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Author Topic: Books Read 2013 Edition  (Read 2564 times)
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #40 on: August 03, 2013, 04:27:30 AM »

NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe by Daniele Ganser

What do you do when you've just won a war where you had to set up insurgent organisations after the Nazis rolled into town and you fear another coming war?  You set up stay-behind organizations in those countries beforehand, arm them with weapons caches, training, and secure radios. 

Who do you recruit when some of the strongest allies you had in the last war were Communists and socialists, but now those people are sympathetic to your former ally who's now your biggest enemy?  Why, you recruit former Fascists and right wing organizations to be the stalwart bulwark in your new world.

What do you do when the Communists aren't quite threatening enough in these countries to alienate the public to their evil?  Why, you activate your patriotic right-wing organizations to perpetrate terror attacks and have the state blame and frame the Communists in the country.  If that doesn't work enough in your favor, just help the military state a coup.

What do you do when it's finally brought to light and the parliaments cry foul and demand investigation of these secret armies that were beyond the knowledge and control of democratic leadership?  Why, you claim secrecy at a multinational level, as you were answering to NATO, the CIA, and MI6, who were providing the money, assets and training, and proceed to claim supreme secrecy, especially since most of the parties in power at one time or another, including some of those that may have been targeted, were aware when they had ministerial power and condoned and assisted them in their goals.

Truly, the world of Cold War geopolitics was a wilder place than even the Bond movies dare ever dreamed.
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #41 on: September 06, 2013, 12:52:47 AM »

Just finished A History Of Middle Europe: From the Earliest Times to the Age of the World Wars by Leslie C. Tihany

It's an interesting read about that part of Europe that doesn't get much play in the West, and honestly does a pretty good job of explaining why.  From Poland down to the Balkans, whatever self determining governments arose in these areas were short-lived and at the mercy of the "coastal" countries, be it the Turks, the Holy Roman Empire, the Russians, etc. These lands were pawns in the games of the big boys for the entirety of civilization. 

One interesting thing that came into play in the aftermath of WWI that I wasn't aware of was the Cordon sanitaire, basically a French version of the Cold War buffer states that were to serve as an ideological buffer to the expansion of Communism in the interwar period. 
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #42 on: October 07, 2013, 11:23:11 PM »

The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century

Following on The Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad, which referenced it and why I picked it up, I don't feel that the reading order did me many favors.  I understand the topic fairly well at this point (networking good, bureaucracy bad, m'kay?), it was an old road, and not exactly targeted at a civilian reader as much as a cry for the generals-that-be to maybe try some new stuff.  Also, the book is almost a decade old at this point (and now a Zenith Military Classic).

He makes the point that we're fighting the new(ish) war that's been used to such great effect since Vietnam and before, which is a valid point.  And he makes the point that the military is pretty much enamored with the new shiny rather than old fashion HUMINT, which is needed for insurgency type wars.  Again, a valid point.  But while demonstrating the huge overlap between time frames between third and fourth generation warfare, he pretty much falls into the trap of wanting us to give up on the new shiny toys because the current war can't use them to as good an effect as they would be against a nation-state enemy.

The old adage is that everyone spends time preparing for the last war, and I feel that's as valid in his treatise as many others.  He wants us to tear the military down and rebuild it to fight the Afghan War and Iraq wars, which we need to be able to do, but, like the ground-pounding jarhead he is, takes potshots at the Air Force over the F-22 program.

The Russians are still building and selling military aircraft to other nations, just as we are.  He's convinced that somehow, if we revamp the military to focus on the insurgency-fighting hearts-and-minds conflict needed, that somehow, we'll still be able to maintain the ability to bring a nation-state to heel while we pull finite resources from it. 
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lildrgn
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« Reply #43 on: November 18, 2013, 04:49:19 AM »

John Hart is fantastic. I read all his books last year. Enjoy!
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Caine
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« Reply #44 on: November 18, 2013, 08:49:29 PM »

Finished
Dark Tower 1-3.  went in without knowing much about it other than it's one of the few SK books/series I haven't read.  wow, what a strange world he's created. 

I really hope it doesn't fall prey to the SK ending implosion. 
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Isgrimnur
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« Reply #45 on: December 01, 2013, 10:26:45 PM »

Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA by William Colby

This was an excellent review of Colby's life in the secret services from his days as a WWII OSS member through his time as DCI of the CIA.  In reading it, I got a very good feel of his efforts to impact the war in Vietnam and shape the world of intelligence to make it a responsible member of a Constitutional democracy, being forthwith in revealing to Congressional oversight all that had gone on before during the decades of complete secrecy and executive privilege.   

Honestly, I found myself kind of bummed about the current state of things as contrasted to what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go with the intelligence world, and to contrast that with recent developments.  His agitation for public understanding of the intelligence world and a proper role of protecting the country while honoring the idea of who we are.
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Canuck
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« Reply #46 on: December 01, 2013, 11:18:14 PM »

I just finished reading a Tale of Two Cities. Man, the first half is a slog but the payoff in the second half is huge.
Currently reading a biography of Marie Antoinette. I guess I'm on a bit of a French Revolution binge.
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Eco-Logic
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« Reply #47 on: December 16, 2013, 09:07:39 PM »

Quote from: Isgrimnur on December 01, 2013, 10:26:45 PM

Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA by William Colby

This was an excellent review of Colby's life in the secret services from his days as a WWII OSS member through his time as DCI of the CIA.  In reading it, I got a very good feel of his efforts to impact the war in Vietnam and shape the world of intelligence to make it a responsible member of a Constitutional democracy, being forthwith in revealing to Congressional oversight all that had gone on before during the decades of complete secrecy and executive privilege.  

Honestly, I found myself kind of bummed about the current state of things as contrasted to what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go with the intelligence world, and to contrast that with recent developments.  His agitation for public understanding of the intelligence world and a proper role of protecting the country while honoring the idea of who we are.

Thanks for the input.  I'm adding it to my list.  Good to know someone out there thought there had to be a better way.
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