Intelligence / Military / Politics

Looking Back: 8 Years of an Obama Administration

I have been recently reflecting on what these last eight years have meant, and in part on how I think they will written in the history books. Reflection is, after all, an important tool for me – I’ve written about that before. But with my 25 years in the intelligence field, and my current work teaching intelligence, security studies, and a lot of topics related to policy to undergraduate and graduate students, I have and continue to spend time thinking about decision and policy makers. History is going to judge them. History is going to make judgement about these

Iran / Iraq / Syria / etc.

Frontline: The Secret History of ISIS

It is good to see organizations like PBS take on the history of ISIS, with their piece this week, The Secret History of ISIS. It’s not horrible, and it’s good to see that they were able to interview some of the key players – original sources matter. You should make time to watch it; it’s about 45 minutes in length, and it will stream on just about any device. Three things, though, after you watch it. 1) Frontline does a good job of pointing out that Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) / Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) had been

Intelligence / Iraq / Syria

American strategy and politicization

Geoff Arnold pointed me towards a great article in The American Conservative, The Pentagon Fights Back. I’m going to plan to use it in future iterations of one of the classes I teach, ISSA 3302, Fundamentals of Intelligence Analysis, specifically during the section about the perils of politicization. Giraldi makes a good point, comparing current American actions and apparent strategy to a thinking of that of 1938 in Munich. I don’t think it’s just Rwanda that hangs over the head of this Democratic administration (Bill Clinton regrets how he handled it), but other atrocities and acts of genocide, to

Army / Iraq / Syria

America on being, or not being, in Syria today

The White House announced Friday that the US is going to deploy Special Forces personnel to Syria. The announcement specified that these SF personnel, described as intending to number less than 50, are going there as advisers to moderate rebel groups fighting against ISIS/ISIL. Today, President Obama faced questions from NBC Nightly News about his September 2013 pledge to not put troops on the ground in Syria. Back then, President Obama had stated, “My answer is simple. I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will

Blogging / Military

Syria, Iran, and low hanging fruit

So, there’s a new President-elect. The easy thing would be say, “Watch how he engages Iran (or North Korea)” as the indicator of where we are going as a nation. Nah. That’s too easy. Watch how he handles Syria. Iran and North Korea — those are both already boiling. Those are the obvious and easy ones to deal with. Those are, as we say, 5 meter targets. Greatness will be found in building a solid relationship with Syria, as Syria has a finger in both Lebanon and Iraq. If he gets picked up for a second term, watch for