Review: Fountainhead of Jihad: The Haqqani Nexus, 1973-2012

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Vahid Brown, Don Rassler

5.0 out of 5 stars An amazingly deep yet concise review of Haqqani balancing act — local, regional, global, November 22, 2013

This book is in our J-2 library in Afghanistan and while I have not discussed it with others, believe it is well-regarded. For me it accomplishes something I have not seen elsewhere: it explains the Haqqani, the second most violent and largest group after the Taliban, and it does so concisely.

What I particularly appreciate about this book is the coherent manner in which it examines the value propositions that have positioned Haqqani today at the local, regional, and global levels.

The author’s credit Haqqani’s emergence in the early days to two value propositions: first, the offering of safehaven in Waziristan; and second, the ability to deliver violence on order for the Pakistani military and ISI.

The authors conclude that Haqqani displaced Hezb-i-Islami HIA/HIG) because the Haqqani have had and still have a superior savvy of tribal politics which in turn led to their earning a larger share of the CIA money passed through the ISA by CIA. Above all the authors credit the Haqqani with being able to manage a nuanced balancing act across borders and interests.

Here is the meat, summary notes for those without the time to absorb this excellent book directly:

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Review (Guest): State of the World 2012 – Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity

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Lester Brown, Erik Assadourian, Michael Renner et al

4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration for both policy makers, negotiators and me as “normal” civilian  August 3, 2012

By H.J. van der Klis

In the 2012 edition of its flagship report, Worldwatch.org celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Rio de Janeiro 1992 Earth Summit with a far-reaching analysis of progress toward building sustainable economies. Written in clear language with easy-to-read charts, State of the World 2012 offers a new perspective on what changes and policies will be necessary to make sustainability a permanent feature of the world’s economies. The Worldwatch Institute has been named one of the top three environmental think tanks in the world by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program.

The first part consists of 15-20 page articles reviewing recent sustainability developments, such as:

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Review: World on the Edge – How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse

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Lester Brown

4.0 out of 5 stars The One Book to Buy of Brown’s–By No Means the Whole Picture, September 10, 2011

I’ve read and reviewed a number of books by Lester Brown and his advocacy agency, and have especially appreciated the State of the World series, and his Plan B Series that keeps getting pushed back, and now has a Plan B 4.0, but between that latter book and this one, I chose this one.

It gets four stars for reasons I outline in passing below. The author has his pet rocks, they are all here, but NOT in this book can one find corruption, disease, mercury, rare earths, a strategic analytic model that is holistic, actual true costs across the spectrum of options, or a strategic analytic model.

However, and this is strong praise, if you are going to get only one book by Lester Brown, this is the book to get. There are others I recommend, including High Noon 20 Global Problems, 20 Years to Solve Them, and A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility–Report of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, the latter also free online.

Here are highlights, generally things I did not know and thought worth putting into my notes.

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Review (Guest): Neuroscience, Psychology, and Religion–Illusions, Delusions, and Realities about Human Nature

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Malcolm Jeeves and Warren S. Brown

5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquently written review! Best of Class. Congratulations!

February 16, 2010

By Kenneth J. Garcia “Jazz Is …” (Baltimore, Maryland United States)

In my early 20′s, circa 1973, I questioned why each culture had it’s own distinct religion much like they spoke a distinct tongue? Clearly, people speaking a language addressed a universal need to communicate. Did religion address some need so fundamental to human nature that, like our different languages, groups of people, separated in time and space would evolve different religious systems independently? The 1960′s saw the world grown smaller by telecommunications and jet travel, increasing awareness of the disparities in belief systems and the consequent conflicts arising therefrom, convinced me that we were entering an era in which an appreciation of our universality was critical as our capacity for self-destruction grew. The works of individuals, like Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, began to build bridges across an enormous chasm of endless distinctions in practices and details.

A rare accomplishment, this book journeys to the heart of those questions at the level of a Scientific American article; with eloquence and an impressive scope and command of the research. It is the most balanced account of the neuroscience perspective on religion that I have had the pleasure to read. Readers seeking more imaginative interpretations of the neuroscience data, where authors find “the God Module” on fMRI or proof of God’s existence in the brain’s design, will be disappointed. Here, as well, there is no treatise of comparative religious mythology or proof in the validity of any particular belief system over others. Despite being written by two admittedly Catholic scholars, they are, as well, first-rate neuroscientists. The only faith peddled here is what brain science can inform us about the phenomenon of religiosity as seen on it’s effect in the central nervous system and visa versa. This is a cutting edge neuroscience view of how the brain begets the mind and what is specific to a mind hooked on religion.

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