Review: New Glory–Expanding America’s Global Supremacy (Hardcover)

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Consciousness & Social IQ, Diplomacy, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Future

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5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating on Middle East and Europe, Uncritical of US,

August 24, 2005
Ralph Peters
Ralph Peters is more compelling than Tom Friedman, goes deeper than Robert Kaplan, runs the numbers as well as Clyde Prestowitz, and runs as many risks as Robert Young Pelton. All of these men are among the best and the brightest of our generation. Ralph Peters is first among these equals.

New Glory is most devastating in its professional appreciation of the crash of Islamic civilization and the hollowness of Europe, with Germany and France coming in for special scorn. While Peters is acutely sensitive to the mistakes that France and Germany have made with immigration–allowing millions to immigrate without enfranchising them or assuring their loyalty as citizens–he tends to overlook the same faults in the US and the UK, and this is my only criticism: patriot that he is, he tends to downplay US errors and misbehavior. Having said that, I would also say there is no finer observer of reality outside the US than Ralph Peters.

Like his earlier book, Beyond Terror, Peters again excels with gifted turns of phrase that sound like pure poetry. Peters is not just a grand strategist equal to the likes of Scowcroft or Brzezinski (while less diplomatic than they), he is a gifted orator and his book reads as if one were in the Greek Senate listening to Socrates hold forth.

Especially strong in this book is the author’s focus on Africa and Latin America as area rich with potential that the Americans are ignoring. Instead of obsessing on assassinating Chavez, as moronic an idea as there ever was, we should be focusing on how to include Africa and Latin America in our free trade zone, along with India and Japan.

Peters jumps into the intellectual stratosphere when he takes on the issue of bad borders, the cancerous heritage of colonialism. I would recommend that the book by Philip Allott, “Health of Nations,” and also the book by Jed Babbin, “Inside the Asylum” (on the UN) be read along with this book. I would add Mark Palmer’s book on “The Real Axis of Evil” as well, about the 44 dictators we support. Taken together, perhaps adding Joe Nye’s book on “Understanding International Conflicts” to have a really fine grasp of current challenges.

Peters, author of a novel about treasonous defense contractors, comes out in the open with his sharp criticism of the military-industrial complex, pointing out that they are among the worst enemies of our national defense. Their corruption, legalized by a Congress all too eager to take its standard 2.5% to 5% “cut” on delivered pork, diverts tens of billions of dollars from education, infrastructure, border control, public health, and other sources of national power. When added to light-weight decision-making at the very top, where we go to war and waste thousands of lives and over $187 billion dollars on a war that was both unnecessary and pathologically in favor of Iranian ambitions against Iraq, one can quickly see that General Eisenhower and General Smedley Butler (“war is a Racket”) were both correct–we are our own worst enemy. Peters concludes his real-world damnation of contractors by summing up the many problems that occurred in Iraq when contractors failed to deliver to US troops the ammunition, food, and water, as they were contracted to do. I myself heard of units that lost 30 to 40 pounds per man after months on a diet of water and *one* Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) per day.

Peters draws his book to a close with compelling thoughts down two distinct lines. First, he clearly favors a policy of carefully identifying and then killing those who will not heed any other means of peaceful coexistence. As with the author of “Civilization and It’s Enemies,” he reminds us that liberty comes at the price of regular shedding of blood. It is not free.

Peters’ second line is the most interesting to me. He is scathingly on target when he labels US intelligence professionals to be uniformly timid and bureaucratic in nature, part of the problem, not part of the solution. He goes on to dissect how we fail to listen to foreign cultures, and fail to understand what is in the minds of the very people we are trying to reach. Finally, he concludes that education, not guns, are the heart of power. Consistent with the findings of the Defense Science Board in their reports on “Strategic Communication” (July 2004) and “Transition to and From Hostilities” (December 2004), Peters recognizes that open source information in all languages must be gathered, read, understood, analyzed, and acted upon, before we can possible communicate any message to anyone. He would agree with those who say “forget about the message, deliver the tools for truth–the Internet, education, translation software, information sharing devices–and get out of the way: the people will educate themselves, and in educating themselves, will be inoculated against terrorism.”

In passing, Peters points out that the US Navy and US Air Force have largely fallen into irrelevance because of their obsession with big expensive systems that are useless most of the time, and he notes that a larger Army, and a sustained Marine Corps, remain the true core of American national power.

This book is a “tour d’force” to use a term of phrase in a language Peters churlishly suggests is used only by waiters and dictators. I myself find much that is good in France and Germany and the UK, but overall, I agree with Peters when he says that Europe is a failing civilization, following Islam into chaos, and that Africa, Latin America, and South Asia (Indian Ocean) are the future. Interestingly, Peters sees no conflict with China brewing–they are too dependent on US consumption.

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Review: 1776

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant, Deep Detail on the Year and the First Battles,

July 4, 2005
David McCullough
Somewhere between Honors American History in high school and a solid political science degree, I never really understood the historical importance of the crossing of the Delaware and the first battles in 1776. Today, as a 53-year old, I finally do, thanks to this brilliant author.

This is a moving book with exactly the right amount of white space, easy to read, yet deeply detailed about key personalities and key battles. For the first time, I understand with awe the degree to which tens of thousands of mixed Americans were able to mobilize, fight, move cannons weighing over a ton along hundreds of miles, construct earthworks (British General Howe on the works at Dorchester Heights: “these fellows have done more work in one night than I could make my army do in three months.”), survive disease, drink a bottle of rum per day per man, and on balance, make the miracle of the Republic.

The author tells the story with a light hand, and among the points I found especially noteworthy were his comparison of the speed with which good ideas from the ranks made their way to General Washington, unencumbered by the bureaucracy of the British military; and Washington’s appreciation for intelligence and Washington’s constant focus on the mind of his counterpart and what that counterpart might be thinking.

It also merits comment that the original revolution sought only to be afforded the rights due an Englishman, not Independence, and it was the heavy-handed actions of King George that led the original American leaders to take the final step of full treason (which, if you win, is not treason, but cause for celebration).

The acknowledgements and the notes are themselves worthy of careful study, for the author appears to have meticulously combed through every possible archive, and hence, he not only provides a walk through a year of American history–*the* year–but also a record of where the pages of that history are archived and honored around the world.

I started this book yesterday afternoon and finished it this afternoon, at 1600 on the 4th of July 2005. There is no finer manner in which I could have spent the eve and the day on which we celebrate the ideals that led to Independence. I only pray that we cast off the immoral capitalism and support for 44 dictators around the world–many of them practicing genocide–and return to the ideals of these great early Patriots.

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Review: New World New Mind–Moving Toward Conscious Evolution

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Best Practices in Management, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Democracy, Education (General), Education (Universities), Environment (Solutions), Future, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Public), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Philosophy, Priorities, Survival & Sustainment, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean), Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity

5.0 out of 5 stars From 1989, Not Updated, Superb Never-the-Less

April 28, 2005

Robert E. Ornstein, Paul Ehrlich

EDIT 20 Dec 07 to add links.

This superb book was published in 1989 and is being reissued, and I am very glad it has come out again. I bought it because it was recommended by Tom Atlee, seer of the Co-Intelligence Institute, and I found it very worthwhile.

As I reflect on the book, I appreciate two key points from the book:

1) The evolution of our brains and our ability to sense cataclysmic change that takes place over long periods of time is simply not going fast enough–the only thing that can make a difference is accelerated cultural evolution, which I find quite fascinating, because cultural evolution as the authors describe it harkens to noosphere, World Brain, co-intelligence, and what the Swedes are calling M4 IS: multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information sharing–what I think of as Open Source Intelligence–personal, public, & political.

2) One of the more compelling points the authors make is that not only are politicians being elected and rewarded on the basis of short-term decisions that are by many measures intellectually, morally, and financially corrupt, but the so-called knowledge workers–the scientists, engineers, and others who should be “blowing the whistle,” are so specialized that there is a real lack of integrative knowledge. I realized toward the end of the book, page 248 exactly, that Knowledge Integration & Information Sharing must become the new norm.

This is a tremendous book that is loaded with gems of insight. I have it heavily marked up. Although it integrates and reminds me of ideas ably explored in other books, such as Health of Nations, Cultural Creatives, Clock of the Long Now, ATTENTION, Limits to Growth, and Forbidden Knowledge, these two authors have integrated their “brief” in a very readable way–as one person says on the book jacket, they effectively weave together many strands of knowledge.

The annotated bibliography is quite good, and causes me to be disappointed that the publishers did not provide for the updating of the bibliography–the ideas being blended are timeless and need no update.

Two notes toward the end were quite interesting. They speculate that Japan may be the first modern nation to collapse, if it is subject to disruption of the global trade and transportation system. They also have high praise for Global 2000, an integrative work whose predictions for the 2000 period (written in the 1970’s, I believe) are turning out to be quite accurate.

Finally, woven throughout the book, is the simple fact that we are now burning up our savings–consuming the Earth at a much faster rate than it can replenish itself. We are very much out of harmony with our sustaining environment, and at grave risk of self-destruction. Interestingly, they remind of the Durants last word in “The Lessons of History:” that the only revolution, the only sustainable revolution, is that which takes place in the human mind. As these authors would have it, if we do not develop a new collective mind capable of integrating, understanding, and acting sensible, for the long term, on what we can know as a collective mind, then our grandchildren will become prey for the cockroaches of the future.

At a time when the new Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Ambassador Negroponte, is seriously contemplating the establishment of a national Open Source (Information) Agency as recommended by the 9-11 Commission, to get a grip on all the historical and current knowledge, both scientific and social, that we have lost touch with, I can think of just three books I would recommend to the DNI as a foundation for his reflections: this one, Buckman’s “Creating a Knowledge Driven Organization,” and Wheatley’s “Leadership and the New Science.” I would end his tutorial, or perhaps inspire it, by screening Tom Atlee’s video, “From Group Magic to a Wise Democracy.”

Strangely, for I tend to be very gloomy about our prospects these days, I find that this book has cheered me somewhat. I sense the possibility of a break-out through a combination of wise information acquisition and sharing policies, and the application of the new technologies that L-3, CISCO, and IBM, among others, are bringing out, technologies that put intelligence on the edge of the network, and permit the creation of infinitely scalable and shareable synthetic information exactly suited to any need at any level.

There *is* an answer to all that ails us, and these two authors discuss it in a very capable manner.

See also, with reviews:

Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
World brain
Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World
The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest

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