Thursday, 27 April 2017
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Marking the passing of those who served this country. Contributions from comrades and families welcome.

A letter from Peter Ruddock, CEO, Lockheed Martin UK, which puts current costs on the record is reproduced on the next page.

Over its sixty-seven-year history, officially, the People's Republic of China looked up to foreign countries as inspiration only twice. In the early 1950s the Soviet Union guided the Communist Party of China. Yet by 1969 the two countries nearly went to war over ideological and territorial disputes. Then, after a long hiatus, Deng Xiaoping's visit to Singapore in 1978 ushered in a prolonged period of keen interest in the city-state's recipe for economic success, write Niv Horesh and Jonathan Paris in "The National Interest" .
In Singapore, Deng found a dynamic and fast-growing polity run by ethnic Chinese, while Hong Kong was still a British colony. Partly for that reason, Hong Kong society could not be openly extolled by the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Fred Burton of Stratfor has long written on "lone wolf" attacks. This was his first reaction an hour ago to the murder of a policeman and passers by at Westminster.

It's easy for grassroots attackers to conduct simple but effective headline-grabbing attacks using readily available weapons, especially if they are willing to die in the process. The vehicle used here wasn't nearly as large as the ones used in the much deadlier attacks in Nice and Berlin. We've noted vehicle assaults and knife attacks are a simple and effective asymmetrical grassroots tactic. This incident, which got high-profile headlines and disrupted the British capital, will likely inspire similar attacks.


Four people were killed  (a fifth died later in hospital) — including the attacker and one police officer — and 20 others were injured in a March 22 vehicular assault/knife attack on Westminster Bridge and near the Houses of Parliament.

We mark the passing of those who served this country in the Armed Forces. Contributions from/comments by comrades and families welcome. See next page

A new RUSI study published today calls for NATO to 'broaden its strategic aperture' to include the North Atlantic, a maritime area overlooked due to priorities in the Middle East, Afghanistan and most recently in Ukraine.

Entitled 'NATO and the North Atlantic: Revitalising Collective Defence' and edited by John Andreas Olsen, this RUSI Whitehall Paper includes research and perspectives from leading experts in the field, including former Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis. (link on page 2)

The early days of ISIL seem far off now. Near three years we have lived with the proto-state that Da'ish/ISIL has come to represent. In 2012 and early 2013, ISIL was a whisper; the mention of an extremist group that was growing in success and riches, gradually spreading its control and taking fighters from other groups. The ink-blot of their control spread out quickly in summer 2013 with their breakneck charge down through the spine of Iraq, culminating in the declaration of the Caliphate. Suddenly, all things seemed possible. Could the group take Baghdad? And could the Caliphate become permanent?

Stopped on the outskirts of Bayji, by the herculean efforts of Iraqi soldiers, the Caliphate stabilised for a while, transforming control of the land and pumping out propaganda on their pure Islamic rule. And the rumours of massacres we heard while they took town after town gradually transformed into the group's trademark slickly edited torture and killings, garnering them international attention that their rule alone never could. All the while, the ink-blot carried on spreading.

Now, under pressure and retreating, with Mosul Airport the latest key area to fall, the analysis of the ISIL's rise and fall in Iraq is beginning.

The Maya are, in many ways, "the Kurds" of Central America. Like the Kurds of the Middle East who have had their homeland partitioned among four states – Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, the Maya of Central America have had their homeland partitioned among five states – Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. Both peoples have preserved their traditional cultures in the face of religious, ethnic, linguistic, and political persecution; and both peoples have repeatedly engaged in armed rebellions to regain their political independence, writes Joseph E Fallon.

What is generally not known is in 1847 the Maya of the Yucatan succeeded in regaining their freedom. As a result of the "Caste War", the Maya established several independent states. The largest of these, Chan Santa Cruz, which ruled most of the present-day Mexican State of Quintana Roo and portions of the adjacent States of Yucatan and Campeche, was recognized in the 1850s as a de facto independent country by the British Government.

It was not until 1915 that Mexico officially declared "victory" and the end of the "Caste War". But the war erupted again in the 1920s and 1930s. The last official battle in the "Caste War" is said to have occurred in April 1933 when the Mexican Army attacked the Maya village of Dzula.

Nick Watts was at the launch of The Military Balance 2017

There has been much discussion of late in defence circles, concerning the level of defence expenditure, particularly compared to the US. This discussion was fuelled at the launch of the 2017 Military Balance published by the London base International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). By their calculation, the UK's expenditure as a percentage of GDP fell below the critical 2% level pledged by members of the NATO Alliance to 1.98% in 2016. This is explained by IISS as due to the UK's economy expanding faster than its defence expenditure.

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