Review: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Civil Society, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Electoral Reform USA, Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Public), Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
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Greg Palast

5.0 out of 5 stars Let Freedom Ring–Truths the Corporate Thieves Can’t Hide

May 29, 2002

The most distressing aspect of this book, written by an American expatriate publishing largely through newspapers in the United Kingdom, is that all of this information should have been published in U.S. newspapers in time to make a difference–to inform the voting public–but was not. One can only speculate how corrupt our media have become–how beholden to their owners and advertisers–if we cannot get front page coverage of the Florida government’s disenfranchisement of over 50,000 predominantly black and democratic voters, prior to the presidential election; or of the raw attacks on our best interests by the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, and others linked in a “trigger” network where taking money from one demands all sorts of poverty-inducing and wealth theft conditions.

Even more timely are his stories about the current Administration continuing a practice of the former Administration, spiking, curtailing, forbidding intelligence investigations into Saudi Arabian government funding of bin Laden’s terrorism as well as Pakistani production of the “Islamic” atomic bomb.

His exposes of corporate misdeeds, some criminal, some simply unethical, all costing the U.S. taxpayer dearly, are shocking, in part because of their sleaziness, in part because our own newspapers do not dare to fulfill their role as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, of informing and educating the people of this Nation upon which the government depends for both its revenue and its legitimacy.

Although I take this book with a grain of salt (wondering, for example, why he did not ensure that Gore’s campaign had all that he could offer in time to challenge the vote disenfranchisement as part of the Supreme Court case), there is enough here, in very forthright and sensible terms, to give one hope that investigative journalism might yet play a role in protecting democracy and the future of the Republic.

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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: 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: The Hacker Crackdown–Law And Disorder On The Electronic Frontier

5 Star, Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Culture, Research, Information Society, Information Technology, Justice (Failure, Reform), Misinformation & Propaganda

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5.0 out of 5 stars Distingushed, Accurate, Superior to Government Story,

April 7, 2000
Bruce Sterling
This is one of three books I trust on hackers and hacking (Levy and Turkle are the other two trusted authors). Bruce, a very distinguished author in WIRED and science fiction circles, went to great lengths to investigate and understand what was happening between hackers exploring corporate systems, corporate security officials that were clueless and seeking scorched earth revenge, and Secret Service investigators that were equally clueless and willing to testify erroneously to judges that the hackers had caused grave damage to national security. Bruce is a true investigative journalist with a deep understanding of both technical and cultural matters, and I consider him superior to anyone in government on the facts of the matter.

Update of 31 May 08 to add links:
The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, Twentieth Anniversary Edition
Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
Information Payoff: The Transformation of Work in the Electronic Age
Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace (Helix Books)
The Unfinished Revolution: Human-Centered Computers and What They Can Do For Us
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

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