hijacking peaceful movements in order to create chaos. These individuals inflicted substantial harm on the agendas of the protests they invaded and caused substantial injury to people and property alike. In responding to these offenders, the police were at the ground level often courageous, but also hampered by a blunt, rigid strategy that was too often predicated on kettling, stand-off pursuit and after-incident investigation. These weaknesses needed to be addressed and yesterday’s announcement shows that to some degree, they have been.

While riot guns evoke understandable emotional discomfort among a British population expectant of ‘consensual policing’, a logical analysis of riot guns establishes that they can provide an important policing role. They can do so in enabling the police where necessary, to apply reasonable force in a manner that is both discriminate and decisive, while minimising the risk of injury to the surrounding public. Combined with the Met’s assertion that they will ‘act swiftly and decisively if people do engage in criminal acts’, we can infer that the police will move to prevent the rolling violence that has characterised earlier protest hijacks. It is this strategic element that forms the first part of why we should welcome yesterday’s announcement. Improving police capabilities allows the police to tailor their operational strategies to particular circumstances, mitigating risks and hopefully improving outcomes. Lines of riot police armed only with batons are inherently limited in how and to what effect they can operate. However, improved capabilities are not alone sufficient. It is also important to remember that the police are still bound to the stringent reasonable force test under English law. This requires that any use of baton rounds will have to be justified subjectively and objectively under the law. Riot guns will serve as a means of counter-escalation rather than of standard application.
We are right to hold our police to high standards and to demand investigation when they fall below these requirements, but asking police officers to go into potentially violent situations without the tools that they need to defend themselves is profoundly illogical, morally repulsive and a cowardly dereliction of our public contract with these public servants.

There is however, a second point that explains why we should welcome yesterday’s announcements.

Beyond the strategic need for improved police capabilities, where we lack a police force able to safeguard our protests effectively, we cause simultaneous damage to our democracy. Where a violent minority can perpetually hijack free speech and turn the streets into war zones every time a protest takes place, the protesters themselves are unjustly framed in the same deeply unpleasant picture as the violent offenders. In such situations, news debates on government spending are inevitably lost to a sea of violent imagery perpetuated by 24 hour news cycles. This in turn obfuscates public debates and reinforces vested interests who desire the labelling of protesters as idiotic thugs.

The central point is that we need protesters who are able petition government freely, in a way that is inclusive to all, including those who wish to attend with children. Protecting the rights of these individuals and those around them requires police strategies and capabilities that might at first appear unpleasant but are in fact proportionate and necessary.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Iran and Obama's options

With regards to the Israel-Iran nuclear crisis, Obama's options are limited. It is highly improbable that Obama could prevent an Israeli attack simply by demanding to Netanyahu that he not proceed. Israel regards an Iranian nuclear weapon as a precursor to a second holocaust and thus as a situation absolutely irreconcilable with their national security. The importance of this determination outweighs even Israeli attitudes towards maintaining strong relations with the US. Correspondingly, the US is left with a single line of approach: increasing international pressure for sanctions and preparing for the aftermath of an Israeli strike. The US has no interest in directly participating in an Israeli operation but has every interest in preventing any Israeli strike from leading to the outbreak of a regional war (which is as I suggested, unlikely).  Obama's real choices will come after an Israeli strike - ie - what response the US takes if Iran retaliates against US interests. How would Obama confront an Iranian attempt to mine the straits of Hormuz? or an attempted attack on the US Navy? Or on US forces in the region?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Israel - Iran and the potential for 'war'

Israeli military action against Iran is likely to occur but unlikely to lead to a regional war

The growth of Iran's nuclear capability means that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities is becoming likely. However, while the repercussions of an Israeli strike would be extremely serious, such a strike would be unlikely to escalate into a regional war.

Although the US and EU remain deeply concerned by Iran's nuclear program, for Israel, the perceived threat runs much deeper. Put simply, Israeli nuclear security strategy is indelibly hardened by the experiences of Auschwitz and Treblinka. Israel regards an Iranian nuclear weapon as a precursor to a second holocaust and thus an outcome that cannot be tolerated. Indeed, unilateral Israeli strikes against an Iraqi nuclear facility in 1981 and a suspected Syrian nuclear facility in 2007, provide clear evidence of Israeli attitudes towards perceived regional nuclear threats. The Israeli government believes that even if Iran were unlikely to use a nuclear weapon,  the very possession of that capability would enable Iran's leaders to wage unrestrained aggression against Israeli interests. This could either come through encouragement to allies like the Lebanese Hizbollah, directly through Iran's intelligence services, or through a combination of both. 

The central point is that Israel believes that a nuclear Iran would inevitably translate as an Iran that cannot be deterred.
In practical terms and contrary to popular opinion, effective Israeli military options against Iran, though highly complex, are not impossible. The Israeli Air Force has advanced 'bunker busting' bombs capable of penetrating hardened facilities and the Israeli Air Force regularly trains for long duration, deep penetration operations. Critically important also is the fact that Israel's sunni arab neighbours are terrified of a nuclear Iran. These states may well provide logistical support to 'quietly' facilitate Israeli action.

It is true that if Israel attacks Iran, the consequences would likely be serious. In the aftermath of Israeli strikes, Iran would probably attempt to attack Israeli interests worldwide while encouraging HAMAS and Hizbollah to launch attacks against Israel from Gaza and Lebanon. In addition, Iran might attempt to close oil transit routes through the straits of Hormuz. These actions would create  regional instability, civilian casualties and would cause significant economic disruption. However, at the same time, the Iranian leadership also know that if they were to engage in major retaliation- for example by attempting to ignite a regional war or using chemical weapons against Israel, this would result in an escalatory dynamic that they could not survive. Iran is fully cognizant of the fact that the US would not allow Israel's survival to be threatened and that any substantial attack on US interests would incur an overwhelming American response. While the Iranian leadership are right in judging that there exists no American appetite for a ground invasion of their country, they also understand that In the event of a war, the US Air Force has the capacity to launch devastating attacks against Iran with relative impunity.

Ultimately, both Israeli and Iranian policy will be born of distinct, changing but rational analysis.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

NYPD Policing of Protest

NYPD are such a fine police force. The integration between the patrol, investigation, riot and intelligence units is fantastic. Having detectives at the protest provides strong evidence collection capabilities. The willingness to rapidly and in a targeted, aggressive fashion arrest those who want to be violent also dissipates any riot mentality on the part of the crowd. This allows peaceful protesters to make their voices heard.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Iranian Plot

The two men also discussed killing the ambassador in a restaurant which the diplomat frequented.

In the aftermath of this plot (technically an act of war), a much more robust American policy towards Iran is required. Medium-Large scale military action should rightly be ruled out, but tougher sanctions are simply not sufficient. This is not to say America should once again embrace the illogic of the neo-conservatives, but the lack of credible American response to Iran's support for death squads in Iraq and attacks on coalition forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan have allowed the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to come to perceive the US as both weak and impotent. This must change. Correspondingly, the US should exert more pressure in attempting to change the revolutionary guards behaviour. This could include tougher sanctions, financial seizure of foreign held Iranian government bank accounts and the consideration of targeted covert operations against revolutionary guard leadership linked to the plot, or even a petroleum blockade of Iran. The criminal affidavit apparently states

When the informant expressed concern that 100 to 150 people could be injured in a bombing of the restaurant, including “senators who dine there,” Arbabsiar said “no big deal.'

A materially activated plot against the US by Iranian agents is an act of war. War is not an option nor a preference but a serious American response is certainly required.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hank Williams and Obama

In response to this.. 

ESPN's decision to scrap Hank Williams song 'All My Rowdy Friends Are Back for Monday Night' from their Monday Night Football intro was correct. National politics have no place in america's sports. Our sports represent the one great, social element of american society not infected by the rancour that typifies our current national discourse. In this sense, sports is the great unifier. Whether in baseball, basketball, football or hockey, in sports, only the game counts. We rightly expect our respective teams to reflect the best of our dynamic culture; mutual commitment to each other in the context of passionate, ultimately respectful competition. We must seperate our political dysfunction from our sports.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Counter-Terrorism operations are often lacking in the clinical effectiveness of today's reported operation against the Haqqani network and yesterday's operation against Awlaki. This is not down to failures on the part of Counter-Terrorism services, rather, the high degree of risk and luck that goes into any successful outcome. As this speaker shows..  He served on this operation.

Friday, September 30, 2011


I welcome the end of Anwar al-Awlaki

The killing of al-awlaki was necessary and legal. This is so because of the state of effective war between Al Qa'ida and the United States, the authority of the President as commander in chief to defend the US (following chapter 7 rights to self defense), alongside the lack of a judicial capacity in Yemen to deal with Al Qa'ida agents in alternative ways. Although targeted killing is clearly unpleasant and is far outside the usual codes of conduct for international affairs, in this case, with Awlaki's leadership and propagandist position posing a clear, growing threat to US national security (I will expand on this), today's action was necessary and as outlined above, also legal.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ISI support for Kabul Attack

The news that the ISI provided material support for the Haqqani network's attack on Kabul, is no shocker. The ISI supports anyone who serves their own short term (delusional) view of self-interest. The US Govt should launch a concerted effort to exert pressure on Pakistan's govt to end their support for terrorists.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Obama's Budget

The President's budget is a joke. It counts savings from Iraq and Afghanistan.. it fails to make any substantial reforms to medicare/medicaid (obviously the political loss of raising the entitlement age was not worth the good it would do for the country) and it uses a class warfare narrative to raise taxes on the wealthy without instituting tax reform. At least the restrooms in the Republican caucus will be well stocked with paper. That's all this bill is good for..

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


The Unions are nuts.

They bitch about bankers being greedy and then act in exactly the same way. Actions without consideration for the impact on the rest of society. How is it fair that a private office worker or builder has to pay taxes to support the unions gold plated pensions. What a joke.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Union Violence

This is disgusting. But don't hold your breath waiting for the President to condemn.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Just watched the Manchester City v Tottenham and Manchester United v Arsenal games.. Unbelievable football from the two Manchesters..
In terms of the league, Tottenham are sinking fast and Arsenal are in desperate need of 1) A top player to replace Nasri/Fabregas 2) A restoration of the self-belief that seems to have evaporated since they qualified for champ league last week. Amazing goals though. And.. I have Rooney and Nani in my fantasy team.. so pretty happy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Freedom issues..

1) 'I went to a journalist'. As an intelligence officer, you cannot give classified material away without the receiver holding an appropriate clearance level. If in doubt.. do not shout. It is not up to individuals to decipher the legality of complex intelligence programs. Clearly, where evident wrongdoing occurs it should be brought to light.. but Mr. Drake's case is less than convincing in this particular scenario. (I do believe in the journalist right to publish whatever intelligence they have access too... hopefully with caution... just not the right of an intelligence officer etc to leak that information)

2) Rice and Cheney both have their bios coming out in the next few weeks.

3) Interesting how no one gives a shit about Africa... So sad. Most people are satisfied with an annual Bob Geldof concert and throwing a few dollars/pounds at 'Africa' each year. Think of the support that we could bring to bear for Congolese Government if we really wanted to.

4) Another Japanese Prime Minister. The country needs some strong leadership that can win the support of the public and push through a coherent debt reduction plan, alongside recovery from the earthquake.

5) It is appropriate that there be a memorial at the Flight 93 crash site.

6) A slightly comical event in Libya.

7) The UK debate surrounding the censure of social media sites during riots is stupid. Social media exists to propel freedom of speech. Where criminal acts take place online, the police can follow these actors to the source of their crime and can prosecute them with the evidence of their words-following action. Constricting the freedom of a country to make it easier to catch a few criminals is truly absurd. Sometimes I wonder what planet some politicians are on. Though, I suppose I am not alone in that regard.

8) Red Sox crushed Toronto last night. Thanks Gonzalez.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cold Truths

1) Gadaffi's regime is finished. The question now.. what follows? Libya's tribal society and the distinct absence of  institutions necessary for a functioning state are not conducive to a peaceful, democratic transfer of power. Expect blood shed, instability and general chaos.

2) Meanwhile in Syria.. people are still being shot on the streets. I will hopefully have a Guardian piece come out on Hezbollah's role in Syria.

3) To me, Jon Huntsman is the best Republican candidate. Read the transcript of his weekend interview on ABC News here - honesty and tough decisions.

4) The Turkish Military is attacking the Kurdish separatist movement - Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Northern Iraq. Tensions in another part of the ME..

Monday, August 8, 2011


Put simply, in a system in which the penalties for serious public disorder are weak and the power given to business owners to defend their property is almost non-existent, then rioting is exceptionally hard to stop. This situation is exacerbated by the inability of the Metropolitan Police to apply the level of coercive force needed to bring the disorder to a resolution (that only a political decision can resolve). This is not to say that the police should apply unwarranted violence, but the current tactics of containment are woefully insufficient to deal with roving gangs that have greater a 
dispersion mobility than the police.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

I want to focus on just one issue today: The reality of evil in the world and the need to confront this evil. 

In Norway, one gunman launched a killing spree against children and attempted to murder as many people as possible by bombing central Oslo. In Afghanistan, the Taliban executed an eight year old boy because his father refused to collaborate with them. 

These acts are evil. If they are not evil, then evil has no meaning.

While we should never allow emotion to dictate policy or our reaction to these atrocities, we must be resolute in our responses. This means that where we face groups and individuals who are focused on committing such terrible abuses against us, we have a responsibility to stop them. We must persuade reconcilable elements to join a meaningful peace process (as for example occurred in Iraq and N Ireland) and we must capture or destroy those who are irreconcilable to a just peace. To do otherwise is to allow evil to triumph.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) The debt talks seem to gathering steam.. though I would hope that the savings will exceed $4bn. If not then the solution will be temporary.

2) Hopefully this will continue. (Obama fundraisers deserting him)

3) These guys should be tried for treason. (British Taliban fighters detained in Afghanistan)

4) HOT weather in US.

5) This guy is the definition of a major league ass hole.

6) The Space Shuttle program has been a great success for the United States. It is profoundly disappointing that the President has essentially cancelled our efforts in Space. I find this especially staggering in the context of the President's oft stated desire for a new more globally competitive, educated population. What is more encouraging for students to learn math and physics than the space program? Put simply - the space program made these subjects cool. Obama probably thinks his words are sufficient. Hopefully a future President will right this wrong decision.

7) Another Medal of Honor winner. Fantastic.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) The guy who attacked Murdoch was a fool who distracted proceedings.

2) The Senate debt talks are encouraging. If Republicans reject this plan they will be ignoring their duty as elected officials to seek a meaningful and substantive resolution to America's debt crisis. The cut/cap agenda is not politically possible and neither is a solution that resides solely on cuts. If the United States is to avoid the disaster of debt failure then we Republicans must pursue the art of the possible. The senate plan appears to offer the closure of loopholes as a solution for revenue increases alongside meaningful reforms to medicare/defense, discretionary spending and medicaid. These attributes should be welcomed as reasonable alternatives to tax increases and clearly preferable to doing nothing. The plan appears to be one that supports Republican interests. The tea party revolt was staged on the principle of national unity in the pursuit of a common necessity. Willful inaction would be a betrayal of that bold legacy.

3) The collapse of the Tevez transfer to Corinthians is indicative of the big problem that Man City have. They want a lot of money for a player who is temperamental and has huge wage demands.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) Herman Cain is not worthy of the Republican party. Watching his comments on Fox News Sunday last weekend, it was clear that he is a bigot. Eugene Robinson for the WPost sums up well -

2) This would be great for Everton. Saha is great but his vulnerability to injury means that other options are also needed.

3) So much bull s**t in the debt talks. What I would do - see my post from May 11th.

4) Today's interviews with Murdoch and co will be fun.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) Petraeus has done a  typically great job in Afghanistan. The strategy there is working and requires patient resolve. John Allen is an impressive officer who can ensure that this success continues.

2) The Met Police Commissioner (Head of Scotand Yard) was right to resign. I think Cressida Dick would be the best choice replacement.

3) The unions would be crazy to reject NY Gov. Cuomo's over generous offer.

4) Israel - Hizballah - Iran is heating up even more. Especially interesting in the context of Ahmadinejad's friction with the theocratic elite.

5) Manchester City appear to have got a good deal for Tevez.

6) This video reflects the terrible struggle underway in Mexico. Only resolve against the drug gangs can end the violence. These police officers gave their lives to try and save their country. Mexico reminds of me of how Columbia was in the 80s-early 90s.. in that country resolve and strong leadership has brought lasting peace. FARC, once thought invincible, now spend most of their time running around in the jungle trying to avoid Columbian special forces.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

I have been v busy with Wimbledon and other things recently. I will be back on tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) I have another guardian piece coming out tomorrow.. hence the absence of posts.

2) For a class action lawsuit to be successful there must first be a unified, identifiable class. 'In or out'

3) I wonder how many UK SSNs are on there way to the Falklands. A couple if Cameron has any clue about national security.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

Exams over so back to it.

1) The Argentinians are increasing pressure on the UK vis-a-vis the Falkland islands. They know that the UK has gutted its expeditionary force capability and in so has presented a great opportunity to push the issue up the agenda. On the other hand, I would imagine that the Royal Navy has one or two Trafalgar Class subs somewhere around here. It is unlikely that the US (at least under the current administration) would provide much more than covert intelligence support for UK forces during a second Falklands war.

2) Greece has major problems. Obviously. The entrenched special interests in that country (the wealthy who hate paying taxes, unions etc) do not want to give ground and the French and Germans are fighting each other over how best to proceed.

3) Strauss-Kahn was bitching about his cuffs.

4) The Israelis are getting ready for another show down with a Gaza flotilla that will sail this month. The flotillas are a nightmare for Israel. The Israelis cannot allow the ships to reach Gaza (to do so would be a direct, unacceptable challenge to Israeli authority and would invite an image of weakness that is unaffordable) but they are also desperate to avoid more negative publicity in the run up to the UN meeting in September. My opinion is that the Palestinian UN state hood move is counter-productive. Although, it is sad that the Lieberman is the Israeli FM. He lives in a dream world and may also be corrupt.

5) The US relative silence on Syria has been pathetic. Assad is committing terrible abuses and Obama is staying quiet. Even from a purely US interest-centric viewpoint this is counter-productive. Iran and Hizballah will view American silence on Syria and impotence in Lebanon as examples of our weakness. We need to be more assertive.

6) I think this would be a much better deal than this.

7) The Red Sox continue their excellent run. 11/12 now.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

I have exams at the moment so will not be posting.

However, I do want to draw attention to the Red Sox.. who are kicking ass.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

England and the US both played under par yesterday. Especially the US. What a joke. At least England have Ashley Young.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) The prosecution of John Edwards will as the linked article points out, be very hard. It is a tough sell to make the case that he knowingly and intentionally used campaign funds to hide his divorce. His defense team will say (according to reports) that the money was a gift from a friend and was given in pursuit of protecting his divorce from his wife.

2) These should be in Afghanistan. Period.

3) The deficit debate rolls on.. Sadly I think that the only way Obama will decide to compromise is if his hand is forced by the economy.

4) Palin being Palin.

Friday, June 3, 2011

1) Yemen is on the verge of becoming a failed state. AQAP will be loving the current situation. Yemen's water problems are a major, major issue.

2) The House of Reps is right to be angry with Obama on Libya. He has ignored them, ignored the war powers resolution and ignored the need for the development and implementation of a clear, defined and effective mission plan. It is surprising that Obama who was supposedly going to be a more consensual and less executive focused leader has been so willing to ignore congress.

3) The US must put more pressure on the Maliki government to treat protesters with fairness and dignity.

4) Weiner better get some message control going..

5) The real problem in reconstruction efforts for Afghanistan is a lack of collaboration between different government agencies combined with a lack of oversight and planning.

6) Really can't see how this is any different to Obama's plan. Obviously Obama also knows that Israel cannot negotiate on the issue of its jewish statehood.

7) Once again.. on the Babar Ahmad trial the CPS brought a case to trial that had no merit.

8) Some good news. As I wrote in the guardian, we are lucky to have these citizens.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) General Dempsey will make a superb Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He is bright, tough, grounded and has obvious attention to the costs that Iraq and Afghanistan have imposed (and continue to impose) on the Military and their families. Along with This article from seven years ago, it is clear to see why he was picked.

2) A very good article in the NyTimes concerning the above mentioned costs of war. As is this article from a couple of months back.

3) The FBI should transfer agents from its Counter-Terrorism Division into the Criminal Investigation Division. They can be assigned to supplement CT details on a reactive basis when the need arises. But the lesson of situations like this is that there are too many agents permanently assigned to 'terrorism' investigations. Of course, the political ramifications of such a change in approach are obvious. No one wants to transfer agents and then get blamed (likely unfairly) when terrorists do attack. But FBI agents are too valuable to waste on people like this guy.

4) The FIFA joke continues.

5) Barcelona's football yesterday was incredible. In my opinion this year's team is the best team in history.

Friday, May 27, 2011

1) Hillary Clinton was right to visit Pakistan. Whatever the problems in the US relationship with Pakistan, the US needs Pakistani support for a stable Afghanistan. While the ISI will continue to try and protect their own interests (marginalizing the influence of the US/getting US aid/hostile policy towards India), there are others in the Pakistani govt/military that have a more balanced outlook. It is true that they might not win out over anti-US elements, but it is also true that without US support the chances of their political defeat are substantially higher.

2) Now that Mladic has been captured we will have another opportunity to view the dysfunction of the Hague 'justice' system. His incarceration will be characterized by comparative luxury, his trial by extreme length and his punishment if (convicted) by terrible insufficiency.

3) The Senate was right to re-authorize the Patriot Act sunset provisions. I believe that there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent abuse (important oversight is critical though). The capabilities that these provisions provide are also critical to national security. European investigative tools are far more intrusive and without similar safeguards. For example, the UK domestic Security Service - MI5, only requires the signature of the Home Secretary to authorize wiretaps. Political authority not judicial.

4) Could not agree more with Andrew Exum on Libya. Especially the PS note....

5) Instead of using Obama's speech as a reach out to Arab and Israeli moderates, we have allowed Hizballah to spin our reaction in their favor. Nasarallah is now openly supporting Assad as part of the righteous bulwark against the Israeli-US conspiracy. The hypocrisy of Hizballah's Assad support is stunning (supporting a dictator while painting themselves as revolutionary emancipators)  but its acceptance by Arab moderates is only possible through our own stupidity in playing into their traditional talking points. We should be embarrassed. Congress should read some books on the Middle East rather than reading polling data.

6) FIFA is in a state of meltdown. Sepp Blatter is an ass hole but it appears he may also be corrupt. Sadly their appears to be no one respectable available to replace him.

7) The Red Sox are on fire. A nice change from the early season.

8) The Champions League Final tomorrow should be a great game. Man Utd must follow the motto of the SAS.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) How Disney ever thought that this would work is beyond me.

2) If Sarah Palin runs for President it will be unfortunate.

3) Wisconsin Republicans should pass the bill again. To do so would be good Republican politics- honest decisive action in support of basic party ideals. Republican values are not served by running around screaming like the Bachmann brigade.

4) Gen. Dempsey would be a great choice as the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. I especially enjoyed his quote about AC-130s a few years ago while fighting al-Sadr in Iraq..

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) Obama is speaking to the UK Parliament today. I hope he says that as part of a balanced relationship the US cannot be expected to subsidize European security.

2) The election of the Democrat in New York shows two things. 1) The tea party cannot win everywhere. The voters who went with the tea party candidate should consider the political value of their vote. 2) The Republicans need to do a much better job articulating the crisis facing Medicare. It should be the main Republican talking point at every stump speech to state that even with top rate tax increases the budget gap cannot begin to be resolved.

3) The Libya operation was always going to be complicated. The niavete of people who excitedly called for war was stunning. The Europeans must spend more on defence.

4) Obama has some good options for the next chairman of the joint chiefs. I think Ray Odierno would be the best pick. He has born the personal and professional burden of war.

5) Finally.. to all those who said that Obama is being anti-Israeli, read this poll.

6) The French Open is wide open. I still think Nadal will win. He sometimes takes a while to warm into the tournament.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) The ongoing Twitter saga is interesting. David Cameron has now come out against the injunctions. The New York Times seems to think that it is unlikely that Twitter will co-operate with attempts by the English courts to access the personal details of the 'tweeters'. I hope Twitter tell the High Court to f**k off. If you are in the public eye and you base your public image (and earning power) upon the visage of an honorable family man focused only on athletic excellence, but are in fact engaging in a long term affair, the public must be allowed to judge you on the truth. If you want privacy then go live in a box.

2) Once again Obama's sums don't add up

3) A shame that Mitch Daniels is out of the Presidential race. However, Tim Pawlenty's announcement ad is pretty good. I want him to win the nomination (not just because of the ad!!).

4) Yemen's problems are only going to grow. The country has no water, demographics that do not suggest political stability (very young population) and is fragmented along deep political divisions. A wonderful place for Al Qa'ida to reconstitute its Arabian operations.

5) Rumsfeld is right about the White House and Bin Laden.

6) Michelle Bachmann is an embarrassment to our democracy. This ad sums up why. Bachmann relies upon people who take comfort in locking themselves in a specific understanding of the world. I had a debate with one such individual yesterday in the comments below a Naples News article.

7) Red Sox played very well last night. Very disappointing that Blackpool were relegated from the premier league. I hope Ian Holloway gets a premier league job soon. Great guy.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) Netanyahu played Obama yesterday. The President of the United States should never allow a foreign leader to lecture him in public without retort. Especially in the Oval Office. Regardless of the content, it makes the country like a limp dick.

2) Obama should tell Netanyahu the 67 borders with associated swaps are the way it will go down. If not in their administrations then certainly in future ones. David 2000 will provide the basic foundation for peace -  Netanyahu claiming the 67 (with associated swaps) borders are not defensible is a bunch of bull. The US can (and does) guarantee Israeli security.

3) This is interesting -  I would say that body art has to be distinguished against a standard copyright entity -where the art is peripheral to the central object (the body) of the profit scheme, ie.. a model shoot or whatever. Otherwise the art takes precedence over the human being. If that is the case then anyone with a tattoo would have to seek consent to appear in the public eye. In this case, if it does not apply against Tyson then it cannot apply against Ed Helms character.

4) This is a national embarrassment. We owe at least a basic level of protection to those we incarcerate. Reckless endangerment should not be an accepted reality in prison policing.  Though I don't think the US should be held to the standards of UK prisons (where prisoners can sue for being attacked by other prisoners).

5) The Taliban continue to build their historical portfolio of atrocities.

6) Haha you can't control the twitter! If I was living in the US full time I would post the name of the footballer. However, seeing as I have a law degree to complete in the UK.. I will have to suffice by directing interested persons to search query 'footballer imogen thomas' on twitter.

7) Pretty big win.

8) Tomorrow Ian Holloway's Blackpool will play Manchester United on the English Premier League's final day. If Blackpool win then they will probably stay up. I really hope they do. Holloway is a great manager and a great guy

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tom Rogan Thinks..

1) Failed Taliban attack on US diplomatic convoy - It makes my day when the Taliban/friends blow up one of their own people with no other casualties. All time favorite - the body cavity bomber -

2) Libya is the definition of mission creep I didn't support US involvement in the intervention, but now that we are committed we have to bring the conflict to resolution.

3) This will be great
Some of Di Canio's 'finest' moments -

4) Roddick saving his energy for one last attempt at Wimbledon -