Anthony Cordesman is by any rational measure an expert in defense, security, and intelligence issues. Virtually his entire career has been devoted to the study and analysis of these issues, yet he would probably be the first to note that he has also never stopped learning new things about all of them. All this is by way saying that this 2007 book that he authored is well worth reading and pondering.
Cordesman argues that the entire U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is dysfunctional to such an extent that U.S. security is at risk. He documents his claim in 11 chapters organized as `challenges’ to be over come. His central theme, however, and one that is revisited in almost every chapter is that for too long the civilian and military leadership of DOD has failed to link strategy, force plans, programs, and budget. Rather, these core DOD processes are each executed in a vacuum. Strategic goals do not inform organizational structuring of military forces or military design and procurement programs. The procurement programs in turn are not informed by either proposed or actual military force structure or operational doctrines. Strategy, force plans, and programs are not reflected in accurately in budget formulation. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) appears to be incapable of integrating these processes. DOD civilian management has equally failed to integrate these core processes. This across the board failure of leadership has been most clearly demonstrated in the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) that should have uncovered this lack of integration and argued for tying the budget formulation process directly to the design of force structures and programs designed to equip those structures. Instead the QDRs have steadily declined in quality to the point that the 2010 QDR was so badly formulated as to be palpably worthless.
Cordesman has done a good job in documenting the problems within DOD and has buttressed his argument with numerous charts and graphs. Still this book is a rather dry read although it is a very important analysis of the flawed processes by which DOD is trying manage the defense of America. It should also be noted that Cordesman and his two co-authors do not work for the government. Cordesman holds the Chair for Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a widely respected Washington think tank. CSIS published this study.
Both a Tour of Substance, and an Eye Opener for Book People
July 29, 2010
This is a 6 Star and Beyond book and is so categorized at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, where one can browse all 1600+ of my non-fiction reviews sorted into 98 categories and easily found with keywords–I’ve tried for years to get Amazon to give us this functionality and finally created it for my own work.
I was so impressed, so engaged, so absolutely educated by this author that I spent no less than four hours, and it might be as much as six, creating a table of all 120 films that he mentioned, with the directors, the year of release, and hot links. The complete list with hot links is at Phi Beta Iota, and should have been an appendix–I certainly give the list to the author should he wish to post it anywhere.
A few highlights, followed by the complete table of 120 films:
Chapter and Verse But No Footnotes–a Cornerstone Read
June 17, 2010
Jeffrey St. Clair
I come late to this book, published in 2005 and consisting of well-organized Op-Eds published in CounterPunch from 2000-2005. My review is primarily for my own benefit (my notes) and those who follow my reviews of non-fiction at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, where you can browse categories in a way that Amazon refuses to implement (e.g. see all my reviews on Corruption or on Pathology of Military Power, or on Government Crime, etcetera).
The lack of footnotes troubles me, not because I doubt the details this extraordinary author brings forward (including many details NOT covered by the 1,600 books I have reviewed, many centered on this very topic), but because I believe the author’s body of work would be enhanced if he included footnotes–I would go so far as to respectfully suggest that he write and publish on his personal blog the version with footnotes and links, and then publish the “clean” version at CounterPunch with a link to the notes version.
The best thing I can say about this specific book is that regardless of how many other books you might have read (I list ten suggestions with links at the end of this review), this book has details the other books do not have. It is a must read, and most especially so in the aftermath of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates meeting with Lockheed and other CEO’s to assure them that the money will keep on coming–I was utterly stunned when I read that, and realize that for all of his intelligence, Robert Gates has zero interest in actually defending America–he’s the Chief Thief. As he attempts to place Jim Clapper in the position as Director of National Intelligence, which oversees $75 billion a year in waste, I can only shake my head–Chief Thief and Mini-Me Thief. It is time the American people, led by Grover Norquist, leader of Americans for Tax Reform, to engaged in a massive tax revolt that redirects all tax revenue to local banks, in escrow for local needs. The Federal Government is OUT OF CONTROL.
As I look over the titles of the 33 Op Ed pieces, I have two thoughts: first, that this really is a spectacular collection of thoughful public interest criticism, very well organized; and second, that this same book could be written about every Cabinet Department, every State Governor, every Mayor across America. We have institutionalized looting in ways that even the most corrupt countries such as Guatemala have not even begun to exploit. The federal government is full of good, well-intentioned people, but it is also managed and manipulated by an elite that considers our tax dollars their privilege to spend, and that has to end.
Especially interesting to me were details on the Bush Family, including worthless relatives that helped companies climb to billions in revenue; details about George Bush Junior that were known before he ran for President but not properly presented to the public; details over the entire book on the treasonous displacement of uniformed personnel by contractors; technical exposes of specific mobility and weapons systems; and the over all DETAILED, balanced presentation of public intelligence in the public interest.
Here are ten other books I recommend to complement this one (if my reviews are buried at Amazon, they are easy to find at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, all with links there back to Amazon’s page for the book, and to my review at Amazon as well so you can harvest comments if any, and/or vote.
I do not link to my own books, including ON INTELLIGENCE: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World, as they are easy to find and also available free online. The bottom line is that Obama sold out to play Bush in black-face, with zero change in the constant treason that has characterized the Executive and Legislative Branches since at least the 1990’s when Newt Gingrich destroyed bi-partisan comity and Bill Clinton inhaled the vapors of Wall Street.
America needs both a tax revolt, and an honest Director of National Intelligence (DNI) able to create a Smart Nation in which we harness our collective intelligence and simultaneously ressurect national education and integrity; national research and integrity; and of course national decision-support (intelligence) and integrity. That alone will bury the current corruption because any DNI smart enough to do that will also be smart enough to tell Congress that intelligence and Whole of Government reform can be job and revenue neutral from state to state and district to district.
Captures the Essence, Leaves Out a Lot, April 26, 2010
I have mixed feelings about the movie, having read and reviewed most of the books on Dick Cheney’s treason and our going into Iraq on the basis of 935 lies to the public and the United Nations, but on reflection it captures the essence:
1) The intelligence given to one and all was false
2) CIA was not at fault–CIA (not George “Slam Dunk” Tenet, himself guilty of treason)–got it right right from both the defector son in law and the line crossers that Charlie Allen demanded: kept the cook-books, disposed of all stocks, bluffing for regional power sake.
3) Bremer was a world-class idiot in disbanding the army and ending the Baath Party
4) DIA played along–the current US military leadership has lost all of its integrity (and Panetta is not much better than Tenet was, which really surprised me)–and was all too willing to kiss up while kicking down.
There is so much left out of this (Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Ahmed Chaliba Iranian agent of influence) that I was tempted to go with four stars but had to go with five–for what it set out to do, this movie is spectacular.
See all my non-fiction book reviews on Iraq via Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog.
If you like this movie, I also recommend all the 9-11 Truth Movement DVDs. What our government does in our name is nothing short of treason and a betrayal of the public trust.
WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff.
Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.
(2003- 2009: 139 journalists killed)
27 March 2010: Full spread sheet and optimal links added below Amazon review.GOT TO RUN, Links later today.
Beyond Five Stars…Gifted Mix of Intelligence, Integrity, Insight Deeply Rooted in History and Firmly Focused on Today’s Reality
March 21, 2010
I do not always agree with Ralph Peters, but along with Steve Metz and Max Manwaring, both at the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the U.S. Army, I consider him one of America’s most gifted strategists whose integrity is absolute. He simplifies sometimes (e.g. Iraqis turned against Al Qaeda because of the demand for marriage that was refused followed by the bloodbath execution of the family by Al Qaeda, not because of anything the US did) but that aside, Ralph is the ONLY person that reminds me of both Winston Churchill–poetry and gifted turns of phrase on every page–and Will Durant, historian extraordinaire. Ralph has a better grasp of history, terrain, and the military than Robert Kaplan, and deeper insights into our failed military leadership (no longer leaders, just politically-correct administrators out of touch with reality) than my favorite journalist-adventurer, Robert Young Pelton.
I have read and reviewed most of Ralph’s books, and am proud to consider him a colleague and a fellow Virginian. Ralph is the only author whose books jump to the top of my “to read” pile, and I absorbed this masterpiece over the course of moving my own flag from Virginia to Latin America. US national and military intelligence have completely given up their integrity, and it resonated with me that the key word that Ralph uses throughout this book–a word I myself adopt in my latest book in carrying on the tradition of Buckminster Fuller on the one hand, and most respected mentor-critic Chuck Spinney on the other–is that very word: INTEGRITY.
Thanks to Steven Aftergood & Secrecy News for the heads up on the new book The Iraq Papers. Secrecy News’ email newsletter describes it this way:
An extensive compilation of official documents, policy advocacy statements, and assorted commentary on the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 is presented in “The Iraq Papers,” a new book from Oxford University Press.Since it seems that there will be no new official reckoning of the Iraq war or other Bush Administration policy choices, it will be left to others to achieve their own understanding of the Bush era and its aftermath. “The Iraq Papers” provides one possible documentary starting point.”The decision to invade Iraq launched a new doctrine of preemptive war, mired the American military in an intractable armed conflict, disrupted world petroleum supplies, cost the United States billions of dollars, and damaged or ended the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and Iraqis,” the book states.The book editors are not overly perplexed by these events. Somewhat heavy-handedly, they offer their own interpretation of events involving the decisive influence of neo-conservatives, the unitary executive, and a U.S. drive to global hegemony, among other factors. Alternative explanations are not considered here.