The Best Defense

Buy a book, help an Iraqi refugee

Here is one way to observe Memorial Day: Help Iraqi refugees as they settle down in this country. To do that, I've collected a bunch of recent books, signed by the authors, and am selling them off for $50 apiece. Send me a note telling me which books you want -- the e-mail address is over there on the right near my thumbnail bio. I will tell you if they are still available, and I also will tell you how to proceed. (Don't worry -- the checks won't be made out to me, and I will mail the books to you at my own expense.) Or, do all your Christmas shopping in one shot, and pre-emptively buy for all 11 signed books for $400.

Here are the books:

David Bellavia: House to House

Andrew Exum: This Man's Army

Nathaniel Fick: One Bullet Away

David Finkel: The Good Soldiers

Barton Gellman: Angler - The Cheney Vice Presidency

H.R. McMaster: Dereliction of Duty

John Heilemann and Mark Halperin: Game Change

Plus, all four of my books:

Fiasco

The Gamble

A Soldier's Duty

Making the Corps

UPDATE: Wow. I didn't realize what sort of demand there would be. All the books are sold, many times over. I am surprised at the number of people who offered to buy the whole set. I am e-mailing the winner right now. I will also sort out the rest of the purchase requests for individual books. I have lots of copies of my books, at least. Thanks to all who responded!   

ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images

The Best Defense

The NSS: A pretty good assessment of today‘s global operating environment

I was dismissive of the White House's new National Security Strategy document, saying that these documents are always churned out and seem to have no effect, and really are more list of aspirations than blueprints of an implementable strategy. My smart CNAS colleague Abe Denmark responded that I was reading it the wrong way. I think he may be right.

By Abraham Denmark
Best Defense intelligence directorate

[You] are perhaps expecting too much from a National Security Strategy. This is not an ends, ways and means strategy -- it's a high-level statement that describes the government's view of the international security environment and identifies U.S. interests, priorities, and objectives.

Part of this is because the government does not have absolute control over how it spends its money. It cannot give priorities lined up with initiatives lined up with budgets, because the legislative branch has a say. The White House can only describe our operating environment and how it plans on securing U.S. national security within that context.

I would argue that it actually does this quite well. It recognizes (much more than previous NSS's I'm aware of) that we face significant fiscal and economic constraints, and that this will limit our ability to do all things we would like. Identifying our economic challenges IS an important recognition of our limitations...

It also recognizes that the security challenges we will face (proliferation, terrorism, failing and failed states, economic security, food security, climate change, contested global commons, medical security) will require more than a unilateral military response, but will necessarily involve alliances, coalitions, partnerships, and a whole-of-government approach. Identifying these challenges is not a "bold claim," it's a fact.

Indeed, I would argue that this is the first 21st century NSS. It recognizes the complexities we face, that the old ways of doing business are unsuitable, and that U.S. military power alone is insufficient to sustain our national security.

This is a good foundational strategy document.

whitehouse.gov