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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2016

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default What Are You Currently Reading? 2016

    David Ucko & Robert Engell's book 'Counterinsurgency in Crisis:Britain and the Challenges of Modern Warfare' has been reviewed by Dr F.G. Hoffman, of NDU:http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/D...25_Hoffman.pdf

    Remember the entire book is free to download via:https://www.ciaonet.org/attachments/...ads?1443193845
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-31-2016 at 05:21 PM.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default What Are You Currently Reading? 2016

    A thread to continue the collected reviews and notices. Overlooked since New Year's Eve!

    The 2015 thread will now be closed:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=21574
    davidbfpo

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    Default Toward a New Maritime Strategy

    Toward a New Maritime Strategy: American Naval Thinking in the Post-Cold War Era

    by Peter D. Haynes

    http://www.amazon.com/Toward-New-Mar...+navy+strategy

    For those interested in the evolution of strategy, not just Maritime Strategy, since the end of the Cold War this is a fascinating read. I'll address elements of the book as I expand on the thread Strategy in the 21st Century at the following link.

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...041#post185041

    A few of key concepts that came out of this book, or walk through modern history.

    Haynes is critical throughout this work, but not overly critical, and he explains the various points of pressure from the Chairman, Congress, etc. that limited the development of a viable naval strategy for the 21st Century based on legacy thinking and processes still tied largely to the Cold War.

    In the beginning he suggests that the American military has adopted a Jominian approach to war, where the focus on battle relieved the military from the task of understanding how destroying things would lead to the desired political goals. We isolated war and strategy from its social and political context.

    During the Cold War and since (now with our 4 + 1 focus) military thinking become strictly focused on threats as the only strategic factor. I see this in the intelligence community, they give short shift to the factors related to PMESII and focus on red, reducing war's complexity to a series of targets. Military planning post Cold War fundamentally became a targeting drill, the only that mattered was finding and hitting targets. There was little reason to relate the purpose of the military to U.S. interests in a changing world beyond what was required to wage war. After 9/11 the mismatch between the nature of the threat and tools available channeled the conduct of GWOT toward interstate war. Few in government imagined how GWOT would be won. Turns how much revolution in military affairs was a solution in search of a problem.

    Strategy didn't appreciate the implications of globalization (a major focus throughout the book) and trends in international finance and trade, and how this led to a profound shift from a state-centric to a market dominated international economy and reconfigured political power.

    The point of all this is that the survival of nations is largely dependent upon economic factors, so the author made a strong case that strategy should focus on national interests (mostly tied to the economy) instead of threats. Focusing on interests enables us to put threats in their proper perspective. This line of thought played into the evolving Navy Strategy "A Cooperative Strategy," but leaders in the Navy were concerned that the proposed strategy was too soft power centric (although that wasn't the intent), and added a good dose of war fighting back in.

    It certainly didn't reject the other factors, as ADM Mullen was quoted saying, "First, to rid yourselves of the old notion – held by so many for so long – that maritime strategy exists solely to fight and win wars at sea, and the rest will take care of itself. In a globalized world the rest matters a lot.”

    I found a couple of his many recommendations at the end of the book interesting.

    For example, he noted most Naval Strategists have degrees in international relations, which he argued produces the wrong type of mind set for the 21st Century. It produces realists who are state centric, and in an ever more interconnected and interdependent world other forms of academic expertise are needed.

    He also points out that most studies focused on the prevention of war, a key aspect of the new strategy, only focuses on coercion and deterrence. What is also needed is an equal effort on how to effectively assert influence in peacetime.

    Highly recommended for those into this topic.

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence by Bryan Burrough

    Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War by Fred Kaplan

    Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space by Keller Easterling:http://www.amazon.com/Extrastatecraf...xtrastatecraft
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-20-2016 at 04:11 PM. Reason: Text with RFI moved to a new thread. LInk added for one book.PM to author.
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Default listen to what the flower people say

    Bill "Centurion" Moore's recommendation, Toward a New Maritime Strategy: American Naval Thinking in the Post-Cold War Era by Peter Haynes


    The End of Alliances by Rajan Menon



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    Default Radical

    Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism
    by Maajid Nawaz

    http://www.amazon.com/Radical-Journe...mist+extremism

    One man's story on how he came to embrace radical Islam, why he left it, and his subsequent efforts to organize Muslims to produce a counter narrative. It starts off with his time in England, the university, and eventually ending up in a brutal imprisonment in Egypt (hard to see why we embrace Egyptians as allies, when their government at the time differed little from Saddam's).

    Maajid never became a terrorist, instead he was a recruiter and political organizer for HT and Islamism in general, and one who was quite good at it.

    He describes how he became politicized by Hip Hop and Rap music, which in his view was music that had a political message to revolt against the system. In short, he said Public Enemy politicized him. He also read about Malcolm X because he could relate to his arguments. Political Islam came him a means to channel his new politicized views.

    He bought into the global narrative that Muslims were being suppressed, not that Muslims were necessarily being suppressed in England. Once again the adage that all politics is local is called into question. He pointed out the importance of Bosnia in the 90s as one issue that politicized many Muslims.

    A couple of interesting points, he wrote:
    What Islamism had done in Europe was to set Muslim communities back an entire generation. It created a separatist agenda that became self-fulfilling. In an effort to protest discrimination, all it achieved was further segregation. Further social immobility created more discrimination, not less.
    I have seen parallels with different minority groups in the U.S., people being exploited by their own people pretending to be their saviors, but in the end only increasing their personal wealth.

    He then talked about the Monkeys in a Zoo, the white liberals who continued to push their liberal agenda and dismissed any other views about the causes of Islamic based terrorism.

    On many occasions after my talks, people--usually white liberals--would stand up and declare that I had no idea what it was like to suffer as a victim of society. They would assert that there was no way someone like me, an educated, articulate English-speaker in a suit and tie, could ever understand people who felt so desperate that suicide bombing was their "only" option. I was told that terrorists reactions cannot be separated from their social causes and the blame lies squarely on society. I had invariably just spent half an hour telling my entire story, of violent racism and police harassment in Essex, of torture in Egypt, but because my conclusions didn't align with the angry "monkey" they were expecting to see, it was as if they hadn't heard any of it.
    His story on imprisonment in Egypt, and how his interactions with Sadat's assassins (who came to the conclusion radicalized Islam was wrong) and his interactions with Amnesty International began to humanize him is worth the read.

    There are insights throughout the book that readers who are interested in the topic will find of interest. In simple terms, he explains the dictators in the Middle East either used radical Islam to maintain power, or tried to crush it to maintain power, and both approaches enabled this toxic ideology to grow.

    The author, I believe correctly, points out most Muslims reject political Islam, but the Islamists are well organized, which is why they're able to gain power and create the perception it is a popular movement. I know some reject our efforts to try to counter the violent extremism narrative, but the author believes it is essential to provide a counter narrative and organize politically more effectively than the Islamists if we're ever going to reduce this problem from a strategic to tactical level threat. Of course, it is Muslims that need to this, not white liberals in the U.S. State Department working on Facebook.

    He has engaged in a number of efforts since rejecting Islamism to organize a counter narrative. One such effort was forming Quilliam with a friend of his.

    http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/

    Quilliam is the world’s first counter-extremism think tank set up to address the unique challenges of citizenship, identity, and belonging in a globalised world. Quilliam stands for religious freedom, equality, human rights and democracy.

    Challenging extremism is the duty of all responsible members of society. Not least because cultural insularity and extremism are products of the failures of wider society to foster a shared sense of belonging and to advance liberal democratic values. With Islamist extremism in particular, we believe a more self-critical approach must be adopted by Muslims. Westophobic ideological influences and social insularity needs to be challenged within Muslim communities by Muslims themselves whilst simultaneously, an active drive towards creating an inclusive civic identity must be pursued by all members of society.

    Quilliam seeks to challenge what we think, and the way we think. It aims to generate creative, informed and inclusive discussions to counter the ideological underpinnings of terrorism, whilst simultaneously
    providing evidence-based recommendations to governments for related policy measures.
    Bottom line, I found the book to be well written, painfully honest, and well written. I also recognize it is the perspective of one man, but his story is important.

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    Default talkin' 'bout my degeneration

    On War: The Collected Columns of William S. Lind by William S. Lind, Foreword by Martin Van Creveld


    Who Rules The World by Noam Chomsky



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    Default the game of huh? and meh...


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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Read on a beach recently:

    1) 'Boko Haram: Nigeria's Islamist Insurgency' by Virginia Comolli; pub. 2015. A short book which explains why Nigeria repeatedly has Islamist / Islamic rebellions, BH being the latest, but longer lived version. Written before the last Federal Presidential election and the use of a South African PMC:http://www.amazon.com/Boko-Haram-Nig...s=books&sr=1-1

    The author is an IISS analyst who has visited Nigeria.

    2) 'At the end of the line: Colonial policing and the imperial endgame 1945-80' , by Georgina Sinclair; pub. 2010 and id'd after a tip from 'Red Rat'. An excellent book which covers the more obscure and famous colonies, but oddly nothing on India and a couple of other places, e.g. Eritrea. Masses of references to other sources and the two hundred interviews conducted. Very interesting to learn colonial police existed before Peel's work in Ireland, let alone their arrival in London:http://www.amazon.com/At-end-line-Co...s=books&sr=1-1

    Five reviews on:https://www.amazon.co.uk/At-End-Line...rgina+sinclair

    3) 'Blood Year: Islamic State and the Failure of the War on Terror' by David Kilcullen; pub. 2016. A well written book (288 pgs), which can be painful in places. Worth reading just the last two chapters: Age of Conflict and Epilogue. In short: fight them in their home, to fight in our home would be too high a price to pay:http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Year-Unr...avid+kilcullen

    4) 'Islamist Terrorism in Europe: A History by Petter Nesser; pub. 2015. A Norwegian SME, from the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI). A very broad brush account up to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris:http://www.amazon.com/Islamist-Terro...=petter+nesser

    Two reviews:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Islamist-Te...=petter+nesser

    The research footnotes are supplemented by an online appendix on the attacks 1974-2015 via:http://www.hurstpublishers.com/wp-co...e-Appendix.pdf

    5) 'British Generals in Blair's Wars' edited by Jonathan Bailey, Richard Iron and Hew Strachan; pub. 2013 after MoD officialdom intervened to stop six serving officers contributions being published (which was posted on elsewhere):http://www.amazon.com/British-Genera...Blair%27s+Wars

    Plenty of reviews via:https://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Gen...Blair%27s+Wars

    A hefty tome (388 pgs), with mainly British Army officers contributing and a handful of academics. However interesting it is weakened IMHO by the absence of any non-British voices, especially by those who served with our foremost ally.

    However this review says it all by Professor Sir Michael Howard:
    This collection must be almost unique in military history. Seldom if ever have senior military commanders discussed so frankly the difficulties they have faced in translating the strategic demands made by their political masters into operational realities. The problems posed by their enemies were minor compared with those presented by corrupt local auxiliaries, remote bureaucratic masters, and civilian colleagues pursuing their own agendas. Our political leaders should study it very carefully before they ever make such demands on our armed forces again.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Just finished The New Tsar: the Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin. I found this to be a really personal look at Putin the man as - a literary look into his soul.

    Still working: Days of Rage, Extrastatecraft

    Up Next: American Warlord, @War, The Romanovs, The Coming of the Third Reich, Countdown to Zero Day
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Default the dreaming city

    The Nomad Of Time by Michael Moorcock


    Colonialism and Neocolonialism by Jean-Paul Sartre

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    Default the machine that goes ping

    Autopsy On People's War by Chalmers Johnson


    Discovering Scarfolk by Richard Littler (Scarfolk Council - Blog)

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    Default flame on

    World On Fire by Amy Chua


    Less Than Human by David Livingstone Smith

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    Default double fantasy

    The Cross Of Iron by Willi Heinrich


    Into A Black Sun by Takeshi Kaiko

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    Default The Seventh Sense

    The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks
    by Joshua Cooper Ramo

    https://www.amazon.com/Seventh-Sense...+seventh+sense

    Overall a fascinating argument on the power of networks, and how networks are changing the world. The downside as mentioned in at least one of the critiques on Amazon is the argument could have been made more concisely in a long article. Drawing a parallel, one could say the same about the book, "Black Swans," and while the core of that argument could have been presented in an article, the longer explanation is useful for those desiring to get beyond Cliff notes and gain a deeper understanding of the argument.

    For those looking for arguments on why are economic and security systems are failing, this book provides a theory that in my view is well supported. While networks, networking, etc. is something we talk about frequently in the military and business worlds, this book provides a deeper understanding on how networks are transforming the world. According to Ramo they're changing the world as much as the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution.

    A couple of quotes to provide context that may generate interest in the book.

    We experience power through networks now. We used to experience it thru brick-bound institutions such as universities, military HQs, or telephone companies. The most influential geopolitical forces, most lethal militaries, and post powerful commercial and financial efforts depend upon and are nearly defined by their fluency with different sorts of connection.
    Billions of connected lives and tens of billions of linked sensors and machines = > potential for cascades, epidemics, and interactions on these networks. Scientists call this change “explosive percolation. There is an instant shift in the nature of a system as it passes a threshold level of connectivity. One moment you have angry fundamentalists, the next, you have a linked terrorist movement like AQ or ISIL. An ancient problem that is more effective when it occurs in a world of superfast networks of media and transportation. Networks do for terror attacks what gunpowder did for projectiles; they make the impact larger.
    The 7th Sense is the ability to look at any objective and see the way in which it is changed by connection. When you invent the plane, you invent the plane crash (Paul Virilio). We face vulnerabilities and possibilities we only dimly understand.
    This will upset some of the SWJ members who think the counterinsurgency operation in Malaya still represents a viable model in the 21st Century.

    Current leaders like the status quo, the words potential and threat rhyme to them. Today’s problems are unsolvable with traditional thinking.
    General Liu Yazhou noted, “A major state can lose many battles, but the only loss that is always fatal is to be defeated in strategy. A deep commitment to a flawed worldview can turn strength to weakness, and in our connected age, this sort of reversal can happen with particularly devastating speed.
    Many more examples that focus on business and security. Refreshingly, Ramo argues the risk of high end war is increasing, and that there is a still a need for a powerful conventional military. However, there are other forms of power that are now equally dangerous. Referring to the risks posed by networks, especially in the age of everything increasingly connected to everything else, presents barely understood opportunities and risks. Thus the importance of developing the 7th sense. He quoted a French philosopher, who said, "when you build the ship you build the ship wreck, when you build the plane you build the plane crash." Networks are building all around through multiple connections, what does the network crash/wreck look like?

    Starting to read, War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft

    https://www.amazon.com/War-Other-Mea...by+other+means

    It is starting off well. While it addresses the use Geoeconomics across a wide scope of policy challenges, the authors give a head nod to China, which has been playing the "new" economic game at a maestro level. By staying out of wars so far, operating in the gray zone, and focusing on economic policy (to include economic coercion/warfare) it increased its global influence far beyond its existing economic strength.

    In the introduction the authors (I'm paraphrasing) made the argument that our neo liberal views on foreign policy have dissuaded us from playing the great game, yet our adversaries are becoming increasingly skilled at doing so. State capitalism is making a resurgence, and a factor contributing to the resurgence of state capitalism that nests with the essential argument in "The 7th Sense," is because today's markets " deeper, faster, more leveraged, and more integrated than ever before--tend to exert more influence over a nation's geopolitical choices and outcomes."

    It promises to be a good read.

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    Default Stuart Neville: Collusion

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Collusion-S.../dp/0099535351



    GARRY FEGAN:
    the former hit man is hiding out in New York, having cut all ties wiht his old life. But he made a fatal mistake: he spared the life of Bull O'Kane, a ruthless gang leader who will stop at nothing to get his revenge.

    THE TRAVELLER:
    a merciless assassin who kills without pity or remorse, The Traveller is hired by O'Kane. His instructions are to find - and terminate - Fegan, and O'Kane knows the perfect bait to lure Fegan back to Belfast.

    JACK LENNON:
    his family have disowned him and his colleagues don't trust him. But when he discovers that his ex-partner and young daughter are helpless pawns caught up in O'Kane's thirst for vengeance, Lennon must enter into a desperate alliance if he is to save them both.

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    Default head for central casting

    The Seventh Sense by Joshua Cooper Ramo (Ave, Bill Moore, te salutant )


    Spooked by Nicholas Schou

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