The Collapse of Counter-Terrorism – Book Review

Blood-Year

Blood Year: Islamic State and the Failures of the War on Terror | David Kilcullen | Black Inc.

As the Islamic State claims responsibility for the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium, David Kilcullen’s bookBlood Year: Islamic State and the Failures of the War on Terror is essential reading that charts how this terrorist group –once believed to be a minor threat – spread from Iraq through to Europe and beyond, with gruesome consequences for all it comes into contact with.

Kilcullen’s critique of the lack of a competent strategy to defeat ISIS (as well as other terrorist branches) is honest as it is confronting. As part of the team that devised the post-9/11 strategy to deal with Al Qaeda affiliates and extremists, Kilcullen notes that their apparent failure to take into account the rise and expansion of ISIS across strategic states as Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria has had disastrous consequences that have been felt most recently through the realisation of attacks in the heart of Europe.

The author is well placed to write a book on the rise of the Islamic State, with an impressive resume that includes being an Australian Army soldier, a civilian intelligence officer, and a United States government employee who served the Bush administration during the War on Terror and the Obama administration afterward.

… the terrorist threat that the War on Terror sought to quash is stronger, has access to a wider tactical network, and is more motivated to jihadism than ever before.

As a specialist in counter-terrorism, Kilcullen’s careful observations on policy and political campaigns, and their subsequent onground effect make for compelling reading – characterising some of the failures of 2014 to 2016 as “nothing less than the collapse of Western counter-terrorism strategy as we’ve known it since 2001”. The book underlines the fact that the terrorist threat that the War on Terror sought to quash is stronger, has access to a wider tactical network, and is more motivated to jihadism than ever before.

Kilcullen makes it very clear from the outset that his observations in Blood Year: Islamic State and the Failures of the War on Terror are driven from his personal experience as a key player in the theatre of war and the development and implementation of counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism strategy in the US and Australia.

That aside, his writing is backed up by comprehensive references that enable the reader to delve deeper into issues and situations if they so wish. From the fall of Mosul to the push by Russian and Syrian forces into Aleppo and surrounding villages, the book offers unique insight into the operations of ISIS as well as the State actors – such as the United States, France and Australia – attempting to deal with ISIS’s violent activities and threats.

Blood Year: Islamic State and the Failures of the War on Terror is a gripping read that will help readers make sense of how ISIS has arguably become the number one global terrorist threat.

Blood Year: Islamic State and the Failures of the War on Terror is now available from Black Inc.

Originally published at Right Now: The Collapse of Counter-Terrorism

War Through a Womans Eyes: Book Review

Australian Women War Reporters

Book review by Samaya Borom

Australian Women War Reporters: Boer War to Vietnam | Jeannine Baker | NewSouth Publishing

War reporting has traditionally evoked images of fearless and iconic men like Ernest Hemingway, Neil Davis and Father Francis Timoney, who reported directly from the battlelines, took risks and waxed lyrical about the destruction they witnessed on both landscapes and human bodies.

Such reporting was viewed as a masculine endeavour, with much less written by women on their involvement in the theatre of war, When they were referenced, it was traditionally in reference to nursing, humanitarian aid or pastoral care, not as authors of war reports themselves.

Female war reporting provided a decidedly different view to the countess reports flooding out via popular newspapers and magazines.

Jeannine Baker’s Australian Women War Reporters: Boer War to Vietnam gives a voice to the countless Australian female reporters who traversed the globe in defiance of traditional gender roles and who, arguably, paved the way for the modern female war reporter.

Baker expertly illustrates the important contribution that female Australian war reporters have made not only to the media landscape of the time, but to historical records that further our understanding of key military events that have shaped contemporary society one way or another.

Female war reporting provided a decidedly different view to the countess reports flooding out via popular newspapers and magazines. From singular reporting on British concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer war and reporting on the Korean war during the 1950s to the eventual mass accreditation of at least 75 women reporters in Vietnam – Baker illustrates the slow growing acceptance of female reporters in the field and the move away from romanticised experiences of women in war.

It is, however, clear that the growing acknowledgement of Australian women war reporters in the media was slow. As a result, Baker frequently returns to pointing out long held gender discrimination in war reporting in the hope that the industry, and audiences, will display more enlightened attitudes.

Australian Women War Reporters: Boer War to Vietnam is a book about the struggle of women attempting to define themselves outside of stereotypical notions of gender – a topic relatable to not only the media industry but also other professions where there has traditionally been a gender imbalance.

Recreating key female war reporters’ journeys, the book is an insightful read for those wanting to know more about these courageous Australian women war reporters and how their experiences ultimately shaped the war reporting landscape of today.

The quest for gender equality and recognition continues, but the path is no longer a lonely one.

Australian Women War Reporters: Boer War to Vietnam is now available from NewSouth Publishing.

Originally published at Right Now: Human Rights in Australia