[by Mark Safranski a.k.a. “zen“]
Top Billing! Infinity Journal Volume 3, Issue 2
IJ requires free registration but has a consistently high level of articles, for example “Strategic Culture: More Problems than Prospects” by Antulio J. Echevarria:
The concept of strategic culture has grown more popular of late than its problematic origins and dubious attempts at application warrant. Once described as having undergone three generational shifts, the concept is now in at least its fourth generation, and is no better for any of them. Over the span of more than four decades, the theory’s diachronic and synchronic tensions have resisted resolution. The concept fails, in other words, to account for change over time as well as commonality in time. It attempts to privilege continuity over change in the former sense, and uniqueness over similarity in the latter sense. Its empirical base, moreover, has not gone beyond broad generalizations that do little more than reaffirm national and cultural stereotypes. The idea of strategic culture is, therefore, in need of another more critical examination. Such a re-examination can only lead to the conclusion that, on the whole, the concept’s problems far outweigh its prospects. No doubt this condition will continue to attract scholarly interest in the hopes of resolving these tensions. However, for policymakers and strategists, the concept is best avoided, at least for another generation or two. There are enough tautologies involved in formulating policy and strategy already. It is not clear that the credibility of the process can withstand another one. […]
William Lind – John Boyd’s Art of War
….Boyd had a reservoir of comments he repeated regularly, one of which was, “A lot of people in Washington talk about strategy. Most of them can spell the word, but that’s all they know of it.” The establishment’s insistence on an offensive grand strategy, where we attempt to force secular liberal democracy down the throats of every people on earth, is a major reason for our involvement and defeat in Fourth Generation conflicts. A defensive grand strategy, which is what this country followed successfully through most of its history, would permit us to fold our enemies back on themselves, something Boyd recommended. With us out of the picture, their internal fissures, such as those between Sunni and Shiites in the Islamic world, would become their focus. But as usual, Boyd was right: virtually no one in Washington can understand the advantages of a defensive grand strategy.
Being involved in every conflict on earth is useful if the real game is boosting the Pentagon’s budget rather than serving our national interests. Here too Boyd had a favorite line. He often said, “It is not true the Pentagon has no strategy. It has a strategy, and once you understand what that strategy is, everything the Pentagon does makes sense. The strategy is, don’t interrupt the money flow, add to it.”
Information Dissemination (Galrahn) – 21st Century Mahan
….21st Century Mahan is a very clever book. The book combines five articles written by AT Mahan for periodicals specifically for public audiences, thus presenting AT Mahan in a way that is more approachable by those like me who can get annoyed by his difficult to read classical writing style. All five articles are very well written, but they are also relevant to the discussions surrounding the US Navy today. Benjamin Armstrong is a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy today, so the author intentionally draws no conclusions from Mahan’s work and applies them to current events. And yet, because of the presentation and delivery within the book, the reader can’t help but think about Mahan in a 21st century context applicable today. I am not sure if that was how LCDR Armstrong intended to write the book, or how the USNI editors helped arrange the book, but it is very clever and works well.
I really enjoyed the book. It helped that I had never read any of the five AT Mahan essay’s covered in the book, and it also helped that I enjoyed each of the essay’s. In particular the way the chapter involving Naval Administration and Warfare, Some General Principles came together early in the book was so well done I had to read it again with my yellow marker I was so impressed. To give one a sense of just how much easier this book is to read on Alfred Thayer Mahan than most works of AT Mahan, my 18 year old daughter actually finished the book when I asked her to read it just for an opinion. I assure you, if this was a typical Mahan book, she would not have made it past chapter 2.
If you are looking for a book with a strong authors opinion that draws conclusions for you in applying AT Mahan to the 21st century, this is not the right book for you. This book asks readers to draw their own conclusions. That detail actually defines the style of the book better than any other detail of the book, because the author doesn’t tell the reader what to think, rather asks the reader to think for themselves.
Washington’s Blog – NSA Whistleblowers: NSA Collects ‘Word for Word’ Every Domestic Communication
JUDY WOODRUFF: Both of you know what the government says is that we’re collecting this — we’re collecting the number of phone calls that are made, the e-mails, but we’re not listening to them.
WILLIAM BINNEY: Well, I don’t believe that for a minute. OK?
I mean, that’s why they had to build Bluffdale, that facility in Utah with that massive amount of storage that could store all these recordings and all the data being passed along the fiberoptic networks of the world. I mean, you could store 100 years of the world’s communications here. That’s for content storage. That’s not for metadata.
Metadata if you were doing it and putting it into the systems we built, you could do it in a 12-by-20-foot room for the world. That’s all the space you need. You don’t need 100,000 square feet of space that they have at Bluffdale to do that. You need that kind of storage for content.
Joshua Foust –The Miranda Detention: Troubling from all Sides
….So, this is complicated. The UK authorities were correct to question David Miranda, but they were stupid, wrong, and abusive to have held him for so long — and in doing so, they ruined any possible legitimacy their questions might have held. It was a needless own-goal.
More immediately, too, the instinctive reaction of far too many journalists to shriek about their own spouses being targeted is going to have a downside. Few journalists would treat their spouses as authority-bait the way Greenwald did this past weekend, and few would tell other reporters, for a profile, that they used their spouses to help them avoid intelligence agencies. Glenn Greenwald is a very smart man — he knew what he was doing. While we should all condemn the British authorities for holding Miranda for so long, we should also keep in mind exactly why he might have been singled out — and there a whole new set of complications and questions emerge.
There’s also a bit of historical literacy we should perhaps add to the discussion. Histrionics aside, most governments, and many more unsavory groups, treat secrecy very seriously — sometimes with deadly seriousness. Regardless of the rightness or wrongness of his decision to help pilfer and distribute the treasured secrets of several governments, to do so openly, with such braggadocio, is not only arrogant it is misguided. This is not a game, especially to the governments being exposed, and casually involving a spouse to take a hit when he won’t risk it is a bizarre and troubling decision.
Chuck Spinney – An American Sun Tzu – John Boyd
Dr. Chet Richards – Spinney and Lind
BLACKFIVE celebrates National Airborne Day ( it was a perfectly good airplane….)
Dr. Steve Metz – Strategic Horizons: The Revolution in American Security Policy
War on the Rocks – ( COL David Maxwell) UNCONVENTIONAL WARFARE DOES NOT BELONG TO SPECIAL FORCES and (Jason Fritz) COUNTERINSURGENCY IS NOT THE PROBLEM
Small Wars Journal – The Roots of Military Doctrine: Change and Continuity in Understanding the Practice of Warfare, Cartel Car Bombings in Mexico and ( Kyle Fonay) On Guerrilla Warfare: Two Takes, Mao vs. Guevara
Eeben Barlow – THE DANGERS FACING REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENTS