The Best Defense

The Best Defense

Why Tom is so damn wrong about the relevancy of political science

By Stephen Saideman

Best Defense guest respondent

Last night, my chain got pulled by Tom Ricks, who has written some fine books on the U.S. military including the well-named Fiasco about the Iraq war. He was frustrated with the content of International Security and then went on a tear about how irrelevant and "made up" political science is. Given my respect for his work and the importance of his blog within the policy community, I found this view profoundly frustrating. I promised to come up with a list of relevant poli-sci stuff, and here I shall do so. 

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The Best Defense

Things I learned from reading Bowditch's classic text on 'Navigation' this summer

Over the summer I read the classic textbook on navigation, first written in 1802 by Nathaniel Bowditch of Salem, Mass., and updated ever since.

I didn't know that most of our named stars were named by ancient Arab astronomers. Acamar, Alkaid, Altair, Elnath, Enif, Kochab, Markab, Vega and so on. But one, Nunki, is Babylonian in origin. Also, according to Bowditch, "Betelgeuse" comes from the Arabic for "armpit," for Orion's arm. 

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The Best Defense

Given all that is going on, why is 'International Security' so damn boring?

The Best Defense mailboat last week dropped off the new issue of Harvard's International Security magazine. I tore off the wrapper eagerly and gazed at the contents. And then I nodded off.

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The Best Defense

Quote of the day: Where are the black officers in Army combat commands?

"The lack of black officers who lead infantry, armor and field artillery battalions and brigades -- there are no black colonels at the brigade level this year -- threatens the Army's effectiveness, disconnects it from American society and deprives black officers of the principal route to top Army posts" -- Tom Vanden Brook in USA Today

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