“Margin of Victory: Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern Warfare” by Douglas Macgregor. Naval Institute Press. 2016, Hardcover, 268 pages, $34.95.
“Margin of Victory” is about change, intelligently and soberly recognizing the need for that change regardless of preconceived notions and the consequences of failing to do so. Each of the conflicts analyzed by Macgregor, all seemingly unrelated at first glance, center on his repeated premise that victory will depend on lessons learned that will drive accepting change and implementing the hard decisions that must accompany transformation – notably in technology, people, strategy and organization. While history provides perspective that must be considered, holding on to outmoded concepts or failing to properly leverage what’s been learned will ultimately lead to decisive defeat.
The American Republic is out of balance — collapsing from poor governance and the triumph of special interests over the public interest. There are two root causes — the corruption of the US political process that disenfranchises sixty percent of the public and blocks Independents and small parties from ballot access, and a dysfunctional intelligence architecture that lacks integrity — as Henry Kissinger has observed, intelligence is not necessary to the exercise of power (as practiced by the elite-driven US national security state) and is often useless.
No one since President Ike Eisenhower and Project Solarium has ever attempted an official honest, comprehensive, and coherent formulation of a grand strategy that balances ends, means, and ways for all government functions, not only in the national security arena, where the military is consuming 60% of the disposable budget in 2015, but across the domestic front as well.
The People’s Army – the Continental Army rooted in home-spun militias – was formed and fought and won a war before the U.S. Constitution was written and signed in 1787. The Constitution – and the Republic – exist because the People’s Army, the Continental Army led by George Washington – leveraged the twin advantages of a righteous cause and home court to eject what was then the greatest imperial power on the planet. Of the 55 men attending the Constitutional Convention, at least 29 served in the Continental Army, most of them in positions of command. Understanding the relationship between the people from whom the early militias were drawn, the Army, and the Constitution, is essential to evaluating where we fall short today.
A Few Gems, Too Little, Too Late, Not a Grand Strategy and Not Global By Any Stretch of the Imagination
I was paying attention in 2009 when Wayne Porter and Mark Mykleby did their best for the Chairman, and was present when Brent Scowcroft, among others, listened to the Wilson Foundation “launch” of the book’s ideas in 2011. I also observed with interest as Patrick Doherty, then of the New America Foundation, tried to develop the ideas with one good meme — sustainability as the central concept – while suffering from arrogance, naivete, and shallow reading so very typical of the light-weight Washington “think tanks.” I bought this book because I think the original thinkers (Wayne Porter and Mark Mykleby) and their mentor (Mike Mullen) were on to something in 2009.
This book makes the jump from 5 stars (generally I don’t bother to review a book if it is not a four or five star read) to 6 stars — my top ten percent — because of the combination of Questions Asked, glorious color graphics, and the total holistic nature of the book — this is easily a PhD thesis in holistic analytics, true cost economics, and open source everything engineering. Indeed, this book could be used as a first-year reference across any humanities and science domain, they would be the better for it.
By Patrick Porter Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2015
Reviewed by Steven Metz, Director of Research at the US Army War College
The Global Village Myth is short, tightly-argued body blow to contemporary American security policy. In it Patrick Porter takes on an important but often overlooked aspect of strategy-physical distance- and critiques the popular notion that technology has diminished its importance or even rendered it irrelevant. This is a seemingly simple idea with big implications.
Admiral James Stavridis is the finest naval officer of a generation and almost parenthetically a magnificently gifted writer. This memoir, his second, is an incredibly incisive book packed with meaning, history, and introspection. Published just after his retirement from active duty and taking the helm of The Fletcher School, THE ACCIDENTAL ADMIRAL is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the challenges and struggles of modern statecraft from a distinctly military vantage.
The Open-Source Everything Manifesto is a distillation of author, strategist, analyst, and reformer Robert David Steele life’s work: the transition from top-down secret command and control to a world of bottom-up, consensual, collective decision-making as a means to solve the major crises facing our world today.
The book is intended to be a catalyst for citizen dialog and deliberation, and for inspiring the continued evolution of a nation in which all citizens realize our shared aspiration of direct democracy—informed participatory democracy. Open-Source Everything is a cultural and philosophical concept that is essential to creating a prosperous world at peace, a world that works for one hundred percent of humanity.
The future of intelligence is not secret, not federal, and not expensive. It is about transparency, truth, and trust among our local to global collective. Only “open” is scalable.
As we strive to recover from the closed world corruption and secrecy that has enabled massive fraud within governments, banks, corporations, and even non-profits and universities, this timely book is a manifesto for liberation—not just open technology, but open everything.
The term Open Source refers to universal access to a product or services core design or primary features. Without Open Source there would be no Internet in the way that we currently enjoy it for it is in digital publishing and information sharing that Open Source has been such a powerful force for change.
In ‘Dynamics Among Nations’, Professor Hilton Root convincingly challenges the propositions of the liberal international consensus and re-frames the prevailing conceptualisation of development by introducing complexity thinking to the fields of political economy and international relations.
I highly recommend this intellectually stimulating and excellently written book to decision makers, researchers and students – as well as to anyone who is interested in gaining an advanced and well-informed understanding of the complex realities of development and global policy.
5.0 out of 5 starsGreatest Book Ever — But Misses the Core Point, March 14, 2014
I love this book — absolutely required reading the war colleges as well as the civil service colleges. Perhaps its greatest value is in setting the stage for professionals to refuse illegal orders and begin the long hard process of ending the corruption of our Western elites, particularly those in the US and UK. The author is to be saluted for correcting Samuel Huntington’s various mistakes of interpretation, and for generally finding a place for moral generals in the larger scheme of things.
HOWEVER the book misses the core point underlying modern war, which is that the imperial powers do not fight wars to win anything in particular, but rather to “use up” their militaries, reduce their population of angry young men, and foster opportunities for corruption among the elite and their particular servants (e.g. CIA revitalizing the Golden Triangle around Viet-Nam, and Afghan poppy production for Wall Street liquidity).
These are listed in order of their most recent publication rather than their original publication dates as Amazon has never understood the value of including first edition dates. Dave Buck merits huge appreciation for having instigated a movement to place many of Buckminster Fuller’s works back into a visible platform such as Amazon provides….and reasonably priced as well — each of these is a public treasure. We have added, below the line, books related to Buckminster Fuller, by others. We strongly recommend use of the reviews before making any purchase.
The twenty-first century has seen a rise in the global middle class that brings an unprecedented convergence of interests and perceptions, cultures and values. Kishore Mahbubani is optimistic. We are creating a new global civilization. Eighty-eight percent of the world’s population outside the West is rising to Western living standards, and sharing Western aspirations. Yet Mahbubani, one of the most perceptive global commentators, also warns that a new global order needs new policies and attitudes.
Policymakers all over the world must change their preconceptions and accept that we live in one world. National interests must be balanced with global interests. Power must be shared. The U.S. and Europe must cede some power. China and India, Africa and the Islamic world must be integrated. Mahbubani urges that only through these actions can we create a world that converges benignly. This timely book explains how to move forward and confront many pressing global challenges.
Political genius is never without controversy, or without mystery. This is what makes it so interesting and so rare. Is Lee Kuan Yew the feral, authoritarian figure that Western critics claim? Or a stoic pioneer in new approaches to developing a nation—uncorrupt, modern, almost scientific?American journalist Tom Plate first interviewed the founder of modern Singapore in 1996 in a continuing back-and-forth with LKY that led to the summer of 2009, when the former prime minister agreed to sit down for two days of unprecedentedly informal but intense conversations that led to this special book. This new edition includes fascinating excerpts from prior interviews, as well as the author’s assessment of the man who goes down in history as the world’s longest-serving prime minister—and as one of the most unforgettable political figures of modern times.
Less than a decade after Washington endorsed a fraudulent case for invading Iraq, similarly misinformed and politically motivated claims are pushing America toward war with Iran. Challenging the daily clamor of U.S. saber rattling, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett argue that America should renounce thirty years of failed strategy and engage with Iran—just as Nixon revolutionized U.S. foreign policy by going to Beijing and realigning relations with China.
In Going to Tehran, former analysts in both the Bush and Clinton administrations, the Leveretts offer a uniquely informed account of Iran as it actually is today, not as many have caricatured it or wished it to be. They show that Iran’s political order is not on the verge of collapse, that most Iranians still support the Islamic Republic, and that Iran’s regional influence makes it critical to progress in the Middle East. Drawing on years of research and access to high-level officials, the Leveretts’ indispensable work makes it clear that America must “go to Tehran” if it is to avert strategic catastrophe.
Andrew Bacevich’s latest offering, BREACH OF TRUST, is going to make a lot of people squirm – if people read it, that is. Because in this book he tells us flat out that an all-volunteer army in a democratic society simply does not work, and that the present system is “broken.” It is bankrupting our country, and not just financially, but morally. He tells us that Iraq and Afghanistan, two of the longest and most expensive wars in U.S. history, have evoked little more than “an attitude of cordial indifference” on the part of a shallow and selfish populace more concerned with the latest doings of the Kardashians, professional superstar athletes or other vapid and overpaid millionaire celebrities, reflecting “a culture that is moored to nothing more than irreverent whimsy and jeering ridicule.”
Bacevich cites General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, who spoke about having “skin in the game,” meaning that when a country goes to war every town and city should be at risk. McChrystal went on to say the unthinkable: “I think we’d be better if we actually went to a draft these days … for the nation it would be a better course.”
Horrors! That dreaded “D” word finally uttered aloud. Well, I’d say it’s about damn time. And Bacevich agrees, noting that in his many speaking engagements over the past ten years “I can count on one hand the number of occasions when someone did NOT pose a question about the draft, invariably offered as a suggestion for how to curb Washington’s appetite for intervention abroad and establish some semblance of political accountability.”