Review: The Challenge for Africa

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Country/Regional, Culture, Research, Disease & Health, Education (General), Environment (Problems), Environment (Solutions), Humanitarian Assistance, Information Operations, Information Society, Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution

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A Gift–Properly Priced, Presented, and MOST Rewarding,

July 18, 2009
Wangari Maathai
Of the three of four books I have consumed so far for an introduction to Africa’s current condition, this one is by far the best, and if you buy only one, this is the one. The other two, each valuable in its own way, are:
The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working
Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa

Tomorrow I will plow through Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa’s Future and post a review.

The author, a Nobel Peace laureate for the Green Belt Movement, delivers a very straight-forward, practical “woman’s voice” account of both the past troubles, present tribulations, and future potential of Africa. This book is replete with “street-level” common sense as well as a real sense of nobility.

Early on the author addresses the reality that uninformed subsistence farming, what 65% of all Africans do, is destroying the commons. I find that ignorance–and the need to educate and inform in their own local language (no easy task when speaking of thousands of local languages)–is a recurring theme in this book. I see *enormous* potential for the application of what the Swedish military calls M4IS2 (multinational, multiagency, multidisciplinary, multidomain information-sharing and sense-making).

The author provides an ample tour of the horizon of aid, trade, and debt imbalances, of the dangers of culture and confidence of decline, of the need to restore cultural and environmental diversity, and of the need to reprioritize agricultural, education, and environmental services instead of bleeding each country to pay for the military and internal security (and of course corruption).

CORE POINT: The *individual* African is the center of gravity, and only Africans can save Africa–blaming colonialism is *over*. The author’s vision for a revolution in leadership calls for integrity at the top, and activism at the bottom, along with a resurgence of civil society and a demand that governments embrace civil society as a full partner.

CORE POINT: The environment must be central to all development decisions, both for foster preservation and permit exploitation without degradation. Later in the book the author returns to this theme in speaking of the Congo forests, pointing out that only equity for all those who are local will allow all those who are foreign to exploit AND preserve.

I am fascinated by the author’s expected discussion of the ills of colonialism including the Berlin division, the elevation of elites, arbitrary confiscations of lands, and proxy wars, what I was NOT expecting was a profound yet practical discussion of how the church in combination with colonialism was a double-whammy on the collective community culture of Africa.

The author observes that any move away from aid, which has been an enabler of massive corruption at the top, and toward capitalization and bonds [as the author of Dead Aid proposes in part] will be just as likely to lead to corruption absent a regional awakening of integrity.

The author discusses China, observing that China has used its Security Council veto to protect African interests, and the author observes that the West continues to destroy Africa with arms sales, France and Russia especially, followed by China, with the US a low fourth.

I learn that patronage and the need for protection are the other side of corruption as a deep-seated rationalization for keeping power, and I learn that pensions in Africa are so fragile that retirement is fraught with risk, another reason to seek long-term power holding. I am inspired to think of a regional pension fund guaranteed by Brotherly Leader Muuamar Al-Gathafi.

On a hopeful note the author praises the election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as leader of Liberia, and sees real promise in the AU leadership summits that she attends.

CORE IDEA: Leadership training at all levels must keep pace with the changes in technology and the complexity of Africa’s engagements. Civil Society in particular must be understood and embraced by government leaders at all levels.

The author spends time around page 134 discussing her pilot project to create local empowerment, devolving decision-making to create a multi-layered structure that establishes priorities while also providing accountability and transparency, minimizing corruption. Using a trained facilitator, the author brought together around 40 fifteen-person committees to create a strategic plan, and that is now useful as a map regardless of turn-over.

On page 158 the author briefly discusses ECOSOC (Economic, Social, and Cultural Council of the African Union) founded in 2005 to bring the voices of the people into the AU deliberations; to educate the peoples of Africa on all aspects of African affairs; and to encourage civil society throughout Africa.

My reaction: ECOSOCC is a center of gravity and could be the lever needed to create a regional M4IS2 network that substitutes information for violence, capital, time, and space. A harmonization of investments to address regional cell phone access (Nokia ambient energy devices), regional radio stations using solar power; and a regional public information program on the basics of mosquito control and other key public health topics, all call out for action in partnership with ECOSOCC.

Later in the book the author equates misinformation with alcohol and drugs. Ignorance is a recurring theme.

The conclusion of the book is full of deep wisdom on re-imagining community, restoring family by returning the men, stopping the brain drain, and making it easier for remittances to return; of the need to create micro-nation forums within each macro-nation; of the need to create local radio stations in each of the local languages and dialects; of the need to address energy shortfalls while stopping the march of the desert; and finally, of the need to address the pressing twin issues of land ownership and tourism management so as to restore the primacy of African interests.

The book ends on a hugely positive note calling for Africans to reclaim their land; reclaim their culture; and reclaim themselves.

Other books I consider relevant to respecting Africa:
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
Infinite Wealth: A New World of Collaboration and Abundance in the Knowledge Era

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Review: Dead Aid–Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa

4 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Country/Regional, Diplomacy, Disaster Relief, Humanitarian Assistance, Information Operations, Information Society, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Stabilization & Reconstruction
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Goldman Sachs Pitch Dressed in Don’s Robes,

July 18, 2009

Dambisa Moyo

I bought this book cognizant of the negative reviews, and I break with them in giving this book four stars instead of one, two, or three stars.

This book is worth reading, and it makes points that I summarize below that are in my view meritorious.

Continue reading “Review: Dead Aid–Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa”

Review: The Trouble with Africa–Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Atrocities & Genocide, Civil Affairs, Complexity & Catastrophe, Corruption, Country/Regional, Democracy, Diplomacy, Disaster Relief, Economics, Education (General), Environment (Problems), Environment (Solutions), Humanitarian Assistance, Information Operations, Information Society, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Security (Including Immigration), Strategy, Survival & Sustainment, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Truth & Reconciliation, United Nations & NGOs, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity
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Credible, Pointed, Relevant, Useful, Essential,

July 17, 2009
Robert Calderisi
I read in groups in order to avoid being “captured” or overly-swayed by any single point of view. The other books on Africa that I will be reviewing this week-end include:
Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa
The Challenge for Africa
Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Africa’s FutureUp front the author stresses that since 1975 Africa has been in a downward spiral, ultimately losing HALF of its foreign market for African goods and services, a $70 billion a year plus loss that no amount of foreign aid can supplant.

The corruption of the leaders and the complacency of the West in accepting that corruption is a recurring theme. If the USA does not stop supporting dictators and embracing corruption as part of the “status quo” then no amount of good will or aid will suffice.

Continue reading “Review: The Trouble with Africa–Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working”

Review: First Do No Harm–Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Humanitarian Assistance

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Superb Re-Discovery of Core Knowledge, Presents New Insights,

July 4, 2009

David N. Gibbs

At the age of 56, having been educated in the 1970’s when political science created “comparative studies” as a ruse for avoiding field world and foreign language mastery in favor of statistical comparisons from afar, I am now quite accustomed to seeing each generation rediscover core knowledge.

Even more distressing for one who loves books as artifacts of human wisdom, is to see each generation re-discover knowledge known to earlier generations, without citation. Scholarship seems to be on a wheel making little forward progress, at least in the humanities.

This is a fine book. It is exceptional for both its clear-eyed understanding of the combination of evil and banal ignorance that characterizes those in power, whether of one party or another. In the 1970’s, for the US Institute of Peace, I wrote that the greatest threat to peace was the cataclysmic separation of those with power from those with knowledge. This book manifests all of that brilliantly.

It is also exceptional in this era for being a clear-eyes appraisal of the evil of military intervention. This again is not new knowledge, but it is helpful to have this generation be reminded.

Great evil has been done “in our name,” for the basest of reasons. I pray that our rising generation of digital literati will not be as ignorant in power as those who now surround world leaders–sychophants, dilitants, and craven opportunists.

See also:
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time
War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century

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Review: First Do No Harm–Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Humanitarian Assistance
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Superb Re-Discovery of Core Knowledge, Presents New Insights, July 4, 2009

David N. Gibbs

At the age of 56, having been educated in the 1970’s when political science created “comparative studies” as a ruse for avoiding field world and foreign language mastery in favor of statistical comparisons from afar, I am now quite accustomed to seeing each generation rediscover core knowledge.

Even more distressing for one who loves books as artifacts of human wisdom, is to see each generation re-discover knowledge known to earlier generations, without citation. Scholarship seems to be on a wheel making little forward progress, at least in the humanities.

This is a fine book. It is exceptional for both its clear-eyed understanding of the combination of evil and banal ignorance that characterizes those in power, whether of one party or another. In the 1970’s, for the US Institute of Peace, I wrote that the greatest threat to peace was the cataclysmic separation of those with power from those with knowledge. This book manifests all of that brilliantly.

Continue reading “Review: First Do No Harm–Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia”

Review: Nordic Approaches to Peace Operations–a New Model In the Making

3 Star, Humanitarian Assistance, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Stabilization & Reconstruction, United Nations & NGOs

Nordic Peace5 for Substance, Zero for Pricing, June 1, 2008

Peter Jakobsen

I am adding this book to my list of outrageously expensive books that will never become mainstream because the substance of the author has been overwhelmed by the greed of the publisher. This book cost less than a penny a page to produce and received no marketng to speak of.

As a publisher and author myself, I strongly recommend that all authors publish their word in PDF form free online, and also ensure their contract with any publisher includes a not-to-exceed price for a hard or soft cover copy for the publisher.

Amazon allows URLs in the comment section. I now search for books like this on the web rather than paying such an outrageous price. I have sent email to the author encouraging him to identify an online location for a PDF(not necessarily of the book, but of the core ideas). If I receive that, I will post the link as a comment.

I take the Nordics very seriously, both in peace operations and in peace intelligence. They taught me (in Sweden) the importance of what they call Multinational Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information Sharing (M4IS). In the comment below I provide two links, one to the new book on Peace Intelligence that is being edited by Col Jan-Inge Svensson, the other to the one page portal to Open Source Intelligence which now gives way to Public Intelligence.

See also:
Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future
Intelligence Power in Peace and War

Review: The Bottom Billion–Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It

5 Star, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Humanitarian Assistance, Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Stabilization & Reconstruction

Bottom BillionElegantly brilliant, incisive clarity, quite extraordinary, February 22, 2008

Paul Collier

I read a lot, almost entirely in non-fiction, and this book is easily one of the “top ten” on the future and one of the top three on extreme poverty, in my own limited reading.

The other three books that have inspired me in this specific area are:
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid
Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time

There is an enormous amount of actionable wisdom in this book, which is deceptively easy to read and digest. The author’s bottom line is clear early on:

A. The fifty failing states at the bottom, most in Africa, others in Central Asia, are a cesspool of misery that is terribly dangerous to all others, exporting disease, crime, and conflict.

B. The responsibility for peace to enable prosperity cannot be expected from within–it must be provided as a common good from outside. In support of this point, toward the end of the book, the author posits a 15:1 return on investment from $250M a year in investment and aid, mostly technical assistance.

This book is a superb guide for regional authorities and international coalitions with respect to the value of non-military interventions.
The author provides compelling yet concise overviews of the four traps that affect the billion at the bottom:

A. The Conflict Trap
B. The Natural Resource Export Trap
C. Landlocked in a Bad Neighbors Trap
D. Poor and Corrupt Governance

The author describes the need for a “whole of government” approach, both among those seeking to deliver assistance, and those receiving it.
I have a note, a new insight at least to me, that AIDs proliferated so quickly across Africa because of the combination of mass rape followed by mass migration. There are many other gifted turns of phrase throughout.
A study on the cost of a Kalashnikov is most helpful. The author tells us that the legacy of any war is the proliferation of inexpensive small arms into the open market.

Across the book the author points out that the gravest threat to governance and stability within any fragile economy is a standing army.
Each of the traps is discussed in depth.

The middle of the book outlines nine-strategies for the land-locked who suffer from being limited to their neighbors as a marketplace, rather than the world as a whole.

1. Work with neighbors to create cross-border transport infrastructure
2. Work to improve neighbors’ economies for mutual benefit
3. Work to improve access to coastal areas (the author points out that the sea is so essential, that landlocked countries should not* be* countries, they should be part of a larger country that borders the sea)
4. Become a haven of peace, providing financial and other services.
5. Don’t be air-locked or electronically-locked (the first study of the Marine Corps that I led in 1988-1989 found that half of the countries of concern did not have suitable ports but all had ample C-130 capable airfields).
6. Encourage remittances
7. Create transparent investment-friendly environment for resource prospecting
8. Focus on rural development
9. Attract aid

Toward the end of the book I am struck by the author’s pointed (and documented) exclusion of democracy and civil rights as necessary conditions for reform. Instead, large populations, secondary education, and a recent civil war (opening paths to change), are key.
$64 billion is the cost to the region of a civil war, with $7 billion being the minimal expected return on investment for preventing a civil war in the country itself.

Bad policies come with a sixty year hang-over.

Asia is the solid middle and makes trade a marginal and unlikely option for rescuing Africa UNLESS there are a combination of trade barriers against imports from Asia, and unreciprocal trade preferences from richer countries. In the context of globalization, only capital and people offer hope.

In the author’s view, capital is not going to the bottom billion because:

A. Bottom of the barrel risk
B. Too small to learn about
C. Genuinely fragile

In terms of human resources, after discussing capital flight, the author concludes that the educated leave as quickly as they can. I am inspired by this discussion to conclude that we need a Manhattan project for Africa, in which a Prosperity Corps of Gray Eagles is incentivized to adopt one of the 50 failed states, and provided with a semblance of normal living and working conditions along with bonuses for staying in-country for ten years or more. As I reflect on how the USA has spent $30 billion for “diplomacy” in 2007, and over $975 billion for waging war, (such that the Comptroller General just resigned from a fifteen year appointment after telling Congress the USA is “insolvent”) this begs public outrage and engagement.

As the book makes its way to the conclusion the author’s prose grabs me:

“We should be helping the heroes” attempting reform

We are guilty in the West of “inertia, ignorance, and incompetence.”

The “cesspool of misery….is both terrible….and dangerous.”

Several other noteworthy highlights (no substitute for buying and reading the book in its entirety:

Aid does offer a 1% growth kick

Aid bureaucracy, despite horror stories, adds real value in contrast to funds that vanish into the corrupt local government

Misdirection of unrestricted funds leads to militarization and instability.

The author touches briefly on the enormous value that industry can offer when it is finally incentivized to do so. DeBeers and its certification process are cited with respect, perhaps saving diamonds from going the way of fur.

The author stresses that top-down transparency enables bottom-up public scrutiny and the two together help drive out corruption (something Lawrence Lessig has committed the remainder of his life to).

There is an excellent section on irresponsible NGOs, notably Christian Aid, feared by the government and not understood by the public.
I put the book down with a very strong feeling of hope.

Other books I recommend, in addition to the three above:
A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Third Edition

Review DVD: Pandemic

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Complexity & Catastrophe, Humanitarian Assistance, Reviews (DVD Only), Threats (Emerging & Perennial)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and worhty of public attention

October 18, 2007

Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, French Stewart, Faye Dunaway, Michael Massee, Vincent Spano

It was a very long flight to Oakland (to attend Bioneers), and this movie got me through the last two hours. It is superb. It should be required viewing for every citizen, every official, every foundation leader, every elected person. It is well-crafted, credible, absorbing, and thought-provoking.

Highlights:
* How the selfishness of one “run-away” infected person can kill tens of thousands and defeat the pre-quarantine containment process.
* Failure to control *each* passenger by name in the delicate transition from infected aircraft to controlled environment is the one thing that can destroy a containment.
* Failure to be candid with citizens and put public ran-away notice with photo of the run-away makes the situation much worse. Failure to tell the run-aways office workers and home family the exact threat they represent negates their value in bringing the run-away in before they infect hundreds more directly, thousands indirectly.
* The movie provides a fascination depiction of the scientific investigative process, while also depicting the political tensions among the Mayor, the Governor, and others, each seeking to balance archaic political calculations with unknown biological “runaway train” implications.
* The movie reminds us that a run-away worst impact is among first responders who missed the alerts and begin to die as fast as the people they are treating.
* The utility of ice rinks as emergency morgues for hundreds of bodies.

Overall this is a great movie with a fine plot including a worst case break-out of a convicted drug lord, and what happens when people turn off the radio or silence the witness before they can complete a sentence that begins “it’s not so simple.”

NOVA: Epidemic – Ebola, AIDS, Bird Flu and Typhoid
Congo
Not listed on Amazon: Hot Zone with Dustin Hoffman

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Review: Pathologies of Power–Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (Hardcover)

4 Star, Atrocities & Genocide, Humanitarian Assistance

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4.0 out of 5 stars Foundation Work With Two Core Concepts,

April 4, 2006
Paul Farmer
This is a foundation book, if you have the time, money, and willingness to read broadly. If you want only one book on the cycle of health, human rights, poverty, and violence, buy Jeffrey Sachs’ book on The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time in which this author, Paul Farmer, is praised, recognized, and clearly valued as a pioneer.

There are two bottom lines in this book:

1) Providing adequate low-cost health care for every human is the non-negotiable first step in eliminating human rights violations writ large (e.g. a year in a Russian prison could be an automatic death sentence from tuberculosis), poverty, and violence among the poor and between the poor and the more affluent.

2) Governments are failing. Here the author is in harmony with Philip Alcott, whose book The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State calls for the over-turning of the Treaty of Westphalia (no more respect for the sovereignty of dictators–as in America, when government become too destructive, the People have the right to abolish the government). The author believes that a larger non-governmental network, and public pressure to force governments to apply more money to health and less money to the military killing machine, will in fact not only end poverty, but unleash sustainable indigenous wealth.

His case studies are of necessity somewhat tedious and can be skimmed if one’s mindset is inherently in agreement with his propositions–they do however provide deep documentation for the skeptical.

Another book that might be substituted for this one (especially if buying and reading Sachs) is the pioneering work of Laurie Garrett, Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health which documents the global collapse of public health. A very long book, my Amazon review of it is summative and may suffice.

Dr. Farmer also makes the rather helpful point that doctors doing good can go places where human rights inspectors would be considered intrusive. He praises Cuba, and rightly so. Any country that can put 10,000 medical practitioners into Venezuela, and thereby earn “first call” on Venezuelan oil, is operating at a strategic level of insight that the USA simply does not match today. Readers may not like hearing that the USA is slipping down into the middle ranks of “has been” nations, but that is the reality. On our present course, we are importing poverty, allowing pandemic disease to rear its ugly head through bird flu, mad cow disease and other mutations that will jump to humans, and we have also busted the national piggy bank with the double deficits (trade and debt).

When Dr. Farmer talks about the pathologies of power, he reminds me of Norman Cousin’s book by the same title, but does so in a very practical personal way. If human beings are a primary source of national power, then having uneducated human beings subject to disease, poverty, crime, and terror has got to be the single dumbest thing any great power can allow to happen, at home or abroad. Lest anyone dispute my contention on this point, see my reviews of Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and also David Shipler’s The Working Poor: Invisible in America and Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor See my review of Sachs for more detail on the specific topic of global poverty and why it matters to every citizen.

All ten of the high-level threats to humanity are connected, and all twelve of the stabilizing policies from Agriculture to Water must be connected as well.

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Review: Shake Hands With The Devil–The Failure Of Humanity In Rwanda

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Atrocities & Genocide, Biography & Memoirs, Diplomacy, History, Humanitarian Assistance, Insurgency & Revolution, Justice (Failure, Reform), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Security (Including Immigration), Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Truth & Reconciliation, United Nations & NGOs, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle

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5.0 out of 5 stars Genocide is SYMPTOM–Lack of Public Intelligence is CAUSE,

June 29, 2004
Romeo Dallaire
I read this book with the eye and mind of a professional intelligence officer long frustrated with the myopia of national policy constituencies, and the stupidity of the United Nations Headquarters culture. General Dallaire has written a superb book on the reality of massive genocide in the Burundi and Rwanda region in 1994, and his sub-title, “The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda” is where most people end up in reading this book.

I see things a little differently. I see this book as a massive indictment of the United Nations culture of “go along gently”, as a compelling documentary of how ignorant the United Nations is about impending disasters because of its persistent refusal to establish a UN intelligence secretariat as recommended by the Brahimi Report, and as a case study in how the Western nations have failed to establish coherent global strategies–and the intelligence-policy dialogues necessary to keep such strategies updated and relevant.

According to the author, 15 UN peacekeepers died–over 800,000 Rwandans died. The number 15 is not larger because Belgium, Canada, and the US explicitly stated that Rwanda was “irrelevant” in any sense of the word, and not worth the death of a single additional Western (mostly white) soldier.

Although there has been slight improvement in the UN since LtGen Patrick Cammaert, NL RM became the Military Advisor to the Secretary General (see General Cammaert and other views in Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future, the reality is that the UN is still unintelligent and unable to muster the strategic intelligence necessary to get the mandate right; the operational intelligence necessary to get the force structure right; and the tactical intelligence necessary to achieve the mission on the ground. Just about everything General Dallaire writes about in this book with respect to UN culture and UN lack of intelligence remains valid today: they still cannot get decent maps with which to plan a campaign or execute the mission; UN administrators are still anal-retentive bureaucrats that will not issue paper and pencils, much less soft drinks for diplomatic encounters; UN “seniors” still like the first class lifestyle on the road (they pretend to be austere only in NY); UN civilian mission leaders still misrepresent military reporting, as Booh-Booh did to Dallaire; and the UN is still ineffective in creating public intelligence with which to communicate directly to national publics the reasons why humanitarian operations must take place early and in force.

General Dallaire concludes his excruciatingly detailed book, a book with enormous credibility stemming from the meticulous manner in which he documents what happened, when it happened, and what everyone knew when (including advance warning of the genocide from the “third force” that the UN leadership refused to take seriously), with two thoughts, one running throughout the book, the second in the conclusion only:

First, and perhaps because of the mental toll he himself paid for this mission, there are frequent references throughout the book to the urgency of understanding the psychology of groups, tribes, and cultures. This is not something any Western intelligence agency is capable of today. The closest I have seen to this is Dr. Marc Sageman’s book on Understanding Terror Networks We urgently need a global “survey”, with specific reference to the countries plagued by ethnic conflict and other sources of instability, and we need to start taking “psychological intelligence” very seriously. We need to UNDERSTAND.

Second, he concludes the book by emphasizing the urgency of understanding and then correcting the sources of the utter RAGE that characterizes hundreds of thousands if not millions of young men around the world, all of whom he says have access to guns and many of whom he says will ultimately and unavoidably have access to weapons of mass destruction.

As I contemplate the six-front hundred-year war that America has started by attacking Iraq instead of addressing the social networks and sources of terrorism, I cannot help but think that this great solider and statesman has hit the nail on the head: Rwanda is coming to your neighborhood, and nothing your policy makers and military leaders are doing today is relevant to avoiding that visitation. Remember the kindergarten class in Scotland? The Columbine shootings and Oklahoma disasters? Now magnify that by 1000X, aggravated by a mix of angry domestic militants, alienated immigrant gangs, hysterical working poor fathers pushed into insanity–and the free availability of small arms, toxins, and simple means for collapsing the public infrastructure….

The complexity of society, which has lost its humanity, is leading to unpredictable and difficult to diagnose and correct collapses of all the basic mechanisms of survival. General Dallaire’s book is not about Rwanda–it is about us and what will happen to us if we persist in being unintelligent about our world and the forces that could–if we were wise–permit billions to survive in peace.

In addition to this book I recommend the PKI book mentioned above, Jonathan Schell’s book on The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People Bill Moyer’s on Doing Democracy, and Tom Atlee on The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All. If we do not take back the power and restore common sense to how our nations behave and how our nations spend our money around the globe, the plague of Rwanda will visit our neighborhoods within the decade.

See also:
How to Prevent Genocide: A Guide for Policymakers, Scholars, and the Concerned Citizen
The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political–Citizen’s Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption

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Review: Human Security and the New Diplomacy–Protecting People, Promoting Peace

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Atrocities & Genocide, Civil Society, Complexity & Catastrophe, Diplomacy, Disaster Relief, Environment (Problems), Humanitarian Assistance, Stabilization & Reconstruction

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5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution of Man Demands Attention to Global Human Security,

January 14, 2004
Robert Grant McRae
In the mid-1990’s the United Nations (learn to respect them, they stink at the details but work at the strategic level) declared human security to be a just cause for intervention. Since then a number of extremely thoughtful works have documented the links between failed states (where human security is non-existent) and direct threats to the homelands of the advanced Western states. See my various lists, especially the list on Stategy & Force Structure.This book, by an extraordinary duo including the man who may well be Canada’s foremost authority in this arena, provides the first and as best I can tell only comprehensive discussion of why human security in every clime and place matters locally, that is, to the future of your children.

It places special emphasis on the importance of multi-cultural (i.e. not bully boy unilateral “we are the light and might makes right) approaches and large investments (commensurate with what we waste now on B2 bombers and nuclear carriers) in peacekeeping and stabilization operations which provide a vastly greater return on investment than funds wasted lining the pockets of military-industrial complex managers.

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Review: Policing the New World Disorder–Peace Operations and Public Security

4 Star, Atrocities & Genocide, Complexity & Resilience, Culture, Research, Force Structure (Military), Humanitarian Assistance, Insurgency & Revolution, Justice (Failure, Reform), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Security (Including Immigration), Stabilization & Reconstruction, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Truth & Reconciliation, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)

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4.0 out of 5 stars From Missile Gap to Cop Gap–Heart of Stability Operations,

October 13, 2000
Robert B. Oakley
EDITED 18 September 2007 to add links to other books. Still Ref A.

In excruciating detail, with substantial commonality between a number of case studies, this book examines the traditional public security (police, internal order) function in relation to failed states and external interventions.

This is not a book about the larger issue of when and how to intervene in the internal affairs of states beset by internal conflict and it is not a book about the actual conditions around the world that require some form of imposed or reinforced public order. Rather, it is the most detailed book one could hope for on the need for an international law enforcement reserve that is capable of rapidly filling the gap in local public police services that occurs when the indigenous capability collapses and traditional military forces arrive unprepared to meet this need.

All of the case studies are world-class, with primary source detail unlike any normally seen in the literature. All agree that this is a “force structure” issue that no government and certainly not the United Nations, has mastered, but most give due credit to UN civilian police operations for being the best available model upon which to build a future capability.

The summary of conclusions by Ambassador Oakley and Colonel Professor Dziedzic are alone worth the price of the book. If the Cold War era might be said to have revolved around early perceptions of a “missile gap”, the 21st Century with its Operations Other Than War (OOTW) could reasonably be said to have two issues-natural conditions such as depleted water resources, which is not the book’s focus, and the “globo-cop gap”, which is-the book documents in a very compelling manner the fact that there is a major capabilities (and intelligence) chasm between preventive diplomacy on the one side, and armed military forces on the other, and that closure of this gap is essential if we are to improve our prospects for rescuing and maintaining public order around the world.

The capabilities of U.S. military police and civil affairs specialists are touched on by several pieces, but I for one would have liked to see more emphasis on what changes in their force structure is required-my understanding is that we have not increased their numbers in the aftermath of the Cold War despite the fact that these units are being used up all over the world, without relief.

The conclusion highlights the need for constabulary forces, and helpfully identifies the following specific national capabilities as being relevant (in this reader’s interpretation) to a future standing international gendarmerie: U.S. Military Police and Special Forces, French gendarmerie, Spanish Guardia Civil, Chilean carabineros, Argentine gendarmes, Italian carabinieri, Dutch Royal Mariechaussee). I would add the Belgian Gendarme, the first national force to establish an open source intelligence network across all police precincts in the entire country.

It is clear from both the conclusion and the case studies that this constabulary-police capabilities requirement needs agreed-upon international concepts, doctrine, training, earmarked resources including surge capabilities and transport, and so on. We do not appear to have learned any lasting lessons from the various interventions, in that civil affairs and military police continue to be “last in line” for embarkation into areas where military forces are being introduced, and there is no U.S. program within Program 150 where we can demonstrate a real commitment to “law and order” as part of our contribution to peace in the 21st Century.

The book lacks an index, a typical shortcoming of think tank and defense educational institutions, and this is a major flaw that should be corrected in the next printing. This book is “Ref A” for every foreign service, military, and law enforcement officer interested in doing a better job of integrating diplomatic, gendarmerie, and military capabilities in every clime and place.

See also:
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA’s War on Terrorism
Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare
The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America

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Review: A Half Penny on the Federal Dollar–The Future of Development Aid

4 Star, Budget Process & Politics, Disaster Relief, Humanitarian Assistance, Stabilization & Reconstruction

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4.0 out of 5 stars Brother, Can You Spare a Half Penny to Save the World?,

October 12, 2000
Michael E. O’Hanlon
This is a hard-hearted practical look at development aid, and so it should be. The “official development assistance” (ODA) element of Program 150, the international affairs budget commonly recognized as the “preventive diplomacy” budget that runs alongside Program 50 (the traditional military budget), is evaluated by the authors in terms of amounts (are we doing enough), allocations (are we giving to the right countries), and directions (are we doing the right things). It is a small amount of money that is being discussed–$9 billion a year in 1997 for ODA alone-said to represent a half penny of each dollar spent by the U.S. government. This works out to about $15 per year for the members of the targeted populations. Larger more populous states receive less aid per capita than smaller states. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and China are especially disadvantaged. In contrast to today’s $15 per person nvestment, the Marshall Plan provided in excess of $100 to $200 per person in Europe (but for only several years, working out to an equivalent amount when compared to sustained aid flows today).Several thoughtful observations jump out from the book:

1) Foreign aid is not preventing conflicts from emerging (if anything, and this is not implied by O’Hanlon but is explicit in William Shawcross’ book DELIVER US FROM EVIL: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict (Simon & Schuster, 2000), foreign aid contributes to instability by giving rise to warlords and black markets);

2) Foreign aid is of limited use in reconstructing societies ravaged by conflict, especially those with limited infrastructures that cannot absorb resources as well as European nations;

3) Foreign aid’s best return on investment appears to be the education of women-even a few years of education has a considerable impact on birth control, health, and other areas of interest;

4)Foreign aid shapes both our own philosophy of foreign affairs, and the perceptions others have of our foreign role-it also shapes our domestic constituencies perception of why we should have a foreign policy arm;

5) Foreign aid does not play a significant role in most countries where there is access to open markets and stability does not frighten away investors-indeed the emerging expert consensus appears to lean toward debt forgiveness combined with private capital investment as the best approach to economic reform;

6) Foreign aid is least effective in those countries that are either unstable or have a range of harmful economic policies including trade barriers, large budget deficits, oversized public sectors, and overvalued exchange rates. Roughly half the countries receiving aid today have poor economic policies in place;

7) The U.S. is the least generous of the Office of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members, providing just over one third as much of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the other OECD countries-0.10 percent instead of 0.27 percent.

Having said all this, the author’s document their views that our ODA investments need to rise from $9 billion to at least $12 billion a year, with other countries increasing their combined contributions from $51 billion to $68 billion per year. The authors favor increased foreign aid investments in poor countries with good economic policies, for the purpose of building transportation infrastructure, enhancing local health and education programs, and accelerating the expansion of utilities and communications services.

They also recommend a broader distribution of foreign aid for countries in conflict throughout Africa, and suggest that Public Law 480 food aid should be focused only on responding to disaster relief rather than indiscriminate distribution that benefits U.S. farmers but undermines foreign agricultural programs.

They conclude with the somewhat veiled suggestion that all of this could be paid for by a reduction of foreign military assistance to Egypt and Israel. One is left, at the end of the book, with two strong feelings: first, that U.S. foreign aid is on “automatic pilot” and rather mindlessly muddling along; and second, that this is a very small but very important part of the total U.S. national security budget, one that merits its own ombudsman within the National Security Council, and one that is worthy of no less than a penny on the dollar as we plan our future Federal investments.

What is left unsaid by the authors is whether the other $60-80 billion in foreign aid by various actors including the United Nations agencies, is well managed–one is left with the impression that the U.S. really faces two challenges: an internal challenge of improving its performance with respect to foreign aid, and an external challenge in demanding a more rational and coordinated approach to various forms of aid being sponsored by others.

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Review: Deliver Us from Evil–Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict

5 Star, Crime (Government), Crime (Organized, Transnational), Diplomacy, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Force Structure (Military), Humanitarian Assistance, Insurgency & Revolution, Justice (Failure, Reform), Military & Pentagon Power, Security (Including Immigration), Stabilization & Reconstruction, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Truth & Reconciliation, United Nations & NGOs, War & Face of Battle

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5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamental Primer on Real-World Security Challenges,

August 29, 2000
William Shawcross
EDIT of 23 Feb 08 to add links. This remains a priceless reference work.

This book is serious, scholarly yet down to earth, compassionate, insightful, terribly relevant and most useful to any citizen, overseas practitioner, or policymaker. By the books own rendering, “good will without strength can make things worse.” Most compellingly, the author demonstrates both the nuances and the complexities of “peace operations”, and the fact that they require at least as much forethought, commitment, and sustainment as combat operations. Food scarcity and dangerous public health are the root symptoms, not the core issues. The most dangerous element is not the competing sides, but the criminal gangs that emerge to “stoke the fires of nationalism and ethnicity in order to create an environment of fear and vulnerability” (and great profit). At the same time, humanitarianism has become a big part of the problem-we have not yet learned how to distinguish between those conflicts where intervention is warranted (e.g. massive genocide campaigns) and those where internal conflicts need to be settled internally. In feeding the competing parties, we are both prolonging the conflict, and giving rise to criminal organizations that learn to leverage both the on-going conflict and the incoming relief supplies. Perhaps more troubling, there appears to be a clear double-standard-whether deliberate or circumstantial-between attempts to bring order to the white western or Arab fringe countries and what appears to be callous indifference to black African and distant Asian turmoil that includes hundreds of thousands victim to genocide and tens of thousands victim to living amputation, mutilation, and rape. When all is said and done, and these are my conclusions from reading this excellent work, 1) there is no international intelligence system in place suitable to providing both the global coverage and public education needed to mobilize and sustain multi-national peacekeeping coalitions; 2) the United Nations is not structured, funded, nor capable of carrying out disciplined effective peacekeeping operations, and the contributing nations are unreliable in how and when they will provide incremental assistance; 3) we still have a long way to go in devising new concepts, doctrines, and technologies and programs for effectively integrating and applying preventive diplomacy, transformed defense, transnational law enforcement, and public services (water, food, health and education) in a manner that furthers regionally-based peace and prosperity instead of feeding the fires of local unrest.

See also:
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System
Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, Third Edition
The Future of Life
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century

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Review: Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Humanitarian Assistance, Military & Pentagon Power, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Threats (Emerging & Perennial)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page
5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamental Primer on Real-World Security Challenges
August 29, 2000
EDIT of 23 Feb 08 to add links. This remains a priceless reference work.This book is serious, scholarly yet down to earth, compassionate, insightful, terribly relevant and most useful to any citizen, overseas practitioner, or policymaker. By the books own rendering, “good will without strength can make things worse.” Most compellingly, the author demonstrates both the nuances and the complexities of “peace operations”, and the fact that they require at least as much forethought, commitment, and sustainment as combat operations. Food scarcity and dangerous public health are the root symptoms, not the core issues.

The most dangerous element is not the competing sides, but the criminal gangs that emerge to “stoke the fires of nationalism and ethnicity in order to create an environment of fear and vulnerability” (and great profit). At the same time, humanitarianism has become a big part of the problem-we have not yet learned how to distinguish between those conflicts where intervention is warranted (e.g. massive genocide campaigns) and those where internal conflicts need to be settled internally.

Continue reading “Review: Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict”