Review: Endgame: The Blueprint for Victory in the War on Terror

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Paul Vallely and Thomas McInerney

1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Guide to Morons in Power, June 19, 2013

This is the single best book for understanding what morons in power think when they pretend to think but are actually pursuing ideological and financial objectives far removed from the public interest.

The authors, who demonstrate how far one could get in the Cold War military without reading or thinking, call this a military assessment. It is not. It is a one-track discourse on why we need to use our heavy metal military to wipe out Syria and Iran and intimidate Libya and Pakistan. It avoids discussing Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Central Asia, Muslim Africa, and Muslim Pacifica. This is not analysis, this is flim-flam.

By way of context in my specific criticism of this book, let me just note that the bibliography does not reflect any appreciation for strategy, e.g. Colin Gray’s “Modern Strategy”, or Col Dr. Max Manwaring and Ambassadors Corr and Dorff’s “The Search for Security”, or Willard Matthias “America’s Strategic Blunders” or Adda Bozeman’s “Strategic Intelligence & Statecraft” or Jonathan Schell’s “Unconquerable World.” I looked in vain for any sign the authors might comprehend the strategic context in which their specific beliefs and recommendations can only be seen as ill-advised. For example, a reference to Shultz, Godson, and Quester (at least one of whom is a neo-conservative), “Security Studies for the 21st Century”, or Robert McNamara and James Blight “Wilson’s Ghost”, or Dean Jeffrey Garten’s “The Politics of Fortune”, or Republican and conservative Clyde Prestowitz’s “Rogue Nation”, or Ambassador Mark Palmer’s “Breaking the Real Axis of Evil”. No cognizance of Kissinger, even.

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Jun 19

Review: Food Politics – What Everyone Needs to Know

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Robert Paarlberg

1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing at Three Levels, January 25, 2012

This book is disappointing at three levels:

1) The publisher has been completely dishonest in failing to illuminate the fact that this is a book Of, By, and For Monsanto, the greatest force of evil to ever hit farming.

2) The author (naturally) does not address the total corruption of the US Government and most other governments with respect to all issues, not just food. Corn as fuel, corn as fake sugar, corn as inedible cattle feed that puts cattle feces into spinach, the poisoning of our children and our environment by pesticides and other toxins that substitute poison for intelligence, are not covered.

3) Finally, the author is completely lacking in a systemic approach to all of these matters. Here are the twelve core policies that must be harmonized if they are to be effective: Agriculture, Diplomacy, Economy, Education, Energy, Family, Health, Immigration, Justice, Security, Society, Water. This book is abysmally oblivious–no doubt for the convenience of Monsanto–to the fact that agriculture that is based on fossil fuel consumption, inter-continental transport, poisoning for both growth and packaging; that destroys small farmers and community-related farming; that destroys the health of entire nations; that destroys the chain of life in seed that gives birth to new seed (instead substituting suicidal seeds); and finally, the cost-benefit ratio of water use in relation to all that is grown or raised–none of this is to be found in this book, ergo this is a dishonest, incomplete, rather ignorant book.

From where I sit, the publisher, the publisher has disgraced their brand. Here are ten links to books I recommend instead of this book.

Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It
How Everyday Products Make People Sick: Toxins at Home and in the Workplace, Updated and Expanded
Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense
Diet for a Small Planet
Plows, Plagues, and Petroleum: How Humans Took Control of Climate (New in Paper) (Princeton Science Library)
Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy
The Republican War on Science
Science, Money, and Politics: Political Triumph and Ethical Erosion
Pandora’s Poison: Chlorine, Health, and a New Environmental Strategy
Debt and Death in Rural India: The Punjab Story

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Jan 28

Review: Intelligence, Political Inequality, and Public Policy

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Intelligence PolicyImportant Topic, Grotesque Pricing, April 3, 2008

Elliott White

This book joins my list of books I will never buy, read, nor recommend, because the publisher is charging three times what the book is worth. As a publisher myself, I am happy to inform prospective buyers that this book cost a penny a page to print. You do the math. Authors get 15%, Amazon gets 40%, the rest after actual cost deducation is pure profit.

This publisher is part of the problem, not part of the solution. This book should not cost more than $35. I would buy it at that price and probably find it quite valuable.

Authors are encouraged to demand in advance, in writing, a commitment on affordable pricing. The alternative is to post your book on the Internet as a PDF with a Creative Commons non-commercial license, which is what I do for all the books that I publish (at the same time that they are offered on Amazon at affordable prices to cover costs.

Better values:
Intelligence Power in Peace and War
Seven Sins of American Foreign Policy
Informing Statecraft
Best Truth: Intelligence in the Information Age
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
None So Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam
Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars
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
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

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Jul 4

Review: Intelligent Multimedia Multi-Agent Systems–A Human-Centered Approach

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Grotesquely Expensive, April 3, 2008

Rajiv Khosla

I will buy this book if and when it gets down to $37.50 or so, which is where it should be. The authors should protest this grotesquely expensive profiteering and handicapping of knowledge by posting the book online as a free PDF document.

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Jul 4

Review: Terror and Consent–The Wars for the Twenty-First Century

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Terror ConsentAppallingly Ignorant ; Another Nail in “Bi-Partisan” Coffin, April 27, 2008

Philip Bobbitt

Edit to make the point that it is not just the Democratic advisors, but the Republicans as well, that are witless. Everyone is playing the “realpolitic” or the “looting” game and no one, NO ONE, is playing for seven plus future generations and a win-win for all. I am sick of this.

Edit to list the eight “tribes” that comprise the TOTALITY of the global political environment. The “market” manufactures evil because of information asymmetry and the concentration of secret power. Here are a few more books that I cannot link to. You folks that are negative on this review may not be interested in reality, but I assure, you reality is very interested in you.

Tribes: government, military, law enforcement/private security, academia, business (including off the books business in poor areas), media, non-governmental organizations, and civil societie including labor unions and religions.

Other books:
Manufacture of Evil
Voltaire’s Bastards
No Logo
Disaster Capitalism
Pandora’s Poison
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
Crossing the Rubicon
Rule by Secrecy
How the World Really Works
Broken Branch
Broken Government
etc.

I normally do not do negative reviews while seeking to understand negative votes in the comments section. In this one instance I feel that national-level remediation is required. This is where I draw the line. No more pencil-heads advising village idiots. It’s time we put citizen wisdom and BROAD knowledge back into PUBLIC policy. This author is the “Paul Wolfowitz” of the Democratic Party, and just slightly less dangerous than Dr. Strangelove (Brzezinski).

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Terrorism is a tactic. It has been used by the US and Israel. Anyone who does not understand that is not qualified to write about national security and the real world. Neither Obama nor Clinton nor McCain represent anything more than continuation of the two party spoils dystem that disenfranchises close to two thirds of the Nation. They are advised by people like this and Dr. Strangelove (Brzezinski) and I am coming to the conclusion we have to demand candidates that can lead national conversations and dismiss all their “old think” advisors.

Furthermore, any book that refers to natural disasters as Acts of God without realizing that their destructive power, frequency, and changing nature are in fact Acts of Man, is so far down on the intellectual pecking order as to be virtually irrelevant. See my reviews of, among others:

Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America
Catastrophe & Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster (School of American Research Advanced Seminar Series)
The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters

I am increasingly appalled at the complete ignorance of both political parties and their candidates for President. I never thought I would consider Hillary Clinton the least of all evils, but there you have it–Obama is listening to Zbigniew Brzezinski with one last Dr. Strangelove attack on Russia left in him, and John McCain is dangerously open to the neo-conservatives and a continuation of America’s virtual colonialism, predatory immoral capitalism, and unilateral militarism. For a sense of my concerns see, among many others:

Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism

Here is what is NOT in this book:

LtGen Dr. Brent Scowcroft, with utterly brilliant pinch hitter Newt Gingrich (when he is not writing shallow books for cash flow), have given us all we need to know to reform national security. Read my review of

A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change

That extraordinary book itemizes, in priority order, the ten high-level threats to Humanity and to the USA, rapidly becoming a Third World hollow country where everything is broken:

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

The astute reader will note that the Pentagon is optimized for just one of those threats, and may properly surmise that the other instruments of national power (diplomacy, information, economics) are not trained, equipped and organized to “do” intelligence (decision support) on the real world, nor are the funded to “impact” on our domestic strength, much less the real world. The Cabinet Departments are optimized to protect budget share and represent every stakeholder EXCEPT the labor unions and We the People. Here are the twelve policies that must be orchestrated in the context of a balanced sustainable budget (the astute reader will see that both Congressional jurisdictions and the Executive branch must be restructured if this is to be done well):

01 Agriculture
02 Diplomacy
03 Economy
04 Education
05 Energy
06 Family
07 Health
08 Immigration
09 Justice
10 Security (of ALL kinds including water and food)
11 Society (dignity and diversity matter)
12 Water

It is sheer idiocy to use up water we do not have to grow grain we do not need to make fuel for cars that would be better fueled by Cuban sugar cane sap.

Finally, on a third front most academics and policy makers ignore (as well as the media): NOTHING the USA or European Union do in the next ten years matters AT ALL with respect to the future UNLESS they create an EarthGame that can compelling guide the eight demographic challengers (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and Wild Cards such as the Congo) to achieve their growth and development goals–while saving the 60 failed states–without making our mistakes.

To treat them as anything other than partners in the future–to try to push Russia out of Syria and China out of Africa and Brzezinski is trying to do–flexing muscles he does not have in anticipation of a position he will not get–is idiocy. It’s time for the old farts (less Scowcroft) to move into retirement homes–but then, that’s what CSIS is, is it not?

Bottom line: I am sick and tired of pontifical myopic academics posturing for ignorant presidential candidates too stupid to fire their advisors and lead a national conversation about our future. There are MANY books I have reviewed about Epoch B bottom-up citizen wisdom and the tao of democracy, here are the ones I have enough links left for (limit of 10, see my many lists):

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, Updated Edition

You might also look for books on collective intelligence, escape the matrix, society’s breakthrough, world cafe, and so on. There are two sucking chest wounds in America: one is policy makers and elected leaders that have sold We the People down the river and have no clue about why and how complex societies are collapsing or what to do about it; the other is pedant academics with insular prescriptions that have no clue how to see the whole (system of systems) nor how to address the real world beyond their narrow ken.

This author writes for the former and represents the latter. I am depressed by this author’s contribution, because along with the state-centric confrontational nuclear-holocaust proxy war views of the neo-cons and Zbigniew Brzezinski (and Joe Lieberman, both of them perhaps the best penetrations of the Democratic Party ever fielded), we appear to be headed straight toward self-immolation as a Nation.

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Aug 27

Review: Navigating Social-Ecological Systems–Building Resilience for Complexity and Change

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NavigatingThis Book Joins my List of Great Books at Wrong Price,March 29, 2008

Fikret Berkes

If the author will get in touch with me I can publish the book for sale at a cost of no morethan $39.95. If a digital copy of the book is available, I would like to post it immediately.

This book is an example of what happens when authors do not demand control over the pricing of their work.

This is an important topic, and no doubt a superb book, but this publisher is “out of control” and should be driven out of business by smart buyers who refuse to spend money foolishly. As a publisher myself, I can tell you that books like this cost no more than a penny a page to print.

Sadly, Amazon has refused my suggestion that they offer authors a direct publishing deal in which digital copies are delivered to Amazon where they can be sold as micro-text for micro-cash, or sold by the chapter, or sold as a digital transfer to the nearest FedExKinko’s where they are perfectly capable of printing a hard copy book “one at a time.”

I care deeply about using knowledge to save Humanity and the Planet, and seeing prices like this on worthy books makes my blood boil. Search Amazon for this topic, there are at least ten other books on this topic that are more honorably priced.

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Mar 29

Review: Intelligence for Peace–The Role of Intelligence in Times of Peace

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Intelligence Peace1.0 out of 5 stars Grotesquely overpriced, August 1, 2007

Hesi Carmel

Edit of 5 Jul 09:  At 288 pages, the paperback should be no more than $30.00 instead of $49.00.  Authors are encouraged to publish their own books via reliable online “as needed” publishers.

I publish books and know they cost a penny a page to produce in lots of 2500 or more.

The title and the content are superb.

The pricing is despicable and I will ignore this book for that reason.

I urge the authors to approach me, I can publish this book for sale at no more than $34.94 (it costs about $10,000 to print, Amazon pays 45% of the list price to publishers).

This is outrageous in every sense of the word. No author should allow their work to be handled in this fashion. The individual chapters should be available directly from Amazon for micro-cash, and this publisher should be put out of business.

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Aug 1