Speaking Truth to Power — Senator McCain Agrees, the Flag Officers Do Not
Margin of Victory is a hugely important book that should be required reading in all of the war colleges, as well as all national security programs in political science and international relations courses across the country.
In sailboat racing the race is often won or lost before the boat ever hits the water. If the hull is not perfectly formed; perfectly painted; and perfectly clean before it gears up, then the boat starts with an automatic embedded penalty factor – it goes slower. What the author has done with this book is demonstrate that wars are won or lost 10-20 years before they are fought, based on whether the nation-state devises an effective grand strategy and properly develops a balanced approach to organization, technology and human capital, with human capital being most important.
The People’s Army – the Continental Army rooted in home-spun militias – was formed and fought and won a war before the U.S. Constitution was written and signed in 1787. The Constitution – and the Republic – exist because the People’s Army, the Continental Army led by George Washington – leveraged the twin advantages of a righteous cause and home court to eject what was then the greatest imperial power on the planet. Of the 55 men attending the Constitutional Convention, at least 29 served in the Continental Army, most of them in positions of command. Understanding the relationship between the people from whom the early militias were drawn, the Army, and the Constitution, is essential to evaluating where we fall short today.
4.0 out of 5 starsSUPERB Conclusion–Has Flaws But Still a Strong Contribution, February 25, 2015
Wow. I have met the author and I gave an earlier book of his, Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power a strong review, but I was not expecting the deep common sense and pragmatic observations that conclude this book. There are many aspects of our insecurity that the author is not willing to address — notably the deep corruption of our political system and undue influence by foreign “allies” that are in fact enemies but that pales in light of his deep evaluation of how badly we are doing as a government. There are many flaws in the author's arguments better covered by Reviewer Frank J. Wassermann, I put this down to the author trying too hard to not completely alienate all the mandarins he still meets for lunch and at evening events. I embrace most of Reviewer Wasserman's comments but still give the book four stars instead of his two.
4.0 out of 5 starsWorld Class on One Half of the Challenge, Misses the Other Half Entirely, February 25, 2015
If Mort Halperin, who wrote the original book with the memorable “Rule 1” (Lie to the President if you can get away with it), Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy is kind enough to praise this book, I will over-look the hype (it is NOT the “first”). This is an important book and very helpful to a deep study of the deep state, but it is also severely deficient to the point of mis-leading the public away from the 42 billionaires that own the government; away from the religious and ideologicial treason that skews government policy; and away from the lack of intelligence with integrity that we have a right to expect from our “intelligence” community. It also soft shoes the elite pedophile protective network within the FBI, and the drug-running money-laundering side show at CIA as well as the totally out of control Pentagon elements willing to murder US citizens including military officers to keep their boat afloat — the deep deep state. [I revere the FBI, CIA, and DoD as institutions — my point is that we don't do serious counterintelligence in the USA, all of those organizations have layers of corruption going back to their founders, each layer recruiting and promoting its successors, all far outside the ken of this book.]
5.0 out of 5 starsOur Best Thinking to Date — We Can Go Much Further, December 24, 2014
This is the pre-cursor book to The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO which I have reviewed most favorably and strongly recommend. This book — while free online as are all NDU Press books, is a very high quality production with some complex graphics and color photographs. It is fairly priced and absolutely recommended in print if you favor books you can hold in your hands.
There have been other books by military commanders but to the best of my knowledge only General Tony Zinni, USMC (then commanding the US Central Command with two wars and 12 task forces) and General Wesley Clark, USA (then commanding NATO during the Kosovo mess) have risen to what this book strives to be, a gold standard for whole of government multinational engagement.
When New York Times report James Risen published his previous book, State of War, the Times ended its delay of over a year and published his article on warrantless spying rather than be scooped by the book. The Times claimed it hadn't wanted to influence the 2004 presidential election by informing the public of what the President was doing. But this week a Times editor said on 60 Minutes that the White House had warned him that a terrorist attack on the United States would be blamed on the Times if one followed publication — so it may be that the Times' claim of contempt for democracy was a cover story for fear and patriotism. The Times never did report various other important stories in Risen's book.
Many observers recognize that the U.S. Government has for decades placed too much emphasis on military might to the detriment of other interests. This book provides a sobering explanation of how such a skewed approach emerged. Stuart is an historian at Dickinson College and also adjunct professor at the U.S. Army War College. He shows how the 150-year tradition of peacetime pursuit of national interests headed by the State Department gave way to the “Pearl Harbor System” of viewing the world through the perspective of potential threats to national security.