Review: Air Power in UN Operations – Wings for Peace

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Walter Dorn (editor) et al

5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering Practical Work on Future of Aviation — Not Just UN — in Peace and War, August 29, 2014

This book — I disclose that my chapter is one of two concluding chapters — is one of the most practical, comprehensive, and perhaps — we all hope — inspirational books to be published on aviation applications for peace and war in recent memory. Since Look Inside the Book is not available, I will first list the parts and chapters, and then summarize my appreciation for this pioneering endeavor.

PART I THE UN’S FIRST “AIR FORCE”
01 Planning, Organizing, and Commanding Air Operations in the Congo, 1960
02 Peacekeepers in Combat: Fighter Jets and Bombers in the Congo, 1961-1963
03 A Fine Line: Use of Force, the Cold War, and Canada’s Air Support for the UN Organization in the Congo

PART II AIRLIFT: LIFELINE FOR UN MISSIONS
04 Above the Rooftop of the World: Canadian Air Operations in Kashmir and Along the India-Pakistan Border
05 Humanitarian Relief in Haiti, 2010: Honing the Partnership between the US Air Force and the UN
06 Flying Humanitarians: The UN Humanitarian Air Service

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Aug 29

Review: Using Data Sharing to Improve Coordination in Peacebuilding: Report of a Workshop on Technology, Science, and Peacebuilding

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Andrew Robertson and Steve Olson (eds.)

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent First Step, Four Disappointments, January 2, 2013

This is one of the more useful reports to come out of the US Institute of Peace and its collaborative effort with the National Academy of Engineering and I highly recommend it for either free reading online at the National Academies Press (individual) or for library purchase for the information, intelligence, diplomacy, civil-military, stabilization & reconstruction, and decision-support sections.

The goals are worthy but overly scientific & technical (the cultural part always comes first): to apply science and technology to the process of peacebuilding and stabilization; to promote systematic communications among organizations across political and other boundaries; and to apply science and technology to pressing conflict issues. La di dah. I just want to know if there is a dead donkey at the bottom of this particular well.

Secondary and equally ambitious goals that their current staffing model cannot support:
1. Adopt the agricultural extension services model to peacebuilding
2. Use data sharing to improve coordination in peacebuilding
3. Sense emerging conflicts (at least they realize the secret intelligence world does NOT do this)
4. Harness systems methods for delivery of peacebuilding services.

FOUR STRONG THEMES MAKE THIS BOOK VALUABLE:
1. Data sharing requires working across a technology-culture divide
2. Information sharing requires building and maintaining trust
3. Information sharing requires linking civilian-military policy discussions to technology
4. Collaboration software needs to be aligned with user needs.

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Jan 2

Review: Homeland Earth

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Edgar Morin and Anne Brigitte Kern

5.0 out of 5 stars Six Star Keeper – Joins Durant, Fuller, Ackoff,July 1, 2012

This is a PHENOMENAL book, a joint effort by Edgar Moron, whose life’s work includes Method: Towards a Study of Humankind, Vol. 1: The Nature of Nature (American University Studies Series, No. 5, Philosophy, Vol. 3). Today I am ordering Seven Complex Lessons in Education for the Future (Education on the Move). The translators Sean M. Kelly and Roger LaPointe merit recognition — this is as fine a translation of a complex mind’s work as I have ever encountered.

I donated my entire library to George Mason University when I joined the United Nations in 2010 (little realizing the depth of the corruption I would encounter — and soon leave in the same year). Among all my books, I kept back three: Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition, Lessons of History 1ST Edition, and Ideas and Integrities: A Spontaneous Autobiographical Disclosure. This book joins that august group.

If I were president of a university, these four books would be required reading, along perhaps with High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them and Designing a World That Works for All: How the Youth of the World are Creating Real-World Solutions for the UN Millenium Development Goals and Beyond.

Since Look Inside the Book is not provided for this extraordinary work, I will list the 9 chapter here (each with over ten sub-titles not listed here):

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Jul 1

Review: Keeping Watch – Monitoring Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations

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Walter Dorn

5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Contribution to UN and to Literature,August 13, 2011

Professor Walter Dorn is the de facto dean of the small number of scholars who study the specific topic of peacekeeping intelligence, or intelligence support to United Nations (UN) operations. Since his pioneering early studies of UN successes in the Congo in the 1960′s to his more recent articles on the introduction of the Joint Military Analysis Centre (JMAC) in Haiti, he is both the closest academic observer, and the most well-written in this area.

I read this book with great interest. It is the first comprehensive look at technologies that are directly applicable to the fulfillment of UN mandates, the design and security of multinational forces, the effective management of tactical campaigns, and of course being technical, it is the first and last word on surveillance technologies vital to peacekeeping and peace enforcement across vast regions.

Pending the “Inside the Book” feature being available for this just published book, here is the table of contents from my own copy.

1 Introduction
2 The Evolution of Peacekeeping
3 Monitoring: The Constant Need
4 Survey of Technologies
5 Aerial Surveillance: Eye in the Sky
6 Traditional Peacekeeping: Cases
7 Modern Multidimensional Peacekeeping: Cases
8 Current UN Standards: Starting from Near Zero
9 Challenges and Problems
10 Recommendations
11 Conclusions

I recently attending a conference on the history and future of UN Air Power, and in both my own presentations and those of others, “Peace from Above” was a recurring theme. The importance of assuring that UN elements have the best possible human and technical surveillance technologies cannot be understated–for modest investments–including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles–the UN can save lives, money, and time–on the latter point, Colin Gray, in Modern Strategy, observes that time is the one strategic variable that can neither be purchased nor replaced.

A word on pricing: as those who follow my reviews know, I will occasionally single out extraordinary books that are so grotesquely priced as to dishonor the entire publishing world. This book is perfectly priced, close to my standard of page count with one decimal. I salute the UN Press for bringing this book into the world. It should become a standard volume, not only for UN training classes, but for all war colleges as well as for commercial security training and operations.

See Also:

Peacekeeping Intelligence: Emerging Concepts for the Future

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Aug 13

Review: Who Governs the Globe?

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Deborah Avant, Martha Finnemore, Susan Sell (editors)

5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering work too slow to be published,July 24, 2011<

This is a very fine book that is also available free in conference form (search for <Who Governs the Globe conference>), but of course not paginated, formatted, indexed, and generally edited, all values of the book form.

I personally missed this book when it came out, just as I missed two other pioneering works, Global Public Policy: Governing Without Government? in 1998 and Critical Choices. The United Nations, Networks, and the Future of Global Governance in 2000. It was the appointment of Reinicke to be the dean of the school of public policy at the Central European University, and George Soros’ essay “My Philanthropy” (the first 57 pages in The Philanthropy of George Soros: Building Open Societies that focused my attention.

Although I have been a student of revolution my entire life, it was not until 2003 when J. F. Rischard, then Vice President for Europe of the World Bank, published High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them that I started to focus on hybrid governance, and it was in the same year that Dr. Col Max Manwaring edited The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century, a book that began my deeper questioning of the lack of authenticity and legitimacy within the U.S. Government.

The book should have been brought to market much sooner–three years in this modern era is very disappointing, especially when combined with the lack of follow-up. The Institute for Global and International Studies appears to have begun winding down in 2009 and its website is a a real disappointment. In brief, the collaboration represented in this book, which is superb, has not been continued. While it does not address the criminal underbelly of what Matt Taibbi calls the blending of finance and government into a massive crime family (see Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America), it is a fine foundation effort that touches on standards, norms, successes, and failures. It does not create a proposed methodology for further research, it does hit on the high points of authority, legitimacy, and accountability–attributes that many governments and corporations and NGO/IOs cannot claim to possess.

Having said that, I consider it to be, along with the books above and a few others, such as A Democratic Approach to Sustainable Futures: A Workbook for Addressing the Global Problematique, Measuring Evolution, and How People Harness Their Collective Wisdom And Power to Construct the Future (Research in Public Management (Unnumbered).), the tip of the iceberg and an excellent starting point.

Everyone else is writing about governments that do not work, or NGOs that lies, cheat, and steal, or corporations that run amok and are predatory and corrupting. This book taps into norms and standards and possibilities, but it leaves a great deal unsaid, and clearly needs a follow-on volume that integrates academics, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and NGOs/non-profits, with a deliberate focus on how they might strive to achieve what the UN High Level Panel on Coherence called for, the ability of disparate organizations to “deliver as one.” One policy-harmonization option is multinational multiagency multidisciplinary, multidomain information-sharing and sense-making (M4IS2), and sadly no one anywhere seems interested in this foundation topic.

With my last remaining link, I will mention Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny, a book that was recommended to me by Tom Atlee (see his two books here on Amazon, one on co-creation the other on evolutionary activism). Today’s “system” is corrupt in the extreme, not least because of the information asymmetries between the 1% wealthy and the rest of us. What the book–and the general literature on IO/NGO empowerment with information technologies–do not address is how one achieves shared intelligence (decision support) such that corruption and waste are eradicated, and disparate entities are harmonized into delivering just enough just in time voluntarily–sharing information in real time is the key. If the authors and the Institute can delve into this more deeply, their potential contribution is potentially priceless.

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Jul 24

Worth a Look: Who Governs the Globe?

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Review

“This path-breaking collaborative work illuminates complex social and political relationships that constitute governing authority in a changing world. New questions provoke deeper reflection than the term ‘global governance’ typically stimulates. Specialists need to read this fine book, and so do students.”   Louis W. Pauly, Canada Research Chair in Globalization and Governance, University of Toronto

“This volume makes and illustrates an important fact about global governance today: it isn’t only or always the institutional form of actors – be they states, corporations, or NGOs – but their relationships with key constituencies and with one another that shape governance outcomes. Authority, the essence of governance, comes in many guises. I recommend this book highly.”   John Gerard Ruggie, Harvard University

Product Description

Academics and policymakers frequently discuss global governance but they treat governance as a structure or process, rarely considering who actually does the governing. This volume focuses on the agents of global governance: ‘global governors’. The global policy arena is filled with a wide variety of actors such as international organizations, corporations, professional associations, and advocacy groups, all seeking to ‘govern’ activity surrounding their issues of concern. Who Governs the Globe? lays out a theoretical framework for understanding and investigating governors in world politics. It then applies this framework to various governors and policy arenas, including arms control, human rights, economic development, and global education. Edited by three of the world’s leading international relations scholars, this is an important contribution that will be useful for courses, as well as for researchers in international studies and international organizations.

Original Conference with Presented Papers (2007)

Conference: Who Governs the Globe?
November 16 & 17, 2007

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Jul 20

Review: Flawed Diplomacy–The United Nations & the War on Terrorism

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Victor C. Comras

4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the General Reader, VERY Focused on Bureaucracy

December 1, 2010

The price is excellent. You cannot get a better deal than $20 for a book of this substance. HOWEVER, this is not a book for the general reader. It would be excellent as a paperback for a senior or graduate course, akin to The Army Gets an Air Force: Tactics of Insurgent Bureaucratic Politics, but as a negative case study.

Going through the book I recognized several issues that could be corrected or could be addressed by other readings. For what it sets out to do, document the agonizing inertia and general lack of savoir faire of the United Nations bureaucracy and its political protocols, it is as good as anything I have seen.

It desperately needs some charts, timelines, anything to spice up the dry text. Even photographs. I would have liked more comparative information, such as side by side depictions of where different elements came down or different countries came down, on specifics.

The author strives to provide some historical background but gets it wrong on more than one occasion, to be expected when someone is not steeped in history or reading very deeply across the literature. Below I list some books that have helped me appreciate the larger context of terrorism as a symptom, not a threat. Terrorism is directly correlated with US occupation of foreign lands and US support for dictators….this is straight forward and absolutely shut out by those who love war for its selfish power to enrich the few over the many.

Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush
The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Vintage)
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Shapes Our World
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the Twenty-First Century
While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within
American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us

There are many more. See my many books lists, most captured in the two top lists, one positive, one negative, visible at REVIEWS at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.

This book is fairly priced, well put together, based on deep real experience, and if you want minutia about how screwed up the UN system is on this particular topic (and generally incoherent on all topics), this is the book.

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Dec 1

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

Worth a Look: Flawed Diplomacy–UN and the War on Terrorism

Berto Jongman Recommends....

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There have been numerous attempts to engage the United Nations in a meaningful campaign against state-supported and other terrorist activities. But the inherently political nature of terrorism has made it exceedingly difficult to gain global consensus on who even qualifies as a terrorist, much less agreement on counterterrorism measures to pursue.

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The rise of al Qaeda, the events of 9/11, the Madrid train bombing, and the London mass transit bombings provided the international community and United Nations with new impetus to respond to terrorism. Although a series of international conventions were adopted and a short-lived independent monitoring group was established, the strategy that UN secretary general Kofi Annan proposed to the General Assembly in May 2006 contains many proposed measures and objectives that remain unfulfilled, thus rendering the UN virtually impotent against terrorism.

As one of five Security Council–appointed international monitors on the measures being taken against al Qaeda and the Taliban, Comras had the rare opportunity to observe the UN’s counterterrorism activities. He delves into the UN’s role in dealing with terrorism, explores the international political realities and institutional problems that make it difficult for the UN to successfully implement and monitor counterterrorism measures, and describes both the UN’s successes and failures, ultimately laying out a case for creating a stronger, more effective UN response. Flawed Diplomacy is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the war on terrorism and in gaining knowledge about the UN’s inner workings.

About the Author

Victor D. Comras is a leading expert on international sanctions and the global effort to combat terrorism and money laundering. A seasoned U.S. career diplomat, Comras frequently testifies before Congress on these issues and is a regular commentator on radio and television. His articles have appeared in numerous online journals and in the Washington Post, the Financial Times, and other publications. He is also a contributor to Terrorism Financing and State Responses: A Comparative Perspective (2007). He resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

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Nov 22

Review: Blue Gold–The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water

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5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Star Plus Foundation Work,

August 28, 2010

Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke

I read the authors’ more recent Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water yesterday and watched the also more recent Blue Gold: World Water Wars last night, all in the context of raeding 12 books on water I bought for a UNESCO project I had to drop from when I joined the UN in Guatemala (which I am leaving 31 August).

This is a six-star and beyond foundation work, and even though I continue to think that Marq de Villier’s Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource is the original tour d’force (published in 2001), and that the The Water Atlas: A Unique Visual Analysis of the World’s Most Critical Resource is still the best buy over-all, this book joins with Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit as a foundation contribution. The authors received the Right Livelihood Award, called the Alternative Nobel, for the work that this book represents, so I urge readers to dismiss the ideologically-rooted and intellectually dishonest appraisals of this book as leftist pap.

Published in 2002, this book is more of an overview briefing, and it does that very well. I learn early on:
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Aug 28