Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Turning Up the Woke Dial, Highlights “non-binary Filipinos’ concerns about a lack of LGBT terms in Tagalog”

Mother Corpse (aka the CBC, our English public broadcaster) is rotting from the head down and the bottom up. Excerpts from an opinion piece at the Ottawa Sun:

Breaking down CBC’s obsession with race and diversity

Lorne Gunter

To give you an idea of how obsessed the CBC is with “diversity,” its staffers must complete a race-ethnicity-gender-orientation profile of everyone who appears on any of its news and current affairs shows – every expert, every panelist and guest commentator, even every passerby questioned in an on-the-street interview.

Back in January, former CBC producer Tara Henley [tweets here] wrote in the National Post that she resigned from the state broadcaster because, “To work at the CBC now is to accept the idea that race is the most significant thing about a person and that some races are more relevant to the public conversation than others.”

Henley explained that everyone working in a Mother Corp newsroom has to “fill out racial profile forms for every guest (they) book” and “to actively book more people of some races and less of others.”..

According to an access to information request from Blacklock’s Reporter, these Guest Sourcing Surveys are two pages long and mandatory for producers to compile on everyone who appears on the CBC main network or its all-news channel…

If a particular guest’s race, ethnicity or sexual orientation is not obvious, producers are not to ask the guest such personal information directly. Instead, they are directed to search Google or other public sources to find out what they can about a guest’s gender and ethnicity.

Producers are required to note whether interviewees appeared “biracial/multiracial.” And, according to Blacklock’s, in cases where the subject is obviously BIPOC (black, Indigenous or a person of colour), the corporation requests “additional details” such as whether they were African, Arab, Asian or First Nations versus Inuit and Métis.

…as Henley revealed in the Post, identifying race as the No. 1 feature of everyone appearing on the CBC has led to such distorted editorial priorities as stories focused on “non-binary Filipinos’ concerns about a lack of LGBT terms in Tagalog,” a common Filipino language, while “local issues of broad concern (to Canadians) go unreported [that must-make piece is here].”..

The CBC projects many different faces but very, very few different voices. Because of its obsession with race, the CBC’s diversity is only skin deep…

In its own way all these racial classifications makes Apartheid seem so simple with just native, coloured, Asian or white. Though of course the harsh effects of Apartheid were another thing entirely. But one does recall those days when fixing people in classification boxes was not considered a Good Thing. Sigh.

Another post based on a piece by Mr Gunter:

Our Alberta-Detesting Public Broadcaster, the CBC

Lorne Gunter of the Sun papers really sticks it to Mother Corpse (as I like to call the broadcaster that fewer and fewer non-francophones watch)–the organization really does seem to view its mission as projecting correct-thinking Toronto opinion to the Rest of Canada..

See also:

BIPOC, or, Has the Rest of Canada (ROC) Become a Mental Colony of the US?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Ukraine: Don’t Leave Bad Vlad Putin No Way Out

That’s the message of this piece by conservative columnist at the NY Times–here’s the second part of the column:

How to Stop a Nuclear War

By Ross Douthat

…several implications for our strategy right now. First…even if you believe the United States should have extended security guarantees to Ukraine before the Russian invasion, now that war is begun we must stick by the lines we drew in advance. That means yes to defending any NATO ally, yes to supporting Ukraine with sanctions and weaponry, and absolutely no to a no-fly zone or any measure that might obligate us to fire the first shot against the Russians.

Second, they mean that it’s extremely dangerous for U.S. officials to talk about regime change in Moscow — in the style of the reckless Senator Lindsey Graham, for instance, who has called on a “Brutus” or “Stauffenberg” [see here] to rid the world of Vladimir Putin. If you make your nuclear-armed enemy believe your strategy requires the end of their regime (or very life), you are pushing them…toward the no-choice zone…

Third, they imply that the odds of nuclear war might be higher today than in the Soviet era, because Russia is much weaker. The Soviet Union simply had more ground to give up in a conventional war before defeat appeared existential than does Putin’s smaller empire — which may be a reason why current Russian strategy increasingly prioritizes tactical nuclear weapons in the event of a conventional-war retreat [see post noted at end of this one].

But if that makes our situation more dangerous, it also should give us confidence that we don’t need to take wild nuclear risks to defeat Putin in the long run. The voices arguing for escalating now because we’ll have to fight him sooner or later need to recognize that containment, proxy wars and careful line-drawing defeated a Soviet adversary whose armies threatened to sweep across West Germany and France, whereas now we’re facing a Russian army that’s bogged down outside Kyiv.

We were extremely careful about direct escalation with the Soviets even when they invaded Hungary or Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan, and the result was a Cold War victory without a nuclear war. To escalate now against a weaker adversary, one less likely to ultimately defeat us and more likely to engage in atomic recklessness if cornered, would be a grave and existential folly.

That post:

Public Russian Nuclear Weapons Use Doctrine–Willing to go First if Necessary

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Biden’s First SOTU (note UPDATE)

If the president says “The state of the union is strong” it will force one to conclude that reason has left the White House.

UPDATE: Oh dear. POTUS ended his speech with his (staff’s) effort at a “ringing” declaration:

I have to report to you that the state of the union is strong because the American people are strong {may not be precise quote].

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song:

The Biden Presidency, or, Democrats Going over the Cliff?

Further to this post based on a piece at the NY Times by Maureen Dowd, a columnist firmly in the old-school Democratic camp,

Bye, bye Joe!

here’s another cri from her coeur, February 20:

Can Dems Dodge Doomsday?

By Maureen Dowd

It may be a TikTok world, but sometimes old hacks know best.

James Carville helped Bill Clinton get elected against stiff odds. David Axelrod helped Barack Obama get elected against stiff odds. And Stan Greenberg [more here] was the first to identify the fateful trend of Reagan Democrats.

All three Dems are speaking out with startling candor about the impending Repubocalypse. Many Americans are fed up. The jumbled Covid response has eroded an already shaky trust in government. Inflation is biting. War is looming. Things feel out of control. People are anxious and reassessing their lives. Democrats have to connect with that.

The Democrats are stepping all over themselves. And Republicans are doing all they can to prevent the Democrats from accomplishing anything, and then are trashing them for not doing anything. Voters like to punish the people in power. So if the Democrats don’t figure it out, Jim Jordan is going to be running the House and pushing investigations of Biden and Hillary. They can’t quit her.

Exhausted, confused, isolated and depressed Americans are not buying the Democratic line that things are better than they look.

Biden’s superpower was supposed to be empathy, but nobody’s feeling it [emphasis added].

“He is depriving himself of his strongest assets: empathy and an identification with the day-to-day lives of people,” Axelrod said. “One of Biden’s strengths is that, at his best, he speaks the language of America, not Washington. But he has been speaking more in the voice of government officials than he has of Scranton Joe. He needs to get back there.

“Gary Hart told me the smartest thing I ever heard in politics: ‘Washington is always the last to get the news.’”

Axelrod understands, from his days in the White House, that the Biden team is frustrated because they feel the public doesn’t appreciate their achievements, and they don’t understand why. Biden’s advisers are urging him just to sell harder and people will get it. Axelrod disagrees: “You cannot persuade people if their lived experience is telling them something different. We’ve been through hell in America and around the world.”

In a Times opinion piece, Axelrod said Biden should avoid “off-key” triumphalism in his State of the Union address, and remember the country is traumatized.

Carville, still a Ragin’ Cajun, took time out from his Mardi Gras planning to reiterate points he has made in a Vox interview and elsewhere: Democrats should not be defined by their left wing or condone nutty slogans like “Defund the police.” They should work not to seem like an “urban, coastal, arrogant party” indulging in “faculty lounge politics” that appeal to reason rather than emotion and use “woke” words like “Latinx [see this post on Mr Carville: “How Woke Can the Democrats Go?“].

“Seventy percent of the people in San Francisco tried to warn us,” he said of the battle among Democrats that ended up with voters firing three far-left school board members who mandated a long break from in-person learning during the pandemic and who wanted to rechristen schools named after Abraham Lincoln and George Washington [see this post for another name: “Cancel Culture, or, San Francisco Wipes out Robert Louis Stevenson“].

“They’re not popular,” Carville said of such far-lefties, adding in a line spoken directly to them: “People don’t like you.”

Right now, he said, Americans are seeing “confusion and disorder.”..

In a blunt piece in The American Prospect, Greenberg warned Democrats not to use Obama as a closer in campaigns anymore or to present themselves as the party of Obama.

Once, Democrats believed that Obama’s multiracial coolness would animate his party. But his failure to prosecute any bankers after the near-collapse of the economy solidified fears that Wall Street and Washington were in cahoots.

“Obama did not give voice to the hurt and anger that working class voters were feeling [emphasis added],” Greenberg wrote, adding that Democratic leaders “stopped advocating for workers against corporate excess and stopped challenging the exceptional corruption that allowed billionaires and Wall Street to dominate politics. The result is that the Democratic Party has lost touch with all working people, including its own base.”

An Associated Press story’s headline echoed his point: “‘The Brand Is So Toxic’: Dems Fear Extinction in Rural U.S.”

Greenberg said he’s tired of trying to warn Democrats that they’re driving people away. Fretting about the threat of Trumpism, given that the Democrats are bleeding working-class voters, including Black and Hispanic ones, he told me, “If they don’t listen this time, we’re going to end up with fascism, dammit.”

Yikes. Another post based on a piece by the ever more despairing Ms Dowd:

Biden and the Democrats, or, how to Lose when finally Winning (note “UPDATE”)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme cartoon:

Canada, Corruption, Money Laundering: Far From a Squeaky Clean Great White North

Further to this post (note others near bottom),

British Columbia Launders Money Cleanest

just about our top journalist and a passionate polemicist who sure can tickle a keyboard (disclosure: good friend) has at our feckless governments–at the Ottawa Citizen:

Canada has a corruption problem, as Transparency International shows

Our score on the annual Corruption Perceptions Index has dropped again, to its lowest ever: 74 out of 100. And this ranking only scratches the surface.

Author of the article: Terry Glavin

Canada has come off badly again in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index , with the country’s score falling faster than that of any other country in the 180-nation rankings released this week. Canada’s score has dropped to its lowest ever — 74 out of 100 — a slide that has cost Canada eight points over the past five years alone.

And the CPI only scratches the surface. It doesn’t measure “issues related to financial secrecy and money laundering,” Transparency International points out, “or the role of the private sector in allowing the corrupt to safely hide and enjoy proceeds of their crimes.”

It’s in those vices that Canada’s reputation has rightly taken a battering in recent years, from revelations about the billions of dollars in drug money laundered through casinos into Vancouver real estate, to nationwide bar association standards that allow lawyers to hide their clients’ shadowy sources of wealth.It’s no small matter that the CPI measures only public-sector types of corruption: bribery, diversion of public funds, nepotism in the civil service, bureaucrats abusing their authority for private gain, empty-promise whistleblower protection, useless conflict-of-interest laws and so on.

The capacity of government to detect money-laundering practices falls within the CPI’s purview, but one shudders to think what Canada’s score would be if the federal government allowed a degree of public scrutiny sufficient to effectively expose the rackets that move money into Canada on behalf of big-time gangsters, police-state apparatchiks, and oligarchs and kleptocrats from Belarus to Beijing [emphasis added].

Last year’s “ National Criminal Intelligence Estimate on the Canadian Criminal Marketplace ,” a report prepared by the federal Criminal Intelligence Service, reckoned the amount of dirty money finding its way into above-ground Canadian assets such as real estate every year at perhaps $133 billion [emphasis added].

TI’s annual index does a thorough enough job of assessing how well governments around the world enforce controls on the pillaging of public treasuries, TI Canada’s James Cohen told me this week. “But it’s not capturing who is passively allowing or is taking advantage of weak beneficial ownership laws,” Cohen said, referring to laws that would otherwise reveal the identities of individuals behind the shell companies and numbered companies that own so much Canadian real estate.

The federal government has promised a beneficial-ownership law, but it isn’t planned to come into effect for another three years. Quebec and British Columbia had been leading the way, at least in plans for a public registry, but B.C.’s registry, promised four years ago, has now been stalled for another year. Across Canada, ever since a 2015 Supreme Court ruling on solicitor-client privilege, lawyers have been free to withhold information from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (Fintrac) about their clients’ suspicious financial transactions. The judges more or less invited the government to fix the law to compel lawyers to report their clients’ dodgy dealings, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has declined to clean it up….the main prize is a properly searchable and publicly accessible beneficial-ownership registry, developed in coordination with the provinces.

That’s been promised. And as is so routinely the case with the Trudeau government’s promises, we are all still waiting for it to be fulfilled…

Snow-washing: the national, year round, Olympic white collar sport. How serious a country are we?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme video: perhaps the Canada we should be:

Stand News Shut Down in Hong Kong–Canadian Cantopop Star Denise Ho Arrested, Released on Bail–Ottawa Bleats

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Hong Kong activist and music star Denise Ho bows to well wishers as she is released from Western Police Station, on Dec. 30. Vincent Yu/The Associated Press”)

Note especially video at the end of the post. First from Global News:

Canadian Denise Ho released on bail after Hong Kong police raid Stand News

By Aaron D’Andrea

Canadian Denise Ho was released on bail in Hong Kong Thursday after being arrested following a police raid on a pro-democracy news outlet.

Ho, a pop star and activist who serves as a board member of Stand News [much more at second part of the post], was released on bail pending further investigation, Reuters and The Associated Press report. Ho is not currently facing any charges, but is due to report to police in late March, authorities said.

Ho confirmed her release on Twitter, and said she’s returned home safely

Meanwhile, a Hong Kong court denied bail to two former senior editors charged with conspiring to publish seditious materials at Stand News.

Roughly 200 officers raided the office of the online publication on Wednesday [Dec. 29], freezing its assets and arresting seven current and former senior editors and former board members. The move has been seen as the latest crackdown on the city’s press.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defended the raid, telling reporters that “inciting other people … could not be condoned under the guise of news reporting.”

Stand News said Wednesday that it has ceased operations and has laid off all its staff [emphasis added]...

Mélanie Joly, Canada’s [hapless] foreign affairs minister, said in a series of tweets Wednesday that the government is “deeply concerned” by the raid and arrests.

In a separate post on Thursday, Joly said the government stands by Ho…

[Boy! That thunderbolt of a tweet will sure get the Chicoms’ attention and make them shake in their boots. And crickets from our fearless leader, PM Trudeau.]

According to a charge sheet viewed by The Associated Press, national security police filed one count each of conspiracy to publish a seditious publication against Chung Pui-kuen and Patrick Lam, former editors at Stand News. Police also said they would prosecute the company for sedition…

Second, an article with substantive background at the Globe and Mail:

Canadian Cantopop star Denise Ho sacrificed a lucrative career in China to speak out for Hong Kong

James Griffiths Asia correspondent Hong Kong [Mr Griffiths has been in Hong Kong a few months awaiting a visa to move to Beijing; one wonders if the PRC will ever grant one, given the Globe’s, er, aggressive coverage for quite a few years of the Communist government’s internal policies and of its actions regarding Canada]

Growing up in Hong Kong and Montreal, it was always the latter city Denise Ho associated with politics, with people standing up for what they believed. Watching the 1995 Quebec independence referendum, she would reflect later, lit a political flame within her, though one that would take years to reach full force.

On Wednesday, Ms. Ho was one of seven people arrested in relation to the independent media outlet Stand News. She is accused of sedition, and could face years in prison if convicted. The pop star and three other former members of the Stand News editorial board were released Thursday on bail pending further investigations. All four are due to report to police in late March.

The arrest was a development Ms. Ho had long seen coming, since she sacrificed a lucrative career in mainland China to speak out for democracy in Hong Kong [emphasis added]. “Right now, I am facing threats from the communist government, pro-Beijing supporters, and could face arrest and prosecution at any time,” she said in 2019.

This only became more likely a year later, when Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on Hong Kong, one that has powered a sweeping crackdown on civil society, leaving Ms. Ho one of the few prominent activists not yet in prison.

Born in Hong Kong in 1977, Ms. Ho’s family moved to Canada when she was 11, soon becoming citizens. Eight years later, she moved back, entering a singing competition that was to launch her music career. She was a mentee of Cantopop superstar Anita Mui, who helped her get a record deal and employed Ms. Ho as a backup signer…

Even as things began to shift in Hong Kong, as it became clear the grand promises of autonomy and freedom Beijing made in the run-up to handover were not being honoured, Ms. Ho held her tongue. Active in promoting LGBT rights, making history as one of the first Hong Kong celebrities to come out, she avoided topics that could see her blacklisted in China. “As a celebrity, I was told to stay neutral and not get involved in politics,” Ms. Ho said later.

All that changed with 87 rounds of tear gas in 2014. When police fired on student pro-democracy protesters, it sparked the Umbrella Movement, bringing hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers to the streets, Ms. Ho among them. She became one of the movement’s most prominent figures, arrested at a protest camp in December of that year [emphasis added].

Her involvement in the protests ended any chance of work in China. Denounced by state media, brands dropped her, and Ms. Ho swapped awards shows and TV appearances for a tiny studio in Wong Chuk Hang, on the south side of Hong Kong Island, where she began rebuilding her career, this time as a fully independent artist.

Ms. Ho continued her activism through 2019, when Hong Kong again exploded with anti-government protests that were met by an even heavier police response than five years earlier. In July of that year, Ms. Ho appeared at the United Nations, where she was repeatedly interrupted by Chinese delegates during a speech to the Human Rights Council [emphasis added]

Months later, she testified before a U.S. Congressional hearing alongside Joshua Wong, the former Umbrella Movement leader turned politician, in support of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (HKHRDA), a law passed in late 2019 that obliged Washington to impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for human-rights abuses in the territory.

The sanctions outraged Beijing. Ms. Ho was denounced by Chinese state media as a “secessionist” and “radical anti-government figure.” Following the passage of the national security law in mid-2020, others who had called for international sanctions were accused of committing the new crime of “collusion with foreign forces,” and many fled into exile. Mr. Wong and nearly every other remaining opposition politician found themselves jailed for “subversion” over a primary vote held to pick candidates for forthcoming legislative elections.

Throughout 2021, the authorities circled closer and closer to Ms. Ho [emphasis added]. A concert she had arranged was cancelled at the last minute on public-security grounds, and local media reported she was being investigated by the police. A fund set up to cover protesters’ legal bills, in which she was a trustee, was one of dozens of civil society groups unable to continue operating under the national security law. Ms. Ho also stepped down as a director of Stand News, along with other board members associated with the pro-democracy movement.

Ultimately, this was not enough. On Wednesday, more than 200 police officers raided Stand’s offices along with the homes of Ms. Ho and other former directors. She was one of seven arrested for “conspiracy to publish a seditious publication.” Ms. Ho could be jailed for up to two years if found guilty, and may face further charges under the security law…

Now what? Any Canadian deeds to supplement those oh so pathetic words? One closes with two tweets from former Canadian ambassador at Beijing, the clear-eyes David Mulroney:

And a post from September:

What Free Press in Hong Kong? The Dragon Takes another Bite of the Apple

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme video–a 2020 Ted Talk by Ms Ho

The Rise and Fall of Pan Am (note West Berlin), or…

…a glimpse at the “Romance of Aviation” and thereafter–Pan Am had a special tie for West Berliners noted in this memorial article at Deutsche Welle, excerpts:

Pan Am: Around the world with the blue globe

Thirty years ago, Pan Am ceased operations. The US airline put its stamp on civil aviation like no other and will always be remembered, especially by people in Berlin.

It’s been three decades since Pan Am closed up shop. Its last flight, PA436, from Bridgetown, Barbados to Miami took place on December 4, 1991, ending the global aviation icon’s 64-year saga.

It’s a saga that is still remembered today all over the world, but especially in the once-divided city of Berlin, where the blue Pan Am globe on the tail of the airline’s Clipper aircraft was always seen as a symbol of hope and freedom during the Cold War…

Humble beginnings

It all started on October 19, 1927, with a short hop in a rented floatplane from Key West in Florida to Havana, Cuba. This was Pan Am’s first flight. By the time he retired in 1968, visionary entrepreneur and New Jersey native Juan Trippe had established Pan American World Airways, a unique aviation empire that, under Pan Am’s famous blue globe logo, brought the world together like no other venture had [see tweet 1) at bottom of post for early Latin American Routes].

Trippe came up with his master plan in November 1935 when Pan Am’s Martin M 130 flying boat, the “China Clipper,” completed the first trans-Pacific air mail service between San Francisco and Manila. The four-engine flying boat covered the distance of roughly 8,000 miles (12,875 kilometers) in seven days, beating the fastest connection by ship at the time by more than two weeks [see tweet 2) at bottom of the post]

Postwar takeoff

Although privately owned, after World War II Pan Am became the de facto US national carrier in international aviation. In January 1946, Pan Am established the first trans-Atlantic flights using land-based aircraft. The scheduled DC-4 services from New York to Hurn near London took 17 hours and 40 minutes including stops. To Lisbon, it was just a little under 21 hours.

…West Berlin as the then divided city could only be served by allied carriers. Pan Am assumed that role from 1950 [see tweet 3) at bottom of post for a personal experience].

Initially, four-engine DC-4s were deployed on the air corridors to six West German cities…

Pan Am was the biggest international player and carried almost 2.6 million passengers in 1956. But Trippe wanted more. He wanted to make flying accessible to more people, not just the rich.

Jet age player

Trippe had an unbeatable instinct for technical innovations. In the mid-1950s, he decided the time was ripe for the start of the jet age. In October 1955, he put in simultaneous ordes for two competing plane models of the early jet era: 20 four-engine 707s from Boeing and 25 DC-8s from Douglas…

On October 26, 1958, the [commercial] jet era began with the inaugural flight of a Boeing 707 from New York to Paris. The jetliner became a roaring success. In the process, Pan Am became the most glamorous airline in the world.

In the 1960s, business was booming at Pan Am, with annual passenger growth of 15%. Trippe was ready for the next quantum leap. On April 13, 1966, in what was arguably his most visionary move, he ordered 25 Boeing 747s.

It was an aircraft of unmatched dimensions at the time. Designed to carry up to 490 passengers, it was later dubbed the “jumbo jet”. Again, this important step in aviation development arguably wouldn’t have happened without the courage of Juan Trippe. His retirement was followed by many hectic management changes and ill-fated mergers.

What goes up must come down?

During the 1980s, Pan Am’s financial situation became ever more dire. Then there was the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 in which 270 people died on a 747 and on the ground in Scotland. Flight bookings collapsed and on December 4, 1991, Pan Am filed for bankruptcy…

1)

2)

3)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song: meanwhile at arch-rival TWA, now also defunct:

Demolishing “Damascus Station”

This is simply a very bad espionage thriller. This blurb (also found at the Amazon page linked to above) by a former head of the CIA must be an example of dezinformatsiya in a desperate effort to boost the Company’s image:

“A truly sensational read! In fact, Damascus Station is the best spy novel I have ever read. David McCloskey experienced Syria firsthand as a CIA analyst, and he delivers a thrilling, graphic, gripping, and realistic―albeit fictional―portrayal of the CIA and the bloody, tragic Syrian uprising. I lived this extraordinarily frustrating episode in Agency history, and I could not put this book down [trying to escape the Agency’s failures?].
General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former director of the CIA, and former commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and International and US Forces in Afghanistan

[By the way on p. 4 there is a reference to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service giving operational assistance in Ottawa to our hero.]

The story amounts to a cross between the omnipresent and almost omnicapable CIA of the Jason Bourne movies (without the cinematographic virtues, just the silly plotting) and super-agent James Bond. Lots of needless accounts of food and clothing and lots of sex, sex, sex. Plus blood and gore including scalpings. The whole shebang makes John Buchan’s hero, Richard Hannay, seem a virtual model of realism.

Examples of the author’s, er, style:

1) P. 286:

She [a very well-placed Syrian security official with the Assad government, from of good family, who has recently been recruited by our intrepid hero] wore jeans and a white T-shirt underneath an olive-drab Barbour [nice touch, eh?] coat. She’d curled her hair slightly and wore it down, but it did not hide the large gold hoop earrings dangling in the breeze. Sam [our hero] was sporting a long-sleeve gray T-shirt and jeans with a pair of driving shoes, and he realized they looked like many of the other vacationing couples that had descended upon the square. He ordered Tuscan ragù with boar, Mariam cacio e pepe [ah, those Bond touches]. “Just like in Èze,” she said as she handed the dinner menu back to the waitress. Sam smiled back at her, thinking of that first night, hearing her earrings jangling as they’d moved together. He wondered if they were the same ones she had on now.

2) P. 287:

“I will always protect you, Mariam. Always,” he whispered into her ear. “The work we have chose is dangerous, but it led us to each other. “And we’ll finish this together in Damascus, I promise.” He kissed her forehead and then her mouth, savoring the feel of her hair as he caressed her neck.

“The is something about us,” she said. It gives me power. I can’t do this without you, Sam.”

He was beginning to think the same thing…

Spy soap, what?

2) P. 334:

“This might actually be the last time, habibi, she said.

“I know,” he said. “But we’re usually wrong.”

Now that sure is a pseud-Bond one-liner.

The plot is a mountain of implausibilities, so that when it is revealed (p. 243) that the Mossad deputy chief of station in D.C. is an asset of Russia’s foreign intelligence service (SVR) one really cannot take it seriously. Whereas in a good thriller that should be a crucial element of the story.

As for implausible–and pure Jason Bourne–as Sam is in the midst of recruiting Mariam on the French Riviera they go to her hotel room late one evening. They are attacked there by three Syrian thugs being used off the books by another Assad security official out to get Mariam for his own reasons. Our dynamic duo swiftly terminate the three fellows with extreme dispatch and prejudice. They exit the hotel (which fortuitously has no security cameras to record them), Sam calls the CIA station chief in Paris, and he arranges for the three bodies to be disposed of and the room rendered spotless before housekeeping gets to it the next morning.

Wow (pp. 112-17).

As a former analyst, not a clandestine services operator, perhaps Mr McCloskey is trying to fulfill his fantasies with the book.

PREDATE: More on Richard Hanny from 2018:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song:

What’s a poor British Grenadier to do?

The well-informed British defence blog Thin Pinstriped Line looks at the latest of a series of official plans to move the British Army forward. Keep in mind the Brits, besides operating within NATO, as part of UN peacekeeping missions, and in ad hoc coalitions, still see using their army abroad in independent fashions to pursue their own national interests, if they can figure out how to pull off the trick. Canadian have never really had any such ambitions– some further thoughts on the Canadian Army at end.

Be The Army You Want To Be – Thoughts on ‘Future Soldier’

The British Army has announced its new plans for its revised future structure and operational roles. The announcement made by the Secretary of State for Defence sets out how the British Army will be restructured into a force of 73,000 regulars [Canada about 20,000], supported by reservists and civil servants…

By defining the Army as being an organisation more intended to focus on training, assistance and operations in the ‘grey zone’, this plan could be potentially significant. If there is genuine, long term and sustained commitment to growing Ranger Bns [battalions], and using them as long term training teams to enhance capabilities of partner nations, then this will have very positive benefits for UK security.

A long-term plan, which sees training delivered year after year, with sustained regional presence to build relationships that last a career can potentially be a hugely positive outcome. Done well and done with the intention that this is the long term plan, then the future looks positive.

There is always strong demand for British Army training around the world, and having the means to offer it, to build capacity and to deliver to partners could be good news…

…This move to working with partners, letting their forces take the lead in conducting kinetic operations while providing skills, training and niche assets will be a compelling offer – it may prove a policy and permissions challenge, but it is something that looks an extremely positive offer [but how happy will ‘partners” be if Brits stay behind the front lines? and will the UK government wish necessarily to support those “kinetic operations”?].

The bigger question though is what beyond Ranger Bns is the British Army actually going to do? The paper focuses on a return to older missions like supporting the Civil Authorities, and assisting allies, but there feels like there is a gap between low-key low-level training abroad, stuffing sandbags and then moving into the high intensity conflict space where suddenly the Army will be used to deter peer rivals globally.

…the return to a more assertive deterrence posture in central and Eastern Europe by putting more troops and vehicles through on exercises will be welcomed by many NATO partners. This commitment to Europe is a welcome sign of the UK continuing to play a serious and credible role at the heart of European security, and to act as an additional complication in Russian planning for mischief making [Canada for its part has “540 soldiers leading a NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia” but they are present simply as a deterrent, er, tripwire–the Canadian Army does not significantly take part in NATO exercises in Europe].

However, as the Cold War showed, the ability to turn up and fight as a coherent worked up battlegroup in time to deter others isn’t easy and requires a huge amount of training and effort. Is the will and funding there to seriously train and sustain a credible force that can reinforce and defend the borders of Eastern Europe as required ?

…Over the last 10 years the Army has tried on several different occasions to reinvent itself and offer new roles, structures and organisational changes – for example the ‘Army 2020’ plan.

In this period there has been the vision of the Army as laid out in the SDSR, the Army 2020 vision and now this vision of the Army in 2025. Each time the answer feels different – different structures, different locations, different unit roles and different objectives – there is a sense of near perpetual change as the Army strives to find a version of itself that it feels comfortable being.

Between1945 and 1990 it had this through the existence of BAOR – it knew that its role was to deter in peacetime, and in wartime expand rapidly to provide enough troops to buy time to avoid the war turning nuclear. Once the war had turned nuclear, then there was no role for it – bluntly the Cold War Army existed to fight for 7-10 days then die [as with the Canadian Army in Germany with NATO; UN peacekeeping was a sideshow, see this post: “Not Remembering Canada’s Real Post-WW II Military History“].

It is perhaps telling that files from this period on planning for home defence struggle to identify a post-strike role for the Army beyond helping the civil power. Yet this structure and reason to exist gave a sense of purpose [emphasis added].

The period 1990 – 2015 was arguably a period of fighting wars that felt familiar, without having to answer the difficult ‘so what’ question about what value this added to British foreign policy outcomes. For all the huge sacrifices made in Iraq and Afghanistan, this tactical set of victories still has arguably resulted in at best strategic stalemate or defeat in both countries [ditto for Canadian Forces’ activities].

The problem then is trying to work out how the Army can avoid these challenges in future – what roles can it take on that avoids the errors of the past, while in the same turn provides relevant assets that can add value to help deliver Government security objectives.

The move to a training focus seems sensible, and one that if committed to, could be a really valuable outcome. But the problem is, lurking behind this sense of opportunity is the concern that we may find ourselves going around this buoy again in another 5 years when the ‘Army 2030’ vision inevitably gets launched.

The other big concern about this document is that for all the talk of impressive new capabilities and investment coming downstream, it remains the case that the British Army will be unable to deploy a modernised divisional level capability until around 2030 – the best part of a decade away [emphasis added–the Canadian Army’s intent is to be able to deploy a combat-capable brigade group, see antepenultimate bullet point at bottom of p. 11 PDF here; that is impracticably aspirational, to be charitable].

…many of the strands in the paper feel like a greatest hits of Defence papers dating back 30 plus years. The call for better integration of reservist and civil servants, and the call to address retention and gapping, and also to make better use of skills and experience to create a digitally enabled workforce – all of these are themes that go back at least as far as 1998, and probably a lot further. (It is also notable that both Space and Cyber remain a ‘new’ domain despite being a military issue for over half a century).

The fact that once again there has been a rallying call to say ‘we must have a better integrated workforce’ not only leads you to conclude that all of the previous commitments to doing so have been a total failure, but also that there is little likelihood that without serious cultural change, this time is likely to be any more successful either…

What is needed is a period to let these changes work through, to try things out and to actually get the new equipment needed and make sure the Army is able to do the jobs it wants to be able to do. Right now it feels that whether it wants to or not, we’ll be hearing in a few years’ time about how Army 2030 / 2035 is the bright exciting future of the British Army…

One might add that the current Canadian government is even unwilling to deploy the army for UN peacekeeping missions to perform any boots-on-the ground roles such as reconnaissance or patrolling that might risk casualties–see this post:

UN Peacekeeping: PM Trudeau and Liberals too Fearful to Meet their Pledges when they Realized the Realities of “Killer Peacekeeping”

In fact one suspects that with increasing natural disasters and the pandemic problem that that government may be trending along these lines:

COVID-19/Natural Disaster Response, or, Canada’s Coming Constabulary/Militia Armed Forces?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

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