Categories
International Relations Security

South America: Opposing Signals

F-16 jet, courtesy of Jeffk42/flickr
F-16 Jet, courtesy of Jeffk42/flickr

In his article for the ISN weekly theme, Dr Markus Schultze-Kraft explains that the “political-ideological rift that divides the region, deep mutual distrust, opposed geopolitical projects and international alliances, and not least the enormously challenging nature of the transnational security threats, such as Colombia’s armed conflict and drug-trafficking, all conspire against regional security improvements.”

I will not argue against this statement that summarizes perfectly the issues that South America is facing today. I will elaborate on something that has not been mentioned and that is, to me, crucial to the (non-)establishment of confidence and regional security in the continent: the militarization of South American countries.

Categories
Health

A Kinder, Gentler Army?

Sigmund Freud's sofa / Photo: Konstantin Binder, Wikipedia
Sigmund Freud's sofa / Photo: Konstantin Binder, Wikipedia

For some reason I thought this practice was already in place, but the US Army has announced that it is starting an obligatory “emotional resiliency” program for its troops.

According to the NY Times the program is meant to head off the plethora of mental health issues soldiers bring back with them from their tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The move comes after the military has faced criticism for failing to provide proper care for its troops, which some say has led to an “epidemic of suicides” due to post-traumatic stress disorder and what’s termed ‘Gulf War syndrome.’

The weekly, 90-minute sessions will involve exercises in which participants will examine methods “to defuse or expose common habits of thinking and flawed beliefs that can lead to anger and frustration — for example, the tendency to assume the worst.”

Off topic comment: That’s not just needed for the military.

In an atmosphere in which a person is formed into, for all intents and purposes, a killing machine, this type of program is/was sorely needed. But it does go against the normal military culture; one of bravery, manliness and keeping a stiff upper lip in the face of danger, or worse.

“Psychology has given us this whole language of pathology, so that a soldier in tears after seeing someone killed thinks, ‘Something’s wrong with me; I have post-traumatic stress,’ ” or P.T.S.D., Dr. Seligman said. “The idea here is to give people a new vocabulary, to speak in terms of resilience. Most people who experience trauma don’t end up with P.T.S.D.; many experience post-traumatic growth.”

And perhaps give a new definition to “bravery.”

Categories
Government Security

Strange Things in the Sky

Arnold_crescent_1947
American businessman Kenneth Arnold pointing out a drawing of an UFO he saw on June 24, 1947 while flying his private plane near Mount Rainier, Washington.

The UK Ministry of Defence has released some 4000 pages of previously classified files on UFOs. The sightings documented were between 1981 and 1996 and include observations by private citizens and members of the military such as fighter pilots and other personnel.

Interestingly enough, according to the Times, the yearly sightings of UFOs in the UK increased after the first screening of the X-Files. However you want to interpret this, some disturbing facts remain:

As Nick Pope, a former head of the MoD’s UFO desk is quoted by the Times:

“There are some fascinating cases here [in the released files] and while we could explain 95 per cent of the sightings, the rest were a genuine mystery. We were particularly concerned by near misses with aircraft and cases where UFOs were seen close to military bases.”

So the MoD admits that there are unknown flying objects that can’t be explained and that show up around military bases. Yet people doing research on UFOs are frequently ridiculed and named lunatics by the media and academia.

Can anyone who takes his job in security policy seriously disregard the fact that something is flying around over our heads and we have no idea what it is?

Categories
Government Security

Turkey’s Deep State Re-Visited: “The Case of the Century”

This January, Gareth Jenkins shared his observations on the Turkish “Deep State” in a prolific ISN Security Watch article. Not only did he shed light on the history of “Ergenokon,” a clandestine ultra-Kemalist guerilla organization with obscure links to NATO’s covert stay-behind network “Gladio,” but also raised a momentous question: Is the Turkish military, hitherto the staunch and “ultimate guardian of the traditional interpretation of secularism in Turkey,” discrediting itself with its more than likely involvement in planning a coup d’état, thus losing ground to Erdoğan’s Islamist AKP in the struggle over the future of Turkish secularism?

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's mausoleum / Photo: carolinebeatriz/flickr
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s mausoleum / Photo: carolinebeatriz/flickr
Categories
History

I Am Committing High Treason with All My Might and Means

Sixty-five years ago, on 20 July 1944, during the darkest days of German history, a few good men brought back a small spark of light to the conscience of a nation torn by war and involved in history’s most unprecedented mass murder. The story is well-known. So is the result: the attempt to remove Hitler from power with the help of his own contingency plan “Valkyrie” tragically failed.

What might not be so well-known is that Count Claus von Stauffenberg, according to Cambridge historian Richard J Evans, “found moral guidance in a complex mixture of Catholic religious precepts, an aristocratic sense of honour, Ancient Greek ethics, and German Romantic poetry. Above all, perhaps, his sense of morality was formed under the influence of the poet Stefan George, whose ambition it was to revive a ‘Secret Germany’ that would sweep away the materialism of the Weimar Republic and restore German life to its true spirituality.”

The key to understanding that “Secret Germany” (as cryptically elaborated in a poem by the same title, which was written around 1910, but hermetically kept from the public until 1928) is the idea that only the poet with his charismatic authority can voice the arcane without revealing it. It is him being the “spiritus rector” who deepens the inner reflections of his disciples, who awakens their intellectual and spiritual sensitivity, so his word is followed by their action.

Stefan George, Claus and Berthold von Stauffenberg in 1924, one year after having first met in Heidelberg./ Public domain
Stefan George, Claus and Berthold von Stauffenberg in 1924, one year after having first met in Heidelberg. / Public domain