SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Small Wars Participants & Stakeholders > Futurists & Theorists

Futurists & Theorists Future Competition & Conflict, Theory & Nature of Conflict, 4GW through 9?GW, Transformation, RMA, etc.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-02-2017   #1
davidbfpo
Council Member
 
davidbfpo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 10,747
Default What are you currently reading in 2017?

A new thread for 2017.

The 2016 thread has a very low number of posts, 38 but had 48k views. See:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=23778
__________________
davidbfpo
davidbfpo is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-02-2017   #2
Backwards Observer
Council Member
 
Backwards Observer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 485
Default hammer of witches

Black Sun by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke


Chinese Negotiating Behaviour by Richard H. Solomon


Backwards Observer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2017   #3
omarali50
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 837
Default

A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (New Cold War History)
by Vladislav M. Zubok

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/..._Failed_Empire

I am more than halfway through this book, and it is interesting, informative and frequently enlightening (as in shedding new light on old topics).
Well worth a read (but then again, I am just an amateur reader, what do the experts say?)
omarali50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-09-2017   #4
Bill Moore
Council Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,926
Default America's Other Army

America's Other Army: The U.S. Foreign Service and 21st Century Diplomacy, by Nicholas Kralev

https://www.amazon.com/Americas-Othe.../dp/1466446560

I have been to Foggy Bottom (Dept of State Headquarters in Wash D.C.) several times, and worked with numerous U.S. Embassies in different parts of the world, but I still gained valuable insights from this book that I haven't picked up elsewhere.

While the Department of State (DOS) as an organization is more dysfunctional than the Department of Defense, the people who serve in the Foreign Service for the most part are true patriots and exceptionally talented.

The author's intent beyond explaining the role of diplomacy was to put a human face on it, by interviewing numerous foreign service officers and Secretaries of State. I had the good fortune of listening to the author speak once, and he provided additional insights that unfortunately were not in the book, but the bottom line is he is was well qualified to write this book.

Since the book was written in 2012 there is a lot of attention given to shock that our operations and Iraq and Afghanistan generated in the DOS, and how they adapted.

Throughout the book there were insightful views from these officers you don't hear during the spin sessions when the public affairs representative presents the DOS's official position. Such as our strategic communications is overly focused on manipulating and spinning, which makes us look like hypocrites. What people around the world really want is for us to trust them enough to be honest with them. They don't have to like our policies, but we should honestly explain them.

The unpopular war in Iraq was an immense challenge for the DOS, even if the individual officers didn't agree with it, they still had to defend the policy. The impact on the Counselor Service was significant, since their mission was to increase to U.S. visitors and student visas, but at the same time now had to go through a very thorough and deliberate process to approve visas, which resulted in a significant reduction of visitors and students. The reason for doing so was understood, but the goal of increasing visitors while increasing security checks was extremely challenging.

One of the more interesting aspects for me was the lack of guidance these officers get when they get an assignment. Iraq was a perfect example, where officers were sent out to the various parts of Iraq with the goal of stabilizing the country. It was beneficial in some regards, because it gave the diplomats with the wherewithal to do so great latitude to figure out the problems and come up with creative solutions. For others, they struggled. This issue is bigger than Iraq though, the author points out that very foreign service officers in 2003 could explain how their activities tied into national interests and supported the goals in the National Security Strategy, but that number has reduced significantly. Largely due to efforts by Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton to produce Diplomatic and Development Strategies that nested with the NSS.

When Powell assume the SecState position, he was shocked to discover how unprepared the FS was to do their job. Understaffed, outdated technology, and no real training/education to prepare them for their positions.

The draw back to this modernization and growth is that the DOS is becoming a large bureaucracy, and as a result the diplomats who should be learning the local culture and gaining a deep understanding of the host nation's issues to inform U.S. policies are now increasingly becoming bureaucrats that have little time to engage with the locals. Instant communication is impacting the DOS as much as DoD. The ability to communicate instantly is resulting in more and more power consolidating higher up, striping Ambassadors and others of authorities they used to have. They call it e-hell (we're brothers in arms after all). Not in the book, but I remember Susan Rice stating she does strategy, not the Ambassadors, they just implement it what she tells them. A very dangerous place to be when we have the blind leading the country, and those informed of the situation marginalized. The author states there is a long term cost to pay when FS officers are neither expected nor challenged to become top foreign policy strategists and thinkers, figuring we can just bring in political appointees for that.
Bill Moore is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2017   #5
Backwards Observer
Council Member
 
Backwards Observer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 485
Default i plot your rubric scarab

Cold War Anthropology by David H. Price


Perilous Interventions by Hardeep Singh Puri


Backwards Observer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2017   #6
omarali50
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 837
Default

My review of "Failed Empire" (which I think is a must-read book)

A must read for anyone interested in the history of the Soviet empire and its eventual (almost bloodless) fall under Gorbachev. The author presents an inside look at the Soviet side of events and some very interesting re-evaluations of the various leaders (from a Russian perspective). For example, the fact that Brezhnev was a much more grounded and sensible operator than his late drug-addled senile years would imply; that Gorbachev was a wooly idealist who was unfortunately or fortunately almost hopelessly inept at actually running things; that Bush senior was a competent executor of American interests; that Reagan's inner peacemaker/decent human being were far more important in bringing down the Soviet Union than his SDI or military buildup (which the author regards as almost incidental and of little significance in events); that money simply running out had a lot to do with the fall of the Soviet empire in East Europe; that failed ideology led to cynicism and a simultaneous nave optimism about social democracy in the 1960s generation, and so on.
The author has a Russo-centric view and for most Russians the fact that the Soviet experiment failed is not enough reason to accept that the Russian empire (which predated and undergirded the Soviet experiment) and the vast, ambitious and (sometimes at great cost and with great cruelty) expansion of the Russian peoples across Eurasia should also be setback THIS far as a result of that failure. Outsiders may wish to take a more forgiving view of Gorbachev, who managed to let all this happen without bloodshed.
Anyway, well worth reading. IN fact, a must read if you are interested in those times and those events.
omarali50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Tags
history, reading

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Small Wars: a wide reading list YellowJack RFIs & Members' Projects 73 11-23-2013 12:30 PM
Call for Professional Reading Lists DDilegge RFIs & Members' Projects 79 04-21-2013 09:50 PM
A Counter Terrorism reading list davidbfpo Training & Education 25 03-11-2011 09:45 PM
Adding "Add all to cart" feature to Reading List page Rose Small Wars Council / Journal 1 09-08-2010 02:07 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 07:00 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation