Review (Guest): The Tyranny of Experts – Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor

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5.0 of 5.0 Stars Why development takes place (or doesn’t) By Mal Warwick on April 3, 2014

This book is full of surprises.

In The Tyranny of Experts, the author of the seminal book The White Man’s Burden drills down into the history of economic development around the world in search of its causes. What he finds has little to do with any of the factors bandied about among contemporary development professionals.

“The conventional approach to economic development, to making poor countries rich,” William Easterly writes, “is based on a technocratic illusion: the belief that poverty is a purely technical problem amenable to such technical solutions as fertilizers, antibiotics, or nutritional supplements . . . The technocratic approach ignores what this book will establish as the real cause of poverty — the unchecked power of the state against poor people without rights.”

Instead, Easterly maintains, the fundamental pre-condition for successful development is democracy paired with deep understanding of local history. He calls the establishment of the World Bank “the moment of original sin . . . in which the Bank disavowed the ideals of freedom . . .”

Academia has been good to William Easterly. Presumably, when he was forced out of the World Bank because of his outspoken criticism of the Bank’s support for corrupt regimes and pro-Western favoritism, he was looking for a platform on which he could continue his campaign to shift the consensus among development professionals from top-down “solutions” to support for bottom-up, grassroots initiatives. He’s gotten that platform, but his position on the faculty of New York University has also moved him to dig more deeply into the intellectual roots of his thinking. The Tyranny of Experts is one result.

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Apr 26

Review: In An Unspoken Voice – How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness

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Peter A. Levine

5.0 out of 5 stars Demands Careful Reading, A Capstone Book that Emphasizes BALANCE, April 21, 2014

I read this book at the same time as Cyntia Sue Larson’s Quantum Jumps: An Extraordinary Science of Happiness and Prosperity and E. Graham Howe as edited by William Stranger, The Druid of Harley Street: The Spiritual Psychology of E. Graham Howe. In line to be read as part of this series is also Guy Muchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration of Science and Philosophy.

This is by no means an easy read but its bottom-line (bearing in mind that the author has been writing many books on this theme, this is the latest) is clear: Sound Mind in a Sound Body. Others would add Sound Soul and Sound Heart at well. In other words, the mind is carried in the host, the body, and the totality of the nervous system, the skeletal system, the muscle system, the bio-chemical soup system, are all critical to how well the mind functions and how well the mind — including the unconscious — heals in the aftermath of trauma.

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Apr 21

Review: The Technology of Nonviolence

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Joseph G. Bock

5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering Work, Deserves a Great Deal of Attention, April 29, 2013

I am shocked that there are no reviews of this book. Brought to my attention by Berto Jongman, one of the top researchers in Europe with a special talent at the intersection of terrorism and related violence (e.g. genocide) and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), he knew this is an area that is of very high interest to me.

The book passed my very first test, with more than ample references to Dr. Patrick Meier, a pioneer in crisis mapping, SMS translations and plotting by diasporas, and humanitarian ICT generally. I strongly recommend his blog and expect him to produce a book of his own soon.

The primary focus here is on social media via hand-held devices. It assumes a working Internet and does not have a great deal of focus on the urgency of achieving an Autonomous Internet, and more fully exploiting Liberation Technology and Open Source Everything (OSE), the latter my special interest along with M4IS2 (Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making).

Use Inside the Book to see the chapters and appendices. The author makes clear two major points early on:

01 Grassroots is where its at, not top down macro

02 Technology alone is not enough, organizing — the hard long road of grassroots organizing — is essential.

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Apr 29

Review: Making Friends Among the Taliban

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Jonathan P. Larson

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Eye Opener, Should be Mandatory Reading for War Colleges, Diplomats, and White SOF,November 9, 2012

I received this book as a gift. It is a bracing book and although short, at 130 pages, it merits slow and deliberate consideration. I got goose-bumps at multiple points and put the book down reflecting on how sad it is that our foreign policy and our military occupations are not better informed about the information peacekeeping (a term I coined in the 1990’s) possibilities of low-cost humans who speak the language and understand the nuances of conflict at the individual level.

This book is in every possible way, the absolute counterpart, contrast, and nay-sayer to the CIA-managed drone program that kills indiscriminately, at great expense, from which we will reap a continuing harvest of hatred, fear, and enduring mistrust.

Although I have read other books, and list them with Amazon links below, that offer similar insights, this is a first-person story with specifics that I consider so provocative and so valuable that I recommend it as assigned reading for every Special Operations A Team member, for every Special Operations schoolhouse, for every War College where we fail to teach White SOF as an alternative, and for every diplomat and international development employee, both at entry level and mid-career. I would go so far as to suggest that a week could usefully be spent by every conference group and foreign affairs class, on this book and the others listed below.

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Nov 9

Review: We Meant Well – How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People

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Peter Van Buren

5.0 out of 5 stars 5.0 out of 5 stars Six Stars & Beyond–Open Heart Surgury on a Corrupt Ignorant Government,September 29, 2011

FINAL REVIEW

The author himself begins the book with a reference to Dispatches (Everyman’s Library Classics & Contemporary Classics) followed by Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition, to which I would add A Rumor of War. This is a great book, an important book, and I salute the Department of State people with integrity that approved it for publication, while scorning the seventh floor craven autocrats that have bullied the author for telling the truth. This book is the real deal, and I have multiple notes along the lines of gifted writing, humble *and* erudite, quiet humor, ample factual detail, gonzo-gifted prose, an eye for compelling detail, *absorbing,* a catalog of absurdities and how not to occupy a country.

Late in my notes I write “Reality so rich it stuns. A time capsule, priceless deep insights into occupation at its worst.”

And also write down an alternative subtitle: “The Zen of Government Idiocy Squared.”

This is a book, from a single vantage point, of the specifics of “pervasive waste and inefficiency, mistaken judments, flawed policies, and structural weakness.” Speaking of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT), the author says “We were the ones who famously helped past together feathers year after year, hoping for a duck.”

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Sep 30

Review: Full Spectrum Diplomacy and Grand Strategy – Reforming the Structure and Culture of U.S. Foreign Policy

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John Lenczowski

5.0 out of 5 stars Long Needed Treatise, But Too Expensive,September 21, 2011

EDIT of 11 December 2011: Gene Poteat, President of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) has an excellent review of this book in the Summer/Fall 2011 issue of Intelligencer. The following quote is from his review, it captures the essence with perfection:

“The weakness and deteriorating standing of America in the world today is the failure to take into account the role of information, disinformation, ideas, values, culture, and religion plays in the influence and conduct of foreign and national security policy.”

While the above glosses over the corporate capture and abject corruption of all three branches of the Federal government, it certainly summarizes and recommends the book in question. See also my graphic, “Information Pathologies,” loaded above next to cover.

End Edit

In the midst of an economic depression, it is a real shame to see a book that is so very relevant to unscrewing the Republic, and also see the same book terribly over-priced. At 230 pages this book should be offered at 24.95, and a donor should be found to permit the author to speak to the Department of State via the Secretary’s Open Forum, with a free copy of the book to every person attending.

Click on Image to Enlarge

The author is the founder of the Institute of World Politics, a rather unique institution that offers three Masters programs and that strives to do what no other university can claim: to teach a mastery of all of the instruments of national power, and to teach how culture, ethics, strategy, and philosophy can come together to drive Whole of Government planning, programming, budgeting, and execution so as to advance both the prosperity and the protection of the Republic.

This book came to my attention after I found and truly enjoyed another book out of the Institute of World Policy, by Cultural Intelligence for Winning the Peace by Juliana Geran Pilon. Everything I read about the Institute, or by those associated with it, offers a very strong, coherent, culturally-compelling vision of how to advance positive values inherent in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.

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Sep 21

Worth a Look: Backpacks Full of Hope–The UN Mission in Haiti

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Backpacks Full of Hope: The UN Mission in Haiti describes the experience of a Chilean general as Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) during the particularly turbulent year September 2005 to September 2006. It details the realities of commanding more than 7,000 men from eleven countries while working to fulfill the mandate of the United Nations in Haiti—to ensure a secure and stable environment, to support the transitional government in a democratic political process, and to promote and protect the human rights of the Haitian people.

Despite the enormous challenges of a complex scenario that included local violence and extreme poverty, the UN command succeeded in its mission, stabilizing the local situation and paving the way for Haiti to hold a presidential election.

Originally published as Mision en Haiti, con la mochila cargada de esperanzas, this work provides a new audience with insight on the peace operation and sheds light on the long-term endeavour of civilians, military, and local and international agencies to support Haiti’s path to prosperity.

Co-published with the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

See Free by the Same Author:

Reference (2): United Nations Intelligence in Haiti

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Nov 28