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

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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 New Story – Storytelling as a Pathway to Peace

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Inger Lise Oelrich

5.0 out of 5 stars Addresses a Major Vacuum in Our Approach to Any Challenge, 16 Dec 2014

This is a hugely important book that I hope will become popular in the USA, and translated into other languages. I learned of its existence while attending a Findhorn Foundation event in Scotland, “The New Story Summit.” At one point there was a discussion of how United Nations “peacekeepers” are sent in to keep the peace but do so at the point of a gun, without any training in human interaction or the fundamentals of story-telling, narrative weaving, listening, observing, and all the other human “arts.” This one story impressed me greatly.

Having now read the book, I want to emphasize my enchantment by confessing that I am a Naked Truth kind of person, the diametric opposite of the Story Teller. As with UN peacekeepers, I have been badly trained, equipped, and organized for a world in which conversation and story-telling are alternatives to confrontation and violence.

Although the author and the book focus on the role of story-telling in relation to peace-making, I would emphasize its value in creating common prosperity at well — in creating the means of self-governance with respect for the limits of nature and the importance of doing no harm.

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Dec 17

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

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James Stavridis

5 Stars Essential Reading from the Finest Naval Officer of a Generation

ByMichael N. Pocalykoon November 3, 2014

Admiral James Stavridis is the finest naval officer of a generation and almost parenthetically a magnificently gifted writer. This memoir, his second, is an incredibly incisive book packed with meaning, history, and introspection. Published just after his retirement from active duty and taking the helm of The Fletcher School, THE ACCIDENTAL ADMIRAL is required reading for anyone seeking to understand the challenges and struggles of modern statecraft from a distinctly military vantage.

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Dec 9