By Zygmunt F. Dembek and Dean Cheng
Best Defense department of
This list is an attempt to compile the readings that provide
insight into the philosophies and tactics of our enemies, past, present, and
perhaps future. It is surprising that
few of these books are required reading for those who aspire to be our nation's
military and political leaders.
In no uncertain order:
War with the CIA by Norodom
Sihanouk and Wilfred Burchett:
Cambodian crown Prince Sihanouk describes his years of
struggle in fighting U.S. government covert and not-so-covert operations, with
assistance from neighboring countries, including China.
Chi Minh: A Life by William Duiker:
The definitive biography of the son of a civil servant, and
founder of the Vietnamese Communist party, who became president of North
Vietnam. His 30 years in exile, and 50
year struggle to liberate Vietnam, are described. [Not sure I'd include
biographies (as opposed to autobiographies), for this list. Which isn't to say
that this isn't worth reading!]
Warfare by Ernesto "Che" Guevara:
This 1960 treatise provides tremendous insight into a Latin
American revolutionary's methods for overthrowing dictatorships (and democracies)
by a small determined groups of guerilla fighters.
We Won the War by General Vo Nguyen Giap:
North Vietnam's top military strategist describes how
victory from occupying forces was won, from the founding of the Army in 1944 to
the departure of the U.S. in 1975.
Guerilla Warfare by Mao Tse Tung:
Mao's textbook on guerilla warfare is the result of his
fighting the Japanese in China, and is a timeless reference to the organization
and conduct of a successful guerilla campaign.
Triple Agent: The Al Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA by Joby Warrick:
A well-researched description of
how the Jordanian double-agent Humam Khalil al-Balawi, while promising to help
the CIA assassinate Osama bin Laden's top deputy, became a suicide bomber,
killing seven CIA operatives, the agency's worst loss of life in decades.
Terrorism: The Return of the Abu Sayyaf by Zachary Abuza:
A technical treatise that provides great insight into the
origins, organization, and operations of a primary terrorist group opposing the
Philippine government. This writing can
be obtained as a free
download from the Army's Strategic Studies Institute.
Without Joy by Bernard Fall:
The 1961 classic about the hubris and blunders of French
forces in Vietnam, leading to the fall of Dien Bien Phu in 1954. An epic book in many dimensions, the most
important of which may be its omission from the readings of American military
leaders during the 1960's and 1970's, facilitating a repeat of history.
to Kindness: One Man's Epic Journey for Love and Peace by Joseph David
Wisdom acquired by first-hand experience and shared by an
Afghan-American on how to actually win "hearts and minds" in Afghanistan. Personally recommended by those who know
Osman and of his work.
of the Faithful: The Life and Time of Emir Abd el-Kader by John W.
A thoroughly researched book on the life and tactics of a
Muslim military leader who fought the French occupying forces in Algeria during
the 19th century, and won their respect.
Science of Military Strategy, edited by Peng Guangqian and Ya Youzhi of
the Chinese Academy of Military Science:
Translation (in 2005) of a Chinese
military textbook published in 2001. It provides a distinctly Chinese view of
concepts such as deterrence and military strategy.
Quranic Concept of War by S.K. Malik:
One Muslim perspective on war in
the context of Quranic teachings.
Col. Zygmunt F. Dembek,
Ph.D. (US Army Reserve, Ret.) is a senior scientist at the Center for Disaster and Humanitarian Assistance Medicine
(CDHAM) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). Dean
Cheng is the research fellow for Chinese Political and Security Affairs at
the Heritage Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the
authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of
Defense or the U.S. Government, nor of the Heritage Foundation, nor even,
perhaps, those of Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd.
Any reproduction of this broadcast without the express written consent of the
Major League Best Defense is forbidden.