The ISN is taking is taking a partial holiday break – i.e., we will continue to publish new materials except on 25-26 December and 1-2 January. We will then return to our normal schedule on 6 January. In the interim, we wish you all a happy holiday season and thank you for your strong support in 2013.
On October 24, the ISN co-hosted a roundtable discussion with the Cordoba Foundation on the recent political turmoil in Egypt and on the possible ways to resolve it. Today, we present some of the discussion’s highlights, with a particular emphasis on the observations made by Dr Maha Azzam.
The discussion started off by focusing on the ‘narratives’ that the Western media has used to both bound and characterize the Arab Spring. In the following response, Dr Azzam focuses on the term ‘Islamism’ and how it has been misused, often with negative consequences, by media outlets, politicians and others.
What future scenarios should NATO be prepared once the final US-led troops have withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014? Will a new array of threats reinforce the importance of ‘conventional’ military thinking and planning in the United States and Europe? These were among the questions raised at The Return of Conventional War?, a panel discussion hosted on 11 September by our parent organization, the Center for Security Studies (CSS).
In the following podcast, the guest panelists outline their respective positions on prospects for the return of conventional war and strategic planning. The CSS’ Martin Zapfe is convinced that after 13 years in Afghanistan and Iraq, Western militaries will increasingly turn to the more ‘conventional’ challenges posed by the likes of China and Russia. The Institute for Security Policy Kiel’s Joachim Krause sees no point, however, in thinking about conventional threats to security. Instead, the West should continue to focus upon the myriad threats and security challenges that actually exist today.
Venting is part of being human. And even though members of the military are held to a higher behavioral standard than a common employee, is it really that extraordinary that McChrystal and his aides had some not-too-flattering words for the US president and his administration?
From Brooks’ article:
“Military people are especially prone to these sorts of outbursts. In public, they pay lavish deference to civilian masters who issue orders from the comfort of home. Among themselves, they blow off steam, sometimes in the crudest possible terms.”
Now, as to the intelligence of the military folks who decided to blow off steam in front of a reporter (it seems that McChrystal was done in more by hearsay than anything else), that’s a whole other post.
But, do we hold members of the military up to too high a standard by expecting them to remain ‘strong and silent’? Shouldn’t they be allowed to kvetch, vent, gripe and do whatever they need to do (within reason) to let off steam?
Since, at least in the US, they volunteered to put their lives on the line for their country, shouldn’t they have the right to complain…even if it is about the commander-in-chief and his administration?
Another question: Does complaining about someone or something automatically equal a lack of respect for that someone or something?
Again, I think it was absolutely asinine, especially in the day-and-age of gotcha journalism for McChystal’s aides to repeat his words in front of a reporter, but if you’re in the type of high-pressure situations that military members find themselves in, perhaps kvetching is understandable.
Because even though they’re in the armed forces, they’re humans too.