Notes from the Archive II

It merely rhymes:

Mk VII mine buried in a detour around an unfinished culvert on the new road being constructed…

Warning of concerted sabotage attempts at prestige targets and the introduction of timing and anti-handling devices…

Well-timed and expertly executed act of sabotage. The nuisance value was extremely effective considering the small effort and explosives involved…

National opinion is perhaps hardening against us.

45 Commando Royal Marine Newsletters, April 1966-June 1967

Goodbye to All That

Quintessential London: Big Ben, a Georgian-style building, and CCTV.

As what has been a wild nine months draws to a close, I’ve been saying goodbyes and revisiting all my favorite haunts (looking at you, Princess Louise). Disappointing as some aspects of the year have been (the academics, for one), there has been so much good to come out of it. As at other schools, LSE has introduced me to some of the smartest people I’ve worked, studied, and grown close with in my life. I want to thank them and point some out in particular.

  • [NAME REDACTED] writes as the Hybrid Diplomat at Hybrid Diplomacy. He’s easily the closest friend I made this year, us being in the same program and sharing two of three courses. He is a true iconoclast, “not giving a fuck” about telling it exactly like it is. His candor is refreshing. And I will miss him.
  • Shannon runs The Traveling Scholar, a running diary and travelogue of her adventures while based in London. On the one hand, her travels inspire some regrets that I didn’t get outside of the city more. But on the other hand, her writing makes it easy to live vicariously through her.
  • One of the more fascinating blogs I’ve read recently belongs to my friend Jonas F. Gjersø, The Civilizing Mission. He takes a very empirical approach to the history of empire, and the charts he has produced reveal some surprising, but always fascinating, results. He too is embarked on a PhD journey; I wish him the best as well.
  • The Occidental Oriental is another anonymous blog by [NAME REDACTED]. As an Afghan-Texan-Persian-American, he has some rare insights into the Middle East and the rest of the world. Definitely check out his current series of posts from Syria.

And to all the others without blogs – Ross, Jasmine, Mark, Erica, Peter, Michael, Amy, Rebecca, Kita, Jimmy (and yes, even Wen) – you are just as dear. Thanks for brightening my year when the clouds invariably set in.

One more special thanks is also due to those luminaries who have helped and guided me in the wide world of milblogging. Starbuck from Wings Over Iraq, Shlok Vaidya, Mike Slagh at Secure Nation, and Japan Security Watch’s Kyle Mizokami have all been as friendly and welcoming as can be. I owe them too a debt of gratitude.

This year has been eye-opening and a learning experience, one way or another. Thank you all so much for everything. And see you soon, I hope.

Back in Various Colors

Sorry for that longer-than-a-week delay. I’ve been back in London since last Thursday, and I anticipate resuming a fairly normal – though somewhat abbreviated – posting schedule as soon as I can. My first exam is in less than two weeks, so as I approach that date expect things to slow to a trickle.

New York is still fantastic, in case anyone was wondering. It’s impossible to find a bad meal there (a welcome change from the blandness that is English “cuisine”). Highlights include sliders and Guinness shakes at Mark, a Mexican feast at La Taqueria, and a ridiculously amazing pan-Asian experience at Momofuku.

Don’t worry, this won’t be turning into a travel/foodie blog anytime soon. But those three meals alone are better than anything I’ve eaten in London since October, and I’m always game for oneupmanship.

Things do appear to have happened while I was away; I’m still working through a backlog of Google Reader material and other highlights (I’m up to May 20 now)! Expect material on futurism and technology, the British coalition, and much more in the days ahead. And thanks for sticking with this.

Goliath Online

After a nearly two-year hiatus, I’m pleased to announce that GOLIATH will return for an exclusive upcoming DJ gig at Sarah Lawrence College’s end-of-year Bacchanalia bash (for those of you who don’t know, I did a little DJing back in the day and even tried to keep up a middling electronic music blog).

But that’s right, I’m now officially an international DJ. Which is pretty awesome, but also means I won’t be around for the next week or so (only a few hours til takeoff). As usual, busy yourself with some interesting websites, and don’t forget the new additions.

I imagine I’ll be back early if something really ridiculous happens.

Notes from the Archive I

From “The Military Problems of Counterinsurgency” under the heading MILITARY A PART OF WHOLE:

Military operations can only contribute when they are part of the broad plan for the re-establishment of Good Government right across the field of administration. And because the services are as a rule only brought in as a last resort and late, they are so often the only framework on which to re-establish Good Government.

– Brigadier General Charles Dunbar

As true as it ever was.

Dissert’ Menu

The British begin their withdrawal from Aden, 1967.

So in case anyone wasn’t aware, I’ve been working on my master’s dissertation – for which I finally have a pretty solid topic. The work right now is all archival research, which I have no problem with, but finding sources specific to my area is proving a little bit of a challenge.

That area is the Aden Emergency of 1963-67, in which the British fought a counterinsurgency in the Aden colony and the East and West Protectorate ‘up country’. Specifically, though, I want to focus on the RAF and the use of airpower in COIN strategy.

Starbuck at Wings Over Iraq has been doing some great work on counterinsurgency airpower, and I definitely recommend checking that out and contributing if you can. Many thanks to Shlok Vaidya for pointing me in that direction. In the meantime, my research is mostly being conducted in Liddell Hart Library at King’s College London, but I’ll also be dropping by the RAF archives and others. Any help would be appreciated.

I’ll also from time to time be posting little gems I manage to unearth, so stay tuned for those.

“The Dropout Economy”

Great article in TIME by Reihan Salam. It’s short, but provides a pretty good indicator of the future to come, particularly for my generation:

But what if the millions of so-called dropouts are onto something? As conventional high schools and colleges prepare the next generation for jobs that won’t exist, we’re on the cusp of a dropout revolution, one that will spark an era of experimentation in new ways to learn and new ways to live.

It’s important to keep in mind that behavior that seems irrational from a middle-class perspective is perfectly rational in the face of straitened circumstances. People who feel obsolete in today’s information economy will be joined by millions more in the emerging post-information economy, in which routine professional work and even some high-end services will be more cheaply performed overseas or by machines. This doesn’t mean that work will vanish. It does mean, however, that it will take a new and unfamiliar form.

Look at the projections of fiscal doom emanating from the federal government, and consider the possibility that things could prove both worse and better. Worse because the jobless recovery we all expect could be severe enough to starve the New Deal social programs on which we base our life plans. Better because the millennial generation could prove to be more resilient and creative than its predecessors, abandoning old, familiar and broken institutions in favor of new, strange and flourishing ones.

Only thing missing is the increasing incidence of a five-year plan (or even more) to graduate. Spreading out the experience isn’t necessarily a bad idea.

And at least this means we’ll be good at something. The alternative, of course, being to cryogenically freeze ourselves until the economy improves.

More analysis from Shlok Vaidya here and John Robb here.

A Brief Study in Hyperbole

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan at Camp David, 1984.

Yesterday I took part in an in-class debate on which was the more ‘special’ relationship: Churchill and Roosevelt, Macmillan and Kennedy, or Thatcher and Reagan? I was assigned to the Thatcher-Reagan team.

I took it upon myself to write an opening statement, and it follows. Bear in mind I wrote this in approximately 30 minutes (including edits and rewrites). Then you can decide: did I actually say anything at all? Or did I just make it sound like I did? In other words, where’s the beef?

Since revolution tore the two asunder, and the White House burned in 1812, the United States and United Kingdom have enjoyed an extraordinary partnership unrivaled by anyone in the world – a “special” relationship.

The relationship has waxed and waned over the years, but never was it stronger or more dynamic than the Thatcher-Reagan era of the 1980s. Bound together by mutual respect and admiration, cultural affinity, and a shared commitment to western values, the special relationship between the Gipper and the Iron Lady was forged in history and sealed with blood. Through war and in peace, America and Britain held fast at home and abroad with Reagan and Thatcher at the helm.

From the windswept south Atlantic to the skies above Libya, Reagan and Thatcher were partners amidst a sea of troubles. Politically like-minded like to pair before them, they successfully navigated the shoals of the Cold War and brought the Soviet Union to its knees. Together they restored a sense of national pride to their respective countries and returned the special relationship to its lofty pedestal.

Personally, politically, diplomatically, and militarily, Reagan and Thatcher were exceptionally close. Maintaining a solid front publicly, they never hesitated to disagree in private, always constructively and without hint of animosity. Anglo-American relations, NATO, and indeed the west itself were and continue to be rejuvenated by their remarkable friendship; and nothing less than the whole of humanity has been the beneficiary of Thatcher and Reagan’s truly special relationship.

I like the lofty rhetoric I came up with, but methinks the substantive portion leaves something to be desired. And that’s ignoring what I actually think about the merits of the argument.

Down That Road Again

If you thought the LSE (and Britain in general) was bad at curbing extremism and hatred (and I do, see here, here, and here), then Oxford University will knock your socks off. From The JC:

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister was met by a protester screaming “slaughter the Jews” as he spoke at the Oxford Union.

Antisemitic and anti-Israel abuse was shouted throughout Danny Ayalon’s speech on Monday evening, with students causing numerous disruptions to the event.

During the hour-long session one student ran towards Mr Ayalon shouting the Arabic phrase “Itbah Al-Yahud” [Slaughter the Jews].

As many as 10 others, carrying Palestinian flags, made attempts to attack Mr Ayalon but were intercepted and removed by security.

Unlike when Ayalon spoke at LSE, the administration in this situation sprang to his defense as a speaker and contributor of ideas. No faculty petitions up north (to my knowledge). In their statement (PDF), the Oxford Union said:

Whilst the vast majority of the audience behaved in an orderly and responsible fashion, some members continually interrupted the speech, and one individual in particular appears to have made a directly anti-Semitic remark. These individuals exceeded the principles of free speech that the Society upholds…

…This morning, the Union’s President launched an investigation aimed at identifying the
Members who disrupted the event. The Union will be taking disciplinary action against these
Members, in accordance with the Society’s rules…

…The Oxford Union believes in the rights of free speech and protecting our invited speakers’ ability to express themselves in an orderly and disciplined environment…

…Last night was unprecedented. A disorderly minority disrupted and prevented the speaker from holding the floor where he had been invited to speak.

It’s nice to see an apology, or even an admission that something at the event had not gone as planned. Certainly no such statement was issued at LSE. Because what’s the point of debating when you can just wave your flags, shout some cheers, and win the argument? You don’t even need to make a point.

It’s a perfect storm of the western recoil, its love for countries-in-waiting (see: the Free Tibet movement), and willingness to attend a rally. I really do feel for Ayalon and any other Israeli officials who seek to engage in a back-and-forth with the community in Britain. It won’t do a thing: the minds of this country are made up.