Review: Pakistan on the Brink–The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan

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Ahmed Rashid

5.0 out of 5 stars REF A — 12 Years of Lessons Learned in Time for 2014, October 13, 2013

This is an extraordinary book that required a great deal of time, not in the reading, but in the reflection. This will be a longer review than usual, even for me, because this book contains all of the insights that the US and the Coalition have refused to embrace for the past twelve years. It is never too late to learn.

The author opens with a well-known quote on the dangers of drawing a line between fighting men and thinking men, lest one end up with the fighting being done by fools and the thinking by cowards. To this I would add another group, the “deciders,” who in the absence of any familiarity with fighting or access to intelligence with integrity, end up making decisions whose true cost in blood, treasure, and spirit crosses the line dividing legitimate actions “in the national interest” from “crimes against humanity.

Positive up front: US under Obama has given more of everything and progress has been made across both military (stronger Afghan army, degraded Taliban) and socio-economic (education, health, media) domains. To that I would add elections. Afghanistan is about to experience the most extraordinary election cycle it has ever been my privilege to observe.

In contrast, the author finds that Pakistan has worsened in every possible manner, in large part because the US has not understood Pakistan, has lacked a strategy (or the intelligence with which to devise a coherent sustainable strategy), and in failing, the US has allowed Pakistan to drag itself down and Afghanistan to be a regional albatross – a cancer on all others.

The author is quite blunt in describing an incoherent even infantile US decision-making environment characterized by “contradictory policies, intense political infighting, and uncertainty.” In being inept, the US opened the way for regional players to manipulate, exploit, and exacerbate.

Chapter 1 on the Bin Laden raid is utter nonsense, this may be the price the author pays to maintain access and avoid being assassinated. See instead The Bin Laden Story 00-90 at Phi Beta Iota.

The author points out that by 2014 the Coalition engagement in Afghanistan will have been longer than WWI and WWII. In my own mind this highlights the fact that the US in particular, but the Western nations in general, have lost their integrity. They are incapable of collecting and analyzing the truth, thinking holistically, evaluating true costs over time, or devising a sustainable strategy that ultimately achieves the desired end-state: peace and prosperity. A churlish skeptic would point out that no, the West has achieved precisely what it wants, public theater at home, a massive transfer of wealth from the individual taxpayer to the military-industrial complex, and personal enrichment of most policymakers, at least in the USA. Either way, the larger publics lose at home and abroad.

Pakistan and Afghanistan matter not only to Central Asia, where other countries such as Uzbekistan are beginning to implode, but to the Middle East and India. At the very end of the book the author ponders how Afghanistan might follow the Turkish example of Islamic/secular regeneration, and I cannot help but wish that 12 years ago the Coalition had had the brain to leave the British home and make Afghanistan a collaborative effort among Muslim nations led by Turkey.

QUOTE (19) “After a decade, NATO has achieved none of its strategic aims – rebuilding the Afghan state, defeating the Taliban, stabilizing the region – so what assurances can it now plausibly give that it will do so by 2014?

The author defines Afghanistan today (2012) as a corrupt and incompetent government, a dysfunctional bureaucracy and inoperable justice system, high on drugs and illiteracy, with a police force that has the highest desertion rate in the world.
The sucking chest wound: no indigenous economy. Bush specifically refused to invest in roads, dams, water, and power. Karzai has been a complete failure [the author gives Karzai credit and cause across the book, outlining the many ways in which the US failed to develop a relationship of trust with him.]

Pakistani military is out of control and the deal breaker. Nothing the US or other can do will overcome an arrogant ignorant Pakistani military continuing to support extremists and their violence within Afghanistan.

QUOTE (22): “If the west is to depart Afghanistan by 2014 and leave behind relatively stable regimes in Kabul and Islamabad, it will need a multidimensional political, diplomatic, economic, and military strategy.”

Answering this challenge is the purpose of the book.

My nine page detailed summary for professionals coping with Afghanistan and not having the time to read this excellent work, is posted at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.

Books Cited by the Author:

Cables from Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign
Power Struggle Over Afghanistan: An Inside Look at What Went Wrong–and What We Can Do to Repair the Damage

Books I Have Reviewed Circling AF-PK-Islam:
Lines of Fire: A Renegade Writes on Strategy, Intelligence, and Security
Surrender to Kindness: One Man’s Epic Journey for Love and Peace
Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West
Organizations at War in Afghanistan and Beyond
Uncomfortable Wars Revisited (International and Security Affairs)
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam

Also Recommended:
Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

20131014 RASHID Pakistan on the Brink Review by Steele [Short & Long]

- – - – - LONG REVIEW (SUMMARY) BELOW THE LINE – - – - -

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Oct 13

Review: In My Time – A Personal and Political Memoir

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Dick Cheney

3.0 out of 5 stars Here’s the Documented View of Others, and Then Some,August 30, 2011

At three stars–everyone deserves to tell their side of the story, I am pleased to note that this is the ONLY review that is in the middle, all others being on the extreme of blind hate or blind faith.

These ten books serve as my alternative reading list on Dick Cheney and his regime–I believe that George Junior had the best of intentions and was played like a fiddle by Cheney, while also undermined by his own family and the two-party mafia.

Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
My review extracts from the book and itemizes over 20 impeachable offenses, many involving the deliberate degradation of Colin Powell, all of which merit retrospective indictment, investigation, and public confession of the truth.

The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
My review extracts core insights by this author on how Dick Cheney was able to make millions of smart people do stupid things.

The Bush Tragedy
I am among those who feel Bush Junior was well-intentioned and played like a fiddle by Dick Cheney, who overturned Presidential decisions without a qualm. He is a Walker and a misfit in relation to the Bush Crime Family, Dick Cheney was closer to the Bushes than their own black sheep son, and he knew it.

9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Fourth Edition
Three months prior to 9/11, Dick Cheney scheduled a national counter-terrorism exercise for “the day” and put the command center on the piers of New York City instead of using the existing Command Center in the World Trade Center. Nine nations warned us of 9/11 in advance; the FBI blew off two walk-ins, one in Newark, one in Orlando, and CIA conspired to not share key information with the FBI. In all of this, one man alone, orchestrated the mix of institutionalized ineptitude and high crimes and misdemeanors: Dick Cheney.

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies
Dick Cheney made the most of 9/11–he certainly Let It Happen (LIH), but he needed 935 lies to fully exploit it for his own ideological ends–CIA, less George Tenet, got it right with the defecting son in law and line crossers. Tenet betrayed what little CIA has left in the way of integrity the way Cheney betrayed the Republic.

Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
It started with Senator Phil Graham (R-TX) and came to its fullest depth of depravity under Clinton, but for Dick Cheney, this was the lesser criminal conspiracy–he did much more with military power to dishonor and deprive the Republic of blood, treasure, and spirit.

The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict
My review extracts key facts for public consideration.

Grand Theft Pentagon :Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror
My review summarizes the manner in which the Bush Crime Family in particular, Cheney as their hit man, has used the Pentagon to steal trillions from the public treasury.

The Mafia, CIA and George Bush
One of the better books underlying an entire literature on deep secrecy, off budget gold-based funding, and other impeachable offenses.

Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
My fellow case officer tells one of the best stories around. Personally I would like to see the Saudis avoid what has happened in Egypt and is about to happen in Syria, but unless they listen, they are next. We have been enablers as well as abject subjects.

As the #1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, I would enjoy reading this book and picking it apart as Colin Powell has, but this is one book I will never buy for the reasons outlined above. It is quite enough for me to have Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell, and Condolezza Rice, among others, call into question the veracity of much of this book.

I offer as a gift to the public my book review lists, all of reviews I have written, all findable online by searching for the exact titles. The first two are summary of all the positive and negative books I have reviewed in the past eleven years on Amazon. Below those two links are some of the applicable negative sub-lists (also within the negative list).

I hope Dick Cheney lives long and prospers–I mean him no ill will and no retrospective punishment, but before he dies, I would like to see him indicted and forced to appear before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and to be subject to sustained interrogation by a real professional (no torture) to get all the facts on the table. As Bob Seelert, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide has said so beautifully, “When things are not going well, until you get the truth out on the table, no matter how ugly, you are not in a position to deal with it.”

Relevant lists, search for exact titles on any search engine (all reviews lead back to their Amazon page):

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)

Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)

Within the above negative list, see especially:

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corruption

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Dereliction of Duty (Defense)

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Disinformation, Other Information Pathologies, & Repression

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Empire as Cancer Including Betrayal & Deceit

Worth a Look: Impeachable Offenses, Modern & Historic

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Bankruptcy of US Economy, Federal Reserve Malfeasance

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Class War (Global)

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corporate & Transnational Crime

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Corporate Lack of Integrity or Intelligence or Both

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on Religion

Worth a Look: Book Reviews on the War on Science

Ex-Bush Official Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: “I am Willing to Testify” If Dick Cheney is Put on Trial

It is what it is, they are what they are, what we make of all that is up to us. Read and think for liberty and justice for all…including Dick Cheney.

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Aug 30

Review: Give Me Liberty–A Handbook for American Revolutionaries

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5.0 out of 5 stars Major Contribution to Loyal Dissent & True Patriotism
December 10, 2009
The book comes in three parts, the first two by the author, the third a collection of well-chosen pieces by others.

I am totally engaged by the idea that liberty is a state of mind, that America the Beautiful is a state of mind, not to be confused with the Wall Street greed and two-party tyranny that is killing the Republic.

The author has done a moderately good job of reviewing the history, and that which she shares is most valuable. I especially like her quoting Robert F. Kennedy on how each generation must win its own struggle to be free, and later in the book, she cites one of the thousands across the country as observing that we have abdicated our citizenship.

The state of mind theme is carried on in a discussion of the difference between a free society and a fear society, and throughout parts I and II we see documented evidence of how America has become a fear society and how the Global War on Terror (GWOT) has been a virtual seizure of power by quasi-fascist mind-sets who may have the best of intentions but in fact have executed a “paper coup” or as the author also puts it, following a long (LONG) summary of restrictions on everything from permits for free speech to travel to voting rules and regulations, “civic death by a thousand cuts.”

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Dec 10

Review: The Sword of the Prophet

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Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Much More Than a Novel, This Is the Real Deal
October 2, 2009
Phillip Oliver Otts
As a recovering spy who has published and agitated for intelligence reform over the years, I generally have little patience for spy novels less the George Smiley series by John Le Carre. Been there, done that. This book is nothing short of sensational, and at $9 a huge value.

This book is so very good that I am making it one of THREE books I recommend to future spies and those who wish to understand the human side of the spy world today (or course there are many others but this one is special). The other two are still:

1. The Craft of Intelligence: America’s Legendary Spy Master on the Fundamentals of Intelligence Gathering for a Free World

2. Without Cloak or Dagger : The truth about the new espionage–

I liked this book on multiple levels. It does for the clandestine service, where we were obscenely proud of having the highest alcoholism, adultery, divorce, and suicide rates in the US Government, what James Webb did for the abuse of military forces by craven politicians in Fields of Fire.

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Oct 2

Review: Open Veins of Latin America–Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

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Brilliantly Translated, Poetry of Pathos, Compelling, June 5, 2009

Eduardo Galeano

Kudos to Hugo Chavez for putting this book in the eye of the emerging consciousness of the US public–Obama will not read this book because he already knows the story, he is the front end of the Borg–the system, and so similar in policies to Bush as to possibly wake up the naive.

The book begins with one of the finest Forewords I have ever read, by Isabel Allende, and I offer just one quote from her spectacular introduction of the book:

“His work is a mixture of meticulous detail, political conviction, poetic flair, and good storytelling.”

The translation by Bobbye Ortiz merits special note. This book sings in English, and the translator has done justice to the original.

A major recurring theme throughout the book is that of capital squandered by the few while the many actually producing the capital dies of hunger or disease.

I list ten other recommended books at the end of this review. Early on the author makes these points:

1. The indigenous bourgeoisie are the ones who have sold out their countries to the multinational corporations. Toward the end of the book re repeats this with a chapter on the guards that opened the gates.

2. “The human murder by poverty in Latin America is secret–every year, [the equivalent of] three Hiroshima bombs.”

3. Quoting Lyndon Johnson: $5 invested in population control is equal to $100 in economic growth. This in the context of the author making the case that Latin America is under-populated in relation to Europe.

4. Imperialism and what I call predatory capitalism depends on, imposed, inequality and growing disparity on the countries rich in raw materials.

His early account of the European invasion by steel and horse and disease was unique in its time; see 1491 below for a broader more recent treatment. The indigenous population by this account dropped from 70 million to 3.5 million.

Among my notes:

1. The historical record is lie–laws were indeed passed protecting the indigenous natives, but never enforced, something history does not document as well.

2. “Ideological justifications were never in short supply.”

3. Spanish dressed up the natives in Andalucian costumes, some of the clothing we think of today as traditional was actually imposed on the natives.

4. Spanish and others moved drugs (coca) from strictly ceremonial use to the general population and then into massive export.

The history of Latin America is a history of sequential pillaging. First gold, then sugar, then rubber followed by chocolate, cotton, and coffee, then the banana–the tree of hell under United Fruit. And then Chilean nitrates, Bolivian tin, and finally the “black curse” of petroleum.

Sugar in particularly devoured both the soil and humanity, first in Brazil then in the Caribbean.

The ready use of slavery, both of indigenous natives and of imported Africans, created the economic bottleneck that survives to this day, where those actually extracting the raw materials are virtual slaves and do not derive the fruits of their labor.

The author contrasts the manner in which the US used the Homestead Act to grant land to individuals who were incentivized to develop the West, and the latifundo oligarchy that imposes perpetual poverty on generations of indigenous individual families.

Myself being a survivor of the Central American wars, and the duty officer the night land reformer Mark Pearlman was executed in El Salvador by an extreme right death squad, I read with interest about the recurring attempts to achieve agrarian reform, only to have push-back from the 14-500 families that “own” the land.

I am fascinated by the corporate war between Shell (Paraguay) and Standard Oil (Bolivia) in which the armies of those countries, and the poor of those countries, were the pawns in the “great game” of wealth confiscation.

The book is a catalog of all the dictators supported by the USA and enriched by US and European multinational corporations.

The second half of the book yields the following notes:

1. Industrial infanticide has been imposed on Latin America by protectionism and free trade (as opposed to fair trade)

2. Loans and railroads (with attendant land rights and obligations) deformed Latin America.

3. The International Monetary Fund (IMB) is the knife that slits the belly of each country to let in the maggots of immoral capitalism.

4. The Ministries of Labor in each Latin American country are the new slave traders.

5. “International charity does not exist.” The role of US aid is to help the US domestically. As of the book being written, only 38% of aid was actually targeted aid, all the rest existed to bring greater benefits back to the “giving” country.

6. What Latin America has been lacking all this time is a sense of economic community within its own continent.

7. The book was banned in Chile and Uruguay.

I end this summative review with two quotes–cliff notes for the President, if he has anyone active on Amazon:

Page 261. The task lies in the hands of the dispossessed, the humiliated, the accursed. The Latin Ameerican cause is above all a social cause: the rebirth of Latin America must start with the overthrow of its masters, country by country. We are entering times of rebellion and change.

Page 285. “The system would like to be confused with the country.” and “In these lands we are not experiencing the primitive infancy of capitalism buts its vicious senility.”

Notes and index complete the work. A solid four hour read without interruptions. A great book for anyone desiring to know why the USA is being pushed back while China and Iran are displacing the West in the southern hemisphere.

Other books I recommend (you have to look for my summary reviews now, Amazon buries serious reviews with a few negative votes).
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
War is a Racket: The Antiwar Classic by America’s Most Decorated Soldier
The Trial of Henry Kissinger
Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War
Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
The Global Class War: How America’s Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future – and What It Will Take to Win It Back
Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy

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Jul 3

Review DVD: The World Without US – With Niall Ferguson

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World Without UsClever in a sophmoric way–selective, Inconclusive, and naive, February 14, 2008

Mitch Anderson

I have been going blind the past two weeks doing the index to the new edited work by Mark Tovey, COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace, playing DVDs in the background.

This one fooled me right up to the end with its able review of the disconnect between most Arab oil going to China and Europe (so why should the US protect it), the great strengths of the German and Japanese economies, the great wealth of the Arab countries to whom we give most of our foreign military assistance….

I was especially intregued by his use of putative candidates for president promising to pull all our troops back and reinvest in the homeland, something Mayor Mike Bloomberg has been harping on.

Then he pulled the plug with, as I say, a clever but sophmoric conclusion that is NOT, as one “official” review would have it, conclusive at all–the DVD ends with a nuclear explosion and a replay of Hiroshima, with one Asian mother in the rubble asking another to tell her daughter (who is assuredly vaporized) that she loves here. Then she dies and the movie dies with her.

This happens to be my lifetime focus, so here are a few thoughts:

1) For what we spend on war all over the world, $1.3 trillion a year, we could use one third of it to retain essential military and law enforcement capabilites, one third of it to completely rebuild our homeland, and one third of it to invest in massive undersea, outerspace, paranormal, and inter-cultural innovation.

2) Washington DC is run by four crime families: the Clintons, the Bushes, the Republicans and the Democrats. They specialize in picking the taxpayers’ pocket, robbing the many to enrich the few. At the same time, Wall Street has migrated from being a fiduciary trust to being a financial intermediary, and as John Bogle spells out in his most recent book, these asset managers have skimmed off one fifth of the wealth as “fees” without any of the “owners” being any the wiser.

3) The ten high level threats to mankind have now been definitively established, and they are poverty, infectious disease, environmental degradation, inter-state conflict, civil war, genocide, other atrocities, proliferation (which is best practiced by the arms mongering of the five permanent members of the Security Council), terrorism (note how this is NINTH yet consuming the current White House), and transnational crime (the latter a $2 trillion a year endeavor, against $7 trillion in the “legal” economy and an almost certain $1 trillion in corporate fraud and tax avoidance and another $1 trillion in barter and intangible exchange.

The USA needs the following:

1) Electoral reform and a citizenship mindful of its civic duties.

2) Honest politicians committed to transparent open government and no legislation without pre-publication in detail.

3) A strategy that commits to eradicating the ten high level threats, and buy-outs or force-oputs for the 44 dictators, 42 of whom we love to love, two of whom we love to hate (one being Cuba, which has the best health care in the world, the only sustainable agricultural model without pesticide and with full employment, and oh yes, they can send 10,000 doctors to Venezuela without blinking.

4) Recognition that all ten threats, poverty for example, require the harmonization of twelve policis from Agriculture to Water (for example, US wastes roughly a third of the food it grows, which consumed water we cannot afford to lose).

5) Recognize that nothing the US or EUR do will matter unless we can create an EarthGame that serves as the Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, and presents in compelling terms sustainable architectures that can be adopted by the eight demographic giants who–if they repeat our mistakes–will consume the entire planet within 3 to five generations.

Enough. This is an annoying movie for its lack of nuance and serious understanding of the complexities as well as the opportunities that lie before us.

Better DVDs:
The Fog of War – Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
Why We Fight
Tibet – Cry of the Snow Lion
Gandhi (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
The Snow Walker

Better Books:
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
The leadership of civilization building: Administrative and civilization theory, symbolic dialogue, and citizen skills for the 21st century
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism

Afterthought: anyone can search on the terms in brackets for more:
[Chinese Irregular Warfare Memorandum oss.net]
[Steele Joint Forces Quarterly Asymmetric]
[Steele Alternative Paradigm for National Security]
[Steele Presidential Leadership oss.net]

And of course there are the books I have written and the ones we are publishing and providing free online at Earth Intelligence Network.

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Feb 14

Review DVD: The Assassination of Richard Nixon

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Richard NixonDrew Me In and Fasciated Me, February 4, 2008

Sean Penn

I was offered a free rental today, and casting around for something I had never seen before, I grabbed this one thinking it would be about how Nixon was outed from office, not actually assassinated. I put it in on background as I struggled with creating the index to a 550 page new book, and within 15 minutes I stopped and the movie had my undivided attention.

Sean Penn is perfect, deep, emotional, and inspires commitment to the movie and to his plight as a failure who is honest. As I am a student of how “honest” governments are in fact a form of legalized organized crime, I may have appreciated this movie more than most, but I do not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. What price integrity?

Other DVDs that have captured my imagination (we are limited to ten links) include:
Death of a President (Widescreen)
Fight Club (Widescreen Edition)
A Man Called Horse
The Last Samurai (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Glory
Lawrence of Arabia (Single Disc Edition)
Lord of War (Full Screen)
Hackers
The Snow Walker
Gandhi

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Feb 4

Review: What We Say Goes

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5.0 out of 5 stars Dick Cheney Pulls Noam Chomsky to the Center (Relatively Speaking)
October 18, 2007
Noam Chomsky
Edit of 15 Jun 09 to correct factual error in original review (nuclear deal with Iran under Gerald Ford, not Ronald Reagan, in 1974).

Chomsky is actually starting to win over the balanced middle with his common sense. I have long respected him, but it took Dick Cheney and his merry band of nakedly amoral and obliviously delusional henchmen to really bring home to America how much his straight talk and logical thinking can help us.

There is virtually no repetition from past works. This series of interviews took place in 2006 and early 2007, and I found a great deal here worth noting.

* In 70 New York Times editorials on Iraq, not once did they mention international law or the United Nations Charter. He uses this and several other examples to show how pallid, how myopic, how unprofessional our mainstream media has become.

* A wonderful section talks about how civil *obedience* of immoral and illegal orders is our biggest challenge in this era, and I agree. The “failure of generalship” in the Pentagon resulted from a well-meaning but profoundly misdirected confusion of loyalty to the civilian chain of command, however lunatic, with the integrity that each of our senior swore to the Constitution and to We the People in their Oath of Office.

* His knowledge of Lebanon, a country I have come to love as representative of all that is good in the Middle East, is most helpful. His many remarks, all documented, make it clear that Israel has been abducting people for decades, and that the Lebanese have quite properly come to equate US “freedom” with the “kiss of death.” I am especially impressed with his discussion of Hezbollah as having legitimacy based on providing social services to those ignored by past governments, and as having a significant strategic value to Iran as a flank on Israel. His observations on how the US consistently refuses to recognize honest elections that do not go as the policymakers (not the US public) wish, are valid.

* He reminds us that the US made an enormous strategic mistake in using Saudi Arabian extremist Islam as a counterpoint to Nasser’s natural Arab nationalism. As Robert Baer puts it, we see no evil and slept with the devil like a common whore lusting for oil.

* His comments on China and the Shi’ites who sit on most of the reserves (including Saudi reserves in one corner of that country, are provocative. I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the USA needs to cede the oil to China and execute a Manhattan Project to leverage solar power from space, tidal power, air power, and–for storage–hydrogen power made with renewable resources.

* Chomsky’s comments on Chavez track with my own understanding. Chavez is a serious and well-off revolutionary who is sharing energy with his Latin American brethren, and leading the independence of Latin America from the overbearing and often hypocritical and predatory US government and US multinational corporations.

* He offers compelling thoughts on how India is sacrificing hundreds of thousands of poor rural people who now commit suicide or migrate to cities after losing their lands, for the sake of the high technology investments. I wonder why India is not doing more to teach the poor “one cell call at a time.”

* His observations on US electoral fraud are brilliant. He points out that the fact that elections are stolen is much less important than the fact that the entire electoral process in the US is fraudulent, without substance, only posturing and platitudes.

* He discusses how the US public is completely divorced from the policy choices of the dual tyranny of the US (political) government and the US corporate sector.

* At every turn Chomsky offers common sense observations, for instance, Pakistan, not Iran, is vastly more likely to leak nuclear capabilities to jihadists. In passing, he points out that it was the US that gave the Shah of Iran an entire MIT nuclear program and substantive assistance that is now being harvested by Iran, in 1975. Kissinger, Cheney,Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz as well as Gerald Ford are mentioned by name.

* He observes that Israeli influence is vastly larger than the lobbying effort, because the entire US intellectual network has “bought into” the Israeli myths and lies. The American fascists (see American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America), the Christian fundamentalists, are actually anti-Semitic, but support Israel because of their belief in the apocalypse.

* The Internet is having a pernicious effect on dialog and debate and compromise, because it creates little cul-de-sacs for lunatics of like mind to find and reinforce one another, divorced from larger realities.

* Avian flu (and our lack of preparation for it) is vastly more dangerous than a nuclear event. (See my review of the DVD Pandemic).

* Missile “defense” is actually code for allowing a first strike by the US on Russia or China, as a means to moderating their counter-strike. This is the first time I have heard it put this way, and I agree. All Americans should oppose “missile defense.”

* State secrecy is about keeping our own citizens ignorant of the crimes being done “in our name” not about keeping secrets from the enemies we a re covertly screwing over time and again.

* Darfur is being dumbed down, at the same time that the *millions* being genocided in the Congo are being ignored.

* He ends on two good notes. Like Thomas Jefferson (A Nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry”) he says that “educating the American people is the main thing to be done,” and love of the people is fundamental.

Great book, completely fresh and absolutely worth reading for the mainstream that might have in the past written Chomsky off as a perennial leftist, which he is not. Chomsky is what we must all seek to be: an educated engaged citizen.

See also:
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency
The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11
Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III
Bush’s Brain
Why We Fight

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Oct 18

Review DVD: The Wind and the Lion

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DVD Wind Lion5.0 out of 5 stars Honor Above War, Love Above Loyalty

August 24, 2007

Sean Connery, Chris Aller

I sometimes tire of non-fiction (reality) and escape into DVDs, but many of them are either reality or a sembalnce of reality that merits respect. This is such a film.

I would also add a note of caution to those who would demean this film as “corny.” NOT right. This film was ahead of its time. In this film, the moderate Islamists (represented by Sean Connery) are upset with foreign presence (Western Europe), and the USA with its bully Theodore and its aggressive Marines, are in the wrong until the Marines are led back on track by the female American protagonist (Candice Bergen) and free the Lion of Islam to fight again.

TAKEAWAY: Americans can be, are, morally wrong (as are all immoral predatory nations), and moderate Islamists are, in their own place that we have invaded, morally correct. Our God is NOT, as LtGen Jerry Boykin, one of my top five greatest generals ever (out of 75 or so I have known, most never more than a Colonel with a facelift) greater than theirs. Our God is CO-Equal to theirs, and the sooner we put Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger behind bars, the sooner we eliminate our 750 bases overseas, the sooner the world can restore balance. Legitimacy and morality are the two strategic pillars that America has abondoned its in prostitution to Saudi oil and 42 of 44 dictators, and we can never be America the Beautiful, America the Good, unless we right ourselves.

As a patriotic estranges Republican I will say this clearly: America and Israel are the scourges of the world, followed by Saudi Aribia. We have sown the dragon’s teeth, and I weep for what we have become: virtual colonialists, unilateralist military confusing might with right, and a cheating culture that ignores the class war led by our predatory immoral Wall Street band of merry thieves laundering drug money and covering up the complicity of Dick Cheney and Rudy Gulliani in the murder of most who died on 9-11 from controlled demolitions (NYC) or a missile (the Pentagon).

Where, or where, is the American Eagle that we need so desperately? See the image I have posted above to understand where we need to go if our children, if all children, are to have a future.

Other DVDs (see also my lists):
Tibet – Cry of the Snow Lion
Why We Fight
Gandhi (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
The Last Samurai (Full Screen Edition)

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Aug 24

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

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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

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Jul 22