Recommended Reading – 100% Cyber Free Edition

[ Mark Safranski – a.k.a “zen“]

As you may have noted above, starting today I am following Charles, Scott and Lynn in adding my name to my posts. With four bloggers here and perhaps more to come in the future, it is becoming too confusing for occasional or new readers for me to continue to leave my posts “unsigned”.

Going to catch up now with the best of the non-cyber posts and articles of the last few weeks:

Top Billing! The National Interest (BJ Armstrong) – Mahan, the Forgotten Grand Strategist

Armstrong is also the editor of the newly published 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era. 

….Before Thomas P.M. Barnett ever introduced international relations theorists and futurists to the idea of the “core” and the “gap” nations, Mahan was writing about two groups of people in the world. Mahan suggested that advancements in the west “have extended the means whereby prosperity has increased manifold, as have the inequalities in material well-being existing between those within its borders and those without.” This, he believed, would result in conflict. Globalization and the technological development of the West certainly had increased the standard of living of most Americans and Europeans, but Mahan knew that the economic difficulties of the rest of the world were just as important to the international order.

Mahan recognized the “inequalities” could cause conflict and he warned that “those who want will take, if they can … for the simple reason that they have not, that they desire, and that they are able.” The challenge to international order was something Mahan foresaw, despite the fact that thinkers like Normal Angell were writing that globalization would mean the end of war. Other writers during his time believed that since economic difficulties were shared challenges they would balance one another. Mahan, on the other hand, realized these challenges would be shared unequally, and inequality was only going to add to international instability and stoke the fires of conflict. 

John Hagel– Strategy Made Simple – The 3 Core Strategy Questions 

The ultimate goal of differentiation is to avoid direct confrontation with our competitors. In the words of SunTzu and The Art of War, if we have to engage the enemy in battle, then we’ve already lost. If there’s any uncertainty about why we are different, we won’t be able to focus effectively and we’ll be fighting an uphill battle to gain and sustain the attention of our audience.

Of course, differentiation has always been important to success in any environment.  What’s different now is that people face an exponentially increasing array of alternatives.  They have more information and more ability to switch across as larger and larger array of options. In a world of power laws, we’re competing not only with the blockbusters in the head of the power curve, but an ever expanding long tail of options that are able to serve very narrow niches. That’s why it’s more critical than ever to be able to answer this question clearly and compellingly, for ourselves and the people we want to reach.

War on the Rocks has been launched!!!! Congrats to the gents involved.

War on the Rocks is a web publication that serves as a platform for analysis, commentary, and debate on foreign policy and national security issues through a realist lens. It will feature articles and podcasts produced by an array of writers with deep experience in these matters: top notch scholars who study war, those who have served or worked in war zones, and more than a few who have done it all.


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