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Recommended Reading

Top Billing! SWJRobert S. McNamara Dies at 93 and Information Counterrevolution by Adam Elkus.

Robert Strange McNamara was a seminal and highly controversial figure of the 1960’s who managed the unusual feat of being wrong on both sides of the Vietnam War issue. Aside from Vietnam, admittedly a very large event to set aside, McNamara had a transformative impact on the Pentagon as Secretary of Defense for both good and ill.  SWJ has an uber-round up on McNamara’s death and legacy.

Adam has a sharp analysis of social media tech and their uses or abuses during recent political upheavals, that goes against conventional wisdom. Take a look!

Outside the Beltway (Dave Schuler)- Is the World Smiling Back?

Dave gets to the heart of the problem that bedevils what passes for foreign policy analysis by most Americans – an egocentric belief that the US is the prime mover in the world and all other states simply react to what have done, are doing, will or will not do. That isn’t the case. As Dave illustrates with Russia, most states with any appreciable leverage and resources pursue their own interests – generally with greater focus and consistency than the United States can muster.

Scientific AmericanAre certain genders or body types better at the art of persuasion?

I’ll say.

Bruce KeslerVietnam Views Confuse Iran-Iraq Views and I’m A Lesbian

Bruce’s posts range from the seriously analytical to the bitingly polemical to those that are amusing, so I thought I would give you a couple of examples for the newer readers yet unfamiliar with Mr. Kesler ( who is not actually a lesbian BTW).

HNN –  Stalin’s Wars: An Interview with Professor Geoffrey Roberts

This one is a must read in a car crash sense. Professor Roberts is deeply invested in the steeply uphill – and most likely ideologically motivated- project of rehabilitating the historical reputation of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin through an examination of Stalin as the warlord of the  20th century ( an intriguing perspective, and overdue). I have yet to read his book, Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953 , but from the buzz and this interview I’d say it’s a fascinating mix of getting some angles insightfully correct while being horrifyingly and disengenuously wrong on the bigger picture.

Progressive Historians (AndrewMc )What The Fourth of July Means

A. is right. I fear what might happen if the Constitution were put up for a vote today. In toto it might pass muster with approval in the low 50 % zone. If we went article by article, amendment by amendment, for voter approval, most of it would be voted down by large majorities of shortsighted partisans and ignorant, drive-by voters. I suspect that even the almost sacred 1st amendment, the touchstone of American liberty, might be a close call.

Does social complexity cause people to adapt and become smarter?  Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Foreign PolicyThe Death of Macho

Twitteramigo Reihan Salam is wrong by about – I will wager – 180 degrees. Results of trends here in the medium term are likely counterintuitive and potentially nasty, if the trends are accurate.

That’s it.

7 Responses to “Recommended Reading”

  1. Women dominating the ranks of college graduates – What’s the effect on America? « Fabius Maximus Says:

    […] false, analysis of the causes of the financial crisis.  But very PC, very trendy.  Hat tip to Zenpundit.  Excerpt: Manly men have been running the world forever. But the Great Recession is changing all […]

  2. Lexington Green Says:

    The way Salam frames the issues is so condescending and wrongheaded it is hard to get a grip on it.  Does he really think masculinity = "macho" = beer and football?  I have to hope there is some satire in this that I am not picking up on a quick read.  Does he really think that the future is one of zero-sum conflict between men and women?   Does he really have disdain for men who work and support their families?  Why?  Does he really think that Iceland selecting a lesbian bank president as its prime minister is a bellwether for the future of the world?  Tiny scandinavian-derived communities don’t predict much.  I think the world in 50 years may well look more like Pashtunistan than Iceland.  A very odd piece. 

  3. A.E. Says:

    I think Harvey Mansfield’s "Manliness" defines it as "confidence under risk." Of course, this quality is so general that it is meaningless.

    Thanks for the link to my SWJ piece!

  4. onparkstreet Says:

    I read, and very much enjoyed, the Adam Elkus piece. It is well-written.

    I wonder about the first sentence, though, " When Iranians took to the streets to protest vote-rigging by their nation’s theocratic-military dictatorship, the West was more transfixed by the medium rather than the message."

    Is this really true? The medium made the message more exciting, you felt you were a part of it, but you can’t really divorce such an exciting message from the medium. Perhaps I am being too pedantic. Still. I have to reread it, it’s very dense and their is a lot there.

  5. onparkstreet Says:

    sigh, I always do the there, their thing…..

  6. A.E. Says:

    Of course one cannot divorce the message from the medium, and there was a certain visceral thrill from the use of Twitter.

    However, western journalists and opinionmakers became obsessed with social media and some (as I noted in my piece) were saying that American bloggers and journalists who had mastered microblogging comprised an "information elite." Hence the thesis of my article.

  7. onparkstreet Says:

    Ah, I see now!

    Okay, I definitely need to re-read the article!

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