Archive of Sep 2008

Axe’s 13 Questions for the U.S. Coast Guard

This spring the Coast Guard allegedly faked a key test on its flagship, $650-million National Security Cutter. The allegations were only the latest to come out of the troubled, $25-billion Deepwater modernization scheme, which has been beset by technical failures, shady contracting, delays and huge cost overruns. Through it all, the Coast Guard has resisted [...]


The Economist‘s Global Vote for U.S. President

This is the first and last time I’m going to even reference U.S. presidential politics on this blog. I can’t resist because the foreign-policy implications of this totally unscientific poll are fairly huge. The Economist is asking readers from all over the world to vote for the U.S. president. Each country is awarded a weighted [...]


Secret Sea Lane for Piracy Protection

In the wake of last week’s Somali pirate raid that nabbed a Ukrainian ship laden with smuggled weapons, an international naval flotilla is assembling to protect commercial shipping. But the roughly dozen warships slated to patrol the Horn of Africa in coming months are spread thin. “We’re not always there” when pirates attack, a Navy [...]


Seapower: Medical Diplomats

Note: I’m posting the entire text of my latest story for Seapower Magazine. Normally I only excerpt a story and provide links to the rest over at the publisher’s Website, but Seapower uses one of those proprietary Web platforms with no ability to link in. Still, pay Seapower a visit and check out the great [...]

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Africa War News Round-Up

* Somali pirates hold ship laden with armored vehicles; U.S. Navy keeps watch. (Background.) * Sudanese military posing as U.N. in Darfur. (Background.) * Civilians flee Mogadishu. (Background.) * Kidnapped Egypt tourists now in Chad. (Background.)

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Axe, Kremlin Shill: Behind the Scenes

After I advocated taking a soft approach to handling a more “assertive” Russia, the country’s biggest (and mostly Kremlin-owned) TV news network, Channel One, sent a crew to interview me at my home in Columbia, South Carolina. We shot in my new (and currently half-furnished) apartment, and even sneaked into the bookstore of the nearby [...]


Axe, Russian Shill, Goes Shilling

When recently I defended Russia against the increasingly alarmist anti-Russia rhetoric coming out of Washington, an anonymous blogger called me a “Kremlin dupe.” The ensuing debate generated enough heat that Russian TV news network Channel One called requesting an interview. Channel One is widely considered highly pro-Moscow in a media environment where almost everyone is [...]


Axe Helps Name Army’s “Virtual Front Porch”; Army Wants Your Input

Back in May in the virtual pages of World Politics Review, The Washington Independent and Danger Room, I described how a small group of U.S. Army officers, led by Lt. Col. Tony Burgess, was creating a bunch of “Web 2.0″ tools to help connect soldiers all over the world for purposes of swapping ideas. The [...]


Somalia: Peacekeepers, Insurgents Swap Mortar Fire

Despite the reported recent withdrawal of perhaps thousands of Ethiopian troops, Mogadishu remains a battleground. Fighting has spiked in recent days as Al-Shabab insurgents step up their challenge to the corrupt Transitional Federal Government and, more alarmingly, to the Ugandan-led peacekeeping force that is the only thing keeping Mogadishu open to the outside world. The [...]


Abducted Somalia Journalists, Moved to Moga?

Last month gunmen apparently associated with Somalia’s Al-Shabab insurgent group abducted three journalists — an Aussie (Nigel Brennan pictured), a Canadian and a Somali — plus their assistants, in Mogadishu. A few weeks later, the kidnappers issued a demand: $2.5 million for the journos’ safe release. At that time, my contacts in Somalia reported that [...]

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Expert: Ethnic Cleansing, Not Surge, Securing Iraq

Did a shift in U.S. tactics plus an extra 30,000 troops fuel Iraq’s steadily improving security? Or did Iraq’s ethnic violence, pitting Shia against Sunni in the wake of the 2006 shrine bombing, simply play itself out, independent of U.S. involvement? One group of researchers, using Air Force satellite imagery to track nighttime light patterns, [...]


U.S. Airpower Terrifies Civilians

On August 22 a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan allegedly killed as many as 90 civilians.The Air Force disputes this, despite a corroborating U.N. report. Defense Secretary Robert Gates “said avoiding civilian casualties is a high priority,” according to the Air Force Association Daily Report: “We’re very concerned about this,” he said. “We work at that [...]