Saturday, July 28, 2007

Library Run

I finally got around to hitting the library. They didn't have the Coll book, but I did pick up some interesting miscellany:

Social Life of Information- This has been on my reading list since 2002. I suspect it got there on my Dad's recommendation.

The Politics of Heroin- This was referenced in Blaufarb's work on counterinsurgency. I picked it up for context when I read about how we dealt with Heroin in Afghanistan during the 80's.

Political Scandal- This was a reference in John Dean's book on GWB. Initially I flagged it to better understand why Clinton was such a target, now I want to understand how Bush so successfully escaped becoming one.

In the Shadow of the Prophet- A book from 1998 by Milton Viorst. A 5/2007 podcast discussion with him is available on CFR.

Fighting to a Finish- This is in followup to Ikle's Every War Must End.

Losing Iraq- This I picked up on a whim.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Book Analysis and Notes

I finished reading Afghanistan The Bear Trap. Excellent book, notes are here. I'm going to have to read Stephen Coll now to get the rest of the story.

How many lessons can be applied to Iraq?

1) The American supply operation was all about killing soviets. When they left, the arms flow stopped. Point: Will countries stop supplying Iraqi rebels if the U.S. withdraws?

2) 'Puppet' regimes are capable of living on their own, Najibullah stayed in power for four years after the Soviets withdrew troops. The Soviets continued, crucially, to provide arms. Point: Perhaps local forces are capable of acting more effectively in their own interest then foreign troops?

3) The Soviet response to the Mujahideen was incredibly lethargic. No strategy at all beyond Afghan borders, except to prevent attacks on the USSR proper. Point: Burying your head in the sand does not help the situation, it just makes it last longer.

4) The Soviets gave up when the Mujahideen got effective AA weapons. It took 7 years of conflict before they got them. Point: How many years will we be fighting in Iraq before someone gives the rebels good AA weapons?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

POW: Bacevich

The Carnegie Council has an excellent lecture from Andrew Bacevich in 2005 up here. He is fast becoming one of my favorite 'public intellectuals', to borrow a phrase from Richard Posner.