Review (Guest): Dynamics Among Nations – The Evolution of Legitimacy and Development in Modern States

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Hilton Root

5.0 out of 5.0 Stars Complexity thinking that shifts the paradigms of international relations

By J. P. Massing on December 5, 2013

In ‘Dynamics Among Nations’, Professor Hilton Root convincingly challenges the propositions of the liberal international consensus and re-frames the prevailing conceptualisation of development by introducing complexity thinking to the fields of political economy and international relations.

I highly recommend this intellectually stimulating and excellently written book to decision makers, researchers and students – as well as to anyone who is interested in gaining an advanced and well-informed understanding of the complex realities of development and global policy.

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Apr 14

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: American Interests in South Asia (Ho Ho Ho)

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Nicholas Burns (Editor) , Jonathon Price (Editor) , Joseph S. Nye Jr. (Foreword) , Brent Scowcroft (Foreword)

3.0 out of 5 stars Parallel Universe — Divorced from Reality, September 20, 2013

I am in Afghanistan with the opportunity to think about all of the external and internal realities impacting on 2014, and this book attracted my immediately interest, along with Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure: A War Doomed By The Coalition’s Strategies, Policies and Political Correctness. If I had the time I would buy and read both books, but sadly I have to focus on the here and now with just two comments:

01 All of these big names write great stuff, but I have to ask myself, who are they writing for? Who, if anyone is listening? Among all these great ideas, there is not a single one that has been implemented, funded, sustained, or effective. So why do we have smart people and think tanks? Are they a form of public entertainment, of public self-stroking, completely removed from the reality that the White House and Congress are so lacking in moral and intellectual fortitude as to be a constant danger to both the Republic and all other nations?

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Sep 20

Review (Guest): Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

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Radley Balko

5.0 out of 5 stars A must read! July 1, 2013

By John J. Baeza

In his new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, author Radley Balko provides a detailed history of our decline into a police state.

He works his way through this history in a sound way describing police raid upon police raid gone terribly wrong, resulting in a useless loss of life. He discusses police agencies that serve populations of only 1,000 people but receive federal funding for military-type weapons and tank-style vehicles. We have also seen a total disregard for “The Castle Doctrine” which has been held dear by our citizens since the colonial days. The “Castle Doctrine” is the idea that a man’s home is his castle and a warrant signed by a judge is necessary to enter and search the “castle.” Balko cogently explains the reason for all of this: The war on drugs and the war on terror are really wars on our own people.

A profession that I was once proud to serve in has become a militarized police state. Officers are quicker to draw their guns and use their tanks than to communicate with people to diffuse a situation. They love to use their toys and when they do, people die.

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Jul 7

Review: The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam

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Akbar Ahmed

5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star (My Top 10%) — The Book Susan Rice Should Read First, June 6, 2013

I received and read this book today, and while I am troubled by the author’s buying into the Bin Laden story and the official 9/11 cover-up, this is a six-star book that easily provides one stellar concept that must be integrated into the fabric of every foreign policy — understanding the failures of the centers in each state with respect to the more traditional peripheries — and a deep broad articulation of why the US “war on terror” has actually been a thoughtless unnecessarily expensive and harmful war on tribes.

Ignore those who demean this book or this author. I generally consider Brookings to be expert at publishing dumbed down talking points for loosely-educated policy makers, but this book is easily in the top tier, a book Cambridge or Oxford would be comfortable published, and a book that ties in perfectly with Philip Allot’s extraordinary book The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State. Read my review of that book as a pre-quel to reading this book, which I certainly recommend in the strongest possible terms.

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Jun 6

Review (Guest): The End of Power: From Boardrooms to Battlefields and Churches to States, Why Being In Charge Isn’t What It Used to Be

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Moises Naim

4.0 out of 5 stars What kind of power, for whom, and for what?, May 31, 2013

By Tom Atlee (Eugene, OR USA) – See all my reviews

Moises Naim’s new book THE END OF POWER should properly be called “The Decay of Power”. His thesis is that while it is becoming easier to get power, it is also becoming harder to use it to control others and harder to keep it once you have it.

Naim suggests that globalization, economic growth, a growing global middle class, the spread of democracy, and rapidly expanding telecommunications technologies have changed our world. Together these developments have created a fluid and unpredictable environment which has unsettled the traditional dominions of power.

Three revolutions, he says, “make it more difficult to set up and defend the barriers to power that keep rivals at bay.” He details these revolutions as follows:
* “the More revolution, which is characterized by increases in everything from the number of countries to population size, standards of living, literacy rates, and quantity of products on the market”;
* “the Mobility revolution, which has set people, goods, money, ideas, and values moving at hitherto unimagined rates toward every corner of the planet”; and
* “the Mentality revolution, which reflects the major changes in mindsets, expectations, and aspirations that have accompanied these shifts.”

In other words, says Naim, there is too much going on, too much moving around, too many changing demands and perspectives – and at any time someone new can show up and effectively challenge or undermine your power. In addition, “when people are more numerous and living fuller lives, they become more difficult to regiment and control.” Among other things, such people value transparency, human rights, and fairness to women and minorities – and they share a sense that “things do not need to be as they have always been – that there is always…a better way” and that they need not “take any distribution of power for granted.”

All this is happening at the very time when large hierarchical institutions are losing their “economies of scale” and becoming increasingly difficult to manage, while smaller, more flexible organizations and networks are proving increasingly successful.

Naim provides compelling evidence that power is decaying in all these ways in all fields – from business, governance, geopolitics, and military affairs to religion, philanthropy, labor, and journalism.

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May 31

Review (Guest): Surveillance or Security?: The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies

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Susan Landau

5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive text on the topic July 8, 2011

Ben Rothke

Surveillance or Security?: The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies is a hard book to categorize. It is not about security, but it deals extensively with it. It is not a law book, but legal topics are pervasive throughout the book. It is not a telecommunications book, but extensively details telco issues. Ultimately, the book is a most important overview of security and privacy and the nature of surveillance in current times.

Surveillance or Security? is one of the most pragmatic books on the topic is that the author never once uses the term Big Brother. Far too many books on privacy and surveillance are filled with hysteria and hyperbole and the threat of an Orwellian society. This book sticks to the raw facts and details the current state, that of insecure and porous networks around a surveillance society.

In this densely packed work, Susan Landau, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University details the myriad layers around surveillance, national security, information security and privacy. Landau writes that her concern is not about legally authorized law enforcement and nationally security wiretapping; rather about the security risks of building surveillance into communications infrastructures.

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Apr 30

Review (Guest): The Open Source Everything Manifesto – Transparency, Truth & Trust

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Robert David Steele

5.0 out of 5 stars PREPARE TO HAVE YOUR MIND BLOWN!,June 24, 2012

B. Tweed DeLions “B.T.”

If there’s a single Founding Father of the Open Source movement, Robert D. Steele is it. Everyone else has been playing catchup. And if you don’t know what the Open Source revolution is, you need to read this book. You don’t even need to know why! You need to buy it, read it, and then you’ll *know* why. No other book on Open Source can open your eyes the way this one can. That’s because there’s no potential use of Open Source intelligence that Steele hasn’t anticipated. Collective Intelligence is coming! It’s an unstoppable force. And it will change everything. So if you like to know about things like that in advance, you need to buy this book.

The information age that was created by personal computers was just a kiddie car with a squeaky horn. By comparison, the open source revolution is a freight train. Its potential to change your world is orders of magnitude greater. This is not hyperbole. In fact superlatives can’t begin to express the ground-shaking potential of this next wave of human evolution.

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Jun 24

Review (Guest): Westmoreland – The General Who Lost Vietnam – Includes Second Review With Contextual Detail on Failure of Intelligence (Including Soviets Owning US Crypto)

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Lewis Sorley

A Man Promoted Above his Ability September 12, 2011

By Hrafnkell Haraldsson VINE™ VOICE

I grew up during the Vietnam War. I was seven years old when General William Westmoreland was sent to Vietnam by LBJ to take charge of things there. I was eleven when he lost his job and by then, had lost us the war. Vietnam was in the news the entire time, on TV, in the paper, in Time Magazine – as was Westmoreland’s iconic chin. Being the son of military parents I’d early gotten the history bug and I was fascinated by what was taking place over in Southeast Asia, even if I didn’t understand it well. As I grew older, and things over there grew worse, I began to wonder how we could possibly lose such a war (as I thought it was) against such a small country.

Lewis Sorely’s “Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam” will tell you how. Sorely has the credentials for this book. He is himself a graduate of West Point. He served in Vietnam. He even served in the office of the Army Chief of Staff, General William C. Westmoreland, and taught at West Point. This isn’t just a book by some journalist trying to get at the bottom of things. Sorely has been “at the bottom of things” and he has done the leg work over a period of years, talking to 175 people in his search for the events he here recounts.

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May 18

Review: Britain’s Empire – Resistance, Repression and Revolt

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Richard Gott

5.0 out of 5 stars Preliminary Review: Understanding the Trade-Offs & True Cost of Empire,December 8, 2011

I have ordered this book and am very much looking forward to providing readers (and myself, this is how I keep notes) with one of my more detailed reviews. The publisher is to be scolded for not using Inside the Book, one of Amazon’s best features, and for failing to provide the best possible use of the Book Description and Editorial Reviews section. While the existing review is good and I have voted for it, it does not do this book justice. My decision to buy was based on the easily found review in The Guardian (UK) by Richard Drayton, “Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression, and Revolt by Richard Gott — review,” published 7 December 2011.

Where I am going to go with my review is toward an in-depth articulation of what has never been done before that I know of, an examination of the trade-offs of Empire and the opportunity costs of Epoch A hierarchical “rule by secrecy.” I have reviewed many books on Empire, Class War, Elite Rule, all easily found in master list online, Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative). I also recommend the observe, Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive).

Russell Ackoff would say that Empire represents centuries of doing the wrong thing righter–and at greater expense across the political-legal, socio-economic, ideo-cultural, techno-demographic, and natural-geographic domains. As we approach the Mayan calendar’s start date for Epoch B, 12 December 2012, many of us are conscious that we must abandon old ways and rethink how we organize society. Occupy is a sympton of this – organized people against organized money, organized consciousness against organized violence.

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Dec 8