Far-right populism is on the rise all over the globe. Traditional diplomacy is out. Machismo is in. Cyber warfare isn’t just theory, or a joke anymore. Wars are supranational. Nuclear arsenals are expanding, unless they aren’t. All of it needs to be covered, and it needs to be covered better.
I’m Terrell. Welcome back to Foxtrot Alpha. I’m taking charge of Jalopnik’s inexplicably successful defense technology blog, and I wanted to give you an idea of what to expect around here.
Conflict is far from a new facet of the human experience. But violence—and the lives it affects—have been brought to the forefront in ways we would’ve thought unimaginable in years past. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against “drugs” has already resulted in the deaths of over 5,000 people, three of which Duterte personally claims as his own. In Europe, Russia is actively working to dismantle NATO while it invades its neighbors one by one. Even U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who soon will be tasked with protecting America from external threats, has bragged about a lack of repercussions if he were to even shoot a person in cold blood in the middle of Fifth Avenue. We live in violent and unpredictable times.
The vast majority of blame for this rise in international bloodlust is on uncouth oligarchs. But part of it is on us as a society, for letting it get this far. For not thinking about conflict the way it should be thought about. It’s not a horse race. War doesn’t have scores. Death counts aren’t points on a board. Conflict comes from somewhere, it ends up somewhere, and the tools with which it’s fought don’t arise from nowhere.
We know the coverage has to be better. We aim to be better.
I grew up on the west side of Detroit in a house where both of my uncles sold drugs. I learned a lot about what defending territory meant and why people killed each other over it. And as I began traveling around Eastern Europe as a Peace Corps Volunteer, a Fulbright Scholar and a Russian language student, I started studying the behaviors of world leaders and observed their mindsets mirrored those of my uncles.
You may think world leaders are above the mentality of drug dealers, but I tend not to agree. If you don’t believe me, check out the similarities between Vladimir Putin and Marlo Stanfield.
Before landing this gig, I was a national political correspondent at Fusion. I have a master’s degree in Russian and another master’s degree in journalism. As far as languages go, I speak Russian and Georgian. (I’m a car guy too, in case you’re curious.)
Foxtrot Alpha will continue to bring you the in-depth defense tech coverage you all have come to expect, but I plan on showing you some new things as well. My specialities are U.S. and Russian politics, especially Ukraine, so expect to see copious amounts on how foreign policy and the military intersect in these countries. You’ll see a lot of coverage of Russia and its actions in this space from now on. I’m very interested in how military hardware works, but I am just as driven to bring human faces to the stories I report.
My goal is to be a non-traditional voice that brings a fresh outlook on defense coverage that you have never read before. And I’ll be interacting with you a lot in the comments section about my articles and my professional training and personal views that motivate them. Let me know what you want to see here. I’m listening.
We’re going to look at defense in ways you aren’t used to, and ways I hope you’ll appreciate. Thanks for joining us.