Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Open IMINT uncovers Chinese miniature landscape

Google Maps is quite a revolution in Open Source Intelligence, as it provides access for ordinary people to rather good satelite imagery.

A good example is a Google Earth community that has uncovered a strange sight in China. The Chinese have created a miniature landscape, including mountains, rivers and roads. Alledgedly it is modelled over a piece of disputed territory between India and China.

It is a known fact that the (US) military can make Google cover sensitive areas with wood or otherwise on the pictures. Never the less you can still find a lot of military and corporate sites using the service.


Selling weapons to the enemy

The Canadian army is ready to buy the Danish UAVs - remember, the huge investment that had to be scrapped because they never really got to work, that I wrote on here.

But haven't the Danish General Staff forgotten something? We are presently embroiled in territorial disputes with the Canadians over Hans Ø - a dispute that has had elements of military posture to it? I foresee a future where the Canadians get the former UAVs flying (which they know how to do) and station them on Hans Ø to claim rights to the land.


Weak states and strong states: Effects based operations

John Robb at the Global Guerillas put it much clearer than I could do on the subject of why strong states can be powerless in all their power over weak states. He pinpoints it in the concept of Effects Based Operations.

By using Effects Based Operations (EBO) like bombing power-stations and roads they use a strategy that is developed to target a state and its workings, and Israel inadvertedly helps non-state groups: "the effects generated in this situation are likely only to strengthen Israel's non-state enemies".

This only underscores how the World's militaries haven't grasped the reality of the new kind of warfare. How do you do Effects Based Operations against non-state groups? Well, my guess is that it isn't from the air and it isn't by destroying the frail trappings of a helpless state, which will only plant the seeds for more long-term despair, criminality and insurgency.

Weak states and strong states and the affairs they have

The brewing war between Israel and Hizbollah/Hamas strikes me as one with an overly "dialogical" strategy on behalf of both parts.

When a Danish news reporter (sitting in Cairo of course) foresaw that Israel would bomb infrastructure in Lebanon to punish the government for not taking care of Hizbollah, I scowled and thought "stupid you, what would they gain from smashing at the frail democratic and recently Syrian-free government in Lebanon? They'll rather go more surgically after Hizbollah". But alas, he was right and I was naïve on Israeli strategic dynamics.

Lebanon is a weak state, and to date "The Lebanese security forces remained unable or unwilling to enter Palestinian refugee camps [...] and to deploy forces to much of the Beka?a Valley, southern Beirut, and the south of the country bordering Israel."

This of course means that Israel can have its way with Lebanon, in two general directions:

1) First option is that they bomb them to signal strength and resolve to the onlookers. The gains from this show of force is rather limited - at least concerning the safe return of the soldiers kidnapped. A follow-on on this scenario is an actual invasion of the south of Lebanon to hit Hizbollah camps. This has been tried in 1978 and 1982 - none really succesful.

2) Second option is support for pro-israeli (Christian) elements of Lebanese government. This is a difficult option, as no-one would like to be "tainted" by connections to the Israelis. However, this is the only real option to nurture a strong and dependable Lebanese security-strategy and a strengthening of the state. This was tried partly in Israels collaboration with Lebanese president-to-be Bachir Gemayel who was assasinated in 1982.

You don't have to speculate a lot to think that option one was chosen as Israel have a new government (without old generals as far as I know) that needs to reassert that Israel is the strongest power in the Middle East. Furthermore it is also a way of cracking down on Hamas and their new government.

Both of the options are a strong states domination over a weak one and in the first case an illustration that the only real way security is created is by building a strong and reliable state. Somalia is the best contemporary example of the kind of black criminality that can fester in the intestines of a country without a working state. Israel doesn't do itself any good with the excessive bombings, but due to its taboo-status in Middle Eastern countries, other options are in reality closed for them. This is where the NGOs have their place in the world, and I bet there is a flurry of activity, doing second track diplomacy at the moment.


American public diplomacy ... in Denmark

The American ambassador to Denmark Cain joined integration minister Rikke Hvilshøj and a NGO using NBA stars to create street-level integration. This is an interesting example of public diplomacy, directed at young Danes with another ethnical background than Danish. It is a group that is much discussed in the Danish public debate and the fear of radicalisation is always between the lines. There is no doubt that the ambassador hits on a very relevant target here, seen from an American policy-level. However it is a question if Rikke Hvilshøj and her ministry will get as much from the stunt - or just be seen as an auxillary to ambassador Cain. Ambassador Cain and Integration Minister Rikke Hvilshøj

Team B Intelligence Coups and Rhetoric

Just released. The field that I am interested at the intersection of rhetoric and intelligence has been very narrow so far, with only a few articles published. But now a new and interesting contribution has been made. In the leading rhetorical journal The Quarterly Journal of Speech Gordon R. Mitchell has written on Team B Intelligence Coups utilising argumentation theory:

The 2003 Iraq prewar intelligence failure was not simply a case of the U.S. intelligence community providing flawed data to policy-makers. It also involved subversion of the competitive intelligence analysis process, where unofficial intelligence boutiques ?stovepiped? misleading intelligence assessments directly to policy-makers and undercut intelligence community input that ran counter to the White House's preconceived preventive war of choice against Iraq. This essay locates historical precursors to such ?Team B intelligence coups? in the original 1976 Team B exercise and the 1998 Rumsfeld Commission report on ballistic missile threats. Since competitive intelligence analysis exercises are designed to improve decision-making by institutionalizing the learning function of debate, their dynamics stand to be elucidated through critique informed by argumentation theory. Such inquiry has salience in the current political milieu, where intelligence reform efforts and the investigations that drive them tend to sidestep the Team B intelligence coup phenomenon.


Missile diplomacy

The test-firing of a North Korean ICBM is an interesting (albeit trivial when concerning Kim Jong-il), example of coercive diplomacy.

A show of force can very well be used by the underdog, as N. Korea has apparently made it its mission to prove. And, just as in the case of the 2003 launching of a anti-ship cruise missile shows, it is not the size or the range that matters, merely that a missile is fueled and fired.

This is a reminder at a time where Washington has more than enough on its mind in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran, a reminder that the North Korean problem can't be starved away. I predict that some kind of indirect diplomatic appeasement will be the solution.