Friday, March 8, 2013

Two Interesting Recent Books

 As a Life Member of the Naval War College Foundation, I not only get my copy of the quarterly Naval War College Review, but email announcement of the many seminars and activities the Foundation sponsors around the country.  Just about the time my cynicism meter is about to peg out at maximum, the NWCF sends me something that reassures me that, within the military, rational, independent thought has not been totally extinguished.  There are, particularly at the military staff and war colleges, those who look far beyond the party line and speak truth to power.  In short, evidence that dumbass policy has not driven off all the saner minds.

The NWCF offers a series of noon-time lectures by contemporary scholars about their most recent book.  The format has the author speaking for 40-45 minutes on the topic of their book and the facts leading to its publication, followed by a Q&A session. The most recent announcement for the next round of lectures included:

Thursday, April 4, 2013: Imperial Crossroads: The Great Powers and the Persian Gulf with editors Professors Jeffrey Macris and Saul Kelly. This is a study of the contest for control of the Gulf and its resources, with an emphasis on Portugal, Holland, Britain, and the United States. The historical perspective will enhance the readers' understanding of the geo-political development within the region.

Thursday, April 25, 2013: From Kabul to Baghdad and Back: The U.S. at War in Afghanistan and Iraq with Professor John Ballard.This book questions some of the fundamental assumptions affecting decisions regarding the prosecution of the Afghan war. It compares the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan from a national strategic perspective and questions several key operational decisions in the region. Dr. Ballard is the Dean of Faculty at the National War College.

With this wonderful "Wired Age", the books are available electronically, so easy peasy to get here on a small Aegean island!

Thus, the reading suggestions above for the crew.

And, on the lighter side, to show that we NWC guys are not totally stuffed shirts:

Thursday, May 9, 2013: The Aden Effect with Claude Berube. In this change of pace for an 8 Bells Lecture, we have a novel about murder, politics, sea power, and intrigue centering on the Middle East. Touted as bringing to the written page "the most interesting new hero since Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan," this should prove to be a worthwhile departure, both entertaining and educational. Claude Berube teaches at the U.S. Naval Academy and will be discussing the non-fiction themes that influenced the novel.



  1. Good tip off Al, thanks. I'm not an NWC member but in the past they have posted some of their discussions on youtube - their annual strategy conferences are one case in point. So I will be looking for those that you mentioned.

    I checked out the write-up on 'Imperial Crossroads' at the book section of the Naval Institute blog. It has great reviews, including one from First Sea Lord of the UK who calls it essential reading for military and maritime communities. I'll pick up a copy. Too bad though that the historical emphasis is on Europeans in the Persian Gulf. I would like to read more of the Gulf history of the Persians, Arabs, Omanis and Hindus.

    The Claude Berube novel 'Aden Effect' sounds good also. I have read several of Berube's non-fiction articles on the USNI blog and elsewhere. He is fairly eclectic and has written on Somali piracy, innovation by junior naval officers, historical warships, interviews with anti-whaling groups. Most interesting to me were interviews he did with surviving OSS team members from the 1945 mission to supply weapons and training to Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap and many of their key personnel.

  2. Mike-

    The NWC Current Strategy Forums are great. I was fortunate to attend two. One as a student and one two years later. A couple of days of some great presentations, seminars and interaction with some serious heavy hitters, both military and civilian.

  3. Al -

    There have also been some videotaped forums on youtube by the Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College at Carlisle. One is coming up in early April titled "The Future of American Landpower".


    I am assuming that unclas portions will also be posted on youtube shortly afterward.

    I was told by a retired blue suiter that the Air University puts similar strategy forums online but have not been able to find them. Maybe they are all classified - or perhaps I have not just been interested enough to look deeper?

  4. It's not just classified stuff that has to be edited out, but typically the speakers are granted "non-attribution" to enable them to speak freely, and they retain the courtesy of identifying what they do not wish to be public.

  5. The Macris and Kelly work reminded me of this one: Lalwani and Shifrinson (2011) is an interesting look at the who notion of the United States "commanding the commons" and the likely difference of opinion between those in this country that consider that an unmitigated good and those that might not agree.

    Sounds like a worthwhile topic for discussion, both there and perhaps here...

  6. From last week: Admiral Locklear's opening statement to the House Armed Services Committee on the posture of US Pacific Command.

    The video is on youtube but there is a lot of congressional bloviation.

  7. And the long version - 38 pages: