Book Review: At the Edge of the World: The Heroic Century of the French Foreign Legion by Jean-Vincent Blanchard

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author and/or publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] I would hazard to guess that when most people think of the French Foreign Legion they think of hard faced mercenaries doing France’s dirty work, the idealized Beau Geste bringing civilization to the North African Desert or legionnaires fighting to the last man at Camerone.  At the Edge of the World  by Jean-Vincent Blanchard tells the real story of the French Foreign Legion and it needs no embellishment. The stats: the book is 222 pages of text separated into two … More after the Jump…

Book Review: A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America by Bruce Cannon Gibney

A Generation of Sociopaths is an interesting book with an interesting thesis, to say the least.  The main thesis of the book is that the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1944 and 1964) has used its power at the voting booth to essentially bankrupt the nation and impoverish those of us in succeeding generations to ensure that the Boomers themselves enjoy the kind of life they want to have. First the details.  The book is divided into 17 topical chapters that are internally organized somewhat chronologically.  There is an afterword, appendices, a large notes section, and an index. The first chapter presents the central thesis of the book, that … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg

Liberal Fascism is to me, a fascinating look inside the historical and philosophical roots of the modern liberal/progressive movement. It is also a scathing indictment of the totalitarian tendencies of the modern liberal/progressive movement but that is essentially the whole point of the book. The numbers first. The book contains 406 pages of text in an introduction, 10 chapters, and an afterword. There are also 50+ pages of endnotes and an index. The book was published in 2007 in the waning days of the Bush presidency but the intervening 10 years have not done anything to change the conclusions if anything, the author’s conclusions seem prescient. The book itself should … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West by Martin van Creveld

After reading this latest work from Dr. van Creveld, it is no wonder that Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West had to be self-published as I cannot imagine a mainstream publisher would touch a manuscript that like this that so eloquently gores just about all of the sacred cows of the modern liberal movements but especially that of feminism and the infantilism of Western society. The book itself consists of five chapters with subparts, a conclusion, 29 pages of notes, and an index.  The chapters are arranged topically with the conclusion tieing the different strands together into a coherent whole. As usual, Dr. van Creveld is insightful and devastating when … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 7

A reluctance to follow traditional, pre-world wars law of war. This point harks back to point #1 and is both a result of and reaction to the high cost of the two 20th century world wars.  In the contemporary world the traditional laws of war, that is the agreed upon rules that predate Geneva are considered too harsh.  It has apparently never occurred to an academic that the laws of war are harsh for a reason, as though war is supposed to be some collegial contest like a sporting event.  They substituted ideals for a realistic appraisal of effectiveness. Let’s use an example. Traditionally, when a city or other fortified … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 6

A post-World Wars Western (read European or nation-states settled by Europeans) reluctance to accept casualties in the prosecution of a war (note: this does not apply to non-Western countries which often suffer very high casualties) It is obvious to any student of history that post-World War II Western military success is defined in terms of Western casualties suffered and not military/strategic objectives achieved. Think about it this way.  We can all probably agree that the perception is that the people in the West will not tolerate high casualties in military operations.  That is conventional wisdom at least since the 1970’s.  I am not convinced it is true.  I think if … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Empire & Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card

Imagine that the seemingly intractable political divide between left and right in the US were to break out into civil war.  That is the premise behind the first of these two books while the second examines what happens after.  The ironic thing is that Empire was written in 2006 while Hidden Empire came out in 2007 and the country has had 10 more years for the political atmosphere to get even more poisonous as evidenced by the lack of anything but personal attacks in this year’s presidential campaign. I have been a fan of Card’s work since I read Ender’s Game as a Freshman in High School 30 years ago.  … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 5

A reluctance to prosecute war to the extent necessary to achieve victory even when a realistic definition of victory was elucidated. This one should be a no-brainer as recent American experience has shown that stupidity very much exists at the top of American strategic thinking at least, which is compounded by clueless media talking heads who I am more and more convinced actively wish to see Western society fail.  Clausewitz says that war naturally tends to extremes but in reality never gets there. This point goes back to deciding what determines victory.  Clausewitz is undoubtedly correct in his assertion that ultimately victory is in fact using force to compel the … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 4

Wars are no longer fought to achieve victory but to achieve often nebulous goals short of the actual defeat of the enemy and often were unrelated or even contrary to national strategic interests. This one is a personal bug-bear of mine.  It has been common in the post-World War II world for Western nations in particular to set nebulous and generally unattainable war goals.  The submission of an enemy state is often not an objective and when it is even when achieved international pressure limits making a total victory truly stick.  This is not helped by unrealistic expectations on the part of the public that military victory can be achieved … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The New Case for Gold by James Rickards

I have previously reviewed James Rickards other books The Death of Money and Currency Wars and found them both well written and compelling reads. His newest book, The New Case for Gold is no different. This is not a huge book but it covers its topic very well. The book is not hugeat 172 pages of text with an acknowledgements section and index. It is organized into 6 topical chapters and a conclusion. The first five chapters essentially explain at length why gold is worth owning even though central bankers say it is not. The essential argument, and one that I happen to agree with is that gold is money. … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath is not what I would call a typical prepper book, if there is such a thing, instead it is a serious look at a very plausible scenario and the ways in which it is and is not being addressed by both government and the private sector. The scenario is a cyberattack on the computers that control the US electric grid. Given the nature of cybercrime this is an extremely plausible scenario. The book itself is not huge at 249 pages of text and includes notes and an index but no bibliography. Ted Koppel is a respected journalist who has not … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 3

Example: The Israeli bombing of a hospital in Gaza and use of white phosphorous munitions during Operation Cast Lead in 2008 During the 2008-2009 Israeli-Gazan war there were back and forth allegations that Israel had deliberately bombed hospitals in Gaza in violation of the Geneva Convention.  Israel responded by claiming that Hamas was using these hospitals as shields.  The general consensus since then has seemed to be that elements of Hamas and their leadership did indeed use hospitals as shelter but that has not been widely reported in the West.  Another was the claim that Israeli use of White Phosphorous artillery shells is a war crime because white phosphorous is … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 2

Modern interpretations of the law of war are flawed from a war winning perspective This point cannot be hammered home enough as it is the root of the problem with Western war making in my opinion.  The establishment of the UN post-World War II and the ratification of a new set of Geneva conventions on the conduct of war in 1949 have radically changed the Western approach to war and following those rules have had a major impact on the West’s inability to decisively win the wars they have fought.  In fact, it could be argued, and I do that post-war notions of war making have led to unsatisfactory peace’s … More after the Jump…

Why Does the West Seem Incapable of Winning Wars Anymore? – Part 1

I got to thinking about the question at the title of this post a few months ago.  Being me I started doing some research and then put my thoughts down in what ended up being a fairly long paper for some casual writing.  Rather than dump it all at once I am going to serialize it into parts and probably publish one part every 2 weeks to a month until it is done.  I am going to put it here and also on my survival site because I think the issues it brings up are relevant in that arena as well.  What I hope to do is provoke some discussion … More after the Jump…