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Charlie Hebdo Perspectives

Lessons from France – part 3

A few days ago I stood overlooking what was no-man’s land outside the little town of Auchonvillers in the Somme department of Picardie.  In a battle that became known as Beaumont-Hamel, the morning of July 1, 1916 saw the slaughter of most of the Newfoundland Regiment (it later received the title “Royal”): of the 780 […]

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Charlie Hebdo Perspectives

Lessons from France – part 2

Staying with the theme of the catastrophic loss of life in Paris two nights ago, one set of comments has me worried.  A few people – not just in the wake of November 13 but for some time now – have decided that groups such as the Islamic State are “death cults” and that members […]

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Charlie Hebdo Perspectives

Lessons from France – part 1

In the wake of the attacks in Paris on November 13, we have already seen a wide variety of responses on what this all means and what do we do now.  French President Hollande has called the barbarity an act of war and vowed a crushing reply to the Islamic State.  We shall see what […]

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Perspectives

Thoughts on the attacks in Paris

At the risk of inviting criticism for leaping in just after the tragic events in Paris last night, before all the facts are in, here are a few thoughts on terrorism and risk. First and foremost, it is important to reject to the degree possible the heinous crimes committed.  It is very early still, but […]

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Perspectives

Lessons from Normandy

I have spent the last week touring northern France (Brittany and Normandy) with my eldest daughter.  We have seen some amazing cathedrals and abbeys (Mont St Michel and Rouen among others), the thousands of standing stones at Carnac and some incredibly quaint Brittany seaside villages (Pont Aven was particularly lovely). But what has struck me […]

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Perspectives

Brothers in arms?

Last week I was asked to speak at the Canadian Military Intelligence Association annual conference in Ottawa. The speakers’ list included the Canadian National Security Advisor (and former Director of CSIS) Richard Fadden and Chief of Defence Staff General Vance. The day was well attended by members of the Canadian intelligence community. On the tables […]

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Perspectives

Doing CVE right

With a new government sworn in yesterday in Canada, there is an added impetus to do CVE (countering violent extremism) in this country.  We used to do it, and do it well, until a few – ahem unfortunate – phrases were dropped over the past year by certain government officials.  We can now set that […]

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Perspectives

Damned if we do and damned if we don’t

It is not hard to see why politicians have a hard time admitting mistakes.  They work hard and  make difficult decisions and are not always open to accepting that these decisions were wrong.  Some may be too arrogant to see the error of their ways.   It is the rare individual who issues a mea […]

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Perspectives

Two countries, two elections, same tactic, two outcomes

I have already blogged about the use of fear by the governing Conservatives in the most recent Canadian federal election.  Voters were showered with warnings that the Islamic State was everywhere (and may be coming to a bedroom near you) and that only by returning Mr, Harper and his crew would Canadians truly be safe. […]

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Perspectives

Terrorist back scratching

When we study and analyse terrorist groups, we tend to look at them in categories – Islamist, right-wing, nationalist, single issue, etc. – rather than as a whole. True, eminent scholars such as David Rappoport have written magisterial works that examine multiple terrorist strands across time, but the current trend is to put boundaries around […]