Jonah Blank Profile picture
Author of "Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God" and "Mullahs on the Mainframe." Any tweets that aren't about Asia or Anthropology are just me sounding off.
Nov 3, 2020 7 tweets 4 min read
For those still deciding whether to give @JoeBiden your vote, here's a little story that shows what he's like-- and why he deserves your trust.

Over nearly a decade of staffing #JoeBiden, we took a number of helicopter flights in #Afghanistan...
<1/ > Image <2/ >
...One of those helo flights was a little more memorable than the others.

It was in February 2008. We were returning from a FOB (Forward Operating Base) in territory controlled by the Taliban. And a storm was moving in...
Nov 3, 2020 4 tweets 3 min read
<4/ >
So @joebiden is stranded on an icy ridge-line, in Taliban-controlled territory, and the only protection we've got are two .50cal mounted guns, and the rifles & side-arms of the few troops/PSD in the 2 Blackhawks.

No way to safely take off, no way for help to reach us... <5/
...Up to now, the day had been going well. But suddenly, not at all.

One could easily imagine a Very Important Person getting...agitated. And taking it out on anybody around him.

Not @joebiden...
Sep 19, 2020 6 tweets 6 min read
-There will be NO nominee announced to replace #RBGRIP until after #Election20120.

Here's why:
1. At least 4 GOP Members of the #Senate will come out against such a move-- for their personal political survival.
<1/n> Why there will NOT be a nominee to replace #RBGRIP before #Election2020:

2. GOP will want to use this as primary election issue: Much harder to do this if they've already rammed a nomination through.
Aug 26, 2020 11 tweets 7 min read
An important and insightful thread (as usual) from @AshaRangappa_. She (as usual) provides excellent legal context for current events.

From the @anthropology side, a bit of calibration, since the terminology of "Aryan" & "AIT" have been misused politically in both nations:
<1/n> 2/n
The part of AIT (Aryan Invasion Theory) that has been debunked is the Invasion part: #Anthropology, #archeology & related disciplines view an "invasion" of modern-day #Punjab as unsupported by evidence.

The influx of a different ethnic group was real, but probably peaceful..
May 3, 2020 5 tweets 4 min read

This is a replay of #ButHerEmails. Only worse:
-@HillaryClinton's emails was a small (but legit) story that the press (and the GOP) blew far, far out of proportion.
-@JoeBiden's "Senate records" is a NON-story. It is a pure fabrication. Here's why:
<1/5> 2/5
Why @JoeBiden's "Senate records" is a NON-story:
-Any record of sexual harassment against him wouldn't be kept there: He's already authorized & called for release of any documents where they WOULD be: #Senate, or National Archives.
Feb 23, 2020 8 tweets 6 min read
Here is the @CDCgov guidance on #CoronaVirus:…

For most of us, it is utterly useless. And so is the information coming from the @WHO, and every other organization that should be helping provide guidance to the public.

Brief thread on why.
<1/8> 2/8
The public is being told utterly contradictory things about #CoronaVirus:
1. Relax, it's kind of like a bad flu. After all, flu kills 60,000 annually in America alone. Don't panic.
2. But this virus is probably a pandemic. Treat it as a global crisis.

Please, pick just one.
Jan 30, 2020 5 tweets 3 min read
Why should we care whether #JeanineCummins' publisher is being honest about its reason for cancelling her book-tour?

Because many authors face the real risk of injury or death-- not merely embarrassment. And their risk rises whenever a publisher cries "wolf." For example... .@SalmanRushdie is the most famous author to face death-threats for his writing-- but there are far too many others.

@RanaAyyub, for example. Here's her story:…

The list is long-- and very few of these authors have ever appeared on @Oprah.

Nov 9, 2019 18 tweets 17 min read
#India's Supreme Court clears the way for construction of #Hindu temple on site of destroyed #BabriMasjid in #Ayodhya.

I've been following this issue for 30+ years. Here's a thread analyzing the #AyodhyaJudgment:… 2/n #AyodhyaJudgment
-I first visited #Ayodhya (& #BabriMasjid) in 1990: before the masjid was destroyed, before I entered the field of #anthropology. I went there while researching my first book, "Arrow of the Blue-Skinned God": A re-tracing of the #Hindu epic #Ramayana...
Oct 2, 2019 9 tweets 4 min read
A lot of discussion in the press about #CodeWord-level security clearance & whether Presidential phonecalls with foreign leaders should receive it.

A brief thread, to help clear up some inaccurate reporting (and some *very* inaccurate White House messaging: <1/8> #CodeWord clearance is a subset of #TopSecret clearance:
-It does *not* require a special codeword to access. That's just what it is called. It is more formally called #SCI, for Sensitive Compartmented Information.
Sep 19, 2019 8 tweets 9 min read
#RobertOBrien, the new National Security Advisor, is virtually unknown within #foreignpolicy circles.

Who is he? @politico has a profile. Brief thread on what it shows <1/8>… New NSA #RobertOBrien has none of the experience typically needed for arguably the most important job in #foreignpolicy/#nationalsecurity.

Here's what he was doing during his only prior stint in govt. I was working in NatSec at the time: These aren't significant posts <2/8>
Apr 21, 2019 7 tweets 6 min read
Latest #SriLankaBlast update:
-A lot of Twitter chatter about possible link to #NationalThowheethJamaath. Here's a story relaying the substance, next tweets provides some analysis.… 2/6
Argument in favor of #NationalThowheethJamaath culpability for #SriLankaBlasts:
-According to @AFP, #SriLanka police sent out a warning on April 11 that #NTJ was planning suicide attacks on churches. If report is accurate, suggests there's actual intel rather than just rumor.
Mar 30, 2019 4 tweets 4 min read
US Administration tried to de-fund the #SpecialOlympics, seeing it as some sort of charity event.
...Compare that to how #Indonesia treated its hosting of the #AsiaParaGames a few months ago: A source of national pride, and enthusiastic support for great athletes.
<1/4> #Indonesia treated the #Paragames not as a charity, but as an opportunity to host a world-class athletic competition. Signs like this one were ALL over #Jakarta-- you could barely turn your head without seeing them. Portrayed the games as a source of pride and excitement. <2/4>
Feb 10, 2019 12 tweets 11 min read
As documented by @TheAtlantic's always-excellent @JamesFallows, one of the underappreciated factors in 2016 election is the failure of #journalism to do its job (one Jim story-- he has many others).
...My thoughts on how to prevent repeat in 2020: <thread>… In 2016, MSM obsessively covered @HillaryClinton emails, while ignoring the far-more-important story of #FBI investigation of the Trump campaign. This failure had a major impact on the election's outcome. My analysis is shaped by experience in both in #journalism and politics: