Lessons in Global Security – Part 1

April 23, 2015

US Army War College Press logo

In this two-part blog post, Government Book Talk takes an in-depth look at several new publications from the U.S. Army War College. (Permission granted for use of United States Army War College Press logo)

The U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) recently has published a few very timely monographs with a primary focus on U.S. national security, public policy and international relations topics.

The Strategic Studies Institute conducts strategic research and analysis to support the U.S. Army War College curricula, provides direct analysis for Army and Department of Defense leadership, and serves as a bridge to the wider strategic community.

SSI is composed of civilian research professors, uniformed military officers, and a professional support staff. All have extensive credentials and experience. SSI is divided into three components: the Strategic Research and Analysis Department focuses on global, trans-regional, and functional issues, particularly those dealing with Army transformation; the Regional Strategy Department focuses on regional strategic issues; and the Academic Engagement Program creates and sustains partnerships with the global strategic community.

In addition to its organic resources, SSI has a web of partnerships with strategic analysts around the world, including the foremost thinkers in the field of security and military strategy. In most years, about half of SSI’s publications are written by these external partners.

Some of my personal favorites from SSI’s growing collection include the following titles:

Reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). 9781584874447The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and IAEA have had frequent mention in the mainstream news media recently due to ongoing nuclear weapon development discussions with Iran, as well as increased tensions with the Soviet Union.

This book reviews the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) agreements that the United States has with many countries from an historical perspective. Although a bit technical in nature, this work does include an array of essays by different contributors that analyze different articles of the Nuclear Nonproliferation treaty and provide their insights to the reader.

treaty image

(Treaty image courtesy of http://www.state.gov/s/l/treaty/)

One area that was very beneficial to me is that this work defines the responsibilities of the International Atomic Emergency Agency (IAEA) and their practices for safeguarding nuclear programs, including coverage of nuclear program inspections. This book also contains insights about nuclear weapons treaties with other countries that are already in place with the USA and provides some background to those treaties. Additionally, this text explores how treaty agreements work, mentioning “Articles” within the treaty that often pertain to terms of conditions that each country should abide.

Many political scientists, historians, and diplomats may be familiar with this process, but many American citizens who are not routinely involved in negotiations with these diplomatic matters might benefit. Also high school students may be interested in this material to stay on top of current events for their global studies classes. University and Graduate students might be interested in this material as a supplemental text for courses, such as international relations coursework required for some political science degree programs.

Moving Beyond Pretense: Nuclear Power and Nonproliferation008-000-01098-6. This monograph focuses on the making of nuclear fuel– a process that is expensive and complex. The first section of this book features “Nuclear Proliferation Matters,” which covers the argument that nuclear weapons proliferation is more likely to occur with the spread of civilian nuclear technology and that such nuclear proliferation constitutes a threat to international security—certainly if there is nuclear weapons use, but even if there is not.

The volume’s second section, “Nuclear Power, Nuclear Weapons—Clarifying the Links,” makes the case that civilian nuclear power programs actually afford a major leg up for any nation seeking development of a nuclear weapons option.

The third section of this work covers the discussion on “How Well Can We Safeguard the Peaceful Atom?” and the question of how well the IAEA and the United Nations (UN) are likely to do their job enforcing the NPT in the future.

Each chapter within this text has a different contributor to the point of view, but the overall themes are maintained. Plus, some chapters include an analysis of specific Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Articles which are helpful to make their discussion points understood. Some of the contributors’ discussions indicate that the past historical events worked well in policy, but the implementations and enforcements of the policies seemed to be more troublesome.

Additionally, within each section, historical events relating to these discussions are presented to the reader to point out a sense of initiatives that will be needed to strengthen the monitoring for greater security.

This guide helped me to better understand the intense negotiations that the U.S. foreign diplomats and ambassadors in foreign countries must engage in with our allies and other countries to achieve the end result of greater global security.

European Missile Defense and Russia008-000-01109-5. This monograph provides the historical perspective that began with fear around the time of World War II and continued through the 1950s to 1960s regarding Russia’s expansion of their missile defense and nuclear weapons programs. This book also mentions and focuses discussions around the Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Program Treaty between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. (Russia).

Russian flag

Russian Flag

During the late 1990s, the United States became aware that Russia had started to sell some of its missile defense weapons to rogue states within the Middle East. These countries created another possible harm to the United States, rather than a direct attack from Russia. As a result, the U.S. began implementing missile warhead interceptors as part of their long-term defense plan.

The primary focus within the pages of this book is about America’s expansion plan to build missile defense sites in select European and Asian countries to aid in our national defense strategy and Russia’s adversarial challenges to this U.S. strategic plot. The authors have included primary source excerpts from actual conversations and speeches between world leaders that add to each of their points of discussion throughout this work.

(Images are copyright-free from copyright-free-images.com)

(Image of flag and this missile are courtesy of copyright-free-images.com)

Again, the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute has released a title with historical perspectives that can shed insights into today’s current events concerning U.S. and Russia missile defense program relations.

Undergraduate and graduate political science classes with a focus on comparative politics and U.S.-Russian relations may have interest in this book as a supplemental reading text or reference for research.

How can I get these new SSI publications?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy the following  publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: This week’s blog contributor is Maureen Whelan, Senior Marketing Team Leader for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales program office in Washington, DC. Maureen oversees print and digital content dissemination strategy and manages third party free and paid content distribution through platforms and vendors, such as Apple iBookstore, Barnes and Noble.com, Google Play eBookstore, Ebscohost databases, Overdrive, and more.


Solving the Iran Puzzle

December 21, 2010

When I picked up this morning’s paper (yes, I still read a printed newspaper), the first story I read concerned the opening of a franchised Iranian ice cream parlor in Baghdad’s Green Zone. As I read, it struck me that this small development epitomizes the complexities of Middle Eastern politics – specifically, the role of Iran as a regional power and its continuing friction with America. For example, the Iraqi owners of the Ice Pack franchise stated that they would have preferred owning a McDonald’s, but it was cheaper and less expensive transportation-wise to deal with the Iran-based company – and there was less chance of having their store blown up! Yet the article also pointed out that Iran is not popular among Iraqis, and the owners were not publicizing the origins of their store. Economic power, political pariah – how does Iran fit into the Middle Eastern puzzle?

You can find some interesting answers in The Iranian Puzzle Piece: Understanding Iran in the Global Context, a slim but substantive collection of articles from the Marine Corps University Press. The experts whose opinions appear in this little book generally agree that, despite the outlandish and outrageous pronouncements of some of its leaders, Iran’s rulers are not “mad mullahs” mindlessly fostering apocalyptic violence, but faction-ridden yet eminently hard-headed realists whose foreign policies are more influenced by nationalism and Iran’s role as a regional power than by religious fanaticism. One author points out, for example, that despite the 1988-1994 conflict between Shiite Azerbaijan (the only predominantly Shiite nation besides Iran and Iraq) and Christian Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabagh territory, Iran did not support Azerbaijan – seemingly more concerned about possible secessionist impulses within its own province of Azerbaijan than with any sectarian solidarity. Another article notes that Mesopotamia was for centuries a battleground between the Ottoman and Persian empires, leaving a legacy of mutual national distrust not moderated by a common religion (a readable book on these wars would be both interesting in itself and enlightening as to the roots of Iraqi-Iranian relations over time – I wish I had the linguistic knowledge to write one).

The Iranian Puzzle Piece has a lot of information packed into its 100-plus pages, including an Epilogue covering the disputed Iranian presidential election and subsequent repression of the political opposition. I came away with a greater understanding of the complex and ambiguous Iranian political scene, the motivations of its various factions, and insights into the problems stemming from Tehran’s nuclear adventure and implacable animosity towards Israel. I recommend this one highly. You can read it here, get your own copy here, or find it in a library.

One thing about that newspaper article – it said that Ice Pack carried 34 flavors but didn’t say what they were – quince, pomegranate, apricot, Persian melon? I’d love to know!

Country Studies

October 8, 2010

I don’t know about anyone else but, for me, a new Country Studies volume is always a welcome sight. These handsome white hardbacks with the really striking black and red cover graphics are easy on the eyes and first-rate mental nourishment for fact seekers everywhere. The latest one, on Colombia, caught my eye and made me dig around a little for some background on the rest.

The Country Studies/Area Handbooks series, to give it a more official ring, has been funded over the years by the Department of the Army and, since FY 2004, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate (J-5 to those in the know). Since 1988, the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress has prepared these excellent books. I haven’t been able to run down how far back in time the series extends, but it’s been around for more than 30 years – first as Area Handbooks (when the volumes had green covers) and then Country Studies.

Country Studies present “a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.” They originally were intended to focus primarily on lesser-known areas of the world or regions in which U.S. forces might be deployed, so not every nation is included. For more about the series, go here.

Like all of these books, the Colombia volume presents a concise history of the country, followed by sections on geography, population, religions, education, and social movements. Economic structure, transportation and communications, financial regulations and markets, government and politics, the military and national security – you name it, and the subject is covered, and covered well. Of particular interest are a brief section on Illegal Drugs and a historical and political overview of social violence and the development of insurgencies in modern Colombia. I can’t think of a better serious introduction to the problems and prospects of this key Latin American country than this book.

Although most of the Country Studies series done in the past 25 years or so are available online only, printed copies of Colombia, North Korea, Iran, and Cuba are still available. You also can find these and other Country Studies in libraries (WorldCat is a good search tool) and via various bricks and mortar and online used book outlets.


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