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Robert David STEELE Vivas RSS Feed (Oakton, VA United States)
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THE NEW STORY
THE NEW STORY
by Inger Lise Oelrich
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.19
17 used & new from $18.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Addresses a Major Vacuum in Our Approach to Any Challenge, December 16, 2014
This review is from: THE NEW STORY (Paperback)
This is a hugely important book that I hope will become popular in the USA, and translated into other languages. I learned of its existence while attending a Findhorn Foundation event in Scotland, "The New Story Summit." At one point there was a discussion of how United Nations "peacekeepers" are sent in to keep the peace but do so at the point of a gun, without any training in human interaction or the fundamentals of story-telling, narrative weaving, listening, observing, and all the other human "arts." This one story impressed me greatly.

Having now read the book, I want to emphasize my enchantment by confessing that I am a Naked Truth kind of person, the diametric opposite of the Story Teller. As with UN peacekeepers, I have been badly trained, equipped, and organized for a world in which conversation and story-telling are alternatives to confrontation and violence.

Although the author and the book focus on the role of story-telling in relation to peace-making, I would emphasize its value in creating common prosperity at well -- in creating the means of self-governance with respect for the limits of nature and the importance of doing no harm.

The book consists of 12 chapters, among them chapters on Being Moved, on Learning to See, and on Community of Belonging. There is also a strong chapter on technology as a negative, and I am reminded of Jerry Mander and Bill McKibbin, among others. Within those 12 chapters are 33 exercises and many stories as well as provocative quotes. This is a very well put-together book, one that should be listed at Amazon USA and not limited to Amazon UK (US buyers can order it, but they cannot "see" the book at Amazon USA, they have to search for it globally first).

For me -- someone who clearly needs instruction in this vital domain -- the bottom line from this book is clear: story-telling is a means of opening minds, heightening consciousness, building bridges, reducing mis-understandings, healing souls, and generally connecting and reconnecting people to one another and to nature.

As a Naked Truth kind of person, I am constantly reminded by this book that absolutes are not helpful -- stories allow for contextual nuance and can avoid the black or white objectivism that characterizes Webberian bureaucracy, modern stove-piped government, rule by secrecy, and corporate misbehavior cloaked in scientific rationalism.

Fully half the training having to do with story-telling revolves around listening -- not speaking, but listening. Learning to see. Learning to hear. Learning to feel. Learning to embrace empathy. Being non-judgmental.

Above all else, story-telling leaps across all boundaries -- story-tellers without borders are easily as important as doctors or engineers without borders. What I draw from this book is that story-telling is a form of human engagement that makes creative emergence possible. It "stirs the pot" and opens up possibilities that could never be achieved in a traditional confrontation between teams of negotiators seeking to dominate any given outcome.

The book ends with reflections on how we might pursue story-telling to advance truth and reconciliation while addressing the many obstacles to progress including complacency.

The author was honored in 2014 with selection as Chair of the Storytelling and Peace Council. One can learn more at thenewstory.nu.

Rather than link to ten specific titles as I normally do, I want to point readers to my lists of book reviews at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog (Reviews), where I have organized -- with direct links to each book's Amazon page, lists focusing on, among many other topics, complexity and resilience, consciousness and social IQ, and truth & reconcilation.

This is a fine book for self-study and self-awareness, but it is best used as a group study guide with the exercises being undertaken by groups of at least a dozen people at a time.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
The Open Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, & Trust


Convergence: Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization
Convergence: Illicit Networks and National Security in the Age of Globalization
by Jacqueline Brewer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $26.96
28 used & new from $22.23

4.0 out of 5 stars First Class on the Illicit Networks Not Legalized by US Congress, December 15, 2014
This is a first-class book on the convergence of many illicit networks that Congress has not legalized. A sure sign of the book's very high value and inherent quality is provided by the Foreword from Admiral James Stavridis, whose own book, The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO I just reviewed most favorably.

The foreword very diplomatically brings out two core points: that many "small" or informal or non-state threats are converging to create a firestorm that most states are not trained, equipped, nor organized to address; and that we must, if we are to prosper going forward, begin to think in holistic terms -- whole of government, whole of society, whole of international society -- all phrases used by Admiral Stavridis.

Since I have been saying this since I first ghost-wrote for General Al Gray, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, the 1989 article "Global Intelligence Challenges in the 1990's," whose most unique element was the characterization of the differences between conventional threats and emerging threats, all of this resonates with me.

From the National Defense University Press, which I hold in very high regard, this is the single best book I have seen on the diversity of the illicit threat networks. Each chapter is individually brilliant and all of them offer compelling turns of phrase and good graphics. "Deviant globalization" and "the geography of badness" jump out.

There are three flaws, each easily corrected in a new edition of this book, which I do recommend:

01 The book desperately needs an index. This is the most common deficiency found in think tank and government university publications and one I abhor. The lack of an index is the main reason why this book loses the fifth star.

02 The book lacks a coherent focus on the failure of intelligence.

03 The book would benefit from a preface or an epilogue that acknowledges the single most important lesson I myself have learned since I started championing intelligence reform in the 1980's: if you lack integrity at the strategic and policy levels, if you fail to do counterintelligence against financial, religious, and ideological traitors at the strategic and policy levels, then you will never, ever, get it right in acquisition and operations.

Here are some other books that round out the strong value to be found in this book:
High Noon: 20 Global Problems, 20 Years To Solve Them
A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility--Report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy
Why the Rest Hates the West: Understanding the Roots of Global Rage
The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

We are out of balance. We will never, ever, be successful against illicit networks as long as we ourselves are the gold standard for legalized illegitimacy.

Semper Fidelis,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability


The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO
The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO
by ADM James G. Stavridis USN (Ret.)
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.08
45 used & new from $14.14

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Ike's mold -- a future Secretary of Defense or State or both if we are lucky..., December 11, 2014
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This is three books in one, and none of them do justice to the author, who is easily considered by my naval officer colleagues to be a person of most extraordinary intellect and absolute integrity -- he is considered a "five star" flag in every possible respect, and there are many of us whom he has mentored or who run with those he has mentored, who hope he will one day be Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State or both. I discussed this book with CAPT Scott Philpott, USN (Ret), among those selected by the author as an innovator, and this point cannot be overstated: to the extent the Services have toxic leadership that must be retired, those mentored by Admiral Stavridis and a few other leaders (General Tony Zinni, for example) are the vanguard for a new generation of leaders who are agile, clear, daring, frugal, and above all, able to bring to bear intelligence with integrity.

As I go through the book a second time, I see time and again evidence that this author was an original thinker who prospered in the face of massive bureaucratic resistance to change. I am reminded of how Admiral Crowe refused Admiral Rickover's "invitation" to join the nuclear submarine force, risking career termination only to go on to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then Ambassador to the United Kingdom. There is absolutely no question in my mind but that this author is destined to return to government at the Cabinet level.

The first book, chapters 1-8, is a politically nuanced account of an extraordinary career. The author is one of two plebes from his Naval Academy class to make four star rank, the other being Marine Corps General John Allen. While there are portions of this first book that I might take issue with, I note with interest that the author uses quote marks as a form of loyal dissent, and a careful patient reading of this first third of the volume will yield some gold nuggets.

The second book, chapters 9-16, is where most of the lessons learned are to be found. This is a handbook for innovative leadership, and richly suited as a guide for mid-career officers and leaders in any domain, military or civilian. The word that jumps out at me, although it does not appear in the book, is "hybrid." This may be the only senior officer that actually gets what I have been saying for 25 years, to wit, we not only need to get serious about all the non-state threats and all threats all the time (what he calls convergences, when many small threats come together to create a firestorm larger than any state can handle), but we must come together across all boundaries. He stresses multinational, inter-agency, and public-private alliances.

The third book is a combination of appendices, a world-class annotated bibliography that in divided between non-fiction and fiction, with the fictional works being of great historical and cultural importance, and a world-class index. Although "intelligence" is not properly presented in the index, there are a number of important references to intelligence successes and failures throughout the book, and it is therefore one that intelligence professionals should study.

Published by the Naval Institute Press, and including 24 pages of high-quality photographs, this is easily a five-star book, but one that does not quite do justice to the five-star admiral who uniquely blends military sagacity with strategic, innovative, diplomatic, cultural, and legal understanding. This book is a pre-quel -- it avoids a direct confrontation with the powers that be, and hints at the revolutionary so ably concealing his potential in a diplomatic guise.

Among books authored or co-authored by Admiral Stavridis are:
Destroyer Captain: Lessons of a First Command
Command at Sea, 6th Edition
Partnership for the Americas: Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command

Comparable auto-biographies include:
Command of the Seas
Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat
From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War

Books not listed in the annotated bibliography that I recommend:
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State
Modern Strategy
Surrender to Kindness: One Man's Epic Journey for Love and Peace

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
The Open Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth, & Trust
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 13, 2014 8:08 PM PST


Emerge!: The Rise of Functional Democracy and the Future of the Middle East
Emerge!: The Rise of Functional Democracy and the Future of the Middle East
by Elza Maalouf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.05
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary -- Empowering, World-Changing, Rich in Substance, December 6, 2014
This book was recommended to me by Michael Ostrolenk, whom I consider one of the most inspiring transpartisan figures in America today, and endorsed by Elisabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist and "Yoda" to many of us. Given those two recommendations, my own review is pro forma, summary notes for smart people.

This is a most extraordinary book that I found deeply absorbing, inspiring, and practical. It is an original work in every possible sense of the word, and brings to the public insights, concepts, and methods that are essential to creating peace and prosperity among vastly diverse groups whose cultures, mind-sets, life conditions, and existing forms of governance and economics are not just in conflict, but downright pathologically dysfunctional.

Within this rich offering are a few things that are simply not found elsewhere, that could and should redefine and mature Western and Eastern understanding and practice:

01 Practical application of the pioneering work of Clare W. Graves
02 Practical integration of previously unpublished work by Don E. Beck
03 Most extraordinary handbook for mapping the psycho-social political-economic environment of any conflict
04 Precise articulation of a new concept in context, that of Indigenous Intelligence
05 First rate graphics including graphical depictions of leadership forms for each of the value-system bands
06 Practical model of dealing with Flamethrowers, Zealots, Ideologues, Moderates, Pragmatists, and Conciliators
07 Thoughtful conclusion on how to approach functional (hybrid) governance and (honest) capitalism

From Don Beck's foreword:

QUOTE (xii): The goal (is) to understand the needs of all mind-sets and to begin to craft "full-spectrum" solutions, which are fundmentally different from those that a single perspective would offer.

This is not something any Western intelligence agency, international development authority, or major university is capable of doing today, not because they cannot, but because they refuse to mature.

The author begins with a very sound summary of Arab history, highlighting artificial boundaries imposed by the West at the point of a gun (boundaries that disrupted the relationships among tribes and between tribes and nature), land barons and proxy tyrants, and predatory capitalism.

See also: The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State and Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush as well as Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025

Her core focus is on teaching young men and women how to build indigenous institutions that are sustainable in the face of as well as in the aftermath of failed Western (and now Eastern) interventions that may be well-intentioned but are abysmally ignorant and often very destructive. Although the author states that educational reform is at the core of the Arab Memone Project, that aspect remains to be addressed more fully.

See also: Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition and Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)

The discussion of the "confluence of civilizations," a not-so-subtle slam on Samuel Huntington's book about clashes that neglected the deep wisdom of the psycho-social practitioners such as Graves and Beck and long underappreciated Charles Hampden-Turner, is utterly fascinating, as is the author's appreciation for Turkey as a rising model (to which I would add Iran, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Nigeria).

See also: Radical Man: The Process of Psycho-Social Development. and The New Turkish Republic: Turkey as a Pivotal State in the Muslim World (Pivotal State Series)

There are several central values to this book, one of them being a very concise practical summary of the work of Don Beck in relation to politics, economics, and regional challenges for change. Another is the author's articulation of just what it means to have Indigenous Intelligence.

QUOTE (109): Indigenious Intelligence (II) is the multidimensional capacity of an individual or group in a specific society to interpret its value-system's complexity to non-natives. ... Indigenous Intelligence informs governance by assessing the life conditions of the people and the challenges they face. It paints a more complete picture of the obstacles facing stakeholders in a society, not just the elite and the privileged.

Another major value within this book is the natural design process that it develops in relation to Arabia, and its pointed emphasis on the need to meet separately with each of the major mind-set categories (Flamethrowers, Zealots, Ideologues, Moderates, Pragmatists, and Conciliators) before meeting as a larger group -- other practical recommendations not now understood by US and other diplomats and aid managers are offered.

As someone who has studied revolution his whole life (search for starting point Graphic: Preconditions of Revolution in the USA Today) and twice failed to get the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to understand that revolution must be studied and appreciated holistically, I find the Beck - Maalouf emphasis on deep appreciation of life conditions, memetic codes, mindsets and world views, systems & structures, and behaviors & actions to be the epitome of intelligence with integrity.

On page 177 I am charmed and inspired by a map of Israel-Palestine that charts the level of emotional and intellectual maturity of specific areas at four levels. This is precisely the kind of fundamental appraisal that is needed and not practiced today by any of the "eight tribes" or information networks that must come together to achieve hybrid understanding and wisdom (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit).

The author concludes with a discussion of how locally-designed and locally-suited functional governance (I would say hybrid governance) must be empowered by functional capitalism (I consider capitalism dishonest, we are better off focused on the term citizen-centered economics). This is an essential original offering and one that will merit close study in Arabia as well as around the world. This section includes some excellent charts -- it does not include any reference to true cost economics or open source everything engineering. It ends with a deeply provocative chart, "Functional Democracy & the Eight Levels of Human Existence," co-developed by the author and Don Beck for this book specifically.

See also: Global Public Policy: Governing without Government? and Critical Choices. The United Nations, Networks, and the Future of Global Governance as well as Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre)

Two appendices, the Notes, and the Index, are world-class and make this book a reference work of lasting value.

From my vantage point, this book defines an aspect of diplomatic, informational, military, and economic (DIME) analytics that is both missing from all current endeavors and essential to crafting a future of peace and prosperity for all. This book should be required reading for diplomats, intelligence analysts, corporate commercial risk managers, and so many others. It sets a new gold standard for the integration of psycho-social analytics in local to global collaboration for constructive change. It is not sufficient in and of itself -- holistic analytics addressing the ten high-level threats to humanity and the twelve core practical policy domains from agriculture to water are needed, as are true cost economics in detail and open source everything engineering -- but it is certainly the "missing link" in ethical local to global engagement and a major life-affirming world-changing contribution to humanity's forward progress.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 14, 2014 8:17 PM PST


Gaia's Dance: The Story of Earth & Us
Gaia's Dance: The Story of Earth & Us
Price: $9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Story of Biological Evolution -- Our Yoda Speaks, December 2, 2014
I met the author at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland where we were both attending the New Story Summit. So let's start by me saying that this is what Yoda looks like in grandmother form. Elisabet Sahtouris is a HUGE brain packed into an earth form that is most kindly and hugely inspiring. Being around her is heart-warming, life-affirming, and intellectually stimulating -- a full-brain massage in a cosmic-calm embrace.

Although I have read other work by her in the past -- and I especially love her work as available free via YouTube -- this book is a convergence of simple explanation about a relatively simple cosmos that we disrespect at our peril. This is a great overview of biological evolution and essential education for every adult who wishes to be responsible toward their children and Earth.

As she documents, the adoption of simplistic (and flawed interpretations of) Darwinism by economists has led us to disasterous ends by mis-guiding humans with false gods of false prosperity, imposing false concepts of scarcity, and allowing the enclosure of the commons and the criminalization of private normal behavior, while legalizing high crimes by bankers and corporations.

Elisabet (Yoda) is a PhD evolution biologist who in this book provides clear documentation of how our current practices are unsustainable (others have done this before, she does it in a new and more interesting way), and must give way to mature sustainable collaboration that is more energy efficient (cheaper). War and waste are profitable for the few; peace and prosperity are profitable for all and vastly more profitable overall.

This is a brilliant "romp" through four billion years of repeating biological maturation cycles that connects the living Earth with your living body -- the hundred trillion cells in your/my body are part of a much larger cosmos whose own cells are acting in precisely the same way, with brilliant proteins running the body's and the Earth's and the cosmic "economy" in ways that should be envied, admired, and copied by human society before we destroy ourselves.

Elisabet (Dr. Sahtouris) is now firmly among my top dozen great minds to whom I shall attend with laser-like attention. Her wisdom is a very important part of our getting it right and making up for centuries of inspired but also depraved colonialism, militarism, and predatory capitalism. I hope the book comes out in print form, this is an offering that should be read most widely.

Below are seven books about how bad it has gotten, and three that offer tangible sustainable solutions.

The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System
To Govern Evolution: Further Adventures of the Political Animal
Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre)
Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
The Next Catastrophe: Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State
Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action (Political Economy of Institutions and Decisions)
Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth, & Trust


The Navigator
The Navigator
by Michael Pocalyko
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $9.72
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5.0 out of 5 stars Riddle (Family) Wrapped in a Mystery (Spies) Inside an Enigma (Finance), November 29, 2014
This is a book that requires a tiny bit of patience in the beginning and an appreciation of nuances throughout. By the beginning of the second quarter of the book you should be hooked. I found it to be a quite stunning weaving together of history, capital flight, corruption, and international financial ineptitude at the trillion dollar level. It held me to the end, I just had to be there for all the pieces to come together at the end as they did. No spoiler from me!

A few non-fiction books that I have reviewed that complement this one include:

Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold
Blowback: America's Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War
A Full Service Bank: How BCCI Stole Billions Around the World
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country
Flash Boys

Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability


The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan
The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan
by Jack Fairweather
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.22
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars British, CIA, US Flag Level View -- Scores Settled, Some Facts Wrong or Missing, November 9, 2014
I did a fast read last night and formed the following impressions:

01 This is a British perspective heavily weighted by a very narrow range of sources that favor a small number of US Department of State, CIA, and US military officers.

02 It has enough meat to demand a second detailed reading with my usual extensive notes, such as I just provided for Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure - A War Doomed by the Coalition's Strategies, Policies and Political Correctness.

03 There are a number of serious mistakes in this book, including blind acceptance of nonsense that could only have come for Abdullah and Atta and a few lost souls in the US Government who are completely out of touch with ground truth -- including slandering Dostom, who is one of the only real men and combat commanders across the entire spectrum of bureaucrat-crooks characteristic of Afghan leadership. The author is misguided on all matters related to electoral fraud, and needs to talk to my colleagues Andrew Garfield and Robert Young Pelton to get it right.

04 Ghani, whom I happen to admire very much, is treated very well in this book, and that is one reason the book stays at five stars for this preliminary review.

05 Karzai is treated in an interesting fashion that requires a careful assessment -- there is a lot the author is either over-looking or covering up, but there is a great deal here I am going to have to sift through very carefully.

06 Another reason this book is a solid five is because it properly evaluates the idiocy of the US Department of State (Clinton, Dobbins, Holbrook) in refusing to integrate the Pashtun Taliban in the early days when they were reeling and a unity government was achievable.

07 The index is marginal -- corruption, for example, is not in the index, it is mostly a lightweight name index and unworthy of what could be a very serious work. As I read through the book my greatest impression was that the author did not talk to many Afghan sources, and those that he did tended to be either Northern Alliance or State Department puppets.

I was in Afghanistan in 2013 and was the only analyst in the entire US system who started saying from September 2013 that the BSA would never be signed by Karzai. This infuriated my chain of command, all too comfortable buying into the uninformed nonsense coming out of the US Embassy and ISAF. As I read this book, I am reminded of the arrogance and ignorance of policy mandarins, the shallowness and naivete of Western intelligence, the complicity of the media and academia in failing to question authority, and chasm between the people on the ground -- the Afghans -- and the forces of Empire oblivious to reality. On balance I am certain this book will remain a five, and that regardless of its flaws, it is a most important contribution to the literature and one certain to force me to revisit other sources as I blend a new appraisal of where we all went so wrong.

Other books on Afghanistan I have reviewed here at Amazon with summary notes include:

Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War
Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times
Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia
Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan---and the Path to Victory
Wrong Turn: America's Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency
Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World
They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars: The Untold Story
Surrender to Kindness: One Man's Epic Journey for Love and Peace

I have not reviewed the BELOW book just out [yes, I did read the ABOVE book], it appears interesting. Until we have a proper debriefing of all the warlords and many of the presidential candidates from 2009 and 2014, we will not have a complete picture. It would also be helpful to have a multinational conference including professionals from the adjacent countries, China, Iran, Russia, and Turkey, among others. The subversive roles of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Republic also require deeper evaluation.

Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

After considering other options and my time-energy value, I am reducing this books from five to four stars, and choosing not to read it a second time to harvest additional detailed comments -- just not worth it.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability


Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure: A War Doomed By The Coalition's Strategies, Policies and Political Correctness
Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure: A War Doomed By The Coalition's Strategies, Policies and Political Correctness
by John L. Cook
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.77
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep Insights, A Couple of Misses, Certainly Recommended as Core Reading, November 8, 2014
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A hold over from my time in Afghanistan, I finally got around to reading this book on a long flight and give it a solid four stars. There is some very good eye opening stuff in this book, including some facts I itemize below that I plain did not know before. However, the author is also very wrong on a couple of key points, I address those at the end of my review when I suggest ten other books to also read. I do respect this book and the author's candid useful appraisal, and recommend it to anyone thinking about how criminally insane our US national insecurity/fraud system really is. We are our own worst enemy, and as Martin Luther King said before he was assassinated for saying so, "the greatest purveyors of (illegitimate) violence in the world."

At a meta-level, this is a five-star read and absolutely worthy of being included in any orientation collection. Meta points I salute:

01 US Government (politicals, policy, and intelligence) never got a grip on either Islam or corruption in Afghan context.

02 US Government never understood that Afghanistan is not a country, it is a collection of tribes and warlords with different languages, different loyalties, no rule of law, no shared value system.

03 US Government never understood the human cost -- to Afghans as well as to US troops -- of getting everything about our Afghan incursion and occupation so very wrong.

04 US Government went in heavy on the military side and completely missed the importance of the police, as well as the challenges including an almost completely illiterate male population.

05 Coalition lost control to Karzai from day one and never got it back -- Karzai is "the" criminal mastermind with his brothers as deputy crime family chiefs

06 General Petraeus and his boys got counterinsurgency all wrong, gutted ability of the coalition to be effective, particularly since the US Department of State is totally worthless when it comes to "nation-building" and whole of government assistance

07 Pakistan is to Afghanistan as Cambodia was to Viet-Nam

08 US Government has been completely dishonest and ineffective on Afghanistan's becoming the primary (90%) source for heroin in the world -- but the author fails to point out that under the Taliban there was ZERO opium being grown in Taliban-controlled areas.

09 Using volunteers in our military over and over means that less than 1% of the US is actually "at war"

There is a lot of stuff in this book that I did not pick up from other sources including:

- No national draft hence no national army or police worthy of the names
- Women between 16-25 have the highest suicide rate in the world
- Burka's are a death trap -- women have no peripheral vision, keep walking in front of moving vehicles
- Kabul has no central sewage, large tanks are used and pumped out by trucks
- All the feces from the homes on the mountainside wash down on Kabul
- No concept of insurance in Afghanistan -- all traffic accidents are "no fault" cover your own damages
- Afghan Constitution has a "poison pill" that allows Islam to trump law, this is used in pernicious ways
- No requirement or expectation for Parliament members to be literate (but same is true in USA)
- Sale of girls (badal)is still legal and common
- "Girls are for babies and boys are for fun" is the prevailing axiom -- pedophilia is RAMPANT
- Isolation of police from military is by design
- No such thing as a professional personnel management system anywhere in Afghan government
- Afghans cannot effectively fly or use artillery
- Interpreters serve for two years and then get a free pass to USA
- "Good idea fairies" a gripping reach -- $500,000 firetrucks with no water sources sent to put out $50 fires
- According to the Koran (2:223) a woman's testimony counts as that of half a man

I like this book and I find chapters on Corruption and on Islam particularly interesting. There are a few misses that cause me to reduce the book to four stars from five, but that is a still a "must read" evaluation for me.

01 Author buys into the Northern Alliance / Abdullah lies about Abdullah winning anything. Abdullah is 100% Tajik and could never win a national election, something the US Department of State evidently does not understand, as they back his attempt to win via fraud with Karzai's help this last time around. I was among those who helped Ghani push back and claim the election he won fair and square (at Phi Beta Iota search for Ghani Afghanistan). The author completely misses the reality that after Karzai Abdullah is the top criminal in Afghanistan, the "clean man" fronting for the Panjshire criminal network that is also Iran's fifth column in Afghanistan.

02 He misses the youth vote, the urban civic awakening, and Ramazan Bashardost as well as gains among women.

03 There is no index or bibliography in this book, which is a shame because it has enough substance to warrant both. This means that among other things the author's drawing on Jeff Bordin's work on Green on Blue casualties is not clear.

04 He completely misses the fact that the Taliban offered Bin Laden up immediately after 9/11 and before Bin Laden died in 2001 (the fake Bin Laden killed in a CIA/Blackwater set-up of SOF was roughly fake Bin Laden number 5 or 6).

05 He is completely wrong about the Taliban coming to power on the basis of opium. They came to power because after Charlie Wilson's war -- which the CIA resisted bitterly, it just wanted to harass the Soviets, not make them leave -- the US Congress was bribed to go looking for another war rather than investing half the war budget in peace.

06 His discussion of suicide bombings and IED casualities misses the manner in which young boys are sold into slavery to be trained as suicide bombers while also being sodomized in madrasses; misses the number of US casualties that come from patrols into previously mined areas left over from the Soviet occupation; and downplays the very legitimate justification of suicide bombing against occupying foreign forces.

Misses aside, this is a first class book and I am very glad to have read it.

Here are ten other books I recommend in addition to this one:

Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War
Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander
Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia
Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan---and the Path to Victory
Wrong Turn: America's Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency
God's Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad
They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars: The Untold Story
Surrender to Kindness: One Man's Epic Journey for Love and Peace


Revolution
Revolution
by Russell Brand
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.77
58 used & new from $13.62

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Intricate, Non-Violent, and Optimistic, November 4, 2014
This review is from: Revolution (Hardcover)
In relation to the 2,000 plus non-fiction books I have reviewed here at Amazon, this book is brilliant. Normally I would consider giving it four stars for lacking an index and endnotes, obviously needed for the poorly educated morons that cannot grasp the many (many) direct references to top authors and thinkers. For crying out loud, Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is received by the author in his home and cited in this book, as are so many others. So a solid five stars for impact and self-made erudition.

Let me state very clearly that the publisher has sodomized this author by not including an index, a bibliography, or endnotes. As the top Amazon reviewer for non-fiction, reviewing books across 98 distinct non-fiction categories, I am blown away by the clever, poetic, and pointed manner in which the author has integrated a vast (vast) range of reading and personal conversations into this book.

Here are a few meta-observations, followed by some detailed notes. I found this book absorbing and moving. Those that say the author does not offer specific solutions are clearly illiterates who have not actually read the book.

01 Poetry and philosophy. Will Durant's 1916 thesis, now available as Philosophy and the Social Problem: The Annotated Edition, fits easily with this author's panoramic book of both the problems and the possibilities.

02 If Russell Brand can be clean for 11 years, We the People can overturn our blind addictions to toxic corporations and absentee corrupt governments. There is a marvelous personal story woven throughout this book, the bottom line being that the author has chosen to be clean and deal with reality, something 80% of the public will not do -- their drugs of choice being slave wages, alcohol, gambling, and pornography.

03 We ALL want to be delivered from evil, including the 1%. I am charmed by a brief report from the author of his encounter with Lady Lynn Rothschild (who is originally from New Jersey) -- not mentioned in the book is the fact that she sponsored a May conference on Inclusive Capitalism, and together with the Mars Family (Mutuality Economics) and the "black sheep billionaires" (Redemptive Capitalism), represents the fraction of the 1% that "gets it" -- restore public agency or get a pitchfork up your ass.

04 Citing Fawzi Ibrahim, we have a choice: capitalism or the planet. Restoring community is how we cope. I am reminded of two books in particular, Lionel Tiger's The Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution and the Industrial System and Human scale.

05 Overall the author comes across as a loving conscious spirit who means no ill to the 1% but is sharply focused on achieving dignity and fairness for the 99%. He has completed his own Hero's Journey, has climbed out of the abyss, and is now a voice for public healing.

SPECIFIC SOLUTIONS

01 Control and hold accountable all corporations, scrapping the World Trade Organization (WTO) and creating the World Environmental Organization (WEO).

02 Re-localize food and farming (the UN just announced that this is the only sustainable agricultural solution)

03 Prioritize life over profit by rejecting Gross National Product (GNP) in favor of more community and life-affirming measures.

04 Individual debt jubilee.

05 Route around governments with autonomous community-based organizations

06 Get the money out of politics, participate instead of voting, move toward Liquid Democracy

07 Shift the energy paradigm to include shutting down all nuclear.

08 Make society, not economics, central to how we organize.

09 Open information, open eyes, open mind -- restore public power with transparency.

10 Demand 70% affordable housing from any development.

11 Direct most government funding to social enterprises.

12 Free Wi-Fi everywhere

MINOR NOTES

01 This book is hilarious.

02 Among key intellectual influences worth noting are Joseph Campbell and Sir James Goldsmith. I would add two recommended books, Peter Linebaugh's Stop, Thief!: The Commons, Enclosures, and Resistance (Spectre) and Matt Taibbi's Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History.

03 What US Government paid in bank bail-outs would have provided $50,000 a year to each homeless person in the USA.

04 60,000 of the homeless in the USA are veterans (independent fact check shows no fewer than 50,000).

05 Our attitude toward homelessness (obliviousness) is symptomatic of our attitude toward genocide, war, and general political and economic corruption.

06 Pedophilia is politics and politics is pedophilia. This is a nuclear grenade. Buy the book. I will certify that it applies in the USA as much as it may apply in the UK and across Europe.

07 Among the many corporations that should be killed (put out of existence) are Apple, Boots, Coca Cola, Disney, Exxon, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, Monsanto, Pfizer, and Time Warner.

08 The author lionizes Daniel Pinchbeck, whom I also worship, he was the publisher of my book in the signature line, and is a cultural and spiritual guru of the first order.

09 Among the most interesting elements of the book for me were sections deconstructing the Lord's Prayer, dismantling "Manifest Destiny," and sections throughout the book on the intersection between science, religion, and consciousness. There are so many books I would like to recommend, here I must limit myself to two: Quantum Jumps: An Extraordinary Science of Happiness and Prosperity and Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution.

10 I have MANY books annotated in the margins of this book, I mention this to make the point that anyone who demeans this author's erudite and poetic essay -- never mind the crap publisher screwing over the details -- is simply not well-read. With my two remaining links I offer Theresa Amato's Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny and the UK's only utterly genius Philip Allot of Cambridge, The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State.

The author concludes with a strong statement, very detailed, on the need to migrate toward community-based social enterprises and self-governance -- a Nobel Prize was awarded to Elino Ostrom for her book on Governing the Commons that made many of these points.

I am very happy to stand with the author on the substance of this book. It serves us all.

Robert David STEELE Vivas
THE OPEN SOURCE EVERYTHING MANIFESTO: Transparency, Truth, & Trust
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 29, 2014 8:51 AM PST


London: the Information Capital: 100 Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You View the City
London: the Information Capital: 100 Maps and Graphics That Will Change How You View the City
by Oliver Uberti
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from $29.16

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From coffee table to scientific salon, a worthy offering, November 4, 2014
This is a spectacular offering on multiple fronts. On the low-end, it has got to be the coolest coffee table book around, something that could be usefully offered in every waiting room across London -- and hopefully inspire copycats for other cities including Paris and New York and Dubai.

At the high end, the book offers the most current available understanding of just what can be gleaned from "big data" that is available from open databases -- one can only imagine the additional value to be had from closed data bases (money movement, for example). And of course we have to persist in our demands that all data and the software and hardware needed to process the data be open source so that it is affordable, interoperable, and scalable.

To evaluate the book, look online for the following article that provides a series of extracted color maps along with textual information that in my view help make the purchasing decision here, for those that can afford to buy another book, quite easy:

< These Maps Visualize London's 2.4 Billion Bus Journeys In A Whole New Way >

Here are some other data visualization books that I find quite inspiring:

Geo-Informatics in Resource Management and Sustainable Ecosystem: International Symposium, GRMSE 2013, Wuhan, China, November 8-10, 2013, Proceedings, ... in Computer and Information Science)
Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia
Designing Data Visualizations: Representing Informational Relationships
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
The Visual Organization: Data Visualization, Big Data, and the Quest for Better Decisions (Wiley and SAS Business Series)
A History of the World in 12 Maps
A History of the Twentieth Century in 100 Maps
Cool Infographics: Effective Communication with Data Visualization and Design
Cartography: Visualization of Geospatial Data
Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability


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