zenpundit.com » Blog Archive » Recommended Reading & Viewing

Recommended Reading & Viewing

Top Billing! T. Greer –Far Right and Far Left – Two Peas in a Pod?

….There are two groups who consistently oppose this plutocratic “pragmatic” consensus: the far left and the far right. These two groups, seemingly divided, are united by their “radical” opposition to many otherwise unquestioned aspects of America’s standing political regime. To name but a few:

  • The belief that the United States federal government should play a strong role in holding up the U.S. economy – particularly sectors deemed “Too Big To Fail.” 
  • Strong support for subsidies or other forms of ‘corporate welfare’ for influential or strategic industries (“The Farm Lobby,” “Big Pharma,” and the energy sector – both the “Big Oil” and green energy varieties – are prominent examples).
  • A commitment to America’s global hegemony and globalization writ large. The chosen instruments for this are transnational economic agreements, financial interventions (as pioneered by the IMF), or offers of substantial military assistance. 
  • The use of drone strikes, special forces and other ‘limited war‘ operations as the most effective response to international terrorist movements.
  • A disdain for the rule of law and governmental transparency. 
  • Prioritizing national security over privacy and individual rights.
  • Eclipse of the legislative branch in favor of an increasingly large, complex, and powerful executive. Outsourcing legislative policy making to congressional, think tanks, or industry wonks.  

Tea-party and Occupy members are opposed to most, if not all, of these things. However, identfying the real problem does not ensure the two sides will agree on solutions. What party program could unify the two sides? Mr. Parameswaran outlines one possible solution. He labels it “radical centrism: [….] 

An outstanding post . Hat tip to L.C. Rees 

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen – (Blaisep)Under a Field of Flowers: Captain Emil Kapaun 

….As Chinese Communist forces encircled the battalion, Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under direct enemy fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers. He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to recover wounded men, dragging them to safety. When he couldn’t drag them, he dug shallow trenches to shield them from enemy fire. As Chinese forces closed in, Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded. He was taken as a prisoner of war by Chinese forces on Nov. 2, 1950.

After he was captured, Kapaun and other prisoners were marched for several days northward toward prisoner-of-war camps. During the march Kapaun led by example in caring for injured Soldiers, refusing to take a break from carrying the stretchers of the wounded while encouraging others to do their part.

Once inside the dismal prison camps, Kapaun risked his life by sneaking around the camp after dark, foraging for food, caring for the sick, and encouraging his fellow Soldiers to sustain their faith and their humanity. On at least one occasion, he was brutally punished for his disobedience, being forced to sit outside in subzero weather without any garments. When the Chinese instituted a mandatory re-education program, Kapaun patiently and politely rejected every theory put forth by the instructors. Later, Kapaun openly flouted his captors by conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951. 

Emil Kapaun, US Army captain, Catholic priest, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and a martyr for religious freedom, is the American Maximilian Kolbe

SWJ – Understanding Groupthink and Aligning FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency with Reality 

….To illustrate the nuanced challenges of groupthink, we informally surveyed a small group of Intermediate Level students at one of the Defense Department’s educational institutions.  The students were junior field grade officers from joint and international services, nearing the end of their year-long education.  Our survey asked two questions:  1) Whether their education had formally addressed groupthink as a subject; and 2) What were groupthink’s causes?  A little more than half of the group responded that while groupthink had been discussed early in their education year, albeit briefly as part of a broader class topic, groupthink was not a central focus of the class.  In response to the causes of groupthink, about half of the group cited dominant personalities within a group who ignored dissenting opinions, and the inclination of group members to remain within the group’s good graces by avoiding dissention.  Less than one-fourth of the responses cited direct pressure on any member who objected to group opinions.[2]  What strikes us is not what the students said, but what they did not say.

Two excellent and – I might suggest, related – articles.

Lexington Green – Margaret Thatcher: Revolutionary, Leader

….There is always a “them” who are the current ruling group. They are the ones dealt into the existing game, its apologists and advocates. To take them on, to organize and lead an opposition movement, the leader must have extremely strong character. Such a leader must be self-assured, know how things really work, and have a very thick skin. The leader must have no regard for conventional wisdom and no respect for the often unstated limits of what can be done or, even more, what is “simply not done” or “simply not said.”

As a practical matter, such a leader must have the capacity to speak plainly and clearly to a majority of ordinary people who are quietly victimized in the existing game, to show them how certain changes will be good for them, and good generally. They do not lead by force or lies, they lead by telling hard truths and gaining assent to the hard path to better things.

Mrs. Thatcher was such a leader.  

Strategic Studies Institute – (Manwaring) Venezuela as an Exporter of 4th Generation Warfare Instability and (Bunker) Op-Ed: The Need For A “Half-Pivot to the Americas” 

Kings of War – (Betz) Kim Jong Un, We’re all gonna be like three little Fonzies here, OK? and (Egnell) Rethink, but don’t dismiss – on U.S. training of foreign troops 

The Glittering Eye – Personal Computers Aren’t Too Good 

ForbesNanotechnology’s Revolutionary Next Phase 

Taking Note –Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error 

It’s easy to see how not trying to find out who had done the erasing–burying the problem–was better for Michelle Rhee personally, at least in the short term. She had just handed out over $1.5 million in bonuses in a well-publicized celebration of the test increases[9]. She had been praised by presidential candidates Obama and McCain[10] in their October debate, and she must have known that she was soon to be on the cover of Time Magazine[11]. The public spectacle of an investigation of nearly half of her schools would have tarnished her glowing reputation, especially if the investigators proved that adults cheated–which seems likely given that their jobs depended on raising test scores.

Moreover, a cheating scandal might well have implicated her own “Produce or Else” approach to reform. Early in her first year she met one-on-one with each principal and demanded a written, signed guarantee[12] of precisely how many points their DC-CAS scores would increase.

Relying on the DC-CAS[13] was not smart policy because it was designed to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses. It did not determine whether students passed or were promoted to the next grade, which meant that many students blew it off. 

Recommended Viewing:

7 Responses to “Recommended Reading & Viewing”

  1. Madhu Says:

    On some of the topics discussed in the links: why is the US military contracting out some of its doctrine writing to military consulting firms, the very same firms bidding for certain other government contracts supplying military operations?

  2. L. C. Rees Says:

    The same reason Arthur Anderson offered other accounting services to Enron despite being their “independent auditor” and Fitch, S&P, et al. sold bundled rating services to the same banks whose products (security issues) they were “independent rating agencies” for.

    The only check on power expanding is opposing power. This means the opposing power must have sufficient means, motive, and opportunity to check the power it is supposed to check. Failing that, it is anything but “independent”. In that case, outsourcing your marketing materials to the same entity selling your other products is a real cost saver.

  3. L. C. Rees Says:

    The same holds true for Michelle Rhee: there must be separation of credentialing and education. More micro, there must be separation of credentialing and testing. Such separation can only be enforced if the credentialing and education (or testing) blocs are opposed power centers in petty, balkanized, vicious, and jealous equilibrium.

  4. larrydunbar Says:

    Well, self-creation. I wonder how that is going to go over? What, we have science, creationists, and now self-creationists?

  5. Occupy and the Tea Party both oppose crony capitalism - Not the Singularity Says:

    […] Via Zen Pundit. Image: […]

  6. Madhu Says:

    “The privatisation of defence assets and the outsourcing of military services from the armed forces to the private sector is an increasing trend. This book shows the extent to which many military functions and activities, ranging from military research to military consulting/training to operational support services, have been outsourced in the US and in Europe. While other books in this field largely cover the issues of Private Military Companies and of security contractors, this book focuses on technical and management services.This detailed study provides new and updated information on the ongoing privatisation of the defence sector and offers an original theoretical explanation of why the most modern armed forces throughout the world have come increasingly to rely on private companies for nearly everything they do. Contributing to a better understanding of military privatisation and its close connection to technological change, this book explains the complexity of the whole phenomenon and discusses its implications for national and international security.”
    War as Business: Technological Change and Military Service Contracting, Armin Krishnan 
    Most studies or books focus on contracting security services. This book seems to discuss the doctrine writing aspect among other topics. 

  7. Madhu Says:

    “Booz Allen Hamilton’s Socio-Cultural Development Center (SCDC) offers a unique understanding of these challenges. The SCDC is a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort that includes sociologists, anthropologists, economists, psychologists, and scholars from other social science disciplines, as well as technical experts in such areas as geospatial analysis, modeling and simulation, and intelligence analysis.The Center has developed a formal methodology for assessing communities of interest that are driven by social, ethnic, and cultural beliefs and customs very different from our own. For example, in 2008, SCDC studied the key drivers of instability in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo; our analysis identified six interrelated causal factors.Following on this work, SCDC studied the strategic communications approach of al Qaeda in Yemen, and identified ways to counter the group’s influence using our own communications strategy that reflects insight into the various tribal groups.”
    from The Booz Allen Socio-Cultural Development Center (SCDC) website 

Switch to our mobile site