Review (Guest): Creating the National Security State: A History of the Law That Transformed America

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Douglas Stuart

5.0 out of 5 stars From National Interests to National Security April 24, 2011

ByKenneth J. Dillon

Many observers recognize that the U.S. Government has for decades placed too much emphasis on military might to the detriment of other interests. This book provides a sobering explanation of how such a skewed approach emerged. Stuart is an historian at Dickinson College and also adjunct professor at the U.S. Army War College. He shows how the 150-year tradition of peacetime pursuit of national interests headed by the State Department gave way to the “Pearl Harbor System” of viewing the world through the perspective of potential threats to national security.

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Jan 18

Review: Wrong Turn – America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency

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5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Regarded in Afghanistan, A Real Gem, November 22, 2013

This book is in our J-2 Library in Afghanistan, and it is a very well-regarded gem.

This is a vitally important book. The author drives the value-proposition home with his Afterword, entitled “Truth as a Casualty of COIN.” His core point: lies kill military efficiency (including military learning). Those who would cite the vast spectrum of presidential and DoD directives and concepts and so on clearly are as out of touch with reality as the well-intentioned dolts that signed off on all that junk. Prior to reading this book I articulated — and had checked by colleagues at the US Army Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) and across Special Forces — some harsh comments in my summary critical review of The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One.

Being a strong critic of defense idiocy and corruption myself, coming off 20 years of trying to get the US Intelligence Community to actually produce ethical evidence-based decision-support, this book by a former commander who is now teaching history at West Point should be required reading in all the schools from entry-level to war college.

The author opens early with his view that the COIN understanding of “the population” is delusional (he is being kind). The population is indeed the center of gravity, but if one is going to substitute technology for thinking, ideology for policy, and corrupt puppets for indigenous leadership, then one should expect to implode. As I have lectured here are there, including to civil affairs cannon fodder at Fort Bragg, “no amount of tactical excellence can make up for strategic decrepitude.” (see the definition of the latter term of art in my review of Clausewitz and Contemporary War).

The book focuses on the disconnect between a military trained, equipped, and organized to fight wars, and the “light infantry” variant that pretends to win hearts and minds while kicking down doors and running air strikes on civilians. The fact is that if there is no Whole of Government endeavor, if the Department of State is the Department of Nothing as Andrew Cockburn recently slammed Boffo Haircut (who gave up his integrity when looking into CIA’s role in Iran Contract and the cocaine crack explosion), then the military is on a fool’s errand at great expense in terms of blood, treasure, and spirit.

I am reminded of DIME by the early portion of the book. We need all four — diplomatic, informational, military, and economic. The fact is that we have a military that is dysfunctional and corrupt to the bone across strategy, policy, acquisition and operations, and a “paper tiger” across the other three domains.

There are five short quotes I have selected that capture the essence of the book, which I will follow with a final comment and eight other recommended books.

QUOTE (117): “When a state gets its strategy right in war, tactical problems tend to be subsumbed and improved within it.” This is an entire book waiting to be written — and the obverse of my comment to the civil affairs gladiators.

QUOTE (118): “But sometimes, in a war that involves limited policy airms, there may well be alternatives to victory.” Here I would point out that until last year the morons in DC conflated Al Qaeda and the Taliban — I do not make this stuff up. These are the same people that did not know Iraq was a Sunni minority ruling over a Shi’ite majority.

QUOTE (127): “The counterintelligence narrative posits that savior generals have game-changing effects, but it over-states their influence on the course of the war.” Yes, to which I would add, it is not helpful to have a Zionist bimbo sharing your bed and a G-2 without the balls the call a counterintelligence foul when he sees one.

QUOTE (128): “…hearts and minds counter-insurgency carried out by an occupying power in a foreign land doesn’t work, unless it is a multigenerational effort.” To understand the details, search for my Marine Corps University short paper (summary of a 1976 thesis), < 1992 MCU Thinking About Revolution >. No one in DC gets any of this.

QUOTE (132): “American strategy has failed in Afghanistan because it became tapped by the promise that counterinsurgency can work only if it is given enough time…” See my summary review of Colin Gray’s utterly gripping Modern Strategy — time is the one strategic variable that cannot be bought nor replaced. The corruption of US foreign and national security policy, deepened by the assassination of John F. Kennedy 50 years ago by a mix of Texas energy, New York money, CIA, and out of control elements of the rest of the US government, has wasted 50 years and destroyed the Republic. Time matters. So does integrity.

I am not going to summarize the most precious part of the book, pages 133-135, read these in the library or a bookstore if you cannot take the time to ingest the entire book.

I’ve had to work my way through multiple generations of flag officers divorced from reality and inattentive to the public interest. I dare hope that the serving Chief of Staff of the US Army is paying attention, and that this particular colonel might rise to be one of the thinking generals. Certainly I cannot count more than five in my lifetime out of the sixty or so I have known (Zinni is one of best and on record as saying that the US IC provided him “at best” 4% of what he needed to know as CINCENT). Consider helping me with the following SSI monograph under development, search for < 2013 ON REVOLUTION — Helpng Transform the US Army Consistent with CSA Guidance >

Buy this book, read it, display it, and share it. Let that be your act of loyal dissent this week.

Semper Fidelis,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE for EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability

See Also:

Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
Uncomfortable Wars Revisited (International and Security Affairs)
Losing the Golden Hour: An Insider’s View of Iraq’s Reconstruction (An Adst-Dacor Diplomats and Diplomacy Book)
We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (American Empire Project)
The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It
Surrender to Kindness: One Man’s Epic Journey for Love and Peace

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Nov 22

Review (Guest): BREACH OF TRUST – How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country

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Andrew J. Bacedvich

A disturbing but vitally necessary read. Take note, Mr President, and Congress too

By Timothy J. Bazzett on September 10, 2013

Andrew Bacevich’s latest offering, BREACH OF TRUST, is going to make a lot of people squirm – if people read it, that is. Because in this book he tells us flat out that an all-volunteer army in a democratic society simply does not work, and that the present system is “broken.” It is bankrupting our country, and not just financially, but morally. He tells us that Iraq and Afghanistan, two of the longest and most expensive wars in U.S. history, have evoked little more than “an attitude of cordial indifference” on the part of a shallow and selfish populace more concerned with the latest doings of the Kardashians, professional superstar athletes or other vapid and overpaid millionaire celebrities, reflecting “a culture that is moored to nothing more than irreverent whimsy and jeering ridicule.”

Bacevich cites General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, who spoke about having “skin in the game,” meaning that when a country goes to war every town and city should be at risk. McChrystal went on to say the unthinkable: “I think we’d be better if we actually went to a draft these days … for the nation it would be a better course.”

Horrors! That dreaded “D” word finally uttered aloud. Well, I’d say it’s about damn time. And Bacevich agrees, noting that in his many speaking engagements over the past ten years “I can count on one hand the number of occasions when someone did NOT pose a question about the draft, invariably offered as a suggestion for how to curb Washington’s appetite for intervention abroad and establish some semblance of political accountability.”

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Nov 19

Review: Lethal Incompetence

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Jeff Bordin

5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic, Credible, Legitimate, and Damning of All Who Betray the Public Trust, August 24, 2013

I have this book in front of me, and will be doing a detailed review over the next week or so. I have already gone through it quickly, and concluded that it offers the single best compilation or literature review of all of the psychological and social reasons why military “leaders” end up being treasonous gerbils, combined with the deepest direct field research I know of to buttress the author’s speculative hypotheses and proven conclusions.

I swung by here to check what others have said, and am quite disappointed by the shallow ignorance of the only review present. Here are a couple of quotes that capture my philosophy and hence my valuation of this book:

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. Bob Seelert, Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide (New York)

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. George Orwell

This book is a tad hyper-critical (of Dick Cheney for example — certainly a traitor but by no means stupid) and too close in format to the original thesis, or it would be a six star book. If I were Czar, every person responsible for the public interest would receive the wisdom and ethical instruction in this book, in one form or another, to include comic book form if necessary.

My detailed review will be posted within the week. I could not let the first review stand uncontested.

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Aug 24

Worth a Look The Program from Hell [Indictment of the US Army Human Terrain System (HTS) -- Over-Sold, Under-Performing]

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The Program from Hell

Authored by John Stanton

This is a story of ongoing alleged fraud, waste, abuse; a murder, KIA’s, WIA’s, cover ups, a hostage taking, and incompetence at the highest levels of the US Army’s TRADOC G-2. It is Mash meets Catch-22 (the movies)…

The United States Army Human Terrain System has been mired in controversy since its inception. Billed as an anthropology program, it went dangerously off track soon after its first mission. Collected for the first time in this volume are many but not all of the reports written by independent journalist John Stanton. They are based on over 110 sources spanning over a four year period from the summer of 2008 to 2013 during which nearly 115 pieces were written. Collectively it is a story about civilian and military leadership that was negligent in the line of duty. The Human Terrain System richly deserves the title, The Program from Hell.

Offered as a Kindle Edition.

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Aug 24

Review: Irrational Security – The Politics of Defense from Reagan to Obama

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Daniel Wirls

4.0 out of 5 stars Second to Goodman’s More Recent Book, Useful Nuggets but Overlooks Key Critics, March 1, 2013

I bought this book after reading — and rating at 5 stars — Mel Goodman’s new book, National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism (Open Media). That is the better and more relevant book, but both books have significant shortfalls.

I confess to being annoyed with both books, but more so with this one, for their lack of reference to the two premier substantive critics of US defense fraud, waste, and abuse, Chuck Spinney and Winslow Wheeler, or alternative media (i.e. non-PhD authors that really do their homework). Checking this book’s index I quickly determine that corruption, intelligence, Israel, and treason are not key terms.

The greatest value of this work — and I am quite surprised to not find a single review — is that it documents the reality that defense spending is in no way about defense. It is the largest piece of the legislative pork pie, in the author’s terms, “national politics of choice” of, by, and for the elite, having nothing at all to do with the public interest or public security.

I am quite taken with his three arguments, historical, analytical, and normative.

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Mar 1

Review: Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe – The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis

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Richard Cottrell

5.0 out of 5 stars Startling, Offers a Wealth of New Information, February 19, 2012

EDIT of 6 May 2012 to acknowledge fixed made by publisher for new edition after review, change title, and increase to five stars.

I was given this book as a gift. I do not normally seek-out conspiracy literature, but in the aftermath of 9/11 and all I have learned about that (search for < 9/11 books dvd source=phibetaiota >, I am now shifting from my long held view that given a choice between incompetence and conspiracy, one should go with incompetence every time. This book brings me closer to a 50-50 split, but I am still on the 70-30 side giving incompetence the edge.

The best thing I can say about this book is that while there are others addressing Gladio (the Italian secret unit), this may be the first book that really strings everything together, adds, connects, spreculates, in a more thorough way going beyond Italy to include the rest of Europe and to my surprise, Sweden, than the few prior books. This book is also the most current, to include the Libya take-down and to warn that Turkey is next. The book does not address Syria.

NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe (Contemporary Security Studies)
Secret Organisation Gladio. Western Union Official Clandestine Killer Organisation (1,2,3,4,5)
Puppetmasters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy

Perhaps the most substantive point in favor of the book’s value is the detailed and documented manner in which it outlines how Italy spawned the most active secret campaign because it is the one place where the Catholic Church and the Mafia have their homes, and can come together with NATO, big business, the neo-Nazi extreme right, and the intelligence and security services whose budget inevitably benefit from false flag attacks in the absence of real threats.

As much as the book troubles me with detailed documented examples of a long series of false flag attacks including assassination of leaders in Sweden and elsewhere (and at one time targeting Charles DeGaul), I am inclined to think that the author makes an unwarranted assumption that the “legitimate” stay-behind networks created after World War II morphed into a “killer / false flag” network over time everywhere. While this is absolutely proven beyond a doubt for Italy, it is not proven for the rest of Europe.

Because the author relied on second-hand quotes and did not read the original, this book has a poor misrepresentation of the findings of my friend Cees Wiebes’ book, Intelligence and the War in Bosnia: 1992-1995 (Studies in Intelligence History). The focus of Cee’s book was on the inadequacy of convention intelligence services with respect to peacekeeping intelligence; and that the rest of the mess was a mix of sheer incompetence within the UN, big power politics, and bureaucratic in-fighting in Washington, D.C. That sounds righter to me and is consistent with my own review of the English-language version that I link to here.

I am constantly astonished as I read this book, finding nuggets of documented information that I had no idea were out there. I think frequently while reading this book that it would be truly wonderful to have the ability to ingest this and many other books like it into a professional intelligence evaluation facility, create the maps that connects the dots — people, places, organizations, dates, and such — and get to the bottom of so many crimes against humanity that have been carried out by order of Western powers — certainly co-equal to the crimes against humanity from the “lesser” powers in Rwanda and Burundi.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy is of special interest to me, see my summary reviews of Someone Would Have Talked, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, and A Farewell to Justice: Jim Garrison, JFK’s Assassination, and the Case That Should Have Changed History. This book and this author opens my eyes to the role of the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lyman Lemnitzer, fired by Kennedy and sent to NATO where he evidently spun a very wide weave.

The author provides details on the Russians using a PSYOP at the end of WWII, creating the myth of the Hitler redoubt, with the specific intent of distracting General Eisenhower and gaining time to take Berlin — their plan worked.

I read with amusement the author’s assessment of the National War College as the place where we park right-wing nutcases/neocons, and knowing some of them myself, cannot disagree–that is however a disservice to the 90% of NDU that is solidly in the middle.

The author is provocative as he weaves his documented tale about the degree to which all left of center groups were penetrated in the aftermath of WWII, and I see how easily the intelligence and security services might have found it to manipulate groups into doing violence — or into taking the blame for false flag violence. On the basis of this book as well as others, I speculate that at least half the “threat” against which the USA has devoted considerable time, treasure, and trust, has been FALSE — self-made.

The death of most significant Swedes standing up for Palestine gets my attention.

The “coincidence” of police training exercises in both London and Madrid, each closely associated with the actual train bombing that takes place in and around the exercise area, is profoundly disturbing — we now know that Dick Cheney scheduled the counter-terrorism exercise MONTHS before “the day,” and as I write this, I marvel at the ignorance of the public and the perhaps justified arrogance of those who create false terror to advance their own selfish ends.

I learn that Steve Pieczenik, a former deputy assistant secretary of state, was a Carter trouble-shooter, and I find this fascinating because the same Dr. Pieczenik came on record to call the CIA-JSOG raid to kill Bin Laden a false operation (Bin Laden having died a decade ago, a patsy was killed instead) and to say that there is new evidence against Dick Cheney in relation to 9/11.

I put the book down a bit frustrated — it is hard to make sense of so much detail, it really needs to be visualized with timelines and so on. However, this is a world-class book in terms of documentation, and setting aside the hyperbole, assumptions, and many small mistakes, I certainly recommend it.

We are all beginning to learn that governments lie to their publics as a matter of routine; that banks and corporations lie, cheat, and steal more more than the Mafia; and that the Catholic Church may be the world’s primary money-laundering network. It is in the context of a public slowly awakening to reality that I recommend this book as an excellent place to begin exploring and raise it to five stars.

I am limited to ten links. Here are two more, to browse my other 1,700 plus reviews visit Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog, where all reviews link back to their book’s Amazon page.

The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Shooting the Truth: The Rise of American Political Documentaries

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Feb 19

David Swanson: War and Being and Nothingness

David Swanson

War and Being and Nothingness

The best book I’ve read in a very long time is a new one: The End of War by John Horgan. Its conclusions will be vigorously resisted by many and yet, in a certain light, considered perfectly obvious to some others. The central conclusion — that ending the institution of war is entirely up to us to choose — was, arguably, reached by (among many others before and since) John Paul Sartre sitting in a café utilizing exactly no research.

Horgan is a writer for “Scientific American,” and approaches the question of whether war can be ended as a scientist. It’s all about research. He concludes that war can be ended, has in various times and places been ended, and is in the process (an entirely reversible process) of being ended on the earth right now.

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The war abolitionists of the 1920s Outlawry movement would have loved this book, would have seen it as a proper extension of the ongoing campaign to rid the world of war. But it is a different book from theirs. It does not preach the immorality of war. That idea, although proved truer than ever by the two world wars, failed to prevent the two world wars. When an idea’s time has come and also gone, it becomes necessary to prove to people that the idea wasn’t rendered impossible or naïve by “human nature” or grand forces of history or any other specter. Horgan, in exactly the approach required, preaches the scientific observation of the success (albeit incomplete as yet) of preaching the immorality of war.

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Jan 21

Review: The Military Industrial Compex at 50

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5.0 out of 5 stars America Desperately Needs More Illumination Such as This January 16, 2012

I received a review copy of this book [note to publishers: always ask first] and was glad to be offered a chance to read something as important as this. America desperately needs more illumination on the corruption in our government, and the evil done in our name without our permission but very much at our expense.

As a career veteran of the national security community–the Marine Corps and the Central Intelligence Agency–followed by seventeen years teaching 90 governments — 66 directly — how to get a grip on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) that provides 95% of what we need to know at 2% or less of the cost of what we spend now on secret intelligence–I am well-qualified to read this book from a patriot’s point of view.

A strong national defense capability does NOT exist in the USA today. Posturing fools such as Senator Rick Santorum have no idea what they are talking about when they seek to discredit those of us who do. The infantry, four percent of the force, takes eighty percent of the casualties and receives ONE PERCENT of the Pentagon budget. Within the other 99%, half–at least–is fraud, waste, and abuse that makes America weaker, not stronger.

This book, edited by David Swanson, is a very good deal at $25. Its 368 pages include chapters from thirty other authors besides the editor, and include contributions from Ray McGovern and Karen Kwiatkowski, whose work I have admired in the past. If there were one flaw in the book, but not so serious as to lose a star, it would be its isolation from the pioneering work done by Pierre Sprey, Chuck Spinney, and Winslow Wheeler, with a genuflection toward John Boyd, the real pioneer of smart sufficient national security.

What is uniquely valuable about this book, something I have not seen elsewhere, is its provision of a holistic examination not just of the military-industrial process and fraudulent, wasteful, abusive bad design, bad performance, and bad cost, but of the costs that the military-industrial complex imposes on all of us and our economy and our society. This is a world-class book that should be translated into other languages to help others avoid our long-running mistakes.

Here are the blinding flashes of solid insight that stayed with me and merit the broadest possible public understanding:

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Jan 16

Review: Lines of Fire – A Renegade Writes on Strategy, Intelligence, and Security

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Ralph Peters

5.0 out of 5 stars Six Star Epilogue, the Capstone Work, September 26, 2011

I have been a fan of Ralph Peters for over fifteen years now, going back to the early 1990’s when the US Marine Corps was trying to get the Secretary of Defense (then Dick Cheney) to focus on most likely vice worst case threats. Having been the senior civilian responsible for creating the Marine Corps Intelligence Center, and the Study Director for the flagship study, Planning and Programming Factors for Expeditionary Operations in the Third World, I recognized both his deep integrity and his broad intelligence, both so uncharacteristic of the near-venal to all-banal US secret intelligence community that I had served since 1976.

This is his capstone work. Below are a few of his most notable recent works, there are many others, and I also recommend his Owen Parry series on the Civil War. If you only get one book by Ralph Peters, this is the one to buy.

Endless War: Middle-Eastern Islam vs. Western Civilization
Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the Twenty-First Century
Never Quit the Fight
Fighting for the Future: Will America Triumph?

2012 in my view is a turning point year for America, and I pray that it is the year that citizens with integrity kick politicians without integrity (all of them) out of office and get a clean sheet fresh start in recreating a government of, by, and for We the People instead of what we have now, what Matt Taibbi describes so well in Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History, “a highly complicated merger of crime and policy, of stealing and government.”

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Sep 26