Editor’s Shelf


From Parameters,  Summer 2008, pp. 113-15.


Several years ago while secluded in one of the bathroom stalls within the inner sanctum of the Army War College I overheard a member of our Editorial Board counseling a student regarding a rejection notice received from our office. The words of wisdom went something like this, “Those who cannot write—edit.” There is probably a greater degree of truth in that statement than most editors are willing to admit. In the spirit of “complete disclosure,” however, there are a limited few that have mastered both worlds. Of course, those successful few must rely on wit and wisdom periodically interspersed with the tools of the trade. One such tool just entering the marketplace is Professor Bruce Fleming’s Bill the Goat’s Adult Refresher Guide to Writing. Not a Strunk & White or even The Chicago Manual of Style, the author draws on years of teaching English to midshipmen at Annapolis to produce this premiere “how to” guide. Fleming focuses on the reasons why the rules exist, as opposed to reviewing the down and dirty specifics of language. This refreshing approach enables the reader to immediately (and hopefully for the long-term) understand why we write the way we do. Even if you are a grammar expert (or editor) give Bill a try. You will be better for the experience.

My mind kept harkening back to Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill” while reading Dr. Kim R. Holmes’s latest work, Liberty’s Best Hope: American Leadership for the 21st Century. The author, Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, also served in the Bush Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs. Holmes has penned a marvelous work, drawing on his expertise in foreign policy to provide insight regarding America’s role in today’s global environment. The author believes America must reassert herself if we are to regain our rightful stature as a strong and peace-loving nation. Dr. Holmes not only examines the reasons for the current anti-American sentiment running rampant around the globe, he also offers new and innovative solutions to overcoming these misguided feelings and perceptions. The author outlines courses of action that policymakers might exercise to resolve feelings of anti-Americanism, our dismal relationship with Europe, the War on Terrorism, issues associated with free trade, the fielding of a missile defense, and the ever-increasing lack of consensus at home and abroad. Holmes takes into account the ideological and actual domestic and international challenges when developing his blueprint for the future. This book is a must read for every American with a genuine interest in their nation’s future.

Two of America’s premier defense and security policy scholars, Thomas Donnelly and Frederick W. Kagan, have proven it does not take a weighty tome to an-

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alyze America’s most pressing defense issue, the size and capability of our land forces. Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power succinctly examines in 155 pages the security interests impacting the future of land warfare. The authors pronounce, based on their analysis, that America needs an active duty, land force of one million personnel. Whether the reader agrees with the specifics of the author’s recommendations or not, they will be hard-pressed to argue with the logic and scholarship that led to such a conclusion. Donnelly and Kagan argue that policymakers need to realize that it is the paucity of American land forces that limits our current military strategy and its execution. Their analysis leaves little doubt that if we are to be truly capable of meeting the challenges that exist across the entire spectrum of conflict we must generate a larger and more capable land force. Additionally, they call for a revitalization of the logistics, training, and support services that will support this new land force capability. The authors point to the fact that such an increase in capability, while costly, may be achieved with little more than a one percent increase in the gross domestic product over the next decade. Donnelly and Kagan masterfully make their case that the rebuilding of America’s land force capability is long overdue. The authors conclude with a call for a bipartisan commitment to the creation and maintenance of a new and revitalized land force capable of defending America’s status as the world’s sole military superpower.

Our friends at Praeger Security International continue to publish their multivolume series on topics related to security and intelligence. The latest in the series is the two-volume PSI Handbook of Global Security and Intelligence: National Approaches, edited by Stuart Farson, Peter Gill, Mark Phythian, and Shlomo Shpiro. Volume One: The Americas and Asia provides readers with an unprecedented and comprehensive look at national approaches to security and intelligence in several distinct and multicultural arenas. Each of the authors analyzes such topics as the strategic environment, the type of regimes found in a particular region, the impact of 9/11 on national relationships, international cooperation, and what the editors term “national cultures of intelligence.” Volume Two: Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa follows a similar methodology with even greater emphasis on national approaches to security organizations and intelligence gathering. Of special interest to students of the security and intelligence interface is the chapter in each of the volumes related to developments in the internationalization of intelligence. This series is a “must have” for the desks and reference shelves of every professional associated with the intelligence community.

Following on the theme of intelligence analysis is Analyzing Intelligence: Origins, Obstacles, and Innovations edited by Roger Z. George and James B. Bruce. Several months ago in this feature I lamented how a number of authors have written criticizing America’s intelligence agencies, their capabilities, and products. Sagacious criticism is a necessity if we, as a nation, are to improve our intelligence organizations and their procedures. Unfortunately, the majority of writers have not bothered to move beyond hyperbole and polemics. That is certainly not the case with this practical and wide-ranging study of intelligence analysis. The editors have done a superb job of seamlessly editing the work of a number of the world’s recognized experts from the fields of intelligence gathering and

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analysis. Of special interest to readers should be those chapters related to the relationship between analysts and national-level security and policymakers. This book will be an invaluable resource for future analysts and those professionals currently involved in overcoming the enduring challenges associated with the role of intelligence in a free society.

Over the past few years there seems to have been a dearth of books related to Henry Kissinger and his associates during the Nixon years. That certainly was not true in the 1980s and ’90s. This past year, however, a number of books were published about those who participated in Watergate and the following cover-up. There were even a few about the great man himself, President Richard M. Nixon. But Kissinger seemed to elude this deluge of revisionist writings. University of Wisconsin historian Jeremi Suri has stepped forward to fill that void. Suri has chronicled the political history of one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century in Henry Kissinger and the American Century. Suri omits much of Kissinger’s early life, but is faithful in reminding the reader throughout that a great part of his realist views were influenced by those childhood years in Weimar and Nazi Germany. The author provides readers with the philosophical rationale for many of Kissinger’s actions while serving as national security adviser and secretary of state during the Cold War years of the Nixon presidency. Suri concludes that it was Kissinger’s belief that the United States was the only nation capable of assuring global security against the threat of tyranny that led to many of his realpolitik decisions. This book provides readers with a picture of a complex individual who played a critical role in the survival of the free world during an extremely volatile era.

It is always somewhat rejuvenating to see one of the journal’s former authors or reviewers in print; that certainly is the case with Sean M. Maloney’s latest book Enduring the Freedom: A Rogue Historian in Afghanistan. The subtitle tells readers what to expect, but it hardly prepares them for the level of detail and insight Maloney provides. The book is a first-hand account of actions by NATO and American units in Afghanistan. The highlight of the work, from this reviewer’s perspective, is the author’s experiences resultant of his decision to “hump” the mountain backcountry of Afghanistan during Operation Valiant Strike. Although there are those who might question the wisdom of such a decision it certainly makes for exciting reading. Through a number of personal accounts the author provides previously unrevealed insight as to how Operation Enduring Freedom and the organization of the International Security Assistance Force came about.

Remember the admission that began this feature. Well, even this venerable editor makes an oversight or omission periodically; rarely a mistake. In the case of Major Brit Erslev’s review of David Downing’s A South Divided: Portraits of Dissent in the Confederacy that appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of Parameters, I must admit to that rare mistake. In editing the first sentence of the last paragraph I inverted the author’s last two words in the clause “or his conclusions contentious.” The result made it appear that the reviewer found the author’s conclusion controversial, which was never his intent. I apologize to the author and reviewer for any confusion this might have caused. — 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 16 July 2008. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil