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.

Continue reading “Journal: The Demise of Strategy in the US Government”

Journal: Ralph Peters on The Rules Murdering Our Troops

05 Civil War, 10 Security, Military, Policy, Reform, Strategy
Marine Barracks Today
Marine Barracks Today

Over 200 Marines died in the barracks by the beach in Beirut, in their sleep, because the White House failed to understand that the strategic situation had changed; because chicken hawk staff approved the launching of battleship salvos (think really pissed-off Volkswagons in flight) that certified the US was “taking sides” rather than seeking to preserve the peace;  and because the “rules of engagement” imposed on Colonel of Marines Tim Gerrity required that his Marines not have rounds in the chambers and not fire as approaching vehicles that failed to stop–at the same time, intelligence sucked then as it sucks now.

The photos are our own, from Beirut in August 2007.  We grieve for our Marines, who sought to serve their country while being used as an expendible tool by the White House.  Today the same thing is happening in Afghanistan and Ralph Peters has unleashed his own volley against the insanity of asking our troops to allow themselves to be killed whenever a civilian is in the area.  Click on the collage for today’s deja vu.

Journal: Afghanistan–Connecting the Dots

10 Security, Military, Strategy

2001: What to do about Afghanistan?  Prospects for Stability

2008: Memo Leak Says Mission In Afghanistan Doomed

Meet the Afghan Army: Is it a figment of Washington’s imagination? by Ann Jones

Afghan agony: More troops won’t help by Ralph Peters in the NY Post

Time to Get Out of Afghanistan By George F. Will Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Review: Seeds of Terror–How Heroin Is Bankrolling the Taliban and al Qaeda

4 Star, Insurgency & Revolution

Seeds of TerrorStops where we need to start: USG and US Bank Complicity, June 9, 2009

Gretchen Peters

The ultimate cold call was made by the head of the SEC who went to Colombia to meet the FARC leadership and urge them to invest their drug money with Wall Street.

The Los Angeles crack cocaine plague was fueled by Blandon, a Nicaraguan contra drug dealer protected by CIA and DEA while Ricky Ross paid for being the street-level entrepreneur.

OF COURSE the top leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan are major drug dealers–their political US Government counterparts are in on the deal and the bureaucrats go along.

This is a GREAT book and the kind of investigative journalism melded with academic research that we no longer do as a Nation, so kudos for that. However meritorious, it joins other similar books from the past and does not address the core brackets: the money provided by the US Government to Pakistan in the 1980’s, and the money laundering and cash liquidity that Wall Street enjoyed in the 1990’s in large part because of its close alliance with global drug dealers, arms merchants, and traders in women and children as well as 40+ dictators happy to loot their commonwealths while pretending to support our “war on terror” with rendition and torture.

Until the US Government itself has integrity, and imposes integrity on Wall Street, this book is a superb account that will go absolutely nowhere in terms of impacting on the problem. WE are the problem in so far as we persist in lying to the American people about all that we do, and do not do, in their name.

See also–I am limited to ten links:
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders Into Insiders
Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’
The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA
War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier
Club Fed Power, Money, Sex, and Violence on Capitol Hill
The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters
Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography)

Note: the annotated bibliography in the latter book, free online, covers 500+ non-fiction books, each with a link to my summary review. The URL is

Review: Looking For Trouble–Adventures in a Broken World

5 Star, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Force Structure (Military), Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Intelligence (Public), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Security (Including Immigration), War & Face of Battle

Peters TroiubleWhat Humans Knew in 1990’s That Secret Mandarins Refused to Hear, June 28, 2008

Ralph Peters

This book is not, as some might expect, a collection of past Op-Eds, but rather an extraordinary retrospective at the 1989-1996 time frame when officers like Ralph (and General Al Gray, myself, and a number of others in the Army and the Marines) were seeing the writing on the wall: the end of big war and the emergence of global instability in every clime and place). Ralph actually walked the ground and had “eyes on.”

I was immediately charmed anew by the poetic writing and the visually elegant turns of phrase. I have in my notes: chuckled, amused, reminded.

This review is going to combine my fly leaf notes with as many short quotes as I can fit in within my 1,000 word allotment.

Notes first:

Deep reading of Tolstoy and others set the stage for *understanding* today’s culture and mindset in Russia. Earlier in his life, a subscription gift from an aunt to National Geographic opened his eyes to the rest of the world.

Early on, disdain for how we spend billions on satellites and nothing on officers walking the ground. He notes that overt human intelligence can absorb and articulate what no satellite can provide: “the temper of the people, the taste of the land.”

USSR in 1991 was potholes and rust. In his “walk-about” he gained direct invited access to an MVD commander’s office, to all of the local “secret” messages, and had invited “eyes on” the MVD special intelligence communications room.

In the Bosnia-Kosovo run-up, which he and others anticipated, he learned that Europe cannot be trusted to act in unison or decisively in the absence of strong US leadership–France, Germany, and the United Kingdom all revert to their historical animosities, and despite their large standing armies, lack the political will or the deep strategic analytics necessary to use those armies in a coherent manner.

His respect for Armenia is deeply rooted in his on the ground experience among them.

Col Stu Herrington, whose book Traitors Among Us: Inside the Spy Catcher’s World I have praised, is strongly praised in this book. He and the author were part of a team that worked with the Russians to address the long-standing concern over Americans being held in the Gulag, and the pages in this book, covering each of the wars from World War II onwards, are a complete surprise and essential reading for anyone interested in POW/MIA accounting.

He blasts the US policy of crop eradication, and his devastating criticism of arm-chair politicians and ivory tower diplomats warms my heart.

Late in the book he focused on Pakistan and I find this chapter especially vital for the public understanding of how the US is destroying its once-close ties to the Pakistani officer corps. The older officers are fully trained by the British or the US. The company and field grade officers are not, and are so delusional about Islam and so ignorant about the rest of the world as to be very dangerous to us.

Throughout the book he laments the lot of women across most Islamic countries (with Indonesia and Malaysia as notable exceptions; I add this from my own knowledge and Ralph’s official report to the Marine Corps in the 1990’s).

Now the quotes. Page number, then words:

8 On [the Russian and Central Asian] frontiers, humanity is a brotherhood of smugglers.

29 Only its women allowed the Soviet Union to endure as long as it did.

38 …I am convinced there is no Russian word for maintenance.

45 …worry too much about dead facts and too little about their antagonist’s delusions.

66 Artist and intelligence challenges similar: an eye for detail and ability to reduce complexity to coherence

73 …no one in the US intelligence community was interested. If the data didn’t come from a satellite, it didn’t count.

87 What Belgrade lacked … was human dignity.

108 I knew we could overpower [Iraqi] military….I had seen…his officer corps…drunk and whoring.

132 Conquest of Central Asia is a chronicle of…cruelty….Soviets are the champs….[others] tortured human beings. The Soviet Union tortured the earth itself.

141 Bukhara is where Islam turned dark…

146 The Clinton Administration was run by intolerant dreamers… With neither self-critical faculties nor experience of the world …

151 Islam froze by the mid-fifteenth century when science-fearing zealots….

172 And there you have our diplomats. Unwilling to talk to our enemies… Unwilling to learn.

200 Azerbaijan was the first place where I got n inside look at the nastiness of our Saudi “friends.”

204 Everywhere, the Saudis took an interest in human suffering only if it offered them an entry point for missionary activities. And any Muslim who wouldn’t sign up for … Wahhabi Puritanism was welcome to die.

218 …the callousness with which our government had treated the family members of our MIAs…

231 [General McCaffrey] wasn’t getting an adequate tie-it-all-together picture of the cocaine problem. Not from his staff, and not from the alphabet-soup agencies…

239 You cannot take away the livelihood of the poor [coca crops] unless you have the wherewithal to replace it immediately and enduringly.

244 Found wealth, when immature countries…hit the natural-resources lottery, is uniformly destructive of the souls of men and nations.

251 [Army saw the future coming.] It was impossible, however, to persuade the Clinton White House, the intelligence establishment, or even our own services (except for the Marines) that our enemies, rather than our desires, would shape the future security environment.

319 [Drug Czar] was not allowed to differentiate between hard and soft drugs.

335 [At the Plain of Jars] I saw my country’s dark side….we go mad now and then. And when we do, we leave desolation behind.

This is an amazing book and for anyone who is concerned with strategic warning, honest intelligence, strategy, force structure, the need to rebalance the instruments of national power, and the future of humanity, will find this book inspiring.

E Veritate Potens–From Truth, We the People Are Empowered

See also:
Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the 21st Century
Robert Young Pelton’s The World’s Most Dangerous Places: 5th Edition (Robert Young Pelton the World’s Most Dangerous Places)
The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War
The Warning Solution : Intelligent Analysis in the Age of Information Overload
None So Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam
On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World
The New Craft of Intelligence: Personal, Public, & Political–Citizen’s Action Handbook for Fighting Terrorism, Genocide, Disease, Toxic Bombs, & Corruption
Information Operations: All Information, All Languages, All the Time
THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest

Review: Wars of Blood and Faith–The Conflicts That Will Shape the 21st Century

5 Star, America (Anti-America), Asymmetric, Cyber, Hacking, Odd War, Civil Affairs, Country/Regional, Culture, DVD - Light, Diplomacy, Force Structure (Military), Future, Geography & Mapping, History, Insurgency & Revolution, Intelligence (Government/Secret), Military & Pentagon Power, Misinformation & Propaganda, Religion & Politics of Religion, Security (Including Immigration), Terrorism & Jihad, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, War & Face of Battle

Blood and Faith5.0 out of 5 stars You Can Read This More Than Once, and Learn Each Time

July 22, 2007

Ralph Peters

Ralph Peters is one of a handful of individuals whose every work I must read. See some others I recommend at the end of this review. Ralph stands alone as a warrior-philosopher who actually walks the trail, reads the sign, and offers up ground truth.

This book is deep look at the nuances and the dangers of what he calls the wars of blood and faith. The introduction is superb, and frames the book by highlighting these core matters:

* Washington has forgotten how to think.
* The age of ideology is over. Ethnic identity will rule.
* Globalization has contradictory effects. Internet spreads hatred and dangerous knowledge (e.g. how to make an improvised explosive device).
* The post-colonial era has begun.
* Women’s freedom is the defining issue of our time.
* There is no way to wage a bloodless war.
* The media can now determine the war’s outcome. I don’t agree with the author on everything, this is one such case. If the government does not lie, the cause is just, and the endeavor is effectively managed, We the People can be steadfast.

A couple of expansions. I recently posted a list of the top ten timeless books at the request of a Stanford ’09, and i7 includes Philip Allott’s The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State. Deeper in the book the author has an item on Blood Borders, and it tallies perfectly with Allott’s erudite view that the Treaty of Westphalia was a huge mistake–instead of creating artificial states (5000 distinct ethnic groups crammed into 189+ artificial political entities) we should have gone instead with Peoples and especially Indigenous Peoples whose lands and resources could not be stolen, only negotiated for peacefully. Had the USA not squandered a half trillion dollars and so many lives and so much good will, a global truth and reconciliation commission, combined with a free cell phone to every woman among the five billion poor (see next paragraph) could conceivably have achieved a peaceful reinvigoration of the planet with liberty and justice for peoples rather than power and wealth for a handful.

The author’s views on the importance of women stem from decades of observation and are supported by Michael O’Hanlon’s book, A Half Penny on the Federal Dollar: The Future of Development Aid, in which he documents that the single best return on investment for any dollar is in the education of women. They tend to be secular, appreciate sanitation and nutrition and moderation in all things. The men are more sober, responsible, and productive when their women are educated. THIS, not unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory immoral capitalism, should be the heart of our foreign policy.

The book is organized into sections I was not expecting but that both make sense, and add to the whole. Part I is 17 short pieces addressing the Twenty-First Century Military. Here the author focuses on the strategic, lambastes Rumsfeld for not listening, and generally overlooks the fact that all our generals and admirals failed to be loyal to the Constitution and instead accepted illegal orders based on lies.

In Part II, Iraq and Its Neighbors, we have 24 pieces. The best piece by far in terms of provocative strategic value is “Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look.” Curiously he does not address Syria or Lebanon, but I expect he will since the Syrians just evacuated Lebanon and Syria and Iran appear to be planning for a pincer movement on Baghdad after they cut the ground supply line from Kuwait.

A handful of pieces, 5 in all, are grouped in Part III, The Home Front. The best two for me were “Our Strategic Intelligence Problem” in which he points out that more money and more technology are NOT going to make us smarter, it is humans with history, culture, language, and eyes on the target that will tease out the nuances no satellite can handle. He also points out how easily our satellites are deceived. I share his anguish in the piece on “Lynching the Marines.” I called and emailed the Colonel at HQMC in charge of the defense, and offered a heat stress defense that I had just learned about from a NASA engineer helping firefighters. If the body gets too hot, the brain starts to fry, and irrational behavior is the norm. The Colonel declined to acknowledge. That told me all I needed to know about how the Marines were all too eager to hang their own.

Part V was the most unfamiliar to me, covering Israel and Hezbollah. In 17 pieces, the author, an avowed supporter of Israel, pulls no punches, tarring and feathering the Israelis for being corrupt (selling off their military supplies on the black market (to whom, one wonders, since the only people in the market are terrorists?) confident the US will resupply them) and militarily and politically incompetent. To which I would add economically stupid and morally challenged–Stealing 50% of the water Israel uses to do farming that is under 5% of the GDP is both nuts and short-sighted. See the brief by Chuck Spinney at OSS.Net.

Part V, The World Beyond, is a philosophical tour of the horizon, from water wars and plagues (see my lists for books on each of the ten threats, twelve policies, and eight challengers), to precision knifing of Russia, France, and Europe. Darfur, one of over 15 genocides being ignored right now (Darfur because Sudan pretends to be helping on terrorism and the US does not have the will or the means to be effective there) is touched on.

The book ends marvelously with a piece on “The Return of the Tribes,” a piece that emphasizes the role of religion and the exclusivity of cults and specific localized tribes. They don’t want to be integrated nor do they want new members.

Robert Young Pelton’s The World’s Most Dangerous Places: 5th Edition (Robert Young Pelton the World’s Most Dangerous Places)
Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
Deliver Us from Evil: Peacekeepers, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict With a New Introduction by the Author
Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy

Vote on Review
Vote on Review

Journal: Worth a Look–the Echo Chamber Project

Collaboration Zones, Communities of Practice, Historic Contributions, Methods & Process, Reform, Technologies
Kent Bye
Kent Bye

Echo Chamber Project: Interviews at OSS ’06

Praise for this effort

Submitted by Robert David Steele (not verified) on Sat, 2006-03-11 18:48.
I have never, in 18 years of OSINT advocacy, seen a more professional and intelligent endeavor to understand and report on what we are trying to do. This is absolutely world-class, and my admiration is unbounded. This creative individual has a lifetime free pass to our conferences. His technical, legal, and people skills are of the highest order.
+ + + + + + +
Kent’s photo links to the ten video interviews he did at OSS ’06, the last conference before it was stolen and consequently destroyed  by an individual that broke his promise (one of several) and is fortuitously no longer responsible for anything of significance. All of the interviews are recommended, but then Congressman Simmons, now running for Senator in place of Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticutt, is especially noteworthy.  No one in government has, in the twenty one years we have been fighting this fight, gotten a better grip not just on the idea of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) as a separate discipline, but on OSINT as a means of revitalizing American education, improving decision-support to every Congressional jurisdiction (most get NOTHING from the secret intelligence world), and helping the President and the Cabinet Secretaries manage Whole of Govenrment Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Operational Campaigns.
Among those interviewed that we hold in very high esteem are Michael Andregg, Carolyn Stewart, Mats Bjore, Ralph Peters, Robert Young Pelton, Stephen E. Arnold, and Peter Morville.  There is also an interview with Robert Steele, who is not tagged within this website.
Below is a direct link to Kent Bye and a collage of clips from each of the people he interviewed.  We consider this the single best most brilliant piece of citizen journalism on the concept of OSINT.
Overview Video
Overview Video
Below are the currently available links for audio only for all those interviewed:

Michael Andregg on Secrecy and Insanity

Stephen E Arnold on Technology

Mats Bjore on Globalization

Peter Morville on Ambient Findability

Robert Young Pelton on Hearing all Sides

Ralph Peters on Wars of Blood and Faith

Rob Simmons on the Big Picture for America

Robert Steele on Washington Running on 2%

Carolyn Stewart on Information Operations

Below links directly to the Simmons interview, use the photograph link above to select any of the others.  NOTE: the video portion appears to have been disabled for all of them, you get audio only right now, we are working on this with Kent, it is vastly better to see these individuals in full multi-media form.

Rob Simmons
Rob Simmons