Review: Caught In Between by His Grace Riah Abu El-Assal Former Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East

5 Star, Biography & Memoirs, Civil Society, Country/Regional, Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Insurgency & Revolution, Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Religion & Politics of Religion, Security (Including Immigration), Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle
Amazon Page

5 Stars A Bishop Bears Witness in Palestine

Riah Abu El-Assal

From God’s lips to my ears. His Grace is both an Arab and a Christian whose life over several generations has been defined, on the one hand, by the love of God and on the other by the perfidy of the Zionists looting and destroying Palestine, and now including Jerusalem, a corpus separatum by any rational understanding.

Continue reading “Review: Caught In Between by His Grace Riah Abu El-Assal Former Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East”

Trump Revolution Series (Both Kindle and Free Online)

America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Budget Process & Politics, Censorship & Denial of Access, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Culture, Research, Decision-Making & Decision-Support, Democracy, Economics, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Justice (Failure, Reform), Leadership, Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Religion & Politics of Religion, Science & Politics of Science, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Strategy, Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle

Trump Revolution Series @ Amazon Kindle

Trump Revolution Series Free @ Phi Beta Iota

with apologies, free link fixed on 18 June 2018

Amazon Kindle Series: Re-Inventing National Security

Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Atlases & State of the World, Change & Innovation, Complexity & Resilience, Force Structure (Military), Future, Information Society, Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Leadership, Military & Pentagon Power, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Public Administration, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Strategy, Survival & Sustainment, Technology (Bio-Mimicry, Clean), Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle
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Worth a Look: Tragedy & Hope 101

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Crime (Organized, Transnational), Democracy, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Impeachment & Treason, Information Society, Insurgency & Revolution, Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity, Worth A Look
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

The information contained in this book contradicts nearly everything you’ve been led to believe about democracy and “representative government.”

Based on the groundbreaking research of respected historian Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope 101 reveals an unimaginably devious political system, skillfully manipulated by a handful of elite, which is undermining freedom and democracy as we know it. The goal of those who control the system, in Quigley’s own words, is to dominate “all habitable portions of the world.” Using deception, theft, and violence, they have achieved more toward this goal than any rulers in human history.

However, the Information Age is quickly derailing their plans. The immorality of their system, and those who serve it, has become nearly impossible to hide. Awareness and resistance are growing…Tragedy is yielding to hope.

Pre-Order: General Mike Flynn on The Field of Fight – How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies

5 Star, America (Anti-America), Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), War & Face of Battle
cover field of fight
Amazon Page

TO BE RELEASED 12 JULY 2016

PRE-ORDER NOW — Appears Discounted

Ten years ago we found evidence that al-Qaeda was far more organized and adept than we had previously given them credit for. It took us nearly that long to locate and execute their leader, Osama bin Laden, and we are far from finished. Al-Qaeda has morphed into a much more dangerous, menacing threat: ISIS. A war is being waged against us by radical Islamists, and, as current events demonstrate, they are only getting stronger. This book aims to inform the American people of the grave danger we face―and will continue to face―until our government takes decisive action against the terrorists that want nothing more than to destroy us and our way of life.

Continue reading “Pre-Order: General Mike Flynn on The Field of Fight – How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies”

Review: Reform or Revolution and Other Writings

4 Star, Economics, Insurgency & Revolution, Philosophy, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Rosa Luxemburg

4.0 out of 5 stars Tedious, Some Valuable Provocative Original Thinking, March 6, 2015

I bought this book along with On Marx: Revolutionary and Utopian (Liveright Classics) at Powell’s in Portland, one of the truly great bookstores in the USA along with the Tattered Cover in Denver (which is a tenth the size of Powell’s). I bought it largely because of its focus on the general strike versus the partial strike as a tactic that might or might not be possible depending on the country and where it is in its economic degeneration.

Although I received a very good education in political thought from Charles Bednar at Muhlenberg, I confess that it is only now at 63 that I have realized that most of what our government, media, think tanks, and even universities offer in the way of commentary on “political economy” is ideological crap — they do not do their homework, they really have no clue, and they get away with it because everyone else has no clue either.

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Review: EMERGE! The Rise of Functional Democracy and the Future of the Middle East

5 Star, Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Country/Regional, Culture, Research, Democracy, Diplomacy, Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Public), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Public Administration, Survival & Sustainment, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Elza S. Maalouf, Foreword by Don Beck

5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary — 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:

Continue reading “Review: EMERGE! The Rise of Functional Democracy and the Future of the Middle East”

Review: Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure – A War Doomed By The Coalition’s Strategies, Policies and Political Correctness

4 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Insurgency & Revolution, Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Religion & Politics of Religion, Terrorism & Jihad, War & Face of Battle
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

John L. Cook

4.0 out of 5 stars Deep Insights, A Couple of Misses, Certainly Recommended as Core Reading, November 8, 2014

A hold over from my time in Afghanistan, I finally got around to reading this book on a long flight and give it a solid four stars. There is some very good eye opening stuff in this book, including some facts I itemize below that I plain did not know before. However, the author is also very wrong on a couple of key points, I address those at the end of my review when I suggest ten other books to also read. I do respect this book and the author’s candid useful appraisal, and recommend it to anyone thinking about how criminally insane our US national insecurity/fraud system really is. We are our own worst enemy, and as Martin Luther King said before he was assassinated for saying so, “the greatest purveyors of (illegitimate) violence in the world.”

At a meta-level, this is a five-star read and absolutely worthy of being included in any orientation collection. Meta points I salute:

Continue reading “Review: Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure – A War Doomed By The Coalition’s Strategies, Policies and Political Correctness”

Review: Revolution

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Change & Innovation, Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Impeachment & Treason, Insurgency & Revolution, Justice (Failure, Reform), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Religion & Politics of Religion, Survival & Sustainment, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Russell Brand

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Intricate, Non-Violent, and Optimistic, November 4, 2014

In relation to the 2,000 plus non-fiction books I have reviewed here at Amazon, this book is brilliant. Normally I would consider giving it four stars for lacking an index and endnotes, obviously needed for the poorly educated morons that cannot grasp the many (many) direct references to top authors and thinkers. For crying out loud, Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is received by the author in his home and cited in this book, as are so many others. So a solid five stars for impact and self-made erudition.

Let me state very clearly that the publisher has sodomized this author by not including an index, a bibliography, or endnotes. As the top Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, reviewing books across 98 distinct non-fiction categories, I am blown away by the clever, poetic, and pointed manner in which the author has integrated a vast (vast) range of reading and personal conversations into this book.

Continue reading “Review: Revolution”

Review: 1381 – The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt

6 Star Top 10%, Consciousness & Social IQ, Country/Regional, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Disease & Health, Economics, History, Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Public), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Religion & Politics of Religion, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page (US)
Amazon Page (US)

Juliet Barker

5.0 out of 5 stars SIX STAR SPECTACULAR — COULD BE A CATALYST FOR REVOLUTION USA, October 27, 2014

This work is not being properly marketed in the USA. Harvard, the US publisher, is not doing all that it should which I find especially distressing because this could well be the single most important book any US citizen could read going into the farce of an election in 2014 and the travesty of 2016, when it appears that Jeb Bush will face off against Hillary Clinton, each so ably representing their side of the two-party tyranny that has sold out to Wall Street, barred the other parties (Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Natural Law, Reform, Socialist — and the Independents) from any possible access to political office, and sent two generations to elective wars mounted on the basis of greed and 935 lies.

Put as strongly as I can put it, this book could be a catalyst for revolution in the USA, and for that reason alone, I place it in my top ten percent, beyond five stars, this is a six star book.

Continue reading “Review: 1381 – The Year of the Peasants’ Revolt”

Review: STOP, THIEF! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Atrocities & Genocide, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Civil Society, Complexity & Resilience, Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Economics, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Environment (Problems), History, Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Justice (Failure, Reform), Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Survival & Sustainment, True Cost & Toxicity, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Peter Linebaugh

5.0 out of 5 stars David Bollier’s Review is Better, This Is My Attempt, April 21, 2014

I was very impressed by David Bollier’s review of this book at his web site (look for < “Stop, Thief!” – Peter Linebaugh’s New Collection of Essays > and am encouraging him to port that excellent review here to Amazon. Indeed, after working my way through the book myself, I consider myself unable to do proper justice to this deep work that integrates history, poetry, political economy, anthropology, and sociology among other disciplines. Hence I hope others will write substantive summary reviews and I again recommend Bollier’s review above.

Three thoughts keep recurring as I went through this book of original current essays and presentations:

01 Holy Cow. This guy is DEEP and BROAD in terms of arcane as well as popular sources, delving down into little known poems, essays, public statements, etcetera. This book is the one book version of the Durant’s Story of Civilization applied to one topic, the commons.

02 Holy Cow. This is what my top political science professor was trying to explain when I was in college in 1970-1974 – yes, a half century ago — and I was just not smart enough, patient enough, to appreciate it.

03 Holy Cow. This book is not just subversive, it does a magnificent job of head slapping every politician, economists, talking head, and other pretender who presumes to talk about public welfare without for one instant understanding that wages are a form of slavery and disconnection of humanity from everything else. Lionel Tiger makes related points in The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System but this book — if you focus and do not get lost in the poetry and minutia of exemplar citation — beats the commons versus capitalism drum along every possible note on the musical scale.

Among my high-level notes:

Continue reading “Review: STOP, THIEF! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance”

Review (Guest): Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Congress (Failure, Reform), Country/Regional, Culture, Research, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Insurgency & Revolution, Military & Pentagon Power, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), War & Face of Battle

cover kill anything that movesNick Turse

5 of 5 stars. I was there, he is right on some things. By George James Kalergis on September 8, 2013

There is some evidence for his proposition. He greatly overstates the incidence of rape and deliberate murder of civilians however. He makes it sound as if this was a routine/daily occurrence. In my year there in combat, I did not see one incident such as this.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my experience in Vietnam as a result of reading this book. It has some elements of truth to it, especially concerning the inflated body counts and influence from the chain of command for bodies. However, from my experience he has looked for (and found) many individual instances of abuse of civilians in that war and made it seem that was much more of a regular occurrence than it was.He doesn’t point out the danger we were in from women and children who would set booby traps or shoot at us. It was a nightmare scenario and I’m sure many soldiers lost their lives because they were not cautious enough with women and children. Continue reading “Review (Guest): Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam”

Review: Inequality, Grievances, and Civil War

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Civil Society, Complexity & Catastrophe, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Insurgency & Revolution, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Lars-Erik Cederman, Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, Halvard Buhaug

5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY – a modern version of the causes of revolution literature from the 1970’s, January 12, 2014

I am absolutely delighted to see this book published, and to also see it win awards. In the 1970’s there was a strong political science literature on the causes of revolution (see a few examples below) as well as on governance alternatives intended to achieve dignity and equality such that revolutions do not occur. A few examples:

Harry Eckstein, Internal War: Problems and Approaches
Ted Gurr, Why Men Rebel: Fortieth Anniversary Edition
Chalmers Johnson, Revolution and the Social System

The book earns five stars but could reasonably be reduced to four stars for failing to have a holistic analytic model and any substantive reference to true cost economics.

Continue reading “Review: Inequality, Grievances, and Civil War”

Review: Wrong Turn – America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Civil Affairs, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Force Structure (Military), Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Military & Pentagon Power, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Regarded in Afghanistan, A Real Gem, November 22, 2013

This book is in our J-2 Library in Afghanistan, and it is a very well-regarded gem.

This is a vitally important book. The author drives the value-proposition home with his Afterword, entitled “Truth as a Casualty of COIN.” His core point: lies kill military efficiency (including military learning). Those who would cite the vast spectrum of presidential and DoD directives and concepts and so on clearly are as out of touch with reality as the well-intentioned dolts that signed off on all that junk. Prior to reading this book I articulated — and had checked by colleagues at the US Army Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and across Special Forces — some harsh comments in my summary critical review of The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One.

Being a strong critic of defense idiocy and corruption myself, coming off 20 years of trying to get the US Intelligence Community to actually produce ethical evidence-based decision-support, this book by a former commander who is now teaching history at West Point should be required reading in all the schools from entry-level to war college.

The author opens early with his view that the COIN understanding of “the population” is delusional (he is being kind). The population is indeed the center of gravity, but if one is going to substitute technology for thinking, ideology for policy, and corrupt puppets for indigenous leadership, then one should expect to implode. As I have lectured here are there, including to civil affairs cannon fodder at Fort Bragg, “no amount of tactical excellence can make up for strategic decrepitude.” (see the definition of the latter term of art in my review of Clausewitz and Contemporary War).

The book focuses on the disconnect between a military trained, equipped, and organized to fight wars, and the “light infantry” variant that pretends to win hearts and minds while kicking down doors and running air strikes on civilians. The fact is that if there is no Whole of Government endeavor, if the Department of State is the Department of Nothing as Andrew Cockburn recently slammed Boffo Haircut (who gave up his integrity when looking into CIA’s role in Iran Contract and the cocaine crack explosion), then the military is on a fool’s errand at great expense in terms of blood, treasure, and spirit.

I am reminded of DIME by the early portion of the book. We need all four — diplomatic, informational, military, and economic. The fact is that we have a military that is dysfunctional and corrupt to the bone across strategy, policy, acquisition and operations, and a “paper tiger” across the other three domains.

There are five short quotes I have selected that capture the essence of the book, which I will follow with a final comment and eight other recommended books.

QUOTE (117): “When a state gets its strategy right in war, tactical problems tend to be subsumbed and improved within it.” This is an entire book waiting to be written — and the obverse of my comment to the civil affairs gladiators.

QUOTE (118): “But sometimes, in a war that involves limited policy airms, there may well be alternatives to victory.” Here I would point out that until last year the morons in DC conflated Al Qaeda and the Taliban — I do not make this stuff up. These are the same people that did not know Iraq was a Sunni minority ruling over a Shi’ite majority.

QUOTE (127): “The counterintelligence narrative posits that savior generals have game-changing effects, but it over-states their influence on the course of the war.” Yes, to which I would add, it is not helpful to have a Zionist bimbo sharing your bed and a G-2 without the balls the call a counterintelligence foul when he sees one.

QUOTE (128): “…hearts and minds counter-insurgency carried out by an occupying power in a foreign land doesn’t work, unless it is a multigenerational effort.” To understand the details, search for my Marine Corps University short paper (summary of a 1976 thesis), < 1992 MCU Thinking About Revolution >. No one in DC gets any of this.

QUOTE (132): “American strategy has failed in Afghanistan because it became tapped by the promise that counterinsurgency can work only if it is given enough time…” See my summary review of Colin Gray’s utterly gripping Modern Strategy — time is the one strategic variable that cannot be bought nor replaced. The corruption of US foreign and national security policy, deepened by the assassination of John F. Kennedy 50 years ago by a mix of Texas energy, New York money, CIA, and out of control elements of the rest of the US government, has wasted 50 years and destroyed the Republic. Time matters. So does integrity.

I am not going to summarize the most precious part of the book, pages 133-135, read these in the library or a bookstore if you cannot take the time to ingest the entire book.

I’ve had to work my way through multiple generations of flag officers divorced from reality and inattentive to the public interest. I dare hope that the serving Chief of Staff of the US Army is paying attention, and that this particular colonel might rise to be one of the thinking generals. Certainly I cannot count more than five in my lifetime out of the sixty or so I have known (Zinni is one of best and on record as saying that the US IC provided him “at best” 4% of what he needed to know as CINCENT). Consider helping me with the following SSI monograph under development, search for < 2013 ON REVOLUTION — Helpng Transform the US Army Consistent with CSA Guidance >

Buy this book, read it, display it, and share it. Let that be your act of loyal dissent this week.

Semper Fidelis,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

See Also:

Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
Uncomfortable Wars Revisited (International and Security Affairs)
Losing the Golden Hour: An Insider’s View of Iraq’s Reconstruction (An Adst-Dacor Diplomats and Diplomacy Book)
We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (American Empire Project)
The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It
Surrender to Kindness: One Man’s Epic Journey for Love and Peace

Review: Pakistan on the Brink–The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan

5 Star, America (Anti-America), America (Founders, Current Situation), Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Culture, Research, Diplomacy, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), History, Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Religion & Politics of Religion, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Truth & Reconciliation
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Ahmed Rashid

5.0 out of 5 stars 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.

Books Cited by the Author:

Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign
Power Struggle Over Afghanistan: An Inside Look at What Went Wrong–and What We Can Do to Repair the Damage

Books I Have Reviewed Circling AF-PK-Islam:
Lines of Fire: A Renegade Writes on Strategy, Intelligence, and Security
Surrender to Kindness: One Man’s Epic Journey for Love and Peace
Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West
Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond
Uncomfortable Wars Revisited (International and Security Affairs)
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam

Also Recommended:
Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

20131014 RASHID Pakistan on the Brink Review by Steele [Short & Long]

– – – – – LONG REVIEW (SUMMARY) BELOW THE LINE – – – – –

Continue reading “Review: Pakistan on the Brink–The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan”