27 March 2010: Full spread sheet and optimal links added below Amazon review.GOT TO RUN, Links later today.
Beyond Five Stars…Gifted Mix of Intelligence, Integrity, Insight Deeply Rooted in History and Firmly Focused on Today’s Reality
March 21, 2010
I do not always agree with Ralph Peters, but along with Steve Metz and Max Manwaring, both at the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the U.S. Army, I consider him one of America’s most gifted strategists whose integrity is absolute. He simplifies sometimes (e.g. Iraqis turned against Al Qaeda because of the demand for marriage that was refused followed by the bloodbath execution of the family by Al Qaeda, not because of anything the US did) but that aside, Ralph is the ONLY person that reminds me of both Winston Churchill–poetry and gifted turns of phrase on every page–and Will Durant, historian extraordinaire. Ralph has a better grasp of history, terrain, and the military than Robert Kaplan, and deeper insights into our failed military leadership (no longer leaders, just politically-correct administrators out of touch with reality) than my favorite journalist-adventurer, Robert Young Pelton.
I have read and reviewed most of Ralph’s books, and am proud to consider him a colleague and a fellow Virginian. Ralph is the only author whose books jump to the top of my “to read” pile, and I absorbed this masterpiece over the course of moving my own flag from Virginia to Latin America. US national and military intelligence have completely given up their integrity, and it resonated with me that the key word that Ralph uses throughout this book–a word I myself adopt in my latest book in carrying on the tradition of Buckminster Fuller on the one hand, and most respected mentor-critic Chuck Spinney on the other–is that very word: INTEGRITY.
My extended review at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog (PBI-PIB), has the totality of my notes, my selection of quotes from across the book, and links too numerous for Amazon’s paltry ten-book limit. Ralph is, like me, acutely interested in history, and until I donated mine to George Mason University as part of clearing out of the USA professionally, has one of the best personal libraries in the tri-state area. Ralph writes commentary without footnotes, but it is a testament to his gifted study of history and his acute grasp of reality across time, space, and culture, that any one of his books easily leads me to connect the reader to 20 or more other books, one of my primary value-adds for the global community that follows my non-fiction reviews in 98 reading categories.
Buy this book; it is perhaps the only discourse to really look at our failures as a nation, as a government, and as a military, in the larger context of history where 1,000 year terms are the standard, not mere centuries and certainly not tiny little wars of 4-30 years duration.
Unusually for any book, I have fourteen “must share” quotes and I provide those in my extended review are PBI-PIB, along with all the links integrated into my summative notes.
This book is a compendium of strategic thinking, poetic memorable framing of core intelligence challenges, and a moral discourse as well. I share–deeply–Ralph’s utter fury at the dishonesty prevalent with the most senior ranks of the military including specifically flag officers across all the services and flag officers responsible for the $75 billion a year cesspool we call national and defense intelligence.
There are multiple “ahas” in this book, and I am not at all reluctant to say that I learn from Ralph Peters with each and every book he offers up. I completely agree that the “elites” are out of touch with reality, with the public interest, and with the nuts and bolts of “doing” foreign policy, national security, and homeland development.
The author offers up several lists with explicatory text, I provide the lists in my full review at PBI-PIB.
Here I will link only to the still relevant earlier-era books of Chuck Spinney,Jim Fallows, and Tim Weiner and to my own new book, my personal game plan for the future of global intelligence, a game plan that will not only level the intelligence playing field, but will empower the public over the politicians.
Detailed review with quotes and links below
|00 xiii Quote||Those who deny history die of myth.|
|014 Quote||…the army that knows what it is doing will always defeat the army without a clue.|
|049 Quote||When it comes to destructive rivalries and military incompetence, the Middle East and the West have changed places.|
|063 Quote||If you are unwilling to kill religious zealots or passionate ethnic zealots, you will lose. But that’s not what we think—we Americans want the world to love us. Well, unfortunately, you have to deal with reality at some point.|
|064 Quote||These are knife fights to the bone with uncompromising enemies. And we’re worried about our table manners.|
|065 Quote||We are now beyond bargaining.|
|067 Quote||Tribes are back.|
|071 Quote||Technology doesn’t solve problems of the human heart and soul.|
|078 Quote||Until we are willing to confront the mentality—the soul—of our enemies honestly, we can’t and won’t defeat them.|
|086 Quote||The military can’t look to the academic world for answers—the campus is out of touch with reality as an Al Qa’eda cabal in a cave fantasizing about the revival of the caliphate. Academics will defend their obsolete theses to the last infantryman on the streets of Baghdad.|
|090 Quote||Twenty-first century religions will be caught between the saint and the suicide bomber. The nemesis of every faith will be those who can’t tell the difference.|
|111 Quote||The problems with our immigration “debate” is that it isn’t a debate, but a shouting match among the deaf.|
|129 Quote||The borders Europe left behind are prisons. How long will we be the guards on the walls?|
|159 Quote (2)||At present, intellectual posturing trumps practical intelligence.
If we want our generals and admirals to continue to lose wars while fearing to tell the president the truth, but all means continue with the present system.
|215 Quote||There’s currently no evidence of serious strategists at work in Washington.|
|257 Quote||When the United States is forced to go to war—or decides to go to war—it must intend to win. That means that rather than setting civilian apparatchiks to calculate minimum force levels, we need to bring every possible resource to bear from the outset—an approach that saves blood and treasure in the long run. And we must stop obsessing about our minor sins. Warfare will never be clean, soldiers will always make mistakes, and rounds will always go astray, despite our conscientious safeguards and best intentions. Instead of agonizing over a fatal mistake made by a young Marine at a roadblock, we must return to the fundamental recognition that the greatest “war crime” the United States can commit is to lose.|
|261 Quote||The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters. If you cannot win clean, win dirty. But win. Our victories are ultimately in humanity’s best interests, while our failures nourish monsters.|
|262 Quote||Of all the enemies we face today and may face tomorrow, the most dangerous is our own wishful thinking.|
|263 Quote||Afghanistan is the strategic booby prize.|
|A Solutions||Military retirees should be used as advisors|
|Academics||Condemns military love affair with academics [I do not, I just condemn the idiocy of the social sciences and the ignorance of the military—once fixed, a tight relationship is essential, with courage imbued in academics and intellectual rigor imbued in military personnel]|
|Analysis||West focuses on individual leaders rather than mass movements, has it backwards|
|Analysis||To understand humanity, analysts must substitute the concept of EMOTIONAL self-interest instead of the non-functional and inapplicable “rational” self-interest.|
|Colonialism||Unrealized consequences: using pig fat for bullets became known to Muslims|
|Corruption||Elites sacrifice capability for vanity|
|Corruption||Betrayals of surrender terms by victor inevitably exact a cost later in time|
|Corruption||Washington is not a thinking town nor an innovation town|
|Corruption||Elites across functions share the same educational mold [isolated from reality]
Link to American Ruling Class DVD
|Corruption||Religious monopolies of any kind are bad and fall prey to corruption|
|Corruption||Ethnic and financial corruptions have undermined the West as a whole|
|Corruption||Author focuses on strategic geo-politics, does not address role of corporations in subverting nations, classes, and all manner of human elements|
|Corruption||Must end the contractor theft of key personnel once trained and cleared|
|Corruption||Elite has lost touch with both human passion and with ground truth. [This includes the senior executives that confuse loyalty to the chain of command with integrity in defending the Constitution against all enemies, domestic and foreign.]|
|Definitions||Ethnic cleansing moves them—forces emigration—genocide kills them all; must understand this and other differences|
|Definitions||Revolution seeking to change political and economic injustices is the opposite in both nature and value to religious or ideological counter-revolution seeking to over-throw progress and “restore” a Golden Era of the past|
|Foreign Language||US officers are crippled by their lack of foreign language competencies|
|History||Lost history—history links|
|Human Terrain||Term first devised by the author [long-standing personal dialog]|
|Humanity||Group dynamics overwhelm and define individual sub-dynamics|
|Humanity||Jihaddism is a “mass” phenomenon, fully capable of a holocaust|
|Humanity||We (West) are blind to the human side Link to Voltaire’s Bastards|
|Humanity||Conflict of faith visions, not of rationalist ideas|
|Humanity||Religious war in authors view are between god of war and god of love|
|Humanity||Ethnicity & faith are the default identity, not nationalism|
|Humanity||Religion and ideology are dogma, anti-thetical, versus active values|
|Humanity||War is the PRIMARY means of adjusting differences among human groups.|
|Humanity||The heart, not the mind, does the killing. [I consider this a spectacular insight.]|
|Islam||New Delhi, India was the Muslim capital until 1857|
|Islam||Wahabism strong in India|
|Islam||Christians and Jews who left Islam behind geographically evolved and adapted|
|Israel||Author is a devout supporter of Israel, while being a sharp critic of its errors|
|Israel||Author is strategically brilliant on Israel but we disconnect on Gaza and Lebanon: he complains of the half-fought war, I focus on the never-done peace|
|Leadership||Putin of Russia totally outclasses US leaders by far, most others quite easily|
|Lessons p. 27-28||The Military Lessons of Defeat
01 Unity of command and unanimity of purpose are the keys to victory.
02 Discipline is more important than numbers—or even technology.
03 Valor is no substitute for organization.
04 Fanaticism provides motivation, but attention to detail wins campaigns.
05 Knowledge of, and respect for, your enemy, is essential.
|Military, US||Strongest possible condemnation of US military “educational” system|
|Military, US||Military doctrine is actively DISHONEST|
|Military, US||Consistent hits on lack of integrity and abject embedded dishonesty|
|Military, US||Army gutting artillery, “queen” of the battlefield because it is ALL-WEATHER|
|Military, US||Air Force has over-sold its capabilities and cannot do non-permissive anything|
|Myths, 12 p. 218+||01 War doesn’t change anything.
02 Victory is impossible today.
03 Insurgencies can never be defeated.
04 There’s no military solutions; only negotiations can solve our problems.
05 When we fight back, we only provoke our enemies.
06 Killing terrorists only turns them into martyrs.
07 If we fought as fiercely as our enemies, we’re no better than them.
08 The United States is more hated today than ever before.
|Reasons p. 250|
|Strategy||Political tacticians do not grasp [nor care to grasp] strategy|
|Strategy||Divisive [and dishonest] politics is strategic weakness for a nation|
|Strategy||Unity of command and unity of purpose have a proven value over centuries|
|Strategy||Political squabbling across the West prevents harmonization of policies|
|Strategy||West and especially US general officers new to thinking strategically and fallen prey to new dogmas, have it backwards in saying that military is 20% of the solution and Whole of Government stabilization & reconstructions is 80%. Actually, citing Mao, military is 80% of the stabilization, and the civilians bring up the rear with the 20% in low-cost substantive assistance made possible only by victory of the armed forces. AT ROOT this misunderstanding is the symptom of a complete loss of moral and intellectual integrity.|
|Terrorism||“Terrorism is an annoyance, not an existential threat.”|
|Threat||Iran has REGIONAL ambitions while the Sunnis have GLOBAL ambitions—this make the Sunnis a vastly more threatening enterprise than Iran alone—neither the academics and so-called intelligence professionals get it, and neither does the ruling class|
|Threat||Nuclear conflict in Eurasia is growing higher in possibility|
|Threat||Cannot ignore migration and immigration as a strategic & tactical threat|
|Threat||Author places Syria is the “bad” threat category and is dispositionally unable to see that the USA and the 42 or so dictators that its supports are vastly more detrimental to the possibilities of creating a prosperous world at peace—Syria is a bad neighborhood, USA and corrupt pals are unclean air on a global basis LINK to Axis of Evil, 50 year wound, web of deceit|
|Threat||Talibans are “aliens” to be avoided, exterminated, or—in their element—feared. They represent a different culture, different values, and do not “come in peace” in as much as we are on their home ground, not the other way around.|
|Threat||STOP protecting Pakistan from India! Get out of Afghanistan. Focus!|
|Threat Broadens||Jihadism, terrorism [and ad hoc local-transnational] crime integrating as desired|
|Time Perspective||1,000 years is a more valuable and instructive time frame than 100 years|
|Time Perspective||Age of ideology and nationalism is over, returning to the [timeless] age of wars of religion and ethnicity Link to Faith Wars]|
|Turkey||“Sick man of Europe” [long considered part of Europe as well as Ottoman]|
|War Art of||Taliban and others know how to wage nomadic war [no logistics issues]|
|War Art of||Off-the-shelf technology is now the defining enabler of asymmetric challengers|
|War Art of||Muslim combatants adapt, West does not adapt. Links to Poole|
|War Art of||To date war is the primary means of adjusting differences among human groups. I observe that this is because our leaders have consistently been corrupt and failed to practice statecraft and soulcraft and evolve toward non-zero conscious evolution and integral consciousness LINKS|