The Foreign Service: Missing Once Again

Why shouldn’t the American public be just as cognizant of the lives and stories of the sacrifices American diplomats made and continue to make for this country as they are of uniformed service members or, for that matter, the journalists who cover the conflicts? Read more »

The US and Southeast Asia: Then and Now

Yet before the fall of Saigon to Ho Chi Minh’s forces and the messy US evacuation from South Vietnam, came the US evacuation of its embassy in Cambodia, an event that has, for the most part, sunk into obscurity. In fact, the US government had already left Phnom Penh – evacuating its remaining embassy staff - and the killing fields of Cambodia 18 days before the Saigon departure began. Read more »

Lawrence Freedman’s Strategy: A History – A Book Review Essay

The major reason I decided to embark upon Freedman’s journey – and see it through to the end – was because the term strategy (or lack thereof) has become one of those words that are tossed around all too easily by people complaining that so and so or such and such organization has no strategy. But they then fail to define what they mean or they give it such a rigid, outdated meaning that they, in essence, render the term useless. Read more »

War on the Rocks: A New Nixon Doctrine – Strategy for a Polycentric World

[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a. "zen"] I have a new piece up at the excellent War on the Rocks site that is oriented towards both history and contemporary policy Some Excerpts: A New Nixon Doctrine: Strategy for a Polycentric World ….Asia was only the starting point; the Nixon doctrine continued to evolve in subsequent years into [...] Read more »

Manhunt: religion and the director’s eye

[ by Charles Cameron -- with an assist from Wm Benzon, under-appreciated and brilliant film and literary critic, musician, author of Beethoven's Anvil ] . Screen-time is valuable: movie directors don’t just throw it away. Here are screen-grabs of two moments in Greg Barker‘s HBO bin Laden documentary, Manhunt, offered for your consideration: and: ** [...] Read more »

Jimmy Chen declares DQ on War

[ by Charles Cameron -- juxtaposition offers us a potent way to connect "equal but opposite" dots ] . Jimmy Chen at HTMLGiant captures the griefs and joyful reliefs of war by juxtaposing two war photos that had separately become iconic — and their joint impact is precisely the kind I’m reaching for with my [...] Read more »

The First Battle — a review

[by J. Scott Shipman] The First Battle, Operation Starlite and the Beginning of the Blood Debt in Vietnam, by Otto J. Lehrack, Lt.Col., USMC, Ret. This is an older book, but important. A few weeks ago I was having lunch with a good friend, Bruce. Bruce is a Vietnam veteran and since both of us are [...] Read more »

Warlords Revisited

“The horror! The horror! Charles Cameron sparked a discussion with his doublequotes post on two colonels, the late strategist John Boyd and the fictional monster,  Walter Kurtz from Francis Ford Coppola’s classic Vietnam War film homage to Joseph Conrad,  Apocalypse Now.  Kurtz is a disturbing figure, one who is recurrent in literature and history going back to [...] Read more »

Venkat on Positioning vs. Melee Moves

Blogfriend, Dr. Venkat Rao had an intriguing post at Tempo (his other blog) on which I want to make a few, relatively disjointed, observations: Positioning Moves versus Melee Moves  My general philosophy of decision-making de-emphasizes the planning/execution distinction. But I am not an agility purist. Nobody is. You can think of the Agility Purist archetype as a [...] Read more »

The Afghanistan Narrative Gap and Its Consequences

by Bud Goodall One of the important challenges of President Obama’s administration is to sell the continuation of our “overseas contingency operation” (or perhaps FATAVE) in Afghanistan to an increasingly disenchanted audience at home and abroad. But there is a worrisome absence of a good narrative–a coherent collection of stories–about why we are there and what we hope to accomplish. In recent press conferences and briefings, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates have maintained […] Read more »