Review: Constructing Cassandra – Reframing Intelligence Failure at the CIA, 1947-2001

5 Star, Intelligence (Government/Secret)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Milo Jones and Philippe Silberzahn

5.0 out of 5 stars Charming, Recommended for Students, August 20, 2014

I found this book, a gift, to be charming and useful. It should certainly be used as a textbook at the national intelligence university and other mainstream schools. I consider this book a hybrid, one that integrates an outsider application of a social constructivist perspective, with an appreciation for selected insider sources who were ostracized at the time but ultimately proven correct when the agency they sought to serve was proven wrong.

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Review: Still Ours to Lead – America, Rising Powers, and the Tension Between Rivalry and Restraint

4 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Atlases & State of the World, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Bruce Jones

4.0 out of 5 stars One Third Provocative, One Third Delusional, One Third Ignorant, March 22, 2014

I was given this book as a gift, by someone who knew I can recite from memory the ten high level threats to humanity (as identified and prioritized by the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, and reported out in A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which is also available free online as a PDF.

My first impressions were negative. On a second pass I found more to appreciate, but the most compelling impression I was left with is that Obama is Bush and the Brookings Institution has lost its moral and intellectual compass.

One Third Provocative

To the extent that good is to be found in the two-terms of the ObamaBiden Administration, this book serves as a fine guide. I wondered more than once which foreign policy position the author was applying for appointment to. Sadly, what the author offers in the way of positive must be construed by any realist grounded in international reality as a second application of lipstick on the pig, the first being when the neo-conswervatives and Wall Street successfully trotted Obama out as the savior of the two-party tyranny. [I credit the term to Theresa Amato's Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny — it is not possible to be a serious observer of American idiocy without first understanding that there is no real difference between the extremists of the right and the extremists of the left — they are both toxic.

One Third Delusional

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Review: Rebuild the Dream

4 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Banks, Fed, Money, & Concentrated Wealth, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Civil Society, Complexity & Catastrophe, Congress (Failure, Reform), Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform)
Amazon Page

Van Jones

4.0 out of 5 stars Oblivious to the Insanity of the Two-Party Tyranny, But Worth Digesting, July 1, 2012

This is one of two books I read on the plane to DC from Seattle, the other being Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy.

Part I for me is largely a waste of time. The author is — in my view of course — delusional on Obama's success and at face value completely unwitting or unphased by the depth and breadth of the progressive betrayal of Obama aka Bush III. The author is also high on Al Gore — along with 9/11 and the root corruption of Congress that made our economic collapse inevitable this is one of my litmus tests. Al Gore took the bribe, rolled over and played dead despite the three months notice by Greg Palast of The Observer (later published in book form as The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. On the Republican side, I hold Colin Powell and George Tenet accountable for betraying the public trust, allowing Dick Cheney to take America to war on the basis of 925 now documented (Truth.dig) lies. There are no winners — no paragons of virtue — in either party, and I specifically include Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich has false flags, never really being willing to leave their warm embrace of their chosen tyranny.

Part II is slightly interesting is you do not read a great deal, a rehash of heart space, head space, the American story, and swarm theory. The rest of us call it collective intelligence, cognitive surplus, human scale, etcetera. Books to read here, vastly more detailed that the author's light once over, include Tom Atlee's The Tao of Democracy: Using co-intelligence to create a world that works for all, Jim Rough's Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People, Barbara Marx Hubbard's Conscious Evolution: Awakening Our Social Potential and so many others that I have reviewed here at Amazon–and the many more I have not.

Part III begins to return value, and I certainly agree with the author's early articulation that “America is still the best idea in the world,” but I find him hypocritical or oblivious in the extreme to completely ignore all of the broken promises, the role of money, the loss of integrity across every pillar of society.

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Penguin: Truth Tellers versus Triumph of the Lie

03 Economy, Blog Wisdom, Budgets & Funding, Civil Society, Collective Intelligence, Commerce, Commercial Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence, Ethics, IO Sense-Making, Money, Banks & Concentrated Wealth
Who, Me?

Found this while browing, in comments to Robert Ringer's Triumph of the Lie, itself worth reading.

Doug Casey  .. Douglas “Doug” Casey is an American-born free market economist, best-selling financial author, and international investor and entrepreneur.

Gerald Celente  .. Gerald Celente is an American trend forecaster, publisher of the Trends Journal, business consultant and author who makes predictions about the global financial markets and other events of historical importance.

Bob Chapman  ..  Bob Chapman publishes International Forecaster, and brings to bear a lifetime of trading experience in gold and silver.

Bill Fleckenstein  .. William A. Fleckenstein is president of Fleckenstein Capital, a money management firm based in Seattle. He writes a daily Market Rap column for his Web site,, as well as the popular column Contrarian Chronicles for MSN Money.

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Review: Power & Responsibility–Building International Order in an Era of Transnational Threat

4 Star, Diplomacy, Disaster Relief, Environment (Problems), Humanitarian Assistance, Stabilization & Reconstruction, Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), United Nations & NGOs
Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars Bubba Book

January 6, 2010

Bruce Jones, Carlos Pascual, Stephen John Stedman

EDIT of 7 Jan 09.  I got halfway through another book last night and now understand the Princeton-based idea that the US has enough power to demand changes and that earlier “balance of power” constraints might not apply.  On the one hand, this is an idea worth pursuing, but if you know nothing of strategy, intelligence (decision-support) and how to integrate Whole of Government and Multinational Engagement campaigns against the ten threats by harmonizing the twelve policies and engaging the eight demographic leaders, then this is just academic blabber.  On the other hand, this is 100% on the money–if the USA were a Smart Nation with an honest government, now is the time to lead–but it's not going to come out of the ivory tower or politicals in waiting for their next job, it will come from the bottom (Epoch B), the poor, and the eight demographic powers (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Wild Cards such as South Africa, Thailan, and Turkey, with the Nordics and BENELUX always lurking positively on the fringes.

Original review:

I tried hard to find enough in this book to warrant five stars, but between the pedestrian threats, buying in blindly to the climate change fraud, assertions such as “There is no prospect for international stability and prosperity in the next twenty years that does not rest on U.S. power and leadership,” and the general obliviousness of the authors to multiple literatures highly relevant to their ostensible objective of answering the question “how do we organize our globalized world,” this has to stay a four. It has some worthwhile bits that I itemize below, but on balance this is an annoying book, part cursory overview, part grand-standing proposals for new organizations, and part job application–at least one of these authors wants to be the first High Commissioner for Counter-Terrorism.

Although the authors are familiar with A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which was published in 2004, this book does not resonate with the ten priorities set forth there, in this order:

01 Poverty
02 Infectious Disease
03 Environmental Degradation
04 Inter-State Conflict
05 Civil War
06 Genocide
07 Other Atrocities
08 Proliferation
09 Terrorism
10 Transnational Crime

Had the author's actually sought to tailor their suggestions to the above elegant threat architecture, this could have been a much more rewarding book. As it is, it strikes me as a book written around a few ideas:

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Journal: The Demise of Strategy in the US Government

Capstone Summary
Capstone Summary

Quite fortuitously, the Strategic Studies Institute has placed in the public domain a superb monograph by Justic Kelly and Mike Brennan on ALIEN: How Operational Art Devoured Strategy (september 2009).

It is a very good read, along with our summary of the failed 2008 Whole of Government conference that SSI sponsored, which followed the failed 1998 Strategy Revision conference–failed for not being heard.

We were all right then, we are still right now, but unless General James Jones, USMC gets himself a deputy that is grounded in strategy & integrity, this Administration is toast, in part because there is NO DIFFERENCE among the apparatchiks that trade places within the two-party system.  They ae ALL out of touch with strategy, and hence reality.

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Journal: Integrity, Afghanistan, & The White House

02 Diplomacy, 05 Civil War, 08 Wild Cards, 10 Security, Ethics, Military, Peace Intelligence


Robert Haddock
Robert Haddock

This Week at War: America's Last Counterinsurgent?

McChrystal report unwittingly slays counterinsurgency doctrine

September 25, 2009

Robert Haddock

This summer the U.S. government has faced a deteriorating crisis in Afghanistan. Such crises tend to force policymakers to face up to the facile assumptions they have previously made. Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s report to his civilian masters on the faltering counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan has caused President Barack Obama and his advisers to face up to their basic assumptions about U.S. objectives and strategies for perhaps the first time. Obama and his team seem very likely to conclude from this long overdue examination of first principles that it will be impractical for the U.S. to successfully implement a counterinsurgency campaign plan in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s assessment has unwittingly tossed the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency field manual into the shredder. McChrystal’s report is brutally honest about the troubles in Afghanistan.

Click on title above for complete article, below for Phi Beta Iota comment and links to three “fix” pieces.

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