5 Stars – Utterly brilliant insights and data, but publisher should have invested in graphics to match
Parag Khanna is for me the single best observer and reporter on the substance of Asia which he takes great pains to point out is not just China (a third of Asia’s population) but includes particularly vast swaths of Russia, India, Central Asia, Southeast Asia including Indonesia and Australia, and Turkey.
Compelling, Insightful, Useful – Glosses Over Some Fundamentals
This book excels at offering a compelling overview of the severe deficiencies in US national security strategy, policy, and operations – it is one of the strongest indictments I have seen of our total inability to wage peace instead of war. Among the many high points covered by the author and included in my extensive notes:
01 USA has no Grand Strategy and no process for creating and executing a Grand Strategy. Deep in the book the author observes that not only is Grand Strategy the only means of fully employing all sources of national power, but it is also how one anticipates and avoids unintended consequences.
02 The elements of the US Government (USG) nominally responsible for waging peace – the Departments of State and Commerce, the US Agency of International Development (USAID), the US Information Agency (abolished in 1999) are under-trained, unsynchronized entities unable to deter conflict or build a lasting peace.
Needs to be translated into English, Russia, and French as soon as possible. He details a 1949 agreement that subordinates Germany as a vassal state to the USA and blindly loyal to any NATO initiative however insane. The agreement supposedly runs for another 90 years. The book needs to be translated into English, Russian, and French as soon as possible. It could and should lead to the fall of the German government, the cancellation of the agrement, the expulsion of all US forces and headquarters from Germany, and the de-Americanicanization if not the complete eradication of NATO. Even if the agreement does not exist — I am inclined to belief the author, that some such agreement does exist — Germany has been acting as an extension of the USA, and the book is a foundation for a national conversation in Germany that could end that state of abject subordination and contributory financial, political, and social crimes against the German people as well as other publics.
5.0 out of 5 starsAddresses a Major Vacuum in Our Approach to Any Challenge, 16 Dec 2014
This is a hugely important book that I hope will become popular in the USA, and translated into other languages. I learned of its existence while attending a Findhorn Foundation event in Scotland, “The New Story Summit.” At one point there was a discussion of how United Nations “peacekeepers” are sent in to keep the peace but do so at the point of a gun, without any training in human interaction or the fundamentals of story-telling, narrative weaving, listening, observing, and all the other human “arts.” This one story impressed me greatly.
Having now read the book, I want to emphasize my enchantment by confessing that I am a Naked Truth kind of person, the diametric opposite of the Story Teller. As with UN peacekeepers, I have been badly trained, equipped, and organized for a world in which conversation and story-telling are alternatives to confrontation and violence.
Although the author and the book focus on the role of story-telling in relation to peace-making, I would emphasize its value in creating common prosperity at well — in creating the means of self-governance with respect for the limits of nature and the importance of doing no harm.
5.0 out of 5 starsExtraordinary — Empowering, World-Changing, Rich in Substance, December 6, 2014
This book was recommended to me by Michael Ostrolenk, whom I consider one of the most inspiring transpartisan figures in America today, and endorsed by Elisabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist and “Yoda” to many of us. Given those two recommendations, my own review is pro forma, summary notes for smart people.
This is a most extraordinary book that I found deeply absorbing, inspiring, and practical. It is an original work in every possible sense of the word, and brings to the public insights, concepts, and methods that are essential to creating peace and prosperity among vastly diverse groups whose cultures, mind-sets, life conditions, and existing forms of governance and economics are not just in conflict, but downright pathologically dysfunctional.
Within this rich offering are a few things that are simply not found elsewhere, that could and should redefine and mature Western and Eastern understanding and practice:
5.0 out of 5 starsMajor Contribution Leaving a Great Deal More to Be Discussed, March 4, 2014
Diplomacy is a third-rate practice at this time, largely because the governments representated by diplomats lack intelligence with integrity and are also not held accountable for making grand mistakes with consequencies measured in trillions over time. The diplomats are messengers, nothing more. Indeed, I question the author’s assumption that diplomacy has ever been carried out with methodical deliberation — rather I believe that great power “diplomacy” has been imperial in nature, and is best represented today by Henry Kissinger and his immortal quotes:
Henry Kissinger: Military men are `dumb, stupid animals to be used’ as pawns for foreign policy.
Henry Kissinger: “The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
What is most interesting about this book is its recognition that social media makes possible real-time intelligence (thinking, understanding, decision-support) and that social media now also makes possible real-time counterintelligence — the rapid detection of lies by the mandarins and their media submissives.
The bestselling author of Overthrow offers a new and surprising vision for rebuilding America’s strategic partnerships in the Middle East
What can the United States do to help realize its dream of a peaceful, democratic Middle East? Stephen Kinzer offers a surprising answer in this paradigm-shifting book. Two countries in the region, he argues, are America’s logical partners in the twenty-first century: Turkey and Iran.
Besides proposing this new “power triangle,” Kinzer also recommends that the United States reshape relations with its two traditional Middle East allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. This book provides a penetrating, timely critique of America’s approach to the world’s most volatile region, and offers a startling alternative.
Kinzer is a master storyteller with an eye for grand characters and illuminating historical detail. In this book he introduces us to larger-than-life figures, like a Nebraska schoolteacher who became a martyr to democracy in Iran, a Turkish radical who transformed his country and Islam forever, and a colorful parade of princes, politicians, women of the world, spies, oppressors, liberators, and dreamers.
Kinzer’s provocative new view of the Middle East is the rare book that will richly entertain while moving a vital policy debate beyond the stale alternatives of the last fifty years.
The twenty-first century has seen a rise in the global middle class that brings an unprecedented convergence of interests and perceptions, cultures and values. Kishore Mahbubani is optimistic. We are creating a new global civilization. Eighty-eight percent of the world’s population outside the West is rising to Western living standards, and sharing Western aspirations. Yet Mahbubani, one of the most perceptive global commentators, also warns that a new global order needs new policies and attitudes.
Policymakers all over the world must change their preconceptions and accept that we live in one world. National interests must be balanced with global interests. Power must be shared. The U.S. and Europe must cede some power. China and India, Africa and the Islamic world must be integrated. Mahbubani urges that only through these actions can we create a world that converges benignly. This timely book explains how to move forward and confront many pressing global challenges.
Political genius is never without controversy, or without mystery. This is what makes it so interesting and so rare. Is Lee Kuan Yew the feral, authoritarian figure that Western critics claim? Or a stoic pioneer in new approaches to developing a nation—uncorrupt, modern, almost scientific?American journalist Tom Plate first interviewed the founder of modern Singapore in 1996 in a continuing back-and-forth with LKY that led to the summer of 2009, when the former prime minister agreed to sit down for two days of unprecedentedly informal but intense conversations that led to this special book. This new edition includes fascinating excerpts from prior interviews, as well as the author’s assessment of the man who goes down in history as the world’s longest-serving prime minister—and as one of the most unforgettable political figures of modern times.
Less than a decade after Washington endorsed a fraudulent case for invading Iraq, similarly misinformed and politically motivated claims are pushing America toward war with Iran. Challenging the daily clamor of U.S. saber rattling, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett argue that America should renounce thirty years of failed strategy and engage with Iran—just as Nixon revolutionized U.S. foreign policy by going to Beijing and realigning relations with China.
In Going to Tehran, former analysts in both the Bush and Clinton administrations, the Leveretts offer a uniquely informed account of Iran as it actually is today, not as many have caricatured it or wished it to be. They show that Iran’s political order is not on the verge of collapse, that most Iranians still support the Islamic Republic, and that Iran’s regional influence makes it critical to progress in the Middle East. Drawing on years of research and access to high-level officials, the Leveretts’ indispensable work makes it clear that America must “go to Tehran” if it is to avert strategic catastrophe.
5.0 out of 5 starsDoes for Iran What Truth Dig Did for Iraq, January 29, 2014
I *strongly* recommend this book to every citizen concerned about a government that lies all the time. The NSA debacle of recent time, on top of the CIA debacles (rendition, torture, assassination by drone) on top of the various other White House led debacles are all deeply disturbing.
I have a copy of the book on the way and will provide my usual detailed review as soon as it arrives. In the meantime, here is a snippet from a really superb review by Peter Jenikins at Lobelog:
Porter concludes: “US and Israeli policies have been driven by political and bureaucratic interests, not by a rational, objective assessment of available indicators of the motives and intentions of Iranian leaders”.
Another central theme, one that complements the hidden motive theme, is that intelligence material and intelligence assessments have played a baleful part in this saga.