A Few Gems, Too Little, Too Late, Not a Grand Strategy and Not Global By Any Stretch of the Imagination
I was paying attention in 2009 when Wayne Porter and Mark Mykleby did their best for the Chairman, and was present when Brent Scowcroft, among others, listened to the Wilson Foundation “launch” of the book’s ideas in 2011. I also observed with interest as Patrick Doherty, then of the New America Foundation, tried to develop the ideas with one good meme — sustainability as the central concept – while suffering from arrogance, naivete, and shallow reading so very typical of the light-weight Washington “think tanks.” I bought this book because I think the original thinkers (Wayne Porter and Mark Mykleby) and their mentor (Mike Mullen) were on to something in 2009.
The fourth star on an other-wise three-star book (too little too late) is earned by the useful focus on global unsustainability as the context within which the USA will crash and burn, and the four “strategic antagonists,” Economic (Non) Inclusion, Ecosystem Depletion, Contained Depression, and Resilience Deficit. The book loses any hope of earning a fifth star because it has no holistic analytic model; glosses over the deep lack of integrity in banking, commerce, and government that others have covered more ably; and assumes that some kind of local business “magic happens here” will lead to the over-turning of a century of embedded corruption, what Matt Taibbi calls “Griftopia.” The cited sources are disappointing — more or less what one finds in a typical “think tank,” sources of convenience, rather than deep over-lapping sources.
The concept of “stranded assets” is new to me and a useful provocative starting point for asking why these assets are stranded. Here the authors disappoint. They just cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that the banks, corporations, and US Government, by design, have sucked the life out of the USA, treating the people and the land as expendable, financializing the economy to the point that the makers are left with nothing and the takers have it all. As I have written elsewhere, “we are all black now, and that is the central tent of this election cycle.”
The authors fail to deliver on what I thought would be the best part of the book, “Part III looks at what it will take to bring this scenario to life: the players, institutions, and financing mechanisms we’ll need to deploy, and the role that Washington could–but need not–play.” While offering a few obvious panaceas (such as the re-organization of Congressional committees to match Executive organization), this book ends with whimper.
I lose respect for the authors’ facile use of hyperbole and false facts early on. They claim that the US has been responsible for leveling despotic regimes, defeating slavery, depression, fascism, and communism, “re-designing” ourselves at each turn to ultimately triumph. Evidently they have not received the memo: there are more black people in jail today thanks to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s Crime Act, than there were slaves at the beginning of the Civil War; the financialization of the economy proceeds apace, with the 1% ever more wealthy and the 99% in desperate straits with an actual unemployment rate of 23%; fascism is alive and well thanks to Allan Dulles’ treason, the use of the Gold Lily fund to restore fascism to Italy, Japan, and Germany — and to fund dictators and regime change to put new dictators in place — and the US Government, in our name and at our expense, is “best pals” with 40 of the 42 dictators on the planet, while also waging a “Gold War” against Russia that includes the Black Eagle Trust closed down on 9/11 by design; and gold is over-leveraged by 600 (certificates) to 1 (every ounce). In short, the authors have made a useful conversational overture without actually doing the homework. Having the best of intentions, they were not well-served by the circular reinforcement from all of the people they list in their acknowledgements, all of whom lavished praise on the book without offering critical pause.
As hard as this may be to believe, BRICS, China, Russia, education, intelligence, and research do not appear in the index. I searched in vain for the needed bracketing of how the BRICS are creating an alternative human-centric economic and social development infrastructure around the world; and I searched in vain for any acknowledgement that electoral reform leading to financial reform and governance reform and intelligence reform was the center of gravity for enabling any aspect of the authors’ treatise to be implemented.
Below I point to ten books — the Amazon limit — that support my critical commentary above. The Amazon reviews of each of these ten books will provide insights from others that are lacking in this book. My lists of book reviews, including two strategic lists (one negative, one positive) are easily found on the Reviews page at Phi Beta Iota, that will provide another 2,000+ non-fiction reviews relevant to this specific topic.
- Modern Strategy
- Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
- Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance
- Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy
- Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold
- The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government
- Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
- A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
- High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years To Solve Them
- Designing Regenerative Cultures
A grand strategy is indeed needed, the last one having been done under President Eisenhower, Project Solarium. I have finished up a draft of one half of such a grand strategy for the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute — the global engagement and national security & prosperity half focused only on the departments of government oriented beyond the water’s edge. Colin Gray has written extensively on this topic. No one, anywhere, has cut to the chase: absent integrity in politics and in intelligence (decision-support), we will continue to be animals who live or die at the pleasure of the 1%.
Robert David Steele
Intelligence for Earth: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability