Review: Environmental Security and Global Stability–Problems and Responses

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Complexity & Resilience, Environment (Problems), Environment (Solutions), Security (Including Immigration), Strategy

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5.0 out of 5 stars

May be “Ref A” for New National Security Focus,

May 24, 2003
Dr. Col Max Manwaring
Vice Admiral Paul G. Gaffney II
This book is very original and very helpful in exploring an area of national security conceptualization and doctrine that has been long neglected–that of the relationship between environmental security and stability, and all the bad things that happen when this is lost–ultimately causing poverty, mass migrations, disease, crime, and war.The contributing editor, Dr. Max Manwaring (Col USA Ret) uses an interview with General Anthony Zinni, then Commander-in-Chief of the Central Command, to examine key issues such as the desperate need for inter-agency coordination and information sharing, the looming catastrophic problems with rain forests, seabed resources, and inland water scarcity, ending with the urgent need for a national security “game plan” for dealing with this non-traditional threat over time and across all nations including the 32 failed states where many of the problems will not be addressed without outside intervention.

All eight of the chapters, the last being a conclusion by the contributing editor, make provocative, documented cases for the urgency of this non-traditional threat. Throughout the book it is clear that the US Department of Defense has some extremely bright uniformed and retired (teaching) officers who are thinking great thoughts, and it is equally clear that they are not being listened to. This book is probably ten years ahead of its time, and it will be ten years before this book is read and understood by a Secretary of Defense (or ten years before someone reading the book today will be eligible for that position).

I recommend this book be read together with Andrew Price-Smith’s book on “The Health of Nations” (on re-emerging infectuous diseases), Laurie Garrett’s book “Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health”, Marq de Villiers’ book “WATER: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource”, David Helvarg’s “BLUE FRONTIER: Saving America’s Living Seas,” and Brian Czech’s “Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train” (on errant economists and shameful spenders).

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Review: The Fifty Year Wound–The True Price of America’s Cold War Victory

6 Star Top 10%, Atrocities & Genocide, Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Crime (Government), Diplomacy, Environment (Problems), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Force Structure (Military), History, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Security (Including Immigration), True Cost & Toxicity, Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Sanity–Hard Look at Cost of Cold War,

December 1, 2002
Derek Leebaert
This is an extraordinary book, in part because it forces us to confront the “hangover” effects of the Cold War as we begin an uncertain path into the post 9-11 future. It begins by emphasizing that the Cold War glorified certain types of institutions, personalities, and attitudes, and ends by pointing out that we paid a very heavy cost–much as General and President Eisenhower tried to warn us–in permitting our society to be bound by weaponry, ideology, and secrecy.Two quotes, one from the beginning, one from the end, capture all that lies in between, well-documented and I would add–contrary to some opinions–coherent and understandable.

“For the United States, the price of victory goes far beyond the dollars spend on warheads, foreign aid, soldiers, propaganda, and intelligence. It includes, for instance, time wasted, talent misdirected, secrecy imposed, and confidence impaired. Particular costs were imposed on industry, science, and the universities. Trade was distorted and growth impeded.” (page xi)

“CIA world-order men whose intrigues more often than not started at the incompetent and went down from there, White House claims of ‘national security’ to conceal deceit, and the creation of huge special interests in archaic spending all too easily occurred because most Americans were not preoccupied with the struggle.” (page 643)

Although the author did not consult the most recent intelligence reform books (e.g. Berkowitz, Johnson, Treverton, inter alia), he is consistently detailed and scathing in his review of intelligence blunders and the costs of secrecy–in this he appears to very ably collaborate the findings of Daniel Ellsberg’s more narrowly focused book on “SECRETS: A Memoire of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.” He points out, among many many examples, that despite Andropov’s having been head of the KGB for fifteen years, at the end of it CIA still did not know if Andropov has a wife or spoke English. He also has a lovely contrast between how little was learned using very expensive national technical means (secret satellites) and open sources: “So much failure could have been avoided if CIA has done more careful homework during the 1950s in the run-up to Sputnik; during the 1960s, when Sovieet marshals were openly publishing their thoughts on nuclear strategy; or during the 1970s and 1980s, when stagnation could be chronicled in the unclassified gray pages of Soviet print. Most expensively, the CIA hardly ever learned anything from its mistakes, largely because it would not admit them.” (pages 567-568).

The author’s biographic information does not include any reference to military service, but footnote 110 suggests that he was at least in Officer Candidate School with the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam era. The biography, limited to the inside back jacket flap, also avoids discussing the author’s considerable experience with information technology. Given the importance of this critique of all that most Republicans and most 50-70 year olds hold very sacred, we need to more about the man goring the ox. Future editions should have a much expanded biography.

Bottom line: America muddled through the Cold War, made many costly mistakes, and developed a policy-making process that is, to this day, largely uninformed due to a lack of a comprehensive global intelligence capability, or a sufficient means of consulting diverse experts (as opposed to the in-town intellectual harlots). If ever we needed a clean-sheet look at how we make policy and how we provide decision-support to that policy process, this is the time. The “fifty-year wound” is still open, and the author warns us it will not heal without a reappraisal of how we do the business of national security.

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Review: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace – How We Got to Be So Hated

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Atrocities & Genocide, Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Economics, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Force Structure (Military), Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Philosophy, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Religion & Politics of Religion, Science & Politics of Science, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Security (Including Immigration), Strategy, Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity
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Gore Vidal

5.0 out of 5 stars You Get the Government You Deserve…., May 28, 2002

This book should be read in conjunction with Greg Palast’s The Best Democracy Money Can Buy Vidal’s book should be subtitled “you get the government you deserve.”

I cannot think of a book that has depressed me more. There are three underlying issues that make this book vitally important to anyone who cares to claim the title of “citizen:”

1) Citizens need to understand what their government is doing in the name of America, to the rest of the world. “Ignorance is not an excuse.” All of the other books I have reviewed (“see more about me” should really say “see my other reviews”) are designed to help citizens evaluate and then vote wisely in relation to how our elected representatives are handling national security affairs–really, really badly.

Continue reading “Review: Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace – How We Got to Be So Hated”

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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1997 USIP Conference on Virtual Diplomacy Virtual Intelligence: Conflict Avoidance and Resolution through Information Peacekeeping

Articles & Chapters, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Security (Including Immigration), Stabilization & Reconstruction, Truth & Reconciliation, United Nations & NGOs, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle
Virtual Intelligence
Virtual Intelligence

See the formally published version:

1999 Virtual Intelligence: Conflict Avoidance and Resolution through Information Peacekeeping (Journal of Conflict Resolution, Spring 1999)