Review: STOP, THIEF! The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance

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Peter Linebaugh

5.0 out of 5 stars David Bollier’s Review is Better, This Is My Attempt, April 21, 2014

I was very impressed by David Bollier’s review of this book at his web site (look for < “Stop, Thief!” – Peter Linebaugh’s New Collection of Essays > and am encouraging him to port that excellent review here to Amazon. Indeed, after working my way through the book myself, I consider myself unable to do proper justice to this deep work that integrates history, poetry, political economy, anthropology, and sociology among other disciplines. Hence I hope others will write substantive summary reviews and I again recommend Bollier’s review above.

Three thoughts keep recurring as I went through this book of original current essays and presentations:

01 Holy Cow. This guy is DEEP and BROAD in terms of arcane as well as popular sources, delving down into little known poems, essays, public statements, etcetera. This book is the one book version of the Durant’s Story of Civilization applied to one topic, the commons.

02 Holy Cow. This is what my top political science professor was trying to explain when I was in college in 1970-1974 – yes, a half century ago — and I was just not smart enough, patient enough, to appreciate it.

03 Holy Cow. This book is not just subversive, it does a magnificent job of head slapping every politician, economists, talking head, and other pretender who presumes to talk about public welfare without for one instant understanding that wages are a form of slavery and disconnection of humanity from everything else. Lionel Tiger makes related points in The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System but this book — if you focus and do not get lost in the poetry and minutia of exemplar citation — beats the commons versus capitalism drum along every possible note on the musical scale.

Among my high-level notes:

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Apr 29

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 (Guest): Intelligence for Earth – Clarity, Diversity, Integrity & Sustainability

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5.0 out of 5.0 Stars One visionary’s way out of the Corporate Feudalism/International Conflict trap

By Herbert L Calhoun on April 1, 2014

In this book, the author, drawing extensively on his intelligence and military background, has cleanly written an easy to follow book, that outlines a careful course of action for developing a new kind of global information sharing infrastructure. To be headquartered at the UN, this new infrastructure would make it possible for every organization (and through them, everyone) on the globe to share open-source intelligence equally as a free public resource. If it is successful, this new global brain could transform our world from its current insecurity-driven and corrupt corporate dominated lose-lose, economic and conflict trap, into a much revived win-win strategy for bottom-up collective survival in a peaceful and sustainable world economy.

At least that is the theoretical hope and vision. On paper, and in principle, it is a stunningly sexy and attractive vision, one that, should it prove operationally testable and feasible, could indeed have the important side benefit and advantage of creating new bottom-up wealth, energizing the world economy and easing world tensions by reducing mistrust and fear back down to the noise level.

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Apr 21

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): This Republic of Suffering – Death and the American Civil War

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Drew Gilpin Faust

5.0 out of 5 stars Closure, or does the Suffering just still go on … ?, March 12, 2014

By Herbert L Calhoun “paulocal”

Quietly, this is an amazing book about the back side of war — the side we pretend not to know is really there at all — the ugly side, the painful side. It is a stunning academic treatise about that side of the “so-called” Civil War that the history books do not speak openly about: what happens once the glorification and breast-beating heroism of war ends?

What happened in the Civil War when that war ended — when the “real work of war” began — is that there were no bands playing; no protocols on how to respect the dead, no systematic way of identifying the bodies. Gawkers and wives were roaming the battle fields together in search of trinkets they could sell, or looking for their loved ones. The lucky dead had a letter or a picture in their breast pockets that would later identify them. That way, at least then their loved ones would be allowed the minimum level of closure, but this was not to be the case for most of the dead. Nor, arguably, was it to be the case for a nation that is still in need of closure from the Civil war.

This author tells us that the “real work of war” began when the flesh and stench of 5 million pounds of 620,00 death men and 1 million pounds of the flesh of 3,000 dead horses, all laying out in the hot sun stinking up the “land of the free and home of the brave,” had to be disposed of.

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Mar 12

Review (Guest): Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

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cover kill anything that movesNick Turse

5 of 5 stars. I was there, he is right on some things. By George James Kalergis on September 8, 2013

There is some evidence for his proposition. He greatly overstates the incidence of rape and deliberate murder of civilians however. He makes it sound as if this was a routine/daily occurrence. In my year there in combat, I did not see one incident such as this.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my experience in Vietnam as a result of reading this book. It has some elements of truth to it, especially concerning the inflated body counts and influence from the chain of command for bodies. However, from my experience he has looked for (and found) many individual instances of abuse of civilians in that war and made it seem that was much more of a regular occurrence than it was.He doesn’t point out the danger we were in from women and children who would set booby traps or shoot at us. It was a nightmare scenario and I’m sure many soldiers lost their lives because they were not cautious enough with women and children. Read the rest of this entry »
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Jan 18

Review: They Were Soldiers – How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars: The Untold Story

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Ann Jones

5.0 out of 5 stars A necessary book — Gabriel’s trumpet on true cost of war, December 3, 2013

A necessary book. The author has rendered a national — a global — service in documenting the psychological, social, and physical costs of war, costs that surpass the continually astonishing financial cost of war. SIX STARS (my top 10%)

I read this book this afternoon while waiting for a flight out of Afghanistan. The book hit me hard. Although I have been well aware of the staggering number of disabled veterans and suicidal veterans, most of what this book offers up was new to me and deeply disturbing.

The book also made me realize that as an intelligence officer save in a basement — the occasional big car bomb not-with-standing — my time in Afghanistan has been illusory, in that I have not at any time confronted the blood and guts pathos that this book lays out with a professionalism that is compelling.

The book also forces me to think of my three sons, the youngest of whom is contemplating joining the military after college. While I served and retired honorably from the Marine Corps, my wars were Viet-Nam as the son of an oil man and El Salvador as a clandestine case officer for the Central Intelligence Agency. I’ve seen my share of dead people across all three, but I never personally experienced the deep gut-wrenching mind-altering pathos that this book lays down.

QUOTE (5): [This book] is about the damage done to soldiers, their families, their communities, and the rest of us, who for another half-century at least will pay for their care, their artificial limbs, their medications, their benefits, their funerals, and the havoc they dutifully wrought under orders around the world.”

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Dec 4

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): War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

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Chris Hedges

5.0 out of 5 stars When Cultures of Violence get mixed with the Myths of War, November 19, 2013
This review is from: War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning (Paperback)

War is a Force that Gives us Meaning

When cultures of violence get mixed up with myths of war

Chris Hedges is a scholar of immense talents, who has “been there, done that;” (and bought the Tee shirt). He is as familiar with the art of war as is Sun Tzu, and arguably much smarter. Plus his sensibilities are different: keener, and in the right place — more refined and more severely tilted towards an instinct for building a better more humane world. With his own considerable experiences as a war correspondent as backdrop, Hedges uses his award-winning literary skills and his “over-sized” intellect to enlighten us about things that we already should know about: That war is hell; and that everything that glorifies it is a monumental but soothing lie!

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Nov 19

Review (Guest): War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning

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Chris Hedges

5.0 out of 5 stars When Cultures of Violence get mixed with the Myths of War, November 19, 2013

Herberg L. Calhoun

When cultures of violence get mixed up with myths of war

Chris Hedges is a scholar of immense talents, who has “been there, done that;” (and bought the Tee shirt). He is as familiar with the art of war as is Sun Tzu, and arguably much smarter. Plus his sensibilities are different: keener, and in the right place — more refined and more severely tilted towards an instinct for building a better more humane world. With his own considerable experiences as a war correspondent as backdrop, Hedges uses his award-winning literary skills and his “over-sized” intellect to enlighten us about things that we already should know about: That war is hell; and that everything that glorifies it is a monumental but soothing lie!

Why should we already know this? Because all of the “true” soldiers, all of the “true” military patriots — from George Washington down to Generals Dwight Eisenhower and Wesley Clark — have told us that it is so. And yet, as this author’s essay so aptly punctuates, we are all still intoxicated by war. It is a deadly insidious drug that we still just cannot give up. We readily “mainline it,” “we sample it,” “wallow in it,” tell lies about it, wish to be draped in its vicarious glory, and as a nation with an out of control military industrial complex, we have severely “OD-ed” on it.

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Nov 19