I have been researching this topic myself for four or five years now and am familiar with almost every other book in this genre, and I can unequivocally say that this is now the definitive work on the world’s financial and banking system, the history of money and power in Western civilization, and the dire prognosis for our economy and our personal freedoms, in general, as a result. It is vastly superior to “The Creature from Jekyll Island”, to compare it to one other fine book on the subject that is now outdated, both in terms of its complete historical coverage, as well as a completely up to date perspective on recent financial history and a deeply insightful analysis of our current debt crisis, why it was let out of control, and who would benefit from its ultimate unwinding. Quite frankly, looking back four to five years from now, this could be the most profound non-fiction work of our times. Robert Hemphill, Credit Manager for the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta, when speaking on the same topic as this book, stated, “It is the most important subject intelligent persons can investigate and reflect upon.” I couldn’t agree more, and even encourage many unintelligent persons to give it a go. The mechanics of money and finance have a profound affect on every person’s life and well being, and is inextricably linked to the fabric of our society and our freedom. Yet it is almost completely ignored and poorly understood by the common man. As Henry Ford said, “It is well that the people of this nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be revolution before tomorrow morning.” It’s time we all started to understand what’s been going on and how it will affect our immediate future.
By no stretch should this book be dismissed as a three. While I might normally have gone with a four, I am settling on five for balance and because the author not only covers an extraordinarily important topic in a sensible measured way, but his endnotes are another book all by themselves–I recommend all readers start there.
The book disconnects grand strategy (global engagement) from domestic prosperity in a manner I find disconcerting, and while the author is most able in documenting the costs to a democracy of lies to the public, I do not see nor feel the deeper reality: lies destroy the Commonwealth. Lies allow a two-party tyranny to sell out to the Arabs (not just the Israelis), to Wall Street–lies permit the mortgage clearinghouse fraud, the derivatives fraud, and the Federal Reserve fraud on the one hand, while also fooling the public into a national security policy that is clinically insane, catastrophically costly, and ultimately a self-inflicted wound that could be fatal. Continue reading “Review: Why Leaders Lie–The Truth About Lying in International Politics”
I like the book and I like the authors and I do NOT like the fact that neither decision-support nor intelligence (decision-support) nor M4IS2* are in this book. Retired Reader’s review–at five stars–is the review I would have written were I to read the book rather than just appreciate it via Look Inside the Book, and he and I have discussed the intellectual and leadership vacuum we all have in cyberspace where most simply have no idea what they are doing.
* Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making (M4IS2)
I must defer to Retired Reader and Bob Gourley on the good of this book, and hence five stars from em as well. However, and with proper regard for the the vastly experienced and well-intentioned authors, it troubles me that they do not include core concepts and context such as were developed by Robert Garigue, who died at the age of 55 before being able to produce his master work. His Preface to my third book, Information Operations: All Information, All Languages, All the Time and a couple of his briefings that I have featured at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, are all that we have to remember his towering genius. As with all my books, all free online.
Here is Robert Garigue’s bottom line: cyber-power–and cyber-security and what some would call today cyber-command (actually an oxymoron) are about TRUTH & TRUST. All this stuff about protecting legacy systems that are 90% rubbish or interdicting and interfering with the 10% of our enemies that have sophisticated system, is out of touch with reality. The Chinese have whipped our butts on both stealth and riding electrical circuits into NSA’s computers and they did it because we pretend that spending money on contractor vapor-ware (SAIC’s Trailblazer comes to mind) is somehow equivalent to being competent at something useful.
This brings me to the bottom line: cyber-power does not exist in a vacuum. It is, like a weapon, an extention of the humans that it serves or empowers. Right now US cyber-power is–to the extent it is even relevant or effective–being managed by gerbils (Madeline Albright’s term, not mine) for utterly unsound and intellectually as well as morally bankrupt ends–and it is not doing a single thing to help infantry squads see over the next hill, survive improvised explosive devices that still cannot be detected (on behalf of the Marine Corps, my #1 requirement for MASINT in 1988 after seeing the wood-encased IED’s in El Salvador in 1979-1980) and on and on.
This English translation of this classic work by Sun Tzu is certainly an excellent one in that in addition to providing the original 13 “Chapters” of the original work it also provides the reader with considerable background that places this work in its proper context. It also provides commentary on specific portions of each chapter by Chinese scholars of Sun Tzu. All in all, the late Samuel B. Griffith has produced one of the more complete and carefully organized versions of, “The Art of War.” Any serious student of this classic work will find Griffith’s work an excellent resource.
The written Chinese language is ideographic not phonetic and consists of thousands of pictographic characters whose meanings often depend on how they are arranged and combined into compounds. Further, Chinese doe not employ Western style punctuation so it takes a good deal of skill and knowledge for a Western to know where to break Chinese texts into sentences and paragraphs. Griffith appears to have done an excellent job in translating the Sun Tzu texts into something understandable by an English reader.
Worth reading for Nathaniel Fick’s introduction alone. And then some….
Dick Couch is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served with the Navy Underwater Demolition and SEAL Teams in Vietnam. He is the author of twelve other books, including The Warrior Elite, Chosen Soldier and SEAL Team One. A resident of Ketchum, ID he is a frequent guest on radio and TV talk shows. He has lectured the Air Force Academy, the Naval Special Warfare Center, the JFK Special Forces Center and School, the FBI Academy, the Naval Postgraduate School, The Joint Special Operations University and The Academy Leadership Forum. Recently he served as adjunct professor of Ethics at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The message of this slim volume is simple: the two strands of a unit’s technical competence and its moral compass are equally critical, with the moral health reflected in the actions and words of our junior leaders possibly more important to combat effectiveness— especially in the insurgent environment, where the war is waged and won at the small unit level and the target is not the insurgent, but the trust and support of the local population.
“A Tactical Ethic: Moral Conduct in the Insurgent Battlespace”, by Dick Couch, is a handbook reminding the men and women who put boots on the ground that actions that seem logical to you, can have a far different effect than anything anticipated. Having served as a Navy SEAL during the Vietnam War and professor of “Moral Reasoning for Military Leaders” at the United States Naval Academy, Couch offers his expert insights to the current and next generation of warriors. Americans need to look no further than the embarrasment caused by bored, misguided soldiers at Abu Graib to understand why a book such as this is needed.
Couch begins the book with a statement of the moral problems currently facing our military. He writes, “If the Vietnam War was the first war in which TV cameras roamed the battlespace, then Iraq and Afghanistan are the first extended stuggles in which digital imaging, text messaging, and cell-phone cameras are commonplace. Today there is far more opportunity for a bad act to be reported.” Couch proposes that the speed and ease of sharing that information will end up losing the fight for the “human terrain” — the support of the local populace, for which the insurgents are also competing.
With a basic understanding of the problem, Couch investigates how America takes the current generation of youth and transforms the insecure teenageers into bold, confident men that serve on the front lines. Feminists may feel slighted that the book does not focus on women, but Couch offers very compeling arguments as to why women are not are not central to the issues addressed earlier. He then looks at ethics training integrated with the basic training of the Army and Marine Corps, neglecting the Air Force because it does not engage in the same type of small-unit combat actions that routinely interact with the local populace. He rounds out his analysis of the warrior ethic training with by examining the (lack of) integration of ethics training with the advanced training of the various Special Forces.
Couch concludes the book by proposing “Battlefield Rules of Engagement (ROE)”, or the keys to moral success. He perfectly summarizes the the common vision of all warriors “All share a universal goal: to prepare appropriately for the fight, conduct themselves in battle with courage and virtue, win the fight, and return with honor.” In this age of pocketcards, I’m sure that the 10 ROEs he proposes will make their way onto the next set issued to the men and women going into harm’s way. They are succinct, understandable, and right on the mark. I highly recommend this book for NCOs and company grade officers — your leadership will set the moral compass for the men and women who serve under you. This is a great book to help you chart the course.
Phi Beta Iota: Advanced Information Operations (IO) must focus heavily on the spectrum of morality, both within blue forces and red forces, and all along the other tribes of intelligence. Will Durant is not alone, when he says in Lessons of History, that morality is a strategic asset of priceless value. The arrogant lose their grip of reality–and morality–before they lose their power.