Review: Violent Politics — A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Guerrilla War, from the American Revolution to Iraq

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Atrocities & Genocide, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Country/Regional, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Force Structure (Military), History, Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Public), Iraq, Justice (Failure, Reform), Military & Pentagon Power, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Stabilization & Reconstruction, Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
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William R. Polk

5.0 out of 5 stars Chuck Spinney Raves About This Book…., June 12, 2011
By Robert D. Steele (Oakton, VA United States) – See all my reviews

Chuck Spinney, along with Pierre Sprey and Winslow Wheeler and a few others, one of the top twelve brains with integrity on US defense fraud, waste, and abuse, raves about this book, calling it “one of the very best books of the subject of guerrilla warfare and insurrection that I have ever read.” For myself, this would normally be a four, but since Chuck is one of my intellectual way points, I won't argue and go with five. I can see what Chuck likes so much about the conclusion–it is a summary of the “true cost” of a government that lacks both intelligence and integrity, and strives to perpetuate global war as a matter of momentum. The author does an excellent job of including in the “total cost” the mental and physical disability toll, the social toll, the foreign “collateral damage” toll, and of course the financial toll including all the borrowing that has been done “in our name” but not in our interest.

This could be “the one books to read” if you don't have time to delve deeply, as I and others have, into rebellion and insurgency. It is not, however, the be all and end all, more like a Cliff's Notes. I agree with the author, self-determination and morality at home generally trump invasion, occupation, and repression, but I have to say, not always–witness the Native Americans genocides by the Europeans, the Palestinians displaced from their own homeland, and a few others.

Certainly I share the author's slamming of the so-called “new” counterinsurgency doctrine that propelled General Petraues to new heights of personal incompetence. The US lacks the cultural intelligence about the rest of the world, and the integrity within itself, to actually be a force for good.

Here are ten other books that both support the author's basic thesis (first five) and that add deeply to our understanding of why the US Government is so terribly inept at dealing with reality.

A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
The Power of the Powerless (Routledge Revivals): Citizens Against the State in Central-eastern Europe
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
Gangs, Pseudo-Militaries, and Other Modern Mercenaries: New Dynamics in Uncomfortable Wars (International and Security Affairs Series, Vol. 6)
Uncomfortable Wars Revisited (International and Security Affairs)
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America's Most Decorated Soldier
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America

One last comment: a major insurgency is brewing in the United States of America. The day may yet come when it breaks up into “Nine Nations” or multiple states secede, as Vermont, New Hampshire, Texas, Alaska, and perhaps Oregon and Washington are seriously considering. The Constitution has been trashed since 2000, and both parties are responsible, having sold their souls to Wall Street. At Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog I have a Graphic on preconditions of revolution (my first graduate thesis) that exist today in the USA–this book is relevant to understanding all countries, including the USA. Washington is NOT in friendly hands, and the rest of the country is starting to figure that out. There is a “Harvest of Rage” brewing west and south of the Mason-Dixon line, and while I totally believe in non-violence, I believe we will see more “Tyrannicide” in the near and mid-terms.

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