Review: Before the First Shots are Fired – How America Can Win or Lose Off the Battlefield

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cover zinni shots

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Tony Zinni and Tony Koltz

Foreign Politics Beyond the Beltway

By Andrew Lubin on September 6, 2014

Today’s foreign policy world seems like the bad old days of American indecision under Jimmy Carter; the Israel-Hamas war, Putin annexed the Crimea, President Obama’s red-lines in Syria are repeatedly ignored, and the Americans killed in Iraq seem to have been sacrificed for a country whose people wanted democracy far less than the “Neocon’s wanted it for them…clearly General Tony Zinni’s USMC (ret) latest book, Before the First Shot is Fired; How America can win or lose off the battlefield, is being published at a most opportune time.

Writing with an honesty rare in Washington, D.C, “Before the First Shot” is Zinni’s assessment of why America’s foreign and military policy-making is ineffective, if not harmful, to America’s national interests. In conjunction with co-author Tony Koltz, he discusses why the complex question “Are we warriors, peacekeepers, or liberators?” of Somalia, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, and beyond needs to be honestly discussed and answered when military actions are being considered.

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Dec 24

Review: Partnership for the Americas – Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command

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James Stavridis

5.0 out of 5 stars Our Best Thinking to Date — We Can Go Much Further, December 24, 2014

This is the pre-cursor book to The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO which I have reviewed most favorably and strongly recommend. This book — while free online as are all NDU Press books, is a very high quality production with some complex graphics and color photographs. It is fairly priced and absolutely recommended in print if you favor books you can hold in your hands.

There have been other books by military commanders but to the best of my knowledge only General Tony Zinni, USMC (then commanding the US Central Command with two wars and 12 task forces) and General Wesley Clark, USA (then commanding NATO during the Kosovo mess) have risen to what this book strives to be, a gold standard for whole of government multinational engagement.

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Dec 24

Review: The Accidental Admiral – A Sailor Takes Command at NATO

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James Stavridis

5.0 out of 5 stars In Ike’s mold — a future Secretary of Defense or State or both if we are lucky…, December 11, 2014

This is three books in one, and none of them do justice to the author, who is easily considered by my naval officer colleagues to be a person of most extraordinary intellect and absolute integrity — he is considered a “five star” flag in every possible respect, and there are many of us whom he has mentored or who run with those he has mentored, who hope he will one day be Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State or both. I discussed this book with CAPT Scott Philpott, USN (Ret), among those selected by the author as an innovator, and this point cannot be overstated: to the extent the Services have toxic leadership that must be retired, those mentored by Admiral Stavridis and a few other leaders (General Tony Zinni, for example) are the vanguard for a new generation of leaders who are agile, clear, daring, frugal, and above all, able to bring to bear intelligence with integrity.

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Dec 11

Review: EMERGE! The Rise of Functional Democracy and the Future of the Middle East

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Elza S. Maalouf, Foreword by Don Beck

5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary — Empowering, World-Changing, Rich in Substance, December 6, 2014

This book was recommended to me by Michael Ostrolenk, whom I consider one of the most inspiring transpartisan figures in America today, and endorsed by Elisabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist and “Yoda” to many of us. Given those two recommendations, my own review is pro forma, summary notes for smart people.

This is a most extraordinary book that I found deeply absorbing, inspiring, and practical. It is an original work in every possible sense of the word, and brings to the public insights, concepts, and methods that are essential to creating peace and prosperity among vastly diverse groups whose cultures, mind-sets, life conditions, and existing forms of governance and economics are not just in conflict, but downright pathologically dysfunctional.

Within this rich offering are a few things that are simply not found elsewhere, that could and should redefine and mature Western and Eastern understanding and practice:

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Dec 6