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Interviews with Scholars of National Security about their New Books

New Books in National Security Marshall Poe

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Interviews with Scholars of National Security about their New Books

    Josh Reno, "Military Waste: The Unexpected Consequences of Permanent War Readiness" (U California Press, 2019)

    Josh Reno, "Military Waste: The Unexpected Consequences of Permanent War Readiness" (U California Press, 2019)

    Seven decades of military spending during the cold war and war on terror have created a vast excess of military hardware – what happens to all of this military waste when it has served its purpose and what does it tell us about militarism in American culture? Josh Reno’s Military Waste: The Unexpected Consequences of Permanent War Readiness (University of California Press, 2019), explores the myriad afterlives of military waste and the people who witness, interpret, manipulate, and reimagine them.
    In this episode of New Books in Anthropology, he talks to host Jacob Doherty about how engineers within the military industrial complex conceptualize waste, how artists try to demilitarize surplus air force planes, how near earth orbit has filled up with the debris, and how militarized culture shapes the way we understand mass shootings.
    Josh Reno is an associate professor of anthropology at Binghampton University and the author of Waste Away.
    Jacob Doherty is a lecturer in the anthropology of development at the University of Edinburgh.
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    • 1 tim. 17 min
    Magnus Nordenman, "The New Battle for the Atlantic: Emerging Naval Competition with Russia in the Far North" (Naval Institute Press, 2019)

    Magnus Nordenman, "The New Battle for the Atlantic: Emerging Naval Competition with Russia in the Far North" (Naval Institute Press, 2019)

    In The New Battle for the Atlantic: Emerging Naval Competition with Russia in the Far North (Naval Institute Press, 2019), Magnus Nordenman explores the emerging competition between the United States and its NATO allies and the resurgent Russian navy in the North Atlantic. This maritime region played a key role in the two world wars and the Cold War, serving as the strategic link between the United States and Europe that enabled the flow of reinforcements and supplies to the European Allies. Nordenman shows that while a conflict in Europe has never been won in the North Atlantic, it surely could have been lost there.
    With Vladimir Putin’s Russia threatening the peace in Europe following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the North Atlantic and other maritime domains around Europe are once again vitally important. But this battle will in many ways be different, Nordenman demonstrates, due to an overstretched U.S. Navy, the rise of disruptive technologies, a beleaguered NATO that woke up to the Russian challenge unprepared for high-end warfighting in the maritime domain, and a Russia commanding a smaller, but more sophisticated, navy equipped with long-range cruise missiles. Nordenman also provides a set of recommendations for what the United States and NATO must do now in order to secure the North Atlantic in this new age of great power competition.
    Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner. You can tweet her @bethwindisch.
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    • 45 min
    Elizabeth Economy, "The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    Elizabeth Economy, "The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State" (Oxford UP, 2018)

    A trade war with China has dangerous implications for the global economy. What began more than a year ago with President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs has become an unpleasant economic reality for many businesses.
    Recently, the U.S. labeled China a “currency manipulator.” But an even larger long-term threat comes from China’s aggressive espionage offensive that is playing out in behind-the-scenes as of the U.S. and China struggle for global dominance.
    Our guest is Elizabeth Economy, a senior fellow and director of Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Her most recent book, The Third Revolution: Xi Jinpeng and the New Chinese State (Oxford University Press, 2018), explains the background to recent dramatic changes inside China.
    She is among a distinguished group of China specialists who once favored engagement with Beijing, but are now calling for the United States to take a more forceful approach as China attempts to undermine democratic values. We discuss the best ways to navigate this relationship.
    "Managing this relationship is essential," says Elizabeth. "It cannot allowed to it to spiral down too far."
    Richard Davies and Jim Meigs are the host of the terrific podcast “How Do We Fix It?,” on which they talk to the world’s most creative thinkers about, well, how to fix things. Lots of things. Important ones. Highly recommended. You can find “How Do We Fix It” on Apple Podcasts.
     
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    • 30 min
    Alice Hill, "Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Alice Hill, "Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption" (Oxford UP, 2019)

    Climate change impacts-more heat, drought, extreme rainfall, and stronger storms-have already harmed communities around the globe. Even if the world could cut its carbon emissions to zero tomorrow, further significant global climate change is now inevitable. Although we cannot tell with certainty how much average global temperatures will rise, we do know that the warming we have experienced to date has caused significant losses, and that the failure to prepare for the consequences of further warming may prove to be staggering.
    Building a Resilient Tomorrow: How to Prepare for the Coming Climate Disruption (Oxford University Press, 2019), edited by Alice C. Hill and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz, does not dwell on overhyped descriptions of apocalyptic climate scenarios, nor does it travel down well-trodden paths surrounding the politics of reducing carbon emissions. Instead, it starts with two central facts: climate impacts will continue to occur, and we can make changes now to mitigate their effects. While squarely confronting the scale of the risks we face, this pragmatic guide focuses on solutions-some gradual and some more revolutionary-currently being deployed around the globe. Each chapter presents a thematic lesson for decision-makers and engaged citizens to consider, outlining replicable successes and identifying provocative recommendations to strengthen climate resilience.
    Between animated discussions of ideas as wide-ranging as managed retreat from coastal hot-zones to biological approaches for resurgent climate-related disease threats, Hill and Martinez-Diaz draw on their personal experiences as senior officials in the Obama Administration to tell behind-the-scenes stories of what it really takes to advance progress on these issues. The narrative is dotted with tales of on-the-ground citizenry, from small-town mayors and bankers to generals and engineers, who are chipping away at financial disincentives and bureaucratic hurdles to prepare for life on a warmer planet. For readers exhausted by today's paralyzing debates on yearly "fluke" storms or the existence of climate change, Building a Resilient Tomorrow offers better ways to manage the risks in a warming planet, even as we work to limit global temperature rise.
    Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner. You can tweet her @bethwindisch.
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    • 44 min
    Jenna Jordan, "Leadership Decapitation: Strategic Targeting of Terrorist Organizations" (Stanford UP, 2019)

    Jenna Jordan, "Leadership Decapitation: Strategic Targeting of Terrorist Organizations" (Stanford UP, 2019)

    One of the central pillars of US counterterrorism policy is that capturing or killing a terrorist group's leader is effective. Yet this pillar rests more on a foundation of faith than facts. In Leadership Decapitation: Strategic Targeting of Terrorist Organizations (Stanford University Press, 2019), Jenna Jordan examines over a thousand instances of leadership targeting—involving groups such as Hamas, al Qaeda, Shining Path, and ISIS—to identify the successes, failures, and unintended consequences of this strategy. As Jordan demonstrates, group infrastructure, ideology, and popular support all play a role in determining how and why leadership decapitation succeeds or fails. Taking heed of these conditions is essential to an effective counterterrorism policy going forward.
    Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner. You can tweet her @bethwindisch.
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    • 51 min
    C. J. Alvarez, "Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the US-Mexico Divide" (U Texas Press, 2019)

    C. J. Alvarez, "Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the US-Mexico Divide" (U Texas Press, 2019)

    Recent debates over the building of a border wall on the U.S.-Mexico divide have raised logistical and ethical issues, leaving the historical record of border building uninvoked. A recent book, written by UT Austin professor Dr. C.J. Alvarez, offers an over one-hundred-year history that extends to before the building of a border wall in 1990. Border Land, Border Water: A History of Construction on the US-Mexico Divide (UT Press, 2019) recounts the history of how both US and Mexican government agencies surveyed, organized, and operationalized land and water from 1848 until 2009. By centering the relationship between government agencies and border policing, Alvarez clearly shows how construction and manipulation of the border space’s natural features maintained the political and geographical form of the nation-state, how it reproduced the notion of the border space as something needing to be controlled and dominated, and how it transformed the border space into one of economic possibility and growth.
    The history of construction and hydraulic engineering on the divide is largely about the opposing forces of border building to keep certain people and things out, and border building to let certain things in. Alvarez lays bare this tension between tactical infrastructure and trade infrastructure both as forces that have organized border life. During the 1960s and 70s, “the ports of entry began to embody the ever-deepening contradictions embedded in policies designed to accelerate sanctioned economic exchange on the one hand while seeking to decelerate black market commerce on the other,” Alvarez writes (143). By the turn of the 21st century, Alvarez argues, most of the police construction on the border was designed to manage the negative effects of previous building projects and policies. In regards to the completion of the 2009 border fence, Alvarez writes, “It was overbuilding designed to compensate for an unsustainable immigration system, unsustainable ‘drug wars,’ and an unsustainable politics of scapegoating noncitizens. Far more successful at achieving its stated goals, however, was the infrastructure of cross-border commerce” (222).
    Dr. Alvarez utilizes extensive government records from the binational agency International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC)/ Comisión Internacional de Límites y Aguas (CILA), records from Army Corps of Engineers, the INS, and the prodigious W.D. Smithers photograph collection from the Harry Ransom Center. The number of photographs included in the manuscript shows the vastness of the US-Mexico divide's natural landscape, shows how agencies attempted to make sense of such vastness, and shows what they constructed. Border Land, Border Water is a must-read for historians of the US-Mexico divide, environmental historians, and anyone interested in better understanding from a historical perspective current calls construction on the border.
    Dr. Alvarez, “Chihuahuan Desert History” School for Advanced Research Colloquium Talk
    Jonathan Cortez is a Ph.D. candidate of American Studies at Brown University. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @joncortz and on their personal website www.historiancortez.com
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    • 1 tim.

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