Small Wars Journal

The Sovereignty Solution: A Commonsense Approach to Global Security

Fri, 12/23/2011 - 6:24am

I'm in the process of transitioning from the military and SWJ.  After a short vacation, I will probably head off to study revolution or go and teach high school students.  I still have some time to make a decision.

I've shared a little bit of my professional experiences with y'all throughout this last 1.5 years as it directly related to one tour in one town, but for the most part, I wanted to use my time at SWJ and my remaining time in the Army to help those of you seeking to understand war and find better solutions to today's problems by introducing you to others with new ideas.  There's a small group of academics, officers, and enlisted personnel who have been deeply entrenched in the wars over the last decade.  When I say deep, I mean it.  "Seeing the Elephant" or "Knowing the Face of War" is not a careless remark they haphazardly throw around because of one six month tour of service.  You won't recognize our names mostly because we were behind the scenes. 

As, I closed out, I wanted to figure out how I could capture a final message.  My Foreign Policy article was a start.

Yesterday, I received an early Christmas present from a dear friend.  She is one of the few anthropologist who focus strictly on conflict, and she's been struggling for a while on how to say what seems to be common sense for so many of us.  A long time ago, she taught me my first course in anthropology.  She had two rules: 1. Don't use the word culture, 2. People are People.  Where I come from, there's a similar country song that goes "God is great, Beer is Good, and People are Crazy."  I asked her if she really had to go to Harvard to learn those big ideas.  She didn't learn her wisdom while in school.  She learned it from studying tribes while fighting in Africa.

So, as I get close to saying goodbye, I would like to extend this gift to you.

The Sovereignty Solution: A Common Sense Approach to Global Security

by Anna Simons, Joe McGraw, Duane Lauchengco

A Naval Postgraduate School professor and her Special Forces coauthors offer a radical yet commonsensical approach to recalibrating global security. Their book discusses what the United States could actually do to restore order to the world without having to engage in either global policing or nation-building. Two tracks to their strategy are presented: strengthening state responsibility abroad and strengthening the social fabric at home. The authors' goal is to provoke a serious debate that addresses the gaps and disconnects between what the United States says and what it does, how it wants to be perceived, and how it is perceived. Without leaning left or right, they hope to draw many people into the debate and force Washington to rethink what it sends service men and women abroad to do.

As for me, I would recommend to stop listening to the same broken records! 


I was fortunate to meet Dr Simons and LTC McGraw in Shindand, Afghanistan. Based on our conversation, she recommended the book which I read & enjoyed, and recommend to other interested in our foreign policy. But because it recommends a hefty dose of common sense, I doubt the ideas they put forth will ever be implemented.