Editor’s Shelf


From Parameters,  Spring 2007, pp. 115-16.


There are times when omission and benign neglect are not really sins, in fact, there are actually times when they may prove beneficial. Such is the case with a number of the books that have been piling up on my desk. The delay in bringing some of these works to our readers’ attention has created an opportunity for a contrast of views. We establish the context for this feature with a relatively new entry to the market, The “New” Terrorism: Myths and Reality by Thomas R. Mockaitis. The author reminds the reader that some five years following the events of 9/11 we are still trying to frame the nature of the terrorist threat. Mockaitis provides a valuable examination of the globalization of terrorism and warns that there will not be a purely military solution to this insidious threat. That portion of Mockaitis’s work dealing with modern terrorist organizations provides for a new understanding of how to counter these groups and the nations supporting them. This work is a must for the student of terrorism or the strategist challenged with its defeat.

An insightful book, Profiles in Terror: The Guide to Middle East Terrorist Organizations by Aaron Mannes (Foreword by R. James Woolsey) provides the discerning reader with an opportunity for reflection and comparison. This work was originally published in 2004 by Rowman & Littlefield and profiles 20 Middle East terror organizations along with the groups and rogue nations who support them. The author analyzes the intentions, histories, and methodologies of these organizations to provide a solid foundation with which to contrast today’s extremist and insurgent. This is an excellent reference for any professional in the strategic defense arena.

A broader global perspective of the war on terrorism and how Western nations and their allies have waged the battle against insurgent groups and extremists is the edited work by two Swiss researchers, How States Fight Terrorism: Policy Dynamics in the West. Doron Zimmermann and Andreas Wenger have compiled a marvelous collection of articles surveying the dynamics associated with counterterrorism. Of greatest value to the reader is the extensive index and extended bibliography for the various contributors. This work is an invaluable reference for those who must plan and execute counterterrorism strategies.

Countering Terrorism and WMD: Creating a Global Counter-Terrorism Network is an edited work by Peter Katona, Michael D. Intriligator, and John P. Sullivan calling for a global network approach to counterterrorism. The collection of essays details the views of various experts, ranging from those involved in public policy and law enforcement to intelligence and the media. The authors make a convincing argument that despite the events accompanying the President’s announced war against terrorism and the work of the 9/11 Commission there is still a critical

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need to consolidate and expand efforts through the creation of informal and formal global counterterrorism organizations. This book will be an invaluable addition to the library of any senior defense or policy analyst.

Moving away from the genre associated with terrorism and insurgent organizations is a marvelous work by two members of National Defense University’s Center for Technology and National Security Policy, Hans Binnendijk and Richard L. Kugler. Their Seeing the Elephant: The U.S. Role in Global Security provides readers with an intellectual history of US national security planning and execution since the demise of the Soviet Union. The title alone is enough to garner considerable interest; a take-off on the old Buddhist fable of the blind men each feeling a part of the elephant and then providing their assessment of what they have encountered. The authors provide their equally challenging analysis of today’s events impacting global security affairs and what they might entail for the future. No two authors are better qualified to assess America’s role in the evolving international security realm than Hans Binnendijk and Dick Kugler. A must read for any student of national security affairs.

Our friends at RAND Corporation continue their production of quality and insightful works related to the future of defense planning with Striking First: Preemptive and Preventative Attack in U.S. National Security Policy by Karl P. Mueller, et al. The authors examine the controversial doctrine outlined in the 2002 National Security Strategy that addressed circumstances where America might strike first against its enemies. Of particular interest is the authors’ treatment of preemptive attacks against possible threats from terrorists or rogue states. Not only do the authors examine the costs, benefits, and risks associated with first strikes, they also analyze the legal and moral considerations that must be taken into account. They conclude with a warning to policymakers and military planners that this strategy may have unintended results, the greatest of which is encouraging an enemy to initiate his own preemptive strike.

We close this feature with the call to “Ruck it Up!” – The Post-Cold War Transformation of V Corps, 1990-2001 by Charles E. Kirkpatrick and published by the US Army Center of Military History. From the title one immediately knows this is a book for the historian and soldier, but it is so much more. Those who were stationed in Europe during this decade of restructuring, peacekeeping, and war fighting know that these years saw multiple deployments in a variety of unforeseen roles that tested V Corps’ abilities to the maximum. The author’s wonderfully smooth thematic approach to his examination of the period provides readers with an insider’s understanding of a decade of unprecedented change. This was the period when the Army in Europe was to undergo a restructuring that would see it diminish by two-thirds in five years. It was a period of real-world deployments to Croatia, Somalia, Macedonia, and numerous other “hot spots.” The book is loaded with maps, charts, and organizational tables, something every historian and soldier will appreciate. But what really makes this work a seminal piece is its author. For those of us who were fortunate enough to work with Charles during this period we know of his attention to detail and penchant for the insider’s view. He was a dedicated researcher and interviewer who compiled a body of knowledge unequalled in short-term historical analysis. To all our great sorrow Charles Kirkpatrick passed away in October 2005. — RHT


For details on publishers and prices of books mentioned, see “Off the Press” in this issue or call Parameters at 717-245-4943 (e-mail: usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil).


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Reviewed 27 February 2007. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil