January 2010 Archives

Spirit of America in Afghanistan by Jim Hake, Wall Street Journal, Monday, 28 December 2009, p. A15.

Jim Hake has been leading Spirit of America for the past six years and offers a way for the average Joe to help fight the war against terrorism. The objective is to give troops sewing machines, clothing, medical supplies, toys, and other materials that can be given to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. This will help show the people that Americans are friends and not enemies. As the article notes "General Mattis has said that our 'direct support to build the hopes of the people is often as important as a resupply of ammunition."

The web site is www.spiritofamerica.net and Mr. Hake also has a book, "101 Ways to Help the Cause in Afghanistan".


The Best Military Books of the Decade, Navy Times, 18 January 2010, p 4

The Navy Times has published its list of the best military books of the decade. I can't say I disagree with too many of them and am surprised by some. For example, The Fourth Star made the list, which I think is appropriate, but it was not released until late 2009.

The list.

  1. Shane Comes Home by Rinker Buck, 2005
  2. Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood by Donovan Campbell, 2009.
  3. The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army by David Cloud and Greg Jaffe, 2009.
  4. The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq by John Crawford, 2005.
  5. One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer by Nathaniel Fick, 2005.
  6. The Forever War by Dexter Filkins, 2008.
  7. The Good Soldiers by David Finkel, 2009
  8. Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America by Nathaniel Frank, 2009.
  9. The War I Always Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War by Brandon Friedman, 2007.
  10. Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq by Michael R, Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, 2006.
  11. Just Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq by Jason Christopher Hartley, 2005.
  12. The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education by Craig Mullaney, 2009.
  13. The Long Road Home; A Story of War and Family by Martha Raddatz, 2007.
  14. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks, 2006.
  15. Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles by Anthony Swafford, 2003.
  16. Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America and the New Face of American War by Evan Wright, 2004.

That's five published in 2009, one in 2008, two in '07, two in '06, four in 2005, and one each in 2004 and 2003. Fully eighty-eight percent of the best books of the decade were written in the last half of the decade with thirty-one percent coming in the last year. All of these books deal with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. So, did the books most recently published make the list because they were fresh on our minds or was it because it takes some time to put things into perspective before you can write a good book about a war. I lean towards the latter.

There are other books that made the reading lists of some officers mentioned in the article but did not make the list. For example, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden published in 2000 would have been a good choice. I also think there should have been room for The Sling and The Stone: On War in the 21st Century by Thomas X. Hammes published in 2004 should have made the list. I would have also included Inside CentCom: The Unvarnished Truth About the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by Michael DeLong in 2004 and Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq by Linda Robinson published in 2008. But, it is not my list.

Top 100 Global Thinkers

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"The FP Survey: The Wisdom of the Smart Crowd", Foreign Policy, Special Edition, December 2009. p. 26

This article lists the top 100 Global Thinkers and I'm happy to see some of my favorites were listed:

#8 General David Petraeus

#19 Malcolm Gladwell

#21 Thomas Friedman

#25 Joseph Stiglitz

#44 David Kilcullen

#55 Henry Kissinger

#56 Niall Ferguson

#65 Francis Fukuyama

#66 The Kagan Family (Donald, Robert, Frederick, and Kimberly)

#81 John Arquilla

#82 Peter W. Singer

Some missing, in my opinion: Thomas P. M. Barnett, John Nagl, Greg Mortenson. Admittedly this survey was for 2009 so I can accept that the contributions made by those left off the list were made in previous years.

And just for completeness, here is the global thinkers book club.

Educate a Girl for $350!

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ARTICLE: GUEST OPINION: War, terrorism, politics and 'Three Cups of Tea', pressdemocrat.com, 02 January 2010.

This is a nice op-ed on Greg Mortenson's efforts to educate girls in the Middle East. An entire lifetimes education for a girl can be had for only $350. Contrast that to the cost of education we are used to when a few text books can cost that much.

The thiking is that by educating girls, when they have children they will discourage them from become radicalized and will encourage them to get an education as well. Education is the key to improving te human ituation around the world. What I find interesting is that, as Mortenson says, the military gets this, it is the State Department that doesn't seem to get it.

Read more about this in Mortenson's book Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time and his just released book Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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