The Practical Radical

MapAfghan Update: New Maps from Afghanistanelectiondata.org

September 16, 2010
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I decided to do a specific blog on mapping of Afghan data, especially now since Afghanistanelectiondata.org has put together all the open source data that is related to the Afghan elections into one nicely laid out page.

I think this is a very nice example of what can be done again with keeping  electoral processes transparent. We saw something in the same vein with the maps during the Kenyan referendum (see my blog post Transparency + Accountability = Democracy, Kenya Style). What is as well exciting is that the data is provided – gotta love that opensource!

The new maps are really interesting. As well as the basic landcover maps, there is one on ethnic groups. experiences of corruption and female candidates. I have put a few snapshots of the maps below. If you click on them you will go to the actual map.

Ethnic Groups

2009 Experience of Corruption

I have as well left the old blog post on the Afghan insurgency in this blog – it is an interesting reference point on how far mapping has come in so short a time.

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Mapping the War in Afghanistan

This is an interesting map visualization of the presence of Taliban activity in Afghanistan from 2007 to August 2009. The maps are based on insurgent activity reports. They give a probable snapshot of “how things are going” in the war (not well me thinks). The use of maps combined with reporting is informative over time, though clearly there are possible issues with both data validity and overlap in time periods.

Areas of Taliban presence in Afghanistan during 2007 – November 2008
Areas of Taliban presence in Afghanistan between January and November 2008
Areas of Taliban presence in Afghanistan during January – August 2009

** Taken from the International Council on Security and Development website. The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) is an international policy think tank working to combine grassroots research and policy innovation at the intersections of security, development, counter-narcotics and public health issues.


Restoring Sanity – Martin Luther King Jr. speaks on Honor and War

August 30, 2010
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There is no greater irony than to listen to Sarah Palin speaking on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., a man who gave his life for peace and justice and spoke out against an unjust Vietnam war, while she in the same speech extols the virtues of another questionable war in a far off place.

In her speech she makes admirable commendations of two soldiers who undertook honorable actions in horrific conditions. She cannot be faulted for this.

click more to see the rest of the article and video of her speeches …

(more…)


Mapping the War in Afghanistan

August 5, 2010
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This is an interesting map visualization of the presence of Taliban activity in Afghanistan from 2007 to August 2009. The maps are based on insurgent activity reports. They give a probable snapshot of “how things are going” in the war (not well me thinks). The use of maps combined with reporting is informative over time, though clearly there are possible issues with both data validity and overlap in time periods.

Areas of Taliban presence in Afghanistan during 2007 - November 2008

Areas of Taliban presence in Afghanistan between January and November 2008

Areas of Taliban presence in Afghanistan during January - August 2009

** Taken from the International Council on Security and Development website. The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) is an international policy think tank working to combine grassroots research and policy innovation at the intersections of security, development, counter-narcotics and public health issues.


A General and a Rolling Stone: Should the Rebel Bite the dust?

June 23, 2010
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Mcchrystal - The Rebel General

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal is a rebel.

From his hard partying, authority bucking days in West Point to his current post as commander of ISAF and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, he does it his own way. We have often seen greater leaders in the military such as Patton and Macarthur (linked to a book and a movie on the subject) who do amazing things on the field, but have not so amazing relationships with the political types back home. McChrystal is cut from this cloth.

McChrystal and his aides seemed to have been caught drinking their own koolaide and dished some interviews to Rolling Stone, from which an article was written critical of the President – “Here’s the guy who’s going to run his fucking war, but he didn’t seem very engaged. The Boss [McChrystal] was pretty disappointed.” – and Vice-President – “Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite Me?”.

Unfortunately, the kafuffle about whether the General is respecting the President overshadows the real focus of the article. The article was about whether the General was pursuing an un-winnable war with a strategy that is radical and questioned by many.

The strategy he is advancing – counterinsurgency  or “COIN” – calls for sending a large number of troops to both pummel the enemy as well as befriend the civilian population and rebuild its government. As the article states, this is a long process, much longer than Obama’s promised stand down slated for next year, and is not generally supported or understood by the troops, who see it as putting them in danger by limiting their ability to defend themselves. Though in an ideal world I like the concept of an army multi-tasking and play both the role of the peacemaker and the warrior, I strongly question the ability or the desire of American soldiers to undertake this.

Please read more of the Rolling Stone article here entitled “The Runaway General“.


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