Monday, June 3, 2013

Situation Report

It's been about a week since the last time I posted, and what a busy week it's been. Here's what's been going on.

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Exams went well. I didn't quite finish all of my exam prep goals, but I got a lot of it reviewed. I feel pretty confident about my SND exam, and I'm really confident about my GSI exam. For the former, we were given nine questions, and I wrote on the following three, in the order they're presented below:
Strategic Nuclear Doctrine Exam:
2. To what extent is the 2010 US Nuclear Posture Review compatible with President Obama's vision of a world free of nuclear weapons?

1. "A protected retaliatory capability has a stabilizing influence not only in deterring rational attack, but also in offering every inducement to both powers to reduce the chance of accidental detonation of war." (Albert Wohlstetter) Discuss.

6. Is a NATO nuclear strategy necessary in the post-Cold War world?
I was somewhat critical of President Obama's Prague Speech and the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, offered a detailed discussion of Albert Wohlstetter's The Delicate Balance of Terror, and drew from Critical Mass's feedback on my term paper ("Assess the value of tactical nuclear weapons in NATO’s deterrent strategy since the end of the Cold War.") to deliver a knockout on the question about NATO.

That was Friday morning. The following Monday, I sat the GSI exam, and answered the following questions in the following order:
Global Security Issues Exam:
5. B: Is the Gulf Cooperation Council a serious multilateral security organization?

4. A: Consider the causes and consequences of 'Islamism'.

3. 'The Anglo-US "Special Relationship" is now a sentimental British memory, out of step with prevalent strategic realities.' Discuss.
Of course, I answered the GCC question first. Of course I did that. Anyway, I said that the GCC is a serious organization, and will become moreso as America's footprint in the Middle East diminishes - particularly if Iran becomes a nuclear power. Then, I drew from my extensive knowledge of Islamic history to answer #4A, and finished out strong by talking up the "Special Relationship".

The Director always recommends that you write on your strongest topic first, then your second, and finish out with your third. Next, he recommends that you spend about an hour and fifteen minutes on your first essay, a little over an hour on your second, and use the remainder for your third. I follow the former approach, but not the latter - I time myself and write for about fifty-eight minutes on each topic, giving myself a couple of minutes at the end of each essay to give my wrist a break from writing. I'll get my results back in a couple of weeks, but I'm pretty optimistic about it - and let's face it, I'm not known for being optimistic.


I could use a few days off, so I was gonna go to Orkney. I even booked a cottage on South Ronaldsay. Unfortunately, neither W.R. Tullock Orkney Car Rental and Orkney Car Hire had any vehicles available, and the big boys with cars available here in Aberdeen won't let you take them off of the main island. South Ronaldsay being pretty remote, I was pretty well hosed. So... I'll give it a try again soon.


So, I've used the available time to start in earnest on my dissertation on the Dhofar Rebellion. I've had a year to figure out my approach, I've checked it over with The Director, and I've done some research in conjunction with the article for Small Wars Journal that I wrote with CN Odin. I spent a good chunk of last week sorting my sources out, using a combination of HTML and Excel. I'll add more sources, and I won't use all of the ones I sorted out over the last few days, but I'll be able to draw from the list and paste directly into my manuscript. With that sorted out, I got to work on my introduction, and I'm still working on that at present.

I'd love to post bits and pieces of it, but when I submit it, the whole thing will be processed through TurnItIn. The website will search the web, and give my paper a percentile score as an indicator of plagiarism. So, I can't put any of it online until after it's been submitted. I'll post periodic updates, though, and talk about the course of the project. I'm already way ahead of my peers, and I hope to be finished a couple of weeks early... Y'know, like, probably like a month early. So, like, four weeks, or something, I guess.

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So, with exams completed, I expect the blogging to pick up a bit. This semester's been pretty crazy, and I'll have a few things on my plate over the next few months, but it shouldn't be anywhere near as crazy as the last few months have been. (And hopefully those aren't famous last words!)

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