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


The infestation spreads

I have long been interested in the more cultural explanation of networks and the spread of terrorism. Now David Axe reports from Somalia on the discovery of Quassam-style rockets in Mogadishu, a weapon deviced by Hezbollah and Hamas and hitherto not found in Somalia.

The open-source warfare spreads DIY lethal technology to hotspots all over the world.



Navies for all...activists

Navies have long been the very symbol of why it takes a nation-state to go to war. Traditionally, the logistics and manpower involved, as well as the more recent emphasis on ship-shore interface takes a heavy wallet. Furthermore, the strategy of sea-power is very much based on you protecting your sea lanes of communication or disrupting other states'. Clearly, any insurgency group or sub-state actor that wanted a punch for their pennies, would go for an army.

Or would they? Just as the Airforce's monopoly has been broken by fx LTTE's airforce and homemade UAV's, there are actually examples of sub-state groups that builds up a navy, when their objectives are at sea. LTTE is another good example, but this interesting article on Sea Shepherd from The New Yorker tells how activists were able to field a two-ship fleet with a helicopter to attack whalers in the Antarctic waters.

In the total opposite direction:

Sweden plans for a "old new" SIGINT ship - demonstrating classic nation-state capability, especially one of a neutral, self-dependent state that has to rely on its own intelligence in all aspects. Sweden has long been known for their strong SIGINT capabilities. As I came across once doing research, Denmark should actually also be able to send a SIGINT capable ship to sea (in the form of a STANDARD-FLEX type Flyvefisken class patrol-craft, equipped with the one available SIGINT/ELINT container), but I don't know if it ever happens.

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Bin Laden Speech Archive updated

A horrendous delay in putting up OBL's latest speeches is now corrected - and once again the archive will help you find the words and pictures of Osama Bin Laden:

The Bin Laden Speech Archive

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Don't shout if you can nag

You can use your voice for quite a number of things. A platoon of Danish soldiers used theirs for talking about how they shot up Taliban fighters and shouting Oh-Yeahs when an aircraft bombed the Taliban position.

The press officers immediately put their voice in unsecure, yet grave modes and assured the public that this was professional as well as human use of the vocal cords as venting off.

The cacophony of Danish free press (as in, you get a paper showed into your hand whereever you go, fuelled by advertising - Denmark has at least 4 of these daily news-for-nothing outlets) uses their voices to probe the Army officials unsecurity - and raise the voice like a tattle-tale kindergarden boy "Now, he just said that this might be offensive to some. DID YOU HEAR THAT?!"

The resulting chatter of various voices in the blogosphere and the news-cycle that feeds off this essential non-story does the job: illustrates how the Danish public (opinion) is basically unprepared for sending people in to combat. The Danish Strategic Culture is risk adverse (as it probably should be), the perception of this in the media is solely focusing on the possible sensation of the story and the rest of us are forced to discuss whether it is okay to shout of joy whenever you kill someone your government sent you to kill, or if we should put our faces in somber moods.

It just leaves me with a whispering, nagging thought: This idea, that it might be offensive that Danish soldiers shout when they win, is in reality a sign of how we underestimate the Taliban, see them as inferior. The "public opinion" seems to say: "Don't be happy when you off them, they can't help it and they're a backward, poor bunch that we should kill with dignity and compassion". And I'm pretty sure both the Taliban as well as their adversaries in Helmand Province would laugh at that interpretation.


Dengang da far var forsvarsteknologianalytiker...

Dagbladet Information ser ud til at være vendt tilbage til udgangspunktet i sin digitale strategi: At lade alle artikler være frit tilgængelige. Efter et par års flirt med betaling for digitalt indhold ser det ud til at arkiverne igen blevet sluppet ud på cyber-græs. Det betyder også at et par korte indlæg fra min tid som freelance forsvarsanalytiker på SU stikker hovedet frem igen.

Jeg er mest glad for min forudsigelse af at kortrækkende jord-til-jord krydsermissiler af Silkworm typen var den største missiltrussel ved USA's invasion af Irak. Selvom det godt nok kun blev til et smadret bolværk et sted i Kuwait og ikke så meget andet så holdt det stik. Den anden artikel om taktiske kernevåben var til gengæld illustreret af en fin tegning af Per Marquard Otzen.

Ak ja, det var tider...

Bare en lillebitte atombombe


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Free business idea for you: Eradicating poppy through urban hipness

So what about this idea I had this morning:

Poppy-growing in Afghanistan is a huge problem, on the rise after the ousting of the Taliban, who were quite effective at keeping it checked. Now, the Taliban capitalise on the poppy, just like a proud line of warlords before them, selling it off to drug-peddlers and buying weapons to fight NATO.

A lot of half-committed politicians have since then suggested that we buy the opium off the farmers instead of burning as we do now and alienating the Afghans further. But of course that won't work, because no western government so far has been willing to use millions and millions to buy poppies and burning them.

The solution could be the good old market. Why not stimulate the Afghan farmer to grow sorghum, wheat, corn, whatever, paying huge overprice, matching and even exceeding the poppy price pound by pound (which isn't really that much in the first stage of heroin production, one could add). Now, the neat trick here would be selling these crops (in the form of flour, half-and-whole processed products) to the politically and socially conscious western middle-class as "Afghan anti-drug goods", like you are able to further ecological and social welfare by buying Max Havelaar products and such.

This would take a hefty first investment and protection of the farmers for a while. Furthermore the customer demographic might not be that large to buy off all the products, but it would at least be a more productive way of countering the drug problem in Afghanistan.

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Fly-by to fame

Recently it was publicised that Denmark had had a brush in with the new aggressive Russian strategic bomber circus, touring the world at the time (See: "The Good Ol' War and the Bad New One").

But nobody picked up on the implications for Danish intelligence. If Russia resurges as a powerful player on the world-stage, our geographic location will once again provide us with an advantage. In the Cold War our bargaining chip was SIGINT and shipsightings and such. If we're lucky, Putin will play that back in our hands....

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Don't mention the war

The election is on in Denmark once again. Last time it happened was in 2005 and I was blogging a bit back then as well. Makes you feel experienced and a bit old to have been in the "blogosphere" that long.

Now, all signs point to this election also being almost void of serious discussions or real interest in the utility of force from a Danish perspective. Since then the Danes have withdrawn from Iraq (save for a helicopter detachment) and are manning up in Afghanistan, casualties have risen and more and more people know young men who have been off for 6 months. It will change Danish strategic culture, no doubt, but as with all changes of culture it will be silent and we won't know until we have moved into yet another phase. However, I think it would suit politicians of all colours and creeds to engage with the question (as always it is only veteran, old male politicians that take on or are assigned positions as defence spokespersons).

A good quote that came tome me just as I had finished writing this above. Robert Kagan on EU's use of military power:
"The incapacity to respond to threats leads not only to tolerance. It can also lead to denial".

That was the old culture, let's see if politicians can forge the new one actively.

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