November 1, 2010
I can’t think of too many Government publications that cover pirates, Vikings, the Teutonic Knights, the Italian Red Brigades, the Irish Republican Army, and the Taliban in one volume, but that’s what Armed Groups: Studies in National Security, Counterterrorism, and Counterinsurgency does. Published by the Naval War College, it’s a collection of essays by noted experts that expands our view of “terrorism” by using the term “armed groups,” which includes classic insurgents, terrorists, guerrillas, militias, police agencies, criminal organizations, mercenaries, pirates, drug cartels, apocalyptic religious extremists, orchestrated rioters and mobs, and tribal factions. Once you start reading, it’s hard to stop, although it’s certainly not light entertainment.
For me, the scariest essays were those dealing with domestic armed groups, like militias, white supremacist groups, and large organized street gangs. Although a lot of the examples mentioned were familiar to me, such as the post 9/11 anthrax scare and the arrest in subsequent years of several biological terrorist wannabes – seeing all of the examples assembled in one place convinced me of one author’s contention that domestic armed groups are no less menacing than the international organizations that get so much media exposure.
Armed Groups is a rich source for all kinds of background on the use of violence by the politically powerless and the broad array of organizations that practice it. It may not help you sleep better at night to know that such groups are so prevalent, but it’s indispensable information for anyone who wants to delve beneath the surface of an often-described but not always well-understood cultural, sociological, and political phenomenon. The book’s editor, Jeff Norwitz, has posted chapters on his own Web site. You also can browse Armed Groups here, get your own copy here, or find it in a library here.
7 Comments | Naval War College, Terrorism | Tagged: armed groups, counterterrorism, domestic terrorism, national security, Naval War College, pirates, terrorism | Permalink
Posted by govbooktalk
July 14, 2010
Since 1901, the Naval War College (NWC) has produced its “Blue Book” series on various international law topics. Over the years, I’ve thumbed through a few of these volumes. I remember one on the law of piracy that would be very relevant today, given the shenanigans off the Somali coast. The latest Blue Book is even more timely. The War in Afghanistan: A Legal Analysis is a compilation of essays from an International Law Expert’s Workshop held at the NWC. It touches on just about every aspect of the war, from the legal issues surrounding the original coalition intervention to the vexed problem of the status of combatants.
The first paper in the “The War in Afghanistan in Context” section was totally engrossing. “Afghanistan and International Security” by Adam Roberts, Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for International Studies, Department of Politics and International Relations at Oxford, and President-elect of the British Academy is a tour de force of clear and logically-structured writing that delineates the historical and political background of Afghanistan, prior efforts by outside power to control it, and the vexing legal issues the current situation presents. Particularly noteworthy was his point that it’s difficult for the coalition gradually to turn over power to the national government in a place where most of the citizenry historically have had no use for any central government. After I finished reading, I was impressed by the author’s grasp of his subject and absolutely daunted by the challenges Afghanistan presents.
Another excellent paper, “Combatants” by W. Hays Parks, Senior Associate Deputy General Counsel, International Affairs Division, Office of General Counsel, U.S. Department of Defense, concludes that the Bush Administration’s decision to deny prisoner of war status to Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters was correct under long-established international law, but that its supporting statements were incorrect. I found this essay to be particularly well-documented and lucidly written.
There’s much more to The War in Afghanistan: A Legal Analysis. Some of the discussions depend upon close readings of international precedents that make it heavy going for a lay reader, but all have value for the student of international affairs and the rule of law.
You can find the complete text of The War in Afghanistan: A Legal Analysis here, browse through it here, purchase a copy, or look through it at a library.
2 Comments | Afghanistan, Government Printing Office (GPO), Legal Analysis, Naval War College, U.S. Navy | Tagged: Afghanistan, Law, Legal, Legal Analysis, Naval War College, U.S. Navy, War in Afghanistan | Permalink
Posted by gpoturner2010