Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Book Review: 'Partnership for the Americas: Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command' by James Stavridis


Review: Partnership for the Americas – Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command



Amazon Page
Amazon Page

James Stavridis
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Best Thinking to Date — We Can Go Much Further, December 24, 2014
This is the pre-cursor book to The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATOwhich I have reviewed most favorably and strongly recommend. This book — while free online as are all NDU Press books, is a very high quality production with some complex graphics and color photographs. It is fairly priced and absolutely recommended in print if you favor books you can hold in your hands.
There have been other books by military commanders but to the best of my knowledge only General Tony Zinni, USMC (then commanding the US Central Command with two wars and 12 task forces) and General Wesley Clark, USA (then commanding NATO during the Kosovo mess) have risen to what this book strives to be, a gold standard for whole of government multinational engagement.
One learns in reading this book that the author (who is fluent in Spanish — the other languages of the area are Portuguese, Dutch, and English, one country each) ably articulates a diplomatic passion for doing vastly more within the Americas, long a neglected back-water where (my view now) predatory capitalism has been the order of the day. Two books that capture that overview are:
Innovation and inter-agency planning are core concepts in this book — and of course lacking still today across the US Government. Although we are now normalizing relations with Cuba, a long-overdue correction to an ideologically-driven and intellectually-flawed policy, the reality (in my view) is that the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) are dead men walking — they will be displaced by UNASUR (the 12 South American countries with a new HQS in Quito) and eventually, perhaps, by CELAC (everyone except the US and Canada, often called US Lite). In brief, the excellent ideas in this book may be too late but I hope not — 2016-2020 are a long-scheduled break-out period in US history, I can only hope that this author will be part of whatever national and regional leadership emerges as we transition out of the “anything goes” era so ably represented by, for example:
The chapter on innovation is central and would be an excellent stand-alone reading for any school at any level. One learns that the Innovation Directorate had four divisions: Joint Experimentation, Strategic Assessment, Knowledge Management, and Decision Support. This is an utterly brilliant chapter all the more valuable because the author clearly respects human innovation — it is “not just technology” — and the author sees the disconnect between strategy (we have none) and money (we spend too much). Not to be found in this book are critical comments about anyone else — for example, the Atlantic Transformation Command (ACT).
Among the great ideas in this book are that of a Humanitarian Task Force in which Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) personnel are fully integrated. This idea was implemented while the author was in charge of the US Southern Command (USOUTHCOM).
Now imagine if US were willing to help create a multinational intelligence and operations center (MIOC) and a regional information-sharing network unique to the Southern Hemisphere and then BACK OFF — be an observer and enabler rather than the 900 lbs gorilla. Imagine a MIOC built around CrisisMappers and able to deliver peace jumpers and a regional air-sea traffic management plan as I envisioned for Haiti on day one. Imagine a MIOC that can do holistic analytics, true cost economics, and render support across all domains to open source everything engineering.
Imagine if the USG were willing to support the highest priority of UNASUR and Ecuador in particular, free clean energy (which brings with it free clean desalinated water) along with a debt jubilee and free cellular devices for every citizen (imagine Carlos Slim and James Stavridis on the same page — this is real transformative power).
This book is the SOP for the theater-architecture of the past brought to its greatest point of innovation and effectiveness. It does not go far enough. Until the USA is prepared to respect the sovereignty of the indigenous nations it presumes to “protect” and until the USA is able to understand what I just briefed in Ecuador (at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog click on page Espanol — see also my easily found Hourglass Strategy), the USA will continue to be the predator playing on the edges — the “tonto util” (useful idiot) whose wallet will be picked by corrupt elites at the same time that the larger public considers the USA just another form of organized crime.
From where I sit, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Cuba, and Ecuador are several steps ahead of the USA — and USSOUTHCOM — in creating regional coherence and a platform for multinational approaches to peace and prosperity in the region independent of whatever the USA may think or want. That is a good thing. For me, this is a hopeful book — a good beginning to a good conversation. Unclear to me is whether the US Government is capable of maturing fast enough to avoid being shut out of the South as China and Iran and Russia move in at speed.
Semper Fidelis,
Robert David Steele Vivas
Co-Founder, Marine Corps Intelligence Activity
INTELLIGENCE FOR EARTH: Clarity, Diversity, Integrity, & Sustainability


Editor's note: This review was written by Robert David Steele and has been reposted with permission. The original page can be found here. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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