PODCAST: Broken Mirrors, Episode 1

September 3, 2013

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Editor’s Note:  War on the Rocks is proud to start featuring podcasts from its Canadian affiliate, Broken Mirrors.

In this inaugural episode of Broken Mirrors, Marc Tyrrell and Tom Quiggin (me) introduce the podcast’s foundations and discuss Canada/US relations. They then sit down with Ian MacLeod of the Ottawa Citizen and engage in a freewheeling discussion on intelligence and national security in terms of changes in journalism, the effects of technology, and the Snowden Affair (just because everyone else is focus only on Syria, it doesn’t mean Canada has to be!). Why ‘Broken Mirrors’? The number one problem with intelligence agencies and think tanks is ‘mirror imaging.’ We want to ‘break those mirrors’ – a good WOTR tradition – by taking a unique Canadian perspective on the issues.

What is a ‘Canadian perspective’?  Three values are at the core of our Canadians viewpoint: ‘civil discourse’ (including the concept of a ‘loyal opposition’), bridging the gap between theory and practice, and an abandonment of rhetoric.

Each monthly Broken Mirrors podcast on War On The Rocks will be split into three segments: strategic, operational, and tactical/current. In the first segment on this episode, Marc and Tom talk about what Canadians bring to the debate. In the second segment, we sit with Ian MacLeod who has 30 year’s experience as a reporter in the intelligence, national security, military and terrorism fields. The discussion occurs over several glasses of wine. In the third segment, Tom’s risk assessment looks at what damage has occurred as a result of the Snowden revelations.

As philosophical realists (Marc is also a self-proclaimed ‘Baconian Empiricist’), we want this series to apply the best technical practices from the broadcast community. We are blessed by our genius in-house producer Tim Reilly, who also has a background in national security. By using high end production values – ‘podcast best practices-  we aim to bring into the WORT community those that tend not to look at national security issues in detail.

The idea of a reasoned and detailed discussion of particular issues is, as Ian notes, rapidly disappearing from the print world. We believe that our podcasts will deal both with the most important points as well as the in-depth issues giving the listener the ‘fly-on-the-wall’ perspective that is the hallmark of War On The Rocks podcasts.  Many people don’t want to listen to a two hour podcast, so we are releasing the edited version (30 to 45 minutes) through War On The Rocks.  The extended material can be found on our site at brokenmirrors.ca.

So, that’s the story behind the ‘Broken Mirrors’ podcasts. Sit back, grab a drink, and enjoy

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3 thoughts on “PODCAST: Broken Mirrors, Episode 1

  1. Tom, Marc,
    Great work! I look forward to more.
    Some thoughts.
    As well as the NORAD Deputy Commander on 9/11, and perhaps more to the point, it was a Canadian Major-General who was Director of Operations, the key position in putting planes in the air.
    In Afghanistan, the US had enough confidence in Canadian commanders to put US troops under their command.
    You introduce the policy, strategy, operational (campaign) and tactical levels, but you never define them. I am a fan of this framework for analytical purposes.
    I particularly liked Tom’s point about journalists not being able to access or identify legitimate sources, and therefore being more inclined, or being perceived as being inclined, to build a story according to their own views. Therein lies the rub. At the end of the day, journalists want, and make, a ‘story,’ not a credibly substantial or balanced expression of the issue at hand. There are very few journalists in Canada who merit serious consideration in the fields of national security and defence. They are experienced journalists who are past having to worry about keeping their job.
    On privacy, I think privacy is a benefit, not a right. A citizen gets as much privacy as can be allowed in protecting the state and its society. Perhaps people need to understand cyberspace as more a global commons. Much like a walk across a park, if you use it, others will watch and hear you using it.
    On Snowden … like 9/11, it seems that much of the reaction to the event is politically motivated, not actually based on real security or defence threats.Did we really have to do all that, for all that money? Domestic murders are more frequent than terrorist murders. Drunk drivers kill more Americans and Canadians than al Qaeda. I agree that any damage is largely reputational.
    I like Marc’s distinction between statesmen’s vision and politicians’ short term political interests. Too few of the former; too many of the latter.
    Looking forward to next month’s effort.

  2. Hey Canucks!
    Just came across War On The Rocks today (via Zerohedge article comments) and on to Broken Mirrors.
    I like it!
    Seems like you former military/intel guys know whereof you speak. Do you see an all-encompassing global plan afoot for the general enslavement of the people?
    Have forwarded the website to a fellow Canadian fellow who does something called The Corbett Report.

    I’m looking forward to your podcasts!