Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Some Links: Death of the State, IED Stats and the Reality of Afghanistan

Logo used by WikileaksImage via Wikipedia
  • Dinosaurs Can't Dance: The Impending Extinction of the Nation-State (by John Goekler): Here we have another look at the future of the nation-state, or in this case, that it has no future and "will go extinct over the next few decades". He goes on to list several reasons as why he reaches this conclusion, but overall in such an interconnected and dynamic world the nation-state just can not keep up. He always points out how the monopoly of violence no longer rests with the nation-state, he uses the term OG's (Other Guys) to best describe these new actors, though I prefer John Robb's term of VNSA (Violent Non State Actors). But the term OG seems to fit the emerging resilient communities that may be able to provide the security that people desire.

  • Wikileaks Afghanistan files: every IED attack, with co-ordinates: While the recent WikiLeaks release of documents regarding the war in Afghanistan continues to be debated, much useful information can be derived from the documentation. In this case a complete set of stats regarding every IED attack from 2004-2009, from an anylysts point of view, be they political science/security/counterinsurgency, such datasets can only better inform and make for better assessments and predictions. Though over at the Monkey Cage they add a little bit of realism by asking if by using leaked data would one risk gaining, or losing, their security clearance?

  • WikiLeaks and the Afghan War (by George Friedman): Continuing on from the revelations by WikiLeaks there is another revelation...so what? The documents released so far just tell us much of what was originally known about the war, just in much greater detail. Some of the more interesting parts of the details have been noted above regarding the IEDs, but we also have the reports regarding the Taliban's use of MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems). Since we know that the Taliban can not manufacture this technology we must question where these are coming from? Pakistan is working with the Taliban, covertly, and working with the USA, overtly, but this is a reality of the position they find themselves in. While the USA can not hold too much of a grudge as they do not want China slipping into the role of patron. Meanwhile another interesting question regarding these WikiLeaks documents is just how this information was gained and how flawed are the security protocols in place? Friedman ends with "Whoever it proves to have been has just made the most powerful case yet for withdrawal from Afghanistan sooner rather than later", I could not agree more.

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Monday, 26 July 2010

The Great COIN Toss

Counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan are not working, in fact, very little is and the country continues its record of being the 'graveyard of empires'. Drones firing at will into Pakistan are further fanning the flames, for the 150 'leaders' that have been killed (some only to return...) there have been over a 1,000 causalities, this in a country that is an ally of the USA. Such a doctrine is flawed and requires immediate change or stopping altogether, as this article points out the men who flew the planes on 9/11 received their training in the USA and Europe. Not in the mountains of Afghanistan and that we are only letting ourselves be fooled by thinking that victory there will mean safety anywhere else. It is time to either redefine the reasons for being there and/or begin to change the mission, hopefully some sense will prevail in the process.


Amplify’d from www.fpif.org
The latest United States assessment found only five out of 116 areas “secure,” and in 89 areas the government was “non-existent, dysfunctional or unproductive.”

In theory, COIN sounds reasonable; in practice, it almost always fails. Where it has succeeded — the Philippines, Malaya, Bolivia, Sri Lanka, and the Boer War — the conditions were very special: island nations cut off from outside support (the Philippines and Sri Lanka), insurgencies that failed to develop a following (Bolivia) or were based in a minority ethnic community (Malaya, the Boer War).

COIN is always presented as politically neutral, a series of tactics aimed at winning hearts and minds. But in fact, COIN has always been part of a strategy of domination by a nation(s) and/or socioeconomic class.

No, it is not all about oil and gas, but a lot of it is.

In many ways, COIN is the most destructive and self-defeating strategy a country can employ, and its toxicity is long-term.
Once the United States endorsed Karzai’s fraudulent election late last year, the Afghans knew it wasn’t about democracy.

There was a time when the old imperial powers and the United States could wage war without having to bank their home-fires. No longer. The United States has spent over $300 billion on the Afghan War, and is currently shelling out about $7 billion a month. In the meantime, 31 states are sliding toward insolvency, and 15 million people have lost their jobs. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Huffington Post, “It just can’t be that we have a domestic agenda that is half the size of the defense budget.”

Empires can choose to step back with a certain grace, as the Dutch did in Southeast Asia. Or they can stubbornly hang on, casting about for the right military formula that will keep them on top. That fall is considerably harder.

The choice is ours.

Read more at www.fpif.org

Monday, 19 July 2010

Comparison of the Costs of Major U.S. Wars

FAS brings our attention to a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service that makes a comparison of spending on major U.S. wars from the American Revolution onwards, of course it is not perfect but the report does note this through various caveats. Considering the dept the U.S. has incurred since 2001 and the current recession these figures make for interesting reading. Some may dispute the estimates used for the second Iraq war and Afghanistan, and they should, but for comparing the expenditure by the U.S. on its major wars this does offer an enlightening view.


Amplify’d from www.fas.org

More than a trillion dollars has been appropriated since September 11, 2001 for U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.  This makes the “war on terrorism” the most costly of any military engagement in U.S. history in absolute terms or, if correcting for inflation, the second most expensive U.S. military action after World War II.

A newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service estimated the financial costs of major U.S. wars from the American Revolution ($2.4 billion in FY 2011 dollars) to World War I ($334 billion) to World War II ($4.1 trillion) to the second Iraq war ($784 billion) and the war in Afghanistan ($321 billion).  CRS provided its estimates in current year dollars (i.e. the year they were spent) and in constant year dollars (adjusted for inflation), and as a percentage of gross domestic product.  Many caveats apply to these figures, which are spelled out in the CRS report.

In constant dollars, World War II is still the most expensive of all U.S. wars, having consumed a massive 35.8% of GDP at its height and having cost $4.1 trillion in FY2011 dollars.  See “Costs of Major U.S. Wars,” June 29, 2010.

Read more at www.fas.org

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Brammo Empulse: 100miles@100mph on Electric Motorcycle

Brammo has been impressing with their electric motorcycle range and since they first released the Enertia and then decided to ride two of these electric motorcycles along the route of the automotive CEOs who went to Washington DC asking for government loans. Now they have raised the bar for all the other electric motorcycle manufactures, which have just tweaked their new releases from previous models, and the only big name in the field is Yamaha who have promised an electric motorcycle for next year. Brammo has left them all wanting with the announcement of a new range of 3 motorcycles which look set to put electric motorcycle on the map.

The new Empulse range will come in 3 models, the 6.0 with be capable of approx 60 miles, the 8.0 approx 80 miles and the 10.0 some 100 miles, all at speeds of approx 100mph! Not bad at all, especially since the average motorcyclist covers 30 miles a ride so these bikes will be more then capable of hauling commuters home and back again. The prices are expected to be $9,995 (6.0), $11,995 (8.0) and $13,995 (10.0) and if those prices are not reasonable enough, if you include the Federal incentives in some states you can get a 10.0 for as little as $7,000. Not bad, plus the savings from running costs over the life of the bike, for the average commuter you just can not get much better.

I love that this is just their second generation of electric motorcycle, what they have in the plan to shock us with next over the years I am really looking forward to, for the time being I can not wait to see one of these in the flesh when they go on sale next summer. Below is the official press release from Brammo.



Brammo announces the Empulse - a trio of electric motorcycles capable of 100mph+, 100 miles on a single charge, with prices starting at $9995

Ashland, Oregon – July 7th, 2010. Brammo, Inc. announced today it will begin production of an electric sportbike, calling it the "Empulse." It demonstrated a pre-production prototype today and all three production models of the Empulse will be capable of sustaining 100 mph. The three models will have different battery capacities, all utilizing an innovative proprietary array, the Brammo Power™ battery and vehicle management system. The Empulse is available for immediate order and deliveries will commence in 2011.

Craig Bramscher, Founder and CEO of Brammo said "motorcycle riders have been requesting increased speed and range and I am proud and delighted to reveal these game changing Brammo electric motorcycles. Our customers expect Brammo to design and produce the world's most exciting (and affordable) electric motorcycles and that's exactly what we have done." Bramscher continued, "today's announcement promises no more range anxiety for Brammo customers."

The Empulse Trio
All three models of the Empulse will be freeway capable and will enjoy a top speed in excess of 100mph. Each of the three models will offer customers a different average range from a single charge. The Empulse 6.0 is capable of 60 miles average range , the Empulse 8.0 is capable of 80 miles average range and the top of the line Empulse 10.0 is capable of a travelling 100 miles on a single charge. Range of all three models can be extended by travelling at lower speeds.

Estimated MSRP for the Empulse trio when deliveries start next year are; Empulse 6.0 $9,995, Empulse 8.0 $11,995 and Empluse One Hundred $13995. All three models will be eligible for Federal and State tax incentives. For example, the Empulse 10.0 may cost as little as $7000 in certain states after Federal and State incentives.

Empulse Technology
Todays announcement sees the first application of Brammo's innovative electric powertrain system including the Brammo Power™ battery pack and Brammo Power™ vehicle management system. Brammo's breakthrough in price/energy density is at the heart of today's announcement and is unequalled in the electric vehicle industry. The Empulse is also the world's first production electric motorcycle to have a water cooled motor.

Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development at Brammo and designer of the Empulse said,

"The Empulse reveals the significant price performance that we can deliver using Brammo Power™ technology. Just like it did with the Enertia Powercycle, Brammo has again raised the bar in terms of electrical drivetrain innovation and time to market."

Empulse Availability
Customers can place their order for an Empulse by visiting the Brammo website www.brammo.com . Deliveries are expected to commence in mid-2011 and orders will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Customers placing an order will receive a production number and will be expected to pay a fully refundable $99 deposit once their motorcycle is within 90 days of delivery. The Brammo range of motorcycles will be available globally through select motorcycle dealerships and participating Best Buy stores.

Brammo Distribution

Brammo is expanding its dealership network both within the USA and in Europe and Asia. Organizations interested in selling and servicing the Brammo range of motorcycles, which includes the award winning Enertia, can register their interest by visiting www.brammo.com/dealerapplication

Adrian Stewart, director of Sales and Marketing at Brammo said "We are always looking for individuals and organizations that want to enter into a long term business partnership with Brammo to sell and service our range of electric vehicles. JCAM ,our distributor/dealer in Hong Kong and Singapore is an excellent example of such an organization. "

Forged in the Heat of Competition

Brammo Power™ technology employed in the Empulse is race proven in the Brammo Empulse RR race bike. You can see the Empulse RR in action at the 2010 Red Bull Grand Prix Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca. Brammo will race the Empulse RR in the FIM e-Power series which will see 15 electric motorcycle teams from around the world compete on this demanding circuit.

Meet the Empulse

Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher will be unveiling the Empulse at the 2010 Red Bull Grand Prix at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, on Saturday July 24th 2010.

Later this year the Empulse will be on display at EICMA in Milan, Italy and at the Macau Grand Prix in China.

About Brammo

Brammo Inc is a leading electric vehicle technology company headquartered in North America. Brammo designs and develops electric vehicles including the award winning Brammo Enertia motorcycle. Brammo is also an OEM supplier of innovative electric drivetrain systems including the Brammo Power™ battery pack and Brammo Power™ vehicle management system. Brammo has vehicle distribution and marketing operations in North America, Europe and Asia.

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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Some Links: Killer Monkeys, Norway and Pundits

North (purple) and South (blue) Waziristan and...
  • The Taliban and Killer Monkeys: It would seem that "monkey terrorists" are being trained by the Taliban in the Waziristan tribal region. They are being shown how to use AK-47s and Bren machine-guns. Though many armed forces utilize animals in various roles, it was the USA in Vietnam who first used trained monkeys to attack enemy troops, though how successfully is another matter. Though for the Taliban this seems to be more of a propaganda campaign aimed at tugging on the heart-strings of animal lovers in the West who, in theory, would apply pressure on their government. I would not hold my breath...

  • Norway at risk from Al-Qaeda: There seems to be many questions surrounding the issue of why Norway has been targeted by Al-Qaeda, though the plotters were found out and caught, the question of why still prevails. Here some suggestions are offered and while no single answer is forthcoming, like most things, it will be an assortment of reasons.

  • Pundits on TV are Most Likely Wrong: There seems to be a growing consensus in academic literature that political pundits on TV are wrong more often then they are right, instead it would seem that they simply tell the intended audience what they want to hear as opposed to any real debate. This should come as no real surprise as the article gives some excellent examples at just how rational most rational and impartial people are. Though this should be of no big surprise as the idea of an independent voter is more myth then real.

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Monday, 12 July 2010

Some Interesting Links...

Model of BAE Taranis UAV on display at Farnbor...Image via Wikipedia
  • No More Pilots: The UK Ministry of Defence have unveiled a unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), named Taranis, designed to penetrate into enemy controlled air-space, something the current generation of UAVs are not able to do.
  • Lebron and Poli Sci: Here in Ohio LeBron James is all over the news, here the Monkey Cage puts forward a Poli Sci 'game theory' explanation of how the decision making process could (should?) have been made.
  • Ireland at risk from Al Qaeda?: The former secretary of the US Homeland Security Department, Tom Ridge, seems to think that Ireland could be at risk from 'more attacks'. To my knowledge we have not been attacked, and though we could be targeted this would serve no purpose for the organization. There are some elements at work, but these seem to be only involved in radicalization and planning attacks abroad.

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