February 03, 2008

Lazy Sunday Reading ... and Tesco Value Lager-Swilling Surrender Monkeys

We here at Abu Muqawama had another great week of high reader figures, which is especially nice as we will be celebrating our one-year anniversary this coming week. When Abu Muqawama started this blog last year, he was lucky to have 50 readers in a day. Now, together with Charlie and Kip, we average closer to 1,500.

There is some good reading material out there to keep you occupied today as you wait for either the Super Bowl's kickoff or, like Abu Muqawama, the kickoff to France-Scotland at Murrayfield.

First up arrives via Dave over at Small Wars Journal, and that's Frank Hoffman's new article on hybrid wars. Col. Hoffman -- a proud product of the University of Pennsylvania -- was kind enough to send along a late draft of this paper a few weeks ago, so we can already confirm that it is excellent and well worth your time reading. Also, Dave Kilcullen chimed in at SWJ with this comment:

I'd also like to acknowledge the person I believe first used the term "hybrid wars" -- Assistant Professor Erin Simpson of the Marine Corps Staff College, who delivered a paper to the Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago in April 2005, entitled "Thinking about modern conflict: hybrid wars, strategy, and war aims".

This is the earliest use of "hybrid wars" that I have come across, and as the apparent originator of this extremely valuable conceptual framework, Erin's paper is well worth reading in full -- it's at http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~esimpson/papers/hybrid.pdf

Good old Dave: giving credit where credit is due.

For lighter reading, Robert Fisk, the Independent's reliably pompous Middle East correspondent, has an absolutely delightful article on what happened to him when he realized a bogus Saddam Hussein biography -- allegedly written by him -- started surfacing on the streets of Cairo. Seriously, put aside your aversions to Fisk and read this. Really, really funny.

Continuing in Cairo, Michael Slackman has a curious travel guide to that city, where Abu Muqawama himself lived for a time. There are two reasons everyone who is able must visit Cairo: the pyramids at Giza and the treasures of the national museum. The great pyramids and the golden mask of Tutankhamun are two things that live up to their hype 100% and then some. Oddly, Slackman only mentions the pyramids in passing and leaves no room on the schedule for them. (Let no one write in to say the pyramids are in Giza and thus aren't actually in Cairo. Ridiculous. They're closer to Midan Tahrir than the airport!)

A Washington Post article, meanwhile, makes an important and often forgotten point: there is not a war in Iraq. There are wars in Iraq. Three, if you're counting.

And finally, the normally dignified Times of London has now featured lead columnists in both its Saturday and Sunday editions waving the white flag in Afghanistan. Unbelievable. Here's Matthew Paris on Saturday and Simon Jenkins today. Has any mainstream columnist in the United States yet argued in favor of withdrawal from Afghanistan? No wonder this lot folded against the Welsh yesterday. We're going to have to coin the phrase Tesco Value Lager-swilling surrender monkeys soon enough.