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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2007

  1. #101
    Council Member jlechelt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    I don't think there are mistakes, per se, but he selects his evidence on the basis of how bad a light it casts on the administration. To give one example, he uses a few things my organization did (including some of my own) which warned of problems before the intervention and, because we are a government entity, draws the conclusion that the administration should have been aware of what it was getting into. While I'd like to believe that, I realize there was lots of other analysis which supported the administration's policy choices.

    Another example is the famous Shinseki congressional testimony. Ricks, like many people, uses that to criticize the administration. As it turned out, Shinseki was right but those using this to attack the administration overlook the fact that Shinseki's number was a swag while CENTCOM and the Joint Staff had done detailed analysis that arrived at much smaller numbers. So while history has proven that Shinseki's swag was more accurate than CENTCOM and Joint Staff's analysis, the critics overlook the fact that in the context of the time, it made sense for the administration to accept the detailed force requirement analysis of CENTCOM and the Joint Staff rather than General Shinseki's swag.
    To ask the simple/stupid question: what is "swag"?

    Interesting. I certainly can't claim to know all that you had access to, but coming up with analyses to support the Administration's preferences is likely rarely difficult. The task of any administration should be to dig deeper than anything given to them. Hindsight is 20/20, I realize, but that is how administrations are judged. I guess I'm just pointing out the obvious.

    Thanks though. Most enlightening.

  2. #102
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    A best guess based on expertise and experience rather than actual analysis. The Joint Staff, the services and the combatant commands have sophisticated force requirement models and methodologies which they used. Shinseki just came up with a figure based on his expertise and experience.

    The question is: Why why did these processes generate force requirements that we now know were wrong? It all comes down to assumptions--the most fragile part of any strategy. To over simplify, administration officials forced CENTCOM to accept assumptions such as a benign environment once the regime was removed, acceptance by the Iraqis of the emigre leaders like Chalabi, international support, etc.

    Having spent much of the last four years looking at Iraq decisionmaking, I break the culprits down into two categories: the actual architects of disaster, (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, and, of course, the President), and the passive contributors--those who could have stopped it but didn't (Powell, Rice, Meyers, and Franks).

  3. #103
    Council Member jlechelt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    A best guess based on expertise and experience rather than actual analysis. The Joint Staff, the services and the combatant commands have sophisticated force requirement models and methodologies which they used. Shinseki just came up with a figure based on his expertise and experience.

    The question is: Why why did these processes generate force requirements that we now know were wrong? It all comes down to assumptions--the most fragile part of any strategy. To over simplify, administration officials forced CENTCOM to accept assumptions such as a benign environment once the regime was removed, acceptance by the Iraqis of the emigre leaders like Chalabi, international support, etc.

    Having spent much of the last four years looking at Iraq decisionmaking, I break the culprits down into two categories: the actual architects of disaster, (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, and, of course, the President), and the passive contributors--those who could have stopped it but didn't (Powell, Rice, Meyers, and Franks).
    Well said. A great paper or book there.
    To bring Ricks back into it, I think he was correct in stating that the threat from Iraq was presented with a worst case scenario, and what it would take to fix the problem was presented with a best case scenario. The fact that Shinseki could be wildly ON the mark with just an experienced guess, compared with all of the analysis coming from everyone else, is truly embarrassing.

  4. #104
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    Default Insurgents Terrorist and Militias

    I just posted my review of Insurgents, Terrorist and Militias by Richard H. Shultz, Jr. and Adrea J. Dew. It is a very good book that readers of this site will find worth while. It gets into the art of fighting against tribal societies using Somalia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq as examples. Check out the review for more details.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    I need to read Charlie Wilson's War since my friend Mike Vickers (Janine's boss) plays a major role. Mike tells me the movie version with Tom Hanks will be out around the end of the year.

    I'm still in the middle of Ajami's The Foreigner's Gift and am swept away. Not only is he one of the best pure writers alive today, but he has amazing insights into both the Iraqi and the American psyches. I highly recommend it. I also found Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City useful.
    Loved Charlie Wilson's War, it's a fantastic story at the very least. The personalities in play are amazing.

    I have to say, though, I'm really skeptical of Ajami based solely on one thing, this disgusting comparison between a convicted perjurer and our war dead:
    http://www.opinionjournal.com/editor...l?id=110010185

    Maybe it's small-minded of me, but after seeing his name on this, I've found it awfully hard to take his analysis seriously.

  6. #106
    Council Member jlechelt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
    Loved Charlie Wilson's War, it's a fantastic story at the very least. The personalities in play are amazing.

    I have to say, though, I'm really skeptical of Ajami based solely on one thing, this disgusting comparison between a convicted perjurer and our war dead:
    http://www.opinionjournal.com/editor...l?id=110010185

    Maybe it's small-minded of me, but after seeing his name on this, I've found it awfully hard to take his analysis seriously.
    I have heard great things about Charlie Wilson's War. Most importantly, a staff person from HASC said that it offers a great understanding of how Congress - and staff? - can have a major impact on war policy. I haven't read it yet, so I'm only passing along what I have heard, but that makes me want to read it all the more.

    Libby: I agree - the comparisons of him to a true fighter in Iraq is sad. I haven't followed the case closely, but there is definitely too much partisanship in deciding what should happen to the little guy. How anyone can claim lying in a federal investigation is ok, well, that's beyond me. But 30 months might have been a bit stiff, considering all of the shame he has had to bear for his crime. Perhaps the President's action make sense, but heaven forbid he actually still pardons Libby. As has been ably pointed out since the lsentence was dropped by the President, was how he has not followed his own strict procedures for others. Everyone who wants a pardon or a sentence dropped probably has the same story to tell. Time will tell, but Libby sure isn't a brave soldier.

    Still trucking along with Prodigal Soldiers. Absolutely fantastic. If only my six month old daughter would allow me more time to read! Quite selfish she is. But cute.

  7. #107
    Registered User mike sullivan's Avatar
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    Default "I be read'n this stuff. . ."

    Jeffrey Record, Beating Goliath (Struggling to finish)

    In the mail. . .
    David Pryce-Jones, The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs
    (On a work reading list)
    Hamilton, Bathroom Remodeling for Dummies (Because my wife says she is tired of the Bathroom – the book explains the rest.)
    M

  8. #108
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike sullivan View Post
    [FONT="Comic Sans MS"][SIZE="4"]Jeffrey Record, Beating Goliath (Struggling to finish)
    All you really need to read are the dustjacket blurbs. Art they are.

  9. #109
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    When I read those blurbs, I thought to myself, "Man, they really did get a chimpanzee to write at Ft. Detrick!"


    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    All you really need to read are the dustjacket blurbs. Art they are.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

  10. #110
    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
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    I just finished Malcolm W. Nance’s The Terrorist of Iraq which is excellent (he needs a better publisher though my copy had two chapter threes). Now I am reading that staring at goats book sort of comic relief.

  11. #111
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ski View Post
    When I read those blurbs, I thought to myself, "Man, they really did get a chimpanzee to write at Ft. Detrick!"
    I take great issue with that! A chimp would NEVER do. When I was asked to write a blurb for Record's book, I outsourced it sto a WOMBAT! I mean, EVERYONE knows that chimps split their infinitives.

  12. #112
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    Thought I'd resurrect this, just finished Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror. Despite the title, solid book, looks at contractors in Afghanistan, Iraq, and then closes with a bit on Executive Outcomes and the African mercenary scandals of the last decade or so. Accords pretty well with what I heard from a friend who worked as a security contractor in Iraq.

  13. #113
    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    I'm going old school and reading Queen Victoria's Little Wars by Byron Farwell. If anyone has any suggestions for follow on books in this area, please let me know.
    Last edited by Steve Blair; 08-16-2007 at 04:47 PM. Reason: fixed italics
    -john bellflower

    Rule of Law in Afghanistan

    "You must, therefore know that there are two means of fighting: one according to the laws, the other with force; the first way is proper to man, the second to beasts; but because the first, in many cases, is not sufficient, it becomes necessary to have recourse to the second." -- Niccolo Machiavelli (from The Prince)

  14. #114
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Farwells book on the British Army is equally great and entertaining

  15. #115
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Farwells book on the British Army is equally great and entertaining
    So are his Eminent Victorian Soldiers and The Great Boer War. You might also try Donald Featherstone's Khaki and Red for some additional insight into Queen Victoria's Wars of Empire.

    Douglas Porch has a couple of books (Conquest of the Sahara and Conquest of Morroco) on the French colonial expoerience in North Africa if you want to expand beyond the British Imperial milieu.

  16. #116
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Recent reading finished within the past two months or so:

    Hot Zone by Richard Preston. Absolutely scary stuff about USARAMID folks out of Ft. Dietrick dealing with an Ebola outbreak in a primate clearinghouse in Reston, VA. I think it was the basis for the movie Outbreak.

    Training and Leadership for the Fight by MSG (ret.) Paul Howe. The book has a focus on kinetic, snake-eater stuff and SWAT training techniques, but a great read nonetheless.

    The Guts to Try: The untold story of the Iran hostage rescue mission by the on-scene desert commander by Col (ret.) James Kyle. Almost finished with this one, but it is a slow grind. Excellent so far in terms of providing insight into the incredible logistical hurdles tackled by the air component to support the planned Delta raid.

  17. #117
    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    The Military Signal Corps Manual, MAJ J. Andrew White 1918, A History of Tactical Communications Techniques, David L. Woods, 1965 and the Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon.

    Some cutting edge computer science guys needed a liberal arts/history nerd for a project they are working on

    For myself, I'm working through Baden-Powell's Aids to Scouting for N.-C.Os. & Men and My Adventures as a Spy. It's amazing what a military officer could do when he didn't have to worry about turning out a PowerPoint slide.

    Thes last two might tie in with the 'pre WW I/1900 British Army' thing some other folks are following.
    Last edited by Van; 08-16-2007 at 07:32 PM.

  18. #118
    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Recent reading finished within the past two months or so:

    Hot Zone by Richard Preston. Absolutely scary stuff about USARAMID folks out of Ft. Dietrick dealing with an Ebola outbreak in a primate clearinghouse in Reston, VA. I think it was the basis for the movie Outbreak.

    Training and Leadership for the Fight by MSG (ret.) Paul Howe. The book has a focus on kinetic, snake-eater stuff and SWAT training techniques, but a great read nonetheless.

    The Guts to Try: The untold story of the Iran hostage rescue mission by the on-scene desert commander by Col (ret.) James Kyle. Almost finished with this one, but it is a slow grind. Excellent so far in terms of providing insight into the incredible logistical hurdles tackled by the air component to support the planned Delta raid.
    I read The Hot Zone. I might suggest The Coming Plague and Betrayal of Trust.
    "But suppose everybody on our side felt that way?"
    "Then I'd certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn't I?"


  19. #119
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default Going back to the basics

    I've long sought an academic-oriented work to bring me back to my roots as an International Relations major, and I recently pinged the candidates and newly minted lieutenants at MarineOCS.com for a recommendation.

    I wanted something that was currently in use in academia, and more theoretical in nature. While it was good to see that some of the old stuff by Waltz was still in play, I selected John Mearscheimer's The Tragedy of Great Power Politics from a list offered by a poster who also posts here.

    http://www.amazon.com/Tragedy-Great-...7534857&sr=8-2

    I'm only a few pages into the second chapter, but Mearsheimer has already impressed me with his ability to pull in the competing principles of realist and liberalist theory, as well as describe the various strains within each theory that argue against each other, and how the major theorists make their point. For you older hands here, if your college freshman or sophmore has thoughts on being a Poli sci major and this isn't on their gear list yet, I recommend it.

    Due to the many sections where Mearsheimer delves into periods of great power muscle-flexing (i.e. war), I think it would still make for a good book for consecutive rainy weekend afternoons, no matter whether you read primarily for pleasure or more direct reasons like myself.

  20. #120
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default 60yrs after Imperial India ended

    Three books on the Indian Army and mindful of the Imperial era battleground of the North West Frontier re-appearing:

    The Indian Army and the King's Enemies 1900-1947, by Charles Chenevix Trench (pub. Thames & Hudson 1988 in hardback)

    The Frontier Scouts (the NW Fontier locally recruited units) by Charles Chenevix Trench (pub. Jonathan Cape 1985 in hardback)

    A Matter of Honour: An account of the Indian Army, its officers and men, by Philip Mason (pub. Penguin Books 1974)

    I've not checked Amazon for current availability and they maybe in a very good library.

    davidbfpo

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