The reader is unlikely to find a book that better contextualizes or sharpens the focus of the moral issues confronting America’s founding generation than this book. Using the metaphor of “empires of necessity,” the author shows how America’s westward expansion made it the advance-guard of the world, beating a path through the wilderness. But America has never acknowledged that it was enslaved peoples who were in fact beating that path called Manifest Destiny: cutting down forests, turning the wilderness into plantations and into marketable real estate, and picking cotton and cutting the sugar cane that drew more and more territory into a thriving atlantic economy. Slavery alone was the issue at the top of the world’s agenda throughout the era of the founding of America. The evils of slavery and the slave trade was the constant refrain of sermons each Sunday from Connecticut to Montevideo; and from Seville to London.
Although I would have liked some illustrations and maps in relation to each section of the book — there is only one map for the entire book — I found the book riveting, and would like to see it become a standard text for multi-disciplinary education across history, political science, sociology, and cultural studies.
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.
Important History Not Understood By Most, November 22, 2013
The historical half is mind-glazing, the more recent chapters highly relevant to understanding the deep ignorance of the US Intelligence Community and the US policy (prostitution) community these past 12 years.
I have given the book four stars in part because it is not designed to illuminate the threat in visualizable terms, and it is not up to date. Now that Saudi Arabia has declared war on the USA and the West generally (joining with Israel in a truly bizarre satanic alliance), and on Iran and the Shi’ite portion of Afghanistan specifically, this book absolutely merits updating and republication, hopefully with some decent maps and graphics and tables this next time around.
Early on in a nut-shell: Wahhabism spread in the 19th century, first throughout the Arabian penninsula and then to the Indian subcontinent including what are now India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Wahabbism is both a fundamentalist ideology that wins over deep converts, and a form of mercenary religion, buying its way into susceptible corners.
The most important point stressed throughout the book is that Wahhabism is outside the mainstream of Muslim society.
The big surprise for me, and one reason I am distressed at how badly we prepare people for service in this area, is the deep history of Wahhabism among the Pashtun. Today Saudi Arabia and to a lesser extent Qatar and the United Arab Republic seem bent on funding a religious war in Central and South Asia, and no one seems to be paying attention to this emergent threat. I would go so far as to say we are now, in this region, where we were in 1988-1989 when the Saudis first began funding the global Islamic outreach program led by Sheikh Binbaz and represented in part by young Bin Laden.
A Few Inconvenient Details about Western History, October 29, 2013
Herbert L. Calhoun
For centuries after the fall of Rome, Western Europe was unaccountably still locked in the dark ages, a period referred to as “dark” for good reasons. Despite the rich intellectual heritage from both Greece and Rome, it is not well known that little of it had seeped into the medieval feudal and violence-torn Western European veins before the thirteenth century. Even less well known is that what little did seep in came by way of the rich history and cultural institutions of the Arab dominated Near East, a region that drunk the intellectual wines of both Greece and Rome nearly a millennium earlier than the West did.
Although Western Europeans were ever ready to fight each other, most of them could not read, write or tell time. There were only a handful of libraries. Neither streets nor people had unique names or numbers. Violence and instability were the order of the day. Even as the Kingdom and the Catholic Church viciously vied for power, Europe was essentially a region being run by “outlaws,” the equivalent of petty warlords that we see today in places like Afghanistan.
REF A — 12 Years of Lessons Learned in Time for 2014, October 13, 2013
This is an extraordinary book that required a great deal of time, not in the reading, but in the reflection. This will be a longer review than usual, even for me, because this book contains all of the insights that the US and the Coalition have refused to embrace for the past twelve years. It is never too late to learn.
The author opens with a well-known quote on the dangers of drawing a line between fighting men and thinking men, lest one end up with the fighting being done by fools and the thinking by cowards. To this I would add another group, the “deciders,” who in the absence of any familiarity with fighting or access to intelligence with integrity, end up making decisions whose true cost in blood, treasure, and spirit crosses the line dividing legitimate actions “in the national interest” from “crimes against humanity.
Positive up front: US under Obama has given more of everything and progress has been made across both military (stronger Afghan army, degraded Taliban) and socio-economic (education, health, media) domains. To that I would add elections. Afghanistan is about to experience the most extraordinary election cycle it has ever been my privilege to observe.
In contrast, the author finds that Pakistan has worsened in every possible manner, in large part because the US has not understood Pakistan, has lacked a strategy (or the intelligence with which to devise a coherent sustainable strategy), and in failing, the US has allowed Pakistan to drag itself down and Afghanistan to be a regional albatross – a cancer on all others.
The author is quite blunt in describing an incoherent even infantile US decision-making environment characterized by “contradictory policies, intense political infighting, and uncertainty.” In being inept, the US opened the way for regional players to manipulate, exploit, and exacerbate.
Chapter 1 on the Bin Laden raid is utter nonsense, this may be the price the author pays to maintain access and avoid being assassinated. See instead The Bin Laden Story 00-90 at Phi Beta Iota.
The author points out that by 2014 the Coalition engagement in Afghanistan will have been longer than WWI and WWII. In my own mind this highlights the fact that the US in particular, but the Western nations in general, have lost their integrity. They are incapable of collecting and analyzing the truth, thinking holistically, evaluating true costs over time, or devising a sustainable strategy that ultimately achieves the desired end-state: peace and prosperity. A churlish skeptic would point out that no, the West has achieved precisely what it wants, public theater at home, a massive transfer of wealth from the individual taxpayer to the military-industrial complex, and personal enrichment of most policymakers, at least in the USA. Either way, the larger publics lose at home and abroad.
Pakistan and Afghanistan matter not only to Central Asia, where other countries such as Uzbekistan are beginning to implode, but to the Middle East and India. At the very end of the book the author ponders how Afghanistan might follow the Turkish example of Islamic/secular regeneration, and I cannot help but wish that 12 years ago the Coalition had had the brain to leave the British home and make Afghanistan a collaborative effort among Muslim nations led by Turkey.
QUOTE (19) “After a decade, NATO has achieved none of its strategic aims – rebuilding the Afghan state, defeating the Taliban, stabilizing the region – so what assurances can it now plausibly give that it will do so by 2014?
The author defines Afghanistan today (2012) as a corrupt and incompetent government, a dysfunctional bureaucracy and inoperable justice system, high on drugs and illiteracy, with a police force that has the highest desertion rate in the world.
The sucking chest wound: no indigenous economy. Bush specifically refused to invest in roads, dams, water, and power. Karzai has been a complete failure [the author gives Karzai credit and cause across the book, outlining the many ways in which the US failed to develop a relationship of trust with him.]
Pakistani military is out of control and the deal breaker. Nothing the US or other can do will overcome an arrogant ignorant Pakistani military continuing to support extremists and their violence within Afghanistan.
QUOTE (22): “If the west is to depart Afghanistan by 2014 and leave behind relatively stable regimes in Kabul and Islamabad, it will need a multidimensional political, diplomatic, economic, and military strategy.”
Answering this challenge is the purpose of the book.
My nine page detailed summary for professionals coping with Afghanistan and not having the time to read this excellent work, is posted at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.
7 Stars, Life Transformational, So Fundamental as to be Priceless, October 10, 2013
When I donated my 2500 volume library to George Mason University (down from 5000 in earlier years), this is one of a tiny handful of books I held back, along with Buckminster Fuller’s Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure.
This edition is the FIRST edition. The reprinted currently in stock version The Lessons of History is more readily available, but if you can get the first edition, it is priceless at multiple levels.
This is the first book that I discuss in my national security lecture on the literature relevant to strategy & force structure. It is a once-in-a-lifetime gem of a book that sums up their much larger ten volume collection which itself is brilliant but time consuming. This is the “executive briefing.”
Geography matters. Inequality is natural. Famine, pestilence, and war are Nature’s way of balancing the population.
Birth control (or not) has *strategic* implications (e.g. see Catholic strategy versus US and Russian neglect of its replenishment among the higher social and economic classes).
History is color-blind. Morality is strength. Worth saying again: morality is strength.
They end with “the only lasting revolution is in the mind of man.” In other words, technology is not a substitute for thinking by humans.
4.0 out of 5 starsI hate electronic books, but worth considering, June 24, 2013
I’ve reviewed the major books on the JFK assassination and list them at the end of this review.
First off, since the table of contents is not in Look Inside the Book, where it should be, here is that bit:
1. The 1960 Campaign and Election
2. Vietnam and the CIA
3. The Conspiracy and the Global Elite
4. Oswald and his Part in the Conspiracy
5. Why Johnson was only a Part of the Conspiracy
6. The Real Reasons
The book asks and tries to answer a few questions about the Kennedy assassination that haven’t been asked often enough even after nearly 50 years.
Questions like, “Why?”, “Who benefited?”, and “Why the major cover-up?”.
“The Invention of the Land of Israel” is the follow up to the fascinating and controversial “The Invention of the Jewish People“. This excellent book serves as a complementary addition to the aforementioned book and fills gaps left behind. Historian and outspoken professor, Shlomo Sand does it again with this enlightening and educational book that reveals the history behind the Land of Israel. This 304-page book is composed of the following five chapters: 1. Making Homelands: Biological Imperative or National Property?, 2. Mytherritory: In the Beginning, God Promised the Land, 3. Toward a Christian Zionism: and Balfour Promised the Land, 4. Zionism Versus Judaism: The Conquest of “Ethnic” Space, and 5. Conclusion: The Sad Tale of the Frog and the Scorpion.
1. A well-researched and well-cited book that takes you into the always fascinating world of Jewish history.
2. As candid and forthright a book as you will find. Professor Sand provides solid and well-cited evidence in support of his arguments.
3. Enlightening and thought-provoking book to say the least.
4. An excellent complement to his best-selling book “The Invention of the Jewish People”.
5. The myth that was the forced uprooting of the “Jewish people.”
6. The book does a wonderful job of explaining how the dissemination of a formative historical mythos occurred. “Never did I accept the idea of the Jews’ historical rights to the Promised Land as self-evident.”
7. Clarifies some of the misunderstood points made in his previous book.
8. Professor Sand takes pride in his historical scholarship and it shows. The quest for primary sources. The author does a good job of letting the readers know what he does have a good handle on and what he doesn’t.
9. Explains what really precipitated the establishment of the State of Israel.
10. The book achieves its goal of tracing the ways in which the “Land of Israel” was invented.
11. The book achieves the main goal of disparaging the official historiography of the Zionist Israeli establishment.
12. The notion of “homeland” in perspective. “It is important to remember that homelands did not produce nationalism, but rather the opposite: homelands emerged from nationalism.” The concept of territorial entity.
5.0 out of 5 stars Please Appreciate the Difference — Much Misunderstanding Here, March 8, 2013
I notice the stark conflict between 30+ 5 star reviews and 30+ 1 star reviews.
I humbly offer a clarifying comment based on my broad reading.
There are two kinds of gays and lesbians that I know of:
The “good” kind are those associated with the normal gay and lesbian liberation movement who strive to make gay and lesbian an open, loving, accepting and accepted way of life that is biologically rooted and culturally stable — not seen as a threat by anyone, appreciated the way one appreciates a genius or an artist or someone with a special gift. To the best of my knowledge, this larger movement does NOT reject God, and just as we separate church and state, we should separate biology and theology.
The “bad” kind are those associated with the Nazi Brown Shirts who wanted to make their form of “manly” gay, including pedophilia and sadism against other men, women, children, and animals, what Mrs. Kay Griggs calls the “existentialists” that arose out of a mix of Nazi and French sadists who believe they are above the law, that murder is a form of precision war, and that only those that accept the macho gay cult should be fully trusted and promoted. The really scary part about this group is that they demand that their condition stay in the closet, unknown to others, and this cult appears to have infected the highest ranks of the US Marine Corps, the US Army, the Joint Special Operations Group, the NATO Gladio special channel rooted in Italy (the Vatican Church and very young Italian orphans have played a very special role in the Naples, Milan, and other Mediterranean all male party houses frequented by these people, and in the NY-NJ-CT crime and cloth circuit with Yale’s Skull and Bones and Princetons Cap and Gown secret societies as the axis of evil in America.
I confess to being annoyed with both books, but more so with this one, for their lack of reference to the two premier substantive critics of US defense fraud, waste, and abuse, Chuck Spinney and Winslow Wheeler, or alternative media (i.e. non-PhD authors that really do their homework). Checking this book’s index I quickly determine that corruption, intelligence, Israel, and treason are not key terms.
The greatest value of this work — and I am quite surprised to not find a single review — is that it documents the reality that defense spending is in no way about defense. It is the largest piece of the legislative pork pie, in the author’s terms, “national politics of choice” of, by, and for the elite, having nothing at all to do with the public interest or public security.
I am quite taken with his three arguments, historical, analytical, and normative.
5.0 out of 5 stars We NEED Deep History to Counter-Act Criminal Insanity Within Our Elite, February 17, 2013
This book could not have come out at a better time, as the neo-conservatives continue to try to inspire confrontation with Iran, using the same methods that Dick Cheney used — in his case 935 now documented lies — to invade Iraq.
I was drawn to this book by Leon Hadar’s review (he is the author of Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East in Reason.com, “Our Man in Iran: How the CIA and MI6 installed the Shad.” I am a former CIA clandestine case officer, and today an arch-critic of expensive ignorant secret sources and methods, while also being a champion for open source everything and multinational information-sharing and sense-making — the anti-thesis of all that CIA represents.
Please do look up the Hadar review online, he writes from a geopolitical perspective. As an intelligence professional myself, and as someone who cares deeply about achieving intelligence with integrity in the public interest, my own comments focus on how vital this book is as a means of exposing information pathologies — below are a few books about such pathologies, all of which are illiminated by this book on UK-US perfidy and CIA “success” that is actually an ignominious denial of history, reality, and morality.
We are at a turning point in modern human history — the Earth will survive us, but if we are to survive and prosper, we must confront the stark reality that with a few exceptions (Iceland, Nordics, BENELUX) all Western governments are corrupt to the bone. In the USA, the two-party tyranny whores itself to Wall Street, and there is no difference between the high crimes and misdemeanors of the Cheney Regime (Bush Senior led the CIA team that assassinated JFK, see for example Dark Legacy, Bush Junior was nothing more than a well-intentioned idiot whose Dad and assorted criminal allies bought him the Presidency (and Al Gore’s playing dead)) and the Obama Regime with its drones and special forces teams doing extrajudicial killings all over the world, and the Department of Justice making torture and rendition and execution of US citizens “OK” while telling the Court they have a right to lie to the Court in case of national security. America gone mad, indeed.
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an Information Operations / Counterintelligence Hidden Gem, December 23, 2012
The cover does this book a dis-service. This is a SERIOUS book that should be used in serious courses of instruction for both Information Operations (IO) and Counterintelligence (CI). The book lacks an index, a terrible mistake on the part of the publisher, but I have to say the notes are world-class and this book earns my intuitive respect quickly.
This book is a bit rough but I put it at a solid five stars and even considered six (my top ten percent across 1800+ books) because this book does something extraordinary:
01 It makes the case for UFOs being a terrestial Information Operations (IO) Psychological Operation (PSYOP — never plural).
02 It connects US underground tunnel civilization (a possible explanation for the Pentagon’s missing 2.3 trillion) and advanced technologies including “Nazi physics” versus “Jewish physics”
03 It connects the Rockefeller-Morgan Nazi-philes, Latin America, Switzerland, the Bank of International Settlements, and the drug cartels — in other words, this is also an excellent reading for Counterintelligence (CI).
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Wake Up Call – The Democracy That Never Was….,September 3, 2012
It is a telling sign of the ignorance across the USA and elsewhere that there is no other review of this book, a book that was brought to my attention recently when I made it known that I was beginning to question the US Constitution’s sanctity, having already concluded that the USA is as Matt Taibbi puts it so well in Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, a merger between criminal corrupt complicit government and criminal corrupt financial gangs whose crimes are either legalized or ignored (“control fraud”).
I find it very sad that I had to reach the age of 60 and have several years of unemployment on top of my life experience and multiple graduate degrees before I could ingest the reality that the USA is a democracy but that this does not mean popular self-rule, nor did the Founding Fathers every intend for it to be a direct democracy. The USA is a republic of, by, and for the wealthy, and I consider it quite timely and helpful that this book may be making a comeback in the consciousness of the avant guarde that always sets the stage for a revolution–and I do believe a revolution is coming in the USA.