Doing HR in Afghanistan

August 30, 2014

HR in AFG290“Hi Sir, staff arrived safely at the RV”. So read the text that arrived late into the night, long after the neighbours kids have been put to bed (that has become my clock). And with that text a sense of relief. There is an HR dimension to Afghanistan I never really appreciated until I came here. It’s one thing to make assessments about your own situation, deciding to shop or not shop, to go to this area or not go to this area. But the responsibility taken for other people is another weight again, and not a dynamic I ever had to contend with in Australia. As a CEO in Sydney, how many HR decisions were weighed against the possibility of staff being killed? None that I can think of, unless I consider the regular booze ups when something accidental might happen. At best all you do in that case is make sure you plan events away from the office premises. See, what you are really thinking about is public liability, adverse media and insurance claims. Your decision to have a Melbourne Cup lunch weighs those things, not the possibility of any fatal action. Read more

Afghan Refugees

April 20, 2009

afghan_burns.jpgMark Twain enjoined “Let your secret sympathies and your compassion be always with the under dog in the fight – this is magnanimity; but bet on the other one – this is business.” Sadly our government too often confuses the two. Afghan travellers looking for a better life have their boat explode from underneath them, sink, some drowning, others burning and the others somehow being picked up in one piece by our Navy. So I love seeing images such as these (SMH multimedia presentation of Burns Unit) – images of the refugees in high tech, first world health care getting the very best we can give them. Sad that a disaster had to precipitate such compassion but I am proud to be part of a community that can and does provide this sort of care. But can you imagine the dislocation in the minds of these patients, transitioning from the squalor of a crowded refugee boat to a hospital in Perth? I wonder where their journey ends. I hope it is here – the end result of some magnanimity, not elsewhere, the end result of some business.

Water Wars

April 4, 2009

waterglass.jpgI caught an interesting review of an article written by Wendy Barnaby (published in Nature). It was intriguing because it neatly flipped assumptions about why nations go to war, and going to war over water is a base assumption for many strategic assessments held by our governments. Perhaps fuelled by Mark Twain as well who apparently quipped that “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.”

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Cultivating Defence Minister Fitzsgibbons

March 26, 2009

liang290.jpgAround here there is a whole lot of huffing and puffing about the Defence Minister who is in hot water because he rents his residence from a powerful and influential Chinese national – a businesswoman who once had lots of hands on business activities in Australia, less so now. Not divulging this contact is the source of some of the heat the Minister is now receiving though a little of that is being dissipated by the debate about the rights and wrongs of the intelligence and security community investigating that relationship. It should not leave me feeling so but I am always surprised at how naive our populace is about these things. To help get some perspective on this little brouhaha flip the scenario. Read more

Australian Immigration Madness

October 31, 2008

mohammed290.jpgI travel in and out of here with nary a thought for border control, just glad that I can do so easily. But we (Australia) have an extremely fine mesh immigration net that catches all sorts. I know from experience that it hooks the sharks, and does so in such a way that we are the envy of other border management agencies around the world. But sadly it catches the good guys as well. Sometimes with fatal consequences. Mohammed Hussein here is one example. Read more

12 Things to Tell Your CIA Captors

December 28, 2007

interrogation.pngThe news that David Hicks is out of prison (released from Adelaide (Australia) prison this morning) has barely rated a mention here. “David who?”, you may well ask. Otherwise known as Detainee 002. Or perhaps more infamously, the only person to have been convicted by the US as part of the the post September 11 laws introduced to round up anyone who supported the Taliban or anyone else who points an AK47 at the US. Read more

The Most Powerful Tribe in Iraq

December 27, 2007

us-soldier-plays-oud290x200.jpgHaving spent a few weeks in Baghdad this year means I am a bit like a reformed smoker – paying close attention to as many related issues as I can and probably driving people crazy with my newfound interest in the place. But it does mean that occasionally you find articles which provide interesting and useful insight into the situation. When I was there Baghdad bombs were still rattling our windows Read more

It is Best Not To Mix too Much

December 23, 2007

“If you want a good neighbor, you have to have a place for everybody. It’s best not to mix too much.” Nadav Garmi, Rakafet

amman-skyline.jpgOne of the lesser known but interesting facts about the composition of Israel’s armies during their so called wars of liberation and independence (and defence) was the Arab component which made up about 60% of the soldiery. Read more

“We are Better Behaved These Days” – CIA

December 15, 2007

John KiriakouLet me just strap you to this board. Better hand me your coffee before you lie down. Now, if you don’t mind just hold still while I wrap your face in clingwrap so you can’t breath. Comfortable? Read more

Tehran Intelligence

December 11, 2007

Iran NuclearThe US Government has decided the Iranian nuclear program is not what the politicians thought it might be – an excuse to try and thump Tehran. I can imagine the intelligence analysts who put that assessment together must have been in a number of minds about publishing their National Intelligence Estimate. Which you can find at the site of the Director of National Intelligence. On the one hand intelligence estimate track records on Iran are not real pretty – events in 1979 still haunt parts of the inner Beltway. Read more