5.0 out of 5 stars Fundamental Primer on Real-World Security Challenges
August 29, 2000
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.
Ralph Peters, whom I know professionally, is a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia who has actually walked hundreds of miles through the worst of terrains, and deeply understands–at both a Ph.D. and gutter level, the reality of real war. The Joint Chiefs don’t want to face this reality because it bears no resemblance to their nice clean air-conditioned CNN version of war. Devil’s Garden is the real thing, and it is also a great novel.
“The Asymmetric Threat: Listening to the Debate,” published in the Winter 1998-1999 issue, is a concise summary of the Army Strategy Conference of 1998. Click on the icon below to read the summary of the Army Strategy Conference of 2008, which JFQ has declined to publish.